No Vacation From Painting

If you are a painter there is no downtime. This is the way it is. My painting class is in recess for the holidays but we will soon be back in the basement of the Memorial Art Gallery on Tuesday nights. And in the meantime, we paint or think about painting. Thinking about it heightens the moment when you are are standing in front of a blank canvas. “This time it will be different”, for why would you want to repeat yourself? This isn’t rock and roll.

I just posted some photos of paintings by people in my painting class. Lorraine Bohonos and Alice de Mauriac are two of my favorite painters and it is a joy to watch them paint. I think you will like their paintings.

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Big City

Rochester’s Eastman Kodak Company announced that they were discontinuing the manufacture of infrared film on December 30th. So now only some digital cameras will be able to take infrared shots. Luckily Duane Sherwood’s camera is one of them. I just spent some quality time with his new show, “Big City“. The human eye cannot see infrared radiation, but the camera lens can and Duane’s photos of buildings in Manhattan bathed in infrared radiation are beautiful.

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33 Feet Taller Than Niagara Falls

We usually drive to Ithaca by going through Arthur Dove’s home town, Geneva, at the top of Seneca Lake and then cutting diagonally across to Rod Serling’s summer hometown at the bottom of Cayuga Lake. This time we drove down the east side of Cayuga for a change and stopped in Aurora to check in on the place after reading about it in the Times. Wells College just went coed and a 1962 graduate of that school, who made some money when she sold her American Girl doll and book company to Mattel, has been refurbishing the college and town. It is a pretty little town. We stopped at an art gallery but they were closed for New Year’s Eve.

Our first stop in Ithaca was the bookstore on the Commons. We have been here may times over the years but this will be our last visit. They are moving to NYC and they were having a 50% off sale on everything. I bought Marsden Hartley’s autobiography, a book of Rembrandt drawings, a 1931 book about Daumier (I was so taken by the drawings that I didn’t realize it was in German until I got it home) and a book called a “A Day With Picasso” with photographs by Jean Cocteau. All for about twenty bucks.

We walked around town and bought a few things at a natural foods store and then drove to a bed and breakfast near Taughannock Falls. We had a great meal in the Inn. I had portobello mushrooms and cheese infused pasta and Peggi had duck. We took a jacuzzi and slept in a king size bed. We turned the tv on around midnight and wished we hadn’t after seeing Dick Clark, Carrie Underwood and the Jonas Brothers. The show creeped us out before they dropped the eco-friendly ball.

White deer near the old Seneca Army Depot

We set the alarm to get up in time for a continental breakfast and we took a walk in the State Park next door. We hiked up the gorge to the falls which we read are 33 feet taller than Niagara Falls. We drove back through Middlesex (I love that name) and Lodi while skirting the Willard Facility for the Criminally Insane. We stopped by the side of the road to photograph some white deer on the former Seneca Army Depot grounds and talked about stopping for coffee as we drove though town after town with everything closed for the holiday. We finally found a suitable shop open and drank Ethiopian coffee by their fireplace.

When we got near Pittsford, we stopped to say hi to Peggi’s mom and she had the Buffalo Sabres outdoor hockey game on the Bills’ football field on so we watched a few periods of play. We left when it was tied but heard that Buffalo lost in overtime.

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Send Us Your Problems

Lake Ontario in Winter
Lake Ontario

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 ( 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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Pizza Without Cheese

It is possible to enjoy a perfectly good pizza pie without cheese being involved. Jeff Munson and Mary Kay proved this last night at their holiday party in Scottsville. He made at least fifteen pizzas. We sampled one with walnuts and spinach and went crazy for this one with arugula, figs and shrimp. Jeff suggests marinating the shrimp and figs for a couple of hours in olive oil, garlic and vinegar (Chinese Rice and Balsamic). My wife had a cholesterol problem but got it under control by staying away from butter and cheese. Her doctor doubted that it would be possible to bring her levels down with diet but she did. And her doctor was at the party last night.

Orchid in New York

We were talking to one of Jeff’s neighbors and he told us that he grew orchids in a climate controlled greenhouse next door. So we took a tour of his place and Bob Mahoney snapped this shot on his new cell phone.

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Betty Davis Eyes

Snowmen melting

I caught the snowmen before their heads fell off this morning. Five minutes after I took this shot the one on the right was headless. Actually they were already headless. These are their midsections looking like heads.

