Not enough things rust anymore. Rust is beautiful. This guardrail has served it’s purpose for many years and it is now recycling itself. Plastic will be around forever.
I was grabbing some firewood from the porch when I spotted my neighbor, Jared, heading up to the mailbox. I called out to him to save him a trip. “Good luck finding your paper this morning.” None were delivered again. They can’t find a carrier. Jared hollered back, “The paper has gone to shit.”
I picked up my piece from RoCo’s Members Show and we took a walk around downtown. Fuego was closed by the time we got over there but it was warm and sunny so we just wandered. The city center just keeps changing and it is getting better in small ways. The stately buildings are all past their prime but could be saved. The oldest of the funky ones, at Main and Clinton, are begging for a rehab. The converted office and loft space is all nice and the brand new apartments look livable. But why are we still looking at an empty lot where the Manhattan restaurant was? Parcel 5, dead center, is ready for a windstorm. It’s not just the old pictures, it’s the ones in my living memory bank, where the streets were crowded with life that I can’t forget.
We were ready to take a walk and I couldn’t find my black polar fleece jacket. It wasn’t in the closet, the bedroom, the living room. I looked everywhere before settling on one I wear when we chop wood. We took our walk and when we came back I realized I already had the jacket I was looking for on, under the one I had just put on.
For two days I layered a long sleeve t-shirt, a Smart Wool shirt, a cotton sweater, a wool sweater and then the polar fleece jacket I was looking for. I wore my wool hat in the house, I slept with it on. I had chills, a crushing headache, every joint was sore. I felt like someone had beaten the shit of me. And then Peggi tested positive, just in time for her birthday.
We had planned to stay overnight in the Finger Lakes, maybe look for some snow to ski on, but we cancelled those reservations. We took a walk at the beach and could only get halfway out the pier before the ice got too dangerous. We plan to start a fire out back, open a bottle of Spanish wine, cook our meal out there and then watch Real Madrid play. The sunshine is the perfect birthday gift.
One day away from February and we finally got a proper ski in thanks to the lake effect. It was a little sticky in the lowlands but we made it up to the lake.
Of course we listened to Marquee Moon when we heard that Tom Verlaine had died. We had just played it a few months back and we always have the same reaction. This still sounds fresh! The melodic interplay of the two guitars and Billy Ficca’s drumming remains timeless, beyond genre and unlike Tom, it will live forever.
We never really know where our daily walk will take us. Even though we live on a dead end street we have options and often surprises before our loop is closed. The outlet from Durand Lake is always rearranging itself as it cuts through the beach at Durand and for the last few weeks, with all the rain we’ve been getting in lieu of snow, it has cut a pretty deep, quick-running stream in the sand. So we have had to turn around and double back in the same direction there. The lake is about a half foot above its long term January average.
Yesterday, instead of heading out in the morning we waited for the snow to accumulate and then left on skis. We were hesitant to wax our skis first time out. (We got them so slick we had lost control in the past.) The ground still hasn’t frozen so the snow stuck to the bottom our skies, an experience similar to walking in spiked heels. We skied/walked the length of one hole on the golf course. A victory of sorts over this wimpy winter.
The tiny amount of snow we had a few days ago melted and then froze so our driveway is treacherous, but once we got out on the road, the sun had melted the street. We walked through the park and along the beach. I would be happy if the snow holds off until after the holidays. My brother and his family are coming up here from New Jersey and my sister will come over after she gets off work at Parkleigh so we’ll celebrate Christmas Eve and Hanukkah. And then it can snow.
I remember looking for a broadcast of the 1994 World Cup when we came across OJ’s low speed chase. We watched that for an hour or so and I don’t remember if we ever found the match. This World Cup was the best one ever as far as the matches went – so many upsets and tight games that kept us on the edge of our seats. I was having feverish soccer dreams near the end of the tournament so I guess I had my fill. We were thrilled to see Argentina outplay the French for most of the final and we feel lucky to be alive to watch Messi lift the trophy.
Do butterflies have sex in midair? The bottom one was following the top up and down the row of Sue’s Zinnias and unlike the top one it didn’t seem interested in the nectar. I could look up the answer to my question but its more fun to imagine that they do and I don’t want to be disappointed.
