Thursday, March 31, 2011

A lot on my plate

Last night Howard and I and our friends Mike and Melinda went to the wild Mexican restaurant Cozumel for Restaurant Week. Cozumel is on the outskirts of downtown Buffalo. Normally we might have gone to Wasabi on Delaware Avenue in Kenmore. But no more!

We no longer feel safe in Kenmore!

What if we were heading home from eating sushi and a municipal vehicle plowed into our car?

The plow incident was one of the issues of great import discussed over dinner, others being work gossip, Mike's mother's funeral and, of course, Leonard Pennario.

I had a glass of wine -- well, two glasses -- which tasted yummy after three days without wine. I am always flirting with the South Beach Diet so once in a while I end up skipping wine for a while. Plus it is fun sometimes to go without wine for a few days so when you do drink it, it tastes extra good.

We ate mountains of nachos. As Howard said later, this restaurant really feeds you!

As far as conversational topics went, Mike's mother's funeral is not the downer you would think it would be at the table. It is an involved soap opera involving Melinda, a Presbyterian with no great love for the Catholic faith, conferring with a Catholic priest out in Tonawanda who, I pity the fool, is all I can say, I pity him.

I got to pontificate to Melinda on Catholic funeral tradition which in its pure traditional form means no eulogies, no cute anecdotes, nothing except serious-as-a-heart-attack Latin prayers for the soul of the deceased. At a traditional Catholic funeral, and this is the type I want, you dot the i's and cross the t's and then you send the departed into the next world and pray and hope for the best.

If you want a look at the old-style Catholic funeral check out this. There was no room for joking! There was also none of this talk you get now about the deceased being in heaven already, instantly. Everyone now assumes you go directly to heaven. Sorry Charlie! Not so.

Where was I?

How did I get from nachos to this?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

We declare war on Kenmore

Remember that time back in December when that snowplow plowed into my car? When I was sitting at the light?

And the good-looking Kenmore cop said it was the village's fault and would be taken care of?

I get this missive from Traveler's Insurance, Kenmore's  insurers. These trolls write:

"The New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law states that the rules of the road apply to all vehicles unless otherwise provided by law. However, according to State Statute (1103 (b) the rules of the road explicitly does not apply to "persons, teams, motor vehicles, and other equipment while actually engaged in work on a highway."

The Village of Kenmore is a public entity which was engaged in the clearing of snow from a roadway or highway and is therefore protected by NY State Vehicle & Traffic Law. Accordingly, we are unable to respond to your claim for damages."

I interpret this to mean, Kenmore plows, or any other Kenmore town vehicles, can just plow onto your car whenever their drivers feel like it and there is nothing to be done.

"Don't interpret it that way." That's what this woman in the Kenmore mayor's office told me just now.

Well, how else am I supposed to interpret it?

Any ideas?

It torques me off because you know me, I am so nice. I was so nice that night and made no waves and went and parked where the cop told me to park and accepted his explanations and smiled and trusted him. I am always so meek. And you know what, the meek might inherit the earth but that is in the next life, not this one. In this life the meek inherit this letter from Traveler's.

Speaking of which, do not quote Vehicle & Traffic Law to me, you know? Having spent that eternity on that Grand Jury I know Vehicle & Traffic Law the way Leonard Pennario knew his Chopin. I do not need these oiks quoting it to me.

I am declaring war on Kenmore. (Cue music.)

Beware going to Kenmore! I no longer feel safe there, let me say that right now.

You never know when they might want to plow into you, just because they can.

You never know!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Feeling groovy

Yikes, for the first time ever I have missed a few days! I am going to have to go and fill them in. I am ready, willing and able to cheat. Watch me.

For now, I must just explain I was a little under the weather for a few days.

I hate when I get a cold. I hate admitting weakness. I hid it from Howard until it was almost over. Then I mentioned it, casually, because it had to do with something or other, that I had been a little -- under the weather, was the phrase I used.

Howard said, "You were?"

He said I am like his mother who always hid her illnesses.

Women do that!

