Mary Beth Writes


I know a fair amount about the planet-killing toxicity of western culture’s “fast fashion” so I was impressed by what I read this morning in “The Day the World Stops Shopping.” (I wrote about this book yesterday in case you missed class. Hah.)

You need to read Chapter 12 to get the bigger scenario, but here’s my fast explanation. Yes, manufacturers make way too many clothes which harms the planet and exploits the poorest people on earth. Example: A Bangladeshi garment factory owner says if consumers would pay $.02 more per T-shirt, conditions and pay for workers would upgrade dramatically. Wow.

But then also this: Many upscale brands understand that increasing consumerism is destroying the planet. They would like to opt out of that without going bankrupt.

Companies such as Patagonia, Eileen Fisher, REI (and more) manufacture expensive, well-made garments. They are experimenting with marketing to their customers that after a person no longer wants their item – they can easily return it for credit. The amount of the credit is determined by a go-between business where the garment is cleaned, mended, and then relisted at the manufacturer’s site as used. This system keeps clothing out of a landfill as well as returning future profits to the company. Patagonia is aiming to make this a significant part of their company’s profit.

That might have seemed a bit dry but this is my context.

Have you noticed people on social media saying how crappy 2021 was and how crappy 2022 will be? I will grant that anyone who lost a loved one this year has the right to call this an awful year. Likewise, to people who ended long relationships or their homes were devastated by disasters. Parents who took care of underfoot kids while working from home and medical caregivers can say anything they want.

But really? The rest of us get to say this past year was awful because it was hard to socialize? Because we couldn’t travel as much as our hearts desire? Because concerts and restaurants, churches, sports, and bars were iffy?

Just want to remind us that in this past year we were GIVEN life-saving vaccines. Do we understand that polio appeared in 1930 but the vaccine didn’t arrive until 1953? Back in “the good ole days” that pundits tell us were more wholesome than now - people waited 23 years for a vaccine.

We had to wait a year and half of us are still fussing about it.

This pandemic time is tough, yes. This is tougher for some than for others, yes. But let’s remember to claim what’s changing and true.


Like these moments.

He is respected worldwide.

He’s in prison.

I was out walking when I saw this. These are jeeps from the war in Afghanistan being returning to military bases. Peace on a flatcar.

We are getting clearer and stronger in our understanding of what assault is. A 14-, 15-, 16-, or 17-year-old girl or boy is a child. This is so different from the culture many of us grew up in where we were responsible for our own safety before we even knew what that meant.


This year I used my cellphone to record an arrest on my street. The video wasn’t needed because the arrest, though alarming, was reasonable.

This year I was mostly comfortable in my own body because Medicare paid for physical therapy.

Len had cutting edge surgery that saved his life.

We now both own Apple watches that can check oxygenation, A-Fib status, and heart rate any old time at all. (Can’t tell a heart attack or do blood pressure.) Pricey yes, but nothing compared to 17 days in two hospitals.

And just now I was about to drive to the liquor store to buy a bottle of wine and a six-pack of Lakefront IPA. I texted Len who texted back that he ordered these delights in the grocery order. I didn’t even know this was legal! (We show our DL at the pickup.)

What a world!



I did not realize it took so long to develop the vaccine. I knew a couple of girls who had been stricken, one my age and one 10 years older. The vaccine was a game changer! I don’t think the anti-fax crowd would want to wait 20 years for the Covid vases to be “ proven” would they?
Mary Beth's picture

I remember a teenager daughter of friends of my parents, who had been so damaged by polio that she died several years after she contracted it. I was a kid so people hushed when I walked into the room. but I knew a bad polio thing had happened. A friend of mine in my early years in Chicago limped because one of her legs had been in braces for year.

Perspective is a wonderful thing, and we need reminding of all that is good. For me, the change in leadership was huge. My spirit, needed that. Wishing you the very best in 2022. Health, peace, and laughter ( laughter is huge on my list!). Patricia

I cannot for the life of me remember who made that statement but it was powerful enough to stick with me all these years later. My husband and I are not wealthy by any means but I look around my house and I see that this is true. Thanks for pointing out the good and positive things that happened in 2021, in our nation and world and in your own personal life. We all have them but sometimes it takes a reminder to think back on the moments in the year and recognize these blessings.
Mary Beth's picture

Exactly. Our lives are not wealthy nor easy, but we have so much that is deep, good, preserving, and true.

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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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