Mary Beth Writes

These are things I thought about this week:

1. I am a person who has to use self-discipline to not bake cookies and desserts ALL THE TIME. I can go from “Hmm, brownies would be tasty” to made-from-scratch brownies in my mouth a half hour later.

Every strength - is also a weakness - is also a strength.

Here’s my brownie recipe from a Lutheran cookbook I impulse bought at McDonald’s Bakery in my hometown in the middle 1980’s when we were visiting my mom. I made these so often the cookbook fell apart at this recipe, so I threw the rest of the book away and just kept this.

Chewy Brownies

1 c sugar

¼ c butter (that’s half a stick)

½ teaspoon vanilla but honestly, what’s a half teaspoon? Use a teaspoon…

2 eggs

4 Tablespoons cocoa

3/4 c flour

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8x8” pan. Mix the ingredients – but Friends – mix it the way Meg mixes it. (Hi, Meg.) Put the butter in a mixing bowl – your stand mixer if you have one. Pour in the sugar and then beat that butter-sugar into a pale slurry; it will take 2-3 minutes. Then add the eggs and vanilla. Then the flour and cocoa. At this point you can add ½ cup nuts or dried fruit.

Bake about 20 minutes - until a fork stuck in the middle comes out without crumbs attached.

You can double this to bake in a 9x13” pan. IMHO you should always double this, give most of them away – but keep the end rows for yourself and your beloved.

 

2. Entitled white people trying to subvert the right of people of color to vote – there is NOTHING about this that is new. This nation is still at the work our Founding Fathers couldn’t, wouldn’t, and didn’t do.

For 32 of the first 36 years of our republic’s history, our presidency was occupied by slave-owning Virginians. That is: Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe. Only John Adams, from Boston, did not own enslaved people and he was only president one term.

You know about the 3/5’s “compromise”, right? Cue 1787. The south would not join the north to form a competent federal government unless and until the south had parity with the north. There were far more white people in the north (there were black enslaved people, too, but not as many). The southerners said they needed equal representation, so they wanted to count each enslaved person as 3/5 of one person (and never allow a black person to vote). That way white southerners would have as much representation as the more populous north. That ugly compromise existed until the Civil War. To mentally justify this travesty - white people had to continually convince themselves that they were better and more worthy than black people.

So this is where I am.

How do privileged people disenfranchise themselves from bad thinking? What needs to happen to allow people to understand what from their heritage is worth keeping and what needs to be chucked and burned?

The next chapter I am wading through is about the intertwining of the Second Great Awakening and abolition. Because sometimes religion entitles us be mean and wrong. Other times religion wakes us up and softens our hearts and enlightens our lives.

Boy, what a question. How does Religion affect How We Regard Others?

The book I’m (still) reading is These Truth, a History of the United States by Jill Lepore. Although the facts I stated above are widely known.

 

3. This week I read two books to the third graders. The first was Dragons Like Tacos 2: The Sequel by Adam Rubin/Illus. by Daniel Salmierie. The kids love this funny book about passionate dragons who time travel to find a taco to plant in the current time, in order to harvest tacos from the taco trees. The kids giggled and laughed. It was fun to read to them.

Then I read Our Gracie Aunt by Jacqueline Woodson. This story will break your heart. A mom abandons her two kids – it’s pretty easy to intuit this is about addiction in parents. Child Protective services takes the kids to an aunt’s house to stay. At one point the kids get to visit their mom in either jail or her treatment program. Woodson writes this story with honesty, respect, and compassion. The kids I read to recognized what’s happening. The kids were absolutely quiet and sitting at full attention, eyes and ears on the pictures in the book.

I remember being a kid. It was so rare to be given stories and images that reflected my world. I lived in security and I also lived in constant fear of the mercurial feelings of adults around me. I could have used more honest and compassionate books.

It’s so powerful to tell a child, “I see you. Some parts of your life are very hard. You are good.”

4. Only Karen sent a happy, spring, Easter photo - but what a doozy it is. She and her siblings and mother are together again, after this long, long year. Hi, Joan!

 

Comments

I have recently started baking brownies from scratch. Boy, are they good and fast and easy! A group from my church has been meeting ( on Zoom) to discuss white privilege and racial bias. Not too much is eye opening as I was raised in the south and graduated high school in 1966. I know waaaay too much about the in-your-face stuff! We may meet with some young adults who grew up here in our part of VT and find out what we need to work on locally. Inadvertent racism is still racism and hurts people. Peace

I printed off your brownie recipe. Good read - love the picture.
Leonard's picture

Give away the edges, the middle ones are chewey and good.

I made brownies today from your recipe. I was sceptical that the recipe would work with no baking powder, baking soda, or salt, but they turned out great. No crunchy edges if baked 18 minutes. Thanks for the recipe!
Mary Beth's picture

I was suspicious of the same thing. To this day, I sometimes check the recipe twice to see if I should have including baking powder - but nope, they work. Those Lutheran ladies knew their way around dessert

Beat it!
Mary Beth's picture

Her very Meg-ness Herself! Empress of Amazing Baked Goods...

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Happy Birthday to Len

11/30/2022 

Today is Len’s birthday. I told him this morning I might write about him but I would let him read whatever I said first. He said not to run it past him, he’d like the surprise of reading it when you all do. Let’s see what I come up with.

1. This is cute. Len was born in Chicago’s Passavant Memorial Hospital which was the grandparent hospital to Northwestern’s Prentice Women’s Hospital - where two of our grandkids were born.

Stories, Q Club, Us

The photo is not by Len or me, its from I Love Canada on FB. I've seen a sky like that just once. 

11/21/2022

Last week I read two books about young people who left their homes. They experienced some good and too many rough experiences and they couldn’t go back until they figured out how to not be who they used to be. Both novels knocked my socks off.

The People You Keep by Allison Larkin

Covid Diary #979 - Still Paying Attention?

11/17/2022

Yes, it’s been 979 days since Friday the 13th, March 2020, when everything changed.

Last Saturday one of our kids visited for several hours with their kids. It was fun though our kid looked tired. They said they’d taken a Covid test that morning and it was negative. They figured it was the wine and rich foods they’d shared the evening before with friends at the end of a very busy week.

Next Day - What Are You Seeing?

11/9/2022

It was a late night last night, wasn’t it? Len worked at a polling place 6:30 AM until 10:30 PM. He said the actual experience is a lot like working retail (which he has not done since he was 22). Stand up most of the time, pleasantly say the same thing over and over. Wonder if lunch is soon.  

Professional reporters and pundits are talking a lot about “what just happened”, but heck, we are noticing interesting things, too.  Let’s talk about what We The People saw and heard and are watching now.

Here are some things catching my attention.

Election Day

11/8/2022 

So many times I’ve thought things were going to be okay, and then they weren’t. My dad had that heart attack and the kid who was MB back then told herself to not overthink the drama because things always turn out more or less okay. Then the next day he died.

We lost a pregnancy far enough along that we had a name picked out and a crib in which to put that child. For a week I had all the misery and cramps that go with miscarrying and I still thought somehow it was going to work out okay.

That Beep-Beep-Beeping Moment.

In spring Len got a $100 traffic ticket when he turned right at a corner we’ve been turning right at for seven years. However, construction had started and there were orange barrels and cones everywhere – plus a small sign NOT facing the street Len was on, telling drivers to not turn there.

Len went back later that day and took photos. Len called the city to mention that if they posted a sign that actually faced the traffic, the city could save the cost of the cop parked there ticketing drivers.

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