“Who Knows Where the Time Goes?” This is the title of the beautiful Sandy Denny song, written by her when she was just a kid with Fairport Convention. In the 1970s, when I was around her age. Just a kid, too. I love everything about Denny’s record: the melody, Denny’s pretty but husky-around-the-edges voice. Her lyrics especially. Denny sings, begins her song with an image of her watching a flock of birds flying across the sky one autumn eve and asks of their migration to warmer climes: “How do they know when to leave?”
Your heart, if you’re an older person like me, and have lived through many seasons, many births and deaths, aches a little at the question. You learn in grade school: It is their “Instinct.” But what does that mean? You still don’t know the answer! Only now tbe question brings tears to your eyes. Now you know you will never understand God’s handiwork. You’re just a broad with a newspaper living in Worcester. Just a human. You are part of the poem but not responsible for the goose poetry. And you are aging, like the tree in the parking lot outside your house – its crooked branches and your crooked fingers make a funny pair!
Rose’s left pinky. pics:R.T.
Still, every year you see the same beautiful patterns – even in Worcester. You look up to see the geese in their perfect V shape, up against the grey fall sky, and you are in awe! Three or four big fat wild turkeys are in the parking lot, strutting by your old Hyundai and you feel their magic. Still! Every year you wonder, the question slips through your mind for a few seconds only because you do not want an answer: How do the birds know it is time to leave?
Who Knows Where the Time Goes?
Nature’s signals stronger than ever during these COVID 19 days. Last I checked it was January and I was giving out hats and scarves to homeless men and women under the Green Street bridge … Then COVID struck. St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, now Memorial Day happened, came and went, and I do not recall anything. Except that the trees were bare and now they are sprouting new moist leaves – looking beautiful. The days ended abruptly – now daylight lingers until I am sleepy, almost ready for bed. My landlord, 80 and living alone in the country (which he loves) told me: My best days are behind me. He wants no part of LifeLine Senior Rescue alarm. He said, “I go to bed with the birds and I wake up with them.” Only they will know when he is gone. And they will still sing their songs!
The little kids in the neighborhood, not in school for weeks, sheltering in place with their parents, fall backwards onto the summer lawn when they run outdoors. They look at the sky as they lie on their backs … stare at the beautiful blueness. They believe in it now. They see summer in her, high above them, and maybe wonder: Where am I? In March? In April? In May? Under the warm sky!!
Even the old sky is pristine again! It is getting healthier, cleaner, quieter now that we humans have been in “lockdown.” Everything has stopped as we humans all over the world have sheltered in place to not catch the novel coronavirus. And maybe die from it.
Where has the time gone?
I miss my late Mom, Cecelia, but can only picture her veiny hands when I close my eyes these days. I can’t count the number of cats I have loved and owned (feels like 20) … my dogs, the ones who have passed, are still loved by me but their personalities faded. Will I ever forget my favorite, my beloved Husky-mix, Jett?
I remember every story The Old Beau told me when we were together. About growing up in Lynn and about his parents and his dead pet rabbits in their hutche outside his house – a floppy ear the only part remaining of one pet. I remember him telling me how when he was very young and just married and he and his pretty young wife were groundskeepers/carpenters for a motel chain/B and B inn in Vermont, how when he was doing handyman work one summer day on a building on the grounds but moved his ladder up a ways, to their building, their second floor bedroom and how The Old Beau leapt in through the window scaring the heck out of his wife as she was getting dressed for work and … then made love to her. Saw him last week … he walks with a cane these days. His long hair silver. Still gorgeous.
I found this small old snow-globe before the global pandemic. My sister gave it to my late Mom one Christmas, decades ago, when we were all still living on Lafayette Street, in Green Island: ♥️♥️ pics: R.T.
I was in my teens, attending Burncoat Senior High School, back then. My two kid sisters were at St. Mary’s Junior High, by Kelley Square. Ma still worked at the dry cleaners. Daddy was living with us again, hanging around these four or so years. Living with us now that my sisters and I were older and not under-foot, so needy toddlers, little children. My lovely immigrant grandfather from Poland, Jaju, had died a decade back; his dumpling-shaped Polish wife, my grandmother Bapy, gasped for air in her bedroom by the kitchen, now sick, no longer feisty and sitting at the head of our kitchen table in her ratty old easy chair, cup of cold Sanka coffee in one hand, hardboiled egg sandwich in the other, watching over us lil’ kids and giving unsolicited child-rearing advice to my sweet mom, all while watching GOMER PYLE, USMC, her fave TV show on our old black and white Philco, parked in front of one of the kitchen windows. All the wind had disappeared from Bapy’s sails – now Daddy was even an ally, bringing her a warm cup of Sanka, entering her bedroom head down and with respect, leaving the cup of coffee on her bedstand. Gone, her cursing Daddy in Polish – “DOG’S BLOOD! You RED DEVIL!” – for his infedelities to my mother, her favorite daughter, and his abandonment of his three little daughters. She was too old and tired for all that noise now.
I saw all this in the snow globe: Bapy’s old black metal bed, no box spring, just thin mattress over the web of metal “springs” – her wedding day gift, a goose down quilt, on top of her … in my little snow globe, now my Global Pandemic Snow Globe. I had set it two feet from my pillow on my night stand and stared into its dirty water every night, the globe of 40 year old water with the gold glitter floating through it. I shook it …
… and saw my tiny Bapy buried beneath the cozy, snowy white hills of her big goose down comforter. I used to jump up and down on it when I was three and four years old, pretending it was a magical snow mountain and I was in the snowy woods, living with white wolves and beautiful deer atop slender, graceful legs, hooves …
I stared into the murky waters of my Global Pandemic Globe all February as I lay on my futon in my kitchen by the kitchen stove, coughing and sweating out a weird fever every night … for three weeks. Chef Joey had just returned from Italy (and France), all January I had handed out winter hats and gloves and scarves to Worcester’s homeless men and women, from my car: Downtown Worcester, under the Green Street Bridge … Pre-pandemic. Doing the wrong things at the wrong time because Trump knew but wasn’t telling us Americans a thing. So I, foolishly, dangerously, lived my life with the novel coronavirus swimming and floating all around me. No vaccine. No facial mask. No PPE. No social distancing. We were all in the dark – duped by the dope Trump.
