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.

Over The Rainbow

August 23rd, 2016

Swimming pool at night

I’m hoping this summer still has a few nights left warm enough to call for a midnight swim. The water temperature in the street pool is holding at 82 and it feels even warmer on a seventy degree night. We’ve had months of those this year and we’re spoiled. The neighborhood gets so quiet, the big dipper hangs overhead and the lights in the surrounding houses slowly dim while we sit in the pool under only the moonlight. The water is velvety soft, the traffic noise distant, the crickets just beyond the fence, the sound of the world in its place.

We have heard this guy before. He strums chords with ease, confidently and rhythmically right on. He does cheat sheet versions of the Great American Songbook, one classic after the next. We heard him last week at the Friendly Home entertaining the troops and this afternoon he was playing for my mom’s unit. He is a pro, showing up minutes before a gig and kicking it from the get go. He runs one song into the next, though, and that bugs me. He would sound so much better if he took just a short breather between tunes and let the chestnut settle in. He finished with beautiful version of “Over The Rainbow” and we gave him a hearty round of applause.

We were there for a picnic. Family were invited and for the first time we were welcome to eat with the residents. Of course the administrators were there too and they introduced themselves as if we had never met. The social worker even made an appearance. One of the members was trying to drink from the pepper shaker when we sat down and my mom was so tired I was was afraid we would not even make contact but she came around. I could not help but notice how much more interesting the residents were than the respective family members.


August 22nd, 2016

Fisherman on pier at Sea Breeze in Rochester, New York

Our decision to ride bikes to Sea Breeze had nothing to do with the Pokemon stop there. Didn’t even think of it until we saw all the zombies milling about there. We watched two guys on SUPs paddle through the channel and this couple in their vintage speedboat cruise by. We walked out to the end of the pier and then over to Don’s for a chocolate almond frozen custard. We were celebrating Brazil’s gold medal victory over Germany in men’s soccer.

Berenjena a la Andaluza

August 22nd, 2016

Tomatoes from the garden

How did the eggplant get its name? Maybe the fruit at one time, long before gene splicing, was no bigger that an egg. It is a beautiful plant. The leaves are like giant oak leaves and the flowers are a pretty light purple. And then the fruit is so dramatic and rich looking. I found a simple recipe in a Spanish cookbook that calls for six baby eggplants. I brought three good sized ones up from the garden and cubed them and tossed them with a mortar mixture of cumin, paprika, parsley, garlic and olive oil before baking them on a cookie sheet.

We have a dozen tomatoe plants and each plant has produced at least a dozen tomatoes. Too many to count. We picked a few bags worth and weighed them before making sauce. We had thirty pounds! We threw some of our kale in, a pile of basil and jalapeños from the garden, parsley from our neighbor’s garden, carrots, celery and fifteen or so gloves of garlic. We let it simmer all day and left it on the stove to cool down overnight.

Iron Lady

August 18th, 2016

Kale in the garden 2016

Peggi and I stopped by the Red Cross on Prince Street to donate and two young women came in while we were still reading the disclaimers. They were intending to give blood but one them had a low iron level so she was refused. She sat with her friend while the three of us pumped our fists in the reclining chairs. The nurse told the young woman that she eats raisons everyday to keep her iron levels up and she asked the long woman if she ate red meat. I looked up “good sources of iron” and found spinach at the top of the list. She said she loved spinach.

I imagine kale is up there too. We planted six small plants in the Spring and we’ve been eating it all summer. It is so hardy. It holds its own in greens and beans and we do that quite a bit. Tonight Peggi found a recipe called “Tuscan Kale” with plums and goat cheese.” She made a dressing with olive oil, honey, lemon and Tamari sauce and added some walnuts and dried cherries. You don’t even cook the kale. We complimented this dish with leftover fresh corn. We cut the kernels off the cobs and bake the corn with a little olive oil and diced jalapeño peppers. We have a bumper crop of peppers this year. If you are picturing these two dishes next to one another on a plate you’re probably thinking “red.” And it goes without saying this time of year. Every meal comes with a few wedges of fresh tomatoes and basil leaves.

How Do You Spell Relief?

August 16th, 2016

Sailboats from Summerville Pier in Rochester, New York

I hadn’t rained in so long, we never imagined we would go out for a bike ride and have to take shelter from a thunder storm but that is exactly what happened on Saturday when we set out for Charlotte. We planned to check out the health fair and, of course, the beach volleyball beach volleyball. We rode down Rock Beach Road bypassing Rochester’s Gold Coast, and only made it as far as the Summerville pier before he skies turned threatening. We took refuge in O”loughlin’s and were forced to have a pint near noon. The Olympics were on the tvs and we parked ourselves in front of a soccer match. That was three days ago and it has rained everyday since. So much for that drought.

