Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bumble in the jungle

It got to be summer suddenly! And all of a sudden there have been two of those big bees.

Remember those bees?

Maybe they are hornets. I do not know what they are. But as Howard said they are big and slow and lumbering, bumping into things, making a racket.

I am sitting here trying to concentrate on Leonard Pennario and there is this bee bumping around.

And the worst thing is, you have to club these animals to death. They do not die easy. I have one of those Western New York Values coupon supplements lying around and when I roll it up it is pretty heavy and that is what I hit them with.

When I last saw these bees I used a New Yorker. That works even better!

So. Just now I am clobbering this bee against the window. It falls down. It struggles up. I deal another strike. It buzzes. It falls down. It struggles up.

I harden my heart. I am descended from Huns. I can kill this bee. But I hate seeing something expire slowly, you know?

Die, already, will you?

Finally the thing drops down again and this time I slam the window on it.

This is like a Wes Craven movie! If the thing does not die one way it dies another way.

The good news is, there have been two bees and two bee deaths.

The bad news is, this is going to be a long summer.

Friday, May 27, 2011

'It's a drug'

I have been drinking Chamomile Tea and recently, being accomplished in the fine art of wasting time, I began reading up on this strange plant, chamomile.

There is this fascinating page! This is a fascinating plant. Its name comes from the Greek for "earth apple." That is kamai (ground) plus melon (apple). Wow, who knew "melon" was "apple" in Greek? Now we do. Which proves, chamomile makes you wise.

In Spanish, chamomile is manzanilla, hence the sherry.

Stepping on a chamomile plant is good for it.

If you have a sick plant you should just place a chamomile plant near it and nine times out of ten your sick plant will recover.

What I have discovered -- and this is from me, not from the page -- is if you drink chamomile tea before bed, the odds go significantly down that you will awaken during the night. Even if before bed you have been listening to Pennario playing Liszt!

My friend Judi also drinks chamomile tea. Her husband admonished her, "That's a drug!"

The Germans say of chamomile, "Alles zutraut." Which means, it cures everything.

The English said:

 It will restore a man to hys color shortly yf a man after the longe use of the bathe drynke of it after he is come forthe oute of the bathe. 
I would walk a mile for a Chamomile! Sorry, I could not help that.

Here is something that puzzles me.

You have something like chamomile tea that, as the page indicates, has been used since ancient Egypt, pretty much all over the world, as a natural sleep enhancer and a help for all kinds of other things.

But oh, there is always that statement from the Food and Drug Administration that it has not been proven to have any effect at all. They even did some kind of scientific test and found it unhelpful in 14 out of 15 ailments! I read that somewhere on the Web.

So everyone from the ancient Egyptians on down have been wrong. Europeans, Africans, Asians, Native Americans, down through the centuries, what do we know?

Oh well. Quoth the chamomile page:

Chamomile is used with purgatives to prevent griping.
I guess I will quit griping and go on with my day!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

His Honor, Aisle 4

So I was at CVS today buying those Revlon nail polishes, pictured above, that are on sale. And guess who showed up?

Our mayor, Byron Brown!

It has been way too long since he was mentioned on this Web log.

I have to say this for the mayor, he is always a sight for sore eyes. There is an antiquated expression for you! Today he looked especially immaculate. This being Buffalo I was gabbing with the clerk. The clerk had begun talking with me because of my masterful exploitation of specials, coupons and Extra Bucks. He had come out from around the counter, the better to gab with me, and we were deep in conversation and that was when the mayor walked in.

"Mayor," I said.

This is terrible but whenever I run into the mayor he looks immaculate and I am always coming from somewhere sloppy. Today I was coming from Zumba class. Luckily for once I was not in my Zumba clothes but still.

The mayor greeted me warmly the way he always does and then he said to the clerk, "And how are you, sir?" Then he disappeared down some aisle.

I walked outside with the clerk and we gabbed a little more. The clerk had never seen the mayor in that particular CVS before! We discussed that among other things of great import. Then I said goodbye to the clerk and went to my car.

