Mary Beth Writes

(Unripe tomatillos are beautiful.)

Today I am sharing some thoughts not about the election.

I plan to have very strong feelings once the winner of the presidential election, plus the many down-ballot contests, are known. If there is craziness and violence and civil uproar, I will care right away.

But right now, while we don’t know, I don’t want breathless reporting on how dry the paint is.

We've got a few more hours. 

I’m reading Outpedaling “The Big C - My healing cycle across America by Elizabeth McGowan. (Previous blog post here.)

Liz and I were friends the several years we both lived in Racine. She’s a good writer; I am not reading this to do her a favor. I’m reading it to see how bicycling 4000 miles will change this woman who lived years dealing with the kind of cancer that took her dad’s life.

Liz and I realized early that we had both had impressive fathers who were often angry and who died when we were teenagers - and this marked us like tattoos. We became women who knew enough to not accept male anger – but we also knew we would walk a long, long way to go around it if we could.

Today I read; “No photos I had of him hinted at his explosiveness. My father’s ire went far beyond impatience. His raw, volcanic temper was unpredictable and downright scary.” (page 42)

When I read that, I remember the coffee shop we were in, the eggs on my plate, the relief it was to talk with a veteran of the same battle. Not to be pitied, not to be coddled, not to be patronized. It was what it was. I remember her also commenting, “I think of the ways it could have been worse and wasn’t. Grateful for that.”

Yup.

I have been thinking about what we mean by “macho.” People, usually male, who are not anxious about intimidating others. People who consider themselves strong, however they define that. People, often male, who veer between being a leader and being a bully. People like my dad and other relatives, some co-workers, customers at jobs I’ve had. So many of the correctional officers in the jail. My office mate during those years.

Power that comes from anger is so much different than power that comes from respect and compassion.

But, like I’m saying, I’m not talking about the election.

Hah.

Halloween night there was a second full moon in this month. Mary Invited us to meet her at Retzer Nature Center. Len had never been there before. He brought his tripod.

Just up from the horizon.

 

Blue Moon and Mars. I can't see Mars, either. But Len says it's there so it's there. 

I was becoming anxious thinking of the long winter ahead of us.

I said to Len, “I think it’s time to get pets again.”

He laughed. He is not very macho about determining who we let in or don’t let in.

We mentioned this idea to our kids. Within ten minutes (these kids who can go days without communicating) all of them were were sending photos of pets who need adopters.

We did some shelter applications until one morning there was a mouse in the kitchen and Len mentioned that if we were going to get cats soon, we might as well get them now.

By five that afternoon we were sitting on the floor in the “bonded pairs” room of the Waukesha Humane Society. We were there to meet and adopt sibling cats, one of whom look a lot like a Siamese, cats who were about five years old. Cool. Len pulled the brother cat out of a cubby. It was hard to grab him, he didn’t want to come out. When Len let go of him he climbed into his sister’s cubby whereupon they became a taciturn feline cube of fur.

Meanwhile, a cat who was patchy and not wildly attractive in any conventional sense of that, walked over to me and sat on my lap. I was surprised and said hello. She purred. Her sister, who is, well, very ample about the middle and some of that girth swings a little as she strolls … she walked over to lean against Len.

So that was a done deal. The shelter person laughed. “They are 13 years old and they have been here two months.”

We were chosen by rather plain, good natured, rather old cats. Like likes like?

So now we have two cats.

Like I say, we’re not talking about the election here. But we named our cats Yamiche (Alcindor) and Weijia (Yang). Two award-winning journalists we admire. Journalists who are not white and blonde; Trump has dissed and disrespected both of them. Weijia and Yamiche (the cats) are unflappable, affectionate, interested in life and dinner. They enjoy if one tosses a toy; they will go over and look at it and then mosey on. Yamiche likes to nap under comforters. Weijia spent 10 hours Sunday night to Monday morning staring at our back door. Not easily bored.

Weijia can stare at things for a very long time. 

Yes, Yamiche is under there. 

...

May the Force be with us. 

