Photo Booth and Beyond

Wherein our kids threw us a 40th anniversary party and did all the work too. What’s the real story behind this shindig? What’s our secret to a long marriage? You gotta read yesterday’s post to find out. Here’s where you’ll find representatives from the photo booth plus pre and post-event pics of family and friends, some from as far away as Indiana, Michigan and even, Australia.

We had a grand time together.

Lots of “A Party” Photos

Rob and Penny on the rocks

So it’s May Day and no longer our anniversary month. Still, never too late for this story…

Long ago when we were kids, we met in an REI climbing class, fell in love and got married. This year on Easter Sunday—April 9th—we celebrated our 40th anniversary.

Many have asked, “What’s your secret to a long marriage together?” First, we both had to keep breathing and stay alive. That’s key.

On Earth Day, Cathedral Day, the Women’s Retreat and several of your birthdays—April 22nd—our kids threw us a party. People asked if we were going to renew our vows. Lord knows, we renew our vows on some level every day. We did sing Old 100th for a blessing in 4-parts to acknowledge how grateful we are. Our high-five at the end was one of my favorite “Amens” ever.

Four years ago, during Rob’s surgery to address stage 4 bladder cancer, I was alone in the hospital chapel. I held my palm out and pressed against the resistance I could feel from your prayers that were holding us. At our A(nniversary) Party, the net of love, kindness, and laughter was joyous and no less prayerful. Some of you were there in person; many more nearby and around the globe were in our hearts.

I am a fortunate girl. Hallelujah!

Here’s a collection of photos to give you a feel for it:

Our kids, Clarke and Carolina, Lead Musician and Leader of Frivolity, respectively
Rob raising his hand enthusiastically to say he’d been married for 40 years. Penny laughing.
And here’s when he was saying the same thing but not so enthusiastically. Penny still laughing.
Harmonizing “Be present at our party, Lord” to Old 100th
Our oldest guest, at 95, my mother
Our youngest guest, at 4 months, with his Grandpa
Having fun at the kids’ table
Dinner was scrumptious, thanks to
Quarter Ton Events.
Quarter Ton Events owner behind the scenes with Chef Carrie and Sous Maddie
And what’s a party without cake?
There was Magic too. Our friend, Rick Swaney, had us spellbound.
Like I said, they were spellbound.
Riveted by Magic. “How does he do that?”
Phew! We’re compatible. We each picked half cards that completed each other.
And The Cumbieros! Great live cumbia music for dancing, with Clarke on the keys.
It’s been a while since I’ve led the conga line at last call.
We had Carolina’s Little Devils helping us with whatever we needed, including kisses.
So much love and care helping Mom down the stairs. A nurse, EMT, daughter and nephew all lended a hand.
After Party: Installing bees at the cathedral the very next day
Cathedral apiarist on the move
Instead of gifts, we asked for optional donations to St Mark’s Cathedral or nonprofit of choice. Still, our mantel is packed with cards and well-wishes. Thanks, everyone.

If you’ve read this far, maybe you’re wondering where the Photo Booth pics are. Stay tuned.

Also, many thanks to Kevin Johnson, Pam Reid, Melissa Pittz, Anne Reid, and others for helping us illustrate the festivities with these photographs.

Holy Land 2023 (Seyi)

Seyi’s Holy Land 2023: the final post!

As I reflect on what was the last day of our pilgrimage, I am also reflecting on my process of publishing my experiences to this blog. Writing is “always there” for me and poetry specifically, is always accessible wherever I am, as long as I have a pen and paper. (And if that is not available, then I’ll use my phone.) But this was my first time to share my poetry with the unknown world of the internet. It has been a process of choosing to be vulnerable while hyper aware of my words at the same time, using my core value of authenticity as the guiding light through it all.

I give many thanks to the awesome Penny for inviting me to be a guest author on “Always Bridging”. The opportunity was a wonderful gift and it deepened my processing of the pilgrimage experience. And I am grateful for those who have read these posts and joined the journey through this virtual lens.

Now with much gratitude: I present the ultimate (last) post for the series.

