Mary Beth Writes

This beautiful photo is by my cousin Judy Saunders. It's of a Danish designed lamp. Yes it is. 


I’ve been to England exactly once in my life. I went with my daughter who through her magical powers had graduated from college in three years instead of four. We celebrated by going to London for a long weekend, just she and I. We stayed in a room so small she had to crawl over the end of my bed to get to hers. We saw things, walked a lot, and rode a double decker bus although my most profound memory is trying to cross a busy street. I could not figure out which way to look, hesitated, and my 21-year-old kid took my hand and walked me across the street. One doesn’t forget a moment like that.

We also took a bus excursion to Famous British Places including Stonehenge. 

I was a bit surprised to see that while it is impressive, it is not gigantic. I think I was expecting something as big as a football stadium. It’s not small, but the horseshoe of rocks could probably fit on a basketball court. The standing stones are 13’ high and 7’ wide; about two basketball players tall, two football players wide. I was surprised at the bucolic sheep grazing nearby, and also that the selection of doodads and gimcrackery in the tourist shop was not very extensive. 

Yesterday was solstice. For those of us who don’t spend our lives studying the exact moment the sun arises in the morning or sets in the evening, today can be solstice, too. (I started this yesterday, but life got in the way). Solstice is not a big deal for those of us raised mostly inside, who learned early to distrust mystery, unspecified power, or light as an actual character in the human story. 

Solstice is from before and beyond words and rationality, fear and hope. Solstice is heat, light, coldness, energy. If one is looking for light, then one is waiting for solstice.

So here we are, tipping from short days back towards long ones, and glad for it.

Hopi Sun Prayer

You who are the source of all power,
Your rays illuminate the whole world,
Illuminate our hearts also,
So we too may do your work.



Franc Garcia.  Cactus at Chicago Botanical Gardens.  

"I’m like the trunk of a cactus. I take in a dose of culture and time with friends, then I retreat and go live on it awhile until I get thirsty again."  Nancy Horan

“Humanity is so weird. If we’re not laughing, we’re crying or running for our lives because monsters are trying to eat us. And they don’t even have to be real monsters. They could be the ones we make up in our heads. Don’t you think that’s weird?”
― T.J. Klune, The House in the Cerulean Sea


 Jennifer Beiriger. Her dog (is this Shadow?) taking a snooze.

“We should always make time for the things we like. If we don't, we might forget how to be happy.”
― T.J. Klune, The House in the Cerulean Sea

“A home isn’t always the house we live in. It’s also the people we choose to surround ourselves with. You may not live on the island, but you can’t tell me it’s not your home. Your bubble, Mr. Baker. It’s been popped. Why would you allow it to grow around you again?”
― T.J. Klune, The House in the Cerulean Sea

"And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good." John Steinbeck


 Mary Kay Friedel. California sunrise

All the leaves are brown
And the sky is gray
I've been for a walk
On a winter's day
I'd be safe and warm
If I was in L.A.
California dreaming
On such a winter's day

"To be alive at all is to have scars."  John Steinbeck

"Anything that costs just money is cheap."  John Steinbeck


Len took this years ago in our Racine house. He likes the way the light of the kindle lights my face. I like how clean the house looks. It must have been from after the kids all moved out. 

"If a story is not about the hearer, he will not listen. And here I make a rule—a great and interesting story is about everyone or it will not last." John Steinbeck

"Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen." John Steinbeck



Len took this of plumes of grass by the bike path.

“Change often starts with the smallest of whispers. Like-minded people build it up to a roar.”
― T.J. Klune, The House in the Cerulean Sea

If you are still reading - I plan to post photos of Christmas on Thursday. If you have the time and energy, send some photos of your tree, presents, meals, people, decorations in your house or town. If you don't have time or can't remember where you filed that photo - here's wishing you a few rich days anticipating and maybe preparing for this odd Christmas.  And if it doesn't feel like a holiday, no problem.. It will still be Friday and Fridays are nice, too. 

My email address (that I don't often advertise, but you will need it to send your photos) is MB at














Great pictures. Those standing stones -hmmmmm. Love all the quotes especially the ones by T.J.Klune Just Emailed Christmas pictures. Never say I don’t participate. Love. I really enjoy seeing all the pictures and appreciate all the time you spend.

Add new comment


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Quarantine Diary #312

“You know me, I think there ought to be a big old tree right there. And let's give him a friend. Everybody needs a friend.” ― Bob Ross

This tree lives in Waukesha and stopped me in my tracks when I was out for a walk.


 When will this Quarantine Diary end? When Len and I drive out not wearing masks to go to a place where we will stay overnight. Just letting you know. FYI we started last year on Friday the 13th of March.


