Mary Beth Writes


To whomever suggested Wonder - Thank You!  ‘Wonder’ has been bobbing in my mind like a frog in a pond.

However, I have FOUR suggestions from you guys for X - but I do not want to write four X essays. These are the suggestions:

1.) X signature substitution

2.) xylophone on a string pulled by a toddler

3.) xenophobia

4.) Xmas. 

If you have an opinion respond with the one you would like me to attempt. I will choose whichever X gets the most comments.

There will be no gerrymandering in this election.

If you live in Wisconsin, are you aware R’s in the state legislature are scheming to silence our newly elected Judge Janet Protasiewicz? They are strategizing to block her opinions because she will vote towards fair maps so R’s will lose their absolute lock on our state government.

What’s crazy is that a lot of Wisconsin IS Republican. Allowing Fair Maps doesn’t guarantee anything other than that our votes will all count equally. Also, without her voice Wisconsin women will not regain their rights to autonomy over their own bodies. This is all so craven and so nuts.

How to contact your WI reps:  Do it!

What we are doing here today is wondering about wonder. Wonder is what we do when we are so surprised by a moment or a question or a problem that we forget ourselves in order to pay attention to what’s outside ourselves.

On Monday evening Len and I pulled out of the parking structure at Froedtert Medical Center to a sky that was saffron silk behind rolling dark clouds. We drove out of the congestion of that huge medical complex into a wonder of a sunset.  

The day had been tense. In the previous week our brother-in-law noticed he didn’t feel swell. He works as a researcher (he sometimes calls himself a mouse wrangler) at that same medical complex. So, what did he do when he felt weirdly tired? He waited a couple days to see if would go away. It didn't. On Monday he had bypass surgery and here we are, a couple days later and he is doing very well. He has rehab steps ahead of him as he is fully aware of since he has actually, personally, done similar surgeries on mice.

I asked my SIL and BIL if I could use their story and they added this. “He has actually put pregnant sheep on the same kind of heart-lung bypass that he had the other night.  It's not lost on him that his research is on inflammation in blood vessels, which is part of the problem he has. Hopefully his research will help find ways of helping future patients like him.”

It’s crazy to embrace that if we were of our parents’ generation and had been their friends instead of their kids, many of us wouldn’t be here at all. Len wouldn’t. I wouldn’t. Brother-in-law sure wouldn’t. Medical care technology has changed THAT much THIS fast.

It's a Wonder.

Wonder is one of those words we tend to relegate to grand vistas or children. Have you been to the Grand Canyon? Do you remember the first time you came upon it? You knew it was going to be cool because you’ve seen the photos. But then you were walking from your camping site along a path that led to the canyon, and suddenly there it was. You stopped in your tracks and were speechless at the immensity.

And then if you are us you take a photo to put on your dresser for the next forty years because of the wonder of that moment you shared. And yes, Len did bring a cup of coffee on that walk. Oh look, so did I!

Grand vistas. Magnificent art in beautiful places. Kids stopping to look at things that fascinate them. (“Mom! Mom! I found this dead bird on the sidewalk!”) Babies watching youngsters move on their own legs. Youngsters watching teenagers be cool. Teenagers watching each other.


Where is our wonder now? Did we use it up? Is it only for young humans and people who travel? Where is wonder on a Wednesday when we are at work, or home wiping the counters, or watching TV with our cats and dogs almost on our laps?

I think wonder is the door that is always next to us. Mostly we are busy so I’m not giving us grief for the ordinary stuff we do to get through our days.

But sometimes when we are too slow, cranky, or uninspired, we can open that wonder door. It’s right next to us. Just stop in our tracks, take ourselves out of our monkey brains and into the moment we are in.

We are spinning like tops on the axis of the earth - at 735 MPH. Earth is zipping around the sun at - 67,000 MPH. Is this not wondrous enough to make us wonder what’s going on - and how we lucky we are to even be here?

If we pay attention to where we are, and what’s around us, and who is next to us, and what’s actually going on – the wonder is right here. Always.





“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

I look for small wonders every day and one of the reliable wonders is mountains. I have the one big one which appears different every time one looks, but many others in the distance in every direction which also do. About "X" -- none of them inspire me. How about xeriscaping? It provides an opportunity to discuss water conservation and environmental concerns. Of those "Xs" you present, xenophobia presents the most opportunity for exploration, but it's so negative -- and I guess that's why it should be discussed.

M.B., I agree with Kay on xeriscaping.. As a gardener I have yet to actually water my gardens this year and they seem to be thriving.. Of course I still have to water the container plants but that's been done using the water collected in the two rain barrels attached to the gutters on the house.. Be it smart planting practices or the fact that I refuse to grow grass like most people---- I don't know.. But by not using Lake Michigan water to keep my lawn green it allows you Waukesha people to use it instead.. Enjoy it but don't take it for granted or waste this amazing commodity by using it on keeping your lawns green.. As for my wonder it happens every spring as I watch the wild flowers and bulbs poke their new growth out of the soil in my garden, greeting the new growing season with the wonder of rebirth..

