Archive for the ‘Life Is A Spell’ Category

Shuffle My World

Saturday, February 17th, 2018

Lester Beall drawings at RIT University Gallery

One of my favorite features of the map app on my tablet is its ability to suggest a restaurant. I’ve used in with great success in unfamiliar neighborhoods when we’re out of town but just as often when we’re in Rochester. We were on University Avenue, coming home from an art opening at RIT, and we found Fiamma Centro on nearby Elton Street. We found Roux on Park Avenue a few months back with the same feature. The function compliments the shuffle feature on my music library or shuffle slideshow feature on my photo library.

Lester Beall is the first Graphic Designer to have a one man show at MoMA.He was also creatively involved in drawing, painting and photography. These abstract drawings above predate Jackson Pollack’s work. In 2017 his son-in-law found a crate filled with Beall drawings done between 1946 and 1954 and they are on display now at RIT’s University Gallery. We saw the show yesterday afternoon and stuck around for Roger Remington‘s lecture on Beall’s contribution to American design language. My eyes were still dilated from an earlier eye doctor appointment so I was seeing starbursts around all points of light even with my dark plastic sunglass inserts.

Shovel Ready

Sunday, February 11th, 2018

Mornings like this I shovel my way to the street in my pjs in order to bring back the newspaper. It is not as heroic as it sounds. I like shoveling. There is something really cozy about hand shoveled snow piles. They mark a good winter. I shoveled driveways for extra cash in high school. You get warm in a hurry. I don’t like the way a driveway looks when it is cleared with a snowblower. And the sight of snow plastered against a tree bothers me. When I have my heart attack or throw my back out I will feel differently. Our friends just bought a snowblower and I am happy for them.

Home Away From Home

Saturday, February 10th, 2018

Three quarter view of old barn near Aurora, New York

We had been watching the weather, timing our annual winter trip to the mountains and we thought we had the perfect window. It even coincided with Peggi’s birthday. But the predictions for 4-8 on the day we planned to leave and then 6-8 on the day we would be returning charged our barely hatched plans. We opted for some place closer to home. There are almost as many historical markers as there are people in Aurora, New York. We were last there for Thanksgiving and we made a note to return when the snow fell.

We checked into the Aurora Inn and asked for a nearby place to cross=country ski. First things first. The desk clerk told us about Long Point State Park, a couple of miles further down the road. The park is right on Cayuga Lake and the ski trails run all the way up to the top of the hill overlooking the lake. It was so grey and snowy we couldn’t even see across the lake. The trails were well marked but they all ran in circles and we kept coming back to our tracks. We got back to our room just in time to catch the second half of the Copa del Rey semi-final and when that finished we went downstairs for dinner. This place is pretty comfortable.

On the way back to town we stopped in the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge and skied their trails. There were tracks out there but all made by animals. We had the place all to ourselves. It is incredibly beautiful there, even in this reduced palette season. Our neighbors across the street said they hadan extra pair of tickets to Sean Rowe at Abilene and they wanted to know if we would like them. We were too beat to take them up on the offer but we did look up Sean Rowe. He reminded us of Waylon Jennings so we put on the “Best Of” songs that Sparky gave us.

Around The Block

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

Stewart Davis oil painting on paper 2017

We have a few works by Anne Havens. We bought a print from a show at Pyramid’s Village Gate location before we ever met her. And we bought a few of her 6x6s. Your can almost always spot an Anne Havens. The walls at RoCo were were full at the recent Member’s Show but our favorite piece there was not in the show. It was in the small sales gallery. It attracted my eye when we came in and I couldn’t get it out of my head. We arranged to buy it on the way out. It is an acrid painting on paper but Anne Haven’s husband, Stewart Davis. No, not that Stuart Davis.

My dentist is a perfectionist. He runs an especially tight ship. So it was a little surprising to spend almost fifteen minutes in the waiting room. And then my brother walked in. What a coincidence. But when he saw me he was thinking something else. He didn’t think he had an appointment today but he had received a phone message reminding him of an appointment. And he had already missed one while he was out of town so he showed up. I thought it was strange that I didn’t get either a phone call or a text message reminder. The receptionist had called the wrong Dodd and her message also announced that the appoint had been moved back by fifteen minutes.

