The theme for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #180 is Favorite Images of 2021
The year 2021 was a roller coaster. There were many excitements because we could resume doing things after being restricted for a year or longer. Those moments seemed serene yet felt like wanting to shout for joy. Those were my favorite images of 2021.
My younger granddaughter was born on March 22, 2020. California reinforced the restriction on March 14. I canceled my flight at the last minute to be with my daughter for her childbirth. By March 2021, the restriction of traveling eased a little. We wanted to be there for Nora’s first birthday. I booked the flight with premium seats so that we didn’t have to pass by many passengers. We were so thrilled to see Nora for the first time.
We spent Mother’s Day with my daughter every year except the year 2020. In 2021, we were with my daughter for Mother’s Day and had a wonderful time having three generations of girls together.
The summer of 2021 was my first-time raising Monarch butterflies and there were some casualties, but 20 butterflies made it to adulthood.
I booked a trip to Banff, Canada in August for our anniversary, but the border was closed. I canceled the trip, and we went to Santa Barbara instead. It was the first long trip since Covid.
We also wanted to take day trips to the beaches, but many beaches were closed during the pandemic. We eventually made a trip to Laguna Beach in September.
We missed Autumn’s 3rd birthday in 2020 but we were excited to go to Autumn’s 4th birthday party in September last year.
Last but not the least, we had a white Christmas with my daughter’s family and had fun watching the grandkids playing in the snow and making a snowperson in the backyard. Autumn helped to put the pebbles on to make the eyes and buttons and put the carrot on for the nose. Nora gave the snowperson a big hug.
Staci Troilo invited us to have a Virtual Cookie Exchange and share our recipes on Thursday, December 16, 2021. My recipe, along with many recipes from the friends in this blogging community will be there. Please be sure to visit her tomorrow when she shares all the goodies with you.
My husband used to have a sweet tooth. I don’t bake cookies for him anymore because he is watching out for the sugar intake.
During the last two visits to my daughter’s family, I made cookies for the grandkids. I made chocolate chip cookies with M&Ms on top. Autumn doesn’t have those cookies regularly. She doesn’t do many things regularly such as watching two movies in a row, only when grandma is there (I tried so hard not to be a grandma who spoils the grandkids)!
Hubby and I will be visiting the grandkids for Christmas. I wanted to make some cookies for them. I wanted to make some chewy cookies, so they’ll stay soft until we get there. These are oat, fruit, and nut cookies.
I did a variation on the ingredients. Let me talk a little about the ingredients first.
Vegetable Shortening – I used vegetable shortening instead of butter. Butter contains milk solids, fat, and water. Butter can cause steaming while baking which can dry out the cookies. Vegetable shortening is made up entirely of fat that melts at a higher temperature which gives the cookie batter more time to rise.
Egg yolks – I double the egg yolks and omit the white of each egg which tends to dry out when baking.
Brown sugar – I used all brown sugar with no white sugar. Brown sugar contains more moisture. You can use half white and half brown sugar.
Nuts – I used mostly pecan for nuts because they are softer.
Temperature – I baked in 325o F instead of 350o F.
Here are the photos of the baking. The recipe is below.
Oat, Fruit, and Nut Cookies Recipe
Prep: 25 minutes
Bake: 10 – 12 minutes
Stand: 1 minute
Total: 36 – 38 minutes
Yield: 3 dozen cookies
½ cup vegetable shortening (or butter)
⅔ cup packed brown sugar (or half brown and half white)
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
4 egg yolks (or 2 eggs)
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour)
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup dried mixed fruit bits, dried cranberries, raisins: and dried apricots, snipping the large pieces
¾ cup chopped walnuts and pecans
Step 1 In a large mixing bowl beat vegetable shortening with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat on medium speed until combined. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla until combined.
Step 2 Sift in flour gradually and beat with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour with a wooden spoon. Stir in oats, mixed fruit bits, and nuts.
Step 3 Roll dough by hand into balls and place them 2 inches apart onto a greased cookie sheet.
Step 4 Bake in a 325°degree F oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Let cookies stand on the cookie sheet for 1 minute. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.
Christmas is an annual festival celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25th each year. Christmas is both a religious and cultural celebration observed by billions of people around the world, both Christian and non-Christian.
The observance of Christmas occurs in 160 countries worldwide and celebration varies by country. Some countries celebrate on Christmas Day or December 25th. Australia, New Zealand, Bolivia, South Africa, Argentina, and Madagascar celebrate Christmas in another month other than December.
