Three women were sitting in one of the picnic shelters as we walked down Log Cabin Road this morning. Most of the shelters were already occupied and some of the grills were already smoking at 10 AM. On the table in front of the women was a short stack of Pepsi cans in those long 18 packs so they must have been expecting a crowd. As we passed by I heard one of them say, “That’s exactly how she got pregnant.” I think everybody knows how that happens.
Walking along the beach we came to a spot where the inlet from one of the smaller lakes was too deep to cross. We watched a young couple come toward us in bare feet and wade across. The woman’s arms were built and covered with tattoos. Rather than take our shoes off we turned around. We were now following the young couple. Walking behind them I could see her shorts were so short they failed to cover the bottom part of her buttocks. I hope that was ok to notice.
Our weather changed overnight and the humidity lifted. The sky today was pure blue and the sailboats looked especially white out on the lake. Walking up to Aman’s yesterday it was so hot we stood in the walk-in beer cooler for ten minutes when we got there. We came out with a six pack of Buffalo’s Hayburner.
Chuck was my brother’s best friend in high school. We shared friends back then so he was one of mine. Always curious and always with an opinion, he was like a magnet. Baptized James he was also colorblind. He was Colorblind James, with and without a band.
His longtime band members including Phil Marshall (who doubled as his brother-in-law), Ken Frank and Chuck’s son, Mark will be performing his songs for two nights in October at the downtown honky tonk, Abilene. They asked me to design a poster for the event, one with some of Chuck’s funky spirit.
I hardly have any fonts on my computer anymore. So many of the ones I was using back when we were churning out graphics are incompatible. I found what I was looking for on a cd we had filed away and I completed the mission without stomping on his grave.
I was thinking about Chuck while I worked. I remember him coming by with a mock up of the first album on Earring. He and his wife, Janet, had created a classic. We mostly helped by getting out of the way. Chuck was working a circus theme on the second lp and he came to us to realize it. I was left with distinct feeling that he could have done a distinctly better, personal touch, version himself and I told him as much. Professional execution does not make it better. That’s why they invented punk rock.
Pete and Shelley’s home in the Adirondacks is five hours and a world away. When the pavement ends their road continues with stone. It is just about at that point where the cell phone reception ends. And by the time we reach their property the electric and water lines have stopped. This is is off-the-grid and therapeutic.
Our first trip since the pandemic began took us out 104 and then northeast toward the mountains. In Speculator we fell in line behind a large RV that was towing a a brand new Jeep. The car immediately in front of us had plates from the Sunshine state. We stopped only to pee near the side of the road.
Shelley had given us a short list of items that had become hard to come by up there. Arm & Hammer unscented laundry detergent, a loaf of good bread and beeswax candles. We threw in some tomatoes and peppers from the garden, they are growing both but their season is behind ours, and a small bag of weed that our neighbor gave us to give to them.
We stayed up late talking and it seems all conversations lead to politics. One of the property owners on their road is flying a giant, “Fuck Biden, Trump Won” banner and that sort of sets the table. For discussion. We saw variations of the Fuck Biden flag on the way up, ones that spelled out the f-word in long gun silhouettes, and of course the tired Confederate flags. Everyone has a congressman or woman and we were in Elis Stefanik’s district where the Covid restrictions are scarce. Even in the woods it impossible to put politics aside.
The Brighton Cemetery, on Hoyt Place overlooking the Eastern Expressway and former Erie Canal bed, is no longer in Brighton. The surrounding property owners voted to be annexed by the City of Rochester so they could hook up to the city’s sewer system and through some sort of loophole the city was not required to keep up the cemetery. It fell into serious disrepair. Richard Miller has devoted his retirement years to restoring the gravestones and maintaining the property. His volunteer work earned him the Leo Dodd Historic Brighton Preservation Award, an award given each year in my father’s name.
Pittsford Wegman’s provided a box lunch for the Historic Brighton group and the town historian tried to separate the folklore from the historical facts on the history of the familiar local names. After the presentation we spotted the recipient in the parking lot. I noticed he had saved the plastic knife, fork and spoon in his shirt pocket. I asked him if he could be sure the grave stones that he repaired and uprighted were above the right bodies. He thought for a few moments and told us the cemetery wasn’t as badly vandalized as others because nobody knows where it is. Even though thousands of cars whiz by the Winton Road, a stone’s throw away, every hour of the day.
