Tag Archives: incitytimesworcester.org – CECELIA website

Here’s How the film “I AM GRETA” is a Call to Save our Animals, too!🐼🐪🐧🐗🐢🐘🐒🐻🐠🐬🐅

By Zachary Toliver

Greta Thunberg — the renowned climate activist, a devoted vegan, and possibly the only teenage girl driving grown men to rant and rave like children across media outlets — is now the star of her own documentary, I AM GRETA.

The film follows Greta from her lonely start protesting outside Parliament in her native country of Sweden to her speeches inspiring millions to hold strikes for climate change around the globe. While the documentary focuses on the climate crisis as a whole, there are plenty of gems that really resonate with us in the animal liberation movement.

After all, it’s impossible to eat animals and also claim to take climate change seriously.
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Which brings us to the first reality check of the film:

“Adults always say one thing and then do something completely different.”

Greta’s words ring devastatingly true. It reminds us of times when folks have spouted love for animals while chowing down on flesh for dinner.

Greta isn’t a person who says one thing but does another. Her ethics shine throughout the film, most notably when she takes a small boat across the tumultuous Atlantic Ocean— instead of flying — to the 2019 Climate Action Summit in New York City.

During her appearance at the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland, she scoffed that the only vegan options offered were rice and bulgur, while hamburger stations ran out of food. As Greta discusses in the documentary, we’re also disgusted that the top minds working on climate change would actually eat meat and dairy at events focused on saving the planet.

“[Y]ou all come to us young people for hope. How dare you.”

It’s such a cliché to place the burden of change on upcoming generations. In the face of the greatest human challenge in history, adults are forcing young people to be the ones to save civilization as we know it from a complete climate apocalypse.

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Go, Prez Biden!!

But adults are the ones in charge. It’s parents who buy groceries, shop for clothing for their kids, and choose whether or not to patronize businesses that exploit animals for entertainment. They should be teaching personal responsibility by showing it.

Every time someone buys animal flesh, steals eggs from chickens, takes fish from collapsing ecosystems or filthy aquafarms, or drinks milk stolen from a mother, they further the destruction of this planet.

We can all do better by children by living vegan — right here, right now.


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“Once the climate crisis has gotten your attention, you can’t look away. Once you fully understand the magnitude of the problem, then you can’t erase it.”

Like many others, Greta lived in absolute privilege — consuming tons of meat, buying lots of things, and flying all over the world. But once she learned how these choices increase our carbon footprint, she made changes. She stopped flying, stopped eating meat and dairy, and stopped buying new things.

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This is why informing the masses about animal exploitation is so vital. When people finally witness video footage of farmers bludgeoning cows with sledgehammers, throwing live baby chicks into grinders, or chopping off the tails of screaming sheep, they have only two options: change their lifestyle to benefit animals (and the planet) or admit that they don’t care about these sentient beings. But they can never again claim ignorance.

“I have to get emotional once, it’s only reasonable.”

When asked what made her cry during her speech given to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, Greta replied that it was talking about animals going extinct.

Family, we know this work gets hard. It’s maddening to witness animals suffering every single day because of speciesism. It’s disheartening to experience a global pandemic caused by eating animals. It’s soul-crushing to see forest fires catalyzed by the greedy meat industry destroy ecosystems and decimate wildlife populations.

To every activist out there, it’s OK to cry, take a moment for yourself, or ask for help. Burnout is real. We must take care of ourselves to continue this fight.

“We will be a pain in the ass, we will keep on striking until they do something.”
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Save our earth’s atmosphere! SO WE CAN BREATHE, SO OUR POLAR BEARS AND OTHER PRECIOUS WILDLIFE WON’T GO EXTINCT, SO OUR EARTH’S TEMP DOES NOT GO UP UP UP!

Cheers to that, Greta. For 40 years, PETA has been a proud disruptor of human speciesism around the globe. Our haters should know by now that we’ll never give up until every cage is empty and all animals are free from exploitation. And if our track record is any indication, the end of rampant animal exploitation may be here sooner than you think!

As Greta said, “[C]hange is coming, whether you like it or not.”

Be a Leader, Not a Follower! Go Vegan Today
The United Nations has stated that meat consumption must decrease by as much as 90% in order for us to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change.

Thankfully, going vegan is easier than ever. Reduce your contribution to climate change by going vegan today. Go even further by persuading a friend or loved one to do the same!

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💃New from Chef Joey: 🍎APPLE TURNOVERS! + more😊

Text + photos by Chef Joey

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Joe Joe!

