Thursday, June 27, 2013

The occupational hazards of Zumba

So last night I go and catch the dress rehearsal of Nickel City Opera's production of Donizetti's "Don Pasquale." It is full of lovely melodies.

I drive home listening to the songs of Heinrich von Herzogenberg. He is this German Romantic composer I did not think I would like but to my surprise a lot of these songs are gorgeous. That is old Herr von Herzogenberg pictured above.

All this beautiful music! So when I wake up today, what is on my brain?

This stupid Zumba song!

"Ooh la la, ooh la la, ooh la la, ooh la la ...."

Recently I have thought, I have to go out of my way to seek out beautiful things, to fill my mind with beauty and not dreck. I do not want to read crap. I do not want to see crummy movies with scenes I would rather forget. I listen to Schubert. I listen to Leonard Pennario.

But I love to Zumba! I have been doing a lot of Zumba lately. And it is not as if you can Zumba to the songs of Heinrich von Herzogenberg.

Or Johannes Brahms.

No easy answers.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The 10 Things That Don't Go To Goodwill

The Things That Go To Goodwill:

1.) Ruffly, itchy thing.

2.) The shoes that felt good on my feet when I tried them on at Marshall's but pinched the minute I got them out the door.

3.) The green skirt that while pretty never quite looked as if it belonged outside of the St. Patrick's Day Parade.

4.) The dress that's nice but it is too hard to put on.

5.) Perfectly nice sweater, just ... never wear it.


Why Certain Things Get a Reprieve From Goodwill:

1.) My mom liked me in it.

2.) Howard liked me in it.

3.) Leonard Pennario liked me in it.

4.) If it does't fit now it will some day.

5.) I never wear it but I've had it so long that I'm sentimental about it.

6.) I might want the buttons some day.

7.) Once I donated a dress and felt bad about it later and went back to the Goodwill looking for it and it was gone.

8.) If I hang it on the door it will encourage me to lose five pounds.

9.) The label reads "Von Mozart."

10.) On account of you never know.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Adventure on Bidwell Parkway

Tonight we went to hear the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra playing in the city, on Bidwell Parkway.

A picture of my niece Barbara.

And my nephew Georgie, trying to learn to tie his shoes.

Ha, ha! He was puffing his cheeks out, he was concentrating so hard.

Both kids were good about listening to the BPO. They have inherited their aunt's abilities to remain motionless through long pieces of classical music! Georgie liked Aaron Copland's "Simple Gifts." He knew it from Mass as "Lord of the Dance." He was singing along! I heard him go, "Dance, then, wherever you may be." And he said to me, "I know this song!" So cute.

We brought this really cool picnic basket that is visible to the right of Barbara's face up above.

This basket, it was funny, before we went to the concert, Barbara asked, "Do we have a picnic basket to take?"

And I saw this basket in the dining room, next to a box of Leonard Pennario records. I said, "Yes, Bar, we do!"

And this basket, it killed me. I remembered buying it at a garage sale with my mom. My mom said, and she was right, that it would be a great present for someone. That was what I intended, to give it as a present to someone. But I never did. Most of my girlfriends have fall or winter birthdays. It just works out that way. Other than that, I just forgot.

Now here was this basket. We opened it up. Barbara said, in delight, "Oh!"

And I said: "Oh!"

It was beautifully fitted out with four red cups and four red plates and red silverware. Everything was just so perfect. Both of us were gaga, looking at it. You can see one of the red cups in the picture up above of Georgie tying his shoes.

My mom was right. It was a present. For me!

We packed up homemade bread and cheese from Albrecht Discount and the strawberry jam I made from strawberries from the Clinton-Bailey Market. And a bag of radishes. "Oh! Radishes!" said Barbara.

She is in that magical phase when everything is wonderful.

I want to see the world like that!

Monday, June 24, 2013

The mystery mulberry

My brother George said that a mulberry tree sprang up overnight at my mom's house.

Nobody saw it coming! It is most mysterious. One day there was nothing and the next day there was this mulberry tree as high as the house.  And it is full of mulberries. George and the kids have been shaking them down.

We believe it is supernatural.