Because you know what, if I admit I am sick I am opening the door to all kinds of stuff including whether or not  Howard is going to catch it. If you do not admit you are sick then when your husband, or whoever, gets sick, you can always act surprised and blameless and say you hope you do not catch it.

The good part about my illness was that it allowed me to think. So I could sit at my desk and work on the ol' book which, it is coming along nicely, almost done with a good draft. Hahaha, that would be a good answer if you are in a bar and someone asks how that writing project is going. You can say, "I am almost done with a good draft." You are not lying! It is the Genny you are working on!

Where was I?

Oh, right, sitting at my desk. It crossed my mind that maybe Leonard set this up, from the hereafter. I can see him talking to God: "Give her a cold, not so bad she cannot think or work or sleep, just bad enough so she cannot go Zumba dancing or out with her friends." These are the wages of my lighting all those candles for him down at St. Anthony's. End result, as we say here in Buffalo: Pennario now has God's ear, and can pull off things like this, in return for playing God "Midnight on the Cliffs" or Schubert's "Serenade."

However it happened, I did end up putting in a lot of good time, all the while drinking tons of herb tea and sucking down cough drops.

And I am now well again. Today I will Zumba.

After I have done more work, that is.

I am into the groove now!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mighty mouse

For a few weeks now I have been finding, ahem, evidence of mice in this one lazy Susan in the kitchen. It is this big lazy Susan cabinet down below, where mice must get in through the wall or something.

Larry was here the other day to clean and I told him of this, ahem, evidence. And I asked him to clean it out for me please. And he did!


A few days later there it was again!

I was taking a break from Leonard Pennario because I had to eat and I was going into the cabinet looking for barley for this stew I was making. There is this big carefully sealed plastic jar where I keep bags of beans and barley and things like that. Only things that begin with a "B" go in that jar! But that is a story for another day.

For now my story is about I pulled out this one bag and it began spilling all over.

And I realized that the bag had been chewed!

Mice had gotten into this jar somehow!

It seemed impossible. This was serious plastic. How did they get in? I am looking at this and I am looking at that and then suddenly I see it: a huge hole in the plastic lid.

The mice had gnawed through it!

How long would that have taken? It was like "Escape From Alcatraz." These mice came in night after night in the dead of night, chewing away, tunneling into this jar. How did they even know food was in there?

Mice sure are mysterious!

And my house is sure mysterious too. Allow me to cry the blues for a moment: Everyone else can put bags of stuff everywhere and, no problem, no mice. Me, I have things all sealed up nicely, or as my mom said, "micely" -- and still they get in. It does not matter what I do. Mice just love our house. Remember the mouse at Howard's desk? And the mouse in Howard's nightstand?

The good news is there was no mouse actually in the jar when I was poking around inside it. Imagine if there had been.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

His old flame

I feel bad that Leonard Pennario's old flame Elizabeth Taylor died. Well, I use the term "old flame" loosely. They did not date for all that long. But the circumstances of this interlude, and where they went and what they did, and the hoops he had to jump through to make it happen, were memorable.

Of course I would not have been able to get her on the phone anyway. It is not as if I did not try. I got a hold of the press secretary at some point -- a feat in itself -- and then I did whatever I was supposed to do, fax an official request, or something. I went through the requisite trouble. I never heard back.

Movie stars are a real problem. In classical music, in my experience, no one is out of reach. The greatest pianists, the greatest violinists, it is amazing how easy it is to get a hold of them, and they will talk to you. Even conductors -- they can be a little dicier to nail but once you talk with them they are usually wonderful people.

But oh, movie stars are a different world. It is a challenge even to find who represents them. I do not know my way around that world. Once you do find that out, your answer is usually, to quote my eloquent friend Gary, "Well, that's not going to happen."

It is OK. It is of no moment. Isn't that a wonderful phrase, "It is of no moment"? I got it from "The Three Musketeers."

I got to ask Pennario, "Leonard, when you went out with Elizabeth Taylor, did you kiss her?"

That is not a question you would be asking some boring pianist. Like .... oh wait. I cannot name names! For Lent I am giving up throwing rocks at other pianists.

