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PANDEMIC DAYS with Peter Bradley: Walk–Late Winter

Walk—Late Winter

By Peter Bradley

The drizzle has let up. After several days of never getting further from the house than the back yard bird feeders, I decide to take a walk. Not many others are out on this Sunday afternoon. The walkers and runners that fill the sidewalks on sunny days are dissuaded today, I suspect, by the iron sky and temperatures only a bit above freezing.

Walking has always been a form of meditation for me, a way to release the stresses of the world. I go without headphones and usually leave my phone behind. Much of the joy of the walk comes from the pedestrian sights and sounds along these suburban roads or, better, in the paths through the parks and sanctuaries that I’m fortunate to have nearby.

Today, I’m first conscious of the click of pen against notebook in my pocket each time my right foots hits the ground. It’s a syncopated rhythm, slightly off the beat—left, right-click; left, right-click. Then, as I start up the hill toward the high school, I become aware of the sound of my breath, the accelerating beat of my heart.

I turn off the main road to an even quieter neighborhood. At first, all seems silent, but soon I become aware of the many sounds that are there if you listen hard enough—some from nature, some from human invention. A distant crow caws repeatedly, its call moving closer. Then, there it is, flapping across the road to a nearby copse between houses. I haven’t seen many crows this winter, although they were abundant in the fall, and I wonder where they have gone. Above me now growls a small single engine plane, moving a few hundred feet up and crossing from left to right as if tracking the now silent crow.

As I approach a corner, three young women cross in front of me keeping a pace that would leave me breathless. But their speed has no apparent effect on their conversation: I cannot hear the words, but it is clear they are engaged in a lively and friendly exchange. They quickly go around a curve in the road, out of sight and hearing.

The quiet returns for a moment, but soon the stillness is cracked by a sound I recognize from my own long distant youth—the clack, clack of hockey sticks.  Four young boys fill a driveway with a game of street hockey, fighting over the orange ball that serves as their puck. I have my cap pulled over my ears and my coat zipped up, but the boys, creating heat by their effort, play bareheaded and have discarded their coats on the snow.

I keep walking, choosing my turns almost at random. I see a few people are out shoveling even though much of last week’s snow has disappeared. Here and there along the way, branches brought down by that snowfall lie by the roadside, the still cream-colored scars where they broke from the trees in sharp contrast to the gray bark and winter-dulled grass where they lay.

I pass a baseball field, its forlorn space still covered by patches of snow. There, near home plate, a small bird looks sidelong at the soil—a robin! It’s the first I have seen in months. Far overhead, a jet rumbles.

As that sound moves away, I hear a cardinal practicing his song, preparing for the coming spring. He’s answered by the peter-peter-peter of a tufted titmouse. Now I see them in the naked branches, both silhouetted against the sky.

I turn back toward home, heading downhill now and the syncopated click of pen and notebook pick up the tempo. Several people are out walking their dogs and one woman approaching along the other side of the street pushes a baby carriage. I catch only a glimpse of the child, who appears to be an infant, a few weeks old at most, I surmise. Welcome to a very strange time, I think.

I pause on a small bridge over a brook, lean on its stone wall and gaze down the brook to where it empties into a pond. Most of the ice that covered it only days ago has gone, and I can make out ducks moving across the water.

Home is nearby. When I get there I may make a cup of tea to offset the cold, but I am in no hurry. I can stand here and watch the ducks awhile.

BOLLI Member Peter Bradley

Peter Bradley spent most of his career in business journalism after stints as a newspaper reporter and editor as well as a decade teaching fourth, fifth and sixth grades. His other pursuits include amateur theater, hiking, painting, cycling, and doting on his five grandchildren. He lives in Norwood, Mass.




MEMOIR from Susan Bradford

Mendel, Fruit Flies, and Me  

by Susan Bradford

             At Paul D. Schreiber High School in 1960, each person in Mr. Martinson’s biology class had to do a big project or research paper in the spring.  This project had to be ongoing, in-depth, and would count for a large part of our grade.  Somehow, I decided it would be interesting to “prove” Mendel’s laws of genetics.[1] Actually, I was going to try to replicate some of the patterns Gregor Mendel had predicted would occur in pea varieties.

