Saturday, May 15, 2021

Covid Update - From Zero to Sixty

face masks
On May 13th the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) did an about-face on their previous recommendations regarding Covid-19 and the wearing of masks. It announced that people fully vaccinated against Covid-19 do not need to wear masks or practice physical distancing in virtually all indoor and outdoor settings. The exception is that masks will still be required on buses, planes, and trains. The CDC suggests that unvaccinated people and those with a weakened immune system should still wear masks, however.

This announcement caught many people by surprise, considering that we had all been told that masks would be necessary until the country reached herd immunity through 70-85% of the population receiving vaccinations. The country as of May 14th stands at a 36.2% vaccination rate. So why the sudden turn around? There is no way to tell who has had a vaccine and who hasn't, and quite frankly the unvaccinated people were the ones less likely to wear masks in the first place. 

It did not take long for North Carolina Governor Cooper to follow suit. He has been more conservative than many of the other governors, so the fact that he immediately jumped on the CDC's bandwagon was surprising to me. On May 14th he announced that the state will remove its indoor mask mandate for most settings. Additionally, the state will lift all mass gathering limits and social distancing requirements. 

It is true that North Carolina's vaccination rate is better than the US average. To date, the state has administered over 7.7 million doses. 51% percent of those 18 and up are at least partially vaccinated, and 46% percent of those 18 and up have been fully vaccinated. That is still a far cry from the number needed for herd immunity.

Again, time will tell if this is the right decision at this particular point in time. For now I will continue to wear a mask when going into crowds, whether indoors or out. And the irony will be that while I am vaccinated, it will appear to everyone else that I am not since I will be masked. Better safe than sorry. I've avoided Covid for this long - I want to keep it that way.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Out of Gas

Following a hack of the nation's largest fuel pipelines, right now 70% of the gas stations in the Charlotte area are out of gas. Fueled, if you'll pardon the pun, by the media making an even bigger deal of the situation, panicked drivers rushed to the stations whether they needed to fill up or not. The parallel to the run on toilet paper at the start of the pandemic cannot be ignored. 

I've no doubt that a number of people filled every available container (legal or otherwise) with gasoline while they could. Both of our cars are, of course, low on fuel. Jim was unsuccessful in finding gas today. Had we known yesterday, we were playing tourist in a couple of small towns somewhat close to us, and there was plenty of gas and no lines. We could have filled up then. A day late and a dollar short...We have nowhere we need to be, so we can sit tight for a bit. I feel sorry for people who do not have the option to wait it out.

I'm happy we were able to play tourist a bit yesterday before we knew there was going to be a fuel crisis. We went to Dallas, NC where they have the Gaston County Museum. We wanted to learn more about the county we now call home, and this was the perfect place. This whole area is heavily influenced by the mills that once operated here, and it was cool to see the equipment that was used. The museum also houses the largest collection of horse drawn carriages in North Carolina, and that was interesting as well. We had lunch in Dallas before heading to Rankin Lake Park in Gastonia. We took a nice hike around the lake to walk off some of our lunch. 

Dallas NC and Rankin Lake

We learned that there are 13 towns that make up Gaston County. We decided that it will be fun to explore each of them.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Motherless Mother's Day

Mountain Island Lake dawn
Mother's Day began bright and beautiful, which seemed a little wrong somehow. This was our first Mother's Day without Jim's mom, and my mom has been gone for 32 years now. It's hard not to be sad on a day that is meant to celebrate motherhood, especially when your own children are nowhere near.

Jim and I made the most of the weekend though. Saturday we went to the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in Charlotte. Moms were admitted free this weekend. We had to get the tickets ahead of time due to Covid. The day was beautiful, and we enjoyed the beauty of the garden, along with the lunch we purchased at the on-site food truck. It was wonderful to be in nature and take photographs again.

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden

Sunday Jim got me flowers and donuts, and he hand-painted a card for me. That was followed by a pickleball lesson taught by a local pro. That afternoon we intended to have one of our neighbors over for dinner, but she was not feeling well so we took the meal to her. 

