City Life and Some Thoughts

I went into Philadelphia on August 9. My husband had to go to a meeting and so I hopped aboard the opportunity. I thought I’d take a walk through some old haunts.

I don’t go into the city much now, but I worked there for over a decade in the 80’s and 90’s, and my job required me to go all over the town, in the car and on foot. But the Center City and historical district areas were where my offices were – I never changed employers but I worked in a lot of different locations.

I started to work in Philadelphia as a newbie full-time grown-up in 1980. I wasn’t born here but this is where I have spent my life. So you can imagine that many scenes have layers of memory for me. I could go on and on and in such fascinating detail! But I’ll just do a few sights here, and maybe I’ll have some more to tell you about later on.

Today, I think I’ll show you common sights on the streets.

First up, people. People are always walking around everywhere.

I encountered a guy on a street corner shouting out a non-stop stream of words. City life has taught me not to let on that I am paying any attention, even when I am.

In my experience, people talking to themselves on the street fall into a couple of categories: they are preaching or speech-making, religious or political, to passersby; or they are in their own interior worlds and speaking to the people there. I realized on this trip that I needed to add a category: people who were talking on their Bluetooths.

I saw some of each classification during this day.

There are lots of places to get something to eat if you are hungry. I’ve had my share of meals from the food carts on the street.

You might need a magazine, bag of candy, lottery ticket…so you stop at a newsstand.

I saw groups of motorcycles all huddled together and I didn’t know what they were doing. Just parked on the street like that! I caught on quick after I passed a couple of similar locations. There are designated motorcycle mini-mini-parking-lots now. Like this one.

I also remarked to myself about how many more bicycles there are. Bikes are parked all over and there are plenty of official bike racks (as opposed to chaining your bike to a convenient tree). And I wasn’t counting the bike-share locations. I will tell you, in 1980, no one rode a bike to work.

Pipes still grow right out of the sidewalk; that hasn’t changed. I liked this group. It looked to me as if the big ones were protecting the little one.

I watched this bus unload itself. It stopped right on Market Street at about 8th; the people poured out, the suitcases were wrangled out of the hold by the driver, riders were waving papers and asking questions, lots of people on their phones, and people going further on the journey sitting in the bus in comfort, looked like to me (I sidled up and peered in a window as if I were looking for someone…no one paid any attention to me).

I didn’t know Megabus stopped in Center City; I’ve seen their buses at the train station, though, wheeling around the building in a flashy kind of way. Now, I made some bus trips in my teenage years; for instance, I remember very well being let out at a gas station in rural Indiana to be met by the people I was visiting, suitcase pulled out of the bus’s stomach by the driver, who kidded me about how heavy it was. Take away the double-decker shiny blue, the phones, the city location, and this scene felt familiar.

All right. That’s enough for now, I think.

Caught Unawares

Now you know how it is when you are in the car, and you think you are all alone, unobserved, even. But you’re not.

Not long ago I was stopped behind a school bus at a light. It was empty and so no kids blocked my view (or made faces or gestures at me out of the back window). I noticed I could see the driver in his mirror. I whipped out the camera and took a couple of shots.

I am sure he felt he was totally unseen and had no idea the woman in the car behind him had such a view. I think he was just enjoying the idea of being along on the bus, not a kid in sight.

Anyway, kind of interesting, don’t you think?

Pittsburgh Sights #1

As you know, I attended my son’s wedding in Pittsburgh a week or so ago. While there, my husband and I went sightseeing. We’ve been to the city several times before, so we’ve done the tourist rounds and we have a little familiarity with things. This time we were occupied with wedding events and so our sightseeing was more fragmented.

By now you know that when I go places I don’t see the same sights most people do – museums, shopping, etc. Though I visit them, of course, my preferred activity is just wandering around. I find all kinds of things interesting and I find them in plenitude just walking down the street. It’s a good trait to have – I never get bored, do I?

So my travel photos tend to involved different views than many other people take. I’m going to prove it with the next few posts – my trip to Pittsburgh, a very interesting city.

I’ll start with buses.

I love the buses in this city. They are painted all kinds of colors, and there are a lot of them. I can’t tell you how interesting it makes the streets to see all these big colorful creatures roaring around. I’ve written about them before – they got my attention right away when I visited my son, who was living here at the time, in 2013.

