Comfort Reading

Cindy Knox

I enjoyed George Hyde’s recent OLLI Connects contribution that contained various OLLI members’ recommendations for reading while we’re in self-isolation. However, the books that I crave right now – and some of you may, also – are what I call “comfort reads,” similar to comfort food.

I need a book that takes me to another world without murders, torture, or other examples of man’s (extreme) inhumanity to man. Or women, children, and animals. We get plenty of that on the nightly news – or, indeed, on cable news all day. So, here are a few offerings of the “comfort reads” variety off the top of my head.

(First of all, I hope that each of you reading this is in your PJs or however you dress at home. I myself tend to favor old T-shirts and flannel PJ bottoms. (Yes, even in Florida.) You will need to get comfortable and sit in a favorite chair – or your bed. No judgement here.)  (More…)

So, What Are You Up To?

Jane Applegate Belzer

When reading George Hyde’s last post in OLLI Connects, I thought: Now I know I’m not alone in seeking ways to occupy myself during this period of quasi-hibernation. While this is a home of two readers, there are other activities that we of a certain age will be doing to exercise our spirits while at home for what now sounds like a couple of months. I’d like to know what you are doing to entertain yourself during these isolating times.

I just pulled five cookbooks off my shelf to entertain myself and share with you. The Black Sea, by a British journalist, Caroline Eden, is a travel guide and cookbook to the exotic world from Odessa to Trabzon. The recipes enrich the stories of her journey through this very ancient region. If things get back to normal, we hope to go there next year. (More…)

Coping with Corona? Read On!

George Hyde

coronoavirusIf you enjoy the intellectual stimulation and social interaction that OLLI-USF offers, you’re probably a little miffed at how the Coronavirus is affecting your daily life right now and for at least a few weeks to come.

Let’s face it…government and University officials are taking prudent steps to protect us from a disease with disproportionately adverse impact on older people – “the OLLI Generation,” if you will.  Now we’re being told that one of the most important behaviors under the COVID-19 threat is “social distancing,” just as we’re settling into a schedule of Spring classes with instructors and classmates whose company and whose ideas we enjoy!  So, with OLLI classes in hiatus or cancelled, how can you avoid going stir-crazy? (More…)

Here Now the Weather

Robert Strozier

Welcome to the Weather Channel.  This just in:  A damp sprinkling of the wet stuff, mixed with a wet sprinkling of the damp stuff, could spell trouble for the mile-high city by Thursday. Those of you planning to drive to the Southern corner of Indiana today should use extra caution, but Pendleton, West Virginia, is looking pretty good, if you’re thinking of doing something there.

Checking out the radar screen, the satellite picture, and the meteorological monitor, we can see that a weather alert is in partial effect along the outer edges of the Northeast Corridor, and a muggy mass of drizzle-activity is making its way toward the Mississippi Delta. Temperatures today in the Black Hills of North Dakota will be high in the low 20’s, as well as low in the high 20’s, and you can expect gusty and variable winds, sometimes gusty and variable at times.

This afternoon the bottom is expected to drop out of a gathering cold front just north of  (More…)

Community of Readers & Writers

[Most of our posts allow you to just sit back, read and enjoy.  This one highlights one of our newest SIGs and invites your active participation.]

Liesse Chable

In the New York Times online, you can find the rules for a past amateur essay contest. The challenge – to tell a short, powerful, true story. You may be used to calling this type of story a memoir, but the shorter version is often referred to now as a personal narrative essay, something with a beginning, middle and end.

For our group’s training purposes, I selected three different examples that I thought would generate challenging feedback. You can read them  (More…)

ReBirth – An Excerpt

Raymond Paltoo

The box rested on the sand in front of the little cabin.

As the world became dark, he knew the time had come. Their defenses were down, lulled by the opiate of restful sleep. He entered their minds one by one, giving each of them the dreams of their deep desires, awakening in them the basic primitive desire for reproduction and propagation of their species. It did not matter to him that they had mutated and certain functions had been lost. He tweaked their bodies, opening one tube here, closing another that was not needed, making them whole again and reassuring their sleeping bodies that everything would be all right again. He entered their bodies, giving them the ecstasy and pleasure they had not known for ages.

He re-entered his chamber that was now his coffin and lay down. His physical body deteriorated into a fine dust. The Essence of his being escaped into the void of space, joining the vast expanse of the Cosmos. He left behind all the knowledge he had accumulated in his millennia of Being; seven, small, shining discs for his children to learn. They had to learn, or the race would die, and his death would have been in vain.  (More…)

High School: the Misery Years

Robert Strozier

The first girl I fell in love with was a horse.

Charlene Atkins, circa third grade, was a worshipper of anything equine, and, meeting me in the hallway, she’d rear and haughtily paw the air, whinny and snort, then gallop off—taking my heart with her.

Charlene and I attended a small, protective private school on the South Side of Chicago, and our class stayed together from kindergarten to graduation from high school (in 1957).  Although my crush on her never faded, I did explore other options over the years. In seventh grade, for instance, my best friend Keith Hudson and I worked up the nerve to ask the Korman twins, Harriet and Louise, to a movie at the Picadilly Theater. I don’t remember who made the call—perhaps we asked them out in unison. Because it wasn’t clear what pairings-off we had in mind, the twins ended up seated to Keith’s right, I to his left. I bought two bags of popcorn, and they shared one, he and I the other, and the only hand I touched that afternoon was his.

Finally I reached high school—The Big Time. Renewing my pursuit of Charlene, I managed to  (More…)

Chapbooks

Morrey Grimes

At a meeting today, I was asked about chapbooks and also about self-publishing. I have reconciled with my mistress, Valentina, and we are again on the same page (no pun intended), speaking the same language,

Valentina is my PC. I have personalized my PC, and provided it (her) with a gender. I like the mercurial energy of women better than the static energy of men.  Valentina is my muse and inspiration, but also my critic.

Let me tell you about Valentina:  she is smarter than I am, but I will be the first to admit that that is not too difficult of a place to be. She does not correct my mistakes, but only points them out for me to correct. Not only is she in a perpetual state of learning, but she also is constantly is teaching me something. She keeps me entertained and  (More…)

The Children of Green Knowe

Lucinda Knox

A Review of The Children of Green Knowe by Lucy M. Boston

When I was growing up, there was nothing more magical than the season before Christmas. I loved everything about it, and I believed in Santa Claus far longer than any of my friends. After my two sons were born, I happily read Christmas books to them, sharing the joy and sense of magic I’ve always felt during this time of year. (However, I should add that, as for anyone, joy is mixed with sadness as loved ones die or life’s circumstances change. Magic, mystery, and the feeling that there is something greater than myself and that almost anything can happen, especially on Christmas Eve, is a belief that I hold.)

During this holiday season, I re-read stories and books that I’ve collected over the years, each having something to do with Christmas or the spirit thereof. One of these books is Lucy M. Boston’s The Children of Green Knowe, one of six books that she wrote after the age of 60.  All of them were inspired by (More…)

Creating a “Familyiography”

Neil Cosentino

Over 50 years have passed since I flew combat missions over North Vietnam.  I wrote a book of short stories about flying that includes a few of these missions.  It was my oldest sister who slowly drew out the stories and then encouraged me to include them in a book that is now in our local public library system.

The book’s title is Letters from the Cockpit. I encourage friends not to buy the book, but instead to request it from the library so the demand keeps the book in the system. I enjoyed writing the book and found that if the stories you write are true, you will enjoy reading them again. A repeat of what was exciting once is still an enjoyment, and there is a simple good in that.  (More…)