Tuesday, September 29, 2020

And so fall begins . . .

Today's the day! Courses begin this very day, and we're so excited. We have a nice selection of topics, from zoology and pet care, Maine poetry, and race/privilege to watercolor painting, and so much more! 

Yes, we're still on Zoom, like so much of the rest of the world. But that's OK. We're still offering great courses, just in a little bit different way. Our summer Zoom offerings were a huge success, and we see no reason why fall shouldn't be just as wonderful.

If you've missed the start date but wanted to take a class, never fear. This year we plan something new: a winter term with at least a couple of offerings. So stay tuned! 

Meanwhile, happy fall!

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Learning, learning, learning!

It's amazing how many ways there are for seniors to keep learning. Of course, our fall semester catalog is the place to start: https://pvsc.myrec.com/info/default.aspx

And of course, if you're a member, you can take courses at Senior Colleges across the state. The Lewiston-Auburn SC has just opened its fall courses to members of other SCs, so their lineup is worth a look: www.usm.maine.edu/seniorcollege

Monday, August 31, 2020

It's here! it's here!

The Fall course catalog is out! Courses begin September 29, and we're excited about the slate we've put together. Classes cover everything from A(rt) to V(eterinary medicine), with lots in between. 

Courses will be on Zoom, because that's what we have, these strange days. But fear not--it's easy, and help is available. 

Check out all the goodness on our website, https://pvsc.myrec.com/info/default.aspx

Won't it be good to be back in class?!

Monday, August 17, 2020

And did we mention . . .

 . . . Summer learning continues into fall at Senior Colleges around the state. Check out the last-minute opportunities at nearby SCs. 


And if you're thinking about fall courses, our catalog is about to come out. Lots of good stuff, from race and privilege to Poe and Maine poetry to watercolor painting. 

Thursday, August 13, 2020

On through August with the Variety Show

Bari Newport wowed us with her discussion of regional theater and Penobscot Theatre Company in particular. (Keep your eyes open for the Theatre's announcement of its exciting line-up for next season. No, it's not live, but there's tremendous fun, stimulation, and creativity in what they're offering. Check it out!)

Coming up in our lovely Variety Show: 

African-American history in Bangor, Wednesday, August 19

German POW camps in Maine in World War II, Wednesday and Thursday, August 26 and 27

The ins and outs of self/cooperative publishing, Monday, August 31.

To register, call or email Sheila Krautkremer, smksenior2020@gmail.com or 659-1359.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Summer learnin’, cont.

Our summer offerings are halfway along, but it’s not too late to get in on the deliciousness. The Variety Show runs to the end of August. Next up: Prof. Steve Norton and “The Iceman Cometh: Maine Lakes”—exploration of water, ice, weather, and climate to explain some of Maine lake behavior.

Still ahead: The history of regional theatre in the US, African-Americans’ important role in Bangor’s history, and a two-part presentation on POW camps in Maine In WWII.

We’ve been thrilled with the turnout for all our experiments with Zoom presentations. The Variety Show attracts 40-50 members each week, as have our one-time special events. The short story discussion group is going strong with more dynamic discussions every week.

We’re grateful for our trusty Board of Directors. They saw the lockdown coming, met it head-on, and, as the business people say, pivoted nimbly to keep folks learning and engaged all summer. 

Friday, July 17, 2020

Summer learnin'

Your trusty blog writer has been absent for a bit, working to help get our two summer series underway. It's exciting to see how happily local seniors are taking to learning on Zoom: both series are pretty well at capacity. Turns out, not only can you teach old dogs news tricks, but old dogs can learn new tricks all by themselves!

Folks attending the Variety Show on Wednesdays at 4:00 have learned about a critical Supreme Court decision from the current session, Ramos v. Louisiana, and heard an overview of how waves and beaches work. Next week we'll take up "Brainstorming the Bicentennial: Past and Present Perspectives on Maine at 200," with history professor Liam Riordan.

