Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Snow day in Buffalo

We are in the throes of a snowstorm here in Buffalo. And this morning I drew the above picture of Howard's 1970 International Harvester Scout, parked in the back yard and ready for action.

The whole city is pretty much shut down. The federal workers are furloughed again. The state jumped on board and those workers are off too. Schools are all shuttered, no surprise there. There are driving bans.

My friend Meghan, God love her, texted me this morning to go sketching the way we do every week.

I liked the idea and I said yes!

Then we went back and forth about what coffee shop we were going to go to. We found that Spot Coffee downtown was open until 3 p.m. so we decided to go there. Coffee shops are great to draw in when it is too cold outside.

"This is why we are going to kick every other artist's butt," I texted Meghan. Well, maybe I was not that rude but I was rude enough.

And after all that .... and after all that ...

.. Howard threw water on my plans.

That is too chilly to say. Bad metaphor. He put the kabosh on my plans, shall we say.  He had been out with the Scout and it was just too cold, he said.

"My fingers froze in 10 minutes even with heavy gloves," he reported.

So I had to slink back to Meghan with an apology and a reversal of plans. It is not as if Howard would have prevented me from going. Do not think I had not thought all this out! But it was like inviting something to go awry because if something did, Howard would not be quick to bail me out. Well, he would bail me out, sure. But I would not soon hear the end of it.

And so I am grounded like everyone else.

Oh well.

It is fun!!

It must be, because here it is dark again. I am never bored, I will tell you that. I am never stir crazy, not really. I have been sitting around drawing and writing and enjoying my endless stock of Celestial Seasonings Christmas tea.

Speaking of which, did I mention that my Christmas tree is still up? No wonder I am enjoying the day.

With luck, tomorrow will be just like it!

Monday, January 28, 2019

Vegan before 6

My sister was on Mark Bittman's Vegan Before 6 diet and so of course I had to do it too. There are these 10 pounds I want to lose. I have lost 10 and I need to lose 10 more.

I had heard of VB6 before. Except when I last heard of it I was working pretty much 9 to 5 and it is difficult to be vegan before 6 o'clock under those circumstances. You do not have time to plan perfectly and if you get hungry you are in trouble. You cannot just go to the kitchen to chow down a few more cubes of tofu.

I do the no-meat-on-Friday thing year-round and I was never able to plan well as far as packing my Friday lunch for work. And on Fridays when my stomach was growling, that was when my mind would go to Mark Bittman and VB6.

"Yeah, right," I would say to myself. That is a condescending phrase I picked up from Leonard Pennario.

However, now things are different!

My schedule is more flexible and so this diet is no big deal. It actually reminds me of how I used to eat a long time ago, before I got married and there was this other person in my house who insists on meat. May I add I weighed less then, too. I know it is very possible to eat meat responsibly but still.

Vegan Before 6 is also very similar to this traditional Catholic fast I did during Lent a few years ago. I did get through that OK, now that I think about it, despite office hours.

However as I discovered then, you do have to plan.

I enjoy a game, and I do spend too much time thinking about this because there is nothing like a new diet, so full of promise. I made veggie burgers out of pinto beans from a Moosewood recipe. Ah, here it is!

These beanie burgers are golden. Add some ketchup and ballpark mustard and your mind accepts them as the real thing. It is like what I have read about Mock Apple Pie. I have not had that but I guess what happens is, you use zucchini instead of apples and as long as you add the appropriate spices, nobody knows the difference.

Well, at church they would probably know the difference. At our after-Mass coffee hour I announced I was on the diet.

"Vegan before 6," I said brightly.

And these smart-mouth guys in our congregation are laughing at me.

""So you can eat meat now," one of them told me. "Vegan before 6 a.m."


Why didn't I think of that?

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Confession confession: Back into the booth!

I miss keeping this Web log and I keep trying to pick it back up. Today I thought of it especially because I returned to an experience I used to get a big kick out of chronicling.


It remains an exotic experience. Perhaps it will always be so, seeing that I fell off the Confession wagon and had to go back after a million years -- an unforgettable experience. Anyway, I always try my best to be conscious of every minute of it, not to go through it on autopilot. And happily circumstances usually conspire to make every Confession a Confession to remember.

Today what happened was, I was in St. Michael's, as usual. My friend Meghan and I stopped in there for prayer and Adoration before we went sketching. And Confessions were going on. And the line was not long.

I watched and waited, as I always do.

I could go to confession on a daily basis and I could still not get the system right. When the light is off over the booth, you may enter, and kneel, and await the priest's attention, right? Or is it when the light is on?

In this case I saw the light was off, and a gentlemen walked into the booth, and the curtain closed behind him, and the light went on. Bingo! That meant when the light is off nobody is in there. The light on the other side of that Confession station was off. I made my way over there. I pulled back the curtain, gingerly because I will never forget that time I walked in on that one girl.

Nobody was inside. I went in and knelt down.

Holy cow, I could see the priest sitting there on the other side of the screen! I never remember seeing that before. I think a light was on that was supposed to be off.

Either that or ... had I made a mistake? Was I not supposed to go in there?

Things quickly got worse. That gentleman who had walked in before me, I could hear every word he was saying! I could hear the entire conversation between him and the priest. Do not get all excited here -- all I heard was the priest giving him some kind of advice, but still, sort of intimate, you know? I knelt there confused. Do I stay or do I go?

