Friday, December 24, 2010


One more thing:
Parties or no parties, maybe give yourself a gift--eliminate one thing that might be causing that upset stomach you've been trying to ignore.   One thing like sugar, or Jeroboam size coffee, or refusing to exercise, or maybe excess arguing with the boss or whoever. 

If that doesn't work, what if you gave yourself a talk with your doctor, or gave yourself a new doctor who listens?
Happy next few years!


Even if Christmas is not your holiday, don't you sometimes feel a little spirit of giving creeping in at this time of year?  Would you like to give something to someone you care about--especially if it didn't involve crowds, traffic, and possible mayhem in stores?  Or maxing out your charge card. May I suggest:

Take a bowl of fresh raspberries to a neighbor you've met but never really got to know.

Send two (2) greetings to people whose birthday is at Christmas.

Buy a bunch of those tickets at check-out that contribute to meals for less fortunate families in the area.

Use your best letter paper or best season's greetings cards and send your favorite doctors a thank-you note for all those times they returned your call when they needed to go home to their families.

Give the mailman a break and mail things after the 25th. There are, after all, twelve days of Christmas.

Call somebody you haven't talked to in years.  Maybe they're waiting to hear from you, especially if there was a misunderstanding way too long ago.

Even if you're busy, call boring Aunt Sofronia and let her talk for a few minutes.  You can always set the oven timer for ten or fifteen and tell her something's burning.

Send some grown-up a toy or a cartoon he might like.

Apologize to somebody even if it's not your fault.  Even if they started it.  Doesn't count if you don't really mean it.

Give everyone you care about a gift by writing to tell them you want to spend more years with them, so you're giving up smoking, or you actually signed up for their gym and want to hitch a ride with them, or you walked a mile today.  Doesn't count if you don't really mean it.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 6, 2010

BRAS Fitting room learning

Wanted to try a different size in the best bra I've found so far.   One clerk bombed out on me.  (Why do some of them march down the center isle without looking to left or right, which is where the customers are.)  Told them I found the size but didn't want another black bra.  One young clerk with glasses went into the back room and found 1 beige, one white.  Then did I get a surprise!

Tried on the black and the beige:  they didn't work as well as the size I had at home. 

Then I tried on the same bra, same size, in white!  It was completely different and gives me a great, becoming fit!  In this case, the fact that the manufacturer could have had more quality control was good for me.

Meanwhile the clerk who actually helped me disappeared, but I stayed around  until she came back.  I wanted her to have the sale, because it's rare to get someone who really helps.

Moral: from now on I try on several even though they look alike.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Shoes made for walkin'

Still getting compliments on my Clark's sandals--the Ina in bronze.  I could shop 'til I drop in them.  These are from a discount place, but be careful!  One of the styles that looks like mine has a flaw inside that rubs on your foot.  So why do I care in November?  It's California!  And this California is hot today!

Okay, I have winter Clark's too, and they're just as great.  A sort of boot look until you really look close.  Good hunting.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A new way to raise $ against cancer?

Suppose, instead of making me buy something first, a major retailer or wholesaler just went ahead and donated money to cancer research?  You know, no strings attached!  Think how impressed I would be!  How eager I would be to be their customer!  

What do you think?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


  I'm still fighting the fight to insist we NEVER give money and we never run or walk for any group that:

1. Will not divulge how much money actually goes to research (prizes are not research.)

2. Won't promise to refuse money to any company that uses harmful ingredients in their products.

Please see Google Breast Cancer Action and their Think Before You Pink web page.  This group is not financed by manufacturers.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


This is my October 1 blog for breast cancer education and prevention.  I'm still fighting the fight to insist we NEVER give money or running or walking to any group that:
1.  Will not divulge how much money actually goes to research (prizes are not research.)
2.  Cannot guarantee that no money from their event will ever go to a company that uses harmful ingredients in their products.

Today I did my part by asking some questions about the Army of Women and by contacting my US Representative to ask him to co-sponsor the Harmful Substances Bill.

What are you willing to do to prevent breast cancer in your area?

Thursday, September 23, 2010


As usual, the city looked into its crystal ball, noticed that I need to visit St. Joseph's for my annual test, and immediately scheduled street top dressing in front of my place.  And of course, on the whole street between here and the main road to the hospital.  A phone call about parking places for residents led to the run-around.