So, when I felt weirdly ill, I took to my futon and thought: This a weird, end of winter flu. Then the COVID 19 NEWS BURST INTO GLOBAL CONSCIOUSNESS and I said to myself: “I have COVID-19.” I told myself the sad fact while lying alone in the middle of my Blackstone River Road shack. I was afraid but determined to live. I grabbed my Green Island snow globe, probably a Whites Five and Ten find by my sweet sis, and held on tight to it and shook it hard …
… to make the few specks of the glitter sparkle in the dirty water. My deathbed talusman? If yes, then I was holding on to the only things I ever loved in that old Christmas bauble: Green Island, Millbury Street, Kelley Square, Ma, Bapy, Jaju, my two sisters. All in that 50-cents snowglobe, so precious to me now as I stifled my coughs so the diwnstairs neighbors would not gwt suspucious. I struggled on the floor like a lobster clawing banging around on the bottom of an empty pot – to get up from the floor to go to the bathroom. I clawed around my floor like that! How embarassing! I had called for a covid 19 test that day. To every agency. None to be had, for me at least. … If it was just the flu, I thought, and I went to the emergency ward for care, when I really didn’t need it, I COULD CATCH THE CORONAVIRUS. And maybe get very sick. And maybe die.
So I took my chances on Blackstone River Road – I stayed put on my kitchen floor with my cat, two dogs and cups of water and chamomille tea …
I was cozy under the pretty blankets, I listened to all the Michael Moore RUMBLE podcasts on my beat-up smart phone, I watched and rewatched Ken Burns’ COUNTRY MUSIC DVDs … and stared into my little snow globe, the one with the little bears clambering on top of the globe – they are wearing their striped pajamas. And inside the globe, a little boy, in his pj’s too, is sleeping on a crescent moon, craddled by the crescent moon. Inside the globe, I saw – yes! once again! – my beautiful kid sister! Now 19 and “the man of the house,” as Daddy has flown the coop again, and sis now helps Ma run the house/pay all the bills as she works almost full-time as a counter girl at the Millbury Street fruit store – while going to college in Worcester full-time. She is so glamorous looking in her lipstick and pretty dresses! She now buys her clothes, with her own money, at Filene’s Basement at Worcester Center, our Galleria mall downtown.
And there she is, in a pretty sky blue rayon dress with white stars, walking down Millbury Street, lugging a wagon full of groceries she bought for Ma and the family. I am away at college, UMASS, but I still see my sweet, good sister walking down Millbury Street, slender, pretty smile, waving to me…so good to my mother, working so hard, walking so hard, her feet already have small bunions … Never uttering a complaint about having to walk or cab everywhere. Being poor. … Once the downstairs neighbor said to my mother, “Your Barbara – she is gold.”
Yes, she was! Making Thanksgiving Dinner – paying for it with her meager fruit store paycheck. Knowing I loved mashed turnip, she always bought two big hard turnips and sat at the kitchen table with a crumby little paring knife peeling and peeling the tough waxy skin off with that little knife. It took her a half hour. And then she cubed the orange turnip, boiled the pieces in a big pot for a long time, then drained the water from the pot when the pieces were soft … then she mashed them with Bapy’s old potato masher. Smothered them in lovely butter, too. All for me! … Since those days, I have never ever made mashed turnip for myself. Or even ordered a bowl at restaurants. I only love my sister’s, now unattainable.
The giver of the globe, my Christmas angel, my sister. …Wracked with fever on those February nights, afraid, alone, stuck in my sh*t apartment, wondering if and when I’d “go,” I geabbed my sister’s globe and clutched it to my chest and fell asleep with it. Holding dreams of her.
Watching the beginning of the iconic CITIZEN KANE, I never really “got” why Charles Foster Kane, on his deathbed, held tight, then let go as he expired, a snow globe while whispering the enigmatic words: “ROSE BUD.”
At the film’s end we viewers learn ROSE BUD was the beloved sled of his childhood. But the snow globe held the beloved memories of sledding in the snow of his childhood home and the love of his adored mother. The young Charles – before his millions$$$, before the women, the affairs, politics, newspapering – was poor. But his mother loved him and he loved back. The purity heartbreaking. Like with my snow globe.
While changing up my kitchen table tablecloth this a.m. …
… I rearranged a few photos of my late grandparents, small, framed pictures that form a hippy kind of centerpiece on my table, and snapped a picture of their giant wedding-day portrait that hangs in my bedroom.
📷 I saw and liked the progression of the photos: my Polish immigrant grandmother and grandfather – “Bapy” and “Jaju” – at the beginning, middle and end of their 55-year marriage in America, Worcester’s Green Island: pics 1, 2, 3:
Their Wedding Day portrait by Vernon Studios on Vernon Street. … 100+ years ago few people owned a camera – so they went to the pros for photographs, usually only on special occasions: weddings, family reunions, formal family portraits. Staged before heavy, lugubrious floral arrangements and fake marble columns and urns. There were several of these professional photography studios on Vernon Hill, a Worcester neighborhood Bapy and Jaju, young and beautiful but very poor, could only aspire to.