Here is Howard's influence. He always has me park my car a long way away from anyone else, to minimize the chances of someone knocking into me. Not that it protected me from that Kenmore snowplow! But anyway, I was at the other end of the lot. And the rest of the lot was pretty much empty. And right next to my car, in the very next space, was a big dark SUV with tinted windows.

It must have been the mayor's SUV!

I got to my car and right when I was unlocking the door a lovely and high-maintenance looking woman got out of the SUV.

It must have been the mayor's wife!

And here I was all sweated up from gym class. Well, I drew myself up. I am after all Leonard Pennario's authorized biographer.

On top of that I do believe I set a record at CVS.

That clerk said that my $20 in Extra Bucks was the largest amount he had ever seen!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Waltz with CVS

My garage sale skirt made me the center of attention yesterday. Including when I was coming out of CVS. A gentleman held the door for me and called me "Lady."

It was like going back to the 12th century!

This was me.

My mother said it was because I was wearing a dress and so few women do. Could be, could be. Although I prefer to think it was this skirt in particular.

I am having fun riding the CVS merry-go-round. Yesterday I stopped in to nail a few of the bargains hyped this week. There is Purex for 99 cents if you have a coupon, which I do. And everything Suave is very cheap if you are prepared, which I am. Pennario was always prepared for his concerts and I am prepared when I go to CVS.

Now I have four Extra Bucks.

And CVS played a surprise card by giving me, on the way out, a coupon for $5 off of a $15 purchase.

However. That is good only for three days! That adds a challenge. You must return to the store almost immediately and spend that $15, incorporating the four extra bucks and not buying things you do not need.

If you work things out right you get more money back on top of that. There are already offers whereby, if you spend $10, say, on certain products, you get $3 back.

It is a ridiculous game and you wind up with way too much deodorant and body wash and toothpaste. But it is fun.

"Well, doesn't it take a lot of time?"

No, it does not. Because I cut out and sort my coupons at my mom's house when I would ordinarily be doing nothing other than maybe discussing the Catholic Church's stance on yoga. It is not as if I would be able to work on my book or anything. Heck, it is not as if I ever get to work on my book. So, the CVS game is just a little extra in my day.

My life is rich!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Skirting the issue

Zut alors, I am behind again with my Web log! I have catching up to do. Tonight I will catch up. I have been slipshod with everything recently. I do not know what it is, I am like a six-year-old. It is all I can do to get dressed in the morning.

Honest, I keep thinking of kids trying to get out the door to get on the bus. That is me!

And speaking of your inner six-year-old, there is this skirt I bought last weekend at one of the garage sales I went to with my mom.

It is funny how you can fall in love with clothes! I remember being in kindergarten and wanting to wear the same skirt over and over. The nice thing is, now I am a grown-up and I can do that!

There is no one telling me not to!

So, this skirt. I paid $3 for it. It is Ann Taylor Loft. Knee length. Made in China. Light green and white print.

I came home from the garage sale and put it on. Then I went to my friend Gary's house that night wearing it.

We got home late and I put the skirt on the chair by the bed. Sunday morning I rolled out of bed and put the skirt on again and wore it to Mass.

That afternoon I wore that skirt to the William Grant Still concert at UB.

Today I am wearing it again! I just cannot help it.

It is a great feeling when you find something new -- well, new to you, anyway, in my case -- that you love. Once in California I went to Goodwill and found a skirt, a short yellow skirt, I loved. I still have it somewhere. I will wear it once I get a chance to go through my summer clothes. Which may be never, let us not be naive.

Anyway, this California skirt, I remember showing it off to Leonard and he told me I looked great in it and took me to dinner. Pennario was the greatest. He had that right, just the way he had it right with his Liszt.

New clothes are something special!

They are something to celebrate!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

World without end

This morning I was in Zumba class downtown and in the middle of class my Zumba friend Sam reminded us all that the world was supposed to be ending.

"The world is supposed to be ending today," he called out, "and we doin' Zumba!"

