Fake Out

September 30th, 2016

Tree with big lips in woods near Durand Eastman

Peggi reads everything by Stephen King. I read only his “On Writing.” I experience King through the movies and Peggi keeps reminding me that the book is so much better. Except in the case of “The Shining.” I guess they got that one right. But I hear Stephen King didn’t like it. We just finished watching the eight part “11/22/63,” something we rented from Netflix, and we were telling John Gilmore about it. He told us his Kennedy assignation story.

He was in band class in the first trumpet seat. The teacher and band leader was forever banging his baton on the lectern trying to bring order to the class. When he announced the president had just been shot, John assumed it was a ploy to get the kids to behave so he shouts, “Fake Out!” The teacher orders him out of the class and he never played trumpet again.

Free Range Conversation

September 29th, 2016

Dogwood fruit on Dewberry in Rochester, New York

The dogwood tree by our bedroom window had a rough summer. It hardly ever rained and we didn’t water it. It is already losing its leaves and instead of turning a beautiful red it just went brown. This tree on Dewberry Street must have an arborist as a caretaker or maybe it’s all the sunshine.

We took my mom down to the lobby of the Friendly Home where we had a cup of black coffee and clinked our plastic cups to National Coffee Day. We looked at old family pictures on my iPad. I have to skip over some because my mom starts to cry. Shirley Zimmer, a high school classmate of mine and a member of the Pittsford Art Group, was hanging her pictures in the gallery so we chatted with her for a while. She has a series of paintings there of funky motels, many from the Adirondack Mountains.

One of the residents in my mom’s place has a way of weaving me into her life. I start by just saying hello to her and then she has me responsible for not letting her go to her room or today, she had me in charge of the next bell choir performance. Earlier this week I looked up one of her relatives, someone she was referring to in a free ranging conversation. His name was Henry Ward Morgan and I showed her the entry I found. She said he was her grandfather and she read every word on the page. Before I could get my iPad back I had become one of his descendants, a member of her family on a part of the tree that has long since departed this world.

End Of The Line

September 28th, 2016

Rochester Subway movie at the Little Theater in Rochester, New York

At one time Rochester was the smallest city in the country with a subway system. Most of the lines were above ground so it was more of a streetcar system but it sure looked cool in the movie we saw at the Little Theater tonight. It was screened in Theater 1 and we almost didn’t get in. It was sold our so we put our names on a wait list and then spotted the director, Fred Armstrong, who told us about a couple of seats up in the balcony, the best seats in the house. This movie is twenty years old and was narrated by Walter Dixon. All the old-timers featured in the movie are dead and it made me realize how lucky we are that this history was preserved in film.

My father would talk about the subway all the time. How he’d take it to the end of the line with his family and his dad would go in to a bar there while he went swimming with his sisters. They had a great panel discussion after the movie with the directors, a city councilman and a state transportation engineer and a couple of guys from the The New York Museum of Transportation. They would have you believe the streetcar is still viable and could be in our future.

Real Slow And Real Low

September 25th, 2016

Stick bug on 8x11.5 inch paper

The stick bug, pictured above against an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper to show scale, dropped on my head as I was reading the morning paper on our deck. I thought it was a leaf or something and brushed it off. It fell on the paper, I brushed it on the floor and then it climbed up our window. How could something this big hang on to a sheet of glass? I looked them up and they are mostly found in tropical climates, similar to Rochester’s this summer.

The Flash are in the playoffs and I am very happy about that. They beat Boston last night and secured a spot in the finals. We couldn’t watch the match live because we had to go to the premier of “Danny Says,” a funny movie about an unlikely tastemaker, talent scout and influential magazine editor. Someone who broke John Lennon’s claim to be bigger than Jesus and helped break the Doors, the Stooges and the Ramones.

Every summer I rake the stones on our lawn back into the driveway where they were until I shoveled them onto the lawn with the snow in the winter. And each summer I ask my brother if he might have time to pour a concrete driveway. He always says he can but then he gets too busy with his stone work and another year goes by. Today he stopped by in his black, ’69 Vet. I could hear him coming, real slow down the street but with a real low purr. He took some measurements and drew a few curves on a piece of paper. It might happen.

