Category Archives: coronavirus

Mask post #3

If you’re keeping up with the news, you’ll see new reporting about the utility of wearing masks. Most people I know are keeping exposure to an absolute minimum but still need masks to decontaminate food deliveries or go to the grocery store.

(I kept asking K, “How can 2 billion people be wrong?”) (well, okay, 1.4 billion, but you get my point. They now surmise that Hong Kong’s outbreak was contained somewhat by the prevalent use of masks).

While I wouldn’t recommend using masks that can otherwise serve the medical professionals, homemade cloth ones might just get the job done for the rest of us, especially if they have a pocket for inserting additional protection.

When I saw the video of the European tailor (below) whip up a mask out of three pieces of cloth in about three minutes, I was beyond impressed. This morning I finally gave his version a try. I want to share the extra steps that I devised to compensate for the fact that I don’t share his mad skills.

First the dimensions:

RECTANGLE: 7.5″ x 14″

TIES: 27.5″ x 1.25″

1) Press short lengths of rectangle under 1/4″. Fold in half. Top stitch from one edge in 2″ then top stitch other end 2″ from center to edge. I marked the two inch distances with pins.

(The tailor did not press first or make marks).

2) Press and pin pleats and stitch down. Finished length 3.5″

(The tailor folded as he went while attaching ties).

3) Fold tie in half to determine halfway point and pin, right sides together on pleats. Stitch down.

4) Press both lengths of the tie in towards its center with 1/4″ fold. That makes it easier to stitch.

4) Fold tie and stitch from mid-pleating to one tie end before reversing and stitching from mid-pleat to the tie’s other end. (If you are a precise and practiced seamstress, begin at one end of the 27″ tie and sew to the other end).

5) If desired add an X of top stitching for additional strength at corners of masks.

Voila! A cloth mask with a pocket made from three pieces of cloth.

Here are some ideas for inserts, roughly ranked from most to least effective:

  • Piece of furnace filter cut to size
  • Piece of vacuum bag cut to size
  • A maxi pad
  • A piece of batting
  • A piece of cloth, esp batik
  • A folded paper towel.

Even if these masks do nothing more than remind one not to touch one’s face while out and between hand washings, they have value.

This morning I read some speculation that the virus might in fact transmit through the air (and not just by droplets) for very short periods of time. That might make cloth masks more important.

Some hospitals will accept these to wear over N95 masks. Some hospice/nursing home caregivers have no masks at all and would appreciate these. One friend is making them for her local firefighters at their request. Every area is different.

Obviously, wash between uses.

Walk with me

I used to take the boys to our town cemetery all the time to wander its broad paths and to feed the ducks. It seemed incredible that K had never been.

The hour drive to a Gloucester beach really didn’t appeal to me, so this was our compromise.

SIMPLE seems more important than ever right now. Ten minute drive. Finn left at home (no dogs allowed). Can return weekly!

(I’ve been wanting to quilt Celtic designs for a long time).

The names evoke other times. Rudolph. Anna Kate. Florence. Roland M King. Emeline. Jessie Annie. Gertrude. Levina. Adeline and Augustus. Elnora Wright.

George and Levi were everywhere.

We saw a number of other people but it was in no way crowded. It felt safe.

The green lights showed up again.

We could make a study of the flora. Many trees are tagged.

I thought more spring bulbs would be in bloom, but it’s still too early.

Driving home, we could tell it was Saturday because lots of fathers were out with their young children. Leaving mothers to soak in a hot bath, perhaps?

Freshening one’s living quarters feels more important than ever. Clutter imposes a drag on the spirits. In New England, air needs circulating. Today we’ll tackle the ‘new room’ (which is now 20 years old). As K’s ‘office’ and my fabric cutting station, it needs renewing, big time.

What are your plans for the weekend? What IS a weekend? Do you find tidiness matters more during home containment? Are you, like Dana and me, baking? How much news are you allowing yourself? Where are you putting your rage?

PS Son #2’s friend — the one from Brooklyn? — recently tested negative for the virus. I put some worries to bed, therefore, and also felt a little better about my 24 year old’s decision making.

PPS A colleague of my brother’s in the Stony Brook ER saw 21 positive cases the day before yesterday. Twenty one out of something like 24.

Also, my brother speculated that LA is about ten days behind NYC. The lack of density will mitigate the outbreak some, in his view, but the huge homeless and prison populations will do the opposite.

Let’s count

After a poor night’s sleep, I woke discouraged. ‘Why blog? Why tweet? Really, why bother?’ Things that seemed sustaining 24 hours earlier, seemed less so this morning. It alarmed me, actually.

Two cups of coffee and one dog walk later, I feel better. Nothing like a beautiful spring day! The sun’s out. It’s in the fifties. I didn’t have to wear down or a hat!

Let’s keep counting.

Five Zoom meetings this week. Four successful, one marred by a no show. Son #2 had better things to do, apparently. Maturing brain, I failed to teach manners, etc. But better things to do with a visiting friend from Brooklyn — really? REALLY?

Number of times I’ve wondered if DJT is a sociopath: too many times to count. Recent events confirm it. Incompetence, stupidity, and strategic vengeance only explain so much. He has more blood on his hands than all the most prolific serial killers combined (except Stalin, Pol Pot, and Hitler).

Spring robins are back! Saw at least five this morning. ‘Chirp-chirp-chirp!’ There they hop — through the green blades of daffodils, not yet blooming but nodding in anticipation.

Number of sirens wailing during 25 minute walk: three? four?

