Bitterroot Amateur Radio

Bitterroot Amateur Radio

communicating through thick and thin

Fully Informed Jury

Fully Informed Jury

the alternative to a ruling elite

Libertarian Party

Libertarian Party

whatever floats your boat as long as it doesn't sink mine

Best Face Mask Instructions

Mask Pattern Instructions based on this YouTube video: 

How to sew a simple pleated face mask with just 5 lines (with nose wire and filter slot)

To print out; click on the words Mask Pattern Instructions at the bottom for the pdf. 


Update: Some of us are noticing that our machines are having a hard time going through all the fabric at the pleats. I am going to serge those two seams today on my second mask and see if when I go to make the pleats at the end I can stitch in past the seam and not have as many layers of fabric to stitch through. My electronic brother sure makes loud sounds going through thick layers and it is discomforting to hear. My old mechanical machine would likely be a better choice for the job.

Also, there is much debate over what to use for a filter, or if a filter does any good at all. Well, I am going to add a poster one reader gave me at the bottom of this page you can refer to on the subject. However, my main takeaway is that these are more for personal use, to keep the WEARER from spreading the virus, hopefully, than it is in PROTECTING the wearer from contracting the virus. To repeat, these are more for preventing spreading the virus as opposed to protection from the virus. AND it is possible that something you use with chemicals in it could actually cause harm to your lungs, not a result you want from wearing the mask or for a loved one you give one to.

For me, and my family, we will make our own individual decisions based on that and continue to wear masks in public in order to prevent spreading the virus. 

Cut fabric 8” x 16”.

Or, if you want to use two different fabrics, cut them 8” x 8.5” and join them with a .5” seam and continue as if using a single fabric. Caution: Inserting the nose wire into the pocket may be a bit trickier with a seam at the top of the mask instead of just the fold. If you can, serge this seam or at least trim and overcast stitch it.

Hem short ends.
Best mask

Fold in half, right sides together. Measure in 1.5” from each side at top open end and pin.

Stitch 1/2” seam from pin to ends, leaving center open for adding filter.

Finger press seam open and pull new seamed tube end to bottom. See next photo.

Pin or clip a 5” piece of elastic (or 15” each ties) at corners catching ends in edges where sides will be seamed. All the extra elastic or ties should be inside the tube. Stitch 1/2” side seams.

Turn right side out. Opening will be at bottom, facing up. Square should measure 6.5” on sides.

Place pins for pleats at 1”, 2”, 2.5”, 3.5”, 4” & 5” on right side. Bring 3.5 pin to 2.5, 5 to 4, and then make a 3rd pleat like the first two pinning or clipping to hold. Repeat for other side. You can just eyeball it. Stitch seam at 1/4” down each side securing pleats.

Mask Step 2



Add a nose wire channel by finding the center top edge (opposite of the filter opening) and pin. Measure 2” either side of center and stitch a 1/2” seam from the edge between the pins.

Think that the opening for the filter is below your mouth when wearing. When forming the pleats you want them going downwards, not upwards becoming dust collectors. That’s how you will check your work forming the pleats. Make sense?

Cut a pipe cleaner (or use a garbage bag or bread bag twist tie) and crimp one end, and work into channel from inside the mask. Pipe cleaner will make 3.

Cut filter of your choice, I’m using a paper cut from a vacuum cleaner bag, and insert into mask.

Make fisherman’s knot (technically, the video uses 1/2 of a Fisherman’s knot) with ends of elastic on each side of mask. Adjust to fit. Crimp wire over nose. I haven’t tried with a whole Fisherman’s knot so i don’t know if it would still be adjustable, and perhaps it would be unnecessary, anyway. I will update when I make another one.

Remove nose wire and discard filter to wash and reuse.

Happy to have comments with corrections and clarifications as you use this.My Best Mask

Missy in Montana!

I did much better at formatting with my regular word processor. If you want that in a .pdf form, click the link below.

Mask Pattern Instructions Revised


Amish Bread Starter recipes

COVID 19 pandemic is the cause of many shortages. Apparently, one cousin could not score yeast in stores. Seems like I should begin keeping starter in the fridge and bake on a regular basis again. Thought I’d save a couple of recipes here for starter. The first one is dairy free. 

