Monday, January 31, 2011

A day in the life

Ay yi yi, the last day of January and all day I did not get to weigh in! We must not let Feb. 1, 2011 pass into history unexamined, unacknowledged and unchronicled. Hence...

I got shaken down for a story in tomorrow's paper.

I had lunch with my friend Melinda. We like to bring our lunches and today I brought the next-to-last piece of this butternut squash lasagna I made a few days ago. I should make it again! However when you make a recipe again it never comes out as good as it did the first time. So perhaps I will not.

I wore my new red pants to Zumba!

This was Eileen's Zumba class at the Colvin gym. I had so much fun! Everyone was looking at me in my red pants.

After class this girl Gigi said to me that she liked to holler in class because then it makes it more fun. However, she complained, too often she is the only one hollering.

I said next time I would join her.

I said, "Heck, if I can wear these red pants to class, I can do anything."

An old friend posted this picture on Facebook of me in the medieval club from years ago. I am the one in the blue. With the veil. All my life I have liked to wear veils. That is why now I wear them at Mass. My friend who posted the picture is the gentleman in front on the left.

It is Franz Schubert's birthday so I listened to one of my favorite Schubert songs in his honor. I had that recording on a CD in California and I used to listen to it a lot. Once Pennario and I listened to it together.

Speaking of which. Still no word on the Leonard Pennario footage on French TV.

We wait.

We hope.

We cook Sriracha-Glazed Chicken Drumsticks out of the Jan./Feb. Martha Stewart Everyday Food.

We cannot believe that tomorrow it is ...

Sunday, January 30, 2011

That Christmas feeling

Today at Mass they played "Joy to the World" and "Adeste Fideles" which makes me feel justified in still having my Christmas tree up. I took the above picture the other day.

Perhaps when I am done making dinner I will listen to my Carmen Dragon Capitol Records Christmas album again. Already it is only 11 months until next Christmas. We are moving right along here in 2011, that is for sure.

It feels like Christmas also because I heard from a gentleman in Germany yesterday that there is this footage of Pennario playing that exists from French TV. That is so exciting! Exactly what this French TV is I do not know but I wrote him back and I am sure he will write back and tell me.

I keep checking my email because I cannot believe this luck.

It drives me crazy, looking at YouTube, because there is tons of video on every pianist in the whole world with the sole exception of Leonard Pennario. I was thinking there had to be some kind of film of Leonard, there had to be. But so little has turned up.

This film footage from French TV has him playing an array of solo pieces including "Le Tombeau de Couperin." To see that, to see him playing that. I cannot imagine.

We wait.

We hope.

We make Chicken Kapama II.

That is the recipe I am making tonight while I am waiting and hoping. It comes from the cookbook I bought at the Greek Festival. You cook the chicken slowly in a tomato sauce with cinnamon and allspice.

The cookbook is called "The Midas Touch III: Golden Greek Goodies." I spent something like $10 on it a couple years ago. It is worth every penny! Not only for the title but because of what comes next: "Published by the Women's Philoptochos Committee of the Hellenic Orthodox Church, Buffalo, New York."

I love that word, Philoptochos!

I need a Philoptochos Committee to help me get my book done.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Let the games begin

Today was a very ceremonial day. This day usually arrives during the Christmas cycle, while the snow is still on the ground. It always falls on a Saturday.

It is the first estate sale of the year!

Today my mother and I hit a sale off Longmeadow and as is traditional I bought things for me and for Howard. You must always make purchases at the first estate sale of the year!

For myself I bought pink retro beads and earrings. They are clip earrings because I have always been too squeamish to get my ears pierced.

For Howard I bought a Wall Street tie.

They both came from the same sale!

We are off to a running start. We went to another sale too and there I bought boots and a thermos.

No Leonard Pennario records but this is a start.

Wish me luck in my Estate Sale Year of 2011!

Friday, January 28, 2011


When I am working on my book it often makes me think of "Snow White," the 1937 Disney cartoon.

That is because once I read an interview with an animator who worked on "Snow White." He said that he and a team of colleagues took something like a year to craft just one single scene, when the Seven Dwarfs are returning from work and casting shadows on the mountains.

