Monday, April 27, 2020

The Stories -- and People -- Behind My Masks

I hope you are wearing your masks when you are outside. I hope you have masks -- they can be hard to come by. Ever since January 7, when Covid in China was first reported in the New York Times and on CBS, we've had time to prepare. But no one paid attention.

Now we need masks, and plenty of them, for both medical workers and people like us who need them for our personal protection and the protection of others. To the rescue came m wonderful men and women around the country (like many of you) who have been keeping their sewing machines on overdrive (thank you, all!), negotiating for elastic and preparing masks for hospitals, Native American reservations, jails and prisons, nursing homes, veterans facilities and so much more.


Others, like me, who can't sew, did our best -- not very effectively! (Too baggy, not tight enough and so many layers of fabric I couldn't breathe!)

I want to highlight three people who have generously shared masks with Rick and me. Their kindness has been so appreciated. These are their stories.

The First Story

The other day I received a legal-sized envelope from my cousin Anne. It was a long envelope, slightly soft and squishy. I thought it might be a rather long letter. I was wrong. I opened it to find these masks and a note, telling me of their origin.


Anne said that one recent day, she found a FedEx package on her porch -- it was filled with face masks from her brother Jack, who said they were now available in China. He asked that she distribute them to a number of people and I was so grateful they thought of me. Grateful and touched.

Cousins Jack and Anne

Anne's brother, Jack, lives in China. And as you might expect, the past few months in his world have been as bad, if not worse at times, than ours. And yet, he has survived the virus, with some remarkable stories to tell. He says that in China, people are monitored wherever they go. He was given a card with three months of dates on it and received a check mark every time he went out. He had to wait two days before going out again and have his temperature checked every time we went out and came back to his building. It may seem constricting but it was for the greater good. And, most important, it was a system that seems to have worked.

"They installed an app on my cell phone so I simply scan the scan code and my phone records the time I left," he wrote. " Then when I get on the bus, I hit another scan code that tells them I got on the bus. The net result is that the germ bags walking around town were all taken off the streets. Everybody wears masks"

Jack said the Chinese have done an incredible job getting this situation in hand. As of April 17, China -- where the virus originated -- is now seventh on the list of most cases, after number one, the United States, along with Italy, Spain, the UK, France and Germany.  "It has been a massive dragnet and cleanup," Jack said. "If anybody asks if all this trouble is necessary, I feel the answer is definitely YES. There have been no new cases (reported) in Guiyang (the capital city of his province) for several days now." (This was shared on his FB in March.)

Jack said the response in China was delayed because the true situation was hidden by the government for several months. (That could NEVER happen here, says Jeanie, said -- sarcastically.) He acknowledged that "the response was appropriately heavy handed" but that it was successful. There has been, as here, severe economic damage and we are hearing of recurrence in some areas. But things are getting back in place."

Of course, China, though first in reporting cases, now ranks seventh on the list of covid countries, with the U.S. being first and having more cases than the next five countries combined. Our recovery will most certainly take longer, particularly since so many seem to rampantly disregard Stay at Home orders and social distancing/mask rules. Untouched areas think it can't come to them. They are wrong.

An afternoon at the lake with Jack last summer.

Thanks, Jack and Anne! Hope to see you at the lake one day, this year or next!

 The Second Story

Once upon a time in Michigan, a university theatre major was cast in a musical that would tour the state's Upper Peninsula (and places south) during spring break. That was me. My friends came back with tans from spring break. We came back with colds.


Some of my most long-lasting college friends came from that tour. Jim Fineman was one of them, serving as the manager of the tour, as well as a performer. He was a also a wonderful designer and in his senior year directed me in one of my favorite experiences, the play "Wait Until Dark."

Jim in the long-ago!

Some fifty years later, Jim and I have stayed in touch. He's now a successful potter living in North Carolina's Outer Banks. In some ways, he's in one of the safest places he could be -- an island in the Atlantic with a small population. The downside of that is that the area (and those in it, including artists like Jim) rely in large part on the tourist traffic that usually starts in March. That isn't happening this year. The island is currently closed off to all but current residents.

