Category Archives: LINES FROM LYDIA

LINES FROM LYDIA: PASSPORT

PASSPORT

Daddy’s Painting

by Lydia Bogar

Bubbles of grey and white float over a dozen shades of blue. Beneath this layer of air and temperature is a shabby fishing cabin, abandoned on the shore of a lake and more shades of blue surrounded by a pine forest.

The lake here is deep, born and fed hundreds of years ago by a natural spring.

The weathered dock is grey as expected in this northern part of North America. Wind and snow have raised an army of slivers in the planks. There is no one to walk upon them.

The cabin’s windows no longer keep the rain at bay. The only occupants of the cabin are racoons and their pungent cousins the skunks whose odor is welcomed by the “kits.”  Mother is not far away.  The old, battered and rusted stovepipe, like the cabin itself, is cold and damp, no longer warm or dry.

Once the ice along the shore has melted, spring can come quickly and yet recede again as the fickle weather is known to do in these parts.

Shards of ice still dance on the ripples to the west, cuddled by the tallest hemlocks. The ice will stretch its limbs as the sun sets.

Peepers on the shoreline stand at attention, watching for…something.

Dirty and crusty snow packed on the rocks keeps the snakes covered, waiting perhaps for the return of crickets. The rocks will be covered with lichen and moss before the return of the full moon.

Tadpoles will layer themselves under fallen oak leaves.

The sweet smells of the coming season will waft before the forsythia and laurel even consider their rebirth.

Birds trill from deep in the thorny scrub.

The swamp to the north might house nesting ducks or loons, and perhaps in warmer weather, turtles or snakes, and most definitely frogs.

I’ve not been to this lake or seen this cabin. I am not sure that either are real. How strange that none of the colors have faded. Not the blues, the greys, the browns, not the dancing clouds above my head.

It is my father’s unfinished painting, simple canvas stapled to a frame with ragged edges. No title, name, or date.  A passport into the last month of his life.

BOLLI Matters 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.”

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.”

LINES FROM LYDIA: WALKIN’ IN SUNSHINE

WALKIN’ IN SUNSHINE

by Lydia Bogar

“When leaving Manhattan, be sure to walk along the right lane of the bridge.  Be sure to stay to the right at all times.”

The Brooklyn Bridge.

Star of the silver screen since the turn of the last century and the little screen at the hand of Dick Wolf since 1990.

Sunscreen.

Hat.

Camera.

Quick stop at the port-a-potties near the Ben Franklin statute at the corner of Spruce Street and Park Row. A moment to gaze at the neo-Gothic splendor of the Woolworth Building, over a hundred years old and still standing, just as the architects intended.

Some members of the tour are buying pretzels and lemon ices, as if there will not be food and drink on the other side of the East River.

Rick, our guide, answers questions at each photo stop where we focus on taking pictures – no video or audio allowed. We do have to be mindful of the hundreds of others who chose this perfect day in May to ramble across this historic overpass. There are little dips in the walkway, puddles near the Manhattan side, and distractions at every breath.  The number of bikers increases as the sun rises high in the sky.

Watermelon!  They are pricey chunks, but so tasty as we watch tugs and tour boats from where we stand in the shadow of the Bridge’s central tower.

We take in the solitary beauty of One World Trade Center.

The magnificence of Lady Liberty in the distance.

A dozen different languages, children and grandparents, strollers and wheelchairs.

Footwear and hats of every style and color.

The very best people watching.

The tour ends at the Brooklyn Heights Promenade at the beginning of Montague Street.  You might not be able to find it on a map, but you’ve seen it in every iteration of Law and Order.

The restaurants and little shops embracing Montague Street all the way to Brooklyn Borough Hall have also been seen in cop shows and films.

Bagels, hand dipped chocolates, cafes, silversmiths, bookstores, and an Oz-like venue called Insomnia Cookies – don’t go there. You have been warned.

Rick leads us another block to the famous front stoops of the living and the dead–Truman Capote, Arthur Miller, Thomas Wolfe, and Hart Crane.

