Hot Houses

Garden with buckets for cold weather
Garden with buckets for cold weather

The temperature was near ninety a few days ago. The street pool is open and we’ve been swimming for the last week. And now this.

I remember the big guy at Case’s saying, “Wait until Memorial Day to put your tomatoes in.” But that was the old days. We’ve gone with the 15th for years and when the long range forecast looked especially good we put them in early. It will be 70 on Monday but between now and then they are predicting lows around 43.

We rounded up every pot we could get our hands on to create little tents for the tomato and pepper plants. We started everything from seed and we need to protect these little babies. The basil, lettuce, Swiss chard, arugula, spinach, carrots, beets and mesclun will all be fine. They love this weather but we are walking a fine line with the tomatoes.

Our garden is in our neighbor’s old tennis court. He engineered the four tier electric fence to keep the ground hogs out. And he lets us use his hose to water. We make sure to keep him entertained. After we brought every plastic container we had down he let us borrow his buckets, some flower pots, his recycling containers and his wheelbarrow. Our plants are under each one of them. And there’s a few plants out in the open serving as a control group.

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Counting The Days

Newport Yacht Club on Irondequoit Bay
Newport Yacht Club on Irondequoit Bay

So many funky places to live. We walked down to the bay and found clusters of homes we never noticed before. Places that you can only get to by foot and can only see when the trees are bare. Seneca Road dead ends here at the Newport Yacht Club, thankfully not as fancy as it sounds. Just to the south Titus Avenue winds its way down to the bay. You can see the last of the homes on that street from here but you can only get there by boat. And to the north Point Pleasant goes down a steep hill to a gated community of condos but the road splits off into the forever funky Schnackel Drive and the private access walkway that leads by foot only to at least ten more homes that line the shore. All these neighborhoods are a short walk and each one makes you feel like you’ve left town.

Exactly one year ago today we had two other couples over for dinner. In our house without masks! An event we had arranged at the Little Cafe where Margaret Explosion was playing that Wednesday, the night news broke that Tom Hanks and his wife had Covid. Our house guest, Steve Black, had just left that morning. We went into lockdown the next day. Fast forward in a year that somehow went both fast and slow and we are only one week from being fully vaccinated. That is we had our second jab one week ago.

"Oh Yeah" by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre Café on 11.13.19. Peggi Fournier - sax, Ken Frank - bass, Phil Marshall - guitar, Paul Dodd - drums.
“Oh Yeah” by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre Café on 11.13.19. Peggi Fournier – sax, Ken Frank – bass, Phil Marshall – guitar, Paul Dodd – drums.
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Knowledge Bump

Quonset hut house on Titus Avenue Rochester, New York
Quonset hut house on Titus Avenue Rochester, New York

The funky neighborhood south of Lake Bluff Road in Sea Breeze will surely come up in value some day. Maybe just after we leave, the way the triangle between East Main, Culver and Merchants came up just as we left it. Not that I’d want to live in a neighborhood that has arrived. I’m just noting that it is under appreciated today. And funky. There’s tiny houses with views of the lake, dead end streets surrounded by woods and an anything goes attitude to property management. 

We walk in This neighborhood often. Sometimes we work our way up to the lake on Birch Hill Drive which skirts the edge of the park above Tamarack Swamp. We’ve even found a way to connect the dead end of that street, where you overlook the lake, to the dead end of Lake Bluff. This is Tom Sawyer stuff. 

Yesterday we found a street we had never been down before. Trelawne Drive. It too dead ends at cluster of homes, some of which have a view of the lake. Finding a new street is like the best part of a dream, the part where a whole new scene unfolds and you think, “I’ve got to remember how I got here.” It’s like finding out there is a new album of unreleased Eric Dolphy recordings. I had just read that Thelonious Monk called the swollen protrusion on Dolphy’s forehead his “knowledge bump” so he has been on my mind.

