So, What Are You Up To?

When reading George Hyde’s last post in OLLI Connects, I thought: Now I know I’m not alone in seeking ways to occupy myself during this period of quasi-hibernation. While this is a home of two readers, there are other activities that we of a certain age will be doing to exercise our spirits while at home for what now sounds like a couple of months. I’d like to know what you are doing to entertain yourself during these isolating times.

I just pulled five cookbooks off my shelf to entertain myself and share with you.  The Black Sea, by a British journalist, Caroline Eden, is a travel guide and cookbook to the exotic world from Odessa to Trabzon. The recipes enrich the stories of her journey through this very ancient region. If things get back to normal, we hope to go there next year.

Midwest Made by Shauna Sever is a baking book that illustrates the many contributions immigrants made as they baked their way into the American Midwest. As a Midwesterner myself, I want to see how these goodies compare with those made by my grandmother. Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat is a book to study. I’m going to read it cover to cover, because it promises to make me a better cook. There is also a Netflix series of the same name, featuring the author, with each episode devoted to one of these essential components. Even without the book, I recommend the Netflix series for inspiration.

Deep Run Roots by Vivian Howard is a collection of stories and recipes from her home in North Carolina. She has a beautiful way with words, weaving together images from her youth and the simple, agricultural life she lived into a story of transforming a small Carolina town through her restaurant and the local producers who make farm-to-table food real. There is a PBS series with Ms. Howard cooking for you. Finally, I call your attention to Bravetart by Stella Parks simply because it’s fun to read and bake from, and these days can surely use some sweetening. Here you will discover how to make the homemade Girl Scout Thin Mints and Twinkies of your dreams. How about some banana pudding? Everything from this book works.

If those books aren’t enough to put you in a cooking frame of mind, check out Kitchen Arts and Letters, a cookbook shop in New York City, for more inspiration at You can find a blog by David Lebovitz for stay-at-home recipes at davidlebovitz.comKitchen inspiration is everywhere.

My husband, Shelly Belzer, is entertaining himself by carrying a camera on our morning (and now evening) walks, and taking pictures of people, dogs and mostly the light as it shifts through the Spanish moss on the oak trees of Tampa Palms Boulevard.





This is a time for looking carefully at the simple things around us. Beauty is everywhere. It is also an opportunity to experiment with different lenses, so he tells me.

So, take a moment now to share with the rest of the USF OLLI community what you are doing to keep your attitude healthy. We can all learn from and support one another.

[Please send your thoughts on what you’re up to during Coronavirus self isolation–carefully organized or spontaneously free form–to  –Editor]

Jane Applegate Belzer, retired professor and Dean of USF’s College of Education, joined OLLI in 2012.  She has taken OLLI classes in literature, art, history, lifestyles, nature and technology.  Jane is a member of the Hiking SIG and the Faculty Support Team and the coordinator of the Food, Glorious Food! SIG. .  She teaches A Course is Born: From Concept to Classroom, an OLLI course for prospective instructors.   Her husband, Shelly, is the coordinator of the OLLI Shutterbugs SIG


4 Replies to “So, What Are You Up To?”

  1. Thankful to have the TT Golf Course very close, for walks with the dog, like you morning and evening. Returned to baking – – now that there’s ample time – – but, who knew, NO FLOUR at Publix!! Is everyone else baking as well?
    Have enjoyed phone calls and emails with friends/family I haven’t been in touch with for a while. But now it seems important to check on them.
    Enjoying the lack of traffic.
    Reading a lot. Watching movies (e.g. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” – – wonderful, I thought)
    Also looking forward to getting back to sewing. I have a closet full of assorted fabrics used for various projects, but haven’t had time, mostly because of OLLI activities!!!
    Learning how to Video Conference is something of a challenge – – at least for me. But its also exciting.
    And I’m writing a story for my 5-year old granddaughter.
    Oh, and limiting News, while trying to keep up with developments.
    Good wishes to everyone!!

  2. Here’s what I’m up to: meditation, stretching/yoga, and a walk or bike ride take up nearly half the day! Then there’s lunch, maybe phone or FaceTime conversations with friends and family, some computer time…and where did the day go? I haven’t run out of long-term projects, but somehow they’re still not getting done!
    And I have lots of self-rising and whole wheat flour to share!

  3. So much music…so little time use to be my creed. Now I have the time! I’m adding intros and endings to songs in my play list; rearranging arrangements; working on new arrangements; memorizing new songs; playing for my own (and cats) enjoyment; listening to my favorite music. In between I’m giving my Kindle Unlimited account a workout with lots of books. Speaking of workouts…that’s the one thing I haven’t started yet now that the gym is closed…my bad. “Music is a means of giving form to our inner feelings without attaching them to events or objects in our world.” Santayana

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