Back to Masking up

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I haven’t written about life in the time of Covid not because I had begun thinking we have gotten rid of it and slid back to “normal” as we knew it per-pandemic. I just felt I needed a break from writing about it. Plus, I fell into a lull again. But I had promised myself I will try to move forward and be more focused on the writing. So here I am.

This time, last year, we slowly started to emerge from our self imposed exile and uber vigilance against covid. New York City started to ease up as the numbers began to decline in July. This year, we see more people exercising their option not to wear masks, given that a huge chunk of the local populace has opted to be vaccinated. My son and I are both in that category, and I have the proof in my Excelsior app and vaccination card.

I volunteered to return to work beginning April, but the boss had returned weeks ahead. It was a mix of a sense of duty plus a need to ease myself into some semblance of normalcy that prompted me to go back. For months, everyone had been required to wear masks everywhere except in their own space. I was fortunate that by the time I returned, a workplace adjustment was made that made masks optional in our corporate campus if we were fully vaccinated. Of course, we still had to don the mask in common areas outside our space, as we shared the building with other tenants. (We did occupy floors 2-6 and basically had exclusive use of the elevators accessing our floors.)

In the commute, masks were required on the bus. There were days when I was the only passenger heading home. That was eerie but it felt safer for the most part, and I didn’t miss the sometimes almost full or full bus pre covid, which meant someone would sit next to me. I’m fortunate to have access to an express bus route that took me practically door to door, so I was with the same set of passengers after the last stop in Manhattan and the first stop on Main Street in my part of Queens.

Masking up again

I was making my own masks at the height of the pandemic and experimented with different patterns, shapes and fabrics. I gave some to family and friends, and despite the prodding of some to sell it, I never did get quite comfortable with the quality of my work to do that. Sometime at the start of the year, I ended up setting aside some cut fabric for another time. They lay untouched until recently when the Delta variant surge started to make waves and caused me to rethink the idea that masks would become truly optional.

I may be fully vaccinated but I’ve always been one to be more cautious than laxed when it comes to Covid. Even as I walk out in the open in my neighborhood these days, I carry a mask in one hand and quickly don it when I see people approaching — whether or not they are masked themselves. I have noticed, though, that more and more are wearing masks these days, even out in the open.

When we were deep into the panic and general fear of catching Covid, I had experimented with as many as 5 patterns. After wearing the different iterations in various types of fabric, I’ve picked a favorite pattern which I tweaked to extend the ends and revised how to sew the three layers of fabric together. Although I have not used a filter of any sort all this time, all the masks I’ve made have a filter pocket. To my mind, the three layers of fabric should be sufficient filtering, given that the masks I make are breathable from the top and the bottom. (Else how will you survive wearing them?!)

Once I figure out how to produce the pattern I have altered, I will write a post about it to share.

While I would like for the elastic to be anchored to the mask, I’ve found that providing a channel through which it can more freely be looped through works best and provides the best flexibility. I continue to use cord stoppers to control the tautness of the mask against my face.

Masking up again

So just when we thought that the availability of the vaccine would help us overtake Covid, the reticence of many and the outright refusal of more, added to the onslaught of the Delta variant, have caused us to slide back to putting our masks on.

Even at work, we are back to masking up. But with the way things have been going, it would’ve been a personal choice for me to put my mask back on even without the mandate, out of an abundance of caution. After more than a year of batting the scourge of Covid, not to mention the losses suffered globally, you’d think we would be more United and resolute about which way we would go. Unfortunately we are not.

So back to masking up, folks!

Hope lives on

Monday musings in paper and inkIt’s less than an hour to midnight, and I’m going to write as spontaneously as I can and hit “publish” before the clock tolls the end of the day. I’ve been writing blogposts right and left throughout my day in my head, but I often get stuck with the thought and end up with no post written. I am trying. But here goes..

Passion project in the works. An idea which hit me last week has gotten me all excited, although it hasn’t turned out as easy as I thought it would be. But I am excitedly taking baby steps towards making this project a reality. I don’t want to write about it too much because I don’t want to get ahead of myself. It’s just a good feeling to be working on something I know I can do, no matter that it isn’t exactly easy as pie. What’s more, I’m thinking about doing something I really would enjoy doing. While it is still in its infancy stage, I am very excited to be growing the idea in my head. It reminds me of a time when I was struggling to keep up with the expenses of being a law student in Ateneo and our resources were severely strained by business losses. I learned a lot during that time — and what I’m looking to do feels like a return to that first job I had, in a 21st century iteration. More to come..

Walking

I have been taking care of myself — even if it’s only walking. I’ve managed to go 13 out of 14 days straight, walking at least 5,000 steps, and getting some much-needed physical exertion in my daily routine. I’ve also been doing some mini workouts — and I know that doesn’t sound much for people who are used to spending hours in the gym or jogging miles and miles, but this is a big step for me. For someone who has abhorred the idea of exercise for decades, the fact that I’ve made this a habit the last two weeks except for that one day when the rains stopped me, is an accomplishment. I am proud of myself.

I gave in and started Noom. I am not quite comfortable writing about it yet, though, because I’ve only been on the program for two weeks. I was on the Keto diet for longer and although it did work and I lost weight, it was at a rather high price that made me drop the diet altogether. This one seems to be working just fine — and I like the way it’s structured. But more on that later..

I am picking up my tools again. It’s tax time and I get reminded during this time of the year how much I have literally invested in this business. It encourages me to try harder and I know I’ve been remiss with production, but I am hoping to get the shop going again soon.

