Monday, July 27, 2015

Maxi-dress Monday

Hereafter on Mondays I am going to wear only maxi-dresses. Because this being summer, any day I do not wear a maxi-dress is a wasted day.

I wore a short dress today and I felt bad. Walking with my friend Michelle along the waterfront I could not help coveting this one girl's maxi and I confided that in Michelle.,

She said, "Well, I think they look good on everyone I see wearing them. Including you," she added tactfully. Michelle is always tactful! But then she said, "I just think they would be hot on a day like today."

"O, they are not!" I said. "They are exceedingly cool." I explained that of course you have to make sure you wear cotton maxis on hot days. But that goes without saying. Matter of fact it was partly because of the heat that I was coveting that dress. This woman who was wearing it was slim, African-American, and this maxi she had was very light and gauzy, and she looked cool and tropical and free.

I want to do all I can to keep this maxi fad going. It is just too much fun! I was walking around the other day thinking, it is like 1820. Everywhere I looked I saw women in long dresses. It is like Kate Greenaway, one of whose masterful drawings is pictured up above.

Here is a drawing Miss Greenaway did of me at The Buffalo News' Jazz at the Albright-Knox festival the other day with my niece Barbara and nephew Georgie.

Notice my red shoes. I got them at the Shoe Outlet! They are new I am ashamed to say. But I still like them.

I think this summer I will go all the way and live a Victorian life. Along with wearing long dresses I am going to leave calling cards, practice my Chopin every day (inspired by Leonard Pennario) and say Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, not just plain Felix Mendelssohn. And say "O" and not "Oh," as when I was speaking to Michelle.

You must keep life interesting, you know?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Of cabbages and kings

Thank goodness, I could finally access my masterful photos from my phone and illustrate my market adventure. Cabbages, pictured above, are so under-appreciated!

Tonight I made Asian Chicken Salad from Rachael Ray. I get the Rachael Ray magazine because I got a deal on it. Listen to me, talking like Donald Trump. I negotiated like Trump and got a good deal on Rachael Ray and Eating Well and Better Homes and Gardens.

I am starting to like Rachael Ray even though one day at the gym I got into a conversation with the girl on the next elliptical machine about how we worried that Rachael Ray was putting on pounds. Perhaps she has lost some since then, who knows. Perhaps you have to take her recipes with a grain of salt. That was what we were discussing.

Meanwhile I do like the magazine. I love the puns in the headlines for one thing. I have inherited Leonard Pennario's love for puns and word cleverness. There is a story announcing that from now on, in many cases, they will be calling for just plain olive oil instead of Extra Virgin. The headline: "Oil Change."

And for a special page on beets: "Beet this!"

Things like this make you smile, you know? Anyway back to my cabbage. Here is my friend Jennifer at the Clinton-Bailey Market selling cabbage and other greenery.

I bought a giant Savoy cabbage from Jennifer and it is just so pretty I do not know how I will ever do it justice.

Jeoffry does not care what I do with the Savoy cabbage.

Oh, to sleep so sweetly.

With no tough decisions to make!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Step away from the market

What I went to the Clinton/Bailey Market (piously) to buy: Greens.

My only plants in the garden doing well are the Arugula and the Spinach Mustard. The beans were eaten by something. Chopped off. Chomped off, I suspect. Gone.

So I wanted greens to go with my spinach and arugula. But I should have known better going to the market. Because I bought:

Cherries ($5)

Peaches ($6)

Savoy cabbage ($3)

Green onions ($2). May I point out this is an enormous bunch of green onions. It is about two feet long!

Basil plants ($5)

Oh, dear. The list goes on.

Kale ($1.50)

Blueberries ($4)

Corn ($2)

Cucumbers ($1)

At this point this one girl called out to me, "You just can't stop, girlfriend!" It put me in such a good mood that I went and bought more peaches, what the heck.

There was no stopping me! And you know things are bad when it gets so that you know most of the farmers.

After the market I went to the gym to do the Fat Burner Elliptical while listening to Pennario playing Chopin Preludes. Here it is a sunny 80 degree day but the No. 1 item on my weekend bucket list is making black cherry ice cream.

Desperate times call for desperate measures!

Haha.. I took all these pictures of my market adventure but I have to go figure out how to get them out of my phone. When I try to do it all that comes up are the pictures from Howard's phone, zut alors. So I used one of his pictures up above. It is of me! Before my market adventure.

