Mary Beth Writes

It’s time for me to end this Quarantine Diary. This has been a place to sort what we were hearing and seeing. So many, including the former president and his minions, said Covid would not be a big deal. Medical and science experts said otherwise.

Show us Trump and Fauci standing next to each other? That wasn’t a hard choice. We went with science.  

So, like you, Len and I mostly stayed home. We ‘ordered and picked-up’ what we needed – groceries, wine and IPA’s, library books, some cats. We went outside almost every day to walk, ride bikes, or find new places to hike.

And I wrote. Wrote for you. Wrote a sermon. Wrote emails to friends. Started many stories and novels that I didn’t finish. We watched a lot of news and quite a few streaming movies and documentaries and series.

Then …

Since the end of January, Len and I received our vaccinations. We did the road trip to Copper Falls. We visited our kids in Chicago last weekend. We hugged our grandkids. My 4-year-old granddaughter hugged me back so hard that yup, I cried a little. It was a powerful moment.

We will still be careful, wear masks, not hang out in crowds. We will take Vitamin D, eat our veggies, and get whatever medical and dental care we are due to get.

We’re back. The edges have changed from Mondrian’s black lines to Monet’s impressionist drifting boundaries.


But we are back. We expect change and challenges, but we are back.

Insights from this year?

The obvious one: Politics matter. We have lived through the difference it makes when people in power scam for themselves or work for others.

“I can’t breathe.” The racism and sexism in our nation are toxic and dangerous. We heard and watched cops storm into Breonna Taylor and Anjanette Young’s home. If 95 out of 100 cops are reasonable but they don’t get rid of the five toxic cops, what is that other than institutional corruption? What do we call a family where one person in that family can be abusive part of the time, and everyone just goes along with that?

This pandemic is not a USA problem that will go away when all Americans are vaccinated. We know this, right? It will slow down, and we will be safer, but this disease is our mandate and challenge to think globally.

Every expert can tie this disease into global climate change. Creatures are searching for the temperature range they need to be safe and for enough space to hunt and feed and then come safely back home. Squeezing wildlife into narrower wildernesses means diseases will thrive and mutate.

Closer to home observations?

I’ve read a lot, but even at that – wow – my attention span is not what it was previous to my iPhone.

That garden I grew last year was okay. I got a lot of tomatoes, although the squirrels got even more. Once again, I realized I like to garden but it is not my avocation. I will plant some things again this year, but I don’t have big dreams. I realize now that I come from generations upon generations of farmers who, first chance they got, learned another job.

Until quarantine, I didn’t have to do much to have adventures. Have a job, have a family, live in a complicated community, have some friends. Life just comes to the door. This past year provided enough emptiness that I got to understand, in a deep way, that memories come from energy. If I want that pleasant burn of well used muscles, or to recall way the light splashed into the woods, or taste something spicy, I needed to get out of bed and off the sofa. Nothing dramatic has happened, but in a visceral way, this year felt more 'mine' than any year I can remember since I was a teenager living at home with my mom. It wasn’t always happy, but it was mine.

Peace to all those who lost loved ones and lost economic stability.

What did you learn this year?







I learned that I like and am happy with myself. Never really thought about it but, I am an introvert. I also learned that I missed my family - the hugs and the spontaneous act of being together. When this started - glad we didn’t know it would take a year to get a tiny bit back to normal. Today is our 2 weeks after our 2nd vaccine. Tomorrow, I am spending the day with my Mom. I am blessed. The picture of you and Grace hugging is the best. It brought tears to my eyes when you sent it.
Mary Beth's picture

Thanks. Introverts are not anti-social - they just need a lot of down time to process their thoughts and hopes.

Last summer an out of work neighbor received a boxes of food through one of the government programs, sometimes she got extra from a friend. My neighbor has a restricted diet so...I was tasked with seeing that none of the excess went to waste. A few phone calls and some deliveries and it was done. A friend remembered my neighbor’s kindness and gave her a lovely “ happy new year happy”. My neighbor was overjoyed. She again gifted me with more food to deliver! It goes around and around! We live in the country and many people are supportive of each other. Not everyone, but many. I help out with a FEMA supported food distribution program and now, some church members are baking cookies and muffins to add to the food sacks! I have tried to teach my children and live by the Golden Rule. It seems to be working in rural Vermont!
Mary Beth's picture

Food and neighbors helping each other out. There's a normal we can salute.

What will we, your readers, do without these tasty and thought provoking pieces from you? Will you send out other thoughts?
Mary Beth's picture

I will keep writing, of course. I just won't sit down with the question "How is the quarantine affecting me and affecting us today?" I will sit down with, "I wonder what I have to say and what readers would like to read. Hmmm." Which means, if you notice events you'd like all of us to think about - send them along and if I have anything to say, I will say it.

Thank You, Mary Beth, for all of these entries, and your perspective on this very unusual, traumatizing, and enlightening time we've all been through. I don't feel that I will ever "get back to normal" after such a period. Everything every thought, and action seemed to need to be readjusted and realigned to a new reality. Things will always look and feel different, hopefully with a fresh appreciation for the important things. You pointed out a lot of those important things, and I am grateful.
Mary Beth's picture

See, right there. That is a very good observation. What was normal and what normal would we like to experience next? So many times I've read, all of us have read, "If we go back to the way things were, that's failure. Things were not okay."

