Mary Beth Writes

I have noticed that I am talking more than usual and generally, I am talking about something pandemic-related.  I live with Len plus I often talk/email/text with kids or friends throughout an ordinary day. So sure, I converse pretty often. But I am noticing that I am interrupting Len and myself more often to say stuff – often crazy, scary, outrageous news I’ve just read.

Being in the house 24/7 with another person can slowly turn one into a living radio who takes in the new news and then broadcasts it back out to whomever is closest. Which is another way to stew in perpetual anger and to live right on the surface of this crisis.

I’m going to pay more attention.  I don’t want the agenda in my head to be set by the agenda that’s out there.   

What about you? Are you talking/chatting more than usual ? 

All my adult life I have paid a LOT of attention to how we buy groceries. You know, buy less, cook simpler foods, buy things when they are on sale. Pay attention to prices, pay attention to the total one pays per grocery store trip and then per week or month.

Three weeks into this quarantine and Whammo! Decades of shopping strategy out the window.  We are not shopping inside stores like many are still doing.  Pick n’ Save will shop for us if we make a list a few days ahead. Then they will deliver it or we can drive to the store and pick it up curbside. The cost is minimal, so we do this. We tip well. We are grateful.

But this means a person we don’t know takes our list and puts our stuff in a cart and rings it up. We can ask for one kind of flour but if the store doesn’t have it, we are grateful for whatever ends up in our order. Sometimes the eggs are organic and free-range. Sometimes they are the eggs from tortured chickens. We eat them. Gratefully.

Never eating “out” saves so much it doesn’t really make much difference if the bag of carrots is one dollar or two. We are buying the same ingredients as ever, but we are not paying attention to the price.

I finally understand what it feels like to be wealthy. We know what we want, we can get it without harm, we know how to cook it, we eat well.

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday and next week is Easter.  In case you have a boatload of traditions around one or both of these holidays – and now those traditions are kaput – let me suggest you celebrate these days the way Jesus’ original disciples did.

Go outside. Pay attention. Later, write down what you witnessed. 









I just wanted to push the like button, and then realized this is not Facebook, thank God! Steve and I just had an arguement about this very thing. My being a news junkie! He needs respite more than I do, but really, it is so important to step away and breathe!
Mary Beth's picture

I heard myself this morning telling Len things that he was reading right at that moment! I know I breathe and think and sleep better when I pay attention to more than the little phone in my hand. It's so addictive.

You are right Mary Beth, we are so preoccupied by this nightmare that is happening in our world, that it is hard sometimes to appreciate the lessons to be learned and the messages our wounded Mother Earth wants us to understand. I hope we learn. I hope we listen.
Mary Beth's picture

Last week I went for a walk with Len in our neighborhood, no big deal. I was try hing to NOT think about stuff I already know. I was trying to just pay attention to my little world. And boom, saw a huge barn tucked behind a building we have walked past many times. Realized the house and barn were probably once a hotel and stable in the 1800's. And THEN I spied a muskrat running back and forth by a little drainage pond, probably building a nest for immanent young-in's. There is this whole world around us.

I want to say first that I am really enjoying your diary -- so many of your thoughts are similar to mine. I especially enjoy your thoughts that are new to me, that spur me to think of new things or in a different way about old things. I think I would find it very challenging to be cooped up 24-7 with another person for an extended period of time. I live alone so my talking is via phone, email, text, and Facebook -- I am making a point of limiting the amount of Covid-19 content in my conversations. I gave up watching news and late night TV for Lent and may never resume it. I do read a lot though--NYT, WPost, WSJ, Economist, Atlantic, New Yorker, Brookings Newsletter, PBS and NPR newsletters, and more -- a news and politics junkie must be informed. However, I find that I am reading more selectively and skimming more shallowly. I am diverting my mind from reality with fiction, biographies; and streaming dramas, and the occasional comedy or the even more occasional romance (think Sense and Sensibility). I am a person who loves staying home so this is not really a hardship, but even so, knowing that I cannot go anywhere seems to incite some latent desire to do so!
Mary Beth's picture

In the late 70's Stan Hallett was my group adviser at Garrett seminary (Hi Otis and Kathleen!) I remember one day, to promote discussion among people who were on their way to becoming ministers (whatever) he asked us where we went for our news. I listened to NPR and that was it. Others - even less. His question challenged me to pay attention to news sources and to be critical of them. But can you imagine, 8-10 people in graduate school - and most barely paid any attention top any news? Different world.

