Monday, July 21, 2014

Keeping tabs on the tabby

I have figured out that Howard's and my cat is a tabby cat.

It is an 18th century term for tiger cat! I read somewhere that the term dates to the 1770s which means Mozart could have run across a tabby cat. Thomas Jefferson surely had one. It is funny, you know, to think that today's cats are descendants from the cats back then.

It takes pretty cats to make pretty music, as Lester Young said. That is why Pennario was a great pianist.

Anyway, our cat. It is not the one in the picture above but it almost could be. Our cat has a little more orange. Otherwise it seems typical of tabby cats. It is a Mackerel Tabby, also known as a tiger cat. And when it is sleeping it looks like this picture.

What a beautiful kind of cat! Tabby is not a breed, though. It is just a description. From reading up on things I believe there is no way to determine what breed of cat ours is. They just seem like cats that are everywhere. Good thing, too, because tabbies are supposed to be very smart and also very cuddly and not aloof as cats are supposed to be. That is our cat! Googling around I saw that tabbies like to lie in their owners' laps. And if you let them into your bed they will sleep with you.

Because they are so loving they are known as "the dogs among cats." They have the letter "M" on their forehead which folklore says is the blessing of the Virgin Mary.

Whatever, we got a good cat.

A tabby!

Saturday, July 19, 2014


Remember the gym and the pool and the hot tub? Today I indulged. 

It is funny, the social skills it takes to use the pool at the gym. You have to walk out in public in your bathing suit. You have to finesse sharing someone's lane in the pool. Not everyone can do that which is why the pool is never as crowded as you think it will be. Not even in Buffalo, where people like to talk. Not even on a rainy Saturday.

I was the only girl in the pool! It was me and four or five guys. They were all nice and I did lazy laps. The only thing missing was, I wished I had a bathing cap. I am in the market for a retro bathing cap (see picture).

 I kept looking out the tall windows thinking, this is amazing, this place is two minutes from my house, I feel as if I am in this hotel. Except for if I were in a hotel people would be showing up with all their kids and their kids would be doing cannonballs and making all this noise. So this was better.

Then --- ahhh, the Jacuzzi. It made me think of California. Leonard loved hot tubs. It made me think of when I was in California on a break from my job and I didn't have to go to work, I mean go to an office. So I sat in the gym Jacuzzi and just enjoyed myself. For one brief shining moment I did not have to be anywhere. It was an amazing feeling. One of the guys who was swimming joined me and we made small talk about how great this pool is, how great it was that although it was this rainy Saturday hardly anyone was here. 

You can be in a hot tub only so long so eventually I had to get out. "Enjoy the rest of your day," he told me.

Which, I did! I wrote a lot and I cooked a lot.

A perfect Saturday afternoon!

Monday, July 14, 2014

The grasshopper and the cat

Taste of Buffalo, which took over downtown last weekend, left our cat out of sorts. I do not know if I have mentioned we have a cat. It is a stray who adopted us! It is the Bean Alley Cat because it came in from Bean Alley. That is not our cat pictured above. But our cat has similar coloring. It is a beautiful sort of tiger cat.

My sister Katie was adopted also by a stray cat. Here is a file photo of Howard with her cat, Jinx. That is my brother Tony asleep in the background.

Anyway. Our Alley is recovering now but for a couple of days she was acting sort of zonked.

I think it was the noise and the madding crowd. The cat is used to peace and quiet and now there was this generator roaring round the clock just a couple of feet from her territory. Generators are the noisiest thing in the world and the people who run them never give that a thought.

I am bothered by loud noises as Leonard Pennario was too so I think the noise was the culprit. But there is also the chance that the cat went out and dined off the fat of the land, and ate something she should not have eaten. Howard thought that was the case. Whatever the reason it was breaking our hearts because this cat is the sweetest cat in the world and you hate to see it under the weather.

However. Now she is better and today she felt good enough to torture a grasshopper.

Nature is not pretty!

