Sunday, February 26, 2017

Concerto at Amvets

One of the many highlights of my week was finding Leonard Pennario's Grieg and Rachmaninoff record. He plays Grieg's Piano Concerto and Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with Erich Leinsdorf and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

I found the record at Amvets!

That is it pictured at the top. Study the picture so you will know this record if you see it. But you will not! It is a rare score.

You never find Pennario records at thrift shops, not even his best-selling "Concerto Under the Stars." People hold on to these records. As Howard said they are heirlooms.

And the beautiful thing was, I had stopped into Amvets after work, to chill before I got home. That is a strategy I have had for years. Other people have it too by the way. I always see people in office clothes, walking around looking at stuff, just unwinding.

One woman in office clothes, we got talking a few weeks ago by the cake pans. She was trying to decide between one Bundt pan and another. One was a style I had had my eye on, and I explained to her why it was superior.

Then she bought it! And she went away all happy and beaming. And I was thinking, Why did I talk her into buying that pan??

I wanted that pan!

Oh well, I do not need another cake pan.

But I always need another Pennario record! And it was funny, before finding the record the other day, I had been stressed out, antisocial. I had even been on the fence about staying in Amvets another five minutes. And suddenly everything changed.

In the checkout line I realized: It changes you to be holding a Leonard Pennario record. You become graceful and smart and inspired and you smile.

That is a wonderful thing to happen to you.

And for just 99 cents!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Spring surprise

As soon as my Christmas tree is down I declare it spring. And from then on, I cheer spring on.

The tree came down around Candlemas. Me being a schlep, my wreath is still up. But other people's wreaths are up too. I am not alone.

Still it feels great to feel spring in the air, or imagine I do. That picture up above that I took the other day does not exactly scream spring. And yet... and yet ...

The daffodils have been inching up for a few weeks. Today I spotted the sorrel plant! And I bit into one of the leaves. That sour-lemon taste! That is spring!

And now for the big surprise. Remember those pathetic containers I put into the bishop's weed? They are covered in dead leaves.

Idly I brushed the leaves off this one tub. And lo and behold ...

It was brimming with oregano!

It is not as if I can get everything right. A stick stuck in the pot read "Apple Mint." Perhaps I might see some apple mint later. But for now, oregano! A lot of it! I think the leaves were making the planter into some kind of a greenhouse.

Because I did not have this oregano last summer. But I sure have it now!

Now I can see hope inching up with me like those daffodil shoots. Every year I have garden ambitions. Every year, because I have too many irons in the fire, the grand plans end in chaos.

Oh well.

It makes for good entertainment!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Blaise of glory

After Mass on Sunday we got our throats blessed in accordance with the Feast of St. Blaise. Technically the feast of St. Blaise was Friday, Feb. 3, but you do the best you can, you know?

I was one of the stragglers because I was up in the organ loft. I snapped that picture of a few of the other last folks in line. The line was long! Many many throats were blessed by both Father Justus and our new pastor, Msgr. Joe. That is Father Justus doing the honors in this picture.

One reason I was late to the throat blessing was that after Mass I got gabbing with Josephine, the organist.

"St. Blaise is one of the 14 Holy Helpers," I told her. And I explained how the 14 Holy Helpers are saints turned to since medieval times for specific purposes. There is St. Blaise for the throat. St. Christopher for travel. St. Vitus for, I don't know, St. Vitus Dance. St. Barbara for fever. St. Elmo for, I don't know, St. Elmo's Fire. And I forget the rest, but with a little thought they will come to me.

Josephine said, "Mary, I never would have known that."

I said, "Nobody in the world knows that but me."

Which is true! With the exception of anyone who shared any of our previous 14 Holy Helpers adventures. Those folks would know that St. Blaise is a 14 Holy Helper.

And then. To top things off ....

Today I had to go to the endodontist. And I passed Fourteen Holy Helpers!

It was just like that other time a million years ago when I went to the same endo.

Holy West Seneca, Batman!

