Mary Beth Writes

Two news reports that caught my attention this morning: 1.) It took three months for the world have its first 100,000 people infected with coronavirus. It took 12 days for the second 100,000 infections to happen.

2.) Even though we are hearing that this disease is most dangerous for people who are immune compromised or old and elderly (gulp) – here in the US is it not precisely following this trajectory. Some numbers are indicating that people (usually young) who vape are more at risk to end up in the hospital from coronavirus than would be expected among younger adults. 

I have been on Twitter at least an hour today. I read both of these things and should have marked where I saw them. Sorry, I don’t know where I read them although I just googled both of these reports and there are a variety of sources talking about them.

I heard the new “Emma.” movie was being released to streaming on Amazon this weekend. Cool! I pulled it up – and the RENTAL price was $20!  Good Grief. Instead I paid $4 to rent the Emma with Gwyneth Paltrow and it was fun. Then I rented another movie that Len didn’t want to watch.  When I finally came upstairs Len was on his computer watching “Igby Goes Down” – which he said was well made but didn’t make a whole lot of sense. 

So anyways, I went to bed and fell asleep.

This morning Len told me that while he was watching his movie he became so twisted on his office chair that the bow of his shoelace hooked over the adjusting lever UNDER the seat of the chair. He realized this after the movie was over, after he had turned off his computer, and of course he had turned off all the lights in our office to watch the movie.

He couldn’t see how he was hooked. He also couldn’t lean over because he was tied to the chair.

It took him a while, he said, to free himself from his own office chair.


My grandson started to crawl yesterday! When they facetimed with us this morning he crawled around a corner with the biggest grin on his sweet baby face.  

Our daughter is going to keep both of the kids home this week WHILE she also works from home. All over America parents are doing hard things. Next time someone tries to say our forebearers were amazing because they struggled and sacrificed to raise their families in this new land  – I am going to remind them American parents still are amazing!

This morning I was still in bed drinking coffee (#partnerswhobringpartnerscoffeeinbedstaypartners). I didn’t even have my glasses on yet when I heard a loud, weird squawky noise from outside. I smiled; I know that noise.

Migrating Black Crowned Night herons fly at night and roost and rest during the day. They are squat and their voices are not angelic. I have heard them only two springs in my whole life. Well, as of today, now I have heard them three times. 

I lifted this from my old “Lost in Racine” column from April 23, 2005

Last week my husband I did something we've been meaning to do for years.  We put our canoe into the Root River downtown, then paddled upstream as the river wends through the middle of Racine. We saw a few people fishing. We saw too many places where ugly avalanches of junk slide down banks.

We paddled around a bend. I glanced at bare trees along the bank. Something moved. I heard the rattle of branches.  I looked closer. I whispered to my husband, "There's a Night Heron in there." He whispered back, "What's a Night Heron?"

The last one I saw was years ago when we lived in Chicago. It perched all day on a neighbor's roof and then flew away that night. Here was one of these (to me, at least) rare birds again. It's about the size and shape of a 10-pound bag of flour, wears a blue-gray coat over white-gray undercoating, has short legs (for a heron), long beak, and a black cap.  Its official name is Black-crowned Night Heron.

Len and I admired the ungainly creature. There were more rustles in the trees. Another Night Heron.  More wings luffing, more branches rattling.  Another one and another one.  My heart raced as I stopped counting with my brain and started jamming a finger up from my fist for each heron I saw. 

 I lost count at 23.  It was one of the most beautiful and eerie things I've ever witnessed.  All those birds shapeshifting out of a semi-abandoned industrial nook of the inner city. 

 A friend says Black-crowned Night Herons are migrating north these days.  The ones we saw are likely on their way to Horicon Marsh.

To hear one:






I know just what they look like... I bought a mixed media piece years ago at the "Monument Square Art Fair" in Racine that hangs in George's livingroom it's a trptyh ( 3pcs ) called "Silent Transformation Of The Night Herron Into Saturday Night Dancer, With Chaos" by Alan Shauble who was doing art fair's back when I was still doing them...
Mary Beth's picture

Next time you go there take some pix and send to me? I will post them if you do. Sounds awesome!

A lot of this made me smile despite all the horror around us. Awwww- baby Eddie crawling. \

I just love your nature/animal stories. Can't wait to see Franc's pic. The craines out here are making lots of noise....amazing. And today I see the Wood Ducks are back.
Mary Beth's picture

Aw Shucks... Thank you! I know this is terrifically un-Wisconsin-ish of me ... but I could not recognize a wood duck. I've heard of them forever, but I'm not sure which one they are. Might have to research a little.

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Quarantine Diary #150 8/11/2020 Taking a Break

I’m depressed. How about you?  I’m not the kind of depressed where I should call a doctor. I’m more “Michelle Obama depressed.”  Things feel stuck, wrong, and getting worse. There’s the pandemic and the feeble, chaotic response to it. There’s racial strife. When, if ever, will the police police themselves? Teachers and kids are being thrown back into schools like spaghetti thrown against a wall - to see who will stick? There’s the angry self-entitled idiocy of too many people.

Quarantine Diary #142 Swimming Lessons

“It's a good idea to begin at the bottom in everything except in learning to swim.” Unknown author

I was well into my 40’s when I realized that one doesn’t have to wait for perfect weather if one wants to go into the water. 

Quarantine Diary #141 8/5/2020 "Red Dust"

I just finished reading “Red Dust – A Path Through China” by Ma Jain.  It is a remarkable book that asks more questions than it answers.

Ma Jain was born in the 50’s and grew up grew up very poor in a small Chinese city. He remembers when his mother would simmer stones for dinner so that the neighbors would see her cooking and not realize how poor they were.  (A whole different take on the children’s tale “Stone Soup.") The violent and terrifying Cultural Revolution that Chinese citizens lived through is over but memories of it are in everyone’s minds.

Quarantine Diary #140 7/31/2020 Wishing you a Merry Quarantine Weekend

When I’m in a certain mood I love how-to articles – and I’m in that mood right now. I think it happens at the intersection of reasonable weather and Friday ... when happiness still seems possible.

I googled “How to have a nice weekend in the time of Covid” and guess what? There are no Wiki-How articles on how to be happy in a pandemic.

Let’s invent this right here, right now.

Quarantine Diary #134 Written while sweating …

My best coping skill for appalling weather is to show it who is boss. 30 below?  Cool. Let me put on all my clothes plus a hat down to my eyebrows and another one up to my glasses, and I’ll go out there.

Quarantine Diary #131 7/23/2020 "Becoming Labrador"

Yesterday I forgot to write about a movie we watched which I think many of you might like to watch, also.  We’ve been talking here about what one can stand to read and watch these days when our spirits are stressed and anxious.

I thought I wanted to reprise some of our Canada travels.  FYI, if you’ve traveled in a place you loved, put that place into your streaming service Search window, find some great or mediocre documentaries about that place, and revisit your memories.  It’s fun.

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