... the tales of two sisters

Dana lives in Seattle, and Tracie lives in Germany. We are businesswomen, writers and humorists. We write about life, dating, and today's modern women.

Something for Your Toolbox

“Better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly.”
Robert H. Schuller

Happy Birthday to You!

His Birthday is May 13, his birth name is Stevland Hardaway Judkins Morris and he was born in Saginaw, Michigan.

He has been winning awards since his career began in 1967. He is one of only two artists who have won the coveted Grammy for Album of the Year three times as the main credited artist.

His honorary degrees in recognition of his amazing musical career include the Doctor of Music from both Yale University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

He was bestowed the Presidential of Freedom from President Obama in 2014.

I mean, we can really say that he Signed, Sealed and Delivered the goods. ALL the goods.

Thank you Stevie Wonder. Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday! With love from EVERYBODY!!!

Cheers to all you Moms!

As Mother’s Day approaches, I look around my house and am reminded of all the joys of Motherhood.

On my refrigerator, I keep these memories – Bottoms Up, Moms! Cheers to each and everyone of you. Today and everyday, you deserve it! Happy Mother’s Day.

The Essence of Quincy

The Where:

Schloss Borbeck, a castle in Essen, Germany; a historic landmark in this city that was founded in the year 845.

The Who:

The WDR Big Band of Cologne, one of the most successful band orchestras in Europe. For this event, conducted by Finnish musician Vellu Halkosalmi.

The What:

A concert, The Essence of Quincy, presenting menopausebarbee uncle Quincy Jones’ compositions and arrangements from the late 1950s through the early 1960s (!!!)

Why: Truly amazing story. Vellu loves music. I mean, he loves it. And he is not just a music lover, he is quite brilliant in his own right. He plays several instruments, conducts, arranges, writes and does what gifted musicians are able to do.

What he recognized, as he told his audience, is that although Uncle Q’s records are global, we rarely have the opportunity to hear his works performed live on stage–especially the recordings from when he first started out. These are treasures! These treasures Vellu wanted to bring to the stage. He reached out to Uncle Q’s secretary. In return, he got a call from Uncle Q himself at 4 in the morning CET. He wanted to support the project.

Long story short, Uncle Q went to his archive room where all his music sheets are stored. Pages upon pages of precious material are stacked from the floor to the ceiling, feet deep. He sent Vellu the sheets of music from several songs. The interesting thing is that because some of these songs were composed and arranged and arranged again, all the sheets of notes couldn’t be found so here is where the genius of Vellu kicked in: just from listening to the original songs, he filled in the blanks with the notes, transcribed it all, sent it to Uncle Q, got his approval and The Essence of Quincy was born.

Twenty-four hours later, I still have goose bumps. You just don’t experience this genius of composition live on stage. Keen to every nuance from every instrument, I just couldn’t keep up with the elements, the pitches and the surprises. Reading the sheets of music, hah! Reading I say, looking at the original sheets of music where Uncle Q inserted the names of who should come in where, etcetera, was just simply nothing short of breathtaking. We’re talking brilliant musicians like Clark Terry and Patti Bown and so many greats who laid the foundation, who had skill, who loved their craft. Amazing.

And before the night was over, Vellu, spoke about the brilliance of physically constructing a musical instrument, and how one determines or figures out how a note will make what kind of sound and how these sounds come to life. Oh, it’s much more than amazing my friends.

Thank you to WDR Big Band bass player John Goldsby for this invitation. Thank you to the WDR Band for bringing this concert to life and thank you Vellu for having the light bulb, the inspiration and the wherewithal to bring this to the stage.

Uncle Q, at one of the shows we attended together, you hummed out the end of a song that a sax player was playing before he reached it. I asked you, “How did you know that his conclusion would sound like that?” You said, “Baby, that is just the natural progression of things”.

That’s it. Drop the mic.


Today she is officially 86 years young and just yesterday renewed her driver’s license!

Mama is the MOST amazing woman I know and it is no secret that many people regard her in this way. This fine specimen of a woman has good heart, a wicked sense of humor, her own sense of style, a cure for everything, is an avid reader and has an enthusiasm for life that is simply beyond compare.

I adore her. And when we, my sister Dana and I, aka as the menopausebarbees (and my menopausebarbee in the making niece Taryn), finally grow up, we want to be just like her.

This picture in the bathing suit was taken the night she won the first of her beauty queen titles: Miss Bronze of Seattle. It was the night she met our dad, who was playing the drums in the trio for the pageant.

