Category Archives: Rosalie’s Blog

“Who Knows Where the Time Goes?”

By Rosalie Tirella

“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!

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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?

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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.

Who knows where the time goes?

Not me! That’s for sure!

We Bowled!🎳♥️ RIP, Colonial!

By Rosalie Tirella

RIP Colonial Bowling on Mill Street, Worcester.

It was my world: Green Street and the sweet Golub brothers (always a club sandwich for a homeless guys!) and BOWLING! 🎳 at Colonial bowling with Uncke Mark and Aunt Mary and their three kids. Almost every weekend Uncle Mark drove his big shiny gold Elektra up tobour Lafayette Street three decker and we kids (Ma following) would run diwnstairs to hop in the car, sit on our older cousins laps and this carload of kids and adults laughing, talking, would make the drive to Colonial. To bowl with little kid friendly little balls. Ma and my sisters loved to bowl – it was a little too boring for me. As I grew into teenhood, I opted out. Ma and my sisters still went running down those stairs – to bowl! They loved it – Bapy watched it on TV! The pros! My Uncle Fred was in a bowling alley – the one his shop sponsored. All the Woo factories and mills had them! I was out of step with Anerica – for so nany years Colonial Bowling’s huge cement parking lot FILLED UP – TOTALLY! – with cars and antsy kids! And some serious bowlers like my uncke and his buddues. They had their own shiny bowling balls, cool vinyl bowling ball carrier bags, cloths, wrist bands … it was its own subculture.

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Worcester factory benefits pamphlet – touting the shop’s bowling league.

Mostly working class. Not hip and cool the way bowling is today – often with cool bars, artisan beers, chi chi food made bu chi chi chefs. Even bands playing in the bar.

🎳We had none of that! Man, we bowled! We got our food – our sustanabce – from the long row of candy, peanut, snack-dispensing machines! Pull that clear plastic knob – plunk, dropped yoyr OH HENRY candy bar. (Ma’s fave.)

🎳Half of America – all our backyard mechanics – all of America’s Hee Haw tv watchers and Betty Crocker cooks bowled. No irony in it for us. But the educated crowd looked down on us hayseeds …

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Ma’s Green Island birthday parties, featuring the charter members of The Bowling Gang♥️!

🎳No matter! My cousin, who grew up to become a doctor, LOVED TO BOWL. WAS SO SERIOUS ABOUT HIS STRIKES AND SPARES. My sweet Aunt Mary spoiled her youngest child, with the blocked ear, no ear lobe, unable to hear in tgat ear! Go, Jeff, go! she’d holler as her little prince bowled. And she’d clap like crazy – even for a few pins knocked down.

🎳We were Polish immigrants who had internalized the American Dream⭐⭐⭐🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸…so we were fiercely competitive. With our neighbors, classmates – each other. My jock kid sister always wanted to beat Jeff. She got plenty of spares – and strikes. In the zone … concentrating so hard, staring at the pins yards ahead down that shiny pristine lane. The owner – I remember: Always so serious and respectful of all his HINDREDS of customers – the kids and the league players. I remember him giving us our special no skid bowling shoes – rentals. Cool color green (or was it red?) on beige…

🎳Bowling was COMMUNITY. The talk in the factory lunch room, the giddy anticipatory chatter at the breakfast table at the Tirella house, Ma frying up her special weekend French toast for us kids – always cutting the bread in quarters and sprinkling them with granulated sugar when done Magic! Would my kid sister beat Jeff? Would my other kid sister get some spares? Would chubby Rosalie STOP ROLLING THOSE GUTTER BALLS?!

🎳As the decades rolled by and I would drive by Colonial I noticed fewer and fewer cars in their parking lot – even on weekends. Finally just around 10 on a Saturday!!! I felt sad … for the owner and the city. Everyone was on FB or Instagram, hiding inside before all kinds of social media platforms and TV choices…streaming their lives away, alone, locked down in their homes.

🎳We had it different when I was young – We played outdoors with all kinds of sketchy friends, we got beat up! and limped home, we bowled gutter balls – AND YET EVERY DAY WE WENT OUT INTO THE WORLD. To have fun, explore, take our lickin’s … DO SO MUCH WITH FAMILY AND TEAMS AND THE GIRLS CLUB.

