Embrace It

Fall in the woods near Rochester New York
Fall in the woods near Rochester New York

I picked up a cup of coffee at Starry Nites on the way to painting class and I thought I would really make some progress but I must have been in some sort of funk because I barely accomplished anything. I spent most of the night trying different colors in this guy’s nostrils if you can believe that. The guy has a huge neck and he is looking up so there is a lot of description in those features.

I started the painting over the weekend and it developed quickly. It beginnings were so graphic and strong that it was almost done and yet I was just getting started. So if it was almost done, why did it take me all night to advance it? It is at a stage where every move has to be right on. I’ll take a photo of him and post it here when I get it right.

Maureen Outlaw announced that she was going down to the Anchor Inn to celebrate her birthday after painting class so when Peggi picked me up we headed down to the lake to meet her. She was sitting at the bar working on her second LaBatt’s Blue and a plate of chicken wings when we showed up. It was just the third day for the bartender, Amanda, who moved here from Indiana, but it seemed like a pretty comfortable scene.

It was kind of dark and dreary today but that did not get us down. In fact the woods looked more dramatic than usual when we took our walk so we embraced it.

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Lucky Old Sun

Back of the house under the brush
Back of the house under the brush

The sun never appeared today. In fact the five day forecast, as unreliable as that is, calls for rain on Saturday and Sunday and then on Monday we’re supposed to get the remnants of Ike. So we stuck close to our computers and got sort of caught up with our 4D work. I had time to sort photos that were still on my camera and found this one of the back of the house under the brush. That trim around the windows is now dark brown and I took the newspapers off tonight. We still have window trim, the doors and the porch to do when the rain stops.

I chased a couple of deer out the garden. They were eatting the tops off our tomato plants. I clapped my hands and yelled “hey” and they ran. One of them crashed into the fence but shook it off and ran. Peggi’s helping John Gilmore with his computer. He used this near government level “FileVault” encription on his files and then his “User” folder got corrupted. We were able to recue the files from his old system and we did an erase and install. John brought a fish fry over for us from Captain Jim’s in our old neighborhood. And he gave us a cd copy of the new Brian Wilsom album from vinyl.

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Bowl Of Cherries

We started Saturday by eating cherries and reading Thursday’s and Friday’s New York Times on the deck. It seemed like a nice day even though they were calling for a thunderstorm so we decided to mix mortar and grout the cracks between the stones that we had reset under our deck. Everything was going along fine. iTunes was doing a great job with the party shuffle. I mixed a small batch of mortar and we used it up in a few minutes. I mixed a big batch in a five gallon bucket and I had just spread it all out when the rain came, more rain than we have had all summer. We tried putting a tarp over the job site but everything was already under water. It dried out in an hour or so and Peggi sponged off the stones. The mortar looks ok. Whether its strength was compromised by all that water or not, we will find out.

There is something to be said for a hard day’s work of manual labor. Something like, “We’re tired”.

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Dumber Than a Box of Rocks

Pile of Medina stone in backyard
Pile of Medina stone in backyard

I quit school after a year of college and went to work for Mitchell Construction Company in Bloomington Indiana. I worked on a crew that poured concrete and my boss was called “Frenchie” for some reason. He was a good old boy who smoked Winstons, hunted quail and woke every night with a “piss hard on”. There were only three of us on this crew. The other guy, Wayne Anderson, was hired because the company, which had thirty or so employees, learned they could not win any Indiana University contracts unless they hired a black guy. Wayne had just gotten out of prison for involuntary manslaughter. He was parking in front of a bar in Indianapolis and he hit the car in front of him. That car crushed a guy who was standing in front of it. We became friends and spent most of our time wrestling.

One of Frenchies favorite sayings was, so and so is “dumber that a box of rocks””. That’s kind of unfair to rocks but I like the image. We have some old stone walls out back that have been swallowed up by the earth and we’re rebuilding them. This is some backbreaking work, trying about ten stones to fit one in each place. We started by pulling out all the old rocks and we made this big pile to pick through. Our neighbors say we should hire the Bosnians. They have some sort of reputation around here.

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Rackaholics Anonymous

Snake in the grass
Snake in the grass

I followed this snake in the woods for a while trying to get a picture. They’re fast. It looks bigger than it actually was. While we were off the trail Peggi found a five point deer rack. I guess some people go out looking for those things. One of our neighbors calls them “rackaholics”. He should know. He is one. He and his wife took a tropical vacation early this Spring and while they were gone he had a surveillance camera set up in the wetlands near his house. He’s a deer watcher and a hunter. When he came back he found some shots of guy with a Rackaholic badge on his jacket looking right into the camera.

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Magnolias and Golf Balls

Spring blossoms in Durand Eastman Park
Spring blossoms in Durand Eastman Park

We heard the magnolias were out so walked up to the park to see for ourselves. Some of them were already gone and the ground was covered with pedals. The yellow ones are still big buds. We cut through the golf course and found a couple of balls, a Dunlop and a Nike. Would much rather walk around and find golf balls than play that game.

Tonight is the first class of the Spring session of painting. I am excited about that. During the break I finished a few and revisited some paintings that I was not entirely happy with. I tried to make them better but we’ll see what the boss says tonight.

