Varenyky

Lisa B.

The recipe I’m going to share is Varenyky. That’s the Ukrainian name for them, but they’re also called pierogis or dumplings, and you can buy them in any supermarket. I picked this because growing up in Queens, my best friend’s family was Ukrainian. And we went there quite often, and currently with the war going on, it just brought back a lot of different feelings.

I recently found out that my grandmother was from there—from Ukraine. I didn’t even know that because it was part of a different country.  

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It’s a very flexible dish to make because you can make it sweet or savory. Kind of like JJ’s [Salami and Eggs] —anybody can make it. You can make it gluten-free, or you can make it with flour. You can make it vegan or vegetarian, or you can add meat to it.

You boil the potatoes, or you make whatever your stuffing is and then you roll it out. So you’re using a lot of different senses. And it doesn’t have to be perfect— the shapes don’t have to be perfect. You could be creative and pick a glass to make the shape or a cookie cutter. 

But it reminds me of when I was a kid.  It reminds me of family. It reminds me of different cultures. You know, when I think about Queens, I think about how on your block could be 20 different kinds of people and you just didn’t think twice about it. But that is not something that’s everywhere. And so it really reminds me of growing up.

 ***********

When COVID started, we could not celebrate one of the holidays together. And at the time, my son was living in San Francisco. My daughter was living someplace else. And what I said was, “Let’s all make something that reminds you of growing up, a meal that we all ate together, or a meal that matters to you. But don’t tell each other what you’re making. Just make something and then we’ll get on Zoom at a certain time, and we’ll eat together, but we’ll share what we made.”
And everyone made pierogies and broccoli rabe! Some people had different things along with it, but everybody had those two things. You know, it gives me the chills — you don’t realize what your kids are remembering, but certain things just really stick with people. And this was one of them.

The recipe I'm going to share is Varenyky. That’s the Ukrainian name for them, but they're also called pierogis or dumplings, and you can buy them in any supermarket. I picked this because growing up in Queens, my best friend's family was Ukrainian. And we went there quite often, and currently with the war going on, it just brought back a lot of different feelings...

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MY VARENKY RECIPE STORY

LISA B.

The recipe I’m going to share is Varenyky. That’s the Ukrainian name for them, but they’re also called pierogis or dumplings, and you can buy them in any supermarket. I picked this because growing up in Queens, my best friend’s family was Ukrainian. And we went there quite often, and currently with the war going on, it just brought back a lot of different feelings.

I recently found out that my grandmother was from there—from Ukraine. I didn’t even know that because it was part of a different country.  

***********

It’s a very flexible dish to make because you can make it sweet or savory. Kind of like JJ’s [Salami and Eggs] —anybody can make it. You can make it gluten-free, or you can make it with flour. You can make it vegan or vegetarian, or you can add meat to it.

You boil the potatoes, or you make whatever your stuffing is and then you roll it out. So you’re using a lot of different senses. And it doesn’t have to be perfect— the shapes don’t have to be perfect. You could be creative and pick a glass to make the shape or a cookie cutter. 

But it reminds me of when I was a kid.  It reminds me of family. It reminds me of different cultures. You know, when I think about Queens, I think about how on your block could be 20 different kinds of people and you just didn’t think twice about it. But that is not something that’s everywhere. And so it really reminds me of growing up.

 ***********

When COVID started, we could not celebrate one of the holidays together. And at the time, my son was living in San Francisco. My daughter was living someplace else. And what I said was, “Let’s all make something that reminds you of growing up, a meal that we all ate together, or a meal that matters to you. But don’t tell each other what you’re making. Just make something and then we’ll get on Zoom at a certain time, and we’ll eat together, but we’ll share what we made.”

And everyone made pierogies and broccoli rabe! Some people had different things along with it, but everybody had those two things. You know, it gives me the chills — you don’t realize what your kids are remembering, but certain things just really stick with people. And this was one of them.

The recipe I'm going to share is Varenyky. That’s the Ukrainian name for them, but they're also called pierogis or dumplings, and you can buy them in any supermarket. I picked this because growing up in Queens, my best friend's family was Ukrainian. And we went there quite often, and currently with the war going on, it just brought back a lot of different feelings...

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Walks in the Park

Wanda D.

My name is Wanda, a retiree who works part-time with Brooklyn Public Library’s Services for Older Adults. I was born, raised, and spent all my life so far in Brooklyn, New York. Music is a major part of my healing-through-faith-and-creative-arts journey that also includes creatively aging through Life Story Club, DOROT, and The Creative Center art programs.

