Insomnia: My Latest Technique



I’ve been a poor sleeper since I turned thirty-five, so insomnia wasn’t a new issue for me when the Change of Life stepped in. But for many, insomnia begins with menopause, adding even more stress to life with wonky hormones. No matter when it starts, insomnia is the pits. Truly. Once awake, your mind can spin and spin and spin, often with worries and concerns that seem to take on gargantuan significance at three AM.

“I feel like I can hear your thoughts bouncing around,” Cliff said to me once.

“If I could just chop off my head,” I answered. “I could go back to sleep!”

(I’m not actually sure that would work, as wouldn’t my head still be awake?)

A month ago, I read yet another article on insomnia. This one describes a breathing pattern to put your back to sleep.

I’ve never been into breathing beyond its usefulness in staying alive. The concept of deep breaths and patterned breaths has always felt like a lot of work. But anything to cure my insomnia. I gave it a whirl.

Here’s what you do:  You breathe in through your nose for four seconds. Hold the breath for seven seconds. Then you release it through your mouth for eight seconds. Read about it here. (Sorry about the annoying ads, but it’s a good article.) And here.

For the first week, the breathing technique worked like a miracle. After that week, it didn’t work every night. But even two months later, I do believe it’s helping me go back to sleep at least fifty percent of the time. I don’t always do the seven seconds of outward breath through my mouth. I don’t want Cliff to think he’s sleeping in a wind tunnel. But another article I found suggests it’s the inward breath through the nose that’s most important.

Dr. Weil, a huge advocate of holistic breathing, says this about the technique: “Breathing strongly influences physiology and thought processes, including moods. By simply focusing your attention on your breathing and without doing anything to change it, you can move in the direction of relaxation.”

So fellow insomniacs, give it a try! Let us know if it helps. It sure seems easier than chopping off your own head.

The statue above is St. Denys, ca. 1490, probably from Northwest France. The statue now totes his head in the Bode Musem in Berlin.

He’s one of the Cephalophoric saints, which means a saint carrying his or her own head. My scholar friend Ken Ostrand writes, “Apparently one issue is: Where to put the saintly halo?  On the head the saint is holding or above his neck?”

Maybe the artists pondered that problem in the middle of the night! That’s when my problems seem to rear their heads the highest. Read more about cephalophoric saints in this article. They are usually figures of saints who were beheaded.

Our Golden Books (and a Golden Book Giveaway)



Nothing zips me back in time faster than seeing the cover of a Golden Book I loved.


2017 marks the 75th anniversary of Golden Books, launched in October 1942 during World War II. With their small, uniform trim size, bright illustrations, and 25 cent price tag, they were a hit with kids and adults. For the first time, good books for children were for sale in grocery, drug, and department stores.


Some of the finest artists for children such as Alice and Martin Provensen, Richard Scary, Garth Williams, and Eloise Wilkin, illustrated Golden Books. Author Margaret Wise Brown, best known for Goodnight Moon, was a champion of Golden Books. Some children’s librarians and educators believed the books were too scant, too simplistic, and poorly printed. Brown disagreed. And she thought Golden Books were important because now all children could have their own books.


This was Cliff’s favorite. He might not want me to announce it to the world, but we discussed this book on our very first date!


And this was my favorite. I had a toy bunny I adored, so that’s perhaps why I loved this story. (My favorite page was the candy store page!) Baby Bunny wants to grow up to be, more than anything else, a daddy bunny. Now that’s a progressive thought coming from a time when sex roles were stricter.


Candy store page

Don’t miss this short video put together for the anniversary celebration.

My Golden Books are packed. They escaped downsizing and are coming with me to our new house.

What about you? Did you save your Golden Books? Do you have a favorite?

Boxed Set

Giveaway: In honor of the anniversary, I’m giving a away a boxed Golden Book set. Read more about the boxed set here. To enter the giveaway, simply post a comment by May 20. Thanks! (Comment link is at the bottom.)

Happy Birthday, Golden Books!


Sauerkraut Party: Here’s to Healthy Eating!


A guest post from my friend Gail Crane:

Growing up, I remember my mom opening a can of sauerkraut and heating it up for dinner. I didn’t like it and refused to eat it.  But I am significantly older now, and my tastes have changed along with my interest in healthier eating.  My stomach issues have led me to do research on ways to heal my stomach.  And that has led me to fermented foods.

