LINES FROM LYDIA: FROM SPAG’S TO KITTERY

FROM SPAG’S TO KITTERY–A SIMPLE LEAP

Spag’s Spag-Tacular Values Store

 

Kittery.   Kittery Maine is a beach town, rocky and cold but very peaceful.   With lobsters, lots of lots of L-O-B-S-T-A-S .  It is also a destination for those in need of retail therapy in the form of outlet store bargains.  Lots of  B-AH-G-U-N-S.

Bargain shopping is in my blood.  You see, I grew up in Worcester—where we had Spag’s. Founded in 1934 by Anthony “Spag” Borgatti, it was the most wonderful store.  At Spag’s, “where cash buys more,” you could by a can of paint, a wrench, or a 5-lb. jar of peanut butter. You could visit with friends and neighbors who were buying everything from grass seed to work gloves to vacuum cleaner bags—with no plastic.  In fact, at Spag’s, there were no bags or shopping carts. You put your stuff in your own bags or in empty cardboard boxes found around the store.  And every part of the store had its own smells.  Bread.  Shoe leather.  Fertilizer.  But always the fragrance of paper dust and just-cut cardboard.  Spag’s may have closed a dozen years ago, but the retail lessons learned there will never fade.  For me, the name of the game was—and still is—“the best deal for the best price.”  We learned that from our parents and from Spag himself before the missiles were photographed in Cuba.  And then, we taught our children “Spag’s Mentality.”

So, for me, when Kittery became an outlet store mecca, the leap from Spag’s to Maine was not a painful one.  At Spag’s, Wrangler jeans, piled by size on shelves, had cost less than $10 a pair. Now, the Lee Outlet in Kittery offers a dozen different colors and cuts for prices ranging from $39 to $100, a definite bargain in today’s market.

During my years as the mother-of-the-bride, treks to Kittery became marathon. The drive north on New Year’s weekend was one of the favorites.  Sets of handcrafted holiday ornaments in really nice boxes made great gifts for my daughters but also served as bridal shower gifts for their friends.  Serving pieces from Lenox China likewise.  Pyrex casseroles and OXO utensils were legion.

At about that time, I turned a walk-in closet into a storage space that my girls referred to as “The Store.”  With four long shelves and six feet of closet rod, it became the resting place for good bargains.  Fancy candles.  Blankets and throws. Mirrors and holiday items.  When my mother’s health impeded traveling to stores, she would do her birthday and holiday shopping in “The Store.”

My mother and I never shopped together in Kittery, but she had taught me well during the Spag’s years.  No, my most diligent shopping partner was Betty, who loved a bargain every bit as much as I did.  On one trip, she managed to score one of her greatest finds ever—an entire set of dishes to match the blue walls and red ceiling border of her newly renovated kitchen.  Her very favorite trip, though, was our first venture to the When Pigs Fly bakery.  Talk about aroma.  Forty dollars later, we returned to the car where the “coup de gras” rested in my trunk—a tray, napkins, a knife, and a pound of butter.  It was the most perfect January day–the sun was shining, there was no dirty snow in the parking lot, and the temperature was hovering in the mid 50’s.  We sat on the tailgate and relished the baked goods and the moment. Her freckled smile is preserved in my memory.

With the arrivals of the boys, my grandsons Brady and Henry, my addiction to cute pajamas and overalls propelled me to the Carter Outlet where I would spend $30 on tiny tee shirts and rubber pants, and then take away a free umbrella stroller.  The boys have outgrown Carter’s, and their new shirts–complete with dinosaur and sport themes–now come from full-price sporting goods stores, and of course, the vendors near Fenway.

So, here are a couple of tips for shopping at the Kittery Outlets.  Use your VISA card as you drive north and your MasterCard when you head south, going home, to avoid straining either one.  During the month of August, avoid the crowds of frantic mothers and unhappy kids altogether.  Go to the beach.  Eat lobsta and whole belly clams by day, and drive home at sunset.  The crazy shoppers don’t tend to hit the road until the outlets close at 9 p.m.

Shopping at other beaches?  The Outer Banks? Monterey? Key West?  Sure, but it’s just not the same. You can’t find lobstas or whole belly clams, and if they have coupons, I have yet to see one.

I stopped my treks to Kittery when I retired, had lost forty pounds, and was shopping in good consignment shops that could accommodate my changing sizes and tight budget.  In my heart, though, Kittery shopping ended five years ago when my dear Betty died. How could those trips bring me happiness when my faithful shopping partner was no longer there to ride shotgun?  She is in my heart always, as is my mother who trained me at Spag’s.

Shopping with family and friends can be a distraction during times of stress or unhappiness. From big box stores to outlets to coastal gift shops, finding the perfect item for someone special and giving it with love is key.  The warm smile delivered in return is the best kind of retail therapy there is.

Frequent BOLLI blogger, 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.  

 

 

MEET MEMBER MARTHA BERARDINO: STITCHING IN TIME

MARTHA BERARDINO:  STITCHING IN TIME

In June of 2014, Martha saw an advertisement for BOLLI’s “Scholar for a Day” in the Newton Tab.  Having recently retired, she was intrigued with the idea of taking classes and signed up for the program.  When she arrived, she found herself in a current events class that she did not think she would enjoy, “but I was so impressed with the SGL who gave us a map and spoke so knowledgeably about ISIS that I even talked during the session.”  She says the Lunch & Learn program that day was also excellent, and, consequently, she signed up for the 2014 fall term.