Here is a quick-pinch recipe that is so easy to make! You don’t even have to think – it practically makes itself!

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Apples are good for you, have natural sugar and, combined with some raisins (I like the golden ones), a little sugar, cinnamon and a blob of butter to keep your cheeks rosy – you have the filling for these apple turnovers. Made them yesterday for my daughter Gigi and mom. The easy part is ready-made pie crusts or, for a fancy “puff,” you can use puff-pastry sheets that you find in the freezer section.

So for each “turnover” you need one apple peeled and cored and cut up –

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… if you have large apples, obviously you would use fewer.

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For each apple, figure on 1 tsp of additional sugar and 1/4 tsp cinnamon.

I cut the apples into pieces, …

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… put them in a saucepan with a little bit of water so they do not burn.

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Cover and stir. Then add a cup of raisins per 4 apples. When apples are soft, but not mush, spoon the appropriate amount in your already quartered crust …

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– fold and place on a cookie sheet.

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Keep in mind they still may run, so use a tray with a lip, and parchment paper is your friend at clean up time! Best liner for baking ever!

Brush the tops with melted butter or a whisked egg and bake in a hot oven 350 degrees for about 20 mins – until the crust is cooked:
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Joey’s apple turnover – delicious AND SO EASY TO MAKE!

Let them cook for a minute and enjoy! Inexpensive to make – and so tasty!

And … if you want that pastry shop look, after you glaze them with the egg wash, sprinkle some sugar on them before baking.

Enjoy!

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Gigi’s healthy and strong, thanks to Papa Joey’s homecookin’!

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❤❤Jamie!❤❤:

Edith – always in style!🌲🌲🌲🌲

Thanksgiving Thoughts

By Edith Morgan

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Edith😊

This was a strange Thanksgiving year for the traditional feast: Many of us stayed home, and many of us gathered in small groups at the home of family or relatives. Of course, we all had bought and prepared more than we needed. Are we still afraid that there will not be enough, even after getting stuck every year with all kinds of leftovers, and eating them in various forms for the following week?

I spent the afternoon and evenings with one of my families, and this was the first year I did not have to rise at 6 a.m. on Thursday to stuff and put a turkey in the oven. And it was the first year we had a small turkey, only 11 pounds, unlike the usual 24-pound monster we have had every year. There were only six of us at the table, yet we had such a varied array of side dishes, as well as the obligatory pies (five different kinds), with only one made from scratch.

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Bowl of cherries! file photo: Chef Joey

And this year no football extravaganza, so we ended up playing several rounds of “Rummykub” instead of being glued to the TV set. We really did not dwell upon the reason for the holiday – although I had given it a lot of thought before the actual feast time.

But this year there was an added dimension: many of us became aware that this festival is not reason for rejoicing for the indigenous inhabitants of this continent. And when I came home loaded with leftovers, I felt bad that I had so much, too much, while there are soup kitchens, food banks, and many other sharing activities going on around this city, trying to feed those who were too poor, displaced, recently out of a job, or evicted.

Because of the virus and my age, I could not go out and share. So the very least I can do is not to waste the leftovers and continue to be grateful that I have enough food for the coming week …

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FYI:

Fruit Cocktail❤

Text and pics by Rosalie Tirella

Yesterday was a sheltering-in-place kind of Thanksgiving. Made all the veggies and sides – but ate no turkey, for love of the bird❤. …

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Then, I found this culinary talisman, a can of fruit cocktail and burst into tears:

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❤😪

I called the old beau and sobbed to him: “I MISS MY MOM”! He knew Cecelia, too, and loved her, too – more than me at the end. When Ma was dying, he raced from a work site to the nursing home to say goodbye to her. He was in his painters pants and covered in white paint strokes. He looked exhausted – but went to my mom’s bedside to “just visit.” Not a huggy guy, he said, formally: “How are you?”

Ma said: “Fine! You’re looking good, ‘John’!

Both lousy liars. Ma died several hours later. John went back to his worksite, then helped me remove Ma’s stuff from her half of the nursing home bedroom the next day.

But I digress. Back to the can of fruit cocktail. …

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When I was a little girl growing up in Green Island, fruit cocktail – the sweetened kind – was a staple in our Lafayette Street flat. Ma loved it, used it almost every day: as an appetizer served in a little bowl, for all of our father’s steak dinners – when Daddy was around. She poured it over her Corn Flakes for breakfast. She urged us to eat it too – over our Corn Flakes or as a stand alone dinner staple, to be savored before supper. Or for dessert.

