Mary Beth Writes

Barbara 1/26/2023

A-Z means I’m writing short takes on random topics and I’m going in alphabetical order. I love this quote: “Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible.”

That’s the spirit I’m pursuing: Undisciplined, irreverent, and original.

  • A – Alaska (done)
  • B – Barbara
  • C – Cats
  • D – Danger
  • E – Echoes
  • F – Friend, ferns, fungi
  • G – Goulash
  • H, I, J, K, L,
  • M- Mothers
  • N, O, P, Q,
  • R – Reading
  • S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z

 If you have words for unclaimed alphabet letters, suggest them and I will try to go there. I like challenges..


I had my annual Medicare wellness checkup this week. These appointments exist simply to catch where and how our bodies and minds begin to deteriorate. For instance, the nurse says three words. More tests and five minutes later she asks what they were. Mine were banana, chair, sunshine. Words I can do.

Then she gave me a circle and instructed me to fill it in as a clock.

Bam. I was back in 3rd grade and inside at recess because the class learned how to tell time that day but I didn’t “get it.” Mrs. Chisolm assigned Barbara to tutor me.

Here’s the backstory. I went to school Kindergarten through 8th grade with the same 20 kids and I was a popular frog in that small pond. I got good grades; teachers were nice to me. My BF’s were Diane, Dawn, Ruth Ann, Jenny Sue, and Norma Jean.

 My burden to bear was Barbara.

I don’t know exactly why Barbara didn’t appeal to me. She was kind, smart, and well-behaved. She had a nice family and wore clean and tidy clothes. She did have some muscle tone issues; she walked a bit clumsily (not a lot). She talked a little slower than the rest of us, as if she was concentrating to get her mouth to move right. But she smiled amiably, played fair, and there was not one rude or mean thing about her. She was a sweetheart kid.

Maybe that was the problem. She was too sweet and too well-behaved and too eager to be my friend. She waited for me many mornings so that when I got off the bus, she was right there to ask if she could play with me that day. Every day for nine years this slow and earnest kid asked me to hang out with her. There are marriages that require less.

My parents and church indoctrinated in me that it was my obligation to always be kind and never be selfish. So I had to say yes to Barbara. I spent a lot of energy figuring out ways to say she could play with me AND THE OTHER GIRLS. I spent a lot of imagination inventing things to do that would allow all of us to play with Barbara, not just me.

In significant ways I was learning social skills. At the same time I was learning that what I wanted was not as important as what I was required to do for others. You can see I have thought about this as an adult. I wish adults would have helped me with this but they probably just saw kids playing and assumed all was well.

When I was 8-years-old Barbara taught me how to read a round clock.

I would be well into my 30’s before I learned how to say no when people asked me to do something I didn’t want to do - and like many adults, I still work at this.

Though I’m really good at telling time.




How about “Soulful” for the letter S?
Mary Beth's picture

As suggested by the mom of two dogs... Yes!

Coincidentally, last night I was thinking of a classmate I had in elementary school. I probably haven't thought of her in years. Her name was Linda and like Barbara, she had somewhat flacid muscle tone and a slow way of walking and talking. In gym she was chosen close to last or last for a team. Cruel systems we had back then. I hope that's been abolished. She didn't ask me to hang out with her although she lived quite closeby but I distinctly remember not wanting to. Looking back, I'm so relieved none of us picked on her although sadly she was somewhat of a loner. Poverty played a part in her life too. I know this because she invited me to her birthday party once and it was held at her house. Mattresses thrown down on the floor is one thing that comes to mind. A messy, bare bones house if there ever was one. I hope Linda did okay in her life.
Mary Beth's picture

It's something that all these years later, a small moment can bring these memories back so fast and so powerfully. And that we can still feel that awkward guilt. At least now we have some perspective. and we wish them well.
Leonard's picture

We have had dogs and we have had cats. Dogs will love you without reserve, and make you feel slightly guilty when you go out of the house without taking them. Cats have an eternal, "Oh, that you? Hi." look. Is it any wonder that we currently have two cats and no dogs?

Z - zealous or zoo. That could go a number of ways. Ha.

Add new comment


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

What Now, US Constitution?


Not sure if I wrote this post for you or for me.

I was close to the end of my volunteer shift at the Food Pantry yesterday. The morning had been tougher than usual (see the upended boxes we didn’t have time to flatten) and I was tired. Then I got this text from Len, “Don’t look at the news.”

I’ve never received anything this cryptic from Len in my life. I told my co-worker Nancy I needed to look at the news because something weird was going on.

She replied, “The Supreme Court.”

Hot Weather Diary #4


Guess what amazing thing is happening at my house right now? This has not happened in, I think, two weeks…


Yesterday evening the heat index was 100 degrees. Tonight the temperature is 70, low humidity, breezes wafting in the windows like angels’ breath.

Hot Weather Diary #3


Today was another hot one and right now, it’s still 93 degrees in my backyard.

Hot Weather Diary #2


“Time wasted at a lake is time well spent.”  (I tried to learn who wrote this; it seems to have arisen spontaneously on a Pinterest plaque for your cabin.)

There is an argument that civilization started on the banks of rivers, the oceans, and along the shores of the hundreds and thousands of lakes on our earth. Waterfront is where people and animals gather to drink, eat, cool off, and watch the youngsters while they play. Also, it’s where adults gather to chat, fish, breathe in beauty, and sometimes swim far out there where joints don’t ache and its quiet.

Hot Weather Diary #1


We all knew it was coming and here it is. A Hot Week! We are in the news! We are important! Humans around the nation, especially in the East and Midwest, will be living through a week with temps in the 80’s, 90’s and worse.

What the Dickens?

The photo is from Barnados, a childrens charity in London in the 19th century. 


Argh! I have a new phone because the old one stopped staying charged plus a few more foibles. My phone cost $400 five years ago so it makes sense that it stopped working reliably, right? If an appliance worked like this we would burn that manufacturer to the ground.

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 SCOTUS 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