In The Offing

Amaryllis flower coming out of the top of our cupboard
Amaryllis flower coming out of the top of our cupboard

The Amaryllis blossom above is in a most unlikely location. I only discovered it while standing on a stool. The cool blueish-grey horizontal band is our white ceiling, the middle band is our muslin wall and the murky brown base is the dust covered top of our living room built-in cabinet. We usually tuck our Amaryllis plant behind the photo albums in the top cabinet for about a month in the winter so the bulb can go dormant but we forgot about it this year and the white stalk grew out the crack between the cabinet and wall where it found enough light to blossom.

1975 and 1999 were also Years of the Rabbit where luck, hope and good fortune are in the offing.

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Wimpy Winter

Fresh snow in the backyard
Fresh snow in the backyard

The number of times we’ve have walked through Durand Eastman Park and only today did I pay particular attention to the sign that reads “Picnic Grove.” It’s always been there, by the yellow gate on Log Cabin Road, the gate they swing open in the winter because the road is off limits to vehicles. In the summer months it swings closed keeping cars off the stretch that connects Log Cabin to Zoo Road. All good in my book. I like the park rules,”Dogs must be leashed,” “No bikes on trails.” The Picnic Grove sign is in this section.

My mom would often pack a picnic basket, sometimes with just peanut butter sandwiches, and we would come down here when my dad got off work. All the roads were open back then. You could drive on Horseshoe Road, which is now grown over. There was a zoo on Zoo Road and the road connected to Wisner to take you right out of the park. I remember my dad driving slowly to pick out a spot where my mother could spread the blanket on the ground and it was often right here in Picnic Grove.

The Spanish SuperCopa final was thrilling. We follow three teams and Real Madrid and Barcelona are two of them but there was never any doubt who we were pulling for. Barca almost pulled off a 3-0 shutout. They controlled the ball in midfield where Real Madrid used to be dominant. Busquets, the captain, Frankie De jong and the teenagers, Pedri and Gavi played magic triangles around Madrid’s midfielders as if teasing the champions and we loved it.

We zoomed with our friends, Matthew and Louise in Hawaii. They told us about a canal near them where they walk their dog, Tricky. That night we watched an episode of Hawaii Five-0 and a chase was filmed on the canal.

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New Calendar

Witch hazel in full bloom on Zoo Road in Durand Eastman
Witch hazel in full bloom on Zoo Road in Durand Eastman

We keep an eye on this witch hazel tree. It’s right at the top of the hill on Zoo Road so we pass it often. It is one of the first witch hazels to blossom and it is also the most fragrant, like butterscotch or, more accurately, those butter rum suckers they used to sell at Charlotte Beach when we were kids. These blossoms usually come in February and we read them as the first sign of spring. We already moved the first day of spring up to Saint Patty’s and now we have the first sign on New Year’s Day.

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Tipping Point

Christmas Tree with gifts 2022
Christmas Tree with gifts 2022

My brother Mark and his wife, Amy, had a rough trip up to Rochester. They shared their location and every time we checked on their progress their ETA had moved to an hour later. They brought their little dog with them and snuck her up to their room at the top of the Hyatt. We had reservations downtown at 6:30 and I moved the reservations three times before we met them there at 10. The temperature was 6 degrees.

We took a long walk on Christmas Eve and moved several fallen branches off the road before deciding to bring a large pine branch back to serve as our Christmas tree. We had my brother, his wife and their three grown children, my sister Ann and my brother Fran over for dinner. Peggi made manicotti that was out of this world and we had a grand time.

In the morning we found a gift under the tree from Mark and Amy, Ada Calhoun’s book, “Also A Poet: Frank O’Hara, My Father, and Me,” about her difficult relationship with her father, Peter Schjeldahl and his difficult relationship with the poet, Frank O’Hara. Meaty material. Peggi’s sister sent us some bowls from Bauer in LA and Duane sent up an incredible book of June Leaf’s rough and tumble multi disciplined artwork. We devoured large portions of both. We bought the New York: 1962-1964 book for ourselves. The show at the Jewish Museum was on our short list of things to do the last time we were in the city but we ran out of time. The book is jam packed with snapshots of American culture in this narrowly focused tipping point.