I ordered various strains of drosophila, fruit flies, from the Cold Spring Harbor Lab[2] where my good friend Betsy’s sister worked.  I decided upon ordering three varieties:  regular red-eyed fruit flies, white-eyed fruit flies, and dumpies (fruit flies with very short wings) because I thought those varying characteristics would make it fairly easy to distinguish one from the other.

             I visited neighbors who had babies in order to collect a lot of glass baby food jars to hold the assorted groups of flies and their food.  I used instructions to mix up an agar and fruit medium as food to put in the bottles.  Then I put fruit flies with one pure type into certain bottles, and each of the other types in other bottles, and counted what I had.  In the days to follow, I would keep track of each generation.  I used a plan about crossing the strains in certain ways. Then I had to observe and count the first generation of flies produced and, after that, the second and third generations of flies to see which and how many inherited the red eyes, white eyes, short wings or long wings.

It was fascinating, but counting them was difficult and involved using liquid ether to put the flies temporarily to sleep.  Once etherized, I could empty the flies onto a piece of white paper in order to closely observe the characteristics, separate the flies into groups, and count them.  From our local pharmacy, I purchased a can of ether that my mother made me store in our garage since it was so volatile.

Ether has a very strong and distinctive, rather sweet and sickly smell that I may never forget. I actually became light-headed sometimes as I bent over to count the flies. The counting was tricky because you had to use enough ether to put the flies to sleep for the entire time it took to count and sort them but not so much that it would kill them. I knew this was important but had no idea of the amounts to use.  Naturally, several weeks into this project, I did not use enough ether, and after carefully counting and sorting the tiny fruit flies, hundreds of them woke up and flew off.  We had fruit flies everywhere in the house for a long time.  Sitting down to dinner, in the living room, or taking a bath, my family and I would be besieged by tiny black spots before our eyes.  But the worst part was that I had to begin my experiment all over again.

Luckily, I had set aside enough of the “pure” flies of each variety that I was able to begin again without delay.   Not surprisingly, the next time, as I emptied the etherized flies onto the paper, I noticed that their little wings were at right angles, which was not good.  I had killed that entire batch because I wanted to be certain they would not wake up in the middle of counting again.  Finally, I figured it out and was able to etherize them properly.  Over the next several generations of flies, I was able to do it correctly and ended up with a very successful project.  My numbers came out very close to what would have been predicted using Mendel’s laws.

My teacher was pleased and gave me a good grade.

I was happy because I felt as if I were a real scientist, and I have memories I will keep.

My parents were probably just glad I did not knock myself out or blow up the house.

 [1] Mendelian inheritance is a set of primary tenets relating to the transmission of hereditary characteristics from parent organisms to their children;The laws of inheritance were derived by Gregor Mendel, a 19th century monk conducting hybridization experiments in garden peas. Between 1856 and 1863, he cultivated and tested some 29,000 pea plants. From these experiments he deduced two generalizations which later became known as Mendel’s Laws of Heredity or Mendelian inheritance. He described these laws in a two part paper, Experiments on Plant Hybridization that he read to the Natural History Society of Brno on February 8 and March 8, 1865, and which was published in 1866.   Wikipedia

[2] Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) is a private, not-for-profit research and education institution at the forefront of efforts in molecular biology and genetics to generate knowledge that will yield better diagnostics and treatments for cancer, neurological diseases and other major causes of human suffering.  Home to seven Nobelists, the laboratory was founded in 1890 as one of the first
Home to seven Nobelists, the Laboratory was founded in 1890 as institutions in the world to specialize in genetics research. CSHL has played a pivotal role in the emergence of molecular genetics, the scientific foundation of the contemporary revolution in biology and biotechnology. At CSHL in 1953, James D. Watson presented his first public lecture on his and Francis Crick’s discovery of the double-helical structure of DNA, for which each later won a Nobel Prize. As director and then president of the Laboratory from 1968 to 2003, Watson was instrumental in developing CSHL into one of the world’s most influential cancer research centers. www.cshl.ed

BOLI member and SGL Susan Bradford

Susan Bradford was a teacher and administrator who retired from Maimonides School in Brookline and has been a longtime BOLLI member since then.   She has led several history related courses and been active on various BOLLI committees. This piece was first written in a BOLLI writing class led by Ruth Harriet Jacobs.





