My Kindle: Rocking These Aging Eyes

Hard core book person here.

I come from a family of book collectors.


I’ve still got some of my childhood books. (Note the”his” in the subtitle at the top of Baby’s House below. Circa 1950.)


I like the smell of books (both the brand new smell and the worn smell). I like turning the pages. I like measuring how much of the book I’ve read by putting a bookmark in it, closing the book, and eyeballing how much is left.

I had no interest in an electronic reader.

But when daughter Kath said, for the umpteenth time, “Mom, you need a Kindle,” I finally caved. Kath sent me the Amazon link. The Paperwhite was on sale. I bought one, mostly to make my daughter happy.

I sighed when the box came. Did I really want this? I set my new Kindle on the back counter for a few days. Finally, I charged it up, connected it to wifi, and ordered my first book. So easy!

And in that instant, my reading life changed.

On a Kindle, you can blow up the type. I’m sure Kath had told me this a dozen times, but the significance didn’t sink in. Small print is no longer an issue for me. And thanks to larger print, I can read at night, something I was having a terrible time doing.


The Kindle’s backlighting helps with night reading too. I don’t need to move the lamp closer. You can even read in the dark.

The Kindle has changed my world. Seriously. I’m not sure it’s marketed as a product to help those of us with poor eyesight, but it should be.

Thanks Kath! And thanks for helping me pick out my festive purple cover.

Giveaway Winners:

Meryl won the fifty dollar Bed, Bath and Beyond gift card in honor of Friend for the Ride’s anniversary.

Laura won the copy of Lorraine Miano’s The Magic of Menopause

Barbara, Pam, and Karen, won tubes of Sylk

Liz won the Cool Collection Dress!

Beth won the Chocolate Soaps from Uncommon Goods

And Sara won the Nano Cooling scarf.

Please always let me know if you do NOT receive a prize you’ve won. And thanks to those of you who write such sweet thank you emails. I love knowing your prize has safely arrived.


Gingerbread to All


I discovered this gingerbread world at North Park Center Mall in Dallas, Texas last week. After admiring the cookie village, Laura and I shopped. Granddaughter Emerson, at nine weeks, studied the mall scene briefly and then turned her attention to Sophie the Giraffe.


Here’s wishing you a gingerbread sort of holiday. Spicy and fun but layered with sweetness and color. Friend for the Ride is going on holiday too and will be back at the very start of 2017.

Thank you so much for your good words and for reading my words!

Love, Barbara



Ladies Room Door Art Series: Part Thirty


Doors encore!

Susan sent me this door from Simpsonville, South Carolina. A few weeks later, Carol sent me the same door from the same restaurant. A first for Friend for the Ride! I hated to tell Carol I already had the door, but I did. We strive for honesty here on Friend for the Ride. Thanks to both of you!

From Pat, the Maison Dandoy in Brussels. Pat found me some wonderful doors on her trip to Belgium last spring.

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She found this unisex door at the Costume and Lace Museum.


Pat photographed these green and black signs at the Gallerie du Hubert in Brussels.



My son-in-law Matt found the fan and the pipe in the Napoles section of Mexico City.



From Karen, the Sunset Grille in one of my beloved childhood haunts: Ocean City, Maryland.


From Barbara, the men’s and women’s at the Mellow Mushroom in Sunset Hills, Missouri. This is the fourth set of doors I’ve featured from a Mellow Mushroom restaurant. The Mellow Mushroom folks are mellow and fun when it comes to restrooms, that’s for certain!

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From Susan, a rest stop on I-85 south of Greensboro, North Carolina. A lady traveler in need of a bathroom quickly will have no trouble locating this bold sign.

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From Ken, Zinburger at Southpoint Mall in Durham, North Carolina.How wonderful to have gentlemen contribute to our Ladies Room Door Art Series. Thanks, Ken and Matt!


Last but not least, Susan found this neat door at the Silver Spot, an upscale movie theater in Chapel Hill. They say you can eat French fries and drink wine while you view the movie. I haven’t yet been able to convince Cliff to brave the steep movie prices to check out the theater.


That wraps up Number Thirty (WOW!) of our Ladies Room Door Art Series. Thank you one and all. Keep your phone cameras ready as you celebrate the holidays. Doors await!


Menopause Courage (in Kohl’s)


They say menopause makes us braver. More willing to confront others. To not put up with stuff. Hmmm. I have a story to tell.

Daughter Kath had announced Maze needed winter pajamas. Grandma mission!

