Celebrating Two Years (and a Canvas Print Giveaway)


Friend for the Ride just celebrated her two year anniversary!

(Yes, she’s a girl.)

Happy Anniversary, Friend for the Ride!


WordPress lets me know the search words people use to land on the blog.

In honor of the anniversary, I thought I’d share a few favorites:

cookies that help menopausal symptoms

I wish, I wish, I wish a brilliant baker would come up with these!

one leg hair stopped growing

Does this mean one specific hair?  Talk about knowing your body intimately…

my menstrual period started on the full super moon june 2013

This searcher landed on Patti’s Winker’s super cool post. For those of us finished with periods, we’ve lost our chance to have a super moon period. Super sad!  (sort of.)

do yams help with menopause

Dr. Oz suggest yams just might help, but I’m sticking with the person (above) who is looking for a menopausal cookie cure.

are dill pickles good for menopausal women

Let’s hope not or my husband, who loves pickles, will fill my plate with them morning, noon, and night. While very fond of Cliff, I’m not overly fond of pickles.  Bring on the cookies!

do all women get meaner as they get older

Hmmm. I’d love to know the sex of the person who entered that search.

what is wrong with my husband he gets meaner as he ages

We know the sex of the person who entered that one!

pellets in hip for menopause 2013

Ouch!  What a way to start the New Year.

menopause stomach photos

To make it  big as a blogger, you have to put yourself out there.  But I haven’t been brave enough, yet, to put my menopausal stomach out there for the Internet to see.

poems about menopause symptoms

Two and a half years ago, I wouldn’t have guessed I’be writing poems about menopause. And what fun (and an honor) to feature the poetry of Moira Egan and Jane Yolen, with poems by Barbara Crooker coming up soon.


Don’t ask me how this line landed someone on Friend for the Ride. The nerve!

Snarky and bitchy?  Not us. Thank you all for being such wonderful, kind readers!

My Friend for the Ride t-shirt, was a gift from Allied Shirts. I sent them my URL and a photo from one of my first posts, and voila!


Learn more about making  a custom t-shirt here on their website:

Giveaway: Their sister company, Easy Canvas Prints, is offering  Friend for the Ride a free 11 by 14 inch canvas print.

I adore mine, featured on this post about my beloved doll, Baby Sue.  For a chance to win your own, please enter a comment by October 20 saying you’d like to be the winner. These make great gifts for the person who has everything.

Lean more about canvas prints on their website:

Baby Sue and Barbara


Menopausal You and Me: Mellow or Bold?

Menopause makes us bold, like these garden flowers, who went summer nuts outside my kitchen window.

We speak up.

We voice our opinions.

We make brave choices.


Menopause makes us mellow too.

We know when to remain silent.

We know how to pick our battles.

We often give up the stressful and the time-consuming.

The trick, the real trick, is figuring out when to choose bold and when to choose mellow.

I don’t always know which way to sway.

This summer, when the orange flowers took over, I debated.

Should I trim them back or let them go nuts?

I let them go nuts.

Jefferson's Marigolds

Does that mean I’m bold? To appreciate such brightness. To let my garden run unruly.

Or am I mellow? To not worry that the flowers towered by leaps and bound over everything else in the garden.

No matter.

The flowers are happy, bright orange happy.

And we had a festive summer together.

What about you?

Is the menopausal you

More mellow?

More bold?

Or a happy combination?

Flower with Bee

Danko Giveaway:  Congrats to lucky  Ginger Kay, who won the Dansko Giveaway!


Growing Old Gracefully: Let Your Spirit Carry You…

 04 - Sept 6 2011 - Evelyn Baxter photo - best

A post by photographer and writer Barb Mayer:

It’s somehow fitting that the oldest woman I have had the privilege of befriending has taught me the secret of being eternally young.

At 95 Evelyn no longer feels the need to impress or  the need to modify her appearance to please others.

Advancing age has brought with it a new sense of freedom. “If it hasn’t killed me yet, I’m not going to worry about it,” is her justification for eating the rich chocolate cake sitting in front of her, though she recently learned she has borderline diabetes.

In her early 80s she lost her partner of fifty years to cancer. Though she went through a period of mourning, she didn’t drown in her sorrows.

She took a trip to Hawaii with her family and learned a new sport – surfing. Her son and granddaughter, buffeted and bruised by the waves, quickly gave up. Evelyn persevered and, much to her delight, managed to stand up on the board, feeling the freedom of the waves draw her into the shore.

Her memory is not what it used to be, and I know it’s a subject she doesn’t like to talk about. If she can’t find something in the kitchen, she invariably blames her son. “He’s always moving things on me,” she states accusingly, and I flash her an empathetic look that says… yes, men are like that, aren’t they?

When she tells me the same story she has told me for the last three days, I listen intently, as though it were the first time. I know that the telling gives her great pleasure and I enjoy listening to anecdotes of a life lived before television, before cars and before cell phones.

We no longer do aerobics together at the senior center. Her sense of balance is starting to fail and the long walks we used to take together have become dramatically shorter. But her enthusiasm for life remains unabated.

