Friday, December 24, 2021

Merry Christmas Eve

We are spending Christmas in our home on Mountain Island Lake again this year. With Covid still the news headliner, especially with the prolific spread of the new Omicron variant, our celebration will be very small. Our kids have come, and the five of us will stick close to the house except for outdoor activities.  

All the meals have been planned and the groceries purchased, so we are all set. We love to play games and work puzzles, so occupying ourselves will not be an issue. And with temperatures hitting 70 degrees on a couple of the days, I think some kayaking will take place as well.

The photo on the left is of a Santa that we purchased for my mother-in-law many years ago. She collected Santas, and it was always fun to shop each year to see if we could find a unique one for her. This one was perfect as we felt it captured her love of all things Santa while at the same time representing what Christmas is all about. She loved it, and it sat out all year long on the fireplace hearth next to her chair. After she died in 2020, we brought this one (along with several others) to our house. I smile each time I see it, and remember fondly the wonderful woman I was blessed to call my second mother for most of my adult life.

We woke up to another beautiful sunrise this Christmas Eve. Wishing all who believe a Merry (and healthy) Christmas!

Mountain Island Lake

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Lake Living

Mountain Island Lake
Mountain Island Lake continues to amaze me. We are so happy with our decision to live on this beautiful North Carolina lake. The skies are fantastic, and we enjoy getting out on the water. But the best part is waking up each morning to see what the sunrise looks like. And then during the day, keeping a watch out for the backyard birds. They are a source of endless entertainment for me!

our backyard

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

New Covid Variant

The world was still reeling from the rapidly-spreading Delta variant of Covid-19, which was first discovered in late 2020, when a new variant was detected in South Africa in early November. Named Omicron, the first United States case was found in San Fransisco on November 28th. To date, 19 states have reported at least one case of Omicron. It appears to be a fast-spreading variant, but there is not enough data to determine how deadly it will be. 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is now recommending that all vaccinated adults "should" get a booster shot. Previously the statement was all vaccinated adults "may" get a booster shot. The World Health Organization is stating that the variant poses a "very high" global risk. 

As we head into Christmas and all the traveling and gathering that people will do, I suspect every state will have Omicron cases before the end of the year.

The sign of the times are still with us...ho, ho, ho.

sign of the times

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Thanksgiving 2021

Virginia highway sign
Well, we certainly didn't think we would still be worrying about Covid when another Thanksgiving rolled around, but here we are again. 

We kept our celebration small, driving to Virginia to spend the holiday with our son and daughter-in-law, and the grand-pup Monty. As we traveled on Thanksgiving Day, the traffic wasn't super-bad.

We had a fun weekend of food, games and pickleball with some nice people we met at a nearby park. To get us in the Christmas spirit, we went to the Meadowlark Botanical Gardens for their Walk of Lights. While it was a little chilly out, there was no wind so it made being outdoors at night bearable. It was a lovely light display for such an inconspicuous little botanical garden.

Thanksgiving weekend

The drive home on Monday was more heavily trafficked, but we still were able to make good time with our travels. Now to tackle Christmas cards, shopping and decorating to get ready for Christmas!

sunset the day we got home

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Pickleball in Paradise

Sandals South Coast
As mentioned in the last post, we went to Jamaica on November 7th for a week-long stay at the Sandals South Coast. There were over 30 of us from the greater Charlotte area on the trip for this pickleball adventure. Sandals is an all-inclusive, adults only resort. The only negative is the hour and a half bus trip on precarious roads to get to the resort. 

The grounds of the hotel are fantastic, resembling a botanical garden oasis. There are numerous restaurants and swimming pools, and of course multiple pickleball courts. Though the courts are striped on tennis courts, they functioned well for our purposes.

Due to the heat and humidity, we limited our play to several hours in the morning. This left the afternoons and evenings free to swim in the ocean or pools, rest on the many loungers, or take advantage of the water sport options. We did drills and had coached play, and the week culminated with a round robin tournament on Saturday, followed by a banquet that evening. All the people in our group were super-nice and we made some new friends that we will continue to see in Charlotte. I feel like I learned some new game strategy, and hope to put those into play.

On Friday (two days prior to departure), Sandals provided Covid tests to anyone in our group who had been fully vaccinated. Those who had not been vaccinated had to wait until Saturday for their tests per new United States entry requirements. Our appointments were at 11:15, and we were able to walk right in to the testing room. This test was very different than the one we completed prior to travel. It involved the long testing stick, which felt as though they were literally picking your brain. It definitely brought tears to my eyes. Later that evening we got our negative test results back, thankfully.

flying home
On Sunday the same bus and driver repeated the harrowing drive back to Sangster International Airport. The checkin line at the airport was pretty long, but moved quickly. Our plane boarded on time, and again we had a very civil group of passengers on the flight. With all the horror stories of passengers yelling and even striking flight attendants over the mask mandate, you never know what might happen. But while this trip went fairly smoothly, I am not in a hurry to leave the country again anytime soon. It's just a lot of hassle right now.

Friday, November 19, 2021

First International Travel Since Covid-19 Arrived

Sangster International Airport
For the first time since Covid began and the country went into lockdown more than 19 months ago, we boarded a plane and traveled outside the United States. In January of this year we booked a pickleball adventure to Sandals Southcoast in Whitehouse, Jamaica with the Lake Norman Pickleball Club. Of course at the time we had no idea if the trip would be cancelled or not due to the pandemic. I'm not going to lie, part of me wished it would be rescheduled to next year as we agonized over whether it was smart to travel yet.

In the end, there were many things that aided our decision to go. We both are fully vaccinated and have the booster shot. A negative Covid test is required before entering Jamaica as well as upon departure. The three hour flight was direct, so there was no additional exposure at another airport. We would be staying in an all-inclusive resort the whole week, and the staff there is all vaccinated and required to be masked at all times. There is lots of outdoor dining and our pickleball play would be outside as well. We decided to take the calculated risk and go on the trip.

