Friday, April 29, 2011

Think of England

My mother was up at 4 a.m. tuning in to the royal wedding. Me, I was not that hard-core.

I awoke at the first glimmer of dawn but went right back to sleep.

Then when I got up it was torture because Howard wanted me to look at this and this and this on the Web, none of which was the royal wedding.  

I had to wait until he was in the shower!

Then I flew to the computer and at least I watched the processional. Fascinating! That unnerving camera angle at the end takes you up to the rafters of Westminster Abbey, looking down about a mile to where Prince William and Kate Middleton are standing.

I liked getting a look at the gown. This is funny, I saw it described as ivory but in the picture above it looks white. Ivory is not quite the same as white!

I also liked hearing the music which, if you are a crazy music nerd like me, you can read about it here.

That must be Kate's dad walking her up the aisle. He is cute. I assume that is her dad. I really know very little about her family other than that her mother is an airline stewardess. Other people say flight attendant. I say airline stewardess! That would be she in the white hat at about 4:07. The look on her face is touching.

Imagine what is in her mind. Her daughter could wind up Queen of England.

I have to say this, something about this seems wrong-headed to me. If you are going to go with a royal family certain rules must be adhered to and I do not think a prince should be marrying the daughter of an airline stewardess. I think it is imprudent, let us say, to detract from the royalty mystique.

The good news: You're a prince. The bad news: You should marry a princess.

Here is another opinion of mine sure to be unpopular. This morning I read in the paper that a British poll revealed that most Englanders, I forget the proportion, think that when Queen Elizabeth's reign ends, Prince Charles should step aside and let Prince William be king.

Um, excuse me?


What, they think they can pick and choose their monarchs? That is not the way it works.

Besides which, you know what, you could do worse than Prince Charles. I do not agree with him on a lot of his wacky green issues but at least he thinks about things. He loves classical music. I am sure he knows who Leonard Pennario is which, I do not think you can say the same about Barack Obama. 

And even if you do not like him over there in England, if you want his son instead because his son looks good on TV, guess what? You are stuck. Sorry.

Wow, this has been fun. You have to say this for the royal family.

They are endlessly entertaining!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Stormy weather

Just now when I got up and went out to get the paper it looked like this beautiful spring morning. It was so pretty that I even ended up daydreaming about this Mahler song I love. However! You could see the dark clouds on the horizon over the park. And sure enough they came rolling in.

Now the sun is on again, off again. The wind is blowing. Well, on-again, off-again sun is better than nothing. At least there are still patches of blue sky.

Ha, ha! From the nearby group home the guy who swears all the time is swearing.

"Sh--! Sh--! Sh--! Sh--! Sh--! Sh--! Sh--!"

That was him just now!

It is like the call of a strange bird!

"Oh, WTF!"


Now the morning is quiet again except for the clouds rolling around and the winds picking up. We are having a most dramatic spring, that is for sure.

I feel terrible for other towns. There has been a tornado in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Howard is worried about a friend of his who lives there.

Tuscaloosa, Ala., is a tornado town. The one time I was in a tornado was in Tuscaloosa. My brother George and I were in a rental car driving somewhere or other. I have spent a lot of time in rental cars with George. The only rival he has in that department is Leonard Pennario. Pennario and I spent a lot of time together in rental cars too.

Anyway, George and I were in Alabama, and we had the radio on, and the radio told us to beware of a tornado in Tuscaloosa County.

"Ha, ha!" we laughed.George and I always mocked things out when we were on road trips in rental cars.

Then about two seconds later we passed a sign. "Welcome to Tuscaloosa County," it said.

And as if on cue it got black as night!

It was like "Pee Wee Herman's Big Adventure"!

Whatever we were in, it must have been a tornado. We did not actually see the tornado but my guess is, if you do not see it, it probably means you are in it. We ended up pulled over to the side of the road, craven and whimpering. Nature has a way of dealing with people like me and my brother George, that is for sure.

Imagine seeing a tornado. Looking at the picture above I realize I have never actually seen one. This huge funnel coming down from the sky. Like a big vacuum cleaner. Imagine it picking you up in your car and hurling your around.

Prayers for the people in Tuscaloosa.