You could be doing worse things when the world ended!

The reason I was in downtown Zumba, I went last night after work to the Zumba class downtown and I realized I was falling behind with all my dance moves. The downtown Zumba is more urban and you do all these hip-hop dance moves. Not that I am good at them considering I am descended from people who looked like this...

.. but still, I get a kick out of it. Not something I would ever have told Leonard Pennario! And I hope he forgives me from the other side.

Which could have become our side today had the world ended.

Here is something terribly nerdy. I actually think about the end of the world sometimes.

It would not be literally the end of the world. At Mass the usual ending for prayers is "World without end." The priest is praying silently and then he raises his head and says "In saecula saeculorum," which translates somehow to "World without end." Then we all respond "Amen." This little ceremony repeats a number of times throughout the Mass.

So the world will not literally end to my way of thinking but there is something that is going to happen. We are going to move beyond time, one way or another. The question is just when.

Sometimes.... shhhhh! .... I think it could happen in my lifetime. I think the world is that volatile.

But perhaps everyone has always thought that, no matter what era we are talking about.

Everyone has always thought the world is going to pot!

Still, you know, today looked like as good a candidate as any for the day the world would end. It was a strange, misty morning in downtown Buffalo. There was fog outside the window as we did Zumba. One girl walked to the window and announced, "It's San Francisco!"

But it all ended happily.

The day. Not the world!

The world goes on!

Presuming that we make it through the  last few hours.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The word of the day

Howard put Bill O'Reilly on TV just now and Bill O'Reilly's word of the day is "craven."

You know how he says at the end of the show how you should write in to the show. "Name and town, name and town, name and town, if you wish to opine... and do not be ..."

And then he inserts a show-off-y kind of word most people do not know.

Today the word is "craven"!

Do not be craven!

I love that word "craven." I looked up in my Web log to see where I had used it and to my astonishment I had used it only once. And not that long ago! Well, I am not often craven.

Leonard Pennario was not a craven-type person and neither am I.

Isn't it funny how you like some words and dislike others? No rhyme, no reason.

Words I love: craven, transcendent, effervescent, twilight, zut alors.

Words I do not like: limpid, indelible, crepuscule, sibling. Account, as in "He gave a riveting account of Chopin's A Flat Polonaise."

Is he a pianist or an accountant?

Do I wake or sleep?

If I keep listening to that Polonaise I will be up all night!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Another view

The painter I wrote about yesterday, Jean Leon Gerome, and that picture I wrote about, "Pygmalion and Galatea" ...

... here is something interesting I discovered.

He painted the picture from the front too!

This is kind of neat. It is like "The Two Pianos of Leonard Pennario" ... two halves to a whole.

You can see the fish at Galatea's feet from a new perspective.

The grotesque faces are more clearly masks.

I do not think Gerome did this all in his imagination, impressive as that would be. I think he had these props lying around his studio and perhaps he had an, ahem, model standing in for Galatea.

The front view is missing some of the back view's thrilling ominousness. The lighting looks totally different. Somehow the back view also has more energy and passion. The front view looks a little sweet by comparison.

Speaking of these artistic matters, Howard points out, and I agree, that the picture we saw was more thrilling than in the print pictured above. In the framed print on our wall...

... the atmosphere was duskier and the outlines were foggier.

Perhaps the fireplace did not hurt. Perhaps the whiskey did not either.

Whatever, I find myself reluctant to return to my old life.

To leave the world of Jean Leon Gerome.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bring it to Gerome

This never happens, but Howard and I were out of town a few days. We went to the Finger Lakes! Why we wound up doing this and how exactly it happened is a long story. One thing that happened was through a strange sequence of events we wound up spending a night all by ourselves in a remote manor house called White Springs Manor.

We had a corner suite called the Nicholas Suite. There was a fireplace by the bed and over it was the picture pictured above. It is "Pygmalion and Galatea" by the 19th century French master Jean Leon Gerome.

