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Denis and his human-powered mobile floral shop…

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So this is Denis and his mobile flower shop. I’ve seen him pedaling around town recently and today was behind him when I asked if I could take his photo and hear his story. He’s a recent Buffalo transplant by way of NYC and does floral arranging full-time; this is a summer gig. That’s a Worksman trike he’s riding which he ordered through Rick Cycle Shop. He says business has been good. I only talked to him for a couple minutes as we were both in the street and on our way, but if you’d like to read his full story he was recently profiled at Buffalo Rising. And here’s a link to his Facebook page. Peace, Denis. Thanks for letting me take your photo, and welcome to the City of Good Neighbors!

Urban Simplicity.

Things that can be carried on a bike (#673), and a few thoughts and photos from a rather long ride…

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On the bike…a camera, and extra lens, a tripod, a change of clothes, three bottles of water, a jean jacket, and a few things to eat.

So a couple things. The first is that I had a great ride today. The weather was idyllic. And it was the first longish ride I took with the somewhat new Boda Boda. The round trip was a little over 30 miles/ 48 kilometers. I really enjoyed it but at the same time I have come to full acceptance that none of the bikes I ride are made for distance, at least not for this middle-aged body. The Boda Boda is the lighter of my bikes and it still weighs in at about 35lbs/15kg with nothing on it. Another thing about this ride that–in retrospect–seems almost comical, was getting over the Peace Bridge (I rode from Buffalo to Crystal Beach, Ontario, Canada). I only cross the bridge a couple times a year by bike and each time the security measures seem to change. The photo below (two below) shows what I am talking about. This is new, at least since last year. In order to leave America by bike one has to traverse this revolving jail. And if they manage to make it through–which I did barely–on the Canadian side bicyclists now have to wait in auto traffic and go through a toll booth for immigration inspection. Anyhow, that being said (or I should say…having that off my chest), it really was a great ride. I rode the Friendship Trail, which is pictured below and is pure joy to ride. Also below is an image of Old Fort Erie, which dates back to 1763 (before the US or Canada existed). And also, which I like to do when I cross the bridge by foot or bike, is stop at the international boundary line, with one foot in each country (pictured below). The image directly below is of my beautiful hometown, Buffalo, NY, as seen from Canada. So would I make the ride again on the Boda? Yes, without question (I already have plans on doing it again in autumn). Even with the difficult security measures? Yup. But maybe I’ll see if I can circumvent the revolving jail somehow (I was actually stuck for a minute or so (breath, Joe, breath). And hey, if security gets any tighter maybe I’ll see “the Donald” collecting tolls at my next trip over.

Urban Simplicity.

A few more.

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Here’s a few more photos of my ongoing “Waterfront Series.” These were taken the evening before last. Click any for a slightly larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

On the waterfront (bis)…

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Okay. So sorry about the multiple pictures of Buffalo’s waterfront. I have posted from this same vantage point on numerous times prior. But I just find it so fascinating. Every time I go there for a couple beers (there’s a beautiful outdoor bar) and to take photos I see something different even if looking at the same scene as before. I shot these a couple evenings ago. I really like them all but the most dramatic, I think, is the one pictured above. I saw this when I first arrived…this crazy turbulent low-lying cloud just sort of rolling across the lake and above us. And rolling is a good description because I later found that it is actually called a “roll cloud” (or Arcus cloud). Shortly thereafter there was lightening and rain; this cloud was a sort of precursor. Anyhow, and I apologize in advance, but there will likely be more waterfront photos before the summer is finished…

Urban Simplicity.

