Currently viewing the tag: "COVID"

Blair Garrett

After nearly two years without a consistent schedule, high school sports are officially back on track.

Catoctin High School athletes have had to navigate abridged seasons and restrictions, cutting down opportunities for student athletes to compete since the spring season of 2020. Some students have missed out on half of their high school athletic seasons due to the ongoing pandemic. And, with cold and flu season in full swing, the future remains uncertain.

For now, though, students finally have a consistent schedule to compete with other athletes around the region.

Regular seasons for popular winter sports like basketball, wrestling, and swimming have had fans itching to get back to normal. Even the playoff format once again follows the standard format from non-COVID years. 

“As of right now, everything is normal with regards to playoffs, Athletic Director Keith Bruck said. “It’s the same structure we’ve had pre-COVID with the region format and championship schedule, so hopefully that continues.”

Though students and fans have reason to be excited for winter sports, there are still regulations and precautions to be followed for everyone in attendance.

“This year for the fans, coaches, and everyone inside the gymnasium, they have to wear a mask,” Bruck said. “While the players are actively engaged in the sport, they don’t have to wear a mask.”

This is a big development from last season, where players for indoor sports like basketball were required to play masked throughout the duration of the game.

“When a kid is on the court for basketball, they don’t have to wear a mask, but when they come off the court, they’re expected to put a mask on,” Bruck said.

No matter how small the progress is to working toward normalcy, the goal is to keep taking the proper precautions seriously to allow students to continue pursuing athletics. Even if some of the rules are uncomfortable at times, it beats missing out on another season of high school sports.

The local support has been great through the first few weeks of winter sports, with fans making their voices heard from the stands. “Attendance has been about the same as it was in previous years,” Bruck said. “Folks are anxious to get back and see their favorite teams.”

With fans and players only getting to experience a glimpse of a normal season in 2020, this season’s athletes are excited for a chance to do it right. “We had a really short winter season last year, so I think folks want to get back to watching high school sports,” Bruck said.

Fans will have plenty of opportunities to catch Catoctin sports over the winter break, with wrestling and basketball tournaments highlighting the end of December. Both tournaments will allow students to showcase the hard work they have been putting in all year to prepare for their time to shine.

With the turning of the page into the new year, Track and Field and Swimming meets become a big deal for hundreds of athletes in the region. These events typically bring multiple schools together, so the continuation of group competitions is a hugely positive sign for the state of high school sports.

A particularly close-contact sport like wrestling having the green light to carry on is also encouraging. Prevention of COVID transmission between wrestlers seems almost impossible, but, fortunately, programs have had good luck this season avoiding any delays and shutdowns due to outbreaks.   

“We haven’t had to pause with any of our teams so far,” Bruck said. “We’ve had individual cases here and there, but we haven’t had to stop our teams from practicing or playing.”

It’s no secret that everyone wants the COVID nightmare behind us, and the athletes finally have something concrete to focus on as they push through their regular seasons toward playoffs. The opportunity to compete for a state title is something these athletes won’t take for granted.

You can catch Catoctin sports from the jump in 2022, with all games, meets, and matches listed on the Catoctin High School athletic calendar at www.fcps.org.

James Rada, Jr.

Catoctin Colorfest returned this year after having been canceled last year because of the pandemic. This year’s festival on October 9-10 brought tens of thousands of people to crowd the streets and parks in Thurmont as they shopped for unique crafts and enjoyed their favorite festival foods.

One Chinese food vendor brought 500 lbs. of chicken to use for their offerings, and it was gone by the end of the weekend. The Thurmont Ambulance Company sold 11,000 of their popular apple dumplings. Many visitors could be seen pulling camp wagons filled with items they had purchased at the show.

“It was quite successful this year,” said Colorfest President Carol Robertson. “A lot of vendors told me that Saturday was their single best day since they had been working Colorfest.”

The weather on Saturday was pleasant, which encouraged plenty of shoppers to venture out and begin their Christmas shopping early. Visitors came from all along the East Coast, and one vendor even came from California.

