Friday, July 10, 2020

I'll show you my mask if you show me yours...


HALLIE EPHRON: Accessories speak volumes. Or at least they used to. The handbag or shoes or scarf or jewelry a stranger wore could telegraph who they were. (Think: Cher's chandelier earrings; Madonna's eye patch.)

These days, the signifier is often the mask.

When it comes to leaders in mask fashion, CNN reports:

Perhaps the most notable and influential mask fashionista to emerge in the pandemic has been House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the majority of whose color-coordinated masks come from Donna Lewis, a small boutique in Northern Virginia.
The shop's owner, Chris Lewis, told CNN that due to Pelosi's on-camera appearances wearing her masks, many of which feature chic designs and flamboyant hues, demand for masks has increased at a rate he can barely keep up with. Lewis says Pelosi's trendiness has resulted in the sale of at least 6,000 masks, and at $22 each, the income has been a lifeline while foot traffic at the store was halted due to Covid-19.
For the record, I want to BE Nancy Pelosi when I grow up. Guessing her masks (and beads) will end up in the Smithsonian along with Madeleine Albright's pins.

My fashionista grandchildren wear tube masks called “face gaiters” -- colorfully emblazoned with dinosaurs or superheroes. They’re like long turtleneck-necks made out of a breathable synthetic, probably defeating the purpose of filtering out microscopic particles. But they’re easy raise and lower so they’re less likely to get lost. Easy to rinse out and dry. Beats the alternatives for active kids.


I’ve struggled to find masks that work for me because I seem to have… defective ears. I can’t get most masks to stay on. My husband hooks a chain of paperclips to connect the ear elastics.
Here’s a mask my sister sent me from Los Angeles, made with Liberty of London fabric. It's cute but it's main virtues are that it stays on and can be washed and dried in a jiffy. Even during a pandemic I hate a use-once-and-throw-away anything.

 

What’s your chosen mask, and what does it say about you?


LUCY BURDETTE: We started out with those buffs too, Hallie, but
then my gym trainer made me this one. It’s so Key West and I love it.

I also have one made of leopard spot fabric which I love as well. But if I have to go to a doctor, I wear the plain surgical mask and throw it out as soon as I leave!

RHYS BOWEN: I’ve been amusing myself by making masks from various old T shirts, bits of fabric around the house. Also John’s
favorite Batik shirt ripped so I’m making him his own masks with the fabric.

I also made a mask from an old bra (but I don’t think I’ll share a
picture of that. I do have some dignity left. And besides, it didn’t let me breathe through it.)

However, since we now have a hundred surgical masks, I prefer to wear them. It’s easier to breathe through them.


JENN MCKINLAY: Jenn McKinlay: Way back in October when I was in Paris doing researcha for Paris is Always a Good Idea, I was told by the fashion folk that I spoke with that animal print was trending for 2020.

Fast forward to March when I needed a mask for the pandemic from hell, I found this one. It was the only one on the rack but when I saw the
leopard print, I knew my fashion minded people in Paris would nod in approval. Well, at least I hope they would.
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:
May I be contrarian and cranky?

I refuse to make this cute. I see designer masks for fifty dollars each, how insane. And team masks, and funny masks, and all that.

I hate the stupid masks. I would never go out without one, a plain blue one or a plain white one. The kind with pleats. But I refuse to make it fun.
(Don't yell at me.)

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I’m sorry I’m not at home (y’all, I’m on a TRIP! To Pennsylvania! Where I’m staying inside with my college roommate who’s been sheltering alone at home for four months, so it’s maybe not as exciting as those two exclamation marks would indicate.) The Maine Millennial has been buying amusing masks, including one made - for no reason I can discern - from fabric covered with pictures of Ron Weasley/Rupert Grinch. I would definitely show you that, as well as the fat squares of Lilly Pulitzer fabric I’m going to use to make masks for me and the girls.
Like Hallie, I apparently have an abnormally large face or weirdly spread-out ears, because most pre-made masks don’t fit well. This is my favorite one currently - I have three identical to it - which was made by a generous friend of mine. They all have ties instead of elastic, which makes it look rather more like I’ve stepped out of a surgical ward, but they’re very convenient when running errands. I tie the lower ties in place around my neck and let the mask dangle until I reach my destination.

