Mary Beth Writes

Why are people (lots of them) on Facebook posting photos of landscapes? The instructions say one should post a picture of a landscape one took somewhere, one should not say where that place is, and no people should be included, especially not the posting-person.  

Why? I don’t get it. I don’t mind but I really don’t get how this connects to anything.

A friend’s husband’s company had a virtual meeting this morning about the future of their company. Things are changing but not shutting down. They will still have income and insurance.  Thought you might like to know.  

Len and I have been watching the Hobbit and Lord of the Ring movies. There are six movies; each about three hours long, and we started weeks ago. We’d never watched them before (raising kids takes a lot of time). It seemed like this might be a good time to watch movies about being gallant and brave.

So far we’ve watched four of the six films, we still have two DVD’s that I borrowed from the library before it closed. Boy, a lot of drama goes into finding the ring, keeping the ring, taking the ring back to the fire from whence it came in order to set Middle Earth free from greed and violence. 

Bilbo Baggins is the hobbit; he is the only one who can carry, keep, or deal with the Ring. He is inoculated from the ravages of power because he has a home, a shire, friends, a garden, and pleasant things to cook and eat.

I hope it is true that bravest people are not about fury, power, weapons, and violence. I hope we mild ones who love our shires and pals will be the ones to endure. It’s the story most of us choose to we believe even when it isn’t the story that seems to be happening around us.

In the 1980’s I interviewed a Salvadoran nun about the dangers and challenges of her ministry in civil war-torn El Salvador, a war greatly funded by the US “protecting” American business interests in Central America.  Towards the end of the interview my toddler woke from her nap and came downstairs by herself.

The nun’s face lit up. I said it was almost our daughter’s birthday. She asked how we would celebrate and was fascinated by whatever I was answering.

The woman had lived and served through incredible loss and violence, yet what she wanted to talk about was my little one’s birthday party. I was curious and asked how kids’ birthdays are celebrated in El Salvador.

She explained that no matter how poor or under siege a village was, folks tried to have chicken, something sweet, and some balloons or garland, “because every child must be celebrated, don’t you think?”

I think that is what the Hobbit stories are about.

Know what you are fighting for.


My take-aways on the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit series:

Weinstein produced the LOTR series. peter Jackson did not audition Mira Sorvino or Ashley Judd for LOTR parts because the Weinstein brothers told him they were “temperamental.” He sued to get profits from the Hobbit series that he did not produce. You can google it if you want to know more. 

So hindsight is the clearest vision, right?  But watching the spectacular, clever, macho stories feels oddly boring much of the time. Way too many battles. Way too much spectacular death.

And the female roles feel mostly like frames for the male characters.

When they say the ends justify the means, maybe we look again? How does unholy power create a story about holy power? 

Still, under the multi-million-dollar froth and gore, there is a story of imperialistic greed that sours the planet. The way through grief, loss, and struggle is this. Gandalf, who generally understands what’s going on, and Bilbo, who rarely does, and all the valiant or screwball characters in between – they push ahead together. Wisdom, spirituality, pluck and luck mean something.

I do love this line. “Sorry Gandalf. You have got yourself the wrong hobbit.”

Except he doesn’t. He has exactly the right Hobbit.





Thank you.

53 years ago I read the first book of the series and only remember Bilbo Baggins and the creepy thing in the cave that hissed "My Precious." I always meant to read the rest of the series, but I guess I won't. All I have to do is turn on the news and watch the creepy guy saying "This is a hoax, I don't take responsibility." I prefer instead---the doctors and nurses and volunteers who are saying, "Hey, let me help!" I prefer to watch the Navy ships sailing into the harbors of our big cities in order to help the citizenry. I prefer the people who are taking food to neighbors or sheltering housefuls of offspring against disease. I prefer to idolize the doctors and nurses who are struggling to comfort the afflicted. I like that I can take responsibility. I like being a Bilbo Baggins.
Mary Beth's picture

Smeagol/the Gollum (the skinny creepy white blobby guy who hisses "my precious" when he talks to himself) is kind of an interesting character. When Bilbo addresses him with his proper name and asks his story and gives him respect - he becomes a better character. A reality any teacher could explain.. But he doesn't keep his self-esteem (at least, so far) and then reverts to be dangerous and creepy.