Right before our birthdays – Ma would walk to Supreme Market on Millbury Street and buy her Cecelia Kiddie Birthday Party Bonanza for me, my sisters and our party guests, Uncle Mark, Aunt Mary and their three kids, our cousins: three big cans of fruit cocktail, a box of Duncan Hines Cherry Supreme cake, eggs, Betty Crocker canned chocolate frosting and a jar of red cherries.

Then she’d go to White’s Five and Ten across the street for paper cups and plates, a plastic table cloth, paper party hats, party favors, a small box of pink candles and a Pin the Tail on the Donkey wall game – and Scotch Tape to keep it all together.

Ma would bake her instant cake – and give me the bowl to lick (never got sick!). When the two pink layers were baked, Ma frosted them and then cracked open her little jar of red maraschino cherries, cut all of them in half and decorated her cake with them. I hung out with Ma at the kitchen table, watching her, admiring her artistry, hoping she’d hand me a few sweet cherries. She did.

But for Ma, the big event was pouring all those cans of fruit cocktail into a special, BEAUTIFUL, glass punch bowl, gingerly placing a clear plastic ladle in it, then pulling the tiny glass bowls out of the china closet and setting it all up on our big laundry wash tubs in our kitchen – now covered with a lid and a plastic table cloth. Cake and fruit cocktail front and center; sandwich meat from Buehler Brothers Meat Market on Millbury Street, State Line potato chips, Cheetos and Wonder Bread flanking the heart of the spread. Ma made a ritual of serving everyone their fruit cocktail, ladling it in the tiny bowls…serving us kids from the left. Very classy. Very Eisenhower 1950s wife and mom.

Ma had learned all this in Springfield during the Great Depression, when she was a maid/assistant cook to her sister for the Bishop of Springfield. The pious bishop ate like a hog: roast beef, steak, salmon, shrimp cocktail, homemade desserts every night. And fruit cocktail.

My mother, a young Catholic girl …
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Cecelia, left, in Springfield, with one of her big sisters, Aunt Mary.

… working away from home, Worcester, to send money home to her Polish immigrant parents, was proud to be working for the CATHOLIC CHURCH. Almost Royalty! Practically Presidential! Beautiful china. The best cuts of meat! Linen napkins. Silver tableware. Cream for your coffee. And FRUIT COCKTAIL!!! … Thirty years later available at Supreme Market on Millbury Street! For cheap!

Holding that tiny fruit cocktail tin yesterday, I realized the fruit cocktail we were swimming in at Lafayette Street when I was a little girl, was, for our sweet mother, a reminder of holy, halcyon days: days sans a face-slapping, screaming, red-faced Daddy; a big, cold tenement to heat with just a gas stove, with gas log, in the kitchen in winter time, and two small electric heaters in the kids’ bedrooms. Poverty 24/7: 60-hour work weeks at the dry cleaners, walking all over our gritty neighborhood to work, shop, work, work, work … Spring, summer, autumn, winter …

Putting can opener to a big can of fruit cocktail brought Ma to a better place: memories of the Bishop’s big Victorian House, with radiators for warmth, her two big sisters for company, mass and Holy Communion every morning – and her two beloved Doberman pinschers, Rocky and Bridgette. And their cat who had adorable kittens twice a year.

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Cecelia in Springfield, with Dobbie Bridgette.

Then here in Worcester the sweetened bits of pears, peaches and grapes conjured up beautiful kiddie birthday parties with pin the tail on the donkey games! And dressing up her three little girls wicked cute!:

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Rosalie, center, with her two little sisters.

Beef loaf from Bueller Brothers, maybe a jar of pigs knuckles, too (not bad)! Singing HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! …a sweetener for Corn Flakes, meals, snacks … her hardscrabble life.

That’s why I cried yesterday.

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VICTORY! Ascena Retail Bans Alpaca after Talks with PETA!

By Tara DiMaio

After PETA released our first-in-the-world undercover investigation into the alpaca industry, ascena retail group has banned alpaca and will fully eliminate the material from its product lines going forward!

This huge victory will prevent many alpacas from being roughly shorn. The company previously banned mohair and angora after PETA exposed the cruel industries that exploit goats and rabbits for their hair.

All of ascena’s brands — including Ann Taylor, LOFT, Lou & Grey, and Lane Bryant — are excluding alpaca from future collections.

Why Did ascena Say Goodbye to Alpaca?

ascena joins a growing list of retailers that have banned alpaca after seeing PETA’s undercover footage of rampant abuse in Peru, the world’s top alpaca producer.

