Garden Party

Backyard garden along Maplewood Avenue backs up to Genesee River gorge.
Backyard garden along Maplewood Avenue backs up to Genesee River gorge.

Today is the feast day of Santiago, the patron saint of Spain. We’re celebrating with a hearty Spanish dish, something we plan to eat in front of the tube while watching Spain play Australia at the Tokyo Olympics. We’ll have some Spanish wine and and desert (something we rarely do.) Peggi borrowed our neighbor’s spring-form pan and made a Tarta de Santiago.

We haven’t watered our garden in weeks. We’ve had plenty of rain just when the trees need it as they try to kick out another set of leaves after the moth defoliation. We picked a big bag of greens, kale, romaine lettuce, basil, zucchini and jalapeños for Matthew and Louise. Our neighbor, Michael Burritt, the percussion teacher at the Eastman School of Music, was playing his mallets while we picked and weeded. I have no idea if he’s practicing or working out a composition but the melodies, as beautiful as they are, never seem to resolve the way a pop or jazz tune would. We were meeting M&L in Sodus at El Rincon and just as we crossed the bay bridge we realized we had forgotten the big bag of vegetables.

The Maplewood Neighborhood Association sponsored a Garden Walk yesterday. Other than practicing in Larry Luxury’s basement back in the eighties I had not spent much time in this part of the city. The homes are stately, huge and well preserved. We started our garden walk by parking our car at Aquinas High School and walking up Dewey to the palatial Seneca Parkway.

Going west Seneca Parkway dead-ends at the railroad, which made for a well-timed bathroom stop. We crossed the street and park-like median and continued east on the opposite side of the street. There were thirty some homes on the tour and each backyard was a world unto itself. Not only gardens but swimming pools, patios, outdoor living rooms, fully appointed outdoor kitchens and cocktail bar-like settings. People live large in this part of the city. A couple who who had lived in their home for fifty years told us some of the neighbors have moved from one house to the other on the the same street.

At some point I had Rick Nelson’s “Garden Party” going through my head.

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Bounce House

Bounce house down the street
Bounce house down the street

We were planning on getting together with Bob Martin this afternoon. He was back in Rochester for a few days, we had dinner reservations for tonight and we were going to spend the afternoon setting up our in-home recording outfit, a Scarlett 2i4 and Logic. Bob called this morning to say he and his wife both had either a cold or Covid. They are fully vaccinated but he had been making the rounds. Because they had symptoms they could not get a test so they self-quarantined in their their car on the way back to Chicago.

Our neighbors asked everyone on the street if they would allow parking in their driveways this Saturday. Their oldest is graduating from high school, the same Catholic school my father and Spaz went to. They set this bounce house up this afternoon along with a big tent.

"Fe La" by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre Café on 11.20.19. Peggi Fournier - sax, Ken Frank - bass, Phil Marshall - guitar, Bob Martin - guitar, Paul Dodd - drums.
“Fe La” by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre Café on 11.20.19. Peggi Fournier – sax, Ken Frank – bass, Phil Marshall – guitar, Bob Martin – guitar, Paul Dodd – drums.
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Lymantria Dispar

Classic car sun the park
Classic car in the park

The oak leaves are a little thin along Log Cabin Road but the they are indeed coming out again, just like they did in the spring. We hear it’s hard on the trees to do spring all over again and they may not be able to do it again next year but for now it feels like a miracle. We are still seeing caterpillars and stomping on each and every one but most are tucked away in their pupa stage. Moths are emerging and the giant oak in front of the Church of the Transformation has female moths laying their eggs on the underside of its 250 year old branches. I’m afraid we are in for another round next year.

Notice I never referred to the invasive pests as “Gypsy Moths.” We don’t use the common name anymore and for good reason. Until they come up with innocuous common name for the fuckers we shall call them Lymantria dispar.

We watched a blurry YouTube copy of Todd Haynes’ “Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story” last night. The movie is officially out of circulation because of a copyright infringement lawsuit by Richard Carpenter and I can see his point. It made me uncomfortable and not in a good way. Thankfully the movie went right into a BBC special on the Carpenters. Richard, Karen’s brother and musical director reminded me of Ozzie Nelson, as square as they come, but he brought a lot to their story. And the footage of Karen is sensational. Ultimately, extremely sad but the melancholy in her voice was always what got to me.

