A Few Thoughts on Traffic from A Crossing Guard who Quit

Dear Pedestrians, when talking about “the flow of traffic” in a big city, I think it is important to say if it is a liquid it is ketchup. It gets stuck just like the ketchup when you hold the bottle over your fries and then suddenly it seems unstoppable and you have a mess pouring out ruining everything! This is how I have come to understand that not only one car will fly through an amber light but three or four will follow and the last will be speeding through a red light.   😦

It can be argued that ketchup is mindless and drivers are not but neither have been proven.

I do not describe pedestrians as ketchup because that is my greatest fear. I never ever want to see any pedestrian covered in anything resembling anything like ketchup. It was one of the reasons I decided to quit.  It’s one of the reasons I am posting this.

This idea that we all have to run across a light as the final numbers count down might be a result of too many game shows in our youth but here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • You don’t get a prize. You maybe save a couple of minutes but you set a bad example for your kids who will, despite all your efforts to supervise them, one day do the same thing. Also you can cause an accident. It isn’t all about your ability to run, it’s about a lot of other people too, some of whom are in cars and also the cars behind those cars…
  • Not everyone can see everything that is happening all the time. This is why when the randomness of rush hour and children’s behaviour (they drop their project, they see a friend on the curb and run back, they sudden stop to crouch down to tie a shoe) WE PAY EXTRA ATTENTION TO THE RULES THAT HELP US ALL STAY SAFE.
  • The length of time you have on a green light should be long enough to cross at a normal brisk walking pace. Running is not a good idea, neither is riding a bike or skate board or a pogo stick! Running with a stroller with a child in front of you, by the way, they do not make good shields against on coming traffic… well, lets just say, is not a good idea and here is why: a driver will take a quick perusal of the speed of the herd of pedestrians and calculate his/her turn based on that. Yes he will be in the wrong if he hits someone, but as I said, its not a game show. 
  • If suddenly a person takes off ahead of the herd a driver can’t anticipate this. Many drivers overestimate their ability to accelerate, swerve and stop. If he/she is making an illegal turn across the crosswalk, and this happens so regularly that it is almost normal, he will have to hit the breaks, AND he might have a flow of mindless ketchup behind him to jam up the intersection.  This has happened so many times that I stopped trying to keep count.

You would think having a crossing guard there would help alert the drivers that there could be children crossing. There is nothing lovelier than working for minimum wage, often sick and in the worst weather to have a driver show me the finger because I have stood there, in his or her way, until the parents and children are on the curb. FORGET ABOUT HIM LETTING ME GET THERE too!  Sheesh. He or she thinks they have 360 degree vision while also interfering with traffic and breaking the law.  I decided it was easier to thank the good drivers than to expect anything at all from the bad drivers.

So, getting back to what pedestrians and cyclist can do: Don’t ignore your charges, dogs, cats, kids or parrots. Behave in the manner you would have them behave. Please don’t text on the phone or stop to greet one another in the crosswalk. (Even if it’s to tell the crossing guard you love her or him!) Wait until you are on the curb. In such a beautiful and warm community as yours (at least we hope it is) it will happen often that you are talking and sharing with each other but do it when you reach the sidewalk well away from the curb so there is no confusion for the drivers or the crossing guard about your intentions to cross.

Cyclists. You are my heroes.  Do not ride in the crosswalk, especially when there is a constable or crossing guard.  Walk your bike or ride on the road. It is illegal always to ride in a crosswalk but especially not a good idea when children or handicapped people are crossing. If a crossing guard is crossing people it is because they may have varying abilities to react to unexpected vehicles in the crosswalk. A bike is a vehicle unless it is a handicap device.

Finally, stay safe. Take chances with your fashion, your creativity, your generosity, and your interests, and your limits but not with traffic. That`s just dumb.

Not Knowing, I go on and on…

I am so happy to have undefined time!  Holiday!  One of the time wasters is following the white rabbit down that inevitable hole that is the internet. This morning, a Facebook spirit posted this:

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/george-michael-dead-death-somebody-to-love-queen-freddie-mercury-cover-rehearsal-video-david-bowie-a7496046.html

It is a rehearsal with George Michaels singing Queens “Somebody to Love” (which is possibly the purest genius of Western music, just my opinion).  And there is Mr. Jones smiling in the background.