Those few seconds took a whole team a whole year!

That is how I feel writing this. This morning, here I am, up early, and I am working on this one paragraph about this one concert in 1965, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Zubin Mehta conducting, Pennario playing Brahms ... just an insignificant concert, you would think, except it shows me something, and I am trying to put what that is into words in a way that is not boring to anyone but me.

Twenty minutes, half an hour go by. I am moving phrases around. There is something somebody told me and I lift it from later in this chapter and move it up. Now something else has to be changed. It is like Rubik's Cube.

It is like "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."

Wow, the intricacy of that picture! I wonder how long it took a team of animators to work out that scene.

I am not discouraged. I am pretty much done with a good draft of the whole book and after that things should move pretty quickly. Besides I want this to be right. It is normal that it has taken the time it has.

It is just that I am just amazed sometimes at the work involved. That is why I do not write more on the Web log about the process. Week in and week out this is what I do. When I am not thinking of what that gentleman, that animator, said about "Snow White" I am picturing an ant crawling up a mountain.

At least Howard is encouraging. This morning I told him about the "Snow White" thing.

He said, "Well, that's why it's going to be a classic."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The jury is out

Today ended my jury duty. They gave us certificates and so I have this beautiful and windy certificate declaring that MARY KUNZ GOLDMAN has completed a term of service on a grand jury and has aided the process of justice.

Howard is going to frame my certificate!

The jury is not the Muzzammil Hassan jury! That is one thing to keep in mind. Every time I mention I am on a grand jury everyone asks if it is the Hassan jury.

I called my chiropractor the other day because I had missed an appointment and the receptionist lowered her voice and asked: "Is it the Hassan jury?"

No it is not and I am glad it is not!

Only in Buffalo would we have a guy who beheaded his wife, you know? The media like saying just "murdered" but it was beheaded. Say it, beheaded.

I do not want to think about such things. I do not want such images in my head.

I would rather think about Pennario.

Or Mozart. Today when I got out I thought about Mozart whose birthday it is today. Wouldn't you know it, every time I tuned into the classical station today, at no time were they playing Mozart. On my way to jury they were playing an overture by Fanny Mendelssohn. Nothing against Fanny Mendelssohn because I know she was talented and, I mean, what have I written lately? But this overture was not that good.

Plus, it was Mozart's birthday. Play Mozart!

Then later they were playing Brahms. In between they were playing something else. I do not know what it was but it was not Mozart and I switched the station.

Time was, the classical station would play all Mozart on Mozart's birthday. Not every selection is good to play at any time. The other night I turned on the radio at rush hour going to my mom's house and they were playing the Requiem. I switched the station then, too. What, did they want me to crash the car?

I want Mozart but not anything too heavy while I am driving the car. A divertimento perhaps. Haha, look at that eggheaded kid playing the clarinet in that clip! He is so cute.

Or why could they not have played this kicky little Gigue, seeing that it was rush hour and I was driving?

I guess I am hard to please.

I will mellow out, now that I am off the jury.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The fabulous Baker boy

There is news on the sainthood front! It is as if we are back in the 11th century.

For one thing Pope John Paul II is now, what, beatified? He is scheduled to be canonized this spring if I understand it right. Also there is the possibility of Father Baker becoming a saint.

Father Baker's sainthood prospects are not as tied up as Pope John Paul II's, but I am especially excited about them. I like Father Baker. I admire him. I like how he became a priest when he was close to 30 and he had seen something of the world. Nothing against saints who are saints from the word go, but I identify more with someone who has to work at it a little.

I can never get over that Father Baker -- still then just plain old Nelson Baker -- was at the Battle of Gettysburg. I read somewhere he was a drummer. Imagine having those images with you your whole life, of that terrible battle. I wonder how that affected his life.

I like how by the time he became a priest Father Baker was a successful businessman. Wikipedia suggests that his business partner was bummed when he became a priest.

Father Baker was half German and half Irish.

Finally there is that whole orphanage business. My friends Dave and Mari visited the Father Baker museum a while ago and reported on Facebook that what would happen was, they would put these children on trains with just a tag pinned to them saying, "Father Baker's."