We have lived here four over ten years and we finally walked around the block. It is not so easy to do. Most of the street back here dead end. We walked out to Culver, up to Titus and down Titus to the library where turned north on Kings Highway. This road get pretty forlorn and the guard rails on the side of thread love little room for pedestrians and there are no turns until you get to Lake Ontario. That’s where we turned east along the lakeshore and then up Log Cabin Road through the park to where Zoo Road becomes Wisner which takes us back fun circle. 7 1/2 miles or 12 kilometers.

Corpse Pose

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

Eastridge High School in snow and sun

Jeffery’s yoga class convened last night for the first time since the holidays. He asked everyone in the class what they wanted to work on. I said “I didn’t care” but that didn’t come out right. What I really meant was “I’ll do anything.” I don’t want think here. I want to surrender. The woman next to Peggi suggested core strengthening and that is what Jefferey went with. We spent a lot of time on our backs with our legs in the air and then rolled over to do forearm plank and crocodile.

Continuing with our cross training regimen today Peggi plotted a six mile route to Wegman’s and back. Actually we’ve begun thinking in kilometers and working toward ten of those. Our route began with us walking in the east opposite direction. When left it sunny. By the time we got to Point Pleasant it was windy and raining. I was carrying a back pack. There was nothing in it but we planned to shop and came home with 22 1/2 pounds of groceries in the pack. That changed everything. The recommend you plan on limiting the things you carry to ten pounds so that will be a piece of cake.

With the recent thaw the sidewalks are littered with drug bags. That and some nasty dog droppings.

Copa Del Rey

Sunday, January 21st, 2018

Two cups of coffee at Parkside Diner in Rochester, New York

We were still reading the Sunday morning paper when Gareth Bale put Real Madrid ahead 2-0 with a beautiful goal. They went on to win 7-1 against the team La Coruña side which is hardly a match.

We heard some chainsaws down the street and we followed that noise just see what the neighbors were up to. We turned toward the lake looking for clear sidewalk since we were breaking in our new walking shoes. We debated stopping at the Parkside for coffee and then turned into it hat funky little neighborhood behind Nick’s Seabreeze Inn. It gets really really hilly in there, just like the Pyrenees at the start of El Camino. Well, not quite that hilly.

We did stop at the Parkside when come out and by the time we got home Barcelona was already ahead of Real Betis from Sevilla. Lionel Messi and the toothy Luis Suarez got two goals each in that contest. Again, hardly a match. Copa Del Rey next week!

Big Snow

Monday, January 15th, 2018

Four horses in Scotsville

We met friends in Scotsville for a ski and some soup. We trudged through a corn field and then into the woods along the river. The water was high and it seems a little early for that. We came across four young horses and my fingers froze while I struggled to capture a photo.

There’s a house out back of us, down the hill and across the road. We’re not quite sure who lives there. A kid with a skateboard and at least four adults. Peggi thinks one of them is a bartender because of the hours they see. Their driveway is really steep and they don’t like to shovel so they are always struggling to get up it. Sometimes they give up and park in the road. On Friday night, when we got the big snow, one of the cars slipped off the driveway and partially down the ravine. It came to a halt against a tree and was as such an angle that I would have been afraid to swing the door open for fear that it would be just enough to roll the car.

So it sat there until tonight around dusk when first one and then another, bigger, tow truck showed up. There were five or six guys out there, smoking cigarettes and strategizing for at least an hour before they sprung into action. Peggi got out the binoculars and we watched someone climb a ladder and attach a pulley to a big tree. Someone else crawled under the car and attached a cable. We think the second tow truck also had a cable attached because he carefully positioned himself just before they began pulling. The car came up like a big fish on a line and they brushed it off and left. We left too, to see “Lady Bird.” I loved it.


Sunday, January 7th, 2018

We had an early link to this video, one that we weren’t supposed to share, but I’m happy to hear it has gone public now. We heard stories about the Cassorla brothers long before we ever met them. Most of the stories involved pranks or explosions. They built a reputation in West Irondequoit. Once we became friends they’d bring large containers of pretzels to our parties, salty stuff their father, Red, delivered to all the mom and pop stores in the city. They’d also bring stuff that blew up pretty good.

