We were unable to cross the outflow from Eastman Lake this morning. Of course we could have taken our shoes off and waded across but we turned around and walked back along the beach. Someone had left a big round metal fire pit fixture on the beach with ashes and charred beer cans from the night before. We passed twice and considered taking it home both times but it was way too heavy.
We watched a virtual funeral mass yesterday for Joe O’Keefe, my mom’s cousin. He was a real sweetheart. At my mom’s funeral he told me a rather significant story about their common grandmother, a Kelly, who left Dublin on a ship bound for New York as a caretaker of an elderly man. She was supposed to return but she fell in love with a man named Walsh. They married as soon as they landed but only on the condition that Walsh drop his affiliation with the Church of England and get right with Catholicism.
He told me they used to hold these teen dances all over the city and kids would usually go without dates. He said he always made sure he danced with my mom and said he was determined to find a Mercy girl like my mom. And he did, my mom’s lifelong friend, Virginia, who he married.
Tomorrow we drive to Niagara Falls for the funeral of my aunt and Joe’s cousin, Ann Oliver, the last of that generation of Tierneys. She died during the pandemic and the family delayed the Mass and remembrance until now. She was my favorite aunt on that side. I painted a picture of her for “The City” show at Pyramid in 1990 where I depicted one member from each of my relatives’ families working somewhere in Rochester.
You always think, “this will be the last nice day of the year” when we get a day like this (sunshine and somewhere in the seventies) in late October. I borrowed Jared’s chimney scrub brush yesterday and went up on the roof, our new metal roof. It is slippery and we decided not to get those bars that catch the snow before it slides off on top of you because they look ugly but they would provide something to hold onto if you’re sliding off. My Merrill walking shoes have a pretty good grip but I wasn’t prepared for the loose panel that slid out from under me when I stepped on it. I grabbed ahold of the sharp edge the next panel and cut my left hand. I was still able to play horseshoes.
I called the roofing company and they came right out to address it. I climbed up on top of the chimney, took the cap off and shoved the long pole down to the point where it reaches our flu. I was working it up and down, scraping the creosol off the inner walls, when I suddenly felt no resistance at all. The brush had come off the pole and it was stuck in our chimney. I was picturing what it would smell like if we started a fire and I looked toward my neighbors and saw Jared was doing something in his fish pond. I pulled the pole up and he got the picture. He suggested putting our pole saw down there and trying to grab on to it. An hour or so later I came up with the brush. Maybe we’ll have our first fire this weekend.
Our neighbor down the street likes to obsess over things. We obsessively watch him obsess and we listen when he wants to talk. He is always doing something in his garage or in his yard, often deep in thought, standing in one place looking down at the ground. As we walked by yesterday he invited us in to look at his lawn. It had been dug up by an animal during the night and he was pretty sure it was raccoons digging for grubs. He doesn’t like to use chemicals on his lawn and in fact he said he never had much of a lawn until this year when the gypsy moths ate all the leaves on his trees allowing extra light in.
He asked if he could borrow our Have-a-heart trap so I brought the wheelbarrow down to the garden (in Jared’s yard) where we keep the trap. We use it to catch groundhogs in the spring before they mow down a row of our lettuce. We’ve inadvertently caught possums and raccoons but just let them go. Jared let us borrow his trap too and he offered that it may be a skunk that is feasting on the grubs. Peggi and I wheeled the two traps down the road and explained how they worked. When we walked by later that day our trap was closed and there was a squirrel inside. The next day our neighbor caught a couple of raccoons. The town Animal Control will transport them to a Black Site.
I have some friends who are Yankees fans and I am sorry they lost last night, to their archival. We put our sports energy into watching LaLiga, three teams in particular, and last weekend’s matches went pretty quickly because two of those teams played each other, as they do two times every year. Atletico beat Barcelona, a very enjoyable match, and then it was fun in a twisted sort of way to see the first place team, Real Madrid, one of our favorites, lose to the new team in the league, Espanyol. That defeat moved Atletico (our No. 1) closer to the top. The league and we are on break now, the “International Break,” where players go back to play for their home countries in the World Cup qualifiers.
