Back Yard Squirrel Olympics

Diane White

As the Olympics drama unfolds in Tokyo, a lesser known, but still dramatic event is taking place closer to home. Yes, it is the Backyard Squirrel Olympics. I know, you will not find it in your cable guide. Nevertheless, it’s here!

Let me give you some context. When I put up my Covid-19 backyard bird feeder system, I did extensive research about how to deter unwanted critters. What else did I have to do? I read articles. I watched squirrel videos on YouTube where people attempted to deter the acrobatic critters. Based on my research, I measured out distances squirrels can leap with my yellow, Stanley 25’ Lever Lock tape measure. Feeling confident, I installed my feeder system based on expert research.

You can probably see where this is going.  (More…)

Welcome to the LBJ Ranch!

Diane Henrikson Russell

In May 1971, I took my freshman-year finals at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. I did not head back home right away, though. Instead, I flew on a one-way ticket from Willard Airport in Savoy, Illinois to Austin, Texas.

The reason? My dad, editorial cartoonist Art Henrikson, decided to bring our family with him to the 15th annual American Association of Editorial Cartoonists’ convention. The convention was held in Austin, Texas to coincide with the opening of the LBJ Presidential Library, adjacent to the University of Texas at Austin.

However, the highlight was a three-hour afternoon visit to the LBJ Ranch in nearby Johnson City.  (More…)

Dubious Military Distinctions

Neil Cosentino

In the category of Dubious Military Distinctions, I like to think I hold the world’s record for the shortest flight in a KC-135A/B between two different airports. (The KC-135 is an aircraft that refuels other planes in midair.) My “world record” flight took place in 1968 between St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport (KPIE) and MacDill Air Force Base (KMCF) in Tampa, Florida.

The day started at Plattsburgh Air Force Base in New York where I was told to deliver a KC-135A/B to PEMCO, an Inspection and Repair As Necessary (IRAN) facility located at St. Petersburg – Clearwater International airport.

Like most pilots, I like landing at different airports, especially if I can land a military aircraft at a civilian airport, so it was a good mission. (More…)

Taking the “Y” in the Road

Don Menzel

Yogi Berra once advised: “when you get to a Y in the road, take it.” So that’s exactly what Kay and I have done. Oh, you say—but how do you know where you will end up? We don’t, and of course, that’s exactly the point. Our Y in the road was the decision to relocate to Colorado and take residence in a brand-new sparkling co-operative. So, if you are not sure what life in a cooperative is about—neither are we, but we are going to share with you what we know in this essay.

First, the basics—a co-operative is not a condo nor an apartment complex, although it is close quarters living. You don’t buy or rent your living quarters—in our case 58 units in a three-story building. Rather, you become a member by purchasing a share in a mortgaged building. You are not an owner. Okay, I know that is difficult to grasp—think of it as an investment. Over time, your share will  (More…)

Armchair Traveling with Books

Lucinda Page Knox

In various book group posts, I’ve read numerous requests for recommendations for “beach reads for summer.” There are always the recommendations for authors like Elin Hilderbrand, who sets many of her books in Nantucket. Ditto Nancy Thayer and others who use similar locations. However, why limit the settings of summer reading to the beach? Why not travel via books to an Italian fishing village/resort, a flower garden in Germany, a cottage in the Welsh countryside – or even to a besieged castle?

THE ENCHANTED APRIL by Elizabeth von Armin (born Mary Annette Beauchamp) is a wonderful escape to a “small medieval Italian Castle on the shores of the Mediterranean” for the month of April. Mrs. Wilkins, who finds a newspaper ad for the castle in her London woman’s club on a dreary February  (More…)

Search for the Perfect Shot

If one helping of Theresa Sokol’s blog wasn’t enough for you, we have another savory selection in today’s post.  And we have a personal invitation for you at the end.  Read on!  –Editor


Theresa D’Aiuto Sokol

I know, I know. You think I am referring to the Covid vaccine, and truth to tell the month of January was indeed a relentless and fruitless quest to get vaccinated. Happily we finally scored appointments for our first shot and have joined the fortunate few who have received the first step toward immunity from the disease that has poisoned our lives over the last twelve months.

However, that shot that is not the subject of this latest blog. Starting in early January I embarked on a quest to learn how to pull the perfect espresso shot with my new Gaggia Classic Pro Espresso machine. But let me back up a bit.  (More…)

Reflections of a Former Joke-Writer for Joan Rivers

Robert Strozier

Now that I’ve reached the age of 80, a milestone year if ever there was one, I thought it’d be a fitting time to revisit some moments from my life as a writer—for better or for worse.

Let’s bypass the rave reviews I received from my parents for a play I wrote and starred in at nine, Detective Dick, and skip along to 1964. I’d just graduated from the University of Chicago with a B.A. in Humanities and was living with a friend in Berkeley, California.

I decided to launch my freelance career by writing poems and greeting card ideas—two surefire money makers. Some poems got published, most suffered a less happy fate. As in: “Sorry we won’t be able to use your poem, but we did like parts and particles of it.” The word “the” in the second line of the third stanza, I surmised, the third syllable of the eighth word in the fifth line of the second stanza, the…  (More…)

Family Found

Diane Henrikson Russell

1880 portrait of Carolina in Swedish family photo album

The Ancestry.com hint appeared as a leaf linked to Carolina Eugenia Oscaria Tillberg.

Before I reveal the hint, here is some background. Carolina was my great-grandmother. The story goes that Carolina was born in Stockholm, and at age 11, she traveled with neighbors to Chicago and settled in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.  She was supposed to return to her family in Stockholm, but she never went home.

Instead, Carolina at age 20 married a Norwegian man, Bernhardt Henrikson, who immigrated to Sheboygan as a two-year-old boy with his parents and siblings. They raised three children, including my grandfather, and moved to Chicago in 1894 for a job with the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad.  (More…)

My Young Life

Anne Strozier

When my mother became a widow, I was 12 years old, living in Tallahassee, Florida.  The morning of April 20, 1960, I walked into the kitchen just as my mother was hanging up the phone. “Daddy’s had a heart attack,” she said.  I assumed she meant her father, Clough.  No, it was my father who’d had the heart attack.

The day before, my father had gone to a conference in Chicago.  Mother told me she’d be flying to Chicago to be with Dad while our elderly and rather taciturn neighbor, Mr. Yant, would take me and my 16-year-old brother Chuck to school.

Mid-morning, Mr. Yant appeared at the door of my classroom.  We drove home in silence, and I arrived home to be greeted by three anxious neighbor ladies, one of whom still had on pin curls.  I said hi to them and walked into the living room to sit by myself.  (More…)

How Sweet It’s Been!

Theresa D’Aiuto Sokol

Late winter holidays provide the perfect excuse to gorge on sweets, treats and rich temptations for the palate in order to take the edge off a numbing progression of dark, icy days.

Wait! What? This is Florida, America’s Spring Break playground—sun, beaches, sand, Disneyworld, parks—amusement or nature—the ultimate getaway destination for the winter weary!

Sadly, not this year for the over 65 set….

The monotony of COVID-induced isolation forced us to remain holed up at home. We endured feverish hours refreshing vaccine sites or counting the days until the achievement of full immunity after getting our jabs. Late March ushered in the mass breakout of grateful grandparents sporting newly minted silver coiffures and COVID-padded waistlines.  (More…)