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🍅New vegans are sprouting up every day🌸 – what about you?🌹

By Heather Moore

Rose’s Cece waiting for dinner! photo: R.T.

Has your New Year’s resolution to eat healthier already fallen by the wayside? Did you forget about your pledge to participate in “Veganuary” before breakfast on January 1? If so, don’t be discouraged. It’s not too late. Interest in vegan living remains high, including among more than a third of U.S. adults, according to a Wakefield Research survey. More and more people are realizing that they can lose weight, reduce their risk of suffering from life-threatening diseases, help animals and combat the climate crisis and other environmental problems by eating vegan foods rather than animal-based ones. I suspect that’s why a record-breaking number of people — one every 2.4 seconds — signed up to take part in Veganuary on January 1, 2023, alone. If you lost your resolve to go vegan earlier in the year, now’s a good time to march into a vegan way of life.

I went vegan 31 years ago. I still remember an amusing conversation I had with an acquaintance a few years later. When I told him how long I’d been vegan, he exclaimed, “Wow, you must really like salad!” I explained that although I enjoy vegan versions of chicken, tuna and egg salad as well as potato salad, pasta salad and, yes, leafy green salad, vegans eat much more than “salad,” including veggie burgers and other foods from vegan-friendly companies.

There are plenty of tasty foods to eat after you ditch meat, eggs and dairy. These days, new vegan products are coming out left and right. Ben & Jerry’s, for example, recently introduced two more vegan flavors — Lights! Caramel! ACTION! and Oatmeal Dream Pie. Both Babybel and Laughing Cow now make vegan cheese rounds, and Boursin is selling dairy-free spreadable cheese. Lindt unveiled tasty oat milk chocolate bars, and Hellmann’s is one of the many mayonnaise manufacturers that offer a vegan variety. MorningStar Farms teamed up with Eggo to produce the vegan Chik’n & Eggo Liège Style Waffle Sandwich, and Beyond Meat, the maker of the popular Beyond Burgers, has also started selling vegan Beyond Steak and other animal-free products.

Wholesome foods like fruit, veggies, beans, nuts and grains are versatile vegan staples, and there are simple ways to incorporate vegan foods into your daily routine. For breakfast, skip bacon and eggs and eat tofu scramble and tempeh bacon, oatmeal with almond milk and blueberries, toast with nut butter and fruit preserves or a fruit smoothie. At lunch, have curried chickpeas rather than chicken flesh or vegetable fajitas instead of meat-based ones. For dinner, enjoy spaghetti and marinara sauce with vegan meatballs, black bean and corn chili, veggie sushi or lentil and spinach soup, or whip up some stir-fried vegetables or a hearty vegetable risotto. It doesn’t take much effort, even if you, like me, aren’t crazy about cooking.

If you haven’t already gone vegan, don’t wait another minute. It’s easy, and you know it’s the compassionate, environmentally friendly, healthy choice. If you want more information, tips and recipes, PETA offers a free vegan starter kit …
Vegan baking cheat sheet. PETA


By Rosalie Tirella

“Ma,” left, and her big sis.

Green Island kitchen … our Lafayette Street flat, a half century ago: My mom, left, a few days after she got home from Memorial Hospital on Bell Hill. She had given birth to my kid sisters (twins) and was wiped out. So my aunt (pictured here), Ma’s big sister, left her husband, two kids and Doberman pinscher on the other side of town and came down to help Ma with me (just 1 1/2 years old) and her two new born girls. My father had disappeared after the birth of my sisters. The going was too rough for him: dirty diapers, breast feeding in the middle of the night, three wee ones crying, my sisters so tiny and vulnerable (they were “preemies” who might not have survived). Ma was left holding the parenting bag. My aunt, who knew what my father was but never berated my mom for her choices, stepped in to save the day.

(Notice the Jesus picture above the old refrigerator in the original photo. Notice it in my apartment today, its old tin frame painted brown decades ago. Ma prayed to that Jesus picture – directly, with an earnest heart, “blessing” herself before it at least twice daily – all through my childhood.)

Jesus picture in Rose’s house. photos: R.T.

But Ma was a romantic, despite all her trials and tribulations and unanswered prayers. And she was an optimist. She didn’t resent us kids because we were a lot of work but loved us because we were cute, engaging, fun to dress up and, most of all, loved her back. Mostly on her terms. From baby-hood I can remember her singing love songs to me in the kitchen. All the songs she grew up with and adored, many country-tinged: “Jambalaya,” the Hank Williams version. “You are My Sunshine,” more Hank Williams. “April Showers” – she had the original Al Jolson record! (flip side, “Mule Train,” I think). Sad Polish tunes that her mother, my Bapy, had taught her or that she had learned in church. Ma loved Elvis, polkas, Chuck Berry, Dean Martin and the Beatles, but her #1 singer was Patti Page, a 1950s warbler who was very popular during the Eisenhower era. Ma used to go around the house singing Page’s biggest hit, “Tennessee Waltz.” All the time. She’d sing it to us kids over and over again in her deep, sexy but not very pretty singing voice (she had an amazing speaking voice … she belonged in some Frank Sinatra movie sipping a gin and tonic.)

Page’s greatest hits

I’m listening to “The Tennessee Waltz” now. I am playing my Patti Page Greatest Hits album that I picked up at a yard sale several years ago – the lp with Patti on the cover singing over some sheet music and looking elegant in her white, strapless evening gown – listening to the record I never even bothered putting on my turntable once! Too cornball for me!

