Art is the Handmaid of Human Good

i guess i was punk once


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More about bikes…

MassDOT tweeted about a new Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Awareness and Enforcement Program that was announced today. The program is going to give cities money to make transportation for all users safer. The funding will be used to help pay for stepped-up enforcement, raising awareness about all forms of transportation, and creating safer infrastructure. Twelve communities have been chosen for the first round of funding with Haverhill representing for the Merrimack Valley.

I would love to see some of this money come to Lowell, but I won’t be holding my breath. Opportunities for funding such as this seem to be the wave of the future, and it’s quite disappointing to see my city sliding backwards (and potentially cutting itself off from funding opportunities in the process.)

I am also hoping to attend the City Council meeting to discuss why I think bike lanes are important, but just in case I can’t make it, I did send the following letter to the City Council:

Dear Councilors,

I am writing in regard to the motion to remove bike lanes from local streets. I do not support this motion.

I have lived in Lowell for ten years. I have worked in Lowell for seven years. I own a home in Lowell. I am active in the community: I am a Pollard Library Trustee, I volunteer for local organizations, and I participated in Public Matters. I am also a bike commuter who uses the bike lanes to ride to work; to PML meetings and events; to volunteer activities; to visit local restaurants, bars, and shops; and to visit my friends. Basically anything I am doing, I am doing via bicycle.

Safety is important to me and it makes me happy that I live in a city that is concerned for my safety on a bicycle. Since the bike lanes were painted a couple of years ago, I have felt much safer riding my bike in Lowell than I did in the past. I have found that drivers are more aware of my presence and less likely to find it strange or shocking that I am on the road. I have also found that the response that I get from drivers has been positive. People wave to me and say hello. Maybe I have been lucky, but most drivers have been friendly and polite (although they are a bit amazed when they see me riding in winter.)

I watch the City Council meetings most Tuesday evenings and I know that a couple of hot topics of conversation have been parking issues downtown and economic development. Now, I am obviously not an expert on either of these issues but I can speak to my personal experience with both. As far as parking issues downtown are concerned, well, I don’t have any. I lock my bike up and head to my destination. I am not taking up a coveted parking space that someone else could be using and I am not contributing to traffic. Because I am on a bike, I am also eating, drinking, and shopping at places that are easy for me to get to on my bike. Instead of heading to Nashua, Salem, or Burlington to spend my disposable income, I am dining out in Lowell’s restaurants, drinking in Lowell’s bars, and shopping in Lowell’s stores. I even get my bikes serviced locally at City Bicycle on Market Street.

Having a variety of ways to get from one place to another, including transit, pedestrian, cycle, and, yes, automobile infrastructure have helped other cities in both the Untied States and Europe alleviate parking and congestion issues and increase economic development. I think that instead of doing away with the bike lanes, our city should look to what bike lanes can do to help us with our parking and economic development issues.

If you would like to discuss this issue, or even go for a bike ride, I would be happy to hear from you.

Respectfully,
Marianne Gries

If you’re local and want to support the bike lanes, please consider contacting the City Council. The City’s website has a handy form that can be accessed here, the last item under the Department Facts tab on the left.

Thanks to Learning Lowell, Left in Lowell, and RichardHowe.com for your thoughtful posts on both the bike lanes and the Sun kerfuffle. I haven’t heard anything from the Sun and I can’t say I am particularly surprised. It’s easy to steal things from the internet and it seems the Sun is not immune to that temptation which is obviously really unfortunate.

In other news, I did get this text from a friend who lives in Long Beach:” We love bikes in Long Beach.”20140428-123720.jpg

Lowell has embraced Long Beach’s awesome Cambodia Town idea, maybe we’ll soon be embracing their Bike Long Beach idea. Bike Lowell has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?


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Oh, Lowell… (Or, why I’m afraid we’re not ready to have nice things…)

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Our (obviously very classy) local paper, The Lowell Sun, stole a (pretty crappy, taken with my mobile phone) picture from this post praising our bike lanes to illustrate an article condemning said lanes. No, the irony is not lost on me. Stay classy, Sun.

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Post edited to add that the picture was also used in the print edition. Hey, it got me to buy a paper, right :-/


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There’s a first time for everything…

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I love roast chicken (who deosn’t, right?) It has always been one of my favorite foods. True confession time: up until this point, I had roasted one chicken in my life and it was a miserable failure. When I tell people this, they are shocked. I get a lot of “But roast chicken is so easy…” and “I don’t even cook, and I can make a roast chicken.” For many of the years when I was first learning to cook, I was a vegetarian. As a result, I am really comfortable cooking vegetarian meals but I am kind of intimidated by meat and poultry.

Now, I haven’t been a vegetarian for over a decade, but it’s only been in the past few years that I’ve started cooking meat and poultry at home. One of the first things I tried to make was (you guessed it) a roast chicken and it was too soon. I had a hard time getting past handling the raw chicken, I didn’t have a meat thermometer and was worried about under-cooking the chicken (so I over-cooked it) and I had no idea how to carve so I pretty much decimated the poor chicken. It was pretty awful but I hoped that someday I would be able to do it right.