Thank God the priest invited him to recite his Act of Contrition. That is when you know you are out of the woods. But the whole time this gentleman, this young man, recited his Act of Contrition, I was kneeling on pins and needles. Clearly I was not supposed to be here, where I was. I worried I would be reprimanded.

The confession ended without incident. But my problems continued. Usually your cue to start your confession is when the priest's window slides open. The window was apparently already open. End result, as we say here in Buffalo, there was a protracted silence with this white-haired Jesuit in the window just sitting there, and me just kneeling there.

Finally he said, "God bless you." As I had not sneezed, I took that as my cue.

After that things went well, as seen in the painting of me and the priest up at the top of the post. But still ...

What is it about confession?

It is always an adventure!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Drawing on the right side of the food court

I have been sketching a lot at the downtown library. And the other day I headed over there because I was downtown with Howard and I had a couple of hours to work while he went to the dentist. On my way to the library, though, I stopped and looked around.

I thought: I have drawn everything out the windows of the library that there is to draw!

That was when I saw Main Place Mall. Let me check out the food court, I thought. The food court is on the second floor and perhaps there are some views.

And sure enough!

I went in and I drew the Rand Building and the Brisbane Building. There was a table that afforded me a pretty good view. And it beat drawing the same old stuff I have drawn a million times from the library. I mean, I love some of the views from the library. But there are not as many as you think.

It is a strange situation you encounter in the Main Place Mall food court, I must point that out.

On the one hand is the sound system. They play classical music, I guess to try to make people finish up their lunch and go. Me, of course, I love it. On this occasion they were alternating between Mozart and Beethoven, mostly chamber music, but with some piano concertos tossed in. Even with the system being on shuffle, it was heaven.

On the other hand there is this garbage person who orbits the food court ceaselessly pushing this deafening garbage cart. Again, they do not want you to get too comfortable.

Also there were all these guys. There are no women in the food court! It was just me and these guys. And this one guy in particular kept yapping into his cell phone. Apparently people were wanting money from him and that was what he was talking about. He had a million calls going on and to each caller he kept saying, "I'm going to call you back."

True, you get in the drawing zone and you do not hear too much anyway. It fades out. But in the meantime I was getting a little stressed and I am afraid it would show in my work.

Well, all is well that ends well. I liked what I did and when Howard got out of the dentist I went home with him happy.

 And the next day I went back again, this time with my friend Meghan who is super-artistic and sketches with me. It was exactly the same as the first day -- Mozart and Beethoven quartets, schufts and oiks, the garbage guy, no other women in the food court, uneasy cell phone conversations, the whole bit. But we were there for, yikes, almost five hours! And we did good work.

Above is my second portrayal of the Rand Building and the Brisbane Building. The best part is the street lamp, to my way of thinking. I like to draw exactly what is in front of my eyes. It is a kind of souvenir.

The Main Place Mall food court .... I will remember it!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

A Midnight Mass to remember

Today being the Octave of Christmas it was back to Mass again. Everyone is laughing about how nobody knows what day it is any more.

All we know is we are in church all the time!

But nobody minds. The music was beautiful. We got to sing "Resonet in Laudibus" and "Silent Night." Everything was very calm next to a week ago, I will tell you that.

I do not believe I have written much about our Midnight Mass. It was an adventure!

This was the first Latin Midnight Mass that Buffalo had seen in decades. So we were nervous. I was not even planning to go to it to tell you the truth. I did not grow up going to Midnight Mass. We could go when we got older and could go on our own. My parents absolutely were not up to it. Long story short, I am more a Mass of the Shepherds kind of girl. Give me a crisp Christmas morning any day.

But around 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve I decided I had to go. I did not want to miss this Mass. And for once we were not hit with a Christmas Eve snowstorm. And so after dinner with Howard I drove downtown to St. Anthony of Padua.

Good thing, too. Because it turned out the choir was overwhelmingly men and desperately needed some women's voices. And as it was it was just me and my sketching buddy Meghan and three teenagers.

My brother Tony played the organ. That is he in the picture at the top of this post, bathed in light as if he is transfigured. I snapped that picture at Midnight Mass. I took it at the end when I could finally relax.

Tony is a wonderful organist but we had not practiced or anything and his playing is complex and not easy for me to follow. In the Kyrie I was waiting to hear when I was supposed to come in. And my cue never came! Then I realized what was happening. Tony was playing something like what I was supposed to be singing, except he was way up in the high treble, making a kind of chirping, fluttering sound.

Son of a sea cook, I started to laugh! I could not sing for a moment there and everyone else on the girls' side stopped singing too in solidarity with me.

I had to get a grip and tried to make myself think of sad stuff.

"Mary," I told myself, "it's Christmas. Your mother is dead. Your father is dead. Think how much you miss them."

But I could not sober up. On top of being nervous I was punchy. I am not used to being up all night and our Midnight Mass, I should point out, actually started at midnight and not at 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. the way some churches time it.

Finally I imagined myself walking through a snowstorm, compass set on North, just walking. I just sang what I was supposed to be singing and I got through it that way.

Weak beginning, strong finish, as we sometimes say up there in the choir loft. The important thing is, we pulled off our Midnight Mass. It hit its stride at the Gloria and after that things went OK.

Next year should be pretty darned good! But for today it was just time to relax.

The Octave of Christmas.