Mother's Day 2021

As a followup to my previous post, we are very pleased with how our recent remodeling job turned out. The patio door is lovely, and has really opened up our view of the lake from the kitchen and dining areas.

new patio door

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

New Home Improvement

Our current house is the first brand new home we have ever lived in, and actually only the third home we've purchased in 42 years of wedded bliss. It's not perfect since we had very limited options offered by the developer. For us it was all about the lot location anyway. The photo to the left was taken from our back yard a couple of nights ago, so that is the view that sold us on moving here.  We have made a few minor modifications, such as improved shelving in the laundry room, pantry and master closet.

Today we are embarking on a bigger change though. We are removing the two back windows in the dining area and replacing them with a sliding door. This will give us direct access to the patio area. But more importantly it will allow us to have an improved view of Mountain Island Lake while also letting more light into the house. With just the little bit of work that has been done so far, I can already tell that we will love it.

dining area remodel

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Covid Changes in North Carolina


Governor Cooper just conducted a press conference yesterday outlining his latest mandates regarding Covid in the state of North Carolina. Current restrictions are set to expire on Friday, so the new ones go into effect on that day. He is removing the mask mandate for outdoor activities (though it is still suggested that a mask be worn in large gatherings or when social distancing is not possible), but masks will still be required when gathering indoors in public places. The limit on indoor gatherings has been increased from 50 to 100, and on outdoor gatherings from 100 to 200. The governor anticipates further reductions in restrictions beginning June 1.

North Carolina continues to focus on distributing vaccines quickly and equitably. To date, the state has administered over 7 million doses. 48.7% percent of those 18 and up are at least partially vaccinated, and 39.2% percent of those 18 and up have been fully vaccinated. Obviously we are nowhere near where we need to be with vaccinations in order for this pandemic to go away. People are still encouraged to practice the three Ws - wash your hands, wear a mask, and wait 6 feet away from others.

Here are the current Covid statistics: North Carolina has had 971,000 cases and 12,611 deaths. In the United States there have been 32.2 million cases and 573,000 deaths. Worldwide there have been 149 million cases and 3.14 million deaths.

While I am relieved to see the numbers in North Carolina trending in an encouraging direction, I am concerned about not only the number of people who are refusing to be vaccinated but also those who seem to feel that if they have been vaccinated they can go back to life before the pandemic. There are still too many unknowns about this virus and its many mutations, as well as cases of people who have been vaccinated who are contracting Covid. The governor is right to encourage people to continue with the three Ws until most of the population is vaccinated.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Girls Just Want to Have Fun

Yesterday I asked the ladies who live on either side of us if they wanted to go to the UNC Charlotte Botanical Garden with me. One of the things I miss the most about St. Louis is the absolute beauty of the spring season there. North Carolina is pretty in a different way, but the abundance of dogwoods, redbuds, rhododendrons, azaleas, tulips, daffodils, etc. in Missouri are unparalleled, at least in my opinion.

I needed to go to UNC to fill my heart with flowers. Neither of my neighbors had been there, so I was excited to show them what this urban campus has to offer. It did not disappoint at all. The weather was perfect for a stroll along the blooming paths winding through the various gardens. We had a really nice time there, followed by lunch outside at a local restaurant. It almost felt a little normal, despite Covid.

UNC Charlotte

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Gone a Year

April 22nd marked the one year anniversary of the passing of my father-in-law. While much of the past twelve months have seemed to drag by due to Covid, it certainly does not feel like a year ago that we got the call in the middle of the night that he had died. At times like this, I find it easier to express myself through poetry and my photography. Here are my reflections on the anniversary of his death:

tribute to my father-in-law

Friday, April 16, 2021

Hawk vs Eagle

Yesterday we saw the most amazing thing out in the middle of Mountain Island Lake. I was looking out our back window when I saw a bird strike the water. I thought he was fishing at first, but then I noticed another bird circling over his head. Calling for my husband to grab his camera, I reached for mine and we hurried out into the back yard. 

