Here we are, slowly making our way out into the world on this last Saturday in July. Welcome to my 11th cocktail hour, during a time where we venture a bit further from home and enjoy a beverage. I offer you Cheers! À votre santé! 乾杯/ Kanpai! Saúde! Salud! May we all remain healthy, safe, financially afloat, and hopeful.
Beginning July 1, according to Virginia’s governor, social gatherings of up to 250 people were permitted. The new guidelines also ended the cap on the number of customers allowed inside non-essential retail stores, restaurants and bars. Previously, these businesses were limited to 50% capacity under Phase Two. These establishments had to continue to follow physical distancing requirements, such as keeping tables six feet apart. Bar seating would still be prohibited in Phase Three.
The third phase also eased restrictions on other facilities:
- Personal Care: Beauty salons, barbers, spas, massage centers, tanning salons and tattoo shops could reopen at their normal capacity — but customers were required to make appointments to come in. Both customers and employees were required to wear face coverings.
- Exercise Facilities: Gyms, recreation centers and sports centers could open indoor areas at 75% of their lowest allowed occupancy. Customers had to be screened for COVID–19 symptoms before allowed inside, including whether they had a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher. Fitness equipment had be spaced 10 feet apart, and similarly, personal trainers or instructors and exercise class participants had to stay 10 feet apart from each other.
- Pools: Indoor and outdoor pools could reopen at 75% capacity, and pools were open for free swim, instruction and exercise classes. Swimmers had to be screened for coronavirus symptoms before entering. Swimmers and divers were required to stay 10 feet apart.
- Entertainment: Entertainment and amusement venues, such as movie theaters, concert venues, bowling alleys, arcades, amusement parks, museums, botanical gardens and zoos, were allowed to reopen at 50% capacity or a maximum of 1,000 people. Performers and audience members had to stay 10 feet away from each other, and cars had to be parked six feet from each other at drive-ins.
- Religious Services: Churches, synagogues, mosques and other houses of worship were allowed to reopen at their normal capacity, but worshipers had to continue to be seated six feet apart except for families. Food or beverages had to be served using disposable containers.
- Childcare: They would be able to reopen.
All businesses were required to continue to follow physical distancing, cleaning and disinfecting and enhanced workplace safety.
Though these were the guidelines beginning in July, the actual experience has been much different. So far, I don’t know of any movie theaters in our area that have opened. Most of the museums in Washington, D.C. are still closed. On Friday, July 24, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, will reopen to the public. Free, timed-entry passes are required for entry. All other Smithsonian museums remain temporarily closed.
Our church, Church of the Holy Comforter in Vienna, VA is only open for “pop-up” church, limited to 50 people on the 2nd, 4th, and 5th Saturday evenings outdoors on the front lawn of the church. We haven’t yet attended any of these services.
Our Fairfax County gym, Oak Marr, recently opened but people must sign up for a limited number of 1 1/2 hour slots. I went to the gym Thursday for the first time since early March, and I was struck by how sad it all was, the markings on the floor and virus reminders on walls, the acrylic barriers between staff and patrons, the scant attendance, the weight machines spread out at 10 feet distance, people wearing masks to work out. The usual social vibe was utterly missing. It was a world I didn’t recognize any more, and I didn’t want to accept it, but I had to.
Outdoor pools seem to be only open for lap swimming, and people must sign up for limited slots.
