Saturday, November 30, 2013

Under a blanket of blue

Scenes from Delaware Park where I walked while listening to Pennario:

So pretty.

It is fun, the first real snow, before you become too familiar with each other.

As happens soon enough.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

My $50 sack of potatoes

There is always something you need at the last minute for Thanksgiving and that is how it should be. Because you are going to have to make that last trip to the store one way or another. So you may as well have a concrete reason.

My reason was potatoes. I had completely forgotten them!

So out I go to Albrecht Discount. Aldi, by the way, is closed on Thanksgiving, so you can feel good about shopping there the day before.

They had a good deal on potatoes, a 15-pound sack for $4. I had not planned on buying 15 pounds of potatoes but why not, you know? I am a growing girl, or I will be, anyhow, after eating these. The potatoes have the greatest Aldi brand name. It is Heartland!

Aldi was calm and quiet and so I kept shopping. My purchases included but were not limited to:

-- Four bars of German chocolate. Leonard Pennario loved that German audiences loved him and the people who appreciate Pennario naturally have an appreciation for the fine things in life, including chocolate.

-- Five 8-ounce bricks of Happy Valley cheese.

-- A can of Beaumont coffee.

-- Two cauliflowers.

-- Two bags of Paradise Meadows cranberries, never mind that I have a freezer full. They were 99 cents!

-- A pomegranate.

-- A gallon of milk.

-- Two pints of whipping cream.

-- Three jars of French and German mustard, on sale for $1.29. This is the greatest mustard around.

-- Three pounds of sweet potatoes.

I cannot remember what else I bought. I am just listing these off the top of my head. All I know is that my bill came to $54 and when I got home I just kept hauling bag after bag into the house.

My friend Ryan has been boasting, and rightfully so, about having a Shur-Fine Thanksgiving. Here is his picture of his purchases.

I am having an Aldi Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Wheel of fortune

Yesterday I went to the late yoga class at the Buffalo Athletic Club. I have kind of fallen in with taking yoga now and then despite my reservations. It is OK other than when the teacher goes into that gobbledygook where she asks you: "Set an intention for your practice tonight."

Ahem, an intention?

My intention is to tone myself up!

Then there is this further goofiness where you fold your hands and "seal your intention." Yeah right as Leonard Pennario used to say. This is when I fuss with my socks and sneakers.

Other than that I like this teacher and between this and the Pilates classes I have been taken I am getting stronger and stronger. Last night I was able to do the Plough pose ...

... which I could not do the other day.

I also did the Wheel!

I did not expect I would be able to do it but I pushed my hands into the mat as the teacher said and all of a sudden there I was, floating up there in the Wheel pose. From my upside-down vantage point I surveyed the room and I noticed that no one else was doing the pose. I was the only one! I freaked out seeing that. What did they know that I did not? What if my back snapped? What if I hurt myself?

Why was I up here in this crazy pose and nobody else was?

It actually did not feel bad. All my classes have been paying off and I think I am a little stronger. But I was happy when the teacher said to get down from there. "Enough of that!" I said.

A few minutes later the teacher tried leading us in a split.

"No," I told myself. "You are not going to do a split. We have never done a split. We are not going to start now."

Because all of a sudden I worried I would be able to do it. Heck, I'd done everything else!

Now when it is time to go to the gym I kind of worry.

Who knows what the next class will bring?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Winter omnibus

If yesterday was Stir Up Sunday today is Stir Up Monday.

We are being stirred up by our weather forecasters!

You must cancel all your plans for the week.

If you cannot cancel your plans you must plan to take the Metro Bus.

The one thing about the months leading up to winter is you do not appreciate your ease of movement. You can drive here and there, no problem. You can just throw on clothes and leave the house.When it snows things are different!

Up above is a picture I took last year when we got to this point and I had to get on the bus. I put it on the Buzz Blog that I just linked to. All of a sudden Buffalo looks kind of picturesque, you know, when seen from safety behind a big bus window. You have those beautiful soft hues of white and blue and violet.

Here is another Ansel Adams shot from the Buzz Blog:

Bus riding is a skill everyone in Buffalo should have but it is amazing how many people do not have it. They do not know how much it costs or how to pay or which routes go where. Which is a pity because it can be fun to ride the bus. Sure, you never know who will be riding it with you. Hence a word I love, omnibus. It means a bus for all! Which, let us admit it, can have its bad side. Still, when the weather is cruddy there is nothing like sitting on this big bus as it maneuvers its way indifferently through traffic.

You can horse with your iPhone, you can not horse with your iPhone. You can sleep. Sometimes I do.

Anyway I suddenly see more bus rides in my future. Also good fortune for the Pennario book because of those long white nights where you have nothing to pursue but scholarship. OK, there is also wine with your friends, is another thing about winter. As my grammar slides south. Forgive me, it is a Monday morning.

