Saturday, December 9, 2017

The first "The Sound of Music"

 I found this movie, "The Trapp Family." Long story why I found it, but it was "The Sound of Music" before "The Sound of Music."

It was a German movie, made in 1956 and based on Maria von Trapp's memoirs. It's fascinating to see. You don't have the songs, of course. But I was surprised by how well I liked it. I haven't watched the whole thing, I must admit. I watched it until a little bit after their wedding. But still.

The Maria in this movie looks sort of like Julie Andrews. She was a German actress named Ruth Leweurik. Being a classical music nerd I happen to know she was briefly married to my favorite singer, the baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. Watching the movie I see why. What a beautiful actress. She died last year at 91, yikes. But anyway...

This movie is really interesting to see. Scene by scene it is a lot like "The Sound of Music." I have to think it influenced "The Sound of Music." How could it not?

There is a beautiful scene where Maria is leaving the convent and hears the nuns singing the Salve Regina. We sing that Salve Regina a lot at St. Anthony's. It is fun in the wedding scene how the sisters get Maria dressed up and it looks as if the Mother Superior is giving her away.

Also, being that today I put up my Christmas tree, I have to alert you to amazing Christmas footage in this movie. It begins 33 minutes in.

You have Captain von Trapp, up on a ladder, trimming this gigantic Christmas tree. By the way, this Captain von Trapp, I do not know who he is but he is really cute. Really. Actually the scene where he and Maria fall in love is as good as in "The Sound of Music."

Anyway, back to Christmas, you see him up in this ladder, attending to this big tree. Then you have the candles on the tree. And the singing of Christmas carols. All in this breathtaking mansion. Then Christmas Eve with all these presents, and a lavish dinner. ...

Why can't my life be like this??

Immediately I set about putting up my tree and doing the lights just right. Here is a trail of lights leading up to my Christmas tree for the great work of art in progress.

There is no way in the world that I am going to measure up.

But I must try!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Back to the drawing board

I am doing a watercolor challenge. I love these art challenges you find on the Internet, and I have hooked onto one of them.

This is from Doodlewash, an international group of, ahem, watercolorists. I like that they are better than I am. I want to play with the big kids. I did some painting when I was a kid but I have no pretentions. I would like to learn from people who are better at it than I am.

So every day I do a watercolor. It really only takes minutes. The one I did today, Tree, I did in the morning between eating breakfast and making Howard's lunch.

But seriously, you do learn. You try this and you try that and eventually you find something you like. The picture at the top of this post is my painting of, ahem, Holly. That was the prompt the other day.

And before that was "Lights." I was kind of proud of these lights, you know?

OK, so the green one was a little bit whacked. The rest look pretty good.

There is something so relaxing about watercolors. They just know where to go. You dip your brush in water and you dip them in the paint, and then the paints take it from there. In my humble and limited experience.

Also doing something like this ever day reminds you that you can work more artistry into your everyday life. Leonard Pennario told me that when he was a kid he decided that he wanted to enjoy everything he did. This is cousin to that.

For instance last Sunday I enjoyed making my coffee hour signs.

What is next for me? That question is easy to answer.

Tomorrow is "Star."

Another day, another drawing!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

We're putting the tree up ...

... or we should be, anyway!

Driving to the Philharmonic last night, I said to Howard, all the better houses have their Christmas trees up already. Up and down Nottingham Terrace, those trees were sparkling. I cannot remember a prettier Christmas. They all had their trees up.

I do not!

I love putting the tree up. The day I put my Christmas tree up is one of the happiest days of the year. If not the happiest. It depends on what happens the rest of the year.  And it is funny because almost invariably it is just me. Howard is not home yet. I have a new tradition with myself, I put on the Carmen Dragon Christmas album pictured above, and I pour a glass of wine, and I trim the tree, and I am happy.

This year little George and Barbara, my niece and nephew, have been lobbying to be part of my tree trimming. But I do not know about that! I look forward to this date with myself. Well, I could be persuaded.

But anyway...

The day I take the tree down is one of the saddest days of the year. I hate taking the tree down, I just do. I always do it under duress.

I might wind up being one of those Charlie Chaplin people who keep the tree up all year round! My friend Melissa does that. It can be done.

However then you would miss that happy day when you put it up! And that is what I am awaiting right now.