It is a tornado town.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

East of Easter

This morning I noticed something. You know how once in a while I rank my accomplishments in order of how proud they make me feel? Here were my accomplishments between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. just now:

Located picture I was looking for of Pennario with the pianist Aldo Ciccolini, and it took just two minutes illustrating my top-flight organizational system: 25 accomplishment points.

Was able to fit picture into frame in appropriate chapter and make it look real pretty: 50 points.

Finished brilliant and insightful chapter about recording industry in the 1950s: 100 points.

Finished eating asparagus frittata: 10,000 points.

I have all these post-Easter leftovers that have to be dealt with just right. It is like playing Sodoku -- you cannot repeat yourself, yet everything must be used up. With the leftover ham I have already made ham jambalaya (Monday) and black bean soup (Tuesday). The black bean soup used up an avocado that was not ripe on Sunday.

Ham also went into enchiladas. I forget what day that was.

What next?

That is the question!

Split pea soup is too close to black bean soup plus with me it is a danger. I cannot stop eating split pea soup. I will eat it nonstop until the whole pot is gone. It is just the way I am wired and that is why I no longer keep split peas in the house. They are like doughnuts would be to a normal person.

Perhaps a pasta dish with ricotta and ham. I have this ricotta so I would get points for using that up. And there is leftover whole wheat penne pasta.

I guess I should not discount the good old-fashioned ham sandwich.

Challenges, challenges!

Monday, April 25, 2011

To the max

Last night after Easter I was so maxed out that I could not sleep. It was funny, I had just had three days of no Leonard Pennario book, no Zumba, nothing that is usually part of my day. All I was doing was food shopping and cooking and Holy Week.

Then we had the big Easter dinner. It started around 4 p.m. and went until around 10 p.m. After everyone went home I cleaned up. I am not happy going to bed after a party until everything is cleaned up. After that I went to bed. I read Earl Wild's memoirs for a little bit which usually gets me relaxed and laughing but last night, nothing worked, I was still wide awake. Which was not good, because I had a long day today, including a concert at night.

I could not sip any whiskey or anything because I had already drunk enough wine to sink a battleship, just sipping it here and there over the course of the long day. I worried about that too. That was a lot of wine to drink and up until then I had been so good.

Then I thought of Dream Water. It is this weird product that got handed to me. Someone gave me a few sample bottles a while ago. They wound up in my hands.

Dream Water are these little 2-ounce bottles of flavored water that have some kind of herbs in them.

Has anyone ever tried this stuff? I was looking for reviews on the Internet and could find nothing, at least nothing readable or that looked as if it had not been paid for by whoever makes Dream Water. I had no choice but to go ahead and try it for myself.

I downed one little bottle maybe a month ago. I cannot remember why I could not sleep but it was some extreme situation. The Dream Water tasted like Kool-Aid. I felt like an idiot drinking it. Then I went to the computer and started horsing around with I forget what.

And all of a sudden I was just yawning like crazy. And wiping my eyes. I was fading! I went to bed like a sleepy toddler and I was down for the count.

Last night I thought, I will try another bottle of that. And guess what...

The same thing happened!

That stuff works!

This morning I awoke feeling great! I was dreaming about work. But it was not like a stressed-out work dream. In my dream I was moving forward stepping on heads. I woke up all energetic and optimistic. All the wine I had drunk had been forgiven! Plus Lent was over. Life was beautiful.

Today I managed to work in a Zumba class between work and the concert I went to which was David Finckel and Wu Han, a cellist and pianist husband and wife team. No Dream Water tonight. I will not need it!

But it is nice to know it is there.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Switchin' in the kitchen

My nieces were at my house baking for Easter. We made lemon squares and coconut macaroons and custard pies. Well, they did. I stood around waving my hands. By the way this the lemon squares recipe we used. I recommend it!

My nieces are funny because they are close in age but in different stages. Rosie is a little bit older and it shows. Millie is still at that darling age where she gets swept away with enthusiasm for something. "Coconut macaroons are my favorite cookie!" she announced. "What's your favorite cookie, Rosie?"

Rosie, aggrieved: "I don't have one."

Rosie is a darling in a different way. My favorite moment yesterday: when she told me that her mom had been considering taking them to the Latin mass with me on Easter morning.

"But then the choir director guilted her into going to our usual church," she said.

