Archive for the ‘Life Is A Spell’ Category

Moby Dick

Sunday, July 16th, 2017

Figurines on counter at Captain Jim's in Rochester, New York

I’m happy to report our old neighborhood is really coming up. Not that there is anywhere to go. Beachwood is mostly single family, four-square homes built in the early part of the last century. When we moved there in ’78 it even had its own post office on Culver near Main. We identified the triangle between Main, Merchants and Winton as affordable and stable and looked at only a handful of houses there before making an offer on Hall Street. Our realtor, my uncle, suggested we go in at 20,00O, two thousand below the asking price, and they accepted it.

We stopped in Captain Jim’s on Friday and picked up a fish fry to go. That place is exactly the same. Jim’s mom still lurks in the dining room. I took this photo there. This Moby Dick-like drama was playing out on the counter while we waited for our order. Coincidentally, our neighbor on Hall Street looks just like one of these guys.

It only took forty years or so but there’s now many more restaurants, bars, a barbecue joint and a micro brewery.
Of course, there were plenty of places to get a fish fry back back then. This has always been Rochester. Club Soda, at the corner of Hall Street and Main, was called My Brother’s Place back then and they had a pretty good one. Carroll’s irish bar had one. Fleckenstein’s Meat Market turned into a Greek fish store and people lined up for their fish fry and that was when Captain Jim’s opened.

He put the others right of business. He runs a tight ship. His cold slaw is top notch and the secret with the fish is – you gotta eat it when it’s hot and after the first few bites you’re best off picking the fish out of the breading.

Bob Spelled Backward

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Orange flowers with yellow centers at Bob and Liz's mid-century modern place in Rochester, New York

I have been to Chicago a few times. Our soccer team at IU played Northwestern and one of the other forwards, a little guy, a foreign student like most of the team, took us all to a Turkish restaurant in the city. His name was Attila. We had a tiny cup of Turkish coffee.

And then Dave Mahoney and I hitchhiked up there from Bloomington. Can’t remember why we went up there but I remember staying at the Y downtown and getting chased by some guy after we got out of the shower. And I went up there with Steve Hoy in ’69 to hear the Stones. Peggi was at that show too but we weren’t together. Terry Reid and Chuck Berry opened.

Peggi went there together in 2001 to see the Van Gogh/Gaugin show at the Art Institute. It was weeks after 9/11 and there were rumors hat the ears Tower was next. We took the train and walked everywhere once we got there. It seemed very friendly.

Bob Martin left town today behind the wheel of a big U-Haul. He’s headed for Chicago where he bought a house. There is a magnet out there. His grandson. We stopped over return a hard drive and say goodbye again. We will miss him in so many ways.

We played music together for thirty-five years. That’s how we met. That conversation will end. Bob is an expert on all things technical. Software, hardware, recording. We turned to him all the time for advice. He is a good friend. It is all kinda sad but I guess that is why they invented Facebook. Except I’m not gonna join in those political rants even if I agree with Bob. But I will miss Liz Valentine’s eloquent letters to the editor in our local paper.


Friday, June 9th, 2017

Carmen Herrera Series at Deborah Ronnen's

We came out of the lecture at R1 Studio on Wednesday night and I couldn’t get the car started. The key wouldn’t turn. I had parked in a funny position. It really wasn’t a parking space at all and my wheels were turned almost as much as they would go. Had I kicked in Honda’s Anti-Theft system? We were planning on heading downtown to catch the Occasional Saints at the Little.

I googled “key won’t turn 2003 Honda Element” and learned Hondas were the most stolen car about fifteen years ago so they came up with the “Immobilizer” if the car sensed something suspicious. Someone suggested turning the wheel while trying the key. I did that and the steering wheel locked with a clunk. I couldn’t budge it. Someone else suggested waiting an hour and then trying. We sat in the car with our devices and tried again. I called my sister. She was already in her pajamas but rescued us.

We towed it to Honda in the morning and they put a new ignition. Some 700 dollars later we have one key to get in the car and another for the ignition.

