Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Morning rant - car drivers

Good morning everyone,

Hope you all have a good day today.  I started out my day the way I love to: writing a note to a city official about something I read in the paper. 

Best regards, Why's Woman

Dear ..........

Just read the Freeps article about the new pedestrian crossings. I'd noticed them.  Drivers may notice them more, but will they change a bad habit? (

I don't own a car. 

As a pedestrian, I absolutely hate it when cars come creeping up at me when I'm crossing the road.  Some will come within three or four feet.  I'm talking about situations when I'm still in the lane the driver is turning into, not once I've passed the driver's path.  Drivers forget the training from Driver Ed: if another car hits you from behind as you're are turning like this, your car goes in the direction your wheels are turned ... in this case, right into the pedestrian.  I'm old enough now, that I'll often stop and stand in front of the car and wave at and speak to the driver (no swearing, but enough expression that they get the gist). 

Also too, there are lots of situations where I'm stopped on a sidewalk corner, watching a driver looking left and looking left and looking left - never once looking to the right where I'm standing.  This is often at a corner like St. George/Oxford, when the driver is going to turn left/west from the south St. George; I'd be on the SW corner.  It is not unusual for a driver to move the car two or three feet forward before turning her/his head to look to the right.  I love the look on their face when I'm ready, waving both hands and smiling an exaggerated smile.  Boy do they jump!

And while I'm on about things ...

Blackfriar's Bridge, which we know many (if not most) drivers no longer treat as a two way bridge (and yes, I know there's discussion every two years about what to do with it).
How about starting with signs similar to those that are on the Western university (from Righmond Street) bridge?
1.  Do not pass on bridge
2. Do not pass bicycles on bridge
3.  Do not pass on yellow line (this on the approach to the bridge from the east side) 
... when I'm cycling (my other means of transportation), I go down this slope in the middle - to take command of the space and because the right hand edge is bumpy.  I've been counting. Three cars out of 5 pass me on this slope.  And I know they are at a speed above 20 km per hour (sometimes way above).  The fastest guys in particular are the ones who, if they can go right over the bridge without waiting for someone coming down the middle from the other direction, themselves go right down the middle - at well over 20 km. 

And, put in a Do not pass yellow line on the block approaching the bridge from the west side.
No doubt traffic lights on the two bridge approach are part of the every two year discussion?

Unfortunately, there are enough inattentive drivers that no number of signs and cautions will get through to them.  I couldn't tally up the number of times that, as both pedestrian and cyclist, I've had a driver say to me: "Oh, I didn't see you."  I've had a range of responses to this, probably depending on the fear-generated level I'm experiencing at the time.

Transit cameras and automatic tickets?

I'd love to see what Terry O'Reilly - the advertising guy - could do to craft a campaign directed to pedestrians and cyclists that humously starts from the idea that "You know car drivers are out to get you ... watch them every minute."  And have humour ways of dealing with the drivers - pop up signs from our grocery bags and backpacks.  STOP!  ...   DON'T MOVE!   ...   BACK! BACK!      Maybe the drivers that see them will think. Nah!.

There's my morning rant.

Thanks for listening. 

Best regards,

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A dilly of a surprise!

Good morning everyone,

Yes, it's very bad pun.

Yesterday I harvested some dill.  A metre square section of ground is covered in it, thanks to a plant that sheds its seeds all 'round.

This morning there were three "parsleyworms" - the caterpillar of a swallowtail butterfly.  '

They were just waking up in the sun, starting to move, probably wondering why the "juice" in the dill stems didn't taste fresh.  I've returned them all to the garden ... nestled them in the fine foliage. 

Now it's up to them to find the fresh stems.

And wonder what kind of funny dream they all had.

Best regards,

Why's Woman

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Rachel Carson's message more important than ever

Good morning,

I hope you are all well. 

Do you feel a different energy in September?  Is the start of autumn your New Year?  It is for me, and combined  with the energy of cooler temperatures and two rainfalls I'm feeling better than I have in a while.

By two steps of the serendipity that guides my life and this blog, this morning I found the wonderful Orion Magazine ( by happening upon an article by a writer/educator whose work I respect, ecologist Sandra Steingraber.

In The Fracking of Rachel Carson: Silent Spring’s lost legacy, told in fifty parts Steingraber weaves together information about Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, with factual information about fracking, and its effects on people.  (

This is the first article I've managed to get through about fracking.  I've heard about it of course ... it has to do with the injection of water and chemicals and explosives deep, deep into holes and pipes underground to disrupt trapped gas, and capture it for use.  The first time someone told me about fracking, and I commented, I was called "niaive".  I'd said that surely you cannot put holes and chemicals underground without messing up all sorts of things you'd never expect to mess up.  Steingraber's article gives readable text that explains just how messed up things get when fracking is done.  Water tables are polluted, animals and people get sick - very sick. 

The "hook" that got me through Steingraber's article was the link she made with Rachel Carson and her work.  As Steingraber says about Carson: "She sat on a mountaintop and thought about oceans".  For me, there is incredible beauty in this image of scientist, dreamer, and visionary ... and thanks Sandra for giving me this gift.

Fracking is causing horrendous pollution and health problems to the land, water and living creatures in the lands around Rachel Carson's most beloved home turf, the Appalachian area of Pennsylvania, where hawks fly over geologic remnants of oceans.  That contrast inspired Carson to a lifetime of study.

After Carson published Silent Spring in 1962, she spent much time speaking to groups about the damaging effects of petrochemicals on the environment.  She also defended her comments to media and committees, and rebutted attacks by chemical industries. She kept secret that she had been diagnosed with cancer, and was thus denied her detractors opportunity to call her non-objective, or, in the terms of the times, a complaining woman.

Steingraber quotes in her article from Carson's final speech (Oct. 1963, in San Francisco)

"Underlying all of these problems of introducing contamination into our world is the question of moral responsibility. . . . [T]he threat is infinitely greater to the generations unborn; to those who have no voice in the decisions of today, and that fact alone makes our responsibility a heavy one."

I have a new realization of the truth of this.

Last week I had the joy of holding a new baby, just four days old.  She was so tiny.  She is perfect.  She yawned and wriggled in my arms and I was completely overwhelmed by the energy in her stretch and the strength concentrated in her tightened fist.  She's not my child.  She's not a relative.  She's the first child of an intelligent, caring woman I know and her equally good husband.  And I loved this child in my arms with the resolve I felt when I met my goddaughter for the first time over twenty-one years ago. 

Babies are good for us.  They renew us to our most deep and passionate connection to others, to nurture, and protect.

I encourage you to read Sandra Steingraber's article, and read or reread Silent Spring at its 50th anniversary.

Much love to all of you,

Why's Woman

The Fracking of Rachel Carson: Silent Spring’s lost legacy, told in fifty parts
Sandra Steingraber. Orior Magazine, September/October 2012,

Sandra Steingraber narrates a slide show about the fracking of Rachel Carson’s homeground at This article was made possible by generous support from the Park Foundation