Wednesday, April 30, 2014

It came in through the bathroom window

Gross sign of spring!!

HUGE centipede!

I was brushing my teeth and saw it out of the corner of my eye, that was how big it was. Bugs love bathrooms. It scuttled into a corner and sat there where it figured it would not be noticed.

I was able to get a paper towel and kill it! Yay me and Howard was even still asleep so not there to sing Wagner while I did it.

There are not-great things about spring and it would behoove us to keep that in mind as long as spring, despite vestiges of Dyngus Day and the Candle-Lite candles...

...  is kind of slow in coming, as illustrated by this picture I took on the waterfront.

And this one.

There are centipedes and other bugs! And already all the car stereos are turned up louder. Someone should do a scientific study and find out how much the decibels increase in proportion to the temperature.

As long as spring is slow I will roll with it. I will concentrate on Pennario and enjoy what silence is left.

I will not let it bug me!

Monday, April 28, 2014

The ExtraBuck stops here

CVS has my undying allegiance because today they let me use my ExtraBucks that had expired 10 days ago.

That is how busy I was with Leonard Pennario. I let my ExtraBucks expire!

The neighborhood CVS is always so nice to me for which I am grateful. This is the CVS known as the Spectrum Building because as our friend Ryan has pointed out, the building is where a bar once was that was called the Spectrum. On CVS documents they call it the Spectrum Building.

While I was in the Spectrum Building today I took the picture above of the spring line of Candle-Lite Candles. They are just so beautiful! Only I cannot see paying full price for them. $15.79 is just too much. We will have to wait to see what can be arranged.

With which, today the CVS staffers and I discussed their store's remodeling. Everything in the store is going to be rearranged. I would not have remembered any of that had not Howard asked.

He said, "What's going on in there? Are they remodeling?"

And I said, "Why, yes." Later I thought to ask him how he knew. He said, "They rolled in a couple of metal storage containers and I was wondering what they were for and since then I noticed they were unloading tons of stuff so I figured something was going on."

No secrets in Buffalo!

Today was a two-fer for expired coupons. My friend Michelle and I ate in Cafe 59 which used to be Madonna's and they let me use my Buffalo Dining Deck card for Madonna's even though the name is different now. The same people own both places but still it was nice of them. Michelle negotiated that and her success inspired me to ask CVS if I could use my expired ExtraBucks.

The moral of the story: Hang on to your coupons and ExtraBucks!

Even when they expire!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A night of red and white

Today when I went to work I wore my beads from Dyngus Day. It was a lot of fun, filled with folks like the dandy whose picture is up above.

That guy was great! He told me his coat was $7 at Amvets and the trim, which he did by hand, cost him another couple of bucks. 

My friend Lynn and I judged the parade and went out afterwards to the Adam Mickiewicz Library and then to St. Stan's. Today I woke up realizing I had lost my voice owing to yelling over loud polka bands and booing our elected officials at the parade.

One gentleman named Tom said hello to me at the Mickiewicz Library and said he read my Web log. That was so nice!

He said, "I know all about Leonard whatever his name is."

"Leonard Pennario," I prompted him helpfully.

Here is the St. Stan's social hall getting late in the evening.

There is an excellent photo gallery on The Buffalo News' website.

My friend Larry texted me just now asking if I had gotten nailed by the water guns. The answer is no! I hid prudently behind my fellow judge, Tod. Tod is a big guy, well over six feet, and I stayed dry. This one girl in front of me got soaked. They got her right in the seat of the pants. Ha, ha! (As I channel my inner 6-year-old.)

Anyway a lot of fun even if today I talked like Marlene Dietrich. Here is my friend Lynn hoisting a Zywiec.

We drink a toast to next year!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Forward into Dyngus Day

One of the many things that make Easter a great day is that you are finally out of the tunnel. Lent is over! And Lent always gets you one way or another. There is psychological stress and then that strange silence over Good Friday and even, to a lesser degree, Holy Saturday.