Within seven days of travel we were required to complete online paperwork and submit it to the Jamaican government so they could authorize our travel to their country. We also had to give them proof of insurance that would cover us in the event we tested positive for Covid while in Jamaica. That policy was included by Sandals as part of our reservation, and they had sent us a copy of the policy.

Three days before departure we went to the local CVS to take the antigen test. This was the first time either of us has needed to be tested during Covid, so we were a little apprehensive. We made our appointments online, then parked in the designated testing spots in their lot. We texted that we had arrived, and were directed to the back door of the pharmacy. There we were met by a nurse, who led us to a back office. The three of us were the only ones in the room. She opened up kits and handed us each a nasal swab, and directed us to swirl the swab several times in each nostril. We then placed our swabs in their respective vials, and that was that. About an hour later we received our negative test results.

Sunday morning we arrived at Charlotte International Airport 2 1/2 hours before our flight. We both have TSA pre-check with our Global Entry Card, so we felt that was a sufficient amount of time. The check in process with American Airlines was completed quickly, and the TSA line was short. I, however, was selected for additional screening. A female agent swabbed my hands with a wipe and then looked for traces of explosives. At the gate both of us, along with a dozen or so other passengers on our flight, were called to the counter to have our passports screened again. It seemed really strange since the passports had already been reviewed by the check in personnel and security agents.

The plane was boarded in an efficient manner, and I'm happy to say that all the passengers were well-behaved. No one had to be reminded to leave their masks on during the flight, and there was no screaming - by adults or kids! I spied a rainbow out the window, and chose to believe it was an omen that we would have a wonderful vacation. I wasn't wrong...more in the next post.

Saturday, November 6, 2021


sign at local Target store
It's been awhile since I did an update on what's going on with Covid-19. For 20 months we have been dealing with coronavirus, watching as it became a worldwide pandemic. While some of the statistics are encouraging, we are definitely not out of the woods yet.

Here's where things stand today: North Carolina has had 1.49 million cases and 18,264 deaths. In the United States there have been 46.4 million cases and 754,000 deaths. Worldwide there have been over 219 million cases and 5 million deaths. The United States is only at a 58.3% full vaccination rate. Worldwide that number is a discouraging 39.9%.

With such a low vaccination rate, you can't help but wonder if the virus will continue to mutate, such as it has done with the Delta variant. And if so, what does that mean to those who are fully vaccinated? Even though we have had the booster shot, will that protect us from the mutations? At the moment, there are no answers to these questions. We continue to mask up and socially distance while indoors. Hopefully that is enough.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Fun Times!

Life has been pretty busy lately! Our community participated in the 4th Annual Mount Holly Lantern Parade, so for the past several months we have been constructing lanterns. Minion lanterns, to be exact. We made two large minions, four smaller minions and a handful of bananas. We coordinated with the art class of the Mount Holly Middle School, and the kids made an additional 40 or 50 small minion lanterns. 

The initial construction was wire and duct tape, to which we added mini light strands. This was covered with a shell of translucent white paper, and then topped with colored construction paper. It was a process, to say the least. The parade theme was "Let's All Go to the Movies", and at first I was unsure of doing minions. I'll confess I knew nothing about the characters, so I had to sit down and watch one of the movies. I have to say, the minions were a hug crowd-pleaser. The judges took note of this, and we ended up winning first place in the "Group" category. Not bad for our first rodeo! It was a blast to walk in the parade with the kids. The adults wore yellow shirts, blue suspenders and yellow hard hats, and all of our group wore minion face masks. Those were a great way to ensure mask compliance. I added a unique touch to our costumes by making minion glasses out of canning jar rims.

The theme for next year is "Written in the Stars", which sounds very broad. Our group is getting together tomorrow night to begin planning our entry. The pressure is on since we took 1st this year.

Minion Mania!

We took a quick overnight drive up to Blowing Rock, NC on October 26th to photograph the fall color. We sure found some nice foliage! The previous two Octobers here the colors were virtually non-existent. It did our Midwest hearts good to see the pretty reds and oranges this year.

finding fall
On October 30th Imagery had a Halloween Pet Parade. There were two categories - cutest and best matched. We don't have a dog right now, but we sure enjoyed photographing the event. The parade was followed by a demonstration of the K-9 unit of the Mount Holly police department.

pet parade

On Halloween, the Lifestyle Director brought a band in to perform in the afternoon. The weather was perfect for us to be outside listening to some great music. Jim and I reprised our minion costumes as we knew our lanterns were going to be out on display. We never got a good picture of us the day of the parade, so we were able to rectify that on Sunday.

Minions 'R Us

Tuesday was such a pretty day that we decided to take our kayaks out on Mountain Island Lake. We found some beautiful color along the shoreline as we paddled along, and even startled a blue heron who was napping in the afternoon sunlight. As the weather has since turned rainy and chilly, I'm glad we took advantage of the day. 

Mountain Island Lake

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

A Friendly Visit

We have lived in our new home in North Carolina for exactly two years. The first four months were filled with getting settled, making new friends, and participating in the many activities going on in this community. Then Covid hit, and things came to a screeching halt. Due to that, we have had very little company here. This past weekend Jim's former business partner and his wife flew in for a few days. We have a great relationship with them, and picking them up at the airport was like old home week. 

We had a wonderful time catching up, and showing them some of the sites of our new hometown. Friday we went to Uptown Charlotte (they don't call it downtown here!), walked some of the greenway and explored the urban parks. Ted went to Whiskey Club with Jim Friday night, while Jill and I watched a documentary and then a movie on Netflix.

