Sunday, February 28, 2010

Joy in the morning

The great thing about my vintage clock radio is it gets WNED-FM better than any other radio in the house and this morning it woke us to Mozart's Clarinet Quintet.

Howard said, "This is sure a better way to wake up than the cell phone."

My old cell phone would do this shrill beeping that would get louder the longer you lay in bed.

Now here was this old 1970s clock radio with this music pouring out of it. I sat up in bed. The morning seemed magical. The snow, the brightness, the Mozart.

The music made me dreamy and after I got up I drifted around the room doing this and that while the Mozart played. I put clothes away. Stared out the window. There is a pile of Leonard Pennario records and I picked up some of them and put them back down.

La la la la la la la.

The Larghetto came on and I love that and had to listen to that.

Subsequently though I did make it to church on time I was late for the Rosary. I just could not get my rear in gear as the Buffalo saying goes. But you know what, I think God and all the saints and angels understood.

I think Mozart is a good excuse!

Friday, February 26, 2010

The slush pile

It is like a big dessert outside. That is what Howard said!

Meaning, it is like a giant lemon ice at Anderson's. I just went and took the garbage out and it was glop, glop, glop all the way to the tote and back. We did not get it anywhere near any other city, that is for sure. But still.

Naturally there is a band called Lemon Ice.

Today I had to drive four different places throughout the day and every time, when I came out to the car, it was the same thing. I had to start all over again wiping all the heavy snow off the car.

Every time you had to open the trunk, same thing. It was so heavy I thought it was going to fall down on my head!

No wonder Leonard Pennario moved to California. No wonder he said he never looked back.

On the bright side, Dairy Queen is open. So says my friend Art.

Blizzard, anyone?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bitchin' in the kitchen

As if I do not have enough stress in my life this terrible Cooking Light magazine has shown up. I do not know why I get Cooking Light. They dropped the price down so low I said yes, is what happened.

This Cooking Light, the March issue, all it does is yell at you!

I do not have the actual magazine in front of me. I have memories of throwing it across the room. But I can tell you what is in it. On the cover, it has this headline, "Fifteen Mistakes You Make as a Cook." Something like that. Maybe it is 10 mistakes, maybe it is 20. I do not remember nor do I care.

The actual article is unbelievable. They print each sin you commit in huge letters, so it jumps out at you.



And this boring old thing:


It goes on and on. Page after page!

Who needs to be yelled at like this? It is stressful and unattractive. You do not want the magazine to be this god while you are this nothing. If you cook, as I do, you do not normally go around beating yourself up. I screw things up from time to time, but in general, I think I do pretty well. I do not need their enlightenment.

Smite them, O Lord, with a skillet!

I am starting to think Cooking Light is hitting the skids. When I used to get it before it was better. It was not that long ago. I was still getting it when I went to California to see Leonard Pennario and this is funny, I have been rediscovering the issues I missed when I was gone, and they are pretty good. I continued to get the magazine for a while after that. I lapsed only maybe six months ago.

When I started getting it again, recently, I was alarmed. The design is different. When a magazine is redesigned it usually means they are in trouble. They have a new editor. And here is one thing, they now have tons of pages devoted to stuff you can buy. They'll have a page of hot new cooking implements, another page of new cookbooks, another page of new dishes and glasses, etc. They must be getting advertising money for this.

They also have a new section on food you can buy. How to know which fast-food pizza is best for you, how to choose well when you are dining out. Zut alors on this advice! Isn't the whole point of this magazine that I would like to do my own cooking?

Naturally with all these innovations they have fewer recipes. And they put the index in the front, where it is hard to find it, as opposed to the second-last page, where it used to be. Things like this irritate me!

Cooking Light is going down.

You heard it here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Music to my ears

I was using my old cell phone as an alarm clock and it kicked because Howard took the Sim card out. So I found this great vintage clock radio I bought at a garage sale last summer and plugged it in.

That is the way it works with garage sale finds. You store them away until the one you have breaks, and then the garage sale purchase gets pressed into service. The trick is, of course, to be able to find the thing when you need it. Luckily my clock radio had not strayed far.

See, I am listening to it right now. It is in the other room and it is playing a Brahms Hungarian Rhapsody. Already it is sabotaging my day! Because I cannot work and listen to stuff like that. I am going to have to go and switch it off.

My mother gets all combative in these situations. Once they started playing the Brahms Clarinet Quintet, I think it was, in the car, and I changed the station.

She says, "What, you don't like Brahms?"

Yes I like Brahms! That is the whole trouble. I would crash the car!

Anyway, this radio. I love it because it is the exact model I had when I was in high school. The exact same General Electric '70s made-in-Singapore model. It has the old-fashioned numbers that flip. Sometimes you can hear them flipping. The greatest thing is the alarm. You set it just with a dial. It takes two seconds. You do not have to sit there holding a button down setting the alarm to the exact minute. You just put it around "7" or one of the dots between "7" and "8" that denotes, say, 7:15.


