LINES FROM LYDIA: Remembering Bill, the Bat Man

REMEMBERING BILL, THE BAT MAN

By Lydia Bogar

When old friends die, we try to remember the happy times, the jokes and laughs, the parties and vacations.  Sometimes, though, that’s a stretch—as it was with Bill.

A year or so after my divorce, I dated a man who had grown up with my ex-husband.  Bill was a carpenter with a young daughter, two interesting and diverse sisters, and parents who lived down the street.  Unlike my ex-husband, he loved to dance and be social.   His friends welcomed me, including some that I knew from my job at the Town Hall.   But Bill had a problem.

Bill loved a beer (or three) at noon on Saturday, whether he was watching a ballgame or working.  One of his favorite social venues was the Knights of Columbus Hall.  Not because of the Catholic connection but because what this group of Knights were good at in the early 80’s was drinking–a lot.

On Tuesdays, the Knights went bowling (and drinking) at an alley within spitting distance from my house.  On one of those Tuesday nights in the spring, a nice breeze blew in from the west, and I opened my windows to catch the fresh air.  Around 2 am, a noise woke me up.  Not the girls.  Nothing electrical or mechanical.  Must be an animal in the backyard, I thought.  I rolled over and went back to sleep, but within minutes, the noise woke me again.

This time, I turned on the light.  And when I did, something flew across the room.  I screamed, turned off the light, reached for my robe, and rushed to close the doors to the girls’ rooms.  That bird was not going to crap all over my house!  So, with flashlight in hand and a large towel over my shoulder, I began my search for my intruder.  Hearing the noise again, I realized it wasn’t a bird.  It was a bat–and he was scared.  With the window fully open, I flapped the bath towel around in an attempt to chase the darn thing back outside, but my efforts were in vain.  I called Bill.

After at least a dozen rings, he finally picked up, and soon, his truck pulled into the driveway.  He came to the door with a plywood box which proved to be of no help.  Finally, Bill grabbed my chenille bathmat, quietly sneaked up on the creature, threw the mat around him, tossed him—mat and all—outside, and slammed the window shut.  He headed for his truck, waved good night, and I tumbled back into bed.

Within what seemed like ten minutes, the alarm went off, and the day began.  I didn’t tell the girls about the bat, nor did I mention it to my co-workers at the Town Hall.  Mid-afternoon, as I drank another cup of coffee to stay awake, Bill arrived in my office and told me he had had a weird dream. He said he dreamed he came to my house during the night and followed a bat into my bedroom through an open window.  Then he said that he was going to stop drinking.  Somehow, with a straight face, I replied that, yes, that was a weird dream and that abstinence was probably a good idea.

Bill never heard the true story, but I shared it with his sisters at his funeral, and they laughed along with me.  Funny, the laughs that bond us.

There has never been another bat inside my house. The few that fly around the back yard at dusk don’t give me a second glance. Maybe the story about that long ago warm Tuesday evening in the spring has been passed down through the bat generations and–remembering Bill the Bat Man–they keep their distance.

“Lines from Lydia” feature writer Lydia Bogar

Renaissance woman Lydia Bogar has been English teacher, health care professional and more.  She joined BOLLI in the spring of 2016 after returning home from a stint in South Carolina where she dipped into another OLLI program.  “It’s good to be here!” she exclaims.  (And it’s good to have her.) 

 

 

FEBRUARY SENIOR MOMENT with Eleanor Jaffe: My Aunt Sally

MY AUNT SALLY

by Eleanor Jaffe

     My Aunt Sally died a few days ago.  Today was her funeral.  She was 95 years old.

      I am not sure if she really is my aunt any more because, you see, my “real” Uncle Sam, my mother’s kid brother,  divorced her about 5 years ago.  They had been separated for 20 or 30 years by that time, but Aunt Sally would never let him go.  She refused to divorce him.  They lived separately.  He supported her.  He dated other women and began living with Jane at least 20 years ago, and Jane finally became his second wife about 5 years ago. Still, Sally took her rightful place at all family functions, luncheons, Thanksgiving Day dinners, birthday parties.  I even invited her to my son’s wedding 18 years ago in New Orleans along with Sid and Jane.  After all, she was still my aunt, and she and my Mom had fun together, despite the fact that Mom always considered her an airhead.

     Sally and Sam were a gorgeous couple when they first met in their early 20’s.  Sam was a decorated war hero.  He’d been shot out of the sky with his crew and was one of the two out of twelve who survived.  Ronnie was curly haired, pretty, and very curvey.  I was about 8 or 9 years old when they were engaged and came to visit my family.  I was enthralled by their movie star gorgeousness and glamour.  They married and lived together in Florida for about 30 years — far from our home in Brooklyn.  They had 3 children together.  My cousin Sarah, their oldest child, died from cancer a long time ago.  Sam searched everywhere with her for a cure–all over the U.S. and Mexico to Germany–and was broken by her death.  He still seems broken.

     I understood, I thought, why Uncle Sam no longer wanted to live with Sally.  He was a complex man–intelligent, well traveled, well read, an athlete, interested in Chinese art.  Sally was simple.  She liked buying $2 and $3 “tschochkes,” according to some who eulogized her today, and then giving them away.  She never recognized a rebuff, so she went through life perpetually cheerful and resilient.  Most people, it seems, went out of their way to help her, and they liked her.  Was she insensitive?  obtuse? or loyal and forever loving?  She lived with her son and his wife, both of whom adored her.  Her daughter-in-law wept from the pulpit as did her son, her grandson, and two other grandchildren.  Clearly, Sally lavished her love on them, and they cherished her.

     People are complicated.  We can’t know what is in their hearts and minds.  We guess.  We tell ourselves stories that we believe.  Some of us are quick to judge others.  We become locked into our own opinions (or are they the opinions of others?).  We overlook, we simplify, and we think we know.  We take sides.  And yet, we can never know the whole story.  How can we?

     I felt very sorry for my Uncle Sam today.  I love him and respect him.  He sat next to Jane, his second wife, and listened to almost everyone in his family speak of their love and praise for their adorable and adored mother and grandmother—without a word about the father and grandfather who sat two rows behind his first wife’s coffin, which was blanketed by an abundance of roses. 

“Senior Moment” feature writers Eleanor Jaffe (left) and Liz David

As I grow older, I am more interested in the conditions, changes, services, culture, and even politics affecting me, my husband of 53 years, my friends, and my 102 year old mother.  To satisfy my ever growing curiosity about what it means to grow older in our society, I created and taught three BOLLI courses on this topic.  My experiences as a high school English teacher and social worker plus a lot of reading about aging and loss (and, of course, living, so far, to 80) have                                               prepared me to write this blog.

Please share your own thoughts and feelings by commenting below–

MEET MEMBER STEVE GOLDFINGER: BEST FRIENDS FOR LIFE

MEET MEMBER STEVE GOLDFINGER:  BEST FRIENDS FOR LIFE
Born and raised in Brooklyn, Steve Goldfinger enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a doctor and professor of medicine at MGH and Harvard Medical School.  His wife, a modern dancer and educational administrator, died ten years ago.  His four sons inherited both of their parents’ genes and have varied careers–Hollywood script writer, radiologist, psychotherapist, and business executive–coupled with creative musical talents they display in their respective bands and bluegrass group.  He has nine grandchildren.   In addition to writing, Steve’s interests include classical music and theatre.  He was also an ardent golfer “before skill deserted me.”
 
Steve joined BOLLI in 2016 and says that he has found it to be “a huge resource in my retirement which has fulfilled my desire to return to the humanities in my later years.”  The fine and varied program has also brought new friends.
As a member of  the Writers Guild,  Steve has treated the group to everything from poetry to memoir, short fiction, and creative nonfiction. This piece, an example of the latter, was written in response to the prompt:  “Best Friends Forever.” 

BEST FRIENDS FOR LIFE

by Steve Goldfinger

He was born in China in 1898, the son of Presbyterian missionary parents.  He died 69 years later, leaving behind an estate worth a hundred million dollars.  Along the way, he was voted the most brilliant member of his Yale graduating class.  An ardent anti-communist, he urged Kennedy to attack Cuba, even saying to him, “If you don’t, I’ll be like Hearst,” meaning he’d use his magazines to push him to it.  He was a strong proponent (and rare user) of LSD.  His physical awkwardness, lack of humor, and discomfort with any conversation that was not strictly factual was starkly at odds with his glamorous wife’s social poise, wit, and fertile imagination.

Henry Luce embarked on a career in journalism, and before he bought Life magazine in 1936, he and a partner had already taken on both Time and Fortune.  His yen to own Life was based purely on its name and how well it would couple with that of Time.  His wife Clare saw a grand opportunity to found an entirely new media genre: photojournalism.  Before they purchased it, Life magazine had been a declining vehicle for the kid of light-hearted, sophisticated, clean humor that it’s readers had outgrown.  Under the Luces, its new mission statement opened with “To see life, to see the world…”  How it succeeded!

Within four months, Life’s circulation rose from 380,000 to over a million, and it eventually exceeded eight million.  It became the most popular magazine of its time.  Renowned photographers captured riveting images for the eyes of the nation: the D-Day landings, aerial views of the remains of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, faces of the Nazis at the Nuremberg tribunal, and, most famous of all, the iconic kiss the sailor planted on that nurse in Times Square to celebrate the end of World War II.  And as more print invaded the magazine in the form of essays and memoirs, viewers became readers.  Life’s continued popularity brought great acclaim and great profits for more than three decades before it began its gradual fade in the 1970s.  Issues became less frequent and staggered to total cessation in 2000.  Rising costs were one reason.  Television was undoubtedly another.

In contrast to Henry’s somewhat colorless persona, Clare Boothe Luce led a stunning public life.  She was an early feminist, an actress, a successful  playwright, and then a war reporter, journalist, politician, congresswoman, and ambassador.  Attending opening night of one of her plays were Albert Einstein and Thomas Mann.  Among the quips attributed to her are, “No good deed goes unpunished” and “Widowhood is a fringe benefit of marriage.”  While ambassador to Italy, she was poisoned with arsenic.  Initially suspected to be Russian espionage retaliation for her outspoken anti-communism, the cause was eventually found to be arsenate in the paint flaking off her bedroom ceiling.  “Broadway’s New Faces, 1952” famously portrayed her illness at Toothloose in Rome.  Clare Boothe Luce died in 1987.  By the end of her life, she had become a fervent supporter of Barry Goldwater and a Nixon appointee to the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.

Arguably the most influential and envied power couple of their time, Henry and Clare Boothe Luce made numerous friends for life.  They were also the best friends for  ,

FEBRUARY TECH TALK with John Rudy: MAKING TRAVEL PLANS

THE NEW WORLD OF ONLINE TRAVEL PLANNING

It used to be that, whenever I wanted to take a trip, I drove into Lexington and visited Colpitt’s Travel where Marilyn would help us make reservations.  Unfortunately, she often had to deal with airlines that didn’t answer the phone and hotels in places she hadn’t visited.  The situation today is very different, and most of the readers of this blog already probably take advantage of some of the tools out there.  The purpose of this entry is to provide you with some ideas you might not be familiar with—and, of course, what I provide here is just a small piece of what is available.  Be sure to use the comment box at the end to add your ideas and/or ask questions!

Step1:

Where/when do I want to go?                                                                                 Do I want to arrange for airfare or a package with car and/or hotel?     Do I have flexibility for travel dates, times of day, locations?         What am I willing to give up for the lowest price out there?                 Do I want trip cancellation insurance?

Step 2:

Pick one of the travel tools that are available online.  Various review sites contrast the different tools, but there is some consensus that www.booking.com is the best overall site and www.Priceline.com is the best for last-minute deals.

Other popular sites include: Expedia, Cheap Air, Travelocity, Trip Advisor, and Kayak.

These sites allow you to 1) search across many different airline or select specific ones; 2) deal with specific or flexible travel dates; 3) sort information by date, price, time, and number of stops.

Be sure to look carefully at car rental information, especially at drop-off fees.  Also be sure to note whether or not the site will alert you if there are price changes and if you will be able to take advantage of that information.  Be aware, too, of the busiest airports.  Smaller airports (like Providence) may be available near your destination—prices, though, might be higher, and they might have less availability.

Get Money for Change Flights

Airlines overbook assuming that they will have no-shows.  Many times, they provide offers for volunteers willing to take different flights.  Offers go up when there are no takers.  But be sure to ask questions.

Sometimes, the offer provided can only be used with a full-fare ticket.  The offer may not apply to your whole group.  What if the next flight is also fully booked?  Ask for a flight guarantee within X hours.  If the delay to a substitute flight turns out to be X hours long, will they reimburse an overnight hotel bill?

Many years ago, I met someone who located the busiest American Airlines flight to LA and booked it to visit the grandchildren.   He always got bumped.

When Should I Fly?

Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the least expensive days on which to fly; then Saturday.  Fridays and Sundays are the most expensive.  Very early morning, late night, red-eye, and mealtime flights are cheaper than other flights.

When Should I Book?

According to FareCompare.com data, the best time for booking in the U.S. is on Tuesday at 3 p.m.  Many airlines release their weekly sales late on Mondays or early on Tuesdays.  By mid-afternoon on Tuesdays, then, the competing airlines have matched the lower prices.

U.S. domestic tickets: Shop between 3 months and 30 days before departure. International fares: Shop between 5 ½ months and 1 ½ months before departure. Peak travel: During peak seasons such as June, July and August or the December holidays, purchase tickets two months in advance.

The large companies from whom we used to buy travel books now have elaborate, comprehensive web sites.  These are particularly useful when trying to get detailed data on a location.  Browse them and see what is available.  These include, but are not limited to:  http://www.fodors.com/  and https://www.viamichelin.com  as well as https://www.lonelyplanet.com

One last item:  Google is pretty good.  If you type in, say, “American Airlines 145,” you will get the status of that flight.  If it is already airborne, you will get its ETA and the arriving Gate Number–some airlines even make it possible for you to track their in-air flights!

BOLLI Tech Talker John Rudy

John, a long time computer expert and guide, provides his helpful hints in this monthly BOLLI Matters feature.  In the comment box below, provide questions on this month’s or any other computer/tech topic that you’d like to know more about in future Tech Talk articles.

john.rudy@alum.mit.edu (781-861-0402

JANUARY CHEF’S CORNER with John Rudy: General Tso’s Chicken

GENERAL  TSO’S   CHICKEN

from Chef John Rudy

In 1998 we went to China, and I noticed that General Tso’s Chicken was never on the menu.  I asked and was told that they never heard of it, and anyway, who was General Tso?  Since then, I have done some research, and it seems that it was named after Tso Tsung-t’ang (1812–1885), a Qing Dynasty military leader who suppressed the 1862–1877 Dungan Revolt.  Now you can impress your friends.

This recipe came off the net many years ago, though I have fiddled with it.  It tastes exactly like the best version I’ve ever had out.  Remember that the Cayenne pepper powder can be very hot.  Presumably dried peppers can also be used, but I couldn’t find them.  Make sure that you use Asian sticky rice, and not something like Uncle Ben’s.  If you haven’t used Sticky Rice, be careful with the amount of water.  It usually takes about 50% more than what the bag says, so check it periodically as it cooks the 20 minutesm to make sure that it doesn’t burn.

This recipe is for a small amount of chicken.  White meat dries out, so always make it with boneless, skinless thighs.  That also makes it possible to reheat it without turning it into cardboard.

  • 1 lb  Chicken (best with dark meat)
  • 3 tbs cornstarch (for coating)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tbs cornstarch (to thicken)
  •  1/4 cup soy sauce
  •  3 tbs sugar
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1 small onion, sliced thin and in half
  • spicy red pepper, as desired
  • 1 tsp ginger, minced
  • 1 1/2 tbs water, cold (for cornstarch)
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juide
  • 1 clove garlic (sliced thin)
  • peanut oil (about 3/4 cup, add more as needed)
  • broccoli
  • sticky rice
  • Note:  If tripling the recipe (to serve 6-8) you need only double the egg/cornstarch mixture, but triple the sauce.
  1. Depending on where you buy the thighs, there might be some tough strands attached that you have to remove with a sharp knife. Cut the chicken into chunks.  One thigh might be 4 pieces, but it depends on the size of the thigh.
  2. Mix cornstarch and egg and coat the chicken. Once mixed, it will separate after about 5 minutes, so you might have to re-stir it.
  3. Heat oil very hot in a wok, electric fry pan, or regular fry pan and fry chicken. This will take about 5 minutes and chicken should be turned.  If there is a lot of chicken, do it by turns.  The pieces of chicken should not be touching, or they will attach to one another.  Don’t overcook the chicken.
  4. Remove chicken to a side tray, keeping it warm in the oven at 200° which will not continue to cook it.
  5. Remove all but a few Tbs. of the oil and cook the onion, covered, along with the pepper. You may need to add some water to keep it from burning.  I like the onions to be soft but not mushy, and certainly not blackened.  The best way to slice an onion is to cut it in half, from north to south pole, and then using a very sharp knife, make the slices.
  6. Mix the juice, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, garlic and ginger and add to the onion mixture. Cook until it boils and the sugar is dissolved.  This takes 1-2 minutes.
  7. Add the cornstarch/water mixture to thicken the sauce, and add the chicken, stirring constantly. Serve immediately.  Reduce the cornstarch if you want a thinner sauce.
  8. Serve over sticky rice (about ¾ cup per person) with steamed broccoli on the side.
  9. Though I have never seen it in a restaurant, I like to cut celery stalks ½“ thick and cook in butter about 5 minutes (in a separate pan) and add them in.
BOLLI Chef John Rudy

THE CHEF’S CORNER:  John says that it was his mother who inspired his love of cooking and baking at an early age.  (She cooked exclusively vegetables in boilable packages.)

john.rudy@alum.mit.edu (781-861-0402(

JANUARY “SENIOR MOMENT”: The Superagers!

“Use It or Lose It—-THE SUPERAGERS”

by Eleanor Jaffe

“How to Become a Superager,” (a recent NY Times article) gives added credence to the well-known phrase, “Use it or lose it.”  The author, Lisa Feldman Barrett, recommends that we elders work HARD at intellectual and physical challenges.  She writes, “If people consistently sidestep the discomfort of mental effort or physical exertion, this restraint can be detrimental to the brain,” since, “all brain tissue gets thinner from disuse. If you don’t use it, you lose it….so work that brain.” What is more, she says, “The discomfort of exertion means you’re building muscle and discipline….superagers excel at pushing past the temporary unpleasantness of intense effort.”   (To access this article, click here)

This is great advice that we BOLLI members follow in our course work—right?  But we are, after all, “seasonal learners” with long  interruptions between semesters.   When I started to think about how to keep building brain muscle during BOLLI’s course breaks, I discovered that even vacation can keep us superagers going.

EXERCISING MY SUPERAGER BRAIN WHILE ON VACATION!

I’d like to think that the luxury of being able to purchase and outfit a new vacation condo in Florida has given me and my husband a multitude of opportunities to exercise our superager brain muscles. The challenges of setting up a new apartment are multiple, even to experienced hands like us.  Here’s what I mean:

Let’s see.  First of all, how shall I equip my now empty condo?

I start by making a floorplan and a color chart.  Next, I decide what furnishings we need and make a master list. It doesn’t take long before I have to look for the often misplaced list, but when I find it,  I tend to revise it.  Then, I take it with us when we go shopping.  Back home in Boston, I dig up unbreakable furnishings (linens, trays, small rugs, etc.) that we could use in Florida. I pack them up and ship them down.  (I should have made a list of them…)

Next, I explore the resources my new surroundings have to offer.  What stores carry the things I will need?  How do I find those stores and websites that reliably provide “stuff”?  I consider the advice of the other newcomers we meet about how they achieved the same goals.  I learn about “consignment shops” where “lightly used” used items of often good quality are sold.  Sarasota has about 35.  And this kind of shopping offers adventure!  You never know what you may find—or how quickly someone else will spot that terrific bargain.  I’ve learned to be prepared to purchase on the spot.  I’ve also learned to schedule deliveries so that I will be at home when these purchases arrive.

But furnishing a new space isn’t all that this kind of relocating involves.  Our superaging brains get lots of exercise as we memorize lots of new code numbers: beach locker number, house entrance number, security number, cell phone number, etc., etc., etc.   I have to write them down. (And then look for this list later, too.)  We also have to learn directions: east, west, north, and south–especially difficult for me since I am–and always have been–“directionally challenged.”  We have to learn the names and locations of new streets, highways, restaurants, movie houses, parks, beaches, etc.

And, of course, probably most important of all, we need to think about how to create a new social life.

We make lists of activities that seem like they will be fun or worthwhile.  We locate the best lifelong learning center in the area so we can continue to do classroom learning.  And all along the way, we make new friends.  (The challenge, of course, is to remember their names.)  And, of course, we make sure that we stay in touch with old friends—they are the best.

We also need to schedule visitors.  And that takes special planning—how many and how often is too much?  Of all my tasks, this one seems to be the most challenging to me.

I am reminded of a hint from the renowned psychologist, B.F. Skinner.  He said that as we age, we forget a lot, and we ought to routinely equip ourselves with a pad that we wear around our necks that contain our “lists.”

Do you think pads around the neck could become the new fashion accessory for us “superagers”?

 

Eleanor and Liz
“Senior Moment” feature writers Eleanor Jaffe and Liz David

Eleanor says that, “As I grow older, I am more interested in the conditions, changes, services, culture, and even politics affecting me, my husband of 53 years, my friends — and my 102 year old mother.  What does it mean to be growing older in today’s society?  To satisfy my growing curiosity, I created and taught three different classes about aging issues over the past several years at BOLLI.  My experiences as a social worker and as a high school teacher of English–plus a lot of reading about aging and loss—and, of course, living to 80 (so far)–have prepared me to write this blog.

ONE BOLLI, ONE BOOK

During the final week of our Fall Term, BOLLI’s “Book Group” engaged lunchtime attendees in a BOLLI-wide discussion of Philip Roth’s novel, Indignation.

Roth’s book is set in the 1950s and features a butcher’s son from Newark who escapes the family ties that bind by enrolling at a small, traditional college far from home in the rural Midwest.

The BOLLI Book Group’s co-organizers, Abby Pinard and Charlie Marz, moderated the event.  “I think the One Bolli, One Book conversation went extremely well,” Charlie says.  “I’m not very good at estimating the number of people in a crowd, but I would say there were at least 3 or 400 people in the room.”  Abby suggests that 30-40 were actively engaged in the conversation circle, and mentions that another 10-20 observed from the tables.

Abby Pinard and Charlie Marz (left) greet participants in the discussion circle
Abby Pinard and Charlie Marz (left) greet participants in the discussion circle

Charlie points to the conversation as having been lively and substantive.  “Rosalie Fink told me that, although she hadn’t read the novel, she found the discussion so interesting that she went out and bought it and read it,  and, since that time, she’s  become a bit obsessed by Roth, recommending that we do another one of his novels–American Pastoral or Nemesis.  Another ‘silent’ participant, Marty Kafka from The New Yorker Fiction Salon,  told me that, although he hadn’t read the book, he found the discussion so interesting that he stayed just to observe/listen.”

Both Charlie and Abby believe that the event may become an annual one, but, whether that happens or not, the BOLLI Book Group offers excellent reading and discussion opportunities on a regular basis.

Watch The Bulletin for specifics about the group’s upcoming reading and discussion plans.

Want to know more about BOLLI’s Special Interest Groups?  Click here:  https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/33972419/SIGS.pdf

 

 

LINES FROM LYDIA: My Post-Traumatic Growth

This month, our most eclectic feature writer, Lydia Bogar, walks us through quite a host of recommended books, articles, and even opera focused on civil rights.  But perhaps the most powerful of all, Kander and Ebb’s musical, The Scottsboro Boys, at Speakeasy.

Speakeasy’s production of “The Scottsboro Boys”

MY POST-TRAUMATIC GROWTH

By Lydia Bogar

If I hadn’t been so impressed by the book and then the film, The Help, I might not have read The Warmth of Other Suns which I read, ingested, and then donated to my neighborhood library for others to take in as well.  A resurgence of civil rights issues in 2011. That reminds me of a journal article that I wrote about the young black lady who was my uncle’s housekeeper when he retired to Florida in 1956.

Also in the summer of 2011, I watched the incredible performances of Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess at the ART.  This was my first visit to the ART, and sitting in the fourth row intensified the experience. The minimalist stage setting, the lyrics, and the performers’ facial expressions remain clear and vibrant in my memory.

If I hadn’t been in Emily and Beth’s New Yorker Non-Fiction discussion course this past term, I might have missed the significance of “Justice Delayed” a very intense article with reference to Bryan Stevenson’s book  Just Mercy, which so impressed me that I read the library’s copy and then bought my own.

More intense discussions both, in class and in the Gathering Place, have helped in my post-election survival.  There are so many educated activists that our country can and will grow.  Emotionally, this phase is referred to as post-traumatic growth.

The New Yorker always returns me to the style and substance of Calvin Trillin.  Calvin may be best known for his foodie rants and raves (and tours which I hope to take one day), but most recently, I have read Jackson, 1964, his intense reflection on the Civil Rights movement and the journalists who worked very hard to deliver that message.  Jackson, 1964 reminded me of the long silent walk from Worcester State College to downtown Worcester on Friday, April 5, 1968.  Dr. Martin Luther King had been assassinated the day before; classes were cancelled; our student body stopped protesting the war in Vietnam and mourned the life of Dr. King.

The road that we are on now, including the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue that will soon host an inaugural parade, has included two powerful lessons that will sustain us going forward: Fences, a powerful August Wilson play about discrimination in Philadelphia in volatile 1950’s, and The Scottsboro Boys which has come alive on the Speakeasy Stage at the Calderwood Pavilion.

If you know the story, you still need to see the play. If you have seen the play, I suggest reading it and seeing it again. The Speakeasy artists and their technical staff have given a great gift to the City of Boston. The venue itself is perfect– sparse and small, ideal for the re-creation of 1930’s vaudeville. To tell the story of nine black boys and ten trials–plus a vase presented to The Supreme Court–is a courageous and inspiring pledge.  Including cameo-like appearances by people like George Wallace and Rosa Parks is artful.

Whether you avail yourself of the BOLLI discount or not, you must see The Scottsboro Boys before it closes on January 22.   It will contribute to your overall knowledge and sustain you on the political road ahead.  The show was extended from its original run scheduled to end in November–perhaps because it is such a valuable part of our post-traumatic growth.

 

lydia-2
“Lines from Lydia” feature writer Lydia Bogar

Former English teacher, health care professional, and quintessential Renaissance woman of all trades, Lydia Bogar joined BOLLI in the spring of 2016 after returning home from a stint in South Carolina where she dipped into another OLLI program.  “It’s good to be here!” she exclaims.  (And it’s good to have her.) 

JANUARY “BOOK NOOK”: Two BIG Novels

As the winter cold sets in,  Abby offers ideas for some good long-term reading time.   Here are two items you may have either missed along the way or might simply want to re-read.

THE FORSYTE SAGA

John Galsworthy, 1921

“He had long forgotten the small house in the purlieus of Mayfair, where he had spent the early days of his married life, or rather, he had long forgotten the early days, not the small house, – a Forsyte never forgot a house – he had afterwards sold it at a clear profit of four hundred pounds.”

There you have it. Nine hundred pages of delicious soap opera wrapped around sly commentary on the acquisitiveness and striving of the British upper-middle classes around the turn of the twentieth century. The Forsytes aren’t landed aristocracy like Lord Grantham of “Downton Abbey.” They’re only a couple of generations removed from farmers. But they’ve been successful in trade, in publishing, at the bar, and they live in ongepotchket Victorian splendor, faithfully served by retainers and housemaids, in London and its environs.

Galsworthy was himself the product of a wealthy family and trained as a barrister before traveling abroad, meeting Joseph Conrad and envisioning a different life. He fell in love with the wife of his cousin, an army major, and married her after a ten-year affair and her eventual divorce. He was among the first writers to deal with social class in his work and to challenge the mores and ideals reinforced by the Victorian writers who preceded him. Notably, but not surprisingly given his personal life, he defied the standard view of women as property and defended their right to leave unhappy marriages.

“’I don’t know what makes you think I have any influence,’ said Jolyon; ‘but if I have I’m bound to use it in the direction of what I think is her happiness. I am what they call a “feminist,” I believe…I’m against any woman living with any man whom she definitely dislikes. It appears to me rotten.’”

It is the unhappily married woman referred to here around whom much of The Forsyte Saga revolves. Irene (I-reen-ee), disastrously married to a “man of property,” is the antithesis of a Forsyte. She represents beauty and art and passion and free will. Before reluctantly marrying Soames Forsyte, she extracted a promise that he would let her go if it didn’t work out. His failure to do so drives the story and a multi-generational family estrangement. While Galsworthy thoroughly develops the other primary characters, Irene is a beautiful cipher at the center of the novel. We never get her point of view; we see her through the eyes of others and can only infer her thoughts and feelings.

The Forsyte Saga features a huge cast of characters but the family tree that accompanies most editions is needed only at the beginning. To Galsworthy’s credit, we quickly get to know the main characters and the chorus of peripheral relatives that swirl around them. There are births, deaths, betrayals, couplings, uncouplings, recouplings, and generational upheaval, all conveyed in deft, eminently readable prose, a short 900 pages. This is a sumptuous wallow of a book with redeeming social value.

EARTHLY POWERS

Anthony Burgess, 1980

A monumental novel that stuck in my mind for thirty years as an all-time favorite but needed to be reread to remind me why. An octogenarian British writer, said to be loosely based on W. Somerset Maugham, is tasked to attest to a miracle that will support the canonization of a Pope and writes his memoirs, giving us a personal tour of the 20th-century through his life as a homosexual, lapsed Catholic, successful but mediocre writer, and exile. Examines morality, the nature of evil, the role of religious belief and more. Linguistically playful and full of historical inaccuracies courtesy of its unreliable narrator, the novel features one of the best opening lines in literature* (sure to send you to the dictionary), and is funny, painful, thought-provoking, entertaining, challenging and rewarding. Shortlisted for the Booker prize in 1980, it often appears high on lists of best British fiction of the late 20th century.

*”It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me.”

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 8.50.58 PM
“Book Nook” feature writer and Book Group co-leader, Abby Pinard

Abby is a lifelong book nut who retired from a forty-year computer software career in 2007 and ticked an item off her bucket list by going to work in a bookstore. She is a native New Yorker who moved to Boston recently to be among her people:  family and Red Sox fans.  She is a music lover, crossword puzzler, baseball fan, and political junkie who flunked Halloween costumes but can debug her daughter’s wifi.

 

 

 

 

BOLLI’S PHOTO GROUP: Getting the Picture

During the Fall Term, the BOLLI Photo Group treated us all to a glimpse of their activities in a wonderful lunchtime presentation.  It helped to introduce this very popular Special Interest Group to the membership as a whole and highlighted some of its activities.

Group organizer Joanne Fortunato kicked off the presentation with some images from the group’s October trip to the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum.  She focused, in particular, on one outdoor installation called “Lincoln”  One would think the photographers’ images would all be quite similar considering that they were shooting the same thing.  But, clearly, this is never the case!  Note how very original these shots are!

Miriam Soybel
Miriam Soybel
Mel Markowitz (shooting Dick Hanelin)
Dick Hanelin
Joanne Fortunato
Joanne Fortunato
“Weathered” by Steve Schwartz
“Rabbit Hole” by Steve Schwartz
“Out of the Darkness” by Steve Schwartz

Other members of the group presented aspects of their work for the BOLLI lunchtime audience.

Linda Brooks shared her “Photography Projects with a Focus.”  She particularly likes working with themes and, after her “Windows and Doors Calendar” (which you can find on the blog by scrolling through SIG “Photo Group” items), she started creating books, including a dog story for children.  She photographed the 30 day gestation period taking place in the robin’s nest outside her kitchen window, and is now into flowers.

Helen Abrams provided “Photographing Trees: A Personal Journey.” As a docent at Mt. Auburn, she has an excellent opportunity to check out a huge number of different types of trees and focus on their fascinating differences–their twisted trunks and branches, their leaves…in all sorts of light.  She says that they eventually start to look like they’re going to move!  (You can find one leg of this journey in a very early blog item by scrolling back through the SIG “Photo Group” items.)

Steve Schwartz showed “Interpretations: Familiar and Artistic.”  He says that, as a CPA, photography fulfills his fascination with the intersection of precision and feelings.  His work, exemplified by his “Lincoln” photographs above, clearly does just that!

And, finally, the irrepressible BOLLI photo enthusiast/SGL/and field trip leader extraordinaire Arthur Sharenow rounded out the event by providing “Tips for Taking Good Pictures,” sharing some hits and misses.  Always a treat!

The group meets on one Friday afternoon per month–check the BOLLI calendar for meeting dates/times.  At each meeting, the group takes time to critique each other’s work, share ideas, and plan events.  Any interested BOLLI member–from beginner to professional–is welcome!  Coming up, another photography show featuring works by members of the group will be installed in the Purple Room for the spring term.

Want to know more about BOLLI’s Special Interest Groups?  Click here:  https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/33972419/SIGS.pdf

 

 

“RADIO FREE BOLLI” RETURNS TO RAVE REVIEWS!

“RADIO FREE BOLLI” RETURNS!

“Home Cooking Jazz” DJ’s Judith Stone and Nancy Connery with Trivia Maven Sue Wurster

After the successful launch of our term’s end “Radio Free BOLLI” show last spring, the cast and crew returned for an even more spectacular lunchtime presentation on Tuesday, December 6.  For the uninitiated, “Radio Free BOLLI” features the dulcet tones of members Judith Stone and Nancy Connery who provide a weekly “Home Cooking Jazz” show on Monday afternoons from 1-3 on the Brandeis station WBRS 100.1 FM.

This time around, Judith and Nancy–teamed, once again, with Sue as trivia maven, Emily Ostrower as show manager, and Megan Curtis as technician–provided a stroll down “The Great White Way” with Broadway numbers from shows spanning the decades.  All along the way, BOLLI members won amazing prizes in the form of stunning, top-quality plastic refrigerator magnets–but the event ended with a grand prize drawing in which members won places in our winter seminars and even a spring term membership!

As the show got going, the audience did too–eventually just breaking out into a Broadway sing-along thoroughly enjoyed by one and all!  It was an afternoon of hooting, humming, and simple hilarity–so watch for the springtime version of “Radio Free BOLLI!”

Steve Messinger nails a trivia question for a round of enthusiastic applause.
Steve Messinger nails a trivia question for a round of enthusiastic applause.
Sophie Freud, Naomi Schmidt, and Joyce Holman relish a
Sophie Freud, Naomi Schmidt, and Joyce Holman relish a “South Pacific” moment
Harriet Gould and Libby Saks join the hilarity as Phyllis Freeman and Susan Bradford, in the background, prepare to take the next trivia question.
Harriet Gould and Libby Saks join the hilarity as Phyllis Freeman and Susan Bradford, in the background, prepare to take the next trivia question.
Lynn Chernoff and Hella Hakerem inspect the high quality, rare, artistically arresting refrigerator magnet awarded for correctly identifying a number from The Pajama Game.
Lynn Chernoff and Hella Hakerem inspect the high quality, rare, artistically arresting refrigerator magnet awarded for correctly identifying a number from The Pajama Game (or maybe it was Cats…)
And, finally, show manager Emily Ostrower holds the winning ticket for
And, finally, show manager Emily Ostrower holds the winning ticket for “Radio Free BOLLI’s” Grand Prize spring membership winner!

Be sure to join us for our spring edition of “Radio Free BOLLI” when we return to Broadway’s Golden Age for another rousing sing-along and trivia fest!

radio-free-bolli
The “Radio Free BOLLI” Production Crew

From left, our crew consists of Megan Curtis, Technical Director; Sue Wurster, Trivia Maven and “Gypsy” Dancer; Nancy Connery, Co-Creator and DJ Deluxe; Emily Ostrower, Production Manager and Prize Guru; and Judith Stone, the Other Co-Creator and DJ Extraordinaire.

CAST PRESENTS: “Going Solo”

During the last week of the fall term, the BOLLI Membership Committee sponsored lunchtime presentations celebrating ourselves and our activities, providing our fellow BOLLI members with entertainment, discussion, and more!  First up, that week was our intrepid group of actors providing a program called “Going Solo.”

