Greetings dear friends and faithful readers and welcome back to the Front Porch for our first visit of March 2019!

Ah yes, March roared in like a lion and, today, as I write, the gale winds are howling and the wintry mix is swirling around. But good news, there are just 9 days 'til spring. The Spring Equinox arrives on March 20 at 5:58 p.m. So, soon, warmer weather will arrive.

As regular readers of this column are aware, I took a trip out west last week with my husband, sons and grandsons. We traveled to Arizona and visited the majestic Grand Canyon. What a sight! What an experience! Our itinerary was so tight we didn't get a chance to visit with East Coasters living in the desert, but now I know why Joe and Carol Potter enjoy spending their winters in the warm, dry climate.

I did have a few texts with the lovely Maria Tedone, a former Sun colleague, who lives just outside Phoenix, as does Bob Cardosa, another former colleague. Speaking of Sun alums, I was heartbroken to learn of the passing of Judy Silver, the sweet and gentle woman who greeted customers for years at the old Sun building on Main Street. Judy was a talented painter and sharp-eyed antique-er too. Rest in peace, dear friend.

I'm also sad to learn the news about former Westerly High School music teacher Dave DeAngelis. As his friends are aware, Mr. D. has been struggling with kidney problems since 2012 when he was diagnosed with stage 4 renal failure. Although he received a kidney in 2014, thanks to some grateful former students who donated their dad's kidney, complications arose, and he is once again in need of a kidney transplant. Dave's pal Bob Chiaradio Jr., who is helping get the word out, spoke of the situation on Sal Murano's WBLQ Sports Report and called the newsroom and asked us to help spread the word. Bob said people interested in learning more can call him or the R.I. Hospital Division of Organ Transplation, 401-444-3284, for more information.

"That's what we do in Westerly," Bob told me, "we help each other." Amen.

What treat to get a phone call from the fabulous Ray Castagna the other day who called to tell a touching small world Westerly tale. Ray, who is recovering from a stroke (beautifully, I might add) at a rehabilitation center in Naples, Fla., knew that the occupational therapist who arrived in his room looked familiar. After he chatted with her a bit, he realized that she was Kristen Vance, the granddaughter of his friend, the late Joe Marino. Ray then put Kristen on the phone who told me when she saw the name "Castagna" on the list of patients, she wondered if it could be the same Castagna she knew years ago.

When she realized it was, she said, "I cried."

"Ray was such a great friend to my grandfather," she added. Kristen said she particularly remembers her grandfather and Ray celebrating St. Joseph's Day together. "It's like having a little of my Grampy here," she said. Get well soon, Ray!

Speaking of St. Joseph's Day, it's next week just two days after St. Patrick's Day. Time again for Irish Soda Bread and zeppoles! Here's hoping I'll find some gluten-free versions!

Ciao bella!

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