Then she sighed. As if going to the Latin mass would be So.Cool.

As if, no wonder she was denied it just the way she is denied so many other cool things.

That draggy choir director, "guilting" her mother into doing the boring thing.

My sister said one thing that might bug her if she went to the Latin mass for Easter was that she would miss the traditional Easter hymns. At the Latin mass there is usually only one traditional, sing-together hymn and that is at the end. So, what is it going to be? There are so many Easter hymns you love and you get only one, at least until next Sunday.

I have never found this way of operating very hard to adjust to. It sure beats the grab bag of annoying songs I used to be faced with. It is not as if you always got to sing the hymns you love.

Besides it is a good trade. I might not get to sing my personal favorite Easter hymn, "Christ the Lord is Risen Today." But we do get the Vidi Aquam chant! And over the last three years that has come to mean Easter to me.

That amazes me and reminds me I am still young.

Here I am with all this Latin in my head and writing this book on Leonard Pennario and there was not a whisper of any of it until October 2007.

Were it not for that one week in October 2007 what would I be Web logging about?

Would I even be Web logging?

It is funny to ask yourself questions about how you got where you are and why.

And when.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Adventure in Amherst

Last night I performed my most dreaded bit of Lenten penance, going with my mom to Holy Thursday Mass. It is dreaded because I am used to the, ahem, TLM (nerd abbreviation for Traditional Latin Mass).

There is no TLM on Holy Thursday! Or if there was, I could not find it.

That is a shame!

So I am stuck going to Christ the King in Amherst with my mom, just like last year. Christ the King is land of altar girls and jazzy, contemporary light Broadway songs, sung with a piano. Things that do not exactly help to get your mind around the Sacred Mysteries, you know? Maybe other people are smart enough to get past stuff like this but I am not.

I was aghast when in the middle of Mass, the ceremony was stopped and we were told by a lector to raise our right hands in a blessing for the priest.

Since when do we bless the priest?

Isn't he supposed to bless us?

Oh well, enough griping. God looks out for me and at Communion time everything magically improved. The choir sang Mozart's "Ave Verum Corpus" and not only that, they sang it twice! That link is for my favorite performance of "Ave Verum" on YouTube. It is conducted by Leonard Bernstein and it is one of the few non-Leonard Pennario videos that I watch over and over.

At the end they did the beautiful hymn "Tantum Ergo" and they did a couple of verses in Latin. Which pleased fussy and crabby me. And as according to ancient tradition, the priest moved the Blessed Sacrament to a stunningly beautiful side altar.

Then, again in accordance with ancient tradition, the ceremony ended in silence.

Even the chit-chatters stopped chit-chatting! This silence at the end of Holy Thursday Mass broadsides everyone. It just feels so strange, so unnatural, not to have a closing hymn, not to have anything. The power of centuries sweeps over you. People were thrown by it. You could see them looking around, uneasy, disoriented.

Many of us, my mom and me included, took a minute to kneel in the jarring silence before the side altar which, as I said, was so beautiful. I took a picture which I will post as soon as I figure out how to get it out of my phone. You will love it!

After that I went back home with my mom and continued my contemplation of things eternal.

And had a glass of wine which did not hurt.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Trailer talk

Has anyone out there in Blog-O-Land ever made a book trailer? I want to make a book trailer.

It would be fun and I would be good at it.

A book trailer seems to be the new thing right now. It is like a movie trailer only you do it for your book to promote it. Which is great for me because I see my book as a movie. Also it would be good because all I have to do is show Pennario's face ...

... and play his music and boom, you will want my book in your lap. You will be crazed and obsessed.

You will want it on your Kindle even if you do not have a Kindle!

It is almost dirty pool. It is that unfair to other pianists and other pianists' biographers.

With my book trailer the big challenge will be to choose what picture and music to use.

My friend Larry would have to help me. That is Larry in Appalachia who has crafted so many Pennario videos on YouTube. There is this one for instance of this simple and sorrowing Chopin waltz.

Ex-aequo avec Mr Dinu Lipatti. 

That is what one commenter writes about Pennario playing that waltz. "The equal of Mr. Dinu Lipatti." Dinu Lipatti was a Romanian pianist who died tragically young and was famous for his Chopin waltzes.

