Sunday, November 29, 2015

The angel at Amvets

So today after Mass and after caffeine-ing myself up at coffee hour, I went to Amvets. I know, that sounds like an, ahem, impious thing to do. But my mother used to see nothing wrong with thrift shopping after church and so neither do I. It is charity, is it not?

Anyway, there I was, thrift shopping, like Macklemore up above. See, just because I am the biographer of Leonard Pennario does not mean that popular culture escapes me completely!

I found a couple of things, and I am standing in line, and I see this angel sitting on the counter. Well, standing. The statue was about a foot and a half tall and it was so beautiful. The angel's hands were folded in prayer and his (or her) head was downcast. It was just so reverent. This was the first Sunday of Advent and I was still feeling this glow from singing "O Come O Come Emmanuel" and everything. I wished I could buy that angel!

But I could not. Because these other people had bought it.

These two women in front of me had bought it along with a whole lot of other stuff. There was a brief lull in the Amvets action and I spoke up.

"That is a beautiful angel," I said. "It looks as if it came from a church."

"Yeah?" she said. Then she went back to yakking to her friend. They were all boisterous and got into a loud mock argument about who was going to carry the angel out. "You're not making me carry this thing," yelled the woman I had spoken to.

Somehow or other the poor angel made it out of Amvets and that was that. I wonder where he is now. He was $14.95. Darn, just over the limit where I could have used one of those $4 coupons from the back of my Tops receipt. It made me kind of blue.

Then I thought: Oh well, the angel might be meant to go where it is going. He might have a job to do. Someone might look up at him or over at him and, well, you never know.

By the time I left Amvets I was totally convinced things were as God intended. More importantly it was not up to me.


Now I am feeling guilt because I did not rescue this pristine Infant of Prague right near the checkout. I have an Infant of Prague already, need anyone ask? I don't know where it came from. It just kind of appeared in my home and the other day I moved it because I was afraid Jeoffry would knock it over.

But my Infant of Prague is a statue. The one at Amvets is one of those uncompromising Infants of Pragues with the fabric outfit. Kind of like this one...

.. only the garb is purple and far more fanned out.

I know, I know. This sort of thing, this Infant of Prague, is always laughed at now. It is such a big, slow target! But once such an Infant of Prague would have been an object of great devotion. Polish people especially had them, I think.

It is terrible, you know, nobody has relatives who want these things, and so they go to Amvets. Then there I am looking at it and feeling bad. Remember when I went back to that estate sale to rescue St. Joseph? That cannot happen every day. My house is only so big and already Howard deserves a gold medal for putting up with me and all my saints and angels.

So, anyone Polish out there? Anyone needing an Infant of Prague? Because there is one going begging.

Hint, hint!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

House Housman

I am desperately trying to clean up my house in preparation for Thanksgiving. One thing I have to do is go through all my dad's books. And that is what I was doing today.

My brother George brought them all over to my house several weeks ago and unloaded them unceremoniously in the front room, and now I have to deal with them. OK, technically they are my mom's books too. But most of them are my dad's. Some of them were given to him by my mom. But that is another story for another day.

For today, we address the subject of A.E. Housman. That is he pictured above.

This was a British poet, in case you did not have a dad like mine. A.E. Housman wrote beautiful poetry that my dad acquainted me with when I was a kid. As I saw the name I began reciting automatically... "The day you won your town the race/We chaired you through the market place/Men and boy stood cheering by/And home we brought you, shoulder high.." That is from "To An Athlete Dying Young."

That is a very sad poem because the winner of the race dies young. He winds up, as Housman puts it, townsman of a stiller town.

But back to this book. The object of going through these books is to figure out which books belong on the A list, on my living room bookshelf, and which can just be packed away. Me being me, nothing is being thrown out. That goes without saying.

I am looking at this one Housman book thinking, that's funny, my dad loved A.E. Housman, and yet there is no writing in this book. My dad frequently leaves notes in these books. But there was nothing.

I put the book aside. Eventually I see: "More Poems By A.E. Housman."

And bingo!

