The Art of Connection:

Gallery wall at The Yards in the Public Market, Rochester,New York
Gallery wall at The Yards in the Public Market, Rochester, New York

Jim Mott amazes me with his ability to capture a scene on a small scale in a rather short period of time like maybe an hour. He paints in oil on cardboard and the finished piece is consistently true to the color in front of him. Nothing in his finished image is overworked yet they are perfectly readable. His paintings remain painterly and fun to look at. But Jim is looking for something else. He wants to make a connection with his work.

He gave a talk, “The Art of Connection: 20 Years of Socially-Engaged Art Projects,” at The Yards at the Public Market and passed a short stack of his paintings around the room as he showed slides. He grew up wanting to be a local artist but found it was impossible to make any money. And furthermore, nobody seemed to really care. He became disgruntled.

In 2000 he placed a small ad in the New Yorker offering to paint pictures at strangers’ homes in exchange for hospitality. He arranged tours that took him across the country and back several times. He estimates he has been to 200 homes and each time the homeowner chose one the paintings he did at their place to keep for themselves. Jim brought the rest home. His presentation contained a bar chart that showed how much more productive he was on the road compared to staying at home. It was dramatic.

Last year he came up with a Landscape Lottery project where locations were chosen by random GPS corordinates. It took him to some strange places like the middle of a parking lot where he found he had to work harder to make a good painting and they were often some of his best.

He told us he is looking for new ideas for his next project so he has us thinking.

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Do It Yourself

Gutter repair job on our home.
Gutter repair job on our home.

“If you want something done right, do it yourself.” I hate that saying. Why should you have to hang your own gutters? Or remodel your kitchen? There are craftsmen out there. People who have lots of experience. People who are really good at what they do. This “do it yourself” movement has left us with half-assed work everywhere you look.

That’s what I like to think but just because I like to think that doesn’t mean it makes any sense. We hired a company last Fall to replace a few gutters. They were recommended to us. I think that company subcontracted the job to someone else. The guy in charge hit his thumb with a hammer. He showed it to us and told us he thought he broke it. He came back three days later with it all wrapped up.

They hung the gutters with screws that came right through the backside of the fascia board. I didn’t call and complain because I didn’t want to see the guys again. I tried not to look up all winter and planned to back them out in the Spring and put in shorter screws. I finally got to it today. I found a whole long stretch were there were no screws at all. The hangers were lying in the gutter. I borrowed Jared’s six foot level and did the job right. You know what they say.

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Dancing In The Street

Dancing in the street at Jazz Fest in Rochester, New York
Dancing in the street at Jazz Fest in Rochester, New York

When our friend, Duane, was up from Brooklyn for a few days he reset the weight on the tone arm of our stereo. He said it felt too heavy. I knew that was asking for trouble. I played a George and Tammy song after dinner and then Family Affair by Sly and the Family Stone. “Near You” sounded scratchier than ever and the needle wouldn’t even stay in the groove for Sly. I added some more weight.

We watched the match today with our neighbors. Jedi played soccer growing up in Jamaica so he knows the game and he is fun to watch with. His wife, Helena, made some killer fried green tomatoes for the occasion and Peggi made hummus. We did some serious screaming.

Without the injured Rapino the US beat England but just by a whisker. A goal called back for being a few inches offsides and then a missed penalty shot prevented England from taking the match into overtime. England had the possession too but the US played better. All three goals were beauties. And Rose Lavelle’s nutmeg in the opening minutes, and not just a nutmeg but one where she picked up her own passon the other side, a good omen. The US is going all the way.

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They Walk Among US

Don Jr. T-Shirt
Don Jr. T-Shirt

Peggi and I headed out for a walk today and ran into a neighbor, Larry, who was walking his dog. We were in his house once and he and his wife had Fox News on in the middle of the day. In summer we can hear right wing radio coming from his garage. He wore a red MAGA hat during the 2016 campaign and today we found him sporting a new TRUMP hat with the slogan “Keep America Great” on it. He’s a nice guy and although I think the hat is absurd we don’t talk politics.

I’m putting out feelers for a Don Jr. Tee. Something equally absurd. I created this graphic and I’m thinking about putting it on a white t-shirt. We printed some shirts a long time ago and it was a lot of work. I’m thinking of sending the art work off and getting someone else to print them but there is the question of how many to order.