Ask me after Easter.

Meanwhile I am thinking about my own Elizabeth Taylor memories. She was one of the world's most beautiful women and it was a treat that she was among us for so long.

I have to say too that I admire her for growing old and getting fat and going through unfortunate fashion phases and personal phases, all in the public eye. People like Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana got off easy, dying young.

I remember when Liz married Larry Fortensky, in 1991 (I just looked it up). I was working nights at the Niagara Gazette where we had a great time. We would laugh nonstop about everything. And our editorial page editor, Jerry Brydges, he pulled a picture of the newlyweds out of the picture printer and he said, "Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. and Mrs. Larry Fortensky."

And we were all rolling on the newsroom floor.

Dear Liz. Lucky for her, Jesus said that in heaven we will not be married or given in marriage the way we are on earth.

I think she will find things easier there.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Piano man

What with all the excitement involving my office supper club, I forgot to mention that Howard was the subject over the weekend of my colleague Donn Esmonde's big Sunday column which is, I will have you know, read by millions and millions of people.

Above is a picture of Howard being interviewed! I took the picture.

It is a perfect picture because Donn Esmonde is the very image of a reporter and Howard is the very image of -- well, what Howard is the perfect image of, I am not quite sure, but whatever it is, I am sure he is the perfect image of it.

For the longest time Howard would not stop playing the piano as Donn was interviewing him. My husband was behaving like a skittish horse. I wanted to poke him and say, uh, Howard, would you stop being such an ass and talk to Donn like a normal human being? When I interviewed Leonard Pennario he sat and talked to me like a normal human being.

Luckily Howard stopped playing of his own accord and the interview proceeded and the result was this masterful column. It is about how Howard helped get the Buffalo Statler Hotel on the road to renovation and good health.

Donn Esmonde said it is a very good story. I began waxing poetic to him and said it was about the power of the private citizen, what you can do when you see something that needs to be done.

Every word of it is true!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Green day

Here I am slipping beneath the wheel again! I have not written in the Web log since viewing the Mega Moon the other night.

Unexpectedly, in a nightmare for my disorganized self, I was called on to play host to our office cooking club. That was Sunday. I did not know I was going to be doing that until the last minute so first I got up, worked on my Leonard Pennario book for a while, went to Mass, went to Zumba, went to Michael's Crafts in my electric green Zumba pants, shopped, bought this and that. Michael's is right next to the gym so I thought, what the heck.

After that was when catastrophe struck and I learned that cooking club would be at my house.

Sturm und Drang!

It was like the time I was holding the family dinner and frittered away that whole Saturday at the gym! Except for this time my boss was going to be there and so was Janice Okun, The Buffalo News' restaurant critic.

At least these days I have Larry cleaning the house so I did not have to vacuum or clean the bathrooms. I just had to de-clutter the place. I am the world's biggest clutter bug. Piles of cooking magazines. But I use them! And records. But I play them!

Always there is the bag of clothes bound for Vinnie D's that somehow cannot make it out the door.

My skis were still in the entranceway leaning against the wall along with the Christmas wreath. I had taken the wreath down off the door but it had made it no further than the foyer.

I needed more toilet paper for the downtown bathroom. Why now?

Finally it was all done.


And would you believe it, I actually had fun? I roasted a couple of chickens from Budweys and the beauty of cooking club is, everyone else brings another course. We had guacamole and chips and asparagus and basil risotto and dates stuffed with cheese.

The guests gathered in the dining room.

We feasted and drank pinot noir and for dessert, we had basil ice cream and cookies, both of which Janice had made, yummy.

Our theme was "green" which explains all the basil.

What about Basil Ford?

Or Basil Rathbone?

There is one more famous Basil I can think of and that is Basil Fawlty.

Unless you count St. Basil the Great.

Thoughts like that were swirling around my head late last night when I was cleaning up.

I was so tired!! I went to bed and sank into dreams.

Dreams of green!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Moon over Buffalo

This was the picture Howard took of the Super Moon outside over our driveway.