Here’s the current group of photos, and I want to say I think buses are a Pittsburgh monument.

Sunshine Project – Day 66, Bus Stop, Ambler, PA

Today’s sunshine location was inspired by a sight I see often and by a childhood memory.

When I was very young, I learned a song called “The Lonely Little Petunia”, which featured a flower growing in an onion patch. Not surprisingly, all she did was cry. I was very concerned about this poor creature and I asked my father to help me find her so I could rescue her. I understood from his evasions that we were not going to do any looking; the flower wasn’t real, he finally said. I refused to accept this worldview, though I knew it was useless to keep asking. I think this incident is the first instance of my lifelong insistence that everything has a spirit. Of some sort. And everything knows when it’s happy and when it’s not. And songs about sad flowers are just as likely to be true as not.

If you are shaking your head at these thoughts, well, think of the time your car broke down and how sheepish it looked being towed away. Or what about that dilapidated building now spruced up – holding its head a lot higher now, you can see it, can’t you?

So this bus stop has been on my mind.

Bus stop McKean Road 2-24-15

I see it every day as I drive into the gym parking lot. I don’t think anyone has ever caught a bus from this location. I’ve never even seen a bus on this road. We’re in the deep suburbs here and cars are the transportation. The bus is for the city and we are not in the city. Enough said.

Yet the bus stop stands here, patiently waiting for a chance to do its job. It’s well made and weather-tight. There is a nice bench to sit on. I think the bus stop is more likely to find itself sheltering joggers from a sudden downpour than bus riders.

So I set the sunshine on the bench. Now the bus stop has some company, and someone is waiting for the bus. The bus stop is in business and I feel happier already.

Sunshine in place.

Sunshine in place.

Happy sunshine.

Sunshine, February 24, 2015.

Sunshine, February 24, 2015.

If you want to know more about the Sunshine Project, there a place to find out: here! Or you can search under the category “Sunshine Project”.

Sunshine Project – Day 3 – Bus Stop, Glenside, PA

Today I chose this bus stop on Easton Road in Glenside, PA, about a mile and a half from my house. It’s located on a main road, lots of traffic, lots of buses, and it’s right next to the Glenside commuter train station. This sunshine should get some attention, I hope.

Bus shelter on Easton Road, Glenside, PA

Bus shelter on Easton Road, Glenside, PA

Here’s the sunshine. I set it on the railing of the shelter. As you can see, it’s a windy rainy morning and the shelter is nice to have on a day like today. Every stop doesn’t have one – you take your chances.

The sunshine resting on a raindrop-covered railing.

The sunshine resting on a raindrop-covered railing.

I don’t use the bus myself – I tend to go places in my car or else on the commuter train. In the past I also used the trolley system and the subway to get to work. But I know lots of people who do take the bus, and big white buses are part of the landscape on our roads. Essential. Necessary. And it’s so nice to see one coming up the road to pick you up when you’ve been waiting a while.

This bus pulled away with its passengers just as I walked toward the bus stop.

This bus pulled away with its passengers just as I walked toward the bus stop.

I left the sunshine resting on the railing. I think it was balanced well enough not to fall off, and if it did, well, there are hazards in all endeavors, aren’t there? Someone will see it even on the ground, I think.

Sunshine is on the railing near the crossbar.

Sunshine is on the railing near the crossbar.

And here’s what you see, if you are waiting for the bus on this rainy day. It’s just around 9 AM in this picture, and so many people are on their way to work.

Easton Road, Glenside PA, looking toward Philadelphia, from the bus shelter at Easton Road and Glenside Avenues.

Easton Road, Glenside PA, looking toward Philadelphia, from the bus shelter at Easton Road and Glenside Avenues.

Happy bus riding! Happy sunshine! Happy Tuesday!

Normal life, reassurance

If you need to check if the world is still turning as it should be, look for the yellow school buses and see if they are out. Somehow the sight of them going about their usual routes can reassure you.

Thinking ahead, progress

You’re not going to catch the bus if you don’t get yourself to the stop.

Perspective, bus

When you’re young and no one wants to sit beside you on the bus, you are hurt and upset. When you are grown up and no one wants to sit beside you on the bus, you are happy to have the space to yourself. Consider this change in perspective – it’s interesting, isn’t it?

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