The Scene-iors end-of-term staged reading presented on Thursday, May 19 was, indeed a hit, and, for the first time, BOLLI members who may not have been in attendance, can see a variety of photos of the production–provided by Bunny Cohen and Allan Kleinman. (Let your cursor hover over a picture to see its caption.)
Welcome to The Dining Room by A.R. Gurney!
The group would love to see your comments–use the box below!
Karen grew up in Pittsburgh, PA and attended Pennsylvania State University, graduating with her BS, MA, and Ph. D. in Geophysics in 1969, 1972, and 1976. Dr. Wagner went to work for AMOCO Production Company in their research lab in Tulsa, OK and simultaneously became adjunct professor of mathematics at Tulsa University from 1977 to 1980. She also continued competitive fencing in the tri-state fencing league. She transferred to Houston, TX to work for a production division of AMOCO in 1980 where she both continued competition fencing and became an avid catamaran sailor. In 1982, Karen began working for Natomas Petroleum International out of San Francisco where she actively traveled and worked the Bahamas and South America. During her time in California, Karen became a wildlife vet technician working for the Alexander Lindsay Junior Museum on weekends. In 1984, she returned to Houston, TX to become Product Development Manager for Borehole Seismic work at Schlumberger North American Headquarters. This work took her to Europe, Alaska, and Japan. During her extended stays in Japan (where Schlumberger had a research lab on the outskirts of Tokyo), she continued to play kendo which she had begun studying under Darrell Craig at the Houston Budokan.
In the mid 1980’s with the oil bust, Dr. Wagner switched careers from oil to radar and moved to the Boston area to work for the MITRE Corporation. She spent 13 years working on different projects including ground penetrating radar and over-the-horizon radar. She continued her martial arts training at a Uechiryu Karate dojo studying under Walter Mattson. In 1999, Karen began working for Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems. She worked on the Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS), the Stealth Bomber weapons load, and the Ballistic Missile Defense System. She became a Raytheon Six Sigma Expert along the way.
After 35 years in high tech, Karen left Raytheon in 2011 and began a sabbatical that involved BOLLI and the pursuit of all things relaxing. Along with several colleagues, Dr. Wagner became an SGL for the “Science Sampler: Five by Three” which gave students introductions to eclectic topics in science and ran for four semesters. After taking a writing course with Marilyn Katz Levenson, Karen discovered a talent for poetry which she pursues to this day in the BOLLI Writers’ Guild. She has been a contributor to the last two issues of the BOLLI Journal. A sample of her poetry is included here, entitled “Delayed Departures,” about a pirate ship chasing a Spanish galleon.
Reflections on The New York Times Special Section, May 1
The New York Times published a Special Section on May 1 of this year. Fraying at the Edges is about Geri Taylor, a New Yorker, newly retired, aged 73. If she lived in the Boston area, she certainly might have been a BOLLI member. Her appearance, career, her interests, and her marriage(s) all easily correspond to our own. Geri is a woman in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s, and what distinguishes her from others with this disease is that she has taken a pro-active approach to coping with her failing memory. She knows full well the trajectory of Alzheimer’s, but right now, in the beginning stages of her disease, she and her husband find strategies that enable them to cope with their new realities, to plan for the future, and to each find pleasure and satisfaction in the here and now.
Geri is aware of her growing deficits, her need to plan ahead, her slowing down, and her physical changes—like walking in her sleep, like having an unsteady gait, like having less of an appetite. She said, “Alzheimer’s brings on apathy is what I find. Years ago, I definitely had more of an ego. Now I don’t have an idea of myself. And so I have less of an ego. Frankly, I don’t care what people think of me. I’m more in a survival mode, one foot in front of the other. Don’t spill the coffee.”
After participating in a support group for several years, Geri and a few other members advocated for a new kind of group, workshops where people with Alzheimer’s could “swap strategies” for living with early-stage memory loss. (There ARE simple strategies that work, like putting glass doors on kitchen cabinets so one can see where particular items are stored.) Advocating for and initiating a workshop is an amazing accomplishment for people whose executive functions and memories are slowly but surely deteriorating. But it DID get started. This new workshop, with the sponsorship of the Alzheimer’s Association in Connecticut, is called GAP, Giving Alzheimer’s Purpose.
The “Times” supplement is well worth reading. Geri is a remarkably positive role model. The article, indirectly, also shows how friends and family can help someone with Alzheimer’s maintain a sense of self.
After all, according to this article, “Alzheimer’s is a disease that strikes an American every 67 seconds.” It may not strike you or me, but, almost inevitably, it will strike someone we know and love.
