Wednesday, April 17, 2019

My mother, Our Lady, and me

No one reads my Web log these days. I do not promote it -- at least not now, because after letting it go for a long time, I am giving myself time to find my voice again. Long story short, I can write freely.

It is funny reading back on it. There are all these little things I would have completely forgotten had not I written them down. I would recommend this to anyone. Particularly I love it when it comes to my mother, gone now for about six years. I would never have remembered half the situations we were in together or half the things we talked about. Half? More like 90 percent, I think, I would have forgotten.

My mom was with me twice when I saw Notre Dame Cathedral, my preoccupation for the last few days.

I think of her in Holy Week because I remember how we would not only go to sales together, as shown in the picture above, we would go to church together. I would often go, I must confess, a little unwillingly. But I did go with my mother and I am happy for that now. And I would rise to the occasion.

There is something strange about Holy Week. You feel a little hushed, a little off. This year it coincides with Passover which I imagine has a similar effect on our Jewish brothers and sisters, to use a phrase Catholics use a lot.

Plus there was the whole Notre Dame Cathedral business. It totally threw me off kilter. Over the past 24 hours though it has been not so bad. Here are a few more things that have struck me...

1. When they went into the church to see what was what, the votive candles were still burning! One friend wrote last night on Facebook, "I am going to sleep with the lights on."

2. Someone thought she saw Jesus in the flames. The picture she cited went around social media and was studied by many. It was discussed on the radio.

3. In the trad Catholic community it has been noted that the high altar survived unscathed while the post-Vatican II so-called altar was buried under rubble. That "so-called" is my terminology. Do not blame the others!

Poor Notre Dame. But perhaps its story is not over.

I have my favorite conspiracy theories which perhaps I will air at a later date. Do not blame me! I ask questions. I am a newspaper girl and as we say in our business, "If your mother says she loves you, check it out."

Did my mother love me? I have to ask that question to bring the post full circle.

I better read back on this blog to make sure.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The smoke clears in Paris

I am feeling a lot better about Notre Dame with the news that the relics have been saved and the ancient walls are standing and money is coming in to rebuild it.

Still probably not as much money as we here in Buffalo were given to put an addition on our Albright-Knox Art Gallery. As Howard would put it about the gallery, "What are they making it into, Dallas?" But still, impressive.

I am not going to be one of those Polyannas who go, "Oh, what the heck, all these churches all go through a lot, they're always burning," etc. This is the 21st century when we have a lot more firefighting resources than we had 500 years ago. The cathedral is in ruins. I still cannot help crying seeing video of Parisians on their knees in the streets, Rosaries in their hands, singing songs to Our Lady, or should I say Notre Dame, as they watched the cathedral burn and feared this was the end.

But at the same time that makes me think that good things can come out of bad and one thing we might see in Paris is increased faith. It is unfortunately human nature to take a church like this for granted until all of a sudden you think it will be taken away from you.

Notre Dame heard their prayers and interceded and God spared the cathedral, is all I can think.

A few other good things ...

1. You have to love that amazing daredevil priest who ran into the burning cathedral, damn the torpedoes, to save the Blessed Sacrament and the Crown of Thorns. Father Fournier. I am a fan.

2. Who knew that Notre Dame was in possession of the Crown of Thorns? I did not, I will tell you that, and it blows my mind. We have all learned things out of this. Apparently King Louis IX bought it in Byzantium back in the day for some gigantic sum of money.

3. And you have to love the priest for dashing to get the Blessed Sacrament as well, for having his priorities more straight than I would probably have them under such pressure.

4. It is great to hear news readers on TV talking of the tunic of St. Louis and other obscure medieval matters of faith.

5. The organ seems to have made it.

6.  Can I add something Buffalo? Reading back on what I wrote yesterday when I was in pieces, something else cool strikes me. I was irritated, as I wrote, at the long lines for confession, because I realized early in the day I would not get my chance, and I had to come back later. But upon reflection, reading back, it hit me ...

... There were lines for confession! How cool is that?

Maybe it will be that way in Paris. Maybe they are already lining up.

I would, if I were they.

Monday, April 15, 2019

The burning of Notre Dame

The burning of Notre Dame Cathedral -- as I said to a friend, there are no words.

The news came to me, as news like this does, in the middle of a hurried and mundane day. I was just coming from the dentist -- which, incidentally, was supposed to be today's story, and a great story it is, but it will have to wait. I had just gone to Albrecht Discount -- another story that will have to wait for another day -- and I got back in the car to head downtown to St. Michael's to go to confession because I had tried to go before the dentist but the lines were too long. As I turned onto Main Street from the Aldi parking lot I turned on the car radio and that was when I heard.