I was stunned to see an eagle in the water, and a hawk diving at him from above. It appeared as though the eagle might be wounded as he did not try to take flight. Instead he used his wings like Michael Phelps doing the butterfly stroke across the lake. Periodically he had to flip back and ward off the hawk with his beak and talons. Eventually the hawk left, and the eagle drug himself out of the water onto the shore. But not before scaring two blue herons out of the water nearby. It was something to see for sure!

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum

Yesterday a small group of us from our neighborhood took a tour of Muddy River Distillery Belmont, NC. Located on the banks of the muddy Catawba River (thus the name Muddy River), the distillery offers hand-crafted rum. We first learned of Muddy River last April when Covid-19 struck and hand sanitizer was nowhere to be found. Muddy River converted one of their lines to making sanitizer, which they gave away to first responders. Then they started selling it to the public, so we went there to purchase some for ourselves. Coincidentally (wink, wink), they also had bottles of their rum for sale. We bought two bottles of that as well.

Muddy Rivers rum and hand sanitizer

We were impressed with both their rum and their community spirit, so when the opportunity arose to take a tour, we jumped on it. Co-founder Robbie Delaney conducted our tour, and he did a fantastic job. It was so interesting to learn about all the ins and outs of producing rum, and we got to sample several of their offerings as well. We both liked the rum with basil, so we purchased a bottle of that. Robbie suggested using it for mojitos, but admitted his favorite was to drink it was in lemonade. We tried that tonight, and he did not lie. It's tasty! We decided that the tour will be a great place to take guests in the future.

Muddy River Distillery

Monday, April 12, 2021

Kayak More, Worry Less

It has gotten warm enough here to take our kayaks out on Mountain Island Lake. I love that we can put our kayaks on their carts and roll them down the street to put into the water. It is one thing to sit in our back yard 100' above the lake, and another to actually be out on the water. We can cross the main channel to get into the back coves that are too shallow for anything motorized to enter. And there we can find the water birds and turtles. It is such a blessing to be retired in this little piece of paradise, especially during Covid-19. It is very easy to socially distance on the water!

kayaking on Mountain Island Lake

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Hoppy Easter

Hoppy Easter!
Today is Easter Sunday, and we are having a quiet celebration at home, just the two of us. Yesterday our community had an Easter Egg Hunt for the grandchildren of residents, including a visit from the Easter Bunny and a food truck serving pizza. We went to pick up our pizza at noon, and decided to say hello to the bunny. Why not? I admire that our lifestyle director is trying to make the most out of keeping us entertained during a pandemic.

Our pickleball club here has regularly scheduled mixed doubles play on Sunday afternoons, and I decided not to cancel it despite the holiday. We normally have 12 or more players on Sundays, but so far I only know of 7 who are coming today. The weather is perfect and it should be 72 degrees at 3:00, so we will have fun despite the low numbers.

Speaking of pickleball, the lifestyle director asked if I would be willing to put on a beginners clinic since we have so many new people moving to the community. I have already done two of these since our club formed in August of last year, and that doesn't take into account the people with whom I have done one on one instruction. It will take place next Saturday, and I limited registration to 12. The event filled in less than a day, and the wait list of 20 is maxed out. Wow! That number even surprised me, and I know how many people have been asking me about learning how to play.

We currently have 65 members in the Pickleball Imagery Club, and I expect that number to grow as we bring these new players onboard. I've been the President since the club formed, and it has become somewhat of an unpaid part-time job for me. I'll need to recruit more people to take over some of my tasks as the year progresses. We did come up with a club logo and offered merchandise earlier this year. The items were marked up slightly to raise money for the club. We anticipate needing to purchase things for pickleball down the road, such as windscreens for the courts. The sale was a success, and a second offering of shirts and hats will be coming online this month.