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Nicole!

Nicole Zabelny sitting for her portrait 1912
Nicole Zabelny sitting for her portrait 1992

Our niece, Nicole Zabelny, died thirty years ago. Her heart was enlarged. I babysat for her and her two sisters on Wednesday nights for almost three years while my sister, Ann, was working as a hostess at Waldron’s in Webster. I would leave work early and ride my bike out there, down the big hill on Browncroft or the even more dangerous one on Empire Boulevard. I’d play with the kids, feed them, struggle to get them wound down and in bed and then put a baked potato in the oven for my sister to have when she got home. I’d have a beer with my sister and Peggi would come out to take me home in the car. I loved every minute of it. Nicole was always a delight. She was very creative, talked of becoming a writer, and had big plans for her life but it was cut short. Way too short.

Just before she got sick, she asked me to paint her portrait. I said I’d bring my camera out the next Wednesday and take a photo to work from. Nicole made a big deal of the sitting, picking the white chair on the porch as the location and wearing her favorite t-shirt and then spending over an hour in the bathroom putting on make-up. She was twelve. By the time she was ready to sit down it was getting dark and there was barely enough light for the film in our old Canon FTb. I had the film developed when the roll was finished but Nicole was already gone by then. She was such a positive force. She will never be forgotten.

Sample spread of Nicole Zabelny's eBook "Counting at the Circus"
Sample spread of Nicole Zabelny’s eBook “Counting at the Circus”

Shortly before our niece, Nicole Zabelny, passed she created a children’s book in her sixth grade art class. Her book, “Counting At The Circus” is available here as a free download.

Download eBook of “Counting At The Circus“”

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Zen And The Art Of Stacking Wood

Pete and Shelley's wood pile 2008
Pete and Shelley’s wood pile 2008

Pete and Shelley set the standard by which we judge woodpiles. Off the grid in the Adirondacks, they thin their property for heat in the long winter months. Their stacks are worthy of a Chelsea art gallery installation.

Jared's wood pile 2010
Jared’s wood pile 2010

Our neighbor, Jared, a retired chemist for Eastman Kodak, puts wood up not like an artist but like a scientist. We turn to him for advice on all matters practical.

Our woodpile in 2020
Our woodpile in 2020

After two 75 year old oaks came down out back this spring Peggi and I had a record amount of wood, more than in 2020 when the picture above was taken. Instead of walking we’ve been chipping away at the pile each day for the last two weeks. We strap on our Home Depot noise cancelling headphones, cut the trunks and limbs into log length with a chainsaw, fire up the Heathkit splitter we inherited from our former neighbor, Leo and then stack the split logs. This is where it all comes together physics, geometry and risk. We have had only one pile tumble over in twenty years.

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Turning The Page

Orange cone along canal
Orange cone along canal

The tall invasive weeds have died back enough for us to take the paths though the park that parallel the golf course. We’re still waiting for that tick vaccine. Yesterday it seemed they had closed the golf course too early. Today, that decision looks prescient.

I never get much reading in before falling asleep. And I know I’m getting tired when I don’t want to turn the page. Often I’ll realize I have no idea what I just read but sometimes I just don’t want to turn the page. What I have just read is just too good. I need to savor it and drift off with fresh ideas swirling in my head.

We woke up to snow this morning. The autumn that went on so long it exhausted our plants had finally produced a frost. The gorgeous fall palette will be drained of all but brown and grey. It is up to us to provide the color in these winter months. We can’t be lazy.

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Bad Patient

Wall chart at Ear Nose and Throat doctor
Wall chart at Ear Nose and Throat doctor

All summer I swam with ear plugs. I forgot to bring them to Costa Rica and sure enough, I got water trapped behind the wax in my ear. I couldn’t hear out of my left ear at all. I went to my doctor when I returned but she was not able to flush it out. She recommended an ENT doctor and I made an appointment but in the meantime the water dried up and my hearing came back. I kept the appointment anyway but I had reservations.

