Saturday, September 14, 2019

The Bosch gets the kabosh

We put the kabosh on the Bosch, b'gosh.

The Bosch stove this is! Not the dishwasher. The Bosch dischwascher -- sorry, you just have to spell it that way, you know? -- is the light of my life. I treat it like gold and buy it expensive rinse aid because it is the one appliance that has not betrayed me.

How did Bosch make such a great dischwascher but blow it with the stove?

Anyway. The saga of the Bosch has been chronicled extensively on this Weblog. It kicked two years after I first bought it, and then, well, it just kept kicking.

Finally I kicked it!

The other day it began leaking gas and that was the last straw. Up until then Howard had been fixing it whenever it broke, which was often. We kept ordering parts. But a gas leak is no joke and so as of today the Bosch was out the door. While I was waiting for the new stove I gave the Bosch the ceremonial kick.

Not long after that the phone rang and it was my Aunt Marce. I told her about the Bosch and how it was finally outta here.

She said, "Well, I hope you gave it a ceremonial burial."

I said: "I did. I kicked it."

Aunt Marce is a wonderful cook and that conversation was a pleasure because I knew that she understood me on a visceral level.

The thing was, that Bosch, it would desert me without a moment's notice. I do my church coffee hour and I could not go on like this, the thing dying on  Friday or a Saturday right when I was prepping for it. It had gotten to the point where it kicked several times a year. What if it kicked on Thanksgiving? Fie on it! Fie!!

So the Bosch got the kabosh.

Because of bad experiences I had had with Orville's over this Bosch, I went with Lowe's this time. Burned by this luxury stove that did me dirt, I am now going with a bare-bones model. It is a no-frilled General Electric with not so much as a clock. Something like this ...

It is just this big blank white stove. No controls. Not only that, it has a broiler drawer. Down at the bottom! I could not believe that.The last time I had a broiler drawer down at the bottom of the stove, I think I was in college.

When I realized that what I thought was the warming drawer was actually the broiler, I could not stop smiling. It is like memory lane! In my college apartments, we had these ancient Laurel and Hardy appliances, and the stove always had the broiler in this bottom drawer. I had forgotten all about that.

Well, you must excuse me now, but I have an Italian pork loin braising slowly on the front burner of my new stove.

A new day dawns!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

The new Aldi

There is a glitch with the system tonight and it would not let me upload the pictures I wanted to upload. The only thing I could get to work was "Upload pictures from blog." So I did that and I saw the picture up above and I posted it.

On account of you cannot have a blog post without a picture!

What I wanted to report on was, our new Albrecht Discount reopened after its remodeling. And I went to it!

It is still a work in progress. It still managed to be a bit woebegone even with its remodeling. I think it needs to fill out a bit more. I have been to Aldis in worse neighborhoods than mine and they have looked better.

Also I could not find what I was looking for. It took me forever to find coffee and when I did, they were out of the Beaumont brand, the cheap brand, that I always buy. I had to settle for the 100 Percent Colombian. Which, I do not mind trying it, because I might like it. But still.

There were no good markdowns.

The checkout was slow. Lots of people in line. O look! The blog is letting me post a picture I took.

What other pictures can I post?

I guess I was not in a big enough hurry to catch these limited-time specials.

The view across the store. You see what I mean? It still looks kind of lackluster.

Another picture I took. Photography is sure easier than sketching!

I should have taken more pictures. But once in Price-Rite I was reprimanded for taking pictures. That was funny because I was taking admiring pictures of their spice department. I love their spice department and I wanted to tell the world. Plus, how can a store tell you not to take pictures? You are allowed to take pictures.

Ever since then I err on the side of caution. I do not like conflict.

But next time I go to this Aldi I will be bold and I will take more pictures. Perhaps it will have changed!

Perhaps the Limited Time Better Hurry case will be better stocked. Either that or perhaps I will be earlier.

Perhaps the Beaumont Coffee will be in stock.

Perhaps the checkout lines will be shorter.

I cannot wait to find out!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Summer in the city

As I write this, thunder is booming outside and rain is pouring down. The cat is in the window, fascinated.

We have been having this wonderful summer of weather and this sudden storm bears it out. It is like Camelot. The rain can never come till after sundown.

This evening I got on a bike and went to our historic Buffalo tavern, Ulrich's. I sketched Ulrich's from across the street. I had only about an hour before it began to get dark and I got back on the bike and pedaled home. Before I left I took the picture up above, just for reference. Tomorrow I will post my sketch. It is awesome! Well, I was happy with it, I will say that.

