Category Archives: BOLLI Members

BOLLI Members

Get to know other BOLLI members and their interests. Here, we regularly post not only profiles of BOLLI members but also provide a forum for members’ art work and writing!

For a list of members who have been profiled or whose art work and/or writing has been showcased on this portion of the blog, click here.

OUR TURN by Quinn Rosefsky

OUR TURN

by Quinn Rosefsky

Outside, in the dimly lit darkness, in the land of the rising sun, our bodies still heavy with restless sleep, we stood in line, waiting.

Not knowing how quickly the cold night would pass, how thin the mountain air, not yet ready for our turn, we stood in line, complaining.

Inside, the large dining room overflowed with fellow hikers, nodding, sitting on mats, speaking words with no meaning, the lucky ones who’d arrived before us.

Sipping hot tea, murmuring, emptying rice bowls with wooden chopsticks, they took no notice of our shadows hovering, swaying, listening to a distant chorus.

Outside, in a line snaking to the door of the wind-blasted hut, refuge for too many, we wrapped thin blankets around our shoulders.

Why weren’t we the lucky ones sipping tea?

Why wasn’t it our turn?

Ahead in line, an elderly woman wearing white gloves, her lipstick perfectly applied, her jet black hair shining, silhouetted against the darkness, her face a friendly smile, turned towards us.

Touching a graceful finger gently to her lips, speaking the only language we understood, we knew patience would reward us, but when?

Not knowing what she said, still knowing exactly what she said, we sighed and stood in line, waiting.

Was that streak of light a break in the never-ending darkness?

Slowly, the line moved forward towards the light inside where we, too, would sit on mats and sip hot tea, no longer waiting.

Inside at last, the sun, a distant fuzzy orb, blinding in its intensity, freed us from sleep, brought promises of the new day, another ascent into the clouds.

And so, no longer waiting, our turn arrived, our spirits revived, we, too, sipped hot tea, emptied rice bowls, and listened to a distant chorus.

BOLLI  Renaissance Man, Quinn Rosefsky

It is strange to say I used to play the French horn in an orchestra. I used to study Japanese. I used to hike. I once walked across England from St. Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay. I was once a doctor…49 years’ worth of medicine. My children were once young. I tell myself to get on with it. Leave it behind. Now I paint with watercolors. Now I have given either nine or ten courses at BOLLI (and will do two more this fall.)  Now I bag ten thousand-year-old lithics as a volunteer in an archaeology museum. Sometimes I write. Last year, I wrote and illustrated four short books for my now seven-year-old granddaughter who wants me to write something new, something about chopping the Evil Virus that plagues us into tiny pieces that will never come back to hurt anyone ever again. Yes! I have left “I used to” behind and think more about what I am “going to do.”

COFFEE BREAK by Quinn Rosefsky

COFFEE BREAK

By Quinn Rosefsky

 In late August of 1939, just prior to Germany’s invasion of Poland, President Franklin D. Roosevelt received a letter written by Leo Szilard but signed yours very truly, Albert Einstein. In the letter, the two scientists explained to the President what they knew of Germany’s experiments with uranium and expressed their genuine concern that the Germans were working feverishly to develop the splitting of the atom, an atomic bomb. With a letter signed by Einstein, the two men hoped to influence Roosevelt to respond to the German threat. Listening as economist Alex Sax read the letter, trying to grasp the significance of so much nuclear science jargon, Roosevelt famously said: “Alex, what you are after is to see that the Nazis don’t blow us up.”

While no longer active in earthly affairs, Roosevelt, Szilard and Einstein have not entirely disappeared. Even in the afterlife, Einstein, devastated that the bomb had been detonated against civilians, still regrets signing the letter. What would have happened if he had kept silent?

One recent bright, sunny morning, Einstein and Szilard met at a Starbucks not far from Harvard Square. (Coffee is as popular in the afterlife as it is here on Earth.)  Roosevelt was busy with his stamp collection and had stayed at home.

