Snake! Menopause Courage?


I’ve read that post-menopausal women are braver, bolder, gutsier. Oh please, please, pick me!

The book is still out for this menopausal woman. What about you?

I was hoping this newly delivered bravery would just wash over me. Not so.

I did make steps up in bravery with my cancer and the death of my mom. In serious times, when you have little choice as to what will happen, bravery not only gets you through, but it enables you to appreciate the power in the pain, the miracles in the horror, the grace in the gravity. Whence the bravery? My inner soul? God? My dear family and friends? My ability to sometimes see the whimsy amidst the woe? Not sure.

But whatever bravery I’ve garnered in recent years, I’ve only taken baby steps with snakes.

Cliff loves snakes! He has a deep appreciation for these creatures. And so, I am working on snake courage.

On our lovely Hillsborough Riverwalk in April, the black snakes come out, especially in one section that is darker and more wooded than the rest. I can handle a snake yards ahead of me. I like warning. But I don’t want to chance upon a snake, and I am creeped out that they crawl up tree trunks and dangle from branches.

But this year, I forced myself, a few times, with eyes wide open, to go down that snakey path. Didn’t see any, but wasn’t I at least a little bit brave? Progress!

Cliff says the black snakes aren’t on the path or in the trees anymore. They’re off in the woods after mating, doing other important snake things.

It’s amazing how brave I have now become.

Photo courtesy Clifford Younger.


LuLu’s Kitchen: A Cookbook Giveaway



A brand new cookbook from Lucy Buffett. Here’s the scoop from the publisher:

Updated with a new introduction and amazing photography, the bestselling, self-published cookbook by Lucy Buffett (chef sister of Jimmy Buffett) includes amazing recipes from her destination restaurant in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

Like her brother, Jimmy, Lucy Buffett celebrates freedom, relaxation, and seaside decadence in her own art — cooking. This previously self-published book (formerly titled Crazy Sista Cooking) has sold over 70,000 copies without marketing or much trade distribution.

Packed with more than 120 signature recipes from Lucy’s famous Gulf Coast restaurant, LuLu’S Kitchen is the next best thing to being there. Tucked inside are humorous stories, and plenty of wit and wisdom from Lucy’s own kitchen. The book features party menus, Buffett Family favorites, and lots of telling it like it is. Renowned novelist Tom McGuane contributes engaging essays that blend smoothly with the spicy dishes and distinctive drinks.

Recipes include soul-satisfying Southern delights like West Indies Salad, Perfect Fried Shrimp, Blackened Grouper Sandwich, Garlic Cheese Grits, Silver Queen Succotash, and Heavenly Fried Crab Claws. And there’s a whole chapter on 25 specialty drinks, including “Bama Breeze” and “LuLu’s Painkiller.”

Giveaway: The publisher is offering a copy of LuLu’s Kitchen to one lucky Friend for the Ride winner. For a chance to win, please enter a comment before May 15. Thanks!


Lucy Buffett
 is a restaurateur of the award winning, fun-loving LuLu’s which serves more than one million guests a year at two locations, one in Gulf Shores, Alabama and the other in Destin, Florida. Lucy has also been recognized for her tireless work on behalf of sustainability and the environment. However, the greatest passion of this self-proclaimed gypsy rebel and reluctant entrepreneur is cooking good food for the people she loves. LuLu’s Kitchen: A Taste of the Gulf Coast Good Life (formerly Crazy Sista Cooking) is her first cookbook and is full of recipes and stories that made her restaurant the famous destination it is today. You can find more information on Lucy at



The Bird Bucket List

Lilacbreasted Roller; Coracias Caudata; South Africa

I’ve yet to make my bucket list. Perhaps because I find the project overwhelming. There’s lots to do in the world!

So when Cliff sent me this article on the Bird Bucket List, I thought, wow, now that I could do. Bucket lists by category. Here’s a Bird Bucket List I made, composed of one bird of mine and the Bucket List Birds of friends.

At the top, from Ken, who has traveled the world, you see the lilac breasted roller.

Gail chose the the snowy white owl.

