Saturday, August 1, 2020

Cat and mouse

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

Jeoffry caught another mouse!

That sentence rings out with a sense of great joy. However when I actually perceived the event, it was not as joyous. A dead mouse in the house -- perhaps it is not as bad as a live mouse running around but it is still not pretty.

I was at the Steinway playing Johannes Brahms and suddenly my eyes began roaming the room and that was when I saw something by the radiator.

At first I was thinking, it is just one of Jeoffry's toys. He has several toys that look alarmingly real including a small brown fabric mouse and a big alarming-looking rat. Maybe it is that gross little toy mouse. That is what I said to myself as I continued playing the Brahms.

I decided to wait until the piece was over and so I did that. For the record this was the first Impromptu Op. 119. I like to run through the whole set. However on this occasion that was not to be.

After I played the last notes of that first impromptu I got up for an impromptu check on that mouse.

It sure looked real. 

It was real.

Jeoffry got up meowing. He likes to listen to music and he did not like that it had been interrupted. He should have thought of that in view of the mouse. Couldn't he have eaten it or something? Could he not have taken it somewhere else?

But now that I thought of it we had been warned. He had been obsessed with the area surrounding the radiator. He had even been sleeping there.

The things that cats know that we do not!

Meanwhile... it has quietly been five years since Jeoffry's first mouse -- at least the first mouse to our knowledge.

I wonder when we will find the next one!

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

The hottest Mass

I love summer. I love the clothes. I love being able to dress like a Moroccan and walk out of the house in sandals.


Today I went to the hottest Mass in my life!

I made a mistake and wore a long rayon dress. You think rayon is OK! But it is not. Its real name is Viscose. I learned that recently and I will never forget it. Still I thought, rayon is my friend, and because it was sleeveless I had a light cotton jacket to wear over it and ....

I got to church 15 minutes early because I wanted to go to Confession. Which, as usual, is a whole other story. I chose a pew and then I went to Confession and then I returned and knelt and began to say the prayers I had been assigned for my penance.

Then I started sweating.

What to do? What to do? The priest was still hearing confessions. Mass was overdue. How would I survive this? Here I was sweating in my Viscose gown and I had, what, an hour to go?

A fan was oscillating at the front of the church and I decided I would switch pews and park myself there.

I said a few of my Hail Marys and then I moved again a pew up because I realized that the social distancing cord that had blocked this pew off had fallen off. Also, moving up a pew moved me closer to the fan.

But I was still sweating!

Vicious Viscose!

Finally I thought: Mass has not even started yet. This is hopeless. And I got up once more. This time I went out to my car. I was going to leave. Then of course Catholic guilt took over. Other people were in the church and they were sweating it out.

Besides which, I had just been to confession which does not happen as often as it should and how often do I get to go to Communion after just having been to Confession? If you do not go to Communion after Confession that almost adds up to wasting a perfectly good Confession.

I took a drink of water and turned off the car engine and went back in.

By this time Mass had begun. We were at the Kyrie. I found a pew near the back so I would not make a spectacle of myself one more time. Also I wanted to be able to leave if I had to. I have to say, this was a record.

This was the fourth time I had switched pews in one single Mass!

But it ended well because fourth time's a charm and I was able to get through it.

That is a lesson you learn in life. You are always afraid to switch seats but what the heck, people will get over it. I did that I do not know how many times at Kleinhans Music Hall. One time I remember was in Mahler's "Das Lied von der Erde" where this couple in front of me was making out. I do not mind if you want to make out to Mahler but not in front of me. So I moved.

They will get over it. Repeat as needed.

End result, as we say here in Buffalo, I made it to Confession and Mass. When I got home, this is funny but I felt better. Everything felt less sticky. It was as if something had been corrected.I credited Mass.

I'm glad I sweated it out!

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Mystery on Forest Avenue

Today for my daily ink sketch I went driving around aimlessly looking for something and I wound up on Forest Avenue by the H. H. Richardson complex.

I mean I was at the Richardson complex! But I did not draw it. Instead I turned around on the bench where I sat and drew the brick building across the street. That is it up above! The picture so far is no great shakes but I am not yet through with it. I even had trouble taking a decent picture of it thanks to this strange big bright thing that appeared in the sky and was shining down. However, I will say this, that picture I drew does the job.

That is what I saw!

I think it comes from being a reporter and a music critic for so long but I love when I can look at a drawing I did and say that. Sometimes reviewing a concert, especially if the piece was new music, I did not want to give it a concrete thumbs up or thumbs down. So I would just tell myself, you do not have to be clever or have any great insights. Just say what you experienced. Say what it was like. That comes from being a reporter. That is what I do with drawing.

This building I drew, as you can see, it is kind of weird!

I have wondered about it forever. And while I was drawing, a stranger stopped by as strangers often do.

"What was that building?" I asked him.

He didn't know. Then he said, "Did you see the head?"

