This is a special kuchen since it can only be made in late summer and autumn when Italian or prune plums are available. It is also a beautiful cake, which always brings “ooohs” and “ahhhs” when served to someone who hasn’t seen it before or even those who had it the previous year.
When I visited the Boston area German refugees in the plum season, I would be greeted with coffee and some variety of plum kuchen. This is the variety that my mother made, and I think her recipe is the best.
Murbe Teig Pie Crust for 2 round pies (8 or 9″ round) or one 9″ x 13″ rectangle
4 oz butter (one stick)
4 oz sugar (½ cup) ½
8 oz flour (1 ½ cup)
12 to 14 medium sized prune plums for each pie dish
1 to 1½ tsp tapioca
Mix the crust ingredients together to form a ball, and put it in the refrigerator while preparing the plums. This makes two pie crusts or one large pyrex dish of cookie sheet crust.
Cut one side of each plum along the seam line and remove the pit, keeping the two halves together. Make two slices in each half of the plum, from the top to about half way down.
When finished slicing the plums, take the dough out of the refrigerator and cut it in half. Butter the pie plate or spring form very well. Flatten the dough out and then place in the pie plate. With the heel of your hand and fingers spread the dough into the pie plate. Poke dough with fork a few times. Bake the dough for about 10-12 minutes at 350°.
Sprinkle the bottom of the crust with minute tapioca (about 1- to 1½ tsp), to absorb the plum juices. Place the plums skin side down in the crust starting at the outer edges and filling the crust in circles. Bake for about 15 minutes at 400° and then another 30 to 45 minutes at 350°. The pie is done when the plum juices flow. It sometimes takes over an hour.
When you take the cake out of the oven, you may want to sprinkle it with sugar if the plums are not very sweet. My mother always did, regardless of sweetness. I like the tartness of the plums, so I never sprinkle it with sugar. Try it both ways.
During her last five years teaching at Lesley before retiring, Joan ended up teaching teachers to teach online–by teaching them online. If you know people who need help in this area, she shamelessly asks you to let them know they can find her book on Amazon.
When Joan isn’t occupied with life maintenance, she paints watercolors, makes quilt tops, and listens to audiobooks. Two years ago, she started taking classes at BOLLI and enjoys learning from the SGLs and classmates.
Home is the yellow and turquoise 13-foot paddleboard that takes you gliding some summer mornings in coastal Maine. Over fish, maybe even sharks, around Sow and Pigs Island, past the neighbors waving lazily from their deck chairs.
Right palm on the paddle’s handle, pushing downward as it moves you forward in upright bent-kneed posture, you are a black nylon wetsuit-clad figure below a wide-brimmed white hat protecting you from the cancer ray sun.
You are not at the gym in a mask.
Socially distanced from all sentient beings, it is not possible in this hour to spread or absorb one deadly viral particle unless there’s something you don’t yet understand about this disease.
And then Summer turns to Fall.
Your house is sort of a home, until you let in the servicemen whose face masks slip below noses or you deposit mail on the foyer bench to disinfect.
What used to be a casual run to the market for dinner ingredients is now a carefully planned “trick or treat” with personal protective gear and a “who’s behind that face costume?” guessing game. Maybe you’ll recognize the hair, the eyeglasses, or bag and then struggle to communicate without sounding desperate and as tired as you are of all this.
Out out, damned virus. Go back home. Just don’t take up residence in my home, the body I felt at home in once, in late February but not so much in March and beyond.
In this land of the free, you on the Other Side are free to bare your face and spit at me, and do so every day, fearlessly, while I plan my exit strategy should the end come in November. Home of the brave no more, home to ever more raging cowards.
God Bless the few remaining spaces on water and land that aren’t yet destroyed by fire, rain, wind, and the demon leader with homely hair and the wife flaunting that she “really doesn’t care.”
There are no monsters, this is not yet Halloween. But there are more than 200,000 dead here in God Bless America, our home sweet home.
But we can’t kid ourselves. Home is not safe anymore.
Barbara is the founder of “Heavy Hitters Music,” an Emmy Award-winning publishing company which provides independent songwriting talent to the film, television and advertising industries. She is the author of “Songwriters Playground: Innovative Exercises in Creative Songwriting” and has taught songwriting and lyric writing at the Berklee College of Music and in workshops across the country. Her songs have graced the soundtracks of hundreds of television shows and feature films, including such productions as “The Sopranos,” “N.C.I.S.,” “Analyze This,” and “Being John Malkovich.”
