Mary Beth Writes

My friend Karen sent me this lovely, lovely photo collage of all the windows in her house. In the past week she has washed them all, washed the curtains, ironed the curtains that need ironing.  Isn’t this lovely?

In the past month her job, her husband’s job, and the jobs of all her kids have changed; all will now be not working or working less. Unemployment has been applied for by humans who have never applied for unemployment before in their lives. One son’s destination wedding has been put on hold. ALL the high school graduation related events for her beloved high-achieving grandson are now kaput; the family can’t even get together for cake.  Her husband’s oddly shaped little skin thing was, in fact, serious enough to require three trips (so far) to a clinic and surgical center and then there was waiting for pathology labs. Oh, and he doesn’t have his job of over 30 years to go to, cuz it’s closed til this crisis is over. (His health is okay. All he has to do now is heal.)  Also her mom is in assisted living and Karen can only visit through the window.

So. Aren’t those windows beautiful?

What are YOU doing with your freaked-out energy?

I slept swell last night so apparently my insomnia was possibly related to five cups of coffee?

A relaxed brain will dream so mine did.  I dreamed I was in a car with Trump who was the driver. The world was gray and ominous. Trump didn’t know where we were or where we wanted to go. I DID know where I wanted to go; back home. I used Google Maps to direct him. He paid no attention and got on an expressway where he proceeded to drive 80mph BACKWARDS. I yelled at him to get off the highway. He did, pulled into a restaurant and walked away to get donuts (yes, this was in my dream). I had coffee. (of course). I recognized the people at the table next to me. We decided we met years ago at a social services seminar.

Question #1. How many of you worked in any way in a social services type helping career? Were you at the next table?

Question #2. Was this a dream or the evening news?

Do you need a mask? On Sunday I told you how to order them from Otis. Read here. 

The ones I had are gone. You can contact him directly to order a mask for about $5/each plus shipping. His email is:

Values in the Time of Covid:

1. Our $ came from the gov’t (i.e. our taxes) today.  We are keeping it “liquid” until at least summer in case more craziness happens. Kids, grandkids, five jobs, cats, dogs – what could possibly go wrong?

2. I found a nickel on a parking lot this morning.  Will probably keep it “liquid” also.

3. We have not been able to find bread flour. Bread flour is not all-purpose nor is it whole wheat. It’s higher protein because it’s a different kind of wheat (I think).  Len is picky about flour and his bread is evidence. Anyways, I moseyed online around for Bread Flour rabbit holes and found some.

We found it at grain farmers’ cooperative in North Dakota. He ordered TWO 25# bags and the shipping costs more than the flour but get this: the price per pound will end up less than we pay per pound for it at our grocery store. Back when a person could get it.

Says something about what we pay for when we buy our groceries. We pay for someone to carry it across the country to us.

It's been years since we bulk-bought flour, but we know how to do it.  We will immediately put it all into Ziplock bags (some reused, some new, whatever it takes). We will set up the bottom of our fridge as the flour shelf and pile the bags in. Then we will put one bag at a time in our little under-the-fridge freezer for 2-3 days, pull it out, notate that it’s been frozen onto the bag, and then put in a new one. Freezing kills pantry moths. Storing in the fridge protects the flour.

A loaf of sourdough uses about 1.5 lbs of flour and lasts about 5 days. Which gives us six months of knock-your-socks-off bread. When we are sure this all works, next time our we could order even more and share it.  We will let you know.

4. If you go to my UU church, you know Chet. He is many amazing things (Bluegrass and Irish music singer and picker, husband of Sally, once-upon-a-time Waldorf teacher). He also has a tree trimming company so once upon a time I asked him tree questions. He came by a few weeks ago to consult about the over-enthusiastic urban trees that grow between our fence and a parking lot.  

He is in my backyard right now doing a daredevil’s job of getting rid of half our shade. We are the end of his day; he was already in town doing a big job for a bigger client. He is charging us less than we expected to pay. His assistant is sawing the giant limbs into shorter logs, but in the next hour they will just walk away.  Len and I will clean the yard and take the wood to our town recycling place (when it opens again).  

