Today, if you are college bound and planning to live in the dorms, you provide the school with information about yourself that pretty much guarantees your roommate will share your interests. I feel lucky that some fifty years ago this decision was left to chance. There is so much more out there. As a freshman I arrived in Bloomington three days before my roommate. The name “Hoy” was on the door and in my first call home I told my mom, “I think my roommate is Asian.”
Steve was already a junior and he had this college thing down. I helped him unload his car, a white Barracuda with an eight track player and Led Zeplyn’s first. Our room had two desks and Steve asked if it would be ok to put one of his huge stereo speakers on my desk. The rest was academically downhill for me. My intentions, to turn a new leaf and apply myself, went out the window. But my priorities were set straight.
When we left the dorms we moved into a small, coal fueled house in town. Steve wrote a paper for me, a creative writing assignment, and chose a Sci-Fi theme. Entitled “The Fourth Dimension,” I got an “A” on it with a note from the professor that read “Very nice Mr. Dodd.” It was the best mark I got in that class.” The landlord kept the deposit because he said we had “painted the rooms hippie colors.” Who wouldn’t want a black ceiling?
Later we lived into a trailer near the Monon Railroad tracks. Steve bought a guitar and I had my drums in the back room. The Chinaboise were born. Steve was our spiritual leader but Rich was the real leader. The band merged with MX-80 and moved to the Bay Area. Steve was the best man at our wedding. Peggi and I met him in New Orleans in 1980 and drove to San Francisco in his pickup. We slept in the back of the truck. Peggi brought her sax along and rehearsed Hi-Techs songs on the way. We stopped in the Grand Canyon and Steve crawled out on the ledge (pictured above.) Peggi and I were standing behind the fence while people around were pointing at Steve. “Look at that guy out there!”
Steve is inquisitive and he loves to talk, about anything. He is so much fun to listen to. His Hoosier accent is part of the fun but it is mostly the way he connects the dots. While we were talking to him a few months back Peggi had her phone on speaker and I recorded a snippet of the conversation on my iPad. I played it for Steve when he was up here last week. We laughed.
Yesterday the beach was quiet (above). Today it is packed. We can hear the power boats from our house. Every picnic shelter in the park is full. Sound systems are cranked. Skunky weed is in the air. Groups, clustered by nationality, are picnicking along the lake and the beach itself is crowded. We found ourselves saying excuse me as walked along the shore.
It is already past four and Rick hasn’t asked if we’re going to play horseshoes today. I’m thankful for that. I’ve been carving out files for an upcoming cd. We had hoped to put both an lp and a cd out at the same time, each with different songs. The album has been at the pressing plant for five months and I’m just getting going on finalizing the songs for the cd.
We have a World Cup match to watch, Spain vs Switzerland, so we’re staying away from the news. Our red lights are on. I’m wearing my Spanish jersey. Peggi is making Shrimp Adobo and we’re chilling some Rioja.
We upped our garlic game this year. We planted one hundred cloves last October. We picked the scapes in July, roasted a few batches and made pesto with the rest. Today we picked the heads, one hundred of them. I built a rack in the garage, just two long skinny boards tacked to the rafters and the plants are drying upside down over my table saw.
After recommending it for years we rewatched “August, Osage County” and it was just as good as we remembered it being. Fantastic script, amazing cast, it feels real and maybe that’s why no one has thanked us for the recommendation.
Our friend, Pete, asked us to pick up some paper at Rochester Art Supply – Italian Bristol 100 lb., 14 x17″ sheet by Fabiano. While downtown we stopped at Fuego for a Cortado. Over at Pete’s we found him sitting at his drawing table and acting like he had turned the corner after seventy-three days on the sixth floor of Highland Hospital. Our next stop was Brad Fox’s on Royal View Drive. We had taken his stereo amp to Hi-Fi Lounge last year to have a short addressed. It worked for a while but the short came back, one of those intermittent problems that convince you the problem has been addressed when it starts working again. I would not want to be the technician trying to track that down.
The first boathouses lined The Canandaigua City Pier that was built in 1848. By 1888, over eighty small wooden structures lined the pier. In 1903, the pier was enlarged to accommodate train and trolley tracks to service the steamboats transporting farm produce and passengers along the lake. As cozy as they look today the Boathouse Owners’ Association enforces the strict rules prohibiting people from living in them or using them as cottages. We were in Canandaigua to celebrate our anniversary. We walked up and down Main Street before having dinner in the Lake House and after dinner we explored the pier before driving home.