Prescriptions at a Good Price and with Added Safety
from John Rudy
About 2 years ago, I learned of a company called GoodRx. It had been recommended to me by a Raytheon HR Director, so I assumed it was legitimate–and it is! Through GoodRx (and a prescription from my doctor), I was able to order medication bypassing my insurance company. For one of my meds, Crestor, the price was about half of what CVS charged even with my insurance plan. So far, I’ve saved over $200.
Recently, I heard about another company that does a similar thing: you put in your medication, your location, quantity, and dosage into their web page, and it tells you the least expensive places to buy it. I was able to better my GoodRx price by about 30% and improve two other medications (where GoodRx wasn’t helpful) by about 30% below the insurance cost.
Through this site, you can print out a DISCOUNT DRUG COUPON which you take to the pharmacy. For my three medications, the lowest cost in my area, tied with a few other places, was at my local Stop and Shop. Given the high cost of many medications, it seems smart to look around for multiple options.
I recently received an email from Bruce Nogueira. Many of you will remember him as an MSD HR manager and also as an ARR Board member. One of the things he mentioned was that, occasionally, a pharmacy gives you the incorrect dosage of the med. This can be due to either a doctor or a pharmacy error. In either case, the wrong dosage could, of course, cause major problems. I maintain a spread sheet with the correct values, and I always check when I receive a refill. The worst case, and the one Bruce pointed out, was where the shape/size of the pill in the bottle was unfamiliar to him; luckily, he checked it out. It was 10 times the correct dosage though the bottle was marked with the correct value! Bruce then told us of a site to identify pills.
Pull your covers up, Esme, and I’ll tell you a special story. Yes, just like that. Snuggle in tight.
Do you know what an eclipse is? It’s when the earth gets in the way of the sun when it tries to shine on the moon. The moon gets very dark So how do you think the moon feels when this happens? Well, here’s my story.
“I don’t want it to happen again,” said Moon to no one in particular, particularly because no one was there. “I know it is only three days away …. or should I say three nights? And I dread it.”
“Being eclipsed is no fun. I hate it when it gets so dark that I cannot see anything happening. If a cow jumps over me I want to be able to spot it so I can wave to it and even shout out Moo. I did that once, you know. And the cow laughed and asked me if I liked milk. Not especially I said, but do you like green cheese because if you do I can easily get some for you. The cow made a bad face. I laughed. This could never happen when I get eclipsed.
“And how would my first visitor, a man called Neil Armstrong, ever find me in the dark?
“There is a song that says I belong to everyone, but how would they feel if they can’t see me?
“There is something else of course. It has to do with how I feel about myself.
“I am very lonely up here. In fact, I am only happy when I can shine down on others and they can look up and admire me. I know I have inspired (that’s a new word, Esme, it means excited) people who paint pictures, others who write poems, ones who make up songs and even those whose only talent is to fall in love. That can’t happen when I can’t shine.
“So what have I learned from eclipse after eclipse?
“Well, I guess it is that, even in the darkest hours when I am most miserable, the time will come when I will be happy again and be able to make other people happy. And be able to see any cow that comes my way and have fun with her and be able to call her my friend.
“Being in the dark isn’t really so bad when you know you will shine again.”
Since joining BOLLI a few years ago, after a long career in medicine, Steve has been exploring his artistic side. He has been active in both the Writers Guild and CAST (Creativity in Acting, Storytelling, and Theatre) as well as the Book Group and more.
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.
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.
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!
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! (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Author’s note: I began to collect the opening lines from all the emails I have been receiving from companies during the pandemic. I thought it would be fun to put them together like a poem. So, here it is…
For the one who does it all, handles it all, and helps you out, too.
Compiled by Donna Johns
We’re Grateful For You.
You make us … us!
And we’re here for you.
Say goodbye to boredom.
Party at home with playlists.
This One Yoga Pose Could Calm Your Nerves.
To-do list: Organize.
Make a great meal.
Relax and sleep well.
Every day feels like Saturday now.
Go ahead… stay in your jammies!
Make yourself at home.
Is Your Diet Weakening Your Immune System?
Head to the pantry.
Cinnamon-Date Sticky Buns!!
$16.99 SPANX power panties!!!
Now HERE’S something to look forward to…
Say goodbye to boredom.