The group disperses.  We gravitate to Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar and are not disappointed. The braised beef tacos are over the moon, and the margueritas are perfection.  The great advantage to a bus tour is being able to enjoy a really good drink or two before the long ride home.

Someday, we will walk the Bridge again and visit the celebrated Brooklyn Historical Society. It is an honor to have this picture of the past.

This day has compelled me to read The Great Bridge, a tome written by David McCullough. Your wrists will ache if you read this wonderful history book in bed.

It is worth every wince.

BOLLI 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 Woosta– educated at BOLLI.”

MARCH LINES FROM LYDIA: TALKING TO DANNY

TALKING TO DANNY

by Lydia Bogar

CRASH – blue truck meets red car

Oh, shit.

Are you okay?

I think so.

I was at the top of the hill.  I saw him hit you.

Son of a bitch.

Sit in the cruiser.

No, I’m good.

Son of a bitch.  Didn’t he see me?

Do you need EMS?

No, I’m good.

He’s not hurt, and, no, it doesn’t seem that he’s been drinking. His pizza landed on the floor.

Son of a bitch.

The tire mounted on the front of his truck saved you from a big hurt.

Here’s Worcester PD.

Sit in my …

I wish this damn phone took pictures.

Worcester will write him up and maybe take pictures.

Who are you calling …

I can’t be the reporting officer because I witnessed the accident.

He knocked me across three lanes of … how did he not hit anyone else?

You were lucky. This could’ve gone south in a dozen different ways. I can take you home as soon as the wrecker hooks up your car. Get your papers and stuff out of the …

He could have pushed me into that ditch. Damn!

Let’s get you home.

Thanks…

My friend State Trooper Daniel Duffy, USMC (Ret) died on March 25, 1993, seven years and one day after this accident.

BOLLI Matters 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 Woosta– educated at BOLLI.”

LINES FROM LYDIA: THE OFFICE FRIDGE

THE OFFICE FRIDGE

by Lydia Bogar

During my third year in the State Fire Marshal’s Office, we moved into a new, super-efficient LEED green building. The HVAC system required constant care by a team of facilities managers and Haz Mat techs who broke into a cold sweat anytime there was a drastic weather change.  If a July day reached over one hundred degrees, the pumps crashed. If there had been an ice storm, space heaters would be brought in for the corridors and the receptionist in the main lobby.  A $43 million building.

They couldn’t regulate the temperature, but they gave us a fabulous break room. There was shelving for paper and other supplies, a copier that could scan documents into a fax or over to your desktop, and a stainless steel, 26 cubic foot Whirlpool refrigerator with an ice making freezer on top.  It was a beautiful thing to behold—especially after twelve years of having my Charleston Chews kidnapped from an only semi-cold little box fridge.

During the summer, the freezer held popsicles and ice cream.

There were birthday cakes during every season.

There were also cartons of milk and cream for those who didn’t have the grit to drink their coffee black.

There was a package of coffee beans that Dave brought back from a trip to Jamaica.

There were tomatoes and wax beans from Jake’s garden. The tomatoes vanished quickly; not so much the beans.

We had a middle shelf for “community food” that anyone could eat, but never on a Monday. That’s where the leftovers lived from our Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras potluck lunch in 2012, the leftovers that weren’t finished until Thursday because most of us were Catholic.  We could all swear like sailors, but we observed Ash Wednesday because our grandmothers were watching us from heaven.

The containers on the lower shelf were labeled with names and an occasional Haz Mat sticker.  First responders have some funky ideas about food–high carb, high fat, and as much sodium as a diner on the on the Jersey Pike at midnight.  Cold pizza is better than hot pizza, and any sandwich is considered edible until it turns green.

The vegetable bins at the bottom usually held Halloween candy, until they were cleaned out around Memorial Day, usually by me.

This retired Girl Scout Cookie Mother had reached her ultimate calling:  Office Mom.

BOLLI 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 Woosta– educated at BOLLI.”

