Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The groaning board

This Easter I could not decide between ham and lamb for the family gathering, so I am making both.

It will be Meatfest!

All Lent I have been following this annoying medieval trad Catholic fast. It is not as bad as it sounds -- worse for the inconvenience than for the actual hunger you feel. The deal is, you can eat only one full meal at dinner, and breakfast and lunch together cannot add up to one full meal. Not only that but at breakfast and lunch you cannot eat meat.

Every morning you wake up with this cloud over your head because it will be another day of having to figure this out.

It is like doing accounting!

My cooking habits have changed. Normally I love doing stews, stir fries, things like that, where you get meat here and there plus a lot of vegetables. Now I tend to cook more the "pork chop" way, where you do the meat, then the vegetables and whatever apart from that. That way the next day I can give the meat leftovers to Howard for lunch and split the rest with him.

I have discovered some fine dishes this way. Last night we had this great mushroom pasta with roasted asparagus. It did have some ham in it but I could pick the ham out of my leftovers and add it to Howard's. The night before that I did this Moroccan chickpea stew. But this takes effort and planning which, you know me, I am not used to that.

And every morning I think, oh, right, this again.

My book on Leonard Pennario is a snap next to this!

I am probably not even doing it right, so it probably does not even count. I do these foggy computations and so my breakfast and lunch probably do add up to more than one meal. What is a full meal, anyway? The Catholic Church does not say. Sometimes during the course of my normal non-Lent life, I might eat a little salad and that winds up being lunch. Other times I eat three courses plus dessert and a glass of wine. It depends where you are and what you are doing and who you are with.

Well, the good part of all this is that when Easter finally gets here, you are very happy to see it.

I will be one happy camper on Sunday with my ham and lamb!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


The Leonard Pennario albums I bought at the estate sale Sunday got me into taking inventory of what I have and what I do not have. There is little I do not have, I will tell you that! But one album I do not have is the one pictured above.

Doesn't that picture kill you?

Yesterday when I was working on the book I found myself just staring at it.

The way they photographed Pennario kills me. Look at his eyes in that picture. It was just a strange way to photograph someone and I do not think it worked. But one thing about Pennario, he was marketed unlike any other classical pianist. The folks at Capitol used to like to be "out there" with him and his albums. In my book I have an interview with a guy who worked in marketing at Capitol in the 1950s and he talked about that.

I love the cover of "Pennario Plays," which I scored the other day at the sale.

If you look closely you will see that he has a bit of hair out of place on the right side of his forehead, which makes me deduce that both that picture and the one at the top, on the Rachmaninoff album, were taken at the same photo session.

Ha, ha! Listen to me. These are the kind of thoughts you get when you are sitting all day not leaving the house and working, working, working. Which is what I did yesterday.

I need to get out more!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Pagans anonymous

In today's paper is mention of "a local pagan."

Not only that, but "a local pagan who declined that her name be used." Naturally it is a woman. Are there any man pagans?

Perhaps she is one of the pagans in the picture above!

This town. I am telling you.

We may have produced Leonard Pennario but we have also produced a lot of very curious people.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sweet Sunday

Today is Palm Sunday, or the Second Passion Sunday if you want to get technical which, you know me, I do. Above is a picture of Padre Secondo at 9 a.m. declaiming the Gospel of Matthew in Latin from the steps of St. Anthony's.

Those down jackets! Ha, ha! In Buffalo you cannot get away from them. That is a massive down jacket on that guy on the left. I should have moved over to get a better picture but I am always afraid people are going to look at me and see me taking pictures instead of praying.

A few minutes before that picture was taken the padre blessed the palms. Above is my surreptitious picture of that.

Zut alors, this morning my clock radio goofed up again. Again it was my fault. I had the volume too low. So I did not have time for coffee before Mass. I am telling you, you need that coffee. I had trouble concentrating. My mind was wavering all over the place.

However I did notice this was the day we have the line about the unicorns that I love. I wrote about it last year on Palm Sunday. How is that for a quick year? The psalm I loved:

Domine, ne longe facias auxilium tuum a me, ad defensionem meam aspice: libera me de ore leonis, et a cornibus unicornium humilitatem meam.

O Lord, keep not Thy help far from me; look to my defense; deliver me from the lion's mouth, and my lowness from the horns of the unicorns.

We went through the Passion twice, first sung in Latin and then read in English. My brother George and I once had this conversation about how you can hear this story over and over and the details still hit you. There is the business about the moment that Christ died on the cross (the Gospel says literally, gave up the ghost, which is where that expression comes from) the sky turned pitch black. And the curtain of the tabernacle of the synagogue was torn from top to bottom. Imagine that. Imagine being there and seeing that.

It is no wonder the Roman soldiers were freaking out. "Truly he was the son of God." Imagine being that centurion at the foot of the cross, realizing what just happened. What you just did.