They got married on Valentine’s♥️ Day. Very romantic for a couple of DPs, “Dumb Pokaks” as they and their kin were called by others in Worcester: Polish immigrants, poor, heavy jowled, Catholic, unable to read or write or speak English, doing the city’s, the county’s, dirtiest jobs … to survive in The Block of tenements in Green Island. Many of the men, like my Jaju, worked in the textile mills in Douglas. Jaju was a dyer for 35+years – pre-OSHA, pre-labor unions – and it shows. Just look at him in the last photo. Sure, he was a smoker, but still … My late mom, Cecelia, rolled his cigarettes (no filters) every morning in his little metal rolling machine, using almost transparent white tissue paper squares (in their own little box), then handing the cigs to Jaju before he left for work. His friend had a car, picked him up, and together they drove in to work.
📷A few years ago, I drove down to Douglas/Dudley/Webster to check out what was left of the textile mills, ancient and abandoned, trying to find Jaju’s mill. I may have found it – a huge brick complex with small windows. I imagined working summers in that place – on a humid July day!
📷Picture 2: World War II – their only son, my uncle Joe, back home on leave from the US Navy. Big meal, all homemade by Bapy: meat and cabbage and potato pierogi, gawompki, beet soup, pigs knuckles/feet (pigs knuckles – I ate them as a little kid growing up on Lafayette Street in Green Island – they came in a bottle! My mother bought them at the Polish market on Millbury Street.) Hugs all around and Polka music and photos taken on the Block’s roof, by my auntie with her Brownie camera. Years ago a young graphic designer scanned the originals photos for me and blew them up. I framed the scans, besutufully done – still have them on my walls, all over my apartment. But the one I am showing you here, above, is of Bapy and Jaju inside their tenement in the Block on Bigelow Street. I love how happy Bapy looks – she adored my grandfather, as wild about him! – and I love how contented Jaju seems, his arm casually draped over his little wife’s round shoulders.
📷The final picture – three or four years before Jaju – now retired and doing a ton of woodworking around the house (he made Bapy a big two-seater glider swing for their front porch) – died of lung cancer. In the photo, Bapy is holding me! Precious cargo! Her first born Lafayette Street grandchild!
I love how Jaju, now 50 years later, has changed places in the photographs: Bapy stood dutifully by his side in their Wedding Day Portrait: in the Lafayette Street photograph, taken by my mom, Jaju is the one standing dutfully by Bapy. His woman. For more than half a century. No words. Just the neat buttoned up white shirt showing respect and love for his wife, the mother of his children. Now proud grandmother.
Jaju was my favorite. He was sweet-natured, quiet and loved carpentry and crafts. We used to sit on our Lafayette Street back porch, my Jaju in an old weather beaten black wooden chair, me sitting on a little foot stool he made. Me holding my block of dark clay – Jaju reaching for it, then molding a clay pony out of my “putty” – and then his thick, gnarled fingers working like magic to make a clay cowboy and a big 10-gallon clay cowboy hat for him! And then Jaju would seat my clay cowboy on my clay pony – and we would recite a Polish prayer over it, together. … Bapy was the fiery mate!
Yep. My Jaju, after killing himself for decades in the Douglas textile mill to support his wife and four kids, going fishing with his African American pal from work on weekends. Bapy reluctantly fed the two a big lunch and glasses of beer after seeing her first Black man – no Black folks in Poland back then – and fearing him! – and JAJU SAYING CURTLY: He’s MY FRIEND! FEED US, WOMAN! Jaju, just a man, an American now but no civil rights crusader. Jaju, now an old man, sitting in his wooden chair by the kitchen window nursing his glass of beer (that Bapy had watered down and handed to him like a waitress♥️) and watching the world go by, his world: Lafayette Street, Bigelow Street, Lodi Street …
My Jaju and Bapy showed me – everybody in our family – what true love is.
A new day begins … Porch lights twinkle off outside my apartment windows and I look for my favorite tea at my cute coffee station …
☕Yesterday and a few days prior I was out and about – getting CECELIA ready to go to press. Felt like the old days! Sort of. … Everyone in Worcester seemed to be wearing a facial mask … and social distancing! A great thing! A community coming together to protect each other.
But something very sobering happens in the supermarket … something serious, a little scary: SO MANY PEOPLE WEARING ALL KINDS OF FACE MASKS, FACELESS, AVOIDING EACH OTHER, NO CHIT CHAT among customers. No lingering over the boxes of pilaf – shpuld I buy this flavor or should I try the Rice a Roni noodles? … All of the fun sapped out … All of the death around the corner if I turn my shopping cart here … or there … or there. EVERYONE SAD. EVERYONE BRAVE. Following the governor’s, our city leaders’, directives. We all know President Trump and his campaign style Covid-19 press briefings are a national joke – and disgrace – and a few of us will say so in the checkout line, careful to stay standing on our blue lines – 6 feet away from each other. Some supermarkets have the cute red feet to stand on to mark your place. I like those markers better – like being in Romper Room. Not coronavirus room – as in half of us have had the virus or are asymptomatic carriers. We’ll never know for sure, as there are not enough test kits for all Americans thanks to our feckless Dodo in Chief! So THE COUNTRY IS FLYING BY THE SEAT OF HER PANTS!
What kills me: the chubby – or skinny – old woman, alone, confused, slowed down, wearing her face mask a little crooked … not social distancing, coming up right behind you in the canned vegetable section. Followng you down to the tomato sauces … You throw her “a look,” but she can’t see your annoyed expression because you’re wearing a facial mask! But then you realize she is doing this on purpose, she wants to be close, she is scared … So you turn around … and say a few words (not comforting): “This is just like a science fiction movie!! A dystopian sci fi novel!” or “Did you ever think we’d be living like this?!!” She just shakes her head. She needs a hug.
