Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Working squid

All day today I was working on a story about St. Joseph's Day. I will link to it when it runs in the paper!

I have strong feelings for St. Joseph. Maybe it goes back to when I bought that statue at that estate sale in Amherst. That statue is still here in my home. St. Joseph has been making new friends as you can see from this picture.

When I got home today I just had to have Italian food. I went and got out one of my old coffee table Italian cookbooks. I loved these cookbooks. There was a series of them and I would get them at Barnes & Noble. You could find them in the discount section, probably because I was the only person in the world who would actually cook out of them. 

The "Italy" cookbook in this series was by Lorenza di Medici, a cookbook author I loved because I had another book she wrote, another coffee table book I must point out, on Italian cooking. Again I could not imagine anyone else cooking out of this book. I would have it propped up on the counter behind plastic so I wouldn't spill anything on it. Howard laughed at me once when he came home and there I was with this insane beautiful book, trying to cook out of it.

Anyway tonight I made di Medici's recipe for Seppie in Zimino. It is Squid With Vegetables! "In Zimino" means "with vegetables." You learn something new every day!

Being German I had to sub in a little green cabbage, I admit, because I did not have the spinach that was called for. Otherwise I think I am in the ballpark.

I would like to get back to cooking more out of these cookbooks. I was 10 pounds skinnier back when I did. This kind of food is good for you.

One other thing happened today that I must note. At one point I was in the home of these two Italian sisters, and with a friend from church who is also Italian, Sicilian. And I began talking about Leonard Pennario.

And I Could. Not. Stop.

It is amazing this still happens to me. I have been on this project for so long. I am kind of embarrassed about it because the world at large does not know that things like this sometimes take so long to complete, especially when you have this all-consuming full time job. I do not mention him every day on the Web log on account of that. But it still happens. There is something beautiful in that, you know?

And there is something beautiful about this Seppie in Zimino.


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Switchin' in the kitchen

Today is Demo Week.

I am demo-ing my kitchen!

My kitchen is awful. It was OK when I bought this house. It had a kind of '80s look, but you know me, I have nothing against the '80s. Leonard Pennario achieved some neat things in the '80s. However.

The kitchen has just fallen apart!

The cabinets have just broken. The fronts fell off several of the drawers. There is this funny cabinet over the stove, over the hood. One of those cabinet doors actually split in half. You can see some of these details in the picture up above.

Home kitchens are not made for people who actually cook!

I do. I cook breakfast and dinner and I pack lunches for Howard and me. For years I packed lunch only for myself but then Howard got wise to it and now I have to do for him, too. And I have always liked having people over. When the house was in better shape and before everybody got married, people would come over from work. No big deal, no planning, we would just hang out and drink wine and make dinner.

Now I still cook for other people. My brother comes over for breakfast on Saturdays. I cook for the St. Anthony's coffee hour.  I took this picture one week before running over to Mass.

Long Web log post short, the kitchen is just .... well, it has just collapsed.

No matter. By next week it will all be gone. Those weak old cabinets, gone. I am going to put in restaurant stuff. Stainless steel tables, big ol' stainless steel restaurant sink.

That is my plan.

Wish me luck!!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

I must continue this Web log because the last post I had written was: "The Christmas Tree Quandary." And here it is, 60 degrees today!

Well, it was raining. We cannot get things right this early in the year. We cannot have warmth without rain. Still, it feels good.

And may I point out, that quandary did not last for long. Almost right after I wrote that post I went and took the tree down. I was not quite sure why. It was a very snowy day. But I must have felt something because that very evening, it began warming up, and the next day the snow began to melt. And I did a check for the daffodils and you know what? They were up!

I took a picture and that is it, at the top of this post. OK, so they will be only an inch high for a couple of months. Still.

Now I have no choice but to consider it spring. Lenz, to use the old word that gave us Lent. I got through Ash Wednesday even though it was the same day as St. Valentine's Day, an unfortunate coincidence I got to explore in the paper. We celebrated the good saint's day the Thursday after Valentine's Day. Howard took the picture at left. Look, that is a Cinnamon Pecan Swirl candle. Remember the snowy night I went out shopping for those? I will never forget that. It is a funny thing to remember, but I remember it.  "It crossed my mind that maybe I was dead." I remember that moment!

Meanwhile there was Ash Wednesday to deal with.

I got the mother lode of ashes on my forehead. I had a dentist appointment and I actually apologized for them.