When Jim sent me a photo of himself in one of the masks he made, I asked if he sold them. About a week later, I was lucky enough to receive a package in the mail with masks for Rick and me! They are reversible and the nose is a perfect fit! We love them!

Ready to rob banks. And we resumed social distance immediately after this photo.

I am so grateful for those who take care of me!  I would also encourage you to visit Jim's blog, where he periodically posts new things coming from his studio, along with contact and gallery information. If you are looking for birthday, hostess or thank you gifts (may I recommend the heart pins?) or shopping early for the winter holidays, a purchase  will help keep an artist in clay till things can resume a bit to normal. (He would probably throttle me if he knew I was going to suggest that!)

The Third Story 

Another mask-maker is a woman I've known forever. Or as long as I have memories. I have written about my friend Nancy before. It was our mothers who kept us together when she moved away from "next door" when I was five and she was four.


We stayed friends over the decades and in recent years have kept in touch with regular phone calls and irregular visits.


Nancy is another who has been busy sewing masks to donate. When she asked if we needed a mask, I certainly said yes. After all, we have to wash these after each wear -- it takes time to dry them. And eventually, the papery ones will wear out, elastic may break.


They arrived and again -- I am so grateful!  I'm not sure I'll be in a pool this summer. That's a little too much shared water for me! But I know hope I'll be at the lake. Trust me. I will have very interesting tan lines this summer!


But I'll be color coordinated with my pink jacket and shirt!

No, that flower is NOT in my hair. Just bad selfie-framing!

I leave you with this, which Jack recounted in his Facebook post.

"In front of an almost vacant mall, with a Metro store where I bought my coffee, I saw a young couple nose to nose, trying to kiss with their masks on. I didn't know whether to yell at them to be careful of the virus, or just cry. I walked quickly by and to leave them to their privacy, nose to nose beside a vacant six lane street. If it sounds surreal, that's because it was."

And so is this. I know lots of you have seen it -- it's worth another look, just for the smiles!


Wear your masks, please!

(And thanks for all your open sharing on the comments in my last post HERE. I appreciate your honesty and to be honest, it helped validate some of what I've been feeling, too.)

Sharing with:   Let's Add Sprinkles     /     Best of the Month     /     Pink Saturday    

55 comments:

DUTA said...

What a lovely post about nice,caring people!
Its message: wearing a mask should be taken seriously by all of us.

Bohemian said...

What wonderfully Uplifting Stories of generosity, Friendship and dealing with a bad situation with the right attitudes! Hearing of someone living in China who can give unbiased feedback on things was refreshing too. A lot of people I know here act like America would NEVER withhold vital information to it's Population, I have to LOL! The Man was in Special Ops in the Military and he said the things he could tell but was never allowed to divulge would Freak Out average Citizens. He said he loves his Country but doesn't trust his Govt., that speaks volumes for someone who Served his Country for 39 distinguished Years and is a highly decorated War Hero.

Misadventures of Widowhood said...

What an interesting post---all of it, but especially the information on China. You look great in your new masks.

Valerie-Jael said...

It's good to help others, I have been making and sharing masks and they are always well received. It's a must now in all shops and public transport, offices etc. Stay safe, hugs, Valerie

handmade by amalia said...

What a lovely way to share your stories, Jeanie, I really enjoyed them. And your vibrant mask. I made some as well, they are mandatory around here.
Amalia
xo

Cindy said...

Beautiful stories! There are amazing people doing extraordinary things during this pandemic! Lord bless them all.

George said...

Nope, no masks here, inside or out, we have not been instructed to wear them and impossible to get hold of anyway, like gloves, disinfectant or even decent food for that matter. George, S.W. UK.

Joyful said...

I'm so glad you and Rick have many loving friends. Hugs. xx

Stevenson Que said...

Oh Jeanie, I very much enjoyed this post of yours, especially all those memories with amazing friends that you have from throughout the years. I am amazed by the information you provided form China because one of my old penpals who I still keep in touch with told me also about those apps that prevented him and his family from going outside frequently and they did a good job with mitigating the virus.

I really enjoyed the memories you shared with us with all your friends and the different masks you showed us. Those are very special not just because it came from different places but where even made by hand by special people.

