Mary Beth Writes

“You know me, I think there ought to be a big old tree right there. And let's give him a friend. Everybody needs a friend.” ― Bob Ross

This tree lives in Waukesha and stopped me in my tracks when I was out for a walk.


 When will this Quarantine Diary end? When Len and I drive out not wearing masks to go to a place where we will stay overnight. Just letting you know. FYI we started last year on Friday the 13th of March.


I registered online at to be notified when they have the vaccine. They state that they will send a text to say when one can get the shot and one can decline at that time - so it’s not a binding promise to go to Meijer’s. Wisconsin is scheduled to start vaccinating people over 65 on January 25th. We’ll see.

Randy Rainbow is a prophet and if you don’t think so, go read Amos and Micah and those guys. Witty, sharp, with the voice and intentional soap opera hamminess of an ironic angel.

Today he posted his farewell to Trump. It’s a parody taken from Rent. “2,102, 400 minutes.”

Halfway through it I was crying. These past four years have been awful and it hit me how many punches we have taken. Even people like me; old, secure, white, lucky.

Do you know who Rob Lee is?

Lee, the great-great-great nephew of Confederate general Robert E. Lee, appeared on the VMAs (2017) to introduce Susan Bro — the mother of Charlottesville, Virginia victim Heather Heyer — and speak out against the events of Charlottesville and the specter of racism in America. Lee had recently graduated from Duke Divinity School and Bethany United Church of Christ marked his first job out of seminary school. “We have made my ancestor an idol of white supremacy, racism, and hate. As a pastor, it is my moral duty to speak out against racism, America’s original sin,” he said during the ceremony.”

His church voted for Lee to leave his pulpit.

The Biden and Harris Inaugural Team asked Rob Lee to participate in the Inaugural Prayer service on Thursday. Heck, you should click in and look at who else will be there – including Patti LaBelle

Regarding our cats:

These are texts Len sent our daughter this morning.

L: Yamiche had her moment of glory at about 2:30 last night

L: Mom had thrown out a fake mouse in the bathroom trash. I don’t know how Yamiche found it, but I heard stuff fall down in the bathroom and then she was in the bedroom batting at it. She moved all the rugs around, hiding the fake mouse under them and then getting it back out. All the rugs (both of them) were akimbo this morning.

L: Then later she went back in the bathroom to get an empty aspirin bottle out of the same garbage. Stuff strewn everywhere.

S: She sounds like Frank. He got a bottle cap in the middle of the night and brought it into my bed and then meowed loudly so I would play with him. He had to spend the rest of the night outside the bedroom.

S: Cats are troublemakers

L: This morning I came down to see she had opened up a container of cornbread and eaten it.

L: I told Mom very clearly, “Get two GOOD cats.”

S: I didn’t even know cats liked cornbread.

I’ve been volunteer tutoring with third graders at the local elementary school for four years. My how time flies when one's having fun. As you can imagine, this year has been a challenge. I’m reading Charlotte’s Web via facetime to these kids, one chapter a week. Apparently they love this nearly as much as I do.

Most of these kids read below grade level and their writing is even worse. I talked with Laura the teacher and we invented a Penpal program.

It helps that the kids know and like me. (Kids are not picky when it comes to activities that let them lay on the floor and listen) I made a simple “how to write a letter” template. The deal is if they to me; I will write back. This is not for grades; it is extra-curricular opportunity to write freely with bad spelling and worse grammar because IMHO that’s the way to learn how to write. You just do it.

Their “reward” is a cheerful personal letter back from me asking them more simple kid-sized questions. I am also willingly revealing intimate parts of my life, such as what my favorite colors are, the names of all the cats and dogs I have lived with, and what foods I like most.

They started last Friday and yesterday, MONDAY, Laura delivered FIFTEEN letters to me!

I now seem to have fifteen 8-year-old pen pals!

I will let you know how this goes. I’m expecting it won’t seem awesome to all the kids for long, but I will do my best to keep them coming back. And if I write in this blog less, well, now you know why.

PS: I promised to include “presents” for the kids in each return letter. These presents need to be small, flattish, and as non-plastic as can be managed. If you have cute bookmarks or baseball cards or above-average stickers or other random things 3rd graders might like – and you want to get them out of your house – let me know.  

Tomorrow will be Something. We have never had an inaugural this important that is being arranged for the those of us who will watch on TV. I suggest you think tonight what you want to have around to eat, drink, and do through the day and evening. We are anxious because we know what the devil can do. We are hopeful because never has normal seemed so beguiling. 

 “Hope is the thing with wings.”



I love your pen pal idea! I'll be interested to see how that goes. Hope you are not overwhelmed! The Randy Rainbow production was a hoot! I didn't expect such activity from those "old" cats. Our 6 year old is not nearly as active. Cats can be a joy.
Mary Beth's picture

I'm super curious, too, about how being pen pals with kids will go. Both you and I have volunteered with kids a long time. It's work and it's a joy. Once we have a better sense of this, maybe it will be not too difficult for other classes to replicate, and to bring in other adults as pen pals.
Leonard's picture

Different activities will be going on all day, so I'll be making a lot of popcorn. Here is a schedule of activities for the whole week (starting last weekend). Be sure to get the time right: the times listed are Eastern Time, an hour later than Wisconsin time (and 5 earlier than Universal Time).

Mr.P is an English professor dating me a self proclaimed horrible speller... One day I told him that I was embarrassed when I reread something that I had sent to him and discovered several misspellings that I had put down... his response to that was “I don’t care about how you spell things, what I do care about is the beautiful way that you bring life into the words you write... Enough said
Mary Beth's picture

People who really love language feel like this. Spelling and grammar are good tools for clear communication - and that tool mostly comes from good teaching and early educational luck. But to be aware enough to see and feel what's going and and to be able to respond, that is having the gift of language. They are related but they are not the same.

This entire post was awesome. Laughed at Lens and Sarah’s texting conversation. The pen pals are so lucky to have you. Remember Flat Stanley. I know what an awesome job you do! We will pray for awe inspiring day tomorrow !

I am crying with you. That's about all I can say. Today finally came. Patricia

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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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