The doctor has three locations and the first appointment was out in Greece. I don’t like Greece. Google maps plotted two routes, one on the expressway and the other along the lake. Both were 21 minutes. I chose the lake route and made it there in plenty of time.

Paul at Ear Nose and Throat doctor
Paul at Ear Nose and Throat doctor

I filled out a few forms and studied the watercolors on the wall, small landscapes in awkward frames. I was thinking they might have been done by someone who works there or maybe a relative. An older couple came in behind me. He was outfitted in LL Bean gear. The assistant took me back to an empty room and I sat there in this chair. At one point someone opened the door and went right to a cabinet to get something. I said hi but she didn’t say anything. I was hoping to god that she wouldn’t be the one attending to my ears.

Drawers at Ear Nose and Throat doctor
Drawers at Ear Nose and Throat doctor

I sat there for about a half hour, long enough to study the room and take these photos. The same woman came back. Not interested in small talk, she barely heard me out and said “As long as you are here we might as well remove your wax.” She pulled a white plastic hose out of the drawer, stuck in my ear and turned on the vacuum. I squirmed as she worked the hose in and I pictured my eardrum popping if it went in any further. She acted annoyed and said, “Let’s try the other ear.” I squirmed again and she said, “I can’t do it if you keep moving. It’s too dangerous” and she put the equipment away. She walked out in a huff and said, “Have a nice day.”

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Upside Down

Smoke stack near REI along Erie Canal
Smoke stack near REI along Erie Canal

We are having a most unusual autumn in New York. On the day we left for Costa Rica it was as warm here as it was down there. Social media posts confirmed that it was beautiful weather while we were gone and almost two weeks later it still is. We picked more tomatoes on our first day back, and a big bag of arugula, swiss chard and peppers. Our marigolds out front have more blossoms than they had all summer.

Every other year the maples have fallen first and then the oaks but this year the maple leaves are still up there, red and yellow, while the oak leaves are a foot deep. We did one rake before we left, just so the house didn’t look abandoned, and we’ve spent the better part of our three days back raking and chewing up the piles with our mower. My watch says I walked five and half miles today and I never left home.

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The Margaret Explosion

Margaret Explosion performing at Joy Gallery August 2022. Photo by Domnika.
Margaret Explosion performing at Joy Gallery August 2022. Photo by Domnika.

John Gilmore emailed after our Wednesday gig to tell us how much he enjoyed the night. We played with Melissa Davies, a cello player, and John thought she helped take us to “A different Universe!” I had announced that Jack Schaefer might be there with his bass clarinet but that didn’t work out. Last time I saw him was during Rosh Hashanah and he was busier than ever in the bagel shop. Now that Brownstein’s has closed we may never see him again.

Phil Marshall's effects pedal board, late 2022
Phil Marshall’s effects pedal board, late 2022

Phil Marshall’s effects pedal board is forever in flux. I took photo of it last night before we started. We were there early for a change and started on time. Some nights we come away with ten songs but were were able to get thirteen on Wednesday.

Pete and Gloria are always there, usually sitting at a table up front. Pete listens intently and he takes notes in his sketchbook. I asked for copy of his thoughts last month

exotic
turkish
snake charming
india
soothing
etherial

flipping the bird to all the 150 mph jazz tunes, with style, dignity, and grace

like a flower spurting from a crack in the earth and moving up to maturity; like a time laspe photograph

And then, a copy of last night’s notes with the cello.