I found a place to park for today.   Waited for trucks.  Many trucks, no skim coat.  Finally found out they've cancelled all but the one small strip between me and my car.  Until when?  Nobody knows. 
Luckily, my local councilman now has a form for e-mail with such concerns (and brewing tantrums.)  I explained that I can't reschedule a ride 10 times while they decide when to do the street.  And I can't hitch-hike home from the hospital.   I'll let you know what (if) they reply.


Belts are one place where I don't need a lot of whimsy. I need a lot of bargains. Three times now, Sears has been my secret source for basic leather belts with no chimes, no medallions, no clanking during meetings. And, en route to their belt rack, I also found my black leather watch band (an unusual size) for my favorite price - cheap!

Oh, and now that I think about it, I also got my slippers there and some good black socks that don't collapse and don't feel like a tourniquet.

PS My daughter swears (as did my father) that you can't beat Sears automotive for whatever auto stuff is doing you wrong and needs a good fix.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Who ever dreamed that a bra would arrive by mail that looks like it is made to fit the ends of grocery store sandwich bread instead of an actual bust? And yet, there it was. And another drive to the USPS to return it.

Then, in desperation, I fell for the old "bra fitting" racket yet again! The phone call for appointment made me suspicious. But desperate people do desperate things. Drove to Glendale. The "fitter" imposter tossed a tape measure over my tee shirt near the waist, asked me what size I usually wear. I replied, "The wrong size. That's why I'm here."

She returned with three bras, two I'd already tried on twice at Macy's.
I showed her how the forth bra was smashing my unhappy bust. She told me to put on my tee shirt and see how good I looked! Back on the street in 12 minutes, with $1.25 left on the new parking gizmo.

Off to another store, saw one bra in the wrong size that looked as if my size might actually fit. They, of course, didn't have my size. And then to another town for Macy's. But Macy's doesn't carry that division of Playtex.

So I'm back to ordering on line again. This time I ordered two sizes in hopes one size will fit. I'm thinking of getting my own space at the USPS for my regular bra-returning trips.

As I may have mentioned, when I returned the "bread wrapper" style bra, I gave them a very complete inventory of the parts of me that it didn't fit. I used my inside writing voice, and did not call the manufacturer any names.

When the postman rings, if this one fits, I may share the style number. . .

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The world, the flesh, and BRAS

Bra manufacturers 47
Me zero
I am furious. Why should I re-build a bra that I paid for? Why am I getting e-mail from manufacturers who don't make my size?

I just have one question for you: what do you hate about bras!? Or do you always get just the right one? (Okay, I lied about the one question)
So: Are you willing to write a letter to a bra manufacturer? Or march on Washington or something?

I just sent some well-chosen words on one maker's web site (and also on the paper that goes back with the 39th returned bra.)

Let me know what you hate about bras, and want to do about it.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I figure it started in the caves. Despite the hassle of preparing mastadon dinner without fire, Cave Wife has developed a little junk in the trunk, so to speak. Cave Husband stops packing for his hunting trip long enough to point to her buns and snarl. He holds up a much bigger and stiffer animal skin and demands she put it on. Their pet saber-tooth, Sabey, snarls at him to get away from the wife. Cave guy smacks the tiger one and stomps out. A neighbor has heard the commotion and shows Wife how to fasten the tight skin with strips of sharpened bone. The word was out--no pudge, no jiggle.
No kidding.

For centuries, women complied. Not content with whalebone corsets, women even egged each other on to bite the bullet, or the stick, and have lower ribs removed to give them the perfect wasp waist. At least they didn't have to go to boring corporate parties until they healed. Botched rib-ectomies and changing styles led us back to the corset. It even filtered down to the middle classes. What a bear trying to get something out of the oven or the wringer wearing those whalebones.

WWII put many women in overalls and pipe wrenches. That pretty much guaranteed the decline of the corset. Luckily the hard work and the swing dancing kept us thin.

Then Lucille Ball arrives via TV, vacuuming in heels and a turbo waist cincher. We laughed. And we bought the Playtex girdle. NO bones, no laces, no air. A women with a bad back couldn't even pull one on. My boyfriend said in public that I should always wear a girdle. He was replaceable.