Playing Patti in the country, today.

Now here I am … singing along with Patti Page! Moved by an old country standard. Funny: I know “The Tennessee Waltz” by heart! Every single word and note! It’s as if I were singing The Pledge of Allegiance! The tune imprinted on my heart 60 years ago by my mom. Such a sad, pretty song for such a sad, pretty mother! Young and so poor with three babies and a good looking but wayward husband, a husband she would never stop wanting and loving.

Now I see why The Tennessee Waltz became the theme song of my babyhood. Now I see why I had bought the LP: it was for the song, for my dead mother, the real fan, who would have sung The Tennessee Waltz to her child, but mostly to herself, to soothe her own soul. Ma never complained to anyone about anything. I saw her cry just three times in my entire life. It was through music that my mother expressed her emotions, through songs, through singing. Paul McCartney, Tony Bennett, Patti Page … they were Ma’s soulmates. “I remember the night and the Tennessee Waltz/an old friend I happened to see/I introduced her to my darling/and while they were dancing/my friend stole my sweetheart from me.”

Says it all.



The song:


By Rosalie Tirella

The videocassette of SHANE. photos: R.T.

SHANE. Such a terrific film. Such graceful performances. So many complex feelings and complicated conversations. Mystery made extra haunting because the action unfolds against the Teton mountains in Wyoming, filmed so beautifully. (Shane won the 1953 Oscar for best cinematography). You can learn some American history watching SHANE – open range cattlemen being supplanted by the new homesteaders; hired gun fighters being replaced by the rule of law. But there’s so much more to this 1953 Western directed by George Stevens and starring Alan Ladd. Mostly you can learn about love – the cozy, deep, familial kind and the exotic, exciting, restless kind. The unrequited kind and the kind that comes with rose-gold satin wedding gowns and forever vows.

Little Joey, Marian and Joe Starett

The film begins with Shane, a tanned, handsome Ladd wearing a fringed buckskin outfit, riding onto the property of homesteader Joe Starett – Van Heflin – and his wife Marion – Jean Arthur. The Staretts, farmers in the middle of their work day, look grubby. Ladd, arguably the territory’s fiercest gunfighter, looks glamorous. Naturally, the Staretts’ little boy, Joey, is starstruck by this very cool interloper. And for all his sex appeal, Shane is a super sensitive type, sensing the boy’s curiosity, innocence – and sweetness. He likes him. So he rides right up to Joey, who’s sitting on a fence, and says, “You were watching me for a while, weren’t you boy?” Joey sits quietly, with his head down, too shy to answer Shane. Shane reassures him: “I like a man who watches things…It means he’ll make his mark some day.”

Joey lifts up his head, smiling …

Shane sees Marian through the cabin window and is immediately attracted, drawn to a love, a life, he’s probably never known. I believe Marian is attracted to Shane, too. After all, it’s Marian who asks her husband to ask Shane to stay for dinner and spend the night. This happens after a misunderstanding surrounding Joey’s unloaded rifle and a startled Shane showing his true gunslinger instincts. Shane is slight, not very tall. Alan Ladd had a movie career full of standing on platforms to look as tall as costars or costars standing in trenches to look shorter than Ladd. In SHANE director Stevens let’s him just be, and it adds to Ladd’s portrayal of the taciturn gunfighter, gives Shane another dimension. After all, it’s more about brains than brawn. We see the physical puniness of Shane, yet marvel how it’s erased by his self-confidence, skill and sheer guts. He has a quiet lethality all his own.

Yet something in Marian’s serving of the slices of homemade pie, after her home-cooked dinner … pie with fresh coffee, with the special dessert forks … the quiet beauty and goodness of wife and mother Marian that moves Shane. After dinner – during which Shane furtively catches glimpses of Marian cooking over the hot stove, pouring the coffee at the supper table, serving a slice of pie to her son – Shane walks to the window and then to the seated Marian and thanks her: “It was an elegant dinner, Mrs. Starett.” Now it’s our turn to realize Shane is the elegant one here. Shane the poet, for whatever reasons, has made his living by his fancy gun.

How did such a man end up leading such a murderous life?

Now, seeing Marian, loving Joey, too, Shane – who’s handsome enough to have had any woman during his travels – realizes what he’s been missing, what he really wants. When husband Joe asks Shane during supper, “Where you headed?” Shane, his eyes sheepishly settling on Marian, says: “Some place I’ve never been.”

It’s a snow day: watch the film!

Marian understands. Husband Joe, a good, decent man full of integrity and honesty and his own brand of bravery, is a bit clueless here and grunts his approval before taking another bite of a chicken wing.

The Ryker brothers, the open range cattlemen hell bent on busting up the Staretts and the other homesteaders’ farms so they can run their thousands of head of cattle to market and to graze, are getting more aggressive with Joe and friends. They want these newbies OUT of their world. So they bully them and destroy their farms bit by bit: tear down fences one day, run their steer over planted crops another day. They kill a family’s sow sucking her piglets. The head Ryker boy eventually hires a professional gunfighter, Wilson – another Shane, only sadistic – played by Jack Palance – to murder Joe. Ryker knows that with leader Joe dead the other homesteaders will crumple.