Much is being published about how having a healthy gut is important for our overall health.  Eating fermented, probiotic foods—sauerkraut, yogurt, raw cheese, kimchi, natto, tempeh, miso, pickled vegetables and fruits and Kombucha—promotes gut health, which helps us have a stronger immune system.

So my friends Emily and Carol, who are also interested in eating healthier, and I decided to get together to make a batch of sauerkraut.  A sauerkraut party! Ok!  Lets get this party going! Get your hands in the bowl of cabbage and massage and squeeze!

Fermented sauerkraut is made with brine and not vinegar.  It really is very easy to make especially thanks to the many recipes online.

This is how we make our sauerkraut:

3 pounds purple or green organic cabbage (We used a combination of purple and green cabbage.)

1 ½ tablespoons of kosher or celtic sea salt

Shred or cut the cabbage and put into a large mixing bowl.  Add the salt and massage and squeeze the cabbage with your hands for approximately 10 minutes until the cabbage becomes watery and limp.

Next, put the cabbage into canning jars and pack it in tightly by pressing it down with your fist.  You want the cabbage to have some liquid covering it.  Then cover it with a leaf of the cabbage to keep it under the liquid.

Put the lids on the jars (not tight) and sit them in a pan or on a plate (the fermenting will cause them to overflow).  Let them sit out of direct sunlight and at a temperature of 65 to 75 degrees, and let the fermenting begin. We have found that it takes 2-3 weeks for the cabbage to taste fermented, but you can start tasting it sooner. Once fermented, tighten the lids and keep in the refrigerator for 2 months or longer.  Emily, Carol, and I like our sauerkraut cold instead of warmed up.

This was a very different type of party and a time of fun and conversation as we made a healthy food for ourselves and our families.  You should try it!  (Look up recipes online as they have a lot of necessary and helpful hints to make successful sauerkraut.)

Gail Crane is a long-time friend who is spending her retirement trying out lots of new ventures such as making fermented foods, mixing up her own skin care products, and learning to paint with acrylics with Barbara.

The Ladies Room Door Art Series: Cabo San Lucas!



In February, Cliff and I spent a week in Cabo, Mexico. We stayed in the more artsy town of San Jose del Cabo. We ventured by bus twice to nearby Cabo San Lucas, which my daughter Laura defines as “The Spring Break Place.”

We arrived at the Aeropuerto Internacional de Los Cabos, where I quickly snapped the ladies room door sign above. I love the colors and tiles and quirkiness of Mexican decor.

The Cabo Azul Resort is wonderful. Right on the water. The world’s friendliest waitstaff. Gorgeous pools. Excellent food. Just AVOID the fabulous free breakfast with the time share talk from eternity afterwards…

I admired the stone ladies room signs throughout the resort.


And the sinks.


We caught a Duke Basketball game at the Baha Brewing Company.



I admired the snazzy mule tiles in the stalls


And on the wall near the sinks.


Here are the bathroom signs at the Tropicana Inn, where we enjoyed dinner one evening.


Love these signs at La Pesca. Quite dramatic!

gentsI like the plain painted doors inside the ladies room at La Pesca too.


And the tiles.tiles

The whole place was funky and fun and the strawberry margarita hit the spot.

Laura told us not to miss a a restaurant on the beach in Cabo san Lucas called “The Office.” Here’s a sign that leads  to the potties.


And here are the bathroom doors.



These are the most artistic flushing instructions I’ve ever seen.


Look a the handle to a stall!

And check out the tiles on the wall inside the stall.

Another restaurant, La Galeria.


Never seen such fabulous pink walls.


But I wasn’t so sure about the cleaning supplies in the corner.


And I wonder if the dolls on the wall of the restaurant are living a good life, as far as doll lives go.


This was a first! On the way to the ladies room at Mi Casa, one of the waiters offered to take my picture next to these distinguished gentlemen.


The metal sign above the door.


Here’s the sign over the men’s room. I wonder what the exact message is here.


The metal handle on the stall in the ladies room.door-handle

The stall door.stall-door

Captain Tony’s on the harbor in Cabo san Lucas. I dont know if Ernest Hemingway traveled to Cabo, but it seemed like a bar he might have appreciated.




The famous Cabo Wabo in Cabo San Lucas. Talk about colorful!


I tried to write FRIEND FOR THE RIDE with my ballpoint pen, but alas, it didn’t show up. Wish I’d had a marker with me.



I sure hope Sam had a good birthday!



That wraps up my Cabo edition of the Ladies Room Door Art Series.  The creative bathroom doors  I found reflect the whimsy and artistry of this spirited land.




Let’s not build walls…