I am still dealing with my laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR). Some days I feel slightly better, and some days worse. I am never well, so I’ve set up an appointment with a gastroenterologist on July 30 (This was the soonest I could get an appointment, and only with the nurse practitioner. I couldn’t get an appointment with the doctor until September 1. I know it’s a pandemic, but doctors should be doing their jobs!) After I got my diagnosis from the ENT on June 8, I began immediately to cut out tomatoes, alcohol, coffee, onions, and many other high acid foods. Soon after, I got the book, The Acid Watcher Diet: A 28-Day Reflux Prevention and Healing Program, by Dr. Jonathan Aviv. I started the diet in this book on Monday, July 6; it is much more restrictive than the list given to me by the ENT. I’ve been on the diet for almost 21 days now. Dr. Aviv says most people start feeling better after three weeks on the diet, so I’m discouraged that it doesn’t seem to be helping me. I hope the gastroenterologist can help me figure this out. I’ve heard that LPR is a difficult problem to solve and that it can be chronic, but I’m not ready to give in yet. My quality of life will be miserable if I have to keep suffering with this problem.
We have been out numerous times to dinner. We started out doing outdoor-only dining, and we finally went out for indoor dining at Woodlands Pure Vegetarian Indian Cuisine, Enatye Ethiopian Restaurant, and Artie’s. We know the people in these restaurants, so it was good to see them again. We got takeout at Yoko Sushi because they weren’t yet open for indoor dining. This week, we went indoors to Seasons 52. On all of our indoor dining experiences, we went early so the restaurants were mostly deserted. We wore our masks when not seated at the table and when we talked to the waiter. Otherwise, while sitting alone at our table, we didn’t wear the masks.
I even had a pedicure one day. The salon was totally revamped with new pedicure chairs and hanging acrylic barriers between customer and pedicurist. I don’t have my fingernails done, but each manicure station had an acrylic barrier between customer and manicurist, with room for the hands to go through to the other side. Both customers and workers had to wear masks the entire time. I think it’s great how businesses are being creative in figuring out how to reopen. I’m sure it cost them a pretty penny to revamp the space, but at least it allows the business to remain open.
We drove downtown to D.C. on July 5 and went on a mural walk, which I wrote about here: a mural walk in washington on a hot july day.
I started going to Club Pilates again, and so far have been three times. It’s hard to wear a mask when working out, but I try to keep mine on the whole time. I’ve also been taking a bikeride at least once a week, usually around 10-11 miles.
In national news, on July 9, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed in a 5-4 ruling that much of eastern Oklahama is an Indian reservation. This was a great victory for Native Americans who have dealt with a long history of brutal removals and broken treaties with the U.S. government. During my daily walks, I’ve been listening to the excellent Crooked Media podcast called This Land, hosted by Rebecca Nagle, which tells all about events leading up to this decision. It is an excellent podcast that lays bare the mistreatment of Native Americans by the U.S. government over centuries.
On July 15, I walked around Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. This time the visitor center and bathrooms were open, again with social distancing requirements and acrylic partitions between staff and the public.
On Wednesday, July 1, Richmond, Virginia took down the Confederate statue of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson. There had been protests on Monument Avenue for weeks. Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War, and Monument Avenue had five high profile statues including Stonewall Jackson, Confederate General Robert E. Lee, president of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis, Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart on horseback, and Matthew Fontaine Maury, American astronomer, naval officer, historian, oceanographer, meteorologist, cartographer, author, geologist, and educator. Apparently Maury was not a slaveholder and did not support slavery, but neither was he opposed to the institution. He was apparently ambivalent about it.
The Confederate monuments have dominated Richmond’s landscape for decades — some of them even longer — since they were first erected in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to bemoan the lost cause of the Confederacy in the Civil War. People demonstrating against racial injustice have torn down or defaced statues of these prominent Confederate leaders, as well as other historic figures with known racist pasts.
Last Saturday, July 18, Mike and I drove down to Richmond to visit our daughter, Sarah, who I hadn’t seen since January. Wearing masks, we went to Monument Avenue to see what was left of the four statues, and the Robert E. Lee statue, which is slated to be removed unless a case before the court decides it won’t be removed. Since then, some of the other high profile statues have been removed after protesters defaced the statues. The Robert E. Lee statue has not yet been removed, but Virginia’s governor has vowed its removal.
