COVID-19: JUST ANOTHER DISRUPTION?

Covid-19: Just Another Disruption?

by Kate Seidman

“Have you visited China in the last two weeks?”

I was in line at the departure gate at Gatwick Airport for my flight back to Boston. It was late January, and news of a virus in China had led many international airports to start some basic screening. There had been news of someone in Boston getting sick after returning from Wuhan, so I was a little nervous getting on the plane.

At the entrance to the departure lounge, each passenger was asked about recent travel to China.  If someone from China wanted to get to Boston, I thought, they could just lie,  but the person in front of me said that, yes, he had been in China three weeks ago. He got on the plane.

Now, in early June, so much has changed. How quaint were those early days when the only check was a verbal one and many thought the virus wouldn’t spread beyond its origins in China. Could we have imagined that, by now, there would be over 100,000 Americans dead from Covid-19 and the economy would be in shambles? Or that our lives would revolve around working from home, Zoom, grocery shopping exclusively online, social distancing, and face masks? We have been forced to “shelter in place” not for a day or two, as some of us did during the Boston Massacre, or weeks, as we did during a blizzard, but for months–and with no clear end in sight.

As we start to dip our toes back into the world, I find myself wondering how to make sense of what has changed and what may be laying ahead. Will we be able to return to normal, or will our lives never be the same? What can we learn from other disruptive events?

Are we like the survivors of a war trying to rebuild shattered lives and homes? Yes, we have lost too many lives. And we have lost our sense of feeling safe and secure in the world. But now, the danger comes not from bombs or artillery but from each other. Who might have the virus and not know it? How close can I come to that stranger or even my friend or relative? Who can I trust?

But the buildings are still standing. The communication, transportation, and other infrastructures have remained functional as have most businesses and institutions. Retail businesses are only waiting for people to emerge so they can start up again. Going forward, it is not the physical structures that need to be rebuilt but the personal, social, and political structures that hold our world together in invisible ways that make us feel safe and secure.

After every disaster, there is a period of cleanup which can last months. Now the cleanup drags on, exhausting the doctors, nurses, and others who are on the front lines. If the virus lingers, how do we build continuity and resilience to prevent breakdowns for those tasked with caring for the sick, the poor, the homeless? How do we reduce the demands and stress on teachers, parents, and others who are responsible for educating our children and grandchildren? We need more than just cleanup. We need long-term planning to train and rotate multiple waves of educators and front line workers as the first group rests. We need to protect those who heal, educate, and support us. We need to show them our appreciation and gratitude.

After wars and other major disruptions, the world did not return to the way it was. Some losses never healed. Some organizations never came back. Some people never recovered. And some suffered long-term physical and mental problems. We have already witnessed social, political, and economic fallout that could last for years. As we contemplate our lives going forward, we have to consider that we won’t ever go back to the way things were.

If the past few months have taught us anything, it is that we are responsible not just for ourselves but for those around us. We limit grocery shopping to protect not only us but the people working in the stores. We wear masks and practice social distancing not only for our own safety but so that we don’t spread the disease to others. These actions are part of living in a community where we have mutual responsibility for each other. When we trust and respect others by demonstrating kindness and compassion, we start to build the social structures from which strength, determination, and resiliency can grow.

We are fortunate, at BOLLI, to be part of a thriving learning community, even though  remote.  It’s a good start.

BOLLI Member Kate Seidman

When Kate joined BOLLI 5 years ago, she put aside a lifetime of research into people and technology to take classes in History, Music, Art, and Writing. She also knits. After 40 years as a foreigner, she still doesn’t understand America.

IT’S HERE! THE 2020 BOLLI JOURNAL

THE BOLLI JOURNAL, Volume Ten

The BOLLI Journal staff is proud and pleased to present this year’s volume of visual art and writing by members of our BOLLI community.

Enjoy “virtually” thumbing through this collection of written and visual art work.  Writing includes works of fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and memoir.   Drawing, painting, printmaking, mosaics, glass, and even furniture are featured.  In addition, this volume’s array of photography includes nature/wildlife images and portraits  as well as  travel and street scenes.   It definitely showcases this community’s remarkable talent!

Unfortunately, at this point, because of BOLLI’s current “online only” status, we really cannot say when print copies of the volume may become available for order and distribution.

We thank all of our BOLLI writers and artists for their marvelous contributions and look forward to you, the members of this community, sharing your reactions with that remarkable creative group.

Click here to access this year’s BOLLI Journal (or on either cover image).

 

STORIES FROM STEVE: THE TWO OF US

THE TWO OF US

By Steve Goldfinger

 She is a lot older than me (and I am old enough), yet our love endures and even grows stronger from year to year. She is full of soft charm, gentle shadows, and her commitment to my needs is unswerving.  Above all, her tenacious hold on beauty defies the new wrinkles that appear as inevitably as the seasons.

