Mary Beth Writes

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.

I mentioned this to my Nurse Practitioner. (I was in for my annual checkup.)  She said she’s been scrolling, too, and also has a kink in her neck.

So Pals … if you are also spending more time on social media than is normal for you, maybe use a laptop or pad? Maybe prop your arms on something? Pay attention to your eyes, back, neck, and shoulders. 

We have a nation to love and save here. We can’t do it waddling around like pissed-off, near-sighted, hunched over eagles.

This photo was taken today by Emily Cochrane of the New York Times. 

Rev David Chevrier was pastor at Wellington Ave UCC in Chicago when Len and I (and some of you) were there. I remember him saying “Immigrants renew the American Dream in every generation.” 

Looking at this photo today … Wow.  Who is defending out Constitution? Black men. People not born to a life of privilege. Those women with their tightly pinned hair, at the feet of Frances Willard. 

It chokes me up. It makes me so angry that they have to be there and so respectful that they are.

Small gestures.

Len likes a certain kind of toothpaste which only costs $1 per tube. We ran out months ago and our grocery store doesn’t stock it and it costs a stupid amount to order online. Today, while picking up the grocery order, I checked the dollar store where I was pretty sure they might have Len’s toothpaste. Yup. I bought a bunch.

Our driveway is narrow. When snow is piled along the strip by our house and the strip by the neighbor’s fence, it’s hard for me to back the car out. Lately, I ask Len to do it and he does. Doesn’t make jokes about women drivers. 

He has a good sense of where the car is going backwards.

I know where to get wierd things.These are small gestures of love and civility. Neighbors gave us tamales for Christmas. We gave cookies to a friend. New Jersey Representative Andy Kim cleaned debris at the Capitol after the chaos of the riot. He said, ““When you see something you love that’s broken you want to fix it.”

What and who do you love? What are you doing, fixing, giving, paying attention to? I swear, somehow, this little stuff is important.  I think it helps to change the river of karma.

How are you?



Right before Covid shut us down, I was lucky enough to have my 50th(!) high school reunion. I reconnected with my little 5 gal posse, some friends since 6th grade. How wonderful to find that even then I had great discernment in friends, and we have stayed connected since then, offering a round robin of encouragement and support this year. Completely unexpected! I also re-found the writings of one MBD!

I've been cooking large quantities of food since before the holidays started as a way of therapy, way more food than a person who tends to eat once a day most days could possibly eat... My solution was to go drive around dropping off care packages and bundles of meals to my friends and family that live within my circle... Sorry to those of you who live outside of that circle, I made some tasty stuff you missed out on...
Mary Beth's picture

I give away food, too. I think many of us do. It certainly is a gift to others, but like you say, Franc - it is for us, too. It is a way to belong to the world with the best of ourselves. Tells us who we are. And yup, all of us NOT getting your food deliveries are missing out....

"we have a nation to love and save here" these words tuck at my broken heart. Yes, we do! I believe in the power of little things, and have been trying to do my bit since last March. Sending written notes, baking cookies, connecting via a phone call, calling my representatives. I work hard at keeping hope alive, even in dark days. There are days when my heart fills with disbelief, like when you put your political sign up before the election and your neighbor of 31 years, and to whom you just delivered a meal puts a sign up: Make Liberals Cry again." Really? They still got christmas cookies though...Karma... In 2 weeks I will be 60, this is momentous for me. I have 2 siblings, a nephew, and my beloved husband that never saw this age. I will celebrate for all those who cannot. Thank you always. Patricia
Mary Beth's picture

Really? They put a "Make literals cry again" sign out while living next to you? Sheesh. I see so many signs and sayings that make me laugh, that are witty and sharp - but I figure telling a stranger or a neighbor that their choices are stupid - is assaultive. Minorly assaultive, but we have to figure out how to live together and driving around with a mean bumper sticker etc., that's not the way to do this. Did you read Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver? There's a grouchy old man who lives next door to an acerbic old woman and her pithy kindness literally saves his health. He is faced with the consequence of needing to being thankful.

I loved the book Prodigal Summer! Be well. Patricia

Thank you for your heartfelt, no-nonsense, inspirational take on living....even in these crazy times. You are genius! Hi to Len, too ! xox
Mary Beth's picture

I have half a loaf of homemade bread here and if you were close I'd give you "truck toast." Miss you.

Mary Beth's picture


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Quarantine Diary #350 A Petition to Sign & a Pink Frog

I have now had both Covid vaccinations with no miserable side effects after either of them. Color me grateful.

I read recently that some people with long-haul symptoms are finding surprising relief after receiving the first vaccination. Have you heard this? I hope it’s true.

Living through this Covid pandemic; waiting for scientists and politicians to find a vaccine and then get it to us - this has been walking on water WHILE looking for a miracle. What we needed yesterday is what we are trying to figure out today.

Two Books & One Movie / Reviews by Me 2/24/2021

Go ahead, ask me what I’ve been doing lately…

The movie we watched is Nomadland directed by Chloe Zhao.

In 2018 I wrote this review of Nomadland by Jessica Bruder. (Read here) The book is nonfiction and was so powerful that two years later, it still affects how I think about being old in our nation.

Disaster Prep - Find Your Pack

The disaster unfolding in Texas right now is on my mind. How about yours?

On Twitter I saw several lists of where to donate to organizations. When I finish this post, I will donate to Austen Urban League -

Stress & Violence

 I have been reading about the people who attacked our nation’s capital on January 6th.

These two articles are good.  From The Atlantic (Read here )  and from The Lowdown, a blog by Jonathon Low  (Read here) 

Quarantine Diary #337 Moira the Dog & Movies Review

The picture is from a wonderful picture book, A New Coat for Anna by Harriet Ziefert. 


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