Thoroughly Therapudic

Friday, May 19th, 2017

Garage door lit near Deborah Ronnen's R1 Studios in Rochester, New York

Margaret Explosion had a gig the day my dad died. I had been up most of that night and barely had the strength to play two sets but I remember it being good night, musically. And I remember being almost overcome with emotion during one particularly melancholy song. My mom died on Wednesday and we had a gig that night as well. It was thoroughly theropedic.

There was someone at table near the band who appeared to be studying us. He was wearing a Dan Eaton Band t-shirt and I guessed he was Adam Wilcox, the six string bass player and food reviewer. I said hi to him during the break and he said “It’s so cool that you guys don’t give a fuck.” I said, “Actually we do.” We work pretty hard at making an improvisation sound like a song. I understand it doesn’t always come off that way. He continued, “You know what I mean. You don’t pander to people.” If you make a choice to pander to others you first have to pander to yourself. And why would someone want to do that?


Sunday, May 14th, 2017

Old Edgemere Drive homes high water, Rochester New York

We’ve been looking for a day without rain to ride bikes along the lake. It’s at a record high and we were thinking about our friends on Edgemere Drive. We stopped in The Char Broil and had a cup of soup and cup of coffee. I had the Pasta Fagipoli and it was outstanding. We sat at the counter and I looked at the waitress’s rear end. The tv was on, tuned to Spectrum News with the sound off. It was kind of surreal watching footage of partly submerged Edgemere Drive homes while sitting in a restaurant on Edgemere Drive.

We had a nice visit with my mom tonight. I never wished her Happy Mother’s Day. She had a lot of other things on her mind. Although she was up and out in the main room when we saw her on Friday I think she may now be in bed for the duration. I asked her, “Are you ready to get out of this place?” and she said “yes,” without missing a beat.

Margaret Explosion - Mother's Day Glow

Margaret Explosion – Mother’s Day Glow

Susan B’s Bun

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

Susan B. Anthony crochet wall hanging on East Main Street in Rochester, New York

We tuned into 91.5 on the way home from our Little Theatre gig. They were rebroadcasting the “Live at Hochstein” performance. Mona Seghatoleslami (her name is so much to pronounce) was introducing the Arvo Part composition, “Fratres,” Peggi’s favorite piece from today’s noon-time concert. Peggi was in the house and thought could hear herself applauding at the end of the work. It was a beautiful ride home.

After the noon concert Peggi stopped by Sew Green on West Main Street to see the wall hanging that she helped create. She took the photo above. Volunteers were given pink, white and black yarn and a crochet pattern for a 2 foot by 2 foot section of this mural. Peggi’s square had the lower back end of Susan B’s bun.

Artist Olek’s mural is one in a series of 50 planned installations across America celebrating important women throughout U.S. history

Maybe The Router Died

Saturday, May 6th, 2017

Flowers behind Jared and Sue's place

The day sort of slipped away. You can really get bogged down updating a website, or we can anyway. So many issues to deal with as time passes. Compatibility and basic functionality as well as updates.

And we tried helping our neighbors with their Buffalo router. It keeps quitting on them. They reboot all devices coming and going and the problem is solved but that routine is getting old. I kept thinking of the Pete LaBonne song, the one with the title (above) in the first verse .

By the time we squeezed a walk we were out of time for dinner. We grabbed something at Vic’s Place on the way downtown. We had arranged to meet Pete and Gloria at Warren’s Hungerford Gallery, our first stop on First Friday. Warren will be making frames for an upcoming Leo Dodd show of watercolors and I was officially placing my order. We were telling Gloriahow we ran out of time for dinner and she gave us her go-to quick meal. She sautés peppers with little olive oil and puts them on bread with with raisons and sliced almonds. “Pete loves it.”

