Archive for the ‘Life Is A Spell’ Category

Every Poem Ever Written

Friday, March 24th, 2017

Irondequoit Bay Bridge in Winter

Snow starts looking really strange in fifty degree weather. My neighbor, recently back from Amman, Jordon, couldn’t wait to plow his driveway. He has a little tractor with a homemade plow head on it. He had so much fun he continued down the street widening the job the town had done. The piles he made are melting into primitive sculptural forms.

We stopped up to see my mom and found her down in the sun room playing ball with Brandon, the activities co-ordinator. I love watching how he engages the residents. With incredible ease he brings people out of their shells and gets them to play, giggle and laugh. As down home as his manner is he treats everyone with respect and dignity and it really is a joy to watch.

My mom told me I need a haircut. Not the first time. And she said she liked my hat. Later she told me I better take it off before someone sees me.

In the main room I overheard one of the other residents talking with an aide. “I like every poem ever written. Except for the ones that end with someone …” and then she extended her forefinger and dragged if across her throat and smiled.

This post is for Louise. It is her birthday today and she likes it when I write about “the home.”

Looky Loo’s

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

Wind blown oak tree on Pearl Avenue house in Rochester, New York

We had dinner on Peart Avenue overlooking the bay. Our friend, Kathy, had invited us to her house when we didn’t have power. Ours had come on by the time we left for dinner and most of Peart Avenue was still without. Kathy was lucky and so were we. The dinner was delicious, especially the olive and anchovy appetizer.

Kathy asked if we had seen the big pines that had just missed a house on Durand. We drove right by it I guess. You get used to the devastation pretty quickly. She told about this big oak that had fallen on a house further down her street. We had to walk over there this morning to check this out.

Pick Up Sticks

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

Baking powder on boats to absorb gasoline

Geri called yesterday to ask if we could stop by her place and cut up a tree, her tree, that had fallen across her neighbor’s driveway and onto her yard. I was tempted to ask her if she knew that removing that tree was actually her neighbor’s responsibility and not hers. A common misperception as I understand it. If Geri’s neighbor had notified her in writing that the tree might fall and damage her property and if Geri decided not to do anything about it then Geri would be responsible for cleaning it up. My friend, Rich Stim, might be able to provide clarification on this. In any case, I wasn’t about to refuse Geri because her husband, Bill, had given us his chainsaw before he died.

We took a walk around the neighborhood today to asses the damage from yesterday’s wind storm. We would have to hike with a chainsaw to get through our favorite path in the woods. There are so many trees down we will have to forge a new path around the obstacles. We cut through the park and circled back on the next street over to see how badly they were hit. Here the huge oaks that toppled over took down the wires and in some cases the poles. Electric, cable and phone lines laying in the road under an impassable pile of wood. I think we’re a week or so away from internet, Netflix, electric light and life as we know it.

The geeks at Titus Mower reccomend non-Ethanol gas for the chain saws, snow blowers, mowers and generators they sell so we drove out to the Fastrac on Creek and Browncroft but the signal light was out there. The gas station was closed and the manager suggested we go to their downtown location. We are trying to keep our neighbor’s generator going. Three houses, one being ours, have extension cords running away from it. The whole neighborhood sounds like a construction site.

When I refilled the generator I leaked gas on my boots and Peggi looked up how to remove gasoline from shoes. Someone suggested sprinkling baking powder on them and I fell for it.

Model Train World

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

View of train from Harbor Hotel room in Watkins Glen, NY

We were mixing songs for a new album last night at Arpad’s. He has built an acoustically near perfect room for this activity and we were holed-up there until ten o”clock or so. When we left we were unable to pull out onto Monroe Avenue because a large tree was laying across the road. It was very windy on the expressway and our street was exceptionally dark. The power was off and we were planning on leaving town in the morning for the mountains. We had our skies in the car in hopes of finding snow.

