Real Slow And Real Low

Stick bug on 8x11.5 inch paper
Stick bug on 8×11.5 inch paper

The stick bug, pictured above against an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper to show scale, dropped on my head as I was reading the morning paper on our deck. I thought it was a leaf or something and brushed it off. It fell on the paper, I brushed it on the floor and then it climbed up our window. How could something this big hang on to a sheet of glass? I looked them up and they are mostly found in tropical climates, similar to Rochester’s this summer.

The Flash are in the playoffs and I am very happy about that. They beat Boston last night and secured a spot in the finals. We couldn’t watch the match live because we had to go to the premier of “Danny Says,” a funny movie about an unlikely tastemaker, talent scout and influential magazine editor. Someone who broke John Lennon’s claim to be bigger than Jesus and helped break the Doors, the Stooges and the Ramones.

Every summer I rake the stones on our lawn back into the driveway where they were until I shoveled them onto the lawn with the snow in the winter. And each summer I ask my brother if he might have time to pour a concrete driveway. He always says he can but then he gets too busy with his stone work and another year goes by. Today he stopped by in his black, ’69 Vet. I could hear him coming, real slow down the street but with a real low purr. He took some measurements and drew a few curves on a piece of paper. It might happen.

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Make America Groan Again

Model-T near Auburn, New York
Model-T near Auburn, New York

Part of the fun of walking in the city is finding cool stuff out at the street, things people are discarding for some reason. We don’t get much of that in Irondequoit. No junk metal guys riding around in pick-up trucks, no funky old chairs out by the curb, no boxes of strange photos.

When we walk on the street around here I’m always on the look out for non organic trash. I cleaned up for Budweiser Man for years. Today I found a couple of golf balls when we crossed the course. I know where to look. I have a bowl of tiny plastic drug bags that I’ve found on Hoffman Road in the past few months. I found one today stamped with a little teddy bear. And of course there are the accompanying Swisher Sweet, Honey Berry and Acid Cigarillo packages. Another curiosity from todays’s haul was an empty airline sized, plastic bottle of Banana Liquor.

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Independence

Rainbow over Kodak corporate headquarters in Rochester New York as seen from Rhinos soccer stadium.
Rainbow over Kodak corporate headquarters in Rochester New York as seen from Rhinos soccer stadium.

We celebrated Independence Day with a walk in the park. The park was crowded but most people were clustered around the picnic areas. Music was playing, motorcycles were revving their engines, the park smelled like grilled meat. We decided to drive somewhere for a picnic of our own but first we walked up to Lake Ontario. we took the path down the west side of Durand Lake. The water lilies were in full bloom. Hundreds of them were out there floating along with the turtles and frogs. I took a bunch of pictures. Three women on horseback came up the trail. I photographed them. It was the first time we had ever seen horses on this trail. I took a bunch of photos. Coming back, along Log Cabin Road, we saw a coupe up ahead. She had a red top on and he had a blue shirt on, They both were wearing white shorts. I took a photo and Peggi asked them if they planned their outfits for the day. They said they did. We were both wearing black.

At some point I realized I had no card in my camera. The day has been set free.

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Brickyard Trail

Leo Dodd with Rochester Brick & Tile brick in driveway
Leo Dodd with Rochester Brick & Tile brick in driveway

This is a followup to yesterday’s post on Brighton’s new Brickyard Trail. This picture shows the only Brighton Brick & Tile brick my father ever found. Actually another Brighton resident, Casey Walpert, found it when he was rehabing the Skylark Lounge on Union Street downtown and he gave it to my father. We talked to a number of people after yestererday’s presentation who expressed how much they liked my father. Mario Daniele from Mario’s was the first one so say something to me. And then there were a couple of guys who had never met Leo but wanted to know more.

Richard Carstensen invited us to walk the trail with him. He is a naturalist, living and working in Alaska but back home in Brighton to help settle his recently deceased father’s affairs. He grew up near the Brickyard Trail and revisited it while he was back here. He didn’t just revisit it, he studied it in depth and prepared this amazing presentation. He told us he kept coming across my father’s work while he was doing his research and he wished they had been able to meet. Here’s his presentation about the former clay fields.

David Kramer was working on a piece on the park in conjunction with the ribbon cutting and asked a few questions about Leo. His story works a ghost tale into the mix.

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Pockets Of Beauty

Motorcycle on Lake Road in Webster, New York
Motorcycle on Lake Road in Webster, New York

The priest who celebrated the mass for my brother’s father-in-law today had a heavy Guatemalan accent. But it only made me want to listen to what he was saying. Sometimes he said things twice, clearly working on the pronunciation of his new language. There was only one alter boy, they worked in pairs in my day, and after the priest had his big host and wine he walked toward the alter boy to offer him the sacrament. The alter boy refused and my mind went wild with what his reasons were. After the service we had lunch in the Knights of Columbus hall on Barrett Drive. The road was named after Joe Barrett‘s father, the Village of Webster’s Attorney and one time mayor, Gerald R. Barrett. With Xerox and unchecked growth to increase the tax base Webster has plugged every empty lot and former farm field with chain stores and track housing. I can’t even tell where I am anymore when we drive out there.

