Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Losing it

I am awed by my capacity to lose things.

Many mornings, this being one of them, I lose my bathrobe. Just have no idea where it is. When I get up I check all the usual places. The bathroom door. Nope, not there. The hook inside the cedar closet where it is supposed to be? No. No surprise there seeing that nothing is ever where it is supposed to be.

Is it in my office, draped over my chair? No.

Did I fling it over the banister and leave it there? No.

Is it hidden in the bedroom, in the ever-growing pile of clothes next to the bed? I dug through the pile and it was not.

Where is it?

Eventually it turns up. But what amazes me is, this is a large object to lose. This is the bathrobe I am always talking about that used to be Leonard Pennario's. It is voluminous and royal blue and big on me and my failure to keep tabs on it shows how abject my life is.

Another big thing I misplaced: a huge five-pound bag of cornmeal.

I bought it recently at Budwey's. I remember looking it at on the shelf, comparison-shopping between a couple of brands, settling on that nice stone-ground cornmeal by Hodgson Mills.

So. Last night I am making a chicken stew and I want to put cornmeal dumplings on top of it.

But is that cornmeal around anywhere? No!

It is nowhere!

What in the world? I deep-cleaned my kitchen, as I may have mentioned, and now the cupboards are pristine and everything is in neat, scrupulously closed containers. That is a word I love, scrupulously.

This big bag! Had I stuck it in the fridge?


Still a big mystery.

Maybe I did not buy the cornmeal after all. Maybe I just thought I did. Cornmeal is not a good thing to have around anyway with me always on and off the South Beach Diet.

This is how my thoughts go. Round and round.

These are the wages of thinking too much about Tanglewood in the summer of 1949 and not enough about my house. Of thinking too much about someone else's life and not enough about my own.

Well, on the other hand, who am I kidding? My life was like this before I ever met Pennario. It has always been a mess.

Here is a question for people out there in Blog-O-Land. What is the most impressive large object you have ever lost? Little things like rings do not count.

Am I the only one losing it?

Monday, September 28, 2009

A song for an elephant

The news from the elephant house, pictured above, is bad. We have lost Buki. She was our oldest elephant. She was 52.

Who does not love those elephants?

The zoo's press release is enough to break your heart.

Everyone has an elephant story. Howard and I have one that we love. Once we were walking through the zoo and one of the elephants looked at us slyly. And then it dived into a pond. For a minute it was entirely under the surface. We could not see it.

And then it stuck up its foot! Out of the water. For us to see.

Just like a little kid!

Then that big elephant head came back up out of the water and the elephant sort of winked at us. As if to say, "Did you see that?"

I wonder if that was Buki. Regrettably I do not know one elephant reliably from another. I am not that regular a visitor to the zoo because my life is a zoo all on its own. But Buki was a circus elephant and that sounds like something she might have done.

I understand Buki was pretty old for an elephant. She came to this country in 1958 when she was a baby. That was the year Leonard Pennario sold out London's Royal Festival Hall! He was playing Rachmaninoff. There is the most unbelievable picture of Pennario taken in that year.

How did I get onto all that?


Back to Buki. There is a song for her and that is the song our friend Guy Boleri the lounge sensation sometimes sings, "Little Girl Blue". The song is from the show "Jumbo." Guy told me it was written for a circus elephant. You can tell from the verse that starts the song.

When you were very young
The world was younger than you
As merry as a carousel
The circus tent was strung
With every star in the sky
Above the ring you loved so well
Now the young world has grown old
Gone are the tinsel and the gold

Sit there and count your fingers
What can you do old girl, you're through
Sit there and count your little fingers
Unlucky little girl blue

Here is Nina Simone singing the song. It is a weird performance but it is cute how she weaves "Good King Wenceslas" into the music. Hmmm. This is funny. Yesterday was the feast of Saint Wenceslas, do not ask me how I know this but I do. Today is the feast day of the great Archangels: Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. But Buki died yesterday, on the feast of Saint Wenceslas.

Clearly this song was intended for her.

