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Jigs and reels

"There's no place quite like Ireland,
there's no place quite so green-
Where blue-green sea meets emerald hills,
To make a lovely scene.
Where shamrocks poke their sleepy heads
Through snow drops of morning dew;
And jade-green leaves dance happily
Against a sky of blue-
There's no place quite like Ireland,
There's no place quite so fair,
And many hearts, though far away,
Will always linger there."
Author unknown

Hubby and I spent last weekend listening to Irish music on Ch. 501 on our Comcast TV. The variety of music has been great. (How I love jigs and reels!) We haven't figured out yet how often the channel repeats the music. We put an eight-hour tape into the VCR just before we went to bed the other night and taped eight hours of the music. We still haven't had a chance to watch it. While the channel is playing the music, it gives info on Ireland or on the performer whose selection is currently playing. We heard several songs by Joe Derrane, who is an extraordinary accordionist. I heard the former TV host Mike Douglas sing an Irish tune. I also heard Daniel O'Donnell and Tony Kenny sing. We heard selections by Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers. Perhaps the Irish music will be on until the end of this week. Try Ch. 501 if you have Comcast. The channel is called "Seasonal Selections."

If you could see the patch of ground just past our front stairs, you would know it is spring. We have about eight yellow crocuses and about the same number of purple crocuses, looking positively beautiful against the ground. Our tulips are getting taller, maybe about five inches. We also have daffodils emerging. Across the front walk, we also have tulips and daffodils but they are not as high as the ones near the warm foundation of our home. Under one of our spreading yew bushes, Hubby spotted a snowflake, a pretty little white flower with thin green leaves. We had planted snowflake bulbs many years ago on the patch of ground near the front gate. They are probably the first bulbs to flower in the spring. This lonely snowflake was probably dug up by a cat using the space for a litter box and the bulb ended up being buried across the walkway.

A few weeks ago, Hubby, daughter Sue, and I attended a noon Mass at St. Christopher's. Bishop Robert Hennessey, who oversees the Central Region, was the celebrant. The bishop said that he hoped to relieve those priests who had noon Masses in their churches. Following the Mass, we picked up our church friend, Joan Hill, and proceeded to Gerard's Restaurant where we had lunch. While we were there, we had a chance to chat with Nancy Greene and her daughter Sheila Greene Donovan.

Sheila, who works at the South Boston Neighborhood House, told me a very nice story. Because of poor economic conditions, the SBNH found it necessary to move all its operations into the 108-year-old settlement house where it began, more than a century ago. Everyone, from seniors to toddlers, would be under one roof. There was one big drawback. It did not have the money to refit the space.

In desperation, the SBNH called the mayor and was offered the assistance of John Lynch from the Office of Neighborhood Development's Partners with Non-Profits Program. A gift from John Hynes and Gale International kept the project afloat. The mayor suggested that the Neighborhood House call Mike Monahan and Gary Walker from the IBEW, Local 103, and Tom Flynn, Rich Neville, John Murphy, Frank Santa Fe, Dick Nihtila, Dave Leonardi, Mark Ehrlich, and Tom O'Toole from the New England Council of Carpenters, explaining the situation; both unions offered to help. So did Ralph Harriman, John Laughlin, and Paul MacLean from the Painters' and Allied Trades' District Council No. 35, and Neal Kelleher, with Sheet Metal Workers' Local 17. Tom Quinlan and members of the Floorcoverers' Local 2168 joined the worthy endeavor. The architects of ADD, Inc. drew up plans, pro bono. Forty master electricians, led by Dennis Sullivan, worked three weekends on the project.

Walsh Mechanical Contractors, Lumber Liquidators, Atlantic Power and Light, Independent Floors and Pavilion Floorsand, and the Pappas Properties donated materials. The Furniture Trust provided lightly-used office furniture. Congratulations to all those companies that donated their help and materials to outfit the Neighborhood House. Many people from South Boston and some from Dorchester are now benefiting from the kindnesses of these workers, many of whom are local. I thank the Executive Director of the SBNH, Barbara Macdonald, for supplying me with the names of the unions, companies, and their people, who helped the Neighborhood House with this extensive renovation. They deserve much recognition for their help. The 22nd annual fundraiser for the South Boston Neighborhood House will be held on Thurs., Apr. 2, at the Seaport Hotel. Contact SBNH at 617-268-1619, Ext. 206, for tickets.