The 14 Holy Help is where you find it!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The new January

February is the new January!

It is the fresh fresh start to the New Year. That is how I see it anyway.

January is not all it is cracked up to be, in my experience. You go into it with resolutions and good intentions. You wind up just sitting around, eating chocolate. It is comfy but sleepy.

But then ... February!

You awaken. The year is a twelfth gone! What have you been doing? But now there is this bright new month. Literally bright. Feb. 1 has brought sun. With Valentine's Day. Hot chocolate. (OK, so you do not get away from chocolate.) Ice skating, now that I have learned to love it. New energy. New promise.

Not only that but February happens to be the shortest month. Tight deadlines are great when it comes to getting anything done. The less time the better. Take it from me. I have been to the mountain and back.

It is not too late to make something out of your year!

You can go back to your resolutions starting Feb. 1!

A fresh page in your bullet journal.

A new page in the calendar.

A new start!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

In the bleak midwinter

Technically the Christmas season lasts until Candlemas which is still a few days from now. That means you can still listen to Christmas music.

And it is apt!

I was looking over the photos I've taken over the last few weeks. Bleak, bleak, bleak!

But beautiful, you know?

I took the space age picture up above just today. That was this morning when I pulled into the parking lot at work! And here are a few others.

That was when I was in the car with my friend Sharon. We were working on a story for the Western New York 100 Things series in The Buffalo News.

I took this one in Delaware Park.

It is as if I have a black-and-white camera!

That was when I went ice skating, an event that proved newsworthy. It was part of our 100 Things series. I have been having the greatest time with that.

Back to black and white.

Oops, a little green got in there. How did that happen?

It never ends.

In the bleak midwinter!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


I've been having fun these days shopping at Dollar Tree as part of my everyday errands. One thing I have done is explored Dollar Tree's freezer case.

And behold, good news! You can get great frozen vegetables at Dollar Tree. A whole pound of mixed veg, California Blend or Stir Fry, for $1. That beats what you spend other places. So I picked up a few. I bought the blends, plus a pound of broccoli. You are lucky, you know, to find broccoli for $1 a pound, and here it is for that price all neatly cut up for you.

And speaking of good news ... When I got home something made me look at the bags closely.

These are holy bags!

One of them said, beneath the cooking directions:

"God is strong and can keep you from falling. He can bring you before His glory without any wrong in you and give you great joy." -- Jude 1:24.

That was California Blend speaking. Broccoli Cuts had their own quote.

"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." -- Isaiah 41:10.

It is like the Aldi eggs, where you open the carton and read a psalm! I am telling you, it is the little things like this that can make your day. The Lord speaks to you from unexpected places!

These veggies are from TJ Farms. Let us look them up. I get the idea it is just this generic brand under the umbrella of Flagship Food Group. There is no mention of Scripture.  And yet still, there it is.  Someone is having a little fun, somewhere.

These are the frozen vegetables the Lord has made.

Let us rejoice and be glad!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Journal angst

Zounds, I am getting a late start to the New Year!

Yesterday, and only yesterday, I got around to starting my 2017 Bullet Journal. BuJo, to use the hip abbreviation. I did a story last summer on bullet journals  -- actually the bigger story was this one -- and I actually have kept up the habit, since June. Right on schedule, my old journal ran out, and so it is time for the new.

And so I broke open a sketchbook I bought at Vidler's. I opened it up.

But darn, it is difficult to start a new journal!

Above is a painting of me holding pen in hand and wondering how I should start.

The old journal, it was a book I had bought at a garage sale. Faintly ruled, hard cover, I think I bought it thinking I would give it as a gift, but in the end I used it myself. No one else would have loved this book as much as I have over the last six months, I will tell you that.

But we were casual with each other, this notebook and I. I thought nothing of flipping a page and starting some new list or goal. "Ways in Which I Will Lose 10 Pounds In the Next Two Months." "Books I Need To Read Before the End of the Year." Yeah right as Leonard Pennario would say.

