Monthly Archives: February 2012

Turtle Thoughts with a Slight Link to Menopause


The other night, I had a dream I was wading through dozens of  enormous turtles.  And so the next day I tried to figure out the dream’s message for this menopausal blogger.

Should I up my efforts to declutter the house so we can fit into a smaller shell in a few years?

Do I need to increase my walking pace?  Wear stronger sunscreen to prevent leathery skin?  Buy some funky placemats in an earth-toned geometric print?  Eat more greens?   Be more patient?  Be less patient?

Should I tuck in my head, think deeper, and write harder?

Or does dreaming of turtles suggest I am behaving much too turtle-like?  Do I need to stop writing with such intensity and abandon my semi-turtle shell life?   More party and less keyboard pounding?

Is the dream urging Cliff and me to put our shells in gear and get going on the world travel we long for.  (The dream was vaguely set on the Galapagos Islands.)

Was the dream’s purpose to teach me, once and for all, that I need to get over the frustration of not being able to solve the world’s mysteries?  I’ve always wondered how it feels to be a turtle, and I will NEVER have the privilege of knowing.  Chill, Barbara.  But I still wonder:  Do lady turtles go through menopause?  Bless their turtle hearts if they do.  Menopause and a shell can’t be a great combination.

OR (and I promise this is the final “or”) does my dream mean, plain, happy, and simple, that I’m lucky, very lucky, to live in a world graced by amazing and intriguing creatures?

And now a hypothetical question for you, my dear human readers:  What would you MOST like to ask  one of the world’s creatures?  Leave a comment by clicking on “Comments ” below.

Photo:  I found this lovely turtle, who is really a tortoise, on  I’m pretending she has in-shell access to the Internet  and is a fan of Friend for the Ride.  I’d love to have some readers in the Galapagos!

Change Your Life!  Learn once and for all, the difference between a turtle and a tortoise by watching this SHORT video.

Skincare: One Girl’s Trash Is Another Girl’s Treasure


For many women (most?), aging skin is a heartbreaker.  We make upbeat remarks about our laugh lines and the happy moments they represent, but all in all, seeing your skin crinkle and spot up can cause some real frowning.

But what’s almost as bad, or worse, is FEELING your skin change.  Menopause does nasty things to the skin’s moisture.  Dry skin, especially when I come out of a hot shower, can turn me into a grump faster than you can say, “Sahara Desert.”

What’s tricky is figuring out what works to fix the dryness.

I have a confession:  I’m a Noxzema addict.  My great-uncle founded Noxema Canada, and so you see, it’s in the blood.  My girls are mortified.  They have read the label on the blue plastic  jar and know the product is marketed as a face wash.  But it works for me, and has for my family for several generations.

Which brings me to this blog post’s title.  A balm for some skin types can feel like wind burn to others.  I’ve had bad luck with more elegant brands, so  I keep blobbing on the Noxzema.  What my daughters and most skin care experts trash, I treasure.  I thank my menopausal stars I have a husband who doesn’t complain about its unusual smell  (L’eau of Cedar Chips, perhaps?)

What about you?  Has your skin gotten dryer as you’ve aged?  What’s your favorite skincare product and/or routine?  Let’s start a list.  That product you treasure may be the perfect solution for another reader too.

Photo:  The old cobalt blue glass jars above would certainly be trash to some, but my mom saved them.  Now they grace a shelf in daughter Kath’s home.  My guess is the taller octagonal jars on either end are Noxzema jars.  Any blue glass experts out there?

Special Guest Post: Hot Flashes at Downton Abbey?


This is Lady Cora….with a twinkle in her eye.  Shall we all work on a menopause twinkle?

A special guest post from Judy Brown, hot off the presses while this PBS Masterpiece Theater Series is extra hot:

Every Sunday night at 9 PM sharp I escape to Downton Abbey.

I sit quietly in Lady Violet’s jeweled hat and chuckle at her bickering.

I crouch behind Lady Mary’s mirror on her dressing table wondering if I would like a hand maiden to fix my hair everyday.

I sneak into the car while Lady Sybil flirts with her chauffer, Branson, and hope that she can loosen up a tad.