Dressed casually, minding their own business, Einstein and Szilard fit in with the young crowd too absorbed with their laptops and crossword puzzles to notice two old men sitting in the corner.

“If you ver ez dedicated to chumanity ez I cheard you claim ven you chad your interview to get in, vy zeh chell ver you zo shrewd viz me zat day, gettink me to zign a letter vich put zeh vorld on zeh path to damnation?” Einstein asked. “Perhaps you left out somethink?”

“I meant what I said, but how was I to know? It’s not my fault what Truman chose to do, mister sophisticated smarty-pants.” Szilard replied, somewhat hurt. “Besides, Truman isn’t here to defend himself. He didn’t pass the entrance exam.”

“If I chad known vat vaz goink to chappen, zeh only vay you could get me to zign vud chaf been to chypnotize me. I vaz alvayz too shmart to let anyone do zat! Oyy, I’ve got such a cheadache.”

“Sounds like Freud could help you, but he didn’t make it, you know. Still, I hear he keeps busy.”

“Nu? Und I’ve regretted it ever zince. Mankind chaz never been zeh same. Now look at zem, liffing in zeh now, zeh future, zeh past, dreamers, all of zem. See zat man over zer with chiz little computer gizmo, zeh one viz zeh double latte?”

“Yeah, what’s so special about him?”

“Che’z been looking up information from zeh ether about zat letter of yourz, zeh one you wrote zat I signed ‘yourz very truly.’ Efen here, zer’s no place to chide.”

“I know.”

“Zer’s been almost ez much written about zeh atomic bomb ez zer chaz been about Mark Twain und zeh Civil Var. Personally, I prefer Mark Twain.”

“I’ll invite Mark out for coffee the next time.”

“Okay, but I never undershtood hiz zense of chumor. I’m goink to chaf to teach chim Yiddish.”

“What about Franklin?”

“Che von’t come. Zey don’t allow you to zmoke in public places anymore.”

Quinn Rosefsky, BOLLI member, SGL, writer, artist…and more

It is strange to say I used to play the French horn in an orchestra. I used to study Japanese. I used to hike. I once walked across England from St. Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay. I was once a doctor…49 years’ worth of medicine. My children were once young. I tell myself to get on with it. Leave it behind. Now I paint with watercolors. Now I have given either nine or ten courses at BOLLI (and will do two more this fall.)  Now I bag ten thousand-year-old lithics as a volunteer in an archaeology museum. Sometimes I write. Last year, I wrote and illustrated four short books for my now seven-year-old granddaughter who wants me to write something new, something about chopping the Evil Virus that plagues us into tiny pieces that will never come back to hurt anyone ever again. Yes! I have left “I used to” behind and think more about what I am “going to do.”

THE PROPOSAL by Quinn Rosefsky

THE PROPOSAL

By Quinn Rosefsky

            When he asked her why, she thought for a moment and said that there really was no one else in the whole world with whom she could be so open. She spoke with an accent, most likely Eastern European. In her thirties, attractive, with hazel eyes, and fine features, she wore rumpled blue jeans, a man’s partially buttoned shirt, not tucked in, and had carelessly tied her dark hair in a bun. A faint lilac fragrance moved with her as she paced from one washer to the next, peering briefly into the glass front of each one as if expecting to find a forgotten treasure, a hidden message. Kanyeshna, she said–more than once. She looked at him again, straightened the loose hairs in her bun, then sighed, and continued pacing.

A few minutes earlier, unshaven, his light brown hair unkempt, he had put on loafers, khaki shorts, and a Red Sox T-shirt, determined finally, after so many excuses he’d made to himself, to get his laundry done. His old girlfriend had done it for him before she left for good, and now, she had been gone for a month.  Hugging the large bundle, he had walked the two blocks from his studio apartment, past the pharmacy, the ice cream parlor, the barber shop, and the pawn shop until he reached the 24-hour laundromat. Except for the laundromat, the shops were closed, empty, the streets jammed with cars belonging to locals. Not a single jogger. No one walking a dog. He hadn’t really expected to meet anyone, not this early, not on a Sunday.

