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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We spent too much time talking about health issues while zoom visiting with our friends on the west coast. I am probably to blame for the deep dive because I’ve been asking friends about dental implants. I cracked the root of a tooth, part of a bridge and that started a chain reaction. One tooth needs a root canal and I’m in the early stage of a bone graft for an implant.
Our friend, Duane, in his early NYC commercial days, shot a video of an implant procedure. And Rich, ever so helpful, sent me a link to a video he made about getting a root canal.
Give it up for the magnolias in the Slavin Collection on Zoo Road. The Snowy white variety is first, followed by the pink and then the dark red and yellow varieties. They look good on rainy days and stunning against a blue sky. The petals even look good on the ground.
We walked our neighbor’s dog, the Notorious Mr. BigZ, this morning. He’s usually in the front yard when we come back from our walks and we’ve gotten in the habit of stopping by to play with him. He wears a collar that conducts a charge when he gets close to the invisible fence. The fence may be invisible, the wire is buried, but little white flags mark his perimeter. And it’s the flags that he’s afraid of so even without his collar on we had to pick him up and escort him over the boundary.
He’s a pug of some sort and we were uncertain whether he would be able to keep up. But by the time we got around the corner he was pulling us along and we clocked 5.4 miles. We took him up to the magnolias and down to the beach where he checked out every single object in the the sand.
He’s built low to the ground. Compact in the front, like maybe an ancestor ran straight into a wall, and he’s tightly packaged in the rear. His short tail coils against his body. I noticed that his back legs seem to want move faster than his front ones. Walking behind him I got the feeling that his backside was trying to pass his front on his right. He knew right where his home was.
We took a chance and cut up Horseshoe Road from the lake. We had a hunch that enough snow had melted (or evaporated) to allow us to walk across the golf course. In other seasons we take the trails in the woods that surround the rough. Today we followed the creek that runs down the middle of the fairways and and to my surprise we spotted a number of golf balls in it. I figured the water had to be warmer than the air (21 degrees) so I straddled the creek, rolled up my sleeves and stuck my arms in to pull six out of the mud. My wrists and hands were frozen. I left a few balls there for the next guy. I couldn’t even turn the key when we got back home.
Some friends of ours subscribe to the Criterion Channel and love it. It sounds so tempting. We have Netflix and a cable package that includes La Liga. Friends on the west coast have raved about “Painting With John” on HBO. And a friend on the east coast thinks we would like the dark comedy, Barry, on HBO and the mini-series “Olive Kitteridge” with Frances McDormand. So we added HBO to our arsenal. We’ve already binged our way through “Painting with John” and loved it. This really is the perfect pandemic show. It’s like zooming with a good friend and listening to his favorite stories, ones you know he has told a few times and some you have heard before. The music, his music, is great and I love his paintings!
We can see the sidewalks again. We wore our regular walking shoes, not the ones with the Stable-Icers strapped to the bottoms, and we used something other than our X-country ski muscles.
I had a hunch the winter aconites would be poking their yellow flower buds out of the snow so we took a peek at the hill out back. They are! Robins, also a symbol of pleasure, joy, contentment, satisfaction, clarity, rejuvenation, bright future and happiness, were excitedly pecking at red berries that somehow hung to the trees all winter waiting for them to return.
Horseshoe Road has two ends. I guess most roads do but in this case you wind up pretty much where you started. We ski parts of it most days as we work our way from our house to the lake and back. We try to alter the route each time and we’re still finding new routes.
Today we took our skis off and crossed Kings Highway to see if the groomer had possibly cut some trails on the other side. He had and we spent a couple hours over there only seeing one other skier. We stopped on the way back to watch the kids sledding down the big hill. Tiny little girls on round saucers squealing with delight as they slid in circles down the hill and boys running toward the crest of the hill and plopping themselves headfirst on their plastic sleds. They were having more fun than we were.
Can you imagine rolling over and sleeping in the snow? We found evidence of deer sleeping in our yard last night, spots where the snow had been melted to the ground. We were out early this morning, skiing up to the lake and back before our second cup of coffee. It was above freezing but the ski conditions were excellent. And the sky was a wonder. Peggi made a movie. Imagine these white and dark clouds moving left to right (or from the west to the east) at a pretty good clip, our typical weather pattern.
We are practicing for post-pandemic days by entertaining guests around our front yard fire pit. We had Kathy over last night. She showed us pictures of bald eagles in the trees near her home overlooking the bay. Pete and Gloria stopped by tonight. They have already received round one of the vaccine so we felt sort of safe. I showed them my driftwood sculptures. And Pete, whose company, Monacelli Construction, did work at least half of the city, recapped the personal connections he had to the people and places in my grandfather’s world.