Some people are saying it does not measure up but me, I am grateful to see any kind of astronomical phenomena in the sky. I always miss them.

And then when I see them I usually do not want to see them. There was that comet that was here once for a few weeks. It spooked me and I wanted it to go away. I remember pulling the shades so I would not see it.

But the Super Moon is different.

It is benevolent!

With the Super Moon you could tell there was something unusual as soon as you opened the door. The sky was brighter than usual. Then there was this huge beaming moon overhead.

It puts you in the mood to hear Pennario playing Chopin.

It makes you reflect on life and the hereafter.

It reminds you there are things out there bigger than you are.

I think I am going to go out and take another look.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Hippie food

Today my mom and I went estate sale-ing. No Leonard Pennario records, alas. There were records but they were in the cellar and the cellar had apparently been flooded because the records were ruined. However. However! I bought a couple of cookbooks.

My mother always casts a frosty eye on my cookbook purchases because I have way too many cookbooks already. But these are special!

They are the hippie classics by Anna Thomas, "The Vegetarian Epicure" and "The Vegetarian Epicure, Vol. 2." They are a riot, full of hippy-dippy pictures like the one on the cover, pictured above. There are all these drawings of hairy hippies and beardos and people of indeterminate race and gender eating rice and beans and desserts. (Vegetarians are always pushing desserts on you.)

Volume 2 bore a handwritten note, "To Mom, Merry Christmas, from Kevin." That was nice of Kevin, whoever he was, to buy this cookbook for his hippy-dippy mom.

Anyway. When I got home I immediately began cooking out of these cookbooks. Normally on Saturdays before we go to the Philharmonic, Howard and I are kind of rushed, so I have found it does not pay to make anything fancy. Vegetarian stuff is great to make on these evenings. So I made, ahem, "baked beans a la charente."

To go with it I made "corn bread."

Things in "The Vegetarian Epicure" are all in lower-cased letters. That is how cool it is.

And talk about cool! This cookbook is cooler than I am, I have to say that.

Every once in a while you see something in a vintage cookbook that is really wacky. And the payoff here came in the introduction. I was reading over the introduction and what Anna Thomas is doing is, she is walking you through a dinner -- how to plan a menu, what to serve when, etc.

She writes about coffee and dessert and how after that people might engage in "all sorts of argument and storytelling" and eventually, mouths would go dry.

"So, the two-hours-later course came to be," she writes. "This may consist of of a great bowl of strawberries and a pot of cream, or maybe hot chocolate, accompanied by thin slices of the torte that couldn't be finished earlier .... This two-hours-later course is especially recommended if grass is smoked socially at your house. If you have passed a joint around before dinner to sharpen gustatory perceptions, you most likely will pass another one after dinner, and everyone knows what that will do -- the blind munchies can strike at any time."


The hippie cookbook!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Saints alive!

St. Patrick's Day could well be the coming of spring. Some people say it is and other people say no, it is Valentine's Day.

I love this time of year! It is as if we all go back to the Middle Ages and we are marking the year by the saints. There is St. Valentine's Day and then St. Patrick's Day and Saturday is St. Joseph's Day. After that we are getting on toward Easter and Dyngus Day.

This morning I heard a new spring bird. I do not know the bird but what it does is, it tweets twice, a rising note, and then it has a quick series of lower short tweets.

Does anyone know what this bird is? Whenever I ask a question I get an answer. I will wait.

Today I went to see my mom. It has been days and days. Today I finally decided I would.

Was that ever difficult!

First people from work wanted to go out and get a beer for St. Patrick's Day.

"No," I said. "I have to go see my mom."

I go to Zumba class where I Zumba-ed in honor of St. Patrick, wearing my electric green Zumba pants. And the teacher asked me personally to stay for Zumba Toning. I love Zumba Toning but, "No," I said. "I have to go see my mom."

I go into the locker room. And there I run into my Zumba friend Gigi. Gigi is so nice and she says, "A bunch of us girls are going to Chili's. You in?"

Darn, beer at Chili's, that was tough to turn down! But I said...

... "No, I am going to see my mom."