That's right ... there had been a head! A big head in front of a building -- was it this building? It was like out of that Russian opera "Ruslan and Ludmilla." In "Ruslan and Ludmilla" the big head appears in a forest and in Buffalo the big head appears on Forest Avenue. Surely somebody had that in mind. Anyway, there was a giant white Victorian head parked in front of some building on Forest and that was what this gentleman was talking about.

"I did see the head!" I exclaimed. "But not recently. Was it here?"

Neither of us could figure that out. But it turns out yes, here was where the head was. Online information is scant but I was able to learn that the head had been a replica of a decoration at the Pan-American Exposition in 1901. I sort of remembered that. Unfortunately the head was made of Styrofoam and so could not take our winters and fell apart.

Here is a picture of the head which is gone now. We lost our head!

But there is that building in the background, sure enough. So...

What was it?

It turns out it was a streetcar repair barn. It was built in 1895 and it was used for the Pan-Am trolleys, among other trolleys, I imagine.

I should have guessed. It is mammoth! And there are all these huge windows and doors.

Now it is owned by the Buffalo History Museum. It is a Resource Center but it reminds me of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory because nobody ever goes in ... and nobody ever goes out. That was always the case. I mean even before the pandemic.

This is why I draw.

You solve mysteries!

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Skies I have seen

The skies these days have been striking!

In that last picture I did not mean to showcase the sky.

 But just look at it!

Monday, May 11, 2020

The budget bar -- Quarantini, anyone?

One interesting thing about this, ahem, pandemic is that everyone is learning to make cocktails. I am no exception.

Today I went to Price Rite and did some shopping to stock the bar.  They had this brand of seltzer I had never heard of. It had the greatest brand name. Vintage!

Vintage Seltzer was only 25 cents a liter! So I bought I do not know how many. Luckily there was no limit on it as they are limiting all kinds of stuff, I think just to stress us out.

While I was selecting my seltzer ...

... people in masks were saying hello to me. I think it was because I looked so darn happy with this bargain I had found. One advantage to the Vintage Seltzer was it came in orange, which the Price Rite brand does not. However the Price Rite brand has grapefruit seltzer which I bought the other day because either the Vintage was not there or I did not notice it.

I also bought maraschino cherries. They had a beautiful brand name, Cherry Lane. They were something like $1.25 a jar.

The other day at Price Rite I bought lime juice. I know, I cannot stay away from Price Rite! I think it is because I am always being told to stay home and that makes me want to go out. You got to shop, you know?

Price Rite was almost empty today as you can see by this picture I took.

The emptiness must be because current norms and regulations have turned grocery shopping, which used to be fun, into something onerous and forbidding and to be dreaded. Who the heck wants to wear a mask, you know? I cannot breathe in mine. And it all looks so post-apocalyptic.

You have to keep your eyes on the prize! That cocktail at the end of the day. The Quarantini as it is called.

With the Vintage seltzer!

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Martha, Mary, and online Mass

Today being Sunday I got the trusty tablet and I heard Mass from St. John Cantius in Chicago. Remember, that was the church I went to that time where they gave me a holy card in the confessional.

I tuned in to this Mass last week and I liked it. It is live at 9:30 Chicago time, 8:30 Buffalo time. It is a Low Mass. There is a High Mass but it is something like noon, and that gives other things time to get in the way. One of these Sundays I will try the High Mass but today was not that day.

Instead I parked myself at the dining room table with the tablet. The Wi-Fi is good in there.

Everyone tells you to watch Mass online but it is easier said than done. Do you stand when you are supposed to? Do you kneel? How do you behave? I have decided the best thing to do is sit with my missal and I follow along. St. John Cantius is a huge and gorgeous church, rather like our dear departed St. Gerard's. I found myself just enjoying the pleasure of it all. It is actually a luxury to be able to follow along so carefully. At our usual in-person Mass I am so distracted by coffee hour and choir it is hard to think.

After all these years of being a Martha...

... I am turning into a Mary!

Mary is the one in the center of the picture at the top of this post. With her prayer book before her, like me.  I love the details and humor in the picture. The elaborate buffet in the foreground. The people eating in the other room. The birdcage! Of course there is a birdcage!

It's sweet how the artist captures St. Martha complaining about doing all the work and St. Mary just sitting there piously, having chosen the better portion. I always did have sympathy with Martha. Someone has to do the work. Also you have to remember that Martha is a great saint, as is Mary, and there is a high place in heaven for them both.

I did a little digging and the artist is a Renaissance German master, Georg Friedrich Stettner. I should have guessed German. We Germans, we love our food. And everyone in the picture looks German. I mean look at Mary, with her blond hair. I love the palette, the muted tones contrasting with that beautiful rich red. Nice work, Herr Stettner! Terrific job.

Back to my Low Mass. I am sitting there and Howard comes in to feed Jeoffry.

"Don't pay any attention to me," he said, getting on with his work.

So it was funny, all there was, was this silence. A Low Mass is quiet! There was nothing but silence and whispering and occasionally the tinkling of a bell. Once in a while a floorboard groaned.

Howard said, "I like the sound of this."

I did, too!