Our book group-style discussion class, "Stories for Our Time" launched yesterday with a wonderful sharing of ideas about two pieces by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Next week, two startling stories by the ever-unpredictable George Saunders.

Good things are happening at PVSC, despite the restrictions imposed by Covic-19!

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Variety Show

Happy 4th of July! Maybe the barbecues and fireworks are in short supply, but there’s excitement ahead!

PVSC’s Variety Show, a series of one-hour Zoom presentations on a fascinating range of topics, starts Wednesday, the 8th, and there are still seats left.

One sign-up gets you any or all of 8 weeks’ worth, every Wednesday at 4:00. Check out the delicious choices on our website:

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

At-home learning just got lots better!

PVSC's free, innovative summer series is in place on our website, where you can register for any or all of the following. Click the images for information about each.

*Beginning July 8: The PVSC Variety Show, with speakers on fascinating topics, sort of like a mini-mini-course. One hour/week on Wednesdays at 4:00.

* July 10: A virtual tour of UMaine's Food Science Innovation Center, which finds new ways to use Maine food products. Learn about everything from cheese pressing to blast freezing.

* Beginning July 16: Short Stories for Our Time, a book-group-style discussion of short stories. One hour per week on Thursdays at 4:00.

Programs are free, but you must register to get a Zoom link. Details are on our website: http://www.penobscotvalleyseniorcollege.org. Click "Register," then "Courses."

Friday, June 19, 2020

And now for something completely different . . .

Big announcement!

To help us keep learning through the rest of the summer, PVSC is proud to announce two new, FREE Zoom series, beginning in July:

  • The PVSC Variety Show, one-hour mini-mini-classes on hot topics: Maine's Bicentennial, German POW camps in Maine, waves and beaches, what the Bible doesn't say, and more. Wednesdays at 4:00, beginning July 8.
  • Short Stories for our Time, book-group-style discussions of stories by contemporary authors. Thursdays at 4:00, beginning July 16.
Details will appear here and on our website shortly. Meanwhile, check in on friends who may be interested but aren't computer-savvy. Perhaps you can find a way to team up with them (safely, of course). 

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Recap #3

It's almost time to stop posting these resources for learning at home and move on to something else. Like two exciting series we've put together for you: a lecture series and a short story discussion series! Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, here are a few more "best of the best" at-home learning resources:

Friday, June 12, 2020

More recap

Continuing with a few of our favorites from the long list of at-home learning suggestions:

Fastest way to know what to watch streaming:

Best local resource lists:

Thursday, June 4, 2020

At-home learning recap

This begins our "the best of the best" list, culled from well over 100 suggestions for at-home learning we've been posting since March.

NY Times free newsletters
Daily news and features in your inbox. Especially helpful: the coronoavirus newsletter. Your email program might need to train itself to recognize these as legit; at first they may appear in your junk mail folder, so be checking after you sign up.

Collins Center: performing arts listings
One of the best ways to know what available both from local musicians/performers and nationally, your trusty local Collins Center for the Arts maintains a terrific list.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

At-home learning #65

We've reached a milestone: 65 posts about ways to learn at home. The well is beginning to run dry in terms of new resources. Plus, PVSC is working on its own set of ways to learn later in the summer.

So the next few posts will be recaps of some of the most useful things we've found in our 65-day journey through these strange times. That way you don't have to scroll back forever to find something to do today.

Meanwhile, you can support local arts by getting tickets to New Surry Theatre's streaming production of "The Laramie Project," about the murder of Mathew Shepard. The Theatre calls it "a stunningly honest and provoking dive into prejudice, the complexity of our understanding of one another, community, and what we mean to each other." Actors perform from their homes.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

At-home learning #64

Streaming theater: act now!
TheAmerican Shakespeare Company has several filmed plays to stream, but the offer expires May 31. See updated versions of  "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (set in New Orleans), "The Grapes of Wrath," and "Cymbeline." Give what you can, starting at $10. We want to support the struggling arts, yes?

