Archive for the ‘Life Is A Spell’ Category

Santo Domingo

Thursday, April 12th, 2018

Rape growing in carefully tended pastures in Spain

Our ninth day on the Camino was an easy one. Not that it is getting any easier, just that it was a shorter haul. Rain was forecast but we didn’t see any. When we arrived in Santo Domingo we sat on a bench at the outskirts of town and looked up hotels. There are two Paradors here and we were ready to live large so we chose the one named after the Saint, located next door to the cathedral named after Santo Domingo.

We had an early main meal, Spanish style, at a place across the square from our hotel. It was a two fork restaurant (whatever that means), and we ordered local dishes, salted Cod and lamb with a bottle Rioja that came from a vineyard four kilometers outside of town. We asked the waitress what the beautiful flowering yellow crop we saw on the way into town was and she told it was rape.

After dinner we toured the cathedral where the Saint lies in a tomb. They’ve kept live chickens in the cathedral since the fifteenth century in tribute to a miracle Santo Domingo performed, a miracle that is too crazy to retell here.

We stopped in small bakery and bought cookies shaped like chickens. The bakery was run by a woman who looked like she stepped out of a Bolero painting.

Buen Camino

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018


We have our own descriptions of the fellow pilgrims, the ones we see every couple of days. We are no where near high season so we go long stretches without seeing anyone at all but we’ll get into a town and run into a familiar face or two every time. If these fellow travelers have nicknames for us I would be “the guy with one glove.” I lost the right hand one on day three so I’ve been keeping that hand in my pocket.

Today’s trek was twenty miles in cold rain. And there were, not snow capped mountains like up in the Pyrenees, but snow covered moutains on both sides of the path. Zaragoza, to the south of us, got a shovelable amount and made the news. We are in the Rioja region now. Navarra is behind us. The soil is red and the path is muddy. You soldier on and act like this is your cross to bear. When we see the Asian couple again we’ll smile and say, “Buen Camino.”

El Altar De La Milagrosa

Tuesday, April 10th, 2018

White paint on graffiti in small town in Spain

Not wanting to spoil this adventure I did very little in the way of preparation for the Camino, kinda like the way I approached high school. I didn’t read any of the guide books. Maybe that’s why we walked right by a “must see” monastery today.

Peggi read a few books and I followed her lead. Of course we did a lot of physical prep work, walking to Charlotte and building up to our walk around Irondequoit Bay. But I didn’t realize until we got here that about ninety five percent of the Camino is on dirt, stone and gravel paths over mountains, through woods and pastures and gorgeous little towns. At least this first week has been that way.

We did 23.4 miles today, most of it in the rain. We were pretty well prepared for that with the gear Olga picked out for us at REI. The base layer, fleece and outer shell pieces all performed perfectly. The pants, some sort of miracle fabric that wicks water and drys quickly, work but it was raining hard enough to roll down the backs of my legs and into my shoes. I guess that is where gators come in but we don’t have any.

Osprey makes great backpacks but their design depatrtmnt has overreached. You see a lot of them on the Camino and each year’s model has a bigger logo. We turned our rain covers inside out so as not to look so much like a billboard and we were surprised to see others who have done the same.

But considering how old this pilgrim route is, so many centuries old, it is striking how uncommercial and unspoiled the Camino is.

Otra Iglesia

Sunday, April 8th, 2018

Walking to town of Cirauqui Spain

Living out of the pack on your back is entirely possible. Other than the clothes all you really need is a camera, an internet device and your charge card. And the similarity to a monk’s existence is driven home here at Albergue de Capuchinos in Estella, a former monastery, where we were given one towel and a stack of linen to make our own beds.

We walked in rain and mud today and in between we stopped at churches in every town we passed through. We have discovered that we’ve met our match and then some when it comes to visiting churches. The iconography, the religious myths, the relics, the ritual, the architecture and history and in my Irish cousin’s case, the faith itself are all a magnetic force. We are thrilled to be traveling with Maureen. She spotted the twelfth century church of Santa Catalina in Cirauqui when we were still a mile out of town.