So it’s up to Joe Starett – says Joe – to fight Ryker and save everybody. But he doesn’t know there’s a professional gunslinger – Wilson – waiting for him at Grafton’s general store and saloon. Shane knows what Joe’s up against and tells him he’s no match for Wilson. He’ll do the killing for Joe…and for Marian and Little Joey, whom he grows to love more and more each day. And the other homesteaders. Joe has hired Shane to help him on the farm, and Shane has gotten to know and like the other hardworking families. Shane, who respects Joe, has been staying on as his farm hand/ laborer … and friend. During this time Shane’s feelings for Marian grow stronger, and she senses she is falling for Shane, too.

What if your soulmate rides up to your family farm one day – and makes you feel feelings you never felt before? What if looking out a rain-streaked window, you see him, the one, hat on head, leather jacket soaked, his handsome face drowning in rain drops, looking back at you. You. The only one … with such sadness and longing. But you’re a mother. And you’ve been married for 10 years to a good man who loves and respects you and provides for you. What can you do but tell your little boy: “Don’t get to liking Shane too much …”

“Why not, Ma?”

“Because some day he’ll be moving on, and you’ll be upset.”

Then you blow out the flame in your lamp, and all of a sudden it’s dark.

What if …?

🙏Remember the earthquakes’ overlooked victims and survivors🐕🐈‍⬛🦜🐎🐈🐕‍🦺

By Michelle Reynolds

As we open our hearts and wallets to the victims of the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, let’s not forget about those who often go unmentioned: Animals.

Before the earthquakes began, animals were reportedly behaving strangely: Seemingly panicked birds were flying erratically, and dogs howled. Although unsubstantiated, these claims aren’t surprising. Observational studies of many different species have shown that animals’ ability to sense earthquakes before they occur is superior to that of seismology equipment. Animals are intelligent in ways that we’ll likely never fully understand, and tragedies like this have a significant impact on them, too.

Beloved dogs, cats and other companions were curled up in beds and on rugs when their worlds were shattered. Due to the scope of the devastation, many stray animals, who were already struggling to survive on the streets, are in danger of starving to death before rescue teams can reach them. Animals trapped on farms, including working horses and donkeys, and wild animals also suffered when the ground beneath them split open and the buildings surrounding them collapsed. Many are now displaced, injured or searching for their loved ones. All are traumatized. These victims, too, need reassurance, kindness, shelter from the bitter cold, food, water and medical care. Local animal protection groups are inundated with calls for help.

PETA’s Global Compassion Fund is providing a network of animal organizations throughout the area with financial support, and PETA U.K. is on the ground in devastated Kahramanmaraş. Working with shelters and volunteers, they’ve been able to rescue many animals, including 40 birds who were trapped in a pet shop basement that was teetering on the brink of collapse. The team transports injured animals seven hours to the closest open veterinary clinic in Adana before heading back. They’re also delivering food and water to animals who’ve been without both for days. This disaster occurred while just across the Black Sea, PETA Germany and its partners in Ukraine continued to carry out vital rescue efforts there, helping abandoned and injured animals on the front lines of the war. For months, these heroes — organizations and brave volunteers — have been risking their lives to save animals from battle-torn areas and transport them to a temporary shelter in Poland, partner shelters in other countries and foster and adoptive homes. They’ve come to the aid of animals hit by bullets, left behind by families forced to flee and carried to the borders by heartbroken guardians in the hope that someone will give them a better life. Rescuers have saved thousands of animals so far. Those in Turkey and Syria will also likely need help for several months.

As we each determine the best way we can help following this tragedy, let’s give all the victims the consideration they deserve. And as the images of tents and piles of rubble fade from our television screens and news of the earthquakes falls from the headlines, let’s not forget them. Let’s continue to do what we can and continue to ensure that our kindness includes all kinds.

🏘️THE OLD WORCESTER: Bohemian Rhapsody!❤️

By Rosalie Tirella

Rose’s Ward Street digs! Photo: R.T.

Still my all time best digs: a gorgeous fourth floor apartment (two bedrooms) on Ward Street in Worcester’s lower Vernon Hill neighborhood. Chef Joey’s dad’s building. Totally revitalized by Skippy, the family’s long time carpenter, so I got to enjoy real tile squares in the bathroom, sleek hardwood floors, a view of Worcester from my kitchen windows that slayed me every night when I pushed back my sweet kitchen curtains back to look for the steeple of Saint John’s Church, lit up and a perfect white against the cobalt sky. Like all three decker flats there were lots of windows and the kitchen was big. Bonuses: a new gas stove, plus the original pocket door, mahogany, still functional and beautiful. Old Joe Cancelmo installed an extra wood bar in my hall, running the entire length of my hallway, so I could hang up all my coats, jackets and coat sweaters (dozens). I remember the day he and Skippy came up to install it: Skippy scrawny from drink and the cancer; Joe hearty and healthy and confident from money and success. Mr. Cancelmo, as I called him, was an insurance salesman and Woo landlord with many three deckers and buildings under his belt when he and his wife Helene were younger. Now, both in their mid-80s, they were down to four or five Woo buildings. Mr. Cancelmo gave me my first gin and tonic when I visited him and Helene to sign the apartment lease. I had never been asked if I wanted a gin and tonic upon entering someone’s apartment to sign a lease – very continental! And very understand because the senior Cancelmos lived in Southern France – outside Cannes – for half the year and just grooved in a different way than we chaotic Americans. I remember Mr. Cancelmo was wearing a black cap, almost a beret, over his white hair and had a very nice coat. Skippy was wearing a windbreaker that flapped in the breeze. He was borderline homeless for years. Both men died several years ago.

