I’m sewing in my studio. I cut and iron and pleat. I’m stitching away when Paddy (18) comes down to my studio for help with his Spanish oral exam. He has the Leaving Cert coming up soon, or did have, anyway. “Mum, do you mind?” he says, when I whirr the sewing machine. He is trying to play a CD with a conversation in Spanish on it and he can’t hear above the machine. I leave it for a bit and explain how the imperative works in Spanish. We listen to the CD and I learn a phrase I haven’t heard before: “No hay de que.” It means you’re welcome, no need to mention it. I am pleased to learn something new in Spanish and I ring my brother Mal to chat about it. Mal didn’t do Spanish at school but after years visiting Spain he’s wonderfully fluent. Paddy is finding the imperative tricky, so we do some role-play: in order to demonstrate the difference between the imperative depending on whether it’s being used in a formal or informal way, I pretend to be a Garda (an Irish cop), telling Paddy to show me his license. Thanks to Paddy being 18 and our particularly irreverent dynamic, it quickly descends into extremely childish things a Garda definitely would NOT say. Nonetheless I think he gets the idea. Spanish is very cool and the rules of grammar are a lot of fun. “What are you sewing anyway?” “Face masks,” I say, “and you have to have one.” “You are out of your mind if you think I’m wearing one of those things,” says Paddy. “Right,” I say, “if you don’t choose, then you’re getting the floral one.” “Okay!” he says, “I’ll take the cream one. I’ll graffiti it.” I explain to Paddy that the evidence is that if you wear a face mask you might not protect yourself from someone else’s infection, but neither might you pass on yours. In that way, if everyone wore them, the infection rate would be greatly reduced all around…
I have washed out a bunch of organic baby wipes which I am hoping will do for non-woven fabric for the filters inside the masks. I put what I think is a very artistic shot of them fluttering on the washing line on Instagram, but people just ask me if I am washing out toilet paper.
I can’t decide whether to arrange my new face masks by pattern (the gingham ones above)…
by colour – the different shades of pink and cream –
…or by how medical and hospital-y they look. So I do all three.
A woman asks me on Instagram if I am sewing them for a hospital. I explain that it has taken me the entire day to sew 14, and that most of them are for my family, so I don’t think I would be very productive for a hospital.
Tommy, the lovely father of Liv’s friend, comes over with the gift of the washing machine. This is definitely the high point of the day. His son, Paddy and Marcel push and shove the machine into place and plumb it in. I socially-distantly give my heartfelt thanks. Tommy is exhausted from the house renovation he is doing, and, like me, has lost all his work, but he still drives 20 miles to bring a washing machine over to us. Some people are just too good.
And that’s the whole day, really.