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Happy St. Patrick's Day!

“May your life be filled with laughter;
Your home be filled with love
And may the good Lord shower you
With many blessings from above.”
A St. Patrick’s Day Blessing

Our home was all set for St. Patrick’s Day before the beginning of March. Right after Valentine’s Day, Hubby fastened an electric shamrock to our rose trellis. He also draped a string of green LED lights along the porch railing. I put a big green shamrock on the front door. Hubby went looking for our Irish tapes and CDs. Over the years, we have collected some wonderful ones. (Quite a few were from the Christmas Tree Shops.) My brother Jack and sister-in-law Val made us several Irish CDs nine years ago. We have put those CDs in the car and listen to them as we travel.

I hope you have seen the Irish programs on Channels 2, 11, and 44. We loved the one called “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.” Pat O’Brien does a little bit of an Irish step dance with a young girl dancer. They were wonderful together. Pat was terrific and he was not kid when that TV segment was taped. Patty Duke hosted this special.

Another outstanding segment was done by young Paul O’Keefe, who played Patty’s brother on the “Patty Duke Show.” Paul, who must have been about seven years old, sang “Dear Old Donegal,” with a very authentic Irish accent. (His parents or grandparents must have been from the Old Country.) He was outstanding. This terrific Irish show was produced by Malachy McCourt, the late Frank’s brother, who co-hosted the fundraising Public Television segments with George Clooney’s Dad, Nick. Nick was also the brother of the late singer Rosemary Clooney, who also appears on the show.

Who are the world’s greatest tea drinkers per capita? Of course, it is the Irish, who average 1600 cups per year. (Tea should be steeped for three to five minutes before serving.)

I received an e-mail from Mary Ellen, a fan of the newspaper, asking if I knew what had happened to the garden show each Sat. evening from 10 to 11 p.m., on WBZ Radio. I had noticed that the show was not on the past two weeks. (I am usually getting ready for bed and hear much of the show at that time.) Mary Ellen’s e-mail gave me the impetus to call WBZ. I was put through to the Program Manager’s office. The person who answered told me that the program, called Garden Sense, had purchased the on-the-air time but they haven’t purchased any more time. I told the gentleman that the program had calls from the Boston area so I was wondering why they chose not to be heard on WBZ. Mary Ellen and I got a great deal of gardening info from the program. Mary Ellen heard Jos Roozen, the gardening expert on the program, name the best rose fertilizer. It is called Rose Fertilizer, by St. Gabriel’s Laboratories. She purchases this fertilizer at Curry Hardware in Quincy. Hubby often visits Curry Hardware and will pick up some on his next visit. Mary Ellen said that she is still able to hear the program online on WML.com from 8 to 9 a.m., on Saturdays. I think morning is a much better time for the program.

I hope that you receive Yankee Magazine in the mail or pick it up at the store. The March-April issue is wonderful. It begins with a story on the Merchant Marine Captain, who was taken prisoner by the Somali Pirates. Capt. Richard Phillips, who lives in Vermont, has written a book on his terrifying experience, called A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy Seals, and My Dangerous Days at Sea. It will be published in April. The next story that I thought was interesting was about collecting maple sap and the process of turning it into maple syrup in Vermont. Last year’s crop in Vermont was 920,000 gallons, the biggest crop in 60 years. In another part of the magazine, it mentions that in June of 1816, Vermont received 10 inches of snow. That was called “The Year Without a Summer.” (I bet they didn’t get too much sap that spring.)

