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The bulbs come up

"I dreamed that, as I wandered by the way,
Bare winter was changed to spring,
And gently odours led my steps astray,
Mixed with a sound of waters murmuring."

By Percy Bysshe Shelley

I thought that winter was leaving as I looked at all the bulbs emerging in the patch of ground alongside our home. Several of the spouts are at least three inches tall. They are now, however, covered by this week's snowstorms. I do miss the New England Flower Show. I understand that the Mass. Horticultural Society did not have the funds to put on the show this year, especially because of the poor economy. My friend from church, Joan Hill, went all the way to Providence to that city's Flower Show. Daughter Sue and I were so pleased when she gave each of us a small, white African Violet plant that she had purchased at the show. Joan said that the Flower Show was nice but it was much smaller than Boston's. My little African Violet is sitting on my kitchen windowsill, which gets late afternoon sun.

Last week I mentioned how delighted Hubby and I were to be invited, by our friend Loretta, to the annual $10,000 Dinner and Drawing to benefit St. Brendan's School. Fr. John McCarthy, who ministers to the Irish and Irish-American people through the Irish Pastoral Centre and Irish Cultural Centre, was asked to come to the microphone to lead us in saying "Grace." He asked that we remember St. Brendan's pastor, Fr. James Fratus, who was unable to attend the dinner. We sat with a great group of folks. I also had a chance to see many of our friends at the dinner. Sarah Ashe came over to speak with me. Her daughter Karen Doherty was among the crowd. Sarah told me that her grandson Kevin Doherty, who plays the fiddler beautifully, will be playing often at Gerard's Restaurant on St. Patrick's Day. Dan Burke also spoke with everyone at our table. City Councillor Maureen Feeney and her husband Larry were chatting with many of the guests. So was our friend Justin Holmes. St. Brendan's secretary Nancy Leoncini gave me a big hug. I had a chance to chat with Ann Esterhill, who was hobbling around on crutches. Ann had slipped on ice and had broken her ankle. I also saw Margaret Lydon from Gerard's Store at a distance. I didn't get a chance to chat with her at the dinner but a few days later, she called my office and I had a chance to tell her how nice she looked at the dinner. My friend Bridie Kelly was fortunate to be one of the last contestants standing in the raffle. (How exciting for her to get that close to the end!) The last five contestants agreed to split the $10,000 prize.

My friend Charlie Tevnan came over to chat. When he discovered that Hubby had gone home ill from the dinner, he offered to drive me home. He had come to the dinner alone so he said he would enjoy the company. I thanked him profusely. Now Hubby wouldn't have to come out in the cold. Just before we left, I went over to see Fr. Rich Putnam, a Salesian, who assists at St. Brendan's on weekends. Hubby worked with Fr. Rich many years ago, both in Supreme Market in Fields Corner but also a few years later in the Boston Public Schools. When I was leaving, I had a chance to see my friend Hannah Logue, who had been sitting on the opposite side of the room. It is always such a pleasure to see her. As Charlie and I were coming down the stairs of the restaurant, we met Gerard Adomunes and his lovely wife Ruth. Ruth told me a little bit about the charitable fundraising that she is able to do with proceeds from her handmade jewelry. It was great to see her again.

As Charlie and I were driving out of the Pier Four parking area, he pointed out the new Institute of Contemporary Art building, that I had never seen before. It was impressive. I love the whole waterfront area and, in particular, the new Court House building, just down the street. I would spend all day in that building's cafeteria so I could watch the boats going in and out of the harbor. Charlie told me of a faster way of getting to Pier Four. We were back home in Dorchester in no time.