Now, if I could only throw out my old cell phone. But I cannot do that! Leonard Pennario used to talk on that cell phone. He used to borrow it. And when he called me on it his name would blink up. Important to history!

I am a prisoner of my stuff.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tote that barge, lift that bale

I went back to the gym today.

Ow ow ow ow ow.

I did Mini Body Sculpt, a half-hour exercise program. And how long I was away from the gym showed in how many people commented on my braces.

They have been off forever!

I kept lying and saying they had just come off. Hee hee.

But then I got on my mat with my weights and it all showed, how long I had been away.

I am trying to exercise because I belong to this Web site where you enter what you eat and what you do. I felt guilty entering no exercise into the Exercise Log so it is time to start.

One bright thing about this log, if you cook dinner, you can enter that as exercise. Cooking burns 115 calories an hour. That is what this site says.

If you play the piano, that is exercise too! Playing the piano burns 143 calories an hour. Wow, playing the piano burns more calories than cooking? Who would have guessed that? Leonard Pennario used to burn almost 300 calories a day just from practicing.

Playing the accordion burns only 103 calories.

However if you play trombone for an hour you skyrocket up to 201.

I should take up trombone!

Monday, February 22, 2010

'Who did your teeth?'

Over the weekend I went to the Peter Serkin concert, pianist Peter Serkin with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, and I saw the Kraemers. They sit behind me.

My brother George went with me and he was laughing that it is just like at a Bills game, you get to know the people who sit in the same section.

Anyway at halftime, I mean intermission, Mrs. Kraemer asked me, "Who did your teeth?"

She was telling me how nice they looked! That was so sweet of her. It made me feel all happy and glowing. I love the way she asked who did them. I like that phrasing.

I told her Dr. Kevin Hanley did them. He is my Facebook friend on Kenmore Avenue.

"They look beautiful," Mrs. Kraemer said.

She said she and her husband know Dr. Hanley. She said her husband is a dentist. Well, I guess he is retired now. But I realize that all this time when I have been saying Mr. Kraemer it is wrong. He is Dr. Kraemer!

This is all so ridiculously Buffalo but I am supposed to tell Dr. Hanley that the Kraemers say hello.

Which reminds me, I have totally dropped the ball on a lot of things and my appointment with Dr. Kevin was one of them. I was supposed to have gone there two weeks ago, zut alors, alors, alors. At least I have been wearing my retainer at night. I have only missed two nights which is not bad considering. This is a new habit with me, wearing this retainer. And it surprising how easy it is to slip up, to go to bed and fall asleep never thinking of putting the things in.

There are really two separate retainers, one for the uppers and one for the lowers. That is a picture of a retainer up above. And here is what they look like on my dresser except for my case is sparkly red.

Wow, it is hard to find good pictures of retainers! Most of the pictures are so gross.

Anyway, what with my head full of Leonard Pennario it is sometimes hard to remember to put that retainer in, too. But I have been doing all right.

Today is the day I make my appointment to go on in.

Thank you to the Kraemers for the handy reminder.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Not-so-small potatoes

Today at Tops I picked up a bag of potatoes for my mother and me to split.

And zut alors, I felt myself turning into my mother!

What happens is, I find the potatoes. They are five pounds of russets for $1.50. And there is a tag on the potatoes. They say: Buy this bag of potatoes and save $1.00 on two packs of Hillshire Farms Sausage.

What about Tupac Shakur? That is he up above!

Anyway, being the tight-fisted German I am off I go to the sausage department. And there is Hillshire Farms Sausage. It is on sale for something like 30 cents off. With my $1 off coupon that would mean 80 cents off.

Not good enough for me!

I spotted a stick-on coupon for 55 cents off stuck to a beef Hillshire Farms. I wanted a turkey Hillshire Farms so I peeled off the coupon and stuck it on the one I wanted. Then I ransacked the sausage bin hoping there was another 55-cent coupon. Criminy, there was not.

So I took what I had. And you know what, it was not bad. They doubled my 55 cent stick-um coupon. Then I got my dollar off. By the time I got back to my car, I was a happy camper, and not just because I had Leonard Pennario's Debussy preludes all cued up and ready to go.

And here is what is funny.

At home I find myself standing in my kitchen studying my receipt and gloating.

Isn't that funny?

The satisfaction you get from accomplishing these dumb things.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A visit to Big Red

Every once in a while your life takes funny turns and we have had one of those situations. There was this house on Symphony Circle that Howard and I looked at a couple of years ago and thought about buying. Well, it was mostly me. I loved this house and I dragged Howard in to see it. That was a crazy year for me. I looked at all these houses and then I met Leonard Pennario and went to Califiornia.