More streaming theater
The Goodman Theater is Chicago offers "2666," about recent Mexican history and murdered women. Free. https://www.goodmantheatre.org/watch2666

Learn about art
High-quality streaming films about art and artists come your way from Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. Small rental fee.

Shopping from home without Amazon
A list of ways to order what you need.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

At-home learning #63

Library books are back!
At least in Bangor they are. Your friendly Bangor Public Library will take your book orders and you can pick them up curbside.

While you're on the library's website, check out their "pandemic postcard" contest, the Maine Bicentennial exhibit, and more.

Go to the dogs

We're not sure what this is, but if you're a dog lover, it might be worth $5 to find out. Apparently it's a 90-minute "medley" of doggy film. Proceeds go to animal rescue.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

At-home learning #62

A potpourri of treats
Your friendly neighborhood Collins Center for the Arts has thoughtfully assembled huge menus of treats from the performing arts, from YoYo Ma and Tennessee Williams to barbershop and letter-writing (and reading). You could spend hours browsing.

Friday, May 22, 2020

At-home learning #61

Chickens and rhubarb
The UMaine System's Cooperative Extension arm has several online presentations coming up, from fiddleheads, rhubarb, and pickles to growing native plants and backyard chickens. Check out their offerings at

Free art
Food and drink in Italian Renaissance art, anyone? Women painters? Chinese landscapes? Drawing lessons? Loads of art adventures await you with a free 6-month subscription to Princeton University's art museum.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

At-home learning #60

Who would have imagined, a few weeks ago, that we'd hit our 60th day of posting these ways to learn at home?

"Lucky Grandma"
This isn't exactly learning, but it sure looks like fun! The Strand's offers the film it would be showing live if it could: "Lucky Grandma," about a Chinese elder who wins big at the casino, then has to deal with gangsters who want the money. Billed as a dark comedy. There's a ticket price; get all the info at https://www.rocklandstrand.com/event/virtual-cinema-lucky-grandma.

NT Live's play this week is a strong, dark production of that all-American classic, Tennessee Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire." Hear Stanley's famous shout, "Stella!" On YouTube beginning tonight. Search "NT Live." Warning: there's domestic abuse.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

At-home learning #59

Viola concert this Friday
Houston Symphony principal violist Joan deHovesepian plays from her home on Sunday at 8 PM only, for $10. Presumably that's 8:00 Central Daylight Time, so 9:00 here.

Fish migration in Maine May 27th
Brought to you my Maine Audubon, this one is live on the 27th at 2:00. You must register, and space is limited, so act now!

Blackbirds in the Maine woods
A UMaine graduate student presents his research on the rusty blackbird in the northern Maine woods

Ken Burns' "National Parks" series
If you missed it on TV, Maine Public Television has Ken Burns' national park series available for streaming.

At-home learning #58

Encounter Mark Twain
Two Zoom productions about Mark Twain will be aired on Thursday, the 21st. Your trusty blogger has no idea what this is like, and there isn't much information, but if you're feeling like an experiment, check it out:

Streaming theater, music, etc.
As sheltering in place drags on, more and more theater companies are putting their productions online. Some charge for their shows, as arts organizations are desperate to stay afloat without ticket sales.

Your best source of things to watch from your couch seems to be https://www.timeout.com/. It's updated each week, so keep checking back.

One particularly interesting-sounding play to consider: "Boxcar" ("Vagon") tells the story of five men who cross the border in a boxcar and must deal with a conflicted immigration officer. Available free through June 7 in Spanish with English subtitles. You will register and be given a password to view the video.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

At-home learning #57

Take a class
If you can afford it, this is a rare opportunity for big-time learning and discussion on one of the icons of our culture: The New Yorker. Cultural critic Adam Gopnik begins a lecture-discussion series on the history of the magazine this Wednesday, May 20:

Learn a language
As a recent New York Times article pointed out, what better time than now to start learning a language?