Pickleball Imagery Club shirts

So another Covid-19 holiday has arrived as we wait for this vicious virus to either be eradicated or enough people to get vaccinated that it won't impact our lives in such a huge way. Happy Easter to all who celebrate this blessed day.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Mini Vacay

Folly Field Beach sunrise
Last week we took off for a mini vacation. First we drove to Hilton Head for a few days, staying in a friend's timeshare unit. We were there at this time last year, before Covid-19 brought all travel to a halt. It is always great to be at the beach, and to be out in nature enjoying the wildlife. Unfortunately, just like last year, the no-see-ums bit the heck out of me. It's not too fun to have to wear long sleeves and pants to walk on the beach, but that's what I had to do. They still got my faces, scalp and hands though.

From Hilton Head we made our way towards Charleston, stopping to visit the Charleston Tea Plantation. This is the only tea plantation in North America, and since I love tea I was eager to see it. While they are not running their trolley tours due to Covid, we still were able to watch some videos on how the tea is grown and harvested, and to sample some tea.

Charleston Tea Plantation

A short distance from Charleston is the Isle of Palms, where we spent another two days visiting old friends from St. Louis. We have all been vaccinated, so we felt safe staying with them. They showed us around the island that they now pretty much call home, and took us on a tour of Charleston as well. What struck me in Charleston was the number of people who did not wear masks, despite posted signs stating that it was required in the city. It's a sad commentary on the people of the United States, I believe. If you don't want to wear a mask, stay home. It is no surprise to me that our Covid numbers are on the rise again in this country.

face mask required

At any rate, it was nice to get away for a short time and visit with friends. It felt a little like getting back to normal.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

More on Covid-19

Governor Cooper passed a new Executive Order regarding Covid-19, which went into effect on March 25th. North Carolina has continued to show improvement in the number of covid cases, and vaccine distribution also increased with 31.7% of North Carolinians over 18 having received at least one dose of vaccine. Due to those facts, the governor decided to again ease some COVID-19 restrictions. The main changes include: the number of people who may gather indoors increased from 25 to 50 and the number of people who may gather outdoors increased from 50 to 100. This Order also fully lifted the restriction on the late-night sale and service of alcoholic beverages on bars, restaurants, and other establishments. The new Order is set to expire April 30 at 5 pm. The state’s general mask mandate remains in effect.

Here are the current Covid statistics: North Carolina has had 916,000 cases and 12,107 deaths. In the United States there have been 30.3 million cases and 549,000 deaths. Worldwide there have been 127 million cases and 2.79 million deaths.

Spring break is taking place right now, and with many states easing restrictions it remains to be seen what will happen with the United States covid numbers after all these travelers return to their homes or schools. It will be a month or so before the numbers will come in and be traced. Then we'll see if restrictions will have to go back in place. It's all a guessing game at this point.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

On Squirrels and Birds

Despite purchasing an 18" hook as recommended by the seller of the new bird feeder I purchased, the squirrels out back have mastered the fine art of dining from the feeder without tripping the anti-squirrel mechanism it contains. This one went through all kinds of gymnastics to reach in and grab a handful of food. She is about to be outsmarted though, as I have purchased a shepherd's hook which will be placed away from any trees.

wily squirrel

The amazing array of birds out back continues to amaze and entertain us each day. It is exciting to see so many birds that I haven't been exposed to before. I am getting a lot of practice with my camera, and enjoying birding as a way to pass the time during the pandemic.

Eastern Phoebe, cardinal and bluebird

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Luck of the Irish

Goin' Green at Imagery
Our 55+ community has been very conservative with events in light of the pandemic. We were fortunate to have not one but two St. Patrick's Day celebrations here, and the weather cooperated so they could be held outside. For the first event we had a man playing a guitar and singing, along with a lady playing bagpipes. A local Irish dance school offered up traditional Irish dances, and a food truck kept us from going hungry. 