On Easter it is as if you finally exhale.

Our morning Mass was not very crowded, for a variety of inside-baseball reasons that will have to wait for another day. Usually we get a pretty good crowd! But on Easter I could not have cared less how many people were there. I was just joyful! 

Not only that but it was a beautiful day, not like the last few Easters, which were cold and rainy. And so before Mass I performed the ceremonial cutting of the tags on the magnificent Calvin Klein dress I scored at Goodwill, tags still attached, for $6.

I am always reluctant to cut these tags off but if not now, when?

Dominic in our Tridentine Mass choir is from Nigeria and he celebrated by wearing festive traditional Nigerian dress.

A few good men (in the Tridentine Mass choir). This candid shot gives you kind of a view of beautiful St. Anthony of Padua Church where Leonard Pennario was baptized.

Easter dinner with the family was great fun plus I cleaned up my house and the paper ran a story I got to write about the Broadway Market

Now it is time to get ready for a new day ...Dyngus Day! That's right: We have not yet begun to eat! 

The big question is, sort of like yesterday: What to wear?  No Calvin Klein dress today! Whatever I choose it had better be washable.

I cannot imagine it will be as wild as that other Dyngus Day.

But you never know!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Holy Saturday at the movies

 Yesterday being Good Friday I found myself looking on YouTube for "The Greatest Story Ever Told," and I watched the Crucifixion scene, up above.

I was looking to hear John Wayne, as the centurion at the foot of the cross, saying "Surely this man was the Son of God." It is in there!

But I ended up kind of marveling at the movie. It's funny, for years all I have heard is how kitschy this movie supposedly is. And it is not! They did a beautiful job.

Admittedly it is kind of a big, slow target, with John Wayne and all these other celebrities including Angela Lansbury and Charlton Heston (as John the Baptist) and ... oh, the list goes on and on. You could not make this up. Jose Ferrer is Herod Antipas and Claude Rains is King Herod. Pat Boone is the angel at the tomb. Sal Mineo is Uriah, I am not sure who Uriah is, so I will have to watch the rest of the movie and refresh my memory. Roddy McDowall is St. Matthew. Telly Savalas is Pontius Pilate.

In the clip up above. Simon of Cyrene, who helps Jesus carry the cross, is Sidney Poitier. He gives such a moving performance. And of course that is Max von Sydow as Jesus.

Oh my goodness. Reading the cast list I see the great vaudevillian Ed Wynn is in the movie too. He plays someone referred to as Old Aram. Ed Wynn played Uncle Albert in "Mary Poppins."

What I was going to mention is the music. I had not realized how wonderful this music is. That haunting theme you hear, in the clip, over and over. The music is by the great film composer Alfred Newman. I shared this clip on Facebook and I was afraid of opening things up to jokes about Alfred E. Neumann, so I did not write that. But I will write it here. It's strange, in a roundabout way Alfred E. Neumann was named after Alfred Newman. Google it and you will see I am right.

The real Alfred Newman teamed up with Leonard Pennario for the classic album "Gershwin By Starlight." He wrote the most wonderful movie music including to the 1939 "Wuthering Heights." Pennario loved this movie.

It was over 25 years between this movie and "The Greatest Story Ever Told." Mr. Newman was on top of his game for a very long time.

Pennario's friend Miklos Rozsa wrote the music for "King of Kings."

I have never seen this. Rip Torn is Judas!

Anyway. You could waste all day on this and I do believe I might! Well, first I have to clean up my house for the family Easter dinner. But after that we just might be talking a glass of wine and "The Greatest Story Ever Told."

A perfect Holy Saturday!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The incredible shrinking everything

On Sunday I went to a bridal shower for my friend Jane who is getting married in May. It was a perfect shower with lots of conversation about food and shopping and other delights.

As we were all admiring the present of a baking pan, one girl began reciting what she said was a terrific recipe for brownies. There are few things I can concentrate on besides Leonard Pennario but baking is one of them, and I was interested. The woman got to the part where she said it needed a package of baking chocolate.