Imagine that! Then a nun had the job of going every day to go and get these kids at the station.

There used to be that threat involving Father Baker's. Your parents and teachers would threaten to send you there.

It went on for years. I am sure Leonard Pennario was threatened with that when he was a kid. To be honest I do not remember hearing that threat but then maybe that was because I was an angelic child AHAHAHAAA.

Howard has a friend who, his parents actually sent him to Father Baker's.

"They made good on the threat." That is what Howard said!

Oddly enough considering that whole "threat" business, all the former Baker kids seem to have enjoyed it. They have reunions which are regularly written up in The Buffalo News.

The News is vague on what miracles attributed to Father Baker are being investigated. But I remember one involving a man who was sick and he was supposed to be dead but instead he was bowling at the Knights of Columbus. They wrote about that supposed miracle a few years ago and my guess is that is the one now under the scrutiny of the Primates of the Church.

That is a very Buffalo miracle!

Godspeed Father Baker on his road to sainthood.

Meanwhile you can buy Father Baker T-shirts.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Up, up and away

Today Grand Jury let us go and so I went to the office. What a mess that was. I am so behind!

After work I went to yoga class. That is that tyrannical yoga mistress I took from the other day. She has you stand forever on one leg, doing this thing and then another thing with the other leg. First you put the one leg in front of the other. Then you lift it up into Tree Pose, handily pictured above.

Next you extend the leg in front of you and stand there and balance. Surely it is not giving away too much of the inner workings of our legal system to reveal that in Grand Jury we learned that is one of the tests they give you if they stop you for DWI. They make the person stand there on one leg with the other extended in front. It does not hurt to practice this pose in case you are ever unjustly detained!

After you are through with that you bend the leg in back and grasp your foot with the hand on that same side. Then you push your leg back until you are in, ahem, Dancer Pose.

I am going to have to get some slinky yoga clothes so I look like the girl in this picture:

By this time you have been doing all this leg stuff for some time and the leg you are standing on is tired! That is when the teacher kicks in. She tells you to find the sweet spot where you are comfortable and could hold this pose all day. Then she tells you to smile!

That is when I crack up.

At the end of the class we had to imagine the most exquisite hot air balloon ever and imagine floating away in it. I caught myself thinking about Leonard Pennario and his Capitol Records sessionography. I would like to compare his way of working with other pianists of the time, and I am trying to figure out how to go about that.  Also I was thinking of calling his record producer again because I have other questions to ask her. There is this one album called --

Oh, wait, I was supposed to be thinking about a hot air balloon.

An exquisite hot air balloon.

Am I allowed to bring my laptop in this exquisite hot air balloon? That is what I would like to know.

Oh, dear.

Yoga is a challenge for me!

Monday, January 24, 2011

The day that got away

Yesterday I forgot to write what I made for my mega-important family dinner, the one my sister Margie came in for on the Megabus.

I made pot roast!

There is this great recipe I got out of  Betty Crocker's American Heritage Recipes. It is a great old 1970s cookbook which, 1970s cookbooks are usually not the greatest but this one is. It has all kinds of nice straightforward recipes without annoyingly calling for millions of fresh herbs you are not going to have on hand in Buffalo in the middle of winter. 

It was Yankee Pot Roast and it had rutabaga and carrots and what else? Onions and celery. Margie made this wonderful brown and white rice to go with it. My hyper-talented nieces Rosie and Milllie made a berry pie.

I have to admit, I threw my pot roast together in something of a panic. For some reason I was awake the night before, just could not sleep. Maybe I was excited about my dinner. Also I think my grand jury business is getting to me. It has just turned my schedule upside down and on Friday I was at the office until about 7 p.m. trying to finish this story I had due. There was no time for Zumba. Plus I was thinking about Leonard Pennario and making revisions to my book in my head. That never helps!

Eventually I slept fitfully between maybe 7 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. I had a cup of coffee and then went to the gym to wake up. It was this wild snowy morning and it took me 20 minutes just to brush off the car but it was worth it. Zumba wakes you up! This was Mary G's Zumba class and she is a wild teacher. She gets you laughing and you forget your problems including that you did not sleep the night before.

