The Magdalene

Sorting my holy cards on the table
Sorting my holy cards on the table

One of my biggest worries is that this pandemic will end before I have finished all the projects I’ve lined up around the house. I recently checked off one though, sorting my holy card collection. I already had them in glassine envelopes, alphabetically with seperate categories for Virgin and Child, Black Virgin and Child, Virgen Del Pilar, Virgen Dolorosa, Vergen Del Rocio ( all big in Spain) and Christ Crucified. But I still hadn’t filed away the ones I brought back from our last trip.

We have gotten pretty good at sniffing out estampas (holy cards) in “Artículos Religiosos” shops in big cities but they are a dwindling phenomena. Sometimes we’ll strike gold in a priests’ supply store but the best experiences are in small towns where the cards are kept in wooden drawers and the shopkeeper shares details about the saints.

I hung on to some cards from childhood. They were given to us on special occasions and stuffed in our missiles as bookmarks. I bought some at Trant’s Catholic Supply Store on Clinton Avenue South. Most of them were printed in Italy. Every town in Spain has a patron saint and holy cards are pinned to the wall behind the counter in coffee shops and bars. You can still find them in the vestibule of churches, old women sell them out front but everything is changing. Gift shops sell cards on rotating spindles. They’re sealed in plastic, often with a medal attached and they’re expensive. I like the paper cards. You used to be able to buy four or five of them for a Euro. The very best ones were made by C. Mariana in Barcelona.

I found a Mary Magdalene card in Madrid on our last trip, my first one, and I got intrigued with her legend. A prostitute, possessed by seven demons, rumored to have been Jesus’s wife, she was there at the the crucifixion and then the resurrection. She is typically pictured with a skull. I did search on eBay and found an “antigua estampa religiosa” listing for Mary Magdalene for a couple Euros. I went for it and it arrived today from Granada in an envelope with two beautiful stamps.

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Annuit Coeptis

Log at edge of the water, Durand Eastman
Log at edge of the water, Durand Eastman

Well into January and we’re still walking the beach in the morning. Not complaining but Peggi and I both felt like we had a political hangover from yesterday. We started by checking in on the Georgia results and then the certification of the damned electoral college votes and you know the rest. This experiment with a reality tv star as president could only have ended this way.

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1969 Again

Lake Ontario on New Year's Day 2021
Lake Ontario on New Year’s Day 2021

What a gift! This is the way the lake looked this morning on New Year’s Day. We managed to cross the outlet from Durand Lake, something we were unable to do just yesterday when the lake was rough and the water flowing out of Durand had cut a wide swath out of the beach.

We watched a Real Madrid match and finished installment number 7 of the Queen’s Gambit. We were in bed before midnight. Don’t remember ever missing the midnight hour before. I did miss hearing the records I usually play at our New Years party. Stooges “1969,” Hot Chocolate “Don’t Turn It Off,” Prince “When Doves Cry,” James Brown “Payback,” Donna Summer, “I Feel Love’” and Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets.”

Our neighbor across the street has Covid, probably from a Christmas Day contact and our next door neighbors were with them recently so they are isolating. There is a plus side to staying holed up. We are vaccine hungry but certainly not essential so we’re being patient.

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Anxiety Card

Collection of our Christmas cards
Collection of our Christmas cards

If ever there was a year to send and receive holiday cards this would be the one. And yet I tied myself up in knots just thinking about it. With so much suffering out there and at the same time so much mistrust, even a peaceful message feels like a cop-out. And sharing the news that Peggi and I are finding it really easy to hunker down would be best kept to ourselves.

Years past we nodded to the solstice, the religious significance of the holiday, winter, the new year and our cats. I drew the frames on one card on our Atari 1040, we did snow angels in the backyard and we dressed up like Spanish royalty. The year we dunked old floppy discs in red and green paint presented a shipping postal meltdown.