The picture had a big ponderous frame and a plaque stated the artist and the title, is how we know that.

At first I did not recognize the painting's greatness. I laughed. "Look at that," I said to Howard. "Obviously the artist only wanted to draw that woman's bottom. Ha, ha!"

But Howard thought the painting was interesting and not just because of the butt. Then I came down off my high horse and took a look at it too. After that we could not stop looking at it. The painting became to us like a home entertainment system. There was a TV but we never turned it on. Instead we sat on the bed and sipped whiskey and looked at the painting and talked about it.

Here is Howard studying the picture and absorbing Gerome's genius.

We got on the iPhone then and read the story of Pygmalion and Galatea. Pygmalion was a sculptor who thought he did not like women but then he carved one out of ivory and fell in love with her. It is a long story but Aphrodite, or Venus if you read the Roman version, brought the sculpture to life. The sculpture was Galatea.

And they lived happily ever after!

That is how the story goes. We checked it on several sites. But face it, something is sinister about Gerome's painting. Something is not right. Howard and I kept talking about this. The coloring of the painting is unsettling. The ivory jumps out at you but it goes beyond that.

We figured the sculptures to the left are other works the sculptor, Pygmalion, has in his studio. And Howard admired how Gerome's depiction of an artist's studio had the ring of truth. There is that tool lying in the foreground. The crates lying around. Pygmalion would apparently stand on the crates while sculpting his statue. Howard loved the fish at the figure's feet and I do, too. Also notice how Gerome signed his name on the statue's pedestal. All these touches are so sweet and so human.

But what is with the grotesque faces to the right? Are they masks or what? There is a face too on the shield and that is grotesque too and unsettling.

Something in Gerome's mind was not happy with the story.

I am thinking it might be because Gerome was Catholic and did not like the myth's pagan overtones. He was Catholic. I read that. Perhaps he was not comfortable with glory going to Aphrodite, or Venus, as the case may be.

But I have no idea if he would work something like that into a painting. I am just the person on the next barstool. Perhaps Jean Leon Gerome had an authorized biographer the way Leonard Pennario has me. If so, if that person would please advise me, I would be most grateful.

Whatever the significance of the various figures, all night long Howard and I slept with the fireplace burning at the foot of the bed and this painting, "Pygmalion and Galatea" by Jean Leon Gerome, overhead.

It was a most Gothic night!

Once I awakened and I did not even mind awakening. Because I got to lie there and appreciate how strange it all was. I was thinking, when I list the strangest evenings of my life, this might well be one of the greats. Our being alone in one corner of this remote manor house, in the middle of nowhere. The fire burning. The shadows flickering on Galatea's ivory rear.

Truly that painting is the work of a master, to captivate us so.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

On the prowl

Today I went to two estate sales with my mom and I bought... nothing.

My mom scored. She bought three pairs of pants! Although they are a little bit big (a most excellent problem to have).

But me, I just did not find one thing. I considered an ornate egg timer that caught my mom's eye. It was just $3. But sometimes you have to attain critical mass in purchases. It was not worth waiting in line just for this one item.

There was also a tea kettle I considered for $2.50. It was iridescent purple sort of like this...

... only with a green top. There was a problem however with how you opened it. Perhaps something was missing but you had to reach down to the spout and open the thing with your thumb, and all I could think was I would be getting steam burns all the time.

How would I be able to sit down at the piano and play like Leonard Pennario if I had steam burns on my hand?

Then again at least I would have an excuse. "That darn teakettle! It is the reason I do not sound like Pennario."

There was one garage sale but what it was, this woman had this cute little house, with a cute little garage, and she had done up this garage to look like a cute little gift shop. She had it arranged just so, with Victoria magazines on a table, jewelry draped here, old greeting cards arranged there. Glass lamps arrayed on a table, a chest full of books on decorating. This was on Huxley Drive in Snyder. I name names!

And this woman is sitting there, looking pretty, in the middle of her things. I took this picture of her.

