there are two traffic circles in the area. the one in my neighborhood, which has enjoyed countless decorative displays over the years, and a relatively new one in the neighborhood just to the south. they are rarely decorated at the same time, so what's going on right now seems special.
this is what's happening in my traffic circle right now:
from a distance this hardly seems like anything at all. the pole from the new year's celebration is still in the middle, but this new thing has been strung around it.
i had to get really close to see that it's some sort of global warming message. those are flimsy swimsuits strung on the line with the signs.
then there's the traffic circle in the adjacent neighborhood, which has gone totally abstract:
here's a closeup shot. i have no idea what it means. it's nutso, but that's perfectly ok. at least it slows people down as they approach the intersection.
the neighborhood just to the south of mine recently had a traffic circle installed at one of their busiest intersections. and because those people are ALMOST as cool as us, they've also decided to start using their new circle as a place for public art:
here you see a purple bench, a green table-like thing, an old lamp (on the ground) and a big metal pole with a cardboard box on top. on the four sides of the box appear words: YOUR. CRAZY. ART. HERE.
a nice start, folks. :-)
now on to MY neighborhood circle:
i wasn't sure what this meant until i saw the following message appear on the neighborhood listserv:
the little patch of public space known as asphalt island is one of the few public spaces remaining where free speech can be expressed. most of the installations are self censored. the installations are often fun, quirky, light hearted, but always family friendly. the circle is often a celebration of everydayness, and the installations follow guidelines set by the city.
on saturday morning the traffic circle contained a bio hazard of pink kryptonite in celebration of gay pride. that same morning before 9 a.m. a note was placed saying "PLEASE REMOVE THIS UGLY SHIT." (NOT a family friendly note) just a few minutes after seeing the note the diversity tower of pink kryptonite was torn down/disappeared.
what is deemed "UGLY SHIT" is low cost art. because of theft the pieces are low cost or found objects. most people installing something in the circle know that objects may be stolen or vandalized.
what is so hard about seeing an object for five seconds as you drive by? is anything thought provoking offensive? not everyone will like what is placed in the circle but the pieces do build community. they encourage discussion. they invite others to participate. whoever removed the pink kryptonite dictated what everyone else got to see (or not see).
we are very disturbed that today, the day of gay pride, was marred by an incident of intolerance. free expression is not about universal approval, and it's also not about one person's disapproval.
full of pride,
another message followed, a half-hour later:
the pink kryptonite was found in a nearby garbage can. people should be careful how they dispose of bio hazards.
(RABiD, by the way, stands for "Renegade Arts Brigade in Durham")
apparently while i was in NYC my neighborhood was busy (busy busy) coming to the aid of chained dogs. the current traffic circle display is not only beautiful, but it's also a political statement.
a group calling themselves the coalition to unchain dogs has organized local meetings to convince the county commission to pass a proposal outlawing dogs-in-chains.
in fact, my neighbors are now so riled up about this that they are contacting animal control each time they see a chained dog, and at the end of each day post to the neighborhood listserv just how many dogs they've helped free. tonight that post simply said "19 down, 31 to go."
AUGUST 31 CORRECTION:
I received an email from the neighborhood resident -- a very compassionate soul -- who is coordinating a local effort to get the resolution passed. He says:
The update isn't about the number of dogs released--wish that it were--but is about the number of people who have contacted the county commissioners telling them to support the proposal from the INC and PAC 2 to outlaw keeping dogs on chains. I sent a message to the listserv saying that [I am] very close to the artist and if 50 people would send messages to the commissioners we would try to persuade the artist to unchain Fido. I'm sending an update soon: we have 28 messages sent and 22 to go.
this weekend something new landed in the traffic circle:
there is much debate on the neighborhood listserv about just what, exactly, it is.
i think it's a robot ostrich. something like a robocop, keeping an eye on people who speed around the traffic circle.
go get 'em, robostrich!
i need to tell you that for the last few days my exclusive soundtrack has been paul simon's new album, "surprise". i had heard good things, but sweet jezus i had no idea how soul-stirring this music would be for me. i listened to it for the first time a couple of days ago on my way to work and i actually got teary. i had to pull over. (i can't even say that about david byrne albums.)
