We used to have a Pussy Willow tree in the backyard of our house in the city. It grew like a weed and I would cut six feet off the branches every year to keep it away from the power lines. We got in the habit of picking fresh bunches for the house. Out here, by the lake, we spotted one on what we think might be park property, the undeveloped part. We keep our eye on the tree and raid it when the time is right.
Only those who are sick have a right to complain so this isn’t a complaint. It is an observation. I am finding it impossible to get anything done during this stay at home shut down. I thought I would be putting dents in all sorts of projects but I spend the whole day reading about the virus, reading about the president’s free-styling, talking to friends and relatives, placing online orders, taking a walk and then worrying. And everyone who has ever picked up a guitar has a down home performance on social media so you can pretty bogged down there.
It wasn’t even two years ago when we learned of Janet Williams‘ passing. And now, Ted Williams, who I didn’t know was even sick. I posted the same picture then, one I took at a Margaret Explosion gig in the Bug Jar.
We first met Ted in 1988. His parents were members of Oak Hill Country Club and friends with Jeanne Westerfeld, another member who we were doing a lot of commercial art work for. Ted’s parents were trying to find a job for Ted and they told him he should meet us.
He came up to our attic office at 55 Hall Street and introduced himself as a poet. We made it clear we were lucky to have work ourselves but we hit it off. We were deep into shooting products for the 1989 US Open merchandise brochure and we had them all spread out in the attic. Ted told us he had an idea for a product that would sit inside a golf hole and and make a noise if a ball landed in it, something you could hear from a long distance, in case you got a hole-in-one for example. He probably left us a copy of his book and we probably bummed a Winston off him before he left
The next significant meeting was in our dining room where we hatched plans for an alternative broadsheet, something we decided to call the Refrigerator. Martin Edic, Peggi Fournier, Robert Meyerowitz and Chuck Cuminale were all involved but we decided to publish anonymously, something Ted was never on board with. He was a real writer. We were not. He left after issue 14 and started the Freezer.
Peggi and I played music with Ted as members of his Stage Poetry Group, later renamed the Media Assassins. We’d hang out in Ted’s attic until morning, talking or looking at his slides. He was a poetic photographer. I will miss him.
I didn’t sleep that good last night so I did an extra dose of walking thinking I will sleep better tonight. It’s hard to get the day started with all the dreadful news and protocol revisals to wade through. And now Vitamin supplements might be good again. It is only 27 degrees so I’m hoping my face was able to take enough of that in.
I love this time of year. Hints of color everywhere after a sustained absence. Spring is so dramatic. More dramatic than the virus.
We picked our third batch of Forsythia branches today and brought them into the house to replace the first batch that is beginning to fall. This will surely be the last because the bushes are just beginning to flower outside. All I can say about the photo above is that the yellow motorcycle looked cool so I photographed it. It did not look like it was floating.
I don’t shop at Parkleigh but my sister works there and they stayed open through the weekend and then closed, laying of my sister after ten years of loyal service. Everybody has a story like this.
We found the press conference given by the top Medical experts at UR sobering but helpful. We don’t have anywhere near enough tests and there is nothing they can do to treat you if and when you contract the virus. Their top concern is isolating those with it. Keeping health professionals safe and isolating hospital patients with it. Good luck.
This, from Paul Krugman’s column, pisses me off.
“Compare, for example, America’s handling of the coronavirus with that of South Korea. Both countries reported their first case on Jan. 20. But Korea moved quickly to implement widespread testing; it has used the data from that testing to guide social distancing and other containment measures; and the disease appears to be on the wane there.
In the U.S., by contrast, testing has barely begun — we’ve tested only 60,000 people compared with South Korea’s 290,000, even though we have six times its population, and the number of cases here appears to be skyrocketing.”
NYS prison laborers are making hand sanitizer to keep up with demand. I read an article about how dangerous the grocery store is. The place to go if you want the virus. It fed my suspicions of live shopping. Instead of going in Wegman’s we used their Instacart service and drove up there to pick up the items they had in stock. I was surprised how long an online order takes to fill. Our wait was just over two days.
Our shopper texted us when she began filling the order. They had no dried beans, no canned beans, no beans of any variety. She sent us a photo of the empty shelves. Organic brown eggs. Forget about it. We texted back. “OK, any large eggs.” She texted back, “We have no eggs.”
Out walking today we saw groups of teens. A cluster of girls that wouldn’t give us space on the boardwalk in the park. We had to hold our breath as we passed by. They’re out of school and hanging with their friends. I don’t blame them. I wouldn’t have taken any of this seriously at that age.
Our friend Kathy walked by our house this afternoon. She texted us to say say and we waved from the window.
They will be closing the swing bridge in another two weeks so time is running short if you want walk into Webster. In the past we’d meet friends for lunch on St. Patty’s, at Shamrock Jack’s for many years but then they got so busy they started charging admission. We moved on to the Bayside and tried to get there before noon to grab a table overlooking the bay. It’s not an Irish joint but their food is better and every place has a good beer selection these days.