There were no price tags. My mother and I do not deal well with that situation and she waited impatiently outside while I chatted with the shop owner. That is what she was, a shop owner. Not a garage sale holder!

Anyway. For me it was an ultimately fruitless day.

But as I said last week, the season is just starting!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Say cheese

Today was an up and down day for me at work but it is funny, the things that can cheer you up! You must be on the lookout for these things.

No. 1, before work I listened to Leonard Pennario playing this Hungarian Rhapsody.

Another thing I did, I went to the gym at lunch time and took a quickie Zumba class which was fun because they did all these hip-hop moves I do not usually do. Ha, ha! No one is less hip than I am and here I am hip-hopping. More importantly, after the class I took a long shower. That shower made me feel so much better! Then I walked back to the office in the sun with my hair wet. I know, I know, I looked like a slob, but it felt great.

One more thing that has me laughing. I was on the Kensington, on my way to my mom's. And I was brooding over something work-related.

And all of a sudden -- well, you are going to laugh because it is the oldest and dumbest trick in the world. This school bus, this cheese bus, passed and in the back window were all these laughing little school kids waving at every driver that passed, trying to get our attention. They were waving frantically at me and I waved back and started laughing.

Then I just kept laughing!

Because remember when you were little and used to do that?

Some things never change!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What's the buzz?

Howard and I have seen our first bugs.

Yesterday he saw a big hornet. And we are not talking this.

This was an actual hornet that Howard saw! And it was huge.

Meanwhile I was at my mom's and I saw a big bumblebee.

And it was not this kind of bumblebee!

It was real! And you saw it before you heard it. It was like an airplane! It went buzzing benignly around both of us and then trundled off into the back yard.

All these cars named after bugs. Imagine you worked at an advertising agency and you were charged with coming up with a bug brand name for a car, a bug name that had never been used. What would you choose? That is a question for when you are lying awake at night. I might try it instead of thinking about Pennario.

Meanwhile, the buzz is that this will be a big summer for bugs.

You read it here!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Veiled references

I was Web logging in a hurry yesterday and I am worried I sounded as if those little girls at church were overdone, overdressed, overcoiffed. They were not!

They looked very polished, is all.

And it stands in my mind in sharp contrast to my wedding which, I was flying by the seat of my pants the way I am with everything in life.

That princess-y picture, it's hilarious ...

... but I got it off of a kids' gear site called, ahem, Butterfly Kisses. It was not a Catholic site or anything. I have to say, I did not see any hairdos like that at St. Anthony's. St. Anthony's where Leonard Pennario was baptized is a very conservative church and the kids there looked sweet and not spoiled.

It is just that at church yesterday, honest, I was awed by the how divine these little girls looked. And there is a definite parallel, let us admit it, between First Communion outfits and bridal outfits. There is supposed to be. There is that image that Scriptures gives you of Christ as the bridegroom. It is not just a Catholic thing. There is this duet by Bach that is supposed to be between Christ and the soul. It is this erotic love duet. Listen, hear for yourself.


Anyway, yesterday I started looking at these impeccable little girls and brooding about my wedding and how I did not ... well, this is embarrassing to admit but I did not even have a hairdo planned. My sister Margie French-braided my hair.

I am such a goof!

That and, I had not tried on my gown at all in the year or so preceding the wedding. It almost did not fit me! I had put on a couple of pounds ... other brides lost weight, I gained weight! Since then I have taken the weight off but that day, I was like Scarlett O'Hara, holding on to the bedpost. Squeeze! Suck it in, as they tell us in Zumba class.

That wedding day! I mean, I am glad it happened and everything, but boy, was it stressful.

At church we blew the opening procession. There was a mix-up and the priest, Father Butch, he gave the signal too early for the flower girls, my nieces Rosie and Millie, to start walking down the aisle. I followed, clinging to my Uncle James Phillips who was giving me away. Thank God for my Uncle James and Aunt Marce. Were it not for them I think I would have died.

