Preparing – Practicing & Preaching, by TJ in Georgia

Regardless of who you are now, who you were in the past, or who you will be in the future, I think everyone will now be a ‘prepper’. Please consider this: We’ve all had a taste of doing without something in the past month or so, and I for one don’t look forward to this time in history becoming the new normal.

I was in Girl Scouts from about 2nd grade until 7th grade. We learned many skills such as hiking, cooking outside, sleeping outside, fire starting, selling cookies (yes, that is a skill) and being a responsible citizen. In the forth grade our teacher taught some of us to crochet. In high school I took Home Economics and learned to sew. My maternal grandmother taught me to make jelly, and a good friend taught me to can meat in jars. These are mostly skills that all of our grandmothers learned from a very young age, and some of our grandfathers as well. But many of our youth today are not learning life skills.

Ask a child what they want to do and who they want to be when they grow up. For me and my friends the answer may have been occupations such as a teacher, a policeman, a fireman, a doctor, nurse or mommy. But ask a kid today what they want to be and many will answer that their goal in life is to be a gamer, you tuber, or professional sports player. What changed? And when did it change? I think for many, parents did not want their children to have to work as hard as they did, so in an effort to let them enjoy their childhood, they also deprived the children from learning life skills that are most certainly going to come in handy now and in the future.

Take a moment and think about jobs that were not considered ‘essential’ to life during this pandemic. Who was shut down? Well, movie theaters were closed, so actors really weren’t needed. We enjoy the distraction from the problems of life and escape the reality by watching a movie or attending a ball game, but those things are not essentials. Tattoo parlors, nail salons, and hair dressers were also asked to close. I love to have my finger and toe nails ‘done’, and there’s really nothing like getting a new hair cut to lighten your step for a little while. Dine-in eating establishments are certainly a convenience and a welcome change for many but they, too, were closed for a few weeks and a lot of folks had to start cooking at home more, or in some cases, again. All of these places that were asked to close for safety’s sake are a large part of our lives and were missed greatly, but apparently were not deemed ‘essential’ to life.

Our own small business, an auto repair shop, was open for the duration but there were few customers and it was a struggle. It seems to be picking up a little now, thankfully.

For years I’ve been ‘preaching’ to anyone who would listen about the benefits of having a little extra on hand. My friends and family get tired, I know, of hearing me tell them to plan ahead. Young adults should learn useful skills that have nothing to do with computers and high tech. This ‘state of emergency’ did not interupt electricity or internet, but what will be the next ‘new normal’? Think ahead. How many times have you heard someone say, “what if”? I can not even begin to count the number of times I have said those words myself. I even wrote two books of fiction on ‘what if there were an economic collapse’ to give people a little perspective on how fast society could begin to unravel from an unexpected emergency.

An Illustrative Story

With all that being said, this is my story:
I first began to hear about a ‘virus’ after the first of the year (2020). By the middle of February there was beginning to be a few reports on national news networks as well. I talked to a family member who had traveled to China many times with work and asked if they’d had any contact with any of their friends in that region and was told that they had talked to a particular good friend over there and that they were being very cautious.

A few days later we were going to be grinding corn for cow feed at our farm and I knew we would need some surgical face masks to keep from breathing in too much corn dust so I went to Dollar Tree to get a box of 10 masks. They were out, but the stocker told me I could order them online. Leaving there, I went to Wal-Mart to see if they had a small box, which they didn’t. I went home and looked at Dollar Tree online and saw that you had to buy 24 boxes and pay $10 shipping and I wasn’t up for that just to get a couple of masks for corn grinding, so I looked up Wal-Mart and they were selling that $1 box of 10 masks, just like the ones at Dollar Tree, for $89.95. I had to look again, but it was for 10 masks! I shared both links to my Facebook page because I was just shocked. About 30 minutes later I was told by a friend that the price had changed so I pulled up the site again and this time those 10 masks were $99.95! Someone else suggested I go to the ‘Small-Mart’ because their inventory showed they had a few boxes. I went and checked and they were out  already. I left there and went over to Harbor Freight where I bought a box of 50 for $5.99, so all was good.