My father was never afraid to say what was on his mind in his holiday card. Each featured one of his drawings or paintings, maybe a quote from Chesterton and a message like “The war must stop!” One year, late in his life, he said “Mary and I fill our days recounting memories.” And when he died just days after Christmas he left a layout on his computer for that year’s card, an old photo of us kids and this verse –

“What if you couldn’t remember
Yep!………Return to an event
Where some time was spent
When surrounded by people
Some of the people you bore
But the image you recognize no more
What if you couldn’t remember”

My mother went out with vascular dementia and my father went out like a light.

Maybe we’ll do a Three Kings card this year. El Día de los Reyes Magos.

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Mighty Cilantro

Bare tree on beach with snow, Durand Eastman.
Bare tree on beach with snow, Durand Eastman.

Peggi was making an Adobo recipe that called for fresh cilantro. We didn’t have any in the refrigerator but . . . Was there any under the snow down in the garden? It was dark already so I took a flashlight with me. Luckily we left an upside down seed packet on a stake near where our patch was. I found that and dragged my boot across the plants to remove the snow. The leaves were not wilted or fazed by the snow. I brought back a handful.

For dessert, Peggi is thinking about this Mid-Century Modern gingerbread recipe.

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Satanic Feminist

Sand art left by gentle waves on Lake Ontario
Sand art left by gentle waves on Lake Ontario

I was up before dawn for some reason and the temperature was hovering around freezing but the wind had died down. There was hardly anyone out in the neighborhood, park and along the beach. We did see a woman we’ve seen before picking up pieces of worn beach glass. She was wearing a “Satanic Feminist‘ shirt if I read it right. I was trying not to stare and the lettering was one of those German gothic fonts. The lake was too beautiful to photograph, a barely discernible horizon and a subtle rainbow of colors in the sky and water. The water was as calm as it gets.

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Transformation

Flattened maple leaves on road out front
Flattened maple leaves on road out front

There was a temporary open air tent set up for Sunday service in front of the Church of the Transformation all summer. And someone in the congregation found creative (i.e. cornball/clever) ways to freshen up the sign each week. This morning the plastic letters read “WORSHIP ON FACEBOOK ONLY.” I have to get back to my Funky Signs project.

We got some junk mail from AAA today that read “DO NOT ACCIDENTALLY DISCARD.” Still trying to figure that out.

We pulled the last of our beets out of the garden yesterday, just before the snow. The arugula, Swiss chard, kale and late spinach still seem happy down there.

“Isn’t art something that occurs to man facing himself, his work an unsparing witness?”
– Eduardo Chillida

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Donuts 1 To Golf 1

View of Beaver moon rise from Kathy's place on Irondequoit Bay. Photo by Peggi Fournier.
View of Beaver moon rise from Kathy’s place on Irondequoit Bay. Photo by Peggi Fournier.

We met Jan Marshall in Kathy’s backyard last night to watch the Beaver moon come up over the bay. Kathy had a fire going in the commercial dryer bin that she had repurposed and Peggi took this photo with her new iPhone.

It was raining when we got up but we got out there anyway. We stayed on the road and walked down to the end of Hoffman where we watched someone with “Donuts 1” license plates turn around in front of the house where the guy with “Golf 1” plates lives. They happen overlook the golf course.

With three favorite teams there is a lot of soccer to watch. We’ve been recording La Liga matches for Real, Atletico and Barca and watching one a day but we can’t seem to get caught up to the present so we can look at the standings.

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All Consuming

Friendly cedar in park near the trail up to the old zoo
Friendly cedar in park near the trail up to the old zoo, Durand Eastman, Rochester NY

We tucked the final row of firewood away this afternoon and stapled the black tarp down. I plan to make five 2020 markers for the ends of the new rows. Our rows are stacked taller and longer than a face cord and we have twelve of them. I’m starting a fire as I write this.

The defensive moves we took here to avoid Covid revealed an offense that had been waiting in the wings. Turns out we are pretty good at hunkering down and I think we have lived more fully, in the moment, close to home, as we fill our days with a mundane but surprisingly rewarding domestic agenda. Walking, reading, gardening, cooking and working in the yard. It is all consuming.