Funny thing is when we got back from the funeral there was a message from a friend who wanted to know if we could meet her on the other side of the swing bridge, the one they swing open on April first, at Gosnell Big Woods off Vosburg Road back in Webster. This park a gem and includes an open meadow for migrating birds and old growth forest. Our Moves app says we walked for sixty minutes in the woods. There are still pockets of beauty where “Life is Worth Living.”

We would be at the Steve Reich concert tonight if we didn’t have a gig. 

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Awe

Pine tree stand in Durand Eastman Park, Winter 2016

Yesterday’s 18 inches was too much for the groomers. Peggi and I cut our own trail in Durand and that is no easy task. It is more like snowshoeing without the snowshoes. There was a lot of stopping and looking around in awe. When we got back to our computers there was an email from the Cross Country Ski Foundation explaining the process when the snow comes this fast. Their snowmobile driver has to take two or three passes without the groomer attached before he can even try hauling the groomer over his tracks.

We are are hardy woods skiers and we used to poo-poo the wide open, windblown, groomed trails on the golf course but that was then. The groomed paths provide a whole different experience. It is a different type of skiing, faster and more skate like. Also, the packed down surface stays slick when the temperature gets above freezing. I’m really gonna miss winter when it completely disappears.

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Politics

Jet plane andiron over pines in Durand Eastman Park
Jet plane andiron over pines in Durand Eastman Park

We got pretty excited about the Zoolander 2 opening on this weekend. My brother and sister-in-law were visiting colleges with their daughter and they were staying here. We thought it would be perfect for the whole family but we couldn’t get them excited about it. We settled for the Republican debate and had a good time with it.

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Reclaim Your Body

Rochester Yacht Club in below zero tempuratures
Rochester Yacht Club in below zero tempuratures

The temperature never climbed above zero today so only four people showed up for Jeffery’s yoga class but oddly, the Hangover Biscuits at Kneads & Wants were already sold out by the time we got there. The cross country ski conditions were excellent but Peggi and I were the the only ones in the park. There wasn’t another soul out there. It was absolutely beautiful today. If you click on the photo above you see the sun was even out.

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Ice Sculpture Garden

Man with camera on Lake Ontario, Rochester, New York
Man with camera on Lake Ontario, Rochester, New York

You have to keep a close eye on Lake Ontario. It looks different every time you check in on it. The upcoming warm weather is going to wreck the sculpture garden, nature’s installation, so you better stop down soon.

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N Ice

Snow covered path around Eastman Lake in Rochester, New York

OK, so this will be an abbreviated winter. In short spurts it feels like any other winter. The cross country ski conditions the last three days have been near perfect. We skied from our front door to the lake and came back along the western shore of Eastman Lake. That path, a favorite with birders, is so close to the water, parts of it are often under water, especially when the beavers have been active. And it gets so much sun the snow melts quickly. The day after a fresh snow though is always nice and today was especially nice.

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Scratch And Sniff

Durand Eastman Witchhazel blossoming in JanuaryBlossom
Durand Eastman Witchhazel blossoming in January

This year everything is different. We waited until January 18th for the first significant snowfall. Significant as in enough to cross country ski on. And we had to wait until the end of the day for sufficient accumulation. The moon was visible, the conditions were perfect and Durand’s most fragrant witch hazel, the one that normally blossoms at the end of February, was in full bloom.

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Sunday Drivers

David Bowie poster on East Avenue in Rochester, New York
David Bowie poster on East Avenue in Rochester, New York

A photo in this morning’s paper of a spunky Irene Gossin speaking in 1970 about environmental issues in front of a map of Irondequoit Bay caught my eye. She is in her nineties and went on to become Penfield Town Supervisor. The article rattled off all the issues she fought against over the years, some of them the same issues my father battled.

They described the home she and her husband built – three acres of land at the edge of a high bluff with a sweeping view of Irondequoit Creek and the wetlands that surround it. The article described the “home’s clean lines, open plan and careful situation in a copse of trees atop the bluff, concepts that Gossin said were meant to echo Frank Lloyd Wright, embraced the home’s location and, perhaps, helped inspire Gossin’s ardent defense of the wetlands so close at hand.”

I stopped right there. This must be a Don Hershey house. Sure enough Peggi found it in her database but we had no address. We have no pictures on the site and of course she is an original owner so there are no real estate photos online. We headed out to track down the house and spent the better part of the afternoon driving around. It took us to a neighborhood we had never really explored with dramatic views of Irondequoit Bay. We were essentially east of Tryon Park, south of the bay, west of Creek Street and north of the old Browncroft Boulevard.

I like to think Don Hershey’s design of the house fit Irene like a glove and she in turn was inspired to defend the beauty that surrounded her whole life.