Today’s Walk

September 22nd, 2016

Jared and Didrick near pond

There was a frog in the pool with us this afternoon, a young energetic frog. I tried catching him with the skimmer but he would see me coming and dive deep. He was doing a perfect frog kick, propelling himself out of my reach with a couple strokes. I did manage to trap him under the skimmer and I slid it up along the side of the pool onto the deck where Peggi trapped him with a bucket. We took the frog down to our neighbor’s pond and let him loose in there.

My father got a summons for jury duty in yesterday’s mail. We sent it back and noted that he is deceased. I remember him telling a story of a jury he was on for many weeks where someone was suing a doctor. I can’t remember now whether the doctor was found guilty. He told the story a few times and it was one of those where I would find myself thinking, “Why does he find this story so interesting?” That thought overwhelmed his story so I don’t really know how it came out.

Jared’s cat, Didrick, above, is a lover not a fighter. At this point, he is the oldest cat in the neighborhood and we have never seen him fight, not even with the stray barn cats that slink around. He started out living in a different house but he spent most of his time at Jared’s so when those people moved they gave the cat to Jared. He doesn’t even bother the goldfish in Jared’s pond. Sammy, Louise and Matthew’s cat, who lived next door until a few years ago, could not quite figure Didrick out. We used to watch those two confront each other in our yard. We are feeding Sammy while her owners are away. She is exactly one mile away, pretty much as the crow flies, through the woods. Today’s walk.

Chicken Goes To College

September 20th, 2016

Rochester skyline from Cobbs Hill

I had never heard of “Cornell Chicken” but our neighbors had. Rick and I were playing horseshoes and he told me the Cornell Cooperative Extension on St. Paul Boulevard was doing their annual chicken barbecue. He asked if we wanted him to pick up a couple of dinners. We didn’t have any dinner plans so I gave him twenty bucks and he took off. He called about ten minutes later to say he was a night early.

By the following night he had already told the neighbors down the street about the Cornell Chicken so he picked up six servings of chicken, boiled potatoes and corn and we ate on their new porch. You may know that Rick and Monica traded houses with the young couple who lives across the street from us. We listened to Duane’s “Crucial Roots Chapter 2 Dub and Circulate” and the dinner conversation swung from corporal punishment in Catholic schools to recreational drugs. Close calls and busts but mostly funny. War stories for a certain set. One of the group is from Jamaica and another via Puerto Rico but the stories are all the same because we are all about the same age.

As far as I can tell Cornell Chicken is salty and fairly dry but it has a nice barbecue flavor.

We stopped up to see my mom today and decided to do our day’s exercise up at Cobb’s Hill. We walked around the reservoir a few times interrupting a women’s exercise group in the main building each time we circled. And we stopped to watch a couple of City employees unlock the gate and go inside the reservoir with a long handled net. They came out with a pair of white, high-top running shoes. Someone had thrown them in our drinking water.

Go Bills

September 18th, 2016

Buffalo Bills inflatables in front yard of house on Avondale in Rochester, New York

You gotta stay up really late to hear DJ SinMin’s way cool “File Under Popular” show on WAYO. Either that or get up really early on a Saturday morning. I got an email that Jack would be playing some Personal Effects, Invisible Idiot and Margaret Explosion this week so we tuned in. He picked some pretty cool tracks and I was kind of blown away by how well “Bring Out The Jazz,” “Suitcase of Beer,” “1969” and “OK Corral” fit together considering they spanned about thirty years of bands Peggi and I have played in.

ESPN2 broadcast the US Women’s friendly with Thailand. It was Heather O’Reilly‘s last match with the national team and they gave her a great send off. She played well too but that is a given. She is my all-time favorite player. But the announcers spent way too much time talking about Megan Rapino kneeling for the national anthem. We almost turned off the sound but we didn’t want to miss any Heather tidbits.

As most people know, a soccer match is divided into two 45 minutes halves and the play is virtually uninterrupted. There are fouls and penalties, of course, but the clock doesn’t stop and the station can’t cut away to a commercial. It’s perfect. When the match was over, we tried switching to the Bill’s game. There they cut away every time the ball changes hands. And the play itself comes in tiny bursts of action. We gave it try. We can’t do it.