I really appreciated hearing your thoughts during this time, and will continue to enjoy and think about things you bring to our attention. What a WONDERFUL photo!
Mary Beth's picture

Thank you. And yeah, that photo grabs me, too. My daughter sent it to me that evening when we were back home. When she ran to me I dropped my phone on the grass to fully pick her up. I knew this year was hard on us, but it was hard for our little ones, too.

Thank you Mary Beth. I hope to soon hug my grandson like you did yours (it's 4:00 am and tears are streaming, at the thought. I can feel your joy!), it's been a long 14 months. Just got my first dose. I believe things will be very different, just not sure how. Can't seem to put my finger on this feeling. Perhaps off balance is the way to describe it. I have spent the last year creating...nothing big or great but creating none the less. I knitted, hand sewed, learned to make jam, embroidered, wrote. I grieved, I yearned, and I hoped. I still do. Thank you for being a safe place to visit, and ponder. Patricia/FL
Mary Beth's picture

Off balance is a good way to say it. I know what you mean. Here we are - but so aware the rug could get pulled out from beneath our feet again. It was a year where we "kept busy" because it was the only safe way forward.

It's been great checking in with your thoughts as I have time & energy, Mary Beth. I've liked getting to know more of your ins & outs/daily life. And more about Len. :) I've learned so much it's hard to know where to start. I've connected with more people in different ways; ironic, I suppose. I've started delivering food to those who can't pick it up and that's something I'm going to keep doing no matter what. I've rested and resisted. I've donated a lot of money. LOL And I've caught the gardening bug, for sure! Time will tell if I stick with it once life moves forward yet again.
Mary Beth's picture

The year hung heavy on those of us who have actual pumping hearts. Giving money and time was generous and laudable, of course. But it was also oxygen to get through so much mindlessness and cruelty. And the BLM movement, stronger than ever, pumped oxygen into the nation. We owe them and we are them.

I want to this of these days as less of "we're back" in hopes that maybe we aren't back to how it was before, rather that we've turned a corner on a new part of the journey. Our insights, what we've learned along the way during the past year, have helped us shape new ways of looking at life and the preciousness of each day. I'm not back because I never went away!
Mary Beth's picture


I received my second shot of the vaccine on Sunday the 3/28/21... As a self professed germaphobe I have changed very little in my life, the mask is a no brainer but not much else has changed, so back to *Normal* is no big deal... Dealing with a new relationship during a pandemic was new and interesting, but not having been in one for eleven years I had no idea how one went about having one even Pre-Covid... When we finally decided to meet in person all the covid protocol and social distancing went right out the window...Less TV more book reading is the biggest change...

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New Mexico & Power in the Dollhouse

Yesterday Dr. Angel Fairy "healed" dollhouse beings with cupcakes sprinkles.


This afternoon is sunny and 70 degrees. I guess this is why we are leaving here to go somewhere else? Oh, the irony of leaving the Midwest in May.

We are leaving in the next few days for a road trip to New Mexico. The theme of this vacation will be (da-dum, da-dum) “Destination Today.” Which says we learned some things two years ago when we drove and drove and drove to eastern Canada. And then drove and drove and drove coming back. Too much driving, not enough stopping.

Relief, Lauren Hough, April Snowstorm

Are we feeling the relief? Relief that we can see George Floyd’s face, his profile, that awful image of him under Chauvin’s knee – and feel some accountable closure to such a brazen murder?

I guess at least now, if one is a person of color and an officer kills you, I suppose they can kill you for a minute and still expect to get away with it but nine minutes is too long. Yes, that’s a cynical thing to say. We knew cops were entitled, but it's only in the past few years – because of cellphones – we have seen this entitled violence play out before our eyes.

Dancing Lessons & What’s Next on Your List?

“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.

A Wonderful Photo, Brownies, Voting Rights, Kids & their Books

These are things I thought about this week:

1. I am a person who has to use self-discipline to not bake cookies and desserts ALL THE TIME. I can go from “Hmm, brownies would be tasty” to made-from-scratch brownies in my mouth a half hour later.

Every strength - is also a weakness - is also a strength.

Here’s my brownie recipe from a Lutheran cookbook I impulse bought at McDonald’s Bakery in my hometown in the middle 1980’s when we were visiting my mom. I made these so often the cookbook fell apart at this recipe, so I threw the rest of the book away and just kept this.

Your Favorite Poster’s Post-Easter Post

I don’t often share my physical challenges with you, but today, Friends, I have suffered. I own three barrettes and I cannot find any of them and my hair has been slip-sliding into my eyes all day.

Why is it the littlest stuff that trips us up?

I could buy more barrettes and perhaps someday I will. Though I have learned this tricky lesson in my life - the more one owns of a small item, the more likely it is one will not keep track of that thing and it will become utterly lost.


MB's "Twilight Bark"

Today I am writing what I could most accurately describe as a Twilight Bark. As in, one dog barking a heartfelt warning to many other dogs. (Do NOT miss this Twilight Bark clip from YouTube.) 

On Friday Len went for his annual checkup. While there, he received a pneumonia vaccine, because after all the hoopla about the covid vaccines, the pneumonia shot is no big deal, right?

Len started feeling lousy that very afternoon and he still felt awful on Saturday. So we didn’t go to Chicago to visit our kids and grands. 

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