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Nancy Bowman
Hysterical Fem-Hy Humor
Healthy Living, Other Topics
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Woman Writes This Letter To A Maxi Pad Company


Woman Writes This Letter To A Maxi Pad Company And It’s The Funniest Thing You’ll Read Today

An excerpt:  “For the love of God, pull your head out, man! If you have to slap a moronic message on a maxi pad, wouldn’t it make more sense to say something that’s actually pertinent, like ‘Put down the Hammer’ or ‘Vehicular Manslaughter is Wrong’.”

Link to Woman’s Hysterical Letter

I think she managed to encapsulate what most women have thought at some point or another.  Would you agree?

More Fem-Hy Humor:   See this exchange from Bodyform (a UK feminine hygiene company) to a Facebook rant, in which a man hilariously bemoans the false advertising around fem-hy products:

He says: “As a man I must ask why you have lied to us for all these years. As a child I watched your advertisements with interest as to how at this wonderful time of the month that the female gets to enjoy so many things, I felt a little jealous. I mean bike riding, roller-coasters, dancing, parachuting, why couldn’t I get to enjoy this time of joy and blue water and wings!! Dam my penis!!”

Then I got a girlfriend, was so happy and couldn’t wait for this joyous adventurous time of the month to happen … lied!!… There was no joy, no extreme sports, no blue water spilling over wings and no rocking soundtrack oh no no no…. Instead…my lady changed from the loving, gentle, normal skin colored lady to the little girl from the exorcist with added venom and extra 360 degree head spin.”

Bodyform responded with a hilarious, cheeky, spoof video.

Fem-Hy Alternatives:  Now that she’s off Always’Have a Happy Period” pads, the letter writer has some choices. For instance:

HelloFlo: If you missed the HelloFlo commercials. Their first video, “The Camp Gyno” went viral with 10 million views so far on YouTube. (HelloFlo delivers one-of-a-kind “fem care” packages “through transitional times in her life“):

DivaCup: The DivaCup is a reusable menstrual cup that’s worn internally, and collects menstrual flow. “Menstrual cups have existed since the 1930s when women were searching for an alternative to the choices of the time. Yet, its breakthrough into the feminine hygiene industry is much more recent.”

THINX Period-Proof Undies: “Committed to breaking the taboo surrounding menstruation,” THINX makes washable period undies. They are technologically advanced (layered), leak and stain resistant, comfortable and breathable. Designed in New York, THINX are made by empowered women in a family-run factory in Sri Lanka.

For each pair sold, THINX funds the production of washable, reusable pads that help to keep a girl in the developing world in school, starting with a focus in Uganda.  As THINX reminds us: “100 MILLION GIRLS in the developing world fall behind in school just because of their periods, forcing many of them to eventually drop out.”

Link to THINX website

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ICON by THINX’s Pee-Proof Underwear: THINX has branched out to urinary incontinence with Pee-Proof underwear. They’re part of THINX’s “awesome mission to see a world where no woman is held back by her body“.

It’s refreshing (and so fun) to see women (and men) speaking up and taboos being smashed.

sex and the sixty-year-old: evolution has come to this
Love & Sex
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It’s believed that humans originated about 200,000 years ago in the Middle Paleolithic period.  According to Wikipedia, they began to experience “full behavioral modernity” about 50,000 years ago. Susan, in joining a new dating site, has apparently discovered a pool of Homo Sapiens Sapiens who managed to avoid the shift to full behavioral modernity.  Fortunately, I’m here to translate.

White professional male, down to earth, intelligent, non smoker, caring, loves to see ladies in skin tight jeans and nice smile. About the one I’m looking for…same traits and qualities.

Translation: He wants a woman who likes to see other women in skin tight jeans.


I like going to the movies , or watching movies in my room…

Translation: He still lives at home.


I’m looking for a woman to hold and comfort me in need, stand by my side, respect me, passionate lover in every way, support me in every way, love me and only me, make me smile, protect me when needed, romantic time to time,constantly creative, and treat me right..I like a woman who is caring,sweet,Strong heart, caring,loving, compassionate, affectionate, honest, best of all you believe in God! and a good listener ..a woman who has a good sense of humor, …if she is not happy ,i’m not happy too.

Gosh, why wouldn’t a woman be happy comforting and holding her man?  Oh, and respecting him and making him laugh and being sexually creative and being a good listener and protecting him when needed.  Presumably, she can take a break from protective services, when not needed, and divert her attention to cooking.

In return for the laughs and protection, he wants to “talk things that i would love to do with my woman” …………..Get caught with my woman in the rain. Dance with her in the rain. Stargaze on a clear night. Watch the sunset together. Spend all day with her doing nothing. Moonlit walks on the beach. Be more proud of her than i already am at this very moment.Go on a carriage ride through the park. Do a crossword together. Go to brunch, Have a disagreement (it could/will only make us stronger).Go for a twilight horseback ride.Watch bad/good movie together.Spend the rest of my life with you.Have our picture taken together.Eat ice cream with her.Make love to you passionately.Go to a museum together.Talk to each other using only body language.Give you space when you need it,but not space to hurt each other.Accept you totally and completely for the rest of my life.

