Mary Beth Writes

Other people call them “frugal things I did lately”. I call them Mindful Chickens because they are about:

1. Being Cheap (cheap, cheep).

2. Being thoughtful about how choices affect our community and our earth.

3. Paying attention to the constant tumble of dollars and choices.


1. I’ve spent hours lately working on two self-inflicted writing projects. One is about the Midwest in the 1600-1800’s. Why do I care? I don’t know but I’ve been working at it for a long time and I still am.

The other is a long short story. (That's what one calls a classical oxymoron.) Might get it done. Might not.  It feels important to tell the character’s story even though that’s what she is –a fictional character.

Being frugal is a strategy to have enough time and resources to do the Work That Is Ours to Do.

Life is short. Yes, we have jobs and families, homes and communities. But there’s also the “This Is My Work” thing in most of us that NEEDS to knit a hat, write a poem, read to kids, make music, hike/bike half the day soaking up sunshine or rain and come back home feeling whole. 

When I worked with jail inmates, the ones who endured jail best and were the most successful at staying out once they got there … were guys who liked to cook, or make music, or work on engines, etc.  Those guys had internal resources for when life was rough and unjust or maybe too just.  

2. There’s a part in The Shipping News (by Annie Proulx, best writer ever…) where her main character Quoyle (I think it was him) is eating curried seal flipper pie. He bemuses, “I bet I am the only person on earth eating curried seal flipper pie tonight.”

I get like that about oatmeal. Most mornings I put 1/3 cup of old-fashioned oats in a bowl. Then add ½ to 1 cup of “additives” such as mushed sweet potato, baked squash, shredded or minced carrots, halved grapes, chopped rhubarb, as well as the more normal stuff like dried fruit, chopped nuts, berries. Then I add 2/3 cup water (or leftover juice) and microwave this slurry for 2-3 minutes. Take it out, add a half teaspoon of cinnamon, and eat my sliced apple sprinkled with turmeric (anti-inflammatory) while the oatmeal cools.

Oatmeal is like the sunniest kid on the playground who will play with just about anyone. Oatmeal LIKEs to be leftovers' friend. 

3. We’re going away for a few days to see the return-migrating Sandhill cranes in Nebraska.  We’ve called the motel as well as the tour to the river flats  - to make sure they are there in the midst of Nebraska's terrible flooding. They are.

Says the woman who went on vacation with her family to a resort in Florida and ended up in a hurricane.

4. I bought two thrifted multi-pocketed duffle bags. We have (old but viable) suitcases, but they are either too big or too small. For a very small cash outlay we will see how these bags work.

5. We’ve wanted to see the massive Sandhills migration flocks for years. It’s frugal to strongly want things one can probably get.

For the Great Wall of China and an African Safari, we watch documentaries from the sofa while drinking store brand seltzer water.

6. It’s 40 degrees out right now but very sunny. Our front porch, with its no-tech 1970’s windows, is so warm we have the front door open to let hot porch air come into the house. Solar power is amazing. All one has to do is find a south facing window and believe in it.


Guess I know what u’ve been doing today. Oatmeal and cranes. A few of my favorite things.

I’m in awe of Sandhill Cranes and look forward to hearing about it and seeing pix. The one above is gorgeous.

Len took the photo of the cranes I used. I think it was from around Waukesha - when we lived in Racine but he worked in Waukesha. And yes, he is bringing the camera and tripod with on this trip. Taking photos at special places is like walking in fresh cement - you know you were there.

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Less Lemming, More Living

Last week I posted an essay railing against our North American/western maniacal consumerism. We are so deep into climate crisis and into destabilizing world poverty caused by the oligarchy of the few.  Something has to give. Plus this: If we are living on $50,000 a year or more, we are already earth’s top 1%. Isn’t this nuts? It really is up to us to turn back this crazy lemmings’ march to the sea.

Mindful Chickens/ The "Before its Too Late" Edition 5-14-2019

Mindful Chickens   5/14/2019

Other people call them “frugal things I did lately”. I call them Mindful Chickens because they are about:

1. Being Cheap (cheap, cheep).

2. Being thoughtful about how choices affect our community and our earth.

3. Paying attention to the constant tumble of dollars and choices.

These are things we have thought, attempted, and done in the past month to live more lightly and frugally on our City Plot of Planet Earth.

We have to change how we live ...

We can’t go on like this.  Our everyday Western/American lifestyle -- is utterly unsustainable. 

Bread, Tortillas, and Chocolate

 As many of you know, I follow a website called The Non-Consumer Advocate, written by Katy Wolk-Stanley who defines herself as “… library patron, leftovers technician, Goodwill enthusiast, utility bill scholar, labor and delivery nurse, laundry hanger-upper, mother and citizen.” She has purchased very little newly-manufactured consumer goods since she joined The Compact; a movement of people who choose to rethink mindless consumption.

The Money for Our Brother is Raised

We got the balls rolling!

Irony of the universe here.  I have written a lot this week but none of it turned into writing I wanted to post on this website.  Just awkward, mawkish, rambly writing.

I was hard-thinking why I do this and it wasn’t self-pitying thinking.  (I know how to do that, too, but this wasn’t that.) 

Then late yesterday afternoon Helle said Our Brother needs help and the total of what he needs is more than she could support him with. I said I would think about it.

April 15th is a Rough Day for Many

Here’s something I bet many of you of the “white privilege” class are not aware.

I sure wasn’t thinking about this until yesterday.

Monday is April 15th. All of us know what that means, don’t we?  Ha-ha. Time to get our taxes posted or an extension applied for!

Know what else it is?

Utility cut-off date.  Monday is the last day for people who owe money to their utility companies to pay those bills. If they don’t, their heat and lights go off Tuesday.

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