This house on Symphony Circle, we called it Big Red because it would have been the little sister of Big Blue. See that picture above? That is Big Red visible at the far left.

There were many things about Big Red we loved including that when you are heading down Wadsworth Avenue from Allen Street, Big Red looms over the end of the street. It is as if the world leads to Big Red! But the trouble was, Big Red was all but gutted. There were just holes in the floor where bathrooms were. It would have taken a ton of work and money and it was hopeless so we just went home.

And that was the situation.

Until now. Recently we found that Big Red was bought by my cousin Katie and her husband Pat. Katie is my Uncle James' daughter, my Uncle James who gave me away for my wedding. We saw them at Uncle James' on New Year's Eve and she asked me: "Did you look at a house on Symphony Circle?"

And I said, "Yes!"

She said, "The realtor told me someone from The Buffalo News had looked at it and I knew it was you!"

The other night, Howard and I got together with Katie and Pat and we showed them Big Blue and they then took us around Big Red. And then we dined at Prospero, this wonderful new Italian place across from Kleinhans Music Hall.

Walking around Big Red I could not believe my eyes.

What a difference!

I was just standing there with my mouth open!

I could not get over it because I never imagined that I would ever be walking into that house again, let alone in my stocking feet, carrying a glass of red wine. That is a phrase I love, in your stocking feet. Anyway. You know how it is when you look at a house, it dominates your mind for a while. But I never thought Big Red would cross my radar again. Now here I was in it! Having a glass of wine! Rejoicing with Katie and Pat about how great it looked.

I am so happy for all of them: Katie, Pat and Big Red. And their children, and their dogs and cats. They have two of the greatest dogs, big, heavy Labs with big wide heads.

Just to give you an idea of Big Red's magnificence here is a picture of Howard in the shower.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Zut alors, I thought I fasted on Ash Wednesday and it turned out I was a pig!

There is this Catholic Web log I check in on now and then and I just took a break from my Leonard Pennario book to check in on it. Was that ever a mistake! The priest who runs the Web log had asked people to 'fess up on what they ate on Ash Wednesday and at last count 115 people had.

I could not believe those people.

"One can of sardines, a banana and a glass of orange juice, all at about noon…nothing else." That is the first comment. And it is downhill from there.

"For the whole day I only drank water (about 2 pitchers) and then three crackers after evening liturgy…"

"A slice of rye bread for supper."

"One bowl of porridge a day for Lent. Plenty of tea and coffee though as I have quite a physical job."

Who are these people? Where do they come from?

What is all this "supper"?

Another thing, what is this "porridge" everyone is eating? What is this, "The Three Bears"?

And all this coffee. I would not sleep for a year.

Here is a classic:

Breakfast – one slice of bread, glass of water
Lunch – water
Dinner – wasn’t till I got home after singing at Mass – 1.5 dinner rolls, water.

Got to get that in there, about singing at Mass, you know?

Another goodie:

Breakfast: two slices of toast and a glass of juice.
Lunch: nothing
Dinner: two pancakes, no extras, glass of juice
Supper: one banana

I thought I was doing well until the banana, but a check of the fish eaters website revealed that a banana was, apparently, acceptable. In hindsight, I think not.

What in the world? I have no doubt these people are holy. But I checked the rules for the Ash Wednesday fast and it is not meat, but you are allowed three meals, one of them a full meal, the other two not. There is nothing about porridge in there. These uberfasters make it so tough for the rest of us!

On the bright side, there is one woman who wrote that at midnight she just couldn't stand it any more and headed to the kitchen for two eggs and a bit of red wine. Ha, ha! Maybe I wrote that and I forgot.

I also like the one priest who went out to eat and had a beer.

OK, I am going to wind this up and stop mocking out my fellow Catholics.

I am already going to Purgatory for a really, really, really long time.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Holy computer, Batman

My Ash Wednesday is off to a crazy start!

Last night I had these weird nightmares. This will teach me to write on my Web log about Larry Solomon. I was punished for yesterday's post! I dreamed that there were all these little vacuum cleaners and little Larry Solomon heads all scuttling around on the carpet. It was kind of Satanic and I woke shivering.

I went back to sleep after that but things were not the same. They are not, after you dream of little Larry Solomons and little vacuum cleaners. That was really creepy!

When I got up I got my coffee as usual and settled in at the computer hoping to get some work done. And as soon as I turned on the computer it began blasting Gregorian chant.

It must have been some podcast, is all I can think. Being a nerd I subscribe to a bunch of Catholic and classical music podcasts. But I could not find anything about it on the computer and I could not even find a way to turn the volume down.

