Sunday, May 26, 2019

A foggy day in Buffalo town


Today was the Buffalo Marathon and I used that as an excuse to bike to my 9 a.m. Mass. Usually I help out with the coffee hour and have to bring baked goods but today the hall was rented and so there was no coffee hour. And so I was at liberty to bike.

It was fun biking. Your day feels different. At 8 a.m. the city was swathed in fog. It was like San Francisco! Or like that beautiful little poem by Carl Sandburg you learn in school.

The fog comes 
on little cat feet. 

It sits looking 
over harbor and city 
on silent haunches 
and then moves on.

I had that memorized! When I reached downtown and got to Big Blue I sent this picture to Howard.


I thought of the Sandburg poem and also Bismarck "Bix" Beiderbecke's "In a Mist."



Wow, listen to that. Bix on piano!

Mass was long because we are singing a lot of Gregorian chant these days and just taking our time. We are in no hurry. Summertime, and the living is easy. It was almost 11 a.m. when I returned to my bike. The fog was still there. It had not gone anywhere!

I pedaled leisurely in the direction of home, more or less. I went along the Riverwalk.



There is an amazing juncture where you get a panoramic view of the Niagara River. The Peace Bridge had gradually appeared from the mist and here it is.


Eventually I found my way to Unity Island, formerly Squaw Island. I love railroad bridges and the one to this island is a beauty. So I sat on a curb and took out my new ink pens and drew the picture at the top of this post.

I sort of wanted to wash in the clouds later but I like the lines of the picture, its angular nature, so I will think about that. While I was thinking I biked over the bridge. As I wrote on Instagram it felt like family now that I had sketched it.

On Unity Island I found the bike path and it takes you right by the river's edge.

Unfortunately at this point it also got really cold! It felt like summer in the Arctic circle. It looked like that too. The waves of the river just disappeared into the sky and you could not tell which was which.


Next time I go there I will draw that beautiful International Railroad Bridge that appears in the mist in that last picture. OK, to tell you the truth, I already did draw it. I could not resist. It was so dramatic and I drew my picture in the presence of several Border Patrol agents. They were parked there keeping an eye on the bridge.

I loved this foggy Sunday.

I am glad I have so many pictures so I can remember it.


Saturday, May 25, 2019

Sketching in Allentown


I went sketching with my friend Meghan in Allentown on Friday. This was one of the pictures I drew.

Allentown is fun and funky -- sort of Buffalo's version of Haight Ashbury. There were posters around hyping a series of talks exploring the legacy of long-dead anarchist Emma Goldman. The famous music bar Nietzsche's is just down the street. People kept stopping by to talk with us. We had a wonderful time. And we felt like part of the scene. Folks who were antique shopping and eating lunch would stop and look at our work. I like to think it added to their Allentown experience, to see us standing on the sidewalk, drawing.

I love just getting down on paper what is before my eyes. Maybe it comes from being a reporter, from working for The Buffalo News for so long. I love to be truthful and I find it enjoyable.

Speaking of enjoyable, the drawing was accompanied by a continual volley of laughter from across the street, emanating from the staff of the restaurant Gabriel's Gate, pictured at left. The cooks and waiters and whoever were always coming out of the building on their breaks or whatever. I drew one of them in because I wanted to remember that. They were laughing and joking and you could hear it up and down the street. The day was sort of chilly but not as freezing as it had been and spirits were high.

So much fun!

These buildings are among the oldest in Buffalo and it is a privilege to draw them. Also I love their beautiful light posts.

I will have to go back.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

My experience with Aldi delivery


Anyone who knows me or has ever read this Web log knows of my love for Albrecht Discount, affectionately known as Aldi. I adore Aldi.

I wish I could charter it the way my mother told me that the Queen of England charters Harrod's! When the Queen goes Christmas shopping, so my mother said to me, Harrod's would be blocked off just for her.

Unfortunately that is not the case with Aldi and the one I go to is small and overdue for a makeover and expansion, which thank heavens it is getting. It is getting cramped and one aisle is even so narrow now that I cannot get down it comfortably even with the 10 pounds I lost over Lent. And it is super-crowded.

So.

Today I tried Aldi delivery!

No more chatting, here is the report. It was easy to do the online shopping. The menu of items is easy to navigate and I happily shopped away. You cannot buy markdowns online but you know what, there have been a million times I went to Aldi and did not find any markdowns I wanted.

Placing the order was easy and there is this promo code on the delivery site which gives you $10 off. That made up for the nickels and dimes that turn up added to the prices online. However, 89 cents for a dozen of those fine Goldhen eggs, who can argue with that?

