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!




Wednesday, April 17, 2019

My mother, Our Lady, and me

No one reads my Web log these days. I do not promote it -- at least not now, because after letting it go for a long time, I am giving myself time to find my voice again. Long story short, I can write freely.

It is funny reading back on it. There are all these little things I would have completely forgotten had not I written them down. I would recommend this to anyone. Particularly I love it when it comes to my mother, gone now for about six years. I would never have remembered half the situations we were in together or half the things we talked about. Half? More like 90 percent, I think, I would have forgotten.

My mom was with me twice when I saw Notre Dame Cathedral, my preoccupation for the last few days.

I think of her in Holy Week because I remember how we would not only go to sales together, as shown in the picture above, we would go to church together. I would often go, I must confess, a little unwillingly. But I did go with my mother and I am happy for that now. And I would rise to the occasion.

There is something strange about Holy Week. You feel a little hushed, a little off. This year it coincides with Passover which I imagine has a similar effect on our Jewish brothers and sisters, to use a phrase Catholics use a lot.

Plus there was the whole Notre Dame Cathedral business. It totally threw me off kilter. Over the past 24 hours though it has been not so bad. Here are a few more things that have struck me...

1. When they went into the church to see what was what, the votive candles were still burning! One friend wrote last night on Facebook, "I am going to sleep with the lights on."

2. Someone thought she saw Jesus in the flames. The picture she cited went around social media and was studied by many. It was discussed on the radio.

3. In the trad Catholic community it has been noted that the high altar survived unscathed while the post-Vatican II so-called altar was buried under rubble. That "so-called" is my terminology. Do not blame the others!

Poor Notre Dame. But perhaps its story is not over.

I have my favorite conspiracy theories which perhaps I will air at a later date. Do not blame me! I ask questions. I am a newspaper girl and as we say in our business, "If your mother says she loves you, check it out."

Did my mother love me? I have to ask that question to bring the post full circle.

I better read back on this blog to make sure.


Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The smoke clears in Paris


I am feeling a lot better about Notre Dame with the news that the relics have been saved and the ancient walls are standing and money is coming in to rebuild it.

Still probably not as much money as we here in Buffalo were given to put an addition on our Albright-Knox Art Gallery. As Howard would put it about the gallery, "What are they making it into, Dallas?" But still, impressive.

I am not going to be one of those Polyannas who go, "Oh, what the heck, all these churches all go through a lot, they're always burning," etc. This is the 21st century when we have a lot more firefighting resources than we had 500 years ago. The cathedral is in ruins. I still cannot help crying seeing video of Parisians on their knees in the streets, Rosaries in their hands, singing songs to Our Lady, or should I say Notre Dame, as they watched the cathedral burn and feared this was the end.

But at the same time that makes me think that good things can come out of bad and one thing we might see in Paris is increased faith. It is unfortunately human nature to take a church like this for granted until all of a sudden you think it will be taken away from you.

Notre Dame heard their prayers and interceded and God spared the cathedral, is all I can think.

A few other good things ...

1. You have to love that amazing daredevil priest who ran into the burning cathedral, damn the torpedoes, to save the Blessed Sacrament and the Crown of Thorns. Father Fournier. I am a fan.

2. Who knew that Notre Dame was in possession of the Crown of Thorns? I did not, I will tell you that, and it blows my mind. We have all learned things out of this. Apparently King Louis IX bought it in Byzantium back in the day for some gigantic sum of money.

3. And you have to love the priest for dashing to get the Blessed Sacrament as well, for having his priorities more straight than I would probably have them under such pressure.

4. It is great to hear news readers on TV talking of the tunic of St. Louis and other obscure medieval matters of faith.

5. The organ seems to have made it.

6.  Can I add something Buffalo? Reading back on what I wrote yesterday when I was in pieces, something else cool strikes me. I was irritated, as I wrote, at the long lines for confession, because I realized early in the day I would not get my chance, and I had to come back later. But upon reflection, reading back, it hit me ...

... There were lines for confession! How cool is that?

Maybe it will be that way in Paris. Maybe they are already lining up.

I would, if I were they.

Monday, April 15, 2019

The burning of Notre Dame


The burning of Notre Dame Cathedral -- as I said to a friend, there are no words.

The news came to me, as news like this does, in the middle of a hurried and mundane day. I was just coming from the dentist -- which, incidentally, was supposed to be today's story, and a great story it is, but it will have to wait. I had just gone to Albrecht Discount -- another story that will have to wait for another day -- and I got back in the car to head downtown to St. Michael's to go to confession because I had tried to go before the dentist but the lines were too long. As I turned onto Main Street from the Aldi parking lot I turned on the car radio and that was when I heard.

