STORIES FROM STEVE: THE TWO OF US

THE TWO OF US

By Steve Goldfinger

 She is a lot older than me (and I am old enough), yet our love endures and even grows stronger from year to year. She is full of soft charm, gentle shadows, and her commitment to my needs is unswerving.  Above all, her tenacious hold on beauty defies the new wrinkles that appear as inevitably as the seasons.

When I met 33 Birch Hill Road in 1966, she was 84 years old. She faced out on a gentle circle, comfortable with the two other venerable homes that bordered it. She embraced my wife and four sons as we moved in, and she did not shudder when we put her through some minor surgery, both cosmetic and reconstructive, at the start.

With pride, I took in her many graceful rooms. I loved the huge, multi-paned window with its arched top above her central staircase. The third floor, all one room, posed a challenge for one’s imagination when it came to livening it with furnishings.

Over the years, my infatuation with 33 Birch Hill transformed into love, exactly paralleling the ever-deepening love within the family she nurtured. I look back on the nooks and bindings that are shared between a home and those who call it such, and a bounty of remembrances springs forth.

Ed building the substantial back deck the summer after graduating from college. It remains sturdy and well used to this day, the one and only construction effort of his life.

The tee-off spot for the nine hole frisbee golf course Michael created, the “holes” being tree trunks, rocks, and assorted  landmarks around our circle.

The ghost piano sonata that startled my wife and me as we ate breakfast one morning, alone in the house. Well, not entirely alone. There was that squirrel who descended the open chimney, found the living room, and took a liking to the piano’s keyboard.

Peter tossing out carrots from his second floor window, his act in plain view of those of us sitting on the deck. He hated the carrots that Barbara always gave him to keep him healthy.

David’s room, its walls covered with large posters of dead rock stars. Also, music from his clarinet and later, his guitar. And the songs he wrote.

33 Birch Hill and I have aged noticeably in recent years. She has just undergone the replacement of three wood gutters at exorbitant expense while my left hip was replaced at virtually no cost, thanks to Medicare. She has needed an entire re-do of her front portico and new granite steps to finally replace her ever-rotting wooden ones.  She needs paint, inside and out. I need eye injections for macular degeneration. I need omeprazole for reflux and Eliquis for a heart that occasionally beats irregularly.

Love in later years does not change much—only in the intimacies and frailties that emerge.

BOLLI MATTERS feature writer Steve Goldfinger

After a long career in medicine, Steve has been exploring his artistic side.  At BOLLI, he has taken writing courses, been active in the Writers Guild, and even tried CAST (Creativity in Acting, Storytelling, and Theatre) where his imagination made him a singular player!

THE CHEF’S CORNER WITH JOHN RUDY: BAKED APRICOT CHICKEN

BAKED APRICOT CHICKEN

For this recipe, I use large thighs, but they can be replaced with thick pieces of breast meat.  Also, although I prefer thigh meat as it does not dry out and usually cook it with bone and skin, you can also use boneless.  Serve with rice.  I first made this in 1970.

4                            Chicken thighs with bone and skin

½ cup                  Apricot preserves

1/2 cup              Wish Bone Russian or French Dressing

½ package          Lipton Dried Onion Soup Mix

  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. In a medium bowl combine the jam, dressing and soup mix. Mix together.
  3. Place chicken pieces in an 8” x 8” baking dish. Pour apricot mixture over chicken and bake uncovered in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes.  The time will vary depending on bone or no bone, and with thigh or breast.  So it is best to start checking at 30 minutes.
  4. Broil (skin up) for a couple of minutes if you used pieces with skin
BOLLI “Matters” feature writer John Rudy

John says that it was his mother who inspired his love of cooking and baking at an early age.  (She cooked vegetables in boil-able packages.)

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.”

QUARANTINE TALES: MARTY’S TREES AND GRILLS

                                       TREES AND GRILLS

By Martin Kafka

During these times of global and local threat from an invisible enemy, I seek out ways to calm myself and maintain a positive attitude. This is one of them.                                                                             

I have been called a tree-hugger. I am humbled by trees.  Where I grew up in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, we had the pleasure of having a London Plane Tree,  an upland variation of the Sycamore, that stood proudly across from our front stairs and shed its joyous leaves in the fall. Brooklyn had more than a few trees, you know, but let’s face it, the “Garden City” of Newton is a hell of a lot more arboreal.