OCTOBER LINES FROM LYDIA: A Memorable Dinner Date

A Totally Un-Memorable Dinner Date

by Lydia Bogar

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.

Frequent BOLLI blogger, 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.”

 

SEPTEMBER LINES FROM LYDIA: I REALLY HATE THAT

I REALLY HATE THAT

by Lydia Bogar

“Leaves of three, let it be.”

It loves the sun and is common by the roadside, spiraling up trees and across trellis grids. Poison ivy, the cousin of oak and sumac, targets my skin from across the yard. After several summers of painful blistering and oozing rashes that travel from the webs of two fingers and spread across my arms, the backs of my hands, and once to my neck, I hire people to do my spring cleanup. A rite of passage, smelling mulch and stretching muscles toned by a snow shovel; those first exquisite days of warm breezes and pink sunsets. Packing tools into the wheelbarrow and unloading bags of mulch and lime from the trunk is as far as my solstice ritual goes. I have become an observer, and I really hate that.

I am not old, but I am fragile. I really hate that.

Even with a strict regimen of double gloves and washing, using Lysol wipes on my hands and arms, the little pink bubbles will greet me the next morning. If I have rubbed at it during the night, it has marched across my forehead or onto a knee. Frequently, the rash appears like a straight line, as my arm has brushed against a leaf, or a squirrel has carried the urushiol into the mulch pile. My skin swells and burns. Wearing my old white church gloves to sleep at night doesn’t help. Somehow, I do manage to keep the plague from my mouth and ears, and other unnamed places.

Medical websites preach that the blister fluid doesn’t spread the rash, but I am not a believer. My forearms are battle scars, stopped only in mid-march by a quick visit to my doctor and five days of steroids. The gels and creams provide only minimal relief.

My dermatologist at Dana Farber exams the remains of this plague. In combination with my family propensity for skin cancers, she writes two scripts that will stop or at least mitigate any cancerous growths. Long sleeves and a higher SPF will help; a second battle that I will wage for the remainder of my days.  And I really hate that.

After several summer battles for which I bear discolorations, a landscaper tells me that I am fighting the wrong plant. I have been overrun with Virginia Creeper with five distinctive leaves. My doctor makes the entry in my electronic medical records as I await a deep freeze that will kill the beautiful red vines climbing the hemlock outside my bathroom window.

“Leaves of five, which I must survive.”

BOLLI Matters feature writer and co-chair of Writers Guild 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.”

NOVEMBER LINES FROM LYDIA: MY JUNK DRAWERS

MY JUNK DRAWERS

by Lydia Bogar

The junk drawer in my kitchen holds the tools that are not down cellar in my pink tool bag. Screwdrivers, both flat and Philips, a blue hammer, green florist tape, black electrical tape, twist ties, elastic bands. And then there are the Band-Aids, the razor blades, the box of matches from the Goat Island Grill in Georgetown SC, night light, broken night light, stapler, 3 boxes of staples, scissors, my Stanley tape measure and a carpenter’s pencil, a souvenir from my 2015 kitchen reno.

The junk drawer next to my bed holds pens and pencils, Sudoku puzzles, an extra pair of glasses, Chapstick, bookmarks, small pads of paper, more Band-Aids, Mass cards, hand cream, mechanical pencil refills, flashlight, 2015 Ellis Island Membership card, TV remote, Halls’ Lozenges, face cream, paperclips, and a miniature map of the Manhattan subway system.

What do these drawers have to say?  That I’m a little OCD and that there’s an obvious difference between the private drawer in my room and the larger, public drawer in my kitchen. Strange and personal, but under control.  After all, these contents are not on my bureau, kitchen counter, or the floor.

I think of my friend Theresa whose life resembles a junk drawer, one that she cannot unpack without professional support. So many trials.  So much self-destruction.  Not in the same ballpark as the items in my drawers that I call junk.