While I was drawing I was thinking: Grover Cleveland drank in that tavern! Odds are my great-grandfather drank in that tavern!

Did my great-grandfather know Grover Cleveland? That is a question to ponder.

When I was nearing my house it was the most amazing thing. There were people everywhere. Kids were swinging on the swings across the street from my house. Couples were walking with baby carriages. People were walking their dogs. All along the street you saw people on the sidewalks, people on their porches.

The city was alive!

It is like this all summer but especially in the last days of summer. The motorcycles too are roaring down the streets. Writing that, I am all of a sudden affectionate toward them. Everyone feels the summer is leaving.

We must enjoy it while we can!

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The art of Kmart

I did another Buzz column -- yikes, what is this, week five?

I cannot believe I can be this consistent! Of course miracles happen when someone is holding you to a deadline and Howard is. I am like a trained horse. I need deadlines.

One thing I loved about this week's column is I got to work in my sketch of Kmart, up above, which I am crazy about. Urban sketching at its finest!

Kmarts are falling right and left but ours here in North Buffalo has been dodging the bullets rather well. I did the above picture from my car on a cold day last winter.

Kmart is not Monet's pond of water lilies but it is something. I loved drawing the carts. I always love the details.

I did the Kmart sketch for my friend Ryan who loves Kmart but I would have drawn it in any case and Ryan knows that.

One day I will paint Kmart in the style of Monet, Van Gogh, and John Singer Sargent.

That reminds me.. I may have mentioned, I have that kind of New Age-y habit of writing my goals, every morning. You write things in the present tense, as if they have already happened. And lo, it comes to pass! At least that is the idea.

Every day I write: "I draw and paint like John Singer Sargent. I play the piano like Leonard Pennario."

Now we shall wait and see!

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Castle in the air

I just did my fourth weekly edition of the Buzz Column! It is my new weekly sketch diary modeled after the column I did for years for The Buffalo News.

I realize I am falling back into my old ways!

Just today I caught myself emailing notes to myself for the next go-round. I always used to do that.

I began jotting down a few things people told me.

It is nice because along with working on the book I am working on, it reminds me that I write.

It also allows me to track what I have done. This week I made the main drawing the sketch I did a few days ago of the Connecticut Street Armory.

When I drew the Connecticut Street Armory I had special fun drawing the bus shelter. I love the contrast between the big medieval-looking castle and the mundane NFTA shelter. The people on their phones.

Why is everyone always on a phone, you know? This morning I was walking around the park and you know how you get when your mind wanders, you can get brooding over something. I was brooding over I forget what, and I passed one of the million people you pass who are on their phones. And suddenly I brightened.

I said to myself, "At least I'm not oblivious."

Now that I look at that picture I drew, it is like one of those Charles Addams cartoons you used to see in the New Yorker. These people are on their phones oblivious to this giant castle rising over their heads. It is as if they did not know it was there.

Looking at it with that in mind it is almost as if I dreamed it. What an amazing, absurd creation that place is.

At least I'm not oblivious!

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The most beautiful German word ...

... is, admittedly, an honor for which the competition is keen.

There is Busgruss, or "bus greeting," referring to when two buses pass and the drivers wave at each other. I think that one was the result of a contest.

There is "schuft."

There is my dad's favorite German word, "Auspuhfsrohr," which means exhaust pipe. I am not sure I spelled it right but I sure know how to say it -- "Owss - poofs -- roar!"

I love all those words, love them from the bottom of my heart. But now I have a word that eclipses them all, at least for now.

It is Balkongestaltung!

I do not even know exactly what that means but I think it means "balcony porn." There is a Pinterest board with that title that I have fallen in love with.

Having given that link I will poach from that board freely.

Can you stand it?

It is not just the porches themselves. It is the landscapes that surround them. These high rises. The architecture.

There are whole movies you can watch. This is my favorite. It is like "Gone With the Wind." I have already watched it three times.

I mean, 4:59. Where in the world is that?

5:13. Sometimes I just stop the film and stare.


7:23 is one of my favorites. I like the evening pictures.

7:39. What a vista!

I am trying to decorate my back porch as I may have mentioned. The month of August is going to be a big one for me. There is much work to be done. I need to get a lot in order before September.

Hence my porch. I want it to be a haven of relaxation for when I need it.

I began researching ideas for low-budget things I could do. Note: I realize that if you have a small porch, as I do, it helps to use the word "balcony." Otherwise you get pictures of huge wraparound porches with tons of furniture and rocking chairs and tables and everything. "Small Balcony" does the trick.

