To Tell the Truth Challenge – Episode 3

You’ve flown with Neil Cosentino before here in OLLI Connects. Most recently on his flight into the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew. But before that you crossed the Andes with him, shared a Christmas Eve flight in Spain, and accompanied him on his world record for the shortest flight between airports in a KC-135.  (If you put his name into the Search box on this page, you can find all of the stories Neil’s written for us so far.)

Today’s story is different in that you are a vital part of it, not just a passenger.  When you’ve finished reading it, scroll down to the Comment box, and tell us whether you think it’s merely clever fiction or whether the author has “told the truth”. 

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Divine Intervention

Joan Weaving
Diane Henrikson Russell

Sanibel photo by Ben Hendren/Andalou Agency/Getty

Divine intervention is usually a good thing.  “Acts of God” often aren’t.  Ask any insurance company. Or anyone who has just been told by their insurer that “we don’t cover that”.  

We have two stories for you today, both dealing with disasters, though on very different scales, and both reminding us that there are things happening all around us that go beyond our understanding and control.

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The Hurricane

Mary Bowers

My job as a medical equipment sales representative took me to a new hospital in Port Charlotte, Florida.  It was late August, and the moment I stepped off the plane I was met with the smothering effects of the humid heat and tropical vegetation.  Before I had left home in Atlanta there had been a report of an impending hurricane in Florida, but no one had mentioned it, so I assumed it had moved on to another target, as hurricanes will do.

I planned to take advantage of the trip to southwestern Florida to visit my friend Amelia who had recently lost her husband.  She and he had retired to this area to raise horses, and it had been ages since I had seen her.  We planned to get in a good visit over the weekend before I returned to Atlanta on Sunday evening.   Read more

Hurricane Andrew

Neil Cosentino

On August 24, 1992, my Florida Civil Air Patrol (CAP) hurricane mission started with a midnight telephone call from Florida CAP headquarters. They needed a pilot as soon as possible to fly to Homestead. I took off solo around one a.m. from Vandenberg airport, now Tampa Executive Airport (VDF) and flew near the red lines direct from Tampa to Lantana Airport. Our trusty 310 Squadron Cessna 172 purred all the way – it was good karma – not one rough engine sound. That always seems to happen at night over that pitch black hole called the Everglades.

I arrived just before sunrise and after refueling, getting a cup of fresh coffee and a fast but very simple briefing, I took off at dawn for Homestead.  Read more

Life in the Fast Lane: Sun City Center Style

Don Menzel

Three years ago, Kay and I, along with our family luv “Emmy dog,” left Tampa with a new 4-wheel drive Jeep and hit the trail to the Rocky Mountains, settling in Loveland, Colorado. (Yes, there is a Loveland in the U.S.A.—actually two with Ohio the home of another.)

Excited about living on the “Front Range” in Northern Colorado, we were certain we had found our “forever home.” Alas, three years later, we purchased a small house in Sun City Center, Florida, where sun & fun gush galore. Of course, getting there on I-75 heading south from Tampa is a challenge with 90 mph bumper-to-bumper traffic that turns into “How slow can you go?” when you get off the Interstate.

So, what’s it like living in the fast lane in Sun City? That’s the tale I am going to share with you.

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My Day at Circle B Bar Reserve

Mary Satterwhite

Recently I went with a few friends to hike and take photographs at Circle B Bar Reserve near Lakeland.  It was a LONG drive there but well worth it.  It is a very large park of more than 2,000 acres. We hiked four and a half miles and saw not even a quarter of the park.  We took Marsh Rabbit Run (where we were stopped by a large alligator blocking the trail) and Alligator Alley which was my favorite. The large trees shading Alligator Alley are lovely.     View more

You may be wondering why you received an OLLI Connects email for a story that isn’t yet available over this weekend.  We have to chalk that up to an unfortunate misclick during the editing process for an upcoming piece.  Please disregard that notice–for now– and enjoy this week’s two offerings focused on the splendid photos produced by the hiking and nature SIG members.  And, check back with us in early June for the “Flying Tigers.”–Editor 

National Poetry Month Selections

Cath Mason, Evelyn Romano, Kathy Winarski

For National Poetry Month, Tampa  made a call to the city—send us your Tampa poems!  The overwhelming response included more than 60 submissions celebrating pirates, the Lightning, Bucs and Rays, the old brick streets, the sights and smells of Ybor and the natural beauty of Tampa Bay. Among the winners were two OLLI poets, Cath Mason and Evelyn Romano, whose winning odes to Tampa are featured in today’s edition of OLLI Connects.

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Growing Tomatoes in Florida

Bruce Shanker

Bruce Shanker successfully produces two harvests of homegrown tomatoes each year in his backyard garden in Carrollwood, yielding an amazing quantity and variety of jewel-toned, plump and flawless specimens. We sat down with Bruce on a zoom call to learn about his secrets for growing tomatoes in Central Florida.

Click on the photos below to open two short videos detailing Bruce’s methods, equipment and growing schedule. The first video focuses on planting, fertilizing and irrigation. The second video provides detailed information about improving yield, (more…)

 

Different Angles to Trout Creek Conservation Park


Story by Diane White
Images by Donna McGrew,
Sheryl Long and Diane White

Look up, look down, try viewing nature from a different angle. That was the challenge given to OLLI-USF’s Better Composition for Outdoor Photography class at their field trip to Trout Creek Conservation Park located in Hillsborough County northeast of Tampa.

Using the composition techniques discussed in a prior online seminar, the class spent the morning looking for subjects to improve their photo skills. We started by taking a leisurely stroll along the short boardwalk which leads along the Hillsborough River to the canoe launch. Trout Creek Conservation Park proved to be a gem, offering a variety of ecosystems to explore, including the shorelines along the Hillsborough River, pine flatwoods under tree canopies and the edges of a floodplain forest. The zig-zag boardwalk and early morning dew provided many subjects for creative nature shots. (more…)

 

 

The Birds of Marco Island

If you’d like to work on your paddleboarding or kayaking, you should consider the tidal lagoon at Tigertail Beach Park on Marco Island.  As you’re probably well aware, Marco Island is a barrier Island in the Gulf, a bit south of Naples, linked to the mainland by bridges. It’s a wonderful place for a vacation.

Marco Island is also an outstanding place for photographing birds.  Birds that are somewhat commonplace for us, but wildly exotic if you’re from, oh, England for example. As our photographer, Paul Sullivan, is.  We’ll tell you what he has to do with OLLI at the end of article, but first, let’s take a look at his photographs.  (More…)

 

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