BELL BOTTOMS BLUES – Marilyn Armstrong

I miss the blue jeans. The big wide bell bottoms denim jeans were the most flattering pants I ever wore. They made my legs look longer and my hips narrower. Of course, I was also 50 years younger, so that may have had something to do with it too … but still, I miss them.

From the year my son was born — 1969 — and for the next few years, fashion and I were in tune. It was probably the only time in my life when what was in fashion looked good on me and was also comfortable. I had not yet discovered the joy of elastic.

It was the happiest and hippiest of times …

I was young, in my early twenties. I wore bell bottoms. My favorite pair were patchwork jeans. By the end of a day wearing them, I looked as if I had been sitting on a waffle iron. I loved them anyway.

My shirts had fringes. Everything had fringes. I think my draperies had fringes too.


I wore granny glasses with rose-tinted lenses. I had my hair cut in a shag. I carried my baby in a sling on my hip, had a Leica on my shoulder and a song in my heart. That was a great time.

They are making them again now, but they aren’t cut the same way and aren’t flattering. And anyway, these days if it doesn’t stretch, I probably won’t wear them. I miss having a body and clothing. I really miss the Leica. Mostly, I want those old bell bottoms back!


A Viral Verse, by Rich Paschall

It’s time to hunker in your Bunker.
But don’t sequester next to Lester.
He might have the virus.
He’s been sitting close to Iris.

And stay away from Bill,
He thinks he’s got a chill.
And you will have a pain
If you’re listening to Jane.

Jim has not been cool,
Had a party at his school.
And just to add a bonus,
He invited his friend Jonas.
They had a lot of folks,
Telling many dirty jokes.
He picked up a quick a kiss
From his handsome buddy Chris.

Some have not been seen,
Must be in the quarantine.
We will say it quick,
We hope they are not sick.
Others are at the store,
And invited several more.
They didn’t hear or care,
They shouldn’t be out there.
May we just repeat,
To keep at least six feet.

Still, there’s some resistance,
About keeping a good distance.
Heed the advice of your physician,
Not some wealthy politician.


A Photo a Week Challenge: Changing Seasons

It was such a warm winter — with no snow at all — that spring is arriving without the usual fanfare. I don’t know how well out “outside” flowers are doing because I don’t go out. I can tell the season is changing because the birds are beginning to show their breeding colors. It’s odd.

They usually change more or less all at the same time, but this year, it’s rather patchy. Some are fully feathered in their finest mating displays. Others are partly changed. One has a bright yellow head, but a dull greenish body while another had brilliant yellow wings but was a dull green everywhere else.

Very yellow and ready to mate!

House Finch on the rail

House Finch

I have seen quite a few fledglings recently from their nests, so some of the Goldfinch are already breeding. The other day, I saw the first Brown-headed Cowbirds of the year. Most of the House Finches are deep red and obviously ready to mate.

There are buds on the trees and the pollen count is up.

We have the green shoots for the daffodils, tulip, and daylilies, but they are just shoots. Not ready for blooming. But it is very early in the gardening year for the northeast.

And finally, inside we are growing a beautiful array of orchids and hoping to stay healthy while trying hard to not worry. Worry is the ultimate waste of time. We always worry about the wrong things anyway. Whatever is coming, will come, with or without months of angst.


For reasons that are difficult to understand, Garry turned on Trump’s daily “briefing” on the Coronavirus. Now, we both know our so-called president does not have a good grip on English, but this evening was special. After a couple of sentences, I realized he wasn’t making any sense. If he were a doper, I’d have to assume he was stoned. But not being a doper, I guessed he was just a dope — in the original meaning of the word.

Mexican troops at U.S. border

What got my attention was his announcement that Mexico had put 27,000 soldiers along our border and as far as I could make out from this nonsensical ramble was that these soldiers were being led by Tom Brady (“A great guy”) and this was going to solve our problems with people getting sick. Some people (he said) are getting very sick or even sicker and not getting better. Sometimes dying.

It turns out we were not the only people confused by his message. I found this headline and article from the Daily News:

Donald Trump gets extremely confused about Tom Brady and coronavirus during press conference

Donald Trump went on a protracted tangent about a Tampa Bay Buccaneers player at a press conference in the midst of the government’s catastrophic failure to respond to the coronavirus.

“Somebody in the fake news said that one of the governors said, ‘Oh, we need Tom Brady.’ He meant that in a positive way. He said ‘We need Tom Brady, and we’re gonna do great,’ and he took it very positively. They took it differently. They think Tom Brady should be leading the effort.

“That’s only fake news, and I like Tom Brady. Spoke to him the other day. He’s a great guy. I wish the news could be real, I wish it could be honest, I wish it weren’t so corrupt. But so much of it is. It’s just so sad to see. We had a great meeting.”

