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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Ray Tierney in front of his first store 312 North Street in Rochester, New York  1906
Ray Tierney in front of his first store 312 North Street in Rochester, New York 1906

Damn, did I go down a rabbit hole with these old photos of my grandfather’s stores. He had three stores starting with this one at 312 North Street, right where Hudson Avenue splits off. “The first blazer from Main Street corner,” as my grandfather describes it in his memoir. He opened a much larger store in 1935 at 634 South Avenue.

Before my father died he made one of his infamous charts plotting the Tierney Markets timeline against Harts Grocery and Wegmans and he showed the second store at “639” South Avenue which would have put it across Hickory Street on the wrong side of South Avenue. Peggi used her Newspapers.com subscription to track down a front page story about the 1939 fire which forced my grandfather to move to his final location, 999 South Clinton. I mention the discrepancy because I am finding out how easy it is to make a leap based on someone else’s hunch or typo. Some of the dates on the original photos have question marks next to them. I made a few leaps myself in identifying the photos on my Tierney Markets page.

My mom’s cousin brought some photos to a family reunion years ago and I scanned them. Her photos all had identifications on them. My father left all these old family photos on his computer and I’m still sorting those out. I had list of questions for my aunt, the youngest daughter of the man pictured above, but I found out last night that she had been taken to the hospital with Pneumonia. She will be tested for Coronavirus.

After I rounded up my Bloomington photos, a few weeks back, I sent the link to our old friends. Joe emailed back that if he had all those old photos he would wallow in them. Isn’t that what old people do? I think might have to do with how fast time moves as we get older. Too fast for you to savor the moment.

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Fun Stuff

Downtown Indianapolis 1973
Downtown Indianapolis 1973

Can’t remember why I was in Indianapolis in 1973. I had a few friends who lived there, Kim, Laurice and Jeff, and I visited all of them at some point. Bloomington was about sixty miles to the south and we hardly ever left. I know I saw Hendrix here but that was 1969. As I remember there was a building behind me with mirrored glass and the reflection lit this whole area. I found this photo on my hard dive, one of the last ones to filed away in a folder called “Fun Stuff”. When it comes to files on my computer I am one organized son-of-a-bitch.

I created a page today for my ongoing notebook project. I’ve only posted one of the eighteen I’ve finished. The book format doesn’t work so well on the phone but I’m happy with the way it looks on the desktop. Maybe that will be my next pandemic project.

I took another photo that day in Indianapolis and I used it for the cover of Margaret Explosion’s “Off The Corner.”

"Off The Corner" by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre Café on 11.13.13. Peggi Fournier - sax, Ken Frank - bass, Jack Schaefer - bass clarinet, Bob Martin - guitar, Paul Dodd - drums.
“Off The Corner” by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre Café on 11.13.13. Peggi Fournier – sax, Ken Frank – bass, Jack Schaefer – bass clarinet, Bob Martin – guitar, Paul Dodd – drums.

Listen to “On The Corner”

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Pandemic To Do

Bench in Duran Eastman overlooking Lake Ontario
Bench in Duran Eastman overlooking Lake Ontario

We wore masks today, the ones Peggi made. They match. And we timed our walk to avoid the forecasted rain but then realized we would have been better off to wait and walk during the rain. The park is almost getting too crowded to be safe. Many of the seldom used paths are clogged with people and their dogs. 

My pandemic job jar is full with projects, the biggest of which I am knee deep in – organizing my computer and back up discs. I thought my father was bad. I have turned out to be much worse.

Our days are all dreamlike with long walks and long conversations with friends and relatives in far off places. We learned that Eric Goulden has tested positive. So far his wife, Amy, is a negative. And at 1pm Pacific time we had a Zoom meeting with three parties. Peggi’s sister in LA, our nephew in northern California. and our nephew Miami whose new restaurant was going great guns until this. I just can’t imagine that stress.

