Shoes and Scarves

Ray Ann Favata

So Many Shoes, Only Two Feet

Yesterday was an excellent day to purge shoes. Gone are the worn, out of style, physically challenging stilettos, and just plain ugly “What were you thinking?” shoes.

Didn’t we enjoy the Carrie Bradshaw series, Sex in the City, where we longed to afford and wear the beautiful shoes featured each week? I’m here to share that my 42 pairs of shoes seem reserved compared to the shoe addiction portrayed by the show’s actresses.

My mom used to justify her extensive collection of shoes by saying that a woman should not be criticized for the number of shoes she owned as long as she did not have more pairs than her age. Theoretically, I could have 77 pairs of happiness. The truth is that I don’t need that many shoes. At 77 years of age, my feet, knees, and balance dictate my choices in chic, comfortable, and not too pricey footwear.

Why do women love shoes so much?  (More…)

Bored?

Ray Ann Favata

Musings of One Tampa Chica

Sometimes I’m so consciously aware of how bored I am. The immediate realization is how often I wander to the refrigerator. There I stand in front of the open door pondering what on earth I could eat that would feed the void I’m feeling.

Nothing on Netflix, HBO, or the Hallmark Channel grabs my attention. I feel like I’m wasting time, killing brain cells, or missing opportunities to do something, even though I don’t know what that something is. It is times like this that I think about learning how to knit or crochet.

Now don’t think I have nothing to do. I fill the days of the month with plenty of activities – volunteering, OLLI-USF classes, committees, and board of director meetings, places to go, people to see, and things to do. So what is it that makes me feel so unproductive and bored?  (More..)

The River – Book Review

Lucinda Knox

I am not an outdoorswoman, and my skills with an oar or a paddle are negligible. The last time I fished was with my dad when my family spent summer vacations in Wisconsin. I have never fired a gun, although I was good with a bow and arrow at one point. However, I loved this book. Peter Heller, who is an adventure writer, an outdoorsman, whitewater kayaker, fisherman, a recipient of an MFA in fiction and poetry, and much more, uses his background to good advantage. He has created a thrilling, poetic work with memorable main characters whose wilderness canoe trip is upended by a wildfire and men intent on killing them.

I was immediately hooked by the prologue:

“They had been smelling smoke for two days. At first they thought it was another campfire and that surprised them because  (More…)

Walking In a COVID-19 Wonderland

Diane Henrikson Russell

I drove over nine speed bumps daily on a major street in my subdivision as I impatiently commuted to my USF Career Counselor job, which was 21 miles away. I barely gave the homes or the intersecting streets a glance as I focused on my destination in the pre-dawn hours.

Fast forward from August 2014 to Fall 2020: I now leisurely stroll along the sidewalks of that same street as I watch impatient commuters drive over those same speed bumps.

The stark contrast in my change of pace was not caused by retirement. The COVID-19 virus has made walking a safe and enjoyable way to exercise outdoors while we “vulnerable” folks try to remain isolated from others and still exist on the planet.

Walking has been my preferred method of exercise for decades. As a USF employee, I strolled the sidewalks of the Tampa campus on breaks and at lunchtime. Before moving to Brandon, I even walked to and from work when I lived 1.5 miles away from the campus. I lost my campus walking routine as a retiree, but last year I began walking on the outdoor track at Bay Care Health Hub in nearby Valrico.  (More...)

My Tiny Christmas Trees

Jane Applegate Belzer

Years ago, in another life, a full-size Christmas tree would stand in my living room in late December, hung with lights and ornaments. But sometime in January the tinsel had to come down, and a litter of pine needles had to be cleared away. One year those needles even broke my vacuum cleaner. 

Remarried now, and to a man of other holidays and other traditions, I’ve channeled my nostalgia for the Christmas trees of childhood into collecting miniatures. The first came from the Brandywine Valley ten years ago. Since then, they have multiplied during our travels in the United States and abroad. And every December some of them come out to march across the mantelpiece and hearth, the solution to ecumenical Christmas decoration in a mixed household – without the pine needles.

