no pretty tulips
Apparently these graphics come from a Bicycle Safety booklet that was distributed to elementary school children back in the 1950’s or 1960’s. It boggles my mind.
While I am typically not an advocate of re-blogging, reposting material from other people, I’ve been captivated, fascinated (?!) by a set of scanned images posted by one of my Flickr contacts (samhDOTnet) and felt the need to share.
The propaganda – the illustrations and accompanying captions – are nothing short of … crazy, terrible, horrific, mind-numbing, innapropriate, and countless other adjectives that I won’t list. As a child of the 60’s, I remember some crazy stuff from back in the day in elementary school (a booklet I had as a school “safety patrol” crossing guard comes to mind) – but nothing quite like this.
Most of all, it makes me contemplate the evolution of attitudes towards cyclists vs. “the rest” (cars, trucks, rights to roadways, even pedestrians), not to mention the image some people continue to have of people on bikes. And the fact that culpability for cycling fatalities and accidents in this country – for as long as we’ve been sharing the road – is often not well investigated and blame still seems to be placed on the cyclist rather than the driver of the motor vehicle more often than not. It’s a little hard to think about, really.
The entire set can be seen here (if you want to hurt your eyeballs), in his Set titled “A RIde of Death”.
I leave on my bicycle and often think: same roads, same fences, same old barns, same bike, same me … nothing changes.
And then I open my eyes and realize that nature, the natural world, is changing all around me. Beautifully. From minute, to day, to week, to season.
The same road is different each day in small and subtle ways. It is all the change I need.
bike the boat
Yesterday I worked; today I played.
Even though it is the first official day of spring, it felt more like summer. Eighty-plus degrees and sunny. The heat makes me want to ride to the river, and I figured I may as well try to do a little paddling. I have a nice set-up to tow my boat with my Xtracycle, and it’s a happy combination to be able to ride and paddle on a beautiful day.
My put-in is just up the road from our house, about 4 miles. Getting there was a breeze, literally. Gently rolling with an overall downhill grade, and I had a nice tailwind. It was definitely the easy part. Arrived and locked the bike along the guardrail by the bridge, and was reminded again of the mess that has been made of this river by Olin and their mercury dumping – which thankfully will be ending soon, with their commitment to converting the plant to mercury-free processing.
Meanwhile, I still cannot comprehend how people are still willing to fish – and keep their catch – despite the clearly posted warnings of high levels of carcinogens in the fish. Completely baffles me. I’ve discussed it with several fishermen before, but I have learned to just keep my mouth shut. There is no changing their minds; they perceive the risk as negligible. (And I secretly shudder and shake my head).
I paddled away most of the afternoon, exploring and trying to navigate the very shallow water. In places, I was paddling in only inches. The Hiwassee River levels are regulated and controlled by TVA, and at this time of year they don’t typically release water upstream for recreational use in this inlet. Hence, the lake that is filled and sparkling blue in late spring through summer, is filled with stumps and shoals and islands over the winter and into early spring. The locals call this inlet Stump Lake. A fitting name.
Dozens of Great Blue Herons were my company; I love to just sit and watch them fishing in the shallows. Turtles were out sunning on stumps and logs, but would quietly slip into the water as I raised my camera lens. One of the fishermen said he had seen a Bald Eagle near the bridge. Sadly I missed it. It was peaceful, quiet, and a beautiful afternoon to be on the water … and “pedaling” my arms rather than my legs for a change.
Having had enough sun and with fatigue setting in on my shoulders, I headed for home in the late afternoon – this time against a headwind, with a more uphill grade, requiring a bit more muscle to tow the boat. I will confess my wimpy-ness by saying it felt good to get home. Dinner was salad and veggie pizza. Not fish. Definitely not fish.
The month of March feels kind of like a vinyl record with a scratch in it; there is still a lot of music, but there are skips, repeats, and the tracks don’t always play as they should. For now, I am starting at the present, and moving backwards – in pieces.