Because I had this dinner to cook -- and I was making, ahem, Slow Food -- I was going to be a good girl and go home after Zumba. But my friend Nicole was there and somehow we talked each other into staying for Zumba Toning. That is like Zumba only you jump around with these shaker weights. It was only a half-hour class so I thought, welllllll ... OK.

So here I am in Zumba Toning and it is now 1 p.m., with dinner at 5 and I have not even done the shopping. Good going, Mary! That is me I am talking about now, not Mary G.

The party's over, I told myself. Dutifully I headed for the locker room and got out of my Zumba clothes and into my normal clothes. But then my Zumba friend Gail accosted me. "Where are you going?" she demanded. She reminded me that we had planned on going to this special free Hula Hoop class and it started at 1 p.m., which was now.

"Oh, but I can't, I have to go home," I said. "I have this dinner to cook --"

"Come on!" she said. "It's just 45 minutes."

"But I've already changed!" 

"Well, change back!"

You can see where this story is headed. To Hula Hoop class!

Which was a blast. But that is a whole other story. For now I will fast forward until when I finally, finally got out to the car. Two things. One, I felt completely awake and fine, as if I had slept eight hours. It is miraculous what exercise can do. And two ... gulp, it was after 2 o'clock. By the time I got home it was 3.

It is a good thing you did not see me compressing shopping, cooking and de-cluttering into this short amount of time. It was not pretty! Those are the wages of spending three hours dancing in the gym. Not smart!

But fun all the same.

I had no regrets!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Your ride is here

Yesterday I had the family over to dinner because my sister Margie was visiting from New Jersey. Margie zipped into town on a Megabus.

Has anyone else ever ridden on a Megabus? Margie says it is a riot. It is a double decker bus and you can ride on the top deck in the front and it is as if you are hurtling forward with no driver. I rode on a double decker London bus when I was in London and I remember thinking it was like the Wild Mouse, where they used to have those hairpin turns. It scared me! But then I think London buses are skinnier and more limber than Megabuses.

Margie hopped on a midnight Megabus for her trip back home to New Jersey. It is the red-eye Megabus.

Before all this I had never heard of Megabuses but then this morning on my way home from church I was going down the 190 and what passed me going the other way? A Megabus!

Suddenly they are everywhere!

Margie and I love the driver pictured on the bus because he reminds us of Fisher Price Little People.

Perhaps I will take a Megabus to New York City. I have been wanting to go there and look in the New York Philharmonic Archives for references to Leonard Pennario. Watch, despite the fact that he played with them a whole bunch of times, they would have nothing. "Could you spell that? ... No, I don't see anything." I am used to that happening.

But if it did, who cares? I would still have the experience of the Megabus.

A mega-experience!

Friday, January 21, 2011


I saw this amazing picture on Facebook so promptly ripped it off. It is a picture of the kind of drama Buffalo is subjected to on a daily basis in these months.

It is lake-effect snow!

Who knew a lake effect snowstorm looked like this? To think I was in the middle of that cloud of white. I was downtown that day. This was in the first days of December 2010 when all those drivers got stuck on the Thruway.

I was not aware of the drama that surrounded me! To me it was just another snowstorm. You have to marvel at how we have gotten used to this dramatic weather phenomenon. In the picture you see Buffalo huddled on the edge of the lake, in the snow, taking it the way we have always taken it.

The picture was described on Facebook as depicting the Magic and Mystery of Leonard Pennario. Did I say Leonard Pennario? I meant lake effect snow. It is that kind of a morning.

The picture was posted by Mary Beth Wrobel who does the weather on Channel 2. Mary Beth also sings a mean "Dove Sono." That is one of the most beautiful arias ever written! The Countess in Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro" is wondering where all the happy times with her husband have gone. Her husband is cheating on her and her life has fallen apart. Mary Beth and I performed "Dove Sono" together once at Babeville with me on piano. We played at Babeville because both of us are babes.

Oh, look, now I have wasted five minutes watching "Dove Sono."

Then I watched the Leonard Pennario video where in addition to hearing him play a devastating Chopin etude you can see more Buffalo snow.