The two were the only ones doing their laundry. He checked his change. He needed a few more quarters to put in the washing machine and asked the woman if she had change for a dollar. She looked at him as if not quite understanding what he wanted, then asked him to marry her.  Perhaps “Why” wasn’t the right question to have asked.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

Shto za vapros!” she replied. “What question is that?”

“Well, we’ve never met. I asked if you could make change for a dollar, and you asked me to marry you.”

“Oh, did I? I get words mixed up. I am telling you I travel a lot ,and I pick up many words. I look in book for phrases to explain. I am having used one of those phrases with you. There are so many. I am being so confused. I am wishing to ask you if you can help me. I am having difficulty with these washing machines. I worry I am not used to the way these machines work.”

She smiled broadly, tilted her head, and looked at him as if she were inspecting a used car.

“You mean you’re not from around here?”

“Of course not, you silly man.”

“Do you have a boyfriend?”

“How you mean by that?”

 

 

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).

 

BELATED VETERANS DAY REMEMBRANCE: EULOGY

EULOGY

By Karen E. Wagner

I’ve seen people

fight wars,

die too young,

die in pain,

and worse,

live too long

while memories sustain

failed bodies.

 

My battles have been

fiercely fought

with blows hand-to-hand,

more to come,

in these few years ahead.

 

I read of heroes,

mold my life in kind,

think none match too closely,

pick highlights

to mimic.

Tend to scars

as battle wounds,

regard retreat

as survival,

bury the young

and pieces

of my soul with them

until I’ve given

it all away.

 

I think back

to what damaged

my faith

in man,

like a soldier shot

in battle, pushed again

to the front line,

with only a leg wound.

I remember briefly

those who expired,

collect

their shattered souls

before time

turns

them to compost.

 

I heave my burden

over life’s hurdles

reach the many shrines

to the fallen,

return

the shards of souls

to their proper remains.

When I finish my task my days

will be over,

I’ll leave my scar-ridden,

soulless body

beside the headstones

of heroes.

 

CREATIVE NONFICTION FROM ELAINE PITOCHELLI: HUMOR & PATHOS

HUMOR & PATHOS: ROBIN WILLIAMS REMEMBERED

By Elaine Pitochelli

The year was 1978. Jimmy Carter was President of the United States. The first test tube baby was born. Cult leader Jim Jones told nine hundred members of his church to commit suicide. Girls were playing with Barbie Dolls and Easy Bake Ovens. Boys were playing with the Simon game and hot wheels.

And in his comedic persona of Mork from Ork, Robin Williams exploded on the scene.

In our household, television viewing was reserved for a couple of evening family shows, during which we let Williams, that comic genius, into our home and our lives. He first appeared on the show, Happy Days, and then sequed into the memorable Mork and Mindy.

I enjoyed the show very much, but Williams’ persona puzzled me. This enigmatic soul of comedy poked at my inner places. I needed to look deeper at him.  I felt the need to study him. How could he keep up this crazy, oddball act? How could he keep up this raving wildness?  I worried about him, which seemed odd to me. For God’s sake. I didn’t know the man personally.

Yet, on some essential level, I did know him.  His depression, his mania, his genius was there for anyone to see—anyone, that is, who dared to, anyone who had lived with the same proclivities. I can’t let him go without a tribute to his gifts.

Mork is gone, and so is the planet Ork.  So are Peter Pan and Hook.
Gone are the Happy Feet that rocked and zoomed across the frozen tundra.
Gone is The Fisher King whose craziness bore pins into our eyes and icy shards thick from the frozen wasteland into our hearts.
Gone is Mrs. Doubtfire who absorbed a child’s tears in her vast bosom.                                                                                                                             Gone is the booming voice that awakened Vietnam and promised relief from travails.                                                                                                    Gone is Patch Adams restoring rosy cheeks to ashen children whose souls would soon be winging their way to heaven.
Gone is Jacob the Liar who gave solace, grace, and laughter to a tiny girl destined for the Nazi ovens.
Gone are those eyes of bottomless sadness, the depth of the deepest desert sands.

