Travels with Penelope

Travel, Food, Wine, Spirituality and Everything Else

Category: Antiquity

Vineyards and Cemeteries





In the past eight months I have had the fortune to visit some of the lesser known wine regions of Europe.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

March 24, 2016 Squatty Potty

Usually, I do not get so personal on my blog site, although one could argue that a blog post is always personal, so kindly bear with me.  This past weekend my son and daughter-in-law decided that the time had come to focus on potty training their two –year-old daughter.

After all, if she was ready to drive, she was surely capable of handling a potty.


It would be a concentrated three-day process during which the family would remain at home and in the house for the most part. I was given the assignment of creating artwork with my precious granddaughter between movements.

At the beginning of her transition  from the familiar diaper to the potty-chair and underwear, a momentous process for any two year old, Fed Ex delivered a large box to the front door. My son informed me that the box contained the squatty potty that he had ordered a few days earlier, not a potty for his daughter, but one for the adults in the family.

The weekend turned into a double whammy. Not only would we go through the traditional training with the two-year old, we adults would also be examining our own process and looking at a way to improve on it.

Having traveled to Egypt, lived in Asia, with over a year in India alone, I was very familiar with traditional forms of the squatty potty. We know that our ancestors squatted for thousands of years before the modern toilet was invented. In much of the east squatting over a ground level receptacle still prevails.

Opening the big box revealed a raised bench for the feet that looked like anything but a potty. I doubted the ability of the stepping stool contraption that stood before me to further my bodies ability to eliminate.

Still, I was open to trying it out.  The attached directions instructed me to place the bench-squatty potty in front of the ceramic toilet bowl, sit on the bowl seat,  and bring my feet up on to the bench. The bench was nine inches tall, but I am told a seven inch is also available thereby allowing adjustments for toilet height. After my first go-round I became not only a fan, but as this post attests, an advocate of the squatty potty.

Check out the video for more info. If you remain unconvinced, google your way around the web and research the benefits of squatting. As you will observe, many experts claim that squatting is the one exercise that should never be eliminated. No pun intended.

Along with my granddaughter, I, too, made an adjustment. And, we had a wonderful weekend in which the family gathered to make art,


cook food and learn of a new-old way to experience the human condition.

Happy squatting!

December 7, 2015 Fields of Blood


Following the Thanksgiving rituals and the conclusion of visits from umpteen out of town family members I finally found time to get back to my Portuguese journal. But when I tried to write, I found myself with an unusual case of writer’s block. Poor Portugal. Feeling sick from the recent events in Paris and more senseless killings that followed, I had to put pen aside while I tried to make some sense of it all. There is no excuse for the killings, but I felt I needed to come to some kind of helpful, personal understanding about the events.

A few days into my processing I passed by The Avid Reader, a longstanding Davis, independent bookstore. In the window I noted Fields of Blood, by Karen Armstrong. While I did not find the title appealing, I have found Armstrong’s writings incredibly informative. A Ted prize winner among others, she has been called “one of the greatest writers on religion…” I entered the bookstore, perused her book and purchased it. Shortly, I settled into my favorite reading spot. After reading the introduction, I felt grateful that the book had landed in my path at this particular time. I have never recommended a book on this blog, but in this case I cannot but do so.

Check it out if you wish….