Group Singing Turned Upside Down

Diane Russell

Easter 02 pngOn March 11, 2020, we rehearsed the usual Lenten songs in preparation for Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and Easter services in early April. We casually walked out of the choir room with our friends and said, “See you Sunday,” as we usually did.

Three days later, we learned that Sunday church services were cancelled due to restrictions on large gatherings caused by the nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases.

Churches were encouraged to remain closed because being indoors in close contact with fellow worshippers was a palpable health risk. Worse yet, a March choir rehearsal in Washington State caused the deaths of two choir members and significant illness in many other choir members due to COVID-19.

This news was shocking for this lifelong singer and choir member since age 8. How could an activity that has given me so much pleasure, both individually and in groups, be so deadly?  (More…)

The History of Sex: A Personal Journey

Bharat Pathakjee

I’m currently teaching an online course for OLLI called “History and Science of Sex” which implies that I am an expert on the subject of sex.  This isn’t quite true.

I grew up in a traditional Brahminical culture in post-independence India. Sex education in school was limited to the birds and bees. Nothing about people. Most of the information I got came from older boys and a few racy magazines. Indian laws were, and still are, based on Victorian laws left over from the British Empire.  Ironic for the land that created the Kama Sutra.  I remember reading a banned copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover and being shocked at seeing the “F word” in print. Most of us (at least the men) grew up reading the articles in Playboy while carefully ignoring the pictures.  (More…)

National Poetry Month – Final Edition

Poetry is everywhere.  All around us.  But it’s shy, elusive, and difficult to see. Unless you’re a poet.  And they don’t find it easily.  They break a sweat, seeing the half seen beauty around them.  And capturing it for the rest of us with their clever words, sometimes tricking us into thinking that we had seen it all along.  This is our final collection of poems for National Poetry Month this year.  Read them with fierce attention, the way they were written.  (More…)

More Than Meets the Eye II

We introduced you to Blended Learning in Monday’s issue.  Here is a reminder of what our project entailed, followed by some of the artwork it used and the poetry it generated.

The perfect opportunity in the most imperfect moment.

Eighteen participants from OLLI-USF and OLLI at Northwestern recently completed a five-week blended learning course, More Than Meets the Eye: Our Perspectives in Art. “Blended learning” combined two face-to-face sessions (the first one in two classrooms and the final one on Zoom) and three sessions where participants worked through online material in collaboration with a member at the partner university. Halfway through the course, both OLLIs had to cancel their planned Spring programs due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This course continued. One participant described the course as “a beautiful distraction.”  (More…)

More Than Meets the Eye

The perfect opportunity in the most imperfect moment.

Vermeer Art of Painting via WikiEighteen participants from OLLI-USF and OLLI at Northwestern recently completed a five-week blended learning course, More Than Meets the Eye: Our Perspectives in Art. “Blended learning” combined two face-to-face sessions (the first one in two classrooms and the final one on Zoom) and three sessions where participants worked through online material in collaboration with a member at the partner university. Halfway through the course, both OLLIs had to cancel their planned Spring programs due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This course continued. One participant described the course as “a beautiful distraction.”

Some background: The National Resource Center (NRC) for Osher Institutes invited OLLI-USF and OLLI at Northwestern to develop and present this first-of-its-kind blended learning, joint course. Participants in the course investigated different ways to look at art, including art made in response to art.  (More…)

Symbols of Mankind

Judy K. Patterson

In 1992 I was a member of the Friends of the Hillsborough Library.  My first project was to see that all the art in the libraries of Hillsborough County was repaired, reframed, and in good shape.  My second project was to get the Board to buy art for the new libraries from the Gasparilla Festival of Arts Show in Tampa in March.  The Friends had ten thousand dollars sitting in a CD for emergencies.  I finally convinced them that the money could be earned and replaced, but the new libraries needed art.  We had a few holdouts but, eventually, we all agreed to buy art each year.  It gives me great pleasure to see new art in the local libraries that I visit.

Looking around for a new project, I heard about the Ybor Library on Nebraska and its damaged mosaic on the front of the building done by Joe Testa-Secca, an artist and art teacher at University of Tampa.  (More…)

Teaching and Learning in Retirement

Don Menzel

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I retired at age 64+, moved to Tampa, bought a new fishing/leisure boat, went to fishing school three times (was a slow learner), and worked on publishing articles and books in my field, primarily ethics in government. Meanwhile, Kay began teaching in the USF OLLI program for seniors. Two years later she convinced the program coordinator to invite me to deliver a few lectures to seniors. That kicked off ten years and 27 classes of learning with seniors. Wow! What an experience.

Seniors who want to learn about new subjects or engage in stimulating exchanges are a delight, with one exception:   (More…)

Manhattan Memories

Robert Strozier

I first visited Manhattan in 1953, when I was 13, the guest of Vandy, my godmother. An avid reader of movie magazines, I asked if we could dine at the Stork Club, then one of the most celebrated nightspots in the world where glittering movie stars and celebrities always were being seen. And so, rather than instructing me in the Nicene Creed, Vandy took me to the Stork Club for lunch.

Everything was as I had pictured it, down to the Stork statuette on the table, and—would you believe—sitting at the next table was raven-haired starlet Piper Laurie with a slick-looking power player of some sort. This was the kind of crowd I’d always dreamed of running with, and I resolved then to move to Manhattan one day. Fourteen years later I made it—staying for another 45 years.

When I first arrived, the only people I knew were an uncle and aunt, and sometimes I’d go over in the mornings and watch TV game shows with her, a ritual that included drinking three or four martinis.   (More...)

The Stranger Diaries

Cindy Knox

‘If you permit me,’ said the Stranger, ‘I’d like to tell you a story. After all, it’s been a long journey and, by the look of those skies, we’re not going to be leaving this carriage for some time. So, why not pass the hours with some story-telling? The perfect thing for a late October evening.’

‘Are you quite comfortable there? Don’t worry about Herbert. He won’t hurt you, It’s just this weather that makes him nervous. Now, where was I? What about some brandy to keep the chill out? You don’t mind a hip flask, do you?

‘Well, this is a story that actually happened. Those are the best kind, don’t you think? Better still, it happened to me when I was a young man. About your age.’

The Stranger Diaries is Elly Griffiths’ delightful homage to Gothic novels. It’s a book within a book, containing a gratifying mix of mystery, suspense, gloomy settings, horror, deaths, supernatural events, a damsel in distress,  (More...)

Chautauqua 2019

Linda Schatz

It’s 1874.  I’m a Methodist Sunday School teacher. I travel by steamship on the calm waters of Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York and arrive at a small shoreline settlement for a vacation learning experience. I’ll hear speakers on the Bible, teaching methods, science, and social issues. The roads rise gently from the lake and are only wide enough for one horse and carriage.

Wait—it’s 2019, and I’m one of several thousand knowledge and culture seekers arriving by car at Chautauqua Institution. With six of my women friends, it will be a vacation week of thought-provoking lectures, excellent dance, music, vocal and theater performances, and animated political and philosophical discussions.  Oh, and a tap dancing lesson to bring back my fun days of hopping to a beat and flexing my ankles.  (More…)