Stay Safe Jeanie. Thank you so much for your kind words on my Garden. I stay there now almost every afternoon :)

Stevenson

Iris Flavia said...

Sadly the home-made ones only protect others, they say. And you cannot buy professional ones here.

Our ... Ingo´s... sewing machine died. And you cannot get a new one, not in store, not online. But we have masks.

Wonderful your cousin thought of you, but what, Germany is on the list? Here they tell us... Well. Merkel, Trump, the same, huh, "All is getting better, we are doing fine"...
Oh, how about a time warp to last summer indeed!

Sad about your friend and the missing tourists. The heart pins now made me jump over to his blog :-)
And what a beautiful story with your lifelong friend! Cute pictures, too, awww...

I am confident there is a summer at the lake for you.

Last night I even dreamed of wearing a mask, horrible.

Tracy said...

This is sooo GOOD, Jeanie... and LOVED all the walks down memory lane! You are such a good story teller! Glad you have masks! I made us some the end of March... I'm so thankful I know how to sew. Cooking/food management, sewing, etc... such good still to be able to have now these days! You & yours be keeping safe and well... ((LOVE & HUGS))

David M. Gascoigne, said...

And if you and Rick could use a couple more, Jeanie, let me know, and Miriam will be happy to put them in the mail for you! She has now made and donated well over two hundred. Also let me just mention one other thing she has done. She also makes skull caps and chemo caps which can be used by medical personnel to restrain their hair etc and every time she has received an order for these items, if the person has shared the fact that they are in any way involved in the medical profession, she has refunded their money. So people all over the world have received that item from her too. It was great to see a nurse in Texas wearing her cap bedecked with Maple Leaf flags! Stay well. I think that there is starting to be a little hope that we are getting on top of this ugly enemy.

shoreacres said...

I have a beautifully made mask covered with Texas bluebonnets. It's really cleverly done, and fits far better than the 'accordion style' I so often see. I've not worn it yet, but I do keep it with me in case I happen into a situation where wearing it would be appropriate.

Penny from Enjoying The Simple Things said...

You have some wonderful friends!

Mystica said...

You are lucky to have such caring people in your life. It is a nice feeling to know that people are concerned about you.
I live far away from you, also on an island but with a large population 28 million of us. We are on the seventh week of curfew and here there is no going for a walk, or the dog, or a hair cut or the pharmacy. Curfew is curfew no exceptions! it is working to a great extent and I hope we will get through this.

La Table De Nana said...

You are loved♥

eileeninmd said...

Hello Jeanie,

It is interesting to learn more about the virus and China. It is great that your family and friends have sent you these masks. You look cute in the photos too. I have made them for hubby and I, they look a little sloppy but they work. Take care, have a happy day!

R's Rue said...

❤️

Sandra at Maison De Jardin said...

Jeanie, such an interesting post. It is wonderful that you have such loving and devoted friends. And those long friendships are a blessing.

Stay well, my friend.

Judy at GoldCountryCottage said...

Jeanie, great post. Small stories are always the best. Good to know the actual facts from Cousin Jack. We don't know what the truth is from our "liar in chief". Someone that Jake works with made masks and he sent us each one. Jerry's is too small however and mine fits but is very hard for me to breathe. Therefore, that will make it easier for me to stay in. I did find a package of 10 on Amazon and ordered them but they haven't come yet. Made in China, so they say. I had not seen that video, so thanks for sending it on. I actually cried, I was laughing so hard. Something badly needed here and now..Take care and stay well..xxoJudy

Divers and Sundry said...

I love these stories, so uplifting and encouraging :) Thank you for sharing them. I'm surprised people believe it can't happen to them. As if the virus isn't airborne and spreading as we speak. I hope the vaccine comes sooner rather than later. I'm off to check out Jim Fineman's blog. Thx!

Lynne said...

Thank you Jeanie . . .
Wonderful post and friends . . .
Happy they are saving your days with mask refills.
I have been faithful wearing a mask and gloves when and if I go to the store.
And the six foot rule has not been compromised.
After reading your post, I have decided to be more intentional about mask wearing during my outdoor walks.
Thinking of it this way, if I wear a mask I am protecting myself and others are protected too.
Now if everyone did just that . . .
(I must say, cloth masks are much more comfortable than the white, industrial ones.).
(I still think the bandana mask is a good idea but they seem to be “sold out!”)