Or: the pretty, slim 40-year-old woman. Suburban pretty with long blond hair and nice jacket – she comes up to you and blurts out: CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS? My husband died. I’m a widow! I have to do all of this, everything, by myself!
She stands before you. Beautiful. Shaken. You say to her: You are so pretty! It will work out!… I live alone – a third of Americans live alone! Most of us our single! We HAVE TO DO WHAT WE NEED TO DO. …I stress this last part, she seems afraid.
Then she says: You’re right! You’re right! …and heads to the wrong door with her grocery bags and says, laughing: I don’t even know where I am going!
♥️Love you, Worcester supermarket shoppers! We are the working class, the widows and widowers, the oldsters … I wish beautiful birds could fly down from the blue sky and magically deliver groceries to our front doors …
A few days ago I posted this beautiful picture of the beautiful yellow and orange facial mask my art director hand-sewed for me … To help me get through the pandemic:
But SHE MAILED IT TO ME FROM A WOO SUBURB, and you know the Worcester mail: She might as well have sent my face mask to me from California VIA PONY EXPRESS! So, as I wait and wait uneasily for my beautiful face mask, and need to grocery shop tomorrow, and HATE TO GROCERY SHOP without a facial mask – it is a scary, stressful, under-10-minute race thru the cheese, fruit and bakery aisles – I decided to STEP UP. PUSH UP, to be exact! – and make my own facial mask by converting my old push up bra into a facial mask – TWO facial masks, to be exact.
Remember the ol’ Wonder Bra, ladies? Well, mine is a “knock-“off (ha ha), but it is still pretty perfect for these COVID 19 days, seeing our President has FU*KED US ALL OVER AND WE DO NOT HAVE ENOUGH PPE plus America is selling our facial masks to other countries to MAKE $$$!!!, and, as I close in on 60, maybe my bra’s sexier days are receding into the COVID-19 sunset😢. I have worn it special for … but wait!! I must refrain from sharing! Face Book is a PG 13 platform!!!
♥️Each of my bra cups covers my mouth and nose perfectly. Inside, the push up foam acts as a filter. Totally breathable. And washable. I started my lil’ project last night – I have to put the ribbons through its corners so I can tie it on my face. I am hopeful. Doing my part. Following Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus, Dr. Hirsh and Worcester Mayor Petty’s directive. It is a new kind of law here in Worcester. We are all supposed to wear facial masks in supermarkets.
☕So, ladies, let’s wave our flags! Let’s save our city! And remember: When the going gets tough, the soft get going!
Outside my window: SPRING HAPPENED! LOOK AT THESE TREES in our backyard, THEIR “DARLING BUDS” aching to open: 🌷🌷pics: Rose T.
And yet, the clouds float in: Our president – Trump – and the federal government have failed us Americans! President Trump has not led America, has not used his powers to GET MANY 🇺🇸 factories making PPE, ventilators … He has PUT HIS NAME ON RELIEF CHECKS! He has not HELPED AVERAGE AMERICANS in a timely fashion – all aid given piecemeal and grudgingly.
TRUMP LIES TO US! … We Worcesterites must follow the directives of Worcester Mayor Petty and CM Ed Augustus, NYC Mayor de Blasio, governors Cuomo and Baker – and our own Dr. Hirish!
Please! Shelter in place: Try to eat well!
Stay active around the house – create a schedule, create chores:
Try to smile thru the tears!:
And when you go out for your necessities, wear a facial mask in crowded spaces like supermarkets, buses, the pharmacy … Rose’s facial mask – handsewn for her by her art director♥️
Rose caught up with FRIENDLY HOUSE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Gordon Hargrove …
Gordon, left, and Tim Garvin, director of the UNITED WAY OF CENTRAL MASS.
Gordon is on the frontlines of Worcester’s COVID 19 FIGHT, working to provide meals to our hungry kids and families and providing ANYBODY with emergency food during these challenging COVID 19 days. Gordon😊
He told us ALL WOO’S FOOD INSECURE KIDS ARE BEING FED at city feeding sites. Here are places and times:
Friendly House’s Feeding sites!:
Site, Name, Location, Starting time to End time, in the a.m. and lunch time:
Vernon Hill Park
14 Forsberg St
539 Mill St
281 Lake Ave
965 Main St
Grant Square Park
Corner of Windsor & North Hampton
965 Main St
16 Laurel St
161 West Mountain
180 Constitution Ave/GBV
45 Freedom Way
36 Wall St
16 Upland Gardens
South Worcester Neighborhood
47 Camp Street
50 Canton Street
♥️♥️♥️And the Friendly House, Quinsigamond Village, South Worcester Neighborhood Center, Plumley Village and Grern Island FOOD PANTRIES ARE OPEN AND GIVING EMERGENCY FOOD PACKAGES to ANYONE IN NEED!!:
Quinsigamond Village Community Center, 16 Greenwood St., 508-755-7481
Monday-Thursday 9:30am – 3pm Fridays emergencies – call first
Plumley Village, 16 Laurel St, 508-755-3989
Tuesdays 9am-4pm and Friday 12pm-4pm
South Worcester Neighborhood Center, 47 Camp St., 508-757-8344
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 9:30am-1:30pm, Wednesday 11:30am-1:30pm
Green Island Neighborhood Center, 50 Canton St., 508-890-2737
Wednesday 11am-2pm, Thursday 1pm-4pm
👏👏👏Thank you to supporters: Worcester County Food Bank, Project Bread and Worcester Together!!!👏👏
🌷🌷🌷And … Great news! Gordon told us A NEW REFRIGERATED FOOD-DELIVERY VAN has just been donated to the City of Worcester FEEDING OUR KIDS food program!! A big thank you to City of Worcester Health and Human Services Director Dr. Mattie C. and the Health Foundation of Worcester for making this VAN-GIFT🚐🚐🚐 a REALITY!♥️
Easy Recipe …
☀️YOU CAN USE VEGAN CHICKEN CRUMBLES for this recipe – BUY A BAG AT TRADER JOES ON RT 9, SHREWSBURY. Trader Joes has a lot of MOCK MEATS that are very tasty – and CRUELTY-FRER!