Saturday some friends took us out on a nice pontoon boat on Lake Norman. It was a beautiful day, and the lake wasn't too crowded. Sunday following brunch, Jill and I took our kayaks out on Mountain Island Lake. The temperature was perfect, and we spotted an egret, turtles and blue herons while out on the water. Their flight left later that day, so we had a quick bite on our patio before taking them to the airport. The visit was way too short, but very sweet!

visit with friends

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Road Trip

We were going to head north to see our son and daughter-in-law for a visit, so we decided to stop someplace new on the way there. We settled on going to Williamsburg, Virginia. Neither of us had been there before, so it was all new to us despite its old age. We enjoyed learning the history of the previous capital of the Virginia Colony. Founded in 1699, it was the location of the first permanent English-speaking settlement in the New World. Fortunately the rain held off and we were able to enjoy the self-guided walking tour. We also visited the College of William and Mary, which is the second oldest institute of higher learning in this country.

Williamsburg, Virginia

The next day we drove to Yorktown, Virginia. It is one of the eight original shires formed in Colonial Virginia in 1682. Yorktown is the site of the last major battle of the Revolutionary War. We stopped at Colonial National Historic Park to pick up a driving map so that we could visit important locations for the siege that took place in the area.

Yorktown, Virginia

Following lunch in Yorktown we proceeded to our son's house. The next morning we went into D.C. proper. We walked the mall area, and enjoyed seeing the Eisenhower Memorial and the WWI Memorial. They are both new since our last visit to D.C. Saturday we visited a botanical garden and a winery. The weekend also included an early celebration of my birthday. It was a great trip!

Washington, DC

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Follow Up on the Booster Shot

We got the Pfizer booster shot last Wednesday, and the only side affects for us were a sore injection site arm and a little lethargy the next day. By Thursday evening I felt just fine, and that was that. I will certainly take those minor inconveniences versus getting Covid.

Yesterday our community had its first fall festival. Many volunteers worked for months to pull it together, and what a great job they did! It was a beautiful day, which was a blessing. We started the morning with a car/truck/motorcycle show along with coffee and donuts. People brought their unusual/unique/classic vehicles, and the Ford dealership provided a few new vehicles for display as well. We took Jim's Indian motorcycle and his 2007 Porsche 911 Carerra Cabriolet to the show. There were 15 vehicles in all, so that's not a bad start for a first time event.

In the afternoon there were about 30 booths for people to shop at or learn about local services. There were wine and beer vendors as well. One of our residents is a DJ, so he had the music going. There was also a food truck available. When the booths closed down, the live band started up. They were really good, and got a lot of people up and dancing. It was nice to have some outdoor fun, meet some new people who have moved in recently, and forget about Covid for awhile.

this morning's sunrise

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Getting a Boost

booster shot
Yesterday my husband and I received the Pfizer Covid-19 booster shot. As soon as we heard it was recommended and approved for those age 65 and over, we scheduled our appointments at Walgreens. We arrived a few minutes early, filled out the paperwork, and quickly received our shots. The pharmacist did a great job, and I barely felt the injection.

So far we are doing well. Neither one of us has a fever, but our injection arms are pretty sore today. I was thinking of the irony of the fact that my left arm was finally pain-free following my frozen shoulder surgery a couple months ago, and now it hurts due to the shot! I will definitely take a couple days of arm pain to avoid getting Covid, that's for sure. 

All these break through cases (vaccinated people who are getting the Delta variant of Covid despite their vaccines) are pretty nerve-wracking. I know that vaccinated folks are pretty unlikely to end up in the hospital or die from Covid, but I don't want to get it in the first place. Who knows what the long-term repercussions will be from having the virus in your system?

As of yesterday in the United States, 213,752,856 people or 65% of the population have received at least one dose of the Covid vaccine. Overall, 185,265,610 people or 56% of the population have been fully vaccinated. We are still so far from the 70% vaccination rate goal.

In terms of the booster shot, over 2.8 million Americans had received the shot as of a couple days ago. Nearly 1 million have appointments scheduled to get their third dose. Keep in mind that as of right now, only the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for its booster. Those who received the Moderna series or the Johnson & Johnson single shot are still having to wait for government approval of boosters.

With so many people in the U.S. refusing to be vaccinated at all, despite the rising numbers of deaths in unvaccinated people, all we can do is take the steps to protect ourselves. Hopefully the third shot will help keep our defenses in place so that, in addition to good hygiene and mask wearing, we can remain virus-free.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

May the Mask be with You

As we roll into the last week of September I find myself busy once again making new face masks. My neighbors were looking for a mask with a filter holder to give them an additional layer of protection, so I volunteered to make them each one. While I was at it, I made myself one with a filter holder as well. We may be going on a flight in November (though who really knows with the way the Covid numbers are still rising), and I decided having a third layer would be a good idea for me as well. Then, since I was on a roll, I made a few other new ones for myself to change things up. If I need to wear a mask, it might as well be cute, right?

Looking back at my blog posts from last year, it was at the beginning of April, 2020 that I sewed my first pandemic face masks. I had no idea that I would still be making them nearly 18 months later. It's just crazy!

This morning we were awake early (as usual) so we decided to walk down to Sunflowers Point to watch the sun rise. It is a short distance from our house, which is nice, so we can take a towel to wipe the dew off the chairs and bring our tea/coffee along. It was a beautiful day, and we were joined by a blue heron in the cove. I cannot say enough times how blessed we are to live here! It was such a great decision to make our retirement move when we did. I can't imagine a better spot in which to weather a pandemic.

sunrise at Mountain Island Lake

Saturday, September 18, 2021


view of Grandfather Mountain from the condo

With the Covid-19 numbers still so grim, it is hard to decide if one should travel or not. We decided to take a three day trip to Banner Elk, NC to stay with some friends in their condo. It is only 2.5 hours from us, so there was no need to stop for gas or a meal. Located in Beech Mountain, the setting is beautiful, and the air is cooler and drier than here in the Charlotte area.