So I worked for a while, listening to this chant. Periodically the thing would pause for a prayer or a reading from St. Paul or something. That is why I think it was a podcast.

After a while I began getting worried about it because it was hard to concentrate on other stuff while it was playing. I restarted the computer. And now the plot thickens.

When the computer came back on, it was not playing Gregorian chant. It was blasting Pennario playing Bartok! I recognized it instantly. I was just listening to that yesterday and that is not a recording you forget.

Fine, I love that performance. So I listened to it. When the Bartok ended, the computer fell silent and I forgot all about the problems.

Then, without warning, after half an hour, the chant started up again. No rhyme or reason.

Perhaps the computer is doing penance for Lent!

Perhaps it is running from the devil.

Next thing you know it will begin a fast. When I get on Epicurious it will not let me see any meat recipes.

When I get on my diet site and confess that I had a glass of wine, the computer will scold me and read to me from St. Paul.

When I go looking for Pennario on YouTube it will instead start showing me "The Ten Commandments."

That is coming! I can feel it.

Who knows what tomorrow may bring?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Living in a vacuum

Today is Mardi Gras, in celebration of which I have Larry here cleaning the house. You can hear the vacuum cleaner from miles away.

Clackety clackety clack clack clack!

That is Larry vacuuming up my Mardi Gras beads.

That picture above? It is of the inside of the vacuum cleaner. The vacuum cleaner is called the Shark and it eats everything.

If you leave anything lying around anywhere Larry will vacuum it up. Anything I really need to protect, I have to take it upstairs and there is a place I put it, on top of this pile of Leonard Pennario records. The Mardi Gras beads were not on top of the Leonard Pennario records so they have been vacuumed up.

You know what, it does not matter. Mardi Gras is starting to bug me.

I liked Mardi Gras more before it got so big. It used to be strictly in New Orleans. Back then if you made red beans and rice for Mardi Gras you would feel really hip.

Now Mardi Gras is everywhere so as they used to say in Monty Python, "Oh, you're no fun any more!"

And here is one other thing.

No one who celebrates Mardi Gras ever does Lent!

Mardi Gras is supposed to be this big blowout you get to enjoy right before Ash Wednesday ...

...descends and you are stuck. You have Lent for a whole 40 days and you are supposed to be living austerely and doing charity and almsgiving. Almsgiving, that is a word I love. Not that I am so good about doing it.

In this History Channel world that dumbs everything down, this has all been lost. And all anyone knows about Mardi Gras is, it is this festival. Probably they think it is supposed to brighten up winter, or something.Who knows.

But you can tell how ignorant people are by the way people are holding Mardi Gras parties next weekend. That is so wrong-headed! You cannot have Mardi Gras next weekend. It is already Lent!

You can hold your Mardi Gras the weekend before but not the weekend after.

As usual nobody asked me.

Am I the only one vexed by all this? Well, there is nothing to be done.

I should just have a Hurricane and forget about it.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lobsters on parade

It has taken me until now to recover from cooking my St. Valentine's Day dinner yesterday. By the way, I was at the Latin Mass at Our Lady Help of Christians yesterday, and the priest there said that yesterday was not at the moment technically St. Valentine's feast day. He said that Valentine had been bumped in favor of two other saints.

I was with my friend Michelle and I poked her and pointed to the missal. There it was, in the missal, Feb. 14, St.Valentine, Priest, Martyr.

Right now I am looking at my Catholic wall calendar and it also has St. Valentine for yesterday. It says "Quinquagesima Sunday." Which was yesterday. "2nd Class - Violet. St. Valentine, PrM."

These abbreviations crack me up. PrM could mean Prime Minister!

But in any case, yes, it was St. Valentine's Day, and so after Mass and after going for a V-Day beer at the legendary Otto's...

... with Michelle, I went to the Grant Street Tops and bought two lobsters to celebrate. Howard cannot imagine St. Valentine's Day without lobster.

Squeamishly I had the fish folks at Tops steam the lobster. Good thing I did, too. At the checkout the girl said that last week one of them got out at the checkout and started walking around!

"And he looked at me," she said. "It was awful because their eyes, like, aren't in sockets. They're just there. And he looked at me."

She said she asked the lobster's owner: "Can't you, like, do something with him?"

Ha, ha! This was a Buffalo situation with a whole bunch of strangers in the checkout line all gathered 'round, laughing at the lobster story and asking questions.

There is a classic story in a Texas cookbook about a hostess trying to cook lobster for Leonard Pennario. I will have to quote her in the book. She headlined this one menu: "A Post-Concert Dinner for Leonard Pennario." It included lobster which was one of his favorite things.

Things get so discombobulated that she winds up telling Pennario, "The concert was lovely, Lobster!"

