Mary Beth Writes


Yesterday the sprayer hose of our kitchen sink broke. (Because if a house is going to break, it’s going to do it two days before Christmas, right?) Len heard water, looked under the sink, water was spurting out the side of the cracked hose. He went to Ace to get a replacement hose but who knew we needed a hose with a rare connecting apparatus? Ace hose didn’t work. Len got back in the car to go to Menard’s.

While there his phone buzzed with a message that said that he’d been in contact with a person who was positive for Covid-19.

That weirded him out and me, too, when he told me. This morning I looked at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website. One can sign up to get alerts which we did last year but neither of us had experienced this previous to yesterday.

As is true with so many of the parts and pieces of this pandemic, it’s not 100% clear what just happened. It seems as if somewhere in the recent past, maybe while he was in the store though that now seems unlikely, Len was within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes, of a person who is now covid positive. Maybe at the local Democrtic get together he went to last week and at which he wore a mask the whole time and so did the other people. What Len should do right now is quarantine UNLESS he is vaccinated, which he is. So wear a mask and carry on.

Not sure what the takeaway of this is. Other than get fully vaccinated, wear your mask, consider wearing two.

Also, he fixed the sink. Woohoo. 

Click here to learn more/sign up for the alerts in Wisconsin. 


Pastors of my childhood confidently proclaimed that people who go to seminary lose their faith. Six weeks after I started seminary I realized I no longer believed a whole bunch of the stuff those ministers had preached at us. I remember laughing aloud about that and my cat looking up.

Here is what I have learned in my life about the religious holiday known as Christmas. The less we expect it to be about weird and impossible stuff that happened 2000 years ago – the more we get to honor and respond to what is going on now. We get to take our abilities and questions seriously. What are we looking for? What warms our souls and gives us happiness? If being a person of faith does not mean convincing others to say their religious words the same way we say ours - then what DOES faith mean? Important questions to mull for those of us raised in Christian words and traditions.

Anticipation:  Remember how excited we got as kids waiting for gifts and toys? Reading the various gospel nativity stories, one can sometimes feel that. People writing the gospels 30-100 years after Jesus had come and gone, were still waiting for confirmation that their lives meant something. If the birth of Jesus came in mystery and music and poetry and a sense that meaningfulness was now beginning – then they could claim that their hard-pressed faith was also birthed in that birth.

Giving: As adults yearning to receive, we give. I made a from-scratch two-layer chocolate cake yesterday for the family of a kid I used to tutor. They are not destitute; this was about sharing my advanced sugar wrangling prowess with a kid-filled family. I’m sitting here grinning because I still have their faces in my mind.

My daughter just texted that the Paw Patrol figurines I bought for our granddaughter are NOT a duplicates! Apparently I bought the Kitty Catastrophe set which they don’t have and the kiddos are playing with it today. 

We can give. We can imagine and think and share. When it seems as if we are desolate, we can turn around and give a little. Pain doesn’t go away, but we heal and become stronger and wiser. And more hopeful.

This experience of anticipating, of receiving and giving, of listening, and sharing – this is Christmas.

In case you missed this comment after Quarantine Dairy #648. Like this. 

Submitted by Christine on December 21, 2021

My church runs a thrift shop with the primary goal of making available to the community gently used items at very affordable prices. While volunteering there last Saturday, two women came in. Somehow one of them had connected with the manager of the thrift shop. It turns out the older of the two has custody of two of her elementary school aged grandchildren. The week before we met her, her husband had beat her badly. That night, with only the clothes on their backs, she fled with the two grandchildren. In other words, they had nothing. No clothes, no furniture, no household goods, and no Christmas presents or decorations. We welcomed them and loaded the grandmother up with anything she chose to take, including toys...some new...wrapping paper, Christmas stockings, clothing, and anything she wanted for their new apartment. In fact, they made two trips because they couldn't fit everything into the friend's vehicle on the first one. We all had tears. This was my Merry Christmas.



How good and warm that must have felt, to be able to do something to help that family! What a blessing to you to be able to do God’s work and a blessing to the family to have found your thrift shop.

Special sharing of Christmas meaning...

Thank you for the story of strangers helping the grandmother and her grandchildren.

Merry Christmas to the most fantastic thought-provoker I know. Thanks for all you give in your writing, it always stirs me in some way.

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A-Z Danger

Years ago Len took this photo of a lone coyote. 


I just finished rereading Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News. Boy oh boy do I love her writing.

The story asks this. How do people who were damaged by their childhoods find purpose, meaning, and love as adults? Good question, huh?

A-Z Cats

This is Lil Girl hanging out while I wrote this. 




 “Every family needs a cat so there is someone to blame everything on who won’t actually care.” Quote attributed to Len. 

I was 21 when I got my first cat through the fraught circumstance of someone dropping him off on a highway. He made his way to the backstep of my brother’s house where Sebastian the dog began to bark his head off. Paul went to the door to discover a kitten hanging by its wee claws to the screen door.

A-Z Barbara

Barbara 1/26/2023

A-Z means I’m writing short takes on random topics and I’m going in alphabetical order. I love this quote: “Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible.”

That’s the spirit I’m pursuing: Undisciplined, irreverent, and original.

A-Z, Alaska


I’ve never been to Alaska. I’m sure I’d love it but going there is not a big dream for either Len or me.

However, this. When our son was around 12 he developed a crush on all things Alaskan. Kid who lives in a ranch house on a Midwestern cul-de-sac wants to get lost in tundra and mountains with moose and wolves. Yup.

At first he just talked, dreamed, read books, and watched shows about Alaska. Then, at 14 he got a part-time job as a janitor at a vet clinic and he kept that job until he went to college. It was a good fit for a kid not drawn to homework.

A to Z


I am not exactly depressed, but I can whip up a pretty good glum at almost any moment. There have been about three sunny days since Thanksgiving, and four colds, and I’m feeling it. How about you?

We can’t even properly whine. Not with the Atmospheric Rivers of Doom in California, and tornadoes in the south. And all the other glum and hateful news.

Sara Kurtz & Healthcare by Zip Code? Really?


Many of you have been very generous in the past. Please think about making a donation to the GoFundMe account of Sara Kurtz. Donate here. 

Who is Sara? She’s a friend of my niece Susan.

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