So he earns a bit of income in a time when many people are not hiring arborist work. Plus, we are talking about trying a vegetable garden this year because there will be light!

If you live in SE Wisconsin (he can decide what’s close enough and what’s too far) and want to talk about your trees (consultations are free) he is Chet Celenza at 262 844 0460 or

5. Buying way less. Tipping way more.



Mary Beth That T-Dream sounded more like a nightmare/real-life adventure than anything... I don't normally dream or if I do I don't ever remember them... I've had two as of late but the T wasn't in either one but my new friend was... It's weird how the brain compensates sometimes... I'm craving the human touch I can usually live without for the most part... The reality of this physical distancing is finally making itself known...
Mary Beth's picture

I heard years ago from some brain expert that adults dream because we don't play. Dreaming ricochets in our brain, keeping all the parts and zones involved in unexpected ways. It keeps our thinking processes limber and "plastic."We need this so that when we bump into new situations, our brains know how to think of options.

Leonard's picture

Chet can tell more jokes during a four hour car ride than any person alive.

For years I worked with people with serious and persistent mental illness, in several states. I haven’t known you that long, but I’m pretty sure I was at that table.
Mary Beth's picture

Yes, I think you were!

I agree with Franc. I’m craving the human touch, also. That surprises me. Love being a featured part of your diary. Wish those windows could stay clean forever. Ha. Your dream is unreal!
Mary Beth's picture

My mom has been gone since 1993, but when you say how much you miss being able to hug your mom, it makes me miss my mom, too.

I have been having several vivid dreams each night this last month. I recently read that it is caused by stress. Apparently a lot of us are in the same boat. My local child is laid off. The unemployment checks have not hit and calling in to check on your claim is impossible. As many, our poor little state is not set up for all the claims. Fortunately my son was able to save some money this past year and is getting by. I cannot imagine how his coworkers are faring. I sewed more masks yesterday so we each would have two and made another for my neighbor who wears it to work. Otis’s price at $5 is a bargain! Folks should buy him out!
Mary Beth's picture

Maybe I will mention this again in a day or two - You tally up the stresses in your life in the past year - it gives you a predictive idea about your future.

273...doing okay. The hardest thing for me these days is the physical therapy... Don’t break a shoulder, evidently it has one of the most difficult rehabs! I can swear in two languages...
Mary Beth's picture

o fo paga.

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Quarantine Diary #312

“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.


Quarantine Diary #308 1/15/2021

My life is pretty fine, and I bet yours is, too. Warm place to live. Food to eat. Friends to share and laugh with - even if we have to do it via Zoom.

At the same time, who isn’t feeling anxiety and dread? Will the white supremacist insurrectionist knobs attack the inaugural? Will they screw up state capitols and infrastructure? One lone guy blew up Nashville a mere three weeks ago. What the hell is going on?

Quarantine Diary #307 Brain Names

Remember when there was no autism? Sure, there were kids in our schools who were weirdly able to remember stuff, or were hard to control, or whose emotions triggered at the oddest time. We generally ignored those kids. Those of us who were kind did, anyways. Others bullied. 

Remember the mopey kids in high school who knew too much about depressing art and angsty music and sometimes killed themselves?

Quarantine Diary #306 Hunched Over & Paying Attention

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.

Rime and Treason

These photos were taken by Len on Monday in that other time and world that existed before the Trump gorgons mobbed the Capitol. (Gorgons existed in Greek literature. Gorgons are the poisonous siblings with hair of living snakes. Those who beheld them face-to-face turned to stone. Or were killed by being beaten by a fire extinguisher.)

I have been trying to write about that but it is too hard. There is so much that is clear and is informative. You are reading it as much as I am. Blessed be the journalists, right? 

Quarantine Diary #292 New Year's Eve

Many of us feel as if we are in limbo until Biden takes office. I don’t think you need me to say a lot about how long and hard this year has been; we’ve been in this dentist’s chair together.


Did you see how many days quarantine has lasted? 292 days.

So far.

This week I read a remarkable essay. On Natural Landscapes, Metaphorical Living, and Warlpiri Identity, by Barry Lopez. Life is weird. The day after I read it, Mr. Lopez died.

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