Christmas celebrations around the world can vary greatly in Christmas traditions. They usually involve setting up a Christmas tree with lights, hanging Advent wreaths and stockings, candy canes. Churches and families set up nativity scenes depicting the birth of Jesus Christ. Families also send out Christmas cards, exchange gifts, and prepare a Christmas feast to share with their family or their extended families.
I have practiced the following traditions most of the years or done it in a different way as time changed in the recent years.
1. Send Christmas Cards or Letters
I wrote a Christmas letter one year to print it on the Christmas stationery. After that, I switched to sending photos. I picked photos that represented the major activities or events of that year and included descriptions of them. The first couple of years, I made a collage of photos with Publisher, saved it as Jpeg, made 5”x7” prints to send them out. Then I switched again to order the 5”x7” Christmas cards from Costco. For the last two years, I ordered two-sided cards.
2. Exchange gifts
My husband came from a large family. In the early years, instead of giving gifts to everyone, members of the extended family drew a name to be the receiver of the gift. The members of the immediate family, of course, exchanged gifts on their own. I bought gifts for my immediate family and wrapped them and put them under the tree. For the last five to seven years, I no longer bought gifts to send to my daughter’s family. Instead, I asked them what they would like to have for Christmas, then ordered them on Amazon, Macy’s, Columbia Sportswear, REI, or Sierra. The stores sent the gifts directly to them. If the clothes, shoes, or other items are not exactly right, they would return them, and I would order the right size until they’re happy with them. I don’t wrap Christmas gifts anymore.
3. Have a Christmas Dinner
Our extended family used to have the Christmas dinner on Christmas day around 1:00 p.m. After dinner, some members would go to visit their in-laws from another part of the town, or another state. After the children are grown and married, most of the members spend Christmas with their grown children and grandchildren. We don’t meet as a large family.
I have been going to Portland, Oregon for many years to spend Christmas with my daughter’s family and enjoy our time with the grandkids.
4. Advent/Christmas Countdown Activities
One friend brought a 2’x2’ wooden Advent calendar with drawers to a women’s meeting to share her tradition with us. She used this calendar for years during the growing-up years of her kids. She had age-appropriate activities for her four children. Another friend who was a teacher brought a 2D calendar to share what she did for her second-grade class for many years. Ideas such as filling 24 drawers with notes, candy, small toys, or keeping special ornaments in each box! For a 2D calendar, each day can be a window that opens to show the activity for that day.
5. Decorate a Christmas Tree
We’ve had a Christmas tree almost every year ever since we live in a house. We only have the artificial tree, though. When I first decorated a tree, I covered the entire tree with garlands and ornaments. Several years ago, my daughter inspired me to do it with minimal decorations. I like it. It leaves so much room to show the green. My daughter and her husband pick their tree either from the national forest or tree farm. People can get a permit from Recration.gov to purchase a permit. It cost $5 for a permit of each tree plus $2.5 for the online processing fee charged by the website.
I think they got their tree from a tree farm this year. Autumn and Nora had a great time helping to pick one.
6. Start a Holiday-Themed Collection
My sister-in-law collects snowmen. She hosts Thanksgiving dinner for many years. She put up Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving to make the event festive. She decorated the entire house with snowmen, from ornaments to wall hangings, stuffed snowmen, snowman candles, to a ten feet tall figure. I collected Santa, angels, and nutcrackers, but didn’t go too far before I stopped.
7. Attend a Christmas show or see The Nutcracker Ballet
I have done both. We bought the season tickets to see the Broadway shows at Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theater for many years. The Christmas show is always a heartwarming story of Mr. and Mrs. Santa. The last song is an invitation for all the kids to come on the stage with the help of the elves. Mr. and Mrs. Santa would pick the youngest kids to sit on their laps when they sing the last song.
When I was teaching, I took my students to see The Nutcracker ballet every year as one of my field trips. I teamed with another class to go to share the cost of the school buses. I also took my daughter to the theater to see The Nutcracker. When I stopped going to see it in the theater, my daughter and I still watched the DVD at home.
On Saturday, December 11, 2021, my daughter Mercy took her older daughter, Autumn, to see The Nutcracker. They’ll start a new tradition.
8. Watch a Christmas Movie
My favorite Christmas movies are White Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, and The Polar Express. There are many newer Christmas movies. I don’t watch too many movies and I like these old ones so much that I seem to watch the same ones all the time.