Somehow I finished my 20th volume of “Brief History of the World” yesterday. I will eventually scan it and create an eBook to add to the five I have available for download now.

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Multiflora

Wild Multiflora Rose on Hoffman Road
Wild Multiflora Rose on Hoffman Road

Lake Ontario’s level is right at its November long term average but the sandy beach looks bigger than ever. We’re not the only ones who have taken to walking the length of Durand during the pandemic. And there is plenty of room to distance when passing other parties.

We came back through the woods along the golf course and saw only one foursome. My brother, Tim, an avid golfer, told us the course was closing for the year after today. He had stopped by to pick up the golf balls I’ve found, the last of three batches I gave him this year, a couple hundred balls. The only ones I keep are the Supersoft matte balls in the hot colors.

Real Madrid played Villarreal to a 1-1 tie yesterday. Modric (our MVP ), the 6″ 4″ goalie and Toni Gross all started. Vinicius and Isco came in as subs but for some reason most of their starting lineup was on the bench. We watched the match in Spanish and they probably told us why but we didn’t catch it.

We finished our walk down at the garden and picked a big batch of arugula, cilantro and romaine. Peggi’s making more pasta for a lasagna dish with the last batch of fresh tomatoes sauce. We recorded Atletico vs. FC Barcelona and we’ll watch that one over dinner tonight.

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Guardrail

Rusty guardrail on way to Amans Farm Market
Rusty guardrail on way to Amans Farm Market

I am not tired of winning. My next door neighbor, Rick, probably won more games than I did this year but I won today and the last time out. He keeps track of these thing on a calendar but doesn’t tally the results until the holidays. The paint has about worn off the shoes and they are starting to rust.

The cold snap we had a few days ago finally did our tomatoes in. Peggi made a fresh sauce with the remaining tomatoes and we had that over her homemade pasta. The arugula and spinach love this weather and the romaine is thriving but the peppers are done. It was so nice tonight we decided to cook out, roasted potatoes and Brussels sprouts.

I am happy to hear the Rochester Red Wings are now a Washington Nationals farm team. I’ve always preferred the National League and grew up when they were affiliated with the Cardinals. I hate the AL’s designated hitter rule.

My mom was a baseball fan and got Stan Musial’s autograph when he was playing for the Wings. We had Knot Hole cards when we were young and used to keep track of the games on the scorecards they sold at the stadium. Rochester’s International League included Montreal, Toronto, Buffalo and Havana. I remember seeing a game with Havana just before the shooting that got them kicked out. Fidel Castro threw out the first pitch when the Wings played their season opener in Cuba in 1960.

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Brutalism

104 exit at Goodman Street
104 exit at Goodman Street

We got as far at the corner this morning before finding more wood by the curb. Someone had split some large red oak logs into hefty wedges. They were asking to be taken home. We took a few pieces with us and went back for the car. It was only 30 degrees today but perfect for working outdoors.

We fired up the spitter and went to work. Peggi and I make a good team, splitting and stacking. We have way too much wood but this stuff was irresistible. Dense and heavy, you could cut perfect 4 by 4’s out it and build rock solid corners. Full of BTUs, the splitter barely took a bite before the just logs popped off.

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Apple Country

Ida Red's at Lagoner Farms in Williamson
Ida Red’s at Lagoner Farms in Williamson

Our garage smells like Schutt’s Cider Mill. We bought a big bag of 20 Ouncers at Orbaker’s in Williamson on Sunday, just before they closed their stand for the year. We didn’t have room in the refrigerator so we have them in cold storage. We plan to make apple sauce with those.

The apples in the photo above are Ida Red’s from Lagoner Farms in Williamson. They used to be our favorite apple. We’ve been stuck on Honey Crisps for the last couple of years and Orbakers was sold out so we came home with Snap Dragons. They are just just as crisp and refreshing but a little less juicy with bit of tartness.

