Archive for the ‘Dear Diary’ Category

Where Is Everybody?

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017

Dog mailbox on Rock Beach Road, Rochester NY

Our roof is relatively flat. I think it might be a 2 12. It is definitely not a 3 12. So it collects a lot of debris. I usually get up there every spring and blow it off but I’ve been putting it off this year. Always some excuse. I do like putting my Home Depot noise cancelling headphones on though so I climbed up there this afternoon.

I was just finishing up on the far end of the house and I gave the leaf blower one last tug. I heard a crash and realized I had knocked the ladder over with the extension cord. Peggi had gone down to the street pool. We’re on duty this week so it is our responsibility to keep it clean. Like everything else this job’s done by a robot now so all she had to do was drop it in and the thing crawls around on the bottom and sucks up everything in its way. I figured she would be back soon.

I tried pinging Peggi’s phone with my watch but the phone was in the house below. Our neighborhood was awfully quiet. About forty five minutes went by and was getting anxious so I tried lassoing the step ladder with the extension cord. After fifteen minutes or so I had it standing up. I climbed down and walked down the street to the pool where I found Peggi and a neighbor trying to repair a leak in one of the pipes in our pump.

PDA

Saturday, June 3rd, 2017

Two geese and four baby geese on Durand Lake

I never expected to fall apart when I read the first line of my mom’s remembrance (see previous post) yesterday. I think what happened was I actually conjured up that sensation, much more vividly than when I wrote the line. In that moment, I felt like I was back in my mother’s arms and I was overcome with emotion. A good thing.

I was knocked out by my siblings’ tributes and the sum total was an overwhelming testimony to our mom’s virtues.

Two of my mom’s cousins on the Tierney side spoke, both of whom grew up with my mom in the same Rosewood Terrace neighborhood. Joe O’Keefe told me a story about their common grandmother, a Kelly who left Dublin on a ship bound for New York as a caretaker of an elderly man. She was supposed to return but she fell in love with a Walsh. They married as soon as they landed but only on the condition that Walsh drop his affiliation with the Church of England and get right with Catholicism.

During the ceremony Joe described my mom as somewhere between Erma Bombeck and a saint. On his way out the door he told me they used to hold these teen dances all over the city and kids would usually go without dates. He said he always made sure he danced with my mom and said he was determined to find a Mercy girl like my mom. And he did, my mom’s good friend, Ginny.

Both Gone

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

Leo and Mary Dodd circa 1949

I should have this memorized so I don’t have to read from my notes at my mom’s service tomorrow. But I don’t.

When you’re young there is no safer place than in your mother’s arms. You learn that when things get weird you can always return to your mom. I first met my mom in 1950. Everything was brand new for me but I had a sense that everything was brand new for her as well. There was an air of experimentation in our home and I watched this play out as our family grew. Teachers come and go but your mom is on a higher rung. You learn from your mom how to make your way in the world. When she had enough of our nonsense she would say, “Go out and play.” That was the best advice she ever gave me.

My mom was very aware. She had keen observational skills and a fashion sense that she shared with us all. I was the only one in my Confirmation class with a striped sport coat. A few years ago my father and I did an event at the Brighton Town Hall where we drew quick portraits of people. My mother surprised me by looking over my shoulder and making suggestions that were right on.

Mary was not shy about expressing how she felt about something even if it went against the popular grain. This was jarring to me at first but I grew to admire her for that streak. We argued plenty and she was a formidable opponent. In the process she taught me to think for myself and she gave me the confidence to leave home.

Mary was a devout Catholic but grew frustrated with the church and would say “I wish they would stop praying and do something.” To a college demonstrator my mom’s peace flag seemed like a benign protest. But when a neighbor demanded that she take it down because her son, my friend Tom, was fighting in Vietnam, I witnessed my mom hold her ground in a real world situation.

The nurturing caregiver relationship slowly flipped over time. Yet Mary faced her decline with determined dignity. And she shared with us the gift of spending time with her fellow members in the Friendly Home’s Memory Care center.

I will always feel lucky to be Mary’s son.

Circular Saw

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

Circular plywood pattern and compass

I have a circular saw and I used it to cut out this round piece of plywood but what I really could have used is a saw that cuts circles, like a jigsaw or maybe a band saw. We have these big flower pots out back and rather than fill them with top soil I decided to “short shelf” them. That’s a grocery store term. I broke this stick and jammed it down the pot until it stuck to both sides and then brought the stick in the garage to measure the diameter of the circles. Then I split the distance and pounded a nail in the center. I tied some string around my pen and the other end around the nail and swung my circumference. And then in a series of short cuts I whacked out the circles with my circular saw.