Our son Mason came home from school for a brief weekend visit, as we had missed him over his Spring Break. We got to catch up, get back on our bikes after too many days absence, and do a little leisurely riding in the incredibly balmy temps that have been setting records across the country. Mason had spent his break with a team of students from his university; they travelled to the islands of Trinidad & Tobago to work on a Habitat for Humanity Global Village project – mixing concrete, shoveling sand and helping lay the foundation for a family’s new home. There was a cement workers’ strike on the islands, so they really had their work cut out for themselves – mixing everything by hand with shovels and a lot of muscle.
He had some wonderful stories (best listened to while we were out on our bikes), made some new friends, got some running in (lol), and I loved that he took some time from his busy schedule to do some giving back. (Photos from my son’s camera).
foot race challenge
Habitat for Humanity Global Village, Trinidad & Tobago … the cement mixing
While Mason was off getting dirty and building houses, the rest of us headed to the mountains for our annual week of skiing in Colorado. It was a well-needed break for all of us. The snow was wonderful, the skiing fantastic, and like in years past, it was hard to come back home – I always tend to leave a part of myself in the snow and mountains, and someday may be staying for good. My plan is to post a gallery of snow-mountain-ski pics of this place I love, my second home, later this week. But for now I’m just including a few of the bike-y ones (and a snowy one … because it’s been so warm everywhere else).
I love the active mountain culture in Steamboat, and especially that they are so bicycle friendly – they are an LAB Gold Level community. Skiers on bikes, bikes loaded with everything from groceries to snowboards to dogs and kids. Weather, altitude, snow-covered roads are never a deterrent. One of these days my dream is to have a little house along the Yampa River, riding on the Core Trail into town for breakfast or lunch, and loading my skis on my Xtracycle for a trip to the slopes. Oh, perfect life.
And then there was all of the tornado and Red Cross stuff that I had left off with. Sigh. I am relieved to report that the damage was not as massive in scope as last April – which is still little consolation to the people who have lost their homes – and we are all grateful that no lives were lost. Our local Red Cross chapter joined with folks from Chattanooga and Knoxville, and the relief efforts went very well, as you can read in detail here. (Photo credit for these two shots from my volunteer friend, Sandy; my camera stayed at home).
But very sadly, in the midst of all of the disaster response, our chapter suffered another major blow; due to continuing reorganization and personell changes, we now no longer have a Disaster Services Director in our chapter. My friend, mentor, and “boss”, Michele – a 10 year Red Cross veteran – is no longer with the organization. This change in addition to the other personell cuts made earlier in the month, I can’t help but think that the writing is on the wall, so to speak. It appears our small local chapter has effectively been dismantled at this point, and I am greatly saddened … I honestly don’t know what my own volunteer future will be.
Most frustrating, no one from the upper echelons seems to be providing any communication/direction to the volunteer base. It reminds me of sitting in an airplane on a runway with no pilot … are they going to cancel our flight? Are they going to send another pilot? Or do they just expect one of the passengers to take the controls? Like I said, it’s just incredibly frustrating – which made my decision to leave for some skiing during Spring Break a little easier.
I am back to my bike, my silly routine. I am sorry to have not been able to finish the Utilitaire games, but I take my hat off to The Old Guy and my other friends who finished successfully – I applaud you all. And I thank MG for the dreaming up the whole idea, for I had great fun participating for the weeks that I was able to – which, for me, is what it was all about anyway. It made me re-think variety in destination riding, and I look forward to incorporating the goals into my riding routine.
Hopefully the remainder of March will be a little more normal, a little less interrupted, no big scratches. We’ll see.
It’s almost unfathomable that we could experience another nightmarish day of tornados again after last April – that catastrophic weather could be spawned across the country once again. First Illinois, then Alabama, Kentucky, Indiana, and Tennessee again, and I don’t even know the continuing scope of today’s damage. But locally, our fears have become reality. Again.
