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. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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 #141 August 5, 2020 "Red Dust"

I just finished reading “Red Dust – A Path Through China” by Ma Jain. It is a quietly stupendous memoir.

Ma Jain was born in the 50’s, grew up very poor in a small Chinese city. He remembers when his mom would simmer stones for dinner - not because they were going to eat that - but so that the neighbors would see her cooking and not know how poor they were. A whole different take on the children’s tale "Stone Soup".

Quarantine Diary #140 7/31/2020 Wishing you a Merry Quarantine Weekend

When I’m in a certain mood I love how-to articles – and I’m in that mood right now. I think it happens at the intersection of reasonable weather and Friday ... when happiness still seems possible.

I googled “How to have a nice weekend in the time of Covid” and guess what? There are no Wiki-How articles on how to be happy in a pandemic.

Let’s invent this right here, right now.

Quarantine Diary #134 Written while sweating …

My best coping skill for appalling weather is to show it who is boss. 30 below?  Cool. Let me put on all my clothes plus a hat down to my eyebrows and another one up to my glasses, and I’ll go out there.

Quarantine Diary #131 7/23/2020 "Becoming Labrador"

Yesterday I forgot to write about a movie we watched which I think many of you might like to watch, also.  We’ve been talking here about what one can stand to read and watch these days when our spirits are stressed and anxious.

I thought I wanted to reprise some of our Canada travels.  FYI, if you’ve traveled in a place you loved, put that place into your streaming service Search window, find some great or mediocre documentaries about that place, and revisit your memories.  It’s fun.

Quarantine Diary #130 7/22/2020 What's in your glass?

In the last few weeks one of my knees has decided it is the current star of the MB show. I overused it one day, I know when that was, ever since it’s been wonky. I have to baby it otherwise it hurts more than a little. Aging isn’t for wusses. 

I am walking less because walking a lot makes it worse.  I CAN ride a bike as much as I want since that doesn’t exacerbate the situation. I’m trying to weigh less, which is its own comedy.

Quarantine Diary #124 7/17/2020 As if it makes sense …

Our family lost a friend this week. I won’t go into too many details other than Tom died of a bike accident on a sunny day while riding in the country with friends. His wheel somehow got stuck in gravel, he fell, the fall twisted, and he died.

This is not his obituary or eulogy. This is a just a reflection on losing friends and how do we make sense of this?

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