There are other YouTube videos that get me thinking about my book trailer and how we could do it. This one gentleman David Hertzberg created a Pennario video I love. He has Pennario playing this beautiful romantic Brahms waltz. And what Hertzberg does is so simple but so good. He uses images from the record. The simplicity of the music and the artistic concept goes so well with Pennario's ardent and unfussy way of playing.

Then at the end you see the famous photo of Pennario standing by the piano, and finally there is that poignant closeup.

Mr. Hertzberg did a similar video of Pennario playing Schubert's "Serenade" arranged by Liszt. This is a piece I love plus it figured in my time in California with him. Listening to it I love the impetuousness of this, how Pennario puts that Italianate twist to it.. He even goes and throws in his own dotted rhythms. You hear that right about at 1:30. That kills me. Go, Pennario!

And that ending, haunting.

Horowitz's version sounds calculated in comparison. Oh, wait. This is Lent and I was not supposed to throw rocks at other pianists. How am I going to explain this in the confessional?

How did I get onto all this?

Back to my book trailer. The idea will have to be to keep it sweet and short. Ha, ha! That is one way to avoid a cliche! Simply switch the words around. Short and sweet becomes sweet and short. Original thinking!

I am going to start working on it tonight after Holy Thursday mass with my mom.

Which begs one more question. How will I keep my mind off this at church?

It will be a big challenge!

Monday, April 18, 2011

All clean!

Today I finally took my car in to be purged of the effects of the Kenmore snowplow that plowed into me while I was sitting innocently and law-abidingly at that light. I do not even want to get into that right now because it is poisonous but if you will, please internalize my outrage here.

The good news about all this:

I discovered the joys of the car wash!

Howard told me, and I imagine he is right, that your car will be treated better if you bring it in spanking clean. There was no getting out of it because he was observing and tracking me. And so, even though it was a cruddy day out yesterday and I had a ton of work to do, I got all my stuff out of my car -- gym clothes, sneakers, umbrellas, Leonard Pennario CDs.

Then I prepared for a rare trip to Delta Sonic.

I did not grow up going to car washes, is one reason I never go. When I was a kid we would be dying to go through the old Blue Whale car wash that used to sit out on Colvin in Tonawanda.

Wow, look! The whale has its own Facebook group!

"Dad, can't we go there?" we would plead. The whale was so cool. You drove in its mouth and drove out its rear.

My dad would say, not unkindly, no.

He would wash the family station wagon himself. And I have very sweet childhood memories of spending Saturday afternoons out in the driveway while he soaped the car down and we floated blades of grass in the rivulets running down to the street. Yes, kiddies, that was life before video games.

Anyway it is very un-Kunz to pay for a car wash. And if Howard was watching me critically over one shoulder I felt my dad watching me critically over the other shoulder. So one thing I figured out was, you can get on the Delta Sonic Web site and sign up for their email deals and they will let you print out, immediately, a coupon for a free car wash! I did that. Huzzah!

Because it was raining and snowing and sleeting, also because it was Monday morning, there was absolutely no action at the car wash. I was the only customer. That was lucky because I did not know my way around.

At the booth you go through to start with, the young woman rattled off something to me, my choices and directions, and I was completely at sea.

"I can't understand you," I was reduced finally to saying.

I had them do the interior which was $8 over the free car wash.

They give you a scent for your car and they had asked me which one I wanted. I had no idea so I said, "What do you recommend?" The kid said, "New Car." So that is what I got, the New Car scent.

End result, as we say here in Buffalo: I got into my car and I could not get over how good it felt!

I am going to get it cleaned more often. Your life might be falling down around your ears but at least your car can be clean and nice and that would feel good.

It is one of life's little pleasure!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

From the horns of the unicorns

Ay yi yi, this day today! First it was raining. Then it was sleeting. Then it graduated to snowing big, fat flakes.

Then the sun came out. Then the winds kicked in. The clouds rolled in. It became dark as night.

The winds howled!

Then the sun came out again! And more snow fell.

Then it became black as night. Well, that is because now it is night.


What a day it was!

At church we usually do our Palm Sunday ceremony outside. Last year we did. We do the blessing of the palms which is one of the great rituals of the Catholic Church. It includes that prayer I love:

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

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

Last year we said that prayer outside. Today we did everything inside. That is how bad it was. And Easter is later this year than it was last year. Oh well, the weather is the weather. It it what it is and there is not a son-of-a-sea-cook thing we can do about it.

