Monday, March 31, 2014

The Swai Burger

Remember the Swai fish?

Now they are burgers!

I went to Price Rite and the Swai burgers called to me from the frozen fish case. But I did not answer the cry of the Swai seeing that I had Pennario playing in my head. Just as well! If you look carefully at the bag you will see it is only 97 percent Swai.

Swai I did not buy Swai. My friends are teasing me anyway because they know my love for it. I cannot make any fish dish without someone, usually my friend Ryan, saying, "Mary, is that Swai?" It gets embarrassing so sometimes I make tilapia instead. Even though tilapia is boring next to Swai, I am sorry. That Swai is some yummy fish.

Price Rite was fun today and not too crowded. I do love a cheap supermarket. And the secret to a good supermarket shopping trip is going when you are hungry! Everyone tells you not to. But as my mother said, it's so much more fun when you are hungry.

Among the things I bought: chickpeas, black beans, artichoke hearts, onions, brown rice, chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, tomato paste, whole wheat flour for Howard's bread baking habit and, hippie that I am, tofu.

Odd, they had cod, and I bought that too.

Now I am going to forbid myself food shopping for a few days. I have bought enough and I must needs work on my book.

The Swai's the limit!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Same Batt time, same Batt channel

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly to Our Lady Help Of Christians Chapel in Cheektowaga. That is where I went today. Because of the snow this morning I could not get out of my driveway. And Our Lady Help of Christians is my emergency Latin mass.

It is at 1:30 p.m. which pretty much shoots your whole day but any port in a storm, you know?

Speaking of ports in a storm, remember how that chapel was built because of a near-shipwreck? Joseph and Barbara Batt who were born when Mozart was alive and are buried behind the church almost died in a shipwreck and he promised Our Lady that if they made it out alive, he would build this chapel. Anyway, today at Mass I noticed something I had never noticed before. Up over the altar there was a picture of a ship in a storm!

I took a picture of it up above although I could only get as close as the Communion rail. A friend of mine after Mass told me that it had just recently been restored and before it was kind of dark, which explained why I had never noticed it before. It was a thrill to see, beneath Mary and Jesus, a storm at sea, and this ship.

There is also a picture of a ship in a storm in one of the stained-glass windows and I thought I took a picture of it, but now I cannot seem to find it, son of a sea cook. Today we are using colorful seafaring language in honor of Herr and Frau Batt who built Our Lady Help of Christians after surviving their shipwreck.

Here is a picture of the Batts when they were old. They were born when Mozart was alive and they died within months of each other.

They lived something like 50 years after they almost died at sea.

I was kind of dismayed at this picture because I see this chapel in such a romantic light. From time to time I go out back and visit the old folks' graves and I have always imagined Joseph Batt looking like, I don't know, Leonard Pennario. An elegant older gentleman. But Howard said that in those days when photography was young, people had to sit frozen for minutes on end without moving. So everyone had weird pictures taken.

On this one Web log this woman posts, namelessly, all these pictures of mid-19th century couples. They all look kind of stilted. You can see where that one artist got the idea for "American Gothic." Poignantly the Batts are just one among a dozen or more anonymous couples pictured on this woman's Web log. There is no mention of how significant they are. A lot of people over the years attributed miracles to Our Lady Help of Christians, or Maria Hilf, as the Batts named it. And without the Batts that chapel would not be there.

Howard said that Joseph Batt might be some kind of a saint for having scraped up the money somehow to build the chapel to fulfill his promise after being saved from the shipwreck.

I do not disagree!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Dove above

Yesterday after work I put in a few hours on the book. And it was magical because although it was cold outside the air was full of the call of the mourning dove.

All this cooing! It was just Leonard Pennario and the mourning doves.

As soon as I wrote that word just now I heard it again.

Whoo! Whoo! Whoo!

The mourning dove is a bird of controversy, I learned the other day after writing something on Facebook about hearing its lovely call. A friend wrote in that she associated it with death, that every time she heard the mourning dove call, somebody died. I got in touch with her trying to set her straight, that we lose people but it has nothing to do with mourning doves.

I would hate if someone could not appreciate this beautiful bird call. God knows we have enough crud to listen to in life, you know?

Plus in the last few years I have been more into my faith and that makes me impatient with superstitions.

Oh, man. The most wonderful thing just happened while I was ruminating on all of this. I glanced out the window and this bird was swooping into the yard next door. It was a gray bird with a white tail.

It was a mourning dove!!

I had never seen a mourning dove in my life. Well, If I did, I did not recognize it. I always recognized the call but not the bird. But just five minutes before, writing this Web log, I had studied a picture of a mourning dove...

.. and I saw the white tail and I was able to recognize the bird.

Hello, mourning dove!

