Open Big

Flooded boat launch at Sea Beezee, New York
Flooded boat launch at Sea Breeze, New York

My regular dentist is shy about telling me to open wider. He is so gentle it seems like he tip-toes into the room. I’ve never had a bad experience there and he has done some grisly work. In high school I went to his father in the very same building. I went out with the receptionist. His father introduced me to Novocain, a god send. 

Our childhood dentist, who worked out of the sixth floor of the Medical Arts building on Alexander, would just say, “Hold on.” And then he would grind away with his low speed drill. He would make a fist and act like it was my tooth. He’d say, “I went in here and it opened up and the cavity went this way.” He would take a break while I was in the chair and smoke a cigarette in the other room.

While I was going to school in Bloomington I went to a dentist on Kirkwood, a jovial older guy. His wife was the receptionist. I had a tooth pulled there. He gave me a sedative with instructions to take it twenty minutes before arriving for my appointment. I was on my bicycle and I barely made it there. I came to while he was struggling to extract my tooth. I remember helping him yank it out.

When I moved back to Rochester I started seeing Rocco Cupolo, a dentist my mom recommended. He remarried and had a second family so he worked a long time. Rocco’s, the Italian restaurant on Monroe Avenue is owned by his son and is named after him.

I had a root canal yesterday from a specialist. He worked furiously and continually asked me to “Open Big.” I was afraid to say anything to him for fear he would break one of those long skinny files off in my tooth. Other than asking his assistant for tools the only other thing he said was “What nice long roots you have.”

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The Eternal Light

Kenny Rogers Yard Sale
Kenny Rogers Yard Sale

Maybe it was the hot sun but this was a particularly strange yard sale. We were only here because we were walking right by it. I can’t figure out what the advantage of using those Perfect Push-Up handles would be. And ten dollars for the John F. Kennedy plate is crazy.

The “Kenny Rogers” photo, in a brown envelope previously used for “Paid Bills” was intriguing. I pulled it all the way out of the envelope. Kenny was photographed at the Rochester Airport wearing short white shorts. It was hard to tell whether the woman proprietor was suggesting you put it on eBay or whether she had researched the photo there and determined it was worth five dollars. The skinny old man figure at the bottom right was missing some fingers. The masking tape called our attention to them. But the missing fingers were taped to the base of the figurine.

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Morning Dove

Morning Dove on pool cover
Morning Dove on pool cover

We were down at the pool before the sun was up this morning, forced out of our house while Town & Country treated the perimeter for carpenter ants. It is supposed to be non-toxic, a synthetic concoction of chrysanthemum and oyster shells. He doesn’t even wear a mask. But that’s not saying much. We brought the papers, our devices and a pot of coffee down here while he did his thing.

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Perfect Dream

US Women's Nations team at Red Bull Stadium in May 2019. Rapino, Heath, Sonnet, Lavelle, Lloyd and Mewis
US Women’s National team at Red Bull Stadium in May 2019. Rapino, Heath, Sonnet, Lavelle, Lloyd and Mewis

Close-ups of the US soccer players were on the NY subway station walls when we were down there in May. Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd and Mallory Pugh. FIFA printed giant posters that were displayed on each surface of a kiosk in Red Bull Stadium when we saw the team play their last friendly before France. We had already fallen in love with Rose Lavelle, watching her play portions of matches leading up to the World Cup. I walked all around the posters looking for Lavelle but there was none. But we were thrilled to see her start. In fact it was the same lineup that started today. Lavelle is now marketable.

Rapino came through big time with a perfectly struck ball in the sixty first minute. She has an amazing amount of confidence in high pressure situations. But nobody wants to win on penalty shots.

The US’s long ball approach to the first half took the play right by Rose Lavelle time and again. But with the ball at her feet in the second half she was able to work her magic. This was an absolutely perfect dream finish! Fox won’t let me embed the video but if you follow this link to YouTube you can see the five foot four inch Lavelle take on the Dutch side herself.

