Archive for the ‘Leaving Rochester’ Category

Miracle Of The Espresso Beans

Thursday, April 19th, 2018

Old no passing  sign on small town road in Spain

The first leg of our journey today was a long stretch. The guide book called it “a slog.” After all the the knock out beauty of the countryside we’ve passed through I guess the word fit. The stone path went almost perfectly straight through seventeen Kilometers of one wheat or barley field after another with no small towns for cafè con leche o zoom de naranja naturale. At the top a small hill Peggi broke out the second little package of chocolate covered espresso beans that she brought all the way from Starbucks on Ridge Road at Goodman.

I fell asleep last night reading the fantastic story of Santiago, James the Greater, and the reason for the 1000 year old pilgrimage. About ten years ago my mother let me borrow an article that was in one of the magazines she subscribed to. It was titled “Jesus Without The Miracles – Thomas Jefferson’s Bible and the Gospel of Thomas.” She thought I would like and I did. It has really stuck with me.

The gist of the article is the similarity between the gospel of Thomas, one of the early gospels that the church hierarchy snuffed out, and Thomas Jefferson’s version of the King James Bible. Thomas story of the life of Christ had no miracles in it, not as sensational a story as the four evangelists. And Thomas Jefferson took a pair of scissors to his New Testament and cut out all the miracles. Both were left with an exceptional but believable Jesus. Of course they took all the fun out.

More Cowbell

Friday, April 6th, 2018

Statue of Cristo in San Fermin Cathedral in Pamplona Spain

In the place we stayed last night, a one star pension, the proprietor told us “boots stay here,” as he pointed to a shelf near the check in stand. The three of us stayed in one room and we were so tired we hit the sack after a shower. We had pushed it so we could get to Pamplona with enough energy to celebrate Maureen’s sixtieth birthday today. Here we found a three star hotel with perhaps the best restaurant in Pamplona and they let us take the elevator up with our muddy shoes on.

For days we now our primary source of music has been the occasional cowbells on cows, sheep or horses. Always only one cowbell to a cluster for some reason. Perhaps on the dominant one or the most ornery. Sometimes a cowbell in a pasture off to our right would answer another to our right creating the most intriguing polyrhythms. After dinner we listened to parishners of San Fermin Cathedral chant the rosary with an organ accompaniment, a deep trance like experience.

Bad Friday

Friday, March 30th, 2018

Broken statue in yard near Sea Breeze, New York

Dunkin Donuts (both word spelled wrong in their mark) doesn’t jack up the prices on their goods just because they have you hostage behind the airport security perimeter. And they accept Apple Pay which is almost like not really paying for something. I ordered two medium cappuccinos and while I was waiting for my order the girls behind the counter were saying today was not a Good Friday but a bad Friday. I asked why it was a bad Friday and they said “all the little things that are going wrong today.” Nothing like a crucifixion or anything.

I feel asleep reading the Chesterton paperback on Saint Francis, something I found at my brother’s house in the books my father left behind, and he was equating Francis’s purposeful application of the Christian life to Giotto’s paintings. And this morning, before we left for the airport, I was looking at my Philip Guston book and his painting to his mentors caught my eye (again.)

I look for coincidences on Good Friday. I free associated my way through an interpretation of the Passion Play a long time ago. The Stations were my favorite thing about the years I spent in a Catholic Church.

As anyone who reads this knows, I was named “Paul” because I was born on the feast day of Saint Paul of the Cross, who dedicated his life to the teaching of lessons learned from Christ’s death on the cross. Peggi and I are starting a pilgrimage, we’re calling it a walk, on Good Friday. All coincidence. But I did bring the tiny relic, from either Saint Paul’s body or his cross, that Father Shannon, a family friend, brought back from Italy when I was young.

OK, when you’re done reading this post you can go forward by clicking the small link above the title above (Bad Friday)”

Splitting Minutia

Thursday, March 29th, 2018

Paul and Peggi walking with back packs in mirror on Hoffman Road Rochester, New York

I suppose I could do without pencils and paper for a month but I don’t want to so I’ll be packing one pound’s worth of those items. Without them I’d be below my self-imposed ten pound limit and I thought long and hard about it. There have been so many tiny details to fuss over, the right clothing for a wide range of possible weather conditions, adapters and chargers for our devices, essential bank cards, boarding passes and and passports, that it has left us exhausted. It is going to be such a relief to get on the plane.

I remember my painting teacher, Fred Lipp, telling me how he worked on these large but incredibly subtle paintings for years and at some point, realizing that he was “splitting minutia,” he quit painting altogether. Of course he returned but his story emphasized the pitfalls trying to get everything in order.

