Mary Beth Writes


I walk a lot; I laugh a lot and make other people laugh fairly often. I can water plants on a high shelf and carry laundry down two flights of stairs and pick up fairly heavy boxes to move from here to there. But boy oh boy, one thing I do not do is - I don’t Jump.

Except … maybe?

It was not yet 7AM and we were on I-94 into Chicago to watch our kindergarten grandkid and her 3-year-old brother for part of the day. Public schools were on spring break last week and my daughter and son-in-law were pulling out all the stops to keep her happy and safe while they kept up with their jobs.

My phone rang (buzzed?) identifying the caller as my daughter. Before I could say hello, Miss Six was sprightly chatting her plans for our day, “I have all my babies out and they all need you and me to take care of them and my other grandma gave me craft kits and we can do them and can we make cookies and go to the playground.”

She was talking so fast that I could barely say hello. My daughter was trying to get her to eat more breakfast but she was too excited to think about peanut butter toast or applesauce. All I could do was laugh. 

An hour later we walked in their front door whereupon Six pulled me to the kitchen to consult about her pile of dolls. Meanwhile, Mr. Three launched into deep conversation with Len, showing his printed-out pages of trains pictures (mostly from us) and identifying what was what in each photo. Len said later the kid can identify something like 30 types and models of engines and train cars. What he can’t do is say an R but Len can, so between them the conversation was vigorous and mutual.

Daughter, who needed to go upstairs to the corner of her bedroom to do her job (what a world!) said there’s a bakery close to their house. We put on our jackets back on and carried little bikes and helmets from the porch down to the sidewalk and off we spun and tumbled. Both kiddos were chatting whether we were next to them and responding or not. Amazingly, they DO stop at corners to wait for the grownups. Savvy city kids.

At the bakery (both kids knew how to get there, we just had to keep up) Miss Six said precisely at least eight times that she wanted a “vanilla iced Long John and one rainbow sprinkle cookie”. Mr. Three looked at the cookies at his eye level, picked out blue sprinkled ones, and that’s what he signified with less than crisp R’s and L’s. (‘I wan baloo.’) Len picked a chocolate iced donut and I, mortally impaired by the heartbreak of gluten sensitivity, ordered for them but not for me..

Then we were back outside chasing the flying small kids on their flying small bikes, on our way to the playground that is two blocks on the other side of their house.

Got there, laughing at how fast they zip and chatter. You don’t even have to really listen to them, they just keep talking, especially Kindergarten kid. It's kind of like the background sound in a contented chicken coop - a tumble of fluttery sounds.

We handed the kids their treats. Three ate his blue cookies so fast all I saw was that suddenly his lips and teeth were blue and his smile had sprinkles.

Len offered him a bit of his chocolate donut. Three proceeded to eat the entire top half with all the icing, then handed back to Len the bottom half of dry cake. By then Len and I were simply laughing at how confident and small they really are.

We watched them five hours. At lunch we discovered Six had eaten half her long john in the same fashion as her brother - the top iced half was gone, the bottom dry part lay like a victim in it’s bakery paper.

I’d brought a bag filled with random pieces of cardboard and paper towel tubes and old pansy-printed wrapping paper I bought at a Goodwill years ago. Before I could suggest anything, she announced her babies needed a crib (there are several adorable wood and/or plastic doll cribs upstirs in her room) but play is not about increasing inventory, it’s about the moment. Len designed a crib, cut it out, hot-glued it together. Six glue-sticked the pansy paper to the crib. A friend had given me an envelope of paper butterflies recently, Six glued several inside the crib. The new pansy crib was too small for any of her pile of babies, she said she needed her ladybug stuffie. So I snuck upstairs, past my daughter conducting a legal interview, to find the specific plush bug.

Three was busy drawing wavery lines on small pieces of paper. It made no sense until I asked and he said they were railroad tracks. Some of this lines ended at the edge of the paper. He informed me that they were an abandoned track. “It mean no twains go on it anymoe.”

Len and I looked at each other in amazement. He knows this? He can say 'abandoned' but not twacks?

I don’t jump?

Oh boy, yes I do.

Spending time with kids one likes and loves, this is how old people jump.

Speaking of jumping, how many of us will pay attention to the news tonight with rapt and jumping attention? An election whose results will map out the future of Wisconsin. Orange is arraigned. What a day.






Made me laugh, too!

Wisconnsin gives me such HOPE!!!!!! Patricia
Mary Beth's picture

In Wisconsin, when all voters get to vote, we tend to vote in Dem candidates. Not radical Dems, just Dems. But this state is so gerrymandered, brought to us by R's in 2010, that they have the majority in both state houses and as of a state senate race last night, R's won that by less than 1%, R's in the state senate now have the 2/3's needed to impeach. Possibly they will try to impeach Janet? Who knows? She won by 10%. The state seat was won by a tiny amount and that was in R suburbs. One can see voters are divided and also traditional R's are not all that keen on what's going on here. . This "may you live in interesting times" stuff is getting old...
Leonard's picture

Even though Republicans are in the majority in the WOW counties (Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington), they're not in total control - and the numbers in these counties are too big to ignore. 30% of the state's democrats are in Waukesha County, and the GOP can't win statewide against the "Blue Wall" here.

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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

Hum & Read


First of all, the Cute and Curious. Apparently we humans can’t worry while we hum - because humming requires too much bandwidth. When we hum, we don’t have enough power left in our head engines to think about other stuff. I don’t know if I believe this is always true but I’m sharing it in case it is.

I read a lot this week. It’s what I do when there is way to much to think about and I don’t know where to start. Read or eat. I haven’t gained any weight so you know it was a heavy reading week.

The Bad Muslim Discount by Syed M. Mahsood 

Three Things


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?

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