How is he already proud of someone he hasn’t met? And what if I’m getting along with him but he is looking to have an argument to make us stronger? I’m not sure which is the most appealing, having a disagreement or not giving space to hurt each other.  Or is giving space to someone hurting them?  And is that how I am supposed to be protecting him? I’m so confused, but it doesn’t matter.  I’m in for the ice cream.


i enjoy being romantic ,active spontaneous & comedic person , confident. i like surprises, music, dancing, sports, books, last minute plans, open mind, photography, museum, craziness, spontaneity, going out (but also staying in), sharing, simplicity, respect, flip flops (yes, the sandals)….

So, would this mean he is spontaneous?  It doesn’t matter. I like a man who offers options, like going out or staying in.


Have you ever seen it in a movie when a hot actor has to reveal his naked ass? That’s my job.

(We take a five-minute break here, while this blogger tries to remember where she stashed the vibrator).  Is his job to take off the actor’s pants?  Or does he take off his own?  While he leaves his potential paramour to consider the options, he takes care to offer his, uh, intellectual side, as well:

On a typical Friday night I am: Trying to figure out the major and minor products when 1-bromo-2-propene reacts with potassium tert-butoxide. Either that or partying like a rock star.

Partying like a rock star aside, the question is, if several Friday nights have gone by and you still haven’t figured out the major and minor products when 1-bromo-2-propene reacts with potassium ter-butoxide, it might be time to set that quandary aside and do something that has a greater chance of success, like making a volcano with papier-mache, baking soda, and vinegar.  Or just watching Honey Boo Boo.  But the important thing is to give those brain cells a break.


The most private thing I am willing to admit: I wear a special cologne. It’s called Sex Panther by Odeon. It’s illegal in nine countries…and it’s made with bits of real panther, so you know it’s good.

I want to know the nine countries in which this cologne is illegal and then relocate to one of them.


I wear socks that match and I love my mom.

Personally, I don’t think you can do better than this, so I will end on this high note.

Fairy Wand vibrators make turbo magic!
Love & Sex
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Picture a fairy wand vibrator in pink and white. What would you expect from it? A whisper-light touch like gossamer wings? Barely the tickle of an eyelash?

You would be so wrong! Whoever named the Fairy Wand vibrators had a sense of humor, because these are turbo vibrators, monster strong, noisy, and strong (did I say that already?). My thanks to Eden Fantasys for the opportunity to review these fabulous products.

I tested two — the Fairy Mini-Wand and the Pocket Fairy. Both are amazing and far stronger than their cute names and colors would suggest.

Fairy Mini-Wand:

The Mini isn’t all that miniature, and it’s maxi in intensity. I swear the vibrations were stronger than the Hitachi, and it’s smaller and lighter, easier to hold. I do prefer the softer ball of the Hitachi head — the Fairy Mini is a harder surface. Like the Hitachi, it has to be plugged in. (That’s a good thing — the plug-in types are usually much stronger than those with batteries.) The vibrations dial from medium to high to OhMyGod. Though you know I like strong intensity, I didn’t have to dial this one all the way up. Yeah, that surprised me, too!

The head is smaller than the Hitachi — 1-3/4″ diameter instead of 2-1/2″ so for more power you have a smaller surface, making it easier to use an insertable vibrator (or a non-vibrating dildo or dilator) at the same time, if that’s what you like. The two won’t have to battle over real estate or clack against each other.
The Mini comes with a pink storage bag.


Pocket Fairy:

This little dear will go traveling with me. It’s tiny — 5-3/4″ long, just 1 inch in diameter — light (just 5.5 oz!), quiet, and strong. I could hardly believe the vibrations coming out of what looks like a doll’s vibrator! It’s rechargeable, so once you have it charged, no need to fuss with a cord. It’s small enough to fit in a purse, should you need to be prepared for pleasure at all times.

It comes with a little bracelet so you don’t lose your grip when it tries to get away from you or becomes slick and hard to hold onto from lube . How did I go so long without knowing about the Fairy Wands? Wow. Again, my thanks to EdenFantasys.

VN Editors
8 smart fixes for problem brows
Fashion & Beauty
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close up of woman fixing eyebrows

The following post contains affiliate links
Well-groomed eyebrows can make a woman look years younger. A beautifully shaped arch can give your face a lift, showcase your eyes, and impart instant sophistication.

But not every woman is blessed with naturally beautiful brows – and after 50, we may not be working with the same brows we had when we were 30 or 40. The fact is, problem eyebrows are a real source of frustration among many members of the Vibrant Nation community:

“For some reason my eyebrows have thinned out to the point they are almost nonexistent.”

