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Lake Effect!

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Snowflakes are one of nature’s most fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together.”
― Vesta M. Kelly

 So the other day it snowed. Hard. Lake effect snow. I had the day off so I went for a walk and took a few pictures. If you have never been to the east of any of the Great Lakes during the winter, or you are not familiar with the term “lake effect,” this page can explain it. Anyhow, click any picture for a slightly larger image.

Urban Simplicity.

Things that can be carried on a bike (#727)…

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On the bike:

A small backpack containing wet gym clothes, about $25 in groceries and sundries, and a small Charlie Brown-Style Christmas Tree.

The views from my handlebars on a late winter’s eve

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So I had the day off today and was out running errands on the bike bike (surprise, right?). Normally by this time of the year I am so tired of the snow that I can’t wait for it to end, but it has been such a mild and mediocre winter that mostly what I am waiting for is the gray and wet to end. Anyhow, it started to snow and I had my camera with me so I took a few photos, and here they are. Click any for a larger view.

Journal Entry 12.28.16

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I find this time of year particularly difficult. At least the snow has melted. But it’s not the snow, it’s  the short days and the early dark. The darkness. Ride to work in the morning in darkness and ride home in the evening in darkness. But we’re past the winter solstice so we gain a bit everyday. A few minutes more of light every day. And that’s enough, just a few minutes a day, the steady climb to light, is reassurance enough to know there is more come.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
~John 1:5

Winter.

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Winter
You arrived so suddenly
It was a surprise
You hid in the shadows
For a long time
Camouflaged
Pretending to be Autumn
Gentle, sweet Autumn
But the door was left ajar
And you entered
Swiftly
Like a slap in the face
It stings
And now you are here
Muffling
Blanketing
Making everything shimmer
In your beauty
But please
Don’t outstay your welcome

Things that can be carried on a bike (#679)…

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A camera, an extra lens, a tripod, two books, $22.00 in groceries, and a small Christmas tree.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Things that can be carried on a bike (#623 & #624)…

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#623 (above)…a yoga mat.

#624 (below)…more than $50 in groceries in a plastic tote, and a gym bag containing wet clothes.

Urban Simplicity.

Things that can be carried on a bike (#621)…

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A camera bag containing two cameras, a charger, and an extra lens, a gym bag with wet clothes, a cardboard box containing 3 loaves of freshly baked whole wheat bread, and an empty dough rising bucket.

Urban Simplicity.

On the waterfront…

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Today I went down to Buffalo’s Outer Harbor in search of the elusive snowy owl that has taken up home in Western New York. And no, I did not ride my bike the six miles each way in these frigid temperatures, I used Buffalo Car Share. To be honest, I actually contemplated it but am glad I did not…the high today was like 15F and when I got to the shore of the lake the wind was so strong that I had to lean into it and brace myself to take a photo…my hands were frozen (as I took my leather mitts off to adjust and snap the camera) and I had to remember to hold the lens cap (which is attached to the camera by a string) or the wind would whip it around and it would smack me in the side of the head. Thus said, I have to admit that it was nice to find refuge in the warmth of a car in between photos. But alas, I did not see a snowy owl…or a fox, or a coyote, or a deer, or a falcon, or an eagle (all of which live in the area). In fact, the only “animals” I did see were other photographers in search of snowy owls. But, despite the wind burning and bone chilling cold, I really enjoyed myself and was in awe of the power of Mother Nature, and was (and still am) thankful to live in proximity to such an incredible natural resource (it’s a 20 minute bike ride in nicer weather). Anyhow, click any photo for a slightly larger view.


Urban Simplicity.

Tuned and ready…sort of.

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Okay. So my winter bike is all tuned up and I even upgraded the rear wheel from a 3-speed to an 8-speed internal. At the first sight of snow the studded snow tires go on it. This will be the third Buffalo winter with this bike (last year was trying to say the least), and it of course replaces my beloved Mule which was nicked from my ex-wife’s garage a few years ago. At any rate, the bike seems ready (just had the new rear wheel and internal 8-speeed put on today and love it) but I’m not sure I am. Last Winter was exhausting. Hopefully this one will be a bit milder.

Urban Simplicity.

Encore plus de neige

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For some reason Mother Nature will not release her snowy grasp on much of our country this year. There has been talk of an impending storm for days and last night it was upgraded to a blizzard. Today the Governor declared Western NY under a state of emergency. So far we have well over a foot of new snow. It’s difficult to capture in the pictures the wind. I had to brace myself against trees or firmly plant my feet before trying to snap a photo. Today when there was a brief respite in the heavy snow I went to a local food store (which was closed) and took my camera. Shortly after taking these photos it started to snow so hard I could not see more than a city block ahead. But as ferocious as the weather can be, I still find it beautiful. And no, I was not on a bike.

Urban Simplicity.

Things that can be carried on a bike (#573), the view from my handlebars, and a brief comment…

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 On the bike…groceries, sundries, dog food, a gym bag, and an order of moo shoo vegetables.

So the weather was just beautiful today and this evening…40F which feels like a heat wave after the past few months. And I was particularly enjoying this sunset as I rode (and pulled of to the side of the road to snap a photo) because the day after tomorrow we are supposed to get another foot of snow. Good thing I still have snow tires on my other bike.

Urban Simplicity.

The view from my handlebars, a few thoughts on Ash Wednesday/Lent, and things to be thankful for…

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So there I was anxious and rushing to get home from the community center on yet another single digit evening so I could make it to the opening time of an online class that began tonight, but then I had to stop for yet another traffic light (pictured above). Why, I thought, did I hit another light? Doesn’t the Universe know I am late? The traffic light, of course, seemed especially long. But I couldn’t help notice the sunset. Incredible. Here it was something like 9F and I was straddling my bike shivering a little but looking at that incredible sunset–the same sunset that if you live in the same hemisphere as me could view along with me–it made everything ok. At least for a few minutes. And I started thinking about how today was the beginning of Lent; Ash Wednesday. Symbolically representing Jesus going into the desert and fasting for forty days. Well, I am far from fasting, though I have given a few things up. But I don’t just give things up for the sake of doing so (but if you do I am not trying to pass judgment); I like to add something, such as additional prayer, meditation, yoga, etc. And also random acts of kindness. But as I stood there straddling my bike, and my fingers grew increasingly colder and I looked at that incredible sunset, I thought that–as a spiritual practice–I really should appreciate gratitude more. Just the little things. Because I have so much to be grateful for. And at that very moment I realized how grateful I was for that sunset on this very chilly night. So I took out my iPhone and snapped a picture with shivering fingers.The traffic light seemed to take ten minutes to change (though it was probably only two), and I did make it home just in time for the online class. While I watched it I ate dinner while my two pugs sat at my side and wood stove heated the room. I was, and am, thankful for that as well. But as I rode home this evening I also realized that it was nearly 7pm and there was still light in the sky, and that each day brings a little more light as we progress towards spring. The cold darkness of winter will end soon enough. And after riding through this very cold and snowy winter, this is something to truly be thankful for. I’d love to hear what you are thankful for at this point in your lives (because there is so much).


Urban Simplicity.

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