The Flag in the Window

Mary Bowers

The whistle screeched from the old kettle, heralding its success in having boiled the water. Louise turned off the gas under the kettle and poured the boiling water into a chipped mug. As she stirred the tea in the mug, she thought again about how that mug had gotten chipped. Davey was almost two when he tipped the empty mug, hoping for a taste of the sugary tea. His little hands couldn’t contain the weight of the mug, and the edge of it fell against his beautiful left incisor, leaving chips in both the mug and the tooth. Louise recalled the hoop-la when Davey lost the chipped tooth the day he turned five. The new permanent tooth had so far lasted the rest of his life…

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To Kill a Mockingbird Redux

Joan Weaving

I was 15 the summer of 1963. It was time of hope and optimism. The promise of Civil Rights had permeated our generation, and we embraced it. We learned all the anthems: Blowin’ In the Wind, We Shall Overcome, WE Shall Not be Moved, argued with our parents about attending the march on Washington, and flocked to the movie theatre to see To Kill A Mockingbird which exposed the underbelly of southern segregation and Jim Crow. And oh how we loved Atticus, the gentle and wise soul whose integrity could not be diminished even as he was spat upon.

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Fangs: Fear and Fascination

Bruce Zimmerman
Marilyn Myerson

Snakes were the subjects of a recent challenge issued to the Imaginative Writing Crew.  Some weeks later two contrasting stories arrived in our mailbox, and we thought it fitting to combine them for this week’s blog. Here’s a little taste of each story…..

Blocking my exit was the largest, meanest, blackest water moccasin I had ever, ever seen. Hell, years ago me and the kids would race through the swamps, and never fear o’ nothin’, but this guy was really, really mean looking. As he started his curl, ready to strike, his green eyes flashed from the light of the newly banked stove…..

 I reached out, a mite tentatively at first but soon enough my arm stretched out in full confidence to savour the first touch of this magnificent creature. Her skin was dry, nothing “ooky” about it at all….

OLLI-USF Outdoors Eco Tour April 29, 2023

Diane White

From a tiny Ghost shrimp to baby birds and Petunia the dolphin, the OLLI Outdoors SIG went on the “floating classroom” Eco Tour with Tampa Bay Watch. The science-based tour was packed in a diversity of species to study up close.

Our crew on the private chartered boat tour was biologist Dakoeta, intern Rebecca, and Captain Mo. Our missions were to record marine life in area 6, identify dolphins, and visit the birds nesting on Bird Island. Arriving at our first stop, Dakoaeta and Rebecca cast a fisheries trawl net and carefully went through the haul, identifying species from the spot marked as area 6. One of our members …  Read more


Literary Challenge — The Story Unfolds

OLLI-USF Members

We published two unusual stories in our March 26 issue–one by Marilyn Myerson and one “by” Peter Terzian–and added a challenge to you, our readers, to create a story similar to Pete’s.  We gave you an opening line to get you started and let you weave the story by adding Comments. 

Unbeknownst to you, we gave ChatGPT the same challenge.  So, on the linked page you’ll find our challenge, the opening lines, your story, a list of the contributors, and the same challenge answered by ChatGPT.

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Following in Their Footsteps

Joan Weaving
Anne Strozier

At this time of year we celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. We members of the older and (hopefully) wiser generation often take a moment in the midst of being entertained by our children and grandchildren to pause and reflect on our own parents. Looking back through time at the choices they made and at the memories their presence built in our own lives is both poignant and beautiful. This week’s blog features two short memoirs, each a richly detailed and lovingly scripted reminiscence of a beloved parent—because, after all, we stand on their shoulders.— Editor                                           
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Stories like the ones you are about to read satisfy our common need to share the experiences of our own past, our family histories and the singular events that helped create our individual life path and personal identity. And now we ask you to please share a part of your story in our upcoming Memoir Challenge. More details are given at the end of this week’s edition. — Editors 

A Trip Across the Pacific

Donna McGrew

In 2018, my brother, his wife and I started talking about going to Indonesia. In 2019, we booked for November 2020, almost a full month was planned. As you might have heard, 2020 killed most trips even in the US. Well, we rebooked for fall of 2021 and then May of 2022, but no luck as 10 days of isolation on each island was not feasible. Finally, the areas we wanted to visit in Indonesia opened late summer of 2022 with no restrictions except for vaccinations.

In October of 2022, we made the trek to Orlando via car and then flew to Dubai, then to Jakarta, and on to Manado, North Sulawasi. We stopped for a seven-day dive trip to a place called Lembeh Straits. This is a well-known spot for what is referred to as muck diving. It is so much better than it sounds. We followed this by a day trip the Tangkoko Batuangus Nature Reserve and a week of diving on a liveaboard near Sarong in a place called Raja Ampat.

Every day was a new adventure:  finding the creatures in 

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Haiku on the Run

Margaret Ryan
Janet Bergeron
Marilyn Myerson

2020 National Poetry Month Poster, Samantha Aikman

Poetry Month 2023 wraps up with a unique spin on the Haiku form where lines of haiku are interwoven in a short story depicting a jogger’s observations during a morning run. Images of winter in Florida, the sights and sounds of a runner’s trail and even resolution of a final dilemma are expressed in self-conscious haiku interjections.  Margaret Ryan’s combination of association and haiku delivers a fun sprint to the end. The haiku are presented a second time below the prose section to let us read them as standalone pieces. You will notice that Margaret does not strictly adhere to the 5-7-5 structure rule of a traditional Japanese haiku, choosing instead to rely on the secondary guideline for writing in this format, to wit: a moment of observation or insight. Modern haiku can often be structured with far fewer syllables than the originally proscribed seventeen, and the composition of syllables over lines has enjoyed a newly accepted fluidity. A guide for beginning and intermediate poets written by Brian Evans-Jones on his website entitled The Poetry Place clearly describes recent approaches to writing haiku. First time contributor Janet Bergeron and Marilyn Myerson round out our final 2023 poetry blog in traditional haiku mode.

Many thanks to all who shared their personal poetic journey with us this month.— Editors

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The above poster image was created by tenth grader Samantha Aikman from Mount Mansfield Union High School in Richmond, Vermont for the 2020 National Poetry Month Poster Contest for Students. Samantha won the top prize for her submission incorporating line(s) from the poem “Remember” by U. S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo that reflected a celebration of the art of poetry. Aikman chose the following line:   “Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.” — Editors

Open Mic Night II

Victoria Dym

Lauren H., Hanover, NH

In last week’s issue we shared a smorgasbord of haiku contributed by our members to celebrate National Poetry Month. Before that we experienced live readings performed by more poets at a January Open Mic event. With today’s issue we return to live material, this time presented by the host of the Open Mic Night, Victoria Dym. As with our last mixed-media poetry blog the written poems appear below the video so you, the reader, can experience her writing skills as well as the spontaneous performance she delivered.

The above photo was part of a 2021 National Poetry Month poster competition for middle and high school students. Lauren H., at that time a 10th grade student in Hanover, New Hampshire, discussed her creative process illustrating the poem , “For Keeps” by U. S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo. Here is an excerpt of her description. — Editor

“…The experience of looking upwards into the pitch-black sky and just seeing the stars spread out above oneself is one of the most humbling and inspiring experiences that a person can have with nature. I wanted to show that experience with my artwork…..This poem acknowledges that despite how alone we can be in the world, we can form meaningful relationships that surpass the boundaries of language. In my drawing, at first glance, the two beings seem lonely and isolated in the dark of night, but upon deeper inspection, the person and the horse are companions who are truly appreciating nature together.”

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