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Celebrating Independence

“Spilling over the window box,
Petunias gay!
With every straying, playful breeze
They nod and sway.”
“Petunias” by Georgia B. Adams

We do have some petunias, thanks to the Mayor’s Coffee Hour. They are a very pretty purple color. Our pansies are getting very “leggy.” I guess I should cut them back. Our orange rose bush is flowering once again; the petals now seem almost a coral color. The yellow rose bush is flowering, also. The blooms are gorgeous. Standing between the orange bush and the yellow bush, there is a small rosebush with one beautiful pink blossom. 

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Just after we arrived home from the Irish Village on June 7, Hubby and I were on our way to Florian Hall for the fundraiser for Sister Elizabeth’s Notre Dame Montessori Schooll, which is housed in the lower level of St. Christopher’s Church. 25 children attend the school. We were delighted to learn that John Connors and the Irish Express were going to play at the function. We had just seen John at the Irish Village and had enjoyed him and Greg, his fellow musician.
The items for the silent auction were all over the hall, with some wonderful baskets included. My friend Joan Hill had her eye on the basket filled with bakery goods from Green Hills. Also sitting with Joan, Hubby, and me were daughter Sue, Sharon Shepherd-Pace, and Theresa Chatman, with her daughter-in-law Marisa. (She told us that her name rhymes with her mom-in-law’s, Theresa.) Father George’s nephew Tom’s wife Gloria took some wonderful photos throughout the evening.

We were also happy to see cousin Julianna, the daughter of cousins Richard and Diane, that evening. Julianna is home for the summer from college. It was so good catching up with her. She was at the fundraiser with her girl friend Martha Robertson, a graduate of the Notre Dame Montesssori School, who was selling chances. Hubby and I were also happy to see our friend from St. Greg’s, Peter Woloschuk, at the event.

Dr. Penny Haney then welcomed us officially. She praised the work done in preparing the young students to do well in school. She also praised Sister Elizabeth Calcagni, who has directed the school since it opened in 1973. Dr. Penny invited Sr. Elizabeth to the microphone, where she received citations from Mayor Marty Walsh, City Councillors Frank Baker and Steve Linehan, and City Clerk Maureen Feeney. Sr. Elizabeth praised the work of Sister Joyce McMullen, SND, who has worked at Project Care and Concern for 41 years. I was so pleased to see Sr. Joyce and to meet Sister Eileen Finnigan, also SND, who works in the business office at the Common Market. We were happy to see our new pal, Siobhan O’Donnell, at the fundraiser. We had met her when the children of the school had a Mother’s Day Breakfast for their moms in May. The most charming part of the program was the performance of the dancers from the Peggy Woods School of Irish Step Dace. They were positively adorable as they danced for us in their elaborate costumes. One little dancer, probably just three years old, tried to dance and practically had to run to keep up with the older dancers. We did nothing but laugh as she performed. All the dancers did a grand job and received a big round of applause from an appreciative audience. The awarding of the silent auction prizes and the raffle winner closed out the evening. We had only one disappointment. Father George, from St. Christopher’s Parish, was under the weather that evening and was not able to attend the festivities. He is feeling much better now.

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On Sat., June 7, we were invited to the Greater Boston Senior Games at UMass Boston. We drove to St. Brendan’s where we met the organizer of our group, Eileen Collins. There were quite a few of our seniors ready to show how well we could move. We were taken by bus to UMass, so that was wonderful. When we arrived, we were welcomed by the staff of the Elderly Affairs Commission, including Emily Shea, the commissioner of elderly affairs. We were then taken to a tent outside the building for breakfast. Each of us received a small bottle of orange juice plus a muffin or a bagel. It was beautiful on that lovely Saturday morning. When we signed in, we were urged to take Tai Chi and Chair Yoga. We finally found our way to the gym. The instructor was to be Hua Quan Liu. Hubby, Carol Murphy, and I sat in the stands at first. We could see that most of the people taking Tai Chi were Asian because they were used to that type of exercise. Finally one of the participants put on appropriate music.

We immediately went to the back of the group so we could watch as the “pros” showed us how. We looked like “instant replay” as we tried to imitate the Asian women. We were okay with the arm and hand exercises. Then the Asian women began to stand on one leg as they exercised. I have trouble staying erect on two legs so I went to the stands to sit.
Hubby joined me, although he is much more sure-footed than I. When the group finished the program, we applauded them. They were wonderful.
Then we had to find our next program, Chair Yoga, outside the building. Since there were quite a few of us under the tent, we made a good-sized circle. We followed our leader’s instructions. Of course, every time I had to put my arms straight out beside me, I would hit Hubby in the chest. (We were all too close to each other.) Those exercises were fairly easy to do. I only had trouble when I had to put my right arm up beyond my shoulder. (I have a rotator-cuff problem.)  
When we finally finished our exercises, we awaited the arrival of our mayor, Marty Walsh. He was happy to see so many seniors in attendance. We were urged to be a senior volunteer. We were then invited to enjoy lunch. Hubby and I both received a small bag that contained a chicken salad sandwich, a bag of chips, plus a navel orange. We ate our sandwich and chips with a bottle of cold water, all of which were given out by the great staff of the Elderly Commission. This was a fun day, which all of us seniors thoroughly enjoyed. We thank John Gillespie of Dunkin’ Donuts at Andrew Square for our delicious refreshments.

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My hands are still a little bit cramped from peeling potatoes. We had to buy three five-pound bags of potatoes so I could get them cooked for potato salad. Cousins Margie and Janet have had their Third of July family party for many years. How they get the food ready for all of us I’ll never know. I usually cook ten pounds of potatoes for our family, but I always have my grandmother’s words in my head, “Barbara, your peelings are too thick. You’ll never have any money.” This year, I peeled 12 pounds, just in case. Of course, Hubby had to taste-test the potatoes and took a couple of potato quarters when they were cooked. Then daughter Sue came in and did the same. Neither of them became ill so I don’t believe the potatoes were poisoned.

It is Sue’s job to make the potato salad. Hubby took all the cooked potatoes over to her home with a new jar of Miracle Whip. She had to divide the potatoes in half because there were too many to mix at one time with the Miracle Whip and the spices and vinegar.  She made half a batch in the middle of the night when it was a little cooler. Then she made the second half just after dawn, before the temp began to increase. She put the potato salad in a big pot, leaving a small amount for us to have on the 4th.

About 5:15 p.m. on the 3rd, we were on our way to Houghs Neck. Susan was holding the pot of potato salad in her lap. We kept watching the sky as we drove along Quincy Shore Drive.  We were praying that the predicted rain would stay away until after the Pops’ Concert. When we arrived at the cottage, there were quite a few cars already there. Cousin Mary and her husband John, with their granddaughter Brandi, were inside the screen house. We hadn’t seen John since his 90th birthday party last summer aboard the Liberty Belle in Quincy. Cousin Bobby was there with his kids and grandkids, as were Kevin, Dara, and their boys Ryan and Adam, and Donald, Tara, and their girls Elizabeth and Christina. Cousins Larry and Michele came in. Daughter Jeanne and son-in-law David were already there. Both of the World’s Greatest Grandchildren, Brendan and Erin, had to work so they could not join us. Brendan was even asked to help clean up the Esplanade after the Fourth of July Pops Concert ended. Janet and Margie’s friend Marguerite was also there. Donald did a great deal of the cooking at the grill and then son-in-law David filled in. I know that Tara made brownies that everyone was raving about but I was trying to be good so I didn’t even taste one. Shucks! There will be more about our 3rd of July party next week.

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I loved this saying by advice columnist Ann Landers: “The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.”