Mary Beth Writes


We are doing pretty well. Len has 46 staples in his head – the rehab admitting person counted them. Not sure if I wanted to know, but now I do.

His mind, brain, coordination, balance, and motor movements all seem to be exactly the way they always were. Twice he has politely helped the professional therapists who are helping him – unscramble some confusing things on their computers.  

The rehab hospital meets to design a plan for what to do and learn and when a patient can leave. They have assigned him a release date of this coming Friday. He is doing that well.

His main challenges are regaining his strength. He has pretty much turned into a cat. If you need him to talk or do something, he can. If you leave him alone ten minutes, he falls asleep.

This is what I have been thinking.

We are on day #13 of this difficult, scary, unwanted adventure. There have been a number of times when Len has been in a little to a lot of mortal danger. Most of his nurses have been people I get teary thinking about; such compassion and smarts. Seriously. I do not want to call them heroes or angels because I don’t like overused clichés. I want to say that there are powerfully skilled and caring people, mostly women, in our medical institutions - and they are worth telling your children and grandchildren about. Do it. Okay?

And then I want to say this. I feel as if we were airdropped into a nice, competent, modern city that we know nothing about. Let’s say Montreal. I’ve never been there. It is functional, it has places to get care, food, gas for the car, company, and everything one might need. But there is no map of Montreal. No one has it, no one can hand it to you, it isn’t on Google maps. You have to just keep looking, thinking, and knocking on doors of busy people you don’t know about where to go next. You have to keep doing Montreal and after a while you sort of know it. Just about then, they move you to a slightly different part of Montreal (a different floor of the hospital, a different hospital) and then you have to learn more about Montreal

Everyday we have been somewhere in Montreal.

We still do not need things. The freezer was already crammed wih at least twenty small meals in it before this started. Len is allergic to flowers. He has no taste for sweets.

What we would love is to get short 2-3 sentence messages telling us what you see in a day, what small adventures you are having. We totally missed the high-flying flocks of sandhills cranes this year. Did you see them? Have you gone fishing? Big fish out there? What is the coolest thing you saw or encountered today?

We are locked in Montreal. We miss knowing what is going on in our friends’ lives.




Now I live in the desert. There are many creatures here and some can be dangerous. I’ve almost always lived in a city - Wisconsin or California. Now I see a variety of hawks as well as so many types of birds. There are coyotes, javelina, bobcats, mountain lion, snakes and villa monsters. There are also many kinds of plants that can poke or sting, but produce edible fruits and beautiful flowers. Oh, and the sunrises and sunsets with the mountains framing them are unbelievable. Be well soon, Len!
Mary Beth's picture

Several years ago, visiting Casa Grande in AZ, the docent (a retired ad man if you can imagine) said that if one knew where to look and how to cook, there are 400 things one can eat in the Sonoran desert. Len and I were both captivated by that statement. That in most places, the natural world has so much to see and be dazzled by and to eat...

It’s good to hear that Len is strong and that he may come home this Friday. You are both going through a lot. I’m not doing much really. Just day to day stuff. Clearing off the patio for fall. Doing laundry. I did make some homemade applesauce this morning. The instapot pot has been a game changer on making applesauce for me - I throw in the chopped up unpeeled apples and 8 minutes later and a whirl or 2 with the hand wand and Voila! Good to read your update. All the best to you both Debra
Mary Beth's picture

Len loves our instapot. I bet he might try this - in a few weeks... Thanks!

Len, get better soon. It is always a day at a time. It is so wonderful that you have great care at the hospital and rehab, including Mary Beth at your side. I hope you will ask the staff to roll you to a window to see the beauty of the fall leaves as we move into the last chapter of fall colors: dazzling yellows, oranges, and reds on the trees, floating in the wind, and carpeting the ground. I will email Mary Beth some photos to share of my experience over the last 3 days amid nature's fall extravaganza. Hang in there. Gary
Mary Beth's picture

We got your email this morning and we both said Wow to the yellow trees. He has a few trees outside his window, but as everyone knows, looking at a tree is not the same as hiking in autumn. Thanks.
Leonard's picture

Everyone knows that hospitals hire professional trees to stand around outside

Thank you for the update...