Every time this grasshopper hopped the cat would streak after it and nail it with its paw. Then she would swat it around a little and hold it captive and then let it get away. Sometimes the grasshopper got it into its little grasshopper brain to play dead, hoping the cat would leave it alone. But our cat would wait it out and as soon as the grasshopper moved the cat would fly over and grab it again.

The cat never missed! That was what Howard said. I actually did not see this. He told me about it.

Once the cat grabbed the grasshopper and thrust it into her water bowl. It let it drown but then pulled it out before it was dead. And the game began again.

How horrifying!!

Lucky that cat it is not 100 times our size.Our relationship with it could be quite different, you know?

But there was a positive side to the grasshopper incident.

Our cat was feeling good!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The bell of the ball

Today I went to church and something amazing happened to me. I was asked to help ring the bells.

I had never rung the bells! I had no idea how to do it. Sometimes I would come up in the morning and these guys would be ringing the bells. I never saw a woman ringing the bells, for whatever it is worth. I guess there is no law against it, because there I was today, ringing the bells. But it had never been done in my experience.

When I got up to the organ loft this one gentleman named Lou, who helps keep the choir together, he drafted me to help him.

I had to ring the little bell. That is St. Emmerich. Lou was ringing the bigger bell that was St. Stephen.

St. Emmerich started first. You had to tug the rope but not too hard, and then let the bell ring.

"Feel the bell," Lou instructed me. "Let gravity work. Feel the bell. Let the rope slide through your hands."

I was under-slept as usual on Sundays. Today I actually fell asleep during the sermon! That is how underslept I was. You could call me a dead ringer, hahaha! But I tried to do as he said.

And suddenly there it was, this bell, sounding over downtown. This one little bell. St. Emmerich. It rang by itself for a few minutes, me trying to get the rope motion right. It is an interesting experience, ringing these bells. You feel the weight of the bell, pulling the ropes. At the same time you feel it is not a huge bell. It is like learning to work a hula hoop. The motion is not as big as you are thinking it will be. As I was ringing it I noticed a printout instructing bell ringers. It said, "St. Emmerich is a small bell and does not require a lot of effort."

After I rang St. Emmerich for a few minutes St. Stephen chimed in. Now we have two bells going. Lou was operating St. Stephen. Finally the big bell began to ring. We do not know what the big bell's name is. I got emotional thinking about Pennario, about how this was his church when he was little. He heard these bells.

Our cat at Big Blue across Niagara Square was hearing these bells! So were the workers setting up for the second day of Taste of Buffalo. Everyone hearing these bells that have been heard for a century.

On the printout there is this protocol that tells you how to stop ringing the bells. My bell, St. Emmerich, stops first. Then the middle bell stops. Finally the big bell stops.

It was a thrill, ringing the bells of St. Anthony of Padua Church! I am afraid the rest of the week will not measure up.

However... you never know!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Take this SUV and stuff it

Today's top score, pictured at left, is worth celebrating.

It is "Pennario Plays Chopin For Young Lovers." A classic 1970s reissue!

My friend Lizzie went with me making the rounds of garage sales and one estate sale which is where this record was purchased. It is funny because while the estate sale lady was filling out the sales slip, Lizzie tried telling her that I was writing a book about Leonard Pennario, that he was my friend.

And the woman, who had been gabbing and gabbing with us, all of a sudden just shut up and frowned down at the sales slip! She seemed not to hear a word Lizzie was saying. She never acknowledged hearing us saying anything about Leonard Pennario.

Hahahaa! That is so typical. That always happens to me.

Once when I had a Mass said for Pennario there was a glitch and his name did not get announced. All the other times, you hear who the Mass is for. This time, no.

I am kneeling there in my pew breathing, "Say his name. Say his name!!" Because this was a big deal for me. But no.

Oh well.

In time this unacceptable state of affairs will improve.

Meanwhile that record album was in good company today. I got a lot of quality items including two custom designed hippie hula hoops, visible in the picture above. Someone had designed them by hand and they were priced $5 but me, I bargained like a Moroccan in the square and got them for $1 each.

