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 #150 8/11/2020 Taking a Break

I’m depressed. How about you?  I’m not the kind of depressed where I should call a doctor. I’m more “Michelle Obama depressed.”  Things feel stuck, wrong, and getting worse. There’s the pandemic and the feeble, chaotic response to it. There’s racial strife. When, if ever, will the police police themselves? Teachers and kids are being thrown back into schools like spaghetti thrown against a wall - to see who will stick? There’s the angry self-entitled idiocy of too many people.

Quarantine Diary #142 Swimming Lessons

“It's a good idea to begin at the bottom in everything except in learning to swim.” Unknown author

I was well into my 40’s when I realized that one doesn’t have to wait for perfect weather if one wants to go into the water. 

Quarantine Diary #141 8/5/2020 "Red Dust"

I just finished reading “Red Dust – A Path Through China” by Ma Jain.  It is a remarkable book that asks more questions than it answers.

Ma Jain was born in the 50’s and grew up grew up very poor in a small Chinese city. He remembers when his mother would simmer stones for dinner so that the neighbors would see her cooking and not realize how poor they were.  (A whole different take on the children’s tale “Stone Soup.") The violent and terrifying Cultural Revolution that Chinese citizens lived through is over but memories of it are in everyone’s minds.

Quarantine Diary #140 7/31/2020 Wishing you a Merry Quarantine Weekend

When I’m in a certain mood I love how-to articles – and I’m in that mood right now. I think it happens at the intersection of reasonable weather and Friday ... when happiness still seems possible.

I googled “How to have a nice weekend in the time of Covid” and guess what? There are no Wiki-How articles on how to be happy in a pandemic.

Let’s invent this right here, right now.

Quarantine Diary #134 Written while sweating …

My best coping skill for appalling weather is to show it who is boss. 30 below?  Cool. Let me put on all my clothes plus a hat down to my eyebrows and another one up to my glasses, and I’ll go out there.

Quarantine Diary #131 7/23/2020 "Becoming Labrador"

Yesterday I forgot to write about a movie we watched which I think many of you might like to watch, also.  We’ve been talking here about what one can stand to read and watch these days when our spirits are stressed and anxious.

I thought I wanted to reprise some of our Canada travels.  FYI, if you’ve traveled in a place you loved, put that place into your streaming service Search window, find some great or mediocre documentaries about that place, and revisit your memories.  It’s fun.

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