Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The most beautiful German word ...

... is, admittedly, an honor for which the competition is keen.

There is Busgruss, or "bus greeting," referring to when two buses pass and the drivers wave at each other. I think that one was the result of a contest.

There is "schuft."

There is my dad's favorite German word, "Auspuhfsrohr," which means exhaust pipe. I am not sure I spelled it right but I sure know how to say it -- "Owss - poofs -- roar!"

I love all those words, love them from the bottom of my heart. But now I have a word that eclipses them all, at least for now.

It is Balkongestaltung!

I do not even know exactly what that means but I think it means "balcony porn." There is a Pinterest board with that title that I have fallen in love with.

Having given that link I will poach from that board freely.

Can you stand it?

It is not just the porches themselves. It is the landscapes that surround them. These high rises. The architecture.

There are whole movies you can watch. This is my favorite. It is like "Gone With the Wind." I have already watched it three times.

I mean, 4:59. Where in the world is that?

5:13. Sometimes I just stop the film and stare.


7:23 is one of my favorites. I like the evening pictures.

7:39. What a vista!

I am trying to decorate my back porch as I may have mentioned. The month of August is going to be a big one for me. There is much work to be done. I need to get a lot in order before September.

Hence my porch. I want it to be a haven of relaxation for when I need it.

I began researching ideas for low-budget things I could do. Note: I realize that if you have a small porch, as I do, it helps to use the word "balcony." Otherwise you get pictures of huge wraparound porches with tons of furniture and rocking chairs and tables and everything. "Small Balcony" does the trick.

Now I am beginning to wonder: Who needs that haven of relaxation when I can just look at these pictures?

Take me away!

Saturday, July 27, 2019

The Warming Drawer

So today my life felt as if it were spinning out of control and so I cleaned the house.

That is what it takes for me to clean the house!

One thing I did was scrub the Bosch stove. I always mean well, intending to clean the Bosch daily or at least once a week. Which, I never do that. And so it gets dirty.

I felt like the gal in the picture at left! Except my stove is a Bosch. And it was no so easy to scrub as the oven in the picture. I want that oven.

I was scrubbing the Bosch and I did the range part of it. And then what I did was, I pulled out the Warming Drawer. That is the drawer at the bottom where you keep all your baking pans.

The drawer was unbelievably scuzzy!

I mopped it down. I mopped down the drawer where it comes out, and then I swabbed down the entire drawer. The drawer was unbelievably dirty. I took all the pans out of it and washed them. Then I thought ...

Why don't I leave this empty, as the Warming Drawer?

What is a Warming Drawer, anyway?

Bosch says it is to keep meals warm before you serve them.

It would be nice to see if the Warming Drawer works. There is always something on the Bosch that does not work and right now that is the broiler. If the Warming Drawer worked that would be a plus for the stove. I have never used the Warming Drawer but it has never been empty so I could use it. Perhaps if it were empty and clear of all the pans you store there, I could use it.

Whatever, now the Warming Drawer is empty, and clean.

Perhaps I can use it now!

Friday, July 26, 2019

We discover Columbus

Yesterday my friend Meghan and I went to Columbus Park and drew the statue there. I sent Howard the photo up above and Howard posted it on Facebook with the title, "On this day, Mary discovered Columbus."

Which I love! But it goes deeper than that.

You never know when that statue of Columbus will be gone!

Every year Columbus is back in the limelight on Columbus Day. He has been dodging bullets for years. Somebody does something, douses the statue in red paint, vandalizes it somehow. He stays standing there stoically, handsome in his Renaissance pantaloons, holding the territory. Every year, after Columbus Day, there is a kind of thanksgiving. Columbus lives to see another year.

Whether that will happen again is uncertain. I understand a sign is nearby saying Columbus is to be removed. I did not see that sign.

Who is going to get the statue?

Can I have it?

Just a few weeks ago we all saw the reproduction of the Santa Maria in the harbor and we all loved it, as you can see in my picture.

About the statue of Columbus, can we all just get our heads together here?

People demanding this statue come down should take a step back and admit something -- that they do not know the first thing about it. Nobody does.