Today was the first Sunday of Advent. I love this day. It thrills me. Cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. There will be signs in the moon and in the stars. It is time for the tree. There are people at church who try to remind me that Advent historically was a time of penance, but I am sorry, that horse...

... is out of the corral and there is no putting him back in.

And so I am seeking to put up my tree. It is just that it has been hovering around 50 degrees and that is too warm. Also it was November. As a friend said, you need it to be December. Now finally it is December.

We have been having caroling practice at my house for several weeks now and so I am thinking it is time.

Perhaps tomorrow is the day!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Walk in the park

It is amazing how just on a normal morning walk you can take inspirational photos!

I am proud of the one up above. It cries out for a quote.

"And I will go unto the altar of God, to God Who gives joy to my youth."

"Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning."

"Tut tut, I think it's going to rain."

"I think that I will never see/A poem lovely as a tree."

(Well, I thought this tree was lovely.)

"Let the sun shine in!"

What can you say, when you're an artist, you're an artist.

I am an artist!

Monday, October 23, 2017

A visit to Mozart

Another thing I did the other day on the funky bike path was, I stopped and said hi to Mozart in Delaware Park.

There is one thing especially I love about where I live and that is that the closest musician memorial to me is Mozart, whose music I love more than anyone's. By the way that bust of Mozart is Buffalo's oldest piece of public art. I like that about Buffalo, that when it came to putting up statues, Mozart was the No. 1 priority. He went up before George Washington did!

As I have pointed out before, Mozart looks a little like Babe Ruth. Well, so what? Maybe they did look alike.

Anyway, there is a website that told me Mozart was the closest to me. And this is also cool: The second-closest musician is ....

..... Who?

... . Hint, he is on Hertel Avenue.

Give up?

It is Jerry Garcia! Another musician I love. Garcia's mural is at Terrapin Station.

Anyway, that is magical about where I live. But Mozart, I usually see him from the expressway. I always give him a smile. The German word for statue is "denkmal," sort of translating to "think a minute." You think for a moment of that person.

I think of Mozart.

And it is a treat to get up close because I do not usually do that.

I took a picture from the funky bike path (actually not so funky when it wends past Mozart):

... and then approached with deference.

Now I have succeeded in emulating those cooking weblogs I hate, that give you a million photos that look almost exactly alike.

But I am sorry, that made my ride on the funky bike path well worth it.

Get close to genius!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The funky bike path

Today I rented one of those Reddy Bikes and took a ride on the funky bike path.

I mean the Scajaquada bike path, that runs parallel to Scajaquada Creek. As Charles Dickens would say, it is the best of times, it is the worst of times. The path gives you great views by the History Museum ....

.... and then you get views such as at the top of this post, where you feel alone in the world and surrounded by graffiti and worry you will be beset by highwaymen.

The path takes a turn and you think: Oh, no, it continues?

I passed a person pushing a shopping cart. And two kids who, all I could think was, they looked like Halloween goblins. Just up to no good, you know? And a couple who, they were having a tense moment. Just standing in the bike path arguing, making up, you couldn't quite figure out what.

The path spat me out on Niagara Street, as I knew it would. I was hoping to find my way to the Riverwalk but I never did. I made it to Niagara Street and could go this way or that way. The signs, if there were any, were vague. Down one way was a threatening-looking guy loitering under a bridge, so I nixed that. Going the other way, I ran into a family coming out and I asked them where the path went. They said it was a dead end and we were laughing about that.

Now this is the greatest. I made my way to Broderick Park and saw this:

Oh no!

That was what I had been hoping to find, a path right by the water. There it was! And it was closed.

But you know what? I had fun.

It reminded me of being a kid, just bombing around, riding down Niagara Street, looking at things. Eventually I had to tell myself, Mary, you have work to do, you can't just go riding aimlessly around Buffalo forever.

I honestly could have kept at it all day!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

My fair share

We are entering the high eating season of the year.

You pass the September Ember Days, and you are into it!

This morning for our St. Anthony's coffee hour I made two pumpkin delicacies. I am sorry if I was jumping the gun a little but I could not help it! I made a pumpkin wreath, one of those big coffee cakes I make with yeast, and I also made a Bundt cake I called Buttercup Rum Cake. There is this amazing recipe, Whiskey Squash Cake, which was the first successful Bundt cake I made a couple of months ago. I riff on it now and this version used rum instead of whiskey, as well as deep orange Buttercup squash.

I assume it was good because it vanished pretty quick!