But that is another story for another day.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Ancient Italian secret

This morning I went walking with my brother George and our friend Gary. Gary is Italian and he knows Italian ways and here is a secret he told me. Well, it was not a secret to him. But it was to me!

Gary says you can go into any pizzeria and buy pizza dough. Just the dough, without the pizza.

"Oh yeah," he said. "Just ask for it. They'll charge you about a buck. Then you go home and make your own pizza."

Who knew you could do that?

Has anyone else ever done that or is it just him?

Gary says he has done that many times at Bob and John's on Hertel. He has no use for frozen dough because he says you have to wait half a day for it to thaw. You may as well make it yourself. That is what I sometimes do because for some reason it feels very good to knead pizza dough, not sure why, but there it is. It kneads up really easy and fast and then you just toss it in a bowl and come back for it in an hour or so.

Once Howard helped me with the dough and he threw it up in the air and thwacked it back down, just the way they do in the movies.

Now I want to make pizza!

I have given myself a craving!!

Leonard Pennario told me his mother used to make pizza and it was really good. She made all the Italian classics and all the musicians used to come over to their house. That will actually be one of the very funny parts of the book, about who was there.

I wonder if Pennario's mom would stop at the pizza place and buy dough. Unfortunately I did not know enough to ask that question.

A loss for music.

Friday, February 12, 2010

And ladies of the club...

Yesterday I, ahem, addressed the Garret Club. It is on Cleveland Avenue next to Nardin Academy where my mother went to school. That is the Garret Club up above. Note to out-of-towners: In Buffalo this is where people go to socialize.

The Garret Club was founded in 1902 and got its name because at first the ladies of the club furnished it with things that came out of their attics. That is a beautiful picture of the Garret Club up above! And it looked even prettier yesterday with all the bright sunshine.

I got to talk to the Garret Club about people I have interviewed. That is a topic I love. Names I dropped included, but were not limited to: Andre Watts, Van Cliburn, James Galway, Julius Rudel, Andrea Bocelli (that one brought the house down), Debbie Reynolds, the great Donald O'Connor, the great pianist Earl Wild who just died a few weeks ago, and the great, great Leonard Pennario.

There were not many questions afterward pertaining to Leonard Pennario. That disappointed me.

Ask me something about Pennario, someone!

But I could not get over the attention people paid to me. It got embarrassing because I am not used to answering questions about myself. Also I started worrying about how much talking I was doing. Once I get talking I cannot stop and that can be a problem sometimes.

Later someone told me it was hard to believe my background was German, that she would have thought I was Italian. I think that is because I talk with my hands. It is funny how some nationalities think they have a lock on stuff like that.

After my talk the ladies of the Garret Club invited me to lunch. We had cream of mushroom soup that was delicious and well worth the millions of calories I am sure it had. Followed by a big salad buffet with wonderful greens and Oriental chicken and I forget what else. Followed by heart-shaped St. Valentine's Day cookies with pink frosting. It is wonderful dining at a women's club because you get just the kind of lunch that women like to eat. The lunch was served by waitresses in white aprons and caps. I loved that.

Here is a picture of the Garret Club in summer.

Speaking of which here is something I have been thinking about. The dining room's huge windows had the most magnificent view, of the expanse of yard behind the club, and the bright sun shining in. It felt like July. And one of the women said, you should see the club in summer. The ladies go outside in the yard and they play croquet.

Imagine that, playing croquet at the Garret Club!

It makes it tough to go back to my normal life!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

My double life

Remember how I said I used to be in that medieval group? Every once in a while someone comes looking for me on Facebook and yesterday it was one of my ladies-in-waiting.

Let me tell you, it is great to get a message saying, "It's Elizabeth, your lady-in-waiting!"

That is good for a person!

That is a picture up above of me and Elizabeth, my lady-in-waiting, back in the day. I am on the left and she is on the right. I smiled happily as I confirmed the friendship because every once in a while I forget that I am royalty.

Not often, but sometimes.

That same day I got a package from California and it was from Leonard Pennario's brother. He sent me a CD of Pennario playing the piano concerto by Miklos Rozsa with the Milwaukee Symphony and that was something beautiful that made my day.

"This is a little surprise for you," he wrote. "I'll tell you about it the next time we talk."


We never talk!

That was the joke and I loved it. It sounds like something I would write. Perhaps I will call him.

On second thought maybe I will have my lady-in-waiting do it.

Elizabeth, my lady-in-waiting.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Balancing act

Today on top of all the work I was doing my mother called up. She had this checkup to go to and she did not want to drive because it was snowy and also the Check Coolant light keeps coming on in her car. So she wanted me to drive her over to Sister's for her checkup.

Which I did. And I met my mom's doctor, which was one nice thing. The not so nice thing was, I have to be honest, he had no use for me.

He has probably had it with people's daughters.

