The Stories Houses Tell

dilapidatedAs summer meanders to its not-so-grand finale, I ponder my many hours biking and clomping around neighborhoods in sneaks, I decide it’s time to tell the stories of the myriad houses I’ve passed during my travels.

I’m not going to tell the tale of each and every house I’ve passed, even though each one has a lot to say, but rather, talk about them in categories which means, I guess, that I am typecasting?

Never-the less …

  1. Vacant, bank-owned houses: These are the ones that incense me, that make me see maroon, that fuel my ire. While biking on any given day I have passed anywhere from 5 to 15 vacant homes, and this within a five mile radius from ground zero (my home).  These bank-owned travesties sport crooked shutters, boarded windows, tropical rain forest landscaping in a northern climate, falling down fencing, cracked driveways, sinful and heartbreaking neglect  and, well, you get the picture. The reason these homes incense me so is because they sit there pulling down property values for us working poor when their bank-owners could do all sorts of creative things to keep them neat, trim, and occupied. (I am not a fan of U.S. banks)
  2. Empty lot with flowers: There is just one of these on my route and I was struck by its bareness in contrast to four very lonely bouquets spread across it evenly.  There is a driveway which hints about the house that was once there. Stories filled my head immediately  upon seeing this lot, and none of them were pretty.  I spent weeks doing Google searches and combing through the results to discover what once went down there. I found it. It happened the previous February. A fire. The owners were not home. Cause: accidental. The four bouquets? I remain rattled wondering – pets? Someone knocked something over? Please no and I will indeed not – know.
  3. Homes owned by elderly: My town is host to many of these. Here the grass is mowed less frequently than the neighbors’. The shades and curtains are drawn tight. The car in the driveway is an older model Cutlass or Century. In short – the house has known better days but remains strong and stalwart.
  4. Homes with new owners: So many times I’ve gotten great comfort from select homes with beautifully, artful yard and pristine property. I dream of living in these until they are sold and the new folks move in. I cannot blame them but for the first year, two, or even three, there is a marked deterioration in everything as they get their finances under control.  The upside – most will.
  5. Homes with new owners in over their heads: Everything above holds true except – most won’t!
  6. Rented homes:  Ugh, ugh, ugh! In fairness, some renters do care and keep up their homes, but the vast majority, well, enter slumlord city. These are on the same scale as the bank-owned babes, albeit maybe half a centimeter higher.1940_cape_cod

And so with tongue in not-so-cheek, I ask you to lend your ears and your comments about house stories you have heard in your travels and travails.

Handlebars and Bikers

plain_bicycle_icon_largeAnd no, I am not talking mustaches. This summer I have noticed a phenomenon during my Canal Path biking cruises. What I have noticed almost without fail is that those of us who toot-toot along on our up-handle bar bikes smile, say hello, and are basically friendly. What I have noticed almost without fail is that those who careen along on their down handlebar bikes don’t smile, don’t nod, and ignore any friendly overtures.

I’ve been pondering this most of the summer, or at least while I’m riding along the Canal Path, wondering why the rude behavior among most of the down handlebars. Here are some other things I’ve noticed:

  • 99% wear very serious-looking helmets
  • 99% wear what appear to be official (expensive) biking togs
  • 99% cruise along quite quickly
  • 99% take up the whole path when they ride in pairs or groups and take their time getting out of the way of other (up-handlebar) bikers

On the other hand, besides a general friendly, open approach, here are some facts about the up handlebar folks.

  • 75% wear helmets
  • 75% wear plain jeans, shorts, and T-shirts
  • 75% huff and puff up hills and coast happily down hills
  • 75% quickly and generously get out of the way of passing or approaching bikers

I’m not sure what this all means except for a loose hypothesis that perhaps the down handlebars are ‘serious,’ competitive bikers who focus on one thing – winning whereas we “up” types seek to enjoy life, smell the roses and be in the moment. Notice the wording – “up” handlebars and “down” handlebars. Hmmm.

So, next time you’re out riding your bike, see if you can confirm my scientific observations or engage me in debate regardless of your handlebars.

Not Lost and Found!!

Basha 2I have literally been losing sleep this last week worrying about the little Boston Terrier who was running loose and clearly scared alongside the Erie Canal here in Rochester, NY. After some sleuthing, I found her owner who had given up hope. Little ‘Basha’ had been lost since July 4th when she bolted in terror at the sounds of firecrackers. July 4th  until July 31st – that’s a long time, and bless her little heart, she was spotted in a huge geographical radius that included busy streets and expressways.

I spent the last week riding and walking up and down the path where I saw her. I talked to her owner and we walked the path together. I placed an ad on Craig’s List and blasted the word on Facebook. I even Tweeted several of the local television newscasters.

Then, on Tuesday  I took some chicken and put it in a place I marked and when I went back yesterday, it was gone. Granted – anything could have eaten it, but there are no real carnivores in that area, so my hopes rose. I brought and left some doggie biscuits and put them where the chicken had been. I was going to go check on them today but this morning, I got a call – one of the best calls I’ve gotten in a long time. Little Basha was found! She is currently in safekeeping with the guy who found her and he and her owner will rendezvous later today. She has found her way home at last.

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