The wild mouse

Yesterday I was up and at my desk at 6 a.m. And I am deep into revising this chapter on when Leonard Pennario was at Tanglewood.

When all of a sudden...

Scratch. Scratch. Scratch.

Coming from Howard's desk!

Howard was still asleep. He sleeps several more hours after I get up which, that is why I get up when I do.

Scratch. Scratch.

It was a mouse!

And we are not talking his computer mouse. It was a real mouse! By now I know a mouse when I hear one.

I totally forgot there was a band called Eek A Mouse. That is a poster for the band up above.

Here is a member of Eek A Mouse.

I tried to work through the scratching and rustling and I am afraid I did succeed pretty well. That bespeaks the level of chaos to which our lives have risen. I decided, I will tell Howard about the mouse when he awakens.

But he never did awaken before I had to run out to Mass and when I got back Howard scooted out the door before I could tell him about the mouse.

"I don't want to get stuck." That is what he said!

To me!

After that I did not hear the mouse but I went to his desk anyway to investigate. I started moving papers here and there, looking at stuff. Finally I found this little net bag of what looked like Hanukkah geld at the back of his desk. They were chocolate coins covered in gold foil. And the foil was all sparkly and shredded.

That was the wages of the mouse being there.

We have found him!

But now I am afraid Howard is starting to consider the mouse a pet. He said he heard him the other day but kept working anyway. With the mouse right there! I cannot imagine that. I at least need him to be across the room.

What a drama!

It is like the Wild Mouse!

Here is an even better Wild Mouse with a skinny purple track.

The one we had in Crystal Beach used to be pretty good.

I wonder if I will ever ride the Wild Mouse again. Or will my mouse experiences be restricted to finding mice on Howard's desk?

Only time will tell.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

So corny

Howard is a genius in the corn department.

He is the Leonard Pennario of eating corn!

Here is a closeup of his artistry.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Two great finds

Today my mother wanted to go to this sale at St. Paul's Lutheran, on Main Street up near Eggert. We went and there was this sign over the water fountain which I had to photograph.

That is it up above!

These Lutherans, bossing us and using that word "gunk." I love that. "Gunk" is a word I remember from childhood. I have to say I have never seen it used in the context of a sign over the water fountain.

From thence we went to an estate sale on North Forest. Where there was this sign.

These bossy, brittle estate sale people! But I was grateful to them for that sign. It diverted me because my mother has been known to spend hours in the Department of Runners and Doilies.

Doilies. Just that word. Doesn't it kill you?

What about the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company?

That is Richard D'Oyly Carte! He gave the company its name. I never knew that! It never would have occurred to me that there was someone named D'Oyly.

My mother scrutinized the doilies and runners for a long time until I finally got through with photographing the sign and I saw a tablecloth I liked. It was hand-embroidered. Then things went the way the always do. My mom told me to put it down, that she would look around the house and she had extra tablecloths she would give me.

Then I bought some canning jars that were beautiful but I had to tell the checkout guy to talk quietly because I paid $1 more for them than my mother thought I should.

Whatever. When I go to a sale all I really want to know is, where are the Leonard Pennario records? Take me to your Leonard Pennario records.

There was none! Which, I can understand that. As Howard says, they are family heirlooms. Your chance of finding them is slim!

Your chance of finding bossy signs is much greater.

They are not bad either!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Portrait of mystery

In the Strange Problems I Have department there is now this. There is this art exhibition opening Oct. 10 at Gateway Gallery, 141 Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo, and it includes a painting of Howard and me. But the painting is not us!

It is of a whole other couple!

That is the painting up above. They are even using it on a promotional postcard for the exhibit. I propped it up on Howard's computer keyboard to take the picture which explains the letters at the bottom.

Does anyone know who those people are?

The exhibit is by the painter Rick Williams. He is a judge in Washington, D.C. but now he is retiring. Like Leonard Pennario he is from Buffalo originally. And he is going to be moving back to Buffalo with his wife and spend part of every year here.

The first thing Williams is doing back in Buffalo is having this exhibition at an Elmwood gallery he owns and the exhibit is going to center on Jackie Jocko and his circle. Howard and I are part of Jocko's circle which is how we wound up inadvertently in this exhibit.

