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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Grand baby!

  This past Friday, my son Matthew and his girlfriend made me a grandma.  Athens Omero Carboni,weighing in at 6lbs13 oz made his way into the world.

  And boy am I excited!     

   The bike world has changed in the twenty years since I have a little one of my own.  Today there are the bike trailors, tag-alongs and every imaginable accessory for getting kids around on bikes.  I am ready for it.  I can't wait to be taking little Athens to all sorts of places by bike. 

   My own children did not take to the idea of bike riding.  But I know I can get Athens, the first of my grandchildren, to take to it. Just let me have the chance!

Spot of Sunshine on a Rainy Day

It is being one of those days. Of course it is raining again. I'm used to drought weather , I guess, because whenever it starts raining lately my first thought-didn't we just have rain last week? As though we are only suppose to get rain once a season.

But rain weather has its own joys; like the zebra boots I wrote about recently. So riding in the rain is no problem. At one time it would have sent me scurrying to my car but now I don't even stop to consciously make a choice.

It is only after I get to work that things start going remiss. I didn't have my keys! Now I am really standing in the rain trying to figure this out.

Q did pick me up from work last night. I have systems fo everything to keep me straight but if my system gets disrupted I'm lost. Figuring I had left my keys in his car and hoping to catch him before he left town for three days I frantically tried to call him. No such luck. No answer. He was probably already at the airport.

I next went next door to my landlord. He should have a key. He didn't at least not there on him. Hmmm, what landlord doesn't have keys?

Next plan-go home and get another set. I probably could have asked Shaw of Aunt Sue's Pet Bakery to borrow his truck; he is always the go-to-neighbor for our little block of businesses for almost any problem. He would have generously let me take his truck.

But I had already sent  Carol, my student coming for her session home. She was so kind and gracious about it. I am truly surrounded by wonderful and kind people in my life. It does smoothe out the bumps and jagged edges of life.  My next session had cancelled and I was already in the rain and had plenty of time to ride home for my spare set of keys

So I did. And it did wonders for making my messed up morning better.  My joy of the ride home? Seeing Jill. She looked like pure sunshine on this sunshine devoid day. Jill is a make up master at Elea Blake on Frazier Avenue. I know because she does wonders for me and I even can replicate at times what she does. She is on her way to get coffee and I was lucky enough to see her.

Makes forgetting my keys worth it!

Friday, October 23, 2009


Brighter Planet's 350 Challenge

   In this blog I usually blog about the joys and adventures of my bike riding instead of car driving.  I do it because it makes sense to me.  I try to solve the problems of my life-in this case transportation need, with solutions that upholds my values.  I don't usually talk much about that side of my thought processes-I know I can get too preachy so I try not to do it. 

  But today in the blog is different.  Tomorrow is the International Climate Action Day and I am taking this day to explain what I do in a bigger picture.  I will just state the bigger picture-its bad out there.

    Scientists have determined  that is the Earth is to conintue to be the way it iat has been the the whole 10,000 years of our civilization and that provides an environment for life as we know it, the atmosphere can have no more then 350 parts per million of CO2.  Where does it  measure today? 389.  That should give us pause to think. And think deeply, and long.

   I am amazed that people still say our activities have no consequenses in our world.  When has anything not had consequences.  Denying responsibilities does not make those consequenses disappear.

   I am not a scientist.  But I have a deep feeling that what I pesonally does makes a difference-either in a positive way or negative.  I keep that feeling in the fore front when I am making decisions on my life.  I make a difference.  My decisions make a difference.  My actions make a difference.

   I have been trying, bit by bit, to live a low impact life.  In this very rich and wasteful country of ours, it takes planning to live simply.  I have long said, our country does not have a problem with not enough, we are drowning in affluence.  Try to NOT buy things and brings things into your home.  Much harder then you ever would think.  It takes more effort to keep it simple and be thrifty then it does to accumalate and be wasteful. 

   I ride bikes because I feel the world's future depends on it.  But it is not enough.  By refusing to take action a long time ago (just think how the picture could have been different if we had stuck to the energy policies being set in the '70's) we are  in a position to having to do drastic actions-much like putting off that 35 page paper for world history class until the night before.  Its time to pull a world all nighter and get serious about our climate.

    I challenge you to find out what you can do. Go to   Their mission is to inspire the world to rise to the challenge of the climate crisis—to create a new sense of urgency and of possibility for our planet.

  What you do does make a difference.  Live your life like it does.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bras Over Water

I never know what I will see on my bike ride across the Walnut Street bridge. It is the scene for more unexpected sights. This sight on a recent morning is a case in point-bras being strung across the bridge.

