Mary Beth Writes

Two recent tweets : Someone named Kate Harding tweeted; “What haunts me is that I am not just smart enough for so many people to be this much stupider than me.”

And from Di, Obstinate Hoper; “I’m starting to think of pandemic caution like labor: buckle down during peaks, relax a little between them. Hang in there, folks. It’s a damn long labor.”

About ten days ago I first heard the word omicron; last Tuesday I was still mispelling it. Then on Wednesday it changed our family’s plans to get together for Christmas yesterday. The Illinois family with kids in daycare did not all attend because their daycare center is devising stricter protocals, trying to keep their staff and 100-plus little kids safe. So just my daughter came; awesome son-in-law stayed home with the kiddos.  

We would like to visit them on Christmas so we are isolating this week to avoid potential exposure to this virulent virus variant.

Three vaccines and 645 days of masks and social distancing - and all of us are still in this worldwide epidemic because of some of us. Like Harding said: I’m not smart enough for this many people to be stupider than me. By which I mean people choosing to not get vaccinated. People choosing to not wear masks in populated places. People choosing to not make worldwide distribution of vaccines a priority. What planet do they think we are all living on?

Since I’m going to be home a lot again maybe can re-up the Quarantine Diary. I can try.

Mary sent me this quote from bell hooks. “No black woman writer in this culture can write “too much”. Indeed, no woman write can write “too much” … no woman has ever written enough.”

I thought about that for a day. Then (started this last Thursday) I asked myself, “What is a thing I’m doing today that has its roots in the times and places I have come from and through? What has no woman written enough about that actually says a lot about being a woman? Where does my personal experience today touch that question?”

This: I made granola this morning.  It’s in the oven now and my house smells wonderful. I know how to bake many things that my mom and grandmas made – but none of them made granola. Granola is just mine.

The first time I even read the word “granola” was in Seventeen magazine when I was (wait for it) seventeen. I don’t remember the plot of the story I was reading other than the protagonist wanted to go to the University of Chicago where she wanted to meet the kind of people who ate yoghurt and granola.  And yeah, she spelled it yoghurt. 

That’s what I remember. I was a kid who, like every kid, needed her own path into her own damn life. If a young person doesn’t find their path, they end up either as copies of their parents or adults who define themselves as everything their parents are not. I couldn’t have verbalized that then, but the dynamic was at work inside me. What am I curious about? What do I want to know more about?

It’s the work of adolescence to discover what one is interested in and then try to go that way, often the clues to that path are unbelievably subtle. Like wanting to know what yoghurt is and where one can find granola. I eventually figured out those foods were traditional foods currently eaten by beatniks, poets, health nuts, and hippies. I guess I intuited that those people might become my people.

Granola took me places. It was a small and hardly noticeable clue that I was going to go where people valued it. When I found my people, they were likely going to be women and men with curiosity, questions, and energy.

So one of the bounces from thinking about granola is this. As of today, I realize this granola thing is why some people ridicule some people for being “crunchy.”  There are folks out there using “crunchy” as a stereotype. If one chooses to think twice about the food they eat, the way they raise their kids, the cars they drive, what kind of medical care they seek and when they seek it – sometimes choices are called “crunchy’’ and dismissed. 

This judgementalism of some people/women about other people/women is crazy and toxic. Just saying.  If you feel as if people are judging you for choices as innocuous as “granola; yes or no?” – lose those people and lose those thoughts. 

I can hear Mary (and other BFF’s in my life) shaking their head at me. “How do you even remember that old stuff, MB?  How do you remember such a boring detail from a magazine short story you read 50 years ago?”  Okay, I will admit it’s humorous what my brain remembers and forgets. Brains are like that. 

But here is a better question. What have YOU read in the past 10-50 years that you still remember? What plot or detail do you remember? The way a room was described?  The specific way a bad guy approached a victim?  What kind of dog saved what kind of kid? 

Sometimes we pay too much attention to what we, as fully mature and responsible adults (hah) think we ought to pay attention to. 

