Building a Salad Table

By Marty Charbonneau

Salad Table building

A beautiful day in the OLLI garden gazebo saw a dozen work-glove-clad members gathered around a table of building materials and tools. Two hours later, they had built a salad table—with a whole lot of assistance from the Pine Belt Master Gardeners, Salad Table volunteers. The Master Gardener Association is a volunteer branch of Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Facilitator Paul Cavanaugh and his team, David Restom, Don Spence and Carl Peterson, set up a work table with pre-cut boards. OLLI members were then instructed on measurements and placements of screws and staples for the salad table assembly. Using power tools, especially the nail gun, was a “first” for some. It was obvious the team was well prepared for setting up this building project for novices!

The tables are raised beds for gardening and offer a way for all people, including those with limited mobility, to have the joy of a garden. As the name implies, the tables are used to grow lettuces, herbs, and most any shallow-rooted plants. Rough-hewn cypress is used to construct the frame because it is a rot-resistant wood. Once the basic box is completed, fiberglass screen and hardware cloth are stapled in place on the bottom of the table. Legs are constructed at either a comfortable standing or wheel chair-access height and are attached after the frame is finished. The completed salad box, once in a permanent setting, is filled with lightweight potting soil mix. Paul recommends a mix distributed by AGRI-AFC in Hattiesburg.

The table the class helped to construct was the 530th one built by the Master Gardeners. Tables are placed at no cost in assisted living centers, community centers, schools, Veteran Administration hospitals, veterans' organizations and non-profit groups. Anyone can contribute to this cause by buying a table for $90. For more information, contact pinebeltmastergardeners@gmail.com. Profits from sales go toward building supplies for donated tables.

The class was over before a second table that was started for donation could be completed. Paul passed out detailed instructions for making a table, but there was more excitement among the class on buying one—or winning one. With great anticipation, there was a drawing for the just finished salad table. And the winner—an excited Sue Stevens!




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How to Speak Poem-ese

By Dallas Gorbett

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You know that feeling when you're with a creative person and they're doing it—creating? It doesn't matter if he or she is a painter, carpenter, mechanic, child, singer or poet. You just have to marvel. Where does it come from? How can she see the world I'm seeing, hear the words I'm hearing and make that mental leap to reach just the right color, just the right word?

If you were in Dr. Angela Ball's seminar Speaking Your Life in Poems, you knew you were in the presence of that kind of creative force. The OLLI course catalog blurb on Angela's seminar suggested members bring a short life story to turn into a poem. As Angela most likely knew, each of the participants could not resist going ahead and preparing poems about life experiences. After hearing a newly minted poem one time, she was able to say, “That was good, but what if you broke the poem's line after 'hope' instead of 'okay'? See how it improves the tension? What if you replaced 'improved diet' with a line that describes the taste and pleasure of eating a strawberry?” One of her other gifts was to point out that a poem can be improved by leaving something unsaid and letting the reader complete the thought.

She also introduced us to villanelle poetry, a very structured type of poem, and explained that unstructured prose poetry is still being defined by poets even as they write it. Her enjoyment of the many types of poetry, rhyming or not, structured or free verse, was obvious. She believes a poem should say something; it should take the reader someplace. And using concrete interactions with the senses is one of the better ways to do so.

Her published books of poetry—sixth one coming out this year—show she not only loves the creating process but is very good at it. When she comes back to OLLI, take the opportunity to be creativity inspired.




Marsha Hester, Librarian

By Nanci Youngblood

Marsha Hester

Entering one of her first OLLI classes, avid reader and former librarian Marsha Hester noticed a book exchange table in the hallway. She planned to look over the books when class was over. However, to her dismay, by the end of class the tables had been cleared and the books were no more. At that time a dream was born. Who knew that notion would be realized to a greater extent than even Marsha envisioned?

Born in Illinois and a graduate of the Illinois State Teachers College with a history education major, Marsha learned there was a severe shortage of white teachers at predominantly black schools in the Mississippi Delta. Soon Marsha found herself teaching seventh and eighth grade social studies there—a position she held for three years before migrating to Hattiesburg.

Marsha has nothing negative to say about her teaching tenure in the Delta, but when she arrived in Hattiesburg, “It was heaven on earth,” she says. Marsha taught at several Hattiesburg Public Schools and enjoyed excellent relationships with other teachers and administrators during the anxious time of early integration. A favorite principal, Billy Rogers, wrote notes of encouragement to his faculty members—notes of affirmation which Marsha still has today.

While teaching in Hattiesburg and raising her two sons, Ben and Seth, she was active in PTA and became the unofficial book sales fundraiser at their schools. She was an active member of Parents in Support of Public Schools. Somehow Marsha found time to pursue a master's degree in library science at Southern Miss which soon led to her employment at Hattiesburg High School as school librarian until retirement in 2014.

Soon after retiring Marsha joined OLLI, where she proved, “You can take the librarian out of the library, but you cannot take the library out of the librarian!” Having missed the opportunity to participate in the temporary OLLI book exchange, caused Marsha to explore other possibilities. With the help of a like-minded friends, Pam Kraft and Marti Charbonneau, and the “200% support” (to quote Marsha) of Director, Brett Harris, a permanent OLLI book exchange was begun. Her own baskets held the first books; when the baskets weren't enough, a few spare shelves were found. Additional bookcases appeared, and soon a bona fide official OLLI Book Exchange was formed.

Marsha was not interested in cataloging or checking out—the parts of a librarian's duties she did not enjoy. The “take a book'bring a book” procedure already established was continued on a permanent basis and has become a resounding success.

In addition to being the unofficial OLLI librarian, Marsha chairs the curriculum committee. She and her committee appreciate receiving names of potential facilitators and class and seminar topics.

In her “spare” time, Marsha helps with two beautiful grandchildren who live on the Mississippi coast. Her face lights up when she shows pictures of Corrine and Travis.

Marsha Hester—energizer bunny! How do you do it all? OLLI thanks you for your contribution to lifelong learning.




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New Light on the Gospels

By Vivien Carver

Gospels Class

“Wow!” “Fantastic!” “Thought provoking!” These were the words class members used to describe Dr. Amy Slagle's class The Gospels and the Origins of Christianity. Dr. Slagle's “knowledge and enthusiasm for her subject made this class so interesting,” said Annie Richerson, a class member. Another participant, Ellen Davies, said, “This class makes the Bible come alive.”

An overview of life in the first century was given from a historical and archeological perspective. Within this context, the Gospel writers, target audiences and content were examined. For example, the writer's perception of the birth of Jesus was compared in each Gospel. Although many class members had studied the Gospels for years, the information presented was from a new perspective. In addition, other first-century Christian materials were included in the discussion. Next the historical examination of the Gospels was compared with Christian tradition. This comparison highlighted differences between the two generating questions and insightful discussions. Many class members reflected on these discussions long after the class ended.

For members seeking to look at the Gospels in a new light, this is a great class. Dr. Amy Slagle, Associate Professor of Religion at Southern Miss, regularly teaches the popular New Testament and world religion classes at OLLI.




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