Mary Beth Writes

This morning I listened to my UU congregation’s virtual service. In the sermon Rev. David Kraemer AKA my friend Dave, read a quote that he said he read in one of my diary entries this past week.

The quote is from Albert Camus’ The Plague. “It may seem a ridiculous idea, but the only way to fight the plague is with decency.” Another character asks what decency is. “Doing my job,” the doctor replies.

The essay Dave remembered is not, alas, mine. He must have read this very powerful piece in the NYT that I highly recommend.  Read it here.  

Do you know how flattered I feel to have been conflated with a writer for the NYT?  Thank you, Dave, for the compliment.

I am living a great deal of my quarantined life in rabbit holes. 

I need to know how to make sourdough starter because the two we have tried so far have not worked. So I google it but there are 17 different ways to begin starters and I should pick one of them except one of the side links leads to the intriguing your woman who has dozens of short videos showing how she makes everything in her life from materials and plants she gathers from her Chinese mountainside. She is young and beautiful and rarely speaks except in Chinese (of course) to her grandmother. They look like Fairy Tales characters. This is just one of them. There are many. 

Or questions arise (when helping your kid do schoolwork, or an email conversation with your cousin, or your smarty-pants partner makes some smarty-pants remark that you think is wrong). You Wikipedia the question at hand, and what you learn is so interesting you decide you need to read a book about it, but that means downloading the library’s Libby program to your old Kindle.

Right then, your daughter sends you a picture of your grandkids or your grand-cat.

Where did the day go?

Just me? 

I’m living in rabbit holes.

Are you getting used to quarantined life?  Things are different now.

  • Last night we dealt with this week’s groceries without inventing a plan about how to do it. Len picked it up at the store at our appointed time slot.  We soaked, dunked, or wiped everything we brought in the house, then threw away all the plastic bags.  A mere month ago I was proud of the non-disposable produce bags I used at the store.  We’re tossing plastic again. 
  • Sitting on the sofa to listen to my church’s sermon (which I like, can we put sofas in the sanctuary when this is over?).
  • I’m no longer asking if I can pet cute dogs when I’m out walking. The dog doesn’t need my germs and I don’t need his.
  • I step into the grass or a driveway to let other walkers pass me by.
  • I text my children most evenings to ask them how their days were, and amazingly often, they answer!  They aren’t on their way out to anything, either. (Actually, our son has taken up evening fishing.)
  • It’s hard to remember what day it is.
  • I am on social media more than I’ve been in my life but I’m not giving myself a hard time about it.  So much is informative or touching or FUNNY!
  • I see families out for a walk together.
  • The low price of gas.
  • The world is quieter. I miss the all-day merry-go-round of sports teams at the Carroll University soccer field we can see from our bedroom window. Saturdays and Sundays are now as quiet as Tuesdays. 
  • Being with people, even virtually, evokes little moments of delight. I feel the juice of sociability that sort of bubbles up inside me and causes a smile to pop.

What’s a new routine for you?

Comments

TY

I’m learning how to use Zoom! This morning I “went” to my church’s coffee hour. But I have disabling anxiety, so when I saw all the people, most of whom I know and like, I panicked and closed the iPad cover. When I opened it again, there was a microphone symbol. When I touched it all of the people came back! Could they hear me? I closed the cover and tip-toed around the apartment. Then I got a text from a friend [wink], the pastor thought I might be having difficulty getting on, so the helped me. First experience survived. Maybe next time I’ll talk!
Mary Beth's picture

Zoom is powerfully and curiously helpful... we need each other's faces. I think we must be wired this way. The way a dog will walk into a room, come over and get us to pet it a little, thus making face and voice recognition happen - and then it settles down. We sort of know who we still are when we see each others' faces.

It was good to see familiar faces. Living alone I don’t see many. Thank heaven for Zoom. On Monday we are having an extended family “gathering”.

My Great niece is supposed to move into a new apartment on May 1st and is expecting her first child... She's concerned about she and the baby being affected by the corona virus... She's staying in as much as she can... She was planning a baby shower before this all started which is now not going to happen... She's also worried about having to deliver the baby alone in the hospital which is putting more of a strain on her already worried mind...
Mary Beth's picture

That's a lot of unknowns for her. We wish her well.
Mary Beth's picture

Wait. Do I know this great niece? Axia?

Nope, Sonia the oldest of Faye's kids... I can't remember if you met her at the funeral or not. The reminder of that dreadful time is right around the corner.( I hate Easter for reminding me ) She's the young woman in the photo with Mother in the "Sofrito" story...
Mary Beth's picture

Thanks. And best heartfelt wishes to all waiting this out.

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"Brotherhood" by Mohamed Mbougar Sarr - A Book Review

10/13/2021

“Brotherhood” by Mohamed Mbougar Sarr is the most compelling novel I’ve read this year. I read the first half as if I was reading a book for the first time; it felt as if the writer was expressing a story so powerful he called it fiction just to get it out, to me, to us. 

I skimmed the second half because I was exhausted by the impossible trauma and decisions the characters would need to endure and try to survive.

Let me say right here than many will survive. Not all.

Thanks & Now Let's Do Pups!

10/13/2021

 Thank You!

I sent our collated list of “Ways to Help My Community” to the Third Graders this morning.  Laura has already shared it with them; I just received this from one kid. This was really cool and helpful thank you for coming back to me so quickly well you always respond quickly like all the time and also I like hiring (hearing) from you always make me smile from writing to pictures I love them all.”

3rd graders on Community Building

10/12/2021

... 

I’m just back from volunteering in the third grade.  I’ve done this for five years; Laura Zahn who is this class’s teacher, plus her friend and fellow teacher Mara, have become among my favorite people in Waukesha. 

My Relationship with a Door 10/5/2021

Dear Friends,

I seem to be out of Deep Thoughts lately. Not sure if this is apparent to you but it is to me. This is not exactly a problem but keeps me guessing what in the world I should be writing. Or - since “should” is a sometimes toxic and generally unhelpful word – these days I am not sure what you want to read and I want to write.

So maybe I’ll just write you a quick Dear Friends. Sometimes relationships are just about checking in.

Up North 9/30/2021

Here’s why I’ve not posted anything in nearly two weeks.

Last week Len and I took a trip to Duluth, MN and Ashland, WI. We hiked seven hikes, met new friends, ate too much. (We didn’t eat IN restaurants. We ate take-out dinners while sitting in our car overlooking Chequamegon Bay.) We marinated in the breezy Up North rhythms of woods, streams, rivers, and Lake Superior. 

Then we came home to all that stuff one does up returning; laundry, groceries, and bringing in the Big Dozers to deal with cat litter boxes. 

Cabeza de Vaca & Company: A 500-Year Old Story for Our Time.

I’ve been thinking about Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca for years and I’ve also been thinking about him for a week.

It’s crazy out there in the world right now and people are, I think, kinda sick of each other. Racism, sexism, and classism are the muck we walk through to get to our cars while our climate is turning into flying monkeys. And the rich keep getting richer.

So let me tell you about a guy I admire.

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