Beginning Of A Great Adventure

Baby robin on our deck
Baby robin on our deck

Peggi went out on the deck to water our lemon grass plants and found this little guy, standing there, unafraid. And didn’t fly away while she watered the plants. We didn’t recognize the bird as a baby robin but continued watching from inside and saw its orange breasted mom land nearby and drop a worm into its mouth.

I was thinking of Lou Reed’s song where he kicks around the idea of having childen.

“I’d keep the tyke away from school and tutor him myself
keep him from the poison of the crowd
But then again pristine isolation might not be the best idea
it’s not good trying to immortalize yourself”

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Taste Of The Tropics

Durand Beach early this morning just after the rain.
Durand Beach early this morning just after the rain.

It was pouring when we woke up and the first thing I thought of was the groundhog in the Have-A-Heart trap that I put right next to the downspout of our gutter. We caught him on Friday down in the garden in our neighbor’s backyard. I called the town and they will pick him up on Monday morning and relocate him. He had not drowned but he didn’t look too happy. I fed him scraps from our compost pile. Cilantro stems (Peggi had just made a batch of cilantro pesto), banana skins, some cantaloupe rind and an orange peel. His first taste of the tropics for sure.

It was supposed to be raining at 7 and that’s all it took for everyone to stay home. Not even the dog walkers were out and by the time we got to the lake it had turned into another beautiful day in paradise.

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What I’m Doing With My Summer Vacation

Performance of Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" at Téåtre des Champs-Elysees in Paris in 1913
Performance of Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” at Téåtre des Champs-Elysees in Paris in 1913

I’m scanning the fourth column of my “Brief History of the World,” preparing to digitize a copy and make it available as an ePub download. It is an ambitious project. Assembling the twenty spiral bound notebooks, 3-hole punching the white 110 pound card stock and pasting cut out pictures from the newspaper was easy. I did that over a twenty year period. Scanning each image and reassembling the books in a page layout program is time consuming. The image above is from “Brief History of the World Vol XVI.” It is available as a free download here.

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Regrets

Green muck in Johnson Pond, Rochester New York
Green muck in Johnson Pond, Rochester New York

When I said hi to the couple walking toward us in the park yesterday the man wished me a happy Father’s Day. Not the first time and not something that bothers me in any way. It’s just odd considering the odds that any guy would have offspring. This year I was more interested in commemorating Juneteenth than Father’s Day. 

In Maureen Dowd’s column she talked about regretting not telling her father, a former cop, that she was proud of him. I would imagine many people share that feeling. I know I do.

My father’s bone cancer came on so fast it made for some awkward conversations at the end but I’m pretty sure he knew how I felt about him. Although I do replay the scene from his last doctor’s visit, where his doctor, having just reviewed scan results, told my father to go home and get his affairs in order. My father was stunned. Outside the office I tried breaking the silence by saying what was going through my own mind, what I might go to if I was given that news. “Well, it is inevitable,” I said. Needless to say that fell flat.

Of course it is inevitable but he was in the middle of so many projects. He was not done living yet. Back in the car I asked if he had anywhere else he wanted to stop and he suggested the barn on Westfall Road, the one he was trying to convince the town to preserve. I helped him walk out there and I took a photo of him standing in the barn with his sketchpad.

After moving to Irondequoit, he took a liking to an unlikely part of the park, Johnson Pond, at the Camp Eastman entrance. He found Wood Ducks there. I guess they are not so common. He took a photo of turtles sunning themselves on a log on the land and the newspaper used it as one of their daily panoramas. We walked over to Johnson Pond the other morning and found nothing but green muck.

Regrets. I’ve had a few. I am sort of haunted by this one. While picking my dad up for an earlier appointment I stuck my head in my parents’ bedroom and said hi to my mom. I told her we were off to the doctor and we’d be back soon. She said, “I’m so proud of you.” It was one of the last lucid conversations I had with her and I couldn’t just accept the compliment, one that I don’t remember ever hearing her say before. I had to throw it back at her by saying something like you don’t have to thank me. Why couldn’t I just say “Thank you?”