The guy in the wheelchair was all alone, sitting in the middle of a grassy area off Log Cabin Road in the park. I was trying to picture how he was able to to roll up the path and out that far when we spotted a woman scooping up something under a tree. As we walked by her I asked, “What are you collecting?” She smiled but clearly did not understand what I had said. I asked again and she said “mushrooms,” pronouncing it like a Russian. She looked Russian as well.
She opened her hands and showed us a batch of little reddish mushrooms. Peggi showed her a picture that she had just taken of the egg or breast-like mushrooms that we had just seen. She shook her head no like they were not desirable. At that point I noticed the woman was wearing a Home Health Care t-shirt and realized she was out in the park with her client.
In 1998 Sam used my camera to take a self portrait. I did the painting above based on his photo. It hangs near the front door in our home. Geri called us this morning to give us the bad news. Her son, Sam, died last night of an apparent heart attack. I can’t imagine her grief.
Eternally youthful, Sam was special in so many ways. He had his oxygen supply cut off during childbirth and he was later diagnosed with autism but his personality was fully developed. Like his late father, Bill, he was an early Macintosh enthusiast. He sent us a photo of his old Mac Plus which he kept in the basement. For years he would call us whenever a new Mac OS was available and he always kept all his gear up to date. We took him out to the Apple Store when he broke his iPad and we watched as the Apple representative explained that breakage was not covered and then he gave Sam a brand new iPad. He was that sweet.
We celebrated a few of Sam’s birthdays at Chuck E Cheese’s in Henrietta, Sam’s choice. The place was heaven to him. Sam and his family camped out at Pete and Shelley’s place in the mountains the same weekend we were up there. He formed an immediate bond with them.
For the last few years Sam was living in a group home in Elmira and then independently in an apartment with the same organization. We went down there to visit one weekend and Sam took us to Five Guys and Target. We will miss him.
My doctor wanted me to get a Covid test before she did my colonoscopy. The closest testing facility to my house is Wilson (named after the founder of Xerox) on Carter Street. The test was a saliva test and the nurse coached me to think of favorite foods. I took the little tube (and the tiny plastic funnel) out to car and filled the tube to the red line in ten minutes. I never got to the part where I would need to think of olives or tortilla or pulpo.
The test came back “Not Detected,” which sounds a little fuzzy. I did the prep yesterday and was still able to play horseshoes with Rick. I drank the two containers of Gatoraid mixture and we watched Barcelona barely manage a draw with Granada. I still had not budged. It was a little worrisome but the time the sun came up I was clean as a whistle.
Peggi drove me out to the maze of doctors’ offices on Jefferson Road. The nurse told me I could keep my socks on and she handed me a heated blanket. She marveled at my veins and set up the IV for the anesthetic. I was kicking myself for not bringing the newspaper in because I laid there for about forty-five minutes. There was a lot of hubbub out by the front desk and then I saw my doctor walk by slowly. She looked a little long in the tooth so convinced myself that it was another patient and not my doctor. When she came back down the hall she was in a wheelchair and someone was pushing her. I figured the patient had some sort of episode and that was why everyone was rattled.
The nurse came back in my room and explained that they had had some sort of equipment failure and they were not going to be able to do my colonoscopy. But they said I could go back over to Wilson and a doctor there could perform the procedure. Or I could reschedule and do the prep all over again. They took the IV out. I got dressed and we drove over to Wilson, a decidedly more urban environment but more comfortable.
I asked the receptionist there if she knew why I was transferred and she told me my doctor wasn’t feeling well. So now I await the diagnosis on the three polyps that were removed and my next colonoscopy.