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Dueling Interests

Cyro Baptista performing at Geva Theater during the 2019 Rochester International Jazz Festival
Cyro Baptista performing at Geva Theater during the 2019 Rochester International Jazz Festival

Brazilian percussionist, Cyro Baptista, played with Laurie Anderson, Gato Barbieri, David Byrne, Dr. John, Brian Eno, Milton Nascimento, Carlos Santana and Caetano Veloso. He has been here a few times, always with a completely different band, and he is always irresistibly entertaining. Joyous Brazilian rhythms are the foundation of his music but his ensembles, exceptional team players, work with a full palette of world music. They opened the set we saw with a Don Cherry composition.

I wore my Spain shirt yesterday and tried to stuff my soft spot for their beautiful game. I expected the US to run over them but Spain gave them a real test. I’m happy for that. Rose Lavelle played great and Rapino, of course, but the US defense looked shaky. We are going to have cheer especially loud when they meet France.

I hated to see Canada go home but their match with Sweden was a duel between two teams with similar skills and approaches and consequentially they trapped each other in the center of the pitch. Canada had an edge in possession but Sweden was a bit tougher and put one in in the second half. I’m pulling for Italy and I was so happy to see them take down the tactical Chinese side. Valentina Giacinti is a joy to watch. I will cheer them all the way up to a possible confrontation with the US.

I’m tying to keep up with the Jazz Fest here.

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Switch Without The S

Switch, street band, performing at the 2019 Rochester International Jazz Festival
Switch, street band, performing at the 2019 Rochester International Jazz Festival

Switch was tearing it up in the street. The band tip box was was chocked with quiet money and the singer, a commanding force, had East Avenue full of people doing dance moves in unison. She briefly broke it up by the announcing “the cops have asked us to for a minute so a big-ass truck can get through.” We headed into Christ Church for Empirical.

Our schedule for the last few days revolves around festival because those start times are fixed. We’ve been time-shifting the World Cup, watching a match before and one after the festival. The Norway/Australia match went beyond overtime and into a penalty kick round on Saturday. That kept us up past one and France and Brazil went into overtime last night against Brazil, the team we love but know aren’t able to go all the way.

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Viri Probati

Dandelions in the South Wedge neighborhood of Rochester, New York
Dandelions in the South Wedge neighborhood of Rochester, New York

Out of sheer desperation Pope Francis is open to ordaining elderly married men, “men of proven character” or ”Viri Probati” in god’s language. He needs to get a lot more desperate.

Rochester used to be a soccer town. I have no idea what happened. In 1975 the Rochester Lancers filled the old Aquinas Stadium when they met the New York Cosmos, featuring the great Pelé. The Rhinos carried on that legacy and all I have left is a hat. They got local government to build a soccer specific stadium in a run down part of the city. Of course there was public money involved but a good bit of the public was afraid of setting foot in that neighborhood.

It became the home stadium for a women’s profession team, the Flash. They became the best team in NWSL. They outdrew the Rhinos (before they went dormant) and won the championship in their final season here before the franchise moved to North Carolina.

We’re currently loving the Women’s World Cup, cheering for the US with former Flash members, Carli Lloyd, Sam Mewis, Jessica McDonald and Abby Dahlkamper. But also cheering on Australia with Sam Kerr (four goals last night) and Alanna Kennedy, former Flash members. Christine Sinclair, playing for Canada and four goals away from Abby Wambach’s record,  was named MVP of the 2011 Final after the Flash won the championship. And most every international star came through Rochester playing for their club teams including the great Marta and Heather O’Reilly.

I’ll stop here but I’m still wondering what happened.

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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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Just Say Nothing

Turquoise house along Lake Ontario on Culver Road
Turquoise house along Lake Ontario on Culver Road

With the lake level at an official record high we tossed around the idea of driving across the river and walking along the lake but we decided to just walk from our house. So we zigzagged our way over to Titus Avenue Extension and wound our way down to the bay where the road became impassable. In fact a mother duck and her six little ones paddled across the road as we stood there. We are lucky to have so many dreamy little neighborhoods to wander around in within a five or six mile loop.

We passed a neighbor on the way out and we told him we were going down to look at the lake. He said, “people say it’s global warming but we had more rain in (some year, 2014 maybe?) and the lake wasn’t this high. It’s because of the IJC didn’t let enough water into the Saint Lawerence. Having spotted Ann Coulter’s “How to Talk to a Liberal” book on his shelf we just kept quiet.

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WW H2O

Flooded Seneca Road along Irondequoit Bay in Rochester, New York
Flooded Seneca Road along Irondequoit Bay in Rochester, New York

It is hard to resist the pull of the lake especially when the water levels are at historic highs. We checked out what’s left of the beach at Durand when we walked Peggi’s sax over to the repair shop. And walked down to the pier at Sea Breeze when the waves were pounding the shoreline. Wind surfers were out but hardly any boats. The emergency speed limit is 5mph and the state boat launch is closed. A big sign on Mayers Marina read, “Repeal IJC Plan 2014.”