And then ... finally, there I am at my mom's. And my phone beeps. And it is Howard tweeting at me, "I'm having dinner at Jocko's. Come over and join me."

"No... I am at my mom's..."

Well, my mom and I had a good talk. After all that! This is one funny thing. She always refers to Leonard Pennario as "your guy."

She had been listening to Daniel Barenboim and she said, "How does he stack up against your guy?"

I said, "My guy is better!" That was easy! I wish every question I was asked about Pennario was that easy.

Then I thanked my mom for asking me that question because she knows how I love to answer it.

Meanwhile I had a glass of wine and my mom had a beer, in honor of St. Patrick.

The day ended happily, after all.

Here is a cartoon for St. Patrick's Day.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Grand hotel

Today was a great day because the Hotel Statler finally sold. Remember the day Howard and I walked that one prospective buyer around the Statler? That was what, 10 months ago?

This has been a long and winding road, as many people said during the speeches that were made.

Howard played cocktail piano for the festivities. He played before and after the ceremony.

Last night, as if he were not nervous enough, I kept suggesting songs. I suggested:

"There's a Small Hotel."
"I Cover the Waterfront."
"Only the Finest."
"Oh, Look at Me Now."
"Starting Here, Starting Now."
"Isn't It Romantic?"
"Over the Rainbow."
"Pennies From Heaven."
"Long Ago and Far Away."
"Puttin' on the Ritz."

And all kinds of other triumphant and optimistic themes. I kept suggesting them and finally Howard said look, he would play what he was going to play, and no one would know the difference.

We were both very excited. We are going to have our grand hotel back! Oscar Levant stayed here and Leonard Pennario probably did too although to tell you the truth I am not sure. I know Pennario stayed at the Lord Amherst but I am not sure about the Statler.

Howard and I were thinking that both our dads were looking down from that grand hotel in the sky and smiling. Howard's father, the accountant Samuel Goldman, had his office in the Statler, and my father loved the place.

Here is another postcard of the Statler.

And another.

It is thrilling to think it will have new life instead of just rotting out like so many other things. The Rev. Darius Pridgeon, this Buffalo pastor, he got up and made a speech about how the buyer, Howard's friend Mark Croce, is like Nehemiah from the Bible. Nehemiah faced controversy and naysayers but still he built a wall, stone by stone. That is what will happen here.

Only in Buffalo do we get speeches about people like Nehemiah.

And cocktail piano by Howard Goldman.

Is this a great town or what?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

On a roll

I have been dabbling in Extreme Couponing. It makes no sense in my life, seeing that I routinely let bills slide and have to pay late charges, neglect to open mail and let checks expire, etc. I am Miss Penny Wise, Pound Foolish.

It is just that playing the coupon game makes running errands more fun.

It gives you plenty to puzzle over, that is for sure.

Here is one thing that puzzles me. After a few weeks of clipping my coupons from Sunday's paper and watching for specials here and there, I am sort of getting the hang of it. And I notice that with minimal effort there are things you can stock up on for free or for next to nothing. Toothpaste, dental floss, body wash, deodorant ... those are things you pretty much never have to pay for again.

But, ahem, bathroom tissue!

That is a different matter!

You can find coupons for T.P. and there are frequent specials. But to my frustration I have not been able to top what my buying plan has long been, to pick up the 1,000-sheet Shur-Fine rolls. That is the best you can do, watch for the generic 1,000-sheet rolls to go on special. You are not going to to better with the brand names.

Here is a cartoon to enjoy while we ponder this situation.

It is especially puzzling because these Extreme Couponing folks brag that they have enough toilet paper to last them 20 years.Well, they can ship some of it over here!

Because this cheap toilet paper, I do not think it exists. You can get all this other stuff free but oh, they get their money for that toilet paper. There is that Leonard Pennario-ism again. "But oh." I picked that up from him. And it still crops up when I least expect it.

OK, by now everyone is thinking, "She has too much time on her hands." It is not true.

Time to get to work.