"surprise" is produced by brian eno. i couldn't fathom what it would sound like. paul simon's high-pitched voice on top of ambient rumblings? but yes, it works. and works so well that i don't want to listen to anything else right now. you can hear some samples at paulsimon.com
so, with this constant soundtrack in mind, here is my day in pictures.
we've been taking care of the neighbor's kittens. they are totally adorable and full of energy. we let them out onto the tiny screened porch and they just want to take everything in. and, much to my amusement, anything is a toy to them, too. (2.5 MB .mov)
there's new "art" in the traffic circle, though it's merely a neighborhood reminder about this weekend's beaver queen pageant. (last year, an area of the neighborhood was inhabited by beavers who built a dam that flooded the yard of a low-lying house or two. a couple of fun-loving neighborhood lesbians took the presence of the beavers to heart and started a quirky little pageant.)
now that my workday has shifted (i'm working roughly noon-7pm) i run my errands in the morning. i had a lot of them to do. as i made my way down highway 70 i passed a church that always has good signs.
over the last few weeks i've been shopping for new glasses frames. it's been a blur. (335k .mov) i've got a zillion photos of me wearing a zillion different frames and i'm nowhere near making a decision.
ray's birthday is sunday, so i also did a little shopping for him. that's all i can say about that, though i can mention that i spied this restaurant, which --because i totally judge a book by its cover-- i feel compelled to eat at! as i took this photo i was practically salivating. while giggling.
by this point, i was only a mile or two from the wide shoe warehouse so -duh- i had to stop in. all the salespeople recognize me, which i'm both flattered by and worried about. over the years i've been shopping there, the stock has definitely become less old lady and more christa. they now have tons of colorful sandals and espadrilles. i walked out with these beauties.
since i now had photo-taking in the forefront of my brain, the missing "T" caught my eye. (the first word is "circus" --which makes the sign even funnier-- but i was stuck at a stoplight and couldn't maneuver to get a proper picture.)
and that is all. it occurred to me that i could've taken photos of a couple of radio stations and stuff, but eh... whatever. if i find the time i may post some photos of my top choices in glasses frames. my new work schedule leaves very little time for blogging, though, (or the reading of blogs). i miss it... i feel like i'm falling a little out of touch. but i'm not really complaining -- work is more fun and more challening than it has been in years and i couldn't be happier.
saturday night ray and i heard the north carolina symphony perform mahler's "resurrection" symphony. it is my favorite piece of music, and i haven't seen it performed live since 1998. (and that was with the chicago symphony orchestra and chorus, conducted by zubin mehta. man, i loved those student rush tickets when i was in college!)
last night's performance was great. it's an immense symphony, featuring a huge chorus. the orchestra is huge, too, with most of the winds being doubled in numbers. it's a fun symphony to watch... there is a lot of activity as brass and percussion leave at various times to perform off-stage.
the music is fantastic and bombastic. it's tender, too, and the finale is so moving that i burst into tears. i was sobbing, shoulders shaking, for the last 5 minutes of the work.
i love having deeply-felt musical experiences like that. i also consistenly cry when i hear saint-saens "organ" symphony. in fact, i've cried while playing it at work, and have had to go on-air with a quivering voice, trying hard to sound professional.
anyway, the music was magical last night. and as ray and i were driving home, what do we see in the traffic circle? something equally beautiful. i wish i could have gotten a good nighttime photo... it was hauntingly lovely in the dark. these photos were taken first thing this morning:
i love that there are so many birds!
for the longest time i couldn't figure out what they were made of. until i saw this one.
ray thought this one was a dodo.
all of this --the music, the birds-- was lovely enough to make me forget my worries over the pool for a while.
the island got updated with a lawn chair and a house this weekend in honor of the historic home tour that was going on in old north durham.
again, apologies for the lack of substantive blogging. i'm just not feeling all that inspired lately, i guess. what i HAVE been is busy... i've been pulling some double-shifts on-air to help out a co-worker. i've also been busy shoe-shopping (check out this discount site i just discovered!), trying to find shoes to match a dress i'll be wearing to a wedding in july. i've also been knitting a gift for this wedding. and doing yard work... which, surprisingly enough, i'm enjoying. i've spent so much time loathing yard work that it's rather stunning to find myself enjoying it.
the trick is to do only as much as is interesting. in other words, i'm not knocking myself out to get any one project done. i'll go piddle around a bit, maybe lay a bag of mulch or two, then quit... and not feel guilty about it. because these short spurts are rather easy and pleasant, i find myself enjoying the sunshine and the birds chirping in the trees, and am actually seeing more progress than before, when i dreaded it all. back then, i would go out of my way to find reasons to not do yard work and consequently not get much done.
so, this weekend i uncovered even more brick border (as i did last year), and before that i spread newspaper and mulch over some really overgrown beds in the back yard. i really want to get to work on the landscaping in the front of the house, too, but i'm so ignorant about plants that i have no idea what to put in the ground. i want something that will soften the look of the house, but i don't really want shrubs. i'm going to have to start tivoing some gardening shows for ideas, i guess. (here's what the front of the house has looked like over the past year or so, if you have any suggestions. note that currently the landscaping is most like the bottom photo... cut-back, bare and dead. it's lovely.)
