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Posts tagged ‘bicycles’

beginnings

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The beginning of 2013.  New ideas, new projects, new roads to discover.

I’ve taken some time to think about blogging, biking, photographs, the whole narrative.  About what I do and why I do it.  Early last year I read a post by one of my favorite artist/illustrators, Tommy Kane (who is often on his bike, looking for things to draw).  When I read the post, it felt as if he had pulled words right out of my head … he said:

“Why do I keep going, you might ask?  Well, the answer is simple, I just can’t stop.  The truth is, when it comes to my art, I have no real goal in mind.  I’m not really heading anywhere.  I’m not sure what I’m trying to achieve.  Maybe I’m just searching for a brick wall to run into.  Once I do that, then I can take a long needed rest. … So for now I ‘m going back to what I do best, making drawings of buildings and objects for no apparent reason whatsoever.”

While I hesitate to think of myself as an artist, or even a “photographer” (in that official label-y kind of way), I know that I am compelled to create, like Mr. Kane – “for no apparent reason whatsoever”.

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My family can attest to this habit that often drives them nuts; I have to make things, I have to have a camera at hand, I have to take photos, I have to write down little bits of thoughts, observations and ideas.  Some of it has appeared on this blog, much has not.

Keeping a diary was something I started when I was a child, and I’ve never outgrown the habit; the format has just evolved.  My great-grandmother was a diarist, my grandfather was a painter and prolific letter-writer who kept carbon copies of every page he ever mailed.  I am now custodian of these things.  I suspect I have inherited a genetic component.

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My photos and other “bits” (including this blog) have just been added to the archives, and my now hoard includes of boxes of prints, shelves of journals, notebooks and albums, clouds and hard drives filled with digital files – evidence of an addiction to creating and recording, and a compulsion that I am sure some psychologist might have a field day analyzing.

There are likely as many reasons to start a blog as there are individuals.  I think it is often a combination of exploring a topic or subject, and the urge to create something.  “Putting it out there”, so to speak,  may be inherent to the creative process;  it is the voice of the creation.

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In the beginning, I think I justified my own decision to “go-public-and-blog-about-it” with the the idea that maybe I could inspire someone to get on a bike.  I’ve come to the conclusion that if you want to ride a bike, you will; if you don’t, you won’t.  I don’t think pretty bikes, pretty pictures or just the right words will change a mindset.  If you happen to be leaning over the fence of “could I/should I?”, there are many vocal and more effective advocates and cheerleaders out there who can provide advice, reviews, instruction and analysis on every aspect of cycling to help you decide.  There are groups and clubs to join (real and virtual), lists to subscribe to, pledges to sign, rides and events to partake in … it’s a very bike-y world out there.

Whenever I find myself in very bike-y cities – places with lots of people on all sorts of bikes – I most admire the everyday-ness of the cyclists I see.  It’s just a way (granted, sometimes a necessity, but usually a more enjoyable one) of doing something, getting someplace.

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When I have watched cyclists in these places, or when my husband brings home photos of people on bikes in China, I always think:  I seriously doubt this guy writes a blog about schlepping big loads of stuff on his rickety old bike, even though I find it incredibly fascinating.  To these people, it’s nothing extraordinary.  To these everyday cyclists, to photograph or write about it would seem as ridiculous as writing a blog about doing laundry or brushing your teeth.  (Although I have no doubt someone could put an incredibly creative and artistic spin on either of these… and find a way to blog about it).

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Over time, my enthusiasm to get a message across through blogging transformed into, well … whatever it is now.  Kind of a jumble of photos, thoughts and personal narrative on the beauty of what I see out there; an extension of this lifelong habit (obsession?) to create and record.

Most bloggers, artists, photographers, writers, etc., want to have their work noticed.  Most want to be known, at least to some degree or within some social or professional circle.  They want their work to be recognized for an endless range of reasons – from being able to make a living,  to personal or professional validation, to inspire change or action, or simply (and sadly) for personal notoriety and self-promotion.   The irony for me is that I have always been averse to much of this.  I have no agenda and recognition typically makes me uncomfortable.   I don’t need validation; I could care less whether it’s good work or complete crap – I just need to do the creating, the recording.

All of this makes it pretty ridiculous for a person like me to even have a blog in the first place.

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So.  Maybe I have found my brick wall.  I have decided that I simply want to ride my bike.

I will always take pictures, I will always be fascinated by bicycles (and cows and old barns).  I will always be compelled to create “stuff”, and will continue to fill boxes and bookshelves with my cycling (and my life’s) flotsam to be entertainment for some future curious grandchild who may be induced to become the new custodian.  But I don’t need to publicly blog about it or illustrate it, or to advocate, review or analyze something that is ultimately so simple and so basic – just riding a bicycle.

Keeping a blog has been a wonderful exercise; I have learned much and I have grown.  But it has also taught me that the narrative I am compelled to keep can be archived in a less public space.  It is enough for me to write privately on paper, to stash the results in journals and albums on the bookshelf, and I think it may ultimately be more liberating, more honest, more creative.