What am I doing? There is the morning to contend with.

Lake effect snow awaits!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Table for one

Tonight I was at the gym doing a double dose of Zumba so Howard went to hear Jackie Jocko. I did not know he was going or I might have thrown over my second Zumba class. But anyway...

The upshot of this was, he ate at Jocko, and I got to cook what I wanted for myself when I got home.

That is a rare luxury!

There are things you cook for yourself and things you cook when you are cooking for your husband too. My sister Katie and I have agreed that without our husbands, we could totally be vegetarians. We would be completely happy roasting a squash for dinner, or making rice and beans, whatever.

So tonight I threw together this mushroom stew and had it over mashed potatoes. Yum!

Whereas if Howard were eating I would have to add a steak or something.

Even where meat is concerned there are some dinners that I eat only when I am by myself. One of my favorite such dinners is, I take chicken legs and I cook them up in an iron pot with greens and onions and carrots. It is pretty, with the orange and the green, but it is very sloppy and you kind of slurp it up. The last time I was cooking just for myself that is what I made.

Once I made that dinner for my mom. It was just us and I said, this is what I cook when I am alone. She loved it. Everyone loves it. But she said, I can see why you do not make this when anyone is around.

It is funny, there is a guy around and your eating habits change.

With Howard, he demanded bacon. I was suddenly bringing home the bacon -- AHAHAHAHAAA -- and having to learn to cook it up. Can you beat that? I was thinking, here I marry this Jewish guy and I have to learn to cook bacon. You could not make this stuff up.

I went to see Leonard Pennario, suddenly all I am eating is steak and hamburgers. That is what he ate so that was what I had to eat too. What is it with men and beef? It is as if that is what they are wired to eat and that is that.

On the bright side, if you gain weight while under the influence of these guys, there is someone to blame.

That is a good thing anyway!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Gym rat

No one can ever say I am not using my gym membership. Today I was at the gym for almost four hours!

I did not plan on it but what happened was, I went to my after-work Zumba class which, it was great and I had a lot of fun. But after that I had noticed there was a Pilates class. I have been thinking it would be good for me to go to Pilates again, strengthen myself.

Then I thought, on the other hand, I might just go home and drink wine.

Then -- I was in the locker room after Zumba while I was thinking this over -- I realized I had left my purse upstairs anyway, in the Zumba room. So I decided as long as I was going to have to run back upstairs and get it, I may as well seek out this Pilates class.

So I changed from my electric green Zumba outfit into black sweatpants and this chic yoga top I found at a garage sale last summer. Then I went and got my purse and then I went looking for the Pilates studio.

I was late but with a little bit of help I finally found it. I had to go through this weight room I had not known existed. I got to this door. There was a sign on the door saying: "UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD ANYONE OPEN THIS DOOR WHILE A CLASS IS IN PROGRESS."

I opened the door and walked in and there were three women on mats and they all turned and stared at me. The room was dark. I could not figure out if it was a class or what. Maybe I had screwed something up. No one said anything and I took a few more steps in, carrying my purse, uncertain as to what to do next.

Finally the one in the front said, "Welcome." She gestured toward this tub of mats and I got a mat and took off my shoes and joined the class.

That woman who welcomed me, the teacher, she cracked me up. She was all regal and bossy and I loved that, this new character entering my life. She looked great too, which is good advertising for her class. I will say this too: This Pilates class knocked me flat. I actually started laughing to myself, trying to do these moves under her close supervision. I was saying to myself, whose idea was this?

After class when I was just sort of lying there, other people were coming in and I got talking with this other girl, and she told me I should stay for the next class, which was yoga. Taught by the same teacher. She said: "She's the best. People come from all over to take from her."

"All right," I said. The Buffalo Athletic Club is great! It is one-stop shopping. Whatever you want to do, you can do it. By now I feel as if I have moved in. I had ditched my sneakers and was padding around the place in socks. I went and got a drink of water and then came back to my mat. The teacher bossed everyone that we had to lose the socks and go barefoot. Well, I always prefer that anyway.

My great accomplishment was the Half Moon Pose.

