Mary Beth Writes

This was a really good part of today. When my daughter was putting the baby down for his nap, Len and I read storybooks to our 3-year old granddaughter before her nap. Literally, she was sitting on her little bed in Chicagoland while holding mommy’s phone.  I read; Len moved the phone around carefully to show the illustrations. 

We read Katharine Goes to Nursery School, The Mixed-Up Chameleon, and Millions of Cats. When our daughter came into the room – she asked with a lot of humor in her voice, “Was that Katharine Goes to Nursery School?”   It’s been more than 30 years since we read it to her; she recognized it while she was rocking the baby in the other room. 

The clincher line in the book is: “Oh Katharine, you are learning so much in nursery school!” Every couple of months one of us will learn a new skill and the other remarks, “Oh Leonard, you are learning so much at Drupal Midcamp.” Etc.

Classic literature never leaves your soul…

Yesterday I wrote about Night Herons. Franc sent this today.

This triptych is called “Silent Transformation of the Night Heron into Saturday Night Dance with Chaos” by Allen Schaubel, an artist in Kenosha.

I am more anxious today. I noticed on Twitter this morning that there are many new tweets lamenting the loss of friends, aunts, uncles, co-workers. Some of these deaths are due to other causes and the people are sorrowing that they are attending funerals via internet.  One of my friends lost a lifelong friend just last week –she and her husband attended the incredibly small funeral via skype. The woman who passed had lived a long and generous life yet there were about 10 people actually at the funeral. Our new normal.

People are beginning to note the folks in their lives who are ill at home, are hospitalized, are passing away with coronavirus. For many it is no longer coming. It’s here.

Yet I keep thinking of this. In the first century after Europeans landed in the “New World” – 90% of all indigenous people of north, central, and south America died of European diseases. Nine out of ten.

There are only nine people in my immediate family.

The mind boggles and the heart weeps.

Kathleen called this morning; she’s been talking with her kids and grandkids about “the first time it felt as if everything was out of control.”  She said for her it was the Cuban Missile Crisis. I said I’d been talking with various others of our general age who said exactly the same.

I was in 4th grade. My parents kept talking to each other in quiet tones. We had the evening news on during dinner which was unprecedented. I did and didn’t understand our nation was in crisis. I remember walking around the corner from the dining room into the kitchen, when I began to cry. I tucked my face into a dishtowel because that’s how tall I was then. I started weeping and shaking.  My mom saw me, hugged me, and asked what was going on. I told her I was so scared. I don’t remember her answer but to this day I remember her hug.

Kathleen was in college; she remembers being in the school's chapel seriously wondering if she would see her parents again.

We have all been through a few of these moments. The Cuban Missile Crisis. The Kennedy assassination. The deaths of MLK and Robert Kennedy and Malcom X.  When the college students were killed at Kent State. 9/11.

We know we will come through this. We also know we won’t come through it as exactly the same nation or the same people we were even a few weeks ago.

if we are going to change, let’s try for kinder.

When was the first time you felt as if the world was going out of control?  



M.B. That would be 9/11 when alone except for a bunch of little dogs I first saw it happening on tv and called you because I knew you were home and I needed to reach out to a fellow human being... I remember to this day being on the phone ( land lines then ) for hours with you and staring at the television as it unfolded in front of our eyes... Some times we commented and sometimes we just watched together in complete silence sharing in amazment how horrible we can be as a race to each other... I agree that hopefully we come out of this shared experience kinder and more loving of each other... Keep safe everyone...

The Kennedy assassination. Most recent, Trump election.
Mary Beth's picture

Yeah. Waking up at 3AM election night/morning.. seeing that. We knew it would not be good but who saw this coming.

Trump's election rocked my soul to the very core. So much of what I believed about my country disappeared that day. Patricia

Rest In Peace, Dee For me, it was the Kennedy Assassination. I was 9. I remember the wind howling and there was literally nothing else on tv.

Beautiful message. I especially loved the story of your reading the Katharine book! So sweet. Yes, let’s try for kinder. It is already happening. They call it a virus that is spreading faster that the cv.

January 1960 I turned 8 the previous month. A man missing one hand bought all our furniture. Boxes were shipped to the USA from our home in Denmark. I do remember, due to photos, our final Christmas in the house my parents had built.

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Quarantine Diary #312

“You know me, I think there ought to be a big old tree right there. And let's give him a friend. Everybody needs a friend.” ― Bob Ross

This tree lives in Waukesha and stopped me in my tracks when I was out for a walk.


 When will this Quarantine Diary end? When Len and I drive out not wearing masks to go to a place where we will stay overnight. Just letting you know. FYI we started last year on Friday the 13th of March.


Quarantine Diary #308 1/15/2021

My life is pretty fine, and I bet yours is, too. Warm place to live. Food to eat. Friends to share and laugh with - even if we have to do it via Zoom.

At the same time, who isn’t feeling anxiety and dread? Will the white supremacist insurrectionist knobs attack the inaugural? Will they screw up state capitols and infrastructure? One lone guy blew up Nashville a mere three weeks ago. What the hell is going on?

Quarantine Diary #307 Brain Names

Remember when there was no autism? Sure, there were kids in our schools who were weirdly able to remember stuff, or were hard to control, or whose emotions triggered at the oddest time. We generally ignored those kids. Those of us who were kind did, anyways. Others bullied. 

Remember the mopey kids in high school who knew too much about depressing art and angsty music and sometimes killed themselves?

Quarantine Diary #306 Hunched Over & Paying Attention

I am going to write some Quarantine Diary entries again. There’s a lot going on and sometimes it helps to hear a small voice as well as the big voices of journalists, pundits, networks, the other public media we follow.

I have had a small headache off and on for days. I worried that I might have contracted Covid, except dang it, I haven’t gone anywhere! And then, thinking about it, I realized I am hunched over my phone much more than usual. These mild on-again, off-again headaches are from eyestrain and weird posture.

Rime and Treason

These photos were taken by Len on Monday in that other time and world that existed before the Trump gorgons mobbed the Capitol. (Gorgons existed in Greek literature. Gorgons are the poisonous siblings with hair of living snakes. Those who beheld them face-to-face turned to stone. Or were killed by being beaten by a fire extinguisher.)

I have been trying to write about that but it is too hard. There is so much that is clear and is informative. You are reading it as much as I am. Blessed be the journalists, right? 

Quarantine Diary #292 New Year's Eve

Many of us feel as if we are in limbo until Biden takes office. I don’t think you need me to say a lot about how long and hard this year has been; we’ve been in this dentist’s chair together.


Did you see how many days quarantine has lasted? 292 days.

So far.

This week I read a remarkable essay. On Natural Landscapes, Metaphorical Living, and Warlpiri Identity, by Barry Lopez. Life is weird. The day after I read it, Mr. Lopez died.

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