I loved reading the article, in a recent Boston Herald about the upcoming cruise ship schedule for the 2009 season. I already put on my calendar that Cunard's Queen Victoria (964 feet long) will stop in Boston while on her maiden voyage on Mon., Sept. 28. The Queen Mary 2 will leave Boston on July 4 on her way back to England. Hubby, daughter Sue, and I will be over at Castle Island to see both of these ships sometime while they are in port. I also just read that the Tall Ships will be in Boston from July 8 to 13. We may just bring a tent over to Castle Island and camp out all those days.

Several weeks ago, daughter-in-law Alex sent us an invitation to attend a performance of Die Zauberflote, The Magic Flute, by Mozart. The cast was from the Vocal Studio of Pamela Wolfe, where Alex studies voice. Hubby looked up directions to the Emmanuel Lutheran Church on Berwick St., Norwood, where the opera was to be held on Sat., Feb. 28, at 4 p.m. Daughter Jeanne was coming all the way from Rockport. Niece Terri, who lives in Attleboro, also joined us. The church was very pretty and overlooked a lovely open field. As we took our seats, we were amazed at the beautiful chandelier, which was hanging above the area where the orchestra was to play.

Soon the cast members came out from a side room. We spotted Alex with two of her fellow singers standing on one side of the stage. From the program, we learned that Alex was one of the three ladies-in-waiting to the queen. The singing was just wonderful. I particularly thought that the harmony among Alex's trio and also the harmony among the three youths of the temple/spirits were positively wonderful. Alex told us, when the concert was over, that the woman who played the queen's daughter worked with Alex's group, the ladies-in-waiting, and also with the three young girls who played the spirits. The woman, Sarah Telford, certainly did a magnificent job training both groups because they harmonized beautifully. By the way, one of the three young singers was Sarah's daughter Nora.

Every one of the singers had a wonderful voice. We were amazed that they did so well, especially since the entire opera was in German. We kept track of the story of The Magic Flute by reading the synopsis in the program since no one in our family understands German. During the last musical selection, the woman sitting in the pew in front of us began singing along with the cast. We figured out that she was Pamela Wolfe, who owns the Vocal Studio. (She has a beautiful voice.) The concert was over just about 6 p.m. When Alex came out, we told her how wonderful the singers were. I must also compliment Lidiya Yankovskaya, the conductor, John Zielinski, the pianist, and Ona Jonaitye, the flautist, who were equally as wonderful as the singers.

We discovered how the group decided on The Magic Flute when we read the entire program booklet. Pamela Wolfe walked into the Brandeis Music Dept. and discovered a huge stack of Magic Flute scores on the "free" desk. Pamela even thanked Jo-Ann Fabric for giving her a discount on the materials used in the costumes for the opera, which was set in Egypt, about the reign of Rameses I. After the concert was over, the cast had a small celebration at the church. They had much to celebrate. The concert was terrific.

If you are or were a parishioner of St. Peter's Church, you will want to know the date of the annual fundraising celebration in support of the church. The date is Sun., May 17, 3 to 8 p.m., at Florian Hall. Music will be provided by Andy Healey and Country Roads. Mark the date on your calendar.

I was sorry to read of the death of Lorraine Bylander from Marshfield on Mar. 6. When daughter Sue was in Girl Scouts at St. Ann's, Lorraine was the Neighborhood Chairman of the Adams District of the Girl Scouts. Sue fondly remembers Lorraine and her daughters on the bus trips to day camp. I am sure that all the former members of St. Ann's Girl Scouts send their sympathy to Lorraine's daughters Karyn and Susan.

On Sat., Mar. 28, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m., Boston will join 400 cities throughout the world in dimming their non-essential lights for Earth Hour. The event, organized by the World Wildlife Fund, hopes to raise awareness on climate change. City Councilor John Connolly pushed through a resolution endorsing the event. In Boston this year, the Prudential, the Hancock buildings, and the Custom House Tower will go dark for the hour. Among the places that went dark last year were the Coliseum, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Empire State Building.

We still have a few St. Patrick's events to attend in the next week. Of course, I will tell you all about Southie's St. Patrick's Day Parade next week. I am hoping that you've all had a terrific week.