But there was some kind of mix-up. Jocko told us the painting above is of us. But it is not of us.

They may as well substitute a picture of the Duane Paddocks.

What a situation!

Lastnight Howard and I could not go to sleep because we were worrying about it. It is a serious problem because the exhibition opens in a scant few weeks. And there will be a tag on this picture saying it is us.

Finally Howard rolled out of bed. "I am going to get this straightened out," he said.

He sent an email to the artist. But we still have not heard back.

We do not know what will happen!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Postcard from the edge

My piano teacher, Stephen, and his wife, Marta, are flying out this morning. And all I can say is, thank God!

I cannot go on like this!

See that picture up above? That is me!

I mean, I love him to death, but this partying! I have a book to do!

Yesterday I wrote about how we all went out after Stephen's concert. Meanwhile we have made plans to get together the next night and go to the Hyatt and hear Jackie Jocko. So yesterday morning, I'm at work, trying to get my eyes to open, sitting at my desk like this ...

... and there Stephen is on the cell phone. "What time are we all getting together tonight?"

Then Howard and I are late getting to the Hyatt and the cell phone goes off again. "We're at the bar. Where are you??"

These pianists! They will ruin your life!

We walk in to the Hyatt and they are the focus of attention and Jocko is singing about Marta. Honest, that was the first word I heard when I opened the door. Jocko is singing, "Marta!"

Then Marta who always looks gorgeous and impeccable starts complaining that she is underdressed. GIVE ME A BREAK.

Who can keep up with these people?

And here is another thing. Just in case my life was not enough of a zoo, I was on Performance Today. That is a PBS program that includes a segment called Piano Puzzler. I was a guest on Piano Puzzler and they aired it yesterday.

You can hear it here. Although I do not know if I recommend it! I have to admit, I have not been brave enough to listen to it yet. Maybe today I will.

The bad news was, I was not terribly fast at guessing the composer I was supposed to guess. (I do not want to give it away in case you want to listen to the podcast.) I did guess him eventually but son of a hash-slinging sea cook, not until I had guessed everyone else in the world who ever wrote a note of music.

It is hard to think under pressure!

On the bright side the show did afford me the opportunity to talk to a national audience about Leonard Pennario and you know me, I took that opportunity. And God rewarded me! I got a couple of notes about Pennario from people who heard the show, one of whom happens to be a major, major scholar. I will write about that one of these days.

Right now, I have to run.

I have to work sometime!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Piano man

Yikes, I am up late today! Yesterday I was up at 5:30 a.m., making coffee, working on my book, feeling virtuous. Ha, ha! I was trying to type virtuous and I typed "virtuoso" by mistake. I did it twice! That is what happens when you are working on a book about Leonard Pennario.

Now it is 7:15 a.m. and I am just sitting down!

I had a late night last night I went to UB to go to the recital of my friend Stephen Manes. He played Chopin and Debussy. I told him I loved his Leonard Pennario repertoire and he did not know what I was talking about but pretty much all of what he played, Pennario recorded, which is one reason I enjoyed the recital so much!

Here is Pennario with the first Chopin preludes. Stephen played them lastnight.

Stephen is my piano teacher who, I have written about him a lot and griped that he went to California. He and I went to California at the same time, how about that? But we went to different places. I went to San Diego and Stephen went to Los Angeles because he was marrying Marta and that is where she lives.

Howard and I keep in touch with Stephen and Marta through Facebook and because of Facebook we feel like family and take liberties. Last night we went backstage and hung around until everyone else left. Then when Stephen and Marta walked back to the dressing room Howard and I went with them.

Howard horsed with the piano.

I took a picture of myself in the mirror.

We were the things that would not leave!

A group of us gathered afterward at Trattoria Aroma where I took the picture at the top of the post of Stephen and Marta. They got there first because Stephen knows his way around Buffalo better than anyone. He said that people who live here were asking him for directions! It happens every time he is in town.

Here is a picture I love! You can judge the amount of Chianti we were burning through by the number of empty wineglasses.

