Sunday, April 29, 2012

Look to the rainbow

Today the ax fell on St. Ann's. That is the beautiful church on Buffalo's East Side where I have been privileged to ring the bells in the past few years. Not only the time I just linked to but this time too. And other times.

My friend Chris Byrd at Broadway-Fillmore Alive posted the video above of the bells of St. Ann's ringing this morning, perhaps for the last time.

The actual announcement is that the diocese has suspended all activities at the church. It is a shame. St. Ann's is a magnificent church from the 19th century in what is now one of the most desperate parts of the city. It has been dodging bullets for a few years now -- from the bishop, I mean, not from the neighborhood.

You can hear the bells in Chris' video. They are huge and dignified and they have names, is another thing. The big bell is St. Ann. A smaller bell is her husband, St. Joachim. Ha, ha! You could kind of sense the immigrants who somehow built this Gothic masterpiece laughing about that.

If you are not Catholic and do not know these things, St. Ann and St. Joachim were the parents of Mary, the Blessed Mother. In other words they were Jesus' grandparents.

There are five bells, I think. I forget the other names but the littlest one is called the Angel of God.

I did not normally go to Mass at St. Ann's. I would have liked to but I love the Tridentine Mass, the Mass in the Extraordinary Form, to use a phrase I love. I go to St. Anthony's because that is where they have the Tridentine Mass. OK, also because it was Leonard Pennario's family's church when he was born. That too. But also I just like my Mass the traditional way.

A couple times when there was a Tridentine Mass at St. Ann's I went there.

Well, it ain't over till it's over, as we say at Bills and Sabres games. One thing gives me hope.

Once when I rang the bells at St. Ann's,  it was a very dramatic day with clouds rolling across downtown. I took this masterful picture from the bell tower.

And that day, that evening, we were all talking about the St. Ann's troubles and a rainbow appeared over the tower where we were.

It was whispered that the rainbow was a sign from St. Ann that she was watching.

The rainbow was stunning and this being Buffalo, people began whispering about it, and are still whispering about it.  Even now! I have had people get all  clandestine and whisper: "Did you hear about the rainbow at St. Ann's?"

At the time we decided, a few of us, that it was best not to write about it because no one wanted to antagonize the bishop. We were sort of hoping that goodness would prevail in his heart and he would just kind of look the other way and leave St. Ann's. I still hope against hope things could work out.

Hey, you never know.

St. Ann is watching!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sleepless in Buffalo

Zut alors, I do not know what it was, maybe it was the excitement of voting yesterday. But I could not sleep last night.

I got up and drank Sleepytime Extra ...

... tea which I had bought with a coupon last week. It did not work!

I would have drunk whiskey but it was 3:30 a.m. and when it gets past 3 a.m. it is unseemly.

I prayed the Rosary, the Glorious Mysteries.

I prayed the Joyful Mysteries.

(The Sorrowful Mysteries are not good to say when you are trying to sleep.)

I read a book about Mozart called "Mozart At the Gateway To His Fortune." It was kind of tough going which began to irritate me. I mean, anything about Mozart is interesting to me so if I have to slog through it, it is the fault of the Author, not me.

Finally at about 5 I worked on my book. Leonard Pennario is calming to think about and so is the idea that come hell or high water at least you are getting work done.

That is a comforting thought and at last I went to sleep around 7.

Ay yi yi....

I should have drunk that whiskey!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Well done, Sister Suffragette!

On my way home from Zumba class today I stopped in to the, ahem, polling place to cast my vote in the Republican primary for Newt Gingrich.

I know Newt Gingrich is not going to win the nomination.

Nobody cares what I think!

But I voted anyway just to be annoying. And because I can.

It was fun to vote today because nobody was voting. There are almost no Republicans in Buffalo and the few that are here are afraid to leave the house without a paper bag over their head.

I could hardly even recognize the polling place which was, as usual, St. Mark's School. There were no signs up, no signs at all that anything was going on. You had to trust in God and just walk up to the door and go in.

And sure enough there they were, a half dozen sleepy polling agents, all women, reading cookbooks. Women after my own heart! They also had my Facebook friend Steve Cichon's book, "The Complete History of Parkside."

In four years when we do this again I will have to have them set up with my book on Leonard Pennario!

They seemed startled to see me walk in.