Thank god for Rose Lavelle!

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Roller Coaster

Dome inside St. Mary The Protectress Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church in Rochester, New York
Dome inside St. Mary The Protectress Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church in Rochester, New York

Wonder Windows was having their company picnic in the park this afternoon. Their trucks were lined up on Log Cabin Road. They were in the same shelter that we used to have the Earring Company picnic in. We stopped to look out at Durand Lake. Someone was out in the middle with a small boat. He had his pole in the water and it looked so idyllic and then BOOM! Someone set off a loud fireworks.

We plan to blow up our last package of Roller Coaster Firecrackers tomorrow in honor of Earl, the founder of the company. He is the one pictured on the right on their storefront in Nevada in this photo. He died in a car accident a few months ago and we told his brother we’d toast him with this ceremonial mini blast..

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iNaturalist

Fallen tree on Hoffman Road.
Fallen tree on Hoffman Road.

Our backpacks were full., a lot of can goods this time, mostly beans and peanut butter and jar of tahini so they were heavy too. But we soldiered on, down East Ridge to Aman’s, on the chance they had fresh strawberries. We spotted Bob, who runs the place, and he said he had just talked with the farmer, who told him “this is the first time in fifty years that he didn’t have strawberries by Father’s Day.” Bob added, “Too wet, too cold.”

To get out of our neighborhood and up to Wegmans we have to walk by a dog at the end of our street. There are many dogs on the street but this one does not like us. He comes at us barking loudly with his teeth showing. I had a dog take my hand in and it bit down so hard I couldn’t get my hand out without shredding my fingers so I’m a little gun shy. The dog has come at us five or six times now and if the owner see’s what happens she says she’s sorry.

Today we got by the dog without a hitch and we ran into a young woman who told us she was also terrorized by the dog. She showed us the scar on her leg from a dog that had come after her while she was walking a few years back. While we were talking a large branch fell across the road. It hit the power lines and a crackling bolt of electricity shot down the line that ran just above our heads. We continued on up to Wegmans and by the time we returned the power company was restoring our electricity.

I got up on the roof to blow off all the stuff that has fallen from the oak trees and the power went off again. A large Hickory tree fell across the road behind our house. I know its a Hickory because I took a photo of the a leaf cluster and used the iNaturalist app to identify it. The same power company crew and tree surgeons came down to address this problem. We asked for the firewood and they told us we had until Monday morning to pick up the wood.

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I Love Rose

USA team in warm-ups at Red Bull Stadium, the last match before the 2019 World Cup. Rose Laverre is shown with red USA tape on her hamstring.
USA team in warm-ups at Red Bull Stadium, the last match before the 2019 World Cup. Rose Laverre is shown with red USA tape on her hamstring.

Finally coming up for air after the World Cup’s twelve opening matches. Yes, we watched all twelve matches. We only manage by time shifting most of them. Our recording of the Sweden Chile game, which was 0-0 when thunder caused a delay, ran out before the game was resumed. Sweden should have run away with that one but the fact that they didn’t made it all the more exciting. Japan Argentina went scoreless in a thrilling match where technical expertise was stuffed by a brilliantly stubborn defense. 

Brazil, with almost the full squad returning, is the most colorful and one of our favorites, even with Saint Marta on the bench.. We are partial to Spain but realistic. France and Germany both look tough and Canada could get to the final four. The Italy Australia matchup has been the most fun to watch but the Cup is still in the early stages.

Even the lopsided US Thailand match was fun to watch. Especially because Rose Lavelle got two! We have the best team ever by a long shot but the whole world is getting better. 

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Big Picture

Mary Rouse artwork in Colleen Buzzard Studio
Mary Rouse artwork in Colleen Buzzard Studio

My cousin showed me the family tree data base that she is building on Ancestry.com. She did their DNA test, they confirmed she was 100 percent Irish and they have been providing hints as to further family connections. She found some real surprises, relatives she didn’t know we had. I don’t like the idea of having to subscribe to a service. There is completion, 23 and me for instance, but if I do Ancestry she can share all her work with me.

