Tag Archives: Leave it to Lydia

LINES FROM LYDIA: THE BLACK CHAIRS

THE BLACK CHAIRS

Thomas Shields “Seventy-Two Legs”

The black chairs. How many pieces of wood? Do we need to count them or assess the number of joints?

The first time I saw them was in 2007 on my first visit to the Springfield Museums with Brady, my then three-year-old grandson. After a light-hearted morning at the Seuss Sculpture Garden, we focused on the chairs.  Musical chairs.  As I noted the cluster of kids in the room, focused on the plethora of paintings on those five beige walls, the long unemployed teacher in me thought of the chairs as being in a classroom.  That would explain why they were painted black–to hide the fingerprints of children who could have cared less about the art.

Subsequent visits, alone or with the boys, caused me to pause and rethink the blackness of those eighteen chairs. Were they clustered to separate naughty children from those who were quiet and studious? Then, in a throwback to my college years when I had my first friend of color,  Were they merely guilty of being black?   My friend Cookie, a tall and lanky girl from New Jersey, would understand this fleeting rear window view of the 60’s that has brought us to our current political racial divisions.  She is a middle school principal now, keeping peace as retirement and freedom beckon.  God keep her safe in Trenton.

I take a moment to count the chairs again. Still 18. I count the chair legs, some have the standard four while others feature a whimsical three.  Like many of my generation, unable to stand alone, they need conjoined seats.  What are the demographics of conjoined seats?Race – black and non-black ?  Age –  over 30 or under 65?   Gender –   women,  married or single, or men?  Religion – spiritual or agnostic?

Would a carpenter consider these conjoined seats as needing to be dovetailed? I move from chair to chair, testing the stability of each seat and trying on the personality of the person sitting on it.

There is one pair with four conjoined seats and nine legs. Immediately, I think of Bob and Christine, a couple since our freshman year at Worcester State College. The first and maybe the only couple that will celebrate a golden anniversary this year. Their arms and legs alternately stronger, physically or metaphysically, with each dip in the roller coaster of life. Christine lost the use of her left arm following a violent assault by a middle school student some thirty years ago. Her medications are industrial strength. Her surgeries continue on an almost annual basis. Until recently, it had become difficult to visit them because of my discomfort with the compromises that they both make on a daily basis. However, since the deaths of my daughter and mother, I have learned the art–and the value–of compromises in my life.  I will visit them in Florida soon.

I rise again from my seat on the floor and read the signage on the wall. Seventy-Two Legs by Thomas Shields. Meant to seat eight to ten people. How curious to be viewing this work and reading this card when I had mentioned the black chairs to a classmate just two hours ago. Thomas Shields views the world as flat, he says, and that may have been my own opinion eight years ago. Now, I call him a liar.

Having photographed and pondered these chairs, I am now in a different place. Hopefully more mature, and–dare I say–smarter.

I don’t own any black chairs. My six dining chairs have blue denim seat covers. My two desk chairs are Ethan Allen maple, and my Daddy’s antique desk chair is a swivel on casters.

A final glance at the Shields chairs brings a new reality. Non-confirming seats and legs, and yet all of the seat backs are separate. Eighteen seat backs for eighteen souls with separate perspectives, distinct lifestyles, and individual personalities.

Such a minor detail and yet such major truth.

To see more of Thomas Shields “used wood” art installations: go to http://penland.org/programs/resident%20artists/shields.html or click on the image of his “Seventy-Two Legs” above)             

Frequent BOLLI blogger, Lydia Bogar

Lydia, our resident Renaissance woman, shares her unique views and experiences with BOLLI members in this regular BOLLI Matters feature.  Lydia also serves as co-facilitator of the BOLLI Matters crew.

LEAVE IT TO LYDIA: Escaping Our Electronics

ESCAPING OUR ELECTRONICS

MEANING OF LIFE
Hmm…somebody needs a BOLLI Moment…

“Escaping our electronics” is a secondary benefit of the whole BOLLI experience.   In our BOLLI courses, we  seem to be reviving the art of conversation among many of us who became dependent on electronic devices during our career.  How wonderful that we discuss such an amazing variety of issues–global, political, emotional, and personal.   From my standpoint as a relative BOLLI newcomer,  I believe that we are actually raising the art of conversation to a higher level!

My first BOLLI class was The New Yorker Non-Fiction seminar in which a dynamic group discussed issues ranging from (of course) the election to medical ethics.  I found the first couple of classes to be a little intimidating, as I hadn’t participated in such a group for a long time.   But I loved the chosen readings and eventually spoke up–and I found that my voice was heard.  It didn’t matter where I had gone to college or even what my career had been.   I also felt quickly embraced by the BOLLI community and began to get to know some of my classmates.