                                                                 CAST                                                                               (Creative Acting, Storytelling, and Theatre)On Monday, our CAST Our CAST members performed monologues drawn from plays (many of them one-character shows) featuring characters from real life.  The performers provided the following glimpses of fascinating people–

CAST Coach/Performer Sue Wurster as Stein

Sue Wurster started off the program with a piece drawn from the play Gertrude Stein Gertrude Stein Gertrude Stein by Marty Martin.  The play, a single-character work, featured Pat Carroll in its off-Broadway run in New York in the ’70s and takes place on the eve of Stein’s eviction from her Paris apartment.  In this portion of the work, she talks about the inner self as well as what she was trying to accomplish in her work.

 

Monique Frank as Emily Dickinson

We then moved back in time (and place) from the Paris of 1933 to the Amherst, Massachusetts of the mid-19th Century.  In this scene from William Luce’s one-woman play, The Belle of Amherst, the reclusive poet talks about her father, her sister, and, of course, her poems.

Bunny Cohen as Amelia Earhart

In 1932, the National Geographic Society awarded its Gold Medal to Amelia Earhart for becoming the first woman (and the only person since Charles Lindbergh) to achieve a solo transatlantic flight.  In this passage from Laura Annawyn Shamas’ one-woman play, Amelia Lives, the aviatrix reflects with some amazement upon the extraordinary public response to her flight as she accepts the medal for her achievement.

Becki Norman as Vivien Leigh

In Marcy Lafferty’s one-woman show, Vivien Leigh: The Last Press Conference, drawn from the Leigh’s own words, we are given a portrait of the troubled and gifted actress not long before the end of her life.  Here, she talks about her most determined campaigns in life:  marrying Laurence Olivier and landing the role of Scarlett O’Hara.

Eileen Mitchell as Eva Peron

In a very unusual piece, First Lady, playwright Erica Christ has provided a unique look at the woman who used her position as Argentina’s first lady to fight for women’s rights and care of the poor. Here, Peron (after her death) reflects upon what it means to be a woman in Argentina…and more.

Sandy Clifford as the irrepressible Molly Ivins

Twin sisters Margaret and Allison Engel have provided a vivid image of brassy Texas newspaper columnist Molly Ivins in their one-woman play, Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins.  In this portion of the play, Ivins turns her humor on Texas politics as she tries to write about her father.

Bette Winer as J. Robert Oppenheimer

A scientist herself, Bette Winer was drawn to this particularly powerful monologue from Carson Kreitzer’s compelling play, The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer.   In this passage, the scientist reflects upon the volatile age that he and his Los Alamos crew ushered in when they invented the modern devil, the atomic bomb.

The Cast of CAST’s “Going Solo” Presentation

So, is CAST a closed group?  NO.  Does one have to audition in order to be involved?  NO.  What if you’ve never been on stage in your life but are kind of interested in maybe trying some acting–is this something you could join?   YES!  And so, how would you go about doing that?

Just watch the Bulletin for announcements of our upcoming meeting times (next at BOLLI on Thursday, January 5 from 12:00 – 1:30) when we engage in lots of fun activity–we do some warm-ups, play some theatre games, engage in some improvisation, read scenes and/or plays, and so on.  No experience necessary–just a desire to have some creative fun!

Want to know more about BOLLI’s Special Interest Groups?  Click here:  https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/33972419/SIGS.pdf

JANUARY TECH TALK WITH JOHN RUDY: PHISHING

DON’T FEED THE PHISH!

By John Rudy

Many of you have heard the term Phishing.  And phishing works like this.  You receive an email that looks like it came from a company you trust.  Typically, it indicates that there is a problem with your account and asks you to click on a link to resolve it.  Sometimes, it indicates that you have a gift waiting for you and asks you to click to receive it.  Any time you receive an unsolicited email like this, you should be suspicious.  Is it really from a site you can trust?  Once you click on one of its links, it is too late.  So, Message #1 is Do Not Click.

Then, look at the email address it came from.  In many cases, the words after the @ do not look  like those from the website you know.  Let’s take a simple example.  If you use PAYPAL, you know that their site is www.paypal.com.  I recently received a message, purportedly from PayPal, which came from noreply@gator4248.hostgator.com.  I think we can all agree that this doesn’t look as if it came from PayPal.  Recently, there have been a lot of phishing attacks purportedly from Amazon and PayPal.  Kim Komando has written an excellent article which should be required reading:   http://www.komando.com/happening-now/382417/top-story-paypal-and-amazon-phishing-scams-spreading-now/all

Kim Komando’s newsletter is free, and I recommend signing up to receive it.

BOLLI Tech Talker John Rudy
BOLLI Tech Talker John Rudy

John Rudy, a long time computer expert and guide, provides his helpful hints in this monthly BOLLI Matters feature.  In the comment box below, provide questions on this month’s or any other computer/tech topic that you’d like to know more about in future Tech Talk articles.

john.rudy@alum.mit.edu (781-861-0402

 

THE CHEF’S CORNER with John Rudy: Tiramisu

We discover all sorts of interesting aspects as we get to know our BOLLI colleagues–who knew that John Rudy is not only a  knowledgable “techie” but an accomplished “foodie” as well?!    We at BOLLI Matters are pleased to introduce our new FOOD FEATURE–  

TIRAMISU

When in Italy for our 20th anniversary (1988) we had Tiramisu, a tasty creamy dessert, made from dozens of different recipes–including Tiramisu ice cream!  When we returned, we scoured the Italian cookbooks looking for a Tiramisu recipe but didn’t find anything that sounded right.  Then, for our daughter’s Bat Mitzvot, we asked our caterer to make one.  It was excellent, exactly what we wanted, but he refused to divulge any recipe details.

After continuing to look, in a casual way, over the years, we started to see tiramisu recipes, but, again, none were really quite right.  So,  I decided I’d try modifying a recipe I found–I omitted the wine and used sponge cake instead of lady fingers.  I contacted a local gourmet shop to find the Mascarpone cheese.  They asked if I was making Tiramisu.  When I said “yes” and that I wasn’t happy with my recipe, the fellow said that he was teaching an Italian cooking course and would be teaching Tiramisu the following week.   What follows is an amalgam of my recipe, his recipe, some things found in cookbooks, and a number of personal changes.  There are hundreds of different recipes available.  Many use brandy, Marsala wine or Amaretto, none of which taste right to me.  Very few use chunks of chocolate.

Tiramisu has a cake portion (I use home-made sponge cake; traditionalists use lady fingers which are dry), a coffee-liquor mix, and a cheese mix.  Make Tiramisu at least a day before so that it has time to sit.  Remove it from the refrigerator 1 hour before serving.

The following is enough for a Pyrex 8”x8” pan plus a Pyrex 9”x14” pan.  I use glass pans.  It takes ~2½ hours to make this dessert.  (If you want to use only the larger pan, use two-thirds of the following ingredients.)

The Cake

8                   Eggs, separated, at room temperature

2 cups        Flour, sifted BEFORE measuring

2 cups        Sugar, granulated

2 tsp.         Vinegar, white  (it causes the sponge cake to rise; but                                    leaves no taste)

  1. Beat egg whites in a large bowl until fluffy; slowly beat in sugar.
  2. Separately, mix yolks and vinegar;  beat slowly into whites.
  3. Sift flour, then measure, and sift into batter while slowly beating the egg-sugar mixture.
  4. Pour half of the mixture into the two pans. Do not flour or butter the pans.  Pour the other half of the mixture into an11x17x1 cookie sheet, which has been lined with wax paper.  This will later be used for the top layer.  If you use a smaller pan, it will not cover both surfaces.
  5. Bake at 350° for about 12-15 minutes, until a toothpick poked into the cake’s middle comes out clean.  Do not be surprised if the pans take different amounts of time.
  6. Cool the glass pans upside down so that the sponge cake does not shrink.

Soaking the Cake

2 cups        Cold Coffee  (the stronger the better)

¾ cup         Crème de Cocoa  (you could use another liquor)

As evenly as possible, pour half (or a bit less) into the two cake pans, onto the sponge cake.  This will be the lower half of the cake.  Save the remaining liquid.

Cheese Mixture

24 oz         Marscapone cheese.  (room temp).  Can use the microwave                      to soften but not for more than 15 seconds for an 8 oz                                  container

6                Eggs, separated

8 oz           Chocolate, bittersweet, coarsely chopped  (Guittard semi-                       sweet Super Cookie Chips or Nestles Chunks work well).

2/3 cup     Sugar, granulated

  1. Beat egg whites until fluffy.
  2. Whisk egg yolks in double boiler with very hot, but not boiling, water. Whisk in the sugar.  Cook for a few minutes.  Ensure that the yolks do not turn hard by whisking constantly.
  3. Mix in the egg whites and then stir in the softened Marscopone cheese. This will be very tight in the double boiler!  You may find it easier to add these ingredients to the larger egg-white bowl for blending, and then return the mixture to the double boiler for about 5 minutes.
  4. I use the extra large chocolate pieces for chocolate chip cookies and might chop some pieces. Fold the chocolate into to the mixture and remove from the heat.  Otherwise the chocolate will melt.  Or could sprinkle the chocolate after pouring the cheese mixture.
  5. Spread the cheese mixture over the soaked sponge cake.

Finishing it off

1 pint         Cream, whipping  (beat cold, in cold bowl)

¼ cup        Sugar, granulated

1 tsp          Cocoa, un-sweetened  (can use regular cocoa or flaked chocolate)

  1. Take the waxed paper off the other piece of sponge cake and cut it so that it fits over the cheese mixture in the two pans.
  2. Pour the remaining coffee-liquor mixture over the cakes so that it soaks in.
  3. Whip the cream and sugar and, using a rubber spatula, spread over the two cakes covering any cracks in the sponge cake and also keeping in the moisture. Use a sponge to clean the edges.
  4. Sprinkle the cocoa over the cakes for decoration. This is done most easily by putting the cocoa into a fine-mesh sieve and tapping the sides while moving it over the cake.  Use a sponge to wipe the sides of the pans, removing any extra whipped cream and cocoa.  Cover carefully with Glad Wrap
  5. Let sit, covered, refrigerated, for at least 24 hours before serving. Remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before serving.  This dessert can be frozen
  6. It should really be covered, but plastic wrap can damage the top. Sometimes I just put wax paper over it–it is usually eaten before it dries out.
Chef John Rudy says that his mother inspired his lifelong love of cooking and baking. (She cooked vegetables in boilable packages.)

Need Help with Medical Equipment? A Suggestion from John Rudy

As we mature, we increasingly need Durable Medical Equipment including items like canes, wheelchairs, crutches, and more.  After surgery or an accident, we may need such devices.  Sometimes, these items may be available either free or with a co-pay through Medicare or other insurance.  There is another solution possible in the greater Boston area–The Massachusetts Masons.             

The Massachusetts Masons are located at 500 West Cummings Park, Suite 1150, in Woburn.  (Take Route 128N, get off at Washington Street, Exit 36, and take a RIGHT.  Go about 1/2 mile and turn right when you are opposite Staples.  Bldg 500 is in the back of the enclave). They are open ONLY from 9-12 on Saturdays, and the line moves very fast.  While I was there, I saw wheelchairs, walkers, canes, and shower chairs taken.  If you need something a bit more unusual, call 781-322-1052 before showing up.  I was told that they have 30,000 pieces in circulation and ask that you return what you borrow.

I have been successfully able to use the Masons as a source three times.  I was even able to get a Hoyer Lift for my mother, something that would normally cost about $800.  They ask that you return items when they are no longer needed and are happy to receive donations.

 

 

DECEMBER SENIOR MOMENT: ELLSVILLE

This month, Liz David reflects upon having had to make an important decision…one that many of us have either had to make or may face in the coming years.  As always, she shares her experience with warmth and sensitivity.

ELLSVILLE

By Liz David

When I was pregnant with our fourth child, Ted, in 1969, Barry and I
bought a piece of land south of Plymouth in Manomet.  It was a ¼ acre lot on a bluff overlooking Cape Cod Bay.  We could see, seemingly forever, from the sweep of the Cape at Plymouth to PTown.

We built a Stanmar four-bedroom house with floor to ceiling glass sliders facing the view.  It was an easy to maintain, efficient second home.  Facing the water, a small grassy area led to a flight of seventy-seven stairs.  Standing on the landing looking down and across the view, it felt like we could take flight!

In Manomet, the coastline is rugged–with sand, pebbles, rocks, shells, boulders, forlorn broken lobster traps and buoys.  Oh, and don’t forget the seaweed. Ted collected buoys which were hung around the house on the deck.

In 1972, our fifth child was born, and our family was complete: four sons and a daughter–Jon, Larry, Marc, Ted, and Betsy.  I told Barry I would not be a weekend wife, and he agreed, arriving in time for dinner most nights, braving the traffic from his office in Waltham.

We did what most families do at the beach. We sunbathed, swam, boated, entertained guests, entertained guests, and entertained guests. We had a permanent guest for about 7 years–my mother, Violet.

As time went by, the children grew up. Imagine that!  Barry and I decided to sell the house and look for another in the same general area. We didn’t want to have to deal with the Sagamore Bridge traffic to get to our 2nd home. We thought that maybe, just maybe we would find a home to retire to.  After about a year, we found just the place in Ellisville, South of Manomet. Ellisville was originally a Native American settlement used for fishing and farming, and, later, for many years, it was a fishing village with an inlet that provided safe harbor.

I knew when we approached the house and sat in the car at the top of the driveway that this was the place.  We could see through the windows of the house that it had an expansive view overlooking a marsh that stretched out to the sea.  It was–and, of course, still is–breathtaking.  The house became a home in ways that the first house did not, at least in appearance.  It was built for permanence.  The bedroom was my favorite room.  We could see the sunrise and the moonglow from the bed.  I told Barry, “this is where I want to die.”

Well, it’s not where I’m going to die because  the second home in Ellisville became too much to manage, and we decided to sell rather than move so far away from our family.   Ted, who was born in 1969, is now 47 and  lives in Lincoln with his precious family–his wife Nandini and  daughters  Maya, Mira and Lakshmi.  That is the best reason for staying put!

I wrote the following poem shortly after the sale.

 

AFTER THE SALE

With Recognition to Edna St. Vincent Millay

With my eyes closed I see the sea                                                                      Soft waves undulating toward the shore                                                      Sails flapping, ships calmly traveling in the distance

Closer by – the breeze brushes the marsh grass

Soft green in Summer                                                                                                          Rust in Autumn                                                                                                                      Dull gray as Winter sets in

Herons stretch their graceful necks

Egrets step daintily – feeding                                                                                        Swans a swimming – regal, aloof                                                                                  Crows perched in the trees – calling in conversation

And the hummingbirds fluttering in their perennial dance

With my eyes closed let me pretend                                                                 That the rustle of the leaves in the wind in Sudbury                                     Is the sound of the sea in Ellisville

*

Eleanor and Liz
“Senior Moments” feature writers Eleanor Jaffe and Liz David

Liz says…Years ago, when we were in our 40’s, my husband and I bought a sundial with the saying “grow old along with me–the best is yet to be.”  I’m not sure whether or not I believed it then, and I’m wondering whether I believe it now. Stay tuned.

WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND? Sandy Miller-Jacobs Reflects on “The Times”

One way for us to meet each other is by sharing what’s on our minds with the BOLLI community as a whole.  So, here’s the beginning of a BOLLI Matters “What’s On Your Mind?” feature–Sandy Miller-Jacobs recently wrote this piece for Marjorie Roemer’s memoir writing class, “Constructing Our Stories,” in which the prompt was for us to focus on a “refrain” from some point in our younger years.  Sandy took a political turn with this one, and we all felt that, with an inauguration coming up, we might all be interested in what’s been on her mind.

“The Times They Are A-Changing”

by Sandy Miller-Jacobs

       On January 20, 1960 our grandfatherly US President Eisenhower turned the office over to the young, handsome, and dynamic President John F. Kennedy. It was snowing hard, and, much to my delight, it was a snow day! For the first time, I watched, with my mother, the whole inauguration on TV. Robert Frost read a poem right from the same podium from which Kennedy would take his oath. Kennedy did not wear a coat or hat despite the cold and stood right where Robert Frost had been to deliver his inaugural address. His words struck me. “The torch has been passed to a new generation.” He may have thought he was talking to his generation, but I knew he was talking to MY generation. The Class of ’63 at Valley Stream North High became Kennedy fans, following his every word. Throughout the rest of our high school days, we watched all his press conferences and talked about them for days after. We were sure Khrushchev would not start a nuclear war, and we were right.

We were “the Baby Boomers” and proud of it. Our rock and roll songs were played on the radio. We watched American Bandstand and learned new ways of dancing.      Our music became our voice, bonding us to the issues of our day – civil rights and, eventually, anti-war protest. In September of 1963, I began my studies at Queens College of the City University of New York. Paul Simon, who had just graduated in June, performed at our freshman orientation. He sang “He was my brother,”  a song he wrote and dedicated to his classmate and friend at QC, Andrew Goodman, who was killed because he wanted Negroes to have the same rights he did – the right to vote, to sit anywhere on a bus or in a restaurant. “The times they were a-changing,”  and the older, white Southern generation didn’t like it one bit.

But we loved it. These songs were about the good my generation was bringing to the US and the world. It was about civil rights, the rights of all Americans. Somehow, Dylan’s song that opened his concert at Carnegie Hall in October of 1963 put it all in perspective:

Come mothers and fathers                                                                             Throughout the land                                                                                                      And don’t criticize                                                                                                        What you can’t understand                                                                                      Your sons and your daughters                                                                                    Are beyond your command                                                                                        Your old road is rapidly aging                                                                                Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand                            ‘Cause the times they are a changing

Yet last month, after so many months of vicious words, of bullying, of misogyny, of fear-mongering against immigrants and Muslims, and veiled anti-Semitism, Donald Trump became the US President-elect.  Yes, “The Times They Are A Changing,” but this isn’t the sixties with hopes of peace.

Bob Dylan, our silent winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, why didn’t you have a song for us now?  Instead, you left us “Blowing in the Wind.”

*

MEET MEMBER SANDY MILLER-JACOBS is a relatively new member of the BOLLI community, having joined after her retirement from Fitchburg State University where she taught in the Department of Special Education.  

At BOLLI, she has been “reviving” a long interest in photography and has been an active member of the Photo Group.  

LUNCHTIME FARE for Week 10 (Dec. 5 – 8): LET’S CELEBRATE!

This week, the last of our Fall 2016 semester, is full of wonderful celebrations sponsored by the Membership Committee and some of our BOLLI Special Interest Groups.  Join us for a wonderful array of festive frolic!

MONDAY:  CAST “Going Solo”

(Creative Acting, Storytelling, and Theatre)

Seven of our BOLLI thespians will present monologues drawn from plays featuring real-life characters.  Above, rehearsal shots feature: Monique Frank as Emily Dickinson, Eileen Mitchell as Eva Peron, Sandy Clifford as Molly Ivens, and Becki Norman as Vivien Leigh.  Others include Bunny Cohen as Amelia Earhart,  and Bette Winer as J. Robert Oppenheimer!   Come and support the remarkable work of these wonderful performers!

TUESDAY:  RADIO FREE BOLLI RETURNS!

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Back by popular demand!  “Home Cooking Jazz” DJ’s Judith Stone and Nancy Connery take their weekly radio show on the road to 60 Turner Street.  This week’s show features great musicals through the ages.  Come and enjoy music pulled from Broadway shows from the 1920s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and so on.  Along the way, we’ll provide exciting trivia opportunities (complete with exciting prizes) and end up with a Grand Prize Drawing!

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Music Producer Megan Curtis, Trivia Master Sue Wurster, DJ Nancy Connery, Production Manager Emily Ostrower, and DJ Judith Stone

 

WEDNESDAY:  “One BOLLI, One Book!”

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BOLLI’s Book Group, led by Charlie Marz and Abby Pinard, will moderate a BOLLI-wide discussion of Philip Roth’s novel, Indignation.  The novel takes readers back to the 1950s with a butcher’s son from Newark who escapes the family ties that bind by enrolling at a small, traditional college far from home in the Midwest.  What could possibly go wrong?

The group’s next  “One BOLLI, One Book” event will take place on Friday January 6 at 12:30 when the discussion will focus on Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel who depicts life before and after the collapse of civilization in this gripping, surprisingly beautiful novel about the endurance of art and the shared stories that connect us and make us human.  Then, on Friday February 3 at 12:30, the discussion will be about Atticus by Ron Hansen.  An aging Colorado rancher, in trying to unravel the mystery of his son’s death, struggles to come to terms with his life.  A moving and beautifully written novel about blame and responsibility and the illogical, consoling, and ultimately redemptive power of the human heart.

 

THURSDAY:  A 21st CENTURY TEVYE

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Boston based actor Jeremiah Kissel stars as Tevye in a new production of the acclaimed musical, Fiddler on the Roof, at Watertown’s successful New Rep Theatre.  On Thursday, Kissel will join us at BOLLI to talk about his experience in this show, offering his perspective on playing a “21st Century Tevye.”  The show, directed by Austin Pendleton (award winning director and HB Studio acting teacher who originated the role of Motel Kamzoil the tailor on Broadway), opens on Friday, December 2 and has already been extended to run through January 1.

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JOIN US IN MARCH FOR OUR NEXT  LUNCH & LEARN TERM!

And, by the way, if you have ideas for Lunch & Learn presenters, please be sure to let the committee know by clicking here to access the L&L Google form.

NUCLEAR ENERGY: WHAT WE SHOULD UNDERSTAND (and Why It Matters)

NANCY KOLODNY ON NUCLEAR ENERGY

51 BOLLI members gathered to hear Nancy Kolodny, Wellesley Professor Emerita of Chemistry, talk about nuclear energy just before our Thanksgiving break.  She made a terrific presentation and provided her slides which may be of interest to those who were not able to attend.

Her slides can be accessed by clicking on:  http://www.brandeis.edu/bolli/kolodny.pdf

FINDING “HIDDEN GEMS” OFF-SITE: A Unique New BOLLI Course

FINDING “HIDDEN GEMS” OFF-SITE

By Elaine Dohan and Class Participants

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“Hidden Gems” participants at the Addison Gallery of American Art at Andover Academy.  (From left:  Anne Walker, Fran Goldberg, Diane Winkelman, Hannah Delfiner, Sandy Traiger, Elaine Dohan, Lenore Goldstein, Tamara Chernow, Joyce Plotkin, Helen Kadish, Patsy Benincasa.)

Years ago, Tamara Chernow, Eileen Mitchell, and I planned and organized docent-led tours of many different museums located in the area.  Lunch was always included, and sometimes buses were provided as well.  These outings were very popular for social as well as educational reasons.  It was a huge job, and I guess you could say we “wore out.”  Eventually, though, it seemed to be something worth bringing back to life.  The result?  Hidden Gems, the very first “off site” BOLLI course designed to tap into the rich cultural community we enjoy here in the Boston area.

This term, participants in our five-week Hidden Gems course traveled to museums with excellent docents who expanded upon the readings that the group read preceding their visits.  But the first meeting of the course took place at 60 Turner Street when Nancy Alimansky provided our introductory lecture.  She really set the stage for the course, offering us tips on how to “access” pieces of art.  She focused on aspects of contemporary and modern art, providing slides and referring to the greatest of these artists.  She even referred to the wonderful photographs hanging in the Blue Room, executed by our own artists and available to us all the time.  Nancy clearly knows and loves her subject, making her the perfect example of what makes a good teacher.

After that wonderful opening session, we embarked on our visits to the Addison Gallery at Andover Academy, the Fuller Craft Museum, the Davis Museum on the Wellesley College campus, and Brandeis’ own Rose Gallery.   Lenore Goldstein, Anne Walker, Joyce Plotkin, and Diane Winkelman have provided some details about each of our visits to these gems.

AT THE ADDISON GALLERY OF AMERICAN ART

By Lenore Goldstein

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The Addison Gallery of American art was created by alumnus Thomas Cochran “to enrich permanently the lives of the students of Phillips Academy.”  The Gallery is a teaching resource as well as an art center for the students and faculty of the Academy, for other students, teachers and scholars and for the general public. Its collection of more than 17000 objects of American art dating from the 18th century to the present is one of the most comprehensive in the world.

Our BOLLI class visited two exhibits—“Manzanar: Photographs by Ansel Adams” and  “Eye on the Collection:  Fall, 2016.”  We were led by a terrific docent who gave us insight into many of the pieces in the museum’s collection.  But it is the Manzanar exhibit that stays with me.

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Manzanar was one of the War Relocation Centers during World War II.  The purpose of Adams’s photographs was to provide propaganda showing that the Japanese (who, for the most part, were American citizens) suffered a great injustice but created a vital community within the Relocation Center in the desert.  Most of his photographs were of happy, productive families engaging in happy, productive activities.  That upset me.  I understood Adams’ motive, but I couldn’t put behind me that the Japanese were prisoners who had been kicked out of their homes, lost their jobs, their possessions, their lives.  And of course I thought of the Holocaust.

This museum has so much to offer.   Opening this week is an exhibit called “The Deception of Perception.”  It focuses on distortion and ambiguity in photography.   This “Hidden Gem” is well worth a trip to Andover.

THE FULLER CRAFT MUSEUM

By Anne Walker;  photos by Hannah Delfiner

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Who knew?  Wonders abound in the Metrowest, and I barely knew it!  For instance, Brockton has one of the very few museums devoted entirely to “work of the hand.”

Fuller Craft Museum was an eye- opening experience.  From the ultra-edgy “Steam Punk” installations to an appealing gift shop, it is a marvelous surprise.  Gorgeous, satiny finishes on contemporary furniture, sensuous wood-grained bowls and platters, books recycled into expertly detailed hand-cut constructions were a source of unexpected delight as well.

One of the most surprising aspects of the Fuller Craft museum is that it is sited on a beautiful lake with walking trails and an outdoor collection of sculptures which we must see in the spring!

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THE DAVIS MUSEUM AT WELLESLEY COLLEGE

by Joyce Plotkin with gallery photos byHannah Delfiner

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Our trip to the Davis Museum at Wellesley College was timed beautifully – just after a three-year transformation of the galleries was completed – which enabled the Museum to double the number of art works on display.  The Davis, opened in 1993, was designed by Spanish architect Rafael Moneo, winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, and features art objects from antiquity to the modern day.

We started in the basement of the museum and first saw an exhibit titled Partners in Design:  Alfred Barr and Philip Johnson.  Barr, who taught the first undergraduate art course in modern art at Wellesley College, and Johnson, Museum of Modern Art’s first curator of architecture, together were responsible for bringing modernism to North America in the form of the German Bauhaus movement which concentrated on stripping down objects to their simplest form (with no ornamentation) and focused on rational and functional design.  The exhibit contains furniture from both Barr’s and Johnson’s apartments including a cantilevered chair that, when viewed at a particular angle, looks like it is floating on air.

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Also on display were examples of kitchen and household objects stemming from the movement that was active in the 1920’s and early 30’s but was ultimately shut down by the Communists.  It was interesting to me to see this phase of Philip Johnson’s work, as my husband and I recently saw, in Madrid, the Gate of Europe towers –the first inclined skyscrapers in the world – designed by Johnson and another colleague and completed in 1996. It was described by our tour guide as a building that typified the architecture of the future.

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Our second stop was the top floor of the museum which hosted the most recent works of art in a beautifully re-decorated, very inviting, high-ceilinged gallery with natural light pouring in from the skylights above.  As we entered the gallery, we were met by a terrific Alexander Calder mobile hanging from the ceiling and wandered through the fifth floor gallery observing a pairing of great paintings by Jackson Pollock and his wife Lee Krasner, interesting representative works by female artists Grandma Moses, Helen Frankenthaler and Louise Nevelson, a boldly colored Andy Warhol sculpture of Brillo and Campbell soup boxes as well as wonderful offerings by Picasso, de Kooning, and many others.  Personally, what delighted me beyond the wonderful art was the fact that the Museum featured the works of numerous women.  I hope the museum continues and expands the trend of acquiring and displaying works of art by women.

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Since we did not have time to see the whole museum during our class time, my husband and I went back to the Davis two days after this visit to see all of the exhibits.  We were delighted with the European and American exhibits and definitely recommend the Davis as an interesting destination for other BOLLI members.

 

THE HIDDEN GEM IN OUR OWN BACK YARD:  

THE ROSE GALLERY

by Diane Winkelman

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BOLLI’s new “Hidden Gems” class ended with the jewel in our own back yard.  We were treated to a curator/docent led tour of the exhibits currently on view at the Rose.   Learning about contemporary art with a curator who had recently come from the Museum of Modern Art in New York was extraordinary.   Our initial view of the museum was of David Reed’s painting – from afar and then close up. The experiences were dramatically different. We learned about his use of paint to create large dramatic canvases that had never been seen all together in one room until this show at the Rose.

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Each gallery had a show by a different artist.   Sarah Sze’s: Timekeeper combined sculpture, installation art, and painting to produce a visually fascinating statement about time and perception.

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Timekeeper

Do go and explore the rest. If you get fatigued in museums, don’t  forget to rest in Mark Dion’s room installation ” The Undisciplined Collector” … a permanent room installation that might make you feel right at home.

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The Undisciplined Collector

 

Thank you, Elaine, for a wonderful experience!

Diane Winkelman, Tamara Chernow, Anne Walker, Joyce Plotkin, Elaine Dohan, Helen Kadish, Hannah Delfiner, Sandy Traiger, Fran Goldberg, Lenore Goldstein

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOME COOKING JAZZ on Monday, November 21: What’s Cooking?

Our resident DJ’s, Judith Stone and Nancy Connery, provide “Home Cooking Jazz,”  a weekly radio show on Mondays from 1:00-3:00 on WBRS 100.1 FM which you can also stream at WBRS.org.   So, what’s coming up this Monday?

NORA & NORAH

Monday’s show is Nora and Norah- we’ve got them both on our minds as our Nora Ephron Film Festival starts today (Friday) at 2:00 at Orchard Cove in Canton (free and plenty of free parking). We will be featuring the film “Heartburn.”   Kaj Wilson, former Artistic Director of the Jewish Film Festival, will introduce the film and lead a discussion after.

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Our radio show on Monday will feature Norah Jones.  We pre-ordered her new jazzy fabulous CD, “Day Breaks.”  Be one of the first to hear it from 1:00 to 3:00 – stream us live at WBRS.org, or if you’re around BOLLI, tune us in on your radio dial at 100.1 FM.

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DJs Judith and Nancy

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NOVEMBER’S BOOK NOOK: Short Takes

Every now and then,  Abby opts for a “sextet of shorts” instead of her more in-depth “trios” of reviews.  Here is her first eclectic batch.

BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK

Ben Fountain

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A brilliant novel about war that takes place far from the field of battle at the annual Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving Day football game, the culmination of a “victory tour” for a squad of young grunts whose heroic actions in Iraq have made them a marketable commodity to drum up support for the war.  Hilariously skewers the culture of instant celebrity, politics, patriotism and power, and poignantly conveys the senselessness of sending young men to war. Five stars.  (Ang Lee’s movie version arrives in theaters this week.)

THE WOMAN UPSTAIRS

Claire Messud

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Nora Eldridge is angry.  How angry?  “You don’t want to know,” she tells us in the opening line of this searing psychological study.  Four years ago, she was finally shedding the Nora who was “the good friend, good daughter, good teacher, doormat….Miss Nobody Nothing…” to become more fully alive,  the artist and special person she always knew herself to be.  She was brought to this euphoric but precarious state by falling in love with (pushing her way into? getting ensnared by?) a family: a glamorous, recognized artist, her professor husband, and their beautiful eight-year-old son.   Could it possibly end well?  A novel that grabs you and won’t let go.

 

THE LAST REPORT ON THE MIRACLES AT LITTLE NO HORSE

Louise Erdrich

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In 1912, Agnes DeWitt adopts the cassock and persona of a Catholic priest who drowns en route to his missionary post in remote North Dakota. For almost a century, Agnes binds her breasts and, as Father Damien, lives a “sincere lie,” ministering to the Ojibwe people she comes to see as her own.  This novel, written in 2001, is the sixth in the series that began with Love Medicine in 1984 and features many of the same members of the Ojibwe clans in the earlier books as well as Louise Erdrich’s elegant, lyrical prose and mix of realism, fable, and humor. The devotion and passion (both earthly and spiritual) of Agnes/Damien hold it all together, despite some sluggish patches in the Ojibwe stories, and make this an emotionally affecting novel.

ONCE UPON A RIVER

Bonnie Jo Campbell

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After she is raped by her uncle and her father is killed, teen-aged Margo Crane takes to the (fictional) Stark River in rural Michigan to look for the mother who abandoned her several years earlier and to find out how to live.  Margo is a crack shot,  knows every bend in the river,  lives off the land and is sometimes treated well and sometimes badly by the men she meets.  Beautifully written, especially if you enjoy description of the natural world and wilderness survival tales, which I don’t.  I was more interested in Margo than in how to skin a muskrat, but I was interested enough in Margo to enjoy this book more than I expected to.

OPEN CITY

Teju Cole

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This critically acclaimed debut novel has no plot to propel it forward, just the ruminations of the solitary and possibly unreliable narrator – a young Nigerian-born psychiatrist – on identity, art, literature, music, death and more as he wanders the streets of Manhattan and has occasional interactions with friends and strangers, most of them immigrants like himself.  Beautiful prose, with crystalline descriptions of the city and crisp sketches of people.  Surprisingly compelling.

THE RADETZKY MARCH

Joseph Roth

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Written in 1932 by Joseph Roth, the under-appreciated Austrian-Jewish writer who died young of alcoholism in Paris a few years later, The Radetzky March depicts the waning of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the years before World War I.  It begins in 1859, at the Battle of Solferino, when a peasant-born lieutenant saves the life of the young Kaiser, Franz Joseph I, and is rewarded with elevation to the nobility.  The novel follows successive generations of the now-aristocratic von Trotta family into the bureaucracy and the military and into eventual disillusionment that parallels the collapse of the Empire.  Roth’s prose evokes a lost world on every page, not as nostalgic reverie but with a portrayal of the deadly effects of the monarchy on its subjects of all classes and with vivid, detailed descriptions of everything from the landscape to village life to an old man’s cuffs.  Brilliant.

 

ABBY P
BOOK NOOK Feature Writer Abby Pinard

Abby is a lifelong book nut who retired from a forty-year computer software career in 2007 and ticked an item off her bucket list by going to work in a bookstore. She is a native New Yorker who moved to Boston recently to be among her people:  family and Red Sox fans.  She is a music lover, crossword puzzler, baseball fan, and political junkie who flunked Halloween costumes but can debug her daughter’s wifi.

MEET MEMBER MARILYN BROOKS: MYSTERY MAVEN

At BOLLI, we seem to have a host of members who enjoy good mysteries. So, when I discovered that Marilyn Brooks writes a blog in which she reviews mysteries old and new, I went right for it–and it is, of course, terrific…as is Marilyn herself!

MEET MEMBER MARILYN BROOKS

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I’ve always been a reader, starting with Nancy Drew (my favorite, of course) and going on to Cherry Ames and Sue Barton.  The last two are nurses, but there were always mysteries in the novels.  I think I find mysteries so satisfying because there’s a definite plot to follow, a storyline that has to make sense to be successful.  And, of course, there’s always the fun of trying to guess the ending!

I don’t collect in that I don’t buy first editions or valuable books, but I do have a couple of hundred mysteries in my house.  Since I started writing my blog more than six years ago, publishers have even been sending me books to review, so I’ve been gratefully adding those to my bookshelves.

My husband Bob and I, both originally from Brooklyn, have been living in Needham for forty-six years.  We have two grown sons, two daughters-in-law, and four grandchildren.  I was the academic administrator for the Latin American and Latino Program at Brandeis for seventeen years, retiring in 2010.

Our older son Rich, who owns a web site design and social media company in Portland, Maine, kept saying I should start a blog because I read non-stop.  I countered by saying that I could not imagine why anyone would care what I thought.  He countered by saying that I knew more about mysteries than anyone he knew.  Eventually, he convinced me, and I reluctantly started blogging.  Turns out I love doing it.