Workers at the largest privately owned alpaca farm slammed pregnant alpacas onto tables, causing many to vomit and cry out in fear. The workers strapped these sensitive beings to a device resembling a medieval torture rack before stealing their fleece, leaving some bleeding after crudely shearing them.

And the cruelty doesn’t end there. When their fleece is no longer wanted, alpacas aren’t left in peace to roam fields or spend time with their families — instead, they’re slaughtered.

Alpacas feel love, anxiety, and sadness, just like humans. They even hum when they’re curious or content. Baby alpacas, known as cria, stay with their mothers for at least six months in their natural habitat. They deserve to spend their days eating herbs and cuddling with their young, not being stretched out on a restraining device or thrown around for fashion.

Your Voice Helps Keep Baby Alpacas With Their Mothers

PETA’s undercover investigation — and more than 100,000 signatures from supporters like you — persuaded major retailers to drop alpaca, a product of fear. Valentino and ESPRIT are just a couple of the high-end designers that banned alpaca, in a move that spares the lives of gentle animals. But some companies still profit from the pain and torment of alpacas in the name of fashion.

Please urge Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie and Free People to stop selling alpaca and all other animal-derived materials now!

Thankful!😌❤

Text and photos by Rosalie Tirella

Have a grateful THANKSgiving, Worcester! I am grateful for my life, my choices: almost 20 years of InCity Times/CECELIA newspaper, 12 years of incitytimesworcester.org

Today I am recalling some of Worcester’s great ones, thankful for having known them:

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ROBERTA OF THE LONG GONE BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN Java Hut at Webster Sq. – 20 years ago, there she was standing behind her coffee-house’s counter making me java!

An ICT advertiser and beautiful lady to all in the city, Roberta was ahead of her time, the Java Hut the cool precursor to all future Woo coffeehouses, terrific sandwiches, artisan coffee, poetry readings and gangly folk music players. …
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Roberta!!

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Buddy!❤❤

❤Buddy Brouseau, executive director of the long gone PIP wet shelter in Main South (above, standing at the PIP’s client coffee bar). In recovery, Buddy called the men and women of the PIP – most drunk, many strung out on heroin – “my brothers and sisters” AND HUGGED THEM, FED THEM, LOVED THEM.

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The late great Polish Santa (Tony Hmura)

...🎅The late great Polish Santa (aka the late Tony Hmura) pictured here loading up his trunk/sleigh on Canterbury Street with toys for Worcester’s inner-city kids:

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On Dasher, on Dancer … on Dodge!

I spent many a Christmas handing toys out with the Polish Santa!
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❤G’s Cuttin’ Up’s BEST BARBER – I called him Pops to myself. A true father figure in Piedmont to all the young men and boys – doing the fades, cutting the locks, showing Black boys love, talent, a work ethic, hope:
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Miss the hugs, my dear friend! …

❤Q-Village Angels …

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The ❤ of QVCC Food Pantry!

…❤ The lovely old couple who ran the old Quinsigamond Village Neighborhood Village food pantry. They were in their late 70s and yet they drove all over Worcester to pick up donations, stocked the shelves, kept their list/records and manned it – 20+ hours a week! The husband, pictured above, was adorable! His wife of decades nice – but firm! They were on our InCity Times cover years ago – beautiful!

… 🌸St. Mary’s Elementary School …

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A procession to shrine and church! photos submitted.

👬👭… – here, its last nun-principal, a nice lady whose name I’ve forgotten:
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… St. Mary’s Elementary School – closed forever in the spring. Gone are the student processions to their little Polish church on Ward Street – the beloved church of my childhood! They are marching almost!! … across the street, in uniforms, neat and well scrubbed AND RESPECTFUL – the teacher proudly carrying the American flag. Today, I am so GRATEFUL FOR THIS GRAND COUNTRY, OUR America!!! And dear friends …❤

Looking for that ol’ snow plowing picture of the ol’ beau, outside of the long gone, much loved, Tweeds on Grove Street …

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Rosalie, November 2020. Thankful!!

From City Councilor Moe Bergman’s son, Max …

REMEMBER TO NEVER FORGET

By Max Bergman

A recent nationwide survey shows a “worrying lack of basic Holocaust knowledge” among adults under 40, including over 1 in 10 respondents who did not recall ever having heard the word “Holocaust” before.

The Holocaust ended some 75 years ago and was the period between 1939-1945 (World War II). Although, that may seem like a long time ago to some, and it may even be a lifetime for others, for me there is no amount of time that is long enough for the stories of what happened during the Holocaust to be forgotten.

