Staying Connected

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Staying Connected is a column of ideas, entertainment and humor to help individuals and families fill hours of downtime and stay connected with the outside world. Things may be loosening up a bit, but many entertainment venues and seasonal activities remain closed, postponed or canceled. In today’s column, you can take a tour of one of Indiana’s historic sites, discover a new author with an adult storytelling podcast, enjoy the creativity of a local music teacher and peek into the imaginative minds of two artists.

Take a tour of the Coffin House

Although the Levi and Catharine Coffin State Historic Site is just an hour east and a jog north from U.S. 40, it remains closed for the time being due to COVID-19. Nevertheless, a comprehensive series of video tours is available at the site’s Facebook page (facebook.com/LeviCoffinHouse) where visitors can tour the upstairs, downstairs and the basement of the 1839 residence, as well as specific items in the home. Levi and Catharine Coffin were Quakers, and therefore anti-slavery Abolitionists, during the Civil War era. As conductors on the Underground Railroad, the couple assisted more than 1,000 runaway slaves to freedom as they passed through and often hid in secret areas of the house.

Stories for adults from that Reading Rainbow guy

In past editions of “Staying Connected,” we’ve previewed celebrities such as Dolly Parton and Betty White, who have read story books aloud online for children. This week, I stumbled across a podcast from Levar Burton (host of “Reading Rainbow” from 1983 through 2006; Jordi on “Star Trek: the Next Generation from 1987 through 2004). Although “Reading Rainbow” was a children’s show, Burton is definitely not reading children’s books, but short stories from well-known and contemporary authors such as Kurt Vonnegut, Toni Morrison and Michael Chabon. The stories range in length from 40 to 55 minutes. If you’re looking for something to listen to while out in the garden or waiting by the window for the mail, check it out at levarburtonpodcast.com/. You just might find a new favorite author.

Too much time on your hands?

Follow the lead of “Object Arranger” Adam Hillman as he organizes household objects, such as crayons, matches, sandwich cookies and cotton swabs into intricate and somehow satisfying designs. The short video includes a musical accompaniment and subtitles that annoyingly block the images, but you’ll get the idea. Which is your favorite? My is undoubtedly the fruit loops floating in a bowl of milk. Is it art or not? Visit facebook.com/mindanaomirror/videos/400840910616747 to decide.

Still life with Skeletor

Continuing with the theme of “too much time on your hands,” we visit the online art exhibit of David Irvine, a Canadian-born artist who has made a practice of purchasing garage sale art and painting pop culture icons into the scene. For example, a lovely country garden landscape and cottage scene includes a Star Wars Stormtrooper astride a riding lawn mower with Darth Vader supervising near the fence. Or a brook meandering through autumn-leaved trees with Skeletor, He-Man and Orko floating downstream in a teacup and saucer. Spiderman fly fishing in the mountains. These and more can be found at sadanduseless.com/flea-market-art-gallery/.

‘Safety Dance’ COVID-style

New Palestine Intermediate School music teacher Kathryn Ray has done it again — this time, involving her two kiddos in a lip-sync music video to Men Without Hats’ “Safety Dance.” It’s totally “gotta dance” time, and don’t forget to wash your hands! Go to YouTube and search “Stay Safe Lipsync” to see Hancock County creativity in action.