Do I like wearing masks? No. Do I wear one whenever I enter the grocery store or pump gas? Yes.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: I have yet to buy a "statement" mask, although I've been tempted by
some! Hallie, I am totally jealous of your Liberty mask. My first two a seamstress friend made for me. they have long, cloth ties. Then Rick ordered us some very efficient ones that have stretchy ties and a pocket for a filter.

But this one in the photo is my fave, made by my friend the potter. It's the only one that loops over the ears, and I find that so much more comfortable than tangling things in my (now longish!) hair! I don't think, however, that the little print exactly expresses my personality. I think I need one with the London Underground map!


HALLIE: So are you cranky that we're even discussing this... or taking the mask mandate as an opportunity to not wear lipstick and make a fashion statement at the same time? And raise your hand if you want Deb's glasses and Jenn's hair.

68 comments:

  1. Well, I hate having to wear one, but I don’t go wandering around anywhere without my mask. I have a couple . . . and a crochet-looking strap sort of thing [called an Ear Saver] with buttons on each end so that the mask straps loop around them instead of my ears [mask straps and my glasses don’t always play well together] . . . and my masks patterns are starry [you know, deep space nebula . . . stars] . . . .

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    1. Masks and glasses are a challenge. Going now to look up ear savers... sounds like something I need. Or could make. Elastic is pretty hard to find, still, but I can always repurpose the waistband of a pair of expired underwear.

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  2. Like most things I wear, I am not trendy or a fashionista. So the 5 masks I ordered were solid colours: 2 black, 1 grey, 1 brown, 1 dark purple and 1 pink. But my landlords gifted us with disposable and cloth masks a few weeks ago and I do like the colourful print mask a lot, so go figure.

    Ottawa JUST made mask mandatory this Tuesday. Same with Toronto. I don't know what took them so long but we will see how many citizens comply now that it is mandatory in a record-setting heat wave. Today's high is supposed to be 35C/95F with a humidex (heat index) of 43C/109F!

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    1. It is a challenge wearing a mask on a hot day. I am so sympathetic to workers who have to keep them on while lifting and carrying. Brutal.

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    2. Yes, and for those of us who wear eyeglasses, they fog up a bit no matter what I try. Cleaning them with hot soapy water helps a bit but I think my masks just don't have a snug enough fit.

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    3. Grace, have you tried twisting the ear loops first? That has made a big difference for me.

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  3. Hank, it's okay to be cranky about masks. I always wear one when I go out, too. Early on I made several out of various African fabrics I have. I find looping them around my ears incredibly uncomfortable so I added more elastic so that they can go around the head. I just sling it around my neck and pull it up when I need it.

    I'm sure it helped people to be selling masks at high prices, and when I ventured into the local gift shop here that sells my books, I saw that she sells visors and masks that match. The 22 bucks, or 50 bucks for a mask? Not doing it. I have a sewing machine, I have cloth, and I have elastic. That's going to have to do.

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    1. I've heard sewing machines have gone MIA along with toilet paper. BIG demand suddenly. Remember when every mall had a Singer Sewing Machine store? And I used to LOVE to wander around looking for fabric in a fabric store.

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    2. Those prices for the masks and visors at the local gift shop are pricey, Edith. Most of the cloth ones I have found online are in the $10-15 (CDN) or $7-10 (US) range.

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    3. I got some at the GAP web site for more like 5 each

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    4. Yes - the sewing machine shops, and the fabric/patterns area in department stores. Stools to sit and peruse Simplicity, McCalls, and Vogue patterns. Bolts and bolts of fabric, now found only at Joann's and quilt shops. Sigh. I grew up sewing at my mom's (and grandmother's) knee. Taught both my sons to use the machine, and sent them both off to college with a well-equipped sewing kit (and a first-aid kit that might have included condoms...).

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    5. Edith, my grandmother sewed. I remember those shops, and how much fun it was looking at the pattern books. She tried to teach me, but, alas, that was not a success.