We took our last walk in the US today although we are probably in for some moving sidewalk action tomorrow.

Plus Sign

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

Rusty boat on Summerville Dock in Rochester, New York

Peggi took this photo of a dry-docked boat in Summerville when we were wandering around by the river. We saw one very similar to this in Sausalito when we visited our friends.

Snowflakes are in the air this morning and St. Patty’s, the unofficial first day of Spring, is just around the corner. This is ideal walking weather and the first order of business each day is determining la ruta. We can only walk so far north in this part of the country, something like a mile, but the other three directions are unlimited. The trick is to plot a loop with as little overlap as possible. And the route must be somewhere near ten miles.

We pinpoint our location in Google Maps, add a destination and then use the “plus sign” feature to extend our walk to the appropriate length loop. We were on the high side of ten the last few days and need to keep pushing to prepare for the minimum twenty mile first day’s walk over the Pyrenees into España. I am only hoping the walk across Spain will be as much fun as exploring our nearby neighborhoods has been.

Wake Up

Monday, February 12th, 2018

Wake Up building along Cayuga Lake

This sounds like the setup for a joke but there is none. There are two Polish women in our yoga class who did the Camino last year with a third woman. Everybody says the journey changes you and in their case it drove a permanent wedge between them and the third person. We are planning to do it with my cousin and I’m hoping we experience a different sort of change. But I have no expectations.

Most people do the Camino for a reason. Often it is a spiritual one. In the movies we have seen about the trip pilgrims ask each other why they are doing the journey. I would not know hoot answer that question. Maybe I will know once we have done it.

Parallel Universe

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

Tiny house on fruit farm outside Traverse City

Northern Michigan is so pretty. It’s like Upstate New York except there are more lakes. Vineyards, fruit farms and corn are everywhere and the wildflowers, birds and vegetation are all the same as back home. Torch Lake is long and runs north south. We walked and biked along the shore in both directions but today we went perpendicularly, up the hill for two and a half miles. The road turned to dirt or, more accurately, sand as we crossed Route 31. And when it ran out we could see the next body of water.

There were fruit trees on both sides of the road. Cherry is king here and acres of trees were grouped by age. There were apple orchards and pears as well. We picked an apple and I shined it on my shirt. It was crisp and delicious.

We flew in and out of Cherry Capitol Airport in Traverse City. Our hosts bought cherry pies from two different farm stands and we discussed the merits of both. We bought dried cherries to bring back to our neighbor and on the way to the airport we stopped for a dish of cherry ice cream, the world famous Moomers Homemade Ice Cream.


Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

Pete, Shelley and Peggi walking by the Funny Farm near Paradox, New York

We were not off the grid that long, just a little over 24 hours, when my watch beeped with some Trump alert. We were out for a walk and had just passed a place the locals call the Funny Farm and I stepped into a hotspot that I wasn’t able to zero in on again. The temperature had dropped below zero the night before and our sleeping bags were not up to it but a couple cups of cowboy coffee straightened that out. There is not that much difference between that and our French Press.

It is no secret that Pete is a gourmet cook. There is a Bayou bent to his favorite recipes and an incredibly resourceful streak to his situation, their location in a mountainous food desert. For breakfast we had a homemade curry dish that started with celery and salt in oil on the wood stove. Chick peas, started from the dry position, were the main ingredient, but the cinnamon in the curry stole the show.

Once back on the grid we discovered that our calendar had changed so we decided to drive up to Lake Placid, an idyllic, small city in the high peaks of the Adirondacks. Our skis were in the car but there wasn’t enough snow to ski on. We should have brought ice skates. Mirror Lake was a giant sheet of glass, a mirror in fact. We whooped it up in the hotel with a flight of scotch at the bar before bed and smoked salmon with chopped red onion and capers for breakfast. I asked the waitress if we could walk around Mirror Lake and said, yes, just follow the red sidewalk. We did and found the sidewalk marked with he names of the 46 High Peaks and their elevations. Upper Wolf Jaw Mountain – 4,185 ft, Table Top – 4,427 ft, Nippletop Mountain – 4,620, Dix Mountain – 4,857 ft, nearby Whiteface Mountain – 4,867 ft. and and of course, Mount Marcy – 5,344 ft.

