Tag Archives: Periods

Smokey the Bear: Menopause Gladness



The other day, when Cliff and I were furniture shopping, I studied the adorable young saleswoman helping us. She didn’t seem as lively as the last time we met with her. “Maybe she has cramps,” I said to myself. “Poor thing.”

Cramps are tricky because women are reluctant to announce they have them, and most women look just fine. No crutches or poison ivy splotches or sneezing to announce the malady. Megan just seemed what my friend Judy calls “droopy.”

When you’re finished having periods, you mostly forget about them. Every now and then, I think: wow, women all around me are still having periods. Then my mind floats back to the cramps I once had, the flooding incidents as menopause sunk in, the girlhood days of worrying about periods at the pool or beach. Phew. Been there. Done that.

And that brings me to my Smokey the Bear story.

We go to the North Carolina State Fair every near. I mean EVERY year (or Cliff gets droopy). But the most dramatic year was the year my cramps took me by surprise (about 2009 or so). I couldn’t get the pain med into me fast enough. I passed out right under the giant Smokey the Bear.

Cliff caught me and got me over to a nearby log. When I opened my eyes, I looked into his face and thought: He’s still such a cute man.

My cramps passed about twenty minutes later, which put me in a festive mood as we walked from the onion ring booth to the milking demonstration to the state’s largest pumpkin.

“That was so romantic,” I said a few times, my arm looped around his. “You caught me just like a man catches his leading lady in an old time movie.”

“Barbara, ” Cliff finally replied, “That was NOT romantic. I thought you’d had a stroke. For a few seconds, I was terrified  you were dead.”

That’s the good thing about cramps. They don’t kill you, but every time I see Smokey, I’m glad those days are over.

And I’m glad Cliff was scared that ALL MY DAYS might have been over. Shows he’s in this for the long haul.

I get why he was worried. While this close-to-menopausal woman didn’t look like a glamorous starlet fainting on the silver screen, I’m a heck of a lot of fun at the North Carolina State Fair.

For those of you who are finished, do you think about periods anymore? For those of you still having them, what do you look forward to the most when those days are over?

Speaking of periods, a friend sent me links to two articles about periods. This one discusses work policy and periods. The times they are a changin’. And this one debunks the idea that women who live together find their cycles synchronizing. 

Falling Off the Roof


For your viewing pleasure, a painting created exclusively for Friend for the Ride:

Falling Off the Roof

My mom painted this young lady falling off the roof, inspired by a recent conversation with her friends.

During their high school and college days, in the forties and fifties, Mom said they felt oh so sophisticated confiding in one another:  “I fell off the roof.”

Meaning:  “It’s that time of the month.”

We wondered where this expression came from.

I had no luck googling, so I checked with Harry Finley at MUM, the Museum of Menstruation.

Harry doesn’t know either, but he remembers a visitor to the museum in 1994 who was writing a book on expressions.   The writer thought “falling off the roof” came from the Pennsylvania Dutch.

Perhaps, but when I reported this back to Mom, she commented that the  girls in Baltimore and the girls she met at Duke certainly knew it too.

Harry’s MUM site boasts an incredible online archive of materials related to menstruation.

A pamphlet titled As One Girl to Another, is dated 1943.

Produced by Kotex, the page below refers to the “crazy nicknames” girls have for their periods.

Yep, one of those crazy nicknames is “falling off the roof.”

Menstruation Booklet

But I still have no idea where the expression came from.

Any ideas?

Falling Off the Roof

My mom, Nancy Kiehne, paints in acrylics and watercolor. To see more of her work, check out her Tumblr site.

The Moon and The Menses – aka The Lunar Link


Moons - Perigee and Apogee

A post in honor of the moon by writer Patti Winker:

The full moon is upon us.  And, not just any full moon, a supermoon.

The word ‘supermoon’ refers to a full moon at perigee, the point in the lunar orbit when the moon is closest to the earth. It’s a pretty cool full moon as it appears to be much larger than a regular full moon.

But, aside from the awesome spectacle of a supermoon, why is this important and what does it have to do with the subject of our menses?  Plenty.

There is the linguistic connection between the moon and the menses, of course.  The words come from the Latin mensis (month), which derives from the Greek meis/mens/men/mene (moon).

So, this we know; month-moon-menses, all related at the root.

But, it goes further than that, at least for me.

First, I have to admit to being ‘moonstruck.’

I was born and raised watching the moon rise over the river. It held a fascination for me. A huge orange Harvest Moon or giant white Snow Moon have always been, and always will be, thrilling to me.

I think that’s why I was keenly aware of one little bit of information that many of my girlfriends glossed over when we learned about menstruation.

