Blog

Mrs. Penfire Opens a Time Capsule

July 18, 2021

I recently discovered a time capsule hidden in a box on the back of a closet shelf—Great Grandma’s recipes. When my husband’s grandmother died in 1987, her recipe collection was handed on to me. An ancient My Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook (© 1930) so crammed with clippings, handwritten recipes, and various commercial recipe leaflets, that…

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Mrs. Penfire–Ever Persistent

July 12, 2021

It’s not easy trying to save the world. But Mrs. Penfire is persistent, if not entirely successful (as least, not yet). “They’re called trees!” On Earth Day, April 22, the LA Times ran contradictory stories that set her jumping up and down on her keyboard. She was pleasantly surprised when that letter was published three…

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BETTER? OR WORSE?

April 27, 2021

It is disheartening, to say the least, to sit down at the kitchen table with your first cup of coffee, scan the headlines of your morning paper, and see that one of your favorite places—and favorite views—overlooks a toxic waste dump. That was my experience this morning, and I am still trying to wrap my…

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1920 vs. 2020

March 21, 2021

My uncle, Joe Flynn, was a great storyteller, and he had many stories to tell. His life spanned nearly the entire twentieth century. After Joe died, I realized that I was the keeper of these stories, that each was a chapter, and that once I had written them all down, I would be the author…

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One Year in 150 Words

March 17, 2021

On February 28, the letters editor of the Los Angeles Times requested submissions summarizing readers’ thoughts on the past year of life during the coronavirus pandemic. I was inspired to condense the swirling chaos in my brain to 150 relatively coherent words.   The Times has published many readers’ letters. But not mine. So I…

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Mrs. Penfire Writes a Letter

December 12, 2020

Back in October Mr. Penfire and I were both pretty astounded by a segment on the NBC News entitled “Black Americans in ‘Cancer Alley’ Disproportionately Exposed to Toxic Pollution.”https://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/video/black-americans-in-cancer-alley-disproportionately-exposed-to-toxic-pollution-94107205554  This story is all too familiar: A massive conglomerate is using its power and deep pockets to inflict severe damage on a poor community. The story…

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Diaries

November 30, 2020

I just sent away for another “Day-at-a-Glance” calendar. Don’t ask me why. I always start a new year with the best of intentions. I will keep a diary…of sorts. Why do I continue to entertain the delusion that I can…or should… or will…do this? Faithfully writing down what happened each day and my thoughts (which,…

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Pandemic fatigue

November 17, 2020

Why did we think that we would escape the kind of historic cataclysms that have upended the lives of every generation? Think of our parents. And grandparents. I think of my grandmother. First cataclysm: Flu epidemic of 1918. Mary and Phil Flynn lived in the first floor apartment of a brand new triple-decker on Morton…

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Don’t take the bait!

July 16, 2020

Tuesday, I decided to think seriously about trolls. And trolling. It was an op-ed in the morning newspaper that inspired me: “How Russia trolls the 2020 U.S. vote.” What are the Russians up to? I’ve been wondering about this since all the brouhaha just prior to the 2016 election. To be honest I’ve been skeptical….

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