Here are our friends Jonathan and Elise.

There were about 12 people and many of them I had not gotten to talk with that much so that was a lot of fun for me. And at Trattoria Aroma I always feel as if I am in a movie. Anyway, a wonderful evening. I keep thinking about it.

Sometime during their visit Marta and Stephen have expressed a desire to see Big Blue. That is because of Facebook! Howard and I keep writing about Big Blue and they keep reading it.

They especially want to see the smoking chair. Howard has written about its odyssey!

From the piano bench at Slee Hall to the smoking chair at Big Blue.

It just gets better and better!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The village people

That is a picture I took the other night at the Village Inn in Akron. It is beautiful! The sunlight was just so.

I felt as if I were in France!

To be honest that was partly because we drove and drove and drove to get there. Akron is far.

Here is a picture of the front of the Village Inn in Akron.

Here is Howard in front of the Village Inn.

My mother and my friend Gary and I went first in the Vic and Howard followed in the ZR-1. Howard has this great ZR-1 Corvette but I never ride in it. The last time I rode in it was 2004!

The trip to the Village Inn was dramatic because half way there we realized we did not know where we were going!

"I think you turn left at a McDonald's onto a route that is 90-something," Gary said. "I want to say 98." We were on Main Street in Williamsville.

Then he and my mom start gabbing about something as if nothing is wrong. And I am trying to get my mind around the enormity of this potential problem. Because here I am with my mom with me and Howard maybe following us, who knows.

"Gary," I said. "I thought you drove here before."

"No, Lou drove," he said. Lou is our jam session buddy. "He was coming from a different direction and he took North French and all these other streets."

Do not get me around North French. I was about North French the way Leonard Pennario was about this one street in San Diego. Everyone has a street which, you go anywhere near that street, and you get lost. Sometimes you get lost just thinking about that street.

But all's well that ends well and we got to the Village Inn! Although we had to backtrack once because we got distracted by the Octagon House. There is an Octagon House in Akron!

Because of that detour and subsequent near-crisis, Howard arrived only five minutes after we did although we left an hour earlier.

I give you Howard and Gary dining at the Village Inn.

Howard got the lobster.

Fueled by the large crustacean he played the piano afterward.

In the background if you look carefully you can see lounge sensation Guy Boleri who entertained during dinner.

It was an eventful evening, at the Village Inn!

Alas, now it is the week as opposed to the weekend, with onerous things to do. For one thing I have to go get a flu shot. Howard is bugging me about that.

"Don't let that get like the snow tires situation," he said.

Meaning, I never did take the snow tires off my car and now here it is fall, with winter right around the corner, so why bother.

Last time I got a flu shot I felt as if my arm was going to fall off. Howard and our friend Lizzie and I went and got the shot at Tops and I remember walking out going, "Ow. Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow." Like James Brown!

Perhaps this year will be more kind.

Wish me luck!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Grassroots efforts

This is a beautiful Monday in Buffalo because the Bills won. I did not watch the game of course. I was deep into this chapter of my book wherein our hero, Leonard Pennario, is struggling to re-kindle his career after the war took him to India for a year and a half. I was working on this chapter for four hours!

But I knew in my heart the Bills had won.

That is because you could hear it. I heard the car horns blasting the "Let's Go Buffalo!" rhythm. And people screaming. I think it was coming from Hertel Avenue. People watch the games out on the terraces and then they go flooding into the streets. It is like a scene from Barcelona or somewhere.

I do not generally watch Bills games because I know zip about football. But I like the attendant drama.

One thing I get a corrupt kick out of is the lawn job those kids did on that player's lawn! Leodis, his name is, something like that? I cannot memorize names like that. Leodis McKelvin? I think that is his name. It is like Lee Otis. That is how you can remember it.

What about Otis Rush? He is one of my favorite bluesmen and that link is to a song I love although warning! I see it is very loud!

Back to McKelvin. That is Lee Otis McKelvin at the top of this post posing in happier days with Ralph Wilson. Note to out-of-towners: Ralph Wilson is the owner of the Buffalo Bills and the only person in our town who is addressed respectfully as "Mr."

