What We’re Reading Now

Linda Feeney

Planning an OLLI social event in today’s world presents challenges. Robyn Cheung decided to try a form of book discussion and I offered to moderate. The result was an invitation to a virtual Book Lovers’ Happy Hour on September 4. Would anybody come? Should we prepare some back-up questions in case the discussion lags? Silly us.

The 15 participants signed in more than ready to talk about their books. There was very little moderating to do except to ensure that everyone had a chance to speak —  plenty of time to marvel at the variety and depth of both selections and accompanying commentary.  (More…)

Confined to Quarters

Shelly Belzer

02 VendorIn normal times, the OLLI Shutterbugs range over the state, the country and even the world to take pictures. Staying home during the COVID-19 pandemic has made us look at what’s right around us for good subjects.

Rich Edwards was probably the most adventurous, traveling to a goat farm in May and then to the Blairsville farmer’s market in Georgia in July for these shots of a vendor and honey in sunlight, as irresistible to a photographer as to a honey lover. Gail Parsons, master naturalist, shot the pictures of a yellow-sided skimmer and a black swallowtail butterfly getting ready to drink nectar from a thistle at Lake Dan Preserve in northwestern Hillsborough County.   (More…)

Pandemic Potato Salad

Diane White

The Saga of the Pandemic Potato Salad – Comfort Food Through the Generations

Potato saladWhat does potato salad remind you of? To me potato salad is summer days, picnics, family, tailgating at the beach. Happiness.

I am calling this story the pandemic potato salad saga which reached out and brought comfort from the past.

At the beginning of the Covid-19 stay-at-home order, the call went out across the family network. S.O.S! My middle sister wanted to make potato salad. Not just any potato salad – the potato salad from our childhood. The way our Polish immigrant grandmother made it. So, I looked through my recipe files – something else I’ve been meaning to organize. And yes, I found it! Not only do I have it, it is handwritten, in my grandmother’s hand with notes lovingly explaining how to make it, addressed to her daughter-in-law, my mother.

Who was she, my grandmother, to remind us of comfort at this time? Katarzyna (Catherine) Walczak White was born in 1909. She emigrated from Andrychow, a small town in southern Poland, in 1913. She was four years old.  (More…)

The Very Air We Breathe

Jan Vaupel

A strange unbelievable tale in the Sci-Fi genre

Chinese building on a hillSpring of the Year, 2020

As we celebrated New Year’s Eve last year, there were dozens of cases of a new virus in China with no evidence at the time that this virus was going to be spread by humans. On January 11th, as we partied on, the first death was reported from this novel virus. Mr. Yu was a regular customer at the live animal market in Wuhan, but he had other health problems, so, as his death came right before the Lunar New Year in China, there wasn’t much mention.

Then in January, the first case comes to the United States when a man in his 30’s develops symptoms after returning to Seattle from a trip to Wuhan. The Chinese authorities close off Wuhan by canceling planes, trains, ferries, and automobiles. At this point, 17 people have died and more than 570 others have been infected in other countries, including Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, and the U.S.  (More…)

Group Singing Turned Upside Down

Diane Russell

Easter 02 pngOn March 11, 2020, we rehearsed the usual Lenten songs in preparation for Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and Easter services in early April. We casually walked out of the choir room with our friends and said, “See you Sunday,” as we usually did.

Three days later, we learned that Sunday church services were cancelled due to restrictions on large gatherings caused by the nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases.

Churches were encouraged to remain closed because being indoors in close contact with fellow worshippers was a palpable health risk. Worse yet, a March choir rehearsal in Washington State caused the deaths of two choir members and significant illness in many other choir members due to COVID-19.

This news was shocking for this lifelong singer and choir member since age 8. How could an activity that has given me so much pleasure, both individually and in groups, be so deadly?  (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…)

Comfort Reading

Cindy Knox

I enjoyed George Hyde’s recent OLLI Connects contribution that contained various OLLI members’ recommendations for reading while we’re in self-isolation. However, the books that I crave right now – and some of you may, also – are what I call “comfort reads,” similar to comfort food.

I need a book that takes me to another world without murders, torture, or other examples of man’s (extreme) inhumanity to man. Or women, children, and animals. We get plenty of that on the nightly news – or, indeed, on cable news all day. So, here are a few offerings of the “comfort reads” variety off the top of my head.

(First of all, I hope that each of you reading this is in your PJs or however you dress at home. I myself tend to favor old T-shirts and flannel PJ bottoms. (Yes, even in Florida.) You will need to get comfortable and sit in a favorite chair – or your bed. No judgement here.)  (More…)

So, What Are You Up To?

Jane Applegate Belzer

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. (More…)