I should add that, after a couple of years of blogging, my husband suggested contacting the author of each book I covered, letting him/her know about the review.  I started doing that, and I’ve been amazed by the positive responses I’ve had from authors, ranging from first-time writers to those who’ve been writing for decades.  Some have even linked to my blog from their Facebook pages or Twitter accounts.  Those letters, plus the excitement of getting new books from various publishers, add to the pleasure I get from writing a weekly blog.

I joined BOLLI in 2010, shortly after I retired from Brandeis.  Since then, I’ve taken two courses each semester and have also taken several winter/summer seminars–they’ve all been stimulating and enjoyable; I’ve learned so much on so many topics.  The SGLs have been uniformly excellent, and I’m always impressed by the knowledge that my classmates have on a wide variety of subjects.

My blog, published every Saturday, is www.marilynsmysteryreads.com.

NOVEMBER’S SENIOR MOMENT: A New Role Model for Aging

A NEW ROLE MODEL FOR AGING—THIS TIME FROM CHINA

by Eleanor Jaffe

A new role model for aging has emerged from China.  Known as China’s “hottest grandpa,” Deshun Wang still works as an actor, artist, disc jockey, and designer.  Last year, at the age of 79, he added “model” to his resume when, for the first time, he strode down a fashion runway, shirtless.  As one reporter put it, “His physique caused a national sensation.”

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Deshun’s approach to life defies Chinese norms for growing old.  Although many Chinese exercise early in the day, he reports that his exercise time is from to 3 to 6 pm and that he swims about one-half mile per day.  “Morning,” he says, “is my learning time. I read books and news.”

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In a society where the legal retirement age for women is 50 or 55 and 60 is the retirement age for most men, Deshun Wang defies all stereotypes for aging in China, present and past.

Early in the 1980’s (not so very long ago),  I traveled to China with my husband on a trip sponsored by the National Education Association.   I vividly recall one of our stops at a worker’s home.  Men and women, all of whom worked in nearby factories, lived in the large complex made of four-story apartment buildings that we visited that day.  Once retired, these workers remained with their extended families, taking care of their grandchildren.  We met one such family.  Four generations lived in a single small apartment—an elderly grandmother, her son, his retired wife, their grown son and daughter-in-law, and the younger couple’s small child all shared the space.

It is the grandmother who remains most vivid in my memory.  She was a tiny, frail, aged woman, and she sat perched on a high stool.  She had been born and raised before the communist Revolution, during the time when young girls still had their feet bound.  Those bindings grew more restrictive and painful as girls grew from latency to young adulthood when they would be married.  Bound feet were considered beautiful, an asset in the marriage market.  This old woman (who was in her 70s or 80s, whose son was about 55), wore no shoes, and her feet did not resemble any human feet that I had ever seen:  they were tiny, but the toes turned way under the arch reaching toward her heels. They were extraordinarily deformed, like claws or talons which seemed to be growing into the fleshy part of her heels.  Her feet could not possibly have supported her.  I doubt that she could walk at all.  Yet, this old woman represented, for probably hundreds of years prior to the Revolution, the image of what women should be like. An age-old model for aging.

I look forward to the day when China celebrates a new female role model:  energetic, striding forward toward the future, regarded as just capable as men, perhaps even a government leader.  Until that time, though, Deshun Wang is providing a new model, literally, for successful aging at least for men.

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Deshun Wang, print fashion model

He has some words of advice about aging that, for me, transcend our cultural differences:

“One way to tell if you’re old or not is to ask yourself, do you dare try something you’ve never done before?  It’s about your state of mind.  It’s not about age.  Nature determines age, but you determine your state of mind….People can change their lives as many times as they wish.”

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Thank you, Deshun.

To access The New York Times article, click here.

 

A “SWEEPING” MEMOIR by Margie Arons-Barron

A member of Marjorie Roemer’s current Memoir Writing course, Margie Arons-Barron recently shared this gem.  The group’s task was to write about a saying (or sayings) that was (or were) common in our families or communities.  Margie’s charmed all of us–and will do the same for you!

BURIED WITH HER BISSELL

By Margie Arons-Barron

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Great-aunt Rose was a bookkeeper at Flah’s Department Store in Syracuse, NY and a spinster.  I understood neither term. What I did know was that she had a pinched face and lived by the credo that “you clean up as you go along.”  I learned that that meant you didn’t wait for people to finish their meals in a leisurely way.  If their forks paused mid-air for conversation, she swooped in, scooped up their plates, and removed them to the kitchen.

Her sister, my nana, apparently inherited the Klein girls’ clean gene.  Nana had a big nose, ample bosom, and ear lobes like a cocker spaniel’s. She smoked Pall Mall cigarettes, especially when talking on the phone. When the call ended, she’d put out her smoke, dump the ashes, and wash the ash tray.  As soon as visiting friends started to leave, she’d appear with her Bissell carpet sweeper, methodically removing every piece of lint from the grey/green broadloom. She asked to be buried with the Bissell.

Nana taught me the rudiments of cooking, but it was really cook, clean, cook, clean. Wash and dry measuring cups halfway through the recipe. Wipe counter immediately when flour spilled. “Clean up as you go along,” she’d repeat.  “It will be so much easier.”  Her compulsion came from the shame she’d experienced long ago.  After a party she and Grandpa had given, they went to bed without cleaning up. Grandpa took sick during the night. When the doctor arrived at the house, he saw ashtrays overflowing, pots and pans in the sink, gold-edged dinner plates covered with congealed gravy, and high-ball glasses with Scotch diluted by melted ice cubes. Nana never got over the mortification.

Though doctors no longer make house calls, the obsession survives with me.  I still wash, dry, and put away the measuring spoons before the pan is in the oven. No matter how late guests depart, when I go to bed, the crystal is hand-washed and replaced in the cabinet. The serving pieces are dried and put away, the dishwasher is loaded and running. The table cloth and napkins are in the washing machine. It, too, is running. It’s a wonder I still entertain.

I’m not as bad as my Aunt Ethel. Once, when Uncle Mitch awoke at three a.m., she made his bed.  Grumbling, he took a pillow and went to sleep in the bathtub.

My husband grew up in a household where a trip to the refrigerator was an archeological dig. Chaos was called creativity. He has yet to learn that his cereal bowl gets dried and put away, not left to drain; that the knife from his banana will clean more easily if it doesn’t sit on the counter all day; that overnight soaking of casseroles is just an excuse for leaving the scrubbing to someone else.  He’d like to cook more, but he needs more clean-up practice to make that work.

“Clean up as you go along” is why I take care of the finances, not putting off paying bills on a monthly or even weekly schedule. It’s why my kids learned they could outwait me when it came to straightening their room, making their beds, or putting dirty jeans in the washer.

A clinician might accuse me of being anal. I say it’s efficiency and high executive skills.  Besides, it’s easier to clean up as you go along.

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Margie Arons-Barron

After a long and successful career as an editorial and political news director, Margie shifted her focus to writing memoir and even fiction when arriving at BOLLI this past year. In addition to Marjorie’s memoir course, she has taken Betsy Campbell’s fiction writing courses and has been an active member of the BOLLI Writers Guild.  She is now a member of 2018 BOLLI Journal staff as well.  She still keeps her hand in politics and issues of the day on her blog which you can reach by clicking here.

 

 

HOME COOKING JAZZ on MONDAY, NOV. 14: What’s Cooking?

Our resident DJ’s, Judith Stone and Nancy Connery, provide “Home Cooking Jazz,”  a weekly radio show on Mondays from 1:00-3:00 on WBRS 100.1 FM which you can also stream at WBRS.org.   So, what’s coming up on Monday?

“GO TO” EVERGREENS…

Even our pup Brioche is feeling in need of some comfort these days.

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Monday’s “Home Cooking Jazz” show will feature some of our “go to” music that we turn to when we’re in need of a lift.   These pieces are  what we call “Evergreens” because they have stood the test of time and have seen us through trying times.  This week, we’ll be including Ella, Billy, Louis, Sarah, Carmen, and others.

Carve out some chill time for yourself on Monday from 1:00 to 3:00  on WBRS Radio at 100.1 FM–or stream us live at WBRS.org.

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DJ’s Judith and Nancy

LEAVE IT TO LYDIA: Escaping Our Electronics

ESCAPING OUR ELECTRONICS

MEANING OF LIFE
Hmm…somebody needs a BOLLI Moment…

“Escaping our electronics” is a secondary benefit of the whole BOLLI experience.   In our BOLLI courses, we  seem to be reviving the art of conversation among many of us who became dependent on electronic devices during our career.  How wonderful that we discuss such an amazing variety of issues–global, political, emotional, and personal.   From my standpoint as a relative BOLLI newcomer,  I believe that we are actually raising the art of conversation to a higher level!

My first BOLLI class was The New Yorker Non-Fiction seminar in which a dynamic group discussed issues ranging from (of course) the election to medical ethics.  I found the first couple of classes to be a little intimidating, as I hadn’t participated in such a group for a long time.   But I loved the chosen readings and eventually spoke up–and I found that my voice was heard.  It didn’t matter where I had gone to college or even what my career had been.   I also felt quickly embraced by the BOLLI community and began to get to know some of my classmates.

Classmate Diane Winkleman, for example,  retired last December and wanted to try BOLLI as soon as she saw the ad in the paper.  “I was very excited to find a place that offers so much potential for interesting discussions, people, and new experiences.”  She especially likes the lunch time series and the variety in the classes. Recently,  she’s joined the CAST special interest group and is re-energizing her acting skills.

Suzanne Art’s Three Giants of the Northern Renaissance, an art history course, was Sue Wurster’s first BOLLI class in the Spring of 2015.  At the same time, she dived into 20th Century Women Poets, a five-week science fiction course, and even a five-week course in fiction writing.  “I really want to be a writer when I grow up,”  she says.  “I’ve been writing my whole life–but I had never actually finished anything.  So this was a big step for me.”   As for fellow BOLLI students, she says:  “These are some awesomely smart characters!”

Longtime  member Sandy Harris Traiger, a Brandeis alum, feels that BOLLI has changed her perspective on the world and nurtured her acceptance of different opinions and attitudes. She has been part of BOLLI since 2004 when she took a class taught by Sophie Freud about violence in World War II through literature.  Sandy’s husband joined the following year and, during one class, was reunited with some old friends from elementary school.  Sandy joined the International Friends group and enjoyed getting to know students from the Heller School.   She is very glad that the lunch programs have expanded to include such a diverse collection of timely speakers and issues, “I’m still here and still loving it.”

My first year at BOLLI has been fabulous! I have taken short stories classes, a fascinating literature course with Sophie Freud about adult daughters and their aging mothers, and an exciting memoir writing course with Marjorie Roemer.  I especially appreciated Sophie’s insightful analytical approach to literature as well as Marjorie’s writing.

BOLLI has given me the chance to turn off my devices and let me discover and hear my own voice.

BOLLI Matters Copy Editor and Writer, Lydia Bogar
BOLLI Matters writer Lydia Bogar

 

TECH TALK WITH JOHN RUDY: Searching is Not for the Faint of Heart

This month’s tech offering is all about the art of searching the internet–which is not really as daunting as it may seem.  

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Let’s start by getting a bit of terminology out of the way.

web browser (commonly referred to as a browser) is a software application for retrieving, presenting and traversing information resources on the World Wide Web.  The most common are Chrome and Internet Explorer though there have been many issues with Explorer so Microsoft is switching to Edge.  But Edge is not ready for prime time.  I suggest you all use Chrome though Safari and Firefox are good alternatives.  Chrome has about half the market.

web search engine is a software system that is designed to search for information on the Web, returning pages that meet specified criteria Google is the clear winner here.  Bing and Ask are becoming intrusive and sometimes you’ll find them taking over (the subject of a much longer discussion.

pie chart

There is a lot of data out there to search.  The following snippet is old and is probably off by a factor of 10.  BUT  ….   Luckily Google runs “web Crawlers” at night to make it easier to find data amongst all this.

search question 1

It is expected that by the end of the year there will be a zettabyte of bytes moved every year.   That is a million times bigger than a Petabyte.  Most if not all of you use Google but it turns out that you can use it better.  There are books and articles with hundreds of examples of things that you can do; I’m just going to mention a few.

  • Put your most important search term first
  • “George washington” (caps don’t matter) is NOT the same as George Washington.  Putting quotation marks around the words indicates that you want to find the two words together in the page.
  • Take advantage of exclusion. “George Washington” –bridge will exclude all references that include the word bridge
  • Google makes a lot of smart guesses. Delta 1431 will get you the status of the flight.  02420 will get you the zipcode and bring up a map of Lexington.  781 will bring up the area code.  You can even put in Fedex or UPS numbers.  Put in Red Sox and you will get the information on the current game including a link for box scores, etc.
  • When you return a search, the words Search Tool is near the top. Click on that and you will see the words “any time” with a downward arrow.  Click on the arrow and you’ll see that you can restrict the time range for the search.  This is very important as it removes a lot of obsolete information.
  • For those with a mathematical bent, you can set up a Boolean Search, viz: snowmobile and (snowblower or Green Bay). But you don’t need the “and”
  • The asterisk is a wild card. The search for three * mice will allow any middle word
  • Define happy goes out to the dictionary for the word happy.  (I used that a lot when I was reading The Iliad.)
  • You can do math or currency conversion . You can even say 176 in roman numerals, and it returns the right answer.  1 a.u./c returns 8.31675359 min, with “a.u.” meaning “astronomical units” and c is the speed of light.
  • If you type in a location, you can get directions, a map, and  markings for traffic problems. You can even ask for a walking or bicycle route rather than a car route.
  • You can ask questions: double quarter pounder with cheese has * calories

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This is just scratching the surface.  We could have a 1-2 hour talk on the subject!

BOLLI Tech Talker John Rudy
BOLLI Tech Talker John Rudy

John, a long time computer expert and guide, provides his helpful hints in this monthly BOLLI Matters feature.  In the comment box below, provide questions on searching or any other computer/tech topic that you’d like to know more about in future Tech Talk articles.

john.rudy@alum.mit.edu (781-861-0402)

 

 

 

 

OCTOBER’S BOOK NOOK: Three Books about WWII

This month, our Book Nook feature writer Abby Pinard provides three selections focusing on World War II.

HHhH

Laurent Binet, 2013

(translated from the French by Sam Taylor)

HHhH

Himmlers Hirn heist Heydrich. Himmler’s brain is called Heydrich.

Reinhard Heydrich — the butcher of Prague, the blond beast, the man with the iron heart – was one of the cruelest and most feared of the high-ranking Nazis. Chief of security and an architect of the final solution, he was named Reichprotector of Bohemia and Moravia, the Czech states annexed by Germany, and was charged with crushing Czech resistance and all vestiges of Czech culture, “Germanizing” the desirable population and eliminating the undesirables. On May 27, 1942, as he was being driven to work in Prague in an open black (or possibly dark green) Mercedes convertible, he was the subject of an assassination attempt by Jan Kubiš, a Czech, and Jozef Gabčik, a Slovak, who had been trained for their mission in London and parachuted into Czechoslovakia several months earlier. “Operation Anthropoid” didn’t go off exactly as planned but the reprisals were as brutal as might have been expected. (Note: “Anthropoid,” a British-French-Czech film based on these events but unrelated to this novel was released recently to mostly positive reviews.)

The narrator of  HHhH, who may be the author, has spent years studying Operation Anthropoid – it would be fair to say he is obsessed with it – and in telling the story presents a parallel narrative about his struggles with how to tell the story. While the digressions might be expected to be distracting, the opposite is true. The narrator’s “eureka” moments when he unearths a key book, his decisions on what to include and exclude, his commentary on other novels based on historical fact, his musings on what drives people to extraordinary acts of cruelty and heroism serve to bring us closer to the story. And when it counts most, as the Mercedes approaches the bend in Holešovice Street where the assassins are waiting, he lets the story take over and propel us forward as if we don’t know what will happen.

At the end of the book, our narrator tells us that Kubiš and Gabčik are today viewed as heroes, celebrated in their homeland. But he describes himself as worn out by his “muddled efforts” to pay tribute to the many people who helped the assassins at great risk and great cost and who remain largely unknown.

…I tremble with guilt at the thought of all those hundreds, those thousands, whom I have allowed to die anonymously. But I want to believe that people exist even if we don’t speak of them. 

Laurent Binet has spoken of them and has written a novel that is both suspenseful and profound. Highly recommended.


Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris, 1932

Francine Prose, 2014

Chameleon Club

In Francine Prose’s popular book about reading and writing, Reading Like a Writer, she advocates “close reading.” Only by slowing down and carefully reading every word can we understand what is said and what is not said – the nuances of meaning that the writer has worked so hard to put into every word and into the spaces between the words. That’s good advice when reading any serious writer and of course when reading Prose. (Is there a writer with a better name?)

Even as Lou’s downward slide was gathering momentum, she prided herself on maintaining certain standards and not losing touch, as many of her neighbors were, with basic human decency and compassion. She was slow to come on board with the measures against the Jews, however much she personally disliked them. She knew that harsh tactics were sometimes required. She’d waited on line at the Palais Berlitz to see an informative exhibition entitled “The Jew and France,” where a display confirmed what she’d long suspected: behind every scandal lurked a Jew. Still, she didn’t enjoy seeing children herded through the streets at gunpoint. Once she was almost hurt by some idiot cops hurling crockery down from an apartment at a terrified Jewish family being loaded into a van.

“Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris, 1932” is the title of the emblematic photograph that launches Gabor Tsenyi’s career. It is a picture of two women, a cross-dressing athlete named Lou Villars, who will become France’s first female race car driver and then an infamous Nazi collaborator, and Arlette, her lover, who will leave Lou for a powerful cop/gangster. This assured, atmospheric novel covers a lot of ground – love and betrayal, good and evil, war and its aftermath, the mutability of truth – and ultimately packs a powerful punch. It opens in 1928 and tracks the transformation of Lou Villars from unhappy child to disappointed lover to monster, a life based on a real woman named Violette Morris. It is to Prose’s credit that we sympathize with Lou even as she betrays the country she professes to love. Other characters are also inspired by real-life figures, including the Hungarian photographer Brassai and there’s a dissolute American writer who resembles Henry Miller.

Prose makes the Chameleon Club the locus of the decadence and desperate good times of Paris in the jazz age and she circles back to it through occupation and war. The story is told and retold in alternating chapters by different narrators through excerpts from a biography of Lou Villars, letters, journals and a memoir, each presumed to be self-serving and unreliable. Taken together they paint a picture that captures the conflicted loyalties of a giddy and terrible time, a picture that surely contains the truth but in whose version? History is as changeable as gender roles at the Chameleon Club and this captivating novel is stunning in its contemplation of its meaning.


Love & Treasure

Ayelet Waldman, 2014

Waldman

This is a solid effort by Ayelet Waldman. She has chosen a subject — unearthing the stories of those lost in the Holocaust — that has too often been taken up by mediocre (or worse) writers and riddled with melodrama and cliché. Waldman does better. She centers the novel on the historical “Hungarian Gold Train,” crammed with millions of dollars worth of gold, jewels, furs, and household goods that have been “collected” from the Jews of Hungary. When the train, on its way to Germany in 1945, is intercepted by the victorious Allies near Salzburg, Austria, a promise is made to return the goods to their rightful owners or heirs but the impracticality of the task, not to mention that the brass have quarters to furnish, doom that intention and most of the items simply disappear in the fog of post-war Europe.

The novel’s primary protagonists are Jack Wiseman, who as a young American soldier was put in charge of the contents of the train, and his granddaughter Natalie, who he asks just before his death to find the rightful owner of a pendant he himself impulsively pilfered. The story is told in three parts: Jack’s stewardship of the confiscated goods in 1945; Natalie’s present-day search in Europe and Israel for an heir of the pendant’s owner; and an entertaining narration by a Viennese psychoanalyst of his treatment of a headstrong young Jewish woman in 1913.

Waldman covers a lot of ground and the plot threads are not all equally well executed. In particular, two love stories are clichéd and unconvincing and the grandfather/granddaughter relationship is toothache-inducing. But she eschews the simplistic good/evil paradigm so common in fiction about the Holocaust and takes a more realistic view of a complex moral universe. Bottom line: This is well-written, absorbing historical fiction marred only slightly by a bit of sentimentality.

ABBY P
BOOK NOOK Feature Writer Abby Pinard

Abby is a lifelong book nut who retired from a forty-year computer software career in 2007 and ticked an item off her bucket list by going to work in a bookstore. She is a native New Yorker who moved to Boston recently to be among her people:  family and Red Sox fans. She is a music lover, crossword puzzler, baseball fan, and political junkie who flunked Halloween costumes but can debug her daughter’s wifi.

 

 

 

Comments are most welcome–just jot your thoughts in the box below!

LUNCHTIME FARE for Week 6 (Oct. 31 – Nov. 3)

Our lunchtime pursuits will carry us far and wide this week, introducing us to a host of truly fascinating people!

lunchbag

EXPLORING THE WORLD OF “HEALTHY” ART COLLECTING

First, on Monday, October 31, we’ll hear from Barry Dorn on The Private Art Collector:  Why How I Go about It.  Dorn’s background as an orthopedic surgeon who moved from the operating theatre to the development of the arena of health care negotiation and conflict resolution.  He taught at Tufts University School of Medicine and was on the Health Services faculty at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.  In addition, he has been involved in the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative (NPLI) as its Associate Director.

BARRY DORN 2
Art Collector Barry Dorn

Last fall, BOLLI member Elaine Dohan, a self-avowed “museum bum,” went with her pals to the Danforth.  She says that “The museum was quite empty, but there was one couple  in the gallery, and we began to chat.  He seemed to know a great deal about modern art and was very excited about the artist being shown.  We were very impressed with the photography also on display.  So we ended up walking together through both galleries, exchanging viewpoints, etc.  It was really fun.  And we learned some interesting stuff.  He apparently has a large, excellent private collection of contemporary art.   When we finally had to separate, he introduced himself and his wife.  I immediately recognized his name – and he, mine.  He was the closest of friends with my now deceased brother-in-law. I had heard about him for years!  So!  The invitation to speak at BOLLI followed.”

Not only will Barry share his personal story with us, but he will provide some “Do and Don’t” hints about surrounding ourselves with beautiful objects.

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A CONSERVATIVE CONDUCTS  CLIMATE CHANGE CRUSADE

On Tuesday, we’ll shift to a completely different area when Kerry Emanuel of MIT will speak on What We Know about Climate Change.

Dr. Emanuel is professor of atmospheric science at MIT who has written over 200 scientific papers as well as several books, including Divine Wind: The History and Science of Hurricanes.  His resume includes a great number of scientific achievements and awards, but Kerry Emanuel has had an unusually vivid career as a scientist.  In fact, he was listed by Time magazine as one of the “100 Most Influential People” of 2006—not an accomplishment typical of the average teaching scientist.

Kerry Emanuel

On January 5, 2011, the Los Angeles Times published an article, “Scientist Proves Conservatism and Belief in Climate Change Aren’t Incompatible.” According to reporter Neela Banerjee, Emanuel is “among a rare breed of conservative scientists who are sounding the alarm of climate change and criticizing the Republican’s ‘agenda of denial’ and ‘anti-science stance.’ As a politically conservative climatologist who accepts the broad scientific consensus on global warming, Emanuel occupies a position shared by only a few scientists.”

In her article, Banerjee goes on to point out that the vast majority of Republicans elected to Congress during the midterm election, at that point, doubt climate science, and senior congressional conservatives — both Republican and Democrat —vowed to fight the Obama administration’s efforts to curtail greenhouse gas emissions.

“That’s why scientists such as Emanuel rattle the political pigeonholes,” she continued.  “Some are speaking out, using their expertise and conservative credentials to challenge what many researchers consider widespread distortions about climate change.”

Emanuel dislikes applying the word “skeptic” to those who deny climate change. He says all scientists are skeptical; that’s the nature of the field. He said that his own innate skepticism meant that it simply took him longer than his colleagues to be persuaded of climate change.

In 2013, with other leading experts, Emanuel co-authored an open letter to U.S. policy makers which stated that “continued opposition to nuclear power threatens humanity’s ability to avoid dangerous climate change.”

Kerry Emanuel 2

Professor Emanuel’s extensive and fascinating website:  http://eaps4.mit.edu/faculty/Emanuel/

And for Emanuel testifying before Congress, go to:  https://youtu.be/12kMjUkNl5Y

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LET’S DO LUNCH!  WEDNESDAY 2ND PERIOD STUDY GROUPS

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On Wednesday,  2nd period study groups (John Clark’s American Music of the Fifties; David Moskowitz’s The Great Graham Greene; Favorite Historical Fiction with Sophie Freud; and Gods and Broads with Lois Ziegelman) will have a chance to extend their conversations and get to know each other better over lunch.  Once again, our inimitable Membership Committee will be providing dessert!

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DIGGING BOSTON’S UNDERGROUND SCENE…

Joe Bagley 2
Boston Archaeology Finding

On Thursday, we turn to the world of archaeology–of the urban variety.  Joe Bagley, Boston’s city archaeologist, will focus on A History of Boston in 50 Artifacts, taking us on a quick tour of 10,000 years of Boston history as brought to life by a host of artifacts excavated through archaeological digs in the Hub. Joe, who has been conducting archaeological surveys and digs on sites all along the New England coast for over a decade, is a devoted native.  He received in BA in Archeaology from BU and his MA in Historical Archaeology from UMass Boston.  He lives in Dorchester with his wife and dog.

Joe Bagley
Boston’s City Archaeologist Joe Bagley

For a short interview with Joe about his Boston Latin dig, go to:

http://www.bostonpreservation.org/allianceviews/2015/06/an-interview-with-city-archaeologist-joe-bagley/

Follow Boston Archaeology on Twitter:  https://twitter.com/bostonarchaeo

And on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/BostonArchaeologyProgram/

UPCOMING EVENTS OF INTEREST from Suzanne and Anita

One of our first BOLLI artist member profiles was that of painter Suzanne Hodes, and one of our most recent focused on botanical arranger Anita Glickman.  Both have events coming up during the first weekend in November to which they’d like to invite the BOLLI community.

WALTHAM MILLS OPEN STUDIOS

Suzanne’s Artists West Studio (Studio #3 on the 2nd floor of the Ira Gordon Arts Center at 144 Moody Street in Waltham )  will be open from 12 to 6 on Saturday and Sunday, November 5 & 6.  (She will be there between 1 and 5.)

“I will be showing paintings, mixed media works on paper, monotypes and etchings,” Suzanne says.  “My themes this year include a new series of water reflections inspired by walking along the Charles River, city reflections inspired by New York and a range of themes in my prints.”

This fall, two of Suzanne’s large water reflection paintings have been purchased by Newton Wellesley Hospital for their new cardiovascular center.

Trees Reaching Down, oil on canvas, 46x36, 2016
Trees Reaching Down, oil on canvas, 46×36, 2016
Window Reflection with Flag 2, oil on canvas, 30x40, 2002
Window Reflection with Flag 2, oil on canvas, 30×40, 2002

More images can be found on Suzanne’s extensive website   www.suzannehodes.com

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Anita Glickman’s garden club sponsors this annual Needham event.

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Since 1997, the annual Needham Antiques Show and Sale has featured as many as 50 dealers from 7 states selling a wide variety of quality antiques.  Items include 18th to early 20th century furniture, Americana, fine antique glass and china, porcelain, Orientalia, painting and early prints, antique and estate jewelry, silver, books, primitives, textiles, decorative accessories and more.

The Beth Shalom Garden Club sponsors this annual event, and proceeds support the group’s planting projects at the Vietnam Memorial, doing garden therapy at the Charles River Workshop, making donations to the Needham High School and Needham’s Art in Bloom and other ventures.

From the 2015 Needham show--
From the 2015 Needham show–furniture, art, textiles, quilts, and more…

Have an event coming up that you think BOLLI members might enjoy?  Send to Sue at susanlwurster@gmail.com.

 

OCTOBER’S SENIOR MOMENT: “I Salute You”

This month’s Senior Moment comes from Liz David who says:

As I was going through my materials in preparation for my class on “aging,” I came across a letter written from one friend to another in the year 1513.   When I found it, I felt like I had been given a gift.  To me, in these troubling times, it is a reminder of what may/could lie beneath the surface of our lives as they come into the home stretch.

I SALUTE YOU

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                   A Letter Written by Fra Giovanni Giocondo to a Friend                 in the year 1513

I am your friend, and my love for you goes deep. There is nothing I can give you which you have not; but there is much, very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take.  No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. Take heaven! No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant.  Take peace!

The gloom of the world is but a shadow.  Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy.  There is radiance and glory in darkness, could we but see; and to see, we have only to look.  I beseech you to look.

Life is so generous a giver, but we, judging its gifts by their covering, cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard.  Remove the covering and you will find beneath it a living splendour, woven of love by wisdom, with power.

Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch the angel’s hand that brings it to you.  Everything we call a trial, a sorrow, or a duty, believe me, that angel’s hand is there; the gift is there, and the wonder of an overshadowing presence.  Our joys, too, be not content with them as joys.  They, too, conceal divine gifts.

Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty beneath its covering that you still find earth but cloaks your heaven.  Courage then to claim it; that is all!  But courage you have and the knowledge that we are pilgrims together wending through unknown country home.

And so, at this time, I greet you; not quite as the world sends greetings but with profound esteem, and with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and shadows flee away.

 

Eleanor and Liz
Senior Moment Feature Writers Eleanor Jaffe and Liz David

LUNCHTIME FARE, for Week 5 (Oct. 24-27)

This term, we’re taking a new tack with regard to Lunch & Learn.   Rather than covering each week’s offerings after they have occurred, we’re providing more information about the speakers slated for the week to come.  The blog makes it possible to send you to websites and even videos that may introduce our upcoming programs in much greater depth.  

lunchbag

So, what’s on our Lunch & Learn docket for the coming week?

LEO

MONDAY:   John Cumbler, retired University of Louisville Professor of History will talk about Abolitionists and Reform Movements in 19th Century New England.  Cumbler has written seven books, held numerous fellowships here and abroad, and rescues large marine animals.  (He is also our own Sally Fleschner’s brother!)

JOHN CUMBLER

When Googling Cumbler, I  ran across an item written by University of Louisville colleague, Ricky L. Jones, who describes Cumbler as quite the dynamo.  (Political philosopher Jones is Professor and Chair of Pan-African Studies at Louisville and hosts a radio show on Louisville’s 93.1 Beat FM.)

For Jones’ Article, go to:  http://www.leoweekly.com/2014/02/john-cumbler-and-american-historys-238-shades-of-gray/

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TUESDAY:  Andrew Kolodny’s topic will be Responding to the Prescription Opioid and Heroin Crisis: An Epidemic of Addiction.   In 1967, a group of heroin addicts met in a detox program in a New York City hospital and began to work together to overcome their dependence on the drug.  Eventually, they moved into a West Side brownstone where they lived together as a community, helping each other to remain sober.  Phoenix House was born.  Now located in cities all across this nation, the Phoenix House structure and approach to treatment has become a model for effective rehabilitation.ANDREW KOLODNY

Kolodny serves as Chief Medical Officer of Phoenix House and as Executive Director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing.  His extensive background and exceptional training are surpassed only by the depth of his passionfor those struggling to find the path to lasting recovery.

For more information about Phoenix House, go to:  www.phoenixhouse.org

And to hear Dr. Kolodny speak at a “Fed Up Rally” in 2014, go to: https://youtu.be/Xm5WKhLpDS8

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WEDNESDAY:   We’ll shift to the sports world when Ben Volin will speak on Salary Cap 101: How Economics Drive the NFL.  Volin, the national NFL writer for the Boston Globe, has covered all of the major Patriots stories since 2013—including the team’s Super Bowl championship, the Aaron Hernandez situation, and Deflategate.  A Southerner, Ben grew up in Montgomery County in Maryland and went to Emery and then University of Florida for graduate school.  Before coming to Boston, he spent eight years at the Palm Beach Post where he covered the Miami Dolphins and Florida Gators.  Clearly, he knows the NFL!

BEN VOLIN

To see Ben in action and enjoy his upbeat style, take a look at this video from a year or so ago after a Patriots’ loss to the Packers:  https://youtu.be/0lNErGEA35g

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And on Thursday, 2nd period classes are invited to stay after class and eat together.  (The Membership Committee will provide dessert.)  This is an excellent time for continuing great classroom conversation and getting to know classmates.  Bring your lunch and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

AND SO, THE SILENCE: PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS, 2016…with Eleanor Jaffe

AND SO, THE SILENCE:  PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS, 2016

election

By Eleanor Jaffe

No subject has more completely dominated my thinking  these past few months than the crisis of our presidential election of 2016.  Not since 1968 when I was a delegate to the Democratic Convention in Chicago from the State of New Mexico have I been more passionate  and worried about the state of our nation and our politics.   In the 60’s, I and many of you were so agitated by the  continuous war in Vietnam and its harmful effects on our families and our entire generation that we were moved to political action.  Today, 2016, I worry every day about where our nation is headed.  I read the papers voraciously and watch the talking heads on television (especially those who support my positions). I wring my hands, write postcards of support for my candidate, but I feel helpless.  From what I can tell,  there is little political action from our generation (except for political donations).  Just a feeling of powerlessness and worry.

This 2016 election is gut wrenching, corrosive, and divisive.  Among our friends, there is uniform agreement:  the political stakes are monumentally high.  Our very democracy seems imperiled.  And how can “the other side” (who otherwise are seemingly good people) believe in the rightness of their candidate and the positions that candidate supports?  A strange political silence falls on our social meetings.  By tacit agreement, the subject of politics doesn’t come up.  It is too hot a potato to bring up in polite social gatherings.  We fear that political discussion with someone whose allegiances are from the “other” political party will result in the end of our friendship.   And so, the silence…. Have you noticed this, too?  (Even here I sidestep naming the two candidates and their parties:  too divisive for a collegial group like ours.  Our cohesion as a group might feel imperiled.)

Ironically, some issues at stake in this presidential election directly affect people in our age group.  These issues have received scant mention and no debate.  Among them are:  Social Security and its future financial viability;  medicare benefits and associated health costs;  and raising minimum wages to $15 per hour since many people in their 70’s need to continue to work in order to survive economically.

Long term care goes undiscussed, although it merits widespread political discourse.  Cokie Roberts of NPR writes:  “Fully a third of households in America are taking care of an elderly or disabled member,” but most Americans don’t anticipate needing long term care until  a significant health crisis develops in their families. Nursing home care costs, on average, $80,300 per year in a semi-private room;  a home health care aide working 6 hours a day costs $45,760.  It is conjectured that this issue has not “bubbled up” from the grassroots because caregivers are completely consumed by their responsibilities.

People in the U.S. who are 71 years old and older form 12% of the electorate, so we form a powerful voting block since a high percentage of us vote.  Many contribute financially to the candidate(s) they support.  We may even exert a more powerful influence on the outcome of the elections than our 12% indicates if we all vote.  The “millennials” outnumber us by far, but we hear they are disenchanted by the presidential choices and may sit out this election.  This is so different from our generation.  When we were in our 20’s in the late 60’s, we were a powerful and energizing political force.  

Let us actively commit to the candidate of our choice and find ways to actively support that candidate.  The stakes are incredibly high.  Could you live with the alternative choice?  Would our democracy survive?

TECH TALK WITH JOHN RUDY: Additional Security Issues

TECH TALK WITH JOHN RUDY:  ADDITIONAL SECURITY ISSUES

tech talk

In August,  I talked about the importance of proper passwords for your computer life and stressed that using the same password for everything risks that someone able to find it has access to your whole life.  I also said that simple passwords like your spouse’s first name or the name of your first pet are too easy to crack.   Thanks to Facebook and easy hacker tools, data about you is readily available so you have to come up with complex passwords at least 8 characters long.  So how can you remember all this?  The first step is to get them off paper and into a computer file, like an Excel spreadsheet.  But don’t name the spreadsheet “passwords” and put it into a folder called “important computer information”.

Any file on your computer can be encrypted.  Yes, I know that is one more password to remember.  Depending on the version of Microsoft Office you have, there are somewhat different processes, and you can Google to find them.  For Word 2010 or Excel 2010, click on FILE, then on INFO, then on PROTECT DOCUMENT and you can supply a password.