“Saturday was a really good day,” said Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird. “It was easily 40-50,000 people in town.”

Sunday’s weather, however, was damp and threatening rain most of the day. This lessened the number of festival visitors, particularly in the afternoon.

There were no reported problems caused by COVID. People who were worried about it stayed home. Some visitors wore masks, and Colorfest, Inc. made sure hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, and disposable face masks were available at information booths in Community Park.

Despite this, there were fewer vendors across all categories, according to the number of permits sold by the Town of Thurmont. In 2019, 720 permits were issued compared to 615 this year, and revenue from the permit fees was about $9,000 less, according to Kinnaird. Permit fees are used to pay for the shuttle buses, porta potties, and extra security needed for the festival.

The biggest drop in vendors was in the craft category. Compared to 2019, 89 fewer permits were issued. There appear to be a number of different reasons for this, depending on the vendor: family issues, retirement, unable to hire people to man a booth, and fear of COVID, to name a few.

Work has already started for Colorfest 2022, and Robertson received her first application for the event on October 14.

“I’m already getting calls from new vendors who want to be a part of next year’s Colorfest,” Robertson said.

While the festival takes over all of Thurmont during the second weekend in October, the actual Colorfest Craft Show is in Community Park, where hundreds of regional artists must be juried to have a spot. It is a popular show with artists and has been ranked in the top 35 arts and crafts shows in the country, according to the trade publication, Sunshine Artists Magazine.

Overall, Kinnaird said things went very well for the weekend and there were no glitches.

“On Monday, after the street sweepers went by, you wouldn’t have even known we had just had Colorfest, except for a couple of tents that were still up,” he said.

The 58th Annual Catoctin Colorfest will be held October 8-9, 2022.

A Colorfest shopper looks at colorful wooden flowers at the D&M Wooden Flowers booth in the official Colorfest, Inc. vending area in Thurmont Community Park. D&M vendors, Dee and Mike Miller, are long-time Colorfest vendors from Michigan.

Photo by Francis A. Tortoro, Jr.

by Teresa Kempisty

Hello to all my senior friends and volunteers. While the center remains closed at this time, the COVID numbers are moving in the right direction to be able to open in some way sooner than later. It may have to be a partial opening, with some restrictions. It will all depend on Frederick County Health Dept. Guidelines at that time. We are being cautious for the safety of our seniors and volunteers (most of whom are seniors), and we appreciate your patience and understanding. When we do open, we will announce it on our website, in The Catoctin Banner, on Thurmont’s Channel 99, Thurmont’s radio station, on our sign, and on our voicemail recording.

I hope to bring a smile to your face by admitting that I forgot to mention Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms and grandmas in the May issue! I can’t believe I did that. I am so sorry; my memory has seriously suffered since being closed for COVID. I hope you ladies had a wonderful day doing whatever you wanted to do. Now before I forget, I want to wish all the dads out there a Happy Father’s Day! Hope you have a wonderful day. I know my dad will want to go fishing and be with family…hmmmm, that’s exactly what I did for Mother’s Day, except we had to postpone it a few days until the weather was better. Enjoy whatever you do!

We are so thankful to the Community Foundation of Frederick County for receiving an Impact Grant to purchase three new lift chairs for our sitting area near the puzzle table. These will be able to be disinfected and are spaced appropriately. The two dark brown chairs are medium-sized chairs and the reddish-brown chair is a large size chair. See (above) the photo of the Birthday Quackers in the chairs.  We look forward to the day when you can use them. 

As far as we know, at this time, our Roy Rogers fundraiser is still drive-thru only, but guidelines are changing quickly, so check Channel 99 or call the center at 301-271-7911. The next fundraiser will be Thursday, June 10, from 5:00-8:00 p.m. Please mention the Thurmont Senior Center when you order.  Thank you.

