Covid Time

Lakeshore Boulevard with Peggi on trail and Honda Element coming toward us
Lakeshore Boulevard with Peggi on trail and Honda Element coming toward us

We headed down to the beach just after I took this shot but we found quite a few people walking along it. We have had it almost to ourselves and we’re become spoiled. It easy enough to distance down there but I forgot my mask again.

We harvested all our baby boy chow and Peggi made a salad with it. We put three big bags in the refrigerator and then read that it is in the cabbage family so it would easily have survived out upcoming frost. We plan to pick a row of carrots tomorrow, the rest of our peppers and the tomatoes that are stallion the vine. We’ll let the kale, lettuce, arugula, beets and spinach duke it out with the frost.

Still having a hard time getting anything done. So many projects laying around in various states. The days fly by but time stands still. Even if you don’t get the damn thing we are all affected.

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Magic Mushroom

Amanita mushroom at Jeff and Mary Kaye's
Amanita mushroom at Jeff and Mary Kaye’s

We lifted the lid on the firewood we have been storing for years and took a load out to our friends’, Jeff and Mary Kaye’s. We surprised them and helped them load it into their out building. We found this Amanita mushroom right by our feet when we got out of the car. It looks like it could contain the secret of the universe.

Jeff and Mary Kaye suspected the nearby, dead pin oak had made this spot magical. Their friend, Jerry from the former 2 Vine, had already taken a cluster of the mushrooms to one of his restaurants.

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Living In A Dream

Dead shad fish along Lake Ontario
Dead shad fish along Lake Ontario

I’d like to think this fish died of old age. Even that though is not so pretty from what I have seen. But fish do die of natural causes and this guy washed up along the beach at Durand. Even natural causes are grizzly.

We took the newspaper, a bag of peanuts, our books and our devices down to the pool this afternoon. The sun was out and the temps were in the mid seventies. We started by skimming the leaves off the cover and then rolled that back, brushed the bottom and then skimmed newly fallen leaves from the pool surface.

In the pool we marveled at the gorgeous colors of the sassafras tree, one of the first to change around here, just after the sugar maples. The sporadic clouds were zipping across the blue sky and I was thinking about making a time lapse movie. The brought down more leaves and both Peggi and swam from one leaf to the next, scooping up red oak, tulip tree more sassafras leaves. We did this for twenty minutes or so and then got out and skimmed some more before putting the cover on.

“They’re living in a dream, and I’m preparing
to be a ghost.” – Louise Glück

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Easy Street

Our doctor offered flu shots in his parking lot this weekend so we signed up. He’s up on the hill at Linden Oaks. We rolled down the window, rolled up our sleeves and a nurse in a mask poked us. We’re good to go.

We left the car up there and walked under the railroad tracks in to Penfield on Linden Avenue. There’s a few modern tech buildings over there and then Forest Lawn Manufactured Home Community, a dreamy mobil home park where even the stop signs are miniaturized. We made sure to walk up and down every street, Mainview Drive, Bittersweet Drive, Elderberry Circle, Miami Drive and Easy Street.

I find these tiny homes really attractive. Maybe its because I lived in a trailer for a few years in Bloomington. And I have fond memories of that easy going time.


Ch Ch Changes

More produce from the garden.
More produce from the garden.

My neighbor and I have played horseshoes every other day since April. He just texted to say he would have to cancel today because he suspects he has a torn ligament in his foot. I hope that is not it for the season. Peggi and I spent a good bit of the last two afternoons down at the pool but the weather changed. Today we skimmed leaves off the solar cover. There were some dark spots on the green basil. We have both purple and green. And the bottom half of our tomato plants show signs of brown. But for now the bounty is as much as my t-shirt can hold.