IMPORTANT: practice this on some test documents until you are sure you remember just how to do it.

Quite a few companies sell password Managers (protected by a password) where you can store all your passwords and information about the passwords.  These managers make it easy to retrieve the password you want from a variety of devices (desktop, laptop, smartphone, and tablet).  Here is a review from PC Magazine of the best password Managers in 2016.  There is a lot of interesting material in this article and it is interesting to me that the PW Managers most talked about a couple of years ago are no longer on this list. http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2407168,00.asp

To switch topics …

I received a note asking me about the unsubscribe link found at the bottom of many emails sent by commercial companies. The question (reminds me of Marathon Man) was “Is it safe?”  Well, that depends.  If you are certain that the email is from a legitimate company, then the unsubscribe is a perfect way to stop getting their email.  But sometimes, the email is unsolicited and might be what is called phishing.  It looks like it is from a legitimate company but is not, and the unsubscribe is a trick to get you to click on to a link that will import malware to your computer.  But let’s say that the email is from a legitimate source.  Then hitting the unsubscribe tells the sender that you are real, and that may give it information about you that is tucked into your response, setting you up for other advertising from complicit companies.  I recently got an email containing an unsubscribe link.  The source address on it was UNO@unoinsiderclub.com.  I suspect it is okay, but anyone can buy an address like that.  The UNO home page is unos.com so I would have been more comfortable if I had received the email from that url or a subset of that url.

Next month’s talk will be on travel, but before we get to that, here is a reminder: Take out all the credit cards and other stuff (like SS card and license) in your wallet and place it on your printer.  Take pictures of both sides. Then take a picture of your passport.  Put these pictures in your safe deposit box and another safe place in your house so if your wallet is stolen you know what the crooks have.  Why not limit it to your safe deposit box?  Because if the theft is Saturday at 4pm you won’t be able to get to the safe deposit box until Monday morning.

 

 

 

GET INVOLVED IN BOLLI MATTERS!

we need you 2

Our Brandeis sponsored blog has provided all of us with a wonderful opportunity to get involved in BOLLI Matters  both in and outside 60 Turner Street.   And there’s a role for YOU in this venture–which, if you wish, you can play from the comfort of your own home!

out and about

How about contributing to upcoming features like “Out & About” focusing on favorite restaurants, museums, galleries, theatre, and more in the area?

movie night

Or “The Screening Room, ” sharing favorite movies–both large and small screen–that other BOLLI members might enjoy? Have an idea for a feature you’d like to do?

meet our members

And how about the people you’re meeting at BOLLI?  Have ideas about members you’d like to see profiled?

idea

Other ideas for BOLLI Matters material?   All suggestion are welcome!

MEIt’s easy!  Just send your contribution to BOLLI Matters editor Sue Wurster at susanlwurster@gmail.com  in whatever form you like and are comfortable using–writing by hand, writing in the body of an email,  writing in a document attached to email…

 

 

 

LUNCHTIME FARE, Week 3 (Sept. 26 – 29)

As our brief recap indicates, we continued to explore quite a wide range of interesting topics during this week’s Lunch and Learn sessions and, on Tuesday, enjoyed another opportunity to get to know our classmates.

lunchbag

“LESSONS FROM WRITING AN ADVICE COLUMN”

WURSTER Lunch & Learn Advice Columnist
Boston Globe Columnist Meredith Goldstein

On Monday, we were treated to a talk by Boston Globe columnist Meredith Goldstein who writes both the paper’s “Names” and “Love Letters” features.  With the BOLLI audience, she focused on her experience with the column and some of the lessons she has learned along the way.  The column has had a “reverse publication” history—it started on line and then went to print.  Soon, it will be a feature in the Sunday magazine as well.  In “Love Letters,” readers find a request for advice, Goldstein’s response, and a host of comments from others which she refers to as “the largest group therapy” possible.  Over the past seven years, she has organized events giving commenters opportunities to meet each other–two marriages have even occurred as a result.  She hadn’t realized that an online enterprise of this sort could have such real-life effects.  Along the way, she realized that she had some “isms” she needed to address herself.  One of her most loyal commenters, “Two Sheds,” for example, turned out to be a male in his thirties rather than the woman in her fifties that she has assumed.  “Two Sheds’ responses just seemed too thoughtful to have come from a guy,” she said, rolling her eyes at herself.  For her, in fact, the hardest part of the job has been feeling responsible for protecting her letter writers.  To check out the column, go to: http://loveletters.boston.com/

love letters logo

 

“MEASURING RETURNS TO HEALTHCARE”

WURSTER Lunch & Learn Healthcare
MIT Sloan School Associate Professor Joseph Doyle

Joseph Doyle of MIT’s Sloan School talked about our healthcare system on Wednesday.  “We’re spending twice as much on healthcare as other countries do,” Doyle said and then asked, “Is our higher spending actually worth it?”  He then went on to talk about various approaches being taken in order to try to answer this and other questions.  He talked about “Random Experimentation,” “Natural Experiments,” and “Hot Spotting” (such as that being done in conjunction with the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers), but, overall, indicated that additional measures need to be developed in order to address the question comprehensively.  In all, he indicated, people recognize the value of health care and are willing to pay a lot for it, but they also recognize that it has the potential to bankrupt us.  We need to find credible ways to determine whether or not our care (and/or more care) is worth it.   This session sparked a variety of questions among BOLLI members, and, as many headed to their third period classes, he stayed to talk with several who were interested in finding out more.

“MAKING AGRICULTURE WORK FOR THE WORLDS POOREST”

serotta
Root Capital’s Director of Investor Relations, Rachel Serotta

Thursday’s program introduced BOLLI members to a unique financial program called Root Capital.  Rachel Serotta, the program’s director of investor relations, provided a glimpse of just what Root Capital is all about.   A truly impressive venture, Root Capital is making a difference in some of the world’s poorest populations.  To get the true flavor of this program, take a look at the Root Capital website provided here.      https://www.rootcapital.org/

root capital

AND WHEN WE RETURN…

Michael Daly of Raytheon will talk about cybersecurity.  Physician and epidemiologist Doug Huber will talk about “Infections Old and New.”  BOLLI’s own Phil Radoff will talk about Mozart’s Don Giovanni  which local audiences will be able to enjoy on the big screen soon after Phil’s introduction.  And James Mandrell of Brandeis’ film studies program will talk about Singin’ in the Rain and “Four Myths of Hollywood Movie Musicals.”

 

 

LUNCHTIME FARE, Week 2 (Sept. 19-22)

This week’s lunchtime programming was a uniquely varied one in which there truly was “something for everyone” to enjoy.

lunchbag

On Monday, those taking classes during second period were invited to have lunch together in their classrooms.  A large number of BOLLI members took advantage of this opportunity to get to know each other–and to enjoy the dessert cookie plates provided by the Membership Committee.  Next week, those taking classes during second period will have their turn for their own convivial gathering!

BOLLI Member Ann Kazer introduces Karen MacDonald
BOLLI Member Ann Kazer introduces actress Karen MacDonald Below, MacDonald in action. (Photos by Helen Abrams)

On Tuesday, local actress Karen MacDonald who is currently concluding a run at the New Rep Theater in the family drama, Regular Singing, came to BOLLI to talk about her “Life in the Theatre.”   MacDonald, whose father died when she was only three, says she often withdrew to her room to have “strangely satisfying” conversations with her him as she was growing up in Norwood.  At nine, she was cast as Pinocchio and was “hooked.”  She’s been telling stories, acting, doing         MACDONALD3improvisation, and more ever since.  She feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with directors from all over the world and to tour Europe where much artistic work is government subsidized.  At the same time, though, she is troubled by the fact that so many artists struggle here.  Responding to a question from the audience, she acknowledged that, yes, it is harder to find parts for older women, these days.  But she is looking forward to the truly meaty role she’ll play in her next venture.  After the curtain closes on Regular Singing, she’ll be heading to Jupiter, Florida to play the Helen Mirren role in The Audience. 

ANTLER
Professor Emerita Joyce Antler (online photo)

Wednesday’s program featured Joyce Antler, Brandeis Professor Emerita of American Studies and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies.  A noted social and cultural historian, Antler’s special interests have included the history of both American women and American Jewish women.  The author of several books reflecting those interests, she spoke about her upcoming title, Ready to Turn the World Upside Down, about the role of American Jewish women in the women’s liberation movement in the U.S.  What seems to have surprised her most when she began her work on this particular volume was that so many of the members of the feminist movement were Jewish but never talked about that with each other or their audiences.  In fact, she says, it wasn’t until after the 1975 U.N. Conference on Women in Mexico City that Betty Friedan talked about the role that her Judaism played in her development as a social activist.  In this book, Antler profiles forty influential Jewish feminist women who struggled to declare their identities in a hostile environment.  “They were both insiders and outsiders at the same time,” she noted.  Antler provided a  fascinating look at a pivotal period of time.

Lane at Weston's Organ
Lane at Weston’s Organ

And, finally, on Thursday, musicology Ph.D. candidate Alexander Lane did a return engagement to 60 Turner Street to provide the BOLLI audience with yet another rousing piano concert.

A versatile artist,  Lane provides everything from classical to contemporary favorites.  He is also an accomplished organist who serves as a Weston church organist.  To see him in action, click on this link:   https://youtu.be/KmmYQVJlLEM

AND WHAT’S COMING UP NEXT WEEK?

Next week’s programs reflect an equally varied range of interests.  On Monday, Meredith Goldstein of the Boston Globe will share “Lessons from Writing an Advice Column,” and on Tuesday, the members of Tuesday’s second period classes will have a chance to get to know each other over lunch.  On Wednesday, an MIT Sloan School professor will talk about our healthcare investments, and the week will wrap up with a talk about root capital and agriculture.

Make Lunch & Learn part of your weekly schedule!  You can place an order for lunch (before 10 am) from South Street Cafe to be delivered to the bench outside Matt’s office Turner Street.

SOUTH STREET CAFE

For the South Street Café Menu:  https://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/south-street-cafe-waltham?select=VxMI2ZsVrZviEeUdr7jNPw

LUNCHTIME FARE, Week 1 (Sept. 12-15)

lunchbagThe gathering space was full this week  for another term of “Lunch and Learn” programs.  We went from politics to entertainment and ended up with social media…  

And next week?  The first lunch “with class,”  life in the theatre, women’s liberation and Jewish identity,  and a “classics to ragtime” piano concert.

Missed any of this week’s offerings?  Here’s a recap–

BALLOT QUESTIONS, CANDIDATES, AND THE 2016 ELECTION

Jay Kaufman, Democratic State Representative – 15th Congressional District

TRAIGER Jay Kaufman
Congressman Jay Kaufman (photo by Harris Traiger)

In our first Lunch & Learn program of the term, we focused on—what else?—the political scene, and Congressman Kaufman shared three of his deepest concerns about our current political climate.

First, he believes that our system would be much healthier with greater participation in it.  Most of our state legislature, this, will be returning to office without having faced any serious challenge.  A significant number, in fact, will do so after running unopposed.  And this means that we simply aren’t having real dialogue about the issues we must be addressing.

Second, Kaufman talked about how a trip to China helped him to see that Americans have to start seeing the world differently.  Since Vietnam, he says, the U.S. has not been seen as “the model” for the world.  And this means that we need to do some serious reflection on who are as a nation in the world today.  We need to create a new self-image.

Finally, Kaufman says he believes that Trump has revealed or “unleashed” some of our nation’s deepest and darkest fears and animosities.  We can’t deal with those things if we don’t face them, so we can thank the candidate for bringing them to the fore.  But rather than getting caught up in exploitation, we need to engage in meaningful dialogue to find our way out of those deep and dark places.

TRAIGER Fran Feldman at Jay Kaufman L&L
Fran Feldman asks about charter schools (photo by Harris Traiger)

Moving to ballot questions, Kaufman indicated that four are coming up in our state: 1) gaming, 2) expanding charter schools, 3) caged animals, and 4) the recreational use of marijuana.  But he believes that these are really legislative issues.  We were meant, after all, to be a representative rather than a direct democracy.  But representative democracy has failed us.

Wrapping up, Kaufman said that he believes both of our major parties have experienced loss.  The Republican Party, he says, has lost its way, its mission, relinquishing it to the far right.  The Democratic Party, though, has lost its soul, its focus on community and unity.

FRONTLINE: THE MAKING OF A WGBH ICON

 Raney Aronson-Rath – Executive Producer of PBS’s Frontline

Reported by Larry Schwirian

Raney Aronson Rath (photo online)
Raney Aronson Rath (photo online)

PBS’s FRONTLINE has been on the air for over 34 years and is practically the only remaining TV program dealing with “Long Form Journalism”: that is to say in-depth investigative reporting that sometimes take years to research and assemble. The reason for this, in part, is that more people now get their news from the web and social media than from television. Private networks have to rely more heavily on income from sales and advertising and ratings are an imperative.

Ms. Rath indicated that FRONTLINE relies exclusively on public funding so ratings are not as important, but fact checking and accuracy are absolutely essential–particularly since some of the stories it covers are critical of or embarrassing to powerful interests. The show features strong, visually told stories.

Some of the upcoming programs discussed at lunch were  “A Subprime Education” about for-profit colleges and “The Education of Omarina” about an innovative program to stem the dropout crisis in inner-city schools, both airing that evening, September 13.  “The Choice,” which covers the long-term histories of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Donald J. Trump, will air on September 27, 2016 and

FRONTLINE can be seen on WGBH on Tuesday evenings from     9:00 – 10:00 PM.

Education of Omarina

 

 

 

THE PRODUCER’S LIFE: SHOW ME THE MONEY!

                    Arnie Reisman, Radio, TV, Film & Theatre Producer                      (and Martha’s Vineyard 2014 Poet Laureate)

FOR BLOG Arnie Reisman
Raconteur Arnie Reisman

After a long and full career in media production,  Arnie Reisman said he was tired of raising money, collaborating, and dealing with technology—so the logical next step was, of course, poetry!  He has since produced two volumes:  Clara Bow Died for Our Sins and Sodom and Costello.  Clearly, humor is a hallmark of Reisman’s work.

A natural raconteur, Reisman then focused on his experiences as a producer of documentaries (and some of the challenges of getting them funded).  First, he talked about discovering that his best friend (and fellow “Says You” panelist on the popular NPR show) Tony Kahn grew up moving from California to Mexico to Canada and back again.  His father was blacklisted in Hollywood during the Red Scare, and, as a result, he had to move his family outside the country in order to be able to work.  It wasn’t long before the two friends were embarked on making Hollywood on Trial.

More recently, he found himself inspired by an exhibit at the New York Historical Society that focused on women who had made strong impact in the business world.  There, he was struck by images of the cosmetic industry’s queens, Helena Rubenstein and Elizabeth Arden.  When he learned that these rivals, the two richest women in the United States in 1953, had lived and worked two blocks from each other for more than 40 years without ever meeting, he knew there was a story to be told.  The result was The Powder and the Glory.

But that led to an unexpected conversation with the team that developed the musical version of Grey Gardens.  And, as a result, War Paint (with Patti Lupone slated to play Rubenstein to Christine Ebersole’s Arden) had a strong run at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago and will open on Broadway in April.

Screen Shot 2016-09-15 at 9.23.16 PM
“War Paint” comes to Broadway in April, 2017

EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA (BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK)

 Brandeis Social Media “Gurus” Michal Miller and Brian Salerno

IMG_0550 IMG_0554

 

 

 

 

 

On Thursday, we had a chance to dig into questions about social media, with Facebook being a central point of focus in this session sponsored by the Membership Committee.  This interactive question and answer session clearly piqued the interest of many BOLLI members which will be followed up with a “drop-in” opportunity for technology questions and issues on October 27.  (Think about bringing your laptop, tablet, and/or iPhone.  Stay for a few minutes, or stay the whole time.)

facebook

 

SEPTEMBER BOOK NOOK: Two New Novels of Note

Our “Book Nook” feature writer Abby Pinard brings us a couple of new items to consider…

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos

Dominic Smith, 2016

The Last Painting of Sara De Vos

What a delight!  This is a historical suspense novel with redeeming literary value – character driven, intricately plotted but without contrivance, and elegantly written. With pivotal events taking place in New York in 1958, we are seamlessly brought forward to Sydney, Australia in 2000, and back to 17th-century Amsterdam and the Dutch Golden Age that produced Rembrandt and Vermeer.

The painting at the center of the novel hangs over the bed in the New York penthouse of an attorney whose family has owned it for 300 years. When it is stolen and replaced by a meticulous forgery, the attorney isn’t sure he even wants the original back but determines nevertheless to track down the forger.  The graduate student who had agreed to copy the painting goes on to become a prominent art historian and authority on the artist – one of the very few women among the Dutch masters –  but is haunted by her past.

The evocation of art and painterly technique is fascinating; the portrayal of people driven to actions they will regret for a lifetime is moving without being melodramatic; and the writing is precise and restrained yet compelling, with quotable passages on every page. Here’s just one that I had to read more than once: “…unmarried women make good academics because they’ve been neutered by too much knowledge and bookish pleasure. The world hands them a tiny domain it never cared about to begin with.” Hmm.

Art, deceit, loss…this is a fine novel disguised as a page-turner.

Thanks to Linda Dietrich for insisting that I read this book!

 

The Little Red Chairs

Edna O’Brien, 2016 

The Little Red Chairs

 

 On the 6th of April 2012, to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the start of the siege of Sarajevo by Bosnian Serb forces, 11,541 red chairs were laid out in rows along the eight hundred metres of the Sarajevo high street.  One empty chair for every Sarajevan killed during the 1,425 days of siege.  Six hundred and forty-three small chairs represented the children killed by snipers and the heavy artillery fired from the surrounding mountains.

 A stranger comes to town…   The town is Cloonoila, a rural Irish backwater, and the stranger, soon known as Dr. Vlad, announces himself as a healer and sex therapist. He is exotic and alluring and is viewed with suspicion by the village priest, but the children and especially the women gradually fall under his spell, most notably Fidelma, the town beauty trapped in a cold marriage and longing for a child.

Edna O’Brien doesn’t string us along with tantalizing clues to the stranger’s identity.  The epigraph quoted above signals the truth:   Dr. Vlad is a notorious Bosnian war criminal responsible for the torture and genocide of Muslims and Croats. He is modeled on Radovan Karadzic, who hid for thirteen years before being arrested in Belgrade.  Dr. Vlad has appeared in western Ireland as if by magic.

It has been fifty years since O’Brien’s fiction debut, The Country Girls, scandalized the country with its searing portrayal of the social and sexual mores of rural Ireland. In The Little Red Chairs, her first novel in ten years, she is casting a wider net, tackling broad questions about evil, complicity, and penance.  Her prose is beautiful and brutal as she shatters the gentle, almost mystical aura of Cloonoila with a scene of horrific violence,  Fidelma’s abasement, and her search for redemption among the lost and broken. Powerful and haunting.

Abby Pinard is a lifelong book nut who retired from a forty-year computer software career in 2007 and ticked an item off her bucket list by going to work in a bookstore. She is a native New Yorker who moved to Boston recently to be among her people:  family and Red Sox fans. She is a music lover, crossword puzzler, baseball fan, and political junkie who flunked Halloween costumes but can debug her daughter’s wifi.

Comments are most welcome–just jot your thoughts in the box below!

 

TECH TALK WITH JOHN RUDY: I.T. Musings

There are many pieces of application software that are available–some you pay for, and others are free.  And then there are some which have both free and pay versions where the latter comes with extra capability.

Today I’ll discuss AdBlockPlus and Secunia PSI.

John Rudy additionAdBlockPlus Whenever you go to the internet, you are inundated with ads. This is because the folks providing you the information you are requesting are looking for ways to derive income from the process. Luckily, a number of companies have developed products to significantly reduce (not eliminate) these ads. I use AdblockPlus, which is free https://adblockplus.org/ Note that it has to be installed separately for each web browser. I use Chrome exclusively, so that is where I have it installed. I’ve had it for about 2 years. In the picture below you will note that it places a small icon in the upper right of your browser, and when you click on it, you learn how many ads it has blocked. When you set it up, you can exclude certain sites and make other choices. Not surprisingly, a lot of companies are unhappy about this, and I frequently get a message when opening up a web page asking me to close the blocker. Here is some recent data. “A new survey of users found that only 41% of those surveyed were aware of ad blocking. But among those who are aware of it,80% block ads on desktops and 46% percent do so on smartphones, suggesting it’s just awareness that’s holding back higher ad blocking adoption.” It has been reported (Wired magazine) that some ad block companies are receiving money from companies to exclude their sites from the block list!

Secunia PSI   There are many reasons to keep your software up to date. The most obvious is that you have access to the newest           capability that the software ofers. But the more important reason is that most software comes with vulnerabilities, and new releases fix them. The problem is that you may be unaware that a new release is available and that you might not know how to perform the update. That is where Secunia PSI (even the free version) fits it. It will check your software against the newest versions and, in most cases, perform the updates automatically. I have set it to run when I reboot my computer. There are some products that require manual updates, and it tells you.   Go to the following site, and you will be taken through the simple process.  The web page has a lot of additional information which you may find to be helpful as well.

http://www.flexerasoftware.com/enterprise/products/software-vulnerability-management/personal-software-inspector/

BOLLI Tech Talker John Rudy
BOLLI Tech Talker John Rudy

John, a longtime computer expert and guide, provides these helpful hints in this monthly BOLLI Matters feature.  In the comment box below, provide questions on passwords or any other computer/tech topic that you’d like to know more about in future Tech Talk articles.

john.rudy@alum.mit.edu (781-861-0402)

A CLASS ACT: Memoir Writing

WHAT HAVE WE HERE?

by Marjorie Roemer

The following pieces represent just one week’s response to a writing prompt in my BOLLI course Journeying Toward Discovery: Writing and Remembering (fall of 2014). The assignment was a classic one:   write in response to a photograph or other visual image, a painting or a drawing.  Put yourself in the picture, or write about the history of the photograph . . . how you see it now, how you experienced it then.

For me, these pieces are not necessarily examples of the best writing to come out of this remarkable group of writers, but they are significant for the spotlight they throw on what BOLLI members bring to their courses.  The assignment is an old chestnut, one we might give to kindergartners as well as to senior citizens . . . write about an image, a task that brings to the fore the depth of experience that informs everything we do and say.

The pieces which follow give some insight into the range of that experience and how imagination and history together shape consciousness.

 

CHIACCHIERA

By Sam Ansell

SAM

What have we here? Why it’s a Ken Heymen photograph of three little girls enjoying a hen fest.  (In Italian, “gossip” is the onomatopoetic word chiacchiera, pronounced key-AHK- ee-AY-rah.)

The redhead on the right is no doubt dishing up the dirt on some mutual acquaintance.  She’s leaning forward in confidential mode but is glancing to the left to make sure unwanted listeners aren’t overhearing.  Notice how she’s clutching her stomach as if trying to contain her excitement.

On the left, the little blonde beauty is leaning forward so as to drink in every detail.  She’s so absorbed that’s she’s on one leg, scratching it with the other. (God help the local boys when this one reaches adolescence.) Meanwhile, the brunette in the middle seems somewhat limp and uncomfortable, her pained expression hard to read.  Maybe she’s a little out of her depth with these high-powered gossip mongers. Maybe she’s afraid the gossip will get back to the person or people under discussion and she’ll be blamed.

What makes the episode especially ironic are the dolls, reminding us that these are the future mothers of America.  Our lovely blonde is clutching her doll tightly in a sort of protective mode. The girl in the middle again shows anxiety: she almost seems to have forgotten that she has a doll while the little redheaded babbler on the right has left her doll in a baby carriage – gossip is more fulfilling than doll supervision.

Another remarkable fact about the picture is the symmetry. The four heads (including the middle girl’s doll) form an elongated diamond while the same doll is the fulcrum of the whole shot.

This picture is an example of what the great French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson calls “the decisive moment”: The moment in which an experienced photographer, taking in a thousand details, grasps that those details will shortly coalesce into something very special and has a camera at the ready.  The Inexperienced would only have seen three girls yakking, but Ken Heyman instinctively recognized that something extraordinary was about to happen and got the right shot. It takes only a fraction of a second to shoot a great picture; it takes a lifetime of experience and great talent to anticipate and get it.

 

RE-READING A PHOTOGRAPH

By Marjorie Roemer

marjorie

Nobody liked this picture.   Nobody even liked the vacation.  It’s March 1992, a celebration for my mother’s 86th birthday.  We are at Penn State, where my daughter Liz was working on her PhD. After having done a big party in New York for my mother’s 75th birthday, I decided that we should do something special for each one of her birthdays. I can’t remember all of them. This would be the next to last, a long weekend visiting Liz in State College. I arranged to have my son David and his wife Celeste fly up from Boston, my mother fly up from Florida, and I flew in from Cincinnati. We had a suite at a Sheraton hotel, I think, replete with Jacuzzi. It should have been fun. My husband Don decided, perhaps wisely, to pass on this particular festivity.

I don’t remember too much about the weekend. We went out for a number of dinners at the best restaurants in town. I remember ordering a cake from a bakery and having it served at one dinner. What went wrong? Liz was probably distracted with work and felt this to be an intrusion. I have only three clear memories: Liz’s car was making a funny sound and my mother said: “Let your brother look at it. He’ll know what’s wrong.” That didn’t play well. Then at the big dinner for her birthday celebration with the cake, I said to my mother: “You have a piece of spinach stuck in your teeth.” She replied: “Can’t you ever say anything nice?” And finally, I ran the Jacuzzi and somehow managed to turn it on when there was not quite enough water in the tub. The water went flying around the bathroom like some kind of dramatic wind and rain storm. I can’t remember now if I had to call for help in my naked predicament. I just remember it as a small disaster.

And finally, the picture. I thought it would be fun to have a family picture taken, so I arranged for this one at the Mountain View Studios. The photographer was very nice, and that part was sort of fun. He took a lot of shots. In the end, when I got the proofs, they were pretty disappointing. There was not one picture where everyone looked good. I remember going to a bar in Cincinnati with my friend Susan Durst, a photographer, and asking her to help me choose the best. We spread them out on a table and studied them. Finally, we hit on this one as the one where no single one of us looked embarrassingly awful. When I sent the pictures to the family, everyone complained. “That’s a terrible picture of me. I hate it,” they said.  My mother wouldn’t even look at it.

Now, some twenty-two years later, I don’t mind looking at it.

 

MISSING PIECE

by Jane Kays

jane kay 1

The torn black and white photo leaves me in the dark. One person was ripped away, and it is my father who survived the separation. He is fancily suited and shod as if for an occasion.  In another photo, wearing the same attire, he stands beside his daughter, Charlein. I could call her my sister or step-sister, but she was born in 1918, and the years between us create a disconnect.

jane kay 2

            Who tore the photo, and why?  More importantly, who was removed? I have studied this off and on for some time, always wondering and creating different scenarios.  In the one unripped photo where Charlein stands with our Dad, her white dress, soft and innocent at her ankles, the crushed band that encircles her waist, and then more softness surrounding her breasts, perhaps not yet fully developed, support the idea that she may be a teen.

Her Dad, my Dad, wraps his arm around her waist, a dad-hug way. She reaches across his shoulder to drape her fingers along his arm, making these two a snug fit, genetically entwined. How often have they embraced while Charlein spent most of her life, since infancy, living with her aunt, away from her father?

I sleuth through other photos looking at my father’s hairline, new wrinkles, and the style of his suits to appropriately age him as he poses in this picture. I notice he wears wing-tipped spectators, popular in the thirties. And I decide that these photos were taken when he was married to his second wife, Dorothy.

Was it Dorothy who was torn away and even thrown away? And might this be Charlein’s high school graduation? And did they all attend together? The weather is warm, springlike. My imagination buoys me and I am ready to answer all my questions about the torn photograph.

When my father met my mother in the late thirties, perhaps even while married to Dorothy, he brought his belongings to their new apartment in Lynn, Massachusetts. Before he packed, he sorted through pictures and tore the one remaining picture he had of his former wife and himself. And eerily, my mother, his new wife, would have these as keepsakes to show me what my father looked like.

Rousseau once wrote, “The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.”

So, in the boundless stretches of my imagination I decide that this is what happened to the torn part of the photograph until I look closer with a magnified interest. I notice something white along my father’s pant leg, and something dark near the side of his face, and I notice fingers on his shoulder. They are traces of Charlein that survived the tear, her hair, dress, and her hand laying upon our father’s shoulder.

Now I know the real story. She was the one who tore the photograph because her high school boyfriend wanted a keepsake.

 

WHERE THE PATH LEADS

by Margie Nesson

margien

The ancient arches of this passageway reflect my personal images of my family’s inspirational history.  Their winding journey began from two different geographical starting points–my maternal grandfather Yisroil Myerson began his exodus in Odessa, and my father Mendel Garb left Komai, Lithuania. I envision their two paths converging at the entrance to this painting.

This cobblestone alley opens with sheltered light that represents the ways in which the lives of Yisroil and Max were illuminated by the teachings of their faith and the love of their families, guiding them toward a brighter future.  Yisroil and Mendel left home with lessons learned from their own fathers in regard to the importance of family loyalty and their obligation, as Jews, to study Torah.

The bright entrance to this artfully rendered passageway soon leads me to its dark and shadowy recesses. The shadows represent Yisroil and Mendel’s memories of their families’ struggles to survive the tyranny of Russia. Their perilous and disparate journeys, represented in the darkened shadows of this passageway, are the foundation on which our family’s commitment to justice and our compassion for those traveling difficult journeys was built.

Yisroil’s memories, represented in the dark shadows before me, bear witness to the oppression he experienced in the Russian pogroms of the 1890’s. Mendel’s shadowy memories began with the slaughter of Russian Jews during the 1917 Revolution.   I imagine this amber-colored passageway as similar to those that Yisroil and Mendel trod upon during their escapes to freedom.

A pious young man, Yisroil, began his journey from Odessa to Palestine in 1896. Leaving home, he and his brothers were bound to seek refuge in the land of our ancient ancestors, now known as Israel. Together, the three siblings made it as far as Vilna, but amidst the city’s crowded streets and alleyways, Yisroil became separated. He searched for his lost family for weeks, to no avail.  He was alone and set out to make own way.  His path took a risky detour, diverting him from the direction of Palestine.  Alone, bolstered by his faith in his God, he made his way to London where he found employment as a tailor’s apprentice.   After two years, he had saved enough money to purchase passage on a ship bound for America.

Twenty-three years later, in the middle of the night, Mendel narrowly escaped from his family home in Komai.  With only the clothes on their backs and a satchel containing their prayer book and Sabbath candlesticks, Mendel and his younger brother escorted their ailing mother on a harrowing and heroic journey.  Hiding from the murderous mobs advancing on their village, this brave threesome crept through neighboring villages in the dark of night, finally reaching the train station in Rokiskis. Hiding in a freight car, they made their way to Denmark where they boarded the ship that brought them to America.

As Yisroil and Mendel embarked on their treacherous and winding journeys,  they finally reached their  sunlit paths. Quite possibly, their dark passageways were illuminated from above, as is the one pictured here.

Yisroil and Mendel’s families had instilled in each of them a strong faith and a sense of determination that provided them with the strength they needed to overcome the incredible obstacles each encountered on his journey to freedom.   Their collective faith and individual acts of bravery provided their progeny, my family, with an inspiring legacy as we make our way in the modern world.

 

OLÉ

by Carolyn Allen

CAROLYN

For several fun years, Bob and I were invited to a Halloween party at a big house on West Newton Hill. Despite the fact that most of the other guests were outfitted as elaborate French kings, Russian peasants, or whimsical unicorns straight out of a box while ours were home-made-in-NewtonAmerica, we always walked away with First Prize.

One year, I decided Bob would make a perfect Spanish Lady, and, being the good sport he was, he readily agreed. I climbed the rickety ladder to the eaves of the garage.  Ignoring the November cold and those scary might-be mouse droppings, I rummaged through boxes of costumes, many sewn by me, and others filled haphazardly with sleeping pieces waiting to be awakened by imagination.

I discovered a ruffley red underskirt, black stretchy slippers, a black bejeweled sweater and a lushly fringed shawl.  At CVS, I found queen-sized sparkly black pantyhose.   A long black wig with saucy bangs, a big red rose, and an ivory fan completed The Look.

Bob took the costume for a trial run. Have you ever seen a man put on pantyhose? Bob lay down on our bed, stuck one leg straight up in the air, and, holding the pantyhose at arms’ length, vainly tried to wriggle his whole leg in from the top.

The night of the party, our daughter Laura channeled Percy Westmore, make-up artist to the stars.   In the mirror, As Laura blue-shadowed his eyelids and layered on rouge and lipstick, Bob wiggled his brows at himself provocatively, flirting mercilessly with his own reflection.

“You know,” he said fetchingly to his image, “I could go for you.”

Laura finished the transformation by penciling a black beauty mark atop Bob’s cheekbone.

“Laura,” he complained, “shouldn’t the beauty mark be bigger?”

“Dad,” she snapped back, “it’s in proportion to the beauty!”

Another First Prize in the bag.

We made our costumes do double-duty. After Halloween, they became the theme of our annual New Year’s cards, with appropriate punny greetings:

  • Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” (“Would that you be granted a Happy New Year”)
  • A Medieval Serf (to my Queen Pretensia) (“Happy New Year from the Middle Agers”)
  • A Chocolate Moose (to my Julia Child)
  • A Bag of Bovung Cow Manure (to my Burpee Seed Catalog)

As I stare at this picture of Bob the Spanish senorita of 25 years ago, I am drawn back to a time of innocence, a time we didn’t know couldn’t last forever.

Olé!

LOST AND FOUND

by Lois Sockol

boys

At times, I was lost. Sometimes I still am. So much of me was consumed by mothering that that is who I became. It’s hard to move away to begin again the search for whom I might still be. Torah says, “God loves becoming.”

For so many years, school schedules, after school sport teams, school reports, doctor’s appointments, tending scraped knees, comforting hurts, and the routine daily tasks,. . . washing, shopping, preparing meals. . . consumed my days, infusing them with purpose, meaning, occasional tears, much laughter and love. That was the surge of my life.

Then, slowly and surely as they must, my sons’ wings took flight. First there was college, which meant less and less time as a family unit living together under the same roof where we were busy in our own and each other’s lives. Time morphed into natural separations: new jobs away from home, happy marriages, independent self-sufficient lives. How blessed I felt by it all. Our sons grown to be the fine character-driven men I had hope they would become. And how splendid and lovely were the women they married.

Yes, we had transitioned through life’s big moments. The ones I always knew were coming but for which , to my surprise, I was emotionally unprepared. I hadn’t imagined the emptiness.  I was teaching school, doing the work that satisfied me. There were activities. . . town meeting, Temple committees, the library trusteeship, friends, the trips Ron and I took, the dictates of writing and the demands of teaching, but still, it was not enough to squelch the loneliness.

Grow up, I told myself. Did you really expect to stand still, to halt the natural cycles of life? To stop the world from spinning? Did you really want that to be? Is that who you are? Of course not, I love my life as it’s unfolded, my boys as men, and cherish the children they brought into my world. The truth is that the good things that are gone have paved the way for the splendid life I now know.

In time, I too broke free of my chrysalis and, with a nascent sense of liberation, stretched my own wings a sense of release I’d never been conscious of before.

Time need not be spent but savored. No rush to manage all things. I drank in the luxury of reflection and contemplation. There is no preaching in solitude. There are no demands or obligations, no shifting of ideas in order to please.  These quiet times are sanctuaries, where, if I listen, a spark, a thought, a truth may be revealed to help me answer my greatest puzzle.  Who am I? What does my existence mean?

And so, just as my life was once a turbulent sea, it is now a quiet pond, still fed endlessly by my love for my husband, my grandchildren, my grown sons, but also the waters where I leisurely move closer to me.

 

THE INCIDENT AT ROCKAWAY BEACH, 1943

Was It My Fault?

by Eleanor Jaffe

eleanor

The war was on. My uncles were in the army, but my family was intact. In that summer of 1943, my parents rented an apartment on the beach block, 128th Street, in Rockaway. The apartment was one flight up in a small brick house. The landlord lived downstairs. This living arrangement was a great novelty for us since, the rest of the time, the five of us lived in a Brooklyn apartment on the fourth floor of a large apartment house.