Yesterday's event had entertainment by our own local disc jockey. He played Irish songs, including sing-alongs, and asked some Irish trivia questions. The dance school sent a different group of girls to show off their skills. Another food truck was here for that event, though no corned beef and cabbage was to be found. That was okay with me, as I'm not a fan.

Today St. Patrick's Day 2021 closed in a big way with the appearance of a beautiful rainbow over the lake out back. I didn't see a pot of gold, but to be sure it was a glorious sight!

rainbow over Mountain Island Lake

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Jim's Shot in the Arm

Bojangles Coliseum
Jim turned 65 earlier this month, and I was able to schedule his first Covid-19 vaccination on March 6th. He was not able to get an appointment where I went until mid-April, so I went through a neighboring county to sign him up. The vaccines are being given out in multiple locations in that county, but his was at the Bojangles Coliseum. It is not set up as a drive through, which is unfortunate, but inside the building people were spread out and masked. He checked in, filled out a form, and was quickly taken back for his injection. Fifteen minutes later we were on our way home. His arm was a little sore the next day, but he had no other side effects at all.

Like me, he received the Pfizer vaccine, so the wait between shots is 3 weeks. He will return on March 30th for his second vaccination. I think we will rest a little easier once we are both fully vaccinated. We have been super careful in our activities, but not everyone has done the same. So you never know where you might be exposed to Covid. I have to say, it has not been too much of a hardship to stay at home when we can wake up to views like the one we were treated to this morning. Heaven painted a canvas in our backyard.

sunrise on Mountain Island Lake

Monday, March 1, 2021

Covid-19 Vaccine #2 Update


a new dawn

It has been three days since I received my second dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine. As with the first shot, the injection site was sore for a couple of days. Saturday morning when I woke up I felt a little nauseous and I thought, "Uh oh!" Vaccine side effects generally start within a day or two of receiving the shot, and are most common after the second shot. But once I got up and had breakfast, the sensation went away. As I mentioned after the last shot, the tetanus and shingles shots that I have received in the past were way worse than this one in terms of side effects.

Perhaps we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. So often through this pandemic it has seemed as though we we sensing some light, but then something came along and made the tunnel longer. But it does appear that we can be cautiously optimistic this time.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Covid-19 Update

Covid-19 vaccine

Today is a Covid big news day here. First of all, I got my second vaccination this morning through Atrium Health. Their drive through system is the best. You never have to leave your car, and they have it down to a fine science. While there were a few more cars in line than when I went for my first shot, it moved quickly. Again, the most time-consuming part is waiting the 15 minutes after the shot to make sure you don't have an adverse reaction. To say that I am relieved to receive both doses is an understatement! I realize I still have to take the usual precautions - wear a mask in public, socially distance, and wash my hands frequently - but I feel like I have given myself every chance to avoid getting Covid. Now I am eager for Jim to be protected. He turns 65 on Tuesday, and I am hopeful that we will be able to get him scheduled for his first shot quickly. 

The second big thing to happen is that Governor Cooper is removing the Modified Stay at Home order, which required people to stay at home and businesses to be closed between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., effective as of 5:00 p.m. today. The number of people who can gather indoors increased from 10 to 25, while outdoor gatherings remain at 50 in attendance. Other attendance restrictions eased a bit as well, but these are the ones which affect most people. North Carolina's numbers for positive Covid tests and cases as well as hospitalizations due to Covid are trending downwards, so that is why he is easing restrictions.

Here are the current Covid statistics: North Carolina has had 858,000 cases and 11,162 deaths. In the United States there have been 28.4 million cases and 508,000 deaths. Worldwide there have been 113 million cases and 2.5 million deaths.

It's great that the numbers are trending downwards, but we really need everyone to remain vigilant. Hopefully people won't go crazy just because they are vaccinated. It can't be stressed enough that we need to follow the same safety protocols as before we got the shots in order to have a chance at containing and hopefully defeating this beast.

Friday, February 19, 2021

For the Birds

Last spring I got my first bird feeder (with the exception of feeding the hummingbirds over the years). I purchased one specifically designed for finches as we have many goldfinches in the backyard. It has functioned very well, attracting other small birds too. Bird watching has become a favorite thing to do during Covid-19 and the safer at home mandates.