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  4. Hands raised! And Hank's hair, too. You all look spiffy in your masks.

    Back in March, when they were saying two weeks of isolation should do it (ahem), I made each of us a mask out of cotton knit fabric I had on hand. I taught sewing, and sewed for myself and everyone and everything around me for my whole life, so I have every kind of fabric you can think of. At one point I could have stitched it all together and slipcovered our entire house, seriously. Might still be able to do that, even after getting rid of and donating tons.

    The cotton knit ones are really simple, just two layers of heavy knit, stitched into a long oval, with earholes cut into each end. The mask goes on by twisting the ends over the ears. But they look ridiculous.

    Someone gave Steve an N95 mask, which he uses, and after reading that silk does an equally good job of filtering as the N95, I made a fitted cotton mask with two layers of silk broadcloth as a lining, and elastics short enough to fit my small face.

    However, this mask is black, and it's so hot in the sun. I had to get some tests for my annual physical last week, and when I realized they were handing out face masks at the door I accepted one. It's vastly more comfortable than the black one, but not washable.

    So I'll be making another fitted mask, but it will not be black.

    If you have trouble with the elastics staying on, sometimes twisting the loops before you put them over your ears will help. Making my own mask I realized I needed much shorter loops than the pattern called for.

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    1. There's nothing quite so elegant as a face mask that looks like it could double as a catcher's mitt.

      Silk? Who knew!

      I hate to admit it but the most comfortable masks I've tried are the paper ones.

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  5. I told my daughter I wanted masks like Nancy Pelosi and she sent me links to her sources in New Orleans. For my husband with a big nose, "big guy" masks with stretchy ties. For me, triple layers with a filter pocket in a pretty flowered print AND a Gemini print mask. If you can't see my face, at least you'll know my sign. And, I colored my hair at home and got a haircut before the salon opened. Freshly sanitized, no other customers, every staff member wearing a mask (I held a mask over my mouth and nose).

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    1. I haven’t had a haircut since February - sooo jealous. But thanks for the kind words, Hallie.

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    2. Margaret, I need a Gemini mask, too!

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  6. I'm more researching comfort than fashion in masks. The first one I bought was by a local designer but I couldn't breathe in
    it. I gave it to my daughter who felt more comfortable in it than I.
    The second , I took in a convenience store but the elastic brought my ears forward. They accepted an exchange for one with longer elastic. The problem is that you can't try them before buying and washing them and than it is too late.
    Than I found two others lighters and more comfortables for the summer.
    My favorite is lilac cotton. It is a good colour for me but it was chosen and kept for his comfort.

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    1. I think comfort really matters... because you won't wear it unless it feels ok.

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  7. I always wear a mask. We have paper surgical masks only here. We found in a box, 2 N95 masks, not the surgical ones but ones that my husband had bought for doing some sanding , etc. We wear those to go down the elevator in our condo building. You are suppose to wear a mask every time you leave your unit and I do. Although I don't really go out except twice a week for the mail.
    I did go out to get my hair cut after 4 months. My guy has rented a single space so it was just the two of us and both of us were masked and of course he had on gloves.
    My sister bought some Liberty masks: 5 masks for $50 and free shipping. She is a Liberty aficionado. She loves them and says they are the most comfortable. She wore one throughout a Dr.'s appointment.

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  8. I don't leave the house without one, and, just in case, I have masks in both cars, along with hand sanitizer. My favorites are the ones from Rochester Refugees. This is a fabulous company, donates one mask for each one you buy. They are well made, cool, comfortable, and best of all, they are now making some with windows. This company was started to provide jobs for refugees, and they really took off when masks became essential. Here's the link.

    https://rochesterrefugee.org/shop

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    1. Ann, thank you for Rochester Refugee link. Just bought two green masks -- makes me smile to have my favorite color and to support folks working in this difficult time. To stray off-topic: a thank you for past comments about your nursing career as they have given support and encouragement to the "daughter of my heart" and me in her nursing studies begun in January and continuing in interesting ways through COVID and distance learning. Please stay well.

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    2. Oh, I will look that up! Thank you!

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    3. Oh wow! Thank you both so much. I think the window masks are wonderful. We have a very large deaf student population here.