A tornado (tornados?) tore through our county again today, hitting almost yards from some locations that had been devastated last spring. Our home was spared, yet again other nearby neighbors not so lucky. Again. My friend Jenn’s neighborhood was hard hit, and my heart goes out to them. A neighborhood next to our middle school sustained major damage, homes destroyed. Injuries. Reports of people pinned and trapped in collapsed buildings eastward in the county. The news is heartbreaking – from here to surrounding states. And the night is not yet over.
Our Red Cross disaster assessment team go out as quickly as we could, and before we could even get assessment numbers on one neighborhood, we were called back in because of a second round of tornado warnings being issued. I’ve seen one very small neighborhood, a few streets, and I don’t even want to imagine what else lays out there, judging from reports I have heard.
When we got the call to come in, take shelter, we headed over to the local EOC, watching radar, listening to reports being radioed in from various sources. We ran out of daylight, and now the only responders are emergency fire and rescue personell. I know it will be an around-the-clock for these people, along with our Red Cross Disaster Director and the shelter staff.
The Red Cross has opened a shelter, the calls from local residents are coming in at a steady pace. As I write this, we are under another tornado warning. I am home with my family, and our hand-crank radio is at hand.
So, not unlike last spring, I am signing off for a period of time unknown. I think it will be Utilitaire #fail … as there is work to be done, and not only locally. I suspect I may be deployed within the coming days, weeks, depending on how we can manage locally. We’ll see. But I am ready to go.
Please support your communities if they have been hit; please support your relief agencies who will be working to serve across the country. Families are in need. Donate your time, donate supplies, donate your dollars if possible – they will be greatly needed.
And please … have a plan, make a kit, be prepared. Godspeed.
the Red Phone at the EOC … can’t help thinking we need a BatPhone
utilitaire 10 of 12: a-go-go
Riding across the Riverside Drive glass bridge in Chattanooga always gives me an imaginary sense of victory(?) over cars. I love standing on that bridge with my bike and looking down at the cars driving underneath; I am looming over them for a change (even it it’s only in my mind…).
Today’s destination was number 12 on the Utilitaire control card: to get my hair cut. My once-a-month-or-so trip to Chattanooga to visit my stylist, Chris, at Hair-A-Go-Go gives me a chance to ride into the city on the Riverwalk.
I will confess, I have to drive (shame on me!) to the northern terminus of the Riverwalk from home; but living about 40+ mi outisde of the city, an 80-mile round trip would be a big stretch for a reasonable commuter distance for me. Sorry. This way, anyway, I cut a little off of my driving distance, and get to ride the “scenic route” into downtown, and have some time to enjoy the destination. I think the approximate distance from the north end of the path to the Bluff View Art District downtown is about 8 miles one way, so the round trip makes for a relaxing and comfortable ride which I almost always make on Elisabetta.
Got my haircut, stopped into the downtown art supply store for a new pen, and then lingered around Coolidge Park for a little while enjoying the incredible sunshine and the balmy temperatures. I think we reached the mid-70’s. Lots and lots of people were out, walking, biking, sitting on benches on the Walnut Street Bridge, enjoying picnics in the park.
Before heading back, I stopped to treat myself at Rembrand’s Coffee House in the Art District. I was in the mood for one of their blackberry Italian Cream Sodas … it was heavenly, especially on the warm day. I am not exactly sure what makes it “Italian” (because I don’t remember ever seeing anything like this in Italy), but it is basically blackberry syrup, soda water, and some cream – yes, real cream – over ice. Not something to indulge in on a regular basis, but for an occasional treat, I shall have no guilt over it(!).
My hair is back to it’s short and trimmed state, my journal enjoyed the sun and the park (if not my attempts with the new pen), and I am still imagining the sweetness of blackberries and cream. A few scenes from the day … and a big thank you to the very kind new friends who have visited these pages from today’s Freshly Pressed; it was an unexpected surprise, and I am quite bowled over by the kind words and responses. Many thanks.
playing with new pens
Chattanooga has a thriving hipster population … Riverwalk
Scenic City bridges … Coolidge Park