And here is high five dog all decked out!

Who was responsible for this? Turns out it was it was a breast awareness event sponsored by US 101, a radio station in town-Chattanooga's top rated radio station. Country of course. What else? They were collecting bras for Breast Cancer Awareness.

And here is Ken Hicks, US 101 DJ himself really getting into this bra thing!

I thought I would stop and donate. But then I thought better of it!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Funny Story

I was leaving Greenlife, making my way with my bike between the parked cars.  On the hood of one car was a baby in an infant seat with a woman standing nearby.  I stopped to coo over the baby (just can't resist babies!) and out of the corner of my eye I noticed movement inside the car.  The car had tinted windows so it was hard to see inside but I did make out a man sitting in there, eating potato chips.  The woman and the man (and baby too,) had an air of waiting.  Just waiting.

  I turned to leave when suddenly another woman comes running up, "That's not my car!  I thought it was my mother's car.  Her car is over there!"  With that, she scooped up the baby and ran off, with her friend who must have been assigned baby watching duty, followed her.

    I looked at the man inside the car.  He looked at me, smiled and shrugged.  Then he went back to eating his potato chips.

  I rode home.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fashion Statement

I have one thing in my wardrobe that gets more comments then anything thing else I wear.  Not that I wear many things worthy of comment-a fahionista I am not.
  In rainy weather (and lately that has been most days) I bring out my zebra boots.   I bought these years ago because they made me happy.  Apparently they make other people happy also because I never fail to get comments on them.  Never.

    It has been a great opportunity to get to meet people.  Once people talk to me about my boots it is so easy to go on to a more formal introduction.  Once you bond over shoes you are friends for life.  Might as well get to know names.                           Before I started riding my bike to get around I had little use for rainboots.  In fact I had not owned any since I was a kid and then they were just for the rare snowfall.  If you use a car to get around and can park close to your destination, the need to protect your feet rarely comes into play.  But not in wet weather bike riding!  In seeking solutions to my wet feet on rainy days (oh how I hate wet and cold feet) I rediscovered rainboots.  And when I found these I found true love.  How did I live life without them?

    But my boots are getting a little beat up looking and actually have cracks in them.  It might be coming close time to replacing them-but I do hate to do it.  In fact, I can't stand the thought.

A Moment of Loveliness!

My very favorite aspect of riding my bike instead of stuffing myself in a rolling box to get to work is meeting of the people I would not otherwise get a chance to encounter. This morning (actually now yesterday morning) coming off the bridge I spied a wonderful couple, dressed to the nines strolling with the "we are in our own world and have all the time in the world" air that only young lovers.can have.

Of course I had to intrude. It was too wonderful of a sight so early in the morning to pass by. I asked what the occasion for dressing up. They looked at one another and she, with a little giggle replied "we are celebrating!". Well, even I could tell I should not question any further.

I took their picture-here they are looking so lovely. I went on to work, having a spot of my day filled with that loveliness. How great is my view from a bike!


  An update-when I took the picture of this lovely couple, I immediately e-mailed it to them (the advantage of taking pictures with my phone.  People love having their picture taken if they can get it for themselves).  So I had their e-mail when it struck me that I should get permission to put their picture and story up.  It was such a private moment  and maybe they would object to having it spread to the whole world.  Alex wrote back-now I have a name.  I didn't ask names before-a lovely note back. These people must be totally wonderful .  It seems they just have that inate loveliness with everything they do.  Here is the note ne wrote me-

Dear Ms. Colleen,

It was a very fun time meeting you! I have not ever been stopped to have a picture taken of me before, and it was a fun experience. Please do not feel that you were not being intrusive at all.

I must say that the occasion for the fine dress was in fact a celebration of a birthday.

My girlfriend, Naomi, and I (Alex) were having a nice day together after being apart for a long time, and she was treating me to a birthday present.

Naomi and I will be glad to give you our permission for publishing your story, and you can include our first names if you would like.
Thank you for the picture and the fun experience!


Again, I will say how I love my view from my bike.  I get to meet such lovely people!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Breakfast on the Bridge

Q has been doing a Breakfast on the Bridge for a couple of years now. He found the traffic on the Walnut Street Bridge to be interesting and diverse, with people from all walks of like using the bridge for their place of exercise, socialization or as their passage way to getting to the other side of the river.