“Since then, I have enjoyed all the classes I have taken–with only one exception.  And since I have taken 17 courses so far, that strikes me as a great ‘batting’ average. I enjoy listening to the SGLs and my fellow classmates—everyone has so much to offer on the many subjects.  I have been especially impressed with the great selection of speakers at Lunch & Learn, and I also love the seminars during the winter and summer terms.”

In addition to her course load at BOLLI, Martha has become a “part-time” member of the Photo Club, attending some of the group’s meetings as well as their outings which she has found particularly fun to do.  She has also been taking part in the Book Group.  “The books chosen have broadened my reading selections, and the discussions are very interesting,” she says.

One of Martha’s interests outside BOLLI is doing cross-stitch samplers, a tradition in which, for centuries, stitchers have created pieces to demonstrate their skills and commemorate significant events.  “In 1976, I wanted to make something for my first child,” she says.  “I first tried crewel and then needlepoint but then realized that I liked counted cross-stitch the best.  It takes concentration, but I also find it relaxing.”  She has enjoyed making birth samplers for the babies in her life which she says some receive shortly after birth while others come along later.  “I just recently finished a birth sampler for my great niece who lives in Pennsylvania—she’ll be four in April!  And now, I am working on one for my honorary great-niece who arrived twelve days early on March 5th.”

Martha majored in chemistry in college, and after she graduated as an analytical chemist, she worked in three different arenas.  After two years in the chemistry lab at Mass General, she spent eighteen years in a Boston City Hospital research lab which then moved to Beth Israel Hospital.  Her last job was a twenty-two year stint at Biogen, the well-known biotech company.  “Working in biotech is fascinating and very rewarding,” she says. With a note of pride, she adds that “during my time at Biogen, we had seven drugs approved by the FDA.”

Martha is married to Bob, a retired high school guidance director, and the couple have two children.  Son Michael is working on his Ph.D. in public policy at UMass Boston where he concentrates on English language learners.  Daughter Jennifer, who works as a corporate recruiter, is married to Watertown Chef Mike Fucci who was recently the winner on an episode of Cuttroat Kitchen on the Food Network!

Apparently, Martha Berardino’s friends have dubbed her their “Culture Meister” because of her talent for organizing trips to drama, dance, and music performances.  At the moment, she recommends the play Topdog/Underdog at the Huntington Theatre, the Matisse exhibit at the MFA, and Charlotte’s Web at Wheelock Family Theatre.  “Right now, I am planning a five-day trip to the Berkshires in July which will include performances at Tanglewood, Williamstown Theatre, and Jacob’s Pillow as well as art museums and, of course, good eating at area restaurants.”

Martha certainly samples it all!

 

 

 

 

 

WOMEN WARRIORS by Liz David

WOMEN WARRIORS

by Liz David

The soil of the feminine soul runs rich and deep,

Watered by undercurrents invisible to those dwelling only on the surface,

Women who face the challenge of the softening of their soul soil,

Who allow themselves to become vulnerable,

Who invite the surface streams down into their depths,

Who expose their roots to the fructifying moisture from above              and below.

They are the warriors of today – the catalysts of transformation.

They risk death of psyche, body, and soul

in order to experience fully the transforming powers present

in the domains of their deepest fears.

They emerge as does the phoenix —

Motivated, activated, determined to find the courage to create their lives,

To choose to live as individuals committed to self-awareness,

Self-centered women, centered in themselves,

Committed to voicing and acting upon their ideals in the world–

A world that does not ask for change, to be turned inside out,

A world that silently and loudly cries for nurturance, for                              sustenance,

A world that cries for those beings with the strength of heart                 and the will

to carry out the tasks of transformation.

They are the Women Warriors.

APRIL TECH TALK with John Rudy: Screen Sharing?

SHOULD I LET YOU LOG ONTO MY COMPUTER?

The simple answer is NO, but, as usual, nothing is simple. There are three circumstances I can think of (and there are probably more) when this should be fine and actually even beneficial.

  1. I have a yearly contract with The Geek Squad, an organization that is part of Best Buy, for support of my computer. For a reasonable rate, they will support up to 3 computers for me and take as many calls as necessary. Sometimes a call to them is sufficient to get an answer to your question, but at other times, you might have a complex question that requires someone to log onto your machine in order to fix it. Of course, you can take the computer to a store, but it is more convenient when, given permission, they can log in to fix whatever ails the machine. I have received similar service from Comcast.
  2. Occasionally, you might call a friend and ask how to do something, like work on a Word document. They say that they’ll be over next week. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to collaborate in real time?
  3. You want to share something, maybe pictures, with someone, and the file is too large to easily send. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could just see them on your machine? There are a number of software products that accomplish this. You can check with the Geek Squad and Comcast or your own service provider to see what they deem to be safe.

Here is an article on a variety of tools. http://www.online-tech-tips.com/cool-websites/5-free-remote-desktopsharing-and-screen-sharing-solutions/  that you can choose from when looking for options like this.

I use Teamviewer (the current is version 12) because it was recommended to me a couple of years ago, and I find it easy to use. It is free and available at https://www.teamviewer.com/en/download/windows /

When using Teamviewer, you provide a code to the person to whom you are allowing access and then either they or you can move the cursor on your screen. At the end of the session, they log out and cannot get in again until a future session is initiated by you.  So it is safe. They have full documentation available on their site.

Having said all this, be very selective about allowing others onto your machine. They would then have access to material that you might rather keep private.

TECH TALK Feature Writer John Rudy

A long-time computer expert and guide,  John provides his helpful hints in this monthly BOLLI Matters feature.  In the comment box below, provide questions or comments for John on any computer/tech topic .

john.rudy@alum.mit.edu (781-861-0402)