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 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!).

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

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

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:

* 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:

* Marquee TV has all kinds of performances from the UK, from Shakespeare to Cinderella. Free 30-day trial at

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:, 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.

Friday, April 10, 2020

At-home learning #25

Lists of lists
Besides checking in here regularly, you may find it helpful to bookmark a couple of other sites that compile online resources.

The New York Times has helpfully collected a huge list of streaming lectures, concerts, readings, and performances of all sorts.

Our own Strand Theater in Rockland has a weekly newsletter, jauntily called "Strand-ed," listing video performances, live and otherwise. Go to their website and look for the email sign at the top of the page. Note that some of the films require buying tickets.

Art, weird and/or wonderful
Red River Paper sells, well, paper. They're currently providing links to a select list of painters, photographers, and graphic designers who use their stuff.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

At-home learning #24

If you have a library card,
there's a world of wonder at your fingertips. Check your library's website for products and services you may not have expected, such as access to online magazines and journals, music, maybe even movies.

For example, the Bangor Public Library has an arrangement with the UMaine System that provides access to many subscription services you would normally pay for. Audio books with no wait list, anyone? Acorn TV for British films? music lessons? Great Courses? Log in with your library card to get started:

And don't forget that your library doubtless has access to the fabulous local and Maine photo collection. Look for Digital Commons in the menu.

Watch a documentary
Here's a useful list of documentaries available on various streaming services:

And here's another, gigantic list:

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

At-home learning #23

Easter concert
Famed tenor Andrea Bocelli will do a live streaming Easter concert on his YouTube channel. 1:00 PM Sunday.

Make something
Here's a collection of little projects that can amuse you, and you might even learn something!
  • Fill your windows with paper flower cut-outs. If you're not crafty, Google "flower cut-outs" for printable images.
  • On the other hand, if you are crafty, 3D paper flowers might be fun. Again, Google is your friend for lots of instructions; search "paper flowers." While you have Google open, check out "paper cutting" for another direction to go.
  • Bake something new. 
  • Harvest the shoots on your house plants and pot them up for new plants.
  • Find some twigs with fat buds and put them in a vase with water for spring indoors.
  • Write a letter to a long-lost friend. Or send some cards to a nearby nursing home for distribution.
  • Try hand-lettering, using guides available at
  • Make a banner to celebrate spring.
  • Most of us are tired of winter, but if you miss it (a little bit), make paper snowflakes. Martha shows you how:

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

At-home learning #22

A milestone
Suddenly, we've begun our third week of daily ideas for learning and staying sane at home. And we're running out of ideas. Please send us some!

Meanwhile, here are a few more:

Shoot some stuff
You're probably walking a lot. Why not tote your phone or camera along and take some shots? Sure, it's still sort of winter and beauty doesn't exactly leap out at us. But there are things to see if we try. So give yourself themes: signs of spring, say. Or architectural details on buildings. Or blue things. Or shadows,  leaves, dogs, bark, round things, weeds, whatever.

One more museum tour:
New York's venerable Metropolitan Museum of Art:

Monday, April 6, 2020

At-home learning #21

OK, it's not exactly classroom-type learning, but figuring out how to live in quarantine is a kind of learning, right? So TV series that give us glimpses of other lands sort of counts as travel knowledge. The New York Times has provided a list of shows that do just that. They aren't necessarily travel shows, but the Times assures us that they all have ample scenery.

Here are the Times' picks of shows streaming on the most common subscription services, Netflix and Amazon Prime:

Somebody Feed Phil (food travel worldwide) - Netflix
Our Planet (David Attenborough tours world beauty spots with an emphasis on ecosystems) - Netflix
Sense8 ("connects 8 strangers in 8 cities with each others' lives and worlds.") - Netflix
The Night Manager (spy saga in brilliant locations) - Amazon Prime
Occupied (Scandinavian spy thriller) - Netflix
Babylon Berlin (German noir with lots of scenery) - Netflix
Call My Agent! (Paris show-biz satire) - Netflix
Giri/Haji (detectives working nighttime London and Tokyo) - Netflix
Outlander (famous 18th Century Scottish saga) - Netflix
Fortitude (mystery/thriller set in Iceland and Norway) - Amazon Prime

Sunday, April 5, 2020

At-home learning #20

Learning photography skills
Nikon is making its streaming classes available for free:

Maine Bicentennial art
Two Portland galleries have online exhibits celebrating Maine becoming a state:

Friday, April 3, 2020

At-home learning #19

National Theatre Live from your couch!
God bless them, the National Theatre in the UK has made its current season available on YouTube for free. Many of us have enjoyed their performances at the Collins Center.

This week: James Corden in "One Man, Two Guvnors." Note that some performances are at fixed times.

Go to, or go to YouTube and search nt live.

Because why not?
Some people find coloring a soothing way to take your mind off things. Dover Books has a lot of coloring books to order, as well as countless cheap books on subjects of all sorts, including some good craft ideas; sign up for their newsletter if you're interested in samples. Currently they have some downloadable coloring pages:

Thursday, April 2, 2020

At-home learning #18

Do or view some quarantine art
Museums like the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the Getty in L.A. asked people to re-create famous art works with what they have at home. The results are hilarious. Create your own art work, or just enjoy others' brainstorms:

Read quarantine classics
"It was about the Beginning of September 1664 that I, among the Rest of my Neighbours, heard in ordinary Discourse, that the Plague was return'd again in Holland." So begins Daniel Defoe's A Journal of the Plague Year," available free on the Gutenberg site:

Or dip into that famous classic, Samuel Pepys' diary. Extracts from the plague year 1665 are at

A Google search for "Pepys plague" turns up a lot more; here are a couple of ways to get started:

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

At-home learning #17

Cook something new
The amazing New York Times Cooking staff has made a large supply of recipes available free. Many of them are designed for using what you already have.

Read articles related to the pandemic
Don't be put of by the word "literary" in the title. There's a wide variety of interesting material, from what's it's like to be stuck in the house with 12-year-old twins to Dolly Parton reading bedtime stories:

More virtual tours:

Carlsbad Caverns:

The Great Wall of China: