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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Happy Birthday to Len

11/30/2022 

Today is Len’s birthday. I told him this morning I might write about him but I would let him read whatever I said first. He said not to run it past him, he’d like the surprise of reading it when you all do. Let’s see what I come up with.

1. This is cute. Len was born in Chicago’s Passavant Memorial Hospital which was the grandparent hospital to Northwestern’s Prentice Women’s Hospital - where two of our grandkids were born.

Stories, Q Club, Us

The photo is not by Len or me, its from I Love Canada on FB. I've seen a sky like that just once. 

11/21/2022

Last week I read two books about young people who left their homes. They experienced some good and too many rough experiences and they couldn’t go back until they figured out how to not be who they used to be. Both novels knocked my socks off.

The People You Keep by Allison Larkin

Covid Diary #979 - Still Paying Attention?

11/17/2022

Yes, it’s been 979 days since Friday the 13th, March 2020, when everything changed.

Last Saturday one of our kids visited for several hours with their kids. It was fun though our kid looked tired. They said they’d taken a Covid test that morning and it was negative. They figured it was the wine and rich foods they’d shared the evening before with friends at the end of a very busy week.

Next Day - What Are You Seeing?

11/9/2022

It was a late night last night, wasn’t it? Len worked at a polling place 6:30 AM until 10:30 PM. He said the actual experience is a lot like working retail (which he has not done since he was 22). Stand up most of the time, pleasantly say the same thing over and over. Wonder if lunch is soon.  

Professional reporters and pundits are talking a lot about “what just happened”, but heck, we are noticing interesting things, too.  Let’s talk about what We The People saw and heard and are watching now.

Here are some things catching my attention.

Election Day

11/8/2022 

So many times I’ve thought things were going to be okay, and then they weren’t. My dad had that heart attack and the kid who was MB back then told herself to not overthink the drama because things always turn out more or less okay. Then the next day he died.

We lost a pregnancy far enough along that we had a name picked out and a crib in which to put that child. For a week I had all the misery and cramps that go with miscarrying and I still thought somehow it was going to work out okay.

That Beep-Beep-Beeping Moment.

In spring Len got a $100 traffic ticket when he turned right at a corner we’ve been turning right at for seven years. However, construction had started and there were orange barrels and cones everywhere – plus a small sign NOT facing the street Len was on, telling drivers to not turn there.

Len went back later that day and took photos. Len called the city to mention that if they posted a sign that actually faced the traffic, the city could save the cost of the cop parked there ticketing drivers.

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