The summer before, when our baby brother was born, my sister and I had been shipped to sleep-away camp for two months.  But this summer was different. We were all together, and the sand and the ocean were just one half block away.  No streets to cross, just load our stuff–blankets, towels, snacks, and pails and shovels on to a wagon and shuffle under our loads down the hot pavement to the hotter sand.  Mother and baby brother David led the parade down the street.  Dad worked in Manhattan most of the time.  The beach was so big, and we could play all day, making wet sand pies, slipping in the wet sand at the water’s edge, in, then out of the water.

In August of that summer, I turned seven years old, and Frances was then.  In the faded color photo of us, she is a full head taller than I am, and I am looking up at her. I always looked up to her. She is blond, and my skin and hair are dark.  I trailed after her; she more or less ignored me in favor of her friends.

The beach was wide and deep, maybe five miles long.  Tides shifted, and the water crept up the beach, then slowly backed down the other way.  Often, the waves were big and came crashing down on us. The undertow could be very strong. I think lifeguards were supposed to be on duty every few blocks, but they must have been few and far between. There was a war on, you know.

I learned to plow through the crashing waves to reach the relative calm water beyond.  I loved the swirling ocean waters, floating on my back, the water too turbulent to swim in more than a few strokes at a time. I suppose our general instructions were to stay together, and so, Frances and I would plunge into the waters together, often with another tall ten-year old friend for company.  I stayed right up with them, dancing from one foot to another in the deep and deeper water, struggling.

I can’t remember being in trouble in the water; it hadn’t registered that way with me. I don’t remember feeling panicked, but I must have been in deep, dangerous waters because I recall that a little skinny lady grabbed me and pulled me to the shore. She asked where my mother was.  I pointed her out: the lady with the baby on the blanket, reading.

My rescuer marched determinedly over to my mother, and proceeded to let her have it! Her little girl had been in danger of drowning, and where had she been?  Didn’t my mother know that the ocean was dangerous? Little girls needed active supervision. The undertow was strong. A good mother should be responsible and should stand and watch and supervise, not sit on her rear end.

I just stood there, not knowing what to think. This lady was yelling at my mother. Nobody ever yelled at my mother. How could this be happening? I think my mother stayed quiet. My mother certainly could raise her own voice and yell and criticize, but not this time. Baby brother David played quietly in the sand. I stood awkwardly at the edge of the blanket. Other people must have been looking and watching.

There the memory and the scene end. I don’t know if we girls had new rules for the beach. I don’t know if my mother hugged me after my rescue, my almost drowning. I don’t know if Frances was criticized for ignoring me in the water. What I learned that day was that Mothers, too, might act in ways that lead others to yell at them. That was a shock. Somehow, I had made that happen. Maybe it was my fault….

WHAT IS EVERYONE THINKING ABOUT?

By Suzanne Art

SUZANNE

It’s a beautiful warm summer day, and the boaters have stopped along the Seine at Maison Fournaise. They are relaxing on the balcony, savoring the remnants of fruit, cheese, and the local wine. It’s a time of warm comradery, isn’t it?  And yet, everyone seems lost in thought.

Aline, the seamstress who will soon wed the painter of the picture, Renoir, sits at the table in the foreground. She coos lovingly to her shaggy little grey lapdog, Foufou.  There’s no one else around that she’d care to talk to, since the man of her dreams is busily wielding his paintbrush.  She can’t wait for him to finish his sketch so that they can all resume their leisurely voyage along the Seine, and she can snuggle once again in her lover’s strong yet gentle arms.

Opposite Aline, while she is absorbed with Foufou, impressionist painter Gustave Caillebotte seizes the moment to gaze longingly at her.  If Renoir were not his very good friend, how swiftly he would act upon his strong attraction to the fetching young girl. He is unaware of the dark eyes of the actress, Angele, who looks at him as longingly as he looks at Aline.  She, in turn, doesn’t seem to notice the attentions of young journalist Adrien, standing behind her.  It seems as though everyone only has eyes for someone who only has eyes for someone else.

Louise, the daughter of the proprietor, leans casually on the railing, taking in, with a bemused smile, what is going on at Aline’s table. She fails to notice the young man in the brown bowler who has turned in his chair and is so absorbed in her.  Louise’s brother Alphonse leans against the railing directly behind Aline, feeling bored. He’s hoping it is almost time to end the luncheon and get everyone back to the boat.

To Louise’s left, in the center of the picture, Ellen, an actress, drinks from her glass, paying little attention to her table companion. He seems to be waiting for her to take notice of him, but she is lost in her own thoughts. Or is it the young man in the brown bowler who occupies her attention?

In the background stands a man in a tall silk hat.  He is Charles, wealthy art collector and the editor of the Gazette des Beaux Arts. He is chatting amiably with his personal secretary Jules. But is he really listening to his underling?

In the upper right corner are Renoir’s close friends Eugene, an art collector, and Paul, another artist. Paul has his arm around the waist of an actress named Jeanne. She responds to the flirtations of Eugene and Paul by putting her gloved hands up to her ears. Not the response they were hoping for.

It certainly does seem to be time to move on. No one is really enjoying anyone’s company, since everyone seems to be at cross-purposes.

This painting reminds me of what is wrong with our modern society. Picture a bustling café, perhaps just your local Starbucks. Every customer is totally absorbed in his own media device – even the servers are making notes on the store computer – and no one seems to be aware of what’s happening in the here and now.

 

WHITE MAN’S HISTORY

by Quinn Rosefsky

Quinn

1919, a bitter cold morning on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. ‘Hehaka Sapa’, Black Elk, wraps his blanket snuggly around his shoulders. He watches as black smoke belches from the stack of a steam engine pulling a short line of passenger and freight cars. The chuffing slows and brakes screech as the mighty beast clanks to a halt. An eagle, its wings spread wide, flies high above the desolate railroad spur. The door of a weather-beaten box car slides open and a duffle bag hits the frozen earth with a thud. A tall young man in a khaki U.S. army uniform quickly follows, hoists the bag over a shoulder, and walks towards Black Elk.

Black Elk: “Eeeyuh, ‘Matoskah’, White Bear, my son, how was Europe?”

Black Elk knew in his heart that his son would return from fighting in The Great War and was proud that his son had served, fighting for the Great White Father in Washington. As did many others, he hoped that Lakota men fighting for their country would gain white man’s respect.    

White Bear:     “I was a sharp-shooter. I scared many Germans.”

Black Elk:        “Or sent them to the Creator.”

White Bear:     “I said a prayer for each one I killed.”

Black Elk:        “That is our way.”

White Bear opens the duffle bag and rummages inside. “I met a photographer on the troop ship that carried us home; but he got sick, as did many others, from what they called ‘The Flu’. He didn’t think he’d survive and gave me this album. It is filled with pictures.”

Black Elk’s eyes darken. “Show me.” Black Elk grasps the worn album tightly and turns the pages slowly, releasing one of the photos, which drifts to the ground.

White Bear picks up the photo, turns it over, and reads names written in faded black ink. “Buffalo Bill, Capt. Baldwin, Gen. Nelson A. Miles, Capt. Moss, and others, on horseback. These names mean nothing to me.”

Black Elk:        “We must do a sweat. Then we will know.”

Holding an eagle feather to waft smoke, Black Elk smudges White Bear with burning sweetgrass. Both then enter the sweat lodge and sit. Black Elk lights a fire beneath a dome of rocks, waits until the rocks are hot, then pours water on them, filling the room with mist. The two men close their eyes. When they know it is time, they open them. Men in blue U.S. army uniforms and others in dark black suits shimmer in the mist.

First Soldier: “First thing you know, they started shooting at us from all directions. Painted warriors. We held our fire, but there were too many of them.”

Second Soldier: “We only fired at the ones with rifles. But there were so many.”

Third Soldier:  “Fortunately, we had the Hotchkiss Gun.”

Man in dark suit: “You were brave men. Our country thanks you. You have paid the debt owed to the soldiers of the Seventh Cavalry who died with Custer at Little Big Horn.”

The images fade. Black Elk again pours water on the rocks, releasing more mist. The images return. “These men speak no truth. They murdered women and children, old men. I was wounded, unable to raise my rifle, the dead piled on top of me. My shame still haunts me.”

Man in dark suit: “These men deserve medals for their bravery.”

Black Elk:        “Were our women and children so frightening?”

White Bear:     “White men have the power to write the history they need. We do not.”

White Bear and Black Elk remain in the sweat lodge, watch the white men congratulate one another and curse the Lakota until their images vanish. Then Black Elk pours water on the fire and, with his son, walks out of the lodge into a bitter cold starry night.

Twenty Medals of Honor were awarded to U.S. soldiers who fought at Wounded Knee.

 

THE PICTURE ON THE WALL

by Barbara Webber

barbarawebber

I used to skip by it, run up and down the hall by it, play with my blocks in front of it, idly stare at it, directly look at it and ponder a bit. What I pondered, I don’t know but what I do know is I did not like this picture. It showed two different kinds of leafy trees one on each side and in between some women arranged in old timey dresses standing on steps. Their severe demeanor scared me. I guess I dismissed it as something grandmothers kept around. It hung in the hall next to the far more interesting glass device filled with amber liquid which climbed up and down a spout and forecast the weather. I liked that one a lot. At ten years of age, I realized that the picture was talking about the lifecycle of women with the bottom step displaying a baby on the left under the spruce tree and a shriveled 100 year old woman under the drooping willow tree on the right. At the pinnacle point, rose a woman of 50 years and women of intervening ages stood tall on all the ascending steps and progressively stooped on all of the descending steps. Many of the women looked blank or unhappy and the older ones looked pinched and crabby.   An inset at the bottom contained a tombstone saying “Sacred to the memory of:  _______________”  where you could write in someone’s name.  My budding but limited awareness was such that death and life’s end was not my focus; what I really puzzled about was why my grandmother kept such a gloomy picture on the wall; surely there were happier scenes to put up.

My grandmother, my father’s mother never talked about it; my parents never said anything to me about it, but I doubt they thought the picture wonderful . Years later, after my father died, I must have packed it up and brought it to Boston in one of my many cardboard boxes.

I recently found the box and pulled out “Stages of a woman’s life from cradle to the grave. According to the picture, I am presently located on the second downward step and, the accompanying verse for each age notes, I am old, seek solace but only through church and when there, sit only in my allotted seat. The next step lower, shows me at 80 prattling nonsense, and at 90, I become a useless cumberer or burden on the earth; at 100, I am chained to a chair by age and knit, listlessly awaiting death.

It amazes me that this mass-produced 1850s Currier and Ives Lithograph rattled around my family for at least three and possibly five generations surviving move after move. It has minimal antique and no sentimental value and yet we all kept it. It is offensive to 21st century sensibilities and I should throw it out. But I won’t. Maybe my niece will know what to do with it.

 

A PHOTO IN  MIND

By Muriel Ladenburg

It is the summer of 1961 on one of the last days of our “Europe on $5.00 a Day” trip.  I am wearing the polished cotton dress with the scoop neck, three-quarter sleeves and dark green background splashed with huge orange flowers.  Although I have worn this dress throughout the two-month trip, it has kept its luster and shown none of the signs of wear I am feeling.  I have a toothache, and a friendly London Bobby sends us to the local station where he promises that one of the boys will “pop down to the commissary” and get me an aspirin, but when we arrive, we are invited to “pop down” ourselves.

It turns out the commissary is also an off-duty pub, and while one officer insists on sitting us at a small table and bringing us tea and sandwiches as well as my aspirin, the men at the bar are singing off-color songs about America.  As we get up to leave, having refused invitations to join the men at the bar, my husband decides to repay their hospitality by offering to buy a round.  Before I know it, we are involved in a drinking game in which I consistently win and drink and Tom repeatedly loses and pays, but we are charmed and entertained.

At some point, I am ushered to a chair, and sitting in my crisp and flowered dress, flanked by two officers, I am wearing a silly smile and a tall Bobby’s hat complete with chin-strap.  When my husband snaps the picture, I do not know that I will soon be sick and regret having had too much to drink.  I do not know that the offending tooth will need to be pulled the next day and that I will fly home with a mouth full of Novocain.  But of all the many slides we took that summer that now lie in a jumbled heap we never manage to sort through, this one in my mind has made the greatest imprint in my memory.

Jane Kay and Quinn Rosefsky continued to work on these pieces, submitting them to the 2016 BOLLI Journal which can be accessed by clicking below.  (You can increase print size by clicking on the magnifying glass icon.)

The BOLLI Journal is published every two years.  The 2018 issue is already in the planning stages.  Consider trying this exercise yourself and submitting the result!

 

 

 

BOLLI’s EXTENDED FAMILY: A “DRAMATIC” ENCOUNTER

ME
BOLLI MATTERS Managing Editor Sue Wurster

After a wonderful year of work with BOLLI’s Scene-iors and CAST groups, I decided it was time to find out what else might be happening in theatre in other lifelong learning programs.  That search sent me to the website of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education where I  found that the association’s national conference was coming up, and, this year, it was to be held at the Boston Park Plaza (the site, incidentally, of the first AATE conference I attended in 1996).   I signed up and headed into the city for some artistic rejuvenation.

And it was wonderful.  There were some familiar faces in the crowd, and catching up with these creative beings was terrific.  But what was truly exhilarating was the energy, commitment, and social consciousness evident in the generation of young drama teachers now moving into positions of prominence in our field.

One of those young teachers and I began to chat during a quiet moment before our breakout session, “Our Students, Their Stories,” was to begin.  We soon discovered that we had NYC independent school teaching in common, but when she craned to look at my name tag, we discovered an even more exciting connection.  “BOLLI?” she exclaimed.  “My grandparents love BOLLI!”

This young teacher’s grandparents are Sheila and Irving Lesnick who have been BOLLI members for about ten years.  “Actually, we like everything about BOLLI,”  Sheila enthuses.  She talks about the variety of courses she and Irving have taken, saying that “almost all of them have been excellent.  The course leaders have been great, and the course material most rewarding.”  They take advantage of many of the opportunities Brandeis has to offer–concerts, lectures, and films.

Irving & Sheila Lesnick
Irving and Sheila relax after an early arrival for a recent summer lecture.

Sheila and Irving are justifiably proud of their lovely granddaughter whom I found to be quite a bright and charming young woman. Emily recently received her master’s degree from NYU’s prestigious Steinhardt program in Educational Theatre.  She teaches drama at Riverdale Country School in the Bronx , coaching a student improv group which has performed in a variety of venues around the city.  She is particularly enthusiastic about her work with a group of 10th graders who devised an original  theatre piece around the theme of belonging.  It is this kind of devising that seems to be one of the most rewarding aspects of her work.

“Until the end of college, I thought my passion for theatre was an indulgence and a side hobby and that I should pursue my more ‘serious’ interests of social justice education,” Emily says.  “But theatre had been influential in the awakening of my activist interests, and I realized I didn’t have to separate them, that theatre could be the medium through which I strive towards justice in education. I’m lucky that my family has been supportive of my passions and vocation, and they ask really good questions that help me clarify my goals.”

Emily’s focus on theatre as a medium for social justice and activism led her and her partner Jamila Humphrie to embark on their How We G.L.O.W. (Gay, Lesbian, Or Whatever) project.  Inspired by Moises Kaufman’s Laramie Project as well as the work of Anna Deavere Smith,  they interviewed twenty LGBTQ+ young people about “how they understand their identities, where they find spaces of support, and what they perceive to be the biggest issues they face in their communities.  What emerged from these interviews was a script full of engaging, personalized data that reminds us of the urgent need to support LGBTQ+ young people in our social institutions.”  Last year, How We G.L.O.W.  toured to ten schools and community spaces and will continue to travel this fall.   Emily and her partner led a breakout session on the project at the conference.

Emily and Sue
Drama teachers Emily Lesnick and Sue Wurster–learning from each other at AATE.

Sheila and Irving certainly have reason to be proud of this remarkable young woman who is already well on her way to a prestigious career in arts education–and, somehow, I suspect that they may well have helped to inspire her along the way.

 

 

 

 

MEET MEMBER ANITA GLICKMAN: AND HER BLOOMING ART

Anita Glickman
BOLLI Member Anita Glickman

Works of art come in many forms–and for Anita Glickman, that form is botanical.

In 2005, Anita joined the Beth Shalom Garden Club in Needham.  At the time, her husband was ill, and she thought this activity would be creative and relaxing, which it did indeed prove to be.

A few years later, she joined the club’s board and held various offices.   In 2011, she served as the group’s co-president and then became president in 2012.  At the time, the club had 85 members, and it has grown since that point.

The group’s  main activity is doing the floral arrangements for the Temple’s religious services, but  their contributions to the entire Needham community are quite significant.  They enhance the Needham’s Vietnam Memorial, run a “Garden Therapy” program for special needs groups, and produce a popular annual antique show fundraiser.  The proceeds from this show help provide special floral programs at the Walker School, the Charles River ARC Center, and the Needham Public Library.  But the group’s most ambitious endeavor is its annual Needham Art in Bloom weekend event.

For this event, modeled after the annual springtime exhibit presented by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, members of the Beth Shalom group create arrangements inspired by art work created by students at Needham High School.  The botanical and visual artists end up meeting each other during the exhibit, and the club honors the students’ work at the weekend’s close.  “The students are outstanding and so enthusiastic,” says Anita, who has exhibited for the past 8 years.  “It is such a pleasure to interact with them.”

Anita's Arrangement with Paula's Art
One of Anita’s Arrangements with its Counterpart

Last year, Needham Art in Bloom featured 59 pieces of art and corresponding arrangements, drawing over 2800 visitors to the exhibit.  Plans are already well underway for the 2017 event coming up this spring.

Anita joined BOLLI shortly after she retired from teaching in 2000. “It’s a wonderful program and very stimulating,” she says  “Over the years, I have met so many fascinating people and made so many new friends.”

To find out more about the Needham Art in Bloom project, go to:  http://needhamartinbloom.com    Lots of photos of the exhibits can be found at:  http://www.facebook.com/NeedhamsArtinBloom2013

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Be sure to leave a comment for Anita in the box below–your response is so welcome!

 

A SPECIAL MOMENT with Lydia Bogar: The Pan Mass Challenge

PMC 2
Photo by Lydia on Academy Drive, the town road leading up to Mass Maritime Academy.

On Friday afternoon, the riders and their bikes have suited up. They have their shirts and IDs, their water bottles, and their luggage. Their bikes are tagged and in the rack.  Every family member has a camera in hand. Water bottles fill the parking lot and backpacks. It is time for the Pan Mass Challenge.

The crowd is festive at Babson College, in a lovely tree shaded lot at the back of the Wellesley campus. Hugs are frequent as riders see their fellow riders for the first time in 364 days. Food has been donated and prepared by volunteers. Fruit, salads, pizza, burgers, cookies. Buckets of ice are filled with water, soda and Gatorade. Serious riders talk to the tech people, and everyone looks at the shirts and hats. Volunteers in blue shirts accept thanks from the riders and their families.

You could call it a party but for the seriousness of the mission–fund the care and research at Dana Farber until a cure is found for cancer.

Registration goes smoothly, thanks to the amazing, focused interns who have finely tuned the organization’s huge database. At the desk, cow bells ring to celebrate first-time riders, applauding their courage and commitment.

I have never ridden in the PMC, but, for the third year in a row, I am here to volunteer my time and cheer on the riders and their supporters. A work colleague rode in memory of my daughter two weeks after her death in 2013. Volunteering that year was painful and yet hopeful. It was something that I could do while still numb. I have been hooked ever since.

On Saturday afternoon and evening, at the Mass Maritime Academy in Bourne, signs, photographs of patients, and cowbells are everywhere. Four-wheeled vehicles crawl along, behind or beside the bicyclists, cheering the riders as they pedal this leg of the route. We volunteers make the two-mile walk from the parking area to the check-in site, and then, it’s on to the Big Tent.

The breeze from the Canal feels good.  Under the tent is enough food for the entire Yankee Division if they are here. And some may be–a number of veterans are riding, some with prostheses.  Baked potatoes with an assortment of toppings, pizza, veggie burgers, salad, brownies, beer, ice cream, Dunkin Donuts, burgers and dogs, and did I say beer?

The name of the game is carb intake. It has been a hot and humid day, and, despite the dark, threatening clouds gathering over the Canal, everyone is happy. Smiles abound. Riders head for the trailers for showers and dry clothes, and then it’s time for food. Some unpack their tents and grab a nap first.  The noise is.joyful–greetings, laughter, cell phones ringing, and rousing music from the bands who take turns on the stage.

As a retired Girl Scout cookie mother, I am working Site Beautification (aka clean-up detail).  And it is fabulous. I could do it with my eyes closed, but the friendship and joy that pervade here must be seen to be believed. Gloved hands bag every scrap of food, empty water bottle, and paper plate. To watch 5,000 people eat and celebrate their day’s work is a stunning privilege.

The riders thank us.  And I think about what they have done themselves.  They just pedaled up to 111 miles if they started in Sturbridge. They want to cure a dozen different forms of cancer, so that little boys don’t lose their mommies when they are four years old.

It is 6 p.m. and time for one of the highlights of the day. It’s called Living Proof. I am proud to stand with other cancer survivors, in our orange shirts, for a group photo and a glass of champagne. For some reason, it hits me, and the tears fall.  My daughter should be here, but she is not, so I volunteer and sweat in her stead, praying for other patients and their families.  This is a community of love.

FEATURE PHOTO CREDIT:  The Boston Globe, Sunrise in Sturbridge

BOLLI Matters Copy Editor and Writer, Lydia Bogar
BOLLI Matters Writer, Lydia Bogar

Former English teacher and health care professional Lydia Bogar joined BOLLI in the spring of 2016 after returning home from a stint in South Carolina where she dipped into another OLLI program.  “It’s good to be here!” she exclaims.  (And it’s good to have her.) 

AUGUST’S SENIOR MOMENT: On Eighty…

This month, both Eleanor and Liz share their thoughts on turning eighty.  

AT EIGHTY

By Eleanor Jaffe

 MOLDS

At first, you are placed into a mold: baby girl,                                          Then, you fit yourself into the mold; it’s good.                                  Puzzled, you find the mold changes as your body changes                And you begin to become a woman. The changes are not easy.

Later, you grow to become wife and mother, lover, nurturer.          Then another mold: the professional.                                                                   It sits on top of all the others – somehow.                                                  Time passes; you begin to break out of that complexity.                           It no longer fits; the children have left.                                                         Parts feel empty, meaning gone.                                                               Confused, like being a lost teenager again.

Later, you move toward new roles within a fluid mold:                    Trying them on: writer, artist, leader, teacher, risk taker.                      You become more confident.                                                                                This direction seems right, good.

In older age, there’s a refitting of some earlier molds,                            The roles of nurturer, giving and receiving love—                Grandmother, daughter/caretaker for an aged mother,                  Critical thinker, teacher, writer,                                                                Protector, comforter to the grieving.

I know myself.

I’m stepping up to become a wiser older woman                       Sometimes too outspoken, but what the hell!                                       Grateful for my loving family, husband, and friends.                                 For my still strong body.                                                                                     Blessed.

But no more molds.

Liz, when considering 80, chose to do so in a spiritual way, drawing upon her own religious tradition in the process.  No matter what our personal religious backgrounds might be, we can all certainly relate.

She says that…

To paraphrase Henry David Thoreau, when it comes time for me to die, I do not want to discover that I have not lived.

DAYENU

By Liz David

So, Hineni, here I am God,

Approaching eighty, amazed–awestruck, full of your Presence–

Still here, striving to live my life with the wonderment of childhood and the wisdom of age,

Still here, striving to live an ordinary life in an extraordinary way,

Because you, God, were there when I was born,

And I’m still striving to fulfill the promise of all those years ago when the seed that was me, Elisheva, was planted–

Elisheva, Oath of God.

Hineni, have I lived up to my name?

Approaching eighty, I look back and remember that there have been times when I thought, if I die now, it would be enough–toda raba, I am grateful for the full life You have given me

I still believe that, even as time passes and I have much less time ahead than behind.  And yet, I ask, is there ever enough? Is it ever Dayenu?

The words “we are led where we choose to go” speak to me, or was it You speaking to me, Holy One of Being, all along?

Was it You pulling the strings of my cosmos, pushing, pulling, cajoling as I made the life choices that brought me to this moment?

Hineni, God, here I am, still here, waiting for the next tug, and the one after that, and the one after that until You sever the thread that binds me to this earth

And set my soul free to join eternity with You—awestruck.

Dayenu–and that will be enough!

Eleanor and Liz
“Senior Moment” Feature Writers, Eleanor Jaffe and Liz David

 

 

 

TECH TALK WITH JOHN RUDY: Passwords

images

We are pleased to inaugurate our new monthly technology feature!  On the first Friday of each month, John Rudy will provide us with good, solid, practical, hands-on (and off) information and advice about our computer use.  Be sure to respond with questions and topics you’d like to have John address in future articles.

Today’s subject is PASSWORDS.

Almost everywhere you go in the computer world, you are asked for passwords, but there have been enough articles recently to convince everyone that, despite this mandate, many files are not secure. So let’s hit the basics.

  • To be secure, a password must be long and complex. Using “123456” or “johnrudy” will be cracked almost instantaneously. That is why you want a minimum of 8 characters and should use upper and lower case, numerals, and special characters. That gives about 75 options for each position.
  • Do not use the same password for all your accounts. If you do, when it is cracked, you are open totally.
  • Not everything has to be protected in the same way. Worry about money. So bank accounts, brokerage firms, and any site that has your credit card should be protected most carefully–and each must be different. (Using “123456” for your high school will probably result in little damage.)
  • Passwords must be written down. That does NOT mean having a file titled PASSWORD.doc on your computer or a written list in your desk top drawer. This is really the subject of a subsequent article, but if you store them in a file, the file must be encrypted with a password; and if you write them down, store them in a non-obvious place, like with your cheesecake recipes. There are a number of good, automated programs that can address this issue. Another solution is to place this file on a thumb-drive.
  • Give your password file to your heir. This is not a joke. Someone you trust needs to be able to step in when memory issues, incapacitation, fatal illness occur.

And finally, when you dispose of your computer, remember that merely deleting a file does NOT, in fact, remove it from your system. Best Buy and other places claim that they fully wipe your drive when you give them an old computer. Here is a good article on the subject from a reputable source.

http://pcsupport.about.com/od/toolsofthetrade/tp/erase-hard-drive.htm

John Rudy
BOLLI Member and Tech Wizard John Rudy

John, a longtime computer expert and guide, provides this helpful hints in this monthly feature in BOLLI Matters.  In the comment box below, provide questions on passwords or any other computer/tech topic that you’d like to know more about in future Tech Talk articles.

john.rudy@alum.mit.edu (781-861-0402)

 

 

CAST-ing Our Lines! Another New BOLLI Special Interest Group

Dropping by the BOLLI Gathering Space at 60 Turner Street on a Tuesday afternoon, you might find some unusual activity underway as CAST members work to discover, develop, and refine their performance skills in the dramatic arts.

An outgrowth of BOLLI’s long-standing “Scene-iors” Acting Troupe (an annual springtime course offering in which participants work on and present a staged reading of a play for the BOLLI community-wide audience), CAST provides interested members with opportunities to engage in a variety of creative drama/theatre exercises and basic acting work.

During each CAST session, the group does some warm-up pantomime followed by improvisation, concentration, and observation exercises. The techniques explored are then applied to short scenes from short stories, novels and plays as well as poetry.

Recently, after a rousing session of pantomimed catch and jump rope, the group was split into two sections who were each charged with the task of creating tableaux highlighting “the key moment” in its well-known fairy tale. Of course, at BOLLI, this meant first spending several minutes in highly animated intellectual discussion and debate about which moments in these tales are truly seminal. (In “Red Riding Hood,” for example, is it when the wolf gobbles up Red? Or is it when the Woodsman arrives on the scene? In “Cinderella,” is it when Cindy loses her slipper or when the Prince arrives to try it on the Ugly Stepsisters?) The intensity and commitment to the work were palpable.

Later in that session, various “misunderstood” fairy tale characters appeared on an improvised Dr. Phil-like television talk show to air their woes. Here, Snow White’s Queen (Judy Blatt) and Cinderella’s Stepmother (Sandy Clifford) share their frustrations with their television audience.

MALIGNED MOMS Snow White's Queen (Judy Blatt) and Cinderella's Stepmother (Sandy Clifford)
MALIGNED MOMS Snow White’s Queen (Judy Blatt) and Cinderella’s Stepmother (Sandy Clifford)

During another session, we delved into the importance of “focus” in setting any scene and applied what was learned about the use of the eye to scenes offering particular “focal” challenges. Becki Norman, Monique Frank, and Eileen Mitchell (below) take some planning time to determine how to approach George’s Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl, a story in which young George’s Grandmother downs a dose of quite a nasty concoction which gives her such a jolt of energy that she shoots up to the ceiling where she is suspended for some time.

GEORGE 1
SETTING THEIR SCENE Becki Norman, Monique Frank, and Eileen Mitchell

 

GEORGE
George (Monique) is stunned to see Grandma (Becki) in robust, rising movement.

Another group—consisting of Irwin Garfinkle, Judy Blatt, and Bunny Cohen—took on the challenge provided by The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl, a short story by Ray Bradbury in which a man who has just committed a murder becomes completely obsessed with removing his fingerprints from every inch of the man’s home.

FRUIT
OBSESSION TAKES HOLD Irwin Garfinkle, Judy Blatt, Bunny Cohen

FRUIT 2

After the two groups viewed each other’s work, Bunny broke into a huge smile. “This is so much fun!” she said to the rest of the CAST. Then she grinned.  “Remember when we used to just stand there and read?”

The group will continue to meet on Tuesdays throughout August and then, when the new term begins, will switch to a Friday time. Watch the weekly Bulletin for meeting announcements—any interested BOLLI member is welcome to CAST a line at any point!

MEET MEMBER DICK HANELIN: “WELL-GROUNDED” PRINTMAKER

IMG_0266
BOLLI Member Dick Hanelin shares linoleum prints based on his photography with the Camera Club.

At a meeting of the Camera Club during the spring term, relatively new BOLLI member Dick Hanelin shared linoleum prints he has made from photos he has taken.  The amount of detail and intricacy in his work are quite stunning.  Here’s what Dick has to say about his art.

I was an elementary school teacher for 37 years and taught in New York City and Newton, MA.   As a teacher,  I integrated the visual and performing arts into all curriculum areas.  After retirement, I took a variety of art courses and found I was most smitten by creating sculptures and linoleum prints.  Through Arthur Sharenow’s course at BOLLI,  my interest in photography was rekindled, and I have used some of my photos as a springboard for creating some of my linoleum prints.

I was drawn to linoleum prints because of the bold and graphic images that can be created through the use of contrasts.  In seeking out subjects for my prints, I am always thinking about shape, texture, line, and value. These elements of design are my driving force. That is why, for example, I find construction sites and basements (not your typical subjects) as fertile ground for my prints. I try to create a tension and movement in my pieces by using both realistic and imaginative elements in my compositions.

The printmaking process begins with making a drawing and then transferring it onto a block of linoleum.  I then carve into the linoleum with a variety of tools that create marks of different thicknesses. After this, ink is rolled onto the block of linoleum. (For my prints, it’s black ink.)  Where I have cut out the linoleum, white lines, shapes, and textures will appear, while the rest of the print will be black or gradations of grey.  This process takes much time, but I find it very enjoyable.

Hanelin_001_web

Hanelin_002_web

Hanelin_003_web

Hanelin_004_web copy

Dick and his wife Isobel, both career educators,  are now active BOLLI members who serve on the Study Group Support Committee. We are all benefitting from the wealth of their experience!

 

 

 

 

 

 

JULY’S SENIOR MOMENT: The Bright Side

Eleanor and Liz
Senior Moment Bloggers, Eleanor Jaffe (left) and Liz David (right)

LOOKING AT THE BRIGHT SIDE

by Liz David

The tune came up on my iPod during my morning “constitutional.”

Always Look at the Bright Side of Life.

I love the tune.

I step in time to the music, and I sing along as I walk.

But, how is it possible to always look at the bright side…

When my sister-in-law Miriam, whom I’ve known since I was nine, died a few weeks ago after ten years in a nursing home?

When my friends are facing life-threatening obstacles?

When the world is so topsy-turvy?

When terrorists kill and maim the innocent almost every day?

When children, old folks, and thousands in between don’t have enough food?

When our presidential candidates have higher disapproval than approval ratings?

When, worst of all, the Red Sox lose to the L.A. Angels by a score of 21-2? I mean, really!

The saying “when you save a life, you save the world” is true.

So, as elders, we need to connect our heads and our hearts,

To encourage ourselves and others to do what we can when we can,

To reach out to the people around us,

To make a difference by modeling what it is to really live, every day, until we die,

To, hopefully, save the world.

OUR TURNER STREET GALLERY: Helen Abrams’ Photography

 

AT THE TURNER STREET GALLERY:  HELEN ABRAMS

BOLLI Member and Photographer Helen Abrams
BOLLI Member and Photographer Helen Abrams

Currently, a host of Helen’s photographs are on display at 60 Turner Street.  Beginning at the stair landing where two pieces hang, viewers can proceed to the Purple Room to find an additional set of framed works which showcase her lovely work.

This is not the first show of Helen’s work.   She has had pieces in both group and solo shows at the Holyoke Center Art Gallery in Cambridge, the Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown, and at both the Arlington and Watertown Public Libraries.

Helen says that “Photography has inspired me to find new ways of expressing the way I see and experience the world. I find beauty in the smallest details; in the fleeting shadows and light; in the juxtaposition of lines, texture, colors and shapes. Whether traveling or observing nature, I use my camera to capture an image (of plants and trees especially) that might not be a traditional view. My goal is to bring back a glimpse of what I’ve experienced in a way that makes you stop for a moment to enjoy and reflect.”

A virtual tour of Helen’s current show at Turner Street includes:

Yellow Wood Tree
Yellow Wood Tree

“This photograph of a yellow wood tree was taken several years ago at Mt. Auburn Cemetery.  Sadly, it is no more–it was struck by lightning and taken down last year.  So, this image is a treasured memory.”

Great Brewster Line
Great Brewster Line

“I took this one last summer when we were visiting Great Brewster Island and lighthouse.  The shoes, held together with clothespins, were sitting on the lighthouse base drying in the sun.”

Helen Abrams Photography
The Stewartias
“The stewartias, my favorites, are two trees located in the Consecration Dell at Mt. Auburn Cemetery that have ‘four season interest.’  This photo was taken in the fall, and you can see the leaves turning a beautiful shade of red/orange.  But it’s the bark, which stays the same all through the year that makes me love the stewartias.  Shades of brown and gray, stately and grand.”
Old Door Lock
Old Door Lock
Out on a Limb
Out on a Limb
Twin Birches
Twin Birches
Roman Garden
Roman Garden
Birch Butterfly
Birch Butterfly

For information about purchasing images or future shows, contact Helen at hsabrams@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

JUNE SCREENING ROOM: “GREAT DAMES”

“GREAT DAMES”

by Sue Wurster

When it comes to movies and videos, my taste tends to run to all things British, and in this first installment of our monthly “Screening Room” feature, I thought I’d share a few gems starring my favorite British “Great Dames” Judi Dench, Joan Plowright, and Maggie Smith.

You may not have run across Dame Judi in the 2014 British made-for-television gem, ESIO TROT.  Based on a story by Roald Dahl, Dench plays a sweet widow living in an apartment house for mature residents.   Her new upstairs neighbor, Mr. Hoppy (Dustin Hoffman), soon notices the lovely lady as he waters the lush plants in his terrace garden.  This is a sweet, warm romance well worth searching out.

ESIO TROT

It can actually be seen online by clicking here.

In 2012, Dame Judi made a very short TV movie called FRIEND REQUEST PENDING in which she and a friend spend an afternoon exploring the world of social media networking.  A wonderful piece about love and lifelong friendship.