Then her face clouded.

"You used to use a package of it," she said. "Now the package is too small. They downsized it."

Then everyone began complaining about things that had been downsized.

I was in heaven! Usually this is a private gripe of mine. I am normally a solitary shopper so I can complain only to myself about 16 ounces becoming 15 ounces becoming 14 ounces. And the incredibly shrinking dish soap.(See the picture of Dawn-sizing, up above.) Even the stuff I use to clean my retainer is being downsized, I noticed last time I was at Dollar Tree.

It is annoying and boring and it never ends.

Coffee weights are all over the map. It is like taxes: You can no longer do the math yourself. The pound of pasta is a thing of the past. A can of tuna no longer goes very far. One thing that still annoys me, years after the fact, is yogurt. Eight ounces used to be breakfast. Six ounces is a snack. And four ounces is ...

... well, let's just say, Yo Mama, Yoplait!

The list is the one thing that is not being downsized. It gets longer and longer, son of a sea cook and fie. The downsizing can be more annoying than the price rising because it suggests that the manufacturer thinks you are stupid or that you will not notice.


Anyway, at the shower we had a fine time griping about all of this. I cannot remember when I so enjoyed an afternoon. I love to kvetch!

Even on Holy Thursday when I should be writing about pious things.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Little Italy

Last night, after I managed to start my car, I enjoyed a classic parish council meeting.

The monsignor was not there -- too bad, because I wanted to give him this chocolate Last Supper I bought at the Broadway Market. His loss! With him gone the president of the council had to take over. "We should have a prayer," she said. "How about we all say the 'Hail Mary'?"

So we do. I was sitting there between the organist, Josephine, and Phil Tarantino, of Tarantino Foods. We all bow our heads and say our prayer. "Now and at the hour of our death, Amen," it finished up.

Then the president added to the Blessed Mother: "And don't let us fight."

It is fun being on the parish council of St. Anthony's. There are all these cool Italian people with accents. One councilman, Peter, had brought along all the flags of all the regions of Italy -- 21 of them, including the Vatican flag.

They will be carried in the Madonna procession in June. A long and time-consuming argument centered on the order of the flags in the procession.

There is a map of Sicily on the wall. One of these days I will find Leonard Pennario's family's town.

I mostly sit there and do not say too much. I am the new kid on the block and I do not want to be out of line. I am always struck by how these are such good people. Everyone wants to carry the church forward, to do what needs to be done.

The Latin Mass representatives are me and my friend the brilliant professor Dan Blum. It is funny how the Latin Mass zealots are named Goldman and Blum. As Howard said, "Things will get done."

One thing I like is the affection that has grown between the Italian Mass and the Latin Mass people. We have been kind of thrown together and this community has emerged. I am very affectionate about St. Anthony's and not just because of Pennario, or because of St. Anthony finding all my lost stuff.

It is just a cool church, is all.

But not so cool that my hands did not thaw! When it was time to leave I was relieved to find it was easier to turn my ignition key than it had been when I had been leaving my house.

That was a relief!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

April in Buffalo

I hear that tonight we are going to break the cold record set here in Buffalo when Leonard Pennario was 4. He would have been here for that cold snap! I forgot how cold they said it was back then but tonight is going to be colder.

This evening after work and before Parish Council meeting I went for a walk with my friend Michelle. Son of an ice-chomping sea cook, it was cold!

We walked twice around the park. Once in a while when you walked in a certain direction it was not too cold but then boy, was it cold. I started out jauntily, thinking I had dressed warmly enough...

... but alas. After 10 minutes I  was shivering. This was worse than February!. By the time I got home I was so frozen that I had to stop in the house and try to warm up.

But I only had ten minutes to get downtown to St. Anthony's for parish council. So I got in the car.

And I could not turn the ignition key!

That was how cold my hands were!

I have honestly never experienced that. I tried and tried. My hand just would not move. Finally I took my other hand and used it to help the first to turn the key. It is very strange to turn on the ignition with two hands but that was what finally did it.


