Mary Beth Writes

Oh Lordy, it’s not even a week yet and I am SO READY for this crisis to be blow away. 

Yesterday Len and I went for a long walk at Scuppernong. (Scuppernong info here.)

After the hike we ate sandwiches while watching the sun set while watching two Sandhill Cranes dance!  By doing all this we completely missed the evening news and I lost twelve pounds of dread.

Have been trying to not sit on Twitter all day today. Trying.   

There will be Scuppernong photos tomorrow.  I need Len to help me figure out a step but he’s in the middle of a Big Concentration so I will not bother him right now.

I guess that’s the first thing I have to say. When one is in close quarters with another person one MUST keep in mind that other person is ACTUALLY another person and not an “extension of me.”  Marriage is weird this way, huh? We fall in love with someone because they are wondrously different than us. And then we spend the rest of our lives trying to make them do things our way on our schedule.

Len and I share a small office and we usually do fine. We both know and accept that we are Highly Distractible - think toddlers in a roomful of puppies. Anyway, if one of us seems as if they have somehow made it into a place where they are thinking and working -  then other doesn’t say anything other than “I’m going downstairs for coffee, want some?”

This next bit makes me sad.  My friend Karen’s mom is in an assisted living residence in Indiana.  She’s in her 80’s, is a retired RN, raised good kids who became good adults with wonderful families who up till this past week - visited frequently. But as is happening across the nation, the place where she lives has locked down. To keep people from possibly cross-infecting each other these folks – our Greatest Generation - are being asked to mostly stay in their rooms. They are being served their meals in their rooms. 

Karen’s mom, like so many in this novel situation, feels a bit lonesome, anxious, and sad.  I asked if I could put her address here and Karen says yes – especially if those of you who respond send cards and greetings that she can share with others who are also eager for interesting things from the outside world.

If you have a moment, send a card or short note. Say what town you are from. Talk about the weather! She probably won’t be able to answer many, but this is interesting to know. Her husband fought in WWII. Somehow Karen’s mom and dad honeymooned in Paris soon after it was liberated. They lived their lives in Indiana. Karen’s dad worked at a factory; her mom was a school nurse. If I messed this up, Karen will correct me in the comments….

Mrs. Joan Owen

Miller’s Assisted Living

625 Oakhill Ave, Apt 6

Plymouth, In. 46563


If you are on Facebook, follow Janis Ian. Yes, That Janis Ian. She posts a lot of funny stuff and occasionally intriguing things.  This was in her feed yesterday: I like the idea that maybe we can help our lungs get ready for what’s coming…

Here's some splendid advice I received from a nurse about how to guard the health of your lungs when ill. Since every bad cold I get goes straight to my lungs and turns into bronchitis, I was really happy to see this, which also includes a few things I never knew.

‘When ill, we shallow breath, and mucus settles in the bases of our lungs. This is why a viral infection is often followed by pneumonia. So doing deep breathing exercises is really important!
* Note. Holding arms above head, if you can, opens your rib cage and makes the deep breathing easier and fuller. Stretch your arms overhead when breathing deeply, period. It helps stretch out your ribcage while drawing in your breath.
Deep Breathing Exercises
1. Take in a very deep breath. Hold for 3-5 seconds. The pressure will pop open your lungs' smaller alveoli.
2. Repeat 5 times. Then cough forcefully after the 5th deep breath. Cough until mucus clears.
3. If you are congested repeat this several times an hour until your lungs feel clear.
4. You can get additional benefit from side lying in bed. Rotate to do the exercises on both sides.
Sit up in a chair. Walk around. Rest lying down intermittently but remember to do the side lying deep breathing exercises before you get up. Repeat them when you are upright.
Encourage sick children to be reasonably active when fevers are down.”


How are you?




I think that I might be one of those puppies you were talking about ( my Bad ) I have been doing that deep breathing thing for years, it's part of doing yoga ( It's not all about stretching and posing ) and it's something you can easily do while driving ( keep your hands on the wheel ) to work or the ¿¿store?? I find that it also helps me to destress since I'm not a fan of driving...

Mom will love this and all the wishes. Daddy didn’t actually fight in WWII but he served as a military policeman in France (Where I was conceived - ha) Last name is Owen - without an S. No matter. She will get it. Thank u! I want this all to be over, like all of us.
Mary Beth's picture

If others want me to publish names and addresses of people they care about who are stuck in nursing homes, send that contact info to me with a sentence of two about that person ... and I will publish the addresses as we go along.

What a cool idea. I will drop a note to your friend's Mom. I hope she understands that we aren't a bunch of crazies with bad intentions. Here is a quick story: I was a visiting nurse and had a lovely patient named Winnie. She was sort of my substitute grandma because mine was not nearby- or maybe we had been sisters in another lifetime. Anyway, we really loved each other, but eventually she needed to move to be closer to her daughter as her health got worse and her husband died. So I would write to her, but not as often as the months went by, and eventually she could not answer, or really remember me or other people, and this was really sad, because she was a lady who loved writing and receiving letters. I continued to send a note or card when I could. After she died, her daughter told me that Winnie kept all of the letters and stuff in her top drawer and would hold them and talk about them. She would ask her daughter to read them to her when her vision left her, and she often didn't realize that these were sometimes old letters being re-read. I was so honored first, to have that wonderful in-person connection and, second, to know it and also meant so much to her. I'm pretty sure we will connect again sometime in the universe.
Mary Beth's picture

This is a beautiful story. Affection and respect and love is, I am sure, what holds the world together when it feels as if it is flying apart.

Now I should write one to my own a home in Idaho. She no longer knows who I am...
Mary Beth's picture

Logically, it will make no diff if you write to your mom. But as the world is knit together by the physics of things and love - it WILL make a difference if you send love in an envelope anywhere. I'm pretty sure of it.

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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.

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