Instead we kept a wood fire going here. We have radiant heat and a nightmare scenario would have the pipes bursting and flooding the place. We brought in some seasoned wood from a stack labeled 2012. We were feeding the cat and taking in the mail for Jared and Sue so we we started a fire in their stove and stopped back there three or four times to stoke it. Our neighbors down the street are in Florida for a few weeks and we told them we would call them if we lost power. They asked us to turn on their gas heater so we tended to that. And then Rick, our next door neighbor called from down south. He told us he had a generator in his garage so we dragged that out and fired it up. We ran extension cords from his refrigerator and freezer out to the generator and we ran a line from our refrigerator to the generator. I tapped into that line to recharge my Apple watch.

When the four houses were under control we took a walk through the woods. The neighbor who is in Florida called us while we were cutting through the park to say the power was back on. One of his smart home devices had alerted him.

Margaret Explosion – Rough mix of SlowStart

Indian Poker

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

Parkside Diner with blue sky in Rochester, New York

Our Lenten Roses are in bloom. Snow Drops, Winter Aconite, even our Daffodil greens are up. And flocks of geese overhead. Winter does not last forever anymore.

When I stopped up to see my mom this morning she was sitting alone at a table in the dining room. She likes it that way. There was a large black cross on her forehead. When we were all lined up in church the priest would move so fast, spouting Latin and moving to the next parishioner, that the mark on our foreheads usually looked more like a dull smudge. This one was dark and pronounced. My mom looked like she was part of a cult. And I guess she is.

We must have checked something like “formerly a Catholic” when we filled out her application because the Friendly Home is right on it when Ash Wednesday rolls around, the second one in this place for my mom. Some of the employees were sporting the mark and even some the visiting family members, like Gail. I asked her if a priest had come around and she said, “No. It was just the woman pastor.” It was so warm, near 70, I rolled my mom out to the porch and I ran into drummer, Steve Keiner, with his mom. Steve’s mom was checking my mom’s cross as we talked. My mom didn’t even know she had anything on her forehead.

Woods Geeks

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

Mushroom House in Rochester, New York

Does every city have a Mushroom House? I don’t think so. We had an opportunity to see this up close when we walked in Powder Mills Park.

Dave, the tree surgeon who attends to a lot of trees in our area, came down with lime disease. He lost a lot of weight and doesn’t look good. Our neighbor, Sue, went out to feed the birds and and came back in the house with two ticks on her arm. With temps in the sixties the damn things are awake early and hungry for blood. She told us this news as we cut through her property on our way into the undeveloped part of the park. We already had our tick-guard hoodies on and our pants tucked were in our socks so we were partially prepared.

And now for something more urbane. “I’m Not Your Negro” is a powerful, thought provoking film. We tried to see it last week and it was sold out. We bought our tickets online for last night’s showing and found the theater sold out again. We sat in the only empty seats, a couple in the very front of the theater and the movie really packed a wallop.

Speak Easy

Saturday, February 18th, 2017

Cheshire Cocktail Lounge on South Avenue in Rochester, New York

I was talking to Martin about a reoccurring dream I had and he told me he had the same dream and it was was one of his favorites. Well, he didn’t have exactly the same dream but it was the same concept. In the dream we discover a really cool section of the city, somewhere we never knew existed, and it was exhilarating. It was almost like we fell asleep to look for this elusive place. It is a very comfortable destination.

We picked up Louise last night and met Matthew downtown when he got off work. They suggested Swillburger Playhouse for dinner, a place we had never been. We hadn’t been there since it became Swillburger but we did play there in the eighties when it was called the Community Playhouse. After dinner they took us to Cheshire Cocktail Lounge, another place we had never been. I hadn’t had a cocktail since Peggi’s mom died but when in Rome. . . This place is something like a speakeasy. There is no signage and you gain access by going up a staircase inside Solera Wine Bar. My grandfather was a bootlegger and he owned a bar on the west side when booze became legal. He would have loved this place.


Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

Two of Andy Warhol Myths hanging in office.

This story can only be told now. I was afraid to tell it earlier. Afraid that someone might rip us off if they knew what we had.

My brother was going to school at Hunter College in Manhattan and one of the people in his class worked at the Ronald Feldman Gallery. Feldman represented Andy Warhol and they were selling editions of his upcoming prints, a series of ten silkscreens called “Myths,” at a reduced rate. Reduced because Warhol had not done them yet. They were just an idea.

