Sunday, December 9, 2018

Baby, it's cold outside!

My Christmas tree is not yet up. Yet I have a Christmas song on the brain.

What song, you ask? The same song that is on everyone's brain. "Baby, It's Cold Outside."

The more you hear that it's banned, the more you keep thinking about it!

It kind of bugged me how people are suddenly condemning this song. My sister even told me last week she had always thought it was kind of creepy. All these years, she never told me she thought that song was creepy.

You know what I think the problem is? People aren't taking the melody into account. It is this sweet and flirtatious tune. As I said to Howard the other day, if you are going to go down this road, ignore the music and ban things because words are offensive, there goes half of opera.

Certainly you could kiss this duet goodbye.

We did a little research into "Baby, It's Cold Outside," because it was on our minds.

I did not know it was by Frank Loesser, who wrote the musical "Guys and Dolls." Don't say that too loudly. "Guys and Dolls" will be next on the chopping block, because of the demeaning term "dolls."

I did not know it won the Academy Award.

One more funny thing, if you look up the YouTube clip of the movie "Neptune's Daughter" which featured the song, first you see the guy trying to get the girl to stay, and then you see the girl trying to get the guy to stay.

"Neptune's Daughter" must get its name because it starred Esther Williams, the famous synchronized swimmer. A romance featuring a synchronized swimmer and the song "Baby, It's Cold Outside" ...?

I had not known any of this. Well, neither does anyone protesting the song. They're going to be protesting me soon, because now thanks to them I've got the song on my brain, and just like the gal in the picture up above, it's not going anywhere anytime soon.

It's in, and it's got to come out.

Baby, it's cold outside!

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Fun with Early Times

A few days ago I had occasion to go through a bunch of photos. I mean, I scanned several years' worth of photos I had taken with my phone. Long story what I was looking for, but the upshot of it was, it hit me ...

Almost all my photos fall into one of just several categories.

The cat. (Speaking of categories.)

Views of Buffalo -- Delaware Park, downtown, and other locations. It is a funny thing now. Something strikes you as pretty or dramatic, and you have to snap a pic.

Wow, how the months pass! That was not that long ago.

The third category is things I am baking or have baked for church coffee hour. I did not realize I have taken so many hundreds of pictures of cakes and pastries and whatnot. You cannot have too many, that is for sure!

With which, above is the Whiskey Squash Cake I made for today's gathering. My friend Joe at church is a master gardener and he grew these mega-squashes, five or six of which I inherited. I have a way of inheriting Joe's stuff. In that picture of Jeoffry up above, of Jeoffry looking out the window, those are Joe's TUCO puzzles. Well, they came from him. They are mine now.

But back to the squash. They looked like Delicata Squash only much, much bigger. I could find no hint of how to cook them so I roasted one of them at 350 degrees while other things went in and out of the oven.

It may have stayed in the oven a bit too long, however, not a bad thing. The squash's skin was so crisp and roasted that it just fell away.

You know what I hate? The word doneness. So I will not use it here. I will just say that the squash was well done. And in the cake it married nicely with Early Times whiskey.

Ha, ha! I always laugh thinking of that. My brother George and I were once on one of our road trips going God knows where, and we went through Kentucky, and we kept seeing that the official whiskey of the Kentucky Derby that year was Early Times. We would always laugh at the billboards because all we could think was Early Times meant that you drank it at 6 in the morning.

Baking the whiskey into a cake lets you enjoy it politely at, well, early times. This cake was gone before I could taste it.

I'll have to roast another mega-Delicata!

And uncork, again, that bottle of Early Times.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Farewell to Cooking Light

The magazine Cooking Light is folding and I seem to be the last person in the world to know. This despite my longtime subscription which I have reported on at great length over the time I have been keeping this, ahem, chronicle.

Our subscriptions are being replaced with subscriptions to Eating Well. I already subscribe to Eating Well so we will have to see how this sorts out. Oh (Eating) well....

I suspected many times that Cooking Light was circling the drain.

There was the issue in 2010 that, all it did was yell at you.