White Comet

September 16th, 2016

65 Mercury Comet at Vic's Place in Rochester, New York

I knew we would meet the owner of this 1965 Mercury Comet inside Vic’s Place. In fact, we sat right next him at the counter and struck up a conversation right away. I started by asking him if his hood had blown off. He said, “No, everyone asks to see the engine so I just leave the hood home.” He told us there is a vintage car show every night of the week around Rochester. In fact he rattled them off and recommended the one at the Shriner’s place on Bay Road tonight. You can get a good fish fry there too.

We were out riding bikes this morning, in and out of all the little neighborhoods that back up to the lake in Sea Breeze. We’ve been keeping our eye out for a house for Brandon at the Friendly Home. We saw an old campaign sign that read, “America Against Obama 2012” and a few new ones for Trump. “Repeal the Safe Act” signs often accompany the Trump signs. There was also one that read, “Veterans and Military Families for Hillary” and then one that read, “2016 We’re Doomed.”

We stopped at Vic’s Place for lunch. I know Duane will be jealous if he reads this. We usually save our visits until he comes to town. It’s a pretty heavy lunch. Peggi had a grilled cheese and fries and I went with a white hot and onion rings. A guy came in with a t-shirt that read “Shoot Them All and Let God Sort Them Out.” I had not seen one of those since the Viet Nam days and this guy was too young for that. Most of the people who eat here are pretty unhealthy looking. I watched a guy come in with a crooked walk. He sat nearby and ordered, “3 Texas.” Three! I couldn’t imagine. Around here the choice is “Porker” (what I had) or “Texas.”

We continued down to the lake and stopped amidst a sea of twenty something Pokeman zombies. We were watching the boats come into the public dock when a woman called for help. She was trying to pull a man from the water. I went over and helped her get him out. She told me he wanted to feel the water but then slipped in. I asked how he liked the water and the woman said “he can’t hear, see or speak.” As we rode away I was wondering how she knew he wanted to feel the water.


September 14th, 2016

Canoe in Braddock Bay near of Rochester, New York

It was supposed to rain today and it didn’t. Just the way it has been going. We are still in a drought. Not that it has affected our garden. There is plenty of water from the hose and we’re only a mile or so from a Great Lake. Our plants have been loving all this sun and we have more produce than ever. We’re overeating to keep up with it all.

This summer’s record heat has driven us to the water. We rode bikes out Edgemere Drive where this photo was taken and down to the bay where Seneca Road dead ends at the Newport Yacht Club. We’ve been to Sea Breeze, Summerville and Charlotte more times than ever.

Today we rode through the park, along Lakeshore and then up Oakridge to Titus where we stopped at the library. I checked out “Kill ‘Em and Leave,” the new James Brown biography. I’m hoping its as good as “Buck Em,” the Buck Owens autobiography. Matthew let me borrow that one and I zipped through it. Who knew the star of Hee Haw had near perfect pitch and a photographic memory. His band used to play 14 hour sets. No break at all. And he juggled women.

The water in our pool has dropped to 75 degrees. In yesterday’s 85 degrees it felt great but the temperature dropped today. I’m hoping this dream doesn’t end too soon.

Bleak & Funny

September 11th, 2016

Lydia Lunch at Abilene in Rochester, New York

I wish this Kinky Friedman poster didn’t have to be in every shot I take at Abilene but I’m digressing already. Lydia Lunch returned to the town she grew up in and took charge of the place. She stopped her performance, the way Joni Mitchell did her when she played with Bob Dylan, and pointed her fingers at a bunch that were talking loudly at he bar and told them to shut the fuck up! And they did. Like I said, she takes charge.

She recited and read over low volume ambient tracks, Sonic Youth-like rumblings or free jazz, but she sounded best when she killed that and went solo. She has not changed in all these years and her bleak but funny world view seems more pertinent than ever. She was riveting.