I can tell you what the Gospel was about. Go on, ask me. I know what the Secret Prayer was. I knew that it was the Fourth Sunday of Easter, alleluia, alleluia.

I miss being at actual Mass, that goes without saying. The situation can make me terribly uneasy when I think about it because I have not seen the like in my lifetime and I pray that when this is all over I never shall again.

But you cannot and should not ignore the blessings that are there!

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Birds of Buffalo

I went walking this morning in Delaware Park in a snowstorm. I do not care if it is May 9. It really did whip into a snowstorm. Welcome to Buffalo, kids!

It got so bad that I had to turn back. I was walking around Hoyt Lake and the water was thrashing around and the snow was blowing.


In the meantime I saw a couple of great birds!

From time to time on this Web log we confer about birds. Which is lucky! Because the first bird I saw was a fat little songbird, bright yellow with a touch of gray.

I thought: I do believe I have seen this bird before. Because I remembered writing about it here and headlining it "Yellow Bird."

Sure enough! And now I see it was an American Goldfinch.

That was six years ago. These birds do not appear too often!

Then I saw a bright orange bird! Considering we were in a snowstorm it was funny there were all these tropical-looking birds.

I was pretty sure the orange bird was a Baltimore Oriole, even though I had never seen one before. I just checked into it ...

... and yes, I can say pretty positively that it was. Here is something I did not know: Wikipedia says: "It received its name from the resemblance of the male's colors to those on the coat-of-arms of Lord Baltimore."

What does Lord Baltimore's coat of arms look like? Ah!

Lord Baltimore's coat of arms is incorporated into the flag of Maryland, home to the city of Baltimore. The things we are learning!

What about the Lady Baltimore Cake? There is a recipe in the Betty Crocker cookbook. I should bake one to celebrate.

But moving on...

When I got home my cat Jeoffry was fascinated by something out the back window. I looked over his shoulder and there was a cardinal! Not the tropical-looking male cardinal but the more subtle female, sitting on a wire.

Jeoffry was transfixed and so was I!

There is a funny meme going around about people stuck at home because of the virus. It shows people stuck at home watching the bird feeder and the cat -- an orange cat! -- thinking, "I told them it was cool."

It is! Cool. Especially today.

Has the snow stopped yet?

Sunday, April 19, 2020

The sunset tonight

I had to post this picture.

I was just getting ready to take a peek at the Metropolitan Opera's free opera tonight, which is "Der Rosenkavalier," and you know me and that opera. But suddenly out the window I saw these pink clouds.

All I could think of was, "And you will see the Son of Man coming on a cloud." However these were in the west, not the east.

In any case, beautiful!

I am always watching the sky. When I was a baby I would look for the moon in the sky in the middle of the afternoon. I would spot it. My mother remembered once I was saying "moon" and they thought they were not understanding me right. I was pointing at the sky.

And sure enough!

There was the moon, up in the blue sky.

Anyway, these clouds, this sunset.

They made my day!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Our wacky spring

We are having a wacky spring here in Buffalo! In addition to everything else.

I took the picture up above walking in Delaware Park a couple of hours ago.

When I got home I took this picture.

That was out my back window!

You know one thing, walking in the park I thought how much I was appreciating what I saw.

This is my time of year!

I like weird weather!

Midsummer ... I am child of the summer, born on June 1, but summer is not my time. It would be, maybe, if I lived somewhere else. I love swimming, I love summer clothes, I love being able to walk around in long dresses and sandals. However...

There is something about the brooding weather that I love. The silence. The freedom to be with your own thoughts. The mists.

I cannot help it!

With which we give you Prince, "Sometimes It Snows In April."

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

My new Buffalo coloring challenge

I love coloring books and the other day I came up with my first coloring page. And I dared to start a coloring challenge!

Everyone is sitting around because of the coronavirus and is in need of fun and games. So I found this drawing I did of Lance Diamond Way. Lance Diamond Way is on Elmwood Avenue at the corner of West Utica. Lance used to sing at the Elmwood Lounge there. The Elmwood Lounge is now called Milkie's after its current and legendary owner Mike Milkie. That was where I drew this picture, looking out across the street.

That was a beautiful afternoon. My friend Meghan was with me and Mike Milkie sat down with us and reminisced about Lance and other things. I drank a beer. It is all too rare that life slows down like that and you have time to chill.

However later that day I never bothered looking back at my sketchbook. I thought: I would never have chosen that view and I will never have use for what I drew. The angle was tough, I thought. Plus I was talking while I was drawing and that does not always work out.

However. Oddly enough over the next few weeks that picture became one of my favorites. I kept finding myself going back to it. And when I decided to try doing up a coloring page, I immediately went for this picture.

The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone!

I had to re-draw it by hand because the original had shadows and such. I will have to post it so you see what I mean. It is a huge contrast! But otherwise I made no changes. The truck, the workers unloading the truck, the car across the street, everything was as I had originally drawn it. I love that in a sketch. I love to look at it and say: That is what I saw.

My drawing is on Facebook, on the page Mary Kunz Goldman Sketches, in case anyone wants to download it and try it.