We all would have to do our homework and go back and read Columbus' original letters which, who has the time to do that. We cannot believe everything we read these days. Heck, we cannot believe anything we read. We have to check it out for ourselves. We have to do research and read centuries-old documents.

Until we have a chance to do that, can we just leave the statue up? Just an idea.

It is a beautiful statue. The foundation reads that it was dedicated by the Federation of Italian-American Societies and by the Public-Spirited Citizens of the City of Buffalo. That is a description I love.

Columbus Park was beautiful when we were there. A woman was sitting on a bench reading a book. Hours passed and she was still there and so were we. It was quiet.

Except -- I almost forgot this -- this big brown-and-white bird kept swooping around, making this big loud call I never remember hearing. It was magical, this day, this place.

I want this place to stay, as it is. With the statue.

I want Columbus to stay so I can sketch him again!

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Ron Moss -- a boss, and a very sad loss

A sad thing has happened. We have lost Ron Moss.

People who have read this Web log for a while will know that Ron Moss, pictured above on my couch, is Howard's cousin. He had a long and colorful career as a cab driver and more recently was known for pushing shopping carts around town. Always he asked you a million personal questions. Always he made you laugh.

There was a graveside service this morning and I could not believe it, Ron Moss no longer among us. It was a Jewish service and it did not pull punches. I threw a shovelful of dirt on the coffin like in "Doctor Zhivago." I was not sure if I was supposed to participate both as a woman and as a Catholic but I went ahead and participated.

You almost had to, or you would not believe it.  Half way through the brief ceremony Howard's phone rang and he whispered, "Maybe it's Moss."

It would be like Moss for it to be Moss, that is for sure!

Anyway. Back home from the cemetery I went onto the Web log and began looking up Ron Moss stories. I got teary reading them. Each was more loony than the last.

There was the time Ron Moss pushed a gift under the fence of Howard's garage. 

Moss's words of wisdom: "It can be postponed!"

Ron Moss Participates in City Crackdown. I remember Howard wrote that headline.

There is this classic:

Moss cracks up a Metro Bus full of people.

A list of Moss-isms, inspired by him yelling obscenities at an officer.

And the time Moss appeared at Occupy Buffalo.

One story I found and really loved did not even directly involve Moss. Moss ...

was not there. This story was about Howard on a patio wearing a Moss T-shirt and -- well, read it, I insist. was laughing and laughing.

In between these highlights were lots of littler things.

 A scheme we had to get Ron Moss operating a ride service.

The time we considered having Ron Moss living in the Tillinghast Frank Lloyd Wright house.

Moss getting his flu shot and asking everyone at CVS if they knew "union boy" Len Lenahan.

Just a garden-variety sighting of Moss and his shopping cart on Hertel was classic.

As was Ron's initial appearance in "Cast of Characters," way back in 2008.

The way you could always threaten to put people or businesses who annoyed you or cheated you onto Ron Moss's daily calling list. I considered that once.

The picture I took of the back of Ron Moss's head.

One thing makes me happy on this sad day. I am very happy I have kept this online diary all of these years. It started out as a way to promote my book about Leonard Pennario but it took on a life of its own. It took on my life, is what it did. Because of it I have all these things written down that I would have otherwise forgotten. Speaking of which here is Moss with my brother George.

Howard has posted a million pictures of Ron Moss on the Weblog over the years. He used to write these funny captions for them. They are all over the place including in many of the posts I just linked to.

This post is too long already but I am telling you, start a blog. Do it for yourself. Don't worry if nobody reads it. When my mother passed I loved all the stories I had about her, because of writing in this more or less every day. (I did that for a long time and am planning on doing that again.)

You remember the big occasions on your own but you forget all the little everyday things, the little conversations you had, the funny things that made you laugh. When you lose someone you still have that and I am telling you, it is a big comfort, and it is fun, and it makes you smile.

It almost makes me think that when Howard's phone rang this morning it really could have been Moss.

Ron Moss lives!

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Back to the Clinton Bailey Market

For a few years now, certain of my friends and I have had our eye on this recipe from The Joy of Cooking. It is Tutti Frutti!