When I met 33 Birch Hill Road in 1966, she was 84 years old. She faced out on a gentle circle, comfortable with the two other venerable homes that bordered it. She embraced my wife and four sons as we moved in, and she did not shudder when we put her through some minor surgery, both cosmetic and reconstructive, at the start.

With pride, I took in her many graceful rooms. I loved the huge, multi-paned window with its arched top above her central staircase. The third floor, all one room, posed a challenge for one’s imagination when it came to livening it with furnishings.

Over the years, my infatuation with 33 Birch Hill transformed into love, exactly paralleling the ever-deepening love within the family she nurtured. I look back on the nooks and bindings that are shared between a home and those who call it such, and a bounty of remembrances springs forth.

Ed building the substantial back deck the summer after graduating from college. It remains sturdy and well used to this day, the one and only construction effort of his life.

The tee-off spot for the nine hole frisbee golf course Michael created, the “holes” being tree trunks, rocks, and assorted  landmarks around our circle.

The ghost piano sonata that startled my wife and me as we ate breakfast one morning, alone in the house. Well, not entirely alone. There was that squirrel who descended the open chimney, found the living room, and took a liking to the piano’s keyboard.

Peter tossing out carrots from his second floor window, his act in plain view of those of us sitting on the deck. He hated the carrots that Barbara always gave him to keep him healthy.

David’s room, its walls covered with large posters of dead rock stars. Also, music from his clarinet and later, his guitar. And the songs he wrote.

33 Birch Hill and I have aged noticeably in recent years. She has just undergone the replacement of three wood gutters at exorbitant expense while my left hip was replaced at virtually no cost, thanks to Medicare. She has needed an entire re-do of her front portico and new granite steps to finally replace her ever-rotting wooden ones.  She needs paint, inside and out. I need eye injections for macular degeneration. I need omeprazole for reflux and Eliquis for a heart that occasionally beats irregularly.

Love in later years does not change much—only in the intimacies and frailties that emerge.

BOLLI MATTERS feature writer Steve Goldfinger

After a long career in medicine, Steve has been exploring his artistic side.  At BOLLI, he has taken writing courses, been active in the Writers Guild, and even tried CAST (Creativity in Acting, Storytelling, and Theatre) where his imagination made him a singular player!

LINES FROM LYDIA: HAPPY TRAILS TO YOU…

HAPPY TRAILS TO YOU…

By Lydia Bogar

Not much television time at number 25 beyond “Big Brother Bob Emery” who we “met” when we got home from school for lunch every day.   In elementary school in those days,  prayed and said the Pledge of Allegiance. We had air raid drills, duck and cover.  And we walked to and from school–eight tenths of a mile, back and forth, four times a day, no matter what the weather.

On Friday nights when Daddy watched boxing on our little Emerson set, I sneaked under the dining room table to watch too.  That’s how I learned the Gillette theme song.

At about the same time, I learned “Happy trails to you, until we meet again…” from my childhood idol, Dale Evans.

Every week, she rode into our living room on her beautiful horse Buttermilk. She lived on a handsome ranch with handsome children and a handsome husband. A working mother–what a concept in 1955! Four of her kids were adopted. Her daughter Robin was what was called in those days, “retarded,” like Judy, the young neighbor I walked with on afternoons when my mother wanted me out of the house. Robin died two years later. When I was in sixth grade, I read a book that Dale wrote.

I was introduced to Charlie McCarthy and Edgar Bergen when Dale sang her theme song on their show.  Her smooth voice and the lyrics remain tucked in some little memory cranny of my mind along with a collection of songs from John Denver, Elvis, and the Kingston Trio. Dale Evans—singer, songwriter, movie star, mother, and cowgirl. Yee-ha!

Everything in Dale’s world seemed perfect, including her childhood home–probably a role model for early television and maybe even Mr. Disney. At least it seemed that way to me until I looked into Dale’s life.

Roy Rogers was her fourth husband. “The Sons of the Pioneers” were not family except on television. Her birth name was Lucille Smith.  Roy’s was Leonard Slye.  Lucille and Leonard devoted their retirement years to adoption advocacy and conservative Christian projects like keeping prayer in schools.

But Dale and Roy helped to keep my life simple in the mid 50’s when I played with my official Dale Evans plastic horse and chuck wagon complete with tiny little cooking utensils that were eaten by my dog.

Reciting one of Dale’s prayers, “Who cares about the clouds when we’re together? Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather,” I adapted to the changes in my family as Daddy got sicker and Mom baked late at night when she couldn’t sleep.

I came to believe that Dale Evans was my friend, and I still keep her words at heart: “It’s the way you ride the trail that counts.”

BOLLI MATTERS co-editor, feature writer, and Writers Guild co-chair Lydia Bogar

Our own “Renaissance Woman,” Lydia has done everything from teaching English to doing volunteer emergency service.  She says she “hails from Woostah–educated at BOLLI.”

