A fantastic 4th of July family day!…

My hands don’t work as well as they used to, so our flag cake was a little messy, but everyone said it tasted great!
It had been a long time since I’d made dinner for family members. Looking back over our past travels, the last time I did so was when we were in Apache Junction,  Arizona, visiting Tom’s sisters and significant others in January 2019. We made a meal for everyone in our little park model days before we left the US.
When we were last in Minnesota at the end of 2019, we stayed with our dear friends Karen and Rich in Eden Prairie, who have since sold their home and moved to Florida. We didn’t cook any meals during that period when we were stricken with an outrageous virus contracted on the cruise we’d take before we arrived.

After all these years, planning shopping and cooking yesterday’s 4th of July meal was a different experience, especially in Camille and Greg’s new house. No one was quite sure yet where everything was located. My granddaughter Madighan was very helpful in finding the kitchen items I needed.

Camille and Greg’s gorgeous wooded backyard.

Together, Madighan and I made the flag cake, got the ribs in the oven, and prepared the sweet corn, chickens, and homemade garlic bread. No one was interested in eating potatoes with the otherwise big meal so we left those out. It was a relatively easy meal to prepare for the six of us. Our granddaughter, Maisie, was working at her McDonald’s job and couldn’t dine with us.

We had a great day. Greg had to pick up a piece of equipment at a distant Fleet Farm store, and I rode along with him. The food prep was under control, making it easy for me to be gone for the hour. It was fun to have a little alone time with my youngest son, and the lively conversation flowed with ease as if we’d never been away.

Daughter-in-law Camille is still recovering from recent cancer surgery, and we insisted she stay away from the kitchen. It was good to be able to give her a break to rest and relax.

Greg said their new home’s wooded lot reminded him of the house where my kids grew up, about 8 miles away.

After dinner, Greg and the kids did the dishes while Tom and I relaxed while chatting with Camille. We’d all opted out of going to watch fireworks. Tom and I were still struggling from lack of sleep due to the seven-hour time difference between South Africa and Minnesota, and we had yet to catch up on sleep.

Finally, last night we both slept almost 8 hours, and we’re good as new today. Whew! What a relief! We knew a good night’s sleep would set us right, and indeed it did. The past four days have been a struggle for both of us, when we were awake at 2:00 or 3:00 am and unable to go back to sleep. Last night, I awoke at 2:30 am, feeling wide awake.

After playing a few games on my phone, I finally dozed off back to sleep, as did Tom. As for Tom, he left at 8:30 this morning to meet up with his daughter Tammy. They, too, needed some alone time together. I was content to stay behind at the hotel. I am stranded here for the next several hours but I will make some calls to friends and family and easily stay busy.

What a beautiful view and landscape! Many properties in Minnesota had heavily wooded lots.

It will be great to be able to make calls without considering the time difference. This time, we may not see many of our friends due to concerns over Covid-19. After all, we’ve just returned from South Africa, and it seems many are terrified at the prospect of being around us.

We certainly understand their concerns. With the scare tactics in the news, the perception is that most people from South Africa are infected with the virus, which isn’t necessarily the case. Currently, South Africa is in the #19 position in the world, based on the number of cases and deaths as shown on Worldometer.com.

Unfortunately,  as of yesterday, South Africa was in the #6 position worldwide for new cases and deaths. It’s only been four days since we arrived, seven days since our negative PCR tests, and another four days since we were vaccinated. Even though most family members and friends were vaccinated weeks ago, there are still some risks in being in our presence.

One of Greg’s family’s three adorable cats, including Baby Bells

We can’t rest easy until the first seven days pass or even more. In some cases, symptoms don’t become evident for up to 14 days since exposure. We can only rest easier (still observing Covid-19 safety protocols) when two weeks have passed since our vaccination date of July 1st. We have a long way to go. I’ll be relieved when this period passes.

It’s interesting to hear Americans’ observations about Covid-19. Some are incredibly cautious, and others fall into the category of the “naysayers” and “conspiracy theorists.” Many refuse to get the vaccine which is also the case in South Africa, making herd immunity impossible.

I believe I’ve located a camera I may be interested in purchasing. I’ll decide today while I am alone and conducting more research and reading reviews. We’ll have the camera shipped to our mailing service in Nevada rather than collect it here. Added weight for our upcoming domestic flight is a good reason to wait. Once we leave Nevada to fly back to South Africa, we’re allowed twice the weight at no additional cost.

We hope all of our US friends and relatives had a great Independence Day!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, July  5, 2020:

Cattle were so busy grazing in Connemara, Ireland, that they hesitated to look up for a photo op. For more photos, please click here.

Comments and responses A fantastic 4th of July family day!…

  1. Mills Alan Reply

    Hi Tom & Jess…..glad that you are home and doing well. We were just in MN to see our kids for the first time in 16 months and had a great time. Take care and enjoy your travels.

    Alan & Julia Mills

    FYI an article out of The Washington Post

    Elizabeth Broadbent
    Mon, July 5, 2021, 8:12 PM
    As the Delta variant of COVID-19 circulates more widely through the United States, people are glancing nervously at England. They’ve used a controversial vaccination strategy: one shot of either Pfizer or AstraZeneca, wait 12 weeks (rather than the standard three), then another shot. But data has shown that one shot of either Pfizer or AstraZeneca just isn’t as effective against the Delta variant as vaccination with both shots.

    Additionally, data shows that AstraZeneca is less effective against Delta than the Pfizer vaccine. And people who’ve gotten similar vaccines are getting nervous. Namely, those who got jabbed with a Johnson & Johnson vax.

    Real talk: the Johnson & Johnson vax was never the most effective vaccine at preventing infections. According to the CDC, it’s only 66.3% effective at preventing COVID-19 infection; though clinical studies showed that by 4 weeks after inoculation, no one who received the vaccine had to be hospitalized. Efficacy rates at preventing COVID-19 infections are 95% for the Pfizer vaccine and 94.1% for Moderna. That’s a huge difference.

    Then there’s the blood clot issue. Johnson & Johnson vaccines were briefly pulled because of what the CDC calls “rare risk of blood clots with low platelets” in women under fifty. But as of April, the FDA has re-authorized the vaccine. Moderna and Pfizer, meanwhile, show reports of myocarditis and pericarditis (inflammation related to the heart) in adolescents and young adults after receiving the vaccine. All of these side effects are super-rare, and the benefits of the vaccine (i.e, the risks of getting COVID-19) outweigh the risk of the vaccine (i.e., the risk of blood clots or heart issues).

    • worldwide-admin Post authorReply

      Hi, Alan & Julia, glad you had a nice visit to Minnesota. As for the attached article, we have read endless accounts on the various vaccines ad have decided not to worry about which is better or we’ll make ourselves crazy. We will continue with the same precautions we used before we were vaccinated, here in the US ad again back in South Africa or any other places we may travel. But, we appreciate your kindness in writing and sending us this information.

      Be well. Be safe. Be happy.
      Jess & Tom

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