I played the two 45s we have tonight. Superstar and Rainy Days and Mondays. I’ll wait til December to get our Carpenter’s Christmas lp out. Long live Karen!

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Survival Of The Fittest

Cicada near the pool
Cicada near the pool

We won’t put our homemade gypsy moth traps out this year. We learned that effort is pointless. In fact some speculate that the artificial pheromone may actually attract more moths to your property. We squashed a few caterpillars yesterday but didn’t see any today. Their pupas are in every nearby nook and cranny and quite a few have already emerged as moths. We found four females, the white ones, already attached to our trees with egg sacs below them. This is a 3 to 4 year cycle and we plan to address it with chemicals next year.

We secured a quote from the company that treated the guys’ trees on the next street over. Everyone is envious of their foliage, but we had a question about the quote. We are planning to entertain a treatment recommended by another company and they said they would stop out today. By chance the arborist from the first company pulled into our driveway right behind the truck from the other company. Peggi handled one and I the other. He asked me. “What’s he doing here?”

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Pi At Breast Height

Bird standing in the road amidst Gypsy Moth poop and pieces of leaves
Bird standing in the road amidst Gypsy Moth poop and pieces of leaves

Everybody wants what the gay guys, on the next street over, have. They still have leaves on their trees. With a little detective work we learned they had their trees injected with pellets in April, just before the leaves came out. You can see the tips of the casings for the pellets, filled with an Acephate formula and inserted every four inches around their trees. The tree will eventually close up the small holes

This bird, in the middle of the road in front of our house looks stunned. He’s standing in caterpillar poop and pieces of leaves, what’s left of the leaves from our trees. The gypsy moth caterpillars, bloated from feasting on our oak leaves, are curling up in their pupa stage. The worst is over. In a few weeks the air will be full of brown male moths in search of the white female moths who don’t fly but lay egg sacs that will hatch in the spring with up to thousand new caterpillars.

Ken from High Falls Tree service came out this morning and determined the DBH, diameter at breast height, of our trees. He uses a two sided tape that calculates the diameter as he measures the circumference. The inch markings on the back side of his tape are simply 3.14 times as long as an actual inch. This is why we spent so much on Pi in geometry class.

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Life Line

Roll of string from a garage sale
Roll of string from a garage sale

We have had this roll of string since the late seventies. It has to be the best item we have ever bought at a garage sale. It was quite a bit wider then, almost as wide as the base so you see how many usages we have found. I remember being attracted to it because I had watched my grandfather wrap so many pieces of meat behind his butcher counter.

We took it down to the garden this morning in order to tie our tomato plants up again. They are all about three feet tall. We started our walk at the garden and continued on from there so I carried the string the whole way, stopping to take this portrait on a sidewalk. Peggi said she hopes we last as long as the string.

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Colony Collapse

Neighbor picking gypsy moth caterpillars off of her tree
Neighbor picking gypsy moth caterpillars off of her tree

Peggi and I have been busy concocting scenarios where the invasive species (Garlic Mustard, Black Swallow Wort, Angelica, deer, the white Mute Swans and especially the gypsy moth caterpillars turned on one another instead of picking on our natives species. And in the end the last of them would be poisoned by ingesting the previous.

I awoke from a nightmare where I was battling a new one, something that had covered the ground on our property. I was pouring buckets of liquid on top of it in the dark of night. I was losing the battle and it was really hard for me to shake the experience and convince myself that it was safe to go back to sleep.

Just one block away our neighbor, the one with the three-legged dog, was picking the gypsy moth caterpillars off her maple tree with tweezers. Tweezers! The catepillers typically go for the oaks but when they’re bare they will eat almost anything. We have bands of Glad Wrap around our oaks with a strip of vaseline in the middle and the caterpillars gather below that line by the thousands. I’ve been sweeping them into a bucket of soapy water and letting them die in there. An hour later there will be a thousand more below the line.