For me the Holocaust is very personal. I have particularly strong memories as a child of this time of year. For those of the Jewish faith this time of year we celebrate the Jewish New Year holidays with family and friends. My grandmother and grandfather’s house (“Bubby” and “Zadie” in the Yiddish language) was always the place where we celebrated these holidays.

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Max’s late grandparents lived long, fruitful lives in Worcester! photos submitted

My grandparents rarely volunteered to talk about this horrific period when both their respective families were murdered by the Nazis and they were interned in concentration camps. Rather, they always carried themselves in a way that served as an example for me of dignity, courage and optimism.

My grandfather was from Warsaw, Poland. During the Holocaust he participated in the heroic Warsaw Ghetto uprising, which made it possible for Jewish people living in Warsaw to delay their deportation to concentration/death camps.

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In Poland 91% of all those of the Jewish faith were believed to have been murdered during the holocaust. My grandmother was from a small village outside Vilnius, Lithuania. In Lithuania 83% of all those of the Jewish faith were believed to have been murdered during the holocaust.

When both my grandparents were liberated from concentrations camps in 1945, neither one had a known living relative. In 1949 they immigrated to America with no family, money or understanding of the English language.

Although, my grandfather developed Alzheimer’s Disease when I was still a young child, I know his story well because it has been passed down through his children (my Dad, Moe Bergman) to his grandchildren (me): Immediately after the Holocaust, my grandfather met our grandmother in a displaced person’s camp in Poland. They got married that same year (1945) and they waited together in Germany for permission to legally come to America in 1949.

Settling in Worcester, my grandfather started his own business, provided for his wife and four children, put all of his children through college, and relished the second chance that this country and this city gave him.

Our grandmother also never wasted a minute in her adopted homeland. She was always cooking and cleaning and gardening and taking care of everyone and everything.

It was/is hard understand how two people who witnessed so much hate could have so much faith and love. Their faith and the way in which they unconditionally loved their children and grandchildren has had an everlasting impact on the way I value family, life and Judaism. They never questioned their faith and the tragedy of losing their entire family during the Holocaust. They remained driven to create a new family together and to relish their new lives in America.

I had the greatest blessing of being able to spend a lot of time with my grandmother as a child. My grandmother was never shy when I asked her to tell stories of her survival. One such story was the escape from “the Ponary Massacre.” This place of death, outside Vilnius, Lithuania, accounted for the deaths of about 100,000 persons, mostly of the Jewish faith. Men, women and children were lined up around an open pit and shot down by machine guns. My grandmother escaped death by calling out a Nazi participant and appealing to his religious faith. He pulled her out of line and told her that her willingness to challenge him earned his respect and that he would hide her in his home. She hid in his basement for several weeks until he could no longer do so for fear of himself being caught.

Hiding a Jew was a crime during the Holocaust which was punishable by death. My grandmother was one of only a few known survivors to have survived the Ponary massacre. Just like my grandfather, my grandmother never let her past interfere with her drive to create a better life for her family. She embraced the Jewish traditions and taught me the value of faith and the importance of family.

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It has been many years now since losing both my grandmother and grandfather, but their lessons, values and legacies remain with me every day. Their strength and survival is my heritage, and I never let that go unnoticed. I am only able to be here today because of their bravery and sacrifice.

Their stories will be passed down to my children and, in this way, I will help people to learn to “Never Forget”!

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FYI:

Suicide Prevention: the School’s Role

By Edith Morgan

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Edith and family

In my experience, the best preventer of suicide among the young is a caring and supportive adult: teacher, relative, best friend and, of course, a warm, understanding and aware family.

Do we have school counselors in all our schools? Or do we have enough school psychologists in the system so we can do interventions right in school? Is our system flexible enough so that when a student feels at the end of his/her rope, someone is there to listen and help?

I became a foster parent quite by accident: I was a teacher and my then-husband (since deceased) was the system’s psychologist. One day he was informed by the high school home economics teacher that one of her students was threatening to take a whole bottle of pills (aspirin, I think) because she could not go on. She was referred to my husband, who ascertained that the problem was home: her stepfather had threatened to kill her if she complained to anyone – She had finally worked up the courage to say something – but now was in great danger if she went home after school.

At that time, there was not the crushing bureaucracy and paperwork we now have, so my husband made arrangements to place her in the hospital, while something could be worked out for her. As we were the only ones she knew (her stepfather had kept her completely isolated), when the social worker at the hospital asked where she wanted to live, she asked if she could live with us.

