Aging and Alcohol: Only a Drop to Drink

This is a whiny post.  A pun is somewhat intended since wine is part of the whining.

I can’t drink like I used to.

Not that I was ever a lush, but I enjoy having more than one drink sometimes, especially at festive occasions such as weddings (and especially when the drinks are free).

But in recent years, more than one drink has kept me up at night (or rather woken me up in the middle of the night).  I’m not a great sleeper anyway, so it took me a while to figure out that extra crummy sleep will follow a bit of  imbibing.

I know in the scope of things, not being able to have two glasses of wine or two big old beers is no big deal, but it still makes me a little sad.

Ah youth.

The picture is my daughter Katherine glowing on a recent trip with her cute husband to Jamaica.  I don’ t know exactly what she is drinking, but it sure looks good.

And it sure would be fun to drink one.

But sadly, only one.

What about you?  Can you drink all you want or are you a member of the Only One Now That I’m Well Past Twenty-one Club?

Photo:  The photo was taken by the cute husband, to remember the trip and for Kath’s blog, Kath Eats Real Food.  (The drink is actually virgin.  Kath was a few weeks pregnant here!)

Menopause, Menopause Symptoms

When the River Runs Dry: A Giveaway and Free Samples!

When the river stops, the river bed may run dry.  That bed can get plenty rocky.

Alas, and so it can be with The Great Pause.  Menopause dryness can cause a woman real discomfort, both in the bedroom and in just plain walking around and living.

Here’s an article on vaginal dryness on the  super useful website, 34 Menopause Symptoms.   And do check with your doctor.  Mine rescued me with a prescription for estrogen cream.  Estrogen in any form concerns me some, but even used sparingly, it really helped.

There are plenty of good non-prescriptions products out there to try too.  This brings me to our giveaway and free sample offer.  The folks who make Valera, an organic personal vaginal lubricant, are offering a free tube to a winner and a free sample to everyone who wants one.

To enter the contest for the free tube,  post a comment saying you’d like to win or bop me an email at  Contest will close on Feb.2.  The winner will be chosen at random.  Don’t be shy!

For a free sample of Valera, email:  Check out their Facebook Page at

Note:  If you enter the contest, be sure to still email MyValera for your free sample (in case you don’t win).

Three cheers for the river bed and a little help from some artificial but effective rain!

Photo:  I found this photo on the  Understanding Government website  along with an article about the concerns of real rivers drying up in the West.

Aging, Fashion

Will She Wear Purple?

Most of you know the poem that begins, “When I am old, I shall wear purple.”  The poem’s title is “Warning,” and it was written in 1961 by British poet Jenny Joseph.

In 1961, wearing purple was a much bigger deal.  I had a great-aunt, who made pronouncements.  Her name was Ann, but since “Aunt Ann” was hard to say, we called her “Auntie.”

One of Auntie’s pronoucements was:  WE DON’T WEAR PURPLE.

Another one was :  WE DON’T WEAR PRINTS.

I loved Auntie dearly and named my first daughter Katherine Anne after her, but you can see me above, wearing purple and a print.  I think getting older is all about breaking rules, even a beloved great-aunt’s, and it’s all about knowing which rules are okay to break.

Anyone want to offer up some recently broken rules?

Now about the title of Jenny Joseph’s Poem:  “Warning.”   Is ours the only family where the expression “warning” is sometimes used in reference to the future?

I’m just warning you that when I’m sixty-five, I’m not going to…

I’m just warning you that as soon as I retire, I’m thinking of…

I’m just warning you that if I’m a grandmother, I plan to…

I’m just warning you that someday, I might decide to…

I’m just warning you that when I have my own kids, I won’t ever…

I don’t think it’s bad to warn someone of an action or attitude to come, but what I think the person is really doing is stating  a yearning for a change he or she would like to make right now.   Speak up oh family, and I will speak up too.  Let’s be purple-wearing brave!

Jenny Joseph ends her poem:

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

What about you?  What warnings could you put into practice right now?

Jenny Joseph’s photo is from  an article in the Stroud News and Journal.

Here’s the rest of the poem, with a link to a bio of Jenny. You can hear her reading Warning” in this video.

The photo of me was taken at Thanksgiving on Kath’s porch in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Join the discussion!  Leave a comment.  To do so, click on “Comments” below.  Thanks!

Hot Flashes, Menopause

Guest Post: Hot Flash! Men Get It

A guest post from writer Meg Tipper:

I knew what a hot flash looked like from the time I was a teenager.  My Mom would flush red, fan herself, strip off clothing, throw windows open, and say, “Not again!” on a regular basis.