On this early evening, as I sit at the picnic table, grilling herbed chicken and nursing a gin with tonic and lime, I am surrounded by mature trees, really tall ones, at the boundary edge of my back yard.  These days, I consider them my protectors. I recently learned that our home is nearly one hundred years old, so some of the mighty trees that look up to the evening blue sky from our front and back yards could be pretty old.  I’m sure they have witnessed a lot of barbecues, birds, wild turkeys, rabbits, mice, deer, and especially, noisy joyful children. Like the Liberty Mutual commercial jingle, my trees “have seen a thing or two.”

As I admire the wonderful late afternoon’s yellowed-green light shimmering through the leaves on my favorite oak, white birch, and linden trees, I have to admit that I am nearly in awe at the myriad of dappled tones of their wonderful leaves. This is a very peaceful spot for me. I am safe here.

Whenever I am out here grilling, admiring my back yard, and relaxing, I also find myself reminiscing about my dad. He relaxed on the fairways and greens of the golf course, and he loved to charcoal grill chicken after a day at the links. Dad was the family Grill King on our small back porch in Brooklyn while Mom was the undisputed Queen of our Kitchen Cuisine. But as far as grilling, the times have not changed that much.  For me, outdoor grilling is still a man’s domain.

My dad loved his chicken, and he loved cooking it, turning the legs and breasts with long grilling tongs.  It was one of the times he could be quiet, almost meditative. He also loved his Dewar’s Scotch on the rocks which he always had while grilling.  That time on our modest back yard elevated porch was the heyday for charcoal briquette grilling, with none of this contemporary gas grill-heat ’em- right-up kind of thing.  When I did my residency training in psychiatry in Ann Arbor, I used to do charcoal grilling on my tiny back porch and still did so when I first moved to Newton.  The cooking process took too long once I had a family, though, so I finally capitulated to the gas grill for its convenience.  But I sure miss that charcoal flavor and all those aromatic carcinogens!

As my father’s son, I have inherited his fondness for food, grilling, and, especially, herbed chicken.  I will admit that a bit of alcohol helps as well.  Dad would wait for those charcoal briquettes to be just right before adding the chicken to the grill-top, enjoying the sizzle as he nursed his Dewar’s. When it comes to grilling chicken, like father, like son. No worries now–just good food!

BOLLI Member, SGL, and Writers Guild Writer Marty Kafka
Marty Kafka is a retired psychiatrist whose passions include his wife Karen and their family, international travel, and jazz piano. 
In addition, Marty has found a retirement career taking BOLLI classes, writing memoir, and being active in the Photography special interest group.

 

QUARANTINE TALES: LOIS SOCKOL

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!”

THE SCREENING ROOM: TALL TALES–TRUTH OR FANTASY?

TALL TALES:  TRUTH OR FANTASY?

By Dennis Greene

Back in 2003, two films were released which plucked at my heartstrings.  Each, in fact, seemed to be playing the same tune.

Both films made me experience wonder, think about storytelling, and appreciate the uplifting power of nostalgia and fantasy.

Yesterday, while channel-surfing, I stumbled upon one of those films, Big Fish, which was directed by Tim Burton and featured Albert Finney, Ewan McGregor, Helena Bonham Carter, Danny DeVito, Steve Buscemi, Miley Cyrus, Billy Crudup, and Robert Guillaume.  A quite talented cast.

The story focuses on the irrepressible traveling salesman Ed Bloom (Finney) who has spent his lifetime telling unbelievable stories to his family. His son Will (Crudup) is initially dazzled by his father’s adventures, but as he grows up, he begins to doubt the truth of these oft- repeated tales and, over time, becomes estranged from his father. The audience experiences these past adventures through slightly surreal flashbacks featuring young Ed Bloom (McGregor). which present charming fairytale images. As Ed Bloom lies dying, Will returns, along with his pregnant wife, to try to reconnect with his father and discover the truth about his father’s life and love for his mother. Will wants to be able to pass the truth on to his own child. The movie ends with Ed Bloom’s death and some revelations about the truth, but it closes with an uplifting note which left me both satisfied and a little choked up. Big Fish received positive critical comment but is not very well known. One reviewer noted that “Big Fish is the enchanting story of a father and son, but it really is the story of stories themselves.”

