Archive for the ‘Dear Diary’ Category

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.

Bury Me

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

Paul and Peggi shadows on golf course while skiing

There is a volunteer cross country ski foundation that grooms the golf course at Durand each Winter. It’s $10 for four months and if you are a member you can check out the conditions before leaving the house. They had already groomed a few trails by the time we got down there this afternoon so we were able to ski up to the lake but the ground is not frozen yet so it got sticky. We are supposed to get another foot tonight so that will help.

Mega Fig Leaf Man

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

Big leaf in woods near Lake Ontario

Pete LaBonne has a song called “Mega Fig Leaf Man” and, of course, I thought of it we when came across this. The 1994 release includes “Down Where The Bitey Things Breed” and “Trophy Bowler.” The best seven bucks you will ever spend.

We spent the afternoon at the bottom of the hill behind our house. We drove down there and strategically parked behind a tree so we wouldn’t clobber the car when we set the 18 inch sections of red oak free. I rolled the first section down switchback style and then Peggi positioned it to catch the following sections. John Gilmore sold me his chainsaw when he left the country and I gave that thing a workout today. The tree was too heavy to roll over so each cut I made touched the earth before the section came free. I’ll be heading over to Titus Mower to have it sharpened tomorrow.

Minimalist Entry

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

Furniture by the side of the road in Rochester, New York

These two pieces of furniture, out by the road in front of the horse barn on Wisner Road, crystallized the day for me.

Day Off

Tuesday, September 5th, 2017

Kathy Krupp's Porch

The lakeshore is usually overcrowded on Labor Day but there has been nothing usual about this summer. It felt like summer as walked along the beach but there weren’t enough people down there. The lake levels are still high. There is not much beach. It rained a lot this year and the rain kept the temperatures down. We swam after walking but the water in our street pool is down to 70 degrees. I’m not complaining, just cataloging. I use the search engine in this blog to keep track of the last ten years.

We have plenty of jalapeños but our tomatoes are still mostly green. We made salsa with those ingredients and had our neighbors down for a visit. I showed them my new drawings and we talked mostly about race and prejudice. It was a lot more fun than it sounds.

It was a perfect night for reading on the porch.

Rescue Tree

Sunday, August 27th, 2017

Grasshopper in the middle of Hoffman Road, Rochester, NY

We walked by this Rhododendron a few times in the last week. About ten foot tall, it was laying on its side but the leaves were still perky. Someone had dug it out of their yard and put it out by the road for the town to pick it up. There was a pretty good sized ball of earth wrapped around the base and I tried picking it up but couldn’t.

When we got back home, we saw our neighbor, Jared, was working on his pond with his friend John. We told them about the tree and they offered their truck. We got it back home and dug a hole out front and dropped it in. It looks like it’s always been there.

Going Green

Sunday, August 6th, 2017

Dead tree just beyond green lake and trees in Durand Eastman Park

There is a point in every summer where there has been so much rain and it is so humid that everything turns green. Invasive weeds encroach on the paths in the woods. The trees are at their fullest and the woods is at its darkest. It is lush and beautiful. We are peaking.


Saturday, August 5th, 2017

Citlali Fabian Pop Up Show at Culver and Merchants Road

I was surprised how many people were in the Cineplex Theater Friday afternoon. We had reserved seats for Detroit and in retrospect it was probably a little silly to be excited about seeing a movie about a rebellion. Peggi grew up outside of Detroit and remembers the curfew. Rochester had its own so called “riot” three summers earlier in 1964.

I really liked Kathryn Bigelow’s “Near Dark” and then she got all big budget. We had just seen Jacob Lawrence’s “Migration” series in New York and it was trivialized in her opening scenes. (One reviewer, apparently without knowing where the illustrations came from, called it a children’s book animation.)

The movie weaved a relevant storyline, for someone who came in from the cold, but considering how little things have changed in fifty years, Detroit’s retelling should have had a lot more meat on its bones. It was a big letdown for me.

Our First Friday gallery trot was short but sweet. A pop-up gallery in the North East Triangle, the area of the city that got trendy when we left, featured Mexican photographer, Citlali Fabian. She slowly leafed through her gorgeous, square format, black and white prints, all taken in her small home town outside Oaxaca. She told us a neighbor offered to shoo the dog away in the photo above but of course that would have ruined the entire composition.

Siempre Culver

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

The summer weather has been a little spotty. I’m not one to complain about the weather but I will agree to that.

