Mary Beth Writes

I said last week that I would list The Dumbest Money Things Len and I have done in our lives.

1. Oops. I forgot to get a graduate degree at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. What would my writing career have been like with top-notch editors, agents, accolades and cash?

I have no idea. I write fiction but I don’t live it

2. I went to Wheaton College, IL, which back when I was there nicknamed itself the “Harvard of Christianity”. At least in the 1970’s (friends from then agree) Wheaton educated and supported smart young Christian men to become leaders – and smart young Christian women to marry them. I got a college education, for which I am grateful. I have no gratitude for pervasive enculturation that told/tells women to sit down and be nice.

Breathe Fire

3. Our son’s wedding is soon. I ordered a dress from an Etsy shop in China. It fits for poop and there are no returns, so I’m out. Karen P. TOLD me to not order fit-sensitive (isn’t that a good phrase? I just made it up) clothing online. Isn’t it interesting how old you can be and still make genuine mistakes?

4. Len and Mark (they’d worked together at the same ad agency) started their own ad agency in 1987. They specialized in parts catalogues, direct mail ads, and “bangtails” (ads on the inside of payment envelopes). About five minutes later computers landed on earth from Mars and Len and Mark’s prodigious skills would freefall for ten years until, as Len says, the agency went to dog heaven.

AKA: Len’s “Advanced Degree” from the Graduate School of Hard Knocks.

5. A young man with bad teeth and a good coat showed up at our Chicago church on Christmas Eve one year. He was friendly and said he worked for Proctor and Gamble. He said his car had been towed and he didn’t have enough money to get it back out. We invited him to our house the next evening for Christmas dinner which was shared with Chicago friends, an undocumented family from El Salvador, my shy mother from Michigan, and this guy. He flirted with my mom as they put together a puzzle. I mean, he was in his 20’s and she was in her 60’s, but he asked her questions, listened to her answers, and complimented her skills. (Mom loved puzzles and was good at them).

We lent him money.

We never saw him again.

Nicest con guy I ever met. (I worked in a jail and knew some…)

6. We didn’t make the switch to a cash-back/rewards credit card until a year ago. Sheesh, if you don’t have one, get one! We’ve set up paying some of our bills through it (such as our health insurance premiums) which means we get 2% back. This adds up!

7. Fancy ingredients. Occasionally we buy gourmet cheese or condiments for special recipes. Why are THESE always the ingredients that go bad? We rarely lose bean soup or tuna casserole; it’s the extra goat cheese and quarter-bouquet of fresh dill that turns to penicillin in the fridge.

9. The third child. We were deciding whether or not to have a 3rd kid. I considered all our baby clothes, the crib, and the cloth diapers. How much could it cost to have a third kid?

Hah! I forgot about college!

I’m joking. There were hard experiences on the path to getting our kids safely born. They are our Everything.

Also, I’m a third kid.

10. We leased a minivan once and it was a lemon. Paid the fines, turned it in early, never leased again.

11. The only trip we ever took to Disney was the week after Easter and it was so crowed we only got to ride two rides, waiting hours for each. I suppose it was just stupid timing, we shouldn’t have gone that day – but I have resented Disney and those five wasted Disney entrance tickets since. They know their capacity; why didn’t they warn patrons the waits were going to be that long?

12. We’ve had friends over for a meal more than once per month the 37 years we’ve been together: this is (Holy Cow!) around 900 shared meals. We tend to make pricey and elegant meals such as spaghetti, pot stickers, rib-bone soups and ethnic stews accompanied by grocery store wine and pretty good beer. Also; pancakes, macaroni, and brownies for our kids and their friends. Boy, without friends we could have had a lot more money for those tours one can take to meet people and make friends.

 ...

I leave you with this pearl of wisdom regarding screwing up.

“Mistakes are a part of being human. Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way. Unless it's a fatal mistake, which, at least, others can learn from.” Al Franken

 

 

 

 

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Less Lemming, More Living

Last week I posted an essay railing against our North American/western maniacal consumerism. We are so deep into climate crisis and into destabilizing world poverty caused by the oligarchy of the few.  Something has to give. Plus this: If we are living on $50,000 a year or more, we are already earth’s top 1%. Isn’t this nuts? It really is up to us to turn back this crazy lemmings’ march to the sea.

Mindful Chickens/ The "Before its Too Late" Edition 5-14-2019

Mindful Chickens   5/14/2019

Other people call them “frugal things I did lately”. I call them Mindful Chickens because they are about:

1. Being Cheap (cheap, cheep).

2. Being thoughtful about how choices affect our community and our earth.

3. Paying attention to the constant tumble of dollars and choices.

These are things we have thought, attempted, and done in the past month to live more lightly and frugally on our City Plot of Planet Earth.

We have to change how we live ...

We can’t go on like this.  Our everyday Western/American lifestyle -- is utterly unsustainable. 

Bread, Tortillas, and Chocolate

 As many of you know, I follow a website called The Non-Consumer Advocate, written by Katy Wolk-Stanley who defines herself as “… library patron, leftovers technician, Goodwill enthusiast, utility bill scholar, labor and delivery nurse, laundry hanger-upper, mother and citizen.” She has purchased very little newly-manufactured consumer goods since she joined The Compact; a movement of people who choose to rethink mindless consumption. http://thenonconsumeradvocate.com/

The Money for Our Brother is Raised

We got the balls rolling!

Irony of the universe here.  I have written a lot this week but none of it turned into writing I wanted to post on this website.  Just awkward, mawkish, rambly writing.

I was hard-thinking why I do this and it wasn’t self-pitying thinking.  (I know how to do that, too, but this wasn’t that.) 

Then late yesterday afternoon Helle said Our Brother needs help and the total of what he needs is more than she could support him with. I said I would think about it.

April 15th is a Rough Day for Many

Here’s something I bet many of you of the “white privilege” class are not aware.

I sure wasn’t thinking about this until yesterday.

Monday is April 15th. All of us know what that means, don’t we?  Ha-ha. Time to get our taxes posted or an extension applied for!

Know what else it is?

Utility cut-off date.  Monday is the last day for people who owe money to their utility companies to pay those bills. If they don’t, their heat and lights go off Tuesday.

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