There was a lot in the old journal pertaining to Pennario. And a lot pertaining to church coffee hour. You would think I did nothing but write and bake. Oh wait, I do in fact do nothing but write and bake.

Anyway, the new journal. The paper is heavier. There are no rules. It seems to cry out for something more momentous.

Oh well. That will change. It will get used to tripe and drivel. That is what a journal is for! I will post some pages from it now and then, I was thinking. Other people post their journal pages and I love ogling them so it is time I contributed.

It is kind of exciting now that I think about it.

Welcome, 2017!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

On the third day of Christmas...

Once again we return to our annual crusade. As my friend Ryan put it on Facebook today: It is not two days after Christmas. It is the third day of Christmas!

With which, I baked rum raisin cake.

It is from Cooking Light but it won my approval anyway. There were no errant egg whites. Plus I got to use up the end of a bottle of rum that had just been kicking around. It was not bad rum. There is no such thing as bad rum! It is just that I do not normally drink rum. I cook with it.

While I worked I listened to my Carmen Dragon Christmas LP. La la la la la la la.

Fa la la la la la la.

I have sung the praises before of this Carmen Dragon record. You can tell from listening to it that Maestro Dragon -- his real name was Carmen Dragon -- loved Christmas very much. I bet he would not be satisfied with anyone trying to cut Christmas off on the First Day. Forget that!

Leonard Pennario liked Carmen Dragon and they had Christmas in common, I can see that.

Anyway. This is the third day of Christmas and there are many more to go. From now on, it is the gym every day, because I have to continue my Christmas treats.

It is ridiculous that we have let go of most of Christmas, you know? The Jewish people have Hanukkah and they have held tightly on to their eight days. Christmas folks must do likewise. So there's three months of commercialism beforehand, so what. All the more reason to stretch out the actual holiday and revel in the fruits of your labors.

Speaking of which, back to the Rum Raisin Cake. Zounds, I looked back on my Web log and I mentioned it before! Back in March. 

I wrote that I wanted to make it for church coffee hour and I was planning on making it in loaf pans, not in a Bundt pan as the recipe asked. That picture above, that is from the magazine. It is not from me.

Sure enough, today I made it in two loaf pans. And one loaf will go to church.

And another funny thing, back in March I mentioned eyeing up the Eggnog Coffee Cake recipe, in the same magazine as the Rum Raisin Cake. Sure enough, today too I eyed up that recipe.

I guess I know my own mind.

Merry Third Day of Christmas!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The cat and the tree

I put up my tree on Sunday. It was Gaudete Sunday! That is THE day to put up your tree.

All kinds of people put up their trees. I saw it on Facebook. Jeoffry assisted me in putting up my tree as you can see in the photo above.

After it was up I sent this photo to Howard who put it up on Facebook.

OK, well, things are not perfect. But we are moving into the season!

The day you put up the tree is always one of the happiest days of the year. The day you take it down is, I am sorry, one of the saddest. I hate to take down the Christmas tree! One of these years I will just not do it. It will stay up until next year. Some of my Facebook friends have already taken that route.

I should just leave it up all year! I am a grown-up and this is America.

And Jeoffry would love it!

Monday, December 5, 2016

The clouds roll in

I took these pictures a few days ago when we were on the cusp of winter. Well, we are still on the cusp of winter. We are not quite there yet.

That picture up above was taken in Delaware Park.

We live in the golden era of photography, you know? Anyone can be Ansel Adams. Imagine a world in which anyone who sat down at the piano could be Leonard Pennario!

Here is another picture taken the same day. For some reason I like this. Even though I know there are these two red trees in the middle of the picture, it's not great for the composition, it would have been better if there were two trees on one side and one tree on the other, still, still, still ....

I like this picture.

And this is the one I put on, ahem, Instagram.

I wanted to put the picture up at the top on Instagram but the square format did not work with it. Then I started to like this last picture. I liked the lamppost.

That is one of the things good about our ubiquitous phones. It is fun to go through life with a camera.

It brightens your day!