Mary Beth Writes

I’ve been busy today so I’m a little late getting to this diary. Doing what, you ask? Oh, brilliant things like washing the bathroom and doing laundry and going for a blustery walk. Took the plastic off the particular windows we wrap in the fall.

Spent a chunk of the morning reading about the lead-up to the Revolutionary War battles at Saratoga. More about that later.  Reading about brave and canny, stupid and ego-centric politicians of an entirely different era is part of my coping strategy for life in the US. We aren’t the first to live in fraught times. Not by a long shot.

So the first thing I amgoing to say today in this public diary of some of my feelings and pursuits during this Quarantine – is this. 

Today I’m really, really angry. People are losing family and friends. People are shaken that loved ones are dying alone.  We are seeing the faces of doctors and nurses and other caregivers who have been over-exposed to the virus until their systems become overwhelmed ... and they are gone. Damn. And yet more doctors and nurses and care providers are FLYING INTO NYC area hospitals from other parts of the country to help. I am undone by the gallantry of some of us.

Where is the cohesive plan to get them the protection they need?  This administration KNEW in January that Coronavirus was coming – and individuals sold stock.  I am so angry I could bite a senator.  

I saw an article that predicts the peak of this in Wisconsin will be May 22nd.  Holy Spotted Cow that is seven weeks away. We will be inside this long? With occasional forays to hike with Len and only Len? I love the man dearly but what I would give right now to hug any of my women friends. Humans who never smell even faintly of that’s day’s 6th cup of coffee.

What will happen to our state and our nation while we hold our breath THIS LONG?

I’m angry because other nations planned ahead. Denmark apparently didn’t throw everyone into unemployment. They said everyone still has the same job they always had, and now they are sending checks to businesses to they can continue to pay their employees. The day it’s okay to go back to work, everyone goes back to their job.

We couldn’t do that?

Did you see that the price of antibacterial gel in Denmark is $4 for one bottle and $95 for two? Boom, hoarding stopped in its tracks.

We couldn’t do that?

Where is the planning? The preparations? The imaginative solutions?

As one tweet read, “If capitalism is so great, why does it have to be bailed out by socialism every ten years?”

I’m so angry and I bet you are, too. I’m leaving it here right now, but if this is a two-month diary, we’ll be back.

We went to a parent-teacher meeting when the kids were youngsters. People were asking how to get their kids to do more house chores and homework.. It was a long meeting; all I really remember is this funny remark from one of the teachers. 

They were reading Little House books in that teacher’s classroom.

“All children love Little House stories. They love-love-love how Laura and Mary do chores to help Ma and Pa and then when the day is done, Pa plays his fiddle, and everyone is content and happy. Kids loves these tales.

“However, sadly, loving Laura and Mary has very little to do with your kid actually doing dishes or making their bed. Everyone loves to hear about Laura and Mary. No one wants to actually live their life.”

So; about our long nights in our cabins and soddies with only each other.  We have media, of course. We don’t have to invent all our own entertainment. Thank Goodness because Len and I trying to play the kids’ left-behind recorders could get real bleak real fast.

I think they call this “Little Humans in the Big Pandemic.”


The cat in the photo is my daughter's cat, Nancy Drew. 





I can't believe we are 16 days into shelter in place. My spouse is a ICU nurse in Chicago. His ICU just had its first Covid-19 on Wednesday: a 57-year-old male from the neighborhood, now on a ventilator. He was selected to be the patient's nurse. He is off this weekend, and returns on Wednesday. Like you note, this is just the beginning. The mayor of Chicago closed our Lakefront and city parks on Thursday after cooped up people thronged the Lakefront on Wednesday, with its beautiful sunny skies and warm temperatures. I was among them, easily keeping my 6' social distance . But many failed to heed social distancing requirements, especially young people with closed high schools and colleges. So now we have one less escape valve. Now we have this clever yet appropriate meme circulating online:
Mary Beth's picture

I tried to insert the photo of Mayor Lightfoot at the barrier to the lake path - but it didn't work (too many kinds of media). Dark humor here. We are all inside, cleaning, napping. We are turning into house cats. Anything you or J want to say about living through this in Chicago, I am glad to post it.

The only silver lining in this whole thing from my vantage point is the fact that I'm testing the waters with someone new to my life... We have yet to meet and it won't happen for months because of the dangers involved so we exchanged photos which didn't scare either one of us away... We text and e-mail and speak on the phone for hours at a time. .( Dating in the age of corona I guess ) We are learning about each other slowly but surely which is kinda refreshing... We had coffee and tea together but miles apart this morning... He's a teacher working from home doing so by video his younger sister lives with him, she's in health care so we compare notes and story's... There are no guarantees that we will even like each other when we meet in person but we are both willing to wait it out to find out... I'm not a big fan of talking about myself so I sent him to this blog to read the story's here... He laughed saying..." I've never met anyone who came with their own testimoniales before" He's even reading the comments afterwards saying that he's learning as much from those as he is from the article's themselves...
Mary Beth's picture

Did you tell him that this past week you bought 65 pounds of rice and one loaf of bread?

thanks for venting our anger....eager for another hike...someday...hugs
Mary Beth's picture

“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” ― John Muir, John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir

Yes Mary Beth I did tell Brad about the 45Lbs. of rice and that didn't scare him away either... That was probably because he had already read the piece on me you did so I guess he's prepared for just about anything now... Besides when got to Cermack they had changed the opening from 7am to 8am so I spent the hour sitting in the parking lot sending him train of thought e-mails about rice and pretty much anything else that came up at that hour. ( I had been up since 4 so my head was a scary place )... After I scored the rice and loaded up the car I had e-mail from him asking ¿if the trip was successful? I said yes , and he responded that he was glad the catastrophe was avoided...
Mary Beth's picture

I have a feeling that for those who follow these comments - we have a potential novel unfolding right in front of our eyes.... All we ask is that it be a romance or a contemporary culture portrayal - not a whodunit...


You can actually make anger sound funny....”I am so angry I could bite a senator”! It made me laugh! Sorry, I know it isn’t funny.... Humor is lifesaving though! I love your honesty.
Mary Beth's picture

It made me laugh, too. But not in a supportive way ...

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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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