Mary Beth Writes

(One decorates for October birthdays with orange trees.) 

Last week was my birthday. My niece Susan sometimes sends me birthday greetings where she asks excellent questions. She doesn’t know I still have the card she sent six years ago; I meant to answer her questions in the blog I had then, but I never got around to it.

Since I have this year’s card from her right here, right now – I am going to answer her good questions. If you are feeling cynical or overwhelmed about the rest of the world, go ahead and ask yourself these questions. Get out of the news cycle; visit your own head.

What is something you learned to do this year?

This was the year Physical Therapy became my go-to magical miracle. I learned how to do hip stretching exercises on behalf of my poor sore tailbone of last autumn-through winter. This summer I learned quad strengthening exercises which enabled my knee bones to work again. I don’t have a hairstylist, but I do have a physical therapist. That kind of year.

I learned a little bit about how to edit photos in Photoshop before I put them on my website.

I learned that you can put me in quarantine lockdown for eight months and if in the middle of that you ask me if I would like to meet friends to do a socially distant activity outside with people I like and love – I will still have to talk myself into it. I knew I was an introvert. I didn’t know I was this far gone…

I discovered that The National Book Awards books are interesting, compelling, brilliantly written, wildly varied. Why have I not been paying attention all my life to all these awesome books?

Who do you know now that you didn’t a year ago?

My granddaughter is three so obviously I knew her a year ago. But reading to her every day for 10-15 minutes on Facetime has made us “familiars.” She talks to us now. She has opinions. She is bright and chatty, interested and feisty - just the way we want little kids to be. Today we read Barney Bear’s Pizza Shop. Haven’t read it to her in weeks although since March I’m sure we’ve read it four or five times. There’s a part where vendors bring product into the restaurant kitchen and, yup, she knows which one is Sammy and which one is Rita. She reminds us, before we get to that page, that when the bear family sits around eating pizza, she’s the cub in the pink overalls. She said to us today that we should come over to her house sometimes and we can sit outside (she knows coronavirus quarantine protocols better than many Republican politicians) and have pizza together. We think that is a great idea.

What is something about which you have changed your mind?

When Len makes hamburgers on the grill, he puts molasses and soy sauce on the patty that will be his burger. He leaves my plain, because years ago I made fun of him in regard to this procedure. Then, this year, I tasted his burger and OMG it is WAY better than mine. I ate one serving of humble pie and ever since, my hamburgers are immensely more flavorful.

I just now asked him what he does in case you want to try it, too. He says this is for about two burgers of about 1/3 pound of meat each, preferably from meat where the cows got to walk around and eat grass. Use about 1 tablespoon of molasses and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce. Pat these condiments on one side, flip the burger and do the other side. Do the next burger. These measurements are not precises.

The chemistry of what happens when this sweetness hits the heat and flames – well, this wife could possibly have been more respectful of Len’s meat savvy.

How will you celebrate this year?

I like to utilize (hah) birthdays as an occasion to move and to eat. In the past two weeks, with and without Len, I’ve gone on four nature hikes.

(It is pheasant hunting season at Bong Nature Center. This pheasant stuck close to me for much of my hike.)

On my actual birthday we went into Milwaukee to pick up a book at Boswell’s and then buy some more books. We walked Brady Street to the lake and back. We went to Glorioso’s Italian Market and also to Peter Sciortino’s Bakery and at both places we spent money like thrashing catfish. Sicilian salad, pizza bread, different pizza bread, tiramisu from each place, and more.

That evening we ate more delicious food at home including more bites of those tiramisus.

This is my birthday party from the year (4th grade?) when I got a brownie camera. Which is why I am not in the photo. 

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Comments

Love it! We aren’t getting older, we are getting better!

I just love your old photo! Those parties were so great- humble, simple, but epic to us! When I was 10 I got a Kodak X-15 Instamatic camera, which was a huge, important present. I have the little album of my first pictures- priceless!
Mary Beth's picture

Thanks! I've scanned some of those old pix and emailed to my cousins. there are three cousins in that photo, I think the boys were there cuz my mom wanted to have a good time, too. Which meant getting her sister and SIL - my aunts - involved in the after school party-ette. Cameras were oh so chic... And i still love to take photos when I'm out and about. Those kid cameras invited us to see the bits and parts and people around us.

What a great way to celebrate a birthday! Those are some fun places to visit, and especially with permission to try those delicacies. Tiramisu is a real treat! I am going to try Len’s not so secret burger recipe, too. Sounds delicious.
Mary Beth's picture

We've lived in Wisconsin 25 years - longer than I lived in Chicago - but I'm still a foreigner in Milwaukee.

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"You have to be your own health advocate." Really?

8/15/2022 

I don’t want to write about this forever, but I just learned some things about being ill and being healthy. Still learning, in fact.

One thing and another, this year I’ve had very high and then pretty high cholesterol numbers. My nurse practitioner wanted me to start a non-statin cholesterol-lowering medication, but because I’m me, first I tried a Chinese herbal called Red Yeast Rice (it’s the red that makes Peking Duck be red!) It lowered my numbers but because of other things going on, it wasn’t clear if it was the solution I needed.

Ricky

8/7/2022

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. 

8/1/2022

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.

7/23/2022

What's going right in your world?

7/11/2022

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

7/7/2022

To remember hard stories truthfully requires bravery.

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