Mary Beth Writes

I am preaching this coming Sunday at my church. I think if you check our website Sunday morning (11/29) between 9:20 and 9:30 - the URL for the service will be there. The November theme for UU’s  is Healing, so that’s what I am preaching about. https://www.uniteduuc.org/

I am about to go downstairs right now and record it, which is going to be a challenge for Len and I both. I hope the laptop doesn’t fall over. I hope Len can figure out how to send it to Dennis the Tech Wizard. I hope other people don’t judge me as harshly as I judge myself. I’m working on that. Aren’t we all…

This is my take on the past weeks of Trump & Co trying to "win" the election when he didn't:

When I ran the employment program in the jail, I worked with small groups of guys who were qualified to be in the Huber dorm. We’d spend a week doing employability skills workshops, then there were designated times the guys (sometimes females, but that was rare) could leave the jail to look for jobs.

Not all the people had good enough clothes because what folks are wearing when they are arrested is often, well, lackadaisical. Usually I could call their family to bring clean clothes. Sometimes, though, a guy wouldn’t be from the area or he had burned so many bridges no one was going to help him.

So I collected clothes. Not piles of things, I wasn’t running a dress-for-success program. Most of the people would be going to employment agencies to get warehouse jobs; no one expected them to look super spiffy. But they did need a few things, especially warm jackets in winter. Some of my friends would give me items when they were decluttering closets. Judge Jack Jude (RIP) brought things he no longer was wearing. Often the donated items were excellent quality.

Three times in the 10 years I did that job this circumstance occurred. A guy would come into my office the first day of job search. He would see that beautiful men’s wool coal, or that Columbia down-filled jacket, or that pristine upscale team logo hoodie. The guy would make a beeline for the item and claim it. Then when it was 1:00 PM and they were supposed to be back – those individuals were not. 

The third time this happened I saw the pattern.

There is a kind of person who will take anything that they can get.

A free employment program that can get them out of jail for a few hours? Sure! Though this person was not thinking about work and opportunity, they were using the program as a Get Out of Jail Free card. Which it was not.

Free quality clothing? This person never looked around to see if anyone else needed that item more than they did. They just grabbed.

Cheaters and takers.

The main difference between the jail guys and what we have seen in the White House is that when I worked with actual inmates, I found three super-cheaters in 10 years.

I’m not one who determines to be thankful everyday in November in order to celebrate Thanksgiving. I don’t know how to whip up a feeling, and if it isn’t a feeling – how is that thankfulness? It’s just words.

However, I do like to notice when thankfulness happens, as it has two times already this morning. I am happy about the luxury of hot water. Hot water on one’s neck and shoulders after a restless night. Hot baths on evening when one did too many bendy-twisty things in the day. Warm water to wash stuff off the surprised cat. Hot water is such a gift to those of us who have it.

I also love house-brand cheerios and raisin bran mixed together with extra raisins on top. It’s simple and filling and I am grateful one of my favorite meals on earth is that easy to pull off. 

I’m grateful (I guess) that I never got used to my writing earning me lots of money. If I associated writing and money, then I’d be looking for assignments instead of paying attention to the day I am in and thinking about how it goes.

I am grateful for Sandhill cranes. They are flying south in Wisconsin now. A person can be outside and suddenly hears them squawking, so then one has to scan the sky like a subpar Christmas Shepherd looking for the angels. Suddenly you see them, splinters of silver as high as clouds. I never saw or heard a Sandhill crane until about a dozen years ago, and now there are so many. I’m super grateful to whatever effort went in to making room for them in our world and sky again. (Our road trip to see 600,000 Sandhill Cranes two years ago is here.) 

Has any thankfulness surprised you lately?

Len and I are doing Thanksgiving alone. Our kids told us this in September; I am grateful to have kids who are bossy like this. I just picked up our fresh turkey, which seems like an optimistic thing to call a dead bird in a bag but whatever. Len and I will eat a LOT of meat, the rest will transmogrify into many cartons of broth filled with meat, that we will freeze, that will be the base of a lot of soups going far forward into next year.

Like most of you, I have been part of many large and lovely Norman Rockwell holiday feasts in my time. And also like a lot of you, I miss my kids, But I am not heartbroken about missing a big family dinner.

Ask me what holidays I remember, and this one always pops to the surface. The year I was 22 I was scheduled to work the day before and after Christmas at the plant/flower shop in Union Station. Retail work, right? So I stayed in city in the apartment I shared with Hedy and Sharon, who went to their homes for the week. I was alone. I talked to my mom on the phone. I listened to Linda Ronstadt ‘Heart Like a Wheel’ all day. I cut out dozens of paper snowflakes and taped them to the high, drafty windows of our apartment on South Loomis.