QUARANTINE TALES: MARTY’S TREES AND GRILLS

                                       TREES AND GRILLS

By Martin Kafka

During these times of global and local threat from an invisible enemy, I seek out ways to calm myself and maintain a positive attitude. This is one of them.                                                                             

I have been called a tree-hugger. I am humbled by trees.  Where I grew up in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, we had the pleasure of having a London Plane Tree,  an upland variation of the Sycamore, that stood proudly across from our front stairs and shed its joyous leaves in the fall. Brooklyn had more than a few trees, you know, but let’s face it, the “Garden City” of Newton is a hell of a lot more arboreal.

On this early evening, as I sit at the picnic table, grilling herbed chicken and nursing a gin with tonic and lime, I am surrounded by mature trees, really tall ones, at the boundary edge of my back yard.  These days, I consider them my protectors. I recently learned that our home is nearly one hundred years old, so some of the mighty trees that look up to the evening blue sky from our front and back yards could be pretty old.  I’m sure they have witnessed a lot of barbecues, birds, wild turkeys, rabbits, mice, deer, and especially, noisy joyful children. Like the Liberty Mutual commercial jingle, my trees “have seen a thing or two.”

As I admire the wonderful late afternoon’s yellowed-green light shimmering through the leaves on my favorite oak, white birch, and linden trees, I have to admit that I am nearly in awe at the myriad of dappled tones of their wonderful leaves. This is a very peaceful spot for me. I am safe here.

Whenever I am out here grilling, admiring my back yard, and relaxing, I also find myself reminiscing about my dad. He relaxed on the fairways and greens of the golf course, and he loved to charcoal grill chicken after a day at the links. Dad was the family Grill King on our small back porch in Brooklyn while Mom was the undisputed Queen of our Kitchen Cuisine. But as far as grilling, the times have not changed that much.  For me, outdoor grilling is still a man’s domain.

My dad loved his chicken, and he loved cooking it, turning the legs and breasts with long grilling tongs.  It was one of the times he could be quiet, almost meditative. He also loved his Dewar’s Scotch on the rocks which he always had while grilling.  That time on our modest back yard elevated porch was the heyday for charcoal briquette grilling, with none of this contemporary gas grill-heat ’em- right-up kind of thing.  When I did my residency training in psychiatry in Ann Arbor, I used to do charcoal grilling on my tiny back porch and still did so when I first moved to Newton.  The cooking process took too long once I had a family, though, so I finally capitulated to the gas grill for its convenience.  But I sure miss that charcoal flavor and all those aromatic carcinogens!

As my father’s son, I have inherited his fondness for food, grilling, and, especially, herbed chicken.  I will admit that a bit of alcohol helps as well.  Dad would wait for those charcoal briquettes to be just right before adding the chicken to the grill-top, enjoying the sizzle as he nursed his Dewar’s. When it comes to grilling chicken, like father, like son. No worries now–just good food!

BOLLI Member, SGL, and Writers Guild Writer Marty Kafka
Marty Kafka is a retired psychiatrist whose passions include his wife Karen and their family, international travel, and jazz piano. 
In addition, Marty has found a retirement career taking BOLLI classes, writing memoir, and being active in the Photography special interest group.

 

QUARANTINE TALES: LOIS SOCKOL

Quarantine Days

by Lois Sockol

The morning sun streams through my bedroom window. Definitely, I will walk outdoors today. But what day is it? Silly how the days have lost their individuality. Wait, I know. Yesterday I had a BOLLI class, so today must be Tuesday.

BOLLI and other streaming sites help define my calendar, and Zoom is the engine that drives my days. No need to fight the Rt. 128 traffic or search out a parking space. Just steps from the comfort of my bed, through the breakfast eating area to my office, I sit in front of my computer screen, click my mouse, and grin as the world opens before me.

Each day, there are courses, or lectures, or both, as well as family meetings and chats with friends. Although not as gratifying as the warmth of human touch, seeing welcoming faces and animated gestures is far more satisfying than merely hearing voices through the telephone line. Funny how Zoom, an impersonal innovation, can so successfully enable a sense of intimacy. Never would I have anticipated it penetrating the wilderness of my quarantine.

Now that I know it’s Tuesday, I can plan to take my walk after the Rotary meeting, which runs from noon to 1:30. I have set a goal that, for each hour I sit at my desk, I will walk for either 15 or 20 minutes.

With each passing day of isolation, it seems that more and more people are leaving the confines of their homes to walk along a sidewalk that borders a once heavily trafficked street, the thoroughfare to Rt.128. Whether it be families, couples, or individuals, walkers and joggers stream by my window, some wearing masks, all appropriately distanced. Perhaps this healthy, social activity will continue even after the hovering cloud of COVID- 19 is lifted.