Quarantine Diary #308 1/15/2021

My life is pretty fine, and I bet yours is, too. Warm place to live. Food to eat. Friends to share and laugh with - even if we have to do it via Zoom.

At the same time, who isn’t feeling anxiety and dread? Will the white supremacist insurrectionist knobs attack the inaugural? Will they screw up state capitols and infrastructure? One lone guy blew up Nashville a mere three weeks ago. What the hell is going on?

Quarantine Diary #307 Brain Names

Remember when there was no autism? Sure, there were kids in our schools who were weirdly able to remember stuff, or were hard to control, or whose emotions triggered at the oddest time. We generally ignored those kids. Those of us who were kind did, anyways. Others bullied. 

Remember the mopey kids in high school who knew too much about depressing art and angsty music and sometimes killed themselves?

Quarantine Diary #306 Hunched Over & Paying Attention

I am going to write some Quarantine Diary entries again. There’s a lot going on and sometimes it helps to hear a small voice as well as the big voices of journalists, pundits, networks, the other public media we follow.

I have had a small headache off and on for days. I worried that I might have contracted Covid, except dang it, I haven’t gone anywhere! And then, thinking about it, I realized I am hunched over my phone much more than usual. These mild on-again, off-again headaches are from eyestrain and weird posture.

Rime and Treason

These photos were taken by Len on Monday in that other time and world that existed before the Trump gorgons mobbed the Capitol. (Gorgons existed in Greek literature. Gorgons are the poisonous siblings with hair of living snakes. Those who beheld them face-to-face turned to stone. Or were killed by being beaten by a fire extinguisher.)

I have been trying to write about that but it is too hard. There is so much that is clear and is informative. You are reading it as much as I am. Blessed be the journalists, right? 

Quarantine Diary #292 New Year's Eve

Many of us feel as if we are in limbo until Biden takes office. I don’t think you need me to say a lot about how long and hard this year has been; we’ve been in this dentist’s chair together.


Did you see how many days quarantine has lasted? 292 days.

So far.

This week I read a remarkable essay. On Natural Landscapes, Metaphorical Living, and Warlpiri Identity, by Barry Lopez. Life is weird. The day after I read it, Mr. Lopez died.

Tag Cloud

9/11 17 minutes 500 Words AARPtaxes AAUW Acadia Accountable Advent apples Arrows Augustine baby balance Baldwin Barkskins Beauty Becky Berry birthday bistro BookReport boy scout Bread BrokenDays BuyAngry Cahokia calendars Canada cats cello Choosing Christmas cilantro Cinnabuns circus clouds Clowns clutter Colonialism comet ComfortZone CommonSense consumerism Cops Corvid-19 Courage Covid-19 Crazy creditreport CrimeShows death Debate December DecisionFatigue decluttering Detroit Dreams Duty eBay Eclipse EmilyDickinson exit polls FairTrade farmer firealarm Fitness Five Flexible flu Fort de Chartres frame Franc FrancGarcia friends frugal Frugality frustration Ft.Ticonderoga Gannets Garden GarfieldParkConservatory Gaspe genius geode ghosts gorgons GovernorThompsonStatePark groceries Guatemala guns happiness HaveYouEver? Healthinsurance HelleKBerry heroes hike History home HomeRepair Honduras Hope HouseinBlueRiver hurricane impeachment Innkeeper integrity InternetPrivacy Interview InviteMe2Speak JoyceAndrews Judy JulianofNorwich justice Karen Lamb LangstonHuges LaphamPeak laundry LeeLeeMcKnight lemming Len Light Lincoln Little Women LockedOut Love Ludington Macaw macho Manitoulin MargaretFuller Maria Hamilton Marquette marriage Mayan MayaWorks MindfulChickens Mistakes moon Mother MothersDay mouser movies museums must-haves New York City Nomadland OscarRomero osprey Outside oximeter PastorBettyRendon Paul Hessert PDQ Penny persimmon poetry Preaching privacy Protest Quern quest Rabbit holes racism recipe recipes Remember Reruns responsetoKapenga Retirement rime RitesofPassage Roses Ruth SamaritanWoman Sanctuary Sandhillcranes SaraRodriguez sculpture Sermon ServantsoftheQuest sewing Shepherd Shontay ShortStory sick sickness snow Social Security SofritoBandito SpaceShuttle spring square feet staining stele Stereotypes StoryStarts Survival swim taxes teenager thankgsgiving Thanksgiving ThePerpetualYou ThreeBillBoards TidalBore TimeBeing toddler Tom tortillas Trains travel Traveler Tubing turtle UnrelatedObservations urgency vacation Valentines vanilla Vietnam VivianWokeUpDrowning vole WalkingAndSeeing Wampanaog war WarsanShire weather weaving wedding WhyAttendChurch WillaCather
Ad Promotion