Gasparilla: Is It Just Like Mardi Gras?

Beryl. B. Byles

When I retired to Tampa, I was introduced to several local experiences. One of the most notable was Gasparilla, a series of several events throughout the year, but mostly the annual invasion and parade on the last Saturday of January.

Since many locals consider Gasparilla to be “just like Mardi Gras,” I realized that most people just did not know the difference.  So, I volunteered to teach an audience of fellow seniors who were curious. I was eager to share my lifelong experience and new research on the similarities and differences.   (More…)

Boyhood Capers

Don Menzel

Route 66 signGrowing up in small town America where Route 66 went straight through it and with freedom to do most anything was just too much of a temptation for me. I was never thrown into a juvenile jail or correction facility, but I surely would have been had I grown up in a city. So, what did I do that was so juvenile?

For starters, the local culture was gun friendly, so I wasn’t very old when I acquired a BB gun, a perfect weapon to shoot out street lights and do other nasty things. At age 15, apparently my father thought I was old enough to handle a shot gun, so he bought me a 16-gauge automatic firing Remington, so I could hunt. I also acquired a .22 single shot rifle.   (More…)

My Life During “Stay Safe at Home”

Catherine Mitchell

First, I am grateful because all of my friends and family are in good health, and so far they are financially secure. And I am thankful to all the people who are putting themselves in harm’s way to keep things working as much as possible – not only those people in the medical field, but also grocery store workers, restaurant owners and workers, and all of the unsung heroes out there.

I am 80 years YOUNG and cringe every time that I hear or read, “the frail and elderly.”  I definitely am not frail and hadn’t felt elderly until the coronavirus hit. This is a picture of me celebrating my 80th birthday in Italy last year.  All of a sudden, I went from having a full calendar to having an empty one. So far a dental appointment has been cancelled as has  (More…)

National Poetry Month – Final Edition

Poetry is everywhere.  All around us.  But it’s shy, elusive, and difficult to see. Unless you’re a poet.  And they don’t find it easily.  They break a sweat, seeing the half seen beauty around them.  And capturing it for the rest of us with their clever words, sometimes tricking us into thinking that we had seen it all along.  This is our final collection of poems for National Poetry Month this year.  Read them with fierce attention, the way they were written.  (More…)

More Than Meets the Eye II

We introduced you to Blended Learning in Monday’s issue.  Here is a reminder of what our project entailed, followed by some of the artwork it used and the poetry it generated.

The perfect opportunity in the most imperfect moment.

Eighteen participants from OLLI-USF and OLLI at Northwestern recently completed a five-week blended learning course, More Than Meets the Eye: Our Perspectives in Art. “Blended learning” combined two face-to-face sessions (the first one in two classrooms and the final one on Zoom) and three sessions where participants worked through online material in collaboration with a member at the partner university. Halfway through the course, both OLLIs had to cancel their planned Spring programs due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This course continued. One participant described the course as “a beautiful distraction.”  (More…)

More Than Meets the Eye

The perfect opportunity in the most imperfect moment.

Vermeer Art of Painting via WikiEighteen participants from OLLI-USF and OLLI at Northwestern recently completed a five-week blended learning course, More Than Meets the Eye: Our Perspectives in Art. “Blended learning” combined two face-to-face sessions (the first one in two classrooms and the final one on Zoom) and three sessions where participants worked through online material in collaboration with a member at the partner university. Halfway through the course, both OLLIs had to cancel their planned Spring programs due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This course continued. One participant described the course as “a beautiful distraction.”

Some background: The National Resource Center (NRC) for Osher Institutes invited OLLI-USF and OLLI at Northwestern to develop and present this first-of-its-kind blended learning, joint course. Participants in the course investigated different ways to look at art, including art made in response to art.  (More…)

National Poetry Month

National Poetry Month is a celebration of poetry that takes place in April every year.  It was introduced in 1996, organized by the Academy of American Poets as a way to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States.  Their web site is a good place to find information about local poetry events during the month.  Which are pretty thin on the ground this year.   But we’ve got you covered with two small, intimate poetry “events” every week.  (More…)

National Poetry Month

NPM Background 01 Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on UnsplashLike way too much of life these days, National Poetry Month has had to go online this year.  Even this issue of OLLI Connects is an online manifestation of an experience that would be more powerful if you were there, live and in person, hearing both of today’s poets read their own works.  We can’t give you that exact experience, but we suggest–seriously–that you read the poetry in this piece aloud.  Pay attention to the punctuation, the timing, the sentence melody.  Let each poem tell you how to read it.   (More…)

National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month.  Normally this would be a good time to attend a “poetry slam” , a more traditional poetry reading, or some other event that celebrates the power of well chosen words and carefully crafted phrases.  This year, not so much.

But that doesn’t mean you have to forgo poetry this time around.  We have some for you today created by OLLI-USF members, and we’ll bring you more in extra editions of OLLI Connects for the rest of the month.  And we have an NPR link below that we hope you’ll enjoy.  (More…)

Symbols of Mankind

Judy K. Patterson

In 1992 I was a member of the Friends of the Hillsborough Library.  My first project was to see that all the art in the libraries of Hillsborough County was repaired, reframed, and in good shape.  My second project was to get the Board to buy art for the new libraries from the Gasparilla Festival of Arts Show in Tampa in March.  The Friends had ten thousand dollars sitting in a CD for emergencies.  I finally convinced them that the money could be earned and replaced, but the new libraries needed art.  We had a few holdouts but, eventually, we all agreed to buy art each year.  It gives me great pleasure to see new art in the local libraries that I visit.

Looking around for a new project, I heard about the Ybor Library on Nebraska and its damaged mosaic on the front of the building done by Joe Testa-Secca, an artist and art teacher at University of Tampa.  (More…)