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 #17 3/30/2020

Why are people (lots of them) on Facebook posting photos of landscapes? The instructions say one should post a picture of a landscape one took somewhere, one should not say where that place is, and no people should be included, especially not the posting-person.  

Why? I don’t get it. I don’t mind but I really don’t get how this connects to anything.

A friend’s husband’s company had a virtual meeting this morning about the future of their company. Things are changing but not shutting down. They will still have income and insurance.  Thought you might like to know.  

Quarantine Diary #16 3/29/2020

I’ve been busy today so I’m a little late getting to this diary. Doing what, you ask? Oh, brilliant things like washing the bathroom and doing laundry and going for a blustery walk. Took the plastic off the particular windows we wrap in the fall.

Spent a chunk of the morning reading about the lead-up to the Revolutionary War battles at Saratoga. More about that later.  Reading about brave and canny, stupid and ego-centric politicians of an entirely different era is part of my coping strategy for life in the US. We aren’t the first to live in fraught times. Not by a long shot.

Quarantine Diary #15 3/28/2020

The Long-Awaited Groceries (The hymn “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” is in my brain right now) came last night at 9PM – when it was raining. A woman named Sarah, late 30’s, brown ponytail, not-posh sweatpants and hoodie – carried ALL our groceries across the street from her car to our porch. This included 8-packs of Gatorade plus boxes of seltzer water, plus lots of other heavy stuff. Did I mention it was raining?

Quarantine #14 3/27/2020

Last night we did another wild and crazy thing. We got in our car and went for a drive! The first thing we remarked to each other was that we had not been in the car together in weeks.  It felt a little odd to be in there, next to each other, about to GO SOMEPLACE! Maybe this is the way it feels to be the family dog when they let you sit in the front seat and EVERYTHING IS SO AMAZING!

We drove west into the rosy sunset, filled with excitement to, um, see the sky.  Quarantines are easiest on people who have a low bar for excitement.

Quarantine Diary #13 3/26/2020

What do you miss?  What, in our new pandemical world do you miss most from our pre-pandemical world?You know, the one we lived in till two weeks ago?

I don’t mean the heartbreaking realities such as safe medical care providers and enough places to go should one become ill and the loved ones that we are losing.

I just mean, what are we getting used to? Or trying to get used to. What might we never go back to?

Quarantine Diary #12 3/25/2020

Right now it is 11:00AM.  Got up this morning at the regular time. Did regular things. Came to the office to write. Worked (hardly at all) on a project, wrapped an item for eBay. Announced to Len at 10:30 that I was sleepy and going to take a nap.

You know what he said?  He said, “Me, too.”

The following half hour he took the sofa and I took our bed and both of us slept like toddlers on cots.

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