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Fresh coverings of snow

"The fields, the lawns, the meadows,
The hedge and fencetops, too,
Were all a frozen picture-
Of what God's hands could do."
"Crystal Beauty"

By Gertrude Rudberg

Our yard looks beautiful with a fresh covering of snow every few days. The only things that mar the surface of the snow are the footprints of the neighborhood cats as they cut across our yard to their homes. Inside our home, our three poinsettias have all died. Years ago, I was able to keep them alive and healthy through the year. I don't know what I am doing wrong. The two amaryllis bulbs that I planted several weeks ago are now showing flower buds. We hope to have the flowers open about the end of February.

Hubby and I had a wonderful time at the annual Dorchester Board of Trade's Christmas Party, which was held, this year, at Florian Lounge at Florian Hall. We sat with a terrific group of people. Pat and Marty Foley were sitting on one side of me, along with daughter Vicki. (Their son Tim was at the next table.) Pals Loretta Philbrick and Mary Shea were also at our table, along with Mary Salas from the Hair Image Beauty Salon in Adams Corner. Board of Trade President Mary Truong came over to greet us. So did Past President Donna Finnegan, who was joined by her husband Tommy.

During the evening, Barry Mullen came to every table and gave each guest a Board of Trade Pocket Calendar. Charlie Tevnan also joined us for the evening. George Gilpin, from EasCare Ambulance Service, brought some folks from his company. Council President Maureen Feeney sat with us for a while. Her aide, Connie Sullivan, was also at the party. I always love chatting with Jody (Doherty) Bulman from College Hype. I wished her a happy anniversary on New Year's Eve. (Her wedding was one of the most beautiful ones I have ever attended.)

Board of Trade President Mary Truong said a few words of welcome. (She looked very festive in her pretty red suit.) Mary then turned the microphone over to Donna Finnegan, who chaired the Christmas Party. Donna invited both Hubby and me to the microphone and presented us with a gift certificate to the Florian Lounge. We will be happy to use the gift certificate if the tasty food that we ate at the party is any indication of the food they serve in the lounge. Hubby took some great photos at the party. One photo of Police Officer Dennis Rorie and me and one of Kevin Barry with me came out terrific. (They made me look good.) The evening was a very pleasant one and, in addition, the Board of Trade collected quite a few toys for needy children in the Dorchester area.

On the Sunday after the New Year's Day, Hubby, Daughter Sue, and I drove to Jamaica Plain so that we could have dinner at Doyle's, one of our favorite places to eat. When we entered the building, we spotted Doyle's famous calendars in a box. The calendar is wonderful in that it gives what happened on a certain day five years ago, 10 years, 15 years, and so on. It has different information in it, which I use in the birthday column in this newspaper.

As we looked at the menu, we each chose something good to eat immediately. Hubby ordered steak tips; Sue, fish and chips; and I, the turkey dinner. We were amazed at how much food we were given. We have learned, over the years, that it is much better to take half the food home for the next day rather than to overindulge and feel bloated afterwards. After we had eaten, we each took a calendar as we were leaving the restaurant. Hubby tries to send a calendar to his brother John in Virginia each year because they, as kids, grew up around the corner from Doyle's. (My home for the first 10 years of my life was not that far away, off Washington St., nearer to Egleston Square.) We all have fond memories of Jamaica Plain.

On Jan. 18, Hubby and I were invited to attend the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration at the Wang Center. We drove to Keystone where we were to board a bus to be taken in town. Pal Eileen Collins greeted us. Our friends Ken and Mary Bruynell were going to the celebration also. Ken told me that the few warm days were enough to bring out a few tiny buds on his trees and roses. I mentioned that we had been trying to see a leaf from the many bulbs planted close to our home's foundation but we haven't seen any as yet. Ken was going to check his forsythia bushes too. Jennie Fiore, Mary Coombs, Gwen Adams. Bertha Haug, and Chris Richards were also waiting. Our former traveling companions Evie Dunne, Angie Tesauro, and Rosalie Masciolo were also waiting. More of our friends were waiting also: Della Melchionda, Norma Conley, Betty Cook, Jackie Henderson, Caroline Innello, and Marie McDonough. Pat McKeon, Irma Wood, "Cal" Connors, Carol Murphy, Priscilla Green, and Claire Smith also joined us for the celebration.

