Mary Beth Writes

Len has been riding his bike to visit “his” ospreys again this year. Not his, but he knows where they are and this is his third year watching them.

His photo is from yesterday.

Ospreys exist on every continent except Antarctica although the only visit South America to fish, they don’t stay to breed or raise families. (They don’t speak Spanish?)  Unlike other birds of prey, ospreys’ toes are of equal length and their talons are rounded, rather than grooved. Osprey and owls are the only raptors whose outer toe is reversible, allowing them to grasp their prey with two toes in front and two behind. This is particularly helpful for grabbing slippery fish. Len would be a more successful fisherperson, too, if he could get hooks to come down on both sides of the poor fish at once.

Ospreys mate for life. Their diet is all fish (they are sometimes called fish hawks). Parents work together to mind their eggs AKA kids. They take turns flying off to catch fish for the family.  

Several years ago, Len and I were camping along the Wisconsin River. I woke early in the morning to the unnerving sound of great splashes as something hit the river. Freaked me right out. We got up to look. An osprey was fishing. To see that while the sun is rising and the spray of water arcs like shards of glass, that was something.


Today I read Fashion Advice that suggests if one is going to wear a light summer dress one ought to wear bike shorts underneath.

Someone thinks this is a new idea?

Remember when ALL girls ALL wore dresses or skirts ALWAYS? Our parents were fine with this limitation, so we barely questioned it. Here’s one of our baby-boomer gifts to this nation right here. Question stuff, especially dress codes.

Girls generally wore pants or shorts under our dresses. Remember how one had to be careful after they went to the bathroom to make sure the back of their dress wasn’t tucked inside their pants. Part of our training to become women, I guess. Always be aware of all the ways you could mess up. Be cognizant of your front, your back, your sides (does your stomach stick out?) and also all the people around you and also the ones you can’t see who might need you to do something for them. And also concentrate on your studies and keep your room clean. And then they called us scatterbrained.

There were very few athletic clothes for girls; those non-stretchable one-piece gym “suits” in high school looked like X-rated Victorian swimming suits.

We also didn’t have Girls Athletics or Title IX. We had very few role models – and the ones that absolutely were out there – were kept secret from us. Did I know, sitting on the tile floor of my school cafeteria on May 1, 1961, to watch Alan Shepherd blast into space and then return safely – did I know Black women did the math that made that possible?

I am glad the world moved on. I am glad for the place I have had to watch, believe in, and support more rights and roles for women. I am glad we now have teams and role model athletes and protocols and laws to facilitate sports for girls and all the rest, including sports for trans-kids. Get a grip everybody. We need to move and some of us like to compete - so make a path.

But while many of us didn’t have a clear path forward - we did have something most modern kids don’t have. We had time, space, freedom, and each other. Adults expected we would play. Schools sent us outside in the morning, noon, and afternoon. Our parents sent us outside after school. And if we stayed inside, we had to read books or play board games, because there wasn’t endless kid-oriented TV. We were often on our own with no one minding us.

No one talked about sex. No one asked us what we were going to do when we grew up because everyone (including us) assumed we girls would be teachers, nurses, and moms. There were no mass shootings. Sometimes there were bullies but often there weren’t. Expectations were less. There was less pressure.

For those of us not at the mercy of toxic adults, our childhood was steeped in sexism, but it was also, in authentic ways, wide open to make our own path.

The shorts under our dresses and pants under our skirts were our first taste of moving out and up and fast.


These pithy quotes from Twitter. “Critical race theory” means – history.  One can’t say history isn’t history because it offends one’s sense of privileged place in this world. 

I also like this. “No one is entitled to be ignorant.”



Good read and yes, I remember shorts under dresses.
Mary Beth's picture

Curiously, "under dresses" is almost under duress...

If I tattooed myself I would use your quotation finale. Had a flood of memories while reading this - yep shorts underneath, particularly with my skirts. Thanks for writing!!!
Mary Beth's picture

That quote - I had to go back to a bunch of places to find where I read it - is in a tweet from John Fugelsang. "You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant." And Fugelsang says this quote is from Harlan Ellison. 5/31/2021

I have an Osprey that hunts at the canal in my back yard. He/She is a wonder to watch. They disappear for a while, and then return every fall. Wearing a short under my dress gave me such freedom! Specially under the school uniform.We could actually play kickball! I played tennis as a teenager, and never was a fan of the tennis clothes. I briefly joined a tennis league in my late 30s enter biker shorts under the tennis skirt...or just biker shorts. WOW! I mean WOW!

I have an osprey family that hunts on the canal in my back yard. They are a wonder to watch. In my late 30s, I briefly joined a tennis league. Biker shorts under the tennis skirt. WOW! I mean WOW! Don't know they improved my game much but they did wonders for my sense of freedom.
Mary Beth's picture

I know you probably meant for me to accept one of your comments - but they are slightly different and I love them both. Yup, have we ever felt as much freedom as when we were youngsters running and doing flips and pumping high on swings - in our little plaid dresses with our shorts underneath.

I thought my first comment got lost! :)
Mary Beth's picture

Len and I need to look at the reply process again. Often one reply comes through twice - and I can figure that out. But you stymied me slightly Which is my favorite way to be stymied.

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Quarantine Diary #681 "If this were easy ... "


Thanks to you who responded to yesterday's post with affirming comments. It feels awkward and sad to cancel activities we want to do with people we like and love. As our friend David so helpfully reminded, “Just because we’re paranoid doesn’t mean it isn’t out to get us.”

Are you also are confused about quarantining? This HuffPost article is the clearest article I’ve read yet about how long to isolate if one has Covid, or one is positive, or if one has been exposed.   

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.

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