Well, I have finally returned from my long sojourn down South, White Plains, N.Y., where, I assure you, I shoveled more snow than you did here. Is it that my writing lacks clarity, my friend Chuck lacks reading comprehension, or his wife, Carolyn, needs her hearing checked? This wonderful couple spent many blissful years on Martha’s Vineyard, and I have kept in close touch with the Redingtons. Chuck reads my column, whether he is in Florida or Longmeadow, Mass. He told Carolyn of my recent adventures “hanging out with the Irish at Dunne’s Pub in my Old Country.” Carolyn immediately left a message on my home answering machine that she was so glad I finally got to Ireland and it is such a beautiful place. I laughed and called and set them straight. But, if you can’t get to Ireland, the closest you’ll come is Dunne’s Pub in White Plains. A hearty shout out to Goldie, Barbara, Larissa, Edmund, Sean, James, Phil and all my friends there.

Special mention to the Irish Ambassador, Liam Murphy.

I was on the road Saturday and so missed the Chili Contest. Lorraine Clark reports it was very successful and very crowded. First place in the professional category went to West Falmouth Market’s Insanity Chili. Amateur first place was earned by Dave Mutti and Bonnie Bearse’s Sure Bet Chili. There were some special categories, and I must mention my dear friend, Steve Jordan, who came in first in hottest chili, as well as best presentation, an accolade he shared with Brian Athearn’s Hillbilly Chili. If you were unable to attend, as I was, the Red Stocking elves work all year long. Send your contribution to Red Stocking c/o Barbara Silvia, P.O.Box 74, Vineyard Haven, or to Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank, P.O. Box 668, Vineyard Haven. Remember, this is for Island children.

The Tisbury Senior Center is pleased to announce that after the successfully informative 101 presentation, they will host another class, Stock Market 102. We all need to study the market and economy in more depth, especially after the recent baths we unwillingly took. The class is free on Monday, Feb. 2 at 10 a.m. Bring your notebooks and questions.

Barbara Bick must be the most energetic senior I know. Join her at the Vineyard Haven library on Wednesday, Feb. 4 at 3 p.m. when she will speak about her new book, Walking the Precipice: Witness to the Rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan. In 1990, activist and grandmother Barbara travelled with a women’s delegation to Afghanistan for what she mistakenly thought would be her last great adventure. Instead, while the Mujahideen shelled Kabul, Barbara forged deep friendships with her Afghan hosts. In the ensuing years, she watched with horror as the Taliban took over the country and instituted its fiercely anti–woman policies. Barbara also returned in 2001 and 2004. Join me at the library to hear what this woman with nerves of steel has to teach us.

Not one of us has taken young children to the beach and not worried about safety. Once again, the Mansion House is underwriting the American Red Cross Swimming and Water Safety program at their facility under the direction of Jennifer Fragosa. Sixteen of our best Island teens will be trained as lifeguards and certified, not only as guards, but with the ability to teach the course. From our town Leif Iversen, Madeleine Penicaud and Larissa Cacique are dedicated to the 30-hour program. Call 508-693-2200, extension 123, for aquatics director Jennifer if you have any questions.

Anniversary bouquets go out today to John and Sarah Lolley.

The birthday bandwagon pulls along Evelyn DeLoach, Elisha Smith, Sasha Robinson White and Lisa Nichols today. Tomorrow is a party for Jarrett Campbell, Kelly McElhinney and Jennifer Roman. Feb. 1 is claimed by Lynn Goodwin Kuhn. Feb. 2 honors James Ralston, Alena Shisko, Brian Robinson, Lucia Ponte and Rex Henry Grant. Feb. 3 belongs to Jeffrey Rancourt and Joan Jannace. Feb. 4 is shared by Roni DeLuz and Josh Flanders. And on Feb. 5 Kelsey Smith and Raleigh Hadley Russell take the cake. Many happy returns.