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The time for home

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food, and warmth,
for the touch of a friendly hand, and for a talk beside the fire.
It is the time for home.”
By British poet, Edith Sitwell

There is much more oven-baking going now that the weather is cold. Hubby, daughter Sue, and I love leaving the oven door open after whatever was baked has been taken out. There are more baked potatoes and baked chicken. I broke out my heavy velour robe to put on while watching TV later in the evening. We make sure that our outdoor cat Louie has plenty of food to keep him warm. I still don’t have all the Christmas decorations back in the attic as yet. Hubby took down some of the outside Christmas decorations but the Christmas star is still shining from our rose trellis. The next “warm” day, he will take that down and put up our Valentine lights. I still have a few New Year’s cards to write. Then the unused cards will go up into the attic. By the way, did you hear that the wind chill factor atop Mt. Washington this past cold Sunday was 53 below zero? And we thought we were cold in Boston!

I must tell you about the fans in front of us during the Celtics’/Pacers’ game at which granddaughter Erin was honored. Just in front of Hubby and me were an over-zealous fan and his wife. He was holding a huge letter “D” while his wife was holding a small section of a fence with four pickets. Every time the Pacers had the ball, the husband would yell, “D-fence” (for “defense”) to urge the Celtics’ defense players onward. It was a riot to watch as they waved the “D” and the fence. By the way, the Celtics also honored two members of the Army National Guard that evening. I also must mention that any time we cheered the Celtics, a Noise Meter would appear on the Jumbo Trons. The louder we hollered, the farther up the meter the noise would register. At one time during the evening, we made it to the top of the meter.

We learned, at the Irish Pastoral luncheon in December that we will have an interim Senior Coordinator at the centre while Cora Flood is out on Maternity Leave. (Cora should have her baby any time now.) Taking Cora’s place is Catherine Moloney, who will fill in for Cora till Easter. Catherine asked me to mention the Irish Music for Memory singing group, which will meet just once a month during Jan., Feb., and Mar. Then the group will return to its bi-weekly time schedule ‘til the bad weather returns late next fall. The group meets at 4 p.m. at the Irish Pastoral Centre, which is located in St. Brendan’s Rectory, 15 Rita Rd., next to the church. The meeting begins with refreshments at 4 p.m., followed by the singing from 4:30 to 6 p.m., under the direction of Maureen McNally. (Maureen plays and sings at the Irish Pastoral Centre’s Mass and luncheon each month.) The singing practice is free; donations are welcomed to help with the cost of refreshments. It sounds like lots of fun. I also thanked Catherine for sending us a list of the dates for the 2012 luncheons, just as Cora had done. We enjoy the luncheons so much that we don’t want to make any other plans for the luncheon days.

The other day, while Hubby, daughter Sue, and I were talking, Hubby mentioned that he must put on his “best bib and tucker” when we were getting ready to go to the Garden to see granddaughter Erin receive her award. Sue asked what a “tucker” was. Neither of us knew the answer. Sue googled the phrase “best bib and tucker.” “Early bibs were somewhat like modern bibs, although they were not specifically used to protect clothing from spills the way they are now. Tuckers were lace pieces, fitted over the bodice-sometimes called ‘pinners’ or ‘modesty pieces’. These came into prominence by the end of the 17th Century. Tuckers are even mentioned in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.”

The postage rates will change this Sunday, Jan. 22. The only time I read anything about this increase a few months ago, the article said that the first class postage rate would be 45¢. There will be more about the changes in the newspapers before Sunday.

For many a year, I had often thought about buying a “kissing ball” at Christmas time. The cost of buying a kissing ball with fresh greens was out of my league. I had never even found one made from artificial greens that I could keep from year to year. Well, this year, much to my delight, Hubby’s sister Peg gave us a kissing ball, made from fresh greenery, for our Christmas gift. It is still hanging from our porch. I could not take it down with the Christmas lights. It still looks too “alive.” I will keep it hanging until the greens get too dry.

I was sorry to read of the death of Joseph Sammartino Sr. on Jan. 12, at age 94. Joe was well known in the Neponset area for the businesses which he began on Morrissey Boulevard. He and his brothers-in-law Matthew and Philip began with the Phillips Candy House. They went on to develop Phillips Old Colony Restaurant/ Freeport Tavern. In recent years years, they and their families developed the Ramada Inn and Comfort Inn, the Deadwood Café, and the Boston Bowl. Joe Sr. is survived by his wife of 69 years Anna (Strazzula), his children Mary Ann Nagle and Joseph Jr., and his brother Francis. Our family sends its sympathy to the Sammartino and Strazzula families, who are such a vital part of our Neponset businesses.

Our own little Pope’s Hill area, mainly Houghton, Rowley and Tilesboro Sts., has been deeply saddened by the death of one our longest residents, Kathleen “Kathy” (Barry) Neimann, at age 64, on Jan. 11. Kathy and her husband of 42 years, Paul, moved into their home 40 years ago, right next to our home. They raised four girls in their home, Julie, Donna, Lisa, and Paula. We could always tell, by the numbers of their daughters’ cars near the house, that there was a family celebration happening. On a hot summer day we would love seeing Paul and Kathy sitting in their yard, with their grandkids having a ball in the small pool. I would see Kathy, shovel in hand, after sizable snowstorms, attacking mounds of snow so we all could drive more safely in our little area. I can still hear her speaking of the wonderful times that she and Paul had in Punta Cana (in the Dominican Republic). She was a cat lover just like us and daughter Sue. She and Paul have five cats.

We learned, seven years ago, that Kathy had cancer. In all these following years, she has never let her illness slow her down. She would shop and babysit. She and Paul would still have celebrations at their home for their girls and their families. She loved Christmas. “That was her holiday,” one of her girls told me. Our neighbor Janie saw her this Christmas and said she was rallying because of “her” holiday. She only recently stopped driving. Paul told me over New Year’s weekend that Kathy was in the hospital with a blockage and that Hospice had been called in for her. Her girls were wonderful. Each took a turn staying with her, keeping vigil with their Dad at the hospital.

St. Ann’s Church in Neponset was nearly filled with her large family and her many friends. Fr. Sean Connor, pastor of St. Ann’s, focused on the tribute that the eldest daughter Julie read for her sisters just before Mass began. Kathy’s life revolved around her family and Fr. Sean elaborated on that. She loved being Mom and especially enjoyed being Nana to her seven grandchildren: Ryan, Olivia, Regan, Ava, Connor, Kerri, and Jillian. Her young grandchildren, Ava and Olivia Baldassari, and Connor Gagne did an amazing job doing their readings at the Mass. We send the sympathy of all our neighborhood to Paul, to the girls, Julie, Donna, Lisa, and Paula, to the seven grandchildren and to Kathy’s sisters Carol and Sheila, and to her brother Paul. (Sheila’s husband Eddie, by the way, is related to Hubby.) We join all our neighbors in telling Paul that we will help him any time he needs us. Sue and I even offer to feed the cats for Paul. We are also “Cat People.”

Here is a thought by Hal Borland: “There are two seasonal diversions that can ease the bite of any winter. One is the January thaw. The other is the seed catalog.”