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Timber Profile

Tree sculpture on Log Cabin Road in Rochester, New York
Tree sculpture on Log Cabin Road in Rochester, New York

I am really impressed by the effort the park people put in on this fallen tree. They had cleaned up all the branches by the time we come across it. The stump is off to the right and from the sawdust evidence it mast have been laying across the road. This portion of Log Cabin Road is closed to car traffic all year so the situation allowed the park tree surgeons leave this upside down, organic, three pronged sculpture in the middle of the road. What amazes me is forethought that surely went into cutting the angles on those three big limbs. This thing is firmly planted. We took turns walking through the gateways.

Peggi was’t much help when I brought the first load of wood up from the fallen oak down below, the one they had to take down because the power line had singed it. But the next day our friend Steve, helped. He was staying with us and didn’t have the proper footwear or gloves for working outside so I offered him some mine. He asked if I was aware of the term, “LumberSexual.” I wasn’t but he joked that I could take a photo of him for his “Timber” profile. We got two car loads of wood up to the wood pile and we’ll let it sit there until Peggi gets her cast off.

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The Other Side

Paul Dodd taking the 1970 Census in Bloomington, Indiana.
Paul Dodd taking the 1970 Census in Bloomington, Indiana.

That’s my dog, Andy, sniffing the 1970 Census forms that I was responsible for filling out. It was one of the many part-time jobs I had in Bloomington, Indiana where I went to school for a couple of years. I’d go door to door, trying to catch the homeowner at home so I could ask him three or four pages of questions. Not everyone was cooperative. I’m guessing the Census taking process is all digital now. I wouldn’t want to be going door to door in this climate.

Wednesday was Margaret Explosion’s last gig at the Little for a while. They closed their doors at 5PM today and promised to make the dates up when we get to the other side of this contagion. The “Broken Wrist Series” went out with a bag. Mark Bradley and Roy Marshall sat in with us the first week and Jack Schaefer sat in with us last week. Peggi’s cast comes off a week from Wednesday and we’ll start doing Margaret Explosion gigs from home.

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Continuous Use

Our Lady of Bouckaert Street
Our Lady of Bouckaert Street

We walked over to Home Depot to get a new toilet seat. You know how you look at something many times a day and then one day you see it. You notice how discolored it had become. We got one that drops in slow motion. Both the seat and the cover. We paid a few extra dollars for that feature.

While we were there we wandered over to the lighting department. One of the four foot fluorescents in our garage started smoking the last time i was out there an I wanted to see what kind of shop lights they had on the market now. I bought the old fluorescents out at Hechinger’s back in the seventies and put them on a timer over some pot plants in our basement. I was surprised how easy it was to grow and wound up with a pretty good stash but I got too paranoid and put the lights out in the garage. Home Depot had a four foot, bright as hell, LED light for 25 bucks. Lasts up to thirty five years of continuous use. I brought that home too.

"Hula" by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre Café on 03.20.19. Peggi Fournier - sax, Ken Frank - bass, Phil Marshall - guitar, Paul Dodd - drums.
“Hula” by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre Café on 03.20.19. Peggi Fournier – sax, Ken Frank – bass, Phil Marshall – guitar, Paul Dodd – drums.
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X Ray Specs

Brick wall at Trata in Culver Road Armory
Brick wall at Trata in Culver Road Armory

The technician took Peggi back for more X Rays while I sat in the office with her purse. Her left wrist has been in a cast for a week now and she still had not seen the Orthopaedic Surgeon. She mentioned that her right wrist was also sore so they X-rayed that as well. I could hear the doctor in the next room talking to another person about the coronavirus. “It is gonna get out. It is impossible to control. But 30,000,000 million Americans have had the flu. 10,000 have died of the flu. I had a flu shot and I had the flu last week.” It was a little disconcerting.