9. Visit Christmas Lights, before or after Christmas
Since 1932, each house on Peacock Lane – Christmas Street, in Southeast Portland Oregon, has been decorating for Christmas. The residents of Peacock Lane are happy to share that they will display their lights from December 15th – December 31st. For safety reasons, the Portland Police may shut down the Lane to motor vehicle traffic. My husband and I joined my daughter’s family to stroll up and down Peacock Lane one year. Each house had themed light decorations. The address is SE Peacock Lane, Portland, OR 97214.
For the last four years, except in 2020, my husband and I went to Newport Beach to take a cruise to watch the Christmas Boat Parade.
10. Build a Gingerbread House
One year, our church fellowship group had the Christmas catering dinner at a retirement facility. Every year the chef starts months before the season to use his own time to build the Gingerbread Village. He built one house at a time, and the trees, the decorations, and put them in the freezer. Right after Thanksgiving, he would set up the village and add the operatable train. The residents and visitors admired this creation with wonder.
My daughter built a Gingerbread house with Autumn. I know many families do this activity with their kids.
~ ~ ~
You may have practiced some Christmas traditions for years, but you no longer keep them because of life changes. You may still keep some, or you want to start a new one. How about traditions your parents had? How about traditions your grown children have with their families?
Please describe them and share them with us in the comments. Thank you!
November 2021 proved to be an extraordinary month for me. My heart swells with gratefulness and joy.
Back in early October, I invited my daughter Mercy and her family to come from Portland, Oregon, to spend Thanksgiving with us in California. Her husband Will had talked to his cousin in Seattle about visiting her for Thanksgiving. They couldn’t decide because his cousin was waiting for her dad to see if he would visit her family for Thanksgiving. Each one’s decision was depending upon another person’s decision.
I wanted to book the air tickets early. The airfare was reasonable, and many seats were available in October. Thanksgiving is one of the two most travel holidays of the year. The closer it gets, the more expensive the airfare is, and the seating availability would be limited as well.
The last time my daughter came to visit was Thanksgiving 2018. Autumn was fourteen months old then. Autumn is an excellent traveler. She flew with her parents about ten times before turning two. She slept most of the way or enjoyed doing things even when we went to Hong Kong and Japan in January 2019. My younger granddaughter is twenty months old. I would like her to have the advantage of flying for free before she turns two.
At the end of October, I asked my daughter about their plan. She said they hadn’t heard from Will’s cousin. I didn’t want to rush, even though I was anxious. Then on November 1, she texted me, attaching many photos of Halloween trick-or-tricking with a message that they were coming for Thanksgiving.
I got on Alaska Air right away to look for the flight schedules. The airfares for the flights fitting their schedule had gone up to about $695 to $1095 each. The main cabin on several flights was fully booked. I could find a few flights with seats close to each other in the Premium section. I gathered the flight schedules and seating and emailed them to Mercy. After she passed on the info to Will, we video called to do the booking.
The anxiousness fell off my shoulder after I clicked “purchase” for the air tickets. On the flight coming, I got the only three seats together in one row. On the returning flight, I got two seats on one side and one seat on the other side of the aisle, but at least they were in the same row.
Mercy said they would check in two car seats and a Pak-n-Play. The car seats would be free, but they would have to pay for the Pak-n-Play. I remember the much luggage they took when we went to Hong Kong. It was when they had a sixteen-month-old Autumn. This time around, they have a toddler and a twenty-month-old. I can’t imagine traveling on the plane, taking care of the kids, carrying the luggage plus two car seats and a Pak-n-Play.
I got busy right away, calling my friend Rhonda and asking if I could borrow something from her. Rhonda has nine grandchildren from toddler to eleven-year-old. She said she had a toddler car seat, Pak-n-Play, and a stroller for me to use. I took photos of the items borrowed and texted them to Mercy. She was delighted to find out she only needed to bring one car seat.
The amazing thing was that I got a free infant car seat the next day. There are Facebook groups called Buy Nothing. It is a group where members post items they want to give away. Other members show interest in those items. The givers and receives make arrangements for pickups. I’m a member of one local group. I had posted many give-away items. When I scrolled through the posting, there was a person giving away two infant car seats. She said she was a foster mom but didn’t want to take any more infants. I showed interest in one and picked it up the next day. After I told Mercy, she was really excited that they could travel light.
