Winter in Sioux Falls can be a bit snowy and cold, but, with the help of mind-expanding OLLI classes, the days fly by. In the first week alone, I learned about senior resources in Sioux Falls; a gal here has started a business where she will help you plan the retrofit of your house to adapt to your aging needs, and she will hire and oversee contractors to do the work.

In a jam-data-packed presentation by a researcher and scholar of immigration facts vs myths, I became aware that much of what I hear on TV is myth. I learned to examine my own attitudes toward persons different from me. Walking out of that class, several of us commented that we thought our politicians and media hosts should have attended. So, I learned that unless we have hard data from original sources, we should just keep our mouths shut.

Then there was a long discussion class on transparency (or lack thereof) in our city government. It’s so easy to criticize, but there are ways to get involved—attend city council sessions, be willing to pay for investigative reporters which means being willing to pay for newspapers—so we are not caught unawares when something pops up we don’t like. Did you know that something that sounds so nice—like private and public partnerships—can be nightmares for those negotiating contracts?

Now getting to the pig brains.  I took a class in exploring the brain. I thought I’d sit in a comfortable auditorium and watch a Power Point slide show. Maybe the presenter would pass a plastic mold of the brain around, and we could rotate it in our hands to discover the different sections. But no, we were told to hang up our coats, don lab coats, and find a chair in a lab. Then pig brains were passed out. Four of us shared a pig brain; one gal took one look and excused herself. We had a dozen or so toothpicks with parts of the brain identified on them, and once we did a midsagittal cut of the brain, we had to stab the toothpicks into the right place. There was a folder with pictures to guide us. Since I was a nurse, the two others volunteered me to make the cut (saw the brain in half), and one of them volunteered to do the stabbing. What a blast!

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And, finally, the snowshoes. I’ve never snowshoed, so I volunteered to be the attendance taker to make sure I’d get in the class. (There are class limits.) On a 25-degree day, I joined nine others to showshoe one and a half miles around a lake. Tricky! One woman toppled over, and then couldn’t get up. I was mortified I would do the same. I almost turned around at the start of the walk, but I just had to scratch this off my bucket list. I succeeded!

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Thank you, OLLI, for launching my winter!