We had a wonderful time playing pickleball at the Beech Mountain Club, hiking in Roan Mountain, taking a walking tour of the town of Banner Elk, and enjoying the diverse landscape of the area. We made all but one of our meals in the condo, and the last night together we ate in town but dined outdoors. We were as safe as we could possibly be, and it was fun to catch up with our friends, play cards on the balcony and just enjoy the fabulous views. It was definitely a respite from the heat we have been having here at home.

Banner Elk area

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Labor Coviday

This past weekend we celebrated Labor Day weekend in the United States. Typically marking the end of summer in the eyes of many people, the weekend is normally packed with activities. Due to Covid, those activities were outdoors again this year. 

The weekend was pretty full with pickleball Friday morning followed by a street fest in downtown Mount Holly, complete with a live band and food trucks. It was a beautiful evening to sit in our chairs on Main Street. Saturday morning Jim and I put our kayaks in on Mountain Island Lake at 7:00. We wanted to catch the sunrise as well as the steam rising up off the water. We captured both, and had the lake pretty much to ourselves at that hour. It was my first time kayaking since my shoulder surgery, and it went well.

sunrise on Mountain Island Lake

Saturday night was the monthly game night with two other neighbors, and the weather was so nice that we were able to play outdoors on a patio. Sunday night was mixed doubles pickleball here on the community courts, and Monday night we attended an outdoor concert here.

The down side of the weekend was that we learned over a dozen members of our community currently have Covid. It appears to have come from a large indoor gathering held here last weekend, at which no one was masked. While our county does not have a mask mandate for indoor activities, the CDC has said people should wear a mask indoors if they are not able to socially distance. We do not attend any large events indoors, and even with small ones I always wear my mask. Because of a delay in relaying information about the outbreak, many more people have been exposed. It is unfortunate that no one was warned before the holiday weekend. It's too soon to tell how many residents will be impacted by this.

Speaking of Covid, things continue to get worse here and around the world. It seems like new variants pop up each week, and it sounds like the latest - MU - may be resistant to our vaccinations. The government is very close to recommending a booster shot beginning September 20th. I won't hesitate to get it. 

Here are the latest coronavirus numbers: North Carolina has had 1.26 million cases and 14,848 deaths. In the United States there have been 40.2 million cases and 650,000 deaths. Worldwide there have been 219 million cases and 4.5 million deaths. The numbers are grim, there are still too many unvaccinated people in the US, and false information continues to be spread on social media. I'm not sure what it will take to get us to the goal of a 70% vaccination rate.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Welcome September

Today is the first of September, and we are on the downhill slide into Labor Day weekend. We finally had some much needed rain yesterday, but could certainly use some more. The better news is that the upper 90s is out of the forecast for awhile. It has been so hot and humid here, and while we had the same weather in the summer when we lived in St. Louis, this has been an unusually long stretch of uncomfortable temperatures and humidity.

Our weekend is pretty full with pickleball on Friday, game night with two other neighbors on Saturday, more pickleball Sunday night, and a concert in the community Monday evening. It should be a great weekend!

Today was my 12th physical therapy session. Andrew keeps pushing me with additional exercises, and it has really made a difference. My range of motion in the left arm is nearly as good as my right arm in a couple of raised positions, and all positions are much better than prior to surgery. I continue to do my own therapy at home once on the days I see the PT and twice on days when I don't. Beginning next week I will cut down to two times a week with Andrew, and his suggestion is just two weeks of that. As we might go visit friends the middle of September, the schedule may need to be juggled a bit. My shoulder is still achy, so I hope after a couple more weeks of therapy that will go away.

Mountain Island Lake sunrise

Thursday, August 19, 2021

2nd Covidversary

Well, I certainly never anticipated when I wrote the post "Covidversary" last August that we would still be talking about this a year later. Despite the availability of vaccines the U.S., and indeed the world, are still crippled by Covid-19. Counties and cities here are backpedalling, and mask mandates are going back in place. Suggestions that we will all need a third shot 8 months following our other two vaccines are being made. In fact a friend of mine in St. Louis has already received hers because her immune system is compromised.

Today is our 43rd wedding anniversary. Unlike last year we are not going to a restaurant for dinner because things are very up in the air right now. The county we live in and the one we shop/dine in do not require masks, so we do not feel safe eating inside a restaurant right now. Instead Jim is grilling steaks and we will enjoy a nice, safe dinner at home. Maybe once the masks go back in place and tables are again separated in restaurants we will dine inside again, but we are not there yet.

So far our community has been silent on the growing numbers of covid cases, including the breakthrough ones where fully vaccinated people are getting the virus. I am wearing a mask whenever I go into any of the buildings here if others are also inside. I don't care what anyone thinks about it. I'd rather err on the side of caution. I've managed to go 17 months without getting covid, and I'd like to keep it that way. I know the shots will keep me from getting so sick that I need to be hospitalized, but who wants to catch it in the first place? No one knows what the long-term consequences of the virus will be on our internal organs.

So where do things stand today? North Carolina has had 1.13 million cases and 13,969 deaths. In the United States there have been 37.3 million cases and 624,000 deaths. Worldwide there have been 209 million cases and 4.4 million deaths.

While it can be easy to get discouraged in light of what's going on, at the end of the day I can only do my part to make things better. I'll still wear a mask, maintain social distance, and wash my hands often. And be grateful that I live where I do, because waking up to this in the morning certainly helps ease the frustration I have that others have not and are not doing their part.

Mountain Island Lake

Monday, August 16, 2021

Where's the Pot of Gold?

rainbow but no gold
We have been having some strange weather lately. Tropical Storm Fred to the south has been unpredictable, and the forecasters keep saying each day that we will be getting rain. And each day it gets cloudy, a little windy, and some thunder rolls in. But rainfall has been negligible. Following what little rain we got yesterday, this vibrant rainbow appeared in the northeastern sky. That was a consolation prize, I suppose.