Contemporary and primitive
Middle Ages jazz
Monastic jazz
Meditation jazz
Prophetic jazz
Wayward jazz

A multitude of cultures
A multitude of ethnicities

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Melancholy Mood

Red garage with yellow door and blue trash can in Olcott, New York
Red garage with yellow door and blue trash can in Olcott, New York

I know this yellow. It has to be Rustoleum Sunburst Yellow. I used this paint on the metal chairs that sit outside our house, the ones that were white when my grandmother gave them to us. And I used this paint on my bike. Far from melancholy, the color looks especially good on this red garage and the blue trash containers makes the whole thing sing.

We were scheduled to have dinner at Jeff and Mary Kaye’s house yesterday. We planned to watch El Classico live (4:15 Madrid time) and then had out there but then Matthew and Louise suggested getting together for the big match (twice annual meeting of Barcelona and Real Madrid). So we invited Jeff and Mary Kaye over here. Peggi made mushroom pizza, Jeff baked an apple pie and Matthew and Louise brought grapes and champagne. The two teams were were tied for first place in La Liga before the match and as expected Real Madrid came out on top. We love both the teams but usually find ourselves rooting for the underdog

A melancholy mood permeated the midday gathering. I tried not to focus on it but came awake thing about it. Matthew has taken a managing editor’s position in Honolulu, a report to the office sort of job and this will surely be one of our last get-togethers. They moved in next door to us eight years ago and we have had so much fun over the years. We’re happy for them but will miss them. We had the intro to a Hawaii Five 0 episode cued up for them and we played that after the game.

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Funky Playground

Paul Dodd takes Shawn Chiki’s Womp Womp Machine for a spin at Playground 2022

Playground 2022 was in Buffalo’s Riverworks this year. Twenty or so artists were selected to do an installation in the old grain silos on the Niagara River. The silos have just sat here since the St. Lawerence Seaway opened. Before that Midwest grain was milled and processed and loaded on trains bound for New York City. Our favorite stop was Number 6 where Shawn Chiki had installed his ” Interactive Womp Womp Machine.” Peggi made this short video of my performance.

Interior decor of Giacomo Hotel in downtown Niagara Falls New York
Interior decor of Giacomo Hotel in downtown Niagara Falls New York

Even though it is only an hour away we planned to stay overnight in Buffalo. The Bills were playing the nearby Steelers at home so it was impossible to find a hotel room. We usually come back via Route 18, along the lake, and that would have taken us to Niagara Falls anyway so we booked a room there at the Giacomo.

We had stayed there once before and fell in love with the funkiness. While we were there we learned the hotel was owned by Carl Paladino, an unsavory character to say the least. We saw that the hotel was listed as an Elliott Property and assumed it had been sold but learned while we there that Carl is sill in charge. The view from our room, across the falls to the Canadian side was spectacular. My uncle and cousin live eight minutes away so we stopped in for a visit before getting on the Parkway.

Fireworks in Niagara Falls Ontario
Fireworks in Niagara Falls Ontario
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Bills Lose Without Ann

Bills game at Ann's 70th Birthday
Bills game at Ann’s 70th Birthday

My sister, Ann, is a big Bill’s fan. She watches each game at at her daughter’s home. That’s my sister’s son-in-law, John, at the left in this photo and that’s Ann at the lower right. The ones with the gear are people she works with. Ann’s other daughter lives in Colorado and she planned a surprise birthday party for her mom at the White House Lodge in Webster Park. Peggi and I were tasked with inviting Ann out for lunch, a ruse, and then getting her to the party in the middle of the Bills game! We had heard from John that Ann said, “I love Paul and Peggi but why did they have to invite me out during a Bills game?”

We had the game on the radio when we picked her up so wouldn’t miss a play. The Bills won their opener against last year’s Super Bowl champs, they beat Tennessee in their second game and they were tied 7-7 with Miami when we picked Ann up. We drove out Lake Road and when we passed Webster Park I announced I wanted to stop and take a photo. I pulled right up to the White House door and Peggi said “It looks like someone is having a party.”

