Posted in Community History on February 25th, 2014
The snow, cold and ice have been steady companions this winter. Yet, as each day departs and another one begins, spring inches closer. Actually, the birds begin singing, snow banks start to dwindle, and even the sky looks brighter.
So, as we march into March, which by the way is the first month in the Roman calendar and named after Mars (a.k.a., Martius, the Roman god of war), here are some local and state March tidbits to ponder.
- On March 1, 1692, the Salem Witch Trials begin.
- On March 2, 1816, Alexander Hamilton Bullock, 26th Governor of Massachusetts, was born in the great City of Worcester.
- On March 4, 1634, I’ll Drink to That became the first tavern in the American colonies, and it opened in Boston! (Um, I’ll drink to that).
- On March 4, 1830, Massachusetts native and sixth President of the United States, John Quincy Adams, returned to Washington after his presidential term to serve as Congressional representative.
- On March 5, 1770, five men were killed and six were injured in the infamous Boston Massacre.
- On March 8, 1979, Andy Ross, famous guitarist, keyboardist and vocalist, was born in Worcester.
- On March 12, 1888, the Great White Blizzard began and wreaked havoc in Massachusetts and other areas in the Northeast.
- On March 16, 1850, Scarlet Letter, penned by famed Massachusetts writer Nathaniel Hawthorne, was published.
- On March 16, 1911, esteemed sculptor and metal smith Joseph Skinger, was born in Worcester.
- On March 18, 1953, the National Baseball League approved the Boston Braves move to Milwaukee.
- On March 25, 1774, Parliament passed The Boston Port Bill, which closed Boston ocean traffic. The bill was enacted in response to the 90,000+ pounds of tea tossed in Boston Harbor (a.k.a., Boston Tea Party).
- On March 30, 1849, the Ordinance to Establish the Seal of Worcester City passed.
- On March 31, 1776, Abigail Adams, a Massachusetts native, penned a letter to her husband, John Adams, and urged him and fellow members of the Second Continental Congress to “remember the nation’s women as they fight for independence from Great Britain.”
There are many idioms associated with the month of March: mad as a March hare; when March comes in like a lion, it goes out like a lamb; March Madness. Interestingly, March 1 is the first day of meteorological spring in the Northern Hemisphere.
Still, whatever weather plans await during this transitional month, hopefully warmth will be mixed in there somewhere. And, because most of us are ready to feel the sun on our skin, that will undoubtedly be a good thing!
Posted in Activities, Community Events on February 11th, 2014
Okay, art lovers, interested in a fantastic event featuring a Worcester-raised, renowned artist? If so, then February is the month. In Retrospect: Sid Solomon – The First 80 Years will be featured from 1 P.M. to 4 P.M. on Saturdays and Sundays at The Sprinkler Factory, 38 Harlow Street, Worcester (second floor). An impressive assortment of the artist’s stirring collection will undoubtedly enchant the senses. The creatively brilliant works include oil paintings, prints, pottery, pastels, light boxes, watercolors, and sculptures.
Let’s look a little closer at Mr. Solomon’s remarkable background.
- He was born in Springfield, Massachusetts.
- His post-secondary art studies began in 1951 at the School of the Worcester Art Museum.
- In addition to the art certificate he earned at WAM, he also achieved a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Arts at Clark University.
- Following graduation from both institutions, he spent three years in the army.
- He painted portraits in South Florida.
- He studied with the prominent teacher and painter, Edmund Archer, at Corcoran Art School in Washington D.C.
- He taught at Corcoran Art School and copied masters in the National Gallery (like Rembrandt!).
- He painted government and military leaders (e.g., generals, politicians), as well as members of their families.
- He earned a Masters Degree in Education at Worcester State College.
- He traveled throughout the East and South polishing his craft. His notable experiences afforded him the position Director of the Army Arts and Crafts Program for the Department of Defense.
- He worked for the 7th Army Training Command in Germany and traveled to foremost art venues in Europe.
- While in Germany, he earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Art Theory and Criticism at University of Georgia.
- He has maintained an art studio in Worcester for over 30 years.
- He coordinates the Worcester Life Drawing Group at Worcester State University.
- Farm on a Hill, Purgatory Chasm, Little Girl, Lady with a Teacup, Elisabeth’s Garden, and Stone Church in Winter are a few of Mr. Solomon’s many incredible works.
Gosh, Worcester has talent! For additional information concerning this fascinating exhibit, go to http://www.sprinklerfactory.com or call 508-852-8860.
