Mary Beth Writes

In the last few weeks one of my knees has decided it is the current star of the MB show. I overused it one day, I know when that was, ever since it’s been wonky. I have to baby it otherwise it hurts more than a little. Aging isn’t for wusses. 

I am walking less because walking a lot makes it worse.  I CAN ride a bike as much as I want since that doesn’t exacerbate the situation. I’m trying to weigh less, which is its own comedy.

The knee is better this week than last week. I suspect this is just one more overused part of older me than can heal. I’ve talked to my designated medical person; I’ll get professional help if I need to. Meantime, it’s very clear that sitting here at my desk is really hard on the knee.  I limp a lot after an hour or two of writing.

My plan is to write shorter posts, Maybe post some old columns from back in the ‘Lost in Racine’ days.

I have typed “How many days since March 13th” into Google so many times that it now finishes this question before I do. Today, the answer is 130 days. 

Three days ago when riding my bike, I stopped at a place where I was going to stretch my legs and then turn around to ride back home. 

An older women (and by older I mean my age…) was walking past. “What a stupid place to stop. You can smell the garbage from that trash can.”

And then she kept on walking.

I muttered at her. “And hello to you, too, Mrs. Glass is Half Empty.”  Sheesh. Who says that to a stranger? Why did she even care?

The next day, on the same path but further along, an older woman (yeah, my age) was walking two tiny dogs. She and the dogs stepped off the path for me. I called out, “Thank you. I’m sure your pups are more stable than I am…” 

She laughed and retorted, “You’re looking good. Have a nice day!”

So much of what we see and do, especially in a free-for-all global pandemic, has to do with our own attitude. I’m still feeling happy that the second woman thought I looked good. She chose a bit of laughter and some encouragement and it stayed in me all day.  

The “Brown Shirt” federal officers in Portland that Trump is threatening to send to other Democrat-led cities – they are scary. It is an overreach of power. It is playing to his base.

But as people post old photos of Hitler’s Brown Shirts arresting civilians – let me remind us all of this.  There are very few photographs from that era of people resisting. Some did, but mostly that was underground. People going into their streets to protest in non-violent ways, over and over and over, in many places around the nation, that didn’t happen in Germany. 

The Wall of Moms is new. There are now some Dads joining these protests with leaf blowers (!) to blow back the tear gas. Not kidding. I’m not going to protests and even I have been in one. There’s a BLM poster in my front window. (Yes, it makes me a little nervous). Good candidates are running all over this nation and we have donated modestly to some of them. 

A lot of what we are seeing depends on what we choose to see. This is a dangerous time, no doubt. But it is also the most activist time most of us have witnessed since the 60’s and 70’s. It is history repeating itself. And then it is NOT history repeating itself.

Yes, there was a garbage can and I saw it once the grouchy woman criticized me for standing not far from it. There was also a slough, cattails blowing in the wind, lots and lots of birds singing, and a little kid up ahead on her little kid bike with the sun shining on her red hair that was streaming out from under her bike helmet. 

Go out there. Do something. Find your niche. Look for the powerful good stuff that is happening, too. Support it. Join it. This story is not even close to over.


The cool picture was taken by my niece Susan Lawrence. Thanks, Susan. 



I will keep my eyes pealed for one. My boss gave one away about a year ago. Drew has one and loves it. Another insightful column. Don't know how you create the flow - thanks! My glass is part way filled, always room for more:) Love the reflections in Susan's picture.
Mary Beth's picture

I invented one for myself for a while. Boxes piled to just the right height. I got tired of standing! Do you use one?

Been there....done that☹️ Make an appointment with a knee doctor at Wisconsin orthopedic specialists. They are all good. If you are lucky you will get “the magic shot!”
Mary Beth's picture

Yikes! I hope no shots! Which is why I'm giving this some more time. Last fall I had a tailbone issue after the 2 week car trip to Canada. It took months, 3 PT sessions, daily exercises for a while, but it no longer hurts at all! I'm hoping for the same slow miracle for my knee....

It sounds like you are listening to your knee. A thought that popped into my mind, when you mentioned sitting constraints - talk into your phone voice recorder, when out riding, or in a comfortable reclining position. And/or then, dictate it into Words. Might decrease you're sitting time, without us getting less of your writings! Or some variation thereof. And appropriate knee exercises and ice afterward. You've got this! I get what you are saying about signage in your yard. I passed the Democratic headquarters in Waukesha, today, and plan to stop in for some BLM and Biden signs. I think we all need to get into the mindset of doing what we can to create "good trouble". Keep John Lewis' efforts moving ever forward; signage, posts, protests, VOTING, learning and changing and VOTING.

Needed this reminder. I have been weighed down by fear of what I see this administration doing, and the constant excuses made for un-excusable behavior, Anyway...need to focus on all the activism I see. Thank you. Patricia

Mr "B" was feeling a bit like your second paragraph on Wednesday because he has a knee that's acting up as well, we are in your age group so it's appropriate I guess... He calls it Geezer Talk because it's either his knee or our backs, he says that at least we aren't going on about B.M. yet but it's probably on the horizon... He's also a writer and knows well what sitting at his desk will do to his knee... He rides his bike most days to not bother the knee too much... We found a new to him bike trail last week that we walked part of last week so we strapped our bikes to the car, drove to that park and rode that entire path... Unlike your experience the people we came across were all happy and positive in attitude... It transfers over and makes a big difference when it happens... With the state of this country at this point we need all the positive energy we can get, especially when our leader in charge is sending out as much bad energy as he can muster... We need more ignoring of the garbage can and more enjoying of the birds and coattails...

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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.

Advent Light Post 12/24/2020

Judy Saunders. Photo of a Rose.

Lo, how a rose e'er blooming
From tender stem hath sprung,
Of Jesse's lineage coming,
As folks of old have sung.
It came a flower bright
Amid the cold of winter
When half-spent was the night.


Len and I were delivering presents to Chicago yesterday. Social distancing, with masks, but we did it and we saw our kids’ faces and there’s your Christmas, Ma’am.

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