Pilgrimage Day 8: We started with Sunday service at St. George’s Cathedral and had the very special opportunity to meet with the archbishop. After lunch I spent time in St. George’s courtyard, where I sat in the sun writing (and re-applying my sunscreen!), soaking up the beautiful space (photo shown below). Later, a subset of us visited the Hadassah Medical Center to see the Chagall Windows. I was not previously familiar with this famous artist’s work. It was another wonderful opportunity to observe beautiful art and learn about its inspiration and history. The Medical Center also featured other artwork; my favorite piece was the sculpture shown in the photo above. I deliberately captured “Healing Our World Together” in the background.

I wrote my last poem for the pilgrimage during my time in St. George’s courtyard that afternoon, my final letter to the Holy Land.

3/12/2023 1:26 pm

Dear Living Stones,

In courtyard peace, we sit at nexus with time’s changing hand. A people who wander from exile to exile the other. Let us remember this: We are all of the land. In bread and olives, the cheese offers this blessing for new life. Water flows upstream to see the gifts that The Fountain spoke to The Well. Here I sit, with birds calling for a new way to be. The Fountain reminds me that there is always room for renewal in its pool. Just come closer.

In stillness, today there is not a cloud in abundant sky to cover my shame. I am still afraid. Fear binds me to this chair draped over thorns, vines in regret. But even the fruit fly who sips my coffee reminds me that I am okay.

In grace, I kneel before The Fountain. Flounder dreams below arches of the bishop blessed. Surrender sealed in water holy. Relinquish all you carry to the sacred: this pool.

In reflection, I see the bird nest hide. I have lost my shadow. We drown our memories together. It is here that I find my peace in St. George’s courtyard, underneath God’s grace in the Jerusalem Sun.

In depth with gratitude,


Holy Land 2023 (Seyi)

It has been four weeks since we returned from the Holy Land pilgrimage. I did not post on the last two days of our trip for the sake of my sleep: the whole falling asleep after dinner and waking up to post before midnight was taking its toll. But I did maintain my daily poetry writing, so I have two last poems to share. Consider this the wrap up for the “Holy Land 2023 (Seyi)” series! This will actually be my penultimate post to cover our second to last day; I’ll post the last day of the journey separately.

Note: While the poems were written four weeks ago (and dated accordingly), my preamble reflections are from today looking back at memories and photos.

Pilgrimage Day 7: We started our day visiting a crusader church in Abu Gosh. The church had a beautiful crypt where I felt this somber peace. Then we journeyed up a hill to have our last group Eucharist overlooking the city (photo shown above). I remember it was so windy that day; I tightly wrapped my prayer shawl around my head. There were a couple highlights for me that morning. We sang “There is a Balm in Gilead” twice: first as a group inside the crusader church and then during the Eucharist as Dean Steve prepared the table for communion. This is one of my favorite songs, a traditional African American spiritual, and it melts my heart every time I hear the Compline Choir sing it at St. Mark’s Cathedral. A second highlight was that we did the peace during service in the tradition where everyone says peace to every person in the group. I found this very special as we were approaching the end of our journey together.

Later we returned to the Judean desert to visit Qumran, the site where they discovered the Dead Sea scrolls. I took the photo below as we left Qumran, with a view of the Dead Sea in the background. We then spent the afternoon swimming in the Dead Sea, which was fantastic! You had to float on your back and keep your head above water; it was an unexpected core workout. I kept trying to face the mountains of Jordan as I floated in sea. The view of the mountains was epic. I felt both tranquility and awe as I watched them on the beautiful clear day. And thus my inspiration for the penultimate day of our pilgrimage.

Dead Sea Drift


What is dead shall perish in salt mine stars. What is life shall lift on

To sea above. Then greet forward the mountains for Jordan as you

Stand. We float under, together, this journey through these

Remembered lands. Hide our truth in caves with a whisper, on

Scrolls to make a poor man’s shoes. Walk path of The Teacher,

Your Prophet, My Redeemer, Our Lord.

The procession continues.

We hold our heads above to find our feet have already

Arrived. You cannot stand on this floor. You cannot face

The dead world down. You can only lift your heart

Up to sky, wrap your skin in mud ancient, and give

Thanks for your dried eyes. We entered this journey as

Strangers, learned to sing as friends; now our harmonies are

So subtle. You might have to be silent to see

This joy. Here we are, adrift in the Sea

Dead. Some hold on to land, others release the water. I wade

In clouds. Together we float on. Unified in memories,

Tethered by God’s grace in this,

His Holy Land.