I don't know you, we are not "friends"; I'm not even sure how I found your blog. What I do know is that you are what is good about the internet, part of what is the good that is in this world. I am praying for Len's recovery and for strength for you as you go through this with him. As for the coolest thing of my day it is watching my doggo chase the bits of sun peeking through this frosty morning as she tries to find a sunny spot on the deck to bask.
Mary Beth's picture

We can both 'see' your pup out there in the frost and light. Thank you so much.

What a great analogy! That is exactly what it is like. Every day, even every hour you realize there is something else that you need to figure out, that they all take it for granted this is how it works, and it is completely a mystery to you. Here are a couple of things going on here in Santa Cruz: we went to our first two movies at a movie theater: French Dispatch (really fun and engaging) and the Met Opera live stream of Fire Shut up in My Bones. Wonderful! Also I am finishing three sets of PJs for my grandsons: one Giants (baseball) one monster trucks, one Baby Yoda. A theme for each age and interest. We will see them in person this coming week. love, Dorian
Mary Beth's picture

I want to see that movie, that opera. One of these days I will see what we can find on our streaming services. Maybe next week... Isn't it sweet how interested little kids are in their own jammies? When we humans are cute, we are REALLY cute.

First - I am just seeing all of this Len news at once-I do not like it. Not at all. But what I do like is that Len is still Len, and is going to work on getting strength and endurance back, so he can still be our Len for a very long time. That is very good. This is scary stuff, and I am very glad that you are experiencing wonderful and compassionate care, though in a Montreal place (love that description) where you really do not want to be though you are very grateful that it exists. So, now I am on high Len and MB alert and would very much like to do a better job of keeping in touch. So you are missing your every day adventures, I will tell you ours for today. We decided that we are getting a little too lazy, and it is a beautiful day today, so we went for a hike on a marked trail in the woods near hear. We had a choice, upper trail or lower trail, so we wanted to be adventurous and chose upper trail. It was beautiful, Steve took photos of animal holes in trees and fossilized mushrooms on trees. Then we found out that we are little scared on steep slopes where the leaves are slippery, especially on the way down. So tomorrow we are going to try the lower trail. We have also decided we should go on more adventures, even little ones, because it was pretty fun, even on the scary slopes. Last week Steve was on a big golf trip with guys he played golf with in high school. I thoroughly cleaned out my "office" and spent some time with kids and grandkids - which was all very good. Love you both lots, get stronger every day Len. Hugs!

Pam and I are sniffly/sneezy....(beats grumpy/dopey!). We watched the church service online. So. David and Len now have similar 'doos. :) Though, I think Len's approach to that style, should not be repeated... I am off to Madison, tomorrow. Friday was a longer day of babysitting, as the kids were off school. Mondays are just afternoons. I take Ingrid for her violin lesson. How cool is that?? A 6 yr old, learning the violin. She tells us the names of all the parts of the violin, and explains the bow. A Caregiver is almost in place!!! Now, maybe I can have time and energy to clean my office/cat room... emphasis on 'maybe'. It will entail lots of paper shredding. I liked your Montreal analogy. And the folks in Montreal sorta speak the same language, but sorta don't. I'm glad the nurses and staff are helpful and compassionate. I'll drop a few lines, soon. Good work, Len! And Mary Beth!!

I have been thinking of both of you, as you navigate Montreal (what an apt description). We had our first "winter" day here in South Florida. Went down to 58 for several hours. For the first time in months no iguanas were sighted in the back yard. They "fall" (Literally) asleep when it gets too cold, and you have to watch your step (and head) when you walk in the yard. Several of them are "godzilla" size. The Osprey continues to hunt, and it is always a wonder to see. The hummingbirds are visiting, I could watch them for hours. My back yard is a place of healing and light for me. Sending you both some of that light. Patricia