I believe there is no need to preserve these statues. I have had people argue that we need to preserve our “heritage,” or that this is part of our history. Actually, many statues honoring Confederate racists were installed during the Jim Crow era to remind black people of their subjugation under whites. They serve only as intimidation. It must be remembered that Confederates were traitors to the Union, and fought to secede from the United States in order to preserve slavery. They should not be honored in any way, shape or form. People who want to learn “history” should read history books, as monuments are meant to honor people. These traitors deserve no honor.
While there, we got take-out and enjoyed a picnic outdoors at Maymont Park, and went to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to see the exhibit: Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities. We had timed-entry tickets, had to wear our masks the whole time, and were supposed to keep 6-foot social distance between other family groups, although that last part didn’t work out so well.
I failed miserably at my goal for July, which was to write a two-line poem for each day of my Camino. Later, I hope to combine some of these two line poems into one poem.
My main goal for the remaining months of 2020 is to finish writing all blog posts through my travels so far. I need to finish them by December 16, because my subscription with WordPress will expire on that date. I plan to take at least a year off from blogging, maybe more, so I’d like to get caught up on my backlog before then.
Our leadership has certainly succeeded in “Making America Great Again!” We have the highest number of COVID cases in the world, over 4,122,100 as of July 25, 2020, and the highest number of deaths at 145,376. Worldwide, there are 15,695,200 cases and 637,159 deaths. The U.S. has 26% of worldwide cases and 23% of deaths, despite having only 4.2% of the population.
Here in Virginia, we are somewhat better off than much of the country, with 82,364 cases and 2,067 deaths. Our governor has started easing restrictions and has made rules about mask-wearing inside public places, and for the most part, at least in Northern Virginia, people seem to be following the guidelines. However, since the state has begun to reopen businesses, cases have increased, especially in southern Virginia.
As for the country as a whole, what murderous behavior is exhibited by our leadership! We are failing miserably as a country, and we’ve become the laughingstock of the world. Even the EU has banned American travelers and I don’t blame them at all. I’m ashamed that we as a country have come to this, and I am pledging, come hell or high water, to get to the polls on November 3 to vote out our corrupt and vile criminals.
“Of all the hardships a person had to face, none was more punishing than the simple act of waiting.” Khaled Hosseini
In the midst of all this, what can we do as restrictions are relaxed and we make our way out into the world again? I’ve created a page where I’ll share different ideas I’ve come across of ways to cope during the coronavirus. It is here: how to make the most of a staycation... or how to cope during the coronavirus #Stayathome orders. If you have any positive ways to get through this, I invite you to share: bits of humor, projects, what we can do to help others, how to keep our sanity, TV shows or movies to watch, books to read, exercises to do, etc. Please feel free to express your emotions during this trying time as well. I’m sure we can all relate to any and all emotions you are feeling.
I wish you all the best during this “new normal.” Stay at home, or close to home, and stay safe, healthy and always hopeful.
I’m writing a monthly cocktail hour/diary about this challenging time; my next will be Saturday, August 22. I invite you to share your own experiences with what we’re going through right now, either in the comments below, or in your own blog post, which I invite you to link below. I’ll try to keep writing this as long as we are suffering through this together. I hope that we will get through it unscathed, sooner rather than later.
Peace and love be with you all!
- Indra, of TravTrails, shared her June experience with lockdown in India.
Your hydrangeas are absolutely gorgeous
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Thanks, Colline, but I can’t really take credit. These are just hydrangeas I’ve found on my many walks around my area. The ones in my yard are not nearly so beautiful as these. 🙂
I totally agree!
I wish they were mine. 🙂
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July ….appears to be back in circulation
Yes, I’m slowly getting back into circulation, Indra. I just wear a mask everywhere and keep my distance from others. 🙂
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Yep, I’m inching my way out, baby steps
That’s the way to do it, Sue. Masks everywhere, at least that’s what I do! 🙂
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So you’re keeping up bicycling: kudos to you! You’re doing much better than lazy me.
