Mary Beth Writes

Weird photo for no reason other than – where do you keep your horse and hunting dogs?


SE Wisconsin was a rainy, sleety, icy mess yesterday. Len was scheduled to do his AARP Tax Aide volunteering all-day gig but it’s a long drive from here so Len didn’t go. I asked if felt like a slacker. He said he felt a bit guilty but not as much as you’d think.

Skipping an activity due to bad weather is weird. It’s a gift to get a day off from the regular responsibilities until one considers Balto the dog who pulled a dogsled a bazillion miles through a subzero Alaskan blizzard. Then again, none of us will ever be as gung-ho and loyal as any average dog.

One of the things I like about “days off” (and remember, the joke here is that I am already retired) is the irrational belief that one day off will allow one to catch up on all the things. Declutter the house, call all the friends, arrange one’s summer vacation, read poetry aloud to the cats, journal one’s feelings about Contemporary Events.

Yeah, whatever.

I took a nap.

Putin decided to claim sections of Ukraine. NATO, the US, and other nations are enacting financial and diplomatic sanctions. This is intense and awful.

But there is this which surprises my soul. I have watched my nation go to war and be in wars for most of my life.

This is the first time it doesn’t seem to be completely driven by the western military-industrial complex to get oil to make the rich richer.

War sucks, but here we are, joining others to push back against border creep and a bully invasion.

On Sunday we drove to see our Chicago kids. First we visited our 3- and 5-year-old grandkids and their parents. There is a six-foot hill, more of a ridge, in their neighborhood park. You should have heard how hard they laughed when they slid down it on their sleds! Move over, Olympics. Kids and grownups playing hard and trying new tricks and shrieking and being together is so much fun to observe and join. Why do we only watch competitions? Why don’t we watch people simply doing things they like to do?

At naptime we left them to drive into the city to visit our other daughter. For those of you who remember our “pocket child” (she was and still is petite) – she now lives in Lakeview with her two cats, just finished her graduate degree in Data Science, and still watches a LOT of Law and Order. We hung out a while and then we walked around her neighborhood to buy some essentials. Such as two more plants for her apartment. Stan’s donuts. Two $15 loaves of French sourdough bread at Maison Marcel.

Whoa! Fifteen-dollar loaves of bread?


I’ve eaten in this place through many of its iterations and I hope this business makes it. Sunny, beautiful, a city place for city people and their folks visiting from out of town. We bought giant loaves of beautiful sourdough bread and gave one to our kid and brought one home.  

Sometimes when I read modern well-off people upset at the rising prices of everything what I think is – this is how much it really costs. This is the true cost to buy helpful, necessary, and wonderful products made by fairly paid people who live close to where we are.

We’ve lived so long with subsidized high fructose corn syrup and overly chemical-ed grains and dairy products that we think food ought to be cheap. Exploited worker wages have ‘subsidized’ most of what we eat. Covid and obnoxious immigrant policies have taken their toll, here we are needing to pay what things are worth - and we are shocked.

Obviously, there’s way more to this than this. No one made us buy that French bakery bread that was delicious, tough, crusty, and there’s one small piece left.

Might have to draw straws for it.







I always love hearing about ur adventures with your kids. The bread looks and sounds absolutely delicious. Ukraine and Putin. Yes, intense and awful.

Remember this place?
Mary Beth's picture

Yes, Leonard, I remember buying those long loaves of sourdough bread and tearing them into bites as we munched through eastern Canada. The best memories..

Wow, Stans donuts in Lakeview is only a 3-minute walk from our apartment. It would have been lovely to see you! Sometime you will have to try Bittersweet, a wonderful patisserie bakery on Belmont. Like the Maison Marcel bread you found, it is a bit pricey. But worth the splurge. With warm weather coming and Covid beginning to fade, call us and we can meet up with you for cinnamon rolls and coffee at Ann Sather.
Mary Beth's picture

Will do! I knew we were close...

I used to roll my eyes at bakery prices and then Jacob started his little bakery and now I happily shovel out large sums of money for anything hand made. The time, real ingredients, and all the unseen expenses are worth it. I find I am much more satisfied with half a slice of handmade sour dough than I am with two slices of Sara Lee bread at $3/loaf.
Mary Beth's picture

Yup. Totally. And when we pay a reasonable price for the ingredients, work, imagination, and skill put into the food be buy - we are less likely to let it molder into garbage.

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The picture is our wedding cake, made by my friend Karen, who drove it from Indiana to Chicago on the hottest day of that year. It was in the back seat so their two little boys had to ride in front (remember when kids could ride in front?). They got lost in the city but I didn't know that for years because Karen and her husband start early and had time to get lost and then figure it out. Sometimes wedded bliss is a lot of work. 

The following story and recipe is not about the wedding cake, but it is the photo I have...



How Do We Remember What We Remember?


The Jan 6 Hearings, huh? This is an amazing moment in US history and I’m trying to understand our incredibly intense response. Four of 10 voters have watched at least some of the hearings, which is 20,000,000 people. It’s not just me that can’t look away.

Our Terrible Canoe Adventure

The eagle photo was taken by Len - but not on this trip! 


We are fine but I have a tale to tell.

American Successes / American Failures

Did you ever have to tell the truth when it was hard? Did you ever lie to avoid a hard situation?  Did you ever know a hard, wrong thing but you told no one because it was going to be complicated and some people wouldn’t believe you and you might end up disrespected or worse for “telling on” someone else?

Most people work hard at learning truth-telling when they are 4 and 5-years old.

Molecule Moving


I didn’t know a Panoply of Dental Moments was coming my way this week, but such is life with teeth. One can brush, floss, slosh, and swish - but if one’s teeth want to crumble, they do. Yesterday I had my six-month cleaning. The hygienist said several times that I brush and floss beautifully. I was proud and thinking maybe I would give myself a “well-done” sticker when I got home. Then the dentist came in to do the check-up and said two fillings had cracks around them and needed to be replaced.

Rough Stories, Tough Week


Last Friday evening on PBS Tonight David Brooks said something like this. “I am afraid for all of us. The news just pummels us.”

There are as many tough stories as there are fingers on a closed fist. The shooting in Uvalde. The shooting in Buffalo. The corrupt power of the NRA and other obscene wealth-mongers that are destroying our society from the inside of elected reps’ pockets outwards. Ukraine. Global climate mayhem. Oh, and covid is everywhere. Less traumatic for most; long covid for some. So that’s six fingers on that pugilistic fist.

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