One of the best times in my life has been the 11,628 days of marriage! You can search “how many days between two dates,” November 19, 1988, and September 20, 2020 in my case, on www.mathsisfun.com.

“What’s Easy for Two is So Hard for One” was written and produced by Smokey Robinson and released as a single by singer Mary Wells in 1963 for the Motown label, but my late husband and I, the Honeylambs, crooned it from “I do” ‘til death did us part, while taking many walks in the park — sitting, chatting, eating, laughing, fussing, promising, drinking, planning, apologizing, and yeah, stealing kisses too….

Oh, if only parks, playgrounds, benches, and blankets could talk, what sweet succulent secrets and stories they would share.

The lyrics to my selected song, “What’s Easy for Two is So Hard for One,” have resonated much truth these past two years as I’ve struggled with laundry, grocery shopping, household chores, repairs, traveling back and forth, and even doing simple things like changing light bulbs, opening cans or jars, reaching for something high on a shelf, pulling windows up, pushing windows down….

So in loving memories, I dedicate this song to a life well-lived with my late husband, Bill Dobson, who transitioned two months short of what would have been our thirty-second year of unity in love and marriage, going for walks in the park, and stealing little kisses in the dark.

What’s Easy for Two is So Hard for One

By Mary Wells

Well, well, well, well

Let’s get together and go for a walk in the park

And while we’re walking we can steal a little kiss in the dark

I wanna walk with you

I wanna talk with you

But it’s up you to say “Come on baby”

If you don’t hurry up I’ll go crazy

‘Cause a walk in the park all alone is just no fun

What two can easily do, what two can easily do

Is so hard to be done by one

I’m sure that you know that I love you with all of my heart

But a love that’s true really takes two to start

I wanna do my share

To show you that I care

‘Cause a one-sided love will never do

You gotta show me that you love me too

‘Cause falling in love all alone is just no fun

One can build a love affair slowly

Two can build a love affair fast

One can make a love get started

Two can make it last

So come on and take me by the hand

Lead me up to the preacher man

Together we can do all the things that should be done

My name is Wanda, a retiree who works part-time with Brooklyn Public Library’s Services for Older Adults. I was born, raised, and spent all my life so far in Brooklyn, New York. Music is a major part of my healing-through-faith-and-creative-arts journey...

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A Sense of Connectedness

Joyanna K.

My given name is Joanne, and my nickname is Joyanna. That’s how I go these days. I am a woman of a certain age who loves to learn and share. And I like to make people laugh sometimes; I don’t know why they laugh, but I still love to be around people when we’re laughing. I’m originally from Minnesota, dontcha know? Yah, sure, you betcha. Now I live in the heartland of Kansas City, Missouri. I like to say that word, “HEARTLAND.” I enjoy instrumental music, dance music. I’m a dancer – ballroom dance, line dance, circle dance, folk dance. 

I would like to share about the time that I traveled alone. At the age of 20, I left Minnesota in a charter plane and landed in Amsterdam. I traveled north through England over to Norway, through Sweden, Germany, and Italy, and then back home. For four months, I was traveling on my own and meeting people. 

Mark Twain said, “Travel is lethal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrowmindedness.” And I’m so glad I traveled when I was young. That was a very special time. I stayed in hostels and hitchhiked, I did it on a dime, but I felt so wealthy being able to touch all kinds of people. 

In Norway, I went to a place behind the Oslo government building: the Vigeland Gardens. It’s just amazing. It’s a series of sculptures of people in various poses. There’s an obelisk with human beings in various postures all the way up it. It’s very lovingly done. And what I came away feeling from that place was a sense of connectedness with all humankind. 

Then I hooked up with some other women, a couple that were from Calgary and one from Australia called Helen. We had a lot of fun hitchhiking. It’s best to hitchhike with somebody, I guess that’s just common sense. All through my journey, one of the songs that would play at that time was “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” And it seemed to me that the words spoke to an image of higher powers that were all around me as I was traveling alone. 

So, I would like to dedicate this song, “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” to my daughter Gabrielle, so that she knows that at all times, there are beings watching over her: Mother Mary, angels, whomever she connects with. We’re all just walking each other home. Amen.

BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER

By Simon & Garfunkel

When you’re weary, feeling small

When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all

I’m on your side, oh, when times get rough

And friends just can’t be found

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will lay me down

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will lay me down

When you’re down and out

When you’re on the street

When evening falls so hard, I will comfort you

I’ll take your part, oh, when darkness comes

And pain is all around

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will lay me down

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will lay me down

Sail on silver girl

Sail on by

Your time has come to shine

All your dreams are on their way

See how they shine

Oh, if you need a friend

I’m sailing right behind

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will ease your mind

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will ease your mind

My given name is Joanne, and my nickname is Joyanna. That’s how I go these days. I am a woman of a certain age who loves to learn and share. And I like to make people laugh sometimes; I don’t know why they laugh, but I still love to be around people when we’re laughing...

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Plylst Rcrd

Charlie B.

My name is Charlie, 60 yrs old, from the South. Raised on a farm, 33 acres, chickens, cows, corn, peaches, watermelon. Telemarketer. I selected a song to represent my life’s toughest moment.  “Kiss and Say Goodbye” sung by The Manhattans. I dedicate this to my ex-girlfriend & myself.

Plylst Rcrd

You asked me if I loved you. & I choked on my reply. I’d rather hurt you honestly than to hurt U w/ a lie.

We met as innocent star-crossed lovers.

Loving someone other than each other.

Uncertainty & desire forced us together. Right & wrong became blurred. Our spouse, fiancée… was an obstacle overcome by feelings.

If U can’t be w/ the one you love, love the one you’re with. 

If loving U is wrong, I don’t want 2 be right.

That’s Y it was the saddest day of my life. I’ve got bad news. I can’t see U anymore.

That’s Y it was the saddest day of my life when I told U the bad news that I can’t see U anymore.  Freedom, marriage, debts, job, long distance relationship… any excuse will do.  However, none of these mattered before.

Let’s just kiss and say goodbye.

Unimaginable thrills.

Unspeakable pleasures.

Amazing dates. 

I’m gonna miss U.

Inseparable, we were. Joined at the hip.

summer lovin

   winter lovin

        fall lovin

   spring lovin

Repeat.

Y must this be?

Have I taken the road less traveled?

Have I cut off my nose to spite my face?

I don’t want to know the answer. It hurts trying.

Let’s just kiss and say goodbye.

I want to hold U one last time.

Our plans were perfect.

Our vows unbreakable.

Our future a fantasy come true..

How did it come to this? This fateful day. Star-crossed lovers, crossing the Rubicon. 

The die has been cast.

4 better or for worse. Whatever the outcome.

Let’s just kiss and say goodbye.

KISS AND SAY GOODBYE

By The Manhattans

This has got to be the saddest day of my life

I called you here today for a bit of bad news

I won’t be able to see you anymore

Because of my obligations, and the ties that you have

We’ve been meeting here every day

And since this is our last day together

I wanna hold you just one more time

When you turn and walk away, don’t look back

I wanna remember you just like this

Let’s just kiss and say goodbye

I had to meet you here today

There’s just so many things to say

Please don’t stop me ‘til I’m through

This is something I hate to do

We’ve been meeting here so long

I guess what we done, oh, was wrong

Please darlin’, don’t you cry

Let’s just kiss and say goodbye 

Many months have passed us by

I’m gonna miss you, I can’t lie

I’ve got ties, and so do you

I just think this is the thing to do

It’s gonna hurt me, I can’t lie

Maybe you’ll meet, you’ll meet another guy

Understand me, won’t you try, try, try, try, try, try, try?

Let’s just kiss and say goodbye 

I’m gonna miss you, I can’t lie

Understand me, won’t you try?

It’s gonna hurt me, I can’t lie

Take my handkerchief, wipe your eyes

Maybe you’ll find, you’ll find another guy

Let’s kiss and say goodbye, pretty baby

Please, don’t you cry

Understand me, won’t you try?

Let’s just kiss

And say goodbye

My name is Charlie, 60 yrs old, from the South. Raised on a farm, 33 acres, chickens, cows, corn, peaches, watermelon. Telemarketer. I selected a song to represent my life’s toughest moment.  “Kiss and Say Goodbye” sung by The Manhattans. I dedicate this to my ex-girlfriend & myself...

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It Was Beautiful, Too

Sharon L.

My name is Sharon and I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. I currently live in its Bedford Stuyvesant section. I am a senior who loves music, and can’t imagine a world without it. I am also a swimmer. My passion is reading and writing poetry and stories. This story is dedicated to my oldest son, Shane.

I want to share one of the best times in my life, and the song that accompanied it, “In the Rain” by The Dramatics, which came out in 1971. 

One of the best times of my life was giving birth to my firstborn child, my son Shane. I was in Kings County Hospital in the labor room, about to have him. Although it was painful and I was struggling and screaming with pain, it was beautiful too. 