Later she pleaded with me to get something from my doctor that she could take to end her life. “I know you can do it.” Her vascular dementia was turning her waking hours into a nightmare. It is past time for another contribution in memory of Mary to “End of Life Choices New York”, 120 East 23rd St., 5th Floor, NY, NY 10010.

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What Happened Steam Shovels?

Dredging barge out on Lake Ontario
Dredging barge out on Lake Ontario

The lake was calm again today and at first I thought this was the Mississippi style party boat back in action, the Spirit of Rochester, the one with the paddle wheel that doesn’t propel the boat but just spins as the boat moves while people dine and cruise in and out of the bay. Only when I brought the photo home and enlarged it did I see there is what we used to call a steam shovel on the boat deck with those two big stacks. It must be the barge that dredges the mouth of the river and then dumps the sediment out in the lake. But a barge is usually towed by another boat and I didn’t see one.

Tom and Barbara were driving by as we headed down to the garden. I walked closer to their car to say hi but they both pulled their masks up and it was hard to carry on much of a conversation. This virus situation is uncivilized.

We put in a new row of spinach, right where our first row of the year was. That one had pretty much gone to seed. We have spinach every day now in one form or another. Peggi plans to make Espinacas con Garbanzos with the two big bags we brought back. We put another row of cilantro in as well. This would be our third or fourth planting this year. We put it on everything. Tomorrow we plan to plant a second row of carrots. Our neighbor tells us a groundhog has a new family down there so we may have some competition for the produce.

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Dream State Cont.

Bright blue couch at curb on side street off Wahl Road, Rochester NY.
Bright blue couch at curb on side street off Wahl Road, Rochester NY.

Because our mail-in ballots for school board elections had to be in by the end of the day, we walked them up to Pardee Road School on Norton and dropped them into a secure box. It gave us the opportunity to walk by Case’s, the nursery where we usually buy our plants. This year we made a Corona project out of it and started everything from seed. We cut through the neighborhoods on the way back and found this beauty out by the road.

Evolution has kept the earth in balance for a long time. Whether it has met its match with mankind is still an open question. Hopscotching around the world, taking advantage of people in other countries while walking all over people in our own is tipping the scales. The Coronavirus and BLM movement has radically altered our bad habits and refocused us.

The virus has been disastrous for those affected but for us, the lucky ones, it has produced an extended dream state where we have lost track of the days. Spring came in ever so slowly and it hung around forever. We don’t go anywhere other than by foot and oddly, that has been ok. We may come out of this in a better place.

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Nullifying Nature

Sea Breeze pier with white caps on Lake Ontario
Sea Breeze pier with white caps on Lake Ontario

We tuned into a conference call that our financial advisor did with all his clients this morning. We were early and the mics were all open. Todd said good morning and then offered that this was the type of day we all live through ten months of bad weather for. Before our mics were muted I said, “We like the other ten months.”

Our daily walks often take us to the lake and as everyone who lives near the lakes says, “it looks different every day.” We usually work our way up there, either to Sea Breeze or Durand, by way of the woods or trails through the park. Some of those trails cross the golf course and the manicured greens are a striking contrast to the woods. An even more glaring contrast is the golfers themselves, usually men in shorts and polo shirts. A look that attempts to nullify nature. And they don’t wear masks.

We were waiting for two guys to tee off today before crossing the course and one of them, an insurance man and friend of my brothers, recognized us. He came over to say hi and we stepped back. He came closer and Peggi pulled up her mask. I had almost a dozen golf balls in my two hands, my biggest haul this year, all found near the trail. I stepped back again and this guy came closer. I thought he was going to shake my hand. America is opening up again.

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A Glimpse Of Civilization’s Demise

Durand Eastman Beach during Covid Days
Durand Eastman Beach during Covid Days

It was supposed to rain this morning, thunderstorms even, and we’re guessing that is what kept everyone inside. We walked with our rain gear but never had to use it and because there were so few people out, we walked along the beach. It felt a bit like a Mad Max movie or maybe the way the sets would look just after shooting.