The Times offers a number of helpful suggestions. One is using a phone app. Babbel, CofeeBreak, and Memrise all offer thorough instruction at a cost. Duolingo is rated as easy and free.

Another is using flashcards, either homemade or on an app. Apps have the advantage of pronouncing the words for you.

YouTube has a language-learning channel; who knew? It's called Easy Languages. A gentleman named Luca Lampariello has made a specialty of this. A good place to start is with his website,  https://www.lucalampariello.com/youtube-learn-foreign-languages/. He also has a YouTube channel.

If you have a Times subscription, the complete article is at https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/28/travel/language-instruction-apps-television-youtube.html

Monday, May 18, 2020

At-home learning #56

Go to school
Lectures about a huge variety of topics are offered by OneDayUniversity. There's an $8/month fee, so check the sample videos to see if you want to invest.

And don't forget that you can always listen to free lectures and even take free courses on your own time at the top universities in the country. https://www.edx.org/ or https://www.coursera.org/

Lots of theater, streaming
[UPDATE] TimeOut is a great source for what's playing that you can tap into. Check it out at

Sunday, May 17, 2020

At-home learning #55

Gardening and the environment
Cooperative Extension has some webinars coming up this week that might be of interest, especially if you're a gardener. Rhubarb preservation, anyone? Invasive plant identification?


Saturday, May 16, 2020

At-home learning #54

Tour a bucket list place
There are lots of videos with views of popular tourist sites on YouTube. But if you want to learn anything, you need a guide. So look for videos with narration. You can spend happy hours searching out the best. A good example is this one, of Machu Picchu; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d09AwPp5nag. An interesting short explanation of the engineering of the Great Wall of China is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BefKbn6LisI.

"Go" to a museum (again)
We've posted links to museum virtual tours before, but this seems like a good time to revisit (haha). This is quite a compehensive set of links:

Friday, May 15, 2020

At-home learning #53

See a movie "at" The Strand (Rockland)
Each week, The Strand streams a film you'd never see in the big-box cinema. They do cost money, just as they would if you went to the actual theater ($12). Worth a try to see something special. This week: the music of New Orleans.

Cirque du Soliel in quarantine
The folks at The Strand also suggest a video by Cirque du Soliel; how do their artists get through quarantine?

There are also full-length Cirque performances on YouTube, just search their name.

Explore music at Tiny Desk concerts
NPR has had this series running for a while now. Check out some music you might not hear about otherwise. For those of us still stuck in the music of our youth, this is a good way to sample some indie-folky-rootsy-rocky stuff, along with music in some categories you've never heard of (got psych-folk?).

Thursday, May 14, 2020

At-home learning #52

Theater for for the weekend
We've mentioned these before, but they bear repeating:
  • The Folger Shakespeare Library and Theater at Harvard has a full version of Macbeth with lots of extra features: what's the deal with Mrs. Macbeth? Is there really humor in this grim tale of naked ambition and murder? Available through June. Check out a full page of goodies: https://www.folger.edu/video-macbeth-folger-theatre
  • NT Live continues its free streaming, with a new play each week. Beginning today, it's the sellout The Barbershop Chronicles, focusing on the central role barbershops play in the lives of African and Anglo-African men. It's a "heartwarming, hilarious and insightful new play that leaps from a barber shop in Peckham to Johannesburg, Harare, Kampala, Lagos and Accra over the course of a single day." Go to YouTube and search "NT Live. For upcoming productions, go to https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/nt-at-home and scroll to the bottom.

Monday, May 11, 2020

At-home learning #51

Try something new
We've said it before, but lest you grow fretful and weary, be sure to put some newness in your days. Figure out something to make with the coconut that's been sitting in your cupboard. Find a new place to walk. (Maine Trail Finder is a good resource for more adventurous outings. https://www.mainetrailfinder.com/trails.) Dig out a book you've been avoiding. Try drawing with your non-dominant hand. For that matter, try drawing at all! Figure out what all those weird apps on your phone do.