"I'm sorry I am covered with these ashes," I said.

I mean, I had to say something! It was the elephant in the room. Here I was lying under these lights with all these ashes.

Clearly this is going to be one of these Lents. I know, I know, it is a holy time of year, a time of renewal, and still, I cannot handle Ash Wednesday, I just cannot. I lost five pounds out of stress and then gained them back out of stress.

The good news: Forward we go now into spring.

Next quandary: Gardening!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Christmas tree quandary

I have a terrible confession: My Christmas tree -- pictured at left when it was still bright white -- is still up.

I keep promising myself I will take it down but then I do not.
Part of the problem is, it is still snowy outside. When it goes up into the 40s or something, then you can think spring, and that is the time to take down the tree. When you get into Lent, Lent means spring, and that is the time to take down the tree.

Not now!

Last week I went past some of the better houses, on Nottingham and streets like that, and some of them still had trees lit up outside. So I am not alone.

Still I feel a little funny plugging in the tree. I know it is time to take it down. We have passed Septuagesima Sunday and Sexagesima -- hee hee -- Sunday. Candlemas is past.

What is wrong with me?

It is not even a real tree. It does not have to go out on the curb or die a terrible death like the tree in Hans Christian Andersen's "The Fir Tree."

It simply goes into its box and is put away, in preparation for coming out in again in what, a few months?

Why can't I take down my tree?

Hahaha... I am laughing over all my old Christmas tree stories.

There was one year I went without. Unbelievable but true.

There was another year when it was the Fourth Sunday of Advent and I did not have a tree and rushed out to get one and wound up in Christmas tree stand emergency mode.

There was the year I put the tree up on Christmas Eve. I could not get to it before then!

Oh, look! There was one year I did not take the tree down till Ash Wednesday. And Ash Wednesday that year was March 9!!

That is what I will do this year. I will take the tree down on Ash Wednesday.

I must be strong!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Charles Burchfield and the Cheerios plant

I love industry. I do not know why this is.

I love observing and taking pictures of factories and such!

Once when I worked at the Niagara Gazette in Niagara Falls, I went to an art exhibit that was called "Smoke." The person took pictures of smokestacks and the smoke coming out of them, smokestacks that belonged to big plants. They were huge photos, beautifully framed.

Looking back now I am sure he or she aimed to make some kind of statement. I do seem to remember there was something, about pollution. But the message was lost on me. I am standing there staring, thinking: These pictures are beautiful! I want to do that!

So I packed up my Instamatic and the next day on the way to work I detoured down Buffalo Avenue so I could look at all the factories and take pictures.

I wish I knew where those pictures are now! But I do not. So I am sharing a picture I took a week or so ago, of a landscape including the Cheerios plant in downtown Buffalo, near where I work.

I used the above picture as my Facebook cover photo. Everyone was really nice with their kind words. One friend said it looked, ahem, like the work of Charles Burchfield. After that I was walking around with this big ego, I can tell you that.

And today I got a great surprise.

My friend Barry is turning my photo into a painting!

I believe Barry works in oils. He already posted a picture on Facebook of my photo roughed out.

I was thrilled. I asked him if he could post pictures of the painting's progress. It would be like "Sunday in the Park With George," where you see a painting coming to life!

Being into watercolors I would like to try my hand at my photo. Maybe some day. Right now I am too busy with Leonard Pennario, plus I think I should try easier stuff first, like wildflowers or a cup of coffee or something. The other day I painted my oatmeal. That is more my speed.

I will let Barry do the heavy lifting.

And I promise to post his progress!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

A walk in the park

I went for a walk yesterday in Delaware Park and I could not stop taking pictures.

The colors were just so beautiful!

I took the picture up above, I think, on my way home. But before that I took other pictures.

The one is slightly different from the one up above. I think it was taken a few minutes earlier.

Then there is this.

Such exquisite pictures! I am sorry, I am not being a big ego. Taking pictures like that is stupid easy these days. You just aim your phone in the general direction and hit the shutter, or whatever it is they call it now.

It is almost a pain because you feel obliged to take pictures wherever you go. Pennario told me that back in the day when he made concert tours all over the world he did not bother. He said, "Because the pictures in my head were so much better than any pictures I would have taken." Which, I totally understand that.

But now that we have these darned phones, you cannot help it.

You have to take pictures!

So you are skiing, or whatever, and all of a sudden you have to stop and fish in your pocket for your phone and take a picture. Well, I have to fish in my pocket. Other people probably have their phones more accessible. Whatever, it is a pain.