I set up my bedroom in the living room of 48 Ward St. to take advantage of the room’s roundness and three huge windows. I was so happy with all the sunlight pouring in, all my fur babies sleeping with me on that big old bed at night, all my music and a small bookcase filled with my favorite books just at the finger tip. Three strings of twinkly lights were wrapped around the bed’s headboard I had fashioned from a curtain rod and sheer draperie panel. My vintage sheath dress hung elegantly from the window. A big old painting that a biz class pal had painted and given me 20 years ago still hadn’t been donated to the Salvation Army thrift store on Cambridge Street.

More girly than what I have today. Obviously, I mourn the Blackstone River Road theft of my audio cassettes – and my wavy CD stand! – but with a few tweaks, this bedroom in the country could also be perfect Rose Room.

I stopped kidding myself: The days of being creative, living a free, artsy, boho life in Worcester’s older neighborhoods, in nice apartments where you could write short stories, paint, make music and maybe substitute teach on the side to pay your small, manageable bills are over. Worcester’s older three deckers in its old ethnic neighborhoods like Green Island, Vernon Hill, Main South, Piedmont, Quinsigamond Village are no longer priced for us bohemians – or working class families. Having sophisticated old landlords who insist on mixing you a gin and tonic as you sign the paperwork? Forget about it!

The developers are here slicing and dicing the old three deckers and charging exorbitant rents for a quarter of the space. Trying to refashion itself as an artsy city, the new Worcester has actually pushed artistes out. There are no cheap tenements for painters, musicians and writers to ply their trades, to develop as artists. Even if it’s only to find out it’s a hard way to live! So Chalk it Up to youth! Chalk it up to idealism … and become a full time teacher and savor the memories of exploration and dreams! Now, today in Worcester? You’ve got a hollowed out, ugly Downtown…an overpriced, over-built Canal District. The old great restaurants, cheap yet culinary treasures, are gone. Poof! The funky three deckers and airy light filled apartments with the old ethnic landlords who weren’t greedy but emotionally tied to their property! Because they grew up in the building or their wife was born on the first floor or their sister still lives on the second floor and sometimes his wife still dreams about the old Perry Ave apartment even though now they live in a nice single family house on the other side of town …

My entire InCity Times newspaper writing adventure got started in Worcester almost a quarter of a century ago because the city was so inexpensive – housing, cool eateries, shops – you name it. I never felt poor as a young woman banging out InCity Times every two weeks in Worcester, from various three decker flats in the city, but I was! But I was happy. Writing, reading, editing stories, selling ads, delivering my papers, working with other writers just as thrilled as I was to have a forum … A blast! I didn’t feel deprived in any way because I was living in Worcester, my hometown – a city where you could chase your crazy dreams. For cheap.

💐Peter Stefan – forever in style!💐


By Rosalie Tirella

stefan oct 18
Peter, outside his funeral home. Photos: R.T.

Thinking of the late, great Peter Stefan, the powerhouse behind a Main South funeral home, a swinging saxophone player, a writer of corny jokes, an inveterate flirt and a great friend. Thinking about how many people Peter would have saved this winter, if he were still alive. Thinking about how he would have shaped the City’s conversation around tiny houses for the poor, homeless villages and City-run homeless camps or converting hotels to affordable studio apartments for the homeless. Peter would have advocated for them all – loudly, intelligently, passionately and with the tenacity of an old pitbull with his favorite shoe lodged firmly between mighty upper and lower jaw.

I am thinking about what I saw…the homeless guy sleeping on the grates outside the courthouse in Downtown Worcester, just yards away from the theater with all its patrons rushing to their cars in the garage after the show… running as a cop stood in the crosswalk and stopped traffic so they could cross the street, get to their cars in minutes because it was so cold out… meanwhile a homeless man wrapped in a nylon comforter slept on a grate. Just yards away. I’m thinking about the opioid-addicted young woman, shoeless, bent over and holding a long piece of metal, gripping it so tight in the Canal District. Had she shot up? Was the drug killing her – not making her high, not making her forget? Her pain was so obvious. Everyone on Millbury Street could see… And the senior citizen who couldn’t afford his insulin this winter and unlike prior winters couldn’t knock on Peter’s big heavy Victorian front door and ask for his help … and get it.

Peter, if he knew about any suffering, man or beast, would step in and get to rescuing. I mean pronto. In his prime, up until his late 70s really, he was his own social service agency, the most hands-on Good Samaritan in Worcester. He’d drive to crime scenes to pick up burned bodies …then give the usually homeless person a wake at his Main South funeral home. The body would often be cremated for free. … Or Peter would fund the Worcester Senior Center podiatry clinic. Or he’d start a school supplies drive in the fall, out of his funeral home, for poor neighborhood kids going back to school. Or he’d be out driving a car-load of sweets and loaves of fresh bread from Nissan’s bakery/wholesale shop in Green Island to the PIP shelter on Charlton Street – treats for the often drunk, stoned, “actively using” homeless PIP clients who were often sprawled out on the floor by the entrance way. Peter would enter the PIP, make the donation to PIP Executive Director Buddy Brousseau, another terrific person, and together – because Peter was on the PIP’s board of directors – they’d hash out solutions to a few of this week’s crises. As Peter reminded me and Worcester at every turn: all homeless folks, everyone who’s shooting up in some stairwell or stumbling drunk in the Canal District and may be hungry and exhausted “has a mother and a father. Everyone is someone’s son or daughter.” Peter always saw the person drowning in his or her addiction, and he acted with love because he knew the person was in pain.