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Corrupto

Corruption graffiti along the Camino de Santiago in España
Corruption graffiti along the Camino de Santiago in España

It is impossible to get away from corruption. It is a good part of what makes the world go ‘round. We found this graffiti under a bridge on one of the last legs of the Camino Portuguese. We did it! We walked from Porto to Santiago. It went too fast.

My watch has the sunrise time in the upper left hand corner and because it automatically adjusted to the Spanish time zone I assumed it was telling us the time of the sunrise here. So we set the alarm for 7 AM to get an early start for the last of our two week walk. Turns out that was sunrise in Rochester. We were up before the coffee shops opened. In fact young people were still partying outside a bar when we left our hotel. The sun, in this western region of Spain does not break the horizon until 9 AM. We walked the first few hours with the aid of the flashlight on Peggi’s phone.

The Cathedral in Santiago is closed for repairs so no Botafumeiro. No problem. We did that last year when finished the Camino Frances. We’ll take a high speed train to Madrid tomorrow.

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Very Dreamy

Gardens at Wynona and Saint Paul Boulevard Landmark Society Tour 2019
Gardens at Winona and Saint Paul Boulevard, Landmark Society Tour 2019

The 1000 foot span of the Veterans Memorial Bridge led to the development of West Irondequoit, an early bedroom community for Kodak Park on the other side of the Genesee River. Gullies run all through Irondequoit, most so deep they remain undeveloped. Left here when the glaciers receded, their wildness is the prime attraction. Many homes have picture windows in the back that look out at them. The original owner of 959 Winona, on the corner of Saint Paul, cultivated his portion of a gully but the gardens were swallowed up by time. In the late seventies, the new occupants of the Neo-Classical home restored the garden and it was a feature of 2019’s Landmark Society Tour.

We picked up our tickets to this year’s event at Saint Mary the Protectress, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church on Saint Paul Boulevard. Cynthia Howk was sitting at the welcoming table and she introduced me to her colleagues as “Leo Dodd’s son.” This is Olga’s church. We were here for the funerals of both her parents and their services, sung in four part harmonies in Ukrainian, were extremely beautiful.

My watch said we walked four miles between houses but even the ones not on the tour showed nicely. The wet weather this Spring has been especially kind to plantings. There was a stately 6000 square foot mansion with dual staircases and two Arts & Crafts style Bungalows with wrap-around porches and a tiny little French Cottage, built in 1927. One house had a Speakeasy style bar in an inner room with no windows, just a wrap around bench, dark wooden paneling and a corner bar with just enough room for one person to stand behind and serve cocktails. The liquor bottles were lit and displayed on glass shelves in front of the mirror backed corner. Very dreamy.

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Push Pull

Leo's two person saw
Leo’s two person saw

We “suited up” (Permethrin-treated tick gear) in yesterday’s fifty degree temperatures and walked through the woods with this two person saw. It belonged to Leo, our former next door neighbor, and it still hangs in his old shed. Monica, the new, proud owner of the shed, let us borrow it. I couldn’t wait to use it.

Peggi and I traded ends a few times and coordinated our strokes to make short work of the big Sassafras that had fallen across our ski path at the very bottom of the biggest hill. We carried the saw all the way to the golf course and cleaned up four of five other blow downs. We’re ready for snow.

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Napkin Rings

Woman painting steeple at Christ Church in Irondequoit
Woman painting steeple at Christ Church in Irondequoit

The brakes on our 2003 Element went funky over the weekend. Not bad enough to reach the calipers but they just started falling apart. I called B&B Auto and they were able to take us in so we left before breakfast, dropped it off and walked back home. We stopped at I-Square for a latte and watched this woman scraping the wooden steeple on the church across from the House of Guitars.

We spotted a handmade sign across the street from the town hall for a “Record Album Sale” so we stopped to check it out. A guy with a black wig was loading a car in the driveway and he seemed bothered that we interested in the sale. He told us to wait a minute while he locked up the dogs and then he led us to a small room with thousands of records. “Everything is a buck” he said and that was the last we saw of him.