🇫🇷From Chef Joey …
Text + pics by Chef Joey
By my before and after pictures – during France’s COVID 19 quarantine – I’ve noticed a slight tightening of my waist. So, as a result, I’m doing Fairview Days, and one of them is my favorite: lettuce wraps:
They are incredibly easy to make, fast and low-calorie.
one clove of garlic
same size piece of ginger as the clove, peeled and added to the chicken
1/2 chicken breast
and a scallion
For condiments, you’ll need:
a little sunflower oil
some rice vinegar
What you do: chop the onions and garlic and place in a frying pan.
With a tablespoon of sunflower oil and add 3 tbsp rice vinegar.
Sauté over a low to medium heat.
In the meantime, place the ginger and chicken in your food processor and mix well. Add to the onion mix.
Add a touch more heat and stir until cooked.
Sprinkle with some soy sauce, and when the chicken is cooked you are done!
Place in a bowl and garnish with some chopped scallions.
Rake the whole leaves of the Boston lettuce off, rinse them off. Pat them dry, put them in a bowl and serve! Enjoy!
Covid 19 Easter Sunday … I need God. I need a haircut – as tough a get these days as belief in God (for me, at least):
Where is the Easter Bunny when you need him? Or her? Big, fuzzy, huggable, no pants but adorable green vest and tie! Sweet! Fun! SPRING! Pastel colored eggs, pretty pink Easter coats for little girls, crisp navy blue ties for the boys. Everything sweet and new as a raindrop. As a kid my favorite spring flower was the daisy. Still is: a child’s flower. Kids like simple – it’s art. We adults all want to go back to seeing as children – seeing with genius. But today, through my coronavirus tears, I do not see daisies – I see Mother Earth and COVID 19 – a global pandemic that our climate-changing sins have wrought. Mama Earth has punished us for polluting her, raping her, killing so many of her wonderful children-animals. Live wet markets in China, in New York City. Birds changing their migration paths because of global warming. … Death, not rebirth, today for me. Very un-Easter, I know. And President Donald Trump leads this day’s Death Parade, baton held high!!
Challenging days, if you live alone like me, and are following the mayor, city manager, governor, Governor Cuomo and Dr. Fauci’s SHELTER IN PLACE directives. To save lives and help the docs and nurses and other medical angels at our hospitals! … I only go out twice, maybe three times, a week for necessities and to run my dogs. Staying home – being out of the life stream – is harder than I thought it would be. I never knew how my newspaper biz, my visits to the post office or to the Boulevard Diner for takeout coffee MADE ME SO HAPPY! The human touch. … Day one at home is Ok: I organize, clean, work on my biz. But by the end of Day 2 I am feeling trapped, low-down sad and looking like this:
So I shower, put my makeup on and go out the next day and give $1 each to the kids at the McDonald takeout windows, kids who take my change and give me my large takeout coffee …
… I go to the supermarket AND SEE ALL THESE GREAT FRONTLINE WORKERS risking their lives to keep our fridges full, KEEPING US ALL FED, ALIVE, FUNCTIONING. GOVERNOR CHARLIE BAKER MUST RAISE THEIR HOURLY WAGES TO $17/HOUR – $20 AN HOUR NOW FOR BEING PANDEMIC FRONT LINE WORKERS!
This country no longer – maybe never – respects/ed its workers! My late mom, Cecelia, MADE MINIMUM WAGE HER WHOLE LIFE – SAME JOB AT THE DRY CLEANERS, THEN MANAGING THE FRONT END FOR 25+ YEARS. She was a great worker! BUT HER BOSS EXPLOITED HER – NEVER GAVE HER A RAISE FOR 25+ YEARS. Because the boss knew she could exploit my mother. Cecelia was a single working mom … Cecelia♥️♥️♥️♥️
Our little, fragile family barely hung on in our Green Island tenement decades ago. America is still exploiting workers like “Ma.” Trump and co couldn’t care less. The Democrats have dropped the ball, too. Except for Bernie Sanders, who this past week suspended his presidential csmpaign, NO ONE CARES. Bernie wanted to make life better for the regular person and his/her kids.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is healthy again, out of hospital, THANKS TO TWO IMMIGRANT NURSES AND THE UK’S NHS! Both of which he slagged as he pushed for BREXIT. Boris exploited the UK’s working class’ fear of minorities and foreigners to create divisions, win election, and MAKE BREXIT A REALITY. He is just like our moron President Trump! And now he thanks the two “foreigners” – the angel nurses who were by his side for 48 hours straight monitoring his oxygen intake – the medical professionals, heroes, who SAVED HIS Fat A*s. His LIFE.
Boris, like Trump, also downplayed the coronavirus during the first few months of the pandemic. Blustered past ALL THE MEDICAL FACTS. And yet his country came through for him – the country he is destroying with all that blustery charisma of his. Like our moron Trump.
HAPPY EASTER! WE ARE ALL IN THIS SHI*HOLE TOGETHER! WE ARE STILL HANGING ON THE CROSS!
This a.m: My breakfast – because it is all I’ve got left in my kitchen cabinets:
Tuna and Triskets. Bleh. But I am desperate, I am hungry, so I will wolf it all down.