Meanwhile above -- at the top of this post -- is an interpretation in Crayolas by Ryan Lysarz .... and here is one by my sister Margaret Mills. Ryan and I have been marveling at how for some reason they shared something of the same color scheme.

Our friend the author and poet Anne Apfel also used colors in that family.

She intended it to depict shadows falling at twilight. Some friends on Facebook said it reminded them of Ludwig Bemelman's "Madeline" books. Now I have such a big ego!

It is fascinating to me, all the different directions a picture can take depending on who is coloring it. I knew this was going to be fun, but not this much fun.

The things people come up with, I cannot get over it! I will have to post more tomorrow because I do not want to let everything out of the bag all at once. Because everyone is having fun with it we are going to add a new picture every week.

I am thinking next summer when this virus thing is past, we can have a show.

We can sip white wine and look at everyone's creations and celebrate what we have wrought!

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Holy Thursday in quarantine

Today is the first Holy Thursday ever that I could not go to Mass.

I found myself looking back on Holy Thursday Masses past. When my mother was around I would go to Mass with her, usually to Christ the King, our home church. Those Masses were in English and since getting into the Latin Mass, my patience with it was sometimes short.

Now I think: I would like any Mass at this point!

I have thought sometimes in the last weeks that maybe this is what some of this is about, to make us grateful for what we have. There is something sinister and frightening about being denied it because of the Coronavirus.

People say, services are being streamed online, but for a Catholic it is not the same thing. You do not receive Communion. And that is just the first thing. When you go to a beautiful Mass it is so sensual. There is the aroma of the incense. The music -- maybe you are singing it, maybe you are listening to it, but it is all around you. There is the participation -- even at a Traditional Latin Mass, you kneel at a certain point, you stand, you kneel again -- It is all so beautifully choreographed. How are you to do that in your living room?

And in the last few years, I began visiting the Seven Churches on Holy Thursday. I miss that.

It is a strange custom, not unique to Buffalo but not that common either. You visit seven different churches after Mass on Holy Thursday and at each church there is Adoration, and there are other people, doing what you are doing, visiting, praying. The idea is, you keep this vigil with Jesus, because His disciples did not. Whatever the reasoning, it is insanely beautiful. You do not get home until midnight or something.

In the three years I have been visiting the Seven Churches it has become part of me, to the extent that I forget I did not grow up with it. One thing is the chant in the video I posted up above. It is called "Pange Lingua." We sing it at Mass on Holy Thursday and as you visit the Seven Churches sometimes it is playing. In any event it is playing in your head. You do not forget it.

Just listening to that chant, Pange Lingua, I mistakenly think it goes back to my childhood. It brings with it the feeling of Holy Thursday. The early spring. The mud, the puddles as you go from church to church. One year, I dropped my veil in a puddle. Leave it to me!

The feeling of spring in the air, the wet leaves. The end of Lent. You are sick of Lent, it has gone on forever, finally you are nearing the end.

Also on Holy Thursday, the Mass starts -- or in my experience it has started -- with the chant that leads off "The Sound of Music." When the curtain rises on "The Sound of Music," the chant Richard Rodgers used ... the chant we sing on Holy Thursday. Hahahaha... I interrupted the pre-Mass rehearsal a couple of years ago to say that. I said, "Guys! This is the chant that opens 'The Sound of Music'!" And everyone stared at me. LOL.

Gloria Patri et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

I miss this, when I cannot have it!

I think of all the churches we would have been visiting, deserted.

Next year, God willing, we will be back to normal!

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

The long and narrow sketchbook

Right before the Wuhan Flu curtailed my shopping, I went out to Hyatt, the great art supply store that happens to be just a couple of minutes from my house, and I bought a bunch of sketchbooks. That was smart, you know? Anyway, one of the sketchbooks was long and narrow.

It is Strathford and made of recycled paper. It is just cheap lightweight sketch paper and it cost $6 something.

This is turning into the best $6 something I ever spent in my life!

I am having so much fun with this sketchbook. When I bought it it was with the thought that it would make me see new possibilities in what was before my eyes. I would make it a game to find scenes that lent themselves to these new dimensions.

And it has worked out that way! It has been fun!

There are 50 sheets in the sketchbook and I think I have done 22 drawings so far. I have not torn one sheet out of the book, either. Not that I forbid myself to, it just has not happened.

Because the paper is so lightweight, or because I am not thinking commercially, I take a very relaxed approach with these drawings.

Here is the police radio station in Delaware Park.

I drew that yesterday. It was chilly but the sun was out. After that I sketched the little golf course kiosk, closed because of the virus. Notice now I have on gloves.

Then I thought I was going home but stopped to draw people hanging around outside the closed zoo, by the shuttered Cup & Cone.

The other day I drew the Cyclorama Building downtown. That is it at the top of the post!

 When I am through drawing something it is traditional for me to page through the whole sketchbook and review my work. I am doing more "serious" stuff in between these but I have to tell you this, these narrow sketches are a lot of fun.

