Saturday, May 29, 2021

Memorial Day 2021

Memorial Day Jefferson Barracks Cemetery
It's always interesting each year to see how many people truly understand the meaning of Memorial Day in the United States. I see many posts with people thanking those who are currently in the military (that is Armed Forces Day), or expressing appreciation to our veterans (that is Veterans Day). 

But Memorial Day was established to pay tribute to those who died while serving in the military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War. It became an official federal holiday in 1971.

Cities and towns across the United States host Memorial Day parades each year, often incorporating military personnel and members of veterans’ organizations. Some of the largest parades take place in Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C. Americans also observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries and memorials. Some people wear a red poppy in remembrance of those fallen in war—a tradition that began with a World War I poem, In Flanders Field by John McCrae.

The National Moment of Remembrance, which asks that Americans pause in silence to honor those who have died serving the U.S., takes place at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day. Here in our community we have an opportunity to listen to Glenn Proctor, a former Marine, Pulitzer Prize winning author and motivational speaker. I suspect he will inspire us to be better Americans as we reflect on those who paid the ultimate price for our freedoms.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Current Covid Data

In the last post I stated my concerns that the country has moved too quickly with regards to the mask mandate. In allowing vaccinated people to partake in activities indoors and out without a mask while expecting non-vaccinated people to be honest and continue to wear masks, the CDC and states are taking a huge leap of faith, in my opinion. So I wanted to lay out the current statistics in case this backfires, causing the number of cases to soar again.

To date North Carolina has had 999,000 cases and 12,915 deaths. In the United States there have been 33 million cases and 586,000 deaths. Worldwide there have been 164.6 million cases and 3.4 million deaths.

social distance sign
Having said that, I was suprised to see that, nearly a week following the relaxing of the mask mandate, a fast food restaurant we went to today still had this sign on the door. All of the employees had their masks on, as did all the customers who came in - including us. It appears I am not the only one who is concerned about the latest recommendations.

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