Monday, July 9, 2018

But first, donuts

Howard is making donuts. That is a picture of them up above, in progress.

We sold donuts the other day at our downtown booth. The spotlighted donut is, as seen in the picture, the "1901." It is a tribute to the Pan-American Exposition, held in Buffalo in 1901, where donuts such as ours, such as Howard's I mean, would have been in the offing.

The donuts are hearty. They could be a meal. I cannot allow them in the house, is all I can say. They are crunchy on the outside and dense and delicious on the inside.

A tantalizing closeup:

Here I am selling them at the booth. This is a celebrity shot with the poet Joe Dinki.

Because parking was impossible Howard and I took the train. He took this picture of me.

I am having fun living the bohemian life, I will tell you that.

Howard and I were selling donuts and Freezies on Saturday and in a rare lull, these two girls came up to me, two teenagers, and they said, "You are smiling so happily we thought you were smiling for a picture."

I said: "I am happy here in the donut booth."

We do not sell donuts every day so that leaves me time for my serious work. The folks at St. Anthony's where Leonard Pennario was baptized are pressuring me to get the book about him done and I have that on track for this year.

But first, donuts. 

He would approve.

Friday, June 22, 2018


"For there is nothing so sweet as his peace when at rest."

That is a line I love from "My Cat Jeoffry."

Above is My Cat Jeoffry asleep on an armchair in the living room. I have these two beautiful red armchairs I was not appreciating on his account. One was upstairs well protected from Jeoffry by piles of stuff. Another, not matching the first but similar, was downstairs, but it was covered by an old quilt so Jeoffry would not claw it.

Finally a few weeks ago I said, I will bring these chairs out into the light.

Probably they will have a short lifespan but meanwhile I may as well enjoy them!

I have reason to be concerned because very early on after we got Jeoffry, we had to bring an armchair out to the curb. He had absolutely gutted it. Such was the damage that the garbage men stopped in their duties and just laughed openly. I observed them.

They understood: A cat lives here!

So far, though, the armchairs do not seem to have aroused the obsession in Jeoffry that the earlier chair did. He claws them now and then but not with any real commitment.

He does like to sleep on the one chair.

"For there is nothing so sweet as his peace when at rest."

Let us hope he remains at rest!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Mausoleum of mystery

Today is the longest day of the year so I have time to write.

Make hay while the sun shines!

I recently accepted a buyout from The Buffalo News and no longer work there. But it is still tough to find extra minutes in the day. I am still trying to get a lot done. My project on Leonard Pennario, I have written and revised and written and revised for ten years, yikes, and now it is time to pull it together and get something out. And there is lots of other stuff on the side.

There is cooking. You gotta eat! There is house-related work. My house has long been falling down around my ears. There is ex (my phys ed teacher brother's slang for exercise).

That is where Forest Lawn comes in. When I do not go to the gym I like to walk and sketch in Forest Lawn.

You may recall the Monument of Mystery.

Today we come to the Mausoleum of Mystery!

Well, there are two that I have found. This is one. That is it pictured above.

It is being swallowed up by the earth!

The dead person is supposed to be buried. The building itself is not supposed to be buried. Well, that is how things normally go. This mausoleum is going its own way.

Whose is it? That is the mystery.

I see no name.

I have walked around and around it.

The deer ....

... want to know too what is the deal.

The mysteries in Forest Lawn are many. From my Catholic perspective the entire place is weird. In Catholic cemeteries you do not find sculptures of the deceased. You do not have the same emphasis on earthly achievements. You do not find monuments to things like Aspiration.

On the other hand you do not find all the interesting things to draw that you find at Forest Lawn. That is what brings me there. That and the quiet. It is the only place in the city you can actually hear the birds. You can think thoughts without having to hear passers-by swearing and yelling things like "Oh my God your butt is hanging out!"

Sorry, it has been too long since I alluded to that! That was one of the first things I wrote about.

I have missed this Weblog. I am going to write in it daily now. Starting today, the first day of summer. A fine time to write about a mausoleum of mystery.

I will continue to ruminate on that.

I will wonder as I wander!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Monument of mystery

The other day in Forest Lawn, getting in my 10,000 steps, I found this monument that looked like a big, corrugated bell.

