Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Back to the Buzz

Once upon a time I wrote the Buzz column for The Buffalo News. It was a kind of gossip and humor column, things going on around town, lots of fun.

I am bringing it back.

For fun!

My friends have been asking for it, I am happy to say, ever since Howard raised the possibility of me writing it again on a lark. We could now incorporate my drawings.

It sounded nuts at first but then there is nothing wrong with that. And when I got to thinking about it I realized it could be a kind of a sketch diary for me. I could do pictures and riff from there.

Here is my first.

There will be another next week.

People on Facebook have been great about sharing it. It really warms my heart. The first column featured for starters the sketch up above. That is of the Parkside Meadow, this tavern near my house. It is kind of my corner tavern. If someone says, "Let's go grab a glass of wine," that is often where we go.

It may take a few weeks for the new Buzz column to reach equilibrium but I have no doubt it will happen. I did that column for a million years. Week after week. It hardly lapsed at all. I guess it lapsed for a few months while I was in California with Leonard Pennario but otherwise it kept going. When I went on vacation I wrote it in advance. When I got married I Buzzed my own wedding, writing about ways in which the ceremony and reception ran off the rails. I will have no problem picking it back up.

I am looking forward to it!

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

David Bellavia, at the White House and on the air

Here in Buffalo we were all excited today because one of our own, David Bellavia, received the Medal of Honor. We all tuned in to watch President Trump confer on him this great citation.

Buffalo City Hall is lit up white, blue and gold right now in celebration!

And here is what I really loved:

In between wall-to-wall coverage on the radio of Bellavia and his courage and this honor, we got to hear Bellavia talking about what we should do if we owe the IRS over $10,000!

That is only one of a number of commercials he does on WBEN, where he co-hosts the afternoon show with Tom Bauerle. And just because Bellavia was getting the Medal of Honor today did not mean that we would stop airing his commercials.

It is as if he is family.

That is so Buffalo!

Here is the footage, for the record, of the great man and his great moment. I have to warn you, it does start with a commercial. And it is not one of Bellavia's.

It should be!

Monday, June 24, 2019

Goodbye, jeans! Hello, cocktails

I made my first pants re-use item. Remember, I am ceasing to wear pants, and so I was going to upcycle all my old pants and shorts. I do not exactly have sewing skills so finding an initial project was a challenge. But I did it!

I made a Denim Ice Crushing Bag. The inspiration came from online. From the site The Kitchn.

The recipe required a minimum of sewing which, any normal person would use a sewing machine, but I could not get either of my sewing machines to start, so I hand-sewed it. That is my handiwork up above.

I sewed it out on the porch, in my long dress. I felt a little nostalgic, I have to say, cutting up these old jeans. They were vintage Calvin Kleins and they had been with me a long time and let me tell you this, they fit me again after all these years, and I looked pretty good in them, too. But they were ripped -- naturally and unfortunately, not on purpose the way all these fake ripped jeans are. I am really not a ripped jeans person. Plus I am hereafter not wearing pants. So, goodbye jeans.

Hello ice crushing bag!

Do read the little writeup on the Kitchn. It is funny. Plus the bag was a present. I gave it to the priest who advised that we stop wearing pants. A bunch of us gals got together and decided we would give him something made out of our now-cast-off garments. We have been laughing and laughing over it. The challenge in this situation, of course, is to find some craft that is not girly. Googling around you can find a million things to make out of your old jeans but most of them are girly.

My friend Amy made the priest a beer caddy. Well, her daughter sewed it. They are amazing and my ice-crushing bag had nothing on the beer caddy. The beer caddy even came with a Buffalo bottle opener! They fitted it out with one.

Impressive as the beer caddy is, I think the ice crushing bag should prove extremely useful.

I am going to make myself one! Out of the other leg.


Tuesday, June 18, 2019

No more shorts -- I'm maxing out

My clothing adventure continues.

The long dresses are not a big deal. I love maxi dresses. However it is a big deal that shorts are out, and also I am supposed to be covering up and not going sleeveless, which is something that, darn it all, I love to do.

