Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Season of Surprises

Who would have guessed that three days after Christmas we would be riding our bikes in a record-breaking 66°F? A surprise gift for all to enjoy, so we left our coats, hats and gloves behind and took a quick trip around town with the warm winds from the south that are passing through. What a treat after weeks of rainy weather, below-freezing weather, and feeling under-the-weather. The best gifts don't need batteries.

A summer-like sunset in December

Starry Night

Christmas Corral

And who would have guessed that the Philadelphia Eagles would beat the Dallas Cowboys by a score of 44-6 to make it to the playoffs on the same day? A season of surprises, indeed!

BIKELites from BIKE Lite on Vimeo.
Happy New Year to all! See you next year!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Supermarket Park It


Okay, more than likely the riders of those six bikes were visiting the REI store to the right of the supermarket (as I was). Nearly every time I’m there, I see a bike or two parked outside, which is not surprising since the Schuylkill River Trail is nearby, but there isn’t a bike rack anywhere. This small shopping center got a makeover last year, but I guess nobody thought of adding a bike rack. Maybe I’ll ask someone at REI about it after the holidays when they have time to chat. Or maybe I’ll send an email since that worked wonders in my town. In the meantime, maybe Santa will leave that Playmobil bike rack in my stocking. It’s so small!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Everybody's Gone Smurfin'

“Bigger is better” has never been my motto. I’ve always been drawn to the smaller things in life, from toys to animals to cars to houses. So I guess it was only natural that the Smurfs captured my imagination when I first saw the figurines in a novelty shop in a beach resort town. A bunch of tiny blue people living in toadstool houses was right up my alley. I was a young teenager then, but couldn’t resist buying a few to keep on my dresser or bookshelf.

During one of our last trips to our favorite beach resort town this past summer, my daughter and I discovered a small (of course) boutique-style toy shop. It appeared to be a lovely little shop, but I never made it past the Smurf display just inside the door. There was a huge selection of Smurfs, and no one was surprised at the one I chose:

My daughter chose Smurfette and Baby Smurf.

As we left the shop, I commented on their lovely blue color and realized it was the same shade as our bikes. So I decided to name my bike Smurfy, and my daughter named hers Smurfette. My husband’s bike is black, so we christened it Gargamel, although he refuses to call it anything but “my bike”. Sadly, it was too late to go back and buy a little Gargamel for him.

I hope I never get too old to enjoy the little things. And I certainly hope I never get bigger.

Just a little more:
Here's a West Coast Smurfette (who inspired me to blog about mine).
Here's a Smurf saddle cover on Etsy to protect your saddle from the sun.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Rubber Stamp Redux

In my neverending search for all things bicycle, I found this lovely rubber stamp in my local A.C. Moore crafts store - a Dutch Gazelle bike complete with tulips in the basket and luggage on the rack. It's made by Inkadinkado, and they call it "Amsterdam Errands". I've used it to make a few birthday and thank you cards, sometimes with colored pencils to bring out the details.

Here's another bike design I found on the Inkadinkado website, with the simple name of "Bicycle":
Not nearly as charming as the Amsterdam model, but hey, those Dutch are a hard act to follow, aren't they?

(Don't forget to use your bicycle return address stamp on the envelope.)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Fashion forward / rewind

It seems The Gap hatched the idea of using bicycles to sell fashion long before this year's crop of bike-themed ads.

Of course, it's really the hip, young Hollywooders (Ashton Kutcher, Scarlett Johansson, Zooey Deschanel and Jay Hernandez) that are selling the fashion, but they sure make it look fun to ride a bike in normal clothes.
I'm not sure what year this commercial was made (possibly 2002, according to the YouTube comments), but this might be a good time for The Gap to dig it out of their archives and run it again. Reduce, reuse and recycle, especially in this economy.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Coming soon to a city near me - Jan Gehl

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Danish architect Jan Gehl will be in Philadelphia this Friday, December 5, with his presentation, "Public Spaces, Public Life". To see some of the improvements he has helped to make in the streets of New York City, watch this new interview with him from Streetfilms:

I especially like his "if you build it, they will come" theory on bicycle lanes. I wish the City of Philadelphia could hire his firm to work their magic here. But since the city is having a major budget crisis, I guess I can only hope that they send a few department heads (or maybe even the Mayor) to listen and pick up ideas for the future.
More clips from Streetfilms featuring Jan Gehl can be found here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Start of a new season

Each year it seems more difficult to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday without the commercial side of Christmas pushing ahead in line. The “after Thanksgiving” sales turned into “before Thanksgiving” sales this year, which meant the advertising started even earlier. On November 1, the Halloween merchandise had been replaced by Christmas merchandise. We even received our first Christmas card in the mail on the day before Thanksgiving. I guess it’s the one ounce of rebellious nature in me that refuses to do any Christmas shopping until December 1. There is only one exception to this rule: charity shopping. Each year my two sisters and I participate in a program run by a local charity that matches us up with an underprivileged child in the Philadelphia area. We never meet the child but receive information such as their age, clothing size, favorite color/character/theme, and any particular needs and wants (a winter coat and a baby doll for our 3 year old girl). The idea is to make Christmas wishes come true for one child instead of just donating money and hoping it will help someone, somewhere. The assignments are given out in early November, and the gifts are due back to the charity during the first week of December. Each year, my daughter and I set aside a day to do the shopping for our “Christmas kid”, and each year she seems to enjoy and understand the concept more. She told me she will definitely participate in the program when she is old enough to have her own “Christmas kid”. But she also felt slightly guilty about impersonating Santa, though she felt he would understand. After all, these children wouldn’t be getting all those extra presents from their parents and relatives, so we have to make it look like Santa is giving them even more.
As I pulled up to the drop-off location on Monday afternoon, my eyes lit up as I saw three people rolling bikes up to the door. Inside was an even better sight:

I think there are 9 bikes here.

As I left the building, two more bikes passed me. This was only halfway into the day, and I know one of my sisters had two more bikes to deliver from other participants. I would love to know the final bike count. What a great way to start the Christmas season.