There was the Thanksgiving of the "cooked plants."

And my suspicion that the magazine was trying to get me addicted to breadsticks.

I get the idea they repeat and recycle a lot of recipes. Just now I opened the Farewell Issue at random and it opened to "Shrimp and Grits." I know I have seen versions of that before.

The magazine irritated me to the last. There is that word "gut" unattractively used literally, as in the illustration above.

Gut ist nicht gut! When that word first surfaced maybe five years ago I knew right away it was here to stay, and sure enough.

Yet as I have written before, the price kept dropping, and I kept capitulating, and I do look forward to the monthly thump of the magazine in the mailbox.

I like pretending I am organized and crossing off the recipes as I make them.

I like the food photography. I liked this one editor, Ann Taylor Pittman. And the magazine's most recent makeover -- the last of dozens -- looked good.

Plus, I just like the excuse to consume.

I'll have to find another!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Feast of All Hallows

Today after church we celebrated the Feast of All Hallows. The kids all dressed up as the saints of their choice. And they paraded in, and took the stage one by one, as the adults sat around enjoying the show with our coffee and donuts, not to mention quiche and soup and bagels.

We have done this for five years now. Every year it gets a little bit letter. This year a sound system played "When the Saints Go Marching In" as the kids paraded in. It also played during the Musical Chairs game that followed. There was also a Halo Toss.

My nephew Georgie participated. He was St. Matthew. I was proud of him. He got up there in his robes and proclaimed that St. Matthew, being a tax collector, was the patron saint of tax collectors and accountants.

The littlest saint was St. Maurice. He led the pack, carried by his mother because he was so small. He sported an amazing Roman helmet and armor. I had never heard of St. Maurice before but he was a Roman commander who was martyred.

St. George and St. Michael were very popular because boys got to put on armor to portray them. A couple of chubby little girls dressed as nuns. St. Therese was popular. Surprise choices included St. Apollonia, the patron saint of dentists and teeth, and St. Dymphna, patron saint of insomniacs and the mentally ill. Alas, wee St. Dymphna arrived too late to the party because her family had some commitment in Niagara Falls that had tied them up.

It was a hallowed morning, I will say that! And afternoon. Our coffee hours often go into the afternoon and this party drew a big crowd and no one was in a hurry to leave.

There is an All Hallows High School, how cool is that?

I hope they name their basketball team the Deathly Hallows. How can they resist?

And in London there is the medieval All Hallows church, pictured above.

What a look! Apparently it is surrounded by modern office buildings. Imagine, you are looking for the office where you are to begin your temp job, or see your accountant (with appropriate prayers directed toward St. Matthew, of course) .... and then this.

This church where you have to believe King Arthur attended Mass!

But anyway. Back to our All Hallows celebration. I floated the idea, and it quickly gained a large following, that next year we should take an adjacent Sunday and do Grown-Up Saint Day. That is when all the grown-ups will dress as saints and say in a couple of sentences who this saint was. Plus from experience we can talk about how this saint has come through for us.

What saint will that be for me?

I had better start planning now!

Monday, October 22, 2018

The ghostliest statue at Forest Lawn

There is this statue at Forest Lawn Cemetery that is just so --

... Well, let us say, atmospheric.

I do not want to say spooky. It would not be fair to the family whose memorial includes the statue. The family happens to be the Pratt family. The memorial is one of the highlights of Forest Lawn. It is, so scholars say, a prime example of esteemed Victorian funeral art.

But the finish has worn away from the central figure, resulting in that vision above. Here, another view.

This ....

... was easier to draw, I will tell you that right now.

The Pratt memorial which you may read about here dates to the 19th century. It is not as old as you think. The first burial took place in 1872.

There are gargoyles all over the place at the Pratt memorial too. I have to say I do not quite get the gargoyle thing, when it comes to what is supposed to be your serene final resting place. Who could rest easy with this ...

... over your head?

(The gargoyles at the Pratt monument looked a lot like that one.)

Yet Samuel Fletcher Pratt sleeps peacefully as far as anyone can tell. I have not seen him, not on any of my explorations of that cemetery.