🎳And we bowled! Love you, Colonial!🎳🎳🎳🎳🎳🎳🎳🎳♥️♥️:

Snow Globe on Mother’s Day

By Rosalie Tirella

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:
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♥️♥️ 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 …
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♥️

… 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 …

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♥️

… 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 …

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♥️

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.

📷Bapy and Jaju: Mad about You!

By Rosalie Tirella

While changing up my kitchen table tablecloth this a.m. …
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🙏

… 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:

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📷

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!

2:
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📷

📷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.

3:
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📷

📷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.

🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶:

Stopping by the Ward Street Dunkin’ Donuts on a Rainy Eve (during the COVID-19 pandemic)

By Rosalie Tirella

So many new CECELIAs to deliver …

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pics: R.T.🎻🎻🎻

… yet today – on this sunny spring day with all the old and young Worcester trees half in bloom and the daffodils outside Price Chopper their buttery-est yellow and the neon-vested construction workers on Millbury Street making THEIR BEAUTIFUL NOISE♥️ again – telling Worcester: WE CHOOSE LIFE! The FUTURE IS OURS! – I choose to stay in my apartment. Under the covers so to speak.

How strange! I’m still in my shorts and tee and old cozy sweater, unshowered – but eating fresh, feasting on the little tangerines I bought yesterday, heating up my leftover tomato-rice mix, topping my bowl off with more cherry tomatoes and the good cheddar cheese I bought yesterday …
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♥️

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… giving myself some self-love.

BUT I AM AFRAID.

The coronavirus sneaked up on me yesterday! At the end of my work day, around 7 p.m., when I was tired from CECELIA delivery and my guard was down. It was raw and raining. I was outside the slumlord Bob Largesse’s crumby building, on Ward/Stone streets, on the right side of his inner-city liquor store, in front of the Dunkin Donuts.

I saw three homeless people – rough …
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Bob Largesse – Canal District “visionary” – owns this dump. Bob is all about money$$$$.

… dirty, covered in layers of bkack and gray rags. Standing in front of, blocking the front door of, the Dunkin Donuts. One guy, the older one, was missing his four front teeth – or they were pretty rotted. So when he basically told me to go Fu** myself, his thin lips curled up to show me his teeth. His lady friend, long-haired heavier looked annoyed – I was the interloper. The kid – in his 20s – held a dog leash … with no dog attached. That would be the beige pitbull hovering by their calves. He was wearing a red tee shirt meant for a human. Like his masters, he too was trying to seek shelter from the rain, dampness and cold. So they all huddled by the Dunkin’ Donuts front door, under that tinny brown piece of crap roof.

I was with my “pups,” Lilac napping in the corner of my car’s backseat …
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🌷🌷🌷🌷

… my high energy Husky-mix Jett boppin’ ’round in back, as he always does (he’s only 12 years old!) But when my hound Lilac got the scent of the pitbull she perked right up and went crazy barking in the back seat.

I grabbed my Dollar Store scissors and a bundle of CECELIAs to make it fast – my delivery – 100 CECELIAs on the DD counter – 100 in their “wrapped” bundle. To deliver cuz the customers love them. I shouted to the little homeless “family”: “CAN YOU MOVE OVER TO THE LEFT? MY DOG IS GOING CRAZY – I DON’T NEED TROUBLE WITH YOUR DOG, AND I NEED TO GET IN TO DELIVER MY PAPERS!

No reaction.

I did not say: You are homeless, bereft, dirty and possibly carrying the novel coronavirus! You are wearing no facial masks! You scare me! And maybe I carry COVID-19 and my bandito mask is slipping off my face and I am too exhausted to readjust it. So I should scare you, too!

Instead I said, the cantankerous old broad I am: “I AM NOT GOING TO GIVE YOU ANY MONEY! LET ME IN!”

And I started the car again and backed up. The pitbull ran onto the highway off ramp, looking comical in his damp red tee shirt, like a pup outa a Charlue Chaplin film. A car whooshing by stopped short, the dog was still running … the older toothless guy grabbed the leash from the kid and went onto the street to get their dog. The man was scrawny and limped and used a gnarly cane that looked like some tree branch he had shorn of its smaller branches and wittled down to some smooth, tan, slippery snake stick.

The medicine show begins!

All the gods are watching us!

But we turn to deviltry!

We are at the end of our COVID 19 tethers – cruel to each other. There is NO VACCINE OR EVEN ANTI-VIRAL MEDS. The package of 30 disposable facial masks I saw at the store today cost $30, and I didn’t have enough money on me to buy them. They flashed before my eyes now, and I thought: I hate poverty. I have been poor all my life! The hard COVID-19 truth.