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Yoga On The Beach

Turquoise Chevy station wagon parked at Sea Breeze Amusement Park
Turquoise Chevy station wagon parked at Sea Breeze Amusement Park

This BelAir, parked in front of the shuttered Sea Breeze Amusement Park, certainly caught my eye this morning. Maybe its because we’ve been so imersed in Perry Mason re-runs. We started with season 1 but found they really hit their stride in Season 2. The mid-century modern sets are showpieces and cars like these make grand entrances throughout the show. Wurlitzer music was coming out of the carousal building but the merry-go-round was not spinning.

Down at the lake we were surprised to see how much progress the town has made on the project to raise the grade between the lake and the bay. A train of dump trucks is piling stone and dirt along the shore, the boat launch is closed, the parking lot has been excavated and there is a fence around the whole thing. All this in the one week since we were here last.

While we were watching a bulldozer establish the new grade we spotted a sign on the lake side that read “Yoga Today.” we determined the sign was in front of Alayna and Reo’s house and then Martha O’Conner came down the steps followed by Alayna. Peggi and I had both forgotten our masks today so had a conversation at a distance.

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Life Outdoors

Front yard fire-pit on first day
Front yard fire-pit on first day

Our house came with a big fireplace, a wide opening surrounded by a wall of long, thin Roman bricks from floor to cathedral ceiling. We narrowed the opening by constructing a divider wall out of fire brick and put a wood burning insert in one side. We store firewood in the other. I bought some extra bricks because I like them so much. I used some of them out back to make a base for our chiminea. I modeled the base after Carl Andre’s piece at MoMA and did the same with this one out front. Peggi came up with the layout here. The metal rack came from our old fireplace. It looks like something the baby Jesus would lie in in a nativity set.

We found the little yellow basket on one of our walks and we’ve been using it, upside down, as a table for the a distanced second party, usually Rick when we play horseshoes. We ordered two metal outdoor side tables from Walmart and expect delivery of those tomorrow. Peggi and I had the first fire here and then we had Jeff and Mary Kaye over for a rip roaring fire. This will read like a nightmare to our friends out west. There was a beautiful warm night just a few days ago and we spent that under Kathy’s candlelit pergola overlooking the bay. That may be the last of those so if want to have a social life it will involve burning things.

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Dog Days

Blue boat in bay by Newport Yacht Club
Blue boat in bay by Newport Yacht Club

I’m loving these last few days of summer. In spite of Covid it has been one of the best. For the weather, for kicking back, for taking the time to smell the roses. Maybe all that was because of and not in spite of Covid. And I’m looking forward to cooler temperatures and the energy and motivation that goes along with that.

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Sauce, Vintage 2020

Charles and helper from Woodchuck Tree Service at Jeddy's house. Jerod is show watching.
Charles and helper from Woodchuck Tree Service at Jeddy’s house. Jared is show-watching.

We stopped down at the pool before heading out on our walk this morning. Peggi checks the chemistry while I brush the yellow, pool boy style, if I see any. Helena called us from across the street. She appeared to still be in her pajamas and she asked if we could bring some wood to the gathering tonight in their backyard. It struck us all as hilarious considering these two giant white oaks were taken down in her yard just a few days ago. They kept plenty of the wood and even split about half but it is not properly seasoned yet so we delivered a small load for the fire pit.

Peggi made the first batch of sauce this year with a t-shirt full of tomatoes that we brought back from the garden. I thinned our carrots again and we threw them in along with a big batch of basil and some jalapeños. .

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Raising The Canopy

Front view of our wood pile, August 2020
Front view of our wood pile, August 2020

We have an insane amount of wood. The covered row of split wood in the photo above is the first of twelve. That first row is sporting a “Wood Hood,” a cover designed and produced by my brother, John. There’s three rows of unspilt oak in front of those. Some came from our friend Kathy, some from Wisner Road and the rest from Jeddy’s tree down the street. And a few hours ago we were offered more wood from our neighbor, Phil. He hired Jeddy’s tree surgeon, Woodchuck, to raise his canopy. We’ll wait for cold weather before splitting the pile.

