What is the appeal of horror? I remember reading the short stories of Edgar Allen Poe with a friend from junior high years ago. We would sit with a flashlight in the back of a dark closet in my home in Illinois, taking turns reading and scaring ourselves half to death. At night, still terrified, I would bolt under my covers, hiding my head under the blankets while still imagining the horrors from “The Fall of the House of Usher.” You would think that experiences like that would have turned me away from that genre forever. But not so. As others have discovered, it is cathartic to read these books. After all, they deal with the many unanswered questions that humans have grappled with through the ages.
From Greek and Roman myths and the writings of the Bible, to the medieval stories of werewolves and vampires and the Gothic novels of Hugh Walpole (The Castle of Ostranto that Jane Austen skewers in Northanger Abbey), to Mary Shelley’s masterpiece Frankenstein, and to all the books that follow, storytellers have pondered such questions as, (More…)
I was born in Lincoln, Illinois, in 1939 but grew up in Atlanta, Illinois, a farming community of 1,300 residents ten miles north of Lincoln on Route 66. My mother and father were blue collar workers—she a waitress and he a lineman who worked for the Central Illinois Electric Utility company. So you might ask: was growing up in a farming community with parents that are not farmers fun? Boring? Out of touch with a future that was not to be? Namely, becoming a farmer!
Oh, I thought I was going to be a farmer. I was an active member of (More…)
Every year we devote our April issues to poetry for National Poetry Month. Then we seem to ignore poetry for the rest of the year. That hardly seems fair. So, in this week’s issue, with National Poetry Month nowhere in sight, we’d like to share poems by two new poets.
We hope to see more of their work in the future. Enjoy. (More…)
We were on a northeasterly heading at 7,500 feet above and along the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. Had I not looked down through a very small hole in the clouds by pure happenstance, there would be no log cabin in our life. I saw, at that moment a long, paved runway in those high mountains. It seemed odd and in curiosity that paid off later, I circled the location on the aeronautical chart and placed it back in the map holder.
This happened while en route to Mount Airy, North Carolina to look at a large track of land owned by the Reynolds Tobacco family. We landed and were met at the airport and toured the property. I found it strange that (More…)
Years ago, my daughter-in-law asked me “Do you remember the first time that you thought to yourself ‘being a grown-up really sucks’?” I laughed and told her that I had reached that conclusion so many times over the intervening years that I couldn’t begin to recall the first time. I don’t remember now what had led her to realize that grown-up life isn’t entirely the fun, freedom, and fast cars that we all envision in our teen years. At the time, she was the mother of a baby and a toddler and married to my charming but utterly unreliable younger stepson; the possibilities were endless.
Thinking about Heidi and her discovery of the unfortunate truth about adulthood has led me to reflect on other seminal moments of realization that (More…)
You’ve been enjoying the posts in OLLI Connects for a long time now. You’ve seen short stories, personal reminiscences, humor, poetry, photography, and personal insights into travel, science, and history. And occasionally, just occasionally, you’ve thought “I could write something like that!” Don’t be coy. I know you have.
Well, it turns out that now is an excellent time for you to turn that thought into action. Creative action. Or visual action. Or explanatory and analytical action. Whatever sends that pleasant surge of electricity through your brain cells.
Why now? OLLI Connects’ editor since its inception three years ago–You know. That Al Carlson guy–is moving to (More…)
The names on the 9/11 Memorial are etched into marble and our hearts. I touched the names and there was something. An echo or reverberation. Like the experience at the wall at the Vietnam Memorial. Tears. You see people grieving next to you and long to reach out to comfort them. Sometimes you do.
On 9/11, I was with Verizon in the Information Technology department on an early morning conference call. Someone suddenly shouted into the phone (More…)
During the Fall 2020 term, I took the OLLI-USF class led by Ara Rogers and Jane Applegate based on the book, Women Rowing North, by Mary Pipher. The book encourages women in the last third of their lives to explore ways to make their lives more meaningful. It was especially helpful to bond with my classmates through Zoom. We discussed our pasts and how we planned to thrive during and after the pandemic!
I view Women Rowing North as an ideal reference book for women in my age group, so I decided (More…)
Marilyn Myerson leads and mentors creative writing groups, encouraging them to push the envelope of their imaginations while staying in control of the theme. She frequently has them to write short stories that explore a specific idea. And she leads by example.
Today’s two stories are both by Marilyn. One puts a twist on a hoary cliché. The other speculates on what could happen, if the leader of a creative writing group were not quite who she seemed to be. –Editor
Cliché: A Shaggy Dog Story
Myrtle van Crapen, resident of Tampa, Florida, shared her abode with three dogs. Two of her canine housemates were Bucky and Bolty, Heinz 57 mutts who nonetheless spoke quite passable English. (More…)
We decided to walk back to the hotel rather than take a vaporetto. For one thing, it was a lovely spring evening, and besides, no place in Venice is really all that far from any other place in Venice. Once the mobs of day-visitors return to their hotels and caravans on the mainland in the late afternoon, Venice becomes a different place – quiet, elegant, sophisticated, ancient, and haunted. Straight-line routes are nonexistent here, so we wove a circuitous path along the narrow passageways that serve as streets and over some of the multitude of footbridges that arch across the narrow canals.
We walked beneath iron-railed balconies overflowing with flowers, the air hinting of roses, lilies, and geraniums. We admired the (More…)