I have done a million of them in Delaware Park. I had thought I had sketched everything there was to sketch in Delaware Park but this book opens up a lot of new possibilities. I'll have to post more of the Delaware Park pictures. There are about a dozen of them, I want to say.

I have done a lot of tall pictures too, not just long pictures. I can't wait to show them off.

I will have to do a Long and Narrow Sketchbook Tour!

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Remembering Kenny Rogers, and our 'O Holy Night' fight

I am distraught to hear that Kenny Rogers has died.

Here we are wanting good news and not bad news in the middle of this Coronavirus craziness and we get that, you know?

Kenny Rogers was a gentleman. I got to know him slightly the same way I got to know a lot of musicians slightly, in my line of work for The Buffalo News. He stands out in my mind as one of the very nice ones. Working for The Buffalo News you get a good look at people's true colors. They do not have to be especially nice to you. You are not The New York Times. And a star like Kenny Rogers is going to pull in an audience no matter what.

But Kenny was nice. He would be in my top 10. He was easy to talk to on the phone and he was a hoot at the Meet and Greet after the show. I wrote about it all, just for fun. Funny thing, I was just reading back on it a few weeks ago and cracking up. I did not know, when I was reading back on it, that Kenny Rogers was in hospice. I did not know he was sick. I really did not think about anything other than how funny all that was, when our paths crossed.

Here is my blow-by-blow account of the argument I had with Kenny Rogers over "O Holy Night."

Hahaa.. I even wrote: "Let me say this right now, Kenny Rogers is a doll and were it not for my religious convictions and the fact that I am already married to Howard, I would cheerily be his sixth wife. That is how much I liked him!"

Great fun. I have been blessed, you know? Just getting to know some of these people in the off-the-wall way that I have.

And to have written down the details, all these little things I would have forgotten otherwise.

Dear Kenny Rogers.

I will treasure the memories!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Coronavirus entertainment freebies

We need grand opera at a time like this! This is from the Met's "La Traviata," streaming free March 19.

The Coronavirus scare has spawned another phenomenon -- the Coronavirus freebie.

These are things of which you may partake at home.

Granted, there are already millions of things you can get free at home. YouTube is full of them -- old records, a universe of tutorials, old movies, documentaries, master classes, you name it. Master classes!! I will have to sit down at the piano and study one.

But above and beyond that...

There are free museum tours you take online. That link will take you to the British Museum, the Getty Museum, and a bunch more.

I tried touring the Van Rijk Museum and it taught me one thing: I need help going around corners!

Google Earth, I have to get with it!

The Met has a list of simulcasts which has begun with Bizet's "Carmen." Wow, just now I notice this is just the first week of streams. I wonder how long this will go on!

What if you watched all of them, one every night? Imagine how knowledgeable you would be! Perhaps I will try. "Carmen" actually aired last night but I read they will be available free for 20 hours following that original stream.

OK, quick update... My attempt to do that is a bust. There home page is just not working.

Crudele, as they say in "Don Giovanni"! It means Cruel One.

Well, you can always find tons of free operas on YouTube, many with English subtitles. I should post a link to my favorites. Meanwhile, on to other options.

Libby Maeder, who runs the famous foodie Web log The Sensibly Shod Commoner, posted on Facebook yet another option, 15 Broadway Plays and Musicals You Can Watch on Stage From Home.

However as I pointed out to her, I do not see the magic word -- "free." Sure enough, I looked into "Kiss Me Kate" which they said was available on Amazon Prime but even if you have Amazon Prime, you have to rent or buy it.

Still, this is promising. I am going on Coronavirus Freebie Alert. Eyes on the prize! I am looking for free online courses, free quality old movies that you cannot find on YouTube or Amazon Prime, free Pac-Man, free everything.

I also need a quality Latin Mass that is live-streaming now that I have been cut off. I am sure I can find that along with everything else.

I will report!

Monday, March 16, 2020

Sanitize, memorize

Coronavirus is among us and we are in lockdown. Well, there is nowhere we may go but to the park, which I did today, taking the picture up above, of my quick sketch of the Parkside Lodge.

Not only that but it is necessitating us to wash our hands for an interminable length of time. And my sister Katie came up with the idea that we should memorize poetry and use that time to practice it.

I love memorizing poetry. And it is easier than when I was a kid, far easier. A couple of years ago I memorized Yeats' "The Fiddler of Dooney" and it is still with me. I learned it because I was writing a story about the St. Patrick's Day Parade and there is a float in it that reads "And Dance Like the Waves of the Sea."

I also memorized Edna St. Vincent Millay's poem that goes, "We were very tired, we were very merry, we had gone back and forth all night on the ferry." I forget the name. Isn't that silly, I know the poem, every word of it, I can recite it beautifully at the drop of a dime, but I did not bother to memorize the name. But anyway I know it.

