Saturday Surprise

Look who popped into my world on a Saturday morning!

As I wrote last week, I’ve been sharing my mom’s linen collection. A few of the cloths had crumpled, so I set up my ironing board and fired up my iron.

As I started on Vintage Hand Towel Number Four, I did a double take. Is that a woman? I pressed out more wrinkles and sure enough, she appeared, strand of pearls and all.

Who is she? Who stitched her?

Who knows?

But she’s smiling at us from another century and wishing each and every one of you a happy day.


The Ladies Room Door Art Series: Part Ten

Carolina Ale House

More doors!

I captured this shiny door at the Carolina Ale House, a fun sports bar in Durham, North Carolina.

And a first! A door from a male reader: Ed. He snapped this at Ruby’s Cowboy Buffet and Steak Room in Bryce Canyon, Utah, during a Road Scholar (aka Elderhostel) tour of the Southwest national parks.

When I told Ed, who is married to my friend Judith, that he’s the first man to send me a door, he replied, “Sure. Always happy to be the first!  I lurked around, I mean checked out, most of the ladies’ room doors as we toured, but most were very unexciting. I thought this was nice and cowgirl-ish. It was at the end of a separate hallway, making it a bit awkward to approach, but I did it in the name of science, or blogging, or something like that….”

Thanks, Ed!

Readers Lisa and Judy found this door in Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands, while on a sailing trip. Judy writes, “It was a unique door but a bit vulgar. The inside of the restroom was mostly pink.” The door graces Sidney’s Peace and Love Restaurant, and the owner’s daughters were named Strawberry and Blossom.

Door Two

I found this clever door at the Oval Park Grille in Durham.

Duke fan Nancy discovered this devilish number at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Duke Ladies Room

This one’s from newlywed Beth, who honeymooned in Savannah, Georgia. The restaurant’s name is Goosefeathers!

Two photos from the Fish House on Carlyle Lake in Carlyle, Illinois, sent by reader Pam.

And a first! The back of a ladies room door. Here’s the actual door:

Hot Tin

And here’s what it looks like in the mirror:

Door in Mirror

This clever door graces the ladies room at Hot Tin Roof, a bar right down the street from me, which proves you never know what you’ll find on the back of a door in your own backyard.

The Ladies Room Door Art Series is flourishing. Thanks to all of you. Keep those cameras ready!


Losing Mom: Vintage Linens


My mother was a collector’s collector. She went nuts over vintage linens, buying them for herself and for yours truly.

Soon after Mom died in March, my friend Nancy and I hosted a bridal shower at my house.The younger me would never have believed I could spend hours with Mom’s things within days of her death. I would have expected tears to hit the eyelet napkins like raindrops.


Ironing those napkins and slipping them into Mom’s silver napkin rings put me in happy spirits after a gut-wrenching five weeks. (Mom went fast with cancer.)

Napkin Rings

Getting ready for the bridal shower helped me mightily


and introduced me to the concept of active, and yes, even festive grief.

In this article on grief, the writer states that “healthy grieving results in an ability to remember the importance of our loss—but with a new found sense of peace, rather than searing pain.” Active grieving, be it ironing beautiful linens or hiking a beloved trail or starting a scholarship fund, helps us move to that new sense of peace.

My brother found drawers filled with linens as he cleared Mom’s apartment. He shipped them to me a few weeks ago.


I’ve been having a grand time sharing them–more active grieving as my friends admire and select the hand towels, napkins, tablecloths, or bureau scarves they like best.

If I experience a more searing loss, I have no clue if the concept of active grief will help me. But in the case of my mother, who accepted her death and told us she had lived a good life, using and sharing her collections has been restorative and rewarding.

What about you? Thoughts? Impressions? Suggestions? Experiences?

Photo Below: Mom starting out on her linen journey, her wedding day in April of 1946.

WeddingBook Giveaway Winners! Congrats to Pam, who won Barbara Crooker Selected Poemsto Carol and Karen, who won Judy Holland’s Moody Bitches; and to Lisa, who won June Cotner and Nancy Tupper Ling’s Toasts.


Sex after Menopause: A Vibrant Nation Webinar


Vibrant Nation, a leading online community for women 45+, held its first ever Live webcast discussion on March 31, 2015.The topic of the event was Sex After Menopause. Dr. Barb DePree, a Vibrant Nation sexual health expert and blogger, led a panel of women in sharing stories and advice for getting the spark back in the bedroom.

Best take away analogy? The menopausal vagina can be compared to a pencil skirt:

Pencil Skirt

A vagina before menopause is more like the relaxed, carefree pleated skirt:

Pleated Skirt

Dr. Depree gave insightful and practical suggestions as to how to get your flare back! The webcast was excellent, with clear explanations and plenty of information.

And if you missed the broadcast, you can view it right now! Take it away, Dr. DePree (and thanks to you and Vibrant Nation).

What Is Menopause?

Using Lubricants

Is there a Viagra for Women?

Use It or Lose It: Tips on Sexual Maintenance

Can Estrogen Help You?

How Can We Be Proactive & Prevent Painful Sex?

Pleated Skirt

Here’s the link to these videos on the Vibrant Nation Site.

Disclosure: I’m participating in a Vibrant Influencer network campaign for Vibrant Nation. I’m receiving a fee for posting; however, the opinions expressed in this post are my own. I’m not affiliated with Vibrant Nation and don’t earn a commission or percent of sales.


Downsizing: Spare the Pig?

Piggy Bank

I bought Piggy at Pier One when I was in high school. He lived in my bedroom, and I filled him with quarters.

For the last twenty years or so, Piggy has resided on a bookcase in our upstairs hall. Cliff’s been feeding him loose change.This piggy bank is loaded! There’s no way to open him up to retrieve the money.