The other day we sat around her kitchen table and, brush in hand, she gave me pointers on the art of watercolor painting, a hobby she took up in her mid 60s.

Though her body is beginning to fail, her zest for life has remained intact. In the four short years I have known her, she has taught me a valuable lesson.

No matter how far along you are on the path of life, when you let your spirit carry you, it’s possible to grow old gracefully and happily.


Barb Mayer is an award-winning photographer and freelance writer who enjoys creating works to inspire and enlighten. Her latest project combines photography with music and inspirational quotes (click here to view The Poetry of the Earth and she is an occasional contributor to the anthologies of  June Cotner.

She loves spending quiet time writing and gardening in her small country house near Rome, Italy.  Her time in the States is spent traveling and visiting family and friends. You may contact Barb and learn more about her writing and photography at her web site:

In the top photo, Evelyn is sporting her favorite pair of Italian shoes. The photo was taken by Barb.


Hot Flash Sonnets (and a Giveaway!)

Hot Flash Sonnets

A guest post by poet Moira Egan:

First and foremost, I would like to thank Barbara Younger for the invitation to be a guest on her terrific and award-winning blog. Passager Books (Baltimore, MD) has just published my poetry collection, Hot Flash Sonnets, and so I guess it’s official: I’m a woman of a certain age, and I’m here to talk about it.

Just yesterday, I had an email exchange with one of my dear friends from College.She’s been enjoying the Hot Flash Sonnets I’ve been posting on Facebook, and she had a couple of questions for me. She too is experiencing many of the classic symptoms of The Change, and though she lives in a city that’s known as a world capital, she is dismayed that her doctors are pushing her toward HRT and presenting no other options. She’s probably not a good candidate for HRT, for many reasons, and she asked me what I’ve been doing to ease my symptoms and get on with something resembling a normal life.

So I told her about certain websites that have been helpful (such as this one!), and a couple of books on hormone-specific yoga practices, and about my own, ongoing (!) experiments with various herbs and concoctions.Further, I told her that I was very happy that we were having this conversation. It strikes me as sad and strange that, in the year 2013, there is still a certain stigma or embarrassment attached to talking about MENOPAUSE, something that every woman will experience if she is fortunate enough to live long enough to pass from being a reproductive being to a post-reproductive being. Where’s the shame in that?

What the Flesh Is Heir To

This is the first poem in my collection, Hot Flash Sonnets. I didn’t think Shakespeare would mind too much that I borrowed some phrases from his famous existential-crisis character, Hamlet, since we menopausal women are asking ourselves existential questions every day. I also hoped that Mr. Shakespeare wouldn’t mind my borrowing from him because, without his example, I probably never would have gone off onto my own poetic path as a dedicated sonneteer.

Something I didn’t tell my friend, though, is that one of the best therapies for me has been recording my experiences and turning them into sonnets. A few years ago, when I first started writing this sequence, I realized that, beyond its being the form in whose constraints I feel most at home (and in which I have the most fun), the sonnet is an ideal form for expressing change – like mood swings! And thermostat malfunctions!

You remember from your English classes that sonnets have 14 lines, a rhyme scheme, and a neat little thing somewhere towards the end called the volta, the turn, where the poem changes direction and surprises you with its ending. As Robert Frost famously said, “No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” Well, ask any menopausal woman about the surprises she’s encountered on the journey, and you might be surprised yourself.

So it really did help me to externalize the things that were happening to me, to hold them at arm’s length, so to speak, and make sense out of them by shaping them into sonnets. I wanted the poems to range in tone every bit as much as I range in my moods: from “LOL” funny to philosophical, from poignant to painful, from sarcastic to dead serious. Some of these things aren’t fun or funny to experience, but when given the choice between laughing and crying, though I don’t always succeed in this, I do try to laugh.

Sisters in Sweat

Just as these two “sisters in sweat” share the heat wave, I hope to share whatever insights I might have come to along this path of Strange Change. I also hope that in laughing or even at times crying together, we “sisters in the sweat,” ladies of a certain age, can take comfort in the shared nature of our experiences, and truly understand that we’re not alone.

Giveaway:  Friend for the Ride is giving away a copy of Hot Flash Sonnets. Simply enter a comment by October 10 saying you’d like to be the winner.

Passager Books is a press for writers over fifty!  Our menopausal hats goes off to this insightful and artistic press!

Moira Egan

Moira Egan is the author, most recently, of Hot Flash Sonnets (Passager Books, Baltimore, 2013). Her previous poetry collections are Cleave (WWPH, 2004); La Seta della Cravatta/The Silk of the Tie (Edizioni l’Obliquo, 2008); Bar Napkin Sonnets (The Ledge, 2009); and Spin (Entasis Press, 2010, for whom she also co-edited Hot Sonnets, 2010).

Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies in the U.S. and abroad. Her sonnets in particular have won many accolades, including the 2005 Baltimore City Paper Poetry Contest; The Ledge Chapbook Competition (Bar Napkin Sonnets, 2009); the Baltimore Review’s 2012 Literary Contest (HEAT being the all-too appropriate theme); and the 2012 Sonnet Competition of the Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition of the National League of American Pen Women.