Spoiled, we demanded even more comfort, like the new control top pantyhose! We swore by them for years.

Now TV strikes again. We don't look like Sex and the City! All that rotten time in the gym didn't make us look like Top Models! Barefoot sandals, so no control tops. Jeans with almost no rise. We don't dare sit down. Muffin tops are scaring small children.

Again the manufacturers come to the rescue--with Spanx. No jiggle from chin to ankles. Back problems? A friendly orthpedic nurse helps you pull it on. No bones, no laces, no air. Free at last.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


The recent dental unpleasantness left me with a slightly unmatching left side of the face. Later, I'll probably preach about dentistry being in the stone age. And right now, any photo ops are right side only.

Meanwhile, I took a recipe from Nina Garcia's THE STYLE STRATEGY, and risked the honey facial. Perfect for multi-tasking while ironing, despite the danger of dripping on my work blouse, or someone coming to the door.

For years I'd thought groceries as cosmetics were funny. Then came the day I had to throw out my sunscreen-to-prevent-farmers-tan. It was announced worldwide as THE BAD SUNSCREEN. Gotta wonder what else in the medicine cabinet and the bedside table might be THE BAD CREAMS.

So into the honey pot. It did seem to ease the redness that made the doctor forbid wine for four weeks. It also made my cheeks kinda nice and soft (alas no one noticed but me.) Best of all, I didn't need a bowl scraper and trowel to get it off. You know how you don't dare touch your toast-with-honey or you'll stick to the tablecloth and even the table. But it washed right off.

Buoyed up by that success, I was ready to follow her advice and put the plain yoghurt on my T zone. (That's the middle of the face, guys.) The grocery didn't have individual plain yoghurts, so I didn't get to make my pores disappear. Maybe next week I'll get the big tub of plain, and foist the rest of it off on someone who would actually eat it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Just ordered some "tall" size summer jeans from Spiegel's. Not the cut I like best, but they promise the torso is adjusted for tall. This should give me a long enough rise for my long torso. We'll see.

At least, when I shorten the legs, I'll have enough extra denim for a sofa.

Friday, May 28, 2010


I finally tracked down a woman from patient relations at St. Joseph Med. Ctr., Burbank. It took a lot of detective work, since I found no phone number on the web site. Twice now I accidentally wrote customer relations. Actually, that’s perfectly reasonable since a friend taught me that in medical matters, I am the customer. Just look at the bills for my insurance.

The call turned out to be wonderfully validating and comforting. The woman listened better than I usually do. She admitted (how refreshing) that the scary call and the rest should not have happened. At the end, she assured me that she would pass the entire scenario to the head of the mammography center. When I told her I had blogged about this, she asked to read HENBACKTALK.

I reminded her that I want to reward the tech I met at the return visit. That person explained about older women’s breast tissue and why more films were needed. She would be a great person to train whoever calls women for follow up.

This was a big step for me. I am not good on the phone when it’s something personal, or something medical. I forget part of what I need to say.

Days later: a woman from the mammography unit did call me. She said she had taken action with the person who does telephone callbacks and with the radiologist. She reminded me that they also send a letter to my primary physician. She said patients could ask to talk to another person during the initial phone call. I assured her that on hearing the words “they found” a patient can basically go into shock and forget to talk to more people.

We did not enjoy each other’s tones of voice on this call. I felt that I was hearing justification. Finally she did assure me that no one would receive any more calls like I one that scared me, and she ended the call.

If you can possibly find it, I recommend How to Cope with Your Doctor. Bernard Virshup, M.D., Praxis Press.

Please tell us your experience or adventure complaining about anything medical.

Friday, May 14, 2010


Okay, Twilight is not the whole story of women and love. I just thought it was the key fantasy of the girl inside us, ever hopeful.

Somewhere along in there I stumbled into books by two women (and a man) who tell the day-to-day marching that follows when an amazingly brave woman reaches for what she wants and it turns out to be for life.

Since my own marriage left me with more questions than answers, I grab onto every sentence in these three books that gives me clues to the question with no answer—what makes love last? And how do you get through the yucky times that one self-help team called Stage Two? (As in after the honeymoon is over.) How do you get to the part where the smiling old couple stroll slowly holding hands?