Now I am beginning to wonder: Who needs that haven of relaxation when I can just look at these pictures?

Take me away!

Saturday, July 27, 2019

The Warming Drawer

So today my life felt as if it were spinning out of control and so I cleaned the house.

That is what it takes for me to clean the house!

One thing I did was scrub the Bosch stove. I always mean well, intending to clean the Bosch daily or at least once a week. Which, I never do that. And so it gets dirty.

I felt like the gal in the picture at left! Except my stove is a Bosch. And it was no so easy to scrub as the oven in the picture. I want that oven.

I was scrubbing the Bosch and I did the range part of it. And then what I did was, I pulled out the Warming Drawer. That is the drawer at the bottom where you keep all your baking pans.

The drawer was unbelievably scuzzy!

I mopped it down. I mopped down the drawer where it comes out, and then I swabbed down the entire drawer. The drawer was unbelievably dirty. I took all the pans out of it and washed them. Then I thought ...

Why don't I leave this empty, as the Warming Drawer?

What is a Warming Drawer, anyway?

Bosch says it is to keep meals warm before you serve them.

It would be nice to see if the Warming Drawer works. There is always something on the Bosch that does not work and right now that is the broiler. If the Warming Drawer worked that would be a plus for the stove. I have never used the Warming Drawer but it has never been empty so I could use it. Perhaps if it were empty and clear of all the pans you store there, I could use it.

Whatever, now the Warming Drawer is empty, and clean.

Perhaps I can use it now!

Friday, July 26, 2019

We discover Columbus

Yesterday my friend Meghan and I went to Columbus Park and drew the statue there. I sent Howard the photo up above and Howard posted it on Facebook with the title, "On this day, Mary discovered Columbus."

Which I love! But it goes deeper than that.

You never know when that statue of Columbus will be gone!

Every year Columbus is back in the limelight on Columbus Day. He has been dodging bullets for years. Somebody does something, douses the statue in red paint, vandalizes it somehow. He stays standing there stoically, handsome in his Renaissance pantaloons, holding the territory. Every year, after Columbus Day, there is a kind of thanksgiving. Columbus lives to see another year.

Whether that will happen again is uncertain. I understand a sign is nearby saying Columbus is to be removed. I did not see that sign.

Who is going to get the statue?

Can I have it?

Just a few weeks ago we all saw the reproduction of the Santa Maria in the harbor and we all loved it, as you can see in my picture.

About the statue of Columbus, can we all just get our heads together here?

People demanding this statue come down should take a step back and admit something -- that they do not know the first thing about it. Nobody does.

We all would have to do our homework and go back and read Columbus' original letters which, who has the time to do that. We cannot believe everything we read these days. Heck, we cannot believe anything we read. We have to check it out for ourselves. We have to do research and read centuries-old documents.

Until we have a chance to do that, can we just leave the statue up? Just an idea.

It is a beautiful statue. The foundation reads that it was dedicated by the Federation of Italian-American Societies and by the Public-Spirited Citizens of the City of Buffalo. That is a description I love.

Columbus Park was beautiful when we were there. A woman was sitting on a bench reading a book. Hours passed and she was still there and so were we. It was quiet.

Except -- I almost forgot this -- this big brown-and-white bird kept swooping around, making this big loud call I never remember hearing. It was magical, this day, this place.

I want this place to stay, as it is. With the statue.

I want Columbus to stay so I can sketch him again!

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Ron Moss -- a boss, and a very sad loss

A sad thing has happened. We have lost Ron Moss.

People who have read this Web log for a while will know that Ron Moss, pictured above on my couch, is Howard's cousin. He had a long and colorful career as a cab driver and more recently was known for pushing shopping carts around town. Always he asked you a million personal questions. Always he made you laugh.

There was a graveside service this morning and I could not believe it, Ron Moss no longer among us. It was a Jewish service and it did not pull punches. I threw a shovelful of dirt on the coffin like in "Doctor Zhivago." I was not sure if I was supposed to participate both as a woman and as a Catholic but I went ahead and participated.

You almost had to, or you would not believe it.  Half way through the brief ceremony Howard's phone rang and he whispered, "Maybe it's Moss."

It would be like Moss for it to be Moss, that is for sure!

Anyway. Back home from the cemetery I went onto the Web log and began looking up Ron Moss stories. I got teary reading them. Each was more loony than the last.

There was the time Ron Moss pushed a gift under the fence of Howard's garage. 