Sandra Cox said...

How lovely to have friends that think enough of you to send masks.

Mae Travels said...

How can a person who does so many skilled crafts not know how to sew! I would have been sure that you were a master of some sewing machine craft, not necessarily tailoring clothing, but maybe making dolls or stuffed animals. But suppositions are often wrong, and I didn't get that one.

I love your stories about the friends that are providing masks for your protection!

While I can't do any of your crafts, I have managed to make us each one mask, using a t-shirt because 2 layers of t-shirt are supposed to be a very good barrier against the virus particles. I didn't have elastic but experimented until I found a way to do without it, using the stretchy hem of the t-shirt. I'm not very patient, though.

be well... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Karen said...

Lots of mask sewing going on in my house too. Unfortunately there is no elastic to be had as our only sewing/fabric store is closed and shuttered. So, they have ties.
My sister is vulnerable after being so ill earlier in the year. She thinks she had Covid as she had just returned from a cruise that was packed with Chinese people. Most of her friends are very elderly so I've been making enough for them to have one on their face, one in wait and one in the wash. Thankfully I have BINS and BINS full of quilting fabric.
We all have to do what we can...
And Yes, I do wear one myself, though trips anywhere are so rare for me.

Prims By The Water said...

Sweet stories! May we all stay safe! Janice

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

You have the most wonderful friends. I tried to make masks and I failed miserably. To make matters worse, I had NO elastic. I'm a failure when it comes to sewing fabric. I'm OK with paper and grunge, but that's where my talents end. You have some amazing friends, dear Jeanie. Good for you.

Nasreen said...

How wonderful. I like people who help and care about others.

The Joy of Home with Martha Ellen said...

Jeanie, thank goodness for the help of friends and family to gift you and Rick masks! My daughter made us a batch of them. I'm having to adjust our grandson's elastic as it's a little tight for him. He is a college student that lives with us and works in a pizza place partime. We wear our masks and wouldn't think of not doing so. Thank you for giving us your cousin's insight on things. I too worry a lot about those that are not wearing masks and not adhering to social distancing.

My name is Erika. said...

These are great stories Jeanie. Reading about your cousin in China was quite fascinating. That would never happen here, just like you said.And I bet they didn't have protests either. Thanks for sharing these stories, and enjoy (if that's the right word) those color coordinating masks. Hugs-Erika

Jo Rashi said...

This is an amazing post... thanks for sharing all the information, especially about China.. Great masks.... stay safe dear :-)
http://www.beautyandfashionfreaks.com

Pam Richardson said...

Three stories of wonderful caring people. Thanks for sharing these uplifting stories Jeanie.

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

Lifetime friends are treasures. They knew us back then, when we young and life was full of expectations.

The French Hutch said...

Such a nice post about these sweet friends and interesting and informative. My sweet sister-in-law has been making masks and giving away to family and friends and doctor offices. I always love seeing your photos, darling little friends........Stay safe Jeanie!

Pam said...

Mask...thank goodness for folks that can sew! HAHA...I can, I know basic stuff but the sewing machine is still at the other house. I was going to go over today and start moving the stuff left but wow, major kicking headache today. Pollen, wind and spring. Crazy. Don't you love looking back on older pics. I know I do. Have a great day.

Marilyn Miller said...

Love your friendship connections to the masks. I particularly loved the plaid ones on you and Rick. I enjoyed visiting Jim's blog. I could be tempted to buy one of his leaf turtles for my tea tray. I have seen that video at the end before, but each time it just makes me smile. It actually tempted me to pull my sewing machine out of storage and see if it still works. It did! Humm? wondering now about making some masks.

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

I wanted to tell you something that actually referenced your previous post. I saw something cute the other day. It was a REAL photo of people milling around the Michigan state capital with signs that read, "Our choice, no masks," and "Our choice, we want to return to work." Isn't it odd that these die hard republicans have finally opted for the RIGHT TO CHOOSE!!

Friko said...