Our Christmas Raffle will start in June this year and will be a little different than in past years. Instead of a quilt, Carol will have put together a “Thurmont Treasures Collection” of hand-crafted items made by Thurmont seniors for first prize. Second prize will be $100 and third prize will be $50. She will be selling them around town at different locations and at the center once we reopen. They are six for $5.00 or $1.00 each. You can also call 301-271-7911 if you want to purchase any, and we will make sure we get them to you.

It is unknown at this time if we will be having a Christmas party or not, but we will still draw the winners on the first Saturday in December which is December 4, 2021. 

Take care, everyone, and enjoy the warmer weather that June will bring.

Photo by Kim Clever

“Thank you, Community Foundation of Frederick County for the Impact Grant to update our common seating area.”

The Vigilant Hose Company’s 137th Annual Banquet—normally held in January of each year to recognize and present awards to department members for the previous year—was canceled this year due to COVID and the social distancing requirements. The officers of the department decided to recognize those individuals who would have been recognized at the January banquet. Awards were presented at the monthly department meeting in March.

Chief Chad Umbel selected and presented the 2020 Chief’s Award to the DFRS career staff who are currently working at Station 6.  Chief Umbel selected the DFRS staff in deep appreciation for their individual talents and concerned dedication so generously given to the success of the Vigilant Hose Company. These DFRS staff included: Scott Johnson, Brian Hames, Matt Hughes, Chad Owens, Mitch Krysiak, and Alex Carnathan.

President Tom Ward selected and presented the 2020 President’s Award to Scott Maly. President Ward’s submission for this award included the following: “To call this year’s President’s Award recipient a “go-getter” would be a major understatement. Joining the VHC in 1998, after relocating to the Emmitsburg community with family, he quickly became involved with the VHC family and never turned back. With the drastic change in how we were able to operate this past year, this member kept his commitment to his duties and elected office and never let the pandemic stop him. While still maintaining his active operational role as a firefighter, he became a go-to guy for countless fundraising operations. When our in-person fundraising efforts were halted (twice), he got busy figuring out ways to keep the much-needed flow of cash into our reserves while still participating in any event or sale he could. He can be found in the station several times a week, unclipping cash from ticket entries in what has become one of the most popular fundraising events anywhere around the area: the “6 of Hearts.” He is respected by all members across the organization. For his commitment and contributions to the VHC, I am pleased to present the 2020 Presidents Award to Scott Maly.”

Both Chief Umbel and President Ward selected and presented the Member of the Year Award for 2020 to Steven Hollinger. The submission for this award included the following: “As 2020 began, nobody thought of the immense changes our operations and fundraising efforts would see. What was set to be a standout year with growth in fundraising and the purchase of a new tower ladder, we quickly, along with everyone else in the fire service, realized that we would have to drastically change the way we operate. 2020’s member of the year is somebody who is seen mostly behind the scenes but has one of the greatest impacts on the Vigilant Hose Company. He could regularly be seen in his office tending to invoices, bills, and banking inquiries, or perhaps playing a game of solitaire. He spent a great deal of time figuring out an entire year’s worth of anticipated revenue losses to submit to the county treasurer’s office. Also maintaining communication with the county government and submitting invoices and requests for reimbursement every month.  His devotion to the Vigilant Hose Company makes him stand out, even without a pandemic, but his extra effort and behind-the-scenes work make him a true candidate for this well-deserved recognition. The 2020 Member of the Year is Steve ‘Little Man’ Hollinger.”

The Hall of Fame Award—which is the highest award for the Vigilant Hose Company—was presented to Guy A. “Gabe” Baker, III. His nomination included the following:  “This individual joined the fire department January 11, 1983, at the age of 19. He was presented with Life Membership at the January banquet in 2009. He was an active firefighter and first responder until just a few years ago. Early on in his years with the department, he held the offices of assistant secretary and assistant treasurer. This individual participates in just about every fundraising activity of the fire department and most Auxiliary events. He is a ‘regular’ in the kitchen for the Friday evening Bingos, assisting even when it is not his scheduled week. He has served as the co-chairman of the Annual Spring Fling and is again co-chairing the event this year, as it is being conducted virtually. He usually serves as the applicant for the Special One Day Licenses required by the Frederick County Liquor Board when serving alcohol at events. In addition, he has completed the Alcohol Awareness and Crowd Manager Training, all of which is required when having fundraising events where alcohol is served. This individual is often called upon to place orders at Jubilee to assure that the fire department and Auxiliary have all the necessary supplies needed to make their fundraisers successful. It is for these reasons that Gabe Baker was selected as the Hall of Fame inductee for 2020.”

