Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Close Encounter With a Big Bird


This morning I was walking around the lake in Delaware Park and I saw the coolest looking bird!

It was standing on the bank looking into the water. The bird was snowy white and at first I thought it was a swan. It had this long neck. But the neck was too thin to be a swan's. When the bird turned at certain angle the neck almost disappeared.

Your instinct is to take a picture and I tried that. But I am a zero with a camera. I do not even how to zoom in, rendering most of my efforts to photograph birds useless.

I got too close to the bird in my efforts to get a picture of him, and he took off. That was when I knew he was not a swan! He had these amazing wings. He flew down a little distance and landed on the cement steps by the lake next to the Marcie Casino. And he took up his post again, gazing into the water.

He must be watching for fish, I realized. From time to time he walked this way and that. He had long legs and big claws for feet and he walked with dignity but kind of comically, bending his knees, taking mincing steps. I could not take my eyes off him. It was weird because everyone else who was passing was lost in headphones and smartphones and here was this big bird and nobody but me noticed it.

That was when I thought: I can draw him! That was a better way to get down what he looked like. I had this tiny sketchbook, only about 4 x 6, and one pen. But you know what, in a pinch, you are set.

So I sat down and turned out a number of quick sketches. I felt like Modigliani, drawing this bird. Modigliani loved drawing girls with long necks. This bird had the longest and thinnest neck I had ever seen. What an example of God's imagination.

After a few minutes the bird took off and flew across the lake. I went and stood on the bridge where I had a good view of him and I sketched him a few more times.

While I was there a woman showed up with a camera. Talking to strangers in the best Buffalo tradition, I said, "There's this cool bird down there."

It ended up she was well aware, and that was why she was there with her camera.  She was a bird nerd!

That is another thing I love about Buffalo. When you have a question, the right person usually shows up ready to give you an answer.

She told me the bird was a Great White Heron!

"When it flies, it looks like a pteradactyl," she said. I just looked up the spelling and I think that is it. "It is almost like a dinosaur."

I liked just watching the heron standing there holding its head high. That was my favorite pose. That long neck! 

The sketch at the top of the page, that is one of this morning's heron sketches that I turned into a watercolor. I also was happy with the little sketch on the right. It was fun when I got home to look at all these drawings and think: This is what I saw.

I actually did a dozen or so quick drawings of this heron. You never know when you will see one of these birds again!

All of a sudden I realize I have drawn a few birds and other creatures. I never really thought of it being my line of work, however I have drawn several, when they presented themselves. I did a painting of two Canada geese that I am proud of. Perhaps I should post it.

But not now!

The Great White Heron should not have to share the spotlight!


Sunday, August 15, 2021

Let it Roll Like a Big Wheel


Howard has gone into the Web log and added pictures! Last night he sneaked in and I see he put up pictures of himself and me and Steve Cichon and Nick Otto.

Easy for him! He is always so photogenic. The photo above, I took it the first or second time Lounge Academy was back in session after the disruptions of the last year. Howard looks dapper even with a mask around his chin!

I am going to have to get in the habit of taking pictures more often. For instance we have none of the distinguished journalist Jim Corbran who also joined us last night, nor do we have any of Ryan Lysarz, the president of WBIG-TV. All right, I am done name dropping for now.

Well, not quite. Looking at yesterday's comment section I am honored to see that we may expect a visit from the Sensibly Shod Commoner -- yes, the influential food blogger.

Is that great or what??

We are on a roll!

As the great blues singer Big Joe Turner would put it: Let it roll like a big wheel, in a Georgia cotton field!

 

That is a recording I love!

We are all about show business. We are still talking about Friday, and here it is Sunday.

Speaking of which, I sang today. Howard is not the only singer in the family! I went to church this morning and this being the Feast of the Assumption I sang "Hail Holy Queen."

Don't laugh. That is a demanding number, I will tell you that.

It has a range of well over an octave and I had to nail every note because the soprano, Philomena, was singing a descant at the end. As I was singing, I was thinking: The hymnals always say this is a German melody. Are they sure it is not Irish?

