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Spring is, indeed, coming.

“Never again will I spend another winter in this accursed bucketshop of a refrigerator called England.”
Letter to Sidney Colvin From Rudyard Kipling

Perhaps we would insert the word “New” and adapt Kipling’s thoughts to reflect the feelings of most people in New England after the terrible weather of this past week. There is only one good thing about the weather. It was a little too warm to snow. We would have been inundated if it had snowed. The rain made quite a few daffodils burst through the ground along side our house. I can even see a little yellow crocus ready to flower. Spring is, indeed, coming.

On Feb.18, Hubby and I picked up our friend Eileen Burke and drove to the Irish Cultural Centre in Canton for the February monthly luncheon. It was School Vacation Week so daughter Sue was able to join us. She had an appointment that morning so she came in a little later. We figured that some of the regular attendees probably were in warmer climes because there were empty seats at some tables.

Fr. John McCarthy, the Irish chaplain for the Irish Pastoral Centre, began Mass by saying that there were actually three St. Valentines. He spoke about love and marriage. He asked “What makes Marriage last?” He mentioned a couple that was married 50 years. A priest asked how they made their marriage last so long. The husband said, “Once a week, we have romantic dinners with good food and romantic candles. The priest then went to stop the husband before he got too explicit. The husband continued. “She goes out to dinner on Tuesday evenings; I go out on Thursday evenings.” We all laughed. Fr. John said that best way is for the husband and wife to try to accommodate each other. He said that these St. Paul’s readings are often used at weddings. Fr. John also noted that his father Patrick had died on Feb. 18 and he asked that we remember him at Mass that day.

Cora Flood, the Seniors’ coordinator for the Irish Pastoral Centre, then came to the microphone and wished us all a Happy Valentine’s Day. She mention that the Donegal event was to be held on Sat., Mar. 6, and the Sligo event, with Andy Healey, on Sun., Mar. 14. She told us that Ronnie Cote and Dave Healy would, once again, be playing for us at the luncheon. We also discovered that our friend Peg O’Connor was celebrating her birthday on that day. She was going to celebrate with a big cake the following day at the Blind Center in Quincy.

The luncheon at the ICC was very nice: a salad, chicken with spinach, oven-roasted potatoes, coffee, tea, and all kinds of pastries. It was, again, catered by Kilcommons Caterers. There was also another birthday that day at the luncheon. The birthday gal put her cake out on the pastry table. Our friend Kathy Gould, who was sitting at the next table to us, brought slices of the birthday cake to us. We told Kathy that there would be H1N1 flu shots being given out at the Pope’s Hill meeting on Feb. 24, thanks to the staff of the Neponset Health Center. At the end of the luncheon, daughter Sue left to pick up her finished tax returns on the way home. Eileen, Hubby, and I saw the good-sized traffic jam on the Expressway as we came off Route 128, so Hubby got off in Quincy and took us home via the “low” road.

We were not home more than an hour when the phone rang. It was daughter Jeanne. She and the kids were in Boston and would be at our home in about one-half hour. Traffic was too heavy to try to get back to Rockport at 5 p.m. When Jeanne, Brendan, and Erin came in, we asked if they wanted to go to Gerard’s for dinner. They all smiled and said, in one voice, “Sure!”

When we walked into Gerard’s, we saw our friends Pat Walsh and Joe Gaffney sitting at the counter. We pushed two tables together and sat down. Just after we came in, our friend Marty Allen came in with her grandnieces, Anna and Abbey. They sounded like they were having a great time, just as we were. We all got what we really like. I predicted that Jeanne would order the turkey dinner and she did. Daughter Sue had enough food to take home for a second dinner. The kids were delighted to be out for dinner and they do enjoy Gerard’s. Daughter Sue just happened to have Hubby’s camera in her pocketbook. (She had taken photos off his memory card.) We took some photos out in the parking lot. Every one of them came out great. We all laughed because Gerard’s sign was in the background in all the photos.