Posted in Health & Wellness, Safety Tips on January 20th, 2014
Falls have the ability to encourage an unwelcome cycle of incapacitation. And, the older we become, the more debilitating the consequences can be. Sometimes the reason for the tumble is apparent (e.g., something was in the way, another person bumped in to us), but there are times unobvious circumstances precipitate a fall.
Because falls usually occur when we least expect them, here are some factors to think about.
- Medications. Medication is prescribed to help make us feel better, and many times it accomplishes its mission. Nonetheless, certain drugs can unfavorably affect our bodies and/or make us feel woozy or tired. If you think your medication is affecting your stability, be sure to discuss this concern with your doctor.
- Eye problems. When we cannot see as clearly as we should, our chance of visually identifying a hazardous situation tends to lessen. For example, we may miss a step or bump against a jutting object. Since good vision is pivotal to negating falls, make an appointment with your optometrist or ophthalmologist if you believe your eyesight is not as crisp as it should be.
- Shoes. Shoes that are too tight, too high, too slippery, too loose, too wide, etc., can throw off balance, encourage unsteadiness, and increase the risk of accidents. Because of this, it is important to have your feet measured to be sure you are wearing the right-size shoe, and regularly choose comfortable footwear with nonskid soles.
- Inflexibility. Did you know that exercise helps to optimize balance, augment coordination, and increase strength? Naturally, this all leads to improved footing and stability. Inactivity, on the other hand, compromises steadiness. So, as long as you have the approval of your doctor, be sure to engage in regular workout sessions. If you are unsure which exercises are best for you, ask your physician or physical therapist for some ideas.
- Inadequate lighting. Lights that are too intense can produce an unwanted glare that ultimately affects a person’s ability to see. At the same time, lights that are overly dull can make it difficult to discern common items in the way. Well-it lighting devoid of glare is easier on the eyes and better for seeing surrounding objects. (P.S. Don’t forget to keep a flashlight nearby at all times in the event a power outage occurs!).
Posted in Activities, Health & Wellness, New Year's Resolutions, New Years on January 6th, 2014
Two thousand fourteen has arrived, and with it comes an assortment of hopes, expectations, and dreams we mentally construct. So, in honor of the New Year, here are fourteen thoughts to consider.
- Exercise patience whenever possible, we never fully know the burdens other people carry.
- Let go of bitterness. As recently deceased Nelson Mandela once said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
- Be happy for small pleasures. In retrospection, they could hold greater value than large ones.
- Try something new. Should you do the enterprise well, great! If you don’t, feel good about your attempts (and do it anyway if you enjoy it).
- If it doesn’t hurt anyone, brings you happiness, and puts an added spring in your step, go for it. We should reward ourselves every now and then.
- Enjoy the moment, whether it’s a baby’s smile, loved one’s accomplishment, or animated interaction with a neighbor. After all, these are the things memories are made of.
- Be kind. Few people get intrinsic pleasure from being harsh, but many feel uplifted when they are considerate of others.
- Remember that actions teach more effectively than words. Thus, live the example you wish to impart.
- Remain dignified. Mimicking negative behavior will neither even the score nor make you feel better.
- Go the extra mile. Even if others fail to recognize your efforts, you will know.
- Give back. In the short term, it might seem taxing. In the long-term, the rewards are immeasurable.
- Cry if you feel the need. Sometimes we just need to get it out and then everything seems fresh again.
- Forgive yourself. Everyone makes mistakes: we can’t assume it will not happen to us.
- Pray, meditate, or set periods aside for calm: it nourishes the psyche.
Every person enters the New Year with imperfections. Nonetheless, growth is possible no matter what our age. Therefore, make 2014 a very good year, and remember we are the ones who fashion our own happiness.
Posted in Activities, New Years on December 18th, 2013
Worcester First Night, the second oldest event of its kind in the nation (Boston is the first), will be exploding with talent and entertainment to ring in the New Year. The cultural nonprofit has been in need of financial support due to declining donations, but fortunately for everyone contributions have been coming in and the show will go on. First Night buttons can be had for $10 until December 25, $12 from December 26 to December 30, and $15 at the door on New Year’s Eve. Children 7 and under get in for free. Worcester City Hall, AAA, and The DCU Center Box Office are some of the multiple locations selling buttons.
So, what’s lined up in addition to face painting, pony rides, and a fantastic ice exhibition?
Here are some additional activities on hand.