If we lean back, take some deep breaths, put down our phones and tasks and books and let our minds wander – what do we remember?  As a writer and human being, I think a lot of our fulfilled and unfulfilled hopes and dreams are in the specifics of those quiet old memories.

Okay, you want to know how I make granola? I’ve got 40-some years of granola assembling in me and this is what I know. I first learned from the recipe in More with Less cookbook which was the most illuminating and helpful cookbook of my life. Very crunchy.

Decide how much granola you want to end up with. I make 10-20 cups at a time, depending on how much I want to share.  You will have to mix it later so you want a big bowl or a tall-sided soup pot so it won’t fall out in the mixing.

Whatever amount your want, half of that amount is dry oatmeal.

Take the same bowl or quart measuring container you just measured out your oatmeal into - and begin to fill it to the same amount with whatever hearty ingredients you have. Wheat germ, wheat bran, seeds, nuts, cornmeal, whole wheat flour, flaxseeds, chia, cereals, and on and on.

I usually add only a half-cup of the priciest items.  Half cup of chia, brans and germs, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds.

Add some flours and/or cornmeal because as you stir and bake, those flours clump with other ingredients to make those lovely, desirable crunchy granola lumps.

Here is the secret to affording this stuff: cheerios and cornflakes, probably house brand.  Add several cups of these cereals.

When you have the dry ingredients in your containers add 1 to 1 ½ cups vegetable or corn oil plus one cup of brown sugar.

Stir this all about 50 stirs and then pour into a large flat pan. I used an ‘disposable’ aluminum turkey pan for years.

Bake/dry in a 225 over for 2-3 hours. 

Every single time I have make this, I use different amounts and ingredients. 

This was Thursday’s granola. 10 cups oatmeal, ½ c cornmeal, 1 c wheat germ, ½ c sesame seeds, ¾ c sunflower seeds, 1 c chopped walnuts, ¾ c flax seeds, ½ c chopped pepitas, 1/3 c chia seeds, ¾ c whole wheat flour, 3 c cheerios, 2 c cornflakes, 1 c brown sugar, 1 ½ c corn oil.

Add dried fruit when you eat it, not in the making/baking process. Otherwise you end up with tooth breakers.

When my son was a teenager, I used way more cereals because no one can afford to fill a teenage boy on chia seeds. These days I make it healthy and rich, because my adult kids and Len and I mostly eat it as a topping on plain cereals (and, um, ice cream).  Then again, these days son takes it hunting and fishing to eat by the handful at dawn.  




As always I'm charmed by your very engaging voice. I loved the shift from remembering bell hooks to fond memories of making granola then and now.
Mary Beth's picture

Thanks. You and I are a mutual admiration society.

Always look forward to your musings!!!
Leonard's picture

The pandemic diary was the best about a horrible time. It let us share stories and reminded us all that it wasn’t just us thinking the world seemed crazy - it really was crazy. It looks like we need to start it up again: Pandemic Diary 2.0.

Agreed! MB, please help us stick together through the new version of this craziness. Let's lock arms and do this! Merry Christmas!
Mary Beth's picture

Yes, I'll be part of this. Several can do together what one gets anxious about doing alone - says the woman trying to run a program, with no training, in a new office, all those years ago. Lordy, even the copier intimidated me. and then there was you running Richardson's (was that his name?) corner office, saying, "Oh for Pete's sake, that's easy, I can do it."

I've always wanted to make granola. Maybe I didn't think I was crunchy enough? Totally going to try this out. Thanks! Women need to share all of it... Everything. Knowledge is power, especially when it's communal.

As soon as Christmas week is over —— granola is on my list!

You had me at "no woman has ever written enough." Keep writing! Patricia
Mary Beth's picture

Thanks more than I can say!

