Archive for the ‘Dear Diary’ Category

Compromise Or Fraud

Tuesday, September 11th, 2018

Old lumber yard on Holt Road in Webster, New York

This old lumberyard on Holt Road in Webster looks like a movie set now. I took this shot from the side of the place as we walked the Hojak Trail. We started at North Ponds Park and walked to Drumm Road and back seeing only a handful of people the whole time. We felt like we were on the Camino again, an easy straightaway portion of the Camino, with a natural stone or mud surface and a clear trail, the old railroad line. We were almost to the lake when we turned around and will push it that far next time. I’d love to see where that guy drove through the barricade and into the water on Lake Road.

Our credit card has been compromised three times in the last year. Is that average? I don’t feel like we’re reckless but maybe we are. The repercussions are crazy. When we told the Visa representative that this was the third time our card was compromised she told us that our card was not “compromised” but someone had committed fraud with it. An interesting technicality. So that would be one compromise and two frauds in the last year.

We suspect the other fraud happened when we bought gas up near Niagara Falls. Someone skimmed our number when we inserted our card at the funky pumps. About five months ago a vendor where we used our card had their database attacked so we had to get a new card and that was a “compromise.” On Friday night we bought gas at Herrema’s down near Charlotte. Visa had told us to pay in person rather than use our card at the pump but the place was closed and the only way to pay for gas we desperately needed was to pay with a card at the pump. We pay most bills on line and contacting all our vendors is a pain in the ass.

Napkin Rings

Monday, August 20th, 2018

Woman painting steeple at Christ Church in Irondequoit

The brakes on our 2003 Element went funky over the weekend. Not bad enough to reach the calipers but they just started falling apart. I called B&B Auto and they were able to take us in so we left before breakfast, dropped it off and walked back home. We stopped at I-Square for a latte and watched this woman scraping the wooden steeple on the church across from the House of Guitars.

We spotted a handmade sign across the street from the town hall for a “Record Album Sale” so we stopped to check it out. A guy with a black wig was loading a car in the driveway and he seemed bothered that we interested in the sale. He told us to wait a minute while he locked up the dogs and then he led us to a small room with thousands of records. “Everything is a buck” he said and that was the last we saw of him.

The records were in surprisingly good shape, some never played, and there were multiple copies of many. We had a short stack in no time, Nino Roto’s soundtrack to the Godfather, KC and the Sunshine Band, Art Tatum, Stand by Sly and Family Stone and something I had never seen before, Our Memories of Elvis with a picture of Elvis’s father and the Colonel on the front.

A woman was screaming at someone on the phone in another room. It seems her brother wanted her to pick him up and help him take back his empties. When she hung up she came in the small room to ask if we wanted some napkin rings. Peggi said no and then the woman asked if we canned. Peggi said yes, but that was as far as that conversation went. And then she started complaining about foreign people. “They want everything for nothing. Always trying to talk me down. I gotta get rid of this stuff. I’m just gonna give it all away.” She asked Peggi if she could get rid of the words on her tv. She said, “I’m a little hard of hearing but I don’t need the words at the bottom.” She was watching QVC and screaming at one of the contestants.

She got on the phone again and told someone that the guy had met someone on Facebook and he was moving out. She said, “I hope it’s a scam.”

Italian Power Forever

Thursday, August 16th, 2018

SoccerB ball chair out by the curb, Rochester, New York

We are only a week away from the start of the season for La Liga and this guy is dumping his match time chair!

I like it when late summer slows things down to a crawl. Boring is not the right word for it, I find myself in too much of a stupor to feel bored. We linger longer after the horseshoes fly. I’ve been on a losing streak, though, and I’m wondering if it might be the logy weather. But why wouldn’t it affect my opponent? In a few weeks the cooler weather will clear my head and I’ll be productive members of society again.

I volunteered to do the name tags for an upcoming high school reunion. I did them ten years ago and I still have the files. Someone in the class is sharing a Google spreadsheet of who’s coming with me and I’m working my way through them. I see Matt Sanfilippo has not sent his check in. He signed my yearbook, “Italian Power Forever!”