The records were in surprisingly good shape, some never played, and there were multiple copies of many. We had a short stack in no time, Nino Roto’s soundtrack to the Godfather, KC and the Sunshine Band, Art Tatum, Stand by Sly and Family Stone and something I had never seen before, Our Memories of Elvis with a picture of Elvis’s father and the Colonel on the front.

A woman was screaming at someone on the phone in another room. It seems her brother wanted her to pick him up and help him take back his empties. When she hung up she came in the small room to ask if we wanted some napkin rings. Peggi said no and then the woman asked if we canned. Peggi said yes, but that was as far as that conversation went. And then she started complaining about foreign people. “They want everything for nothing. Always trying to talk me down. I gotta get rid of this stuff. I’m just gonna give it all away.” She asked Peggi if she could get rid of the words on her tv. She said, “I’m a little hard of hearing but I don’t need the words at the bottom.” She was watching QVC and screaming at one of the contestants.

She got on the phone again and told someone that the guy had met someone on Facebook and he was moving out. She said, “I hope it’s a scam.”

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Cantalouped

End of Sea Breeze Pier in Rochester, New York
End of Sea Breeze Pier in Rochester, New York

Our neighbor, Jared, emailed that he had found gopher holes in the garden. We have a plot in his backyard because we have very little sun in ours. He also informed us that the animal had eaten two of our four Kale plants. We had been picking leaves off them for salads and the damage was not fatal. There is enough of the plants left for them to rally but we had to trap the thing before his next meal. Jared said he had a rotten cantaloupe in his refrigerator, left over from the last time he set the trap, so I cut off a piece. It had black and white mold spots on it but it was still juicy. It worked like a charm and we snagged a young groundhog within hours. I called Animal Control but they had closed for the holidays so fed him apple slices and strawberries until the they came this afternoon. Meanwhile more holes appeared and our neighbor’s broccoli and squash has been pruned. I reloaded the trap and will report back.

We have watched so much soccer in the past few weeks there has been little time for anything else. Except walking, of course, and Andrei Tarkovsky’s “The Sacrifice,” which we watch three times. The 1986 Swedish film is astoundingly beautiful. The long shots and limited cuts draw you in and won’t let you go. Erland Josephson’s character, after renouncing religion, makes a bargain with God, (a common Catholic tactic, one that promises you a vague eternity) if God can stop the impending holocaust of WW3.

Despite a numbing possession rate Spain let Russia beat them overtime with penalty kicks. I intended to wear my my Spain jersey for the match but it was too hot so I went shirtless. And Japan, playing the delicate, quick passing in thick situations type of game that is irresistable just couldn’t hold on to their sixty minute 2-0 lead over Denmark. Mexico, our default home team, took it to Brazil but couldn’t finish. We gave that match our all but we’ll now route for Brazil. Is it just us or is this the best World Cup ever?

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Half Moon

Lights on sidewalk in East Irondequoit
Lights on sidewalk in East Irondequoit

We managed to ski in the park yesterday but had to avoid large green patches where the wind and sun had cleared the snow. The temperature is winter-like but we haven’t had enough snow since that run in December. We may have to travel north to whiter pastures before Spring comes. The half moon in the clear skies over our home was too beautiful for a photo. I submit these holiday lights instead.

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Wanted

Theives attempting to break in to house off Hoffman Road in Rochester, New York
Theives attempting to break in to house off Hoffman Road in Rochester, New York

Burglaries are good for business. Good for the video camera business, the alarm business and presumably profitable for the theives. These kids look like they are about 16 years old. Their images were caught on a newly installed camera which was mounted on a house these kids had already broken into a few weeks ago. There have been seven break-ins or attempted break-ins in our neighborhood in the last three or four weeks and everyone is talking about it or what they can do prevent it. I know some of the neighbors are armed. I don’t really “know” that they are but they have those “Stop the Safe Act” signs in their front yard and I assume that follows.