Creativity in isolation
We think our current situation is tough; imagine being in forced isolation for fifteen years. A remarkable film shows how one woman's confinement led to fascinating art. The Strand in Rockland makes this 30-minute film available to us with the password isolation. You may have to create an account in Vimeo (a platform for posting homemade or professional videos).

Friday, May 8, 2020

At-home learning #50

Fifty days and counting. We'll keep on sending you suggestions for staying sharp and engaged while sheltering at home for as long as we can come up with ideas.

More music, music, music
Here is a frequently updated source for live TV and streaming concerts, listed by date:

BDN virtual events
If you're a Bangor Daily News subscriber, there are regular online events that might interest you. Coming up on Tuesday: three area chefs show and tell. Upcoming events include such topics as pandemic and climate change, handling finances in difficult times, and nature journalism.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

At-home learning #49

Music, music, music
The Bangor Symphony continues to offer ways to listen and watch our favorite local orchestra:

A rerun of a past performance: this Sunday, May 10, at 3:00, on MaineClassical (106.1). Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann.

Wake up your ears with some big trombone sounds. The "Artists in Residence" (get it?) series currently features the low brass playing a little Mahler. Search "Bangor Symphony Orchestra" on YouTube.

New experiences
Of all people, Air B&B is offering virtual experiences that will get you out of your routine. You can visit sheep or goats, or learn to dance the Argentine tango. You can cook pasta while your chef/instructor sings opera. You can even make dumplings with the drag queens of Lisbon. There are many, many possibilities, most of them less exotic than these examples. Fees and available dates vary. Some require purchasing ingredients or supplies.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

At-home learning #48

Quarantine fatigue
It's a thing. If you're feeling restless and cranky, it's not surprising. This has gone on beyond our expectations and capacity to deal easily. But if there's anything age has taught us, it's resilience. We know the survival basics: have a schedule and a social life (at a distance), get outdoors, exercise, try something new.

Here are some interesting articles about the way people are feeling and how to cope:




And if you're scientifically inclined, this is a thorough study:

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

At-home learning #47

The next warm(ish) day, grab your lunch and lawn chair and head outdoors. Back yard picnics are great for putting a spring (ha ha) back in your step. Even a sandwich on the front porch steps can provide a change of scene. If you're feeling adventurous, head for a park where you can have plenty of distance from others.

Try some yoga
If you decide to try yoga, please be very careful! Not all yoga is for everyone, and these links have not been vetted by experts. They are labeled "for seniors," but use your own judgment. The first one might be a place to start if you have limited mobility or balance: chair yoga.




Monday, May 4, 2020

At-home learning #46

Give yourself a facial
Somewhere in a bathroom drawer, you have a peel-off mask or other form of facial stuff. Or make your own; some recipes are at https://www.thehealthy.com/beauty/face-body-care/homemade-facial-masks-recipes/. If you live with someone, get him or her to do it too. (Men like facials, too!) Take pictures of yourselves masked with foamy stuff and send them to someone who needs a laugh.

Try some brand-new operas
Philadelphia Opera is offering a short opera series in May--four world premieres of very contemporary works and one classic, The Barber of Seville. Check out the list at

Memorize something
Stretch those brain cells! A musician friend is memorizing some Bach, a few measures a day. Or a poem that makes you laugh, some helpful quotations, the state capitals? If you're feeling blah at this point in our quarantine, this may give you something to feel good about.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

At-home learning #45

Listen to the Berlin Philharmonic
Today at 1:00, there's a live concert. This isn't Zoom--it's an actual concert, in the concert hall, with a smaller orchestra and no audience. Today's program includes Mahler, Barber, and more. https://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/concert/53366
Pre-recorded concerts are also available. https://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/concerts