You know the Irish. They come up with these song to show off how daring you can be with your voice. They originally came up with the melody to "The Star-Spangled Banner." The purpose of the original song was to show off your chops at the corner pub, preferably while standing on top of a table. That is what one of the Irish Tenors told me. Anthony Kearns if memory serves me. Well, he did not say the part about standing on top of a table. But it is easy to fill out the scene.

Anyway. That was what it is like singing "Hail, Holy Queen." Luckily, I had my training watching Howard and his professional singing approach.

Oh look! Here is an Episcopal congregation singing "Hail Holy Queen." 

I love when Protestants start singing Catholic hymns. Especially in Latin, which, at the end of "Hail Holy Queen" you have to soar with that "Salve, salve, salve Regina!


See, this is how you go down the rabbit hole. I started out with Lounge Academy, went on to Big Joe Turner and here we are at "Hail Holy Queen," sung by Episcopalians, at that.

What can I say, this is how we roll.

Like a big wheel!


Saturday, August 14, 2021

The People You Meet At Lounge Academy


Being on Keto means that at Lounge Academy I no longer drink wine.

The bartenders at the Statler Lobby Bar who are wonderful make me a vodka and soda. I did not know how to describe what I wanted because I did not know what I wanted. But they assessed the situation and they came up with this lovely summery lemon vodka soda. It comes with a lot of ice and I let the ice melt and I end up with this drink I can sip on forever. Kind of watery once the ice melts, but tasty.

There is this bottle of Gato Negro sitting around downstairs and it looks at me as if I am cheating on it. Every day I tell myself if I want, I can open it with dinner and measure out five ounces. But I would just rather skip it, you know?

If you are drinking wine how in the world do you stick with five ounces?

Five ounces is nothing! Nobody in the world drinks only five ounces!

And so I sip that vodka soda. And the evening goes by too fast, I have to say that.

Last night we had a crowd that was a little smaller than normal. Howard and I figured out why. It was because our friend Dave Corbett was having a party tonight and he had invited all the Lounge Cadets. Many people cannot go out two nights in a row and so they gave us the slip and were saving themselves for Saturday.

The exception was our friend Brenda who was missing because she was at her reunion at Hamburg High School. That was a valid excuse.

When God closes a door, He opens a window, and so we got to see several people who we never get to see. Our friend Deborah Lynn Williams was sitting next to Gary at the bar when I walked in. Our friend Angela was also in attendance. Angela is a dancer and is the most toned person in the world. I will have to ask her what exercises she does.

And... and ... we had a couple of bona fide celebrities. Steve Cichon, the author and historian who ran for County Clerk a few years ago. And I got to discuss with him some of the historic buildings in our Parkside area that I have been sketching on my nightly bike rides.
 
From left to right: Nick Otto, Steve Cichon, and Howard Goldman.

And with Steve was Nick Otto. He is the son of radio talk show host John Otto! John Otto passed away several years ago and no one has ever stopped missing him. I have written about John Otto before.

My brother George used to call John Otto's show! John Otto called him "George from Cleve Hill." If you called John Otto you would get a medieval name like that, and it would be yours.

Mary and Nick Otto at Steve Cichon Park.

Nick Otto is fascinating. He is a Mayflower descendant for one thing.

I said, "Nick, which Mayflower founding father are you descended from?"

He said: "William Bradford."

Of course!! Who else?

That is Mr. Bradford at the top of this post. It feels now as if he is family. Nick also told us stories of growing up in an apartment house in North Buffalo where there was a Mr. Weezy who used to appear in the basement. Mr. Weezy never threatened him or did anything, but he spooked Nick out. Nick was about 6 at the time.

That is part of the fun of Lounge Academy, you know? Howard goes on playing and singing the standards, and we listen, and in between numbers we can pass hours talking of this and that. Things like William Bradford and Mr. Weezy.

Lots of excitement, with my vodka soda!
 

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Cats Without Vanity


Cats can be vain. They are famous for that. There was one time when My Cat Jeoffry got upset when he was jumping from the mantel and stumbled and landed awkwardly. He could not stand that I was laughing at him so he took a swipe at me.

I said, "Don't take it out on me that you're a klutz!"

I still laugh about that!

However there are times when cats are without vanity.

That is when they are asleep!

