Travels with Penelope

Travel, Food, Wine, Spirituality and Everything Else

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July 5, 2016 An American Kali?

I would assume that most Americans do not know who Kali is?

Perhaps herein lies a basis for the fact that we have never had a female president.

Currently, I am in the land of Athena, Aphrodite, and several other mythic goddesses who rise to the level of Kali. In Europe, yes, where women are voted into power. In browsing on my computer this morning I came across Kathleen Kennedy’s article, an accurate and eye-opening assessment of some of why the US has never elected a female to the top office.


Read the article here.


June 16, 2016 Issues Corrected, Here is The Squatty Potty Inspires Art…

If you read my recent posts on the squatty potty you may remember that its lower end purpose is to aid in the evacuation process. Well, it turns out that the squatty potty has served a higher purpose as well.

Recently, in archiving his collection of articles my partner, who has been a vital part of the UCDavis academic community for over forty years, came across some information that described the influence of the squatty potty on a development in mid 20th-century art. Hard to believe? Read on.

As of the mid-sixties a talented group of faculty and grad students in the Art Department at the University of California, Davis would come to wield influence over the direction of some of the mid to late 20th century movements. An illustration of their influence manifested in the art exhibited in an exhibition titled, The Slant Step.

It all began when the now world-famous William Wiley an art professor at Davis, and his student Bruce Nauman discovered a funky step stool at a thrift store in Marin County, California. Instead of a flat step, the step was slanted. If one were to stand on it say, to reach an object on a shelf or cupboard high overhead, one could likely slide off. Intrigued by the irregularity, the artistic duo purchased the stool brought it back to the Davis campus. Shortly, it migrated around the art department drawing the unmitigated fascination of Profs and students to such an extent that the funk object began to enjoy a cult-like status.

By the time I came to work at UCDavis by way of the Davis Enterprise as an art critic over thirty years had passed since The Slant Step exhibition had taken place in San Francisco. It is no surprise that from the intrigue with the stool coupled with their multi-media talent, that the faculty produced such an exhibit. Conversation and continued fascination on the show of object art, ceramics, plaster, and mixed media long on humor continued within the walls of the department for years. I became well aware of The Slant Step, but I did not know the true purpose of the funky step stool until my partner informed me of the information he found as he perused his archives. With that, I did a bit more research and came across a recent article from the LA Times.

Though the squatty potty has only recently achieved a cult-like status among hip health-minded groups, it has a long history. One piece of information I would add to the Times article is one of the meanings of funk: stench-bad odor-smell!

June 5, 2016 Red Wine Headaches?

Occasionally, someone sends me a report or article that fits in with some of the material I share on this blog. The following an article sent to me by my partner is not from UCDavis news, although it quotes one of the oenologists from Davis, but an informative piece that appeared in the Chicago Tribune. So,  red wine lovers, headaches begone!


What’s really causing that red wine headache – Chicago Tribune…/sc-redwineheadache-health-0608-201…

Chicago Tribune

May 25, 2016 – Sulfites often get the blame for red wine headaches, but experts say tyramine and tannins are probably at fault.

May 23, 2016 Passionately doing nothing…



The city of Rome seems ever so far away, but not the meeting with Pope Francis. I feel it as though it happened just this morning. We completed the seven-basilica tour including a stroll along the Appian Way in our last days in Rome, but today I am moving beyond that pilgrimage.

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May 20, 2016 Apology





Senator Bob Bennett’s deathbed apology to Muslims for Donald Trump brought up the memory of a trip I made in 2003. That memory will be forever emblazoned in my mind. Continue reading

May 5, 2016 Hail Mary!





Thank you to all of you who signed up for the Word Press emails!

For the past two weeks, I have been spending a lot of time reflecting on the experiences I had in Rome. I wanted to write more about them, but every time I sat at my computer to do so my mind would float off into the ethers where an image of Francis would emerge. Meeting such a being left not just a lasting impression, but a lasting exclamation mark. It was a wow event and one that I continue to ponder. Rome held a special magic with which I continue to be  intoxicated, but this morning I am finally getting back to the keyboard.

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April 20, 2016 Meeting over, we head for Pianostrada


At the conclusion of our soul-full meeting with Francis, we walked the few steps from our chairs towards the large doors of St. Peter’s Basilica.





Once inside the pilgrim-full cathedral, we chose to circle around the outer margins with special stops at Pope John XXIII’s memorial. I lit a candle in honor of the gifts of the day.

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April 20, 2016 Francis Speaks on Almsgiving

An addition to the previous post is the English translation of the talk given to us by Francis.




April 15, 2016 Meeting Pope Francis






Every time I sit down to write about the trip to the Vatican I go quiet. No words do not a writer make nor do double negatives. The thing that does come up is the site of a smiling Pope Francis as he rode out in his Popemobile, the sound of his gentle voice as he spoke to the crowd and the feel of his hand as he shook mine. And, his face: clear, innocent, childlike.

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April 8, 2016 The Crawl

A warm day greeted me as I disembarked. The flight to Rome was as smooth as one could hope for, but I must remember to take food on future flights with AA. When my vegetarian meal failed to materialize, the flight attendant offered me a choice between tortellini and chicken. I chose chicken though I do not eat chicken because the plate had a few veggies: overcooked green beans and carrots heaped on mashed potatoes. Apart from the entre, the rest of the meal was made up of white flour carbs, a Velveeta style cheese, and a high sugar brownie. Unappealing and unhealthy! American Airlines, you should be ashamed. Thankfully, the food in Rome is more than making up.

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