This winter we have spent time visiting relatives, in and out of the hospital, who have had surgery. It all turned out OK. I do not have “white coat syndrome” which is fear of medical situations. However, when you catch your breath, it is nice to have something to unwind and take your mind off the slicing and dicing. If it ain’t on the cooking network, I don’t want to hear about it.

Bill, my husband and fellow student from way back at UNM in 1966, brought home a booklet of community college classes. For years we would take classes together. It was always the same, I’d take the notes and he would borrow them. Nothing has changed. I still have to take notes. The big difference in these classes is that you need to be 55 or older to enroll. Good luck for us we are WAY past 55. The booklet is called OLLI, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. It is part of UNM Continuing Education.

As a retired teacher, it was mandatory that when you had time off in the summer you were required to take one or two classes to keep your certification. That suited me fine because I loved learning, and they did not stop you from taking fun classes. I loved school, but my little sister, Maggie, who was 14 years younger than I, hated school. She was brilliant in math and communication, but hated to read for leisure. She recently had successful surgery and called when she got home. As the oldest maybe I spoiled her a little, OK, a lot. She called to give me a grub hub order for me to cook and deliver. As I made a list of food I would soon produce, Maggie asked what Bill and I were up to that morning. “We are taking a class in geology of the Pacific Islands,” was the reply. “What on Earth for? Was it court ordered?” Intense laughter followed. “Keep it up Maggie, and there will be no fudge or spinach dip!”

UNM’s Continuing Education program has classes in all fields, from History, Travel and Culture, to Science and Technology or Performing Arts. For those who did not like school, yet question the how or why of a topic, it is perfect. You don’t take notes unless you want, the fees are small, and YOU TAKE NO TEST! Often people have a great fear of that.

Intelligence is not really a matter of what you get on a test, and there are all different ways to learn. I saw that when I taught at Estancia High School years ago.

If you ever gave up plastic straws to save whales, imagine that you can see the ocean in New Mexico by going on a field trip to the Sandias to see and hold seashells from our ocean of millions of years ago. OK, maybe we are a little late to save our ocean friends from plastic, but it is bad…bad. So, don’t drop any plastic in the Sandias, everything comes back.

When you join OLLI, you need to be 55 or older. The cost is $20 per person, but it comes off the cost of your first class. And with membership you not only get to choose great classes, you get free parking, free book check out at the four libraries at UNM. It also gets you a discount to events at Popejoy Hall and all events at Keller Hall. Finally, if you take a class on Celtic women or the real Zorro, you can then go across the street and get 10% off at Amore Neapolitian Pizzeria.

Therefore if you have ever wondered what the difference is between the Byzantine or Persian Empires, wonder no more. The classes are waiting for you at UNM Continuing Education. You can look it up online or give them a call. I took the food to Maggie, and while she ate informed her about the volcanos that formed the Hawaiian island chain. I did not leave anything out. I explained how the Big Island, Hawaii is still growing with a new island only 3,000 feet below; still in the water. She was thrilled. She tossed a carrot at me. She likes rabbits. Roaring Mouse, looking up cheese making, out.