The Wednesday Five: Dancing With Midlife Stars, Trayvon Martin Musings, and Keri Gans Helps Our Daily Bread

Photo: Martin Frisch (marfis75 on flickr)

In this first official week of spring, our bloggers worried about the Trayvon Martin tragedy and the Supreme Court’s healthcare debates, argued over the new Mad Men premiere, and learned that WVFC’s Keri Gans is making BIG changes in what millions of Americans eat.

  • Like many of us, dancer Sondra Forsyth has mostly kept her distance from the TV show Dancing With the Stars,  even though it often features WVFC-eligible contestants such as Kirstie Alley and (this week) Martina Navratilova: “I’m far from a ballet snob and I teach some social dancing from around the world in my own arts-in-education company, but dance competitions of any sort have never appealed to me,” Forsyth writes at Third Age.  “I was having dinner at a neighborhood restaurant when I overheard two Boomer-age women [who]  obviously loved the show and they were especially taken with music legend Gladys Knight, the oldest contestant of the evening at 68.” The result was a week of TV-watching chronicled at the link, during which “I was totally charmed when Gladys Knight, a vision in red, said the Pips never let her dance but that she was getting her turn at last.” Click over for details and photos.
  • The week’s evolving news about the death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin (at the hands of a self-appointed “neighborhood watcher”) was on many minds. Check out Sinead O’Connor’s  impassioned statement on Martin (PDF link here) from the website The iconic singer, after imploring for compassion from readers and urging black youth to organize, takes a moment to reassure her compatriots that America is better than this: “[It]  is extremely embarrassing and does absolutely NOT paint the true picture of of a country and a people who for the 90% majority are the  kindest, most loving, intelligent, and wonderful people you could know. Please . . . ALL Americans should deplore this crime. As should ALL people of ALL nations.” At The Root, veteran Newsweek writer Allison Samuels asks why the media spent more time in March on overseas stories (like George Clooney’s arrest in Sudan) than the crime right under Disney’s nose in Sanford, FL. Boomer journalist, late-boomer poet—women of style and substance are making themselves heard.
  • At WVFC we love our frequent columns from nutritionist Keri Gans, author of The Small Change Diet,  and we thought we knew her pretty well.  But did you know that she’s also in the business of transforming our bread? That’s what we learned from this Q&A with Gans at Lady and The Blog.  Some of the interview may sound familiar, as whem Gans tells blogger Tabitha, “Start your day with breakfast. Stop thinking about skipping meals. Food is a friend, an ally. Women need to be eating on a regular basis in order to be healthy. Women equate health with size, which is not always the case.” But then Tabitha goes for the gold: “Tell us about your work with Thomas’ English Muffins and Bagel Thins.”  The answer should send us all scurrying to Facebook: “I help create delicious recipes, which are on the Thomas’ English Muffins and Bagel Thins Facebook page. I love the breakfast recipes. I use Thomas’ Whole Wheat Bagel Thins. I feel that breakfast is important. It’s a perfect partnership for Thomas’ English Muffins and Bagel Thins and I. They have a product that I recommend to my patients and on Twitter. I always recommend choosing foods that are high in fiber. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be so complicated for that busy woman.” Let us know in comments if you use any of the recipes.
  • Speaking of healthy living, at this writing the U.S. Supreme Court is in the middle of an unprecedented three days of argument on the Affordable Care Act, the law sometimes known as “Obamacare.” The National Women’s Law Center has a briefer outlining what women could lose if it’s reversed. “One of the ACA’s primary goals is to improve women’s health and address the discrimination women have faced in the health insurance market—disadvantages and discrimination that often lead women to bear significant costs or go without health care altogether. The law begins to remedy the economic impact of the discrimination that women have long faced in the health insurance market,” the center asserts. For legal eagles, the center explains in depth under “Further Discussion.” For instance, there are categories such as “The ACA Ends Insurer Practices That Hurt Women” (including gender ratings and preexisting-conditions clauses); “In Enacting the ACA, Congress Acted Well Within Its Constitutional Authority”;  and ACA “follows in a tradition of civil rights and women’s rights laws squarely within Congress’s power.” Whatever your politics, the debate is a big deal. Are you personally affected by the outcome? Let us know in comments.
  • After all the anticipation, including recipes, you knew this week’s video clip would concern Mad Men.  Blogs were certainly roiling after Sunday night: At Thought Catalog, Chelsea Fagan found that after the 17-month break, ” It was like the entire office had been shot with tranquilizer darts and woken up from a several-hour nap (the kind where it’s dark out when you open your eyes and you aren’t even sure what year it is). And beyond the whole shaking-off-the-mothballs aesthetic, things just seemed . . . off.” At the American Prospect, Amanda Marcotte disagreed, finding the series’s 1966 setting weirdly appropriate in today’s weird gender politics, while Gina Carbone gleaned the 21 tastiest quotes from its sparkling dialogue, such as ” “Men hate surprises. Didn’t you have ‘Lucy’ in Canada?” Click over, read Carbone’s whole list, then click back and tell us (without using  Google) which is actually imported from real life.

The Wednesday 5: Boudoirs Then and Now, That “Good Foods” List And Musings on Grand Mansions

This week’s summer blog tastes run from serious to very silly: The Root on race and politics, new weight-loss theory and practice, and what Marie Antoinette’s boudoir and corset were really like.