Now I could get the house ready for their visit. Mercy’s bedroom is always kept in the same way as it was when she lived in the house. I just needed to fix up the other bedroom for Autumn. There is a full-size bed in the room. I was debating whether to put it away to replace it with a twin bed or not. I picked out a stackable twin bed and a mattress online and saved the online links. When Mercy lived in the house, I had a bunk bed for her, and it’s stored in the attic. Setting up the bunk bed was another option. It would be a lot of work. Nora won’t be ready to sleep in a bunk bed for many years. I may not want to have it open yet. After all the considerations, I used the existing full-size bed. It would be a little big compared to the toddler bed Autumn has in her house. I picked up a couple of large stuffed animals to make the bed comfy and cozy.
There are student activities in the attic from my teaching days. I found a set of six new puzzles, coloring books, simple board games, dominos, and large Legos. I also saved some of Mercy’s medium and small size stuffed animals. To complete the activities, I bought sets of 20 crayons, 10 washable markers, and four-color play dough. These would be enough to keep them busy.
There are boxes of books for Autumn also, but I took the age-appropriate books to her on my previous trips. I’ve been reading to her every six weeks except during the pandemic. I know the books she’s interested in. The local library is only two miles away. I checked out twenty-two books for Autumn and six books for Nora.
After getting all the things needed, I converted the family room into an activity room for the girls.
The next thing to do was to get the food. Mercy’s family is vegetarian, and Mercy is allergic to dairy products. I couldn’t buy some things too early because of the expiration dates. A few days before they arrived, I bought individual yogurt, cheese sticks, fruit, non-dairy milk, and creamer for them. The day before their arrival, I cooked two dishes of veggie quiche and two packs of tofu. I wanted to reduce the cooking time and spend the maximum time with them.
All the preparation paid off. The kids felt very much at home. With no surprise, Autumn went to the books and picked out a bunch for me to read to her. Nora had fun playing with the play dough and building towers with the Legos. My husband played with Autumn one day before I got up. She finished four puzzles. After I got up, I watched her finish the other two puzzles.
When I’m around, Autumn prefers me to read bedtime books to her. Since it’s a special treat for her, she could ask me to read three to five books plus her devotional book. Even though sometimes my throat gets dry and sore from reading, I don’t want to stop. She likes me to read to her. On their returning trip, I went with them to the airport. Will drove. She wanted me to sit in the back seat with her and read to her all the way to the airport.
One of my daughter’s best friends since third grade lives close by. When her friend went to college in New York, Mercy visited her. When Mercy got married, she came from New York to attend the wedding. Whenever Mercy is in town, they always get together. Mercy’s friend’s mom was an OB/GYN and their Girl Scout leader. She presented sex education in a mother-daughter meeting. I laughed so hard when she drew a big circle on an easel and a large almond shape in the middle. Having a childhood friend is precious. They are like your siblings.
On Thanksgiving Day, I cooked a yam dish and a corn dish. Will cooked a pumpkin pie and a mixed-berry pie. We got together at my husband Lynton’s brother’s home. With the six of us, we took two cars. Will drove my Acura. Lynton and I took the Hummer. The drive was surprisingly pleasant, with no trucks on the freeway. I found out later that most of the major stores, such as Target, Walmart, Best Buy, Macy’s, and JC Penny, were closed all day, partly because they were open super early on Black Friday.
There were twenty-five people at the Thanksgiving dinner. My sister, Queenie, and her daughter were there. I hadn’t seen my sister for three years. She gave me the exciting news about her engagement a month prior. I was so happy for her. It has been eight years since her husband passed away from cancer. I jokingly offered Autumn and Nora to be her flower girls.
Several days zipped by in a flash. We all had a wonderful time together. Now, I’m looking forward to Christmas.
This week Amy introduced the theme on Colors of Autumn.
Every autumn we enjoy the beauty of the brilliant colors. The mixture of red, purple, orange and yellow results from chemical processes that take place in the tree as the seasons change from summer to winter.
During the spring and summer, the leaves absorb the sunlight to transform the energy into the green color. But in the autumn, because of changes in the length of daylight and changes in temperature, the leaves stop their food-making process. The green color disappears, and the yellow to orange colors become visible and give the leaves part of their autumn splendor. Other chemical changes may occur which form additional colors through the development of red pigments. Some mixtures give rise to the reddish and purplish autumn colors of trees such as dogwoods and sumacs, while others give the sugar maple its brilliant orange.
Autumn is a great time for restaurants and stores to decorate their front with pumpkins and straw figures.
Families take their kids to the pumpkin farms and pick out their favorite pumpkins for Halloween carving or decoration.
My older granddaughter’s name is Autumn. Here are the colors of my granddaughter Autumn. She just turned four. Hubby and I went to her birthday celebration which took place last Saturday, a few days before her actual birthday.
