Mary Beth Writes

In the first week of quarantine one of my kids said, “I hate the coronavirus. I hate this so much.” The fury in their voice surprised me but they were right. This disease is horrible, dangerous, lethal, unknown … and it is breaking the world. Humans are dying. Everybody else’s lives are upside down and backwards.

This is no joke so let me be clear. There is nothing about Coronavirus I like or appreciate. Nothing. 

But there are things I appreciate about the experience of being quarantined.  None of us asked for this, but it is not all awful.

Today I am going to try to think of things I like about living ‘locked-down’.  Also, as most of hyou are aware, I'm retired. I don’t have a job. I don’t have kids or elderly parents to care for. I am in a uniquely free part of my life. Like most of us, Len and I have known difficult times, but as long as we and our loved ones stay healthy - this is not one of them.

1. It’s weird how little traffic there is.  I rarely have to wait at any intersection.  I mean, I do stop because I didn’t get to be this old by ignoring crosswalk signs.  I look both ways and even though Waukesha’s voiced commands are saying “Wait, Wait!” I cross the street with insouciance.

Sometimes, just to stay current on my Wild Woman Badge, I walk in the middle of a street.

2. Sourdough bread!  $16 per pound yeast? Are you kidding me?  Len has become the Master of the Sourdough Starter and the Baker of the Sourdough Bread.  This is absolutely the best bread I’ve eaten in my life.  

We got our 50 pounds of North Dakotas Mills bread flour yesterday. This is what our fridge now looks like.

3. Knowing one tends to be introverted is one thing. Living six weeks in quarantine and feeling oneself thriving in it is … profound?

I am looking back at parts of my life where I was most unhappy; those times were always times when I was super busy with social obligations.

We had a conversation about this here in the comments a week ago; I said something I’d not thought of before. Most women are raised to be social. It’s the job ascribed to us by society, it’s also our survival skill in a dangerous and dismissive world. 

Which means the natural temperament of introvert girls got pushed to the side as we learned to negotiate a world not set-up for inward-oriented women. 

I like people and I’m not shy. I have friends and plan to continue enjoying them for a long, long time. But I am also kinda pumped to live the rest of my life as an unapologetic introvert!

Are you an introvert? Maybe read this... 

4. I’ve walked all my life. One of my first memories was walking with my grandfather who said I was a good walker.  Since we all know what dilly-dalliers little kids can be, that must have been one of my purposeful days. I do remember holding his hand and am grateful to have that sweet memory.

Since I don’t have to go places during quarantine, I’m walking way more.  I don’t get up in the morning and “get ready for my busy, social day.” I get up, put on yesterday’s stale clothes and go out for a long walk.  Len is riding his bike more.  I don’t think city-dwellers can do this as much. They have Mayor Lightfoot standing at the end of their block, arms crossed, telling them to go back to their apartment.

5. I like writing every day. 

6. Cooking. I like that Len is doing WAY more of it than me.

7. Sometimes I have insomnia but usually I am sleeping better. All that walking and sourdough bread.

8. Underneath the pain of people, the earth is shifting. We are not fighting climate crisis. We are not fixing anything.  But here in this hiatus, I hear birds all the time and everywhere.  I can almost feel and hear the earth breathing. 

9. More people seem to be a lot more angry about the inequalities we live with; about how much earth’s wealth has been grabbed by the global imperialists and their uber-rich sycophant relatives. It is a topic. About time.

I read this today on Facebook; written by a guy I’ve never heard of.

“We are not in the same boat, but we are in the same storm.” 

10. We get to Facetime read storybooks to our 3-year old granddaughter almost every day before her nap (and our naps). I  love this so much. 

What are you noticing about quarantine that ii s interesting or positive?




Wait for your mail everyday.. Has helped in many ways.. Thank you!!!!
Mary Beth's picture

Thank you. It keeps me going, too. Paying attention is a way to stay upright when things are crazy.

Yep, sourdough is The Best. I had a home-grown starter for years named Bubbles. One time when I had to move, I gave Bubbles to a bread-baking friend. Knowing that friend, Bubbles may still be alive and ... bubbling. My understanding about introverts, of whom I am one, is that in addition to being depleted by too much noise and too many people, even beloved ones, we make decisions based on our assessments and not those of others. Looking at the world from inside quarantine, I have definitely decided for myself whom and what to believe, which is not much of what’s being said. I’m not sure, this time, if this is a good or a bad thing. Lol Sedgwick, who is in Day 43 of quarantine

No school shootings, no mass shootings in public places.

I like that I can play games with friends and still be at home. I like hosting a party for which I only clean the upper part of one room and don't have to think of what food to feed people. I like that I don't have to wear shoes to work, and that I can start and end my workday an hour later because there are no bus schedules to organize around. I like the lack of traffic too. LA will really grieve that piece when things start to crowd up again.

!!!WOW!!! #37, ¿Who'd a thunk? Friday I enjoyed a 2 1/2hr phone conversation with a new friend... Saturday it was yard work, Indian take out for dinner with Michael followed by a surprise Zoom 3rd B-Day party for the great niece... That night instead of a good night text from the new friend he sent me the Beatles singing "Good Night" ( He's racking up browny points ) This sunny morning I had my coffee on the lake while enjoying the sun as it danced upon the water, excercised and sunbathed.( 1st time ) then a leisurely breakfast... Came home and dragged some large plants outside for cleaning, watering and a little bit of sun... They had been pretty much ignored all winter and yet survived the abuse.( ¿Who Knew? ) The plants have been crowded around the piano next to a large window for the winter... I rearranged the plants when I brought them in giving me full access to the keyboard which couldn't be reached even if I wanted to... Now with all the time on my hands I'll be able to get back to creating music only for my own ears.( You'll thank me later ) It's truly been a good weekend...

I am also an introvert and I work at home - so, I am used to being alone. We also take care of my 88 year old Mom - but, now we can’t - we have to trust her asst living facility to do the things she need and they are awesome. I am loving getting my entire house clean - to have the time to read. My husband and I are on our 2nd Netflix series. I am well into making a granny square alfgan. I am still working full time and am overjoyed that tomorrow my work hours will drop to a 32 hour week. Except for missing my family - and the sorrow I feel for all going on in the world - I am amazingly content. Right now, we have been given ‘“permission” to just take care of ourselves.
Mary Beth's picture

Perfectly said.

I have been lonely in a crowd. Years of feeling like “the other” no longer exists as I am not faced with my differences of thought, behavior, wants and needs. Home with my cat, my handcrafts, walks inside and out, and still physical therapy for my shoulder. Today is an absolutely glorious day: windows open, sunshine, a slight breeze. I will thrive.

When I lived in San Francisco I had a sour dough starter: the weather is perfect for it! Many loaves...for myself and my co-workers at Levi Strauss & Co. Until the day my second floor apartment was robbed and the starter was knocked over...
Mary Beth's picture

Oh No!!

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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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