Children, Life, Menopause, Music, Shopping, Stress

Feeling Rattled?

The Great Big Bad Hormones of PMS or Menopause sure can rattle a girl.  And of course sometimes life itself adds to the clatter.

I read once that when things are so crazy you feel like a Mexican Jumping Bean,to try some slow motion.  Pretend you’re a turtle or a sloth.  (Well actually, the pretending part is my idea.)

SLOWLY put the dress back on the hanger.  The mug  in the dishwasher.  The cell phone in the charger.  Think of the nun at the abbey gate in The Sound of Music:  “Slowly, Sister, slowly.”

S….. L….. O….. W….. L…..Y

Doing a chore or even part of one in slow motion is hard, almost painful.  It goes against the core of our efficient adult selves.   But in those slow moments, even if they only last a few seconds, you feel life differently.

You remember the excellent dinner you enjoyed while wearing the dress. Smile about the silly mug your boss gave you in December.  Relive the last phone call you received:  some super cool news from  your son.

Rattles don’t calm babies.  They set them laughing, wiggling, and kicking, but have you ever tried to rush a baby or a toddler?  Can’t really be done.  They must know something we know-it-all grownups don’t.

Feel the calm of slow motion the next time you’re stressed.  And in that instant, hear the rattle of your life silence itself, even if just for one slow, peaceful moment.

Photo:  Since I have a grandchild on the way, I have rattles on my mind–the good kind.  I don’t think I’ll let the baby play with this antique celuloid model.  That rattle will remain on a high shelf, but if Baby wants brand new rattles, Grandma will take them off the toy store shelf faster than you can say “Do-re-mi.”

Quotes from The Sound of Music In a slow moment, check out these quotes from the movie!  I was amazed how many lines I knew.

Celebrations, Hot Flashes, Menopause, Menopause Symptoms, Mood, Music

Guest Post and a Giveaway: Bring Out Your Inner Dragon!

A guest post by my friend Minnilue :

Finally– a holiday that embraces menopausal women.  The Chinese New Year starts on January 23. Get out your noise-makers ladies, the Year of the Dragon is almost upon us. In Chinese Astrology, dragons are special and revered, so wipe out your western view of Smaug or Puff. These dragons are a symbol of power and wisdom.

I searched online, and found a western definition of Menopause that called it “a normal phase in a woman’s life.” How boring-sounding is that? I don’t know about you, but menopause was anything but normal to me.  I prefer the Chinese medicine definition I found that said menopause is “a natural change that creates an imbalance in the body.”

I had a washing machine that worked well for years and years. It washed baby diapers, shin guards, jammies, occasional rocks and Ninja Turtles. Suddenly one day it bucked, bumped, and spun out of control–leaking water all over the floor. The red light flashed “IMBALANCE” over and over—“Danger Will Robinson!” After a day or so, I got it to work (well, at least on the Delicate cycle. The Normal cycle never worked again. ) After another year, it finally stopped. I just got a new washer. It washes and behaves well, but without the thrill of the bang and clang, washing clothes is “normal and boring” again.

You have to admit that a fire-breathing dragon, like menopause, does lend itself to drama and aura. Hot flashes—once they start, there’s no going back. Mood swings? “The dragon made me do it.” But hang in there. One day menopause will be over, and your body will be back in better balance–whatever that means.

Lucky Envelope Giveaway:  For a chance to win a Good Luck Chinese Envelope, please tell the Dragon about a change you fantasize happening in your life (or a friend’s life) in the New Year OR what dragon in literature or mythology is your favorite dragon.  Send entry by Friday at noon,E.S.T.  Winners will be chosen at random.

For further reading check out:   and

Read about your animal sign according to birth year:  

The Dragon:  A Google Image search found this handsome dragon here.

Minnilue  lives with her husband, Tom, ‘Fraidy Cat, and a new washer with the Normal cycle. The rest of her life is a combination of Normal cycle and Year of the Dragon.

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Aging, Losing a Parent, Music

Bringing Back Dad

At the memorial service for my dad, my nephew, Chris Kiehne, sang a John Denver song:

Still I love to see the sun go down

And the world go around

And I love to see the morning

As it steals across the sky

I love to remember

And I love to wonder why

“Around and Around” was the perfect choice for celebrating Dad’s great zest for the world.  Thank you, Chris.  (I get a real kick that my nephew even knows who John Denver is.  I thought only old fogies like me know John Denver.)

My father died, still exuberant at 92, while taking what was supposed to be a short nap.  My mother went to wake him and he was gone.  Still in his bed, but gone.

I had a moment when I realized that my father was really dead.  I stepped in the study and saw, on the bookshelves, his CDs.

Dad adored music.  Now he would never play his beloved CDs.   Never listen to “God of Our Fathers” or “A Mighty Fortress” on Sunday morning before church.  Never blast John Philip Sousa on the Fourth of July or Ray Conniff at Christmas.  Never slip on my favorite songs just for me  or play “Alberta Bound” to remind my daughters of the fun they had dancing to the song  when they were little.

“Take some of his CDs,” my mom said, and I did.

But I didn’t play them.  Couldn’t.  Too sad.

I had a few dreams that my father wasn’t really dead.   He called us up.  “I’m fine,” he said standing in a phone booth.  (He wasn’t much for cell phones.)  “I’ll be home soon.”

But he didn’t come home.

And for about six months I had the strange feeling that I could bring him back.  Yes, me.  (Hey, it’s not that weird.  Joan Didion recounts a similar idea in The Year of Magical Thinking.)

But Dad didn’t reappear.  And his CDs sat on my kitchen shelf.  Silent.

But then one day I put one on. And then another and another.  Gordon Lightfoot.  Phantom of the Opera.  Mama Mia. Simon and Garfunkel.  Peter, Paul and Mary.  South Pacific.  The Drifters.  Mitch Miller.  Willie Nelson.  Glen Campbell.  John Denver.

Dad in the music!  Dad in my kitchen!  Back to life.  Not in the same way, but still, back to life.

Photo Above One of the last pictures of my father, Ernie Kiehne, taken in his office in Baltimore for an article in The Baltimore Sun.

Photo Below At my daughter Katherine’s wedding, with me, June, 2007.

My nephew, Chris Kiehne, is a singer/songwriter who lives in Brooklyn.  He says:  “I write songs about dogs, wolves, Hamlet, living and dying, Baltimore County, the Loch Raven reservoir, and dark forests.  A lot of the music that my friends and I make is available for free download at our collective website,  You can also listen to music online at”

“Around and Around”:   You can hear John Denver singing his magnificent “Around and Around” here.  Of course, even though he wrote the song, John doesn’t sing it nearly as well as my nephew did that August 2010  morning.

PS:  Dad was an Orioles fan, therefore the touches of orange in this post.  He loved classical music as well, especially Brahams and Beethoven, but mom asked that I leave the classical CDs for her.  I also left some I thought my brother, a musician too, would like.