Well, BOLLI friends, it’s time, once again, to ask for your help.  The most challenging part of managing our blog is getting enough material to post on a regular basis, which is, at least in part, why we’ve had fewer and fewer posts over the course of the past several months.   And so, I am appealing to you.

Please contribute to this publication which is, in essence, a venture all about US–who we are, what interests us, concerns us, moves us, inspires us, and more.  Your contribution does not need to be a formal item–you can share ANYTHING you like!  And, in fact, as we have all been more “sequestered” in the past several months than we had been accustomed to prior to this pandemic, our blog offers us a chance to tell each other how we’ve been managing this time.  Think about sharing–

  • ideas or questions you’ve been considering
  • books, tv shows, or movies you’ve enjoyed during this time
  • crafts, hobbies, pastimes you’ve returned to or begun to explore
  • walks, hiking trails, beautiful spots you’ve discovered or rediscovered
  • new year’s resolutions? old year’s farewells?
  • photography, poetry, prose, etc.
  • interviews of fellow BOLLI members for “Meet Our Members” features (if you like, you can just send me information about members you’d like to see featured, and I’ll take it from there)

There’s really no limit to the possibilities here.  So, please send material!

BOLLI Matters editor Sue Wurster

Send material, suggestions, ideas, etc. to or use the comment box here to share with all.

Thank you!




When Richard Averbuch arrived at BOLLI a year ago, shortly after his retirement, he joined CAST (Creative Acting, Storytelling, and Theatre) and quickly became a mainstay in this very special Special Interest Group.  With his background in theatre–and improvisation, in particular—he was soon leading exercises and workshops, eventually becoming, along with Sandy Clifford, the group’s co-leader.  This term, he and Becky Meyers (long time Scene-iors leader) have joined forces to lead BOLLI actors in an online production of A.R. Gurney’s “The Dining Room.”

BOLLI actors have certainly enjoyed getting to know Richard (pictured above in a recent BOLLI Play Reading group sbot) and so, it seems a fitting time to introduce him to our community as a whole. 

So, Richard, how did you get involved in theater?

 When I was in middle school, sometime in the late 1960s, our English teacher took us to see a series of three plays at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco.  To his credit, he wanted to challenge us, so he selected Death of a Salesman, Under Milkwood, and Six Characters in Search of an Author.  I didn’t fully grasp either “Milkwood” or “Six Characters,” but I was totally mesmerized by the environment created by the actors, the language, and the production values of each.  And I was transported by “Salesman.”

When I was in high school, our drama teacher encouraged us to explore alternative theater.  He had a highly skilled mime performer come in to give workshops, culminating in the creation of a mime troupe at the school.  By way of audition, we were asked to perform an original mime, something I had never done before!  Mine was a sketch about a fisherman who baits a hook and casts it into the water. After a few minutes, he notices a tasty looking sandwich that has been left on the beach.  Curious, he decides to take a little bite and—you guessed it—he gets a hook in his mouth and is pulled into the sea by a very different “fisherman” from a watery world.  Much to my surprise, the audience laughed, and I was selected to be in the troupe.

That same drama teacher also brought a member of The Committee, a pioneering improvisation company in San Francisco known for their cutting-edge political satire (anti-war and social justice themes, in particular).  But most important, all the members had strong theater backgrounds—mostly trained in Viola Spolin’s improvisation techniques.  I absolutely loved the approach, and my mime experience fit very comfortably.  I took a variety of workshops with The Committee, which had a theater in North Beach, San Francisco.  One of the members of the company was an acting student at the College of Marin—Robin Williams.  It was clear, from the start, that he was gifted.  Soon, he was off to Julliard and beyond.  I ended up creating an directing an improvisation company at my high school, and we performed at various venues in San Francisco.  Our performance specialty was a long-form “Herald,” an extended piece for the entire ensemble.  After graduation, I ended up being a performer and education director at the Roundhouse Theater, still a very successful theater outside Washington D.C. in Bethesda, Maryland.