Lady Liberty, an Uncredited Quote, and a Few Other Things…

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So I had the day off of work yesterday and felt like taking a few photos. I’ve been meaning to go to the observation deck at city hall for a while so that’s what I did. The view really is spectacular. In the rear of the building there is an incredible vista of Lake Erie and the Canadian shoreline, to the north I could clearly see the roof to my house, and to the east a spectacular view of our city and another of my favorite buildings…the Liberty Building, which is pictured above, below, and a closeup in the very bottom photo. The photo directly above and below are the view as you walk out onto the observation deck. There is an inspirational quote etched into the glass (click the below image for a larger view). I was surprised to see that the quote was uncredited. I had to Google the words to find her. The words are from the gospel song, Remind Me Dear Lord, written by singer/songwriter Dottie Rambo and popularized by singer/songwriter Alison Krauss. Anyhow, as I was exiting the building and unlocking my bike a guy approached me. I could see that he worked at city hall because of his name tage. He asked me if I were taking photos, to which I said I was. And at first I thought he was going to warn me or something. But as it turns out he just wanted to tell me to go to the Common Council room to take photos of the stained glass windows. I didn’t know it was open to the public, but he assured me it was. And to my surprise I went back in and up to the thirteenth floor and pulled on the large wooden door and it opened. Anyhow, the building truly is beautiful, and these are likely mre photos than you care to see. But feel free to click any for a slightly larger view. They are in no particular order. To see a few evening shots of city hall, click here.

Urban Simplicity.

Photos from a Vigil…

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Tonight a few hundred people gathered in Delaware Park to remember the very short life and tragic death of Maksym Sugorovskiy. I rode my bike. It was a beautiful night. But I couldn’t help but think how incredible it was that all these people–mostly strangers, including myself–gathered in remembrance of this innocent child. I took a few photos because despite the crowd of people the park looked so lovely and peaceful. It in itself looked sort of innocent.


Urban Simplicity.

On the waterfront (bis)…photos and words

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So a couple things first. These photos were taken over a two day period. The night shots were taken on one evening, and the daytime shots were taken on another (today). And they are in no particular order. As usual, on a day off when the weather is nice (or even if it is not nice) I was drawn to Buffalo’s waterfront, specifically the Canalside area the last few days. The reason I highlight this is that this area has gone through such a resurgence it is almost unbelievable. Just a few years ago this was like an industrial and desolate wasteland, and now it is (and quite literally was today) a carnival. A little more than ten years ago I remember riding my bike down to this area and being somewhat concerned for my safety in broad daylight. I said a few sentences ago that the photos were in no particular order but that is only partly true. I purposely chose the above photo to be first as a juxtaposition…a tilt-a-whirl in the spot that was once a destitute area. And just below is pictured the new bicycle and pedestrian water taxi, which takes one to the Outer Harbor and Times Nature Preserve. For one dollar and a 10 minute ride your distance is shortened by 6 or 8 miles. This is where the picture of the deer is from…beautiful and totally wild deer 5 minutes from downtown. There’s also a photo of our lighthouse (from both sides of the river) which was built in 1833, the SS Littlerock, and or course the newest public art in that area; Plensa’s Silent Poets. Anyhow, I feel truly blessed to have this beautiful public space a mere 10 or 15 minute bike ride from my front door.

Urban Simplicity.

The sun also sets…

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These photos were taken over the course of two days. And they are from one of my favorite spots…the beautiful Buffalo waterfront. The weather has been so incredibly nice this past week, and I have been working way too much, so whenever I’ve had the chance I have been heading to the water. I bring my camera and sometimes a journal or a book…and simply decompress. And it doesn’t hurt that there’s an outdoor bar with some of my favorite local beers on tap 🙂  Anyhow, I’ve taken a bunch of photos of the harbor this past week and these are a few of my favorites.

Urban Simplicity.

A few things I saw while riding my bike today…

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Urban Simplicity.

A few things I saw while riding my bike today…

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I rode my bike to Tift Nature Preserve this morning. And it is really interesting on a few levels. One is that the nature preserve is located within the city limits but when there you have the feeling of being in the country. And to get to it (by bike) one has to ride through an industrial section (which is also teeming with wildlife) and past the Outer Harbor. Anyhow, I took a bunch of photos, here’s a few of my favorites.

Urban Simplicity.

A few things I saw while riding my bike recently…

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Urban Simplicity.

Adapting…

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Single digits (again).
All bike racks buried under feet of snow.
The winter that goes on and on.

The desire to stop for a beer and a couple slices of pizza.

 
Adapt.
verb.
: to change your behavior so that it is easier to live in a particular place or situation.
: to change (something) so that it functions better or is better suited for a purpose.

Urban Simplicity.

A few things I saw while riding my bike today…

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From top to bottom…

The soon-to-be new headquarters of the Delaware-North Company.

