Friend for the Ride Is Going on Holiday

Friend for the Ride is going on holiday. After nine years, I’m ready to pause the blog. I’ve loved the creativity and honesty of blogging, and I’ve loved getting to know my wonderful readers. Thank you so much for visiting and commenting on my posts.

My art is going well, so I hope to focus on painting for now. I also may get back to writing picture books or look for markets for creative nonfiction. We’ll see.


Egret Contemplates the Day Ahead 

I plan to pop back up now and then. I’d be too sad to say a forever goodbye. Please keep sending me any ladies room doors you find, as I will definitely be posting more doors. And I may re-post some of my favorite older posts from time to time.

My mom, one of my first readers, painted the roller coaster watercolor for Friend for the Ride when she was 88. Here’s to spunky and creative women everywhere. Here’s to all of you!

If any of you would like to be Facebook friends, send me a friend request at

You can follow my art on Instagram at


The Ladies Room Door Art Series: Viet Nam Edition

My friend Susan Bellinger toured Viet Nam in January with her husband and two daughters. Oh the places she does go, and the doors she does find. Thank you, Susan!

Above, note the pretty door on the INSIDE of the ladies room at a pizza restaurant in the Thai Dien District in Saigon. Susan reports that the outside of the door was quite plain.

Here’s the ladies room door at the Breco and Bread Coffee House in Da Nang.

Look at the lively entrance to the restrooms at the Shamrock Irish Pub in Hoi An, Vietnam.

Here are signs for the public bathrooms in Hoi An.

Look at the colorful and very personal walls of the ladies room at Monsieur Crepes in Da Nang.

And study carefully to see what Susan’s daughter, Beth, inscribed for us while in that potty.

A sign indicating the toilets at the Bikini Bottom, a brunch restaurant in Da Nang. Interesting name for a restaurant…

Neon green lights the way at the Downtown Cafe and Restaurant in Hanoi.

Here are the rules!

This is the ladies room sign at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi.

And look at the easygoing art on the bathroom door at The Railway Cafe in Hanoi.

Ah, note another nod from far away Viet Nam to Friend for the Ride.

This silhouette watches over the entrance to the Hoa Lo Prison visitor bathroom in Hanoi.

These clever cups mark hers and his at the Joma Bakery Cafe in Hanoi.


Simple is the style at the Pizza 4P in Hanoi.

More rules. Note there is no standing on the toilet. That posture on a toilet would never cross my mind.

Here’s the lovely floral sign at the Hum Cafe and Restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City.

I love the toilet paper holder.

Communal sinks are great. You can open the bathroom door and then wash your hands.

This was taken at a street fair market in Ho Chi Minh City. Lots going on here.

Susan’s daughter Beth sent me these from the Siem Reap airport in Cambodia. Beth said goodbye to her parents and sister in Viet Nam and then visited Angkor Wat.

And Susan’s younger daughter Gwen sent this photo. Gwen writes: “Here’s the photo of my mom from The Railway Cafe in Hanoi. She is actually going up these stairs to check out the bathrooms and take pictures for you!”

Thank you, Susan and Beth and Gwen. Loved getting your messages with these wonderful photos attached.


What Uterus! A Post-hysterectomy Blog and Facebook Group

Charlene Barber has created a blog and Facebook group for women who have undergone hysterectomies. Here’s the scoop about Charlene and this great resource:

So, they say as one door closes, another one opens. This has never been so true for me as when I evicted my uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, and ovaries!

Now for a bit of background. I have recently had a total hysterectomy that included removing the left ovary and fallopian tube (a total hysterectomy with left bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy if you want the more medical jargon). I had the right ovary and fallopian tube removed approximately 14 years ago thanks to an ovarian cyst and abnormal cervical cells.