I miss my friend today! So much! When good people die they leave a hole in your heart, in the community’s soul, too. No one can quite replace them, their special way of helping, relating to people and animals. In my case, it was often a cute smile, a bawdy joke or two, a stroking of Lilac’s floppy ears and referring to Jett as “The Little Charm” – and then his ad $ donation. And InCity Times/CECELIA lived to fight another day.

For so many, it’s a colder winter without Peter Stefan …

🎂Duncan Hines Cherry Supreme Birthday Cake🎂

By Rosalie Tirella

Earlier today. Photo: R.T.

My mom’s birthday was the 22nd, just a few days ago. Maybe that’s why, when out grocery shopping a few hours ago, I gravitated to the Duncan Hines Strawberry Supreme cake mix in the bakers aisle. When we were little kids growing up in Green Island Ma always made Duncan Hines Cherry Supreme cake for our birthdays. I think she liked the pink cake for her little girls.

Her formula never failed: at the kitchen table, wearing the old orange half apron that my sister sewed for her at the Girls Club on Winthrop Street … Very serious … No talking to Ma to spoil her concentration … And no running or jumping when the cake was in the old gas oven – it might “drop.”

First the cake mix, eggs, water and vegetable oil coming together in her one and only big mixing bowl – a pale green one in which she did all her mixing: Betty Crocker boxed brownies, homemade chocolate chip cookies – and our Duncan Hines Cherry Supreme birthday cakes. That was my mother’s sweet-baking repertoire. All through my childhood, she never strayed from the tried and true. No coconut cream pies or apple turnovers or exotic ingredients like lemon rind for Ma. She had found her baking niche and was comfortable in it and stayed in that Eisenhower era groove until we were in high school.

I always watched Ma make my birthday cake and licked our big green mixing bowl after she poured the pink, fragrant batter into her two square cake tins. She only had the two. No Bundt cake pan or round cake pans for us…we were so poor! But Ma did splurge for three cupcake tins at White’s Five and Ten on Millbury Street. She used them to make Duncan Hines Cherry Supreme cupcakes for our school bake sales at Lamartine Street School. To have my pretty mother walking down Lafayette Street with us (we never had a car), to our school!, with a dress box full of her Duncan Hines Cherry Supreme cupcakes, all neatly lined up like kids coming into Lamartine after recess, beautifully arranged – my mother was a perfectionist – on a layer or two of “wax paper,” well, my sisters and I were so proud! We ran around our mother giggling. We looked up at her now beaming face and vied for her attention and approval. Our mother had the most beautiful smile to go with the most beautiful cupcakes!

Rose’s mom, CECELIA, in her youth. Bridgette, one of her beloved Dobbies, was her favorite dog of all time!

After delivering the treats to our classroom at Lamartine or the school auditorium, wherever parents were supposed to drop off their baked goods, Ma would turn to the front door and then walk out of our school, down Grosvenor Street and up Lafayette to the drycleaners on Millbury Street, where she was a “counter girl” for 60 hours a week. For minimum wage. 40 hours regular pay check. Twenty hours under the table for cash. Our father was a bum who decided supporting a wife and three kids cramped his style. So he contributed pretty much … nothing. No money towards rent or the gas bill, no little gifts for Ma or us kids, not even a kind word or two, and definitely no birthday presents for anybody. Ever. Hell, he never once watched any of his three girls blow out the candles on their Duncan Hines Cherry Supreme birthday cakes. We never missed him!

Rose’s kid sister in her party dress

Back to baking…Then Ma, in our big old kitchen, would take a box of Pillsbury chocolate frosting mix out of our kitchen cubbard – a tall white metal medicine cabinet, second hand, our father had picked up during his junk travels, the one whose right door was always flinging open – and she would make the frosting expertly by adding softened butter to the dark powder – in a large cereal bowl. Voila! Smooth, creamy chocolate frosting – which I also tasted. Then Ma would frost the cool cakes after she had carefully placed one on top of the other. A double decker dream cake! Then she’d grab a small jar of bright red happy maraschino cherries out of the refrigerator – she had bought them special for decorating the cake – and cut the cherries in half with a steak knife. Then she’d place the cherries all along the top border of the frosted cake and on its sides, too. Finally, the special pink plastic flower birthday candle holders that she used year after year would make their appearance and she’d artfully arrange the candle holders on the cake, each holder representing one year. And then the five and ten cent store candles from White’s. Always new. Always a soft pink, green, yellow and blue …

Bapy … not too happy on birthday party day!

And then Ma leading us, her girls, in the Happy Birthday song after we had eaten our dinner. Cake time! Often Ma would throw a birthday party for us and invite her two sisters and their husbands and kids, our cousins, over to help us celebrate. Bapy, our Polish immigrant grandmother, lived with us, so she never missed a birthday party. All the noise and people grated on her nerves. … Then out came my mother’s cute pin the tail on the donkey game. Taped to our beige kitchen wall. Out came my purple taffeta party dress with the lilac ribbon for a belt. Out came the dozen or so party hats and paper horns from White’s Five and Ten. My aunts had married into the middle class and lived in nice homes in the Burncoat area and across from Hadwen Park. We were poor and living in an old three decker on Lafayette Street. But you wouldn’t have known it if you’d heard the laughter and the joking, watched us kids play happily together or the grownups flirt and make fun … and ate a slice of my mother’s Duncan Hines Cherry Supreme birthday cake, with maraschino cherries on top.
Rose and her two kid sisters, in the Lafayette Street “parlor,” mid-1960s.

