Suffering on the Sofa: My CoViD-19 Story Day 12



We CAN do this. And we are.

My hibernation began on March 13. It was a Friday. We’re on Day 13 today, with only one run to the post office so far. Tomorrow, we’ll see our first outing to the food store, using their new “curb side delivery service.” We placed our order yesterday.

In a word, it’s going well.

I find the less I know about the current death toll or how quickly the virus is spreading in my region, the better. I’m living each day as though I already have it — Except that I can breathe, which is a really lovely difference.  One I’m enormously grateful for.

I stopped watching TV news a while ago. Now, I’m even skipping the NY Times headlines that deal with the virus or US politics.  Each day of the week, the Times features a topic: Science on Tuesdays has long been my favorite. But they also have a special day for Wealth, one for Sports, and so on. I still read those. Usually.

I’m enjoying having more time to peruse the blogs of those who follow me. And there’s all that other reading I’ve been meaning to get to, like  working through the print books that have filled my shelves for too long. Currently, I’m reading Winter Men by Jesper Bugge Kold, set in 1930s Germany.  Why? I didn’t know what it was about when I started and now it’s too late to put it down.

Staying active is a well-known balm against anxiety and exercise tops the list. In fact, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America lists a number of ways to exercise to reduce your stress and anxiety levels and exercise is vital. Check it out.

While my mom still takes the occasional hike up our hill, she has also taken to the sewing machine making face masks for the local hospital. She’s dubbed herself “Millie the Mask Maker.” (But don’t ever call her Millie; only she can do that).


Photo Credit: Millie the mask maker

Turns out it’s a much wider campaign than the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. And, it’s in response to the recent report put out by the Center for Disease Control. 


[learn_more caption=”Here’s the AP article that ran in my local paper on Tuesday, on just how wide spread it is.”]CHICAGO (AP) — Bill Purdue waterproofs basements for a living, but he has spent the past few days in his buddy’s Washington, Indiana, auto trim and upholstery shop cutting rectangles of cotton fabric that his friend sews into face masks.

Fashion designer Briana Danyele left Italy last month to return to her mother’s Greer, South Carolina, home, where she has turned the living room into a mini sewing factory, making masks that she embroiders with the words, “We Got This!”

They’re among scores of people answering pleas from hospitals, doctors and nurses so desperate for personal protective equipment amid the viral pandemic that they’ve turned to the public, saying do-it-yourself face masks are better than nothing.

And for those sitting at home worrying as the virus strains hospitals and the economy teeters, sewing masks makes them feel less helpless.

“Whatever it takes to get the job done, that’s what I want to do,” said Purdue, 57, whose daughter works at the women’s hospital in Evansville, Indiana. He and his friend Mike Rice responded to a Facebook post last week from Deaconess Health System in Evansville asking the public for help.

The efforts mirror those in other countries, including Spain, where mask-making volunteers include a group of nuns and members of the Spanish Air Force. Around 500 masks a day are coming off sewing machines at the Paratroop School in Murcia, in the country’s southeast, according to the Air Force’s Twitter account. In Belgium, what began as a one-woman operation about a week ago grew to a small army of home-sewing mask-makers within days.

For most people, the new virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority recover.

But the virus is spreading rapidly and starting to max out the health care system in several cities. Deaconess spokeswoman Pam Hight said the hospital system realized it could face a shortage if local infections skyrocket like they have elsewhere. So officials produced and posted a how-to video that has being shared across the country.

“We had people who wanted to ship them to us from all over the United States and we started saying, ‘Please, please use them in your communities,'” she said. “It makes your heart warm; people are so good.” She said Deaconess expects to collect thousands of masks this week at an off-hospital site and sanitize them before distributing them to nurses and doctors or sending them to local nursing homes and homeless shelters.