So is sure to be the jam I will make from the mulberries. I have never made mulberry jam before. I have never even tasted a mulberry! But someone has to be the first to eat an oyster. Or, in this case, a mulberry.

I have been to Mulberry's in Lackawanna so that is a start.

Above is a painting of the mulberry tree at my mother's house. It was painted by a friend of the family, Vincent Van Gogh.

There is mulberry wine to be made. You can also make mulberry ice cream. Perhaps I will try that. I was thinking back on the ice cream I used to eat with Leonard at Coldstone Creamery.

It is time to crank up the ice cream machine.

To celebrate!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Compliments to the chef

Don't you hate when it is just you at table, when you are cooking dinner just for yourself, and it comes out looking so damned good that you regret that no one else is there to see it?

I am always trying to show off when I cook dinner for Howard. Then when he is not home I like to branch out and cook something a little off the wall, something I think I would like but I am not sure about him. Often it is something vegetarian. Women do that a lot. If there is no guy around we just make veggie pasta or roast half a squash or something.

The other night when Howard had Lounge Academy I tossed together greens with red peppers and polenta. It is out of a Cooking Light magazine from a million years ago, back when Cooking Light was a decent magazine and gave you a hundred recipes an issue and all of them sounded good.

I piled it all into this Dollar Tree bowl and shook on some Parmesan and son of a sea cook!

It looked good!

It would never have looked this good if there were someone else here.

I remember when I made beef stew for Leonard Pennario, thinking, if Leonard were not here it would look better. Things always look better when it is just you! Because that is when it does not have to look good.

Things always turn out well when you are not trying!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Haul of fame

Just because my mother is gone does not mean that I have stopped garage sale-ing. Au contraire! I went garage sale-ing Saturday and I know she was with me in spirit. Well, on second thought I am not sure she was, because she probably would have frowned on half the things I bought.

I scored a copy of Mark Bittman's "How To Cook Everything," pictured above, duh. For $1. I could not believe my luck. I just about fell over two boxes of stuff when I saw it in my haste to get to it.

I could just hear my mom: "You have enough cookbooks." But I have wanted this book forever!

Plus I got a statue of the Infant of Prague. It looks kind of like this only cooler and more sophisticated.

Remember, it was like the situation with St. Joseph, you worry about these statues not going to the right people. The only trouble is, there was also an Infant of Prague statue with the cloth skirt ...

.. but I did not buy it. I have to draw the line somewhere and the cloth skirt would get dusty. Also it just is not me. It is fussy. But darn, as I was leaving the sale, the Infant of Prague with the cloth was just kind of lying there abjectly in a box full of junk. I felt so bad!

It is just wrong that these items of faith are just left there begging. But, I mean, I only have this one radiator where I have set up a kind of altar for these items. Also you pay for them too, you know? It is unfortunate that they charge for them but they do.


No Leonard Pennario records or memorabilia, but I did score some gym clothes and a dress that I have already worn.

It was a good day of sale-ing!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

On the Island

Today was the greatest day to go to Fantasy Island because at first it rained. Then the sun came out.

But by the time the sun came out most people had chickened out of going to the park. They thought it would rain all day! As I almost did when I was driving there. It was pouring while I was on the road, and I despaired. But as soon as I got there the sun came out. That is the effect I have on people and places! And so there were no lines for anything.

If you went to Fantasy Island today you were a winner!

Leonard Pennario liked riding rides and so do I. I rode the Silver Comet something like eight times with my little nephew George Henry. Once we scored the front car and we were the only two people on the train.

George Henry, as we were rising toward the sky, was trying to tell me how the ride was magnetized and how the train stayed on the tracks.

I said: "George Henry, I hope it works OK because we are the only people weighing this train down."

Ha, ha! It was like when he was 5 and we went hurtling on a sled out into the darkness. I am always following George Henry into precarious situations.

The only time the kids grew desultory was on the train ride which, admittedly, it was slow going. That is our George Henry in the center. George Andrew is at right. At the controls of the train is Melvin. He is the engineer.

Once we saw a Model T offroading! It was supposed to be on the Classic Car Track but instead it was out ranging around.

Another sight not seen every day: a shoe slide.

Love the classic 1930s Blue Goose!