The 2020 Training Award for the most formal training was presented to Elizabeth Beaton. Training for the most in-house training drills was presented to Josh Kehne.

The Ten Top Fire Responders for 2020: (from left) Matt Boyd (10th); Alex McKenna (9th); Josh Brotherton (8th); Charlie Rustigian (7th); Josh Kehne (5th); Cliff Shriner (4th); Frank Davis (2nd); and Jim Click (Top Responder). Not pictured: Matt LeGare (6th) and Dave Zentz (3rd).

Five Top EMS Responders for 2020: (from left) Frank Davis (Top Responder); Josh Brotherton (4th); Tom Ward (5th). Not pictured: Dave Zentz (2nd) and Patrick O’Hanlon (3rd).

Three Top Fire Police Responders for 2020: (from left) Sam Cool (Top Responder); Steve Orndorff (2nd); Lynn Orndorff (3rd).

President Tom Ward (left) presents Scott Maly with the 2020 President’s Award.

Individuals are presented with their Years of Service Awards: (from left) Josh Brotherton (10 years); Tom Ward (10 years); Mike Working (25 years—you get life membership into the department); Bill Boyd (30 years); Ed Little (30 years); Carl White (35 years); and Wayne Powell (40 years). Not pictured: Brandon Murdorff and Dave Zentz (both 5 years); Jennifer Stahley (10 years); John Damskey and Tom Vaughn (both 25 years); Monroe Hewitt (50 years).

President Tom Ward (right) presents Gabe Baker with the Hall of Fame Award.

Pictured are President Tom Ward; 2020 Member of the Year Recipient Steve Hollinger; and Chief Chad Umbel.

Blair Garrett

Over the past year, there has been a major divide in this country.

People struggle to find common ground politically, and businesses and individuals have never experienced this much uncertainty in their entire lives.

The distancing and perpetual chaos of the pandemic have created more space between communities than ever before. Small towns like the ones nestled in Catoctin Mountain are supposed to be tight-knit. People are supposed to be able to lean on one another in times of need, and that time is now. One of the charms of living away from major cities is that neighbor-to-neighbor connection you develop with people you see every week. That’s the kind of charm a town like Emmitsburg, Thurmont, or Sabillasville has to offer. 

Historically, that’s how these small mountain towns have been. However, the past 12 months have shifted that neighborly mentality to a much more careful, reclusive state of mind. Public health comes first, but the lack of events, social gatherings, and general weekday happenings has left a lot of social time unfulfilled. Fear not, though, as numbers of new COVID cases continue to trend downward, things may return to normal sooner than later.

There are thousands of ways to connect and rebuild those once-thriving relationships—you just have to know where to start.

There are some under-the-radar organizations that anonymously donate each year to aid locals with things like Christmas, housing, and food. Communities thrive on the backs of volunteers, and these organizations are composed of like-minded people who are looking to support others, particularly in times of great need. Asking friends, family, fire and police departments, or others online is a great way to get your foot in the door to find out where to begin.

Awareness of a problem is the first step to addressing that issue, and many people have been silently struggling over the last 12 months due to a variety of factors. Keep your eyes and ears open to lend a helping hand whenever available. Whether it’s identifying someone through social media having a hard time, or just asking the faces you see every day how they’re getting along makes a world of difference.

If it’s donating clothing or volunteer work at your local food bank, there are a variety of great ways to give back to the community you live in.