My next door neighbor has multiple feeders in her yard, and while I enjoy watching them, they are too far away for me to be able to capture good bird photos. So this week I ordered a new feeder that was advertised as being able to attract a large variety of birds. I put it on an existing hook that I had used for my second hummingbird feeder last year. But that hummingbird feeder attracted too many ants, despite my best efforts to dissuade them, so I threw it away the middle of last summer. The hook has remained empty since.

Though the information that came with my new feeder warned that it could take awhile for the birds to find and trust a new feeder, that did not prove to be the case. The afternoon that I hung it, birds were already munching away. I am thrilled with all the different birds it has brought to the yard. Now I can stand in my warm kitchen and photograph the birds through the windows. I'm particularly excited to see the cardinals up close as I always think of my father-in-law when I see them. He loved them!

I need to purchase a new hook, however, as a wily squirrel has already figured out how to hang on the side of the tree and reach out to grab the feeder. While it is billed as a squirrel-proof feeder, they do recommend you have 18" of clearance from all trees. I don't want him chewing on my new feeder, so I'll order up a longer bracket. I may be tempted to get a third feeder as well. My yard is definitely for the birds!

birds out back

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Happy Covidtine's Day

Halloween pumpkin hanging in there,
appropriately masked for Valentine's Day

Celebrating Valentine's Day during a pandemic necessitates creative thinking. Going into a restaurant was not an option in our minds. We decided to make a nice dinner at the house, including brookies (a combination of brownies and chocolate chip cookies) for dessert. But first I had to decide what to do about a card for my husband and daughter, who has been working remotely at our house since mid-November.

Putting my new watercolor supplies to work, I made both of them a card. There are so many cute ideas online that it was easy to find inspiration and adapt the cards to my particular use.

watercolor Valentines for my loves

Jim surprised us with flowers, donuts and chocolate covered strawberries, which were a nice start to a rainy Valentine's Day. We added to that a nice omelet, and then played some games during the afternoon. Dinner consisted of Italian Beef served on rolls, oven roasted potatoes, salad and brookies. We ended the day by watching a couple episodes of Anne with an E, which we are trying to get through before Katie heads back to LA.

Overall it was a very nice, if unusual, Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Covid-19 Vaccine Update

sunrise on Mountain Island Lake

It has been three days since I received my first Pfizer Covid-19 vaccination. My injection site arm was a little sore Friday and Saturday, but by Sunday that had totally gone away. I experienced no other reactions from the shot. The most serious, of course, would be an anaphylactic reaction, which is why they have you wait 15 minutes following the injection as that is the time period during which such a reaction most likely will occur. 

Some people experience swelling at the site of the shot, which honestly normally happens to me. Other common side effects are fever, chills, tiredness and headaches. While I am feeling very fortunate that I didn't experience any of those things, I do know that it is more common for them to occur following the second shot. But I'll count my blessings that the first one went so smoothly.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Not Throwing Away My Shot

Atrium Health Covid-19 vaccination tent

This morning I was able to receive my first Covid-19 vaccination at the Atrium Healthcare facility in Concord, NC, which is about 45 minutes away from my home. Once we figured out where on the huge campus the shots were taking place, the process could not have been easier. We drove up and were immediately greeted by an attendant who verified how many in the car were being vaccinated. (I had Jim come with me in case I had an adverse reaction, but as he is not 65 yet he is ineligible to receive the shot in North Carolina at this point.) After I told the man it was just me, he asked if I had received a bar code from Atrium, which unfortunately I had not. He handed me paperwork that I had to fill out, as well a a vaccine report card on which they record your first and second shots.

first Pfizer Covid-19 vaccination

He then sent me up to the next attendant, and she made sure that I did indeed have an appointment, verified my date of birth and address, and waited while I completed the form. Next I drove straight ahead to a large tent, where a nurse asked me a couple of other questions, checked my paperwork, and then gave me the shot. It was the least painful injection I have ever received - way better than tetanus and shingle shots. From there I pulled behind a few cars where I was asked to wait 15 minutes before leaving. This is to make sure you don't have a severe reaction to the vaccine, which is rare but has occurred. From start to finish, we were there less than 25 minutes, and I never had to leave my car. Easy, peasy! 