In the Schnackel Drive neighborhood on the east side of the Bay, where many of the homes don’t have automobile access, we saw a sign calling on “every able-bodied resident/owner and renter” to get out and help at Saturday’s “Road Work Party.”

“The road and drain systems have taken a beating from all the heavy construction equipment and deliveries to properties that invested in flood fortification. We would especially like to see those properties represented with this work effort.”

You hear that when someone fortifies their shoreline the water hits their neighbor’s harder. And here the neighbors who brought in sand bags and heavy equipment tore up the road for everybody.

We live near the world’s largest fresh water supply and we have more than ever but our friends on the west coast are watching every drop.

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Very Dreamy

Gardens at Wynona and Saint Paul Boulevard Landmark Society Tour 2019
Gardens at Winona and Saint Paul Boulevard, Landmark Society Tour 2019

The 1000 foot span of the Veterans Memorial Bridge led to the development of West Irondequoit, an early bedroom community for Kodak Park on the other side of the Genesee River. Gullies run all through Irondequoit, most so deep they remain undeveloped. Left here when the glaciers receded, their wildness is the prime attraction. Many homes have picture windows in the back that look out at them. The original owner of 959 Winona, on the corner of Saint Paul, cultivated his portion of a gully but the gardens were swallowed up by time. In the late seventies, the new occupants of the Neo-Classical home restored the garden and it was a feature of 2019’s Landmark Society Tour.

We picked up our tickets to this year’s event at Saint Mary the Protectress, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church on Saint Paul Boulevard. Cynthia Howk was sitting at the welcoming table and she introduced me to her colleagues as “Leo Dodd’s son.” This is Olga’s church. We were here for the funerals of both her parents and their services, sung in four part harmonies in Ukrainian, were extremely beautiful.

My watch said we walked four miles between houses but even the ones not on the tour showed nicely. The wet weather this Spring has been especially kind to plantings. There was a stately 6000 square foot mansion with dual staircases and two Arts & Crafts style Bungalows with wrap-around porches and a tiny little French Cottage, built in 1927. One house had a Speakeasy style bar in an inner room with no windows, just a wrap around bench, dark wooden paneling and a corner bar with just enough room for one person to stand behind and serve cocktails. The liquor bottles were lit and displayed on glass shelves in front of the mirror backed corner. Very dreamy.

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Summer Of Our Years

The Rich Killed NYC graffiti in Brooklyn
The Rich Killed NYC graffiti in Brooklyn

I needed an extra cup of joe this morning so I suggested stopping at the coffee shop on Exchange Street up near the Elmwood Avenue Bridge. Its pretty laid back in there but we managed to get waited on and my latte was perfect. They have a nice little stage and sound system for bands and I noticed the cooler was stocked with 3 Heads The Kind. Margaret Explosion needs a few summer gigs so I notice these sorts of things.

We walked up the west side of the river from the Ford Street Bridge and back down the east side to Gloria’s house in the South Wedge. UR was really quiet as school is already out for the summer. We picked up some small kale plants at the CoOp and planted those as soon as we got back. Our cilantro came back, a little late for some reason, but we we won’t have to plant any seeds this year.

Rick cancelled our horseshoe match so we will just get an early start on the three month free HBO package that Spectrum TV was forced to give subscribers for some sort of bad behavior.

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Turning Point

Man on yellow bike at Turning Point Park in Rochester, New York
Man on yellow bike at Turning Point Park in Rochester, New York

On the way home from our Margaret Explosion gig we saw someone riding a bike down University Avenue, a bike with lights on the spokes, a mini light show on wheels. Do they have LEDs that work with a generator, something like that old setup where your tire spun a gear that powered the light on your handlebars, or do we have technology now that has leap frogged that?

We used to have a man child who rode his bike down our street, turn around at the dead end and then ride by again. We could never get him to say hello, or look up even. Was he seventeen? Forty-five? We took a walk in Turning Point Park on the boardwalk that is built out over the river where the big ships used to turn around after they had dumped their stuff on the docks of the Port of Rochester. And we came cross a few sartorial bikers. The guy above was wearing yellow pants that matched his wheels. He was riding a tandem bike and head not found his soulmate yet. He said hello just after I took this shot..