With an ominous forecast!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Stir Up Sunday

My heart stirred this morning when I heard the words that signal Stir Up Sunday.

Stir Up Sunday gets its name because of the Collect prayer, which begins, "Excita, quaesumus, Domine," which means "Stir up, we beseech Thee, O Lord..."

Over the centuries people began taking that as the cue to stir up your puddings and fruitcakes!

There was that one Stir Up Sunday when I planned to make fruitcakes. I do not remember if I ever carried through with that plan. This year though, I have already carried through a plan. I made cookies!

I made cookies early so I could take them to our church coffee hour. I was feeling festive because I had written this story for the paper all about Thanksgiving and Buffalo and home. There were these cookies in Cooking Light that looked easy so I made them.

They took a while. All cookies take a while, you know? In this case I had to shape them and roll them in sugar and cinnamon.

But they came out great! And I have forgotten how relaxing it is to make cookies, just by yourself, la la la la la la la. I was very pious and ate just one. At the coffee hour they went over big. All the kids were eating them. And as one gentleman pointed out, my cookies were competing with glazed doughnuts right next to them. That the kids were grabbing the cookies was a great compliment to the chef. I sure stirred things up there!

Every cookie has something that makes them wonderful and in the case of this cookie it is the texture. They are thin and really crisp and they are coated with granulated sugar so, yum. I do not have the sweet tooth that Leonard Pennario had but I do get excited about treats now and then. "Excita, Domine ..."

It is funny thinking back on Stir-Up Sunday a couple of years ago. I have fallen into such a medieval view of the seasons. Stir-Up Sunday is the last Sunday before Advent begins. Then Advent starts and you get the beautiful "Rorate" prayer. I have gotten used to all of this and anticipate it even though I did not grow up with it. Then in the middle of Advent comes Gaudete Sunday, "Rejoice."

We have a potluck feast planned for that Sunday.

I guess I will be doing some more stirring up!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Trip to the Tops

Today I went to Tops. In Buffalo you are either a Tops person or a Wegmans person. I venture into Wegmans sometimes but mostly I am a Tops person! If you have never been to Tops above is a map to help you find one.

I got my Thanksgiving turkey. Leave it to me to find the biggest bird there, 22 pounds. I see what they mean about the shortage of huge turkeys. I panicked when I read that, I will tell you that right now!

Because I have to clean up my house before Thanksgiving I also got the world's hugest pack of paper towels. I had to make a separate trip into the house with it. It was the Tops brand 96-roll package. Well, not quite. But almost!

I also got a couple of Celestial Seasonings Christmas teas. Remember those Celestial Seasonings teas? They are finally back. The teas of Christmas! It is like the tease of spring.

They were on sale so with 50 cents knocked off them they were $2.50. I think Wegmans has them cheaper but I am not a Wegmans person, I am a Tops person.

I got two Fresh Express salads for a dollar off. The little things that make your day, you know?

Here is one nice thing about Tops: You do not have to be dressed up to go there. I was in sneakers and heading to the gym for my Pilates class. I could walk around Tops with my head held high. And my huge turkey in the cart and my gigantic paper towel package beneath it.

Not everything is a bargain at Tops. Some things are insanely expensive. But there are deals to be had if you know where to look. Another thing,  I admire Tops for leading the way on the turkey prices this year. Wegmans had in its ad, "We will not be undersold by Tops!" So Wegmans is being reactionary.

Haha, I just remembered, Howard told me about this friend he had a long time ago who had a doodad that allowed him to connect people on the phone, each thinking they called the other. Once put a divorced couple on the phone with each other. And another time he had Tops call Wegmans!

You get these people both talking politely, waiting for the other one to say why he called.

Once working on my Pennario book I put a divorced couple on the phone with each other. Well, I made it happen. The husband, this conductor, had to call his ex-wife. He wanted to confirm her memory of a story he told me. He got back in touch with me and said they hadn't talked to each other in I forget how many years. They were laughing together about this long-ago incident and I got the idea it was kind of surreal.

That is the kind of couple that Howard's friend would have had fun with.

Alas, that joke is probably over, with the advent of cell phones.

But the Tops/Wegmans rivalry continues!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Oh, no, the Crow

I went to PiYo class today where they tried to make us do the Crow. That is the Crow up above.

Will someone tell me why you would want to do this pose?

I mean, it is all on your wrists. I do not want my whole body supported on my wrists. Although I do admit it looks pretty entertaining. And you do kind of look like a crow, you know?

Entertaining as it was I resisted it.

No Crow for me!

It is kind of fun, this class. The teacher pads among us, saying, "Beautiful." The lights were off and all we had was the light coming in the glass block windows from the Cardio room. If I could not do a pose I would sit there and plan out my writing on Leonard Pennario.

At the end of the class the teacher is just kind of sitting there with her hands folded and her head down acting as if it is this sacred thing, and so you do not bother her.