While we need the rain, I really hope the forecast for today is wrong as it is so often. We are hosting two pickleball clinics tonight on our outdoor courts. The first hour at 7:00 is for beginners, and then my husband and I will take those 8 students to the tennis courts (which are also striped for pickleball). We will work with them on what they learned for an hour or so. At 8:00 the instructor will then work with 8 advanced beginners on the pickleball courts for an hour and a half to help them improve their skills. 

When the sign up was posted for the two clinics, they filled in a few hours. So we have a second set being offered next Monday, and those signups filled immediately as well. It's obvious we have a huge need (and desire) for these types of clinics here. I just hope we can get them in, because rescheduling could be incredibly difficult. Here's hoping that our pot of gold is filled with sunshine in a couple of hours!

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Good News Day

This morning was my followup visit to the surgeon's office. Of course, I did not get to meet with the surgeon but instead with his physician assistant. He was really kind, answered all of my questions and checked on my range of motion. He also went over the photos we were given of the surgery itself. We had no idea what we were looking at, so it all made a lot of sense once he reviewed them with us. It was all quite interesting, and I could see why my rotation was so limited and where the pain was coming from. 

He stressed the need to keep the arm moving, to do exercises at home throughout the day, and he would like to see me in physical therapy five days a week. That is not going to happen for a number of reasons, but I will go three days a week for awhile in addition to doing my therapy at home. Most importantly, he released me for driving AND to play pickleball! As I was originally told I would be out 6-8 weeks, this was welcome news indeed. He said there is nothing I can hurt or screw up, so do whatever feels okay. He just doesn't want me lifting more than a case of water at this point. My followup appointment is in 6 weeks, and I suspect that will be the last time I have to see them.

This afternoon was my third physical therapy session. It went fine, though certain exercises hurt quite a bit. He is pleased with my progress and feels my range of motion has improved even since Monday's session. So all in all, it was a good news day.

gray treefrog
On another subject, the weirdest thing happened the other night. I went upstairs to close the windows, and as I walked past the bathroom something caught my eye. When I glanced in I could see there was something on the toilet that shouldn't be there. I flipped on the light to see two beady eyes staring at me from the toilet seat. My first thought was a mouse, and how in the world would it climb up a toilet. But then I realized it was a tree frog! And he had pooped on the toilet seat as well. Obviously he isn't toilet trained - ha! I have absolutely no idea how he got in the bathroom on the second floor. Could he have come in through the toilet? It was certainly not something you see every day. I called for my husband to come and take a look. He brought a plastic container, scooped the frog into it, and released him outside. Hopefully this is a one and done deal.

Monday, August 9, 2021

One Week Post Op

comfort food from a neighbor
It's been a week since my arthroscopic surgery on my left shoulder. I had my first physical therapy last Thursday afternoon, and it wasn't too bad. Mostly the therapist needed to do a bunch of measurements to see what my range of motion is currently. He did have me do four exercises, which I am to repeat once a day. What I love about this PT practice is that they have a patient portal which has short videos of each of my exercises so I can refresh myself on the correct positions of each. I can also log in my therapy to track what I'm doing. I have been doing the exercises twice a day as the pain is bearable when I do them.

My stomach has still been a little upset ever since surgery. I'm not sure if it is lingering remnants of the anesthesia or the three oxycodone pills I took. Or maybe a combination of both. So far today I feel pretty good, so hopefully I've turned the corner on that small complication. Otherwise, my arm has a dull ache similar to before surgery, and I feel the range of motion is no worse than before. I'm choosing to think that is a good thing since I would guess the surgery messed things up a little in there. I see the physical therapist again this afternoon, and my surgeon's physicians assistant on Wednesday, so I'll get a better read on where I should be after those appointments.

Assuming I feel okay, we will go to Lowe's after my appointment today. We want to look at curtain rods as my neighbor told me they have decent ones. We have nice pull down shades on all our windows, and we like the clean look of that. However, the front bedroom has a lot of light coming in at night from the streetlight. In hindsight, I wish we would have ordered the room darkening shade for that room like we did for our bedroom. But a room darkening curtain should do the trick to make it more comfortable for guests to sleep. We have company coming in a couple weeks, and more in September and October. Of course that's assuming everything doesn't get shut down again due to Covid-19 and the more transmittable Delta variant that's running rampant. With just 50% of the US population being fully vaccinated, it is hard to remain optimistic we will see the end of this any time soon.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021


ready for surgery
Yesterday was my arthroscopic surgery and manipulation to free up my frozen shoulder. I didn't get the call to tell me what time to arrive until 6:00 p.m. the night before. Wow, I guess none of us needs to plan our surgical day or anything. I was told to arrive at the surgery center by 8:00 a.m. That was actually a pretty good time slot since I was not allowed to eat or drink anything after 10:00 Monday night. I also had to shower with Hibiclens Monday night and again on Tuesday morning, so at least we didn't need to leave our house at 6 or anything.

It was raining, so we allowed 45 minutes to get to the center, arriving at 7:50. I had been told that Jim needed to be masked and stay in the waiting room the whole time. Surgery was scheduled for 9:30, and would take 1/2 hour, then I would be in recovery until 11:00. When we got into the waiting room, it quickly became apparent that the mask mandate was not being enforced. Some people had no mask, some wore them around their chin or under their noses, and a few were compliant. Jim looked around in dismay - as did I, frankly since I was having surgery. 

A couple sat across from us without their masks on. The man looked like he had on a long black skirt, and she had on a skirt with a slit so high it left nothing to the imagination. Including her cellulite. It was very unpleasant. My mask stayed firmly in place until I was taken in the back and they exchanged my cute smiley face mask with the generic hospital mask.

I was taken to the back on time, and gestured to Jim that there was an unoccupied, small consultation room that he could sit in to get away from the unmasked. I would have gone to wait in the car, as the registration lady said that was an option since they had his phone number. He was given a number so he could follow my progress, so he elected to stay in the waiting room.