Moss's words of wisdom: "It can be postponed!"

Ron Moss Participates in City Crackdown. I remember Howard wrote that headline.

There is this classic:

Moss cracks up a Metro Bus full of people.

A list of Moss-isms, inspired by him yelling obscenities at an officer.

And the time Moss appeared at Occupy Buffalo.

One story I found and really loved did not even directly involve Moss. Moss ...

was not there. This story was about Howard on a patio wearing a Moss T-shirt and -- well, read it, I insist. was laughing and laughing.

In between these highlights were lots of littler things.

 A scheme we had to get Ron Moss operating a ride service.

The time we considered having Ron Moss living in the Tillinghast Frank Lloyd Wright house.

Moss getting his flu shot and asking everyone at CVS if they knew "union boy" Len Lenahan.

Just a garden-variety sighting of Moss and his shopping cart on Hertel was classic.

As was Ron's initial appearance in "Cast of Characters," way back in 2008.

The way you could always threaten to put people or businesses who annoyed you or cheated you onto Ron Moss's daily calling list. I considered that once.

The picture I took of the back of Ron Moss's head.

One thing makes me happy on this sad day. I am very happy I have kept this online diary all of these years. It started out as a way to promote my book about Leonard Pennario but it took on a life of its own. It took on my life, is what it did. Because of it I have all these things written down that I would have otherwise forgotten. Speaking of which here is Moss with my brother George.

Howard has posted a million pictures of Ron Moss on the Weblog over the years. He used to write these funny captions for them. They are all over the place including in many of the posts I just linked to.

This post is too long already but I am telling you, start a blog. Do it for yourself. Don't worry if nobody reads it. When my mother passed I loved all the stories I had about her, because of writing in this more or less every day. (I did that for a long time and am planning on doing that again.)

You remember the big occasions on your own but you forget all the little everyday things, the little conversations you had, the funny things that made you laugh. When you lose someone you still have that and I am telling you, it is a big comfort, and it is fun, and it makes you smile.

It almost makes me think that when Howard's phone rang this morning it really could have been Moss.

Ron Moss lives!

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Back to the Clinton Bailey Market

For a few years now, certain of my friends and I have had our eye on this recipe from The Joy of Cooking. It is Tutti Frutti!

It is also known as Brandied Fruit as this article states. And its real name is Rumtopf which in German means "Rum Pot."

"The Joy of Cooking" is a great go-to German cookbook. It is loaded with German recipes because the Rombauers who wrote it were German. Another thing I like about the Rombauers was Erma Rombauer was friends with the conductor George Szell. You have to figure that being into classical music on that level she knew who Leonard Pennario was. I like that in a person.

The Rombauers named their Rumtopf recipe Tutti Frutti Cockaigne, named for their summer home. They would attach that name "Cockaigne" to their favorite recipes.

That is something I hope is not being lost. In those formal old Gourmet magazines people would write in letters with their family recipes, or recipes they had come up with and loved and they would attach their last name to the recipe. For instance if I came up with a Rumtopf recipe of my own it would be Rumtopf Goldman.

That has a ring to it!


Today I went to the Clinton Bailey Market to shop for our Rumtopf.

I took a break in my shopping to sketch the fire station across the way. That is a picture of it up above! Other than that I shopped diligently.

I bought strawberries and raspberries and cherries and apricots. You are supposed to start with your liquor -- rum or brancy -- and then add these fruits one at a time as they come into season. It will be ready by Christmas. Although traditionally you are allowed to take a nip here and there starting on the first Sunday of Advent.

And so it begins.

Our friend Zach has come up with a crock for it so that is our green light. Zach found the crock at Clarence Antiques. He paid $40 for it. He is investing in Tutti Frutti!

The crock is with Zach and it is big and heavy and hard to move so I will have to get him the fruit. Meanwhile I tossed the strawberries with sugar and stored them gently in the fridge. The cherries can wait a day or two. They are stored carefully. They do not need to be pitted. That is what I read.

It is funny reading anything about how to make something like this because online recipes are all full of warnings. No one wants to trust in old science. They are always throwing in this or that complication and finally I said, you know what? People have been making this for centuries. It works. It is not rocket science. You do not have to be Wernher von Braun to make Rumtopf!

The one important thing is the fruit has to be perfect. That is what The Joy of Cooking said.

"Use only perfect fruit." We were all laughing about that.

I have a feeling the Rumtopf will be fine no matter what!

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!

Monday, July 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!

Sunday, July 14, 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!