So, when at fifty, I started to get those sudden rushes of heat that plunged me into a sweat, I just rolled my eyes and prepared myself to weather yet another genetic gift from my mother.

What I was not prepared for was the awkwardness of managing menopause while teaching and directing the Writing Center at a boys’ school.  My high school age boys were, for the most part, fully developed physically, but they were still hovering at cave man in their maturity levels.  They also had a keen ability to exploit any weakness, particularly in the female faculty.  I tried my best to retain a cool and unruffled façade while teaching through a hot flash, but one day I discovered that I had not been very successful.

It was the start of the school year and time to remind the full high school student body and faculty, gathered for assembly, about the benefits of having a Writing Center at our school.  For several years, we had organized this informational assembly through a series of humorous skits put on by the Improvisation Club.  I was in the audience, enjoying the entertainment and patting myself on the back for how successfully this tactic communicated our Writing Center’s purpose without being boring.

The next skit began with one of my favorite students, Simon Landau, swishing onto the stage in black pants and shirt, neck open, with a scarf draped around his neck, my signature uniform.  I laughed; Simon was playing me!  He raised his voice an octave and politely invited the “client” to have a seat in his imaginary Writing Center on stage, offering him something to drink, asking good “getting to know you” questions.  Ah, I thought, Simon’s being too good; something’s coming.

They settled down together at the table and the client began to ask questions about his paper, but Simon was clearly distracted, looking around and loosening the scarf from his neck.  He stood up, looked at the client and asked, “Don’t you think it’s hot in here?”  The baffled client said no, but Simon proceeded to mime opening the window, sticking his head out and fanning himself.

Meanwhile, I sank into my seat, and the audience of over four hundred boys and men were first chuckling, then laughing, and all craning their heads to look at me.  What could I do but laugh with them?  Simon was funny, really funny, and he had nailed me to a T.

Most boys and men don’t talk much about personal things, especially not in a school or work setting and especially not with a woman, but in this moment I realized something special.  No one was laughing at me.  They were laughing at Simon and at me laughing at Simon, and it was all good.  There was a little bond that was formed at that assembly out of them being men and my being in menopause!

Meg Tipper is retired after over thirty years as a teacher at almost all levels of education.  Her last teaching job was as an English teacher and Writing Center Director at Gilman School in Baltimore.  She has published articles, stories, poems, and personal essays and is currently a regular contributor and columnist for  Meg lives in Catonsville with her partner, Jim Himel.  They travel frequently and work on their old home and garden; they also run a tree farm.

Meg’s first book, Standing at the Edge: A Year of Days After Sudden Death  (Apprentice House, 2010) chronicles her journey after the sudden death of her 22 year old daughter, Maggie.  Her son, Stephen Feiss, teaches math and coaches soccer at Winooski High School in Winooski, Vermont.

Standing at the Edge:   Proceeds from the sale of Standing at the Edge go to the Maggie Feiss Fund of the Baltimore Community Foundation (BCF).  For more information, go to the Standing at the Edge website.  The book can be purchased at

To leave a comment, please click on “Comment” below.  Thanks!

Menopause, Menopause Symptoms

Not Your Cookie Cutter Menopause

The older I get, the more I appreciate that we’re not all cut from the same cookie cutter.  People are fascinating.   If we were all the same, how boring might that be?


When it comes to The Great Pause, I think one cookie cutter would have been a good thing.

Menopausal symptoms and troubles vary widely from woman to woman.  While you’re suffering from periods that linger for days, you’ve got a friend with hormonal depression and another who hasn’t slept past five AM for three months.

So there’s plenty to discuss, but sometimes we’re such different cookies, that’s it’s hard to get the support we need for our specific woe.

That brings me to this request:  I’m looking for guest posts, especially on aspects of menopause or midlife that I’ve yet to cover or that I haven’t experienced.  If you would like to write one, shoot me an email.

I didn’t have many hot flashes, but we have a cool (pun slightly intended) hot flash post soon off the presses from Meg Tipper.  Edna Brown has written a post on early menopause titled “The Early Bird,” and Dawn Reno is going to entertain us with “Men-o-pause Dating.”

We’ve all got Soul Mates in Menopause somewhere in the universe.  I’d love for this blog to help you find them.

Photos:  Do you have a favorite cookie cutter from your childhood?  My mom had one that was rolled across the dough, cutting fancy circles as it went.  I’m not sure what happened to it.  These are others from her collection.

More Cookie Cutter Info:  Be an expert before the day ends!  Read this article on antique cookie cutters and the history of the cookie cutter.  These are the sort of tidbits you can throw out to wow folks at your next job interview or cocktail party.  Don’t miss the video, either!  Aunt Chick is watching you from heaven and will heap blessings on your next batch of cookies if you pay her just a bit of homage.

