Mary Beth Writes


Yesterday the sprayer hose of our kitchen sink broke. (Because if a house is going to break, it’s going to do it two days before Christmas, right?) Len heard water, looked under the sink, water was spurting out the side of the cracked hose. He went to Ace to get a replacement hose but who knew we needed a hose with a rare connecting apparatus? Ace hose didn’t work. Len got back in the car to go to Menard’s.

While there his phone buzzed with a message that said that he’d been in contact with a person who was positive for Covid-19.

That weirded him out and me, too, when he told me. This morning I looked at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website. One can sign up to get alerts which we did last year but neither of us had experienced this previous to yesterday.

As is true with so many of the parts and pieces of this pandemic, it’s not 100% clear what just happened. It seems as if somewhere in the recent past, maybe while he was in the store though that now seems unlikely, Len was within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes, of a person who is now covid positive. Maybe at the local Democrtic get together he went to last week and at which he wore a mask the whole time and so did the other people. What Len should do right now is quarantine UNLESS he is vaccinated, which he is. So wear a mask and carry on.

Not sure what the takeaway of this is. Other than get fully vaccinated, wear your mask, consider wearing two.

Also, he fixed the sink. Woohoo. 

Click here to learn more/sign up for the alerts in Wisconsin. 


Pastors of my childhood confidently proclaimed that people who go to seminary lose their faith. Six weeks after I started seminary I realized I no longer believed a whole bunch of the stuff those ministers had preached at us. I remember laughing aloud about that and my cat looking up.

Here is what I have learned in my life about the religious holiday known as Christmas. The less we expect it to be about weird and impossible stuff that happened 2000 years ago – the more we get to honor and respond to what is going on now. We get to take our abilities and questions seriously. What are we looking for? What warms our souls and gives us happiness? If being a person of faith does not mean convincing others to say their religious words the same way we say ours - then what DOES faith mean? Important questions to mull for those of us raised in Christian words and traditions.

Anticipation:  Remember how excited we got as kids waiting for gifts and toys? Reading the various gospel nativity stories, one can sometimes feel that. People writing the gospels 30-100 years after Jesus had come and gone, were still waiting for confirmation that their lives meant something. If the birth of Jesus came in mystery and music and poetry and a sense that meaningfulness was now beginning – then they could claim that their hard-pressed faith was also birthed in that birth.

Giving: As adults yearning to receive, we give. I made a from-scratch two-layer chocolate cake yesterday for the family of a kid I used to tutor. They are not destitute; this was about sharing my advanced sugar wrangling prowess with a kid-filled family. I’m sitting here grinning because I still have their faces in my mind.

My daughter just texted that the Paw Patrol figurines I bought for our granddaughter are NOT a duplicates! Apparently I bought the Kitty Catastrophe set which they don’t have and the kiddos are playing with it today. 

We can give. We can imagine and think and share. When it seems as if we are desolate, we can turn around and give a little. Pain doesn’t go away, but we heal and become stronger and wiser. And more hopeful.

This experience of anticipating, of receiving and giving, of listening, and sharing – this is Christmas.

In case you missed this comment after Quarantine Dairy #648. Like this. 

Submitted by Christine on December 21, 2021

My church runs a thrift shop with the primary goal of making available to the community gently used items at very affordable prices. While volunteering there last Saturday, two women came in. Somehow one of them had connected with the manager of the thrift shop. It turns out the older of the two has custody of two of her elementary school aged grandchildren. The week before we met her, her husband had beat her badly. That night, with only the clothes on their backs, she fled with the two grandchildren. In other words, they had nothing. No clothes, no furniture, no household goods, and no Christmas presents or decorations. We welcomed them and loaded the grandmother up with anything she chose to take, including toys...some new...wrapping paper, Christmas stockings, clothing, and anything she wanted for their new apartment. In fact, they made two trips because they couldn't fit everything into the friend's vehicle on the first one. We all had tears. This was my Merry Christmas.



How good and warm that must have felt, to be able to do something to help that family! What a blessing to you to be able to do God’s work and a blessing to the family to have found your thrift shop.

Special sharing of Christmas meaning...

Thank you for the story of strangers helping the grandmother and her grandchildren.

Merry Christmas to the most fantastic thought-provoker I know. Thanks for all you give in your writing, it always stirs me in some way.

Add new comment


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.



My step-grandmother Ricky ate an apple every night. She’d sit on her bed, lean against the headboard, then chomp the apple after which she would remove her false teeth and lay down to sleep.

I haven’t really thought about Ricky in years but this week for no identifiable reason (because we were talking about unsung aspects of our lives?) I dreamed about her. I awoke one morning seeing her face as she stood in her dining room chatting with my mom and me. Ergo, I started thinking about her.

What's Ordinary in Your World?

This train photo is not cribbed from anywhere. It's a Genuine Leonardo. 


