Gingerbread to All

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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.

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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

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Ladies Room Door Art Series: Part Thirty

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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.

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

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

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

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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!

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.”
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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: