During the pandemic I’ve returned to my table saw, band saw, router, and even learned to use a sewing machine. This latter business was not of desire, but a matter of necessity. In late February, not knowing the full impact of this new virus, I went online and tried to buy some face masks for my family. Even then, most sellers were sold out and didn’t know when they’d get resupplied. I found one seller, but the lucky purchase I thought was complete was never realized. The masks never arrived. Aware of this, my wife, a terrific sewer of quilts and other beautiful work, showed me a fabric face mask she had just finished for our two-year-old granddaughter. Another masterpiece that inspired me. And even though my wife was, and remains, working remotely at a real job, I pestered her enough to take the time to teach me how to sew. She was patient and generous, and together we went on to make face masks that we gave to family and friends.
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Earlier in this series I wrote about learning to cut my own hair — again, a matter of necessity — in a tribute to a long-dead uncle whose barber shears were fortuitously left to me. Of all my time spent during this shut-down, writing that story was truly a brand-new thing to learn, and most of all, a tricky thing.
Words and thoughts are not like pieces of fabric or wood, things that can be picked up and assembled with fasteners or a threaded needle. They’re all in my mind, and they resist an easy assembly. I’ll never get expert at any of these things, but I am assured I’ll never look at a garment, a fine piece of woodwork, a proper haircut, and most of all, a written story, without having a greater appreciation for the true professionals who render them best. But, with time on my hands, I’ll keep at it.
Edward Halligan lives in Philadelphia.
Editor’s Note: How are you spending your time during the coronavirus shutdown? Please send contributions of 250–400 words to email@example.com.