Phil Marshal followed Lydia with a different band from his last appearance. Same drummer of course, his son Roy, but Dave Arenas on stand-up bass and Mike Kaupa on trumpet. We had heard Kaupa in a trio setting at the Little. The band was doing standards but Kaupa is such a great player you can’t take your ears off him. He sounded fantastic with Phil sampling his lines, playing them back and then playing on top of it all. This band spun Phil’s songs in a looser, rich and deep fashion, a picture big enough to feature Rick Petrie’s poetry in a few pieces. A most rewarding night.

Riding First Class On The Titanic

September 11th, 2016

Nathan Lyons outside Spectrum Gallery in Rochester, New York

I took this photo of Nathan Lyons a few years ago. He had some work in group show at Lumiere Gallery. I’ve been a fan of his for a long time. He used to teach a summer workshop at Visual Studies and I toyed with taking that for years. I heard him talk at his most recent book release and I was kicking myself for never taking his workshop. He brought so much more to the table than what meets the eye with his work. He used his photos to tell bigger stories than the image by constructing diptychs and series and uniting whole collections in books that read like great American novels. Somehow I thought this kindred spirt would be around forever.

Eat Your Weeds

September 7th, 2016

Abandoned Crescent Beach Hotel on Edgemere Drive in Rochester, New York

It is our turn again for pool duty. Someone on the street needs to be in charge so we rotate two week long stints. Duties include; skimming the surface if leaves or bugs are prevalent, making sure the bottom is free of fallen particulates, back washing if the pump filter is full, adding water if the level is low, watering the flowers if they need it and making sure the cover is on at night. Nothing overwhelming. Most days Reggie nothing more than a glance.

One of the ancillary duties could be weeding the cracks between the sidewalk panels but I usually keep an eye out even if we’re not on duty and especially now that I have discovered the delicacy that is purslane.

We first had it as an appetizer at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. We were there to celebrate our nephew’s graduation from Columbia Law School. His brother, a celebrated chef in his own rite, had picked the place partly because he wanted to check it out and also because his mom was picking up the tab. That was a few years ago and purslane is now everywhere. I found some in a bunch of parsley that I bought at Wegmans. It is a succulent of sorts. It likes moisture and heat and the tiny leaves have volume as they hold water. We still weed it. but instead of tossing it over the fence we eat it.

It is our turn again for pool duty. Someone on the street needs to be in charge so we rotate two week long stints. Duties include; skimming the surface if leaves or bugs are prevalent, making sure the bottom is free of fallen particulates, back washing if the pump filter is full, adding water if the level is low, watering the flowers if they need it and making sure the cover is on at night. Nothing overwhelming. Most days Reggie nothing more than a glance.

One of the ancillary duties could be weeding the cracks between the sidewalk panels but I usually keep an eye out even if we’re not on duty and especially now that I have discovered the delicacy that is purslane.

We first had it as an appetizer at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. We were there to celebrate our nephew’s graduation from Columbia Law School. His brother, a celebrated chef in his own rite, had picked the place partly because he wanted to check it out and also because his mom was picking up the tab. That was a few years ago and purslane is now everywhere. I found some in a bunch of parsley that I bought at Wegmans. It is a succulent of sorts. It likes moisture and heat and the tiny leaves have volume as they hold water. We still weed it but instead of tossing it over the fence we eat it.

Tall Tales

September 7th, 2016

John and Fran Dodd with heavy equipment on Labor Day

My brother, Fran, is a mason. He is the best around so he works all the time, most holidays but not Labor Day. He had a good bit of our family at his place for a picnic, Francis style. His back porch is covered in leftover culture stone. A stone barbecue takes centerstage in his backyard. It’s topped with big pieces of slate. A large worktable constructed with metal scaffolding and thick wooden planks sits off to the side.

Fran wears Home Depot work gloves as he mans the grill. He soaks the corn, husks on, in a giant plastic tub, something you’d see at a work site. He gets his car from a farm down the road. It has been picked only hours ago. It is so moist and sweet it would a crime to put anything on it. He told us when he works late he just calls the farm stand and asks them to put a few ears in their mailbox so he could pick it up on his way home. Fran makes better ribs than any of the Barbecue joints.

My sister, Amy, made raspberry tarts like the ones my mom used to make. While we had those with ice cream my siblings shared stories of disjointed but moving conversations they’ve had with the residents at our mom’s place, the newest members of our extended family. Each tale more delightful than the next.