Our old neighbor, Sparky, played out at Peggi’s mom’s home last night. We were planning on stopping out there but didn’t make it. Jeanne was in town from Nashville and she hooked up with Patty and they both stopped by. Jeanne brought over a bottle of Korbel champagne that had been sitting on her father’s shelf for a few years. It was warm but we popped it open anyway. It was sort of dark and it tasted like vinegar so we didn’t drink it. We made a fire and sat around talking. We hooked our laptop up to the stereo and streamed music from the other room. “Betty Davis Eyes” sounded good. Patty’s family sold the LDR Char Pit when her father in law retired and she told us about her new job at the local guitar cord factory, Whirlwind.

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Ultra Thin, Ultra Cool

Kinda had to wait around the house today for UPS to drop off our new MacBook. Hope Apple doesn’t go and blow our Christmas by announcing some sort of ultra thin, ultra cool laptop at the MacWorld in SF. Bob Martin (Margaret Explosion’s guitar player and Mac guru) says it might be a Flash drive machine without a cd-dvd burner because people aren’t really burning stuff to disc anymore. I hadn’t noticed that but it’s certainly true in our case where we just buy more cheap drives for backup. UPS got here at 3:30 and just left it at our door so I guess we didn’t have to be here to sign after all. I’m going to wait for Peggi to get home before I open the box.

I might ride my bike up to Starbucks and pick up a New York Times. We tried not to work today and didn’t answer the work phone. I cleaned out the one gutter that we have on our house and raked a few wet leaves. I started going through the photos that have been piling up on my camera since Halloween. Here is one from a video installation at the Getty in LA. It was a white room with white chairs scattered about and monitors mounted to the ceiling with exotic interior shots on them. It didn’t look that exciting to me so I turned around and started to walk out and the guard said. “Sit down in one of the chairs”. I did and I looked up and there I was in this scene.

Nicole Cohen installation.

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Field Recordings Of The Future

Our snowmen’s heads have both fallen off in the rain but their sculpted bodies are looking good. We put our rain gear on to walk in the woods. When the temperature goes above freezing things can get ugly but down by the creek the woods were misty and beautiful. It was a good day to contemplate the lyrics to “The Willows” from Ursula K. Le Guin’s novel, ”Always Coming Home”.

Music and poetry of the Kesh

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Good Looking People

Peggi brought her mom over here on Christmas for some champagne and then we planned to head over to my parents’ house where the whole family gathers for sandwiches and some gift-giving. I have some of my dark crime faces hanging by the door and on the way out of the house I heard my mother-in-law say, “I must tell Paul, I wish someday he would get some good looking people up there.”

Peggi with Lucas’s baby blanket.
Peggi and 14 day old Lucas in his new baby blanket.

Peggi gave our niece the baby blanket that she has been crocheting for Lucas and then took it back so she could finish it at the party. Lucas’ brother, Dylan, was running around in his new Superman pajamas. Peggi finished the blanket.

We built up $500 worth of points in our Visa Rewards program and we ordered a MacBook through Best Buy. It was back ordered so we didn’t get it by Christmas. It is in now with a tracking number but it still seems to sitting at the Best Buy warehouse. We will probably use our old laptop for a jukebox. We tracked Peggi’s LL Bean order at Fed Ex and watched it leave Maine on a truck, get sorted at the Rochester Fed Ex facility and then leave for Memphis only to turn around and fly back to Rochester. It arrived the day before Christmas. I like Fed Ex’s tracking interface better than UPS’. Our nephew is staying with us and we geeked all day. We installed Leopard on a sub 867 G4 and transfered our mail package to that computer. We’re putting our G3 out to pasture.

Margaret Explosion plays tonight and a bunch of my family will be there.

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How To Draw An Ampersand

Peggi opened the box that came from LL Bean and tried on her new boots and flannel-lined jeans. They look good. We took a walk up in Spring Valley and she wore her new jeans with the cuffs rolled up. Saw some turkeys and a few deer, one that sort of looked like “dog deer” but wasn’t. We had picked out some books for ourselves a few weeks ago and Peggi wrapped them and put them under the tree. I had forgotten what they were until we opened them. I got a picture book on German Expressionism and “Miles, Ornette & Cecil”. I dove into the part about Ornette.

Our nephew, who is staying with his family downtown at the Hyatt, emailed us some photos that he took in Rochester yesterday. They stopped by the North Pole. He is staying over with us tonight and tomorrow we plan to migrate our email application and all our email to a newer old computer. And he is going help us get our pc cleaned up and moving a little quicker. And then we plan to put Leopard on two G4s that supposedly can’t handle OS 10.5. I guess you put the dvd in a laptop and boot the G4’s in target mode and install over the network.

Today, I am going to learn how to draw an ampersand.