There is my dad's handwriting, college-age I am guessing, on the inside front cover. Pompously he has written: "To my friend, George John Kunz Jr., As a token of sempiternal esteem, From the author -- Alfred Edward Housman."

LOL!! As we say now. I just started laughing. I forgot how much I was missing my father and how sad and sentimental this whole business had made me not five minutes before. Not five minutes before I had been thinking of A.E. Housman ... this is me again, reciting off the top of my head:

With rue my heart is laden
For golden friends I had
For many a rose-lipped maiden
And many a light-foot lad

By brooks too wide for leaping
The light-foot lads are laid
The rose-lipped girls are sleeping
In fields where roses fade.

How about that? I have not checked my work but I think I am right, off the top of my head. Thanks to my father. Anyway, those melancholy verses were in my head. I was thinking of my dad and also of Leonard Pennario, the things of his that I have kept and internalized. But now suddenly that all changed. It was as if my father were in the room with me and we were laughing together. It was that funny.

We are all going to see each other again some day, God willing, you know? It is not that bad.

Anyway. End result as we say here in Buffalo: Hours go by but finally I have things sorted out. Books with meaning in the bookshelf. Books without meaning in liquor boxes and stashed somewhere else.

Am I ready for Thanksgiving? No. Not by a long shot! But I am one step closer.

Before long I can start planning my menu!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The turkey big as Turkey

That Sesame Street scene above, that will be my Thanksgivinv table this year!

Because I went to Tops and bought the biggest turkey.

This turkey is so big that action halted at the checkout. The clerk looked at it and gasped. The clerk's name tag, by the way, read Israel. That must be an adventure to have that name! I wonder if when he goes on break his fellow employees make jokes about ransoming captive Israel.

"Rejoice, rejoice, O Israel!" perhaps they warble.

But back to my turkey.

"I know," I said. "It's big."

The Buffalonian behind me in line also got involved.

"Wow," he said.

I said modestly: "I had to look hard for it."

A 24-pound turkey is not the biggest turkey in the world but it was the biggest to be had at Tops. And I was lucky. Last year they were smaller. It is funny because the food magazines always use a 12-pound turkey as a guide.

Food magazines, that flaw aside, are fun at Thanksgiving. It is no wonder I capitulated on Cooking Light the other day.

You are guaranteed recipes for humble vegetables I love, like cauliflower and squash and Brussels sprouts. Sometimes even cabbage! Sometimes even rutabaga.

Desserts are down-home and use cheap fruits like apples and pears. No macadamia nuts or cocoa nibs.

Old wives' implements that are otherwise rarely mentioned are ushered into the spotlight and discussed. Fat separators. Potato mashers. Food mills.

In the middle of it is the traditional, cheap, all-American turkey.

Bring it on!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Gimme the skinny

We do not normally write about world events here at the Leonard Pennario Web log. Pennario did not talk politics and neither as a rule do we. You make enemies that way!

And so instead of talking about events in France let us turn to Cooking Light.

I have this on-again off-again thing with Cooking Light. Sometimes I love it and sometimes I hate it. For instance it always shows super-skinny women cooking things like cookies. As in the Getty Images picture above.

And these...hahahahaha! I stand by them too! No wonder there the time in '12 when I renewed it and instantly regretted it. I am starting to regret renewing it now, just looking back.

However, I beat that price! That was $8 and this time I got it for $5.

It is amazing it is still here so I can do that. "I am starting to think Cooking Light is hitting the skids. When I used to get it before, it was better." That is what I wrote, yikes, five years ago! I noted that the magazine had just been redesigned and in my experience that meant it was probably in trouble. Well, now it is five years later and Cooking Light is still going. It has been redesigned something like five times, too.

You know what, though, I was thinking the other day, I have to chill. I like these cooking magazines. It brightens my day when I find one in the mailbox. My heart soars when I can add to my clutter!
So I should quit letting them bug me.

However, I do reserve my right to kvetch.

It is just so delicious!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The November poet

November, got to love it! Four days now in sandals. That means you can subtract four days from winter. Every beautiful day is one day out of winter that we are not getting.

I took the picture up above walking in Delaware Park yesterday.