It was like that once when I went to a yoga class at the Tri-Main Center with my friend Michelle. This hippie was leading the class and at the end she brought us through this long meditation. You were supposed to lie and close your eyes and not look up. But I looked up! And this teacher was sitting there just blissing out, sitting there crossed-legged among all these dozens of candles.

That was a great hippie scene! I do not know if I will see the like anytime soon, But in the meantime I think I am making good progress toward my exercise goals.

As the crow flies!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The wonderful thing about tiggy

I knew yesterday, when I was exiting Albrecht Discount and saw a free Happier Holidays Recipe Book, that the recipes in this book would be classic, just classic.

And sure enough.

This book is a celebration of Aldi brand names.

Today in the middle of going over stuff related to Leonard Pennario's "Rhapsody Under the Stars," I remembered it downstairs and took a quick break to check it out. Pennario would not mind. He loved to eat.

There are things called Party Poppers, on page 3. They call for Southern Grove Pitted Dates and Special Selected Thick Sliced Hickory Bacon.

Goat Cheese and Cherry Latkes, on page 5, call for Happy Farms Cream Cheese and Stonemill Essentials Iodized Salt. I am always attracted to Hanukkah recipes, you know? I think it is because Jewish food and German food have so much in common. This is stuff I grew up with. And even the recipes that do not remind me of home, the way potato pancakes do, sound interesting. Often they are Mediterranean or Israeli. I have been noticing when the cooking magazines send their December issues, the Hanukkah article is always one of the first things I go to.

Where was I? How did I get onto the subject of healthy food? Fie on healthy food, fie. Back to the Aldi Christmas cookbook.

The best recipe is on Page 6. It is Tiggy!

Beneath it, in small print, the explanation:

"Turkey stuffed with piggy."

That is Tiggy pictured above. It must be made. I will be purchasing Appleton Farms Pork Sausage Roll as well as Kirkwood Boneless Turkey Breast, thawed.

I am going to have a merry Aldi Christmas!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The stalker

Howard and I were in West Seneca this week where we passed Fourteen Holy Helpers and stopped in the Market in the Square in Southgate Plaza. I must have been there before but I could not remember it.

Haha... my computer is questioning the word "Southgate." It has it underlined in red. That is one way you can tell your computer was not made in Buffalo. The Southgate Plaza has been around since 1955. The same year that Leonard Pennario recorded "Concertos Under the Stars"! A most excellent year.

Here is a picture of me being a happy camper in the produce department.

Howard put that picture of me up on Facebook and it is funny how many of our friends thought I was buying food for Thanksgiving or some other big feast.

"Why do they think that?" That is what I said to Howard.

He said, "No one goes into a store and buys a huge stalk of celery."

Well, how else do you buy celery? That is just how I shop!

I buy a lot of food. We burn through it, too. If you look closely at my cart you will perceive a 10-pound bag of onions. They were cheaper than at the Clinton-Bailey Market.

Barely visible in the blurry foreground is a pile of cabbages as big as basketballs. That is where I am heading with my cart!

I like the Market in the Square. I can't remember going there before but I will be back.

It thinks big the way I do!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Snow gets in your eyes

It was weird this morning to have the dusting of snow. That is all we had here where I live, just a dusting. But it was enough to change the light and the feel of the room.

When I came out of the shower wrapped in a towel and walked to the closet to get dressed, something was different and that was what it was.

The snow!

Hardly any but still.

One thing I could not believe, I was listening to the Christmas station, WJYE. Do not ask me why I listen to the Christmas station this early. It is just another option I add to my car listening along with WBEN and Catholic Radio and my Leonard Pennario recordings. Anyway, the guy on this Christmas station, Joy FM, what does he say about the snow?

"Well, Old Man Winter paid us a visit last night."

Dourly! He went on to announce the next number, which was Rod Stewart singing "My Favorite Things" ... all was forgiven as far as I was concerned.

But come on!

It snowed!

That station should trot out its best Shane Brother Shane impression and go, "OK, people wonder why we're blasting Christmas music at you this early. This is why. Look outside, folks! Snow on the ground! Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! I've got my love to keep me warm! It's that time of the year! And you came to the right place. We're going to be bringing you all kinds of snowy songs. Here we go ...."

And they ease on into "Winter Wonderland."

That's how it's done!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Confessions of a Kraut

Now that I am slicing and dicing with my newly sharpened knives I have a new favorite food.

Chinese cabbage!

Also called Napa cabbage. That is it, pictured magnificently above. Tonight after going to the gym and buying square Christmas records at Goodwill, what I did was, I chopped up a pan full and put it in a 400 degree oven coated lightly with a little canola oil and kosher salt. It cooked up amazingly.

This came from the Clinton-Bailey Market on Saturday, as if you had to ask.