Fig. A is Jeoffry up above. I took that picture today. It was hot and Jeoffry stretches out when it is hot in all kinds of odd and unflattering poses. He also enjoys sleeping in the shade of furniture.

Here is a closeup of his face.


Another shot.


And there is this from the other day. I sent this to Howard and he gave it a giant thumbs up.


How could you not give that a thumbs up?

So cute.

No vanity!!


Monday, July 12, 2021

Delaware Park in the Dark


Today I went out for my bike ride as usual -- but, NOT as usual, I had trouble finding something to draw.

Perhaps it was that I was having too much fun bike riding. It is a warm night and it felt good to ride and feel the breeze. I also went in a different direction from my usual ride toward Canisius College and Medaille. I drifted toward the old Pierce Arrow plant on Elmwood.

There is an awe-inspiring view of the Pierce-Arrow plant that can be had from the Tapestry School parking lot. The Tapestry School itself is nothing to speak of because it has this terrible new facade, although never say never. Anyway, I loved this view from the back parking lot, and I have drawn it before. However that lot was too deserted. 

There is a balance that must be struck when you draw, particularly if you are a woman. You do not want it to be too deserted. However you do not necessarily want it crowded either! These are things I must weigh as I ride around.

I had in mind drawing the History Museum, perhaps the back side of it. However all these fire engines went roaring past me and it turned out that was where they were heading. My luck, you know? All these neighbors standing around and firemen walking around talking to people. No worries because nothing looked as if it was burning, but there goes that idea.

The clock struck 8:45. I had forgotten my phone so I was telling time the medieval way, from chimes. I decided to head in the direction of home. While I was on my way there I found, finally, a view I liked. It was of the Marcy Casino.

I have drawn the Marcy Casino in Delaware Park on a number of occasions. I put one of those sketches at the top of this post. That was drawn in the daytime. There are these benches you can sit on that give you a nice view.

Tonight I was across the lake. It was as different as, well, as night and day!

The place was strung with white lights and everything was reflected in the lake. If you saw this on vacation you would take pictures and never stop telling your friends about it. It was that beautiful.

Not only that but in front of it and around it, people were creating their own entertainment. A crowd had assembled and Latin music was blaring. Jugglers were juggling torches. Folks were hula hooping with lighted hula hoops. Everyone was just milling around and I am imagining some people were dancing, although from across the lake I could not see that for certain.

There is no Shakespeare in the Park this year and so we must create our own entertainment. The fire jugglers, that was something you would see in the Renaissance. Fire jugglers are not uncommon at the Marcy Casino but tonight they were especially welcome.

Anyway -- I drew a picture but I must work it over to get that night feel and try to get in more of what I remember.

I will work on it and post it!

Sunday, July 11, 2021

The view from Vue


My nightly drawing routine is really working! All of a sudden I have all these drawings and I am way behind discussing them.

On Friday I did not get out on my bike -- but I did get out. And yes, in answer to the obvious question, I did remember it was Leonard Pennario's birthday, July 9. I have been working hard on that book, in between doing my drawings. After a number of years it is coming together.

Back to Friday. I toted a sketchbook because I thought, I have to get in a sketch somewhere. And I did! I sketched the view from Vue, the bar at the top of the Curtiss Hotel.

That is a snapshot at left of me working on my composition. This one tangle of buildings appealed to me because it included the Rand Building, with its mighty, magnificent antenna. I planned the picture a little more carefully than I usually do because I wanted to make sure I could fit that antenna on the page in all its glory.

As I drew I sipped a vodka and soda -- my go-to Keto drink -- and I thought back on the one time I was lucky enough to get a temp job in the Rand Building. And up at the top, too! It was for an engineering place called Hatch and Associates. Their secretary was on maternity leave and I took her place. I was typing engineers' papers.

I enjoyed that temp job. There were many I did not enjoy but I liked that one. There was one engineer from South Africa that I remember the other secretaries were afraid of because he was grumpy and fussy. I decided to make that engineer love me and sure enough, he did. While I was there I was the only one who typed his papers.

Everyone should temp at least once in his or her life. There is no experience like it, becoming part of an office for this limited little time. You get to be like Mary Poppins, gone when the wind changes. Poof. Goodbye, Mary! You must get someone else to type your papers now, fussy South African engineer! I think his name was Paul. Everything is stocked away in my head somewhere.