“I’m not afraid of dying’ and I don’t really care,” or whatever those words to the Laura Nyro song that Blood Sweat & Tears took over the top are, was blasting from this guys’ sound system as he rolled by us. Obnoxious and hysterical at the same time. We passed this guy many times in the park, along the lake and even saw him coming down Culver Road from East Ridge one time. He gets around and thinks nothing of cranking his tunes, the Baby Boomer hits, for all nearby.
Peggi agreed to walk up to Aman’s Farm Market with me if I didn’t get any beer. We were going for fresh corn and fruit but we also needed garlic and onions and milk and cheddar cheese so the weight added up. And this was the longest we had walked since I sprained my ankle. Since we only get up here two or three times a month I put a 4-pack of 3 Heads Ha Ha! Nelson in the bottom of my backpack.
I wasn’t able to walk with Peggi today so I took a photo of her as she walked by on the street below. I sprained my ankle watching a soccer match, the Brazil Argentina World Cup qualifier. The PA at Urgent Care thought I must have overstretched it while sitting with my legs under me down in front of the tv where I can see who’s who on the pitch. And then as I descended our basement stairs, trying not to put too much weight on my sprain, I stubbed the big toe on my good leg. There was a crack and it hurts worse than my good leg.
The artificial intelligence on our tv apps recommended two stellar movies based on what we they think we like. “The Wicker Man” from the golden year of 1973 was sensational. Extolling the virtues of paganism over Christianity I felt like was inside a Bruegel painting. When that was over we started “Trilogy of Terror” with Karen Black from 1975. I can’t wait to get back to that one.
My brother’s lady friend was one of the original Vietnamese boat people. She and her family left just after we lost the war in her country in 1975. As we prepare for a new wave of refugees I can only say that, based on what is right in front of me, refugees make our country better in every way.
Peggi and I were invited to a Tea Ceremony, a traditional Vietnamese event based on a marriage custom where the groom goes to the bride’s family’s home and officially ask for their daughter’s hand. In this case, where the bride’s name is O’Conner, the ceremony was held at my brother’s partner’s home. Her son can be seen in red in the center of this photo.
The groom’s friends, the big guys in white, made a grand entrance in five GMC Sierra Denali pickup trucks. My brother’s was one of them. He is a mason, the best in the county, I have no idea what the other guys do but their trucks were all in spotless condition. Incense offerings where made to the ancestors before a Buddhist altar and the groom presented the bride with some studded earrings. When she opened the little box she found the price tag was still on them. I offered to cut it off with my pocket knife and I put the tag in my pocket. We examined it at home and discovered the earrings were $2,000 dollars at Macy’s.
The bride and groom presented us with small red plastic glasses of tea and the ceremony was followed by a brunch with homemade Vietnamese food. We sat across from my brother and saw that he was eating tofu and eggplant. Last I knew the only vegetable he would eat was corn. I said something about it and he said, “I don’t ask what it is. I just eat it.”
The Brighton Cemetery, on Hoyt Place overlooking the Eastern Expressway and former Erie Canal bed, is no longer in Brighton. The surrounding property owners voted to be annexed by the City of Rochester so they could hook up to the city’s sewer system and through some sort of loophole the city was not required to keep up the cemetery. It fell into serious disrepair. Richard Miller has devoted his retirement years to restoring the gravestones and maintaining the property. His volunteer work earned him the Leo Dodd Historic Brighton Preservation Award, an award given each year in my father’s name.
Pittsford Wegman’s provided a box lunch for the Historic Brighton group and the town historian tried to separate the folklore from the historical facts on the history of the familiar local names. After the presentation we spotted the recipient in the parking lot. I noticed he had saved the plastic knife, fork and spoon in his shirt pocket. I asked him if he could be sure the grave stones that he repaired and uprighted were above the right bodies. He thought for a few moments and told us the cemetery wasn’t as badly vandalized as others because nobody knows where it is. Even though thousands of cars whiz by the Winton Road, a stone’s throw away, every hour of the day.