"Busy day, I see," I said. We all laughed.

A girl with a pierced lip signed me in. As I was signing my name they told me I was No. 12.

I was the twelfth person in there all day!

While I cast my vote I thought of all the suffragettes who had gone before me. Surely they were there in spirit!

I also thought of the classic song from "Mary Poppins." Can I find it on YouTube? Can I, can I...

I can!!

And it even has the lyrics printed, which are very, very clever.

Political equality and equal rights for men,
Take heart, for Mrs. Pankhurst has been clapped in irons again!!!

Everybody sing!!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sometimes it snows in April

We are getting a spring snowstorm in Buffalo!

Howard just wrote on Facebook: "There are flakes in Buffalo." It is true!

However it does seem so far, knock on wood, that all we are getting is flakes. That is fine with me! I am looking out at my apple tree that already has some blossoms and you know me, hope springs eternal every year that this apple tree will once again crank out apples as it did one halcyon year, I forget which year but it did, it did.

It is fun to hear the radio news enjoying this storm so much. Like watching a puppy running and catching a stick. The announcers were just on the air with the Extreme Weather Specialist from the Weather Channel. We are told that other cities are getting blasted. For the first time this season the radio folks get to say "school closings." There is coverage of our plows getting ready.

Now, you know what, I have checked Weather Dot Com and quietly we have been downgraded to: "Mixed rain and snow, becoming all rain by noon."

I wonder if anyone else remembers the Prince song up above, "Sometimes It Snows in April."

I do!! You know me, big Prince fan! OK, I am kidding, I am not a Prince fan, I am a Leonard Pennario fan, not that anyone would guess, hahaa.

But I remember the song because Baryshnikov danced to it in Artpark. A bunch of us from work went and that is what I remember, the song "Sometimes It Snows in April."

It does indeed!

Friday, April 20, 2012

A grand night for singing

Sometimes when it gets late and it's warm out, which it sort of was today, I get thinking about the picnics I used to go on with my family when I was a kid, and the songs we used to sing on our way home.

There was "Goodnight Irene." When I got into my blues phase much later, my dad liked the idea of Leadbelly because I told him Leadbelly wrote "Goodnight Irene."

In Girl Scouts we learned a song that went, "There's a web like a spider's web/Made of silver light and shadow/Spun by the moon in my room at night..." Holy cow, every song is on YouTube!

Ha, ha! Another song from Girl Scouts, I can't believe I found it.

Once my friend Susan Martin at work, she has the desk next to me, she needed a camp song for a column she was writing, and I burst into "Merry Mac's mother's making Merry Mac marry me ..." They sing it "father" in the video but we sang "mother."

My dad -- come to think of it my dad was usually in charge of the singing -- also loved "I Know Where I'm Going." Gee, what were we, Irish and didn't know it?

It was in this beautiful old movie.

Because of this movie I used to sing this song with Leonard Pennario. I think I will always think of him, the rest of my life, when I hear this song.

When it got really late my dad would lead us in singing "Show Me the Way To Go Home." To my astonishment I found this song on Wikipedia.

And on YouTube. Who would have guessed it?

That is a good group! They are the Hunger Mountain Boys! Listening to the song makes me laugh. Here we were, 6 or 7 years old, and we'd be wailing, "I had a little drink about an hour ago/And it went right to my head!"

I worry now that kids do not sing songs.

But we sure did!

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Picture I took of Howard at Channel 7.

I was doing pretty well taking the picture considering at the same time our friend Airborne Eddy was asking questions about Leonard Pennario.

The picture of Howard at Channel 7 joins pictures of him we have taken at other stations. This is my favorite.

I told Howard that he could apply for a TV news job by showing these pictures along with a trumped-up resume. Ha, ha! He probably could win the job.

We are lucky that our TV news people are such good sports.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Hark, hark, the Quark

I have a couple more classic Albrecht Discount brand names.

One, Freshire Farms.


And another, Fit & Active.

It makes us all sound as if we are 150 years old! I made dinner for my mom today and served her Fit & Active applesauce. She thought it was funny too.

Speaking of Fit & Active is anyone else going to make Quark? There is a story about Quark in today's paper. 

I think I will try it.

Quark too has a great brand name although I do not know if it is from Aldi.

It is Onken!