Normally when I walk in the park, I wear shorts. What to do? I wanted to go for a walk in the morning.

What happened was, I was rifling through my closet and this pink maxi called to me, just a long pink maxi with tie-dyed white trim around the bottom. The label is Izod, which impressed me when I picked it up heaven knows where. But I have never worn it. It is too skimpy on top, was the reason. It needs something over it. But I never tried to find something to go over it until now. Because now, I have to.

I found a pink striped top which looked kind of nice. But then I hit on this denim jacket, this flowered denim jacket I had found at Amvets. I had never worn the jacket either. It is pretty as all get out but it never seemed to go with anything. I tried it on over the dress.

Hmmm, I thought, studying it. Too wacky. Not me.

I was going to take it off and try something else but right at that moment Howard appeared.

"Wow," he said. "Nice outfit! That looks great."

Howard does not compliment my clothes as a matter of course and I loved that. Then he said, "Want to walk in the park?" He does not normally walk in the park with me either. He usually has to get on with the workday.

So I felt happy as a puppy being taken out walking. I put on sneakers with the dress -- what the heck, at this point. Then the dress and the jacket both left the house for the first time. The dress is very long so I was holding it up so as not to fall over it.

Howard had the idea to take my picture on the swings.

I was so happy with how things went that I kept this outfit on all day. Sneakers and all. I had to go to the chiro and run some errands. All day long people complimented me! The receptionist at the chiro told me my outfit was beautiful and said she wanted to shop where I shop.

I had a blast!

The jacket got a little bit warm as the temps approached 80 degrees but it was cotton so it was not too bad. And you know what, I'll take it.

My brother George has joked that whenever the Catholic Church gives you rules there is a reason for it and you would do best to follow them. I was thinking, things do seem to work out.

At least it did today!

Monday, June 17, 2019

Mowing and glowing

Today I bit the bullet and cut the grass with the hand mower. I have been doing this for a few weeks now! But today I did something that raised the bar.

I mowed the grass wearing a skirt!

It is like Ginger Rogers doing what Fred Austerlitz did only backwards and in high heels, as the old joke goes.

I wore a skirt because I can no longer wear pants and that includes shorts. I got through it. One thing, though, it was a little harder at first than I remembered it. I almost gave up. Then I got to thinking, there is something about wearing a skirt that makes you a little more relaxed, a little less inclined to sweat and hard work. I had to get past that.

The job gets easier the deeper you get into it. Half way through the lawn you are feeling better. Two thirds of the way in, you get happy. Triumph is in sight.

Here is a beautiful song by Gustav Mahler about cutting grass.

It does not begin until 40 seconds in but it has a translation, is why I used this video.

Here is one thing that cracked me up as I pushed the mower back and forth on the front lawn, glowing. (Horses sweat. Men perspire. Women glow.)

The other day I bragged to Howard that my arms were getting stronger because I had reason to believe that they were. I credited my Aqua Fit class at the gym. I could not think of anything else I had been doing differently.

It was not the stupid Aqua Fit class.

It was this lawn mowing!!

Well, one thing I will have to do is do it every few days, not every few weeks.

You cannot have too much of a good thing!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

The pants reuse project

At Mass today we were advised that it is better if ladies not wear pants. They are unfeminine. They lead to various ills.

End result, as we say here in Buffalo, I have a couple of boxes' worth of pants and jeans I need to reuse.

This is not the end of the world for me, far from it. I only wear pants about once a year anyway. For some other ladies it is a much greater sacrifice.

But for some reason I have ended up with a lot of pants. I just took a whole bunch of them to Amvets last week because I got skinny enough for them to fit me, only to realize that I did not like how they looked. I hate when that happens!

I am not in love with jeans because I find them hot in the summer and cold in the winter. Plus I just have problems wearing pants. I do not have things that go with them. I have trouble putting an outfit together involving them. Now, take away my maxidresses, and we would have a problem. But as things are, I can live with this.

The only question facing me is, what to do with these pants? I cannot exactly throw them out.