What didn't I buy at the market!

Holy cannoli, I bought three cabbages. There is the Napa cabbage and this huge Savoy cabbage ...

... and a red cabbage.


Not for nothing do they call me a Kraut! 

I also bought a huge bunch of red peppers and three green peppers and two gallons of cider and some miniature watermelon and I forget what else. We ate one of these Personal Watermelon tonight. And a half bushel of apples. And two cauliflowers. I am hopeless at the market. Hopeless.

Then I went home and worked on the book on Leonard Pennario and left my purchases sitting in plastic bags in the kitchen. Only later did I go downstairs and look at it.

This Napa cabbage, I am not kidding! I am going to work my way through these Napa cabbage recipes.

Cabbage is delicious and you can do a million things with it. As one chef pointed out, you do not even have to wash it, just cut it up and you are set. Not only that but as I am eating it I have lost two pounds.

It is the miracle food!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The cutting edge

Yesterday, great excitement. I got my knives sharpened!

It is a metaphor for how my life is going. I have this surge going with my book and I get my knives sharpened. I went over last night to my friends' Mike and Melinda's house with my knives and a bottle of wine and Mike sharpened my knives. And we all drank the wine. This did not all happen at the same time or else I probably would not be here writing this.

It is thrilling to have sharp knives. Mike was laughing because I have not sharpened these knives in forever. They are Henckel knives and they were a wedding present from my Aunt Marce and Uncle James. Above is a picture from World Knives of the Henckel knife making team from 1903, in Solingen, Germany. Those are the folks who made my knives! I treasure them. But for a long time I have not sharpened them.

Mike said the big knife had no edge at all!, zut alors and son of a garlic-chopping sea cook.

Anyway, he and Melinda wrapped my sharp knives in a dish towel for me and home I went with them. I got home kind of late and Howard and I ate dinner even later because I could not stop chopping and dicing things. Chopping an onion was a pleasure!

"Be careful!" Howard said. "You're going to cut your fingers off."

"Howard," I lectured. "I have read all about this and it is the dull knives that cut you. When your knives are sharp it's much safer. You don't cut yourself --"

"Bull!" Howard yelled.

Howard is right. His name means "noble watchman," remember? And so I am careful. But still I am enjoying these knives. This morning between polishing up my incisive assessments of two Pennario albums I went and shredded a cabbage. The Henckel went through it like butter.

What a joy. My brother-in-law David is going to be really happy I did this, too, I will tell you that. Because it is his job to carve the Thanksgiving turkey and I am always handing him dull knives. No more!

It's the little things that make your life a cut above!

Monday, November 4, 2013

The new family

Yesterday there was a family at St. Anthony's nobody recognized and everyone noticed them because they were sitting right smack in the front pew. You could not miss them! Parents and several children. And you could tell they were new. They looked interested and engaged, just not completely acclimated to everything that was going on.

It turned out they were this Hispanic family and they thought the Mass was going to be in Spanish.

Latin Mass, get it?

It is amazing this does not happen more often!

So everyone was all over them at coffee hour. They were celebrities. Everyone was kidding with them and wanted to know them. One thing that was cool, this one teenage boy they had, he said to me he loved the Mass because it was more reverent.

He said that! It is amazing if a teenager just talks to you, let alone says something like that. Maybe we are dealing with a future priest here, you know? Anyway I was talking with him about the first Latin Mass I went to. I was all by myself and completely lost but I have always treasured the memory. There was something mysterious and glorious about it. And periodically something would come into focus. Like the Our Father, you get that chant melody you hear in modern masses. That somehow survived. Only at the Tridentine Mass the congregation does not sing it. There were other little things too, like the Sanctus, I recognized that.

So there this family was at coffee hour with all of us standing around them, fussing over them, trying to make sure they got the choice Tim Bits and that nobody bored them. It was an eventful coffee hour. Not only that but I got to talk about Leonard Pennario! My elegant British friend Alenka came up and asked how the book was going and I got to tell the newcomers about Leonard Pennario.

Haha, they will probably never be back. They are probably talking about us right now!

"All those people jumping all over us like a big St. Bernard!"

"And that one Senora who only talked about dead pianists."

Oh well.

At least they will remember us!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Brought to you by Niagara Fallsview Casino

Haha, I sit down to listen to this beautiful song about All Souls Day by Schubert, and what pops up before I can hear it? This noisy ad for Niagara Fallsview Casino! With Sylvester Stallone, Ringo Starr, I forget who else.

YouTube is a riot, you know?

Sometimes they preface Pennario performances with the craziest ads for violent TV shows and stuff. The kind of trashy TV shows and movies that Pennario would hate. It always cracks me up.

Once I went looking for a song from "Carousel" and up popped an ad for some kind of industrial carousels.

Let's take a gamble on another song for All Souls Day.

You never know what you'll get!