It made me laugh to read about it because I have not run across that word, Quark, for a long time. I was an exchange student in Dortmund, Germany, when I first encountered it. At breakfast, with berries and rolls and whatever else.

I was in the dark about Quark and later that day when I got together with my fellow Americans, I mentioned it.

"Has anyone else run into this Quark?" I asked.

I always remember one guy responding: "I won't go near it."

Neither would I!

Unlike Pennario who, he loved Germany and I am sure when he was there he ate Quark, no problem. It is funny, I am usually not a picky eater but this Quark, I stayed away. I did not eat yogurt either back then, however, or sour cream. So there may be hope for me now.

I might find a spark for the Quark!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Our ship comes in

Today at my desk at work, sudden excitement!

The Herbert C. Jackson sailed into view.

I jumped up. I alerted Susan Martin, the Home and Style editor, at the next desk. Just as I did in 2009, the first time I saw the Herbert C. Jackson.

Today I did not bother taking any pictures because No. 1, the Facebook camera app on my phone is kaput, and No. 2, I have taken pictures before and these would not be appreciatively different.

Above is a picture I took in '09 of the Herbert C. Jackson. Here is another of it heading out to sea.

Love that Buffalo sky!

I told Howard the Herbert C. Jackson emitted black smoke which makes us wonder if it burns coal. If it does, we love it. Well, we love it anyway.

I got to do a story on the business page last year, I think it was, on freighters on the Great Lakes. The story ended up, to be honest, being a big nightmare for me. I am not used to writing about ore and trade and all that stuff and at the end, panicked, I ended up getting this guy from Buffalo Crushed Stone out of a meeting. Buffalo Crushed Stone owns our port.

"What's the matter?" I remember the guy from Buffalo Crushed Stone asked me when I got him out of that meeting.

"You have to help me!" I always laugh remembering saying that. But at the time it was not funny! I had to go over this paragraph all about ore and grain and Thunder Bay and pellets, and what went from what city to what other city. I was so mixed up!

But it all ended OK. I love the glamour behind the ships. Captain Dan, who sometimes pilots the American Mariner, the biggest freighter ever to make its way up the Buffalo River, he told me that in olden days the crew would dress for dinner and gather to dine in rooms with beautiful woodwork.

Now the crew just kind of hang out and wear baseball caps and play with their iPhones. Oh well.

The Herbert C. Jackson is becoming like an old friend. It was built in 1959, the year that Pennario's "Concertos Under the Stars" was one of the nation's best-selling albums.

It was a time of glamour and good taste!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

I yam what I yam

For Office Cooking Club I showed off with this dessert.

It is Sweet Potato Pudding!

A lot of people think sweet potatoes are only for Thanksgiving but I did not grow up with them on Thanksgiving so I do not have them compartmentalized like that. I eat sweet potatoes all year. I love them.

Sweet Potato Pudding can actually be Jamaican. This one has allspice in it, and rum.

Up above is the link to the recipe I used. You know how you like to stockpile dessert recipes that are easy but look show-offy? This is one of those recipes. File it away.

I did not even have pecans as called for in the praline topping, so I used walnuts. It worked!

Yum! Plus it is gluten free. My friend Jane is gluten intolerant yet she could enjoy Sweet Potato Pudding. We topped it with whipped cream.

Cooking Club was at my house and we dined surrounded by pictures of Ludwig van Beethoven, Leonard Pennario and Calvin Coolidge. These are writers with whom I dined and they thought that Beethoven was John Keats. That is the young Beethoven above! He looks like a young poet.

I felt privileged to be dining with people who knew who Beethoven and John Keats were.

I am lucky in life!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

On the waterfront

Today I walked down by the river. That is a nice thing I think about sometimes, how I work downtown and can walk down by the river, by a 200-year-old lighthouse, by an international border.

By huge gusts of wind that was blowing water everywhere!

At one point the wind was whipping the waves up onto the path where I was walking. It was like the Cave of the Winds! I moved to the side to get out of the way of the water and a man who was jogging had the same idea and ran up onto the embankment too.

As he passed me he said, "We're the only two people crazy enough to be out here!"

That was the truth! I could not stop laughing about that.

But it felt good to be walking out there in the wind and the rain (it started raining too, as if things weren't dramatic enough). I went over a chapter of my book in my head. You can get good at working in your head and that is what I am trying to do.