The next article that was of local interest was “The Cape Awakens.” This focuses on the places and restaurants to visit at this time of year on the outer Cape: Eastham, Truro, Wellfleet, and Provincetown. The next article of interest was about attracting birds. It even gives a list of the types of bush, tree, or plant to use to attract certain types of birds. The next article in this most informative issue of Yankee Magazine was a short article on Chelsea Clocks. Hubby and I both love Chelsea Clocks and always devour the newspaper ads when we see these clocks on sale. Even on sale, though, the clocks are out of our price-range. In the article it mentions that John Wayne loved his Chelsea Clock. The article also says that, with proper cleaning every five years, a Chelsea Clock should last for 100 years. Over the years, the company has even made clocks for Rolls Royce, Studebaker, and Packard vehicles. A few years back, we used to shop at the Market Basket Supermarket in Chelsea. The Chelsea Clock building is almost in the parking lot of the market. We used to say that we would love to take a tour of the building some day, to see how these wonderful clocks are made. Sad to say, we never did.

Following the clock article, there were several recipes for breads, including Anadama Bread and the local Boston favorite, Parker House Rolls. The second last article that made me stop to read it was “A Celebration of Life,” all about the South Boston Parade, by Rick Winterson, who works for the South Boston Online paper. Even the many photos by “The Bros. Kozowyk” are spectacular. I especially loved the photo of the former Parade Organizer John “Wacko” Hurley, who is a good friend of our friends, Tom and Margaret McCauley. The final article that caught my interest in this jam-packed issue was about the Old Man of the Mountain. Sometime, overnight, on May 3, 2003, the “Old Man” fell off the side of the mountain. It was very foggy that night and, of course, dark, so no one actually saw the huge five-ton granite “face” fall. In recent years, donations to the fund to replace the face have dried up because of lack of interest. That is sad. The “Face” was a wonderful tourist attraction. This Mar./Apr. issue of Yankee Magazine is terrific. It is well worth buying.

I was sorry to read of the death of James Fratus Sr. on Mar. 4, in Somerville. James was the father of the late Fr. James Fratus, the much respected former pastor of St. Brendan Church. I am sure that all the parishioners of St. Brendan’s send their sympathy to the remaining Fratus children: Ellen Norris, Carol Hodgkins, and Pamela Szymkowski.

Mayor Tom Menino has announced that the “Boston Shines” weekend will be held this year on Fri. and Sat., Apr. 23 and 24, from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. This is a two-day clean-up event of the city’s neighborhoods. To volunteer or for more info, contact the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services at 617-635-3485.

During Lent, Fridays present a dilemma. We are not big fish eaters so we sometimes order a pizza. Trying for a little variety, two weeks ago, I decided to become domestic and make Baked Macaroni and Cheese, which I used to make when all our kids were still at home. I remembered that I had used the recipe on the Mueller’s Elbow Macaroni box and found it easily in my messy folder of recipes to keep. Hubby bought a block of unsliced cheese and I was ready to show that I hadn’t lost the little culinary ability that I had. Hubby grated the cheese for me. The cheese sauce came out beautifully, no lumps. I cooked the macaroni for just six minutes, as the recipe recommended. I remembered that the kids like cracker crumbs in the topping rather than bread crumbs so I substituted Saltines. (Hubby crunched them in a plastic bag.) I greased my glass pan, 8” by 8”. I put in the macaroni and made a gorgeous crust of crushed crackers along with the rest of the grated cheese. Into the oven it went. Being very domestic that day, I decided that I would clean the pans before we sat down to dinner. I took the pan in which I had cooked the macaroni and scoured it with my SOS pad. Then I grabbed the cheese-sauce pan. It was very heavy. YIKES! I had forgotten to put the macaroni into the sauce before I put the mixture into the baking pan. I quickly took out the pan of macaroni from the oven. (It had only been in the oven for five minutes.) Hubby held onto the pan with a hot pad while I poured the cheese sauce into the pan and mixed everything together. Gone was my gorgeous topping, all mixed in with the macaroni and sauce. I wondered how it would taste. It actually turned out well, much to my surprise. There was even some left so daughter Sue took the rest home for her dinner Sat. evening. Next time I feel domestic and decide to make something from scratch, I’ll have Hubby check to make sure I have made the recipe correctly before it goes into the oven. Julia Child would have been appalled at my culinary abilities that day.

Continue to have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Week!