Mary Beth Writes


I’ve had so many interesting thoughts in the past ten days. These thoughts have whirled into my mind, swirled in circles like a canoer too dazzled by the beauty of the terrain to think about what that roaring sound is – and then whoosh over the waterfalls of my brain to disappear. Such is adult life.

Several years ago, I interviewed Lee Lee Thompson when I was writing about humans who were creating with rich lives on not-rich incomes. Read here. 

Lee Lee and I quickly discovered we had similar religiously conservative childhoods and similar reactions to those upbringings. She is a good writer, a feminist, a parent, avid reader, and she has begun a “tiny letter.” If you would like to read her, this is where to start.

From Lee Lee: You can subscribe at:

OR, you can read my first post, and then decide. :)

 She wrote in her intro to her new letter that even when she isn’t reading all the stuff that comes thought her email inbox, she saves stuff from me to read later. Thanks, Lee Lee!

Len is healing. The scabs on his nose and head are now gone which is amazing. I called 911 because it looked like Pangea had split into continents over his nose. In the ER my son and I anxiously asked if he should have a specialist plastic surgeon because we couldn’t imagine how that bleeding gash would ever close or heal. The ER physician was a personable guy who said we could do that, but he had sewn up a lot of lacerations in his career and he could do it right then. Here we are a month later and Len is once again a guy with a nose you are not going to think about when you meet him.

 An outpatient speech therapist gave him a test during rehab to see if he could coordinate some things. He mentioned to her that since he’s come home he’s revamped both of our Part D Medicare prescription coverages. He’d already done it, but now he has some new incredibly pricey Rx’s, plus we wanted to give more coverage to me in case I might also need fancy medicine in my future. I could tell you the details but just believe me – this project was long, confusing, and tedious; phone calls, online applications, phone calls, copies emailed here, mailed there, phone calls. The speech therapist said, “Oh.”

 And that was just one imbroglio. Len has been bushwhacking through red tape.

Here's are two healing-related issues neither he nor I expected.

1. He gets tired easily and often falls asleep by 9PM. All the info about recovering from brain surgery says this is typical and not to fight it, just take a nap or go to bed. But it’s weird to settle down at 8:37. You know?

A few nights we stayed up to almost 11:00 watching a movie; it felt like being an awed little kid staying up to see the New Year come in.

2. He is often chilled which is weird because in this partnership, I’m the one who gets cold. Suddenly, I have this chilly spouse. He started wearing long underwear under his jeans. Then one night he watched TV while I read upstairs. He came up to bed, I hugged him - he was HOT. I got the thermometer; his temp was 100 degrees.

So we said to each other that 100-degrees isn’t even high, we can call someone in the morning, yadda yadda. Didn’t talk to each other about it anymore, although I quietly and fervently googled ‘fever after a craniotomy’. Geez, I didn’t know people could get brain infections. He quietly and fervently looked up infected hearts.

In the morning his temp was 98.6. We looked up ‘what can cause a low temp?’ Hah, one can raise their core temperature by wearing long underwear under jeans, a shirt under a sweater, plus an acrylic fur afghan in a 70-degree living room.

We laughed at ourselves and then I said I said I didn’t want any more episodes of that kind of worrying. Which made us laugh again, this time ruefully. We are almost 70. What are the chances our future will bring us LESS worrying about health?

Last week my daughter completed her last classwork and research project for her MA in Data Science and Machine Learning.

Machine Learning means using computers to collect and collate information. This is the process of Google collecting all the places you go, because you have Google maps on your phone. They collate that info to predict what you might like to buy and then sell your private info to mega corporations. Machine learning is also how they use computers to read 3D mammograms to detect cancer when it’s too small for humans to detect. So, you know, a power than can go this way or that way.

This daughter just informed us that today – 12022021 – is a palindrome because it reads the same frontwards and backwards. Also today is also an ambigram because it reads the same upside down.

 And even though I claim I don’t talk about my kids a whole lot, I kinda want to say this kid did her master’s degree while she worked fulltime. And parented … two cats. 





Hello Mary Beth and Ron, Getting older is scary and the health insurance maze is scary. I have begun to think I must be a great big chicken. Anyway I'm a chicken who has to rule the cat! He would boss me around if he could. I have to arm myself with the water sprayer at times. He is also such a cute boy and so hilarious. He provides me with a lot of smile time.

Love the updates. It’s a way of keeping track of each other.

So, here are my rambling reactions to this post..... Love the photo of Leonard! I must have missed the Lee Lee story when you wrote it - I just read it, and I plan to sign up for her tiny letter. I use the same strategy she does about your writings. If I don't have time to read one when it comes in, I save it for later (or sometimes I save it for something special a little later in my day). Thank you. Love the outpatient rehab story. I still remember Leonard helping me to do my taxes and making all the complicated stuff seem a little less scary. I do ours with TurboTax now, thanks to my Leonard lessons. I have to tell you that I needed to look up the word imbroglio. Always good to add a new word of the day. I understand the google fest the two of you were on re: temps and infections. Can't even begin to tell you how many times I have gone down google rabbit holes. Really good way to get info in the middle of the night, if you use good sources, which I know you two are doing. I hope you brag about those kids of yours more often. I am very impressed with your pocket child's latest accomplishment. I miss all of you and really look forward these glimpses into your world :)
Mary Beth's picture

I had forgotten we all called her Pocket Child!!

Thanks, Judy, but I also remember that I screwed up filing your return. But, we figured it out and know we both know more about taxes. Which is probably not what either of expected when we thought about the future.

Thanks for sharing, Mary Beth! Isn't it weird how one experience can continue to have an impact?? So glad we connected. And glad that Len (and you) are adjusting.

So glad the recovery is going so well, and that you both are adjusting. Patricia

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Quarantine Diary #680 Too Close Covid


Judy suggests a podcast that her daughter-in-law, an infectious disease physician, listens to and recommends. It’s The Osterholm Update: COVID 19. Osterholm is an epidemiologist and Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. He’s on President Biden's COVID-19 Advisory Board.

The podcast is a little wordy here and there but one can fast-forward. Here is what I learned that makes a difference to me.

Quarantine Diary #674 - MLK Day


It’s Martin Luther King Day.  I read this last week (in Soul Matters for those of you who are UU). 

There is no such state of being that can be called - “I’m not a racist.”

There is only racist and anti-racist.

Quarantine Diary #668 Making an Effort

We hiked on Sunday.


How was your weekend?

Have you noticed that with this omicron iteration of covid isolation – if one is not an employee - it’s tricky to tell what is a weekend and what is not? I think about what my kids might be doing and maybe we call them and that is the main way weekends are different from weeks. By what other people are doing.

Quarantine Diary #664 Whine, whine, whine.


Lincoln gave a speech in January of 1838 to Americans alarmed by mob actions.

He begins: “In the great journal of things happening under the sun, we, the American People …

Quarantine Diary #662 Janus month.


I can still hear my mom saying, “I don’t know whether I’m coming or going today.” I thought of this, one of her favorite sayings, when I wrote this letter to the Third Graders yesterday.

Dear Kids!

I hope you had a fine winter holiday. Now it is January 2022. Do you know where the word January comes from?

In ancient Roman culture, Jānus was a god of doorways, beginnings, and of the rising and setting of the sun. The Latin word jānus, means doorway. Janus is where you enter or leave a space.

Quarantine Diary #661 Mistakes

This is a lemming. Make mistakes this year, but don’t make the lemming mistake.


This morning, while looking in our under-the-fridge freezer for soup for supper (neither of us want to cook today), we discovered a towel-wrapped lettuce. What can I say? It’s a whole new mistake to make that we have never made before.

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