Some Scene-ior “veterans” were asked to reflect on what drew them to the activity. Eileen Mitchell, Ron Levy, Carolyn Allen, and Davida Loewenstein shared some of their thoughts and memories…
I was inspired by active & engaged SGLs who led lively discussions & encouraged play readings: Jim Robbins, the Shakespeare guru, who is now in Arizona; Elaine Reisman, modern plays with morals, who is now at Brookhaven, and Lois Ziegelman, from Aeschylus to Tennessee Williams, who is still at BOLLI.
My favorite story is our first public performance that took place in a cozy conference room at South Street – in the former BOLLI offices. We did Table by the Window by Terrence Rattigan, and there was only one person in the audience, but when he laughed — we were hooked! Then we moved to a classroom on campus & 30 people filled the room. Most shows have been at Turner Street, but once we even played at Spingold — on the main stage.
The shared laughter, caring, and emoting are my best memories.
I acted minor roles in high school productions that used to be reviewed by the London “Daily Telegraph”, and so I joined the Scene-iors. The best part of the experience was always the camaraderie among the regulars and how we often succeeded in making something from less than whole cloth.
There were and probably still are challenges, particularly the Turner Street location and our so-called “stage”. What was always most impressive was how the company scrounged and loaned props and costumes. And how about those family a.k.a. cast parties?
When my husband turned sixty, I gave him acting lessons at New Rep. It was like a new room had opened for him, and he loved it. Everyone asked me if I was acting too. ” Oh, no,” I said. “Every bell needs a clapper.”
Then, years later, when I joined BOLLI, I decided to try it–after all, I didn’t have to memorize anything. So, I threw myself into the role of a hag ( I prefer not to think of it as type casting), and I was paired with fellow hag Bunny Cohen in a play by William Inge. I had such fun disappearing into the role. For the performance, my daughter came down from NH, my other daughter left work and took my two grandkids out of elementary school, and my son Bruce blew off work for the afternoon. It was a treat to have them there, and I was thrilled to discover how easy and wonderful it all was.
I also loved the people — I was part of a team — Eileen, Becky Myers , Davida, Pete Rieder, Irwin, Ron Levy, Bunny, Monique Frank.
Bobbe Vernon and Charlie Raskin played teen-agers in love . I watched, entranced, as the years fell away from them. ” Wow,” I said. “They really have chemistry together.” I was thrilled when Charlie wore my late husband’s Navy jacket. It was as though Bob were in the play, too.
The next best experience was Separate Tables, another wonder-full team experience. I dragged tables and windows and curtains and plants from home, along with taking over the role of the hotel manager from Wendy Hiller! I watched the movie a couple of times, and the group spent a post-performance meeting watching it too. I, a confirmed loner, felt the joy of belonging.
First and foremost, Scene-iors is fun! But that’s not why I originally joined the group. I did it to answer a challenge–from me to myself. I dare you, Davida, to be in a play. I had NEVER been in a play and just wanted to add acting to my experience bag. I assumed it would be a one-shot activity, but I loved it and have been in Scene-ior productions ever since.
I think acting has made me really think about the characters in plays and books–who they are at a point in time and how they came to be that way. It’s not much of a stretch to then apply this type of thinking to people I actually know. I guess this is another way of saying that I think that even my limited acting experience in Scene-iors has served to increase my sensitivity.
Participating in Scene-iors is such a wonderful opportunity for BOLLI members. I’m surprised that more people don’t give it a try…but, then again, it took a dare to push me to “take the plunge!”
I developed a passion for photography after receiving my first click n’ shoot camera in 2004. I would spend hours in my backyard and around my neighborhood shooting everything, most especially nature. In 2007, my husband and I took a trip to South Africa, so I purchased my first DSLR, a Canon Rebel, for the trip. I was so excited about photographing such a magical place that I took over 5000 photos during a 3 week period. 600 of them were shot in 3 hours as I watched a giraffe giving birth in the wild! After this adventure, I spent a lot of time trying to learn everything I could about photography.
In the spring of 2016, I entered the world of BOLLI. The first semester I took only one class, “Memoir Writing” with Jane Kays, and was not sure what to expect. Since I had spent my career in the world of science, I had decided to take classes in areas that I knew very little about and did not feel not good at. Writing fell into this category. After my first class, I wondered if I had made a good decision. Everyone in the class wrote wonderfully, and I did not feel that I belonged. In my professional career, I loved challenges and problem solving, so I bit the bullet and decided that I would do my best, even if I was the worst writer in the class! After all, I was doing this to expand my life experiences. In the end, this was the best class that I could have chosen as a first. I am a people person, and as everyone shared their personal experiences, I began to feel bonds with my classmates and BOLLI. The next semester, I was fortunate enough to get into Arthur Sharenow’s photography class which reignited my interest in photography. I have especially loved all of his photo outings! My passion for photography has grown, thanks to the photography classes that I have taken, and we now have the BOLLI Photography Group, which I am helping to facilitate.
