Who Wants to Be Airbrushed?

Cliff and I took a cruise on the Adriatic Sea last November. Spending a week on the ship felt like we were living in a floating, glitzy village with festivities on every corner.

We loved our stateroom…

the water and the rainbows…

the walking deck…

the splashy drinks…


the spirited shows…

and the shore excursions. (I was nuts over this church in Santorini, Greece.)

The ship’s photographers pop up everywhere, especially in the evening when folks are on their way to dinner. The photographers are  VERY upbeat, and they make you feel like a model or a movie star.

The photos are posted the next day. When I saw ours, I was shocked. “They’re good!” I announced.

In a flash, Cliff went over to the counter and pulled out his credit card, something he never rushes to do. “We’ll take them,” he said to the young woman. “My wife has never liked a photo of herself before.”

On the way back to our cabin, I was pumped. “Gosh,” I said. “I do think we look pretty good in those pictures.”

“Well sure,” Cliff said. “Our wrinkles are gone.”

My heart sunk right there on that shiny stairway. We’d been airbrushed. Majorly.

So here’s the question:

Did we waste our money on photos that are fake? Or are these sweet treasures from our trip?

I did have the thought (which Cliff found morose) that the girls could display the photos at our funerals. No one would know how old we were when they were actually taken, and after all, that would give the photos more bang for their buck.

A few weeks later, I took them out of their envelope. I held one up for Cliff. “Do you want to be airbrushed?”

“On special occasions.”

Good answer. And this certainly was a special occasion. We had a blast.

Here is the real Cliff choosing red wine for his dinner on the cruise.

And here’s a not-so-great selfie of me. Note the deep wrinkles above the nose.

What about you?

Do you want to be airbrushed? Do you find the technique offensive or ageist? Does its contribute to the idea that old is ugly?

Or do you welcome some airbrushing from time to time? Do tell!


Attain: A New Product for Incontinence


A post from the makers of Attain: 

Incontinence is one of those subjects that not a lot of people talk about, but a whole lot of women experience. As a matter of fact, approximately 60 million women in the U.S. suffer with stress, urge, mixed urinary incontinence and/or bowel incontinence, and suffer in silence and embarrassment. Accidental leaking can begin after childbirth, when laughing, coughing, sneezing or running, and worsen with the natural aging process. Simply stated, the problem is pelvic floor weakness.

Many doctors tell us to do Kegels exercises to strengthen weak pelvic floor muscles, but studies show that few women do them correctly or consistently. And, there are no end to TV ads touting diapers and pads and over-the-counter vaginal cones and balls that claim to cure incontinence, but there are no scientific studies to show that these products work despite enthusiastic testimonials on the product websites.

Attain is the only FDA cleared over-the-counter medical device to treat both leaky bladders and bowels. Attain utilizes muscle stimulation, a guided exercise program, and visual biofeedback, so you know if you are doing the exercises correctly. It’s like having a personal pelvic floor physical therapist right in the privacy of your own home.

Attain is a small, painless, easy-to- use medical device that elicits a deep muscle contraction at specific frequencies and reacts to your bodies natural bio feedback to give you a customized work out as a first-line treatment, before considering surgery or medication.

Muscle stimulation increases pelvic floor muscle strength, calms the detrusor muscle, and elicits a full, deep muscle contraction, providing neuromuscular re-training. The lighted biofeedback graph and visual cues guide you through a series of variable timed, volitional contractions along with a relaxation phase, much like a physical therapy session.

A customizable probe inflates to be “comfortably snug,” placing the stimulation in full contact with the vaginal or rectal wall, ensuring a deep muscle contraction with a comfortable, effective stimulation delivery. A probe provides active resistance for a full muscle contraction, repositioning musculature into a resting position between contractions.

So, stop laughing with your legs crossed or wearing diapers or pads or even black leggings to hide your damp underwear. Together let’s put an end to the normalization of incontinence so, you can resume normal activities like walking, running, and belly laughing again.



Happy 2020 from a New Friend and Me!

I was born on the 20th of March and married on the 20th of August, so I’m excited about a year with double twenties. What about you? Any resolutions?

If you still have cookie tins sitting about, I hope you have some treats left to enjoy during the calm of January. And speaking of tins, guess what an artist can do with them!