Grain Elevators on the Buffalo River as seen from the Ohio Street lift bridge.

What I believe is a Peregrine falcon hunting on the river.

The Michigan Street Baptist Church.

Buffalo, NY as seen from Ohio Street.

The Shamrock Run as they cross the Michigan Street lift bridge.

A building in the Cobblestone District.

Urban Simplicity.

Not since 1885…

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The above photo is of the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site, which is where Teddy Roosevelt was sworn in as the 26th president of the United States after the assassination of William McKinley in 1901. The building was originally built in 1839 as a a sort of army barracks outpost to ward of those crazy Anglo-Canadians (wink wink). But that’s not what this post is about. This is about what happened–or didn’t happen–in 1885, which actually has something to do with today. If you notice the photo above is on an ever so slight slant, that is because my fingers were in pain from the cold as I held the camera. Today nearly set a record. In February of 1885 Mark Twain (former Buffalonian) published the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the Washington Monument was dedicated, and Grover Cleveland (former mayor of Buffalo) was inaugurated as the first democratic president since the Civil War.  But also, in the 145 years since the weather has been recorded there was only one day that was colder than today, and that was February 11, 1885 when the temperatures did not reach above -4F. Today it made it to -3F. That doesn’t even make sense to me when I use it in a sentence…”today’s high was minus 3″…I understand the words but how they are arranged seems confusing. The house I live in was built around 1860, and with my steam boiler churning away and logs roaring in the wood-burner it is nice and toasty, but I can only imagine how they kept warm 130 years ago. And with the roller-coaster weather we consistently have these days, if you happen to be a climate change denier please un-follow me and this blog because there is no longer anything to deny. Anyhow, below are a few more photos I took this evening. I was actually warm on the bike (which is pictured in the bottom photo), but when I took off my mitts for just a minute to control the camera my fingers began to sting; it hurt to breath sometimes so I kept a scarf around my face which froze with my body’s own condensation; when I blinked my eyelashes would stick together from watering/freezing. Tonight’s low is supposed to be -14 and I have a two mile ride at 8am, so please send positive energy my way. Click any photo for a larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

A few things I saw while walking in the snow today…

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So I’ve said this before (regarding all-weather bike riding) but I have to say it again…I may be a little crazy–ok, a lot crazy–but I’m not stupid. If the weather gets too bad I just walk, and that’s what I did today. This winter–even by Buffalo standards–has been a challenging one to say the least. I’m not sure when they started naming winter storms (is this something new?) but this one is called Winter Storm Neptune. Anyhow, I was feeling the effects of cabin fever this morning and took an elongated walk to a coffee shop. I took a few photos, these are my favorites. Click any for a larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

Forest Lawn in the Winter…

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So I have posted photos from Forest Lawn Cemetery a few times prior (click here to see them) but never in the winter. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve been there in the winter. And I’ve also commented on how beautiful and tranquil the cemetery is, but in the winter it is even more so. Aside from an occasional car, the only other (living) person I saw was a woman feeding the ducks and a gravedigger. But then there were times where I would ride–with the sound of snow crunching under my tires–with the company of just the wildlife and the cemetery’s permanent residents. I really felt as if I were in a wild bird sanctuary in the middle of the city. When I would stop and listen there were cars in the distance, but above that I could here the water fowl, tons of crows, and some birds of prey (which unfortunately I did not get a good shot at). I took a bunch of photos, and here’s a few of my favorites. Click any for a larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

Snow Hunger…

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So a couple things. I came out of our local JCC where where I regularly steam and swim and this moon was staring me in the face. I had my tripod with me because I’m participating in the Fun-a-Day project for February–and am taking a photo a day for the month–and wasn’t sure what would inspire me until I saw this. I came out the back door just as it rose over the horizon on another really frigid night and it nearly took my breath away. The February full moon goes by many names–Sad Moon, Wolf Moon, Snow Moon, to name a few–but the one that really resonated with me was Hunger Moon, so named because food (in times bygone) was often scarce during this frigid month. And yes, it has been frigid…and snowy. Below is an image of my bike after arriving home this evening. I’d be lying if I said it has been easy these past few days, but I’m still enjoying it and know it won’t last forever (and I’d also be lying if I didn’t admit that it’s about this time of year that I don’t start to pine for warmer weather). This said,  I really enjoy being an active part of my environment, plus it’s a great workout. Some people downhill or cross-country ski, some mountain bike, this is what I (and others) do. And there is something really ironic, I think, when a guy on a bike stops to help push a car that is stuck in the snow.