Monday, April 2nd, 2018

Locals talking over drinks in Pamplona bar

Pamplona is in the Navarre region of Spain, just above the Rioja region, but it is also in Basque country. It’s Basque name is Iruña. We took the train here from Madrid and plan to take a bus up to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (literally “Saint John [at the] Foot of [the] Pass) tomorrow to begin our walk.

Rick Steve’s would call Pamplona a “workaday” city. We live in a workaday City and happen to like them so we love it here. We walked around the old section, circled the bull ring, had tapas in two different places and came back to our hotel room with two cans of San Miguel cerveza. We cold settle down in Iruña.

We Did It

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018

Pray sign in Webster on Bay Road

You could pray for anything. Right? My mother, somewhat of an activist, would say, “I wish they would stop praying and do something.” We walked by this sign on Bay Road in Webster this afternoon and I thought of her.

Each day for the last month Peggi has plotted a loop for us to walk. If we are out somewhere in the car we’ll start from there but most often we start at our house. And we like to head out in one direction and come back via a different route. We have been inching our way up over ten miles a day and hit twelve the last few. We’ve gone down every road on this side of the bay. The roads reach the bay and then either dead end or come back up again. There is no road that runs continuously around the bay and we have been dreaming about walking around the bay but it just didn’t seem possible.

Today, Peggi suggested that we do it. Goggle plotted us straight down Culver to Empire, across the top of the bay and up the hill into Penfield to Bay Road. We stopped at Flaherty’s Three Flags Inn and split a pint of “Space Kitty,” a local IPA. A little further down the road we saw a sign sign that said, “Welcome to Webster Where Life Is Worth Living.” The sign was in the exact spot where the sidewalk ran out. Bay Road is is two lanes in either direction and it is decidedly not pedestrian friendly. We walked against traffic on the shoulder and kept jumping up in the snow to get out of the way.

Things settled down once we hit Lake Road and the walk across the spit of land between the lake and bay was beautiful at sunset. We stopped again at Shamrock Jack’s and had a pint of Ithaca’s “Flower Power” to celebrate our successful fourteen mile circumference. FC Salzburg vs Borussia Dortmund was on the screen behind the bar and the score was 0-0.

Down In The Flats

Thursday, March 15th, 2018

Sign from down in the Flats near the Genesee River

I took a quick look at the route Peggi had plotted for today. She had Google Maps open on her iMac and the route was plotted in Satellite view. I could see the bay to the left of our starting point and the lakeshore was stretched out across the top of her screen. The river was also visible on the right hand side and our route went right along it for a stretch. I was struck by how much geography there was on the map and then by the notion that we could possibly cover that much ground on foot.

Our street was still somewhat icy so we started with our Yaktrax on but took them off at the cemetery. Those roads are some of the cleanest in the county due to the roster of public service workers with nothing to do. We turned right on Titus and walked to the House of Guitars where we turned north on Cooper just as Irondequoit High was letting out. Cooper meets Saint Paul and from there we began our descent to the river level, a place called “The Flats.” Irondequoit people talk about this place in almost mythical tones and I can see why.

There are wide open spaces between the houses, old barns and fields, undoubtably fertile fields judging by the standing water. It feels like you are out in the country but we just walked here. It was like a dream. We continued north along Saint Joseph which changes names to Van Voorhis and takes you up out of The Flats.

We checked the mileage and we were somewhere near six miles, about ready to begin the return leg. Since we don’t like retracing our steps we headed north on Saint Paul to the lake and walked along the lakeshore, up Zoo Road in the Park and on home.

Church And State

Saturday, March 10th, 2018

Charlotte lighthouse in winter

I’m hoping we’ll pick up an additional tenth of a mile just walking around the house tonight because I really want to see that 13 mile tally on our Moves app.