And so I have come up with a catalog of things I want to make with them.

One is rag curtains, for my back porch.

You can get away with stuff out on a porch that would look really weird inside the house! So that is where my new rag curtains will go.

And there is that awesome wine bag at the top of this post that I found in this list of crafts you can make from jeans.

People make this unbelievably professional-looking things. I need something simple because I have a lot of other things going on.

However another thing on my list is an artist's bag. I will have to invent this because I have not found a picture of one. There are tote bag ideas out there I can adapt.

So ... curtains, wine bag, artist's bag. Also I want a sketchbook cover. I can craft that to match my artist's bag.

It is going to be no picnic at first to start cutting up my pants. But once I get going I will be all right with it. Other gals at church are going through the same thing. We are thinking we will have a contest for the best reuse.

Cushions are a no-brainer. I can use those on the porch.

Those two look a little advanced for me but I can manage something. Howard gave me a sewing machine once and we also have a dandy ornate early 20th century Singer.

I am thinking of making the porch a theme of this project. I need to furnish it somehow now that it is all renovated and ready to go.

Oh! And a bulletin board. You can cover some kind of board with the fabric from your pants.

Jeoffry has no problem re-purposing a pair of shorts.

One way or another I, too, will make use of these garments.

I cannot part with them!

Saturday, June 15, 2019

An alley in the sun

The other day I went sketching with my friend Meghan and we wound up in an alley off Edward Street. That was where I drew the picture at left.

I think it was off Edward Street because later we went walking up the street and drew Founding Fathers Pub and I do not remember turning any corners. I will have to learn to take notes in these situations because in the future biographers will be interested in them.

It is like Leonard Pennario taking notes because one day he knew I would want to see them. I am not making that up. He told me that.

You must always take notes because you never know what your biographer might need.

Back to Edward Street, at least where I think I was. The sun was bright and I loved the shadow on the wall of the house on the right. I also loved how the fire escape on the house at left cast shadows on the brick. We are seeing too little of the sun this year if you ask me. Whenever the sun is out I want to go out and make hay and that is what I did.

It was chilly but sunny and you know what, I do not care if it is chilly, I just want that sun.

I wonder if the weather this summer will ever pull itself out of the crapper. I kind of think not.

But so what. Whatever it is, I will roll with it.

Just give me some sun here and there, and I will be happy!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

A morning in the Japanese garden

This morning the sun was out and so I took my sketchbook when I went walking in the morning. I found myself at the Japanese garden.

Decades from now when scholars debate the deep meaning of my work they will point out that this picture has philosophy behind it. In the foreground is the Zen of the Japanese garden. In the background you may make out trucks and cars barreling along the expressway.

Yin and yang! That is not Japanese, I do not think, but it is close.

That is a strange little sculpture and yet I love drawing it. I love the curve of the legs it stands on. It is a funny thing, drawing in ink. You do not get a second chance if you goof something. Well, you can turn the page and start again. But that is the only second chance you get.

And so I get in the zone. I make sure that the line is supposed to go where I am about to draw it. That is what makes pen better than pencil to my way of thinking. I discovered that last fall when I did Inktober. With pencil you get too sketchy and just start anywhere. With a pen you must have a plan.

Somehow the legs of this sculpture just draw themselves. And pen does stone so well.

The rocks were fun and so was the grass.

Here I am working on it.

The sun had gone in by that point. It was there and then it was not and then it was again.

La la la la la la la.

It was a beautiful hour or so I passed drawing that picture. It was warm and sunny for once and I feel good that I was out there in it. I was so relaxed and the air was so fragrant and now that it is raining again as usual I wish it were this morning again.

I wish I were back in the Zen zone!

Monday, June 3, 2019

'Yucky, yet functional'

I continue to glory in having the nation's largest art supply store right in my own back yard.

It is home to the nation's largest art supply scratch-and-dent department!

Today I went to Hyatt's, as the store is called, and picked up an, ahem, portfolio.

