Mary Beth Writes

Well, first off… it’s SNOWING! Friday morning, May 8th and it is snowing enough that the view out my office window is hazy with falling snow. Sheesh!

The message the Trump administration is trying to sell us is that Everything is Fine. If someone says otherwise Trump silences them by firing them, transferring them, or moving them out of media events. We know this. We see it and it is infuriating and scary.

Some businesses are opening up which seems like a sign that things will revert to normal soon. It will not. Many of us are in a (lucky) situation where we don’t know someone sick with Covid, so it doesn’t seem real. Spring seems real. Screwball snow followed by a sunny afternoon seems real. My friends emailing interesting things, and reading to my granddaughter, and thinking about planting tomatoes – that all seems far more real than coronavirus.

Keep your guard up and I will, too. We are not even close to fine yet.

Unemployment figures are out and congratulations, our grandparents no long win “Worst American Economy Ever.” About a fifth of our jobs have vamoosed and because of that, all the rest are in jeopardy. Unless and until government can invent a cohesive approach to this crisis (bet it won’t be Trump’s administration) we are in a Wiley Coyote economic plummet.

I have two things to say.

One - is that we who are retired are missing the brunt of this. Those of us with assets and stability have GOT to keep our eyes peeled for what we can share and do.

Two – somewhere along the line I want American subsidies to American people to be tied to American asset building. Sure, we will pay your rent because there is a not a safe job to be had, but here are the free online trainings for forklift certification, for CNA certification, and for Food Safety in hospital settings protocols. And now this person has a few more assets on their resume.  

Need more food assistance? Of course you do because you have a family to feed. So here are online cooking classes for everyone over age 12 in your family. Specializing in how to cook greens and beans and how to use appliances that help turn cheap foods into delicious meals – such as Insta-pots and slow cookers. When the online tests are completed and passed, not only do you get increased food assistance, you also get Insta-pots and slow cookers.

Sure, we will raise and extend your unemployment checks but here are American history, American literature, and American civic classes that you need to take and pass.  Online and taught by people who recently earned their MA’s and PhD’s in the above subjects. And now they can put this experience on THEIR resumes.

You need a tablet or laptop or smart phone? Come to our local county social services site and we will give you one, but you can’t take it home until you have taken the 2-4 hours class on how to utilize it most efficiently and you have passed a not-too-hard test. And filled out a couple online job apps, so we know you can do it.

This is how you build a stronger nation. Let people learn more of the abstract and concrete skills of being a citizen in a complicated society in an at-risk time.

I dream of a society where we teach civics again. 

The opening photo is of the Michigan state capitol. I visited it in 8th grade along with the rest of my 8th grade class. We had studied state civics classes every Friday afternoon for a year and the reward was that awesome overnight trip to Lansing. 




I do believe that those who will do best in this crisis are the ones who will be creative and dare to think outside the box. You shared some good ideas, Mary Beth!

The community college here has two classes: American National Politics and State and Local Politics, and I took them to get a second Associates degree as a senior. did I take them because they seemed interesting or I wanted to increase my knowledge? No, I took them because they were mandatory for that degree! And I think they should be mandatory for any degree or certificate. I learned stuff I should have known my whole life! This should be mandatory in high school! In junior high we had to pass a "constitution test" and possibly again in high school. I memorized enough facts to pass. But bless my college instructor who brought it to life, and required us to define our beliefs, learn to research, learn about valid sources (NOT most TV news), communicate with our town, county, state, and national elected and unelected officials, attend political meetings and so much more! And it cost maybe a hundred or two hundred dollars to learn all of this. I'm still content with who I had voted for all these years, but maybe for some of the wrong reasons. I just couldn't get over how uninformed I had been, and I could cry or go crazy to see how uninformed some other people are!
Mary Beth's picture