While I sat staring at it another mourning dove glided in and joined the first. You always hear that, that doves always come in pairs. ...

.. and sure enough. Hence the phrase "lovey-dovey."

The mourning doves sat next door for a while and I watched them, enchanted. Then one flew away and after a couple of minutes the other one flew after it and joined it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Thinking inside the box

Remember my bento lunch box? I got another lunch box.

It is just that, as Mia Farrow said in "Hannah and Her Sisters," my needs are enormous. Every day I go to work it is like packing for an infant. I need all this food in various amounts. I am like an artist though and sometimes I need a different palette to work with.

Anyway I went back to Marshall's for a second helping and I found this Fit and Fresh number.

Wow, Amazon is charging $11.99 for this set! I did not pay $11.99, that is for sure. Heck for $11.99, you can go out to lunch, you know? I paid $6. All the little boxes fit together well and you know how much I love playing these little games that get you through the day -- this is a game, putting together an artistic lunch. Not the lunch up above in the picture! It is pretty but I would never pack the same thing in both those little boxes.

Today I had cole slaw in one little box and cottage cheese in the other. And in the big box was a salad with romaine and hard-boiled egg and green beans.

The other day the little boxes held grapes in one and barley risotto in the other.

It is an art! And I am an artist. I am the Leonard Pennario of lunch. Speaking of which, I should design a Pennario tribute lunch. There would be creme brulee in one small container. And German sweet-and-sour cabbage soup in the other small container. And in the big container would have to be some impressive foodie thing like Asian chicken skewers.

Yum! I am getting hungry just siting here.

I care about food and it shows in my work!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sprout and about

Remember the Sprout Garden? Sure you do.

It was only three and a half years ago!

Spring being a little late this year I got out the Sprout Garden and filled it up the other day. I did a tray of lentils and two trays of mung beans. All these sprout hippies always mention mung beans and I had never seen them but I found them a couple of weeks ago at the Broadway Market. This Middle Eastern seller was selling them. They were only about a dollar, good thing because you know what? They did not sprout.

Not even with my loving tending and letting them listen to Leonard Pennario. Music is supposed to be good for plants. But although the lentils did well, the mung beans just sat there. And while the lentils smelled like perfume, the mung beans just smelled as if they were getting old.

So I dumped them and now I have just lentil sprouts. It is fun to have something growing in your kitchen that is supposed to be growing in your kitchen, you know? Later I learned that split peas do not sprout, that anything split does not sprout, and I believe these mung beans were split. They looked like yellow split peas.

I will get wiser on this subject.

Right now I am still a beginner. Like the Little Green Sprout in the picture up above. Hahaaa. It is funny how retro it is, that picture. I remember the Jolly Green Giant and the Little Green Sprout from when I was a kid.

It was also funny reading back on buying my Sprout Garden. I had forgotten how my mother was disapproving because she thought I should be knocking a quarter off the price. I can't believe all the things I bought with my mom at garage sales. I had forgotten the Sprout Garden was one of them.

See, this is why people keep journals and Weblogs.

To keep the memories green!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Adventure with the Buffalo Mass Mob

Yesterday I went to the Buffalo Mass Mob at St. John Kanty. As I wrote in the Buzz Blog I have passed St. John Kanty a thousand times, maybe on the way to the Broadway Market or the Clinton-Bailey Market. But I have never gone in.

It is a beautiful church. It is not as ornate as St. Ann's or St. Gerard's but they mentioned a big fire that St. John Kanty had in the 1950s. My guess is the church was more ornate before that. In any case the decoration it does have is interesting. Things have kind of an Eastern look. It is a Polish church and because Poland borders Russia sometimes you see this Byzantine look, which I love.

I took the masterful photo above of the statue of Mary with that iconic-looking picture underneath. Ha, ha! I wonder who the guy in the picture is who is immortalized on my Web log!

There was this cool Last Supper on the organ loft. If you click on the picture it is bigger.

You know me, I am a Latin Mass-goer, and I actually needed the missalette to read the Credo because I only know it in Latin. I especially do not know the new versions of the prayers, I mean since a couple of years ago when they changed a word or two here and there. 

Another thing, the church just exploded into bedlam before the priest and his procession had made their way out. Whereas I am used to everyone kneeling there like this.

So this was an exotic adventure for me, all the way. It is fun, the Buffalo Mass Mob. And it is exciting how the idea is catching on in other cities. Plus my church, and may I add as usual that it is the church where Leonard Pennario was baptized, has been on the list. That is St. Anthony of Padua.

We could be next!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Howard's new challenge

Yesterday instead of going to the St. Patrick's Day parade like a normal human being I went and heard the tenor David MacAdam sing SchubertThat is a picture of the occasion up above! I took it with my phone. By the way I invite everyone to click on that link. Let's make my nerdy Schubert review the most-read story in The Buffalo News!