It seemed everybody burned wood when we first moved here. I wish I could say they all wanted to switch to cleaner energy but the fact is they all got too old. They switched their wood burning fireplaces to gas and in one case took the wood stove out. And Leo, whose Heathkit hydraulic splitter we inherited, died.

We learned all we know from Leo. How to roll the big logs up a plank and into our car. How to split the awkward ones. How to stack. We like the whole ritual and we’re looking forward to sitting by the fire this winter. Which reminds me. I’ve got to get up and clean the chimney before the season starts.

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This Reality Show

Fresh corn on the Weber in the backyard
Fresh corn on the Weber in the backyard

My father, who still had a “Kerry/Edwards” sticker on the bottom of his watercolor board when he passed, would be so happy that Biden was chosen as the Democratic nominee. Biden was always his favorite, his type of guy, his type of politician.

I joked that we’d be at my brother’s Covid Corn Roast in our Hazmat suits but that wasn’t necessary. He’s a mason and he had scaffolding set up as tables in his backyard so we could all sit the recommended distance apart. My brother and his wife came up from New Jersey so all seven of the siblings were there.

We surely would have talked politics if our parents were there but we didn’t. I’m really not sure where everyone stands. My sister-in-law loved “The Apprentice” and I really don’t know how she feels about this reality show. I’ve heard some family members badmouth Cuomo, Obama and even Nancy Pelosi. One sister-in-law told us she would be afraid of a Covid vaccine because she doesn’t trust the government. I assume it would have been safe to kick the Trumpster around but we didn’t.

Quite a few of our family members work in or for schools and the plans for a safe return are worrisome. They all were dreading the experiment.

We brought home sweet onions and corn from Schriener’s Farm Stand near my brother’s place. I guess I went to grade school with the guy that owns the place and they recognized me as a Dodd even with my mask. We cooked the corn tonight and recapped

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Toy Trucks

Toy trucks on Culver Road
Toy trucks on Culver Road

It’s becoming apparent that this summer may not last forever. The Mayapples are turning brown and the deer are feasting on acorns. We still have our fans on. It’s been warm and we don’t have AC. I prefer it that way and am thankful for the tree canopy that surrounds us. If we were still working out of our attic in the city I’d be singing a different tune.

It’s not fair to be in a dream state while the pandemic carries on and California burns but that’s where we find ourselves. The days float by. We divide our coffee consumption into two sessions, one before our walk and one after. We wander on our walk and then spend an hour or so in the garden. Our red pepper plants need some stakes and string as they are laden with fruit. We already lost a branch with peppers. Before stopping down to the pool we try to get some “work” done. For the last four days we’ve been hanging with our friends and neighbors, Jeddy and Helena, as the four of us played woodsmen with a tree they had taken down. Every other day there is a horseshoe game in our front yard. Best out of three and the loser brings a beer to the next match. We’re standing still but the days sail by.

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A Santiago

Observation point at Sodus lighthouse on Lake Ontario.
Observation point at Sodus lighthouse on Lake Ontario.

Today is the feast day of Santiago, Saint James the Major, one of the twelve apostles and the patron saint of Spain and Portugal. We celebrated with a Spanish Rioja and muddled lime on ice. The two pilgrimages we did in Spain and the one we canceled when Covid hit all finished in the Galician city named after Santiago.

We picnicked with good friends in Sodus at the old lighthouse yesterday and it was idyllic. I guess I wasn’t sure if that was still possible. We picked up food at El Rincon and took the back roads to the lake, by Christian Holler and along Mud Lane. God’s country.

We looked for a rest stop on our way home. We were traveling along the lake on the Seaway Trail and we found a spot next to a historical marker for a house that was once owned by an abolitionist. It was thought to be a stop on the Underground Railroad.

We parked next to two cars in what looked like a small parking lot. Every fence pole surrounding the lot had an American flag on it. After reading the historical marker we ducked down the road next door, one that led to a State fishing sight, and we found a place to go to the bathroom. When we got back to the car we found a couple in the lot yelling at us, “Is that your car?” I thought it had acted up or something. “This is private property. This is private property. This is private property,” the woman kept screaming. OK,” I said. “We surrender.” and I put my hands in the air. She yells, “Didn’t you see the signs?” I said, “We saw the American flags but we didn’t see the signs.” “They’re right here.” And she ran over to point them out out to us.