Let me introduce you to a few of my tree friends:  (More…)

Struggle for Freedom

Junia Ancaya

Chapter One: Lodz, 1942, Ghetto at Baluty

Like the shattering of my family and Poland due to Hitler’s and Stalin’s ruthless power ambitions, my first impressions of life in Lodz in the midst of WW II, my awakening, emerged not as a continuum but as fragmented images and episodes. . . .

I was six. I held her hand and through her fingers felt my mother tremble at the approach of an SS man, but he passed us by on the street. A menacing sky hung close above Lodz’s numerous factory chimneys. Bulky ashen clouds and snowflakes crowded the air as my mother, brother and I stood waiting at a street corner for the trolley. Around us more and more people were caught in the whistling wind. It blew one way and the other and swept in mad pirouettes.

The trolley barreled toward us growing to enormous proportions before it squealed to an abrupt stop. A door opened in front of me, so I freed myself from my mother’s hand and hopped onto the stairs. But the next second she yanked me backwards by my collar. I slid on the snow, and before I had time to think she picked me up and rushed to the last trolley car. My brother raced beside us. We boarded. Mother sat on the one available seat.   (More…)

The Meaning of Life

Don Menzel

What do you think is the meaning of life?

Wow! What a question. Where to start? Okay, let’s start easy—eat, drink, and be merry! I like the “be merry” part but can’t say much positive about the “eat, drink” choices. What a dumpster life, if you thought the meaning of life was total self-pleasure.

Okay, let’s try another easy one—enjoy yourself while you’re young, because there’s no going back. Maybe so but … the fountain of youth could turn up somewhere. Who knows?

Let’s assume for the moment that you can go back. What age would you want to be?  (More …)

The Ancient Desert Curse

Marilyn Myerson

Part the First

All signs and portents spoke of disaster befalling the project. Rumors abounded, warning of the ancient curse.

Easily disregarded was the curse as fictitious superstition if you were on the dig for money or fame. Both were promised in abundance if the early research proved to be well-founded. Not as easily dismissed was the curse if you were a knowledgeable local worker, recruited to help dig through the age-old ruins for the usual paltry wages and miserable working conditions. But other jobs were scarce and there were mouths to feed. You swallowed your foreboding so the young might swallow their ration of bread.

Me, I observe the scene with detachment, as is my wont.  (More…)

Will the Turkey Catch on Fire?

Diane White

Will the turkey catch on fire? This was the “burning” question that fascinated us kids at Thanksgiving. I suspect the adults were secretly wondering the same thing. (*Spoiler alert – if you are a fan of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 – you can probably figure out the answer.)

You may remember my story about the search for my grandmother’s potato salad recipe at the start of the pandemic’s “safer at home” order. As I was excavating my recipes – bits of paper here and there, forgotten recipes stuffed in cookbooks – I found more of her recipes, including this hand-written one. It is just called “Roast chicken in bag,” and on the other side – “Turkey done same way….”  (More…)

You Can Go Home Again

Diane Russell

The day after my father died was a busy one. My sister Jan and I drove our sister and her fiancé to O’Hare International Airport to catch their flight to California to prepare for their destination wedding in three days. We then drove to our family home in Des Plaines, Illinois – the first time since our dad passed away – and took care of some urgent chores. We had not stayed at the house since it had been on the market a week earlier. The 57-year-old ranch-style home was well-maintained and convenient to commuter trains and O’Hare International Airport. We received several offers that were based on FHA financing, so an inspection would need to be done. We were concerned that many repairs would need to be made for any FHA loan to be approved.

How could I leave my childhood home for the last time? In 1955, my parents and I excitedly watched our new three-bedroom brick house being built in a brand new subdivision. Moving from Chicago to the suburbs with wide open spaces for kids to play was a dream come true for this energetic three-year-old girl.  (More…)