“My thinning eyebrows are really bothering me. I also have white, wiry brows that crop up now and then. Help!”


“I have been waxing my eyebrows forever, but I better stop because they are getting thinner by the minute.”

In her new Vibrant Nation Beauty Guide Great Hair After 50, author Lois Joy Johnson identifies one common cause of less than flattering brows: “Trendy plucking during our high school or college years often resulted in skinny lines and exaggerated comma or tadpole shapes that never quite grew back – and that now make your entire face look dated.”

VN blogger Susan Tolles points out that simple aging can be a big factor, as well: “When I was younger, I had thick, dark eyebrows. There was even a time when I almost had a ‘uni-brow’ and had to constantly pluck to keep from looking like the young Brooke Shields. What the heck happened? No more thick brows, and I seldom have to tweeze. I even have to color them now to give them definition.”

Fortunately, vibrant women over 50 who want to look and feel their best don’t have to settle for unkempt, shapeless brows, tweezed-too-thin brows, drawn-on brows, or gray brows. Below are eight smart brow fixes from beauty expert Lois Joy Johnson and other VN members that can help you achieve the beautiful, flattering brows you want.

Smart solutions for problem brows

1. Rule out or treat any related medical causes of thinning brows.

Sparse brows after 50 may be a symptom of an underlying health issue. In the VN Beauty Guide Great Hair After 50, author Lois Joy Johnson quotes New York City dermatologist Dr. Fredric Brandt who says that “sparse brows or half-brows with missing tails are often a sign of thyroid issues.” So if your eyebrows are thinning, the first thing you’ll want to do is have your endocrinologist check for a medical reason for the hair loss.

VN member MUM is a case in point. Five years ago, at age 57, MUM discovered that she had hypothyroid (slow thyroid). “I am now on medication and my eyebrows have come back to life – so much so that I need to pluck them regularly! My advice [to women with thinning eyebrows] go to the doctor and get your TSH levels checked.”

VN blogger Dr. Dorree Lynn adds, “Start with a blood test to check your hormone levels first, then see what other type of professional may help you.” Prescription medications are only one option. “Sometimes, a good nutritionist can prescribe supplements that help. Diet and exercise have also been known to help as well.”

2. Consider Botox for drooping brows.

Cosmetic procedures like Botox are not for everyone, but for some women whose brows have begun to droop over time, they can be a good solution. Lois Joy Johnson says that “Botox injections can help lift a saggy brow that may be dragging your eyes down and create a more open look.”

3. When it comes to permanent makeup (eyebrow tattoos), the right technician makes all the difference.

VN members have varying opinions on permanent makeup as a solution for thinning brows. VN member EnergizerSnobabe advises, “Resist eyebrow tattooing. As you age, your skin will sag, and your tattooed eyebrows will go every which way! [But] if you really want to do something permanent, find a permanent makeup artist with lots of brow experience (look at her portfolio of ‘before and after’ pictures). She can go much lighter so the effect isn’t as dramatic and obvious – then if your face changes, you’re not stuck with squiggly brows.”

VN member Molson had her eyebrows tattooed ten years ago to minimize a scar in her eyebrows, and likes the results. “My eyebrows still look great, but I am thinking of having them re-touched. Once you have them done, you don’t have to think about doing anything to them except keeping track of the white hairs. For best results, look for a person who does reconstructive make up, instead of just permanent make-up.”

VN member Zblair agrees that the right aesthetician makes all the difference. “I had my brows tattooed with ink that resembled my hair color and was also good with my skin. The aesthetician used very tiny strokes and it really looked like brows. Three months after my initial work I went in for a touch up and they lasted close to three years. That same aesthetician did a lot of permanent makeup for stroke victims and also did ‘tats’ of nipples on the redone breasts of women who had had mastectomies. She was amazing!”

4. Protect the brows you have.
VN member 2melifeisgood takes extra care when shampooing her hair. Even when getting her hair cut, she says, “I gently remind the shampoo person to be care of not washing away my brows. Got to have a sense of humor about the aging process!” VN member centralsports adds, “My beauty consultant warned me about sleeping on my side – we will lose our outer brows because of this.”

5. Recreate brows from scratch with makeup.

Former beauty and fashion director of More magazine Lois Joy Johnson shares the following tips in her Vibrant Nation Beauty Guide, Great Hair After 50:

  • In general, a medium, full brow with a gentle arch and extended elongated shape is youthful and attractive on most women.
  • When you create a new brow with makeup, allow time for your eye to adjust to seeing your face with more brow definition.
  • Don’t aim for symmetry since one brow is always higher or fuller or arched differently.
  • Brow powders make filling in bald areas and creating a natural-looking shape where hairs are missing easier. You can use a brush-on brow powder applied to a waxy balm base (they often come in kits together), using a firm, flat-tip, angled brow brush to feather in hairs.
  • You can also try a powder pencil for a similar and faster effect.
  • Brush any brow makeup pencils or powders through with a spiral brush to soften and blend the makeup for a more natural look.
  • I recommend Lancôme Le Crayon Poudre Powder Pencil for Brows, Dior Powder Brow Pencil, and Clarins Pro Palette Eyebrow Kit, which has powder filler, wax, and brushes in one mirrored compact.

