Mary Beth Writes


Covid Quarantine started March 13, 2020. I started a Covid Diary that very day. I wrote almost daily for several months, until we all realized this was not going to end soon.

This is from Day #1: “I’m looking forward to a week or two at home writing, reading, and sorting things out.” (Read that first diary here.)  We thought Covid would affect us for a week or two? !!! 

Writing so much so often was a lot of work and also stress release for me. I was able to say, and many of you did, too, what we were seeing and experiencing.

Those first few weeks were weird. When I’d go for walks there was so little traffic I seldom had to wait at corners. No one was coming. The world was quiet.

Today is the first day we are officially out of the worldwide Covid emergency. This is a worthy moment to acknowledge what we have come through, people we’ve lost, lives that have profoundly changed due to long covid.

These last three years have affected and changed all of us. I’m less social now. I experienced how much more centered I feel when I’m not responding to people too many times in a week. There are a lot of jokes about introverts who went into lockdown and never came out.

We order groceries more often, mostly because it's more convenient and now we know that. We wear masks without thinking much about it, have them stashed by the door, in our pockets, in the car. Nose tests aren't fun but they are also not the worst thing (they looked like it in the beginning!).  

Does it feel as if the world became meaner? Whatever was holding angry-fragile people together before is not holding them now. Are we just more aware of the violence, discourtesy, and dysfunction around us because we spend so much time on social media? Is there more awfulness going on or are we just more aware because people are photographing it with their phones and then sharing it?

In honor of the official end of this Covid Diary – I’m transitioning to a new diary called Grownups Noticing Their Lives.

I’m going to continue the Alphabet Soup of essays. I have some more M is for Mother columns to post. Next week we will move to O and since no one suggested a topic I’m thinking about it. P will be Procrastination. I’m skilled at procrastination.

But Grownups Noticing Their Lives begins right here, right now.

Last night: I was sound asleep when suddenly the rocking chair in the corner of the pitch-black room started creaking and rocking.

Woke up immediately, heart racing.

It was Dawn Cat who apparently thought 3AM was a good time to try the chair she’s never tried before. She scrambled, she thumped, chair rocked, she meowed, and then she jumped down and left the room. I fell back asleep about an hour later. 

This morning I was sitting on the edge of the bed getting dressed. Gordon Lightfoot was singing “If you could read my mind, love / What a tale my thoughts could tell / Just like an old-time movie / ‘Bout a ghost …” And right exactly then Dawn, who was not even in the room when the song began, bumped my back and I about jumped out of my socks.

I have seen death by terror twice already today. How’s your day going?






Leonard's picture

I feel like we've survived the last two years like a squirrel that shot through a storm culvert and came out on the other side of the street. Just standing here, looking at ourselves, counting fingers and toes, amazed that we're still intact and also looking around an unfamiliar neighborhood. It's different now. We've lost some things, gained some skills at handwashing, masking and measuring drops in the covid tests. When we look at ourselves and see what's still intact (we're still old, after all), we count education as one of the things that got us through. I know what an airborne aerosol is, and I also know not to take the same worm medicine we used to give the dog. And, in this grownup's case, it worked. We are on the side, lucky to be alive, and anxious to use that experience to make the new neighborhood a better place.

I’m using the Headspace app more lately to better manage my pandemic-induced anxiety, especially now that most people seem to be done with masking, testing, awareness of those around them with lingering Covid fear and/or lower immunity. Hopefully, the skills and habits many people have acquired over the past 3 years - more hand washing, more time outdoors, more time learning something new like a language or an instrument, more time on hobbies and passions - will remain with us as a society. At the same time, yes, the world feels meaner, less tolerant, more dysfunctional, and we can only pray (with our feet and actions)/ hope/ VOTE that somehow things take a turn for the better with lots of little individual actions - the Sea Star Story. Mary Beth, thank you for writing and sharing. Stay safe and healthy, all!
Mary Beth's picture

Masking seems pretty ordinary. Sometimes I don't wear it (when I'm eating!) but then I remember I AM in a high-risk group (age!) and I don't need to fend off any illness I can avoid with a mask and clean hands.

I had Covid before it was Covid and literally thought that I was dyeing (My nieghbor RIP Willie (Late 50's,Heart condition, asthma, COPD,Diabetes,and High Blood Pressure..) did.. I met someone online and corresponded, talked on the phone and Zoomed, finally dated in person for over a year and broke up.. Got a Therapist (Highly recommend it).. Didn't see my kid sister longer than I care to remember because she was on the front lines dealing with the sick and dying.. I've been vaccinated, and boostered.. Got Covid for the second time while in Florida in February, a slight headache and a sore throat, nothing more.. quarantined in a large room with an outdoor patio for sunbathing overlooking the pool, with people sending me drinks and food when needed, and more nasal test and I care to remember.. Much different than the first time around And I came out of the other side not too bad off.. I don't let it dominate my life, but I do keep an eye on what's still going on with it.. I have resumed living my life and dating as I see fit.. It's just another chapter in this book called life.. P.S. How about O for Optimism Mary Beth, it seems appropriate to me after all of this mess..
Mary Beth's picture

Optimism. Hmmm. Remember Pastor Carly and "I'm not optimistic but I have hope..."