Urban Simplicity.

Snow White Buffalo in Black-and-White

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So last night the huge winter storm that clobbered the Midwest hit Buffalo en route to New England. The weather predictions were only for 8-10″ of snow but it ended up being more like two feet. I had off of work and had a few errands to run so I bundled up, grabbed a camera, and walked (I thought about riding a bike but the side streets still had at least a foot of snow on them). Anyhow, it was really a beautiful walk. I walked for probably a few miles and was so bundled up I was actually sweating even though the temperature was something like 11F. Anyhow, here’s a few of what I saw. Click any for a slightly larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

Stop Making Sense…a few things I saw while riding my bike today.

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I don’t have to prove…that I am creative.

~David Byrne

So I mentioned recently that I–like so many others–have been ill with the common cold. And because of this I have been basically doing nothing around the house…sort of self-sequestered. And because of this my spirits have been low. If there are two things that bring me down they are physical inactivity and creative inactivity…so this has been the perfect storm. Thus said, this evening I bundled up–layer upon layer–and loaded some camera gear on my bike and went out on a very cold evening for a very slow ride and a few photos. Physically I am not cured, but emotionally and spiritually I am. It is, in fact, just what the doctor may have ordered. Click any photo for a slightly larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

People in tents on ice, a feral black cat hunting, a herd of city deer, and a few other things I saw while riding my bike yesterday…with brief but pro-bicycle commentary.

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So first a couple things. One is that this post is a sort of continuation of this previous post where I went to Buffalo’s Outer Harbor in search of the elusive snowy owl (I didn’t see one either day). In the previous post I used a car to get there–which was great because it was dangerously cold and windy–but yesterday I rode my bike the six miles each way as the wind was less and the temperatures were higher (but it was still damn cold). I started to think that maybe I was a little crazy (people are always telling me this–either with words or looks–because I choose to ride a bike year round) but then I saw all those people in tents on ice–entire families–and I realized I might be the sane one. Anyhow, and I’ve said this before, but I see so much more on a bike. When I took the car I basically saw the waterfront (the destination), but on my bike I witnessed–was part of–the entire trip there and back…and the area this is in, which is currently being developed, still has a sort of wild/industrial/feral/post-apocalyptic feel to it; many of the photos were taken along the railroad tracks that run along Ohio Street. A good example of this (seeing more on a bike) are the deer images…these are three of about a dozen photos of them. I had just crested a bridge and thought to myself, “I hope I see a deer or two,” as I’ve seen them in this area before. If I were not on a bike I would have never seen them, but I was close to the side of the bridge and sure enough I glanced over and there was an entire herd of them walking along the tracks. I stopped my bike and watched as they gracefully meandered under the bridge. When they came out the other side I got off my bike and walked to the end of a train that was parked there and watched them. They were so graceful and beautiful to watch; I must have watched them forage for food for about 15 minutes…how could I ever eat them, I wondered? Cars zipped past, their occupants unaware of this beauty right next to them. Then after a bit, and after I took a few photos, I tried to get closer and they ran away. On my way home I stopped at one of Buffalo’s newest hipster bars, Ballyhoo, which is on the far edge of downtown, mainly to warm my hands as I had my gloves off to take photos, and had a couple beers. By the time left was almost dark and it started to snow a little; the flakes and cold air felt good against my face the way that a winter evening does, and I stopped to take one last shot, this time of Chippewa Street, which is only a mile from my house. When I got home my middle-aged body was tired from pedaling into the wind (both ways it seems) while wearing heavy clothes. And even though I didn’t see a snowy owl I saw a lot more. I feel like I should carry photos with me so that the next time a person asks why I ride a bike year round (or they give me “that look”) I can show them the photos and say, here is why…this is why I ride a bike.

Urban Simplicity.

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