Dad’s Dog Tags

Diane Henrikson Russell

A week into 2021, I received a short message from Alan Carlson, the OLLI Connects Editor. Somebody had written a comment on my 2018 OLLI Connects story about Santa Claus. Who would comment on it two years later? Alan sent the comment for me to read before posting it.

The comment read: “Dear Diane, I try to contact you on your Facebook message about your dad. Hope you can see and read it! Kind regards, Sam.”

I checked Messenger and, sure enough, there was a message from Sam with two blurred images. In this age of mistrust and online scamming, I did not open the images and chose not to reply through Messenger.

Instead, I emailed Sam with the following message:  (More…)

Nudge

Peter Terzian

Here I am, miles away from Earth on the space ship Astra Zenica.  I’ve been here before with other friends.  This time it was to help them avoid a small disaster.

Normally, I’m in a home office, or the garage, or in one of several schools or theaters… looking, listening, helping.  They always need help.  Sometimes they listen.  Sometimes they don’t.  Most of the time, actually, they don’t listen. One friend is particularly astute at responding to my help. He gets an idea, knows what he needs, but doesn’t know where to look. I simply nudge him in the right direction and there it is!  He smiles.

One time I was checking on one of my friends, when he caught me on his new security camera. I knew about his old cell phones aimed out his front and back doors, and avoided being seen on those.  I didn’t know that he had bought a new camera that he found on the bargain table in a department store.  That one has night vision!  Now he can see me move about even in the dark!  (More…)

Once Upon a Time in Tampa

Neil Cosentino

Rescuing the historic Deutscher-Americaner Club

I have some German heritage on my mother’s side, so I decided to rescue the Deutscher-Americaner Club. It was then a derelict building located in Ybor City on Nebraska Avenue, a block north of Palm Avenue and El Centro Asturiano, the Spanish social club.

The campaign started many years ago on the day I drove past the boarded-up building. My concern was that it could be set on fire someday by the homeless people who, from time to time, broke in and lived inside the building. I enjoy telling this story about Tampa, because of the interesting how-to takeaways.  (More…)

An Unforgivable Mistake

Junia Ancaya

A knock on the door and a voice wakes me up, “Por favor, Doctora, come to the men’s ward. A patient is in pain.”

It’s 1961. I’m a last year medical student and my position in the hospital “on-call-hierarchy-ladder” stands firm at the bottom. I’m “el ultimo perro,” the last dog, the one who gets called all night long at Hospital San Miguel, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. I’m also a young Polish immigrant in Argentina, not familiar with many of the local expressions.

I rush downstairs and ask a nurse what is going on. “It’s that old Sicilian patient, Señor Giuseppe Coconato, the one who throws kisses to every nurse. He seems to have abdominal pain,” she says.

I find the patient’s bed among rows of thirty snoring men. He lies still, holding his distended stomach. Bushy pure-white hair, eyebrows, and whiskers dominate the dark Mediterranean features of this miniature old man. He thanks me for coming. I examine him, evaluate his history, signs and symptoms, and promise him he’ll soon get medication for gas pains and indigestion.

As I walk away, while scribbling orders on his chart, the patient asks in Spanish, speaking in his near-unintelligible Sicilian accent, “Me van a poner la chata esta noche?”   (More…)

imagining the Future

Don Menzel

Yogi Berra, the greatest philosopher and sage of our time, put it this way: “The future ain’t what it used to be!” No, it’s not … it’s what we imagine it to be. How do I imagine the future? At almost age 80, I imagine a future that is not far off. Indeed, nearly five years ago I imagined a future that would put us in our forever house. Oh, how wrong I was. Why? Because I learned that it is near impossible to imagine a future that is different from the present. Let me clarify.  (More…)

Underwater Photography

Donna McGrew

I started diving in 1994 when I taught school on Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands where I earned PADI Open Water, Advanced and Rescue Diver.  I returned to Florida for a year and did a little diving here on the east coast.  In 1996 I returned to the Pacific to teach on Saipan for two years in the Northern Marianas Islands.  While there, I earned my PADI Dive Master and Open Water Instructor.

But the photography bug did not bite until I returned to Florida once again.  I started with film in a Sea&Sea point and shoot camera.  Today, I shoot with a Panasonic EM5 with two Sea&Sea strobes for lighting.

Over the years, I have had a chance to travel and dive throughout much of the Caribbean including Cuba and Belize.  This included  (More…)

Why I Bought Shampoo for My Shrink’s Wife

Robert Strozier

Intro: Pyschotherapy takes many odd twists and turns, but even by those standards the author’s relationship with his therapist in India was—well—a bit wacky.

By shamelessly pulling a lot of strings in 1966, at age 26, I landed a trainee management job with a large philanthropic organization in New Delhi, India, for which I was totally unqualified. To add to my guilt, the job came with a house and four servants: a cook-bearer, a gardener, a sweeper, and a night watchman, who’d sit outside the front door all night guarding my precious, fraudulent being.

I was in over my head big time, not only at work but home as well. My elderly cook-bearer, Chand, usually out-maneuvered me in battles for control, once pointing out—with a wide grin—that I looked like one of the Beach Boys on an album cover. The message was clear: I was a Boy, not a real Sahib.  (More…)

A Dark and Stormy Night

Marilyn Myerson

It was a dark and stormy night. The dull beam emanating from the hilltop lighthouse shivered, blinked, and finally sputtered all the way off. The crew of the small craft now had no light to guide them through the treacherous Canadian Maritime shoals. That they might hit the rocks and capsize or be torn asunder was unthinkable. Not only did they fear for their own lives but also for the safety of the special cargo entrusted to them as they had set off on this lengthy voyage. Cargo that was so precious that when the uniformed strangers placed it in the cargo hold, they swore the crew to utmost secrecy.

“Aye, aye,” had claimed the captain, “What cargo, eh?” with a conspiratorial wink which the serious strangers did not reciprocate. In truth the captain had no idea who the strangers were nor what lay secret in the ship’s hold.  All he knew was that this voyage would result in the crew filling their pockets with decent silver.  (More…)

Shoes and Scarves

Ray Ann Favata

So Many Shoes, Only Two Feet

Yesterday was an excellent day to purge shoes. Gone are the worn, out of style, physically challenging stilettos, and just plain ugly “What were you thinking?” shoes.

Didn’t we enjoy the Carrie Bradshaw series, Sex in the City, where we longed to afford and wear the beautiful shoes featured each week? I’m here to share that my 42 pairs of shoes seem reserved compared to the shoe addiction portrayed by the show’s actresses.

My mom used to justify her extensive collection of shoes by saying that a woman should not be criticized for the number of shoes she owned as long as she did not have more pairs than her age. Theoretically, I could have 77 pairs of happiness. The truth is that I don’t need that many shoes. At 77 years of age, my feet, knees, and balance dictate my choices in chic, comfortable, and not too pricey footwear.

Why do women love shoes so much?  (More…)

Bored?

Ray Ann Favata

Musings of One Tampa Chica

Sometimes I’m so consciously aware of how bored I am. The immediate realization is how often I wander to the refrigerator. There I stand in front of the open door pondering what on earth I could eat that would feed the void I’m feeling.

Nothing on Netflix, HBO, or the Hallmark Channel grabs my attention. I feel like I’m wasting time, killing brain cells, or missing opportunities to do something, even though I don’t know what that something is. It is times like this that I think about learning how to knit or crochet.

Now don’t think I have nothing to do. I fill the days of the month with plenty of activities – volunteering, OLLI-USF classes, committees, and board of director meetings, places to go, people to see, and things to do. So what is it that makes me feel so unproductive and bored?  (More..)