The cost was 6,000 dollars, a lot of money in 1979. Peggi and I took out a loan for 1800 so we owned three tenths. My brother bought half for 3000 and our friends, Kim and Dave in San Francisco, bought the remaining two tenths. We all informally agreed not to own specific prints but respective shares of each and we agreed not to sell individual prints but keep the series of ten intact. Our ten prints were each numbered 135 of 200.

What would “Myths” look like? We couldn’t imagine. Turns out they were all iconic characters from Warhol’s youth. Greta Garbo as Mata Hari, Dracula, Uncle Sam, the Wicked Witch, Mammy, Howdy Doody, Dracula, Mickey Mouse, Santa Claus and an Andy Warhol self portrait as The Shadow. They are each 38 inches by 38 inches on Lenox Museum Board, some with eight colors, rich solid colors and all but one with a pull of glue dusted with diamond dust, each signed in pencil.

We put two on our wall and kept the other eight in a box behind the piano in our house in the city. My uncle worked for Allstate and he arranged to insure them with a rider. But when he retired we were never quite sure if they were really covered. My brother eventually moved out of his Manhattan apartment and he hung five in his house in New Jersey. We never did figure out how to get any out to California.

The prints, like all of Warhol’s work, have continued to increase in value. You would think pop art would have bottomed out by now. I certainly hope it does someday. I would like to see it crushed by something more expressive. But our decision had nothing to do with market timing. My brother got a new estimate from Ronald Feldman and tried to get to the bottom of his insurance policy. His agent wouldn’t even return his call. It was time to sell.

We worked with Roz Goldman in Rochester, the former president of the Appraisers Association of America. She arranged to bring them to auction at Christie’s and we drove our prints down to New York. The last time a complete (but slightly damaged) set of Myths came to auction was in 2014. Our auction is April 15 and we plan to be in the house.

Mansion Of The Saints

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

Train yard in New Jersey

My brother is a snowmobile nut. I guess anyone who snowmobiles is a nut, bombing around the woods in in the middle of the night on a high-powered sled. He was up in the Adirondacks last week and he reported perfect conditions. We asked for the report because we were thinking about heading up there to find some snow for cross-country skiing. Our skis were already in the car when we changed our mind and decided to head down to New York for a few days. I’ll explain why we changed our plans in a future post. On the way down to the city we got news of the funeral celebration for my uncle so our trip was cut short. We stayed in Montclair with another brother and took the train into the city on Tuesday morning where we hooked up with Duane outside Penn Station. We walked a few blocks in the rain and then climbed the stairs to the High Line which we walked all the way down to 18th Street in Chelsea. I took a few notes in the galleries and I’ll report on that in a future post.

We drove back to Rochester on Wednesday but stopped in Penn Yan for my uncle’s service. He was active in the Dundee parish of Saint Andrews until they closed it and he was instrumental in moving the steeple bell up to Pen Yan where it now sits in Saint Michael’s Church tower. The priest told us how my uncle pointed to the rope for the bell and told him, “That rope used to be in my barn.” My uncle grew up in Dundee and had a two hundred acre farm there overlooking Seneca Lake. His farm was our absolute favorite destination when we were kids. He called us all “city slickers” even if we came dressed in our cowboy outfits. He sold the place to the Mennonites and the rest is history. After the Mass I was waiting in line to use the bathroom in the back of the church. The priest walked by and I asked him if I could ring he bell for my uncle. It sounded heavenly.

Values Clarification

Sunday, February 5th, 2017

My watch face showing an alert for the Poseidon Adventure

So many people see the Trump administration as a disaster movie that it is getting tiring. I’m trying to see this period as “values clarification,” a psychotherapy technique and a teacher term. We are living in a teachable moment.

We didn’t expect there to be as many people as there were last night at the Dryden Theater for the showing of the 1972 classic, “The Poseidon Adventure.” Peggi and I first saw this film in Mexico City in 1973. It was in English with Spanish sub-titles and the theater was full with people of all ages. I was happy to see kids and families there last night as well. We had driven to the bottom of Mexico that year, all the way to Oaxaca along the coast and then back up through the middle of the country. Unfortunately I would be afraid to do such a thing today.