The couple was selling their house and the lakefront property. There was a Sotheby’s sign out front. Everything was in order but they had a design problem. Those damn flags took up all the visual space.

Back in town we went down to the pool with a beer. Someone was yelling on the other side of the fence. And then it sounded like a woman in pain. Was she crying? I got up on the fence to see what was going on. I heard Marsha, our neighbor with the big dog named Topher, yelling, “Larry. Get it out of his mouth.” I couldn’t see what it was but I’m guessing it was some sort of animal.

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Circle Game

Paul and Peggi in Milton Avenue house, Bloomington Indiana 1973
Paul and Peggi in Milton Avenue house, Bloomington Indiana 1973

Here we are in our first house, a small rental in Bloomington, Indiana. Peggi was finishing up school and I was working construction. From here we moved to Rochester and eventually got married. Today is our anniversary.

Bloomington was a one horse college town but we found some magic there. I rounded up some photos and a few movies from this period and posted them here. Sort of an anniversary card to the two of us and the friends we made there.


Spice Of Life

Airstream trailer in driveway on the walk up to Aman's Farm Market
Airstream trailer in driveway on the walk up to Aman’s Farm Market

If I am not mistaken this is same driveway that we spotted a turquoise Metropolitan in about ten years ago..

I love the hot humid period we get in the the northeast as much as I love the bitter cold period in the dead of winter. Variety is the spice of life.

We typically get a reprieve from the leaf blower racket once summer rolls around. But this year, in the middle of summer, we are experiencing a fall of pieces of green leaves. The gypsy moth poop pellets cover the ground. Even we have taken to leaf blowing.

Ours is electric and once I turn it on I don’t turn it off until I am done. We have some neighbors who strap on the gas powered blowers and throttle them up and down every few minutes. In an ideal world this should be against a town ordinance. You can tune out a lot if it is a constant but on and off . . .

With our canopy being eaten we are getting more sun and the house is hot. We don’t have or want air conditioning so Peggi fashioned a poor man’s AC unit by filling a Guinness glass with ice and placing it in front of the fan.

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Aerial Sex

Two Monarch butterflies mating
Two Monarch butterflies mating

Of course Monarch butterflies mate in the air. I just had never seen it before. These two flew just above our heads while we were playing horseshoes in the front of the house. It looks like one does all the flapping and the other goes along for the ride. They landed in our pine tree which is being decimated by the gypsy moths who are currently in their caterpillar stage.

The caterpillars are eating the leaves on most of the trees in our canopy and their droppings, about the size of a BB, cover every surface. According to the neighbors the gypsy moths were last this bad in the eighties. We are surrounded by oaks and they love those. The distinctive red and white oak leaves look completely different this year. There are huge holes in them and only half half of each leaf is still hanging on. I picture the caterpillars on the end of the leaves eating the leaf they are on and then falling to the ground with the leaf piece just like in the cartoons.

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Sue's frog meditating in our neighbor's fish pond
Sue’s frog meditating in our neighbor’s fish pond

My sister, Ann, stopped by over the weekend and we had dinner out on the deck. She is back to work, behind the jewelry counter at Parkleigh. We tried to keep our distance but I think she might have forgotten that we are in a pandemic a few times, like when she leaned in to show us a picture on her phone. Somehow we came around to the types of meals we had when we were kids.

Even though my grandfather was a butcher there was very little meat on the menu. Maybe because there were nine of us counting my parents. Tuna melts were one of my mom’s go to’s. Warm and creamy served over Pepperidge Farm toast. We had Spaghetti from a can, Chef Boyardee until Ragu came along, with the pasta all swollen and soggy. Rice A Roni, the San Francisco treat, was in regular rotation. There might have been some chicken pieces in that. Seems like we had Sloppy Joes once a week. The spices came out of a French’s foil pouch which was mixed with loose hamburger and served over a toasted roll. We loved this stuff!

