Friday, October 2, 2015

New Adventure=Pittsburgh to Washington DC

Starting this weekend, I will begin another new adventure--this time cycling from Pittsburgh to Washington DC. All on car-free paths!

I will begin Saturday, October 3 in Pittsburgh on the GAP trail, Greater Allegheny Path which connects to the C & O Towpath which winds through the Potomac Valley by historical Harper's Ferry into Georgetown, DC.

I will try if possible to post pics and travel diary, but I'm not sure how much internet connectivity I'll have or if I even will want it as it will be a get away and get back to nature. Send good vibes, prayers, hiccups my way as I'll be wanting safety, nice weather, and good trail conditions--also no flats or mechanical breakdowns.

I'm always amazed at how real life feels when I am bicycling and how the everyday melts away. I will not be thinking about my job, in other words. Keep on pedaling!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Blood Moon

I awoke Monday morning to a Blood Moon.

Actually I went to bed Sunday night beneath the gaze of a blood moon. But it was Monday morning when I checked on-line to see all the beautiful pictures from my friends at Facebook recording the Blood Moon. Literally friends from all over the world were posting.

I love the idea that we can all share in this phenomena as it will be 33 years before it comes again. I'm not going to say how old I'll be then, but for me it might not come again.

Beautiful. Dirty orange. Tattered clouds obscuring. Friends on a rooftop. Dogs barking. Children allowed to stay up late. Sharing a moment.
from Chicago Tribune

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a Genius

Congratulations to Ta-Nehisi or as I blogged only last week about this writer--the man--who has been awarded a MacArthur Foundation Genius Award which carries with it a huge cash prize.

I remember when I first heard him speak at an AWP panel. (And, lets be honest, his body of work is not overwhelming. He has not written a novel and had at the time a published memoir The Beautiful Struggle). But it was his non-fiction, his essays, his opinion pieces that spoke the loudest. Not like Trump loud, but a methodical common-sensical deliberate straightforward plain talk journalism that brought many more people into the "conversation." His writing goes beyond the echo chambers, the news media chatter, and the polarized position points that we've all become accustomed to.


In the article link above about the award the committee in fact cited his unique blend of "personal reflection and historical scholarship" about race relations in the US. The foundation highlighted his 2014 essay, The Case for Reparations, which it said "prompted a national conversation" about the treatment of black Americans.

Congratulations to a young man who deserves this award for his work and also representing under-reported views in the media. Thank you. You're the man.

Friday, September 25, 2015

City of Tomorrow

 I tune in to the three or four PBS channels we get automatically. There’s nothing on any other channels I’m generally interested in, so the last couple of nights I watched the 2-parter on Walt Disney. Such a sad/happy man who loved children/money/legacy. Yet certainly a visionary. It’s hard to imagine another country at the time who could have produced a Disney except a post-war America.

That being said, I’m not sure Disney had it right with his City of Tomorrow.

How does one go from flying teacups to Epcot, Ford and GE headquartered next to each other. It’s not surprising that corporations didn’t share his vision of utopia. The only place you might see clusters of corporate headquarters might be some offshore island. Remember when Walgreens threatened to leave Illinois and relocate overseas because they were done paying taxes? Epcot: concentric circles of progress, connected by a mono-rail. Not if the Republicans have anything to say about it, they’re constantly threatening to defund highspeed rail.

In this polarized nation of today is there room for a City of Tomorrow? Or would we all just turn on each other with ray-guns or legalized handguns or the Bushmaster .223 with a 30-round magazine.

The City of Tomorrow has to be able to tackle global warming, the disappearing middleclass, and lack of manufacturing jobs. Why does the City of Tomorrow seem so yesterday? Because Disney was in fact looking backwards as he designed his city. It was after a visit to his hometown of Marceline, Missouri (before the family lost their farm) that he began to form ideas for a futuristic “modern” city.

Modern based upon . . . what?

But Walt was slowly dying by this time, unable to catch a deep breath. Eventually “EPCOT: A SHOWCASE TO THE WORLD OF AMERICAN FREE ENTERPRISE” was scaled back. Now it’s just a corporate theme park.

Which is a little scary.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Facebook Memories

It’s always something new at Facebook—except a button to change things back to where they were.

Lately they’ve added a new feature. Facebook memories. Borrowing from your own timeline, Facebook will post something from your past. The first couple of times I smiled. The memory was precious.

But the last couple have been painful, which got me thinking. What about the couple who has now split? Or the accidental death of a loved one? Or any number of scenarios where the past thrown back at us brings heartache.

I’m sure I can google and find out how to turn this feature off. I can go to Facebook support and under a pull down menu select what my problem is and then receive an automatic response saying they have received my message, and it is in the queue. Whereupon I receive another message asking how that response was. If my problem has been resolved.

