THE SALLY CRAGIN TRI-TOWN REPORT : IS IT FEBRUARY ? IS IT MARCH ?

Is it February? Is it March? Or is it still January, the month with a heavy tread. My editor requested a blog post a while ago, and then it snowed, and the kids were home and then I had a bug and then it snowed… And on it goes. Living in the north central portion of the state is a very different proposition than living further east. If you look at Massachusetts as a miniature version of the map of the US, yes, we’re in the midwest where people are cranky, vs. Bostonian pissed-offedness. And geographically, we’d be somewhere around North Dakota, among the frozen chosen.

So January, February…it’s all a blur. There’s Groundhog Day which means we get an extra 60 days of winter, vs. 6 weeks; and then Valentine’s Day — which as I keep reminding single-gal friends is a HOLIDAY FOR CHILDREN, and really only meaningful on February 15, when the chocolates go on half-price, and then there’s my wedding anniversary to Chuck, somewhere around February twenty….first? No — it’s 26th. That’s when it was.

See? a blur….

So what do we do to survive this mentally? I cross-country ski at Saima Park. Here’s the thing — skis are generally cheap; it’s the bindings and boots that cost. I have the skates in the car, but haven’t gotten to our local rink, the Carmelita Landry. She was a national champion in outdoor speed skating! look it up!) http://fmcicesports.com/2012/01/04/whats-in-a-name-fitchburg/
X-c at Saima Park (saimapark.org) is free on Saturdays in February from 10 am to 3 pm. They open the clubhouse, and there are lots of friendly Finns there to advise, or to help you borrow (not rent — this is FREE) skis to set you up. Some years, the snow is terrible, but this was a great year, and I’ve been several times a week. Yes, it helps to drive the momavan which can fit skis and a lot of the clothes my children discard in the car because they’re “too hot.”

Indoor activities are what most people like. This year, I started a venue at Fitchburg Library, “Author’s Night.” We have published authors come and read from work and talk about writing and publishing. Dunkin Donuts supplies refreshments and it’s fun. If you’re a published author, email me at sallycragin@verizon.net. We’re also planning a May event that will focus on Fitchburg History, as the city is 250 years old this year.

And, I’m working on a few things politically — getting signatures for Senator Jen Flanagan, evaluating Democratic candidates for governor. We had our caucus last week and several people came out to speak, including Mary Ellen Grossman, Steve’s sister. She’s a dynamo and I’ve sent information to her to give to the Treasurer about the woefully skewed standards applied to urban districts like Fitchburg in terms of standardized test scores. We’ll never get ahead, because we have lower BEGINNING scores and higher poverty. We are expected to close wider gaps, which less-challenged districts (also less culturally diverse) aren’t expected to do. Senator Pat Jehlen of Somerville is working on this issue, and I and other members of our school committee will help. This is an issue that Mayor Lisa Wong, who helped start the Gateway Initiative to organize the leadership of urban Massachusetts is very concerned with.
So, I guess we are doing a lot, besides living whole days in a cloud-inflected color free twilight. We really notice that extra minute of daylight out here. For more, visit fitchburgfun.blogspot.com. And thanks to my editor for reminding me. You’ll have to keep doing that you know…

Sincerely,

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Sally Cragin
mother of two
Fitchburg School Committee vice-chair
Editor of Button, New England’s tiniest magazine of poetry, fiction and gracious living
astrology columnist for the Portland and Providence Phoenix
winter survivor

SALLY CRAGIN : FITCHBURG — THIS SEASON, IN TRI-TOWN

 

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We are now the envy of America — the trees are going pyrotechnical, and soon the leaf peepers
will be roaring up the shady lanes to admire the flaming trees. Meanwhile, we are looking at our
rakes and wondering, “what’s the point.” The acknowledged method for dealing with leaves, by the way,
is now just to run them over with a mower at the end of the season and let the compost break down
in the soil.