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I now understand the things that will always be a part of me – and those I can let go of.  This is the beginning of a new chapter for me – as just a cyclist, a person with a camera and a notebook, and not as a blogger.  I’m retiring.   I’ll leave the site up  … until I don’t.  For my friends who still want to see bike-y and other pictures, I intend to continue with my Flickr stream and you are welcome to come and look; it’s a convenient repository and organizational tool (and remains a compulsion).

To my friends and family who have read and looked at these posts over the years … thank you all for all of the kindness you have so generously shown to me.  Thank you for seeing things in my pictures that I had never noticed.   Thank you for understanding my words even when I didn’t always know what I was trying to say.

Thank you for riding along.

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utilitaire and a little more

Trailhead Bicycle shop

Utilitaire 6.12: it began as a trip to the bike shop, #8 on the control card (for the second time).  And then transformed into a fun family-friendly community ride on the Greenway, and finally a quick stop for dinner – along with picking up a few boxes of girl scout cookies. Mmmm.  🙂

Dillon is home from school for a quick weekend visit, and we took a ride to the bike shop.  Our shop owner, Charles, had also gotten a small group of us together at the end of the day for what is hopefully the first of many more family fun rides on our local Greenway.  The idea is to bring families together for some easy and kid-friendly rides, promoting a little more bike friendliness within our community, and working on building/strengthening an advocacy network.  I think there is also a leaning toward trying to fill the rides with “bicycle variety” – fixies, cargo bikes, and other non-typical bicycle”oddities”.    As the weather warms up and the days grow longer, we hope to include other activities like themed rides, bike picnics, frozen yoghurt stops, maybe even a wine-and-cheese type of stop for the adults.  Who knows?  We’ve also talked about incorporating some of the Utilitaire-type destinations and goals into the mix, but ultimately to appeal to a wide range of cycling abilities and interests, and get more people out on their bikes.

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soon-to-be-new-dad Jeff test driving & planning ahead

We left from the shop, rode the Greenway from end to end, and stopped to a few minutes of discussion and planning within our fledgling start-up group.  I think we all had fun; I know I did.  Mostly, I hope we can grow the group and the idea … I would love to see more of my local friends join in the fun.  I took a lot of photos and am posting a few – hope these friends don’t mind, as I didn’t really get permission.

After the group ride, Mark, Dillon and I headed back, stopping for a quick bite on the way.  I didn’t manage to get a full-fledged night ride in as I had hoped … but we did get home before it started to rain.  Night rides will have to wait for another day.

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Dillon tries out Jeff's fixie

Charles, owner of Trailhead Bicycle

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It was lovely to spend the week in Chicago, altho sadly without any snow this year.  I love the city during the holidays – the lights, the decorations, the window displays.  While it is a heavy dose of opulence and extravagance, it feels somehow acceptable in is own way – at least on a temporary basis during the holidays.

We walked and walked, took in a movie and a play, shopped and ate  … the foods I remember from my childhood, growing up near the city. It brought back dear memories of Christmastimes past, and it is sweet to be able to share it and make new memories with my own boys who have come to love this city.

We saw plenty of bikes, a number of cyclists, but once again, my attempt to capture a bike messenger in flight never happened.  One of these days …

Tonight we will ring in the New Year at home with friends, and look forward to adventures on the road ahead in 2012 – and wish you all the same.  Cheers!

bicycles and fireworks

Best way ever to celebrate Independence Day … family, friends, and Xtracycles packed for a picnic, concert and fireworks along the river.  😀

Happy July fourth!

Coolidge Park & the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge, Chattanooga ... at dusk

let the fireworks begin!

day 1 of the next 25 years

 

“holding hands”

 

Yesterday was our 25th wedding anniversary.   There were beautiful flowers, heartfelt messages and cards, and a lovely romantic dinner, reminiscent of our trip to Italy… yet how does one even begin to write meaningful post about something like this, without sounding like a smarmy greeting card?  I had to leave that to my beloved partner, friend and husband – Mark.  He sent me an email early this morning:

Happy Day 1 of the next 25 years!

Yes.  Just ….. yes. 🙂

As we near Thanksgiving, and celebrate this personal milestone, I am reminded of how beautiful my life is, that I am well-loved by an amazing and inspiring family, and that I can think of no person I would rather continue on this journey with than my husband Mark.

A very happy Day 1.

 

25 years later... (Steamboat Springs, CO - March 2010)

the center of my universe - my family (Washington DC by bike, October 2008)

 

dear friends

 

on the streets of Florence

 

Dear Family and Friends,

I have returned.  A bit changed, no doubt – as inevitably happens when visiting a new place, meeting new people, experiencing new things.  Happy, tired, filled, and fulfilled.  Full of bicycle memories and wonderful food, the warm colors of of the Tuscan landscape, the lyrical and expressive sounds of the Italian language.  Awakened to important lessons – learning the beauty of living slowly, savoring the flavors, taking in the landscape, speaking through actions and gestures.

