Mary Beth Writes



Don't be so lazy. Pick up that bowl and dust UNDER it. Anything worth doing is worth doing well.

Cleanliness is next to Godliness.

Your house is always so lovely and tidy.

You (write, weave, carve, sing, run races, climb rocks, lead tours, play volleyball, speak other languages, create art …) really well. Why don’t you do more of it?


Whites only. The Colored fountain is behind the station.

Thank goodness we finally gave them their rights. That injustice really bothered me.

Why are they so unmotivated to get ahead?

We welcome everyone to our Sunday school.

I wonder why no minorities runs for school board in this town.

Their young men are so dangerous.


Young people these days are fatter than we were in our generation.

Ah, most of the gals are not stuffing their Thanksgiving turkeys anymore. Just roast it dry and you can buy stuffing kits that are much tastier and so much easier.

Women do too much work around the house.

Why don’t people cook real food anymore? Women weren’t so lazy in our generation.


We take care of our own.

The world is going to hell in a handbasket.

Do you shop for Fair Trade products? 

Oh, I can’t afford Fair Trade chocolate or coffee. That stuff is nearly double grocery store prices.

Yes, I give money frequently to organizations that help those poor people in Africa.

We need a change in Washington. Prices are way too high.

Did you hear that because of the war in Ukraine the price of wheat will keep going up and up and it will cause hunger and starvation in many places around the world?

A penny saved is a penny earned.


Oh Honey, look how high you can jump!

Oops, you fell down. Want to sit on my lap for a couple minutes until it stops stinging?

Congratulations on achieving Honor Roll while you are still in elementary school! You are good at paying attention and figuring things out.

You’re graduating from Nursing School?  I knew from when you were a toddler you were going places.


Of for crying out loud, it’s just a little scrape.

You had a bad day at school? Well join the human race. Think I like my job?

Complaining only makes it worse.

Big kids don’t cry.

I’m so sorry you have this advanced disease. You waited longer than most to start dealing with it. I don’t mean to make you feel worse than you already do, but why did you wait so long to come in?


Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

You’re too old to feel this glum.

All you have to do is get up and try harder.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

I wonder why she quit our group and moved across the country? Doesn’t she miss us?



I hear voices telling me to try harder and work more and not be so sensitive. I hear voices telling me I’m interesting to listen to and that I try hard things and I make the world safe for mistakes. (I love that last one).  So much of our adult lives are constrained - or opened up - by the echoes of people far away and long gone.

What echoes still reverberate in your mind?  










Leonard's picture

There is a very good Mary Oliver poem, "The Journey." (You can't click on this link, but you can copy it and paste it in your browser.)

You're flighty like Aunty Gladys. Christine can draw very well. You're so damn dumb. You got all A's again! The Irish get everything in this city. Your sister has a beautiful figure. Cats are a dime a dozen. You did what you thought was right at the time...don't beat yourself up. Try prayer. Blondes look wishy washy. Christine has lots of friends. Your sister is a fabulous cook! You have a lot of patience Christine. In fact, you were even a patient baby. Look in the mirror and know you did your best today.
Mary Beth's picture

This is poetry. Thank you. I hear it.

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

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.

W is for Wonder


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.



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.

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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