Red worked out of a warehouse over by the Public Market and didn’t retire until his late eighties when the brothers and Red all moved out west. Red was a Sephardic Jew from Spain and his sons drove him back here every year for the holy days. They’d all come to the Little to hear the band and catch up with old friends. Red’s eyes would light up when Peggi spoke Spanish to him.

And, although we never talked about it, I think there might have been a connection to the Cassorla brothers when Peggi and I hosted a wedding reception for our bass player many years ago. I was spinning records in the living room and the bass player’s brother asked me if it was ok to set off some fireworks outside. I said “Sure” and went on playing records until we heard the explosion. Neighbors for miles around called the cops. There were ten police cars out front when they rang our doorbell. They asked if I was the owner of the house and I said, yes. They said, “Come on, we’re going downtown.” I was guilty on all counts.

They put handcuffs on me and put me in the back seat. I could see our neighbors looking out their windows at me. For some reason we never went downtown. I watched the parents of the bride and groom leave our house and the party fizzle. Peggi told me later that the remaining guests carried on a lively debate as to whether the guy that actually set the fireworks off should fess up but he couldn’t do that because he had more fireworks in his car and he worked for the City so he was afraid he would los his job. One of the guests was a lawyer and I really wish I had heard that debate. It reminds me of the “The Dinner” with Laura Linney.

My story had a beautiful, surreal ending when after an hour or so in the back seat Steve Black left the party and walked up to the cop car. The cop slowly rolled the window down and Steve said, “Officer, I have a confession to make. I set the bomb off.” I remember saying, “Steve, what are you doing?” but the officer opened the door, put handcuffs on Steve and put him in the back seat with me. After another hour, they let us go but told us we had to be in court at nine the next morning. The charges were dropped when the arresting officer failed to show up.

Cold And White

Monday, December 25th, 2017

Nighttime ski tracks in front of the house of blue lights

We had about eighteen people over last night, all family members but not all of the family. Our niece’s daughter told us she was going to stay up til three in the morning to see Santa. She is about a year younger than I was when my teacher, a nun at St. John’s, asked the class to raise their hand if they still believe in Santa Claus. It wasn’t all that mean. I certainly had my doubts and I get to tell this story every year.

Peggi’s sister sent a photo up of her two sons on the beach in Miami where they have gathered for the holidays. Hardly looked like Christmas down there. That’s the best part about the day for me now and this is a good one. Cold and white. We skied out the door, through the woods and up to the lake. The sky was intensely blue and the wind was blowing so there were fresh drifts up on the ridge. When we got back my brother was in the driveway with his wife. We took a long walk with them. We like to think we’re in training to walk the Camino in April.

And Beyond

Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

Monogramed towels at Bed Bath and Beyond

Until yesterday we were still using hand-me-down bath towels from Peggi’s parents. They last a long time but you eventually get really tired of the color. So we went on an adventure to Bed Bath and Beyond. Department stores don’t have clerks that work in them anymore. You just pick up a giant cart at the door and roll it around the store looking for what you came in there for. The carts are so big you can’t help but bump into other shoppers.

The towel department is arranged by price. The towels get thicker and longer if you are willing pay extra. Our main criteria was the color and we wanted the whole set. Two bath towels, two hand towels, two wash clothes and a bath mat. We settled on some Turkish cotton Expresso towels.

The store was really crowded because of the holiday and the cashier wanted to know if we needed gift boxes but we told her they were just for ourselves. We had a coupon that saved us ten dollars and gave her that. The woman in line behind us also had a coupon, an extra one, for twenty dollars off. She said we could have it too. I’m really starting to get in the spirit.

Only Sixteen

Thursday, December 14th, 2017

Bull's head over the bar at  Ox & Stone on Alexander Street

We spotted our neighbor in Wegman’s buying prescriptions for her mom. We usually see her out skiing in the woods and we told her how perfect the conditions were today. A fresh couple of inches, clear blue sky, newly groomed trails and just 16 degrees. Nothing sticky about that.