"Visit" some national parks
AAA has thoughtfully put together links to 10 national parks, where you can find videos and other ways to explore the parks from your couch. Go to this link and click on "Plan for visit" for each park you want to explore. https://www.northernnewengland.aaa.com/publications/travel/us-destinations/virtual-tours-of-national-parks.html?zip=04430-AAA&area=email_EPubs043020&cid=999999532904100&jid=667980

Friday, May 1, 2020

At-home learning #44

Check out digital books free!
Your friendly local library has access to Cloud Library, and you can check out e-books free. An introductory webinar is on MONDAY, May 4. Here's the info and free registration spot:

If you're not a subscriber to the weekly newsletter from The Strand Theater in Rockland, now might be a good time to get connected. Each newsletter has a set of links for a variety of at-home viewing, thinking-about, and/or listening. This week's reminded us--among other things--of the great free theater performances on NT Live (YouTube). Starting now: the fabulous Benedict Cumberbatch "Frankenstein."

In addition, there is information about

Other links, courtesy of The Strand:

Thursday, April 30, 2020

At-home learning #43

Art lessons from local teachers

The Zillman Art Museum, formerly known as the University of Maine Museum of Art--the place near the Bagel Shop--is offering weekly art classes, using everyday materials and simple methods. We're in Week 3, an origami lesson. Already online are Weeks 1 and 2, painting with coffee or tea and a very fun Picasso-style "cubist" collage. Go to YouTube and search "Zillman Art Museum." You may have to scroll down to find all three lessons.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

At-home learning #42

 Learn more about your PC and/or devices

This is the perfect time to master your iPad, smartphone, PC, or Mac. And learn about Internet fraud and other topics, too. The National Digital Equity Center is all about helping seniors get comfortable with the digital world. They have a beautiful array of courses coming up: check them out!

And if you know an elder who isn't online but might like to be, be sure to read about their free introductory tablet + hotspot + classes offer below.


Tuesday, April 28, 2020

At-home learning #41

Learn how to create an herb garden
The Wolfe's Neck Center in Freeport is offering an online workshop that will discuss "everything you need to know to begin growing and enjoying herbs in your backyard." There's a $12 fee and you need to register:

Go to the circus
* The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus is scheduled to present a show on YouTube tonight at 7:30. Search their name in YouTube.

* The new web hub CirqueConnect has a potpourri of videos, from Cirque du Soliel performances to behind-the-scenes to songs by Blue Man Group. And more.

An all-purpose streaming source:
The website TimeOut.com has a daily listing of performances available on streaming devices:

Monday, April 27, 2020

At-home learning #40

Go to the theatre on YouTube

* The Globe Theatre in London is releasing videos of selected productions free. This is a big deal; their videos have been expensive rentals or purchases before now. Plays change every two weeks. "Romeo and Juliet" is currently playing; "MacBeth" is still available, as is "Twelfth Night" with Mark Rylance as the love-hungry Olivia. Search "Globe Theatre."

* NT Live was an early and much-welcomed contributor to free streaming theater. Their terrific productions are always thought-provoking. Plays change each Thursday evening and are available for a week. Current offering: "Twelfth Night." Still available: the farce "One Man, Two Guvs," with James Corden, and "Treasure Island." Search "nt live" on YouTube.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

At-home learning #39

Celebrate tulips
A couple of video tours of Dutch tulip farms bring a ton of color into your house (well, onto your computer screen, anyway!). https://www.timeout.com/news/you-can-now-take-a-virtual-tour-of-the-netherlands-most-spectacular-tulip-garden-041420

A little closer to home, Washington State's Skagit Valley celebrates its own tulipmania:

Art and photography
My Modern Met is a site that sells a lot of products, but also has all kinds of art and photography,  at-home projects, and more.

