The Sound of Music Bus!



Cliff and I just returned from two weeks in Austria and the Czech Republic. Gosh, did I get some great bathroom doors. But first, the Sound of Music Bus!

“Are you sure you’re willing to go on the tour?” I asked when we got to Salzburg. “It’s a big old bus.”

Cliff is not wild about riding around on tour buses.

“Yes,” he said, “The movie is part of my childhood too.”

We ordered our tickets online, and then climbed on the bus at the appointed time.


Our guide, Klaus, wearing lederhosen, took a tongue in cheek tone, but he filled our ears with tidbits about the making of the film, the actors, and the actual von Trapp family.

First stop, the house where they filmed Maria and the children falling out of the boat wearing their play clothes made from curtains. Klaus told us that the little girl playing Gretl almost drowned during one of the takes.


Hollywood erected the gazebo next to the house, but the owners of the estate were overrun with sightseers once the movie was released. It now rests at another nearby estate. The gazebo was my favorite part of the tour.It’s beautiful. I would have loved to go inside, but the doors are locked. Klaus told us a woman broke her ankle leaping from bench to bench a while ago, and it’s been closed tight every since.


I kept wondering when the singing would start. I’d read this is the highlight of the bus ride. About halfway through the tour, Klaus said, “Time for the music!” Here he is leading us. I didn’t think our group did a very robust job with the songs, but Cliff said he definitely heard a lot of voices joining in.


I took this video as we moved past the gorgeous Austrian countryside:


Our final stop took us 45 minutes from Salzburg, to the site of Maria’s wedding. As a little girl, this was one of my favorite scenes.

When I stepped into the church, it didn’t remind me of the one Maria is married in at all. The aisle seemed short, and overall, the church seemed too small. I was so disappointed!


But then I remembered this altar the camera pans toward the end of the scene. I checked the details against a YouTube video that night in our hotel. This is it!


The church is located in the lovely town of Mondsee. We were given time to explore the town. We checked out the shops, and I bought Edelweiss soap for my friends.

For some reason Cliff, who never messes this stuff up, thought we had another half hour. We were in the midst of figuring out which cafe to visit for strudel when I asked him what time it was. “We have forty minutes left,” he said.

“Oh no we don’t,” I answered.

Yikes! We had five minutes to tear down a long path to the bus’s parking lot.

Just like Maria rushing back to the abbey, we made it with seconds to spare.

Throughout the tour, my mind kept going back to my girlhood. I remember my best friend Mari Spraigins telling me before I saw the movie that unlike Mary Poppins, Julie Andrews sported short blonde hair in The Sound of Music. (Mari saw the film first.) Soon my dad took our family. After that night, I remember wanting to BE Julie Andrews. Or one of the children. I’d even be willing to fall out of the boat.

But even though I’ve seen the gazebo where Liesl danced, I still wouldn’t want to kiss that creepy Rolf.


The Magic of Menopause: A Holistic Guide to Get Your Happy Back (and a Giveway!)




Hot off the presses! Lorraine Miano just published The Magic of Menopause: A Holistic Guide to Getting Your Happy Back. Here’s more info on this insightful, practical, uplifting guide:

Upon discovering she was about to be a grandmother,  just as menopause and a hysterectomy  were at her doorstep, Lorraine Miano decided she needed to turn her healthy lifestyle habits up a notch. She was not going to be a has-been—she was determined to be a will-be!

In her book, The Magic of Menopause, Lorraine walks you through what it takes to make lifestyle changes that will set you up to live the rest of your life healthy and happy—at any age!  It goes far beyond weight loss and encompasses all of the magical side effects of a healthy life, like fewer wrinkles, glowing skin, fewer aches and pains, and more energy!  Rather than let the social stigma of being a menopausal woman define your experience, Lorraine will show you how to embrace it!

This book will help guide you through the struggles women face when they begin menopause, and helps you tackle daily changes, such as: Balancing your hormones holistically, getting a better night’s sleep, reducing and/or eliminating hot flashes, improving your libido, saying good-bye to anxiety and depression and having the party of your life!

Are you going through the change? Damn right you are changing! The Magic of Menopause will help you become the woman you’ve always wanted to be!

Giveaway: Friend for the Ride is offering a copy of The Magic of Menopause to one lucky reader. For a chance to win, enter a comment by October 31.

Find the link to The Magic of Menopause on Amazon here.

About Lorraine: Lorraine Miano is an Integrative Certified Health Coach who is especially passionate about working with women in all phases of menopause who have weight, metabolism, and aging concerns so they can have more energy, less stress, and feel comfortable in their own skin.  As a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, she offers individual health and nutrition coaching, as well as group coaching sessions. Here’s her website. When Lorraine is not teaching, she loves spending time with her husband of 36 years, Richard, her 3 adult children, and her precious grandchildren! (See those grandchildren below.)


The Not Worrying Flowers



 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest?  Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.

The beloved passage from Luke. Those words that encourage us NOT to worry.

My friend Jane, like me, does children’s sermons at church. The key to a good children’s sermon is to say something important the kids can understand on their kid level and the grownups can ponder on a grown up level.

Jane pointed to the flowers on the table behind her. “Look at them? Do they look worried?”

First I smiled. Nope. Those flowers look as happy as can be.

My next thought: But those flowers SHOULD be worried! They’re going to be dead in a few days.

(For someone who aspires to the upbeat, those dark thoughts can splash in.)

And then I got it.The flowers are going to die, and they still AREN’T worrying.

I spent my later fifties oh so shocked and sad that my years were thinning. I get the impression I worried about dying more than others do.

But in 2015, my mother’s death and the enormous resolve and courage she showed, helped me worry less about my own demise. Mom took on everything as an adventure, even dying. Her attitude amazed us all.

Those bold, beautiful church flowers (pictures above and below) surely drooped and died a few days later. Weren’t they smart not to worry? They didn’t waste their earthly hours feeling sad.


What about you?

Do you think about dying a lot now that you are older? Are you scared? Resolved? Hopeful?

Do tell!

Rose Petals and Porch Cats



Whenever I have flowers to compost, I first put the blossoms, especially rose petals, on the graves of our cats.  Rocky, Tracy, Eddie, Lilly, and Gretchen are all buried behind the front hedge. Some of those dear kitties died at the prime of life; others lived to a fine old age.

I speak to each of them as I toss. It’s a sweet ritual I’ll miss.

We’re moving, and the cat graves won’t be coming with us. And we won’t mention the graves to any perspective buyers, either. Add phantom cats to the other woes of our 180-year-old-house, and we just might scare off a buyer for good.

But if the new people end up being good people, Rabbit Hill people, I might ask if I can sprinkle a few more petals from time to time.

Cliff and I are going catless for now. It’s too sad to leave them when we travel, and if truth be told, I’m kitty littered out. But we’re taking the cat toys with us just in case a whiskered orphan trots onto our new porch and decides to stay.



What about your? I hear others talk about going petless after the last one dies. Opinions? Thoughts?

The kitty in the porch picture is Eddie. He came one day and stayed for eleven years.