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 #108 6/30/2020 Woke Neighbors

I was quietly sitting here, just writing, when I heard yelling. I looked up and there was Modern America Right Here Right Now, in front of my house.

Cops had a car pulled over and were yelling at someone to come out. A black man with dreadlocks got out, hands in air, protesting and arguing to the cops. I couldn’t hear exactly what he was saying, but he was arguing respectfully. I heard his “Sir” several times. He was not swearing that I could hear.

Quarantine Diary #104 6/26/2020 Common Sense

This very small story has been lurking in my mind for decades and I have been thinking about it again, just recently.

One afternoon I overheard my dad complaining to my mom about schoolteachers. I suppose they were having a busy week in the print shop when a teacher from the high school dropped off, late in the day, a print job that needed to be completed in less time than was convenient. I’m guessing it was the school newspaper.

Quarantine Diary #101 6/23/2020 Today the Protest Came to Us

I keep saying Len and I are not going to protests because of Covid.

But then one came to us.

Late yesterday afternoon we heard that Mike Pence and Betsy DeVos would be at a meeting this morning at Saratoga STEM school here in Waukesha. It's three blocks from our house. 

The meeting was to talk about school choice. School choice is when you take taxpayer education funds away from local schools, change neighborhood schools into “choice schools” that will attract kids from outside that neighborhood and then you underfund the neighborhood school that's left.

Quarantine Diary #99 6/20/2020 "A bonfire of small changes ..."

This evening Trump is speaking to a political rally in a Tulsa venue that can hold 19,000 people. There will be no social distancing. The place is enclosed. Masks are optional. Boggles the mind.

Yesterday morning I went to a local Stein’s garden mecca to see if they have marigolds on sale yet. They don’t even have marigolds NOT on sale!

But this happened.

I wore a mask. There were only about six other people shopping while I was there and they were all masked, too. The clerk, working outside in that 85-degrees of drenching humidity, was also wearing a mask.

Quarantine Diary #97 Le Bistro de Garage..

People don’t need to care about “decorating and home design.” As long as one can live safely in their abode while getting done the things they need and want to get done, that’s civilization.

Quarantine Diary #93 6/14/2020 What happens when life goes on hold?

Since I stopped writing every day the Quarantine Diary number no longer precisely matches the number of days since I (we) fell into this pandemical rabbit hole. I just calculated. I started intentionally quarantining March 13th – which means I am now on day #93.  From now on, I will label the days since quarantine started, not how many diary entries I have written.  It’s more relevant to consider how long this has gone on. Your tally might vary by a few days, depending on when you realized you were in quarantine also.

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