Mary Beth Writes


I know a fair amount about the planet-killing toxicity of western culture’s “fast fashion” so I was impressed by what I read this morning in “The Day the World Stops Shopping.” (I wrote about this book yesterday in case you missed class. Hah.)

You need to read Chapter 12 to get the bigger scenario, but here’s my fast explanation. Yes, manufacturers make way too many clothes which harms the planet and exploits the poorest people on earth. Example: A Bangladeshi garment factory owner says if consumers would pay $.02 more per T-shirt, conditions and pay for workers would upgrade dramatically. Wow.

But then also this: Many upscale brands understand that increasing consumerism is destroying the planet. They would like to opt out of that without going bankrupt.

Companies such as Patagonia, Eileen Fisher, REI (and more) manufacture expensive, well-made garments. They are experimenting with marketing to their customers that after a person no longer wants their item – they can easily return it for credit. The amount of the credit is determined by a go-between business where the garment is cleaned, mended, and then relisted at the manufacturer’s site as used. This system keeps clothing out of a landfill as well as returning future profits to the company. Patagonia is aiming to make this a significant part of their company’s profit.

That might have seemed a bit dry but this is my context.

Have you noticed people on social media saying how crappy 2021 was and how crappy 2022 will be? I will grant that anyone who lost a loved one this year has the right to call this an awful year. Likewise, to people who ended long relationships or their homes were devastated by disasters. Parents who took care of underfoot kids while working from home and medical caregivers can say anything they want.

But really? The rest of us get to say this past year was awful because it was hard to socialize? Because we couldn’t travel as much as our hearts desire? Because concerts and restaurants, churches, sports, and bars were iffy?

Just want to remind us that in this past year we were GIVEN life-saving vaccines. Do we understand that polio appeared in 1930 but the vaccine didn’t arrive until 1953? Back in “the good ole days” that pundits tell us were more wholesome than now - people waited 23 years for a vaccine.

We had to wait a year and half of us are still fussing about it.

This pandemic time is tough, yes. This is tougher for some than for others, yes. But let’s remember to claim what’s changing and true.


Like these moments.

He is respected worldwide.

He’s in prison.

I was out walking when I saw this. These are jeeps from the war in Afghanistan being returning to military bases. Peace on a flatcar.

We are getting clearer and stronger in our understanding of what assault is. A 14-, 15-, 16-, or 17-year-old girl or boy is a child. This is so different from the culture many of us grew up in where we were responsible for our own safety before we even knew what that meant.


This year I used my cellphone to record an arrest on my street. The video wasn’t needed because the arrest, though alarming, was reasonable.

This year I was mostly comfortable in my own body because Medicare paid for physical therapy.

Len had cutting edge surgery that saved his life.

We now both own Apple watches that can check oxygenation, A-Fib status, and heart rate any old time at all. (Can’t tell a heart attack or do blood pressure.) Pricey yes, but nothing compared to 17 days in two hospitals.

And just now I was about to drive to the liquor store to buy a bottle of wine and a six-pack of Lakefront IPA. I texted Len who texted back that he ordered these delights in the grocery order. I didn’t even know this was legal! (We show our DL at the pickup.)

What a world!



I did not realize it took so long to develop the vaccine. I knew a couple of girls who had been stricken, one my age and one 10 years older. The vaccine was a game changer! I don’t think the anti-fax crowd would want to wait 20 years for the Covid vases to be “ proven” would they?
Mary Beth's picture

I remember a teenager daughter of friends of my parents, who had been so damaged by polio that she died several years after she contracted it. I was a kid so people hushed when I walked into the room. but I knew a bad polio thing had happened. A friend of mine in my early years in Chicago limped because one of her legs had been in braces for year.

Perspective is a wonderful thing, and we need reminding of all that is good. For me, the change in leadership was huge. My spirit, needed that. Wishing you the very best in 2022. Health, peace, and laughter ( laughter is huge on my list!). Patricia

I cannot for the life of me remember who made that statement but it was powerful enough to stick with me all these years later. My husband and I are not wealthy by any means but I look around my house and I see that this is true. Thanks for pointing out the good and positive things that happened in 2021, in our nation and world and in your own personal life. We all have them but sometimes it takes a reminder to think back on the moments in the year and recognize these blessings.
Mary Beth's picture

Exactly. Our lives are not wealthy nor easy, but we have so much that is deep, good, preserving, and true.

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Rosemary Radford Ruether & The Fierce Poetry of Hope

5/23/2022 Rosemary Radford Ruether

 “Rosemary Radford Ruether, a founding mother of feminist theology, has died at age 85”


Rosemary Ruether taught at Garret Evangelical Theological Seminary while I was a student there in the late 1970’s. I only took one class from her but for me it was a doozy.

The Badlands


The Lakota call this land "mako sica" which translates into "badlands." They and many other wanderers and settlers named it this because it is so hard to travel through.

Wade in the Waters


This is a small announcement that could be a lot of fun for some of you.

For the past two years Len has been a volunteer Wisconsin stream monitor. Once per summer month Len and another guy (with whom he has become friends) check water quality and stream-bed life at a few local sites. Before they started, they received clear but uncomplicated training in order to understand what is being looked for and how the testing equipment works. And they received hip waders!

Who's in the Mirror? Representation Matters


Who’s in the Mirror? Representation Matters

Old story, I’ve probably mentioned it before: In 1977 I was visiting a friend in Ohio for a weekend. We went to her United Methodist Church on Sunday which is in itself amazing since we were two single 20-something women who had been out drinking the night before.

In just spring


We know what the “Signs of Spring” are, probably because we did so many "Signs of Spring" art projects in grammar school. We know what to notice. Green shoots. Birds singing. Kids playing outside with kites, jump ropes, and jacks.

Why do we celebrate Signs of Spring but not Signs of Winter? Hmmm? Maybe Winter ought to look into this and make a complaint?

Meantime, Karen K sent these photos. Look at these lovely pale-but-not-boring colors and hues.

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