I’ve been debating on how best to tell some of the stories of this trip … As you may have already guessed, there is an excess of photos (will be putting final cut on my Flickr as I manage to get them uploaded) along with experiences on the bicycles that are probably too numerous to re-tell.  But for my family, and especially my boys away at school who wanted some details, I have decided to tell the story over the course of several days (and several posts).  So please bear with me – and check in as often or as little as you care to.  I guess that’s the beauty of the blogosphere, isn’t it?

The story begins in Florence, where we arrived and had roughly a day to spend walking and enjoying this incredible city before setting out by bicycle across Tuscany.  The architecture is stunning – from the cathedrals and museums to the Ruine Anno (river) and Ponte Vecchio.  Bicycles and cyclists are everywhere.  From the young and hip, to the older and more classically chic Italians, everyone rides bicycles.

The streets are typically European – narrow, cobbled, winding, and always charming.   Everyone gathering in the piazzas in the evening for food and wine and fellowship.   The food was beyond description; olive oil, rosemary, porcini mushrooms, crusty bread, vino rosso, and light fragrant pasta dishes … hard to get enough.   And of course, our daily GOD (Gelato Of the Day).

Twenty-four hours is not nearly enough time properly see and appreciate this beautiful city, but we managed to walk until our legs nearly fell off and saw as much as we could.  Simply, it was breathtaking.  And I want to return someday.

So began the adventure….

 

family transport on the streets of Firenze

 

 


lunch at a sidewalk trattoria, and the things that would become imprinted in my mind: bottles of olive oil and bicycles (because it really doesn't get any better, does it?)

 

 

our lunchtime view - Piazza del Duomo

 

 

red bicycle outside of a trattoria

 

 

no one seems to care when they don't always ride on the righthand side of the lane...

 

 

she could seriously be my role model

 

 

Firenze (Florence) - one of the gems of Tuscany

 

someone stole our bikes (kind of) …

Rest assured – the bikes were not stolen.  Just their image…  I will explain.

I have hesitated to even post this, because I mostly feel that it’s not what I’m about, not what I want this blog to be about.  But I also feel quite strongly about right and wrong, ownership and theft, lessons learned, and I think there is an important message to be conveyed.

(Not to mention I also owe Casey, Jenn and Stan some beer and pizza over this one. 😉

Imagine my surprise when one of my twitter friends, Casey – a great guy, biochemistry PhD candidate, and fellow Xtracycle owner out in Montana(!) – sent me a note saying he was pretty sure he had seen a photo of my bikes in a local magazine, Outside Bozeman.  Yeah – as in Bozeman, MT.  And really, what are the odds of that – on every level?!

naughty, naughty Outside Bozeman...

So I managed to get a copy of the magazine, just to see if he was correct.  And sure enough, there they were – my photo of our bikes that I had taken almost three years ago out in our front yard. In Tennessee.

They had apparently pilfered the photo off of either my old blog, or from my Flickr set – both of which expressly state “License: © All Rights Reserved by (me)”.  They never asked for permission, they offered no attribution.

So, what to think?  Part of me was a bit conflicted.  If it encouraged anyone to start riding a bike, or even purchase an Xtracycle, I felt like this was a good thing and served a good purpose – and really, it’s one of the main reasons I like to share my love of bikes and biking through photography and blogging.  And yes, it was exciting (to some degree) to see one of my photos in print.

But I also feel very strongly about copyright, ownership, asking for permission to borrow or use or modify, having heard several stories of other peoples’ photos being “stolen” for profit-making endeavors (made into postcards, store flyers, etc.).

Wrong is wrong.  And in the end, after discussing with several people in-the-know, I decided it was important to let this magazine know that I didn’t find their actions appropriate or ethical.  I wrote a letter, and I sent them a “republication” invoice for the use of my photo.   And waited.

Two days ago, I received a small and brief hand-written note of apology along with a check for what they claim was “twice their usual rate” – basically about enough for beer and pizza, but more importantly, evidence that they had gotten the message.  And hopefully won’t resort to doing this kind of thing again.  (Or so I like to tell myself.)

When all is said and done (and photographed and posted and published), I want to be clear about a couple of things … First, I am more grateful than any of you will ever know for the kind and positive comments I get on my photos that appear on this site, on my Flickr, and on ShutterCal.  And while I strongly respect ownership – of all art forms, from photography to music to any other medium – I am typically honored to share, to offer the use of my images to those who are considerate and ask.  Please know this, and please feel free to ask. (As long as you don’t intend to print postcards to sell…).

Over the past months it has been an privilege to collaborate and share photos with people like Rick from Xtracycle, Darryl at LovingTheBike, and even recently with an online poetry journal, POOL, put together by another amazing friend and photographer in her own right.  A couple of my friends have wanted prints of certain shots, and I am so very flattered to offer them.   Every one of them has honored me by asking, been more than generous with attribution, and provided me with a wonderful opportunity to share what I love.  Because in the end, photography is meant to be seen; and if the bicycles I love are in the mix, even better.

So – Casey, Jenn and Stan … I will buy the beer and pizza, but I have decided to send the proceeds of this little experience to the Dan Austin and the great people at 88bikes – because it just feels like the right thing to do in the end.  Someday, possibly,  I will be able to put my camera to work for an endeavor like theirs….

from Outside Bozeman ... to 88bikes.org