I went home and worked on my book. It is good weather for that! Today I was sorting through a million pictures and filing them in the right online folders so I will have the right pictures for the right chapters. It involved lots of studying pictures of Pennario and trying to figure out exactly what year they dated from and getting them right where they were supposed to be. It is pleasant work.

One of my favorite publicity pictures was used on the cover of "Leonard Pennario: The Early Years."

I would change that capital "P" so it did not have that Goth look but other than that, I mean, I could just slap that picture on the cover of the book and who would be able to resist it? Nobody, that is who!

But then there are so many contenders. I sit there thinking, oh, I should put this picture on the cover.

No, wait, what about this one?

Maybe that one could go on the back cover.

Maybe this other one could be on a poster.

One way or another one thing is for certain:

I will be rich!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Render unto Caesar...

It is the eleventh hour. It is under the wire. It is in the nick of time. As of today Howard and I finally have our taxes in the mail.

What a struggle!

We are talking weeks of work on Howard's part, weeks of anxiety on mine, one trip to my employer's payroll office for a missing document, many many conferences with Howard's accountants, an extension, lots of panic, plus the intercession of St. Anthony.

St. Anthony was called in because we were missing all my documents from 2007.

Talk about drama!

Howard was desperate enough so that even though he is not Catholic he told me to ask St. Anthony about these documents. That was back when St. Anthony was at our house, a few weeks ago. So I did. I said, "St. Anthony, this is not life and death. I could call the banks and whoever and get these papers replaced. But it would be a pain and time is running out. That is why I am asking. Then again as I said it is not life and death."

A confession here: I was just being nice by saying it was not life and death. I was pretty sure St. Anthony would find these papers.

Usually, though, he comes through for me right away. So a few days later, I will be honest, I felt a little puzzled that these papers had not turned up. Well, I thought, St. Anthony must have his reasons. And I had said it was not life and death.

Howard had the heat on me nonstop to get hold of these papers so I went to The News' payroll office, figuring I could at least start there. Which, as it turned out, was a smart thing to do. It turned out they had never given me my statement from 2007! Because, I realized, I had not been here in the office at the time the document came out. I had been in California with Leonard Pennario.

They gave me the document and I gave it to Howard. I meant to call the banks then, but I got distracted with work and my mom and stuff, and I thought it was too late anyway -- well, I do not know what I thought.

Anyway you would not believe what happened.

Howard comes home and he says, "I've taken the papers to the accountant and he says he has everything he needs."

"Wow!" I said. "That's great!"

Then he told me what had happened. He said he was going through this pile of papers ...

... the pile that had been missing our 2007 documents. And he found one of my statements from 2007.

He thought, that's funny. Because there had been no statements from 2007 in there.

Then he found another 2007 statement.

And then another.

They had all materialized in that pile! Howard could not get over it.

He said, "I had gone through that pile hundreds of times."

He said, "It was very mysterious."

Not to me, it isn't!

Because that is the way St. Anthony works sometimes, he puts things in places where you already looked. My mom pointed out that phenomenon and she and I laugh about that.

I told Howard I had thought it was funny that St. Anthony had not come through for me right away because usually he does. But Howard said, "Well, today was the first day I was in the office."

Also please note how the document I went and found myself, my work income statement, was the one document that had not been given to me in the first place.

Anyway, thank you, St. Anthony! This is a spectacular St. Anthony find to add to my already impressive collection.

It sure sweetens the pill of having to pay our taxes!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Angry bird

It is spring and that means there is action in the nearby group home.

This is a group home for the developmentally disabled, not for the troubled. That is my best stab at politically correct terminology and if I am wrong, I apologize. Anyway there is one man in the residence who is perpetually angry and on a spring morning like this his calls mingle with those of the cardinal and the chickadee.

"A--hole! Jackass!" That was his opening tweet this morning.

At the top of his lungs!

Followed by:

"Who gives a f---?"

Then you get:

"Sh--!" All by itself, at glorious volume.


"M-F! Jackass!"

The "jackass" always makes me laugh. I love it being included among these worse words.

