Join us for a very special lunch time presentation on Thursday, November 21 when members of BOLLI’s fiction and memoir writing classes, Poetry Writing Group, Writers Guild, and others share their work with the BOLLI audience.
In addition to hearing work by some of your favorite BOLLI Matters feature writers and other members, a highlight of this event is sure to be the staged reading of Phil Radoff’s one-act play, Locked In, featuring BOLLI actresses Sandy Clifford and Rachel Seliber.
So, bring your lunch and sit back to enjoy some literary “food for thought!”
Our deadline for submissions passed at the end of September, at which point, we had a record number of pieces, both literary and artistic, from a host of BOLLI’s creative members. Over 200 items from 78 members!
We are both thrilled…and dismayed. Thrilled because of the array of material…but because we can only take, at most, 60 items, we are dismayed because it means that we are not going to be able to include something from everyone in this year’s volume. Instead, we have been hard at work selecting pieces that we believe offer something for everyone!
So, at this point, we have made our initial literary selections but have not yet notified those writers as we need to set up a draft of the volume in order to determine exactly how many pages we can devote to their work. While that drafting is in progress, the group is now working to narrow down the art and photography submissions.
If you submitted literary material to us and have not yet heard from us, that means your work is in that group of selected items. If you submitted art and/or photography, we are making those selections at this time.
We so appreciate your patience as we dig through this veritable treasure trove–and you should hear from us before the end of this calendar year!
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!
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.
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.
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.
Howling laughter from my tweenage daughters–one in the dining room window and the other peeking out from the shutters in the living room, scoping out my date, Tom. “Oh Mom, you’re gonna die!”
My friends Cheryl and Jay said that Tom, an engineer, worked with Jay in Foxboro and lived on “The Lake” in Webster. Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg. (Yeah, that Lake. Even the New York Times has written about it.
Only child. Never married. No kids. Wicked smart. Very shy. Dour expression.
We spoke once on the phone before that Sunday night dinner date but did not get beyond directions to my house and what a nice guy Jay is.
I have no memory of the drive from my house to the dining room at the Marriott in downtown Worcester. Maybe fifteen minutes that I will never get back.
I do remember the table for two but not the conversation. I have no memory of appetizer, entrée, or dessert. Was there wine? Oh God, I hope so.
Quiet ride back to my house. Walked me to the door. I shook his hand with the other hand on the door knob.
The tweens were waiting.
“What? Really, he seems like a nice guy–but boring.”
The howling started again. “Mom, we could have told you that as soon as we saw his pocket protector!”
I didn’t tell them about the second pocket protector (for mechanical pencils) he had clipped to his shirt pocket.
Tom married a few years later, a diminutive Asian lady with a PhD in something. It was a society wedding by Worcester standards because of the family compound of homes on The Lake that he inherited when he turned 50.
Yes. Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg.
Block. Copy. Paste.
Sure, beats having to spell it.
Our own “Renaissance Woman,” Lydia has done everything from teaching English to doing volunteer emergency service. She says she “hails from Woosta– educated at BOLLI.”
At a luncheon earlier today, Margie Arons-Barron was one of nine outstanding broadcasters inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame. On the association’s website, this years’ inductees are described:
“Our class of 2019 represents some of the true treasures of broadcasting,” Hall of Fame President and former WBZ-TV News Director Peter Brown said. “This group of outstanding professionals has been recognized for their enduring commitment and deep dedication to their craft. Their body of work is a testament to their talents and their passions for bringing to their audiences the very best in news, information, and entertainment. They are the leaders who set forth the path that future generations will follow. Let us welcome them as they join more than 150 others who can proudly state they have been inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasters of Fame.”
The long-time former Editorial Director at WCVB-TV, Channel 5, Boston’s ABC affiliate, Marjorie Arons-Barron has been an award-winning journalist for nearly three decades. For 20 years, she produced and often hosted WCVB’s Five on Five, at one time the nation’s longest running, locally produced public affairs discussion program. Prior to working at Channel 5, she was an associate producer of PBS Television’s The Advocates, a national political affairs writer for The Boston Phoenix, a reporter for WGBH-TV’s Ten O’Clock News and political editor of The Newton Times. Arons-Barron has won many 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. She has also been honored by, among others, United Press International, Associated Press, the American Trial Lawyers Association, the Alliance for the Mentally Ill, the Massachusetts Teachers Association, the Massachusetts Broadcasters Association, the Massachusetts National Guard, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the YWCA, and the Big Sisters Association of Greater Boston.