Now I’v just got oatmeal and orange sauce. Am I eating alphabetically these days? No, phonetically! And I am hungry! So I park my tastebuds in the discarded Bumblee can and eat. I grew up poor in Green Island. I know what I have to do to survive.
God, help me. I would prefer to be eating the my Water Street’s Widoff Bakery bulkies, slathered with soft butter, and planning a fun day with my two dogs! But this is the new reality, how things roll these days … days of death, days of a global pandemic, with no cures in sight. … Yet. We humans – all over the globe – are thrown back hundreds and hundreds of years, and we are left with the remedies our Neandethal ancestors were left with during killer epidemics: STAY AWAY FROM ME, Freddo! GO DIE QUIETLY, ALONE, IN YOUR OWN CAVE, Rita! And the strong drink water! Eat! Pray to the clay gods and the cave paintings painted in bloodroot.
During these COVID-19 Days/Daze this atheist prays her Hail Mary’s, not because I’ve found Jesus, but because they remind me of my late mom, who prayed her Hail Mary’s three or four times a day – in our Lafayette Street kitchen, in the morning before we little kids were up for breakfast, before I headed out to my beloved Lamartine Street School. “Ma” prayed on one of our rickety wooden kitchen chairs that she had pulled out from the green wooden (so ugly) kitchen table and placed in the middle of our kitchen where she faces the open window, and sunlight, and a picture of Jesus, hammered into the kitchen wall, a few inches above our icebox. She kneels on the kitchen chair, blesses herself and hangs onto the back of the kitchen chair for balance. It is her mother’s beatup paintining of The Virgin Mary she is whispering to. An heirloom in our slummy tenement. My late mother, in all her strength and moral beauty … Rose’s mom, Cecelia, in downtown Worcester, circa 1961
… beams down her love and strength onto me these awful days of ventilators (not enough), old ladies sewing pretty, but useless, cloth face masks, youngish doctors dying in their hospitals as they save the HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS of moaning, begging, crying, sick patients – some of them waiting for help for 5 hours in their gurneys parked in the ER hallway – the docs leaving their little sons and daughters back home, waiting for them … orphans. Like me without Ma! But I was old when I lost her, and I enjoyed my childhood with her. Because of her.
Did I mention my mother was enchanting? So was my Polish immigrant grandmother, Bapy, … and my pretty aunties: WW II – on the roof of The Block, Bigelow Street
Today, before I go grocery shopping and pick up other necessities, I eat crap and miss EVERYBODY! Even a nemesis or two. Or three. Or four or five.😢 Today, I recite, whispering over my dogs and my cup of black coffee, …
… my Hail Mary’s. For my enemies!… Hatred. Such a waste of LOVE, the lifeforce!
I cannot WAIT TO GO OUT DOORS TODAY! Who, knew, as Michael Moore says during one of his Rumble Podcast, that we humans are hardwired to be around our fellow humans! That we CRAVE PHYSICAL CONNECTION, the surging, dirty-faced masses! That we want to rub shoulders against ALL PEOPLE, the beautiful COVID 19 asymptomatic and beautiful symptomatic COVID 19 hoi polloi! So good to see you, my Woo friends! I know – cuz it happens every time – that as I take my large McDonalds coffee and quibble over napkins with the takeout girl in the window – my heart will swell with JOY! I am JUST SO FREAKIN’ HAPPY TO SEE HER! And those golden arches! And that prosaic stretch of Greenwood Street! And that gas station with my pal at the cash register! And the sky above! And maybe a seagull or two diving outa the clouds to pick up a stray Wendy’s french frie! Hooray!!! … Last week I saw a woman standing in the Burlington parking lot feeding scores of swooping seagulls hunks of bread from a big plastic garbage bag. She was smiling! HAPPY TO BE OUTDOORS TOO! TO SEE PEOPLE AND SEAGULLS IN ALL THEIR BIG BELLIED BEAUTY. Amen.
Today, as I get my $1 special McDs coffee, I will be so slaphappy ecstatic!!! HELLO, WORCESTER! HELLO, BEAUTUFUL ROUTE 20 STRIP MALL! I ADORE YOU! Every brick that needs repointing! Every door that needs sanitizing! … On to CVS … Every pothole that sends me and Jett and Lilac flying in my jalopy! I love you, too! My car is such a piece of crap!!! GOD LOVE IT!
Yesterday I was cruising Youtube, picking out songs for this post. I wanted the tunes to reflect these COVID 19 days: societal collapse, pain, anxiety, darkness, death. So I looked for the dark, devil lovin’ Stones …
… another tune:
… But I ended up being attracted to:
…and then finally choosing this song to encapsulate my feelings these days. Choosing Armstrong, our earth, our animals, love OVER DEATH. AS WE ALL DO! Because we are human. Because, despite these temporary hard times, we human beings and our planet earth will endure. We are BRILLIANT. ♥️:
Welcome to COVID-19 lock-down. We have been experiencing this since March 13. The opportunity to walk away from duty is huge … we were running to accomplish the unnecessary … overindulging on items at Burlington because the prices were so good … buying bigger vehicles because gasoline was still reasonable. And then the Coronavirus comes around and sends the world into a screeching halt.
The good part is all countries are in the same camp, so no one must sweat this one out alone – we hope.
Being stuck at my mom’s home here in France has its advantages, and with a now 5-year-old little girl who thinks it is OK to watch television all day with the lack of school … So the Internet has turned into a learning tool for me. Our French school sends us lesson plans and a web page to follow and print outs assignments for Gigi to work on. I had to change the media format because tablets can be changed to cartoons when parents are not looking; and since I never had a tablet she has the one up!
So, I have reverted to old fashioned 1960’s early ’70’s style afternoons. The word I am using is “chores!” … so steps need sweeping, chair legs need wiping down and, since we cannot run off to the store, we have to make things.