We ate a lot of steamers, boiled skinny red hot dogs. At least once a week. We ate canned corn, peas and mixed vegetables. Occasionally my father would give my mom a break and make what he called “Mickey Mouse sandwiches.” Little cubes of ham were stirred in with scrambled eggs and served with ketchup. For some reason my father always cut the crust off the bread, all four sides.

There were some clunkers. Chicken Pot Pies were a regular but invariably gave me indigestion. I think it may have been the lard in the pie crust or maybe it was the chicken. Every other week or so we would have Salisbury steaks, one notch above hamburgers, pounded flat with a hammer that left a pattern of upside down pyramids in the meat. I would often put the piece in a napkin and feed it to the neighborhood dog. Of course Motts applesauce was served with that.

My mom’s cookies and raspberry tarts were out of this world. Desert was always a hit.


Bike Stories

Muggs Up located where Sibley Library is today, across street from Eastman Theater - Paul Dodd photo 1976
Mugs Up located where Sibley Music Library is today, across the street from Eastman Theater – Paul Dodd photo 1976

My brother Mark, arranged a sibling Zoom meeting on his recent birthday. Four of the seven were present. It seems everyone is riding a bike during the Coronavirus and someone asked if we were. I rode one everywhere when we lived in the city. We only ever had one car and Peggi drove out to Pittsford to teach for ten years. Since we moved up near the lake we mostly walk in the woods but we’ve taken long bike rides each year. And bike riders in the woods really bug me. I’m happy to hear my siblings are riding. They prompted me to pump up our tires and oil the chain.

I biked downtown to work in all four seasons for many years. There were not many others out there in January and we would nod to one another. I would pass the serial killer Arthur Shawcross on East Main as he rode to work at G&G Foods. I’d ride to the HOG on lunch hour and then back downtown at night to band rehearsal in the Cox Building. When the City clamped down on the hookers on Lyell they moved to East Main and I was propositioned on my bike as I rode through their new area. I rode out to Webster on Wednesday nights, down the big hill at the Bay and back up, to babysit for my sister’s three children.

Over the years I had someone open a passenger door while I was riding between it and the curb. At a signal light on Alexander I pulled up next to a pickup to wait for the light to change. I looked to my left and the driver yelled “Fuck you!” I clobbered a pedestrian who stepped off the curb in front of Music Lovers downtown. I hit him so hard, I flew over my handlebars and landed on the street with three broken ribs. I went back to pick up the guy and he was knocked out. I was afraid I had killed him but then he came to. I repeatedly asked, “Are you OK?” After a few minutes he said, “Jesus Christ!”

And this is the craziest thing. I took the photo above in 1976. Mugs Up was right across the street from the Eastman Theater. I ran into the guy just one block west of Mugs Up around 1978. I believe this is the same guy.

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First Morning On Earth

Doe with its fawn with its mother in our back yard. Photo by Peggi Fournier.mother in our back yard
Doe with its fawn in our back yard. Photo by Peggi Fournier.

I was up at six, my Covid era wake time, and down in the basement checking on our dehumidifier which started acting up this spring. So I didn’t even hear Peggi when she tried to call my attention to this newborn and its mama in ouR back yard.

Our neighbors sent us pictures of a doe being born just outside their window last week and we have come across three other mothers with their brand new offspring since. It could be a bumper crop. One mother had twins.

They come out a little wobbly but they are walking in minutes. The one above could be just hours old. The young ones stay close to the mother but then stay put while the mom goes about their business. We are told they have no scent and are safer without their mom for long periods of the day. We heard a coyote just yesterday. We’ve come across the newborns alone under a tree in the woods.

Amazing how they have evolved. But they aren’t done yet. There are too many them in our area. I don’t give a hoot about neighbors’ ornamental shrubs, they do way too much damage to the woods.

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