Later that afternoon I got to thinking about those surgical masks and that virus. I knew the masks were made in China, because almost everything is, right? And China was in the midst of a huge outbreak of some new virus. It wasn’t many days later that travel restrictions were put into place for anyone coming or going to China. They were also restricting items being imported from China on container ships. Well, that was a game changer for me. Where did most of my prescription medicine come from? China. Where did some of the other products I liked to use come from? China. Now if they aren’t letting those container ships unload, where will we get our ‘stuff’?

So I sat down and typed a note to close family and friends about preparing for a possible disruption in the supply chain due to this virus. Of course they humored me and then most laughed behind my back. Meanwhile, I was getting very low on my blood pressure and cholesterol medications so I made an appointment with my doctor to get my 6 month check up, blood work and prescriptions refilled. All was well, and I had several months worth of my meds, so then I turned to products. What might we need if this mess came here? I already had at least a couple of weeks worth of food and paper products which is recommended by FEMA. I am a CERT volunteer and talk to people about this stuff all the time.

And Then Came Wuhan

About a week later the Covid-19 virus became headline news. That was all you heard about now that the impeachment hearings were over. I wore a face mask when I went to the store and people stared and pointed at me, laughed at me, I didn’t care.

A few days later I went to the grocery store to get a few things and people were in the midst of panic buying. All of the toilet paper was gone and people were asking if paper towels would work just as well. There was no bread, buns, dinner rolls, or Texas toast on the shelves. All of the sugar, flour, and grits were gone (we live in South Georgia, so grits is a staple). I was getting a few gallons of bleach for the pool, and I’m glad I did because within a week you could not find bleach, disinfectant spray, disinfectant wipes or hand sanitizer anywhere in town.

I shared articles on Facebook as a way of preparing my friends and others of the dangers of this virus. Facebook ‘friends’ who were in the nursing profession were laughing at me and mocking me, sharing their own ‘memes’ to Bring it on, they weren’t afraid of a little ole virus, it wasn’t as bad as the flu and more like a little cold. They quickly found out they were wrong. I was asking the question, ‘why are the healthcare professionals in Washington State wearing so much protection if this was just a cold?” I did not get a good answer. Why do only healthcare professionals need to wear masks? Again, no good answer.

I decided to start sewing face masks. The media was telling people not to buy face masks because they wouldn’t help and besides, the doctors and nurses needed them, not the general public. I was sewing face masks anyway. I made one for everyone in my family. My parents, my husband’s parents, my sisters and their husbands, my children and their spouses and my grandchildren. Then I had someone ask if they could buy one. I made more masks. I began to sell them to the average person. In my opinion, it was not just those in the medical field that needed to be protected, it was the teller at the bank, the cashier at the store, the pastor who may need to visit a family in need, everyone needed to wear a mask. I began to post them for sell on local swap & shop pages of Facebook. I sold them for $5 each, not much more than the cost of the fabric and elastic. Someone commented on my post that I should be donating them for free to the hospital. I saw that he worked for the hospital. Was he now working for free? I didn’t think so. I am definitely not as important as a doctor or nurse, but I have a skill that I have learned and I was going to use it to help pay the bills.

A Logistical Challenge

I made so many masks that I was running out of elastic. I thought I had a good supply from bits and pieces and packs I had bought at yard sales, but that was quickly depleted. I needed more elastic, but the stores were sold out and online ordering was projecting a mid-May delivery…. and it was only March! I kept sewing the masks, knowing I would not have the elastic for them, but I felt like God would provide. As I was walking from my sewing room to my kitchen I noticed a bag hanging on the door knob of my utility room (which is also my sewing room). I had walked by that door at least 20 times that day and walked right past that bag each time, but this time I noticed the bag. I stopped walking and backed up, looked in the bag and it was full of packs of elastic! God did provide! I guess I had bought it months ago and instead of putting it away I had just hung the bag on the door and forgotten about it. I was so excited! I called a few people to tell them what a great thing the Lord had done for me.