Piggy Bank

How tempting to take a hammer and liberate all those coins. I could treat Cliff to a beer or two at one of Hillsborough’s watering holes or buy myself a few bars of elegant soap. Maybe both! Better yet, I could donate the coins to our church’s collection for the hungry.

I’m fond of my piggy bank, but he’s not on my Keep Until I Die List. I’ve got other mementos from high school. The downsizing project continues! So smash and retrieve the coins? Or give Piggy away? Let someone else make that difficult decision?

Piggy Bank

I’ve finally got my answer (I think), but I’d love to hear your suggestions.

Anyone else have a similar downsizing dilemma?


The Ladies Room Door Art Series: Part Nine

Truckyard Outside

More doors!

Above is is the outdoor ladies room at Truck Yard, a beer garden in Dallas, Texas. My daughter Laura and her husband Matt live there and know all the funky places to go. There’s great bathroom door potential whenever I visit!

Below is another door at Truck Yard.

Inside at Truck Yard

This lovely door graces the ladies room at Urban Taco, also in Dallas.

Urban Taco

I thought this sign at the Tampa Airport was prettier than most airport signs.  And let’s hear it for airports–it sure is easy enough to find the ladies room.

Tampa Airport

From Matt’s sister Chelsea comes this door at O’ Sullivan’s Bar in Arlington, Virginia. Love those swirly legs!

From reader Lilly Stevens, The Corner Table Restaurant in Houston, Texas. The restaurant, Lilly reports, is in a wonderful old house and has quite a European feel.

Of the Americas Restaurant in River Oaks, Houston. Lilly writes,”This is one of the most creative bathrooms I’ve ever seen. I suspect people come just to gawk and take photos! ”

The door is somewhat ordinary…

But open the door and wow! The stall doors are mirrored, and each stall has its own sink. And, as Lilly tell us, “What a sink it is!”

Thanks, friends, for the photos. Do keep them coming as you travel about this summer. Reader Carol is on a cross-country trip and is snapping doors across America. She says it’s added even more adventure to her journey!

And finally, here’s one closer to my home from reader Judy. The Table in Mebane, North Carolina.

The TableAlthough this lovely lady looks a bit blue, she might just be the life of the party in that swirly dress!


The Mothers: A Poem and a Book Giveaway


A poem by Barbara Crooker


We gathered to give a baby shower

in absentia for the yet-to-be-born,

two-thousand-miles-away first grandson

of a friend whose youngest child died

binge drinking. Grief, the uninvited guest,

squeezed in, sat down on the sofa. But we oohed

and aahed at the tiny sweaters, booties, rattles, bonnets.

We know the end of the story,

but we love the beginning anyway.

We filled our china plates with shrimp,

broccoli quiche, cream puffs, lemon squares,

talked about our grown children

and the one who wasn’t there.


Later, at the art museum,

two Vietnamese children from the family

sponsored by our church were chosen

for the Emerging Masters’ Recital,

Paul on cello, Angela on violin.

I sat next to my friend Kathy,

and we remembered our work—

me teaching English as a Second Language,

she negotiating Social Services—and how if we knew

how hard it was going to be, we’d have never signed up.

But aren’t we all refugees, searching for our lives,

and don’t we all become orphans in the end?


And now I’m at the university, seeing

The Vagina Monologues,” where my red-

headed middle daughter is playing a black

homeless lesbian, and where I am so lost

in the power of the words, for a short while

I forget who she is, shining in her cherry taffeta

prom dress from Goodwill. At the end, the play shifts

from the sexual to the sacred, the opening between

two worlds, the way we all came in, part of the wheel,

the hoop, the great turning.

Barbara writes about “The Mothers: “This poem ties together some of the themes in Barbara Crooker: Selected Poems: the mother/child connection, the poems in the last section on the loss of a child (echoing back to poems in the beginning of the book, the loss of my first daughter shortly before birth), the poems in Obbligato (one of the chapbooks that make up the Selected) about teaching ESL to Vietnamese refugees, and some poems not in this collection about my red-haired daughter, who had a traumatic brain injury/horse accident at 18, and who nearly didn’t get to go to college (she’s the one acting in the Vagina Monologues in stanza III).


Barbara Crooker Selected Poems

“The Mothers” is featured in Barbara’s latest book, Barbara Crooker: Selected Poems. The publisher, FutureCycle Press writes, “This collection brings together 102 poems from Barbara Crooker’s previous ten chapbooks of poetry, two of which won national prizes, with a handful of uncollected poems at the end.”  Here’s the Amazon link.

Giveaway: For a chance to win a copy of Barbara Crooker: Selected Poems, simply enter a comment by May 20 saying you’d like to win. U.S. only. Thanks! Comment link can be found at the bottom of the post.

Barbara Crooker’s poems have appeared in magazines such as The Green Mountains Review, Poet Lore, The Hollins Critic, The Christian Science Monitor, and Nimrod, and anthologies such as The Bedford Introduction to Literature.

Her awards include the Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award, three Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships; fifteen residencies at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts; a residency at the Moulin à Nef, Auvillar, France; and a residency at The Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig, Ireland.

Barbara’s books are Radiance, which won the 2005 Word Press First Book competition and was a finalist for the 2006 Paterson Poetry Prize; Line Dance (Word Press 2008), which won the 2009 Paterson Award for Literary Excellence; More (C&R Press 2010); Gold (Cascade Books, 2013); Small Rain (Purple Flag Press, 2014); and Barbara Crooker: Selected Poems (FutureCycle Press, 2015).

Her poetry has been read on the BBC, the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Company), and by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac, and she’s read in the Poetry at  Noon series at the Library of Congress. Learn more about Barbara at her website.

Photo: Barbara, her daughter Becky, and grandson Reilly.