Mini, a 25-year-old Snowy Owl injured as a young bird, peers out from her enclosure at the Raptor Trust, a bird sanctuary and rehabilitation center about 30 miles west of New York City in Millington, New Jersey in this December 12, 2006 file photo. The elusive snowy owl, rarely seen outside the Arctic, is turning up more frequently in the skies of North America than it does in the pages of a Harry Potter book, data from the National Audubon Society suggested on January 7, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Segar/Files (UNITED STATES - Tags: ANIMALS ENVIRONMENT)

Susan selected a bird from my childhood turf, the Baltimore oriole.


Nancy wrote, “Since I am not much of a ‘birder,’ I would go for birds that are names for sports teams – Baltimore Orioles (and Ravens!), Toronto Blue Jays, Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons. Georgia Peregrine Falcon (below).”


Jan chose the a male painted bunting.


Judy picked a puffin.


Johnna selected our American symbol, the bald eagle.

images (1)

Nell wrote, “My mom always wanted to see a road runner before she died, and then she did!”


Somebody chose the blue footed booby, but sadly, I can’t remember who. But look at those gorgeous feet!

Blue Footed Booby

And Cliff longs to see a bird he’s heard often but never seen: a whip-poor-will. Oh and here’s a tip. Don’t tell someone his bucket list bird is ugly. It doesn’t sit well.


And as for me, in memory of my dad, I am putting the albatross at the top of my Bird Bucket List. Dad talked about seeing these magnificent birds from the deck of his destroyer during World War Two.


What about you?

Let’s add to the list. If you send me a bird, I’ll find a photo and post it.

Pat suggests the cedar wax wing. Lovely colors!


Phyllis would like to see (up close) the Hawaiian stilt. She writes: “I think that we saw some of these amazingly long-legged birds (in relation to their body size) in a low water pond-like area in Maui. But, they were so far away we couldn’t quite tell!”


From Robin, the frigate bird. Gorgeous!




Menopause Words and Worry


I found these wonderful words on the wall of the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art. Let’s pretend the MOMA posted them just for us! The words happily reflect the upbeat changes that often sweep in once the menopause roller coaster slows down.

Recently, I’ve been reading lots about controlling our thoughts. As a younger woman, thoughts ruled me. I didn’t figure I could rule them. This thought about thoughts is a new thought for me.

Psychologists suggest we can rewire our brains. Check out this intriguing article. 

I’ve been exploring the thinking of Byron Katie, who writes:”Life is not difficult; it’s your thinking that makes it difficult…If you don’t love where you are, I invite you to question your beliefs.” (From A Thousand Names for Joy: Living in Harmony with the Way Things Are.) 

I like her four questions for analyzing every negative thought:

  • Is it true?
  • Can you absolutely know that it is true?
  • How do you react, what happens, when you believe this thought?
  • Who would you be without the thought?

Learn more about Byron Katie and her program, The Work, here.

Mind Power expert John Kehoe makes this great analogy:”You wouldn’t allow stinking garbage to build up in your house without taking action. Likewise don’t let negative thinking build up in the inner sanctuary of your mind.” Kehoe gives some concrete tips on how to eliminate negative thinking in this article.

What about you? Have you been successful at re-framing negative thoughts or worries?

P.S. I worried (Ha!Banish the word) about the word “furious” in the photo. But one definition is “full of energy.” Let’s all be furious  and happy together.

Giveaway Winners: Congratulations to Miriam, who won Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic;  Judith and Janet, who each won two pairs of  Confitex Underwear; and Rose, who won the Mighty Nightie. More giveaway announcements soon!



The Ladies Room Door Art Series: Part Twenty-two



Our Ladies Room Door Art Series continues! Thanks to those of you who photographed these wonderful doors.

I discovered musicians Nancy and Anne Wilson at the Blue Note Grill in Durham, North Carolina, on the door above.

From Rachel, the doors at Pompeii Pizza in Durham. The restaurant is set in an old firehouse, which explains the somewhat off-color names on the doors. (I’m not sure how I would explain “Jaws of Life” on a ladies room door to a six-year-old.”) Fun doors though, that’s for sure!