We got a late start because we had a funeral to go to for our sister in law’s father. It was a patriotically themed event as well it should have been. The man served in all three branches of the military! Flag pins were attached to the red, white and blue programs. A trumpet player played taps while we took our seats and then guns went off outside the Baptist Church in Greece. The hymn was “America the Beautiful,” all four verses. Free Masons, wearing white beanies in the front row, presented white roses to the remains. State Senator Joseph Robach gave the remembrance. And a piano player, a seasoned lounge player, played Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah and a great version of Frank’s “My Way.”

We changed clothes and headed out through the park and along the lake all the way to the river. We thought we might be able to work our way along the river to Silk O’Loughlin’s, which had just opened for the season, but we couldn’t get around the gates of a shipyard. I took this photo in front of Shumway’s Marina and we turned around. With the temperature right around freezing we walked on a variety of surfaces. Some crusty, icy snow, some black ice, some mud, some soft sand along the lake and a few good sized puddles on the sidewalk.

Getting Real

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

Drum set in the snow in Rochester New York

The Emirates Group sponsors both teams. Qatar Sports Investments owns Paris Saint-Germain and they spent a fortune on players like Neymar. Real Madrid is owned by their club supporters, hundreds of people called socios and they too spent a fortune on players like Ronaldo. The word Real, Spanish for Royal, was bestowed on the club by King Alfonso XIII and our friend Matthew advised us that if we’re going to cheer for a Madrid team it ought to be Atlético because Real still has cultural ties to the fascists. But we can’t help ourselves, we’ve been rooting for Real in the Champions League and we were ecstatic watching them defeat PSG, both at home and in Madrid. We wouldn’t root for Real against Barcelona, of course. They are on another plane.

Ronaldo is an over-the-top star. Like Trump, you can’t take your eyes off him as he sucks all the air out of the room. Madrid has Sergio Ramos, the captain of the ship. They have Marcello, a back who is an ever threat to score. They have Bale, on the bench with his man-bun. They have the smart, agile Croatian, Luka Modrić, in midfield. And they have Zinedine Zidane in the ever so sharp coach’s suit. They are a real team and a joy to watch.

8 Mile

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

Snow ice scape along Lake Ontario

We are sort of in limbo with with this white stuff. The big snowfall we had last week is just sitting there. The sidewalks are clear. People aren’t wearing hats or gloves anymore. We have all moved on but the snow lingers. There was so much of it the sidewalk and street plows shoved it into the other’s paths. And it was so heavy and wet when it came down it is now clumped into hard-core sculptural formations on the edges of the sidewalk.

Our route today took us in an eight mile loop with stops. Starbucks, where we had a sandwich and a medium Flat White, the post office where we mailed off (for scanning) 700 35mm slides that my sister culled from my father’s slides, and Dunkin Donuts where we used the bathroom.

We saw “Shape of Water” this evening and I loved it. An old fashioned straight up love story done with loving respect for the medium. I was a skeptic and wanted Greta to get all the awards for “Ladybird” but I was wrong. This was beautiful.

Wonder Bread & Beer

Sunday, March 4th, 2018

Stairway to houses on Lake Bluff Road in Sea Breeze

We were hanging out with our friends, Jeff and Mary Kaye, last night and we were telling them about all the cool little neighborhoods we had been exploring while walking. We mentioned the dead ends that lead down to the bay on the west side and Jeff told us he lived in a house on Schnackel Drive back in the seventies. He had to get out when the water level rose. He said there was a small store down there that sold nothing more than Wonder Bread and beer. The street sounded so familiar but we couldn’t place it until we found it on our phone. The map showed Riviera’s Liquor store down there, on a a dead end along the bay. I couldn’t believe it. I called the number but it had been disconnected. We were determined to find the place today.

