Monday, May 27, 2019

The not-so-secret garden

This morning I went with my friend Lauren to explore the new Dash's Market. We walked over there and later I thought it was funny, how little I am using my auto these days. I biked to church yesterday and today we walked to the greengrocer.

Greengrocer! That is a term we should use more often.

All I bought was green things!

For the record -- I bought leeks, zucchini, Savoy cabbage and .... what else? There was one more thing. It was green. Oh! Cucumber.

After shopping we sat in the upstairs Dash Cafe, or whatever they call it. It is spacious and lovely and because it was early in the morning not a lot of people were there and we scored a seat on the patio where we ate muffins and Lauren fed a snack to her baby daughter. I did a sketch of the street below.

When I got home I worked like a fieldhand on my garden. But first..

What got me going on the garden was seeing Lauren's garden. She and her husband bought this beautiful house in Parkside. It is the perfect house. It has no lawn in front. The front steps go right down to the sidewalk! So, no lawn mowing! Plus ... it has a garden in back. I mean a real garden, with huge raised beds and -- get this! -- a gate. A garden gate!

It is like The Secret Garden! As in the picture up above, by the great Tasha Tudor.

I could not get over it. I can tell that Lauren and her garden are going to be an inspiration for me all summer long.

I said, "Lauren, I am so glad you live in the city."

Is there anything better? We may walk to each other's houses and to the greengrocer.

And everything we need is right here. That is another thing to think about.

In contrast to Lauren I do not have a secret garden. I have a public garden! My garden is my front lawn on a busy street full of motorcycles and boom cars.

But you know what, I love it. I was out there today pulling up bishop's weed -- I love bishop's weed, but I have a huge patch of it that I am not going to touch. The bishop's weed in the front has to go to make room for other things.

Son of a sea cook, I am going to be seeing bishop's weed in my sleep, I pulled up so much of it. I also brutally pruned the rose bushes. I am sorry to say brutally but there is no other word for it.

I was scratched but not bleeding. Eventually I was bleeding but it took a long time to get to that point. By then I had been working for hours. I declared victory, cleaned myself up, and went to Home Depot for tomato plants.

I bought eight, for $20. That is going to be the only money I spend on my garden. But it will be beautiful.

For weeks now I have been writing as one of my goals, "I have a gorgeous garden."

It has begun!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

My experience with Aldi delivery

Anyone who knows me or has ever read this Web log knows of my love for Albrecht Discount, affectionately known as Aldi. I adore Aldi.

I wish I could charter it the way my mother told me that the Queen of England charters Harrod's! When the Queen goes Christmas shopping, so my mother said to me, Harrod's would be blocked off just for her.

Unfortunately that is not the case with Aldi and the one I go to is small and overdue for a makeover and expansion, which thank heavens it is getting. It is getting cramped and one aisle is even so narrow now that I cannot get down it comfortably even with the 10 pounds I lost over Lent. And it is super-crowded.


Today I tried Aldi delivery!

No more chatting, here is the report. It was easy to do the online shopping. The menu of items is easy to navigate and I happily shopped away. You cannot buy markdowns online but you know what, there have been a million times I went to Aldi and did not find any markdowns I wanted.

Placing the order was easy and there is this promo code on the delivery site which gives you $10 off. That made up for the nickels and dimes that turn up added to the prices online. However, 89 cents for a dozen of those fine Goldhen eggs, who can argue with that?

I shopped my way up to about $50 and then placed my order. After that Instacart got really chatty, texting me to tell me that my order was placed, that it had been delayed, that it would be there soon, and then -- ta da! -- that my shopper was in my driveway!

End result, as we say here in Buffalo: Two items out of the 15 or so I ordered were wrong. I ordered the 1-pound clamshell of the organic spring mix. I am not an organic fanatic but I do like organic lettuce. Instead the shopper gave me the, ahem, Artisan Lettuce ...

...  that smaller clamshell with four heads of lettuce. I felt I had to kvetch about that seeing that the price was very different.

Then I had to call about a discrepancy with the chicken, too.

The cauliflower had spots and would not have been the one I would have selected.

Everything else looked pretty good. The cabbage looked dandy and the eggs were unbroken, no problem there.

