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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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. 


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?


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?


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


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.

Lake Superior Fairy Castles

By the way, HAPPY HALLOWEEN today! 


10/31/2022   Fata Morgana

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