Laid To Rest

Outlet from Eastman Lake flowing into Lake Ontario at Durand
Outlet from Eastman Lake flowing into Lake Ontario at Durand

We were unable to cross the outflow from Eastman Lake this morning. Of course we could have taken our shoes off and waded across but we turned around and walked back along the beach. Someone had left a big round metal fire pit fixture on the beach with ashes and charred beer cans from the night before. We passed twice and considered taking it home both times but it was way too heavy.

We watched a virtual funeral mass yesterday for Joe O’Keefe, my mom’s cousin. He was a real sweetheart. At my mom’s funeral he told me a rather significant story about their common grandmother, a Kelly, who left Dublin on a ship bound for New York as a caretaker of an elderly man. She was supposed to return but she fell in love with a man named Walsh. They married as soon as they landed but only on the condition that Walsh drop his affiliation with the Church of England and get right with Catholicism. 

He told me they used to hold these teen dances all over the city and kids would usually go without dates. He said he always made sure he danced with my mom and said he was determined to find a Mercy girl like my mom. And he did, my mom’s lifelong friend, Virginia, who he married.

Tomorrow we drive to Niagara Falls for the funeral of my aunt and Joe’s cousin, Ann Oliver, the last of that generation of Tierneys. She died during the pandemic and the family delayed the Mass and remembrance until now. She was my favorite aunt on that side. I painted a picture of her for “The City” show at Pyramid in 1990 where I depicted one member from each of my relatives’ families working somewhere in Rochester.

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Our Town

Boat along the Erie Canal near Fairport
Boat along the Erie Canal near Fairport

We have not played horseshoes in a week. First Rick thought he might have Covid so we were awaiting test results. That turned out to be a cold, a common condition that almost disappeared during the pandemic. And then Peggi’s sister came to visit from LA along with her man friend. We had dinner here the first night, an evening warm enough to sit on the the deck while I roasted corn. The corn was cold by the time we ate but the seared tuna that Peggi made was fantastic. It occurred to me that I need to up my game with the salad, both the dressing and the green stuff. Salad should rightfully be the best part of any meal. Peggi made Tarta de Santiago for dessert and we finished the evening playing 45s, some from the collection of the Fournier sisters. Bobby Darin’s “Nature Boy” was the hit of the night.

The next day we took a walk along the canal, starting in Pittsford where our guests were staying. We walked from there to Fairport, thinking there would be a place to eat. The walk was a lot farther than we thought and I was thinking about a pint of cold beer but unlike Pittsford, Fairport is a blue collar town and the restaurants don’t open til 4. We met at Rocco’s for dinner that night and ordered traditional Italian fair. Peggi and I recommended the salad and we all ordered it but it bombed. Despite the fancy name, “Tres Colores,” the radicchio and lettuce mix were downing in a bitter sherry vinaigrette. You notice these kind of things when you recommend a place to guests. It is still one of our favorite restaurants. 

We asked our guests what they would like to do the next day and were delighted to hear they wanted to to see the apple orchards so we worked our way around the bay and drove along the lake to Pultneyville where we  stopped at B. Forman Park. Fully loaded apple trucks were everywhere along the way and I was surprised at how large an industry it really is when you go looking for it. The cobblestone houses are a sensational and we stopped in front of one just to gawk. We took Middle Road back and stopped at Lagoner Farms in Williamson where we sat at a picnic table in the sun while enjoying their cider and a cheese plate.

We finished our visit with a meal and conversation outdoors at Redd. Everything is right with the world there.

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Underground

Metal detecter dude at Durand Eastman Beach
Metal detecter dude at Durand Eastman Beach

There is always someone on the beach regardless of the weather. It always different, having been rearranged by the weather, the waves and the night’s revelers. It is always beautiful.

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Abe Lincoln’s Mom

Harlequin Glorybower in Durand Eastman Park along Log Cabin Road
Harlequin Glorybower in Durand Eastman Park along Log Cabin Road

Tuesday mornings we often run into the Cornell Cooperative Extension volunteers in the park The park is severely understaffed and these people, the nicest and most knowledgable people you will ever meet, are donating their time. So we limit ourselves to one question.

Last week they were pulling invasive Tree of Heaven plants. One of them held up a root ball that looked like six foot long white carrot. This morning they were just getting out of the vehicles down by the lake and we asked them about the white flowering plant that seems to be everywhere. They told us it is called Snakeroot, it is native to this area and it is not technically invasive. But they agreed it is acting like one this year. One of the old-timers said, “we like to call it ‘a brut.'”

It is called Snakeroot because the roots were commonly used to treat snakebites but the plant is poisonous to the touch. It is everywhere around here and Peggi has a few afternoons pulling the plants on our property. Legend has it that Abraham Lincoln’s mother died from drinking milk from a cow that had eaten the plant.