Peace Through Understanding

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

Mark, Ann and Paul Dodd on front steps at 68 Brookfield Road in Rochester New York

After the Rauschenberg show at MoMA we stopped in an Irish bar. I ordered a Guinness and Peggi had a Bass Ale. There was a group of English tourists at the table next to us and a couple of them were wearing Manchester United gear. I thought it was interesting that they were all drinking bottles of Bud. I asked one of the guys if they liked Budweiser and he told us they didn’t didn’t like American lagers and the Guinness was better at home. They were from Manchester and they had been celebrating United’s 2-0 victory earlier in the day. I’m thinking about them now in wake of that explosion in their home town.

My sister, Ann, rode down to New York and back with us. She stayed at my brother Mark’s place in New Jersey and we met up with her each night in the city. She went to Kinky Boots with my brother and our niece took her shopping. She had a ball.

This New York trip with her two older brothers was long overdue. Father left her behind when he took the two of us down for the ’64 World’s Fair. The theme was “Peace Through Understanding.” We slept in the car in parking lot and we had a ball back then. Fifty some years later I’m so happy for her.

Malibu Spice

Saturday, May 20th, 2017

Blue sail boat washed up at Sea Breeze in high water

We spent the night at my brother Mark’s place in New Jersey and we intended to get a good night sleep but we sat around talking until early this morning. We brought my sister Ann down with us. She had arranged to get time off from her job at Parkleigh a long time ago and just wanted to get down to New York. She is still steamed that my father drove Mark and me down here to see the World’s Fair in ’64. We slept in the car on that trip and Ann stayed home with my mom and my four other siblings.

We had plans to meet Duane in Chelsea at 10AM. We were anxious to to see the show of Ellsworth Kelly’s last paintings at Matthew Marks Gallery. I was up before Peggi. Mark made eggs over easy for me before he headed off to work and when Peggi got up she scrambled some eggs. They tasted gritty and she had Mark taste them. Mark asked what she put in them and Peggi said “just some salt and pepper.” Mark realized that she must have used the salt shaker that sits above the stove, the one his wife’s best friend brought back from California from a restaurant they used to go to when they lived there, the one that was filled with sand from the beach they used to go to.

Go Out And Play

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

My mom with me in her arms, 1950

My mom passed away this morning. Her death was a relief. She suffered from dementia the last few years and she wanted no part of it. For most of her life she expressed herself very clearly and you always knew where she stood on an issue. I was very proud of her.

I just cruised through a folder of old photos of her. I went through them a few times. She was so pretty and by all rights I should have a photo of her alone up here. But today, especially, I was struck by how the ones of the two of us affected me. The connection you feel to your mom, in ideal circumstances, and I feel like my childhood was close to idyllic, is something words can not describe. I felt this long before I could speak and I still feel it. That’s why they call it a feeling. It is deep and that’s what I wanted to write about.

I was the first of seven so she was my role model. I felt on top of the world in her arms and completely independent when she put me down. She loved kids but was never overbearing. As I grew older she’d say, “Go out and play.” The best advice I was ever given.

On Friday, as we sat with her in the main room at the Friendly Home my mom spotted a baby doll across the room and muttered something about it. I brought it over to her and put it on her lap. She picked the doll up and kissed it. It was so sweet. She was so sweet.

Wood Management

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

Buds hanging from tree in Durand Eastman Park

Peggi found three little Chinese Maples in our yard. She transplanted them and gave them a good watering. Our neighbor said they do good in the shade. Their leaves are a dark rusty red all season and then they go a brilliant red in the Fall.

I spent the afternoon rebuilding our wood pile. A few of our stacks came down in the wind storm and a few more are are leaning precariously. I considered rebuilding those but then decided only a maniac would knock a pile over to rebuild it. I’ll wait until it falls and hope that it doesn’t.

Touch Down

Friday, April 28th, 2017

Cobbs Hill Resevoir and radio tower in Rochester, New York

Sixty seven years ago today my mom and I were up in the natal section of Saint Mary’s Hospital on Genesee Street, across from Bull’s Head Plaza. That would be where and when I touched down. I can’t say I remember it but I can say my childhood felt like a dream.

When my father brought home his first car we’d come up here to Cobb’s Hill overlooking the city. He’d pull off to the the side of the road that rings the reservoir and my mom would spread out a blanket. We would wolf down our sandwiches and run around the park. At this marker, April 28, formerly the feast day of Saint Paul of the Cross, I can say it has been fantastic ride.

