Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Shriven

Today it was back into the St. Michael's confession booth with me. Yes, I drew aside the midnight blue curtains, and in I went with my sinful self. Two funny things happened:

For one thing, the priest gave me this creative penance the likes of which I have not heard. I will have to get to it in a minute.

I was supposed to go home and take a piece of paper and list five things that brought me joy in the last year, and five people who brought me joy.

Then for every thing and person on that list I am supposed to say an Our Father, a Hail Mary and a Glory Be in thankfulness. Hmm, the Glory Be looks funny in print, you know? But it is a prayer that I love. As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end, amen! When you say that prayer you are saying a mouthful.

So that is one thing that was neat about going to confession today. Here is the other:

I only just now realized that it is Shrove Tuesday. I was thinking of today as Fat Tuesday, starting with this big breakfast I ate. But it is also called Shrove Tuesday. I had forgotten that.

And Shrove Tuesday, I never thought about what it meant. It means confession! As in "shriven." Speaking of which, I am putting that in the headline because I read online there is some kind of slasher film stupidly called "The Shriven." I want people Googling that film to find me instead. Hahahahaa!

Ahem. Anyway, in days of old, people would flock to confession on Shrove Tuesday so you would be shriven in time for Lent.

I was shriven on Shrove Tuesday! And here I was just figuring I would beat the rush. I guess that was thinking back then, too. There were about a dozen people in line for confession at St. Michael's and for a while I had to stand and wait. A fellow penitent passed the time by painting my picture.

Then they opened a new confessional, the way at Aldi when there is a lot of people they have to open a new aisle. I have to say this, there were a lot of hipsters. A lot of guys. A few of them looked as if they must belong to a band.

All of us celebrating Shrove Tuesday.

past participle: shriven
  1. (of a priest) hear the confession of, assign penance to, and absolve (someone).
    • present oneself to a priest for confession, penance, and absolution.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Going bananas

At our church coffee hour we are planning a Mardi Gras theme. Naturally that is all I can think about.

I am thinking of making these Bananas Foster muffins on this one Web log.  It looks as if I have all the ingredients and my friend Lizzie and I have come into possession of a huge lot of bananas.

You know what kills me? I love food Web logs but the people who write them, they post way too many pictures.

You are scrolling down trying to get to the ingredients and it is all blah blah blah and photo photo photo photo photo. And most of the photos are pretty much identical.

Son of a rum-swilling sea cook, get to the recipe already!

But anyway. The Bananas Foster muffins look like fun. Only perhaps a Bananas Foster Cake would be better. You could cut it into mighty slabs.

I have a Bananas Foster story. Years ago in New Orleans, a group of us gathered there, as we used to do, magically, once in a while. And my friend Daryle and his then-girlfriend, now wife, Lisa, insisted on going out for Bananas Foster. The rest of us laughed ourselves silly because we were going to, I don't know, sit around the pool and drink Hurricanes, or something.

Now I know that Daryle was right!

Bananas Foster is a signature dish and not to go to Galatoire's and sample it is foolishness. Plus I should have trusted the good taste of Daryle, who has always, always appreciated the fine things in life. Would that I could go back in time. I would go with them! I would have been a third wheel on their date but that would be just too bad.

Oh well. As my friend Daryle would say: "That's what happens when you stray from the cool people."

Speaking of which, as we contemplate past regrets and future triumphs we can savor the music of cool New Orleans composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk. Pennario playing -- what else? -- "Le Bananier." Does it mean "the banana tree"? It does!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Aw, shoot!

The daffodils are up!

I always start the watch in January and this morning I saw them. Those are the daffodil shoots in the picture. I do not expect anyone to be able to make them out. I can hardly make them out!

But they are there!

Three years ago on Mozart's birthday, which is today, I was also writing about the daffodils. They are on my mind this time of year. Wow, looking back at that post, I can tell you one thing: My Christmas tree was a lot whiter then than it is now!