OUR MOST RECENT PHOTO GROUP OUTING
On Friday morning, March 18th, nine members of the BOLLI Photography Group (Diane Becker, Linda Brooks, Maike Byrd, Bunny Cohen, Linda Dietrich, Rickey Ezrin, Carole Grossman, Sandy Miller-Jacobs, and I) met at the Wellesley College Botanical Gardens Visitor Center and toured the Margaret C. Fergus Greenhouses.
The greenhouses are warm in temperature, so we were able to leave our winter coats in the Visitor Center before we embarked on our walk through the five attached spaces. We spent about two hours meandering through the various houses where we shot lots of photos of unusual cacti and flowers.
Here is a “gallery” of some of the pictures that I took. (Put your cursor over each image to read its caption.)
Most of us will be going back for another visit to shoot all the amazing plants that we did not have time to get to on our first go-around..
To top off our photo shoot, six of us enjoyed a delicious lunch at Juniper Restaurant on Central Street in Wellesley!
Highlights of the Self-Guided Greenhouse Tour:
Desert House containing desert-dwelling plants from around the world; observation of desert adaptations; exploration of the concept of convergent evolution.
Tropic House with several layers of plantings; observation of adaptations to a rainforest environment; exploration of a bromeliad’s habitat.
Hydrophyte (Water) House containing pools filled with fish and water-growing plants.
Economic plants such as banana, coffee, sugar cane, papyrus; explanation of growth cycles and uses.
Tropical Pitcher Plants; discussion of the adaptation of these insect-eating plants to their environment.
Misters: being sprayed by the misters in the Fern House and propagation beds is often a highlight for elementary school kids!
The greenhouses are free, open from 8 am to 4 pm daily but closed on weekends during the summer. Parking in the Grey Lot is also free.
In my life before BOLLI, I taught 6-year-olds how to write stories. Now I am doing the same thing with 86-year-olds! No matter the age of the author, I am always surprised and delighted at the results. Everyone has stories to tell, and they are always different. I’ve been writing my own for years. Some are true. Most are fiction. But this part is true…. I taught high school English for a short while. Kindergarten and First Grade for a long while. I love Mozart Operas, Billy Collins’ poems, and the Boston Red Sox. When I’m not writing, or going to BOLLI, or rushing to catch the ferry, I’m at home reading and feeding the cat.
By Betsy Campbell
They stopped at Dunkin Doughnuts on the way to the Ferry. Alice had a small latte while Bill had a glazed doughnut and a large coffee with extra cream. She offered to drive the rest of the way while he ate. It was the least she could do under the circumstances. Cars were already driving up the ramp to the ferry when they arrived at the dock.
“They’re loading,” said Bill. “You better hurry.” He wiped a smear of sugar from his mouth and took a swig of coffee. She left her unfinished latte in the cup holder and got out to collect her bag from the trunk.
Bill opened the car window. “Got everything?”
“Yes. I’m all set.” She hoisted her shoulder bag in place and raised the handle on her roller bag.
“Bye,” she said. “Thanks for the ride.”
“Have fun,” he said and took another bite of doughnut.
Alice hurried up the gangplank and dragged her suitcase up a flight of stairs to the outside deck. She found a seat near the rail on the stern from where she could look down on the parking lot. Bill’s car was still there. He was probably still eating. A line of cars moved toward the loading ramp. Alice leaned on the rail, watching the activity below, trying to calm the sad, nervous feeling in her gut. She had done it. She had left him, and rightly so, for he hadn’t even bothered to kiss her good-bye.
She had moved into his place with great hopes, and it had seemed a happy choice at first. But, gradually, she saw that he was content with his routines. Frozen waffles every morning. Pasta for dinner every night. Sports radio and fantasy football. Even sex had to happen when the Red Sox had a day off or when there was no football on TV. Alice had tried to adapt to his ways, but there were things he didn’t notice. Little things that she tried to do for him. Clean sheets and towels didn’t matter to him. When she replaced a mildewed shower curtain with a new one, he didn’t care. He didn’t notice flowers on the table and had no taste for fresh green salads or healthy grains. She began to feel that there was nothing she could do for him. Sometimes she thought that, if she left, he wouldn’t even notice.
“Get out,” her friends advised. “You have to end it. He’s never going to change.”
