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..)

The River – Book Review

Lucinda Knox

I am not an outdoorswoman, and my skills with an oar or a paddle are negligible. The last time I fished was with my dad when my family spent summer vacations in Wisconsin. I have never fired a gun, although I was good with a bow and arrow at one point. However, I loved this book. Peter Heller, who is an adventure writer, an outdoorsman, whitewater kayaker, fisherman, a recipient of an MFA in fiction and poetry, and much more, uses his background to good advantage. He has created a thrilling, poetic work with memorable main characters whose wilderness canoe trip is upended by a wildfire and men intent on killing them.

I was immediately hooked by the prologue:

“They had been smelling smoke for two days. At first they thought it was another campfire and that surprised them because  (More…)

Walking In a COVID-19 Wonderland

Diane Henrikson Russell

I drove over nine speed bumps daily on a major street in my subdivision as I impatiently commuted to my USF Career Counselor job, which was 21 miles away. I barely gave the homes or the intersecting streets a glance as I focused on my destination in the pre-dawn hours.

Fast forward from August 2014 to Fall 2020: I now leisurely stroll along the sidewalks of that same street as I watch impatient commuters drive over those same speed bumps.

The stark contrast in my change of pace was not caused by retirement. The COVID-19 virus has made walking a safe and enjoyable way to exercise outdoors while we “vulnerable” folks try to remain isolated from others and still exist on the planet.

Walking has been my preferred method of exercise for decades. As a USF employee, I strolled the sidewalks of the Tampa campus on breaks and at lunchtime. Before moving to Brandon, I even walked to and from work when I lived 1.5 miles away from the campus. I lost my campus walking routine as a retiree, but last year I began walking on the outdoor track at Bay Care Health Hub in nearby Valrico.  (More...)

My Tiny Christmas Trees

Jane Applegate Belzer

Years ago, in another life, a full-size Christmas tree would stand in my living room in late December, hung with lights and ornaments. But sometime in January the tinsel had to come down, and a litter of pine needles had to be cleared away. One year those needles even broke my vacuum cleaner. 

Remarried now, and to a man of other holidays and other traditions, I’ve channeled my nostalgia for the Christmas trees of childhood into collecting miniatures. The first came from the Brandywine Valley ten years ago. Since then, they have multiplied during our travels in the United States and abroad. And every December some of them come out to march across the mantelpiece and hearth, the solution to ecumenical Christmas decoration in a mixed household – without the pine needles.

Let me introduce you to a few of my tree friends:  (More…)

Struggle for Freedom

Junia Ancaya

Chapter One: Lodz, 1942, Ghetto at Baluty

Like the shattering of my family and Poland due to Hitler’s and Stalin’s ruthless power ambitions, my first impressions of life in Lodz in the midst of WW II, my awakening, emerged not as a continuum but as fragmented images and episodes. . . .

I was six. I held her hand and through her fingers felt my mother tremble at the approach of an SS man, but he passed us by on the street. A menacing sky hung close above Lodz’s numerous factory chimneys. Bulky ashen clouds and snowflakes crowded the air as my mother, brother and I stood waiting at a street corner for the trolley. Around us more and more people were caught in the whistling wind. It blew one way and the other and swept in mad pirouettes.

The trolley barreled toward us growing to enormous proportions before it squealed to an abrupt stop. A door opened in front of me, so I freed myself from my mother’s hand and hopped onto the stairs. But the next second she yanked me backwards by my collar. I slid on the snow, and before I had time to think she picked me up and rushed to the last trolley car. My brother raced beside us. We boarded. Mother sat on the one available seat.   (More…)