It was pouring rain outside that day and that song was playing in the nursing station: “In the Rain.” I remember the soothingness that came upon me when they placed him in my arms, and I came face to face with him. It was as if those earlier pains and the struggling never existed.

IN THE RAIN

By The Dramatics

I wanna go outside in the rain

It may sound crazy

But I wanna go outside in the rain

But I think I’m gonna cry

I don’t want you to see me cry

I wanna go outside in the rain

It may sound crazy

But I wanna go outside in the rain

Once the rain starts fallin’ on my face

You won’t see a single trace 

But the tears I’m cryin’

Because of you I’m cryin’ 

Don’t want you to see me cry

Let me go, let me go, let me go

In the rain

Once the sun comes out

And the rain is gone away

I know I’m gonna see a better day

But right now I think I’m cryin’ 

Because of you I’m cryin’ 

Don’t want you to see me cry 

Let me go, let me go, let me go

In the rain

It may sound crazy, I said it may sound crazy

But I wanna go outside in the rain

I wanna go outside, I wanna go outside 

I don’t want you to see me cry

I got to walk out the door, I can’t stand it no more

I got to go outside, yeah yeah

My name is Sharon and I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. I currently live in its Bedford Stuyvesant section. I am a senior who loves music, and can’t imagine a world without it...

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Something Profound

Malang S.

I’m from Hong Kong originally. I came to this country to go to college and art school. Since my college years, I always loved the song “Let It Be,” because every time I’m down, it lifts my spirits. And I dedicate this song to Mr. Smarlo Ma, my father.

My father and I had a really long relationship. He came to this country in the 1980s, when he was in his 60s. He’s a very complicated person. So, my life all of a sudden became very complicated, in addition to raising two kids and a career and everything else. We had a very deep relationship, but also a complicated relationship because I was so young then, and I had no experience in dealing with an aging parent. And nobody imagined that he’d lived to 103.

When he came here, he had a mental breakdown right away, in his 60s. He had a very interesting life, but he was very pressured in a lot of ways. So, you know, he’d probably figured: ‘I’m coming to my daughter, I can relax.’ After that, there were all kinds of things happening. He had a new family. He started his career again. He’s a writer, so he knows a lot of people internationally.

Then he ended up in all kinds of facilities like assisted living. He had surgery and after that, he wasn’t walking at all. In his last 10 years, he was in a wheelchair in a nursing home. He just passed away about a year and a half ago. I was very protective of him during the last few years. We went through so many problems together.

Two years before he died, he had a very minor foot injury. And, unfortunately, people at that age have circulation problems. So, the minor scratch on his foot became infected and became gangrene. It was really bad; it smells bad, it looks bad. 

So, the doctors insisted on giving him an amputation. But, at the time he was in comfort care and I told him, “No, sit.” I said, “No way, they’re not gonna cut this foot off.” Because, first of all, the surgery itself is not going to be painless, right? I don’t want to get too graphic. So, I had a big fight with the establishment and I insisted. I said, “No. Just give him painkillers, ok? And make him comfortable.” He was in comfort care anyway. 

So, finally, he healed! Yeah. And nothing happened to his foot. And then when he passed away, his friends gave him a big, big, big memorial. And I was there, and I was looking at him, and I was thinking: ‘I’m so glad I kept him in one piece.’ I was very proud of myself.

This song, “Let It Be,” is a very profound concept, right? Just let it go. Whatever problems that you have, it’s like the weather, the sunshine, and the rain, you know? It’ll come, it’ll pass, just let it go. You can have a difficult life, but it’s beautiful.

LET IT BE

By The Beatles

When I find myself in times of trouble

Mother Mary comes to me

Speaking words of wisdom – Let it be

And in my hour of darkness

She is standing right in front of me

Speaking words of wisdom – Let it be

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be

Whisper words of wisdom – Let it be

And when the broken-hearted people

Living in the world agree

There will be an answer – Let it be

For though they may be parted there is

Still a chance that they will see

There will be an answer – Let it be

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be

Yeah, there will be an answer – Let it be

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be

Whisper words of wisdom – Let it be

And when the night is cloudy

There is still a light that shines on me

Shine until tomorrow – Let it be

I wake up to the sound of music

Mother Mary comes to me

Speaking words of wisdom – Let it be

Let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah, let it be

Whisper words of wisdom – Let it be

I’m from Hong Kong originally. I came to this country to go to college and art school. Since my college years, I always loved the song “Let It Be,” because every time I’m down, it lifts my spirits. And I dedicate this song to Mr. Smarlo Ma, my father...

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