Where Were We

Friday, August 10th, 2018

View of Buffalo skyline from top floor of City Hall

It’s too bad this view from 25th floor of Buffalo’s City Hall building doesn’t show you what the building itself looks like. With tips from the NYT Travel Section column we spent 36 Hours in Buffalo and were just starting the final 24. We had already been to Big Ditch Brewery for their award-winning IPA and we had dinner at the Mexican place recommended in the article. We had walked along the waterfront as the sun went down in Canalside Park. We were staying at the refurbished Lafayette Hotel downtown. The article had recommended two other places. The Lafayette was designed by America’s first woman architect, Louise Blanchard Bethune, and was intended to be ready for the Pan American Expo but it wasn’t finished in time. It was big and funky, something like the Overlook Hotel in the Shining. My uncle told us he used to have lunch there but in later years it became what he called a flophouse. We located these places from the the observation deck of City Hall and we met an Indian couple up there who were visiting their daughter in Buffalo. They told us they had been to the Hindu Temple in Rochester.

When our band played Buffalo in the late seventies and early eighties I never knew where we were. I could get to places like the Continental, McVans, the Garage and Nietzsche’s but then we’d head off to a late night party in loft downtown or an apartment off Delaware or to some crazy late night food joint and I’d be totally lost. It would take us forever to get out of town.

This time stayed downtown and walked up to the Albright Knox. We zig aged and found Rowhouse Bakery, a dreamy coffee shop/bar/restaurant. We walked around the museum of course and then back downtown, stopping in Allentown for a local beer and dinner at Tempo, an Italian place with an Ellsworth Kelly print hanging over the fireplace. We ate out on the patio and split two appetizers and a beet salad. We were full before dinner so we stopped. We clocked ten miles before the day was done and now have a much better sense of the lay of the land.

We stayed up late watching the display in the fake fireplace and we started our day with a Cortado in Public Espresso + Coffee on the ground floor of our hotel. They had cool black and white art on the walls, paintings somewhere between Franz Kline and graffiti, and design magazines scattered about. Most of the customers seemed to be carrying on business via laptop or phone. We entered my Aunt and Uncles address in Niagara Falls into our phone and headed up there for the afternoon.

Let Go Of Time

Sunday, August 5th, 2018

Monarch Caterpillars Butterfly Pupa at Sues

We set the alarm this morning so we could be on the beach by 8 AM for Marijana’s yoga class. It was already hot and I spent half of the class under my towel. Marijana worked a mindfulness theme about taking the time to enjoy the moment. She said when you are thirteen you can’t wait to be fourteen but if are sixty four you are in no hurry to turn sixty five. English is not her first lanquage so she had cute way of urging us to let go of time. She didn’t exactly say “let go” but I can’t remember what she said. I made a point to remember it but now it is gone. We all went swimming in the lake after class.

We read the paper down at pool and then visited our neighbor, Sue, who has been tending to Monarch butterflies. She spots the butterfly eggs on the bottom of the milkweed plants and brings those portions of the plants to the netted cage on her porch. The eggs turn into small caterpillars who eat the eggshell and then the leaves of the plant until they get big at which point they crawl to the top of the cage and curl up into a pupa. That thing stays green and then turns clear enough for you to see the butterfly inside all curled up. They drop out of the pupa and Sue releases them. If it isn’t a miracle it is pretty close.

Dumb Luck

Saturday, August 4th, 2018

Sailboats returning to Rochester Yacht Club from Lake Ontario

We rode bikkes over to the the Port of chestier and and sat down just as it started to pour. There is some sort of sailboat race going on at the Yacht Club and we watched them all come in from the storm. Lou Reed’s “Waiting For My Man” was playing on the sound system when we sat down at the restaurant there. I told the waitress the music was god and she said that isn’t often the case. It stopped raining before we finished and we rode home in the sun. We walked up to Starbucks today for a Cold Brew and get in the door just as a thunderstorm struck. We need the rain. We took a few sips and the storm moved on. It never even rain back home.