Picking Alfalfa

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

White picket fence along shore in Sodus Point

“Allusive Albini Arrested the Anger Angels of Alabama for picking alfalfa on the day after Tuesday.” “Modest Mary Meandered around Midnight because she was Moonlighting as a Maid.” The residents of my mom’s unit n the Friendly Home all had these crypic, Zues-like handmade signs their respective doors.

We arrived there earlier in the day than we had ever been there before. The night time bedding material was still on the overstuffed lift chairs and most of the residents, half still in their pjs, were in the dining room. We wheeled my mom into the sitting room, I pulled up a chair and Peggi sat in an empty chair next to my mom. An OCD resident came out of the dining room with his walker and immediately scolded Peggi for sitting in his chair. One of the residents, a really tall man, came to of the dining room and said he was looking for the “little boys room.” An aide told him he had just walked right by it.

The staff picked up the bedding as we sat there and the sitting room slowly filled with residents. One woman alternated between yelling “help me” and “hello” and the tall guy said, “Can’t you yell a little louder for Cripe’s sake? Crank it up!” We all laughed at that. An aide was struggling to explain why she was giving Vitamin D to a resident. There was something about how because of where we live we don’t get enough sunshine but the resident wasn’t buying it. An another aide who was holding a resident up said, “Let’s go get you dressed.” The resident said, “I am dressed” and the aide said, “You’re wearing a nightgown. We want to get some clothes on you.”

Super Eight

Monday, January 30th, 2017

Clouds over Lake Ontario at Sodus Point New York

We took an old fashioned Sunday drive along the lake through Pultneyville with its cobblestone houses and further east into the hamlet of Sodus Point where we stopped and walked along the beach. All but one of the buildings here were burned by the British during the War of 1812. Today, it is a dreamy, funky summer vacation spot with cottages and rooms to rent. This time of year the docks in the bay were all empty and the only establishment that appeared to be doing any business was a restaurant called Captain Jack’s.

The sky over the lake changed every time we looked out. I probably should have taken a movie. I read Kodak is bringing back their Super 8 movie camera. Something I never thought I would see. My father brought one of those home from Kodak for me back in the early seventies. I was on my way to Long Island to visit my friend, Rich, and I took my first movie on Jones Beach with Rich running with his dog. Back home I made this movie with three of my brothers and their friends.

We’ll Take It

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

Hoffman Road wetland with wet snow

Wet snow and 40 degrees is not ideal for skiing but we had to get out there before it disappears. There was not enough for the woods so we drove to the golf course and strapped on our skis there. We left mostly green tracks in in our wake but managed to get up to the lake and back. The snowfall started as rain and then came down so wet it stuck to every branch.

Tonight’s feature: The only film Charles Laughton ever directed, “The Night of the Hunter” from 1955 with Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters and Lillian Gish. I will report back.

Extreme Unction II

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

Mary Dodd table in room at Friendly Home

The February issue of Better Homes & Gardens arrived today with valentines on the cover. We had my parents’ mail forwarded here a little more than a year ago and I know her subscription was never renewed but it just keeps on coming. My mom has lost interest in magazines and most everything else including food. She still likes her milkshakes though. I had the staff make one for her today and they said she had already had two. They’re small but today was special. We talked in her room for an hour or so and then she asked me to pull the curtains closed so she could take a nap. Father Donnelly was up to see her. He says he anointed her but she doesn’t remember it. I love my mom.

I Don’t Want To Talk About It

Friday, January 6th, 2017

Matthew's drone over marsh on Hoffman Road in Rochester, New York

The news that the Flash, the reigning National Women’s Soccer League champions, have been sold and are leaving Rochester is totally depressing. I don’t want to talk about it.

Our nephew was in town with his family and we suggested he put his drone up above the marsh on Hoffman Road. He put it way up and grabbed some dramatic shots of our house, high resolution shots that included the city skycap in the distance.