Richard in a group improvisation at Aretha Spolin’s 2019 workshop in Watertown.

                       What led you to make what seems like a.                            dramatic career change from theater to health care?

After 6-7 years in the professional theatre, I wanted a new intellectual challenge, so I enrolled in the Master of Public Administration program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.  After graduation, I ended up working on health policy—and eventually, I leveraged my knowledge of communications into marketing/communications positions at Beth Israel Deaconess and Mass General.  And my health care career came to a close working for the Massachusetts Coalition for Serious Illness Care—i.e., working on improving care for those with serious illness also facing end-of-life.  Very inspiring!


 I became interested in BOLLI as a way to reconnect with my background in the humanities, literature, visual and performing arts.  Especially exciting for me has been connecting with other BOLLI members interested in the theater.  As part of the CAST special interest group, I’ve taught improvisation workshops, and we’re currently planning to perform The Dining Room as our major activity this term.

Richard and his Spolin workshop partner engage in a mirror exercise as fellow BOLLI member Sandy Clifford takes a observational pose.

But, in addition, it’s been great to see the broad selection of courses offered in my areas of interest as the study groups feed the intellectual life of the entire BOLLI community.

I’ve found BOLLI to be a welcoming community of continued learning.  Of course, we all look forward to the day when we can return to in-person classes; they enhance and enliven the experience, for sure!

BOLLI “Matters”  Sue Wurster

It’s been a while since posting a BOLLI member profile!  During this time, in particular, it is harder for us to get to know each other, so it seems fitting that we bring back this part of our blog activities.  Have someone you’d like to either profile yourself or have us profile?  Please send ideas!  ( 

OUR TURN by Quinn Rosefsky


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.”

Creative Nonfiction by Larry Schwirian: Henry


by L. Schwirian

It was on the 10th of May in 1843 that Henry received the fateful commitment letter from the woman he adored and had been courting off and on for the last seven years; she had finally agreed to his proposal of marriage.  His first wife had died of a miscarriage eight years earlier while they traveled in Europe, and a few months later, he met Fanny, his wife to be, and her father in Switzerland.

Henry’s first wife had been embalmed, laid in a lead-lined oak casket, and shipped to Boston for burial.  After the funeral ceremony,  he took up his new post as a Professor of Modern Languages at Harvard and began living as a boarder at Craigie House near Harvard Square.  Fanny, whose real name was Frances, also returned from Europe, with her father Nathan Appleton, to their home on Beacon Hill.  As one of the original investors in the first integrated textile mill in Waltham, Nathan was quite wealthy.

After receiving Fanny’s letter, Henry was so energized that he pulled on his boots and started the three and one-half mile, 90-minute trek down Broadway Street and across the Boston Bridge to Beacon Hill to make sure that Fanny wouldn’t change her mind. It was a journey he made many times over the past seven years, and he had become something of a legend in Cambridge for his unrequited ardor, perseverance, and refusal to quit.

He and Frances married shortly thereafter and parented six children before Fanny died in 1861; she was sealing letters with wax when her dress caught fire, and she succumbed only a few days later. Henry, in an attempt to save her, suffered wounds to his face and body and was unable to attend her funeral. He retired shortly thereafter and devoted the rest of his life to writing and became one of the best known and popular poets of the 19th Century.

He and both wives are now buried at Mt. Auburn Cemetery, and the “Boston Bridge” that he crossed so many times while courting Fanny was re-christened “The Longfellow Bridge” when it was replaced in 1906. The pedestrian bridge recently built over Storrow Drive near the Hatch Shell has been christened The Fanny Appleton Bridge.

The Fanny Appleton Bridge


BOLLI Matters contributor, SGL, and Writers Guild co-chair Larry Schwirian

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.  

COFFEE BREAK by Quinn Rosefsky


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


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?”





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 for placement in BOLLI Matters.



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!”