Amish Friendship Bread Starter (Potato Flake) with Video

Amish Friendship Bread Starter (Potato Flake)

Prep Time

10 mins

This Potato Flake Amish Friendship Bread sourdough starter uses mashed potato flakes and is dairy free.


3 tablespoons instant potato flakes
1⁄2 cup sugar
1 cup warm water
21⁄4 teaspoons active dry yeast (or one package)

Subsequent Feedings

3 tablespoons instant potato flakes 1⁄2 cup sugar
1 cup warm water


To Make the Starter

  1. In a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons instant potato flakes, 1⁄2 cup sugar, 1 cup warm water and yeast.

  2. Cover loosely and let sit on the counter for 2 days, stirring daily.

  3. After two days, add 3 tablespoons instant potato flakes, 1⁄2 cup sugar, and 1 cup warm water to the starter.

    Mix well.

  4. Cover loosely and leave on counter for 8-12 hours. Refrigerate for 3-5 days.

Making the Bread and Subsequent Feedings

  1. Stir well and remove 1 cup of the starter to bake with immediately. Give away or discard all but 1 cup of the remaining starter.

  2. Feed the starter with 3 tablespoons instant potato flakes, 1⁄2 cup sugar, 1 cup warm water. Cover loosely and leave on counter for 8-12 hours. Refrigerate for 3-5 days, and then repeat the above steps to bake and continue maintaining the starter.

  3. ENJOY!

Recipe Notes

Use this starter with Potato Flake Sourdough Bread or Strawberry Upside Down Amish Friendship Bread Cake.


Amish Friendship Bread Starter

Amish Friendship Bread Starter

Prep Time Total Time

10 mins 10 mins Author: Friendship Bread Kitchen


.25 ounce active dry yeast (or 1 packet) 1⁄4 cup warm water 110° F/45° C
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar

1 cup milk


  1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Let stand 10 minutes.

  2. In a 2-quart glass, plastic or ceramic container, combine 1 cup flour and 1 cup sugar. Mix thoroughly with a

    whisk or fork.

  3. Slowly stir in 1 cup milk and dissolved yeast mixture.

  4. Cover loosely and let stand at room temperature until bubbly. Consider this Day 1 of the 10-day cycle. For

    the next 10 days, handle starter according to the instructions for Amish Friendship Bread.

Recipe Notes

The starter should be left at room temperature. Drape loosely with dish towel or plastic wrap. Do not use metal utensils or bowls. If using a sealed Ziploc bag, be sure to let the air out if the bag gets too puffy.

Your yield may exceed 4 cups depending on the temperature of your kitchen and eagerness of your starter. If this happens, reserve one cup for baking and divide the remaining batter into Ziploc baggies of 1 cup each to freeze for future use or share with friends.

For instructions on how to care for your Amish Friendship Bread starter for ten days, click here. We also have a bunch of FREE instruction printables so you can gift your starter in style!

Surgical Masks

These are no longer my favorites because there is no pocket for a filter!!! Check out my other two posts for masks.

Surgical Masks to Make

This one from Joann’s Fabric





or these look pretty good and the pattern is in 4 sizes:

Face Mask Sewing Pattern

Click to access face-mask-pattern-1.pdf


Fidget Quilt

This is a “Fidget Quilt” for dementia and alzheimers patients, with velcro, hook & eye, belt and loops, zipper, button, tie and braid activities. Made for mother-in-law who still has busy hands. Worked all day yesterday and finally finished today. Spent weeks collecting components that I didn’t already have on hand. I can see why these sell for $50 and up. That’s about .50/hour. Next time I will have a horizontal zipper to hold small objects that now fall out of a velcro pocket. Has to be one mistake, right?

















































non-handshake greetings

My wife sent me a video link on fist-bumping as a major improvement in social hygiene. You can see in the clip to the right that handshaking is a significant disease spreading vector.

I confess to having hand-shaking deeply embedded into my cultural norms. My circle of acquaintances are probably similarly programmed. I’m not sure this can work.

Of course the lamestream media onslaught of virus fear-mongering should make this an opportune moment in our history for a cultural shift in greeting and deal-making rituals. I suppose that is assuming we don’t want to regularly challenge our immune systems.