I have always enjoyed walking, but, these days, it feels even more pleasurable. The trees are definitely greener and more vibrant, the pink azaleas and red rhododendrons are more dynamic. And the birds. Never have I seen so many red robins hip-hopping across my lawn, not flying but walking and pecking. And yesterday, a most unusual experience.

As I walked along the street, a sudden shadow hovered over me. I lifted my eyes and gazed at the wings of a huge hawk. The sight startled me! Hawks in Needham!  That wonder was followed by a quick flash of scarlet as I caught sight of a brilliant red cardinal in flight.

Can it be that the reduction in carbon is encouraging the natural wildlife to leave their hideaways? Now that’s a consequence I can happily live with.

BOLLI member, SGL, writer, and friend Lois Sockol

“I’ve been blessed with a 65 year marriage.  We raised four boys we are proud of and  enjoy the reward of 9 grandchildren.  I taught public school for 25 years, published an instructional manual to aid teachers in teaching children who are high risk for learning to read, and conducted seminars on the teaching of reading. I have been active in Needham for 36 years as a Library Trustee and a Town Meeting member.  And now, I have the joy of being a member of BOLLI!”

THE SCREENING ROOM: TALL TALES–TRUTH OR FANTASY?

TALL TALES:  TRUTH OR FANTASY?

By Dennis Greene

Back in 2003, two films were released which plucked at my heartstrings.  Each, in fact, seemed to be playing the same tune.

Both films made me experience wonder, think about storytelling, and appreciate the uplifting power of nostalgia and fantasy.

Yesterday, while channel-surfing, I stumbled upon one of those films, Big Fish, which was directed by Tim Burton and featured Albert Finney, Ewan McGregor, Helena Bonham Carter, Danny DeVito, Steve Buscemi, Miley Cyrus, Billy Crudup, and Robert Guillaume.  A quite talented cast.

The story focuses on the irrepressible traveling salesman Ed Bloom (Finney) who has spent his lifetime telling unbelievable stories to his family. His son Will (Crudup) is initially dazzled by his father’s adventures, but as he grows up, he begins to doubt the truth of these oft- repeated tales and, over time, becomes estranged from his father. The audience experiences these past adventures through slightly surreal flashbacks featuring young Ed Bloom (McGregor). which present charming fairytale images. As Ed Bloom lies dying, Will returns, along with his pregnant wife, to try to reconnect with his father and discover the truth about his father’s life and love for his mother. Will wants to be able to pass the truth on to his own child. The movie ends with Ed Bloom’s death and some revelations about the truth, but it closes with an uplifting note which left me both satisfied and a little choked up. Big Fish received positive critical comment but is not very well known. One reviewer noted that “Big Fish is the enchanting story of a father and son, but it really is the story of stories themselves.”

As I watched Big Fish, I realized how much the film reminded me of Secondhand Lions, another high quality but often overlooked film from 2003. Lions also had a very talented cast including Robert Duval, Michael Caine, Haley Joel Osment, Kyra Sedgwiick, and Jennifer Stone.

The film centers on a fourteen-year-old boy who is sent by his irresponsible mother to live with his two very eccentric “uncles” on their run-down ranch in the middle of nowhere. The uncles are strangers to the boy, but as they become acquainted and then close, the uncles tell the boy extraordinary tales of their youthful escapades as soldiers of fortune. The stories seem right out of The Arabian Nights with sultans, harems, princesses, vast treasures, daring rescues, and desert escapes, but the boy also sees aspects of the two old men that suggest the tales could be true. He is also told about the unwavering lifetime love of one of the uncles for the princess he rescued. Again, the film involves the telling of fantastic stories, and the audience has to decide whether or not to believe that the stories are true. The movie also ends with death, revelation, an uplifting feeling, and a few tears. The review of Big Fish mentioned above is equally applicable to Lions. It is an enchanting story of two old men and a boy, but it really is another story about stories themselves.

I am a storyteller and am prone to retell and embellish my stories repeatedly. Those who spend time with a storyteller, like spouses, children, siblings, and long-time friends or coworkers sooner or later come to find these stories tedious. Roger Ebert, in his not entirely positive review of Big Fish, described Ed Bloom as a “tireless blowhard” who “repeats the same stories so relentlessly you expect the eyeballs of his listeners to roll up into their foreheads and be replaced by tic-tac-toe diagrams, like in the funnies.”

I have always had high regard for Mr. Ebert, so his comment hit home—but not about the movie.  I think I have detected eyes rolling up as I have told my stories, but I have stubbornly ignored those hints. Because I don’t want to become a tireless blowhard (if I am not there already), I have decided to cease retelling any story to anyone who may have already heard it, with the possible exception of a few stories I feel are so good that they are worth hearing again. So now, I will have to create new stories, find new listeners, or just shut up.

If you want to escape the real world for a few hours, I highly recommend either of these feel-good films about storytelling and truth.  I will not tell you this again.