Manhattan Clam Chowder

August 13th, 2016

Purple and pink flowers at the Friendly Home in Rochester, New York

My mom had just gotten back from the beauty parlor when we arrived at the the Friendly Home. We told her her hair looked good and she asked what color it was. Peggi came up with a round about answer that included the word “grey.” My mom made a face and we told her we were going grey too. She said,”I want to go home with you.” I told her, that would be nice” and then held her hand and tried to change the subject. I said, “I like your ring. Is that your wedding ring?” she said someone gave it to her. I didn’t catch the name but it wasn’t my father. I asked if it was a long time ago and she said no.

We wheeled her down to the sun room and played catch with an inflated baseball. The ball was slighter bigger than a basketball. My mom is good at catch, she always was, and she is competitive too, mostly with herself. She would say, “I should have caught that when it was really my bad throw. We got her to stand up a few times because her seat was sore and then it was time for lunch so we wheeled down the hall into the dining room. Virginia, her regular table-mate had already begun eating her soup. She had a small pile of semi-chewed clams on the table. She pulled one out of her mouth and asked, “What is this?” I said, “That’s a clam” and she said, “Oh.” She added it to the pile.

We said hi to the other table-mates. Sandy never says hi back but Mary, at the end of the table, said hello. The staff served clam chowder to my mom along with a chocolate shake, probably an Ensure product. My mom pointed to the soup and said, “I don’t like that” but she tried a few spoonfuls anyway and when she seemed engrossed in her lunch we slipped away.


August 12th, 2016

Scamp camper and wood sided pick-up on Wisner Road in Rochester, New York

Two doors down from the house with the pink door, the purple bench out front and the Trump 2016 sign on the porch there is this cute little 13′ Scamp camper. We thought it was surly a vintage trailer but I looked it up when got home and found they are made to order. Now that the US Women’s soccer team is out of the Olympics we’re thinking maybe we could do a little traveling in one of these.

Bumper Crop

August 10th, 2016

Peggi standing In tall tomatoes

Our second planting of lettuce and spinach is in the ground. The seeds are supposed to germinate in 7 to 10 days and this is day four. The temperature has been in the nineties so we’ve been watering twice a day to keep the ground moist.

Every time we go go down to the garden we bring back produce. I picked our first eggplant today and few more tomatoes along with a perfectly plump jalapeño. We have enough kale for a small army. A few of our tomato plants are now over nine feet tall. I asked Peggi to stand by them so I could take this shot. Our stakes stop at six feet and I’m afraid they are going to fall over soon.

Our bumper crop could go bust if a ground hog shows up. One of our tomatoes had claw marks in it.

Make America Groan Again

August 9th, 2016

Model-T near Auburn, New York

Part of the fun of walking in the city is finding cool stuff out at the street, things people are discarding for some reason. We don’t get much of that in Irondequoit. No junk metal guys riding around in pick-up trucks, no funky old chairs out by the curb, no boxes of strange photos.

When we walk on the street around here I’m always on the look out for non organic trash. I cleaned up for Budweiser Man for years. Today I found a couple of golf balls when we crossed the course. I know where to look. I have a bowl of tiny plastic drug bags that I’ve found on Hoffman Road in the past few months. I found one today stamped with a little teddy bear. And of course there are the accompanying Swisher Sweet, Honey Berry and Acid Cigarillo packages. Another curiosity from todays’s haul was an empty airline sized, plastic bottle of Banana Liquor.

Spanish Key

August 8th, 2016

Pete Monacelli Miles Davis Tribute Art at Joy Gallery on West Mai Street in Rochester, New York

When we were on the island of Mallorca earlier this summer I kept trying to imagine how anyone could get anything done in the heat and all that sun. We had just seen a show in Madrid by the Mallorcan artist, Bernardi Roig, and we knew that Miró lived and worked here for many years. All over the world the art scene slows down in the summer, even the commercial galleries in Chelsea. First Friday here in Rochester was proportionally quiet but we did find two very rewarding shows.

Pete Monacelli’s “Tribute to Miles Davis” features a series of recent drawings. Pete carefully rules horizontal lines in playful free association. And he contrasts that with loosely scrubbed india ink or gouache washes. Each piece is named after a Miles song and for a fan of the master this brings the drawings to life. Looking at a piece named after a track on “Bitches Brew” I was reminded of the time Pete invited me over to his studio to look at his work while we listened to that album on 16rpm. It was a mind-blowing experience.

Anne Havens was at Pete’s opening and we learned she is preparing for a show at the end of this summer. Although she has finished enough for a lifetime it has been far too long since we have seen new work from her. This is exciting news.

