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Convocation Day at UMass Boston

“We hail merry Autumn days
when leaves are turning red;
Because they’re far more
beautiful than anyone has said.
By Charles Dickens

Hubby and I saw a few red leaves as we toured New Hampshire two weeks ago. He was able to take some photos that were thrilling to see. There will be more about our trip farther down in this column.

The evening reception at UMassBoston was just as pleasant as the morning reception on Convocation Day. Hubby and I saw Pattie Brett once again, helping with the reception as she does so well. Paul Nutting and Jim Cawley were also there. Linda O’Brien and Phil Carver, from the university, also joined us. My UMass pal, Carol DeSouza, was there, wearing a “sparkly” top that looked terrific on her svelte figure. (We have a great photo of Carol with me.) Carol told me all about the recent wedding of her daughter Mary to Andrew Stephens in London. Carol wore a steel-blue dress. Both Moms, Carol and Sheila Stephens, did the readings. The wedding sounded beautiful. I hope that Carol will have photos for me to see at our next function at UMassBoston.

Then it was time for Chancellor Keith Motley to come to the microphone. He began by saying, “I haven’t met a mic I didn’t like.” He mentioned the annual barbecue for students, held earlier on Convocation Day. He also said that senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren was the guest speaker during the morning program. The chancellor also mentioned that UMass alumni had given one million dollars to the University. Also attending the evening reception was Professor Paul Watanabe, whom I had met that morning. Daughter Sue had the professor for at least one course when she attended UMass and enjoyed him immensely. My high school (Girls’ Latin) classmate Sarah Ann Shaw was also at the reception. We always enjoy seeing each other. Hubby and I were so glad that we were able to attend both receptions at the university.

As I mentioned in last week’s column, daughter Sue had surgery for a pinched nerve in her neck. While she was recovering at her cousin Terri’s home, I took care of Sue’s cats. Just before Sue was to come home, her older cat Cleo died at the age of 17 and one-half years. We finally got through the shock of the cat’s death after Sue came home and made sure her younger cat Tia was okay.

Hubby and I were pleased that all was fine because we were going on a trip to the Indian Head Resort in Lincoln, NH, with organizer Marty Allen for four days. We began to pack our suitcases on Sunday. I wanted to wash and dry a few more things to take with us. As I walked down the stairs to the cellar, I noticed a large wet spot on the floor under the hot water tank. It had sprung a leak. Hubby turned off both the water and the gas to the tank. On Monday morning, he called a man who had just put a motor into an overhead fan heater in the back cellar for us. (The fan heater comes on when the weather is extremely cold. It blows warm air into that room so that the water pipes won’t freeze.) Hubby asked if he could put in a hot water tank. “I’ll be there in a few hours with a new tank,” was the reply. The man and his helper worked most of the afternoon. By dinnertime, we had lovely hot water, thanks to their quick work. Hopefully, nothing more would go wrong before we left for Indian Head.

Hubby and I were up early on Tues., Sept. 19. Our bags were packed. Indian Head did not provide luncheons in our package deal so Marty had advised us to bring food. We knew that cheese and ham were not so apt to spoil as salads made with mayonnaise. We decided to take both ham and cheese, plus small, whole wheat pita-type breads. They would not flatten to nothing if they were crushed in our carry-on bag. Everything worked out beautifully and the sandwiches were enjoyable. When we drove into Florian Hall, our bus was already there. Joanne, our favorite bus driver, was putting the suitcases into the luggage compartments. Marty welcomed us with big hugs. Gerard drove up in a van and began unloading our sandwich lunches and desserts, coffee, and other drinks that we would have that day. We were so good about being on time that our bus left a few minutes early. On the way to Lincoln, NH, we stopped for coffee/tea and breakfast pastries in Salem, NH. It had started to rain so we went inside to eat. I had a chance to chat with pals Gregory and Sarah Ashe as we enjoyed Gerard’s coffee; we even had decaf. We went the rest of the way to Lincoln while watching a DVD of Terry Fator, a main attraction in Las Vegas.