I could not, cannot believe it.

I have been to Notre Dame, thank God, but you just cannot imagine a world with it gone. As I put on Facebook it makes you wonder if the wheels really have come off in Europe.

As I wrote to someone on Facebook, what in the world kind of carelessness could have caused this?

This is Notre Dame! As in the old painting up above. As in a thousand old paintings. People over almost a thousand years have looked up at it, have walked in its shadow, have admired its beauty.

How could this have happened?

I guess it is best if it were an accident because then there is nobody to blame directly. But an accident is ominous in its own way. Perhaps as a friend said it was miraculous that Notre Dame never burned before. But the fact remained, it never did.

I have always thought of Notre Dame as a kind of cousin of Germany's Cologne Cathedral. As I told a friend, you can picture the two of them going through the centuries together. They were reminders of how although their respective nations were often warring, there was this faith in common.

It is hard not to see it as a metaphor, as some kind of warning. I am feeling this especially acutely because yesterday for the first time I saw "The Passion of the Christ," the Mel Gibson movie. That was one reason I was on my way to confession, that I was making it such a priority. I had these images in my head. I was thinking of times when I had laughed when I should not have laughed and mocked things I should not have mocked and in general behaved with stupidity and disrespect and that is why I was heading to confession. It is like what I have heard happened when people saw "The Exorcist" -- they went to confession. "The Passion of the Christ" had some stuff in it that can make you think of "The Exorcist." That is something too for another day. The point is, I had been upset this morning when the confession lines were too long and were moving too slowly and I had to get to the dentist. I had made up my mind to go back later.

Then I hear this.

Let me tell you, I not only went to confession, I stayed for the entire Mass!

Where, I should mention, they prayed for the burning cathedral. The priest mentioned it during the Prayer of the Faithful, and I was so grateful he included it.

It is just unbelievable, in this day and age. I know, churches have always burned through history, but we have better equipment now, and better fire detection, and better everything.

Well, not better everything. Sometimes you have to wonder.

Today I wonder. It is just so ominous, so unthinkable, that cathedral in ashes.

Well, I am talked out. I was writing things on Facebook about it and Facebook friends, so many of them are such beautiful people, and they were chiming in with thoughts and sympathy and their own grief -- not just Christians, either, but other people, too, who sent their love. They made me feel good that I was not alone and we went back and forth and back and forth and on and on, as you can tell from me writing here repeatedly, "As I said to a friend...." Now I have a kind of emotional hangover from it all. I guess I should let it go. I guess I have to let it go.

But tough day, you know? That was how my sportswriter friend Budd Bailey put it. Sportswriters have a way of distilling things to their essence.

Tough day!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

She takes the cake

So, yesterday, my baking marathon, it was worth it!

Good thing I did it! Because we had over 50 people at coffee hour.

We needed that food!

It is funny because it is hard to predict what kind of crowd we will have. I brought two Crock Pots and I felt stupid, doing that. I thought: It is Palm Sunday, the Mass will be long considering the procession and the Passion and everything, no one will come.


As if in a dream I saw everyone heading for the hall. Which makes me very happy. If there is one thing I hate it is seeing people getting into their cars and heading for home instead of to coffee hour.

Here is another thing that made me happy. Everything went smoothly with my friend Margaret doing a lot of the set-up ...

... and I was able to make the tail end of the Palm Sunday procession. Here I had been thinking I would miss all of it. I kind of gave up on it and perhaps that calmed me down because I was resigned to that. I worked calmly getting things together, no hurry, and lo and behold, there I was, in the procession. Not for all of it, but for some of it. That was neat.

There was one other year when I was late and experienced the procession from the inside out. Now THAT was really cool.

I stood there in the church with my usher friend Mike and we waited in silence. It was Mike's job to open the door when he heard the knock.

The priest raps on the door. That is how it has gone for centuries and so we were upholding this ancient tradition. We waited, not knowing when the procession would arrive.

And all of a sudden, the knock!!

And we opened the door. And Father Justus was standing there, surrounded by pomp and circumstance and all the parishioners behind him in this great procession.

I was telling my usher friend Joe today, I cannot believe traditions like that have been lost in the modern Catholic Church. I cannot believe I did not grow up with them. I was deprived.

I should sue!! Because there is nothing like this. It is beautiful and magical. Better late than never, you know, that I have come to experience it.

That and, I got to hear the lines about the horns of the unicorns.

A perfect Palm Sunday!

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Ich backe - I bake!

Yikes, almost all I did all day was cook and bake!