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  9. I’ve found the cloth masks with the ear loops are the most comfortable, but I have a small head. Hub has to wear the paper masks because his cabeza is on the large side. The Hooligans are thankfully really good about masks - we’ve all been vigilant as we knew there was a big surgery on the calendar for H2 this summer. Once the mask mandate went into play out here, I found my stress level dropped. I’ll wear whatever it takes to get rid of this pandemic. I’m soooo over it!

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    1. How is H2's recovery going, Jenn?

      Maybe that's why the ear-elastic masks are so uncomfortable - I have a huge head. Seriously cannot wear one-size-fits-all women's hats.

      Also, your hair looks fabulous!

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    2. And my head is tiny, so maybe that's why I'm comfortable with the ear loops.

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  10. Alas, I will never be as thin, savvy, or deliciously snarky as Nancy Pelosi, but maybe I can aspire to her fashionable masks. She is an icon. On the other hand, I probably don't need high-fashion masks to go with my daily leggings and tank top outfits. Particularly when I rarely leave the house and/or my car.

    I do wear a mask whenever I go out, except maybe to run out into the yard to get the paper each morning. But here is my shameful confession. I can sew. I worked my way through college in a theatrical costume shop. I draft my own quilt patterns. Making a mask is child's play. But I can't do it.

    When all this hit I was so shattered by the loss of my work (not my job--I still have at least half of that) that I had a hard time focusing on anything. Sitting down at the sewing machine and making simple pleats in fabric was just beyond what my heart could bear. But I have a wonderful friend whose reaction to the crisis was exactly the opposite of mine. Where I mourned, she put her generous heart to work and started cranking out masks as a public service. She sent one of them to me at no charge, and I wear it proudly, knowing it was a gift of love.

    My most recent masked public outing was to vote in a statewide primary runoff. Wear your masks, folks, and wear them to do good in the world.

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    1. Gigi, I totally empathize. I ended up giving bags of fabric to a friend who was making masks, because I just could not bring myself to do it. Until later, but I have only made the one, so far.

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    2. Yes, wear your masks and vote! I am HOPING that we can vote by mail!

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  11. I know masks are necessary but I *hate* them. I have a severe hearing loss and rely on lipreading. Masks not only hide people's lips, they muffle the sound of talking. To me *everyone* sounds like Charlie Brown's teacher. As Charlie B

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    1. Crap. Here's the actual last sentence:

      As Charlie Brown would say: ARGH!

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    2. I rely on lipreading too! I don't have a severe hearing loss, but I've always said I can't hear well without my glasses on...

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    3. Recently I sent a letter on just that topic to the editor of our local weekly paper. Things are even harder with social distancing added to the mix. People: speak up and don't mumble!

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    4. Edith, have you tried Sign Language? A nice neighbor apologized me for not being good at sign language. LOL. I told her that I can understand her Sign Language and I am happy that we can communicate in Sign Language.

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    5. Cathy, I have no hearing in one ear, and I've found it difficult as well. I didn't realize how much I depended on lip reading and expressions...

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    6. Edith: I understand that completely!

      Debs: Yes, masks cover expressions, too. It's too bad no one has invented clear ones (masks, not face shields).

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  12. Yes to Debs' glasses, but no to Jenn's hair. Jenn, your hair looks lovely on you--but I don't want anything on my neck, especially in this heat wave! My brother gave us a box of paper masks for some reason before all this started, so we have been using those. My older sister gave me a cloth mask, but I can't breathe in it--it fits too close. I have made 2 using children's fabrics, for my 5-year-old grand-nephew and my sister gave him a cloth one she purchased. I would support purchasing masks from small businesses or especially from those companies like the one Ann referenced above, but paying 50 bucks for something with a designer label on it? No way.

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    1. Flora, masks, jeans, jackets, purses -- no way will I ever pay a premium to have a designer label on anything!

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  13. Jungle Reds, LOVE ALL of your various masks!