Ciudad Moderna

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Terence Gower Ciudad Moderna at the Media Room , Memorial Art Gallery

Near record high today and we were inside the Media Arts Watch gallery at the Memorial Art Gallery. Three short experimental films are running in a continual loop over there and went for the full ride. Our favorite was
Terence Gower’s “Ciudad Moderna,” a com­pos­ite of clips taken from “De­s­pe­dida de Casada,” a swinging 1966 Mexican film, that animates the architecture of the modern city. Last time Peggi and I were in Mexico City someone swiped our 35mm Canon camera. It was clunky. I like my pocket Sony digital. I want to go back.

Black Latte

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

Andy Warhol Myths series on preview dusplay at Christies in NYC

Andy Warhol was sitting on a bench off to the side of the outdoor stage. He was sitting with one of the musicians. In my dream I knew the musician but it was the first time I had seen Andy in person. I said, “How are you doin’ today?” and then felt like that was a really awkward thing to say. Warhol stood up and I noticed he had a small portable tape player in his hand, a reel to reel player with a clear plastic window. He turned the tape player on and I woke up.

We had toasted Warhol yesterday at dinner so it was understandable that I would be dreaming about him. The “Myths” portfolio that we bought for 6000 in 1979 was going to be auctioned at Christies in the afternoon. When I say “we bought,” I mean Peggi and I owned 3/10s, my brother and his wife owned 5/10s and Kim (and Dave Mahoney’s kids) owned 2/10s. We were all at the auction this afternoon when the hammmer came down.

Steve Hoy, a good friend of all three parties was also in town to celebrate. Four of us were staying in one room overlooking Central Park. Duane joined us for three days straight and we whooped it up. The ten silk teen prints numbered 135/200 are now in someone else’s hands.

Steve was heading down for coffee this morning and he asked how I liked my coffee. I said “black” because it sounded good but then I switched to “latte.” Steve said, “a black latte?”

Moving Something

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

Neighbor Jared's long yellow gloves for working in his pond

There are two stalls in the men’s room near the lobby of the Friendly Home. I was in one and this conversation, between an old and a much younger voice, was happening in the other.

“Whoever thought it would come to this?”

“It does for everybody, Pop.”

“You hit a lot of walls and you work through them but this one is a mountain!”

“There are upsides. You can stay up as late as you want. You can have ice cream whenever you want.”

Mosaic

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

Peggi's top secret pink and black crochet project

You may have noticed people all over the city working on abstract pink and black crochet projects. Although some people are so adept at crocheting they can carry on a conversation while working and you don’t even notice. I’m thinking of Gloria Monacelli but she knits rather than crochets. Martha O’Conner got Peggi involved in this project and we stopped by the SewGreen shop on West Main in the Susan B. Anthony district to pick the supplies.

Peggi was given a grid that laid out the stitches for her 2 foot by 2 foot portion of the pink and black yarn mural that will eventually go up on the side of the building as part of the Wall Therapy Project. The squares are all abstract but the motif will be very recognizable when they are all stitched together. That’s all I can say about this now other than there may still be some portions that need to done.

Disorientation

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

Twenty deer in the Commons near Durand Eastman Park

We’re having us a real disaster. Electric utility trucks from all over the northeast are restoring power to the 100,000 or so that lost it in the wind storm. Our power came back over the weekend and then our cable went out and with that 3-in-1 plan, that means no internet, tv, or phone. And on the heels of that we’ve received about half of the expected 18 inches of snow. I shoveled three times today.

We skied down Hoffman Road and into the woods. These deer were all clustered together and the woods was beautiful. This amount of snow disorients you and even when we found the path, we couldn’t take it because there were so many trees down.

Wind, Trees and Power Lines

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

Hockey games on Mirror Lake in Lake Placid, New York

Our refrigerator is plugged into our neighbor’s generator. They are down south somewhere at a camp site and they called us while we were on break at the Little. I took the call on my watch but I couldn’t hear a damn thing. We had winds up near eighty miles an hour today and 100,000 people are without power. Our part of the city, up near the lake, is in a state of emergency and we’re downtown playing music.

Skunk Sighting

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

Skunk Cabbage Powder Mills Park, Rochester, New York

My father was always talking about skunk cabbage, something he found in the woods near the end of winter, an optimistic sign of Spring. We had seen his pictures. The stuff is exotic and sculptural, something like Georgia O’Keeffe meets Henry Moore, and startling as it pokes its way through the snow. We walk in the woods most days and we have never seen any skunk cabbage. That is until yesterday.

We stopped to visit my mom and and continued east out to Powder Mills Park. In high school I worked at my uncle’s grocery store, right next door to Uncle John’s Pancake House, and most of the other guys went to East Rochester. We would go out to Powder Mills after work and drink beer and that’s the last time I was there. It’s a happening park. The fish hatchery is teeming with Brown Trout and Salmon. The ski hill was covered in man-made snow and the hiking trails run in all directions. We took three or four and found an area of rich, fertile soil at the bottom of a steep slope and near a marsh that was so thick with skunk cabbage that we kept stepping on them.