It was pouring rain but I got out and pretended to take a photo. I wasn’t sure how we were going to get Ann out of the car. I waved to the people inside to come on out but I couldn’t tell if anyone even saw me. I asked Ann to get out and we walked to the door just as Leonard, Ann’s work buddy, came out. He held the door open and everyone screamed. There were about a hundred people inside. I thought my sister was going to have a heart attack but she was just overjoyed. She watched bits and pieces of the game on this tiny screen. The Bills lost by two points but my sister had a ball.

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26 Racoons

59 T- Bird ready to roll
59 T- Bird ready to roll

Our neighbor down the street told us he caught twenty-six raccoons this summer. Early on, they were digging trenches in his lawn so they could get at the grubs below. He found some sort of natural grub treatment and they stopped burrowing but they continued to stop by and shit on his deck so he kept baiting the have-a-heart trap. The raccoons come out at night and he only has one trap so that means 26 calls to animal control and 26 round trips for the town worker. Whether or not it is the same raccoons coming back is still a matter of debate.

Peggi and I just finished a spurt of tech support duty. We ordered a new computer for my brother and set that up. It is easier than ever these days if you’re synced to the cloud. My brother was but his desktop was using one id and his phone was using another. Once we figured out why the two devices had different photos, documents etc. it took some doing to merge the two. An artist friend sent an email to a group asking for help with an unusual issue. His photos were duplicating themselves. He had duplicates alright but I’m not sure the photos were the ones doing the duplicating. We suggested he just select the rows of duplicates and just delete all but the first one. That seemed to work. Our friend, Brad, dropped his laptop and cracked the screen so we helped him write a backup before sending it in for repair. He told us he didn’t want to use the cloud for some reason and we told him there are 850 million iCloud users for a reason. Turns out he was using the cloud with his phone without knowing it so we put the contents of his laptop up there too.

I hope a few readers were able to download and enjoy Anne Havens art books. Six of them are available for downloads now and Anne is rounding up some more for us to turn into eBooks.

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Sleeping Through The Holocaust

Number 9 off Peart Avenue
Number 9 off Peart Avenue

We walked over to Kathy’s yesterday but she wasn’t home. We met the brand new baby, Vida, in her mother’s arms on the front stoop of the house next door and then wandered around the neighborhood. This is one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city, so laid back it feels like vacation homes unless someone tries driving an ambulance into the bay.

I was hoping Ken Burns wouldn’t use Peter Coyote again as the narrator for his “The US and the Holocaust” series. As intense and disturbing as the material is, Coyote’s cadence puts me to sleep. We had just watched the 1999 version of The Haunting where Liam Neeson rounds up insomniacs for a sleep study in an old house plagued by paranormal special effects. Bruce Dern was the best thing about that movie but he was only in it for a few minutes. Coyote has a cure for insomnia. The Ken Burns footage of Hitler, Lindbergh and “The Radio Priest” made it clear how little has changed.

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Power Of Prayer

Praying Mantis in Hoffman Road
Praying Mantis in Hoffman Road

I’m thinking this guy, in the middle of Hoffman Road, is praying he won’t get run over.

Almost a week since I checked in here. Where did that week go? The weather changed and the summer job jar was near full so we took advantage of the cooler temps to tackle household/yard projects we had been putting off for months. Some, like pulling the invasive wisteria vines out of the hillside, left us near exhaustion.

But there was always time in the day for a European football match. Between La Liga matches and the Champions League one of our our three teams played each day on rewind.

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Death To The Inner Loop

View looking north from 24th floor of former Xerox Headquarters
View looking north from 24th floor of former Xerox Headquarters

I think that is the lake out there and our house somewhere on the horizon at the upper right. Tim Schapp used to have a view like this when he worked in the Lincoln First Bank, the white building on the left of this photo. Innovation Square, the former Xerox corporate headquarters, was our first stop on Saturday’s Rochester Landmark Society tour. This is the view from the shared office space on the 24th floor. We visited the gaming center on a lower floor and then an apartment before moving on to four other buildings. The repurposed, former industrial spaces were the most interesting. The newly constructed apartments are nice but a little too orderly.