You can see the smoke filled air in the photo above. The Air Quality Index has improved considerably since yesterday but the Canadian fires are still burning so it will probably be back. Our niece and her boyfriend came up from the NYC area and spent the weekend with us. We were sort of afraid our lifestyle would be too low key for them but it turned out that was just what they were looking for. We took walks around Durand Lake and the beach to the north and then the following day, east down Seneca Road to the bay. If they were here for a third day we could have walked west to the river. We swam in the pool, family stopped by, beer cans piled up and they left for the week’s work.
Pete and Emily were out walking before Peggi and I this morning and they sent us this picture of tires that someone had dumped in the park. The two piles had been cleaned up by the time we got there and we spent some time trying to figure out how they got into the park because the yellow gates are locked at dark. We talked to a dog walker and he speculated that they came in early in the morning just after the park workers opened the gate and before all the park goers arrived. That would make them pretty bold on top of really rude.
In January of 1975 Peggi and I left Bloomington and moved to Rochester, where I grew up. We lived in an apartment in Tim Schapp‘s house on Dartmouth Street. Peggi worked in my uncle‘s supermarket when not working as a substitute teacher. She monitored a study hall in my brother Francis’s class. He had lived with us for a summer in Bloomington because my parent’s were having a hard time with him. I got a carpentry job and mowed lawns for a bunch of the neighbors on Dartmouth. I mowed Mr. Cohen’s lawn next door. You can see his house in the picture above.
I took a photo class at UR and wound up with a lot of black and white shots of mundane stuff around the house, like our laundry in the picture above. Interesting to see the entities we were willing to advertise for. These days I wear plain white Fruit of the Loom t-shirts all summer. I get them in six packs from Amazon.
I’ve decided to show photos instead of paintings at the Little Theatre Café in September. Everybody takes photos and there are probably more photos in the world than at any other time you can think of. So how do you tell a good photo, one you might print large, put in a frame and then hang in a show, from just another? It is not easy.
I’m thinking I’ll choose twenty from the twenty thousand I have in the cloud. I considered the one above because I like it. I like the dramatic lighting, the symmetry in the composition, the factory behind the street front, the two grey boxes on the that gate, the service gate lettering and why is that guy holding a back pack and clean shirt up like that?
I have a sense of what photos other people might like but does that mean I should put those photos in the show?And I have some no brainers. Should I put them in? And then how will my group of twenty hold up thematically? It’s a lot to think about.
Peggi’s reading Chris Frantz’s book about his time with the Talking Heads. She was telling me about an issue with songwriting credits for an early song of theirs. I went to look at how it was settled on their lp and found that we don’t have any Talking Heads albums anymore. Kept the singles of course. I loved their first single when they were still a trio and we saw them at the Village Gate before their lp came out. But I found I liked them less with each record.
We spent the last few days taking care of a friend with some health issues and then today we spent a good bit of the afternoon in the hospital with our friend Pete and I feel I get more out of helping them than they get from me. I’ve fallen behind with all my usual activities but they don’t seem so important at the moment.
We’ve had salad greens coming out our ears for over a month now. I packaged up a few bags for friends from this batch. We put our Pimiento de Padrón pepper seedings in this morning. We had to kill the first batch we grew from seeds after we learned the tomato seeds that were sprouting next to the peppers were contaminated with a virus. We bought tomato plants to make up for the lost batch but with the pepper plants we decided to start over. The peppers get too hot when they’re big so we’re counting on getting a good batch of small peppers before the snow flies again.
We FaceTimed with Duane this evening and he spotted the camera on my iPad following me around as I got up to do the dishes. The iPad was propped up against a candle and the lens is certainly not moving. We decided it must an AI feature selectively deciding how to zoom and crop the moving subject.
I’m looking forward to the Personal Voice feature that will be incorporated in the new OS. The idea is that you spend 15 minutes reading text prompts aloud to your iPhone or iPad, which will then use this audio data and machine learning to create a digital voice that matches your own. Then, if speech becomes impossible in the future for whatever reason, you will be able to use the Live Speech function to make calls and send messages in a voice similar to your own.
Apple assures us the data will be kept private and secure to prevent the possibility of audio impersonation. Ha.
It might as well be summer. It hasn’t rained in weeks. Our garden has been especially dry, many of our seeds never germinated. And wild fires, raging to the north in Quebec, have bathed our skies in a warm, smoke filled glow.
On our way to the beach we ran into Greg Prevost and Miss Carol, walking in the park. I asked about his book and he said it was sold out. He told me I was in it, along with everything else, and that I might still be able to get a copy at the HOG. They were concerned about the smoke and decided to turn around. We continued on.
