Seneca Road, Point Pleasant, Titus Avenue and Norton all wind their way down to the bay before coming to an end. They are all great walk destinations. Seneca is one of our favorites. We were just down there last week looking in on the progress of the expensive new home someone is building on the bay.
We just missed the woman who stole an ambulance in Utica, drove west on the NYS Thruway, got off in Rochester and headed north on 590. And like she knew exactly what she was doing she turned right at the Seneca Road traffic circle, barreled down the steep hill and drove through the gate on the boat launch right into the bay.
My brother, Fran, let the the family use one of his spare bedrooms as a temporary storage space for our parents’ stuff when they passed. Years later there are quite a few items without a home including a stack of watercolors. Our cousin asked us if she could have one of my father’s paintings so Peggi and I visited the vault to pick one out.
We arranged to meet on a Sunday, the only day my brother takes off, but he called to say he would be working. We let ourselves in and found a beautiful, framed barn painting for my cousin ( a farm girl ) and a Charlotte lighthouse painting for her sister. My brother’s neighbor died recently and a crew was taking down their white horse fence when we arrived. I’m hoping that doesn’t mean subdivision. We took a nice walk along Lake Road and discovered our former tax preparer owns one of those funky cottages near Nine Mile Point. We took a dip in my brother’s pool before hitting the road.
When Peggi was doing her grand jury duty she told me nothing got underway until the stenographer walked in with her tiny typewriter (they were all women) and settled into her place at the front of the room. My cousin’s daughter is one year into a program be a court stenographer. To get your certificate you need to be able to accurately type two hundred some words per minute. Her stenographer’s typewriter is connected to her computer and she demonstrated her skills by typing our conversation in stenographer’s language and then translating it back to English on her monitor. She told us she can make up he own shortcuts for commonly used phrases. It seems like they are on to something. With their own language, their own shortcuts, less keys on their keyboards, they accurately record everything that goes on.
We got off the expressway at Ridge Road in order to pick up more vaseline and Saran wrap, our Gypsy moth weapons, at Walgreen’s. Each day we suit up in our tick repellant clothes and wrap a few more trees. Twice around with the plastic wrap and then a stripe of vaseline. Our priority has been the hundred year old oaks which can only withstand a couple years of caterpillar defoliation. Our neighbor recommended we consult an arborist at Davey Tree. He told us our area was the worst in Monroe County.
Aman’s had their “Fresh Strawberrys” sign out on Ridge Road and so we pulled in. We had just walked up here the day before and they said they were not expecting strawberries until the week’s end. We drove home with three quarts of the darkest red berries we had ever seen. In the driveway we realized we forgot to stop at Walgreen’s.
I had a friend who on orders dropped napalm indiscriminately on villages in Viet Nam. They could have just let loose gypsy moths.
I am so happy to have met Pete Monacelli. He has enriched my life in so many ways. I helped him migrate from a 2011 iMac to one of the new M1 chip iMacs. We did it the old fashioned way, connecting to his wifi and dragging files across the network. Finding passwords was a problem but we eventually got it. “What am I gonna do with this thing,” he asked, pointing to the antiquated iMac. I told him I would take care of it next time.
We stopped by last night and Pete was listening to Bitches Brew on YouTube. Coincidentally we had had been playing the lp at home. When I first heard that record I thought it would change all music to follow.
“Miles Runs the Voodoo Down” came on and Pete went through his files to show me a photo of a painting he made in 1972 with the same name. And then he said, “Come over to my studio. I want to show you this sculpture I made.” We walked across the street and Pete opened the garage door. On his bench was his 20011 iMac, rearranged.
Dave died fifteen years ago. And now Norm. We were so full of life. It doesn’t seem possible. But then again it does.
Norm was in my sister’s class, two years behind me, but we were friends in high school. Our moms were friends before we met. When I went away to school in Indiana Norm’s mom called me to say Norm had run away. “He’s coming out to stay with you,” she said. Sure enough Norm stayed in my dorm room for a week or so and then returned home.
I met Pam in Indiana and she came to visit me in Rochester over the summer. We went swimming and I remember introducing Pam to Norm. They became an item that day. A long run. Norm joined the army during the Viet Nam war but never saw combat. He worked in a shop and made hash pipes out of plumbing parts. I remember them being hot as hell, almost too hot to hang on to. Pam’s father owned the Colonial Motel in Indianapolis. I remember him backing a trailer into number 10 Monon Drive in Bloomington. I lived there with Pam and Dave and a few other friends while Norm was away.
Norm and Pam were married at at Norm’s parents’ house in Webster. The Bloomington crew was all there. Pam got pregnant and they moved to a big house. I stayed there rent free as a babysitter and learned how to change diapers. Chinaboise rehearsed in Norm’s basement.
