Mary Beth Writes

3/14/2023  (Happy Pi Day)

Idiosyncrasies are like cave drawings; enigmatic clues that say once upon a time something happened here. A story unfolded. Someone tried to solve a problem. The solution worked, or at least it kept the person comfortable or comforted long enough for the idiosyncratic habit to form.

Such as Rosie the Holstein Cat who joined our family after Len’s sister found her huddling in a Chicago alley. She couldn’t move very well; Lindy had seen some kids trying to kick her which was a miserable way to begin one’s story. She was precariously tiny and had soft fur that blew gently off her all the time and everywhere.

We took her to the vet who did surgery to smooth a hip bone that was broken and poking her on the inside. Poor kitty.  (In case you were wondering, there’s no such thing as a free cat.) After that, Rosie was delightfully lively and spent many years purring her way through her life. 

But she had her idiosyncrasies, that’s for sure. She liked to nab dish rags to hide hither and yon. There was the year we took down the Christmas tree and under the tree skirt found all the dish rags of that holiday season. She also deeply enjoyed milk rings. We bought a new stove years after Rosie had gone on the Great Tea Party in the Sky. We pulled out the old stove to discover hundreds of Rosie’s plastic rings. I kept two that are in my kitchen now.

Rosie had known trauma. She knew treasures need to be protected and hidden and she had the idiosyncrasies to prove it. 

I looked up “famous people idiosyncrasies.”

  • Truman Capote wouldn’t begin or end a piece of work on a Friday, would change hotel rooms if the room phone number involved the number 13, and never left more than three cigarette butts in his ashtray, tucking the extra ones into his coat pocket.
  • Victor Hugo only had a few months in which to write The Hunchback of Notre Dame so he bought one bottle of ink, locked his clothes away, and only wore a grey shawl to keep warm. (Didn’t he have family?) He finished the book in time and considered naming it What Came Out of a Bottle of Ink.
  • Agatha Christie ate apples in the bathtub while thinking up plots.
  • Michelangelo would focus on one project at a time until he finished it. He hated interacting with others so much while he was thinking that he would walk away from people in the middle of a conversations.
  • Model/TV host Heidi Klum carries a pouch of her baby teeth wherever she goes. (Gah!)
  • Mary Shelley wrote with a boa constrictor around her neck. (?)
  • Charles Dickens carried a compass with him to be able to ensure he faced north while he slept—he believed sleeping north increased creativity.
  • Dr. Seuss had a collection of 300 hats. When he had writer’s block, he’d pick one of them to wear.

Idiosyncrasies are poignantly related to our sense of being too small for the tasks at hand. We feel anxious, nervous, not sure if we can pull off the next thing we need to do. Consciously or unconsciously, we develop small, weird tics that somehow give us the spirit we need to go forward. Superstition is when a whole bunch of people agree to take on the same idiosyncrasy.

Athletes. Politicians. Saints. Serial murderers. The rest of us.

Idiosyncrasies help to channel us through our days and lives.

I think I’m done writing.

Time to take off my baseball cap, go downstairs, get a cup of coffee to drink as I stare out the kitchen window and slowly transition to whatever I’m going to do next.

What idiosyncrasies do you have?

Do you know why you do those things?




Had to comment on what you wrote about Rosie knowing trauma and knowing that treasures had to be protected and hidden. Beautifully written! Thank you

Baby teeth in a pouch. A boa constrictor around ur neck. Hmmmm. I gotto think. I suppose I do have some. Ha. Interesting - a good read!
Mary Beth's picture

The baby teeth is really yucky. The boa sounds extreme but interesting. I'm always interested in what motivates writers...

I sure love envisioning Rosie at the great tea party in the sky with her favorite dish towels and lots of milk rings decorating the table. I am sure everyone at the tea party appreciated her idiosyncrasies!
Mary Beth's picture

Awww, I love this, too.

Love this

Cigarette butts in his coat pocket - Truman Capote appeared too fastidious for that.
Mary Beth's picture

One wonders what happened to make him think that was a saving strategy!

Add new comment


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Cats Again (Lost In Racine)


Because I now have my Substack site where I can publish my stories, its more exciting to write fiction. I’m working on a story now.

Meanwhile, here’s a newspaper column of yore. If you like cats, you will probably like it. If you don’t like cats, well, you are missing a lot of grace, humor, and vacuuming opportunities.

