Mary Beth Writes

Here’s something I bet many of you of the “white privilege” class are not aware.

I sure wasn’t thinking about this until yesterday.

Monday is April 15th. All of us know what that means, don’t we?  Ha-ha. Time to get our taxes posted or an extension applied for!

Know what else it is?

Utility cut-off date.  Monday is the last day for people who owe money to their utility companies to pay those bills. If they don’t, their heat and lights go off Tuesday.

It is so easy to criticize people who are this far behind until one has been one of these people. I have a friends in my life who have been here. Good friends. Responsible people. Hard workers.

All it takes is to live paycheck to paycheck with kids in the house - so you don’t live at 58-degrees - because you have those kids.  Or rent a “cheap” apartment with poor insulation, so you pay more than cozy people who live in better apartments.  Or lose a month or two to unemployment, get behind on your bills, and then when you get a new job you are already so behind, and it will take a half year to catch up.  Bounce some checks and pay a hundred or two hundred in NSF fees.  Take your kid to the doctor at an urgent care that is out of your network and get a $400 bill to get her ear checked for infection. Don’t have family who can help you out because they are strapped, too.

So many ways to get behind.

Our Brother is behind.  He has been working fulltime at his new job for less than two months. (He lost the job he had last fall when he was afraid to leave the house because cops were harassing him after he took in his young son, after his son’s mother committed suicide.) 

Our Brother and his partner are both working fulltime as well as together caring for their five kids. 

He called the utility company and he called St. Vincent for help. He owes a lot. The amount We Energies negotiated with him is also a lot. He gets paid today and a huge chunk of it is going to that amount. It will be more weeks of eating totally from the food pantries.  But he still doesn’t have enough to pay it all. 

I already know one gift coming in.

He needs $250. This is not a loan he will pay back to you. This is not a gift going through a designated source, so you won’t be able to claim it as a charity gift.  You can argue that helping to pay a poor family’s utilities is “enabling” them. If you want to say that, you might be right. But good luck with that society where only the already-secure can exist.  It seems to be happening around us and I hate it.

I can only promise you this. If you can give some money, I will ask him to sing a song or read a story to his kids for every gift that comes in.

I’m not counting noses. I am not running your money, your life, or your heart.  But if you think you can send a check to ME, made out to ME, let me know today. I am seeing him tomorrow so I will get out of my bank account tomorrow morning, whatever amount comes in. Next week I will deposit your checks to my account.

Send me an email at 

I will send my street address back to you.

Thank you.

Our Brother:


Powerful writing. You have such a big heart and encourage us to have one, too.

I totally agree with what Kathryn just said.

Anyone who is reading this, just keep crossing your fingers and holding us all in your hearts as Saturday the money gets collated into one payment to pay the bill - before the disconnection guys come to his house! Thanks again for your empathy, support, and encouragement.

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Less Lemming, More Living

Last week I posted an essay railing against our North American/western maniacal consumerism. We are so deep into climate crisis and into destabilizing world poverty caused by the oligarchy of the few.  Something has to give. Plus this: If we are living on $50,000 a year or more, we are already earth’s top 1%. Isn’t this nuts? It really is up to us to turn back this crazy lemmings’ march to the sea.

Mindful Chickens/ The "Before its Too Late" Edition 5-14-2019

Mindful Chickens   5/14/2019

Other people call them “frugal things I did lately”. I call them Mindful Chickens because they are about:

1. Being Cheap (cheap, cheep).

2. Being thoughtful about how choices affect our community and our earth.

3. Paying attention to the constant tumble of dollars and choices.

These are things we have thought, attempted, and done in the past month to live more lightly and frugally on our City Plot of Planet Earth.

We have to change how we live ...

We can’t go on like this.  Our everyday Western/American lifestyle -- is utterly unsustainable. 

Bread, Tortillas, and Chocolate

 As many of you know, I follow a website called The Non-Consumer Advocate, written by Katy Wolk-Stanley who defines herself as “… library patron, leftovers technician, Goodwill enthusiast, utility bill scholar, labor and delivery nurse, laundry hanger-upper, mother and citizen.” She has purchased very little newly-manufactured consumer goods since she joined The Compact; a movement of people who choose to rethink mindless consumption.

The Money for Our Brother is Raised

We got the balls rolling!

Irony of the universe here.  I have written a lot this week but none of it turned into writing I wanted to post on this website.  Just awkward, mawkish, rambly writing.

I was hard-thinking why I do this and it wasn’t self-pitying thinking.  (I know how to do that, too, but this wasn’t that.) 

Then late yesterday afternoon Helle said Our Brother needs help and the total of what he needs is more than she could support him with. I said I would think about it.

Mindful Chickens – Carrot & Grape Oatmeal 3/23/2019

Other people call them “frugal things I did lately”. I call them Mindful Chickens because they are about:

1. Being Cheap (cheap, cheep).

2. Being thoughtful about how choices affect our community and our earth.

3. Paying attention to the constant tumble of dollars and choices.


1. I’ve spent hours lately working on two self-inflicted writing projects. One is about the Midwest in the 1600-1800’s. Why do I care? I don’t know but I’ve been working at it for a long time and I still am.

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