Man on red bicycle listening to Righteous Brothers at Turning Point Park in Rochester, New York
Man on red bicycle listening to Righteous Brothers at Turning Point Park in Rochester, New York

A party boat, patio boat, what do you call those things, passed us, headed upstream with the best sound system I have ever heard in the open air. They were playing salsa and I wanted to be onboard. And then this guy rode by. He blew our minds, or mine anyway. With fenders, saddle bags and a light on the front end he was fully loaded. But his sound system, the black thing hanging from his handlebars, was playing the Righteous Brothers Greatest Hits. I told him I loved it. He parked his bike and pulled out a Genny 24 ouncer which he worked on while we listened to a few more tracks. On the air valve of his front tire he has a red die.

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Thank You

Two flags out front on Memorial Day 2019
Two flags out front on Memorial Day 2019

Garry Winogrand’s photos, the color slides projected on the Brooklyn Museum’s walls in the show, “Color,” are slices of humanity that are so rich you digest them viscerally, just as Winogrand shot them. And then you savor the expression, the composition, not studied in any way, but just as the world is. You want to say, “Thank you” for each and every shot.

Peggi secured tickets to the Women’s National Team last friendly before they play their opening World Cup match in Paris. And this was the real reason we were in New York this weekend. Red Bull Stadium was packed for the match against 26th ranked Mexico. We’ve US team in their last six or seven matches and the team keeps playing better as the lineup gels.

If Jill Ellis, coach of the the national team, had said, “Paul, why don’t you pick the starting lineup .” It could have not have looked as good as this one did. This one was perfect in every way.

Naeher in goal
Dunn, Saurbraun, Dahlkemper, O’Hara across the back
Mewis, Ertz, Lavelle in the mid-field
Rapino, Morgan, Heath up front

The subways in NYC were covered with posters of the star payers but Rose Lavelle is too new a sensation to have been featured. I’m not the only one who has fallen in love with Rose Lavelle. SBNation says, “There’s no one in the USWNT who’s more exciting to watch with the ball at her feet than Rose Lavelle.”

They were passing out flags at the game and we planted ours out front for Memorial Day. Note the horseshoe stake above the right hand flag. Maybe there will be time for a match today.

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Amplification Of The Human Body

Luis Herrera Guevara self portrait 1943 MoMA
Luis Herrera Guevara self portrait 1943 MoMA

Ran into Doug Rice in MoMA today and had a free-range chat. We were just wrapping up a whirlwind tour, truncated by the closing time message in a UN stew of languages. Spent most of our allotted time with Miro’s “Birth of the World” show. And then a sprint through “Lincoln Kirstein’s Modern,” a collection of work showcasing the New York City Ballet’s cofounder’s influence on MoMA and art. Some beautiful Gaston Lachaise drawings and this Guevara self-portrait.

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No Low-Ballers

Red 1963 V8 Automatic Rambler for sale
Red 1963 V8 Automatic Rambler for sale

For $3800 you get a “drivable project.” What more could you ask for?

Most years we have our garden in by now but this is not most years. It has been cold and rainy. We planted lettuce seeds a few weeks ago and only a few sprouted. They were last year’s seeds. The spinach seeds were old too but they are up. And we have a few cilantro volunteers from last year.

We had dinner at the Little tonight before our gig. Band gets half price there. It was so crowded the week before the voices almost drowned out our recording but this week there was some breathing room and the band sounded better.

Between sets we talked to a friend who is organizing a “Creative Journaling” workshop, something for women only in a “safe” environment. I made the mistake of asking why it was for woman only and then just quickly realized it was because of manly questions like mine.

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Mating Call

Sea Breeze pier in Rochester, New York April 2019
Sea Breeze pier in Rochester, New York April 2019

Time goes so fast these days it is starting to scare me. And that’s one reason why I am enjoying this prolonged, cool, wet, dark, rainy Spring. As Jeffery said in yoga class last night, “My Forsythia has been in bloom for a month!”

Peggi and I took a walk down Hoffman and we stopped at the marsh for the longest time. We were watching a doe with her brand new fawn and then a bright yellow bird caught our eye, a Warbler no doubt, and then a whole group of them dive-bombing bugs near the crumbling willow. The Warblers are bright yellow. They make the yellow in the Baltimore Orioles look orange and there were quite a few of them darting about. Our favorites, though, are the descriptively named Red Winged Blackbirds, although that only describes the male. They have a chirp and a distinctive call, something that sounds like one of Peggi’s sax lines. We watched them land on cattails, those still standing from last year. The cattail bends under the weight of the bird but it springs back to an upright position and male performs his mating call.

Pete LaBonne joins Margaret Explosion on the grand piano on Wednesday night. I hope you can stop out. We tend to get into a blues groove when he sits in. Here’s a song from last year when both he and Bob Martin were sitting in with the band.