Back to McKelvin's lawn. At first he was understood to say that he would not press charges. I even read that he said he was laughing about the lawn job. That made me love him! That made me think he was cool.

But now apparently he is thinking about prosecuting. That is too bad.

Well, maybe not. Here is what I think he should do. Check and see if the kids have any kind of criminal records. If they do, prosecute them. If they don't, don't.

Reason being, we pay our football players big bucks to put up with stuff like this.

Plus, let us not be naive. Who among us did not think, even for just a few minutes, of the people who, we would like to do a lawn job on their lawns?

My list would be lengthy and it would be topped by former Miami Herald music critic James Roos.

James Roos, nobody that he is, uttered this dumb thing about Pennario years ago. "Pennario was not a profound pianist," he said, "but..."

And this quote turns up everywhere! This dumb quote from this nobody! You have people like Fritz Reiner and Leopold Stokowski on record saying wonderful and intelligent things about Pennario but who gets quoted? Roos!

He is even quoted in this gorgeous performance of "Le Tombeau de Couperin." They print only the part that followed the "but." But still.

And get this. The quote appeared, "but" and all, prominently, in Pennario's obituary in the Los Angeles Times!! I could not believe that. Those days after Pennario's death were surreal for me to begin with. But then to open the paper and see that. What, were they trying to settle some old score? That was all I can think.

Two words for James Roos: Lawn. Job.

Inspired by the Leodis McKelvin situation, I went looking for him. But I found he died years ago. Alas.

No lawn job.

No closure.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Can it!

Today the chili sauce I made yesterday was sitting bubbling in two gigantic Crock pots, awaiting my attention. So I had to can it.

What a task!!

You always think it will be easy. Then something always complicates things. Today it was that I had all wide-mouth jars and not enough wide-mouth lid rings.

I did have the lids. I found them in a plastic bag in the cellar, still in their little supermarket box. But the rings that fit around the lids and hold them down, that was my fatal error. When I cleaned the kitchen a few weeks ago I do remember throwing a couple of them out because I got into clutter-cleaning mode. This was the wages of that.

Many many trips were necessary into my cobwebby 1920 cellar. Every spider in the Western Hemisphere must be in my cellar! I could not walk anywhere without going, "Eeeeeuuuwwwww!"

As the project squeaked forward there were long vast lots of time that had to be filled. I went over to the piano and sat there in my apron and played Beethoven's Sonata Op. 101 which always calms me down in stressful situations. It is like getting a massage! Not that I have ever gotten a massage but I think if I got one that is what it would feel like.

Then I got the big pot of water boiling for the jars and played Beethoven Op. 109. That is my favorite Beethoven sonata! Well, I do not like to talk about favorite anything because there is too much competition.

When it came time to put the chili sauce into the jars, that is the really stressful part! I am always worried about whether the jars will seal right. There is always something.

I sealed up the first seven and got them into the boiling water. While they boiled I horsed around with my new record player/CD burner. I was trying to make a CD of Leonard Pennario playing this Beethoven sonata I love. I was in a Beethoven mood today! And I thought tomorrow being Monday it would make my life easier if I could take along Pennario's Beethoven.

Nothing is simple and when I got to the last movement the display on the record player was reading: "Fail."

I failed!

The appliance is telling me I failed!

Howard and I always joke about appliances telling us stuff. Our favorite is when the appliance tells you "Wait." You are standing there waiting because the appliance is telling you to.

Now tomorrow I will have to settle for Alfred Brendel ...

... playing that sonata which, I am sorry but it is nowhere near as much fun. Pennario's is explosive. It is as if you took your TV and turned up the contrast.

The good news is all but one jar sealed. Ta da! I have 12 jars of chili sauce sealed and only one that is not and what the heck, that one I can eat right away. You always want one jar not sealed properly because that is your excuse to eat that one right away. Maybe I will make something with it and take it into work tomorrow.

I will not have Pennario playing Beethoven but I will have chili sauce. That is something anyway.

Isn't that a great canning picture at the top of this post? Here is another one I love.

