Tag 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 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!

March 12, 2020

People opting out of writing class today, including me. We canceled our trip to Quebec at month’s end, which was itself a substitute after canceling a trip to Rome. Even a dinner party for Saturday is likely to be deferred til later in the year.

People are freaking out.

My brother, who is sixty and has two underlying conditions that put him at risk, is an ER doctor. This weekend, he has two shifts at a Long Island hospital with recent cases of coronavirus.

How not to worry?

One son is a security guard who doesn’t even get sick time. If they close the building and force telecommuting, he will be out of a paycheck indefinitely.

K rides the T for about 80 minutes a day. In and out of Boston.

How not to worry?

K’s brother cancels trip to see their father at the nursing home. Visitors allowed, but with restrictions.

During Finn’s and my walk just now, I listened to a podcast about the necessity of local community. Consider getting my street linked up by email so that we can help each other out.

  • Future Primitive:

In other news, I found a manuscript consultant and her name is ‘Joy.’ I spent the weekend muttering to myself, “I’ll be conferring with Joy.” “Joy is going to help me with my writing.” “How sweet to have an agreement with Joy!”