FRIEND REQUEST

Dame Joan Plowright in MRS. PALFRY AT THE CLAREMONT is a 2005 gem.   Essentially abandoned by her family after moving her into the Claremont Hotel, Mrs. Palfry ends up enjoying a wonderful friendship with a young writer.

MRS P

And for anyone who loves a good comic mystery, WIDOWS PEAK is not to be missed.  The lovely young Edwina (Natasha Richardson) moves into Widows Peak, where a surprising number of residents fit that description, and stirs up the social scene.  Great fun!

WIDOWS

And then, there’s dear Dame Maggie.  Ah…Maggie–she just keeps going!  Her most recent venture, THE LADY IN THE VAN is the true story of playwright Alan Bennett’s relationship with an eccentric homeless woman who parked her van temporarily in his driveway…and remained there for fifteen years.  Beautifully done.

the-lady-in-the-van

And if you didn’t catch this 2003 HBO Made-for-TV movie, give MY HOUSE IN UMBRIA a try.  After a terrorist bomb is detonated on a train in Italy,  Mrs. Delahunty, a rather eccentric romance novelist, opens her villa to three stranded survivors.

UMBRIA

One of my favorites includes all three of my cinematic idols–so, if you haven’t seen TEA WITH MUSSOLINI, it’s a must.  And if you have, it may be time for another visit.   It’s a lush, semi-autobiographical Zeffirelli production about a young boy being brought up by a group of British woman during (and after) World War II.

TEA 3

Lily Tomlin (a different sort of dame altogether) is in this one as well, and I recently saw GRANDMA on “On Demand.”  Lily plays a poet who hasn’t written since losing her partner.   When her pregnant teenage granddaughter appears on her doorstep, she is quick to rise to the occasion to help her.

GRANDMA

Share YOUR favorites in an upcoming “Screening Room” feature!

MEET MEMBER LARRY SCHWIRIAN: Drawing on Experience

MEET MEMBER LARRY SCHWIRIAN: DRAWING ON EXPERIENCE

Larry
Member and Writer Larry Schwirian

I was born and raised in a small town on the Monongahela River south of Pittsburgh, the second of five children. I guess you could say my father was a small business person–he owned a milk hauling route, picking up raw milk from farmers and hauling it to a dairy. As cows give milk twice every day, this was a 365-day a year job, so we never took family vacations. Still, he managed to serve on the town council for over thirty years and twice served as mayor of the town. When my mother was fifteen, her mother died, and she became surrogate mother to her six younger siblings. So, I grew up with not only an older brother and three younger sisters but with sixteen girl cousins who all lived within walking distance. Our house was where everyone congregated for morning coffee, gossip, and news analysis.

At eighteen, I went off to Case Institute of Technology to study engineering but decided that wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, so I transferred to Western Reserve to study architecture. It was there that I met my wife Caroline. A year after graduation from Case Western Reserve University, we were married, and a year after that, we moved to the Boston area, working as architectural novices in large firms in Cambridge. Very soon after that, the first of our three sons was born, and a few years after that, we moved into our historic home in the Auburndale section of Newton.

Over the next forty plus years, I worked for a number of large firms in the area and eventually became a project manager and/or a project architect. I had the opportunity to work on projects all over the country in addition to doing local projects like the Harvard Square Subway Station, The Wang Ambulatory Care Center at Mass General Hospital, Josiah Quincy Elementary School in Chinatown, the addition to the old Ritz Carlton Hotel in Boston, and One Newton Place in Newton Corner.

In 2010, Caroline and I retired from our positions in large firms, and in 2011, we established our own firm, Caroline & Lawrence Schwirian, Architects LLC.  We still do some residential work, and I still do some technical consulting with larger firms, but for the most part, we have enjoyed retirement, watching our grandchildren grow, and trying to keep up with gardening, yard work, and house maintenance.

In the fall of 2015, we joined BOLLI, and, for the first term, just attended the Lunch & Learns. I also participated in the Sages & Seekers program and joined the BOLLI Writers Guild. For the second term, I signed up for Betsy Campbell’s “Five Stories in Five Weeks” writing class, Peter Carcia’s “The Art of Storytelling” class, Mary Ann Byrnes’  “The Elephant in the Room” class about metaphors, and Larry Koff’s class on “The Death and Life of Cities and Towns in Metro Boston.”  I enjoyed all the classes, but I especially relished the opportunity to refine my writing and storytelling skills.

Here is one of the nonfiction pieces Larry has done as a participant in the BOLLI Writers Guild.

GIFTED OR TALENTED

(In Response to the Prompt: “What a Remarkable Gift”)

What is the difference between being “gifted” and being “talented?” Although there are no generally agreed upon definitions for these two words, they are similar in meaning but are generally used in different ways.  The term “gifted” is most often, but not always, used in conjunction with intellectual ability and implies an innate quality. In many school placement decisions, individuals with IQ scores above 130 (the upper 2% on the bell curve) are generally classified as being “gifted.”  While a person’s IQ may or may not be a true measure of intelligence, it at least measures some innate ability. The term “talented” is most often used to describe someone with an acquired ability to perform significantly above the norm in any one of many different endeavors, including but not limited to music, art, food preparation, or athletics but typically not intellectual pursuits. A person becomes “talented” after much hard work and practice.

I am aware of no numerical scale that can be used to evaluate “talent” in music other than the number of records or albums sold by an artist, but it would be unfair and foolhardy to compare the “talent” of a classical violinist to a pop singer by this method. Similarly, there is no logical way to numerically evaluate a painter, a sculptor, or a chef.   Sports may be the exception.   In baseball, for example, the batting or earned run average can be used to evaluate a player’s performance.   In football, a quarterback can be evaluated based upon the percentage of passes completed, touchdown passes thrown, or number of games won, but you can’t really evaluate the “talent” of a defensive lineman by comparing it to the “talent” of a running back or quarterback.

Using the above meanings, it is possible to be “gifted” without being “talented” and “talented” without being “gifted.”   It is also possible to be both “gifted and talented,” which is probably the case for most people who rise to the very top in their respective vocations. It could be said that people like Madonna and Shakira are both “intellectually gifted” and “musically gifted” as well as being “talented.”   Many people would agree that Elvis Presley was “musically gifted” and “talented” but not “intellectually gifted.”  Many who don’t make it quite to the top can be very “talented” but not necessarily “gifted.”  Similarly, most lists don’t include Sharon Stone as being among the one hundred most “talented” actresses, but I have read that she has a nearly genius IQ of over 150.

While it appears there is at least some standard way to evaluate whether a person is “intellectually gifted,” there is no universally accepted, objective way to evaluate and compare the “talent” of two or more individuals.  One would have to say then that “giftedness” is innate, but “talent” is in the eye, ear, nose, or taste buds of the beholder.

You can leave comments for Larry in the box below.

 

 

JUNE BOOK NOOK: THREE MORE GEMS

Our “Book Nook” reviewer Abby Pinard returns with three more gems you may have missed or may want to pick up and re-read…

THE ADVENTURES OF AUGIE MARCH

by Saul Bellow, 1953

4 Augie1 (1)

It took me almost forty years to read “Augie March.” I bought the book in the late ’70s (cover price $1.95 and cover art worthy of Harold Robbins).

This was shortly after Saul Bellow won the Nobel Prize for Literature and after years of listening to my father (also Saul, also a first-generation American Jew, and roughly Bellow’s contemporary) rave about the book.  (It was also years before Bellow became a curmudgeonly conservative, but that’s another story.)

The book sat on many different shelves for many years and was later joined by my father’s copy (cover price $.95 and thankfully without the art):

4 Augie2

But while I became acquainted over the years with virtually all Bellow’s fictional characters – Henderson, Herzog, Sammler, Charlie Citrine, Ravelstein and more – I never got around to Augie.  Until now.

I am an American, Chicago born–Chicago, that somber city–and go at things as I have taught myself, free-style, and will make the record in my own way: first to knock, first admitted; sometimes an innocent knock, sometimes a not so innocent.”

And so Bellow, in 1953, announced his presence and his ambition, the first of the post-war Jewish writers to blast his way into mainstream American literature.

Augie March grows up fatherless amidst grinding poverty in “that somber city” but sees only boundless possibilities, a life in which he can be whatever he chooses if only he can figure out what he is meant to be.   All of Chicago — i.e., the whole world — is his, from dingy rooming houses and pool halls to opulent homes and rich, beautiful women.   He tries his hand at multiple enterprises, not all of them legal, many hilarious, while struggling to educate himself (reading, always reading) and pondering the great philosophical questions.

The novel is episodic rather than plot-driven.   Augie’s adventures range from hustling textbooks and babysitting a seasick prizefighter to training an eagle to hunt lizards in Mexico and drifting at sea in a lifeboat with a madman.   He is drawn into the schemes of friends, mentors, and lovers – he refers to himself as a “recruit” – but it’s never long before he is ready to move on, always seeking what he is intended for.

The Adventures of Augie March was the Great American Novel of its time and maybe of ours as well. With his exuberance, optimism, and passion for a life well and thoughtfully lived,  Augie is a hero for all time.

THE GRASS IS SINGING

by Doris Lessing, 1950

5 Grass

Nobel Laureate Doris Lessing died in 2013 at the age of 94.  The Grass Is Singing was her first novel, published in 1950 when she was thirty years old, had moved from Southern Rhodesia to London, and had had three children by two husbands.   Lessing wasn’t born in Africa – she arrived with her British parents as a young child from Persia – but her early novels were based on her years on her family’s struggling farm and her experience as a young wife and mother in colonial Africa with its rigid constraints based on race, class and gender.

While The Grass Is Singing reflects Lessing’s deep feeling of place, it is the least autobiographical of her Africa novels. It is the five-volume Children of Violence series that tracks with Lessing’s life as it follows the remarkable Martha Quest from adolescence through marriage, children, communism, and eventually to London. But The Grass Is Singing is a masterful work that unflinchingly exposes the brutality of the relationship between white masters and black workers and the fear and repression at its core.

The novel begins with the murder of Mary Turner, a farmer’s wife, and the arrest of Moses, her houseboy.   Mary was a thirty-ish independent woman in the city, with a job and a casual social life, when an overheard conversation rattled her equanimity and she determined to marry.   She accepts Dick Turner’s proposal and moves to his farm, which is forever verging on bankruptcy, and to a squalid life for which she is unprepared and unsuited.  Dick is an inept but stubborn farmer and overlord, unable to wrest any value from his land or his workers.   Mary is isolated, brutalized by the sun, and her fear of the natives begets increasing cruelty and confused feelings.   Neither is capable of intimacy or self-awareness, and their attempt to make a life within their constricted environment can only result in ruin.

This is an unrelentingly sad book with tragic characters whose destruction is inevitable.   There isn’t a light moment as Lessing depicts Mary’s desolate life, her psychological deterioration, and the dehumanizing effects of virulent racism.   The land and climate are brilliantly evoked, and the social and political concerns that permeate Lessing’s later work are presaged here. It’s a book that grabs you in the first chapter and doesn’t let go.

 

LOLLY WILLOWES

by Sylvia Townsend Warner, 1926

6 Lolly Willowes

British writer Sylvia Townsend Warner is best known for the short stories that appeared over decades in The New Yorker.   Even brief biographical blurbs usually reference her leftist political affiliations and sometimes her 40-year relationship with Valentine Ackland, a poet.   Lolly Willowes, the first of her seven novels, was published in 1926 and was a bestseller both in the U.K. and in the U.S., where it was the first selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club.

“Even in 1902, there were some forward spirits who wondered why that Miss Willowes, who was quite well off, and not likely to marry, did not make a home for herself and take up something artistic or emancipated. Such possibilities did not occur to any of Laura’s relations. Her father being dead, they took it for granted that she should be absorbed into the household of one brother or the other. And Laura, feeling rather as if she were a piece of property forgotten in the will, was ready to be disposed of as they should think best.”

Laura’s relations dispose of her by depositing her in her brother’s comfortable London household, where she becomes Aunt Lolly, indispensable caretaker for her nieces and domestic companion to her sister-in-law. But after twenty dutiful years, Laura succumbs to the lure of nature and, to the horror and puzzlement of her family, moves to the village of Great Mop in the Chiltern Hills, chosen from a guidebook. On long, solitary walks in the woods and fields around Great Mop, Laura responds to the magical power around her and enters a fantasy world in which she makes a deal that offers her a life of her own.

“One doesn’t become a witch to run around being harmful, or to run around being helpful either, a district visitor on a broomstick. It’s to escape all that – to have a life of one’s own, not an existence doled out to you by others…”

Sylvia Townsend Warner’s witty and lyrical prose is a vehicle for her subversive, satirical commentary on a world in which only by selling her soul to the devil can a woman become independent of the expectations of society and her family.   Delightful.

Abby Pinard is a lifelong book nut who retired from a forty-year computer software career in 2007 and ticked an item off her bucket list by going to work in a bookstore. She is a native New Yorker who moved to Boston recently to be among her people:  family and Red Sox fans. She is a music lover, crossword puzzler, baseball fan, and political junkie who flunked Halloween costumes but can debug her daughter’s wifi.

Comments are most welcome–just jot your thoughts in the box below!

 

MEET MEMBER MARJORIE ROEMER: “It Feels Like Choreography”

MARJORIE ROEMER: “IT FEELS LIKE CHOREOGRAPHY”

A Profile by Sue Wurster

Marjorie Roemer
BOLLI Member, SGL, Study Group Support Committee Chair, Writer, and more…

Every August, a group of writers and teachers of writing gather at the Bread Loaf Inn near Bread Loaf Mountain near Middlebury, Vermont for a ten-day conference. The New Yorker has called it “the oldest and most prestigious writers’ conference in the country.”  And this August, that group of prominent writers and teachers will include BOLLI’s own Marjorie Roemer.

Marjorie’s background as a teacher of writing is an impressive one, which includes her having served as director of the Rhode Island Writing Project and having been a frequent contributor to The Quarterly of the National Writing Project. Her scholarly publications have appeared in numerous professional journals; she has presented at a wide range of professional conferences; and, all along, she has taught.

At BOLLI, Marjorie’s memoir writing class has been a perennial favorite, with many participants, in fact, returning semester after semester.  (One class member has actually taken the course all nine times that it has been offered!) “I’m most relaxed when I’m teaching writing,” she says, “and after teaching everything from junior high through grad school, working on writing with this population is thrilling.” She explains that, in this setting, people write what is real, providing testaments to lives lived and reflected upon. “When we read and share, it is a stirring affirmation of our time of life and the wisdom that helps us to cope.”

And yet, writing and teaching writing were not Marjorie’s original path.  She actually started out as a dancer.

“I think I always danced,” she muses. “We did a lot of creative play in the neighborhood school I went to in Queens, so there was often a lot of movement.  I started lessons with Sophie Maslow at the New Dance Group when I was six.” Sophie Maslow, who danced with the Martha Graham company for nearly a decade, was, herself, a modern dance pioneer who founded the group. “Sophie did with us what modern dance teachers do with children—jumping over puddles, reaching up high for stars.  It didn’t seem serious enough to me, and I didn’t like it.  So I took ballet—and, to me, that was real dance! Eventually, when I was old enough to take the subway into the city, I studied at Ballet Arts at Carnegie Hall, and on Fridays, after class, I would go to City Center to watch the NYC Ballet Company. When I was a high school freshman, I finally saw Martha Graham, and it was a revelation. I began studying at the Graham studio and then, later, I was back at the New Dance Group—this time, with a new appreciation for puddles and stars. And then, I went to Bennington, in part because of its famous dance department.”

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Marjorie in a piece she choreographed about a medieval lady and a bird.

After graduation, Marjorie studied at the Jose Limon company on a scholarship. Classes were not only taught by members of the company but often by Jose himself whom she remembers as “a tremendously elegant man who wore black tights and a ruffled white dress shirt when he taught. I never danced with his company but with Joe Gifford and my then husband Martin Morginsky who both ended up forming companies in New York. We taught and performed at Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan. And then, I had a baby, needed to make a living, and began teaching junior high school.”

After a thoughtful pause, Marjorie says that, “teaching feels like choreography to me” and that, to this day, she still gets that “on-stage, it’s-here-and-now, rush” before every class begins. “I feel like my whole life has been ‘provisioning’ as I have looked to find the rhythm and the shape of it. Looking at a class this way gives me a sense of how I might shape it–but how I might improvise at the same time.”

This juxtaposition of planning and improvising seems to be central to Marjorie’s thoughts about dance, about teaching, and about life itself. “That idea of working with ‘the chance thing’ is so intriguing to me…surprising yourself—shaping but maintaining some wildness.” The poet Stanley Kunitz, she points out, says that, “when you pay too much attention, the garden becomes a landscape.”

Today, Marjorie’s writing takes a largely reflective bent—as is evident in the following sermon she wrote and delivered recently at the UCC in Franklin.

recalculating

RECALCULATING

A Sermon by Marjorie Roemer

I’m a retired English professor, but the sonnets of Shakespeare are not all memorized in my mind, in order 1 – 154. They are not even all entirely familiar. But one of them has always nestled in my thoughts, even before it had particular, personal meaning for me.   Sonnet 73. Here’s the first stanza:

                       That time of year thou may’st in me behold                                                                When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang                                                            Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,                                                    Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.

The poem reflects on the waning of life, the time when most leaves are gone, when only a few yellow leaves remain. The branches that once were filled with birds are now bare, like the empty section of a church where the choir once was housed. The poem is about the November of life… that time of waning. Not the end, but toward the end.

Somehow, the poem always seemed resonant for me, but as my husband was struggling with brain cancer in the last year of his life, the words seemed more and more relevant, etched into my consciousness. Don died almost a year and a half ago, but the poem follows me around, stays with me as background music, a sound track for my life.

                       That time of year thou may’st in me behold                                                                When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang                                                            Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,                                                    Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.

 So, now in my 76th year, I think about this November of life. There is much, always, to remind us about aging. The new aches and pains, the knees that don’t quite work the way they used to, the forgetfulness, the night blindness, the diminishment of some faculties, the many losses in our world, in our circle of friends, in our closest loved ones.

But perhaps nothing marks age for me as sharply as my incompetence with electronic devices. Four-year-olds can manage what I struggle with. My grandchildren need to be called in to show me, one more time, how to play the DVD, how to work the iPad, how to text. What is intuitive for them is not for me and seems to mark a dividing line between our lives. Even more significant than our differences in musical taste, or the TV shows we watch, or the movies that we go to are these differences in how we access information, place ourselves as receivers and senders of the pertinent facts about our lives.

If I manage to master one medium, they are already on to the next. I’m on Facebook, but they have moved onto to InstaGram or Twitter. I can manage writing on the computer, but I don’t blog, use wikis, crowd source, or podcast.

What I have finally managed to use is my GPS. For several years, I avoided it. That woman with the irritating voice always wanted me to get on 495 from exit 17 on 140 instead of the King Street exit 16. So, I found myself at odds with her from the beginning. I put away the device and said I’d get along without it, Googling directions in advance and printing out a map. But, recently, I’ve come to rely on the lady in the GPS. When I’m driving alone now and floundering, it is useful to have her tell me that in .2 miles I will be turning right. Or to have her let me know that I’ve got another 45 miles to go on this road and I’m likely to arrive at my destination just in time.

But if I have any idea where I’m going, that I want to come home on 495, not on 126, that I don’t want to drive through Framingham Center on this trip, that I won’t get off the highway at Forge Park . . . I hear that voice saying over and over again recalculating, recalculating.

It has become a new mantra for me . . . recalculating. As I move on to a life alone after 48 years of marriage, to a house without children in it, to a life after retirement, I find myself recalculating, taking a new path, making new choices in the November of my life. And in this “time of year thou may’st in me behold,” while there is no GPS to tell me where to turn or how many miles more I have to go, I have found remarkable guides along the way, a reminder that when you have to throw yourself on the mercy of the universe, it will respond, it will provide.

I began to search out supports. Suddenly, friends became more central to my life . . . the women’s group at the condominiums where I live, the people I know from BOLLI. Old friends. Things that were in the background of my life moved to the foreground. My children became essential to me in a way that was new. And I added some new things as well: painting classes at the Danforth Museum and attendance at the First Universalist Society in Franklin.

I did not grow up believing in a bearded man sitting in the sky keeping watch over my every move and listening to my every cry for help. But I can’t help but believe in some sort of benevolence in the universe, some way that the world can provide what we need if only we are ready to receive. I arrived at the church sort of unexpectedly, venturing tentatively one Sunday when I read there would be some Miles Davis music played. It was right down the street, easy to get to, easy to sit down, and easy to enter on the fringe of this community. The music was great. The feel of the place was interesting. Though the rituals were new to me, the feel of a sacred communal space was palpable. I stayed.

Eventually, I took a sermon writing class and found that the task of writing in a way that bears witness to your own experience while also offering some hopeful idea for others to grab on to was intriguing and challenging. For me, in this last year, the primary subject has been loss– how to deal with it, how to survive it, how to make something useful from it. Writing sermons offered me new ways to approach the problem. I’ve searched for images or situations that could name what I was experiencing. What I found was…Recalculating.

So, on my recalculated journey, what have I found? Certainly that there is love and support in the world that you may overlook when you are tightly enmeshed in your own self-sufficient, small cocoon. Possibilities for growth and new directions are there when you need them enough to seek them out.

The final couplet of that Shakespeare sonnet is:

               This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,                                  To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

Those lines haunted me as Don was dying. Mortality is certainly something we all know about. Still, we come, at certain moments in our lives, to know mortality more acutely, more directly. So it was for us when the surgeon said: “The surgery was entirely successful; he has fourteen months to live.”   For fourteen months, we lived with that life-sentence hanging over our every minute. And it was true . . . those moments became more precious because we knew that they were few, that they would soon be gone.

And if there is something positive to be wrested from this ordeal, it is that sense of mortality that gives meaning and savor to life. It is because it is fleeting that life is so very precious; it is because it is finite that we have to use it well. And, in the end, it is love which is the enduring, transforming action. Love emerges as the stave against obliteration, the defense against loss.

In her online column, Heart Advice, the American Buddhist nun Pema Chodron has some advice that can be applied here. She says:

YOU HAVE A CHOICE

If you have embarked on this journey of self-reflection, you may be at a place that everyone, sooner or later, experiences on the spiritual path. After a while it seems like almost every moment of your life you’re there, where you realize you have a  choice. You have a choice whether to open or close, whether to hold on or let go, whether to harden or soften, whether to hold your seat or strike out.  That choice is presented to you again and again and again.

In my words:    We can always recalculate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JUNE’S SENIOR MOMENT: Resilience

This month, we decided to focus on resilience–from an expert’s point of view…and from our own.  We hope these thoughts resonate with you as well–Liz and Eleanor

Eleanor and Liz

RESILIENCE

By Elizabeth David

“Resilient people are like trees bending in the wind,” says Beth Howard in her article The Secrets of Resilient People. “They bounce back.” In her article, originally published in the November 10, 2010 issue of AARP Magazine, Howard says that developing and nurturing the quality of “resilience” is key to whether or not we age well.

Resilient people, she notes, have some qualities in common which, most importantly, can also be learned.  The following is a summary of the steps and qualities she isolates as being central to resilience. Resilient people…

  1. Stay Connected: “Research bears out the importance of connection, and good social support. .Resilient people report increased quality of life and well- being regardless of their burdens.”
  2. Remain Optimistic: Finding positive meaning in caregiving and helping others enhances ones ability to bounce back after death or a significant loss.
  3. Avoid Negative Thinking: “Experts say negative thinking is just a bad habit though it may take some work to change your mindset.” Negative thinking is learned and can be unlearned. We don’t need to be “cockeyed optimists” to have an optimistic point of view.
  4. Nurture Their Spiritual Dimension: Those of us who nurture our spiritual dimension, whether through religion or other means, bounce back from normal depression more easily.
  5. Maintain Their Sense of Wonder: “They’re playful.” Elizabeth Kubler-Ross used to write that we should be childlike in developing our sense of wonderment.
  6. Give Back: “The benefit you derive for yourself is as great as that which you give to others.”
  7. “Pick Their Battles”: “tending to focus on things they have some influence over.”
  8. Eat Well and Stay Healthy: “Exercise literally helps to repair neurons in brain areas that are particularly susceptible to stress.”
  9. Gain Strength from Adversity: They find the “silver lining.”

When I interact with my BOLLI friends I often see examples of resilience that bring a sense of wonderment to my heart. As I am reminded of the above, so I hope that this will be food for thought for you in facing the challenges of life.

As we move forward together, may we all go from strength to strength.

 

To read Howard’s article, click here: “The Secrets of Resilient People”

TIMES OF CRISIS

by Eleanor Jaffe

With unnerving frequency, friends—especially male friends—are growing sick, having accidents, experiencing complications from illnesses and surgeries, and are dying.  Statistics have predicted this mortality jump among men while we women generally are outliving our male partners and classmates by some years.  Scant comfort for survivors.  We mourn our friends and comfort their widows.  We close ranks and try to hold one another closer.

Have you noticed?  Nothing in a good, long, traditional marriage prepares one for widowhood.  The division of labor and tasks, the other half of your memory, your partner in conversation, your bedmate — vanish.  And then there is just one, with the memories of two and only half the previous skills and talents.

A thousand or more miles away, my friend Tom has just died.  His wife Martha soldiers on.  I try to send comforts over the miles.  But if I, a friend, feel shaken, what does Martha feel?

All of us, we age mates, are on this road together–observing, experiencing, and comforting our friends.  The community that we have created and continue to create at BOLLI can be a sustaining and supporting one during our crises.  Our activities, courses, conversations, and shared experiences can provide new ballast during these senior years.  Let’s remember to support one another, and “be there” for each other.  Let’s connect, create new friendships, and reach out when needed.

 

BOLLI’S NEW BOOK CLUB

YES, BOLLI NOW HAS A BOOK CLUB!

Seems like such a natural for BOLLI, doesn’t it?   And yet, BOLLI’s Book Club has only recently been added to an ever burgeoning array of Special Interest Groups at 60 Turner Street.  Abby Pinard and Charlie Marz have been active in both the New Yorker Fiction Salon, focused on short stories, and the Poetry Circle.  Both are avid readers as well, and so, it seems as though it was a completely logical step to team up and lead a BOLLI-wide Book Club.   When asked about the forming of the group, the two had much to share.

> What made you decide to start the group?

Charlie: I wanted to be in a book group in which I had some greater control over the choices made.  Not that we’re not completely open to others’ suggestions, but I did want to be able to exert some significant influence over what we might read. I didn’t want to do it alone and thought co-leading with Abby, one of BOLLI’s most voracious readers, would make it more interesting and enjoyable – for me and for those who attend.

Abby: It was an easy decision for me when Charlie suggested it. I love to talk about books almost as much as I love to read them, and I knew there were many BOLLI members who would be ideal companions. I had gotten to know Charlie in the New Yorker Fiction Salon and the Poetry Circle (also venues for lively discussion), and I knew his leadership would elevate any discussion.

> Have you been in other book groups?  

Abby:  I’ve never been in a private book group, but, after retirement, I started attending a drop-in group at the library led by a wonderful professional book group leader (yes, there is such a thing). I came to trust her selections and particularly enjoyed the books I would not have chosen on my own.

Charlie: I’m in a non-fiction book group.  Mostly, we don’t talk about the month’s selection.  Almost every conversation becomes a discussion of politics, more often than not the Middle East.  I thought it might be time to find an opportunity to actually talk about interesting and provocative contemporary literary fiction.

> How did you go about choosing the books that you have chosen for the group thus far?

Charlie:  So far, they’ve been a mix of books we’ve read and felt would be good for discussion (Stegner’s Crossing to Safety) and books from our stacks of books we’ve not read but that have been well received (Schlink’s Homecoming and Erdrich’s The Round House).  We’ve also tried to focus on work that is relatively accessible (i.e. in paperback and without long wait lines at the library), relatively short (200-300+ pages), and by important if sometimes overlooked writers.

Abby:   We also wanted to mix things up: something old, something new, some challenging, some less so,…

> What plans do you have for the future of the group?

Charlie:  Our hope is that we will continue to meet monthly throughout the year and that there will continue to be a group of 15 – 20 who find the books selected and conversation sufficiently interesting to trust our choices and to return as often as possible.

Abby:  What he said.

> So, what are some of your all-time favorite books?

Abby:   Here are a few, spanning many years–The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass, Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess, the four “Rabbit” novels by John Updike, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell, The Sot-Weed Factor by John Barth, anything by Philip Roth,…

Charlie:   Hard enough to remember what I read last week.  I suppose McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove, Chabon’s Kavalier and Clay, early John Irving, McKewan’s Atonement

Clearly, these two have excellent taste, and each gathering of the group is sure to be an animated and engaged one.  Come once–come regularly.  And enjoy!

 

 

Still at It! A Little Inspiration…

collins and baez

Joan Baez celebrated her 75th birthday with a concert at the Beacon Theatre in New York City, sharing the stage with a host of friends including David Crosby, the Indigo Girls, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, Emmylou Harris, Mavis Staples, and more.   For me, it was something close to heaven and took me right back to high school…

I was in high school in Oberlin, Ohio in the late 60s, and, in those years, virtually all of the “folks” arrived in town for concerts which, given the size of the college and the town itself, were intimate and very special.   I actually sold my bike to pay for a ticket to see Joan Baez when I was in the 9th grade…and when Judy Collins came to town, a group of us sneaked into the basement of the Rathskeller in Wilder Hall to listen to her in rehearsal.  ( We got caught, of course.) Seeing these two still at it at ages 75 and 77 is pretty awesome.

–Sue

MEET MEMBER MARGIE ARONS-BARRON: A HOLE IN THE BUCKET

Meet Margie Arons-Barron, accomplished “wordsmith” and enthusiastic BOLLI member.

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 10.25.19 PM

BOLLI freshman Marjorie Arons-Barron is president of Barron Associates, a communications consulting firm, and a blogger at www.marjoriearonsbarron.com

If she looks familiar to you, it could be because for 20 years she may have been a guest in your living room, telling you what to think about anything from the local sewer bond issue to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. You may not always have agreed with her. Even her husband doesn’t. Not all the time anyway.

Margie is well known for her long career as editorial director at WCVB-TV, Boston’s ABC affiliate. From 1979-1999, she also produced and often hosted Five on Five, back then the nation’s longest running, locally produced public affairs discussion program.

Margie has been honored with numerous awards, including three New England Emmy Awards and, for five consecutive years, the National Award for Excellence in Television Editorials from the National Broadcast Editorial Association.

Prior to Channel 5, Margie was an associate producer of PBS Television’s The Advocates (which, she confesses, was the most fun she ever had at work); a national political affairs writer for The Boston Phoenix (she’s glad she’s no longer covering national conventions); a reporter for WGBH-TV’s Ten O’Clock News and political editor of The Newton Times. (Covering the local scene is hardest of all because you end up in the CVS line next to someone you’ve just criticized in print.)

Margie is a passionate overseer emerita of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and a director of the Mass. Broadcasters Hall of Fame. An honors graduate of Wellesley College, she received an honorary doctorate in humane letters from Regis College.

Margie joined BOLLI last summer. Contrary to some critics of her editorials, she jokes, she has never written fiction. At BOLLI, she is now writing fiction and also memoir. She’s loving all her courses and exhilarated to pursue interests sidelined for nearly 50 years as she pursued a career and raised a family. Her two sons and five grandkids are still what she is proudest of. Her husband and best friend, Jim Barron, is an attorney and consultant and is writing a book with a working title of The Greek Connection, to be published next year by Melville House.

Margie wrote the following piece in response to “A Hole in the Bucket” Writers Guild prompt earlier this year.

 

A HOLE IN THE BUCKET

by Margie Arons-Barron

Tick. Tock.  Tick. Tock.  Warned the grandfather clock in the living room. Liza was running late. Nothing had gone right this morning. When the alarm went off, she wasn’t sure where she was. It took her a while to get her bearings. As her feet hit the hardwood floor, it suddenly came to her. She and Henry had an appointment at ten to take care of something legal. Was it their mortgage? No, they hadn’t had a mortgage for years. Update their wills? Yes, that was it. They were meeting the attorney–Asa what’s-his-name?–at the law offices because Henry had had an emergency appointment with the dentist to glue a crown back in his mouth. Liza and Henry had been together since they were children. After 45 years of marriage, it was patch, patch, patch.

She went to the closet and grabbed a pair of grey flannel pants with an elasticized waistband along with a tailored shirt. Was this grey or blue? It didn’t matter. Where were her socks? Maybe the ones left rolled up last night in her weather-beaten running shoes would do. She pulled them on and struggled with her shoelaces. Maybe it was time to go Velcro, but she couldn’t bring herself to do that. It just didn’t look dignified. Finally, she was dressed.

There were two pink post-its on the bathroom mirror. “Brush teeth.” Which she did. “Put on lipstick.” She applied it as carefully as she could, her hand shaking slightly. Eyeliner and mascara were a thing of the past. She did the best to smooth her hair, noticing the widening band of grey at the root line. She’d have to do something about that. Maybe next week.

Tick. Tock. Tick.  It was 9:30. Henry had told her to take a cab to the lawyer’s, but, she figured, she still had time and wanted to drive. Where were her keys? Not in her purse. She looked frantically on her dresser, on her desk, in the front hall, in her coat pocket. Did Henry hide them? He really didn’t want her driving anymore. Neither, for that matter, did their son Malcolm or daughter Christine. But Liza was determined. She raced through the bureau drawers, then headed for the kitchen. Utensil drawers? Not there. Pots-and-pans shelf? Nope. She opened the refrigerator, and, there on the top shelf, were her keys. This was crazy. What had she been thinking? Had she also left a bottle of milk in the medicine chest?

Liza started to tremble, tears tumbling silently down her softly lined cheeks. What was happening to her? It was one thing to forget people’s names, especially if she hadn’t seen them in a while. She had done that for years. She remembered a concert reception when a familiar looking, elegant woman came toward them, smiling broadly.

How are you?

Fine, and you?

It’s wonderful to see you. It’s been too long. (What was her name?)

Do you know my husband, Henry Snodgrass?

“Nice to meet you, Henry, and do you know my husband, Burt?”

They parted five minutes later, Liza still unable to recall the woman’s name.

Lately though, things had gotten worse. If Henry hadn’t reminded her it was meal time, she would have forgotten to eat. Sometimes she had gone out to walk and had difficulty finding her way back home, though they had lived in their quiet Victorian neighborhood for nearly half a century. She had double paid some bills and neglected to pay others. So Henry had taken over the household finances, and Liza had raged against the loss of control. Some days, she just didn’t want to get out of bed. It was warm and safe, and she didn’t have to confront the myriad frustrations that plagued her daily life.

Tick. Tick. Time was running out. It was almost ten o’clock. She’d have to call a cab. As she reached for the phone, it rang. An unfamiliar voice asked, “Is this Liza Snodgrass? Ma’am, this is Captain Lynch at precinct 4. Are you the wife of Henry Snodgrass? Ma’am, I’m afraid there’s been a car accident. You’d best come to the Emergency Room at the General.”

“Ma’am? Ma’am? Do you understand what I’m saying?”

A garbled sound rose from deep inside her.

What was he saying? What did it mean?

BOLLI’s New BOOK CLUB

BOLLI’s New BOOK GROUP

With Charlie Marz and Abby Pinard

 We’ve compiled a selection of diverse and fascinating novels for your post-semester enjoyment. Read the book, bring lunch, and join us for a lively discussion!

Tuesday, June 7 at 10:30 in the Blue Room

Homecoming

Homecoming by Bernhard Schlink (author of The Reader):   A thought-provoking novel about a German scholar’s search for the truth about his father’s role in World War II.

 

Wednesday, July 6 at 12:30 in the Blue Room

Crossing to SafetyCrossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner: A deeply affecting portrayal of enduring marriage and the lifelong friendship of two very different couples.

 

 

Tuesday, August 9 at 12:30 in the Blue Room

The Round HouseThe Round House by Louise Erdrich: The National Book Award winner about the struggle of a teen-age boy to come to terms with violence and injustice on a North Dakota Ojibwe reservation.

 

For more information contact Charlie Marz (cmarz@rcn.com) or Abby Pinard (apinard@snet.net).