Now I kind of want to do more canning. Canning is like that. You get everything assembled ... the jars, the lids, the rings, the little grabber thing that grabs the cans out of the water. And then you see pictures like this.

And you want to do more.

Hmmmm. I have so much in my kitchen. I have so many options.

What will it be next?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Comfort me with apples

Early this morning the 'phone rang. This is the dial 'phone I wrote about a while ago, the 'phone that used to belong to the pianist who did not want to talk about Leonard Pennario, imagine that.

The 'phone has that great 1950s ring. And I answered it and it was my friend Gary. I always know it is Gary because he is the only person who calls me on this 'phone. It is the Gary Marino Hot Line!

Gary was going to the Clinton-Bailey Market and wanted to know if I wanted to go.

And I did!

"I am not going to buy much," I piously said. "My fridge is already full of stuff I already bought. I cannot fit in one more thing!"


As if at the Clinton-Bailey Market I can ever exercise any self-control.

Here is what I bought: A quart of Concord grapes because Howard loves them. Five pounds of wildflower honey because Howard loves that. I also bought a big golden cauliflower. I love that color. It looks as if there is cheese already on it! And a quarter bushel of tomatoes. Gary and I split a half bushel. When I got home I chopped the tomatoes and put them in two crock pots with cut-up onions and peppers and vinegar and sugar and garlic. I am making chili sauce! There is this James Beard recipe and it called for 24 tomatoes and would you believe it, that is exactly what I had. No more and no less!

We also bought apples. The apples at the Clinton-Bailey Market looked beautiful ...

... and the day was just perfect.

Gary and I decided to split a half bushel of apples. We chose Ginger Gold. That is a lovely name! Just think, I could have a daughter and name her Ginger and then she would be Ginger Goldman.

What about Gwyneth Paltrow and her daughter, Apple?

We did not see them at the Clinton-Bailey Market!

We paid $5 for our half-bushel of Ginger Golds. I captured the transaction.

After that Gary and I went to James Desiderio & Sons and bought grape juice to make our wine. Every year we make wine. Gary already chose his wine juice which was Syrah. Today it was my turn and I chose Gamay.

Does anyone out there in Blog-O-Land know anything about Gamay wine?

We have never heard of it!

But that did not stop me from selecting it because at $43.50 it was the most expensive by about $2. I thought if it were more expensive it must be better. Then the gentleman at James Desiderio & Sons told us that it was a full-bodied rich red wine. Full-bodied! That is like me despite all my Pilates classes. So I chose that.

They remembered me at James Desiderio & Sons from when I bought the figs which made me feel very important! Then I remembered it was the braces on my teeth. Everyone always remembers me because of my braces. Which, as of this week, they are teal blue!

OK, it is back to work with my fine full-bodied self. I just got done polishing up a chapter on Leonard Pennario's time at this Montana army base and now I have to go on and work on a chapter about when the Army sent him to India.

Pennario talked and talked about that. He knew I got a kick out of hearing about his time in the Army. I would sit there and laugh and laugh. Plus I admired him because he was brave. So he would talk about it and it was so funny, it was like watching a one-man play. There was one day I just turned on the tape recorder and sat with him and let him talk.

This is going to be a good chapter!

Friday, September 18, 2009

The 3 People You Meet in Buffalo

My mother went to the podiatrist yesterday and later on we had a conversation about what he said about Buffalo. The podiatrist is from Kentucky.

He said what we in Buffalo have long known, that in no other city do people talk to strangers the way we do. You cannot just walk up to someone in New York City and start talking, you know? Whereas you can in Buffalo.

After that conversation with my mom I started thinking about that. I realized that during my day, just that day, without thinking about it, I had talked to at least three strangers. It is fun to play the game of tallying up the strangers you talked to. More than just "hi," too. If you say just "hi" to someone that does not count!

No. 1 when I was out taking pictures of the Herbert C. Jackson, a gentleman was out there taking pictures too, and I drew him into conversation. He said he owned a boat and he was down on the waterfront all the time and the Herbert C. Jackson ...

... was the biggest ship he had seen. So there was that conversation.

