Mary Beth Writes

It’s time for me to end this Quarantine Diary. This has been a place to sort what we were hearing and seeing. So many, including the former president and his minions, said Covid would not be a big deal. Medical and science experts said otherwise.

Show us Trump and Fauci standing next to each other? That wasn’t a hard choice. We went with science.  

So, like you, Len and I mostly stayed home. We ‘ordered and picked-up’ what we needed – groceries, wine and IPA’s, library books, some cats. We went outside almost every day to walk, ride bikes, or find new places to hike.

And I wrote. Wrote for you. Wrote a sermon. Wrote emails to friends. Started many stories and novels that I didn’t finish. We watched a lot of news and quite a few streaming movies and documentaries and series.

Then …

Since the end of January, Len and I received our vaccinations. We did the road trip to Copper Falls. We visited our kids in Chicago last weekend. We hugged our grandkids. My 4-year-old granddaughter hugged me back so hard that yup, I cried a little. It was a powerful moment.

We will still be careful, wear masks, not hang out in crowds. We will take Vitamin D, eat our veggies, and get whatever medical and dental care we are due to get.

We’re back. The edges have changed from Mondrian’s black lines to Monet’s impressionist drifting boundaries.


But we are back. We expect change and challenges, but we are back.

Insights from this year?

The obvious one: Politics matter. We have lived through the difference it makes when people in power scam for themselves or work for others.

“I can’t breathe.” The racism and sexism in our nation are toxic and dangerous. We heard and watched cops storm into Breonna Taylor and Anjanette Young’s home. If 95 out of 100 cops are reasonable but they don’t get rid of the five toxic cops, what is that other than institutional corruption? What do we call a family where one person in that family can be abusive part of the time, and everyone just goes along with that?

This pandemic is not a USA problem that will go away when all Americans are vaccinated. We know this, right? It will slow down, and we will be safer, but this disease is our mandate and challenge to think globally.

Every expert can tie this disease into global climate change. Creatures are searching for the temperature range they need to be safe and for enough space to hunt and feed and then come safely back home. Squeezing wildlife into narrower wildernesses means diseases will thrive and mutate.

Closer to home observations?

I’ve read a lot, but even at that – wow – my attention span is not what it was previous to my iPhone.

That garden I grew last year was okay. I got a lot of tomatoes, although the squirrels got even more. Once again, I realized I like to garden but it is not my avocation. I will plant some things again this year, but I don’t have big dreams. I realize now that I come from generations upon generations of farmers who, first chance they got, learned another job.

Until quarantine, I didn’t have to do much to have adventures. Have a job, have a family, live in a complicated community, have some friends. Life just comes to the door. This past year provided enough emptiness that I got to understand, in a deep way, that memories come from energy. If I want that pleasant burn of well used muscles, or to recall way the light splashed into the woods, or taste something spicy, I needed to get out of bed and off the sofa. Nothing dramatic has happened, but in a visceral way, this year felt more 'mine' than any year I can remember since I was a teenager living at home with my mom. It wasn’t always happy, but it was mine.

Peace to all those who lost loved ones and lost economic stability.

What did you learn this year?







I learned that I like and am happy with myself. Never really thought about it but, I am an introvert. I also learned that I missed my family - the hugs and the spontaneous act of being together. When this started - glad we didn’t know it would take a year to get a tiny bit back to normal. Today is our 2 weeks after our 2nd vaccine. Tomorrow, I am spending the day with my Mom. I am blessed. The picture of you and Grace hugging is the best. It brought tears to my eyes when you sent it.
Mary Beth's picture

Thanks. Introverts are not anti-social - they just need a lot of down time to process their thoughts and hopes.