I know, isn't this silly?

Satisfaction points I get from finishing chapter in Leonard Pennario book that is giving me trouble: 5.

From finding rare Pennario recording I never thought I would find: 10.

From finally getting draft of the book to editor: 15.

From doing Half Moon Pose: 50,000.

I might go back to yoga class. I do not think the Catholic Church would mind. I know in the past I have had my reservations about that. But I did hear a priest on Catholic Radio once saying that just doing yoga exercises was OK. I remember thinking darn, now I have no excuse!

Besides, I'm smart. They cannot hand me any New Age-y stuff and expect me to swallow it. This teacher did not do that anyway. All she did was kill us. So I think I am allowed. I think I will go back to her class.

One thing though: This will require a whole new wardrobe.

I want the pink outfit in the picture!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

These little lights o'mine

As long as my Christmas tree is not losing its needles I want to keep it up, I am sorry. I worked hard for that Christmas tree! Remember the problem I had with the stand and everything? I am in no hurry to take it down.

What is the big hurry with taking down all our lights ...

... anyway?

Here we go into January and then, son of a sea cook, February. And then March. For months now all we have scheduled is cold and snow. But oh, everyone is in a hurry to take down those sparkling lights and plunge us into darkness.

Well, I felt better today about my tree. I noticed today that there are mansions on Nottingham with their trees still up! I saw two trees up and sparkling and there was one mansion that still had all its Christmas lights on the outside, too. And the wreaths on the doors. Note to out-of-town Leonard Pennario fans: Nottingham Terrace is one of Buffalo's most exclusive streets. What is good enough for Nottingham Terrace is good enough for me.

Not only that but coming home from my mom's tonight I went down chi-chi Depew Avenue. And there were still lighted-up trees on Depew too! I looked in my aunt and uncle's old house at 50 Depew and there was a huge Christmas tree in the window sparkling.

I am not alone!

Come on, everyone, according to my missal last Sunday at Mass we are still in the Christmas Cycle. Last time I checked Christ was still here and born. We should continue to enjoy ourselves. I think I will make up another batch of Irish cream. I have finished the last one.

Let's keep those Christmas lights glowing.

Let them shine!

Monday, January 17, 2011

On the aisle

Over the weekend I made it to my favorite place, Albrecht Discount. I went to the one on Sheridan on my way back from Zumba class.

And I was thinking: I love the brand names at Aldi!

I am in the market for drugs -- ahem, over the counter drugs -- because I have this clingy cold I cannot quite quit. So I went out of my way to see if Aldi had cold medicine. They did indeed! And the pills had a wonderful brand name, Welby.

The package did not quite make clear where the drugs came from so as I wrote on Facebook, all I can imagine is a laboratory in Leipzig. However I did not buy them. I was stupid and I thought I was losing my cold so I held off. Sometime tomorrow I might swing by Albrecht Discount and buy some Welby pills. They are only $1.69 for a good supply.

Other Aldi brand names I love:

The spices, Stonemill.

The mayonnaise, Burman's.

The coffee, Beaumont. I drank some just this morning while reading a pile of Pennario reviews. I made my Beaumont coffee ... 

... on the stove because our power was out.

My Aldi-shopping brother George and I are both crazy about the brand name of the oats. It is Millville!

And George recently quizzed me about the eggs at Aldi. He said, Aldi has the best brand name for eggs. Do you know what it is? he asked. I did not know.

It is Goldhen!

Ha, ha! I just tried to find a picture of Goldhen eggs and what I found was an atheist site complaining that when you opened a carton of them, you found a prayer. It said the carton read: "This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!"

Immediately I had to run downstairs and open the fridge and check the carton of Goldhen eggs I bought yesterday. Sure enough, there it was, that psalm. I had never noticed it before.

Wow, I am looking at that site and there are 90 comments are arguing this out. The atheists are debating whether they can or should buy Christian eggs. One thing all of them miss with their haranguing about "Christian" this and "Christian" that is that this is actually a Jewish psalm, if you want to split hairs, which apparently they do. I mean, it belongs to all of us, but it was Jewish first.