THE BOOK NOOK: THREE GEMS

At BOLLI, we spend a great deal of time talking about books–in class and out.  Recently, a large bookshelf appeared outside the Purple Room, bearing a BOLLI BOOK EXCHANGE sign.  The shelves are already full–and changing daily.   Here, on our blog, we have an opportunity to share some of our “good reads” with each other.  Book lover Abby Pinard kicks off our monthly “Book Nook” Feature with the following items.  (Be sure to leave a comment!  And feel free to send your favorites as well.  Send to: susanlwurster@gmail.com)

HONEYDEW

by Edith Pearlman, 2015

Honeydew

Where has Edith Pearlman been all our reading lives? Right down the road in Brookline,  turning out sparkling gems of short stories that are filled with strikingly intimate observation and precise language and that capture a life and a world in just a phrase. This is Pearlman’s fifth collection — she is now near eighty — and she was little known until the last one, Binocular Vision, was showered with prizes. Better late than never.

The lives of four young women are shaped by a parlor game as the mother of one of them has them pick from a hat the names of the men they will marry, assuring them that men are “interchangeable” and they will be “happy enough.” The headmistress of a girls’ school, pregnant with her married lover’s child, tries to help his daughter, a brilliant and desperately ill anorexic. A middle-aged real estate agent, contemplating a second marriage that will secure her financial future, is shaken by what she finds in the chaotic home of an annoying neighbor.

Many of these characters who have known loss and disappointment have learned to adjust their expectations, have found that they can indeed be “happy enough” as they navigate complex relationships and surprising turns. Edith Pearlman is generous to her characters, gives them the gift of quiet determination and moments of grace.

If you love short stories, read these. If you don’t read short stories because you think only a novel can deliver the satisfaction of fully developed characters you care about and stories that stay with you, read these.

THE 6:41 TO PARIS

by Jean-Philippe Blondel (translated byAlison Anderson), 2015

641

I seldom buy, borrow, or otherwise acquire books I’ve never heard of. But once in a while, I take a flier. This was one of those times. The 6:41 to Paris caught my eye two different bookstores in Cambridge and the second time I took it home. It turned out to be a happy diversion for a cold winter day.

Two people who haven’t seen each other since a nasty breakup twenty-seven years ago find themselves sitting side by side on a crowded early morning train to Paris. Neither acknowledges recognizing the other but both are drawn into the past and roiled by still-raw emotions. Cécile is still angry. Philippe is still embarrassed. Neither of their lives has turned out as might have been expected when they were twenty.

There’s no fancy prose in this short, competently translated novel, thankfully without romantic drivel. In alternating chapters, we are made privy to the thoughts and reminiscences of Cécile and Philippe and each gradually becomes a fully realized character.

I liked this slight book. The lives and feelings of these two people felt real. And there’s a natural tension as the train rolls toward Paris. Will they speak to each other? What could they possibly say? Nicely done.

 

THE LOST:  A SEARCH FOR SIX OF SIX MILLION

By Daniel Mendelsohn, 2006

Lost book cover

The two teenage girls at the right in the back row in the picture below are my paternal grandmother and her sister. Their parents and grandfather are in the front row. The picture was taken around 1900. A few years later, my grandmother, rebellious and politically inclined, left the small town in Poland and came, alone, to the United States. She was one of the very few members of her family to escape the Holocaust.

Lost fam photo DOWNSIZED

Like many American Jews, I don’t know precisely what happened to my relatives. Daniel Mendelsohn didn’t know what happened to six members of his family who he heard spoken of in hushed tones as a child. His effort to find out took many years and took him all over the world in a frantic effort to interview eyewitnesses before they died.

The story he tells in this book is both personal and common to millions of people. It is beautifully written, sometimes tedious, often suspenseful, always heartbreaking and indispensable in commemorating what has been lost.

Abby Pinard is a lifelong book nut who retired from a forty-year computer software career in 2007 and ticked an item off her bucket list by going to work in a bookstore. She is a native New Yorker who moved to Boston recently to be among her people: family and Red Sox fans. She is a music lover, crossword puzzler, baseball fan, and political junkie who flunked Halloween costumes but can debug her daughter’s wifi.

 

OUR SCENE-IORS PRESENT: “THE DINING ROOM” by A.R. Gurney

The Scene-iors end-of-term staged reading presented on Thursday, May 19 was, indeed a hit, and, for the first time, BOLLI members who may not have been in attendance, can see a variety of photos of the production–provided by Bunny Cohen and Allan Kleinman.  (Let your cursor hover over a picture to see its caption.)

Welcome to The Dining Room by A.R. Gurney!

The group would love to see your comments–use the box below!

MEET MEMBER KAREN WAGNER: DELAYED DEPARTURES

BOLLI Member and Poet Karen Wagner
BOLLI Member and Poet Karen Wagner

Karen grew up in Pittsburgh, PA and attended Pennsylvania State University, graduating with her BS, MA, and Ph. D.  in Geophysics in 1969, 1972, and 1976.  Dr. Wagner went to work for AMOCO Production Company in their research lab in Tulsa, OK and simultaneously became adjunct professor of mathematics at Tulsa University from 1977 to 1980.  She also continued competitive fencing in the tri-state fencing league. She transferred to Houston, TX to work for a production division of AMOCO in 1980 where she both continued competition fencing and became an avid catamaran sailor. In 1982, Karen began working for Natomas Petroleum International out of San Francisco where she actively traveled and worked the Bahamas and South America. During her time in California, Karen became a wildlife vet technician working for the Alexander Lindsay Junior Museum on weekends. In 1984, she returned to Houston, TX to become Product Development Manager for Borehole Seismic work at Schlumberger North American Headquarters. This work took her to Europe, Alaska, and Japan. During her extended stays in Japan (where Schlumberger had a research lab on the outskirts of Tokyo), she continued to play kendo which she had begun studying under Darrell Craig at the Houston Budokan.

In the mid 1980’s with the oil bust, Dr. Wagner switched careers from oil  to radar and moved to the Boston area to work for the MITRE Corporation.  She spent 13 years working on different projects including ground penetrating radar and over-the-horizon radar. She continued her martial arts training at a Uechiryu Karate dojo studying under Walter Mattson. In 1999, Karen began working for Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems. She worked on the Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS), the Stealth Bomber weapons load, and the Ballistic Missile Defense System. She became a Raytheon Six Sigma Expert along the way.

After 35 years in high tech, Karen left Raytheon in 2011 and began a sabbatical that involved BOLLI and the pursuit of all things relaxing. Along with several colleagues, Dr. Wagner became an SGL for the “Science Sampler: Five by Three” which gave students introductions to eclectic topics in science and ran for four semesters.  After taking a writing course with Marilyn Katz Levenson, Karen discovered a talent for poetry which she pursues to this day in the BOLLI Writers’ Guild.  She has been a contributor to the last two issues of the BOLLI Journal. A sample of her poetry is included here, entitled “Delayed Departures,” about a pirate ship chasing a Spanish galleon.

DELAYED DEPARTURES

Fog

slinks around corners

shaves edges dull,

spills over ground

erases feet,

blows over fingers

my hand is

shadowed

inches from my face,

sets me adrift.

I rock in a sea of

foam and gull screeches

my memory sets sail

for a port of pirates,

mates swing

from the highest yardarms,

treasures of the high seas

await the daring;

we sail with the tide

to chase the rich galleon.

He strides the upper deck

under the Spanish flag,

scans the harbor

for the rowboats and crew

overdue at the bells

the riggings undone

an anchor to raise

while the weather encroaches.

My spyglass is blind,

in banks of mist,

there is easy prey

set low in the water

in a ship heavy with

doubloons and ornaments,

booty for a cavalier’s ransom,

and still I bide my time

until

I can count my fingers,

count my gold.

 

THE TERM’S LAST LUNCHTIME HURRAH! (May 16-19)

The last week of BOLLI’s spring term was one of true distinction.  From Monday’s special guest Congresswoman Niki Tsongas to “Radio Free BOLLI” to a celebration of the publication of the 2016 BOLLI Journal and Thursday’s staged reading of A.R. Gurney’s “The Dining Room” by the BOLLI Scene-iors, it certainly demonstrated how creative, vibrant, and informed we are here at 60 Turner Street!

AN UPDATE FROM WASHINGTON

Presented by Niki Tsongas

Reported by Larry Schwirian

tsongig
Massachusetts Congresswoman Niki Tsongas

We were honored to welcome Congresswoman Niki Tsongas to our Gathering Space on Monday.    Congresswoman Tsongas spent the first half-hour bringing us up to date on some of the happenings in Washington and then fielded questions from the audience. Since she is so frequently asked, “why can’t we (Democrats) do this or that?” she made it clear from the outset that, by tradition, the majority party controls everything.

Tsongas currently serves on two committees: The Armed Services Committee and the Federal Lands Committee.  Her experience on the Armed Services Committee has, for the most part, been positive as there has been bi-partisan cooperation. Currently, the military is 14% female which is projected to grow to 25% by 2025. The congresswoman was successful in getting funding for body armor designed specifically for women as male body armor is too heavy, does not fit correctly, and impairs normal arm movement.  Sexual assault in the military has also been a primary issue of interest to her and concerns not just assault on women but men as well. The committee has been chipping away at how the military currently deals with assault and rape.

Niki has found her experience on the Federal Lands Committee to be much more frustrating as there is virtually no bi-partisan cooperation in this body. The Republicans have refused to even review the President’s budget, and House Speaker Paul Ryan has not been any more successful than John Boehner in getting his party to move things along.

During the question and answer period, she indicated that she was in favor of subjecting women to the same criteria as men regarding conscription into the service. Regarding US companies that have moved their head offices overseas to avoid taxes, she indicated that she is in favor repatriation and allowing some form of tax credits to companies that move back to the United States. When asked if she was in favor of a four year term with a twelve year limit for those serving in congress, she indicated that this would alleviate some of the problem regarding how much time some congressmen and women have to spend fundraising for their next campaigns. However, some of the issues before Congress are so complex that it may take years for a new congressman or woman to begin to understand the fundamentals of these issues so limiting terms to twelve years was not necessarily a good idea.

It was a pleasure to have this vibrant woman with us on Monday.

“RADIO FREE BOLLI” COMES TO TURNER STREET!

On Tuesday, “Radio Free BOLLI” DJ’s Judith Stone and Nancy Connery brought their cool jazz weekly radio show to 60 Turner Street for a special in-house edition.  The DJ’s provided some great music, and MC Sue Wurster, ably supported by Emily Ostrower, engaged the group in trivia questions and passed out stunning prizes including several beautiful factory-crafted 4″ plastic trophies, lovely blue ribbon “Winner” rosettes, CD’s of the show’s music, and–perhaps the most coveted item of all (won by Fran Tidor for guessing which was NOT a Muppet), a Shari Lewis Lambchop dog squeezable dog toy!  In the Grand Prize drawing, several members won BOLLI Bags, and two members received seats in the summer seminars of their choice!

It was a truly festive event–we enjoyed some great “blast from the past” music and laughed (a lot)!

THE BOLLI JOURNAL PUBLICATION PARTY

White tablecloths, red geraniums, fruit and cheese platters, and a wonderful cake appeared in the Gathering Space on Wednesday as part of our celebration of the publication of the 2016 BOLLI Journal. Co-editors Joan Kleinman and Peter Schmidt and the Journal Committee (Sam Ansell, Betsy Campbell, Steve Klionsky, and Carol White) did an outstanding job putting this beautiful volume together, and their work met with hearty applause!

ruth baden
Ruth Baden reads “Pen”
sophie
Sophie Freud introduces her “Guardian Angel”–a handbag

The program for the event, graciously hosted Joan Kleinman,  featured readings by five writers who had contributed to this year’s volume. Sarah Pearlman read her poem, 1941, set in her grandmother’s Ukrainian village, Bralivar.    Sue Wurster read two poems, “Mug Shots: A Study in Strata Various” and “Nemesis in Mint Condition: A Portrait in Haiku.”  Sam Ansell regaled the audience with his “And in Front of Her…All the Met Trembled” memoir (and its accompanying illustration).  Ruth Baden red two poems, “My Time” and “Pen,” taking us from one emotional pole to the other.  And, finally, Sophie Freud read her “Guardian Angel” memoir in which a orange-handled handbag plays a central role.

The group considered some questions and shared announcements about upcoming Photo Club and Writers Guild opportunities.  And Maxine Weintraub, the new Journal editor called for input from those interested in helping to produce BOLLI’s next volume in 2018!

audience1
(Photos by Helen Abrams)

 

” THE DINING ROOM” By A.R. Gurney

A Scene-iors Production

becki and bobbe
Becki Norman and Bobbe Vernon play an architect who plans to get rid of the dining room and his client, a psychiatrist…hmmm…who was the client here? (Photo by Bunny Cohen)

On Thursday, the Scene-iors Acting Troupe took the BOLLI audience on a “tour” through multiple iterations of “the dining room.” Beginning with a real estate agent (Bobbe Vernon) showing a home to a prospective buyer (Becki Norman), the play consists of multiple scenes in which families play out their own scenes–two teenage girls (Becki Norman and Sandy Clifford) raiding the family liquor cabinet; an adolescent son (Davida Loewenstein) arriving home early for vacation to find his mother (Bobbe) having tea with his father’s old friend Gordon (Becki);  a college student (Sandy) interviewing his Aunt Harriet (Davida) for an anthropological study of the disappearing WASP of the Northeast; the disorientation of an aging parent (Sandy) at Thanksgiving; the hilarious outrage of a man (Irwin Garfinkle) whose brother has been insulted at his club; and, throughout, the maids (Sue Wurster) who serve them.

Ably directed by Becky Myers, The Dining Room–with its challenging array of costume changes and need for seamless choreography–was one of the Scene-iors most challenging productions to date.  And one of the most heartily enjoyed!

DAVIDA W FLOWERS
Davida Lowenstein, cast spokesperson, thanks Becky Myers for her hard work as director. (Photo by Bunny Cohen)

LUNCHTIME FARE, Week 9 (May 9-12)

It’s hard to believe that this term’s Lunch & Learn programs are winding down.   Next week’s special ventures–Congresswoman Niki Tsongas on Monday, Radio Free BOLLI on Tuesday, our Journal celebration on Wednesday, and our Scene-iors production of A.R. Gurney’s “The Dining Room”–will wrap up our semester in a most fitting way.  Thanks go to our intrepid Lunch & Learn Committee members who work so hard to find and book quality programs for us.  We appreciate it!

CHAT & CHEW II

chat and chew
Another chance to socialize–

On Monday, the Membership Committee provided desserts for another “Chat & Chew” session in which participants in 2nd period classes stayed for lunch and conversation.  Again, those who stayed enjoyed the opportunity to continue their class discussions or get to know each other better.   “What a great way to get to know classmates,” commented one. “I really liked the relaxed opportunity to meet and talk to friends,” added another.   Virtually all who responded on feedback forms applauded the committee’s efforts and look forward to more Chat & Chew events during the fall term!

                                                  NEW ENGLAND CONSERVATORY                                                   STUDENT MUSIC PERFORMANCE

jazz
Student Performing Group

On Tuesday, we were entertained by students from the New England Conservatory of Music who performed numbers for our enthusiastic BOLLI audience.   Two graduate students , Alec Harper (Tenor Saxophone) and Simon Willson (Bass), played pieces from the ‘20’s, ‘30’s and ‘40’s, discussing the composers and telling us about the music. During the Q&A, they spoke about their professional aspirations and whether they plan to return to their native UK or Chile, respectively. This was the first visit made to 60 Turner Street by the NEC–but we certainly hope it will not be the last.

“WHAT’S SO SMART ABOUT THE SMART GRID?”

BURT JAFFE
BOLLI Friend Burt Jaffe

Burt Jaffe is an award-winning teacher who focuses on the environment and climate change.  (He is also the husband of BOLLI member and SGL Eleanor Jaffe.)

These days, applications on our smart phones will not only allow us to talk to each other–but to our homes as well!  They will turn our lights on and off, lock our doors, and more.  This kind of “smart” technology is changing the face of electricity production, storage, and delivery.   Right now, almost half of all the solar and wind power we generate never actually gets to us because our “old grid” systems can’t manage the intermittent nature of these forms of power.  Smart systems, though, can  forecast both solar and wind generation and help determine how much electricity a grid would need at least a day in advance.

Burt talked about a variety of types of grid storage systems in which energy is, essentially, “stored by night and sold by day.”  He talked about pumped hydro, underground compressed air, underwater compressed air, lithium ion batteries as well as “flow,” “metal,” and “organic flow” batteries.

We need a smart grid, Jaffe emphasized throughout,  to utilize intermittent renewable energy and allow us to reduce fossil fuel usage, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and help to mitigate climate change.

“WILLFUL IGNORANCE IN THE INTERNET AGE”

Writer Lee McIntyre Research Fellow, BU
Writer Lee McIntyre
Research Fellow, BU

Years ago, during the AIDS crisis, an official in Africa insisted, despite all evidence to the contrary, that the disease could be cured with a solution of garlic and lemon juice–and acted on that assertion.  As a result, three hundred thousand people died.  Why would people reject what all the scientists say in favor of ones own inexpert opinion?  writer and philosopher of science Lee McIntyre asked, which led him into the research resulting in his latest book,  Respecting Truth: Willful Ignorance in the Internet Age.

There is a slippery slope, McIntyre maintains, from simple ignorance to willful ignorance to denialism.

Simple ignorance is just that.  It is not uncommon, and we are not the only nation to experience it.  In a survey conducted in Great Britain, for example, 23% of Brits said they thought Winston Churchill was a fictional character while 48% believed that Sherlock Holmes was real.  Simple ignorance, though, is easily eradicated with information.

Willful ignorance happens when people choose to ignore the facts presented to them, but it can also happen when people are bombarded by misinformation, propaganda, and outright lies by those with a desire to keep the truth hidden for their own advantage.

So, how do those with such a desire succeed in obfuscating the truth.  Well, the writer says, like the tobacco industry did 40 years ago, you create a “think tank” and hire researchers to do politically motivated science.  The data these researchers present doesn’t actually get published in the traditional sense (making it hard to question) but is, rather, “cherry picked” for the media.  And our media are very good at creating controversy.  Unfortunately, they fall into “objectivity bias” in which they forget their own aim and create “opposing sides” where there really aren’t any.

Of course, the most dramatic example we have in front of us today is the issue of climate change.   Scientists virtually all agree that the earth is getting warmer due to human activity.  And yet, so many people believe that there is a controversy about climate change when there just isn’t.

Denialism occurs when we refuse to believe the truth, even when it’s right in front of us, and get to the point at which you think anyone who doesn’t agree with you is “crazy.”  (Apparently, Karl Rove did not believe that Obama was re-elected even when his trusted colleagues shoes him the data.)

We all have a tendency toward willful ignorance–it exists in all of us. But working to develop and refine critical thinking will help us to move forward.  “Just because our brains aren’t necessarily wired for truth,” McIntyre concluded, “doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pursue paths that might lead to truth.”

51XZ5gkvZML._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

A SENIOR MOMENT: From Eleanor Jaffe

FRAYING AT THE EDGES

Reflections on The New York Times Special Section, May 1

Geri Taylor, Living with Alzheimer's
Geri Taylor, Living with Alzheimer’s

The New York Times published a Special Section on May 1 of this year. Fraying at the Edges is about Geri Taylor,  a New Yorker, newly retired, aged 73.  If she lived in the Boston area, she certainly might have been a BOLLI member.   Her appearance, career, her interests, and her marriage(s) all easily correspond to our own.  Geri is a woman in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s, and what distinguishes her from others with this disease is that she has taken a pro-active approach to coping with her failing memory.  She knows full well the trajectory of Alzheimer’s, but right now, in the beginning stages of her disease, she and her husband find strategies that enable them to cope with their new realities, to plan for the future, and to each find pleasure and satisfaction in the here and now.

Geri is aware of her growing deficits, her need to plan ahead, her slowing down, and her physical changes—like walking in her sleep, like having an unsteady gait, like having less of an appetite. She said, “Alzheimer’s brings on apathy is what I find. Years ago, I definitely had more of an ego. Now I don’t have an idea of myself. And so I have less of an ego. Frankly, I don’t care what people think of me. I’m more in a survival mode, one foot in front of the other. Don’t spill the coffee.”

After participating in a support group for several years, Geri and a few other members advocated for a new kind of group, workshops where people with Alzheimer’s could “swap strategies” for living with early-stage memory loss. (There ARE simple strategies that work, like putting glass doors on kitchen cabinets so one can see where particular items are stored.) Advocating for and initiating a workshop is an amazing accomplishment for people whose executive functions and memories are slowly but surely deteriorating. But it DID get started. This new workshop, with the sponsorship of the Alzheimer’s Association in Connecticut, is called GAP, Giving Alzheimer’s Purpose.

The “Times” supplement is well worth reading.  Geri is a remarkably positive role model. The article, indirectly, also shows how friends and family can help someone with Alzheimer’s maintain a sense of self.

Geri Taylor, Living with Alzheimer's
Geri Taylor, Living with Alzheimer’s

After all, according to this article, “Alzheimer’s is a disease that strikes an American every 67 seconds.” It may not strike you or me, but, almost inevitably, it will strike someone we know and love.

LUNCHTIME FARE, Week 8 (May 2-5)

In the picture above, Ron Levy records the Lunch & Learn Committee’s ideas in a recent planning meeting.  Below, Larry Schwirian focuses on Monday and Tuesday’s speakers while Sue Wurster provides a brief Wednesday recap.  (Unfortunately, unforeseen circumstances left us unable to report on Thursday’s program.)

steve m
BOLLI Member Steve Messinger

THE PRESIDENTIAL LOSER WHO WON THE ELECTION

Presented by Steve Messinger

Reported by Larry Schwirian

Democrat Samuel J. Tilden was the one person in American history who won the popular vote for president but lost the election to Republican Rutherford B. Hayes in the election of 1876.  Mr. Tilden won the popular vote by more than 250,000 votes of over 8,000,000 votes cast, but he lost the electoral vote. He was a bachelor, a lawyer, and a reformer who made a name for himself as the Governor of New York when he was successful in overthrowing the Tweed Ring and putting an end to the corruption from Tammany Hall.

Because the Founding Fathers did not trust the wisdom of “the people,” the 12th Amendment to the US Constitution requires that the president and vice-president be chosen by “electors” who, in turn, are chosen by individual states. This amendment further requires that the outcome of the election be determined by a simple majority vote in the Electoral Congress. The number of electors from each state equals the number of Congressmen in the House of Representatives plus the two Senators from each state. In the election of 1876, there were a total of 369 electoral votes to be cast, but the accuracy of the voting in three states–Florida, Louisiana and South Carolina–was contested by both Republicans and Democrats. As Mr. Tilden only had 184 electoral votes (not counting the contested votes), one short of a majority, the election should have been decided by ballot in the House of Representatives as prescribed by the 12th Amendment. However, because of the twenty contested votes in the three southern states, Congress decided to create a special commission to decide how the electoral votes from these three states should be cast. This special commission was made up of five representatives each from the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the Supreme Court.  As Democrats controlled the House of Representatives and Republicans controlled the Senate, there were an equal number of Democrats and Republicans from these two groups on the commission, but the Supreme Court had only two justices that were appointed by a Democratic Administration. Ultimately, this special commission decided that all twenty of the contested votes should be cast for Rutherford B. Hays, giving him 185 votes to 184 votes for Tilden.

Because this was a highly contested election where 82% of the eligible voters cast their ballots and the primarily southern Democrats were apparently robbed of victory, they appeared to be ready to re-fight the Civil War if necessary. As a concession, the Republicans were willing to accept the following: 1) all occupying military forces were to be removed from the South, 2) there would be one southern Democrat in Hayes Cabinet, and 3) the next transcontinental railroad would be built in the South.

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John Della Volpe, Director of Polling, Harvard Institute of Politics

 “The Millennials: Will They Vote and How?”

Reported by Larry Schwirian

The Harvard Public Opinion Survey is a survey of the political opinions of three thousand millennials and is now in its twenty-ninth version. Millennials, aged 16 to 29, currently represent one-fourth of the voting age population in the United States which is a voting block larger than the baby boomer generation. The executive summary of this survey summarizes ten key findings as follows:

  1. For a Republican presidential candidate to win the next election he/she would have to win 45% of the youth vote. This is unlikely to happen as current polling among millennials indicates a 61% to 33% split in favor of Democrats. Also 80% of Bernie Sanders supporters would support Hillary Clinton if she is the Democratic nominee.
  2. Clinton leads Trump by a margin of 36% – 61% to 25%.
  3. On the question of whether the country is headed in the right direction only 15% agree and 85% disagree. Fully one-half say the politics of today are not able to meet the nation’s challenges and that “The American Dream” is dead.
  4. The majority of 18-29 year old reject both socialism and capitalism. Sixteen percent (16%) identify themselves as socialist and only 19% identify themselves as capitalist. Millennials have little faith in politics and only 1/3 admit to being patriotic: 51% are opposed capitalism.
  5. On the subject of women’s equality 2/3 believe that men are treated better than women and that men have more advantages. Three in five believe there is a “glass ceiling”.
  6. Bernie Sanders is outscoring Hillary Clinton among millennial women on the question of who will do more for women.
  7. Only one-half (1/2) of young Americans believe that the current justice system is fair.
  8. Millennials indicated they had “trust” in the following: a) Military 52%, b) The President 40%, c) The Supreme Court 39%, d) Federal Government 23%, e) Congress 18%, f) Wall Street 11%, and g) The Media 9%.
  9. On President Obama and Democrats: 72% believe the president should fill the vacant seat in the Supreme Court. For African Americans 80% believe the president is doing a good job but only 46% of white Americans agree.
  10. Regarding high school education 71% believed they received a good education but many expressed a desire for more science, technology, engineering and math training.

The speaker concluded by indicating that Bernie Sanders is having a big impact on the millennial generation, changing the way they think about politics.  More young people are calling themselves Democrats and are leaning further to the left than their predecessors.

special collections
Farber Special Collections

The Brandeis Archives and Special Collections

Presented by Brandeis Librarians

Reported by Sue Wurster

In an article in the April issue of the BOLLI Banner, some of the most renowned of of the Brandeis’s Archives and Special Collections  holdings were featured.  But, on Wednesday, four librarians from the department, came to BOLLI to talk not only about those items but also the following.  (Click here to access The Banner article.  Scroll down to page 3.)

First, they talked about “The Lenny Bruce Collection” which consists of a large number of digitized photographs and audio recordings featuring the groundbreaking social critic/comic.  Working with Bruce’s daughter Kitty, the Brandeis librarians put together this striking collection.

Next, they focused on Brandeis’s impressive incunabula. “Incunabula”  is the plural of the Latin word incunabulum, a cradle, which eventually came to mean “the place of birth.”  In the world of books, the word incunabula refers to books that were printed using metal type up to the year 1500.  Brandeis has 43 volumes, including a rare Nuremberg Chronicle from 1493.

Other special collections include the Spanish Civil War Collection, which consists of over 5,000 books, 394 publications, 298 propaganda posters, and more–all documenting the conflict; the Leon Lipschutz Collection of Dreyfusiana and Frech Judaica including  a variety of items by Emile Zola who so staunchly stood by Dreyfus during that controversial period in French and world history.  The Louis Brandeis Collection is the most extensive collection of the justice’s materials, including a heavy focus on his correspondence. Not only does the collection document the extraordinary contributions of this brilliant legal mind to American jurisprudence but also reflects his warmth and support as a friend and family member.

Finally, the university’s archivist, Maggie McNeely, focused on the collection documenting Brandeis’s institutional history from the days of the establishment of its predecessor, Middlesex University. Ms. McNeely indicated that no one has yet done a definitive history of Brandeis University, “and we have 100 boxes of material from which to draw.”

 

CELEBRATE THE BOLLI JOURNAL! –MAY 18

CELEBRATING BOLLI’S WRITERS AND ARTISTS

BOLLI Journal cover (2)
This year’s outstanding BOLLI Journal

At lunch time, on Wednesday, May 18th, we will celebrate the publication of the 2016 BOLLI Journal with a special event. Several of the writers whose work is included the volume will read their items.

This celebration is also a benefit for the Journal’s next issue.  Over the course of the next week and a half, it will be possible to purchase raffle tickets for a host of excellent items (including an $800 set of luggage) and make bids in our stunning Silent Auction featuring original art and photography by BOLLI members.   The following 10 items are on view in the Purple Room (where a red notebook rests on a music stand awaiting your bid).

1 Nancy A Watercolor Marina
#1) Watercolor by Nancy Alimansky
#2) Kenny Wenzel Plays Flute by Nancy Alimansky
#2) Kenny Wenzel Plays Flute by Nancy Alimansky
#3) Photograph, "The Crown Jewel" by Helen Abrams
#3) Framed Photograph, “The Crown Jewel” by Helen Abrams
#4) Photograph, "Marathon Runner in the Fog" by Arthur Sharenow
#4) Framed Photograph, “Runner in the Fog” by Arthur Sharenow
#5) Monotype Print, "Tree Series III," by Ellen Moskowitz
#5) Monotype Print, “Tree Series III,” by Ellen Moskowitz
#6) Watercolor by Quinn Rosefsky
#6) Watercolor by Quinn Rosefsky
#7) Photograph by Richard Glantz
#7) Photograph by Richard Glantz
#8) Cartoon "Tree Hugger" by Sam Ansell
#8) Cartoon “Tree Hugger” by Sam Ansell
#9) Photograph, "Agent Provocateur" by Harris Traiger
#9) Framed Photograph, “Agent Provocateur” by Harris Traiger
Fortunato-BOLLI Journal Auction
#10) Framed Photograph by Joanne Fortunato

 

Be sure to stop in the Purple Room “Gallery” to admire these items–and consider bidding!

 

MEET MEMBERS EILEEN, RON, CAROLYN & DAVIDA: “I Dare You, BOLLI Members, to Try Acting!”

Some Scene-ior “veterans” were asked to reflect on what drew them to the activity.   Eileen Mitchell, Ron Levy, Carolyn Allen, and Davida Loewenstein shared some of their thoughts and memories…

EILEEN MITCHELL

Matinee3
Eileen Mitchell in rehearsal for “Waiting for the Matinee”

I was inspired by active & engaged SGLs who led lively discussions & encouraged play readings: Jim Robbins, the Shakespeare guru, who is now in Arizona; Elaine Reisman, modern plays with morals, who is now at Brookhaven,  and Lois Ziegelman, from Aeschylus to Tennessee Williams, who is still at BOLLI.

My favorite story is our first public performance that took place in a cozy conference room at South Street – in the former BOLLI offices. We did Table by the Window by Terrence Rattigan, and there was only one person in the audience, but when he laughed — we were hooked! Then we moved to a classroom on campus & 30 people filled the room.  Most shows have been at Turner Street, but once we even played at Spingold — on the main stage.

The shared laughter, caring, and emoting are my best memories.

RON LEVY

ron levy
Ron Levy as rugged “outbacker” in Australia

I acted minor roles in high school productions that used to be reviewed by the London “Daily Telegraph”, and so I joined the Scene-iors. The best part of the experience was always the camaraderie among the regulars and how we often succeeded in making something from less than whole cloth.

There were and probably still are challenges, particularly the Turner Street location and our so-called “stage”.   What was always most impressive was how the company scrounged and loaned props and costumes.  And how about those family a.k.a. cast parties?

CAROLYN ALLEN

Most of group
Carolyn Allen during a rehearsal break last fall

When my husband turned sixty, I gave him acting lessons at New Rep. It was like a new room had opened for him, and he loved it. Everyone asked me if I was acting too.  ” Oh, no,” I said.  “Every bell needs a clapper.”

Then, years later, when I joined BOLLI, I decided to try it–after all, I didn’t have to memorize anything.  So, I threw myself into the role of a hag ( I prefer not to think of it as type casting), and I was paired with fellow hag Bunny Cohen in a play by William Inge.  I had such fun disappearing into the role.  For the performance, my daughter came down from NH, my other daughter left work and took my two grandkids out of elementary school, and my son Bruce blew off work for the afternoon.  It was a treat to have them there, and I was thrilled to discover how easy and wonderful it all was.

I also loved the people — I was part of a team — Eileen, Becky Myers , Davida,  Pete Rieder, Irwin, Ron Levy, Bunny, Monique Frank.

Bobbe Vernon and Charlie Raskin played teen-agers in love .  I watched, entranced, as the years fell away from them. ” Wow,” I said. “They really have chemistry together.”   I was thrilled when Charlie wore my late husband’s Navy jacket.  It was as though Bob were in the play, too.

The next best experience was Separate Tables, another wonder-full team experience. I dragged tables and windows and curtains and plants from home, along with taking over the role of the hotel manager from Wendy Hiller!  I watched the movie a couple of times, and the group spent a post-performance meeting watching it too.   I, a confirmed loner,  felt the joy of belonging.

DAVIDA LOEWENSTEIN

Davida
Davida Loewenstein rehearsing a Joyce Carol Oates monologue.

First and foremost, Scene-iors is fun!  But that’s not why I originally joined the group. I did it to answer a challenge–from me to myself.  I dare you, Davida, to be in a play.  I had NEVER been in a play and just wanted to add acting to my experience bag.  I assumed it would be a one-shot activity, but I loved it and have been in Scene-ior productions ever since.

I think acting has made me really think about the characters in plays and books–who they are at a point in time and how they came to be that way.  It’s not much of a stretch to then apply this type of thinking to people I actually know.  I guess this is another way of saying that I think that even my limited acting experience in Scene-iors has served to increase my sensitivity.

Participating in Scene-iors is such a wonderful opportunity for BOLLI members.  I’m surprised that more people don’t give it a try…but, then again, it took a dare to push me to “take the plunge!”

So, I dare you, BOLLI members, to try acting!

 

MEET MEMBER JOANNE FORTUNATO: LEADING A “BUDDING” CAMERA CLUB

Joanne Fortunato, BOLLI and Photo Club Members
BOLLI Member and Camera Club Leader, Joanne Fortunato

I developed a passion for photography after receiving my first click n’ shoot camera in 2004.  I would spend hours in my backyard and around my neighborhood shooting everything, most especially nature.  In 2007, my husband and I took a trip to South Africa, so I purchased my first DSLR, a Canon Rebel, for the trip.  I was so excited about photographing such a magical place that I took over 5000 photos during a 3 week period.  600 of them were shot in 3 hours as I watched a giraffe giving birth in the wild!  After this adventure, I spent a lot of time trying to learn everything I could about photography.

In the spring of 2016, I entered the world of BOLLI.  The first semester I took only one class, “Memoir Writing” with Jane Kays, and was not sure what to expect.  Since I had spent my career in the world of science, I had decided to take classes in areas that I knew very little about and did not feel not good at.  Writing fell into this category.  After my first class, I wondered if I had made a good decision.  Everyone in the class wrote wonderfully, and I did not feel that I belonged.  In my professional career, I loved challenges and problem solving, so I bit the bullet and decided that I would do my best, even if I was the worst writer in the class!  After all, I was doing this to expand my life experiences.  In the end, this was the best class that I could have chosen as a first.  I am a people person, and as everyone shared their personal experiences, I began to feel bonds with my classmates and BOLLI.  The next semester, I was fortunate enough to get into Arthur Sharenow’s photography class which reignited my interest in photography. I have especially loved all of his photo outings!  My passion for photography has grown, thanks to the photography classes that I have taken, and we now have the BOLLI Photography Group, which I am helping to facilitate.

OUR MOST RECENT PHOTO GROUP OUTING

On Friday morning, March 18th, nine members of the BOLLI Photography Group (Diane Becker, Linda Brooks, Maike Byrd, Bunny Cohen, Linda Dietrich, Rickey Ezrin, Carole Grossman, Sandy Miller-Jacobs, and I) met at the Wellesley College Botanical Gardens Visitor Center and toured the Margaret C. Fergus Greenhouses.

The greenhouses are warm in temperature, so we were able to leave our winter coats in the Visitor Center before we embarked on our walk through the five attached spaces. We spent about two hours meandering through the various houses where we shot lots of photos of unusual cacti and flowers.

Here is a “gallery” of some of the pictures that I took.  (Put your cursor over each image to read its caption.)