When I talked about Autumn, I mostly talked about her reading. It’s just fair to show some photos of her doing other activities. My daughter Mercy and her hubby are aware of Autumn’s interest in reading. They want her to have a well-rounded development. Autumn is excellent in outdoor activities. She could hike for two miles. Before she turned three, she climbed rocks at the rock-climbing gym by herself, and zipped her hike up and down the slopped driveways on both sides of the street. It scared me when I watched the video my son-in-law took. I’m not opposed to little girls playing dressed-up and other girl’s activities. From the very beginning the kids’ lives, my daughter and son-in-law don’t want to limit the girls into a stenotype of development. I think Autumn can do whatever a boy could do, and more.
She just learned doing paddle boarding by herself since July this year. The background sound is Autumn’s baby sister Nora getting tired and fussing. I took the video in August when I went to Bend, Oregon and a national park with my daughter’s family.
Linda G. Hill at Life in progress posted the SoCS prompt on Friday, “Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is ‘my.’ Start your post with the word ‘My.’ Bonus points if you end your post with ‘yours.’ Enjoy!“
1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing (typos can be fixed), and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.
2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.
My granddaughter Autumn will turn four on September 28, 2021. It’s amazing to watch how she learned during this young age.
As a teacher, I paid more attention to her reading development. My daughter Mercy and her husband, Will, started reading bedtime stories to her as soon as baby Autumn came home from the hospital. They wanted to establish the habit of reading to her. Books made with cloth or plastic are part of her toys. It turned out that Autumn developed the love of reading at a very young age. Before she turned two, she seemed to prefer books rather than the manipulative toys. Mercy had age-appropriate toys around for her, but she picked up books to flip the pages more often than to press the buttons for the musical toys. Her favorite books when she was around one year old were a set of ten nursery rhyme 2”x2” books. They were the right size for her small hands. She picked out the books one at a time, brought it to us, turned around and set on our laps. We sang the nursery rhymes to her as we flipped the pages. When we read her the picture books, she had her favorite pictures such as ball, apple, ducks, or dog. After we turned the pages further into the book, she flipped the pages back and pointed to the pictures to say the names. She seemed to focus on the details of the pictures and looked at them with intensity.
Autumn has kept up her interest in books. By three years old, she had a long attention span to listen to books with over 1,000 words. Even though she didn’t understand the concept or meaning of all the sentences, she picked up some simple meaning and words she could relate to. When we repeated reading the same book, she would interact by saying the names of the characters or actions corresponding to the illustrations. As we repeated reading the same book, she remembered more details.
The thematic books she enjoyed and found them funny were the Magic School Bus books. During one visit several months ago (when she was three and a half), she flipped through the Magic School Bus book on dinosaurs. She could name all the dinosaurs. The book made learning fun by inventing funny names with illustrations. One picture has a sock as the head and a body of a dinosaur and named it Sockasaurus. Another picture has a banana head and names Bananasaurus. We made it fun by inventing our own, such as named the fingers, Fingerasaurus.
My daughter takes her to the library to check out books. They checked out as many books as the library tote bag could hold. It’s about twenty-five books. We read at least half of them as soon as we came home. When we go somewhere in the car, she wants to have an entire bag of books available to read. I remember when she was around three years old, before we used book bags, she insisted to bring many books to the car. We tried to tell her to bring just a few, but she picked out a stack of about ten large size books and carried them, walking from the house to the car on her little feet. Well, how can we discourage her from the love of books?
The books are her lullaby. She would read until she falls asleep.
For a short while, I worried that she would only read books but not keeping a balance between books and other activities and social skills. But my worries puffed away when I watched her playing well with friends, enjoys hiking, rock climbing, biking, camping, swimming and other adventurous activities.
I saved boxes of books from my teaching days. I go through the books and bring the interest and vocabulary appropriate books to her on my visits to her. She knows I have something for her every time. She would ask, “What is in your bag, Grandma?” I would take out the books and say, “These books are yours.”
Thank you for reading. Click this link if you would like to participate.
The US President Biden announced on Thursday, July 29, 2021, that people will get $100 in payment to get vaccinated! Here’s the story leading up to the current news.
The Covid-19 Devastation
The first announcement of pandemic and lockdown in California was March 2020. In the following nine months, Covid cases and deaths throughout the nation spread like a plague. The entire world was in a helpless and desperate state as the scientist wasted in no time to find a solution. I developed a spreadsheet to track the numbers and paid attention to the cities, states, and countries where I have family and friends.