“BOLLI Matters” feature writer Dennis Greene

Dennis spent five years as an engineer and then forty as a lawyer–and sixty as a pop culture geek and junkie.  He saw “The Day the Earth Stood Still” in 1951 when he was seven and has been hooked on speculative fiction ever since.  

 

THE BOLLI JOURNAL: UPDATE

THE BOLLI JOURNAL: UPDATE

For those of you who have been wondering about the publication and distribution of the latest BOLLI Journal,  it is coming soon!

Considering our current–and likely elongated–quarantine, we have decided to produce the Journal in a two-stage way, reversing the order of our past practice which was to publish the print version and then, later, put it online.

It is our plan to have this year’s volume put online by mid-summer.  Members will have a chance to order print copies which we will then run for them.

It is a volume that we know you will enjoy!  Wonderful work from our contributors–and by our editors as well!

 

 

WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND THESE DAYS? SHARE WITH YOUR BOLLI FELLOWS!

I recently got a group email asking for our quarantine stories–what we’re doing to keep ourselves alert and fit, what we’re experiencing in terms of the news regarding our community–globally, nationally, state-wide, locally–what we’ve seen in our families, friends, and neighbors that give us cause to celebrate,  what lifts us up and makes us laugh, how our faith is being tested…all of that sort of thing.

We have this wonderful BOLLI forum available to us for sharing our experiences during this potentially so very isolating time in our lives.  (Or during any time, for that matter, of course!) So, think about what you might share with all of us.

No, you should NOT let thoughts like “but I’m no writer” or “nobody will be interested in what I have to say” or “I’m not doing anything of any note” get in your way.  Absolutely every one of those thoughts is actually quite worthy of exploring and sharing with others who feel the same way.

SO–this is a great time for exercising.  Not only by stretching and bending into yoga poses or doing jumping jacks, but by stretching and bending your thinking muscles as well as your writing muscles (which you may or may not even realize you have–but, trust me, you do), and get your thoughts and feelings “out there.”

Send me any and all thoughts–and if you would like or feel the need, I am happy to coach or edit.

BOLLI MATTERS  Sue Wurster

Send items to susanlwurster@gmail.com

No deadline, no word limit, no style preference–humorous, serious, fiction, nonfiction, essay, poetry, book/movie/tv show review, memoir, whatever you like!

MORE TECH TALK WITH JOHN RUDY: Another Scam…

DEFENDER SCAM

by John Rudy

Scams continue to be a major problem, and all of us need be very careful about them.  Some are fairly obvious as they contain poor English, but others seem almost reasonable.  Let me address one that I recently received.

Before showing it to you, let me mention that Windows Defender is important software from Microsoft that is part of your operating system.  It protects you from viruses and is the Microsoft default product for this service.  Many purchase other products from Norton and other companies because, until recently, Defender and its predecessors were deemed insufficient.  In general, though, that is not the case today.  And, as I said, it is FREE.

So this is what I received as an email (I’ve compressed it a bit). If this is sent to enough people who actually respond, they will receive a lot of money.  Two weeks ago, I received a very similar scam, but that one was only asking $299.

DO NOT call the “toll-free number” provided.  Just delete the message and move on!

===================================================

Thank you for your order.

Your order number: #5327271724162153

This is your receipt make sure to print or save a copy for your records.

Your order has been shipped through online delivery.

If you want to cancel this order, Give us call on our toll-free number:-  (704) 764-1190

Your Order Information:

Order Number: #5327271724162153

Customer Number: 0008547896 

Order date: 05/18/2020

Items Ordered: 1

Your Billing Information:

Total Amount: $499.99

Payment Method: Visa Credit/Debit Card/Net 500

Your Shipping Details:
Shipping Method: Online
Product Detail: Download File

Thank you for your recent order with us. If you have any questions or want a refund for this order, Please call on our Toll-Free Number: (704) 764-1190

We all need to be particularly careful these days as there are predators out there trying to take advantage of our fears.

BOLLI “Matters” feature writer John Rudy

A long-time technology expert and guide, John provides his helpful hints in this regular BOLLI Matters feature.  In the comment box below, be sure to provide John with questions,  comments, or suggestions future tech items to cover. 

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE WITH LARRY: CHECK, PLEASE

In response to the Writers Guild prompt, “Check, Please,” Larry took what we have come to think of as a Schwirian Turn.

Check, Please

  by Larry Schwirian

Three young eastern European men, educated in England, decided to take a holiday together in Germany before returning to their respective home countries. None of the three spoke the native language of the others; nor did they speak German; but they all spoke English. They wanted to see the Black Forest in southwest Germany, Neuschwanstein Castle (also known as Mad Ludwig’s Castle) in Hohenschwangau, the well preserved medieval old town of Rothenberg, the Rathaus-Glockenspeil in Munich, and they wanted to experience the dynamic economy of Germany to see how it compared to those of England and their home countries. They also hoped  to meet and party with some local Fraüleins before returning home.