George and I also discussed how every year you hear it, there will be something you did not notice or think about before. That is weird but it is true. Today what it was for me was that besides the darkness and the curtain ripping, many graves opened and saints came out of them and they went into towns and appeared to many. So I guess technically Christ was not the only one to rise from the dead. I guess these saints did, too.

So much to think about!

So little coffee!

After Mass the padre gave me one of the Traveling St. Anthonys. I was thrilled! Padre Secondo takes statues and fixes them up and safeguards them and he has several statues of St. Anthony of Padua that are making the rounds and you are welcome to play host to him in your home. He gave me St. Anthony packed up in a big duffel bag. The last host had donated the bag.

I put St. Anthony in the trunk and moved on to my next stop. This is going to sound terrible but my lack of coffee and my awe at ancient events and my joy at having St. Anthony in my trunk did not stop me from going to an estate sale. Looking back, I am kind of ashamed! I am like the disciples in that other part of the Passion, where Christ goes into the garden to agonize over what is to come, and he wants his friends to be there for him, and they keep falling asleep. That is awful but it is so human. Human beings, we have these limited brains. Something huge can be going on right under our eyes and we can focus on it for about five minutes and then we are thinking about something else.

Well, God cannot have been too mad at me because at the estate sale He showed me the way to three Leonard Pennario records.

Best of all was this Ravel record which, it was missing from Pennario's personal collection so I did not have it. It was up on a top shelf. And it was funny, I had just answered my cell phone, which was my mother reporting from another estate sale, when I lifted my eyes and saw this record.

There was also this classic, the Schumann/Franck. The Schumann is the Fantasia that I link to a lot on this Web log. Pennario had this one but I do not mind having a double.

That face, that face, that marvelous face!

The owner of this house had been a music teacher of some sort and had lived there since the 1930s, is what I heard. That is why he had these Pennario records which you find only at the homes of connoisseurs. There was also a bunch of albums of Schumann and Mahler songs and other things I loved, so I wound up buying about 25 records. There were also beautiful framed pictures and I bought one for $18.50.

I got home and Howard was already gone to Big Blue so I proceeded with my day at a luxuriously laid-back pace.

I put St. Anthony in the sun room.

I hung up my estate sale picture.

Then I poured myself some coffee and sat down and listened to Pennario playing "Miroirs."

Sundays are made for things like this.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Guitar wizard

I got a great laugh today while I was walking in the park. I was listening to my Catholic Answers podcast. That is the show where people call in with all their faith questions. They air it on Catholic Radio here but I can only get Catholic Radio in the car and I like to listen to it other times too. Of course I am always swearing at it thinking the questions are stupid and the answers are incomplete. That is me, always feeling superior.

However, today! Today cracked me up.

The hosts had just gotten through taking a call. They announced a break. "OK, Nicole, thanks for calling in," they told the caller. "We'll take the rest of your calls in just a second. Joe, Tom, Jennifer, wait on the line. We'll be right back."

Then they slammed into this Elmore James guitar solo.

That is what cracked me up. I know it was Elmore James. I just know it. Back when I listened to the blues Elmore James was my favorite guitarist. I loved how intense he was, how he wailed and how he tore up that guitar. I loved this song. Well, I loved all of them. Elmore James died of a heart attack when he was something like 45 and it is no wonder.

Speaking of him being dead, back before I was a trad Catholic my friends used to bug me into going to Lily Dale where the psychics were. And Elmore James tried to contact me there! That was how bad things got. I wrote about that once. Should you want to relive it you can do that here. But be warned! It is a scary story.

Back to today. The solo they were playing on Catholic Answers was on for only about five seconds but I recognized it. In my head I have this immense database of Elmore James guitar solos and this one registered. Lots of people imitate Elmore James but I knew it was he. I knew it.

Time was I would have been able to tell you what song it was. Now my mind is too full of Leonard Pennario and so my Elmore James mental files have become somewhat neglected and jumbled.

I am starting to wonder.

What if now that I cannot go to Lily Dale, Elmore James has decided to contact me through the Catholic Answers radio show?

I had better not ever call in.

I do not want to encourage him.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Bird and jailbird

Great column in The Buffalo News today about a guy who got slapped in the Holding Center for flipping the police "the bird."

My colleague Donn Esmonde wrote the column and he said the guy "reflexively" shot the cops the bird.


This guy does this all the time?

It is so reflexive that he even does that to a cop? Everyone knows you cannot show disrespect to cops. They do not have to put up with that kind of thing. Once Howard was hanging out downtown at Prima Pizza Pasta with his cousin Ron Moss, pictured here on our couch.

Howard and Moss saw a guy throw something, a piece of paper, at a cop. The cops are always down on Chippewa to keep order.

The guy did not think the cop saw him or anything, and began walking away. And the cop came up behind him and grabbed him by the neck! Then the cop strong-armed him over to the cop car and shoved him up against the car and cuffed him and took him away.

