“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…)
Rancho Seco sits on a hill in a landscape of green, dotted with small white pueblos on the distant slopes. It has the look and layout of the traditional Mexican hacienda you’ve seen in films: white adobe walls, red tile roofs, a one-story rectangular building enclosing a courtyard edged by a covered walkway from which various rooms can be accessed.
Mounted on the walls are the huge heads of Rancho Seco bulls that have distinguished themselves in the ring, each with a plaque showing his name and dates. The most famous was Pajarito, who jumped over the barrera and into the stands, landing in the laps of some of the spectators. (Amazingly, no one was hurt.) (More…)
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 Worldof 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…)
April is National Poetry Month, and we’re celebrating it (again) with another group of poems by OLLI members. That fellow in the picture is, of course, Robert Frost, one of America’s best known and best loved poets. He was Poet Laureate of Vermont, though never Poet Laureate of the United States. He once described poetry as “a way of taking life by the throat”.
We think he would have enjoyed the poetry we have for you today. And at the end of the post we’ll share some other ways you can enjoy poetry this month. (More…)
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...)
April is National Poetry Month, a time to celebrate the awesome things poets can do with just 26 letters and some white spaces. We asked some famous writers how they’d define poetry. Here are a few of their responses.
“Poetry is thoughts that breathe, and words that burn”. –Thomas Gray. “Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance”. –Carl Sandburg. “Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful”. –Rita Dove. “Poetry is a way of taking life by the throat”. –Robert Frost.
And Carol Ann Duffy said “You can find poetry in your everyday life, your memory, in what people say on the bus, in the news, or just what’s in your heart”. Which is exactly what some of our own OLLI members have done for us here. (More…)
I was fascinated with school during my childhood in the Chicago suburbs. I idolized teachers, offered to grade tests for them, and played school with younger neighbors in our basement.
In September, 1970, I headed to the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, to start my major in elementary education. I loved my classes until my view of teaching elementary school became more realistic during my second semester of sophomore year. I observed a fourth-grade class of misbehaving lower-income students in Urbana. During spring break, I observed my fourth-grade sister’s class in suburban Chicago, only to discover that my sister’s teacher faced the same behavior problems. I sadly decided that I did not want a career disciplining students who did not want to learn. (More…)
OLLI usually doesn’t go in for tests or grades. But we do like to spring a pop quiz on you every once in a while. Like now! Read this post’s headline and—without help from Google—tell me in one word what Peter Terzian’s upcoming class will be about.
Time’s up! Who has an answer? Now, let’s not always see the same hands. Yes! The correct answer is “Beer.” Those of you who got it right can congratulate yourselves! Those of you who got it wrong will just have to study harder. In fact, you may want to take Peter’s class. In the spirit of pop quizzes, we asked him some questions about it. (More…)
Some of us have begun an OLLI-USF class that requires close, critical reading. The morning and afternoon Winter Great Books classes, facilitated by Kevin Chittim and Patrick DeMarco, are just two examples. The selected texts, none of which could be described as easy, are read and then they are discussed in the group using the “shared inquiry” method.
I am in the afternoon Great Books class and, reviewing what I just wrote, I notice a tendency to yawn. Why, oh why, did I sign up for this class, I wonder? The answers are that I am a long-time fan of Patrick, I know many of the people in the group, and I also need to exercise my brain after two years of absence from OLLI. These group discussions are stimulating, and I come away afterwards feeling exhilarated and also virtuous. However, there comes a time for each of us OLLI members… (More…)
When I was a child growing up in Illinois, my imagination of Oregon was limited to the “Oregon Trail” computer game we played in school. It was a far-away, desolate land marred by a never-ending dirt trail littered with sun-bleached ox skulls. Who would want to brave treacherous river crossings and cholera to go there?
It wasn’t until years later that I discovered that the Oregon Trail ends in a nature lover’s paradise – a geographic kaleidoscope. (More…)