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…)

Santa Fe and New Mexico

I’m a transplant to Santa Fe.  I grew up in Miami, graduated from FSU in Tallahassee, lived in San Francisco, Bern, Switzerland and Los Angeles.  Finally I settled here in 1994 at the age of 35.  No regrets whatsoever.  I chose to live in Santa Fe after compiling a list of pre-requisites that included:  small-size city, diverse population, vibrant arts scene, and proximity to nature.

The oldest capital city in the United States, Santa Fe celebrated its 400th anniversary in 2010.  It was located first in what was known as New Spain, then Mexico, and finally in New Mexico (a US territory that became a state in 1912).  (More...)

A Week in Sante Fe

Joyce Carpenter

It is 5:30 on a beautiful evening in New Mexico, and I am going to the pre-opera dinner at The Santa Fe Opera Theatre, where I will be fed a meal in keeping with the evening’s opera (tonight it is Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte, so Italian wines and pasta will be served). The dinner speaker will tell us about the music, the performers and the stagecraft of this particular production.

Opera goers in Santa Fe dress in anything, from tattered jeans and battered hiking boots to fabulously expensive designer creations that border on the bizarre. I happily take advantage of every opportunity to dress up, and so I am dressed in my favorite opera outfit – a rather posh cream, lace dress and sparkly shoes with high heels.  (More…)

Want a Better Travel Experience? Five High and Low Tech tips.

Diane White

Traveling can be stressful. What can you do? From apps to therapy dogs, I’ve put together a list of my favorite high- and low-tech travel tips for getting there, getting around, and getting a better travel experience.

Beyond the basics travel apps. If you are a frequent traveler, you may already have these basic apps on your phone: Google Maps, Kayak and your airline’s app for mobile boarding passes and travel alerts. Beyond those, here are three apps that may help your travel experience.  (More…)

Tornado on the Way!

Diane Russell

What started out as a pretty, warm day in northern Iowa ended as a dangerous night when a tornado formed suddenly in southern Minnesota.

In August 2017, my husband and I were in northern Iowa with some fellow roller coaster friends to ride the coasters at Arnolds Park Amusement Park on Lake Okoboji. The nearby towns were so tiny that we had to stay at a small motel in Spencer, Iowa, 30 minutes south.  (More…)

Come wiz Me to ze Casbah!

Shelly Belzer

One of the phrases people of a certain age have imprinted on their memory was not spoken by Charles Boyer in the movie “Algiers,” which he made in 1938 with Hedy Lamarr, although comedians continued uttering it in a bad French accent for years afterward.  “Come wiz me to ze Casbah” was probably most famously spoken at the movies by Bugs Bunny.

“Algiers” was an American remake, down to some of the same camera angles, of the 1937 “Pepe le Moko,” starring the French film icon Jean Gabin.  With scenes of those movies in my mind’s eye, I set foot in the Casbah in Tangier in April.    (More…)

Cape Cod: Finding Her Secrets

Judy Huge

On hearing I was fresh from building a house on Cape Cod, the first 84 people I met after moving to Wisconsin 18 years back broke into huge grins as they leaned in to confide, “You’ll love Door County. It’s the Cape Cod of the Mid-West.” There was no doubt they felt proprietary. I guess that’s the way I feel about “my” Cape and why I’d like to make a few introductions.

The Cape I know is a bit shy. She hides her secrets on winding dirt roads, in the hollows of dunes, deep in the coolers of one-named ice cream stands or high on the shelves of artists who craft each coffee mug so the warmth you feel holding it on a winter morning seems to have come directly from the hands of the one who shaped it.  (More…)

Soviet Women in the Brezhnev Era

Diane Russell

“Do you have any abortion pills?” Marina whispered. Stunned, I answered a vehement “Nyet!”

For seven months from September 1979 through March 1980, my first husband did research for his doctoral dissertation in Tbilisi, Georgia. I learned firsthand about the Georgian woman’s lifestyle, which contrasted with the image presented in Soviet propaganda. Georgia lies 1,000 miles south of Moscow, bordering Turkey and the Black Sea, and was one of 15 republics of the former Soviet Union. Americans recognize Georgia as Joseph Stalin’s birthplace.

As a 27-year-old American woman with knowledge of conversational Russian, I befriended several young Georgian women who wanted to improve their English. However, my friends preferred learning about the American woman’s lifestyle.  (More…)

Lightning Strikes Twice with Dick Van Dyke

Diane Russell

When my beloved GreGra, my dad’s mom, asked me if I wanted to go to Disneyland, I shouted, “Yes!”

As a 10-year-old, I had watched episodes about Disneyland on Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color on Sunday nights at 6:00 p.m. for years. My dad, a free-lance cartoonist, had visited Disneyland when he went to the yearly convention of editorial cartoonists two years earlier. He had even met Walt Disney!  What’s more, he had met an employee at Disney Studios. Mr. Reddy offered to give GreGra and me a personalized tour of the studios during our stay. Maybe we would catch a glimpse of Walt himself.  (More…)

Rocket in the Desert

Joyce Carpenter

As he drops us off at the Camel Safari, Mr. Sharma, our Rajastani guide, smiles wearily. We are spending several days in the Thar Desert in Rajastan, India, and he is charged with driving us to and from our various activities. Our hotel is near the town of Jaisalmer, formerly the massive fort dwelling of the Rajput ruler, Jaisal, and now the residence of one quarter of Jaisalmer’s population who live and work inside its substantial walls. We have spent the day exploring the town’s temples and its labyrinthian, crowded streets. We have left the clamor of town and are now ready for the anticipated calm of the desert. After our camel ride and the dinner and dancing program which follows, Mr. Sharma will have to return to collect us. It’s already been a long day for him.

“Have you ever ridden a camel, Mr. Sharma?” I ask.

“Never Madam!” he replies, and, as he escapes to the solitude of his van, the thought bubble trailing in his wake clearly reads, “You must be joking, Madam!”  (More...)