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Head Injury

145 Mid Century Modern house numbers
145 Mid Century Modern house numbers

You don’t really have to own a mid-century modern house, you could just put these stylish numbers from moderndwellnumbers on your house. They go a long ways. This photo doesn’t show it but the numbers are about a half inch off the house because the screws come with spacers. They send you a paper template that you can tape on your house. The holes are are marked for drilling and the kerning is thought out. We went with it but in retrospect I wished we had spaced the numbers out a little more.

Each year we watch this guy pull up at our neighbors house in late August to wash their windows. Inside and out. And each year we think, “That would be nice.” It takes us most of a day to wash the windows and this year, after the gypsy moth invasion and the new roof, our windows are especially dirty. So we tagged along with them and had our windows professionally cleaned. It took him about three hours and they have never been cleaner. So clean that a robin flew into our front window about an hour after he left. It was temporarily knocked out but we watched right itself, walk around a bit and take off.

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Cumbia, Cumbia

Sunburn from snorkeling in Cartagena, Columbia mid 80s. Photo by Peggi
Sunburn from snorkeling in Cartagena, Columbia mid 80s. Photo by Peggi

Well before the 60 Minutes piece on the tour boat operater who took a group of scuba divers out to a coral reef off Cozumel and came back to shore while one of the divers was still down, Peggi and I spent a week in Cartagena.

When my parents moved my mom threatened to throw my shoebox of baseball cards away if I didn’t pick them up. I took them home and pawed through them one last time. My collection ranged from ’58 to ’63 and by that time I was flush with paper route money and simultaneously losing interest in baseball. I had doubles and triples of the 1963 Topps baseball cards, all in mint condition.

I noticed an ad for a sports memorabilia fair at Peddler’s Village and we took my shoebox over there. One of the vendors was my high school math teacher, Mr. Setek. He told me he would come by our house, go through the collection and make me an offer.

He carefully examined the cards, the same ones I used to throw around, and he was particularly impressed by the the full set of 1963 cards, especially the three Pete Rose rookie cards. He made us an offer of $1100 dollars. We were floored and accepted. On the way out he told us he planned to put the Pete Rose cards in a safety deposit box and then use them to help pay for his sons’ college tuition.

Peggi and I decided to take a tropical vacation with the money. An ad in the NYT showed package prices for three destinations. Cartagena was the cheapest, for good reason. We stayed in the Hilton and watched rifle armed guard walk circles around our hotel at night. It was our first taste of Cumbia!

We arranged for a motor boat to take us snorkeling on a coral reef. I remember a young German couple, a few others and a single woman on the boat with us. No one spoke the same language and the guy driving the boat spoke one of the native Columbian dialects.

We traveled along an inland waterway and then out to an island. We took a few steps offshore, put our masks on, our heads in the water and the sensation was like LSD. A lunch was included. Another boat came out to the island to deliver the food. The operators of that boat started partying with our boat operator. While we snorkeled they were playing load music and doing lines of cocaine.

After lunch we got back in the boat. The operator had turned surly. He drove as fast as he could on the way back. The single woman kept pleading with him to slow down. You can see the reds marks on my ass from bouncing on the hard seats as we tore through the jungle.

Paul on beach in Southern Spain. Photo by Peggi
Paul on beach in Southern Spain. Photo by Peggi

Back at the hotel Peggi laughed at the lines on my rear end. I loved that suit because it was all cotton. I hate jumping in a pool and having my suit fill up like a ballon. I found it interesting that the colors alone, black and white, let more or less light through for my sunburn. And the photo is histerical.

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How She Got Pregnant

House number 310 on our walk up to Aman's Farm Market
House number 310 on our walk up to Aman’s Farm Market

Three women were sitting in one of the picnic shelters as we walked down Log Cabin Road this morning. Most of the shelters were already occupied and some of the grills were already smoking at 10 AM. On the table in front of the women was a short stack of Pepsi cans in those long 18 packs so they must have been expecting a crowd. As we passed by I heard one of them say, “That’s exactly how she got pregnant.” I think everybody knows how that happens.

Walking along the beach we came to a spot where the inlet from one of the smaller lakes was too deep to cross. We watched a young couple come toward us in bare feet and wade across. The woman’s arms were built and covered with tattoos. Rather than take our shoes off we turned around. We were now following the young couple. Walking behind them I could see her shorts were so short they failed to cover the bottom part of her buttocks. I hope that was ok to notice.

Our weather changed overnight and the humidity lifted. The sky today was pure blue and the sailboats looked especially white out on the lake. Walking up to Aman’s yesterday it was so hot we stood in the walk-in beer cooler for ten minutes when we got there. We came out with a six pack of Buffalo’s Hayburner.