It is a beautiful psalm. We sing it on Easter Sunday. It is "Haec dies, quam ecit Dominus; exsultemus, et laetemur in ea."

There is another reason too that I love that psalm. That is because Howard makes me think of it every morning. What he does is, he gets up and announces joyously, "A whole new day!" And that psalm is all I can think of.

This is the day the Lord has made!

Let us rejoice and shop Aldi!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The deep freeze

It is going to be zero degrees tonight! And coincidentally, starting at 5 a.m., they are shutting off our power.

For once this is not because I have not paid my bill. I am so focused on Pennario I sometimes forget to pay my bills and I have to grovel and pay late charges.

No, it is because they are doing some work at the corner. Buffalo's circa 1910 electrical infrastructure needs constant maintenance and updating and that is what they are doing. There is a hole where they have wires buried and they have been digging in that hole.

Me, I just shrug. My name, Mary, is Hebrew for "bitter" and so I sit around and say, what the heck, whatever.

But Howard, it is different.

The name Howard is ancient Anglo-Saxon for "noble watchman" or, more literally, "steward of the house." And so Howard is vexed. He was in the basement just now stoking the furnace down there so in the morning we may open the door to the basement and get some heat from there. He has been worrying about how things will go as far as making oatmeal in the morning and his shaving and my drying my hair.

Howard, the steward of the house!

I tease him about that, affectionately of course, when I catch him guarding the perimeter. Howard is always checking to make sure windows are closed and doors are locked and the Christmas tree is unplugged and candles are out. He is watchful. That is how he is wired because that is how he was named.

The Howard family in England is one of the great noble families and has produced several saints. They are England's most prominent Roman Catholic family. Here is the Howard family crest.

In America we have Howard University.

That is where they teach you to check furnaces and extinguish candles!

OK, off to bed with me.

I will sleep peacefully, with Howard in charge!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A winter's tale

That is the view on my street today.

Here it is looking the other way.

Closeup of the side of the house which looked amazing.

My wreath, still up on the door because I love it.

A great day to dwell on Leonard Pennario.

Winter is the best time of year.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Back in the saddle

It is high time I wrote something. I cannot have everyone looking at my toilet forever. It is a good-looking and valuable and antique toilet but still.

Today I rejoined the land of the living after being brought down by this bug. Son of a sea cook, I was sick half the week! I blame the County Courthouse where I am doing my jury duty. It is not violating the various oaths I have taken if I confide that in the bathrooms, there are these huge bossy Health Department signs telling you how to wash your hands properly -- use hot water, soap, lather up for 10 seconds, whatever. However. The hot water faucets do not work and you can get only a trickle out of the cold faucets. Lots o' luck washing your hands with that.

I should sue.

Cellino and Barnes, here I come!

Well, today I am better. For a bunch of nights I was taking NyQuil. NyQuil makes you sleep like a rock and you have vivid dreams. Last night I was dreaming I was all excited because I was going downtown to this concert on the waterfront where they were going to be playing Ravel. That must have been because I had been listening to Leonard Pennario playing "La Valse."

I woke up in the morning thinking bummer, no Ravel concert, instead, work day. However! I slept like a rock. It had to be the NyQuil! I was laughing about it.

Then I realized: Wait, I did not take NyQuil lastnight. It was the first night I went without it.

That was when I knew I was better! So today I went to Zumba class for the first time in forever. I was laughing and dancing around. After Zumba I went to see my mom for the first time in four days. Then I came home and made squid for Howard and me.

Howard likes to play the piano after dinner and he has been playing out of this book that Mom gave him for Christmas. It is a fake book of songs from the 1900s. He was working his way through the F's tonight. I heard "For All We Know," "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" and "Full Moon and Empty Arms."

Before that it was "Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue." We have since heard a couple of versions of that song on YouTube. It is a great old flapper song.

Now I should go to bed. It is far beyond a decent hour. But there is nothing like the first day you are better after a cold.

You do not want it to end!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Toilet eyes

Howard says he has new toilet eyes. Ha, ha! You hear about toilet mouth but never toilet eyes.

What he means is, he has eyes for toilets.