European settlers who brought apple seeds to New York in the 1600s. Dried apples were a staple for colonists and hard apple cider was a popular drink. The micro climate along the lake provides an extended growing season. Lucky for us.

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Implacable Witness

Bather, Durand Eastman Beach, November 10, 2020
Bather, Durand Eastman Beach, November 10, 2020

It doesn’t often reach 81 degrees in November but it did today. We started by walking along the beach. We went around this guy and I positioned myself to photograph him. “Art is that which comes to a man, and stands between himself and an implacable witness: the work.” – Eduardo Chillida

One of neighbors, down back, has a gas powered leaf blower that they use almost every day. We have one too but it’s not like this one. Where our electric blower goes on with a switch and stays on until we’re done, this neighbor continually throttles theirs’ up and then down. So you can’t get used to the noise. We thought for sure that it was the new neighbors, the ones that have dutifully tried to maintain a green lawn all summer and lined the edge of their property with with fallen trees. We walked down there today and discovered the source, a woman we see all the time, “The Coronal,” a former military officer with purple hair and a yappy white dog. She had headphones on. We waved.

Peggi and I made a racket as well, first with our leaf blower on the roof, then the driveway and finally with our mower which we use as a mulcher. The oak leaves have half their mass this year due to the Gypsy Moth infestation and they are more than half down so one more noise session will do it for this year.

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Quick Brown Fox

Concrete building along Durand Lake in Rochester, New York
Concrete building along Durand Lake in Rochester, New York

We surprised a fox in the woods this morning, not jumping over a lazy dog but brown and quick. As soon I said “There’s a ” he was running across the creek and out of sight. It was too cold for golfers this morning so we cut across the golf course on our way back from the lake and returned through the woods.

We live close enough to the railroad tracks for the whistle to sound lonesome as it rolls through downtown. And I could picture us on Amtrak, trays down with our devices and books, headed to NYC to stay with Duane in Brooklyn and run around the city from gallery to museum to a place in Chinatown for dinner. I could see us hanging out at his place at night, sharing photos, listening to music and sipping scotch before bed. But then I remembered.

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A Bonanza

Mirror image of trees along Durand Lake in October
Mirror image of trees along Durand Lake in October

After braving two art shows last week we made reservations for the Warhol show at the MAG. The cow wallpaper and the silver clouds are there along with some of his TV shows. And there are many of his silkscreens there including the Myths series which we owned for many years. We bought the series as a group with my brother and our friend, Kim, in SF from Ronald Feldman Gallery for $6,000 and then sold them at Christie’s in 2017. We stored them all behind our piano on Hall Street until my brother moved out of his Manhattan apartment

The deal was a bit of a gamble because we were buying the prints before Warhol created them. The series was called “Myths” and included The Star, The Witch, Howdy Doody, Uncle Sam, Superman, Mammy, Dracula, Santa Claus, The Shadow, and Mickey Mouse. A bonanza! It will be a thrill to revisit them.

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Two More Weeks

Log on beach near Eastman Lake Outlet
Log on beach near Eastman Lake Outlet

Sometimes, because of the size of the waves and or the amount of recent rain, it can be next to impossible to walk the entire length of Durand Eastman Beach. The lake was calm this morning but it has been raining for a few days so the outlets from the various small lakes were really running. A guy coming toward us had taken his shoes off to wade across this one. We made it but got our shoes wet.

There were hardly any golfers out and those that were had to carry their clubs. I took advantage of that by going off trail and following the edge of the fairway. I found thirteen golf balls, the most in months. One was so orange it glowed in my hand. Too orange to photograph even.

After bushwhacking I brushed off real good. It will be nice when we don’t half to worry about Lyme anymore. We have two friends who have been involve in a study at UR and they tell us vaccine they give dogs works on humans and and it is now only a matter of determining the dose.