There is a poem my dad used to read us when we were kids about November. I just Googled it. It this a wonderful world or what? Here it is. It is by Thomas Hood. We do like sharing poetry now and then on the Leonard Pennario Web log. He loved poetry and was friends with poets.

No sun - no moon! 
No morn - no noon - 
No dawn - no dusk - no proper time of day. 
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease, 
No comfortable feel in any member - 
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees, 
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! - 

Oh, look! I thought I remembered the poem being longer than up above. And sure enough. Quoth another site:

No sun--no moon!
No morn--no noon!
No dawn--no dusk--no proper time of day--
No sky--no earthly view--
No distance looking blue--

No road--no street--
No "t'other side the way"--
No end to any Row--
No indications where the Crescents go--

No top to any steeple--
No recognitions of familiar people--
No courtesies for showing 'em--
No knowing 'em!

No mail--no post--
No news from any foreign coast--
No park--no ring--no afternoon gentility--
No company--no nobility--

No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member--
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds,

Thomas Hood was a Victorian poet and some of the references in the poem are kind of obscure to us. They refer apparently to things in Victorian London.

OK, we've waited long enough. Got to see what he looked like.

A goodly gent!

He was born in 1799. The last of the 18th century.

How little times have changed! That portrait of November is still pretty accurate.

But not this year!

At least not yet.

Monday, November 2, 2015

A haunting tradition

It is too bad that the Catholic Church has pretty much dropped the ball on All Souls Day, leaving people to associate this day only with the Mexican version of this ancient feast. The Mexican All Souls Day is the Day of the Dead and that is all you hear about.

That is too bad!

A few years ago we got to have All Souls Day masses at St. Anthony's and they were tremendously moving and powerful.

The sermon was usually about how we were all heading toward death at breakneck speed.

They have this black coffin called the catafalque surrounded by candles and the coffin stands for all your departed loved ones. And the priest would do a Solemn High Requiem Mass. With all the candles lit. There was an unbelievable moment of silence at the end when he would bless the catafalque with incense. He would walk around it in complete silence as everyone watched. You would look on and pray for your own personal loved ones. I remember thinking of Leonard Pennario. And my father, and my Auntie Rose, and my Uncle Bob.

I will never forget that! Good thing because I do not know if I will ever get the chance to see it again.

But oh, I loved it while it lasted!

There was 2009 and the kid in the hip-hop outfit. You never knew who would turn up at the All Souls Day Mass! It was more popular than you think.

Hmmm. I see that year that I had marketed the Mass, telling people to show up, that they would not feel conspicuous, that they would be fascinated by the rite if only for anthropological reasons. Perhaps that kid read that! Wow, that was funny how I overslept that year, after gaining the hour. All the things you forget. This is why God created Web logs.

The year 2010 was when I claimed my Plenary Indulgence.

And in 2008 was my first All Souls Day Mass ever, at least that I can remember. I could not get over it.

It is a Catholic tradition to pray for the dead as we discussed in the 2009 post "Fatlings and Fuggers." And the All Souls Day Mass was such an opportunity to do it. It is a pity the tradition is so lost. No more Latin High Requiem Mass. No more catafalque surrounded by incense.

Ah, the memories!

And now, the music.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

All Hallows Day

We had an All Hallows Day party at my church, St. Anthony of Padua. Hallows are saints, speaking of which it puzzles me how that one Harry Potter book, wasn't it named "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows"? How can hallows be deathly? 

It is sort of nice to know what words mean, you know? Well, as a writer I have goofed up a few in my life too.

For our party at St. Anthony's the children were invited to dress up as saints. I suggested that next year the grown-ups should wear saint costumes too. We would have fun with that! I floated that idea today past a bunch of church fathers and mothers. It will take a while for it to gain traction but you never know. 

I am going to be the ruination of this church, you know? 

"Things were going well until we had this one parishioner..."

Anyway. There is an album I posted to the St. Anthony of Padua Facebook page and I have to share a couple of them.

Here is a solemn little St. Vincent  de Paul giving a speech. I wonder if he got his costume at St. Vincent de Paul. It does not look like it.