6. Try eyebrow regrowth serum (Lumigan/Latisse).

VN member Wellheld says, “For the past three weeks I’ve been using Lumigan, the glaucoma treatment that as a side effect makes hair grow. (As a beauty treatment it’s marketed under a different name.) They say use the product for four weeks before you expect to see a result, but I am convinced I can see a difference in both my eyelashes and brows already. I use one drop for both both eyes and lashes, so the 3 ml bottle should last ages. I apply it using a very fine eyeliner brush, as if I was applying eyeliner. It’s not cheap but it seems to be working.”

VN member Ageless Elaine says, “Off label use of Latisse often works. It sure works for me. Please note: Latisse is a prescription drug. See a physician to get the prescription and make sure you understand how to use it properly and do not have any contraindications in your medical history. Result: longer, fuller lashes – and eyebrows!”

VN member Kiki12 is a fan of Latisse as well: “I have been using Latisse for the last two months, and I am truly amazed by the performance. I have always had very thin eyelashes and the last couple years thinning eyebrows at the ends. I had my thyroid checked and it is 3 which is still normal. So I started using Latisse. It is about $100 but you get a $20 rebate from Latisse and they also send rebates to your email for refills if you sign up. I put it on my eyebrows which are growing longer and thicker by the day. After you achieve full growth you can apply it less like twice a week and maintain results. I am sold on this product. I have not had any adverse effects.”

7. Control long, wiry brows.

In her Vibrant Nation Beauty Guide, Great Hair After 50 Lois Joy Johnson says, “Lots of women find their brow texture becomes increasingly coarse and unruly with age. Here’s my advice for trimming and managing long, wiry brows:

  • First, brush them straight up with your spiral brush, and using a straight, small scissor (not a curved manicure one), trim the long hair excess to follow the upper brow line.
  • Next, Brush them down and then do the same along the bottom line of the brow.
  • Finally, use a brow gel to control these wild hairs and hold them in line. I like Revlon Brow Styling Gel  – it comes in clear and works alone or right over brow pencils or powder fillers.”

8. How to handle gray eyebrows

“Don’t do gray brows even if your hair is gray,” is Lois Joy Johnson’s advice. “You need the extra definition and eye-framing shape.” Here are Lois’ brow coloring tips from Great Hair After 50:

  • When it comes to brows and hair color, resist the urge to match.
  • Brows after 50 should be softer in tone – never too blonde because they disappear and never too dark because they can give the face a severe look. Redheads can go brown – never dye them red!
  • When choosing a color, you may want to go a shade lighter at first to compensate until you get the hang of it.
  • A tinted brow gel is the best way to blend in gray brows and groom wiry coarse hairs up for a fresher, more open eye.
  • I recommend Anastasia Beverly Hills Tinted Brow Gel ($21), which comes in blonde, caramel, brunette, espresso, and granite.

Updated 9-1-15

VN Featured Comment
Dorothy L. Sayers (book recommendation)
Books & Entertainment
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Today’s Featured Book Recommendation

From Melinda

“I need to escape the summer and mysteries do well in helping me to do this. In particular those that take place long ago, but were written during that time. My escape shouldn’t be the result of some retro fancy. Dorothy Sayers wrote wonderful mysteries, that were full of wit, decadence, wealth, humor and murder. And pages and pages of wonderful, 1920′s/’30′s era dialogue. Two of my favorite Sayers mysteries are Murder Must Advertise and Gaudy Night.” [This recommendation was originally posted in this conversation. ~ Eds.]

Menopausal Entrepreneurial Freedom
Other Topics
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When I named my blog ‘Menopausal Entrepreneurial Freedom’ I didn’t realize the need for a snappy blog title. Now that I do, I still won’t change the title because it succinctly describes me.


It all started with breast cancer. The treatments for the cancer threw me into menopause. The menopause caused me to have drenching night sweats. The night sweats could not be helped comfortably with bike shorts and first layer ski underwear. I researched and made some wicking nightgowns and found women in my breast cancer support group went wild with enthusiasm over the idea and the samples.


I became an entrepreneur. I started my company making moisture wicking sleepwear for women. When I started my own company I experienced freedom to set my own career path.


I am menopausal. I am an entrepreneur. I enjoy business freedom with my own company. I love every aspect and I know I am lucky to achieve success.


I am not saying there hasn’t been times that made me upset like when 700 yards of fabric arrived flawed or when an early manufacturer tossed my patterns by mistake! But the freedom and joy out way anything I have experienced working for another company.