In the back I was taken to the area where the surgical patients are prepped. I had my own cubby space with three walls and a curtain across the front. I was asked many questions, my temperature was taken, and then I was asked to put on a gown and some bootie slippers. As time went on, it was apparent they were running behind. I was thirsty, hungry and had a major headache from not sleeping much the night before. Fortunately, pre-surgery prep included two Tylenol - yay!

A nurse tried to insert a needle for the IV into a vein on my right hand, and she must have struck a nerve. I yelped and about came off the bed. I told her that hurt worse than my shoulder! She was so apologetic, and took the needle out, but had to press hard on the spot to stop the bleeding and to help prevent bruising. Then she tried for a second vein, which thankfully went much more smoothly. But to show how bad it was, she spent a long time cleaning the blood off my fingers and the floor.

I was able to keep my phone with me so I could text Jim with updates. He said he could see on the board that I was still in pre-op. I was able to let Jim know that unmasked black skirt guy got the cubby next to me. He was asked if he had a negative Covid test, which he did, and then asked if he had been vaccinated. Of course he hadn't!

Finally the anesthesiologist came in and explained that he would do a nerve block on the shoulder. I asked if I would be under when he did that - thinking how ugly the steroid shots are - and he said no, he needed me awake so I could answer questions. They did give me what they called a "margarita" through the IV, and honestly I never felt the nerve block at all. I didn't even realize he had done it until my hand started to go to sleep. Finally the surgeon came in and explained he would make two or possibly three holes in the shoulder, depending on what he saw when he got in there.

They finally wheeled me to surgery at 11:00. I helped shift myself from the bed onto the table, and the next thing I knew they were asking me to take deep breaths through the oxygen mask. I was woken up in recovery at 11:30, and was given some ginger ale. She said my mouth and throat might be sore. I said, "Oh, I guess I was intubated then." She shot me a quick glance and replied, "Where did you learn a big word like that?" I figured it wasn't the time or place to explain that I worked for a medical malpractice insurance company for 15 years. At the end of an hour I was helped to get dressed, put into a wheel chair and taken out to the lobby. They had already called Jim to let him know I was ready. In fact the doctor called him at 11:30 and the recovery nurses called him to let him know when I was there and how I was doing.

We got home and I first hydrated, and then tried a little soup and a few soda crackers. I repeated that for dinner, and was feeling okay. The nerve block was still very much in place, and I have to say having a dead arm is really weird. It's like grabbing the hand of a corpse, except the skin is warm not cold. Jim had gone out in the afternoon to get the two prescriptions they ordered. One was an anti nausea pill and the other a generic Percocet. They repeatedly advised to stay on top of the medicine the first few days, setting the alarm every four hours to take the pain pill. The anti nausea was only to be taken one every 8 hours. I took the first pills at 7:30 and felt okay. The second pill I took at 11:30, and that was okay but I just could not fall asleep. It was almost like it had caffeine instead of codeine in it. By the 3:30 alarm I was feeling sick to my stomach, so I took another anti nausea pill. I held out until 4:00 for the pain pill, hoping my stomach would be settled by then. I also had my first physical therapy (PT) scheduled for 10:00, so I wanted some pain medicine in me before I undertook that. But I continued to feel more and more nauseous, and was throwing up by 8:00.

Jim called the doctor's office as suggested if you felt dizzy or nauseated. It took forever for his call to be answered, only to be told that the doctor's assistant was with a patient and would call him back. In the meantime I was due for a pain pill at 8:00 (stay ahead of the pain, they emphasized) but there was no way I was putting another of the Percocets in me again. By 9:30 we still had no call back, so Jim phoned again, another holding period, and the assistant still wasn't free but would call him soon. I went ahead and called the PT office and said there was no way I could make a 10:00 appointment. I hated to give then so little notice, and I know how important it is to do PT the day after surgery. I was hoping they could get me in during the afternoon, but the best she could do was 2:00 tomorrow.

When the assistant finally called back, he said to just take 3 ibuprofen pills every 4 hours. I can alternate those with Tylenol if I want, which is what I am planning to do. The greatest thing is I can plan for 2 Tylenol PM tablets as my last for the night, so hopefully I can get a few hours of solid sleep tonight. Once the nerve block totally wore off, I removed the sling which has been on since the end of surgery. The doctor doesn't want me to wear it, instead he wants me to move the arm as often as possible. I will only wear the sling when I go out, mostly to let other people know to stay away from that arm. I've been icing the shoulder with the shoulder pad I bought as well to keep the swelling down.

So far the pain is bearable, and I've been doing some minor exercises and arm movements so it doesn't re-freeze. Hopefully this pill regimen will work and I won't need anything stronger for the pain. I'll find out after PT tomorrow!

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Things are not Looking Good

Vax or Mask
Well, it appears as though the we have not turned the corner on Covid after all. Case numbers are going up, predominantly due to the Delta variant which is significantly more contagious and spreads faster than the other strains. Delta now accounts for 83% of the nation's Covid cases. The CDC is back-pedaling and suggesting that all people - vaccinated and unvaccinated - again wear masks inside crowded places. Duh! With less than 50% of the US population fully vaccinated, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that keeping masks on would be a good idea. 

For the first time I am seeing (and hearing) a ground swell of sentiment against the unvaccinated. It is due to them that we never reached herd immunity, and the Delta variant was able to take hold. Again, they claim it is a violation of their rights to force them to get a vaccination. But what about the violation of the rights of the vaccinated? Why should we be forced to wear masks again when we did the right thing by getting vaccinated? Until there are severe consequences to those who refuse the shot such as being let go from their jobs, not being allowed into public venues, not being able to board a plane or a ship, we will never convince them to be vaccinated so that we stand a chance or eradicating this deadly virus.