It was a quiet day, but I was not sad. I belonged to myself. I took care of myself with music and a project. It was one of the richest holidays I’ve ever known.

I wish you a good Thanksgiving.

What music you are going to listen to?

 

 

 

  

 

Comments

Thank you. Pieces touched my heart!!!
Mary Beth's picture

Thank you!

Simple pleasures often offer the most thankfulness. This year I am thankful for computer zoom gatherings. Cheerios - Raisin Bran and extra raisins. That sounds awesome. I only have raisins in the house. Darn - just shopped today. Happy Thanksgiving, gf!
Mary Beth's picture

When the kids were little we sometimes called raisins bug eyes, because what 3rd grader doesn't want to offer bug-eye muffins to their friends?

Having Thanksgiving alone this year, not because it was planed... Mr *B* and I had planned on cooking together for our first holiday together but like most of us those plans have been thwarted... I did a drive-by last Wednesday with a picnic basket of food that I left on his porch, rang the doorbell and took off before he could see me... The thankful text that night made the trip totally worthwhile...

My daughter was told today that her MRI last Thursday showed no cancer.....so you can guess what I am most thankful for this year. And because I have not yet had to suffer the grief of losing anyone to the virus....yet......
Mary Beth's picture

Oh Michol, Yes we can imagine what you are thankful for. This is a 600-year-old northern European Christmas carol, always sung in Latin. It's marveling that God was born among us. These are some of the words: It is now the time of grace That we have desired; Let us sing songs of joy, The closed gate of Ezekiel Has been passed through; From where the light rises Salvation is found. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDc2FD-vy8M

Mary Beth, Your words often transport me to a different place!! I like the concept of noticing what the everyday holds. I am taking a beginning photography class, and love exploring a natural landscape, simple cell phone camera in hand, noticing the light, the structure of mountains, plants, and trees around me, lost in another world for an hour or two. The photos may not be spectacular, but evoke in me a sense of joy. Thanks for the story about your Thanksgiving alone at our apartment on Loomis Street. Took me straight back to that time, and your "ICU" for ailing plants. Thanks for your words, Hedy

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Quarantine Diary #312

“You know me, I think there ought to be a big old tree right there. And let's give him a friend. Everybody needs a friend.” ― Bob Ross

This tree lives in Waukesha and stopped me in my tracks when I was out for a walk.

...

 When will this Quarantine Diary end? When Len and I drive out not wearing masks to go to a place where we will stay overnight. Just letting you know. FYI we started last year on Friday the 13th of March.

 …

Quarantine Diary #308 1/15/2021

My life is pretty fine, and I bet yours is, too. Warm place to live. Food to eat. Friends to share and laugh with - even if we have to do it via Zoom.

At the same time, who isn’t feeling anxiety and dread? Will the white supremacist insurrectionist knobs attack the inaugural? Will they screw up state capitols and infrastructure? One lone guy blew up Nashville a mere three weeks ago. What the hell is going on?

Quarantine Diary #307 Brain Names

Remember when there was no autism? Sure, there were kids in our schools who were weirdly able to remember stuff, or were hard to control, or whose emotions triggered at the oddest time. We generally ignored those kids. Those of us who were kind did, anyways. Others bullied. 

Remember the mopey kids in high school who knew too much about depressing art and angsty music and sometimes killed themselves?

Quarantine Diary #306 Hunched Over & Paying Attention

I am going to write some Quarantine Diary entries again. There’s a lot going on and sometimes it helps to hear a small voice as well as the big voices of journalists, pundits, networks, the other public media we follow.

I have had a small headache off and on for days. I worried that I might have contracted Covid, except dang it, I haven’t gone anywhere! And then, thinking about it, I realized I am hunched over my phone much more than usual. These mild on-again, off-again headaches are from eyestrain and weird posture.

Rime and Treason

These photos were taken by Len on Monday in that other time and world that existed before the Trump gorgons mobbed the Capitol. (Gorgons existed in Greek literature. Gorgons are the poisonous siblings with hair of living snakes. Those who beheld them face-to-face turned to stone. Or were killed by being beaten by a fire extinguisher.)

I have been trying to write about that but it is too hard. There is so much that is clear and is informative. You are reading it as much as I am. Blessed be the journalists, right? 

Quarantine Diary #292 New Year's Eve

Many of us feel as if we are in limbo until Biden takes office. I don’t think you need me to say a lot about how long and hard this year has been; we’ve been in this dentist’s chair together.

But...

Did you see how many days quarantine has lasted? 292 days.

So far.

This week I read a remarkable essay. On Natural Landscapes, Metaphorical Living, and Warlpiri Identity, by Barry Lopez. https://lithub.com/. Life is weird. The day after I read it, Mr. Lopez died.

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