All right, enough Web logging.

Off to make that ice cream!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Garden of mystery

Zut alors, my garden is an embarrassment!

OK, the only person who sees it is the mailman. You really have to get up close to the house. But still. I am embarrassed in front of the mailman. Not only that but the other day I got a certified letter for Unclaimed Funds. How big of a screw-up am I. I have unclaimed funds and I have a loser garden. I cannot even grow Swiss Chard.

\My mailman is surely snickering at me.

About this Chard, I have to say this, this one book I have has chapters on all kinds of plants, and Troubleshooting. And under Chard, under Troubleshooting, the book says,  and I quote:

"Chard is a toughie and is generally trouble free."

Let me tell you this. I bought my Chard plants at the downtown farmers' market. Beautiful plants. And they still are beautiful, pretty much so anyway. But they have not changed one bit since I put them in the dirt. They have not grown one millimeter. They are just kind of the same. When I go out of the house to look at them they just kind of shrug at me.

I planted them a month ago!

And all my tomato plants have followed the same pattern. They have just sat there. They are like the worker in the parable Jesus tells who goes and buries his money. It just sits there. It does not grow.

OK, there is an exception. There are two tomato plants I planted together in a basket and they are growing great guns. They are not even in the sun. What in the world?

Who can figure this out?

The only thing I really have going for me -- growing for me -- are the greens, outside of the chard I mean. I have arugula coming up very nicely, and that mustard spinach I mentioned. The mesclun, it is trying. The green beans look good.

One thing I should mention, I am the only person in Western New York who cannot grow a zucchini. I tried once. It coughed up two zucchini, and I was thrilled. But then the plant just curled up and died.

This is all too depressing to post pictures. I know I put a lot of time into Pennario but still.


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sunday in the park with Houston

This was a wonderful Sunday for music. I went to Jazz at the Albright-Knox and heard Houston Person. A saxophonist I love!

That is the great man in the picture up above. As I wrote in my review in The Buffalo News, he kind of whispers into that saxophone.

Another highlight for music was that at church today we got to sing a great old chestnut nobody ever gets to sing. It is "Daily, Daily Sing to Mary."

This hymn is so old and out of fashion that I never sang it growing up and I do not know the words. I have to follow along. It was always looked on as being out of date. My dad told me that when he was a boy they used to abbreviate it laughingly as "Da, Da, Sing to Ma."

But it is a beautiful melody.

 It is hard to find a recording because if you look for it on YouTube most people use the old German hymn tune "Maria zu lieben," which is equally beautiful ....


... but is not the hymn I am looking for.

Another problem is it is hard to find any Catholic hymn recording that does not sound kitschy or weird. A lot of the time you start to listen and you hear some guitar chords and go ... uh uh. We have that big problem in the Catholic Church with bad music directors. I was one of them for a long time, so I am not throwing stones, but it is a problem, is all I am saying.

Ha, ha! I remember someone asking me once if I had heard, I don't know, "Table of Plenty," something like that.

I said: "Heard it? I've played it!"

Not only that, but even worse, I've played it on a piano!

And sung it into a microphone!

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, as Pennario used to say.

Back to my Sunday. I ended it at my friend Gary's house because it is his birthday, not that we need any excuse to go over to Gary's. The great cabaret artist Guy Boleri played the piano and because it was Gary's birthday we were able to use that as leverage to get Guy to do "Mad Dogs and Englishmen Go Out in the Noonday Sun." And Gary had garlic wine. But that is another story for another day.

How is Monday going to top all this?

I will have to figure out something!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Strawberry Island

Pursuant to going U-pick strawberry picking this week, an adventure I got to chronicle in The Buffalo News, I made strawberry jam.

Unbelievable, the feeling of accomplishment! And of having the right garage sale equipment. I have garage sale tongs for the jars and a garage sale funnel to use to pour the jam into the jars, and just recently I acquired a special mini-canner that is good for jars that are pint-sized and smaller. That is it sitting on the Bosch up above.

Strawberry jam!


All this while Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts were touring the Darwin Martin House right down the street. I take time out of my life and my kitchen only for Leonard Pennario so I did not join them.

End result, as we say here in Buffalo, I now have six half-pints of jam. The satisfaction (speaking of the Rolling Stones) is unbelievable!