I consider myself lucky but I am not as lucky as my neighbor. He has thrown so many bounce ringers, ones that hit the pit maybe one or two feet from the post and then bounce at an angle right on to the post. I have not won a round of three in a week now. He is good, no question, and I don’t mean to diminish his abilities. He has thrown so many of these that if it was just luck he would be one lucky SOB.

I have analyzed this situation. He throws a double flip. I throw a single flip, that is one revolution before ideally heading for the stake in an open position. And he has a much higher arc than I do. My tosses are low and hit the pit with forward momentum. His drop from a higher elevation and when they hit the scooped out pit they often bounce toward the stake. Another factor is the unusually dry summer we have had. The ground is firm enough to support a good bounce. I have to either make a change to my toss or wait for the weather to change.


Wednesday, July 25th, 2018

Beale Street Bandwagon playing at our wedding.

Our wedding was kind of loose compared to today’s productions. We had been living together for three years so it wasn’t a surprise or anything. And we had just moved to (in my case “back to”) Rochester so it was kind of small. My parents friends and relatives made up a bigger portion of the attendees. We had a few friends in Rochester and a bunch came from Indiana where we had previously lived. Most of them stayed at our apartment where they slept on the floor.

We had an anniversary the other day and I got the wedding photos out. We asked my brother to take photos and I remember him saying he had some problem with his light reading but the photos we have look great. I forgotten who all came. I remember hiring this band. Peggi and I heard them down at the lake in a place called “The Showboat.” It was right across the street from the Penny Arcade. I think they were called “Beale Street Bandwagon” or something close. They went over really good especially with the old folks. Judging by the pictures I’d say my parents’ friends had more fun than almost anyone. Peggi and I had a blast.

Jazz Fest Vs World Cup

Tuesday, June 26th, 2018

Windy clear day at Sea Breeze, New York

Today is the halfway point of the Jazz Fest and The World Cup so it is too early to predict a winner but if I had to choose now there is no question, the World Cup wins. There has been an abundance of sensational matches. Unpredictable and thrilling, two words I could associate with this year’s lineup. We’ve time shifted games so we can watch them all but we’re at the stage now where two games are played simultaneously to settle the final standings of each group. Half go on, of course, and yesterday Spain tied Morocco with a late goal at the same time as Iran tied Portugal. And today we learn whether Messi goes home.

Life is short. Except if you’re Pete Tierney (no relation to the Tierney side of my family). Pete lived at Saint Ann’s down the hall from where my parents were for the couple years of their lives. He was in his 105th year and his obit was in the paper today. He attributed his long life to Mt Gay Rum. “Just the right amount every day.” There was another fellow on the same page who died with only one regret, that he didn’t live long enough to see Donald Trump thrown out of office. Old guys like me say they check the obits everyday and if we don’t see our picture in it we carry on.

I’ve been keeping track of the groups we’ve heard at the Jazz Fest over here.

Big Ten Mystery

Thursday, June 14th, 2018

Paul Dodd playing soccer for Indiana University vs Saint Louis in 1968

Summertime around here is way too busy. It is short so activities are scheduled at a manic pace and the season flies by. It takes a real effort to slow things down. We are still a week away from the official start of the season but by then the days will already be getting shorter. Jazz Fest starts next week, nine nights of music downtown, and the days will be consumed with World Cup matches. We have already recorded the opening match between Russia and Saudi Arabia so we’ll have to catch up with that after dinner.

I think back to my first year at Indiana University where our soccer coach, Jerry Yeagley, gave us a talk at one of the first practices. He was telling us how much time we would be expected to put into practice and travel to away games. He said I know you will find this hard to believe but when you get that busy you would think that your grades would suffer but he told us it was just the opposite. Something like the busier we were, the the better we use our time. I really wanted to believe that.

Redolent Of Pig

Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

Stone fence, green pasture, cloudy sky

I came home from Spain with way too many photos and if I had any common sense I would be rethinking my picture taking hobby. Around Rochester I collect a few photos everyday and I don’t even notice the time it takes to squirrel them away. When they pop up randomly, while the library is shuffled on our tv, I am usually happy to revisit the reason I took the photo. But we’ve been back for ten days and I still haven’t even seen all the photos from the Camino. I’ve seen most of Peggi’s iPhone photos and I envy the gps tagging on them.