What better way to make school like it was before? – Home Economics!!!
Gigi’s too young to iron or sew, but the concept of baking and mixing is a natural for kids who are not in a sand box.
So “High Tea” that was created for that afternoon snack before the dinner was the theme for snacks. Today we made cucumber sandwiches with butter, but yesterday’s scones with heavy clotted cream and home made strawberry jam were a hit … A scone
… and instead of “tea,” Miss Gigi indulges on hot cocoa.
This scone recipe is either gluten free or regular gluten – it is an easy recipe as it uses self-rising flour. If you just have regular flour, no big deal: just use a packet of yeast, mix with some sugar, warm water and a couple tablespoons of flour. It takes 10 minutes to set up and add it to the recipe. Soy flour works great and keeps them light!
Enjoy this snack! Take the 10 minutes to sit and enjoy these with anyone from a child to a partner to a neighbor – if you can still do that. Sconen go a long way and cost less than $3 a batch.
Quickie Scone Recipe♥️:
Made with gluten-free, self-rising flour. If you can’t get it, use gluten free flour and one packet yeast.
Add a tbsp sugar and some warm – not hot – water. Mix together. When it bubbles, add the flour.
Basic scone recipie:
2 cups self rising flour
1 stick soft butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
I two lemon juice
an egg and 1/4 cup warm milk and 1 tbsp baking powder
Mix all the dry ingredients.
Then swish the butter with you fingers.
Add the milk and other wet ingredients.
Flour your surface and add flour as needed to make a soft dough.
Roll into rolls and cut circles …
… brush with another egg.
Bake at 350F 10 to 15 mins. If you add raisins to your dough, boil them first to make them plump.
Kids love to cook. Now may be a good time to teach them the basics …
I love what documentary filmmaker Michael Moore is doing during these uncertain, scary times. The American collapse, a new America being born … Moore is helping me understand it all, wrap my head around the madness …
Often, when Moore’s on cable TV news shows, he’s the young, sexy, smug news caster-hosts’s punch line. They smirk when they interview him because, unlike them, Moore is fat, frumpy, old, insecure and self-effacing – the nerdy kid at your junior high cafeteria lunch table looking for cool validation. Can I sit at your table, Mark? Great i phone, Tammy! Moore’s RUMBLE podcasts blow that bumbling persona outa the water!! You see the real Michael Moore♥️🗽🇺🇸!: Our brilliant and beautiful American Essayist/Artist. Audio only. Truth only. Moore’s TV “costume” – his goofy baseball caps and black sweatshirts and blue jeans gone, along with his blubbery mountain shaped physique. Just his wonderful words. Just his great reporting, interviews, opinions – always real, tough, well-spoken and compassionate. His age and body have been the impediment – what has been keeping him from getting his own cable news show! Reaching millions more … Shame on MSNBC!
🇺🇸People, LISTEN TO his Rumble podcasts, little works of art … little audio jewels that bring us his gorgeous word pictures, his soothing easy-listening voice, his deep knowledge and love of America – all 50 states, his comedy, his no bs advocacy for the average American. US.
Two days ago, in my opinion, Moore put out his masterwork (posted below): the story an artist holed up in his apartment building in NewYork City (for 20+ days), aware of the collapse of America as we know it, aware of death lapping at his door, all our doors, PIS*SED AT OUR MADMAN PRESIDENT – TRUMP AND EVEYTHING TRUMP HAS WROUGHT – bummed and questioning … …. yet LOVE WINS. THE human spirit in NYC – ground zero for the COVID 19 pandemic – soaring, singing, clanging, cussing WINS! AND THEN MOORE WINS! WE WIN!
FU*K YOU, COVID 19!
FU*K YOU, COVID 19!
I don’t want to give away too much. Listen:
IN FRANCE … Chef Joey … An American acts like an American
FRENCH COVID-19 DIARY
BY CHEF JOEY
Chef Joey recipe coming tomorrow …
Did you every think that one day you would be afraid for your own life on a daily basis? Just for going outside? It is surreal. We are all aware of car accidents, so we wear seatbelts … balconies, so we install railings … cold, so we wear jackets and hats … the list goes on and on. I recently came to France to bring my mother back to her home here. My Miss Gigi was enrolled in school and it was great. Daughter Gigi and I headed back to Massachusetts, and we stayed a few weeks … and I was headed back to France knowing about CORONAVirus and COVID-19.
Being a product of the 20’th century, I have seen many changes: from the first man on the moon to out current cell phone watches. We have seen Sars, Ebola, Equine encephalitis, Lyme disease and even as recently as Zika, which was rampant during the Olympics in Brazil. I personally was getting bitten when I was in Martinique a few years ago.
Well, we arrive in France on a Monday. Gigi went back to school on a Tuesday. Wednesday there was no school. Thursday rolls around, and mid-day Italy is in crisis and it’s “Heading our way.” The French president announces the closure of schools starting Monday the 16th. Incidentally, it is Gigi’s birthday – so now I will remember forever! Friday the 13th, ironically, is the last day of school. Posters go up in public parks and supermarkets became mayhem.
So this particular Friday, I walk Gigi to school, come home and get my mother. I said: “Let’s get what we need for a couple of weeks, provisions, as they just announced. Let’s be safe.”
We get to the first market she likes, and we cannot even pull in. We have handicapped cards for parking – all 8 spaces are filled. People are double parked, and there was no way my mother could wait in line to go in. So we left after being stuck in the parking lot for 10 minutes.
We head into the hills of Grasse, perfume country. Being springtime in France, there are flowers and trees budding, and it’s just a beautiful drive. I stop for gas, might as well fill, just up in case. We get to the market. IT IS MOBBED.