Number of new cases YESTERDAY in Massachusetts: more than 800.

Number of doctors and other health care workers who recently tested positive in Boston: something like 141.

Number of times I’ve seen a person on the red house porch on Jackson Street in 26 years: 0. Today, a woman with a lap top. “That’s 45 schools,” she says. “AND, all the faculty!”

Number of times I spray Lysol on the keyboard every day, even without external contact: once.

Number of yard crews suffered through yesterday: four.

Number of times I’ve looked for the tiny bottle of Purell that magically turned up out of nowhere and then just as magically disappeared: five?

God damn those elves!

Number of masks finished: 5. Number of masks half done: 5. Number of blog and instagram posts about masks: 5. Number of additional masks I plan to make: 0 to 10.

It’s an act of duty without clear cut benefit. I’d rather finish C’s quilt.

Number of email addresses collected for our hyper-local help chain: 11.

15: number of minutes I will sit and follow the breath today.

3: minimum number of pages that I’ll write. I expect pure ranting today but who cares?

2 or 3: number of yard waste barrels I will fill.

One delicious dinner planned. Fire up the grill!

 

 

Tick tock, calendar

Hello! In the thirties here, but at least the sun’s out today.

K spilled coffee at his work station this morning. A near disaster. I slid a stool next to the table for the cup going forward.

I might quilt this little piece into oblivion were it not for the fact that the backing cloth is an old, ornery, tough pillow case. Ugh! Just a little more stitching, then.

Went to phone calendar to see when Easter was, because, well, you know, and found flights to Florence and Rome. DELETE Found Airbnb reservations in Quebec City. DELETE.

Now? It’s Zoom appointments. Yesterday, with our finance guy. TONIGHT, with both boys. Feels necessary. Also? A little bit of a challenge. Because we span three times zones, I’ll have to be coherent at 10 pm.

Yard waste pick up starts next week. I can’t wait! I’ve filled almost all of our barrels, even with some composting in place.

What are you looking forward to?

Pantry entree: shrimp curry

Frozen shrimp and frozen peas.

Root veggies: potatoes, carrots, and onions

1 jar of your favorite prepared curry sauce

Dash of cumin

1/2 can diced tomatoes with juice

1 c chicken stock

1 c lo-fat unsweetened coconut milk

Handful chopped fresh cilantro (only fresh item)

** You’ll need a 12-inch sauté pan.

Sautée onions and carrots. Sprinkle with cumin, cook one minute.

Add stock, tomatoes, diced potatoes, and curry sauce. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until potatoes and carrots are cooked, about 20 minutes.

Add frozen peas. Simmer a few minutes.

Throw shrimp in. If precooked, they will barely need any time at all. If they’re not precooked, more like six minutes.

Off heat, stir in coconut milk and sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Serve over rice. Yum!

Yodel Good Morning

Stodgy New Englanders who might on a normal day in a normal week nod hello, now yodel out their greetings. “Good morning!” “Good morning!”

“Washing your hands?” I ask one neighbor.

Instacart order left on side porch yesterday. I donned one of my masks and washable gloves and got to work. Two big pots, one filled with soapy water, the other with hot water. Four rags.

I washed everything. The bananas. The boxes of soup stock. The cans of pineapple chunks. The quart of milk.

K thinks I go overboard (a bit of contention there), but I have a friend who put her bags on newspaper, washed everything, and then burned the newspapers and paper bags!

How does this substitution make sense?

My order came in plastic bags and I stowed them in the garage, untouchable for now. Would’ve thrown them out, but our town recently banned plastic bags and well, we have a dog.

Here Finn is, near where I want K to build a raised bed. It would use up a lot of lumber that clutters the garage (who am I to say anything with, um, all the fabric?) It’s the only full sun spot in our yard. Secondary benefit: a raised bed would avoid the toxins the roots of a nearby black walnut put out.

The descriptions of dying with coronavirus prompted this digital collage. It’s like drowning, they say.

I finished this yesterday. Two cloth notes:

1) The madras window came from the last garment I bought for my sister. She was wearing the dress when the fire fighters came to transport her to the nursing home where she died a couple of weeks later. There’s a whole story there, in other words, and that little rectangle speaks to it.

2) The hanger is a cloth-mask-tie that I decided wasn’t long enough. So there’s that reference.

I really enjoyed working on this yesterday — even the binding finish. Says something about how I feel about making masks!

PPE : two versions of mask

If you don’t have twist ties, cut wire and fold ends with needle nose pliers. These are about 4″ long when finished.

Cut CLOTH RECTANGLES 7.5″ x 14″

Press under each short end 1/8″ and then at the machine, turn another 1/8″ under and stitch for a finished hem.

Fold rectangle to create “envelope.”

Stitch across top flap to create a 1/4″ channel for wire. Insert wire and then stitch channel closed at ends of wire.

Cut FOUR straps — 12″ x 1″

Press in half, then fold sides to center, fold on top of each other, and stitch.

Take the envelope and stitch three pleats per short side for a finished length of 3.5″

Cut TWO facings 4″ x 1.25 or 1.5″

Stitch to wrong side. Lay two straps at the edges, fold facing over to right side and stitch, tucking ends of facing in and capturing straps.

Fold straps back on themselves to the outside and top stitch several times for strength.

These straps are longer than 10”

Deb found another version below. It offers an elegant simplicity. Three pieces only! No nose wire, but does feature the pocket for filter.

My understanding is that hospitals will wash and sterilize upon receipt but check before dropping off. Many hospitals in the Boston area will accept only masks made from fabric that they supply.