It has been three hours since the injection, and while my arm is slightly sore everything else is fine so far. I know I may get some reaction, and I suspect I will as I have from other shots. And I have heard that reactions increase with the second shot. But that is good as your body is doing what it is supposed to do at that point.

I recognize that I am incredibly fortunate to have been able to schedule my vaccinations. I hope that when Jim turns 65 next month, we are able to get appointments for him as well. And I pray that the vast majority of Americans will agree to be vaccinated, as that is the only way we can kill off this deadly virus.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Modified Stay at Home Order Extended Again

Governor Cooper has extended our stay at home order again, this time until February 28th. He said that while the numbers have stabilized a bit over the past few days, they are still too high. He added that too many residents are falling ill to Covid and there are still too many deaths from the virus. We are at day 250 of Safer at Home orders, and 307 of overall restrictions due to the pandemic. 

To date, North Carolina has had 731,000 cases and 8,839 deaths. In the United States there have been 25.5 million cases and 425,000 deaths. Worldwide there have been 100 million cases and 2.16 million deaths.

While earlier it seemed clear that a covid vaccine would soon be available to all who wanted to get one, recent events have indicated a shortage of the shots. Whether that is because the states aren't getting the supply (which is what they say) or the states have the supply but don't have the manpower or funds to administer the shots (which is what the pharmaceutical companies are saying) is unclear. It is sad that there is so much finger pointing going on in what is literally a matter of life and death. There are all kinds of tales of people receiving the vaccine who do not qualify (due to their age or work situation) while other folks who clearly qualify due to age or health are being told there is no appointment available for them.

The fog that rolled in here last night is indicative of my current mood. 

foggy night

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Number 46

God bless America

Today Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. His job will not be an easy one in light of the divisiveness our country has experienced, particularly in the last four years. For the first time we have a female Vice President, Kamala Harris, who is African-American and Indian-American. A lot of history was made today.

Everything about the inauguration was upbeat while at the same time not sugar-coating the fact that we are an America divided. The message was clear that there is much work to do, and that it will take all of us to make a difference in our country. 

I pray that the President and Vice President, along with all the elected officials, will be able to do their jobs bravely and peacefully. It will be interesting to see how Biden will approach the pandemic as the country has now exceeded 400,000 deaths from the coronavirus. He canceled most of the normal inauguration events due to the virus. But I have to admit that it was surprising to see the number of people gathered together at the Capitol Building for the ceremony, even though they were wearing masks. Hopefully it will not become a super-spreader event.

The first National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman perhaps captured most the temperature of the United States in the poem that she read at the inauguration. Entitled "The Hill We Climb", she began with the following:

"When day comes we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade? The loss we carry, a sea we must wade. We’ve braved the belly of the beast, we’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace and the norms and notions of what just is, isn’t always justice. And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it, somehow we do it, somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken but simply unfinished." The poem is powerful, and you can read it in its entirety here. Such wise words from a young woman of 22. It will be interesting to follow her career.

God bless our country's leaders, and God bless America!

Thursday, January 14, 2021

That's a Shot in the Arm!

seeing the light

The federal government a couple days ago announced that the Covid-19 vaccine can now be administered to anyone 65 and older. The states were still in group 1b, which was for folks age 75 and older. This is one of the few times when I am excited about my age as I turned 65 last fall.

Today I was able to register online with one of the major health care systems in the area, even though it is not the system my primary care doctor is in. The system crashed many times due to user overload, but once I got through the process I was able to go ahead and book my appointment. It took some trial and error because each time I picked an appointment, by the time I verified my information the time slot would no longer be available. I prevailed, though, and I will receive my first shot on February 5th.

