The Opera Lesson

Lydia Lombardo

Pigeon 01“Remember Colombino,” said my dad, “no matter what you do in life, always do your very best.” Now Colombino was not my given name; it was my Dad’s way of telling me he loved me by calling me “little pigeon” in Italian. He was never demonstrative in his affection – I seldom saw my mother and him embrace, but I knew he loved me, and he showed me in so many ways.

One way was his daily invitation, when I was old enough to leave my mother and the back of the store where we lived, to come “help” him in his shop. A cobbler who learned his trade when he emigrated from Sicily at the age of 16, he considered repairing shoes and leather garments an art. He never used anything but the finest materials and was so meticulous in his stitching and dyeing that customers seldom could find where the tear had been.

Because his little shop was located in what is now known as Wrigleyville, he became the repair expert for the Chicago Cubs, and I remember players  (More…)

Zooming With My Family

Diane Russell

zoom-appNo doubt you now have heard of Zoom, which is used extensively to conduct virtual meetings since the spread of COVID-19.  OLLI also is considering its use for group communications.

Have you considered using Zoom to keep in touch with your family?

One of my sisters and her family live in Chicagoland, while my other sister lives in Tucson. We were together as a group most recently on Christmas Day in 2018. When my 30-year-old niece, Amy, suggested that we gather virtually using Zoom, I literally jumped at the chance.  Instead of gathering as Brady Bunch heads to share our recent safer-at-home stories, we danced!   (More …)

The “Art” of Riding Roller Coasters with Tom

Diane Russell

It was love at first sight. They met eating dinner outside at A1A Café in downtown Brandon, Florida, in October 1994. They clicked because of an unusual talent that they shared: the love of drawing cartoons!

They compared notes about drawing styles as well as unusual body and facial shapes throughout the meal and laughed often. They lingered over evening goodbyes. While one of them lived in Brandon, the other one lived in Des Plaines, Illinois. Would they ever see each other again?

I am describing the first time that my father Art, a professional cartoonist, met my future husband Tom, a high school art teacher who had drawn Popeye flip cartoons as a kid.  My dad was sold on Tom as a possible boyfriend for me after that first meeting and was determined to help out our interactions in any way that he could.  (More…)

Luck, Skill, Fate and Attitude

We’ve recently received two posts that explored the question : “Which is more important?  The way you deal with Life or the way Life deals with you?”  Neither writer was aware of the other’s work.  Rather than publish them in separate issues of OLLI Connects, we decided to run both of them at once.  Enjoy!

Do you consider yourself an (un)lucky person? Are you a poker player? I used to be but decided that with my luck I may as well stay home. Oh, how about skill? Doesn’t poker require some skill like being able to count and remember the cards that have been played.  Sure it does!  But it didn’t matter in my case; I always lost—was unlucky, you might say. I suppose another way of putting this is to say that my “fate” was always—to lose (at poker).  Neither luck nor skill mattered.

So how do you think about luck, skill, and fate in life? Are you a “what will be will be” person? Or do you believe that through skill and some luck, the future is yours to determine? I hope your answer is  (More…)

New Car, New Husband

Diane Russell

In the summer of 1992, my red 1988 Toyota Tercel started costing hundreds of dollars a month to maintain. Fortunately, I could walk or ride my bike 1.5 miles each way from Oak Ramble Village, my apartment complex, to my job as a Human Resources Coordinator at the University of South Florida (USF). I also was a new part-time graduate student in Counselor Education at USF and could walk to those evening classes.

However, my continued membership and choir participation at St. Mark United Church UCC in Valrico was in question. St. Mark was over 20 miles away from Oak Ramble Village, so it was a 40-mile roundtrip drive. I had two options:  1) leave St. Mark and attend another church or 2) buy a new car and continue worshipping at St. Mark.

I had been a member of St. Mark for five years and was good friends with Rev. Garry and Carolyn Scheuer, the minister and his wife, who also served my hometown church, the First Congregational Church of Des Plaines, Illinois. I had made some friends in the choir and felt comfortable. It would be a tough decision to make.  (More…)

A Massage to Remember

Diane Russell

My oldest niece said, “We are all going to have a Chinese foot massage at 6 o’clock tonight – my treat!”  It would be a novel way to celebrate my sister’s upcoming wedding near San Diego in four days. What made this event so unexpected was the following back story in the autumn of 2012.

That morning I drove my husband to Chicago’s Midway Airport, so he could fly home to Tampa. He had enough of the dreary November weather and overstayed his planned visit by two weeks. Why?  (More…)

A Woodstock Reunion

Joseph McAuliffe

Last November, the McAuliffe family celebrated my brother John’s 70th birthday in New York City by attending the Syracuse – Notre Dame football game at Yankee Stadium. Syracuse and Notre Dame were part of my late parents’ legacy. They were from Syracuse, my mother graduated from Syracuse University and my dad was a Notre Dame graduate. My father would have been happy that weekend because Notre Dame won, but few of us watched the game because we spent most of the time doing what McAuliffes do when they get together… we tell stories.  (More…)