It was suggested (by the menstruation authorities who gave us Very Personally Yours and Growing Up And Liking It) that our cycle would typically be 28 days.  Interesting.

I made the connection.  The phases of the moon are about 28 days, too.

Coincidence?  Maybe.

But, just in case, I made sure my ‘discreet calendar’ included the phases of the moon.

For decades, as recommended by the authorities, I kept my little calendar and counted the days, making my ‘X’s along the way.  However, the whole 28 day thing never really panned out.  So, I thought, “What do they know.”

Then I moved from Wisconsin to Florida.

As I merrily made my ‘X’s through the months, I noticed a very strange thing happening. My periods started getting closer and closer together.  Was this just a symptom of perimenopause?

After about six months, I noticed a pattern emerge… and stick. Another month.  Another month.  Another month.  It was undeniable.  I have the little ‘X’s to prove it.

My period started each month on the full moon.

It finally came true.  It took moving closer to the ocean for it to happen, but my body had finally synched with the moon.

Coincidence?  Science says there is no proof of lunar affect on humans.  I say science is wrong.

My girlfriends pooh-poohed the notion that somehow the cycle of our periods were connected to the phases of the moon.

Perhaps we just lived too far away from the pull of the tides.

Or maybe it just takes a lunatic such as myself to actually be affected, both body and soul, by the moon.

Either way, I’m going to enjoy basking in the glow of this month’s full moon – the supermoon.

Oh, and in case you think menopause puts a halt to all that moon cycle stuff, it doesn’t.  I still have the same crazy symptoms every full moon.

And, in the words of the great lyricist, pianist, and singer of songs, Billy Joel: “You may be right. I may be crazy. But it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for.”

Thank you, Barbara, for allowing me to share my craziness with your readers.  I hope you enjoyed it and get a chance to also enjoy the supermoon.

About the author :

Patti Winker writes about topics that she and others of “a certain age” are concerned about.  In her blog, RemarkableWrinklies.com, you’ll find thoughts and information on aging well, health and fitness, having a bit of fun, a few debates, and some nostalgia thrown in.  She likes spending time with her grandkids and family, cooking, biking, swimming, walking, and going to the beach. She enjoys nature, but also appreciates a big city.  Patti is a contributing writer in our Tangerine Tango collaboration, and you’ll often find her here commenting and guest posting from time to time. Click these links to read more:

Pushing Fifty Or Pushing Puberty

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things


About the image:

The comparison in sizes of a full moon at perigee (left) and at apogee (right) is an illustration based on Galileo spacecraft images.

Image Credit: NASA

Is God a Girl?


In my Lutheran childhood, I always thought of God as a man, with a grandfather-like appearance. White hair. Beard. (But a robe instead of the blue seersucker suit my grandpa wore.)

Then, as the woman’s movement took hold, we began to hear God referred to, sometimes, as a SHE.

About that time, my PMS and cramps set in.

Would a woman/God do this to another woman?

Not a prayer!

There is no way, I figured, that God could have even an ounce of womanliness. If God were a she, SHE would have designed us a different way. I like the baby part. I liked being pregnant and of course, am nuts over my grownup babies.  But really, couldn’t God have skipped all the cycle stuff?

I’ve been a Presbyterian for thirty-five years now. I asked our minister, Dr. Brizendine, a few months ago, if God was a she or  even part she. This is what he wrote:

Male and female are genders of the created order.  God is … “other” than the created order.  Thus, it would not be appropriate to attribute any gender to God…  As we attempt to describe our relationship with God, we may use figures of speech, saying that God is like a mother or a father, but this does not mean that God has a gender.

So God is an OTHER.

I like the concept of “other.”

God is not a man who stuck all this to women.

God is not a woman who ditzed on her own sex.

Good, that works to some extent.

I was contemplating this post in church on Sunday, when we sang the old hymn, “There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy.”

A line goes: “For the love of God is broader, than the measures of the mind.”

I think that means my limited mind just can’t wrap itself around the whys of God’s plan for making babies.

But I will say, now that I am finished with periods, and now that I have a grandchild on the way, (who got his start in the uterine lining), the plan is seeming better to me. Babies and grandbabies are worth a lot of periods, all in all.

Thanks, God.

We women sure do love babies.

Maybe you have just a little bit of girl in  you after all?

Photo Above: Hillsborough Presbyterian Church, in the center of my little town, was founded in 1816.

Photo Below: My daughter Katherine, mother of my soon to be born grandson, was married to  Matthew Monson at the church in June of 2007. Dr. Brizendine officiated.

Photos were taken by Acorn Photography.

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