Hello and how are you? I am writing less and less as Len and I meander around to doctors, specialists, dentists, and that way-too-early appointment at the endodontist. (So far, we are fine.) The irony being that most of what we are attending to are the side effects of medications prescribed for stuff that didn’t hurt and we didn’t even know we had.

A Quiet Week

The cat in the picture is my daughter's cat, Nancy. Sometimes we all just need a quiet place to slow down and think.


What's going right in your world?


My teeth again. Argh. This past week I’ve had a jaw ache/toothache that got worse instead of better. Today my dentist said I need a crown but also that’s not the thing that is causing the swelling and infection and ache. I now have an Rx for an antibiotic and an appointment for that crown and an appointment with an endodontist to get an Xray worthy of NASA.

Memory & Consequences


To remember hard stories truthfully requires bravery.


The picture is our wedding cake, made by my friend Karen, who drove it from Indiana to Chicago on the hottest day of that year. It was in the back seat so their two little boys had to ride in front (remember when kids could ride in front?). They got lost in the city but I didn't know that for years because Karen and her husband start early and had time to get lost and then figure it out. Sometimes wedded bliss is a lot of work. 

The following story and recipe is not about the wedding cake, but it is the photo I have...



Tag Cloud

9/11 17 minutes 500 Words AARPtaxes AAUW abortion Acadia accident Accountable Advent anniversary antlers apples appointments Arrows art Ashland August Augustine baby Badlands balance Baldwin Barkskins Beauty Becky Becoming Esther Berry birthday bistro BLM BookReport books boy scout Bread BrokenDays BuyAngry Cabeza de Vaca Cahokia calendars Canada canoe cat romance cats cello Chicago China Choosing Christmas cilantro Cinnabuns circus clouds Clowns clutter Colonialism comet ComfortZone CommonSense community consumerism Cops Corvid-19 Courage Covid-19 Crazy creditreport creosote CrimeShows death Debate December DecisionFatigue decluttering democracy dentist depression Destination Today Detroit Didion disasterprep dogs dollhouse Dreams Duty Easter eBay Eclipse EmilyDickinson eschatology Esquipulas exit polls eyes Fable FairTrade family farmer firealarm Fitness Five Flexible flu Fort de Chartres frame Franc FrancGarcia friends frugal Frugality frustration Ft.Ticonderoga Gannets Garden GarfieldParkConservatory Gaspe genius geode GeorgeFloyd gerrymandering ghosts gifts girls gorgons GovernorThompsonStatePark Graduation granola groceries Guatemala gum guns happiness HaveYouEver? hawks healthcare Healthinsurance hearings heart HelleKBerry heroes hike History home HomeRepair Honduras Hope hurricane impeachment Innkeeper Instincts integrity InternetPrivacy Interview InviteMe2Speak James Baldwin Jan 6 Janus JoyceAndrews Judy JulianofNorwich justice Karen Lamb LangstonHuges LaphamPeak laundry LeeLeeMcKnight lemming Len Light Lincoln Little Women LockedOut Loki loneliness Love Ludington Macaw macho Manitoulin MargaretFuller Maria Hamilton Marquette marriage Marsden Hartley masks Mayan MayaWorks meme Memories men Middlemarch MilesWallyDiego MindfulChickens Mistakes MLK moon Mother MothersDay mouser movies museums must-haves Mustapha Nancy Drew New Mexico New York City Nomadland Ocotillo OnaJudge ordinary OscarRomero osprey Outside oximeter Parade mayhem PastorBettyRendon Paul Hessert PDQ Penny persimmon photos Pi Pies pineapples poetry Preaching privacy Protest Quern quest Questions Rabbit holes racism recipe recipes recommendations Remember RepresentationMatters Reruns responsetoKapenga Retirement rhubarb Ricky rime RitesofPassage Rosemary Ruether Roses Ruth SamaritanWoman Sanctuary Sandhillcranes Santuario de Chimayo SaraRodriguez sculpture Sermon ServantsoftheQuest sewing Shepherd Shontay ShortStory shoulder sick sickness Slower snow Social Security SofritoBandito solstice South Dakota SpaceShuttle spring square feet staining stele Stereotypes StoryStarts stress Survival swim taxes teenager thankgsgiving Thanksgiving TheBridge TheMaid ThePerpetualYou ThreeBillBoards Three Things ThreeThings TidalBore TimeBeing toddler Tom tortillas Trains travel Traveler Tubing turtle Twilight Bark Tyrone Ukraine UnrelatedObservations Up North urgency vacation vaccine Valentines vanilla Vietnam VivianWokeUpDrowning vole volunteer WalkingAndSeeing Wampanaog war WarsanShire weather weaving wedding whines WhyAttendChurch Willa WillaCather Wisteria
Ad Promotion