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). Peggi 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 Rochester New York
Orchid in Rochester 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

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.

Snowmen melting
Snowmen melting

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.

Nicole Cohen installation.
Nicole Cohen installation.

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.

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Field Recordings Of The Future

Music and poetry of the Kesh
Music and poetry of the Kesh

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”.

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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 with Lucas’s 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
Lou Reed performing Metal Machine Music

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.

Lou Reed performing Metal Machine Music

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
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.

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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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.
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
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
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. See Huntington Hills Marsh photo.

Paul and Peggi Christmas Card 2007
Paul and Peggi Christmas Card 2007

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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Notes On Painting Pt.2

I’ve been painting heads lately but I imagine that this principle would apply to any subject. The source for the head is a start and after the first marks on the canvas I am finding that the painting should be leading the way instead of me. Listening to and reading the painting’s needs is a better way to proceed than doing what I had in mind. If I’m painting the lips on a head, the form of those lips should be talking to the whole. I should be painting the whole at all times and only the whole knows what it needs. I can’t just look at the lips as I paint them.

I am not able to do this but I owe the recognition of this principle to my painting teacher, Fritz Lipp. I apologize if I have misrepresented his direction.I read this quote from Elvin Jones on playing with John Coltrane. “I was more listening to him than trying to accompany as a drummer. I was just fascinated by this guy and the way he played. He had so many ideas. It seemed like he was sitting on a mountain of ideas, and they would just flake off every three or four seconds.” So he played like one of the greatest drummers by listening.

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Xmas Shopping

We left 4D early to do a little Xmas shopping. Our first stop was Barnes & Noble. Last time we were there we were trying to decide between two calenders and and we mistakenly came home with both. So we returned that and picked up “Into The wild” and “Mademoiselle Boleyn” for Peggi and a $12 “Expressionism” art book and a book on Ornette Coleman for me. First things first. We bought a large print version of “A Thousand Splendid Suns” and a Puccini opera for my mother-in-law and started talking about where we would eat.

We headed for Aladdin’s Natural Eatery but stopped at Eastern Mountain Sports on the way out of the parking lot. We tried on those things you wear around your ankles and lower leg so the snow doesn’t go down your shoes. They are made of GORE-TEX and they cost $69. We had a hard time finding the right size. Large was right for me in the length but I couldn’t draw them tight enough at the top for them to stay up. In fact I pulled one string so tight it broke. We walked around the store with them on and then decided to leave without them. It felt great not having them wrapped around my legs. We stopped next door at this place that just had their Grand Opening called Stein-Mart. There was hardly anyone there and they were already having a “Clearance Sale”.

We headed in the direction of home and stopped at Target to pick up a Tangoes game for my sister-in-law and a Nascar hat for our nephew. The Nascar hat was so ugly we couldn’t buy it so picked out an Elmer Fudd style hat for him. We stopped at the Thai place across the street from the Irondequoit Mall and ordered “Evil Jungle” (a spicy tofu and vegetables dish) and Sesame chicken. We had a twenty minute wait so we decided to get a drink next door at La Trattoria D’Abruzzo. We love this place and have eatin here many times. It was Christmas time and I had a headache so I suggested a gin and tonic. The bar tender made them strong I think. We don’t usually order mixed drinks. We were chatting with her and then Giustino, the chef and owner sat down for a glass of wine. They had a number of cancellations because of the snow and it was sort of slow. Giustino bought us another drink. It was in front of us before we could turn it down. Our Thai food was cold by the time we got back there.

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Farm-Raised Trees

When we lived in the city we bought a live Christmas tree. It was about two feet tall and more like a shrub. We decorated it, watered it and when the holidays were over we dug a hole in the back yard and planted it. It grew like a weed and in a few years we lopped the top off and brought in the house for Christmas. The tree developed four or five tops and each year we would bring one of them in at Christmas. These were sort of wild looking and good conversation pieces.

Peggi with Xmas tree and saw.
Peggi with Xmas tree and saw.

This year we headed out to Wilbert’s Tree Farm right next to Wilbert’s Buick & GM Parts and junk yard to bring home a tree. We ran into my parents out there. My father was trying to fit a small tree in the trunk of his Honda. The trees were $25 if you cut your own and $30 if you took one of the ones they had already cut. We picked this one out and ended its life.

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My Nephew, The Geek

Apple Store grand opening on 14th Street in Manhattan. Photo by Matthew Dodd
Apple Store grand opening on 14th Street in Manhattan. Photo by Matthew Dodd

Our nephew is a geek. When he was five or six he was picking up the empty computer boxes from the curb when neighbors upgraded their systems. He drew keyboards on cardboard and sat in front of the boxes like they were real computers. He had his first Mac at seven or eight and set up a server in his bedroom when he was sixteen. He is still in high school but recently won tickets to MacWorld in San Francisco this January. And today we heard that Information Week has used some of his photos and his reporting in a piece they did on the new Apple Store in Manhattan. He waited on line for four hours to get in the doors for their grand opening. He was paid $250 for the photos.

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