Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Spring in our step

Today, two signs say summer is on the way:

One, fireworks! Or, as I put on Facebook, at least I hoped they were fireworks. Finally I learned that they were, indeed. At first it sounded as if they were coming from the north, i.e., the back of the house. The cat was in the window watching and going crazy. But then I looked out the front of the house and there were the telltale flashes, across the park and over the trees.


Does that sound shout summer or what?

So that was one thing. Another was that my neighbor David was cutting our lawn.

We have a kind of urban arrangement with David that has gone on for several years now. No one ever discussed it. It just fell into place. We get the snow out of their driveway in the wintertime and they cut our grass in the summer. David was cutting the grass and I told him how heavenly the aroma was, of the cut grass. We gossiped and kvetched and rejoiced together in the changing of the seasons.

It is funny with the grass. One day it is not there and the next day it is up to your knees.

Dandelions, suddenly, everywhere.

Bishop's weed aggressive.

Blue skies, at least once in a while. The picture up at the top, I took that Saturday in the park.

It made me think about this song by Schubert. I have posted this before but what the heck.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A coupon coup

However hard you work on your various projects, it is tough to top the satisfaction you can get from a plain old trip to CVS, you know?

The other day I went to get allergy stuff I needed but detoured to the hair care aisle where I was able to land L'Oreal at, I don't know, 50 cents a bottle. I like L'Oreal so that was a nice score for me. L'Oreal's coupons are generous, plus the Magic Coupon Machine had spat out a coupon for $3 off if you spent $10 on L'Oreal.

Ain't too proud to clip coupons!

It is funny how when you bother to cut the coupons out of your Sunday paper, the more expensive brands suddenly become the cheapest.

Anyway ... satisfaction to start out the work week. And more money to spend for vintage press portraits of Leonard Pennario.

I am about those pictures the way I am about shampoo. You would think I have enough.

But I cannot pass up just a few more!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Pretty in pink

Remember a few days ago when I had to approach my Zumba teacher with the nerdy request to turn the music down? And she was so nice about it?

I went to a different gym once since then and I wish I could have asked the same question.

It is strange because I have begun going to Zumba more often than I had in recent months. Last week I, um, went five times, I think. It is a good time investment, you know? I feel better. I sleep better. I can get up earlier to do Pennario work.

But Zumba changed a little in the months when I was not going as often. The clothes are more aggressive, more street-like, and the tunes are louder. This gal at the Sheridan Drive L.A. Fitness was blasting this stuff. I mean, it hurt!

There was not much point in taking the matter up with her. I do not go to that gym much and I ended up leaving before the final stretching, that was how deafening it was. Meanwhile this is embarrassing but I had to Zumba way in the back where all kinds of people in the gym could see me. Ha, ha! In my retro, un-hip, hot pink, un-threatening, un-street-wise Zumba pants. See that picture up above? That is not me but that was my exact outfit. It looked exactly as dopey on me the way as it looks on her. With everyone else in the class trying to dress like, I don't know, the Goodyear Boys. Ha, ha!

Speaking of which, not to change the subject, but that reminds me...

Isn't it about time Zumba clothes began showing up at garage sales?

This fad has been around for a while now.

This summer, I will be on the alert for used Zumba clothes.

It has to happen!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Ominous evening at the gym

Last night I had Parish Council meeting and so I stayed downtown after work. As long as I was downtown I worked in a class at the downtown L.A. Fitness. I keep wanting to say Buffalo Athletic Club because this is the stentorian building with the marble steps, where Leonard Pennario used to go. But now it is L.A. Fitness.

The class was called, I believed, Body Works. Something different, I thought.

That was for sure!

It was a lot like the old Body Sculpt classes you used to have. Only it seemed it was more work. You had to hop up and down risers, doing squats and lunges (words I hate) and lifting weights this way and that. There was a long sequence of exercises and we went through it three times, upping the number of reps (another word I hate) every time.

Luckily the teacher has a sense of humor, and got us through it. Plus, a camaraderie quickly built up in class because it was so much work. By the end of class we were all commiserating and talking.

And this one guy, his T-shirt soaked in sweat, said to me, "Wait till Thursday."

What's Thursday? I said. All I could think of was Thursday is when I am getting my piano tuned. But that is another story for another day.

He said, "That's when it hits you."

And a nearby woman chimed in and agreed. "You'll feel OK tomorrow," she told me. "But then Thursday it will be different."

Downstairs in the locker room I was combing my hair and trying to recover myself enough so I looked decent for parish council. And this other gal in the class came up and started talking about ... guess what?


She said that last Thursday she had a cold and stayed home from work. But the big reason she took that sick day was this class! "I was on the couch all day Thursday with a heating pad," she confessed.

Oh, no!!

Today, just as the one girl predicted, I am feeling OK. But now I am worried.

What will tomorrow be like?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The triumph of the nerd

Today was the nerdiest day. Here is why.

After Zumba class I approached the teacher. And I told her I loved her class but asked if she could turn the music down!

"Can you turn the music down?" That is the nerdiest thing I ever said.

