Mary Beth Writes


I’ve had so many interesting thoughts in the past ten days. These thoughts have whirled into my mind, swirled in circles like a canoer too dazzled by the beauty of the terrain to think about what that roaring sound is – and then whoosh over the waterfalls of my brain to disappear. Such is adult life.

Several years ago, I interviewed Lee Lee Thompson when I was writing about humans who were creating with rich lives on not-rich incomes. Read here. 

Lee Lee and I quickly discovered we had similar religiously conservative childhoods and similar reactions to those upbringings. She is a good writer, a feminist, a parent, avid reader, and she has begun a “tiny letter.” If you would like to read her, this is where to start.

From Lee Lee: You can subscribe at:

OR, you can read my first post, and then decide. :)

 She wrote in her intro to her new letter that even when she isn’t reading all the stuff that comes thought her email inbox, she saves stuff from me to read later. Thanks, Lee Lee!

Len is healing. The scabs on his nose and head are now gone which is amazing. I called 911 because it looked like Pangea had split into continents over his nose. In the ER my son and I anxiously asked if he should have a specialist plastic surgeon because we couldn’t imagine how that bleeding gash would ever close or heal. The ER physician was a personable guy who said we could do that, but he had sewn up a lot of lacerations in his career and he could do it right then. Here we are a month later and Len is once again a guy with a nose you are not going to think about when you meet him.

 An outpatient speech therapist gave him a test during rehab to see if he could coordinate some things. He mentioned to her that since he’s come home he’s revamped both of our Part D Medicare prescription coverages. He’d already done it, but now he has some new incredibly pricey Rx’s, plus we wanted to give more coverage to me in case I might also need fancy medicine in my future. I could tell you the details but just believe me – this project was long, confusing, and tedious; phone calls, online applications, phone calls, copies emailed here, mailed there, phone calls. The speech therapist said, “Oh.”

 And that was just one imbroglio. Len has been bushwhacking through red tape.

Here's are two healing-related issues neither he nor I expected.

1. He gets tired easily and often falls asleep by 9PM. All the info about recovering from brain surgery says this is typical and not to fight it, just take a nap or go to bed. But it’s weird to settle down at 8:37. You know?

A few nights we stayed up to almost 11:00 watching a movie; it felt like being an awed little kid staying up to see the New Year come in.

2. He is often chilled which is weird because in this partnership, I’m the one who gets cold. Suddenly, I have this chilly spouse. He started wearing long underwear under his jeans. Then one night he watched TV while I read upstairs. He came up to bed, I hugged him - he was HOT. I got the thermometer; his temp was 100 degrees.

So we said to each other that 100-degrees isn’t even high, we can call someone in the morning, yadda yadda. Didn’t talk to each other about it anymore, although I quietly and fervently googled ‘fever after a craniotomy’. Geez, I didn’t know people could get brain infections. He quietly and fervently looked up infected hearts.

In the morning his temp was 98.6. We looked up ‘what can cause a low temp?’ Hah, one can raise their core temperature by wearing long underwear under jeans, a shirt under a sweater, plus an acrylic fur afghan in a 70-degree living room.

We laughed at ourselves and then I said I said I didn’t want any more episodes of that kind of worrying. Which made us laugh again, this time ruefully. We are almost 70. What are the chances our future will bring us LESS worrying about health?

Last week my daughter completed her last classwork and research project for her MA in Data Science and Machine Learning.

Machine Learning means using computers to collect and collate information. This is the process of Google collecting all the places you go, because you have Google maps on your phone. They collate that info to predict what you might like to buy and then sell your private info to mega corporations. Machine learning is also how they use computers to read 3D mammograms to detect cancer when it’s too small for humans to detect. So, you know, a power than can go this way or that way.

This daughter just informed us that today – 12022021 – is a palindrome because it reads the same frontwards and backwards. Also today is also an ambigram because it reads the same upside down.

 And even though I claim I don’t talk about my kids a whole lot, I kinda want to say this kid did her master’s degree while she worked fulltime. And parented … two cats. 





Hello Mary Beth and Ron, Getting older is scary and the health insurance maze is scary. I have begun to think I must be a great big chicken. Anyway I'm a chicken who has to rule the cat! He would boss me around if he could. I have to arm myself with the water sprayer at times. He is also such a cute boy and so hilarious. He provides me with a lot of smile time.

Love the updates. It’s a way of keeping track of each other.

So, here are my rambling reactions to this post..... Love the photo of Leonard! I must have missed the Lee Lee story when you wrote it - I just read it, and I plan to sign up for her tiny letter. I use the same strategy she does about your writings. If I don't have time to read one when it comes in, I save it for later (or sometimes I save it for something special a little later in my day). Thank you. Love the outpatient rehab story. I still remember Leonard helping me to do my taxes and making all the complicated stuff seem a little less scary. I do ours with TurboTax now, thanks to my Leonard lessons. I have to tell you that I needed to look up the word imbroglio. Always good to add a new word of the day. I understand the google fest the two of you were on re: temps and infections. Can't even begin to tell you how many times I have gone down google rabbit holes. Really good way to get info in the middle of the night, if you use good sources, which I know you two are doing. I hope you brag about those kids of yours more often. I am very impressed with your pocket child's latest accomplishment. I miss all of you and really look forward these glimpses into your world :)
Mary Beth's picture

I had forgotten we all called her Pocket Child!!

Thanks, Judy, but I also remember that I screwed up filing your return. But, we figured it out and know we both know more about taxes. Which is probably not what either of expected when we thought about the future.

Thanks for sharing, Mary Beth! Isn't it weird how one experience can continue to have an impact?? So glad we connected. And glad that Len (and you) are adjusting.

So glad the recovery is going so well, and that you both are adjusting. Patricia

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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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