A Writer’s Greatest Fear

Yesterday started like every other Sunday in our lives. We were watching our shows, sipping coffee and savoring pecan kringle. Just as we were to connect on Skype with our son in Denver, I received a text notifying me of the death of dear friend.

It left me speechless for most of the day. The loss affected my ability to corral words into a meaningful and poignant email to inform the rest of the Nitty Gritty Committee.

I lost my power with words.

Yes, the loss of one of our team members has shocked me to the core. Perhaps because last year we spent four months meeting every two weeks to plan and prepare our 40th class reunion. I was so happy to have him as part of our team. He knew so may people and had connections the rest of the us on the team did not.

For a time, several years, I wouldn’t see him. Our lives (filled with raising children) kept us missing each other. When we would run into each other, it was like that length of time had stood still for us, those years mere seconds in the scheme of time.

The loss of that brilliant and sincere smile no longer finding me in the grocery store, or calling me to tell me which classmate he ran into that day, leaves me feeling lost and empty.

His family was his greatest accomplishment outside tending to the spiritual needs of his congregation. He cared for all aspects of their lives. He didn’t tell me that, but I knew it, because I knew the type of person her was. He wouldn’t have given less than all of himself. My heart is feeling this loss as well; for his family and his congregation need that same compassion now more than ever. I have told his widow to please let me know what I can do to help, and I hope she doesn’t think it a hollow offering. We don’t know each other well, but because he loved her, I hold her in the highest regards.

Now I need to scramble to regain my power with words, because they suddenly seem to have disappeared.

Rest in peace, my friend.

I miss you already.


The Hickory Street Hooligans

In my previous post, I named the group of is neighborhood kids, “The Hickory Street Hooligans.”

Many adventures of those youthful years occurred. There were several factions of kids. We didn’t care that some went to public schools and other to the Catholic school nearby. Your age determined what faction you belonged to. There was the older kids – and that’s where I fell into. My brothers had another group (the brothers of my friends), and my sister with her posse.

In the group that I belonged to, it was just three or four of us. Two sisters Patrice and Lynn, Kathleen who lived across the street from them, followed by myself. Being the youngest I was also bringing up the rear. We went through the neighborhood with a wagon collecting pop bottles to get the deposit money back. We then rushed to the five and dime to spend the money on Indian Head Pumpkin Seeds, wax lips and candy dots on rolls of paper.

We also gathered every Saturday during the summer and fall after our chores were completed and our allowances were burning holes in the palms of our hands. We would walk downtown (a thriving commerce center before they built the mall on the outskirts of town) and consume a hot dog and pop at the Sears, or Woolworths.

We would investigate the stationery store that had a book store on the second floor. There I fell in love with Nancy Drew mysteries and would spend my money on that as well. Once I caught up with all the titles, Tiger Beat and Sixteen magazines became my next obsession. From there, it was 45 rpm records which led to my first layaway of a portable stereo turntable and upgrading my music collection to include albums. For the times, it was only portable if you carried a bunch of size D batteries or had an electrical outlet nearby.

It was my first big purchase.

We would listen to music, sketch out own fashion designs. A couple of us would flip and cartwheel our way down the sidewalk to improve our cheer leading skills. From these girls I learned about sisterhood and teenage boys.

High school divided us, giving way to new friends and broader interests, but I think of those girls and that time of my youth often.

Still Life

Tonight I am going to a drawing class, compliments of my son. He gave me a gift card to Michael’s for Christmas. Immediately (okay, not so immediate – there are decorations to take down, you know) I scanned the website for the next class that might strike my fancy.

Viola! Drawing Still Life.

Now, you might say, M.B., why are going to a drawing class at your stage in life? Let’s look at the reasons why I shouldn’t go:

  • My drawing will look a three year old can do better.
  • I can wind up looking like a hopeless fool in a class of genuinely talented people.

The reasons I should go:

  • My drawing can look like a three year old can do better. I actually have had that happen already with this same instructor, only this time the medium was acrylic paints. Humility is defined by a 10 year old painting the Sistine Chapel while you try to perfect the color wheel.
  • I can end up looking like a hopeless fool in a class of genuinely talented people. Refer to number one.
  • A new experience. There is a lot to be said for the empty nest. This is very true when your life revolved around travel hockey for about twelve years. Suddenly you have weekends and weeknights free!
  • Rekindling my love of art. Many of you may not realize this (probably just my siblings and some old homeys from the Hickory Street Hooligans (a moniker I just made up), but I used to draw quite a bit growing up. After writing, painting and drawing, pottery and stained glass remain on my creative bucket list.

New experiences bring you closer to the inner you. It’s an opportunity to spread your wings and gain new self respect and perhaps even new friends.

Recently a friend from high school had a showing of her hand crafted jewelry at an art gallery. My husband and I went up to show our support and bask in the sunshine of creativity. This gallery also offers different classes. My ultra creative, gifted friend and I think we will try to get a group of us girls from high school and take a class together.

Tonight’s class is to be led by the same instructor who, upon perusing my very rudimentary color wheel asked me what I learned from the experience. I told her I had to work on my blending skills. In a very maternal manner, she looked at me and said, “That’s what you got out of it?”

It still makes me chuckle.

You’ve heard “Life is too short”. In many ways it is; especially without the ability to laugh at oneself. So tonight I shall venture forth and try to wake up my dormant drawing skills!