Hot Flashes, Menopause

A Menopause Tip Across the Centuries. Well Maybe. Read On…

I love blogging and thinking about blog posts.  I’m sure I bring up Friend for the Ride much too much, although husband Cliff has been quite tolerant (especially since  Gail Crane told him in a comment that he had good hair.)

So  in December, when we went to the Rembrandt in America exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Art, I had the blog on my mind as I looked into the faces of each portrait.  When I stopped in front of Maria Bockenolle (above) something about her face compelled me to do more than think.  I tried to communicate with her.  For real.

Maria, please send some insights on what menopause was like in 1634.

Give me something I can tell my readers–advice, tips, remedies that have been lost across the ages.

Something that will encourage all of us twenty-first century types as we straggle into this new arena.

Maria looked right back at me.  I promise you she did.  Her mouth was turned in a willing expression.  Her eyes said, “Certainly, my dear.”   The hand on her abdomen meant she might be pondering her own feminine anatomy.

So I waited.

And I waited some more.

Maybe Maria figures she’s finished with The Change of Life, and she’s tired of the topic.

Maybe that white ruff around her neck gave her such HORRIBLE hot flashes, that the subject makes her fume.

Maybe Mr. Rembrandt interfered, thinking I had invaded Maria’s personal space.

Maria did not speak out loud in the quiet of the art gallery, and she didn’t speak to me telepathically.


I might have been able to rock the art world AND the blog world, and I’ve only been blogging for three months!

Rats again!

But I guarantee that while I stood in front of Maria Bockenolle, I felt the pull of The Great Womanhood.

Women throughout the ages have experienced menopause.

A simple thought, I know.

But that simple thought encourages me.

What about you?

Photos:  I found the portraits on Great Masters Gallery.

Video Tour:  See glimpses of the exhibit and hear inside info on the collecting of Rembrandts in America.

Maria’s Husband:  FYI, below is, the  Reverend Johannes Elison. I didn’t ask him any questions as his expression is  less inviting than his wife’s.  I must say that Cliff does seem to have better, or at least more, hair.  For now at least, that is.

Reverend Johannes Elison - van Rijn Rembrandt - Painting Reproduction

Aging, Life, Menopause

Practically Perfect: Mary Poppins, Not Me

It was  a big deal to this fifth grade girl when the movie Mary Poppins came out.  My dad drove us into Baltimore City to the Hippodrome Theater where we waited in line to get our seats.  What a night!  I was mesmerized and so was Dad, who especially liked the chimney sweeps leaping over the rooftops of London.

When she took out her magical measuring tape, I learned that Mary Poppins is practically perfect in every way.  Shouldn’t I try to be  perfect too?  (After all, who wouldn’t want to be just like Julie Andrews?)

I can make a list of imperfections longer than the string on Jane and Michael’s kite:  hair, brains, house, figure, makeup, manners, cooking, nails, teeth, career, relationships, parenting, garden, directional skills, linen closets, handwriting, and on and on and on.

Why do I set the bar so high that even chimney sweep Bert would have trouble jumping over it?

Blame it on Mary P.  Blame it on the media.  Blame it on parental expectations.  Blame it on comments from spouse and kids.  Blame it on hormones.  Blame it on the moon.  Happily,I’m slowly learning that I can be content without being practically perfect (not that I ever had much chance anyway).

There comes an acceptance, I think, with menopause and mid-life.  A  realization that life  really is short.  Why waste it picking at your own self, of all people.

Toward the end of the movie, Mr. Banks figures it out in A Man Has Dreams.”   We have plans that get dashed.  We don’t measure up.  We’re not the woman or man we thought we could be.

Mr. Banks’s voice moves to a new tenor as he sings, ” A spoonful of sugar, that is all it takes/It changes bread and water into tea and cakes.”

I think I’ll take a dose right now.  I’ll serve it up on the Mary Poppins spoon I ordered from the back of a cereal box in 1965.  Then it’s on to a tea party on the ceiling.  Later, I can scout out a chalk drawing to pop into (as long as nobody makes me dance.  Majorly Imperfect Me cannot dance).

Thanks, Mary.  You floated in on the wind and taught Mr. Banks and me some stuff.  And if someone gets to measure up to be practically perfect, I’m glad it’s you.

The Kite:  I promise you the kite flying finale will put you in a splendid mood.

Picture above of the super cool nanny is from Wikipedia.

Below is the practically perfect scene!  I found it here.