Best of all, I get showered with flour as I dash from Mrs. Patmore’s wooden spoon.

Do the ladies of the house ever get hot flashes or are they too proper in their ways? Just imagine a hot flash, or feeling bloated, in a corset!

The Crawley family household is dominated by women. Surely they get moody, get cramps, or suddenly strip off their sequined lace shawl  because their internal heat is unbearable. I ponder whether they even had such a word back then…HOT FLASH! I know it would have been unthinkable to make such an exclamation at the dinner table.

Do I want to be Lady Judy? Does Martin want to be Earl of Hillsborough? I suspect Martin would love to have me call him Lord Brown.

I think I will stick with plain Judy. Even though I envy the socialites of Downton Abbey, I prefer my jeans, my short haircut, blogging about the Pause, and the casual life.

Anyone else obsessed with this British miniseries? If so, who is your favorite character? Mine is Lady Mary.  She is stoic but sensitive.  She has become hardened by life.  I am still hoping that she will succumb to Matthew!

Just FYI…..on February 19th there will be a Downton Abbey Marathon from 1-9 PM!!  And then the two hour finale!  Cheers!

Sisters Mary, Edith, and Sybil.  Do any of you have sisters?  I have three.  About as much drama as Downton Abbey! 🙂

Wouldn’t it be nice to have such a great confidante as Anna?  We could share and get counsel on everyday issues.

I would love to have afternoon tea with Lady Violet and glean from her menopausal wisdom.

Downton Abbey, the whole family, upstairs and downstairs.

This is a picture of Martin and me at the baths, in Bath, England several years ago.  We loved the countryside and even mastered the round-a-bouts after a few days.  The history, the food, the accent, the pomp, the circumstance, all made for a fun adventure. I look forward to my next trip to Great Britain.

Check out the PBS Downton Abbey website  here.

Valentine’s Day 1965 Redux


Happy Valentine’s Day!  Ya’ll are sweethearts  to read my blog.

Do you have one?  A Valentine’s Day gone wrong?  I did.  1965.  The Fifth Grade Valentine’s Day Square Dance.  Hampton Elementary School.  Towson, Maryland.

At the practice dance the day before, one of the cool, cute boys asked me to be his partner.  Yes!  I was set for the real shindig.  I was sure of it.   We would dance together again on February 14.

On Valentine’s morning, the boys began inviting girls to be their partners.  (No, we girls didn’t ask the boys in 1965.)  The oh so cute, cool boy asked another girl.  Devastation for this eleven-year-old.

Soon almost everyone was paired up. Poor Barbara.  No one to do-si-do with.

Finally, one of my friends did some negotiating, and Eddie Pissaro asked me to be his dance partner.  Not anywhere near my first choice.  I still remember how lumpy and sweaty his arm felt as we promenaded right and left.

Fast forward 45 years to my dad’s memorial service.

“Barbara, I’m Eddie Pissaro.”

The name shot through me like an arrow from a winged cherub.

“Eddie!  How wonderful to see you!  You knew my father?”

“I live in your old neighborhood now.   When your dad was out raking leaves, I’d stop and chat with him.”

We reminisced a bit about Hampton Elementary School and the kids we knew there.

And now, TA DA!   I would make his day.  (My girls had told me that despite my lack of eye makeup, I looked pretty good in my funeral dress.)

“I haven’t forgotten you were my partner for the Fifth Grade Square Dance.”

“I was?” said Eddie.  “I don’t remember.”

“You don’t?”

 Eddie shook his head.  “No.”

How could he forget?

That week, when I came home to Hillsborough, I did a bit of archival research in my closet.  Note the goofy-looking girl with the glasses in the bright pink velvet  jumper.  Does she look like a dream date?

“Your dad was a good guy,” Eddie said as he left the church that August day.

“Thanks, Eddie.”

I should have added, “You’re a good guy too, and on 2-14-65, you were a REALLY good guy.   What an honor to be your square dance partner.”

P.S.  I circled Eddie.  The boy who passed me over shall go uncircled.

Now tell us your worst Valentine story by clicking on “Comments” below.  Have the years mellowed or enlightened that story at all?