The waves did kind of remind me of Pennario's "Midnight on the Cliffs."

Monday, April 9, 2012

Here comes the judge

That is a picture I snapped of Howard at Dyngus Day. He is standing by our palatial Central Terminal. He is Prince Dyngus!

Howard was a judge for today's Dyngus Day Parade and he has this strategy that works every year, should he want to be able to drive through police barricades and get a prime parking spot. He dresses up with a red tie and everyone assumes he is a visiting Polish dignitary, say the mayor of Krakow. And he is waved through.

He was even thanked today for the parade!

"That was a really nice parade. Thank you," someone said to Howard when it was over.

"Why, you're welcome, son," Howard replied. Actually I do not know what he said but I hope he said that.

Here is Howard judging.

A street scene. Look at that sky!

The parade was fun and as you can tell from the picture above, one thing that is great about the Dyngus Day Parade is the narrowness of the streets through which the parade winds. That emergency vehicle up above is part of the parade and you can see it barely fits between the lines of people. Fire trucks come rumbling through and they just about run over people's toes.

They need more music in this parade. Even Chopin and his piano went by with no sound. They should have consulted me! I would have lent them Pennario playing Chopin.

I drank a Tyskie or two but we did not make a big long night out of it.

Howard learned his lesson last time when I asked him to drop me after the parade at the Adam Mickiewicz Library. He will not make that mistake again! So today by the time the bells of St. Stanislaus were chiming 7 p.m. we were already on the way home.

Where here I sit. Dreaming of Tyskie and Krupnik.

And all that good stuff.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Easter feaster

I went to Albrecht Discount and bought most of my Easter groaning board.

We are talking ham AND lamb.


Aldi is good for both items. They always have good and well-priced hams. Because it is a German chain they love their smoked meats at Aldi, do they.

Asparagus was sold out. That's OK, my mom said she was sick of asparagus anyway. I keep cooking asparagus because I love it and now is the time. But I got two big cauliflowers. I have an mind a cauli casserole with cheddar cheese. Good for Thanksgiving or Easter. Cauliflower is one of my favorite things.

I also got salad fixings. And I will make pie crusts because my teenage nieces are going to be coming over to do Easter baking. Tomorrow I may add to my spread. We shall see.

I got Austrian dark chocolate for my mom. You should see the Easter chocolate at Aldi. All kinds of chocolate from Germany and Austria. Eggs, bunnies ...

... and there is this Moser Roth chocolate, like something Gustav Mahler would buy ...

... for Alma, after one of their fights. You gain weight just walking in the door!

But you take off the weight packing up your items. I was dragging these big bags around the store with everyone looking at me pityingly. Huge, heavy items were in my bags, including that big ol' ham and a gallon of milk.

What made me smile was the ceremonial annual buying of the Half and Half.

I drink my morning coffee black during Lent. I know you are not supposed to mention your sacrifices but mine is so pathetic next to the stuff other people give up that what is the difference. Honest, I can just see Christ rolling His eyes. "Mary. Black coffee. I mean, seriously."

But I hate black coffee! Except under certain circumstances, by which I mean after dinner sometimes, with a rich dessert. Early in the morning, in Pennario's bathrobe, working on my book, I like that coffee with cream and sugar. I crave it. I know this will not win me points with St. Peter but still.

So I was delighted to see a few cartons of Half and Half left. You are mine, baby! You are mine!

Emerging from the store my happy haze evaporated because of a boom car sitting outside.

Some schuft was apparently waiting for his woman to come out of the store. He had the SUV parked at the curb, all open so you could hear the stereo. And it was this loud, nasty rap! With the F word. The MF word. Everything imaginable! I wanted to call the cops, you know?

The checkout gal at Aldi had told me it was a zoo because it was Easter plus the first of the month. But this is unbelievable.

I mean, it is Good Friday!

Sometimes I worry about the world and this was one of those times.

Oh well. Back in the car I brightened. It was the presence of that Half and Half. The Aldi brand is Happy Farms. Suits me! I am one happy camper.

Or I will be, come Sunday.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Up Jumped Irish Spring

We have harvested the first spring fruits of the bathroom tree.