Q was inspired to draw these people together in a friendly, casual, no criteria breakfast  So every Friday (except for Bike2Work Fridays) Q is out there with coffee and pastries for anyone who stops by. It has been amazing the people who do drop by- kind of a gathering for Chattanooga Characters. I think being a character is a wonderful thing and I always imagine I personally am so bland and unnoticeable next to these wonderful and colorful people. But Q reassures me that I am the biggest character of all (I'm sure he means that as the highest compliment, right? I think?)

   I should make a regular feature in this blog about our visitors. This breakfast has been so popular that is has become a community effort. All casual and disorganized of course.

     This is Lee. He might be recognized by regulars on the bridge as a bridge troubadour. This is his famous bike. I actually liked it better when it was painted up in bright Christmas colors but I think he got tired of people playing "Where's Waldo" with his bike. Bridge regulars were always reporting to one another where his bike was spotted-he would leave it in the oddest places. But after getting it stolen a couple of times, and getting it flattened by a tree at a construction site, he painted his bike these boring monotone colors and doesn't leave it around as much. But I hate to tell him that his bike is just as recognizable as ever.

This is Laura Jane. I knew Laura when she was born. She was baptized in the same ceremony as my youngest daughter. I met up again with her as an adult because she grew up so very quirky and I seem to find myself getting to know the quirky types. I love Laura Jane! She is wry, intelligent, thoughtful and so fresh as she starts out on her adult life. She has gone car free which in this part of the world a very unusual thing (actually you wouldn't think so judging by the number of people who come to this breakfast who are car free.)

Today the view of. Lookout Mountain from the bridge this morning was glorious.(see the picture above.)  I consider myself lucky that riding across the bridge is part of every day for me. I love getting to know the people who are my fellow users. My life is rich and very blessed!

Saturday, October 3, 2009


It started with a text from my youngest daughter, "I need my mom." That got my attention out of my oatmeal. My children as adults are independent, capable and lovely. They feel they can handle most situations better then me and often they are right. I feel proud that I raised them to be so self sufficient.

So it is rare that one will send out a "Mom" crisis cry. But once a mother, always a mother and I go on instant alert. Soon I was on the phone listening to my daughter on her crisis. She was extremely upset and I was no way going to tell her I couldn't talk to her because I had to get to work. So I continued to listen to her as I finished my breakfast, finished my preparations and got on my bike.

    I know what you are thinking - you rode your bike talking on the cell phone? Technically, I was mostly listening, but yes, I set off on my bike with my phone glued to my ear.

Down the hill I went. i was all ears to my daughter-so much so, I must have shut down other senses. What were my eyes doing at this point? Nothing I guess. Next thing I knew BAM! and an OOF from me. I reared ended a car parked on the side of the road. I never even saw it!

(I will take a short break hear so everyone can have a chance to voice their opinion on my safety sense. Believe me, I have been hearing it for the last couple of days. But what can I say? My baby needed me!)

My first thought as I started to pick myself off the ground was "My new Blackberry!" I could see that it had made it much further down the road then me and it was now it a couple of pieces. I did a fast inventory of my body, which still seemed to be in one piece and I scrambled to get my phone. If a car happened by that would be the ultimate end of the phone. I was lucky-only the battery cover had fallen off. It didn't even lose power but I had been disconnected.

After a couple of attempts (ever notice when you get disconnected then both parties try to connect again you keep crossing wires) I got back with my daughter and reassured her I was all right. I did a compete body check while talking to her-bloody knee, hurting spot on thigh, scraped elbow-all surface and superficial injuries. The bike except for the chain seemed ok. The car was unharmed.

We decided that I would continue on my way after saying good bye to her.

Now it is two days after the accident. i did get a nasty bruise and every morning I seem to wake up with more stiffness in more places. But nothing major. In a week I will be a good as new. My bike ended up with a jammed head set. Makes it hard to steer. I will take it to the bike shop this weekend.

And the crisis that my daughter needed me for? I saw her later that afternoon. She said that after she slept(she works night) the situtation didn't seem so major and she felt she over reacted and she could take care of it on her own. That is my independent baby! I am so proud of her! But never the less, my mother hormones are set to go off at a moment's notice. hopefully next time they won't take me to the back end of a car!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday Evening

Q and I went to Chattanooga Stands Party. at Create Here 26,0010 people were asked their opinion on what direction Chattanooga should take. Saw alot of people-not 26,001 though.

 During our little bike spin around afterwards, we noticed the full moon over the Chattanooga Choo Choo (that is the blurry sign)

We stopped to chat with the sign painter squeezing every bit of daylight possible out of the day to finish his work. Then off to dinner.