That is how you have to deal with these people!

I am telling you this, I wish I could. I am tired of going everywhere and hearing the "F" bomb. You hear it at the next table at restaurants. And from people you pass on the sidewalk. People who are out shopping in the supermarket. Everywhere.

It is a generational thing. It is getting to be all we know. I used to love about Leonard Pennario that he was a different generation and he would never use the "F" word with me. Well, once he did. But that will have to wait for the book The point is, it got me thinking of how much my everyday life has made me accustomed to living among schufts and oiks.

Were it my authority to do so I would clap these slugs and oiks and schufts into the Holding Center, I will tell you that right now.

I am glad the cops are working to clean up our streets.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Movie madness

Movie prices are going up again. I read that just now in the Wall Street Journal. Apparently there is a surge in movie attendance so they are raising their prices. In certain markets -- that is what I read -- prices are going to increase by something like 25%. And you know that will happen in Buffalo. The Buffalo market never saw a price increase it did not like, that is for sure.

On the other hand who goes to the movies these days?

I guess somebody is but I know I do not.

It is terrible because I love going to movies. I love the popcorn, the smell of the theater, the whole bit. And I love the idea of escapism, especially these days when just looking at the headlines is enough to make me want to kill myself.

Here is another thing, I can even get in free a lot of the time, because of my job at the paper. I do not even have to pay the big prices! Yet I still do not go. Isn't "yet" a wonderful word? It sounds like "nyet." And in this situation it should.

I say nyet to movies!

None of them looks good to me. Just the plots! They always involve hit men and heists or the kind of espionage I would never be able to follow. What happened to dramas that do not involve these things?

Nothing against the NRA but I have declared a moratorium on movies with posters showing a guy holding a gun.

What is left? On the rare occasions when I do go to movies the previews make me cringe. They are all full of four-letter words and bad grammar and violence and embarrassing sex and all kinds of other depressing things.

Last week I had the idea of going to see "Crazy Heart," I think the title is, with Jeff Bridges playing an old country singer. I saw a bit of the trailer, the journalist introducing herself, saying, "I'm from such-and-such a paper, and I would like to ask you a few questions."

And it made me think of my situation with Leonard Pennario. I am not saying it is the exact same situation. I do not even know what happens to the people in that movie. But I like to draw my little parallels and I like watching journalists interview people on the big screen. Ha, ha! It is like a bus driver going to see "Speed."

But none of my friends wants to see "Crazy Heart" with me. The idea of a country singer is too right-wing for them, zut alors. Well, it is rated R, I see that now. In general I say nyet to R-rated movies. Plus, whatever happens to that reporter in "Crazy Heart," it cannot be as dramatic as what happened to me, in real life. Real life is always more entertaining than fiction. So I can see the bright side.

Long and short of it, no movies for me.

What the heck, I have a lot of work to do, anyway.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Squat! Squeeze!

Yesterday I went back to Body Sculpt. It actually feels good to exercise. Especially in the middle of the day. I was talking to my friend Lenny in Body Sculpt and after we were through complaining, I told him, the truth is, it does feel kind of good. I smile at more people on the street on the way home from class than I do on the way to.

The play the gosh darnedest "music." Note that I put the word in sarcastic Leonard Pennario quotes.

One song went:

Man: "You are my diamond girl."

Woman's voice: "Yes."

Over and over!

We then sweated to the strains of: "If you like it then you should have put a ring on it.. Uh uh uh... uh uh uh... uh uh uh, uh uh uh....

By now I was lying there like this.

Then there was this number where the man kept repeating:

"My best friend's girlfriend... my best friend's girlfriend ... my best friend's girlfriend..."

Zut alors!

I must want to sculpt my body really bad!

Now I am thinking of other songs that have killed me at the gym. Once when I was wandering around doing this weight machine and that, this singer, this woman, kept repeating:

"I am ... a very sexy girl."

And a guy would reply: "You're amazing."

Ha, ha!

Then there was a song with a guy going... "She's so hi-i-i-igh above me..." over and over. It is always something repeated over and over.

I should not be slaving away at this book about Leonard Pennario.

I should be writing songs!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The app that ate my life

My favorite app out of all the dozens I have been installing is called Lose It! That is a picture above of the logo for the Lose It! App.

The Lose It! App lets you track all the food you are eating and program your calorie count so you will lose the weight you want to lose in the time you want to lose it in. Howard and I both signed up.

Being Type A I am chomping at the bit, which is better than chomping at the taco chips, but still. I told Lose It! that I wanted to lose 10 pounds and I wanted those 10 pounds the hell off me by May 1. So it has me on this Spartan rationing.

Then Howard gets on Lose It! And he says, "I don't care how long it takes me."

End result: Lose It! programmed him to lose his weight by Jan. 11, 2011.

He does not have to lose a lot, either! It is just a little. That kills me, that he has till January of next year to do it.