It’s so hot now, Pit, and yesterday when I was supposed to ride, it rained all day. Hopefully Monday. 🙂
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Things are easing a bit here too. Restaurants were allowed to open on 15/7, though by no means all did. I wouldn’t normally have rushed to eat out, but it was my birthday the next day so we went somewhere we knew and felt confident about. It felt a very flat experience to be honest, no atmosphere, though the food was greatThe other big step I have taken is going for a haircut! Trouble is, after both events I have just worried. I think we’re in the clear from the restaurant but it’s only been 2 days since the haircut. I know the incidence is now very low and I’m probably fine, but … It’s no way to live, is it? Sorry that your own health problems seem no further forward.
I’m glad you were able to go out for the your birthday. Happy belated birthday to you! It’s too bad we have to worry every time we set foot out of our door. At least your cases are under control, unlike us here in the U.S. Yes, my health is really a worry; it’s so uncomfortable all the time.
Thank you! Things are under control up to a point, but we still get flare ups. Last week there were 20+ positives in one office because although the work place was suitably distanced, the workers all clustered together at lunchtime 🤷🏻♀️.
Oh dear, wasn’t that silly of them? At least you can point to small clusters and you know where they are. Our viral carriers are everywhere!
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I was reading about the increased activities and numbers of people allowed, all the while thinking that was a big step considering the state of Covid in your country. So I was relieved further on to read that many places are still be very cautious. Hopefully your own personal health issue will be improved when you have this next appointment.
Thanks, Carol. I hope so too. 🙂
I’m so sorry that your condition or disease or whatever it turns out to be is persisting. I’m sorry you’re not getting professional help in a timely way. In the mean time, you have to suffer with how you’re feeling and the lack of certainty (or successful treatment) regarding what it is.
It doesn’t help that the administration is stupid, corrupt, self-serving, and no fan of individual or group rights. It doesn’t help that its style is gross, vain, and abusive. How many insults are thrown, but can they go the other way? Neurotically thin skin.
I’ve finished off my ginger ale. I really know how to cocktail. Actually, a friend of mine made for me a Cuban sidecar, which I find I like a lot.
Cathy, I hope you get some answers and an effective regimen for treatment.
Thanks for your concern, Christopher. It is very frustrating needing to see a doctor and knowing many of them won’t even see you unless it’s by video! And you are absolutely right about our stupid, corrupt, self-serving (and I’d add criminal) administration. I agree with you totally on all counts. Cheers to you and your ginger ale! I would love a ginger ale right now. As I can’t have alcohol, fruit juice or any carbonated beverages right now, I’m stuck with water (ugh – my least favorite drink although I know it’s healthy!). Thank you for your good wishes. I’m keeping hopeful about my Thursday appointment.
Read with interest on many fronts: historical, sociological, aesthetic and personal. I always enjoy your thoughtfulness. I’m sorry your health doesn’t seem to be succumbing to attempts to wrangle it into virtue: I hope it’s sorted somehow soon.
I’m interested in your decision to leave blogging at the end of the year. That’ll be a great gap in my blogosphere – I’m almost amused at how intentional this is! You really are a planner extraordinaire.
Stay safe as you emerge from isolation. I stuck my head above the ramparts a fortnight ago, and then there was an outbreak 60 kilometres from home, so I’ve barricaded myself back in. I don’t mind isolation – but I’m beginning to miss Warsaw and family. This is the longest gap between visits to Poland (or them here) since 2012. Facetime contact is NOT the same. Stay safe and be well.
Thank you so much, Meg, for reading and for your thoughtful comment. I have decided to take a break from blogging because it is so time-consuming that I don’t have time to explore other interests. I’m sure I will miss it in some ways, but I just want to be free of it for a while at least. Thanks for saying it will be a “gap in your blogosphere.” That is very nice of you. 🙂
I’m doing my best to stay safe, but I don’t want to huddle in my house being fearful either. I have decided to proceed with caution, caution being the operative word. I’m sure you do miss Warsaw and your family. I know not seeing them is a hardship for you. I agree, Facetime or Zoom is just not the same!