The Members Show at RoCo looked really good during the day light hours. Of course in a floor to ceiling, salon style show different things catch your eye each visit. We were there to pick up the Stewart Davis painting we bought from their side gallery. We chatted with Bleu and then headed over to Casey’s new joint on Alexander Street, Lanai. The restaurant wasn’t open yet and we were starved so went across the street to Ox & Stone. It was too early for dinner there too so we sat at the bar under this big bull head and ordered Spanish style tapas.

Alphabet Soup

Sunday, December 10th, 2017

Red barricade in Durand Eastman Park

Matthew made soup but he forgot to bring it out to the new place where we were rebuilding an exterior wall from the inside out. There was a large can of Campbell’s Alphabet soup out there so we heated that up for lunch and I couldn’t believe how good it was. Is that because of the salt? The first two letters I saw were a “P’ and an “E.’

I’m tired of not being able to reach the 45s on the top shelf of the book case so I’m planning on building a cabinet that will sit on the floor under a table near our stereo. That prompted me to file away some the ones that have been sitting in a stack – black column with no jackets – 45s that Peggi and I had when we were young. We didn’t know each other then but we have plenty of duplicates so I’ve been sorting those out too, keeping the copy with least amount of pops. I can usually tell which one is Peggi’s because she used to write her name on them and in some cases her name plus her boyfriend de jour.

I have a lot of friends who worked in record stores, Martin at Midtown and Record Theater, Kevin and Corrine at Record Theater, Andrea at Discount Records, and they would know the protocol for alphabetizing bands but I’m wrestling with a few things. You certainly don’t file all the “The So-&-Sos” bands under “The” so you drop the “The.” If an artist records under their own name you would file it under their last name but if they record under the name of a band with their name in it like Bobby Fuller Four or Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers I think you file them under the first letter in their first names. Do The 4 Seasons go under “Four” in the “F’s” or “4” at the beginning of the whole alphabet? And what about Little Peggy March or Chubby Checker? Do they go under their nicknames or their last names? Does Dr. John go under Dr. or Doctor or John? I went with Dr. he sits just after The Dovells.

Understanding Our World

Friday, December 8th, 2017

Paul and Peggi silhouettes at Durand Eastman Beach

As you can see from the evidence in this photo, the sun, even in the early afternoon, is way down south. Because the temperature was near freezing we felt safe enough to take our woods path up to the lake. The ticks are supposed to be inactive at 40 degrees. We had not been through the Commons in months. Someone has cleared the fallen trees and the trail is ready for cross-country skiing. We did a little extra maintenance, removing branches and fallen debris. We got all the way up to the lake without seeing any deer. Maybe the bow hunters put a dent in the population. We saw Steve Greive the other day and he said he had shot four on his property. The lake is still supposed to be a foot above normal but there is plenty of beach there.

We went by Vic’s Place to confirm the rumor that we first heard from Duane in Brooklyn. The place is clearly out of business. I don’t quite understand it. They had pulled off the impossible, keeping Vic & Irv’s secret hot sauce recipe alive, making real milkshakes and serving the best onion rings in town. They had a real comfortable place there for few years and they seemed to have a good business going. I don’t understand this world.

Common Bond

Friday, December 1st, 2017

Aloha peppers at Wegmans

Our neighbors, Jared and Sue, came to see the band for the first time this week. Jared was teasing Peggi about watching her split wood during the day and then play sax at night. I’m estimating we have three more days of splitting before all the logs that we’ve gathered will be stacked. Our weather is cooperating. The forties is perfect for working outdoors and it is supposed to be in that range for the next few days.

We had some friends over for dinner last night and we spent most of the afternoon preparing for it. We already had a bag of red peppers or I would have bought some of the “Aloha” peppers (above). Anne Havens and Stewart Davis brought a pomegranate and some dark chocolate. Pete and Gloria Monacelli brought some Australian wine with a mugshot on the label. Our common bond is art so naturally the conversation ran circles around that topic and the night flew by.

