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Welcoming Winter

“The night sky is clear, and hundreds of stars are visible. When we go outside, the air freezes in our nostrils, while the snow crunches beneath our feet. The cold seems existential. Returning to our warm, cozy home, we marveled at both nature’s power and the quiet, stark beauty of this frozen landscape in the middle of a busy city.”
By Barbara Glatt

Hubby and I were glad that the snow over the weekend was so light that it could be swept away. The only problem was that the snow iced up on the windshield of our car so it took some scraping to get the ice off. Because it has been so windy, Hubby has put two scatter rugs, in addition to a rolled-up rug, against the bottom of the front door to keep out the cold breeze. We also keep the doors of the kitchen sink cabinet open over night so that the warmth from the furnace can warm the pipes coming up from the cellar.

Hubby and I are always delighted to see our Castle Island Association’s bimonthly newsletter come in the mail. The latest one that arrived on Saturday was chock full of news. First, it mentions that Southie’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be held on Sun., Mar. 17. Ed Flynn, former Mayor Ray and Cathy Flynn’s son, will be the marshal. The newsletter also mentions that Sullivan’s, or “Sully’s” as we frequent patrons call it, will re-open on Sat., Feb. 23. If you’ve already checked the calendar, you know that Easter is very early this year, Mar. 31. (Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, is less than week away, on Feb. 13.) On Easter Sunday morning, the Association will hold its annual Sunrise Mass, beginning at 6:29 a.m. Although I have never been to it, I know that hundreds of people attend the Mass each year. Some day Hubby and I will get up early enough to attend.

As I mentioned previously, Cousins Carolyn and Rock invited Hubby, daughter Sue, and me to join them and their daughter Katie for Christmas. Cousin Richard had joined us with his daughters Julianna and Emily. Cousin Diane joined us a little later. In came son Paul, daughter-in-law Alex, daughter Jeanne, son-in-law David, and our grandkids, Brendan and Erin. For such a hungry bunch, our hosts were well prepared. Rock had already cooked a beautiful ham. Carolyn was stirring pots on the stove. For hors d’oeuvres, there were mini hot dogs, stuffed mushrooms, chicken wings, deviled eggs, and chips with onion dip (made with Knorr’s Onion Soup mix). They even splurged and had shrimp for us. Our gang loved the sweet and sour meatballs and the baked beans. Sue had brought her potato salad. Paul and Alex had brought Sparkling Cider. Sue also brought Welch’s Sparkling Grape Juice. Rock had made decaf coffee for us on his Keurig machine because it was quite cold outside.

Grandson Brendan told us a great deal about his first semester in school. Granddaughter Erin told us all about receiving acceptances from various colleges. Daughter Sue, who had taken a seat well away from almost everyone because she was sick, dozed off several times. When Sue returned to school after the first of the year, she discovered that quite a few of her fellow teachers had spent the Christmas school vacation as she had – in bed. Jeanne spoke about the flu and other illnesses that were hitting her school.

As I mentioned before, Hubby and I were both sick during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Hubby had pneumonia while I had asthmatic bronchitis. Hubby had to see the doctors three different times and has a slight residual cough even now. I was more fortunate. I saw the doctor twice because the bronchitis resurrected my asthma, which returned with a vengeance after being dormant for probably five years. I now make sure that I have an inhaler both at home and in work. When we flew to Hubby’s brother’s funeral in Virginia, there were three times when I was unable to take an “in” breath. What a frightening feeling! Thank goodness, each episode passed quickly and I was able to breathe once again. I did take a week off from work. In the 29 years that I have worked for the Reporter, I don’t think I’ve taken more that three or four days off, other than recovering from the surgeries on my knees. By the way, daughter Sue, who was the first one to be sick in our family just before Christmas, is sick again. She thinks that she caught another cold from her pupils, this one featuring swollen glands and a fever.

The Jan. 23 Pope’s Hill meeting was very informative. The first speaker to arrive was Jacquelyn Lamont, a forensic interviewer in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office. I had a chance to chat with Jacquelyn before the meeting began. I had received a rather disturbing e-mail earlier that day. It was supposedly from a friend of mine, telling me that she and her family were in Manila and that they had been robbed. (That could have been plausible—that they were in Manila.) My friend asked that we send her money because they had been robbed of everything they had. I had already heard of scams like this so I did not send money. Jacquelyn said that I did the correct thing in not sending money. I pray that I did.

Jacquelyn deferred her place in the speaking order to our members so that Andrew Davis, president of Carney Hospital, could speak first since he had another speaking engagement. He told us his accent was from Florida. He joined Steward Health Care last May after previously serving as head of two hospitals in North Carolina. He proudly noted that Carney Hospital had served Boston for 100 years. The Emergency Room took care of 30,000 people this past year. He told us that Steward is a for-profit hospital outfit, specializing in high quality care. It pays $2.5 million in taxes and employs about 900 people. He also told us that Carney’s business had increased 15 percent recently because of the flu. One of our members spoke up, saying she did not enjoy the food when she was in the hospital recently. She also had trouble understanding the foreign doctors who had come to treat her. She also told President Andy that the hospital did not carry some of her medications. He asked that this member call him at the hospital so he could get more information and hopefully correct the situations.

Community Service Officer Dennis Rorie was the next speaker, and he introduced us to Sgt. Doyle, who spoke of a woman who was assaulted on Chickatawbut Street. She fortunately had her keys in her hand and pushed them into the would-be robber’s head. The young man, about 18 years old, fled down Plain Street. In other matters, he spoke of some “ladies of the evening” working in the area and their “johns; he told us that some robberies involving Asians may not even be reported; he noted that the demolition on Coffey Street had been shut down because the proper permits had not been obtained.

Dennis also told us that if you think something is not right, it probably isn’t. He urged us not to walk wearing earplugs. “You can’t hear if anyone if coming up behind you,” he said.

Then, Jacquelyn Lamont finally had her chance to speak. She said that her job in the Suffolk County DA’s office was to protect our kids. She speaks to school children from Grade 5 through high school. She warned us to keep personal information to a minimum on Facebook, about which she made numerous observations: She astounded us by saying that one young person had more that 1,650 photos of himself on Facebook, much too many, she suggested. … One person bragged that he had 1,976 friends on Facebook. … She said that if you put your birthday on the internet, you will know that someone saw it there if you change the date a day or two either way from your real birthday. … She mentioned that crude and rude language is rampant on Facebook, adding that there is also a great deal of cyber-bullying on the internet. She also noted that: The middle digit of a person’s hand is often seen on the internet. … If you see the word “wavy,” it means “high.” … Another word in common use on the internet, is “smut” and if you change the letter “m” to “l,” you get what it really means.

Jacquelyn warned members to be careful what they and their children put on social media. Companies often check to see what is on a person’s Facebook before offering that person a job or a position. She also had with her a DVD, which she offered to members free of charge, about the pitfalls that children may encounter after putting too much info or crude info on the internet. She was an amazing speaker who gave us much to think about.

I really love this saying, and hopefully it will prove true as long as we live: “ Lord, help me to remember that nothing is going to happen today that You and I can’t handle.”