Here’s a short excerpt from the chapter Heirlooms taken from my book, Incompatible with Nature–A Mother’s Story about that night–a night to remember…

Happy Birthday Mama; we love and are so, so thankful for all the joy that is you!

A two-time beauty queen, one of Mama’s coronations distinguishes her as the first black beauty queen in her hometown of Seattle, Washington. Daddy blew into her emerald city from Detroit, Michigan. Mile-long canary yellow convertible Cadillac and all.
A continuous hubbub of excitement permeated the air of the auditorium on that balmy summer evening in 1950. Anxiously waiting in the wings, Mama directed her gaze towards the trio assembled rear center stage. She watched Daddy bob his head to a count of three whereupon his teardrop-tipped drumsticks made a sound, the right sound, giving his bandmates their cue. Before the evening had come to an end, forty five contestants had strutted back and forth across the stage to various thunders of applause. As the Master of Ceremonies prepared to call out the name of the winner, Daddy’s sticks rolled across the drums heightening the anticipation. Mama could walk her talk. And she did as she glided triumphantly in strappy high heels and a white one-piece bathing suit across the stage to pick up her second beauty title, Miss Bronze of Seattle. Her lips, the same intense hue as the hibiscus pinned above her breast, looked as though they’d be red forever. Aside from his mother, she was the most divine woman Daddy had ever seen. He dropped anchor…
While he prepared his daughter to live in what he referred to as a man’s world, my mother instilled a certain womanliness in me. Though she grew up in a house with too few bedrooms for too many children, she carried herself with a noble bearing. A natural, confident sense of style told you she knew where she was going, even if she didn’t. Never afraid to get down in the trenches, yet she always took the time to ensure her perfume suited the seasons, instinctively knowing that less is more. The aroma of whatever she had simmering on the stove greeted you at the front door, made you happy to be home. She was what I like to call a woman’s woman. Daddy used to give her behind an affectionate pat and call her Prissy Missy, the only way he knew how to tell her that he admired her gumption as well as her long manicured fingernails. And though he liked to play “Me Tarzan, You Jane”, deep in his heart he knew that Mama was a fierce protector and the bedrock of our family.
As a child, she symbolized everything that was right in my world. Her belief in her faith never wavered; “Let go and let God” she’d say. Come hell or high water she affirmed the hopeful; her positive way of thinking was shatterproof. Always in my corner, ninety-nine wasn’t just the cigar, it was the whole damn tobacco harvest. She was for me that comforting cup of cocoa you sip, then close your eyes, wiggle your toes and say “yum.”

Best Brewed! From Flint to Keynote

I recently watched the Netflix documentary on Flint, Michigan, Flint Town. This neighbor city to my father’s birthplace, Detroit, is consistently among the country’s most violent. Residents are impoverished, underserved by the short staffed, underfunded police department and have had to endure a city wide water contamination cover up affecting the community of 100,000 people. The city still does not have clean drinking water. Violent crimes often take days for police to respond. Flint Town exposes a crisis happening in our own back yard. They need our help.

As I watched, often horrified the suffering of these residents, I thought of 1 who hailed from these streets. In 1995, she was recruited by Starbucks and became Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs. As you sip your morning Starbucks java all over the world (including my co-blogger and sister in Germany) imagine at this time, there were only 550 stores in North America! In 2006, after 11 years at Starbucks, this woman from the streets of Flint retired at age 53. At the request of CEO, Howard Schultz, in 2008 she returned to manage international communication during the company’s transformation.

I tell this woman constantly and today I share publically how proud I am of her accomplishments and how she inspires me. This morning, you too can all be moved as you listen to her give her keynote address from Michigan State University.

Wanda Herndon, we have spent countless years be it laughing, celebrating, attending plays, parties, theaters, mourning, giving or sharing.
Keep on keepin’ on- you are the 1 against all odds, and I’ll drink to that!

Wanda pictured far right.

Something for Your Toolbox

Incompatible with Nature–A Mother’s Story Amazon link:

Einen Herzschlag entfernt Amazon link:

Standing Tall…

The average height of women is said to 5’4 and for our male counterparts 5’10. I have always been “above average” standing in the rear row of all class photos at nearly 5’8 and with heels I am easily over 6′.

I often hear my smaller stature friends complain they wish they were taller. On the contrary, I recall growing up feeling self conscious about my height, especially when it came to dating. From converse tennis shoes to bow tie ballet flats, I rocked them all on the daily. I did not want to be Cher to any shorter man’s Sonny. As the years have progressed, I’ve gotten more comfortable in my height and now rarely wear flats. I am pleased that my daughter who is over 5’8 has always been comfortable in her height and even desires to keep growing.