We ordered a new iMac for my brother, Fran, and found they were on back order (like everything else). The box arrived yesterday and we took it out to my brother’s place in Webster. He had just returned from a Corvette show in Pennsylvania where he bought a reconditioned panel for the inside of his 1969 Vette. His old Mac was from 2009 and his browser was slow as molasses. We made sure he was backed up to the cloud before we migrated and we discovered he had two Apple IDs so his photos on his old computer were never in sync with the ones on his phone. That took some doing to straighten out.
We took a break and walked over to the community of small cottages near Hedge’s on the lake. While we were gone my brother went out and bought us lunch from a joint down the road and a bag of fresh corn from his favorite roadside stand. Once we had the combined photo libraries on the phone and the new computer we took off. But we didn’t get far. We stopped at a new craft beer place on Lake Road and had an amber ale from Lunkenheimer’s.
Brad called this morning And I almost expected him to tell us his tv had slipped off the wall. We were out there a few days ago and Peggi and I mounted his big tv on a wall in the living room. I brought my stud finder out there but had better luck listening for hollow spots. We got two of the four giant wood screws through the top two holes of the mount and solidly into studs. But then directly below those two screws the studs weren’t lining up so we had to put them in at an angle. We listened to Brad’s message and heard that he dropped his laptop and broke his screen.
Despite the recent rain the lake level is .7 feet below its long term August average. The outlet of Eastman Lake had cut a deep chasm through the beach. We took our shoes off to wade across and it felt great. While we waited for our feet to dry I collected a handful small smooth stones, all the size of coins, and we marveled at how each one was a different color from the next. Exactly how do these well worn stones wind up together on our beach?
We take walks around the woods once the paths close in with the invasive garlic mustard and swallow wort. We had a hunch that those may have died back enough for clear passage but we were just a bit early. We went straight to the shower when we got back to drown the microscopic ticks before they had a chance to bore into our bloodstreams.
We picked our first proper batch of Pimientos de Padrón and watched our first La Liga match of the new season. Atlético beat Getafe won 3-0.
Peggi got an email the other day from an Associate Professor of Geography at SUNY Geneseo. His letter started with “I see that you have observed pawpaw.” Peggi uses the iNaturalist app to identify trees we come across on our walks and he does too so he was able to contact Peggi through the app. He said he had recently published a paper on the distribution of pawpaw and hoped to compare our location with an existing database he has on pawpaw in Western NY.
In his paper he says even though Pawpaw is native to our area it is quite rare in NYS—earning it a threatened-species designation. He says, “Pawpaws produce the largest edible fruit of all native tree species in the United States—each custardy fruit can weigh up to a pound.” The exotic-tasting fruit is described as a mix of banana and mango flavors with a hint of pineapple.
We had forgotten where it was in the park so we followed the coordinates and found it this morning. We saw at least thirty small Pawpaw trees (along with some wild strawberries) growing below the big one. We re-identified it in the app and Peggi sent new pictures to the professor.
Heat impacts productivity. Without air conditioning we spend less time in front of our computers and more time on the screened in porch. We wear less clothing, drink more NA beer, spend more time watering the garden. We take more trips down to the pool and then one more before bed. We fall asleep to the white noise of the fan.
I‘m happy it wasn’t this hot last week for my opening. I wouldn’t have blamed anyone for staying in. On the day after the opening, with my studio walls so empty and white, I was anxious to dive into new projects. Nature had other plans.
In my last post I talked about the first of my two HPER classes at Indiana University. I mentioned that you were required to take two. My first choice was diving and my second was trampoline. Of course you pick things you like and feel you are pretty good at. I’ll have to ask Peggi what her second choice was. I know she took bowling and while in that class she developed a wicked hook and her game fell apart.
By second semester in freshman year my hair was starting to get long. I was headed to Woodstock that year. The teacher was really bothered by my appearance and continually mocked me in front of class. I shrugged it off at first so he continued to escalate his verbal abuse. Instead of just calling me “Pocahontas” he started using all sorts of homophobic slurs. I was as good as anyone in the class so I tried to ride it out but near the end of the course we were doing some really tricky flips and twists and the teacher arranged it so I only had two guys to spot me, two guys who laughed at all the teacher’s jokes and not nearly enough to keep me from cracking my head open if I fell off the trampoline. The guy gave me a ”D minus.” I tried to complain to higher ups but they said there was nothing they could do. Just a tiny taste of what discrimination feels like.