I share with you here a photographic set of cultural alternatives to the western handshake. I think a hands at the side, eyes down bow has the best shot at ignoring the proffered hand without causing significant embarrassment for either party.

Observe the efficiency of the group bow

ham radio operator culture

The Amateur’s Code

by Paul M. Segal / W9EEA (1928)

The Radio Amateur is:

CONSIDERATE – never knowingly operating in such a way as to lessen the pleasure of others.

LOYAL – offering loyalty, encouragement and support to other amateurs, local clubs and the American Radio Relay League, through which Amateur Radio in the United States is represented nationally and internationally.

PROGRESSIVE – with knowledge abreast of science, a well-built and effecient station, and operation beyond reproach.

FRIENDLY – with slow and patient operation when requested, friendly advice and counsel to the beginner, kindly assistance, cooperation and consideration for the interests of others. These are the hallmarks of the amateur spirit.

BALANCED – Radio is an avocation, never interfering with duties owed to family, job, school or community.

PATRIOTIC – with station and skill always ready for service to country and community.

time warp floor covering

Our bedroom has been mired in 70s shag carpet for two years of our residency. Obviously for over 40 years before as well.

Who made this stuff thinking it would sell?

What miracle of marketing moved it into people’s homes?

What kind of people thought this looked good? Ever? Not me then, now or anywhere in between.

Even more mind boggling is the nicely finished hardwood floor the red/orange/green shag hid.

Yesterday we began the chore of moving OUT of our ‘master bedroom’, uncovering the hardwood, cleaning it up, hauling a couple hundred unwieldy pounds of stinky 50-year-old carpet outside, then moving back in.

Today we finished moving back in and cutting the carpet into manageable, moderately-heavy, stinky chunks for a dump run. There is NOTHING useful that can be done with it.

Independence Day

Renaming it “4th of July” is not merely laziness. Of course it is the 4th on your calendar, but it is a celebration representing some brave fighters’ Declaration of Independence from a powerful parasitic class of people who had demonstrated a monopoly on violence and oppression.

They won a round. The ruling elite had to reorganize. It took a hundred years and another major military war that the freedom fighters lost… not by much, mind you, but they did lose.

I just ask you today to spend a little time thinking about independence from oppression, the risks those rebels took and the benefits they won for many subsequent generations.

Consider also who is threatened by such thinking and why their captive media joins them in downplaying the name.

Happy Independence Day

travel kits

How many examples have you heard or read about where people slid off the road in the winter and had so survive (or not) days before being rescued? … or walking out to rescue? How many of these tales before you actually prepare to land on the side of “survived” rather than “perished”?

I finally had enough. Today I began reviewing what I had set up and was using, or not using. Completely inadequate was the early conclusion. I had lots of pieces kinda-sorta geared up, but I wasn’t even using the bits I had. My get home bag was always home, even when I was not. My winter slide-off, survive a below freezing winter night bag also stayed home except for special occasions.

Need does not wait until you are prepared for it.

Today I got serious, set up a big table in my studio and shredded my four semi-coherent kits, reorganizing into a rational setup that will be convenient to use and, therefore be there when I need them.

My wife has it relatively easy. She has one car she drives for everything she does. Her away-from-home preparedness can ride around in her classic Mercedes diesel without having to shift from one vehicle to another.

I, of course, do not do that normal thing. I have “The Beast”, a crude, hugely functional, ugly, old-school 4-wheel-drive Suburban with great tires and a solid drive-train. I have a 2wd runabout, material-fetching full-sized pickup. And I have my “economy car”, a retired race car that scratches my high-performance driving itch while more than doubling the fuel efficiency of the other two.

Thus, tossing A BAG into MY CAR is not an option. Nobody else is going to match my needs exactly. Most of what I am suggesting to you here is to take the time to think out what you would do IF. There are plenty of lists out there. Look at some and give them consideration.

I broke it down into categories. What made sense to go with, stay with each vehicle? What would be ideal clothing, cover, shelter for a slide off the road in snow, ice, blizzards and the winter we live in? Then what would I need if fate required me to walk home from wherever I went?

Here is what I came up with. First in a nicely formatted .pdf, then a text list. You might notice that my review precipitated a shopping spree. I was as much surprised by the gaps as I was at the useless redundancy I had in my old setup.