And this other tyke rocked the candles as St. Blaise, the patron saint of throats and one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. That is St. Michael on the right if memory serves me. Ha, ha! Can I take a picture or what? I am afraid I spread silliness wherever I go.

These three girls, they are the sweetest. I think the one in the middle is St. Therese, the Little Flower.

Mother Teresa and companions.

These kids were so creative. So was my friend Ryan who dressed up on All Hallows Eve as Pizza Rat.

Creativity, all around me.

It is inspiring!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Cupcake Heaven

We baked All Hallows' Eve cupcakes today at the old homestead where my niece and nephew now live with their parents, my brother and sister-in-law. Above is my niece Barbara showing off our masterpiece.

It is great when you give someone a present and that person really uses it, you know? I do not have that experience all the time. My sister Katie told me years ago that I get people presents that I would like myself and maybe she is right. And if you do that, your gift could fall flat because you are actually the one who likes it. The other person might not.

Wait till everyone I know gets books about Leonard Pennario for Christmas!


I love Barbara for loving this cupcake cookbook, titled "Cupcake Heaven," I gave her for Christmas. She studies it all the time and when I got to her house she had the book open to Halloween Cupcakes. And this was so cool, in the front of the book I saw all kinds of notes she had made. There were lists of page numbers, and check marks. I do stuff like that. She is like me!

We had no orange frosting but my smart niece knew that red and yellow made orange. We had to seek the advice of my sister-in-law, Natalie, to get just the right shade of orange. Natalie is a crafty artistic person and knows about color. "More yellow," Nat advised. And she was right!

Sprinkles I had found for a buck at Ollie's gave an additional artistic touch.

Barbara sometimes says these wistful things and after lunch, when we were finishing up our project, she said to me, "Why does everything have to end?"

She added, "I wish things could just go on forever and ever."

Man, how often have I thought that same thing! I told her that.

I said, "Barbara, this is one thing I think about heaven, it must be a place where there are no time limits for things that we love."

I think I was imagining Cupcake Heaven!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Hour of power

My favorite weekend is coming up.

It is the weekend when we get to add an hour!

If there is one thing I love it is getting an extra free hour with no strings attached. And on a Saturday night! And this Saturday night is All Hallows Eve. As I put on Twitter today I like this new trend I am seeing toward using that formal name for the occasion. It is the Eve of All Hallows which is the eve of All Saints Day.

That extra hour can be used to meditate on that!

Or to do anything else. I will probably eat. After that it will get dark before most of us get out of work but that's OK, I can live with that. Sacrifices must be made.

It is getting into the best time of year. October is the month I met Leonard Pennario, speaking of which, with the darkness falling early, that means it is a good time for writing and editing. It is a good time for cooking and eating. Right now I am making Rotkohl. That is German red cabbage. With apples. It is simmering on the stove right now.

I love the wildness of this time of year.

Turn that clock back.

Let's do it tonight!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Mr. Fix-It

Another thing that happened besides the market madness is that the repairman showed up and finally fixed the Bosch stove. Above is a picture I snapped of the repairman doing the job, to the tune of $219.

Jeoffry helped the repairman.

That was the caption Howard wrote on Facebook for the picture I took and it is most apt. We were talking about how nice it is that Jeoffry is sociable. So many cats run and hide and there is nothing wrong with that, but we like that ours comes out, says hello and sometimes even offers assistance.

In celebration for the stove being done I roasted some of the cauliflower I had bought at the market on my spending spree, plus I roasted and stuffed an eggplant. This morning I made peanut butter/ oatmeal bars for church coffee hour. The recipe is from an ancient Pillsbury Bake-Off competition. The booklet shows the winning entries being judged by Pennario's friend Greer Garson so I know the recipes are good.

Wow, look at this. Naively I go looking to see if I can find the recipe online and I cannot. This is what I found on the Pillsbury site .. a bunch of recipes built on convenience foods and prepackaged mixes. One of them even starts with "a roll of Pillsbury refrigerated chocolate chip cookies."

Clearly with Greer Garson gone this contest has hit the skids.

Oh well. Aside from that life feels right again with the oven working.

Now, if I could only stop baking!