The cemetery was founded in 1821 so we are commemorating its 200th anniversary this year. I remember walking around the cemetery with my father as he pointed out names connected to Brighton’s brick industry. Preserving that story was one of my father’s retirement projects. My father would be so proud have Richard Miller win this award.
Folklore has it that one in every dozen Pimientos de Padrón, a popular Spanish tapa, may be hot. Most often the whole batch is mild but one time in Madrid, I can remember exactly where the cafe was, every single one of them was too hot to eat. We left them on the plate.
Fruition Seeds offered Pimientos de Padrón this year so we grew our own. We picked our first batch to have while we watched the Spanish men’s soccer team eliminate the host nation in the olympic semi-final. Eight or nine of them were hot as hell. Water doesn’t help but yogurt sort of neutralized the fire.
We put a new row of arugula in and it was up in three days. And another row of cilantro, our third. Our tomatoes are starting to roll in and the second planting of romaine is begging to be thinned. Peggi has been making little pizzas with our cilantro pesto and today we brought back a big bag of basil for traditional pesto which we plan to make with the garlic Jeff gave us from their garden.
Just watching the contractors work on our roof was exhausting. They jumped out of the truck at eight each morning and didn’t stop until five. We had a few things to do to stay ahead of them and then there was the nightly check on what they had done. We were thrilled with their work and they told us we were good people to work for.
A loud thump shook the house as we were reading the morning paper. As I suspected, one of the roofers working on our house had slipped on the metal sheeting and fell. Luckily he didn’t slide off the house. Our pitch is not that steep. It was the guy with red hair. It wasn’t red last week, he colored it over the weekend. When I asked him if he was the one that fell he didn’t answer. I have only heard him speak Spanish so I pantomimed a slip and pointed to him. He smiled.
They are hoping to be done with our roof this week. The dumpster was hauled away this morning while we were out for our walk. We knew it been moved because we found scrap pieces of our roofing in the road as we came down our street. It was completely full with old asphalt shingles, shards of metal and Red Bull and Monster cans.
The priest reminded both Peggi and me of John Cassavetes, somewhere else in his own head but right there commanding your attention. When he sprayed hand sanitizer on his hands before passing out communion I lost my appetite for the body of Christ. We were sitting with a row of my cousins, all from the same generation as the cousin whose funeral mass we were celebrating. And there was a speaker mounted on the column right in front of us but I could hardly understand what he was saying. I caught something about the “mystery of faith” and that concept stuck with me.
Our neighbor, Helena, recommended the Oriental Rug Mart in Eastview Mall as a place to get our rugs cleaned. The owner, Reza, came by himself to pick them up. We asked if he had been vaccinated when he stepped out of his van and he told us he was but he had just finished a two week quarantine because he gotten Covid anyway. He described it as something like the bout of bronchitis he had last year. We wore masks and he carried our rugs off.
We have an urge to get down to the lake everyday. The three main ingredients are always the same, the sky, water and sand, but it is always a different experience. We might not make it today. It is my cousin’s 75th birthday. It is also his funeral as he died over the winter of cancer. He was a debating champ at Aquinas. I was really impressed by that. I couldn’t imagine getting up in front of the class and making a cohesive argument. I remember him telling me he didn’t have to agree with the position he was assigned but he had to make a good argument for it.
According to his sister the Newcomer funeral home made a mistake with the newspaper obit. They listed the wrong location for the Mass that was to be said in his honor. I was looking forward to getting back inside Saint John the Evangelist on Humboldt Street, the parish I grew up in, but the services will be held at Saint Ambrose.
Today is the feast day of Santiago, the patron saint of Spain. We’re celebrating with a hearty Spanish dish, something we plan to eat in front of the tube while watching Spain play Australia at the Tokyo Olympics. We’ll have some Spanish wine and and desert (something we rarely do.) Peggi borrowed our neighbor’s spring-form pan and made a Tarta de Santiago.
