Mary Beth Writes

Pretty soon I’m going to need to invent a new title for this Quarantine Dairy.  I don’t want to be writing Diary #273 and #401 – even though I am beginning to understand that in many ways, we are going there.

I read this Twitter question. 

What will go away from here on out?  The answers were things like:

  • Shaking hands to greet each other
  • All-you-can-eat restaurant buffets
  • Church and other organization’s potluck dinners
  • Commuting to jobs that one does not need to do from a particular office

Here are some more thoughts that are mine:

  • Trying on clothes and shoes and then putting them back if you don’t want them
  • Political campaigns run by knocking on doors, and holding meet-n-greets in peoples’ homes, and big rallies.
  • Cruise vacations
  • Airplanes filled with people flying to meetings they could probably do via internet connections
  • College will change. I can’t fathom how that will look, but there will need to be less crowding with just as much interaction. I don’t know.
  • Expecting public school teachers to risk their lives with Covid AND gun violence for low-to-middle-range salaries.
  • Racism against and blanket expulsion of documented/undocumented immigrants will have to cease. Thoughtful and unthoughtful Americans want their grocery store produce and meat sections well stocked.  We can’t have one without the other.  Unless, OMG, what if we paid farm workers well enough?  I wonder where white supremacy will burrow into next.
  • Also, have you noticed that so many medical care providers are people with accents?  Is it time for you to read or reread Abraham Verghese’s novel, “Cutting for Stone”?
  • Restaurants. I’m sure they will come back in some ways but how anxious are you to sit at a table in a crowded dining room among a hundred unknown fellow citizens all talking and chewing at the same time?
  • Gyms. Locker rooms?
  • Public restrooms along interstates. How’s that going to work?

What ordinary routines and rituals do you think won’t come back?

Did you notice this whole spiel is about how to be middle class in the USA? 

When will I/we think globally?

I’ve decided to not repost or retweet any more stuff about quarantine protesters. At this point, we know what the question is, we know how dangerous it is to assume the pandemic can’t get worse, some states are opening, and we will watch in real time what happens. 

We know the protests are organized by particular groups who are using this moment to further their agendas.

Every time we pass along comments and stories we are giving them free publicity.

I’m suggesting here that even when the stuff is witty or perceptive, we don’t pass it on.

70% of us oppose lifting restrictions willy-nilly.  We have this. 

I was outside two hours yesterday and two hours this morning burning sticks. We had that half-a-tree in our yard after Chet the Magnificent did his arborist thing last week. Len and I separated out what we wanted to keep into various piles; that left a pile of sticks almost as tall as me.

I ordered the firepit (firepot?). It arrived and this evening the sticks are ashes. When they are completely cool I’ll put them in the compost.

The sticks were bigger than the firepit, so one would grab one branch at a time, break it down, stick it in the fire.  Sometimes I had to use the loppers to get the branches down to size. This was on top of my five-mile hike yesterday.  So yup, I’ve got sore muscles. Ibuprofen helps and so does wine and brie and the sourdough bread that will be coming out of the oven any minute now.  

Here's a side-truth. I’m not overwhelmed by pandemic-related worry, fear, or anger.

It seems to me this might be a good time for communities to arrange clean-ups, invasive-vegetation removal, and bird counts.  Not hard to do those things at a social distance and we humans do better when we can get some outside into out insides.





Leonard's picture

I just read this: "More than half of the consumers (52 percent) who shifted to digital grocery shopping say they won’t go back to their old ways of shopping, as online delivery and curbside pickup are gaining ground. And 60 percent of the consumers who shifted to digital to shop for things other than grocery items say the same." (

Yesterday in the truck, I asked by husband, “How will we eat at restaurants while wearing masks?”. I dunno. Many of my “problems” are first world ones, I won’t have to decide whether or not to go back to work when my job reopens. ( we are retired).

I received this this morning after a long distance corona distancing conversation, this is how dating in the age of this corvid-19 virus goes on.... "Still feeling an afterglow from our conversation yesterday ( 3+hrs ) Felt like we were just hanging out and putting our own pieces together, seeing what kind of new picture emerges. The Nappy-Headed Little Boy has found a special place in my heart. Painful to think about James and those early days of AIDS as we look back in retrospect and wonder what kind of difference the COCKTAIL might have made on our fragile networks of friends and lovers. The same will be said about CORVID-19 when the right treatment is discovered. Loving the memories of those we've lost is all we can do".... We can't physically meet so we've been texting, emailing and having phone conversations of painful, funny,personal,deep and sometimes not so deep topics... Slowly building a foundation for a budding relationship that we have no idea when we can actually meet across a table and make a physical connection... We already know more about each other than had we been together physically for a year...
Mary Beth's picture

Meeting and dating in the Covid world. This is sure different.

So far, so good! I have plenty of projects. Had an online chat with a (Danish) friend living in New York. Had a 12 foot distance chat outside with my regular walking partner. Then theirs the jigsaw puzzle: a fovorite place to visit in Denmark. Life is just fine...who would have thought I could manage speaking so little!
Mary Beth's picture

Since you are bi-lingual, I guess this means you are now quiet in two languages?

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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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