Becoming an entrepreneur is not for everyone. There is uncertainty. There is selling a product, a service, a book, etc. There is often a need for a tough skin, a sense of humor or a listening ear.


Recently I have been asked about my second act. I started the company when I was 52. What advice can I give? Many of my friends are retiring or retired. To friends or to women I don’t know my advice is the same; if you always wanted to become an entrepreneur, now is the time.  Research it, try it, and give it a test drive. Maybe you can experience the freedom, the menopausal entrepreneurial freedom I hold so dear.

Barb DePree MD
Eve Ensler: In the Body of the World
Other Topics
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While reflecting on the anniversary of MiddlesexMD, we were reminded of how many women have come before us, paving the way for straightforward conversations about women’s sexuality. This is the third in a series launching our sixth year with gratitude!

Eve Ensler was an obscure New York playwright until she debuted her one-woman play, The Vagina Monologues. The very title was electrifying. Suddenly, audiences were being asked to say the word “vagina” out loud.

Ensler got the idea for the play when a woman she knew said “really hideous, demeaning things about her vagina.” That spurred her to interview more than 200 women. “It’s the easiest thing I’ve ever done in my life. People long to talk about their vaginas. It’s like a secret code between women.”

“Once they got going, you couldn’t stop them,” she said in a 2004 TED talk. “No one’s ever asked them before.”

She assembled some of their stories into a series of short monologues, ranging from humor (“Hurry, nurse, bring me the vagina”), to tragedy (gang rape as a weapon of war); from the birth of her own grandchild, to a fake orgasm more stupendous than the one in When Harry Met Sally.

In 1996, The Vagina Monologues won an Obie for best new play. There were other effects that Ensler had never anticipated. “Women would literally line up after the show because they wanted to tell me their story.” She had thought they would want to talk about sex. Instead, many told heart-rending tales of rape, incest, and violence. She found out that the UN estimates 1 in 3 women worldwide are beaten or raped. That number enraged her.

On Valentine’s Day of 1998, she began a new campaign: performances ofThe Vagina Monologues to raise money to stop the violence. The first year, she enlisted high-profile actresses like Whoopi Goldberg, Lily Tomlin, Glenn Close, and Susan Sarandon. Sony and ABC were corporate sponsors.

The V-Day movement has continued ever since. The money raised has gone to safe houses in Kenya for girls escaping genital mutilation; to the City of Joy in Congo for victims of rape; to Juarez, Mexico, where bones of murdered women were washing up on the beach. Money has gone to Haiti, Afghanistan, Egypt, and Iraq.

Women in the U.S. have also benefited. During the month of February, local productions pay nothing for the rights to the play, provided that all proceeds go to organizations working to stop violence against women.

Eve Ensler herself suffered abuse as a child. “I left my body at a very young age . . . I wasn’t informed by the intelligence of my body.” Living without connection to the body means “we are not living in our full creativity and intelligence.”

Her body received a shattering challenge in the form of stage 3 uterine cancer, but she never lost sight of the suffering of other women. In a 2010 Guardian article, she wrote with fury about the world’s indifference to the plight of women in the Congo, while she herself received excellent, curative care for her cancer. She remained, as the title of her 2013 memoir has it, In the Body of the World.


VN Featured Comment
The Glass Castle (book recommendation)
Books & Entertainment
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Today’s Featured Recommendation

From cuppatea

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls is really marvelous. I can almost guarantee you that the first couple of paragraphs will reach off the page and grab you. That woman knows how to start a book, I tell you. It’s filled with humor, too, which is what makes it so readable, because she had an extremely difficult childhood. Saw her speak this past winter and that was really enjoyable. Her talk was full of humor and inspiration. She’s extremely candid about her roots and her life in general and is obviously enjoying the life that the book’s phenomenal success has brought her.

[This recommendation was originally posted in this conversation. ~ Eds.]

Charmaine Coimbra
A Periwinkle Sweater and I Wait for Winter
Home & Garden
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C. Coimbra photo

Saturday was as tough to chew on as a chunk of dried leather. The garden soil baked under the hot sun as if it were a summer day, and as if I had tomatoes and peppers begging for the heat. The challenge was, it was mid-February and I had yet to put away my summer clothes. A never-worn periwinkle cotton sweater hangs in my closet like its only purpose is to add a spark of color among the my predominately neutral colored clothes. The periwinkle sweater and I wait for winter.

My frozen friends on the other coast would gleefully trade places with me after a relentless winter attack that has dumped so much snow that there is no place to put the white stuff scraped from roadways and roofs. Still, my heated sense of humor lurked near toilet humor. And believe me, my toilet humor isn’t that darned funny. No longer do I jest that I still must use no more than a minute’s worth of shower water that I must capture into buckets so that I can occasionally flush the toilet. California’s drought grows as much dust as does the East Coast snow grow ice-mountains. (A possible replacement for melting icebergs??)