When we reached the front of the church, that is a moment I will never forget. My brother Tony was playing the organ and he was mad over the mix-up so he just kept playing and playing. He was going to play the music the right length even if we were all just standing there.

So we all stood there looking up at the saints and angels with Father Butch rolling his eyes. Ha, ha!

This all happened at St. Gerard's Church ...

... which has been in the news because it is being moved piece by piece to Georgia. Gerard's is in a bad neighborhood so the bishop closed it. That reminds me of something else. The morning of my wedding, the church was robbed. Someone ran off with the collection basket, if I remember correctly. The good news was, they got it back! Church ladies pursued the robbers down Bailey and nailed them.

Howard said all he can picture is righteous African-American church ladies persevering and winning the day. That was about the size of it!

Speaking of the size of it brings me back to the topic of my wedding dress. That night at the reception, a wild affair at my house, someone spilled chili down the front of it. I had thought I was the one who did that but just the other day my friend Lizzie said no, someone else did. Well, whoever spilled it, there I was with this huge chili spill down the front of this beautiful white gown.

But here is the miracle: Somehow it came out! A group of my girlfriends got into the bathroom with me and worked on it and made it disappear. That still seems a little funny to me, you know? How in the world do you get a gigantic chili stain to disappear? But it did.

Ah, the memories!

They all come flooding back whenever I see a white veil!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Satin dolls

Today was First Communion day at my church and I could not believe the little girls in their white dresses and veils.

They were better put together than I was for my wedding!

The picture above is from the Internet but I mean look, she has an actual hairdo. I did not have a hairdo like that when I got married! The girls at St. Anthony's did not look quite so worldly as in that picture but still, amazing. So beautiful and so elaborately clad!

In his sermon the padre made note of it. He said, "It is so nice to see the girls dressed like little princesses, with tiaras in their hair. And the young men dressed like young men."

Ha, ha! I liked that. It is rare to see young men dressed like young men.

Then the padre reminisced about his childhood in Northern Italy.

It was funny but here is something I noticed. Other than the children being dressed up and making their First Communions and some remarks in the sermon, the Mass was exactly as it was every other Sunday. There was no more reference to the First Communions after the sermon. The children received Communion with no fanfare and the hymn -- the only hymn, because this is, ahem, the Traditional Latin Mass, and we have only one hymn, at the end -- was "On This Day, O Beautiful Mother" because it was May.

Get used to it, kids.

It is not about you!

Still I have to say, a fine group of First Communicants. Very well turned out.

It occurs to me I should look up where Pennario made his First Communion. I do not think it would have been at St. Anthony's. I think it would have been at Holy Angels. I will call them and check. He must have dressed up mighty fine, if I know Leonard and I think I do.

And so into another week.

I am not ready!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The season opener

Today my mom and I went to our first two garage sales of the year!

I got a round Crock Pot which looks vintage but I believe is a reproduction because it has a high and low setting. Old Crock Pots did not. They had only Off and On. Also the ceramic insert comes out. That is a must in my book. Normally when it comes to vintage I prefer the real thing. But Crock Pots are an exception! It is hard to wash a Crock Pot correctly if the insert does not come out.

I also bought a pile of clothes. "All the clothes are a dollar," this guy said. Music to my ears! Apparently he was selling off his wife's or daughter's clothes, fine by me. I got a bunch of beautiful sweaters and tops in colors I love, black and coral and gold and pink and pale green.

It is funny about me and garage sale clothes. Remember that wonderful sale on Harlem Road that I went to twice, and where I found all those treasures? That is it pictured up above.

One of my friends was telling me about how once on Thanksgiving her dog was once going from the kitchen into the dining room when someone was going by carrying a turkey, and a big piece of the turkey fell off the tray. The dog instantly devoured it. What a treat! And ever since then she has noticed that when the dog is in that doorway, the dog always looks up. As if lightning is going to strike twice.

That dog remembers that treat!

And somehow it is always alive in the dog's mind, the possibility that it could happen again.

I am like that whenever I drive down Harlem Road!

I always look wistfully in the direction of that sale. As if it could happen again.

