Downsizing: Let the Show Go On!



The downsizing continues at our house!

I’ve donated items to our local relief agency. I’ve provided auction items for the Burwell School, an historic school here in Hillsborough. I’ve sent vintage clothing to the Theater Development Fund in New York. The fund supplies costumes to theater groups across the United States. I’ve taken cartons of books to our library’s book sale.

And here’s my latest project!

Orange Community Players is putting on Arsenic and Old Lace at the end of February. They needed fuddy duddy antiques for the set. (That’s my choice of words). The set’s creator, Bob Sharp, called. “Barbara, we thought of you. Do you have furniture we could borrow?”

Did I! Bob came and picked out chairs, an old dresser to serve as a sideboard, and a Victorian settee.These are pieces I don’t plan to move to the new house. Then it hit me: Someone in the show, helping with the show, or attending the show might want to buy a piece of my furniture. So I offered Bob a deal. They help sell my furniture (word of mouth and a note in the program), and the money will go right to Orange Community Players.


I  did a Facebook post of the furniture leaving my driveway. We’ve got a sale of the needlepoint chairs! Thank you, Robin.

We’ll see if the rest of the pieces sell. Hope so! But no matter what, it’s going to be fun to sit in the audience and admire antiques that have served me loyally over the years. I just hope soon, they’ll serve someone else who will love them too.


The Theater Development Fund accepts donations of clothing for their wardrobe collection. Email them, and if you have items they want, they’ll pay the postage. Read more here.

Do Big Girls Cry?



As a little girl, I remember sitting on our back steps, sobbing about something.

“Dad,” my brother said, “can you die from crying?”

My father, perhaps fed up with my waterworks, answered,”I suppose you could.”

Instantly, I stopped crying.

But I can promise you a day or two later, I cried about something else.

Can you remember your cries? I can, lots of them.

A brother’s teasing. Anger at a parent’s restrictions. The friend fights. The cruel boss. The marriage conflicts. The loss of a pregnancy. The illness of a parent. The death of pet.

Sometimes we cry  for no precise reason, just because life piles up and topples over. Those cries often feel the best.

Can you remember the places you’ve cried?  I can.

On the floor by my bed at age ten. In the hall at high school, hoping no on noticed. In the shower in the dorm, where no one could notice. On a walk. In the car. The middle of the night on the couch, when the rest of the household is asleep.

When menopause set in, my crying stopped. Life was calm then, so perhaps that’s why, but for a while I thought it was the change in hormones.

And you know what? That lack of crying felt odd to me–almost like I’d lost a part of myself.

I shouldn’t have worried. Two years later, the tears came back. I don’t cry like a preschooler or a high schooler or a thirty-year old, but I’m back to crying if it fits the bill.

So I guess the answer is, big girls really do cry. And we’re glad of it! Crying has both psychological and physical benefits. Scientists promise us that tears have a happy purpose.

What about you? Do you cry more or less now that you’re older?

Here’s an interesting article about crying on the website How Stuff Works. The writer points out that many men find themselves starting to cry at midlife. Scientists suspect this is a lowering of testosterone combined with the lack of inhibition that can strike when men are in their fifties and sixties.

Photo: I snapped this photo when I toured the Durham Performing Arts Center a few years ago. I wrote about the tour on this Friend for the Ride post.  I suspect the signatures are members of the Four Seasons. Love this song!

March On!



When the women’s movement ramped up in the sixties, my mom embraced it. Her enthusiasm helped me champion women’s rights too. Years later, I made certain my own daughters understood the women’s movement. I wanted them to really get that life had opened up for them thanks to the women who fought in decades past.

Of all the photos from Saturday’s marches, this is my favorite. My friend Lindsley went to D.C., bringing with her four kitty hats made by another Hillsborough friend. She gave two of the hats to sisters riding the metro with their mom en route to the march. What a story they’ll tell of their day in Washington. Girl power! Women power! March on!

In case you missed the collection of photos put together by the New York Times, here they are, from sea to shining sea and across the world.



The Ladies Room Door Art Series: Czech Republic Edition



In October, Cliff and I took a trip to Austria and then met up with Dr. Ken Ostrand. Ken led us on a tour of Kutna Hora and Prague. Our journey to the Czech Republic was a trip of trips, with some of the most creative ladies room doors I’ve ever found.

These green doors grace the Restaurant Kometa in Kutna Hora.


Here I tasted spiced lemonade


and fried cheese, which was delicious, but I’m not sure it’s what the doctor would have me order.


Here are the doors at Harmonia, where our group dined our first night in Kutna Hora.



I was charmed by the interior of the ladies room. Great colors!


And funky green paper towels.


The view from our hotel.


My traveling companions soon learned of my ladies room door mission and pointed them out to me. Erikca ate lunch at the Villa U Varhanare and discovered this seated little lady.


Not sure where I found this silhouette with the pony tail.


This is the door at the Medieval Silver Mine. I was pleased to traverse the low and narrow passages of the mine without incident, but what an awful life those miners led. At least, as our guide pointed out, the miners were well paid.

Inside the ladies room, I found this notice near the toilet. I don’t speak Czechoslovakian but figured out what the sign means by the word “hygienicke.”


Late one night, Cliff, Ken, and I went for beers at the Restaurant Dacicky. This painting on the bar’s door stopped me in my tracks. The colors and whimsical design reminded me so much of my mom’s art.


The restroom doors have an upbeat folk art style to them too.

On to Prague! On our first evening there, a few of us went to the Hibernia. I made the trek downstairs to this ladies room. What a find!




They even have artwork in the stalls.

I was in dessert heaven when I came back upstairs.


Our group enjoyed lunch at the Lobkowicz Palace Restaurant. The restaurant features ornate decor, including the ladies room door.

Not sure where I found this stylish lady with a feather in her cap.


Or this simple outline of a woman.20161005_122606

We had a festive group dinner at Kotleta on our last night. Ken had checked out the restaurant ahead of time. “You follow the green line to the ladies room,” he said beforehand. I wondered what he meant.

Sure enough, this line on the floor lights the way to the restrooms, which are downstairs.



With a touch too much Czech beer, it can take one a second to figure out which door is which.

The ladies…


And the men’s.capture

I loved our time in the Czech Republic. I especially appreciated the architecture and the history and the chance to observe what life was like in a place that not so long ago was a Communist nation.

And I got a kick out of how brave and strong the women sound when they speak. Cliff jumped when a woman fussed at him for taking a photo of the bread display in a grocery store. We have no idea why photos aren’t allowed, but he took no chances disobeying a voice that strident.

But back to the doors. Anyone have a favorite of the ones I’ve shown you? Mine is the green door at the top. That woman has style, and she’s merely striking a pose. Now that’s confidence!