Mary Beth Writes

(One decorates for October birthdays with orange trees.) 

Last week was my birthday. My niece Susan sometimes sends me birthday greetings where she asks excellent questions. She doesn’t know I still have the card she sent six years ago; I meant to answer her questions in the blog I had then, but I never got around to it.

Since I have this year’s card from her right here, right now – I am going to answer her good questions. If you are feeling cynical or overwhelmed about the rest of the world, go ahead and ask yourself these questions. Get out of the news cycle; visit your own head.

What is something you learned to do this year?

This was the year Physical Therapy became my go-to magical miracle. I learned how to do hip stretching exercises on behalf of my poor sore tailbone of last autumn-through winter. This summer I learned quad strengthening exercises which enabled my knee bones to work again. I don’t have a hairstylist, but I do have a physical therapist. That kind of year.

I learned a little bit about how to edit photos in Photoshop before I put them on my website.

I learned that you can put me in quarantine lockdown for eight months and if in the middle of that you ask me if I would like to meet friends to do a socially distant activity outside with people I like and love – I will still have to talk myself into it. I knew I was an introvert. I didn’t know I was this far gone…

I discovered that The National Book Awards books are interesting, compelling, brilliantly written, wildly varied. Why have I not been paying attention all my life to all these awesome books?

Who do you know now that you didn’t a year ago?

My granddaughter is three so obviously I knew her a year ago. But reading to her every day for 10-15 minutes on Facetime has made us “familiars.” She talks to us now. She has opinions. She is bright and chatty, interested and feisty - just the way we want little kids to be. Today we read Barney Bear’s Pizza Shop. Haven’t read it to her in weeks although since March I’m sure we’ve read it four or five times. There’s a part where vendors bring product into the restaurant kitchen and, yup, she knows which one is Sammy and which one is Rita. She reminds us, before we get to that page, that when the bear family sits around eating pizza, she’s the cub in the pink overalls. She said to us today that we should come over to her house sometimes and we can sit outside (she knows coronavirus quarantine protocols better than many Republican politicians) and have pizza together. We think that is a great idea.

What is something about which you have changed your mind?

When Len makes hamburgers on the grill, he puts molasses and soy sauce on the patty that will be his burger. He leaves my plain, because years ago I made fun of him in regard to this procedure. Then, this year, I tasted his burger and OMG it is WAY better than mine. I ate one serving of humble pie and ever since, my hamburgers are immensely more flavorful.

I just now asked him what he does in case you want to try it, too. He says this is for about two burgers of about 1/3 pound of meat each, preferably from meat where the cows got to walk around and eat grass. Use about 1 tablespoon of molasses and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce. Pat these condiments on one side, flip the burger and do the other side. Do the next burger. These measurements are not precises.

The chemistry of what happens when this sweetness hits the heat and flames – well, this wife could possibly have been more respectful of Len’s meat savvy.

How will you celebrate this year?

I like to utilize (hah) birthdays as an occasion to move and to eat. In the past two weeks, with and without Len, I’ve gone on four nature hikes.

(It is pheasant hunting season at Bong Nature Center. This pheasant stuck close to me for much of my hike.)

On my actual birthday we went into Milwaukee to pick up a book at Boswell’s and then buy some more books. We walked Brady Street to the lake and back. We went to Glorioso’s Italian Market and also to Peter Sciortino’s Bakery and at both places we spent money like thrashing catfish. Sicilian salad, pizza bread, different pizza bread, tiramisu from each place, and more.

That evening we ate more delicious food at home including more bites of those tiramisus.

This is my birthday party from the year (4th grade?) when I got a brownie camera. Which is why I am not in the photo. 

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Comments

Love it! We aren’t getting older, we are getting better!

I just love your old photo! Those parties were so great- humble, simple, but epic to us! When I was 10 I got a Kodak X-15 Instamatic camera, which was a huge, important present. I have the little album of my first pictures- priceless!
Mary Beth's picture

Thanks! I've scanned some of those old pix and emailed to my cousins. there are three cousins in that photo, I think the boys were there cuz my mom wanted to have a good time, too. Which meant getting her sister and SIL - my aunts - involved in the after school party-ette. Cameras were oh so chic... And i still love to take photos when I'm out and about. Those kid cameras invited us to see the bits and parts and people around us.

What a great way to celebrate a birthday! Those are some fun places to visit, and especially with permission to try those delicacies. Tiramisu is a real treat! I am going to try Len’s not so secret burger recipe, too. Sounds delicious.
Mary Beth's picture

We've lived in Wisconsin 25 years - longer than I lived in Chicago - but I'm still a foreigner in Milwaukee.

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The Good Old Days???

9/28/2022

Over the past few days Len and I have been emailing with two cousins regarding this interesting topic.

Were the Good Old Days All That Good?

The four of us grew up in the late 40’s, 50’s, 60’s. We are from three hometowns. Two of us were and still are science nerds. Two of us grew up in the same family and church.

This is what Len said about his childhood.

This is a more intense version of joking to kids that our smallpox scars are power ports.

Send $ to Welcome the Strangers Among Us.

If you have a heart for new immigrants among us and are open to another way to support them – Listen Up.

Three Things - Surviving the News, Our Web, Hiking Pix

9/16/2022

Len and I went on a hike yesterday at the Monches section of the Ice Age Trail and the photos are from there. 

Was it only a week and a half ago? My how time flies when one lives in an open and free society under daily assault.

3 Things - Cool, 9/11, Bulbs

The photo is from Hiroshima. It's the shadow of what was there before the bomb. 

9/11/2022

Yesterday it was hot and muggy and sticky. Almost every day since May has been hot and muggy and sticky. We have a small house with air conditioning; utility bills are not prohibitive so I am a lucky that way.  It’s usually cool enough in here.

But spending time outside, as one ought to do, is perpetually hot and muggy and sticky. I’m weary of sweating. Most weeks my laundry has included nearly twenty spent t-shirts … just from me.

3 Things - QE2, Triplets, & Me

The death of Queen Elizabeth dominated the news yesterday and it still thick afoot today. ‘Thick afoot” is my attempt to sound like a wee English countryside river animal political pundit. You know. An otter with a pipe. A weasel in a dark suit and an appropriate tie. A crow with an Hermès scarf.

I have two responses to QE2’s passing.

Wild Horses & Other Beauties

8/23/2022 

I first saw this photograph on Twitter in April. I don’t know the photographer, but the photo stopped me in my tracks. 

The Twitter handle of this person is Chris Byrne @ChrisByrnePhoto. He has a website; I think he leads photography workshops. His website is: chrisbyrnephotography.com.

Meanwhile, here I am, awestruck by a beautiful and wild place I will likely never go. It’s called Torres de Pain and it’s a national park in Chile. https://national-parks.org/chile/torres-del-paine

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