No Lie

September 5th, 2016

Local peaches at Aman's Market in Rochester, New York

My watch can be a little annoying, like when I’m riding my bike and I get a prompt to “work on my stand goal.” But yesterday I went through the express line at Wegman’s where a really young kid with a floppy afro was cashiering and with my wrist in the air I asked if he was familiar with Apple Pay. He said “just point your watch at the keypad” so I did and that was that. I was on my way.

We could hear a drum and bugle corps practicing while we were reading the Sunday paper. The high school is a few miles away but when the breeze is right you can hear the unison snares soaring over the woods. The school is right next to Wegmans so we rode back to the football field where the Buccaneers of Reading Pennsylvania were practicing for the big Labor Day competition at Rhinos Stadium. This is a lot more than snare drums. It’s like a musical marching army.

We had some peaches for dessert the other night and I said something about how good the local ones are and our friend, Jeff, told us a worker at a farm stand near him said “a late frost damaged all the peaches in New York State and if someone tells you they’re local, they’re lying.” Well, Aman’s Market is just down the road from the high school so we stopped in there next. We bought some more peaches and some prune plums. I planned on asking the owner if his peaches were really from Hamlin as the sign says but he wasn’t in. I’m ready to give them the benefit of the doubt. They don’t take Apple Pay though.

In The Pink

September 5th, 2016

Anne Havens artwork at Colleen Buzzard's studio Rochester, New York 2016

It has been a few years since we have seen new work from Anne Havens. The time lapse only heightened the drama of walking into Colleen Buzzard’s studio and seeing a gallery full. Anne’s work is always engaging, and most of all, inspirational. It makes you want to do art because it looks like so much fun. But Anne, like Philip Guston, makes it look easy and I know it is not.

The Ledge

September 1st, 2016

Plywood window on yellow concrete block wall, East Ridge Road in Rochester, NY

Claire, our soccer buddy, texted Peggi today about Heather O’Reilly‘s retirement from the women’s national team. She told Peggi to let her know if she needed help talking me off the ledge when I heard the news. Let me just say, “I’m ok.” I kind of suspected this was coming when she was moved to an alternate position at this summer’s Rio Olympics. She is still my favorite US player. I loved watching her watch the ball and continually position herself in the open space while signaling for the ball. Wearing number 9 she would switch sides and run up and down the flanks on both defense and offense, leapfrogging the front line to cross from the corner. She was always in the right place and never let up. Best team player bar none.

We washed the windows on the outside of house today and when we got around back I noticed this big old plastic thermometer. It was mounted near the window so we could see it inside and it looked so old fashioned. I hadn’t noticed it in years but I do remember using it when we first moved in. Our thermostats inside display the outside temperature and our computers, tablets and phones. My watch even has the temperature on it. I got a screwdriver out and took it down, the one on the back of the house too. Now I have to find a place to recycle the mercury.

Andressa & Poliana

August 29th, 2016

Old Corsair at Durand Eastman Beach

Last night’s Flash match with the Houston Dash was a fitting end to to the season’s home games. They have four more on the road and are in second place so the hope is they’ll get in the playoffs an we may have one of the championship games here. Last night’s score was two two. The match went back and forth and was played at a fairly fast clip with constant turnovers. Lynn Williams should have had the first goal. She went one on one with the goalie and delivered a shot directly into her arms. She redeemed herself with beautiful assists to both Flash goals. Peggi and I had fallen in love with the Brazilian team during the Olympics so it was a treat for us to watch two of their players (Andressa and Poliana) playing their club team match with Houston. I love how the Brizillians use only the first names of the players on the backs of their jerseys.

We spent the afternoon down at Durand Eastman Beach swimming and watching the party boat people anchored just off shore. A couple of snorkelers floated by and people standing up on boards with long paddles. A group of Asian kids were playing soccer in the sand next to us and all was right with th world.