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Metal Machine Christmas

Lou Reed performing Metal Machine Music
click on the photo for Lou up close

We knocked off a quote for a website for a dance troupe in Detroit this morning. We had promised it last week but we never got to it. Peggi put the turkey in the oven and then headed out to pick up her mom. I watched for the little pecker to pop out. It’s a free range turkey that never ate meat. The label says it has 70% less fat. I don’t think of turkey as having much fat to begin with. We bought it at Palermo’s Italian Market on Culver.

Duane stopped by and helped me shoot a new batch of paintings. He works for Lowel Light in Brooklyn and he set up four Tota lights, balanced the white point and set up a manual exposure with his Sony Cybershot V3. They came out pretty good but it will take me a bit to crop them and adjust the levels. When work was done we kicked back with a dvd of a 2002 live performance of Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music. I have an 8-track of that thing out in the garage that I want to put on eBay some day. Peggi walked in with her mom. My brother and his family are in town from New Jersey and they are headed over here for dinner. My parents will be here too, so with Duane that will be eleven. We put the extra leaf in the table.

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Blight & The Irondequoit Melon

Irondequoit Melon Historical Marker
Monte Alban has a big window inside with a view of the Classy Chassy Carwash on the right.

We did a little last minute shopping and stopped at Monte Alban for dinner. It’s a pretty restaurante tipico for Irondequoit, NY. Our friends Alice and Julio took us here a while back for fajitas. The tv is usually on, tuned to Univision or Telemundo with the sound off and they play Mexican music. It’s located on Ridge Road behind this historical marker. The sign reads, “Our Irondequoit. Melon was first developed here on the Sutton Farm. Its seed was first sold 1899. Very famous for its taste. Wiped out by blight in 1940’s”. There were tent cards on the tables inside offering “Melon Margaritas”. It may have just been a coincidence. I don’t think anyone has noticed this sign out here. We visited the original Monte Alban outside of Oaxaca in Mexico. It’s a beautiful, deserted Mayan city. It may have been wiped out by a blight as well.

Peggi is on row 86 of baby blanket with two days to go before Christmas.

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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.


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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You Always Come Down

La Moustache is a killer movie based on a really simple premise. This guy shaves his mustache and no one notices or they pretend not to notice. He is not too sure. No one is too sure and the movie doesn’t let you know what is really going on. It gets really crazy and then everything works out. The lead character’s wife tells him. “Don’t worry, it’s just like when you get too high. Keep in mind that you always come down.”

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Way Out West

4D Advertising. Way out west.

Antonio lives in East Rochester and he found 4D Advertising in the phone book a few years back. We did the cover design for the sheet music of a piece that he had written for his late wife. We later heard this song performed at a piano recital in Kilbourn Hall. It was beautiful. We moved from the city and he tracked us down at our new location. He marveled at the change of scenery and we discussed art work for his newest project, a composition called “La Vita Bella”. When he came back to approve the art he brought along this picture. He said it reminded him of our place and he thought we ought to have it.

As I was loading equipment into the Little Theatre for the Margaret Explosion gig last night, someone said “killer hat, dude”. I bought it online at the hookywooky shop. I just said pick out something you think I will like. I just checked and their site is misbehaving today. Maybe they are all sold out.

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Willful Ignorance

Bob Marcotte’s weekly local history column in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle was perfectly timed for Christmas. He recapped the story of an Episcopal minister who caused a nationwide stir by challenging Christ’s birth to a virgin mother as well as his highly touted resurrection. This quote from Rev. Algernon Crapsey’s speech one hundred years ago was reproduced by nearly every paper in the US with editorial comment.

“In the light of scientific research, the founder of Christianity no longer stands apart from the common destiny of man in life and death, but he is in all things physical like as we are, born as we are born, dying as we die, and both in life and death in the keeping of that same Divine Power, that Heavenly fatherhood, which delivers us from the womb and carries us down to the grave. When we come to know Jesus in his historical relations, we see that miracle is not a help, it is a hindrance, to an intelligent comprehension of his person, His character and his mission. We are not alarmed, we are relieved when scientific history proves to us that the fact of his miraculous birth was unknown to himself, unknown to his mother, and unknown to the whole Christian community of the first generation.”

As dead as print is, we still get “Print” magazine and in the February 2008 issue there is article on the AiG Museum (Answers In Genesis) in Kentucky. The place is designed to look like a history museum/theme park and “Print” critiqued the wacky displays of early man (no more than 6000 years like it says in the book) frolicking with dinosaurs (even though their time spans were separated by millions of years) and the typography choices for their “educational” signage. The author waited a half hour in line with busloads of people from Florida to pay the $20 admission.

