The Ladies Room Door Art Series: Part Thirty-three



More doors!

From daughter Laura and son-in-law Matt, Amsterdam Falalel in Dallas, Texas.

I snapped this one at the Salt Grass Steakhouse in San Marcos, Texas.


I met these cool cowboys inside the ladies room.




This is the Caso Rio on the San Antonio Riverwalk. Cliff and I spent a few nights there before we met up with the kids in Austin for Christmas.

Bella on the River in San Antonio. Wonderful Italian cuisine. We sat right by the water and waved at the passengers in the tour boats as they floated by.


Doughnuts and chocolate glaze for dessert!


We love the San Antonio Riverwalk. It’s romantic and festive. You can get some good hotel deals on Travelocity.


More drinks by the river.


On to Austin! The Pinthouse. Love those brass letters.


Now we’re in Greenpond, New Jersey. Cliff was there in the fall for his cousin’s anniversary celebration, held in the Green Pond Firehouse. The women’s room door…



And the men’s. Cliff’s cousin Robert is a fireman, and he reports that firehouses often have creative doors, connecting, hmmm…anatomy with firefighting equipment.

Susan sent us The Asian Harbor Restaurant in Durham.



From Candace, Buzz’s Roost in Georgetown, South Carolina.


I took this one at the gas station  in Haw River, North Carolina, where Cliff loves to get coffee when we start our travels West on I-40.


And from Carol, taken at Sidewall Pizza Company in Traveler’s Rest, South Carolina. Carol reports that the bunny is significant because the restaurant is close to the 25 mile +Swamp Rabbit Bike Trail. img_3367

From Lois, the Mellow Mushroom in Burlington, North Carolina. Mellow Mushrooms consistently have creative doors. You guys are mellow and fun!


Kathy sent us this unisex door from the Girl and the Fig in Sonoma, California.


Finally, if you’re in the mood to create your own bathroom art, try toilet paper tubes. Let the work of Fritz Jacquet inspire you! Check our his art here.



Nicknames: Rean-Bean? Chick? What Was Yours?


Did you have a childhood nickname? Mine was Buzz, given to me by my dad. I dropped it in college and am sorry I did. I’m working a bit to recreate it, so this post from writer Doreen Frick hit the spot.

Take it away, Doreen!

I never really liked my nickname, but it never occurred to me to ask Mom to call me something different, something more sophisticated, something grown-up. I paid no mind, chalking it up to being part of a family of seven where nicknames were part of the territory.

My name was Doreen which became Reen-Bean, which was part of the fabric of the household just like the familiar clackety-clack of the typewriters in the den and basement, the do-re-mi- notes faithfully practiced and plunked along with that horrible piano teacher (whom we now know wasn’t so horrible– he was just depressed, and Mom thought letting him teach her kids how to play would cheer him up), the garlic and lamb wafting from the kitchen, and the groans from the sister I shared a room with when I turned on the light and woke Sleeping Beauty. Family life begets familiarity. . . and familiarity breeds nicknames.

Sleeping Beauty, aka Twinkle-toes, aka my sister Diane, never minded her nickname. Diane had movie star sunglasses and struck a killer pose for photographs that stuns me even now. She was destined for the camera.

My brother Duane was called Jack Benny (do any of us even know why?), but he probably didn’t mind, or if he did, had no idea who Jack Benny was. Dead-pan humor wasn’t really Duane’s calling, imitating President Nixon later on in life was.

Dennis, my older (and apparently mischievous brother), was Dennis the Menace (minus the suspenders and cowlick), and my sister Dawn, the youngest (and loudest), was “The Screamer.”

Poor Dawn. I guess she did scream a lot when she was upstairs in her crib, but then maybe she hated being up there all by her lonesome. I understand, but back then I wasn’t sympathetic. We older kids were threatened that if we so much as woke that sleeper from her early bedtime slumber, there would be a spanking. Or worse, we’d have to go up and get her to go back to sleep and goodness knows we wouldn’t want to do that. We’d rather be outside playing with the neighbor kids.

Well Dawn, aka the Screamer, eventually outgrew her screaming and then Mom decided to nickname her “Marilyn,” which isn’t really a nickname, it’s Dawn’s middle name. Dawn, the Screamer, was named after Marilyn Monroe. I’m not sure Dawn realized that, but alas, the reasoning behind the choosing of a middle name is not known except that Marilyn was a superstar and still alive and well when Dawn was born, and Mom gave us all middle names with either an “M” or an “S.” Maybe Mom figured Marilyn was a pretty name for a girl born at the crack of dawn during the era of the beauty of the silver screen. It is a pretty name. I’m still not sure Dawn is crazy about it though.

My husband’s name is Charles Wesley, but his dad always called him “Chick,” which I just hated. It was so, I don’t even know what, it was just so not Wes. When you have such a handsome name why would someone butcher it like that? Wes tries to explain that Chick was a common name on his street. There was a “Chicky” Bell, and a Chick somewhere else down the line. Chick was a common nickname for “Charles,” but for me it denotes a fella with a pack of cigarettes rolled up in his shirtsleeve, a pair of loafers and a slicked-back greasy head of black hair and droopy eyelids, leaning against a jalopy, killing time. I could almost draw a “Chick” right here:

Or not.

Mom never gave Wes a nickname. She called him “Charles.” Like in the Little House on the Prairie TV show, when Mrs. Ingalls would look at Michael Landon and say, “Oh Charles,” my mom would tease my husband and say, “Oh Chaaaarles.” And it was super cute. She clearly loved Wes, and he her.

But I remained her Reen-Bean until one day many long years later when I tucked her in for the night. Mom couldn’t quite put her finger on my name. She quietly called out as I left the room, “Good night first-born daughter.” And I tell you right then and there I felt my heart break in two. I wanted to whisper, “Reen-Bean.”

Thanks, Doreen.

Now onto our readers! What was your nickname? Do you miss it? Does anyone still use it?

Photos: Doreen and her two sisters do a lot of reminiscing, and once in a while, call one another by the nicknames their folks used. In the middle photo, Dawn is on the ground looking up. Doreen, with darker hair, is the oldest. Diane is next to Dawn. Their creative mom, Mary Kirban, is dressed for church in the photo at the top.

Here’s Doreen now:

She’s all grown up and lives in Nebraska with her husband. Follow these links to read more of her work:


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!