The young couple across the street just ordered a 3-pack of video surveillance cameras. If something moves over there while they’re out they’ll get an image sent to to their phones. I spotted a Doyle Alarm vehicle on the next street over and the neighbor down the street was talking about installing his own glass break sensor. The local police have really increased their patrols. It will be interesting to see how this all ends.

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No Lie

Local peaches at Aman's Market in Rochester, New York
Local peaches at Aman’s Market in Rochester, New York

My watch can be a little annoying, like when I’m riding my bike and I get a prompt to “work on my stand goal.” But yesterday I went through the express line at Wegman’s where a really young kid with a floppy afro was cashiering and with my wrist in the air I asked if he was familiar with Apple Pay. He said “just point your watch at the keypad” so I did and that was that. I was on my way.

We could hear a drum and bugle corps practicing while we were reading the Sunday paper. The high school is a few miles away but when the breeze is right you can hear the unison snares soaring over the woods. The school is right next to Wegmans so we rode back to the football field where the Buccaneers of Reading Pennsylvania were practicing for the big Labor Day competition at Rhinos Stadium. This is a lot more than snare drums. It’s like a musical marching army.

We had some peaches for dessert the other night and I said something about how good the local ones are and our friend, Jeff, told us a worker at a farm stand near him said “a late frost damaged all the peaches in New York State and if someone tells you they’re local, they’re lying.” Well, Aman’s Market is just down the road from the high school so we stopped in there next. We bought some more peaches and some prune plums. I planned on asking the owner if his peaches were really from Hamlin as the sign says but he wasn’t in. I’m ready to give them the benefit of the doubt. They don’t take Apple Pay though.

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Berenjena a la Andaluza

Tomatoes from the garden
Tomatoes from the garden

How did the eggplant get its name? Maybe the fruit at one time, long before gene splicing, was no bigger that an egg. It is a beautiful plant. The leaves are like giant oak leaves and the flowers are a pretty light purple. And then the fruit is so dramatic and rich looking. I found a simple recipe in a Spanish cookbook that calls for six baby eggplants. I brought three good sized ones up from the garden and cubed them and tossed them with a mortar mixture of cumin, paprika, parsley, garlic and olive oil before baking them on a cookie sheet.

We have a dozen tomatoe plants and each plant has produced at least a dozen tomatoes. Too many to count. We picked a few bags worth and weighed them before making sauce. We had thirty pounds! We threw some of our kale in, a pile of basil and jalapeños from the garden, parsley from our neighbor’s garden, carrots, celery and fifteen or so gloves of garlic. We let it simmer all day and left it on the stove to cool down overnight.

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Ghost Bikes

Cell tower and water tower in Irondequoit, New York
Cell tower and water tower in Irondequoit, New York

When we were young my mom would put us all in the car on days like this and drive us from our home in the city out to the lake. We would go one of two ways, out Culver Road to Durand Eastman Beach or out Lake Avenue to Charlotte Beach. Both routes had markers along the way, things we would look for and then shout about when we saw them. The trip down Lake Avenue was longer so when we spotted the flag flying above the CSX railroad crossing in Charlotte it was really dramatic. The water tower in Sea Breeze would come a little quicker when the destination was Durand. Peggi and I rode our bikes up to Wegmans yesterday and we spotted these guys installing a new cellphone receptor. I’m guessing the town makes more money leasing the space on the water tower to cell phone companies than they do from the sale of water to its residents.

I was reading an article in the morning paper about the custom of chaining a used bike to a light post near where a bicyclist has been killed. The bike is called a “Ghost Bike” and it becomes a shrine to the bicyclist. The one they pictured in the article was for a guy who was run over yesterday by a Black Camaro. The car was driving in the bike lane and the accident was caught on a store’s security camera. The car drove off as if nothing had happened. I was prepared for a car that pulled up to the stop sign on a side street off the road we were on. I had my eye on the woman as she pulled out right in front of me. I was prepared to stop if she did that and sure enough she did. Her radio was turned up loud. Maybe her favorite song.