It was early so the City had not had a chance to clean up from the night’s parties. Fire pits were still fuming, that damp smoky odor almost overwhelming. Driftwood doesn’t make the best firewood but generations will try. I was thinking back to the night after my senior ball and the party we had on this same beach. We were probably just as reckless.

Fireworks canisters and empty wine and beer bottles were strewn about. A soggy half pizza was draped over a log. A full gallon sized plastic container of cheese doodles was left in the sand and further down a bag of Smartfood cheddar cheese popcorn. Young green trees were snapped off at the trunk and probably thrown on the fire. Someone had started a fire under a fallen tree, a big tree. They scooped out the sand beneath and succeeded in burning a good bit of the trunk while the thirty foot tree stretched out along the beach. A two foot column of red plastic drink cups was still in a plastic bag. And a park picnic table, one those with tubular metal legs was in two big pieces, just small pieces of the charred wooden top and seats still attached.

Margaret Explosion CD "Civilization" (EAR 18) on Earring Records, released 2017
Margaret Explosion CD “Civilization” (EAR 18) on Earring Records, released 2017
Tonic Party by Margaret Explosion from cd Civilization
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Mary, Mary

Paper Bark Maple in the park
Paper Bark Maple in the park

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row

I thought of this while watering our garden. It is something that’s been floating around in my head since grade school or before. Where did the rhyme come from and what does it mean? I went to Wikipedia.

One theory is that it is religious allegory of Catholicism,  Mary, the mother of Jesus, bells representing alter bells and the cockleshells the badges of the pilgrims to the shrine of Saint James in Spain (Santiago de Compostela). We have a couple of those badges. The pretty maids could be nuns, but even within this strand of thought there are differences of opinion as to whether it is lament for the reinstatement of Catholicism or for its persecution.

Another theory sees the rhyme as connected to Mary, Queen of Scots (1542–1587), with “how does your garden grow” referring to her reign over her realm, “silver bells” referring to Catholic cathedral bells, “cockle shells” insinuating that her husband was not faithful to her, and “pretty maids all in a row” referring to her ladies-in-waiting – “The four Maries”.

The “Quite contrary”part is said to be a reference to her unsuccessful attempt to reverse ecclesiastical changes effected by her father Henry VIII and her brother Edward VI. The “pretty maids all in a row” is speculated to be a reference to miscarriages or her execution of Lady Jane Grey.

I love the fact that no one really knows what it means anymore and yet it is still around.

I picked a variety of greens for our first dinner salad from the garden, basically thinning the rows of greens we had platted too close together. Romaine, mesclun, cilantro, some basil, butter crunch, arugula and some spinach.

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Make It Float

Bag of pot found on the sidewalk in Rochester, New York
Bag of pot found on the sidewalk in Rochester, New York

My LL Bean anti-tick socks were dirty so we walked in the nearby neighborhoods today. Just off Culver on Avondale I spotted a bag of pot laying on the sidewalk, a half sandwich sized baggie with three big buds in it. I picked it up with my left hand and made a mental note not to put that hand near my face. There’s a few neighbors on our street that might be interested in it. 

Jimmy Cobb, Miles Davis’s drummer on “Kind of Blue, has died. Four of the five songs on that classic were recorded in one take. Before the session Miles’s advice to Cobb was simple, “Jimmy, you know what to do. Just make it sound like it’s floating.” We heard him at the Jazz Fest a few years back he still sounded good but it wasn’t floating.

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Green Vs. Blue

Painting supports for horseshoes 2020
Painting supports for horseshoes 2020

America is opening up again. We figured out a way to play horseshoes while distancing. I don’t touch the green shoes and Rick doesn’t touch the blue ones. Instead of trading off we each shoot our two shoes, one after the other, and then step out of the pit. The opponent shoots their two and we walk to the other pit where the player who goes second picks up his shoes and steps aside. The only thing we haven’t figured out is how to drink beer with the mask on.