  • At The Root, WVFC contributor Mary C. Curtis reflects on the current fuss created by presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann   when she signed a pledge that included claims that  black children were better off under slavery as Curtis visits a former plantation now up for sale. The latter, Curtis said, serves as a sad reality check. Surprisingly, it wasn’t outrage I felt but profound sadness, she writes. I realized that the history of this house, constructed in 1817, mirrors America’s own with its lovingly preserved mansion alongside a crumbling slave house. It’s a history of privilege and neglect. Click over to read the rest, including how current politics are still at play.
  • It began with a small group of women and one stapled book in Boston in 1971. Since then, Our Bodies, Ourselves has inspired women’s health and human rights movements in 25 countries. So begins an invitation from Christine Cupaiolo, the first editor of Women’s Voices For Change,  and the rest of the Our Bodies Ourselves team to a human rights symposium, featuring women’s health activists from around the world. Follow the link to Our Bodies, Our Blog to sign up , and stick around for the resources being produced every day.
  • We just discovered Lynne Byrne”s Decor Arts Now and its Exquisite Tuesdays, which this week focuses on what  it might mean to have your own personal boudoir. Byrne’s luscious essay includes photos of museum boudoirs, like  little glimpses from the boudoir of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor, and much more: Sofia Coppola’s vision for the boudoir of Marie Antoinette looks yummy (to say the least).
  • Speaking of history and the boudoir, The Hairpin continues its tour of lingerie past. Our tour guide, Edith Zimmerman, gets us up to speed first: In the 17th century they let their breasts hang out, but in the Victorian era they tied them up with string, which romance novelists have been investigating for their bosomy romance-novel purposes. We wonder if any of us would fit into the corset shown in the blog or would want to. Or what Marie Antoinette wore in that boudoir.


Broadway Bound: A Mom’s Day Memory

May 8, 2011 by  
Filed under Family & Friends, Musings

Mom was steadfast and dependable and all those qualities that are positive – to be sure—but not all that exciting. She woke up early and stayed up late, making sure the house and the bills and the cooking and the cleaning were taken care of, efficiently. She was the one who never missed a teacher’s meeting, who organized the games and the snacks when friends came over.

Dad was the handsome swashbuckler who worked several jobs and brought home the bacon. He had a sharp wit and a crooked smile that showed he understood the hopes and dreams of his brood of five. I was the baby, the daddy’s girl, who adored dad and took mom for granted, I’m ashamed to admit.

Though I probably thought I knew it all, of one thing I was sure: Mom would never surprise me.

But she did, on my 16th birthday. She asked what I wanted, and this West Baltimore girl who loved the Broadway theater she read about but lived far from in more ways than you can imagine, told her: “I want to go to New York and see a show.”

She didn’t laugh. Instead she said, “That sounds like a good idea.”

So we got on a train, without a theater ticket or hotel room, and made our way from one Penn station to another. We saw her choice, “Hello, Dolly!” with Pearl Bailey and Cab Calloway, and mine, “Play It Again, Sam,” with Woody Allen and Diane Keaton. And though I had to explain a few of the jokes, we had a grand time. She got us a steak dinner and a room for the night, and the next day, on the trip home, I couldn’t stop smiling.

I should have known. For a woman who raised five kids, returned to college and made a later-in-life career as an elementary school teacher, a last-minute trip to New York was a piece of cake.

I never underestimated Evelyn Thomas Curtis again. The year before she died, she fulfilled a life’s dream–a pilgrimage to Rome to see the Pope. I have the rosary he blessed that she brought home as a souvenir.

Mom and I shared something special after that adventure. Now that she’s been gone for more than 25 years, it’s a memory and a lesson I return to all the time: It’s never too late to have fun–and to surprise the people who think they know you best. Just ask my often embarrassed son.

The Wednesday Five: Cheers for Justice Kagan, Musings from Dominique Browning

August 11, 2010 by  
Filed under Newsmakers

This week, our blog posts include Dominique Browning on relaxing into this phase of life, congratulations to the newly confirmed Justice Kagan, a thoughtful look at black women in Hollywood, and an invitation to take part in a survey about how we get our health information.

Well, after all the hearings and political posturing, we can now say these words: Justice Elena Kagan. Many women’s blogs celebrated, including, which notes that with the addition of Kagan, women have officially reached “critical mass” on the Supreme Court. Quoting the White House Project Report, HelloLadies explains that “This term is typically used in the context of nuclear physics and refers to the quantity needed to start a chain reaction, an irreversible propulsion into a new situation or process.” In other words, rather than being viewed as abnormal or a “special case,” women are now considered entirely fused into this most professional of milieux. (Let’s keep in mind, though, that Justice Kagan is only the fourth woman to serve on the high-court bench.)

At Bitch, Ph.D., English professor Sybil Vane reflects on the multiple adjustments of women in academia. In a post entitled “Securities and Exchange,” she explores her complex feelings about leaving a position where she was moving up for another, less advantageous one that reunites her with her husband and gives their daughter a live-in dad again. From the stupor-inducing project of “eating down” a pantry overstocked with carbs to musings on why her colleagues are rejoicing for her, Vane looks at the ongoing ambiguities of women’s career paths in academia.

Do you use the Internet for health information? Then you might want to check in with Health on the Net, notes Rachel at Our Bodies Our Blog. The HON Foundation is currently conducting a survey to measure the extent to which people use the Internet to self-diagnose their conditions. By contributing your responses, you can help develop guidelines for assessing the credibility of health information on the Web.

At, Nsenga Burton writes, “There’s a reason Tyler Perry and Lee Daniels are the ones we see making movies about the lives of African-American women.” In her article, “Black Women and the Hollywood Shuffle,” Burton takes a thoughtful, in-depth look at the way the film industry works–hierarchies, patriarchies, and all. A necessary read for anyone interested in moviemaking these days…

And at Dominique Browning’s exquisite blog, SlowLoveLife, an unthinking comment by a younger woman sets Browning on a turbulent emotional arc, from anger and denial to the hard-won but graceful acceptance that sometimes comes with phase of life. Take the trip with her in her post, “Relax and Enjoy the Ride.”