I do remember the view was beautiful from the top of the Rand Building. I wish I had been drawing back then, is all I can think.

Imagine the souvenirs I would have!



Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Drawing Every Night

 


Every night I go out and draw something. Typically I get on my old made-in-USA Huffy Harvard Limited and just start pedaling aimlessly and see what I find.

You cannot overthink it or else you will not do it at all. That is what I have learned!

These days with school being out, I am doing a lot of aimless pedaling around the Canisius College and Medaille campuses. I draw this and that, great buildings and ridiculous buildings. Colleges are fascinating, you know? They are often a blend of beautiful old architecture and modern stuff.

Last night I drew the picture up above, of the old St. Vincent de Paul Church on the Canisius campus. It is now the Montante Center although I did not put the banners on the picture. I was afraid they would clutter it up too much.

There was a fountain handy across the street where I could sit.


For years, St. Vincent de Paul was where the city's only Latin Mass was held. My father tried to drag me once when I was a teenager. I mean, he did drag me. I do remember that. But I was oblivious.

As I was telling a friend, my dad certainly got the last laugh!

From looking in Leonard Pennario's diaries I saw that whenever he was in town giving a concert, he would go to Mass at St. Vincent de Paul, no doubt for the Latin Mass. Perhaps he was there when I was sitting there sulking! He was probably next to me in the pew. Who knows?

That is a word you cannot use too often, pew.

Anyway, a lot to think about, as I drew.

There always is!


Thursday, July 1, 2021

My three weeks on the Keto diet

 


I have been more or less on the keto diet for the last few weeks. I think I could be in, ahem, ketosis because I have kept my carbs super low and I do not get hungry much.

Do not worry, I still eat! I do not have to be hungry to eat.

This brings me however to my difficulties with this diet. You hear so many different things. I follow a few different people on YouTube and I hear different things.

Somebody said, "Do not eat if you are not hungry!"

And so usually I do not bother with breakfast because I am not hungry. However you do want to eat sooner or later, you know? I understand you are burning your own fat but what about all the nutrients you get from a balanced diet?

Speaking of burning your own fat.. Do you not burn your own fat on any diet? When your waist gets slimmer and your belly disappears that fat is going somewhere. Where does it go if you do not burn it? Obviously you do not need to be in ketosis to burn off your fat. It must mean you burn it more efficiently. But still.

Another thing. Some people say that on keto, your diet should be largely fat. Pardon the expression, largely fat. I mean they say it should be 75 or 80 percent.

But then someone else says you can forget about that and just keep your carbs low. You can eat chicken breast and pork tenderloin, very lean meats, and that's fine, you can eat more of them.

If you are eating lean meats and low carbs now we are getting into South Beach Diet territory. There is nothing new here. I like these lean meats. I do not have a problem with them. But does it make a difference with the keto diet if you lower the percentage of fat you are consuming?

It is impossible to find the answer to these questions. It cannot be done.

Here is my experience so far. I have lost 10 pounds.

Wow, you say. That is great! However.

Those pounds came off literally overnight. I mean boom, in one day I lost 10 pounds. That was about three weeks ago.

I was all excited. I thought: Keto is great, I thought. Problem solved! My body has turned into a fat burning machine and it burns up 10 pounds a week. Next week I can take off 10 more, then the next week 10 more, and then I am done. On account of I want to be 130 pounds.

But since then that scale has not moved!

I have not gained back the 10 pounds, is the important thing. However I cannot budge that needle one bit. It sits there, at 150!

Isn't it weird how scales always get stuck at round numbers?

I am not even drinking wine! And I have ramped up the exercise. Nothing extreme, I just get out every day for both a walk and a bike ride. I even count my calories and I log them on LoseIt.

I am starting to think this is a crock. I have lost weight before, not doing this keto diet. I wonder if maybe the keto diet is only good if you need to lose at least 100 pounds. I only need to lose a little. I generally do eat very healthy. I do not have a sweet tooth at all, as you can tell from the photo at the top of this page. I am not a snack or junk food addict. Wine is my one indulgence. 