She was 17, and she became a member of our family and completed school. I will not go into the details, which would make a fascinating story all on their own.

I bring up this example because I feel strongly that we need to be very cautious about whom we notify when there is a suspected suicide attempt. In all my years as a foster parent and teacher, most of the cause is either the student’s home or bullying by peers – which has gotten much worse in recent years because of the ease and anonymity of computers.

The first task af anyone at the school should be to give support to the student, find out why suicide seems to be the only way out, and then decide what help is needed. This takes a professionally trained person – and the important thing is NOT to notify family, until we know exactly what the causes are.

Too often it is unfortunately the family that is the cause, and too many students need protection from their own.

The other problem, bullying, either in person or on Facebook/social media, should be dealt with at the school – often it is a classmate or a group of them, and the school counselor, with the teacher, needs to get to the bottom of this behavior. Again, there is really very little that the parents can do, but there is much that counselors and psychologists can do.

The first priority should be the victim, and then attempts can be made to remedy the situation.

I would be very strongly opposed to involving police, or anyone having police powers in the school. Most teachers are aware of the kind of turmoil some of their students are experiencing and should have enough leeway to follow their hearts and offer help without judging.

Our schools are quite rigid and authoritarian, and therefore it is too easy to just overlook and even punish or ridicule those who can not always cope with everything that comes their way.
So many of our students today carry great burdens. But, if at least in their school day, they are able to find a safe and accepting haven, many will make it – not as great test takers, but as functioning human beings.

🍎🍎🍎🍎🍎🍎🍎

FYI:

Holiday stories for you!🌲❄🎅⛄

Christmas Dolls

By Rosalie Tirella

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Rose, November 2020

When I was a kid growing up in Green Island, Christmas used to mean getting that ONE SPECIAL DOLL from Santa Claus – aka Ma and Whites Five and Ten on Millbury Street – on Christmas morn – and always being disappointed after the wrapping paper was torn off. Santa (Ma) had refused to follow – just like the year before – the latest doll trends, watch the latest doll TV commercials, or even bother to learn about Barbie’s new Malibu Barbie beach house!! She always bought my two sisters and me the same old big, nondescript plastic dolls sitting high atop the dusty ol’ shelves of dusty ol’ Whites. The out-of-date dolls that Mrs. White, a towering “doll” in her own right, attired impeccably in navy blue dress and jacket, nylons, black pumps, with her jet-black dyed hair puffed up high into a towering bouffant – gently foisted on her. Mrs. White was a more interesting “doll” than the dolls she sold in her store! I loved to look at her – her foot-high bouffant, her ample bosom stuffed neatly into her dress, the heavy beige makeup caked on her not very pretty face, her classic red lipstick, the elegant way she walked through the shade and curtain section of Whites Five and Ten.

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Cecelia – Rose’s mom’s – work vest (one of three) she wore at the Green Island drycleaners she worked at for decades. She bought this vest for herself 40+ years ago at White’s Five and Ten! Now it hangs on Rose’s bedroom wall, in honor of Cecelia’s life of integrity and love.

My sisters, pictured below, were always satisfied, happy with their Christmas dolls:

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They let Ma put them in the special rocking chair in our Green Island kitchen to snap one of her famous Ma photos – same rocking chair, same Brownie camera every Christmas, Easter and Birthday. “Say Cheese!!” our sweet mother would gush as she pushed the camera button – photographing her own little dolls holding their own little dolls. Us – the gifts she loved most in her world – “my three girls” she would boast to anyone within ear shot! No TV commercials needed to sell our mother on motherhood. She loved it all. Here she is holding me!:

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Cecelia❤ and baby Rose

But I wanted more. Was ambitious for my dollies. Ma was too poor to be trendy. In a time in America – the late 1960s – when fashion was king, and pop culture ruled, Ma was still stuck in Whites Five and Ten. She was oblivious to walking, talking, hair-growing, pop-song singing dolls. And STILL happy! Ma stuck to the basics at Christmas time: pretty plastic dolls in pretty dresses with curly hair – sort of like the perms Ma sported – bought at Whites, in our neighborhood. Dolls that we could hold and hug and kiss and put in our doll carriage and wheel around our big tenement – BUT DID ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

“Ma!” I’d say, “Please! Can Santa bring me an Easy Bake Oven!” Christmas morn I’d get that tiny plastic dish and pot set I’d seen at Whites. Months ago. Or: “Ma! Can Santa bring me talking Barbie and Ken? Pull the string in their necks and they REALLY REALLY TALK, Ma!!” She’d smile her beautiful smile, but Christmas morn I’d get a boring plastic knock-off Barbie with crumby wardrobe from Whites Five and Ten! She didn’t even have bendable knees like the REAL Barbies you saw on TV!