Goodbye Flash

Sunday, February 12th, 2017


The bone-headed decision to base the team in Buffalo and have them play their matches in Rochester left the Western New York Flash without a real home. The owners have moved the team, entire roster in tack, to the booming North Carolina suburbs of Raleigh Durham. Eight of us seasoned, season ticket holders gathered to mourn the WNY Flash’s departure. Bennie, the leader of the Flash Mob drum troupe, hosted the get together and decorated her home with homemade Flash banners that she had hung at the stadium over the past few years. All of our favorite players were represented. Jaelene Hinkle, Jessica McDonald, Sabrina D’Angelo, Liz Eddy, Samantha Mewis, Lynn Williams, Taylor Smith, Abby Erceg and McCall Zerboni. We watched a YouTube rerun of the the Flash winning this year’s Championship game in overtime and we made plans to travel to the opening game this year.


Saturday, November 12th, 2016

Big concrete blocks at quarry near Starkey, New York

This could be the best photo I have ever taken. And I didn’t do anything but push the button. These concrete blocks were out in front a quarrel in Starkey near Seneca Lake. We passed it, stopped the car and I got out o take a few photos. I could not take a bad photo here. The lighting was perfect, the Fall colors were peaking, the piles of distinctly different earth elements were beautiful and those concrete blocks! I would love to have some of those to scatter about the yard.

We hardly ever go to Ithaca without visiting the Johnson Museum at Cornell. I was thinking about their Otto Dix painting all day. We stopped to visit my mom on the way out of town, then stopped at the diner in Penn Yan for lunch. We sat at the counter and both ordered a club sandwich with coffee. I read the little plaques on the walls and took note of my favorites.

“Boss spelled backwards is double S.O.B.”
“When the white man discovered this country the Indians were running it. No taxes, no debt, women did all the work. White man thought he could improve on a system like that.”
“Helen Waite is our credit manager. If you want credit, go to hell and wait.”
“Tact: The ability to tell a man to go to hell and make him feel happy to be on his way.”

Our next stop was Robert Treman State Park where we walked three miles up the gorge and three miles back down on the other side so we didn’t make into Ithaca until dark. Just enough time to walk the Commons, browse the used book store where Peggi picked up a copy of “Exquisite Corpse, and have dinner at a French restaurant. Couples on both sides of us were talking election results.

Check out the audio of this Leonard Cohen interview. He left us with some solid advice.

Abstract Sign Painter

Saturday, July 16th, 2016

Road sign near Scott, New York

We stopped for coffee at the bottom of Skaneateles Lake. We were on our way to the big city to see the Philip Guston show at Hauser & Wirth in Chelsea, a big survey of the work he did between his abstract and figurative periods and it closes next week. I’m really excited about this show. It was such an exiting time. Pop was breaking out and the abstract expressionists were splitting into color field and gestural and Guston found his own way out of the whole mess.

This sign, across the street from the coffee shop looks like a flat version of of one of Guston’s paintings from this period where he pulled his forms into subjects. I will post one of the paintings when we get to the gallery.


Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

Lobby in the Fundacion Telephonica in Madrid, Spain

Last night we had a drink in a bar/restaurant where Cervantes sat and wrote. The place has half a millennia of history. This morning we walked around the convent where they recently discovered Cervantes’ remains. There is so much to see in Madrid, we like to just get out there and wander. It helps that the Spanish government continues to fund first class art shows. We picked up a Fundación Cultura guide on our first day here and we tracked down shows with that.

A Vivian Meyer show opens tomorrow but we won’t be here. Yesterday we saw the same Joaquín Torres García show we had seen at MoMA a year ago. Today we walked to the Museo Del Romanticismo where the great Czech photographer, Viroslav Tichy, has a show that opens on June 3. We were two days early for that so I’ll have to satisfy myself with with Google image searches.

We found a funky, relaxed part of the city near the Museo, maybe due to the nearby colleges, and we asked the museum workers for a recommendation for dinner. We got with the program from the onset here and have been enjoying our main meal at midday. We sat on a park bench in Plaza de España in front of the central statue of Cervantes with Sancho Panza and Don Quijote and Peggi pointed out that we were right across from the sight of Goya’s “3rd of May,” the masterpiece we had seen a few days before.

Wane In Spain

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

Juice bar in Madrid, Spain

Last night while wandering around, a most enjoyable activity and one that local couples, especially ones in our age bracket, appear to be doing in large numbers, we spotted some religious stores on Calle de la Paz. We made a note to check them out in the morning in hopes of adding a few gems to my holy card collection. This one place, “Santarrufina,” looked especially promising. The ornate sign above the door read “Compañia Española de Artículous Religiosos” and the year “1887” was written in an oval at both ends.