There was one time when he asked my mother how she was doing. "Fine," she said.

"No problems?"

"No, I feel fine," she said. I loved that. That is the greatest thing, to be able to say you feel fine.

Then she admitted she had a little problem with balance. The doctor shrugged.

"Best thing, prevention," he said. He told her to use a cane and just make sure she does not fall.

Then I spoke up. I used to do this with Leonard Pennario's doctors, too. I was always asking questions and thinking I could fix things. I asked my mom's doctor if there was anything we could do to help her balance.

He looked at me as if I was nuts. "No," he said.

I persevered. "No exercise or anything?" I said. "I was thinking that maybe a certain exercise might help?" I was thinking of the Pilates classes I take. People are always falling all over the place at first but then they get better at it.

The doctor turned back to his computer.

"No," he said.

He had had it with me.

Well, my mother loves this guy, so what the heck. She is impressed by his computer and she likes how when you leave the office, they give you a written report, all folded in thirds with numbers and suggestions. Also there were a couple of things she did not want brought up and the doctor did not bring them up and that was good news, too. So, we come out ahead.

On balance.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Old Age Wasteland

Did anyone else see the Who, performing last night for the Super Bowl? I did not watch the Super Bowl, I have to be honest. You know me, I was listening to Leonard Pennario instead.

But the Who, we just watched their Super Bowl performance on YouTube.

They seem so old! And you know what, Roger Daltry is just 65. This rock 'n roll, it is not kind to the aging. It is hard to be a rocker and age well. Those words might have sounded OK coming out of the mouths of 20-ish slackers, but coming out of the mouths of people in their 60s, it just sounds ridiculous.

"Teenage Wasteland." Come on.

"Old Age Wasteland" is more like it.

Ha, ha! It is like that spoof on Kiss I ran across somewhere. "I used to rock and roll all night, and party every day!" Just that one word makes all the difference. "I used to" instead of "I'm gonna."

There is a rumor flying around the Internet that Keith Richards has given up booze.

You know what, I feel affectionate toward and sorry for these rock goofs. When they invented themselves years ago ...

... they did not allow for the possibility that they would ever get old.

What is scary though, as Howard says, is that he can remember when the Who was young. I personally cannot remember that. You know me, I was listening to Schubert.

But I can relate when it comes to actors and actresses. Here is what is scary to me. I remember when I was a kid, and my parents would get all misty seeing actors they remembered from their youth. Wendy Hiller or Greer Garson or Cyd Charisse or someone would come out of hiding and play someone's grandmother or something. And my parents would go on the alert, rejoicing and discussing. My dad would be cooing. He and Pennario were in love with exactly the same actresses, I have often thought about that. Well, they were born the same year.

Now Howard and I are thinking, we will be like that one day. And that day is coming! Clint Eastwood is already 80 and he was this he-man when we were growing up. It is terrible to imagine Clint Eastwood being 80. It is contrary to nature.

One day they will trot out Gwyneth Paltrow or Demi Moore to play someone's grandmother. And we will say: "Oh, look at Demi Moore. She is holding up well."

Hmmmm. I wonder if she will hold up well.

She's got to do better than Roger Daltry.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Over the river and through the woods, to the estate sales we go! Today I spent about $100.

The greatest sale was on South Huxley Drive in Cheektowaga. Which served me right because all the way there I was mocking it out. "We won't find anything," I said. Though I was laughing and everything. It was not as if I minded going.


I got a round table for the front sun room for $20. That is because I am married to Howard and because of all his high-minded ideas it is like being married to King Arthur.

I also bought the lamp on top of it for another $9. And a green tablecloth for my back room with a scalloped edge. I also bought a railroad calendar for Howard for $6. The railroad calendars were not actually part of the estate sale. These duffers were just selling them. They looked at me with new approval when I said, "And I would like one of the railroad calendars, too."

Why yes, little lady!

I bought another lamp for $2.50 and then it was on to the next estate sale.

This one was fun! That is where I bought... this is a goodie ... a Talking Proud pin! With a cloisonne buffalo! Sort of like this.

That was a score, I will say that. Not a Leonard Pennario record but certainly the next best thing.

I also got four runners for my table, a total of 11 placemats (three different designs), eight napkins and seven T-shirts with beautiful colors and snobby labels. What else? This beautiful never-used Hawaiian purse, that was a score. And I bought a present for my friend Lizzie. She is always buying me presents from sales and now I have one for her. And I bought red wool socks. That is for when I go Nordic skiing.

Then I almost shoplifted a Crock-Pot Cookbook. I stuck it in my purse so as not to have to carry it and I only remembered it when I was checking out.

"That's OK," the guy told me. "Go ahead and shoplift that."

So now I am the order of a free Crock-Pot cookbook.