A block away from the scene above our oaks are bare. If we believed in the power of prayer we would be praying for the colony collapse.

Oak tress in June after gypsy moths stripped them of their leaves
Oak tress in June after gypsy moths stripped them of their leaves
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Ambulance Blues

Blue boat in bay by Newport Yacht Club
Blue boat in bay by Newport Yacht Club

Seneca Road, Point Pleasant, Titus Avenue and Norton all wind their way down to the bay before coming to an end. They are all great walk destinations. Seneca is one of our favorites. We were just down there last week looking in on the progress of the expensive new home someone is building on the bay.

We just missed the woman who stole an ambulance in Utica, drove west on the NYS Thruway, got off in Rochester and headed north on 590. And like she knew exactly what she was doing she turned right at the Seneca Road traffic circle, barreled down the steep hill and drove through the gate on the boat launch right into the bay.

WHAM has some pretty cool video footage.

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Pete!

Peter Monacelli 2011 iMac2011 rearranged
Peter Monacelli 2011 iMac2011 rearranged

I am so happy to have met Pete Monacelli. He has enriched my life in so many ways. I helped him migrate from a 2011 iMac to one of the new M1 chip iMacs. We did it the old fashioned way, connecting to his wifi and dragging files across the network. Finding passwords was a problem but we eventually got it. “What am I gonna do with this thing,” he asked, pointing to the antiquated iMac. I told him I would take care of it next time.

We stopped by last night and Pete was listening to Bitches Brew on YouTube. Coincidentally we had had been playing the lp at home. When I first heard that record I thought it would change all music to follow.

“Miles Runs the Voodoo Down” came on and Pete went through his files to show me a photo of a painting he made in 1972 with the same name. And then he said, “Come over to my studio. I want to show you this sculpture I made.” We walked across the street and Pete opened the garage door. On his bench was his 20011 iMac, rearranged.

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Walkin’ In The Rain

Mama turtle on the golf course
Mama turtle on the golf course

Animals let it all hang out when it rains. We walk everyday regardless of the weather and even a gentle rain keeps most people inside. But we are guaranteed to see more wildlife when it rains. Turkeys and deer don’t even seem to notice the rain.

Bull frogs usually shut up when you get close to them. We stopped on the boardwalk over Tamarac Swamp this morning and Peggi took a movie of the bullfrogs below calling to one another. It stopped raining by the time we got to the beach and the lake was calm and dreamy with grey masses over Canada. It started raining as we walked on the sand. The cleanup crew had not been out so the beach was littered with colorful plastic toys and packaging, blankets, bottles, partially charred firewood and a pair of women’s sandals.

The trees are more colorful in the rain and easier to look at without all that sun. We came back along Eastman Lake. The white mute swans catch your eye. They are beautiful but invasive and they bully the other birds. The pair that has been at the southern end of the lake all spring had their babies and the whole family was out in the middle of the lake. A big fish was thrashing about near the shore. At first we thought it was a beaver but it stayed down too long.

A few turtles had crawled out of the lake, mothers ready to pop. One had already dug a hole on the fairway and was dropping her eggs.

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Funny Suits

Turtles sunning themselves on a  fallen tree in Durand Lake
Turtles sunning themselves on a fallen tree in Durand Lake

We were coming up from the big lake (Ontario), walking along the west side of Durand Lake, the sunny side in the morning, and Peggi was telling me about her dream the night before. Ken, Margaret Explosion’s bass player, had suggested that we all wear hat and some funny suits at our gig next Wednesday, the first since they pulled the plug on live music back in March 2020. And he wanted us each to take a drug before the performance, some pills that he got from his mother.

And then I heard a splash as a bunch of these turtles were startled by our presence. We froze and they slow climbed back on the log. If you enlarge the photo above you can see more heads sticking out of the water to the left of the fallen tree. We stayed here for a half hour or so.

Earlier we had watched one of those white swans chase a goose across the lake. Closer to home a bull frog was holding court on Trott Lake. A Pileated woodpecker was competing with the sound of a nail gun from the workers on our neighbor’s roof. Back at home Peggi checked her fortune in today’s paper and found that she “would be favorably impacted by a member of the animal kingdom today.”

