Mary Beth Writes


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?

Minor Detail by Adania Shibli is a short novel. It’s about a modern Palestinian woman who becomes obsessed by a murder she reads about from the 1948 Israeli military takeover of Palestinian land. The story is powerful because it doesn’t take on the enormous tragedy endured by Palestinian people. Minor Detail is one story about one story.

Raja Shehadeh published his Palestinian Walks in 2007. He’s a Palestinian Christian lawyer who walks around his hometown of Ramallah. Adults who work, write, walk? We are this guy. Shehadeh started rambling, often with friends, some Jewish, in early adulthood. Over the years Israeli encroachment curtailed almost all the places he used to walk.

I looked online this morning to see where Shehadeh is now. He’s still in Ramallah and he published this article recently. Shehadeh’s article in the Guardian:

This quote: “From Lyndsey Stonebridge’s book We Are Free to Change the World – “It is when the experience of powerlessness is at its most acute, when history seems at its most bleak, that the determination to think like a human being, creatively, courageously, and complicatedly matters the most.”

2. A few days ago I was frustrated at writing so I went for a walk. To be clear I am often frustrated at writing, but on the day I’m talking about I went for a walk. Then another walk. Seven miles of walking. Good grief.

I logged in and LISTENED to my ordinary world around me. There are lots of cars in my busy neighborhood. Some go the speed limit and thus don’t make loud screeches and thrums. I enjoy the lack of violence of moderately paced cars.

There are cars with the windows down and super loud music. I like the Mexican music most and I don’t know why. Is it cultural appropriation on my part or is it simply because Mexican car music is the best?

A train was pounding down the tracks so I stopped to admire the enormous engines. I usually wave to the engineers (the 6-year-old is strong in me) and wonder what it feels like to be the only human driving all that. (Is it easier or harder than writing a short story? At least when I don't do my job, nothing falls off a track.)  That afternoon dozens upon dozens of empty Herzog cars rattled along like loose thunder. It’s rare to see a long train where all the cars have one logo so I googled Herzog. It’s a big company that, among many ventures, builds and leases railroad cars. Were the cars I saw related to government infrastructure projects?

Birds were singing like crazy. I read recently that some birds are learning to mimic police car sirens.That's going to be fun. 

A mile away from this neighborhood is the cop shooting range. Gunfire is a jarring accompaniment to a walk in the neighborhood.

3. The eclipse was awesome though we stayed overnight to avoid the national post-eclipse traffic jam. The next morning I saw a cat walking through the Airbnb backyard. Except, no, it wasn’t a cat. It wasn’t a fox. It was a bobcat! So now I am a person who has, in her life, seen two full eclipses and one full bobcat.

4. Sunday evening we were sitting quietly in our chairs doing our crossword puzzles. Suddenly there was the jolting bang of collision. We ran outside as did most everyone on our street. A shiny black truck was careening past. The woman across the street was already on the phone to 911 as her husband and adult son called out details. I like a neighborhood that responds.

The black truck had crashed against a white truck parked two houses from us. That collision broke the front axle and the front tire FELL OFF the black truck, but the guy kept his foot to the pedal and hurtled forward. You can see a black metallic scrape down the middle of our street.

Cops came. The broke truck was stuck across the intersection at the end of the block because, without an axle, it couldn’t turn. The dad and son heard the guy getting arrested. He was drunk, he’d been on his phone, the truck belonged to his employer. Wow, there’s a pile of bad juju.

So we walked across the street to chat with the neighbors we recognize but don’t know. Soon the conversation came around to his classic car in his garage. He took us to see it and it’s the most gorgeous car I’ve ever seen; a 1955 Chevy two-toned burgundy something or other. I think the chrome said Bel Air but Len says no.

I came home. Len stayed and talked with that guy about what this neighborhood was like before we moved in. He said they are happy we’re here; we are a lot calmer than previous residents. As it were.

With support like that we returned to our crossword puzzles.

5. My son-in-law says sure, I can share this. If you have Spotify or some other music streaming service, Pete has created an album of electronic music and you are invited to listen to it. It’s interesting and calm. I do not know how he creates his music but he has loved this genre for years. Now that they are through their High Baby Years he’s back to creating music. CentiPete  SlowGoing (don’t get fooled by Centipede. It’s CentiPete) And that photo he uses is, yes, the Chicago skyline.

6. Wow! I watched the 1996 Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet with Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio. It was a stunner! I ‘got it’ more than most Shakespearean movies I’ve watched.

The movie/play is set in more-or-less modern Mexico. The ‘dance moves’ violence of opposing Montagues and Capulets makes sense via our (stereotypical) understanding of cartel gangs. The gang guys’ moves and spoken lines and over-the-top choreographed bravado pop as much as the romance of the teenagers. Actually, the gang’s gorgeous aggression becomes a sort of wild frame inside of which Danes and DiCaprio move and touch. Much as, I bet, Shakespeare intended.

I watched with subtitles which allowed both reading and hearing Shakespeare’s language. I watched in on Hulu though it streams on several venues.

7. My story is up at Substack and today it’s very short. I wrote it after our trip to New Mexico in 2021 Read here:




Your city life sure is more interesting than my country life. You know, the city mouse and the country mouse. Pretty sure, I need CentiPete’s calming music in my life. Enjoyed your blog.

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What the Dickens?

The photo is from Barnados, a childrens charity in London in the 19th century. 


Argh! I have a new phone because the old one stopped staying charged plus a few more foibles. My phone cost $400 five years ago so it makes sense that it stopped working reliably, right? If an appliance worked like this we would burn that manufacturer to the ground.

Swan Story


I’ve been reading a lot of other people’s writing lately and I have decided there is too much to read. Much of it is very good but there is JUST TOO MUCH!

So my goal going forward is to write shorter posts, more often, that might remind you of the glory, power, and goofiness of your life as well as mine.

So, let me say again what’s always very true. Thank you for reading what I write.


About My Memorial Day Story


Today my story ‘Memorial Day’ is posted at Substack. Read it here. 

Courage, Big & Little



I’m writing fiction this week. I started a story in December that, along the way, turned into a Memorial Day story. It will be my Substack story this Saturday.

This morning I looked for an old newspaper column to rerun and found this one about a time when one of our kids needed to have four teeth pulled.

Cholesterol Numbers & Squirrels


Years ago I was out to dinner with friends. We were all just entering our 40’s and thus were all beginning to get the fun medical tests about this and that and cholesterol. I said, to a friend next to me, that I’d started eating oatmeal everyday for breakfast and my cholesterol had dropped …..

The room went silent.

Everyone heard “cholesterol dropped” and stopped speaking. Everyone wanted to hear how much it had dropped – which was about 8 points. In our twenties the conversation stopper was gossip about sex. Now the secret sauce was HDL and LDL

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