To an old guy who grew up here it is just amazing how many living paces there are downtown now. Of course that goes along with the large scale exit of retail and office workers.

What you don’t see in this photo is the eastern portion of the old Inner Loop. The city listened when Chuck Cuminale led the crowd at Colorblind James gigs in the “Death to the Inner Loop” chants. The powers that be filled half of it in and apartment buildings sprung up overnight.

The recent “Clarissa Uprooted” show at City Space made it clear how destructive the highway boom was to cities like ours. But as Adam Paul Susaneck put it in an article in this morning’s paper, “It’s heartening that a few places show that change is possible. In Rochester, N.Y., the east side of a massive highway loop that cuts through the city’s Black community and walls part of it off from downtown has finally been demolished, the street grid stitched back together and affordable housing built on the site where the highway used to run. And yes, in many cases, cities should follow Rochester’s lead. “

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Arugula Rules

Pickled eggs under blue light in the kitchen
Pickled eggs under blue light in the kitchen

Arugula likes Rochester. It’s hardy and rugged. It has a biting sense of humor. We generally do three plantings. It pops out of the ground in early spring, mid summer and early fall and you can start picking it almost immediately. It adds character to green salads where you would be hard pressed to taste the difference between Gentilina, red and romaine lettuce. On its own – a small pile of arugula, lightly tossed in olive oil and spritzed with fresh lime juice and a touch of salt – it is a rock star.

Monica made fresh pickles with the young cucumbers they grew and for the past few years she has given us a jar. She suggests that we wait at least a few days for the vinegar to permeate the pickles. She knows how much I love these so I count the days. Peggi doesn’t really care for them. I put them on my boiled egg and toast in the morning and make the jar last a at least a week. And then I boil a few eggs at once and put them in the brine. They get better each day.

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Oak Pie

Oak tree next door with metal stains
Oak tree next door with metal stains

Monica counted 90 rings in this oak. They had to take it down because the Gypsy Moths did it in. We’re guessing that Leo, the guy that built their house, probably had a big hook in the tree, something to tie his dog up with, and the tree swallowed up the hook and left these stains in the wood.

Baltimore Oriole nest on the ground near the pool
Baltimore Oriole nest on the ground near the pool

We watched a pair of mourning doves build a nest in the cherry tree just outside our window this spring. We kind of forgot about it when the foliage filled in so we never saw the babies. We spotted a Baltimore Oriole making a nest in the Tulip tree near the pool down the street but then sort of forgot about it. The branch with the nest was starting to grow over the pool so the pool members decided to take it down. We extended a pole saw with another pole and managed to get it up some thirty feet. We took turns moving the pole up and down and when limb hit the ground we found this wonder.

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First Friday Aftermath

Paul and Peggi in mirror on Hoffman RoadMirror
Paul and Peggi in mirror on Hoffman RoadMirror

Corey will get a kick out of this photo. This mirror is right across the street from his house. That’s his old mattress in the driveway. We brought. back an armload of Collard greens from the garden, the regular, giant leaf plant and the Hen- Pecked version which looks exactly like it sounds. We thinned our carrots and brought back some young ones and Peggi made greens and beans with it all and we ate out on the porch with an ice cold NA Saint Pauli.

Brad Fox is back in town, temporarily living with his brother and bound for his mom’s old place once they finish a few renovations. He’s been gone a long time.

First Friday was fun. Peggi took photos and got a great one of Dominica, Tom and Barbara getting off the elevator which Colleen was operating for the evening. It was mostly a different crowd from the opening and that made it fun. Plenty of art talk. And it was hot under the gallery lights, the way it should be at the peak of summer.

The gallery is open by appointment until the end of the month and there is one more event in the space. City Newspaper ran a little piece about that.

City News article by Kate Stathis about Margaret Explosion performance in Colleen Buzzard Studio Space Friday, August 12, 2022
City News article by Kate Stathis about Margaret Explosion performance in Colleen Buzzard Studio Space Friday, August 12, 2022
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