Here is an update on overall Covid statistics. North Carolina has had 1.05 million cases and 13,651 deaths. In the United States there have been 35 million cases (1 million more than I reported two weeks ago!) and 613,000 deaths. Worldwide there have been 197 million cases and 4.2 million deaths. How can so many people just ignore these statistics?

It is certainly possible that more restrictions will be imposed on us in the near future. The results of behaving as if there was no pandemic for the past couple months is taking its toll. 

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Back to Masks?

While Los Angeles last week announced that masks will be mandatory when indoors regardless of vaccination status, other areas are beginning to follow suit. St. Louis County's new mandate goes into effect July 26th. All 50 states are experiencing a surge in Covid cases. We used to hear vax it OR mask it, but now it's vax it AND mask it.

The CDC has not publicly announced that they made a huge mistake in relaxing mask requirements back in May, but they really need to own up to the fact that they should not have stated that vaccinated people no longer needed to wear a mask while in crowds. Expecting the unvaccinated population to do the right thing and mask up was just ridiculous. And the increasing numbers of cases and hospitalizations is proving the point. 

I made the comment to my neighbor, who is a physician, that I can get the shot and not have too much impact on anyone else's life but my own. But a person who refuses to get the vaccine can have a huge impact on my life. We all may have to go back into full masking requirements, if not total lockdown, because of the people who will not get vaccinated. There are about 1,000 counties in the U.S. with vaccination rates of less than 30%. Less than half of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated.

Without the numbers needed to create herd immunity, we will continue to see variants of the virus as evidenced by the one called delta. And now the first case of a mutation called lambda has been discovered in Texas. At some point, the existing vaccines may not protect us from these new variants. We really need the vast majority of the population to get vaccinated before we all end up in full lockdown again. Or worse.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Surgery is a go!

Finally I received a mailed letter from my insurance company stating that my shoulder surgery and the anesthesia has been approved. They then went on to say that they might not pay for it, however. Huh? The correspondence went on to give a laundry list all the reasons why they might not pay. I don't think any of their conditions apply to me, but sheesh. Way to make me feel confident in this situation - not! It's a good thing all I have to do is walk out into my backyard to find my inner peace again!

Mountain Island Lake

Friday, July 16, 2021


mask up!
It's been two months since the CDC (followed by most states) lifted the mask mandate in the United States. I expressed my concerns about this decision in my May 15th blog post. So now that some time has elapsed, what has happened with Covid numbers in this country?

Fueled by the new Delta variant of the virus, which is more easily transmittable, U.S. cases as well as deaths are up significantly in the past couple months. Experts have been quoted as saying that this is now a pandemic of the unvaccinated as they account for 97% of the hospitalizations here. Cases are up in 49 states, despite the fact that 336 million doses of vaccines have been administered. Only 48.9% of our population has been fully vaccinated.

What has been the response to the rising case numbers? Los Angeles County in California is the first to take a step backwards and tighten restrictions. An indoor mask mandate has been put back in place, regardless of a person's vaccination status. Seven other California counties also issued mask mandates, despite the fact that California just lifted all restrictions on June 15th. Will other communities follow suit?

Here is an update on overall Covid statistics. North Carolina has had 1.02 million cases and 13,533 deaths. In the United States there have been 34 million cases and 608,000 deaths. Worldwide there have been 189.2 million cases and over 4 million deaths.

My observation from being out and about is that people are acting as if there is no pandemic. They are crowding into restaurants, concerts, amusement parks, stores, etc. My husband and I are still wearing our masks when indoors, but we rarely see anyone else doing so. Can you imagine trying to get all these people to start wearing masks again? It will be like trying to stuff cats in a bag. Stay safe out there!

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Who Needs Anesthesia?

After my last post about being grateful for having health insurance to cover my upcoming shoulder surgery, a bizarre thing happened. I got a call from the surgeon's office advising me that the anesthesia group used by the surgery center I will be going to is not in the network of my medicare supplemental plan. That means the insurance company will pay the anesthesiologist the in network rate and I will be responsible for the difference. The anesthesia group sent me a form to sign that states I understand they are out of network. So wait - the surgeon is in network and the surgery center is in network, but the anesthesia group they use is not? That doesn't make any sense to me. The woman who called me suggested I call my insurance company and double check on the anesthesia group.

When I talked to the representative at the insurance company, on a phone call that lasted a total of 1 hour and 25 minutes, she advised me that there are no anesthesiologists within 100 miles of where I live who are in network. I should mention that I am in one of the largest medicare supplemental plans in the U.S., and I live in a metropolitan area with a population of 2.6 million people. How is this even possible? I told her it makes it pretty difficult to have surgery when they don't have any anesthesia groups in the plan. She put me on and off hold listening to the same craptastic song over and over while she was checking with various supervisors. The end result was being told that my case was being taken under review, and I would hear in two weeks whether they would consider the anesthesia to be in network or not.

In the meantime I called the broker who sold me the plan to let her know what was going on. She has over 600 medicare clients, and she has never heard of such a thing. She told me she would go further up the ladder in the insurance company than I did, and would have an answer for me within a couple days. Sure enough, two days later she called to tell me what she learned. Apparently this insurance company has a contract with the surgery center where they cover everything that happens at the surgery center under one payment to the center. Since anesthesia falls under that, it will be covered as being in network. Because she knows what she is doing, she got this in writing.

A few days ago a different person from my insurance plan called me asking for the anesthesia code. I have no idea how they will code this procedure, and they probably don't either at this point. So obviously I am still "under review" by the insurance company. I'm sure I haven't heard the end of this yet.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021


Have you ever had a frozen shoulder? It is caused by a thickening or inflammation of the capsule containing tissue in the shoulder, which restricts movement and causes pain. Sometimes it comes on gradually and other times people wake up one morning unable to move their arm. 