Try as we may to hang onto spring, May is behind us and we are already surrounded by the sounds of summer. From our house we can hear the motor boats on Lake Ontario to the north as well as the motorcycles on Kings Highway to the west. If we try we can hear the dull roar of tires on the Bay bridge to our east but that is louder in the winter when the trees are bare. We sleep with the windows open so besides the coyotes, we hear the sirens south of the Ridge.
A neighbor down in the valley called the cops on his neighbor because her gas powered leaf blower was too loud. She is a really sweet lady, I wish the guy had just tried to work it out with her. They are incredibly loud, and illegal in California because of the pollution, but my beef is the start/stop action. When it’s roaring, you eventually tune it out. Each time it stops you think, ahh, that’s it, and then it starts up again. The final matches of La Liga season are set to unfold tomorrow, most of them set to kickoff at the same time to cut down on the funny business. I will miss it, of course, but it will free up a considerable amount of time.
We have been eating an assortment of lettuces from our garden for the last week. The street pool is open and the solar cover has been especially productive so the water is warm. I’ve played horseshoes with my neighbor five times (and won four). I can boast because he manages a narrow edge on me most years. That is a welcome sound, the clang of the shoes when they hit each other or better yet the stake.
Peggi sang in a choir for a few years and one of their performances was inside Saint Stanislaus on Hudson Avenue. The church was the epicenter of the Polish section of the city at one time. I don’t know how active the parish is anymore but the magnificent building is still standing. The clocks have stopped working, I can tell you that. Our Holy Trinity grade school basketball team played St. Stan’s back in the day and they were a formidable opponent.
We spent most of the day on the hillside out back pulling garlic mustard, wisteria and barberry bushes, a threesome of invasives. We each had a big bag to put the stuff in and I was carrying a shovel. The wisteria roots go way down and they often connect to underground runners. We thought we rid our property of wisteria years ago but it keeps coming back.
The barberry is just plain nasty. They sell it at garden stores and it’s labeled “Invasive” but people plant it anyway. It’s covered with prickers and you have to remove the entire root system. If any is left in the soil, it will re-sprout. Barberry has denser foliage than most native species so the plants retain higher humidity levels which ticks love. Invasives love invasives.
The garlic mustard comes up easy, roots and all. If you miss one plant though you’ll have a patch of it next year. Shelley and Pete cook with it.
We have so many beautiful wildflowers this time of year and the invasives are just as pretty but once you know they don’t play nice, there is no going back. I’d like to think the next caretakers of our property will keep this fight up but I have my doubts.
I am reminded again of why I like winter so much. The warm weather months are too full of activities (tasks that sat in the job jar all winter) and there is no time left to check in here or think about art projects or read a book.
The garden is going great guns. The direct seed lettuces, spinach, carrots, chard, cilantro and arugula all require daily doses of water. We had a setback with the plants we started indoors and had to toss all our little tomatoes and pepper plants after the seed company contacted us to say one tomato seed variety, one that we were trying for the first time, was infected with a virus. Luckily, it didn’t affect the kale or collards. We bought more tomato and pepper plants at Cases, ones that were bigger than the plants we threw away, but they didn’t have any Padrón pepper plants. Kathy gave us some elephant ear plants a few years back and each year I dig the bulbs out the basement and replant them.
Rick and I opened the horseshoe season. I won the first round 21-1 but Rick quickly found his groove and beat me the second. We had to settle things in a third round and I barely squeaked by. La Liga is not finished. We have three matches to watch this weekend. And our neighborhood group is opening the pool this week so I spent most of the day vacuuming the bottom.
I’m so tired at night I can’t even stay awake for an old Hawaii Five-0 episode. Oddly, I found Igmar Bergman’s “Winter Light” riveting. That will be one of our last red envelopes before Netflix closes their dvd arm.
Things are so green now I can barely see the neighbor’s house. I can see the cardinals’ nest in the small tree not more than ten feet from my desktop. It really attracts my attention when the male lights on it. It wouldn’t be this green if we hadn’t had all this rain. We put lettuce, spinach, carrots and cilantro in and we haven’t even had to water yet.
They say the season you were born in is most often your favorite. I can attest to that maxim. April 28 is still early spring so I can remember some brisk walks, some warm sunny days and my tenth birthday when I got a new baseball bat but there was still snow on the ground.
I have a few photos of our neighbor, Jared, in the wet suit, the waders that come up to your crotch and the yellow gloves that fit over your elbows. He looks like the frog man. Today Peggi took a photo of me in the gear. The filter in his pond was clogged and Jared needed help getting it out. The bottom surface of the pond is lined with rubber and it slopes toward the center so it is as slippery as can be. Jared has fallen in a few times. He told me the trick was to get all four limbs planted. I kept trying to grab one of the fish but they are too quick.