We don’t currently want to adopt new cats, but since we’ve now lived with twelve of the world’s finest, we are rich in memories that make us laugh.

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…

Tag Cloud

9/11 17 minutes 500 Words A-Z AARPtaxes AAUW abortion Acadia accident Accountable Advent aging Alaska anniversary antibiotics antlers apples appointments Arrows art Ashland August Augustine aunts baby Badlands balance Baldwin Barbara Barkskins Beauty Becky Becoming Esther Berry birthday bistro BLM Blue BookReport books boy scout Bread BrokenDays BuyAngry Cabeza de Vaca Cahokia calendars Canada canoe cat romance cats cello Chicago China Choosing Christmas cilantro Cinnabuns circus climate change clouds Clowns clutter Colonialism comet ComfortZone CommonSense community consumerism Cops Corvid-19 Courage Covid-19 Crazy creditreport creosote crime CrimeShows danger DarkRiver death Debate December DecisionFatigue decluttering democracy dentist depression Destination Today Detroit Didion disasterprep dogs dollhouse Dreams Duty Easter eBay Echoes Eclipse election EmilyDickinson eschatology Esquipulas exit polls eyes Fable FairTrade family farmer Fata Morgana ferns firealarm Fitness Five Flatbread Flexible flu Food Pantry Fort de Chartres frame Franc FrancGarcia friends frugal FrugalHacks Frugality frustration Ft.Ticonderoga fungi fusion Galena Gannets Garden GarfieldParkConservatory Gaspe genius geode GeorgeFloyd gerrymandering ghosts gifts girls GNTL gorgons goulash GovernorThompsonStatePark Graduation grandkids granola Grief groceries Guatemala gum guns Hair happiness HaveYouEver? hawks healthcare Healthinsurance hearings heart heaven HelleKBerry heroes hike History home HomeRepair Honduras Hope HowCrowGotOutofJail humor hurricane Ice Cream idiosyncrasy igloos impeachment Innkeeper Instincts integrity InternetPrivacy Interview InviteMe2Speak James Baldwin Jan 6 Janus jewelry JoyceAndrews Judy JulianofNorwich Jump justice Karen kites ladder Lady Lamb LangstonHuges LaphamPeak laundry LeeLeeMcKnight lemming Len Light Lincoln Little Women LockedOut Loki loneliness LouisArmstrong Love Ludington Macaw macho Manitoulin MargaretFuller Maria Hamilton Marquette marriage Marsden Hartley masks Mayan MayaWorks meme Memories men Middlemarch MilesWallyDiego MindfulChickens Mistakes MLK moon Mother MothersDay mounds mouser movies museums must-haves Mustapha NAMI Nancy Drew Newfoundland New Mexico New York City Nomadland nope observation OBUUC Ocotillo OnaJudge ordinary OscarRomero osprey Outside oximeter Parade mayhem PastorBettyRendon Paul Hessert PDQ Penny persimmon photos Pi Pies pineapples pizza poetry Preaching privacy procrastination Protest QE2 Quern quest Questions Rabbit holes racism reading recipe recipes recommendations Remember RepresentationMatters Reruns responsetoKapenga Retirement rhubarb Ricky rime RitesofPassage romance Rosemary Ruether Roses Roti Ruth SamaritanWoman Sanctuary Sandhillcranes Santuario de Chimayo SaraKurtz SaraRodriguez satellites sci-fi ScottSimon sculpture Seasons Sermon ServantsoftheQuest sewing Shepherd Shontay ShortStory shoulder sick sickness Slower snow Social Security SofritoBandito solstice South Dakota SpaceShuttle spirituality spring square feet staining stars stele Stereotypes stories StoryStarts stream monitoring stress SUBSTACK Survival swim Talent taxes teenager thankgsgiving Thanksgiving TheBridge TheMaid ThePerpetualYou therapy ThreeBillBoards Three Thing ThreeThings Three Things TidalBore TimeBeing toddler Tom tortillas Trains travel Traveler Tubing turtle Twilight Bark Tyrone Ukraine Ulysses Grant Umbrella UnrelatedObservations Up North urgency vacation vaccine Valentines vanilla Vietnam vision VivianWokeUpDrowning Vocabulary vole volunteer WalkingAndSeeing Wampanaog war WarsanShire weather weaving Webs wedding whines WhyAttendChurch Wiley Willa WillaCather Wisteria Won! Wonder words Xeriscape Yellowstone Zebra
Ad Promotion