Pennario would have hated that the hippie hula hoops with their peace signs and rainbow colors were there with his album. But it could not be helped. We had bought so much stuff that there was no more room even in the back of spacious Lizzie-mobile, which is a huge SUV. When Lizzie and I garage sale we can be stopped only when buying anything further becomes, for some reason, impossible. Once we garage-saled literally down to our last dime. Another time we ran out of time. Today, the problem was, every square inch of the car was filled up.

I also got a dress and an antique lamp and three cookbooks and two dresses and two chairs which, I have every hope they will prove as lucky as the last chair. I also got a whole bunch of linens some of which I will have to display on this Web log.

A fine couple of hours of shopping!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Gone in 60 seconds

It is a challenge to use up everything I bought at Clinton-Bailey but I have made some progress. The cherries and strawberries kind of disappear on their own so, no problem there. And one thing I did was bake an apple cake for church. Above is a photo Howard took of me working on it.

I know, apple cake sounds so autumnal! But these apples are so crisp and iridescent green. Is there any pleasure in life like perfect, crisp green apples?

Anyway I wanted to do something with them.

And Sunday morning I woke up too early so I used that time to bake this apple cake out of All Recipes.

Save it for yourself because it is a great recipe. The folks at St. Anthony's are nice to me, always complimenting me on stuff, and probably they want to encourage further baking. But the fact remained, this cake was gone in record time. Gone in 60 seconds as I joked to Howard.

And it was easy to make! It felt good because I am reorganizing my Pennario project and I was really in the weeds with it that day and now here was a little project I could complete.

Being up early in the kitchen making this cake made me remember that Thanksgiving when I was up early baking and listening to that guy talking about porn. Wow, that was in 2009. How time flies.

 The things I have cooked and baked between then and now!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Birthday music

It is Leonard Pennario's birthday today and so I think of him.

We have a tiny mix-up because the former priest at St. Anthony's found him on record as having been baptized July 9, 1924, and you would not think he would be baptized on the day he was born, you know? But his birthday is July 9. As the saying goes, it is what it is, and there it is.

July 9 is a beautiful birthday. It is the day after my friend Lizzie's birthday and two days after Gustav Mahler's birthday.

I had a dream last night that Leonard was coming to town to give a concert and he was going to play Schumann's "Kinderszenen," or "Scenes From Childhood." That was a bummer, waking up, you know? No Pennario. No Schumann.



Don't you hate when that happens?? Oh well.

No YouTube performances of Pennario playing "Kinderszenen" but I found at least part of his magnificent performance of Schumann's Fantasy. I think Pennario would like this played on his birthday.

Were we to celebrate his name day it would be Nov. 6.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Step away from the market

Yikes, I should not have gone to the Clinton-Bailey market!

Above is a picture of my kitchen counter. I spent almost $50!

To wit:

cantaloupe $2
kale or chard (I forget which, and it's some special variety) $3
garlic $1
green onions $1.50
10 lbs onions $6
20 lbs potatoes $5
cherries $5
strawberries $5
1/2 bushel apples $8
sugar snap peas $3
asparagus $1.50
corn $5

It would not be that bad were it not that I always feel this yearning to deal with all my purchases in a perfect, artistic way, like Pennario putting a concert program together.

I want everything to come together into elegant works of art that fit well with each other. I do not want to have to purchase anything extra or have anything left over. I just want it all to fit like some gigantic and beautiful mosaic.

Right now I have the mystery greens cookingwith some black-eyes peas and onions and smoked paprika. I had dreams of making asparagus and apple salad with Gorgonzola because Dorothy from church and I split a wheel of Gorgonzola from Tarantino Foods. 

These Italians change your life, you know?

However, doh!! The salad called for butter lettuce which, I have no lettuce. There just was not any at the market. Must I go to Wegmans? How can I? Saturday, at Wegmans. Imagine the cars in the parking lot.

I cannot. I cannot.

Once more, back to the drawing board.

But not to the farmers' market!