No, and no, and no.

Sometimes there is no resolution to hard memories. They continue to haunt us, make their way back to the forefront of our mind. There is no escape from Facebook and Facebook memories.

Monday, September 21, 2015

My Hair Cut

I don’t have very good luck with salon cuts. Probably if I were more decisive or picky it might help the haridresser. Instead I go in and serendipitously say do something. I don’t go very often.

But I had this Groupon for a cut and color.

The experience reinforced the impression that I am an old lady. I showed her a picture and gave her what I thought was a good verbal description: short and sporty.

She kept showing me Pinterest pics of models with hairdos that require blow drying, gels, and a live-in stylist.

She conferred with her colleagues and came back with pretty much the same hair style. It was someone I wasn’t. I didn’t know how to say it any plainer. Short and sporty.

I should have said, Let’s forget this. But I was starting to feel like I might be wrong and just wanted to go with the flow. Again, this isn’t how a customer should feel. I was reminded of when I went shopping for my wedding dress with someone who had good taste and strong opinions. She kept pushing me to go punk when I kept thinking English Tea Garden. Finally I just gave in and bought a dress that she suggested, something that reminded me of the female vocalist in Cowboy Junkies. Not me.

Thank God I returned it.

She wetted it and pinned it up in several places and took two snips. “What do you think?”

Uh, I thought you’re going to keep going, right? She had the picture right in front of her.

Anyway, this kept up for over an hour. She’d hesitantly make an incision and ask me what I thought. Finally, I said, You have to stop with the questions. Can you make it look like the picture? By the way, she was NOT in training. Though I wondered if because I had a Groupon they might have assigned me someone new, someone needing to build up her own list of clients.

What was killing me was the abortive effort—combing out a clump, pulling it toward her scissors and then letting it drop, and then repeating this motion without making a cut. After two or three tries she’d finally do something, only to do the same thing all over again. At a certain point I wanted to snatch the scissors out of her hands and ask, Can I just finish up here?

After 90 minutes she asked if I needed another tea, more water? My blood sugar had dropped. What I really needed was a sandwich. How close are we to being done?

She seemed hurt. I can go get my manager. Yes, I thought, maybe she could finish me off. They conferenced in a corner. Then it hit me. She’s crying. She’s likely complaining about the bitch in the chair whom she just can’t please. I get it. I stood up and pulled the cape off.

But do you love it? she begged. She followed me to the front desk,asking over and over, if I loved it. I realized I had to make her happy. So I lied. YES!

It was the most unfeminist thing ever. And, I hated myself for it. I caved in like I used to, used to with my parents, teachers, the wedding shopper. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. But first she told me, if I didn’t like it I could always come back.

Like never.

Friday, September 18, 2015

A Year Ago

A year ago I was in Sweden. It’s hard to say what I was doing exactly—it was such an amazing trip. Catching up with old friends, tea on a hillside overlooking a ruined monastery, picnics by big glacial lakes, swimming in those cold, cold lakes, biking, hiking, and those long incredible breakfasts.

Breakfast has always been my favorite meal and the morning smorgasbord in Sweden hits all the high notes. A thick creamy yoghurt, Wasa crisp bread, and thin slices of cheese.

Every day the sky was a miracle of bright blue. I think I have Swedish blood running through me. The way the sun moved and moved me, the way it hung and stayed up there for way past what would have been sunset for me back home. There are moments here where the sun is suspended and sends a golden glow over the landscape and my pulse quickens: Sweden!

I went “after the season” which I’m not quite sure what that means as the temperatures were moderate. I’d ride my bike all day soaking up the sunshine without burning, but tanning instead. The few days of rain only made me love the country more—once as I sat under an awning eating a snack at an old Roman ruin (I know, crazy how those Romans got around). I stayed dry contemplating a statue in the corner of the mother and child while eating some sweet bread from a konditori: KONDITORI (noun) \Khan- da- tor- ree\:
1: Traditional Swedish gathering place to enjoy friends over great coffee, fine     baked goods and confections.
2: Where one goes for a coffee break

I was able to relax and let go before coming home.

Perhaps a year ago I was cycling Gotland island. Riding across the pastoral landscape, checking into a hostel at the tip and taking a ferry to Faro where that evening I sat in a candlelit church and listened to a gospel choir and toured the Bergman Center. The next day I cycled past several old churches that served the fishing communities that once made up Gotland. I sat on the steps of such a church waiting for my hosts to come back from a scout meeting. Yes, it had been a rainy day and the sky was getting darker, but with lights on the bike I followed their car down a gravel land to the farm house at the end.

I miss the feeling most of all. Sweden felt safe and do-able for a solo female traveler. The world was mine.