What was it??

Nobody's name was on it.

I walked around the other side to make sure.

Then I studied it from yet another side.

It was like this blank bell!

What in the world??

Forest Lawn is weird like that. You do find strange things. It is not like the Catholic cemeteries I knew growing up, such as the United German and French, and Mount Calvary. You find very strange things at Forest Lawn.

It does make it great to draw, I will tell you that. And you find many very moving things, like a grave I found of a gentleman identified as A Soldier Of The Revolution. A Soldier of the Revolution!! I deeply admire anyone who fought in the Revolutionary War. I said a prayer for that soldier, I will tell you that right now.

But you do run into things like this bell.

Or whatever it is.

Any ideas?

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Another day, another drawing

Yesterday I went back to the Lawn! That is how I think of Forest Lawn Cemetery because I am having such a great time drawing things here.

I have had a couple of days off from work so I am able to do this in addition to other work that needs to be done. Yesterday I drew an angel from a memorial near Mirror Lake. It would be hard to top that angel because that statue is just so graceful, so lovely.

However. Today there I am, driving very slowly down the path, Mozart on the car stereo, the sun shining, possibilities limitless, scanning the statues. And as if across a crowded room, I saw him.

Philip Bachert!

I knew instinctively, he was The One.

Of course I did not know his name. I found that out only when I approached the statue. It read: "Philip Bachert, 1840-1915. Wiedrich's Battery. 1st N.Y.L. Art. 1861-1865. G.A.R."

Before I began to draw I ate some lunch I had brought and I studied the statue. Then I got up and addressed Mr. Bachert. I thanked him for his service and then said that I hoped he would not mind if I drew him.

Is that statue amazing or what?

When I went home I looked everything up. Wiedrich's Battery was a Civil War outfit run by Michael Wiedrich, who came from Alsace-Lorraine where my mother's family came from, or Elsass as I have seen it spelled in German Catholic cemeteries. The whole battery was made up of German immigrants from Buffalo.

My friend at work Scott Scanlon even did a story about Wiedrich's Battery and what monsters they were on the battlefield of Gettysburg and Bull Run.

When I was leaving, I happened to see another Civil War monument. This other soldier fought in Mozart's Regiment.

Who knew there was a Mozart's Regiment in the Civil War?

The bad news: You have to go fight in the Civil War.

The good news: You get to be in Mozart's Regiment!

I will have to find out what is with that.

That will have to be a story for another day!

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Afternoon in the cemetery

Remember my adventure Urban Sketching? Today I went back to Forest Lawn Cemetery and I did some more drawing.

It is very relaxing and sets a nice tone for the week ahead and all the work I am buried in, you know?

Speaking of burying, I have gotten more used to Forest Lawn. Once when I had to go for work a couple of years ago, it upset me being in there and I could not wait to get out.

But now I kind of like it. I like it because there are things to draw and it is quiet. Yesterday I went for a walk in Delaware Park and it was so loud and I kept hearing the "F" word.

At the cemetery there is hardly anyone. Not only that but there are all these rules about you have to behave with respect to let people rest in peace.

I like that!

You can hear the birds and the splashing of the water!

I drew the Schoellkopf memorial and then I drew a bunch of geese. Then I drew more geese. I am getting good at drawing geese! They are fun. I love the big fat shape of them.

Then I was going to leave because hours had passed and I was hungry. But on the way out I saw the Volunteer Firemen's Memorial and so I stopped and gave it the old college try. That is it at the top of the post!

You get absorbed when you are working and at one point I was so excited because I saw the firemen's coat coming into focus that I realized I was actually drawing with my mouth wide open. It is such a beautiful statue and such a pleasure to draw.

When I was through I got up and took a closer look at the statue.

They put it up in 1901. On the side of the monument, beneath the fireman, there were inscriptions and I began to read them. It turned out they listed firemen who died in some 19th century fires. One was the American Hotel, in 1865. They listed a number of men who died in that fire. There were a few other fires too but that was the big one.

All the firemen they listed were in their 20s. I backed up and took a look at the graves surrounding the monument I had just sketched. I started doing the math. 

Almost all of them were in their 20s or 30s. A few were in their 40s and 50s.