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Electric Florets

Geri McCormick Electric Florets
Geri McCormick Electric Florets

OK. So it’s raining. No excuse for not taking a walk. If you don’t get out there you won’t see the robins gorging themselves on worms or the one legged turkey doing the turkey hop. And you won’t find any golf balls along the golf course and you’re never gonna find any empty 24 ounce Bud cans along the road. I picked up two today and had them in my hand when I waved to a neighbor who drove by. She’s probably thinking, “So that’s the guy that’s been dumping all those cans down here.”

Geri McCormick asked Margaret Explosion to play at her opening tonight of “Electric Florets” at the Genesee Center for the Arts.

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Getting With The Program

Winter aconite flowers in the snow.
Winter aconite flowers in the snow.

It snowed yesterday, a wet snow, and during the night clumps of snow fell off the pine tree that hangs over our bedroom. It sounded like squirrels jumping from the limbs to our roof and it sounded like they were digging into something. I figured they had found a way into our attic which is about a foot and a half tall at the peak. I imagined they were tearing up the place. I got the ladder out in the morning and went up on the roof. There were no footprints.

It was good packing. We rolled up a dirty snowman.

Work is so slow, I’ve been spending days organizing my digital life. I have all our mp3s on one drive and a backup of that folder on another drive. Each computer had its own folder of photos and random backups were scattered about. Never again. Our photos are all on one drive and we have a backup of that. Our primary computers are all running Time Machine. And there is a hard drive next to the stereo with the mp3 library on it. New cds get ripped when they walk in the door. I’m even letting iTunes manage the batch.

With all our mp3s in one place the Party Shuffle feature gets a good groove on. We just listened to a Coltrane tune from Impressions, Ain’t Nothin’ Goin’ On But The Rent, a 20 minute Mingus Medley, Respectable by the Stones (their last good album), Eric Dolphy Springtime, The ChiLites Oh Girl, Tommy James Cellophane Symphony, Bob Dylan I’m Not There, Maggot Brain, I Got It Bad by Peggy Lee and Marquee Moon.

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Huntington Gullies South

Deer outside bedroom window
Deer outside bedroom window

The deer just wander around through the hills where we live. But we don’t really live in hills even though everybody calls them that. The earth goes gradually downhill as you move north toward Lake Ontario and when you get near the lake the sandy soil just sort of falls away into fairly steep ravines. When you’re down in a ravine looking up, it looks like hills. So maybe they are hills. They wouldn’t be fake hills.

These deer spent the night in our backyard. They melt the snow while they sleep and leave little pods of bare ground behind in the morning. And the first thing they do when they get up is poop because there is always a little pile of the pellets near the pod.

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Two Types Of Xcountry Skiers

Peggi Skiing in Durrand Eastman Park
Peggi Skiing in Durrand Eastman Park

The cross country ski conditions are still in the excellent category so we headed out for our third day in a row. We headed through the woods and then crossed one of the holes on Durand Eastman’s Golf Course where we saw another skier. She darted up the hill in front of us and disappeared.

There are two types of skiers. Both types are old (say 30 and up). You won’t find any kids or teenagers on cross country skis, at least not in this neck of the woods. You can see the first type coming a mile away. They look like they are skating on skis, lifting one leg up and gliding on the other. And they have skinny legs because they are wearing black tights with gators around their ankles. Their jackets and accessories are brightly colored and they often have only ear muffs on because they have worked up such a sweat.

We belong to the second type. We basically ski in layers of street clothes. We trudge through the snow and wallow in the brush. We take goofy trails, sometimes following only deer prints. Today we saw about twenty deer. We usually stop and watch before continuing. You could probably see us coming a mile away too. Our pants would be baggy (as in LL Bean flannel-lined) and there might be some long underwear under there. And we would probably be covered in snow.

Maybe we will see you out there tomorrow.

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Perfect Conditions

Peggi Skiing in Durand Eastman Park
Peggi Skiing in Durand Eastman Park

It’s Spring in San Francisco and the daffodils are out. The temperature in Rochester is 11 degrees and it is supposed to go down to 2 degrees tonight. The cross country skiing conditions are perfect. We skied from our front door to Lake Ontario and back through the woods.

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Send Us Your Problems

Lake Ontario in Winter
Lake Ontario in Winter

We took a walk down to the lake or up to the lake. It’s downhill but it’s due north so I don’t know which is more correct. This same shot would look completely different everyday if I took it that often. The color of the sky, the water and the land are always changing.

My father hired a plumber a few weeks ago and he used a flashlight that he cranked to get going. It’s a wind up LED flashlight that doesn’t require batteries. My father was so impressed with it, he ordered one for each of the kids for Christmas. It will be perfect for taking walks after dark.

Our nephew, Matt, emailed that he had done a tutorial and screencast on his site (theilife.com) of one of the tasks that we gave him while he is staying here over Christmas. He says he is “having trouble finding Mac problems to solve and he would appreciate it if we could send him questions that we or our friends have in the future.” So send us Mac questions and we’ll pass them along to him.