Later that year I was visiting a friend off campus. He wasn’t home so I walked a few blocks and sat on the stone wall that surrounded the IU Law School. A car with someone hanging out the window drove by and he screamed ”faggot.” I flipped him the bird. They came back around the block, the doors swung open and three guys, all wearing blue windbreakers with yellow Greek letters on the front, started swinging at me. I landed a few good punches but quickly got the sense they wanted to kill me. I came to with my face planted in the sidewalk, my glasses smashed, my nose and jaw broken and some ambulance guys standing over me. Another small taste.
We bought a big paella pan a few years ago and we’ve used it five or six times now. Our pan serves 8 and we’ve made the dish for 4, 6 and 8. We prepare the ingredients ahead of time and its a pretty casual way to hang out as the dish cooks slowly over an open fire. We’ve made seafood versions for pescatarians, chicken versions and vegetarian versions. We invited my siblings and they significant others over on Sunday and all but my brother and his wife in New Jersey accepted. That meant 11.
We needed two pans to hold it all and then a third for the vegetarian version. Keeping a slow burning, small fire under three pans at the same time was challenge. One was always too hot or not hot enough but we pulled it off and had a good time.
My mom was sort of ambidextrous, writing with her right hand and batting left. There is a nun over her shoulder in the picture above and I’m guessing they forced her to write with her right hand. They did stuff like that but they made you tough. Gave you something to rebel against.
In her day there would be no question as what school a Catholic girl from the east side would go to. In my day, still an all girls school, the school had a bit of a reputation. Mercy girls were bad, as in desirable. I went to a few dances there. Today I think parents send their daughters there for discipline. And of course they still rebel.
Not sure why we bailed on the Netflix version of the “Warhol Diaries.” I guess I felt they were too personal. But we came back and devoured the remaining episodes, dirty laundry and all. Knowing he wanted them released after his death I can see this gift contributes to the full picture of the Warhol phenomena.
Netflix thought we would like the “Inventing Anna” series and we’re already halfway through those. This morning we watched the real (probably not the most apt descriptor) Anna Sorokin on 60 Minutes from last year. As much as I like the Ozark woman in the role she doesn’t match the richness of the con artist.
We walked in the rain today. Why not? We always see more wildlife in the rain and fewer people. Today we watch a Pileated woodpecker working on a big dead pine tree. He was so engrossed we were able to get up close as he pecked away at big chunks of wood. Peggi took a movie and said she felt like we caught him problem solving.
We usually watch big soccer matches with our neighbor’s, Jedi and Helena. This time we invited Matthew and Louise over to watch tomorrow’s Champions League final but Matthew has to work covering Kamala Harris in Buffalo at a funeral for one of the local shooting victims. We tried Jeff and Mary Kaye but their daughter and grandson, who they see often, have Covid. The more we thought about it the more we realized we would rather watch the big game by ourselves. Full focus.
I’m hoping Real Madrid starts Rodrigo with Benzema and Vinicius up front. And their midfield is as solid as it gets with Madrid, Casemiro and Kroos but I am worried about their defense, especially if Alaba is still injured. Liverpool is a tough opponent. We will have our white lights on for Los Blancos.
Tonight we watch our last La Liga match of the season. We follow Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atlético Madrid and we have watched all of their games this year. That would be 38 matches for each team. There are twenty teams in the league and each team plays the others twice, once home and once away. This is how we’ve stayed close to Spain during Covid. The pregame gives you a feel for each city. The Bicycle Diaries at halftime takes you through the cities on two wheels.
On our return from Boston and we found a whole new generation of weeds in our vegetable garden so we spent the afternoon down there weeding between the rows of lettuce, arugula, cilantro, spinach and mesclun. Our plants are a little too close to one another so I didn’t feel bad about snipping enough greens for tonight’s salad.
We have not left home in a while. We need a good reason to do so and the first leg of the Guston retrospective, ”Now,” is better than good.
Peggi booked an expensive but relatively cheap hotel room near the Boston Common and we put our car in a garage for three days. The clerk behind the check-in desk started upselling us immediately asking if we realized the room was not much bigger than the queen-sized bed and it did not have a view. We did know that, but for forty dollars more a night we have a bigger room on the twelfth floor with a view of the city.
The painting in our room looks better without my glasses but the grey sky cityscape is spectacular..