When George Gilpin from EasCare Ambulance came into the February Board of Trade luncheon, I know that something nice had happened to him because he had a big smile on his face. He then opened his cell phone and showed me a picture of the cutest two-day-old baby I have seen in a long time. He proudly told me that Emma Grace Gilpin arrived safely on Feb. 22, at the Salem Hospital. Emma, the daughter of George and Michelle Gilpin, weighed in at seven pounds, two ounces, and was 17 and inches long. This is the first grandchild for George and his wife Mary of Dorchester. The other proud grandparents are Joe and Debbie Gavegnano of Salem. The delighted great grandmother, Mary E. Mulvey, lives here in Dorchester, also.

On Thurs., Feb. 17, daughter Sue and I picked our friend Eileen Burke and drove to the Irish Cultural Centre in Canton. It was the day for the monthly Irish Pastoral Centre's luncheon. We were early and found our usual table near the windows. Our friends from Quincy and Southie came in: Peg O'Connor, Ann Connolly, Ronnie Stanley, and Lucy Loud, plus their friends Kay O'Connor, Barbara Lynch, Abbie Sines, and Kathy O'Connor. It was a very full table. (Hubby was at home and not feeling well enough to attend. How he would have loved sitting with all these gals.) Our pal Cora Flood was at the front door of the building to greet us. Our friend from the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Jack Meehan, was sitting at the next table.

Fr. John McCarthy, the Irish Pastoral priest, was, once again, to celebrate Mass for us. He began Mass by mentioning that he had the wonderful opportunity to go to Lourdes last October. He mentioned that because it was almost the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes (Feb. 11). Her feast day is also the World Day of the Sick. (This year's was the 17th World Day of the Sick.) He spoke a little about the appearance of Our Lady to the young girl Bernadette Soubirous. He told us that Bernadette said, "I was the most ignorant. If someone had been more ignorant, Our Lady would have chosen that person." Because we were so close to the World Day of the Sick, Fr. John offered to anoint anyone who would like to be anointed with the Sacrament of the Healing to come to the front of the room. Almost everyone in the room took advantage of being anointed. By the way, just at the time of the Consecration, the sun broke through the clouds, filling our room with sunshine.

I had a chance to ask our friend Cora the name of the woman who sings throughout the Mass, as she accompanies herself on the guitar. The gal with the pretty voice is Maureen McNally. The musician who played after the luncheon were Ronnie Cote and Dave Healy. Cora also told us that Friday, May 8, is the date of the annual Banquet and Fundraiser for the Irish Pastoral Centre. She will give more info on this special fundraiser at next month's luncheon. Cora also announced that Mary McAleese, the president of Ireland, will be in Boston on Wed., May 27. Mrs. McAleese is the eighth president of Ireland and the first president to be from Northern Ireland. There will be more info on this at the next luncheon. All during the luncheon, Tom Clifford, from the TV program "Ireland on the Move," was videotaping the proceedings.

I mentioned that Hubby was not able to stay at St. Brendan's Fundraising Dinner. When I saw an article in the Quincy Ledger on the Norovirus, I am sure that the virus is what attacked his stomach. According to the article, the virus causes nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. One good thing: it does not last too long. Hubby was in bed Monday evening and all day Tuesday. He subsisted on two pieces of toast with jelly and golden ginger ale. He is slowly getting his appetite back but his stamina is less. He lost seven pounds during his ordeal. According to the article, the best way to avoid getting the virus is by continually washing your hands. It recommended that you wash clothing and bed clothing that might have been infected, with hot water and soap. I threw in a little bleach for good measure. Infected people should not prepare food while sick and for three additional days after they recover. I don't mean to be gross but everyone should know how to identify this virus and how to prevent it. This is a nasty, but, thankfully, short-lived virus.

I did not know until last weekend that Sullivan's at Castle Island had extended its half-price hot dogs for two additional days, until Tuesday of this week. Hubby saw the sign on Sully's doors when he went for a walk last Friday when the temperature reached 60 degrees. Even though it was 60, Hubby said his walk around the island was difficult because the wind was so strong. He cancelled part of his walk to the Sugar Bowl because of the wind.

Here is a lovely quote, "Today is a gift. That is why it is called the present."