In a similar effort, Providence St. Joseph’s Health in the hard-hit Seattle area is putting together kits using special material and distributing them to people willing to sew them together as part of a 100-million mask challenge.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, New Hampshire’s largest hospital, is preparing kits with fabric and elastic and encouraging volunteers to sew face masks for patients, visitors and staff so medical-grade protective equipment can be conserved for front-line health care workers. Federal officials had previously advised hospital workers to use surgical masks when treating patients who might be infected with coronavirus amid reports of dwindling supplies of fitted and more protective N95 respirator masks.

“If nurses quit or become too fatigued or even become ill themselves, then we don’t have a front line anymore,” said Wendy Byard of Lapeer, Michigan. She began organizing friends to make masks after learning her daughter, a nurse at a suburban Detroit hospital, was told to wear the same mask all day.

Last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quietly updated its guidance, saying hospitals that run low on surgical masks should consider ways to reuse them or to use them through an entire shift. And if hospitals run out out, the CDC said, scarfs or bandanas could be used ”as a last resort,” though some health officials warned cloth masks might not work.

Mary Dale Peterson, president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists and chief operating officer at a Corpus Christ, Texas, children’s hospital, said she declined volunteers’ offers to make masks. She said construction and manufacturing industries instead should donate or sell the high-grade masks they have to hospitals.

“It would be only an extremely, extremely last resort that I would have my staff” wear homemade masks, she said. “I really hope it doesn’t get to that point in the U.S.”

At the Missouri Quilt Museum in Hamilton, Missouri, board members asked local hospitals if masks were needed and “they emphatically said yes,” said director Dakota Redford. Soon other health care providers, including ambulance crews and nursing homes, were requesting masks.

“This has been a true grassroots effort that has exploded across the country in the quilting world,” she said. Businesses also are stepping up.

Crafts chain Joann Stores is making all of its 800-plus stores available for up to 10 people at each location to sew masks and hospital gowns, offering sewing machines and supplies, spokeswoman Amanda Hayes said.

Hayes said the number of people allowed in the stores adheres to CDC guidelines, the sewing stations will be six feet apart and staff will continuously sanitize the work areas and materials. The company also has special kits for customers who want to make masks at home.

“We’re enabling people to feel like they are contributing at a time when we don’t have control,” Hayes said.

In Baltimore, almost 160 volunteers with 414 3D printers between them are making plastic face shields for Johns Hopkins and other area hospitals and dropping them off at a maker space called Open Works. Executive Director Will Holman, who organized the effort, said he laid off 21 part-time employees last week because of the virus but has rehired some to assemble, sterilize and package the shields.

Danyele, the South Carolina fashion designer, said she made about 200 masks bound for a local nursing home and hospitals in Florida, Georgia, Indiana and Illinois.

“If I’m one person creating 200 masks, imagine what we all could do,” said Danyele, 24. “It’s super sad that we’re at this point, but this is encouraging.” ———

Durbin reported from Detroit and D’Innocenzio from New York. Associated Press writers Jeff McMillan and Michael Stobbe in New York; Martha Bellisle in Seattle; Fares Akram in Gaza City, Gaza Strip; Barry Hatton in Lisbon; and Virginia Mayo in Atwerp, Belgium, contributed to this report. Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission. [/learn_more]


Of course, having sufficient face masks also means having unexpected consequences. Turns out two men wearing surgical masks made off with $260,000 from Aqueduct Race Track in New York earlier this month. Seems they just fit right in with the crowds where face masks are becoming the norm.

Be advised.

If you want to adopt this project in your community, here’s a link to the information from Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center to help you do just that.  By that I mean the making of face masks projects, not the robbing of the race track project. Be advised again.


[learn_more caption=”Sewing Masks for Donations”] One way to supplement our ever-changing inventory of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is to join the national movement of volunteers who have started to sew masks.

This generous outpouring is in response to the Center for Disease Control’s guidance that fabric masks are a crisis response option when other supplies have been exhausted.

Below is our general guidance for those who wish to participate and help by sewing masks for donation.

Thank you for donating your time and talent to help Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health. We appreciate your generosity.

Important infection prevention

Before starting this project, please ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Have you been in contact with anyone suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 in the past 14 days?
  2. Do you have fever, cough or shortness of breath?