The memorizing of that poem dates to when I had to write a story about staying out in a bar till 4 a.m. That and the St. Patrick's Day parade story were both part of that series I wrote for The Buffalo News called "100 Things Every Western New Yorker Should Do At Least Once." It sounds dumb now but I took that series very seriously. I took the series seriously, get it? I would walk around thinking about the one I was working on. My editor gave me this long list of 100 Things and miraculously I was able to fit them all in, on a weekly basis, in something like 102 weeks. It was tricky because so many were seasonal and I had to bring a photographer. But we made it work!

These 100 Things would percolate in my mind and sometimes I would memorize a poem. That is funny, the Edna St. Vincent Millay poem, whenever I say it to myself, it brings back that time when I did indeed go out -- with my friend Ryan and my friend Lizzie -- and stay out till after 4 a.m. We were very tired, we were very merry! That is the truth.


With which, my sister suggested we memorize poems so we may utilize that time we are spending washing our hands. I have just memorized Edward Lear's "The Owl and the Pussycat."

I already knew half of it so it was not that hard. One thing that makes it easier is that every time I see someone with a ring in his or her nose -- which is often -- I think of the Piggy with the ring at the end of his nose.

Next I will move on to "The Courtship of the Onghi Bonghi Bo."

This lockdown may be long!

Friday, March 13, 2020

Through the Presbyterian looking glass

Today I stopped in my day and did a quick sketch of this massive, fortress-like edifice that used to be Central Presbyterian Church. It is in Buffalo's Parkside neighborhood.

It is funny, the things right in your own back yard that you pass a million times and never look at! This was one of them. Since I have been drawing I notice so much more. A few weeks ago I stopped for the first time in my life and noticed this place. I said out loud, "What in the world?"

It is so huge!

What I drew was just a back corner!

When I got home I looked this church up on one of our Buffalo architecture websites. I did not know what the name of it was because it is a school now. I found out the name and I learned that when it was built in 1911, it was the biggest Presbyterian church "east of the Mississippi," and that the architect was one Williams Lansing, who was very distinguished.

Lansing, it turns out, also designed Holy Family Church, where I was baptized. And a whole lot of other buildings, many of them churches, both Catholic and Protestant. He himself was Episcopalian. He was one of the founding members of Buffalo's Canoe Club. He is buried in Forest Lawn near the famous Fargo plot which I pass many times while walking. Listen to me! I am now the clearinghouse for all things Williams Lansing. I am a fan!

Looking up something like this is dangerous because you go down the rabbit hole and can waste hours if you are not careful. I was also fascinated by the history of this church;s erstwhile congregation. There is this one article by James Napora -- fascinating all the way through, but I will just mention for starters the nicknames.

Organized as the Pearl Street Presbyterian Church, they quickly erected a log meeting house on the west side of Pearl Street just north of Genesee Street. Built at a cost of $300, the building contained over 500 seats for a congregation of only thirty-five. It became known as the "ecclesiastical blacksmith shop" as it resembled a large blacksmith shop.

The congregation grew rapidly and within two years, with almost 200 members, they built a new church. Modeled after the Parthenon, it had an oval interior lit by a stained glass skylight. This feature earned it the nickname of "goose egg church."

From the Ecclesiastical Blacksmith Shop to the Goose Egg Church!

And we are not through yet.  A few paragraphs later you read that "between 1849 and 1851, the congregation now numbering 475, worshiped in the basement church referred to as 'Dr. Lord's Icehouse.' "

Dr. Lord was a person in town. He was not the Lord. Just to clear up any confusion.

What a history! How could anyone do it justice?

When I go back to this place I'd better bring my big drawing board.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

The buzz about Candlemas

Today at church we finally got Candlemas right.

It is not easy, getting Candlemas right! Not only is it not easy, it is a journey. A long journey. Looking back on the time the incense burner snapped I find it hard to believe that six years have passed.

There were other unsuccessful Candlemases too. But they are none of your beeswax.

Beeswax, get it?

I could not help that!

Not for nothing did I write that column The Buzz for so many years in The Buffalo News.

This morning we all went up to the communion rail at the start of mass and were given candles. Beeswax candles with a wonderful aroma.

It was breathtaking to see more and more candles lighted. After a while you extinguished them, and then you lighted them again, and then you extinguished them, and then you lighted them. They were lit for the Consecration. How beautiful that was, a couple of hundred people kneeling there with lighted candles. I could not get over it.

Not only that but as they blessed the candles at the start of Mass the Latin prayers translated to this, which I am cutting and pasting:

O holy Lord, almighty and eternal God, who didst create all things out of nothing, and by Thy command didst cause this liquid to come by the labor of bees to the perfection of wax ...

 My friend Meghan and I were following along in her missal and it seems the translation there was even better. However I will have to go and find it. The reason I was reading her missal was that mine was over in the social hall somewhere. I left it there while setting up the coffee hour and when I went flying over to church trying to get there in time, I could not find it and had to leave it behind.

The hurry was worth it. What a great experience. The priest even mentioned in his sermon that today is 02-02-20. It is a palindrome which means it reads the same backwards as forwards. I had read about that yesterday but had he not brought it up, it would have slipped my mind. You must enjoy something like that on the actual day or it is not as much fun.


