Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘face masks

Rare Interaction

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We interacted in a social way with other humans yesterday! Late February 2021. A milestone. Duly masked for appropriate social behavior in a pandemic, we hosted our friends, Barb and Mike Wilkus to share an appetizer, visit the chickens, and then travel to Pepin for a snowshoe hiking event at YMCA’s Camp Pepin. Afterward, we returned to our house for a light dinner, dessert by the fire, a little banter, and …blink, blink… the night was over.

There will never be enough time to catch up on the year of social interaction we have lost since the pandemic swept the world.

Hanging with friends will never feel fully satisfying until masking is no longer standard procedure.

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Despite the limitations, we happily absorbed every second of the gift of friends who love the outdoors and are up for adventures. Camp Pepin was decked out with ice lanterns along a groomed trail and campfires aglow in the woods for an open house event intended to rejuvenate interest in camp activities that the virus outbreak has squelched.

As the dusk of the hour consumed us, we came upon a familiar scene of a deer carcass that had certainly fed a variety of wildlife.

 Looked strikingly similar to the one we found in our woods, antlers, and all.

The weather was perfectly comfortable for winter activity and the treasure of enjoying it with precious friends was a wonderful treat.

It sparks a glimmer of hope for visions of increased opportunities on the horizon in the months ahead. Do we dare begin to make plans again for renewing our old level of interactions with other people as vaccinations reach a greater majority?

That will be one step toward making it happen. Let’s all start making plans now for as normal a summer as possible to help galvanize the future reality we want to happen.

I am emphatically hoping it can play out sans masks.

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Written by johnwhays

February 21, 2021 at 11:29 am

Humorless Grind

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Here’s the thing. Given a choice between being serious or having a laugh, I choose the laugh every time. Unfortunately, a year into a deadly pandemic, I’m finding it harder and harder to encounter the amount of funny that I prefer in a typical day.

I suppose part of it is a natural result of Cyndie and me shutting ourselves in at home weekend after weekend. Laughing at ourselves gets a little old after a while when that’s the only humor we are finding. I should probably scour our bookshelves for something written by Dave Barry or my anthologies of Berkeley Breathed’s “Bloom County” comics.

Despite some people’s best efforts, jokes about facemasks or social distancing don’t quite satisfy. Any humor about the good old days “BP” (Before Pandemic) just tend to make me sad.

We were watching a movie over the weekend that included a scene in which someone made a wish and blew out the candles on their birthday cake and it made us cringe and yell at the screen to tell them to throw away the cake.

I got a little chuckle last night when Cyndie set down an open soft-cover book with the pages down and Pequenita became obsessed with pawing at the glossy cover like she was trying to move all of her kitty-litter completely out of the box.

Even when we find something funny and surprise ourselves by laughing to tears over it when it didn’t really deserve that extreme, the pall of pandemic misery is still stuck on everything like an oily film.

Making it through a full year of pandemic restrictions should be its own reward and the “light at the end of the tunnel” vaccine distribution is supposed to be fueling hope, but the stark reality of many months more of it all still ahead of us is quick to extinguish the best of laughs.

You’d think I might appreciate getting tickled by my face mask, but it just triggers sneezing and then I get the sniffles.

I don’t find sniffling to be very funny.

I’m pretty sure I know what’s really bugging me. My friends make me laugh and socializing has long been discouraged. Wisecracking banter loses all its charm through the clumsy video-chat apps. Makes me just want to put on my best mittens, cross my arms and legs, and slouch back curmudgeonly in my chair, I tell ya.

News reports are announcing that SNL is returning from their holiday hiatus this coming weekend with the first new show of 2021 being hosted by John Krasinski. Something to look forward to.

All I have to do is survive the humorless grind of reported new cases and more deaths for another five days.

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Written by johnwhays

January 26, 2021 at 7:00 am

Thanksgiving 2020

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Written by johnwhays

November 26, 2020 at 7:00 am

Custom Masks

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Way back in April, when Cyndie was down at her parent’s place in Florida, she started sewing face masks to share with others. When the state of Minnesota mandated wearing facemasks in the workplace, I began putting Cyndie’s designs to a full day’s test. I wear glasses almost the entire time I am at work, so a mask fit that minimized fogging became a priority for me.

The earliest version I wore became uncomfortable behind my ears so I lobbied for styles that didn’t wrap around the back of my tender lobes. I figured the neck gaiter would be super convenient and I already wear a lot of Buff® headgear, so I convinced Cyndie to sew added protection into one of mine. I have read that relying on the material in most conventional neck gaiters alone is actually worse than not wearing any face-covering at all because the porous fabric will shred exhaled breath into greater amounts of aerosolized particles that, because of the small size, float around longer.

We also cut up another old Buff® to experiment with adding strips sewn to the front covering which then wrap around the back of my neck, instead of around the ears.

To eliminate needing to pull it over my head, we tried cutting the gaiter and adding several kinds of hook & loop sewn into the fabric. That allows me to wrap it around the back of my neck to secure the mask.

Yesterday, Cyndie accommodated my desire to try another customization. I want to keep all the advancements she has made with extra filter fabric in front and removable inserts for washing, but give another try to a more relaxed loop around my ears.

Earloops, if they aren’t under too strong an elastic pull, are less confining than having the gaiter material all the way around my head. After weeks of the prior versions, I’m interested in returning to the simpler design.

It was a cloudy, blustery November day outside, which made an indoor sewing project that much more inviting. I was able to contribute a tiny bit of my own labor by cutting out fabric using the patterns Cyndie made for the style I prefer.

Thanks to her ingenuity, I already had enough masks that I could wear a different one each day, and every mask is unique. I have a wonderful collection of prototypes.

Today, I have two more custom masks from which to choose.

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Written by johnwhays

November 16, 2020 at 7:00 am