Time to flush this toilet.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Greeks bearing gifts

You know those daily email deals you sign up for? I get Sweet Deal, LivingSocial, Groupon, the works. I have never actually purchased one but I watch and wait and think, maybe some day.

Meanwhile, I am happy just reading the descriptions of the deals.

Who in the world is writing these things? I wonder sometimes if one single person writes the copy for all these email-deal places, because it is all so good. Just as an example, today's deal is for Acropolis, a little Greek restaurant on Elmwood. 

I invite you to read and observe. 

This person is the Leonard Pennario of copywriters. He or she knows the word "greave." Understands that when you are referring to the Greek city of Sparta you capitalize it, as opposed to the generic "spartan." Spells "bounteous" and "Achaeans" and "Hellenic" correctly. Hints at the Odyssey with the reference to the sirens.

Surely that is the writer pictured above! 

To that unsung copywriter I just want to say, I admire you. Because I know what it is like to write something and be blue thinking people have overlooked your hard work whereas the vast majority of writers out there are ignorant and mediocre.

OK, here goes, Anonymous Groupon Copywriter on Buffalo's Greek restaurant Acropolis:

Even with their sights set on eternal glory, the well-greaved Achaeans besieging Troy had to break for dinner. Today's Groupon brings bounteous Hellenic fare across the wine-dark sea and straight into your mouth, the skilled breaker of horses: For $10 you get $20 worth of Greek fare and drinks at Acropolis on Elmwood Avenue.
With a staff headlined by master chef Pauly Souffle, Acropolis boasts a menu bursting at the seams with Greek-inspired grub and international dishes. A Trojan-bowl filled to the brim with daily soup ($2.95) infiltrates unsuspecting tasters with astounding homemade flavor, while the hummus roasted red pepper ($7.95) lunch appetizer is a sweet siren song of pureed chickpeas, garlic, lemon oil, and roasted pepper served with pita bread. In celebration of ancient Greece's luminous east coast, diners can feast on a New York strip steak (10.95), featuring an 8oz slice of beast and choice of sides. Like giving a grizzly bear the car keys during a family camping trip, the gyro dinner ($10.95) extends an olive branch to bellowing stomachs in the form of Greek salad, potato or rice pilaf, tzatziki, and pita bread. Kids can strengthen their bones as the Spartan youth before them by battling a grilled cheese sandwich backed by an army of fries ($3.95)––then wash down their foes with a naval fleet comprised of chocolate milk ($2.25) and Oreo milkshakes ($3.50).

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Heigh ho, silver

You, there, prepare me a place in Heaven. The sun has hardly set on Ash Wednesday and already, I have done my Lenten penance.

Last night I come home from Ash Wednesday Mass and call my mother because I had promised to. And my mother told me:

"If I pass on, don't go looking for the silver. I've given it all to St. Vincent de Paul."

"Oh," I said. "OK."

So I am sitting there digesting this news. And my mother goes blithely on: "I had it all covered up in case of a break-in. This is a load off my mind, having it gone."

I am thinking: You could have confided in me, that it was bothering you having this silver around, you know?

I could have figured out a way around that problem!

"It was only worth $500," my mother said. "So, St. Vincent de Paul got $500 out of it."

Above is a painting of St. Vincent de Paul looking up the silver and figuring how much it is worth.

I do not mean to sound irreverent. St. Vincent de Paul is practically a member of the family. He is the founder not only of the St. Vincent de Paul thrift stores which, you know me, I frequent, but he is the founder of the Vincentian Fathers and Brothers who educated Howard at Niagara University.

Wherever there is a Catholic family there is talk of St. Vincent de Paul. When Leonard Pennario passed on, the name of St. Vincent de Paul was loud in the land. There were a few things of Leonard's I grabbed away from St. Vincent de Paul for sentimental reasons, the bathrobe I am wearing right now being one of them. I think the good saint forgives me.

But this silver, this transaction was too swift for me.

Oh well. You know what, I guess it doesn't matter. As Muddy Waters sang, you can't lose what you ain't never had.

You know what else, my mom is right. What would I have done with that silver? Number one I would have had to polish it. Then I would have had to put it somewhere.

