Love Letter

Rochester Contemporary’s 30th Annual Members Exhibition opens tonight in the middle of a pandemic. We will stop by by later in the week. I submitted an old iMac with a slideshow on it. My piece is called “Abstracting Spain” and is a collection of photos taken in Spain between 2006 and 2019. It is my love letter to the country.

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Unattainable Attraction

Lake Ontario 12.03.20
Lake Ontario 12.03.20

You could visit Lake Ontario everyday, we come pretty close to doing so, and it will always look different. Sometimes brutally rough but alway beautiful. For us it is a pagan pilgrimage site. Our meditative walks reach a culmination there. We can’t go any further north on foot. We can only stop and admire the display. The lake level, wind, waves and ice all rearrange the shoreline. Shells, stone and pieces of worn glass get washed in and gather like a carefully arranged art installation. The open sky is nothing but dramatic and the lake plays with the colors in the sky. The horizon is always a dreamy but unattainable attraction.

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Transformation

Flattened maple leaves on road out front
Flattened maple leaves on road out front

There was a temporary open air tent set up for Sunday service in front of the Church of the Transformation all summer. And someone in the congregation found creative (i.e. cornball/clever) ways to freshen up the sign each week. This morning the plastic letters read “WORSHIP ON FACEBOOK ONLY.” I have to get back to my Funky Signs project.

We got some junk mail from AAA today that read “DO NOT ACCIDENTALLY DISCARD.” Still trying to figure that out.

We pulled the last of our beets out of the garden yesterday, just before the snow. The arugula, Swiss chard, kale and late spinach still seem happy down there.

“Isn’t art something that occurs to man facing himself, his work an unsparing witness?”
– Eduardo Chillida

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Donuts 1 To Golf 1

View of Beaver moon rise from Kathy's place on Irondequoit Bay. Photo by Peggi Fournier.
View of Beaver moon rise from Kathy’s place on Irondequoit Bay. Photo by Peggi Fournier.

We met Jan Marshall in Kathy’s backyard last night to watch the Beaver moon come up over the bay. Kathy had a fire going in the commercial dryer bin that she had repurposed and Peggi took this photo with her new iPhone.

It was raining when we got up but we got out there anyway. We stayed on the road and walked down to the end of Hoffman where we watched someone with “Donuts 1” license plates turn around in front of the house where the guy with “Golf 1” plates lives. They happen overlook the golf course.

With three favorite teams there is a lot of soccer to watch. We’ve been recording La Liga matches for Real, Atletico and Barca and watching one a day but we can’t seem to get caught up to the present so we can look at the standings.

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Art Or

John McCracken sculpture in Davis Zwirner Gallery, Chelsea NY. Photo by Peggi Fournier.

We’ve been following the mystery of the art piece officials from the Utah Department of Public Safety found in the desert. David Zwirner says it was done by one of their artists, John McCracken. McCracken died in 2011 but his son said he talked about leaving pieces behind for people to discover when he was gone. McCracken’s friend, Ed Ruscha, is not buying it.

We always stop at Zwirner’s gallery when we’re running around Chelsea. Ran into John Baldesarri there when he was showing Georgio Morundi. In 2018 Peggi took this photo in the entrance, can’t remember what show we saw here but the reflective piece is one of John McCracken’s monoliths.

One day later: I’m revisiting this post to report the mysterious monolith has been stolen.

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All Consuming

Friendly cedar in park near the trail up to the old zoo
Friendly cedar in park near the trail up to the old zoo, Durand Eastman, Rochester NY

We tucked the final row of firewood away this afternoon and stapled the black tarp down. I plan to make five 2020 markers for the ends of the new rows. Our rows are stacked taller and longer than a face cord and we have twelve of them. I’m starting a fire as I write this.

The defensive moves we took here to avoid Covid revealed an offense that had been waiting in the wings. Turns out we are pretty good at hunkering down and I think we have lived more fully, in the moment, close to home, as we fill our days with a mundane but surprisingly rewarding domestic agenda. Walking, reading, gardening, cooking and working in the yard. It is all consuming.

Somehow I finished my 20th volume of “Brief History of the World” yesterday. I will eventually scan it and create an eBook to add to the five I have available for download now.

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Performance Art For The Neighbors

Bowl of fruit neat the fireplace
Bowl of fruit neat the fireplace

2020 has been a bountiful year for collecting wood. So much so that when offered oak from a tree our neighbors had trimmed we politely refused. Upper 30s, lower 40s is perfect weather for splitting wood. The temperature is headed up near 50 tomorrow so we’ll take a break and go for a long walk.