So that got me thinking about Bowie and the time I spent trying to look like him.  I spent some time during my teens doing a lot of psychedelic substances while wandering around back alleys with friends, who like me, had no place to go, their family homes having turned into fortresses clearly defined by their lack of comfort or welcome for the likes of us.  If we had become unrecognizable to our families they had also become unrecognizable to us. But we were seeking guidance from heroes who were children themselves, reading voraciously in a way our parents never had, Ken Kesey, Vonnegut, Carlos Castaneda, Solzhenitsyn, Tolkien, following Art and Culture, yet undefined, with a kind of devotion  found in cults. (No wonder our parents were afraid of us.)  But I was still just a girl, in love with a boy… so I looked up what I wrote about  David Bowie, here on LJ and found the following. (I edited a bit).

An artist questions… she is naked, so we dress her in what we understand, but we only show our own misunderstanding.

If we can bear the embarrassment, and this is the point when we can change, when we laugh and start open up; we realize we all are these frail and imperfect beings, naked in what we thought was our brilliance, vulnerable.

Our true brilliance is, …we are all like stranded aliens, homesick and searching. Looking for a name for ourselves and hiding in our lies. When a voice reaches out of the rubble left by our insistent need conquer anyone who questions us, it is a voice of pure desperate need.  George singing in joy, in desperation, “Find me somebody to love”:  These are the moments when even the Gods are gobsmacked.

And then I came to my friend (? I flatter myself), Sub Rosa, here on W.P. Her writing about art has challenged me in new ways and the work and writings she has exposed me to in her blog have lit a bit of a fire in me.  This poem is advice on how we keep the brilliance from shredding us to pieces. Have I reached the time when I can?

<a href=”https://omstreifer.com/2016/08/05/live-the-questions/”>https://omstreifer.com/2016/08/05/live-the-questions/ </a>

I will end here because I am hungry because I now know what my desperate need is, not someone to love, but something… I have to tighten it till it reaches the pitch required to achieve escape velocity, just for my own satisfaction, as if it’s all I ever wanted.

Because no matter how horrible we humans are we do our best when we are lost and on the brink of disaster.

And now, in addition, I come to the loss of Princess Leia, Carrie Fisher who so artfully made struggle for mental wellness lyric, and comic and true and made room for all of us to admit our vulnerability. When she was Princess Leia the boys pretended to love her tits, but it was her courage we all loved. As temporary as youth and beauty are, courage can grow and she showed us how.

(Side note, apparently sleep is the new way to stay young. Oh Gwenith Paltrow why must you?  I must admit I giggled a lot when I read that.)

We can make a habit of compassion

Things are so weird right now but maybe it’s good that it’s all out in the open so we can see how ugly racism, sexism and entitled criminality are, but that said, violence in television is over the top and I don’t see people cringing, rather they are getting desensitized to it. Will we become desensitized to the sort of ignorant thuggism that is taking over all our public forums? I hope not. I am 60 this year and tired. I feel like “wake me up when they come for me, or not“, which is bad, really bad. I keep reminding myself, Hitler ran for office more than once before he got in power. Persistant thuggism can overwhelm considered intellect and endeavoured compassion, as history has shown us over and over. We must confront it. We must shake off our reasonable desire for comfort and confront it and we must confront it over and over with the same persistance as ignorance.
How we confront it is part of waking up to our own lives. If we find we are hating the person who perhaps took the parking space we wanted or the seat on the subway or the last donut or whatever, we need to see hate for what it is, it is thuggism, maybe in its infancy but it contains the potential that we see rampant in the world. Instead, if we recognize our annoyance for what it is, arising entirely within our expectations and probably, the person we might choose to direct this annoyance at (please try not to call it hate) is completely unaware of any of this, or at best thinking themselves lucky, if we see how this reaction arises in ourselves we can make choices about our response.  Is this the circumstance that requires us to speak up?  Probably not.
But when we have a reaction to someone doing harm, speaking of harm being done, promoting hate, we can see our fear, fear that it might be directed at us, but we can make a choice. Thuggism is a lack of choice.  Being awake is constant choice.  Are we ready to respond not with anger with knowledge and understanding? 
We are essentially fragile, all of us, and dependant on each other and anger is familiar to us though how some are expressing it and what they believe are their reasons for their anger are not acceptable to us.
This is what it is.  It is uncomfortable.  Whereas hate can feel good.  It is a paradox huh, that something that can feel good can be the cause of so much bad in the world?
The alarm clock has rung and we are awake. Now what?  Me? I think I will have breakfast.
“This meal arises from the labour of all beings,
may I be grateful.”