R Gallery, an RIT student-run joint on College Avenue, has a strong graphic show mounted on its walls. The front pages of newspapers from around the country. In class on 9/11/2001, Eric Kunsman, Applied Photo Art I instructor, asked his students to contact family and friends and ask them to collect their hometown newspapers from the days after the 9/11 attack. Three weeks later, the class spread out the 121 unique newspapers collected to begin a discussion of the different representations of the photographs, headlines, and articles. The sensational pages are framed and mounted here and with some distance they read as powerful reactions to that incredible event rather than reporting on the act.

American Outlaws

August 5th, 2016

American Outlaws putting up their flag at the Brickwood Pub in Rochester New York

We got the jump on the Olympics by watching the US Women’s National Team beat New Zealand 2-0. We met our fellow Flash season ticket holders, Kerry and Claire, at Brickyard Pub on Monroe Avenue where the local chapter of the American Outlaws were holed up and yelling at the tv sets. Yesterday we watched pieces of two men’s matches and all of the Nigeria vs Japan game, a roller coaster ride of a match. They started the early rounds before tonight’s opening ceremonies so the players can rest between matches and settle the gold before the closing bell.

Our neighbor was walking his dog on the pool property down the street. He was waving his flashlight around, looking out for skunks and raccoons, and he shined the light right on Peggi and I who were huddled in the the corner of the pool like we are most warm nights before bed. We were certain he saw us so I said “Hi Rick.” He said, “You scared the shit out of me.”

Lady 10 Plus

August 3rd, 2016

Peggi took this movie with her phone. We had to show it to Steve Greive, the neighborhood rackaholic, so she put it on YouTube. The 10-point buck, in velvet, was hanging out near the park. While Peggi was shooting this movie she found two other bucks in her frame, an 8 and another 10 point.

Today’s walk proved more fruitful than most. I found a five dollar bill where the park boundaries meet the dead-end of Hoffman Road. I already had a few golf balls in my pocket, a Pinnacle and a bright pink “Precept Lady 10+.” On the ground, near the river, I found another drug bag. I have been bringing them home for the last few months and I have a small pile of multi-colored miniature baggies. I used to bring home giant cans of Budweiser but that guy apparently moved on.

Sing Me Back Home

August 2nd, 2016

Tomato paste cans at I-Square in Rochester, New York

At age 6 Olga’s mom lost her parents and brother in the famine-genocide the Soviets imposed on Ukraine. During the Nazi occupation of Ukraine she was deported to Germany to work in slave labor camps to build equipment for the war. The ball bearing factory she worked in was an Allied Forces bombing target. She emigrated to the US on a sponsorship from St. Mary’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the church we attended her funeral in today.

We were here for her husband’s funeral so we knew the ceremony would be exceptionally beautiful. We stood, holding a tall candle, surrounded by saints with gold leaf halos, while the four person choir sang the gentlest chants imaginable. In Ukrainian with short passages of English, enough for me to hear “journey to heaven,” I felt as if we were drifting down the Genesee River from the Veteran’s Bridge to open waters of Lake Ontario. The priest chanted and shook incense at the pictures of the saints. We stood with the burning candles for close to an hour with only two short kneeling breaks and most people made the sign of the cross as we stood. I noticed the last two gestures of the Ukrainian sign of the cross are done in the opposite direction of the Catholic sign of the cross.

The choir and priest sang at the cemetery and they sang before our lunch at I-Square, chanting over the light jazz coming from the sound system in the ceiling. Olga said her mom would have loved it.

Regressive Neighbors

August 1st, 2016

Crooked Hillary sign on Lakeshore Boulevard in Rochester, New York

Politics is rude, everything about it. You don’t discuss it in polite company. You discuss it at home or with friends and like minded people. We were riding our bikes down Lakeshore Boulevard today when we spotted this gem. Political lawn signs are especially rude because there is no discussion.

My cousin used to be the first house you come to as you travel west along the lake, but then they built a house behind them, actually on the lake but the driveway runs off Lakeshore so they are the first house you come to now. And after that is the house that Ted Turner stayed in many years ago when he sailed Lake Ontario with the owners of that big grey place. This sign is in front of The fourth house after the beach where the owner spent most of the past year building a big berm around his property.

While I was taking this photo Peggi spotted the camera mounted to the tree above and behind the sign. You can see the camera in the blow-up of this photo. He was getting footage of us as we laughed at his sign. We speculated as to whether he was capturing audio or not and just in case Peggi looked at the camera and asked him what he thought of the recent Russian connections to Trump.

