The Road to Athabasca — The Adventure Begins

Doug Guido


Several weeks ago, we whetted your appetite with a chapter from Doug Guido’s memoir describing his extraordinary journey to Alaska. Today, we will start at the beginning and take you up to that episode. And if you wish to read or re-read the earlier chapter, a link has been provided at the end of today’s publication. A future blog will finish his adventure story, but for now, we embark on The Road to Athabasca. — Editor

By early 1990, my brief marriage was all but over, about the same time my job was. After a false start with another company in a town where I knew no one, I quit and decided it was a good time to have my mid-life crisis. I went directly from my new ex-employer to the bookstore and bought two books about a subject that had fascinated me for some time: Michener’s ‘Alaska’ and “The Milepost’ a soup to nuts travelers guide to Alaska.

Thus armed with literary fact and fiction about our 49th state, I set out to find the appropriate vehicle to get me there….

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Love Finds Its Way

Bruce Zimmerman
Marilyn Myerson

Ancient Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia, a spring festival dedicated to Cupid and personifications of fertility, on the 13-15th February. The early Christian pope Gelasius I (494-96) integrated the history of martyred Saint Valentine into this cultural rite, and moved the date to February 14th. In the Middle Ages the medieval obsession with courtly love inserted it into popular culture. Once a Chaucer tale enshrined it in verse, the deed was done. And here we are in the second millenium, bearing cards, texts, emails, boxes of chocolates, flowers and messages of affection to good friends and loved ones. Thankfully the modern world celebrates our ability to share love however we like. Today’s stories show us the way…Editors

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Komi’s Northern Lights

Junia Ancaya

When we see what is happening in Yemen and Ukraine, we sometimes feel that more human suffering is taking place now than the world has ever seen before. And that’s not true. Most of us are old enough to remember WW II as having been a recent event when we were children. Some of us experienced it. The horrors taking place now are real but not unique.

Junia Ancaya and her family suffered the brutalities of both the Soviets and the Nazis during that dreadful time, and she has written about it in two books she’s published and here in OLLI Connects. In this issue she adds another chapter to her family’s saga.

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Romania After the Cold War

Joseph McAuliffe

In 1987, I was invited by Colonel Donor (I would tease him about his name—that he was neither), to be a board member of his International Church Relief Fund, based in Santa Rosa, California. He asked me to direct the organization’s relief work in eastern Europe, with special attention upon Hungary and Romania. I made four trips there, beginning in 1990, shortly after the Cold War ended, when all the former iron curtain countries severed their subservience to the former USSR. 

My work consisted of overseeing, through local churches and government agencies, the distribution of the food, medical supplies and clothing allocated to those countries. The copious and much appreciated supplies were delivered by 18-wheelers that were loaded in Amsterdam and driven to southeastern Europe …
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This year marks the 35th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the dissolution of the Iron Curtain and subsequent eradication of Soviet-style communism in Eastern Europe. Today’s story is the first of a pair of accounts by two OLLI contributors involving journeys to Romania in the months and years after these events. Joseph’s narrative references the political and societal challenges he witnessed and their effects on the population at large. The second story is an intimate portrait of one family who faced alienation and personal hardship at the hands of the police state, as well as their response to family reunification after the Romanian revolution. Look for that story in a future blog over the next few weeks. — Editors

Christmas Carol Redux

Joan Weaving

This week’s blog ushers in what we hope will be a series of issues about the challenges facing this nation in 2024. We are pairing her thoughtful, short article, where she considers the future we are leaving for the next generation, with a new challenge in the form of an appeal for more opinion content from our subscribers and writers. You can read more about our request at the end of Joan’s article. — Editors

The ghost of Christmas Future visited us this Christmas Eve. It came on the faces of all the little children who gathered at my son’s house. My grandsons, their neighbors and friends, their cousins. The oldest was 10 years and the youngest 2 months. I felt very old.

I thought about the world they will live in. The only thing I know for sure is that it will be different from the one of today, and unrecognizable to the one I grew up in. The events which shaped our understanding of the world will be just a footnote in their history books. But I want them to know.

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The Abyss

Mary Bowers

I’ve known most of the crew for around ten to twelve years, others fewer than that. Morrey, for instance, was the first of the coordinators of Life Story Writing classes that I took. I poured my heart out in those stories about growing up in a small midwestern town, where everyone’s life was similar to everyone else’s: white, Christian, poor (only most of us weren’t aware of how poor we were), and anxiously awaiting to see what the future had in store for us. Few of us had any real plans for the future; we just waited for Fate to allow us to go wherever. That is what most of you first learned about me. Now you know that I got lucky when a family friend herded me into college, when I got lucky in love for forty-some years, when my children were healthy and happy, and so was I.

Dear Readers: Now you are about to learn the story of my former life – one that was not so lucky.

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Moral Courage In U.S. Politics

Don Menzel
Joyce Carpenter

Here at OLLI Connects, just as everywhere else in our country, we recognize that 2024 is shaping up to be a watershed year. Economic insecurity, international conflicts, climate fears, border chaos and our polarized, explosive electorate will influence life for the foreseeable future. And while we are fortunate that OLLI offers each of us opportunities to engage in learning and activities that provide welcome distraction, the outer world continues to churn with disturbing events that must be dealt with. And so to begin the year, we address the concept of moral courage; and we hope to hear more from you about the important issues of our day throughout the coming year. It is our goal to listen to you, to give you a safe place to express your thoughts, your fears, and your hopes for the future in an occasional series of articles. More on that later. But for today, the first entry written by Don Menzel acknowledges courageous individuals who stepped up in 2023. And Joyce Carpenter invites you to attend a lecture on the same theme.

We begin with …. Moral Courage in U.S. Politics—Editors

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2023—A Look Back

As the editors of OLLI Connects, we love to take one week each year to simply reflect on the stories and articles that you, our members, have shared over the previous twelve months. This year is no exception. Moreover, 2023 distinguished itself from others due to the sheer diversity of material we were able to publish.

So we invite you to take a little trip down memory lane and revisit the riches our subscribers and authors shared every week. You might even find a few stories you missed! The links provided in the body of this story will bring you to specific stories or categories; you can also use our search box to find specific authors or topics in the complete archive. Or….you can just look at the images.

We hope you enjoy the journey—Editors

Echoes of Christmas Past

OLLI Connects doesn’t have as many Christmases to remember as Ebeneezer Scrooge did, but 2023 is definitely not our first holiday season. We leafed through the yellowed, curling pages of our past issues and discovered tales and memories that we enjoyed rereading.

You may have read one or two of them, but we’ll bet you a shilling that you haven’t seen them all. Thanks to the magic of internal web links, we don’t have to stack the stories up on the page we’re about to take you to.  We can simply give you a taste of each one and let you choose whether to enjoy the full meal.

Ready?  Of course you are! — Editors

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Force Majeure

Nancy Wileden
Colletta G. Rose

We’re always excited when we find a new author, and in today’s issue we have two! Without intending to, they’ve both written about what insurance companies now call a “Force Majeure”, an event, often catastrophic, beyond human control.

Nancy Wileden describes one that happens to us all. One that approaches us stealthily and gradually, incrementally, inexorably steals our powers and abilities.

Colletta G. Rose describes a more immediate and more Florida-specific “force majeure”. One that we anticipate and prepare for but are still unable to defend ourselves against, if it is determined to destroy us.—Editors

To meet our two new authors and enjoy their stories ……. Read more

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