It is also known as Brandied Fruit as this article states. And its real name is Rumtopf which in German means "Rum Pot."

"The Joy of Cooking" is a great go-to German cookbook. It is loaded with German recipes because the Rombauers who wrote it were German. Another thing I like about the Rombauers was Erma Rombauer was friends with the conductor George Szell. You have to figure that being into classical music on that level she knew who Leonard Pennario was. I like that in a person.

The Rombauers named their Rumtopf recipe Tutti Frutti Cockaigne, named for their summer home. They would attach that name "Cockaigne" to their favorite recipes.

That is something I hope is not being lost. In those formal old Gourmet magazines people would write in letters with their family recipes, or recipes they had come up with and loved and they would attach their last name to the recipe. For instance if I came up with a Rumtopf recipe of my own it would be Rumtopf Goldman.

That has a ring to it!


Today I went to the Clinton Bailey Market to shop for our Rumtopf.

I took a break in my shopping to sketch the fire station across the way. That is a picture of it up above! Other than that I shopped diligently.

I bought strawberries and raspberries and cherries and apricots. You are supposed to start with your liquor -- rum or brancy -- and then add these fruits one at a time as they come into season. It will be ready by Christmas. Although traditionally you are allowed to take a nip here and there starting on the first Sunday of Advent.

And so it begins.

Our friend Zach has come up with a crock for it so that is our green light. Zach found the crock at Clarence Antiques. He paid $40 for it. He is investing in Tutti Frutti!

The crock is with Zach and it is big and heavy and hard to move so I will have to get him the fruit. Meanwhile I tossed the strawberries with sugar and stored them gently in the fridge. The cherries can wait a day or two. They are stored carefully. They do not need to be pitted. That is what I read.

It is funny reading anything about how to make something like this because online recipes are all full of warnings. No one wants to trust in old science. They are always throwing in this or that complication and finally I said, you know what? People have been making this for centuries. It works. It is not rocket science. You do not have to be Wernher von Braun to make Rumtopf!

The one important thing is the fruit has to be perfect. That is what The Joy of Cooking said.

"Use only perfect fruit." We were all laughing about that.

I have a feeling the Rumtopf will be fine no matter what!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Back to the Buzz

Once upon a time I wrote the Buzz column for The Buffalo News. It was a kind of gossip and humor column, things going on around town, lots of fun.

I am bringing it back.

For fun!

My friends have been asking for it, I am happy to say, ever since Howard raised the possibility of me writing it again on a lark. We could now incorporate my drawings.

It sounded nuts at first but then there is nothing wrong with that. And when I got to thinking about it I realized it could be a kind of a sketch diary for me. I could do pictures and riff from there.

Here is my first.

There will be another next week.

People on Facebook have been great about sharing it. It really warms my heart. The first column featured for starters the sketch up above. That is of the Parkside Meadow, this tavern near my house. It is kind of my corner tavern. If someone says, "Let's go grab a glass of wine," that is often where we go.

It may take a few weeks for the new Buzz column to reach equilibrium but I have no doubt it will happen. I did that column for a million years. Week after week. It hardly lapsed at all. I guess it lapsed for a few months while I was in California with Leonard Pennario but otherwise it kept going. When I went on vacation I wrote it in advance. When I got married I Buzzed my own wedding, writing about ways in which the ceremony and reception ran off the rails. I will have no problem picking it back up.

I am looking forward to it!

Monday, July 15, 2019

An alley in the sun

The other day I went sketching with my friend Meghan and we wound up in an alley off Edward Street. That was where I drew the picture at left.

I think it was off Edward Street because later we went walking up the street and drew Founding Fathers Pub and I do not remember turning any corners. I will have to learn to take notes in these situations because in the future biographers will be interested in them.

It is like Leonard Pennario taking notes because one day he knew I would want to see them. I am not making that up. He told me that.

You must always take notes because you never know what your biographer might need.

Back to Edward Street, at least where I think I was. The sun was bright and I loved the shadow on the wall of the house on the right. I also loved how the fire escape on the house at left cast shadows on the brick. We are seeing too little of the sun this year if you ask me. Whenever the sun is out I want to go out and make hay and that is what I did.