If you are able to answer “NO” to both questions, then proceed with making masks.

If you answer “YES” to either or both questions, please do not make masks. If you are experiencing cough, fever, or shortness of breath and have a concern that you may have COVID-19 please call your primary care provider for a risk assessment.

Instructions for making masks


  • 100% unused cotton fabric (front) – no metallic fabrics
  • 100% cotton or cotton flannel (back)
  • 1/4″ or 3/8” flat elastic

If you would like a kit of fabric to get you started, please call ahead for availability to our Lebanon donation center hotline at 603-650-4217. This number is open Monday -Friday  7:00 am to 3:30 pm.

An instruction video is available from Deaconess Health System.

Written instructions are also available.

Dropping off masks Masks can be dropped off in re-sealable plastic bag to one of our donation centered located at:

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Service Center Green Warehouse 50 LaBombard Road North Lebanon, NH

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Manchester 100 Hitchcock Way Manchester, NH[/learn_more]



[learn_more caption=”How to make a Face Mask”] What you will need

  • Cotton fabric, a pretty print is best.
  • Rope Elastic, beading cord elastic will work (you may also us 1/8” flat elastic)

Cut the elastic 7” long and tie a knot at each end (DO NOT knot the ends of the flat)

You can make two sizes: Adult or Child

1. Put right sides of cotton fabric together

o Cut 9×6 (Adult) or 7.5 x 5 (Child)

2. Starting at the center of the bottom edge, sew to the first corner, stop. Sew the elastic with the edge out into the corner. A few stitches forward and back will hold this.

3. Sew to the next corner, stop, and bring the other end of the same elastic to the corner and sew a few stitches forward and back.

4. Now sew across that top of the mask to the next corner. Again put an elastic with the edge out.

5. Sew to the next corner and sew in the other end of the same elastic.

6. Sew across the bottom leaving about 1.5” to 2” open. Stop, cut the thread. Turn inside out.

7. Pin 3 tucks on each side of the mask. Make sure the tucks are the same direction

8. Sew around the edge of the mask twice. It is so easy to make this. Be sure any fabric design is placed horizontally.[/learn_more]


But all work and no play makes Jill a dull date. Or something like that.  So, thanks to Facebook (my social media Happy Place) I am now in possession of a nearly lifetime supply of recommended cinematic delights.

Yes. Last week I posted a simple request:

Suggestions for Netflix
streaming? Any long-running
series you want to recommend?

Knowing that most of my readers are in the “over 65” demographic and are, hopefully, tucked away inside their cocoon of choice, as I am, I shall today share my stash.

NOTE: I have not yet seen most of them, so I’m not necessarily recommending them.  But have a look.

[learn_more caption=”Streaming Recommendations”] I have put them in alpha order, which helped me identify which ones were recommended more than once.

(Anne with an E, Better Call Saul, Breaking Bad, The Crown, Grace and Frankie, Heartland, Longmire, and Outlander (first three seasons free on Netflix, in case you were wondering.  We’ve seen four of them already, leaving another four, with which we’ll of course begin our binge-fest).

I’ve also included the often entertaining comments that accompanied the recommendation. Here, in alpha order, they are:

Anne with an E – remake of Anne of Green Gables

Babylon Berlin — If you like history,

BackStairs at the White House is a series about a black woman who served something like 5 presidents. Leslie Uggams plays her daughter who suffered from polio and had a special bond with Roosevelt.

Better Call Saul, an off the wall legal comedy

Bonus Family

I enjoyed The Boys, but only 1 season so far

Breaking Bad – comedy of errors

Broadchurch – mystery

Call the Midwife

Charade – Cary Grant & Audrey Hepburn

The Crown

We just watched Dead Poet Society, an oldie but a goodie, for free at VUDU.

Designated Survivor was excellent…especially in these days of “you know who!”

Doc Martin on Acorn

Endeavor…prequel to Inspector Morse (also excellent), but with the added attraction of Shaun Evans. The next season is already out in the UK but not yet here – may resort to re-watching previous seasons!