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EIEIO

View above our neighbors' house in May
View above our neighbors’ house in May

Jim Mott was up early this morning. Something like four. He emailed, texted and then called to revise the suggestions he had made in the email. The warblers are migrating through and he offered to be our guide. But the cold, drawn-out spring has thrown the birders for a loop. The hot spots are not so reliable. He told told us we might have just as much luck in Durand which happened to be where we were when he called.

As we walked along the lakeshore we heard someone coming toward us before we saw him. He had earbuds in and was singing along with the Mamas and Papas’ “California Dreamin'”. Not so much singing but loudly reciting the lyrics in a flat monotone. We tried not to look. While we were down on the beach he came back by us. This time it was the Beatles’ “Michelle. “

Back home Peggi had to call the Social Security office. The woman who helped her was working from home and her young child could be heard by her side. He or she had some of the words to Old MacDonald and he or she definitely had the refrain down.

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Day Fifty Nine

Gentle waves on Lake Ontario
Gentle waves on Lake Ontario

There was hardly anyone out this morning. Must have been the low temperatures and the threat of rain. The gentle waves hitting the shoreline had me in a meditative state. I could have walked all the way to Niagara Falls where my cousins are having a closed funeral for my Aunt Ann. We perfected this state while walking the coastline of Portugal last year on our third Camino.

The waves work like a mantra because they are not perfectly timed. I take that back. They are perfectly timed but not quantized. And each wave sounds different from the last. It is nothing like a drum sample. I paid 45 dollars to learn TM when I was in college. The person who gave me my mantra told me not to time it with my breath or say it in a rhythmic way but just let it be the next thought each time. This is really tough for a drummer but I got it.

Right now I would like to just drift off with these wave and let them wash this whole thing away. This is Day 59.

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Broken Link

Mary and Leo Dodd sitting at table in our backyard 1969
Mary and Leo Dodd sitting at table in our backyard 1969

I don’t know if I ever knew what my parents were discussing when I took this picture. With seven kids there was always something going on. If I had to guess I would say someone had gotten into trouble.

The last of my mom’s siblings, my Aunt Ann, has died. Her husband is the last man standing in the generation before me. They were our favorites on that side. So easy to talk to and laugh with. Interested and interesting. Her parents, my grandparents, are both in the big family picture from 1920 that I just put up on the Tierney Market page. Although she wasn’t yet born she knew these people and that link to the past is gone.

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Toad Trill

Two toads mating in Jared's pond
Two toads mating in Jared’s pond

Jared describes the scene in his fish pond each spring as an orgy. When that trilling sound fills the air on a sunny day the toads are happy! They are so sensitive it is hard to sneak up on them. They stop trilling when you’re twenty feet away. But in time they get right back into it. There were at least three other pairs of toads getting it on while we were there. Our neighbors plan to have a few friends over tomorrow to watch the proceedings – at a safe distance of course.

Speaking of rear entry. The Zoom meeting we attended last night, a virtual First Friday art studio tour, was bombed. Full blown. It started with someone writing “Nigger” and drawing swasticas on a white board. The hosts and participants tried to carry on but their voices were being drowned out with all bitch talk. And then the little squares and full screen went graphic. We bailed but checked back after an hour the rude quests had left.

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Green Tuft

Green tuft of grass on a brown lawn on Wisner Road
Green tuft of grass on a brown lawn on Wisner Road

The owners of this house on Wisner planted a different kind of grass, something that goes brown in the Fall and only comes back when you think it never will, like the early days of Summer. And then every Spring there is this green tuft of ordinary grass right in the middle of it all.

One of the holes at Durand Eastman in Spring
One of the holes at Durand Eastman in Spring

We can’t walk to the library anymore because its closed. And we used to walk to Wegmans but we do Instacart pick-ups now. When its below forty we walk in the woods and usually work our way up to the lake at some point. Above forty we are weary of brushing up against ticks so the golf course at Durand, which is closed due to the virus, has become a great place to walk. They still haven’t put the tee markers in or the flags in the holes. If you spot someone a hundred yards away you just change course. Sometimes we’ll hug the perimiter and sometimes we’ll get right out in the middle.

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Super 8

I just love this title shot. YouTube picked it for me, their AI that scans your recently uploaded video for the likely best still.

