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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My step-grandmother Ricky ate an apple every night. She’d sit on her bed, lean against the headboard, then chomp the apple after which she would remove her false teeth and lay down to sleep.

I haven’t really thought about Ricky in years but this week for no identifiable reason (because we were talking about unsung aspects of our lives?) I dreamed about her. I awoke one morning seeing her face as she stood in her dining room chatting with my mom and me. Ergo, I started thinking about her.

What's Ordinary in Your World?

This train photo is not cribbed from anywhere. It's a Genuine Leonardo. 


Hello and how are you? I am writing less and less as Len and I meander around to doctors, specialists, dentists, and that way-too-early appointment at the endodontist. (So far, we are fine.) The irony being that most of what we are attending to are the side effects of medications prescribed for stuff that didn’t hurt and we didn’t even know we had.

A Quiet Week

The cat in the picture is my daughter's cat, Nancy. Sometimes we all just need a quiet place to slow down and think.


What's going right in your world?


My teeth again. Argh. This past week I’ve had a jaw ache/toothache that got worse instead of better. Today my dentist said I need a crown but also that’s not the thing that is causing the swelling and infection and ache. I now have an Rx for an antibiotic and an appointment for that crown and an appointment with an endodontist to get an Xray worthy of NASA.

Memory & Consequences


To remember hard stories truthfully requires bravery.


The picture is our wedding cake, made by my friend Karen, who drove it from Indiana to Chicago on the hottest day of that year. It was in the back seat so their two little boys had to ride in front (remember when kids could ride in front?). They got lost in the city but I didn't know that for years because Karen and her husband start early and had time to get lost and then figure it out. Sometimes wedded bliss is a lot of work. 

The following story and recipe is not about the wedding cake, but it is the photo I have...



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