We are so proud to have Margie as a member of the BOLLI community–congratulations, friend!
In the mid 70’s to mid-80’s, when our sons were young, we typically traveled at least twice a year to visit both sets of grandparents–one set in Cleveland and the other set near Pittsburgh. As the drive was nearly six hundred miles, we (mostly Caroline) had to invent things to do along the way so that the three of them wouldn’t do bodily harm to one another or rip the back seat to shreds. We always brought plenty of books and a number of tapes, mostly Muppet songs, as we sped along the interstates of Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. I particularly remember all of us singing along with Kermit the Frog, Why are There So Many Songs about Rainbows? On more than one occasion, usually when we were at least a couple of hundred miles out, Caroline would wonder if she had turned the iron off. After the second or third time, I started packing the iron in the trunk.
When we finally reached my parent’s home after twelve or more hours on the road (there were many pit stops along the way), all three sons would pile out of the car and head for “the drawer of misfit toys” in my mother’s kitchen. The drawer contained bits and pieces of old toys that had long since been lost or abandoned. There was a little ball with jacks, numerous marbles of various sizes and colors, a yoyo, a top, playing cards, toy soldiers, knights on plastic horses, a few Lincoln Logs (but not enough to build anything with), pieces of an erector set, a dart gun, a harmonica, commemorative coins, nuts and bolts, rubber bands, a mouth harp, as well as various and sundry other stuff.
But there were two things that seemed to be favorites. One was a hollow, woven cylindrical shaped object about six inches long and less than a half-inch in diameter with openings at both ends. One son would put his index finger in one end and ask his brother or cousin to put his or her finger in the other end. When he pulled back, the tube would stretch, reducing the diameter and trapping both fingers.
The most intriguing toy, however, was a large horseshoe magnet about five inches long, two inches wide, and about a quarter-inch thick. It had not originally been a toy but must have been removed from some piece of machinery…it was a very strong magnet. There were also two small magnets in the form of black and white terrier dogs. The oldest son would get under the kitchen table with the big magnet while the other two sons would place the two little magnets on the tabletop; wherever the big magnet moved the little dogs would follow. It was pure magic.
Many of these trips took place around the Christmas holiday which meant that there would be a tumultuous unwrapping of gifts on Christmas morning and an overabundance of new toys. But as likely as not, after a couple days, all three sons would be back exploring the “drawer of misfit toys.”
Architect Larry and his fellow architect wife Caroline live in an historic preservation home in Newton and have led 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.
We’ve been hearing a lot about sharks lately, especially as sightings on Cape Cod Bay become more frequent. People in Massachusetts are worrying about it even though hardly anyone is injured or killed by sharks. We would do well to worry about a much more imminent danger.
It has been estimated that 80,000 people died of flu in the US during the 2017-18 season. Many others did not die but were much sicker than they might have been if they had been vaccinated.
According to the CDC, the flu vaccine reduces the odds of getting the flu by about 60%. But, of course, that total varies from year to year and among different groups of people. Still, it’s a significant number. And yet, too few get the flu shot. Click here for more information from the CDC.
For all adult age groups, flu vaccination coverage estimates in the 2017–18 season were at their lowest levels compared with the seven prior flu seasons. For the 2017-18 season, flu vaccination coverage increased with age, from 26.9% among adults 18-49 years to 59.6% among adults ≥65 years.
I got my flu shot on Friday at CVS, and it cost me nothing (Insurance coverage). For seniors (I do not recall the definition of “senior”), they give the higher dosage. I’ve done this every year since the flu shots came out. In my experience, there is no pain, no soreness, no side effects.
I suggest that, this year, all of you do the same.
Our Tech Guru and Creative Chef has been branching out into travel writing and now health advice for us Seniors! Thanks, John–