My father built a family tree the old fashioned way, by going to court houses, libraries and cemeteries, and his database is on a hard drive. I wish there was a way for all these databases to share information with each other but then that would be too much like Big Brother. I’m not looking for a new hobby but I would like to see the big picture.

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Helicopters And Tumbleweed

February 8th tree at the end our street
February 8th tree at the end our street

I positioned our sledge hammer in from of this stump so you could get some idea of the scale. This oak tree fell on Peggi’s birthday. It took down the power lines and trapped our whole neighborhood. The power company cleaned it up but there was three log lengths of good firewood still on the base so Peggi and I went down there with our chainsaw, the one we bought from John Gilmore when he retired. It has a sixteen inch blade and it wasn’t quite long enough to cut halfway through. We wrestled with this one for a few hours.

In our neighborhood it is all tumbleweed. We have a lot of oaks and they are dropping the male flowers called catkins. It gathers in big clumps. One block over it is all helicopters from the Maple trees.

We are addicted to walking and always looking for a destination. Today we took Peggi’s sax over to Carl’s place. He used to run the musical repair shop next the Little but works from home these days. We caught him just before his busy season, when high schools drop off horns that have taken a beating. Peggi’s sax needed a new cork, the lining between the brass horn and her mouthpiece. Carl did it while we waited.

We estimated he was an hour away but it was more like an hour and twenty minutes. And we were wrong about which route was quicker. We went down Center Entrance, through the park on Log Cabin and along the lake to Colebrook and then up Oakridge to Carl’s place. We guessed that was the quicker route but coming back by continuing on up Oakridge and then down Pinegrove to the end where we picked up what’s left of Edgerton Road, behind the sewage treatment plant and across the golf course to Hoffman Road was much quicker.

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A Bigger Desire

More town infrastructure work with orange cones on Hoffman Road
More town infrastructure work with orange cones on Hoffman Road

The horseshoe pits are just getting broken in. My neighbor and I have only played three times this year so the earth is still a little firm. We play best of three and I have not won a set yet. The stakes are higher this year. My neighbor suggested that the loser bring a beer for the winner to the next match. I am running out already.

The pits are in my front yard and we have been playing for about ten years now. We are pretty evenly matched but he has a bigger desire to win and I’m realizing how important that is. I can’t remember what the score is so he keeps it. All I have to do is concentrate on that post but it is not as easy as it sounds.

Margaret Explosion plays the Little Theater on Wednesday. Here is a song from last week. Pete LaBonne plays piano.

"Rosary" by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre Café on 05.15.19. Peggi Fournier - sax, Ken Frank - bass, Pete LaBonne - piano, Phil Marshall - guitar, Paul Dodd - drums.
“Rosary” by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre Café on 05.15.19. Peggi Fournier – sax, Ken Frank – bass, Pete LaBonne – piano, Phil Marshall – guitar, Paul Dodd – drums.
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We Are On The Edge

Dandelions and Forsythia in bloom on walk to Wegmans.
Dandelions and Forsythia in bloom on walk to Wegmans.

We went a graduation party yesterday in my parents’ old neighborhood and drove by their house before settling in at the party. This is the time of year I would usually help them hang their canvas awnings, something I called the “Awning Ritual.” The awnings are still up in the garage and their house looks empty of life.

We arrived at the party when the band pulled up. I asked the drummer what kind of music they played and he said, “Americana.” They set up in the backyard and sounded really good. But it is curious to me that in 2019 so many bands play the same batch of old songs, a mixture of the Band, Hank Williams, Jimmy Dale Gilmore, Statler Brothers, etc. It’s as if they are trying to enshrine some heritage instead of developing something new. Maybe all this devotion will lead somewhere. I loved all that stuff in the day but comfort food makes me nervous.