Howard says: "It's healthier that way."

We programmed in our dinner which was Mexican Lasagna and roasted broccoli and then Howard had a piece of Jewish apple cake that my friend Jane made. He can eat the apple cake seeing that he has until January to lose his weight.

The Lose It! app chews and digests the information and it spits out at you how many calories you have left to eat. We both ended up below budget, which is good.

Bon App-etite! That is an app surely someone has come up with.

I am going to come up with the Leonard Pennario App.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Appetite for apps

I have been having fun with my new i-Phone, choosing apps. I like to horse around with them but mostly I like them for their pretty little logos. They are like Girl Scout badges! Does anyone else remember being in Girl Scouts and earning badges? That was all I liked about being in Girl Scouts.

Those are a bunch of apps pictured above so the non-initiated can see and admire. I must collect them all!

Already I have the Tweet Deck app which is a bird on a yellow background. And the Lose It! App which is an orange scale. The Lose It! App lets you enter in what you eat and it counts up your calories for you.

I also got the Facebook App, a cute F on a blue background, and the Pandora Radio App, a classy blue and white. Pandora Radio has Leonard Pennario which is why I chose that app.

App. I just love that word.

I also got the 101 Yoga Poses App. It gives you all these yoga poses so if you are stuck somewhere you can always choose one and do it. And the Exercise TV App. I have not yet explored that one but it is supposed to offer you 45-minute workouts.

These are all free apps. The pay apps are only a dollar or two but it would ruin the game, paying for apps.

So that makes five apps I downloaded today. Anyone have any others to recommend?

They must be free!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Friday was the Feast of St. Joseph and today at church I snapped this picture of St. Joseph in the front of the church. He is holding the Baby Jesus. May I add that this post is by request! Father Secondo at St. Anthony of Padua Church requested a Web log post on St. Joseph ergo, I oblige.

It is as if we live in Italy! My friend Jane is writing a weight-loss series for The Buffalo News and one of the people losing weight in her series is Father Angelo. I cannot remember what Father Angelo's last name is, but the point is, I have Father Secondo and she has Father Angelo. I always hear her on the phone with him.

We may as well live in Rome!

Back to St. Joseph's Day and the St. Joseph statue. Here you can see the statue in the context of the church.

There he is, in the center, looking kind of small. Way to the left -- it is off the picture, actually -- is the baptismal font which is where Leonard Pennario was baptized. I will have to take a picture for my book. But zut alors! My book is already over 500 pages long!

Today for the first time I wore my, ahem, chapel veil. Remember when I bought it at that estate sale? Today I wore it for the first time. I did not plan on wearing it but I realized when I was in the car that I had forgotten my hat. It was in the house in my Aldi bag with my estate sale purchases from yesterday. So I had no choice but to wear the veil.

I felt self-conscious but I got through it. I have to say, this bit o' black lace on my head was more comfortable than the hat. The hat can get hot.

Perhaps I should say mantilla and not chapel veil. Mantilla sounds sultry and Spanish which are two things that I am not, but it is fun to pretend that I am!

In case I thought I looked unusual, though, there was a guy at Mass with sneakers and a Mohawk haircut. That is because the NCAA basketball tournament is in town. It was sweet, actually. After Mass I saw this guy with his Mohawk going around looking at the statues. Including the statue of St. Joseph.

St. Joseph was the husband of Mary and he brought up Jesus as his own son, even though Jesus was the son of God and not technically Joseph's son. Every time I think about all that I think of how lucky Mary was to have found Joseph. He was one in a million, that was for sure.

It lends a human note to the gospel, how when Joseph found out Mary was with child, he was going to break the engagement. Then the angel told him not to and so he did not. What a wonderful man.

Hence the age-old Judeo/Christian prayer: "Dear St. Ann, get me a man." St. Ann was the mother of Mary and wanted a good husband for her, and sure enough, Mary found one.

I used that prayer and it worked!

Here is a beautiful German hymn to St. Joseph. The Italians do not own him even though sometimes it seems as if they do.

And here is a great St. Joseph joke Father Secondo sent me. Ahem. I will cut and paste:

WHEN Jesus returned to heaven, He wanted to meet his “paesani”. The first one He looked for was St. Joseph. Since He did not know what he looked like because St. Joseph had died when He was still a child, Jesus asked if there was any carpenter in the crowd. They told Him there was in fact an old carpenter down the road and he just looked like St. Joseph. So Jesus went to see him. As soon as He saw the old carpenter, Jesus said “Hi, daddy!” The old man opened his arms to embrace Jesus and said “Oh, Pinocchio!”

Happy St. Joseph's Day!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Idol pursuit

We went to McGee's and saw John Stevens perform. He is the crooner from Williamsville East High School who made it big on "American Idol."