Whatever, you know?

However. I do think one thing.

It is going to be one of those Lents.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ashes, ashes

I hate to break this to everyone, but last night I took down my Christmas tree.

Today it is Lent, for Pete's sake. Comes a time. That is what I said last night.

Still I felt nostalgic. You were a good tree, I said to the tree as I stripped it of its lights and ornaments. You went the distance. Look at you, you good, pretty tree. You are not even losing your needles!

Ha, ha! I cannot believe I found this on YouTube.

But back to my Christmas tree. I am serious. The tree's bowl was bone dry and had been for a couple of weeks. And still it lost just a few needles. Other years, I have had trees I gave royal treatment to and took down within a reasonable length of time and they made an ugly exit, with showers of needles.

This tree was noble. Howard was at the piano and played the tree out with dignity, with "The Christmas Song."

Now it is Ash Wednesday, easily my least favorite day of the year. Except, well, there is that ancient and powerful Ash Wednesday ceremony which I find thrilling. So there is that.

I just wish it were not Lent.

Oh well. I will tell you this, one thing I am not going to give up for Lent is griping and complaining. Pennario and I used to have a joke about that, that we were the world's champion complainers. I take this championship seriously. So, a Lenten gripe to begin the season.

Why are all the stores pushing Easter candy on me already?

Hello! It is not like Christmas where the fun starts early (technically it should not, but that battle was lost long ago). We have six long and grim weeks before it is Easter. If you bring out the bunnies now you are missing the point.

By the time we get to Easter, all these Peeps, preservative-laden though they be, are going to be stale.

Oh well. (You know it is a rough day when you keep saying "Oh well.")

I will look on the bright side.

They will probably also be marked down!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Meet me in St. Louis

This evening I got to go to St. Louis Church for an actual Tridentine Mass that included the Pope Marcellus Mass by Palestrina. Is Buffalo a great town or what? Where else in the world would this happen?

The Palestrina Mass was sung by Harmonia and the Choir of St. Joseph Cathedral. I wrote about it Friday in Gusto.

They are performing it in concert next weekend so if you missed it all is not lost.

The only thing was, today it was part of an actual Mass. It was beautiful and one thing that was beautiful was something that took me completely by surprise. There were torchbearers!

I saw Torchbearers listed in the kind of program we were given but I did not know what they were. My sister Katie and I were pointing at it and wondering. When we forgot about them suddenly they appeared. Isn't that how things work in life? You are zeroed in on something and get nowhere with it and as soon as you forget about it, there it is, your answer.

The Torchbearers filed in at the Consecration. They were a parade of, I want to say eight men. I did not think to count. I was just staring. They filed in carrying candles in red glass holders and arrayed themselves across the sanctuary. I got tears in my eyes. It was an unbelievable sight.

It is hard to see the Torchbearers in this picture but if you click on it you will be able to make them out. They are at the front of the sanctuary holding their red candles. St. Louis is a beautiful church! I love the statue of St. Louis at the front, in his crusader's outfit, holding his sword.

That and the music of this Mass, just heavenly. The video above is of the Creed. I like this video because it walks you through the words.

Anyway, today, it was what it was promised, like going back in time. It was as if you were Shakespeare going to Mass. This must have been something like what he saw, and heard. My nieces Rosie and Millie went too and they are something like 11 and 13 so they were a little young for something this long and involved. But they got through it and were even taking pictures.

This was funny too. On the way out they were talking excitedly about how they wanted mantillas and what color would they get.

I said I was thinking of ordering a pink mantilla. They come in pale pink.

Rosie who is sophisticated said, "I am not a pink person."

She said, "I think I would like black."

Like her Aunt Mary! She likes that Floria Tosca look the way I do.

Leonard Pennario loved the Tridentine Mass and I am sure he would not mind my taking time out to discuss this.

I just wish I had taken better pictures. In my haste I had forgotten my camera and I took the above picture with my cell phone. I must always carry my camera. Howard tells me that all the time.

You cannot lead a life like mine and not carry a camera!

