March 30, 2020

Social Distancing Random-osity

Something Good: I participated successfully in my first Zoom meeting. That's a brand of video conferencing and it worked nicely. The sound was better than I had on an audio conference via phone a few weeks ago.

Normally the committees for Friends of Seven Bends State Park meet in person, but that has changed due to the pandemic. The grand opening for the park was going to be in April, but of course it has been delayed . We don't know when it will be safe for people to come together for events again. Today Virginia's Governor strengthened his earlier announcement, issuing a "Stay at Home" order. We can still got out for necessary things like grocery shopping and even exercise.

Random: We miss eating in restaurants but they are open only for carry-out or deliveries. I'm glad I know how to cook!

This is a mural on Manolete's Restaurant in Winchester. I've never eaten there but I admire their colorful artwork.
Monday Murals.
It's been almost a year since the first mural was painted on this restaurant. The city threatened to have it painted over because the owner had not gotten permission for a multi-colored sign. Citizens protested that it was art, not a sign, and the city relented. Now it looks like the owner got permission for additional murals. This one was just finished (note the paint cans) and another one was underway when I went by there a few weeks ago.

There's been a similar controversy in Sperryville.
Fun: I met my daughter Lynn for lunch but we had to be creative. We each brought our own food and stayed in our own car. I sat on the passenger side of my car so we could chat and still keep the "social distancing" recommendation of staying six feet apart. This is not as companionable as sitting across a table but it was still a chance to see each other. 

Postscript to my fellow Bloggers: I hope those of use who are blogging about this unique time in history will eventually print the posts in a permanent blog book for our descendants or future historians to read. Sadness, anxiety, creativity, reflections on what is important... these are things I am seeing on blogs and I think they are expressing a major change in the way we approach our lives. So much that we took for granted has suddenly changed! I feel as though I wake up in the same house but the world outside has shifted. It is different every day.

(One source for printing a blog book is Blog2print. If you use a different one, please share in the comments.)

I took a dandelion for a walk.

Blog Post #7075

Mosaic Monday: Thank goodness we have spring colors to look at. It is not easy giving up our usual diversions such as museums, meetings, and restaurants.

March 29, 2020

Park and Praise

In Elkton, Virginia.

Inspired Sunday. I tend to read signs as I pass by. As a photoblogger, I sometimes take pictures of signs, and for this one, I turned around and went back to get a photo.

What is Park and Praise? I recalled reading about drive-in church services some years ago, so I looked up Blue Ridge Independent Church and yes, they are holding drive-up services. In order to maintain safe distances, parishioners remain in their vehicles and Pastor Wade delivers a sermon from a balcony at the rear of the church.

March 28, 2020

Mostly Backyard Critters

The first two pictures are from my backyard trail camera.

 I cropped them and added my name so they don't wind up "orphaned." An orphaned picture is one that loses its original identification, usually after it has been reproduced on the web without attribution.

Caturday: The next image is filtered in Photoshop for effect. We saw it a year ago in a cat shelter, when we were considering adopting a cat. I decided against it after one scratched me, plus I realized that I could be allergic because my sister is.

Saturday Critters: Carolina Wren is seeking a bit of suet. Charlie Squirrel has been drinking from the bird bath.

Birds outnumber squirrels on this blog. I checked the tags that are tabulated at the bottom of the page, and so far there are 807 posts labeled Birds and 240 labeled squirrels.

Blogging since 2005!
Please keep reading, there are two more birds in this post. 

I'd Rather Be Birdin':

A gull visited our neighborhood this week. It swooped around, apparently fishing. Most of my song birds went into hiding, apparently recognizing that it was a predator. 

This downy woodpecker was hiding among our deck rails. He stayed motionless for a while. His usual buddies were somewhere in the trees or bushes.

March 27, 2020

Early Spring Images

1. This forsythia grows at the edge of a shopping center in Strasburg. I'm going to complain briefly about shopping and then switch to pleasant things.

As part of "social distancing," we are trying to minimize our time spent in stores. I tried to use the Walmart app today with the idea of having our order brought to the car. I began with Frank's shopping list. The first three items were not available! At that point I gave up and decided to just drive to Food Lion and shop in person. We both wore disposable gloves to help us remember to not touch our faces, and we used the store's disinfectant wipes to clean the shopping cart handles. I don't know how much this helps but when lives are at risk, every little bit is worth the trouble.

Frank found all the cereal on his list, and I found some items that I wanted, but not all. The paper goods shelves are still bare, and there was no ground beef.