Got to love it!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The ultimate bread machine

I could not help it, I bought a new bread machine.

But this one is the ultimate!

Literally! It is a Breadman Ultimate. I have a Breadman already, on semi-permanent loan from my brother George while I experiment with it. I like and admire George's Breadman. It is vertical and does not take up much room on the counter.

But this new one is the ultimate.

I found it at the North Tonawanda Goodwill where I went with my friend Tracy after we went to a Zumba Master Class after I put in three hours on Pennario and cross-indexing his endless discography. We went from class to Goodwill where it was immediately announced that the store was closing in 15 minutes. Then they started sounding bells the way they do at the Philharmonic to warn you that the time was short.

So I headed to the checkout with this brand-new Calvin Klein dress with the tags still on it. No time to try it on. If it did not fit me it would fit someone. Then my friend Tracy laughed at me because by the time I got to the checkout somehow this huge bread machine was there too.

I work fast, when I have to!

Howard inspected it eagerly the way he inspected the Welbilt. The Welbilt was so last week, you know? This new Ultimate, we do not think it was ever used. The manual was still in there and nothing seemed touched. Imagine the scene. "We've never used this. Get it out of here."

"But my mother --"

"I want it gone. Take it to Goodwill."

Anyway. End result, as we say here in Buffalo, the dress fit. And the bread machine will fit, too.

It makes a horizontal loaf. That is something new. Most of these machines make vertical loaves. It will be fun to see what this machine can do.

Tomorrow I will fire it up!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Fall forward, spring back

Today it was warm enough so I did not have to wear tights. I honestly did not know what to do.

I have been wearing tights every day for as long as I can remember!

Because it has been cold for as long as I can remember. When it gets warm I can't think what I used to wear back the last time it was warm.

What jacket did I wear? What shoes?

Was it ever warm?

I am almost happy it is getting colder again because I can dress the way I am used to dressing. This morning even though it was like spring outside and the crocuses were blooming I went to the gym anyway. I have become like an indoor cat. I also sit and work defiantly on the book no matter what the weather. It could be 80 degrees, honest, and I would still come home from work and write about Pennario.

I am like the bison in the zoo..

... which does not care what kind of a day it is.

So what if spring will be a little late this year?

I will still keep it waiting!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Yellow Bird

It is fun being up early and hearing all the birds. The sky lightens and the birds sing.

Most recently I heard the chirping of a new bird I did not recall noticing before. It was a kind of sweet warbling. Hahahaa... That makes me think of this editor I worked with once, Rick. Rick Stanley. Whenever we were writing that someone sang we would write that he or she "warbled." Then we would sit there and laugh.

Anyway. This bird was warbling. And I am wondering: What bird is this?

It sounded so loud!

So for the first time I thought: Maybe I can see the bird! It was almost a joke. I can never see the bird. I left Leonard Pennario for a moment and I turned to the window.

And there it was! Sitting on a branch.

This fat little yellow bird!

It was a pale yellow but at the same time bright. I could not believe I saw it. I did not expect to see the bird and also I did not expect it to be yellow.

I did some research and I do believe it was a goldfinch. Apparently goldfinch are common but I never remember being aware of them before. But the song sounded close to what I heard.

It was easier than identifying St. Luke!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Mystery saint identified

The mystery saint has made his identity known. He as not a martyr after all!

He was indeed holding a quill, such as would indicate an evangelist, and not a palm frond, which would suggest a martyr.

Not only that but near his feet, pointed out my friend Melissa Grace, was an artist's palette. And the shield shows, and only Melissa Grace would know this, a winged ox.

End result, as we say here in Buffalo, our saint is St. Luke.

St. Luke was a physician and a painter. I had not known about the painter part. Apparently in Italy or somewhere is a painting of the Madonna and Child painted by St. Luke.

Imagine that.

"That is a nice picture over your couch. Who painted it?"