In a pandemic induced sharing mood I put the rest of my Super 8 footage online (with a Margaret Explosion soundtrack) and sent a link to our former Bloomington friends, none of whom are in Bloomington anymore. We went to school there. I dropped out but hung around. This is my favorite Bloomington footage, my friends in the trailer, the kids who lived across the street and the locals on the street downtown. One of the kids playing on the hill in the beginning of the movie flashed the peace sign at me and then while downtown with Brad Fox one of the little girls there give us the peace sign. Sarcastically, of course. This was 1970 or so.

The movie, Breaking Away, depicted the tension between the college kids and the locals, called “Cutters” in the film because of all the stone quarries around town. When we were there they were referred to as “Stonies” and it was as derogatory as it sounds. For me, the real creeps were the college kids. Like the three guys in the blue windbreakers with yellow Greek letters on them who jumped out of a car and beat the shit out of me because my hair was too long.

I bought the movie camera through my father who picked it up a the Kodak store in Kodak Park on Lake Avenue. It shot film without sound in a 4 by 3 format. When I dropped the clips into iMovie the top and bottom gets cropped off so it fits the 16 by 9 format. I nave no idea what I’m missing because it still looks great.

Here is the rest of my Super 8 footage in these video clips.

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Plus Side

Round mirror on Hoffman Road before the wind storm
Round mirror on Hoffman Road before the wind storm

The lake is prettier than ever. We get there most days by one route or another. A wind storm is headed our way, forecast to be as bad as the one in March 2017 when we lost power for four days. We spent the day preparing. We bought gas for our neighbors generator so we can justify running an extension cord to our refrigerator. We moved the metal chairs, which we had just put for the season, out to safer ground. I managed to make enough room in the garage to get the car in. A first. We plan to sleep in the basement, on the spare mattress on the floor where our guests usually sleep. And we talked of a tofu recipe that we could do over a fire out back. Our life is more purposeful during the pandemic.

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Downside

Durand Eastman Snack Shack re-season
Durand Eastman Snack Shack re-season

We cut across the golf course this morning on our way to the lake, taking a chance that they hadn’t opened for the season. I’m still a bit gun shy after someone yelled “Fore” and I turned in the the direction of the voice only to get beaned in the forehead. We thought we saw a sign on the Snack Shack door so we walked up close and saw that someone had rearranged the letters on the menu.

There was an old guy out on the first hole hitting chip shots into a hula hoop but none of the flags were up or tee markers. The golf course is so much prettier in the winter without the golfers. I would be happy if they never opened but I thought I read that they would be with rules about not sharing carts.

The lake was beautiful. Calm and turquoise-like. I’m hoping were on the downside of this curve.

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Double Truck

Big oak log hung up on Leo's splitter.
Big oak log hung up on Leo’s splitter.

It’s hard to tell what’s going on in this photo but I know. I rolled this huge oak log up on the spitter and drove it toward the blade but it failed to split all the way through and it got hung up. I backed up the hydraulic driver and put another log in there to drive this thing off. But then I had to roll it up on the splitter again. Leo, our former next door neighbor, put the splitter together himself, a Heathkit.

During this crisis I’ve been thinking of the Stones song from Between the Buttons, “Who wants yesterday’s papers? As much as I like the old fashioned newspaper it seem hopelessly outdated by the time it gets to our mailbox. It’s demise has been a long time coming but it seems cruel that with the biggest news story in a century the newspapers pick this time to go under. City stopped their print edition and I heard the D&C was putting employees on a week furlough.

The cumbersome delivery method of a stale product and now no advertisers. When I worked at Hart Conway in the Triangle Building downtown one of our biggest clients were the car dealers, It was down and dirty work but the ads we prepared in paste-up form were full page and sometimes double truck. I did time at Sibley’s too, in the back room on the fourth floor and we did spreads and whole supplements for the newspaper.

I got stuck on the newspaper as a delivery boy. I still find it soothing. There are no interruptions like there is on the phone. I like cutting pictures out. Im going to miss it.

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