On the other hand, let me think for a moment. There is one other thing that comes close. Well, there are probably a lot of things that come close, most of them Leonard Pennario-related. But the one that comes to mind is once my friend Michelle was picking me up for a road trip. There is blond Michelle and brunette Michelle and both of them are beautiful. This is blond Michelle.

Blond Michelle picked me up and here is what I said.

"Oh, I am looking forward to this long drive. Look what I've got. I've got the new Andras Schiff CD."

I am afraid that tops the Zumba story now that I think about it. You should have seen Michelle's face. She wordlessly turned up the Amy Winehouse. Amy Winehouse was new then. This was before she died. She was singing, "They wanted me to go to rehab and I said no, no, no!"


I am the one who should go to rehab!! So they can turn me into a normal human being.

I was honestly excited about the new Andras Schiff ...

 ... CD! That was before I met Leonard Pennario. Pennario would have laughed me off the block about that one. We had a running joke about Andras Schiff because Schiff was so nerdy.

But to get back to my story, mission accomplished. The Zumba teacher could not have been nicer and she said she would turn down the music! Which, I have to say, I am used to loud music and I usually wear some kind of earplugs. But this was just too loud.

I am so glad she was so nice. Not only that but she caught up with me later in the locker room and we had a conversation. Not about Andras Schiff but about genteel things all the same.

Zumba teachers rock.

They are the greatest!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Alleluia, alleluia, let the holy cupcakes rise

I am in my second childhood and am making cupcakes for Easter.

These were from Martha Stewart February 2009 and  the issue is all blotted with butter and cocoa. When I was frosting them I decided to soar like an eagle and crack out my new cake decorating set from Vidler's. I have always wanted to pipe swirls onto cupcakes!

And it was fun. I think I get the gist of it, how to operate this frosting press. It is kind of like a German Spritz press which we used when I was little, that is to say, in my first childhood.

The only trouble was, the press uses an enormous amount of frosting!

I had made a butter cream out of this cupcake cookbook I have, and I had already doubled the recipe because I sensed that the frosting would not go the distance as written. I piled some into the cake decorator piper thing and right away I could tell that it still would not go the distance.

Sure enough, this frosting that I had doubled swirl-frosted maybe five cupcakes! Then it hit bottom.

I could not see redoubling the butter cream frosting recipe. Already I was feeling guilty over the amount of time this was taking. I am supposed to be writing about a certain concert pianist and not blowing three hours making cupcakes, you know? So I ended up using the knife the way I have before. But my vast collection of sprinkles and jimmies from Albrecht Discount make them look pretty cool anyway.

The process was messy and involved.

But fun!

My niece and nephew are in California and do not know what they are missing. I got to lick all the beaters myself and then the spatula.

By the way, for anyone wondering about the title of the post, it is a riff on my favorite Easter hymn -- well, one of them anyway, "Alleluia, Alleluia, Let the Holy Anthem Rise." After Easter Mass I extracted a promise from our organist that we could sing it sometime over the next couple of weeks. She said in two weeks. For the recessional, the only time at Mass when we sing in English.

So, two weeks from today, 9 a.m., St. Anthony of Padua Church. Downtown Buffalo, behind City Hall. "Alleluia, Alleluia, Let the Holy Anthem Rise." Followed by coffee hour.

I will bake cupcakes!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The hippie pizza

We continue the hippie food jag with the Moosewood Cookbook's Zucchini Crusted Pizza. I baked it in an iron skillet as in the picture up above. Actually that is my picture. I hate to admit it because I am not a good food photographer but I could not find a good picture online, zut alors.

Cookbook author Mollie Katzen has the recipe on her Web site.

My recipe is a little different from that one. I was cooking out of my vintage edition which is missing some of its pages and is tattered the rest of the way. I have scrawled notes all over it. On the Zucchini Crusted Pizza page it says I made that pizza on Oct. 12, 2005. I wrote that it was South Beach Diet-friendly and that I made it for my friends Toni and Jane while we watched "Night Song."

I remembered that night! We were at Toni's house. But I did not remember "Night Song."

It looks good!

For "Night Song" I added caramelized onions, sliced tomatoes, mushrooms and peppers and mozzarella. Mollie Katzen did not specify the amount of salt and I wrote down 3/4 teaspoon. Yes, I am a chronicler! I used to laugh about that when I was in California with Pennario. I do like to write things down. It is because I am German.

My sweet old Moosewood Cookbook, I had it in my college apartment on Parkside, the one with the ghost. The apartment I revisited that time.

My roommates and I cooked out of it constantly. We ate mostly vegetarian because we were kind of countercultural and also vegetarian cookbooks called for stuff we could buy at the convenience store. Lots of eggs and cheese. We didn't have cars and so we liked that. We used to make the quiche out of the Moosewood Cookbook. That is funny because now quiche seems like so much work, and who makes it? But then we made it a lot. Crust from scratch, everything. At least once a week, dinner was that quiche. Looking at the recipe now sort of touches my heart. The page is all blotted and torn.

The Zucchini Pizza does not really taste like a pizza, at least the crust does not. But it is yummy all the same. We put anchovies on it. And mozzarella from Albrecht Discount.

Too much fun to be having in Lent.

We are almost through it!