Thanks Son! This is will be a wonderful gift of self-discovery.


Photo by Jess Watters from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/black-pencil-screenshot-750913/


And…We’re Off!

The New Year has finally arrived and although I personally was very satisfied with what I accomplished in 2017, I now set my sights on 2018.

In 2018, I have both writers’ groups to look forward to. I also have back-to-back writers’ conferences in April. My goal (or resolution if that’s the better term for you) is to improve my writing, and spend more time writing.

In February there are two special landmarks – my mother turns 80 (gasp!) and my husband’s aunt turns 100!!!!! That will certainly be a bash. My mother – she always told me she was 39 – lives in warmer climates, so my goal is to visit her this year.

Since I can’t get through a year without planning an event, I shall turn my attention to one big family bash – and then maybe an all out friends’ get together this summer. Haven’t you always wanted your friends to meet your other friends? It might be time to do that.

I’m also reminded of the Rotary club’s annual spring gala that we are working on. My April is full already!

Last year we took a great trip. As much as I would LOVE to cruise again, I think some smaller trips are in my future for 2018. I need to make that happen.

In May, I will spend a few days with our Southern Son at his graduation from Berkeley! I am so proud of him. Like our own son who has set goals for himself and his education, this ‘son’ has done it also on his terms. They both amaze me! Our son and my husband will be traveling together again, back to Europe and some genealogy digging. I think the opportunity to travel like that is so important for both men in my life. What memories they will have of their special times traveling together!

My other goals are to read more, be more creative, be more aware (less self centered), lose weight, blah, blah, blah….. (you see which one is last in line, don’t you?)

Here’s to all your 2018 goals! Please share them with me.

A note to all my readers and fellow bloggers:   I started this blog one year ago and I thank all you for checking in, reading and subscribing. I appreciate you!   – mb


Pearls of Wisdom

One of the things that I do in my job is produce a weekly bulletin for the Highland Park/Highwood Rotary Club. I am an honorary member and proud of the Rotarian efforts to effect change for the better in people lives. Their motto is Service Above Self and all around the world they accomplish this – one small village at a time or in our own backyards.

When I started doing this, I wanted to put my mark on it, making it informative and poignant. I added the “Pearls of the Club” feature. I asked members to send me their favorite quotes and only a few did, but I have to say that I’ve enjoyed searching for those iridescent pearls of wisdom. As we close out the year, I’d like to share a few of my favorite with you.

A book is like a garden carried in the pocket. – Chinese proverb

Fiction is life with the dull bits left out. – Clive James

Don’t follow the crowd, let the crowd follow you. – Margaret Thatcher

We must never forget that the highest form of appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. – John F. Kennedy

Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations. – Mae Jemison

The belief that there is only one truth, and that oneself is in possession of it, is the root of all evil in the world. – Physicist Max Born

Sometimes we spend so much time and energy thinking about where we want to go that we don’t notice where we happen to be. – Dan Gutman

There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it. -Edith Wharton

I could go on, but I think you get the gist.

In 2018, may you always your pocket full of books, may you always be a candle or a mirror and show your appreciation by keeping your mouth still and your hands busy.

Mary Beth


Telling is the way it falls
down, drifting, swirling
its own landscape
with hills and valleys

It snuggles onto windowsills
while we cozy on the sofa
is that forlorn I see?
wanting to come inside

It disguises parked cars
hides garden gnomes forgotten
left to shiver in the cold
muting holiday lights everywhere

morning unveils snow’s artistry
bare trees our private painting
sapphire sky its backdrop
wishing I had my camera –

to remember this beauty in sultry July

The Never Ending List

This time of year my ‘to do list’ is much like everyone else’s:

  • Put up tree and decorate
  • Compose Christmas letter
  • Prepare house for guests
  • Plan menus
  • Attend holiday parties
  • Christmas shop
  • Send packages to out of state family

You get the idea. What’s not on my list is baking or sending out cards. To be honest, I never have the time or gumption to bake. I also don’t have the money to buy and mail cards after Christmas shopping. The price of stamps is about what Christmas cards used to cost (okay, I know I’m going way, way back).

If that’s not enough, there is still the list of things I need to complete – from back in October. With just a few weeks left in the year, these items loom larger in my list of tasks.

I am a list person.

In my previous job, it was one way of keeping myself on track. I also make notes on my desk calendar what needs to be done each day of the month. I also use lists to plan my week – you know, Monday after work I have to get these three things done; Tuesday I need to get five things done – and that doesn’t include dinner, dishes and getting my clothes ready for the next day. Let’s not forget the coffee pot either! (See earlier post, “The Sanctity of Coffee”.)

So this week, on top of wrapping gifts and finish up shopping, there’s haircuts and hopefully you’ll catch me in line at the post office Saturday morning. I’ve made calls that needed to be done and emails sent. Check – that’s done.

Here is the lonely nag on my list – post on the reunion Facebook page. This item has been sitting like a wallflower at a junior high dance. Invisible and yet “there” at the same time. Its discomfort at being forgotten has only made it more prominent on my list.  Its font has grown from a modest Callibri 9 to an Arial Black Bold 16. Still it waits.

So this week, after I’ve finished this post (and crossed it off my list) I will compose my post for my classmates. After I check that item off my list, I’ll probably be adding three more.

Will it ever end?