I will have to go back just to make sure.

That, and to have another try at drawing that statue!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Delaware Park in the dark

We have a little heat wave going here in October in Buffalo. It reminds me of other Octobers that were very warm. It happens!

But after tonight the temps are supposed to fall into, well, fall. Big time.

With which, tonight I took the Huffy Harvard Limited on what might be its last spin this year -- although, who knows. I pedaled aimlessly around North Buffalo a bit and then, when it was getting dark, I swung twice around the Ring Road of Delaware Park.

It is a kick to go into Delaware Park in the last warm days. Last night I went walking around and even after it was dark, I mean really dark, the park was still full of people. It was as if it were 3 p.m. Kids were zooming past on scooters. Families were camped on the lawn. The basketball courts and the exercise area continued to play host to nonstop action. Speed bicyclists were racing around the park with their helmets and strobe lights. Those bicyclists are kind of annoying, you know? But still.

Fun to see everyone there! I took that picture above, by the way, when the sun was going down. I hate to see that evening sun go down!

Tonight was the second night and I did not stick around quite as long, but the place was jumping as it was last night. There is a kind of desperation in the air now because here it is 80 degrees but tomorrow, so they say anyway, will be different. Motorists were extra obnoxious. Radios were loud. Motorcycles were roaring around by the million. It was enough to make you think ....

.... almost enough to make you think....

.... maybe it is time for fall, after all.

No. I did not say that.

But almost.

Monday, October 8, 2018

A poisonous prompt for #Inktober

Today we went for another family picnic. This is in the grove we went to when we were kids at Emery Park. It was a beautiful day! I took the above picture while we were playing croquet.

Every time we go for a picnic we get a little bit better at it. Today we were more in order with our dishes and our tablecloths. The food was great. My sister made a salad with all kinds of good stuff and I made a red cabbage salad with walnuts and cheese and my brother George grilled pork loin and hot dogs. I brought Fuji apples I had scavenged and my sister Katie and brother-in-law David brought mushrooms they had scavenged. They are great at mushroom foraging and brought wonderful mushrooms that we threw on the grill.

I told David about these alarming orange mushrooms I saw in Delaware Park this morning.

I asked him if they were poisonous and sure enough, my instincts were right. Those are Jack-O-Lantern mushrooms, David said, and they are deadly!

That settles it. I will have to ink a picture of them. The first #Inktober prompt was "Poisonous." I have not been going with the prompts because -- well, because of that first prompt. I could not quite come up with a good picture to go with it. I had planned to head over to Hertel Avenue to draw a picture of 5 Venoms, a tattoo shop. But it rained and I could not go.

I do believe I took a picture.

But it was out of my car because it was raining. And I have a rule to draw my pictures in person as opposed to from a photograph. I have to impose rules because I am German. One rule I have imposed is that one. Another is that I cannot draw the picture in pencil first. I must wing it.

My third rule for #Inktober was to take as my theme "Look in your own back yard." Everything I have drawn so far has been in my immediate neighborhood.

But today I might have to cheat because I was away at the picnic. I did a picture at Emery Park and I will have to use that. Perhaps I can amend that rule. I can draw something in the course of my normal life. I happened to be in Emery Park so I drew a picture there.

Tomorrow perhaps I will return to those orange mushrooms and give them a shot. It is not too late to catch up with a few of the prompts. 

Here is a hilarious article about a legend that says the Jack-O-Lantern mushrooms glow in the dark. That totally settles it. 

They must be sketched.

For #Inktober!

Sunday, October 7, 2018

'That old-fashioned fruit that is so hard to find'

Today at church before we went in for Mass in honor of the Feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, also known as Our Lady of Victory, my friend Joe presented me with a little paper bag. Inside was something I had never tasted.


"I have a flowering quince tree," Joe explained, almost apologetically.

He said he was not quite sure what could be done with quince other than jam, because you hear of quince jam or jelly but nothing else.

You cannot eat quince raw! That was what Joe told me.