Norm’s sudden death provided the opportunity to talk to Kim. She took the photo up top. We will reach out to Pam. It’s a Circle Game.
Animals let it all hang out when it rains. We walk everyday regardless of the weather and even a gentle rain keeps most people inside. But we are guaranteed to see more wildlife when it rains. Turkeys and deer don’t even seem to notice the rain.
Bull frogs usually shut up when you get close to them. We stopped on the boardwalk over Tamarac Swamp this morning and Peggi took a movie of the bullfrogs below calling to one another. It stopped raining by the time we got to the beach and the lake was calm and dreamy with grey masses over Canada. It started raining as we walked on the sand. The cleanup crew had not been out so the beach was littered with colorful plastic toys and packaging, blankets, bottles, partially charred firewood and a pair of women’s sandals.
The trees are more colorful in the rain and easier to look at without all that sun. We came back along Eastman Lake. The white mute swans catch your eye. They are beautiful but invasive and they bully the other birds. The pair that has been at the southern end of the lake all spring had their babies and the whole family was out in the middle of the lake. A big fish was thrashing about near the shore. At first we thought it was a beaver but it stayed down too long.
A few turtles had crawled out of the lake, mothers ready to pop. One had already dug a hole on the fairway and was dropping her eggs.
I’m trying to figure out where the last five days went. I usually find time to check in here and I feel better once I have. I will attempt an accounting.
We miss the pandemic, not Covid but the down time. Hunkering down.
On Friday we went to the opening of a drawing show at Colleen Buzzard’s Studio. We had our masks on when we entered but someone told us everyone was everyone was vaccinated so we slipped them off. Six artists were represented but Pete Monacelli’s work stole the show. Saturday I did a Zoom talk for RoCo. I was asked to discuss my favorite pieces from the current 6×6 show, something I have only seen online. Rick and I barely finished the third of our best of three horseshoe game before I signed on.
Our garden is going great guns. Our early plantings survived the cold patch last week and our peppers are loving this 80 degree stuff. We’ve been bringing back mixed greens for salad every night for three weeks now.
Mostly we’ve been talking to neighbors about various strategies for combatting the gypsy moth invasion. This is year two. There are over a 1,000 caterpillars on our house as I write. Each is about an inch long. They are only wearing themselves out. Their brothers and sisters are are eating the leaves on our oak trees. A band of Saran Wrap, about five feet up the tree, with a stripe of Vasoline through the middle seems to stop the traffic both up and down the trees. Are we only trapping the caterpillars up there so they can get fat on our leaves. No one seems to know. We are waiting for an overpopulation boom to provoke a fungus which will collapse their colony.
We walked along the river yesterday and missed all the action down at Durand where the City of Rochester Police, Monroe County Sheriffs, Irondequoit Police and New York State Troopers all have some sort of jurisdiction. They found the remains of a body while holiday picnickers were grilling along the lakeshore.
We met workers from a roofing company for a quote this morning and then Peggi had to make an emergency chlorine run. It is in such limited supply that they won’t hold it for you when they get a shipment and it’s on a first come basis. We got a late start on our walk.
We stopped at the pool and added some chorine and looked in on the the fawn that has been sleeping in the pachysandra by the fence, right where it was born.
Some contractors from hell were working on a house the next street over. They had right wing talk radio cranked and a van that had backed into the driveway had a placard in each window. One read “Ivermectin Defeats Covid” and the other “Re-Open NY, All Businesses Are Essential.” A worker’s car had bumper stickers on it that read “Freedom Isn’t Free” and “Christian Nation” printed on an American flag.
Down at the lake a man on a bike stopped us and asked if either of us remembered a day camp named “Three Lakes.” He said he rode a bus out here from his city grade school and they would cross the train tracks, go through the tunnel near the beach house and swim in the lake. Bob Begy came by on a bicycle and asked if the band was back playing at the Little. On our way home we ran into Kathy Krupp on Zoo Road and we chatted about the murder and gypsy moths.
Back on our street Jedi was out in the front yard sprinkling cayenne pepper and some stinky anti deer product around his shrubs. We headed down to the garden where we transplanted about forty pepper plants. No time for horseshoes today.
I spent most of this week, well, on and off, trying to figure out what we could do with an Apple AirTag. Our friends on the west coast sent us one of the Tim Cook doo-dads from a two pack that they had purchased. I spent some time wondering what they may have used theirs’ for, their kayak maybe or the catalytic convertor on their new used car. They told us there has been a rash of thefts from their parking lot.