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Getting out of ruts (culinary and otherwise…)

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I have been in a couple of ruts lately. I haven’t been posting here as much as I would like, and we have been eating a lot of the same things for dinner. To kill a couple of proverbial birds*, I decided to spend some time looking through my cookbooks to find something interesting and post about one of my meals. Yay for setting and meeting goals, because I have three new recipes in the dinner rotation for this week and I am going to write about one of them right now.

Risotto with Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale
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Addison Gallery of American Art

January 4th 2013
On Saturday I went out to Andover to visit the Addison Gallery of American Art for the first time. The reason for the visit was to see ‘the kids are all right’ because my sister-in-law, Julie, has two photographs in the show. I am really glad that I both got to see the show (it was the last day – hello, procrastinator!) and visit the museum.

The Addison is a small museum on the Phillips Academy campus. It, as the name suggests, features American art. When I visited, there were four exhibitions – Flash Back—November 22, 1963, James Prosek: The Spaces in Between, Natural Selections, and the kids are all right. I enjoyed all four, but was especially impressed with James Proseck and the kids are all right.

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2013 in Review

Oh my. 2013 certainly was a long year. As I was looking at pictures from the beginning of the year I couldn’t believe that they were taken less than a year ago. This was taken on January 1st 2013, and so many things – the place we live, the tree, the furniture – are different now.

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This was a year of big changes both for me and for people close to me. A lot of really wonderful and fun things happened this year but, for whatever reason, this year seemed like a bit of a slog. I don’t know why it is (ummmmm, probably all of the changes,) I have just felt more overwhelmed that was probably necessary.

January started off with some cold bike commutes…
Today's commute brought to you by the letter B for Brrrrr! 1°F/-17°C

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Using the 19th

Election Day 2013

“I think the bicycle has done more to emancipate women than any one thing in the world. I rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a bike. It gives her a feeling of self-reliance and independence the moment she takes her seat; and away she goes, the picture of untrammelled womanhood.” ~Susan B. Anthony

“The bicycle will inspire women with more courage, self-respect and self-reliance,and make the next generation more vigorous of mind and body; for feeble mothers do not produce great statesmen, scientists and scholars.” ~Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Election Day 2013

I was obviously thrilled to be able to ride my bicycle to the polls to vote this morning. As I was riding, I thought about the women who came before me and worked to secure so many of the rights I enjoy today. Imagine how happy Susan B. Anthony or Elizabeth Cady Stanton would be to see me riding my bicycle, wearing practical clothing of my own choice, to vote in an election with seven women on the ballot. So, friends, if you have an election today get out and vote.

If you’re interested in learning more about women’s suffrage, bicycles, and how they connect, I recommend A Wheel Within a Wheel by Frances E. Willard and Wheels of Change by Sue Macy. A Wheel Within a Wheel is a first-hand account of suffragette Frances Willard’s experience taking up bicycle riding at 53 (badass!) Wheels of Change is meant for younger readers but it provides a great overview the impact cycling had women’s lives and contains a lot of primary source material.


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New Bike Lanes on Father Morissette Boulevard

I won’t lie, this post was probably going to be a bit snarky until the universe set my inner jackass straight by only showing me lovely things on my ride. I had a meeting this morning in the Acre, a neighborhood I haven’t really had a chance to ride through since we moved (it used to be a part of my daily commute.) While I would usually have ridden to my destination via Merrimack or Salem Street, today I decided to check out the new bike lanes on Fr. Morissette Blvd.

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All I ever wanted…

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I recently returned from my annual trip to Wellfleet, MA with my friends Katy and Yovani. I really look forward to this trip every year because it is always so lovely to relax in one of the loveliest places in the world with some of my favorite people, but this year, I really, like really, needed a vacation. Between buying a house, moving, a couple of big things happening at work, hosting houseguests, and Gist’s job being pretty intense, I was pretty fried and ready to stare at the sea for a good amount of time to relax and recharge. And relax and recharge is pretty much what we did.

There was a lot of staring at the Atlantic…
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And watching the sun set, and moon rise (we were there for the supermoon) over Wellfleet Harbour…
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We had a couple of wonderful special guests: Katy’s four-week-old son, who was a delight, and Abby, Katy’s mom (also a delight!)

Katy and I jumped off of Provincetown Pier to, as Yovani said “reclaim our lost youth.” LOL ;-)

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We ate and drank very well…

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There was beachcombing and swimming, storms and seals…
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We looked at that amazing light…
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And we did a lot of reading….
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It was basically just the very thing I needed in my life.

Now that I’m home, Gist and I have been working on the yard, especially the corner that Gist calls “Crazy Country” and that I call “Paradise.”
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My yard ornament/solar-powered light collection is growing by leaps and bounds! And the birds (and squirrels) have figured out that we are the suckers who will feed them any and all of the types of food.
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We’ve both loved having a yard this summer – it’s great for the dogs, I get to indulge my love of tacky yard ornaments, Gist loves doing yard work (who knew?) and I really love cooking outside!

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In fact, our big plans for Independence Day include cooking outside (and relaxing in the hammock, of course!)

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