I stepped into Kohl’s. My plan was to find a few pairs of PJs. No need for a cart.

Minutes later, with fire engine, doggy, and dinosaur pajamas in hand, I paused in the infant section. Didn’t brand new granddaughter Emerson need a Halloween costume and a Thanksgiving sleeper? Of course. They went into my arms.

Why not a quick run into the toy section? I found a talking Yoda for Maze, who is now deep into Star Wars. “I should have gotten a cart after all,” I said to myself.  “This stuff is getting heavy.”

On my way to the register, I picked up a book for each child. I love that Kohl’s offers picture books for five dollars and donates all profits to charity.


Arms brimming with merchandise, I headed toward the registers. I set the items down at the end of a counter, happily awaiting my turn. The line was short. Just one woman ahead of me. She stood at the other end of the counter, sliding her credit card through the machine.

She turned to me. “Could you get your things off the counter,” she said, face grim. “We’re conducting business here.”

I was at least five feet away. Shocked by her cold words, I didn’t answer, I just picked up my stuff. I eyed the young sales person. Her face indicated no emotion.

“Wow,” I said when the woman left, and my turn came. “Is it just me or was that woman really rude?”

“Oh you wouldn’t believe what people say to us,” the saleswoman replied.

“I’ve got half a mind to chase after her,” I said. Then I added, “But I won’t. Not worth it. Not the right thing to do.”

But then, I watched the woman walk back into the store. My mind spun.”Don’t do it, Barbara. You’ve never confronted a stranger in a negative way. You always behave calmly in these situations, despite inner turmoil.”

But that turmoil turned into tempest. A force took over!

I searched Kohl’s until I found the woman sorting through women’s tops. “Excuse me,” I said. “Could you tell me why I upset you?”

“I was conducting business,” she answered, her tone curt. “I was using my credit card.”

“But my items were heavy. I set them down at the very end of the counter.”

Short pause. Then: “That’s what carts are for.”

Speechless at her reply. Horrified that a fellow shopper could be so cruel, I walked away.

How did it feel to confront that scrooge of a woman?

Dramatic. It definitely had an element of excitement to it.

Did I feel empowered?

Kind of.

Did it help me understand her?

Yes. As much as I want to paint her as a creep, I realize she has skewed privacy issues. There’s no way my bad eyes could have read her credit card number from that distance or a phone camera capture the number on her card. I wish she’d left off her snarky cart line, but otherwise, I’ll chalk her up as someone who lives with a level of paranoia I’m glad I don’t have.

But I never, ever would have confronted her when I was younger.

Did menopause make me do it? Maybe.

What about you? Have you gotten braver or feistier as you’ve aged? Are you happy about it?

P.S. Now that I think about it, the woman seemed older than I am, so surely she’s been through the Change of Life. Maybe she was goodness and honey before! That, my Friends for the Ride, we will never know.


Letters: Doreen Frick Still Writes Them!


I find myself writing shorter and shorter notes on Christmas cards these days. I type so much that writing longhand feels uncomfortable. It’s like my fingers have lost the art. So in honor of letter writing, I bring you a post from writer Doreen Frick, who has not lost the art at all!

Yesterday my daughter texted this: Mom, how many letters a week do you write?

 I took a quick inventory of letters awaiting stamps (5) and letters I remember sending so far this week, (6) and letters I was thinking of writing tomorrow (2) and gave her a “guesstimate” of 15.

She tread carefully, remembering the four letters she’d received in the last month, (two to her kids), because she asked me if I really thought only fifteen.After all, I have four kids, and eleven grandkiddies, and she knows I don’t email, barely text, and rarely call. I re-evaluated my correspondence (I keep track on a tablet) and decided she was right. It was more like twenty letters a week.

And in that instant, I counted the cost. Twenty letters a week, forty-seven cents each, hmmmm. How much am I spending a month on postage? Envelopes. Cards. Small packages. And in that one moment I made a decision. I will be cutting back next week to one letter. Just one.

Now I’m sure that wasn’t the real reason my daughter texted me. In fact, she likes to get my letters. And so do her kids. She texted because, as she put it,“It just dawned on me that letter writing is your ministry, Mom.”

 Thirty-eight years old, and she’s just now “getting me.”

But the real beauty of all of this is not that one of my kids finally understands me but that all these years I’ve been hoping that my friends and family will see the beauty and love I have for a hand-written letter. And that was one other thing my daughter said,

It’s nice to get a letter when all you ever really seem to get in the mail are bills.