Throughout the years, I have had various ovarian cysts on my remaining left ovary, constant pain, polyps, and menorrhagia pretty much constantly, which  was getting worse and worse. I then entered early menopause, which was most likely due to the removal of the right ovary all those years ago. The left one kept having problems, including blood-filled cysts. Because of this and the threat of abnormal cells appearing again, my doctor and I decided to do a total hysterectomy including removal of the left ovary. As a result of the surgery, the medical professionals realized I had endometriosis and adenomyosis. That answered why I was bleeding and in constant pain.

My most recent surgery has now thrown me into what they call ‘surgical menopause.’ Oh the joy!

Since having my operation, I have woken up most mornings with questions. I wanted to hear about the cold, hard truth of what it was like coping day by day recovering from this surgery. I also wanted information about dealing with the lack of hormones I was now experiencing. I needed an online resource that would help me with this.

I decided to create a blog, in humorous form, to share my recovery process on a regular basis. I wanted to tell what it is like for a ‘youngish’ middle aged woman going through this ordeal.  So…. ‘What Uterus!’ was born!

I initially shared my blog with family and friends to keep them up to date on my progress. I was encouraged to go further afield so my blog could help other women in a similar situation. What Uterus helps them feel ‘normal’ and to understand that it’s okay to feel the way we do.

So ladies, please feel free to read/share my blog at I update approximately every two weeks or when I hit a milestone, and please join our Facebook group page ‘What Uterus.’ This is a page where women can share their experiences after having a hysterectomy or going through natural/surgical menopause. We’ve been sharing top tips on the different symptoms of menopause along with books and some humorous posts about menopausal women. The page allows us to laugh and cry together and create a team of strong, beautiful, and slightly hormonal women!



Facebook Page

Facebook Community Page:



Who Wants to Be Airbrushed?

Cliff and I took a cruise on the Adriatic Sea last November. Spending a week on the ship felt like we were living in a floating, glitzy village with festivities on every corner.

We loved our stateroom…

the water and the rainbows…

the walking deck…

the splashy drinks…


the spirited shows…

and the shore excursions. (I was nuts over this church in Santorini, Greece.)

The ship’s photographers pop up everywhere, especially in the evening when folks are on their way to dinner. The photographers are  VERY upbeat, and they make you feel like a model or a movie star.

The photos are posted the next day. When I saw ours, I was shocked. “They’re good!” I announced.

In a flash, Cliff went over to the counter and pulled out his credit card, something he never rushes to do. “We’ll take them,” he said to the young woman. “My wife has never liked a photo of herself before.”

On the way back to our cabin, I was pumped. “Gosh,” I said. “I do think we look pretty good in those pictures.”

“Well sure,” Cliff said. “Our wrinkles are gone.”

My heart sunk right there on that shiny stairway. We’d been airbrushed. Majorly.

So here’s the question:

Did we waste our money on photos that are fake? Or are these sweet treasures from our trip?

I did have the thought (which Cliff found morose) that the girls could display the photos at our funerals. No one would know how old we were when they were actually taken, and after all, that would give the photos more bang for their buck.

A few weeks later, I took them out of their envelope. I held one up for Cliff. “Do you want to be airbrushed?”

“On special occasions.”

Good answer. And this certainly was a special occasion. We had a blast.

Here is the real Cliff choosing red wine for his dinner on the cruise.

And here’s a not-so-great selfie of me. Note the deep wrinkles above the nose.

What about you?

Do you want to be airbrushed? Do you find the technique offensive or ageist? Does its contribute to the idea that old is ugly?

Or do you welcome some airbrushing from time to time? Do tell!


Attain: A New Product for Incontinence


A post from the makers of Attain: 

Incontinence is one of those subjects that not a lot of people talk about, but a whole lot of women experience. As a matter of fact, approximately 60 million women in the U.S. suffer with stress, urge, mixed urinary incontinence and/or bowel incontinence, and suffer in silence and embarrassment. Accidental leaking can begin after childbirth, when laughing, coughing, sneezing or running, and worsen with the natural aging process. Simply stated, the problem is pelvic floor weakness.