During Jeff Spevak’s book release party at the Record Archive, while the Americana band was playing, I wandered around the store. I had read a review of the Art Ensemble’s new record that morning and looked around for the Jazz section. In the “A’s” I found a row of Louis Armstrong cds about a foot and half deep. And then tucked behind that one. the Art Ensemble cd, “We Are On The Edge, A 50th Anniversary Celebration.” I love the record and marvel at their forever forward movement.

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Walking Club

View from eastern side of Genesee River in Rochester, New York
View from eastern side of Genesee River in Rochester, New York

I’m so happy Kathy suggested walking the eastern bank of the Genesee yesterday. It was a perfect day and the perfect time of year to take in views of the river since the tress are just beginning to fill in. We parked the car in Herrema’s on Pattonwood and walked directly to the river. The path has a variety of surfaces and is obviously tended to but not fussed over. No signage and plenty of places to get dangerously close to the steep banks.

We walked up to the Zoo and turned around at the pond in Seneca Park. The river banks here are remarkably free from development There are dreamy views of backyards on Van Voorhis in the Flats and a giant Budda overlooking a pond near Sagamore Drive. Salmon are swimming upstream to lay their eggs and we crossed a small tributary running into the river where fish, two and three feet long, were trapped in tangled cables. I wish someone would address that situation.

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Black Label

Mike Caramana, Paul Dodd and Dick posing in Domas home in Greece, New York. Photo by Burr Lewis for Democrat & Chronicle
Mike Caramana, Paul Dodd and Dick posing in a Domas home in Gatese, New York. Photo by Burr Lewis for Democrat & Chronicle.

At Wednesday’s Debbie Kendrick gig I was chatting with Frank and his friend Jim about some plumbing that Jim was doing on his mother-in-law’s house. Frank said something that indicated he didn’t think I was very handy. I was a bit taken aback but mostly I was thinking how it was that I project that image. I’ve known Frank since high school.

It was the summer before my junior year when I worked for Virgila and Sons. We framed houses, the rough carpentry as opposed to finished carpentry. Plywood had not taken over. The walls, floors and roofs were constructed with three quarter inch, tongue and groove boards. We’d stop for coffee in the morning and have sweet rolls toasted on the grill. On Fridays we’d drink beer at quitting time. They asked me what kind of beer I liked and I said, “Carling,” probably because I like the Mabel, Black Label commercials. They laughed and called it, “nigger piss.”

After I dropped out of college, around the time I met Peggi, I worked for Mitchell Construction in Bloomington. I wanted to do carpentry but they needed someone on the concrete crew. The company wanted to do work for the University but all thirty of their workers were white. They had to hire a black person to get a contract. Wayne had just got out prison for accidentally sandwiching someone between the car he was driving and another. Involuntary manslaughter. Three of us spread stone around and poured and finished concrete sidewalks, garage floors and basements. After the first week one of the carpenters asked me what it was like to work with a nigger.

When we moved back to Rochester I got a job for another, small family run construction crew, Caramana Construction, a father and two sons. We built a hundred or so Domas tract homes in Gates and Spencerport. There were three models with slight variations, a center entrance Colonial, a split-level and the cheapest, a raised ranch.

Mike, one of the sons, took on some the homes himself while his father worked on another home with a few other guys. The three of us, above, would put up a house like this in three days! And then we’d come back and plop in the windows. A photographer for the D&C happened to be there this time and we wound up in the paper. Proof for Frank.

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Learn A New Lick

Armand Schaubroeck For State Senate poster at House of Guitars in Rochester, New York
Armand Schaubroeck For State Senate poster at House of Guitars in Rochester, New York

I stopped in to see Jack at the Twelve Corners bagel shop. The cashier told me to go on back. Jack was listening to to some Arabic music and franticly tending a steady stream of dough as it spilled out of a vat and onto the moving track that shapes the bagels.

