Friday, April 2, 2021

A FUTURE TO ANTICIPATE

 It's been a week ago that Lib and I received our final Covid jabs. I had no immediate reaction but the next day felt as if I had the slight flu, just achey, sort of weak, and didn't do anything except nap and then go to bed early. Next morning I felt much better, Lib had a sore arm from the stick and next morning felt very faint for about an hour. She  also felt do less for the day and seemed to recover a little more slowly. In another week we should be much safer ...though to tell the truth we haven't lost a lot of sleep over it. 

Last year we had no snow to speak of. This year we had at least 2 little snows and Spring has been more normal with weeks of warmth followed by some freezing temps. We've had a professional service treat our lawn and it has grown rapidly on the warm and wet days. I mowed for the 2cnd time this afternoon, March 3rd. 

As time goes by and the huge nationwide vaccination program continues to put jabs in arms we should soon be reaching a safe level approximating normalcy. At some point, society will no longer need to wear masks and hugs and other family interactions will not feel slightly risky. All along normal behaviors have not posed grave risks, in my opinion, but just as the polio epidemics of the 50's, those who DID contract the disease often paid with their lives or lifetimes of disability. I remember not being allowed to swim in public pools because that was a place thought to be a good breeding ground. 

So Spring is bursting out all over. Biden, not a perfect President is quietly getting things done, instead of "trash talking" the opposite party. More and more Americans see the efficacy of the vaccines and are beginning to see realities in many ordinary life situations. We are beginning to view our neighbors as other humans, not the enemy, and that cooperation helps us all achieve shared goals. America can still lead the world to a better place by listening to its better angels. To do so, we must acknowledge and relearn our histories and suppress the more violent streaks of selfishness that tempts us to put ourselves always first both individually and nationally. Our own Civil War, two World Wars, and the subsequent "police actions" have taught us hard lessons about how war, the scourge of humanity can eat us alive. We truly are as the slogan says "..in it together!!"

So here it is ...another Easter. Christmas is that incredible notion that the Alpha and Omega for whatever reason came to live among us to show his creation and mankind how to live peaceably together. Easter shows that mankind in part was ready to accept this notion, but a small minority needing to hold on to power lynched Jesus. 

His resurrection proclaims that the "I am" still is in charge. "He is arisen!"

 



Thursday, February 18, 2021

The Big Freeze-February 18, 2021

 It’s the 18th of February and nationwide we have experienced a bout of winter. Movement of the polar vortex has caused great tongues of Arctic air to move into the heartland for an extended time. In the great farmlands, there have been week-long periods of deep snow and subzero temperatures. We are still at war with the Covid virus and the treacherous icy/snowy roads have slowed down the delivery of vaccines and the administering of jabs. 


Most of the great state of Texas is without power because the intense freeze has curtailed power generators running on gas. It seems 60 % of the State gets its electricity from these sources and they were not winterized. There was no connection to the national grid because that would have entailed more regulation. Who would have thought that such a warm area would suffer such prolonged Arctic weather?!


News of Rush Limbaugh’s death from lung cancer is on all the news. His caustic comments about liberals propelled him to national prominence. He would sometimes remind his radio audience that he was an entertainer, but that his views could be believed. Over the years he became quite successful and wealthy by denigrating women, people living in California towns, those who were on the fringe of his self-made bubble whether college professors or “foreigners”. Rush was an enthusiastic supporter of Donald Trump and was surely instrumental in his reelection and the Senate’s inability to raise the 2/3 majority to convict at both of his impeachments. 


We, here in the Richmond area have managed to escape most of the side effects of the brutal weather. In my other writing place, I have memorable pictures of icicles on tree branches. If I put them here and then later delete them from Google pics they will be automatically deleted here.


President Biden, even older than Trump is busy getting things done that Congress will allow. Vaccine is getting into more and more arms.   Just as exponentiation made it grow, the same process is minimizing it in reverse. Our application is over 3 weeks old, yet we haven’t been called. 