Peggi came back and then the doctor came in with some good news. He determined her left wrist would not need surgery and he expected it to heal up fine in another five weeks. He told her she had chipped a piece off the bone in her right wrist and that it too would heal in time. Peggi then got right down to business. “Can I play my saxophone?” He recommended she take it easy for a few weeks. Margaret Explosion is back at the Little for a month of Wednesdays in March.


Last Ski

Long concrete block barn and silo near village of Scottsville
Long concrete block barn and silo near village of Scottsville

Last Sunday we met our friends, Jeff and MaryKaye, out at their house on the river. We went skiing along a trail maintained by the Genesee Land Trust near the old canal bed. There were just enough obstacles to make it a real adventure. And there was the added drama of not knowing whether the trail would would end somewhere near where we started. It was great but that was our last ski this year. I’ll explain.

This winter is crapping out so the snow melts in the day and then freezes at night. Our road, which was supposedly “dedicated” by the town couple of years ago, gets plowed but they don’t drop salt on it. And we see the plow a lot less often than most neighborhoods. The frozen ruts from the car tires make the road treacherous on foot. That’s where Yaktrax come in, those wound metal coil things that you strap over your shoes. They work great.

But once we get off our street the roads are spotless. On Wednesday I didn’t even wear mine but Peggi did. When we got out on the clear road I thought to suggest Peggi take hers off. I should have done more that thought because one of her Yaktrax rode up on her show and the Yaktrax on the other shoe caught that one. Peggi went down fast. I just put away our ski boots for the season. Peggi has a cast on her broken wrist.


Geek Squad

View from hallway in front of Nancy Valle's Studio in the Anderson Arts Building, Rochester, New York
View from hallway in front of Nancy Valle’s Studio in the Anderson Arts Building, Rochester, New York

Nancy Valle contacted me to let me know the digital slideshow I put in the Sounds & Sights show had stopped running. She was out of town for a week and someone unplugged the computer after the Thursday night figure drawing class. We stopped up there to address that problem and I took this shot.

We spent a good part of the week helping friends with a variety of computer problems. Jeff’s MacBook Pro was dropped. The track pad is cracked and unusable but he has his whole iTunes library on the laptop. We spent some time learning how to navigate sans mouse but couldn’t figure out how you click on stuff without one. Return/Enter didn’t do it. We suggested he take it in.

Steve Black, our house guest, has an iPad that is completely full of photos and movies, so full he can’t do anything with it. We air dropped a bunch of his movies to one of our computers and put them on a flash drive.

Duane in Brooklyn had HomePod reception issues that we tried to help him with. But we left him hanging with the mysterious events that keep showing up in his Calendar app.

The toughest problem was our neighbors’. Sue had reduced a couple of overstuffed filing cabinets in her basement to digitized folders of scans, iPhone photos and text files which she tucked away in Apple’s Notes application. At some point the 3,884 folders of notes, which are sorted by title by default, went out of order. They went random on the phone but they were still in order on her iMac. They were in order on the cloud as well but there was no why to get them organized on the phone. We called Apple Support for this one and they couldn’t help. They suggested we fill out a request at Apple.com/feedback.

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Young And Innocent

Paul, Ann and John standing on foundation of our new home on Hawley Drive in Webstaret, NY
Paul, Ann and John standing on foundation of our new home on Hawley Drive in Webster, NY

I came across this photo while looking for another file. It’s one of the old family slides that my sister, Amy, picked out to have scanned to share. My sister, Ann, brother John and I are standing on the foundation our new home in Webster so I know I would have been nine years old.

What struck me about the photo is the t-shirt I am wearing. It’s from Camp Stella Maris, the Diocese of Rochester’s summer camp on Conesius Lake, the camp where my cousin was sexually abused by Rev. Albert H. Cason, then a counselor. We were so young and innocent.

And we never imagined that if we told someone about the abuse, like the bishop himself, he would cover it up and let the guy go on to abuse others.