And our federal law makers finally acknowledged that there is something not quite right with our weather. Er, hum, these mostly men and a few women agreed that the planet is “changing.” Now, that agreement comes only as a twisted compromise that might allow a cross-country pipeline to transport toxic oil from Canada destined for a country outside of the United States. This alleged logic fails me as I turn increasingly weary of straddling water-capturing buckets so that I can luxuriate beneath a one-minute shower.

“This is like living in a third-world country with high-end tax bills!” I screamed while scrubbing the bathroom with the captured water, which was not going to leave enough water to flush the toilet later on. I took a break. When I looked at my garden, the artichoke plants drooped like my sullen mood. They needed water. Thank goodness we captured some rainwater from the roof into a 300-gallon tank that sits in the driveway. It’s the new drought fashion accessory. Actually, it is the least impactful way I can assure my lawn-free, ocean-friendly, drought-ready garden can support a lemon tree, a small veggie patch, grape and berry vines interspersed with a few roses, and now, milkweed for a depleted Monarch butterfly population.

So much snow keeps falling in the East that I worry my friend’s son and his fiancé will never dig their way out of Boston for their May wedding on a beach near my home.

I fear that my generation is the last one to have savored the best of seasons past.

Weather troubles circle the globe like the satellites that track weather. Future forecasts remain dire.

Do we, as a society, take desperate measures to keep our lifestyles on par with the past? Or do we, individually, take responsibility to lessen our personal impact on the planet?

In the moment, there’s not much any single person can do to make the  snow and below-freezing temperatures cease impacting places like Massachusetts. And I can’t make the rain fall here in California.

When I visited the desert a few weeks ago, I couldn’t help but cringe at the endless fountains, ponds, and decorative waterfalls gracing gated communities. Who can blame landscapers and the desert populace for trying to recreate the magic of an oasis?  It’s romantic. But at what cost? Are these smart choices?

How is it that decorative water features proliferate when there are communities throughout the west with wells as dry as an African desert, forcing the population to truck in bottled drinking water, and portable showers for personal cleanliness?

My community is not as desperate as others. We are allotted about 25 gallons of water per day per person. So when you come stay at my house, I will explain that we don’t let water run willy-nilly at any spigot for anything including brushing our teeth and cleaning dishes.

“How do you keep your clothes clean?” guests ask.

Me: Barely. Short cleaning cycles in a water-saving washing machine stuffed to the top with laundry.

The weather’s cooled a bit since Saturday. Rain, well if you consider .01” of moisture rain, is in the forecast. Plants think spring is here and want more water. I’ll begin placing buckets and bowls in every sink in the house again, and reuse that captured water for potted tomatoes on the deck.

As I write, a national weather reporter just said, “The West is spectacular!” as he pointed to our premature spring temperatures and the Sierra-Nevada mountain range void of much snow. Compared to the persistent and unusual sub-zero temperatures outside his broadcast studio, I’d have to agree that the West is spectacular—in an all-things-relative kind of way.

My sense is this is how it’s going to be most of what ever is left of my life. The folks in power will continue doing what they do as long as they can stay in power. The folks who believe they have a direct hotline to universal righteousness will continue inventing their translations of that hotline to meet their needs—regardless of whatever named faith barked as their defense. And the rest of us will find ways to manage abnormally hot or frozen seasons and extreme storms.

Me? I’ll admire the beautiful, but dusty bathtub that I’ll probably not fill. Those five-gallon buckets in the shower are my new bathroom accessories with the double duty of toilet-flushers. And that never worn periwinkle sweater hanging in my closet is a pleasant reminder of my hope that things will change for the better.

BJU Blog
Out of the Mouths of Babes
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I have always believed age was just a number, so I shoo shooed any articles that dictated slowing down after age sixty-five. I also ignored articles that extolled stop work and retire at 65, and laughed at articles that warned your sexual tendency slowly fades (hmm, not yet!). Articles that prophesied you gain weight and lose your figure, is a truism – but only if you stop being active. Therefore, for me all those early warnings I ignored. I disregarded age creeping up

even though I no longer could prop my foot up on the bed or chair and bend over to polish my toenails – Oh my God! Either something shrunk or my arms got shorter. At that point, I should have given credence to old age catching up with me.

However, nothing brings the reality of the incorrect view you hold of yourself than through the innocent eyes of young children. Unfortunately, darn it, they speak the truth honestly, succinctly, and with no hesitation. My darling, 7-year-old granddaughter came home from school excited because her teacher told the girls in the class they could become anything they wanted to become — a doctor, engineer, or even the president of the United States! Like any well-meaning grandmother, I proceeded to act as excited as my granddaughter did, and we jumped up and down and laughed for a few seconds. All of a sudden, my granddaughter stopped and with a quizzical frown looked up and asked, “Granny, why did you decide to become old, didn’t you know you could be something else”? So much for age is just a number!

