Blog

Conversation with a seven-year-old old

December 2, 2018

She asked to come along when I offered to drop off the dry cleaning for her mother. It’s a short drive to Patterson Cleaners, a little over a mile—six or seven minutes each way. Who would expect to cover topics ranging from scatological vocabulary to the origin of the species in less than fifteen minutes?…

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Mass Shootings: Are You Enraged Yet? – Part I

November 19, 2018

Can you remember back to March 24, 1998? That was the day two middle school students in Jonesboro, Arkansas, pulled a fire alarm at their school then, using a cache of weapons they had hidden in nearby woods, shot at students and teachers as they fled the building. Four students and a teacher were killed;…

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Two Lists

November 13, 2018

The breath-holding suspense of Election Day (which still continues)  The horror of Borderline, latest of the interminable succession of mass shootings, (which never seem to stop) The strong emotions surrounding Veterans Day’s (which feel particularly upsetting this year) And the California fires so close to home (which, of course, still continue). Mrs. Penfire’s head is…

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The Spanish Steps

November 5, 2018

Sometimes you can’t really sort out the sights (and sites) you’ve seen until you revisit them in memory weeks—or months—later. Such is the case when I ponder our brief encounter with the Spanish Steps. They were on our “not-to-be-missed” list for the city of Rome because they are on everyone’s list. See for yourself: Flip…

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Thousands of Coins in the Fountain

November 1, 2018

At many of Rome’s most popular (and crowded) tourist sights—the Colosseum and the Vatican spring to mind—prescheduled tours can save interminable waits in long lines. At the Gallery Borghese, pre-purchased tickets are mandatory. And are often sold out. Our plan for Friday, our third (and final) full day in Rome was built around our visit…

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It’s All About the View

October 8, 2018

Castel Sant’Angelo. It started out as a mausoleum for the Emperor Hadrian. A massive cylindrical drum sitting on an equally massive stone base and topped by a golden quadriga—sculpture of a chariot pulled by four horses running abreast. Visualize a giant stone birthday cake with horses on top! To connect his future burial place with…

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Mr. and Mrs. Penfire Stop for Lunch

October 5, 2018

When we first contemplated traveling to Italy, we thought we simply didn’t know enough to be do-it-ourselves travelers. Looking back now at the itinerary, I see that the tour we nearly booked would have been a big disappointment. The tour offered only a thirty-minute “orientation walk” on the day of arrival in Rome, with the…

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Saint Peter’s Basilica

September 16, 2018

From the Sistine Chapel it’s just a short walk to the portico of Saint Peter’s Basilica, where perhaps in a different year we might have acquired a bit of surety on truly making it to Heaven one day. The Holy Door on the north end of the portico is cemented shut and opened only at…

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