But Alice hated making scenes. Even now, she had told him she was going to visit her sister for a few days without hinting that she might not be coming back. He had offered to drive her to the ferry, and when she said he needn’t bother, he had said, “No problem. I can listen to the game on the way back.”
With a blast on its horn, the ferry started to edge away from the dock. Alice looked down at Bill’s car and saw him fling open the door, jump out, and race toward the departing boat. He was looking up, searching for her among the passengers lining the rail, waving his arms, and yelling. Her heart jumped. He was calling her back! She leaned over the rail, straining to hear. him call her name.
“Alice! The keys! Where are my keys?”
As the ferry slid away, leaving an ever larger stretch of water between stern and shore, Alice slipped her fingers into her pocket and felt a familiar clump of keys. She knew, without looking, that they were attached to a New England Patriots key ring. She pulled them from her pocket, dropped them over the rail, and raised her empty hand to wave good-bye.
After four years and eighteen courses at BOLLI , I continue to be an eager and voracious learner. I’ve enjoyed classes in history, philosophy, literature, poetry, music and more. Thanks to three writing courses, I am now assembling my memoirs. Best of all, I discovered my very first “creative” hobby –photography!
For BOLLI’s spring term 2015, I signed up for Joe Cohen’s Photography course. When Joe described the term project, I was intrigued. We were to present an essay of twenty photos on a single theme. He distributed a sheet with dozens of theme possibilities. I scanned the list and the word “WINDOWS” jumped off the page. Joe suggested we keep our topics a secret from the class.
During the last three weeks of April, I was married to my camera, visiting many sites and taking hundreds of photos of windows. I wanted to capture the reflections both inside and outside of the glass. The early ones were just awful, but slowly they improved. At the last class, we were called on to present our slide shows with commentary. I was very proud that “Windows” was well received by Joe and the group.
Immediately following my presentation, Linda Dietrich was called upon to present her project. Linda is a charming woman I had sat beside and chatted with throughout the term. I often thought that I would like to continue our relationship outside of BOLLI. Much to my utter surprise and delight, Linda’s topic was “DOORS”! She had assembled photos from her New England travels that captured doors or entryways in the most beautiful and unique way.
That did it! Linda Doors and Linda Windows laughed heartily, and so began a dear friendship outside of BOLLI. We decided to put our favorite doors and windows into a 2016 calendar. It was modestly published and distributed to family members as gifts. We are presently working on another joint project—a calendar for 2017.
With the busy life at BOLLI, it’s always a challenge to make new friends, but definitely possible!
Here is a photo of “Linda Doors” and “Linda Windows.” If you see us at BOLLI, say hello. We’d love to chat.
Well, if you eliminate political cartoons a la Pat Oliphant, and funny papers, and illustrations, and graphic novels, you are left with the spot cartoon–a single drawing or sequence of drawings that have no particular meaning beyond a simple comment on either something going on in the Zeitgeist or in common amusing experiences. For example, a great Peter Arno cartoon shows a lonely spot next to a street lamp. It is night, and a young couple is talking to a police officer. The guy is carrying the back seat of an auto, and he says to the cop, “We wish to report a stolen car.” No social message. No moral. Like any good cartoon, it is self-referential, and its only purpose is to garner a laugh. Like this one–
How are cartoons conceived? Well, in my case I may be thinking of something or observing something, and a switch occurs to me–something that relates to the original notion but turns it around or reveals an unexpected consequence.
Let me trace one idea I had for a cartoon. For some reason, I was watching some ants. What do ants do? They bite people. What if one bit an ant expert? How would the ant feel about that? How would he behave afterwards? And the cartoon flashes in my head. One ant is prancing about in a very conceited manner, and another ant says to his companions, “He’s been impossible ever since he bit E.O. Wilson.”
Of course, it all loses its punch when I explain how it came about, which is why I should never tell anyone where my ideas come from.
How did I get interested in cartooning? I suppose it was because when I was very little, my father would read me the funnies after I was tucked up in bed at night. My heroes were not sports figures or soldiers: they were Moon Mullins, Mutt and Jeff, and Ignatz Mouse. So I guess that’s when I started scribbling down little sketches. At Harvard, I had a lot of cartoons and stories printed in the Harvard Lampoon, and later, when I got a Master’s Degree in Journalism at Columbia, I contributed cartoons and a cover to the Columbia Jester.
In New York, I worked for various advertising agencies as a copy writer, finding time to submit cartoons to national magazines. I even placed a couple of drawings in Collier’s and Argosy; alas, they both went out of business, killed by television.
Of course, every cartoonist’s dream is to place a drawing in The New Yorker, and though I sent in hundreds of “roughs,” none were ever accepted. Frankly, I think the cartoons they do print just plain stink, but that may be sour grapes.