I have never seen this store so full of shoppers! We are in, my mother has her carriage, and so do I. We navigated around the store, which is a “Hyper Market” – they sell TV’s appliances plants, almost like a BJ’s, without having to buy bulk. The employees were stocking as fast as the aisles were being emptied. Ironically, pasta, rice and flour were the big-ticket items. We had bathroom paper a plenty on shelves. Things were on sale. My mom even picked up a new twin memory foam mattress for her bed! They come shrink-wrapped and squished like a sleeping bag and, when you cut the plastic wrap, it pops into full shape – 10 hors later it is good to go!
We stop for lunch at one of my mother’s favorite places and head home to unpack the heavily loaded car. Two refrigerators full of food and frozen items and lots of dried legumes, I feel confident that this was the last run. I pick Gigi up at school, talk briefly with the teachers, get the information for on-line class to commence Monday and we walk home.
Saturday, we do usual things. Sunday we went for a walk in a mountain top park for fresh air, only to be told that we were not supposed to be out. I was referred to a website.
Monday morning comes and so does my email from the school with a small video made by her teacher, and a few papers to print out and a list of “TO DO” letters, numbers and shapes. I start to clean. Tuesday is the same, except Tuesday is music day so I download the songs and play them. Gigi knows them all by heart! Even the Italian ones, what a great day! I keep cleaning.
Wednesday there is no school, but we do the letters, shapes and numbers, and then I clean some more.
Thursday, lessons come in, her home schoolteacher is frustrated because it’s math, easy math one plus one, two plus one etc.…. the teacher hands her a calculator and I continues to clean. The whole downstairs has been cleaned, furniture moved, rugs turned and shampooed, walls baseboards and floors cleaned, windows scrubbed, and the smell of cleaner wafts through the rooms. Success. Now the upstairs needs to be done – we will hit that tomorrow.
Thursday night gives us a nice television broadcast by the French president Emmanuel Macron who announces even more “Lockdown.” Schools and non-essential businesses were already closed, but now EVERYTHING is closed: hairdressers, banks (they have been automated for years without tellers so no big deal), garages, lawyers offices, insurance companies, even the government. So when you call an office the phone rings on someone’s cell – whoever is on call, takes the info and says “no worries everything is on hold.”
This is serious stuff. Now, if you leave the house, you have to download a form that is filled out with your civil information, name, address, birthdate, and a reason for leaving the domicile. There are 4 choices: Necessary food shopping, Visit and care for an elderly or handicapped person(s), Personal exercise and or walking a dog or Pharmacy/doctor visit. I don’t even remember Friday’s lesson plan; my head is spinning.
Our friends just over the border, in Italy, had already been on lockdown the week before. They are singing from the rooftops and balconies, and it’s making the news. Saturday the cleaning resumes, and Sunday I am out of cleaning solution and fresh veggies, so I download the form, fill it out and take Gigi and head out. One of my ticket items was planting soil to make a deck garden for a project. We pull out of the driveway, drive a ¼ mile, we round the corner and get stopped by a roadblock. It could have been anywhere like the Gaza Strip, World War II roads, Check-point Charlie; I panic. I actually panic and fumble looking for my “form”! The officer looks at me and Gigi in her car seat. He has me hold the form up, notes my departure time and the date on the form and records my plane number with a scan.Off I go.
Mind you, there are cameras everywhere, and the French Riviera started installing facial recognition cameras everywhere. I feel safe and go to the store. First stop, Carrefour, a lonely store that was short-staffed and did not have the plant soil I needed. Picked up a few items, mostly wine on sale, and continue down the street to Lidl Market – German owned, also part of Adli and Trader Joe’s owner! – no dirt, but a great bakery so we loaded up on croissants and pain au chocolates.
We head to LeClerc, not my favorite, only accessible by car and there was no one there SCORE! Open for biz!
The parking garage was empty, we sanitized a cart and headed up to the store. A small line had formed. It looked longer because each carriage was two meters apart. We walk in, and there is the 20-pound bag of dirt I wanted. We go in and shop for an hour. We get snacks, butter, eggs, flour and go through the cashiers stand, load out grocery bags that we brought, French law for 20 years, head to the car and go home.
We unload our items outside and head into the house to get cloths to wipe down each item before bringing them inside (recommendations that are just hitting stateside). Birds had noticed various items on display, so we had to work quickly! Shopping is now a chore. I must go out again maybe tomorrow and am not looking forward to it.
Things here in Europe are restricted. Nothing is open. Schools are closed and will be for a month. No one can go to work, except large food markets, pharmacies and hospitals. No construction, no stores. When we went to the market last week we passed a garden center with a whole parking lot full of dead plants that were eagerly waiting for people to buy and plant them, trees that were already a couple of years old wilting in their pots from lack of water. This is only one of many stores. There is no real “Take Out” here except for delivery shops that do not accommodate eat-in customers. Everyone must be off the streets by 6 p.m. – police vehicles cruise the streets making announcements to stay home. My new love for cleaning is diminishing, we are doing more dishes than laundry … the food consumption needs to go down. So we are definitely choosing lighter fare at night.
So, having shared what happened here in France and has yet to happen: Stay Home!! Nothing is that important. Take time to relax: we have everything accessible by Internet to keep our minds busy. This is a great time to reconnect with your kitchens. I know many people have them because they came with the house! But soak a bag of garbanzo beans overnight to make hummus or to use in a soup: cut 2 carrot in slices and place in a pie plate with water, place in the sun and watch them take root and plant them in the spring. There are many things to do to reconnect and drop expenses down to near nothing. This is the time to “stretch that dollar”! Here is to all of you staying safe and healthy!