Mary Beth Writes

Little Women Again: Louisa May Alcott volunteered as a nurse during the Civil War. She intended to serve three months but after several weeks she became deathly ill with typhoid pneumonia and went home. Typhoid was treated at that time with a medication made with mercury. She survived typhoid but would deal the rest of her life with an autoimmune disease possibly triggered by the mercury.  

After she recovered she wrote “Civil War Hospital Sketches” which became popular. Trying to support her always-broke family, she went on to write Little Women, the story of four sisters during the Civil War era.

The war affects the story. It determines who the players are, who lives in the house and who doesn’t. Prices are high and they can’t buy as much food and as many things as they want and need. People in their community are destitute and they try to respond.

But that is how the cataclysmic Civil War affects their lives. They miss their father and worry for his health and safety. Beth will help a poor family where she will catch scarlet fever. The war is in the background, but it doesn’t feel like the business of their daily life. It’s real but hard to see.

Hitler invaded Poland September 1, 1939. England was allied with Poland, so British bombers retaliated two days later. Germany would not directly attack England until a year later. For nearly a year, if English people didn’t know someone in the RAF, they didn’t feel as if they were in a war, except for high prices. They called that year their Invisible War.

Do you see where I am going?

Scientists tell us we are in an epic worldwide pandemic. Yet, this crisis seems invisible except for higher prices and weirdly inconvenient rules.

Because most of us we can’t see it right here right now, this crisis doesn’t seem genuine. Closed businesses, economic craziness, and bad politics are what we see. We don’t see the disease. We don’t see people coughing, exhausted, scared. We don’t see inside nursing homes under siege. The health crisis itself is invisible to most of us, so we don’t believe it and we don’t believe it has much to do with us or we have much to do with it.

It's weird that to be people of faith these days – we have to live and act as if a crisis exists. Because it does.

I’m just back from a walk. I hadn’t been out walking since before the Supreme Court struck down the Safer at Home protocols.

I was out not even five minutes when I began to notice that this is pre-Covid Waukesha. Lots of people are out and about. Small clumps of folks (maybe just family, maybe not) are relaxing at a park along the river. The restaurant and bar I walked past each had their doors open and there were lots of people inside. I didn’t check for masks. Not my job. I had to wait at intersections for the walk light because there is the regular amount of traffic again.

I hope I am wrong to worry. I hope everyone is okay and will stay okay. People are definitely out and about in Wisconsin again.

Along the railroad tracks near my house some random apple trees are blooming. When I was a kid moseying around the fields and woods near where I lived, I picked apple blossom branches in the spring. I never had a proper knife with me, so I would wrangle the branches off the tree, which was hard to do. I generally mangled the blossoms in the process. Whatever. I went ‘mano a mano’ with those trees way back in the woods, planted by settlers long gone. I saw history before I read it.

Now I take a photo with my phone. I still don’t have a knife with me, but my phone is handy.

 What seems more real in your life?

Newly blooming spring or the Covid-19 crisis?

...

 

A. E. Housman (1859–1936). A Shropshire Lad. 1896.

 II. Loveliest of trees, the cherry now

 

LOVELIEST of trees, the cherry now         

Is hung with bloom along the bough,      

And stands about the woodland ride      

Wearing white for Eastertide.    

 

Now, of my threescore years and ten,         

Twenty will not come again,       

And take from seventy springs a score,  

It only leaves me fifty more.       

 

And since to look at things in bloom        

Fifty springs are little room,            

About the woodlands I will go    

To see the cherry hung with snow.          

 

Comments

Yesterday I spoke on the phone for nearly 4hrs with that special person I met online 3 months ago... We've both decided covid or not to finally meet in person in the first part of June... He said that he just can't wait any longer and neither can I... We've both been careful about distancing ourselves from people, I because I caregive for someone highly susceptible to anything that can compromise his breathing... Him because he works from home and has a sister who's a nurse and is hyper vigilante to what's going on out there... Today I took my bike ride to the nice park in Kenosha only to find the wonderful trails filled with family's so I didn't do the trails and stayed far away from my fellow humans by choice... My sister sent me an interview a few days ago from a bar in Milwaukee of a ER nurse partying after the lockdown was lifted... Yesterday she said that the hospital had put this insane woman on a 14 day quarantine and she has to issue a public appology for her actions... This is insane...
Mary Beth's picture

I saw that woman also. thing is, she wasn't rude or threatening, she looked like a nice person. The bar was her sister's bar and, she said in her apology, "I just forgot to bring my mask and I'm sorry." It boggles the mind that people don't "get" this.

Oh, there is much more with her (the nurse in the bar) than I can tell here. Yes, I know her. Not a good situation at all and it seems to reflect poorly on many of us nurses. Some of my northern Illinois family and friends are feeling so happy that they can easily and conveniently head up across the border to bars, restaurants, and stores so they can mingle and share microbes, then head back here to share with everyone who tries hard to stay home except for prescription pick-ups, doctor visits, minimal shopping... all it takes is one careless, selfish person to change lives for dozens who didn't really invite the consequences. I'm so frustrated.

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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.

But...

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. https://lithub.com/. Life is weird. The day after I read it, Mr. Lopez died.

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