🙏Worcester’s Temporary Shelter at Blessed Sacrament Church💒

By Lorie Martiska

On December 19, 2022, a new temporary winter shelter for people experiencing homelessness opened at the Phelan Center at Blessed Sacrament Church on Pleasant Street in Worcester. The shelter project was a collaboration between the City of Worcester, Blessed Sacrament Church, the United Way of Central Mass and Open Sky Community Services. Open Sky is operating the shelter.

Homelessness is a pervasive challenge in Worcester and across the state and country. For people who are unsheltered during the cold weather months, the risk of injury or death from exposure rises dramatically. In Worcester, the situation was worsened by the closure of a shelter. For these reasons, a group of concerned agencies assembled with the City of Worcester in the fall, to discuss the upcoming winter.

Why isn’t the former St. Paul’s School on Chatham Street converted into safe housing/ affordable studios for Worcester’s homeless youth? Only four or five people work out of this HUGE, grand beautiful building! It used to be a Catholic school filled with a couple of hundred students and staff! Bathrooms, hardwood floors, beautiful rooms, a basement with rooms … all in pristine condition. photos+cutlines: Rose T.

After multiple options were explored, the parish council at Blessed Sacrament Church, led by Father Tom Landry, agreed to approve the request to use the Phelan Center as a temporary winter shelter on November 28, 2022. A community meeting was convened on December 11, and representatives from the shelter and several City Councilors attended the Newton Hill Neighborhood group meeting later that week.

Mini homeless camp on Millbury Street in Worcester’s Canal District.

While some neighbors expressed concern about the shelter location, since the shelter has opened, there are more offers of donations and support than complaints. The Shelter Director, Maydee Morales, and Shelter Operations Manager Nahani Meuse, as well as Open Sky leaders continue to make themselves available to residents and businesses in the neighborhood to answer questions and address any concerns that may arise. In addition, Open Sky is sharing a neighborhood update newsletter with the community and will be co-hosting another neighborhood meeting with the City of Worcester later in January.

Staying warm in downtown Worcester.

The shelter staff have invited guests to join them on trips outdoors in the neighborhood to clean up trash, with a goal of making it clear that the shelter wants to be a good neighbor and contribute positively to the community. Guests are also required to sign a Good Neighbor Policy and are not permitted to congregate outside the shelter. Smoking breaks are scheduled and guests are accompanied by staff.

The use of alcohol and other substances is not permitted in the shelter or on the grounds. Onsite security is provided 24/7 by Jet Security.

The model of the shelter, which is open 24 hours a day, is to offer a wide range of supportive services in addition to a warm bed and three meals a day. Guests are offered medical care, housing navigation resources, connections to benefits, recovery supports, mental health services, employment services, access to substance use treatment, clothing and more. There are four showers in a mobile trailer, and guests’ clothes are washed at no charge by an area laundromat.

Homeless in the Canal District.

Within four hours of opening on December 19, the shelter had reached capacity at 60 guests. Every day people arrive seeking shelter. Although these additional people cannot be accommodated as shelter guests, the staff meet with each person and call other shelters and resources to help them find a safe place to stay.

Donations of warm clothing, brand new undergarments in various sizes, shoes, boots and non-perishable snacks, as well as games and activities are welcome. Contact or to discuss donations and offers to volunteer at the Shelter.

The shelter is funded by the State of Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development.

Open Sky Community Services is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization headquartered in Worcester. As one of the largest behavioral health service providers in Central Mass, we employ 1200 staff in over 100 programs and have an annual budget in excess of $100 million.

Our philosophy and approach to service delivery is built upon a commitment to provide the best possible care and services in a manner that places the individual at the center, addresses complex needs and provides the skills, treatment, and tools to help individuals achieve their goals. We utilize evidence-based models such as Motivational Interviewing, Recovery-Oriented Cognitive Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Housing First and more, to effectively engage people in opportunities for growth and stability.

Open Sky has a whole-person approach to care that addresses social determinants of health to improve the health of our communities and has helped the agency to achieve wide-ranging success serving people with behavioral health challenges, intellectual and developmental disabilities, autism, brain injury and others. We prioritize community inclusion and helping individuals to achieve valued roles in the community.

Open Sky is firmly committed to helping the individuals we serve achieve fulfilling lives through opportunities, relationships, and wellness in alignment with our mission: “blending best practices with the power of community, we partner with individuals and families to see and live beyond perceived limitations to pursue fulfilling lives”. Services are rooted in trauma-informed, person-centered, strength-based approaches. We measure outcomes and make decisions based on data and partner with local community entities, both public and private, to continually assess community health assets and needs and implement services that directly address service gaps to meet the diverse cultural and linguistic needs of local residents and to achieve health equity.

Lorie MMartiska is Vice Vice
President of Advancement at
Open Sky Community Services in Worcester. To make a referral or check bed availability for the shelter, call the main Shelter Line at 774-502-9105.

❤️love columns


By Rosalie Tirella

RUMOURS on the turntable! Photos: R.T.

Here at the shack: listening to the ultimate make up/break up/make up album – Fleetwood Mac’s RUMOURS, which I’ve owned since I was 17! Still a terrific LP to dance to and listen to. Still, beautiful and true, with its songs about players, cheaters, true love, moving on, girl bravado…”You make loving fun!” … “Songbird,” Christine’s deep love song slays me these days … touches me in ways it never touched me when I was a teenager.

