Mary Beth Writes


Grownups Noticing Their Lives / Climate change up close and personal 


I woke up in the middle of last night. Our blast furnace weather moderated a bit yesterday so we’d turned the a/c off and opened the windows. At 3AM the long, slow, heavy train on the tracks down the street from where we live was loud.

My middle-of-the-night lizard brain suddenly wondered about something I’ve never wondered about before.

Weather forecasters warn Wisconsin is quickly moving into a serious drought. If this continues, and very little rain is predicted, fire danger will be elevated. What if a passing train causes sparks that catch fire in the grass and scrub along train tracks? Could homes in our neighborhood be affected?

How much fire insurance do we have, anyway?

We just looked at our policy and it appears we have plenty. Plus, Len noted in the fine print that if we have two volcano eruptions in one 72-hour period, that counts as one volcano and we’re covered.

Anyways, we are living in weird weather times. What unlikely but suddenly possible thing have you considered or dealt with lately? Has our worrisome climate crisis affected where you live?



And lungs. I just came in from a bike ride. After I returned, I saw that there is an air quality advisory (meaning no strenuous outdoor activity) because of wildfires in Quebec.

Way too early for heat like this. Especially with no rain either. Area farmers very concerned and are already irrigating. This is end of July weather. Kind of worried about our well with so much irrigation running so early in the season - could we run dry? Never ever worried about this before
Mary Beth's picture

Yup. The things we never worried about before.

New Mexico has been severely affected by droughts for a long time and by catastrophic wildfires for more than 20 years. Where I live is not at high risk, but even if I don't worry about my house burning, fires cause terrible air pollution, and the devastation to large areas of the state has been terrible. Lately I have become keenly aware of all the volcanoes that aren't all that far away. Experts say not to worry, but sometimes they are wrong. There has never been a tornado in my zip code -- the fairly rare ones in NM are mostly east of the mountains and I live west of the mountains, so that's not a big worry. And there has never been a hurricane here -- ha ha.
Mary Beth's picture

The air quality was terrible today….lots of people running and biking on the way to church….they may not have known, yikes! (Len too). And lots of huge Oak trees are dying and I think it’s from the long term drought we have been in for quite a few years (mine included) ….very sad. Thinking about this smoke being around most of this summer is a real bummer. And that it is coming from western Canada is an even bigger bummer….nowhere to hide. I thought the Midwest was relatively safe from most of things happening so far….obviously not! And not to mention the train tracks!

It's becoming usual to hear about broken records for heat, drought, "unseasonable" weather and the devastating storms, hurricanes, fires and tornadoes that are occurring with alarming regularity. State Farm has stopped accepting homeowners insurance applications in California. It seems this is just the beginning of what the future holds. Will there be more and more who become uninsurable because of climate change?

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Three Things


Three Things except it’s really more than that.

1. Earlier this year I read these two books by Palestinian writers and I recommend both. If you’ve read good books by Palestinian writers, maybe tell us about them in the comments?

The Confluence


(I’ve written about this trip before but it’s been a long time.)

In 2000 we did a wilderness canoe/kayak trip on Utah’s Green River. We did this with our three kids plus friends and their two sons. Our youngest was nine, the oldest was 16, and our combined three boys were slapdash goofballs.

Three Things / Story, Eclipse, Brando

1. I scheduled my Substack story to go out at 8AM this morning. I just looked to see why it didn’t show up and it says it is going to be sent at 8:49 tonight. I’m going to leave it like that. Maybe 9PM on a weekend night is a good time to send short fiction. Let me know if you have an opinion.

2. I read this quote by Marlon Brando who said this early in his career. “I’m not afraid of anything and I don’t love money.”

Even though this is probably not exactly true of me and you, I do love the bravado.

Peace Like a River / Book Report

4/3/2024 She Writes

I just finished reading Peace Like a River by Leif Enger and I am going to talk about it for a little bit before I forget how profoundly interesting and evocative this book was and is, at least to me.

I get emails from Boswell Bookstore (2559 N Downer Ave in Milwaukee). They host artist events pretty often and Monday evening, April 15th Len and I will be there for the Author Evening with Leif Enger. You can look up more of the details if you are interested. (Tickets are free but you need to reserve them.)

My Grandkids & 'Wandering Stars'


The past month has been jam-packed. The week in Mineral Point. Len’s two-day seminar in Chicago. Last week we had various grandkids here for three overnighters and yesterday our family came to Easter dinner here in our house which was clean after a week with grandkid overnighters so you know that was a piece of cake. Len smoked two hams (yes, hard to keep them lit) and I made the largest amounts of from-scratch scalloped potatoes plus macaroni and cheese that I have ever made. As in, I grated four pounds of cheese Saturday afternoon. “On Wisconsin.”

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