We haven’t watered our garden in weeks. We’ve had plenty of rain just when the trees need it as they try to kick out another set of leaves after the moth defoliation. We picked a big bag of greens, kale, romaine lettuce, basil, zucchini and jalapeños for Matthew and Louise. Our neighbor, Michael Burritt, the percussion teacher at the Eastman School of Music, was playing his mallets while we picked and weeded. I have no idea if he’s practicing or working out a composition but the melodies, as beautiful as they are, never seem to resolve the way a pop or jazz tune would. We were meeting M&L in Sodus at El Rincon and just as we crossed the bay bridge we realized we had forgotten the big bag of vegetables.
The Maplewood Neighborhood Association sponsored a Garden Walk yesterday. Other than practicing in Larry Luxury’s basement back in the eighties I had not spent much time in this part of the city. The homes are stately, huge and well preserved. We started our garden walk by parking our car at Aquinas High School and walking up Dewey to the palatial Seneca Parkway.
Going west Seneca Parkway dead-ends at the railroad, which made for a well-timed bathroom stop. We crossed the street and park-like median and continued east on the opposite side of the street. There were thirty some homes on the tour and each backyard was a world unto itself. Not only gardens but swimming pools, patios, outdoor living rooms, fully appointed outdoor kitchens and cocktail bar-like settings. People live large in this part of the city. A couple who who had lived in their home for fifty years told us some of the neighbors have moved from one house to the other on the the same street.
At some point I had Rick Nelson’s “Garden Party” going through my head.
We were planning on getting together with Bob Martin this afternoon. He was back in Rochester for a few days, we had dinner reservations for tonight and we were going to spend the afternoon setting up our in-home recording outfit, a Scarlett 2i4 and Logic. Bob called this morning to say he and his wife both had either a cold or Covid. They are fully vaccinated but he had been making the rounds. Because they had symptoms they could not get a test so they self-quarantined in their their car on the way back to Chicago.
Our neighbors asked everyone on the street if they would allow parking in their driveways this Saturday. Their oldest is graduating from high school, the same Catholic school my father and Spaz went to. They set this bounce house up this afternoon along with a big tent.
We had 3 inches of rain in one day last week, a week in which it rained everyday, and two inches a few days ago. The garden and our trees, which were nearly defoliated by the gypsy moths, are loving it. My brother, who golfs every chance he can get, not so much. It is raining as I type this. But the last few days were lovely.
We crossed paths with Miguel at the entrance to the park and he was without his dog. He told us he takes one walk with the dog and then another by himself in order to get his miles in. We asked how far he walks and he told us he tries to get six miles in. He said he had just walked to Saint Paul Boulevard. We told him we were impressed and he said I have to do it, my partner is ten years younger than I am.
Not to be outdone by Miguel we walked through the park, along the beach and Lakeshore Boulevard to Saint Paul today. Peggi clocked it at 4.4 miles. Instead of coming back the same way we walked north to Rock Beach Road and strolled by the dreamy cottage-like homes that line both sides of the streets that deadens at the lake, the former White City.
We had nine miles under our belts by the time we got back home.
There was a period, a few years back, when I photographed every dumpster I saw. One of them was in our next door neighbor’s yard just after he died. He was one of the old timers, the original owner of a Don Hershey classic that was built in the late forties. You can see just a bit of his former garage door in the photo above. The dumpster is in our driveway. We’re getting a new roof, a metal one, just like our friends, Pete and Shelley.
The workers left their magnet on wheels here when they left for the day so Peggi and I took turns pushing it around the yard. Mostly`we found nails, roofing nails.
The cash register lines at Home Depot all had a sign that read “National Cash Shortage. Please use exact change for your purchase if possible.” It struck me as odd because I take every opportunity not to use cash. I use Apple Pay whenever possible and if others are doing this too you’d think there would piles of extra cash around. Then again, I try not to carry coins in my pockets. I have an old ashtray next to the bed with a pile of coins in it. Maybe that’s where all the cash is. And why doesn’t Home Depot accept Apple Pay?