Then I went to the tooth surgeon so he could check his work on my mouth and on the way in there was this older guy behind me. So I held the door for him. And when he got inside we had a conversation about the building and which floors our doctors' offices were on. His doctor was J.P. Johnson. Just like James P. Johnson! I mentioned that to him but I do not think he knew who James P. Johnson was.

Imagine going through life and not knowing about James P. Johnson. Listen to that link up above. It is James P. Johnson on a QRS piano roll.

Made in Buffalo!

Back to Buffalo and our conversations with strangers. What was my third conversation with a stranger yesterday? I know there was one. Let me think. Let me think.

Oh! I was on my way to my mom's and I stopped at Jubilee Foods at Harlem and Kensington. And I parked far away, who knows why. I get out of my car and go walking toward the supermarket.

And a big Buffalo guy yells at me, "Why'd you park so far away?"

I said: "I don't know. I was wondering the same thing."

Then we went back and forth saying this and that and laughing.

That is life in greater Buffalo! Sometimes I wonder if I would have fallen into this Leonard Pennario thing so easily in another town. We met in Buffalo and in Buffalo there are such few formalities. And Pennario was from here so he understood.

It is not the same in other towns! In Toronto if you hold the door for someone the person does not start talking to you about the weather. He might not even thank you! In New York if you talk to a stranger in an elevator the stranger looks at you funny.

Here is something Howard and I have talked about. We do not know when people began telling their kids not to talk to strangers. When we were kids we were not told that. You were supposed to exercise caution but talking to strangers was never discouraged. How are you supposed to go anywhere without talking to strangers?

How do you learn to deal with life?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ship ahoy!

Yesterday there I am going through my worker-drone work day when all of a sudden, excitement!!!

I looked up from my desk and I saw this huge ship. I jumped up.

"That is the biggest ship I have ever seen in my life!" I exclaimed.

My coworker Susan Martin jumped up too. She is our style and fashion editor! She knows style when she sees it and this ship had style. "Do you have your camera?" she said.

I did!

I also got my glasses so I could read the name of the ship.

It is the Herbert C. Jackson!

Remember when we were visited by the Adam E. Cornelius and how thrilling that was? The Herbert C. Jackson is bigger.

That is a picture of the Herbert C. Jackson up above unloading grain in Buffalo. There is this wonderful site called that gives you pictures and statistics of all kinds of freighters which, I do not know why I like these freighters but I do. I told our business editor, Grove Potter, to pull strings so I can take a tour of one of them. Perhaps they will let me ride on one of them too! Perhaps I can sail to Duluth. I have a review of a recital Leonard Pennario gave in Duluth, did I mention that? The Duluth Library sent it to me. The review said that Pennario was a favorite of Duluthians.

I wonder if the Herbert C. Jackson sails to Duluth.

Wait! It does! Here is a picture of the ship in Duluth that I found on

This site is great. They list all these ships and apparently what happens is boat nerds, like me I guess, snap pictures of these ships when they see them and send them in. So you can see the Herbert C. Jackson, which I now learn was first launched in 1959, in about 100 different locations. It is like Howard and his smoking chair! Well, almost.

Here is a shot someone posted of the ship in Buffalo with our grain elevators.

Here is the Herbert C. Jackson in Milwaukee. A beautiful night shot!

What about Michael Jackson?

Hereafter when we hear the name Jackson we will not think of him! We will think rather of the Herbert C. Jackson.

Here is the beautiful and historic shot I took of the ship from our office window. Click on the pic and you can see the ship better.

By the time I was able to run out of the office and outside the Herbert C. Jackson was heading out to sea. It was being guided by a tugboat.

Another picture which shows our marvelous sky.

Buffalonians were fascinated.

Here is the Herbert C. Jackson leaving Buffalo and sailing farther and farther away. Goodbye, Herbert C. Jackson! Godspeed!

The ship gives Buffalo a smoke signal as a farewell salute.

The tug heads home.

Our story ends.

But today after the visit of the Herbert C. Jackson, Buffalo feels a little different.

The ship brought magic with it!