Mary Beth Writes

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.

One is that Queen Elizabeth has always reminded me of my mom. They look a little alike (though you might have to be my mom’s kid to see it). Those kind eyes, strong nose, quick and gentle smile. An affinity for modest clothes and behavior. That light in their eyes that suggested withheld smart-aleck remarks, though you would seldom to never hear them yourself. (Me: “I wish Leonard would dress better.” Mom: “He dresses like you.” Ouch.)

They were born in the 1920’s; they grew up in the crucible of the Depression and the War. Elizabeth learned to be a truck mechanic. My mom learned to run an offset printing press because dad was in the war. These were smart women who learned what need to be learned. They did their part

Also, this. Neither went to college. The Queen and her sister Margaret were the last of the royals to be totally educated by tutors at home. My mom, valedictorian of her high school class, was not offered the support she would have needed to go to college.

They were the best kind of worthy, responsible, loving, and enduring women who lived impossible lives with grace. They were expected to be obedient to their pasts while leading us into futures they could not have comprehended.

We should respect how little they were properly prepared for how much they were asked to do.

Dad and mom, before they married. I suspect that hat she is wearing belongs to him.  


Queen Elizabeth reigned over the British empire. To her credit, there is a LOT less of it now that there was in 1952 when she stepped up to the throne. Also, she was a figurehead. The politics of the dissolution of the empire belongs squarely to the men, mostly old and white, who made or allowed the gains, losses, and changes. But to mourn a queen while not acknowledging the hideousness of imperialism of which she was the figurehead, is wrong. For nearly 500 centuries imperialism destroyed people and their cultures, their histories and their futures.

When we admire those old European castles and palaces, universities and libraries, let’s not be rubes. That wealth is the glittery side of the lost, dead, scarred bodies of humans torn from their own lives. Those are riches built on bones.

The above global map is from Twitter and there are lots of comments about the inaccuracies in it. But as a quick pix – those are nations, once ruled by Britain, that now celebrate independence from it. ‘Independence from Britain Day’ is the most widely celebrated holiday on earth.

When and if we honor the passing of a Queen Elizabeth, lets breath for the millions of lives lost imperialism. Let’s look at the entrenched global racism that is part and parcel of it that legacy.



The Triplets of Belleville

Last night we watched the quirkiest movie we’ve seen in a while. The colorful DVD cover caught my attention at the library, so for the price of “free but you have to bring it back” … I brought it home. We started it expecting it might be weird or dumb. Then we both just fell in to this animated French movie.

French! It’s in French! We thought we’d selected English but honestly, the story is told visually. Watch it in French. Doesn’t make much difference.

It is one of those astonishing pieces of art that doesn’t tell you what to think or feel. It just moves along, grabs your spirit, pulls you in. It is not about someone else’s experience. Watching it is your experience.

A grandma with a club foot who is powered by love, a very fat dog with very skinny legs who is also powered by love, and a beloved young Tour de France bicyclist named Champion - are the characters you will love. Three old crones of Belleville catch frogs to survive and make music to live. They can make a beat from anything, including trash paper. Together these characters defy evil. 


Yeah. The c diff came back and I got to spend another slow week mostly moseying and then another interesting evening in the ER. Only three hours this time so I guess that was a win? I’ve learned more about how to mange this disease. (Don’t take probiotics at the same time as you take antibiotics, it garfs up both meds. Why did I not know this?) I feel worlds better and for three days in a row now nothing has hurt and I have energy. Cool.



Thank you once again for such insightful tidbits. Happy you are feeling better!!!!

And she raised a (much) better kid
Mary Beth's picture

Thanks. You are right, I never thought I could lie to a person I intended to marry, didn't think one could cheat on a partner, and especially never thought children existed for my disgusting pleasure. pretty low bar.

Thank you for this post on your mom and QE. They both faced enormous challenges and tragedy with grace and firm resolve. I remember your mother as kind and gentle but she must have had nerves of steel. They both needed a sense of humor! Check out Paddington Bear's recent tea with QE if you haven't seen it.
Mary Beth's picture

Those small moments of Paddington and the Queen are lovely and funny and oh so touching.

Glad you are feeling better. And, thank you for always for your insight. Patricia
Mary Beth's picture

Thanks, Patricia. Getting better is it's own adventure.

Thanks for that, Mary Beth. And for this space to write. I have always respected and admired Queen Elizabeth. I read her biography when I was in grade school. Which puts QE at only 30+ years old. But, being young and impressionable, and perhaps needing a hero (heroine), she became an icon to me. Not overly rational, perhaps. Her path, at the beginning of her journey, was pre-mapped. The path going forward, was hers. She chose values of loyalty, dedication, honor, duty, and tradition. Politics aside for a moment, her life was not easy, her path strewn with life's challenges. She was the Queen of Great Britain. Very few were privileged to actually know Lilibet. I am sure I would have clashed with her politics, and she mine. But I greatly admire her. She was trusted and respected by millions. Her life was long and full. I would never have wanted her life. But, at some level - that of a young girl that became entrenched in the adult me? - I will miss her presence in the world. And then there was that double rainbow....

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A-Z P is for Procrastination


Procrastination. Or how the American Revolution was won. 

"You can lead a horse to water but you can't grant him the serenity to accept the things he cannot change.” (Tweet by Bob Golen) 

P is the next letter to write about in this project to write an essay for every letter of the alphabet. Someone suggested Procrastination.

Guess what? I’ve been putting it off.


GNTL - So Many Words!


Grownups Noticing Their Lives - Words!

The month of May might have been above my paygrade. I contributed to a weeks-long writing project in our congregation. I met friends more often than usual to talk and catch up. Two grandkids came for a sleepover last week. Our daughter and her little dog spent last Friday with us. Saturday another grandkid slept over.

GNTL - Kathryn's Garden


Grownups Noticing Their Lives - Kathryn’s Garden

My friend Kathryn sent some beautiful photos of her garden to me this morning, I asked if I could post them here and she said yes. 

Some of you know Kathryn Rouse so you know this is not a garden-come-lately. She’s been building and growing her garden since, I think, the late 1970’s. The bunny in a hurry is a Bill Reid sculpture.

I think Kathryn's photos are the right frame for the poem.

A-Z Observation

5/24/2023   O is for Observation

Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) was a pre-telescope Danish astronomer who looked at the sky more precisely than anyone before him had done. He was obsessively careful about measuring what he saw and he studied the sky every night he could. To accomplish what he wanted he reinvented and fine-tuned the sky-gauging tools of his era – sextant and quadrant.

You may have seen these tools in paintings of old-time sailors. They would hold them up to their face, look at the stars, figure out where they were in the world.

GNTL - Squirrels & Gardens & the Sonoran Desert


Grownups Noticing Their Lives

My garden thrives in ignominy.

Yesterday I posted some frugal things I’ve done lately at the Non-Consumer Advocate website. I do this because the kinds of people who try to be frugal are often (not always) people who I wish would come over here and read my website, too. I don’t write too much about frugal strategies but I write lot about values. We are in the same Venn diagram, right?

GNTL - Walk, Mounds, Spirit

Grownups Noticing Their Lives


The local TV weather folks talked about ‘a pneumonia front’ for two days. I’d never heard the term before but we all know temps can change fast, right? It’s more generally called life on planet earth. Keep a jacket handy if you can.

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