The Christmas tree came with instructions not to put it in the window, because putting it in the window yellows it. That is pretty dumb if you ask me. Where are you going to put the Christmas tree if not in the window? Anyway my tree has gotten kind of yellow. But when the lights are on no one can tell.

In 2011 the daffodils were later. It seems that I first saw them that year in February.

In 2010 it was March when I talked about the daffodils. That was the day I went to that snowy garage sale with my mom. I always remember that!

In 2009 daffodils figured in my list of 10 Things I Do Not Understand.

Ah, the memories!

This is why we have Web logs.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The coffee hour

I have waited until now to share some of the most exciting news of the week. On Sunday, my friend Lizzie and I hosted the church coffee hour!

OK, so it was mostly Lizzie, with the help of a number of friends from church. Mostly what I did was, I brought a Crock Pot of split pea soup and bread from the bread machine. Lizzie brought banana bread and beef stew and I do not even know what else. 

Above is a picture we took before Mass. That is a Sicilian donkey cart in the background! This is St. Anthony's, where Pennario was baptized, the mother church of Buffalo's Italians.

We had to get there early to set all this up. And during Mass I am looking down from the choir loft wondering: Did Lizzie even get to Mass? Or is she still next door working on the coffee hour? All of a sudden while we were singing the Credo I realized she was there because there she was walking out. She had been sitting near the front and the incense got to her.

We do love our incense at St. Anthony's! We have clouds of it.

Anyway, I continued to be nervous about the coffee hour. Mass is going on and I am sitting there thinking: What about the crock pot, is it on Low? Should I have put it on High? Will the soup be hot enough? What if nobody eats it? It was an old hippie vegetarian recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook. What if people don't like it? What about the bread? Will people eat it? What if it crumbles when we try to slice it?

I was like St. Martha. St. Mary is the one who sits at the foot of Christ and listens to Him and meanwhile St. Martha fusses. That was me!

But it all ended up working out OK, and it was fun. The split pea soup all went. I was able to bring a bright tablecloth. The coffee hour was held until recently in this little room but now it has been moved to the social hall which is this huge cavernous space. It needed to be warmed up somehow. 

What makes this kind of thing fun? I wonder that. But it was fun, all of us fussing over the coffee urn and the sugar and the various desserts. Lizzie, having recovered from the incense, had accomplished a lot including moving the crock pot to the front of the table and adding salt and pepper shakers. Desserts included but were not limited to: blueberry bread, cranberry bread, Timbits, mint chocolate chip cookies, and Entenmann coffee cake ... a must at every coffee hour.

Although she was not here to witness her culinary triumph. Once a month she goes to mass at the Dominicans and alas this was the day. But she had given me the biscotti in advance,.

I am already looking forward to next time. I will make another soup or stew, I do not know what yet. But I can make stuff in a Crock Pot in my sleep and have indeed done so.

The world runs on coffee, you know?

Without it, nothing would get done!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Standing tall

Today being Septuagesima Sunday I piously decided to take down my Christmas tree. Septuagesima Sunday is sort of the start of Lent. Lent does not technically begin until Ash Wednesday but the countdown begins today.

I had been talking a good game about keeping my tree up till Candlemas on Feb. 2. But how do you argue when Lent begins to cast its shadow? The Nativity Scene was gone from St. Anthony's this morning. The priest wore purple vestments. And there was my tree, still in the window?

T'aint right, I lectured myself. Take it down. And while you are at it, take all those Christmas magazine issues you have been cooking out of and put them away until next year.

But then, being that I have trouble making decisions, I decided to get on the Internet and double check. I Googled "Catholic When To Take Down Christmas Tree."

There were the usual folks saying Epiphany. Yeah, yeah. That ship has sailed. One Catholic site, I am not going to call it in, but it said, "Observe the holiday of Epiphany by taking down your Christmas tree."

What kind of a sad sack holiday observation is that? Someone has something screwed up. When Epiphany comes that is when you unpack your little statues of the Three Kings and place them around your manger scene. Then you make King Cake and feast on it with your friends. Fie on that Web site. Fie!