Even with an hydraulic wood splitter it is back breaking work. As they say, the wood warms you three times. When you move it, when you split it and when you burn it. My favorite part is stacking, building corners and balancing one piece on top of another so the whole stack stays standing. It’s like a giant art project, a bit like performance art.

Maybe a month ago Frank De Blase told us he was doing  a piece for City newspaper on bands of yesterday and he sent sent us a few questions. ” “When was the Hi-Techs/Personal effects formed?” “What do you remember about your first gig” etc. Of course there is no City newspaper anymore. Not since Covid and all the restaurants and bars where people picked up the weekly have closed. But there is a website. And then last week Spevak sent some similar questions. I guess he’s doing a piece for WXXI. (Didn’t XXI buy City?) “How do you explain going from the New Wave of Personal Effects to the ambient jazz of Margaret Explosion? When you close your eyes while listening to Margaret Explosion, what do you see? What’s the most unusual gig Margaret Explosion has played? We’ll see if this one materializes.

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Multiflora

Wild Multiflora Rose on Hoffman Road
Wild Multiflora Rose on Hoffman Road

Lake Ontario’s level is right at its November long term average but the sandy beach looks bigger than ever. We’re not the only ones who have taken to walking the length of Durand during the pandemic. And there is plenty of room to distance when passing other parties.

We came back through the woods along the golf course and saw only one foursome. My brother, Tim, an avid golfer, told us the course was closing for the year after today. He had stopped by to pick up the golf balls I’ve found, the last of three batches I gave him this year, a couple hundred balls. The only ones I keep are the Supersoft matte balls in the hot colors.

Real Madrid played Villarreal to a 1-1 tie yesterday. Modric (our MVP ), the 6″ 4″ goalie and Toni Gross all started. Vinicius and Isco came in as subs but for some reason most of their starting lineup was on the bench. We watched the match in Spanish and they probably told us why but we didn’t catch it.

We finished our walk down at the garden and picked a big batch of arugula, cilantro and romaine. Peggi’s making more pasta for a lasagna dish with the last batch of fresh tomatoes sauce. We recorded Atletico vs. FC Barcelona and we’ll watch that one over dinner tonight.

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Guardrail

Rusty guardrail on way to Amans Farm Market
Rusty guardrail on way to Amans Farm Market

I am not tired of winning. My next door neighbor, Rick, probably won more games than I did this year but I won today and the last time out. He keeps track of these thing on a calendar but doesn’t tally the results until the holidays. The paint has about worn off the shoes and they are starting to rust.

The cold snap we had a few days ago finally did our tomatoes in. Peggi made a fresh sauce with the remaining tomatoes and we had that over her homemade pasta. The arugula and spinach love this weather and the romaine is thriving but the peppers are done. It was so nice tonight we decided to cook out, roasted potatoes and Brussels sprouts.

I am happy to hear the Rochester Red Wings are now a Washington Nationals farm team. I’ve always preferred the National League and grew up when they were affiliated with the Cardinals. I hate the AL’s designated hitter rule.

My mom was a baseball fan and got Stan Musial’s autograph when he was playing for the Wings. We had Knot Hole cards when we were young and used to keep track of the games on the scorecards they sold at the stadium. Rochester’s International League included Montreal, Toronto, Buffalo and Havana. I remember seeing a game with Havana just before the shooting that got them kicked out. Fidel Castro threw out the first pitch when the Wings played their season opener in Cuba in 1960.

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Brutalism

104 exit at Goodman Street
104 exit at Goodman Street

We got as far at the corner this morning before finding more wood by the curb. Someone had split some large red oak logs into hefty wedges. They were asking to be taken home. We took a few pieces with us and went back for the car. It was only 30 degrees today but perfect for working outdoors.

We fired up the spitter and went to work. Peggi and I make a good team, splitting and stacking. We have way too much wood but this stuff was irresistible. Dense and heavy, you could cut perfect 4 by 4’s out it and build rock solid corners. Full of BTUs, the splitter barely took a bite before the just logs popped off.

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Apple Country

Ida Red's at Lagoner Farms in Williamson
Ida Red’s at Lagoner Farms in Williamson

Our garage smells like Schutt’s Cider Mill. We bought a big bag of 20 Ouncers at Orbaker’s in Williamson on Sunday, just before they closed their stand for the year. We didn’t have room in the refrigerator so we have them in cold storage. We plan to make apple sauce with those.

The apples in the photo above are Ida Red’s from Lagoner Farms in Williamson. They used to be our favorite apple. We’ve been stuck on Honey Crisps for the last couple of years and Orbakers was sold out so we came home with Snap Dragons. They are just just as crisp and refreshing but a little less juicy with bit of tartness.