I was thinking we could put it inside Peggi’s saxophone case but we’ve only had one gig in the last year. We occasionally lose the tv remote but the AirTag would look pretty stupid attached to it. It’s about the size of a thick Communion wafer. I finally decided to put it in our car’s glovebox. Maybe we’ll take the car to a Woodstock reunion and be happy to be able to find our car after the psychedelics.
The temperature was near ninety a few days ago. The street pool is open and we’ve been swimming for the last week. And now this.
I remember the big guy at Case’s saying, “Wait until Memorial Day to put your tomatoes in.” But that was the old days. We’ve gone with the 15th for years and when the long range forecast looked especially good we put them in early. It will be 70 on Monday but between now and then they are predicting lows around 43.
We rounded up every pot we could get our hands on to create little tents for the tomato and pepper plants. We started everything from seed and we need to protect these little babies. The basil, lettuce, Swiss chard, arugula, spinach, carrots, beets and mesclun will all be fine. They love this weather but we are walking a fine line with the tomatoes.
Our garden is in our neighbor’s old tennis court. He engineered the four tier electric fence to keep the ground hogs out. And he lets us use his hose to water. We make sure to keep him entertained. After we brought every plastic container we had down he let us borrow his buckets, some flower pots, his recycling containers and his wheelbarrow. Our plants are under each one of them. And there’s a few plants out in the open serving as a control group.
We did a few parking lot pickups at Rubino’s during the pandemic and then started entering the store at off hours. The sloppy mask technique of some customers made it feel relatively dangerous. We were out of oil again so a walk up there was in order.
At lunchtime the store was packed. It felt festive even, like a holiday, and yet it didn’t feel dangerous at all. Most customers still had masks on as did all the staff and you have to think at least half of them are fully vaccinated. So we’re getting there, the new normal. We buy Zoe Cold Press in 3 liter cans, two at a time. And each time I reach for a can I brace myself for a price increase but it has been $29.95 for three or four years now. I put both cans in my backpack.
The first voice we heard when we popped our heads out of the car was Petra’s. So familiar from all those instructional videos and so life affirming. We drove down to Naples with Jeff and Mary Kaye. They were looking for seed potatoes but they came back with so much more. We were looking for nothing but we came back with more Arugula seeds and some red pepper plants which we have already stuck in the ground.
We’ve planted lettuce, spinach, kale, tomatoes, Swiss chard, collard greens, arugula, Pak Choy, carrots, beets, cilantro, cauliflower, jalapeños, Padrón peppers, garlic and mesclun. All from seed, and all from Fruition. It was pleasure to meet her in person.
Today is la última jornada for most European soccer clubs. The three teams we follow, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atlético Madrid all play at the same time. They did this last week as well and it surprised us. We record the games and planned to watch them one at a time but they go split screen in the middle of the match when a team in a concurrent match scores a goal and that sort of spoils the ones we have recorded.
La Liga got us through the pandemic. They played the whole season without fans and most of the teams had Covid outbreaks amongst the players but they completed the 38 weeks (the 20 La Liga clubs play each of the other teams twice in the season). We watched well over a hundred matches.
We started the season cheering for Real and Barcelona. One of those two have won the league championship every year but one for the last twenty years. But each time we watched Atlético we liked them more. There is a lot riding on today’s match. Atlético has been in first place for most of the season. Barcelona is out of the race after losing last week but if Real wins and Atlético loses Real would be champs. Atlético has an easier game going against one of the bottom placed clubs, one of the three that will be relegated to Segunda División next year. Go Atlético!
The town projected their Sea Breeze improvement project would be done by December. The new playground is open but some earth moving equipment was still running around. A slab has been poured for the picnic pavilion but that is still left to your imagination. A permeable concrete ramp near the new parking lot runs right down into the water and would be ideal for launching a canoe or kayak.
There is a vending machine that takes money for the boat launch and there are some brand new floating docks stretched out on the bay side. The entire area is a few more feet above sea level so it shouldn’t flood for. a few more years. The walkway is open again and we followed it right up to the seasonal swing bridge, which won’t be operational again until November. A mama duck paddled by with her seven tiny babies. And we were happy to see they have not tried to improve the sandy beach near the pier on the lake side.
People were ready to go out and it felt good in a giddy sort of way. We kept our masks on in the Little Theater but removed them when we played. The patrons, sitting in one half the available Theater 5 seats, the ones without yellow caution tape on them, did the same. The pattern, pairs of seats side by side with empty pairs between, kept people apart enough to change the vibe. The chatter, the squeaky chairs, the espresso machine, the laughter was all missing and missed. The band which typically slips into that atmospheric milieu was now the uncomfortable focus.
