Mary Beth Writes

Judy Saunders. Photo of a Rose.

Lo, how a rose e'er blooming
From tender stem hath sprung,
Of Jesse's lineage coming,
As folks of old have sung.
It came a flower bright
Amid the cold of winter
When half-spent was the night.


Len and I were delivering presents to Chicago yesterday. Social distancing, with masks, but we did it and we saw our kids’ faces and there’s your Christmas, Ma’am.

Our 4-year-old granddaughter had helped her mom make chocolate chip banana muffins that our daughter offered to us. Our granddaughter darkly warned us (from her backyard swing, wearing a pink jacket, not too scary after all) that we should not take more than one because, “They’re for Santa.”

I remember leaving snacks for Santa. I remember our kids leaving snacks for Santa. Len thought it the height of wit to tell the kids that Santa likes a glass of red wine.

I remember one of our kids becoming very anxious on Christmas eve. “What if I have to go the bathroom and he is here?” We were sympathetic. My god, what would it be to get up, hear a noise, and there is a stranger in the house? He is two feet taller and a hundred pounds bigger than you? He is in your family room eating your muffins and drinking your wine?

Anticipation is delicious. Some of us are single, are grandparental ages, or by distance and Covid will not be seeing our best people. What do we get to anticipate this year?

The most powerful moments in our lives are often not the ones where people gave things to us, but we gave to others.

Maybe we can recall some of the best things we have given. Gifts and help of stuff, time, planning, organization skills to strengthen or build a program. Reading to others, talking with like-minded friends. Not being afraid when someone else was.

Consider when and where and what we can give next.

Make it complicated and make it fun.



Kathryn Rouse. Photo taken in Jellystone Campground, decorated for the holidays

“Well, she can have her tinsel world of make-believe. I’m headed back to Jellystone.” Yogi Bear

“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.”
― Leonard Cohen

Len. Our neighbors’ duplex homes.

“Pointing to another world will never stop vice among us; shedding light over this world can alone help us.” ― Walt Whitman

“Home isn't where you're from, it's where you find light when all grows dark.”
― Pierce Brown, Golden Son


Kathryn Rouse. The yellow round ones at the top left are lemon flavored and I had a co-worker who would wait for a year to get another one. He would ask me in the week before Christmas, “Do you think your friend Kathryn will bring you cookies this year?”


Lois Miller's photo of her mom, who is 101. What beauty.

“The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”
― Maya Angelou, All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes

“Don't worry about losing. If it is right, it happens - The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.” John Steinbeck


Gary Cozette. A skim of ice on Lake Michigan

“Ice contains no future, just the past, sealed away. As if they're alive, everything in the world is sealed up inside, clear and distinct. Ice can preserve all kinds of things that way - cleanly, clearly. That's the essence of ice, the role it plays.” - Haruki Murakami, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman

“The quality of owning freezes you forever in "I" and cuts you off forever from the "we.” John Steinbeck

Jennifer Beiriger. Ocean bird.

 “We never know how high we are till we are called to rise; And then, if we are true to plan, our statures touch the skies.” – Emily Dickinson

“Love is anterior to life, posterior to death, initial of creation, and the exponent of breath.” – Emily Dickinson


Kathryn Rouse. She owned this toy as a child and saw it again in a store window in Vermont. I had a Jack-in-the-box that would have matched this toy. 

“No one ever forgets a toy that made him or her supremely happy as a child, even if that toy is replaced by one like it that is much nicer.” ― Stephen King, The Eyes of the Dragon

“The past beats inside me like a second heart.” ― John Banville, The Sea


Karen Poe and her mom, years ago, taking the grandkids to a holiday play at Amish acres.

“Humans, not places, make memories.” ― Ama Ata Aidoo

“Sometimes," he sighed, "I think the things I remember are more real than the things I see. ”
― Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha


Len took this photo of a group of friends who got together for coffee. In case you don’t already realize, this is your Christmas Mary photo. Paula Marie, Mary Ann, Mary Beth, Renee Marie, and Mary Kay.

“Never once did Jesus scan the room for the best example of holy living and send that person out to tell others about him. He always sent stumblers and sinners. I find that comforting.” ― Nadia Bolz-Weber

“People have told me 'Betty, Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with old friends...'
.. At my age, if I wanted to keep in touch with old friends, I'd need a Ouija board” ― Betty White

“Why did you do all this for me?' he asked. 'I don't deserve it. I've never done anything for you.' 'You have been my friend,' replied Charlotte. 'That in itself is a tremendous thing.” ― E.B. White, Charlotte's Web


Franc Garcia. His friend Brad.

There is a saying I have heard several times but can’t find right now. It’s from Jewish tradition.

“When does night become morning?

When there is enough light to recognize the face of a friend.”


Karen Poe sent this photo that her grandson Tristan took. It’s the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter (from our point of view) happening this week, which people are calling the Christmas Star.

“The notion that we live in a quiet, ordinary suburb of the galaxy was simple and comforting. But boy, we were wrong.” ― Michio Kaku

“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars and see yourself running with them.” ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

I thank all of you who shared Looking for Advent Light photos with us all. It's been a good and memorable project for me. I appreciate all your contributions. 

And now?

Merry Happy Christmas Weekend!

“We are all connected in ways we cannot even begin to fathom. Our lives unfold through each other and within each other. What one suffers, we all feel. What one does changes others forever.”
― David Rhodes, Driftless




Merry Christmas Mary Beth. Thank you for all your wonderful posts!!!!

Love this —- so much work! Merry Christmas, Mary Beth!

My best Christmas in year's arrived during this year of Covid... I arrived at Mr. B's house at 10:30A.M. Wednesday just thinking it was going to be our regular get together... Covid cancelled our plans for the family Xmas dinner for five we had been planning on having, just like it has for many of us... I made and delivered a Traditional Puerto Rican dinner for all involved to be delivered tomorrow by Bonnie to her son and his girlfriend... I did it so that we could all share the exact same meal on Xmas while being in three different homes...( Welcome to the pandemic ) Bonnie said what a wonderful idea, and thanked me for thinking of it... Mr. B asked if I'd help put up his decorations after we did a six mile walk along the river and he made me dinner... We got the two trees up and decorated and the other lights placed... When we finished we shared glasses of spiked homemade eggnog as we sat in the living room with only the lights from the decorations... He thanked me for the day the help and said that he's done this alone for years, so it was nice to share it for the first time ever with a partner... He made me Christmas eve breakfast and he had me open my gifts, books, books and more books... He planned the whole thing so that we wouldn't be cheated out of our first Christmas together as a couple... In my book you can't beat that... It was priceless!!

Merry Christmas to all along with wishes for a much better New Year than the one that's coming to a close...
Mary Beth's picture

What a year. "Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along. What you seek is seeking you.” – Rumi

That was a very enjoyable series. Thank you for sharing the photos and lovely quotations.
Mary Beth's picture

You are welcome. Thanks for sending some of your photos.

Thank you. This has been a beautiful series. Very comforting & hopeful.

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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.

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