White On White

Small white table and chairs by the street in the snow
Small white table and chairs by the street in the snow

I had something else in mind for today. And I’m sure Peggi did too but the big trucks backing into our neighbor’s driveway while we were still reading the paper signaled a change of plans. Instead of working on my small wood panel paintings we would be collecting wood. The owners of the house across the street were taking down a huge oak, the one that snuggled up to their front door and towered over their house.

We dressed for the weather, mid twenties and just perfect for working outdoors, and Peggi walked down to Jared’s place to see borrow his pickup while I got the wheelbarrow out. She was ringing his doorbell when she noticed the truck was gone. We put a plastic tarp down in our CRV and loaded it it up, four times and then a fifth load for Jared who is still getting over his chemo treatments.

We had a mountain of wood to split and a fire in the fireplace before the sun set.

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Looking Very Strongly

Bridge over Horseshoe Road in Winter.
Bridge over Horseshoe Road in Winter.

We needed to get out early this morning as the sun and warm temperatures were ready to take a toll on the ski paths. We skied out to the lake and down Horseshoe Road, over the bridge (above) and then back up to Hoffman Road before our second cup of coffee. The only other person we saw out there was the guy that zips around like it is a matter of life and death. He doesn’t even look up as he passes.

I had Annie Wells’ version of Phil Marshall’s “Nothing Left To Lose” stuck in my head as we skied. And something Peggi said triggered Trump’s, “I’m looking at it very strongly” quote. That’s now become one of my go-to phrases. There are ski tracks going in every which direction on the golf course. We’ve had five days in row of near perfect conditions with very little new accumulation. It is time for Mother Nature to cleanse the pallet.

"Fe La" by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre Café on 11.20.19. Peggi Fournier - sax, Ken Frank - bass, Phil Marshall - guitar, Bob Martin - guitar, Paul Dodd - drums.
“Fe La” by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre Café on 11.20.19. Peggi Fournier – sax, Ken Frank – bass, Phil Marshall – guitar, Bob Martin – guitar, Paul Dodd – drums.

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Y2K + 20

Red and gray building across the street from Saxon Studio near the Public Market
Red and gray building across the street from Saxon Studio near the Public Market

We walked up to Starbucks a little after noon and the place was busier than we have ever seen it. The baristas were joking that everyone had just woken up. It is a seven mile round trip so it takes some time but every bit of it is beautiful to us. Most of all the spacing out part.

On the way back it started sprinkling and the wind picked up. Then we got an alert, Peggi’s phone and my watch, something like the Amber Alert. “Snow Squall Warning til 2 PM EST. Sudden whiteouts. Icy Roads. Slow down!” It did snow but its winter.

Twenty years ago Pete LaBonne, who sometimes came to our New Year’s party, sent us a song of his to play at midnight 1999. We did, right after Prince’s song. “Shut down your computer now baby.”

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Hairdresser near Abilene in downtown Rochester, New York
Hairdresser near Abilene in downtown Rochester, New York

Our Netflix dvd, Jean Renoir’s “The Rules of the Game,” has been kicking’ around the house for weeks now. We tried it one night but feel asleep. You need to be fully rested for this 1939 classic. It plays like a non stop dance with the actors and camera swirling about in a witty, fluid, fast paced, stunning display of moving pictures. Jean Renoir stars and he is as good an actor as he is a director. The dialog skewers the Bourgeois as well as Buñuel’s “Discreet Charm” and despite being eighty years old it feels completely contemporary.

We shop at the co-op once a month with our 10% member’s discount and we almost ran out of days this month to take advantage. We parked in their lot and walked over to Park Avenue looking for a cup of coffee. We stopped in to see my sister at Parkleigh but she had the day off. She was living there in the run-up to Christmas.

We had to get out early today in order to beat the rain. We walked through the Park and along the lake. We turned up Horseshoe Road and walked around the clubhouse, across the golf course and up Hoffman Road. We were temporarily perambulating and then we headed home.

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