It rhymes with "Et cum spiritu 2-0."

A most magical day!



Thursday, January 16, 2020

Roux-ing the day

It is funny considering how long I have been cooking, but today I made my first roux.

At least I think it was. I do not think I ever made a roux before. It is noux to me!

I was getting ready to make dinner, and I had a recipe planned out of the new Eating Well magazine. But all of a sudden I found this recipe for Gumbo Zeb in this vegetarian cookbook I had, by the hippie cookbook writer Crescent Dragonwagon. And I had to make it.

These things are unplanned, you know? It looked so onerous, this roux, and this spice blend, and this vegetable saute, and the rice, and what else? It seems there was one more thing. Oh, right, the pot of greens. There is that too. It was amazingly onerous and yet all of a sudden you are into it.

And it came together. I think it is coming together anyway.

It is still simmering on the stove. On three different burners.

I will have to report!

I am not exactly vegetarian so at the end of the recipe I am going to add shrimp. And maybe some sausage.I am not sure yet.

I do like trying different things. Last night I did an Eating Well recipe with roasted broccoli over pasta. I took liberties. I added roasted cauliflower to the broccoli because I did not have quite enough broccoli. I added anchovies because Howard and I both love them.

But at the end, I loved it. It reminded me of how I used to eat. Before I was married I made a lot of these slapdash vegetarian dishes. You get a husband, all of a sudden you have to add bacon to everything. Before that you do not.

Now, as long as all goes as planned, I will know how to make gumbo with roux. As opposed to gumbo with okra, the way I always made it.

It all made me remember fondly Bill Wharton, the Sauce Boss. That is a poster of him up above! He used to come to the Lafayette Tap Room and my friends and I would go.

The Sauce Boss would make a huge pot of gumbo on stage and at the end of the night you would eat it. Meanwhile you would assist in the preparation of it. It was a tremendous gimmick and my hope is that it is going on till this day.

You would get up on stage with your friends looking on and you would stir the gumbo with great pomp and circumstance, as the band played. Then you would hop down and resume drinking your beer.

Such fun!

The gumbo would be served at about 2 a.m. if memory serves me. And it was good!

I wonder if mine will be as good tonight.

I can only hope!!

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

The oldest houses in Buffalo

Today my friend Meghan and I went out drawing in Allentown. We stopped in a coffee shop where we found a good view of the city's oldest houses.

Buffalo's oldest houses sit on Allen Street one after another. There are three in a row, maybe more but I have always considered these three the oldest. I drew two of them. There they are up above.

As I worked I had to come to terms with an uncomfortable truth.

Pretty as the houses are, and old as they are, what really interested me was the "Do Not Enter" sign and the fire hydrant.

I am still a young enough artist that the bends in the street still amaze me. Every time I sketch a scene like this one, I cannot get over the scale of the houses that stretch down the street. I have to be very careful as I go forward. Those houses around the corner, they take up only a few millimeters beneath the eave of the house on the corner.

That is incredible!

I keep holding up my pen, checking, marveling.

Only when I got it down did I let myself sketch in the "Do Not Enter" sign.

Cool things to look at are everywhere. When I was taking a break I stopped in the coffee shop's restroom. and I saw this:

You have to wonder how many beers went into that logo.


And earlier today I took this picture of Jeoffry in his holder.

So many images.

So little time!

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Snowbound with Ferrante and Teicher

Today to Howard's and my astonishment we sold the second record in a week from our record shop on Etsy, The Old House Downtown.

We sold a lot over Christmas but after Christmas Day you would think it would die down, the world not being privy to the fact that Christmas actually extends until Candlemas which is Feb. 2.

Perhaps the world is privy to the fact!

One record we sold had a Christmas theme, sort of. It was Ferrante and Teicher's "Snowbound."

That video is all well and good however the art is distorted. The record cover in reality is beautiful.

I will tell you one thing, listening to that YouTube recording I am bitterly regretting selling that record.

"Snowbound ... we're snowbound ...." That is amazing. Alas, the record I sold looked so perfect that I did not want to listen to it and maybe scratch it or something.

Anyway, now I am hoping.

Perhaps people are celebrating Christmas into January!

Perhaps they still have their trees lighted, as I do, and they were listening.

We have the art store on Etsy and that is the one I have been paying the most attention to. But I would like to make the record store a success too. On account of it can dovetail with the book about Leonard Pennario. If I run the world's most successful record shop that adds to my cred.

I will tell you one thing, I have learned a lot from being a record dealer. That was how I thought of it when I worked for The Buffalo News. I would leave after a long day at work and then remember my alter ego, as a record dealer. It was fun to switch gears.

And you learn a ton dealing in records. I love Capitol Records because that was Leonard's label, and face it, it was the coolest label. Founded by Johnny Mercer, need we say more?

But I also love the other labels at the time and the records they made. When I list one I will look up information about the artists involved, and the artists who designed the covers -- because of all my years at The Buffalo News, I learned to turn over rocks. You learn so much. When a big album of Leonard's came out, it is fascinating to see the world it entered. Who else was recording what. What else was going on.

