Mary Beth Writes


 I remember where I was two years ago this afternoon. Do you?

I was writing. I knew I had another hour to just work by myself and I was happy about that. I love no interruptions.

Len was downstairs. I heard him turn on the TV. We NEVER watch TV during the day so it was weird when he called up to me, “You should come down here. Something’s happening.”

I did. I saw the noisy mob in front of and climbing up the Capitol. I didn’t understand what was happening as I stood there watching. Len explained what he was reading on Twitter. I slid around the end of the sofa and sat down, still thinking I should stop being distracted and go back to writing. What was I writing? I have no idea.

The magnitude of those images began to sink in.

Was our country under attack? Where was the military? Why was this happening and no one was stopping it? I couldn’t believe it. Did Trump know this was happening? Was he part of this?

Is this a coup? Do we even have coups here?

I simply didn’t believe what I was seeing. In the back of my mind was the etched-in-stone memory of 14-year-old me in the passenger seat of my brother’s car, going to the hospital to visit my dad who had had the heart attack the day before. Part of me wondered if my dad might die but the so-called logical part of my brain was like, “No, MB, that’s your crazy stupid imagination in overdrive again. Everything is going to be stay the same as it always is.”

That moment is so close to the surface that I could tell you what was outside the windshield of the car. Every once in a while, in crises, that windshield comes back and throws me under the bus of my own equanimity.


What have we learned since?

1. It really did happen. We really were under attack. This nation was and still is populated by an amazing amount of citizens who think being passionate about political opinions is license to be unruly and violent.

2. It really did happen. There were heroic people in the building that day saved us from even more and worse malevolence. My God, they had a noose in place for the VP.

3. I asked Len what he has realized since that day. He's still confounded that the infrastructure of Capitol security was that ineffective. Why weren’t there more guards? Why were they that disorganized? Was it ineffectual system? Was it because so much of that kind of government security ends up being run by patronage and political favors? Or was it intentional malevolence?

4. In the 1980’s I once, with 50 other people took over a senator’s office in the Federal Building in Chicago. The point was to get a phone call through to our Senator who was in DC. He took the call and then we left. No one so much as took a pencil off his desk. But I wouldn’t do it now. What happened to society and what happened in me?

5. I do not want to be compared to “good” Germans pre-WWII. We are not a reprise of another place and time. This is our situation and this is now and we should respond - and by the size of the vote in October, we did and still are.

Where were you that day? What do you think now?






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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.

Len Explains Fusion Energy

The photo is of Lisa Meitner. The BFF of one of our kids is (quite likely) a great grand niece of this amazing woman. 


MB: Len occasionally explains very complicated science things to me or our kids in such a way that we actually understand it. One of our kids asked him what the big deal was about fusion. Len wrote this and I thought some of you might like to read it.

Long live curious people and long live nerds. 


The Triad Bridge Doesn't Have Three Bridges. Hmmm...


Yesterday Christine J sent a photo of leaves encased in ice that she took close to Douglas, Massachusetts on the Southern New England Trunk Trail.

Today my cousin-in-law David, who is an AVID train enthusiast, sent me information about that trail. He sent about twice as much as I’m posting here, I condensed and edited it to this info about the Triad Bridges. Often I don’t read his explanations about train stuff very deeply, though Len does. But today this history caught my attention.

From Dave S:

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