Today it was just Peggi and me. We made peanut butter sandwiches and we put those and two cans of beer into my backpack. We walked through the park, down Culver to the lake and across the bridge into Webster where we found a picnic table between the lake and the bay.
There are more people than ever out in the park. We ran into Bri from the Little and Brenda from Atlas Eats. But it was so sad to see all the Sea Breeze hot spots closed or doing take out only. Shamrock Jack’s had a tent out front strewn with Guinness banners but the park lot was completely empty.
I am really impressed by the effort the park people put in on this fallen tree. They had cleaned up all the branches by the time we come across it. The stump is off to the right and from the sawdust evidence it mast have been laying across the road. This portion of Log Cabin Road is closed to car traffic all year so the situation allowed the park tree surgeons leave this upside down, organic, three pronged sculpture in the middle of the road. What amazes me is forethought that surely went into cutting the angles on those three big limbs. This thing is firmly planted. We took turns walking through the gateways.
Peggi was’t much help when I brought the first load of wood up from the fallen oak down below, the one they had to take down because the power line had singed it. But the next day our friend Steve, helped. He was staying with us and didn’t have the proper footwear or gloves for working outside so I offered him some mine. He asked if I was aware of the term, “LumberSexual.” I wasn’t but he joked that I could take a photo of him for his “Timber” profile. We got two car loads of wood up to the wood pile and we’ll let it sit there until Peggi gets her cast off.
That’s my dog, Andy, sniffing the 1970 Census forms that I was responsible for filling out. It was one of the many part-time jobs I had in Bloomington, Indiana where I went to school for a couple of years. I’d go door to door, trying to catch the homeowner at home so I could ask him three or four pages of questions. Not everyone was cooperative. I’m guessing the Census taking process is all digital now. I wouldn’t want to be going door to door in this climate.
Wednesday was Margaret Explosion’s last gig at the Little for a while. They closed their doors at 5PM today and promised to make the dates up when we get to the other side of this contagion. The “Broken Wrist Series” went out with a bag. Mark Bradley and Roy Marshall sat in with us the first week and Jack Schaefer sat in with us last week. Peggi’s cast comes off a week from Wednesday and we’ll start doing Margaret Explosion gigs from home.
In the Fall our neighbor, Jared, had a Hickory tree come down on the hillside behind his house. It fell across the road and took the power lines down. Peggi and I cut the wood to log lengths and hauled it up to our yard in preparation for splitting. This winter one of our trees came down and took the lines down again. The telephone pole between our properties, the one that carries the primary (high voltage) line, was yanked in both directions.
Sometime after one of these incidents we noticed a black patch of bark on one of our trees. About twenty five feet up in an oak that is well over a hundred feet tall we guessed that it had been hit by lightning. The spot, about eighteen inches in diameter, appeared charred and was shinny when wet. When we looked at it from our bedroom it appeared to be reflecting a light source, maybe from the neighbors down the road who leave a light on by their driveway around the clock. In the last week or so the light points became more intense like lasers. Our house guest, Steve Black, became sort of obsessed by it and alerted us to especially active periods.
When he called our attention to it yesterday there was a small flame shooting from the tree. Outside we saw smoke and for the first time realized one of the power lines had burned a deep gouge in the tree. We called the power company and they called the fire department. Three trucks answered the call but they didn’t want to touch the wire. When the power company got there they lassoed the wire and pulled it away from the contact point. They tied the rope to another one of our trees. Rather than move the pole backing place they decided to take the tree down.
This morning we woke to a guy way up in the tree. It took him about four hours to lower the branches and ten the crew dropped the 30 foot long tree trunk and left it for us.
The photo above, taken this afternoon as we walked along the lake, goes well with Todd Beer’s painting from yesterday’s post. These days I spend quite a bit of time thinking about painting. I’ve been getting my digital house in order, scanning old photographs, tucking things away on PopWars and keeping the Margaret Explosion site up to date. And I’ve become addicted to walking. I’m wearing out my third pair of Merrill hiking shoes since we walked the Camino. Those activities, along with reading the paper, can fill up a day. I’m hanging on to the idea that you can become a better painter just by thinking about it.
All the best stuff is “Untitled.” Todd Beers had a rockin’ opening at Lumiere last night. A dj was spinning old 45s, a mixmaster was serving craft cocktails (I had a can of Genny), and Todd’s mom was there. And there were plenty of red dots on the wall by the time we got there. Todd was showing a wide variety of work and I’m guessing it was from a long stretch of time. Peggi and I used to back Todd up at some of his poetry readings and it was a thrill to see him and his paintings.
We were dog people for a day when the dog sitter next door asked us to cover for him while he went out of town. We got to the corner with Gus after he stopped to smell almost every plant and we came face to face with the big black dog, off lease again. We’ve had several run-ins with the creature but were worried about Gus this time. Gus emptied his bladder by the time we got to the park he surprised us by holding up for a two hour walk. We circle Durand Lake on the trail that hugs the shoreline, one of the prettiest walks in the park.
Heard the trio, Twin Talk, tonight at the Bop Shop. Hit the spot. I came home with a Mingus album, Live in Europe Volume 1, with Eric Dolphy.
