Saturday, 11 March 2017

In me red 'at (and 100 good people)

In me red 'at


(Formerly called "Stop Hunger Now"0


The 100 good people were members and friends of St. Boniface Church on Siesta Key, Sarasota FL. (including two holiday makers from Barbados).

The task was to create 15,000 meal packs, each containing vitamin and mineral supplements, soy, dehydrated veggies, and rice -  to be sent to places where hunger is a daily reality.  (Ours were most likely to be sent to Haiti).  Each meal pack contains enough (hardly exotic) ingredients to create six meals.

And we did it!  Excluding set up and break downtime we created 15,000 + packs in under two hours.

The "secret" was (a) goodwill and bonhomie,   (b) seriousness of purpose,  (c) excellent on the job training by JASON, our "Rise Against Hunger"  Supervisor, and (d) a dedication to team work in small teams  (no place for lone rangers).

One team filled the bags using huge funnels and appropriately sized scoops.

Another team weighed the bags, making sure that each one was at or near 385 grams.

Another team (the one I joined) sealed the bags,  using electric sealing machines.

A fourth team packed the bags in cardboard boxes.

Then there was a team of runners who moved the packs to the teams, and a team of sustainers who replenished supplies as and when they were needed. 

What a super morning.  I daresay we had more fellowship today than at many a Church Service.

Weighers opposite me

Completed packs

In addition  we had an offering and  raised more than $4,500 to help sustain "Rise Against Hunger" in  its mission.


Here is a blurb from "Rise Against Hunger"   and a link to their website.

Rise Against Hunger’s meal packaging program is a volunteer-based initiative that coordinates the assembly-line packaging of highly nutritious dehydrated meals comprised of rice, soy, vegetables, and 23 essential vitamins and minerals. The program was created to give dedicated individuals and organizations — from businesses to civic clubs — the opportunity to participate in a hands-on international hunger relief program and to become educated, engaged advocates for the world’s hungry. The events also give volunteers hands-on experience in leadership development, team-building, relationship-building, creative problem-solving, and goal-setting and achievement.
Since the inception of the meal packaging program in December 2005, these packaged meals have been used primarily to support school feeding programs in developing countries. Hunger is the common thread among the world’s most challenging issues. Targeting hunger — specifically by supporting school feeding programs — leverages support to other causes including poverty, disease, education, and the welfare of women and children.
To get started in organizing a meal packaging event, set a goal for the number of meals you will package, and contact your local Rise Against Hunger program coordinator. Recruit volunteers based on your goal. Then raise money for your event — only $0.29 cents for each meal you package. Ask your program coordinator for fundraising ideas that work and are fun. A group of 40 to 50 volunteers can package 10,152 meals in about two hours. While the minimum is 10,152 meals, meal packaging events are easily scalable and can package up to one million meals.

Rise Against Hunger meal packaging events now can be held anywhere in the world as long as the host organization has enough funding, volunteers, and locally-sourced ingredients to package at least 10,152 meals. Meal minimum may change depending on the distance from a warehouse and other fees and site requirements may apply to events beyond 100 miles away from a warehouse.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

My new friend Frankie Presto

I met Frankie Presto about eight days ago.   I got to know him well.  I hope that you will meet him.

He is the central character in the book "the magic strings of Frankie Presto", and the ,love of his life Aurora..

This wondrous tale was written by Mitch Albom (author of "Tuesdays with Morrie") and published in 2015 by Harper Collins.

Frankie Presto was orphaned at birth during the Spanish Civil War., and then abandoned by the Nun who had rescued him from a burning Church in the town of Villareal.

He is taught to play guitar by a stern task master El Maestro.  Presto becomes the greatest guitar player in the world. At aged nine he is sent to America with his only possession -  a guitar with its six magic strings.

Along the way he meets (amongst many others) Little Richard, Duke Ellington, Lyle Lovett, John Lennon, Darlene Love, Paul Stanley (KISS)  he eschews the  great fame which comes his way, and falls from the public gaze and into drug addiction. He loves, loses, and loves again the tough and determined Aurora.

His journey takes him from Spain to the U.K., the U.S.A., Viet-nam, New Zealand, the Philippines, and back to his birth town of Villarreal where he dies at aged 74.

The story of his birth, life and death is narrated by Music.  Presto reached out and seized Music (or perhaps it was Music who seized Presto) when as a boy he hears the tune "Lagrima"  which his mother had sung at his birth.

Them's the bare bones, hardly enough to make you run out and buy the book.  But I hope you will.  Mitch Albom has created a fabulous book, So much so that I could almost believe that Presto was a historical person.    He was not historical, but by the skill of Albom Frankie Presto is real.

I got to know him so well that I delayed reading the last chapter for two days,  knowing it would relate the circumstances of Frankie Presto's death.

In the following videos you can hear Mr. Albom as he talks about his book, and you can listed to the haunting tomes of "Lagrima"


Mitch Albom talks about the book


Tuesday, 7 March 2017

To annoy my American friends

I gathered together all my 2016 tax information just over  three weeks ago, and sent it to my tax accountant in Peabody, MA.

She prepared my tax return which I signed  in late February and which she immediately  filed, (electronically)  

My check/cheque for her fee was "cashed" on March 1st.

My tax refund arrived in my checking/current account today, March 7th.

Whoop-de-doo for Sabelli and Co in Peabody, MA, and thank you to my colleague and one time curate Manny Faria for hooking me up with Sabelli back in 2001.

And a gentle and slightly smug "raspberry"  to those who put off filing their tax returns until the last minute,

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Adapting a recipe from a Trader Joe's Product. YUM

My family, friends  (and some enemies!) know that I am a fan of Trader Joe's.  In fact I have come to believe that T'J's is more or less a comestible cult. The store evokes deep devotion.

Their grain medley  (above)  is great as a side or a main dish.

Maybe it's a wee bit pricey at $3.49 for eight ounces.

I decided to make by own version -  and you can do it too.

I cooked equal amounts of wild rice, barley, and quiona.  I omitted the wheat-berries 'cause  I did not have any in my pantry.

('Tis a bit time consuming since the rice, barley and quiona have different cooking times, so  they cannot be merged before cooking),

Once I had cooked the grains I mixed them in a big bowl, cooled them in the fridge, and then added dried cranberries, slivered almonds, and the juice of two lemons.

Oh so good!  Nearly as good as the T.J's original  -  and less expensive.

I ate some for dinner tonight with (waste not, want not) some excellent stir fried vegetables and tofu which I brought home in a "doggy bag"  from P.F. Chang/'s on Friday night.

Great for a cold evening meal on a warm day.

You can do it too!