I canceled my trip in March 2020 to be with my daughter for the birth of my younger granddaughter, Nora. My husband and I didn’t go to my niece’s wedding in October 2020 in Hong Kong. We didn’t go to my husband’s niece’s wedding in November 2020 in New York.
We watched the news and waited. Then Pfizer and BioNTech announced on December 11, 2020, that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized the emergency use of the mRNA vaccine against Covid-19. The authorizations of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson were issued early in 2021. The news highlighted President Biden and Vice-president Harris received the vaccines.
People lined up for miles waiting to get the vaccination. Some even drove from New York to Florida to get their shots. In the months to come, individuals and organizations volunteered to make appointments for the folks who couldn’t get through the busy phone lines. Again, individuals and car rentals stepped up to give rides for many to the vaccination sites. Mobile clinics delivered vaccines to some hard-to-reach neighborhoods.
After the spring break for schools in 2021, the cases and deaths declined steadily, showing a sign of recovery in the society. There was such a relief of hope that life will become normal again. President Biden promised that there would be a July 4th Independent Day celebration. There was!
We watched the Washington D.C. spectacular fireworks with such excitement. I made up the lost time in visiting my daughter’s family. We have visited them and enjoyed the granddaughters in March, May, and June 2021, and have scheduled at least the next trips in August and September. Our church met in person on June 20. The adult fellowship and women’s groups scheduled different small group gatherings. I’ve attended almost two meetings a week. I also attended my chorale rehearsal held in a member’s backyard.
The month of July has seen Covid-19 cases in the United States increase at the fastest pace since last winter, marking the start of the latest wave of infections to afflict the nation. A new STAT analysis of Covid-19 case data reveals this new wave is already outpacing the spring and summer waves of 2020.
“The current COVID-19 surge in the U.S. – fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant – will steadily accelerate through the summer and fall, peaking in mid-October, with daily deaths more than triple what they are now.
“In that scenario, at the peak in mid-October, there would be around 60,000 cases and around 850 deaths each day. Each scenario also includes a range of how bad things could get – the very worst end of the range for the most likely scenario shows about 240,000 people getting infected and 4,000 people dying each day at the October peak, which would be almost as bad as last winter,” says Justin Lessler, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina.
Lessler notes that there’s a lot of uncertainty in these projections and that how things play out depends on lots of factors.
Rochelle P. Walensky, Director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pointed out that the new surge became a pandemic of the unvaccinated. The outbreaks of cases in parts of the country are higher because of the high percentage of unvaccinated people who are at risk. And the communities that are fully vaccinated are generally doing well. The news reports showing that those being hospitalized or dying of covid-19 are overwhelmingly unvaccinated.
NPR reported that the vaccine rollout reached a critical stage in which most adults who wanted the vaccine have gotten it, but many others were holding out. There were 12 influential social media users have impacted the outcome. These 12 individuals are well known to both researchers and the social networks. They include anti-vaccine activists, alternative health entrepreneurs and physicians. Some of them run multiple accounts across the different platforms.
As of July 28, 2021, at least 189,494,180 people or 58% of the population have received at least one dose. Overall, 163,588,042 people or 50% of the population have been fully vaccinated.
On Thursday, July 29, President Biden called on state and local governments to use funds from his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan to offer $100 payment to individuals as incentive to get vaccinated. The payments would be offered to newly vaccinated Americans.
Do incentives work? Yes… and no. Some people are motivated by cash incentive but some are not.
On May 27, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom launched the $116.5 million vaccine incentive program – the biggest in the nation – to boost vaccinations as California prepares to fully reopen the economy June 15, $100 million in $50 prepaid or grocery cards for the next two million newly vaccinated people, and $16.5 million in cash prizes for all vaccinated Californians.
Ohio’s Vax-a-Million lottery program, which offered $1-million prizes and full-ride four-year college scholarships to vaccinated people. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests lottery incentive programs do not increase the likelihood that individuals will become vaccinated.
Vaccination Mandate from Employers
President Biden announced Thursday a strict new vaccine requirement for US federal workers, the nation’s largest workforce with some two million people. The order requires employees to show proof of vaccination or be subjected to mandatory testing and masking. “This is an American tragedy. People are dying, and will die, who don’t have to die,” Biden said in the East Room of the White House.
After months of encouraging employees to get vaccinated against Covid-19, companies are beginning to roll out mandates – a dramatic escalation of Corporate America’s approach to halting the spread of the virus.