I’ve been thinking about Len and you a lot and am glad to hear of his rapid rehab prognosis. It’s good to hear that he’s “still Len” and helping the nurses with their tech issues. As always, I appreciate your thoughtful commentary. You hug folks with words better than anyone I know. I wish I could say that we were enjoying the fall, but circumstances have (happily) nudged us into moving, so we’re feverishly cleaning out the barn and fixing all of the things that should have been addressed in the last 20 years. We’re so cliche. Our maple tree gave us a grand send off this fall by turning a rich, fiery red rather than its typical anemic yellow. I think it knows we’re going and wanted one last chance to impress. Our new neighbors assure us that wildlife abounds in the new subdivision, but I will miss the herds of deer, flocks of turkeys, families of baby skunks and random foxes and hawks that have passed through our country place. Our largest visitors were heifers from the barn across the way and I’m pretty sure that this will not repeat itself in Brookfield. Give Len our best. We’re sending all of the healing energy we can to both of you. ❤️
Mary Beth's picture

Thank for you good energy. Heifers visiting one's yard from time to time sounds hilarious and odd. Len and I downsized our stuff in half to move from Racine to here. We still have so many things, but we never regret that we already did that winnowing work. Time to have new adventures, instead of dusting the souvenirs from the old ones...

A few weeks ago, the Chicago Tribune had an article about the head MD of the Rehab Hospital who had a stroke and became a patient at his own hospital. He made a full recovery, and he came to appreciate, even more, his wonder staff. But what shocked him the most was how much rest he needed. He now recognizes that rest is an integral part of brain healing. So yes, Len is working while he is sleeping. Today, I sat at an outside table and allowed two of my grandsons to each eat their own enormous cookie from a corner bakery. Only a few days left for that pleasure! Love to you both! Lois
Mary Beth's picture

That is interesting, about the CEO who was realized how tired he felt as his brain recovered. I mentioned it to Len this morning. It is comforting to realize he is not the only 60ish man sleeping his way through so much of the day (when not in the therapies he has to do). Every day he seems stronger, but we expect this healing to take 3-6 months.

Add new comment


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

Y is for Yellowstone


Back in February I asked you to give me topics to write about that would correspond to the alphabet. Sometimes several of you sent ideas for one letter and sometimes I wrote about all of them (I’s and S’s) Here we are at letter Y for which your suggestions are Yummy Food and Yawns. The word yawn absolutely makes me yawn; no way I could write about that - I would yawn for hours. I worked on Yummy Food but could only find a scolding voice about Americans eating too much sugar. Bah. True but not interesting.

So, I gave Y a go again. Y is for?

"I was Scott Simon's teller."


First of all - Thank you to those of you who came to the Wisconsin Writers Association zoom gala last night. I HAD received an email a week ago which said I would be reading my whole story. Cutting it in half while I was reading was awkward! It was still a happy event for me and the other writers. Thanks for being there! 

X is for Xeriscape


Xeriscape is pronounced ‘zeer-eh-scape’ and it means landscaping with little to no irrigated water. Readers in the west already know about this. Those of us who don’t live in arid or desert places need to wake up to the incredible resource that water is - then begin to accommodate ourselves to “water all around and beneath us all the time” is no longer our reality. Nor is it our right. We’ve got to get smarter and do better.

W is for Wonder


To whomever suggested Wonder - Thank You!  ‘Wonder’ has been bobbing in my mind like a frog in a pond.

However, I have FOUR suggestions from you guys for X - but I do not want to write four X essays. These are the suggestions:

1.) X signature substitution

2.) xylophone on a string pulled by a toddler

3.) xenophobia

4.) Xmas. 

If you have an opinion respond with the one you would like me to attempt. I will choose whichever X gets the most comments.

There will be no gerrymandering in this election.



Grownups Noticing Their Lives


Most of you know about my former weird and lovely job of coordinating an employability skills program for Huber-qualified inmates in the Racine County Jail (that’s a mouthful). Early on I realized that most of the people I would work with were people with 1.) huge addiction problems, and 2.) underlying and over-the-top and to-the-side just lying around mental health issues.

V is for Vocabulary


For those who are new here - This year I am writing about topics, in alphabetical order, that were suggested to me by readers. Sometimes this is hard! 


My cousin-in-law Dave has some powerfully thorough avocations (for fun and profit he earned a PhD in biochemistry; you will notice this in his list). This year, among other pursuits, he has been collecting words which have appeared in our culture since 1945, which was the year he also appeared in our culture.