You cannot!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Arthurian myth

Last night I dreamed that Arthur Rubinstein, pictured above, was around and that I met him. He was in the Jackie Jocko crowd in my dream. That is the crowd of people who go to E.B. Green's to hear Jackie Jocko play the piano.

As I dreamed it, Arthur Rubinstein was a very nice guy as I am sure he was in real life. I mean, Leonard Pennario liked him. In my dream Rubinstein liked me, no big surprise there, and I hatched this plot to write a book about him, just a kind of quickie, to get out there and establish my reputation and make some money and make it easier to finish my book on Pennario.

My book on Rubinstein was going to be called, "Arthur Rubinstein: Up Close And Personal."

Hahahahaha! I would like to think that in real life I would come up with a better title.

Reviewing these plans in the cold light of day I was not sure what Rubinstein would have confided in me that was not revealed in his other books, "My Young Years" and "My Many Years," both of which were forthcoming to a fault.

But in my dream I was pretty sure he had stuff to tell me.

Oh well, I woke up. No Rubinstein. No quickie book.

That and, I had this big day ahead of me, including catching up with work, running errands, scoping out the soup kitchen to see what I am going to make, and taking my mom to the brand-new Tops that opened near her house. I was looking forward to seeing that Tops myself but I felt a twinge of regret, I have to say, that Rubinstein was not around to be my meal ticket.

That was a good plan and it was going to work out so well!

It is not easy, being a nerd.

You have nerd dreams!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Chick, chick, chickadee

Listening to what I now know is the mating call of the chickadee, I wonder...

So how does this work? The girl chickadee puts out this call, tweet tweet, tweet tweet ... Which translates to, "Come to me, my little chickadee." You can here that in the link above. It was sent to me by that incurable romantic, Prof. G.

The girl chickadee tweets that call and somewhere a guy chickadee raises his head. To him it is the sweetest sound! It is the way Pennario playing a Chopin waltz might be to me or you.

The guy chickadee says, "Hmmm.

"That is the call of the female chickadee. I will go to her."

Now here is what I am really wondering.

When the guy chickadee flies to the girl chickadee, does he ever turn back once he sees her?

Are they bedeviled as humans are by this thing called chemistry? Does he ever look at the girl chickadee and tweet to himself that she is not his type?

Perhaps she is too plump. Or too scrawny. Or, I don't know, something about the beak...

"It's not you, it's me." That is what the male chickadee would say as he flies away.

Ay yi yi. Too much time by myself yesterday.

I need to get out of the house!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

March madness

I love winter but one thing makes me feel good about junking my Christmas tree and welcoming spring.

That is black tights.

I am so sick of wearing black tights, I could die!

Black tights are kind of my uniform in the winter. Because of Leonard Pennario taking up my time I do not get around to going clothes shopping. I have been wearing the same three things all winter and just kind of hoping nobody notices.

The one constant is black tights. I have a million pairs and I wear them every day. They are easy and you can wear them with boots and short skirts both of which I like. Black tights are always in and out of the laundry and there are pairs stuck in my gym bag along with my Zumba clothes and there are even new and unopened pairs in my dresser just in case I come up short.

I know, I could wear black pants. That is how most women get through the winter. Every day, you go out, you see thousands of women running around in these black pants.

But pants are not my style. They just are not. I have never worn pants to work, never. Once in a snowstorm I turned up in jeans because I had to walk or something. And everyone was staring and teasing me.

So, I am stuck with these black tights.


I feel like Mozart or Haydn, having to run around in those stockings all the time. Here is an artist's rendering of Mozart and Haydn in their respective legwear.

Ha, ha! This picture is not based on real life but I love it. I love how Haydn is holding that gigantic lute.

How did they deal with it? They had to do it all year, figure. They could not even kick back in the summer the way I do. I love men's fashions in the late 18th century. I think they were the greatest men's fashions ever, with those knee breeches and cute stylish three-cornered hats. But I would not like to have to wear that legwear all the time, I will tell you that.

Black tights are just about all I can handle. And even with them, I have had it.

Bring on the spring!

Bring on the sandals!