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Ask Alice

Flowering bushes and trees on walking route up to Aman's
Flowering bushes and trees on walking route up to Aman’s

We rode out to Port Bay over the weekend in the the backseat of some old friends’ car. Old as in our age and due to the fact that I went to high school with one of them. We had not seen them since their trip to Mexico and we had a lot to catch up on. Traveling during a pandemic is adventurous enough but they pushed the envelope and arranged a guided psychedelic trip on an organic South American plant, Ayahuasca. It is said to trigger the growth of new brain cells and possibly treat disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s.

They took a taxi outside of town and met a young shaman and his girlfriend in a small building with no running water. They were instructed to keep their eyes closed for the entire trip, something that lasted til the sun came up. Their hallucinations were similar in that they both involved brightly colored objects, small Lego-like pieces and numbers on buildings. I was in awe that they were so trusting and so so open to this new, potentialy wild experience. Other than a few mushrooms I haven’t taken a psychedelic trip since 1969.

We walked up to Aman’s this morning and the he humidity was so low today, the cool temperatures so crisp, the flowering tress at peak color, I felt like I was tripping.

Listen to Alice by Margaret Explosion
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Triple Header

Three mice in three traps
Three mice in three traps

There must be a more humane way to get mice out of your house. A better mousetrap. Mice had free rein of our home before we bought it. The droppings were everywhere. We think one died in the furthest reaches of our oven because it took a year of baking to completely eliminate the odor.

We were watching a Perry Mason episode the other night and I was half asleep when I thought I saw a mouse scamper by. We had already heard suspicious rumblings behind the cupboards so I sprung into action. They can’t resist peanut butter. We use Wegman’s Organic Crunchy. In fact, I hear mice on death row request it as their last meal. We caught five in a twenty four period and think we’re good for another year.

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No Tocar

Victorian chairs at Gem Lab on Mount Hope
Victorian chairs at Gem Lab on Mount Hope

Before the doctor set her wrist he had his assistant cut Peggi’s wedding ring off. We were out walking last year on a perfectly dry road when one of Peggi’s YakTrax came off and caught the other. She went down fast and broke her wrist. Now that the pandemic has settled down we entered a jewelry store to have the ring repaired. They were having a Mother’s Day sale of a Victorian collection they had acquired and they brought in some furniture to kick it off.

On our way home from the beach we noticed a couple bent over some green plants. They both were carrying plastic shopping bags and the man was cutting cutting something. We thought maybe they were foraging for mushrooms so I asked “What have you found.”

When they turned back toward us it became clear that they had no idea what I had just said. You know that look. I tried again. Blank faces. I know how they felt. I’ve felt this way many times in Spain. With hand gestures and Asian flavored words the man communicated that they were picking these weed-like greens for soup. Peggi reached down to pick one and the man said, “No.” He held up his hands and showed us he was wearing gloves.

After the couple moved on Peggi used her iNaturalist app to identify the plant as nettles, something we have been stung by in the past.

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Brooklyn Strong

Jared's fish being fed by Peggi
Jared’s fish being fed by Peggi

I mention this every year but it is a good excuse to link to this photo of Peggi with a Mint Julep at the Kentucky Derby in 1973, our first date, the year Secretariat won. We’re going with Brooklyn Strong in today’s derby despite the 40/1 odds.

Our neighbors left us in charge of feeding their fish while they’re out of town. These guys all survived the winter but the water temperature was only 50 degrees this morning so they were a little sluggish.

Peggi’s is doing grand jury duty for a few weeks and it has been an education for the both of us. The process seems lopsided to first timers. The prosecutors present their case and walk the jurors to their indictment 99.9% of the time.

So what went wrong for Letitia James’ in Rochester’s Daniel Prude case? Nearly a mirror image of the George Floyd murder and it comes back “no billed.” I don’t know much about the Rochester Beacon other than they just hired Frank De Blase as their music critic but I thought this editorial was pretty thought provoking.