Upstairs at the House of Guitars in the far back corner of the building there used to be a mound of drum hardware. The peak was ten feet high and the pile spilled toward you like an art installation. Most of it was used, stands that were taken in on trade, but if you were lucky you might find just the part you were looking for. We walked over this afternoon and found Ethan Porter in Dick’s old space, working on guitars. And that pile is growing again but its over to the left.

I was looking for the shortest snare stand I could find because I wanted to put a rack tom on it and have the tops of my snare and tom be level. I found a used top and a bottom and put them together but it still wasn’t short enough. I took it down to Jared’s and we shortened it with a grinder, drilled a new hole with his drill press and put it all together.

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It’s Impossible

Masonic building on Main Street in Aurora, New York
Masonic building on Main Street in Aurora, New York

We peeked in the windows of this old Masonic Lodge building when we were down in Aurora. They were apparently still using the place for meetings. The space was sort of an open plan like a small church. It’s one of the few buildings in The town that hasn’t been restored by the Inn owners. Standing outside the front door you could see right through the building to the lake.

In these dreamy small towns, that are at least a century past their prime, I always find myself entertaining an old fantasy, really just momentarily picturing what it might be like living in a rehabbed building in the center of town. But before it even comes into focus I dismiss it. I know it’s impossible. 

At Pete Monacelli’s opening, where a series of works were titled “Searching For Home.” he told me why he left his hometown of Albion. The scenario where he opened a space where teens could hang out only to find the principal of the school and the local cops did everything they could to shut him down pretty well sums it up.


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Fire And Ice

Winter Aconite in full bloom for the past week 2019
Winter Aconite in full bloom for the past week, 2019

My father first identified this flower for us. We were stunned to see it bursting through the snow. I started keeping track of the date each year when we first see it and last year it was February 22nd. I posted a picture of the Winter Aconite then and in that post I see I mentioned “the amount of plastic that scientists found in tiny fish at the bottom of the ocean.” This morning I read about a big fish, a whale in the Philippines, with eighty-eight pounds of plastic in its stomach.

We could all have a much lighter footprint.

I have neglected the website, theRefrigerator.net, long enough and am in the process of taking it down, reducing my digital footprint. I’m keeping a few things and this morning I finished moving my favorite piece, Shelley Valachovic’s artist journal entitled “A Year In The Woods,” to a safe location.

Shelley and Pete's handmade home in the woods.
A Year In The Woods – Illustrated and written by Shelley Valchovic.

This is a blueprint for a lighter footprint and so much more. Shelley’s watercolor illustrations of the local plants, fruit, leaves and mushrooms that surround them in their Adirondack home are gorgeous. We bought the original of the image below at a show of Shelley’s work in Troy. Shelley’s text, the beautiful journal entries, charts the Adirondack seasonal offerings. Here is a passage from mid March.

Ball Galls on Goldenrod (Solidago spp.)
Ball Galls on Goldenrod (Solidago spp.)

“The chipmunks came out today all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, two of them running like madmen between the shed, the lodge, the fireplace, and back to the shed again. They must have calendars in their underground winter hideouts, for they are right on schedule. Or perhaps they can sense the thaw, feel the softening of the ground, or maybe their ceilings have started to leak.”

I’m guessing that Shelley and her partner, Pete, are syruping down today. In her March entry, she notes that water freezes at a higher temperature than sugar, separating the goods before you boil it down. See “A Year In The Woods.

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Seneca Country

View of Irondequoit Bay from the back of the Bay Side Pub
View of Irondequoit Bay from the back of the Bay Side Pub

In another two weeks the outlet bridge will swing open and you won’t be able to walk into Webster again until November. We walked over the bridge and on to the spit of land separating Lake Ontario and Irondequoit Bay. Summer homes used to line both sides of this peninsula but most of the ones on the north side have washed away. There is a nice foot path that parallels the road where the former Hojack tracks were. It comes to an end by a historical marker on the spot where Denonville’s French army landed in 1687 when they invaded Seneca country.