Yep!! I do.. I choose to be optimistically hopeful or is it hopefully optimistic.. Either way works for me.. My Acupuncturist has made mask wearing optional as of last week.. When Linda told me that I said, "I will continue to wear the mask because I'm in a room with people who I don't know, who may have been exposed at some time that I'm not aware of, so why not keep it on.." She's still wearing her's as well.. Then her next client came in without a mask and was coughing multiple times.. Better safe than sorry ;)

In the middle of all the horrible stuff that happened during The Covid Pandemic, I can say there were two things happening on the positive side, one to society and one to me personally. The positive impact to society I believe is that a lot of us became acquainted with the outdoors in a way we hadn't before. There was no choice if we wanted to spend time with family and friends. During that time, few friends and I started a Sunday afternoon walking group and hiked the nearby wooded trails and parks for a couple of hours each week. Another couple we are friendly with invited us over monthly for a campfire, outdoor meal and drinks and we kept it up through two winters, switching off hosting every other month. We live in Massachusetts so there were a few challenging winter nights! We did it though. The second thing that was a positive one was that Covid and the resulting social isolation made me realize being by myself was not a bad thing and at age 61 I finally realized how much I love "alone time". I like my own company. I have since cut back on activities that have little meaning to me and am more focused on activities that focus on lifting others up, mostly at church though I am no Mother Theresa! Being in the house with my husband too made me happily realize just how compatible we are. I love his company, too! Just a couple of positives amid all the horror of losing people and watching the struggles around us, a lot of which was happening to the first responders.
Mary Beth's picture

Yes to both of these. Will I we ever forget the Christmas Eve service held outside on the parking lot, with a firepit going, while the temp was zero with a worse windchill? or the thanksgiving with grandkids that started with flying kites on a freezing blustery day and for a second, our little granddaughter was lifted off the ground!

After you loose a spouse, your social world gets pretty small, interestingly nobody seems to know how to handle ones widowhood.Although, I have always been comfortable spending time alone (thank goodness) I recognized that I needed to create a new social network. I joined a knitting group, and book club and spend delightful time listening and talking to a wide group of women. It was so helpful, and enjoyable. Then....COVID. All that ended overnight ( didn't take to the zoom meetings, at all). I mask in all public places and remain cautious, although I have relaxed some. Last December, I hosted a ladies happy hour of 21 and tested positive for COVID, 7 days later. I was sick for about 5 days ( bad flu like symptoms) but continued to test positive throughout the holidays. I credit the vaccine for it being a manageable case. I look around me and wonder about my neighborhood, my city, my country. Our family remains pretty isolated as we have several members that have serious preexisting conditions and most people around us no longer wear masks. Although, I have witness incredible kindness, I agree that the world seems meaner. We do the best that we can, with what we have. Some days are better than others. Thank you, Mary Beth. Patricia
Mary Beth's picture

"Although, I have witness incredible kindness, I agree that the world seems meaner." Last week Len lost his bike pass (for riding state bike paths). He applied for a replacement - and before it arrived his old pass appeared, mailed to him anonymously by someone who found it. There is so much everyday kindness that holds us together like kids in a hammock, I guess.

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A-Z P is for Procrastination


Procrastination. Or how the American Revolution was won. 

"You can lead a horse to water but you can't grant him the serenity to accept the things he cannot change.” (Tweet by Bob Golen) 

P is the next letter to write about in this project to write an essay for every letter of the alphabet. Someone suggested Procrastination.

Guess what? I’ve been putting it off.


GNTL - So Many Words!


Grownups Noticing Their Lives - Words!

The month of May might have been above my paygrade. I contributed to a weeks-long writing project in our congregation. I met friends more often than usual to talk and catch up. Two grandkids came for a sleepover last week. Our daughter and her little dog spent last Friday with us. Saturday another grandkid slept over.

GNTL - Kathryn's Garden


Grownups Noticing Their Lives - Kathryn’s Garden

My friend Kathryn sent some beautiful photos of her garden to me this morning, I asked if I could post them here and she said yes. 

Some of you know Kathryn Rouse so you know this is not a garden-come-lately. She’s been building and growing her garden since, I think, the late 1970’s. The bunny in a hurry is a Bill Reid sculpture.

I think Kathryn's photos are the right frame for the poem.

A-Z Observation

5/24/2023   O is for Observation

Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) was a pre-telescope Danish astronomer who looked at the sky more precisely than anyone before him had done. He was obsessively careful about measuring what he saw and he studied the sky every night he could. To accomplish what he wanted he reinvented and fine-tuned the sky-gauging tools of his era – sextant and quadrant.

You may have seen these tools in paintings of old-time sailors. They would hold them up to their face, look at the stars, figure out where they were in the world.

GNTL - Squirrels & Gardens & the Sonoran Desert


Grownups Noticing Their Lives

My garden thrives in ignominy.

Yesterday I posted some frugal things I’ve done lately at the Non-Consumer Advocate website. I do this because the kinds of people who try to be frugal are often (not always) people who I wish would come over here and read my website, too. I don’t write too much about frugal strategies but I write lot about values. We are in the same Venn diagram, right?

GNTL - Walk, Mounds, Spirit

Grownups Noticing Their Lives


The local TV weather folks talked about ‘a pneumonia front’ for two days. I’d never heard the term before but we all know temps can change fast, right? It’s more generally called life on planet earth. Keep a jacket handy if you can.

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