Steve Black is back in town with a new collection of video footage. It has been a joy to watch him work. He commandeered Peggi’s computer and finished this one last night in iMovie.
We managed to lose another set of Margaret Explosion music. Ever since Bob Martin left town it has been somewhat a struggle for us to get our sets recorded. This time we remembered to to turn on before we started but one off us unplugged the power before the Zoom recorder had written the files. You’d think the battery would take over in a situation like that but it doesn’t work either. There was some interesting stuff in the first set. Peggi played keyboards with her good hand and led us in a particularly good fugue. Mark Bradley played tenor sax and Roy Marshall played drums in the second set and made sound like pros.
We got out early in order to beat the rain but it never really came. The temperature was near fifty and queese were overhead heading generally in a northerly direction. There wasn’t much sun out and we didn’t expect the lake to look so dramatic. We came back with so many photos. This was my favorite.
We stopped in the park to chat with some people on our way back. One of the guys in our cluster had come up the road from the direction of the lake and I asked if he had seen the lake. He hadn’t but he said he and his wife lived on Lake Bluff Road for four years and their bedroom looked out over the lake. He said the lake has a different personality every day.
Joy Adams did these two drawings from memory. They are a tribute to Ducky, a goat she owned for years but had to get rid of. She called him a soulmate and says “in a former life he might have been my husband.” The drawings are featured in Rochester Contemporary’s Makers & Mentors 2020 exhibition and Joy gave an artist’s talk this afternoon along with one of her former students, Lin Price.
Born in England just after the World War her memories of the English countryside reshape what she sees from the window of her barn/studio/home in Ithaca. “There is nothing unique about lavishly prickly weeds or trees dozing off in my backyard, unless I manage to bring something new to how I see them. The challenge is to avoid the predictable because predictability is about as welcome as a cold cuppa tea.”
She told the crowd she tries to tell the truth by moving beyond looking to seeing. Mostly through direct observation. She says the soul that drawings have is the difference between looking and seeing
We walked over to Home Depot to get a new toilet seat. You know how you look at something many times a day and then one day you see it. You notice how discolored it had become. We got one that drops in slow motion. Both the seat and the cover. We paid a few extra dollars for that feature.
While we were there we wandered over to the lighting department. One of the four foot fluorescents in our garage started smoking the last time i was out there an I wanted to see what kind of shop lights they had on the market now. I bought the old fluorescents out at Hechinger’s back in the seventies and put them on a timer over some pot plants in our basement. I was surprised how easy it was to grow and wound up with a pretty good stash but I got too paranoid and put the lights out in the garage. Home Depot had a four foot, bright as hell, LED light for 25 bucks. Lasts up to thirty five years of continuous use. I brought that home too.
The technician took Peggi back for more X Rays while I sat in the office with her purse. Her left wrist has been in a cast for a week now and she still had not seen the Orthopaedic Surgeon. She mentioned that her right wrist was also sore so they X-rayed that as well. I could hear the doctor in the next room talking to another person about the coronavirus. “It is gonna get out. It is impossible to control. But 30,000,000 million Americans have had the flu. 10,000 have died of the flu. I had a flu shot and I had the flu last week.” It was a little disconcerting.
Peggi came back and then the doctor came in with some good news. He determined her left wrist would not need surgery and he expected it to heal up fine in another five weeks. He told her she had chipped a piece off the bone in her right wrist and that it too would heal in time. Peggi then got right down to business. “Can I play my saxophone?” He recommended she take it easy for a few weeks. Margaret Explosion is back at the Little for a month of Wednesdays in March.
That’s Catalan for “More than a club.” And indeed FC Barcelona is more than a futbol club. It is Lionel Messi! We watched him score four goals against Eibar this weekend. And then watched Real Madrid lose to Levante 0-1.
We love both these teams and will be hard pressed to root for one over the other in the upcoming “El Clasico.. “Because Barcelona just regained the top position in La Liga, dethroning Madrid, we will probably start out cheering loudest for Los Blancos, the underdogs. Since Renaldo left they are only a club.
Last Sunday we met our friends, Jeff and MaryKaye, out at their house on the river. We went skiing along a trail maintained by the Genesee Land Trust near the old canal bed. There were just enough obstacles to make it a real adventure. And there was the added drama of not knowing whether the trail would would end somewhere near where we started. It was great but that was our last ski this year. I’ll explain.
This winter is crapping out so the snow melts in the day and then freezes at night. Our road, which was supposedly “dedicated” by the town couple of years ago, gets plowed but they don’t drop salt on it. And we see the plow a lot less often than most neighborhoods. The frozen ruts from the car tires make the road treacherous on foot. That’s where Yaktrax come in, those wound metal coil things that you strap over your shoes. They work great.
But once we get off our street the roads are spotless. On Wednesday I didn’t even wear mine but Peggi did. When we got out on the clear road I thought to suggest Peggi take hers off. I should have done more that thought because one of her Yaktrax rode up on her show and the Yaktrax on the other shoe caught that one. Peggi went down fast. I just put away our ski boots for the season. Peggi has a cast on her broken wrist.