European settlers who brought apple seeds to New York in the 1600s. Dried apples were a staple for colonists and hard apple cider was a popular drink. The micro climate along the lake provides an extended growing season. Lucky for us.

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Vaccine Hungry

Sweet Gum seed pods from Horseshoe to Ridge Trail
Sweet Gum seed pods from Horseshoe to Ridge Trail

We bought an inflatable mattress back in March from REI. It is intended to be our guest bed but we have not had any guests. We inflated it last night for the first time because we were considering sleeping in the basement during the high winds. The winds died down before bed but there were plenty of limbs down this morning when we took our walk. We cleared branches from the the street and our paths in the wood. We finished at the garden where we found two huge pine tree branches stretched out across fence.

Peggi plans to make a Caesar’s Salad tonight with the Romaine we brought back from the garden. We did an early and late planting. We’ve still not had a frost so while she was picking that I picked a fresh batch of cilantro, some beets and an orange tomato. I roasted three of our red peppers and we had them on toast with Manchego cheese.

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Gallery Hopping In A Pandemic

November sunset over our house
November sunset over our house

Friday the 13th marked exactly eight months since we last had dinner guests in our house. We spent the day virtually gallery hopping. We started by joining the Eastman Museum’s 1PM Zoom presentation, A Photographic Truth, with process historian Mark Osterman. He walked us through the various photographic image making processes, demonstrating how starting in the nineteenth century, photography has always had a challenging relationship with the truth.

I have had the Cultured Mag webpage that Louise sent us open for a week now because it had a link to the Philip Guston virtual show at Hauser Wirth. That became our second destination and turned out to be a deep dive as you would expect with anything related to Guston. The show was curated by Guston’s daughter, Musa Meyer, and she narrates a beautiful walk-through. The gallery’s site includes a short video of a 1979 Roberta Smith interview with Guston that is a must see. I’m a Roberta groupie and just had just read her review of Jonathan Lyndon Chase‘s show in Friday morning’s paper.

At 6PM we joined the Zoom meeting at the Memorial Art Gallery with art critic and Warhol author, Blake Gopnik. He shared a wealth of Andy info and was thoroughly entertaining.

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2 Popes, 2 Potuses

Hoffman Road marsh in November
Hoffman Road marsh in November

It occurred to me that we effectively have two presidents just like we have two popes. A messy situation in both cases. Benedict’s goons are preventing Francis from instituting fundamental reform while Joe is waiting to even be recognized by the don.

My holy card collection is organized by saint, most of whom I grew up having a least a faint familiararity with. It seemed we had a saint for every field, cause or purpose. And their feast days were celebrated throughout the year, one on each day.

I was born of the feast day of Saint Paul of the Cross, April 28, and named Paul after the saint. A friend of the family, the Thomas Merton buff, Father Bill Shannon, gave me a relic of my patron saint. All of my siblings were named after saints until my sister Amy came along. My parents had left the church by then and pagan names were on the table.

Today we have too many saints. Pope John Paul II named 483 new saints in his 27 years on the job. Pope Francis made Pope John Paul II a saint. And now we learn that Saint John Paul II knew of the wretched allegations of sexual abuse against Cardinal McCarrick when he elevated him in the church hierarchy.

And while I wasn’t looking someone changed the church’s calendar of saints. They stuck John Paul in on October 22 and moved my patron saint’s day to October 20th. I was not born in October.

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Close Only Counts

Two Bald Cypress trees at end of Pat Lake in NovemberPat Lake in November
Two Bald Cypress trees at end of Pat Lake in NovemberPat Lake in November

The bucks are out of their minds this time of year. They act like bulls in a Spanish arena. We came across one in the woods this morning and I swear it considered charging us. They are driven by their hormones and their nose. I clapped to scare it off. We spotted another on our way home, an 8 pointer.

When we got to the golf course there was someone on the green with a leaf blower. I assumed it was the park staff but the guy put the blower down and putted. Down at the lake we crossed paths with few friends. My cousin’s husband stopped to tell us how much they are enjoying the paintings they picked up at my brother’s house, ones my my father left behind. And Chris Schepp pulled over to say, “Hey.”

Rick and I are pretty evenly matched but I lost the last three horseshoe sessions. We play two out of three and I had yet to win in November. I won the first game tonight, Rick took the second and even though we started a half hour earlier, at 3:30, it was dark by the time we were tied 17-17. I tipped our yellow chair over behind the stake so we could see the stake and we continued on. 18-18 and then I threw a ringer to finish it off, possibly the last match of the year.