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Winter Wonder

Tree at the end of Hoffman Road in Rochester, New York
Tree at the end of Hoffman Road in Rochester, New York

Yes, I like putting something that looks like the subject in the middle of the frame when I take a photo. Not off to one side, right in the clumsy middle. I like emphasizing the space the so called subject occupies. I’m not so interested in drawing you in any further but it is nice when you have that option. A photo of this spot would be ordinary in the Spring or Summer. The Winter palette makes this a wonder.

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BTUs

End of Hoffman Road in Rochester, New York
End of Hoffman Road in Rochester, New York

November in this part of the world can be cruel but not so this year. We’re still looking for things to do outside while the temperature pushes sixty and the skies are clear. We’ve been chipping away at a giant pile of wood, stuff we hauled home from our neighbor’s yards when they had their trees trimmed, and we have enough stacked up to go in the firewood business. The whole trick is stacking it so we can get at the oldest first, the stuff that is the driest and most ready to provide BTUs in the dead of winter.

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Mating Season

Close up of buck on Hoffman Road in Rochester, New York
Close up of buck on Hoffman Road in Rochester, New York

There are too many deer around here. They strip the low vegetation in the woods and wander into traffic looking for ornamental shrubs in people’s yards. You can’t hunt on park land so there are very few preditors. We have coyottes but not enough to keep the deer population in check. The zoo in Durand Eastman used to have deer behind fences. The zoo folded, took down it’s fences and the deer remain. The woods behind our house is like a petting zoo. That is until mating season.

You can smell deer this time of year. It is hard to tell if the bucks are having the time of their life or if they are just all bulked up to do business and frustrated. They roam the woods alone tracking small groups of does and chasing them straight up steep hillsides. They take on other males, violently banging their heads against the racks on other bucks in knock down duels. We even saw three going after each other in an open meadow over the weekend.

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Secret Sidewalk

Secret sidewalk in Rochester, New York
Secret sidewalk in Rochester, New York

We tried to find this secret sidewalk years ago. I forget who it was that told us about it but we gave up. Olga, recommended it the other day so we gave it another shot. It is not as close to Charlotte as we thought. In fact the entrance is twenty one big houses down Beach Avenue from the Charrlotte bath house. We counted so we could tell others.

The sidewalk runs behind the David Geffen style homes that line the beach, between the homes and the lake. So as you walk westward the patios and boat houses are on your right overlooking the lake and the backs of the homes are to your left. There is a statue of the Virgin Mary at the end with about ten rosarys draped over her arms. When we got there we turned around and walked back. You feel as though you’re going to interrupt a croquet game but everyone is very friendly.

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On Your Knees

Mayapple flower in shade of Edmunds Woods n Rochester, New York
Mayapple flower in shade of Edmunds Woods n Rochester, New York

There is the canopy above the woods that has almost filled out and then there is the canopy of Mayapples at your knees. I got down on my kness to take this shot of the beautiful Mayapple blossom in Edmunds Woods. I’ve been there three times this Spring with my father to follow the rapid changes. Mayapples grow in colonies derived from a single root and only the ones with two shoots produce a flower.

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Perfect Pinecone

Hilltop with tree trunk in Durand Eastman Park
Hilltop with tree trunk in Durand Eastman Park

As beautiful as they looked, in full bloom surrounded by the snow, I did not take a photo of our daffodils this morning. I “old school” savored the site. By the time we got up to the park the snow had melted and cherry blossoms took center stage. Shelley scoured the base of some exotic pine trees looking for the pinecones to serve as handles on the exquisite pine needle baskets that she makes and sells in Adirondack gift shops as well as the Memorial Art Gallery’s gift shop. The base of the Austrian Pine trees offered perfect specimens.

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Low High

Flower pot in front yard with two feet of snow
Flower pot in front yard with two feet of snow

How come Boston’s getting all the snow and we only have two feet on the ground? The grass is always whiter.

It was five below zero when we woke up this morning and it is currently an even zero. I think zero is an even number. A local dj said the record high for this day is 51 and the record low is -14 and he offered this, “I’d be curious to know if we broke a record for the low high today.” There is a whole other category of weather stats out there that are being ignored. The high lows and the low oohs for the day.

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Zen & X-Country

Freshly groomed cross-country ski trails in Durand Eastman Park in Rochester, New York
Freshly groomed cross-country ski trails in Durand Eastman Park in Rochester, New York

Donations to the Rochester X-Country Ski Foundation are in order this year. The groomed trails in the parks are the best option for skiing due to the lack of a substantial snowfall that would cushion the trials in the woods. And all that time out in the open covering a vast expanse of open land (golf course) has made us better skiers. When we first started it was clearly a trudge. I would say we skied no faster than we would move through the snow on foot. Then came a slow glide and it was much less effort than walking and we covered more ground. Now we have taken to studying the motion of skiers who ski like you would skate. We mimic them for a few strokes and then stop to marvel at the scenery.

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