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Nine Mile Point

My parents moved us from the city to Webster when I was ten. My father saved some money by finishing the family room and the bedroom above it himself. We made frequent trips out there when the house was going up and sort of helped my father as he cut and hung the paneling in the two rooms. The bedroom was designated for my three youngest brothers. The five of us boys were sharing one bedroom in the city.

The housing development was in an old corn field and it was surrounded by corn fields. Webster, pre-Xerox, was a real frontier. They had not yet built the bay bridge so the two routes we took were Empire Boulevard and the “the Dugway,” Browncroft Boulevard. Empire Boulevard, which starts in the city as Clifford Avenue, was a three lane road. The middle lane, a turning or passing lane, was shared by traffic in both directions. There was a gas station near Howard Johnson’s in Eastway Plaza where they collected the head-ons.

We lived on the other side of the four corners on the fringe of the village. 250 or Webster Fairport Road was called North and South Avenue when it crossed the four corners. And somewhere in there it was called Nine Mile Point Road. I always pictured the point as the the big sand cliff overlooking Lake Ontario. It was just to the east of Andy Finn‘s cottage, sort of across Lake Road from that little grocery store between 250 and Philips Road.

There was a little creek there, labeled Four Mile Creek on today’s map, that flowed into the lake and it was lined with funky summer homes. Andy Finn’s father owned the Texaco Station in town. His family rented a big green cottage on Lake Ontario right near Nine Mile Point and we spent a lot of time there. His parents sat around with their friends drinking beer from the can while the flip tops piled up around them. A community of summer homes was just to the west of them, near where Hedge’s is today. It seemed like the Finns had the nicest place. Its been torn down and the whole area has been redeveloped. 

When Peggi and I moved back here in the mid seventies I revisited that spot and took these photos. I was taking a photo class at the UofR then and I used it a class project. It is interesting to me how I am still taking the same photos today. The cropping was a little clumsy but the chunky composition and flattening of the plane are still my tendencies. 

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Triple Homegrown

Triple homegrown carrot from Fruition Seeds
Triple homegrown carrot from Fruition Seeds

Peggi is watching Petra’s (from Fruition Seeds) video presentation on planting garlic. Old-timers tell us to plant on October 15th. Petra says we can even plant earlier. We plan to scoop up a wheelbarrow full of our leaf mulch and bury the cloves in the far corner of the garden.

The carrot above may have grown from three seeds. It is wider than most of our carrots but much shorter and it has three roots. We picked a bag’s worth today because someone got into our garden over night and ate most of the carrot tops. It ate nearly half a row of Jared’s lettuce and it knocked some the branches off our kale plants. Jared theorizes that the fur on the groundhogs backs has gotten so thick for winter that they can’t feel the charge when they slink under electric fence.

We took some pear shavings and a slice of plum down there to put in our Hav-A-Heart trap. We’ll report back.

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Circle Game

Bounty from our garden on October 5, 2020
Bounty from our garden on October 5, 2020

We walked in the rain this morning and then read the paper while the rain changed to hail outside. The temps are headed back up to the 70s this weekend and we’ll think about closing the pool after that.

The sun came out for the afternoon and we headed down to the garden. We noticed a groundhog by our mailbox spinning in circles. It was getting so dizzy it kept falling over only to get back up and continue walking in tight circles. We felt so sorry for it. Since our garden is in Jared’s back yard we asked him what he thought we should do about the groundhog. 

Instead of trapping him Jared thought we should just call Animal Control and have them either test it for rabies or put it out of its misery. We only got a recording at Animal Control so we left a message and didn’t know if that meant they would come or not. 

The groundhog crossed the road and Rick came out of his house so Jared, Rick, Peggi and I all watched the groundhog walk in circles. Rick considered getting his 22 out, the one he bought with S&H stamps in 1966. Jared asked Rick if he had a baseball bat and Rick brought out an aluminum softball bat. Jared grew up on a farm and he did what had to be done. I went in the garage to get a small pink flag that I picked up on one of our walks. I was going to mark the body so Animal Control could find him but when I came back out Animal Control was on the scene.

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