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Perfect Weather For Snowmen

We were at a party at Richard Edic’s last night and I was talking to Sheryl about about Neil Young. The conversation strayed into the joys of winter and she was telling me how much she liked the coziness of it all. I like the winter too. I can’t get anything done in the summer.

Snowmen in front of our house
Snowmen in front of our house

We took a walk in the woods today and came across an area where there was a concentration of deer footprints and ground with no snow. There was a pretty big tuft of deer hair (or is it fur?) and blood spots mixed in with the snow. It looked like a fight scene. Maybe it was rough sex. On our way back we saw a buck with a rack wandering by himself and he appeared to be limping. We built a couple of snowmen in the front yard and Peggi headed out to make pecan pies with her mom. She is going to stop by Wegmans and pick up some of those whole wheat pie shells that don’t have any trans fat in them. I’m headed down to the basement to paint.

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The Mayor of Durand Eastman

About six inches of snow fell and the temperature was in the high teens so the conditions were perfect for our first cross country skiing outing. We skied across the street and into the woods behind our neighbor’s house. This is called the commons and a mile long trail runs through the valley paralleling a creek until it comes out on the 14th hole of the golf course at Durand Eastman park. We crossed the fairway and skied up one of the trails that works its way around one of the ponds that they call lakes.

We thought we would run into this guy, some sort of man child, that we call “The Mayor of Durand Eastman”. He is old enough to be a man but he pulls a sled with a transistor radio, a knapsack and a blanket on it. He hangs out at the top of the kid’s sledding hills and he is usually drinking a Genny. He he makes the beer look good. He greets us and acts like he lives in the park. We have run into him many times in this area. I hope he is ok.

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So Long Eric

We started the day in front of the fireplace in our pjs reading the New York Times. Our nintey year old neighbor brings the paper up to the door while we’re still sleeping. Peggi read Maureen Dowd and Frank Rich out loud while I cut up some fruit.I read the “Year In Ideas” in the Magazine section and wish I hadn’t. The “Cat Lady Syndrome” piece about the parasite you can get from your cat gave me the creeps.

I put a Charlie Mingus DVD that I bought from Amazon on around noon. We watched the 1964 rehearsals of “So Long Eric” and “Meditations on Integration” which were recorded in Sweden. Mingus’s “Town Hall Concert” with those two songs (only those two songs) on it was one of the first jazz albums I bought and every bit of it is so memorable. It came right after Eric Dolphy died and Mingus changed the name of “Meditations” to “Praying With Eric” for that release. Charlie Mingus is quoted as saying “Eric Dolphy is a saint”. He should know. The “Cornell 1964” cd that was just released by Mingus’s widow has the same tunes on it as well. And now comes this amazing DVD with recordings from three European stops that same year. The music remains so memorable because it is an absolutely beautiful composition performed by incredible players. Watching them (Mingus, Dolphy, Dannie Richmond, Clifford Jordan, Jaki Byard & Johnny Coles) rehearse and perform this music is an incredible treat. Thank god for the Europeans. I might a couple copies of this for Xmas gifts.

Chiminea in backyard in late Fall
Chiminea in backyard in late Fall


We went out to walk but got sidetracked in the backyard. We started a fire out there in our Home Depot chiminea and stood around like a couple of bums eatting peanuts.

Late Fall & Early Winter Collide

Leaf in snow, Rochester, NY
Leaf in snow, Rochester, NY

I did a logo for a women’s networking group today. They wanted sans serif type and no feminine colors. I put six versions online and sent off a link. Peggi did a print ad for an Indonesian supplement. This took most of the day. We went for a walk in the woods near dusk which happens around five now.

Eight deer in Irondequoit
Eight deer in Irondequoit


We saw nine deer in a pack. I got eight of them in this shot.

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Orange County

We watched Orange County last night with Jack Black, Catherine O’Hara and Colin Hanks as family and Schuyler Fisk as the girlfriend. The tagline for the 2002 movie is, “It’s not just a place. It’s a state of mind” and sure enough this film could have taken place anywhere. It is a very entertaining slice of life. Five stars. Perfect fair for a family gathering. My wife’s mom was the only one not laughing. We took a 4 mile walk in the Will Rogers State Historic Park. It was a beautiful day for a walk but I think it’s always a beautiful day in California so that’s not saying much.

Will Rogers State Historic Park
Will Rogers State Historic Park

Will Rogers Park looks like all scrub brush but there are some beautiful trails that hug the hillsides and keep you out of the blazing sun.

Our nephew, Andrew, asked if we wanted to go the the Hammer Museum on the UCLA campus. We saw a show of Francis Alys’ work—mostly video installations of his performance art called, “The Politics of Rehearsal.” An old red VW bug tries to drive to the top of a steep, dusty hill in Tijuana only to roll back and try again while a band stops and restarts a song. A stripper continually removes her clothes and puts them back on while Alys is heard off camera discussing Mexican politics. And in a collaboration with Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Alys uses rehearsal footage from a scene in Inarritu’s film, Amores Perros, along with outtakes, alternate camera shots and the final take to again illustrate his zen-like idea of enjoying the ride and the opportunities for renewal instead of focusing on closure.

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