My friend Lizzie posted something about baking on Facebook that has stuck with me. It was some joke going around and the punch line was "Procrasti-baking." That is baking when you are supposed to be doing something else. We have all been known to do that!

Everyone except my sister Katie who for some reason -- get this! -- does not like baking. Imagine that! I cannot. She must be the only person in the world who does not like baking. It is unimaginable.

But whether or not I like baking I have to do it on Saturday because Sunday is the church coffee hour. And that is my ministry. It is my donation. I bake.

The Prince of Wales' motto is "Ich dien." I serve.

I want a German motto too! Mine could be "Ich backe." I bake.

Hmmm. The pianist Wilhelm Backhaus, whose Beethoven I love, his name must mean bakery. Bill Bakery.

Bakery should be my last name!

Today I made blueberry muffins, utilizing my historic Buffalo George Urban muffin tins. And spice muffins, a bigger size because I do not like everything on the buffet looking alike.

I also made banana bread from bananas that my friend Lizzie left with me when she had to fly down to Florida a few days ago. Haha, that was funny. Because Lizzie had had these bananas for weeks and kept talking about them. She was going to make chocolate chip banana bread because our friend Oscar likes that, and she was going to make normal banana bread, and then there was a loaf that she made that did not turn out to meet her extremely high standards, and --

And then, you guessed it. I was taking Lizzie to the airport and what did she toss into my trunk? The bananas. I just burst out laughing. After all that!

So, banana bread. What else? I also made a pumpkin cranberry bread with pumpkin I had frozen a couple of months ago. It is autumn's last gasp before we head into the -- hurrah! -- Easter season. And I made Whiskey Squash Cake in my Bundt pan. That sounds rather decadent for Lent but though it is delicious -- I have made it many times, with different twists -- it is really not that boozy.

I also made soup. The kitchen was alive with both Crock Pots and the bread machine all in play. And in between I took care of some Leonard Pennario correspondence with Capitol Records. But that also is a story for another day.

So I guess the entire day was not baking after all. I did get some other stuff done.

It was not all Procrast-Baking!

Monday, April 8, 2019

Shoes, shoes, shoes

Today, with the robins singing, was the day of an important pre-summer ritual.

It is the day of the Weeding of the Shoes!

There are shoes strewn around all over the house and today is the day when I promised myself I would go through them and de-accession that which is battered or pinchy or hopelessly salt-stained.

I sound joyous reporting about this but it is something I dread. I am just not a shoe person. There are shoes I love but in general shoe shopping stresses me out. Something can feel good in the store but when you go to wear them, they do not! That and, you can get a great pair of shoes, but after months of not wearing them you realize they go with nothing.

There is nothing for it however but to get to work. I went through boxes of dozens and dozens of shoes. I had to set aside a Shoe Morgue for shoes without mates. It is still there now that the monumental task is completed. There are seven shoes in the Shoe Morgue. I will give them a month or two and if they mates have not turned up they will have to go.

There is always a pair of shoes bound for Amvets that gets a last minute reprieve. It is like the president pardoning a turkey. Today that honor went to a pair of boots that was ancient, that I had found heaven knows where, and the boots made it outside -- but then back inside. They read "Made in USA" and "Waterproof" and I seemed to remember they were indeed waterproof. You never know when you will need something like that. I get pretty desperate in the winter sometimes.

A few other shoes, I have to be honest, hung on for sentimental reasons. Well, one pair. I bought them at Spiegel when I went to compete in the Van Cliburn Amateur Competition. They are three colors, bright colors. I was on the copy desk when I did that competition and I wore the shoes to work and my late boss Stan Lipsey, the publisher, was passing by and called out to me, "Now that's what I call shoes!!"

How can I toss them? They are a classic design and they are in great condition, is another thing -- aside from the tip of the toe, which is slightly scuffed on both shoes. I wonder if someone can fix that. Hmmm.

A cobbler might also come in handy to fix the heels of the sandals I bought in California that I used to wear when I was there with Leonard Pennario. They are quality and they have held up all these years.

Well, all these repairs will have to wait till another day.

Today I cannot bear to see another shoe!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Springtime in Buffalo

For a man-made lake, you know, Hoyt Lake is not bad!

I love walking in the park and it takes me about 20 minutes to get to this lake but that is going the long way. If I went the short way it would be more like 10 minutes.

It can get mighty quiet around Hoyt Lake this time of year. A miracle in Buffalo! This is where I learned the chirp of the red-winged blackbird. I love that bird's harsh drawn-out call. That is the sound of summer.

You can see the spring in the picture up above! And in this one.