This season in Tri-town, there’s plenty of educational and musical offerings as well as the
annual Greek Festival. I was on “Barbara and You,” the local cable access show (the longest
running interview show in New England) and Barbara Foster was interviewing folks from the
Greek Church before I went on with my cat Wendle to talk about the Sept. 28 Rabies Clinic. They
were on first and they left — no joke — a table’s worth of Greek pastry real estate for the
crew. Homemade Greek pastries, baklava (paklava for those of us who are Armenian), kateouf (there
are many spellings for this; it’s the shredded birds’ nest pastry) and various honey cakes were
amazing. They’ll be making lots more for their festival this weekend.

The Free Rabies Clinic is open to anyone; you don’t have to live in Fitchburg. I’ll be there
with my friends from ACE Central MA (need a cat or dog? check us out…). And if you look at
fitchburgfun.blogspot.com, you’ll see a very, very, very special offer for those folks looking
to get a cat for a BARGAIN price.

See you under the leaves
Sallycragin@verizon.net

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 20

“A History of the Fitchburg Fire Department” by Phil Jordan, Official Fire Historian for the
FFDFriday Nights in Fitchburg History Club, 6 – 7:30 pm, McKay Campus, 67 Rindge Rd., in Bldg. C.
Phil is the author of “A History of the Fitchburg Fire Department” published in 2012. He
exhaustively planned, researched and prepared this “labor of love,” now sold out. The book
begins in 1674, when Fitchburg incorporated as a town and traces its fire history through the
years. This program will show many historic slides that relate to the stories of famous fires
as the history progresses to the present time.Jordan presents a fascinating look at the amazing
fires fought to save lives and property, with dedication and sacrifice, by our brave heroes –
Fitchburg Firefighters! FREE, refreshments. It is handicapped-accessible, with plenty of free
parking. Contact Dot Cassady at 781-245-1516 or lineardot@gmail.com for more information.

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 21

GREEK FEST 2013, 11 am – 10 pm Rain or Shine! Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 1319 Main
Street, Fitchburg, 978-342-1216. Enjoy All Your Homemade Greek Favorites: Souvlaki, Gyro,
Pastitsio, Mousaka, Spinach Pie, Baklava, Galaktombureko, Loukoumades, and Other Great
Desserts, Coffee, Beer & Wine and Much, Much More!! Music and Dancing, Music by DJ George
Regan. Performances by our own Floga Dance Groups at 2 pm and 7 pm. Children will enjoy the
activities of our expanded children’s booth! Shop for Unique Gifts at our Agora and Vendor Market.
Raffles, Chinese Auctions, Gift Baskets, TONS of fun prizes! Church tours at 1:00pm and 6:00pm
Enter our Grand Prize Raffle-You could win: Grand prize -$5,000; 1st Prize – $1,000; 2nd Prize –
$500; 3rd prize – an Apple iPad Tickets are $100 ea.- Only 250 tickets will be sold! To buy
tickets or for more information call the Church Office: 978-342-1216. Buy Yours Now Before We
Sell Out!

Drawbridge Puppet Theater”s  “Rapunzel” every weekend in September – as well as each Wednesday
of the month. This production, using marionettes, hand puppets and shadow puppets, is suitable for
children 4 years of age and older. Weekend shows will be Saturdays and Sundays at 10:00 AM & 12:00
PM. Storytelling with Lisa Thompson. This will take place on September 21st from 11:00 to 11:30,
and is free with your ticket to the puppet show that day.Ticket prices for these weekend public
shows are $6.00 per person. Please note: We can only accept payment by cash or check, though you
may pay online using PayPal if you wish. Drawbridge Puppet Theater, 1335 Massachusetts Ave
(Rt. 2A), Lunenburg, 978-582-1578

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 22

Historical Piano Concerts from The Frederick Collection of Grand Pianos at 4 pm at Ashburnham
Community Church, Ashburnham. 978/827-6232. piano.fred@juno.com. SHUNSKE SATO, violin
and SHUANN CHAI, piano by Joh. Nepomuk Tröndlin, Leipzig (ca. 1830) play Felix Mendelssohn Sonata in f for piano & violin, Op. 4 (1825); Franz Schubert Sonata in A for piano & violin, D.574 (1817) “Grand Duo”; Ludwig van Beethoven Sonata
in a for piano & violin, Op. 47 “Kreutzer”.

