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Midwinter's Tale

“In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty winds made moan.
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone.”
by Christina Rossetti

How bleak it is this time of year. Hubby and I have tried to see if there are any crocuses emerging but there is too much snow. God bless our neighbors for helping us with shoveling: Jim, Maureen, Janie, our young neighbor Jon, and even his Dad. We really appreciate their assistance. Hubby tries to keep up with the snow on the sidewalk, which he did last Friday into Saturday. He made a trip to Home Depot and bought salt and sand. Then he saw more salt in Kmart and bought a bag there. On Daughter Sue’s sidewalk, when the temps are about freezing, the snow melts and then refreezes as ice when the sun goes down. Hubby and Sue check the sidewalk each evening and put down more salt where the little rivers of water are icing up.

Last Friday, I heard a strange noise in the kitchen. It was water from the icicles on the roof’s gutter leaking down and hitting the kitchen window. It was a scary sound. For this long duration of cold weather, we have kept open the doors under the kitchen sink and under the downstairs bathroom’s sink so that the pipes will get additional heat. The locking mechanism on the sink’s door keeps catching the pocket of my housecoat. Some day, I will pull the pocket so hard, I am sure it will tear. Hubby has raised the temp on the blower fan in the back cellar. We are pretty sure that the pipes coming into the house won’t freeze.

By the way, feel sorry for the people who lived in Boston in the late 1800s. The temp in Boston on Feb. 7, 1875, dipped to five below zero. Our outdoor cat Louie is doing well. Hubby cut a door hole in a tomato box, with a cover. He lined the box with old towels and the cat has been sleeping each night in the box. During the day, if it is sunny, he finds that spot on the porch and suns himself. When I pat him, his fur is warmed from the sun. Hubby keeps him well fed in the cold temps.

I was sorry to read of the death of actor Ralph Waite at age 85. Ralph played the father (John Walton) in the “Waltons” series. I really didn’t get a chance to see him in those shows, probably because I was busy with kids in those years. I understand that Ralph also played a priest in the soap opera “Days of Our Lives.” I watched that soap faithfully for at least 25 years but I stopped when I was recovering from my last knee-replacement surgery at the Bostonian. I never saw him as the priest. When I really enjoyed Ralph on TV was when he played Jethro’s father, Jackson Gibbs, on “NCIS.” I will miss him. I wonder if the series will write his death into the story line or will they have another actor take his role.

All last week, we had our ears glued to WBZ to listen to the weather broadcasts. We had been invited to the Mayor’s Valentine’s Day party at the Irish Social Club in West Roxbury. When the radio announced that the Boston schools would be open on Friday, we thought that the party would probably be held. We were up early on Friday and Hubby dropped Eileen Burke and me off at Keystone, where we were to pick up the bus to the Social Club. Then he picked up Ken and Mary Bruynell so they wouldn’t have to walk with all the snow. We were welcomed by our friends Eileen Collins, Caroline Innello, and Marilyn Ferrara. Carol Murphy and Marie Schallmo then joined us. Marie looked so cute and “Valentiney” with the pink rosette in her hair. By the time the bus came to pick us up, we had a few more people: Evie Dunne, Gwen Adams, and Linda Flaherty. Our bus driver, with the pretty pink shirt, drove to the CVS parking lot right near St. Gregory’s Church. We picked up Peg Zaremski, her sister Kathryn, Mary Carney, and Ed and Fran Proctor. We also were joined by our good friends Rita (McKinnon) Gillespie, Gemma Mariano, and Dotty Orlando. The bus driver also drove to a senior building in South Boston but no one came out to join us.

The drive to West Roxbury was quite easy at 10 a.m. We were greeted by Boston’s Senior employees, including some of our favorites, Mary Beth Kelly and Jane Boyer. Eileen Collins saw that a table on the “mezzanine” floor at the club was empty so we moved to that area and had wonderful seats. The dee jay was terrific as he had many of the seniors out on the floor dancing. We even had a “conga line” come up on our mezzanine floor as they danced throughout the building.

The next thing we knew, employees of the Red Sox came in with hooded items. When they took off the hoods, we were delighted to see that they had brought all three of the team’s 21st-century World Series’ trophies to our party. We hurried up to the table that was holding the trophies and had our photos taken. Eileen Collins and Carol Murphy even took photos of us, and Hubby did the same for them. What a thrill to be standing behind the trophies! Some of the Red Sox personnel were there passing out mini baseballs carrying the name Jet Blue Park, for the new Red Sox spring training park in Fort Myers, FL. We loved getting them. In addition to our small baseball, we received a Red Sox bracelet plus a large brochure with many highlight photos of the 2013 Sox season. (The only photo that was missing was the one of the famous Bullpen Police Officer, my cousin Stephen.)

We were then invited over to a horseshoe-shaped arch made of roses that was set up in a corner of the large room as a place where people could have their photos taken. We could see our friend Eileen O’Connor, the Senior Services’ official photographer, taking photos of many of the seniors attending the party. She even came to our table and particularly sought out Ken and Mary Bruynell to take their pictures. We were happy to chat with her for a few minutes.

Then it was time for the food. We were given a side of tossed salad, along with white and wheat rolls with butter. Senior Service personnel came around with bottles of cold water. Then the staff came out with the luncheon. On each plate were a good-sized piece of grilled chicken, Spanish rise, and buttered corn. For dessert each person was given a piece of white cake with white frosting. Some people were even a little jealous because Hubby’s piece of cake was the end piece, with frosting on both outside edges. After we had eaten, Carol Murphy, who had taken Hubby and my photos with the three trophies, jokingly threatened that she would send the photo into the Midtown Journal. We also took photos with the beautiful huge balloons that were attached to the tables. We had the cutest three-foot-high pink and white poodle balloon. When Hubby took my photo with the balloon, I looked like I was eating the poodle’s tail. That should make a funny picture. Carol Murphy loved the three-foot-high brown teddy bear, with the big red bow and a heart with two kisses and hugs symbols (XOXO) on it. It was attached to an empty table. Hubby took Carol’s photo with the teddy bear.

Mayor Marty Walsh came in and promised that all the events that the seniors had before would continue to be held, adding that there will be additional events. We all cheered him loudly. As Marty was leaving, he waved to all the seniors, then gave a special wave toward those from Keystone as he left the club.

Before the end of the day, two young girls came around to see if any of the seniors would like to participate in a money raffle. We all offered to buy six tickets for $5. I kidded the girls and asked them to be sure to mix up the tickets very well because we were one of the first tables to buy the tickets so we’d be on the bottom. I guess they did mix them up because I was the first winner to be picked. I won $25. I was amazed because I seldom win anything. As we boarded our bus back to Keystone, with the help of Mike McColgan, we chatted with each other and said what a lovely party this was. We thank the Mayor and the Senior Service employees for such a nice time.

Here is a thought, by Emilie Robbins, that made me smile: “It’s the little things in life that bother us. You can sit on a mountain but not on a tack.”