Classmate Diane Winkleman, for example,  retired last December and wanted to try BOLLI as soon as she saw the ad in the paper.  “I was very excited to find a place that offers so much potential for interesting discussions, people, and new experiences.”  She especially likes the lunch time series and the variety in the classes. Recently,  she’s joined the CAST special interest group and is re-energizing her acting skills.

Suzanne Art’s Three Giants of the Northern Renaissance, an art history course, was Sue Wurster’s first BOLLI class in the Spring of 2015.  At the same time, she dived into 20th Century Women Poets, a five-week science fiction course, and even a five-week course in fiction writing.  “I really want to be a writer when I grow up,”  she says.  “I’ve been writing my whole life–but I had never actually finished anything.  So this was a big step for me.”   As for fellow BOLLI students, she says:  “These are some awesomely smart characters!”

Longtime  member Sandy Harris Traiger, a Brandeis alum, feels that BOLLI has changed her perspective on the world and nurtured her acceptance of different opinions and attitudes. She has been part of BOLLI since 2004 when she took a class taught by Sophie Freud about violence in World War II through literature.  Sandy’s husband joined the following year and, during one class, was reunited with some old friends from elementary school.  Sandy joined the International Friends group and enjoyed getting to know students from the Heller School.   She is very glad that the lunch programs have expanded to include such a diverse collection of timely speakers and issues, “I’m still here and still loving it.”

My first year at BOLLI has been fabulous! I have taken short stories classes, a fascinating literature course with Sophie Freud about adult daughters and their aging mothers, and an exciting memoir writing course with Marjorie Roemer.  I especially appreciated Sophie’s insightful analytical approach to literature as well as Marjorie’s writing.

BOLLI has given me the chance to turn off my devices and let me discover and hear my own voice.

BOLLI Matters Copy Editor and Writer, Lydia Bogar
BOLLI Matters writer Lydia Bogar

 

LEAVE IT TO LYDIA: On the Lighter Side

Season Shifting
Season Shifting

There seems to be an unusual amount of tension in the air.  The weather is changing, and the oil man is visiting for the first time as the seasons shift.  But we can all take heart as we have a host of important, semi-important, and just plain strange things we can look forward to in the coming weeks.  Here are just a few highlights–

Monday October 24th is United Nations Day. Regardless of religion, race, nationality, or political identification, we can all share the hope that refugees/immigrants and stateless people are being fed and have clean water.  Everyone.  Everywhere.

As of Friday October 28th, we will no longer be able to use cash on the Massachusetts Turnpike (the road that our parents finished paying for in 1959).   At midnight, construction crews will begin the 24/7 demolition of the toll booths and their plaza areas, including the underground tunnels used by Turnpike employees.  The work is “expected” to be completed within 30 days.  Yes, that’s right—just in time for Thanksgiving weekend.  Imagine Sturbridge (and the “expected” demolition of its 14 toll booths, seven in each direction) on Wednesday evening, November 23rd.

Perhaps this venture was scheduled for the 28th of October because it is also National Chocolate Day.  There is some kind of nexus there, but unless Hershey bars are free that day, I can’t find it.

chocolate

October 31st  is Halloween, unless your town has moved it to another night in order to supposedly ease  the headaches associated with the sugar high that parents and teachers end up having to cope with on the day after.   And if you are concerned about your own treats, I suggest storing them in an opaque broccoli bag in the freezer.  The grandkids will never find them there.

I dare not delve too deeply into the month of November because the Red Sox aren’t in the World Series, and if there is snow on the ground … well, it might just get ugly.

Speaking of ugly, the Commonwealth, in its infinite wisdom, has chosen the weekend of November 4th through the 6th to close (that’s completely close, as in nada, bupkis) Route 128, the road we love to hate.  And because that is not enough of a sucker punch, we also turn our clocks back on Saturday night November 5th.  November 6th  might be a good time to read every page of the Sunday New York Times because the world—without Route 128 and time having backtracked–will be very different   It could also be a good time to binge watch I Love Lucy episodes–after all, the time to laugh over the cartoons and comedians who have profited from this election cycle will be coming to a close.

And, of course, it could well be time to change the batteries in those smoke detectors and CO alarms.  Which will prepare us for Tuesday November 8th, Election Day.

After a collective deep breath, we will then move to honoring the bravery and sacrifices of our military on Friday November 11th, Veterans Day.   Let’s keep our current soldiers and their families in our prayers that day.

Saturday, November 12th might just be a perfect time to head to the library and stock up on some good books, gas up the car or pick up the phone to order our favorite pies on National Pizza Day.

Screen Shot 2016-10-20 at 6.55.31 PM

And did I mention that it may well be time to change the batteries in the smoke detectors and CO alarms?  (Worked for the State Fire Marshal for 12 years…but I need to be reminded too!)

Lydia Bogar
Lydia Bogar

 

Leave it to Lydia to provide us with entertaining, uplifting items!