Our neighbor Rick went to the House of Guitars on Record Store Day and he bought me a record for my birthday, a live Nico album from 1980. Eleven of the thirteen songs were written by Nico and the other two, the ones that put her on the map, were written by Lou Reed. The first song was brand new at the time. The performance is majestic. We were so surprised to hear her in such good form, a completely timeless, singular voice. She is backed by uncredited musicians, a keyboard player, a percussionist and a drummer and they contribute to the dark mood with the gentlest touch until the last song, “Femme Fatale,” where they overstep their bounds and rearrange the song only to sabotage it.
Rick is covering for Scott Regan’s radio show this week and he asked me if I had a Ron Carter album. Apparently it will be Carter’s birthday that day. Damn if I didn’t still have a copy of Eric Dolphy and Ron Carter’s “Magic.”
We sold most of our records years ago. We hung on to the 45s and a few stacks of lps and cds and we subscribe to a streaming service but that new Nico vinyl is precious. So is the new Nod cd, “Fly, Fly, Fly.” Even though they’re a local band I bought the cd by mail from their Bandcamp site. I think that means they get more the proceeds than they would if I bought it in a store. The trio’s new music reads more like an internal dialog than a guitar, bass, drums performance. Joe plays clarinet as well as guitar and both he and Tim play keyboards on the disc. Brian’s drums sound gentle. I can’t believe I just said that. When I ripped the cd the database loaded the wrong and hideous cover. The real artwork is by Chris Schepp and it makes for a must have physical package. The seven songs are short but if you loop it you won’t even notice.
One of the advantages of taking photos with a camera is not being able to scroll through them immediately like you would with a phone. It takes me days to get the Raw images off my card into PS Elements and into the Photos app. And in that time I get to relive my trip.
We arrived at Duane’s apartment in Brooklyn on a beautiful blue day with no agenda. Peggi had spotted an article on the way down entitled “100 best restaurants in NYC,” a listing that included moderately priced places, not just high end joints. We picked one in Williamsburg and Duane suggested taking the train from his place into lower Manhattan and then walking across the Williamsburg Bridge back into Brooklyn. We walked for miles around Williamsburg, by Duane’s old place and restaurants we ate at back in the day, all now just figments of our memories. We walked along the waterfront and finished at Number 39 on the list. We shared two incredible appetizers – baby artichokes (grilled and sauced with mint salsa verde) and marinated leeks (dressed with anchovies and pistachios) and a bowl of pasta.
The trail along Durand Lake was especially beautiful this morning. We scared a beaver and didn’t see another soul in the park. Maybe because they were forecasting thunderstorms and the sky was already rumbling. We watched a swan glide across the lake without creating a ripple. Durand Lake drains into Lake Ontario, just beyond Lakeshore Boulevard, and there were more white caps on the big lake than we had seen in awhile. It is just a few inches above its longterm average but the waves made the beach impassible.
The Magnolia blossoms are just getting ready to pop. The wooly buds are starting to shed their outer skins and bright white is just below the surface. The Park people had put a new bench in, overlooking the Magnolias and it didn’t look level to us. Peggi used the level app on her phone and confirmed that it was.
You know how you have habits, activities and hobbies and then one day discover you have let them go? I used to have a Funky Signs section on the Refrigerator. I moved it to PopWars but I have not added a new one in quite a while.
Johnny used to contribute. Anne Havens sent us a bunch. Our friends, Pete and Shelley, are still on the lookout and they sent us this beauty the other day. See FUNKY SIGNS.
We walk through the park and along the beach most days and prefer it when we have it all to ourselves. But then I love seeing the picnic shelters full on a hot summer day. We’re certainly not the only regular walkers so we see familiar faces and say hi as we pass. Most of the dog walkers are as friendly as can be, especially if you pet their dog, but once you have been bit a few times you get shy so we mostly keep our distance. A subset of the dog walkers ignore the “Dogs Must Be Leashed” signs and let their dogs take a dump wherever it likes while they talk on the phone. They are special and the rules do not apply to them or their dog. When their off-leash dogs come at us we call for their owners put them on a leash.
Today’s paper had an article about a small dog that was attacked and killed by another dog in Durand Eastman. The dogs were off leash. Someone called the cops while the attack was going on and the police responded and fired a shot at the larger dog when it ran toward them but they missed.
Just for the record, we’ve had dogs. We love dogs, especially Arya across the street. I wish it wasn’t up to us to enforce the “Dogs Must Be Leashed” rule.