No wonder the Chinese got on top of the virus so quickly. In both our countries the govt. dithered and waited with their response.
Fools!
How kind your friends and family are to send you masks. We are not even told to wear them because if we all asked for them there wouldn’t be any left for healthcare professionals. Anyway, that’s what our govt tells us.

Have you found a hairdresser to do your hair? You don’t look nearly as unkempt, overgrown, root regrowing as ladies my end do.

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I love your various masks and the stories behind them! Phil’s mom got masks for us from a neighbor on her block who is sewing them. I am glad we have them. She made a little Lorax one for Paul but there is no chance of him wearing it. But it sure is cute. Maybe he will play pretend with it when he’s older.

I wish that they would require that all people wear masks. That would certainly help. Maybe that is what is coming next here in MN. Our stay at home order ends on 5/4 and I haven’t heard what is next.

Sandra Cox said...

It was interesting hearing what's going on in China.

Little Wandering Wren said...

Love your mask post and the generosity of your mask givers! You have quite a selection there. We wear masks 100% of the time outside our front door these days. The reactions to masks have been different from the world over. I tried to send some masks to my family in the Uk and Australia but it's illegal to export masks from Thailand (we had no idea!) lucky the envelopes were returned from the Post Office and we were not arrested!
Wren x

Karen thisoldhouse2.com said...

I have several friends in town who have been making masks, and I'm grateful to be the beneficiary of a few. neck warmers also work well as a mask if need be. Yours are charming!

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Thanks, Jeanie, for sharing about your caring friends and for including photos of them as well. It's so nice to put a face with a name, especially these days when we can't even see faces very well. You and Rick looked quite spiffy in your custom masks which look more comfortable than our homemade bandana ones. Like you, I am not good with any sewing projects, except putting a button back on a shirt or coat.

Barb said...

I finally ordered 4 masks on Etsy from a lady in Ohio. I think (hope) they'll arrive next week. Plus my friend Helen is making me some (my birthday is coming up, and I told her they'd be the perfect gift). Bob and I have been wearing tubular cloth ski buffs made from a lightweight material. However, they're becoming too hot. We've discovered they also don't stay up well if we grocery shop and are looking up and down a lot. This week, I've been folding a square scarf and tying it around my face when I exercise. In the wilderness, I don't have to pull it up much, but I always have one on. Your friends and family are looking out for you, which is wonderful. I've heard especially on weekends, people are coming to town from the Front Range and not social distancing or wearing masks. I never go into town on the weekends, but our mayor said they may have to ask police to enforce the distancing and mask wearing in the town center where sidewalks are narrow. Actually, both our governor and our mayor have asked people not to visit, but they come anyway. Jeanie, you were close to me in that photo on top of Loveland Pass (except I probably didn't live here then).

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

An interesting story from your cousin Jack experiences of living in China during COVID. It's nice he sent extra masks to his sister and you! It is wonderful China hands them out to the people and here we have to struggle to find them. We are supposed to wear them at all times when we are out, but I've sadly seen many who are not and don't want to wear them. There are always the contrary people...sigh

A kind neighbor made two masks for my husband and I, then my daughter-in-law learned how to sew them and made us a few, and my daughter ordered some for us so that we will have a good supply to wear and wash.

I loved all the cute photos of you with your bestie friend as a child! I also loved the Loveland Pass photos as I have a similar one of myself with my husband.

Pamela said...

How wonderful! You have dear friends. I love your photos!

Lisbeth @ The Content Reader said...

What lovely stories behind your masks. It is nice to have friends like that. Use them, take care and keep safe!

BeachGypsy said...

Hello there Jeanie my friend...this is a great post, I sure enjoyed it. Love all the happy pictures from past happy times. Especially the ones of you as a litle girl.....oh HOW CUTE!! How well I remember the sweet little dresses we wore....you don't really see that anymore, do we? Era long gone I guess. Loved the pictures of y'all in your spiffy masks--definetly lending some REAL CHEER to this bizarre time. You look so cute in yours, and yes, in that one picture you sure look like you have a flower in your hair--my first thought was "wow, Jeanie is SURE DOING IT UP RIGHT...the mask and then she adds a flower for prettiness!!" LOL Hope your Friday is going well.

