Mary Beth Writes

Hah, I have two announcements.

1. I was surprised and happy that several of you responded to my Saturday Mindful Chicklens post. I didn’t really think many people were reading them, but you are! Cool!

So. I will do another Mindful Chickens this coming Saturday. If you do something or make choices this week that helps to protecct the environment while help you and your family – remember it and respond with that idea/s on Saturday. Doesn’t have to be “I built a windmill on my garage” level - though if you did, we want to know.  

2. Elizabeth McGowan wrote an intriguing memoir: Outpedaling “The Big C” My Healing Cycle Across America. I read it recently, she’s a clear writer, her story pulled me in, and I unequivocably recommend it. She talks about the riding her bike from Oregon to Virginia. The trip is a celebration of learning she is cancer-free after years of melanoma playing hide and seek in her body. To make it scarier, her cancer is the type that took her dad’s life when he was young and she was a teenager.

Her book deals with the bike ride, with her daunting multi-year struggle against cancer, and also her conflicted relationship with her strong, interesting, imaginative, and sometimes emotionally abusive dad. She does all of this with understanding and honesty. The book is powerful. Like, did you have a dad who was sometimes awesome and sometimes awful? Yeah, well, that’s hard to write about but Liz does it well.

Earlier in the autumn Liz wrote this. Read here. 

I think some of you might like to listen to this.

Hello All: Please join me (from the comfort of your home!) for an online talk about "Outpedaling 'The Big C': My Healing Cycle Across America." Tune in to a 6pm (ET) Wednesday 12/9, for a live conversation with Elizabeth and librarian Maggie Gilmore from D.C. Public Library and Ursula Sandstrom with the Washington Area Bicyclist Association.

The event starts at 6 p.m. on Facebook Live. It'll be fun; questions welcome Learn more/sign up here:

Today's Advent Light Post

 On my Twitter feed a few days ago, a person was bitterly complaining that daylight fades too early in December and we are left in the bleak blackness of winter.

The writer has a point. This is an easy time to be legitimately and illegitimately depressed. If your brain chemistry leans towards sensitive and depressive, this is likely a hard time for you. Then again, if you are a complaining kind of person, this is  a great time to whine about how the stars in the universe are making your days too short. Cuz, like, the stars really care.

This is what I wrote in response to that Tweet: It has been liked by upwards of 7 Twitter readers, proof that I am, um, not much of an influencer.

Here’s what’s worked in my long life when the dark is too much. Go out in it. Put on your jacket and comfy shoes and gloves and go outside into the real world. It’s not as dark as you think when you are actually in it. It’s just that dark when you are inside looking out.”

The real power behind what I wrote to a stranger is that now I have been going outside at dusk and I was right. It isn’t black out there, not by a long shot. It’s dusky, quiet, and moist. The earth sort of hums. It feels like an invitation to something, only we don’t know exactly what. Advent, in a nutshell. 

Suit up, go out, look to see what’s there.

Which is what we are doing with these photos of light.

My beautiful cousin Judy Anderson Saunders died a few years ago, very suddenly. She is so missed. I wrote about her and my sister here. They were BFF’s and they are both gone.

Judy was a small, gentle person who loved to photograph nature. I asked her husband Dave if he could send some of her photographs. He sent these two. He might be sending more as time goes along.


Judy Saunders

Dave says the notes on this photo’s notes read,“The Starburst pattern, obtained by continuously adjusting the focal length of the lens, was made over a time span of 1/13 seconds.”

"How beautiful the leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days."  John Burroughs

“What you do, the way you think, makes you beautiful.”
― Scott Westerfeld, Uglies


 Judy Saunders

This one is grocery store flowers seen through the wavy glass of a shower door. Wow. Artists show us how to open our eyes.

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”
― Confucious

“Memories sing to us, he told me. They’re birds whose songs never fade.”
― William Kent Krueger, Sulfur Springs

Usually, I post 5-6 photos.  This day has been crazy busy and it’s late. Let’s let Judy’s photos sit in us tonight. 

“Best to take the moment present
As a present for the moment”
― Stephen Sondheim, Into the Woods








Excellent post. Loved the pictures!

How funny that I’m reading this today, and for the last two days my walks have been at dusk, and really beautiful! I am one of those kinda whiny, need sunshine people, but “Only when it is dark enough, can we see the stars” (quote by MLK, I think, from an old folk saying)

I went for a nighttime walk and picked up some visible recycling stuff- beer can, wine bottle, cardboard packaging. Did not see Northern Lights, but paid attention to what I heard, which was a freight train, cars, and some kind of utility box hum. I did my normal recycling and thought about sending (another) email to the community in Florida that I like to visit which has absolutely no recycling.

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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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