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Rose’s ancient Christmas stocking! Bought for her by mom Cecelia many Christmas days past – at White’s! Cecelia bought three stockings – one for each of her daughters. On Christmas eve she stuffed each one with an orange, walnuts in their shells, a little prayer card, plastic rosary and small plastic doll. On Christmas morn, we’d find our stockings lying by our bed pillows.

Every Christmas was a bust. But there was more, something beyond dollsville: church and all the beautiful organ music and singing Christmas hymns together with all the people at St. Mary’s. There was the visit to Uncle Mark’s family on the other side of Worcester the day after Christmas – turkey dinner, ice cream cones for dessert, Ma kicking her shoes off, wearing the cute pink fuzzy slippers Aunt Mary gave her to put on … All of us kids playing Monopoly on the living room carpet in that cozy cottage with the tv on and Ma and Aunt Mary sitting in their Lazy Boys sipping their coffee and enjoying a danish from Widoffs Bakery on Water Street. Uncle Mark made the special trip – and the bulkies were still fragrant and soft at dinner time! Uncle Mark was an elementary school principal, owned a home and car – our cousins had all the beautiful TV dolls and battery powered Tonka Trucks. And boy! was it great to try them out!

Yet there was something about Ma in those fuzzy pink slippers, laughing with Aunt Mary, eating her danish, enjoying her day off from the dry cleaners, looking so pretty in Aunt Mary’s little living room brimming with kids, toys and their big white Christmas tree … I just wanted to cuddle up at Ma’s feet and bask in her joy, her love, my own Christmas doll!:
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Cecelia, on the Worcester Common, circa 1962

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BOOKENDS

By Rosalie Tirella

Last night I spoke to an old beau over the phone. We talk on the phone often these days – “just friends” these days. He had been scheduled for a “procedure” at UMass hospital: a stent was to be inserted into his aorta. But a day before he was to go into the hospital, he blacked out (symptom of a blocked, clogged aorta) and tumbled down three flights of stairs, and collapsed on a first-floor landing, unconscious, bruising his ribs, his back, his arm.

He was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance inside which, he quietly told me, the EMTs were rough and uncaring. He felt alone. The aorta procedure was postponed and he was checked out by nurses and doctors and brought home.

Now, recuperating in his big bed, the antique bed his grandmother Anna willed to him decades ago, he acknowledges in that sexy voice of his that he’s the antique now – and “still happy. I am old but I am happy,” he says, quoting a fave Cat Stevens tune (“Father and Son”):


His big German Shepherd Dog is old, too, lying heavily by his side, her big head on his stomach, the loyal old dog, a “rescue” on which he spent thousands of dollars to bring back from her brink: preventing blindness, joint pain, crippling of her back. Anna, named after his beloved late granny, the only adult in his childhood and youth who was kind to him. Both his parents were nightmares. …

His transistor radio is on, softly playing on his night table (yes! he still has his radio from his youth!) … the FM radio station is playing “oldies” in the background. It felt like years ago when we first met and loved – and we would chat on the phone for an hour or so – the same little radio playing classic rock and pop. When we were both younger, more ambitious – and had landlines! Now me, almost 60, he, now in his early 70s, are just bookends … to a period in our lives that we shared: concerts every weekend, all over New England!; plowing the Worcester snow in winter, for hours, our city silent and beautiful, sleeping beneath her blanket of downy innocence … listening to music playing on his truck’s radio and kissing at all the red lights … eating a late-night meal at the now long gone Tweeds on Grove Street, while the snowflakes still came down in sheets of pettiness.

Late last night, it felt intimate and real and true again: We talked of America, our dogs, music … and our youth, now a dream – “a time of innocence, a time of confidences” just like in this Simon and Garfunkel tune, below. We talked of dice being tumbled and how bad luck – awful bad luck, like the death of his spouse at 48 from cancer, years ago – does irreparable damage to a man. You cannot recover – ever – you can only coast, numb yourself to the pain and listen to your radio playing softly in the November night …


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❄From Chef Joey! Thanksgiving dinner starter❄ …

STUFFED GRAPE LEAVES: Try These as a Thanksgiving Starter for your Smaller Crowd This Year!

By Chef Joey

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Chef Joey! file photo: Rose T.

