Mary Beth Writes

I have noticed that I am talking more than usual and generally, I am talking about something pandemic-related.  I live with Len plus I often talk/email/text with kids or friends throughout an ordinary day. So sure, I converse pretty often. But I am noticing that I am interrupting Len and myself more often to say stuff – often crazy, scary, outrageous news I’ve just read.

Being in the house 24/7 with another person can slowly turn one into a living radio who takes in the new news and then broadcasts it back out to whomever is closest. Which is another way to stew in perpetual anger and to live right on the surface of this crisis.

I’m going to pay more attention.  I don’t want the agenda in my head to be set by the agenda that’s out there.   

What about you? Are you talking/chatting more than usual ? 

All my adult life I have paid a LOT of attention to how we buy groceries. You know, buy less, cook simpler foods, buy things when they are on sale. Pay attention to prices, pay attention to the total one pays per grocery store trip and then per week or month.

Three weeks into this quarantine and Whammo! Decades of shopping strategy out the window.  We are not shopping inside stores like many are still doing.  Pick n’ Save will shop for us if we make a list a few days ahead. Then they will deliver it or we can drive to the store and pick it up curbside. The cost is minimal, so we do this. We tip well. We are grateful.

But this means a person we don’t know takes our list and puts our stuff in a cart and rings it up. We can ask for one kind of flour but if the store doesn’t have it, we are grateful for whatever ends up in our order. Sometimes the eggs are organic and free-range. Sometimes they are the eggs from tortured chickens. We eat them. Gratefully.

Never eating “out” saves so much it doesn’t really make much difference if the bag of carrots is one dollar or two. We are buying the same ingredients as ever, but we are not paying attention to the price.

I finally understand what it feels like to be wealthy. We know what we want, we can get it without harm, we know how to cook it, we eat well.

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday and next week is Easter.  In case you have a boatload of traditions around one or both of these holidays – and now those traditions are kaput – let me suggest you celebrate these days the way Jesus’ original disciples did.

Go outside. Pay attention. Later, write down what you witnessed. 









I just wanted to push the like button, and then realized this is not Facebook, thank God! Steve and I just had an arguement about this very thing. My being a news junkie! He needs respite more than I do, but really, it is so important to step away and breathe!
Mary Beth's picture

I heard myself this morning telling Len things that he was reading right at that moment! I know I breathe and think and sleep better when I pay attention to more than the little phone in my hand. It's so addictive.

You are right Mary Beth, we are so preoccupied by this nightmare that is happening in our world, that it is hard sometimes to appreciate the lessons to be learned and the messages our wounded Mother Earth wants us to understand. I hope we learn. I hope we listen.
Mary Beth's picture

Last week I went for a walk with Len in our neighborhood, no big deal. I was try hing to NOT think about stuff I already know. I was trying to just pay attention to my little world. And boom, saw a huge barn tucked behind a building we have walked past many times. Realized the house and barn were probably once a hotel and stable in the 1800's. And THEN I spied a muskrat running back and forth by a little drainage pond, probably building a nest for immanent young-in's. There is this whole world around us.

I want to say first that I am really enjoying your diary -- so many of your thoughts are similar to mine. I especially enjoy your thoughts that are new to me, that spur me to think of new things or in a different way about old things. I think I would find it very challenging to be cooped up 24-7 with another person for an extended period of time. I live alone so my talking is via phone, email, text, and Facebook -- I am making a point of limiting the amount of Covid-19 content in my conversations. I gave up watching news and late night TV for Lent and may never resume it. I do read a lot though--NYT, WPost, WSJ, Economist, Atlantic, New Yorker, Brookings Newsletter, PBS and NPR newsletters, and more -- a news and politics junkie must be informed. However, I find that I am reading more selectively and skimming more shallowly. I am diverting my mind from reality with fiction, biographies; and streaming dramas, and the occasional comedy or the even more occasional romance (think Sense and Sensibility). I am a person who loves staying home so this is not really a hardship, but even so, knowing that I cannot go anywhere seems to incite some latent desire to do so!
Mary Beth's picture

In the late 70's Stan Hallett was my group adviser at Garrett seminary (Hi Otis and Kathleen!) I remember one day, to promote discussion among people who were on their way to becoming ministers (whatever) he asked us where we went for our news. I listened to NPR and that was it. Others - even less. His question challenged me to pay attention to news sources and to be critical of them. But can you imagine, 8-10 people in graduate school - and most barely paid any attention top any news? Different world.

Always food for thougt.....thank you so much for this .....

I have noticed I sweat more when I'm talking on phone or via Zoom (or some other virtual platform). Is this normal? Knowing me, probably not. I don't know if it's related to content, anxiety over too much screen usage, or temperature of the room I'm talking in. LOL. Maybe a mixture? More questions than answers over here...but natural deodorant in these turbulent times is NOT cutting it.
Mary Beth's picture

I totally get this! I am having "symptoms" hand over fist and it's one of the things I mean to write about one of these days. For two days I heard maracas behind me. Very quiet maracas. Also I was a tad dizzy. All other systems were go, I had my annual physical recently ago - I'm fit. Two days later, the dizzy maracas stopped. Stress is weird and real.

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Quarantine Diary #67 5/27/2020 White People

When I’m not here at my desk, I’m outside in the dirt. I have spent much of the past week in my backyard doing cute projects, clearing weeds, planting seeds, moving plants. I even moved a tree! (Granted, it was a small tree.)

In about an hour I will be out there again until all my little vegetable and basil plants are planted. It’s supposed to rain this afternoon.

So that’s part of my quarantine, I’m dickering around in my own yard. Suits my introverted mood.

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.

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