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Mystery Of Faith

Found ink drawing
Found ink drawing

The priest reminded both Peggi and me of John Cassavetes, somewhere else in his own head but right there commanding your attention. When he sprayed hand sanitizer on his hands before passing out communion I lost my appetite for the body of Christ. We were sitting with a row of my cousins, all from the same generation as the cousin whose funeral mass we were celebrating. And there was a speaker mounted on the column right in front of us but I could hardly understand what he was saying. I caught something about the “mystery of faith” and that concept stuck with me.

Our neighbor, Helena, recommended the Oriental Rug Mart in Eastview Mall as a place to get our rugs cleaned. The owner, Reza, came by himself to pick them up. We asked if he had been vaccinated when he stepped out of his van and he told us he was but he had just finished a two week quarantine because he gotten Covid anyway. He described it as something like the bout of bronchitis he had last year. We wore masks and he carried our rugs off.

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So Many Saints

Kayak on Lake Ontario on a calm day
Kayak on Lake Ontario on a calm day

We have an urge to get down to the lake everyday. The three main ingredients are always the same, the sky, water and sand, but it is always a different experience. We might not make it today. It is my cousin’s 75th birthday. It is also his funeral as he died over the winter of cancer. He was a debating champ at Aquinas. I was really impressed by that. I couldn’t imagine getting up in front of the class and making a cohesive argument. I remember him telling me he didn’t have to agree with the position he was assigned but he had to make a good argument for it.

According to his sister the Newcomer funeral home made a mistake with the newspaper obit. They listed the wrong location for the Mass that was to be said in his honor. I was looking forward to getting back inside Saint John the Evangelist on Humboldt Street, the parish I grew up in, but the services will be held at Saint Ambrose.

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Keeping Up With Miguel

Trott Lake, Durand Eastman
Trott Lake, Durand Eastman

We had 3 inches of rain in one day last week, a week in which it rained everyday, and two inches a few days ago. The garden and our trees, which were nearly defoliated by the gypsy moths, are loving it. My brother, who golfs every chance he can get, not so much. It is raining as I type this. But the last few days were lovely.

We crossed paths with Miguel at the entrance to the park and he was without his dog. He told us he takes one walk with the dog and then another by himself in order to get his miles in. We asked how far he walks and he told us he tries to get six miles in. He said he had just walked to Saint Paul Boulevard. We told him we were impressed and he said I have to do it, my partner is ten years younger than I am.

Not to be outdone by Miguel we walked through the park, along the beach and Lakeshore Boulevard to Saint Paul today. Peggi clocked it at 4.4 miles. Instead of coming back the same way we walked north to Rock Beach Road and strolled by the dreamy cottage-like homes that line both sides of the streets that deadens at the lake, the former White City.

We had nine miles under our belts by the time we got back home.

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Path To Salvation

Sacred Heart painting on wooden door by Paul Dodd 1979. From the estate of John Boreck
Sacred Heart painting on wooden door by Paul Dodd 1979. From the estate of John Borek and Jackie Levine

Kathy used to go to a lot of estate sales. She has one of everything now so she only looks at the sales online. She spotted one of my old paintings in the upcoming John Borek and Jackie Levine estate sale. I think he bought it at a Pyramid Art Gallery show and it must have been sometime around 1980 because it looks a lot like the Sparky paintings. I’m guessing the bottom half reads “ . . Shall Be Saved.”

An option piece in the NYT this morning said “the most consistent threat to our democracy has always been the drive of some leaders to restrict its blessings to a select few.” That’s why this voter suppression thing pisses me off so much. They are playing with fire and the house is dry kindling. The US bishops are doing the same thing. Drafting rules that would restrict Biden, a devout Catholic, from receiving communion because of his defense of a woman’s right to chose. Pope Francis chided them by reminding them that “Communion is not a reward for saints. It is bread for sinners” but they insist on burning the house down.

Other than taking his vow of poverty seriously, all Father Jim Callan had to do to get excommunicated was let women say mass, bless same sex marriages and welcome anyone to break bread (receive communion) in church. That’s like crossing the street.

I escaped Catholicism but have a romantic soft spot for the customs, most of all the iconography. In addition to serving mass as an altar boy we played mass at home. We wore sheets as vestments and made our own hosts by rolling out slices of white bread with the side of a big glass and then cutting out hosts with the rim of a small glass.

As an altar boy I ate the Holy Eucharist by the handful, right from the clear plastic bag they came in. We were told the nuns in the convent next door made them. Hard core Catholics believe the hosts, once consecrated, were transformed into the literal body of Christ. They are big on miracles. The wonders of life are not enough. They, like every other religion, are always concocting lines in the sand, holding out paths to eternal salvation.

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Shorthand

Propane.tank near barn on Lake Road
Propane.tanks near barn on Lake Road

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.

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Defoliation

Sea gull along beach at Nine Mile Point
Sea gull along beach at Nine Mile Point

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.

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An Accounting

Morning cleanup crew on Durand Eastman Beach
Morning cleanup crew on Durand Eastman Beach

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.