It’s the fall and with it comes crisp air and, of course, outdoor lawn maintenance, mainly leaves and getting rid of them. They are beautiful to look at and give us wonderful shade in the summer, so we really cannot complain.

Leaves of many plants, however, go back thousands of years as a food source. Immediately, grape leaves are probably the most popular these days. However, other leaves are still used with food, sort of an organic wrap if you will: corn husks for tamales, for example; avocado, banana and plantain leaves are also used. In Asia it is not uncommon to find foods wrapped in curry leaves, coconut or even palm leaves. In India they use banyan tree leaves as dishes! They dry out the leaves and stack them and hold them together with wooden sticks – quite creative!

Today’s recipe is all about grape leaves. They are usually served as an appetizer or a dinner. There are even sweet versions, notably Persian, that are sweet in nature and are a good energy snack.

The “Old Wives Tale” is you need to pick the grape leaves before the 4th of July to have the most tender ones. They are usually blanched, and they used to “jar” them. However, we now have freezers for quick storage.

I personally buy them in a jar, at any Middle Eastern or specialty store. There can be anywhere of 50 to 100 in a jar, depending on the size, and they sell for about $3.50. A cup of rice, and if you add meat, excluding labor, you have a meal for quite a few people for well under $10. Today’s focus is on golden raisin sweet and sour ones, and a meat recipe for those staunch meat lovers.

To make grape leaves, you will need a jar of leaves, take them out and rinse them in a colander to wash off the vinegar water.

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Take them and lay them flat and using scissors remove the stems that are intertwined. You will eventually take a tablespoon of your stuffing place it in the middle, cover with the bottom piece, then each side and roll to the top.

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For vegan grape leaves or “Dolmas” take one regular size onion and cut into tiny pieces:
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In a deep saute pan add some olive oil and toss the onions in until translucent, add 1 cup clopped parsley …

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… and 2 tablespoons of chopped mint …

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… add 1/2 cup of short grain rice and 1 ½ cups veggie broth or water and veggie bouillon cubes.

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Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer about 30 mins until the rice is cooked.

When done add 1 cup golden raisins (brown work, too), 2 tablespoons of pomegranate concentrate (grenadine works too) and 2 tablespoons lemon juice and a little salt and pepper.

Mix well and spoon 1 large teaspoon and roll the leaves!

Any small or broken leaves are used to line your pan because we are not quite done – so in a large pot wipe the bottom with olive oil and with the broken small or torn leaves, line the bottom about 2 layers – its not waste as you can eat those after too!

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As you roll the leaves, place them in the pan in a circular way and layer them as needed. When you are done, mix ½ cup water with 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, pour over the grape leaves – add a touch more water if they are not slightly covered.

Place an oven proof plate on top for weight – I usually use a pie plate – you can also use a pan that fits in the pan with a weight in it (coffee cup for example). Cook on a low heat for 45 minutes – let cool and enjoy! You can eat them warm or cold!

Ingredients:

Extra virgin olive oil (about 3 tbsp total)

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1 small chopped onion

¼ tsp salt

pinch of black pepper

1 cup chopped parsley (flat)

1 tbsp chopped mint

½ cup uncooked small grain rice

1 1/2 cups vegetable broth

1 cup golden raisins

2 tbsp pomegranate concentrate

3 tbsp lemon juice

½ cup water

jar of grape leaves

For meat grape leaves, soak the rice in a bold of water until you can squeeze the rice in half with your fingernails. The difference being that you take the soaked rice and mix with the meat mixture and then you cook them in beef broth until the rice cooks.

1 jar grape leaves

1 1/2 cups short grain rice soaked in water 15 mins

olive oil

1 medium onion chopped fine

1 pound ground beef

salt to taste

black pepper

½ tsp cumin

1 tsp allspice (mix of nutmeg and cinnamon)

½ cup of parsley finely chopped. (You can use all parsley too and no mint.)
½ cup of mint finely chopped.
½ cup dill finely chopped (CAN ASLO BE ADDED – I DON’T)

Same story: add a couple tbsp olive oil to the pan, sauté the onion until translucent, add the meat and cook (remove any excess grease), then add all the spices – drain the rice and mix in and stuff the same way. REMEMBER the rice will expand! – cover with beef stock – I add a couple of sliced tomato for extra flavor …

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– however, you don’t have to. Cook for 45 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!

They are delicious with plain yogurt – you can even add chopped mint, cucumbers and some garlic to make a tzatziki-like dip!

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Yummy appetizers!

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