Mission accomplished. I can let that one go now.


Photo Top: This envelope was sent to my great-aunt in 1937. I display the envelope (with the letter tucked inside still) to remember my aunt and days gone by.

Photo Bottom: Doreen is in her mom’s arms. She writes, “My mom Mary was especially good about keeping the entire family far and wide in touch. I think it was one of her many endearing gifts, that word or two that would make someone feel so very thought about and loved and missed. It made you want to write her back.”

About Doreen: Doreen is a writer and loves to tell a story. She’ll wake up with one and go to sleep with another. And she writes at least one letter every day to somebody.

Follow these links to read more of her work:

Nano Cooling Scarf: A Giveaway and a Holiday Gift Idea!


My friend Sam White is the brilliant inventor of the Nano Cooling necklace. Sam just sent me his latest fashion statement for women with hot flashes: The Nano Cooling Scarf.

Menopausal hot flashes just got a lot more stylish!


The scarf comes in purple or rainbow. Sam writes, “This is a more subtle style than the necklace spheres but gives you the same cooling relief from the heat.” He adds, “We hope this helps you stay cool when your partner wants to put the heat up in your home this winter!”

Giveaway: Sam is offering a scarf to a lucky Friend for the Ride winner. You can choose between the purple and the rainbow.  If you want the scarf as a gift, Sam will get it to you before the holidays. To win, please enter a comment before December 15. Thanks, Sam!

Check out the Nano Cooling site here. The scarves are freezer charged. Now that’s cool!


Uncommon Goods: Holiday Ideas and a Giveaway


When the folks at Uncommon Goods approached me about a post, I checked out the company’s merchandise and their mission and said, “Sure!”  More about the company’s mission soon, but first, some cool and creative items you might want to add to your holiday shopping list.

Above, Bloody Mary Diagram glasses. I don’t even drink Bloody Marys, but I love these glasses. I like the Mimosa Diagram Glasses  and  the Hot Toddy Diagram Glasses, too. Fun!


Now that my granddaughter Emerson Grace is here, I’m thinking booties. Since her grandpop Cliff loves to go to funky taco bars when we visit the kids in Dallas, maybe Emmie needs a pair of Taco Booties


Uncommon Goods supports artisans across the world.Meet Gulnara Kydyrmyshova, who designed the taco booties.artist_23480

Each artisan is featured on the web page next to his or her creation. Read more about Gulnara: “When Kyrgyzstan became an independent country in 1991, most of the nation’s talented artists fled to larger and more creative cities. But maker Gulnara Kydyrmyshova stayed behind and established a small retail store with the vision to revive Kyrgyz craftsmanship and help relieve her nation of poverty through the trade of handmade felted works. She started by conducting free sewing classes to unemployed women in her community. For over a decade, she has supported local artisans by selling felted handicrafts in her store.”

On the company’s blog, you can learn more about their connection with  Silk Road Bazaar, Gularna, and the women she works with. An uplifting and fascinating story.


Back to more gift ideas. Grandson Maze would love this  Choo Choo Train Dining Set.



Holiday shopping for men can be tricky. What about guitar socks?


Or a Gin making Kit? Now that could keep a man busy this winter.


Here are some gifts that appeal especially to women. Consider Seed Money for a gardening friend.


I’m a fan of cuff bracelets. They’re not only stylish but easy to pop on and off. Birth Month Flower Cuffmake a very personal gift for a lady  on your list.


I bet my daughter Laura wished babies really did come from storks when she was in labor this October. A Stork Ornament is a great gift for any new mom or grandmom.


Take a look at the presents for moms that are highlighted here. Lots and lots to choose from.

I’ve never heard of Tea Drops. Talk about a festive treat on a winter day.


In winter and summer, Solar Light Garden Stake Flower Globes are perfect for lighting up a garden, yard, or path.


Here’s the  company’s official mission statement: “At UncommonGoods, we’re working to change the way business is done by making sustainability a part of every decision we make. We’re steadily working to make UncommonGoods more environmentally friendly, socially responsible, and an ever-more rewarding place to work.” Read more of their story here.


Giveaway! In celebration of Uncommon Goods, I’m offering a giveaway this holiday season. I picked their chocolate soaps. How fun to take a shower or bath with chocolate (and a whole lot less caloric). For a chance to win, please enter a comment by December 15.

wine-soaps I so appreciate this company’s interest in local artisans.I received compensation for writing the post but am paying for the giveaway.