Excerpt From

The Humor in Aging

Flower Bear
When Life Gets Backed Up
Home & Garden
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In the wee hours of this morning I was blissfully dreaming of colorful spring flowers cascading down the edge of the outside cement stairs and spilling out like a waterfall into the garden bed. It may have been the association with water that woke me up for that inevitable middle-of-the-night trip to the potty. Half asleep I took care of business and hit the handle only to discover that the pump never shut off, the water was not going down with its regular speed, I hadn’t put on my glasses so the entire episode was fuzzy, and oh, by the way, it was 3:43 A.M. I pulled the plug on the pump (my bathroom hookup is very strange and requires a knowledgeable adult about these things, which I am not, except that my Dad always told me if something wasn’t working, pull the plug, so I did), and went back to bed. I was sure that I would hear the landlord, who lives above me, moving around as he got ready to go to work and I could inform him of the situation before he left. Imagine my surprise when I awoke again much later to discover that I had overslept (that’s what I get for staying up past my bedtime to watch the Pro Bowl) and he had already left for work. My options were to have a hissy fit  and let this episode “back up” my whole day – a little potty humor here – or I could “go with the flow” – more potty humor – and be creative until he got home.

How many times in our life do we let something that is totally out of our control get the best of us and back up our whole day? You know, the traffic jam that makes you late, the snow storm that shuts everything down, the power outage that turns your half-baked birthday cake into a half-raw pancake, and the birthday dinner becomes a PB&J with a candle in it? Like my backed-up potty we can either let it ruin our day, or challenge ourselves to be creative and find another answer to the challenge. It all begins with taking a nice, deep breath and reminding ourselves that we are not responsible for these acts of nature  (traffic jams are human made but that’s another story for another time). All we are responsible for is how we react to the situation and whether we blow it way out of proportion or try and find some humor in it.

In my situation, I decided to pretend that I was back on a camping trip I’d taken with my sister years ago where the campsite was very primitive and we had to make due with what nature offered us. As I recall, we survived the ordeal and it didn’t take anything away from enjoying our beautiful surroundings. As I write this I am toughing it out, flushing with a bucket, and watching the approach of an impending snow storm blowing up the valley. Guess I’d better fill some buckets up with snow to melt for water just in case my landlord gets stuck in a traffic jam, in the snow storm, with a power outage, and can’t get home for a while. While I’m out there, I think I’m make a snow angel!

And so it is.

Lynne Cobb
Menopause is transforming our bedroom into a brothel
Healthy Living
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“Say what you want about long dresses, but they cover a multitude of shins.” – Mae West


Yes, peri-menopause is making me a changed woman. It is doing things to my body and brain that I never knew it could. It is also changing my house. How, you ask? Because menopause is transforming the bedroom into a brothel.

But, not in the way you would think.


The other morning, I made an astute observation. I stepped into the bedroom and I began to blush – and not from a hot flash. If someone walked into our room, they would raise an eyebrow. Or two.

This is how menopause makes the bedroom look like a brothel:

• You never know which woman will be in the room:
It could be the sentimental, sappy, romantic, “I-need-a-hug-because-I-cried-at-the-ending-of “The Notebook”-again.” Or, it could be the screaming, road-rage-crazy lady who could take out Chuck Norris and Batman at the same time because the estrogen and testosterone are battling it out for the win. I guess this can add a little mystery and excitement. But then again, it might not…
• Love Potion Number 9:
All those tiny little brown glass bottles next to the bed? Love potions? Hardly! These bitty bottles are filled with essential oils, carrier oils and herbs that are slathered on in the attempt to control the battling hormones and the achy legs. If you want to know if these work, the answer is yes. But if someone feels better thinking they are for another use, go right ahead…
• Lingerie on the door handles:
Not what you think. These styling, thigh-high hose keep my legs from aching and support circulation. They also are a great upper-arm workout because they are part of my cardio exercise every morning. Putting support hose on makes me limber and creates beads of sweat. The only merit these miracles of the medical world have is that they are made in Italy – only the uppermost in fashion for my support-needing legs.
• Dim lighting:
Not from flickering candles, but from night lights so that I don’t break my neck fumbling around in the dark for my glasses.
• Fifty Shades of Gray:
Not the book – just my own gray hair.
• High-heels in the corner:
Yes, they were tossed in the corner quickly, and not due to a state of undress. My lower back and baby toes protested loudly, and the pile of shoes will be donated. Soon.
• Expensive perfume:
What used to be reserved for special events and evenings out has become a necessity, because, well, I may need to cover up the results of a hot flash.
• Bed sheets in disarray:
Tossing the pillows and ripping the bedding off the mattress has a brand new meaning when living your own personal summer.