I cannot begin to express how uplifting this development is to me and my friends who have secured a date to receive their first vaccination. For the first time we can actually see a little light at the end of the tunnel we have been stuck in since last March.

Jim is not eligible yet as he doesn't turn 65 for a couple months. By then I will have hopefully received both doses of the vaccine. It is only the second time that I have been happy about being older than him (the first becoming eligible for Medicare). I pray that soon everyone will have access to this life-saving vaccine, and we can wipe Covid-19 off the face of the earth.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Peace in Nature

Between Covid-19 and the unrest in this country, it is hard to find peace. But this scene from my back yard yesterday morning came close to soothing my soul.

seagulls on Mountain Island Lake

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Proud to be an American?

One thing I have never done on my social media channels is discuss politics. I've always thought there were many good reasons for the old adage "don't discuss politics or religion." We are all entitled to our personal opinions on both. Most likely you won't change my mind, and I probably won't change yours.

But yesterday's storm on Capitol Hill by Trump protestors has really sickened me. Protest the election results all you want, it is your right. But to illegally enter and damage the Capitol building - a symbol of the American people and their government - is beyond belief. Our country is already so divided over many things, and this riot in Washington, D.C. really illustrates how wide-spread the division has become.

There are a lot of unanswered questions regarding who the protestors are and how they managed to breach the building on the very day that Congress was verifying the electoral college votes to determine who the next President of the United States will be. Hopefully those who broke the law will be aptly punished for what they did.

Despite the chaos around them, Congress stayed into the early morning hours to count the electoral college votes. Joe Biden has been officially declared the 46th President of the United States. I can only hope and pray that he can bring healing to a country that is being torn apart from within by its own citizens. I'm not looking for a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, but instead peace for the country of my birth.

rainbow over Mountain Island Lake

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Still Staying at Home

Another announcement was released by Governor Cooper today regarding Covid-19 restrictions in North Carolina. Current rules were set to expire this Friday, but basically due to the devastating statistics that are coming out, he extended the restrictions for at least another 3 weeks. We are at day 229 of Safer at Home orders, and 286 of overall restrictions due to the pandemic. 

To date, North Carolina has had 578,000 cases and 7,080 deaths. In the United States there have been 21.1 million cases and 357,000 deaths. Worldwide there have been 86.8 million cases and 1.88 million deaths. The statistics are daunting, and the fear is that we haven't seen the peak of cases resulting from the more than 80 million Americans who traveled over the Christmas and New Years holidays.

With the Covid vaccine being months away from having a significant impact on the spread of this deadly virus, it is difficult not to get discouraged at the situation we find ourselves in. I continue to be grateful that Mother Nature offers me an opportunity on a daily basis to stop and take a breath.

yesterday's sunset

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Take a Hike!

 While Covid-19 has kept us pretty close to home, we do try to get out and enjoy nature when we can. Saturday we drove to South Mountains State Park, which is about an hour and a half away from where we live. There is a beautiful waterfall there, and we have hiked the trail to get to it once before. I forgot that it is a pretty arduous hike, despite the fact that the hiking websites describe the trail as "Moderate". I have decided that it must be 20-30 year olds who are rating the trails. What is "Moderate" to them is definitely "Strenuous" to people in their 60s.

Rain on Thursday and Friday meant that the trail was wet and muddy. That was the bad news. But the good news was that the creek was full and flowing, and there was an abundance of water coming down from the falls. The park was quite crowded, which is a bad thing during Covid. The trail is quite narrow at many points, making it very hard to socially distance. While we were masked, I would guess only about 25% of the other hikers had masks on. It is so frustrating!

After the hike, we took the chairs and lunch we had packed and sat along the creek to eat. It was peaceful, and a good way to relax before making the drive back to Mount Holly. But we will definitely avoid going to any of the parks on the weekends again. 

South Mountains State Park