An eventful day and as I drop off to sleep tonight, I will be hearing the clickety-clack of the wooden roller coaster ...

... climbing uphill.

Wooden coasters and blue geese will be in my dreams!

Friday, June 14, 2013

A jug of wine, a loaf of bread ...

Howard went to Goodwill and bought a Welbilt.

That is a name we love, Welbilt! It is a bread machine. The Welbilt was a pioneer in the bread-machine business, the way Leonard Pennario was a pioneer with Ravel's "La Valse."

The best thing was, the bread machine did not cost a lot of bread!

The Welbilt was missing its price tag but Howard truthfully told the clerk that The Wife had been by and told him that it was $5. And they sold it to him for that. Yay, Goodwill! They did not let it turn into a bureaucratic nightmare, that the Welbilt was missing its price tag. They accepted Howard's offer.

Which is funny because, thinking about it, I am foggy about that price business. I think I have been dealing not too badly with recent events but I have been in kind of a daze. A few days ago I was at the Goodwill with my sister, and of course I remember seeing the machine, but I am not sure how I knew it was $5 or why I did not buy it. I think I got distracted and walked away.

Imagine, walking away from this Welbilt!

That will not happen again! 

Anyway, we have this Welbilt, and it is, well, well built. We were up until 2 a.m., lifting the lid and watching it tossing around this ball of dough. Eventually it presented us with this hilarious looking loaf, shaped like a big fat bullet. I will have to post a picture. We tried it and it was perfect, a rich brown with a most excellent texture.

You know what they say, a jug of wine, a loaf of bread ...

Comfort food!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Back in the saddle

Yikes, look at the date! I have been away from Blog-O-Land for a while. What happened was, my mother passed away. It was a brief illness but a lot of ups and downs and it took me a while to be able to focus.

I wanted to write about it on the Web log because my mom was a major character on it even if she did not exactly know it. And I thought I should explain. But every time I sat down to do it I just kind of blanked.


Now I am finding my equilibrium.

It is on the feast of St. Anthony when you find things! That is St. Anthony pictured above. Isn't that a beautiful picture? It is by one of the saint's namesakes, Antonio de Pereda.

As I regain my equilibrium I am powering ahead with the Leonard Pennario project. It kind of slowed in the last few months because of concerns over my mom but this is good news, even in the midst of my troubles, I got in a few minutes here and there, and things turned up. One of them was a great photo of Pennario with the great soprano Lotte Lehmann. My book is going to be full of pictures and this one is a real rarity.

Now with the incessant rain I should be able to get more done. We do not mind rainy days here at the Leonard Pennario desk. We pop open a can of Shur-Fine Diet White Birch Beer and we get to work.

Plus there comes a point when, whatever has happened to you, something comes along that jolts you out of it. For me it happened today because I realized, to my horror, that my car registration was due.

I mean it expired today!

What to do? What to do? Ah, I could pay online, right? I went out and wrote down my license plate number. I found my way to the site. I punched in information and credit card numbers.

Then I hit "submit." An appropriate word. You submit to the government. 

I wait for my confirmation. But then ... but then ... the stupid thing buzzes me back saying something like: "The program needed to process your payment is not working. Please try back in at least half an hour."

I tried again. It happened again. I hung my head. Clearly this was hopeless. And here it was the last day. I had thought the thing expired on June 15 but it was June 13, zut alors. 

What if I had to go to the DMV?

I scoured the house for my car registration paperwork. If I could find the form they sent me, maybe I could just mail it, and not drive before the new registration arrived. I could take it to the post office tonight. I could say I had tried online and it had not worked. I could --

I could not find the paperwork. 

Finally I decided to try online one more time. It was the Feast of St. Anthony. St. Anthony has to do with finding things, not making computer programs work, but he had helped me out so many times I thought maybe he might do it again.

I typed everything in again. I hit "submit." I screwed my eyes shut. "Please, St. Anthony," I said. "Make it go through. Please."

And it did!!

I opened my eyes and there was my confirmation and Temporary Registration, ready to be printed out.

How bad can life be when a man born in the 12th century, a Doctor of the Church, a disciple of St. Francis of Assisi, lets you know that you have his ear? I ask you.

We rejoice with the St. Anthony Chorale.