"St. Luke."

St. Luke was Syrian, as I understand it. He was the only non-Jewish evangelist and he reached out to the Gentiles. His skills as a physician supposedly helped keep St. Paul in one piece even though St. Paul was stoned and otherwise left for dead on several occasions. One thing that is funny about this is remember the statue's head had been broken off? I have to reattach it. I will have to play the physician to St. Luke, the physician. I will have to mend him as he mended other people. That idea makes me kind of nervous.

This cool St. Luke site has a bunch of interesting factoids such as that St. Luke is the patron saint to -- in alphabetical order -- artists, bachelors, bookbinders, brewers, butchers, doctors, glass makers, glassworkers, gold workers, goldsmiths, lacemakers, lace workers, notaries, painters, physicians, sculptors, stained glass workers and surgeons.

What about Luke Russert?

I am sure he knows all about St. Luke, being named after him.

Up at the top is a beautiful painting of St. Luke by James Tissot. We have mentioned Tissot before.

Here is a famous painting by Tissot at our Albright-Knox Art Gallery. It is a painting of me and Pennario going to the opera when I was in California. Tissot asked if he could paint us as we went in to see "Tannhauser" and after some hesitation we said yes.

There must be towns and countries that St. Luke is patron to, as well. We will find them at a later date. Perhaps on the Feast of St. Luke which is Oct. 18.

For now, I am just glad to have this saint identified. I was able to say, "St. Luke, welcome to my home."

The Internet is the answer to everything!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The mystery martyr

My brother is passing on to me all this Catholic paraphernalia that was in my mom's house. It is known that my house is hospitable to saints and so they are appearing on my doorstep in droves.

One recent arrival is the sweet gentleman pictured above.

Who is he? He holds a quill which makes me think he is one of the Evangelists -- Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. Although now that I think of it a lot of saints probably hold quills.

He holds a shield which, here is a closeup.

These are all clues. Saints usually have clues as to who they are. If they are martyrs they will often have a palm frond and/or the instrument of their execution. St. Catherine will have a wheel and St. Stephen will have a pile of stones. Here is a fascinating list I have been wasting time with, er, studying.

On the bottom of my mystery statue it says it was made in England. His head has come off, George pointed that out. Right now it is just kind of sitting there. I have to glue it into place.

Hmmm. I have done a Google image search of statues of the four evangelists and have found none of them carrying a shield. And now I read that a quill looks a lot like a palm frond which would indicate martyrdom. Now that I look at it I think it is a palm frond.

But zut alors, I am Googling around for "saint with palm and shield" and have found none.

However I did find Palm and Shields Liquor, in Fresno, Calif.

Pictures of liquor stores also have clues as to what they are. In this case the clues add up to, it is time to get back to work on my Pennario project, mystery saint or no mystery saint.

Can anyone identify my new saint? Someone out there in Blog-O-Land must know.

I sure do not!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Welbilt at full tilt

I love Saturdays! I have two bread machines going at once plus the Crock Pot! It is like having a kitchen full of servants as in the 1889 painting above by Anders Zorn.

Recently I acquired a new Welbilt. I picked it up at Goodwill where I had stopped to drop some things off, go figure. I could not help it. The Lord taketh away and the Lord giveth.

The new Welbilt is this deluxe Model 8200 that makes two-pound loaves! I sprang $11 for it, that is how intriguing it looked. The day I bought it, I did not think to mention it to Howard until after dinner. I don't know how that happened, that at dinner we had been discussing something other than the Welbilt. But anyway I told him about it later.

"Why didn't you tell me before?" he said.

Immediately everything else is shoved aside so he could explore the Welbilt and its capabilities and removable parts.

To welcome the Welbilt I had sprung another $2.50 for a vintage edition of Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads. I was sort of second-guessing myself because the book didn't have any pictures and seemed kind of dense. But Howard applauded my purchase.

"There might be something interesting in it," he said. And lo, reading the Amazon description, it does appear that it is much valued by bakers.