It was chilly but sunny and you know what, I do not care if it is chilly, I just want that sun.

I wonder if the weather this summer will ever pull itself out of the crapper. I kind of think not.

But so what. Whatever it is, I will roll with it.

Just give me some sun here and there, and I will be happy!

Sunday, July 14, 2019

A morning in the Japanese garden

This morning the sun was out and so I took my sketchbook when I went walking in the morning. I found myself at the Japanese garden.

Decades from now when scholars debate the deep meaning of my work they will point out that this picture has philosophy behind it. In the foreground is the Zen of the Japanese garden. In the background you may make out trucks and cars barreling along the expressway.

Yin and yang! That is not Japanese, I do not think, but it is close.

That is a strange little sculpture and yet I love drawing it. I love the curve of the legs it stands on. It is a funny thing, drawing in ink. You do not get a second chance if you goof something. Well, you can turn the page and start again. But that is the only second chance you get.

And so I get in the zone. I make sure that the line is supposed to go where I am about to draw it. That is what makes pen better than pencil to my way of thinking. I discovered that last fall when I did Inktober. With pencil you get too sketchy and just start anywhere. With a pen you must have a plan.

Somehow the legs of this sculpture just draw themselves. And pen does stone so well.

The rocks were fun and so was the grass.

Here I am working on it.

The sun had gone in by that point. It was there and then it was not and then it was again.

La la la la la la la.

It was a beautiful hour or so I passed drawing that picture. It was warm and sunny for once and I feel good that I was out there in it. I was so relaxed and the air was so fragrant and now that it is raining again as usual I wish it were this morning again.

I wish I were back in the Zen zone!

Saturday, July 13, 2019

A foggy day in Buffalo town

Today was the Buffalo Marathon and I used that as an excuse to bike to my 9 a.m. Mass. Usually I help out with the coffee hour and have to bring baked goods but today the hall was rented and so there was no coffee hour. And so I was at liberty to bike.

It was fun biking. Your day feels different. At 8 a.m. the city was swathed in fog. It was like San Francisco! Or like that beautiful little poem by Carl Sandburg you learn in school.

The fog comes 
on little cat feet. 

It sits looking 
over harbor and city 
on silent haunches 
and then moves on.

I had that memorized! When I reached downtown and got to Big Blue I sent this picture to Howard.

I thought of the Sandburg poem and also Bismarck "Bix" Beiderbecke's "In a Mist."

Wow, listen to that. Bix on piano!

Mass was long because we are singing a lot of Gregorian chant these days and just taking our time. We are in no hurry. Summertime, and the living is easy. It was almost 11 a.m. when I returned to my bike. The fog was still there. It had not gone anywhere!

I pedaled leisurely in the direction of home, more or less. I went along the Riverwalk.

There is an amazing juncture where you get a panoramic view of the Niagara River. The Peace Bridge had gradually appeared from the mist and here it is.

Eventually I found my way to Unity Island, formerly Squaw Island. I love railroad bridges and the one to this island is a beauty. So I sat on a curb and took out my new ink pens and drew the picture at the top of this post.

I sort of wanted to wash in the clouds later but I like the lines of the picture, its angular nature, so I will think about that. While I was thinking I biked over the bridge. As I wrote on Instagram it felt like family now that I had sketched it.

On Unity Island I found the bike path and it takes you right by the river's edge.

Unfortunately at this point it also got really cold! It felt like summer in the Arctic circle. It looked like that too. The waves of the river just disappeared into the sky and you could not tell which was which.

Next time I go there I will draw that beautiful International Railroad Bridge that appears in the mist in that last picture. OK, to tell you the truth, I already did draw it. I could not resist. It was so dramatic and I drew my picture in the presence of several Border Patrol agents. They were parked there keeping an eye on the bridge.

I loved this foggy Sunday.

I am glad I have so many pictures so I can remember it.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Sketching in Allentown

I went sketching with my friend Meghan in Allentown on Friday. This was one of the pictures I drew.