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Murder

New York State scuba divers at Durand Lake crime scene
New York State scuba divers at Durand Lake crime scene

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.

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New Normal

Rubino's deli counter, Rochester, New York
Rubino’s deli counter, Rochester, New York

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.

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Paul From Rochester

Monolith at Fruition Seeds in Naples, New York
Monolith at Fruition Seeds in Naples, New York

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.

Monolith at Fruition Seeds in Naples, New York
Monolith #2 at Fruition Seeds in Naples, New York
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A Living Tomorrow

Nathaniel Rochester School Poetry Slam tonight
Nathaniel Rochester School Poetry Slam tonight

Nathaniel Rochester School has to be the ugliest building in Rochester’s historic Corn Hill District. But it would appear the kids who go to school here have already risen above that. They are hosting a Poetry Slam tonight at 5PM.

After dropping Peggi off for Grand Jury duty I parked near the Wilmot, a building my grandfather owned at one time, and strolled around the “Ruffled Shirt Ward.” Ralph Avery, one of my father’s favorite watercolorists, painted many of his street scenes here. And just like so many of his paintings it started raining.

Yesterday was like a dream. A walk around Charlotte, a latte from Starbucks, a game of horseshoes, patio sit with friends and a Real Madrid soccer match in the evening. And I have two more books for the coffee table, “Heaven Help Us” with beautiful reproductions of holy cards and Sun Ra’s “The Immeasurable Equation.” Here is an excerpt from the latter:

Music akin to thought . . . . . . . .
Imagination . . . !
With wings unhampered,
Unafraid . . . . . . .
Soaring like a bird
Through the threads and fringes of today
Straight to the heart of tomorrow.
Music rushing forth like a fiery wall
Loosening the chains that bind.
Ennobling the mind
With all the many greater dimensions
of a living tomorrow.

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Heroics & Dentistry

Former Maracle Industrial Finishing on Commercial Street in Rochester NY with Q
Former Maracle Industrial Finishing on Commercial Street in Rochester NY with Q

My family moved out to Webster when I was in fifth grade We lived in a new development, on the edge of the village, in a former corn field. Main Street, at the intersection of North and South Avenues was like the town in a old western. The Webster Hotel, Bowman’s Variety, a gas station and Warren’s Hardware sat at the four corners. Warren would close shop and direct traffic in the middle of the four corners when the firehouse siren sounded, part of a volunteer force. Our school, Holy Trinity, was within walking distance. Andy Finn’s father owned the Texaco station in town. Bobby Gray’s (another schoolmate) father started Bill Gray’s.

I made friends with an older kid, a baseball nut like me, named Marty. He was a Christian Scientist. He told me he had never been to a doctor and his mom had given birth to him and his brother in their house. A religion based on a conspiracy theory. When his family moved he gave me his delivery route. Flush with paper route money I would ride down to Bowman’s, on a good day I could go the whole way with no hands, and buy baseball cards and candy. I tried to limit myself to five, 5 cent candy bars. Whether it was all that candy and the bubble gum in each pack of cards or just bad genes I’ve had a lot of cavities.

After dropping out of college I moved back home and went to a new dentist in town, near where the old post office was on North Avenue. I went out with his receptionist for a while. The dentist’s son went into practice himself and I still see him today. I think he’s great but he told me he is vaccine hesitant. Doesn’t trust the messenger RNA. He determined that I needed a root canal and sent me to an Endodontics specialist. That doctor was unable to save my tooth. When I asked, “Isn’t there anything you can do” he told me “Heroics and dentistry don’t mix.” I now have an appointment to have the tooth extracted by an oral surgeon. Maybe I shouldn’t have said no to some of the regular X-rays that were offered by my hygienist. I’ve had so many I am x-ray hesitent.

I stayed in Webster for one year before moving back to Bloomington and hooking up with Peggi. I worked at the place in the picture above, Maracle Industrial Finishing on Commercial Street in the village. They finished gun stocks for Crossman Arms and they repainted Xerox copy machines which at that time were as big as a washer and dryer together. Maracle was busted in 2013 for discharging untreated process wastewater directly to the sewer. On my way back from the dentist I drove down Commercial Street for old times sake and spotted this big Q in the widow along with a picture of Cuomo.

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Beautiful But Cruel

Cherry trees along Log Cabin Road under April 21st snow
Cherry trees along Log Cabin Road under April 21st snow

I always remind Peggi that it snowed on my late April birthday, the year I got a new baseball bat. Rochester has it in her. It was beautiful this morning, the moisture of multicolored blossoms and green in snow and then we got to Log Cabin Road where the row of cherry trees, all in full bloom, were weighted down by the wet snow. Some of their biggest branches were split down the middle under the weight. We spent the next half hour shaking the branches and watching them spring upward.

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