Also, let's admit it, who would not, at least occasionally, like to enjoy the freedom that this gentleman does?

There are mornings when it would feel great to let fly with a big loud expletive, that is for sure!

Especially if you never swear otherwise.

I try to swear very little and even the little that I do, I am trying to cut out. The idea is to save your swear words for when they really matter. The whole time I knew Pennario he swore only once. It was the "F" word and it really packed punch.

A marvelous man, Leonard Pennario. Have I ever mentioned that?

And a marvelous morning this is, with all the spring sounds in the air.

Friday, April 8, 2011

No Yo

Hilarious experience yesterday.

It starts when I go to the chiropractor. And I was asking her advice about flexibility issues. I do all that Zumba dancing but like a lot of people I am stuck sitting at a desk a lot of the day. That is one reason Zumba feels so good. It feels great to jump around!

Anyway the chiro, she told me that she always recommends yoga. Immediately I brightened. I had gone to a few yoga classes a while ago, remember, but since then I fell off the yoga wagon because there just was not time for that, Zumba and the Pennario project. Plus the yoga teacher I liked, her classes are at terribly inconvenient times. The gym behaves as if nobody works, as if we are all ladies of leisure! But that is a gripe for a different day.

Now I thought, I will go back to these yoga classes. I will figure out some way. I will use this as an excuse to buy new yoga clothes! And maybe a yoga mat of my own.

La la la la la la la.


Later after Zumba class I go to my mom's. And honest, this happened as soon as I walked in:

My mom says, "There was something I wanted to talk to you about. What was it?"

She has my dad's old habit of jotting notes down on junk mail envelopes. She makes a beeline for the coffee table and rifles around.

"What was it?" she asked rhetorically. "It was something I heard on EWTN." My mom is a Catholic television addict.

And I just knew, because this is my life.

"Let me guess," I said. "Yoga."

She looked at me. "Yes! Oh, here it is." She had found the envelope.

Apparently on this show "Women of Grace" they had gone over yoga and how the Vatican expressly forbids it. They had gone over this point by point. My mother had written down every one of these points. I do not remember all of them but one is that yoga teaches you to focus on yourself and not God and another is that by doing the poses you may inadvertently wind up worshiping a Hindu god.

That would be terrible!

Imagine, this Hindu god out there somewhere ...

... all of a sudden going: "Why am I hearing from Mary? I thought she was Catholic. Hmmm, very very interesting, to be hearing from her."

Meanwhile there I would be at the Buffalo Athletic Club, trying to figure out how I am going to untangle myself from some pose  ...

... and totally unaware that to add to my problems I have established contact with Vishnu.

I admit, I was bummed. I had an idea. "There is a class called PiYo," I said. "It combines Pilates and yoga so there is no meditation or anything like that."

My mother shook her head. "Not if it is mixed with yoga, no."

I want a second opinion, I said. If the Vatican forbids this I want to see it. So when I got home I got on the Internet. Well. All I can say is, good luck answering this question. It is impossible to find an official answer. What you find are a lot of Catholics in the peanut gallery, like me, saying this and that.

"Geesh, I've been doing yoga on and off for years," begins one typical comment. I mean, give me one reason why I should listen to you, you know?

Some priests say one thing and some say another.

Through many twists and turns I managed to find this long Vatican document which, I cannot imagine wading through it.

I do not have all day to pour into this pursuit so I am going to go with my own reasoning. Which is this:

What are the odds of my mom finding all this out on the very day I had been to the chiro and decided to start doing yoga again? I am afraid I have no choice but to take this as a sign and quit the yoga.

It is no big sacrifice. To tell you the truth it did kind of bug me how the yoga teacher would end the class with a long session of breathing in one nostril and out the other and telling you to let this feeling carry you through the rest of your day. I did not need this feeling to carry me through the rest of my day. That is not what I am in yoga for. Was in yoga for. Ahem.

Also, let's be honest: there is something endearing about a religion that frowns on yoga but has no problem with Zumba.

I can make my peace with this.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

In a fog

Such fog this morning! I would bake sourdough bread except for I have had to put bread baking on hiatus because whenever I bake it I cannot stop eating it.

Well, sourdough or no sourdough at least it is feeling  like spring. Padding outside to get the papers I could hear mourning doves and feel spring in the air.