Records are the greatest. I wish I had kept "Snowbound"!

Monday, January 6, 2020

Little Christmas

Today was Epiphany, affectionately known as Little Christmas, and I went this evening and heard Mass.

I not only heard it, I sang it!

Not that it was easy. There was this 10th century Credo we sing that, the whole time I am singing it, all I can think of is skiing down a tricky hill, not that I have ever skied down a tricky hill but if I did this is what it would be like.

There is always something that makes you pray, "O God, let me not blow it."

And there is likely a time when you do blow it. That is a whole other story.

This Mass I have to admit was an uphill climb starting when on the way up to the choir loft, I ran into our youngest singer who is 12. And she told me, "Your veil is upside down."

Only I could wear a veil upside down!

But it is all worth it in the end. We ended Epiphany Mass with -- what else? -- "We Three Kings."

Someone else really should write an Epiphany carol because this one really has the stage to itself. However it was beautiful as we sang it. I sang alto, a part I learned on the fly at Sunday Mass yesterday. It was me and the 12-year-old and six kids in their 20s.

One gift I have is the most important vocal gift of all, and that is the gift of watching the director. I did that and was able to make up for that I had missed whatever rehearsal it was where they had covered this hymn. It was honestly giving me shivers. It was that beautiful. The guys came in one by one and sang solo the verses the Kings sing ... "Myrrh bring I, its bitter perfume..." And we all hummed our parts.

It made me think of Christmas Eve. At Midnight Mass we sang "Silent Night" as the procession was beginning the Mass. I happened to turn and look over my shoulder from the choir loft and the scene was so transfixing, I could not look away. The altar boys, the cross, the incense.

Today we also reprised "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming," in Latin of course. The alto part is magical in that. 

This Christmas has been unique in my life. One reason I will remember it is for the singing. How enchanting it was. The last-minute rehearsal on Dec. 23. The "O Magnum Mysterium" at 1 a.m at Midnight Mass. This beautiful Three Kings mass. The medieval chants that are like skiing down a tricky hill.

We were given holy water and blessed chalk and for the first time in my life, when I got home I did as I was directed and I sprinkled the rooms in the house with holy water, said prayers, and took the chalk and wrote over the door, "2020 + C + M + B + 2020." The letters stand for Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar. That is their portrait up above on the cover of Success Magazine -- where they belong, being kings. If the Three Kings do not deserve to be on the cover of Success, who does?

We are blessed!

Sunday, January 5, 2020

West Side story: Sketching Holy Angels

I hate New Year's
What's wrong with the old one?
Who could ever hold one?

Our great friend the cabaret artist Guy Boleri penned those immortal lines in his musical version of "A Christmas Carol." Scrooge sings them.

Much as I love Guy's musical, I am no Scrooge. I love Christmas and I love New Year's.

Resolutions? I am full of them!

One is to write in this Web log every day in 2020.

Another is to sketch every day.

OK, with both resolutions I think I will make it six at least out of every seven days. Because there will be one day once in a while when you just cannot get to it and then you do not want to bog down.

But so far on the sketch front I am doing pretty much perfectly!

I have gone out every day in 2020, minus one because it was impossible. And I sketched the last three days of the old year as well.

One thing I drew was Holy Angels Church, pictured above, on Buffalo's West Side.

Now I will sound like my old Web logger self and point out that this was Leonard Pennario's church when he was a boy. And when he came back to Buffalo in the last year of my life and I met him, he asked to go back to the church and have a look. We did that.

Pennario had his moment and gazed at Holy Angels. He said, "She looks beautiful."

That is an old-fashioned thing that I love. Ships and churches are feminine and so are a lot of other things.

My great-uncle Andrew, the Rev. Andrew Kunz, was treasurer of the order of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (Pennario always referred to them by that full formal name) and was at Holy Angels for something like 50 years starting in 1905 or thereabouts.

All these things were in my head as I sketched. So was F. Scott Fitzgerald who also went to Holy Angels School, for a little while anyway. I kept thinking of him, of Leonard, of my Uncle Andrew.

I also brooded about Holy Angels closing. It is scheduled to close next year, I mean this year. What a crying shame. I am glad it was still open when Pennario went looking for it. So I thought about that too.

Then gradually as happens, all the thoughts fell away and all I thought of was shadows and angles. That is a wonderful thing about drawing. Your mind gradually clears of everything except what you are working on.

Here is a photo I took when I was through in case I needed to refer to it. I try to remember to do that when I am folding up and getting ready to go home. The sun finally came out!

After drawing all week I can say that the sun has been out during that time for all of 10 minutes, total. This is bogus, you know? I can see why John Singer Sargent liked to work in Italy. I tried to get the sun in there when it came out. You always have to work fast because it will not be there long!

That happened again to me today, the sun coming out late and just for a bit, when I was drawing a shopping strip with a hair place and a halal market. Buffalonians can try guessing where I was. I think I will post that one tomorrow.

This is my year!

I will be unstoppable!