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The examined ride

The examined ride is worth reliving.

It started when Tim caught up to me on Jasper Ave this afternoon. By the time we reached Railtown, we had had a good talk about our public duties as bicycle riders. He shared a story. I shared mine about the day last week I watched, while stopped, a fellow bicycle rider fly through a red light, oblivious to the couple who had the pedestrian-walk right-of-way, narrowly missing them.

I told him I was surrounded by a double dilemma before I could check to see if my Go Pro had captured the scene. First, I routinely share images of automobile drivers showing disrespect to bicycle riders and pedestrians. Left turners, crosswalk deniers, bike-bus-taxi lane interlopers, middle-finger wavers and the rest of the fish in the barrel. But what to do now? Here was a member of the club behaving badly. Do I share the image, or quietly censor it? Then, what to do about the actual bicycle rider? Do I try to catch up and share my thoughts? I did. And when I got home…

There's no denying Clarence

At Andy's IGA we glided to a stop and Shelagh went in to get some groceries for supper. I stayed behind to mark the bicycles.

A tall figure rattled his shopping cart past the bench I sat on. He had just finished his shopping trip. His cart was overflowing with plastic bags bulging with the shapes of concealed packages and cans and pieces of fruit. He had spent a lot of money, I thought. The man was pushing the cart, but he also seemed to be steadying himself with it. His tan jacket was unzipped even though rain was falling. His pants flapped around his ankles as the wind blew. The ashy, orangey tip of a cigarette looked like a dead fuse as it hung from his bottom lip. He coughed. He stopped in front of me. I decided to slowly pick up and go to cleaner air. I have a chronic bronchitis condition.

"What's the trophy for?" he asked, pointing at the back of my bicycle. His voice was lighter than I had imagined.

Earlier in the afternoon I was at a team-building bowling co…

Sick day with a good book

Here, preserved in the brine of Twitter for as long as the container holds, is a selection of logogram/emoji I worked up this afternoon reading Chapter 6 of The Marvelous Clouds by John Durham Peters and considering writing, the wind, pens, pencils, lipstick, reading, ants, music, the dead, time, sound, birds, atonement, beauty and forgiveness. Thinking about the basics while watching the Raptors-Cavs game and fighting a sore throat and a bit of pain behind the eyes.


Cassini, Huygens, Carter

This is a remarkable photograph. At first, as usual, I missed what is most remarkable about it. Typically, I miss the remarkable. As usual, I rely on friends to point it out.

For those who have been living under a rock on Mars, and who haven't seen this image, it is us. The cosmic speck is Earth, viewed through the rings of Saturn, from the Cassini space probe.

I was talking about this photo across the desks with Dale Carter last week at work.

I was coming at it from above, half-remembering a Christiaan Huygens quote from Carl Sagan's Cosmos that inspired me as a high school student. The we're-so-small-in-the-scheme-of-things, the why-do-we-divide-against-each-other-to-rule-some-pitiful-corner-of-this-small-spot point of view so bracing for a Cold War child at odds with his teachers.

Dale was coming at it from below, from Earth.

He said: "The most amazing thing about that pic is that we put the camera there and got the image back."

Yes, I thought in kinds of sha…


Pauline Kael did it her way, Siskel and Ebert theirs, and each of IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes and reviews movies in its manner. My way is simple. Am I still thinking about the movie when I wake up the next morning?

I woke up this morning thinking about Maudie.

It is the story of Nova Scotia folk artist Maud Lewis and her husband Everett and the tools they use.

It is about more, of course. It's about the small rooms we live and create in. And about the crooked being made straight, and the straight crooked. It's about light and windows. It's very much a love story. And it's very very much about the tools that Maud and Everett use.

Everett (Ethan Hawke) is a fisherman who uses a hatchet, an axe, a hammer, a spoon, a wheelbarrow, a scythe, and, memorably, once, his hand. Maud (Sally Hawkins) uses a hatchet, a cleaning brush, and, memorably, throughout, a paintbrush. And a cigarette. She holds a cigarette like a fuse.

The filmmakers who gave us Maudie built it out of …

Seeing trees

This is a pic posted by my friend Wendy. Wintry scenes like this are everywhere in Edmonton today. Wendy and the rest of us are contemplating the meaning of April in a city at 53 degrees north latitude.

Wendy is not one of the drippers. But the drippers are with us. I recognize them because I used to dripdripdripdripdrip, too. I understand why they call this weather horrible. The main reason is this: they have never considered what horrible is. And this: they haven't read enough Maya Angelou.

Sister, there are people who went to sleep all over the world last night, poor and rich and white and black, but they will never wake again. Sister, those who expected to rise did not, their beds became their cooling boards, and their blankets became their winding sheets. And those dead folks would give anything, anything at all for just five minutes of this weather or ten minutes of that plowing that person was grumbling about. So you watch yourself about complaining, Sister. What you'…

Citizen Cane

This was the view from my bicycle seat as I came up on 121 Ave at 116 St this afternoon. The man with the cane had just used it as a baton to signal the driver of the left-turning automobile that it should flow across his path, leaving free his line to the opposite curb.

The van driver complied and combusted by me and out of view. The cane, it turned out, was also a wand.

The man took a step off the curb and started walking with a slow, jerky rhythm across the avenue. The snowflakes were so light they twirled up with the wind, seeming never to hit the pavement. The man turned his head to me. I said hello. He nodded and underlined his wordless greeting by lifting his left arm and waving the cane in my direction. The cane, it turned out, was also a kind of prosthetic and punctuation device.

Then the man again anchored the cane on the pavement and resumed his trip to the other side. One, two, three, one, two three. The cane, it turned out, was also a kind of accompaniment.