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Implacable Witness

Bather, Durand Eastman Beach, November 10, 2020
Bather, Durand Eastman Beach, November 10, 2020

It doesn’t often reach 81 degrees in November but it did today. We started by walking along the beach. We went around this guy and I positioned myself to photograph him. “Art is that which comes to a man, and stands between himself and an implacable witness: the work.” – Eduardo Chillida

One of neighbors, down back, has a gas powered leaf blower that they use almost every day. We have one too but it’s not like this one. Where our electric blower goes on with a switch and stays on until we’re done, this neighbor continually throttles theirs’ up and then down. So you can’t get used to the noise. We thought for sure that it was the new neighbors, the ones that have dutifully tried to maintain a green lawn all summer and lined the edge of their property with with fallen trees. We walked down there today and discovered the source, a woman we see all the time, “The Coronal,” a former military officer with purple hair and a yappy white dog. She had headphones on. We waved.

Peggi and I made a racket as well, first with our leaf blower on the roof, then the driveway and finally with our mower which we use as a mulcher. The oak leaves have half their mass this year due to the Gypsy Moth infestation and they are more than half down so one more noise session will do it for this year.

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Game Changer

Neighborhood Birch tree
Neighborhood Birch tree

Almost hard to take in all this good news. With the election results, the Bills victory and then the vaccine announcement, our neighborhood (pod) is giddy. We celebrated with bonfires at both ends of the street. The weather too has been outperforming with over a week of near record temperatures.

We didn’t see the Bills game but we’re keenly aware of game time just by observing our neighbors’ habits. We watched one of our backlogged La Liga matches and Madrid Atlético beat Cadiz 4-o with Luis Suarez getting a goal and the amazing João Félix scoring twice. Atlético moves the ball with marvelous finesse while their coach, “El Cholo,” wills the play with animated spasms.

We met friends at Embark Craft Ciderworks in Williamson yesterday. We we’re halfway there when I realized I had forgotten my mask. We sat in the sun on the grounds of the 100 year old Lagoner Farms orchards. We shared a cheese plate and conversation and came home with a bushel of apples.

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Goodbye

Johnson Pond in green
Johnson Pond in green

My father loved this place, Johnson Pond, across from the entrance to public beach at Durand. It has its own ecosystem. His photo of a few dozen turtles perched on a floating log here was the panorama photo in the D&C. Joe Biden was his guy and he would be so happy.

I am happy to say goodbye to the days we’ve spent trying to figure why so many people like the orange one. The morning hours spent going to his Twitter page to hear it from the horse’s mouth. All those NYT opinion pieces that never quite summed up the rage. The attention we paid to his ghastly look. His family. The time we spent translating the huge banner the guy at the end of Hoffman has hanging off his deck – “Trump 2020 No More Bullshit.” The army of sycophants. The ugliness.

Goodbye.

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Double Your Pleasure

Lake Ontario with marbled November sky
Lake Ontario with marbled November sky

My friend, since fifth grade, Joe Barrett, was in a Doublemint gum commercial. It ran for years and paid a pretty penny.

Walking the sandy beach at Durand in November is an absolute treat. Isolation during this pandemic has only deepened our appreciation of our surroundings. On a day like this with temperatures in the seventies we walked the length, turned around and walked it back. We doubled our pleasure.

Our favorite La Liga clubs all took a break this week to compete in the Champions League. Barcelona beat Dynamo Kyiv 2-1, Real Madrid beat Inter Milan 3-2 and Atlético, our new favorite team, tied Locomotiv Moskva 1-1. That last match, somewhat shockingly, was played in Moscow with a live crowd. The matches, one watched each day, were particularly rich when followed by election coverage.

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Looking Up

Jet stream above house on Wisner
Jet stream above house on Wisner

Today was a good day for looking up. With temperatures in the seventies and the sky a pure blue it was easy to forget about politics for a few brief minutes. As I took this photo a woman on Wisner came out of her house to ask if she could help me. I always say “no” in these situations but Peggi decided to defuse the situation by explaining that I was not taking a photo of her house and she pointed to this plane.

We hooked up with Kathy on Peart Avenue and walked with her down to the lake, over the bridge into Webster. At Durand Boulevard two eagles flew just over our heads. We talked mostly about the election and when we passed a woman that Kathy knew we chatted with her about the election. On the way back we spotted our neighbors out in their yard and we chatted with them about the election. Back home we read on the porch for bit and our neighbor, Jared stopped by to chat with us through the screen. Without exception everyone was depressed to learn that a larger turnout only meant more people were equally divided. But things are ever so slightly looking up.

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