Somehow we MUST figure out that the most important asset this nation has - is our minds - which we hone and protect with education. News is mostly sensational stories. "Critical thinking" is disrespected as something for eggheads to do. It's so nuts and its so dangerous.
Leonard's picture

In addition to all the free stuff on YouTube and Vimeo, and the (not free but pretty) cheap online courses, there are some valuable courses available from the Public Library. These are subscriber-only classes that are free to you through your library card. My library offers Gale classes, but there are others. Libraries never cease to amaze me! (Waukesha classes are at

When I was in 8th grade, back in the Dark Ages before it was known as Middle School, we spent a year in history class studying the Constitution. It was great. The teacher added the study of politics (it was an election year), and other citizen-related issues. Like I said, it was great. I can't any longer remember what the 8 powers of the President are, but I do remember that he had only 8. Also, Renee told me that Coursera is offering their online classes for free during this time, and some of them lead to certificates that people can use for, say, IT jobs. I haven't looked at the course list, but it would be worth doing. Sedgwick

Add new comment


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

Susan's Birthday Questions 10/19/2020

(One decorates for October birthdays with orange trees.) 

Last week was my birthday. My niece Susan sometimes sends me birthday greetings where she asks excellent questions. She doesn’t know I still have the card she sent six years ago; I meant to answer her questions in the blog I had then, but I never got around to it.

Stereotypes Day

Today is October 12th - Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Not Columbus Day, okay?

I was in the process of giving birth to one of our kids and it was getting on towards midnight. The midwife wondered whether our baby would be born on the day we were in or whether it would be a few more minutes and then the child would have the next day as their birthday.

10/11/2020 This Crazy Advent We're In Now

This painting is by Andrea Kowch


Regarding Time: It’s been about a million months since the quarantine started. It will be an at least one epoch if not two, until a vaccine is available to quell it. Election Day is here now (I’ve already voted, have you?) yet it feels as if it will never be done and gone. Even when Nov 3 arrives we could be in for more epochs of anxious and angry waiting as ballots are tallied, argued over, recounted, all while lawyers and politicians fight and scrap.

Quarantine Diary #204 10/4/2020 3 Short Takes

Three things to say today and none are about our goatish, swag-bellied, canket-blossomed president. How to create a Shakespearean insult. 

1. I just read this WONDERFUL and REMARKABLE book! The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

Quarantine Diary #200 The Debate

Regarding that Debate. 

I’ve been at a zoo when a cranky monkey starts throwing poop. That remembrance came to me last night. Watching Uncle Joe try to answer questions while Trump trash talked everybody and everything except white supremacists – that was damn ugly.

Quarantine Diary #198 Who we still are ...

I’ve been trying and trying to write but it hasn’t happened so this morning I looked at some of my old stuff and found this from ten days after 9/11. Made me remember who we are.

I think the miserable karma of Trump is happening. I hope we will be okay. I’m not sure how talk about the harm he has done and is doing now. 

But we … we are still who we are.

The flowers in the photo were a surprise gift, just yesterday, from a friend.

I have edited it a bit. 

September 21, 2001 Lost in Racine - An Aftermath of Civility

Tag Cloud

9/11 17 minutes AARPtaxes AAUW Acadia Accountable apples Arrows Augustine baby balance Baldwin Barkskins Beauty Becky Berry birthday bistro BookReport boy scout Bread BrokenDays BuyAngry Cahokia calendars Canada cello Choosing Christmas cilantro Cinnabuns circus clouds Clowns clutter comet ComfortZone CommonSense consumerism Cops Corvid-19 Courage Covid-19 Crazy creditreport CrimeShows death Debate December DecisionFatigue decluttering Detroit Dreams Duty eBay Eclipse EmilyDickinson 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 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 Manitoulin MargaretFuller Maria Hamilton Marquette marriage Mayan MayaWorks MindfulChickens Mistakes 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 Reruns responsetoKapenga Retirement 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 Stereotypes StoryStarts Survival swim taxes teenager 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