“A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago” by John Brierley is the bible for most but we ended up using my cousin’s guidebook, “Hiking the Camino de Santiago” by Anna Dintaman and David Landis. Neither come in a download version (because the profit margin is too slim?) and we didn’t want to lug the actual book so Peggi took photos of the pages. She figured we’d get to Leon before we had to return to Rochester and we did so that’s all she scanned. We went downtown today to check the book out again. We parked in the Culver Road Armory lot and walked through the Park Avenue neighborhood to the library. The Magnolia blossoms on Oxford street were falling so fast it looked like it was snowing.

The books on the Camino were in two places, the history section on the third floor and filed under “Religion” in the reference room across the street in the old building. I picked up a book written in 1926 called “Forgotten Shrines of Spain” by Mildred Stapley Byne. Quite a few of the landmarks we had just seen are listed in the index. When we got back to the Armory, a six mile round trip, we stopped in Trata for dinner and sat out on the deck. I started skimming the pages and found this timeless passage. “The vegetarian would be hard put in a Spanish monastery. The chick peas and spinach are redolent of pig just as an arroz is of cod, chicken or chorizo.” But then this, a section talking about the Virgin of Guadalupe, how her appearance was connected to a myth that the Spaniards brought to “the savage Mexicans,” a reminder that 1926 was almost a century ago. And then some downright nasty lines about “the old Muslim and Jew choked streets.”

Work Horse

Thursday, April 5th, 2018

Work horse outside of Roncesvalles Soain

We had never walked with my cousin so it was a real roll of the dice as to whether we could walk together for ten hours a day over all sorts of terrain in every weather condition imaginable. We left Roncesvalles at 8 o’clock this morning and reached a small town called Larrasoaña at six tonight. A twenty mile journey. We can walk together. It is a match. A good one.

We stopped before noon for Tortilla and fresh squeezed orange juice. It was a small cafè with two guitars in a corner and some bongos which I played for a bit. I had some Manchego in my pack, soft and seeping from the day before. We had that a few hours later along with some figs. And we finally set down here and ordered a beer, Estella Galicia, aceitunas, ensalada con atun, some thinly sliced jamon and some delicios Sopa de Ajo.

My cousin is a farm girl. She grew up outside of Dundee. She knows horses and owns a race horse now. She says this horse is a work horse. This horse has it made. We’re the work horses.

We will sleep like babies.

No Draft

Friday, March 9th, 2018

No Draft bridge and Peggi on Penfield Road in Rochester New York

Has this “No Draft” graffiti really been on this railroad overpass since the Viet Nam War? Abolishing the draft seemed like such a noble movement back then. Seems like “Call of Duty” buffs voluntarily fight our wars now and the rest of us just tune the whole thing out.

We buy our coffee at Canaltown, Rochester’s oldest coffee roaster. We left our car in their parking lot yesterday and walked over to Phil Marshall’s house to deliver a cd of live songs from our first two months playing together. He wasn’t home so we slid it in the mail slot in his front door. Phil texted that he had a new guitar and a very scaled down pedal board he was looking forward to using at last night’s gig. But he came down with a cold and we had to go to the ME rolodex. Steve Piper joined us on guitar and it was all new again.

We walked up to the library today to pick the copy of “Fire & Fury” that Peggi had reserved. We had an early dinner at Lakeside Hots in the former Vic’s Place overlooking the lake. It is run by former Vic & Irv’s employees and it is every bit as good as it ever was. Peggi left from there to drive along the lake to our tax guy’s place. She’s filing for my mom too, the last piece of business we have to do for her. I walked home and crossed paths with a mailman. I asked him how many miles he walks in a day. It was complicated because he said he does five different routes each week but he came up with a average of eight. I told him eight was pretty impressive and I explained that I was walking to get ready for a hike across Spain.

Margaret Explosion plays Wednesdays in March at the Little Theatre Café. Here’s “Pedal Pusher” with Phil Marshall on guitar.