While working in New York, I met Na’ama, married her, and became the father of Gideon, Seth, and Aliza. Then our family returned to Boston where I took over the family business – we were wholesalers of glass and plastic bottles. After I retired, we divided our time between the USA and a home in Italy. Returning to America, we felt a need for intellectual stimulation, so when we heard about BOLLI, we enrolled and have been taking classes ever since. And every once in a while, an idea strikes me, and I draw it up.
Editor’s Note:Sam also provides cartoons for BOLLI’s newsletter, The Banner. This month’s volume, now available online and in hard copy, features yet another gem. Be sure to check it out!
I was an elementary school teacher for over thirty years, Judy Blatt says, first in New York City and then in Sudbury. I retired in the year 2000. I always liked to write. While I was teaching, I wrote plays for the children in my classes.When I retired, I joined BOLLI and began to write both memoir and fiction. I swim laps early in the morning four days a week. There are no distractions in the pool, so it’s a perfect place to think and come up with ideas for stories.
Judy has been a “regular” participant in Betsy Campbell’s fiction writing classes, and her work is always applauded by her classmates and SGL. She is currently taking Betsy’s “Five Stories in Five Weeks” course, and the pieces she wrote for two of Betsy’s assignments are included here. For the first, “Waiting,” the task was to write a short piece about three people who are all waiting in line at the same place. And for the second, “How to Be the Life of the Party,” the challenge was to do an instructional piece using the second person point of view. As you will see, Judy’s point of view tends to take unexpected turns.
The line moved slowly past the open casket. The widow, hysterical just a few hours earlier, remained upright and subdued thanks to the family doctor’s injection and pills. As each mourner stopped to pay respects and murmur, “Sorry for your loss,” the grieving widow quietly thanked them. But as soon as they walked away, she turned to her daughter and whispered, “What will I do without him?” or “He was the perfect husband,” or “he was such a good man.”
Before long, every eye in the funeral home was on Lani–model, actress, drama queen and long-time mistress of the deceased. Dressed in a long black raincoat, sunglasses, and an ill-fitting black wig, she stood, sobbing loudly, in front of the open casket. Lani had announced beforehand that she would slip into the wake quietly and mingle with the crowd in order to go unnoticed by the widow. It was often said by those who knew Lani that she was dumb as a doorknob, but was she?
Benny Scorboni bent over the coffin and scrutinized the corpse carefully to make sure it was actually Gabe Hammer and that this wasn’t another one of his tricks. Satisfied that it was the man who owed him fifty thousand dollars, Benny longed to reach in, grab the dead guy, and kill him all over again. Now he would never get his money back. “I’m the only one here with a real reason to cry,” he thought.
HOW TO BE THE LIFE OF THE PARTY
Dear Problem Solver,
My husband works with a bunch of old fuddy-duddies. He won’t listen when I tell him that I’d rather put my head in a plastic bag than be forced to spend another evening with his boring colleagues and their wives. What should I do?
Miserable and Depressed
Dear Miserable and Depressed,
If you want to enjoy yourself at the party, then you will have to be the one to provide the fun. But first, you must be prepared. This is a list of what you will need:
A bright red dress with a low bodice and a matching jacket
A pair of long gloves (elbow length)
A deck of cards
A pair of flat shoes
You will also need to learn to play a few danceable ditties on the harmonica and study a movie starring Marilyn Monroe
It is common knowledge that nothing brings a party to life more than music. It’s difficult to carry a piano or a harp, but a harmonica will slip easily into your purse. As soon as the men head toward the library and the women begin chatting about their grandchildren, whip out your harmonica and begin playing one of the tunes you practiced. The beauty of the harmonica is that you will be able to play and dance at the same time. As soon as the others hear the catchy rhythm and see you dancing, they will join in.
But if that doesn’t work:
The purpose of the jacket worn over your dress was to keep your spouse from having a fit before you left the house. He will be too embarrassed to say a word in front of other people, so you can now remove it and reveal whatever you have to reveal. When all eyes are on you, that’s the time to think like Marilyn Monroe. What would she do in this situation? Sit on the boss’ lap? Sing “Happy Birthday, Mr. President”? You’ll think of something. Flirting definitely livens things up and gives everyone something to talk about, not only for the evening but for the following days or weeks.
But if that doesn’t work:
Pull out the cards, suggest a game of poker, and start slowly peeling off those long gloves. When your husband stands up and looks as if he is about to murder you, it will be time to run. You’ll be so glad you wore those flat shoes.
Now your problem is solved because you can be sure he’ll never want to take you to one of those boring parties again.
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