Drawbridge Puppet Theater”s  “Rapunzel” every weekend in September – as well as each Wednesday
of the month. This production, using marionettes, hand puppets and shadow puppets, is suitable for
children 4 years of age and older. Weekend shows will be Saturdays and Sundays at 10:00 AM & 12:00
PM. Ticket prices for these weekend public shows are $6.00 per person. Please note: We can only
accept payment by cash or check, though you may pay online using PayPal if you wish.
Drawbridge Puppet Theater, 1335 Massachusetts Ave (Rt. 2A), Lunenburg, 978-582-1578

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 24

BASIC RIGHTS In Special Education. A Workshop for Parents and Professionals Fitchburg Special
Education Department In Collaboration with the Federation with children with special needs. The
Basic Rights workshop provides families with an introduction to their rights and responsibilities
under: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Massachusetts Special Education
Law. This workshop is designed to help parents learn to be effective partners with their child’s
school to decide their child’s eligibility for special education, and to plan, make decisions
and monitor their child’s progress in school.at South Street School, 376 South Street,
Fitchburg, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM. Contact: sheela_vadrevu@yahoo.com for questions.
A presenter from the Federation for Children with Special Needs will conduct this workshop.
Federation workshops are free and open to the public.  You are welcome to attend any workshop
in or outside of your immediate community. Join us!

THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 26

LET’S PLAY! MOC Community Partnership for ChildrenParent/Child Play Group, Thursdays, 10:00-11:30AM,
Cleghorn Youth Center, 40 Fairmount St., Fitchburg, FREE. “Family and Friends”
theme.Always: easel paint, sand or water play, blocks and trucks, stories, play dough and
more!BI LINGUAL, NO RSVP NEEDED FOR MORE INFORMATION email llee@mocinc.org or dperez@mocinc.org
Or call 978-345-8549 x325 or x326A program of the Massachsuetts Dept. of Early Education and Care

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 28

FREE Rabies Clinic/$5 Distemper (covers a variety including parvo) clinic sponsored by Second
Chance, from a generous grant provided by the ASPCA, assisted by FAShelter and ACE Central MA
at Fitchburg Fire Station, 20 North St. Fitchburg. For more, visit ACE Central MA at ace4animals.org.

FINNISH BREAKFAST, 8:00-10:30  a.m.  Bacon, sausage, pannukakku (oven pancake), fruit, juice,
coffee/tea, Finnish coffee bread.  $6.00.  Saima Park, 61 Scott Rd., Fitchburg MA 01420.  978 582-7717

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 29

Historical Piano Concerts from The Frederick Collection of Grand Pianos at 4 pm at Ashburnham
Community Church, Ashburnham. 978/827-6232. piano.fred@juno.com. THOMAS PANDOLFI, Frederick
Collection premiere of a piano by Erard, Paris, 1928 plays “Gershwin & the French Muse.” George
Gershwin/transcr. Grace Castagnetta Concerto in F (1925); Three Preludes (1926); Rhapsody in Blue
(1924; solo version 1927); Claude Debussy from Suite Bergamasque (1890-1905) 3. Clair de Lune;
from Préludes, Bk. 1 (1910) 10. La cathédrale engloutie; Francis Poulenc Trois mouvements
perpetuels (1918); Marie-Joseph-Alexandre Déodat de Séverac Grande valse brillante in Eb, Op. 18
“Pippermint-Get” – ded. to distiller Auguste Get père; Maurice Ravel from Le tombeau de Couperin
(1914-17) 3. Forlane (Allegretto).

Drawbridge Puppet Theater”s  “Rapunzel” every weekend in September – as well as each Wednesday
of the month. This production, using marionettes, hand puppets and shadow puppets, is suitable for
children 4 years of age and older. Weekend shows will be Saturdays and Sundays at 10:00 AM & 12:00
PM. Ticket prices for these weekend public shows are $6.00 per person. Please note: We can only
accept payment by cash or check, though you may pay online using PayPal if you wish.
Drawbridge Puppet Theater, 1335 Massachusetts Ave (Rt. 2A), Lunenburg, 978-582-1578

—- Sally Cragin / Fitchburg

SALLY CRAGIN : LIFE IN TRI-TOWN

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Growing up in Lunenburg, MA, population around 5000 with no streetlights in my youth (now there are at least a half-dozen), I couldn’t wait to get to the big city. And when I got there I became a journalist, first a rock critic, than an arts reviewer. I’m writing about these experiences on the Phoenix alumni page on Facebook (email me at sallycragin@verizon.net) if you want the installments. It’s pretty funny — a coming of age story provisionally titled “Teenage Typesetter on the Night Shift.”