Explore podcasts
You may or may not be into podcasts--it sometimes seems like a younger-generation phenomenon. But there's a lot of good stuff out there, from the New York Times' "1619" project about the origins and effects of slavery to This American Life to country music and food and more. The "Timeout" website has a nice starter list:

Saturday, April 25, 2020

At-home learning #38

Covid-19 and you
You're probably listening to updates and watching the news with your usual eagle eye. But if you're feeling the need for some answers or more in-depth information about the virus or quarantine, here are a few places to start.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has a good set of simple facts and guidelines:

As does the National Council on Aging:

AARP has all kinds of information, from basic facts to advocacy for various proposals:

Thursday, April 23, 2020

At-home learning #37

More British TV
We've already mentioned Marquee TV. There's also Acorn, which, like Marquee, offers a free 30-day trial. You can binge-watch a lot in a month!

Want $500?
that's the first prize in The Collins Center's talent contest. Because why not? Check out the details at

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

At-home learning #36

"Attend" the Bangor Symphony Orchestra
Your local BSO has begun a music video series on YouTube. With great quarantine humor, they're calling it "Artists in Residence," because the musicians are playing from home. Check out the first in this series at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shPEUDq1K5U

And you can "go to the concert" as usual--3:00 on Sundays--by radio. For information about that, other BSO videos, and a nifty set of at-home musical activities, check out the new page:

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

At-home learning #35

It's Shakespeare's birthday April 23rd!
The Folger Shakespeare Library at Harvard makes lots of suggestions for Shakespeare fun at home. Check out these birthday specials:
The Globe Theatre in London is also making "Hamlet" available for free on YouTube. Bonus: you get to see the theater, as it existed in Shakespeare's time. A 2013 version of "Macbeth" is also on offer. Search "Globe Theatre" on YouTube.

Monday, April 20, 2020

At-home learning #34

Don't miss this!

Our very own Collins Center for the Arts has launched a website with a fabulous array of links to performances and theater. Everything from a behind-the-scenes tour of the Center to terrific lists of  what you can watch and listen to online. And don't miss Itzahk Perlman showing "the art of the bow." That's bow as bowing to the audience, not bowing the violin.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

At-home learning #33

Create a time capsule/memoir/scrapbook

Future generations are going to ask "What was it like during the pandemic?" much the way we asked our parents or grandparents what the Great Depression or World War II era was like. We're living one of the most significant events of our lifetime--maybe the most significant--so we should be making a record of it. You could do any or all of these things, and more:
  • Make a pandemic scrapbook. 
  • Take pictures of yourself with your mask on.
  • Jot down things that surprise you about isolation.
  • Save a few key newspaper articles.
  • List the things you've done this week.
  • Write down a few reflections: how are you feeling about all this? do your feelings change from day to day? what are the challenges of isolation?
  • If you're computer-savvy, make an collection of your favorite pandemic videos.
  • Collect a few choice sayings or experiences of family members. Or make them all write something about what lockdown is like for them. After all, you're probably the family matriarch or patriarch, so you're a natural as the organizer of the family archive.
  • Take pictures in your neighborhood or downtown that show what things are like. Is the playground barricaded? Is there chalk art on the streets and sidewalks? Have their been bear hunts or birthday parades, or any of the other things people are doing to keep the kiddos' spirits up? Do any of the stores have fun or poignant messages on their doors?

Saturday, April 18, 2020

At-home learning #32

Online learning from other Senior Colleges
The current issue of the Maine Senior College Network newsletter lists a bunch of online learning opportunities. Check them out! Some courses have already started, but there will be more coming along in mid-May. We'll keep an eye out.

Friday, April 17, 2020

At-home learning #31

Wow. This is our 31st "at-home learning." Who would have thought a month ago that we'd still be posting daily about how to keep the brain chugging along while definitely getting a little tired of our own four walls? We hope your spirits aren't sagging and that you're finding your own new ways to learn and stay entertained while we slog through quarantine. Let us know if we can help you.

