Wednesday, July 13, 2011

GrowingUP:The Metaphysical Nature Of Cutoffs...

Once upon a time, in the not so distant past...the 70's, life was different. I know, I know, every generation says that, but I mean it. As I have mentioned, my oldest child is leaving for college this month and I therefore, more than usual I mean, have a sense of urgency to make this summer last. I have always loved summer vacation from school. I love having my kids home. I love the heat and even the stickiness of summer time. And dirty feet. Nothing gives me joy as much as seeing the absolute filth on the bottoms of my kids' feet. THAT is the measure of a good summer!  I love the laziness of it. The carefree days spent doing almost nothing and virtually everything all at once. I feel more myself during the summer than any other time of year. And that my friends in a very round about way brings us to the 1970's, my childhood, and cutoff jean shorts.

Seriously. Isn't everything that is good and decent in the world epitomized in a pair of cutoff jeans? I am a little afraid that this once ubiquitous article of clothing has gone the way of the drive-in movie theatre and shoes with laces. But really, what cutoffs symbolize will forever be embedded in my soul and I for one intend to pass this legacy on to my children before it is too late.

Clothing was not as inexpensive in the 70's as it is now. There was no Target or Walmart or the like. There was the only mall...and Kmart. And boy howdy those of us forced to shop there were subject to great humiliation at the shopping for the clothes and even greater humiliation at the wearing of the clothes. Jeans so stiff and so reenforced at the knees as to render the wearer completely immobile for at least the first two weeks of school. After not a few washings and wearings the child could eventually produce movements something akin to that of a Stormtrooper. You may have guessed that I did not have clothes from the mall. Unless you count Sears. Mind you this is the 1975 Sears, not the Sears of today. I believe those jeans were actually made from recycled tires, but I am not sure.

Needless to say, by the time these jeans softened up it, it was the last week of school and they were high water, but only had holes in the first two layers of the knees!  Of course nowadays, we would head to the store to go "summer clothes shopping" for shorts and T's and new sandals. But this was not invented yet when I was a kid. Summer clothes shopping consisted of, you guessed taking a pair of scissors to the jeans! Free at at last...

Knees were now uncovered, free to be scraped and bruised and dirtied. Shins were free to be tanned and skinned; scratched and mosquito bitten. Boys ran around bare chested and girls donned swimsuits, but every last one of us in cutoffs and bare feet. It was summer.

So there you have it...The letter M inasmuch as it pertains to cutoff shorts. Too much of a stretch, Teach? Check out this link for AlphabeThursday if you would like some more appropriate interpretations of the assignment!

Quote of the Day: "Deep Summer is when laziness finds respectability." 
--Sam Keen philosopher

Thursday, July 7, 2011

SpeakUP: Etiquette Is Your Best Bet

It seems as if I have been rather absent from the blogging world as of late. With four kids home for the summer it is nearly impossible to get computer time. Half the time I cannot even find the thing, and when I do the battery is always dead. Oh well, such is life. And dishes...up to my eyeballs in dishes, but that really has nothing to do with this post. What does you ask? Well, bicycles, that's what.

Bicycles you say? Yes. Bicycles. I really love to ride my bike. For fun, for exercise, for transportation. Hunky Hubby rides his bike to work during the months that he can.  (One of the ways he stays Hunky!) He has done this for about 18 years and has only been run over once!  I have noticed that there is a general lack of knowledge of bicycle etiquette in this area. Really it is only reasonable to cycle here maybe five months of the year, so most folks are not used to bikes being on the roadways and pathways, so I understand. It would be nice though, if we could all learn to share the roads and paths in peace and harmony. Pedestrians, Cyclists, Motorists...united as one. "I'd like to teach the world to sing..."

I am pretty sure no one really cares about this but me, but it's my blog so here goes....
Laws for cyclists vary from state to state, so I am not going to go into actual laws of riding on the roadways but know....good manners especially on non-motorized pathways. Using good manners makes it easier for all of us to enjoy common "ground", smoothing out bumps in the "road" and avoiding potentially "abrasive" situations.

In places where cycling for transportation is common there seems to be one general rule: Get where you need to go as fast as possible and try not to get killed while doing it. I think there should be more rules.

#1 Be courteous. When we give respect we get respect. No darting in front of cars or running over pedestrians. Riding with traffic when on the road is best and using hand signals helps motorists know what we are up to. Cyclists have the right to be there, but we need not be brutish thugs to get respect on the roadways.

#2 Vocalize. Bikes are quiet and pedestrians, more often than not, have headphones these days. A simple "On your left" is common courtesy. Remember also that the peds have the right of way so let's slow down and make sure they are safe before passing. No need to speed past the walkers and joggers. A little "Thank You" when passing never hurt anyone either!

#3 Right is right. When negotiating on-coming traffic on a shared pathway, whether bikers, bladers, boarders, or pedestrians, stay to the right (at least here in the US) and slow down a bit. Being predictable is always the safest bet. Try to make eye contact if possible. I had an on-coming pedestrian jump right in front of me on a path recently. I slammed on my brakes and nearly bit it in the grass when I swerved. I assumed he saw me. Apparently he did not.

#4 Be visible. Bright colored clothing, lights and reflectors make it easier for everyone to see a cyclist. Try hard to be seen, but always assume that NO ONE sees you!

#1 Don't be afraid. Most cyclist are not out to get you. Stay to the right of the path and allow the bikers to go around on the left. If a cyclist is courteous enough to warn you that she is coming up behind (or if you see them coming toward you) do not jump or scream or turn around and stop in the middle of the path. Just keep walking and move a bit to the right. That is all.

#2 Keep a short leash. Nothing is more frightening to cyclists than dogs on a long leash or no leash at all. Dogs are even more unpredictable than humans and do not understand left from right. Getting up close and personal with the pavement is a real possibility for a cyclist who is caught in a leash. Fido won't be too happy either. Keeping the dog on YOUR right side is safer for pooch and pedaler. It allows the bike to pass on your left both coming from behind or toward without worry of leash entanglement.

#1 Please do not run us over.

#2 A little space is nice. It makes cyclist more comfortable when motorist pass without hugging the bike lane, if there is one. If there is no bike lane this is even more important. A thrown rock is a nuisance to a windshield and a motorist. It is deadly to a cyclist. So is getting run over.

#3 Drop the superiority complex pretty please. Cyclist have the right to use the roadways including center turn lanes and crosswalks. We promise to obey the traffic laws, be predictable in our movements and use hand signals if you promise not to run us over.

#4 Please do not run us over.

If you are a cyclist, or share the road or pathways with cyclists, please add to my list. Comments are always welcome. I also added a bit to my story under the fiction tab. Let me know what you think if you have a second. Loving summer. Loving my bike. Share the road my friends...and happy riding!

Quote of the Day: "When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race."  ~H.G. Wells