It took a while for me to figure out how to address my grievances. That surprised me, because I am good with computers. It just was not intuitive. Eventually, I managed to find a phone number, and so I called.

They refunded me the money for my organic greens. The chicken was actually a trade-up -- I had ordered a normal chicken, and they had given me some kind of snobby free-range bird that would have cost more. So I was the winner there, and we let that be.

I did go ahead and mention the spotted cauliflower, just because I wanted to give Instacart honest feedback on how they were doing. To tell you the truth I do not see this situation improving. People can't read. You can put one item on your list and they will bring you another. Also, nobody knows anything about vegetables. I am sure my shopper could not tell one cauli from another. So if you get delivery you have to brace yourself for some problems.

It did not help that Instacart promises you the moon. In the days leading up to this they had been strutting their stuff sending me emails with things in the subject line like, "Mary, prepare to be amazed!" Honest, that was one. I am quoting it exactly.

Now here is where things get psychological.

I realized I felt bad after making the phone call. I hated being seen as a crabby complainer. Also, on the Web site, the only way you can report an "issue" with your order is to give your delivery person a "bad" rating. There seems to be no other way. It is weird.

I did not want to say that my shopper had been bad or that the experience had been bad. It was not exactly bad. Also I think as a Catholic I should be patient and kind and I did not want to have to be a pain, you know?

 And then there was the matter of the tip. I had not realized the tipping is electronic. They add in 5 percent and if you want to give more you can do that after you get your order, add it in the way I think people do on Uber.

I actually like this feature, but they were not clear about it, and so I had given the shopper and her friend $5 cash. Then I saw that online I had already given them $2.50 or something so I canceled that. I thought: I gave them twice that amount, and they screwed up my order. I'm not going to give them, like, $7.50. Then I felt bad, as you do in these situations. Would Instacart be angry with them when they saw the tip was canceled? God knows I have had my share of lowdown jobs, I mean back in the day, and I sympathize, and I do not want to make a blot on anyone's record. Could I have handled that differently? I should have read things more carefully. I should have --

Finally I stopped and said, oh, for Pete's sake!

Why am I feeling as if this is somehow my fault?

If the shopper had only brought me what I asked for, I would not be going over and over and over all this!

Why am I worrying about these people? They are not worrying about me!

Get it together, Instacart! You told me, "Mary, prepare to be amazed!" Well, I am amazed. I am amazed at how I can order grocery delivery and it can still eat my day.


Will I try this again? Yes, because the promo code gives you $10 off three different orders and I have two to go. Also I am credited $4 something for the lettuce. I will say this for Instacart, they have good customer service. The trick is to figure out how to report an issue but once you do that, they are very nice.

The only thing is, you do not want it to shoot your day. That is what you are trying to avoid by getting the delivery. I had all this work to do, plus I had to go to church at 5 p.m. for Gregorian chant practice. I did not feel I could budget all the time to go to Aldi and back.

The work went well, is the good news. So, worth it. I'll try this again, and report.

But one thing, could Aldi please start carrying wine?

You kind of need it, after all this!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The mysteries of Delaware Park

I love walking in Delaware Park early in the morning, around the Ring Road, around Hoyt Lake, an occasional excursion around the Rose Garden.

The mysteries you encounter!

For a few days there was a tent pitched on the bank of Hoyt Lake.

It is there if you look closely! There was a bicycle parked consistently next to it, with a pack attached to it. You do not want to get too close to these things because you never know who or what is inhabiting such a dwelling. But I did get this picture.

For three or four days the tent was there. Then one day it was gone.

In its place was a sign that had clearly been lifted from the Marcy Casino down the way.

There is that and also there is the mystery of the two-colored apple trees.

One of my park friends told me about them and lo! There are apple trees that have pink or purple blossoms and white blossoms. Here is one. There are more, trust me.

Add in the fish whose life I saved and the iridescent blue birds and it is no wonder I have managed to take off a few pounds walking ...

...  around the park every morning.

It is just so entertaining!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Sleepless at the computer

A lot of today went into working on my Leonard Pennario project.

Come heck or high water I am going to have it done and out by this fall. I will have something out by then anyway. It might be more than one volume.

