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?