I agree with Leo about life moving quickly! Yes - xeriscaping.
Mary Beth's picture

I can't believe I asked which of four X words I should write about - and you are coming up with a fifth topic - about which I know extremely little. Gonna be interesting.

Chiming in to vote for xeriscaping. In Spring I always plant way too many flowers in containers. At this point of early Fall, the daily watering has become tedious.

MB, Very thankful for medical technology, guess that has something to do with getting older. Even though slogging through all the information and choices around medical care seems like a lot, there is a large amount of wonder there! Glad bypass surgery went for your BIL. Love the photo of you & Len with your coffee at the Grand Canyon! Here's to more adventures and wonder for all of us! Hugs!

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Y is for Yellowstone


Back in February I asked you to give me topics to write about that would correspond to the alphabet. Sometimes several of you sent ideas for one letter and sometimes I wrote about all of them (I’s and S’s) Here we are at letter Y for which your suggestions are Yummy Food and Yawns. The word yawn absolutely makes me yawn; no way I could write about that - I would yawn for hours. I worked on Yummy Food but could only find a scolding voice about Americans eating too much sugar. Bah. True but not interesting.

So, I gave Y a go again. Y is for?

"I was Scott Simon's teller."


First of all - Thank you to those of you who came to the Wisconsin Writers Association zoom gala last night. I HAD received an email a week ago which said I would be reading my whole story. Cutting it in half while I was reading was awkward! It was still a happy event for me and the other writers. Thanks for being there! 

X is for Xeriscape


Xeriscape is pronounced ‘zeer-eh-scape’ and it means landscaping with little to no irrigated water. Readers in the west already know about this. Those of us who don’t live in arid or desert places need to wake up to the incredible resource that water is - then begin to accommodate ourselves to “water all around and beneath us all the time” is no longer our reality. Nor is it our right. We’ve got to get smarter and do better.



Grownups Noticing Their Lives


Most of you know about my former weird and lovely job of coordinating an employability skills program for Huber-qualified inmates in the Racine County Jail (that’s a mouthful). Early on I realized that most of the people I would work with were people with 1.) huge addiction problems, and 2.) underlying and over-the-top and to-the-side just lying around mental health issues.

V is for Vocabulary


For those who are new here - This year I am writing about topics, in alphabetical order, that were suggested to me by readers. Sometimes this is hard! 


My cousin-in-law Dave has some powerfully thorough avocations (for fun and profit he earned a PhD in biochemistry; you will notice this in his list). This year, among other pursuits, he has been collecting words which have appeared in our culture since 1945, which was the year he also appeared in our culture.

My 1st Place Story is Here!


Click right here.  September 2023.pdf (

The September issue of Creative Wisconsin Magazine is now published online and you can read my story plus lots of other good writing.

Tag Cloud

9/11 17 minutes 500 Words A-Z AARPtaxes AAUW abortion Acadia accident Accountable Advent aging Alaska 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 boy scout Bread BrokenDays BuyAngry Cabeza de Vaca Cahokia calendars Canada canoe cat romance cats cello Chicago China Choosing Christmas cilantro Cinnabuns circus climate change clouds Clowns clutter Colonialism comet ComfortZone CommonSense community consumerism Cops Corvid-19 Courage Covid-19 Crazy creditreport creosote CrimeShows danger DarkRiver death Debate December DecisionFatigue decluttering democracy dentist depression Destination Today Detroit Didion disasterprep 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 groceries Guatemala gum guns Hair happiness HaveYouEver? hawks healthcare Healthinsurance hearings heart heaven HelleKBerry heroes hike History home HomeRepair Honduras Hope 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 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 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 poetry Preaching privacy procrastination Protest QE2 Quern quest Questions Rabbit holes racism reading recipe recipes recommendations Remember RepresentationMatters Reruns responsetoKapenga Retirement rhubarb Ricky rime RitesofPassage romance Rosemary Ruether Roses Roti Ruth SamaritanWoman Sanctuary Sandhillcranes Santuario de Chimayo SaraKurtz SaraRodriguez satellites ScottSimon sculpture Seasons Sermon ServantsoftheQuest sewing Shepherd Shontay ShortStory shoulder sick sickness Slower snow Social Security SofritoBandito solstice South Dakota SpaceShuttle spirituality spring square feet staining stars stele Stereotypes stories StoryStarts stream monitoring stress Survival swim Talent taxes teenager thankgsgiving Thanksgiving TheBridge TheMaid ThePerpetualYou therapy ThreeBillBoards Three Thing ThreeThings Three Things 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
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