Actually I don’t stumblepon Jill Robinson’s books—I search for them. And in case you need a rating let me mention that Falling In Love When You Thought You Were Through has mysteriously disappeared! (Moral—don’t leave anything valuable on the table when you go to the ladies’ room.)

THE SUM OF OUR DAYS remembers Willie’s traveling to meet Isabelle Allende. Then, to be brief, she just plain followed him home. And the love story was still going on when I bought the book. She does tell things I had never heard of to make a family well and strong—she and her son even went to counseling and signed an agreement of acceptable behavior. That’s what I mean about the day-to-day.

And of course there were tough tests in the long romance that started with Jill Robinson asking to borrow a cigarette, and lasted through marriage. Tests like Jill’s moving to another country. And the big test for both of them that led to writing Past Forgetting.

I’ll probably never marry again, but I was hungry for what has made it work for some couples.

Falling in Love When You Thought You Were Through, a memoir written with Stuart Shaw (HarperCollins, 2002)Past Forgetting, a memoir (HarperCollins, 1999
The Sum of Our Days, 2008. (English translation, Harper Collins)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


This is hard to write. And like some other blogs, I expect to make somebody mad.

Jewelry can be nice, if you know the person’s current tastes. I even give myself some, though not the kind that would put me through graduate school or even traffic school. Being taken to lunch is nice, especially if the host doesn’t look at his watch mid-entree. Candy is nice, in small amounts with no comments about calories. I don’t even know if they make gift hankies anymore.

What I really like is something that lasts my whole life. Respect.

I guess most people are sure they respect their mothers. Do they? Here are some clues. Sentences that start with “You won’t. . .” are rarely respectful. Jokes about Mom’s fiber supplement are ugly. “You’re not allowed to eat that.” That’s a thing you say to a three-year-old. Here are some others.

“I’m taking you to my doctor.”

“ A boyfriend at your age? Don’t be silly.”

“Watch out (grabbing Mom’s arm) there’s someone behind you.” The person behind Mom is probably grown up and capable of saying “Pardon me.”

What you just said to Mom-- Would you say it to your boss? To Cathy Bates? To Bionce?

I love sentences that start with “May I . . .” and “Would you like . . .?”

I remember the Happy Days episode when Fonzie decided his grandma was senile. She set him straight with a few demonstrations like what it’s like to have arthritis (pebbles in his shoe.) Her bird that Fonz thought was imaginary flew in. I don’t remember the rest , but I think it deserved an award.

A good thing to call mom is Mom or Mother, no matter how many grandchildren she has.

How many people call Mom when it’s not Mother’s Day, and ask her if she’s having fun? Do the kids want to get to know her? Ever ask Mom her opinion, and not tell her why she’s wrong? Tell her you love her, before she tells you?

My daughter, seeing so many doctors and dentists on my calendar, urged me to give myself a break from that stress by telling the docs I need a little slack on the appointment schedule. That was a gift.

Friday, April 30, 2010


Speaking of angels, there are my two daughters, who have been angels many times. And my doctors and my dentists and . . . Judy and Pat. I guess this list doesn't end.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


My spine problem has yielded a list of dozens of thing I can’t do—like fall down! Just trying to keep cars from blocking the walkway was way more frustration than I needed. After four useless calls to the local Supervisor’s office, I suddenly got a quiet young man named Isaac who actually listened to my story! He promised to call me back and said: Don’t worry. If I can’t reach you at work, I will call you when you get home.

That night he called and promised me two red traffic cones. The next day he delivered them to my porch, and later followed up with a call to be sure I got them! I want to give him a medal, but I guess angels don’t have anything to pin one on. Or something neat but not gaudy to hang from his harp!

The next angels were even more unlikely. I went to the coin car wash and learned I could not sweep the whole interior of my car with my limited ability to bend. Two stern guys next to me were polishing a BMW with intense concentration and lots of cigarette smoke, and doing the windows with newspaper. I blurted out that my grandmother had once told me to use newspaper on glass. One of the guys gave me some newspaper and instructions to do the inside as well. Then he saw me staring helplessly at the parts I can’t vacuum. He added a quarter to my last three in the vacuum, and attacked the whole interior of my car. Mercilessly. His chum even dusted the dash!