- 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. Visits to EcoTarium, Worcester Historical Museum, and Salisbury Mansion are free to everyone with First Night Buttons. Therefore, pack up the car and celebrate the coming New Year with the entire family.
- 3 P.M. to 5 P.M. Worcester Oval Common is offering free ice-skating from three to five to First Night button-holders. Hmm, if gliding freely on a most-impressive arena puts a smile on your face, then don’t forget your skates!
- 4 P.M. to 11 P.M.–(WAM). Industrial Sonic Echo will feature a creative presentation on the entry steps of Worcester Art Museum from 5 P.M. to 6:45 P.M. Worcester Bravehearts Baseball Team will be on hand for pictures from 5 P.M. to 7 P.M. And, Polar Beverages will be handing out free samples at their table from four to eleven.
- 7 P.M. and 11 P.M. Polar Beverages is sponsoring two fireworks displays. Revelers can meet at WAM (Lancaster Street entrance) at seven o’clock for a procession through the city to the corner of Grove and Highland Streets, where the first fireworks extravaganza will then begin. A second fireworks presentation will commence around eleven.
The above is merely a sampling of the numerous activities scheduled for December 31. Impressively, about fifty performances at various locations will be available to please. In fact, singer-songwriter Ayla Brown, comedian Eric Dittelman, Alexander King Of Jesters, acoustic duo Neptune’s Car, guitar-driven Raging Grace, jazz combo Blue Champagne, comedy show Auto Body, and Greater Worcester Opera are some of the many talented artists scheduled to perform. For specifics regarding performance times and locations, go to http://www.firstnightworcester.org/
Worcester First Night? Don’t miss the fun (and have a blessed and Happy New Year!).
Posted in Activities, Holidays on December 4th, 2013
Music is a delightful instrument to revel in the holiday season. It enchants the senses, warms the soul, and presents an uplifting outlook. While radio and stereo tunes tend to sufficiently satisfy even discriminating tastes, few things can compare to the splendor of live music.
So, what’s going on in Worcester?
Here are a few of the many happenings taking place at Mechanics Hall.
- Saturday, December 7. Worcester Chorus performs Handel’s Messiah at 8 P.M. This long-standing favorite, presently under the artistic direction of Christopher Shepard, is a darling. The cost? Reserved seating is $40, college students pay $15, and children 18 and under get in for $5.
- Tuesday, December 10. WXLO presents Acoustic Christmas featuring multitalented Daughtry: four coveted Music Awards and four Number One hits are among this artist’s impressive achievements. Delta Rae, lauded for their extraordinary performances, Erika Van Pelt, an American Idol favorite, and My Silent Bravery, an engaging performer, will also be on hand to please.
- Saturday, December 14. The Massachusetts Symphony Orchestra presents a Holiday Pops concert. This beloved treat will highlight traditional selections, classics, and even some Broadway tunes. Table seating is $45, and balcony seating is $37. For additional information, call 508-754-1234.
- Sunday, December 15. Dance Prism will perform The Nutcracker. Through the years, this darling ballet has mesmerized individuals of all ages. In fact, Tchaikovsky’s score is undoubtedly a musical masterpiece. Ticket costs are $24 for adults and $18 for seniors and children. For detailed information regarding the above shows or other Mechanics Hall programming, go to http://www.mechanicshall.org/
Additional pleasant-sounding thoughts?
A Holiday Festival Choir Christmas Concert will be held at First Unitarian Church located at 90 Main Street on Sunday, December 15, at 4 P.M., and A Christmas Celtic Sojourn with Brian O’Donovan will take place at Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts located at 2 Southbridge Street on Tuesday, December 17, at 7:30 P.M. Indisputably, these musical events, and the many other talent-filled Worcester wonders, are certain to propel peoples’ hearts in to a most cheerful spirit.
Holiday music? Um, let it ring!
Posted in Health & Wellness on November 19th, 2013
November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. As many of us know, this condition is characterized by declining cognitive functioning. It is not the only form of dementia, but it is highly recognized, and some researchers fear it is on the rise.
Regrettably, experts cannot assert with certainty that Alzheimer’s disease is preventable, but many health practitioners agree there are steps we can take to perhaps minimize the risks. Let’s look at some of the possibilities.
- Limit sugars. Many physicians agree that diets high in refined sugars are not beneficial for a number of reasons, and Alzheimer’s disease is suspected to be among them. But you like sweets? Then consider raw or less refined, organic sugar (in small measures). Still, if you are insulin resistant, always follow your doctor’s orders regarding sugar intake.