One year ago we circumnavigated the Bay on foot. We were preparing for the big walk across Spain. Excitement was in the air. Anything was possible. And nothing has changed.

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Sparky Dot Com

"Sparky Goes To A Gig" - Sparky painting by Paul Dodd. House Paint on Wood 43"w x 72"h 1992
“Sparky Goes To A Gig” – Sparky painting by Paul Dodd currently hanging on the wall at Murphy’s Law on Empire Boulevard in Rochester, NY. House Paint on Wood 43″w x 72″h 1992

In August of 2000 Steve Orr of the Democrat & Chronicle wrote a review that started with, “My favorite part of theRefrigerator might be the step-by-step pictorial on how to burn a pistachio. ‘These nuts, my favorite food in the world, flame like little flares when set afire.’ Or maybe it’s the painting entitled ‘Sparky Shows Me His Colostomy Gag.'” 

Last year Maureen told us she spotted some Sparky paintings hanging in a bar on Empire Boulevard. I had wondered what happened to the series of paintings I did back in the early nineties. Cheryl Laurro displayed them in the widow of Godiva’s on Monroe Avenue and the owner of Oxford Pub, across the street, bought them. I hadn’t seen them since.

We were meeting friends at Proietti’s in Webster last night so we left a little early and stopped by Murphy’s Law at the bottom (or is it the top) of Irondequoit Bay. We found three paintings on the walls in the main room, “Sparky Shoots A Sewer Rat,” Sparky Cooks The Kielbasa In His Own Special Sauce,” and “Sparky Goes To A Gig” above. I was surprised how big they were.

Sparky had been on my mind lately. He passed away in November and I recently moved the mini website devoted to Sparky, to a new responsive html location.

It took me quite a while to warm up to Sparky, our next door neighbor for twenty seven years, but once we became friendly I amassed quite few photos and paintings of him along with a collection of “Sparky capsules,” a short sentence foundation for a painting. Sparky knew he was a character and he cultivated his persona with fantastic stories. See “Sparky Dot Com.”

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Love/Hate

Snow covered treetop in Durand Eastman
Snow covered treetop in Durand Eastman

Our neighbors have someone staying at their house while they are down south and I saw him out brushing his car off this morning. He said “I’m sick of this stuff.” We were headed out skiing and loving this stuff.

We had about six inches overnight and it was about fourteen degrees so the snow was light and fluffy, fluffy enough for us to risk skiing down the steep hill behind our neighbor’s house and into the woods. Out on the golf course we got on one of the groomed trails. We saw another neighbor out there skiing with his wife. He said this was the best day all winter. The sun was out and it was so beautiful we did a lot of just stopping and standing around.

Tomorrow we start the official countdown to Saint Patty’s, the unofficial first day of Spring.

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Babysitting Tonight

Peggi with backpack under 250 year old old tree on Culver Road
Peggi with backpack under 250 year old old tree on Culver Road

There is no way this tree, in front of the Church of the Transfiguration on Culver Road, is coming down in the windstorm that is currently howling outside. It has been here since before the Declaration of Independence was signed. The sidewalk which was already moved is being shoved aside again. We’ve walked by this tree three days in a row now, on trips up to Wegman’s, the bank and then the library.

We had the 1959 movie, “Jazz on a Summer’s Day,” in our Netflix queue for months and there is still a “Very Long Wait.” They must only have a few copies. I found it listed in the collection at our library so we headed over there. We’re always looking for a walking destination. I remember really liking the opening number by Jimmy Giuffre, Bob Brookmeyer and Jim Hall. And the Monk performance in the movie we just watched was so good I need more. Once we got home with the dvd I found the full movie on YouTube.

The temperature was up in the fifties earlier but it is dropping fast. An inversion that may cause gusts over 70 miles an hour. We’re planning on going out to hear Kahil with the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble at the Bop Shop tonight but if a tree drops on the power line we’ll be babysitting our neighbor’s generator. PopWars will go dark.

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