Chair from Hell example
My right shoulder froze up over a few months in 2006, to the point where I could not raise my hand high enough to brush my teeth, among other things. I had a manipulation under anesthesia (MUA), where the orthopedic surgeon moved the should to break the capsule and scar tissue free while I was under anesthesia. The afternoon of surgery a Continuous Passive Motion Machine (AKA the Chair from Hell) was delivered to my house, and I spent hours each day putting my shoulder through all kinds of different motions aided by the mechanics of the chair. 

The day following surgery I began physical therapy, which lasted several weeks. There were also numerous exercises I performed at home each day as well. I felt like all I did each day was some sort of therapy. However, I had a pretty good outcome from all of that, gaining back about 90% range of motion in the shoulder.

In March of this year I began experiencing pain in my left shoulder. Even though it has been 15 years, I felt like I knew what was going on. The left shoulder was freezing up. My range of motion in the arm has continued to decrease, while the pain has increased. In reading through some articles and watching YouTube videos by physical therapists, I decided to see if I could do some exercises at home and at our gym here to try to break the shoulder free on my own. Unfortunately, the condition has worsened, so on June 23rd I went to see an orthopedist who specializes in shoulders. They took a few quick x-rays so he could rule out other causes for the pain/limited mobility, and he said everything looks really good there.

We discussed my prior experience, and my options for treatment. He advised that they rarely perform MUAs anymore as it is too easy to break the shoulder. Instead the preferred treatment is arthroscopic surgery, where he will go in and break the adhesions or scarring up. Again I would begin physical therapy the day after surgery, but they no longer prescribe the Chair from Hell, thank goodness. 

Because they are saying my recovery period will be 6-8 weeks, I scheduled the surgery for August 3rd after my pickleball women's league finishes up. There is no reason to rush the surgery as far as the doctor is concerned, so I figured I might as well complete something I really enjoy doing. Fortunately this is not my dominant arm, or I would not have been able to wait on having the procedure done. As for now, I'm having fun (not!) completing the pre-surgery forms and answering all the questions from the various people who will play a part in my care. I feel very fortunate to have the option of surgery due to good medical insurance, so I'm not complaining. Instead I'll work on getting all the things done that I won't be able to do for awhile following the procedure.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Imagery Shutterbugs Part 2

Last night our little photography group met to go over some of the photos we had taken on Saturday. We were short three people, so I'm not sure if they just couldn't make it or if they decided the workshop was not for them.

It was fun to see what captured the attention of the different photographers. In only one case did two of us have the exact same image. At the end of our session on Saturday I shot the blue sky and clouds through a window of the building we were meeting at. Another person saw me, looked up, and took the same shot. Unfortunately we both submitted them for review. But as they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so no big deal.

After we went through all the photos we talked about places we would like to go as a group to take pictures. Several ideas were thrown out, and the workshop leader will now put together a calendar of events for the rest of the year.

Because these are not technical workshops, nor are the photo reviews meant to be critiques, I'll have to decide if I want to continue on with the group. There is a charge for each month, and if all we are going to do is take and look at pictures, I can certainly do that on my own for free. 

Here are a few of my favorites from Saturday morning.

photoshoot collage

Monday, June 28, 2021

Imagery Shutterbugs

A shutterbug is defined as an enthusiastic amateur photographer, so that seems an apt title for this post about a recent photography event in my community. While we had a small group of photographers here at Imagery who met a few times before Covid-19, it all sort of fell apart during the pandemic. 

Last month a representative of the Charlotte Art League came here to do a presentation, "Exploring Life Through Photography". He offered to work with our community through ongoing photography workshops. 

Saturday at 10:00 a.m. Jim and I attended the first meeting, entitled "Explore Your World Through Photography", with 11 residents in attendance. The goal is to keep the meeting to 15 or fewer people for the sake of field trips and photo review. We had a brief introduction, and then split up to go and photograph a defined area of our community. 

We met back up at noon to debrief, and we are each to send our workshop coordinator 10-15 of our favorite photos. He will put them together in a slide show, and we will meet again on the 30th at 6:30 p.m. to review the photos. The goal is not to critique the photos but rather to understand that while we all may be looking at pretty much the same things, we experience them in different ways.

I am very eager to see what everyone comes up with for this challenge. In looking at Jim's photos, while we both shot a few of the same items even though we weren't walking around together, what we focused on in each of the scenes was totally different. That is usually the case when we go out shooting together, so it didn't surprise me one bit. Will that prove to be the case with the rest of the group? It will be interesting to see!

Sunday, June 27, 2021

The City of Angels

Charlotte airport

Our daughter had a big birthday this year, and since she couldn't go on the adventure she had planned due to Covid-19, we decided to have a family vacation in the Los Angeles area to help her celebrate. It was the first time that I have flown in over two years. From the time we entered the airport in Charlotte until we got our bags in LA we were masked - so over eight hours straight. I have so much sympathy for people who routinely wear a mask for that amount of time (or more) due to their jobs. It's a challenge!

ocean view from the house
Our son and daughter-in-law arrived at LAX a little before us, so we met up and went to get the rental car before heading to pick up our daughter. The five of us shared an Airbnb in Malibu for a week. The house was perched on the side of a mountain, and offered mountain views as well as ocean views. It had a small outdoor gym, a hot tub, grill and outdoor tv on the deck, and a pool table inside as well as three bedrooms and two baths. It was perfect for our family.

While the temperatures were unseasonable hot (in the 90s) for a few of the days, we made the best of the situation by doing our sight-seeing in the morning to avoid the heat. We left the air conditioned spots for the afternoon, or just headed back to the house to play games or just hang out. Highlights of the trip included custom gin and tonics on a rooftop patio, the Getty Museum, Huntington Garden, Getty Villa, and a visit to a local wine shop. Face masks were required everywhere when indoors, and even outdoors if you hadn't been vaccinated or were walking to an outdoor table to eat and/or drink.

But of course the best part of the trip was being able to see all of our immediate family for an extended visit. Priceless!