- Exercise. Exercise seems to surface as a superstar in multiple health arenas. Actually, we now know that regular workouts are positive for not only the body but also the mind. So, as long as your physician gives his or her approval, be sure to exercise. In fact, researchers from The University of Maryland School of Public Health found exercise can improve cognitive functioning for individuals at risk of Alzheimer’s disease. For addition information regarding this study, go to http://www.umdrightnow.umd.edu/news/exercise-may-be-best-medicine-alzheimers
- Mind workouts. Exercising the body is important to the brain, but so is exercising the mind. Puzzles, board games, computer challenges, brainteasers, memory tests, crossword puzzles, college courses, etc., can sharpen the brain and perhaps delay (or reduce) dementia symptoms. Therefore, be sure to engage in mentally challenging activities on a regular basis.
- Proper diet. The right food choices qualify as another all-around health benefit. Lean meats, fresh vegetables (particularly the leafy variety), and fresh fruits (like wild blueberries) are great dietary selections. Still, did you know that healthy fats, in moderation, like omega 3 fatty acids, extra-virgin olive oil, avocados, pecan nuts, and organic coconut oil, are also great options? Some nutritionists profess they are!
- Quit smoking. Smoking has failed to show a beneficial effect on the body, but it has been linked to damaging conditions, including an increased risk of dementia. Subsequently, if you smoke, try your best to stop. As you undertake this challenge, it is helpful to implement stress-relieving measures like massage, meditation, prayer, and music therapy. Stress can lead to inflammation, and inflammation is never a good thing.
The data is still uncertain as to whether or not Alzheimer’s disease can be prevented. However, research seems to suggest that certain practices may reduce the threat.
For additional information concerning this topic, go to http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dementia/DS01131/DSECTION=prevention
Posted in Community, Community Events on November 4th, 2013
Arms and armor enthusiasts will almost certainly agree that Higgins Armory Museum is one of the most impressive metal craft collections in the United States. Unless you reside in Europe, this museum is the go-to place for medieval knightly grandeur. It’s extensive, it’s extraordinary, and it’s in Worcester!
Let’s explore some fascinating facts about this captivating place.
- John Woodsman Higgins opened the museum in 1931. Higgins, a well-known Worcester industrialist and armor aficionado, devoted much time in amassing his remarkable collection.
- The five-floor, architecturally grand, all steel and glass curtain-wall museum is located at 100 Barber Avenue in Worcester.
- Arms and armor collections from Europe, Japan, the Middle East, Africa, India, and Ancient Greece grace this high-ceiling wonderland.
- Approximately 3,000 assorted pieces spanning 4,000 years are on display.
- The museum draws visitors from all parts of the world. In point of fact, roughly 58,000 people walk though the museum’s doors each year.
- The American Association of Museums accredits Higgins Armory Museum.
- Both permanent and visiting exhibitions are featured.
- Normal hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday hours are noon to 4 p.m. The price of admission is $12 for adults 17 and over, $10 for seniors, $8 for children 4 to 16, and little ones under 3 get in free.
- Special Senior Discounts (60+) are available on Tuesdays. The admission cost is $9, and museum store purchases are discounted by 10% (clearance items do not apply).
As charming as Higgins Armory Museum is to museum fans, regrettably it is closing. Operating expenses have made it difficult to maintain the vast, art-deco structure.
Even so, you can fully enjoy the museum through December 31, 2013. An exciting events calendar remains in place, and a special tribute, A Knight to Remember, will be held on November 16. This momentous celebration will commemorate 83 years of Higgins Armory Museum splendor. For pricing and additional information, go to http://www.higgins.org/knight-remember-0
Hence, will the presence of local arms and armor become a bygone era?
Fortunately, no. The Worcester Art Museum (WAM) will be taking in the Higgins Armory Collection and affording the pieces (swords, gauntlets, firearms, artwork, etc.) a neighborhood home. As it currently stands, Knights will open at WAM in the spring of 2014. In 2015, WAM library renovations should be complete, and this space will then become the collection’s permanent abode.
Alas, few things stay the same, so if you enjoy medieval splendor housed in an amazing, gothic-like building, get to Higgins Armory Museum before it closes.
Nevertheless, when one door shuts, another usually opens: such will be the case at WAM in the Spring.
Look at it this way, if tales of chivalry tend to rouse the romantic part of your senses, you’ll still be able to find a Knight in Shining Armor!