I said again, turning stubborn, shutting the car engine off: I NEED TO DELIVER MY PAPERS! SOCIAL DISTANCE! YOU ARE LOITERING!!!

And the homeless crew made faces and stood their ground – staked out their three square feet of DD territory.

I had forgotten how I had driven down this street just four months ago – in the dead of a Worcester winter – giving homeless people new warm knit winter hats, gloves and scarves! To help them! Chatting with them under the Green Street bridge, too – and they stuck their pale faces, pock-marked chins into my car, on the passenger side, and patted Lilac on the head and thanked me for my gifts and smiled their toothless smiles – even the beautiful young homeless women.

All that goodness washed away in the COVID 19 rain.

It has been two months and chaos is still here!

I drive by the DCU center, and it looks like a MASH unit with the big white tent, police cruisers, the ambulances, the sawhorses set up all over the place … lost souls with backpacks looking at me with scared eyes. No more bar life here or hockey fun or Woo memorabilia to be sold or jaunty college youth walking in freshly the painted crosswalks. Now sickness and death.

My crew before the Ward Street DD maybe decided to skip all this stuff, to omit the City’s new homeless shelters, the City of Worcester-sponsored coronavirus tests for at-risk populstions like the homeless, the National Guard on hand to guide and help during emergencies. Nope. Not for this round and hard as a chestnut crew huddled together before the front door of the Ward Street Dunkin’ Donuts. They would be free of the societal responsibilities, society in general.

But in my way. I am still trying to do my life’s work!

I should have driven home yesterday and tried again today. But I had dug in, too, like the homeless crew. This old lady who has been running her feisty little rag for almost 20 years. MY RIGHT to deliver my papers to the DD I have been delivering to for years. So I rolled up my car windows and sat in my jalopy, waiting. Waiting. Too tired to think.

Lucky for all of us, the kid behind the counter at the Dunkin Donuts came out in the rain and stood by my car window and grimaced. He was scrawny and pale – and wore his face mask, which he pulled down to talk to me. All the fast food kids make this mistake! All of a sudden my heart broke! He said: THEY CAN STAY HERE! THEY ARE PAYING CUSTOMERS! I showed him my car stuffed with my newspapers – my mask had slipped down too, so we were both talking to each other a foot apart, my car window down, no barriers between us. He said, annoyed at playing ump: DO YOU WANT ME TO BRING THEM IN?!

YES! I said.

I gave him my bundle of CECELIAs through my open car window, and then I drove home. At home I felt infected, guilty, lost, fearful, hating myself. Lost in the brutal America my country has become. Always was if you are poor. I felt covered in novel coronavirus microbes, their red and green coronas sparkly, rolling in the Worcester night, latching on to the starlight and my lungs. That Dunkin Dounts kid – I had forced him out of his work place … he pulled his face mask down in the sea of billions and billions of coronaviruses … and the scared little pitbull in floppy red tee shirt meant for a human. And the homeless “family” sheltering from it all, not believing in science or Worcester outreach workers, or physical distancing or face masks. Just believing in themselves.

The Dunkin Donuts on Ward/Stone streets …

☮️☮️☮️☮️☮️☮️☮️☮️:

Shopping at Worcester supermarkets

By Rosalie Tirella

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pic: R.T.

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 …

🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶:

BE COVID-CREATIVE!!!

Text and pics by Rosalie Tirella

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:

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♥️

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.

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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!!!

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♥️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.

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☕So, ladies, let’s wave our flags! Let’s save our city! And remember: When the going gets tough, the soft get going!

♥️Love you! Stay safe!