My brother and his wife rented a place in Savannah, Georgia for a few weeks. They were working remotely from their home in Montclair NJ and decided they could do it just as easily in a warmer climate. Peggi’s parents moved to Savannah when they retired and I remember how charming the old city is. The photo above reminds me of Savannah but is in fact in downtown Rochester, in the Corn Hill Area.
My father left a lot of unfinished business when he passed. He had been collecting information about his father-in law, my grandfather, Raymond J. Tierney, a butcher who owned a grocery store on North Street for many years before moving it to South Avenue and eventually Clinton Avenue South. Ray also dabbled in real estate by buying and renovating this house in Corn Hill. It was at one time a single family home, built for a lawyer named Byron McAlpine. My grandfather converted it into apartments and named the building “The Wilmot.”
A journalist named Kitty Galbraith interviewed my grandfather and wrote an article about the history of the Wilmot. I recently put that article on the “Tierney Market” page. And I’ve posted two audio files of interviews that WBBF’s Nick Nixon did with with my grandfather, one on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his store and one on the Wilmot building. The page is getting long but you can see and hear the articles and interviews there.
I brought a piece of firewood, a log length of oak that we split and dried out to the garage and put it in the vice grips. I was trying create my own small sculpture, something to compliment the four pieces of driftwood that I had mounted on small pedestals. I chipped away at it, an hour a day, for the last week and came up with something I like.
As I was finishing up Peggi came out to the garage with a cup of Yogi Eygptian Licorice tea. The tea bags have a fortune attached and mine read, “Spread the light; be the lighthouse.”
My sister, Ann, came by last night and we had dinner around a fire out front. She is still working in retail so she fills us in on what it is like in the world, the world as experienced by people who either work out in it or choose to go shopping in a pandemic. We have retreated from both. My sister raved about the breakfast sandwiches at the new Bodega across the street from where she works on Park Avenue.
It was cold, it’s winter, something like 25 when we ate and by the time we called it quits it was 21 degrees. Our fire pit kicks ass. The sky was incredibly clear. I don’t remember ever seeing as many stars in the sky since we moved here. And the sunrise this morning gorgeous.
We had peeked at the weather forecast and settled on today to pay our taxes. The round trip to the dropbox at the town hall is just over five miles. We started by walking toward the lake, across the golf course and up the hill by the clubhouse to Kings Highway where we turned south. There were hardly any cars on the road which was especially nice. It’s windy with no sidewalks and plenty of curves where we hug the guardrails and hold our breath.
We looked longingly at the library. We watched a women walk in. They are open with a capacity of 25 and they’re also doing curbside but I like to browse. We came back along Titus in the full sun. We have not had any significant snow. Winter can’t continue like this. This is Rochester.
Our Christmas tree was a live one and in order to keep it that way we had to get it out of the house and into the ground. We don’t really have a spot for more trees so we planted it near two tall white birch trees. There were three there when we moved in and one has already fallen so we’re thinking the other two will be gone before this three foot Blue Spruce grows up.
We dug the hole last week on a relatively warm day but we needed some peat moss to mix with dirt around the tree, something that would be too heavy to carry back from Aman’s so we drove up there and stopped at Starbucks on the way. We thought it odd that there was no one in the drive-thru but then realized they apparently had a covid outbreak and have temporarily closed their doors.
Christmas rolls in, slowly, for weeks, but when it’s over, it’s over. My brother and his family usually stay at the downtown Hyatt when they’re up here for the holiday but this year, in the middle of pandemic, they rented a place on the lake out near County Line Road where they hosted a family gathering outside around a fire. They told us that one of their neighbors was flying a Confederate flag along with a Blue Lives Matter flag. They were aghast although my sister-in-law didn’t know what the blue striped American flag was. Probably not too many of them in Montclair, New Jersey.
One of my other brothers said he agreed with the whole Blue Lives Matter thing and I said what I thought about that. Pathetic that they can’t even give Blacks that much, that their lives matter. It was a lively discussion, one my brother characterized as an argument.
Funny how people in the same family can have such wildly divergent perceptions. We have a niece whose posts attack Bill and Melinda Gates, who are some kind of saints as far as I can tell, and memes of “Normal People” (picture a generic small grouping of people without masks) versus “Conspiracy Theorists” ( small grouping with masks on). I used to hop on Facebook to promote the band gigs and I was always running into my cousin’s rants about the government taking away our guns. Or another relative badmouthing Greta Thunberg.
We saw the American flags out at the road on way out to my brother’s rental. People used to hang flags on their house or on a pole in the yard but now they put them out by the road, an in-your-face display of patriotism.