For one thing he noticed the historic toilet in our downstairs bathroom. I have to confess I never looked at this toilet closely! But now I do. And I recognize its greatness.

That is it pictured above. Note how the tank is fastened to the wall. And how it is connected to the bowl by that antique pipe.

Then there is the classic line connecting the tank to the floor, complete with that valve. You may click on the picture and blow it up should you want to study the toilet more closely. Which, should you want to do that, I would understand.

We think our toilet dates to the 1920s. Possibly it is original to the house.

When Elizabeth II ascended the throne ...

... our throne was already old!

When Leonard Pennario appeared on the Kraft Music Hall our toilet was already an antique.

I am looking at toilets through new eyes too.

Here is a 1920s Kohler cast iron toilet. It shares certain features with ours.

And for the pianist who has everything...

I am willing to bet Pennario got at least one of these as a present. I would love to have seen his face.

It is fun to study the everyday objects in your home or apartment.

You may find you are flush with history!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Funk phenomenon

Sunday I took this picture at the Hip-Hop Master Class I attended. Ha ha, I cannot believe I am writing that. And I have to admit through most of the class I had trouble not laughing.

I just never would have pictured myself dancing to this thundering rap, is all. With the turntable screeching and everything. Partly because I was laughing, I just had a blast. We danced to hip hop for an hour and a half. Nonstop! And you had to follow the teacher on the fly. She did not warn you as to what she was going to do next. In the picture you can see everyone poised, ready to follow her next move on the spur of the moment.

I took this picture of myself in the fogged-up mirror.

That is me in the pink pants!

Through most of the class I felt like Jerry Lewis. I am the one person in Buffalo least qualified to dance hip-hop. From time to time the teacher would turn to observe us critically.  She gave me this look once like, what in the world?

My friend Gail was dancing next to me in the front row. Between numbers once when I could catch my breath I pulled her aside.

"Gail," I said. "If you are embarrassed to dance next to me, I totally understand."

We were laughing and laughing!

I kept laughing imagining what Pennario would have thought. He had these things he would say when we were out somewhere and they would play this pop music on the sound system. I could just imagine what he would have said about this stuff. This teacher, her name is Liana Veda, you can get a look at her artistry here. Ha, ha! I am watching that link and listening to it and it is all in Spanish but all of a sudden you hear the English words, "funk phenomenon."

That was me!

That is the part of the video where they are talking about me. Liana Veda is talking about this master class she gave in Buffalo and in the front row, in pink pants, she saw a funk phenomenon.

We danced to that song. I recognize it.

Seriously, I do not know what it is, but I just love to dance. I was fascinated watching this woman, really, how just a little tip of the head or the hand can make a difference. One thing you have to have is attitude, too. "Attitude," our teacher Mary is always shouting at us in her Zumba class. You cannot seem timid. If you have attitude you are 75 percent of the way there, I would say.

Just like in life!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Theater in the round

Behold my first two round loaves of bread! I made Heidelberg Rye out of my Mennonite Cookbook. They are not perfect because this is not Wegmans. There are extra, ahem, curves from where I tucked the dough under.

The nice thing is I am used enough to baking bread so it is not a big project, just something else I throw together during the course of the day. I made my Heidelberg Rye while I was working on the Pennario book, after going to Hip-Hop Zumba Master Class.

Today in church I was astonished by how fast the year is going. It is the Feast of the Holy Family. We are already over a week into 2011. Son of a sea cook, what happened?

As long as we are taking stock here are pictures of the last few weeks.

The line at St. Anthony's to kiss the Baby Jesus after Mass on Christmas morning.

Howard admiring the mirror that Santa Claus left him.

Howard and Jinx, the family cat out at my sister Katie's, on Christmas night. Jinx is a darling, beautiful, good-natured black cat who wandered into their house once and stayed. That is my brother Tony at right, asleep on his feet.

My masterful photograph of the New Year's fireworks downtown. Ha, ha! You can just about make out the Electric Tower lit up green and red.

There was this beautiful sunset over the Buffalo harbor that I photographed from my desk at work.

The view from my desk at home yesterday in the snow.

And so we hurtle on into 2011.

I wonder what next week will bring!