Pete LaBonne - My Clock Stops

Pete LaBonne – My Clock Stops

Buying Things

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

Back Angus cows on Route 18 near Lake Ontario

There was something funny about that Sunoco station we stopped at on our way home from Niagara Falls. We were right in the upper left hand corner of the state, about to turn right on Route 18 and we got off 190 to get some gas. There were only two pumps and cars were parked in front of both of them. We almost left and then one car drove away. Peggi went inside to see if they had a bathroom while I pumped the gas. I noticed she came out real fast and then went in the pizzeria next door. She was in there the longest time and I was ready to take a leak out back except there was a cottage right there on the lake.

Another woman came out of the pizzaria and then finally Peggi. She told me there was a sign on the bathroom door that read “out of order” but she used it. As I opened the door two suspicious looking guys came out. There were only suspicious looking because they looked at me strangely. Was there an additional plastic credit card holder in the slot on the pump? When I look back I think there was. A clumsy black framework of some sort.

We got a call yesterday from the bank about three large charges put on our card in Detroit. Pier One, Williams Sonoma and the Hyatt for six thousand dollars. This is maybe the fourth time our card has been compromised and it is a pain in the ass to set up a new one everywhere. There has to be a better way to buy things.

Mary, Mary

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

Marsden Hartley painting of Virgin of Guadalupe at Met Breuer

A resident at the next table was singing wordless music, classical themes. Ray, sitting at a table across the room, was yelling, “Hello.” “Hello.” An aide asked, “What do want Ray?” Ray replied, “I don’t know.”

Peggi was showing pictures from our New York trip to my mom. They paused on this Marsden Hartley painting of the Virgin of Guadalupe. My mom studied it for a bit and then said, “You know what I would like?” Peggi asked, “What would you like?” And my mom said “I would love some spaghetti.”


Wood Waits For No One

Monday, April 24th, 2017

Blue water tower against a blue sky in Irondequoit

I had my camera in “Picture” mode, a setting which allows you to adjust the white balance. I had been photographing artwork under my studio lights. This shot was a happy accident! Blue on blue, made bluer with the incandescent setting in the great outdoors.

We had the big plank in the back of our car. It doesn’t quite fit so it was sticking out the back end of our Element. The back seats were up and Peggi had spread out our plastic tarp. We were in wood mode. Our neighbors had a big oak trimmed while we were in New York and they told us there might be some by the road when we returned. Turned out another neighbor grabbed it while we were gone. No problem. There is wood everywhere after the storm.

The day before we left we brought home three car loads of oak from Tami’s place. Tami works at the Friendly Home and she had a big oak come down in her yard. There was a lot more than three loads there but it was too big for Peggi and me to get in the car. Tami said she would have it split while we were gone. She wasn’t home when we returned and the wood was gone. Strike 2. We went up to the Starbucks drive-through with the plank hanging out the back end and ordered a couple Tascaras.

On the way home we spotted a pile of wood near the curb on Culver and a woman was wheeling more. Maple this time. She was using her kid’s red Radio Flyer wagon. We stopped the car and filled it to the brim.

Wood Fired

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

Short tree stump on Culver Road in Rochester, New York

The tree service guys passed through our neighborhood after the windstorm and pretty much touched base with their faithful customers. That’s all they had time for, clearing driveways or removing fallen trees from rooftops. The real cleanup and pruning had to wait until now, the second round.

We must have had two hundred trees fall in a half mile radius from our house, mostly huge pines and oaks. The oak that fell behind our neighbor’s house was big enough to supply them with firewood for ten years except they don’t burn wood. We were driving by their place yesterday and the tree surgeons were up in a cherry picker. The neighbors offered us some of the wood and we told them we’d take it but we’d have to get to it later. We were on our way over to Tami’s house. She is one of the aides at the Friendly Home and she had an oak fall in her yard too. We have wood coming out of our ears.

Permethrin Socks

Monday, April 17th, 2017

Tick gear slide at Monroe Community College lecture

Everybody around here knows Steve Greive. An all around tradesman/handyman, he’s done work for most of the neighbors. He’s a member of the Fish & Game club and a self described “Rack-a-holic.” If he wasn’t getting a knee replaced he would have been combing the woods for deer racks this Spring.