Remains Of The Day

Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

Gilbert & George Beard Painting in Chelsea

Jeffery (with two “f”s, Jeffery) is back teaching. He is easing into it, one class a week on Monday nights in the gym of the school Administration building in Brighton. I love it in there. I love looking up at the lights with their protective shields.

Last night was our third yoga class. It has been over a year since Jeffery was hit by a car in Costco’s Parking lot. He takes his time with each pose and thoroughly explains it while we ease into it. He describes the muscle groups we’re stretching and gives you the Sanskrit name for the pose. He is able to get me to focus even when I don’t want to. His class is supposed to be an hour and a half but he always goes long.

At the end of class he said something about enjoying the remains of the day and the dreamworld we enter in our sleep. Boy, did that last part work out. I had one of my favorite dreams. I was driving and the road opened up to an unfamiliar panorama view of the city. And then it took me into a really old, dense, almost European-looking part of the city, a place that was sort of familiar but I wouldn’t be able to get there if I wanted to.

I had my father in the car and I was trying to find the brick building where his doctor’s office was. We parked the car and watched a group of men swing a large, two storied, wood panel gate across the street between where we were and where we were going. We went into a crowded bar on the corner and sat with a heavy set black man who opened a small box of cigars. I took one for my father even though he never smoked. There was a group of people standing between the tables playing an electric guitar. It wasn’t plugged in. They appeared to be two couples and they were taking turns singing Byrds songs from “The Notorious Byrd Brothers” album. I looked down at the guitar case and there was a Personal Effects sticker on it. Did we know these people?

Back on the street they were swinging the gates open and it became clear that a religious ceremony had been taking place in front of a church. Someone had been speaking but the crowd was dispersing. There were small groups of people with life sized crucifixes, life-sized but with a much longer base, and it took at least three people to hold them up. One of the crucifixes was laying on the ground and I went over to get a close look at it. People gathered around me and helped me lift it up. I was thinking, “Wait, I was only looking” but it was too late. I was struggling to keep this thing upright and almost burst out laughing.

Follow The Orange Hat

Monday, November 27th, 2017

Duane in orange hat Broadway Subway stop

Not everyone can get away with wearing a bright orange hat. Peggi’s father could get away with it. I borrowed one from Rich Stim when we were in SF and I look pretty silly in Peggi’s photos. Duane is right at home in a bright orange hat and that is good for us.

We stay at his place when we’re in NY. We sleep on his couch and run around the city with him. But it is easy to get separated in a crowd or in a museum or while darting in and out of subway cars. Peggi and I are always looking around at everything and we can get separated from Duane, the only one who knows where he is going, in a second.

The trains were all screwed up last weekend. Some of the lines were closed. They were replacing the third rail on the F train near Duane’s place. We took trains past our intended stop only to switch and come back on another train. We went downtown when we were headed uptown. You can see from this photo that Duane, like most New Yorkers, gets in the zone when he’s in the subway. Its not at all like driving a car. You don’t have to keep your eyes on the road and you want to go somewhere else in your head while you’re traveling the same route over and over. We leave all the strategizing to Duane. We gawk with one eye on the orange hat.

Brilliant Corners

Sunday, November 26th, 2017

Art work on the floor for the upcoming  Small Works Show at Main Street Arts in Clifton Springs, New York

If I have my Refrigerator hat on I’m either splitting wood or cross-country skiing. If you know someone who participates in either of those activities I have great Cyber-Monday, $10 gift suggestion. I’m quite sure Thelonious Monk wasn’t thinking about stacking firewood when he named his song but that’s what I was thinking when I built the first corner for a new stack. Of course when I stepped back to admire it looked like the Tower of Pisa.

Our neighbor was out chopping up leaves with his mower and he stopped to chat. He has pretty much given up on the Bills this year. And I’m trying to decide whether to give up on or support the Rhinos by buying season tickets for next year. The current owners have been trying to raise a million plus in the next few weeks or they’re threatening to sell the team. This used to be “Soccer Town.”

What Channel Are You Watching?