I used this Martha Stewart recipe, just strawberries and sugar, beautiful and simple. It took a while to find just a basic recipe. A lot of online recipes had too low an amount of sugar. "I wanted to be healthy," people write. Fie! The science of canning is such that you need a certain amount -- a large amount -- of sugar to preserve the jam right and get the right texture.

And as long as you are not piously going to eat your strawberries plain, let us not be naive, jam is the least of the evils. It is one of the few things in my life that illustrate the principle of everything in moderation. You have a spoonful on your toast, big deal.

Not like that ice cream I made with the strawberries that did not go into the jam.


My downfall!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Our Emily, the golf champ

That is my niece Emily on the left. She is a golf champion! And recently she got this honor at Rutgers. 

You would not know it from me and my Zumba but athletic ability runs in our family. My grandfather on my mother's side was a professional baseball player! He played for the Buffalo Germans. And my brother George is a phys ed teacher. It is funny to walk through Delaware Park with George as I do on a weekly basis. The park, which my colleague Rod Watson knowledgeably called a playground, is full of kids playing soccer and softball and George is always tuned in on a certain level to what is going on. He knows the kids. He knows the refs. Whenever there is a ref's whistle George half turns because he has to see what is going on. He cannot help it!

Ergo Emily. By the way you have to love the name of the other girl. It is Tatum Jackson!

If my name were Tatum Jackson think how different my life would be. For one thing I would be a jazz pianist. Well, a better jazz pianist than I am now.

Imagine if Leonard Pennario had been baptized Tatum Jackson.

Anyway... My deep knowledge of golf can be gleaned from this erudite discussion of the sport. I had better quit while I am ahead.

Remember my prediction about Emily?

It is coming true!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

5 things about my grandfather

July 5 was my grandfather's birthday and I always think of him even though he died when I was 9. I will get sentimental again in a few days when it is Leonard Pennario's birthday. Pennario's birthday is July 9.

Anyway, about my grandfather. A few details:

1. He loved the Fourth of July. My dad, his son, would always tell us this. Boppa, as we called my grandfather, always knew where to get the best fireworks and he would amass a huge stash. My dad's mother would pull the kids aside and warn them. She would make them count their fingers and make them promise that after the fireworks they still would have all 10 of them.

2. His favorite hymn was "O Lord I Am Not Worthy."

The person who made that video got it wrong in that "O Lord I Am Not Worthy" is not Gregorian chant. But it is a very pretty hymn.

3. Where secular songs were concerned he liked the hits of the Gay '90s, when he was a boy. "After the Ball" fell into this category. And "The Bowery."

How about that? I have not heard that song since my grandfather was alive and here I am listening to it. That was the song, all right! We used to make him sing it.

4. Boppa had been a haberdasher. In May, in The Buffalo News, I wrote a story about my grandmother and the wonderful gift she left me. My grandmother died decades before he did. In her recipe scrapbook she had written she was "the wife of George Kunz, the famous haberdasher." I loved that.

5. I saved the best for last! When I was a little girl Boppa would babysit us and my dad would come up and kiss me goodnight as I lay sleeping and he would smell whiskey on my breath.

Yep, my grandfather gave me whiskey.

No wonder I loved him!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

In the weeds

There is a bright side to all this rain and that is that it is good for my garden.

That is my garden pictured above! Beautiful isn't it?

Remember my, ahem, half-assed garden from 2012? That did not work out that well because, I think, we did not get enough sun that year. The tomato plants coughed up no tomatoes as I remember. This is how infrequently I get my act together even for a half-assed garden. I remember the details.

This year I planted some tomatoes in Tidy Cat pots. But I also planted lettuce in window box containers I bought cheap at Valu Home Center, and Swiss chard in these Israeli pots, also scored cheap at Valu. I have inherited my mother's love for Valu. The pots are great because they stack neatly so I can store them easily in between loser garden attempts. And the idea behind the containers is that you can set them amidst the bishop's weed.

The other day I planted arugula and mesclun. I am investing in the bad weather! Should the sun prove scarce and my tomatoes disappoint me, there will be greens. By the way in the planter pictured above, among the bishop's weed, I believe that is Mustard Spinach coming up in the bottom planter. What is Mustard Spinach, you ask? I do not know either. But it looks as if we will find out.

Lettuce just wait a few more days.

Ha, ha! That is a Leonard Pennario pun and I used it yesterday on Facebook to great acclaim. Great art never grows old. Lettuce remember him as we harvest our crops.

Thank you, bad weather!