What’s left is a man whose own soul cried while he gave sustenance to millions with insane laughter and fathomless tears.
What’s left are our memories and yearnings to restore to his heart and soul that which he gave to ours.
What’s left is the knowledge that his pain couldn’t be healed.
What’s left is his profound imagination and creativity, someone who brought his emotions to soaring heights and allowed us unbridled laughter and play in Humor and Pathos.

BOLLI member and writer Elaine Pitochelli

 

Elaine considers reading her passion and inspiration. Writing is her muse, the creative influence in her Being.  Her family is her All.

 

 

 

 

A LIGHT-HEARTED MOMENT FROM LARRY SCHWIRIAN: GREENBACK, PA

GREENBACK, PA

by Larry Schwirian

Due to the number and steepness of hills and mountains in Pennsylvania, it probably has more small towns and villages than any other state in the nation.   It probably also has more places with idiosyncratic names than anywhere else in the western hemisphere. Lancaster County alone has the towns of Intercourse, Paradise, Fertility, Blue Ball, Mount Joy, Bird-in-Hand, and Climax.  Many of these towns utilize their names to attract tourists, and local businesses do a booming business selling postcards and other paraphernalia. But this is only a small sampling of the numerous other strange place names one can find in the Keystone State. You can also send postcards from Egypt, Holland, Mexico, Scotland, and East Berlin, or you can stop for lunch in Mars or Moon. You can even go to college in California or Indiana without leaving Pennsylvania. I’m not sure just what you can do in the towns of Balls Mills, Bath Addition, Log Pile, Two Lick, or Lickdale, but I’m relatively certain the residents of Shickshiny, Smock, and Moosic have a decent sense of humor. If you want to live a laid-back lifestyle, you might want to relocate to Friendsville, Live Easy, Library, or Economy; and if you are particularly patriotic, you might move to Liberty PA.  I don’t know why anyone would want to live on Squirrel Hill or in Seldom-Seen, and one can only hope the towns of Virginville, Stalker, and Panic aren’t located in close proximity.

It was because of this rich imagery of place names that a not-so-young, affluent real estate developer of Scottish and German descent decided to buy a large tract of land in the Pocono Mountain region of Pennsylvania.  His name was Dewey Stump, and he intended to develop a new town that would be unlike anything ever previously attempted.  His conception would be totally unlike Levittown, New Jersey or Columbia, Maryland.  He wanted to build a town that would be a model for the future of America, a town that would be exclusively for the very rich and the super-rich. Conceptually, the town’s north and south sides would be divided by the town’s main street, Stump Boulevard, running east/west and  aligned with the World Trade Center on Wall Street. The north side would be for old-money people and the south side for new-money people. There would be a large traffic circle in the middle of town with a two-story high bronze statue of himself, the founder of “fake news” and the Twitter King of North America. Each side of town would be further sub-divided by a red section and a blue section signifying whether it was ideal for conservatives or progressives… the color of street signs would change from red to blue or vice versa depending upon the current state of political realities. Major arteries on the north side would be named after robber- barons of old and, on the south side,  after more recently affluent billionaires. Secondary streets would be named after well-known millionaire celebrities. There would at least be one golf course in each quadrant, but only residents of that quadrant could use that course.  Finally, the town, to be called Greenback, was to have a nine-digit zip code consisting only of ones and zeros, with no dash between the first five and last four numbers. This was to signify the minimal net worth of anyone wishing to reside in the town.