Wow, that link. Do not miss it! Except be warned, I just poured five minutes into it. Here I was with all these chores slated for this morning and there I am, mouth open, holding my cup of chai tea, just gazing and listening.

I have loved that song since I was a teenager! That melody. And that beautiful piano. That is the English pianist Gerald Moore you are hearing. A god among men. See? I sometimes do praise other pianists besides Pennario.

Here is a thought (I know, I have them rarely):

Last night I was looking back in my Web log, in pursuit of I forget what, and I happened on what I wrote on Easter last year. Easter last year was a little over a year ago. It was April 4.

It was 80 degrees!

My nieces were over baking on Holy Saturday and we had to open the windows.

I do not mean to feed into anyone's discontent.

I am just saying.

This is the time of year when everyone in Buffalo turns into a sage and makes predictions about the summer. Many, many people are saying we will have none this year.

It cannot be so. It must happen.

Schubert said it!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Yesterday, the way I did on Sunday, I soared like an eagle and put on spring clothes. I wore a spring-y skirt and stockings and I even left my wool hat at home.

Did I ever learn my lesson!

I froze!

So. Today it was a whole different ball game. It was back on with the black tights and boots. I am not so proud that I could not go back on my decision.

I will dress for spring when spring comes to me!

Yesterday it was hilarious because I was running around miserable all day in these stockings and heels. I was uncomfortable and I was freezing. And I had this long day ahead of me without being able to go home and change. I was going to Zumba after work and then I was going to take my mom to the movies. We were going to see ... it takes me forever to remember this title ... "Certified Copy."

Why do they give movies titles no one can remember? It made me think of when I was with Pennario and we saw ... I still cannot think of the title! Because neither of us could remember it. It became a joke with us.

Anyway, after the gym yesterday, I could not bring myself to change back into my stockings and heels. I just could not. So I threw my jacket on over my Zumba clothes and piled my onerous office clothes into my bag and ran. I was wearing my electric-blue Zumba pants. I figured my mom would make me change out of embarrassment but fine, then I would change at her house.

My mom did not make me change!

She thought my Zumba clothes were funny but she shrugged, what the heck. I could not get over that. I was assuming I would have to change. Now I did not and it felt great and illicit, like going to the drive-in in your pajamas when you were a kid.

Zumba pants and sneakers. Bliss!

After a long day of freezing and being uncomfortable!

The only down side to my comfort was that I began snoozing. It had been a long day and I had been up early and I had just had all this exercise. And the movie was kind of avant garde and confusing. It was about a writer who is lecturing in Italy and meets this woman and they go driving through Tuscany. All that happens is this man and woman talk, and talk, and talk. Peripheral people appear here and there but mostly what happens is, this couple, pictured above, talks. Watch the trailer, see for yourself.

Wow. That trailer. Everything in it was in the movie but I have to say, that trailer is totally misleading.

So there I was, sleeping. It was funny because at concerts, I am completely different. I am wired so at concerts I stay completely awake. I can sit wide awake for two hours without moving or making a sound. It amazes even me when I think about it.

But at movies it is as if something disconnects and says OK, Mary, safe to sleep. And it was funny last night because all of a sudden the roles of my mom and me were reversed. My mom was into the movie and kept waking me up so I would not miss things. Afterwards she wanted to discuss it, things that the movie seemed to be saying about men and our relationship to them. Ways in which the man in the movie paralleled my dad, ways in which my dad was different. Why the movie had the title it did.

I stood there staring, thinking, uhhhh...

What did we see again?

Well, at least in my Zumba clothes I was warm and comfortable.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Cutting the mustard

Here is a great deal: huge fresh bunches of beautiful mustard greens, at Budwey's, for 99 cents. I was bewitched by them yesterday. I found the biggest bunch there and I bought it.

At the checkout the gal asked: "Is this two bunches?"

And I said gleefully: "No."

What, did she think I was trying to pull a fast one? I cannot count the number of times at Budwey's that I have pointed out that I had two bunches of greens, not one.

But whatever. I managed to chop up and wash the greens when I got home late and I got them into a pot with some garlic and olive oil. I love the rich taste of mustard greens! Before I went to bed I put two pounds of white beans (alert! alert! cheap at Albrecht Discount), put them in the Crock Pot, covered them with water and set it on Low.

