Tag Archives: coronavirus

Now it’s summer!

I’d made gazpacho. I’d made cold cucumber soup. We’d barbecued here and there and sat on the deck on Sunday mornings with the papers strewn around us. But it didn’t feel like summer.

Until today. We just went swimming over at Crystal Lake. Aaaah! The water is both warmer than usual and shallower, but still utterly refreshing.

It almost seemed normal. Girl says to her brother, “Eric! Let’s play the back float game!” Even more normalizing was the fact that they were being watched by a babysitter (How does that work? Is she a live-in?)

Cases in Massachusetts are rising again. After weeks of toggling between 200 and 300, we are mid-fives.

Last week I heard a statistic that recharged my caution. In Middlesex County (where most of our state’s cases are and where I live), if you have contact with 100 people, there’s a 38% chance that one of them has the virus. Just because we’re not California or Texas, it’s no time to get lax.

Upshot of telemedicine call: cholesterol is okay (wasn’t reading labs correctly it turns out), but I need to lose weight (according to me, not the doctor).

I don’t want to go cold turkey on sugar or join online Weight Watchers or even count calories. But I’m stepping up my exercise (ar ar). This is my third day in a row of exceeding 10,000 steps. Already I feel better.

Look at Saint Finn!

Walk the dog

I know this neighbor. She is a knitting empress.

K informs me that this horse has been here as long as he’s been coming down this street. I do not ever remember seeing it. I know.

It’s hot. The lake is appealing.

One beautiful entrance and another tear down.

Wishing you a relaxing weekend. How do I know it’s Saturday? Cause K slept til 7. Because my pill box only has one more day. Because the yard crews are blessedly absent.

And lest you think my reaction to the crowd at the protest this week was over the top, check out the number of new cases in Massachusetts today. Almost 500. Now the curve is going down. That’s comforting. But it doesn’t escape notice that states where the curves are spiking and people are alarmed, they’re reporting cases in the 400’s.

In Massachusetts, the reporting of 400+ cases is just Saturday. Or Tuesday.

I’ve now made 81 masks.

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 help 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 edge to the 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 tie toward mask’s back then press each side of the long tie 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 or silk
  • A used piece of dryer lint
  • A folded paper towel.

Even if these masks do nothing more than remind one not to touch one’s face 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 than initially believed.

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 cloth masks for her local firefighters at their request. Every area is different.

Obviously, wash between uses.

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!