 

Comments

I had a father like that and also somehow managed to have a seven year relationship with a man like him. I was fortunate that my dad lived until I was in my late 50's -- he mellowed (mostly) and his angry times were less frequent -- I had the opportunity to make peace with the anger I felt toward him for his behavior when I was a child. I was also was fortunate to end the relationship with the angry man.I love your cat story. Do you live in Waukesha now? Did you by any chance attend the UCC church there when Howard Bowman was the pastor? He and his wife Jeanne were good friends to me when they lived in Illinois.
Mary Beth's picture

I am sure my dad would have been interesting to know as one adult to another. I know enough of his boyhood to understand that it was deeply traumatic and scarring. And like the nursery rhyme about little girl with the curl - when he was good he was very, very good. I know now much of the stress he lived through as a kid and then as an entrepreneur. Too many dreams, not enough stability. Stress. But it damages kids in so many different ways to grow up in that and when we have our first adult partners, it's hard to figure out what we need and will support and what we need to walk away from. We go to a UU church. I don't know those names, for which I'm sorry. UCC was a good place and time.

Thank you so much for adopting! What fun...
Mary Beth's picture

A sweet and funny note to our adopting - because they were over 5 (way over 5) and because they were a "bonded pair" - there was no adoption fee! Tho we made a donation. Stopped at a pet store on the way home and spent $78. So, free but not free... They are wonderful cats. We were lucky they picked us.

Love, thank you..

We are at the point where we NEED another dog and a couple of cats. Those are both hard to come by commodities here in rural southern VT. What? I need to put the word out before the spring kitten season. Our shelter does have some kittens just now but it is a first come, etc and make an appointment. I haven’t felt like leaving the house this week... Regardless of who wins this pres election, I plan to redouble our efforts to support our local food pantry And all the hungry folks out there. Thanksgiving and Christmas are going to be really hard for a lot of people, y’all.
Mary Beth's picture

It was intimidating to do this process. One can't just visit a shelter and see who appeals - you "pick" via their website. And then go there and anything can happen. We have had many amazing pets in our life. We've also had some less-than-stellar ones. And right now, there seem to be somewhat fewer candidates. Though the Waukesha shelter had a LOT of cats. Maybe you should come here!

The moon is the small white patch to the left of the tree, Mars is the tiny white dot high on the right.
Mary Beth's picture

I knew you would explain it....

The cats look very nice. How nice of you to take the older ones. We are so happy with 6 year old Ellie. She is so polite! She doesn't walk on counters, she doesn't beg for food or claw furniture. There can definitely be advantages to an older cat(s). Was the moon really that orange color? Wow, nice pix, Len. And I did see Mars.

Oh Marybeth. Yamiche is my “girl crush” . She is so good. I was less familiar with Weijia, but now I remember. She got Trump to storm out of a press briefing. Well done. Please keep up with this writing. I so look forward to it, and feel like I am reconnecting with a wise friend.

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Three Things

4/20/2024

Three Things except it’s really more than that.

1. Earlier this year I read these two books by Palestinian writers and I recommend both. If you’ve read good books by Palestinian writers, maybe tell us about them in the comments?

The Confluence

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(I’ve written about this trip before but it’s been a long time.)

In 2000 we did a wilderness canoe/kayak trip on Utah’s Green River. We did this with our three kids plus friends and their two sons. Our youngest was nine, the oldest was 16, and our combined three boys were slapdash goofballs.

Three Things / Story, Eclipse, Brando

1. I scheduled my Substack story to go out at 8AM this morning. I just looked to see why it didn’t show up and it says it is going to be sent at 8:49 tonight. I’m going to leave it like that. Maybe 9PM on a weekend night is a good time to send short fiction. Let me know if you have an opinion.

2. I read this quote by Marlon Brando who said this early in his career. “I’m not afraid of anything and I don’t love money.”

Even though this is probably not exactly true of me and you, I do love the bravado.

Peace Like a River / Book Report

4/3/2024 She Writes

I just finished reading Peace Like a River by Leif Enger and I am going to talk about it for a little bit before I forget how profoundly interesting and evocative this book was and is, at least to me.

I get emails from Boswell Bookstore (2559 N Downer Ave in Milwaukee). They host artist events pretty often and Monday evening, April 15th Len and I will be there for the Author Evening with Leif Enger. You can look up more of the details if you are interested. (Tickets are free but you need to reserve them.)

My Grandkids & 'Wandering Stars'

4/1/2024

The past month has been jam-packed. The week in Mineral Point. Len’s two-day seminar in Chicago. Last week we had various grandkids here for three overnighters and yesterday our family came to Easter dinner here in our house which was clean after a week with grandkid overnighters so you know that was a piece of cake. Len smoked two hams (yes, hard to keep them lit) and I made the largest amounts of from-scratch scalloped potatoes plus macaroni and cheese that I have ever made. As in, I grated four pounds of cheese Saturday afternoon. “On Wisconsin.”

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