As this was all just in Dewey’s head, he needed to consult with both an architect/planning firm and a marketing firm to begin to bring his wonderful vision to fruition. The architectural firm advised that his two-dimensional, rather flat conception of a site plan wasn’t practical in the mountains of Pennsylvania. The marketing firm advised that true conservatives wouldn’t want to live anywhere near true progressives and vice versa.  The firm said, too,  that old-money generally had nothing but disdain for new-money, and new-money could care less about old-money.  They also thought the site was too remote from most urban amenities like five-star restaurants, theaters, and international airports. The post office also indicated that they couldn’t assign him the nine-digit zip code he wanted.

Dewey decided to charge ahead anyway, because, in his gut, he knew it would work. He borrowed heavily from a number of foreign banks, thinking he could easily sell the first hundred plots while construction was underway.  But multi-millionaires and billionaires were stupefied by the concept and stayed away.  He had to trash his brilliant idea and finally had to sell the land at a bargain basement price, causing him to file for bankruptcy.  He lost his golf pants on the deal but managed to hold on to his “Make America Great Again” baseball cap.  He never did pay either the architectural firm or the marketing firm, claiming that they didn’t give him the advice he wanted.

BOLLI Matters contributor and Writers Guild leader 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.  

 

LINES FROM LYDIA: CANCER AWARENESS MONTH

   CANCER AWARENESS MONTH

by Lydia Bogar

Here at BOLLI,  one thing that unites us even more than our age, unfortunately, is cancer.  I would bet the farm that everyone currently reading this has been touched directly by cancer.

My father died fifty-eight years ago of stomach and colon cancer. As a long time smoker, there were probably malignancies in his lungs as well. All three of my boy cousins have had gastrointestinal polyps surgically removed. As the only girl cousin, I had my first colonoscopy at age 50. Free and clear to date.

Being proactive is the only way to chase the fear away. Limit bad chemicals in your life: don’t use pesticides, filter your tap water, use organic cleaning products whenever possible, and don’t tuck your cell phone into your bra.

My best friend Betty died seven years ago. She had a lump behind her knee that she shrugged off for almost a year. The diagnosis of bone cancer was a true shock. Within a month, she lost most of her left leg. Within six months, she lost her life.

Fifteen minutes of sun exposure, especially in the morning, is the best way to increase the body’s production of Vitamin D.

Within four months of her second melanoma diagnosis, my daughter Joanne was in clinical trials at Dana Farber. It was too late for her, and the treatments made her viciously sick. She had worshipped the sun but slathered sunscreen on her little boys. Metastatic melanoma will take over your brain and kill your personality. Then it kills you.

Walking and exercise is good for overall health, and walking with a friend is even better. Two years ago, I admitted to being old enough to go to exercise at the Senior Center. Yoga is much easier now, and the new friends are great too! Breathing and meditation are easy remedies for insomnia.

My friend Sally retired to a golf course in South Carolina. Last year, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. As a retired surgical nurse, she knows the questions to ask as well as the treatments that she will and won’t have. Surgery and radiation were sufficient, for now.  Her youngest daughter is having radiation for a rare carcinoma. I pray for them both every day.

Being aware of signs, symptoms, and signals is not enough. Fighting this enemy helps families and survivors in a hundred different ways.

This summer will be my fourth cycle of volunteering at the Pan Mass Challenge, the largest and longest running charity bike ride in the country. I help to register riders on Friday afternoon and bag trash at Mass Maritime on Saturday afternoon. On the way home, both days, I cry tears of fulfillment.

Cultivating happiness is not easy.

It is necessary.

BOLLI Co-Editor and Feature Writer, Lydia Bogar

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.”

WHAT’S YOUR STORY? GOLF, OF COURSE

A recent Writers Guild prompt brought this bit of memoir from Steve Goldfinger–for the inveterate duffers in out midst.

Breaking the Ice:  Aye, There’s the Rib!

by Steve Goldfinger

After my early days of hacking around scrubby Dyker Beach, Brooklyn’s only public golf course, I found myself playing The Country Club in Brookline from time to time. Yes THE Country Club, sanctuary of Boston Brahmans plus a handful of their chosen. Its name said it all.