Jason Momoa in “Frontier”

Gilmore Girls is good! very literate and there’s a lot of mention of books

Glitch – sci fi thriller

The Good Place

Grace and Frankie

If you have Amazon, Grand Tour is great fun, it’s a British car show

Great Expectations

Grey’s Anatomy

Haunting of Hill House — horror

Heartland a beautiful story with horses in Canada’s beautiful scenery

The Kominsky Method

Last Tango in Halifax

Life in Pieces also tickled me

Locke & Key – suspense

Longmire is amazing, a modern day western series both my husband and I loved.

Lonesome Dove  late 90’s TV series but excellent! Great characters & actors.

The new Lost in Space series

Love Sick — touching and sometimes humorous

MANY free movies available on – takes some searching, but I found a couple I’m going to watch again.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is on Amazon,

The British series, Merlin! I believe its 5 seasons long, and so good!

Miss Fisher murder mysteries

Monk on Netflix

Nailed it!

Outlander – romance fantasy



The Paradise

Peaky Blinders. Great story, not too much sex, plenty of gratuitous violence, lots of swearing and great British accents. It’s the story of a crime family in Birmingham, England in the 1920’s. Great costumes and sets.

Rake – comedy

The Ranch – comedy

Resurrection Ertugrul. Turkish series with English subtitles. 5 seasons each episode about 45 min. We’ve watched it 3 times. Love the characters!

Schitts Creek  5 seasons and it’s hilarious. I’m bingeing and can’t get enough.

Self Made – the CJ Walker story

Sex Education is brilliant

Tales of the City

The Sinner Spooks

The Spy is excellent based on true events; is a short series

Still Game – comedy

Stranger Things- adventure SciFi

Top of the Lake – Recommend!

Unbelievable Wentworth: dark drama set in an Australian women’s prison

When They See Us

Where the Heart is I also love

The World’s Most Extraordinary Houses – Yellowstone is wonderful. Available thru Amazon Prime.

100 Humans

How many have you seen? What can you add to my ever-growing list? [/learn_more]


That’s my formula: stay busy and have fun.

I’m still finding gratitude each day: gratitude that I can still take a long slow breath (a belly breath ideally, but I’ll not be fussy), and gratitude for my readers who make putting these posts together more than worthwhile. Thank you. Until the  next time,

How are you spending your time these days? What are you grateful for? 

16 Responses

  1. Cheryl
    | Reply

    Hi Janet, love your post, and your links to suggestions/how to’s/articles – so useful. My husband, Olivier, and I have only been in lock down since Sunday night. We’re cooking (not too much), eating together, exercising, spending far too much time online – but using it to connect with people to get help, advice, and to not feel so alone. Definitely trying to stay away from the news and other sources of information which I deem ‘useless’ – meaning it’s not going to help my situation. I’m using the time to read books, although I had to leave my favourite ones in Moscow. To think. And, about what I’m grateful for? Olivier and I have our health, as you, we can also breath deeply and freely. Our families in Australia and France are in good health. And, after living in Russia for 10+ years, and now finding myself in Romania, I’m grateful for the European butter that we bought two days ago – the taste of real, good, creamy, butter is something that I wasn’t aware of missing so much! It’s delicious! Take good care, Janet. xx
    Cheryl recently posted…The First Days in BucharestMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Hello Cheryl. Thank you for sharing that. I am constantly curious how this pandemic is being met elsewhere and first person accounts, for me, are the best. I’ve begun reading your blog posts, fascinated with that part of the world. In fact, I shared your most recent one on my fb author page. I look forward to catching up more on your story. Best wishes to you and Olivier for continued good health. I wonder if I’ll ever take mine for granted again?
      Janet Givens recently posted…Suffering on the SofaMy Profile

      • Cheryl
        | Reply

        Thank you, Janet, for sharing my blog. Facebook has decided that my blog is spam, for reasons unknown, and has blocked mentioning it at all on FB anywhere. I hope that people who are interested in our story will find it anyway. It’s not the biggest problem right now. As for your question, I’m absolutely sure that I will never take my good health for granted again. I’m using this time to wean myself off my sugar addiction. 🙂 x
        Cheryl recently posted…Introducing CheburashkaMy Profile

  2. Bette Stevens
    | Reply

    Love it, Janet! Kudos to your mom… Inspiring post. Sharing! Stay safe and healthy. We’ve been in since March 13 as well and finding plenty to keep us busy and informed.

