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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What are you doing November 3-6 and/or November 11-13?

Do you

Three Things - Birthday Moments

10/21/2021  Three Things

My birthday was last weekend. This is my question for you; have you celebrated a birthday lately that seemed extra fine? I wonder if the quarantine year reset our happiness scale. I don’t remember being miserable last year, but this year felt so rich.

Quarantine Diary # 584 What We Expect & Don't Expect


Note: The Covid Diary is not, apparently, going away this year either.

One of the confounding realities of the American Covid-19 crisis is this. So far (I just looked) 695,000 people are officially reported as having died of Covid, though it is suspected the actual number (not disguised by other sicknesses or conditions) is 804,000. Deaths. Our current population of 330,000,000. So about 1 of every 400 Americans has died. (Source here)

A Letter about DOGS to Third Graders.

Dear Kids,

I asked my website-reading friends about their dogs. These pictures and explanations are about their dogs.

"Brotherhood" by Mohamed Mbougar Sarr - A Book Review


“Brotherhood” by Mohamed Mbougar Sarr is the most compelling novel I’ve read this year. I read the first half as if I was reading a book for the first time; it felt as if the writer was expressing a story so powerful he called it fiction just to get it out, to me, to us. 

I skimmed the second half because I was exhausted by the impossible trauma and decisions the characters would need to endure and try to survive.

Let me say right here than many will survive. Not all.

Thanks & Now Let's Do Pups!


 Thank You!

I sent our collated list of “Ways to Help My Community” to the Third Graders this morning.  Laura has already shared it with them; I just received this from one kid. This was really cool and helpful thank you for coming back to me so quickly well you always respond quickly like all the time and also I like hiring (hearing) from you always make me smile from writing to pictures I love them all.”

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