St. Rictrudis, Speak to Me

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Saint Rictrudis

When I visit art museums, I like to see if the art speaks to me.

Of course art is supposed to speak to us, in the more general sense.

But I want the people in the art to use real words. I tried to get a menopausal tip from this painting by Rembrandt. I hoped the hand poised near her abdomen was a sign she had something to say girl-wise, but alas, she did not speak.

 

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Rictrudis, the lovely lady who resides in statue-form at Duke’s Nasher Museum of Art, was French and lived in the seventh century. She married Adalbald, a knight. Together, they produced four children.

But into every life, rain must fall. Rictrudis’s parents weren’t happy with the marriage, so they murdered Adalbald. Yep. Talk about conflict with the in-laws.

But Rictrudis didn’t let such tragedy curtail her energetic spirit. Defying pressure to remarry, she started a convent at Marchiennes and became the first abbess.

I stood in front of her. Our trip to the Nasher was my first venture into the world after cancer surgery. I’d spent the last three weeks mostly on the couch. Tonight the museum felt so real, so colorful, so filled with treasure, so alive.

Speak to me, St. Rictrudis.

Rien. Nothing.

My French is tres mauvais, so if she had used words, I wouldn’t have caught them anyway.

But beyond words, the look on her face and Rictrudis’s story tells me this: When life gets tough, the tough keep going. I knew that.

But it’s helpful to be reminded by a wooden lady carved centuries ago.

 

Another Shot

To learn more about Rictrudis and the work done to restore her statue, check out the article from the Nasher Museum of Art.

And BTW, I did have a statue smile at me. Cliff said the other day, “I thought you made it up!” No! This truly happened, albeit the sun was bright.

The Ladies Room Door Art Series: Part Six

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Women

A whole new year full of ladies room doors! Here we go!

The lovely red door above is from the Commonwealth Restaurant and Skybar on the mall in Charlottesville, Virginia.

My friend Susan found the elegant door below in the lobby of the Hotel Adlon in Berlin.

Hotel Adlon Lobby

And Susan bumped into this one at the McDonald’s near Checkpoint Charlies in Berlin.

McDonalds

Blog reader Judy went to Ireland in the fall and met up with this sign in a pub called Hole in the Wall in Dublin.  Mna is women in Gaelic.

Irish Pub

and Judy saw this at Nancy’s Hands Pub in Dublin.

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My friend Margot discovered this door at the Charleston Crab House in South Carolina.

She crabs

And from inside that bathroom, I present a first for Friend for the Ride: decorated stall doors!

Bathroom in Crab pot in Charleston

 

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On a recent visit with daughter Kath and grandson Mazen to the Pediatric Associates in Charlottesville, I admired these way cool unisex doors.

 

Lots more to come!

And please, bring your camera to the potty and send me those doors. My email’s on the right.

Menopause: Hello Blank Stare

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Jen bling from Zoe

 A post by Jennifer Delabar

I want to thank Barbara for inviting me to share my tale of woe about menopause.

What can I tell you about menopause that you don’t already know? My story, I’m sure, is a common one. It started with my missing a period here and there starting around age 40 (when my gynecologist advised me that I was just “getting old”), to the present day, when I’m 48 and not too happy with Mother Nature.

I’m too young to be in menopause” I kept expressing to anyone who would listen! I was under the mistaken belief that only women over 50 had to think about menopause.

No one can prepare you for what happens to you when your period finally stops coming. You actually miss those horrible cramps, ruined underpinnings, Dorito binges and black rage weeks. At least with the menstrual cycle there was an end in sight. With menopause there is no hormonal drop at the end of the cycle. It’s crazy-time all the time.

I had gone to my mother as most of us do, for some answers. She told me “I don’t remember going through it”. Thanks, mom.

Back to square one. I was desperate to talk to someone about what was happening in my life. I would be in line at the bank or the grocery store, beads of sweat forming on my forehead and under my eyes, and look at the person behind me and say, “They should really turn up the air conditioning; it’s so warm in here.” Hello blank stare. It was January.

Garage sales were always a big draw for me. Lots of people milling around, there must be other menopausal women there that could commiserate with me! But the only comment I ever received was a disheartening “Oh yeah the hot flashes never go away.”

So alone with nowhere to turn! It’s been three years and countless buckets of sweat have escaped from my pores since my last period. I no longer look for answers from strangers. I have found that most women don’t want to talk about it. We are like a secret society that no one wants to belong to!

I tried to talk to my friends about menopause.They were still getting their periods, and they couldn’t understand what I was going through. They didn’t know how to respond. I could feel their fear and pity looking back at me. Secretly in my evil menopausal brain, I couldn’t wait until they entered menopause and then they would come crawling to me, looking desperately for the answers to those “why” questions.

Why so many hot flashes, why the crying without cause, the depression, why the loss of a sex drive, why the loss of feeling feminine?

I will look at them lovingly and say “I don’t remember.”

Jenifer Delabar is the divorced mother of one awesome son, who is 22 years old. She’s a student of Buddhism. She lives on Long Island and works as a legal secretary and has a degree in funeral service.  Jennifer loves to read, learn, practice yoga and never stops asking questions.

From Barbara: I too, found that many women either didn’t remember menopause or didn’t have much to say when I asked them. That’s why I started this blog. I thank all of you for chiming in with your own experiences!

Downsizing: Up to the Attic!

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Puzzles

I’d love to travel back in time! My first choice is America in the first part of the twentieth century. Second would be dinosaur days. I’d bring my grandson Mazen with me, and we’d watch the dinosaur world from the top of very safe mountain.

This summer, Cliff and I climbed into a real time machine. We went up the ladder to our attic and dealt with thirty years worth of stuff.

I was amazed at our discoveries, including posters from my high school bedroom; sturdy wooden puzzles just right for grandson Mazen; my great-aunt’s tray table, now on the back porch; and Katherine’s Jem lunchbox, a prize for giving up her pacifier at age four.

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Why do attics hold such mystique?

Things stored in basements or garages may be part way out the door, but if it goes up in the attic, someone has made a decision that the item has merit, often of  a sentimental nature. And once an item is up there, it hides away until someone comes looking.

Attic

Our attic is now empty except for Christmas decorations and American Girl doll clothes and accessories, with hopes of a little girl in our future. I kept some of the treasures we found. The rest went to Goodwill and the recycling shed.

Empty Attic

As much as I was itching to tackle our attic, I’m feeling wistful now that it’s empty. Clearing the attic, like a milestone birthday or a child’s wedding, reminds me that a lot of years went by really fast.

But at least I’ve got the puzzles and posters to prove it.