I shopped my way up to about $50 and then placed my order. After that Instacart got really chatty, texting me to tell me that my order was placed, that it had been delayed, that it would be there soon, and then -- ta da! -- that my shopper was in my driveway!

End result, as we say here in Buffalo: Two items out of the 15 or so I ordered were wrong. I ordered the 1-pound clamshell of the organic spring mix. I am not an organic fanatic but I do like organic lettuce. Instead the shopper gave me the, ahem, Artisan Lettuce ...


...  that smaller clamshell with four heads of lettuce. I felt I had to kvetch about that seeing that the price was very different.

Then I had to call about a discrepancy with the chicken, too.

The cauliflower had spots and would not have been the one I would have selected.

On the other hand the cabbage looked dandy. I mentioned the cauli on the phone just because I wanted to give Instacart honest feedback on how they were doing. One problem they might have is nobody can read, and nobody knows anything about vegetables. Another problem is that they promise you the moon. In the days leading up to this I have been getting emails saying things in the subject line like, "Mary, prepare to be amazed!" Honest, that was one.

What really bugged me was I realized I felt bad after making the phone call and stuff. Also, on the Web site, the only way you can report an "issue" with your order is to give your delivery person a "bad" rating. There seems to be no other way. It is weird.

I did not want to say that my shopper had been bad or that the experience had been bad. It was not exactly bad. Also I think as a Catholic I should be patient and kind and I did not want to have to complain, you know? God knows I have had my share of lowdown jobs, I mean back in the day, and I sympathize, and I do not want to make a blot on anyone's record.

 And then there was the matter of the tip. I had not realized the tipping is electronic. They add in 5 percent and if you want to give more you can do that after you get your order, add it in the way I think people do on Uber. I actually like this, but I had not realized it because they were not clear about it, and so I had given the shopper and her friend $5 cash. Then I saw that online I had already given them $2.50 or something so I canceled that. I thought: I gave them twice that amount, and they screwed up my order. I'm not going to give them, like, $7.50. Then I felt bad, as you do in these situations.Would Instacart be angry with them when they saw the tip was canceled? Could I have handled that differently? I should have read things more carefully. I should have --

Finally I stopped and said, oh, for Pete's sake!

Why am I feeling as if this is somehow my fault?

If the shopper had only brought me what I asked for, I would not be going over and over and over all this!

Why am I worrying about these people? They are not worrying about me!

Get it together, Instacart! You told me, "Mary, prepare to be amazed!"

Anyway.

Will I try this again? Yes, because the promo code gives you $10 off three different orders and I have two to go. Also I am credited $4 something for the lettuce. I will say this for Instacart, they have good customer service. The trick is to figure out how to report an issue but once you do that, they are very nice.

The only thing is, you do not want it to shoot your day. That is what you are trying to avoid by getting the delivery. I had all this work to do, plus I had to go to church at 5 p.m. for Gregorian chant practice. I did not feel I could budget all the time to go to Aldi and back.

The work went well, is the good news. So, worth it.

I'll try this again, and report. But one thing, could Aldi please start carrying wine?

You kind of need it, after all this!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The mysteries of Delaware Park


I love walking in Delaware Park early in the morning, around the Ring Road, around Hoyt Lake, an occasional excursion around the Rose Garden.

The mysteries you encounter!

For a few days there was a tent pitched on the bank of Hoyt Lake.



It is there if you look closely! There was a bicycle parked consistently next to it, with a pack attached to it. You do not want to get too close to these things because you never know who or what is inhabiting such a dwelling. But I did get this picture.

For three or four days the tent was there. Then one day it was gone.

In its place was a sign that had clearly been lifted from the Marcy Casino down the way.


There is that and also there is the mystery of the two-colored apple trees.

One of my park friends told me about them and lo! There are apple trees that have pink or purple blossoms and white blossoms. Here is one. There are more, trust me.



Add in the fish whose life I saved and the iridescent blue birds and it is no wonder I have managed to take off a few pounds walking ...


...  around the park every morning.

It is just so entertaining!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Sleepless at the computer


A lot of today went into working on my Leonard Pennario project.

Come heck or high water I am going to have it done and out by this fall. I will have something out by then anyway. It might be more than one volume.

There is one thing I can do that always gets me psyched and that is listen to him. Today I tapped into Pennario performing the Rachmaninoff Second

The only trouble is, it is amazing and distracts me.

Just the opening chords. Did any other pianist get them perfect like that? Every one builds on the one before, so perfectly.

Pennario!!

He is just so great!

Well, I got through some work anyway. I should mention this work began at 5 a.m. I was up early! I could not sleep and so I got up.