I’m hoping the gathering was not a super spreader event. Our friend, Steve, called us on Christmas to tell us his daughter, her husband and Steve’s two grandkids had tested positive. Steve was with them two days before and he sounded hoarse.
We celebrated the solstice in our front yard around a fire with a few friends. Kathy told us about some elephant ear kale that she has been looking at in the miniature neighborhood behind the miniature golf course. That became our destination for today’s walk.
We saw a man sledding with his daughter in what was left of the snow on the hill near the old zoo. And then what we were guessing was a man and his grandson out on the golf course following the stream that runs through it. He was carrying a pole with a little basket on the end of it and a plastic bag. We watched him pull a ball out of the water. We stopped to look at a tree near Tamarack Swamp, one that was hanging onto all of its leaves. There was a tag on the tree identifying it as Quercus Bicolor Swamp White Oak.
We found the kale plants, still thriving in snow and an empty lot nearby where someone is building a new house. The sign out front had a sweet looking picture of the new home, two bedrooms, one bath $139,000.
We watched Real Madrid defeat Eibar last night and slide into second place in the 20 team La Liga, just behind our other favorite team Atlético Madrid. The matches have all been played without crowds but in Eibar, a city of just 27,000 in the Basque Country, two tall apartment buildings tower over the stadium with small groups of fans crowded onto the balconies.
It is kind of a kick to be in the A Section of the New York Times. We found ourselves in the print edition this morning, in the front row (or pew) of this Harold Budd concert at Big Ears in Knoxville, Tennessee 2019. The photo is black and white in today’s paper and cropped as it is above. The online version of the story, Harold Budd’s obituary, has a bigger version of the photo in color.
We hardly knew anything about Mr. Budd but loved his set. We were there to see/hear Joan LaBarbara, Larry Grenadier, Bill Frisell, Meredith Monk, Carla Bley, Jack DeJohnette with Ravi Coltrane, Mary Halvorson and the amazing Art Ensemble of Chicago.
I carried the metal frame of this table home from one of our walks. Not that it was heavier than a load of groceries but it was a little awkward to walk with. The metal was rusty and had previously been painted an army green color. I brought some Ornette Coleman cds out to the garage, where our only CD player is, sanded the frame and painted it Rustoleum black.
Back in 2005 we helped our friends, Pete and Shelley, build their new house in the Adirondacks. It was an opportunity to use the few skills I developed at my first job after school. I fell in love with the rough-cut White Pine wood Pete and Shelley were using and I asked them if they could get us some from the sawmill. They brought us a car load and I have found all sorts of uses for it over the years. I picked out three boards from my stack that were all approximately the same width and cut them to length for the table table top. I tied the boards together with three cross pieces on the bottom side.
Our arugula finally took a hit with last night’s temperatures. It was limp but still green and may bounce back with the upcoming 40 degree days. We picked a big bunch for dinner. Our pandemic garden has been amazing. We are still eating the tomatoes and peppers that we picked before the frost and let ripen in the window. We brought home the last of the romaine and spinach and the the Swiss chard, cilantro and kale and are still standing tall but we’ll finished them off in the next week. In four more months we’ll have seeds coming up for next year.
Aman’s, where we have been doing most of our pandemic shopping, gets their apples from nearby Williamson. We’ve been stuck on Honeycrisp for years. I’m announcing a shift of allegiance. We have switched to Snap Dragons. Meatier, crisper. They make you feel alive.
2020 has been a bountiful year for collecting wood. So much so that when offered oak from a tree our neighbors had trimmed we politely refused. Upper 30s, lower 40s is perfect weather for splitting wood. The temperature is headed up near 50 tomorrow so we’ll take a break and go for a long walk.
Even with an hydraulic wood splitter it is back breaking work. As they say, the wood warms you three times. When you move it, when you split it and when you burn it. My favorite part is stacking, building corners and balancing one piece on top of another so the whole stack stays standing. It’s like a giant art project, a bit like performance art.
Maybe a month ago Frank De Blase told us he was doing a piece for City newspaper on bands of yesterday and he sent sent us a few questions. ” “When was the Hi-Techs/Personal effects formed?” “What do you remember about your first gig” etc. Of course there is no City newspaper anymore. Not since Covid and all the restaurants and bars where people picked up the weekly have closed. But there is a website. And then last week Spevak sent some similar questions. I guess he’s doing a piece for WXXI. (Didn’t XXI buy City?) “How do you explain going from the New Wave of Personal Effects to the ambient jazz of Margaret Explosion? When you close your eyes while listening to Margaret Explosion, what do you see? What’s the most unusual gig Margaret Explosion has played? We’ll see if this one materializes.