Since a few of our neighbors have Lyme Disease, Steve forwarded an email to all of us about a talk on the subject at Monroe Community College. Peggi and I were the only neighbors who went and I’m glad we did. Since we walk in the woods most days we take the threat seriously. After the presentation by Erinna Chen, author of an upcoming book called “Lyme Light, shown above collecting ticks for research,” we may be looking for alternative walks.

Free Rochester

Friday, April 14th, 2017

Old Lincoln First Building, revolving restaurant and Sibley's at night from PenthouseI at One East Avenue

I don’t know if The Penthouse (at One East Avenue) is open tonight but we were up there last Friday. It was First Friday and we walked down here from RoCo. There was snow on the ground and I think we woke the doorman. We spotted a poster for Herb Smith appearing in The Penthouse but the band was just going on break when we got off the elevator on the thirteen floor. Word was Herb was leaving to make a guest appearance with the cast of Wicked at the Auditorium Theater.

We ordered two Southern Tier IPAs and took in the vibe. This used to be Security Trust Bank. We had a safe deposit box here. It was taken over by another bank and then another and it felt the room had been liberated from corporate America. Floor to ceiling windows and spectacular view of downtown. We headed out to the terrace where I took this photo.

Downtown has changed so much in my lifetime. That’s the old Lincoln First building where Tim Schapp used to work. I remember when they tore down the Cavalier Restaurant to build that thing, now The Metropolitan. And the revolving restaurant. Was that the First Federal Building, “Home of the Hard Working Dollar.” My brother worked in the revolving restaurant after it stopped revolving. I think it was called the “Ice Factory.” And of course Sibley’s to the right. I bought my first pot from a guy who worked in the toy department there. This would be a perfect spot for a Margaret Explosion gig.

Level Level

Monday, April 10th, 2017

JeffI in field with tape measure  for big oak tree

Jeff had been talking about this for a few weeks. He wanted to measure a big oak tree at the edge of a farmer’s field behind his house and he enlisted our help. We resisted watching YouTube videos on the subject. I gather there is one that suggests you climb the tree, start your stopwatch as you jump, carefully avoid limbs on the way down and stop the watch when you hit the ground. There would be some gravity based calculations that come into play at that point.

We have our own sources. We talked to our neighbor, Jared, about how he would go about measuring a tree. He suggested we use his six foot level and his telescope so we borrowed those. It seemed like his objective was to form a triangle at a distance from the tree and then sight the uppermost limb and determine the angle. From that we could calculate the height. “Simple Pythagorean theory stuff.” But what would we measure the angle with? The tiny transparent protractor I had when I was a kid seemed like it would leave a lot of room for error.

We brought a tape measure out there and we stepped 200 feet back from the tree. We found some old boards nearby and we stuck them in the mud so they formed supports for our level level. We pivoted the end nearest the tree in the air and the measured the distance from the end of the level to the top of the board. We never used the telescope or came up with the angle but we had measurements for two sides of the right angle and from those we planned to extrapolate to the 200 foot length. The equation would give us the height of the tree.

I didn’t get the best grades in high school but I did get 100% on the Geometry Regents. Back at Jeff’s we did the equations on paper while Jeff made soup. Peggi did the calculations, even the square roots, with her phone. The numbers were in the millions “of inches.” The tree is 98 feet tall.

Hidden Life Of Trees

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

White Lady legend depicted by Mother Nature in Durand Eastman Park, Rochester, New York

In high school we used to go down to Durand for the submarine races. We’d find a spot along the lake, turn off the car, and neck. That’s when I first heard of the White Lady legend. I didn’t pay much attention to it but gathered she was apparently getting revenge for some guy who who had gone too far. Frank LaLoggia, someone I went to high school with, made a movie based on the legend. Frank had a movie theater in his basement, I watched Little Big Man down there, and he cast a mutual friend, Brad Fox, in a key role in his White Lady movie.