I used up that elastic and checked on my online order, still no delivery until sometime in May. I ordered some more off eBay that gave a delivery date of two weeks away. I figured I could always use it for other projects if I didn’t need it for making masks. The delivery date came and went, almost two weeks now since it was due to be at my house and it still sits at a post office in Opa Locka, Florida. But a little over a week ago, early one morning, I was sitting in my sewing room thinking and I looked over at a large box of fabric and such that was sitting beside my sewing machine. My mind said to look in the box, but I argued with myself that I had already looked in that box twice and had not found any elastic. “Look in the box!”, my mind was telling me. I was already way ahead on making masks with no elastic in sight anyway, so I looked in the box again. I dug down deep, past the folded fabric and the rolls of lace, over the cards of ribbon and the basket of patterns at the bottom of the box. I was arms length into that box, with the basket tearing and scraping the skin off my arm as I reached past to the bottom where I pulled out not one, not two, but three large rolls of white elastic, just the right size for the masks I was making. The Lord did provide! I was yelling with excitement as I ran through the house to wake my husband and share my blessing. I was holding a roll of elastic with one hand and a cloth on my bleeding arm with the other hand. I didn’t even care about my arm, I had a blessing, a huge blessing!

I’ve been using my skill at sewing to make masks for the average person as well as making a little money to help pay bills while our business is so slow. I’m hoping to go blackberry picking later this week and make blackberry jelly for family and friends to go with all that peanut butter everybody has been buying up. I have all the ingredients to start making fresh loaves of bread,even tho there does seem to be more stocked at the stores at the moment. And I’ve also been crocheting cotton dish cloths as folks need them. My point is, I’m trying to use my skills to help my family and others during this historic time in our lives, and to continue to encourage others to develop and use their skills as well. Like the song says, none of us knows what tomorrow holds, but we do know who holds tomorrow. And the weight is always lighter if we carry the load together (socially distanced, of course).




33 Comments

  1. TJ in Georgia! Really enjoyed your article, and lifting up prayers for you. You were wise to work in earnest on so many preparations — and to alert others (even if they were not prepared to hear you!

  2. Does a cloth face mask really “protect” you? A study of that style mask determined that it can filter out 8% of droplets and contaminates in the air that could contain a virus or germs. But allows 92% to be inhaled.

    A separate article I read stated that cloth masks are actually a greater risk to catching a disease because it creates a perfect environment of germs and viruses because of the warm moist air breathed through it.

          1. Exactly! Since you can never prove that you shouldn’t have your constitutional rights taken from you we must therefore take your constitutional rights away.

            I think the governor should also require that we wear dunce caps and walk like an Egyptian.

            I can’t help but think that even those politicians who mean well are simply requiring us to wear masks so that they will appear to be serious about protecting lives. When does it end? Even if the Covid threat ends there is the next flu season and who knows what else. Maybe we should require masks 100% of the time with big fines for those who do not comply.

          2. You´ve constitutional Right to endanger other People by handling your gun unsafe?

            Your words give the Impression you only look for an excuse to act as unethical like you want, not caring if you endanger others peoples life and Health with your actions.

            Wearing a mask the Right way absolutly protects lifes, not your own, but those of others from you if you´re infected.

          3. “Your words give the Impression you only look for an excuse to act as unethical like you want, ”
            No, we know exactly who you are and why I oppose your plan.

            Honestly if I thought that wearing a mask would prevent me from getting sick I would wear it. If I thought wearing gloves would protect me I would wear them. If I thought that constant applications of hand sanitizer would protect me I would do it. They don’t. What it boils down to is “they might” or “they may be somewhat effective” which then somehow morphs into “you must wear the mask or go to jail”, or you must stay in your house or go to jail. And finally it becomes “Here is the number to call if you see your neighbors go out doors or not wearing a mask.

            The mask does not protect you. It may somewhat limit the number of virus that you inhale but you will still get sick. The mask for most people is a comfort thing to make them feel like they are doing something. It doesn’t work.

            Think of it like a water filter that filters out 50% of the water down to 0.1 micron but allows the rest to pass thru unfiltered. The filter is 50% effective. It “may” help prevent water borne disease…

          4. A recently published study:
            Study: Cloth Masks
            Objective
            The aim of this study was to compare the efficacy of cloth masks to medical masks in hospital healthcare workers (HCWs). The null hypothesis is that there is no difference between medical masks and cloth masks.
            Setting
            14 secondary-level/tertiary-level hospitals in Hanoi, Vietnam.
            Participants
            1607 hospital HCWs aged ≥18 years working full-time in selected high-risk wards.
            Intervention
            Hospital wards were randomized to: medical masks, cloth masks or a control group (usual practice, which included mask wearing). Participants used the mask on every shift for 4 consecutive weeks.
            Main outcome measure
            Clinical respiratory illness (CRI), influenza-like illness (ILI) and laboratory-confirmed respiratory virus infection.