Then I found this essay on the Catholic Answers web site. 

It was titled "Catholics! Keep Your Tree Up." And it concluded that it is right and just to keep the tree up until, yes, Candlemas. Even if Septuagesima Sunday gets there first! He specifies that.

Quoth the writer:

 "If you want to be really traditional, you can celebrate what the faithful called “Christmastide” before the liturgical reforms that followed the Second Vatican Council. In the old rite, or what we today call the Extraordinary Form, Christmastide lasted for 40 days to correspond with the 40 days of Lent, and the 40 days from Easter to Ascension Thursday.  
A 40-day party? Gloria in Excelsis! (And people say Trad Cats are a dour bunch.)
End result, as we say here in Buffalo: instead of taking the tree down I plugged it in. Jeoffry was dancing at my heels. He loves the Christmas tree. We are always finding him just sitting there gazing at it. He sat down right then and there and feasted his eyes. He is a Trad Cat!
We have another week!
Perhaps I will listen to Christmas music. Perhaps I will bake more cookies.
On the other hand ... definitely I will!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Snow surprise

My brother George stopped by this morning and we went skiing in Delaware Park. Above is a picture I took! Well, I did not exactly take it. My camera did.

You know when you can't see into your phone to see what picture your camera is taking? That is a situation I enjoy. You just kind of point the camera in the general direction of what you want to photograph, and then later you get to see how you did.

I like that suspense! And I think the picture came out pretty well. It does not look like Delaware Park, you know? It looks as if you are on some country road in Vermont. With Bernie Sanders talking to you about income inequality.

I took a couple of more shots, blindly like that one. They were from the same location because it was a lot of trouble to set down my ski poles, take off my mittens, fish out my camera and snap.

They may not be the greatest photos but they do give you an idea of the kind of day it was, you know? I sort of like that last picture. It looks like Russia!

It is good to be back on my skis. This is my first time this season! I do not feel that lazy saying that because we did not even have snow until a couple of weeks ago. Now I will get out there again.

I am looking forward to seeing my camera's future pictures.

Perhaps I should have an exhibition!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

City lights

Isn't that a cool picture? I should put it on Twitter. I am trying to Tweet more though like everything it is a habit that must be gotten into.

The picture is the trees outside The Buffalo News with the little Christmas lights.

Here is another shot.

And there is this one too. The light is somewhat different. The sky was different. Is this not a cool and brooding picture?

I liked these holiday gizmos you see when you are getting on the Metro Rail.

Fun with a camera! In a way these phones/cameras have changed our lives. You cannot just enjoy a sight. You have to photograph it.

On the other hand it is kind of neat to go over your life and you can see again what you saw on a certain day. And it does not take that much time out of your schedule.

It is funny with the snow now. The landscape is different. The sounds of winter -- the clank and scrape of snowplows. The whirling yellow lights of emergency vehicles. The traffic people on the radio. All the other stuff that Pennario was happy to leave behind when he moved to California as a boy.

You know what, as I told him, I do not mind not moving to California.

I would miss all this!

And this year we get only a couple of months. A few days ago I was still harvesting arugula from my, ahem, garden. Do your worst, you know? By March it will be over. We got two months' free ride.

It will be spring before we know it!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Venite adoremus

"And we're off!" That is what I wrote the other day.


We were not off for long!

Here it is Jan. 3. I am going to have to go fill in the missing day or else this Web log will pretty much scream that I do not have my act together. It is the in thing to double down on something in the New Year, or to do something on a daily basis.

For instance I have a Facebook friend who has vowed to write a poem every day for the month of January! The title of the first poem was "Keep Me Away From The Fridge." It was so catchy that I can actually recite it be heart.

So if he can do that I can do this.

Today for Show and Tell I have pictures of our church Nativity scene. That is it up above! I am continuing my church theme of the other day. Then I will fill in with other stuff.

The picture at the top of the post is there so you may love, as I do, how the lambs are as big as cows.