Through the capacity limits and safety protocols, restaurants across the country have had to make tremendous adjustments to their standard operations. That means online orders and curbside takeout have become more and more a thing of the present, as in-house dining has been restricted for some time now.

Investing in your local restaurants recycles nearly 66 percent of the revenue spent back into the community, so consistently supporting your hometown family businesses helps keep the money spent locally. That doesn’t mean buying and trading public stocks for your favorite mom-and-pop shop, it means investing your time and attention to small local businesses instead of the big-time international chains that normally rule the industries.

Businesses owned by people who grew up here or have raised their families here have a much higher tendency to reinvest that money to support their schools, parks, or other areas of public interest, and that relationship is an important one to maintain a healthy and thriving community in these uncertain times.

The current state of our communities may be temporarily strained, but keeping your door open to a neighbor in need is the simplest remedy to this social distance mindset 2020 has led us to.

The pandemic has taken a lot away from us these last 12 months, but time has shown us that people strengthen from adversity, and communities will come back stronger from this setback.

This time is no different, and with time, things will return to normal sooner rather than later.

Blair Garrett

Catoctin High School athletics are pushing on amidst a turbulent spring season.

It’s no secret that difficult decisions have affected student-athletes across the country. Many seniors lost a chance to represent their schools last spring with the onset of a pandemic, unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes, in the name of public safety.

As COVID cases have begun trending downward again, high school sports have returned to action with notable restrictions. Capacity limits and mandatory masks are standard, and most fans have to find alternative means to support their hometown team.

Fortunately, Catoctin High School has made it possible for people to catch high school sports online, as they live stream both boys and girls basketball on YouTube, which can be found on the CHS athletics homepage.

Players, coaches, and any bystanders have to wear masks during the game, and the abridged schedule is limiting the amount of games and exposure students are having competing against other schools. 

Both the boys and girls basketball teams only recently returned to action, following guidelines, and their shortened season has already come to a close.

Catoctin football is set to begin its six-week season come the first week of March, and the preseason has already hit a few bumps in the road. CHS temporarily suspended practices in February, following a positive COVID-19 test in the program. Students and staff were advised to take extra precautions to avoid further delays in the already pushed-back schedule. 

If all goes according to plan, March may bring back a sense of normalcy most students haven’t had in well over a year. Fall sports like soccer, volleyball, and field hockey are all kicking off their respective seasons. Unlike basketball, outdoor sports have the potential for social distancing, so spectators may have access to see games in-person.

Widespread distribution of the vaccine has brought some hope that high school sports will finish out the spring season on a high note.

For the athletes, this year will have a different feel to it, playing fewer games and not having the opportunity to compete for state championships. The Cougars’ 2019 state championship title in football remains as the last one to this day.

The defending champions will have to battle for county supremacy instead of playing to state’s top teams in their division until next season.

Other sports still slated on the Cougars athletic calendar include golf, tennis, and cross-country.

More information on dates and times can be found on the Catoctin Athletic Calendar. All dates and times for games and practices are subject to change.

You can also catch games as they play live through Catoctin’s YouTube channel: CHSAthletics FCPS.

by Teresa Kempisty

Photos by Teresa Kempisty

President John Dowling & Board Member Kathy Dowling drive in the Drive-By Greetings Parade on October 14, 2020, waving to over 36 seniors

Jim and Joan Leo are visited during the October 14th Drive-By Greetings Parade.

Helen Deluca waves to the participants in the October 14th Drive-By Greetings Parade.

Hi, there! Happy Thanksgiving to all! 

Even in these difficult COVID times, we can all find much to be thankful for. If you can’t find anything to be thankful for, try reaching out to a friend or neighbor in need. It always helps us when we help others. Please wear your masks and social distance, and keep your hands washed and away from your face when you are with others. 

I have observed something that troubles me about mask-wearing.  I have noticed that not all people are wearing masks over their nose and mouth. If your mask is to be protective of you and others, you must have both your nose and mouth covered. I know it’s a bother, and it causes glasses to fog up, but it is a simple bother if it keeps you and others well. 