As if that sale could reappear like Brigadoon and I could score more.

La la la la la la la.

Back to the real world. My mom and I also went to one estate sale today but I came up empty-handed, alas. It was too bad because it was an interesting estate sale. The people were a lawyer and his wife who were downsizing, moving to a smaller place. The books they had -- Dickens, Thackeray, "Wind in the Willows" -- showed they had fine taste in literature. They also had several books about music which makes me certain that at one time they had had Leonard Pennario records. Alas, the records must have fallen victim to an earlier downsizing.

Or, more likely, the couple hung onto their Leonard Pennario records. That is a very real possibility.

We open the season on a nice note.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Double your pleasure

What a week for news! Osama bin Laden captured, Prince William married ... and Tops doubling coupons up to $1!

This last event is especially newsworthy in Buffalo. Last night my mother and I were discussing its ramifications. I have recently fallen beneath the wheel as far as coupons go. It is hard to be a coupon expert and write the authorized biography of Leonard Pennario, both at the same time. So I have begun clipping my coupons at my mom's house, just idly, while we talk. I dump the circulars into an Albrecht Discount bag...

... and then I cut them and sort them.

Last night after Pilates class that is what I was doing. And my mom was mentioning that my sister Katie would be coming one day this week and they were planning to go together to the spanking new Tops. I may have mentioned this Tops before. We are all preoccupied with it.

I said, "You should tell Katie they are doubling coupons this week."

Katie lives life in a vacuum. A couple of weeks ago she had no idea who Prince William is or that he was getting married.

My mom said, "I don't know if she has any coupons. She doesn't get the newspaper."

Not getting the paper does put you at a disadvantage when it comes to coupons, not to mention you do not get to read my deathless prose.

Right about then the phone rang and it was Katie. My mom excitedly told her about the coupon doubling.

"Do you have any coupons?" she asked.

Katie said, "I have one."

One coupon???

Who has only one coupon??

What is it for? That is what I would like to know. Reynolds Wrap? Colgate? Redpack tomatoes?

I mean, I am just curious!

My story ends happily. I left my mom's and impulsively swung by that Tops on the way home. I used all four of my coupon doublers! I got great Italian canned tomatoes, big 28-ounce cans, three for a buck. I got a big tub of butter spread free. My mom had already scored that bargain and said it was good.

I also got Xtra laundry detergent for $1.50 each, two of them. And something else. I will think of it.

Couponing is a pain. Even my mom says so. But when you can score big with minimal effort, it is one of those little things that brighten your day.

An otherwise dull trip to the store sparkles!

Monday, May 2, 2011

On the ball

Today I went to a Pilates class. It was not with that teacher who was teaching me yoga before. It was with another teacher. I did not retain her name.

I am afraid to go back to that other teacher. What if she asked me why I was not staying for her yoga class? I remember last time her telling me that the yoga class was better. The other students told me that too.

What am I supposed to do now, say, ahem, no yoga, I'm Catholic?

"I'm sorry, I am allowed to go to Pilates but not to yoga."

That would go over great!

Howard says I should just say my mother will not let me do it.

Honestly, I sat there at work today worrying about this. I told myself Mary, you can go to her Pilates class. She probably will not talk to you. Even if she talked to you she might not ask about why you have not been in her yoga class.

But still. But still.

I could just picture her asking me about that. In that commanding tone she has.

I  could not go!

So I went to another Pilates class. Not hers. Someone else's. The good news is, the class felt good. These stretches etc. are good for you. Only once did I cause trouble. By mistake I stretched out and hit the hands of the gal next to me. Both of us started laughing and we moved our mats. It is a crowded class. The Buffalo Athletic Club is just packing us in like sardines.

It was a relaxing hour with soft guitar music playing, boing boing, de-boing boing.

Herewith, a Joseph Pilates photo album.

Here is our friend Pilates at 57.

And at 59.