We walked over to Kings Highway the other day to see where Mother Nature had depicted the White Lady in our recent windstorm. I have to say she did much better job than the depiction of Christ in front of Hickey Freeman. Guess its time to read “The Hidden Life of Trees,” the book both Martin and Duane have recommended to us.

Lemon Mousse

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

Dark sand turquoise water Lake Ontario in Rochester, New York

It was so warm and sunny we dismissed the high wind warnings that were forecast in our morning paper and went out for a walk. The lake looked especially dramatic and it was probably because of the dark clouds to the west. We had just crossed Lakeshore Boulevard on our way home when it started pouring.

I stopped up to see my mom and found her at a table in the far corner of the dining room. She likes her privacy. She was working on a cup of coffee and smiled when she saw me. She said, “I was wondering if I was going to see you two today.” I was alone. Peggi was home doing my mom’s taxes in preparation for a meeting with our tax guy.

My mom’s menu calls for “Aspiration Precaution” so her liquids are nectar thick, including her coffee. It looked like she had eaten about half of her dessert already, I heard one of the aides call it “Lemon Mousse,” and she hadn’t touched her soup or whatever it was under the lid on her plate. She is as thin as a rail but she looked very pretty and I told her so. She thanked me and asked where Martha (her deceased sister) was. I told her I didn’t know. She said I should comb my hair and I told her I didn’t have a comb. She asked what was under the lid. It looked like something had been plopped on her plate with an ice cream scoop. I looked at the little printout on her tray and it said “Pureed San BBQ Chicken.” After not eating for weeks my mom seems to have regained some of her appetite.

We went down to her room after lunch and she said “This isn’t my room.” I said, “Yes it is” and I pointed to the pictures on her window sill. She studied the pictures for a bit and then asked me to put a third one on the long bed table. She wanted it in the middle and then had me move the big one to the end of the row of three pictures. She was always rearranging things in our home and she still has that bug.

I handed her the picture of my father and her on their wedding day and I told her how beautiful she looked. I pointed to my dad and said, “You found a good husband.” My mom looked at the photo for a bit and said, “Yes, I did.” “But then I lost him.”

Pitted Prunes

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

Stash belonging to former occupant of our house.

When we plugged our tv back in after the power outage there was popping sound and the outlet went dead. I thought I had popped a circuit but the breaker was not tripped. A number of other outlets were also out so we hired a master electrician named Kenny. He fixed that problem fairly quickly but we noticed something strange. The power stayed on in the kitchen when we shut off its breaker. It was being “back-fed” as they say. One of the lines to the stove was also feeding the outlets. Kenny called us over and had us open a compartment under the oven. We had never noticed it. There was an old broiler pan inside and a cardboard carton of Pitted Prunes.

Kenny was afraid to touch it and he asked me to get it out. I grabbed a long stick and pulled it toward the front of the stove. Kenny suggested we take it outside before opening it so we all went out front. The first thing we saw were the E_Z Wider papers and we all laughed. It was the previous owner’s stash. He was a Kodak guy so the weed stored in film canisters and there were matches from the Convention Center and the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel along with a lighter. There was a used screen for a pipe and a plastic straw for the white stuff.

Deer Hunter

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

Deer parts in Durand Eastman Park

I can’t let winter end without posting this shot from last week. The parts were right out in the open in the park. Probably the work of a coyote. It may seem like a fairyland out there but nature can be brutal. We took a hike through Spring Valley, the undeveloped part of the park and there were so many trees down from the eighty mile an hour winds we couldn’t follow our regular path. We surprised a large gathering of turkeys while bushwhacking and almost didn’t make it out because the creek was so swollen our usual stepping stones were underwater.

Got this email from Wayne Kusy and I’m trying to place him. “I recently started going through my old album collect to see what I could sell on eBay, and I found your old Personal Effects poster. I expect to find the album soon. I am Wayne from Heavy Mental. I am glad to see you are all still playing, and still in Rochester!” I did a google search and I trying to decide if he is the Wayne Kusy from the “Toothpick Museum” or this one. Maybe one in the same.

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.