Do some art
* Folks are continuing to re-create famous art works at home and post them to social media. But you don't have to be on those sites to see their creations: 

* Some UK artists have come together to create a downloadable activity book. It's aimed mostly at children, but so what? We're kids at heart, yes?

Watch Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals free
The legendary producer has created a YouTube channel and will offer his musicals free. Search YouTube for "The Show Must Go On." Important note: these are at set times: Fridays at 2 PM EDT.

Join a choir
You've seen those Zoom musical events where musicians or singers somehow come together on Zoom to sing/play in unison? You can do it too! Try Sofa Singers:

Find something new to read
Running out of books? There's a vast selection of downloadable ebooks at https://openlibrary.org/

Thursday, April 16, 2020

At-home learning #30

Art and culture

What better time than this to explore something a little "highbrow" entertainment? Indulge in or try out some theater, dance, or opera with free streaming. Here are a few.

* You're probably already aware of the Metropolitan Opera's nightly broadcasts, but if not, check them out: https://www.metopera.org/

* The UK's National Theater offers plays that change every week. Coming up: "Treasure Island."

* Royal Opera at Home offers Friday night performances of opera and dance: https://www.roh.org.uk/streaming

* Marquee TV has all kinds of performances from the UK, from Shakespeare to Cinderella. Free 30-day trial at https://www.marquee.tv/

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

At-home learning #29

BEGINNING TODAY! Staying healthy, especially during Covid-19.
Chats with experts have been set up by the University of Maine Center on Aging. These chats are designed for seniors, to answer questions about the virus and how to stay safe and healthy. \
They're on Wednesdays from 11:00-12:00 via Zoom.
Today's session will focus on general health and wellness, presented by Kelley Strout of the UM School of Nursing.

To get the Zoom link, email Prof. Strout: kelley.morris@maine.edu, or call 262-7925. You can participate by phone as well as by Zoom.

More information, and the recordings, if you miss a session, are at

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

At-home learning #28

Finding laughter and joy
What brings you bliss? We hope you're finding ways to do your favorite things, even if some of them, like travel, are not possible right now.

But when the well runs dry, we may need new inspirations. Here's a happy story about a letter-writing project:

* Walk with a purpose. Give yourself themes for all those walks you take. Spot as many interesting doorways as you can. See how many different ways kids are amusing themselves outdoors. Spot every crocus, struggling tulip or daffodil, bit of greening grass. Count the potholes. (OK, we're reaching here, but whatever works!)

* If you haven't yet come across John Krasinski's "Some Good News" broadcasts, be sure to check them out. Search "some good news" on YouTube. In fact, the search results will give you lots of ways to find the cheery out there in the world.

* Write a letter to someone you haven't seen for decades. Yes, a real letter with an envelope and stamp.

* Do something you haven't done for a very long time but liked. A particular exercise routine? Music you haven't listened to in forever? Fudge-making? Coloring? There are dozens of possibilities. Have fun!

Monday, April 13, 2020

At-home learning #27

How are you doing? We're a month into this thing and for sure the novelty has worn off! Don't forget to check in with folks who may be feeling especially isolated.

And if you're feeling down now and then yourself, know that there are good reasons for that. For an interesting discussion of the feelings that may be rolling around in your head and some ways to calm them, try this:

It may take a little more work now than it usually does to maintain emotional well-being. Here are some helps:

Saturday, April 11, 2020

At-home learning #26

Get in touch with nature
As mentioned in the email letter that just came out from PVSC, Maine Audubon has lots of suggestions for nature activities. They're geared for families, but we're young at heart, so give these a try. Note that, much like this blog, they're updated daily.

More movies
This list of movies to stream is called "best literary adaptations," which sounds snooty and academic. But never fear. It just means "movies and TV shows that were based on books." Many of these will appeal more to younger viewers (like middle-aged folks), but give it a look.