Point Pleasant Road, the third traffic circle on your way to the lake, leads to Pleasant Avenue which takes a dive down to the bay where it turns into Schnackel Drive which hugs the shore of Irondequoit Bay. You can wind your way around the inlet to the right or walk to your left around the gated Point Pleasant Estates and the opening to Bay Front Lane, a street with about fifteen homes that can only be accessed by foot. We’re guessing the store Jeff remembers was the first place on Bay Front Lane but we couldn’t find the liquor store.

History Buff

Monday, February 26th, 2018

Old subway bed under Broad Street Bridge in downtown Rochester, New York

Breakfast sandwiches are now a mainstay. How did that happen? Should we blame brunch? We had one this morning, along with a large coffee, at the Founder’s Cafe in the Academy Building on Fitzhugh Street. We were just upstairs from Edward’s Restaurant where we used to take Peggi’s parents when they came to visit. And we were right next door to the oldest public building in Rochester, “Two Saints Church.”

We started the day at the Co-op by parking our car in their lot and walking downtown. They’re building something on top of the old Lehigh Valley train station right next door to Dinosaur Bar-BQ. Those tracks went under the library and across the river under what is now the Broad Street Bridge. We peeked in and I took this photo. There is so much history here. It is time to celebrate it.

Floss and Toss!

Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

Winter Aconite in bloom on February 22, 2018 in Rochester, New York

We better make sure our car still starts. We haven’t driven it in a week. We walk everywhere now. Not that we go anywhere. We mostly walk in circles, circles that keep getting bigger. We are averaging ten miles a day and one of us is carrying the pack. Today we came home with 24 pounds of groceries.

We spotted a yard full of snowdrops as we walked down to the lake. They are such a delicate flower. They seem shocked to be up out of the ground so early. The hardy Winter Aconite, on the other hand, bursts out of the dirt and often right up through the snow. The ones we have on the hillside out back are just now unfurling and orienting themselves to the sun. I’ve tracked the date we first notice them for the past ten years and this is almost the earliest.

I was sickened to read about the amount of plastic scientists found in tiny fish at the bottom of the ocean. And when you walk as much as we have been your eye catches the plastic debris along the edges of the sidewalks. These freakin’ dental picks are everywhere. And someone in the vicinity of Titus and Culver drinks an incredible amount of Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey, incredible in that they are apparently behind the wheel while chugging these plastic fifths. And then there are all the tiny little drug bags. I collect them.

Full Pipe

Sunday, February 18th, 2018

Old yellow guard rail in Durand Eastman Park

Edgerton is a big name in Rochester. I don’t know the reason but I know there is a big grave stone in the cemetery near our house with the name on it. And there is an Edgerton Street in the city near the Upper Falls. The neighborhood is called Edgerton. There is an Edgerton Park near Jefferson High School on Dewey. And there used to be an Edgerton Road that ran through Durand Eastman Park. It is still shown on the map and there is even a street sign labeling it near the end of Pinegrove at the western border of the park.

The road used to connect Pinegrove, which now dead ends, to Kings Highway near the clubhouse. I’m not sure whose idea it was to put the sewage treatment plant in the park (I know it is downhill from the city and I have heard there is huge pipe, probably the diameter of those halfpipes the Olympic snowboarders compete on, that runs from downtown to the plant) but that operation grew into the VanLare Wastewater Treatment Facility which now seems to accept truckloads of shit for hire. And so what was public park land has a smattering of “No Trespassing” signs and the road itself which was closed to traffic has been mostly been swallowed up by the land.

There are still cement guard posts and occasion pieces of metal guard rail and you can pretty much tell where the road used to lie because of the geography. Parts of the old road are used by the treatment plant, pieces are used by park maintenance workers and parts of it are the golf cart path on the back nine. We were determined to follow Edgerton Road yesterday and we did it! The park is huge and other areas have been reconfigured over the years. Ever wonder why Horseshoe Road runs off of Lakeshore and stops instead of coming back out? Ever wonder why three roads run up from Lakeshore Boulevard and all come together in a circle with a barrier in front of Wisner Road, a road that would take you out of the park. Somebody has to think about these things.

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!