On Today’s Walk: Sidewalk’s End Edition

Shel Silverstein warned me this would happen:

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I’m spending a few days with my firstborn while he recovers from surgery. (He’s fine, thanks.) His apartment is located within a mile of just about anything you could want. There are several restaurants nearby, a grocery store four blocks away, two bookstores within a half mile, at least two department stores you can walk to in fifteen minutes, a skating rink! A large and amazing consignment store sits two blocks down the street. All of that just a quick walk from his home.

The rub is that nothing is engineered for pedestrians or bicycles. It’s all designed to encourage driving. I was walking to the convenience store up the street to get us coffee and the sidewalk simply stopped, requiring me to soldier on through a grassy field the rest of the way to the parking lot.

My son told me he walks to the grocery store sometimes, but getting across the major street where it’s located is tricky. “My strategy is sprint and pray,” he says.

For the planet to survive, we need to move away from car culture, but we can’t get individuals to do so on a large scale if we design everything to discourage walking and biking. I’m now even more grateful to live in a city that has invested in trails and seriously promotes active transportation.

You Have the Right to Request a Channel Change

Yesterday I was sitting in a waiting room while my son had some medical scans done. I always have a book handy for such occasions, but it was a little hard to enjoy it while the wall-mounted television blared at loud volume with some police drama involving the search for a child rapist/murderer.

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Several other people were in the waiting room as well, including a couple of families with young children. I saw one pregnant mom and her partner trying to keep their kids distracted, as they moved to the far side of the room from the TV. Unfortunately, the show was audible from all corners. I could tell the program was disturbing them at least as much as it was me. I remember those pregnancy hormones and the instant overwhelming grief I would feel upon hearing of any harm to a child.  Then, too, who wants their kids to hear discussions of children being horrifically murdered?

After the fourth mention or so from the TV characters about raped and murdered children, I went to the reception desk and asked if there was a way to change the channel. I think the woman working there had been focused on her work and managed to tune out the show. She looked up at the screen after I asked and seemed to realize then what was playing. She handed me a remote, saying, “Of course. Put it on whatever station you want.”

As I turned around with the remote in my hand, the pregnant mom looked me in the eye and offered the most sincere “thank you” I’ve ever heard. I’ve never had cable television, so I don’t even know about channels. “Is there a channel your family likes?” I asked her.

She shook her head. “It doesn’t matter. Anything but that.”

I flipped through a few, trying to find something non-controversial and non-traumatic. I settled on college baseball. After I returned the remote and sat back down, an older man near me thanked me as well.

Here’s the thing. I’m shy. I carry a lot of social anxiety around with me. But of everyone who wanted the channel changed, I was the only one who felt empowered to do something about it. I guess?

If you like police procedurals and want to watch whatever that show was at home, I’m not judging. I, too, sometimes enjoy shows where I feel like an evil doer is brought to justice. But it was so obviously inappropriate for the situation and so obviously distressing a number of people.

Let me give a little pep talk here. It’s not overstepping to say that something is distressing and politely request a remedy. You don’t have to sit there thinking it’s terrible but you just have to live with it. Folks, you have the right to request a channel change.

On Today’s Walk, Finally Spring Edition

We had a long, long, long, hard, hard, hard winter here. What walks I took were utilitarian and accomplished as quickly as possible, with no taking off of gloves to snap photos.

But spring has arrived at long last. I see color popping here and there, new blossoms, life re-emerging.

 

We hunkered down, endured through the gray and cold. Then one day, there were flowers.

Shakespeare’s Henry IV, a Tale for Modern Times

photo of black ceramic male profile statue under grey sky during daytime

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A few weeks ago the universe gifted me something I’ve wanted for a long time — the Complete Works of William Shakespeare, in two volumes. I’m pretty sure I’ve read all of his freestanding poems over the years. But I must admit to familiarity with only a small handful of his plays. I decided to make a project of reading and then watching all of the plays, which I can do thanks to my public library’s DVD collection.

So, let’s talk about Henry IV, parts 1 and 2, and how the more things change, the more they stay the same. Though the story follows conflicts between royalty rather than elected officials, many elements seemed all too familiar to me, with parallels to current events. I suppose this is why Shakespeare’s works endure. He captures the universals of the human experience.

King Henry IV, in his efforts to have things 100% his way, ends up stoking rebellion instead. He is free with insults for those who incur his displeasure. Transactional behaviors and relationships abound — characters all trying to use each other. See what I mean? Sound familiar? Throughout the two plays, alliances shift among several factions, and nobody knows whom to trust. Covert help is sought from foreign sources. Each side has its mix of hot-heads (one even nicknamed Hotspur), schemers, sincere believers, and rascals.

This even holds true within the King’s own immediate family. Prince Hal spends his time getting into trouble with a group of wastrels, deliberately keeping expectations for himself low so he can easily exceed them. Meanwhile his younger brother, John (a character who might strike a chord if you’ve ever known an adult child of an alcoholic) just wants to make all of his kin happy through his hard work and rule following.

The Earl of Worcester foreshadows Fox News as a source of disinformation to gin up the case for war for his own purposes. The spirit of Falstaff lives on today in profiteers who seek their own fortunes and comfort above duties to others. Treachery and double dealing are rampant throughout the course of the two plays.

At the very end of part 2, Prince Hal ascends the throne as King Henry V. And suddenly his scandalous former associates are disavowed as no more than coffee boys he only met a time or two. He doesn’t really even know them. (Sorry if that was a spoiler for anyone.)

I guess there are patterns to human affairs.

Notable quote:
Pride defeats its own end, by bringing the man who seeks esteem and reverence into contempt.

On Today’s Walk 12-9-18

On today’s walk, it was sunny but brrr c-c-c-old. On the one-mile lap around my immediate neighborhood, I engaged in not a single spoken conversation. Yet a fair amount of communication happened.

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I ignored the caution sign and went close to peek under the rock, because I’m a rebel without a clue. All I saw was a hole in the ground.

On Today’s Walk 11-24-18

I strolled my neighborhood in unseasonably temperate weather, perfect for a walk — the last few warm hours before a predicted winter storm.

I heard leaf blowers, but never saw them. I saw people raking the brown, drying remnants of autumn, and running them over with mulching mowers. I saw a family taking photos of their toddlers playing in a leaf pile. At one house, a determined man used a front-loading Bobcat to push the masses of leaves from his lawn into one big stack near the edge.

Maybe I should have been have been doing yard work instead of playing tourist to all of the neighbors doing theirs. I still have undone weeding, left over from the summer. On the other hand, the mess of my yard might not be visible under the snow by this time tomorrow.

The bodies of the leaves are gone, but their spirits have not yet crossed over:

 

 

 

On Today’s Walk, Thanksgiving Edition

On Thanksgiving, a post-dinner excursion on the Katy Trail near Rocheport, Missouri.

I assume these two animals were not here at the exact same time:

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Dog’s paw print and deer hoof print.

Bluff on one side, river on the other. Being between a bluff and a river is a little better than between a rock and a hard place:

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A little cave — a cavelet, if you will:

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An old explosives depot, used by the railroad company when trains ran down this route:

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Eerie shadows (my son):

 

Inside looking out:

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Missouri River near sunset:

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