I cannot possibly top this next week.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Fire and ice

I gave in and bought two more Candle-Lite candles. Remember them? My friend Ryan knows how to do the trademark sign but I do not. Otherwise I would write Candle-Lite (TM) candles

The new candles are those three-tone candles. I did not think I would buy them but they went on sale at CVS and I could not resist. One of them smells especially good.

It is Vanilla Sugar/Toasted Coconut/Hazelnut Toffee!

What about Vanilla Ice?

After my book on Leonard Pennario is a best-seller he will beg me to write his biography and I will say no. Gently but firmly. Even though I did always kind of admire his name. Vanilla Ice, that is pretty funny.

It is funny but this has become the winter of the Candle-Lite candles. They have influenced  my winter! They have been in the background of all kinds of dramatic occasions in my life. All these things have been happening and there these Candle-Lite candles have been, in their glass jars, burning. Howard lets me burn Candle-Lite candles, that is another thing. Because they are in glass jars and they will not catch the curtains or the newspapers on fire.

"I'm allowed."

Remember that from when you were a kid?

Here is another thing I was remembering from when I was a kid. I was listening to Tom Bauerle this morning on the way into work. I could listen to only a couple of minutes because commercials came on, but one thing he said brought back a flood of memories. He said he was reading fortune cookie messages followed by the words "in bed." It was a joke he had picked up somewhere.

Say your fortune cookie says: "You will be heroic." You add: "In bed."


We used to do that when I was a teenager. Except for we used to say not "in bed" but "between the sheets." Plus, we did not use fortune cookie messages. We used hymn titles.

"How Great Thou Art (Between The Sheets)."

"Be Not Afraid (Between The Sheets)."

Hahahahaha!! We thought that was hilarious. There was one time when a group of us was at Mass somewhere and I thought we were going to die. You had the hymn book on your lap and someone was always poking you and pointing at the hymn title and you knew what it meant.

Such lives we lead!

(Between the sheets.)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A night at the opera

Lastnight I went to "Carmen," the Metropolitan Opera broadcast, out at the Transit Regal Cinema. I went because my mom wanted to go.

Four and a half hours I sat on my butt! That is a record, even for me.

Even when it was intermission and everyone else got up and stretched I did not!

I sat there with my tub of popcorn. And it was a tub!

The opera was fun. Carmen, pictured above, was great. But I have to say this, these movie operas are for the birds because there are too many chatty Cathys. Everyone has something to say. Everyone is whispering to his or her neighbor. Even at the height of the drama. I mean, Don Jose is stabbing Carmen and still the dopes behind me are whispering.

What in the world is so important, you know?

Can't it wait?

Every once in a while like anyone else I get the impetus to whisper something. But I always ask myself if it can wait. So I do not go and whisper. Which, some people were not even whispering. They were just talking out loud.

It reminds me of going to the library yesterday. Yesterday I stopped in the downtown library. I have been wanting to look up Leonard Pennario's Buffalo addresses which, believe it or not, I could not remember writing down. Anyway, the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library is now just like every place else. They have completely lost control.

There I am in the music department looking over books on pianists and 10 feet away is this table full of guys, all of them talking and laughing as if they're in a coffee shop. With electronic devices and everything. And four-letter words. The "F" bomb, everything.

No one does a thing! What happened to those crabby old librarians?

What about Conan the Librarian?

Can't we go anywhere without being bugged by schufts and oiks?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Medical miracles

Ay yi yi, the dentist yesterday! This is the second week in a row I have had to go to the dentist. My normal dentist is out of town, or perhaps he is fleeing me. So I have this alternate dentist who shares his office.

Last week this alternate dentist was full of the blues as she looked at my teeth. There were two cavities. Things did not look good. A root canal might be needed.

But it was not! Two cavities, two fillings, I was out of there and shopping at Aldi's before I knew it. And everything seems fine to this day in that corner of my mouth.

However, yesterday I drive to the dentist, la de da, feeling good, listening to Leonard Pennario playing the Debussy preludes, when zut alors, as Debussy would say. I am in danger again of a root canal!

Only time will tell. Then the dentist starts explaining everything to me. I was reading People magazine with all this dirt about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and I just could not be bothered. "It's OK," I said. "I don't need it explained. I will just do as you say."

She patted me and said, "You are a model patient."

I am that!

Speaking of which, the good news about my dentist appointment being yesterday is that I am free today to go to Mass for the Feast of St. Blaise and get my throat blessed. I have enough tooth problems. I do not need throat problems! That is for sure.

This is funny, the whole time I was growing up, I do not remember having to go to church exactly on St. Blaise's Day. They would bless our throats after the Sunday Mass that was closest, is what I recall.

I kind of like now that they are sticking it to us. Here I was at two Masses on Sunday, and at neither one did they give us the St. Blaise blessing. You have go to Mass on the Feast of St. Blaise. That is today. There are no shortcuts.