Posted in Activities, Financial Advice on October 23rd, 2013
Every age category has advantages associated with their subtype. For example, people under thirty seem to possess endless energy reserves, and senior citizens possess an impressive library of experience and knowledge.
Still, seniors have many other positive aspects associated with their demographic, and some they may not even know about. Let’s look at a few.
- Free Tuition. People 60 and over in Massachusetts are eligible for tuition waivers at public colleges. In order to meet the criteria, individuals must be a MA resident for at least one year, present evidence of age, fill out a Waiver Form, and be a U.S. citizen (or qualifying non-citizen). Some institutions even offer additional benefits to seniors, like Fee Waivers, so be sure to check. Nevertheless, it is important to mention that waivers sometimes apply only when space is available in the classroom. Therefore, individuals with waivers may need to wait until a week prior to the beginning of class before they can register for a particular course.
- Business Discounts. Assorted businesses offer discounted rates to seniors. Hairdressing salons, eateries, retail stores (including online), hotels, museums, amusement parks, trains, grocery stores, travel agencies, etc., may perhaps have reduced rates for people over a certain age. At the same time, when you join organizations geared toward seniors/retired people (e.g., AARP), additional perks may be available. For discount opportunities in your area, be sure to check with your community senior center. And, when you patronize a said business, don’t forget to bring your ID so you can get the special price!
- Free Banking, 18-65 Accounts. State-chartered banks in Massachusetts offer free checking and savings accounts to people 65 and over. Because of this, seniors are not assessed a monthly cost, and basic-designed checks are free of charge. Moreover, bounced (returned) checks are issued a $5 fee instead of the customary $25. Nonetheless, there may be costs for other bank services, so be sure to inquire. The program is called 18-65 Accounts because a similar arrangement applies to individuals 18 and under.
- State and National Parks/Entry. Free MassParks Senior Citizen Passes are available to MA residents 62 and over. They do not expire and good for free parking at Massachusetts State Parks. To get a MassParks Pass, go to a fee-based state park and show an appropriate ID that includes your address and age. For additional info, go to http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/massparks/passes-and-fees/buy-parks-pass-dcr-generic.html Seniors 62 and over who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents are eligible for Federal Recreation Lands and National Parks Passes. There is a $10 cost, and the passes last a lifetime. For more details, go to http://store.usgs.gov/pass/senior.html
Senior discounts? Fortunately there are many!
Posted in Health & Wellness on October 8th, 2013
Stress sometimes accompanies declining mobility and wellness. And, when these types of changes occur, questions like, “Where can we turn?” and “Who will be there to help?” often cross seniors’ minds.
Fortunately, many senior agencies are there to assist with assorted elder matters. Let’s look at two great locations in Central Massachusetts.
- Central Massachusetts Agency on Aging. Central Massachusetts Agency on Aging is a private, non-profit agency under the Federal Older Americans Act, and its purpose is to help seniors live as independently as possible under the respective circumstances. How does the agency accomplish this objective? By evaluating and monitoring an individual’s situation, providing vital information, and assisting with planning and advocacy. Naturally, during the assessment process, relevant questions will be asked to better discern a senior’s needs. Afterwards, the agency recommends the best resources for the situation. Still, help does not stop there. Why? As time passes, needs might change (so recommendations could change, as well). The Central Massachusetts Agency on Aging accommodates Worcester and surrounding areas and is located at 360 West Boylston Street in West Boylston. You can learn more about this beneficial organization by going to www.seniorconnection.org or calling 800-244-3032. In addition to the plethora of free information available on the site, the agency also publishes an informative newsletter.
- Elder Services of Worcester Area, Inc. Elder Services of Worcester Area, Inc., provides a vast array of information/services to seniors. They are considered an Aging Services Access Point (ASAP) and are regulated and funded through the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs. The coordinated services are offered through formal contracts between provider agencies and Elder Services of Worcester. Some of the multiple possibilities include home and personal care, delivered meals, respite, supportive home care, adaptive housing, transportation, adult day care, senior companions, and nursing home assessment/placement. Payment for the service is based on income level. For example, a number of seniors pay a small monthly fee, and Medicaid clients are not charged a fee. Elder Services of Worcester’s main office can be found at 411 Chandler Street in Worcester. For additional information, go to www.eswa.org or call 800-243-5111.
As some people become more mature, they occasionally feel as if they have little choice but to forfeit a portion of their self-sufficiency. Fortunately, agencies like the aforementioned can help get a measure of that independence back.
So, if you or someone you care about is in need, check out the above. Who knows, help may be closer than you know!