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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
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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
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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.