My mother on the other hand went to cushy Christ the King out in Snyder and they not only blessed their throats but they did it en masse, so to speak. Meaning, I guess, that the priest raised his hands and gave the crowd the blessing from the altar all at once. As they used to say in Monty Python, oh, you're no fun any more!

The city is more fun. We have to show up in person on the appointed day and then it is individually done. They put the candles in the V around your neck. Here is a picture of the powerful and ancient ceremony. Tomorrow this will be me!

Too bad they do not light the candles any more. It was great in grade school when people's hair would catch fire. "Per intercessionem St. Blasii liberet to Deus a malo gutteris et a quovis alio malo." That means "Through the intercession of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God protect you from all ailments of the throat, and all other evils." "Gutteris" is a great word. It must mean throat. Hence the word "guttural."

Then you walk away and ponder what just transpired.

And that guttural pain in the neck... is gone!

St. Blaise is one of the 14 Holy Helpers. He is not to be confused with our friend Chuck Mancuso's Uncle Blaise. Chuck is making a movie about him called "Seven Days With Blaise." It tracks his uncle to the OTB and I forget where else. Perhaps to Fourteen Holy Helpers Church!

I should really go there tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

It's a slice


It is the slice-of-lime table that I saw at an estate sale on Saturday! Finally I figured how to get it out of my camera.
The lime table was $650 and came with four green chairs, one of which is visible above. It was the crowning glory of a house that also included two great rooms papered in yellow and green and a sun room with wallpaper that had green ferns on a silver reflective background.

Another shopper said, "You can see yourself in this wallpaper!"

It was true! There were no Leonard Pennario records but you cannot have it all in a house like that.

That was quite a discussion we had going the other day about estate sales and whether or not we feel good going to them. I feel fine, I can tell you that.

Now I am catching up running a few pictures I was not able to run because I could not figure how to get them onto my Web log. Here is Father Anzelm, at left with bouquet, leaving his farewell Mass on Sunday at Corpus Christi, after his sermon in which he dissed Darwin.


His vestments match the lime table!

Here is Airborne Eddy in our pew during the sermon, attentively video-ing the blue hat on the woman in front of him. That was one classic hat! It can hold its own in the post about the slice-of-lime table.


There was a neat-looking sunset the other night so I snapped this picture.

Sunrise, sunset.

Quickly fly the days!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Towers of power

Yesterday what with all the excitement I forgot to mention that I flagrantly stole the photo of the Corpus Christi church towers from my friend Christopher Byrd. It is from his most excellent Web site, Broadway Fillmore Alive. Chris belongs to Corpus Christi. I remember when he joined up because it was right around then that we got to be friends.

I am not repentant about stealing the picture. As a matter of fact, here it is again because I love it.

You know what, I do think I want to look at it one more time.

And up at the top is another picture Chris took of Father Anzelm saying Mass yesterday. Father Anzelm is third from the left, or second from the right, depending on your political preference.

One thing, Chris writes in his comment yesterday how much he loves Corpus Christi and then he writes, "I hate to equate my faith with buildings."

Not me. I have no problem with that, I will tell you that right now.

We have had to swallow a lot of bull here in Buffalo over the last couple of years from people telling us how the church is not buildings. Blah, blah, blah. That is my articulate Monday morning assessment of that!

The church is technically not buildings and it is not music or art but that does not mean they stand for nothing.

Even if you do not realize it something clicks in your head when you see a place like Corpus Christi. Here were these immigrants and they had no money and yet they made it their top priority to put up these wonders like Corpus Christi and St. Gerard's. The poor Sicilian immigrants, including Leonard Pennario's parents, their faith meant enough to them that they managed to come up with St. Anthony's.

Think of the effort! This was before drywall and modern construction and OSHA and whatever. The churches' pillars were hauled in on the Erie Canal and horses and oxen pulled them through the streets.

It is like a blues song. Baby, if that ain't love, what is?

So that is what is clicking in the Byrd brain when my friend Chris looks up at the glorious spires of Corpus Christi. What did that picture look like again, Chris?

The Byrd brain is Chris' joke and I love it. Chris is always talking on his Web log about the Byrd house and the Byrd brain.

I feel no shame in my faith being inspired by buildings. Or by music and art. You hear Mozart's "Ave Verum Corpus" or you look at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and what, that's not supposed to get us?

Here is "Ave Verum Corpus." The best part is the look on Leonard Bernstein's face at the beginning and at the end. He really puts himself into the moment! It is sweet too how Bernstein sings the Latin words along with the chorus. Great conductors are great conductors for a reason.

What about the "Ave Verum Corpus" by Byrd? There is that too.

This one goes out to Chris Byrd!