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

Suffolk map on wall at Atlas Eats in Rochester, New York

The two women sitting next to us both had headphones on and they were each watching a different channel on the in-seat monitors of our Jet Blue flight. The one sitting closest to the window just about shouted, “What channel are you watching?” Everyone around turned toward her. It was a bad omen. We were delayed embarking and we had been sitting on the runway for twenty minutes when they announced there was a mechanical problem. A mechanic was summoned and he determined the parking brake was not working properly.

Our flight was cancelled and we were all left to fend for ourselves. Delta had a flight leaving for JFK in an hour but they would not honor the Jet Blue tickets. We grabbed the last two seats on a Jet Blue flight leaving at 3:15 and decided to go back home. We stopped at Atlas Eats for lunch and sat under a map of Suffolk County Long Island. JFK was just off the left side of the map. Out of reach. We would have almost been there if we had driven. I ordered the usual, Kimchee and Tofu. This dish is a killer. We got a prompt while we were eating. The Jet Blue flight was delayed. Our new boarding time was now somewhere after four.

Zen And The Art Of Wood Splitting

Tuesday, November 14th, 2017

Wood pile out back

Instead of walking, our preferred mode of exercise, we have been chipping away at the pile of unspilt wood. It was a bonanza year for free wood. It started in early Spring with the wind storm that took down about every fifth tree around here. And it finished last week when the big red oak that was hung up fell in the high winds and rain.

We are the wood scavengers around here. We learned from the old guys but they have mostly moved on. And the neighbors who don’t burn call us when their tree surgeon comes. They prune limbs to log length and we scoop them up. We cut fallen trees ourselves to 16 inch pieces and we fill up the back of our Element.

We inherited a Heathkit splitter that our former next-door neighbor built. I gave up swinging a maul because it gave me tennis elbow. We wait for cold weather. High thirties and low forties is perfect working weather. We put on our long underwear, Permethrin treated jeans, wool socks and knit caps and then top that off with Home Depot noise cancelling headphones. They put you in the zone.

The oak we were working on today was about twenty inches in diameter. They are so heavy we roll the logs up onto another log and then onto the splitter. I love positioning it in just the right manner to pop off fireplace sized logs. And if there are no knots you have a wheelbarrow full in a few minutes. Stacking is where real art and homemade science ideas come together. Our wood pile is built on an incline so the corners need to be secure. Its dark now or I would take a photo of it. The one above is from four years ago. The pile is four times as large.


Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

Voting booths at Point Pleasant Fire House in Rochester New York

When I was growing up the City dropped off small wooden houses, the size of large Home Depot shed, in all the neighborhoods. We walked by the one on Humboldt Road on the way to school and I couldn’t wait to get inside one of those. When I was finally old enough to vote the houses were gone and the polling stations all had those technical denies where you turned a small metal lever for each candidate and then locked in and cast all your votes with one pull of the big arm. Today, while the rest of the world is going paperless, we fill out large cardboard ballets with markers and then we slide the ballet into a scanner. Well, mine was rejected yesterday and I was pretty sure I knew why.

We had read a bit about the NYS Constitutional amendment. We like a lot of what it was proposing. Our local paper recommended a yes vote and the Times recommended a “no.” The more we read the more we were leaning toward no but just to be sure we asked our friend, Matthew, what he thought. Although originally from Australia he is the most informed person we know. His reply was short but more than we had asked for. “Flip the ballot over and vote no, yes, yes.” That stuck with me or should have but I have a bit of dyslexia. I voted “yes” on the first one and almost a no on the second but I realized I had messed up. I scribbled a big “X” on the answer and filled in the circle for “no.” One of the voting attendants came over and wrote “Spoiled” on my ballet and gave me another.

I tried to do the second one in record time but in my haste I made the same mistake! The assistant said “I’m not supposed to look at the ballet but she went ahead to see what I was doing wrong. Another assistant came over and introduced herself as the Democratic representative. “We need to be nonpartisan.” My ballet was marked “Spoiled” and I was told this would be the last time I could try. Three strikes and I’m out.

I got the third one right and even managed to write-in “Gary Pudup” for Sheriff. I would like to know the story of who was behind that last minute campaign and we may find out tonight as Gary is usually there for Margaret Explosion gigs.

Margaret Explosion - Inexplicable

Margaret Explosion – Inexplicable