Here he is a little bit older. He is 82! He is as old as Leonard Pennario was when I knew him. Pennario would get a kick out of hearing about my Pilates classes. Sometimes I still wish he were around so I could tell him stuff.

Is Pilates standing in the snow? It looks that way.

Maybe I will be strong like that now that I am studying Pilates instead of yoga. I will be able to go where I want and stand wherever I like barefoot whether there is snow there or not.

I will be a changed person!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The May Top 10

This being May, the month of our Mother, I wore blue Zumba pants to class this morning.

I could not help noticing that there was a preponderance of blue at Zumba class. Surely we were all on the same wavelength!

The weather is not exactly great but I am in the spirit. I am going to pay tribute to May and to the BVM by listing my Top 10 May songs. That is an abbreviation I love, BVM! It is Blessed Virgin Mary. I am sure there are some songs I forgot but here goes.

1. On This Day. I am laughing and laughing at this video. I love the little pumpkin standing there with the book as big as she is. The photographer likes her too because he keeps zeroing in on her. The Blessed Mother business is always especially big among girls and women because she is one of us.

2. 'This the Month of Our Mother. This is a kind of robotic, goody-goody video but it was the only one I could find of this song. My whole life long, this will bring back being a little kid.

3. "Bring Flowers of the Fairest." Here it is, the biggest May classic of all! This is funny but I find myself singing this to myself a lot throughout the year as I am driving in the car, getting dressed for work, whatever. I love the Irish accent of the singer in this video. The Irish have such a great singing tradition. I wonder now that I am listening to this if this is an Irish song. The graceful leaps in the melody make me think it is. "Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May." Come on, lapsed Catholics, get back with the program, get to a May crowning this May. Buzz me. We'll go together.

4. "Hail Holy Queen." The video is Asian but this hymn is German, with its fine solid melody. "This is what Catholic church music is supposed to be: devout and robust." Devout and robust! That is classic. And true! This choir really goes at it. I love it.

I hope everyone appreciates the effort I am putting in, finding the finest Mary videos! Where else would you find this? Let's continue ...

5.) "Immaculate Mary." The French have scored a huge classic with this one, the Lourdes hymn. I once played it on the organ in France! But that is a long story. Hahahaaa.. I am addicted to YouTube comments and there is this really sweet comment on this hymn from a girl who is apparently Presbyterian and is saying she is going to become Catholic the minute she turns 18. Do her parents know about this? Bet not!

6.) "Daily, Daily, Sing to Mary." This old German song was such an old chestnut when I was growing up that I do not even know the words. It was too old for us to sing in the hip 1970s. But I love the melody and apparently I am not the only one. Beautiful melody. Beautiful.

7.) "Ave Maria, Oh Maiden, Oh Mother." This is not the famous "Ave Maria." It is the Star of the Sea song. "Sinless and beautiful star of the sea." I have an idea this is Polish but I am not sure. Anyway a beautiful square old song, the best kind. And a square old video, the only one I could find. Someone soared like an eagle and recorded it at Mass.

8.) "Sing of Mary." I always loved playing this back in my church organ days. This is an American, Appalachian hymn. I like its lovely, weaving melody. Someone made this piano version of it that brings out its simplicity. Here is another modern artistic version. People really get into making these videos! They do a beautiful job. This one is a little kitschy but under the circumstances that is allowed.

Two more slots and we can have the Mary Top 10! What am I missing?

9.) Schubert's "Ave Maria," we have to get this in here somewhere. Here it is with the Roger Wagner Chorale, who were on Capitol Records at the same time Leonard Pennario was. And you were wondering how I would work Pennario into this! This is how.

10.) We are offroading now from traditional songs we all know but here is a rocking "Regina Coeli" by Mozart. Regina Coeli means Queen of Heaven. As long as we were at it here is another, earlier "Regina Coeli" by Mozart. He must have liked this prayer. This early version is so sweet. It is such quintessential early Mozart.

I would say I have kicked this May off to a good start!

Now if the weather would only cooperate.

"Be the fairest of seasons, sweet May."

Hint, hint!