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.