Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Meaning of the Season?

We gathered things we’d received from parents, other relatives and girl friends (maybe), not by plan but spontaneously. Timing mattered and had anyone thought beyond the day it all might have happened differently; no one did and the result exceeded the potential result from good planning. It kinda just happened.

I find the commercial promotion related to the end of each calendar year to be sad, painful, disheartening and myriad other negative adjectives. Certainly, there are hopeful and uplifting stories and incidents that reflect an awareness of the alleged meaning of the time of year. Too much, though, focuses on extremes of indulgence: Black Friday’s hysteria; that there is such a thing as Black Friday; Cyber Monday; having to have this or that or some other matchless toy; and the too common familial conflagrations around a tree, bush or candle array.

For me, the events mentioned above were a part of one of the more meaningful holiday gatherings I experienced. Cookies and a cake or three, all parts of “care packages,” along with not very tasty, purloined oranges arranged atop a 4 by 8 piece of plywood (mahogany, at that), some cobbled together decorations and a synthetic, odd representation of a pine tree acquired by someone “off the economy” made the day’s brief gathering a real event of caring and sharing. Not surprisingly the warmth dissipated by day’s end, too much alcohol and returning to “work,” but for the hour or so before the Oreos softened from the high humidity, the cakes were consumed and the oranges ignored, it was a perfect moment.

French Indochina, known then as Vietnam; December, 1966. Welcome home those of you who made it and are still hanging on.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

No Reason to Hurry Winter

December 1 is the first day of Meteorological Winter, but here in northcentral FLA we're still hanging on to sunny days and mild temperatures.

The pictures below are evidence that both Crinum Lilies and Honey Bees like it that way.

White Crinum Lily and Busy Bee

White Crinum Lily and Busy Bee

If you like the pictures feel free to Click on 'em for a larger JPG.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Riding Here

What I say here has little or no impact on the rest of the World, but that’s of no importance to me. My blog and my choice of what to say; simultaneously the biggest plus and minus about the internet.

I read numerous bicycle oriented blogs and websites. Learning about the extent of the bicycle culture and subculture is fascinating. Usually I agree with what is said and sometimes I don’t. I don’t, for instance, care to assert my right to be on roads when confronted by a ton or more of steel and plastic guided (or misguided) by someone whose point of view is me as obstacle. I favor coexistence, though, like the turmoil of the 60s and 70s of which I was a part, I know that there are too many opinions to have riding be as I wish it to be.

I have a difficult time understanding the idea that riding in America should emulate how it’s done in Netherlands. Never been there and unlikely I’ll ever get there, so it’s impossible for me to have a valid opinion about the superiority of the infrastructure that permits the apparent bicycle haven that is Amsterdam. French Indochina (after they changed the name) plus brief visits to the Maritime Provinces of Canada and border towns of Mexico are the limits to my world travel and bikes were not part of my reasons for being there. Maybe I am too ethnocentric or unaware to comprehend the more worldly view of how riding should be done. Or, maybe I am justified in seeing it from my anecdotal perspective.

I think I used up all my activist desires “back in the day” and that’s why I cannot relate to some of the ideas proffered for how to deal with automobiles and their drivers and our current way of doing things. I have a long history as a gearhead and accumulated vast numbers of miles behind the wheel of cars ranging from eccentric to desirable. I once calculated that I’d driven in excess of a million miles since passing my drivers’ test in 1962, so I know a little about driver mentality. Fifty thousand miles a year was commonplace.

For me, the most important thing that I can do as a rider is to protect myself when riding among cars by accepting the inherent danger of being there. That means putting aside angst and anger, concerns about yesterday’s argument and this morning’s breakfast while taking my presence in the line of cars seriously; not fearfully, not lost in music flowing from earbuds; and not with the idea that my rights exceed the damage that’ll be done to me if I assert my rights to the wrong person or ride carelessly. Being in traffic is a full time activity whether on a bike or in a car.

Living successfully is a matter of finding balance. Riding a bike is the same, but it’s not solely about remaining upright. Among the best things the average rider can do is to emulate good drivers, meaning yielding when it’s the best choice, observing rules of the road (as the law expects) and using our presence to demonstrate that coexistence is possible even in the face of those who ride through stop signs, ride two or more abreast, ride without lights or ride the same foolish way that some people drive.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Avid, Fashionable and Gender Indifferent

Recently I've read several bicycle related articles dealing with "issues" related to riding bikes. They are; defining who is an "avid" bike rider, "fashionable cyclist shaming" and how to get more women to ride bikes. An avid cyclist is someone with a great interest in bikes, a rider should wear what he or she chooses and everybody should ride bikes. <shrug> I don't see the conflict. Apparently, others do.

Why mention this now? Because I witnessed a convergence of all three of these issues in an unusual context; the 6th Annual All Florida Bike Polo Championships that happened at Kanapaha Veterans Park on the roller hockey rink. Four on four competition was intense and testy, fast and exciting and well worth the price of admission which was nonexistent.

For now, a few pictures will suffice to turn the above words into tens of thousands because seeing is the only way to fully understand the grassroots passion of the avid and fashionable women (and men) who thrashed, bashed, swung, slipped, won, lost, and had a helluva a time. It wasn't about who had the right bike, correct attire or whether a team was comprised of men, women or something else. It was handlebars, pedals, spokes, tires . . . all the truly good stuff.

If you have any interest come on back occasionally 'cause I'll add links to larger images and post some more, also.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day, 2013

One of the recurring activities of the Gainesville Cycling Club is the annual ride during Veterans Day. The first stop of this year's Poker Run was at Veteran's Park in advance of the Veterans Day activities. Registration fees will be donated to Fisher House now under construction at Randall VA Medical Center.

The event was well attended, the weather was fine and the riders added a wide range of color options to the pre-event activities.

Below are some photos from the event. Clicking images will open a much larger image.

The first arrivals.
Early Arrivals

And then the Peloton . . .
The pack arrives.

Being patient for a good cause.
Being patient for a good cause.

Parking made simple!
Parking made simple.

Fashion sense, two-wheel style.
Style takes many forms.

Preparing to roll.
Departure preparation.

On the road again.
On the road again.

And event is only as good as the people who help make it happen.
An event is only as good as the people who make it possible for others to ride.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Picture This and This and . . .

If you take enough pictures eventually you get one that's okay or maybe even a little better than okay. I like the ones below and have turned them into 1366 x 768 JPGs and use them as backgrounds and screensavers. The images below are PNGs of those images.

Only the second picture was not taken at Kanapaha Botanical Garden which is a short ride from home.

Clicking the images will open the larger, wallpaper-size image.

And Green 00

The Flowering Teas on my back porch have these tiny, fragant flowers and beautiful shiny green leaves. The flowers choose their own schedule for blooming and do so, off and on, all year round.
And Green 01

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens has  Florida's largest public collection of bamboo species.
Bamboo 00

Below 00

Below 01

Green 00

Green 01

Funny how this misplaced anchor seems quite at home here.
Misplaced 00

Rose 00

Most people think of Florida as a place of sun, sand and salt water, but to many who live here The Real Florida is something quiite different.
The Real Florida 00

Water We Doing? 00

In 1996, the Zebra Longwing (Heliconius charitonius) was named as Florida's Official Butterfly,
Working Is Living 00

Working Is Living 01