"When We Were Young" "Contemplation" by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre on 11.20.13. Peggi Fournier - sax, Ken Frank - bass, Bob Martin - guitar, Jack Schaefer - bass clarinet, Paul Dodd - drums.
“When We Were Young” “Contemplation” by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre on 11.20.13. Peggi Fournier – sax, Ken Frank – bass, Bob Martin – guitar, Jack Schaefer – bass clarinet, Paul Dodd – drums.
Listen to Margaret Explosion – When We Were Young
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Dead End

Dead end sign on Wisner Road in Rochester, New York
Dead end sign on Wisner Road in Rochester, New York

Wisner Road used to lead right into the park. This barrier wasn’t here. You could continue through the park on Zoo Road and come out on Lakeshore Boulevard and I’ll bet it was quite a short cut. As it stands, it’s a deadend and you have to drive around the park. A brilliant move on someone’s part because it keeps all that traffic out of the park.

When we moved here we were told this part of the park is a hangout for gay hookups and there has always been plenty of tiny drug bags on the ground, not that those two things go together. It is mostly populated by dog walkers, people who drive to the park and let their dog run free despite the sign that reads, “Dogs Must Be On Leash.” I mention these infractions because the lettering on the sign and the road in front of it reads like someone is upset by something the police did. Probably not the dog walkers.

A fellow named John May wrote a letter to the editor that was published in today’s New York Times, a well written letter in response to the Sunday article about how lies don’t really matter anymore when it comes to politicians. With a name like that I didn’t think it could possibly be the John May in our painting class but when he walked in tonight he was wearing an especially large smile.

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The Big One

Water tank on Sea Breeze Way near Seneca Road in Rochester, New York
Water tank on Sea Breeze Way near Seneca Road in Rochester, New York

Christo and Jeanne-Claude are already starting to dismantle their newest art project, the wrapping of the Seneca Road water tower near the Sea Breeze Water Authority headquarters. You had better hurry on up to the lake to take this dramatic sight in before it is all wrapped up. Each day provides distinctly different views. The top of the tower was partialy unwrapped on Saturday and it looked impossibly blue against the blue skies. Air flow is also a factor as the framework of the structure appears to bend as the sheets billow. The tower is normally fairly quiet as gravity has been harnessed to supply pressure to the residents below but during the installation you’ll be treated to something akin to a white noise soundtrack.

As is usually the case with the Christos, the securing of the permit, the town hall meetings and negotiations with the various neighborhood factions that are opposed to the project are all part of the art piece. In fact a documentary crew has been filming each of these related events.

In this case the town had to vote on the approval of the spending for extra security. The vote passed by a wide margin but because this is Irondequoit an outspoken stickler and member of the opposite party called the town supervisor’s attention to an “T” that wasn’t crossed and the whole town had report to the auditorium of Christ the King to vote on the tax expenditure a second time.

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Bowling And Art

Park View Bowl on Culver Road in Sea Breeze
Park View Bowl on Culver Road in Sea Breeze

Matthew’s company car, a hybrid, lost its charge in Syracuse so our bowling date was cancelled or rather postponed until last night. But the eight lanes at Park View Bowl were all occupied with a women’s league when we got there. The idea contained in the name of a view of the park (Durand Eastman) while you’re bowling is crazy. We had a drink at the bar and I returned Matthew’s “Speaking of Art: Four decades of art in conversation” book. I wanted to show Louise this quote from Nancy Spero, Leon Golub’s wife and one of the artists in the book, but there wasn’t enough light at the bar for her to see it.

“There’s a basic risk in the practice of art itself, in that it’s something that’s not wanted particularly by society. Only a few understand the need for this innocence in a culture, and yet it is the artifact of a culture in the final sense of the word.”

And I thought this one from Ed Ruscha was nice especially because he found common ground between his work and Morandi’s. “One of my favourite artists is Giorgio Morandi, and he painted the same picture for all of his life and did it very well. He fulfilled his destiny without doing any of this pushing into new frontiers. So pushing into a new frontier is not a necessity for any artist. But unless it’s done by someone, things end up at a standstill.”

