Mary Beth Writes

“Unexpected travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.” Kurt Vonnegut

Yesterday I got a text at 5AM from one of our kids. “Mom, are you awake?”

Heart stops.

Heart starts again.

Nancy Drew (her cat) was sick. Nancy had been stumbling, rolling to her side, couldn’t walk, tried to jump up to our daughter’s bed and fell. Daughter took Nancy to a 24/7 emergency vet clinic.

Obviously, she had already done the only thing there was to do. Get to a vet.

Daughter was almost back home, sans cat, when she called. The three of us worried together and then Len and I fell back asleep. Two hours later we realized it might be a good idea to get a crate big enough to put Nancy in when she would come home from the vet. Keep her from jumping and falling. Keep Frank (the other cat) from bothering her.

So yesterday we drove first to Madison to borrow a dog crate from our son and daughter-in-law. Son had had enough time to make a cherry custard pie for us. (He was also boiling a deer skull in his garage for a friend who wanted it for whatever unfathomable reasons men want deer skulls.) My son is a true Wisconsin Renaissance man.

Next, we drove from Madison to Chicago to deliver the crate. Then we sat around a few hours watching the cats, watching Nancy Drew looking much better and not stumbling at all. We ate pie. We talked. 

Len and I got home around 8:00 last night. Nancy Drew is doing well and has an appointment to see her regular vet this afternoon.

Our other Chicago daughter called this morning. The nanny can’t come to their house tomorrow and daughter has some important work meetings.

“Umm?”

Absolutely. We can drive two hours to watch our grand-kiddos. It will be a lot of energy and a LOT of fun.

Daughter called back a few hours later. Things got rearranged and we are no longer needed.

Won’t miss getting up before 5. Will miss playing with the kids.

I read these tweets this morning:

“It took me a long, long time to realize that I should not try to build my schedule based on what I could accomplish in crisis mode.” @MaryRobinette

“My therapist told me that if I had to perform ‘at my best’ all the time, then it wouldn’t be my best, it’d be my norm.” @yeseniaa

When I was 16 my sister told me this. “If someone asks you to do something and it isn’t illegal or immoral, say yes. That’s how to have adventures.”

Most of us have learned how to say no to plenty of things. I say no to getting my hair professionally managed. I say no to many lovely and/or important opportunities in my congregation and community. I say no to social invitations I know I would enjoy because I want to spend my energy on personal projects. I have enough time to do more things, but not enough focus. You know?

But family is different. When they ask (they don’t ask very often) we say yes.

Maybe the way to have adventures is to say yes? The way to love and belong to your family is to say yes? The way to know who you consider family and who are just the people you are related to is to observe who you say yes to and who you don’t? The way to have a rich interior life is to say yes to oneself?

I think it’s curious what we say yes to. Dancing lessons from God. 

Comments

Leonard's picture

Try what's on your plate. You might find that it's not so bad, after all.

Love this one! It’s so “that’s how life is”. Cherry custard pie made my mouth water. Glad Nancy Drew is better.

One of the VERY BEST!! One of those 'bingo!' moments!! thank you. xxx's
Mary Beth's picture

Thanks for your comment. I really appreciate knowing when something touches "home."

Amen to all of this!!!!

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Three Things / Story, Eclipse, Brando

1. I scheduled my Substack story to go out at 8AM this morning. I just looked to see why it didn’t show up and it says it is going to be sent at 8:49 tonight. I’m going to leave it like that. Maybe 9PM on a weekend night is a good time to send short fiction. Let me know if you have an opinion.

2. I read this quote by Marlon Brando who said this early in his career. “I’m not afraid of anything and I don’t love money.”

Even though this is probably not exactly true of me and you, I do love the bravado.

Peace Like a River / Book Report

4/3/2024 She Writes

I just finished reading Peace Like a River by Leif Enger and I am going to talk about it for a little bit before I forget how profoundly interesting and evocative this book was and is, at least to me.

I get emails from Boswell Bookstore (2559 N Downer Ave in Milwaukee). They host artist events pretty often and Monday evening, April 15th Len and I will be there for the Author Evening with Leif Enger. You can look up more of the details if you are interested. (Tickets are free but you need to reserve them.)

My Grandkids & 'Wandering Stars'

4/1/2024

The past month has been jam-packed. The week in Mineral Point. Len’s two-day seminar in Chicago. Last week we had various grandkids here for three overnighters and yesterday our family came to Easter dinner here in our house which was clean after a week with grandkid overnighters so you know that was a piece of cake. Len smoked two hams (yes, hard to keep them lit) and I made the largest amounts of from-scratch scalloped potatoes plus macaroni and cheese that I have ever made. As in, I grated four pounds of cheese Saturday afternoon. “On Wisconsin.”

Ghost on a Post / Poetry with Third Graders

3/12/2024

This is what I texted to Len this afternoon after I finished the poetry class with third graders. “I’m done and back. The kids were great and I’m a limp washrag, Teaching forty 8-year-olds for 90 minutes is way more energy than Everest.” I then drank half a beer (I NEVER drink in the afternoon) and fell asleep until the Mineral Point afternoon ‘change of shift siren’ shrieked for several minutes. It’s been a full day.

How 2 Write a Poem (3rd grade edition)

3/7/2024

Next week is my Writers Week at Shake Rag Alley in Mineral Point, WI. I won this when my story “How Crow Got Out of Jail” (Read Here) won first prize in the 2023 Wisconsin Writers Association Jade Ring contest for short fiction.

Winning that contest motivated me to open my Substack account. So far I’ve published 17 stories and only published once twice. (Who noticed that?)

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