I have now consolidated the boxes of staples—some have been reunited with the staple gun while others have joined the stapler in my desk.  The loose razor blades are back in the box. The twist ties and broken night light have been tossed.  And the tape measure is back in the car, where I was compelled to purge the glove box and the console compartment.

I am thankful for my junk spaces–that I can unpack at will.

BOLLI Matters feature writer and co-chair of Writers Guild, 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.”

 

AUGUST LINES FROM LYDIA: MY FIRST SGL

MY FIRST SGL

by Lydia Bogar

Liz David was my first SGL at BOLLI.  Her warm words and easy smile welcomed me, an outsider, from west of 495.

Having studied many different cultures, Liz had worked in hospice for years and written extensively on the different stages of life. She taught us about digging deep and not being afraid to embrace words of wisdom from Rabbi Kushner, Oliver Sacks, and Dr. Seuss as we age.

“As your study group leader. I see us as partners and will take my lead from you as we get to know each other …”

I take frantic notes as many of these references are beyond the front burner in my brain. She openly discusses her physical activity including running, walking, and workouts with a trainer. I strain to hear every single word when she tells us her age.  Really? OMG, you look marvelous.

“What does the sentence ‘home is where the love is’ mean to you?”

Liz has embraced Native American culture in her reading, writing, and lifestyle.  A magnificent rug showing the cycles of life rests on the floor of her second-floor home office.  Made for her 30 years ago, it features the phases of the moon, the owl, the eagle, and a woman.

To be invited into this place of refuge and strength silences me. And then there are the owls–hundreds, maybe more; many have even been sent home with friends and visitors.  Her generosity goes beyond her teachings and her smile.  She may be the most approachable teacher I have ever had.

“Have you ever felt that you were in a state of grace?”

Having raised five children in this large colonial deep in the woods of Sudbury, Liz and her husband Barry now enjoy the serenity of their flowers, trees, birdsong, and chimes. During lunch on their screened porch, we talked about BOLLI, particularly the evolution of classes and community in the ten plus years of the couple’s membership.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Liz has taught the art of legacy letters to friends and neighbors in her different communities, including BOLLI. Her approach is clear-eyed and joyful, a perspective that I am not ready to attempt during that first semester, from which the quotes above are taken. She tells us all that times change, and we change, that there is time to write and revise legacy letters.

“What about taking the measure of oneself? Fulfilled dreams/shattered dreams.”

I have learned so much in classes with Liz.  And now, as someone she calls a friend, I am learning even more.

Co-Editor and frequent BOLLI Matters blogger 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.”

LINES FROM LYDIA: IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN…

IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN!

By Lydia Bogar

Yes, it’s that time again, BOLLI friends – sunscreen!  Good sunscreen of the right strength prescribed by your doctor. If you have been leaving it off your daily ablutions during the winter months, now is the time to check the dates on the bottles or cans in your bathroom cabinet, car, and purse. You should have one available at all times, especially when traveling with grandkids!

Feel the Burn? That’s Called Skin Cancer.

Yup, the sunshine warming your face as you drive down the Turnpike is full of ultraviolet radiation which causes serious damage to your skin, even if you aren’t blonde. Until a dozen years ago, medical experts did not differentiate between Ultraviolet A and Ultraviolet B, but we now know that UVB is blocked by the glass and windshield in your car and that the persistent UVA is responsible for over 90% of skin cancers in America. “The increase in left-sided skin cancers may be from the UV exposure we get when driving a car. It is likely that the older women in our study were primarily passengers rather than drivers, and therefore did not show a [significant] left-sided predominance,” explained Dr. Butler, of the California Skin Institute in San Mateo.  Over 70% of all melanomas in situ (non-invasive, early detection that have not spread to lymph nodes and other organs) are found on the left side of your face and neck. And yes, there is such a thing as Stage zero Melanoma.

Don’t Let Cancer Get Under Your Skin.

According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 96,500 new melanomas will be diagnosed in 2019, and as many as 7,230 people are expected to die of melanoma this year.

Cancer. It’ll Grow on You.

BOLLI Matters’ 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.”