Many doctors tell us to do Kegels exercises to strengthen weak pelvic floor muscles, but studies show that few women do them correctly or consistently. And, there are no end to TV ads touting diapers and pads and over-the-counter vaginal cones and balls that claim to cure incontinence, but there are no scientific studies to show that these products work despite enthusiastic testimonials on the product websites.

Attain is the only FDA cleared over-the-counter medical device to treat both leaky bladders and bowels. Attain utilizes muscle stimulation, a guided exercise program, and visual biofeedback, so you know if you are doing the exercises correctly. It’s like having a personal pelvic floor physical therapist right in the privacy of your own home.

Attain is a small, painless, easy-to- use medical device that elicits a deep muscle contraction at specific frequencies and reacts to your bodies natural bio feedback to give you a customized work out as a first-line treatment, before considering surgery or medication.

Muscle stimulation increases pelvic floor muscle strength, calms the detrusor muscle, and elicits a full, deep muscle contraction, providing neuromuscular re-training. The lighted biofeedback graph and visual cues guide you through a series of variable timed, volitional contractions along with a relaxation phase, much like a physical therapy session.

A customizable probe inflates to be “comfortably snug,” placing the stimulation in full contact with the vaginal or rectal wall, ensuring a deep muscle contraction with a comfortable, effective stimulation delivery. A probe provides active resistance for a full muscle contraction, repositioning musculature into a resting position between contractions.

So, stop laughing with your legs crossed or wearing diapers or pads or even black leggings to hide your damp underwear. Together let’s put an end to the normalization of incontinence so, you can resume normal activities like walking, running, and belly laughing again.



Happy 2020 from a New Friend and Me!

I was born on the 20th of March and married on the 20th of August, so I’m excited about a year with double twenties. What about you? Any resolutions?

If you still have cookie tins sitting about, I hope you have some treats left to enjoy during the calm of January. And speaking of tins, guess what an artist can do with them!

Cliff found this wonderful boar at the Eno River Farmers Market here in Hillsborough.This spirited boar is the creation of the talented Charlotte Mansur. You can see more of Charlotte’s work on her website here. Don’t miss the video.

I’ve decided our new boar friend is a woman, so I’m calling her Ms. Boar for now. Any thoughts on a suitable first name? I love her plaid winter coat. She’s ready for some brisk January weather.

From her honored place on our wall, Ms. Boar joins me in wishing you the happiest New Year ever!

And with Charlotte Mansur’s permission, I’m posting her festive turtle below, who looks ready to welcome 2020 with a splash.

Here’s to turtles in party hats and boars in plaid jackets and whimsical artists and  holiday tins and to all of you! Happy 2020! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading Friend for the Ride.


Happy Holidays from Me to You!

My pilgrimage to the Holy Land made the Christmas story even more dear to me.

Camels are a happy part of so many nativity sets. Here’s my camel friend. We only had a minute together, but I cherished every second.

I spent a few moments with this lovely donkey too, another Christmas figure. We were in the Judean desert, where I was blown away by the view.

Countries from all over the world created mosaics of the Virgin to decorate  the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth. The one below was done in Egypt and is one of my favorites. Scroll through all of them here, noting how each country is represented in the character of the mosaic.

And I was stopped in my tracks by this painting of Mary and her baby poised on top of the moon. I  found this fresco at the Church of the Visitation in Ein Karem. This town, with its famous spring, is where Mary and her cousin Elizabeth rejoiced that they both had babies on the way.

I bet Mary and Joseph might have found a room at this inn, which looks to be a lot bigger than a stable. I snapped the photo just as we were leaving  Bethlehem.

Here I am with my fellow pilgrims singing Christmas carols earlier in the day. Indeed, it felt a lot like Christmas!

I won’t be wearing a t-shirt this Christmas in Hillsborough. Although the weather won’t be bitter, a quilted jacket is in the cards. My four grandchildren are coming my way! I pray to match their spunk, in spirit if not in body.

No matter your faith tradition, this post comes with the very best wishes for a happy holiday season.

Thanks for reading Friend for the Ride!

The candles lit St. Jacob’s Orthodox Cathedral in Jerusalem.