But I was hardly listening. All I could picture was a flowering quince tree, as in the picture above. Joe is always bringing us treasures from his gardens and now there was this too.

"Joe," I said. "It sounds as if you live in paradise."

Which he emphatically told me was not true, but I do not believe him.

Now there is the matter of what to do with the quince. There is not that much of it, maybe a couple of pounds. I would like to make some manner of jam and present Joe with a jar of it. Or make something with it to bring to our coffee hour. Perhaps a 16th Century Quince Pie.

Oh, look! Kitchn calls it "that old-fashioned fruit that is so hard to find."

Me, all I can think of is Edward Lear's "The Owl and the Pussy-Cat."

After the owl and the pussy-cat got married, they "dined on mince and slices of quince, which they ate with a runcible spoon."

When I bring my quince pie to coffee hour, I will have to remember a runcible spoon.

You have to do these things by the book!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Ink-stained wretch

I am three days into Inktober. The door up above was for Day One.

They give you prompts for Inktober and the prompt for Day One, Oct. 1, was "poisonous." I love the idea of following the prompts but life got in the way. It rained and there went my plan to walk to Hertel Avenue and sketch the 5 Venoms Tattoo Studio which was my plan on how to deal with "poisonous." But the rain did not let up till later so I dashed across the street to the zoo and drew this door.

I feel so blessed to live across the street from a Victorian-era zoo! That is how I described it on Instagram. The zoo brass keeps trying to obliterate all historic elements but a few have escaped and this door is one. Howard and I have long admired it.

"Who would be authorized to open that door?" Howard marveled on one occasion.

They suggest that you take a theme for Inktober and mine is Look In Your Own Backyard. I love finding seasonal Inktober-ish stuff looking out my back door.

I realize, as I mentioned, that I am blessed. I have this zoo right on hand, and Delaware Park, and right next door one of the nation's great cemeteries, Forest Lawn, complete with the grave of a U.S. president. Today I sketched the statue of Mozart in the park. I will have to post it.

Imagine how good I will be at the end of October.

I hope so, anyway!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Prepping for Inktober

I want to do Inktober this year. It is a 30-day art challenge and all you have to do is draw in ink.

That could even be a ballpoint pen!

Of course I do like to complicate things. That is why my Leonard Pennario book project has taken me 10 years and also why I am drawn toward those fine inks from Germany pictured above. Drawn to the inks, get it? Ahem.

Also I had to go complicate things by getting a sheaf of colored inks and I would like to try painting with them. At the same time, though, I like that ink can be simple. Plus I love how ink goes with October. Way back in '08 I celebrated October by telling tales of the supernatural ever day.

Yikes, that was 10 years ago!

It is high time I did that again!

Along with Inktober. I can post my pictures too.

Anyway today, downtown, we sold out our donuts in only half an hour or so, and I had extra time, so I biked by Forest Lawn and began prepping for Inktober. I drew mausoleums and statues.

Ink might be simple but it is a challenge in that I did not let myself use pencil. I have to learn to wing it. I used a narrow little drawing pen.

I drew these things.

That was a stone mausoleum and on the right is this statue which I believe is called Aspiration. Forest Lawn is kind of strange like that, you find statues to things like Aspiration.

Aspiration was a doozy to draw. It got discouraging because when I get to work in pencil and erase, I am capable of better stuff. Several times drawing in ink I almost gave up. But I made myself keep going.

I did not want to take forever on any one thing because I have all kinds of work to do. So after a little while I turned the page and began again.

And again.

Technically these are not much better. The picture on the right, I almost ripped the page out in disgust. But I kept going.

And now, you know what, I like it!

I got home and first thing I did was get out my sketchbook and look things over. Funny thing, at the cemetery I had felt like a loser because I was thinking everything I had done was kind of a failure. Then I saw that picture and thought, I have something going on with this one.

This picture, I kind of liked it. I liked its swirls and its long lines and the weird look on Aspiration's face.

Clearly Aspiration was thinking, What in the world?

This picture was one percent Aspiration and 99 percent perspiration.

Perfect for Inktober.

This will be fun!