John Stevens was taller than I had thought.  I never actually saw him on "American Idol." I have never seen that show. People tell me how much fun it is and I believe them. But you cannot do everything, you know? There are certain things I want to get around to and something has to take a hit and in my life, that something is television. I realize I am out of it on that account but it cannot be helped.

John Stevens was singing with a great band which included our friend George Caldwell, shown here in this rare private photo with his wife, Connie, in front of the fireplace at our friend Gary's house.

George used to play with the Basie band with Joe Williams. I was thinking at McGee's, I have no idea where John Stevens' career will take him but he will never have a pianist better than George Caldwell behind him, that is for sure. Imagine, here you are fresh out of Berklee and you get to sing with Joe Williams' pianist. Incredible.

Only in Buffalo!

Leonard Pennario and I used to talk about jazz singers we loved. He loved Ella Fitzgerald and a few times they hung out together backstage.

I loved Joe Williams. Remember when he died? He got up and walked out of the hospital and collapsed on the sidewalk. He walked out of the hospital. I was so sad but I loved that he did that.

There are jazz guys who are jerks. Check out my, ahem, music critic Web log about Keith Jarrett being a jerk.

Then there are men like Joe Williams.

Here is a beautiful Joe Williams song.

Friday, March 19, 2010

It came out through the bathroom window

Above is a picture of our crocuses that Howard took and posted on Facebook. I love a man who will take pictures of  crocuses. Plus he brought in the garbage tote. It was out because it was garbage day and when I got home it was parked neatly in the back yard.

Thanks, Honey!

The crocuses are a delight to see! Also observe our neatly tended garden.

I could have burned calories today gardening but instead after work I walked around Delaware Park wearing shorts for the first time this year. There is nothing like wearing shorts for the first time every season. My legs are so pasty white! When I was in California with Leonard Pennario I got so tan. Pennario approved. I held onto that tan for about  a year after he died but my second winter back home has done it in, I am afraid.

I know we are not supposed to get tan but I think here in Buffalo we cannot do ourselves much harm. Anyway I never go out of my way to tan. I just let it happen.

But I did do a little gardening today anyway. After admiring our crocuses I noticed it was time to harvest a bar of Lever 2000 soap.

It was in the garden by our driveway. We have a bathroom patch there. Other people have cabbage patches but we have a bathroom patch!

The deal is, we have a group home next door. There are aggressive sounds that issue from the house, a guy bellowing angrily. We think this guy is the one who hurls things out the bathroom window. Because there are always things lying underneath the bathroom window and they could lie there for weeks without anyone picking them up.

So sometimes we harvest them, otherwise they will get all overgrown. We have acquired two towels in this fashion and two bottles of VO5 shampoo. And today I picked the bar of Lever soap.

Crocuses and Lever soap!

It is spring!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Losing the hour

Whoa, this Daylight Savings Time time change has been tough on me! You think it is not a big deal, losing that hour. But it is a big deal!

My week has been terrible, sleep-wise. Something in my brain does not like losing that hour, oh no no no. It is always later than I think and I cannot get over that. For instance just now I thought, it feels like 10:30 p.m. but I know it is 11:30. I looked at the clock and sure enough, it was.

At times like this I appreciate my brother George.

I have always sort of appreciated George because one thing, I can always think, if I were a guy that is what I would be, I would be George. And it is nice to have that question answered because sometimes, you know, you wonder. George looks sort of like me and we have certain things in common.

Such as this week. All week I have been sleeping crummy and I have been the only one with that problem. Howard sleeps fine. Just tonight at the Hyatt I asked Jocko what he thought of the time change and Jocko said, "I love it!"

I am the only one! The only one wandering the house in my pajamas sipping bourbon and listening to Beethoven and brooding. Here is a picture of me involved in those pursuits.

Today over at my mom's I run into George. I said, "George, how are you dealing with the time change?"

George says, "Terrible!! I had to take sleeping pills!"

He went on: "I don't know why I couldn't sleep! What difference does this one hour make? But I couldn't!"

Me neither!

That is the greatest, having someone like you! It was like when I was in California with Leonard Pennario and there was the famous worm incident, when I found the worm on my carpet and I was so freaked out. And everyone was telling me it was no big deal, it was just nature, blah blah blah. And then I told Pennario about it and he exclaimed: "Oh, how awful!!! That is the grossest thing I ever heard about in my life!!!"

That is what you want! Sympathy is good!

And so to bed.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

And dance like the waves of the sea

My mother and I got into a discussion as to who is supposed to be singing "Danny Boy." I always thought it was a girlfriend, a sweetheart.

My mother says it was a mother.

She said: "Would a girlfriend call him 'Danny Boy'"?

I said, "I don't know, maybe."

My mother thought maybe it could even be Danny Boy's grandmother singing the song.

Only we could be having this conversation! Here is a "Danny Boy" I love, played by Bill Evans. It has no words so you will not be puzzling over what my mother and I were puzzling over.