The night was young so we moved down the road to the Reunion, another bar we had never set foot in. Sea Breeze apparently used to have a small shop that supplied the word with clown shoes and sure enough there was one over the bar. They have a print of Goya’s “Naked Maja” in an ornate frame and a sign that looked vintage but used contemporary jargon. “Wine. How classy people get wasted.” We pumped dollar bills into the juke box and played three games of 8-Ball on the pool table. We were both good and bad.

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Kings Highway

New Irondequoit library under construction in Rochester, New York
New Irondequoit library under construction in Rochester, New York

Everything in our town is split down the middle by the north/south extension of Goodman Street, Kings Highway. I love that name now but it used to bug me when I was going to Kearney. Even though the high school was at the start of Kings Highway I preferred to call it Goodman. We were called the Bishop Kearney Kings and I figured they named the street after that dump. I couldn’t wait to get out of there and after two years my parents finally gave in.

Kings Highway may have been a highway when kings ruled but it is not what we know as a highway today. When it crosses Titus, right where this picture was taken, the road becomes a miniature, two lane, Blue Ridge Parkway as it winds its way northward to the lake. There are very few houses, the road washes out frequently and it is surrounded by undeveloped parts of Durand Eastman Park. The view in fact is regal.

We have always had two libraries in this town but they plan to close both when this new library building, at Titus and Kings Highway, is complete. I’m holding my breath that the art section will be better than the one we have up by Wegmans.

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Ground Rounds

Sea Breeze, New York at dusk
Sea Breeze, New York at dusk

About one or two times a year we go down to the lake for an ice cream. I say “down” because it is downhill, otherwise we’d be underwater, but it is really “up” if your compass is working. We like the Chocolate Almond custard at “Don’s Original. If we were here for ground rounds we’d be next door at Viv & Irv’s.

When a restaurant call’s itself “Original’ it only calls attention to the fact that there is some shaky history to the lineage and I don’t claim to know the rundown but I vividly remember going with my dad to Don & Bob’s on Monroe Avenue where we’d pick up burgers and fries for the whole family and drive back home as quickly as possible while the car filled with the aroma of those thin, flat patties that hung over the edge the bun by an inch or so. It was beautiful torture. Jeff Springut from the Red Creek took the place over and ran it into the ground.

There is good reason why Sea Breeze Amusement Park used to call itself “Dreamland.” Sea Breeze, a tiny enclave at the end of Culver Road is nothing but dreamy. We walked out on the pier while we ate our custard and felt like we were much more than a mile from home.

There’s always more photos over here.

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A Walk In The Park

Budweiser can, golf balls and drug bags found at Durand Eastman Park in Rochester, New York
Budweiser can, golf balls and drug bags found at Durand Eastman Park in Rochester, New York

Admittedly, the pickins are slim out here. I filled whole scrapbooks with the stuff we found on walks in the city. I don’t expect to find junk in the woods and I’m happy not to but when we cut through the park, little things, like golf balls and drug bags, catch my eye.

I’ll have to check my records but it seems when we first started bringing home the Budweiser cans, that we always find in the same spot, they were 22 ounce cans. The one we brought home today is a 25 ouncer.

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Near Boil

Arboretum at Durand Eastman Park in Rochester, New York
Arboretum at Durand Eastman Park in Rochester, New York

It was such a delight to hear Louise Wareham Leonard read at Writers & Books last night. I’m still getting over it. The Performance Space there is dramatic. Stadium style seating, theatrical lighting and Louise at the podium with a short stack of pages. There is a “this better be good” vibe to the setting and Louise delivered in rather surprising fashion, surprising only because hearing her read something of hers I had already read brings it to a near boil.

She read from four of her books, some still in progress, and I particularly liked her comments as introduced a piece from “Fiery World,” the first chapter of which is published in this month’s Rochester POST magazine. The book is set in Durand Eastman’s Arboretum, “a spectacularily beautiful place that none goes to.” “I almost don’t even want to tell you about it.”

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