I understood that it is actually quite dangerous to exercise wearing a mask. “As you move from moderate to heavy exercise, you may be re-breathing carbon dioxide, which can reduce cognitive function and increase breathing rate. There may also be less oxygen in the recycled air, which could imitate exercising at higher altitudes.” Do you have to wear one in the gym? I find wearing a mask uncomfortable (and I have only worn one once, to the supermarket last Friday when it became mandatory) and quite claustrophobic so I am going to avoid anywhere where I have to wear one – other than the supermarket. I also find people aren’t keeping their distance so much now either which I find uncomfortable. I’m becoming a very grumpy person and virtually a recluse!
I only wear the mask during PIlates or weightlifting; this is not particularly heavy exercise. I wish my Pilates instructor was more conscientious about wearing her mask through the entire class and keeping her 6′ distance. That’s why I keep pulling mine up because she doesn’t. We don’t have to wear one in the gym, but when other people come near, I pull it up. We have to wear them all the time here, because we have so many infected people we have no clue who might have it. I don’t wear the mask outdoors generally, but every indoor place requires it. I’m sick of staying home, so I just go out with my mask, and I don’t feel so trapped.
It concerns me that now people have to wear a mask indoors they are not keeping their distance. I’m fully aware that wearing a mask will not protect me, so I try to avoid people or turn my back of they come too close. Too many wear them under their noses or pull them down to talk!
Yes, I know the problem. Although I have to say, although the U.S. is doing an abysmal job on the virus overall, in northern Virginia (more educated people than the rest of Virginia), everyone is wearing masks in every indoor space. Outdoors it’s a mixed bag, but at least I can keep my distance there!
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Wow! loved this post! Hydrangeas are one of my favourite flowers and love your shots!
Thank you so much, RAK. I loved the hydrangeas too, but sadly, I can’t claim them as my own. 🙂
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I’m reading this in the morning so I’ll raise my cup of coffee in a toast. Cheers! I have miled (probably not a word) my way out into the world rather than inched. We’re in NE Ohio for two months. Everyone in our bubble isolated for two weeks before we set out on our journey. We managed the 8-hour drive without contact with another human being and without using public restrooms. So far, everyone is still healthy (knock on wood, fingers crossed, and all the superstitious things). We’re isolating again right now because the kids (adult and grandchildren) went to a birthday party on Saturday. It was good for them to be with their cousins and aunts and uncles and other set of grandparents. They haven’t seen them since late February. It would probably be safe enough to be with them since the party was outdoors, masks were worn by those who might present a risk (because they work in hospitals or are in the military), but we’ve had one incident already where someone had contact with someone who works in a salon where people have tested positive for the virus so we figured better safe than sorry. I don’t like that we’re missing time with the kids, but we do still see them, outdoors and at a distance. I could tell yesterday that the birthday party was really good for the little ones. I can’t imagine what they must think of this. As for our country’s response and that creature squatting in the White House, I will do whatever I need to do to vote him out, too. In my opinion, the lack of response has murdered a lot of people.
Cheers to you with your coffee, Robin. I’m off coffee and all beverages except water right now, so I’ll lift my glass of water to you. I saw that you were going to Ohio to spend time with family; I’m amazed you made it there without any contact with another human being! I can’t believe you’re staying there two months, but I guess that’s the best way to do it. It’s good the grandkids got to get out for a party and socialize. It is so hard on them not to interact and play with others. I love how you refer to “the creature squatting in the White House. We would not be in this mess if he had handled this crisis AT ALL! He is guilty of genocide, in my eyes, and also with what’s going on in Portland and other U.S. cities. Keep safe there in Ohio and enjoy!
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