Always food for thougt.....thank you so much for this .....

I have noticed I sweat more when I'm talking on phone or via Zoom (or some other virtual platform). Is this normal? Knowing me, probably not. I don't know if it's related to content, anxiety over too much screen usage, or temperature of the room I'm talking in. LOL. Maybe a mixture? More questions than answers over here...but natural deodorant in these turbulent times is NOT cutting it.
Mary Beth's picture

I totally get this! I am having "symptoms" hand over fist and it's one of the things I mean to write about one of these days. For two days I heard maracas behind me. Very quiet maracas. Also I was a tad dizzy. All other systems were go, I had my annual physical recently ago - I'm fit. Two days later, the dizzy maracas stopped. Stress is weird and real.

Add new comment


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

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.

Tag Cloud

9/11 17 minutes 500 Words AARPtaxes AAUW Acadia Accountable Advent apples Arrows Augustine baby balance Baldwin Barkskins Beauty Becky Berry birthday bistro BookReport boy scout Bread BrokenDays BuyAngry Cahokia calendars Canada cats cello Choosing Christmas cilantro Cinnabuns circus clouds Clowns clutter Colonialism comet ComfortZone CommonSense consumerism Cops Corvid-19 Courage Covid-19 Crazy creditreport CrimeShows death Debate December DecisionFatigue decluttering Detroit Dreams Duty eBay Eclipse EmilyDickinson exit polls FairTrade farmer firealarm Fitness Five Flexible flu Fort de Chartres frame Franc FrancGarcia friends frugal Frugality frustration Ft.Ticonderoga Gannets Garden GarfieldParkConservatory Gaspe genius geode ghosts gorgons GovernorThompsonStatePark groceries Guatemala guns happiness HaveYouEver? Healthinsurance HelleKBerry heroes hike History home HomeRepair Honduras Hope HouseinBlueRiver hurricane impeachment Innkeeper integrity InternetPrivacy Interview InviteMe2Speak JoyceAndrews Judy JulianofNorwich justice Karen Lamb LangstonHuges LaphamPeak laundry LeeLeeMcKnight lemming Len Light Lincoln Little Women LockedOut Love Ludington Macaw macho Manitoulin MargaretFuller Maria Hamilton Marquette marriage Mayan MayaWorks MindfulChickens Mistakes moon Mother MothersDay mouser movies museums must-haves New York City Nomadland OscarRomero osprey Outside oximeter PastorBettyRendon Paul Hessert PDQ Penny persimmon poetry Preaching privacy Protest Quern quest Rabbit holes racism recipe recipes Remember Reruns responsetoKapenga Retirement rime RitesofPassage Roses Ruth SamaritanWoman Sanctuary Sandhillcranes SaraRodriguez sculpture Sermon ServantsoftheQuest sewing Shepherd Shontay ShortStory sick sickness snow Social Security SofritoBandito SpaceShuttle spring square feet staining stele Stereotypes StoryStarts Survival swim taxes teenager thankgsgiving Thanksgiving ThePerpetualYou ThreeBillBoards TidalBore TimeBeing toddler Tom tortillas Trains travel Traveler Tubing turtle UnrelatedObservations urgency vacation Valentines vanilla Vietnam VivianWokeUpDrowning vole WalkingAndSeeing Wampanaog war WarsanShire weather weaving wedding WhyAttendChurch WillaCather
Ad Promotion