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