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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 Photo and a Poem

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February 2015

It

Has

Been

So

Cold

Bleu…how I felt and what I saw…and on starting over (in words and pictures)

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“So what do we do? Anything. Something. So long as we just don’t sit there. If we screw it up, start over. Try something else. If we wait until we’ve satisfied all the uncertainties, it may be too late.”

~Lee Iacocca

So a couple things. One is….isn’t color incredibly beautiful? The way the light changes. Sometimes I forget this. There is the phrase, the blue hour (or l’heure bleue), that refers to that point of morning or evening when the sun is just about to rise, or in this case, has just set but there is still light in the sky. And the angle of the light radiating from the sun through the hemisphere creates this incredibly beautiful blue hue (yes, post uploading processing helps, but just a little). But I’m jumping ahead as I often do. Let me begin again.

Today is Ash Wednesday, the symbolic day when Jesus went into the dessert to meditate for forty days, and when Christians are supposed to metaphorically replicate this and look within themselves (to step into their own personal desert), to assess, to renew, to serve. I really enjoy this time of year (and that may sound odd because it is sort of morose),but I do. Introspection suits me. But I’m jumping ahead, again. Let me start over, again.

In the times in which we live, to be a chef one must be an extrovert, or at least a pretend extrovert. I fall into the latter category. I am nearly 100% INFJ but on the job I have to act as an extrovert’s extrovert…calling out orders all day, correcting, and even reprimanding, but also nourishing, complimenting, and encouraging. In short, it can and is exhausting some (most) days. And this is what I have been doing for more than half my life during this incarnation. Pretending to be an extrovert. Thus said, let me begin again.

I had such high hopes for the beginning of this Lenten season…high hopes of personal change. And then yesterday happened. I had an altercation with an employee that escalated to a yelling match dropping f-bombs left and right. I am no angel, I never said I was. Everyone has their buttons that can be pushed. And when this happens–when it’s over–I internalize it. Last night I barely slept. And today I could not and cannot appreciate the depth and breadth of this sacred and mystical time of Lent. But I can start over. Begin again. We all can, I suppose. Every day.

This morning I worked my first job, and then rode my bike to a very short shift at my second job. And when that was over I got on my bike and rode in no particular direction. Not too far, mind you, as it was cold. But I just rode. And when I stopped I was facing the scene in the bottom photo. It took my breath away. I’ve taken many photos from that spot, which is Hoyt Lake at Delaware park, but I was there at just the right time tonight. It looked almost mystical. When I walked to the edge of the lake the snow was so deep it was up to my thighs, and when I set up my tripod it was stunted because I stood on the snow but the tripod’s legs pushed down into it.

And as I stood there with my gloves off my fingers began to sting in the cold, my feet crunched in the cold snow, and my breath fogged up the camera view finder. But it was incredible; it was beautiful. For a few moments I just stood there. And at that moment nothing mattered or made sense to me. How silly, I thought to myself, it is that we humans treat each other (as an employee and I did yesterday as we yelled at each other in a heated argument)…even though we are interconnected.

So tomorrow I choose to start over. It is my choice, after all. Will things be perfect…nope. Will things be rectified with the employee in mention…doubtful. But I can begin again. Anew. Because in the finite time that we have on this planet in this current incarnation each day is like a little cross-section–a little slice–of our entire life. And I do not feel like wasting it. Standing in nearly the same spot, but trudging through snow while dragging my camera, tripod, and heavy bike, I took a few more photos, which really seemed to connect me to this time and place…to the present.

Anyhow, this is what I was thinking as I stood in the cold while looking at the same blue that countless people and generations have seen before me. The thing is, sometimes I can see it and sometimes I can’t. Tonight I did, and it was beautiful. Tomorrow I (and we) begin again. I just hope I don’t screw it up.

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.

Things that can be carried on a bike (#470), and on another really cold and snowy evening…

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A gym bag containing wet clothes, and $46 worth of groceries.

Urban Simplicity.

The view from my kitchen window at dusk on a frigid and snowy day…

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Urban Simplicity.

And on a really cold and blustery day…

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So I only have a very short “commute” to work every day (today, though, was a split shift so I had to commute four times). And I normally don’t complain about this; I actually like the winter. But geeze o’ man…

It.
Was.
Cold.
Today.

Really cold. The bottom photo is a screen shot from my phone (and yes, to those not viewing this from the States, that’s 5 Fahrenheit). Both the other photos are shots of my ride in this morning about 8am. The temps today did not even reach double digits; tomorrow looks to be colder.

It was been this cold and snowy prior this winter (many many times in fact), but today it just hit me. I only saw a couple other cyclists brave enough (crazy enough) to ride today. And one of them is pictured above. We chatted a bit at a stop light just before I took this photo. He agreed, this has been a challenging winter to say the least. That’s all I’ve got for tonight; I think I’ll throw another log on the fire and pour another glass of wine.

Urban Simplicity.

Two views from my handlebars…

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I took these photos at sunset yesterday when it was a balmy 32F. Since then the temps have plummeted again, and so did the colorful sunsets.

Urban Simplicity.

Things that can be carried on a bike (#566), and a brief comment…

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On the bike…a case of red wine and a gym bag.

A brief dialogue…

The Sales Person at the liquor store: Would you like me to carry the case of wine out to your car?

Me: No, but you can carry it to my bike.

Sales Person: [blank stare]

Me: But no seriously I can carry it to my bike to myself.

Sales Person: [smiling now, as if I’m teasing him]

Second Sales Person: No he’s serious…he’s “that guy with those bikes.”

Me: [smiling]

Urban Simplicity.

A Winter’s Morning (three photos)

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Urban Simplicity.

Two views from my handlebars (in really cold and snowy weather)…

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These were taken on two separate nights; the top photo last night and the one below tonight. The weather has been pretty much unchanged…bitterly cold and somewhat constant snow. But I am not complaining about this as I work in a kitchen and would actually take this weather over 90F and humid. There is something truly serene about riding a bike in this weather; hearing your tires crunch on the frozen snow and feeling the cold air on your face. But I’d be fibbing if I said that temperatures hovering in the single digits or low teens (Fahrenheit) for the past few weeks (or has it been months?) has not been trying. Anyhow, I still find it beautiful.

Urban Simplicity.

The Good Neighbor…

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So here’s a picture of my bike parked in front of Cafe 59 on Allen Street in the neighborhood in which I live in Buffalo. No big deal, right? Well it is, and this photo speaks volumes. Not only does the owner shovel both of his sidewalks (it’s on a corner) he also shovels the sidewalks in front of the restaurant he owns across the street. And he also thoroughly shovels out all the bicycle racks in front of his restaurants (something like five of them…get one for your business). Anyhow, this is a rarity. Often times I end up sort of piling my bike on top of a snow mound to lock it against a pole in the snow. And when I went in and thanked him for shoveling the bike parking, he simply replied: “Bicyclists deserve good parking, too.” Nice. It’s things like this that really make a difference in my life.


Urban Simplicity.