Cooking hint from me: If you have no time to do anything at night, do that. Beans in the crock, cover with water, turn to Low, go to bed. At least next morning when you have to have something for lunch, you have something to start with.

This morning, dump half the beans and their liquid into the pot o'greens. I added just a little olive oil and dried oregano and salt. I guess I should add pepper too, now that I think about it. But although I am no expert on beans and greens, and had no time to find a recipe, the secret seems to be not to fuss over it too much. You have to be the way Leonard Pennario was with the piano. He did not fuss.

End result, as we say here in Buffalo: Yummy beans and greens! No effort, and honest, it tastes as if it came from Oliver's.

I am eating a big bowl as I type!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Have statue, will travel

So on Saturday I wrote, all breezy-like, about having St. Anthony on loan from my parish, St. Anthony of Padua. In the  morning, it was time to pay the piper and pass him on to his next hosts.

Easier said than done!

This was not just any Sunday morning. I was really underslept. We were out lastnight late and I got to sleep late and then I was tossing and turning because I had a packed day the next day.

Does that make no sense or what? You have a long day ahead and your body responds by not sleeping. Nature at its worst!

Speaking of nature, I got hungry but I was afraid to go downstairs and eat something for fear I would run into the mouse. This mouse surfaced in the kitchen the night before and Howard took this picture of it.

End result, as we say here in Buffalo: The next morning there I am on five hours' sleep facing all these complications.

The morning was bright plus it was Laetare Sunday. Laetare means Look Alive. Well, actually, it means rejoice. It is supposed to be a bright Sunday in the midst of Lent, to keep you going. I did not feel I could go to church on Laetare Sunday looking like death warmed over.

So I found something springlike to wear instead of my usual black tights and boots. Miraculously I found shoes and stockings. This was all done in five minutes, tops. 

Next thing was to get St. Anthony out the door in addition to my missal, my veil and a cup of chai tea. Not easy! This big statue. I almost did not bring him. I will keep him for one more week, I told myself. I will say I forgot.

What if I lost him? That is what Howard said.

"How could you lose him? He's so big," I said. 

"But what if you lost St. Anthony? How would you find him?" Howard said. Stupidly, I missed his joke. He had to explain it to me, that St. Anthony is the patron saint of lost objects. 

If you lost St. Anthony who would there be to find him?

I am such an idiot when I am underslept! 

Finally I did get out the door, St. Anthony and chai tea and all. The tea was because I had not had time to ingest any caffeine and with no calories it would not violate the pre-Communion fast. That was my rationale anyway. If I was wrong I do not want to hear about it.

I made it downtown and to church and immediately saw Trisha, the gal who had asked for St. Anthony next, in her pew. I waltzed him on over there and handed him over. There you go, Trish! Then I slid into my seat in time just in time for the Asperges.

A wing and a prayer. It is the way I do the Pennario book.

I am afraid it is how I live my life!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Lost and found

For a week I have had St. Anthony on loan from my church and now it is time to bring him back. Tomorrow morning, I have to remove him from the sun room and bring him back so he can go to his next home, which is with Steve from the choir and his wife, Trish.

I wish I could have St. Anthony for another week!

Last year I got away with that but this year I cannot, alas and alack.

Every year there are three statues of St. Anthony from our church that go on the road. We get to keep him in turns for one week each, and this all rolls on until the Feast of St. Anthony, which is June 13.

I feel St. Anthony has brought blessings on my house. The very first day he was here he found several things that were lost! Well, I believe he found them. Unfortunately he was not able to find the hour we lost for Daylight Savings Time. That hour stays lost until next fall!

Above is St. Anthony dwarfing my statue of Our Lady of Victory. They occupy a makeshift altar on a radiator in my sun room. I feel like such a dork, writing this! If you have a Buddhist or Hindu altar that is cool but if you have a Catholic altar, you sound like some 95-year-old Italian woman.

Between St. Anthony and Our Lady of Victory, if you look sharp, you may spot a Candle-Lite Cinnamon Pecan Swirl candle. It is my favorite and so I keep one in this sacred space. I should put a Pennario record out there too! Nothing but the best.

St. Anthony has such a sweet face on that statue. It is easy to forget he died at only 36.

I hate to lose him!