I could not, cannot believe it.

I have been to Notre Dame, thank God, but you just cannot imagine a world with it gone. As I put on Facebook it makes you wonder if the wheels really have come off in Europe.

As I wrote to someone on Facebook, what in the world kind of carelessness could have caused this?

This is Notre Dame! As in the old painting up above. As in a thousand old paintings. People over almost a thousand years have looked up at it, have walked in its shadow, have admired its beauty.

How could this have happened?

I guess it is best if it were an accident because then there is nobody to blame directly. But an accident is ominous in its own way. Perhaps as a friend said it was miraculous that Notre Dame never burned before. But the fact remained, it never did.

I have always thought of Notre Dame as a kind of cousin of Germany's Cologne Cathedral. As I told a friend, you can picture the two of them going through the centuries together. They were reminders of how although their respective nations were often warring, there was this faith in common.

It is hard not to see it as a metaphor, as some kind of warning. I am feeling this especially acutely because yesterday for the first time I saw "The Passion of the Christ," the Mel Gibson movie. That was one reason I was on my way to confession, that I was making it such a priority. I had these images in my head. I was thinking of times when I had laughed when I should not have laughed and mocked things I should not have mocked and in general behaved with stupidity and disrespect and that is why I was heading to confession. It is like what I have heard happened when people saw "The Exorcist" -- they went to confession. "The Passion of the Christ" had some stuff in it that can make you think of "The Exorcist." That is something too for another day. The point is, I had been upset this morning when the confession lines were too long and were moving too slowly and I had to get to the dentist. I had made up my mind to go back later.

Then I hear this.

Let me tell you, I not only went to confession, I stayed for the entire Mass!

Where, I should mention, they prayed for the burning cathedral. The priest mentioned it during the Prayer of the Faithful, and I was so grateful he included it.

It is just unbelievable, in this day and age. I know, churches have always burned through history, but we have better equipment now, and better fire detection, and better everything.

Well, not better everything. Sometimes you have to wonder.

Today I wonder. It is just so ominous, so unthinkable, that cathedral in ashes.

Well, I am talked out. I was writing things on Facebook about it and Facebook friends, so many of them are such beautiful people, and they were chiming in with thoughts and sympathy and their own grief -- not just Christians, either, but other people, too, who sent their love. They made me feel good that I was not alone and we went back and forth and back and forth and on and on, as you can tell from me writing here repeatedly, "As I said to a friend...." Now I have a kind of emotional hangover from it all. I guess I should let it go. I guess I have to let it go.

But tough day, you know? That was how my sportswriter friend Budd Bailey put it. Sportswriters have a way of distilling things to their essence.

Tough day!


Sunday, April 14, 2019

She takes the cake


So, yesterday, my baking marathon, it was worth it!

Good thing I did it! Because we had over 50 people at coffee hour.

We needed that food!

It is funny because it is hard to predict what kind of crowd we will have. I brought two Crock Pots and I felt stupid, doing that. I thought: It is Palm Sunday, the Mass will be long considering the procession and the Passion and everything, no one will come.

However!

As if in a dream I saw everyone heading for the hall. Which makes me very happy. If there is one thing I hate it is seeing people getting into their cars and heading for home instead of to coffee hour.

Here is another thing that made me happy. Everything went smoothly with my friend Margaret doing a lot of the set-up ...


... and I was able to make the tail end of the Palm Sunday procession. Here I had been thinking I would miss all of it. I kind of gave up on it and perhaps that calmed me down because I was resigned to that. I worked calmly getting things together, no hurry, and lo and behold, there I was, in the procession. Not for all of it, but for some of it. That was neat.

There was one other year when I was late and experienced the procession from the inside out. Now THAT was really cool.

I stood there in the church with my usher friend Mike and we waited in silence. It was Mike's job to open the door when he heard the knock.

The priest raps on the door. That is how it has gone for centuries and so we were upholding this ancient tradition. We waited, not knowing when the procession would arrive.

And all of a sudden, the knock!!

And we opened the door. And Father Justus was standing there, surrounded by pomp and circumstance and all the parishioners behind him in this great procession.

I was telling my usher friend Joe today, I cannot believe traditions like that have been lost in the modern Catholic Church. I cannot believe I did not grow up with them. I was deprived.

I should sue!! Because there is nothing like this. It is beautiful and magical. Better late than never, you know, that I have come to experience it.

That and, I got to hear the lines about the horns of the unicorns.

A perfect Palm Sunday!