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 #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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