Learning to Safely Cross the Street

I am at a crossroads in the my life so what do I do? I get a job as a crossing guard.

Thursday I get my I.D. badge etc. I am confident and have the a.o.k. from the neurologist.  No migraine in three months (a first in my lifetime).  I need the income and the city needs crossing guards.  It will mean covering a whole division but it is in my daughters area so if I need a pit stop I won’t have to come all the way home. It’s a better area than where I live. I live in the place where there is largely inadequate transit, and really long distances between libraries, coffee shops and places where one can hang out between shifts, important on those cold winter days.

I am looking forward to it.  I can bring my hand sewing with me and work on it in between morning, noon and afterschool shifts.  I am doing a lot of applique stuff right now.

I get training but in the meantime I am practicing in front of the mirror.

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When in Doubt: Wave Hands Like Clouds!

So until I can get a loaner brain I am hanging out with babies and family pets and avoiding complex questions, like, do I need to wear clothes?  The last time I felt this confounded I had recently fallen on my face metaphorically, I won’t expand on the subject, suffice to say, falling on your face can take time to get over, even when its metaphorically.

I could however ride my bike, not a metaphorical or even a stationary one like those being ridden by the spin class behind me in my heading picture, but a REAL bicycle  and so my youngest and I rode around Ottawa taking in all the great parks and canals and free stuff that our wonderful capital city provides.  After riding until we felt tired we would get off our bikes, lie on the grass and slurp on some box juices and watch the clouds.

There is a wonderful state under a big sky when you feel as if you are falling, or flying or floating.  And nothing moves in your mind faster than the clouds, in fact it almost seems you are thinking the clouds.

This is Wilf.  He is six months old.  I think he noticed the same thing.

Which brings me to the Tai Chi movement, move hands like clouds. I am still sitting zazen, but I am finding tai chi helps the most.  After doing a short set in the morning I can move my head from side to side without feeling dizzy. When I was studying Tai Chi with a group in Ottawa I met many people, including a man who had been severely brain injured by a drunk driver, who found Tai Chi good for their brains.

Planet Word

my lovely daughter all grown up!

She still likes to read!

One of the great things about raising kids in Ottawa (and even small town Ontario) is that even if you are poor you have access to books. We had a television but to get more than one channel someone had to stand on the back of the couch holding up a metal clothes hanger attached to a wire attached to the back of the set.  We read a lot.

I am happy to say that all three of my adult children read constantly.  I don’t even think going to school is as important as learning to read and then to navigate a library index.  This is something I have to thank my parents for too.  I grew up seeing people reading. My father went to the library every Saturday and always picked out several novels.  I liked picture books. Dr. Seuss was my favourite. I struggled to learn the rules and no other rule breaker could make me laugh the way he could.

I was a quiet kid but learned to love words.  And my love of words started in the community library’s children’s section.

Oh and just a quick mention:  I am watching “Fry’s Planet Word” on TVO and loving it!

The Taste of Lawrence!

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This Saturday, early before the heat and the crowds I took my mother to the Taste of Lawrence. There were street artists! Taste of Lawrence 010

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The artists were young people from Mural Routes. “Mural Routes is dedicated to training and supporting mural artists and communities involved in mural arts through teaching, learning and sharing initiatives in mural art together. Here you will find updates on our continuum of Education programs, from “Step x Step: Introduction to Mural Art” (for ages 14+, no skill level required), to “Leadership Training in Mural Making” (for emerging youth artists), and our annual Symposium (for professional development).”

You can check out the great stuff they do at: http://www.muralroutes.ca !

Taste of Lawrence 026 There were dancers and a midway and lots of food. We opted for ice coffee from a nice air conditioned coffee shop where we could watch the crowds and then headed home!

I am sad to say we missed Disco Nation’s performance!

disconationnew They look awesome!