The cemetery was founded in 1821 so we are commemorating its 200th anniversary this year. I remember walking around the cemetery with my father as he pointed out names connected to Brighton’s brick industry. Preserving that story was one of my father’s retirement projects. My father would be so proud have Richard Miller win this award.
Today is the feast day of Santiago, the patron saint of Spain. We’re celebrating with a hearty Spanish dish, something we plan to eat in front of the tube while watching Spain play Australia at the Tokyo Olympics. We’ll have some Spanish wine and and desert (something we rarely do.) Peggi borrowed our neighbor’s spring-form pan and made a Tarta de Santiago.
We haven’t watered our garden in weeks. We’ve had plenty of rain just when the trees need it as they try to kick out another set of leaves after the moth defoliation. We picked a big bag of greens, kale, romaine lettuce, basil, zucchini and jalapeños for Matthew and Louise. Our neighbor, Michael Burritt, the percussion teacher at the Eastman School of Music, was playing his mallets while we picked and weeded. I have no idea if he’s practicing or working out a composition but the melodies, as beautiful as they are, never seem to resolve the way a pop or jazz tune would. We were meeting M&L in Sodus at El Rincon and just as we crossed the bay bridge we realized we had forgotten the big bag of vegetables.
The Maplewood Neighborhood Association sponsored a Garden Walk yesterday. Other than practicing in Larry Luxury’s basement back in the eighties I had not spent much time in this part of the city. The homes are stately, huge and well preserved. We started our garden walk by parking our car at Aquinas High School and walking up Dewey to the palatial Seneca Parkway.
Going west Seneca Parkway dead-ends at the railroad, which made for a well-timed bathroom stop. We crossed the street and park-like median and continued east on the opposite side of the street. There were thirty some homes on the tour and each backyard was a world unto itself. Not only gardens but swimming pools, patios, outdoor living rooms, fully appointed outdoor kitchens and cocktail bar-like settings. People live large in this part of the city. A couple who who had lived in their home for fifty years told us some of the neighbors have moved from one house to the other on the the same street.
At some point I had Rick Nelson’s “Garden Party” going through my head.
We were planning on getting together with Bob Martin this afternoon. He was back in Rochester for a few days, we had dinner reservations for tonight and we were going to spend the afternoon setting up our in-home recording outfit, a Scarlett 2i4 and Logic. Bob called this morning to say he and his wife both had either a cold or Covid. They are fully vaccinated but he had been making the rounds. Because they had symptoms they could not get a test so they self-quarantined in their their car on the way back to Chicago.
Our neighbors asked everyone on the street if they would allow parking in their driveways this Saturday. Their oldest is graduating from high school, the same Catholic school my father and Spaz went to. They set this bounce house up this afternoon along with a big tent.
The oak leaves are a little thin along Log Cabin Road but the they are indeed coming out again, just like they did in the spring. We hear it’s hard on the trees to do spring all over again and they may not be able to do it again next year but for now it feels like a miracle. We are still seeing caterpillars and stomping on each and every one but most are tucked away in their pupa stage. Moths are emerging and the giant oak in front of the Church of the Transformation has female moths laying their eggs on the underside of its 250 year old branches. I’m afraid we are in for another round next year.
Notice I never referred to the invasive pests as “Gypsy Moths.” We don’t use the common name anymore and for good reason. Until they come up with innocuous common name for the fuckers we shall call them Lymantria dispar.
We watched a blurry YouTube copy of Todd Haynes’ “Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story” last night. The movie is officially out of circulation because of a copyright infringement lawsuit by Richard Carpenter and I can see his point. It made me uncomfortable and not in a good way. Thankfully the movie went right into a BBC special on the Carpenters. Richard, Karen’s brother and musical director reminded me of Ozzie Nelson, as square as they come, but he brought a lot to their story. And the footage of Karen is sensational. Ultimately, extremely sad but the melancholy in her voice was always what got to me.
I played the two 45s we have tonight. Superstar and Rainy Days and Mondays. I’ll wait til December to get our Carpenter’s Christmas lp out. Long live Karen!