Margaret Explosion - Pedal Pusher
Margaret Explosion – Pedal Pusher

At Last

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

Sign on side of the road in Wolcott, New York

I collect photos of signs. I put two hundred of them on a Tumblr blog (Funky Signs) a few years ago and I’ve got a lot more to put-up there but I’m not sure Tumblr is the best place for them. I spotted this one along the side of the road in Wolcott this afternoon. I usually stop the car and get out to take the picture but this sign was so strange I was afraid to get out of the car.

We were not sure how to read the last two lines. “AT THE LAST TRUMP” or “AT LAST THE TRUMP.” I googled the phrase when we got back home found that it comes from the King James Bible translation of 1 Corinthians 15:52. “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

Does this, the rapture, have anything to do with the election of Donald Trump? I think it might.

Critical Thinking

Monday, January 29th, 2018

Small trees and my shadow along Lakeshore Boulevard

The way that neon green, plastic snow shovel looks leaning against the olive green vinyl siding on that house. The big empty lot on Bouckhart Street. Five or six houses could fit there. Why isn’t it developed? Is it some sort of brown field? Those narrow windows on the old farm house have been replaced. The original windows went right to the floor and they’ve filled that space in with wood. The negative space between the green shrubs in front of that white house is much stronger that the positive greenery.

The two large dogs in the picture window of that house look insane. These people have two identical white Hyundai cars in their driveway. The amount of trash along the side of the road really gets ratcheted up the closer we get to 7/11. The flattened aluminum snow shovel in front of Starbucks on East Ridge Road. And I mean flattened. It must have been run over a hundred times. Its still intact but you couldn’t even use it to shovel snow.

This is what goes on when when you walk for two hours a day.

17 Minute Mile

Saturday, January 20th, 2018

Road guard near Eastridge High School in Rochester, New York

I remember when someone broke the four minute mile. Was that Jim Ryan? Google would know. We walked up to Wegman’s today and took a round about route. We divided the miles there by the time it took us to get there and determined that had walked a few 17 minute miles. We’re still thinking of walking El Camino in April so we calculate these sort of things. We’ve skied so much in the last month we have sort of forgotten how to walk. We didn’t really need much at Wegman’s but we needed a destination.

We sampled cheese and ran into my cousin. She’s helping take care of her brother and that has become a black hole. He blames his problems on her. Black holes take a long time to describe but it was a fun conversation. We were still in the cheese section when Cynthia Howk from the Landmark Society spotted Peggi. She couldn’t wait to tell her how much she like Peggi’s post on the Hershey house on her old neighborhood. And she pushed Peggi again to do a book on Don Hershey.

We stopped in Aman’s Farm Market on the way back and spotted an obit near the counter for the woman who was always behind the counter. We picked up some Cuba cheese and a bag of roasted peanuts which we ate on the way back. I feel like we are already on the Camino.

Close Your Eyes

Friday, January 19th, 2018

Kim's Xerox machine self portrait

I don’t know how I met Kim. Maybe it was through Mary Flower because she lived in my dorm. Kim lived in the dorm across the street. Kim’s boyfriend was still in high school in Indianapolis. He was a mythical, legendary figure until I met him the next year. He (and his sideburns) are in the open scene of my movie of Norm and Pam’s Wedding.

Other than hanging out in Kim’s dorm the first thing I remember doing with her was making Xerox copies of our faces. Kim had done this before and she led us to an office on campus where we were able to walk right up to a copy machine and put our faces down on the glass. I remember asking if she was sure it was safe for our eyes. She suggested we close them. The portraits remind me of Leonardo da Vinci drawings.

Suburban Peasents

Sunday, January 14th, 2018

John Gilmore and Bill Hill in madres in 1966

Our friend, John, brought three photos over for us to scan. He and another kid were pictured in each and he was pretty sure the other guy was Rex Daniels, a classmate of ours who was killed by friendly fire in Viet Nam. The other guy looked like Bill Hill to me and I confirmed it by going to the scans of our yearbook that another classmate had sent me so that I could make the name tags for an upcoming reunion.