On the other hand I took these pictures just last week. Heck, not even a week ago! Four days ago.

You will notice there are more wintry pictures than spring pictures. I am afraid I prefer the weather the wintry way when you get down to it. I have many more pictures that I took on cold days than on beautiful idyllic summer days.

I loved taking that wintry walk four days ago. It was colder than a well-digger's ass, as Tom Waits would put it. Well, not quite as cold, but I love quoting that song. And it was just about as cold.

There was nobody in the park! I ran into one gentleman going east when I was going west. We said good morning, as Buffalonians will.

Then he said, "Beautiful day."

And I agreed.

It was!

I am trying to see if I took pictures on the drizzly day I walked this week. Yes! I did!

Another shot.

I do love brooding days! Here is another.

This is a Buffalo spring for you. My brother Tony described it well once. He said that in spring in Buffalo it is as if winter and summer are in a battle for every single day. That is true.

And you know what the say about March. It comes in like a lion and goes out like a lion.

I am fine with it.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Prisoner of Prismacolor

I got these new Prismacolor pencils and could not put them down!

As I have written before I love keeping a bullet journal and have been doing that for several years. It is a way to wedge extra creativity into your life and it makes life look fun and not onerous. Even dentist appointments!

A good-looking BuJo, the hipster abbreviation for Bullet Journal, can help you get your life together in other ways too. I use mine to track projects and ideas and things and the colors make you happy as opposed to stressed out.

Enough excuses, I just could not put these pencils down, is the long and short of it. And so I jumped the gun on April and Easter. The butterflies on the tin got me thinking. I sort of borrowed them and then went from there.

I wish I could just keep going! I wish I could color this website with these Prismacolors.

But first things first. Is there anything more fun to color than Easter eggs? No.

What about Easter Yeggs?

That should be next year's theme!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Blackbird singing....

This morning, taking a quick walk around the park, I heard the song of what turned out to be the Red-Winged Blackbird.

Elementary to bird watchers, but new to me!

I mean, I know the bird's call. I love it because I associate it with high summer. You can listen to it here on the Audubon site.

But I did not know what bird it was I was hearing. I had to stare up into the tree where it came from, and keep staring, until I realized the call was coming from the tree next door. That second tree was a lot smaller and it was then that I could easily behold the blackbird sitting on a branch.

I do not think I have ever been able to identify the blackbird before. I believe this is its debut on this Web log.

There was the goldfinch.

And the robin that built its nest on the windowsill right by Howard's desk.

And the mourning doves Jeoffry scared away.

But the red-winged blackbird? It is common. It is abundant. But before this it was a mystery.

Red-winged Blackbird, I am happy to add you to my list of birds I now know.


Monday, March 18, 2019

Green day

Yesterday I had to take a picture of my purchases at Amvets before they were even in the bag.

They were just so pretty! Full of the colors of spring. Even if spring is not here yet. The pitcher in the pitcher (ha, could not help that) is covered with flowers that you cannot see. The records on the right, I had actually picked them out the day before. But I could not handle the checkout line on that day so I put them back in the record bin and went on my way.

No one else wanted the records I wanted! And I put them right in the front and everything.

I am insulted!

But happy to find them right where I had stashed them, I will say that. We had no coffee hour at church because the Italian Mass congregation had the hall for their massive St. Joseph's Table. And so my friend Lizzie and I went from church to Amvets where we met our friend Ryan. And then all three of us went to Buffalo Cider Hall...

.... in honor of St. Patrick's Day.

We agreed that Amvets is a great place to meet. That way if your friend is late, no worries. You may amuse yourself indefinitely.

I was happy because I had the best St. Patrick's Day outfit I had ever had. The piece de resistance was a bright green Liz Claiborne sweater. It had been sitting for months at the top of a pile of clothes in a box destined for Amvets. But the box never seemed to make its way to Amvets and so I thought, I may as well get a wear out of it, I mean, as long as it is here.

"You should keep it," said my Irish friend Bill Kearney at church. And I do believe I will.

There are times when you need something Kelly green and even if that happens only once or twice a year, it is worth having something for those occasions!

Back to the Buffalo Cider Hall. While we were drinking cider with varying percentages of alcohol Ryan had to tell me about this St. Patrick cartoon which now I will never get out of my head. Here I had admired St. Patrick in the choir loft of St. Anthony's ...

... and had even said a prayer: St. Patrick, pray for us!

But now when I think of St. Patrick all I can think of is this.

Ha, ha!

A happy St. Patrick's Day it was. And now back to work, with unfinished business clamoring for my attention.

Are we there yet?