            Results
            The rates of all infection outcomes were highest in the cloth mask arm, with the rate of ILI statistically significantly higher in the cloth mask arm (relative risk (RR)=13.00, 95% CI 1.69 to 100.07) compared with the medical mask arm. Cloth masks also had significantly higher rates of ILI compared with the control arm. An analysis by mask use showed ILI (RR=6.64, 95% CI 1.45 to 28.65) and laboratory-confirmed virus (RR=1.72, 95% CI 1.01 to 2.94) were significantly higher in the cloth masks group compared with the medical masks group. Penetration of cloth masks by particles was almost 97% and medical masks 44%.
            Conclusions
            This study is the first RCT of cloth masks, and the results caution against the use of cloth masks. This is an important finding to inform occupational health and safety. Moisture retention, reuse of cloth masks and poor filtration may result in increased risk of infection. Further research is needed to inform the widespread use of cloth masks globally. However, as a precautionary measure, cloth masks should not be recommended for HCWs, particularly in high-risk situations, and guidelines need to be updated.

    1. If you do your research, the masks can be 95% effective. That is what I made for myself and family (use with filters). I’ve shared the info with those I know are making cloth masks for others, but they or their recepients are not interested. Research is easily available online and, if you sew, the skill level is low. As an at-risk person, I’d love to see everyone wear masks, but realize that’s not going up happen in my neck of the woods. I avoid most places and wear my mask that filters at a 95% level and wear gloves. Wearing gloves correctly is highly effective, but that would be correctly. There are many things that can be done as well to mitigate becoming infected with any number of contagions if need be. We have been doing them for 11 months and I, the vulnerable person, have not been contaminated and made ill with a secondary infection. Lots of work and dedication though, so I don’t recommend following these procedures unless you really need them. That said…This virus won’t be going anywhere soon and forcing everyone to stay inside isn’t a viable solution, so we need to get on with living. Do what you need to do to keep well as every situation differs. Burning down churches for meeting isn’t the answer. Panicky people are dangerous and wearing an ineffective mask might just be the protection you will need to keep safe for that threat.

  3. As I understand it, the cloth face mask will minimize the airborne droplets exhaled from someone who is sick. Since you can be asymptomatic, this will help prevent the spread of the virus, or at least that is the logic behind it.

    As for protecting yourself from the virus, it does not really help. When I went into my local Safeway (and they require you to wear a mask) I told the person enforcing the mask requirement that the cloth mask she was wearing isn’t really protecting her. She replied, “I know”.

    1. Actually, the CDC invalidated a study that claimed you could infect others while being asymptomatic. There is strong evidence out now that if you are asymptomatic, you are not contagious.

  4. I was in the Boy Scouts for a few years. I got discouraged and quit because I was not advancing in rank. It would take forever to get to the next badge. Our scout master focused more on doing things but was hardly counted for advancement. A few years after quiting Scouts, I realized how much I had learned when talking to some Scouts from another troop. They had loads of merit badges and had pretty advanced badges. We were just talking about things in general and I realized something big. They did things to get a merit badge or advancement and then they were done with that skill or technique. I had done all of those things they did and more with really no proof in badges or rank. And those things I did was not done just once but multiple times on a regular basis to the point of it being almost second nature. Some of those things are still with me today. Some of my friends are amazed how I can start and keep a fire. Their solution is usually gasoline and lots of it. I saw my former Scout Master years later and thanked him for changing my life.
    So yes. Skills are very important.
    In high school, I also took a Home Ec class. My mom pushed me to take the class. I didn’t want to. I said boys don’t need to sew. Well, that class was worth its weight in gold. I have mended umpteen socks, shirts, and buttons over the years saving me a considerable amount of money. Again, yes, skills count for something.