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Musical Chairs

Sifted sand along beach in Durand Eastman
Sifted sand along beach in Durand Eastman

I watched the Colonel walk by this morning without her white dog. I wasn’t even sure it was her at first. She was walking so briskly. But with purple hair it had to be her. We spotted her again walking with a neighbor and without her dog. We learned her dog had lung cancer and had to be put down.

We entered the beach this morning just after the outlet from Durand Lake. It appeared someone was coming out of the water on the other side. We had a hunch that it might have been Jim Mott, a friend who is known to swim near year ’round. We walked toward him and Peggi thought she saw smoke coming from his mouth. Jim doesn’t smoke. We turned around. We talked to him later and learned he was down this way looking at warblers as they migrate through and he had taken a dip.

We had our annual pool meeting this afternoon. There has been a pool on our street since 1960 and Peggi and I are presidents (janitors) this year. One pair of neighbors is vaccine hesitant so we met outdoors. I made a fire and the wind kept changing directions so it was like musical chairs.

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Muy Excitable

Snowy magnolias on a rainy day
Snowy magnolias on a rainy day

I love rainy days. Maybe because it meant a day off when I was working construction. I love the sound of the rain on the roof. I am more productive on rainy days.

It doesn’t keep us in either. With good rain gear we never miss our daily walk. If we had stayed in today we would have missed this display up on Zoo Road. The snowy Magnolias were in full bloom yesterday and their petals cover the ground today.

We had our friends, Jedi and Helena, down for the second time this week. We were vacinated at the same time and are now filling that void. Helena made paella, Peggi made cornbread and a Tarta de Santiago and we watched El Classico, the twice yearly meeting of arch-rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona. They are two of our favorite teams so we switched back forth as the match went on. Barcelona, true to form, dominated the game with 67% possession but Real Madrid was up 2-0 at the half. With a few slip ups we went all out for Barcelona in the second half, screaming at the players to shoot. With our help they almost pulled off a tie.

We watched the first half in English and switched to Spanish at the half. The game appeared much faster and even more exciting.

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Love Call

Toads mating in Jared's pond
Toads mating in Jared’s pond

We slept with our windows open last night to take in the trilling coming from the pond next door. We ran into our neighbors out at the mailbox today and told them how much we enjoyed the sound. Jared told us there were about twenty five pairs of toads getting it down there. We had to for ourselves.

The males are usually smaller than the females and they are the ones that make all the noise. That’s how they attract the females. It works like a charm. The pond looks like a whore house with extra males calling and waiting their turn.

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Lenten Roses

Watchtower Jesus found in Durand Eastman Park
Watchtower Jesus found in Durand Eastman Park

We couldn’t decide who this guy looks like. Sort of a cross between Michael McDonald and Ricky Nelson or maybe Brian Williams from Bobbie Henrie & The Goners. Someone had left a few Jehovah’s Witness pamphlets in the pocket of the information board in the park. “Please join us for the annual commemoration of the death of Jesus Christ. The date, time and location will be Saturday, March 27, 2021. Scan code for additional information.” That’s today!

Our lenten roses are in fact blooming on Palm Sunday.

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Hard Core

Marsh on Hoffman Road in late March
Marsh on Hoffman Road in late March

High winds were forecast until 4 PM so we planned a route that would circle our house in case we had to run for cover. It was raining when we left and pouring before we got to the end of our street. A small stream of water was running along the edge of the road at the top of the big hill on Hoffman. It grew bigger on the way down. Jack Koffman was out at the road picking up his paper. We surprised him. He said, “It’s raining guys.”

There is a big drain across the street from him where the runoff goes down and then under the road before emptying into the creek. The creek was overflowing as it raced further toward the lake. Tom from Whispering Pines was out by the road in rain gear. He laughed and said, “You guys are hard core.” He pointed to the impromptu stream that was flowing across his property, run off from his son’s ATV tracks, and then to the drain that he had just freed up in hopes of keeping his yard from flooding.

By the time we got to the marsh the rain was letting up. We confirmed that it is just as pretty on a dark, wet, dreary day as it is on a sunny one. The birds didn’t seem to mind.

When the 4 o’clock hour passed we went out with a wheelbarrow and picked up sticks around the house. We use them for kindling and may just start a fire tonight now the temperature has dropped.

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