All three of the young men could be considered attractive in that they were all physically fit and well-groomed, but there were distinct differences in their mannerisms and personalities. Andrei, from Russia, was taller and more muscular than the others and had a more outgoing personality. Mudrac, from Serbia, was somewhat smaller and thinner but was a keen observer and appeared to be the most introspective and learned of the three. Oldrich, from Prague, was the handsomest, was perfectly proportioned, carried himself like an aristocrat, and appeared to be from a family of some wealth.

One day, in Munich, the young men decided to stop in a restaurant for lunch. As it was the middle of the afternoon, there were not many patrons present, so there were plenty of open tables and an abundance of wait staff.  Three young waitresses—Uda, Hilda, and Darissa—saw the young men come in and began to discuss which of them would wait on them. As all three wanted the opportunity to serve these young “hunks,” a somewhat heated discussion followed. Finally, they decided that, since there were three of them and there were three young men, each of them would serve one of the young patrons. They drew straws to see who would have the first pick.  Uda, whose name means “prosperous or rich,” drew the long straw.  She calmly looked at the other two, smiled, and exclaimed, “I’ll take the Czech, please.”

Frequent “BOLLI Matters” contributor and co-leader of the Writers Guild Larry Schwirian

Architect Larry and his fellow architect wife Caroline live in an historic preservation home in Newton and, together, lead BOLLI courses on architecture.  Larry has been an active participant in  and leader of the Writers Guild special interest group as well as serving on the BOLLI Journal staff.  

ANOTHER SIG UPDATE: BOLLI PHOTOGRAPHY GROUP

On Friday, November 15th,  the BOLLI Photography Group had our final meeting of the term.  We viewed and discussed the photographs members had submitted for review on a large screen in the Green Room.   Some of the submissions were from our fall field trip to Mt. Auburn Cemetery led by Helen Abrams while others were of sporting events, autumn scenes, travel shots, and family events.

On December 13, the group went on another field trip, this time to the MFA where Joanne Fortunato says “we had the privilege of having Karen Haas, a curator at the museum who is responsible for researching and putting exhibits together.  She gave us a tour of the Howard Greenberg Collection of photography.  It was a wonderful exhibit, and Karen was fabulous!”

According to the museum’s website, the Howard Greenberg Collection of 447 photographs by 191 artists “includes iconic European masterpieces from the 1920s and 1930s as well as a wide range of socially conscious works—powerful visual testimonies of Depression-era America, politically engaged street photography, exceptional examples of wartime photojournalism, and poignant depictions of African American life from the 1930s through the Civil Rights movement. Integrating these photographs into the MFA’s collection allows the Museum to explore fresh narratives, bring new insights and perspectives to current issues, and celebrate photography as an art form as well as a social, cultural and political force.”

Organizers: Helen Abrams, Karen Haas, Joanne Fortunato and Jennifer Coplon.

The group’s meetings are a fun way for members to gather and demonstrate their skills as well as subjects they enjoy photographing.  And, of course, the field trips are always memorable!

The BPG is opened to all who enjoy photography.  Our next meeting is scheduled for Friday, January 17th, 12:30 – 2 pm in the Green Room.

 

A SENIOR MOMENT FROM DONNA: GIVE US A BREAK

GIVE US A BREAK

by Donna Johns

Stuck in the house waiting for a repair, I sat down with a cup of coffee to watch Robert Mueller’s testimony to Congress.  He was, as I expected, clear and to the point and very “lawyer-y.”  He kept flipping through that 400 page report to verify his answers.  And he looked a tiny bit annoyed. I’m sure he would have preferred to be fishing, or reading, or just about anything that did not involve being thanked for his service and attacked for his findings. They mercifully gave him (and me) a break after 90 minutes.

Returning to the television, the talking heads were analyzing his performance:

“He seems confused.”

“He keeps shuffling papers.”

“Is he ill?”

As I am wont to do when confronted with idiot talking heads, I began to yell at them. “Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out he’s hard of hearing! He’s not sick. He’s just 75. Give him a break!” I watched the second morning session, paying closer attention to the man. Sure enough, when asked a question, Mueller tilted his head to hear better. He probably has one good ear and one that is trashed. We see it at BOLLI all the time.

Shuffling papers?  He was very precise when he found the relevant portions of his report.  He just took his sweet time finding them. At his age, many of us can’t find our keys, eyeglasses, or the shopping list we wrote last night. I thought it was admirable that he actually found anything in those two massive binders.

That got me thinking of all the criticisms we face as we age. Our children are chronic offenders but it comes from just about everyone. Rather than shrugging off our little idiosyncrasies, there is a tendency to try to fix us, as if we were broken.  Nope, not broken…just different. Raise your hand if any of these ring a bell.