I was surrounded by the graves of firemen who had died fighting fires!

Son of a sea cook, I started to cry!!

This is why you do not go to cemeteries. 

Let us say a prayer for those brave firemen and then move on. 

We can always cheer ourselves up by looking at my pictures of geese.

Honk if you love geese! Haha, could not help that.

Next time I was thinking I could try drawing the Red Jacket statue, except he is right near the entrance and everyone would be looking at me. I saw some angels that looked interesting.

And when the chips are down there are always the geese. Comic relief in the cemetery.

Sometimes you need it!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Puff the Magic Pastry, Part 2

It is the middle of April but still snowing to beat the band. And raining. And flooding!

Yesterday for the first time I can remember, and we are talking years, the Latin Mass was called off at St. Anthony's. A monsignor was coming in from the country and he could not make it.

So my brother George and I and my niece and nephew Barbara and Georgie and I all piled into the Georgemobile and went to the 11 a.m. Mass at St. Louis. It is not Latin but they have a wonderful choir. And the church is so gorgeous. That is it up above. I took that picture after Mass.

Two of our friends from St. Anthony's joined us at St. Louis. It was funny in a way, our Mass getting canceled. Facebook was alive and jumping with everyone from the congregation trying to figure out what to do. And all the while it never stopped snowing or sleeting or whatever it was doing, this glop falling down from the sky.

When I opened the door at midnight last night it was still falling!

But anyway. The important thing is, when the going gets tough, the tough get baking. Back at my house after church, Barbara and I made cream puffs.

I have always wanted to try making these and since I had just made puff pastry for the first time, it seemed like a great idea. Barbara agreed although for a little while it was a kind of tough decision between cream puffs and the lemon meringue cupcakes in Martha Stewart's cupcake book.

We used the recipe out of my old Betty Crocker cookbook. When the puffs came out of the oven we both gasped with delight.

They were beautiful!

Then we did what Betty Crocker said and cut off the tops, put in this cream filling...

... and closed them back up again. We made the cream filling too. It is kind of a Bavarian cream and it is a whole separate story.

The finished product. All we needed was a white bakery box!

What an adventure. Is there anything more fun than baking?

They even looked good after we started to eat them.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Puff, the magic pastry

Today I did my first puff pastry!

King Arthur Flour have a #BakeAlong every month and this month it was this flaky pastry with jam and icing on top. Kind of like a Danish, it looked like.

They called it "incredibly easy," which, I have to say, it was definitely not. It is amazing the mistakes you can find to make the first time around. But next time I do puff pastry I will know what I am doing and it will go faster.

And as for this one, it was a neat adventure and I enjoyed it. I have been wanting to make puff pastry. I have been wanting to take our Latin Mass coffee hour to the next level. I said that last Sunday to my friend Lou as we were washing dishes in the kitchen and cleaning up.

I said, "Lou, I have been thinking, I would like to take our coffee hour to the next level."

I loved how Lou did not laugh at me. Instead he nodded and began proposing the idea of chafing dishes which would allow us to serve scrambled eggs and other fancier dishes.

Periodically we float the idea of a mimosa bar as well. That always makes everyone light up.

We are making grandiose plans! And as long as I am getting puffed up here, I may as well take the puff pastry step.

Not as easy as I had hoped, as I said. But interesting. 

The bottom layer finally came into place, not without a struggle.

The puff pastry layer was not hard. It came together quickly in the saucepan. Then it went into the bowl of the World War II Mixmaster, as instructed. I added the eggs.

However here is where things went off the rails. The dough was beautiful but it glopped itself into the mixers so the mixer stopped. I had to clean the dough out of the mixers with a spatula and get it into a bowl. They should have foreseen that happening, fie.

The puff pastry also did not really puff up. People who commented on the recipe said that too. Still it seemed flaky when it came out of the oven after an hour or something. I topped it with my own trademark Blackheart Plum Jam.

Then I toasted the slivered almonds and topped the pastry with them and that is what you see at the top of this post.

End result, as we say here in Buffalo .... yum!

I am up for the next challenge!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Urban Sketching

The other day, Sunday, I went Urban Sketching. I like to draw and paint, I have mentioned that. And on Sunday there was a Sketchmeet happening at Forest Lawn Cemetery. To my astonishment I went.