Above is a great picture I found of an old St. Patrick's Day Parade in Buffalo, on Elk Street, in 1936. I dined out on Elk Street just last week! I had a fish fry. Looking at that photo I think how similar the parade was I saw just the other day. We had the elevator construction union marching just like in the picture.

I like the Feast of St. Patrick in part because you know me, I like to celebrate a great feast of the Catholic Church. Also to me it means spring. There was nothing like the sight on Sunday at the St. Patrick's Day Parade of all those shivering girls out there dancing, behaving as if it were summer.

My favorite float belonged to, I think, the Woodgate Academy of Irish Dance. All these moppets dancing, and the truck was jouncing up and down. And the truck had a big sign that read: "AND DANCE LIKE THE WAVES OF THE SEA." -- W.B. YEATS.

That is spring!

Also the other day I got my annual postcard from the Hotel Lenhart. That is this hotel down near Chautauqua that is like something out of the movies. It is the last great summer resort hotel from the 1880s surviving on Lake Chautauqua. Well, there is one other one and that is the Athanaeum on the grounds of the Chautauqua Institution. Here is a picture of the Hotel Lenhart.

The Hotel Lenhart sends postcards telling you it is opening and then you may make your reservations. However! You can pay only by check, in the mail. No credit cards over the phone.

When you get your postcard from the Hotel Lenhart that is how you know summer is on the way.

What else? My chives were up in the garden yesterday. The day before that they were not there. Now suddenly they were two inches high. I almost think if I had sat there patiently watching I could have seen them come up out of the ground.

I am not sure I want spring because it means boom cars which get in the way of my doing what I like to do, which is sit in the sun room listening to Leonard Pennario. But spring is coming whether I want it to or not.

Today is the start!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

It's a stretch

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly to the Buffalo Athletic Club. It was back to the gym yesterday with my over-served self. That is a word I love, over-served. Usually you use it in the negative. "I was not over-served."

Yesterday, I was! So today, back to the gym with my expanding self.

Every time I go back to the Buffalo Athletic Club, it is like "Groundhog Day." I never actually saw that movie but I understand it is like a time warp. Today I walked into Pilates class after an absence of some time and they were still playing the same Ben Lee song. Not only that but you had no choice but to listen to it because the teacher had lost her voice. Ha, ha! She had the microphone and instead of her voice you would just hear this sort of soft squawk as she whispered to you to do this and do that. I felt bad for her but at the same time you had to laugh. She was laughing too.

The same people were in the class and their mats were in the same place. This guy Joe I know from the class, his mat was in front of mine the way it always was. And Joe was still grunting and groaning in the same way. Joe is much more faithful to the class than I am but somehow it never gets easier for him.

This is funny: It was just about a year ago that I went back to Pilates just the way I went back today.

This is funny too. I go back to work, and after Pilates class you feel great, all mellow and stretched out. And the phone rings and I answer it. And it's this announcer for WXRL. That is our homegrown country honky-tonk station. I have been known to tune in now and then.

The announcer did not mean to get me. He meant to get the news desk because he had a tip to pass on. But we realized we had talked to each other before once so we began talking again. He was telling me he used to work for WEBR, another Buffalo station, back in the '50s.

How about that? Just the other day my friend Joey Giambra was telling me that once Leonard Pennario was featured on an Amateur Hour on WEBR. I guess he was a kid. Well, he would have had to have been a kid because starting at 12 he was no longer an amateur. Probably before that he was no longer an amateur. Joey Giambra is putting me in touch with a painter who was on the show with him.

Anyway WEBR was on my brain because of that and I asked this caller, Dan McBride, if he had known Leonard Pennario.

I got the Buffalo answer: "Oh, sure, I knew him real well."

He went on to tell me that Leonard used to go hang out at the Town Casino. Which, I was just writing about the Town Casino. What are the odds?

Here is a picture I found online of a Buffalo family at the Town Casino.

I was worried there may have been a misunderstanding so I began explaining, "This is, ahem, the great concert pianist Leonard Pennario I am talking about."

"Yeah, yeah, honey, he used to go to the Town Casino. He was real good friends with Harry Altman." Harry Altman was the legendary owner of the Town Casino. "You know who else you should call?" this guy is telling me. And he gives me all these Italian names.

Ha, ha! Were I writing about Gary Graffman or Leon Fleisher I would not have stuff like this to deal with, I can tell you that. As it is I do not know if I will ever straighten all this out.

My guess is I will not.

Monday, March 15, 2010

St. Patrick's pictures

I did not make good on my promise to keep updating people yesterday on the Web log of what was going on at the St. Patrick's Day Parade. Howard kept posting pictures on Facebook which created a kind of soap opera, ending in a picture of me passed out in his smoking chair. Ha, ha!

Above is a picture of Howard at the parade.

Below is a picture of St. Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland. I like St. Patrick because I do not like snakes.