There is one thing I can do that always gets me psyched and that is listen to him. Today I tapped into Pennario performing the Rachmaninoff Second

The only trouble is, it is amazing and distracts me.

Just the opening chords. Did any other pianist get them perfect like that? Every one builds on the one before, so perfectly.


He is just so great!

Well, I got through some work anyway. I should mention this work began at 5 a.m. I was up early! I could not sleep and so I got up.

May I say that sleepless that I was I managed to work for two hours without spilling coffee all over the computer keyboard as Howard did this morning when he sat down at it after a full night's sleep. You should see me trying to type this now. Not pretty!

While Howard was working on his stuff and spilling hs coffee I went for a walk in the park to wake up. The sun was out!

There are worse times to do editing, which is pretty much what this has come down to, than when you have not had much sleep. You are a little impatient and tend to cut stuff more willingly than when you have slept soundly. Do not worry however. It is like clothes bound for Amvets. They sit in the car trunk for a few days to give me time to reconsider.

Things that are deleted may always return.

In the meantime things are going well. It helps not working this huge job, you know? You have a little more time to think. Also, I have to say this, I love to write about music. I love to draw too, and I do not have to cut that out, I cannot. But I can do both.

Speaking of music and art is that not a dandy portrait of Pennario on the cover of that album?

The maestro!

I can hardly wait for the book!

Monday, May 20, 2019

Sketching on Niagara Street

I do not know what attracts me to old factories but something does.

Yesterday when the temperature was in the 80s -- gasp! -- and it felt for once like summer, I celebrated by grabbing one of those red rent-a-bikes and pedaling down Niagara Street. My niece calls these bikes "city bikes." I like that term.

I stopped and did some city sketching!

Today it is back in the 40s and 50s so it kills me with nostalgia, remembering. The city had gone crazy because of the warmth. Boom cars were blaring and people were roaring around on those awful loud motorcycles and even the average person who passed you on the sidewalk had some kind of stupid personal stereo blasting. But still.

I was so happy to be out and drawing I hardly noticed!

Plus I had to keep reminding myself I was not in the best and quietest part of town. Niagara Street just calls to me. I love the smell of the river. I love the old industry. Everywhere I looked I saw something I wanted to tackle.

Eventually I zeroed in on this beauty.

I am not sure what they used to make there. More accurately, I have no idea. But I liked the shape of the place and the stuff on the roof. Plus there was a bus stop right there and I could sit on the bench outside it.

Tomorrow I will post the picture I did. Looking at it I just want to do a couple more things with it.

Just look at that old place.

I wish it were yesterday!

Monday, May 13, 2019

I saved a life today

I saved a life today. It was only a fish, but still.

I was walking around Hoyt Lake early this morning in the cold drizzle. This is a terrible spring we are having here in Buffalo but I care not seeing that I have all this work to do. As I was walking I saw something lying on the bank. It was a little fish, a carp I think.

The fish was lying there and I thought he was dead but then I saw his gills barely moving.

You have to act fast in situations like this and I picked the fish up. I have to admit I said, "Eeeuww." I had on these green gloves I love. But how bad can they smell, you know? They only touched the fish for a couple of seconds. The fish looked as if he had a little bit of blood on him so I do not know what exactly happened but I stayed away from that blood, is all I can tell you. I picked him up gingerly and I got him back in the water.

"There you go, little guy," I said. I call my cat Jeoffry "little guy" so I am in the habit.

Good thing Jeoffry was not along on this expedition!

Anyway. I worried the fish might sink like a stone but no.

He swam joyously and zestily away!

That felt good. I was so happy I could do that, you know? Nobody was out walking because of this bad weather but I was. And I was not wearing a headset and I was aware of what was around me and I saw the fish.

Above is a picture of the lake with the fish in it because of me.

Little fish. It reminds me of my religion teacher in high school whose name was Miss Piscitello. My dad was a Latin teacher who knew what was what and he told me it was Italian for "little fish." My friends and I had a riot with that. We would say Little Fish and that was code for our religion teacher.

A piscitello swims in Delaware Park Lake tonight because of me. I am a Good Samaritan.

Choose life!