May I say that sleepless that I was I managed to work for two hours without spilling coffee all over the computer keyboard as Howard did this morning when he sat down at it after a full night's sleep. You should see me trying to type this now. Not pretty!

While Howard was working on his stuff and spilling hs coffee I went for a walk in the park to wake up. The sun was out!



There are worse times to do editing, which is pretty much what this has come down to, than when you have not had much sleep. You are a little impatient and tend to cut stuff more willingly than when you have slept soundly. Do not worry however. It is like clothes bound for Amvets. They sit in the car trunk for a few days to give me time to reconsider.

Things that are deleted may always return.

In the meantime things are going well. It helps not working this huge job, you know? You have a little more time to think. Also, I have to say this, I love to write about music. I love to draw too, and I do not have to cut that out, I cannot. But I can do both.

Speaking of music and art is that not a dandy portrait of Pennario on the cover of that album?

The maestro!

I can hardly wait for the book!



Monday, May 20, 2019

Sketching on Niagara Street


I do not know what attracts me to old factories but something does.

Yesterday when the temperature was in the 80s -- gasp! -- and it felt for once like summer, I celebrated by grabbing one of those red rent-a-bikes and pedaling down Niagara Street. My niece calls these bikes "city bikes." I like that term.

I stopped and did some city sketching!

Today it is back in the 40s and 50s so it kills me with nostalgia, remembering. The city had gone crazy because of the warmth. Boom cars were blaring and people were roaring around on those awful loud motorcycles and even the average person who passed you on the sidewalk had some kind of stupid personal stereo blasting. But still.

I was so happy to be out and drawing I hardly noticed!

Plus I had to keep reminding myself I was not in the best and quietest part of town. Niagara Street just calls to me. I love the smell of the river. I love the old industry. Everywhere I looked I saw something I wanted to tackle.

Eventually I zeroed in on this beauty.



I am not sure what they used to make there. More accurately, I have no idea. But I liked the shape of the place and the stuff on the roof. Plus there was a bus stop right there and I could sit on the bench outside it.

Tomorrow I will post the picture I did. Looking at it I just want to do a couple more things with it.

Just look at that old place.

I wish it were yesterday!


Monday, May 13, 2019

I saved a life today


I saved a life today. It was only a fish, but still.

I was walking around Hoyt Lake early this morning in the cold drizzle. This is a terrible spring we are having here in Buffalo but I care not seeing that I have all this work to do. As I was walking I saw something lying on the bank. It was a little fish, a carp I think.

The fish was lying there and I thought he was dead but then I saw his gills barely moving.

You have to act fast in situations like this and I picked the fish up. I have to admit I said, "Eeeuww." I had on these green gloves I love. But how bad can they smell, you know? They only touched the fish for a couple of seconds. The fish looked as if he had a little bit of blood on him so I do not know what exactly happened but I stayed away from that blood, is all I can tell you. I picked him up gingerly and I got him back in the water.

"There you go, little guy," I said. I call my cat Jeoffry "little guy" so I am in the habit.

Good thing Jeoffry was not along on this expedition!

Anyway. I worried the fish might sink like a stone but no.

He swam joyously and zestily away!

That felt good. I was so happy I could do that, you know? Nobody was out walking because of this bad weather but I was. And I was not wearing a headset and I was aware of what was around me and I saw the fish.

Above is a picture of the lake with the fish in it because of me.

Little fish. It reminds me of my religion teacher in high school whose name was Miss Piscitello. My dad was a Latin teacher who knew what was what and he told me it was Italian for "little fish." My friends and I had a riot with that. We would say Little Fish and that was code for our religion teacher.

A piscitello swims in Delaware Park Lake tonight because of me. I am a Good Samaritan.

Choose life!

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Hamming it up with Betty Crocker


Yesterday I made my first Chiffon Cake, for church coffee hour. It was the Lovelight Chocolate Chiffon Cake out of the classic Betty Crocker Guide to Easy Entertaining!

It is a rule I have for coffee hour: Every week I make at least one thing that is new. It keeps things exciting.

Above is a picture of the Lovelight Chocolate Chiffon Cake going into the oven. And here it is coming out:



Beautiful as the cake is, I could not help laughing about the chapter the recipe came from. It was going piously to church, yet it came from the chapter titled Stag Parties.

How many cookbooks these days will you find with a chapter called Stag Parties?

It is funny because sex is everywhere, much more than it was several decades ago, but oh, you cannot mention stag parties. But anyway.

"Most men have a weakness for chocolate cake," Betty Crocker writes in this cookbook.

And sure enough!

The guys at St. Anthony's, they loved this cake! Well, the ladies did, too. And the children. But I am not about to contradict Betty Crocker. She was right!