I have been having a good time with the farm I joined, this CSA. This is the same ol' organic farm I used to belong to, Porter Farms. I just do not remember having as much fun with it then as I have been having this year.

The deal is, they deliver to the office. And so every week, on the appointed day, at the appointed hour, all of us are going downstairs and collecting these bags of produce. It is hard not to smile when you are toting this big bag with collard greens sticking out of it and so it is always a bright and cheery day.

I took the picture up above of one share. That was especially heavy because of the cantaloupe which was like a bowling ball! But it was so sweet and good, worth the long haul across the parking lot.

Here is the share from Sept 7.

I love how the farm says one share does for four people, or for two vegetarians. That Sept. 7 share, I think I ate it pretty much single-handedly in two days! The cantaloupe on the other hand lasted us a week. We ate every bit of it.

This current share included an array of peppers which, I used them for this Mexican cheese soup I made for the coffee hour. The coffee hour sees a lot of the vegetables. A few weeks ago I made yummy white bean soup with greens from the farm.

Bring on the fall eating season.

I am ready!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The aimless, No Goal bullet journal

I keep a bullet journal as I may have mentioned. It grew out of this story I wrote for The Buffalo News on bullet journaling.

Speaking of growing ... The other day I am drawing up my October calendar spread. I wanted it to look sort of brooding and October-ish, so I began doodling a barren tree. That is it, in the picture above! Anyway, I am having fun drawing this tree, la la la la la la. Then I realize...

That is the column where I usually put my goals for the month!

Things to do, stuff I want to get achieved. Such was the case in bright, cheery August.

The goals column is skinny but you would be amazed what you can fit in there. That is, unless you start doodling a big old tree.

I guess I will have no goals for October! October will be the month of No Goal. That is a hockey catchphrase up here in Buffalo, dating from some long-ago game where we were cheated. It applies to me this month.

I will look on the bright side.

October will be fun!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Riding the Reddy

Today I took a break, borrowed a Reddy Bike at Canalside, and rode down to Tifft Farm Nature Preserve.

What fun! I love taking a ride like that, particularly in a sun dress and sandals, which I did today. You get to go over the Ohio Street bridge. I always ride over the grating so I can see the water beneath my feet.

Landscapes like that one up above, I love it.

I want to have a picnic here.

That is the Cotter at left, our 1905 fireboat. Here is another pic I took.

Sometimes I like the take the boat north from downtown, to LaSalle Park. But now I am seeing that south is the way to go. I love the grain elevators, the Old First Ward, the Outer Harbor. There are endless bike paths. Which, those bike paths are not everywhere. Everyone loves to tell you, we are all connected by bike routes. That is not true.

I ride Reddy Bikes so much they lose money on me. I love them so much I did a story on them for The Buffalo News. Plus if I take a ride at lunch time I can skip the gym at night, giving me more time to work on important things.

"Fun!" That is what I exalted, sailing down that ribbon of highway.

It is!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Can stand the heat

This heat wave, I love it! Above is a picture I took of torpid Hoyt Lake.

One of the things I have been doing to celebrate the heat wave is go swimming. The other thing I will get to in a second.

The swimming has been great. No, you do not swim in Hoyt Lake. But there is plenty of other opportunity! The other day, I went to Beaver Island with my brother and my niece and nephew. There were no lifeguards or parking fees because the season is over, at least so they say. Hundreds of people were on the beach, folks of all stripes. All of us unsupervised! It was so peaceful and beautiful.

We kept gloating about it being late September and here we were swimming. Except as George reminded me, we have been swimming at Beaver Island much later in the year than this. We do get beautiful autumns here in Buffalo, or should we say, beautiful summers.

Today I went swimming at LA Fitness but even indoor swimming is wonderful. They have huge windows and it feels so refreshing.

So... what was the other thing I was doing to celebrate the heat wave?

I have had the oven going full blast!!

For our Tridentine Mass coffee hour, I made Orange Cornmeal Cake out of Martha Stewart ...

... and Cocoa Fudge Bundt Cake...

... and one of my signature coffee wreaths, from King Arthur Flour. Howard took all these pictures and he photographed the wreath before it went into the oven. When it came out, it was huge!

The Orange Cornmeal cake was really interesting because you top it with sugar and the sugar forms this crust. The fudge Bundt was a great old Betty Crocker recipe that mixed up all in one bowl.

I will have to remember that.

Along with this heat wave!