After passing out in Howard's smoking chair I came to life and we went for a walk and then we went to E.B. Green's to celebrate the last night of Restaurant Week. Wow, this week. I have been eating and eating!

Going for our walk we found that the real drama of St. Patrick's Day is not the parade but what happens after. Such sights!

Then there was one guy in front of Avant being beat up. These guys had him down on the ground and were kicking him. But he got up and fled inside Avant. He came out with a rent-a-cop and they were calling the police. That happens!

The Snooty Fox...

...was not so snooty. Drunks in jeans were coming and going and a bum was going through the garbage, collecting cans. Poor Snooty Fox! Tomorrow is another day.

Also on our walk we saw three people being carried home by their friends and two people who were still on their feet but needed to be supported.

Of course seeing that I had passed out in Howard's smoking chair ...

... I was no one to talk. That is a fine image, Leonard Pennario's authorized biographer passed out in a smoking chair.

Tomorrow, to the gym with my overserved, overindulged self.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Live from Big Blue

How goofy is this, I was late for church today but not because we lost the hour!

I do not need help from Daylight Savings Time to get behind with my life. I can do that just fine on my own.

I remembered the hour. But I have this problem with my vintage clock radio. When I set it to wake me up I have to make sure that the volume is up so I will hear it. I did not do that last night. Then I ended up going to bed very late, and so I did not wake up naturally.

Until 8:43 a.m.!

And, I mean, it is nice that my body clock awakens me in time for Mass but, you know, as long as it is doing that it could give me an extra 10 minutes. As it was I had to leap out of bed and get dressed and out the door and into the car and downtown in 17 minutes. And I made it to church just one minute into the Asperges which starts the Mass. I was so discombobulated I forget to genuflect. I am sure everyone was laughing at me.

She forgot Daylight Savings Time! they must have been saying.


Plus they were probably whispering it in Latin. In Latin it sounds even worse!

Now I am Web logging live from Big Blue where we are here to watch the St. Patrick's Day parade. A gentleman is selling cotton candy right on our doorstep! As Howard says it does not get better than that.

We have a loungey Michel Legrand record playing in the deejay booth.  Michel Legrand's orchestra is playing "Hymn to Love." Earlier we were listening to Bill Evans playing "Danny Boy" but that was too tasteful.

Also in honor of St. Patrick's Day we listen to Leonard Pennario playing his Art Tatum-like rendition of "The Kerry Dancers."

I will report on the parade as it unfolds. For now, up above is a picture Howard just took out Big Blue's front window. You have to love the dog walking past.

Things are only going to get better!

Friday, March 12, 2010

The ghost of Liberace

Lastnight at the Hyatt the talk turned to Liberace. I started it, because I had been reading something about Liberace. We were listening to Jackie Jocko and I asked Jocko what Liberace had been like, in his experience.

You do not have to ask Jocko if he knew Liberace! You know he did.

In this case though Jocko said he did not know him well. But he said, "We had some good conversations."

He said Liberace confided in him, "Jocko, I am not a good pianist. But I know how to market myself. I know how to be a good showman." Jocko said, "Oh, he was a beautiful guy!"

Leonard Pennario did not like Liberace and we explored that subject next. Liberace bugged Pennario because here Liberace was, Italian and a pianist, so I guess people would compare them. And Liberace stood for everything Pennario did not so it used to make Pennario mad.

Last night I saw what the problem was. Because Jocko asked me, "Did Pennario ever play the Town Casino?"

The Town Casino was a legendary old Buffalo cabaret. Here is a program from the Town Casino featuring ... guess who?


Zut alors, alors, alors!

These Italians!

How did I get mixed up with all of them?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

My new look

High fashion has to be one of the biggest scams going these days. I just saw that picture above in the Wall Street Journal yesterday. It is by this designer Alexander McQueen.

That model! Howard said, "I love how dumb and miserable she looks."

He imitated what the model must sound like. "Please, give me a hamburger."

And that outfit!

I really want to go to the Philharmonic looking like a playing card, you know? Looking like someone out of "Alice in Wonderland."

Leonard Pennario would have been really impressed with me if I had been dressed like that when I met him.

Now this kills me, so to speak: According to the Wall Street Journal writer -- her name is Christina Binkley -- this designer, Alexander McQueen, committed suicide last month. And she goes on and talks about how his "art" reflected his final days.

At the time of his suicide last month, Lee Alexander McQueen was working on clothing covered with ornate images of death and afterlife. 

His collection, one of the most anticipated of the fall 2010 season, was shown Tuesday to small groups of viewers in Paris. One gathering of nine people, including Vogue creative director Grace Coddington, watched in reverential silence but for one woman who wept copiously. Even more striking than the small, somber presentations were the otherworldly motifs, such as angels and doves, woven throughout the collection.

I love that. As if he were Mozart and the Requiem, or Schubert and "Schwanengesang."

Not to blame the dead, and may God rest Mr. McQueen's soul.