I considered my height concerns when recently my Menopausebarbee sister, and co-blogger Tracie and I caught up with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Considered the greatest basket ball player of all time, scoring over 40,000 points, the largest in NBA history, Jabbar, towered over us standing a staggering 7’2!

At 71, he is now up to another tall challenge, as the oldest dancer of the season on Dancing with the Stars.

The Menopausebarbees wish Karrem all the best! Keep on dancin’ and standing tall. We will be rooting for you!

Holy Cow! in the menopausebarbee Monday Spotlight

And so anyway,

about a month or so ago, my sister Dana, went with her beau (that would be her Boo to you and me–it’s Monday morning–I couldn’t resist that one), to a restaurant near Seattle. Ah…delectable food. Distinctive wines. And an item on the menu that she found to be downright disgusting: beef cheeks. Cow face.

Yummy gone yuck.

The world is so big, yet so small.

Sitting in a restaurant on the Baltic Sea a couple weeks ago, I wanted to order a late lunch before going back to preparing for my book presentation. Reading the menu, I came across, Geschmorte Ochsenbäckchen. And I thought, really? Braised ox cheeks.

I ordered the fish.

When I finished eating, I thought I’d take a stroll down to the sea. I just wanted to put my fingers in it, leave a touch of myself in the cool waters of the youngest sea on our planet. The path towards my destination was in the middle of pasture land–acres and acres of land as far as the eye could see. How beautiful this is, I remember thinking. And then, I started seeing them: gigantic clumps of something. Really, really, really big clumps. No smell. Just monster sized dark brown clumps. And as I got closer up on one of them, I thought, OK I’m not a farm girl but just based on my location, this must be some kind of cow dung–from some kind of Patagotitana dinosaur sized cow. I didn’t see an animal in sight.

So I’m bewildered, befuddled and bothered because I want to know what this stuff is and where it came from.

When I get back to the hotel, I ask two ladies of the staff what these gigantic clumps could possibly be the best way I can because I didn’t know how to say cow dung in German. I end up just saying the only word I know for sh*t in German which is Sheisse and they both proceed to crack up laughing. One suggests that it might be from a bird. “Not possible,” I reply. Her colleague then tells me that the clumps are from the Galloway cows. She’s certain.

I’d never heard of this breed of animal and couldn’t wait to get my Google search engine on and read about it whose roots stem from 17th century Scotland.

Well, the following morning, I, along with all the families of the Fontan Heart Organization in Germany for whom I gave my book presentation, headed down to the sea to release hundreds of heart shaped balloons into the sky. And we saw one. And then another. Galloway cows. One of the most beautiful animals I’ve ever seen. Calm and peaceful. One man even reached out and touched one of its horns.

“You’re brave,” I say to him.
“They only want to eat the grass–not us,” he replies with a smile.
That’s a mouthful, right?

So because this beautiful breed of animal with the friendly face basically blew me away, I’m talking about it here in the menopausebarbee Monday Spotlight. According to Wikipedia: “The breed is ‘rare’ in the United States and the Livestock Conservancy classifies it as a breed to ‘watch’.”

Cheeks. That’s just got to be a tough one to swallow–no pun intended.

And so anyway,

it’s Monday–make it rock everybody!

Incompatible with Nature–A Mother’s Story:

Einen Herzschlag entfernt:

The Verdict is in! No Laughing Matter…

After yesterday’s verdict in the Bill Cosby sexual assault case, I reflected on a post I shared 2 years ago. It is said there is Truth in Comedy…

Recently, my son and I were perusing the record store bargain section on “oldies, but goodies.” Brett is an old school boy like his mama, so we were thrilled finding Al Green, a compilation of Motown Favorites, the best of Whitney Houston, and Sam Cooke at the $4.99 table.

As we were preparing to check out, Brett happened upon a CD, and just shook his head and handed it me. Incredulous, it was entitled:

Bill Cosby

It’s true! It’s true!

The first number on the 1969 Warner Brother’s CD was entitled “It’s the Woman’s Fault.” Seriously… let that sink in a moment.

As a women, as a daughter, as a mother… I will never condone a female being sexually assaulted under any terms. Power and privilege are not protection from the truth.
There is truth in Comedy… and perhaps when Bill was doling out the Quaaludes, and making this Warner Brother’s CD, he should have also been selling this t-shirt along with his Jell-O and pudding…

Cosby is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault. He has pleaded not guilty and contends the sexual encounter with Constand was consensual. Each count carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.