When we arrived at Indian Head, it was time for lunch. Out came Gerard’s sandwiches, brownies, and drinks. Everyone was pleased with what he or she had taken. (Hubby loves his chicken salad.) We found our room and hung up our clothing. One thing that I forgot to take with me was our little travel alarm clock. Almost every day, I was up by 7 a.m. on my own, thank goodness. Marty invited us back to the Greenery Room for a Yankee Swap at 2:30 p.m. The $10 gift that generated the most excitement was the scratch tickets. I was able to trade my gift for a “GO SOXS” sign for my friend Elaine for Christmas. (This was just before the Red Sox failed to get into the playoffs.) We had lots of fun passing the gifts around the room. At the end of the Yankee Swap, Marty reminded us that Wes Peterson was the main attraction that evening.

We went back to our room and proceeded to watch our amazing 50-inch plasma TV. I saw “NCIS” with such clarity. It was wonderful. We started switching channels and came upon Elizabeth, with Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth I. It was super on the 50-inch TV, almost like being in a movie theater. We kept staring out our glass porch door at the mountains. With the clouds hovering over the huge hill outside Indian Head, Hubby and I were reminded of the Smoky Mountains. There will be lots more about our trip to Indian Head next week.

Thanks to Mary O’Brien, I learned that October is Boys and Girls Club Month at 99 Restaurants. If you should you eat at the Braintree, Quincy, or Weymouth locations, you can support the fundraising efforts for the clubs, Kids eat free every Sunday in October. Order the special Buffalo Chicken Sandwich and a portion will go to the clubs.

Speaking of eating, I have been at Phillips’ Old Colony House several times during the past few weeks to get gift certificates for friends. I was delighted to see that Phillips is now open for lunch. Hubby’s brother John and his wife Joe Ann were in Boston from Virginia several months ago and were so disappointed that Phillips was not open for lunch. They will be thrilled to learn that Phillips is, once again, serving luncheons.

I celebrated a very important anniversary last Saturday. Oct. 1, 1979 was the first column that I ever wrote for a newspaper. My friend Nancy Harrington had become ill and she asked that I write her column until she was able to resume her writing. It was a very easy day to remember. It was the day that Pope John Paul II came to very rainy Boston. Hubby was working at Purity Supreme Market that day and the kids had gone up to Columbia Circle to see the Pope and his motorcade. I was at home, sitting in front of my Underwood typewriter, trying to turn out a small column of Pope’s Hill events for Nancy. I literally had one eye on the TV to see the Pope and the other on what I was typing. I was never a good typist so it took me all afternoon to finish the column. I cannot believe that was 32 years ago. Where did all those years go?

Daughters Sue and Jeanne (alumnae of MSJA) were surprised that Mount St. Joseph Academy in Brighton, an all-girls school since 1885, and Trinity Catholic High School in Newton, a co-ed school, established in 1893, will merge in the fall of 2012. There are now 200 students in each school. The new school will be known as St. Joseph Preparatory High School.

I always enjoy reading about the largest pumpkin at the Topsfield Fair. This year’s winner weighed 1,668.5 pounds. It was grown by Carl Moore of Manchester-by-the-Sea and Peter DeNegris of Gloucester. The second largest pumpkin was grown by a man in Henniker,NH, It weighed 1,593 pounds.. I thought WBZ said that Moore gave his prize-winning giant pumpkin 50 gallons of water each day, in addition to giving it a great deal of fertilizer. When Paul Parent was on the radio, he used to tell his listeners where they could get giant pumpkin seeds.

I may go back to watching a soap opera, “Days of Our Lives,” that I hadn’t seen it since I had my first knee-replacement surgery in July of 2007. I lost track of the story line during my time in rehab. I read, in a recent story in the Boston Herald, that Deidre Hall and Drake Hogestyn have now returned to “Days” for the interim. “Marlena” and “John” were released two and one-half years ago in a cost-cutting move. I look forward to seeing them again.

I loved this saying that I saw in a Building 19 ad: ”Middle age is when you are faced with temptation and you pick the one that gets you home by nine.”