Cliff found this wonderful boar at the Eno River Farmers Market here in Hillsborough.This spirited boar is the creation of the talented Charlotte Mansur. You can see more of Charlotte’s work on her website here. Don’t miss the video.

I’ve decided our new boar friend is a woman, so I’m calling her Ms. Boar for now. Any thoughts on a suitable first name? I love her plaid winter coat. She’s ready for some brisk January weather.

From her honored place on our wall, Ms. Boar joins me in wishing you the happiest New Year ever!

And with Charlotte Mansur’s permission, I’m posting her festive turtle below, who looks ready to welcome 2020 with a splash.

Here’s to turtles in party hats and boars in plaid jackets and whimsical artists and  holiday tins and to all of you! Happy 2020! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading Friend for the Ride.


Happy Holidays from Me to You!

My pilgrimage to the Holy Land made the Christmas story even more dear to me.

Camels are a happy part of so many nativity sets. Here’s my camel friend. We only had a minute together, but I cherished every second.

I spent a few moments with this lovely donkey too, another Christmas figure. We were in the Judean desert, where I was blown away by the view.

Countries from all over the world created mosaics of the Virgin to decorate  the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth. The one below was done in Egypt and is one of my favorites. Scroll through all of them here, noting how each country is represented in the character of the mosaic.

And I was stopped in my tracks by this painting of Mary and her baby poised on top of the moon. I  found this fresco at the Church of the Visitation in Ein Karem. This town, with its famous spring, is where Mary and her cousin Elizabeth rejoiced that they both had babies on the way.

I bet Mary and Joseph might have found a room at this inn, which looks to be a lot bigger than a stable. I snapped the photo just as we were leaving  Bethlehem.

Here I am with my fellow pilgrims singing Christmas carols earlier in the day. Indeed, it felt a lot like Christmas!

I won’t be wearing a t-shirt this Christmas in Hillsborough. Although the weather won’t be bitter, a quilted jacket is in the cards. My four grandchildren are coming my way! I pray to match their spunk, in spirit if not in body.

No matter your faith tradition, this post comes with the very best wishes for a happy holiday season.

Thanks for reading Friend for the Ride!

The candles lit St. Jacob’s Orthodox Cathedral in Jerusalem.


Ending Back Pain: A Book Giveaway

As a younger woman, I suffered from bouts of lower back pain. My back is better, thanks to the easy back exercises I do. For others, the solution to back pain is not so simple. 

Ending Back Pain: 5 Powerful Steps to Diagnose, Understand, and Treat Your Ailing Back (Penguin Random House) is fresh off the press. This readable and encouraging book by Dr. Jack Stern, a board-certified neurosurgeon and professor at Weill Cornell Medical College, explains most everything there is to know about back troubles and how to cure them.

Here’s what the publisher writes about Ending Back Pain:

Virtually every American will suffer from back pain at some point. Back pain is the second most common neurological ailment in the United States—only headaches are more common. And, after colds and influenza, it’s the second most common reason Americans see their doctors.

Dr. Stern brings relief to these millions of sufferers (including himself) who literally ache for help. Based on scientific data, Dr. Stern developed a five-step solution with a multidisciplinary, holistic perspective that’s been missing from conventional back pain wisdom. And it may not require surgery or another form of another invasive therapy.

In the book, he explains the six major anatomical sites that often generate pain, while also identifying other potential sources that people (and doctors) can easily overlook, such as commonly used drugs, undiagnosed illnesses or disease, and even depression.

With diagnostic self-tests, checklists to take to your next doctor’s appointment, advice on treatment options, preventative strategies and much more, Ending Back Pain will help you pinpoint the specific causes of your own back pain issues so you can get on the road to healing.

According to Dr. Stern, “Ending back pain begins with you. Diagnosing back pain is a tricky combination of art and science. Indeed, lots of high-tech tools are available to us in medicine, but that doesn’t mean that diagnosing, let alone curing, back pain is a black-and-white endeavor. Unfortunately, it’s very much to the contrary—complex, imprecise, and immensely vexing. So, the more you can contribute to the story of your back pain, the more you can shift your experience to one that’s less reliant on art and more based on science.”

Giveaway: The publisher is giving a copy of Ending Back Pain to one lucky Friend for the Ride reader. For a chance to win, please enter a comment by January 1. U.S. only. Thanks!