Several of you have called the Thurmont Senior Center (TSC) regarding meeting with Ellie (Jenkins) Williams about Medicare prescription coverage during the open season, but the Department of Aging (now called Senior Services Division) is not meeting with anyone in person. They are taking appointments to talk on the phone or virtually. To make an appointment, call the Senior Services Division at 301-600-1234. 

Beginning back on October 8 (monthly now), we held our Fundraiser Night again at Roy Rogers in Thurmont (always on the second Thursday night of each month), from 5:00-8:00 p.m. However, it will now be drive-thru only. Please specify when you order that it’s for the Thurmont Senior Center fundraiser. The drive-thru stipulation is due to the restaurant only being able to have 50 percent capacity inside. Also, we are not having our bake sale at this time, but it will resume sometime in the future. Every bit helps, so thanks to all who participate and thanks to future participants. We receive a donation of 25 percent of the total sales between 5:00-8:00 p.m. on our Fundraiser Night at Roy Rogers, which for November is Thursday, November 12.

We had another successful Drive-By Greeting Parade (our fourth) to some town areas through Woodland Park and Jermae and up Rt. 77 and 550, to visit seniors in these areas who frequent the Thurmont Senior Center. Thanks to all who participated. The last parade for 2020 will be on Thursday, November 5, with a rain date of Friday, November 6. We will be driving to a few more residents in town areas, then out to Rocky Ridge, Keymar, and Woodsboro. The Thurmont Senior Center serves a very large area, and we miss everyone! Also, thanks again to the “Birthday Quakers” who are still bringing birthday treats to those seniors who are signed up with TSC, considering we are still closed and can’t have our monthly birthday parties. 

I will leave you with some Thanksgiving quotes to make you smile.

“The thing that I’m most thankful for right now is elastic waistbands.”—author unknown

“May your stuffing be tasty, may your turkey be plump, may your potatoes and gravy have nary a lump, may your yams be delicious, may your pies take the prize, and may your Thanksgiving dinner stay off your thighs.”—anonymous 

“What we’re really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets.  I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving?”—Erma Bombeck 

“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.”—John F. Kennedy

Blair Garrett

A brand-new patriotic mural greets thousands of cars a day just outside the heart of Emmitsburg. Right off Route 15, visitors and residents can see a bold and colorful American Flag waving in place painted on the street-side wall of Jubilee Foods.

Lorne Peters, of Jubilee Foods, attributed the mural to the men and women involved in pushing through this crisis. “It’s for the community, and it’s a dedication to my employees. My employees are on the front lines. They’ve been here seven days a week and worked straight through COVID since the day it started,” Peters said.  

Two old friends, Benn Zaricor, Atlanta, and Marty Mummert, Gettysburg, teamed up to put their creative talents to use to make Jubilee’s community tribute. The mural fit into Zaricor’s future plans, too. “My goal is to do a flag mural in every state,” he said. “I’m only up to three right now, so I’ve got 47 to go.”

Both Zaricor and Mummert are gifted artists, and their contribution to historic Emmitsburg will leave a lasting impact.

While the mural took just a few short days to finish, the mural is prominently and proudly facing Main Street so all can view it for many years to come.

Lorne Peters (left), Benn Zaricor (middle), and Marty Mummert (right) show off Jubilee’s brand-new patriotic community mural.

Emails to Gail

by Valerie Nusbaum

Not many major things are happening in my life these days, due mostly to the COVID times in which we’re still living. Randy and I haven’t taken a vacation or gone on any day trips, haven’t eaten in a restaurant or done much shopping, and haven’t visited family or friends. So, there’s not a lot to write about in any detail. That said, I thought I’d share with you some of the little things that have warranted attention lately.

I exchange frequent emails with my friend Gail, and I decided to look back over the more recent ones to see what Randy and I have been up to. Gail is the friend I go to for a laugh or a smile, and she says I provide the same outlet for her. We exchange frequent emails about the mundane and bizarre things that happen during our daily lives. In an effort to protect Gail’s privacy and that of her family, I’m only presenting my side of the conversations.