Mask making has been put on pause momentarily. Just for a bit. I was cutting new pieces to sew last week — but I had decided to slow down, after the donations and then the batch I sent home with the balikbayan boxes. With the prevalence of Covid and the thought that this is really the new normal for the near future, I think wearing masks is something we really have to get used to. I am hoping to finish a few over the weekend. Taking my daily brisk walk around the community has also given me a chance to test which configurations work — and I’m planning to work on what I’ve discovered to make better masks.

Hope. I started this week hopeful. You know how sometimes you can’t help but be filled with dread and anxiety and all those negative feelings? While I am nowhere near giddy, this Monday finds me full of hope. Maybe I’ve found a sense of calm somehow — not that I am not affected by the rising numbers of cases in other states. New York continues to be in a cautious reopening phase, and we are nowhere near normal. But I am hopeful that no matter how difficult the challenges we face may be, the universe gives me a solution to help me pull through. The doors keep opening.

I am blessed to have that insight to find hope even when things can become overwhelming. And for that, I am grateful.

Here’s to an easy week for us — no matter what you’re doing this coming week, I hope you have it easy. I hope that you don’t get burdened by unnecessary stress. Take things one day at a time..

Happy Monday!

Another shelter in place Sunday

1D194D4D-0EE0-4B49-8BBD-46396D693D4AI see the sun shining outside but I’m trying to make the most of my Sunday morning in bed. I slept at probably around 2am, yet I woke up at 6:30am. I got up and answered the call of nature and went back under the sheets. Sleepcast to try and help me get back to sleep from my meditation app didn’t help. I thought an Etsy webinar would, but even as I was proven correct it was not really free and just a pitch for another course, I managed to stay awake all throughout.

Now I have a headache.

I’m already planning my nap. I am still trying to make my mind up about breakfast. My tummy is arguing with my head because my headache is telling me to go for the banana bread I baked last week, and my tummy is reminding me I got some asparagus for my Sunday brunch omelette. Or I can even go for a ham omelette ..Hmmm..
My Sunday

Not exactly a picture perfect asparagus and cheese omelette, but my tummy was happy

Pending the decision about what sustenance I will take before drinking my headache drug of choice, I have at least made up my mind the laundry will have to wait. (Maybe tomorrow or Tuesday.). Or maybe not. I think the lack of sleep is making me jump from one idea to the next. No, the body wins. I’m taking it easy this Sunday.

I guess that’s one reason I decided to write here, just to help sort the fuzziness in my head. Writing has always been a source of clarity.

I’ve been working on several mask patterns from various sources. I’ve donated my sewingforlives masks and now I want to make masks for myself. I went out yesterday wearing one as I walked to the corner to do errands in 70 degree temps. It was a beautiful day but the mask was hot.

It took some adjusting like always, and I needed to vent the mask by giving it more space between the cloth and my face every once in a while, but I managed. For all the different patterns I’m trying, it all comes down to comfort. Breathability is important or your mask will do you more harm than good. It has to be something you can stand wearing for an extended period of time. I’n writing a separate series of posts on the masks and will share the resources I’ve found, along with tweaks to the pattens I have done.

One of those patterns actually kept me up last night, but I am happy I finished it. While one might think a mask is a mask, I’ve found that there are different nuances in each pattern that can be used together to tweak certain features of a face covering.  This particular pattern looked a little wonky to me when I saw it online, but working on the actual mask showed me a new way to sew the front and back pieces together.

Post coming soon on this mask

So I stitched and unstitched and stitched again, and came up with my first prototype of this pattern, and it might yet turn out to be one of my favorites.

I’m trying to steer clear of the sewing for portions of my day when there is some free time to do the things I want to do. “Me time” has been confined to mostly sewing the past couple of weeks. My art journal has been set aside for the whole month of April, and I will try to do an entry today before May totally slips by. My beads and tools are also waiting for me. I know I had promised to create some pieces in the last week or so, but there was work, and the masks.

So as you can see, I’ve been very focused on creating face coverings and finding one (or two or three) actual mask that I like, and producing enough for me to use when I get back to work. Whenever that may be. Still experimenting..

I realize now that I have to stop stressing about returning to work, and part of that is easing up on my focus on the face coverings. This whole business of sheltering in place and the presence of the threat of corona hanging over my head has been a heavy burden. We try to cope as best we can, and I think I have been doing well for the most part, but I am only human. There’s always that part of us that suffers through the stress no matter how good we get at coping from day to day.

This Sunday, I’m going to work on at least one jewelry piece, and maybe even come up with one item or two for the shop. I already know which section of my art journal I will work on. I don’t really want to plan beyond that, because all I can think of right now he’s wanting to go back to sleep. And after everything I have written here, I still haven’t made up my mind about breakfast.

My headache has also not abated. It seems to be intent on keeping me company today. I haven’t even gotten out of bed yet, and I’m already planning my nap.

Sundays should not be so complicated. So let’s begin with my asparagus Omelette. Progress. At least breakfast is taken care of, and that’s one less decision to make today.

Dinner saw me baking a small batch of Pao de Quiejo using a different recipe from my first attempt a couple of weeks back. Simple enough. Headache crept away midday but I just didn’t have the energy for much.

My Sunday

I hope your Sunday went as well as mine. I hope that like me, you will take time to do something that you like doing, and find the time to just pause and breathe.

Another weekend sheltering in place– grateful to be safe at home and getting ready for the week ahead.