Thursday, December 31, 2020

END OF YEAR THOUGHTS...

 So here it is the end of 2020! A year that began in innocence and ends in the midst of a pandemic that has upended our lives and put families and communities at variance. The impression remains that those in power at many levels lusted to remain in power rather than using it for the larger good.  Because there was an unprecedented flow of opinions and facts it was more difficult for the average person to sift out the truth. Whatever ideas were surrounding that particular mind reigned. For those engaged in the process of making a living, there was less time for research or reflection.  

The appearance of Covid in public perception occurred sometime in mid-February. One side said it was a horrendous danger, the other that it was like the flu and would be contained and soon be forgotten. These ideas were perpetuated month after month as a presidential contest evolved. Midyear it was generally apparent that it wasn't the flue and drastic steps were taken to slow it down. Those wrecked particular segments of the economy that were important to not only the poor and disenfranchised but to those who stood to lose great fortunes. 

At the end of the year, vaccines have emerged that create hope. The nation seems unable to discipline itself to those actions that may reduce spread. Unfortunately, in many communities wearing a mask is disparaged as a limit of freedom. When a significant number of loved members of that community become ill and or die then it is examined more seriously. Those in power find it difficult to make or enforce the requisite actions dictated by "common" sense. 

So good riddance to 2020! The one good thing you left us was exposing the numerous intellectual, medical, political, religious, and economic weaknesses that need to be addressed. If I live until this time next year, I hope that it will be apparent that America, "that great country on the hill" will have made apparent progress that I may report. 

Best wishes to all my readers, even if it is just one.


Saturday, August 15, 2020

Rachel's Wedding

 FRIDAY AUGUST 14, 2020


It is now roughly 5.5 months into the Covid-19 pandemic. Life goes on and today we watched our granddaughter’s marriage on Zoom. She was married in North Carolina in a small ceremony with just very immediate family in attendance. Her younger brother married this past October in a traditional Catholic wedding. Rachel, as many who chose this path, will attempt to recreate a more traditional wedding this time next year when they celebrate their first anniversary!





Sunday, April 5, 2020

April 5, 2020

Sunday, April 5   Even though we are living through Covid-19, life goes on albeit slower. We rise anywhere from 7:30-8:30 am, fix the breakfast for the day 
(we’re on a Mediterranean diet) and then begin our day. I like to watch “Smerconish” on  Saturdays as he always has timely discussion topics. Then I make our bed and answer email or comment on FB and Twitter. While I’m doing computer stuff Lib reads the paper.  


  There is a blog I’m writing. Hopefully, it will last sometime after I’m gone ....and be stumbled upon by some of our descendants and be instructive or amusing 
depending on whether they're experiencing similar circumstances.
Many of our acquaintances are avid television watchers. When our children were growing up and Lib was a home mom,they would entertain themselves by watching hours of this until I came home. Now we watch mainly news. Since all the sports teams are no longer playing until this plague blows over there is little of this genre for her to watch.

Lisa our oldest daughter living in Wilmington, Delaware called with FaceTime so 
we could see each other as we exchanged family news. What comfort! She is a new mother-in-law. 

I try to remember those years in our lives and can't. Lib, on the other hand, can recall distinct details of both daughter's weddings.
I watched our pastor “Livestream” his Palm Sunday message and then our Brandermill Church minister. Both had timely presentations.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

LIFE DURING COVID-19 Prologue.....

Jan 31-Feb 1 Lib and I played bells in the workshop at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church with the Branderbells. The bell director at Oak Grove just happened to be there, was looking for a slot to play and happened to see Lib and I and as we were missing a few, joined our table. How very nice! After our concert and as we were driving out from the church parking lot, Lib discovered she had left her pocketbook. Thank goodness one of our ringers noticed it, picked it up and we were able to retrieve it. 
This was the almost the last week of total life normalcy for Lib and me. 