2. I played with this image of a pine branch using Photoshop. Here's a black and white version followed by an almost unrecognizable color version. Layers and filters can be fun! 

3.Weekend Reflection: A shrub, now dead, was surrounded by the lake as the bank eroded. I chose to show the branches only as a reflection. 

4. Floral Friday, Friday Bliss: Yellow daffodils, bright and cheerful.

5. Skywatch: Trees against the sky at dusk, March 7th.

Have a pleasant weekend!

March 26, 2020

A Word from Cole Porter.

🎼 Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above
♬ Don't fence me in
Let me ride through the wide country that I love
Don't fence me in.

Let me be by myself in the evenin' breeze
And listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees
Send me off forever, but I ask you please
Don't fence me in.
Sharing with Fences Around the World.

March 25, 2020

Signs During an Extraordinary Time.

Although I've been staying at home most of the time, I needed to mail two packages at the post office today and also pick up some groceries. From Royal Plaza Shopping Center I could see a star up on the hill. Usually it is lit up for Christmas, but since we are living in a challenging time, some citizens suggested that it be lit to cheer people and the owner agreed.

We've been avoiding crowds and I would like to have enough groceries to allow us to stay away from supermarkets for a few weeks. Unfortunately, some items have been unavailable so we need to go back again. This is the paper aisle in Martin's Supermarket.
"Due to product availability, we are limiting some items to two per household per day.
We apologize for any inconvenience."

There was no possibility that I would buy more than two packs of toilet paper. They didn't have any! I thought by now the hoarders would have full closets and this stuff would be back in stock, but no. We haven't run out of it yet, but I have discovered that staying home day after day means we use more paper products and eat more groceries. During a pre-pandemic week we would eat in a restaurant a few times. Now the restaurants are closed except for carry-out, and I'm not feeling tempted to eat food prepared by other people anyway. So far there have only been a handful of diagnosed cases in our area but I don't want to become a statistic.

The stores all have signs reminding us to stand six feet from others. Even though I am slightly introverted, I like being around other people. This new situation feels strange and lonely. I don't like it, but my first rule of success is "Survive." 

I drove home through Rivermont and looked to see if the 619 Market had changed their sign.

"You should wash your hands even when there isn't a global virus panic."

Down the road is the volunteer fire department.

"Free toilet paper to new members.
Join Today."

Three Barns from My February Files.

March 24, 2020

Photos from Bruges, 20 Years Ago.

We aren't doing any traveling at this time, so I thought I'd post some photos from a trip we made in 2000. We visited Frank's daughter Susan and her husband, who was stationed in Belgium.

Sharing with Tuesday Treasures and

March 23, 2020

Trees and Bears Random-osity

The Good: This tree mural is on a shed that probably serves the nearby railroad. I spotted this along Route 33 east of Harrisonburg.
The Random: Here's a collage of blooming trees. I plunked two pictures into PhotoCollage and selected this triangle format. The way they lined up was a surprise.

Speaking of trees, there are trees on this Social Distancing poster from the National Park Service. We are reminded to "Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, Stay home when sick, Avoid close contact with those that are sick," and so on. The last tip says "Still don't use slower friends as bear bait!"

Which brings us to...

The Fun: Someone on Facebook posted an idea to take a bear hunt with kids. Not one involving a real animal, but this is a hunt for teddy bears or pictures of bears. Neighbors can help by placing a teddy bear in their window. I was reminded of that game when I saw this fine fellow in Dollar General yesterday. We had stopped there to pick up a few items in order to avoid going to a more crowded store.

Bonus Collage: Here are four scenes from Shenandoah National Park. So far it has remained open, although contact with staff has been minimized. That meant no fee collection at this park, and once the word got out, crowds flocked to the park this weekend. I was not there but I saw photos of overflowing parking lots. People are tired of staying home, and did not have many places to go since indoor recreation places are closed in order to slow the spread of the virus.

March 22, 2020

Many Places are Closed.

Strasburg's Town Hall is closed to the public until further notice. On that sign, the final "1" has fallen over.

Churches: Many places of worship are not holding their regular services, but are sharing them on the internet instead.

This is St. Peter Lutheran Church in Toms Brook. The sign says events are cancelled until April 1.

This brick church was built in 1905.

Back in Strasburg, the brewery is open, at least for now.

And the ice cream stand is open! Even though today was not very warm, people were stopping for cold treats.