Most of us will be going back for another visit to shoot all the amazing plants that we did not have time to get to on our first go-around..

To top off our photo shoot, six of us enjoyed a delicious lunch at Juniper Restaurant on Central Street in Wellesley!

Highlights of the Self-Guided Greenhouse Tour:

  •  Desert House containing desert-dwelling plants from around the world; observation of desert adaptations; exploration of the concept of convergent evolution.
  • Tropic House with several layers of plantings; observation of adaptations to a rainforest environment; exploration of a bromeliad’s habitat.
  • Hydrophyte (Water) House containing pools filled with fish and water-growing plants.
  • Economic plants such as banana, coffee, sugar cane, papyrus; explanation of growth cycles and uses.
  • Tropical Pitcher Plants; discussion of the adaptation of these insect-eating plants to their environment.
  • Misters: being sprayed by the misters in the Fern House and propagation beds is often a highlight for elementary school kids!

The greenhouses are free, open from 8 am to 4 pm daily but closed on weekends during the summer.  Parking in the Grey Lot is also free.

More information about the gardens can be found at http://www.wellesley.edu/wcbg

 

 

 

 

 

PHOTO GROUP’S “BUDDING” TRIP TO WELLESLY COLLEGE

At the group’s most recent meeting, those who went on the trip (as well as some who were unable to attend but went to visit the greenhouses later) shared some of their pictures.

Again, roll your cursor over each gallery item to see the caption (identity of the photographer and a few words about the subject):

The group meets once a month (on either the 2nd or third Friday at 12:30 in the Green Room).  The next meeting is on May 13.  All are welcome!

AND SPEAKING OF BLOGGING, DID YOU KNOW…?

blogging
Now that you’ve reached our blog, you might want to learn about some of its features.

Clicking on the title of an item (either on the list to the left or on the pictured item above) will bring it up for you to read.  But if you click on the title of one of our feature categories (that line up above the pictures:  BOLLI Artists, Members, News, SIGs, News), all of the items in that category will come up in a continuous “roll” so that you can read them all by just scrolling.

See those empty boxes at the ends of those articles?  That’s where you come in!  Our blog is interactive–you can comment on the articles you read here, striking up a conversation, as it were, with the subject and/or writer.

BOLLI Matters  provides us with another way to share with each other, thus helping to add even more to the community nature of our program, and you can participate!  Send your writing, your photography, pictures of your art work–or just tell us about you and your interests.  (Email susanlwurster@gmail.com)

rosie the blogger

 

 

 

MEET MEMBER BETSY CAMPBELL: Those Who Can…Teach!

BOLLI writer and SGL, Betsy Campbell
BOLLI writer and SGL, Betsy Campbell

In my life before BOLLI, I taught 6-year-olds how to write stories. Now I am doing the same thing with 86-year-olds!  No matter the age of the author, I am always surprised and delighted at the results. Everyone has stories to tell, and they are always different. I’ve been writing my own for years. Some are true. Most are fiction. But this part is true…. I taught high school English for a short while. Kindergarten and First Grade for a long while. I love Mozart Operas, Billy Collins’ poems, and the Boston Red Sox. When I’m not writing, or going to BOLLI, or rushing to catch the ferry, I’m at home reading and feeding the cat.

GONE

By Betsy Campbell

They stopped at Dunkin Doughnuts on the way to the Ferry. Alice had a small latte while Bill had a glazed doughnut and a large coffee with extra cream. She offered to drive the rest of the way while he ate. It was the least she could do under the circumstances. Cars were already driving up the ramp to the ferry when they arrived at the dock.

“They’re loading,” said Bill. “You better hurry.” He wiped a smear of sugar from his mouth and took a swig of coffee. She left her unfinished latte in the cup holder and got out to collect her bag from the trunk.

Bill opened the car window. “Got everything?”

“Yes. I’m all set.” She hoisted her shoulder bag in place and raised the handle on her roller bag.

“Bye,” she said. “Thanks for the ride.”

“Have fun,” he said and took another bite of doughnut.

Alice hurried up the gangplank and dragged her suitcase up a flight of stairs to the outside deck. She found a seat near the rail on the stern from where she could look down on the parking lot. Bill’s car was still there. He was probably still eating. A line of cars moved toward the loading ramp. Alice leaned on the rail, watching the activity below, trying to calm the sad, nervous feeling in her gut. She had done it. She had left him, and rightly so, for he hadn’t even bothered to kiss her good-bye.

She had moved into his place with great hopes, and it had seemed a happy choice at first. But, gradually, she saw that he was content with his routines. Frozen waffles every morning. Pasta for dinner every night. Sports radio and fantasy football. Even sex had to happen when the Red Sox had a day off or when there was no football on TV. Alice had tried to adapt to his ways, but there were things he didn’t notice. Little things that she tried to do for him. Clean sheets and towels didn’t matter to him. When she replaced a mildewed shower curtain with a new one, he didn’t care. He didn’t notice flowers on the table and had no taste for fresh green salads or healthy grains. She began to feel that there was nothing she could do for him. Sometimes she thought that, if she left, he wouldn’t even notice.

“Get out,” her friends advised. “You have to end it. He’s never going to change.”

But Alice hated making scenes. Even now, she had told him she was going to visit her sister for a few days without hinting that she might not be coming back. He had offered to drive her to the ferry, and when she said he needn’t bother, he had said, “No problem. I can listen to the game on the way back.”

With a blast on its horn, the ferry started to edge away from the dock. Alice looked down at Bill’s car and saw him fling open the door, jump out, and race toward the departing boat. He was looking up, searching for her among the passengers lining the rail, waving his arms, and yelling. Her heart jumped. He was calling her back! She leaned over the rail, straining to hear. him call her name.

“Alice! The keys! Where are my keys?”

As the ferry slid away, leaving an ever larger stretch of water between stern and shore, Alice slipped her fingers into her pocket and felt a familiar clump of keys. She knew, without looking, that they were attached to a New England Patriots key ring. She pulled them from her pocket, dropped them over the rail, and raised her empty hand to wave good-bye.

 

MEET MEMBER LINDA BROOKS: TWO LINDAS

Shell line 4
BOLLI Member Linda Brooks

 

TWO LINDAS

By Linda Brooks

After four years and eighteen courses at BOLLI , I continue to be an eager and voracious learner. I’ve enjoyed classes in history, philosophy, literature, poetry, music and more. Thanks to three writing courses, I am now assembling my memoirs. Best of all, I discovered my very first “creative” hobby –photography!

For BOLLI’s spring term 2015, I signed up for Joe Cohen’s Photography course. When Joe described the term project, I was intrigued. We were to present an essay of twenty photos on a single theme. He distributed a sheet with dozens of theme possibilities. I scanned the list and the word “WINDOWS” jumped off the page. Joe suggested we keep our topics a secret from the class.

During the last three weeks of April, I was married to my camera, visiting many sites and taking hundreds of photos of windows. I wanted to capture the reflections both inside and outside of the glass. The early ones were just awful, but slowly they improved.  At the last class, we were called on to present our slide shows with commentary. I was very proud that “Windows” was well received by Joe and the group.

Immediately following my presentation, Linda Dietrich was called upon to present her project. Linda is a charming woman I had sat beside and chatted with throughout the term.  I often thought that I would like to continue our relationship outside of BOLLI.  Much to my utter surprise and delight, Linda’s topic was “DOORS”! She had assembled photos from her New England travels that captured doors or entryways in the most beautiful and unique way.

That did it! Linda Doors and Linda Windows laughed heartily, and so began a dear friendship outside of BOLLI. We decided to put our favorite doors and windows into a 2016 calendar. It was modestly published and distributed to family members as gifts.  We are presently working on another joint project—a calendar for 2017.

With the busy life at BOLLI, it’s always a challenge to make new friends, but definitely possible!

Here is a photo of “Linda Doors” and “Linda Windows.” If you see us at BOLLI, say hello. We’d love to chat.

Linda Dietrich and Linda Brooks
Linda Dietrich and Linda Brooks

Our 2016 Calendar

Calendar Cover Photo: Fairmont Copley Window
Calendar Cover Photo 1: Fairmont Copley Window
Cover Photo 2: Shop Window, Concord
Cover Photo 2: Shop Window, Concord
Cover Photo 3: Summer Door, Maine
Cover Photo 3: Summer Door, Maine
Cover Photo 4: Pumpkin Door, Concord
Cover Photo 4: Pumpkin Door, Concord
5 JAN Copley Square Windows
JANUARY Copley Square Windows
6 FEB Unstoppable Natick Collection
FEBRUARY “Unstoppable” Window, Natick Collection
7 MAR Barn Door Kennebunkport
MARCH Kennebunkport Barn Door
8 APR Rockport Music Hall
APRIL Rockport Music Hall
9 MAY Mansion Door Saint Gaudens NH
MAY Mansion Door, Saint Gaudens, NH
10 JUN Arborway Door Cornish NH
JUNE Arborway Door, Cornish, NH
11 JUL Goose Rocks Beach ME
JULY Goose Rocks Beach, Maine
12 AUG Cape Porpoise ME
AUGUST Cape Porpoise, Maine
13 SEP Concord Main Street Cafe Window
SEPTEMBER Main Street Cafe Window, Concord
14 OCT Kennebunk ME
OCTOBER Kennebunk, Maine
15 NOV Fine Art Gallery Rockport MA
NOVEMBER Fine Art Gallery, Rockport
16 DEC Kennebunkport MEjpg
DECEMBER Church Door, Kennebunkport












 

 

 

 

 

THE LIFESPAN LAB

BOLLI Matters Copy Editor and Writer, Lydia Bogar
BOLLI Matters Copy Editor and Writer, Lydia Bogar

THE LIFESPAN LAB – by Lydia Bogar

The flyer reads:

“The Lifespan Lab at Brandeis University is conducting a study on health care and decision making. The study will take about 30 minutes, and pays $10 upon completion. It takes place on the Brandeis University campus, and will involve writing responses by hand and answering a set of questions. For more information, please contact Salom at salom@brandeis.edu.”

Following the tradition of many BOLLI students, I sent an email to Salom inquiring about the health care study.  Within 24 hours, she answered my email and followed it up with a brief telephone conversation.

Most of us have made many healthcare decisions on our own behalf as well as those taken on as parents and our parents’ caregivers. The decisions made during the retirement process are yet another layer of experience and wisdom; that wisdom and community service are qualities being sought in this study.

Of course, I cannot reveal any of the queries that were part of the study, but I can assure you that the experience was fulfilling and that the 15 minute walk to the Upper Campus from 60 Turner Street didn’t hurt either.  A total commitment of one hour and another positive Brandeis community experience.

Contact Salom to get more information and hopefully make an appointment.  When your part of the study is complete, she will debrief you about the project as a whole.

The Lifespan Lab is in the Brown Social Science Center on the Upper Campus, a good 15 walk (or short drive) from our BOLLI home at 60 Turner Street.

It’s good to be in the Brandeis family!

LUNCHTIME FARE, Week 5 (April 4-7)

What a varied set of lunchtime presentations we enjoyed this week! We started off with Tom Doherty talking about Hollywood and the HUAC, and then heard Dan Terris on “R2P,” Martin Abramowitz on Jews in major league baseball, and, finally, were given a “Taste of BOLLI” reading hour by the Writers Guild.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE HUAC, 1947

Tom Doherty
Professor Thomas Doherty

Dynamic lecturer, Thomas Doherty, Professor and Chair of the Brandeis American Studies program, is working on a new book about the HUAC’s Hollywood hearings—specifically, the committee’s 1947 nine day focus on “The Hollywood Ten.”

Doherty started off by providing some background on the HUAC’s interest in Hollywood but focused largely on the notion that, in the 1930s and 1940s, movies came to “matter” not only as entertainment but also as news and even as propaganda. Before the war, movies tended to provide simply a source of escapism.  Fred and Ginger danced.  Dorothy followed the yellow brick road to the Emerald City. But at this point, Hollywood began to disseminate values in a number of their films.

He pointed to Casablanca as a perfect example. “It took all the stuff that Hollywood did well and added new values. Look at the ending, which tells us that we must sacrifice our desires for the good of the cause.”   He went on to talk about Air Force, in which, he says, “the hero is actually the squad, the team—and it’s a diverse group. The message? All Americans must come together, as a team, in days of peril.”

When Thomas Parnell, chair of the HUAC in 1947, turned the committee’s focus to Hollywood, he apparently wanted to have the hearings televised. It would have been the first time television cameras had been used in this way in the Capitol. It didn’t happen–because apparently, in those days, the cameras ran on DC rather than AC power, making it just too expensive.

During those hearings, director Leo McCary (who was, at the time, the highest paid “salary man” in America) was called. Having directed both Going My Way and The Bells of St. Mary’s, he was asked how much money his films had garnered in Russia. “None,” he told the committee. Apparently, he went on to say, his movies featured a character that the Soviets did not like. When asked who that was, he responded simply, “God.”

In those hearings, the “Hollywood Ten” were found guilty of contempt of Congress because they chose not to answer questions on the basis of their First Amendment rights. Those who took the Fifth Amendment were simply let go. But they wanted to prove the point, later upheld by the Supreme Court, that the committee had no right to ask them about their political beliefs in the first place.

Doherty’s talk left us looking forward to his upcoming book!

hollywood ten

 

                                 THE RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT:                                    JUST CAUSE OR TAINTED IDEAL?

Dan Terris
Daniel Terris

On Tuesday, Dan Terris, Director of the Brandeis International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life, spoke about the changing global focus on threatened civilians around the world. He started off by pointing to Syria, Iraq, Myanmar, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and more.

Historically, he said, we have tended to protect those closest to us. After all, trying to help everyone would stretch us too far and lead us to doing, potentially, more harm than good. But there has been a change in the concept of sovereignty which has led to a shift in international thinking. We used to believe in a general principle of non-intervention in the affairs of sovereign nations. But in the late 1990s, sovereignty began to be thought of as requiring responsibility. “Having power doesn’t mean a government can just do whatever it wants with it,” Terris said. “If a nation defaults on its requirement to protect its people, it loses that buffer against intervention.”

In 2005, the United Nations accepted the doctrine of “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P), which is constructed of three pillars. A nation has a responsibility to protect its people against genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. The international community has a responsibility to encourage and assist when it comes to that protection. And, if a state is manifestly failing to protect is population, the international community must be prepared to take appropriate collective action.

“Many believe R2P was a bad idea to begin with because it is really only invoked when it coincides with state interests,” Terris indicated. Some states will use it to advance their own needs. Others, though, believe it was a good idea but that the international community has not lived up to its promise.

In all, Terris points to the doctrine as a work in progress and believes that abandoning it means stepping backward, abandoning civilians. To improve R2P, significant focus needs to be placed on its first two pillars—protection and assistance.

Powerful food for thought.

 

AMERICAN JEWS IN AMERICA’S GAME

Martin Abramowitz, photo by Diane Becker
Martin Abramowitz, photo by Diane Becker

On Wednesday, baseball historian Martin Abramowitz regaled an enthusiastic audience with his wealth of knowledge about Jews in major league baseball in America. He thoroughly engaged the group with his very personable and highly enthusiastic style.

Abramowitz started off by telling us that there were 17,000 professional baseball players in the U.S. in the 20th Century.   Since Jews comprised 2-3% of the population during that time, it seemed logical that the same percentage would be reflected in the sport. But there have been only 170 Jewish players. Why?

Several members of the audience responded, “They were going to college to be doctors and lawyers!”  And, in a way, they were right. Throughout the first half of the 20th Century, the surest route to the major leagues was through the farm system—not college baseball teams.  But when it came to the second half of the 1900s, Jackie Robinson opened the gates to new talent.

Abramowitz has actually analyzed these players’ success on all statistical levels. And in every area but one, Jews came up, among all players, as being slightly better than average.  The one area where they did not?  When you add up all of the bases stolen by all of the Jewish players, that total number of stolen bases is significantly less than the number that Rickey Henderson stole in just one year.

At one point, Abramowitz was lamenting that forty of those 170 Jewish players had never been immortalized on baseball cards. They either played during the wars when cards were not printed at all or when the cards were only being made for the biggest stars. “So, why don’t you make them?” his ten-year-old son asked.   So, he did.

The biggest challenge, he said, was provided by a group of 40 players whose photographs were not to be found in the Library of Congress, the Baseball Hall of Fame, or seemingly anywhere else.  And then, he met George Brace.

Brace had spent much of his life as photographer for the Chicago White Sox and the Cubs. At one point, Brace had decided that he was going to photograph all of the players who came to Chicago to play.   When visiting the photographer who asked if he’d like to see them,  Abramowitz followed Brace’s daughter down to the basement where,” in the family laundry room, tucked between the washer and dryer, was the greatest collection of baseball photos of all time.”  He found 31 of those 40 players included in that lot. The other eleven he found by going to the players’ families, digging through college yearbooks, and more.

Abramowitz’ easy-going nature, his warmth, and natural fervor for baseball drew everyone in, and BOLLI members shared their own memories of players and games as well. It was truly a treat!

marty ab audience
Audience peruses baseball cards. (This image and the feature image of Martin with friend Norman Spack were taken by Diane Becker.)

 

ANOTHER “TASTE OF BOLLI” – THE WRITERS GUILD

GUILD ImageOn Thursday, the six members of BOLLI’s writing group provided a glimpse of what the guild is all about. Group organizers Maxine Weintraub and Sue Wurster started the group last spring as they came to the end of their five-week course with Betsy Campbell, “Five Short Stories in Five Weeks.” Both were concerned that, without such a group, they might not keep up the momentum they had developed during the course. Since that time, the group has met, weekly, to generate, share, and get feedback on their writing to help them improve their skill.

The high standard of their work was evident in their reading, and the pieces they chose to read demonstrated the wide range of styles and genres they have explored. Margie Arons-Barron shared fiction and memoir; Judy Blatt provided some of her characteristic “surprise ending” fiction; Larry Schwirian shared fiction and a personal reflective essay; Karen Wagner provided poetry; Maxine presented memoir; and Sue read fiction rooted in both imagination and real-life.

The group is provided with a writing prompt for each week, which some use while others don’t. But, on Thursday, the BOLLI audience was provided with a prompt and was given five minutes in which to “free write” in response to it. Bunny Cohen volunteered to share hers, saying, “I am not a writer” as she stepped to the microphone. And yet, what followed was a lovely, short poem–demonstrating, once again, that we are all writers!

PROMPT
Bunny Cohen responded to this group prompt with a very short, strikingly poetic piece featuring her aunt.

 

The group meets in the Gold Room on Fridays from 12:30 to 2:00. Prompts are provided in the weekly Bulletin.  All are invited to attend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MEET MEMBER SAM ANSELL: What is a Cartoon?

Sam Ansell, Cartoonist
Sam Ansell, Cartoonist

Well, if you eliminate political cartoons a la Pat Oliphant, and funny papers, and illustrations, and graphic novels, you are left with the spot cartoon–a single drawing or sequence of drawings that have no particular meaning beyond a simple comment on either something going on in the Zeitgeist or in common amusing experiences.  For example, a great Peter Arno cartoon shows a lonely spot next to a street lamp. It is night, and a young couple is talking to a police officer. The guy is carrying the back seat of an auto, and he says to the cop, “We wish to report a stolen car.”  No social message. No moral. Like any good cartoon, it is self-referential, and its only purpose is to garner a laugh.  Like this one–

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It was one of those tree huggers, wasn’t it?

How are cartoons conceived? Well, in my case I may be thinking of something or observing something, and a switch occurs to me–something that relates to the original notion but turns it around or reveals an unexpected consequence.

SAM Red Sox
All the same, I’m sorry for the poor Red Sox.

Let me trace one idea I had for a cartoon. For some reason, I was watching some ants.  What do ants do?  They bite people.  What if one bit an ant expert?  How would the ant feel about that?  How would he behave afterwards?  And the cartoon flashes in my head. One ant is prancing about in a very conceited manner, and another ant says to his companions, “He’s been impossible ever since he bit E.O. Wilson.”

SAM AntsOf course, it all loses its punch when I explain how it came about,  which is why I should never tell anyone where my ideas come from.

SAM queen
Corgi and Bess

How did I get interested in cartooning? I suppose it was because when I was very little, my father would read me the funnies after I was tucked up in bed at night. My heroes were not sports figures or soldiers: they were Moon Mullins, Mutt and Jeff, and Ignatz Mouse. So I guess that’s when I started scribbling down little sketches.  At Harvard, I had a lot of cartoons and stories printed in the Harvard Lampoon, and later, when I got a Master’s Degree in Journalism at Columbia, I contributed cartoons and a cover to the Columbia Jester.

SAM Spot
“Et tu, Spot?”
SAM Lands End
“If you can’t rely on Land’s End, whom can you rely on?”

In New York, I worked for various advertising agencies as a copy writer, finding time to submit cartoons to national magazines.  I even placed a couple of drawings in Collier’s and Argosy;  alas, they both went out of business, killed by television.

Of course, every cartoonist’s dream is to place a drawing in The New Yorker, and though I sent in hundreds of “roughs,” none were ever accepted.  Frankly, I think the cartoons they do print just plain stink, but that may be sour grapes.

SAM Lost and Found

While working in New York, I met Na’ama, married her, and became the father of Gideon, Seth, and Aliza.  Then our family returned to Boston where I took over the family business – we were wholesalers of glass and plastic bottles.  After I retired,  we divided our time between the USA and a home in Italy.  Returning to America, we felt a need for intellectual stimulation, so when we heard about BOLLI, we enrolled and have been taking classes ever since.  And every once in a while, an idea strikes me, and I draw it up.

SAM bar

Editor’s Note:  Sam also provides cartoons for BOLLI’s newsletter, The Banner.  This month’s volume, now available online and in hard copy, features yet another gem.  Be sure to check it out!

MEET MEMBER JUDY BLATT: ALWAYS A TWIST

BOLLI Member Judy Blatt has a natural flair for the dramatic. (Here she performs with the Scene-iors Acting Troupe.)
BOLLI Member Judy Blatt has a natural flair for the dramatic. (Here she performs with the Scene-iors Acting Troupe.)

I was an elementary school teacher for over thirty years, Judy Blatt says, first in New York City and then in Sudbury.  I retired in the year 2000. I always liked to write.  While I was teaching, I wrote plays for the children in my classes. When I retired, I joined BOLLI and began to write both memoir and fiction. I swim laps early in the morning four days a week.  There are no distractions in the pool, so it’s a perfect place to think and come up with ideas for stories.  

Judy has been a “regular” participant in Betsy Campbell’s fiction writing classes, and her work is always applauded by her classmates and SGL.   She is currently taking Betsy’s “Five Stories in Five Weeks” course, and the pieces she wrote for two of Betsy’s assignments are included here. For the first, “Waiting,” the task was to write a short piece about three people who are all waiting in line at the same place. And for the second, “How to Be the Life of the Party,” the challenge was to do an instructional piece using the second person point of view.   As you will see, Judy’s point of view tends to take unexpected turns.

WAITING

 The line moved slowly past the open casket. The widow, hysterical just a few hours earlier, remained upright and subdued thanks to the family doctor’s injection and pills. As each mourner stopped to pay respects and murmur, “Sorry for your loss,” the grieving widow quietly thanked them. But as soon as they walked away, she turned to her daughter and whispered, “What will I do without him?” or “He was the perfect husband,” or “he was such a good man.”

 Before long, every eye in the funeral home was on Lani–model, actress, drama queen and long-time mistress of the deceased. Dressed in a long black raincoat, sunglasses, and an ill-fitting black wig, she stood, sobbing loudly, in front of the open casket. Lani had announced beforehand that she would slip into the wake quietly and mingle with the crowd in order to go unnoticed by the widow. It was often said by those who knew Lani that she was dumb as a doorknob, but was she?

Benny Scorboni bent over the coffin and scrutinized the corpse carefully to make sure it was actually Gabe Hammer and that this wasn’t another one of his tricks. Satisfied that it was the man who owed him fifty thousand dollars, Benny longed to reach in, grab the dead guy, and kill him all over again. Now he would never get his money back. “I’m the only one here with a real reason to cry,” he thought.

 

HOW TO BE THE LIFE OF THE PARTY

Dear Problem Solver,

My husband works with a bunch of old fuddy-duddies. He won’t listen when I tell him that I’d rather put my head in a plastic bag than be forced to spend another evening with his boring colleagues and their wives. What should I do?

Miserable and Depressed

*

Dear Miserable and Depressed,

If you want to enjoy yourself at the party, then you will have to be the one to provide the fun. But first, you must be prepared. This is a list of what you will need:

A harmonica

A bright red dress with a low bodice and a matching jacket

A pair of long gloves (elbow length)

A deck of cards

A pair of flat shoes

You will also need to learn to play a few danceable ditties on the harmonica and study a movie starring Marilyn Monroe

It is common knowledge that nothing brings a party to life more than music. It’s difficult to carry a piano or a harp, but a harmonica will slip easily into your purse.   As soon as the men head toward the library and the women begin chatting about their grandchildren, whip out your harmonica and begin playing one of the tunes you practiced. The beauty of the harmonica is that you will be able to play and dance at the same time. As soon as the others hear the catchy rhythm and see you dancing, they will join in.

But if that doesn’t work:

The purpose of the jacket worn over your dress was to keep your spouse from having a fit before you left the house. He will be too embarrassed to say a word in front of other people, so you can now remove it and reveal whatever you have to reveal. When all eyes are on you, that’s the time to think like Marilyn Monroe. What would she do in this situation? Sit on the boss’ lap? Sing “Happy Birthday, Mr. President”? You’ll think of something. Flirting definitely livens things up and gives everyone something to talk about, not only for the evening but for the following days or weeks.

But if that doesn’t work:

Pull out the cards, suggest a game of poker, and start slowly peeling off those long gloves. When your husband stands up and looks as if he is about to murder you, it will be time to run. You’ll be so glad you wore those flat shoes.

Now your problem is solved because you can be sure he’ll never want to take you to one of those boring parties again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MEET MEMBER FRED KOBRICK: A “HIGHLY EXPERIENCED AMATEUR HOBBYIST”

BOLLI Member & SGL Fred Kobrick in Wyoming.
BOLLI Member & SGL Fred Kobrick in Wyoming.

Fred Kobrick refers to himself as “a highly experienced amateur hobbyist” who loves the challenges that taking pictures provides. “Here is a recent photo of me,” he says, “out in Wyoming, one of my two favorite places in nature to photograph, the other being Africa.”

 

Fred describes his passion for nature photography in this way:  I love being close to nature. Attempting to get superior results pulls me into the scenes, takes my mind to wonderful, calming places, and even takes over my mind at times. I love the open-ended challenges and creative endeavors. Sitting and flying birds, for example, are geometrically more difficult than fast-action sports shots, and I love improving at that.

He talks, too, about some of his most memorable moments “in the wild.”

The moment on the Snake River, after endless practice and attempts, when I got the perfect “fish catch” photo of an osprey taking a big fish from the river–capturing both eyes of the bird and the eye of the fish…

Osprey with catch

Two lion cubs playing over their dinner remains, after eating their fill…

image2 (3)

A perfect sunset in the Okavango Delta taken from  the Fish Eagle, the world’s best outdoor bar…

image1 (4)

Walking the streets of Hanoi and seeing a young boy’s changing facial expressions as he read a Vietnamese Conan Comic Book, photographing it as he turned the pages…

image2 

Another Snake River moment–this time, getting the almost impossible picture of a red winged blackbird with his wings fully stretched out, including his full and perfect reflection in the water…

image1 (5)

 And the perfect candid of a mother and baby moose looking at each other in the water, as I hid, unseen, in the bushes.

image1 (1)

Among other favorite shots are…

image1 (2)
Cheetah, hunting

 

image3 (2)
Why is Fred taking our picture, Mommy?

 

image3 (3)
Giraffes on Watch

 

image2 (4)
One Thirsty Lion

 

It's a treat to have a wallow...
It’s a treat to have a wallow…

 

Pied kingfisher, Kenya
Pied kingfisher, Kenya

Recently, at the urging of his kids, Fred entered several of his nature photos in Smithsonian Magazine’s annual nature photography contest.  As a result, he now has a Smithsonian  gallery online. To see this stunning work, go to:

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/photocontest/user/fred-kobrick/?no-ist

Fred says that he came to BOLLI after he heard great things about the program from friends several years ago.

I tried a short one-week program, loved it, took a course or two, and was told by some people that they thought I would enjoy teaching BOLLI students and do that well (I had been a popular teacher in two graduate programs at Boston University). I’m looking forward to more interesting and new subjects to explore as both a student and a teacher and am thinking about possibly creating a sequel to my China course, which many students have requested.  My friends were right. I’ve loved BOLLI.

It’s clearly mutual, Fred.

FRED KOBRICK PHOTOGRAPHY:  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SO, HAVE WE PIQUED YOUR INTEREST?

How about getting involved in this unique publishing venture?

If there is a “reporter” lurking in your soul and you like to write…or if you are a photographer (or even a videographer) looking for even more opportunities to ply your craft…or if you are an “idea person” who wants to contribute in that creative way…or if you have never done anything like this and simply  want to “blog” with a group of like-minded BOLLI members, BOLLI Matters is the place for you!

Let us know of your interest  (email mmedeiros@brandeis.edu or susanlwurster@gmail.com) and watch for our first meeting date and time (soon to be scheduled).

 

MEET MEMBER HELEN ABRAMS: Shutterbugs in the Snow

BOLLI Member and Photographer Helen Abrams
BOLLI Member and Photographer Helen Abrams

Helen Abrams, a second year BOLLI member who led the photography Special Interest Group’s recent tour of Mount Auburn Cemetery, reflects on Mount Auburn, and photography.

Being in nature led me to bird watching and photography. Living in Watertown, right next to Mount Auburn Cemetery, I was able to indulge both interests while also learning how to become a tour guide and docent. Over the past eight years, I’ve led tours on famous people (inventors, explorers, women reformers, artists), symbols of passage, Jews buried at Mt. Auburn and photography. After leading photo walks during the spring, summer, and fall, I decided to try a winter walk. I am particularly interested in photographing trees and have found that it is in the winter when their bark, seed pods and overall trunk and branch formations are the most sculptural. I invited Jim Gorman, one of the cemetery’s foremost horticulturalists, to join us.

1 single branch

 After the tour, Helen reflected on the group’s venture.

The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. Bright sun, fresh fallen snow, brisk but not windy. Since the walk started at 2 p.m., we got the long shadows of afternoon light which was especially interesting for photographing trees, grasses, and monuments.

The BOLLI group—including Martha Berardino, Maike Byrd, Ricky Ezrin, Joanne Fortunato, Dick Hanelin, and Arthur Sharenow—carpooled to Auburn Lake and parked along Oak Avenue. From there, we circumnavigated Auburn Lake, which has a great collection of unusual trees as well as long vistas with a bridge that cuts the lake in half. It’s sometimes called “Spectacle Pond” by birders.

2 branch w shadows (1)

As we walked, Jim talked about the trees. He talked about when they had been planted (especially those after the Hurricane of 1938), shared some historical facts about them (such as the discovery of the Metasequoia or Dawn Redwood that had been thought to be extinct), and what to expect from them at different seasons of the year. He pointed out pine cones, “antlers,” seed pods, and the famous Bald Cypress “knees.” Best of all, to me, was the array of unusual types of bark on the trees which, without leaves or flowers, were particularly handsome against the snow. A highlight was the Lacebark Pine with great patterns and shapes in blue and gray hues.

3 mottled branch

Having Arthur Sharenow on the tour was so helpful. He was so generous to everyone by sharing his great knowledge of photography. He gave us valuable insight into camera equipment, exposure settings, battery use in the cold, shooting from different perspectives, and more. Dick Hanelin, who admits to loving abstract work (or, to paraphrase him: “I hate literal shots”), spent much of the afternoon on the ground.   He says it gave him a different vantage point for shooting at unusual angles.

4 Dick in Snow

By 3:30, we were back in our cars, heading home.  All in all—great fun!

Helen enjoyed a career in healthcare which culminated in a fifteen year stint at Harvard University Health Services where she served as Director of Contract Management and Strategic Planning.

Seeing the Northern Lights is on my bucket list, and since sightings are never guaranteed, I may just fly to Tromso in Norway and stay there until I’ve had my fill!  Three major personal interests evolved for me over the course of my working life: nature, travel, and learning.   Finally retiring this past August, I’m now free to explore them full time.

BOLLI is certainly richer for it!

Click here for an album of truly spectacular shots by various members of the group!

AUDITION NOTICE: NEW PLAY READING

AUDITION NOTICE

Myths and Ms.

  An Intergenerational Play About Reincarnation & Abortion 

                                   By Rosie Rosenzweig, Resident Scholar                                   Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center

Starring Annette Miller of Shakespeare & Co. and directed by Ronn Smith, this Salon, Table Reading and Talk Back will take place on Sunday, February 12 at 7 pm at the Women’s Research Center located at 515 South Street.

Additional actors are needed for this event.  Auditions will take place in the Lieberman-Miller Lecture Hall at the Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center (WSRC), 515 South Street, Waltham MA (diagonally across from the train station).

                                                              2:00 – 6:00 p.m.                                                               Sunday, February 5

   CAST OF CHARACTERS

JACK:    a middle-aged lawyer involved in liberal causes

RUTH (to be played by Miller): his middle-aged Jewish wife, a student of reincarnation

CHAYYA (to be played by Suzanne Hanser of Berkelee College of Music):   Ruth’s recently deceased immigrant mother

LIBBY:   Jack and Ruth’s daughter, an abortion counselor

CHARLES:  Libby’s African-American lover

TAMAR:   Libby’s daughter

VOICES:   Miscellaneous male and female voices

For more information,  email:   rrosenzweig@brandeis.edu

 

 

 

 

WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND? Signs of the Times

SIGNS OF THE TIMES

By Lydia Bogar

Here we are at Logan Airport on this not-so-quiet weekend morning.  Hundreds of women, some with daughters, some with mothers, some with both, some with strollers, and even some with husbands.  This first taste of our strength is powerful but not intimidating.  It is, in fact, heartwarming.

As newbies to National Airport, we walk through the baggage claim area and a construction zone to reach the Metro station which looks, strangely, like an egg carton.  Emerging at Foggy Bottom, we see a mass of signs.  Hundreds of signs.

WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?

We walk forward.  Democrats and Republicans–black, brown, red, white and grey–faith in our hearts.

FIGHT BACK!

Music surrounds us–old folk songs that I know, some gospel that I learn along the way, songs of protest, songs of hope.  Walking from the Ellipse, past Treasury and Commerce.  The Washington Monument over our shoulders.  We can no longer see the Potomac or the magnificent Lincoln Memorial.

KEEP HOPE ALIVE!

He has to go,” people chant.  Whether it is in song, chant, or cheer, we draw strength, courage, and pride from this community of united voices.

All around us, marchers take pictures.  Of everyone.  Of each other.  Of us.  Some have camera trouble and ask us to “Take one for me?”

Under an enormous oak on the Mall, I meet a woman I worked with in 1984.  Joy spreads through our hearts and across our faces as we recognize each other.  A blessing in this sea of faces and signs.  Time stands still for five minutes.

                                               WOMEN ARE ANGRY–                                                         NATIVE WOMEN, WOMEN IN UNIFORM, RURAL WOMEN… 

As we walk back to the Metro, we stop at the Smithsonian Castle to use the bathrooms.  Men and women hold doors open for each other, deposit pockets full of trash in barrels set up by the National Park Service, and wish each other a safe trip home.  A lady from Arizona doesn’t seem to mind that she will miss her flight. “There will be another,” she smiles.

Our courage and determination have been energized by the men and women around us.  We feel blessed by the challenges and friends that this day has given us. We talk about the friends and family we will educate when we get home.  We aren’t even tired.  Our hearts are strong, and our feet are focused on the path ahead.  The date is April 5, 1992.

Twenty-five years later, marching again, we are surround by signs again.  Hundreds of signs.

WE WON’T GO BACK!

“Newish” BOLLI member Lydia Bogar

Former English teacher and health care professional, Lydia Bogar says she’s still not used to this retirement thing.  She joined BOLLI in the spring of 2016 after returning home from a stint in South Carolina where she dipped into another OLLI program.