Anyway I really enjoyed the concert and I came home and told Howard he would have to sing a Schubert song.

I am married to a tenor, dammit, and it is high time he sang Schubert!

Enough with this Bobby Troup and Tom Jones and whatnot!

Luckily Howard did not put up a fight. And so I printed out the music to "An die Musik" which, I informed him, means "To Music." It is such a moving song. You give thanks to the art of music and, the way I see it, to all the musicians who have gone before you. To all the musicians you love. Bobby Troup is included.

There are a million versions of "An Die Musik" on YouTube because it is so famous. It is usually one of the first songs and singer sings and one of the last. When singers give their farewell concerts at the end of their careers it is traditional they sing "An Die Musik."

I love the old-fashioned, stentorian videos.

The great bass-baritone Hans Hotter. He died in his 90s just a couple of years ago. Herr Hotter was kind of handsome back in the day! I love how he sings the end of the song. Very moving. "Du holde Kunst, ich danke dir" means "you sacred art, I thank you."


Last night we watched this clip of a baby-faced Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, with the great Gerald Moore on piano. Gerald Moore always played with the best singers. On the, ahem, Music Critic weblog today you may see Moore accompanying the Irish tenor John McCormack.

"Um, Mary, this is all very nice, but can we hear someone living?" The answer is no.

We like these elegant old-fashioned videos here at the Leonard Pennario desk!

Finally here is Elizabeth Schwarzkopf looking beautiful. Howard said, "Women can sing this song?" The answer is yes. Best of all in this video you can hear Gerald Moore introducing and explaining the song.

So beautiful. Such a great song.

Have at it, Howard!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Tales of a talker

This morning Howard made the mistake of asking me about Lent and the philosophy and theology behind it.

Which I loved!

Did I marry the right guy or what? I love to talk about the Catholic Church. It is up there with Leonard Pennario with things I just love to talk about and when I get a chance to talk about it I cannot believe my luck. I even got to talk this morning about Ember Days and Rogation Days. You do not get that chance too often!

Hahaha... About Pennario, a few weeks ago I had a really early assignment for work with our photographer Sharon. It was so early that neither one of us had gotten any sleep. And it involved me doing all this driving. And when we were heading back to Sharon's car, I started talking about Leonard Pennario. And I Could. Not. Stop.

No brakes. And the emergency brake did not work either!

I talked and talked about Leonard Pennario and I missed the exit I was supposed to take and had to detour and still -- and still! -- I could not stop talking about Pennario. It is hilarious remembering. After that I had to go home and take a nap. I am not a napper but I think that without it I would have died, not from lack of sleep but from nonstop talking about America's greatest pianist.

Yesterday when I went to Ash Wednesday Mass at St. Michael's something similar happened to the priest saying the Mass. St. Michael's is a Jesuit church and in his sermon the priest began talking about St. Francis Xavier, one of the Jesuits' founders. And he could not stop!

He was about St. Francis Xavier as I am about Pennario. He talked and talked and talked about Francis X. I did not mind. Mozart was a fan of St. Francis Xavier and named one of his sons after him. Anyone Mozart liked, I like. After his long dissertation the priest led us in prayers to St. Francis Xavier that went on for another 10 minutes. Then there were prayers to Angels and Archangels and Principalities. There was no stopping this train!

There is nothing like finding yourself in a groove, you know?

It is great fun!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The ashes of Ash Wednesdays past

It is Ash Wednesday and that means I have to leave the house, alas. I have been immersed in things Pennario, wrapping up this immense discography and checking in with various kind souls around the world who are assisting me. Ha, ha! At one point I spoke out loud to Leonard. I said, "If I had known you had made this many records I never would have signed on for this."

There was no answer. I mimicked him to him.

"It'll be fun. We can talk about movie stars. I knew all these movie stars."


"You actually told me that," I reminded him.


Back to work.

In such a fashion the hours fly.You blink and look up a Carnegie Hall review or something, you pour a cup of Bengal Spice, and all of a sudden it is getting dark.

And all of a sudden it is Lent. You are reminded that you are dust and unto dust you shall return. As if I need reminding, you know?

I took five minutes to ponder Ash Wednesdays past.

I had forgotten all about that one when I woke up after having nightmares about Larry Solomon and his vacuum cleaner, after he had vacuumed up my Mardi Gras beads. That was the Ash Wednesday when my computer freaked out and began its own penance, blasting Gregorian Chant for no reason.

And there was the Ash Wednesday two years ago all about wholly holy Wholey.

My personal favorite Ash Wednesday in recent years was a year ago when I walked in on that girl's confession. Ha, ha! I was laughing re-reading that. I never did see anyone emerge from that confessional.

It is hard to believe it has been over a year since then.

Perhaps she is still kneeling there!