March 9, 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — ccassello @ 1:28 am

This is a story I read at the Goodman Theater’s GeNarrations program based on their play How to Catch Creation. The theme was creativity.

Clowning Around

Missy Chrissy was created in 2011. She’s been a calendar girl since 2013, posing with her clown friends in pictures in the Senior Calendar of the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services.

The Chicago Senior Clown Troupe began in 2006 when Joyce Gallagher, now Executive Director of the Chicago Area Plan on Aging, began a class to teach clowning at the Renaissance Court Senior Center. The purpose of the class is described in their mission statement as “To learn how to be a clown – to explore all the skills needed and then go out and perform with the Chicago Senior Clown Troupe in Chicago area events and in nursing homes and retirement centers.”

And that is what we do, no more than twice a month, mostly in the Spring and Summer. If you’ve ever been to Senior Fest, you should have seen at least one of the troupe walking around among the crowd doing whatever we do. Missy Chrissy often has puppets, either a big, red fluffy animal of some kind, marionette, one of the other clowns gave her, or hand puppets. Some of those I had since my childhood.

We posed for many pictures at Senior Fest in Millennium Park, either by ourselves or with our fans and pictures of us have probably been shared all around the world because some of those taking the pictures are tourists from other countries. As a song says, “All the world loves a clown.”

We once had a pretty active group of about 10 clowns, that was the most I counted in one photo of us at one event, there were others who came to class but did not go with us to gigs. We had a father and son and the father was 90 years old.Those people all dropped out and only one clown and myself are left of that bunch. Now we are growing a new troupe and have six regulars who have gone out to perform and a couple of others who have been coming to the class but not joined us on a gig yet.

It was suggested by Joyce and our clown teacher, Karen Hoyer, that we create a clown identify for ourselves, such as Bozo and Ronald McDonald, but only a few of our former members did that. Now we have Lovey, a hippie clown, Pickle Puss, a very girly clown, and Salty, a sailor friend, or relative, of Popeye’s. They dress in pretty much the same costume every time they go out. Missy Chrissy was a gypsy fortune teller, but since we seldom do a fortune telling skit and she gets bored wearing the same clothes, she creates new outfits for every gig. The main part of the costume will stay the same and change with the seasons, but some little item will be different each time. She has many silly glasses and several wigs. A couple of the wigs she bought last Halloween and has not worn yet, so the next time you see her, she may be in one of them.

The main parts of the costumes she wears are always something multi-colored, some items of outdated clothing she had not thrown away and some she has purchased. She is always looking for inexpensive, colorful clothing items she feels will make good costumes and bought the wigs on sale. The silly glasses and other accessories she uses come from dollar stores. You don’t need to spend a lot of money getting professional clown clothes.

If you have ever considered being a clown, you are welcome to come to our classes. As I told you Missy Chrissy is a calendar girl and I have her most recent picture with me. If you join the class and come with us to Senior Fest this year, maybe you will be in the next picture.

December 14, 2018

Volunteer to Help Animals

Filed under: Uncategorized — ccassello @ 8:17 pm

If you love animals but are not able to care for one, or live in a facility which won’t allow you to own one, consider volunteering at an animal shelter. I work in the cat adoption room at Chicago Animal Care and Control and I get to play with and pet some very lovely cats, which they say lowers blood pressure. If you are a dog person, you can take dogs out for walks and play with them outside, or teach them basic commands like sit, stay and heel, which will make it easier for them to be adopted. 

I have heard and/or read that grandparents like the fact that they are able to interact with their grandchildren but don’t have to live with them and working with animals at a shelter would be similar. You get the benefit being with them provides both of you, but the animal does not have to come home with you.

If you can have animals, but don’t want to commit to one for a lifetime, (theirs or yours) please think of fostering. While it may be hard to say good-bye to those you become attached to, you will prepare them to be better housemates and can provide potential adopters with valuable information about the animal’s personality and behavior.

December 9, 2018

GeNarrations 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — ccassello @ 10:06 pm

I have signed up again for the GeNarrations writing workshop. Beginning January 15, I will be writing on a theme assigned by our Goodman writing coach/instructor on a theme from the play How to Catch Creation. That is the production the Goodman will be presenting during the weeks of our class.

If anyone think they would be interested in joining, classes that meet at the Alice Center at the Goodman Theater there are 3 options:

Tuesday mornings from 10-12;  Thursday afternoon from 1:30-3:30 or Thursday late afternoon from 3:30 to 6:30.

Contact Julie Ganey at

If you are in another part of the city, go online and look up the program or contact your local Chicago Department of Aging center to see if they offer the class or where they have one  nearest to your location. It is free and a great way for seniors to jog their memories and meet new friends. I will be blogging more about this later and keep you updated on my progress through the classes.

This was me at one our our first readings.