As I watched Big Fish, I realized how much the film reminded me of Secondhand Lions, another high quality but often overlooked film from 2003. Lions also had a very talented cast including Robert Duval, Michael Caine, Haley Joel Osment, Kyra Sedgwiick, and Jennifer Stone.

The film centers on a fourteen-year-old boy who is sent by his irresponsible mother to live with his two very eccentric “uncles” on their run-down ranch in the middle of nowhere. The uncles are strangers to the boy, but as they become acquainted and then close, the uncles tell the boy extraordinary tales of their youthful escapades as soldiers of fortune. The stories seem right out of The Arabian Nights with sultans, harems, princesses, vast treasures, daring rescues, and desert escapes, but the boy also sees aspects of the two old men that suggest the tales could be true. He is also told about the unwavering lifetime love of one of the uncles for the princess he rescued. Again, the film involves the telling of fantastic stories, and the audience has to decide whether or not to believe that the stories are true. The movie also ends with death, revelation, an uplifting feeling, and a few tears. The review of Big Fish mentioned above is equally applicable to Lions. It is an enchanting story of two old men and a boy, but it really is another story about stories themselves.

I am a storyteller and am prone to retell and embellish my stories repeatedly. Those who spend time with a storyteller, like spouses, children, siblings, and long-time friends or coworkers sooner or later come to find these stories tedious. Roger Ebert, in his not entirely positive review of Big Fish, described Ed Bloom as a “tireless blowhard” who “repeats the same stories so relentlessly you expect the eyeballs of his listeners to roll up into their foreheads and be replaced by tic-tac-toe diagrams, like in the funnies.”

I have always had high regard for Mr. Ebert, so his comment hit home—but not about the movie.  I think I have detected eyes rolling up as I have told my stories, but I have stubbornly ignored those hints. Because I don’t want to become a tireless blowhard (if I am not there already), I have decided to cease retelling any story to anyone who may have already heard it, with the possible exception of a few stories I feel are so good that they are worth hearing again. So now, I will have to create new stories, find new listeners, or just shut up.

If you want to escape the real world for a few hours, I highly recommend either of these feel-good films about storytelling and truth.  I will not tell you this again.

“BOLLI Matters” feature writer Dennis Greene

Dennis spent five years as an engineer and then forty as a lawyer–and sixty as a pop culture geek and junkie.  He saw “The Day the Earth Stood Still” in 1951 when he was seven and has been hooked on speculative fiction ever since.  

 

THE BOLLI JOURNAL: UPDATE

THE BOLLI JOURNAL: UPDATE

For those of you who have been wondering about the publication and distribution of the latest BOLLI Journal,  it is coming soon!

Considering our current–and likely elongated–quarantine, we have decided to produce the Journal in a two-stage way, reversing the order of our past practice which was to publish the print version and then, later, put it online.

It is our plan to have this year’s volume put online by mid-summer.  Members will have a chance to order print copies which we will then run for them.

It is a volume that we know you will enjoy!  Wonderful work from our contributors–and by our editors as well!

 

 

WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND THESE DAYS? SHARE WITH YOUR BOLLI FELLOWS!

I recently got a group email asking for our quarantine stories–what we’re doing to keep ourselves alert and fit, what we’re experiencing in terms of the news regarding our community–globally, nationally, state-wide, locally–what we’ve seen in our families, friends, and neighbors that give us cause to celebrate,  what lifts us up and makes us laugh, how our faith is being tested…all of that sort of thing.

We have this wonderful BOLLI forum available to us for sharing our experiences during this potentially so very isolating time in our lives.  (Or during any time, for that matter, of course!) So, think about what you might share with all of us.

