Mary Beth Writes

1. This morning I was texting with Franc about our heritages. He was born and raised in the Midwest although his ancestors are from Puerto Rico. Being the child of children of a Caribbean Island means he probably has Taino DNA as well as African and European. Heck, he probably has Phoenician and Viking and Pacific Islander because island people and sailors have always thought each other cute.

This is the thing that occurred to me. We know that around 9/10’s of ALL native ‘New World’ people perished in the first 150 year after European contact. They died from relentless epidemics, from the brutal conditions of enslavement, from wars.

Which means it’s amazing that any person with mostly new world DNA is here at all. So many humans died, yet somehow his foremothers and forefathers survived and kept going. His existence is a heritage of endurance, tenacity, perseverance, and luck.

He also explained this phenomenon, which is weirdly functional/dysfunctional. His parents frequently told their kids all the ways in which they were ugly, lazy, and unclever. Psychological abuse was a thing in his family. He and his siblings (some more than others) had to grow up in the face of the ever-present disapproval of his mom and dad.

Franc just learned recently that this is not an uncommon in parents descended from enslaved people.


If you were enslaved as well as the parent of a gorgeous and beloved kid, the LAST thing you could afford was for that kid to feel bright and empowered. Smart and articulate kids were the first ones chosen to be exploited and sold. Parents did their best to keep the lights off in their kids’ eyes. Don’t tell them how much they are loved. Don’t tell them they are marvelous. Kids with self-esteem have a rockier road than kids who appear dull. Enslaved parents learned how to raise kids to plod along with their heads down.

This was a dynamic in Franc’s family and is true in many families who still carry the severe cautions learned in enslavement.

2. My family: When Sweden no longer worked for my ancestors because of both famine and religious oppression, my people immigrated to Michigan. I have often felt that moving from my hometown to Chicago to Racine to here was part of the banquet of DNA solutions passed along to me.  

When one is everyday unhappy - numb those feelings with cinnamon buns. When one is truly perplexed about how to go forward - move.

What have you done in your life that maybe didn’t make immediately sense to your family and friends, but if you stand at a distance and look backwards … Yup, some great-great-great-Gran handed that solution on to you?

3. This week was our last week of daily reading, drawing, and playing dollhouse with our granddaughter. We have a lot of feelings about this.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday we were having a birthday party in the dollhouse for the Golden-Haired Princess and the Magical Baby Princess. The Bad Guys came to the party until they burped too loud and the Baby Princess knocked them over and they cried all their way back to their barn. Boy, was our kid laughing, which makes us laugh really hard, also.

Anyways, she said fairies had to come to the party. We do not have designated fairies, so we would have to invent them. Len picked up some tiny dolls we’ve had 20 years. They have tiny calico dresses and felt shawls. 

“Grandpa! Fairies don’t wear sweaters!”

I hope you have a pretty good holiday weekend. Stay safe. Wear your mask. If you end up in crowded places, do like Bill Clinton and don’t inhale.


My DNA profile is Spanish, Taino Indian, and northern African, and some European... The Spanish were notorious for keeping and dealing in the slave trade for their sugarcane plantations... As I had just texted M.B. earlier, I was saying that dating Mr. P. an Anglo (Bless his battered heart) from a small Town outside of New York has had it's culture clashes because some of the things that I say affectionately and with love get misinterpreted in a way that I have to sit down and explain the background of (NOT always easy to do)... When I've mentioned this to my sister, cousins or the woman who explained this phenomena to me who is half Puerto Rican, and was raised in a large mixed generational family of 15, they have all basically said the same thing "Don't bring him to any family gatherings because he'll be eaten alive if he's that thin skinned... We certainly can look a fright and like we are messed up to someone looking at us from another culture (Some of us are just in case anyone is wondering)... But it's mostly just loving banter to us and mostly non abusive (Mostly but not always, as I can personally attest to)... There is a thin line...
Mary Beth's picture

Those thin lines...

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Cabeza de Vaca & Company: A 500-Year Old Story for Our Time.

I’ve been thinking about Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca for years and I’ve also been thinking about him for a week.

It’s crazy out there in the world right now and people are, I think, kinda sick of each other. Racism, sexism, and classism are the muck we walk through to get to our cars while our climate is turning into flying monkeys. And the rich keep getting richer.

So let me tell you about a guy I admire.

Three Things 9/11/2021

The photo is from a trip to Arizona that Len and I took several years ago. His employer had said he had to take vacation time.  We sat here in our office not knowing where to go or what to do; it came up that fast. We looked up cheap flights from Milwaukee,; Phoenix popped up for $150 round trip. That was how we decided.

Of course, we rented a car and stayed in motels and ate in restaurants so no, it wasn’t a $300 vacation.

Three Things 9/2/2021

Regarding Texas: I’m so angry today.

From The Buried: An Archeology of the Egyptian Revolution by Peter Hessler

Hessler is making a case that a significant reason for the failure of Egyptian governments is because citizens are not looking for competent political leaders. They vote for men who lambast the “corruption and immorality” of present leaders. They vote for those who promise a “return to our traditional Islamist values.”

Three Things 8/25/2021


Where did these damn fruit flies come from? I borrowed a 400-page book from the library yesterday and just finished it an hour ago. ONE fruit fly bumped me every twenty minutes through the whole damn tome. I hit at it every time it zipped past but I never zapped it.

I’ll get him (or her?). I put an inch of apple cider vinegar into a glass, covered it with plastic wrap, punched some tiny holes, set it next to our fruit.

Bugs bug me.


Is it really August already?

I woke up this morning feeling wistful. It’s the third week of August. Where did this summer go?

I have not ridden my bike even once (there are giant construction trucks all over my favorite route). We’ve hardly entertained friends at our Bistro (the apron of the garage that I painted last year). We’ve not traveled other than to see our kids. My six tomato plants are producing an unenergetic number of tomatoes. Didn’t see the Perseids. Didn’t serve umbrella drinks by our pool. Oh wait, we don’t have a pool.

Len is Raising $ for the MAAC Fund Again

About this photo: these are the four guys who first started riding together, years ago. Jack heard about the MACC fund, so they all did it together. Last year, out riding one fine day for the fun and exercise of it, Tom, the tall guy, suffered a terrible accident and passed away. Sometimes when they ride together now, Tom's humorous and kind spirit accompanies them. 


This is the MACC Fund

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