Obviously Your Mileage May Vary.

travel kits .pdf

Winter Slide-off Kit

(permanent passenger in The Beast)
Israeli Bag: (big canvas duffel bag)
8 wax fire starter squares
8-AA and 7-AAA batteries
BBQ lighter, Bic lighter
Carhart stocking cap
complete set of dry underpants, undershirt
dry jeans, heavy shirt
emergency ration blocks
knitted neck scarf
Leatherman Wave (backup)
lined winter jacket with hood
medium and heavy socks
Mickey Mouse boots
quilted cammo bib overalls
red, green chemlight sticks (on order)
ski gloves
Sterno stove, 4 cans Sterno fuel
Sterno stove, canned heat
thermal top and bottom
tin cup, camp silverware set
wool sweater

The Beast:

3 roadside LED ‘flares’ (on order)
driving gloves
first aid kit (on order)
folding shovel
GMRS two-way radio
Ham 2-meter two-way radio
headlamp (on order)
insulated work gloves
leather work gloves
orange Bivy w/whistle (on order)
white 10′ x 10′ tarp (on order)

Big Red:

3 roadside LED ‘flares’ (on order)
camp knife
driving gloves
first aid kit (Farm Bureau)
folding shovel
insulated rubberized work gloves
leather work gloves
orange Bivy w/whistle (on order)
white tarp (10′ x 10′) (on order)


use Get Home Kit
first aid kit

Get Home Kit

$10 in silver halves
2 cloth hankies
bag within a bag
corded ear plug pair
duct-taped Bic lighter
emergency candle
emergency reflective blanket
hair brush
hand cream
magnifying glass
many-pocket vest
pen, pencil, marker
pre-moistened lense cloths
retention holster
Sawyer water purifying system
sewing kit
spare magazine pouches (2×15)
tooth brush, baking soda

Every Day Kit

Fanny Pack:
keychain light
keychain lighter
lip balm
reading glasses
slide rule
Swiss Army knife
XD(m) compact
belt holsters:
Leatherman Wave
spare magazine in pouch
comms Faraday briefcase
water canteen [coffee thermos]

Summer Slide-off Kit

(permanent passenger in The Beast)
black soft-side bag:
2 pair quality socks
long-sleeve light-weight shirt
medium cammo jacket
short-sleeve undershirt
yellow rain suit

Instant Pot Cooking!!!

Instant Pot Spaghetti Recipe

Super easy and super fast classic spaghetti with meat sauce.

A great way to use your Instant Pot and clean up is a breeze! It may just become a family favorite!


Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Servings: 5


1 tsp olive oil

1 lb. 92% – 96% lean ground beef

2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

12 oz. dry spaghetti noodles*

3 sprigs fresh basil, plus more for serving

1 (24 oz.) jar four cheese marinara sauce, such as Classico

1 (14.5 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes

2 2/3 cups warm water

Shredded or grated parmesan cheese, for serving


  1. Set instant pot to “saute”. Once it reads “hot” add 1 tsp olive oil then break beef into large chunks and add to instant pot along with garlic and a few pinches of salt.
  2. Let beef brown, stirring and breaking up beef occasionally, until cooked through, about 6 minutes. Press the “cancel” button to turn instant pot off. 
  3. Break spaghetti noodles in half. Add about 1/6 into an even layer over beef, then add another 1/6 going the opposite direction into an even layer. Repeat this pattern with remaining noodles four times (this doesn’t need to be perfect! It’s just to reduce sticking).  
  4. Add in marinara sauce, basil, tomatoes and water and season lightly with salt and pepper (don’t stir). 
  5. Seal the lid of the Instant Pot, making sure the valve is set to “sealing.” Press the “manual mode” button (or high pressure on other pressure cookers) and set to 7 minutes.
  6. Once time is up, use the quick release method according to manufactures instructions (basically just stand back and flick the valve). Once sputtering stops open lid, remove basil and toss spaghetti with a fork.   
  7. Let rest two minutes (this will allow some of that extra liquid to soak in and the noodles to cook through). Sere warm with parmesan and basil leaves or chopped basil ribbons. 

Instant Pot Spaghetti Recipe