Let’s Stay Connected: Stronger Together
DONNAis a teacher/librarian, writer of unpublished romance novels, sometime director of community theater and BOLLI member. She has two fantastic faux knees which set off the metal detectors at Fenway Park.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
At my neighbor’s recent socially-distanced cocktail hour, there was talk of the upcoming conventions, and I heard myself say, “I was a delegate to the 1968 Democratic Convention.” a show-stopper statement. Impressed and surprised, the others look at me.I, too, am surprised.Me?In another lifetime. Picture this:
I’m 31 years old;I have lived in Gallup, New Mexico for the past one and one-half years.I have given birth, in January of that year, to our second child, a son, at the Gallup Indian Hospital.It is now March. My older child celebrates her third birthday.Each year for the past 6 years my husband and I have moved cross-country, pursuing his career goals.This year, when my husband’s two years in the Public Health Service are complete, we will move once again–this time to Michigan.Now we are a family of fourpoised to make another cross-country move.At heart, I am a liberal New Yorker, radicalized like so many of my generation by the Vietnam War and the race riots roiling the U.S.I have sent a $5.00 donation to the “Eugene McCarthy for President” campaign.Turns out, I am the only person in all of McKinley County, New Mexico to have sent any donation to this campaign.
At the urging of a cadre (an advertising guy and a few nuns) of out-of-state organizers for the McCarthy campaign, I become “coordinator” for the “Eugene McCarthy for President” campaign in McKinley County.Turns out I have a flair for this sort of thing. (Six years as an English teacher in NYC must have helped.)
My “handlers” suggest organizing strategies with public health service people and with Navajos on the vast reservation, some of which is in New Mexico. They recommend publicity-grabbing actions—accusing the local Dems of picking delegates to the State Democratic convention in Santa Fe on an unsanctioned date, etc. I am surprised to discover that I am good at this!We hold “legal” precinct meetings on and off the reservation on the prescribed date, the first time that a few precincts have met and voted on the Navajo reservation in New Mexico, and I end up leading a delegation of 36 from McKinley County to the State Democratic convention in mid-June.
Here is the “road not taken.”At the convention, I am asked to run for New Mexico’s State Committeewoman.I ask if it will matter that I am going to be living in Michigan in a few weeks?It does matter.I am not eligible.But I am rewarded for my good work and become an alternate delegate to the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago that August.
My husband and I leave our two babies with friends in Ann Arbor.Armed with my delegate badge, we roam the increasingly dangerous streets, and I attend convention caucuses, meet Hubert Humphrey, enter the huge, raucous, smoke and noise filled convention hall.(It doesn’t help that I have a killer of an ear infection, complete with swelling, pain, and pain killers. )
On the night when the presidential candidate is chosen, my husband and I are outside on the streets.The rioting begins.To our eyes, the armed riot police are the instigators.When the demonstrators are unable to get a permit to march, Mayor Daly orders his police force to attack and disperse them.They attack with wooden clubs, in formation, roaring as they race into the crowd of unarmed young demonstrators.We stand in the Conrad Hilton Hotel’s lobby, our faces pressed against the plate glass walls.It’s hot, noisy, and alarming.I want to stay and see the action.I think my delegate’s badge will protect me. It won’t. My husband grabs my hand, and we run back to our hotel where we watch the mayhem on our t.v. screen, listening to the far-off police sirens, and Hubert Humphrey is chosen as the 1968 Democratic candidate .
In the morning, we examine the carnage left behind.The plate glass windows of the Conrad Hilton Hotel have been smashed.Upstairs, at McCarthy headquarters, young people, bleeding and bandaged, lay on the floor, beaten by the police.We leave Chicago and return to our babies, chastened. I never pursue a political career.That period of my life is over.
More than 50 years have passed.I now marvel at the gutsy young woman I was, and I am grateful for that experience.It has helped to form me and my opinions and some actions.Part of me wishes I had stayed in New Mexico and become that State Democratic Committeewoman,an adventure I did not think at the time that I could pursue.Instead, I followed a more conventional path:mother, housewife, teacher, social worker, counselor.Sometimes, I have a flash of activism.With ElaineDohan, I initiated the “Make a Difference” special interest group at Bolli a few years ago.I’d still like to “make a difference.”Wouldn’t you?
Choosing a president this year will likely cause more widespread violence than what we witnessed in Chicago, 1968.Now, as then, the fate of our democracy is at stake.All of us must bear witness.What actions will be effective in our strife-torn, pandemic ridden, democracy?Now that we are so much older, are we any wiser or more effective?Can we make a difference?
“As I grow older,” Eleanor says, “I am more interested in the conditions, changes, services, culture, and even politics affecting me, my husband of over 50 years, and my friends.” To that end, she has led BOLLI study groups focused on aging, immigration, and more. In addition, along with Elaine Dohan, she chairs BOLLI’s political action “Make a Difference” special interest group.
A blog devoted to the interests of BOLLI members and potential members