Spellcheck didn’t like the way I spelled madres so I looked it up and found Madras fabric was generally regarded as belonging to the peasant class in its native India. In the 1930s madras clothing became a status symbol in the US because only American tourists who could afford Caribbean vacations had access to it.

Madres shirts became wildly popular when we were in high school. Madison Avenue advertising giant David Ogilvy coined the phrase “guaranteed to bleed” and used this as a selling point rather than a defect. A 1966 catalog advertisement stated: “Authentic Indian Madras is completely handwoven from yarns dyed with native vegetable colorings. Home-spun by native weavers, no two plaids are exactly the same. When washed with mild soap in warm water, they are guaranteed to bleed and blend together into distinctively muted and subdued colorings.”

I see those really slim jeans on kids now and I remember boiling stretch cotton/nylon jeans in water on the stove when my mom wasn’t home so they would get as tight as possible. Add British Walkers and you had the complete package. But John went one step beyond with his madres belt.

Before The War On Coal

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

Check written to Fowler Coal in Bloomington Indiana

I cleaned off our answering machine today, a major accomplshment. We still have a wired line but don’t answer it much. The messages were stockpiled and the earliest were from my parents, both calling near the end of their lives for help. I recorded them on to my iPad in GarageBand and saved them as an mp3. They are heartbreaking but hard to let go of.

I am happy to see Steve Hoy saw my last post. He says he doesn’t remember writing it and that is why I save this stuff.

I found this old check in a box. I only kept a few checks, like the one I wrote to Swing-In Pizza for $3.98. Steve and I rented a whole house in Bloomington for $85 a month. It had a coal burning furnace and we had to clean the ashes out and put them in metal ash can outside. (My father always called our garage cans “ash cans” and I always thought that was odd since we never put any ashes in there.) As the winter wore on in Bloomington we got too lazy to take the ashes out so we’d pile them up on the concrete basement floor. I went down there one night to feed the fire and it wasn’t quite dark so the lights were off. I noticed the four foot high pile was glowing red hot.

Buy, Sell

Thursday, December 28th, 2017

Dead end sign on Wisner Road in Winter

We waited for double-digit degrees before strapping on our skis and we shoveled the driveway to warm up. My ski boots are plastic on the bottom so it makes it exciting just trying to stand up while shoveling. We went through the woods again and were out in the middle of the golf course when our financial guy called. He was home for the holidays but our question couldn’t wait. We were looking for losses to declare before the end of the year, losses in the the best market ever. We needed to offset the financial gains we made with the sale of some art. We were plenty warm until he called.

I love winter. I’m not crazy about how my skin dries out but everything else about it is cool. I like staying in, working on projects, reading by the fire and watching movies at night. But most of all I like getting outside to walk, split wood, shovel or – best of all – ski. And this has been a stellar year for that. Fresh snow just when you need it and temps well below freezing.

I’ve dialed back so far this winter I keep forgetting to check in here. After ten years practice I’m not contemplating a dead end but I could see it happening. What’s to report, or record or review? Well, we’re keeping warm.

Poor Man’s Router

Monday, December 18th, 2017

Looking across Eastman Lake in Durand Eastman Park, Rochester, New York

Unless my math is off we’ve skied seven days this winter and it’s not even officially winter yet. We had to get out there early today because forty degrees and rain is moving into our region. A good start.

I gave my new 45 case a coat of primer tonight. I plan to paint it black (and I just so happen to have a London Records single with that name). It is about four feet long and two shelves high. A modest collection. I got rid of the duplicates between Peggi’s and my collections from our respective youths and I kept most of the seventies and eighties stuff. I got rid of the crap but kept some stuff that is so bad it’s good. We’re gearing up for another 45 party.

I bought some seven inch wide boards at Lowe’s and cut channels to slide portions into so there are eight chambers in the shelf. A proper ruler would have been the tool for that but I don’t have one. I thought about clamping a straight edge on the boards and running my circular saw, set at a shallow, 1/8 inch depth, though but that seemed like too much work, adjusting the guide for each saw blade width. So I used my table saw and cut the channel on the bottom side of the board with the blade just barely poking up from the table. Managed to not cut any finger tips off. We have Part 1 and Part 2 of that song as well.