Mary Beth Writes

This morning I’m “hosting” coffee with friends via Zoom and I’m kinda nervous about if it will work. 

My congregation has been having virtual coffee hours; it’s such a happy thing to see friends’ faces. Because my church “made” us do this I sort of see how it works and so, why not try with others? During this time any organization that forces us to try options to stay connected - that’s mission accomplished right there.  (So thanks Dave and Dennis and whomever else got this going.)

In my early 20’s I was friends with Julie Molloy-Good. I can still hear her asking, “How hard can it be?”

Guess what? It was pretty easy! I googled Zoom the other night and eventually signed up and accidentally started a meeting right then, with Len, in the same room. Bumpy start but no one got hurt. These companies don’t make money if their products are complicated. They count on folks like us to try their products.

It was a delight to have coffee with pals! One of them pulled a beautiful streusel coffee cake out of the oven while we were talking. That was cruel.

My daughter and grandkids also facetimed with me this morning. They were all on the kitchen floor while the baby crawled. At one point my daughter left the phone on the floor in order to get something from a kitchen cupboard. I was laughing because all I could see were the kitchen lights … until suddenly a big round head chugged into view and there was the baby’s smiley face was looking down at me.    

So I’m thinking today about “learning curves.” Children don’t worry about whether they will be able to do something or not. Our baby boy isn’t trying to crawl well or proficiently. Just put him on the floor and away he goes. 

But when I think about “hosting a zoom meeting” I am so aware I might screw up and careen right off the learning curve into the weeds. It’s easy to anxious about activities that are dependent on a computer, but really, what’s the problem? It’s just a learning curve. We have to pay attention for a while. We have to try and maybe try again. We have to ask Google questions and then WikiHow and if that doesn’t work, ask Len.

So that’s what I have to say about Learning Curves during Quarantine. Don’t worry so much about what you don’t know. Be interested in what you are trying to learn.

PS: The smarty-pants three-year-old ended todays’ conversation with, “Have to let you go now, Grandma. Love you!”

Did you see that statistics show that this quarantine, when strictly observed (no restaurants, church, bars) is working? Wow! We have weeks and months ahead of us, but maybe we will get through.

I also read that it it’s likely that 11 million people in Pacific Rim nations will fall into deep poverty because of the way this is affecting the worlds’ economy. People who are okay now but won't be. I can’t take in how much suffering has, is, and will crater the lives of our fellow humans.

Those of us with shelter and time and enough income on which to live – how will we respond?

What are you thinking of changing?

I’m going to start by tipping more and using Amazon less.

More daily flower mandalas created by my niece Susan. You can follow her on Instagram at Susanlawrence954.  For some reason, my computer doesn't want to do very many photos today, so there will be more tomorrow...



I need to get brave and try the zoom! Laughed out loud at the cruel coffee cake coming out of the oven. Smiled at the precious grandkid interactions. My heart squeezed at all the hardship this is causing.

Thank you!!!!

Lovely piece. I just learned to Zoom on Saturday. It was her 84th birthday and all 5 kids zoomed in at 5 pm to sing happy birthday at the same time. It was fun.
Mary Beth's picture

Zoom is WAY easier than, say, crocheting a dishrag or knitting a Nordic sweater. It's amazing what we let ourselves think is easy and what is hard....

I was wondering who was doing the lovely flower mandalas. Kudos to Susan!

It was a fairly uneventful day today... Breakfast panini and some good new baby news... Then afternoon with George since his therapy at the hospital has been shutdown because of this virus... Home to make dinner and a beer and reading some a-mails from the new guy... And then more sitting here alone like the rest of the world... As for your question's #1- I don't have tons of money but my bills are paid so I'll figure out how to share the rest... #2- I've been forced to put a moratorium on thrifting so I may be used to not doing as much of it by the time this is all over with... #3 I've already started tipping way more in hopes that it might just make a tiny difference in someone's life and as far as I'm concerned Amazon is the devil and I won't be giving them any of my money... But I'm thinking and animal shelter could use the money instead...

That was fun, Mary Beth! Thanks for being brave and making us braver than we thought we were or wanted to be.... And yes, I can almost still smell that coffee cake!...... Love the mandalas! It is impossible for us to really wrap our brains around what is happening everywhere in this world. How will it change us all?,

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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.


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. Life is weird. The day after I read it, Mr. Lopez died.

Advent Light Post 12/24/2020

Judy Saunders. Photo of a Rose.

Lo, how a rose e'er blooming
From tender stem hath sprung,
Of Jesse's lineage coming,
As folks of old have sung.
It came a flower bright
Amid the cold of winter
When half-spent was the night.


Len and I were delivering presents to Chicago yesterday. Social distancing, with masks, but we did it and we saw our kids’ faces and there’s your Christmas, Ma’am.

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