My YOUTH. Spent decades ago! A terrific memory around this album: My gal pals and I skipped school one day and left our senior classes at Burncoat High in the dust when we piled into Kathy’s jalopy and headed to Hampton Beach. We were six Honors/AP students skipping school for the first time. We were cute, pretty. One of us was a true Irish beauty. We were giddy, silly, tentative. The car was an 8-cylinder, maybe a Nova?, with a dying muffler. It had serious giddyap but looked like hell: a bronzy, brown, silver behemoth whose color I could never figure out. Its roof was pock-mocked as if Kathy routinely drove through sandstorms. Foam was jutting through a busted seam of the backseat. One of its windows couldn’t crank down all the way. No matter! We felt like girly kryptonite! We were graduating high school and ditching all its suffocating rules and boring teachers in their suits and ties (the men) and LEGGS panty hose (the ladies) … We were saying bye bye!! to our parents (very Catholic second-generation strict), heading to college (hundreds, maybe thousands, of cute boys awaited us!) … and becoming who we wanted to be: doctors, writers, math geniuses.

The band! Back cover art, from the lp RUMOURS.

Our soundtrack up and back to the beach on that perfect sunny day? – literally, because Kath had an 8-track player in her dashboard and only one 8 track tape – RUMOURS. We knew all the tunes by heart and sang every song over and over again, loudly, to the tree tops that lined the wide open highway that day …feeling so free! Kathy couldn’t carry a tune but our other friend, Sue, had a pretty voice. Together, they tried to harmonize, laughing at their musical mashup and, maybe, Sue placing one of her elegant arms over the shoulder of Kathy, our chauffeur, a bit chubby but still cute and a very fast driver.

Looking back, I think it was one of the most innocent, happiest days of my life.



By Rosalie Tirella

One of Rose’s homemade Valentine’s.

I didn’t have the dough for Valentine’s Day cards this year, so I made a few yesterday. Sent them out late. Weird: I had hoped to just get it over with, another task to plow thru during my recovery, but I found the project absorbing, fun and … romantic. I dug up some nice white, card stock in a binder. About 50 sheets. Had it for four or five years – a delight to pull out of the mover’s box, after 17 months of homelessness! Made me feel refined…after pissing in parking lots, sleeping in a few too many dirt bag motels I needed to see that pristine white card stock.

So I pulled out a few old illustrated kids books I keep on a shelf and some note cards and note paper. Scotch tape, colored yarn, scissors, all at the ready.

Then I made my Valentine’s Day card #1 – my first since grade school! It was for a gal pal – a thank you note for her help these days, as well as a Valentine’s Day wish. To make it, I ripped off the book jacket of a romance novel I picked up – a lurid portrait of the bodice ripper contained within! There was the gorgeous hunk, his long dark hair whipping in the wind. There was his lady love, protesting, yet still in his arms, her bodice half torn, her round, voluptuous ta-ta’s heaving. I tore the picture carefully around its edges and scotch-taped it on to the middle of the white card stock. Then I took some blue yarn, the eye lash kind, and placed it along my card’s border taping and trimming the edges. Then I wrote my note to my friend and punched a hole in the top corner and ran some yarn through it in case she wanted to hang it up – at work! Ha!

Then I filled a nice jar with doggy treats for another friend’s Valentine’s Day gift. For his dog, rather. Wrapped the top with more pretty yarn and attached a note:


Finally, the old beau’s card: he’s saved all my greeting cards over these past 20 years almost – when we were going out and when we became “just friends.” His girlfriend said he’s a got a special table dedicated to all my cards, birthday, Easter, Christmas, Saint Patrick’s Day, Get Well, Thinking of You … a place where they stand up proud, opened for him to see every day. He’s also got a Rose wall: the pictures of birds and flowers I’ve given him over the years and the framed photos of Bailey, my old retriever, and the framed picture of Jett and me, outside his house, me hugging my new little pup. Jett eying an escape … Jett looks beautiful; I’m sporting an ugly haircut.

The Old Beau’s had quite the few years… surgeries galore (typical of retired contractors/carpenters after a life spent crawling on rooves, hauling doors and installing windows) – and now this latest incident, a “heart incident” in his car, passing out, vomiting in a Shaws plastic bag. The ambulance came and took him away. He was getting a pace maker put in at St. V’s yesterday as I made his Valentine’s Day card. Or a redo surgery, as the first pacemaker operation went awry – the surgeon left in a malfunctioning wire so “Fred,”‘s heart – the electrical hub of the body – was misfiring. The surgeon was going in again to fix the wire situation.

I said to Fred: We’re in rough waters. Me with my accident. Now you with yours.

Fred was in his hospital room, annoyed and said: I lunged at a male nurse today. He told me I couldn’t go home, couldn’t discharge myself home. So I lunged at him. He ran out of the room. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do.

In a hospital johnny, misfiring old ticker, the old beau was still the toughest guy in the joint. I heard the undercurrent of pride in his still sexy voice. Yes, he’d kick ass to get where he needed to go: HOME. After his big operation a few years back, Fred was placed in a rehab center in Webster. It was nothing more than a glorified rest home. No exercises. Unhealthy meals. Just lying on his back all day. He wasn’t doing that again.

Years ago, watching him drink his beers and smoke his cigar after a long day’s work Fred seemed cool and distant. Which he was. And self absorbed and selfish. Which he was. I was in love!