We won’t put our homemade gypsy moth traps out this year. We learned that effort is pointless. In fact some speculate that the artificial pheromone may actually attract more moths to your property. We squashed a few caterpillars yesterday but didn’t see any today. Their pupas are in every nearby nook and cranny and quite a few have already emerged as moths. We found four females, the white ones, already attached to our trees with egg sacs below them. This is a 3 to 4 year cycle and we plan to address it with chemicals next year.
We secured a quote from the company that treated the guys’ trees on the next street over. Everyone is envious of their foliage, but we had a question about the quote. We are planning to entertain a treatment recommended by another company and they said they would stop out today. By chance the arborist from the first company pulled into our driveway right behind the truck from the other company. Peggi handled one and I the other. He asked me. “What’s he doing here?”
Everybody wants what the gay guys, on the next street over, have. They still have leaves on their trees. With a little detective work we learned they had their trees injected with pellets in April, just before the leaves came out. You can see the tips of the casings for the pellets, filled with an Acephate formula and inserted every four inches around their trees. The tree will eventually close up the small holes
This bird, in the middle of the road in front of our house looks stunned. He’s standing in caterpillar poop and pieces of leaves, what’s left of the leaves from our trees. The gypsy moth caterpillars, bloated from feasting on our oak leaves, are curling up in their pupa stage. The worst is over. In a few weeks the air will be full of brown male moths in search of the white female moths who don’t fly but lay egg sacs that will hatch in the spring with up to thousand new caterpillars.
Ken from High Falls Tree service came out this morning and determined the DBH, diameter at breast height, of our trees. He uses a two sided tape that calculates the diameter as he measures the circumference. The inch markings on the back side of his tape are simply 3.14 times as long as an actual inch. This is why we spent so much on Pi in geometry class.
We have had this roll of string since the late seventies. It has to be the best item we have ever bought at a garage sale. It was quite a bit wider then, almost as wide as the base so you see how many usages we have found. I remember being attracted to it because I had watched my grandfather wrap so many pieces of meat behind his butcher counter.
We took it down to the garden this morning in order to tie our tomato plants up again. They are all about three feet tall. We started our walk at the garden and continued on from there so I carried the string the whole way, stopping to take this portrait on a sidewalk. Peggi said she hopes we last as long as the string.
Peggi and I have been busy concocting scenarios where the invasive species (Garlic Mustard, Black Swallow Wort, Angelica, deer, the white Mute Swans and especially the gypsy moth caterpillars turned on one another instead of picking on our natives species. And in the end the last of them would be poisoned by ingesting the previous.
I awoke from a nightmare where I was battling a new one, something that had covered the ground on our property. I was pouring buckets of liquid on top of it in the dark of night. I was losing the battle and it was really hard for me to shake the experience and convince myself that it was safe to go back to sleep.
Just one block away our neighbor, the one with the three-legged dog, was picking the gypsy moth caterpillars off her maple tree with tweezers. Tweezers! The catepillers typically go for the oaks but when they’re bare they will eat almost anything. We have bands of Glad Wrap around our oaks with a strip of vaseline in the middle and the caterpillars gather below that line by the thousands. I’ve been sweeping them into a bucket of soapy water and letting them die in there. An hour later there will be a thousand more below the line.
A block away from the scene above our oaks are bare. If we believed in the power of prayer we would be praying for the colony collapse.
Seneca Road, Point Pleasant, Titus Avenue and Norton all wind their way down to the bay before coming to an end. They are all great walk destinations. Seneca is one of our favorites. We were just down there last week looking in on the progress of the expensive new home someone is building on the bay.
We just missed the woman who stole an ambulance in Utica, drove west on the NYS Thruway, got off in Rochester and headed north on 590. And like she knew exactly what she was doing she turned right at the Seneca Road traffic circle, barreled down the steep hill and drove through the gate on the boat launch right into the bay.