Mary Beth Writes


Today is Len’s birthday. I told him this morning I might write about him but I would let him read whatever I said first. He said not to run it past him, he’d like the surprise of reading it when you all do. Let’s see what I come up with.

1. This is cute. Len was born in Chicago’s Passavant Memorial Hospital which was the grandparent hospital to Northwestern’s Prentice Women’s Hospital - where two of our grandkids were born.

2. When he was eight he was hospitalized two weeks with encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) that he got after mumps. Len is adamantly NOT a vaccine-resistor.

3. His relatives were Polish, Bohemian, and German. He had (has?) relatives with cute names such as Zayenga, Lastovicka, and Ruszakowski. His great uncle Syl was Sylvester Valentine Ruszakowski. Top that. Lamberg is a real name, not messed up Lambert. There’s a Lamberg Castle someplace in Austria. Len is not a bit interested. Also, the guy who wrote down the lurid tales of Cassanova was a guy named Max Lamberg. I kid you not. 

4. Len does not like to replace things that are still working. (This includes wives.) He bought hiking boots in 1977, had them resoled couple times, and did not replace them until our son bought him new boots in 2021. Yes, that’s 43 years. If you were at my house this summer you may have noticed weird old boots planted with geraniums and now you know why.

5. A babysitter when he was really little had tuberculosis so he’s tested positive for TB all his life. Every few years someone makes him get a lung Xray.

6. His career was in advertising and marketing. Early on he worked on the Happy Meal team at a big Chicago ad agency. If you happen to remember the airport one from the early 80’s, that was Len’s idea and the writing on the box was his writing. His Happy Meal boss said she had never met a person who more perfectly intuited the interests and thought processes of a 6-year-old.

7. When he was young his very cool and very beat-up Mustang caught fire on an exit ramp of an expressway. A refrigeration repair guy pulled up right behind him, jumped out with a fire-retardant chemical he had, sprayed out the fire, and then popped back into his van and drove away. Len doesn’t believe in guardian angels except for that guy.

8. Len is unflappable. Once the basement of our Racine house flooded and he walked down the stairs to several inches of water glistening quietly across the entire floor and all he said was, “Well, this will be something.”

But the first night we came home with our first baby, he went to the stairs to call our dog – and he forgot our dog’s name. He stood there and then quietly whistled, “Hey, Dog, come on up and I’ll feed you.” What’s even funnier is at the same moment I cooed to our newborn daughter, “Oh Lisa, don’t cry.” We had not named her Lisa.

9. He has talked in his sleep exactly twice. Once, early in his advertising career and before we were married he sat up in bed and announced, “Worth every penny!” The second time was in the newborn stage of one of our kids when we were beyond exhausted. The baby cried again one night and Len turned over and mumbled to me, “It’s okay, Mrs. Olson will get her.”

10. He is astonishingly patient when he’s interested in something. (This has also worked out well for me.) He worked a year to restore a 50-year-old outboard motor for our son. Len gets motion sick easily, so it was about the motor, not the ride. He ALWAYS has several projects going on and mostly they work out. Well, the ski jump looking top on the fish tank to keep our cat out was odd but he got better at designing solutions as the years rolled on.

11. This was fun. Maybe next year I’ll tell you more. I can think of a lot of sappy ways to say I love him, but I won’t. You can probably intuit that I like him a lot.





Enjoyed this. Looking forward to next year.
Mary Beth's picture


Happy Birthday!

1) The car that caught fire was a 63 Dodge Dart (slant six, A very good engine, betrayed by bad interior wiring). I also had a mustang that I kept running for several years, and which never shot flames. 2) The imaginary woman who said she'd take care of the baby so we could sleep spelled her name Olsen, with an "e.". The fact that she didn't exist doesn't give us an excuse to be careless.
Mary Beth's picture

Olson spelled with an O is Swedish, with an E is Danish. You were dallying with an imaginary Dane?

Happy birthday, Len. What a lovely tribute, on your birthday, from your loving wife! I learned a lot about Len, and think he’s quite amazing! Big birthday blessings on you both!

Olsen can also be Norwegian...

I guess my first attempt got lost in.... Wherever they go. Happy Birthday, Len! I loved the stories, and could hear how much MB loves YOU. And, I really need Mrs.Olsen's contact info - imagination, or not. It's with a try!
Mary Beth's picture

We will send Mrs. Olson over tonight.

Loved this. Laughed at the dog and Lisa baby story. Happy Birthday, Len!

I like Len a lot too :) Lots of smiles while reading this. Happy Birthday Len!

Have a great, happy, healthy year, Len! I enjoyed reading about you. Made me laugh out loud.

How I laughed! I like Len, too. Patricia

The ability to channel a small child must have lots of advantages! Happy Birthday, Len! Selling up and moving will add a whole new dimension to things. Take it easy, as it sounds like you do.

This is delightful. Len looks wonderful! My family is Bohemian also, they are Chlapecka’s. My mom lived to be a hardy 103. Good stock!

Your love & zest for creating a life being lived so well is a joy to read. Happy birthday Len & love to you both!

Len, Did anyone get you a duck for your birthday this year ? :)

Loved his calm demeanor that he brought to the Jail board. Happy Birthday Len!!!!

This was so delightful to read. What an interesting guy. Luckily you did not name your son Casanova!

Happy Birthday to you Len! Hope you have a great year ahead and many more to come.

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Len’s Birthday


Last week I mentioned that Monday of this week would be Len’s birthday. A friend remarked to me ever so kindly later that day, “I thought his birthday was the 30th?”

It is. Len’s birthday is the 30th. This same friend has commented to me, over the years, about how much I remember.

Covid Diary #1350 Thanksgiving


Today is 1350 days since the that March Friday in 2020 when we all went into quarantine.

Today is 60 years since JFK was assassinated on November 22, 1963. I remember that day, so does Len, so do many of you. Here’s a scary truth. We are as far today from that day – as that day was from the Wright brother’s first flight at Kitty Hawk on Dec 17, 1903.

Quarantine Diary #1349 Sci-Fi & Prophecy


We both took Covid tests this morning and both of us still have pink lines. I asked the internet what this means and it says I might be pregnant.

I have a call into my doctor’s office to discuss. I feel so much better that if I didn’t know I have Covid, I wouldn’t know it. I’ve been sicker than this after too much pie.

Covid Diary #1347


A few of you might realize yesterday we were 1345 days since March 13, 2020, and today we’re at 1347. Yup, I used a different calculator. Just a fun reminder that precision depends as much on asking the right question as doing perfect math.

I’m in day #4 of having Covid. No more chills. I have a fever of 100.4 which is more impressive than the 100.2 that Len achieved on his Day #4.  I’m taking various OTC meds and I keep track of them in my phone’s notes because, wow, it’s so easy to have no memory of the last time one took something. I’m good. Enough.

Covid Diary #1345


I thought I was done with the Covid Diary but guess what? Len and I caught Covid this week! Actually, Covid caught us. We have continued to wear masks in stores, library, meetings, and our church so we will never know for sure where Len encountered Covid. And since I got it four days later, I guess we know where I got it…

My New Substack for Short Stories


Let’s call this “Old Dog Versus New Tricks.” Does it feel to you as if I’ve been extra quiet these past months? It does to me. One big reason is that I’ve been figuring out Substack.

Here’s the deal: In addition to this blog, I’ve been writing more creative fiction. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and I’m finally taking it seriously. I’m not giving up this website, but substack is going to let me concentrate on short stories and other stand-alone pieces.

What’s Substack?

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