Mary Beth Writes

 Most of us, when we think about looking for light (if we think about it at all) sort of assume it means looking for light in nature. We consider sunrise and sunset, the way light makes it’s way over the earth.

But we humans also work and play with light. We arrange messages for each other when we parse down light and then put it back together.

I was 19 the first time I walked into a Gothic Cathedral. It was in Cologne, Germany and I will never forget how the windows astonished me. The had mostly been redone since the bombings of WWII, yet the impact of humans talking to each other over centuries and decades about how they imagine majesty and power – it took my breath away,

This is a transept window in the Cologne Cathedral.

I also still remember the “stained glass windows” my 8th grade class made in a December art project. I think we tore colored tissue, glued it to wax paper, then put a black construction paper frame over the colors. Our teacher taped them on the windows and here I am, 50 years later, still seeing those streaming colors.

We know some cave paintings and indigenous rock drawings were situated to receive hues and colors from fire and sun and moon.

It a building has red and green lights; we know its the Christmas holidays. Orange says Halloween. Red, white, and blue tell us it’s American Independence Day. We humans have sorted out colors so well we can sometimes speak to each other without words. Some colors make us happy; others make us (hah) blue. We say things to ourselves and each other with light and colors

And when did I put these words together? When I received (the below) photos from Franc. It occurred to me that we are doing a different thing when we “create” light.

Are you saying something to yourself and others by the way you are or are not decorating your house for these holidays? Do you have a memory of the candlelight or tree lights in your grandparents’ home? Do you know why you gravitate to red plaid ribbons or purple balloons?

What do you say in light? What do you hear others saying to you?

This short vimeo if gorgeous.


Franc Garcia. Last year at the Chinese Lights display at the Racine Zoo.

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
― Neil Gaiman, Coraline


Franc Garcia. I think this is also from the Racine Zoo last year.

About peacocks: “How come it can’t fly no better than a chicken?’ Milkman asked.

Too much tail. All that jewelry weighs it down. Like vanity. Can’t nobody fly with all that [stuff]. Wanna fly, you got to give up the [stuff] that weighs you down.’

The peacock jumped onto the hood of the Buick and once more spread its tail, sending the flashy Buick into oblivion.”
― Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon

“We went down into the silent garden. Dawn is the time when nothing breathes, the hour of silence. Everything is transfixed, only the light moves.”
― Leonora Carrington


Jennifer Beiriger  Fireworks

 “Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in.”

― Leonard Cohen

Susan Lawrence – Backyard firepit, LA

“Each of us is born with a box of matches inside us but we can't strike them all by ourselves”
― Laura Esquivel, Like Water for Chocolate


Franc Garcia – Chicago Botanical Gardens

“He carries stars in his pockets
because he knows
she fears the dark.
Whenever sadness pays her a visit
he paints galaxies
on the back of her hands.”
― Alaska Gold, Growing Light


 Franc Garcia – Chicago Botanical Gardens

The shortest distance between two points is often unbearable. - Charles Bukowski

Reality is made up of circles, but we see straight lines. - Peter Senge


 Gary Cozette – Chicago skyline

“Let me tell you something. I'm from Chicago. I don't break.”
― Barack Obama

“Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning...proud to be Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.”
― Carl Sandburg (Sandburg’s dad’s last name, until he changed it to avoid paycheck confusion, was Danielson. You’re welcome.)


Gary Cozette – Christmas in the city. ( I love the MayaWorks banner on the wall)

“There’s no experience quite like cutting your own live Christmas tree out of your neighbor’s yard.”
― Dan Florence, Zombies Love Pizza

“There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground; there are a thousand ways to go home again.” – Rumi

Len took this yesterday on Brady Street in Milwaukee.

 “Pie is the food of the heroic. No pie-eating people can be permanently vanquished.
-May 3, 1902 article in New York Times” ― Dinah Fried, Fictitious Dishes



Awesome! We all appreciate how much time you take on these!
Mary Beth's picture

Thank you!

Thanks for these photos! Having been "not a Xmas fan" for so much of my life, I still find it odd how much I enjoy looking at other people's holiday displays & lighted trees. I thought about this as I walked around the neighborhood last night, and realized at some point I just decided it was easier not be such a grump about it. (Of course that's simplifying a LOT of time & energy I have put into not "ruining" this holiday thing for my own children.) And still...isn't that what it boils down to? Resistance wasn't serving me any more so I let it go. Or--to put it another way, I didn't need to protect myself anymore, so I let resistance go. Yes, that is it. That makes the most sense. So--now I get to enjoy the displays. Even my own! p.s. Hi Mary Beth!!!
Mary Beth's picture

I think a lot of us who did not feel at home in the expectations in which we were raised learned to distrust the Christmas they gave us. If there was ever a holiday invented by religion and a rigid cultural sense of family - Christmas was it. In my late teenage years I learned there were these weeks BEFORE Christmas that were about seeking, and thinking about what wanted, and hoping, and being generous BEFORE the panoply of Christmas hit. I guess that's when I claimed Advent, or maybe it claimed me. I think this is true for a lot of people. Don't give us a fait accompli - give us a path.

Wow! I am absolutely blown away by Franc Garcia' two dazzling photos the Chinese Lights display at the Racine Zoo. Their perfect composition and brilliant, shimmering colors are stunning. Thank you Franc & Mary Beth for sharing them.

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Quarantine Diary #507 YES #507!

Didn’t I announce back in March that my Quarantine Diary was done?

Argh. Never say never.

I assumed after two vaccines it was okay to meander the world as long as we are mindful of kids and people with fragile immune systems. So put on the mask in public places and don’t be overtly stupid.

Making Memories?

This morning the Washington Post has an article about how we make memories. Interestingly, just because we say we are “making memories” doesn’t mean we are. Most little kids will not start making many memories until they are around age 8. Memories get stuck in our mind if they involve several senses and we are going slow enough to pay attention. If one WANTS to remember something, stop paying attention to everything else that is going on, focus in on the thing you care about using more than one sense. Recall it again later. Deep sleep on it overnight and good luck with that.

Three Things & One Announcement 7/16/2021

Thinking Outside the Box: 

Len once told me this WWII story. The first generation of bomber raids from England to Germany resulted in a terrifying number of bomber planes being shot down. Experts carefully examined the returning planes to create detailed reports of the bullet holes as they tried to understand how to reinforce the planes to make them safer.

Three Things 7/7/2021

Israel’s Health Ministry this week announced that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine — one of the world’s most effective shots — was offering only 64 percent protection against infection and symptomatic illness caused by the delta variant.

The vaccine was still highly effective at preventing severe illness and death, the ministry said.

(I read this in the Washington Post, though it’s other places also.)

7/5/2021 Three Things (Don’t miss Highland Mitzi)

Last year was the Covid quarantine so most of us didn’t do very much over the 4th of July holiday.

This year, with half Americans now vaccinated there’s more freedom to do things and be with people.

Three Things (Well, Four) 7/1/2021

Bill Cosby is out of prison on a technicality. The judge said 40-year-old Britney Spear still can’t run her own life. Yesterday 88-year-old war criminal* Donald Rumsfeld died comfortably in his bed.

My gut is twisting. How are you? Power, injustice, and money still row the boat that we’re all on. This nation is playing whack-a-mole with justice, hope, and human rights. It feels ominous. I thought I would just mention this in case you thought it was just you that felt assaulted this morning.


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