**********

♥️🎶♥️🎶:

Palm Sunday. Coronavirus morning …

Text and photos by Rosalie Tirella

This a.m: My breakfast – because it is all I’ve got left in my kitchen cabinets:
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Tuna and Triskets. Bleh. But I am desperate, I am hungry, so I will wolf it all down.
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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 …
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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:
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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, …
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… 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. ♥️:

Our Coronavirus Sci-Fi Prez

By Rosalie Tirella

Wow. Here we all are – in our own science fiction novel. Dystopian with classic characters and situations:

THE EVIL PRESIDENT/KING who misleads the people to stay in power and maintain his cult of personality. The rush to supply stores to buy THAT LAST TINY BOTTLE OF HAND SANITIZER! IT COULD SAVE LIVES! There is NO VACCINE! WE MUST ALL USE COMMON SENSE … but, at the end, it will mean ruthlessly fending for ourselves and our families. Scientests are working hard to make a vaccine, BUT THE KING PRESIDENT HIDES AND DENIES THE SCIENCE. He doesn’t make (for every man, woman and child) – and we🇺🇸 can – THE CORONAVIRUS TEST. He continues to spend Billions$$$ on THE SPACE FORCE. AND BOMBS. So … it is survival of the fittest. The young and healthy will survive …the old – our moms, dads, grandparents – may die as the puny number of VENTILATORS AND RESPIRATORS are given – by the doctors – to the peeps with the most potential: young worker bees …

THIS IS AMERICA TODAY – FOR THE NEXT HALF YEAR OR SO. Some experts predict TWO YEARS.

And our mad/king president Trump is NOT UP TO THE CRISIS. He is no FDR during WW II or JFK during the Cuban Missile Crisis. HE IS A FU* *ING MORON. We, his people, all know this. There is talk of a soft coup … FBI just quietly asking him to step aside, self-quarantine for a while. … Then we get Pence – the VEEP who calls his wife Mama and let scores of AIDS patients die when he ruled Indiana…

My sci fi novel outline … Needs a hero. Maybe MICHAEL MOORE AND HIS PODCAST RUMBLE♥️. MAYBE SOME GENIUS KID AT WPI who makes the vaccine next week …

******
OUR SCI-FI TALE’S MAD KING/PRES:

😢


😢

Two-Tier…Two Tears

By Rosalie Tirella

Yesterday, I know I looked silly, but I decided to eat my lunch in the old Green Street parking lot. Deep in the parking lot, in my car, yards away from shored-up banks of dirt, big gaping holes in the land, big trucks and the far-off hum of construction equipment, too many tools and trucks to count or tease out the specific sounds … of jack hammers, cranes, forklifts, hoses. TOO MANY TOO COUNT!!! And all in that gawd-awful safety color yellow. A Kelley Square STUFFED WITH URBAN RENEWAL MAYHEM!

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Lunch time! pics: R.T.

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Green Street – construction city

The Picket Parking lot is on the edge (near downtown/the Green Street Bridge) of my old stamping grounds – Green Street/Kelley Square, the shopping district of my childhood where there was so much fun – and pain. I let it all wash over my old face: memories of an immigrant neighborhood filled with great/crazy people, food, small businesses, big dreams. No one was trying to be unique back then – no one humble bragged on Facebook about their recent jaunt to Disneyland (we were all too poor to go anywhwre!), but we all were so kick a*s!♥️ DIFFERENT, UNIQUE, WEIRD, and wounded …

So yesterday I ate, seriously, quietly, inside my car, my mutts in the back seat, deep inside the Pickett Municipal parking lot, my Broadway lunch. A big bagel cheese and veggie sandwich with fresh homefries made by Broadway sweet short order cook “Iggly,” who chats with me while he makes my lunch. He calls me “talented” in a matter of fact way while dropping my bagel in the wide-slatted toaster. I smile widely and feel like a million bucks. The Old Worcester!

The Pickett parking lot, soon to be defunct. Soon to be a Woo Sox stadium entrance cum pocket park. In a city that is slow to physically transform itself, a city where it COMFORTS me to drive by the my old, 100-year-old elementary school and the 100-year-old three deckers of my Green Island girlhood, SO MANY BIG CHANGES HAPPENING. … Me and my ilk about to fall over the edge.

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Changes

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Looking at all the construction trucks and big holes and shored-up banks of dirt, I think: THAT IS WHAT THE POWERS THAT BE WANT TO HAPPEN. Us to go away, quietly fade away …

I look out my car window as I drive outa the lot, having eaten my excellent lunch, and see all the well off – and the very poor and homeless!! – in the Canal District. They walk by each other but don’t mix. Or maybe we mix but definitely do not match! … Nothing for us underclassers…All the new construction and still NO FULL SERVICE BANK BUILT for poor locals who don’t own cars…still no Price Chopper or real supermarket that is affordable…THAT ACCEPTS EBT CARDS/FOOD STAMPS.

Blatantly two-tier…the way city big wigs want it to be. They want us out. I shed two tears …
… many more …

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