"Margo Blues" by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre Café on 05.23.18. Peggi Fournier - sax, Ken Frank - bass, Pete LaBonne - piano, Phil Marshall - guitar, Bob Martin - guitar, Paul Dodd - drums.
“Margo Blues” by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre Café on 05.23.18. Peggi Fournier – sax, Ken Frank – bass, Pete LaBonne – piano, Phil Marshall – guitar, Bob Martin – guitar, Paul Dodd – drums.
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How Can This Be?

Three small boat houses on Genesee River
Three small boat houses on Genesee River

Jared told us the lake was 21 inches above normal so we had to walk down there and see for ourselves. We chatted with a wind surfer, who was suiting up, and saw that the waves were pretty big. There is a five mile an hour speed limit in effect for boats so there were hardly any on the water. We walked out the pier, timing our pace so as to miss the crashing of the big waves. I got soaked anyway.

Our friends, Kerry, Claire and Benny, are all going to France for the Women’s World Cup this summer. We saw the US in the semi finals four years ago in Montreal. Paris is too far, especially in the summer when things get so busy here. The team plays South Africa on Sunday in a friendly and they play Mexico at a stadium that is only nine minutes from my brother’s house in New Jersey so we might go down there for that one.

As hard as it is to believe, we saw the two best soccer games in my life in the last week. Barcelona (our favorite team) who beat Liverpool in the first half of their two match semifinal in the European Champions League, met Liverpool again, this time in Liverpool. Barcelona was heavily favored to win and to go on to take the trophy. But Liverpool, playing without their key striker, Salah, came out aggressively, playing so fast, stealing the ball at every opportunity and preventing Barcelona from controlling the flow, as is their wont. It was shocking at first and then thrilling. They played so well we switched allegiances.

The following day, in the second semifinal match between Ajax and Tottenham, Ajax, after winning decisively in the first, dominated the first half and scored twice. We assumed it was all over. We recorded the second half and left to play the Little. We queued up the second half after the gig and the tables were turned completely. Tottenham, the underdogs in anyone’s book, playing away, dominated possession and scored three goals, the last in the final seconds!

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Aqua Dam

Aqua Dam along the shore of Sodus Point
Aqua Dam along the shore of Sodus Point

We’re getting together with Jedi to watch Barcelona meet Liverpool in the second of their Champions League semi-finals. Although Barcelona won the first in their home stadium Liverpool performed a lot better that the final score indicated. But then the great Salah got injured in a Premier League match so Liverpool will have a tough time this afternoon.

We celebrated Matthew’s birthday at Captain Jack’s in Sodus Point where the bar was just barely above water. Matthew suggested a Mexican place in Alton, Mi Hacienda Jalisciense. It’s on Old Ridge Road just a mile or so from El Rincón. That’s a serious matchup right there. If it was a horse race. I would put my money on Mi Hacienda Jalisciense. We had some mind blowing ceviche.

We drove out with Jeff and the three of us stopped in Ontario on the way home to take in the Kentucky Derby. We always make a point to watch it, the anniversary of our first date, and this year’s was something else. We stood at the bar in front a tv with the sound off so the excitement level was missing. And the silent elation of victory, the countless video reviews where we saw something different each time and then the long shot reversal all played dramatically.

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Ovenbird

Fox News on without the sound in Park Side Diner, Rochester, New York
Fox News on without the sound in Park Side Diner, Rochester, New York

Chipmunks are driven. I recognize the trait. Whether it’s chasing one another or darting into holes. they run the same pattern over and over all day long. We found a chipmunk in our screened-in porch. I opened the door and let him out. Next thing you know he was back in there again franticly looking for a way out. I showed him the door and we went back to reading the paper. I couldn’t see any hole for him to get in. About ten minutes later the Woodstock chimes that hang on the porch started ringing. There was no wind. He must be getting in through the rafters and dropping down the chimes, an impossible route to do in reverse. I sealed up three possible openings and we haven’t seen the guy.

Chipmunks are cute but they are really a garden pest. They ate all our tiny beet plants before they had a chance. Our neighbor on one side shoots at them with a BB gun and Jared, on the other side of us, wired his garden with electric fencing. The lowest line is only a half inch above the ground, chipmunk height.

We spotted some beautiful birds near the ground on the other side of our bedroom window. They have Mohawk striped heads and a Zebra-like chest. They are a dull yellow overall. We found them in a bird book and were able to identify them as “Ovenbirds,” in the Warbler family. I am not in a hurry for summer, this has been a perfect Spring.

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