i also foolishly told the locopops lady that i would build her a website, and suddenly i'm feeling less than excited about that. i finally have the ambition to work in the yard and on the house, and the last thing i want to do is sit indoors and build a website. b'oh.
well, apparently the sprinkler did such a good job that the 'grass' now needs mowing.
in the background of that photo you may have noticed the world's greatest mailman, charlie. as i was taking this photo, he walked up to me and said, smiling, "i saw you taking photos and for a second i thought you might be a realtor... this isn't one of your listings, is it?"
sorry to turn this into an almost exclusively traffic-circle blog, but hey... it's not like you want to hear about any more shoe purchases i may have made, right? i mean, going into the details of how i found these on sale at ann taylor for $30... that's not interesting blog fodder at all. i know that.
my favorite things about this piece of traffic circle art are:
1) the astroturf mats
2) the huge stalks of flowering bamboo that have been attached to the traffic signs
3) the sprinkler!
4) the fact that this is apparently one hot property.
so, this morning i was halfway through my walk when i spotted updated traffic circle art. i also saw my friend joe, who lives adjacent to the circle.
today is joe's birthday, and he is one of the recipients of the birthday greetings. (the display is aimed at all april birthday celebrants in the neighborhood. note the sharpie left behind for additions -- it's an interactive display!) joe and i walked to the middle of the circle together and admired the handiwork up close.
while we were standing in the circle a car approached and slowed down. the driver wanted to talk to us. she was a middle-aged woman, nicely dressed, with glasses and a nice ponytail. she was trying to carry on a cell phone conversation while simultaneously talking to joe and me.
"the neighborhood would really appreciate it if you would stop putting these displays in the traffic circle." she said it so pleasantly that i thought she was joking. i smiled and with a wink and a nudge i said, "oh yeah?"
"yes," she said, "it's tacky. i was just telling my friend on the phone that i was so excited to be catching the culprits in action!"
both joe and i said, "oh, we didn't do this!" but we still kind of thought she was joking. she wasn't mad at all. she was really quite nice.
joe said, "it's my birthday! this is for me!" the lady said, "well, happy birthday. but maybe you can tell the people who did this to stop. in their own yard, it would be ok. but these displays make the neighborhood look bad."
i laughed out loud, still not sure whether she was kidding or not. "it makes the neighborhood look bad?!?" she was kidding, right??
whoever was on the other end of her phone conversation must have been trying to get her attention, and she became clearly torn about whether to talk to her friend or chew us out some more. she chose the phone and drove off, saying one more time, "just tell the people who do this to keep it in their own yard."
after she drove away, joe and i discussed whether she was serious or not. joe thought she was kidding. i was pretty sure she was serious... i think she's a traffic circle hater.
happy easter from the traffic circle!
i don't know whose birthday it was on saturday, but some 4-year-old must've been tickled pink to see his special day acknowledged so publicly.
ironically, the same little inflatable cake was back out again today, but with barry's name next to it.
reusable traffic circle art! woo!
for the past two years ray and i have honored the spirit of february 14 by cooking a meal together. a meal we've never cooked before. togetherness in the kitchen. something quite out of the ordinary for us.
but it won't be happening this year; i have rehearsal tuesday night from 6:30ish - 10:30ish. no time to cook. and since we both don't like to participate in the hallmark-ification of the holiday (no cards, no flowers, no restaurants), it looks like we probably won't be doing anything for valentine's day this year.
maybe we can just go smooch in the center of the traffic circle.
i was in bed last night by 10pm, and lights out by 10:30.
i woke up at 7 and went for a walk... up the street to the new traffic circle decoration, and back.
this display is more abstract than the purple man, who disappeared before halloween. one of these items appears to be a dead tomato plant full of stuffed bears. the other is a long stick with blue feathers glued to it.
i have no idea what it means. but i do enjoy watching the expressions of passers-by as they slow down and try to figure it out.
also, i'm feeling much better today. i don't know whether to attribute my improved disposition to the early bedtime, the walk, or the fact that i pooped again this morning.
a month or so ago, in a last-ditch traffic-calming effort, the city installed a traffic circle at the intersection of markham and glendale.
there's been some debate amongst my neighbors as to whether the circle is actually big enough to slow down traffic. the intersection isn't large; the circle isn't large. we still see some people flying through the area, without slowing down to check for oncoming traffic. some people think the intersection may even be more dangerous with the addition of the traffic circle, given how we idiot north carolinians are seemingly ignorant about how traffic circles work.
well, a couple of our neighborhood's most creative members recently "decorated" the traffic circle. i suspect that this is going to really help slow down traffic around the circle:
i especially love how it looks from a slight distance.