But zut alors!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A new day dawns

I have been going faithfully to estate sales for how long now? And I am finally getting my reward.

Estate sales are coming to me!

I got an, ahem, private message from a couple who identify themselves as "secret Web log readers." They have hipped me to a sale coming up in Kenmore. They sent me pictures of the stuff at the sale! That is the sale's record department pictured above.

Look at that! It is like Sattler's in the 1950s! Up until now I have been there only in my dreams. Now, it looks as if my dreams are coming to life.

Check out that Lauritz Melchior album. I have a great picture of Leonard Pennario with Lauritz Melchior who was a great Wagnerian Heldentenor.

And that Capitol jacket, that sure looks promising.

There is also this hard core Wagner.

This is great! It is like having a crystal ball. Now the next step is to get this crystal ball rolling. Ha, ha! I love to mix metaphors before I am through with my coffee.

I must arrange to buy my stuff before I get there.

When I arrive at the estate sale I want everything set aside for me that I would want, packed up and ready to go. All the Leonard Pennario recordings, Capitol and RCA. Other quality pianists I love: William Kapell, Arthur Rubinstein, Earl Wild, get them in bags and ready to go. What the heck, all the classical vinyl. My friends and I can divvy it up.

Catholic esoterica too. Anything relating to pre-Vatican II Catholicism. Missals, rosaries, statues, Gregorian and Ambrosian chant, pieces of St. Joseph's New Cathedral, and may I remind everyone I am still looking for a white lace chapel veil. Pack it up, put my name on it, I'll be by to get it.

I also like pretty wine glasses and champagne flutes. That is a phrase I love, champagne flutes. And tablecloths. My friend Marta is also into tablecloths so maybe the estate sale people could throw in one for her.

Perhaps I would not even have to go to the sale! They could bring it to my door. It would be like St. Vincent de Paul's in reverse. Instead of picking up your stuff they would drop stuff off.

Hmmm! There is another idea for a needed service. Imagine how that would look to your neighbors. A truck from Vinnie D's or from Amvets pulls up in front of your house and burly guys get out and instead of taking your stuff away they carry stuff into your house.

You would be the envy of all!

Monday, March 8, 2010

The chapel veil, and other finds

The same day that my mom and I went to that historic first garage sale of 2010, but we made it to a couple of estate sales.It is time to disclose the treasures I scored.

I am usually not one for board game buying but there is a 1949-1950 edition of Clue, pictured above. With these old-fashioned character cards.

I love those! They are so different from the 1970s-era cards I grew up with.

And I paid $2 for an ancient "Go To The Head of the Class." I opened it just thinking I wanted to see the board again. But the game was so beautiful and complete that I ended up buying it.

Thank goodness I did! Because the picture up above, I just took it from eBay. And on eBay whoever was selling the game was asking $25. The game comes with these quiz books and we were laughing about how tough the questions were. You had to know things like which steamship crossed the Atlantic in the least amount of time. Perhaps they have questions about Leonard Pennario! We will have to find out.

I also scored a gold lame jacket. And a chapel veil. I have been looking around for a chapel veil to wear to church when I do not have a hat. It is in, in the hip Latin Mass that I go to, to wear a veil. I have been surprised to find them so scarce at estate sales. This is the first one I have found.

My new chapel veil is black lace, not white lace which is what I thought I wanted. But now I kind of like the black lace look. It will make me feel like a tragic Catholic opera heroine!  Like Floria Tosca.

Or Donna Anna.

Or Desdemona from "Otello." Pennario liked that opera. I remember he told me how she sings the Hail Mary when she is about to be killed.

Me, I will wear my chapel veil in good health.

I will go forward with my estate sale finds!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

See amid the winter's snow

Yesterday I heard the first mourning dove of the spring, at about 7 a.m. I also saw that my daffodils are an inch high.

But the surest sign of spring is not the first mourning dove or the first daffodil.

It is the first garage sale!

Yesterday my mother and I were thrilled to find one on Campus Drive in Amherst, right behind the Sheridan/Harlem plaza. The folks running the sale said business had been great. Above is a picture of my mother shopping among the treasures. See that red car behind the Hunt sign? That was a beautiful old Mercedes and it was for sale too.

Here is a picture that lets you see the garage sale's garage.

The people seemed OK with me and my camera so I went on taking pictures.

Ha, ha!  It looks like the Arctic!

No Leonard Pennario records turned up. Well, they are heirlooms. People tend to hang on to them and not sell them at garage sales. Anyway, I had fun all the same. Just at this sale I bought a beautiful autumnal copper-colored brocade tablecloth for Thanksgiving. You can never plan too early! And about 20 napkins, green and copper, to go with the tablecloth. Altogether that spree ran me $10.

A British serving ware dish added another $1.

And orange towels for the bathroom, 50 cents each.

There is nothing like the first garage sale for you to feel the sweet breeze of infinite possibility.