Musical Chairs

July 31st, 2016

Beehive in red berry bush in Durand Eastman Park

We knew this was coming but it still seemed to sneak up on us. Our neighbors switched houses. Rick and Monica bought the place next door to us four years ago when the original owner died and they have been renting it out since. They decided they liked the rental property better than their own house so they sold their house to the renters. Peggi and I helped carry boxes across the street for most of the day. One was labeled “dog calendars.” We were the only ones carrying stuff in both directions. The other parties had their people. We quit somewhere before exhaustion, saving just enough energy for our Margaret Explosion gig.

Once the switch was mostly complete Rick told us they realized they didn’t have room for about a third of their stuff. This morning he revised that to one half.

Our bass player, Ken Frank, had a gig with his other band, Big Ditch, at the Firehouse on Clinton Avenue so we played last night’s gig with Matthew who coincidentally used to live next door to us in the rental property. The party we played at was a fundraiser for Paulie, who is trying to market his film. The party was in the backyard of a house on Cedarwood Terrace near where we used to live and we set up in the open, double car garage. We were the first of three acts and the party was expected to go until 4AM. Needless to say we couldn’t stay up the late.

The Eagle Has Flown

July 28th, 2016

Pricker weeds going to seed

Our 2003 Honda had yet another airbag recall. In fact the letter we got told us not even to drive the car until we take care of the problem. We headed out to Dick Ide first thing this morning with a thermos full of coffee and the morning papers and we weren’t even out of our driveway when our neighbor told us there was an eagle in the dead tree in the marsh near his house. He suggested we ride down there and take a look but by the time we got there the eagle was gone. I took this photo of the weeds going to seed near the edge of the marsh.

We spent four of the last few days recording tracks, in various configurations, for an upcoming Margaret Explosion record. The days flew by. Arpad did the recording. He’s using a program called Reaper and the tracks sound great. We’ve recorded all the instruments at once, improvising and hoping for a good take of a song constructed on the spot, for so long we decided to try laying down something like improvised basics and then building up the tracks with overdubs.

When we were out at the Honda dealership we heard “Bennie and the Jets.” That’s a live track, right? Thing still sounds amazing.


July 27th, 2016

Gaston Lachaise "Standing Woman" Metropolitan Museum

I am always attracted to Gaston Lachaise’s work and his “Standing Woman 1912″ at the Metropolitan is fantastic. I don’t usually read wall tags in a museum but I sometimes photograph them and read them at home. I can only take in so much art before my senses are dulled so I look at the work and skip the reading.

The wall tag for this piece reads; “Lachaise was working in Paris in 1903 when he met his lifelong muse, Isabel Dutaud Nagle, whom he later married in 1917. Responding to Nagle’s voluptuous figure, the sculptor created a powerful archetype of womanhood; “Standing Woman” is almost a modern fertility goddess. Swelling and undulating with elegant strength, she perches delicately on her tiptoes, seeming nearly to levitate despite her evident weight. Her closed eyes enhance her detachment from the realm of the viewer, whom the sculptor invites to marvel at her extraordinary body.”

You certainly don’t have to read the tag to get the impact of his sculpture but I thought the text does a good job. Click on the photo for an enlargement.

Mater Dolorosa

July 24th, 2016

Mother of Sorrows Rectory on Mount Read Boulevard in Rochester, New York

The last two Catholic funeral masses we’ve been to were said by priests with accents so thick it was nearly impossible to understand what they were saying. It is almost as if the church is going back to Latin, the way it was when I was serving mass as an altar boy. The church is desperate for priests as well as congregation.

With tall ceilings, cream colored walls, abstract stained-glass windows and no statues except for the crucifix on right hand side of the alter and the slim Blessed Virgin mounted to a wood panel on the left, Mother of Sorrows Church looked like a big, modern chapel, a “Spiritual Vessel” as the the type on the wall proclaimed. A Renaissance style painting of Mary looking skyward with the crucified Christ collapsed in her arms was the central alter piece. Two dimensional representations of the fourteen stations of the cross were hung on a navy blue panel that circled the sanctuary and it looked like the Yankee logo was mounted on the ceiling although I think it was a particularly decorative letter “M.”

After the mass I picked up a holy card in the foyer. I have added it to my holy card collection. It has a picture of Blessed Virgin with a small vessel on her heart with seven small swords piercing the vessel. Above the picture it read, “Devotion to the Seven Sorrows of Mary” and it was followed with instructions to say one Hail Mary while meditating on each sorrow.

1. The Prophecy of Saint Simeon.
2. The Escape and Flight into Egypt.
3. The Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem.
4. The Meeting of Mary and Jesus on the Via Dolorosa.
5. The Crucifixion of Jesus on Mount Calvary.
6. The Piercing of the Side of Jesus, and His Descent from the Cross.
7. The Burial of Jesus by Joseph of Arimathea.

On the way out we drove by the back of the old church rectory which was right next to the abandoned Mother of Sorrows school and I took this shot. This situation could be number 8.