"A few of the animals are kind of out of scale," laughed one gentleman who was admiring the manger scene at the same time I was. This is up at the front of St. Anthony's to the left of the sanctuary, right by the baptismal font where Leonard Pennario went when he was 2 days old or whatever.

Just in time for Epiphany here are the camels batting their flirty eyes.

Here is a picture of Dorothy who was with me at the scene.

What a merry Christmastide this has been.

And continues to be!

Friday, January 1, 2016

And we're off!

My New Year got off to a late start because of, um, excesses yesterday. I was late to Mass this morning. It being the Solemnity of Mary and the Octave of Christmas, it is a holy day. I made it but not until the Gloria. Glory be!

But I was not alone. At Offertory time we had to sing "Puer Natus in Bethlehem" and we hit one verse and everyone got lost. Some thought we should sing the third verse, others did not. End result: quavery voices and because I do not quit, there is my voice going over the church. I sounded like a 10 year old boy.

Then we get to the end and we are all looking at each other.

I said to the gal next to me: "I see I am not the only one who had a late night last night."

It is hilarious when we goof something up but I feel bad too. I always worry that someone maybe is coming to mass who might normally never be there and that person's faith could be hurt because I MADE A MISTAKE. Because by my stupidity I shattered that fragile sense of the supernatural.

Later at Communion I goofed a line in "Resonet in Laudibus."

I goofed it twice. Twice!! Even though it was nowhere near as complicated as the performance I just posted. Because there is this song by Brahms that uses it and Brahms has the melody a little bit differently. And I have listened to that song thousands of times, literally. Now this melody is wired into my head wrong. I screwed this up last year too, if I remember correctly.

After Mass my friend Dominic asked me for a ride home because we live near each other and his car is in the shop. He had taken the bus to mass. Ha, ha! By the time I got him home I bet he wished he had taken the bus home, too! All the time I had been singing and goofing things up, snow had been falling. My car is terrible in the snow and there I am sliding all over the road. Not to mention I was half asleep.

Oh well. Speaking of Dominic, he has taught me to keep things in perspective. Another time we had all goofed a response and when it was through we all looked at each other rolling our eyes and making faces. Dominic shrugged and smiled.

In his Nigerian accent he whispered: "It is over."

A good thing to remember when you make a mistake. And to remember as we enjoy the fresh start of a new year.

You can always begin again!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Your servant, ma'am

Every time I allow my Crock Pot to make dinner I wonder why I do not grant it permission more often.

It is like having a servant in the house!

You walk in and there is this aroma of your dinner cooking. Every time I do this, which as I said is not often enough, I always manage not to be thinking about it when I walk in the door. Then that aroma hits you.

Today it is Black Bean Soup. I used this basic recipe out of the 400 Calorie Fix diet cookbook. Diet cookbooks by the way have great recipes, in my (extensive) experience. They knock themselves out to impress you. The South Beach Diet cookbooks are excellent.

Anyway, this Spicy Black Bean Soup, to use its formal name, pretty much has you toss together dried beans (2 cups) chopped up onion, carrots or whatever, and a cup of salsa, plus then you cover it with water. I waited until I came back home to add the salsa because I had not soaked the beans as the recipe asked, and I was afraid that with salt they would not soften correctly.

After tossing in the salsa I spiced it up according to another recipe I love, Caribbean Black Bean Soup out of the Vegetarian Times cookbook. I threw in cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper and -- the piece de resistance -- a quarter cup of dark rum.


"Your servant, ma'am." That is the Crock Pot speaking!

The black bean soup is cousin to the white bean soup I wrote about a while ago. My friend Ryan made that white bean soup! That made my day.

Today  it was rather disorienting, because I had time to play the piano and work on my book and whatnot. Clearly I must explore and exploit the Crock Pot more often.

It is not often you find a Crock Pot recipe that is just excellent as I have kvetched before. We will have to make an index of recipes that work.

When you find one, it makes your day!