Mary Beth Writes

I had to do an errand this morning that was in the neighborhood of a Stein’s yard and garden store. I’d already looked online at several seed companies. All seemed to feature whackadoodle high prices as well as warnings about no substitutions and delayed shipments. That was discouraging.

I put on my Big-Girl mask and went into the store at 10AM (there were three customers in the whole place) and bought the seeds on my list as well as seeds not on my list. 

I had forgotten about Four o’clock flowers. I grew them back when my kids were little. They grew right next to the playhouse that the kids built with scrap lumber. Boy, that was a house that wasn’t Lil’ Tykes. That playhouse was scrappy, the beat-up walkway where it resided was scrappy, there wasn’t full daylight, the dog ran back and forth right there – and those 4 o’clocks just bloomed and bloomed.  

Are flowers sometimes souvenirs you grow to remind yourself of the last time you grew them? Last year one hollyhock by my kitchen door just took off to grow nine feet tall! Len put a hook in the side of the house to hold it up. Nearly every woman who walked past it stopped a minute to tell me about playing hollyhock dolls when she was little.

Right now, most of us are becoming aware that the United States’ meat supply is being upended. Most meat is becoming a little or a lot more expensive.  In the frugal blogs I read, some people are going out of their way to buy larger than ordinary amounts of meat to put in their freezers against rising prices and short supplies.

There is a lot of American hypocrisy going on when we blame China’s “wet markets” for this pandemic. Yes, those markets of so many animals are dangerous and ought to be closed. 

But just as dangerous are our factory farms where animals are genetically engineered to produce the most meat the most cheaply. Factory farms are breeding grounds for the next pandemic.

So that meat some of us are rushing to buy right now – maybe we need to back off.

This week I am going to attempt a daring feat I have never done before. I have a stack of books on my nightstand.  I often dip into them to read for a few minutes, but then I go to the library and find fiction that will “take me away.” Our Waukesha Public Library (bless them) is kinda open again as of today. But one has to order books ahead, make a date and time slot to pick up one’s chosen books, there is no browsing.

This makes sense. But alas, how do I know what I want to read before I’ve started to read it?

So in this particular week I am going to read my own damn books. (Actually, two of the books in my stack are loaners from friends.)

Does anyone want to join me in this grueling commitment to just go ahead and read a book they have been meaning to read for a long time?



I have decided to cut way back on meat...again. I am not planning to eat any. I have some in The freezer and will continue to cook it for the other inhabitants of the house, dogs included. I just cannot stomach the idea of factory farms. I have a book on my nightstand that I have had kicking around for a couple of years, I decided to start reading it tomorrow. Might make a nice change from English murder mysteries on YouTube and Coronavirus stuff and covidiots.

I'll join you Mary Beth, I can see 5 books from my vantage point that I've either started to read or picked up thinking it would be a good read... Reading has never been easy for me it's more work than I would like it to be because my eyes don't focus like most people's do... It's like running a marathon and yet it's something I truly enjoy.... I'm pledging to finish "Blood, Bones & Butter" The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton... I tend to like reading about people who don't really follow the crowd , but choose to do things on their own terms... It's something Ms. Hamilton does in spades from what I've read so far... I could be friends with this Woman...

I mostly read books on my Kindle now and have accumulated quite a few "to be read." One was a bio of Georgia O'Keefe that I have been slowly working my way through. However, I have the desire to be "taken away" by good fiction too. I recommend reading the readers' reviews on Amazon. I find that that gives me a pretty good idea of whether I will enjoy a book. Then you can check your library to see if they have the book. I am currently very much enjoying M.L.Longworth's series of "Verlaque and Bonnet" mysteries that are set in Provence, France. Lots of attention to descriptions of good meals and wines, good character development, and interesting crimes to be solved without gore and car chases. You would definitely feel "taken away."

Big Girl mask —- haha— did they match ur big girl pantries?? Haha Love seed packets and all the pretty color they represent. I have plenty of unread books on my shelf too Meat supply. We need to clean our freezer out and see what we need
Mary Beth's picture

I am going to do book recommendations inside these Quarantine Diaries. In the past, I've found my best recommends in - the comments in the Non-Consumer Advocate. I think there is something about people living carefully and cleverly - that they often like similar books. So pay attention Dear Readers/Friends. Books, movies, TV shows... coming up.

Hey, you guys! Some of you might like trading free books with others around the US, or even around the world!
Mary Beth's picture

Thanks for this tip!

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Quarantine Diary #150 8/11/2020 Taking a Break

I’m depressed. How about you?  I’m not the kind of depressed where I should call a doctor. I’m more “Michelle Obama depressed.”  Things feel stuck, wrong, and getting worse. There’s the pandemic and the feeble, chaotic response to it. There’s racial strife. When, if ever, will the police police themselves? Teachers and kids are being thrown back into schools like spaghetti thrown against a wall - to see who will stick? There’s the angry self-entitled idiocy of too many people.

Quarantine Diary #142 Swimming Lessons

“It's a good idea to begin at the bottom in everything except in learning to swim.” Unknown author

I was well into my 40’s when I realized that one doesn’t have to wait for perfect weather if one wants to go into the water. 

Quarantine Diary #141 8/5/2020 "Red Dust"

I just finished reading “Red Dust – A Path Through China” by Ma Jain.  It is a remarkable book that asks more questions than it answers.

Ma Jain was born in the 50’s and grew up grew up very poor in a small Chinese city. He remembers when his mother would simmer stones for dinner so that the neighbors would see her cooking and not realize how poor they were.  (A whole different take on the children’s tale “Stone Soup.") The violent and terrifying Cultural Revolution that Chinese citizens lived through is over but memories of it are in everyone’s minds.

Quarantine Diary #140 7/31/2020 Wishing you a Merry Quarantine Weekend

When I’m in a certain mood I love how-to articles – and I’m in that mood right now. I think it happens at the intersection of reasonable weather and Friday ... when happiness still seems possible.

I googled “How to have a nice weekend in the time of Covid” and guess what? There are no Wiki-How articles on how to be happy in a pandemic.

Let’s invent this right here, right now.

Quarantine Diary #134 Written while sweating …

My best coping skill for appalling weather is to show it who is boss. 30 below?  Cool. Let me put on all my clothes plus a hat down to my eyebrows and another one up to my glasses, and I’ll go out there.

Quarantine Diary #131 7/23/2020 "Becoming Labrador"

Yesterday I forgot to write about a movie we watched which I think many of you might like to watch, also.  We’ve been talking here about what one can stand to read and watch these days when our spirits are stressed and anxious.

I thought I wanted to reprise some of our Canada travels.  FYI, if you’ve traveled in a place you loved, put that place into your streaming service Search window, find some great or mediocre documentaries about that place, and revisit your memories.  It’s fun.

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