I read an article in the Times about some live Can recordings that Mute Records is releasing. They quoted Irmin Schmidt, the founder, as saying, “When we went onstage, we didn’t know beforehand what we would play. We just reacted to the atmosphere, to the acoustics, to the public, to the whole environment spontaneously, and started playing something, which we had never played before,”
Phil and Ken were in the cafe while Peggi and I were setting up the recording equipment. Peggi pounded my drums while I set the levels. There wasn’t enough light in the theater to get a proper photo. We had not played together since March of 2020 and we should have at least done a sound check in this new venue but instead we just dove in, in front of a rapt audience. I found it sort of nerve wracking. I forgot to stop the recording at the end of the night so it never wrote to disc before we unplugged the extension cord and we lost whatever it was that we played. But we did it. We emerged from the pandemic.
Back in the early eighties our band played a lot of dates with Paper Faces from Buffalo. They managed to put the art in art rock better than anyone we knew. They would sometimes hang pieces of billboards on the wall behind them, old cigarette and car ads. Dave Mahoney‘s father worked for the billboard company in Rochester so I stopped by to see him. I used the back of the billboard paper to do large acrylic paintings. The paper was thick and big, sheets 54 by 60” inches. You can still see the folds in the paintings.
I’ve had a short stack of the billboard paper out in the garage for years and recently took a look at them. I made a series of collages with pieces cut from the large block lettering and fields of color. I called the series “Litho in USA.”
I’m itching to get back my Adam & Eve paintings. They’re based on a couple from Fairhaven that I had the opportunity to observe a few years back. The drawings need massaging before I begin painting. That gallon of gesso in lower right hand corner will take care of the adjustments. Before I dive though in I want photograph the twenty collages shown drying on the walls. I popped this photo in a second but properly photographing the twenty, individually with the white in each looking white and the colors when used on multiple pieces looking looking the same, is not so easy. I spent the whole weekend on this, longer than it took to do the collages.
I’m using two Lowel Toto lights pointed at my painting easel. Getting them to light a flat surface evenly is a project. I have my Sony RX100 on a tripod with the timer set and I’ve photographed the twenty pieces three times now. I called Duane in NYC after the first two rounds failed and took me into Manual Mode, set to 1/80 of a second with the F-stop at 8.0 and the ISO set to 800. We did a custom white balance and I stored that. The photos are much better but somehow the blues, like in the third and fifth one above, are different. The dark blues, like in the first and and sixth above, are different. Could it be that camera is influenced but it’s surrounds just as our eyes are?
The café at the Little Theatre is not hosting live music yet. We were in the middle of a month of Wednesdays when they pulled the plug. Fifteen months later we have our first live gig, this on in one of the theaters, Little Theatre 5, the Jack Garner theater. When Jack was alive and working at the D&C he wrote this description of the band.
“One of the most original and unusual bands in Rochester; a five-piece ensemble exploring all sorts of musical dimensions linked to free jazz, Third World melodies, exotic instrumentation and a spacey, enveloping sort of music. The Explosion plays with a single-minded purpose and organic oneness that’s most impressive.”
Tickets for the Wednesday performance are available at the www.thelittle.org
I really am not obsessed with the Stations of the Cross. I recently posted a new version, fourteen acrylic paintings, and that led to revisiting my 1998 version. Back then I was envisioning a contemporary retelling of the crucifixion with the Passion Play unfolding on a route I took everyday by bicycle, from our home near East High to my graphic arts job downtown.
We loved living in that neighborhood but is hard to romanticize East Main Street. It was pretty dismal. These fourteen locations were pulled from the 36 photos I took in 1996 and some of them were used as locations for my Passion Play 1998. I hope to live long enough to do a third version.
We were coming up from the big lake (Ontario), walking along the west side of Durand Lake, the sunny side in the morning, and Peggi was telling me about her dream the night before. Ken, Margaret Explosion’s bass player, had suggested that we all wear hat and some funny suits at our gig next Wednesday, the first since they pulled the plug on live music back in March 2020. And he wanted us each to take a drug before the performance, some pills that he got from his mother.
And then I heard a splash as a bunch of these turtles were startled by our presence. We froze and they slow climbed back on the log. If you enlarge the photo above you can see more heads sticking out of the water to the left of the fallen tree. We stayed here for a half hour or so.
Earlier we had watched one of those white swans chase a goose across the lake. Closer to home a bull frog was holding court on Trott Lake. A Pileated woodpecker was competing with the sound of a nail gun from the workers on our neighbor’s roof. Back at home Peggi checked her fortune in today’s paper and found that she “would be favorably impacted by a member of the animal kingdom today.”