Long story short, the Welbilt is in action for the second time, this time making Egg Bread.

Next to it is a Breadman which is actually on loan from my brother George. It is making Jewish rye.

The only idle bread machine is the Magic Chef. Perhaps I should load it up with something! Meanwhile the kitchen is rocking. Well, the counter is rocking. These machines are no joke!

Now it is back to Pennario. I have to make good use of my Saturday.

Activity all over the house!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Prince meets the Pope

The big news today is that Prince Philip met the Pope. We are fans of Prince Philip Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Gluckberg here at the Leonard Pennario desk because we like worldly, devil-may-care older gentlemen who are not afraid to speak their minds.

Catch the story here and while you are at it here is the Web log post that is the clearinghouse for all things Prince Philip. Read of the island where Prince Philip is a god! And is top 10 gaffes (or one-liners, as we think of them).

It is funny that two years ago we were worried about Prince Philip being ill. Back when I wrote that post I was fibbing to my mother about it because it sounded serious.

But now, in the video with the Queen, there he is, looking hale and hearty. Prince Philip lives!

Here he is in the picture looking as if he is just waiting for an opportunity to cause trouble.

He and the Queen gave the Pope a bottle of whiskey. A very, very cool gift.

Yay, Prince Philip!

So glad you are well!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The public Jacuzzi

Remember the business about LA Fitness and its pool? I have gone in it several times now.

And I have gone into the Jacuzzi too.

La la la la la la la.

Where was I?

Oh, right, the pool. I go in recreationally after doing the elliptical or whatever. I do not want to get my exercise in the pool. I only know recreational swimming strokes. My favorite is the sidestroke which I do lazily while gazing out at the blue sky outside. You really feel as if you are on vacation.

There are usually a couple of other people swimming, usually more seriously than I am. The Jacuzzi sees more traffic although this morning when I was in it -- it was kind of early, too -- there was nobody in it for quite a while. I sat there with my eyes closed and remembered when I was in California with Pennario, going into the hot tub. I would sit there with all these pink flowers and palm trees, feeling as if time had stopped. Time really did stop for a while there, when I was in California.

I was wondering if the last time I had been in a hot tub had been with Leonard. Then I remembered that no, I had been in a hot tub with my sister Margie the last time she was in town, a few months ago. She stayed in this new hotel out in Williamsville and I played Chopin on their grand piano and then went with my sister and sat in the Jacuzzi. That was a wonderful evening.

Today this Japanese woman eventually joined me in the Jacuzzi. But she didn't seem to speak much English which was fine because who the heck feels like talking.

"This is so relaxing," I said to her.

"Oh." She smiled. "Yes."

Then we both closed our eyes and sat there in quiet companionship.

After swimming you feel relaxed all the way up to going to bed at night. There is something too about that lingering aroma of chlorine.

A beautiful start to the day.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The pianist's cookbook

Yesterday at Price Rite, remember the cod I bought? Tonight I made this Eating Well cod recipe.

I ate well!

Not least because everything went into the oven at the same time. After I finish my book on Leonard Pennario I am going to write a book called, ahem, The Pianist's Cookbook. This recipe would be included. That is because everything goes into the oven and then you walk away.

The cod gets covered in tomato sauce and white beans and goes in the oven. Then I did roasted potatoes. You cut up potatoes into big chunks and toss them in olive oil and thyme and then they go into the oven.

Lastly there is asparagus. You toss a bunch of asparagus in olive oil and kosher salt and then that goes into the oven.

Then the cook goes off to the piano and plays Liszt.

When your husband comes home ...

... you say, "Oh yes, honey, dinner is ready."

And you eat!

My great work in progress, "The Pianist's Cookbook," will be full of recipes that you can just stick into the oven or on the stovetop, as the case may be, and just go off and forget about it. A lot of Crock Pot recipes will fall into this category. But not all! There are some that are labor intensive. Fie on them.

It will be fun researching my cookbook.

And I will get a lot of practicing done!