Thank you so much for this post! It echoes my feelings about yet another Covid flare, and the choices people make! Love your take on memories, a young person finding their path, women writers, and granola. Thanks for your role in helping me emerge from a house of cards world view through those late night talks and trips to Chicago!! Here's a friend's warm childhood memory of learning to love and read the night sky. Sharon has a 40 acre farm nestled below North Mountain in Rockingham County , VA. She grew up in farming country near Philadelphia. Her farm in VA.has become a retreat/ nature center called Starry Meadows. She and her husband completed master Naturalist training during the pandemic. She leads Wildflower walks, and birding walks, and some nature based reflection/ spiritual walks. She remembers vividly the summer evenings when it got dark, her Mom would take the kids outside, spread a blanket. and all the kids and she would lie down on their backs and star gaze, learning the constellations, and the the beauty of the night sky! Hence the name: Starry Meadows! Keep on writing!!!!!
Mary Beth's picture

Here is how we fill our kids' souls and our souls. With light and adventure and memories. Thanks..

The writing matters. Your writing matters. I’m going to reach way back. I still own my very tattered copy of “Reinventing Home”. There is an essay before its time, on saying No. Just No. The full sentence, No. I have never forgotten that essay.
Mary Beth's picture

Holy Cow I forgot about that. Sometime soon (not today) I will find it and retype it and post it here. Those essays were written on our Apple IIC. Whew... Thanks!

Add new comment


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

"It's Good for You" Pizza

The Best Pizza Ever is in Madison 

Click here for their info:   “It’s Good For You”   

Last weekend, while out of town, we decided to stop for a pizza at the place where our son works one night per week. If you know my kid, you know he was manager of an artisanal pizza place for years. He doesn’t miss managing an entire restaurant. Apparently, he DOES miss making spectacular pies and then baking them at temps high enough to burn the hair off his arms.

What’s Scary & What’s Not Scary


Happy Halloween! I think because this is mostly a kid’s holiday, it tends to evoke a lot of sweet and funny memories from our childhoods and then of our kids.

Remember when we (who are now antique kids) collected candy in paper grocery bags that we had decorated with crayons? And then it would rain and one would have to carry the bag in both arms and run between houses while drenched and noisy and not even caring?

Obviously I remember that.

Frugality Hacks or how I saved $64,000,000, so far.

I read the ‘frugal things I did’ letters in other people’s huge and interesting frugality blogs. I figured I could list some of the ways I saved some money this week (this life). I’m pleased to say I saved about 64 Million.

Frugal? Road Trip to New Mexico

If our finances were stretched we wouldn’t have gone to New Mexico. We are doing fine despite the advice that says one ought to retire with a million dollars in the bank. Imagine that.

1. We and, at this point, about half the nation, have had our Covid vaccines so we felt safe and ready to see something new. However, we traveled to a place where they had worked WITH the effort to fight this pandemic. This limited our choices and is the #1 reason we didn’t go to the Badlands. How we spend $ is our power.

The Mindful Chickens are Wordy Today

Other people call them “frugal things I did lately”. I call them Mindful Chickens because they are about:

  • Being Cheap (cheap, cheep).
  • Being thoughtful about how choices affect our community and our earth.
  • Paying attention to the constant tumble of dollars and choices.

This is my collection of wise choices and dastardly schemes from the last two months.

ONE: Our electric toothbrush/water pick would no longer hold a charge but a new one costs more than $100. Len took it to the battery store where they replaced it for $15.

Mindful Chickens - Plastic & Hunger 12/20/2020

I went for a walk on Wednesday and saw this mitten on a sidewalk. When I was at the same spot on Friday, it was still there, so I brought it home because it is a hand-knitted kid mitten, ya know? Any knitters out there interested in making it a mate, so that we could give it to a kid in my community or your? It's 7" from top to ribbed bottom. 


The point of “Mindful Chickens” is to spend less money while being mindful of the environment and our human values. We can try, right?