  • “I got stuck behind a Q-Tip driving 20 miles per hour. Why are they still on the road?”  Answer: How much damage can I do going 20 miles per hour? Also…need groceries.  Also, what’s your hurry?
  • ” Can’t you hear me? Why don’t you pay attention?” Answer: You mumble. And frankly, if you can’t speak up, why do I have to pay             attention?
  • ”Why are you taking so long to (fill in the blank)?” Answer:  After a lifetime of hurrying, I’m enjoying a more leisurely pace. Also, how            important is (fill in the blank) anyway?

Aging is a daily challenge, and most of us do it with dignity. Perhaps the young-uns need to appreciate our uniqueness and quit diagnosing our “shortcomings.” Move on…nothing to fix here!

BOLLI Matters feature writer Donna Johns

Donna is a teacher/librarian, writer of unpublished romance novels, sometime director of community theater and BOLLI member. She has two fantastic faux knees which set off the metal detectors at Fenway Park.

MEMOIR FROM DENNIS: TWO SPECIAL FRIENDSHIPS

Two Special Friendships

 by Dennis Greene

My life is richer because of two women whose paths I was lucky enough to have crossed. They are both smart, strong and beautiful, and, like a lot of us, are currently dealing with the undeserved curveballs life throws our way.

Recently,  my friend Hunter lost the sight in one eye due to a sudden arterial occlusion or “eye stroke.”  She notified her legions of friends of the loss, informed us that the doctors said the damage was probably total and irreversible, and reminded us gamely that she still had one eye that was working fine.  Hunter is tough, well-grounded,  indominable.  Though we have never met and have only spoken on the phone once, I consider her one of my best friends.  I met Hunter through Judy.

Judy was my first girlfriend.  She was tall, pretty, smart, and a very nice person.  I met her in high school in 1960 when she was scooping ice cream at Gulf Hill Dairy.  We dated pretty regularly during my senior year,  but I am not sure how to characterize the relationship. At the time, I had nothing to compare it with, but it probably fell into the “semi-serious” category.  I do know that, when I went away to college, I expected to see her at Thanksgiving, but, shortly before the holiday, I received a “Dear John” letter.  Judy told me she had started dating Dave and we wouldn’t be seeing one another anymore.

Dave was one of the most popular guys in my class, one of the best all-around athletes in the school, my teammate on the basketball team, and a good guy. He was also tall, movie star handsome, and destined to become a Marine officer.  I was glad for Judy but a little sad for me. But, because of her, I had much more experience with the opposite sex than I had had a year earlier. And I was strangely proud to have received my first “Dear John” letter. It proved I was in the game.

Judy and Dave have been married more than half a century.

Twenty years later, my wife and I attended my 20th high school reunion.  As we stood in line to get our name tags, Judy and Dave walked in.  Eileen had heard me tell high school stories and was interested in meeting them.  As I made the introductions,  I realized, from Judy’s expression, that she had no idea who I was.  It was an awkward moment that Eileen seems to take some joy in mentioning, while noting that most women remember their prom dates.

Over the years following that reunion, I kept in touch with Dave and Judy, and when we discovered Facebook, Judy and I began playing Lexulous (a scrabble type game) on line.  At some point, she suggested that I might also like to play with her friend Hunter, a woman she had met through their mutual love of rescued Border collies. For a number of years, the three of us played lots of games.

Then, sadly, Dave began suffering from Lewy Body Dementia, and Judy stopped playing, devoting all of her time to caring for him.  She was a talented artist, but she gave up all her woodcarving and most of her photography activities. It made me think about how much caregivers have to forgo in order to care for a loved one. Such caregivers deserve much more appreciation than they often receive.

Hunter and I have continued to play online games for over eight years now.  According to the Lexulous site, we have played over 3,000 games. The site makes it easy for players to chat, and ,through that online interaction,  I have come to know quite a bit about Hunter.  She loves dogs and horses and always has several.  She has told me stories about her parents and her children, and she is outspoken about her political beliefs. In fact, she is outspoken and effusive about most everything.

Hunter was not as open and forthcoming at first, but, at some point, she expressed a very liberal opinion and mentioned that I probably would disagree with her.  As an educated, Jewish Democrat with atheist leanings, born in Newark, N. J.,  I wasn’t used to having anyone assume I was politically conservative. When I asked her why she thought I would disagree, she told me that she just assumed I was a conservative, religious Republican who belonged to a yacht club because I had been friends with Judy and Dave.  I told her she had me pegged wrong, and, since then, Hunter has been much more free-wheeling when it comes to expressing her opinions. Her recent Trump posts have been especially entertaining.  I never noted that these two friends were at such different ends of the political spectrum.

Hunter called me once for legal advice when a used truck she had purchased in Texas broke down about 150 miles from the dealer, but all of our other contact has been through Facebook. Recently, I told her that I had added her to my bucket list and planned to visit her in Florida. I am going to do that sometime soon.