My friend Tom, a fellow academic and ardent golfer, was one of their chosen. A few times a year, he would ask me to join him for 18 holes at this preserve available to but three hundred or so, a far cry from Dyker Beach’s availability to three million.

This time, it was for only nine holes. It was mid-January and the temperature had warmed up to 35 degrees, toasty enough for golf freaks who hadn’t teed up a ball for two months. The Country Club contained an extra nine holes that were kept open year round for such freaks.

Tom brought along his son Jeff, now 15, who was getting interested in the game. I had played with Jeff before, liked him, and was glad he was with us.

The air was brisk and the round uneventful, until we reached the seventh hole. Jeff’s drive put him about 150 yards from the green. I saw him pull a 4 iron out of his bag for his second shot.

“Use 6 iron,” I said. “You’ve grown a lot, and a 4 iron is much too much club.”

But 15 year-olds often have minds of their own.  He stuck with the 4 iron, hit it cleanly, and watched it soar well over the green.

“Now, drop another ball,” I said, “and try a 6 iron.”

He did and hit the ball the perfect distance….but it veered off to the left and rolled onto a frozen pond. When we arrived at the pond’s edge, we saw the ball sitting there, ten feet away. Just sitting atop the glistening ice, waiting to be fetched.  And feeling guilty that it was I who had consigned this $1.25 ball to such a fate, it was I who decided that I should be the fetcher.

I had gone two steps onto the ice when the inevitable crack came, and I crashed, sideways.   I managed to stand up, the water above my waist.  So cold I couldn’t utter a word.  Tom and Jeff ran over to fish me out by extending an 8 iron for me to pull on.  I noticed bleeding from my wrist where it had been scraped by ice as I fell through. Even then, I could barely say a word.

I was the shivering wretch of the three, though, insisting we go to the next tee to complete the round. I had just read The Right Stuff, and this was going to be my John Glenn moment. Tom and Jeff were still laughing as I teed up my ball.  Then, when I tried to swing my driver, I was nearly felled by a horrifically painful crunch in my left rib cage. The technical name is crepitus, and it denoted a rib fracture. I tried to swing again but could use only my wrists to wave at the ball.

They escorted me back to the club house, bleeding wrist, broken rib, freezing torso, numb legs, sunken spirit.

I later asked Tom to petition the club’s Governing Council to post a sign alongside the pond on the seventh hole, to read:  “Here Goldfinger couldn’t walk on water.”

BOLLI Matters contributing writer Steve Goldfinger

Since joining BOLLI about two years ago, Steve has been writing.  He’s taken  memoir courses with Marjorie Roemer and worked on fiction with Betsy Campbell.  In addition, he’s stretched his creative muscles into the world of acting as an intrepid CAST player.

INNER VISIONS: FROM BEVERLY BERNSON’S COLLECTION OF “OUTSIDER ART”

INNER VISIONS: SELECTIONS FROM THE COLLECTION OF BEVERLY STEARNS BERSON
Davidow Gallery at  Colby-Sawyer College
New London, NH
October 13 – December 10
Are you an art enthusiast looking for a good day trip?  Try heading for New London, NH to see “Inner Visions.”
The new Bill and Sonja Carlson Davidow ’56 Art Gallery at Colby-Sawyer College features  its  inaugural exhibition: Inner Visions: Selections from the Collection of Beverly Stearns Bernson ’55. This is a wonderful collection of Outsider Art featuring paintings, drawings and sculpture from every major figure in this special genre. The exhibition will run until December 10 and will be open from 9-5 during the week and from 12-5 Saturday and Sunday except during school holidays.   Help celebrate the college’s stunning new building and gallery by taking a trip to see this exhibition featuring works from BOLLI member Beverly’s extensive collection!
For more information, click here to access the exhibition’s website: http://colby-sawyer.edu/stories/inner-visions.