It was maybe a week later that we heard the first glimmers of the virus in China. It was a fast-moving epidemic and though CNN  made some comment, it was felt that it was nothing to be concerned about. 

We were able to have a nice mini Flory gathering at a new restaurant in Dayton, Va,  about 100 miles from our home. We filled a table:Lib and I, Larry and Joyce, Abe and Ruth, Lillian, Marsha, Jim and Jodie on the 29 of February. We talked about our families. 
My wife Lib is the last of her line and the group we had lunch with were all her nephews and nieces. 

By the middle of February there were a number of cases in Washington State, on a cruise ship, and soon in New York City. Two main streams of public thought emerged. (1) It wasn’t more serious/dangerous than the flue, (2) It was a “pandemic” requiring unthinkable strategies to contain it and that all we had to do was see the terrible outcomes in Italy to understand where we would be two weeks ahead.

In March it began to be a serious topic in all the media. We had our last quintet early March and our last quartet on  Thursday the 12th. Governments were moving rapidly toward the unthinkable. I could see the trend and canceled other musical obligations. We attended our last church service in early March.

Then in rapid succession public schools were shut down, colleges and universities followed suit with the intention of opening later in 2 weeks just to close for the year and try online instruction. When the big athletic leagues shut down the public began to understand. More serious tightening followed. Only food, medical, and other essential services were to remain open. No gatherings were allowed of over 10 people. When in public for necessary activities, we were to maintain at least 6 feet separation. During the day we followed the spread of this plague on TV. We learned the true meaning of “exponential”.!

Around the middle of March, the Federal government began to face the real consequences of the shutdown and passed a 2 TRILLION give back, loan to, a program to put a band-aid on the economic hemorrhaging for shuttered education and nonessential businesses forced to close or temporarily shut down. Each citizen will be sent $1200 toward the end of April to help buy the necessities. I understand Canada will give each of theirs $2000 each month for the next 4 months!!  The stock market dipped way down then jumped up only to drop again. Smart brokers made zillions while less endowed lost zillions. 

At this writing around 4000 have perished in America and hundreds of thousands have tested positive and many are crowding the capabilities of huge metropolitan hospitals. The country seems to have been blindsided by this scourge even though many physicians and people who knew were warning that this train was barrelling down on us. It seems incomprehensible that this is happening.  

Tomorrow will be April 1. Lib and I saw our daughter Cathy and husband Jeff briefly 2+ weeks ago and grandson Devin when he mowed for us. We’ve gone for groceries about 3 times.  Several days ago our Governor called for a Statewide lockdown until June 10. Thankfully, the virus doesn’t appear to be fearfully active here, yet! A favorite TV commentator on CNN, Chris Cuomo,  contracted the virus and described a terrifying  night of fevers, sweats, and hallucinations.....

Saturday, August 25, 2018

NIAGARA FALLS ADVENTURE AUGUST 2018



BACKGROUND

Lib and I are definitely “old” both being near and over 80 years old. I can still walk nearly a mile with a cane but Lib definitely needs a walker to navigate any length and a cane for balance when not using the walker. Other episodes and health concerns advise us that if we are going to travel and see places we better do it sooner or regret it has become impracticable. We had talked about seeing Niagara Falls and perhaps either an Alaska or Banff tour. This past Spring  we discussed the real possibility of driving to Niagara and brought it up in conversations with our family and close friends. We bought a new car two years ago with that notion in mind. Now it was getting time to “fish or cut bait”. We dared ourselves to do what seemed a daunting adventure and I began by looking up Niagara Falls on YouTube and Google Earth. We decided to drive each direction in two days to lighten the  task. Altoona PA would be the half way point and we made  reservations at the Hampton Inn there for Sunday night the 19th of August and Wednesday the 22nd for the return trip. We also made reservations at the Marriott Hotel and Spa on Fallsview  Street in Ontario after friends advised that the Canadian side was better. Near departure date we  took out nearly equal amounts of Canadian and American dollars, looked at several routes, went to AAA for triptiks and advice and received more ideas about what to do during the brief time there. Finally, we were also advised to call our credit card companies and advise them of our itinerary and destinations so that charging could go smoothly. I signed up for Uber and made sure that our Verizon service would work in Canada. Discovered that Waze was not fully functional so used our Garmin GPS for ALL the navigation. Many little details to plan before going on such a journey.