Last summer an out of work neighbor received a boxes of food through one of the government programs, sometimes she got extra from a friend. My neighbor has a restricted diet so...I was tasked with seeing that none of the excess went to waste. A few phone calls and some deliveries and it was done. A friend remembered my neighbor’s kindness and gave her a lovely “ happy new year happy”. My neighbor was overjoyed. She again gifted me with more food to deliver! It goes around and around! We live in the country and many people are supportive of each other. Not everyone, but many. I help out with a FEMA supported food distribution program and now, some church members are baking cookies and muffins to add to the food sacks! I have tried to teach my children and live by the Golden Rule. It seems to be working in rural Vermont!
Mary Beth's picture

Food and neighbors helping each other out. There's a normal we can salute.

What will we, your readers, do without these tasty and thought provoking pieces from you? Will you send out other thoughts?
Mary Beth's picture

I will keep writing, of course. I just won't sit down with the question "How is the quarantine affecting me and affecting us today?" I will sit down with, "I wonder what I have to say and what readers would like to read. Hmmm." Which means, if you notice events you'd like all of us to think about - send them along and if I have anything to say, I will say it.

Thank You, Mary Beth, for all of these entries, and your perspective on this very unusual, traumatizing, and enlightening time we've all been through. I don't feel that I will ever "get back to normal" after such a period. Everything every thought, and action seemed to need to be readjusted and realigned to a new reality. Things will always look and feel different, hopefully with a fresh appreciation for the important things. You pointed out a lot of those important things, and I am grateful.
Mary Beth's picture

See, right there. That is a very good observation. What was normal and what normal would we like to experience next? So many times I've read, all of us have read, "If we go back to the way things were, that's failure. Things were not okay."

I really appreciated hearing your thoughts during this time, and will continue to enjoy and think about things you bring to our attention. What a WONDERFUL photo!
Mary Beth's picture

Thank you. And yeah, that photo grabs me, too. My daughter sent it to me that evening when we were back home. When she ran to me I dropped my phone on the grass to fully pick her up. I knew this year was hard on us, but it was hard for our little ones, too.

Thank you Mary Beth. I hope to soon hug my grandson like you did yours (it's 4:00 am and tears are streaming, at the thought. I can feel your joy!), it's been a long 14 months. Just got my first dose. I believe things will be very different, just not sure how. Can't seem to put my finger on this feeling. Perhaps off balance is the way to describe it. I have spent the last year creating...nothing big or great but creating none the less. I knitted, hand sewed, learned to make jam, embroidered, wrote. I grieved, I yearned, and I hoped. I still do. Thank you for being a safe place to visit, and ponder. Patricia/FL
Mary Beth's picture

Off balance is a good way to say it. I know what you mean. Here we are - but so aware the rug could get pulled out from beneath our feet again. It was a year where we "kept busy" because it was the only safe way forward.

It's been great checking in with your thoughts as I have time & energy, Mary Beth. I've liked getting to know more of your ins & outs/daily life. And more about Len. :) I've learned so much it's hard to know where to start. I've connected with more people in different ways; ironic, I suppose. I've started delivering food to those who can't pick it up and that's something I'm going to keep doing no matter what. I've rested and resisted. I've donated a lot of money. LOL And I've caught the gardening bug, for sure! Time will tell if I stick with it once life moves forward yet again.
Mary Beth's picture

The year hung heavy on those of us who have actual pumping hearts. Giving money and time was generous and laudable, of course. But it was also oxygen to get through so much mindlessness and cruelty. And the BLM movement, stronger than ever, pumped oxygen into the nation. We owe them and we are them.

I want to this of these days as less of "we're back" in hopes that maybe we aren't back to how it was before, rather that we've turned a corner on a new part of the journey. Our insights, what we've learned along the way during the past year, have helped us shape new ways of looking at life and the preciousness of each day. I'm not back because I never went away!
Mary Beth's picture


I received my second shot of the vaccine on Sunday the 3/28/21... As a self professed germaphobe I have changed very little in my life, the mask is a no brainer but not much else has changed, so back to *Normal* is no big deal... Dealing with a new relationship during a pandemic was new and interesting, but not having been in one for eleven years I had no idea how one went about having one even Pre-Covid... When we finally decided to meet in person all the covid protocol and social distancing went right out the window...Less TV more book reading is the biggest change...

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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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