Mary Beth Writes


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?

One of the things I mentioned was how I am (so far) defending seedlings from squirrels. Another reader asked if I could post a photo - so that’s what this is. Hi, Ashley Bananas, if you are here.

 This is my “elegant” solution. Deconstructed election signs and ripped flimsy plastic bags. No squirrels or birds have bothered the seedlings yet. Of course, when the plants are big enough to transplant, I will put them in the garden and I predict my tiny nemeses will dive in. I only planted herb seeds left from last year. Plus some morning glories because I always plant them - and always get about two flowers in September. Sigh. A girl can yearn.

I am amazed at the amounts some Frugality Bloggers spend on their gardens. These are figures I saw lately - $3000 and $6000.

I’m not here to get bendy about other peoples’ choices. Some of the best friends of my life have exquisite gardens that, for sure, didn’t just fall off a truck. Those are choices they made about how they want to spend their time and resources in their fleeting mortal lives. It’s rather romantic, actually.

What bugs me is that the above figures come from people who purport to show the rest of us how to be frugal and self-sufficient.

Gah. I’m not buying it.

This is my observation. Things want to grow. If we humans plant nothing, the ground doesn’t stay bare. Something will always grow and if we pay attention – a lot of it is edible. Dandelions and purslane come to mind, as long as they weren’t sprayed with chemicals.

Len and I visited Casa Grande Ruins in Arizona a few years ago; it’s in the extremely arid Sonoran Desert. Go there if you get a chance. It’s where several thousand people lived who were the ancestors of O'Odham, Hopi, and Zuni people – and those people lived well. They figured out how to dig hundreds of miles of irrigation ditches down from the mountains to grow corn, beans, and squash. They also ate 200-400 other locally sourced veggies, fruits, and game.

We modern gardeners are descended from two questions.

1. How do I wrestle this ground that belongs to me into a garden that suits my idea of what ought to grow here?

2. What’s going on here? How can I find beauty and nourishment in this place?

I want a garden, not a colonial empire.                                                                                           

I went to Goodwill this week and found several treasures, including these packs of seeds all for $2. Most of them have 2005 expiration dates. We are curious, aren’t we?

 This pack (below) is my favorite. The seeds are red snapdragons, the pack is written in Polish and were purchased at Polish Hardware, Inc in Chicago. I bet someone’s grandma died and I bet Len’s grandmothers knew her.



Ha! I love the Polish snapdragon seeds! I had to chuckle when I saw them...have you translated the instructions yet? I work at a Polish deli...I am not Polish... and the owners who are from Poland occasionally give me Polish food to take home. A recent gift included some packets of barley soup mix with the cooking instructions all in Polish. I found an online site to translate them and the soup turned out great. I saw your post over at the NCA. It's fun and interesting to read your words in both places. I've been following you for quite awhile now but can't remember where I first came across your blog. I'm glad I did.

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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 - 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.

M is for Various Mom Memories

If you haven’t read yesterday’s comments, go back to read some wonderful memories of peoples’ aunts and “aunts”.

My morning's been packed. Before it was even 8:00 we played facetime dollhouse with our 6-year-old grandkid. She laughed extremely hard at the wedding of wee Kristoff (the Frozen story) to a new clothespin doll from Goodwill, because the groomsman kept standing on the cupcake table. No one could get the groomsman to straighten out so a collie had to run over and bite him.

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