When Jeanne and the kids left us, they went to son Paul’s home and spent some time with him. They had daughter-in-law Alex’s birthday gifts to deliver. Alex was at her Mom’s home so they didn’t get to see her but they had an enjoyable time with Paul. Jeanne and the kids didn’t get home till quite late that evening.

I must mention a lady who performed a great service at the Valentine’s dinner at the Leahy-Holloran Community Centre on Thurs., Feb. 11. Paula Skalinski R.N. went around the cafeteria to many of the seniors and took their blood pressure readings. Paula, in her spare time, runs St. Ann’s CCD program, the CYO trips, the altar servers, parish vacation camps, and has organized seven years of March Madness for St. Ann’s. She also created a new website: http://leahyhollorancommunity center.com/PhotoGallery.aspxeat. I don’t know how she does what she does with her busy schedule. Thanks for all your hard work, Paula.

I was sorry to read of the death of Anne Feeney from cancer on Feb. 19. I send my sympathy to her parents Ed and Mary, and to her sister and brothers: Margaret Kershaw, Edward, Sean, Peter, and our Pope’s Hill friend Kevin.

I was also sorry to read of the death of Esther Moynihan on Feb. 24. I met Esther last fall when our group of St. Brendan’s Seniors spent a week at the Irish Village on Cape Cod. Esther had come with her sister Virginia “Ginny” (Cunniff) Hutchinson, a woman whom I have known since our childhood days in Jamaica Plain. Ginny and Esther were invited to join our group at the hotel by our group leader, Eileen Collins, their good friend. We didn’t know that Esther had served in the U.S. Army until we saw the obit. Hubby and I send our sympathy to her sister Ginny.

Daughter Jeanne phoned me last Friday morning at 9:15 a.m. The rain and wind storm wreaked havoc on her town of Rockport. On Thursday evening about 6 p.m., she and son Brendan went down to the local beach to see how angry the ocean was. They left when they started to get wet from the waves breaking over the sea wall. After they got home, the electricity went off. I heard, early on Friday morning, on WBZ radio, that Rockport and Gloucester Schools were closed for the day. I figured that Jeanne, David, and the kids were still without power. When Jeanne called, she said that they had been without power for more than 12 hours, up to that morning There is a small stream a little behind and to the side of Jeanne’s home. Thank goodness it did not overflow, as it has other times. She also said there were branches on her front lawn from the big tree in front of the house. Son Paul also e-mailed me that he was getting a little water in his cellar from the storm.

Daughter Jeanne came down to Boston on Saturday. She said that the electricity at her home was out for more than 21 hours. (She lives very near the water.) She said that the winds were frightening. They made the house shake. The house was in the 50s so they did not lose any food in the fridge. She and David cooked a chicken outside on the grill. They also heated water for tea and cocoa on the grill. Thank goodness the electricity was not out for a longer time. Jeanne, by the way, made a side trip to Sully’s at Castle Island before she went back to Rockport.

I was shocked to hear that the Chilean Earthquake was 500 times more powerful than the one to hit Haiti in January. The only thing that save the population in Chile was the fact that building codes were made much more stringent in the ‘60s. Hubby figures that there must have been a bad earthquake in the ‘60s to make the government improve the building codes.

Sunday evening, Hubby and I watched Ben Hur, one of our favorite movies. We thought Charleton Heston was wonderful in the title role. Robert Osborne, the host of the movie, told us that Heston was not the first choice for the role. The producers wanted Burt Lancaster. Burt didn’t want to do the film. (Heston had been chosen to be Messala, the Roman.) The film was then offered to Rock Hudson but he had contractual difficulties and could not do the film. Heston was still to be Messala. Finally, the title role was offered to Heston and Irish actor Stephen Boyd was given the role of Messala. The final cast was wonderful—and who doesn’t love Jack Hawkins. What a film!

I loved this little poem, attributed to Bishop Fulton Sheen:
“Whenever I see a church,
I stop in for a visit,
So that when, at last, they carry me in,
God won’t say, ‘Who is it?’