Randy now belongs to a very special group. He calls it the Men’s Morning Meanderers. It’s a group of men of a certain age who separately walk all over Thurmont early in the mornings. The men don’t know each other, don’t speak (other than to say “good morning” or nod as they pass one another), and aren’t a formally recognized organization. In other words, they all practice proper social distancing. Randy enjoys his group outings.

I’ve recently had three very strange dreams, though not during the same night. In the first dream, I was baking sweet potato pies with an old friend, and we were planning to give the pies away as Christmas gifts. In the second dream, I was an entertainment television anchor, and Brad Pitt stopped by to have some birthday cake. Apparently, it was Brad’s birthday, and I’d baked a cake for him. Am I starting to see a baking theme here? Do I watch too many shows on the Food Network? In the third dream, Tom Selleck was my father. It was the Magnum P.I. version of Tom, not the Frank Reagan version, and there were no baked goods involved.

We went to Mom’s for lunch one day, and she made marinara sauce with meat. She told me to take care of cooking the spaghetti since she’d done everything else and needed to sit down. As the pasta boiled, I asked Mom if she had a spaghetti fork. She replied that she did indeed have one. I asked her where she kept it because I couldn’t find it in the utensil drawer. She replied that it was in the bathtub. Yes, I asked her why she’d put it there, and no, you don’t want to know. We bought a new spaghetti fork, and it will stay in the utensil drawer.

I’ve been working with a guy whose name is Jim Nasium. I can’t make this stuff up.

It’s like a darned Snow White fantasy around here: chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, voles, groundhogs, deer, birds, birds, birds. Not to mention the neighbors’ cats who try to kill all the other stuff, and the occasional dog on the run. Two doors down are some chickens, and we sometimes see a fox or wild turkey—a live one, not the bottled kind.

Today is the 29th anniversary of our first date, and I was given a card and a nice gift early this morning. That’s why I keep him.  Randy is a very thoughtful guy. I remembered our anniversary, too, and Randy also got a card and gift.

Here’s my prediction on the mask thing: Since we’re required to wear them during outside group activities without social distancing, and it’s recommended that we wear them even with social distancing, I’m predicting a whole raft of new respiratory symptoms in the coming months from us trying to breathe through the masks in this heat and humidity. Plus, there will be more dehydration and elevated blood pressure events because wearing the mask makes us hotter. No one has mentioned this possibility yet, but when it comes, you can call me The Oracle.

Sometimes, it all gets to be too much for me. I had to call the hospital and schedule a medical test. The associate I spoke with was nice enough. Still, the registration took at least fifteen minutes, and her computer was on the fritz, which didn’t help either of our moods. Then, more questions, most of which didn’t pertain to my visit, and finally, “Are you ambilary?” I asked her to repeat the question, saying I didn’t hear. She said it again. I still didn’t know what she’d said or what it meant, so I said I was sorry, but I didn’t understand. She was frustrated, and she snapped, “It means, ‘Can you walk on your own.’” I had been nice, but I didn’t appreciate being snapped at, so I said, “No, ambulatory means ‘being able to walk on one’s own.’” I don’t know what the *&%# ambilary means. I thought I’d gone too far, but she cracked up.

Tell Jack that low water pressure is better than high blood pressure.

We finally have a gate on the garden! It’s only been three years.  Randy put on a gate. Jack took one off. Do you think they’re communicating on the sly? I hope they don’t discuss their haircuts. I have some texturizing scissors but haven’t resorted to pinking shears yet. Randy wanted another haircut today, so I obliged. When he finally does go to the barbershop, he’s going to get laughed out of there.

My left ear is considerably higher than my right ear, so nothing sits level on my face. It’s particularly annoying with my glasses. That’s why I tilt my head.

What? I told you, dear readers, nothing much has been happening here. Stay well.