Sunday morning the 19th we began the first leg of our trip up I-95 toward Washington. Traffic was light going north but fairly heavy going south. It’s always confusing for drivers who are generally unfamiliar with the dual lane system as one nears D.C. Our GPS put us on the fast track for awhile. Our GPS then put us on the northwest track toward Altoona, PA the destination for our first day. Our aim was to drive without weariness and 5 hours a day seemed doable. The route took us through pretty vistas of mountains and valleys. We stopped at Bradford, PA for lunch at Arby’s. Think we both had a beef sandwich. Lib had potato cakes and I had curly fries. It was interesting to see how much the brand had changed since our days in Roanoke.



We continued toward Altoona and arrived around 4:00 pm. We had reservations at the Hampton Inn and we were soon in our room on the 5th floor. I took a 40 minute nap to rest up from the day’s driving. A Crackerbarrel restaurant was located right behind the Inn and we enjoyed some of the restaurant’s fare. While we were dining a young couple with their one year old baby were seated where I could see them. It was a joy to watch these young parents doing their very level best to entertain their baby boy as they waited for their meals to arrive. The young mother constantly was smiling and making faces to make the young baby boy laugh and giggle. A few times he became a little irritated and threatened to cry  and she would start another routine. 

                                           MONDAY

Hampton Inns offer a free breakfast  and on Monday morning we availed ourselves  of waffles for me and cheerios for Lib as well as fruit and hot coffee. We loaded up our few bags and were soon on our way. The weather which had been somewhat threatening cleared up  and driving was a pleasure on interstate roads. Soon we began the long climb up the Allegheny 
Front. Two things that were noticeable; that people here loved their lawns and kept them well cared for even the very large ones, and the increasing population of the blue green Norwegian evergreens. No large towns on our route, just hamlets every 10 or so miles. 

Finally we reached the outskirts of Buffalo, NY and the road turned westward toward Niagara Falls and the Canadian border. There must have been 12+lanes servicing cars, trucks, and VIPS. Here were some of the questions asked by the Canadian customs and ours was a young friendly sort. After passing over our two passports:
“Your name?”
Me, “William Kinzie”
Cc:”What country “
Me,”America…United States”
Cc, “ How long will you be staying in Canada?”
Me, “ 2-3 days to see Niagara Falls”
Cc, “Do you have firearms or guns to protect yourself” (That was an interesting question!”
Me, “None whatsoever!”
Cc “Enjoy your visit” handing us back our passport and waving us on.

After about half an hour drive we were pulling up to the front of the Marriot Hotel and Spa on Fallsview Street and after registration proceeded up to our room on the 7th floor. Our room no. was 707. It faced the Falls 
and the view from our window had to be one of the very best!
The Canadian Falls (Horseshoe Falls) could be seen in all their glory and the smaller American 
Falls were visible at our left. Lib and I spent quite some time just admiring the beauty of this world famous natural place. 

Since we weren’t too tired we decided to do the Hornblower boat trip right up to the Falls. We took the WEGO bus down to the dock area. Purchased our tickets and walked down a long ramp to the boarding area. We were given bright orange plastic raincoats which we donned before boarding. It is a 15 minute ride and we elected to be on a spot at the prow. We were instructed about what do do if there was an accident and told not to panic. The Hornblower is a much larger boat than the American Maid of the Mist which does the same route from the American side. Then we were underway.

i
The first 5 minutes were tranquil, and then the wind from the falling tons of water began to blow and the spume warned us of the coming deluge. Now we understood the need for rain gear. The water begin to swirl beneath us and turned a vivid green. It began to feel like being in a strong rainstorm. We came within what I estimated as 75 yards from the falling 
water. It was a very exciting unique spot to experience. I wanted to see all that was possible but the spume, rain like drops, blowing wind, a fog like atmosphere covered up my glasses and drenched my eyes so I was forced to turn my back on the most intense spots of the trip. Still it was one of the most exciting moments of our lives and was one of the things we had planned. By going on the boat ride that afternoon we saved time for Tuesday

We returned to our room to dry out and then walked across the street to a handy Outback restaurant for dinner. 