Until you see the pictures. I have to say this, I am looking at that sunset picture and I like it.

I am a camera!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Latin lettering challenge

My New Year's Eve resolutions include getting better with lettering. And while I was at church on Sunday, thinking about Latin, I had the idea to put together a Latin lettering challenge.

Everyone else initiates these challenges. Why not me?

Well, one reason why not is I am not techie enough to print out the challenge neatly on a computer the way everyone else does. My printer is kaput. However where there is a will there is a way and so I printed it myself. That is it up above.

You have to start somewhere! It was Dec. 31 and I did not want to wait.

I squared my shoulders and put it up on Instagram. It was liked by 10 people! That is a relief. It is not a lot of likes but enough so that it has something, you know? So people do not look at my little grassroots challenge and say, "Look at that loser, nobody likes what she put up there."

Then I set to work actually doing my challenge.

That was easier said than done!

But I am thinking, if you are the host of a challenge, you have to put something up there so something is there, even if no one else is doing it. Which, if no one else is joining me on my Latin challenge, I can totally understand that.

The first phrase was purposely short but a challenge nonetheless. It being the Seventh Day of Christmas I had gone with "In Excelsis Deo." I am trying to work on my flourishing and tying letters together and arranging them artfully. On the other hand I did not have all day to fuss. I had many other things that had to be done.

Signs of a struggle ....

But the beauty of these challenges is that you have to get something done. It does not have to be perfect. You do your best.

This is good therapy for me because I tend to hesitate too much on certain things. I ask Howard what he thinks. I ask all my friends what they think. I waffle.

At work at The Buffalo News I fortunately have deadlines. Because then things get done whether you are ready or not. And about this Latin challenge, you know what, maybe nobody else will do it. But I am happy that I had the idea and then just went forward with it, without consulting anyone, and just got it done and up there, within an hour.

Veni, vidi, vici!

Now for Day Two. It is "Dona nobis pacem."

Wish me luck!

Monday, January 1, 2018

The Low Mass

Today we had a Low Mass, on account of we could not get our music act together. The organist was sick and there were not enough choir members.

Well... Perhaps there were enough choir members. I showed up at the last minute and by that time they had canceled the choir and the Low Mass was just beginning. The door to the choir loft was locked. Darn, because I had left my missal there the day before, duh.

This has to be the day there is no choir. Plus, of course someone has to be all correct and lock the organ loft. Now I cannot get my missal.

This was one of the many times when I feel like one of the Foolish Bridesmaids. Any one of these gals, that is me. Totally.

So.... the lowdown on the Low Mass is that what happens is pretty much complete silence, broken only by the squeaking of kneelers and an occasional word spoken aloud by the priest. From time to time, in sync and in silence, everyone kneels, or everyone stands, or everyone makes the Sign of the Cross. This goes on for, oh, 45 minutes. Anyone looking in would think we were crazy.

As I was participating in the Low Mass, missal-less, I begin -- well, I know this is a stretch seeing we are talking about the Catholic Church, but I began feeling guilty.

What if I had arrived earlier? Maybe we would have had enough singers in the choir.

What if I hadn't slid in at the last minute the way I had the day before?

As it was, I had gotten only about four hours' sleep. But what if I had left the party I was at a little bit earlier? It would not have been easy because it was at my friend Gary's, and Guy Boleri was playing, and it was all we could do to leave at 1:30 a.m. Try leaving when Guy is launching into a set of Cole Porter. What's a girl to do? But whatever, I should have done it. I should have left at a decent God-fearing hour and then I would not have gotten here earlier and we would have been able to sing.

The choir members who were here earlier must all hate me, I thought, looking around the church uneasily.

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, as Pennario said once when we were arguing about something.

Finally I thought: Mary. Get a grip. So we had a Low Mass.

It is not the end of the world!

No one is dead or bankrupted because you slid into church at the last minute.

End result, as we say here in Buffalo, when after Mass I was approached by my choir buddy Dominic, I was ready.

Dominic said, "Mary! If you had only gotten here earlier --"

"Oh, Dominic," I said. "It's New Year's Day at 9 a.m. for heaven's sake. What do they expect?"

A woman's got to know her limitations!

Hahahaha ... I just happened to look back and came upon this other New Year's Day when I was late. Two years ago. And Dominic figured in this one, too.

I never grow up!