So I do not think I am the keto diet's target audience. But still.

Darn it.

It should work!!

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

The secret neighborhood



I have a new tradition going with myself. Every evening I go for a bike ride and I sketch.

Those are the only two rules! The bike ride may be long or short. It can be a workout, or not. It can be my own bike, the beautiful Huffy Harvard Limited, or it can be one of those red rent-a-bikes.

About the sketch: I can do one the way I did last night, or I can do three as I did two nights before that. Or more. The important thing is just to do one and -- this is important -- not to sweat it. I want to relax and have fun.

One night I ended up riding 15 miles. Another night it was just a mile or two. That was the night I drew the building up above. The wonders that are in your back yard! That is Medaille College, just around the park.

Medaille College's cornerstone reads 1922. I seem to remember reading that it was originally a convent. Those nuns must have had some money. It is a beautiful place. And I had fun drawing it as darkness was falling.

That night I did a lot of exploring that area on my bike. I noticed that on Agassiz Circle, right there by Medaille College, there is a fascinating little neighborhood. It is hidden. There is a small network of cul de sacs and it is the most enchanting thing. 

It looked so private that I was not sure I could bike into it. Then I thought: I do not see any sign that says I cannot. So I biked on in, on my Huffy.

It was hushed in there with magical houses right on the sidewalk, with shaded front porches. Lights were twinkling on in the yards. Was this really only two minutes from my house?

I cannot believe the secret things I find.

You discover so much when you go out drawing on a bike!






Thursday, June 17, 2021

My mysterious roses


 These are the roses in front of my house!

Here I am, a loser of a gardener, and yet the rosebushes I put in a long time ago have just grown like weeds. My neighbor taught me to prune them a few years ago and so I have been doing a little of that. And maybe it is true that a little goes a long way. Because look at them!

 As I have perhaps mentioned before, these roses are miraculous in their way. For a brief shining week or so, my garden is the wonder of the block. However this year that week has stretched to three weeks. I think that is because Howard cut down this weedy tree that was growing among them. The tree must have been stifling one of the rose bushes, the one with hot pink roses. This year I am seeing a lot more of them.

This week has seen the flowering of the big rose bush in front of the house, the gigantic rambling rose with ice-cream-pink flowers. 

 

 

Let me tell you one thing.

Whatever gardening I do these days, I do it proudly!

I walk about the, ahem, grounds with my head held high. Surely people who are stopped in traffic in front of my house, they are looking at me with awe. 

Look, they say. There is the gardener who grew those roses!

They are saying: I wish I had roses like hers!

They wonder: What is her secret?

I wish I knew!

 


 


Saturday, May 29, 2021

Domestic goddess, that's me!

 


I am back to baking. Today I made Rhubarb Cornmeal Cake out of Nigella Lawson's "How To Be a Domestic Goddess." I had some rhubarb Lizzie had given me and I had stuck in the freezer. I thought I had used all the rhubarb but no. And so ...

Rhubarb Cornmeal Cake!

It called for a pound of rhubarb which, I do not think I had that much. But so what. A cake is a cake, the rhubarb is sprinkled in it. 

Today was a scrambled day where I worked too much on other things and could not keep tabs on my baking. I got bread dough mixed up in the morning and then put it in a pan and forgot to bake it. Yikes! It was ballooned all over the place. I might have to make pizza with it.

I made a second loaf of bread in the bread machine and left it up to the machine to bake it. Normally I take it out and bake it in a loaf pan but today I cannot be trusted.

The Rhubarb Cornmeal Cake, too, screwed up at every turn. I mixed everything up in separate bowls the way Nigella instructed. Eggs and vanilla (OK, I used rum) in one bowl. Flour etc. in another. Rhubarb and sugar in another. Then another bowl with the sugar and butter.

However I put them together in the wrong sequence. I just could not get it together today, I just could not.

Things like this though tend to turn out OK, in my very extensive experience. As the cake baked in its springform pan, this incredible aroma filled the kitchen. I mean it was insane. How could this smell so good?

It got a little too brown owing to that I do believe I used a 10-inch springform pan, not a 9-inch. I have a 9-inch springform but for some reason I am incapable of using it, I go for the 10-inch. I think that's what happened. Who knows. But anyway, a browned cake is OK. It is golden brown.


