Mary Beth Writes

This is how far we drove going to and coming back from New Mexico.

  • Home to Keokuk, Iowa – 309 Miles
  • Keokuk to Oklahoma City – 580 Miles
  • OK City to Santa Fe, NM – 534 Miles
  • Santa Fe to Alamogordo, NM – 218 Miles
  • Alamogordo to Dalhart, TX – 375 Miles
  • Dalhart, TX – Topeka, KS – 466 Miles
  • Topeka – Home – 614 Miles

Which is the backstory of three fables I have written.  We were usually driving 60 MPH on 2-lane highways because that’s how we roll. We drove through grasslands and deserts and on long straight highways bordered by windmills, cows, and grain elevators. We never got bored of flat topography, blue mesas, endless sky. There was time to imagine.

It felt as though the plants and land and clouds and dry desert scents had their own stories to tell. So even though none of this makes tit-for-tat sense, here is my first fable. There will be one tomorrow and Sunday, too.  Hope you like them.

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Ocotillo is a desert cactus with tall green stems. Other names for this plant that I have heard or read are slim wood and candlewood. Ocotillo cactuses are common in the Sonoran and Chihuahua deserts of southern Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, and California, as well as in northern Mexico.

Ocotillo is more closely related to tea and blueberries than to cactuses! For much of the year, the plant looks like a desiccated collection of spiny dead sticks. Then, with rainfall the barren stems of become plump with moisture, leaves appear, and bright crimson flowers bloom. The plant may grow to a height of 30 feet. The flowers are pollinated by hummingbirds and native carpenter bees.

The word Ocotillo is an Americanism of a Mexican-Spanish word related to ocote - the Nahuatl word for pine. Ocotillo is four cultures in one word.

Tilly was a plain child in a beautiful and popular family. All her siblings were a little taller and had more lustrous hair and quicker smiles. They earned high-B averages in school and were far more successful on sports teams than Tilly.

Sometimes people would sigh at her.

“Tilly, did you just trip over the cat again? Stop reading while you walk.”

“No, Tilly, you cannot wear red pants and a red dress, with red shoes and red socks all at once. You look like a fire hydrant.”

“Why are always you so quiet? Speak up! Where is your homework? Why did you hand in a report on desert plants when the assignment was Modern Inventions of Modern America?

When Tilly became an adult she took a job as a caregiver and she was very good at this. The people she worked for had challenges or illnesses or were frail so they were not in need of tall people who knew jokes and could ski competitively. Because their lives were somewhat limited, Tilly could help make it bigger. All her clients thought she was wonderful.

Being appreciated made her more confident about herself. She began to laugh more. She had good ideas to make people lives more satisfying, such as she often made cookies with her clients, which made everyone slightly chubbier and a great deal happier.

One day an older lady asked Tilly to help her sort out her jewelry and hair things collected over her whole life.

“Tilly, I’m not going to live another 87 years. Could I give you some of these things?”

She gave Tilly some chipped fake garnet rings and red sequined necklaces and small ruby-looking barrettes and Tilly laughed as she put them all on over her mousy brown hair and pale green scrubs.

Right then the woman’s young grandson walked in the front door. He stopped, his mouth agape at the beautiful woman with fluffy hair and eyes that sparked like raindrops and bits of red flashing all over her.

Just about everyone is waiting to bloom.

 

Comments

Ohhhh. I like this! Love the punchline “just about everyone is waiting to bloom”.

OH! Yes! Patricia

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A-Z Barbara

Barbara 1/26/2023

A-Z means I’m writing short takes on random topics and I’m going in alphabetical order. I love this quote: “Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible.”

That’s the spirit I’m pursuing: Undisciplined, irreverent, and original.

A-Z, Alaska

1/25/2023 

I’ve never been to Alaska. I’m sure I’d love it but going there is not a big dream for either Len or me.

However, this. When our son was around 12 he developed a crush on all things Alaskan. Kid who lives in a ranch house on a Midwestern cul-de-sac wants to get lost in tundra and mountains with moose and wolves. Yup.

At first he just talked, dreamed, read books, and watched shows about Alaska. Then, at 14 he got a part-time job as a janitor at a vet clinic and he kept that job until he went to college. It was a good fit for a kid not drawn to homework.

A to Z

1/25/2023

I am not exactly depressed, but I can whip up a pretty good glum at almost any moment. There have been about three sunny days since Thanksgiving, and four colds, and I’m feeling it. How about you?

We can’t even properly whine. Not with the Atmospheric Rivers of Doom in California, and tornadoes in the south. And all the other glum and hateful news.

Sara Kurtz & Healthcare by Zip Code? Really?

1/22/2023 

Many of you have been very generous in the past. Please think about making a donation to the GoFundMe account of Sara Kurtz. Donate here. 

Who is Sara? She’s a friend of my niece Susan.

Len Explains Fusion Energy

The photo is of Lisa Meitner. The BFF of one of our kids is (quite likely) a great grand niece of this amazing woman. 

...

MB: Len occasionally explains very complicated science things to me or our kids in such a way that we actually understand it. One of our kids asked him what the big deal was about fusion. Len wrote this and I thought some of you might like to read it.

Long live curious people and long live nerds. 

 

Almost. Two Years Later

1/6/2023 

 I remember where I was two years ago this afternoon. Do you?

I was writing. I knew I had another hour to just work by myself and I was happy about that. I love no interruptions.

Len was downstairs. I heard him turn on the TV. We NEVER watch TV during the day so it was weird when he called up to me, “You should come down here. Something’s happening.”

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