    1. Good afternoon

      My husband also took Home Ec in high school. He learned how to cook & sew, and oh yeah, he also was slick compared to all his other guy friends because he figured out that taking Home Ec also was a great way to hang out with all the girls!! LOL

      Have a Rockin great day

  5. I like when some one has that “get er’ done” attitude. I know people doubt the effectiveness of masks, and we all parse the percentages of utility. I don’t have any doubts about the usefulness of NO mask. We don’t any of us have a sledge hammer knock out for this virus. But we do have small things we can do that in their totality can bring a considerable measure of prevention to the spread of disease. Same as eating an elephant. One bite at a time. This debate is almost heard as “I want 100% effectiveness, or nothing!”. As is said many times at this site and others, Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. I wear my mask and gloves (I’m old and vulnerable), and I tread lightly and carefully. The constant knowledge of G*d and the assurances from Him of eternal life make me almost fearless. It is a good thing to only fear Him, and it puts everything in perspective. Good on ya, TJ, I love it when a plan comes together.

    1. Your comment is very reasonable. But understand something I learned in my teens. Motorcycle helmets are required and I wore them for years. I have probably 200K miles on a motorcycle and 7 coast to coast trips. Motorcycle helmets both give you confidence in your safety AND dramatically reduce the noise and awareness of speed. At 70 MPH without a helmet your ears are ringing and your facial skin is being buffeted. With a helmet it feels like 55 MPH and you have a desire to go even faster. IMHO the cloth face masks that don’t really prevent you from getting a virus are similar. They give you a false confidence and encourage you to go to Walmart or whatever.

      But my real problem with face masks is the requirement. Yes I have some, my wife made them. When we go shopping I carry it with me in case someone requires it. But I don’t wear it, not out of rebellion but because in addition to knowing that they are ineffective I also know that they can be worse than no mask. That is if you encounter a virus contaminant in the air some of it will probably stick to your where the moist warm environment will be perfect for it to survive. Then when you go home that dirty mask will sit on your kitchen counter or side table waiting for you to touch it again.

      My preferred choice is my wife and I enter a store on off hours, usually 8AM. We don’t get a cart, we touch nothing, she goes to get milk, cream and bread I go to get some meat and fresh veggies. Neither of us get more than we can carry. Then to checkout where we don’t get a bag or use one of our own we pay and carry it out. Not perfect, nothing is perfect.

    2. Well spoke Sean, These comments remind me of one of the questions we had on a written test for prospective welder’s helpers.–The question, “Does a welders helper need to wear a face shield– if he is already ugly?”

    1. I read the article and they used the word “may” 12 times. The masks “may” protect you. Or they may not we don’t really know. It depends. We wouldn’t use them in a hospital to treat a infectious patient but you should use them to go to the store. In fact since we are the government you must use them to even go outside. More constitutional infringement edicts when we get around to it because right now we are having too much fun watching you all jump to our commands. Obey us or the police will arrest you, fine you and take your license to work without any courts or actual law that gives us the authority to do so.

      1. That underscores two points:

        A.) The arbitrary and capricious nature of all governments.

        and,

        B.) The importance of both Separation of Powers and Due Process. (As supposedly still guaranteed by the Constitution.)

      2. Also, I’ve noticed the powers that be never, ever mention that we should be boosting our immune systems now. Think back, have you ever seen anyone on the news talk about building our body’s natural defenses?

        There are many things we can do to help protect our health, including cutting back on sugar and refined foods, drinking plenty of pure water, getting outdoor sunshine and exercise, getting enough sleep, associating when possible with people who are positive rather than a drain on us, keeping our environment clean and pleasant, avoiding too much alcohol and tobacco. Living in a state of fear is not healthy.

  6. Being able to take care of yourself is fast becoming a lost art. This was just the beginning. A TEST if you will. I advise you all to do more for yourself, like an old timer once told me learn things!

  7. Home Ec was mandatory in junior high school for me. However, mother has already taught me the basics of sewing and cooking. Both my parents taught me the important things in life – how to take care of myself. From hunting and fishing to sewing and cooking. I was truly blessed.

    1. I was required to take it as well, and I had it the same semester that I took introductory carpentry and masonry. I had already been taught a good deal of what we learned in class, but I still learned a great deal of useful information. They were some of the best classes I took in high school.

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