Now that I’ve gone this far, I need to talk about Erik, the angel who got my new laptop running, and Mario, the angel who assembled this chair for me, and. . .

I need to get those medals and harp ornaments by the crate!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Rule #1 skip the women’s fashion department and hunt around the store. My apologies to the girls who have hidden their favorites in the baby dept. until payday, but this is survival of the fittest. Found a fine blazer, short and fitted, a year ahead of its fashion time, in Ross, hanging on the end of some bizarre blouses rack.

You’ve all heard of small women shopping in the boys department? The men’s department is my favorite. Got fabulous cotton knit sleep/play shorts with hidden elastic in the men’s dept. at Target last summer--washes soft and great. Wide waistband. Listen, my jeans have a fly front, why shouldn’t cuddly shorts have one? I can even answer the door in these! I can go to the mailbox in these. Why didn’t I buy two!

But my new weightless, short, sheer summer sweater was in the maternity department at Target. Light as air. Squish it in my hand and tuck into my purse til I need it. Made my upper arms feel young again.

Tourist places also have somebody’s neighborhood shops. An engineer I know got professional looking long sleeve work tees with a slightly less sporty neckband in LA Chinatown.

The wildest place for bargains! If you don’t want to spend too much, the 99 Cent store has been bargain heaven for my tiny librarian friend –their Hawaiian shirts are like dresses for her and they had the cutest Valentine’s Day tee shirt I’ve ever seen.

Did find two great basic belts at different times at Sears.

And does this count? The carry pack for a raincoat I got for Christmas a decade ago is a great long-strap purse for hands free shopping. And my not-small wallet slides in easily.

Oh, and the white cotton tees lauded in the book The One Hundred? I got some brand name ones once at the checkout in Albertsons. I get my nylons at CVS, control top, bargain price, no shipping charges.

The hardest thing to find bargains in? Slippers that don’t fall apart. Any suggestions?

PS This is dedicated with thanks to that woman who gave the straight- out review on Amazon listing some things she doesn’t want to spend $200 bucks for!

Monday, March 29, 2010


I have never met anyone who is not aware of breast cancer. Have you? Victims' families, friends, neighbors, and co-workers are all too aware of it. Can we assume for a moment that everyone is aware of it? Then why do we run races and earn money for "awareness?" Where does that awareness money go? How much for prizes? How much for awareness of the sponsor company's name? There's a big word for that: cause marketing.

Do you run for breast cancer? Are you going to? What do you know about the sponsoring company? Do they use carcinogens in their products?

Stop griping, you say! Don't you know we're just running for a cure? So I ask:

If only 50% of the money goes for research, is that okay? Is 25% okay?

Who gets the research money? A pharmaceutical firm that makes dangerous products? Or a company whose products are beneficial?

When I go to church, the budget is published. I know where the money goes. It's just not okay with me to give to an event that refuses to reveal how much money finally goes to research. I contacted Revlon about a year ago, and they told me they do not divulge the figures.

For more info, I refer you to Breast Cancer Action.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I don't read vampires. I don't pick books because of the cover. And yet, I read Twilight because of the cover. What? It's a classy cover, okay?

Later a female friend who is not in her teens came to my desk wondering why women were reading this book about a teenager falling in love with a vampire. Mothers read this book. Even mothers of middle-aged women read it!

I say they read it because of every woman's secret wish. ( If this doesn't get me indignant mail...) Here goes: what woman wouldn't be secretly delighted if a guy who looks way better than Quasimodo has an uncanny way of showing up for the rescue whenever she's headed for a problem? Even a big problem. And the guy isn't a stalker, really. He's not a psycho, obsessive, or one of those You Will Love Me maniacs. A dream come true. Except for the biting thing.

And he's too gallant to beg for what he really wants because it's too dangerous for her. Silly boy. Like she's going to let this one get away. And he has millions of readers cheering for him.

Funny thing, after reading it, I always remembered the cover as just a red heart on the black background.

By the way, have you ever caught your lover, husband, or brother, or geometry teacher taking a peek inside this best seller? (Guys don't read this; he'll never know you told on him.)

No, what I really want to know is, would you have done what she did? For forever with Mr. Wonderful?