"Every Child Must Be Celebrated don't you think?" I Love that line and YES I Do... Today I laughed at some messages I got from Brad this morning, sent out my morning HELLO's and went to George's earlier than usual because it was a three hour day and I needed to get it over and done with as soon as possible... Why the rush at a time when we are mostly stuck at home? Because I needed to "Celebrate A Child" My child ( Not really but Yes My child ) A story too long to tell now but a good one...Today is Angela's Birthday and she's been home with her two dogs, so not alone but alone... I had called her the night before and told her that I would stop and pick up Indian food and bring it over to her to celebrate her day... I kNOW!!! Stay away from people but NOT that one and certainly not today... I went to the Taj, Placed my order for dinner for two, Ordered an Indian beer ( It's 5 o'clock somewhere, and asked the owner how bad is it?? She turned around from writing my order, waved her arm around the empty restaurant and said "That Bad" and then she said NOT GOOD and went back to the kitchen.( My heart felt for her ) Her husband came out and asked how spicy I wanted the butter goat? I told him medium because it was for Angela's Birthday but to add some Hot curry beef to the order... We talked about this whole mess as he rang me up... I handed him $100.00 for my $64.00 take out order and told him to keep the change... ¿Generous? Not Really... Not when you realize that I have spent every Wednesday at the Taj at my window table having lunch and talking with the owner about everything... He knows more about the little details of my life than most of my friends do... Someone I met for lunch asked if I wanted some chi and when she went to get it. and grabbed the wrong shape cup he corrected her and said he drinks from that kind... They know me, The cook knows me and introduced me to his DIL and his Granddaughter when they came in... I'm invested and it breaks my heart to see this happening to these people and all the others out there... The tip was no big deal ( All my bills are paid ) but it just might help a little bit... They've given me much more through the years than I can ever repay... My order came out and they sat down in the empty restaurant to have lunch... As I got up to leave the owner said "Thank you for coming, We really appreciate it." I cried in the car because I know they truly mean it... I took the food over to Ángela's we ate, we talked, we laughed, we spent her day with the most important person in our lives and We hung out content in the fact that we love each other to the moon and back and always will....
Mary Beth's picture

Yeah. Happy Birthday to Angela and also to you... One of the things I have done and one can do to support the "little businesses" that mean so much to us. Buy Gift Certificates NOW to use later. It's money in their cash registers now. With the understanding some businesses won't make it, so the gift cert might end up as a donation after all.

I haven’t read the books nor seen the movies. Hmmm - on my list. Thankful and thank u for the nod to our security. Makes the hardness that is now, a little easier for us.

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Quarantine Diary #66, 5/24/2020 Zoom Birthday

This week we Zoom-celebrated (zoom-abrated?) the first birthday of our grandson. This was a very different kind of party in our family which ALWAYS celebrates kid’s birthdays. We always have over a few too many friends and relatives. We always have a mound of presents the kids doesn’t actually need. We always have appetizers and pizza, an activity for kids, and a cake. We always sing Happy Birthday too slowly while the kid stares at the candles.

Quarantine Diary #65 – 5/22/2020 Shontay & Irresistible Iridescence

Science Daily website reports this scientific discovery. Bats have an unusual mammal response to viruses they encounter; they don’t get sick to fight the virus like the rest of us mammals do. Instead they act as a kind of long-term host for viruses. A bat is a repository of the viruses it has encountered in its batty life.

Quarantine Diary #64, 5/20/2020 Twenties & Assets

First of all, tonight at 8:20 the time will be 20:20 on 20/2020. If you have kids, or if you are your own odd duck, I think that would be a good time to celebrate. When our kids were young we celebrated New Year’s Eve by piling, on a table on a tablecloth, a crazy stack of metal cookie sheets, muffin tins, bread pans, and bowls. When midnight struck they would try to pull the tablecloth out from under the stack, everything would teeter and then tumble with a terrific crash and the cats would run and it was satisfying.

New Photo & Old Column About Spring

The photo is from this morning and is for you, Michol! This dam on the Fox River is alive with rushing water.

Quarantine Diary #63 - 5/18/2020 Flooding, It's changing now

We had three inches of rain here yesterday. This is what the Fox River by Riverwalk condominiums looks like today.

While I was walking along here, an older woman (says me, ahem…) was standing on her sidewalk with her nervous beagle, looking at the over-its-banks river.

Quarantine Diary #62, 5/16/2020 - Invisible Crisis, Spring

Little Women Again: Louisa May Alcott volunteered as a nurse during the Civil War. She intended to serve three months but after several weeks she became deathly ill with typhoid pneumonia and went home. Typhoid was treated at that time with a medication made with mercury. She survived typhoid but would deal the rest of her life with an autoimmune disease possibly triggered by the mercury.  

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