This morning we learned the store catered directly to churches with life sized crucifixes and chalices and priestly garments and incense burners and whole sets of the fourteen stations of the cross to choose from. We asked if they carried holy cards and they said no. A shop across the street from them had statues of Pope Francis and the Virgin in its windows and plenty of holy cards on a spinning rack inside but they were smaller than the standard size and more garishly printed with a goofy raised gold seal in the bottom corner. They had hundreds of saints but some of them were suspect. I bought a few of those, “Yemanya” and “Santísima Muerte.” Most of their goods were related to Catholicism but they also carried crystals. There was a giant one in the corner. And they had a section devoted to Buddha, a rack of essential oils and candles shaped like penises.

Catholicism is on the wane in Spain.


Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

Tops of buildings in Madrid, Spain

We bought fruit last night for the room and we started with that this morning, bananas, a mystery fruit (cross between a peach and an apricot?) and some dried figs and prunes. We were able to get up a little earlier and we were on the streets at eleven. We stopped for coffee on Geronimo in the Plaza de Canalejas across from the brand new Four Seasons hotel (the building they are gutting after leaving the centuries old facade standing). Cafe Del Príncipe had a desayuno especial that included a small glass of fresh squeezed orange juice and Tortilla Española with pan and coffee. We bought a postcard for my mom and walked into Peurta del Sol by the Apple Store to Vodaphone where we got SIM cards for the phone and iPad. The guard in the store suggested we go to the basement of Corte Inglés to mail the postcard so we did that and then stumbled on the “Uno de 50″ section in the store. Peggi took some photos for my sister, Ann, who sells this funky Spanish line of handmade jewelry at Parkleigh in Rochester.

We walked by a Fundación art exhibition co-sponsored by MoMA but it was closed Monday. Peggi read about a nice place to eat up there and we happened to walk by it so had their Menu del Día. “Red de Pescado,” catch of the day with shrimp with the heads on. I had a Country Salad and Peggi had Gazpacho.

We walked over to Calle de Alcalá 13 where a Fundación show with Goya in it was but they were closed too. So we decided to go back there tomorrow. We put six point three miles on our Moves app and I did it all on crutches. I have a new found comradery with other handicapped people on the street. We check out each other’s gear.

It doesn’t get dark here until ten. We could set the clocks this way in the US. We walked through the Plaza Mayor and over to the Mercado de San Miguel where we had some olives, some cheese and dry Vermouth from a tap. We split the Vermouth, it was served over ice and cost one and one half Euros. We walked around some more, found a street with some religious shops on it, Calle de la Paz. We plan to go over there tomorrow to look for holy cards. We stopped in Plaza de Angel at the place that has live jazz and we had drink at an outdoor table. We have finally adjusted to the time zone change.

The Parkway

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

Trailer cottages along Ontario State Parkway

On the question of whether the city of Toronto or the drive to the city along the Lake Ontario Parkway is more interesting, I guess I would come down on the drive side. I love everything about Route 18, the Public Works Parkway design with its beautiful stone bridges, the dreamy views of the lake, the fact that there is hardly any traffic, the orchards, vineyards and fruit stands, not one gas station between Rochester and Buffalo and the small summer vacation towns with the lighthouses from yesteryear, like Olcott, where we stopped for lunch. I was looking forward to the ride home.

We were behind a cluster of trucks on the QEW as we headed out of town and I was thinking about how John Baldessari talked about the back end of trucks looking like modern art paintings. We were listening to AM740, Toronto’s “Timeless Hits station.” They were playing songs from 40 years ago, recapping the hit of 1976. If someone wanted to know why punk came about, that year’s playlist would be the most concise answer you could provide.

Power Plant

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

Japanese band playing on the street in Toronto

The Lewiston bridge was waiting for customers when we crossed into Canada. The trip to Toronto was a breeze. I thought there was supposed to be long lines at the border and back-ups near the city but we were early for check-in at our hotel. We took the Parkway and Robert Moses along the shores of Lake Ontario, skipped the thruway entirely and were downtown in three plus hours.

We set an all-time Moves record on our app by walking from our downtown hotel to the Harbourfront Centre along the northern shore of Lake Ontario. The energy generated in the reconditioned Power Plant is all from the power of contemporary art. The current show is mostly video displayed floor to ceiling in empty, pitch black rooms. We were mesmerized by Leslie Hewitt’s “Untitled Structures.” Shot in Memphis, Chicago and New York the pieces touched on civil rights. Hewitt worked with a cinematographer, Bradford Young, and created 35mm film studies (barely moving still images), transferred them to HD video and used dual projector software to juxtapose two images at a time on perpendicular walls.

We found a Portuguese restaurant near our hotel and had the best grilled squid ever. We were back out on the streets in time to catch this Japanese band playing on the street.