Monday, March 8, 2010


When the blender catches fire, when the nurse treats you like a known felon, or when you're trying to help people in trouble, do you write a letter? Will you? Here are a few things that work for some of us.

1. Just do it. Write when it's time and when it's fresh in your mind.

2. Use real paper. Some people are like Gibbs--they never read e-mail. Paper says we're serious. Supposedly when they get one letter, they know 10 or 100 people think the same thing.

3. Avoid "you" messages. Messages like "you're doing this all wrong" cause marriage counseling, lawsuits, and full wastebaskets.

4. Smart, savvy Alison taught me to use clear questions: Will you accept this check in full payment?

5. Best selling writer Mary Pipher introduced, in Writing to Change the World, the Sandwich Letter! We put our unhappy message or whatever filling between nice soft sentences. I started and ended my irritated letter to Macy's CEO with respectful sentences.

6. In my successful letter to the hospital, I told exactly what happened to me and how. I didn't refer to any nurses as bad or mean. Later I was glad of that--two nurses who were really not kind when we first met were great during later visits. Still, when the whole staff is having a bad day, or when a different policy could have saved me fear or pain, I write

7. End with a sentence summing up the action you ask for.

8. This wonderful Churchill executive memo used to hang over my desk.

Pray state this day on one side of a sheet of paper
how the Navy is being adapted to suit the needs of modern warfare.
Says it all.

Then STOP. Let it cool. Let someone else check for possibly misunderstood phrases.

And tell me if it worked! Or tell me how another letter worked for you.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Some of us who are not 29 anymore, and not 39 (don't even ask) do not always look at stilettos and think GIMME! We may secretly look at them and think: How can I look that good and not fall down? We see somebody who is 29 or 39 and she walks like she's dragging a sled full of rocks because her feet hurt, and we may think: I can look that worn out without paying $600.

In not exactly the Jurassic era, but quite a while ago, I had the most incredible stilettos and I was in Indiana! I'm pretty sure springolaters no longer exist--a secret device kept the shoe on the foot with only the tiniest bit of a strap. The heels on mine were green, like the incredibly thin stem of a flower. The beautiful rose petals were all around my heel! A half inch of black crepe crossed my toes. Since then, shoe-wise, it's been all downhill.

I do still have a pair of real heels in the closet--very businesslike Mary Janes, more boardroom sturdy than stiletto. The last time I wore them was, of all the places not to wear them, a tour of a zillion room mansion. Forbidden to sit on the furniture (some of it no doubt borrowed for the occasion) I thought I was going to scream.

Actually, when I said my shoe life was downhill, I meant until last summer's magic sandals. These are by no means stilettos, but the cunning little heels are shaped like no other heels, and the soles are actually the shape of my feet (rather than the shape of Manolos.) When I put them on, the magic sets in.

Beware of magic shoes. They feel like a visit from The Prince with the glass slipper. You will find yourself dancing. Even if you're too serious to find yourself dancing, they sneak up on you and make you strut! You've been warned.

What makes you strut? A certain dress, some boots, or real stilettos? Dare you to tell!

Monday, March 1, 2010


Until I got my first pair, I thought bootcuts were for cowgirls. Then I got the very subtle bootcut grey slacks and a well-dressed friend said, "You never looked so slim." Instant addict. One fashion guru admitted they are often the most flattering. After trying on a thousand or so more pairs of pants, I added bootcut jeans. For a long-torso, short-legged female, two pairs that fit, show off my waist, and flatter me is big news. Now I realize I should keep them in the vault; they're scarce as a good bra!

A peek at a magazine in the library revealed a quote from a fashion leader bemoaning this sudden scarcity!

It seems a bunch of designers got bored, and convinced a bunch of department stores that we had enough bootcuts! (Silly, silly stores.) Suddenly I got all these color catalogs full of scrawny teenagers in skintight pants. Not a grown-up thigh in the bunch! Why do you think Cathy Guisewaite talked about thighs in the wonderful CATHY cartoon? Because women have them and need pants that make them look great.

I wrote to the prez of a big, big chain of department stores and he tossed me to a merchandising woman who did nothing. Next time I went to that chain, there were no bootcuts. Eventually the two pairs I have will wear out.

