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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Hot Weather Diary #3


Today was another hot one and right now, it’s still 93 degrees in my backyard.

Hot Weather Diary #2


“Time wasted at a lake is time well spent.”  (I tried to learn who wrote this; it seems to have arisen spontaneously on a Pinterest plaque for your cabin.)

There is an argument that civilization started on the banks of rivers, the oceans, and along the shores of the hundreds and thousands of lakes on our earth. Waterfront is where people and animals gather to drink, eat, cool off, and watch the youngsters while they play. Also, it’s where adults gather to chat, fish, breathe in beauty, and sometimes swim far out there where joints don’t ache and its quiet.

Hot Weather Diary #1


We all knew it was coming and here it is. A Hot Week! We are in the news! We are important! Humans around the nation, especially in the East and Midwest, will be living through a week with temps in the 80’s, 90’s and worse.

What the Dickens?

The photo is from Barnados, a childrens charity in London in the 19th century. 


Argh! I have a new phone because the old one stopped staying charged plus a few more foibles. My phone cost $400 five years ago so it makes sense that it stopped working reliably, right? If an appliance worked like this we would burn that manufacturer to the ground.

Swan Story


I’ve been reading a lot of other people’s writing lately and I have decided there is too much to read. Much of it is very good but there is JUST TOO MUCH!

So my goal going forward is to write shorter posts, more often, that might remind you of the glory, power, and goofiness of your life as well as mine.

So, let me say again what’s always very true. Thank you for reading what I write.


About My Memorial Day Story


Today my story ‘Memorial Day’ is posted at Substack. Read it here. 

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