You know me, I am always behind, and I was making the frosting at literally the last minute -- i.e., this morning before church. So I made a frosting that Betty recommended called Chocolate Fluff. You took two cups of heavy cream and whipped it up with a cup of powdered sugar and a half cup of cocoa. The result was amazing. Like ice cream. Addictive. Amazing.

You had to sit the cake in the fridge until it was time to serve it. And so during Mass the cake sat in the fridge in the St. Anthony's social hall. It tastes good cold, I discovered. There is something very satisfying about this sweet, chilled cake.

But next time I will make the other icing Betty recommended.

It is White Mountain Icing!

My Facebook friend Janice is a professional pastry chef and she was urging me to try it. She said it was old school but it will be so worth it! Plus, what I love about it is you get to use -- shhhhh -- corn syrup.

It is just a little more complicated than I had time for this morning. In addition I should get a candy thermometer. Why does someone like me not have a candy thermometer? Yet I do not.

The cake shared the buffet with another St. Anthony's novelty -- ham.

We got a couple of hams at Albrecht Discount and heated them up in the oven! This was another first for me. We were doing this because it was the Octave of Easter. Lou, one of the gentlemen of St. Anthony's, had to help me.

We hit a snag when I realized there were no roasting pans in the kitchen. What to do? What to do??? But miraculously in a cupboard we found a beat-up cookie sheet. Wait, it was my cookie sheet! I had been wondering what had happened to it. Here it was. And right when and where I needed it!

And so we roasted the hams -- in foil pans, set on the cookie sheet. Lou said they would be done by the time we got out of Mass and sure enough.

Lou being a prince among men also made the glaze in a saucepan he found God knows where.


I slipped out during the sermon to apply the glaze to the ham.

End result, as we say here in Buffalo, there was much rejoicing.

Ham. Is there anything better?

And 99 cents a pound at Aldi.

We will be doing this again!


Saturday, April 27, 2019

Mr. Blue Bird on my shoulder


Today in between baking for church and working on other things that needed working on, I managed to get in a walk around Hoyt Lake.

It is always a great victory to get in a walk on a cold and dreary day! You feel like Beethoven, triumphing over the elements. And as I walked in the park the sky brightened and the sun peeked out here and there.

Not only that but there were these blue birds that fascinated me.

They were zipping around over the water and around me, twisting and turning, so fast it was hard to get a good look at them. I did see that they were a kind of iridescent blue.

Zip, dive, twist, turn.

I made this valiant attempt to take their picture.


Ha, ha! This is one instance when a sketchbook would serve better. Let us admit it, there are many such instances.

When I got home I looked them up and I do believe they are tree swallows.

Above is a tree swallow from the august Audubon Society. I would not have recognized it because it never saw one sitting still as that one is.

How did they get that bird to sit still?

This was more like what I saw.



But still, I never got that clear of a look. I was just trying to get in my head what I could. Blue back, white underbelly -- yep, that's him.

These birds felt magical. They were swooping and dipping everywhere, just zipping around. Nobody else seemed to notice. Everyone else was looking at screens and listening to headphones.

Those poor folks.

They just could not swallow the Tree Swallow!


Monday, April 22, 2019

An Easter worth waiting for


Mass on Easter Sunday is always one of the highlights of the year. And this year ... this year ....

I never remember the altar looking more beautiful!

What is it about the flowers? Studying them from the choir loft I wondered if it was the orange flowers in among the yellow.

Here was our opening procession. We got to sing the Vidi Aquam which is something I always look forward to. "I saw water flowing out of the temple, from the right side ..." God knows what that all means, you know? But I do not need to know exactly. It is about water and baptism and new life, is all you can think. It is from Ezekiel.


These are not my pictures. They are from Facebook. I was in such an Easter daze I forgot my camera. It is strange to forget your camera! It is like being back in Biblical times.

Not only that but I cried so much in the Gloria that I could hardly sing. I was not the only one. Half the choir was in tears. And all the bells were ringing.

It had been just such an intense Holy Week. I did the Seven Churches on Holy Thursday. I did have my camera then and I did take a few pictures. I will have to post them.

Then on Good Friday I went to Stations of the Cross and the first Good Friday service I can remember going to. For all these years I was working on Good Friday. I could not get my act together to have the day off. There was always something. This year I went. The service, or the Good Friday Office as it was called in the missal, began with the priest lying face down on the floor and it went from there. It was unbelievably stark.

Ergo, on Easter, it was like coming out of a tunnel. Into the light! That is why you have to max yourself out in the days beforehand. You feel it!

Alleluia!