JM Rieger


“I would say maybe one person there was a little, tiny bit of a raising of a voice, a little wiseguy a little bit, but he’s usually a big wiseguy. Not so much anymore. We saw to it that he wouldn’t be so much anymore.”

Embedded video

Trump, in the way only he can be, is insanely wrong about this on two fronts. He’s referring to a Washington Post story about a call between him and all 50 governorsAccording to the Post, Trump called the federal government a “backup” and Washington governor Jay Inslee responded, “We don’t need a backup. We need a Tom Brady.”

Apparently, Tom will lead this great army and then get back to working out in Tampa Bay because I don’t think he gave up football. Yet. Or maybe it is one of the other national leaders he named that will solve all of our problems. I’m not sure where the army came from.  Garry wanted to know if he’d missed a sentence because he wasn’t at all sure what was going on with the army and Tom Brady.

I tried to find a text of the “speech” but it isn’t up anywhere. Translations of his speech are available and they leave out all the interesting parts. I tried. I really did.

Meanwhile, get ready. A huge army of Mexicans led by Tom Brady is coming to your town to save you from the epidemic … or something like that.



Patrick Henry

As an old-school journalist — just the facts please — and a descendant of Revolutionary War-era orator extraordinaire Patrick Henry (I’m related to one of his brothers, not the man himself), I accepted an invitation by the founder of The Shinbone Star to craft articles expressing my views on the state of our nation with Impeached President Donald J. Trump occupying the Oval Office.

Unlike my long-ago ancestor, however, I promised myself not to fire off personal rhetorical attacks against Trump designed to encourage my fellow citizens to revolt against this corrupt administration.

Instead, my posts provided truth when Trump lied; facts when he foisted fiction surrounding his anti-American actions; and pleas for standing up against his warped sense of patriotism as he deconstructed our country, executive order by executive order.

There were no “give me liberty or give me death” ultimatums on any of my more than 130 items written for The Shinbone during the past three years.

Until today. Now it’s personal.

It’s time — no, past time — for a revolution in our country against Trump and his anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-human form of government. The emperor has been laid bare — he wears no clothes, he possesses no heart — by the deadly COVID-19 disease that has so far killed more than 700 Americans with thousands more in danger of dying before a light can be seen at the end of a tunnel.

Trump’s inaction earlier this year when the virus first appeared on the world stage and his determination to make little of the deadly impact about to wash over our country and wipe out millions of jobs was criminal and intended solely to promote his re-election campaign.

It’s time now for me to borrow from Patrick Henry’s famous speech:

I know not what course others may take but as for me give me freedom from Trump who wants to be king or give me death.

Turn off the White House press room cameras. Shut down his self-promotional, lie-infested media briefings used to paint a picture of our coronavirus infected country coming back to life by Easter Sunday. Ignore his false pronouncements about all the “great” work he has done.

None of it is true. He is criminally lying, building false hopes among his political base and many frightened Americans, with his nightly misinformation campaign.

Laugh out loud and often as he challenges medical and scientific authorities on just how long the coronavirus will be with us and how many Americans will die before this callous man, this sorry excuse for a president, will be tossed on the garbage heap of history as someone more worried about staying in office — and out of jail — than the deaths of our citizens.

Trump should also be remembered as the man who — with states struggling to do battle on the front lines against coronavirus — somewhat jokingly told governors of those states that they had better treat him well if they expected to get any federal help in their fight to save their citizens’ lives.

Even half-joking, I want freedom from this man who would say anything even close to that to public servants trying desperately to minimize the death count. Someone find a legal way to shut down this soul-less, this inhuman person passing himself off as the leader of the free world, the promoter of a republic, a democracy founded on the principle of government by and for the people of this once great nation.

During this perilous time, we need leadership that understands the enemy attacking us, how that evil invisible force is disrupting our way of life, killing loved ones indiscriminately, putting at risk the lives of heroic men and women — doctors, nurses, hospital staffs, first responders — charged with leading our counterattack against the virus.

Trump needs to go today. Not tomorrow. Not in November. Today.

The longer he remains in office, the longer Americans will die from coronavirus. The longer he remains in office, the longer the federal government focus will be on keeping numbers low, on bringing the stock market back to the record levels of just a few weeks ago, on getting Trump re-elected. It won’t be on doing everything possible to save lives, to support workers ravaged by the economic impact of the deadly virus.

I want freedom from Trump today. Is anyone with me? Is anyone out there listening?

Here’s how my ancestor, Patrick Henry, summed up his desire for liberty and freedom from the king of England nearly 250 years ago:

“Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace– but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?

“Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” — Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775