From Silvia, who snapped this photo at a steakhouse in Santa Ana, El Salvador. Silvia sent along a translation: “Ella” means “she” and “damas” means “ladies.”


From Kirstina, The Pineville Tavern in Wrightstown, PA, which is said to be haunted. Kristina reports the tavern was featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.


From Candace, 49 West in Annapolis, Maryland.


From daughter Kath at the H G Sply Company in Dallas, Texas.


From Pat, The Continental, a restaurant in Richmond, Virginia.


Johnna snapped this at a friend’s house.


Jay’s Chicken Shack, right up the street from me:


From Gail, a bathroom in Page Auditorium at my alma mater, Duke University.


From Barb, Virginia’s on the Bay, Port Aransas, Texas. Barb wrote, “One guess which is the men’s room!”




And Barb found this one at The Brewery, also in Port Aransas.

image4 (1)

And finally, Cliff sent me this cartoon, which certainly fits our theme!

12805824_900058070092263_4800686065430922713_nThanks one and all for your contributions. It’s readers like you who keep the Ladies Room Door Art Series flushing along on Friend for the Ride!


We Are Women: A Giveaway!

Page 60 - Even in the Familiar

Introducing: WE ARE WOMEN: CELEBRATING OUR WIT AND GRIT. This spunky, upbeat, and moving collection of photographs and quotations was created by June Cotner and Barb Mayer. In this post, Barb tells us more:

The idea for WE ARE WOMEN originated with June, who has always loved browsing through vintage greeting cards. Curious about what kind of lives these women led, she decided to develop a book that would feature vintage photos of women paired with inspiring as well as humorous quotes. Our goal was to create a book that would appeal to both younger and older women, one that would embody the best of the human spirit. We wanted to show how these positive characteristics have been handed down through generations of women.

Page 67 - cover photo

WE ARE WOMEN is a celebration of womanhood. It shows that our ancestors were a far cry from the staid and serious portrait photos we often see in antique shops and history books. They were daring, innovative, and fun-loving. They were pilots, motorcycle riders, skiers, engineers, and political activists. Many were pioneers who paved the way for future generations of women to pursue careers that were traditionally dominated by men.


We hope that our book will inspire and uplift women, encouraging them to live their lives to the fullest.

Page 13 - There's Power in Looking Silly

We Are Women - lighter image

Giveaway: Friend for the Ride is giving away a copy of WE ARE WOMEN to two lucky winners. For a chance to win, please enter a comment by April 30. Thanks!

Amazon Link: You can order WE ARE WOMEN here.


June Cotner is the author of 34 books including the bestselling GRACES. Her books altogether have sold more than one million copies and have been featured in many national publications including USA Today, Woman’s Day, and Family Circle. Follow June on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. Check out June’s website at and her author page on

Barb Mayer

Barb Mayer is a frequent contributor to the anthologies of June Cotner, as well as an award-winning photographer. Born in London, England, she relocated to Canada, then to America, developing along the way a zest for travel and foreign culture. Follow Barb on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. You may visit her website at and her author page on

More detailed info on photo credits can be found here. (These are fascinating to read.)


Feminine Supplies and Distributing Dignity


In Germany last fall, I had a great time photographing ladies room doors. I also picked up the above bag. Look at all those languages! Women, everywhere, experience periods. Once home, I began pondering how other cultures regard menstruation. I found this article in the Huffington Post.

The article not only describes the menstruation hardships of women in other cultures, but it points back to the United States. Homeless and low income women here often can’t buy the supplies they need, and they may not have access to showers and clean towels. Here’s an article in MS Magazine.

Distributing Dignity is an organization that collects bras and tampons/pads.Their mission is to help women who are:

  • In and Aging out of foster care
  • Seeking refuge from domestic violence or abuse
  • Homeless: veterans, teens and others
  • Struggling with life altering illness
  • Displaced by disaster

 Read more about the work they do here.

Distributing Dignity

Your local food bank or shelter welcomes donations of feminine supplies. We regularly donate food, but I have never taken sanitary supplies. I think this is partly because they are so expensive, which is the whole point! Women need them.

I’m also wondering if middle schools and high schools would appreciate donations of feminine supplies. Any teachers out there know the answer?