Simple and Easy

Today I bike-strolled “the bells” on the orange Townie, an upright hand-me-down from Mom. My biking-fool Dad came too. He’s been dead for years. So what?

It was crisp and sunny, so I sported my shades. Whispered to a deer along the way, “Hello, Friend.” Fantasized about my wildest dreams. No coughing fits. Whistled Matt’s lyrics and Greg’s tune:

“Be still and rejoice in God, as God rejoices in you.”

Who knew prayer could be like this?


When we met for breakfast this morning, I warned my travelmates I was feeling especially effervescent. My cousin asked what that meant and Rob responded, “Foaming at the mouth.” Doug wanted the technical definition. He knew of “bubbly” as in champagne but wasn’t as familiar with Webster’s second definition, “vivacious and enthusiastic.”

What I know from experience is that this trait of mine turns some people off, way off. Especially the foaming version. But when I contain myself, it is as if I have bubbles underneath my skin. I enjoy this feeling. From here, I notice more.

Especially when it seems to be perpetually drizzling in Rio de Janiero and we choose to go to the botanical garden instead of the famous close-and-socked-in mountaintops. There we see an armadillo scurrying past in broad daylight and monkeys above us.

After hours of strolling while the quieter ones in our foursome identify much of the flora, I begin to calm.

This is a delightful feeling too.

My Word!

I’ve chosen a word for the year every year for the last 15. This year it’s “gifts,” because I find it’s good to start the day asking, “What can I give?” And to end it too, “What were the gifts?” I almost chose “applauding” because, my God, there is so much to be exuberantly grateful for and then I remembered my questions about gifts. It became Ignatian-like as I was reflecting while falling asleep on Iona.

I resolve today to make that pilgrim’s practice a habit.

Dear Ones 2022

One of my favorite holiday decorations is the “tree” displayed in the corner of our dining room. It builds itself during Advent as your cards and letters arrive. I suspect that by moving away from a photo card via USPS, we risk receiving fewer such hard-copy greetings from you. While I don’t want to lose touch, I’m also attempting to move away from paper, to de-clutter as it were. I even tried using a Kindle app on my iPad for reading this year. Alas, I have mixed feelings about this and am ol’ school in other ways too. And yet, I do giggle when I find myself the designated IT person at a Zoom meeting, for instance, or when someone asks for e-advice. Old dogs can learn new tricks.

I love this last stretch of the year, in the middle of the 12 Days of Christmas, when Rob and I retreat to the beach, laden with our reading and writing projects. We expect stormy weather and cozy times by the fire with lots of time for reflection. We have yet to be disappointed; this year we were introduced to King Tides. Plus journaling is a major part of my practice including reading back over entries at this time of year. Rob is grateful because that means I talk lots to myself, slightly limiting how much I talk out loud to him.

I am tempted to summarize 2022 in the style of that proverbial annual holiday letter but December itself has many dear, bittersweet, and nostalgic highs and lows. I’ll spare you with only a month’s worth of highlights.

Like Clarke’s first concert as a conductor since he is now a full-time music teacher at Pathfinder K-8. And the day I helped Carolina make lasagna with homemade noodles for Reid Family Birthdays (she sent each household home with an untouched dish for the freezer too). Who knew our slushy stroll to nearby Candy Cane Lane with the 20/30-year-olds from church would be before the big iced-over day and things would get even more slippery? There was the Christmas Eve at Clarke’s townhouse when 94-and-a-half-year-old Mom ascended and descended the long staircase and finished uninjured, wrapped in Love. Two dinners with a favorite threesome, finally out of sanctuary so they can party with us (more about them in St. Mark’s upcoming Rubric). Old favorite games like “Fishbowl” and new ones too, like “Penny Drop.” My god-daughter’s sweet baby boy born on Christmas Eve. Having every credit card rejected at Freddy’s when I tried to buy gift cards for the outreach ministry and they finally let me use that lone check I carry around for emergencies. Jeez, talk about ol’ school.

OK, so this is my nod to season’s greetings. There really is something I treasure about recollecting. And also about collecting yours. And especially about the connections we nurture, direct and virtual. I hope you will continue sending them in one form or another.

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Love, Penny (and Editor Rob too)


I imagine it will be awhile before I have grandchildren, so today during the service I fantasized about all the little ones around me for whom I am Grandgodmother. How nice to be tangibly acknowledged in this self-acclaimed role by Lydia and her family after church because I had bought a wreathe to benefit her preschool. It was waiting for us out in the parking lot.

And sweet to remember a few Thursdays ago when we had gathered early for Church in the Darkness. Afterwards at breakfast together, her Mom had apologetically asked if anyone wanted to purchase holiday greenery. We were practically falling all over ourselves to exclaim, “YES!”

That’s the way Grandgodparents are, after all.