We stopped in the Memorial Art Gallery to see the M. C. Escher show. His prints were so popular back in the day, especially the ones that inverted gravity, and they still look good today even without the smoke. Escher travelled to Spain in 1922 and 1936 and nothing had a greater impact on his work than the Alhambra in Granada where he was captivated by the interlocking Moorish designs of tile work on the floors and walls. I like this quote of his. “I know of no greater pleasure than to wander over hills and through vales, from village to village, feeling the effects of unspoiled nature and enjoying the unexpected and unlooked for…”


Monday, January 2nd, 2017

Foxy Divea licens plates at the Friendly Home in Rochester, New York

I’m guessing these plates belong to one of the caretakers at the Friendly Home and not one of the staff, residents or a visitor. You have to have a pretty good sense of humor or at least a healthy dose of self worth to work there. In a perfect world they would be paid a lot more. Peggi had altered a couple pairs of her pants and we stopped in her room to hang them up. My mom wasn’t in but two other residents were, one asleep in my mom’s chair and the other sitting on my mom’s bed. My mom has been abstracting reality for some time now but the place itself pretty darned abstract. My mom used to say, “You wouldn’t believe what goes on in here.” She hasn’t carried a purse in years but today she told us she needed a bigger one.

Dating Yourself

Friday, December 30th, 2016

The old Dentico's Italian Villa on Culver Road in Rochester, New York

585 Magazine has a feature in the new issue on solo dining that is a must read for singles. The piece is written by our friend, Martin, so we are biased but there are some good restaurant tips in there for couples as well.

I first met Martin when he was working for Midtown Records on the second floor of the mall. I loved that store because they had real urban crowd and the 45 racks were well stocked and up to the minute. Martin tells the story of when Lenny Silver brought in a truckload of Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” 12 inches and piled them next to the register in the front of the store. He sold them all. Martin had a long ponytail at the time and he was looking to join a band but he didn’t have an instrument. He bought something he called “the plank,” a homemade bass guitar, before our first practice as the HiTechs. We opened for Grandmaster Flash at the Haunt in Ithaca. They had a song called “White Lines” at the time. “White lines, don’t do it.” They were were doing it.

I’m glad to see Martin is back in the food critic business. He used to do quite a bit of that, anonymously, back in the Refrigerator days. Maybe he’ll comment on this post. I’ve probably mixed up some of the so-called facts. I did a painting many years ago of Martin as “The Eccentric.”

Hi-Techs - Subscription
Hi-Techs – Subscription

Without Any Words

Friday, December 23rd, 2016

Snow covered tree near Lake Eastman in Durand Eastman Park

Peggi just told me that the pop-up of the photo in my last post wasn’t working. I fixed it but I may have missed the opportunity to send you a holiday greet so I am calling your attention to it. Of course the photo above works just as well without any words.

OK, Happy Holidays

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

Paul, Peggi and Danny Wegman at the Ridge Culver Wegman's

Louise emailed me to remind me that it had been three days since I last posted here. She gave me an out by suggesting that I must be busy. Busy skiing in the park, visiting my mother and discarding the dead possum that Peggi found in the backyard. Some animal went right for the guts.

Oh yeah and we happened to be in Wegmans when “corporate” showed up. That’s how how our cashier described it. We knew something was up when we saw the employees gathered around the enterance, just kinda standing around, something that would have driven my uncle crazy when I worked for him at his Super Duper stores. He was was a sticker for staying busy in the down times.

Leaf Scarf

Monday, December 19th, 2016

Snowman with leaf scarf in Durand Eastman Park

With a couple of holiday parties under our belt and planning underway for a family gathering I have gained a clearer understand of the fuzzy line between function and disfunction. It was crystalized by a conversation I had with a married couple who were sitting at opposite ends of a long table. The woman was doing most of the talking and told us how they both came from large families. I thought my was large at seven siblings. They had eight and nine.

The woman said her family gathered somewhere different every year and they all got along but they had a few ground rules that were established because of previous problems. No one was to talk about politics, religion and another topic that I can’t remember but it was big enough to leave pretty much only the weather. And then she gestured toward the other end of the table. “His family is completely dysfunctional.”

The guy said, “That’s because I told a couple of them that they were full of shit.” And we all laughed.