We met some friends down at the pool and when the sun moved beyond the chaise lounges I called in a pizza. There is really only one real pizza joint and they don’t deliver. Matthew offered to drive and we headed down Culver. It’s such a nice ride I told him about my Culver Road video.

Flower Child

Sunday, July 30th, 2017

Doll clothes at Irondequoit Farmers Market

I told the women who made these doll dresses that I really liked them. I wasn’t familiar with the type of doll. My sister played with Barbies and Peggi still has her 2nd generation Barbie tucked away somewhere. The dolls above are almost actual size, on second thought, more like half size. The woman told us they are sold at some store I’ve never heard of but she said it like it was a really common store and she said they were reasonably priced. Peggi pointed to one of the dresses (not shown in the blow-up of this photo) and told the woman how much she liked it. I asked if she made clothes to human scale and she said, “People ask me that all the time but I don’t”

We had to move our car down the street tonight because our next door neighbor is having another house concert. One of those singer/song writer affairs. I get nervous in those sit-down, rapt attention situations so we usually skip them. But we did go to his first house concert about six years ago. It was Eric Taylor and Eric is back again tonight. So we might pop in somewhere after the break and check out a few songs.

We heard my new favorite band last night in the most unlikely setting. I already wrote about them when we last heard them in February so I’ll just copy paste that description here.

“Vocalist Debbie Kendrick has all the laid back confidence in the world and she backs that up with a voice that commands your attention in the most understated manner. The material is top-shelf gospel-tinged, soul and blues tunes like “John the Revelator.” She has the perfect band with Sean Pfeifer playing rythmic, percussive guitar. Bassist, Mike Patric, is as solid as a rock and drummer Pete Monacelli swings like crazy on one drum, a snare, that he massages with a pair of the most well seasoned, plastic brushes I have ever seen. This band in amazing.”

Lazy Eye

Thursday, July 20th, 2017

Out of focus sun spots on pavement on our street

My ears are still ringing from Saturday night’s Big Ditch/Nod double billing at the Firehouse Saloon. That’s a great place for rock n’ roll. Mostly an empty room with very few clunky chairs and a great sound system. Big Ditch was tight as a drum and Nod was loose as a goose, at one point stopping a song because something was out of whack. I hadn’t seen a band do that in years. In fact I thought that was one of the rules of rock & roll. You never stop a song. Anyway, I loved both bands.

The place is loud as hell. You can’t distinguish one word of the vocals. I’m thinking next time I’ll bring my Home Depot ear muffs and it will be perfect.

We have been spending an unhealthy amount of time following the antics of the US royal family. I’m getting tired of the mind-blowing. House of Cards is much better. We just wrapped up season 5. The show got off to a great start early on but got bogged down with complications in the the 3rd and 4th season. And I was really worried about the Trumpster upstaging season 5.

I’m happy to say he could not. The House of Cards players are better looking. They’re smarter. Trump is a pretty good actor but the HoC actors are much better and therefore much more engaging.

Dolce Vento

Thursday, July 13th, 2017

Chairs on back deck at Rocco's in Rochester, New York

The dining room at Rocco was full when we arrived so we sat on the back deck in a light rain. We knew nothing about the wines on the list so we asked the server for a full-bodied, dry red. Mark, the owner and chef, stopped by the table and we asked how his father was doing. Rocco is named after our old dentist. We were told Rocco passed around Christmas.

I’d like to recommend:

Polpo Alla Griglia $12
grilled octopus, gigante beans, green sauce

Insalata Caesar Cardini $9
romaine, garlic-anchovy dressing, pecorino


Garage Sales For Dummies

Tuesday, July 11th, 2017

Books at garage sale in Rochester, New York

We were headed up to Wegman’s on our bikes. We needed just about everything so I had three bags in my basket. There were garage sales on every side street and we turned down one that had a sign pointing to a “Monster Garage Sale.” I was kind of intrigued by this graphic poster but we moved along without buying anything.

Peggi had pointed out the book, “Blogging For Dummies,” and I’m wondering now what kind of advice it would have offered.

I think the hardest part is just doing it. Like meditation you have to stop what you’re doing and collect yourself for a few moments. To make that act more tolerable I just try to amuse myself by what I write. If I don’t have anything to say I just start typing and it is fun to see where it goes. For me, my photos are an aide. They get the ball rolling even if they have nothing to do with the content of my post. And often the photo is far more interesting than what I write. That’s ok with me. I get a sense of release when I hit “Publish” and then I get on with my day. It is ridiculously selfish.