Miss Val's Creations said...

Great stories Jeanie. It is amazing how people are helping each other through the pandemic. The masks are so important and I think many will continue to wear them even when the virus is not long a threat. At lease we now have access to such pretty ones!

Sketchbook Wandering said...

i've become fascinated by the masks...went from horror at the thought to now thinking of them as a fashion accessory in favorite colors, coordinated with my scarves. My my art friend at Sew Sew Art made 2 for me. At the end of today she will have made ovetr 100, plus surgical caps. She won't take money, said to pray for the frontline workers every time you put one on. (they who are not so privileged to be thinking of them in terms of pretty colors.) I made her handmade cards/folios in return.

I may do a blog post. Today I'm going to try to sew one...we shall see...

I wish I was still in touch with my 4 year old friend who moved. I haven't thought of her in years, until you shared your story...She wore fluffy dresses with crinolins I wore plain old hand me downs....

Lowcarb team member said...

Such an uplifting post, thank you for sharing the stories and all the photographs.

Hope you are staying safe and well in these rather uncertain and unsettling times.

All the best Jan

French Ethereal said...

Very sweet post, Jeanie!!! Love your pics, Bonnie and Clyde!! <3 Great stories all, and isn't it lifelong friends who make us happy to be alive?!! Wonderful that they sent you some masks. :)

I keep thinking to sit down and make some. I have two in the car: one from a five-pack of work masks we had in the garage for woodworking and such, and another from going to the local CVS for a UTI. When I go over to school to volunteer, our nurse and principals put out a box of masks and gloves for the staff to use. I take my mask home and keep it as a spare. There are no masks available at the big box stores, Walmart, Target.

I wonder though if when I was so sick in Jan/Feb that I didn't have the virus. Several friends had variations but two of us ended up with type of pneumonia. I hurt all over my back whenever I breathed and the front of my chest hurt where my heart sits. I coughed up small amounts of blood and coughed a lot. Often nothing came out. I had a 103 fever off and on for three weeks and one Saturday night it raged I-don't-know-how-high but high enough to completely soak my sheets and clothing. It was 30 degrees outside and 60-something in our bedroom. This was day 12 of being sick and the next morning I went to urgent care. That was Jan. 20th.

The local urgent care/ER gave me a medicine I could take (I am allergic to many antibiotics) and after it was about another 7 days, I went back and they put me on Levoquin (Levofloxacin). A full 7 days later I finally began feeling better. When we went on spring break, Friday, March 6th, I was just starting to go on walks again for more than just a quick walk to get Yoda out. I still coughed up stuff. At school, I'd cover with my elbow (normal for me) and go into the hallway to cough during classes. During this time I used up an entire inhaler for asthma but really it didn't touch this "pneumonia." The doctors didn't have the test for COVID-19 then. Between Charles and myself, we used up four boxes of tissues (big boxes). Charles was diagnosed with bronchitis but they tested him in the afternoon, not the morning when he was much worse. He works for Samsung and their division president had been over for a dinner meeting with employees just before Christmas. Some product comes from China but most is made in South Korea. The timing for this was right when China hadn't shared that there was a problem brewing.

Anyway, it may have been here early in Dallas area because we have a large Chinese/Asian population and because many Chinese students attend NCTC and UTC here in Denton. For us, this may be the second wave.

Just a thought. I am waiting to see when they will begin locally looking for people to test for antibodies. I'd like to be tested.

Glad you are doing well and enjoy those cute masks!!! They make for great pictures,
Hugs,
Barb :)

French Ethereal said...

Oh my gosh! I love the video with poor Kay!!! Love her bandages...

Danielle L Zecher said...

I love that so many people shared masks with you. You must have felt so loved when each of those packages arrived.

The demand for masks here seems to have declined. I still have some crocheted straps on hand for whenever the demand goes back up. We start a phased re-opening tomorrow, but so many people are blatantly saying they're going to do whatever they want, I suspect we'll have another surge in cases, and a need for more masks. If any of the folks you know who are making them to share are in need of crochet straps, please send them my way. :-)

Louca por porcelana said...

Friends are precious...Sweet photos.Hugs and Happy Pink Saturday!

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