Of course now I’m a mom in a mini-van, making my living as Symboline Dai, STILL writing for the surviving Phoenixes (Portland, ME and Providence, RI). And I’m doing what I said I’d never do, which is living in my homeland.

My husband and I live in Fitchburg — yes, we’re a stop on the Commuter Rail. We have gorgeous Gilded Age housing stock for tiny, tiny sums (houses go from $40k to $200 and up), a great mayor, our friend Lisa Wong, and superb and constantly improving public schools. Recently, Fitchburg State College upgraded to a University, and I spend my Tuesdays overseeing Riverfront Children’s Theatre, which I co-founded with my mom. We have an 85 year old Community theatre, Stratton Players, tons of hiking trails, we’re 5 minutes from Mount Wachusett, you can finally get a decent cup of coffee, and I’m very active in ACE, a group I started. ACE Central MA is a volunteer group that assists the Shelter animals of north central Mass and presents school programs to ALL the kids in school (last year, more than 5000 kids heard our message). More at ace4animals.org.

So Here and Sphere’s editor asked for info on what’s going on here. Answer : Lots!
The Historical Piano Concerts up in Ashburnham is the big winner. They’ve been written up in the NYTimes, and years ago, when Patricia and Michael, the owners only had, say 30 historical pianos, I wrote a piece about them for the Globe. Their concert series is broadcast on public radio and takes place in an acoustically resonant Congregational Church in the center of Ashburnham. There’s more at fitchburgfun.blogspot.com, but here’s a sampling of what you’ll find this month….
Come visit!

Sally Cragin

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 7
FITCHBURG ART MUSEUM sponsors’ Nora Valdez’s public art celebration, 1 to 3 pm, Prichard and Main Street, Fitchburg, FREE. Public Art Installation, and discussion. Refreshments, dancing, fun, and food! FREE

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 8
Historical Piano Concerts from The Frederick Collection of Grand Pianos at 4 pm at Ashburnham Community Church, Ashburnham. 978/827-6232. piano.fred@juno.com. MIHAI TETEL, violoncello & IRA BRAUS, piano by Caspar Katholnig, Vienna, ca. 1805-1810 play Ludwig van Beethoven Twelve variations in G on See, the conqu’ring hero, WoO 45 (1796), from Handel’s Judas Maccabeus, HWV 63 (1746); Andante con variazioni in D for mandoline & harpsichord, WoO 44/2b (1796), arr. Steven Isserlis; Twelve variations in F, Op. 66, on Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen, and Seven variations in Eb, WoO 46 (1801), on Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen, both from Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, K.620 (1798); Franz Joseph Haydn Divertimento in D (misc. movements transcr. by Gregor Piatigorsky); Luigi Boccherini Sonata No. 4 in A for violoncello & Bc, G4 (ca.1770).

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 12
>^^< STORIES AND SHELTER CATS, Fitchburg Library 4:30 pm (immediately after LEGO club). MEET a shelter cat, HEAR a cat story, MAKE a cat-related craft. Sponsored by ACE and Fitchburg Friends of Felines.

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 15
Annual Tori/Finnish Marketplace, 10:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m. Finnish and Scandinavian wares and pastries, arts and crafts. Local vendors and folks from out of town. This is a great occasion to get holiday gifts, as well as unique crafts from overseas at really reasonable prices. The BEST bread in the world, “pulla” will be on sale. For those who grew up here, you may remember the Finnish Co-Op where the Post Office now is in downtown Fitchburg. That’s where I had pulla during my childhood and became Finnish-by-proxy. At the Tori, you’ll find beef stew, vegetable soup, hot dogs, coffee & Finnish coffee bread, Arctic sundaes. Finnish Center at Saima Park, 61 Scott Rd., Fitchburg, MA 01420. Call or email Maija at 978 582-7717 or mailis1@aol.com

—- Sally Cragin — Blog 810