Ignorance is bliss and a lot of people are following their bliss. I read that 56% of Americans don’t believe in evolution and that figure is up 10% in the last 10 years. That figure makes me doubt evolution.

Tasha The Fourth

Leo, our next door neighbor

Our next door neighbor, Leo, was featured on the local news last night. I was sitting right here at my desk when they shot the footage yesterday. You can see our house in the background of one of the outdoor scenes.

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Artist Does Time

Jann Zabelny painting

This is one of my favorite paintings in the world. My flash shot does not do it justice. It is impossible to see the pencil drawing of me smiling behind the brown drum set. And the mic and floating keys above Peggi’s black keyboard are indiscernible here. But the expression reads. My niece did this when she was five. My sister would drop her off at our house when she had her hair done in the city. I babysat while I worked from home. At the time I was painting with house paint on the backs of billboard paper the I got from Dave Mahoney‘s father. My niece wanted to do a painting so I suited her up in my paint clothes and rolled the sleeves way up and then the phone rang. She started painting with the brushes I had out and switched to mixing sticks when the brushes were dirty. I was on the phone for about twenty minutes and this painting was done when I got off. It’s about 4 feet wide and 5 feet tall and it’s hanging in our house today.

As oldest of seven I had a lot of babysitting experience in my own family and then when my sister started getting overbooked as a teenager I picked up her jobs and soon developed my own clients in the neighborhood. It was fifty cents an hour back then but there were all sorts of fringe benefits. I would go through the cupboards and refrigerator before the parents were out of the driveway. Hardest part was getting the little ones into bed before their parents came back. There were many times when I was unable to do this but I don’t remember ever losing any jobs over it.

When my sister was going through a long drawn out divorce I would ride my bike to her house in Webster and babysit for her three kids, my nieces, while she worked her job at a local restaurant. Divorce hits the kids the hardest and I witnessed the carnage. I would arrive and find ten kids smoking in one of the bedrooms or a group of kids on the roof of house. The scene was pretty much out of control but I did my best. There were fights, suspensions and a suicide attempt during this time but lots of fond memories. And then a nightmare when one of the kids developed an infection that went to her heart. She died while waiting for a heart transplant in Pittsburgh.

Peggi is on row 72 of a baby blanket that she is crocheting for the new son of one of these kids. And today I heard that the one who did this painting was sentenced to sixty days in an alcohol rehab facility for picking up two DWIs.

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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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Peace Is Possible

I don’t really know if I believe it is possible. I’m thinking of how our cat, Ornette, slaughters chipmunks for kicks in the summer. Peace in the animal kingdom has its own kind of order and Bush has his own new world order in mind for us. But we decided to echo the Prince of Peace’s old fashioned sentiments in our card this year. We were cross country skiing when I took this picture. It’s a view of the marsh on Conifer Lane near our house.

Paul and Peggi Christmas Card 2007
see Huntington Hills Marsh photo

We took a walk down to the bay where the town has been building a million dollar retaining wall to protect a few funky beach houses. It was cold and icy down there. We saw a mailman with a Santa hat and a plastic Xmas ferris wheel in someone’s front yard – people trying to out geegaw their neighbors on a holiday (formerly a holy day) so devoid of meaning we all it “Xmas”. There was an article in the paper this morning about a white guy in Houston who saw a couple of black burglars in his neighbor’s house. So he grabbed his gun and blew them away. He is claiming self defense. They were found with a pillow case full of jewelry beside a sleigh and a Santa cow with a sign, “Have a Moo-ry Christmas”. Like Tommy Lee Jones said in “No Country for Old Men”, “you can’t make this stuff up”.

We watched that movie last night with Rick and Monica. They are movie freaks but they like to sit in the back of the theatre for some reason. Peggi and I usually sit in the third or forth row so it fells like we right in the movie. The movie was pretty cool but it lost steam at the end. Tommy Lee and Javier Bardem were great. Javier Bardem was great in Goya’s Ghosts too. Goya was laughable in that movie.

Tonight we are supposed to get heavy snow after midnight. 4 to 7 inches and get a load of tomorrows forecast, “Periods of snow through the day with blowing snow in the afternoon. Snow may be heavy at times. Additional accumulation 8 to 15 inches. Windy with highs in the lower 30s. East winds 20 to 30 mph…becoming northeast. Gusts up to 40 mph. Chance of snow near 100 percent. ” Sounds like a sure thing but if you can’t count on the weather coming down like they call it around here. We are hoping to ski in the woods.

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