December 5, 2018


Filed under: Uncategorized — ccassello @ 1:03 am

I finally received two contributor copies of The Clarion Call No. 4 Fairy Tale Riot. My poem story The Road is in it. That is a revision of the one in my eBook THE HUNTER AND THE DEER. More such poem stories are in my second book THE SALTY PRINCE. They can be bought on Book Rix or Amazon. TYLER AND THE ATOMIC COLD is a picture book sold only through Amazon on their Kindle Direct Publishing program.

November 17, 2018

The Item in the Suitcase

Filed under: My Writing Experiences — ccassello @ 12:19 am

I just read the story I wrote for the GeNarrations program at our local performance today. This is a 7 week class in which writing coaches from the Goodman Theater work with senior citizens (and I think some non seniors too now) at various centers around the city to help us write stories from our lives that relate in some way to the play they are showing and we get to see the play. The program is free and so is our ticket to the play.

After we write our stories, we read them to an audience of other writers from the other classes the instructor teaches (Julie Ganey has three now) and guests we invite. Then we pick one from each class to represent our group at a citywide performance in which members of all of the locations are in attendance.

The play this session was A Lady in Denmark and the theme was about music and memories because in the one woman show, she relates how music played an important role in her life and the things she remembers when she hears certain songs, singers, etc. Billie Holiday was an important person she remembered being a fan of and getting to meet in person.

I called my story The Item in the Suitcase to give it a little suspenseful beginning. Of course my group had heard my draft as we wrote our stories, so it was no surprise to them. I got several compliments after the program ended and one person requested a copy of it to send to a relative. I can post it, if I get comments asking me to do so. If you would like to read it, let me know.

June 15, 2018

More Crafts

Filed under: Uncategorized — ccassello @ 8:49 am

Here are the latest craft projects I did in the course at Renaissance Court.






June 2, 2018

Publishing Successes

Filed under: Uncategorized — ccassello @ 10:09 am

I have not been updating this blog because it does not look as if people read it, but I do want to share some successes I have had. I wrote song lyrics and had one published in Scene & Heard Journal. It went online on February 15, I think. It was for a Valentine theme contest but they were late posting.

Agorist Writers Workshop accepted a story poem of mine, THE ROAD, for the 4th volume of Clarion Call which will be out (in print) in July. This issue is based on fairytales and folklore, but with twists.

March 7, 2018


Filed under: Uncategorized — ccassello @ 10:39 pm

I have always liked to learn new artistic and crafty projects. I seldom stick with one long enough to become really good at them, but I like to dabble in a variety of things. When I found out the library branch I go to had craft lessons and was doing one I had not tried, I went to it. This was my first coiled basket. The pattern has a lot of mistakes but I think it is pretty good considering this was my first try at it. What I like best about classes like this at the library and the ones I have been in at our senior center is that there is no charge for them and they provide the material as well. So, if you are retired or unemployed and want a fun way to spend some time and meet new people, see what your senior center or library, or both have to offer. You will be amazed at what you can do.


March 2, 2018

Popularity Prejudice

Filed under: Uncategorized — ccassello @ 11:51 pm

Today, I read a story from my life that I wrote for the GeNarrations program Goodman Theater began with senior centers. A writing coach meets with us and helps us come up with stories from our lives which fit the theme of the play they are showing. We then perform them, first for our immediate groups, (two meet at Goodman during weekdays under the direction of Julie Ganey). From them, we vote on one to represent our group in a citywide reading, at which all of the centers around the city who have this program take part. When Goodman began this program, it was tried only at Renaissance Court and we all read.

As the program expanded into more centers, we were voting on two people to represent each group. But now, it has grown so much they can only take one from each group. It is really interesting to hear all of the stories. We learn many things about each other that we  may never have gotten to know in simply having conversations with them. These are things one usually only tells closest friends and it takes many years to develop that kind of friendship. At our age, we may not have enough time left to make those kinds of intimate friends anymore. This speeds up the process.

The theme for this session was about enemies and prejudices we experienced in our lives. I shared how I used to avoid popular, successful people, so I never learned how to benefit from “networking.” It is almost impossible to advance in a career or job without having that skill. As they say, “It is not what you know, but who you know.” That is still true today. I have attached a picture of me reading at what I think was my first GeNarrations program.Me Reading my story at The Best Years of Our Lives Peogram on Dec. 4, 2010



February 19, 2018


Filed under: Uncategorized — ccassello @ 1:13 am

This the idea behind this blog expressed in a poem I wrote.

It’s better late than never
To fulfill your childhood dreams.
Which appear to take forever,
But are not the way they seem.
It’s better late than never,
To show that you are clever.
Wisdom comes in stages
That last throughout the ages.
It’s better late than never
To pull another lever,
In the lifelong game of chance.
Quit living in a trance.
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