Art is the Handmaid of Human Good

i guess i was punk once


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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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Seeing Lowell through new eyes…

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For the past few days (most of) my brothers and my sister-in-law have been staying with us right here in Lowell. As is the Gries tradition, I took them on a tourist death-march (aka see all the sights you possibly can in your limited time in any location) around Lowell. Not only was it super-fun to see and spend time with everyone, it was also great to experience the loveliness of Lowell through their eyes (and through the magic of instagram, of course ;-) ) Living here everyday, I often forget what an interesting place Lowell is.

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Bob really wanted to drink some Moxie on his trip to New England and he was really excited to learn that Moxie was invented in Lowell!

My brothers’ instagrams of Lowell (and everything else) can be found here and here.


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WPA Sidewalks

Sidewalk plaque discovered on my evening stroll.

Walking around my new neighborhood is quite different from walking around my old neighborhood. Our walks used to take us along a busy boulevard on the Merrimack River, our walks now are around an older residential neighborhood (or, urban-suburbia, as I’m calling it) complete with old trees, children playing in the streets, and sidewalks. Some of the sidewalks have these Work Projects Administration plaques, I love coming across them when I am walking the pups.

Another Lowell WPA sidewalk found on my afternoon dog walk.


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New beginnings!

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But first I’ll tie up some loose ends, *ahem* 30 Days of Biking. I didn’t ride every day in April, and I’m not even sure I know/paid attention to how many days I missed. This is the last picture I took, but I know I took at least two rides after this was taken. The end of April was, as I knew it would be, incredibly busy and necessitated a car.

First up was a big work event on April 27th, Sowing the Seeds of Community. A group of amazing local organizations partnered to fundraise for, plan, and execute a community garden build day at six sites throughout Lowell.

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We improved five sites (four of them were new builds) in four neighborhoods, with the help of over 125 volunteers (even Kristin helped!) It was a lot of work but a really amazing and awesome event.

At the site that I helped coordinate, we built 26 raised beds, moved six dump trucks of compost (> 30 yards,) in about six hours.

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Once that was finished, I had some time to work on my next big April event…

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Getting ready to move!

Way back in early February, Kristin and I decided we wanted to buy a house (instead of a condo.) This was a long discussion but Simon and Rudy were the deciding factors – we thought they’d love a yard (yes, we *are* those crazy dog ladies!)

We had taken an excellent First-time Homebuyer’s Class so we knew the importance of putting together a good team. We found a great agent and mortgage broker, got pre-approved, browsed some houses online, and had our first showings the first weekend of March. We planned to give ourselves three months to look and we expected to buy something in July or August. That didn’t happen.

We looked at five houses on Saturday but didn’t love anything. Our agent suggested we go to an open house the next day. We agreed, thinking “Our first open house, fun! We’ll get to know the process.” Of course, because we had plenty of time scheduled to look and we were only going to the open house as a lark, we found it. And put a bid in. That very day.

We decided we were going to close on April 30th so we had plenty of time to get our inspection, fill out tons of paperwork, and anticipate. By the time our closing date came around, we were more than ready. The closing went quickly, our deed was registered, and *poof* we we’re homeowners!

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Of course, Simon and Rudy approve…

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So do we! We’ve spent our first night here and already love the place.

One of the first things we bought was patio furniture and we’ve already been enjoying it (when we’ll get real furniture is a whole nother story, I anticipate an empty living room for months to come ;-) )

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And you can look forward to lots of posts about the joys of home improvements ;-)


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Days 18 & 19

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What a week it has been. I have lived in Massachusetts for longer than I’ve lived anywhere else in my life. So while I was born in Chicago, and say I’m “from” Connecticut, Massachusetts is really the place that matters. It’s where I’ve chosen to live as an adult (because, let’s be honest, I didn’t have any influence in where I lived as a child) and, while those two years in San Francisco were lovely, I always knew I’d end up back in Eastern Mass (and I always thought that meant the Boston area, until Lowell stole my heart.)

Boston is also where my life as a bike commuter really began. When I first moved to Boston in 1993, I took the T most places. Soon, I realized that the T maps were deceiving and that a lot of Boston was much closer than time spent on the T would have you believe. I started walking places, and then started thinking about biking. I got my younger brother’s hybrid bike from my parent’s house, took a class at MassBike in basic commuter skills, and never looked back. I biked to work. I biked to school. I biked to the bars. I biked everywhere.

I learned to ride a bike in Boston traffic, in a time before there was anything remotely resembling bicycle infrastructure, and that is a skill that has served me well in every place I have lived since. If I hadn’t started riding then, I probably wouldn’t be doing 30 Days of Biking now.

Living with what happened on Monday has been so difficult because it hit so very close to home. My heart absolutely aches for the families and friends of those who were killed; Krystal Campbell, Sean Collier, Lu Lingzi, and Martin Richard; and the far too many who were injured.

I am grateful for the medical professionals who are caring for the injured. I am grateful for all of the courageous men and women in uniform who worked together to make sure that the suspect was caught alive. I am also grateful for our legal system that will ensure that the suspect will be brought to justice. I am grateful for Bostonians and for everyone who held the City of Boston in their hearts. I am grateful that now we can come together and work on healing.

Yesterday was the first time that I have missed riding my bike during a 30 Days of Biking month. I had to drive because of things I had to do for work and I was glued to the radio while I was driving. Once I got home, I was glued to the television. I was so relieved when the suspect was finally caught last night that all I could do was unclench and go to bed.

I am looking forward to moving on and continuing with my usual routines, including riding my bike every day for the rest of April.

As I’m sure you know, there are ways to donate money to the folks most affected by the bombings. One Fund Boston is accepting donations and, if you’re local, there is going to be a fundraiser next Saturday, April 27th, at the Old Court. More info, including how to RSVP, can be found here.


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Day 14: Lowell’s First Tweed Ride

Today, a group of lovely ladies and dapper gents outfitted in their finest tweeds and woolens came together to enjoy a civilized Spring ride through the scenic hamlets of Lowell, Tewksbury, Billerica, and Chelmsford.
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After our ride, we stopped for a tasty repast at Ward Eight.

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The entire afternoon was a jolly spot of bikey fun! Many thanks to the organizer, Sophan!

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