    Thanks for letting us know about Nancy Pelosi's masks. I can imagine the high demand. I am always looking for more masks to buy. I saw a video about making your own masks. Unfortunately, the rubber bands are not big enough for the ears. A relative and her husband walk their new dog 3x a day and they are always running out of clean masks. So I am looking at different companies that make masks. There was a company that made marching band uniforms and now they are making masks. It is Made in the USA company. I am trying to recall where in the USA.

    Love Debs' glasses and Jenn's hair. I am guessing the hair was lightened by Arizona sun, right?

    NO ONE likes wearing masks. I Love that this is an excuse NOT to wear lipstick. I wear masks all the time. I wear many different types. I wear a bandana when I go out walking. When I HAVE to go grocery shopping, I wear two things. The mask with the little ear loops AND the mask with long loops that can go around your head. I have several cloth masks with ear loops.

    Hallie, have you tried your old panty hose? My Mom could not wear masks with loops that would fit her ears either. She cut off the old panty hose and put it over her nose and she can wear her glasses. She wears the panty hose AND the little mask so it's double. I can send you the photo via Instagram.

    Right now, I am feeling grateful that we ALL are staying healthy despite the pandemic. Hoping that NO ONE from the LCC convention in San Diego got sick. When I was there for only one day, I saw a few people wearing masks. I flew home from San Diego hours before the conference was cancelled due to the pandemic.

    Diana

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    1. Hallie, sorry I do not have a photo. I thought I did and I will take a photo later and send it to you via Instagram.

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    2. Here's you link to The Band Shoppe in Cynthiana, Indiana, Diana: https://blog.bandshoppe.com/2020/05/06/here-for-our-community-and-customers/

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  14. This is so interesting, and doesn’t drive you crazy when people don’t wear them? I cannot understand it! I do love the concept of “I’ll do it for you if you do it for me.” It seems like such a simple thing. And even an indication of solidarity and purpose in this terrible time.
    In other news, yes, Jenn, your hair looks fabulous!

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    1. Hank, your hair looks fabulous! I agree with you about masks. Some people think they are immune. As I tried to explain to a neighbor, even if I am NOT showing any symptoms, I could STILL pass on the virus to someone who is vulnerable.

      Wishing everyone would wear masks.

      Diana

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  15. Yes, masks make me cranky. I wear them only when in a store. Since I send my husband to do 99% of the shopping that has happened only twice since March. My library has books to go now so I will mask up to wait at the front door to get my books later today. The paper ones are definitely easier to breathe in and the metal thingy over the nose makes the fit better. I did break down and buy a couple of cotton patterned masks on Etsy. One is a floral in mainly olive green; the other a blue pattern. All have loops. Frank bought me one tie-on mask from a bar/grill close by but somehow tie-ons don't work for me. They slide. So did the bandanna I tried to use when this all hit. Evidently I have a slippery head.

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  16. Ho Red's not a bad photo in the bunch, who was that masked stranger? Early on I hand stitched two masks one for my daughter and one for me. I cross stitched small cats on my mask. I used linked hair ties for the ear piece. They fit better and don't get in the way of my hearing aids. A friend will be providing transportation for my coming surgery, so I bought him a mask at a thank you gift.
    I think this might be a go to gift instead of flowers.
    I am relieved to see so many following the mandate for wearing masks now in Tampa. It was pretty scary being in public a few weeks back. Like Cathy I can't lip read through a mask. On the other hand, I don't have to wear my false teeth either. tmi again?

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  17. Hallie, I meant to say, your granddaughter is adorable!

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  18. While I don’t like wearing a mask, I do it. The governor of my state, Kentucky, has mandated that starting today, masks are required by everyone. We’ll see how compliance goes. I was happy that everyone was masked at the medical facility where I had my colonoscopy yesterday. (I wasn’t happy to hear one of my nurses talking about her trip to Florida last week.) I have some cute masks made by some talented friends in the reading community, but I also have some black masks I bought through Amazon that some either here or on FB recommended. I wore one of those yesterday. It was so comfortable and easy to breathe in. I do have disposable masks on hand, too. My husband, who I still have to nag about wearing a mask, prefers the disposable.

    One of the aspects of wearing a mask that amuses me is I keep forgetting that people can’t see me smiling at them, and I smile anyway. Hallie, your granddaughter is a cutie. I love your hair, Jenn, and I’ve always been a fan of Debs’ glasses.