When we look back on our lives, the things that shine are the friendships we have been lucky enough to share.  For me, Hunter and Judy are two that shine the brightest.

“BOLLI Matters” feature writer Dennis Greene

Dennis spent five years as an engineer and then forty as a lawyer–and sixty as a pop culture geek and junkie.  He saw “The Day the Earth Stood Still” in 1951 when he was seven and has been hooked on speculative fiction ever since.  He has engaged in memoir writing since joining BOLLI.

QUARANTINE TALES: FOOD SHOPPING BY KATHY WANGH

FOOD SHOPPING DURING THE CORONAVIRUS

By Katherine Wangh

I am waiting to pick up some boxes of food at Russo’s. It is raining.  I have been in my car for over an hour, so I have had time to get in touch with my feelings.

I think about not being able to pick out the avocadoes or the bouquet of flowers I like. I think about not being able to debate which vegetables to buy depending on what looks good this week. I think about not being able to look at, touch, and smell all these beautiful fruits, vegetables, plants, and flowers.

I have placed my order.  Not only are spontaneous choices not possible, but it is also not possible to have spontaneous encounters with other shoppers who come from all parts of the world to buy the fruits and vegetables from their native countries.  Conversations between customers usually start with “What is this? How do you eat it or cook it?” No more indulging my curiosity about foods and people in those narrow aisles filled with produce. Instead, I wait patiently in my car for a woman younger than me, wearing a face mask and rubber gloves, to wheel my boxes out in the rain.

Before she reaches my car, I see her throw a huge planter of purple and white pansies onto the cart. I figure this is not my order as I did not order pansies. I am feeling a bit downcast with all the waiting. Then she taps on my window! It is my order! I open the back with the automatic door opener, and she places the boxes inside saying, “I threw in some pansies for you! I hope you like flowers!”  Overcome, I say, “Thank you! Thank you so much! Yes, I love flowers!”

Once home, I put on a mask and rubber gloves and unpack the boxes on the deck, washing everything in soapy water. In the background, I seem to hear the soundtrack of anxiety and the fear of death which seems to be playing all day and all night. Admittedly, I have found some ways to distract myself from this music, but I could never have imagined that the best interruption would come today, from a complete stranger, in the form of a spontaneous and cheerful gift of purple and white pansies!

BOLLI Member and Writers Guild writer Kathy Wangh

My interests?  Music. Art, language, psychology, nature, science, travel.  My professions?  Teaching preschool and working with children/young adults as a psycho-analytically trained therapist. Married to scientist Larry for over 50 years and now enjoying grandchildren, singing in the Concord Women’s Chorus, curating my father’s artistic legacy, writing, and gardening!

 

 

GIVING IT AWAY

GIVING IT AWAY

by John Rudy

Until this March, it was easy to give things away.  You could take them to Goodwill, use Freecycle, or take advantage of lots of other venues.  It was also easy to donate food to food kitchens, clothing to clothing drives, etc.  Then everything stopped, and two results have occurred.  Things started piling up at home, and those in need lost an important source of goods.  Remember the food box at Turner Street and the fall coat drive?

Now that things are beginning to open up, I’d like to make some recommendations:

  1. Now that we are spending time at home, it is a good time to de-clutter.  In Lexington, we have REUSEIT,  a program which provides a mechanism for giving things away to other locals.  I’ve given everything from furniture to lumber to jewelry.
  2. Many organizations are now beginning to collect items, usually involving a process in which it sits for a number of days to ensure that there is no contamination.
  3. Market Basket (and some other supermarkets) have large containers to accept food which they then donate.
  4. Stop and Shop is now back to collecting bottles and cans but not yet accepting plastic bags.

Have additional recommendations to augment this short report for fellow BOLLI members looking to help?

Send your ideas to susanlwurster@gmail.com for placement in BOLLI Matters.

 

THE CHEF’S CORNER WITH JOHN RUDY: BAKED APRICOT CHICKEN

BAKED APRICOT CHICKEN

For this recipe, I use large thighs, but they can be replaced with thick pieces of breast meat.  Also, although I prefer thigh meat as it does not dry out and usually cook it with bone and skin, you can also use boneless.  Serve with rice.  I first made this in 1970.

4                            Chicken thighs with bone and skin

½ cup                  Apricot preserves

1/2 cup              Wish Bone Russian or French Dressing

½ package          Lipton Dried Onion Soup Mix

  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. In a medium bowl combine the jam, dressing and soup mix. Mix together.
  3. Place chicken pieces in an 8” x 8” baking dish. Pour apricot mixture over chicken and bake uncovered in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes.  The time will vary depending on bone or no bone, and with thigh or breast.  So it is best to start checking at 30 minutes.
  4. Broil (skin up) for a couple of minutes if you used pieces with skin
BOLLI “Matters” feature writer John Rudy

John says that it was his mother who inspired his love of cooking and baking at an early age.  (She cooked vegetables in boil-able packages.)

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