August 26th, 2016

Tiny red mushroom in driveway

It as too hot for our tick gear this morning so we did a street walk in shorts and found ourselves at Kathy Krupp’s house. We were ringing her front door bell to say hi when a woman on the sidewalk, who was walking her dog, said, “I think she is out back mowing her lawn.” Sure enough. Her electric mower was so quiet we never would have guessed. Kathy has a gorgeous view of the bay out back and we took that in as we made plans to meet for lunch at Atlas Eats. But first we had to check in on my mom.

We found her in the tv room but the staff are the only ones who watch the tube. We asked if she wanted to take a walk and she did so we wheeled her out to the front of the building where there was all sorts of activity going on. We watched Phil Marshall sign in. He is a music therapist and he was visiting a client. He offered to play a song for my mom but she couldn’t remember any. Peggi remembered her liking Judy Collin’s “Both Sides Now” and I was thinking of the “West Side Story,” “Hair” and “Jesus Christ Superstar” soundtracks she used to play around the house. I remember coming home once and finding her in my room playing my copy of “Ladies of the Canyon.” Phil told us about an upcoming gig his band has, an opening set for Rochester’s Lydia Lunch on September 10th so we put that on our calander. Same day as we help John Gilmore move out of his house.

I ordered the Kimchee with tofu at Atlas Eats, the same thing I order every time we go there. They change their dinner menu every two weeks, darting around the globe as befits their name and this weekend it is Mediterranean. We might have to round up some friends and stop by for that.

Secret Life Of Fish

August 25th, 2016

Fallen tree sculpture with sun in woods near our house

The pachysandra on the hillside between our house and our neighbors really took a hit in this summer’s heat. It was brown and shriveled up before we got a good look at it. So we dug up some healthy pachysandra that had grown over our sidewalk out front and transplanted it on the hillside. We poked holes in the hill with a stick and stuffed the plants down the hole on by one.

While we were working away we could hear our neighbor, Jared, on the other side of the hill working on his goldfish pond. He had friend in town and the two of them took the plants out and reworked the banks of the pond so the water is a couple of inches deeper. They lined the edges with this linoleum-like product called “Rock-on-a-Roll” and then they returned the big rocks that surround the pond. The final touch was putting the plants back in the water and we overheard Jared telling his friend, “this way they have something to hide under and a place to go to dick around.” I don’t usually think of fish dicking around but I like the imagery.

We hadn’t seen a movie in the theaters a while so we found one tonight. “Indignation,” directed by James Schamus and based on a late Philip Roth novel, is fantastic.

Shopping Local

August 24th, 2016

Ken smoking in the backyard and his bass in basement with Arpad's ribbon microphone

I called B&B Automotive this morning to see if they could get our car in for its yearly NYS inspection. They told me to bring it on over but I would have to leave it with them. I put our bikes in the car and Peggi and I rode back from their shop on St. Paul. We took the back roads and stopped at a lemonade stand. There were five or six kids gathered around and one was holding an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper with the word “lemonade” written on it. I asked how much it was and she said 50 cents and she said we would get to pet the rabbit if we bought a glass.

There were no parents around and that is always a good thing when you want to engage little kids in a genuine conversation. Parents insist on answering for their kids or just making them feel uptight. I asked the girl with he pitcher who made the lemonade and she said she did. I envisioned some sort of mix from a packet. There was a hint of salt in there with the sugar. I asked how business was and she said she had only sold one “to him” and she pointed to one of the other kids. She said they don’t get too much traffic on their street. One of the other girls said she was selling her “American Girl” doll for two dollars. She had a sign too but I didn’t see the doll. A brown rabbit was in a cage on the front lawn with a blanket on the top of the cage to keep out the sun. It was ninety degrees and the rabbit looked listless. One of the girls opened the cage and we petted it. I asked what the rabbit’s name was she said, “Cinnamon.”

We stopped at Starbucks on the way home and had an iced latte. There was a hand-drawn chalkboard sign in the back of the shop that read “Hello Spring.” When our our lattes came up I asked the purple-haired barista who was in charge of the graphics and I nodded to the sign. He sad she’s only here in the morning and she’s real busy. He said, “It’ll be Fall before you know it” and I said, “Or Spring.”

We were only home for twenty minutes or so when the phone rang. Our car was ready so I rode back to the garage. I went down the street with the lemonade stand and it was gone.