The cake is downstairs cooling now. It still smells amazing.

This one person has the recipe here. A number of blogs have spilled the beans on this recipe but I like this one I just linked to because she does not use too many pictures. I hate it when you go looking for a recipe and all you can find is pictures, pictures, pictures. People take too many pictures and they do not want to let even one go to waste.

Oh well, I should not judge them harshly.

Not everyone can be a domestic goddess like me!


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Welcoming the American Mariner


You know me and my preoccupation with Great Lakes freighters. Especially now that I have spent hours over the last few weeks sketching the Maumee.

I have been missing the Maumee since it shipped out. But this evening, my ship came in! My new ship, that is.

It is the American Mariner! This Web log is no stranger to the American Mariner. I have seen it before. When I worked for The Buffalo News I even got to interview its captain.

But tonight I saw the ship as I have never seen it before! 

I went down to the Outer Harbor to get in my 10,000 steps. At about my 6500th step, I hear this big loud horn. It was a foghorn! I did not realize that at the time. I just knew it was a kind of horn I had not heard before and it must belong to a big, big ship.

One woman called her son to ask if he knew about a freighter coming in. I appreciated that her son would know about this kind of thing. But he did not seem to know.

I said, "Well, something is out there. There is a big ship ready to come in."

Sure enough, after a few minutes there it was. This big, graceful shape on the horizon, beyond the breakwall. 

Someone told me it was the American Mariner. That is the biggest ship to come in to Buffalo. I know that because of my story.

Long story short, a whole bunch of us, most of us strangers, wound up gathered on a hill by the lighthouse, watching the American Mariner come in. Here is an amateurish picture I took. I think the phone put on the flash. The pictures my new friends were taking were a lot better, I am sure.


It was so much fun! It was like being in heaven. These people were my people! They knew all about the Maumee which I had been drawing. They recommended websites and Facebook groups that could hip you to this kind of thing. They were as much in awe as I was as we stood on this hilltop and watched the huge ship glide into the Buffalo River. Night was falling and lights were blinking on.

One gentleman marveled that he thought that the American Mariner was flying the Buffalo Sabres flag and the Buffalo Bills flag.

That was when I contributed my one bit of knowledge, going back to my story.

I said: "The captain is from Buffalo!"

And a shout went up as my new friends delighted in that new factoid. I was so proud to have contributed something because they knew so much.

What a wonderful evening -- darkness falling, the city skyline twinkling, the loud hum of this gigantic ship passing by, on its way to the Cheerios plant. Right now it is docked right where the Maumee was. 

I am going to go visit it.

And draw it!


Friday, April 9, 2021

Farewell to Prince Philip

I am saddened to hear of the death of Prince Philip. Howard told me this morning. He yelled down the stairs about something while I was making breakfast and when he does that you know it is something important.

That is too bad. I will miss Prince Philip greatly.

Prince Philip of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Gluckberg. I love it how Prince Philip is being referred to simply as a Greek prince, you know? Yeah right.

This web log will not be the same!

Looking around the Internet, a bad thing to do under any circumstances, I am depressed by the people wishing him ill in the hereafter. I know little about the private life of Prince Philip but nobody else knows anything either. I have said a prayer for him and I wish him the best.

Can I have a mass said for Prince Philip?

Why not?

Anyway beset by nostalgia I found myself looking back on his prominence on this site. 

The list of gaffes -- i.e., glaringly politically incorrect things -- that he said.

The times when my mother would be concerned for his health and I would fib confidently: "Oh, Mom, I read that Prince Philip is better." Sure enough he was better! That was what, five or 10 years ago?

The story my friend Stephanie sent me about the island where Prince Philip is a god.

When Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth gave Pope Francis a bottle of whiskey. What a perfect gift. So British. Anyone else would be tied up in knots, thinking, what do I give the pope? A rosary? A statue? No. This was perfect.

There was even the time I noted seeing a portrait of him in Toronto at the Royal York.

So much history we share! How could I have ever become so involved with Prince Philip without ever meeting him?

The poor queen. I feel bad for Queen Elizabeth with him gone. 

Prince Philip was one in a million!