Here are the companies that have announced Covid-19 vaccine requirements for at least some of their employees:
Google, Facebook, Twitter (TWTR), Netflix, BlackRock (BAAPX), Morgan Stanley (MS), Delta, Disney, Saks Fifth Avenue, The Washington Post, Ascension Health, Lyft, and Uber. The list is growing.
~ ~ ~
What do you think about vaccination?
Do I enjoy being poked by the needles? No, I don’t. I’m allergic to some unknown medications to me and my doctors. The allergic reaction caused inflammation to my entire body and I ended up in the hospital in March 2018 and November 2019. Yet, I signed up on three scheduling sites to line up for vaccination. I only got a sore arm from the first shot and a mild rash from the second shot.
My son-in-law is one who fears needles since a kid. My daughter and he signed up to fill the spots when individuals failed to show up for the vaccine. At the time they signed up, only the folks 65 and above were eligible. They received notification for the availability and went from Portland, Oregon to Vancouver, Washington to receive the vaccine. I was there visiting them when they had the second shot. My son-in-law rode his bike for more than an hour from his home to the clinic to take his mind off the fear of the needle.
During the sixteen months lockdown, the one frequently asked question was, “When can I go see my grandchildren?” I asked the same question many times. I only visited my granddaughters twice during the first twelve months of pandemic. My daughter and I had several discussions on this matter. We had the same understanding that I might be at risk of virus and could pass it on to the babies. For the benefit and well-being of everyone in the family, it was not wise for me to go.
Going to visit my granddaughters became my motivation to get vaccinated. I was so excited to receive the second vaccine several days before my trip to Nora’s first birthday. I had an allergic reaction after the second shot, but my daughter said one of her friends also had rash. After taking ibuprofen for several days, my rash went away.
Some people do not take the vaccine for medical reasons. A long-time friend suffered from the collapse of both lungs. One lung is nonfunctioning, and the other lung has 22% breathing capacity. The doctor didn’t recommend him to take the vaccine in case he had an allergic reaction which might worsen his breathing.
The vaccine incentive may not motivate all the unvaccinated people to take the vaccines. I hope that when large companies step up to require their employees to prove the vaccination status to return to work. This mandate plays a heavier weight on motivating people to take the vaccines even though it’s not their preference.
In the meantime, I wear the mask when going out to protect myself and others. Stay safe, my friends!
This week, Tina would like us to think about the various ways we create the images and show the same subject captured using different approaches.
I love visiting my daughter’s family in Portland, Oregon, especially during spring and autumn seasons. During my previous visit in May, my daughter and I went on walks once or twice a day. It was amazing to see the beautiful blooms in the neighborhood. I especially admired the rhododendrons and irises. The rhododendrons in my California neighborhood are bushes, whereas in Portland, they grow into trees as high as a two-story home.
The first photo is a close-up of the flower. As we walked further away from the plant, I took the view of the entire plant.
My other favorite flowers are irises of all kinds of colors. I gravitated toward darker purple and lilac colors. The name of this purple iris is Eleanor Roosevelt. The first photo is a single flower and the second shot is the patch of irises.
In my teaching days, I only went to the zoo on field trips for the students. My daughter and her friends have annual passes and take their kids to the zoo often. One of my favorite animals is giraffe. I took several shots following the giraffes as the three of them roamed around in their areas. I only captured the two that seemed to stay together.
There is an elementary school with a playground right across from my daughter’s house. Playgrounds are open to the public after school hours. Autumn’s favorite is climbing the net climber. It’s interesting to watch her trying to climb to the top and down when some ropes are close and some further apart. Autumn is an enthusiastic climber.
Nora is a good helper to her dad in gardening and mowing the lawn. She mowed the entire lawn by herself!
I visited my daughter’s family in Portland, Oregon for six days and had a wonderful time with my granddaughters. I asked my daughter and her hubby to take a short getaway to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary. Even though they didn’t go on an overnight trip, they took a day trip to a river for paddle boarding. Nora takes a nap every two hours. I got to spend time to watch The Little Mermaid with Autumn in the morning and did a project with her in the afternoon before their mommy and daddy returned.
On June 22, I flew home and expected to arrive in the early evening.
“Do we have any doctors or nurses on board? We need medical assistance.” A flight attendant announced on the speaker. The passengers in front of my row turned their heads around and kept looking. Apparently, something happened.
A slim, tall, middle-aged gentleman from the first-class section walked past my row and said, “I’m a doctor.” He continued to walk toward the back of the plane.
A few minutes went by, and he didn’t return to his seat. My curiosity nudged me to have a glimpse of what caused the commotion. I got up from my aisle seat to go to the restroom in the back of the plane.