Ran into Larry again today. This time he was walking two dogs, his (Ernie) and a neighbor’s (Molly.) We couldn’t tell which dog was which until we were right on top of them. Larry told us Molly’s owners, Mike and Monica, were out of town. Coming back from the lake we ran into other neighbors, Jan and Jack, in the park hunting for Morel mushrooms. Jan had a bag full, Jack had not found any as yet. Maybe every neighborhood is like ours, Jan and Jack, Mike, Monica and Molly, Dan and Diana across the street, Peggi and Paul.
Peggi did this oil portrait of me somewhere around 2000. Can’t imagine where my glasses were. Maybe the photo she worked from was taken when I lost my glasses in a big wave on a beach in Spain.
When I replaced my 2013 iMac in 2020 I transferred my files manually and reinstalled the software I use rather than risking migrating old problems onto my new Mac. I didn’t have enough room for my music library or photos on the old machine so I stored them on an external drive. I am forever digitizing my stuff and now I have room for it all in one place, one digital space and then the copy floating in the cloud.
When Peggi and I play in the basement, I won’t call it practicing, we listen to some the live Margaret Explosion songs to pick themes to play with. I put my old computer down there and rigged it so I could connect to the library on the new Mac. I remember having a hard time with that and I must have done something goofy because I apparently set that computer up as an in-home server, a situation that prevented new playlists made on my computer from syncing with my iPad. I called Apple on Friday and a senior advisor named Jessica (do you think they use their real names?) told me, “I got hand it to you, setting a computer up to be a server is not easy.”
She discovered that all the new songs I’ve added to my music library were going to the old computer in the basement. Not only that, every Garage Band file I wrote was getting saved down there too. None of it going to the cloud and no back up.
While helping me she screen-shared with my iPad and desktop and had me restart at one point so I had quit Photoshop. I had the photo above opened and unsaved. While saving she had plenty of time to read the graffiti. She wanted a playlist to add a new song to and suggested my “Su Za!” playlist. Ken Frank, Margaret Explosion’s bass player, records dance tracks under that name. Song titles in there include “Ants in My Pants,” and “Ass Magnet.” She gave me a weekend’s worth of cleanup and said she would call me back on Tuesday.
The last time we heard from Frank, just a few weeks ago, he left a message on our phone that told us he had gone on “a retreat, of sorts, a bad idea,” and he wanted to know if we could pick him up and take him home. He was in Highland Hospital. Now Frank is gone.
Frank Palazolo was the new kid in our junior year of high school but he immediately launched a campaign for school president. He was the only student in my class with a mustache. He put his face on the posters and won. We were in the high school play, “Teahouse of the August Moon.” Frank played Colonel Wainwright to my Captain Fisby. He had a mischievous sense of humor. During dinner at my parents’ house Frank would say things to embarrass me.
Frank worked for an ad agency and wrote a book called “Presentations Unplugged.” He became a sought after speechwriter, writing for top executives at Kodak and Xerox. We helped Frank with his website and videoed him giving a presentation to Christa Construction executives on how to be an effective salesperson. He wowed them and us.
When I was asked to give a talk on my art at the Memorial Art Gallery, Frank insisted I come see him for advice. One thing he told me that I think of all the time was to not thank the organization for inviting you at the beginning of your talk. I remember him saying, “You will never have more of their attention than you will at the opening of your talk. And as soon as you start thanking people they start daydreaming.”
His website, originally set up to market his book, morphed into his blog, “Everyone Is Entitled To My Opinion,” where he gave us his opinion on everything. Peggi and I drove Frank to the last high school reunion. Frank came to most Margaret Explosion shows. He was one of kind and we will miss him.
I use this blog to keep track of things. Unlike my house, it has a search engine. And a jpeg is almost as good as the real thing – certainly takes up a lot less space. I came across this sketch for the mural I did at Mex Restaurant in 1999. It was a challenging space to work with as it started on the wall to the left of the front door and then went up the stairs around a round corner (and wall niche for the Virgin Mary) and continued in on the wall leading into the dining room. I reworked the placement of a few things and chickened out on the sort of intimidating Mexican gang. I was still working on the mural the week before Casey opened so I enlisted both Peggi and my father to bail me out.
We had plenty of good times at Mex, mostly outdoors in their rock patio on Friday evenings. I took this photo the last time we ate there in 2016.