No, you should NOT let thoughts like “but I’m no writer” or “nobody will be interested in what I have to say” or “I’m not doing anything of any note” get in your way.  Absolutely every one of those thoughts is actually quite worthy of exploring and sharing with others who feel the same way.

SO–this is a great time for exercising.  Not only by stretching and bending into yoga poses or doing jumping jacks, but by stretching and bending your thinking muscles as well as your writing muscles (which you may or may not even realize you have–but, trust me, you do), and get your thoughts and feelings “out there.”

Send me any and all thoughts–and if you would like or feel the need, I am happy to coach or edit.

BOLLI MATTERS  Sue Wurster

Send items to susanlwurster@gmail.com

No deadline, no word limit, no style preference–humorous, serious, fiction, nonfiction, essay, poetry, book/movie/tv show review, memoir, whatever you like!

MORE TECH TALK WITH JOHN RUDY: Another Scam…

DEFENDER SCAM

by John Rudy

Scams continue to be a major problem, and all of us need be very careful about them.  Some are fairly obvious as they contain poor English, but others seem almost reasonable.  Let me address one that I recently received.

Before showing it to you, let me mention that Windows Defender is important software from Microsoft that is part of your operating system.  It protects you from viruses and is the Microsoft default product for this service.  Many purchase other products from Norton and other companies because, until recently, Defender and its predecessors were deemed insufficient.  In general, though, that is not the case today.  And, as I said, it is FREE.

So this is what I received as an email (I’ve compressed it a bit). If this is sent to enough people who actually respond, they will receive a lot of money.  Two weeks ago, I received a very similar scam, but that one was only asking $299.

DO NOT call the “toll-free number” provided.  Just delete the message and move on!

===================================================

Thank you for your order.

Your order number: #5327271724162153

This is your receipt make sure to print or save a copy for your records.

Your order has been shipped through online delivery.

If you want to cancel this order, Give us call on our toll-free number:-  (704) 764-1190

Your Order Information:

Order Number: #5327271724162153

Customer Number: 0008547896 

Order date: 05/18/2020

Items Ordered: 1

Your Billing Information:

Total Amount: $499.99

Payment Method: Visa Credit/Debit Card/Net 500

Your Shipping Details:
Shipping Method: Online
Product Detail: Download File

Thank you for your recent order with us. If you have any questions or want a refund for this order, Please call on our Toll-Free Number: (704) 764-1190

We all need to be particularly careful these days as there are predators out there trying to take advantage of our fears.

BOLLI “Matters” feature writer John Rudy

A long-time technology expert and guide, John provides his helpful hints in this regular BOLLI Matters feature.  In the comment box below, be sure to provide John with questions,  comments, or suggestions future tech items to cover. 

TECH TALK with John Rudy: LIBRARY PROGRAMS

LIBRARY RESOURCES 

from John Rudy

Although this information is specific to the Lexington Library, most is applicable to the other libraries in the Minutemen region so if you think that a particular capability is worthwhile you might find that your library has it.  Also, much of the functionality is through the Boston Public Library.

So, how can the Cary Library help you now, even though it’s closed because of Covid-19??

Christine Muir, Community Librarian at Cary Memorial Library, focused on many library resources that are available even while the library is closed in a recent presentation to the weekly meeting of the Lexington Computer and Technology Group (LCTG).  We recorded this presentation; you can view the program and see all of the options available to you right now—all at no fee.  You may find it useful to pause the program so you can take notes, as she covered a lot of material!

The link to the video is under Past Meetings on the LCTG (computer group)’s page: http://LCTG.toku.us

Look for the April 8, 2020 entry and click on “Watch Presentation” in the column on the right.

The LCTG meets (virtually nowadays) on Wednesday mornings and we have been recording most presentations for nearly 2 years.  There may be other topics on this page of interest to you.  Membership in the LCTG is free; see the group page for information about joining the group and our upcoming meetings.

Let me know if you have any questions, comments, suggestions; or good jokes.

BOLLI “Matters” feature writer John Rudy

A long-time technology expert and guide, John provides his helpful hints in this  BOLLI Matters feature.  In the comment box below, provide John with questions,  comments, or suggestions future tech items to cover. 

 

john.rudy@alum.mit.edu (781-861-0402)

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