The doctor stood in the aisle three rows behind mine, slightly leaned forward, looking at the woman in the middle seat. Behind the mask, the woman’s face was as pale as a piece of white paper. A flight attendant approached from the back, carrying a gray cylinder of oxygen tank. At the foot of the doctor, there was a red briefcase size first aid kit.
I walked slowly toward the restroom. The concern, questions, worries, and prayer came simultaneously to my head.
What a bad timing for this woman to be sick.
What kind of illness does she have?
Can the doctor and the flight attendant have enough resources to help this woman?
What if she has a serious condition that requires emergency landing?
God, help this woman to hang in there for a couple of hours so that we could reach our destination without delay.
The doctor and the flight attendant were in the middle of the aisle to leave me not too much room to squeeze through back to my seat. I stopped and leaned against an empty aisle seat. The woman’s white mask was replaced with the yellow mask connected to the oxygen tank. With a violently trembling hand, the woman held the mask covering her nose and mouth but lifted it up from the mouth a little to answer the doctor’s question. The flight attendant was holding a chart, and the doctor took a quick look and said something to her. Another flight attendant gave something and a cup of water to the woman. They then stopped and waited to see how she responded. I thought it would be a good time for me to return to my seat.
Shortly after that, the voice came from the speaker again. “Thank you for your patience when we had a medical situation. We will serve the snacks and beverage shortly.”
When the snacks and beverage cart came by, the woman at the window seat in my row said to the flight attendant, “I’m a nurse. If you need any help to follow up on that lady, I can help.”
“Thank you. She was afraid of heights. She had a vertigo and vomiting. With the doctor’s help, we gave her some medicine, and she seemed to do better. Her son is with her, and she handled it very well.”
“It’s good to know she is doing better,” the lady at the window seat said.
Ann-Christine’s Photo Challenge this week is Spots and Dots. She wants us to have fun with it! But, also recognize and enjoy the different interpretations, meanings and importance of these two little words. Spots and Dots. Because even if they are small…they can make a big difference.
I came back from a delightful Mother’s Day week visiting my daughter and the grandkids. My daughter Mercy talked with Autumn about Mother’s Day celebration and Autumn understood the relationship of mothers. She said, “My mommy is a mommy. You’re a mommy and you’re my mommy’s mommy. I’m not a mommy.”
Autumn loves to have the undivided attention of grandma. She has a huge appetite for books. On the days when she didn’t go to school, I read about ten books to her after breakfast. Then she played for a little while. Her latest favorite was building a fort with tunnels. She took out all the cushions from the couches to build the formation and covered them with blankets. She didn’t want my help but wanted me to watch (with attention).
Apparently, she has nap time at school, but she doesn’t take naps at home. Mercy wants her to have quiet time when Nora takes a nap. It’s also the time when Mercy takes a nap. It takes a lot of energy to care for a toddler and a baby.
There are boxes of books from my teaching days. I pick the age-appropriate books with me on each trip.
After the quiet time, I read another ten books to Autumn. She likes to listen to the same books over and over again, especially the books with longer text. She picks up more details of the stories from each repetition of reading.
The day is getting longer, and the sun doesn’t go down until about 8:00 p.m. We take the kids to a school playground across the street from the house. The neighbor next to the school has a home farm with chickens and six or seven goats. Many kids love to feed the goats.
After the walk or playground time, we read several more bedtime books to Autumn. She would ask to read “one more,” but we must be firm, otherwise, we’d be reading all night long.
In the afternoon on Mother’s Day, my daughter’s family, joined by another family went to the zoo. Autumn wanted to see the Polar Bear and carried the white stuffed bear with her. The Polar Bear was in the water under the cave for a long time but swam outside for a little while. I was glad that Autumn was not disappointed.
Nora turned one-year-old in March, so she is learning to climb the stairs and playing with different toys. She loves to follow her big sister and does the same thing. During the several days of my visit, she learned to do new things. It’s amazing to see the kids making so much progress at these ages.
There are many small dots of progress in the child development but in a long run there’s a huge impact in one’s life these small dots make. Research shows the first two years of a human life make the fastest and most growth within the shortest period compared to the remaining life span. As parents and careers, we could facilitate and make the small dots and spots colorful ones in the kids’ lives.
This is Autumn at the zoo. How many dots and spots can you see?
Nora was fascinating to watch all the spots and dots flowing in different directions. She was trying to catch some of them.
Thank you for reading! Have a wonderful week ahead!