Tag Cloud

9/11 17 minutes 500 Words A-Z AARPtaxes AAUW abortion Acadia accident Accountable Advent afterlife aging Alaska animals anniversary antibiotics antlers apples appointments Arrows art Ashland August Augustine aunts baby Badlands balance Baldwin Barbara Barkskins Beauty Becky Becoming Esther Berry birthday bistro BLM Blue BookReport books Boxing Day boy scout Bread breakfast BreakfastClub BrokenDays BuyAngry Cabeza de Vaca Cahokia calendars Canada canoe cat romance cats cello Chicago China cholesterol Choosing Christmas cilantro Cinnabuns circus climate change clouds Clowns clutter Colonialism comet ComfortZone CommonSense community confluence consumerism Cops Corvid-19 Courage Covid-19 Crazy creditreport creosote crime CrimeShows danger DarkRiver death Debate December DecisionFatigue decluttering deer democracy dentist depression Destination Today Detroit Dickens Didion disasterprep distraction dogs dollhouse Dreams Duty Easter eBay Echoes Eclipse election EmilyDickinson eschatology Esquipulas exit polls eyes Fable FairTrade family farmer Fata Morgana ferns firealarm Fitness Five Flatbread Flexible flu Food Pantry Fort de Chartres frame Franc FrancGarcia friends frugal FrugalHacks Frugality frustration Ft.Ticonderoga fungi fusion Galena Gannets Garden GarfieldParkConservatory Gaspe genius geode GeorgeFloyd gerrymandering ghosts gifts girls GNTL gorgons goulash GovernorThompsonStatePark Graduation grandkids granola Grief groceries Guadalupe Guatemala gum guns Hair happiness HaveYouEver? hawks healthcare Healthinsurance hearings heart heaven HelleKBerry heroes hike History home HomeRepair Honduras Hope HotWeather HowCrowGotOutofJail humor hurricane Ice Cream idiosyncrasy igloos impeachment Innkeeper Instincts integrity InternetPrivacy Interview InviteMe2Speak James Baldwin Jan 6 Janus jewelry JoyceAndrews Judy JulianofNorwich Jump justice Karen kites ladder Lady Lamb LangstonHuges LaphamPeak laundry LeeLeeMcKnight lemming Len lies Light Lincoln Little Women LockedOut Loki loneliness LouisArmstrong Love Ludington Macaw macho Manitoulin MargaretFuller Maria Hamilton Marquette marriage Marsden Hartley masks Mayan MayaWorks meme Memories men Middlemarch MilesWallyDiego MindfulChickens MineralPoint Mistakes MLK moon Mother MothersDay mounds mouser movies museums must-haves Mustapha NAMI Nancy Drew Newfoundland New Mexico New York City Nomadland nope observation OBUUC Ocotillo OnaJudge ordinary OscarRomero osprey Outside oximeter Parade mayhem PastorBettyRendon Paul Hessert PDQ Penny persimmon photos Pi Pies pineapples pizza poetry Preaching privacy procrastination Protest QE2 Quern quest Questions Rabbit holes racism reading recipe recipes recommendations religion Remember RepresentationMatters Reruns responsetoKapenga Retirement rhubarb Ricky rime RitesofPassage romance Rosemary Ruether Roses Roti Ruth SamaritanWoman Sanctuary Sandhillcranes Santuario de Chimayo SaraKurtz SaraRodriguez satellites sci-fi ScottSimon sculpture scuppernong Seasons Sermon ServantsoftheQuest sewing Shepherd Shontay ShortStory shoulder sick sickness Slower snow Social Security SofritoBandito solstice South Dakota SpaceShuttle spirituality spring square feet St. Louis staining stars stele Stereotypes stories StoryStarts stream monitoring stress SUBSTACK Survival swan swim Talent taxes teenager thankgsgiving Thanksgiving TheBridge TheMaid ThePerpetualYou therapy ThreeBillBoards Three Thing Three Things ThreeThings TidalBore TimeBeing toddler Tom tortillas Trains travel Traveler Tubing turtle Twilight Bark Tyrone Ukraine Ulysses Grant Umbrella UnrelatedObservations Up North urgency vacation vaccine Valentines vanilla Vietnam vision VivianWokeUpDrowning Vocabulary vole volunteer WalkingAndSeeing Wampanaog war WarsanShire weather weaving Webs wedding whines WhyAttendChurch Wiley Willa WillaCather Wisteria Won! Wonder words Xeriscape Yellowstone Zebra
Ad Promotion