The weather has been so crazy warm we wondered if this might be especially early for a sighting but I looked back at my father’s iPhoto library and he usually found it in early March, some in early April but in 2006 he found some on February 19th on a slope in Ellison Park.

Fat Tire

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

Fat-tire bike rider on beach at Lake Ontario

There used to be a bike jump, a ramp made out of dirt that had been dug from the trail and piled up in front of the hole it came out of. It was up where the undeveloped part of Durand Eastman comes close to that sub-division at the end of Spring Valley. We never saw the kids that used it but I pictured those small bikes that ten year olds ride until they either outgrow them or graduate to a 26 inch. The kids would leave empty pop bottles and candy bar wrappers there and I think they even had a board that they rode up on before the big jump over the pit. You hardly ever see kids in the woods anymore so we think of those kids every time we take that trail.

Off road biking is now an adult phenomena. Just like dogs they have their own parks. Thankfully Durand isn’t one of them. There sporadic signs that say “No Biking on Trails” but we occasionally see a big guy zoom by us on a bike. It just seems kind of rude.

These fat tire bikes though are kind of intriguing. They’re ugly like a monster truck but I would like to ride along the beach on one sometime.

An Alter Boy Vignette

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

Paul Dodd, Andy Finn and Rick Switzer from the Holy Trinity bulletin

The two paragraphs below accompanied the photo above in a Holy Trinity church bulletin from the early sixties.

“An alter boy’s performance is not all glamour. Parading before the congregation is only part of it. These fellows, thanks most often to diligent parents, get up at (and sometimes before) the crack of dawn and are “in uniform” before 6:45.

Most of them like to receive Holy Communion when they serve. This presents a breakfast problem which they solve very well. After Mass we find them huddled (these mornings) around the new alter-boy-sacristy gas heater enjoying their own chow. In the photo below we see, left to right, Paul Dodd, Andrew Finn and Richard Switzer fueling up.”

Some people may not know that in order to receive Holy Communion back in the day you had to fast from food for three hours before receiving, an heroic sacrifice for growing kids and reason many in my skinny family fainted during the service. The nuns in the convent next door made the hosts and they would stock the shelves of the priest’s sacristy. If we were there before the priest had crawled out of bed we would dig into the bags of hosts (unconsecrated, of course) and swallow them by the handful. As you can tell from the photo, we had a good time. Our main objective became cracking the other alter boy up during Mass. Things like pronouncing the Latin responses so badly that that we would laugh uncontrollably.

Rick Switzer, on the right, lived in Union Hill and his family had a trampoline built into the ground in their yard. Rick sat in front of me. His mom packed a lunch with a macaroon cookie in it everyday. Rick didn’t like macaroons so he would give it to me, often before lunch time even rolled around. We spent a lot of time carving our erasers into tiny bulldozers and street sweeping vehicles. We’d push them across the desk collecting the eraser filings and running them out the side of the vehicles. Andy Finn lived in an old farmhouse. They had a big barn and field big enough to play baseball in. His father owned the Texaco gas station in the center of town and his family rented a cottage on the lake down near Hedges Nine Mile Point. The old folks sat around drinking beer while Andy and I caught carp, big, sluggish fish that lingered close to the shore. He now resides in Finn Land.

Way Pond

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

Island in Way Pond, 1000 Acre Swamp in Rochester, New York

Democrat & Chronicle contributor, Missy Rosenberry, had an interesting article in today’s paper about visiting 100 parks on the east side of Rochester in the last calendar year, many parks that we had never heard of. She’s posted a photo of a sign from every park on her blog so it isn’t the most interesting thing to look at but she has a brief description of each. We choose 1000 Acre Swamp in Penfield, a gorgeous place even in the middle of January. We walked every trail, most on boardwalks, a total of four miles and I froze my hands taking photos. We stopped at Schutt’s Cider Mill on the way back and picked up a bag of apples for applesauce, another for eating and a gallon of cider.

Good Form

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

Melting snowman in front yard

Our power went out this morning, a quick outage due to the wind. Peggi’s computer restarted on its own, mine needed to be rebooted. I was in the middle of editing songs for our new cd. Guitar tracks have been coming in fast and furiously, delivered by Dropbox. We took a walk after the blackout but stayed out of the woods because of the wind. There were some good sized branches in the street and the barricade on Zoo Road had been blown over. Peggi and I uprighted that. This snowman had a head that fell off a few days ago. It has completely melted body is in good form.