I did not know any of the people involved in this Sketchmeet. But here is the thing. At the trad Catholic church I go to, a lot of things are forbidden on Sundays. You are not supposed to work. Or go to the gym, because by going to the gym you are forcing other people to work on Sundays. You are not supposed to shop. This bugs me, not just because shopping is one of my main hobbies, but because my mother didn't mind shopping on Sunday, and she was one of the holiest people I have known. But whatever. Better to err on the side of caution, you know?

Anyway, there I was, back home after coffee hour, asking myself: What do I do?

I couldn't clean the house. That was work. I couldn't do the book. That was work.

Then I remembered the Sketchmeet. And I went!

Long story short, it was just me and the Sketchmeet leader. Reason being, it was freezing, and snowing. Only a fool would sketch on a day like this. But we did!

We were fools for art!

Actually it could not have gone better. The leader of the group is an excellent artist, and I received free instruction. She took a picture of me hard at work. That is it at the top of this post!

I struggled through this picture of the Birge memorial, with its columns. ...

... and then, ready for something new, I took out an ink pen and drew the geese and swans that were hanging around Mirror Lake.

The group leader got cold and had to go into her car to warm up. When she came back, I told her she didn't have to stick around. It was really pretty bad and she was sitting on the cold bench. I had brought a folding chair, lucky me.

After she left I drew this sculpture called "Sisters." It is by Larry Griffis III.

You will not be able to tell this from my rough sketch -- in my defense, I was pretty freezing by this time -- but that sculpture is beautiful. Larry Griffis III is the son of the Larry Griffis of the Griffis Sculpture Park. I actually think the son had even more on the ball than the dad did. IMHO as people write. I got a bit choked up drawing "Sisters" because it reminded me of me and my sisters.

I did a pencil version of "Sisters" too.

When I was through with that I got up to walk to my car and that was when I realized I could not feel my feet.

I had been so absorbed I had not noticed that hypothermia was setting in!

That was a learning experience for me and since then I have tried every day to go outside and draw something. If I am at work I take a quick walk outside and try to draw something. Today I drew seagulls. It was sort of raining so I did not go far.

I will get good.

It might take some time, but in 15 minutes a day, I will get there!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Chick flick

Yesterday we went to Easter dinner at my sister Katie's in East Aurora.As soon as we walked in we heard all this chirping.

Soon we could see why.

There were all these chicks!!

Chicks as in chickens. They were in an incubator in the dining room. Howard made friends with one of them. That is Howard in the picture, chickening out!

Howard said later that once those chicks grew up, he could never eat one of those chickens. He feels too affectionate toward them and sorry for them.

He said, "They are born to be food."

Now I feel bad thinking of that. Because guess what is in the oven for dinner tonight. You guessed it, chicken!

A big roast chicken because I gave up meat for Lent and I missed it. I bought that chicken on Holy Saturday for this express purpose. At my sister's we had delicious turkey and venison and now it is time for chicken.

When Howard sees the chicken I do not know if he will think back on those chicks he met last night.

Jeoffry would not care one whit, I will tell you that. The cat in the picture with Howard is my sister's family's cat, Jinx. Jinx has no problem with the chicks. Jinx co-exists.

Jeoffry would not, that is for sure.

Meanwhile as I chew on these dilemmas everyone else in Buffalo is at Dyngus Day. I wrote a story about it in the paper. It is on the front page today! It is "A Newbie's Guide to Dyngus Day."

I should be at Dyngus Day basking in my glory and marching with the contingent from St. Adalbert's who invited me. But I am getting over a muscle sprain, darn it. I hurt my leg somehow and exacerbated it sitting for hours on end at work and then visiting the Seven Churches on Holy Thursday. I did a story on that, too! The Seven Churches tradition fascinates me.

Anyway, these are the wages of that. All my friends, and all my friends from church, and my brother, and everyone else I know, they are all at Dyngus Day. OK, there is one friend who got a bad cold and she has to sit it out, too. But other than that everyone is there.

Well, I will look on the bright side. There is this chicken. Even if Howard does not eat it, I sure will.

Plus there is just the fact of Easter week.

Is there any happier time??

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!