Women, are you going to take this lying down? (Well, yes, you will be lying down to get into the new skinny jeans.) Do you have a mirror that shows your backside in them?

Will you write a letter to demand the style that flatters you? HINT: Ask a Librarian website can often find shy retail and manufacturer bigwigs who need a good talking-to. Seize the e-mail or the typewriter or the phone! Fight back for beauty! And let me know when you do, please.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mammograms - and two words nobody wants to hear


There are two words no woman wants to hear after a mammogram: They found . . .Yet I got a call with those two words three days after my mammogram. Not from my doctor or a radiologist, but from a hesitant stranger. Something about finding a density. And a letter telling me to consult my own doctor. I was too stunned to ask his nurse the right question.

Back to the hospital after a frightened weekend. Long intake, waiting. It was not until I was in the filming room with the terribly young tech that I found out all breast tissue is of two kinds. And she seemed to be saying that one kind is more dense! In fact, nothing bad had been found! Older breasts, it seems, get folded or otherwise make it hard to see all their tissue. Why in the world didn't they train the woman who phoned to tell me they just didn't have enough pictures to see the whole breast!!! That whole weekend would have been much less painful.

More pictures and the happy tech took me far down the hall and shut me alone in a cold room without my bra and with a rack of bright pamphlets telling me how to live with cancer. I decided they put me so far away so no one would hear my reaction to their findings. I occupied myself with trying to support my breasts. Finally, the tech brought in the female radiologist, who told me her name. Without smiling, she told me again about older women's breast tissues. Finally, finally, she told me my breasts were fine, gave me a strange little smile, and walked out.

Why could the breast center not hand every woman or put on the order for mammograms the information about older breasts?

Shouldn't a breast center, staffed by women, want to avoid unnecessary fear? For those of us who have had a major biopsy under general anesthesia, for those who watched our friends die of breast cancer, any extra fear is too much fear.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


My daughter really loved my coffee this visit! I got some of my secrets from a coffee book on display at work, then did my own version. For each mug: 1 Tablespoon regular Yuban, 2 Tablespoons decaf Yuban, 10 ounces freshly filtered water. Duh Rules: always fresh water, warm the mug and the milk or soy milk (I set mine on the coffee maker while it brews.) Never let it sit around for more than an hour regardless of what your coffee shop gets away with.

Recently I shared a table at wonderful Priscilla's in Toluca Lake with someone who used to live in the area. He gave me a lot of history about Priscilla's introducing gourmet coffee to the area and getting people interested. I had to confess (tho I'll never leave Priscilla's) that I recently stopped grinding my coffee and went back to Yuban because I love the smell I used to love when I opened the can.

What has this to do with backtalk? In another local shop I've seen women meekly accept coffee that was not what they ordered and not prepared as they asked. We are the customers! It is not only okay to hold out politely for what we ordered, it helps the shop keep up its reputation for service. Really.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Mammogram day! No more procrastinating. I'm a dreader, so even if last year's screening was okay, I still put this off. When I actually get there, I'm cheerful. I ask for a feedback form at sign-in.

So what do you do when your mammogram is really painful or the tech could use an hour in the time-out chair? We can't call for the manager, and we're too nice to give her a little Gibbs-slap. We're afraid to stop the exam in case the insurance company won't give us another, so we suffer through it. Please tell your doctor! And there may be a patient relations office you can call or write to. I had great luck writing to patient relations in my hospital about a different problem

Actually, today's tech, Paula, was great and I wasn't really uncomfortable. I praised her on the feedback form. Do you ever praise hospital people for a good experience? Let me know.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

What we're up to

Are you ever just really mad about what you need that you can't buy, about how you're treated at the mammogram department, even about what you read in women's magazines? Every time I've said: I'm mad as hell, and I'm going to write that store (or that group or whoever) a letter, I've read somewhere that another woman is mad as hell about the same thing. If I'm mad about pants that don't fit or pants that no sensible woman would pay for, another woman is mad about trying to buy pants, too. Sometimes a lot of women.

Sometimes I do write the letter. And sometimes, like the letter I wrote to a certain hospital, the results were delightful and surprising!

Now I'm going to write the letters here, and you can write back. I'm even going to write to stores and restaurants and hospitals I think are doing a wonderful job. But don't you think pants are a good place to start?