Tag Cloud

9/11 17 minutes 500 Words A-Z AARPtaxes AAUW abortion Acadia accident Accountable Advent aging Alaska anniversary antibiotics antlers apples appointments Arrows art Ashland August Augustine aunts baby Badlands balance Baldwin Barbara Barkskins Beauty Becky Becoming Esther Berry birthday bistro BLM Blue BookReport books boy scout Bread BrokenDays BuyAngry Cabeza de Vaca Cahokia calendars Canada canoe cat romance cats cello Chicago China Choosing Christmas cilantro Cinnabuns circus climate change clouds Clowns clutter Colonialism comet ComfortZone CommonSense community consumerism Cops Corvid-19 Courage Covid-19 Crazy creditreport creosote CrimeShows danger DarkRiver death Debate December DecisionFatigue decluttering democracy dentist depression Destination Today Detroit Didion disasterprep dogs dollhouse Dreams Duty Easter eBay Echoes Eclipse election EmilyDickinson eschatology Esquipulas exit polls eyes Fable FairTrade family farmer Fata Morgana ferns firealarm Fitness Five Flatbread Flexible flu Food Pantry Fort de Chartres frame Franc FrancGarcia friends frugal FrugalHacks Frugality frustration Ft.Ticonderoga fungi fusion Galena Gannets Garden GarfieldParkConservatory Gaspe genius geode GeorgeFloyd gerrymandering ghosts gifts girls GNTL gorgons goulash GovernorThompsonStatePark Graduation grandkids granola groceries Guatemala gum guns Hair happiness HaveYouEver? hawks healthcare Healthinsurance hearings heart heaven HelleKBerry heroes hike History home HomeRepair Honduras Hope HowCrowGotOutofJail humor hurricane Ice Cream idiosyncrasy igloos impeachment Innkeeper Instincts integrity InternetPrivacy Interview InviteMe2Speak James Baldwin Jan 6 Janus jewelry JoyceAndrews Judy JulianofNorwich Jump justice Karen kites ladder Lady Lamb LangstonHuges LaphamPeak laundry LeeLeeMcKnight lemming Len Light Lincoln Little Women LockedOut Loki loneliness LouisArmstrong Love Ludington Macaw macho Manitoulin MargaretFuller Maria Hamilton Marquette marriage Marsden Hartley masks Mayan MayaWorks meme Memories men Middlemarch MilesWallyDiego MindfulChickens Mistakes MLK moon Mother MothersDay mounds mouser movies museums must-haves Mustapha NAMI Nancy Drew Newfoundland New Mexico New York City Nomadland nope observation OBUUC Ocotillo OnaJudge ordinary OscarRomero osprey Outside oximeter Parade mayhem PastorBettyRendon Paul Hessert PDQ Penny persimmon photos Pi Pies pineapples poetry Preaching privacy procrastination Protest QE2 Quern quest Questions Rabbit holes racism reading recipe recipes recommendations Remember RepresentationMatters Reruns responsetoKapenga Retirement rhubarb Ricky rime RitesofPassage romance Rosemary Ruether Roses Roti Ruth SamaritanWoman Sanctuary Sandhillcranes Santuario de Chimayo SaraKurtz SaraRodriguez satellites ScottSimon sculpture Seasons Sermon ServantsoftheQuest sewing Shepherd Shontay ShortStory shoulder sick sickness Slower snow Social Security SofritoBandito solstice South Dakota SpaceShuttle spirituality spring square feet staining stars stele Stereotypes stories StoryStarts stream monitoring stress Survival swim Talent taxes teenager thankgsgiving Thanksgiving TheBridge TheMaid ThePerpetualYou therapy ThreeBillBoards Three Thing ThreeThings Three Things TidalBore TimeBeing toddler Tom tortillas Trains travel Traveler Tubing turtle Twilight Bark Tyrone Ukraine Ulysses Grant Umbrella UnrelatedObservations Up North urgency vacation vaccine Valentines vanilla Vietnam vision VivianWokeUpDrowning Vocabulary vole volunteer WalkingAndSeeing Wampanaog war WarsanShire weather weaving Webs wedding whines WhyAttendChurch Wiley Willa WillaCather Wisteria Won! Wonder words Xeriscape Yellowstone
Ad Promotion