These sidewalk preachers were really putting on a show. Dressed like shepherds in a manger scene they were videoing the proceedings while preaching to a handful of other guys in robes. And then there was me, on my way to Rochester Art Supply. The sign in front of the speaker showed the classic head of Christ, the 1940 portrait by Warner Sallman, but with red horns and the head proclaimed, “This Is The Devil. Jesus Is A Negro.” I kind of suspected that. I couldn’t figure out where they were coming from, going on about President Wilson and the Gold Standard. I took a photo and moved on.
The oak leaves are a little thin along Log Cabin Road but the they are indeed coming out again, just like they did in the spring. We hear it’s hard on the trees to do spring all over again and they may not be able to do it again next year but for now it feels like a miracle. We are still seeing caterpillars and stomping on each and every one but most are tucked away in their pupa stage. Moths are emerging and the giant oak in front of the Church of the Transformation has female moths laying their eggs on the underside of its 250 year old branches. I’m afraid we are in for another round next year.
Notice I never referred to the invasive pests as “Gypsy Moths.” We don’t use the common name anymore and for good reason. Until they come up with innocuous common name for the fuckers we shall call them Lymantria dispar.
We watched a blurry YouTube copy of Todd Haynes’ “Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story” last night. The movie is officially out of circulation because of a copyright infringement lawsuit by Richard Carpenter and I can see his point. It made me uncomfortable and not in a good way. Thankfully the movie went right into a BBC special on the Carpenters. Richard, Karen’s brother and musical director reminded me of Ozzie Nelson, as square as they come, but he brought a lot to their story. And the footage of Karen is sensational. Ultimately, extremely sad but the melancholy in her voice was always what got to me.
I played the two 45s we have tonight. Superstar and Rainy Days and Mondays. I’ll wait til December to get our Carpenter’s Christmas lp out. Long live Karen!
It is probably just luck that I have won the last four horseshoe matches but I would like to attribute it to something I’ve done. And it is something that has worked for me before but I had forgotten how to tap into it.
The crazy thing, like so many other things in life, is that I don’t really do anything at all. I just let it go. I throw the shoe toward the stake with just enough of a grip to keep the shoe in my hand and just enough effort to get it there. I step forward with my left foot while swinging my arm backward and then step forward with my right foot letting my arm and the shoe follow. That step is what propels the shoe toward the stake, my arm with the weight of the shoe just goes along and if I can get out of the way and gently let go of the shoe it does one graceful back flip before sliding into the stake with its arms wide open.
It occurred to me that this is how Hobie Billingsley, my teacher in the diving class I took at IU, taught me to do a back flip from the high platform. Billingsley was also the mens’ Olympic diving coach (the gold medal winner, Mark Spitz, was was in my class) and he taught us to trust him by instructing us to stand backward at the edge of the platform, 10 meters (32 feet) above the pool, keep our bodies stiff and simply let go. You naturally do a perfect 360 and cut smoothly through the water feet first.
We won’t put our homemade gypsy moth traps out this year. We learned that effort is pointless. In fact some speculate that the artificial pheromone may actually attract more moths to your property. We squashed a few caterpillars yesterday but didn’t see any today. Their pupas are in every nearby nook and cranny and quite a few have already emerged as moths. We found four females, the white ones, already attached to our trees with egg sacs below them. This is a 3 to 4 year cycle and we plan to address it with chemicals next year.
We secured a quote from the company that treated the guys’ trees on the next street over. Everyone is envious of their foliage, but we had a question about the quote. We are planning to entertain a treatment recommended by another company and they said they would stop out today. By chance the arborist from the first company pulled into our driveway right behind the truck from the other company. Peggi handled one and I the other. He asked me. “What’s he doing here?”
I thought Apple’s “1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything” was pretty sensational (spoken like a true fanboy). The overtones were not as preachy as they were in “Summer of Soul.” But I understand the desperate need for that. I went to Woodstock to see Sly and the Family Stone and the series of concerts featured in Summer of Soul from that same year was every bit as good as Woodstock. It is about time. “1971,” with solid research and clear evidence, made the case that the year was transformative on so many levels.
Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On” and Sly’s “There’s A Riot Goin’ On” alone make the case for ‘71. I get bothered by all the nostalgic wallowing that goes on with people my age. Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign capitalized on that. The techno music playing at the Co-Op this afternoon made it so much fun to shop. But these two documentaries are art history classes. Requirements. Plant food for the culture going forward.
We saw ‘Summer of Soul” at the Little Theatre on opening night, our first post-pandemic theater experience. We expected the theater to be mobbed but were two of maybe twenty. I don’t know whether to worry more about our generation, the movie theater business model or our tastes.
We didn’t get our papers this morning so I called our delivery guy and he told me “no one got a paper, the presses broke down.” It made for an interesting morning. We read a few articles online and then got on with the day. No news is good news.
My sister and her husband hosted a holiday weekend cookout and six of the seven siblings were there. Their backyard was a lovely setting for our first get-together since the pandemic began. We were caught up in couple of hours and moved on to meatier topics after dinner. I was thinking of how my mom relished the after conversations and the opinions from family members that often surprised her. She would even follow-up with her take the next time we saw her.
One of my brothers lamented the fact that his daughter got so rattled by the pandemic that she wouldn’t see him and he blamed the media for scaring everyone to death. Some family members countered with stories of friends who were stricken. The conversation took a political turn and my brother had to go. As many times as we’ve talked to him about all the hot topics we never realized he was a Trump fan.
The last time I saw my friend, Dave, before he died he had just spent time with his family and he was blown away by the discovery that they were Republicans. He said “Our parents didn’t hold these values. “ I probably said something about evolution and people turning against parents as the natural order but I don ‘t recall. I remember my father expressing the same sentiment in painting class when talking about the family he married into. “They’re all Republicans, except Ann and Bob (one set of my aunts and uncles).
Another brother suggested there was no truth anymore and and my sister added that we used to all watch the same news shows. Someone mentioned our cousin’s Facebook feed that reads like a litany of right wing talking points. I mentioned an article I read in the New Yorker written by someone who worked for the Murdochs. He was paid a bonus for each “this’ll get em goin” topic he found in the recesses of social media platforms.
I suggested the profit motive for the platforms had a lot to do with the divisiveness and I tried to connect the dots with the Netflix documentary, “The Great Hack,”that laid out how easy it was for Cambridge Analytica to harness facebook’s data points and then target the “persuadables” in the swing states with ads designed to “get ’em goin” thereby tipping the scales in the 2016 election. They described it as a piece of cake. But by the time I got the gist out there were four separate conversations going on at the table.
We had a spectator tonight, sitting in one of the yellow chairs, and she made a movie of the last couple minutes of our third round. It was twenty to twenty and Rick and I had already won one each. Rick was kind of nervous because he had the Spevaks coming over at 5:30 and that was jus a few minutes away. I took advantage of his nervousness and pushed him to play the rest of the third round instead of postponing it. You never know how long a match will take.
I picked up a point on this toss and Rick said “Damn it.” In previous matches I distinctly remember Rick saying, “You have to win by two” and I expected him to blurt that out but he didn’t. I took the victory.
Everybody wants what the gay guys, on the next street over, have. They still have leaves on their trees. With a little detective work we learned they had their trees injected with pellets in April, just before the leaves came out. You can see the tips of the casings for the pellets, filled with an Acephate formula and inserted every four inches around their trees. The tree will eventually close up the small holes
This bird, in the middle of the road in front of our house looks stunned. He’s standing in caterpillar poop and pieces of leaves, what’s left of the leaves from our trees. The gypsy moth caterpillars, bloated from feasting on our oak leaves, are curling up in their pupa stage. The worst is over. In a few weeks the air will be full of brown male moths in search of the white female moths who don’t fly but lay egg sacs that will hatch in the spring with up to thousand new caterpillars.
Ken from High Falls Tree service came out this morning and determined the DBH, diameter at breast height, of our trees. He uses a two sided tape that calculates the diameter as he measures the circumference. The inch markings on the back side of his tape are simply 3.14 times as long as an actual inch. This is why we spent so much on Pi in geometry class.