She has been a Mid Atlantic Arts Fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts; Writer in Residence at St. James Cavalier Centre for Creativity, Malta; a Writing Fellow at the Civitella Ranieri Center; and a Fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center.


Road Trip: Post #7–Deep in the Heart of Texas


Look who we found at the end of the road (trip)!

My newlywed daughter Laura and her husband Matt.

They’re new at marriage,

In a new apartment,

In Dallas, a city new to them,

And they seem to be managing all this newness quite well.

Cliff and I aren’t feeling quite as new.

No matter!

We had a big old time tripping down the road!

Dallas: That’s some busy city!  I’m writing a post for November on the Sixth Floor Museum, which takes you instantly back to 1963.

Travel Posts:  I’d love to receive some travel guests posts. Keep Friend for the Ride in the back of your mind as you travel this year. Thanks!

I miss the road trip, but it’s also nice to be back at the old homestead.  A friendly man took this photo for us when the trip was brand new, at our first stop, the Farmer’s Market in Asheville, North Carolina.


Wearever Giveaway Winners:  Congrats to Irene and Carol!


Road Trip: Post #6–Pie with a Purpose and a YAY! PIE! Giveaway!


Menopause Pie!

Wouldn’t that be something?

One magical forkful and those nasty symptoms would simply melt away in a delicious  and very helpful moment.

A pie with purpose!


Oh but this is a Road Trip Post.  Time to stop dreaming about Menopause Pie.


Stick with me.  The trip is almost over.

On Day Six, Cliff and I left Little Rock, Arkansas with not too many miles to drive until our next destination, Texarkana. Texarkana has the distinction of being part Arkansas, part Texas, which I would find quite confusing if I were a state.


With not many miles to drive, we had time to spare. Time to turn off the interstate and check out some small towns.


In Arkadelphia, Cliff stepped into the Honeycomb Restaurant and Bakery. I followed.


Here we found pie with a purpose.

Big purpose!

The Honeycomb’s mission is to “provide work for our clients and to provide a downtown restaurant with good, affordable food for the community.”

These clients, part of Group Living, Inc., are individuals with developmental disabilities.

Cliff and I were taken with the Honeycomb. The atmosphere. The enthusiastic greeters and waitstaff.  The big mission in such a small community.


And YAY! BRICKLE PIE! , the most delicious, most purposeful pie on this or that side of the Mississippi.

Yay Pie

GIVEAWAY:  I’m giving away three YAY! PIE! Magnets to three lucky winners. Make your refrigerator door Pie Happy!

To enter, simply tell us your favorite kind of pie by October 5.


To hear the fun story behind YAY! PIE!, click here.

To see the amazing number of YAY! magnets, click here.


Road Trip: Post #5–Bessie Smith and Zee


Blues great Bessie Smith died in 1937 in  Clarksdale, Mississipi at the hospital for African Americans, now the Riverside Hotel.  After some rough years, The Empress of the Blues was on a rebound.

That is until her boyfriend came up too close on a slow moving truck. He passed the truck on the left, severing Bessie’s right arm, which was resting out the window.

I’m not a Bessie Smith expert. In fact, I knew little about her.

Yet something told me to visit the Riverside Hotel.

Riverside Hotel

A guy from Canada on a Delta Blues pilgrimage strummed his guitar on the porch.

“Go in,” he said.  “I think Zee’s around.”

We walked through the front door.  Zee met us. “I’m getting ready for guests.”

I got the feeling a tour was not in our cards.

“Oh,” I said. “I wanted to see the place where Bessie Smith died.”


My tone or my expression must have softened her. “Right there,” she said, motioning to the room behind me.  “That’s where Bessie passed.  She bled out.”

Bessie's Room

Then Zee pointed to a long hallway. “Their footsteps are on those floors.  Muddy Waters, Sam Cooke, Ike Tuner, John Lee Hooker, all the greats.”

In the 1940s, Zee’s grandma bought the hospital and turned it into the Riverside Hotel, a men’s only  hotel.


“Grandmama didn’t put up with anything from anybody. IkeTurner was a bad boy, but he behaved for Grandmama.”

Zee’s father, Frank “Rat” Ratcliff,  took over the management of the hotel after his mother. He died last spring.

Now Zelina Ratcliff is the proprietress.

“Do you ever feel the spirits of the blues artists who stayed here?” I asked her.

“Others do. I just see my daddy.” Zee smiled. ” Everywhere.”

“After my dad died, ” I said, “I felt  I was channeling him. Like part of him had become me.  But then it faded, some. Don’t lose that connection as your grief subsides.”

“Oh, I won’t.” Zee shook her head. “Never.”

By now Cliff had stepped back outside to chat with the guy from Canada.

Zee and I talked about losing parents, loving parents.

I could have talked to her for hours.

But she had work to do.

I took her picture.  I hugged her goodbye.

“Thank you,” I said. “So much.”


Read more about the history of the hotel here.

The Riverside Hotel website. Call if you want a reservation!

Take a tour of the hotel with Zee’s dad, Rat.

And listen to Bessie: