Monday, August 13, 2018

The Sunday baking report

One reason I went for that bike ride yesterday was that I was relaxing after my church coffee hour baking.

It is hard to believe I have been baking for the coffee hour for two years now. Two and a half years! What is really funny is I still get a real kick out of it.

Yesterday my theme was, I was baking out of a cookbook called "Breakfast at Nine, Tea at Four." It is put out by, ahem, the Mainstay Inn in Cape May, New Jersey.

With us it is more like, Mass at Nine, Coffee Hour at Ten Fifteen. But it is all good. I made Orange Kuchen and Blueberry Breakfast Cake, both from that cookbook. They were part of a larger buffet that also included banana bread, corn bread, eggs with sausage and veggies ...

... and my trademark Jackson Pollack coffee wreath pictured way up above. This week I made a chocolate filling.

Also on the groaning board were Lizzie's brownies and yummy zucchini bread, and watermelon that our friends Bill and Margaret bought. That is life at St. Anthony of Padua's Latin Mass! Every week is like Babette's Feast. Other people bring stuff, too. We do love to eat.

Yesterday to the pleasant surprise of Team Coffee, the turnout was great even though it was a summer day and our Latin Mass Picnic was last week so you would have thought people would have had enough of each other for the time being.

We went through almost all the food!

And my friend Alenka who is from London praised in particular the Orange Kuchen. Alenka does not care for cinnamon and deplores that here in America it is everywhere. And so I had subbed in allspice for cinnamon in the recipe, all on account of her.

I was particularly proud of the eggs because they were a last minute sub for something that, uncharacteristic for me, had not worked out. I threw this dish together and prayed it would bake fast enough to get me to the church on time, as the song goes.

My prayers were answered! I was on time! Well, almost on time. The priest and the altar boys ...

... made it in just before I did, darn. I had to stand back.

But still. Such fun, you know? Sometimes at Mass it is hard for me to keep my mind on the prayers because I am thinking about the food.

I am not Mary, I find myself thinking on those occasions.

I am Martha!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

My favorite fountain

This being Sunday when we are supposed to relax and enjoy, I went on an evening bike ride.

I love biking through Buffalo's Central Park neighborhood. It reminds me of when I was a kid and used to bike around Snyder, only it is, dare I say, perhaps just a little bit nicer. Vast stretches of it are so quiet, which makes it wonderful this time of year. In August you get the crickets and the cicadas.

This evening I pedaled around aimlessly on my Huffy Harvard Limited. Did I tell the story of this Huffy? I do not think I did. I will have to. Anyway, I came to a stop at this idyllic little park where I took the picture above.

I always admire this park when I pass it. I keep meaning to stop one of these days, and sit on that bench, and attempt a painting or a sketch.

Here is the park from another angle.

I was so happy to see the fountain going. The last couple of times I pedaled past, the fountain was not going, which made me worry. This may be the tony Central Park neighborhood but it is still Buffalo. And in Buffalo when something breaks it takes a long time to fix.

So, nice to see the fountain making a splash. And to pedal through the golden streets.

Besides being a peddler's helper I am also a pedaler.

What a beautiful summer this is!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

I'm gonna wash that ceiling right outta my hair

I got tired of the popcorn ceiling in my bathroom so I took it out.

Yay me!!

I have read that no one should ever put a popcorn ceiling in the bathroom on account of it is wet in there and the wet brings the ceiling down. That seems to have been the situation in my house. That ceiling was coming down whether I wanted it to or not! There were a number of patches of no ceiling.

My sister Katie checked it out and said I could likely remove it with a putty knife. So I decided to do that.

Cost of the project: $2. One buck for a putty knife and another for a 10-pack of face masks, both from Dollar Tree. You can also get eye-protecting goggles at Dollar Tree for a buck but I had a pair already from making soap. Did you not know I made soap? There is a lot about me you do not know!

Honest, though, I never thought I could take down this ceiling. The secret is just to do it. Do not think too much about what is involved or you will just want to go lie down.

It was about 90 degrees. I was scraping away! They are right about you need the goggles and the mask. But it was tough going from time to time and I did not think I would finish.

I put a sheet over the sink to catch the ceiling bits.

Then I put the sheet over the tub.

Then things were going well enough so I decided not to give up on the part of the ceiling I had left. So the sheet moved back to the sink. In time it moved back to the tub. I could not complete each section in turn. That is just not how I roll. Several times I even gave up and did a complete clean-up, only to begin again.

It was thrilling when I realized I was winning!

It got so it was raining ceiling. Huge slabs of popcorn ceiling were coming down. At one point a slab hit the light switch and turned off the light. A lot of it also came down on my hair. When I was through I took this picture in celebration ....

... and then I had to take a shower in my cleaned-up tub.

Ergo you may take my headline literally. I'm gonna wash this ceiling right out of my hair! That is what I sang in the shower.

Next comes the task of painting the bathroom. I think I will do the kind of sage green it was so many years ago. The ceiling was the same color and I will do that too.

At the top of the post is a picture of the ceiling as it is now, sans popcorn. It is cracked but kind of pretty, you know? Like something you would see in an ancient building in Venice, along with a plaque saying that Wagner wrote "Tristan and Isolde" here, or Leonard Pennario stayed here.

Well, OK, you have to use your imagination. I do!

But as I said, I never imagined I could do this. And now as a woman I feel very proud.

I have shattered the popcorn ceiling!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Farm girl

Remember my CSA, Porter Farms?

I am back with them!

Quietly P.F. and I have amassed quite a history. I seem to remember they got annoyed with me once years ago when I complained in the Buzz column that they gave us too much bad news. I complained on this web site too as I recollect. I do like to complain, something that Leonard Pennario and I had in common.

But I love Porter Farms and they know it. I joined it again last year because they were delivering to The Buffalo News. The bags came in Thursday and it was a ton of fun. The newsroom would turn into an Amish market as produce was laid out on desks and coworkers swapped with each other or split shares. Kohlrabi would be held up and puzzled over. People were going around carrying huge bags of greens.

This summer, since I took the buyout at the paper, I get my bag a few blocks away from my house. I am always in a hurry to go get it, always tripping over Howard and the cat.

Then I come home and lay the contents of the bag out on tables and counters. Sometimes I take pictures of it, i.e. the picture above. Occasionally I paint pictures of it. Just today I found a half-done painting attempt and I remembered why I had not finished it. Dinner time arrived and I had to clear all the farm vegetables off the table.

Another thing that makes the farm fun for me is, I do not want to know in advance what is in the bag. They send me emails and I am careful not to open them.

I insist on being surprised!

I was like that last year, too. Ha, ha! Three cheers for the farm that puts up with me.

I guess between that and the aversion to bad news, I am not a CSA's ideal customer.

But I am a faithful one!

Monday, July 23, 2018

The peddler's helper

It is official! I have been licensed by the City of Buffalo. I am now a Licensed Downtown Peddler's Helper.

That is the greatest! It is much cooler than being a Peddler, say I. My great-great-great grandfather, Meinrad Kunz, he was a peddler. I know because I found him once in the City Directory in the 1850s. But I am a Peddler's Helper.

Above is a picture of me helping at the City of Buffalo Department of Coffee and Donuts, our donut booth downtown. It is just a once-a-week thing so it is not as if it takes up all my time. The time it does take, I make that count. You can tell by looking at the picture that I am peddling as fast as I can!

Here is my license.

Because I can just tell that there are people who think I am making this up.

Now here is a funny donut story. Last time I checked in, it was Leonard Pennario's birthday. I had in mind that it would be a great day to resume this Web log, which had kind of hit the skids on account of my breakneck-pace work schedule. I was going to write about how the Pennario project was coming along, what a high priority it is for me right now, and celebrate his birthday that way.

Instead I celebrated his birthday with donuts, doh.

Oh well. Who knows, the donuts might help pay the bills while I am finishing the book.

Besides, Pennario liked his sweet treats.

He would have approved!

Monday, July 9, 2018

But first, donuts

Howard is making donuts. That is a picture of them up above, in progress.

We sold donuts the other day at our downtown booth. The spotlighted donut is, as seen in the picture, the "1901." It is a tribute to the Pan-American Exposition, held in Buffalo in 1901, where donuts such as ours, such as Howard's I mean, would have been in the offing.

The donuts are hearty. They could be a meal. I cannot allow them in the house, is all I can say. They are crunchy on the outside and dense and delicious on the inside.

A tantalizing closeup:

Here I am selling them at the booth. This is a celebrity shot with the poet Joe Dinki.

Because parking was impossible Howard and I took the train. He took this picture of me.

I am having fun living the bohemian life, I will tell you that.

Howard and I were selling donuts and Freezies on Saturday and in a rare lull, these two girls came up to me, two teenagers, and they said, "You are smiling so happily we thought you were smiling for a picture."

I said: "I am happy here in the donut booth."

We do not sell donuts every day so that leaves me time for my serious work. The folks at St. Anthony's where Leonard Pennario was baptized are pressuring me to get the book about him done and I have that on track for this year.

But first, donuts. 

He would approve.

Friday, June 22, 2018


"For there is nothing so sweet as his peace when at rest."

That is a line I love from "My Cat Jeoffry."

Above is My Cat Jeoffry asleep on an armchair in the living room. I have these two beautiful red armchairs I was not appreciating on his account. One was upstairs well protected from Jeoffry by piles of stuff. Another, not matching the first but similar, was downstairs, but it was covered by an old quilt so Jeoffry would not claw it.

Finally a few weeks ago I said, I will bring these chairs out into the light.

Probably they will have a short lifespan but meanwhile I may as well enjoy them!

I have reason to be concerned because very early on after we got Jeoffry, we had to bring an armchair out to the curb. He had absolutely gutted it. Such was the damage that the garbage men stopped in their duties and just laughed openly. I observed them.

They understood: A cat lives here!

So far, though, the armchairs do not seem to have aroused the obsession in Jeoffry that the earlier chair did. He claws them now and then but not with any real commitment.

He does like to sleep on the one chair.

"For there is nothing so sweet as his peace when at rest."

Let us hope he remains at rest!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Mausoleum of mystery

Today is the longest day of the year so I have time to write.

Make hay while the sun shines!

I recently accepted a buyout from The Buffalo News and no longer work there. But it is still tough to find extra minutes in the day. I am still trying to get a lot done. My project on Leonard Pennario, I have written and revised and written and revised for ten years, yikes, and now it is time to pull it together and get something out. And there is lots of other stuff on the side.

There is cooking. You gotta eat! There is house-related work. My house has long been falling down around my ears. There is ex (my phys ed teacher brother's slang for exercise).

That is where Forest Lawn comes in. When I do not go to the gym I like to walk and sketch in Forest Lawn.

You may recall the Monument of Mystery.

Today we come to the Mausoleum of Mystery!

Well, there are two that I have found. This is one. That is it pictured above.

It is being swallowed up by the earth!

The dead person is supposed to be buried. The building itself is not supposed to be buried. Well, that is how things normally go. This mausoleum is going its own way.

Whose is it? That is the mystery.

I see no name.

I have walked around and around it.

The deer ....

... want to know too what is the deal.

The mysteries in Forest Lawn are many. From my Catholic perspective the entire place is weird. In Catholic cemeteries you do not find sculptures of the deceased. You do not have the same emphasis on earthly achievements. You do not find monuments to things like Aspiration.

On the other hand you do not find all the interesting things to draw that you find at Forest Lawn. That is what brings me there. That and the quiet. It is the only place in the city you can actually hear the birds. You can think thoughts without having to hear passers-by swearing and yelling things like "Oh my God your butt is hanging out!"

Sorry, it has been too long since I alluded to that! That was one of the first things I wrote about.

I have missed this Weblog. I am going to write in it daily now. Starting today, the first day of summer. A fine time to write about a mausoleum of mystery.

I will continue to ruminate on that.

I will wonder as I wander!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Monument of mystery

The other day in Forest Lawn, getting in my 10,000 steps, I found this monument that looked like a big, corrugated bell.

What was it??

Nobody's name was on it.

I walked around the other side to make sure.

Then I studied it from yet another side.

It was like this blank bell!

What in the world??

Forest Lawn is weird like that. You do find strange things. It is not like the Catholic cemeteries I knew growing up, such as the United German and French, and Mount Calvary. You find very strange things at Forest Lawn.

It does make it great to draw, I will tell you that. And you find many very moving things, like a grave I found of a gentleman identified as A Soldier Of The Revolution. A Soldier of the Revolution!! I deeply admire anyone who fought in the Revolutionary War. I said a prayer for that soldier, I will tell you that right now.

But you do run into things like this bell.

Or whatever it is.

Any ideas?

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Another day, another drawing

Yesterday I went back to the Lawn! That is how I think of Forest Lawn Cemetery because I am having such a great time drawing things here.

I have had a couple of days off from work so I am able to do this in addition to other work that needs to be done. Yesterday I drew an angel from a memorial near Mirror Lake. It would be hard to top that angel because that statue is just so graceful, so lovely.

However. Today there I am, driving very slowly down the path, Mozart on the car stereo, the sun shining, possibilities limitless, scanning the statues. And as if across a crowded room, I saw him.

Philip Bachert!

I knew instinctively, he was The One.

Of course I did not know his name. I found that out only when I approached the statue. It read: "Philip Bachert, 1840-1915. Wiedrich's Battery. 1st N.Y.L. Art. 1861-1865. G.A.R."

Before I began to draw I ate some lunch I had brought and I studied the statue. Then I got up and addressed Mr. Bachert. I thanked him for his service and then said that I hoped he would not mind if I drew him.

Is that statue amazing or what?

When I went home I looked everything up. Wiedrich's Battery was a Civil War outfit run by Michael Wiedrich, who came from Alsace-Lorraine where my mother's family came from, or Elsass as I have seen it spelled in German Catholic cemeteries. The whole battery was made up of German immigrants from Buffalo.

My friend at work Scott Scanlon even did a story about Wiedrich's Battery and what monsters they were on the battlefield of Gettysburg and Bull Run.

When I was leaving, I happened to see another Civil War monument. This other soldier fought in Mozart's Regiment.

Who knew there was a Mozart's Regiment in the Civil War?

The bad news: You have to go fight in the Civil War.

The good news: You get to be in Mozart's Regiment!

I will have to find out what is with that.

That will have to be a story for another day!