Allentown is fun and funky -- sort of Buffalo's version of Haight Ashbury. There were posters around hyping a series of talks exploring the legacy of long-dead anarchist Emma Goldman. The famous music bar Nietzsche's is just down the street. People kept stopping by to talk with us. We had a wonderful time. And we felt like part of the scene. Folks who were antique shopping and eating lunch would stop and look at our work. I like to think it added to their Allentown experience, to see us standing on the sidewalk, drawing.

I love just getting down on paper what is before my eyes. Maybe it comes from being a reporter, from working for The Buffalo News for so long. I love to be truthful and I find it enjoyable.

Speaking of enjoyable, the drawing was accompanied by a continual volley of laughter from across the street, emanating from the staff of the restaurant Gabriel's Gate, pictured at left. The cooks and waiters and whoever were always coming out of the building on their breaks or whatever. I drew one of them in because I wanted to remember that. They were laughing and joking and you could hear it up and down the street. The day was sort of chilly but not as freezing as it had been and spirits were high.

So much fun!

These buildings are among the oldest in Buffalo and it is a privilege to draw them. Also I love their beautiful light posts.

I will have to go back.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The pants-free adventure continues

I have received inquiries as to whether I am still adhering to the Skirts Only rule.

The answer is yes!

How long has it been now? Maybe a month? For the most part I have been having fun with it. I cannot resist a game. That was a problem back in Lent because I was treating this fast I was on as a game, and I kept trying to look for ways to make it easier while still sticking to the rules. Finally I had to tell myself, Uh, Mary? The point of this fast is not to outsmart it!

But that was the only way I could stick with it!

Anyway, this skirt thing. I am going the extra mile and wearing only floor-length skirts because that was what was suggested and without that it would be too easy because I was never really a pants person to begin with.

There is also the matter of the sleeves. Again, it is not as if we are bound by this at church or anything, but the suggestion was for sleeves to be elbow length.

For the first two weeks or so I just used what was in my closet. I combined things different ways. And it was fun because I wore things I had never worn. Two dresses in particular that I had never worn before became staples of my wardrobe. One is a pink Izod cotton maxi and the other is a loose ivory-colored rayon sleeveless gown by All That Jazz.

The problem with both of those dresses had been, they were too skimpy to wear out for most occasions, probably for any occasions, now that I think about it. Yet it had never occurred to me to wear anything over them. Until now! Now, I needed all hands on deck, and these dresses, not being polyester, were called into play.

Now, they are out and about! So are these cotton halter dresses I have. I have always loved these dresses and now they have a new look worn under an array of lacy tops and cotton shirts and jackets.

After about two weeks though I could see I needed some stuff, mostly in the sleeves department because that is a bigger challenge than the skirt. If anything would make me give this up it would be the sleeves rule, because in the heat it is no joke, and also I love going sleeveless. It just feels so good.

But I went shopping and that helped. Shopping always helps. I went to Amvets and Goodwill and acquired a range of loose cotton tops for this heat wave we are in. Oh! And I went to Salvation Army and I struck gold with some gorgeous colorful light vintage cotton shirts from Buffalo's own Chain's India Boutique. I wear them a lot with the Izod and the All That Jazz dresses. Score!

Today at Amvets I found a cotton flowered jacket from Spain. It is like wearing a cloud.

I will have to photograph and post pictures of these items. Meanwhile... good news!

Since I have done this, not only have I suffered no sunburn, I have received a ton of compliments!

Strangers have asked me where I shop!

I went and drew the Tall Ships on the Buffalo waterfront ,,, this is one ...

... and I was in one of those long white flowered halter dresses and one of my cotton white smocks and a straw hat -- and people thought I was part of the show! I guess I looked vaguely 19th century.

A passer-by took this snapshot of me.

And as I stood there sketching, folks treated me like this celebrity. The crew of the Nova Scotia ship invited me on board. I was in this daze. I had never foreseen any of that happening. I had simply been hoping to get in some good drawings.

Would any of this had happened were I wearing shorts, as I think I would have a few weeks ago? Or even a shorter skirt? I am not sure.

But one thing I am pretty sure of.

I am going to stick with this!