Maybe I should not complain, because, in many ways, menopause is keeping me one hot lady with a sexy-looking bedroom. Maybe I should not have revealed what is going on behind the scenes. Maybe it’s better to fantasize about our room being a brothel instead of a staging area to keep my hormones in check. One thing is for sure, retaining a sense of humor about this life-changing event is critical – well, until the mood changes again. Which it could. Today. In an hour. In a minute.


Are you handling menopause with humor? Is it helping? Let me know in the comments below.

jan brehm
The Vet
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I couldn’t help but notice him as I’m sitting in the waiting room of the VA while my husband receives radiation treatment for cancer.

He’s an older veteran sitting crumpled like an unmade bed in his wheelchair. He stares at the floor and his face is marked with deep creases and a scraggly beard. He looks so tired and alone and he smells bad.

I feel pressure to talk to him, but I don’t want to. I already feel depleted with all the demands of caring for my husband. I just want to keep my face buried in the latest edition of People Magazine with its mindless dribbling’s on the latest news of punk-face musicians and those tanned firm-bodied actresses, of which I convince myself the photos must have been Photoshopped because it is impossible for anyone to look that good.

The sound of the waiting-room television in the background reporting the news helps to diffuse the silence, but I’m feeling sad for this man. I think about the fact that he served our country in some capacity and here he sits with no one by his side.

So I look over and ask him if he’s up next to receive his treatment. He pauses, then turns his wheelchair toward me, and while he never answers my question, his eyes light up and with a voice that sounds like he smoked Camel Straights his entire life, he tells me all about his living situation, his children and grandchildren who rarely see him, his wife who died a few years back and how he took care of her, all the medications he has to take, and stories from when he was a younger, stronger man.

I did not ask him for any of this information but it becomes obvious this veteran has something to say and wants to be heard. So I listen, at first feigning a genuine interest but as he rambles on, I become genuinely interested. I ask him where he served. “Vietnam”, he growls, “A Hell Hole”, he calls it. I thank him for his service. He gives no response.

With my questions and comments he becomes more animated weaving with wit and humor a brief tapestry of the ins and outs of better days, his achievements and earned awards.

When the nurse calls his name, the light in his eyes dim, as if his returning to reality is snuffing out the momentary reminder of the man he really is.

He is wheeled away and I feel so deeply touched by our encounter. I call out, “It was nice to meet you…”

I see the back of his hand wave as he disappears through the doorway.

Robin Goodfellow
The opposite of zero
Books & Entertainment
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Sue Grafton carved her way into the book world with (as she indicated once) spoonfuls of words during a time when being a male author was a trump card. Lee Child admitted so recently…said that during the second half of the twentieth century being white, male and American were trump cards. Anyone shocked?

Sue’s father was a part-time mystery writer and Sue cut her teeth on the mystery novel. She wrote, “I think I sensed even then that a detective novel offered the perfect blend of ingenuity and intellect, action and artifice.” Her father was an alcoholic, albeit a functioning one. Her mother’s alcoholism, though, was overwhelming; it ruled their world. Something bright and alive had been pulled under inside Sue’s mom and stayed there, pinned.

When I took my foot in my hand (an old Brer Rabbit saying that makes no sense, yet does) and wrote a murder mystery, THE BUTTERFLY AFFAIR, I took John Grisham’s advice. Establish empathy for your protagonist, he’d told a televised audience. There should be circumstances, past or present, that elicit a sympathetic response from your reader, binding them to the character who will move them through the story. I made Dee Tamarack’s mother a drunk, patterned on a woman who lived behind me in a garage apartment as I grew up.

Imagine the feeling that rushed at me as I read Grafton’s brilliant KINSEY AND ME. I had captured part of Grafton’s childhood to a remarkable degree.

When I was eight months pregnant with my second beautiful daughter, I received a note from an editor at Scribner who’d just read a short story of mine in THE MASSACHUSETTS REVIEW. Should I ever write a booklength manuscript, she wrote, she hoped I would send it to her first for consideration.

But as Scott Belsky notes so aptly in MAKING IDEAS HAPPEN, the creative’s natural MO often shuns organization, fixed goals, and the consistency of discipline that large goals require. It can feel unnatural, wrong. Yet, ideas don’t happen without the not-always-exciting follow through.

I’m glad, proud, that I’ve accomplished a major goal of mine: to write a good novel and publish it. Since I wanted to tell the story my way and retain all rights to it, I decided to self publish. I’ll trace some of my experiences, past and present, through this blog.


But first, hats doffed to Sue Grafton, who actually lived through a part of Dee Tamarack’s childhood, raised kids herself, and determinedly wrote her way through the alphabet, igniting each letter with literary skill, humor, and the darkness that sometimes streaks the human heart.

Grafton, at 74, plans to call her final alphabetical novel “Z” IS FOR ZERO. What’s the opposite of zero, I wonder? Because that’s what this writer is.

Sue Grafton is the opposite of zero.