I have all kinds of sketchbooks of various sizes I work with including a gigantic size, 18 by 24 inches. Well, it is gigantic to me. For my birthday the other day Howard got me a drawing board big enough to fit one of those sheets, so I will be doing more work within these generous dimensions. And when I am through with something, now I have somewhere to put it!

Because today in the scratch and dent department of Hyatt's I found a portfolio that is that size.

Normally these portfolios cost $40 to $60. But not in this case!

Mine was $5!

"Yucky, yet functional," read the tag.

That is one thing I love about this place.

All 24 sleeves -- there are 48 pages -- are in great condition. There was a problem with the bottom of the spine. A bit was chipped away. I do not care. I can use this at home to store my art and if I ever want to take it out somewhere so people can go through it, I can shrug prettily and say, oh, it gets a lot of wear. People are always turning its pages and sometimes they turn them a little too eagerly. That is what I can say.

Upon getting my yucky, yet functional portfolio home I got busy. I grabbed two pieces of art that have been kicking around the house forever and put them in the first sleeve. These are two drawings that are not my usual style. This is going to be a diversified portfolio!

Then I turned the page and slipped in the Turgeon Brothers Cheesecake recipe I am honored to display on the website They Draw and Cook.

It is great to be able to store things like this before they get wrecked.

Now I want to go on and fill up the rest of this portfolio. It really does not take up a lot of space. I will just stand it up somewhere and when it is full I will crowd in a few more things, as we tend to do here in Buffalo, and then I will get another one.

I will have a hard time getting a deal like this one, though. This one is special. When I was leaving Hyatt's they offered me a bag.

"No, thank you," I demurred. I added: "It's already beat up!" And we all got a laugh out of that.

Scratch and dent.

Two of the most beautiful words in the English language, that is for sure.

Monday, May 27, 2019

The not-so-secret garden

This morning I went with my friend Lauren to explore the new Dash's Market. We walked over there and later I thought it was funny, how little I am using my auto these days. I biked to church yesterday and today we walked to the greengrocer.

Greengrocer! That is a term we should use more often.

All I bought was green things!

For the record -- I bought leeks, zucchini, Savoy cabbage and .... what else? There was one more thing. It was green. Oh! Cucumber.

After shopping we sat in the upstairs Dash Cafe, or whatever they call it. It is spacious and lovely and because it was early in the morning not a lot of people were there and we scored a seat on the patio where we ate muffins and Lauren fed a snack to her baby daughter. I did a sketch of the street below.

When I got home I worked like a fieldhand on my garden. But first..

What got me going on the garden was seeing Lauren's garden. She and her husband bought this beautiful house in Parkside. It is the perfect house. It has no lawn in front. The front steps go right down to the sidewalk! So, no lawn mowing! Plus ... it has a garden in back. I mean a real garden, with huge raised beds and -- get this! -- a gate. A garden gate!

It is like The Secret Garden! As in the picture up above, by the great Tasha Tudor.

I could not get over it. I can tell that Lauren and her garden are going to be an inspiration for me all summer long.

I said, "Lauren, I am so glad you live in the city."

Is there anything better? We may walk to each other's houses and to the greengrocer.

And everything we need is right here. That is another thing to think about.

In contrast to Lauren I do not have a secret garden. I have a public garden! My garden is my front lawn on a busy street full of motorcycles and boom cars.

But you know what, I love it. I was out there today pulling up bishop's weed -- I love bishop's weed, but I have a huge patch of it that I am not going to touch. The bishop's weed in the front has to go to make room for other things.

Son of a sea cook, I am going to be seeing bishop's weed in my sleep, I pulled up so much of it. I also brutally pruned the rose bushes. I am sorry to say brutally but there is no other word for it.

I was scratched but not bleeding. Eventually I was bleeding but it took a long time to get to that point. By then I had been working for hours. I declared victory, cleaned myself up, and went to Home Depot for tomato plants.

I bought eight, for $20. That is going to be the only money I spend on my garden. But it will be beautiful.

For weeks now I have been writing as one of my goals, "I have a gorgeous garden."

It has begun!