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  19. Basic black made out of stretchy socks - they stay on and are comfortable, and best of all they don't fog up my glasses. My sis made me a colorful cotton one (double layers) with elastic straps - it doesn't fog me up either. I rarely wear one unless it is STRONGLY recommended. We have been open here in my area of Colorado since the beginning of May, still no deaths in our county and we are blessed.

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  20. I just now really looked at that picture of me, and realized my hair has gotten a LOT longer - which pulls it down and flat on top and makes it wide and puffy on the bottom. Not the greatest look, unless one is going as Roseann Rosannadanna for a costume/fancy dress party.

    Youngest cut Guest Son's hair, and did a very nice job of it, after two YouTube videos and an hour of strand-by-strand trimming. I may ask her to take a crack at my hair.

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  21. I kind of have a leg or mask up on this: I work a lot in Japan, and it's ordinary there to see people masked when out and about. It's a way to show respect for others. The masks are worn to protect the community from the masked person who may have a cold. A neighbor here in Boston, who is at the Harvard School of Public Health, told me a few weeks ago that she thinks or hopes that masks will become a way of life from now on...

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    1. So interesting to hear that, Scott! My prior encounters with people in masks has been in airports... now I finally "get it." A way of life here? Depends on what the meaning of the word "here" is.

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    2. The next generation. They will think it's normal. I'm talking people ages 1-12.

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    3. Shalom Friends. I, for one, will be terribly disappointed if masks become de rigueur. I wear eyeglasses primarily so that I can see people's faces at a distance. People watching is a great joy in my life when I am out and about.

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    4. Most importantly: Stay safe!

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  22. My masks were originally medical. I'm fine wearing them in public and put on from car to home or office cubical. A couple co-worker's mom's and family members made a whole slew of them for us. I picked two, originally, one plain blue and one floral. The blue one's elastic is wide and the mask feels small. The floral one actually matches my mom's couch fabric.That elastic is narrow and it fits much better and doesn't pull on my ears as much. That mask has a single stay across the top so I can mold it across the bridge of my nose which cuts down on some of fogging of my glasses. I actually found third one. It's very nice with yellows, browns, and a quail but alas it is missing. I've seen some lovely ones online and in my Facebook feed. I should probably purchase a couple more to compliment my wardrobe. :-)

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  23. Seconding the comment that masks hide smiles... a useful way of connecting with strangers and making the world a more pleasant place

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  24. My mother had masks to clean the cellar, and I still have the one I used but it fogged up my glasses. I gave the rest of the pack to a grocery store worker. For a while I wore bandanas to the store until I asked the cashier where she got her masks. I bought 3 at True Value for less than $5 but they only had black. They work well with the ear loops, which must go under my glasses.

    I really hope we don't have to wear masks for ever. Partly because of comfort but also because of hearing and seeing people. I saw a man adjust his mask in the farmers' market and thought he was my former boss but he walked the other way, and I wasn't going to call after someone who might be a comnplete stranger! Stay safe and well.

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  25. I bought my husband a mask on Etsy and my DIL made one for me. They are both adequate; however, I just bought two masks at Kohl’s which have a built in filter, an adjustable nose piece along with adjustable ear loops. Amazingly, we’ve found our glasses don’t fog up with them. So good to go!

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  26. I handsew my masks, with elastic bands that go around the head - I hate the ear loops, they hurt. I use all-cotton fabrics, mostly nerdy - DC superhero women, Marvel's Avengers, Doctor Who's T.A.R.D.I.S., library date due cards, bookshelves with cats and books, Chinese dragons, etc. As far as masks hiding smiles, look at the eyes - they show the smiles if the smiles are real.

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  27. When I saw Nancy Pelosi on screen with her tube mask, I ran to my scarf drawer where I had stashed the neck tube I'd bought at the museum when a fabulous Van Gogh exhibit was in town. It's printed with his "Almond Blossoms" image. I'd never thought about using it for a mask, but it works. And without annoying ear elastic! Haven't worn it yet, but it's in reserve for a special day.

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