So yesterday I made this old tough guy a Valentine’s card. Which I know he’ll keep forever. Which made me work, want to try to capture the essence of the unfathomable Fred … to think about Fred and his likes as I leafed through the outdated Christopher Columbus kids book was a joy. Looking for the art to illustrate his card made me smile. There were many illustrations. There were many memories. Here, in the book, was a drawing of Columbus as a baby in his crib, then another – Columbus giving colored beads to an Indian, as a gift; then Columbus chatting with a stern Queen Isabella sitting on her fancy throne. All lies …until the drawings of Columbus adrift, almost drowning, in the ocean, hanging to the bow of a ship half submerged in the sea. There was a ship, wrecked. Funny, his hair wasn’t wet in the illustration – in fact it looked like the old Beau’s hair style of many years ago. A kind of Dutch Boy Paints haircut that the he eventually grew out and into a Greg Allman hair in style – very long and fine, parted in the middle and dyed platinum blond. So I cut out that illustration because it reminded me of Fred’s almost drowning in rough waters.

Then, on the next page, I saw a seagull flying over a placid ocean and he was framed in a window, and I remembered how Fred loved all birds and how once in Boston, before a Moody Blues concert, after dinner at one of the few restaurants at the wharf before all the redevelopment, before the shiny new modern museum, he and I took out a bunch of bread from our dinner table and started throwing it up into the sky to the scores of seagulls flying just inches above our heads. More than hovering. I didn’t even have to reach up to touch their grey or white bellies! They cawed and cawed into our ears and it was like being in a dream, them swooping over us again and again to grab the pieces of bread we held up to them. We were engulfed. It was like being in a huge seagull igloo, white, beige, the strong claws and beaks…the sky blotted out, just the birds’ loud cawing and the ocean churning just yards away. Then the romantic concert … Justin Heywood and the boys sounding perfect, singing all their ’70s hits: Nights in White Satin, Tuesday Afternoon, Blue Guitar … I was swept away in a wave of happiness…

Now I was stuck home, recovering. The old Beau was stuck eating cold hospital food and listening to loud hospital TV. I made a call to the hospital’s kitchen to rectify the food situation. Luis, the worker there, promised me he’d bring up some tasty food to my old boyfriend, as soon as we got off the phone. Calling him later, Fred told me: the scrambled eggs were still cold! The food sucks!

And, finally, the last picture book illustration: the tools of Columbus’ trade – not exactly a hammer and a nail gun, but interesting looking. I knew Fred would know what they were and how they worked. He was just like that: so smart about all trades, fascinated by all the tools. For years he carted around his grandfather’s level with him because it was beautiful – and he used it because he said it was better than the Home Depot stuff. I remember watching him tying up his ropes in a fancy braid at the end of his day – not in a pedestrian coil like most carpenters would do. His grandfather, also a carpenter, had taught Fred how to tie those fancy braids when Fred was just a teenager … They hung from the poles in the back of Fred’s shiny red truck looking more decorative than utilitarian.

All this is what I loved about the old beau. Why I loved him. And I tried to put it in my homemade card. It was good to remember it all this Valentine’s Day.

🇺🇲Tomorrow is President’s Day🇺🇲 …

By Rosalie Tirella

FILE - In this April 13, 1934 file photo, President Franklin D. Roosevelt smiles as he speaks to a Congressional welcoming committee which met him at Union Station on his return to Washington. (AP Photo)
FILE – In this April 13, 1934 file photo, President Franklin D. Roosevelt smiles as he speaks to a Congressional welcoming committee which met him at Union Station on his return to Washington. (AP Photo)

Tomorrow is President’s Day. For most Americans this signifies a day off with pay, a three-day weekend and/or the beginning of school vacation for the kiddos. When I was a little girl America was more serious and specific – not yet dumb-downed. We didn’t have a generic President’s Day where no one knew anything about anybody and a buffoon like Trump could be feted on the same day as a glamorous, forward-thinking JFK, a brave and compassionate FDR or an energetic, outdoorsy Teddy Roosevelt. Trump was our president, too, after all, so it’s his day as well! Ugh.

No, back in the 1950s and 1960s American students, moms and dads, factory workers, doctors and captains of industry remembered, honored arguably our two greatest presidents: Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. On their real birthdays – February 12 for Abraham Lincoln and February 22 for George Washington. It may have been different in the South when it came to Lincoln, but when I was a kid every Worcester Public School I attended or visited had those two famous presidential prints flanking the right and left sides of the proscenium in the school auditorium: a portrait, big and serious, of President Washington, usually seated on an impressive white steed, and the print of that painting of Abraham Lincoln, depicted from the chest up in his famous black suit, looking lugubrious and doomed. You could go into many Polish, Lithuanian, Irish or Italian immigrant homes in the 1940s and see calendars with the same pictures, only smaller, thumbtacked to the kitchen wall. I know that was true for our tenement in Green Island.

When I was a little girl my mother always reminded me of the special holidays because she shared her birthday with George Washington. Ma was born on February 22. Ma was very proud of this fact – having the same birthday as our first President, a great man, a man who led Americans during the Revolutionary War and won the war for Independence. Then he became our first ever president, leading a wet-behind-the-ears country into the future. Ma didn’t know Washington was a very rich land owner who owned slaves and that they were whipped and chained just like …Thomas Jefferson’s slaves were. She told me the tale of Washington chopping down that cherry tree and stuck to that narrative until the day she died. Underneath the story were Ma’s feelings for Washington and the America she chose to believe in: a country of freedom, honesty, hard work, fortitude, great opportunity, grace and goodness. Those attributes could propel America – you! – to the top.

Americans’ possibilities were endless, so thought Ma.

Rose’s mom, late 1950s.