                                        TUESDAY

Tuesday morning we ate brunch on the 26th floor at an iHop restaurant with a panoramic view in the general direction of the Falls.  Suffice it to say, prices were nearly triple what the same breakfast would have cost in Richmond, VA. And that didn’t include that it was in Canadian dollars!!

Another unique experience is the tunnel behind the Falls. Engineers bored a tube with several branches that give wet views looking through the Fall from behind. Again we rode WEGO down to the Falls area bought tickets, donned the yellow plastic raincoats and Lib with her walker and I with my cane went down on the elevator and through the doors into the tunnel area. We got into a long line and trudged slowly toward the viewing area. Along the tunnel were posters showing the history and the science of the endeavor. I could feel the shaking from the water flowing over us somewhere above. Finally we arrived at one of the viewing tunnels and since there were people behind us also anxious to see we spent just a few minutes there. Not much to see, as the falling water veils everything. Just a very unique spot to experience. The falls generated wind blows water back into the viewing area but not with anything near the intensity as that on the boat. 

Back at the top we were ushered into a very large souvenir shop which was a delight for Lib. I was impressed with a huge stuffed bull moose and took his picture. The WEGO busses all can kneel down for handicapped persons and reserve a section near the front for their passengers. There are three lines; red, blue, and green. It took us a little time to learn which ones to board to get us where we needed to be. 

We ate dinner in one of the Marriott’s restaurants. It was well prepared and presented.

Niagara Falls are beautifully lit by powerful colored lights at night until the very early morning hours and every evening around 10 pm there is a 15 minute impressive fireworks show.
Canon Ti3 with zoom from room





Lib and I at iHop breakfast 

Lib with raincoat. using iphone for pic

Bull Moose in Antique shop

Lib and supper in Marriott 

Rainbow after supper Tuesday night
There is a zip line for the brave of heart, many parks, and a huge casino for those who enjoy 
gambling. When we entered the city we saw a large computer shop where iphone repair was prominently displayed. We observed many people attempting to take pictures on the boat who may have discovered that doing so was similar to taking pictures in a shower. Damaging water has a good chance of ruining a very expensive piece of equipment. I took one of Lib while the phone was in a plastic bag …surprised how well it came out. 

We weren’t sure whether we should attempt this adventure at our age and with our physical limitations. A number of years ago we took a tour bus for a week trip to New England called Sails and Rails. Both of us needed walkers but we were able to navigate. This time I did the driving with Lib as copilot (She did an excellent job of keeping us on track with the GPS) and she needed a walker. It can be done with patience and good humor….and I’m glad we did it!!

                                      Some Observations

Lib and I were impressed with the politeness and manners of the people who helped us 
with instructions, helpful suggestions, and physical help moving her walker when it was 
necessary. The peoples of the world inhabited our Marriott Hotel. The check in was run by two
Indians who smiled as I tried a little of my Gujarati on them. 

The tourist business brings in a rainbow of travelers. Canada at Niagara Falls, Ontario seems to be doing a very profitable business. Muslims were apparently staffing the Outback we visited on our first night supper, an Asian was the captain of the Hornblower, passengers on the Hornblower were from everywhere, and we all had fun!! There are millions of wealthy millionaires all over the world, I suspect, who are more then willing to spend significant amounts where they are welcome. America, please, please, take note!! Anything we can do they may be able to do better!! Let’s start behaving as one family instead of distinct tribes!!