When we arrived at the Wang Theatre, our friend Jane Boyer, from the City of Boston's Elderly Commission, entered the bus and said that she would be our guide for the evening. We stood waiting to get into the theater on that cold evening. Many more buses came along, dropping off hundreds more people. We were finally allowed inside the theater and sat as a group.

Karen Holmes Ward, from WCVB TV 5, was the Mistress of Ceremony for the evening. Rev. Dr. Gregory G. Groover, pastor of the Charles Street A.M.E. Church came out to thunderous applause and gave the Invocation. He was followed by Mayor Tom Menino, who welcomed the large crowd to the celebration. Jim Hogan, Group Vice President from the Target Stores, also spoke since it was his company that contributed funds to put on the celebration.

Then it was time for music. Dre Robinson, a hip-hop recording artist, was the first to perform. He was followed by Andre Ward, a jazz-recording artist, who played several songs. Following an intermission, Patti LaBelle, a Grammy Award Winner, came on stage, much to the delight of the audience. Throughout her performance, she gave us many "asides" about her personal life, mostly in fun. She brought a few men from the audience up to the stage and had a great deal of fun speaking with each one. Pattie sang for quite a long time and delighted the audience. On the way out, we thanked Jane Boyer for taking such good care of us that evening.

If you are fortunate enough to receive roses for Valentine's Day, here is the info from an article that tells how to make these gorgeous flowers last longer. Fill your sink half way with warm water. Place the stems in the water. Then use scissors to trim about an inch from the stems while they are under water. This prevents air bubbles from forming in the stems, which would block the flow of water to the flowers. To clean and feed them, throw a capful of bleach into the vase water to prevent bacteria from clogging the stems. To feed the roses, stir in a half a cup of 7Up soda. (Don't use a colored soda, which might discolor the flowers.) The sugar in the soda feeds fresh bloom, making them last longer. Cut one-half inch from the stems every few days. When you first put the roses in a vase, make sure that there are no leaves below the water line. Last Valentine's Day, more than 156 million roses were sold.

If you are a "Jeopardy" fan, you probably would like to know that Ken Jennings, who won 74 games on the "Jeopardy" program, is going to appear at the Borders Store in Braintree, in the same plaza as K Mart, just off the Expressway, on Thursday, Feb. 7, at 7 p.m. Ken will sign copies of his new book, 888 Questions in 365 Days. (It is the largest book of trivia questions ever produced in America in any form.) He will also play a game of trivia with contestants chosen from the audience. I bet that Hubby will be there because he is such a big "Jeopardy" fan.

I am sure that I express the feelings of Dr. Mark Ostrem's patients in sending their sympathy to him on the death of his father, Oscar, on Dec. 19, at age 93. (Hubby is one of Dr. Ostrem's patients at Caritas Carney Hospital.) I was also sorry to read of the death of Herbert Miller on Jan. 19. Herbert was the father of Eileen O'Driscoll and my friend, Jan Wallace. He was also the father of the late Herbert Miller.

On Feb. 1, 1709, Alexander Selkirk, a Scottish sailor, was found on an island where he had been stranded for more than four years. His experience was the basis for Daniel DeFoe's novel, Robinson Crusoe.

The sun usually shines on Feb.2, Candlemas Day, indicating winter's return. In Germany, the news was brought by a badger. When the Germans immigrated to Pennsylvania in the 1800s, there were no badgers. Groundhogs were plentiful so the settlers adopted the groundhog to fit the lore. This was the beginning of Groundhog Day.

Mardi Gras celebration is early this year. The parade will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 5, which is Shrove Tuesday. I received beads from my friend JoAnn from New Orleans when she was there at Mardi Gras time. I always wondered why the beads were purple, green, and gold. The purple stands for justice, the green for faith, and the gold for power.

As we were leaving the Wang Theatre after the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, each of us received a scroll that contained these excellent words by MLK himself: "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?'."