About the Author:  Jack Stern, M.D., Ph.D., is a board-certified neurosurgeon specializing in spinal surgery, and co-founder of Spine Options, one of America’s first facilities committed to nonsurgical care of back and neck pain. Dr. Stern is on the clinical faculty at Weill Cornell Medical College and has published numerous peer- and non peer– reviewed medical articles. He lives and practices in White Plains, New York.


Me and the Western Wall

Card in Wall

This fall, Cliff and I went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The trip was organized by my good friend, Judy Bown, and run by St. George’s College in Jerusalem. We saw so many sacred and historical sights, it’s hard to choose a favorite. But at the top of my list is our visit to the Western Wall, known years ago as the Wailing Wall. 


The concept of this place has always intrigued me– an ancient wall where people go to pray. Even more, I love the idea of tucking a prayer into the wall.

I meant to write a prayer on a slip of paper ahead of time, but I forgot.

As I waited my turn to approach the wall, I dug around in my backpack. The only paper I could find was one of my art business cards. Should I?

I pressed the card into the wall, sending up a prayer that I use my art for good. Then I touched the wall and kissed it as is the tradition.

My card was colorful and stood out among the slips of white paper. I wondered if I was being flippant or disrespectful. I hoped not. I was honored to have my prayer among the thousands left there.

I never expected to paint, much less sell a painting. I never dreamed of being represented in a gallery (Thank you, (Margaret Lane Gallery) or participating in an art show. (Thank you, Ann Hobgood and Debi Drew).

Each sale is so dear to me. The story behind why a buyer wants a certain painting is intriguing and uplifting.  I love when they send me a photo of my art displayed on their wall. Better yet is a photo of a child holding one of my paintings.

Kitty and Child

How am I using my art for good?

I’ve donated paintings to a local school and several charity auctions. When you take a look at my website, you’ll see a series of paintings I did for our historical museum. All of the money from the sales go directly to the museum. And people tell me my paintings make them smile. I paint happy.


Snuggle Bunny Escapes from the Nursery (20 by 16)  From the Toys Escaping Series done for the Orange Country Historical Museum

I hope to continue to use my art for good. That card tucked into the Western Wall is my best reminder.

Cat is Ready--16 by 20

Cat, Ready for the Valentine’s Tea (16 by 20)


Seagull Sings Goodnight to the Lighthouse (12 by 12)


A Thousand Flowers Greet the Sun (12 by 9)

Cow- 7 by 12

Cow, Wishing the Grass Tasted Like Buttercream (7 by 12 on an up-cycled metal plaque) 

Rabbit Arrives at the Estate- 16 by 20

Rabbit Arrives at the Estate (16 by 20)


Check our my art page at I’m now shipping paintings. I also take commissions.


Butterfly, Pleased with Her Green World. ( 20 by 16)

Ladies Room Doors, Menopause

The Ladies Room Door Art Series: Portugal Edition

Lisbon Airport

Susan Bellinger is Friend for the Ride’s first reader and an excellent spotter of bathroom doors. Here’s her report from a recent trip:

In my travels, I always keep an eye out for interesting bathroom doors to send to my friend, Barbara, for her blog. I hit the jackpot in  Portugal. What is it about Portugal, where it seems every door was unique, inventive, eye-opening, and/or fun?

A British newspaper called Lisbon “the most exciting creative scene in mainland Europe.” Could be!  But not just Lisbon. We found creative door in the Algarve and in Porto, too. Here they are!

The photo at top was taken at the Lisbon Airport. The door below is from the Dear Breakfast Cafe in Lisbon.


The Bachannol Restaurant

The National Tile Museum

The Flora and Fauna Restaurant

The Time Out Market

Grupeto Cafe, a bike cafe in Lisbon


A Tasca do Joao, a tapas place in Faro

Dessert Island off  the coast of Faro

Chelsea Cafe in Faro

The green arch is the entrance to the men’s and women’s rooms at Tivera Castle in Tivera.

La Pizza in Faro




A sign for street sanitarias


The Porto Center of Photography


The McDonalds in Porto




The Majestic Cafe in Porto



A restaurant in Faro, Portugal. (The restaurant’s name is now forgotten.)


And here is Susan posing in the Cafe Majestic. It’s an Art Nouveau cafe where J. K. Rowling wrote part of Harry Potter. Thank you so much for the wonderful doors, Susan, and I’m glad you had such a creative and happy trip.