  3. Tim Fearnside
    | Reply

    Janet, I love your positive energy, attitude, and outlook. It’s a nice shot in the arm, always. I’m grateful for a lot right now. One I think about frequently is just how lucky we are to live in a nice home, with some open space and distance, in a beautiful part of the world with trails and public land nearby. Biking, hiking, and gardening are a big part of the mental health regimen right now. There are other scenarios out there that I can’t imagine right now. We’re truly lucky.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Indeed we are, Tim. Thanks for the important reminder. I’ve been exploring community music this afternoon. There is something so powerful in a room with many people uniting their voice in song. Even when it’s on YouTube. Enjoy your warmer weather out there. Just remember I’m jealous. April is the hardest month for me here in NE Vermont. Winter toys with us still.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Suffering on the SofaMy Profile

  4. Laurie Buchanan
    | Reply

    Janet — If you could see me, you’d see that I’m giving your mom a standing ovation.

  5. Ally Bean
    | Reply

    These are lousy times, but I won’t fret over it. I’m grateful for the house in which we live. I am grateful for having food and supplies in the house and the ability to go get more. I am grateful that my husband and I can live together 24/7 without difficulty. I am grateful we are not a country at war. And I’m grateful that I can take this time to comment on blogs ‘cuz that’s where the people are right now.
    Ally Bean recently posted…A Fun Project: Getting Freaky With A Couple Of Jigsaw PuzzlesMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Oh yes, I’d forgotten the 24/7 husband. Good one. I read somewhere yesterday, someone wondered if in nine months we’d have more divorces or more babies. Time will tell. He wasn’t controlling for age, I notice. Thanks for popping in Ally.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Suffering on the SofaMy Profile

  6. Marian Beaman
    | Reply

    So timely, Janet, but of course you know that!

    I was just listening to Whoopi’s interview of Newt Gingrich on The View–what a pairing! You may know he lives in Rome with his wife, ambassador to the Vatican, Italy very hard hit with the virus.

    A few days ago I decided to to “fast” from news, just getting the headlines. I don’t think I’m missing anything important since there’s a lot of repetition.

    The highlight of my day was face-timing with my Pilates friends and instructor to catch up. Tomorrow we are hoping to have a 15-minute exercise session online.

    As to entertainment, we’ve been watching a new Julian Fellowes mini-series called The English Game, a combo of football and love stories, much of it set in Scotland.

    I am grateful for good health and the eye injections I received this morning to save my sight. Love and wellness to all, Janet, Woody, and all the commenters here.
    Marian Beaman recently posted…A Cat Tale: How do you Accommodate?My Profile

  7. Janet Givens
    | Reply

    Face timing a Pilates class. That’s a first. I imagine there’ll be many firsts before this virus has run its course. My writers group will meet in a zoom room this Monday, a first for us. Thanks for the J Fellowes tip. I’ll check it out. .
    Janet Givens recently posted…Suffering on the SofaMy Profile

  8. Arlene Smith
    | Reply

    For me, this kind of social distancing is a gift. I have been doing lots of writing and reading. Every day I tackle one project that I put off for far too long – organizing the filing cabinet, cleaning out my closet, checking the expiry dates in the medicine cabinet . . . I find the secret to being at peace with this is accepting that these are not normal times, so everything is not supposed to be normal. I’m not trying to do everything electronically that I used to do in person. Some things, yes, but not everything. Some things I’ve just let go . . .

  9. Sheryl
    | Reply

    Great post. The quote at the top of it made me smile.

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