They are seven perfectly clean, heavy-duty, crisp white paper towels, folded like napkins. There must be a name for this luxury item but I am not sure what that would be.

I would never actually spring to buy something like this! But that is where the bathroom tree comes in.

With patience we harvest our own toiletries!

We have a group home by our house and what happens is, there is this one guy who yells and bellows and throws things out of the bathroom window. At least we think that it is the yelling and screaming guy who throws this stuff out. It lands in our grass and on the driveway. No one ever goes out to repossess it. If we do not pick it up these items up they would just stay there forever.

We consider it our bathroom garden and every once in a while there is a harvest.

Once it was a big bar of soap!

Another time, a bottle of shampoo.

It is always nice stuff because it is other people's money being spent. You know how it is when you are gardening, you have a little something to look forward to when you wake up in the morning. Sometimes I take a break in working on my Pennario project and I go outside and see if there is anything ready to be picked.

I wonder what the bathroom garden will yield us next!

The climate is right this year for a good harvest.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Magazine wracked

The cooking magazine adventure continues!

Today we pick apart a new magazine called "Eating Well." It is new to me anyway. I got a copy of it a few months ago from a friend of a friend who works at a store. The cover was off it. I guess that is what happens when a magazine does not sell. They rip the covers off. Anyway I got a cover-less issue.

And I loved it! This was the issue from last November, or whenever. I made about 15 recipes from the issue, which was a lot, considering it is a skinny magazine and I was very busy with my book on Leonard Pennario. They had a great story on eggplant and I made something like 5 out of 6 of the recipes. And I made two chicken recipes and a soup. This is great, I thought!

So a few weeks ago I was thinking about that and I subscribed.


Eating well, I mean.

It had been only two months but in those two months the magazine had done a redesign. I am telling you right now, magazines are sinking, and that is why they keep idiotically reinventing themselves. It is a desperation.

Now Eating Well is 10 pages skinnier. And it has, on its cover, "41 Recipes." That is fewer than my last issue! And two of the recipes do not count because it is "for two." They have, just so you know what I mean, Chicken Shawarma For Two. All the "for two" recipe is, is a box where they say, "To cook for two, halve all the ingredients."

Then they list it as a separate recipe!

Is that the dumbest thing or what? Fie! Fie on them and on their tables. And on their salt and pepper shakers.

Also I do not care about "tips," you know? Martha Stewart Everyday Food was guilty of that this month too. The cover promises: "Our best tips." Who cares about tips? Just give me recipes. Not tips, not lectures on sustainable fish or green this or that which, I do not believe in global warming anyway. Just recipes. Why is that so hard to understand?

Fie on Eating Well. Fie.

All the same I did make the Chicken Shawarma, not for two, and it came out wonderful. So all is not lost.

Just 90 percent is lost.

I am terrible when it comes to cooking magazines.

I am so hard to please!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The horns of the unicorns

It is time again for my favorite line from Palm Sunday, perhaps in all of Scripture:

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

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

It is tough to type in Latin! You do not realize how used you are to the patterns of letters in English.

Still a tremendous line, even if it is hard to type in Latin.

The missal says it comes from Psalms 21, 20 and 22. It took three Psalms thousands of years ago to come up with a prayer that cool.

Now we are used to seeing unicorns as cute and warm and fuzzy.

But the unicorn in the ancient Hebrew psalm is more like this.

Or like the one at the top of this post. Doesn't that picture kill you? I saw it and had to include it. Just the idea of Robot Unicorns. Hahahaa!

It is funny, I have fallen behind with the Web log -- too much work on the Leonard Pennario book, I am trying to coordinate all of the pictures -- and I see I have not posted since Tuesday, when I crafted the immortal prose titled "Spring Ding-a-Ling."

Spring Ding-a Ling is right!

Today I totally underdressed for church. I remembered too late that Palm Sunday Mass starts 15 minutes early because you have to bless the palms plus there is a procession. So I just threw on a dress and a jacket and ran out the door.

I froze!!

All through Mass I never stopped shivering. At one point my fingers got so cold I could not turn the pages of my prayer book.

It appears I have made this mistake before -- I knew I had written before about the unicorn prayer, and that is how I looked it up.

It is a tradition with me, freezing on Palm Sunday!

Still it feels like spring, hearing the prayer about the unicorns.