John Brown’s Farm

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

View from Mirror Lake Inn in Lake Placid New York. Photo by Peggi Fournier

The outside world finds a way in even if you are off its grid. Pete and Shelley’s literary recommendation for us was Sinclair Lewis’ “It Can’t Happen Here.” Guess it closely mirrors the Trumpster’s run.

Speaking of mirrors, we spent the next night on Mirror Lake in the Adirondacks. After leaving the woods and retreiving a couple days worth of messages and not finding anything urgent we continued north instead of heading home. Our view, from the town of Lake Placid, encompassed the high peaks and the ramps for the ski jumps in the Olympic Village. We were there in the way low season, a few weeks after winter and well before summer.

We walked to the the center of town and had dinner. I ordered a John Brown IPA that was brewed by the Great Adirondack Brewing Company located just behind the restaurant. The description in the menu read, “John brown, a fiery abolitionist, came to Lake Placid in 1855 to build a community of free men. After being hung for his his raid on Harper’s Ferry his final resting place is on his farm in Lake Placid. Our rebellious India Pale Ale with a mountain of brilliant pine and citrus hop flavor, is an plosives tribute to John Brown and his fellow rebels. Pushing the boundaries of the status quo and fighting for the betterment of mankind.

House In The Woods

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

Vines on trees in Spring Valley early April

We went off grid for a few days but I was still able to recharge my watch with solar power. Cellular service ends just before the closest town to Pete and Shelley. We got right down to business on arrival. We caught up on health issues and then mutual friends. We watched the snow melt in the full sun and slide off the metal roof of their shed. We boiled water outdoors for our French press coffee maker. We took long walks down the road, first in one direction and then in the other, Setting an all time record with our Moves app.

Listened to Pete play the Wurlitzer electric piano without plugging it in. I took photos of the compost pile and played “Ambulance Blues” from my watch on the phone in Peggi’s pocket. We drank a twenty year old bottle of Cava, one that Shelley’s parents had in their basement when they moved into an assisted living facility. We studied their book shelves and looked at old photos from a box in the back of a drawer. We sat around the enamel-top table by candlelight and talked for hours without googling a thing.

World’s Best Tour Guide

Monday, February 29th, 2016

Remember the little old lady who lived in a shoe? This is the cutest houseboat in Sausilito, California

Our friend, Brad Fox, is the world’s best tour guide. He drove to our location, a route he takes daily to his job, picked us up and asked where we wanted to go stating “I’ll take you anywhere you want to go” and as we drove, “let me know if you want me to pull over to take a photo. I’ll stop anywhere you like.” A Rochester native, the Bay Area is now his town.

With five of us in his Chevy Blazer he took us to the famous orange bridge but not over it yet. We turned right at the foot and drove up a winding road to a fort in the Marin Headlands where we had spectacular views of the bay, the city and the ocean. I think we watched a helicopter fly under the bridge. Looking down on the bridge none of us were quite sure what we were seeing. On the way down Brad pointed to his favorite campground, Kirby Cove. We crossed the bridge and took an immediate hard left at another fort. Brad chatted up the guy in the gift store as we climbed to the top. Peggi took the best panorama ever with her new phone.

Back in Sausalito we ate Mexican and recaffeinated. Peggi and I toured Lazlo’s houseboat, first tied to the docks here some forty two years ago. It’s woodsy like an Adirondack cabin. Each houseboat has a distinct personality, one that oddly enough reflects the owner’s own. Without any Lowel lights on hand we made plans to shoot the covers of the two classic MX-80 Ralph Records releases in the morning when the foggy sunlight was diffuse. Rich had a sealed copy of each and art files are needed for an upcoming vinyl only rerelease.

MX-80 Sound - Someday You'll Be King
MX-80 Sound – Someday You’ll Be King

Peer Pier

Friday, February 26th, 2016

House boats in Sausalito, California

Our friend, Rich, said he’d pick us up at the airport in SF and he did, no small feat in the sprawling bay area. What he didn’t say was he didn’t have a car. So the three of us Ubered over the orange bridge to Marin County where Andrea met us wearing her Tupac t-shirt. She told us we might feel some queasiness in their house and if we felt that coming on we should put these little elastic wrist bands on. I sometimes get seasick so I put both on.

We took a tour of the docks. Just like the “neighborhoods” in the nursing homes they all have different personalities. There is a funky, painted lady vibe to a lot of the houseboats here but each is their own little universe and very dreamy to peer into. By comparison I would call Rich and Andrea’s mid-century modern and the dreamiest houseboat in Sausilto. A photo spread of it would fit nicely in the pages of AD Spain.

The four of us did yoga before dinner. Andrea was the teacher and gentle but firm. I took my white bracelets off and slept like a baby.