Friday, October 14, 2011

Bikers Beware

I truly need to do some research around the bike laws here in Colorado. In fact, I am sure some of you, my pals, out there know a good deal more of it than I do. I knew Jersey bike laws pretty intimately, but here.... is it different? Or are people just stupid?

Look, I'm a parent. I get that it feels safer to teach a child to ride a bike on a sidewalk, if it's available. You want to keep the kids active but away from cars on the street. It feels smarter to teach someone to ride towards oncoming traffic, so the biker can see what is coming towards him or her as opposed to having traffic sneak up from behind. I ride a bike too (albeit only in leap years between 3:15 and 4 pm on March 27th if it's a Saturday and the weather is nice, or something akin to such rarity). I know what feels safer to a biker. Thing is, when I was a kid, I was taught that, no matter what you feel is safer, you follow general traffic regulations. You ride with traffic, not against it. You don't ride bikes on sidewalks any more than you'd drive your car on one. Why? Well, because that was the law, but more importantly, if you do it any other way you are far more likely to either smack into a pedestrian or, if you are less lucky, get creamed by a Ford F150 (South Jersey).

Well, last night I almost creamed some fool teenager biking against traffic. I pulled out of a parking lot, down a side street and I approached a main thoroughfare through my neighborhood. The streets were empty. It was nearing 10pm. As I neared a stop sign, I saw a bicycler on the "wrong" side of the street. He carried a flashlight, and shined it right at me so I could see him. Okay. He was on the "wrong" side of the road, but I appreciated that small safety measure, even if I was temporarily blinded. He wasn't the problem. The problem was that his buddy, biking 10 yards behind him, rode without a flashlight, also on the "wrong" side of the road. If I had not paused long enough to watch the flashlight kid carry on a bit down the road, I might have smacked right into his darkly dressed pal. The boy had passed almost completely in front of my vehicle, about a foot from my bumper, before I even saw him. Riding in the dark on the "proper" side of the street would at least have allowed my headlights an opportunity to catch him. And I'm pretty sure if I smashed a kid the fault would fall to me, even if he was the one being a moron. I would win the physics game, but lose the legal one. Plus, I might feel a little bad destroying even a dumb kid. 

I think if this incident were isolated, I would simply mutter "dumb kid," and move on with my life instead of ranting here on my blog... but about 2 months ago, as I was walking my kids to school, my son was literally run over by a kid who was riding to school on his bike- on the sidewalk. My boy took the hit and rolled off of the curb into the street. I am grateful every day that a car was not coming at that time. Now, okay, the rider was a very young kid riding his bike. I could tell the young biker tried to stop his bike and simply could not. I accepted his apology and asked if he himself was okay (he must have only been 6 or 7). None of this makes it okay to me that this boy was riding a bike on the sidewalk nearing the school. A lot of people walk the sidewalks in this area. Bicycles are moving vehicles that can cause injury. My son recovered quickly, but it leaves me wondering... what is the law around things like this? Shouldn't we be teaching our kids to at least hop off of the bike and walk it on the sidewalks within a few blocks of the school? My boy recovered from his fall quickly, but he is still very haunted. He wants me to pick him up whenever he sees a bike on the sidewalk. Which is far too often.

So now I have a new research project. Time to know the Colorado law. It's a good thing for me to fully understand, truthfully. Maybe I won't feel so bad about screaming at people that they are reckless fools if I know the law is on my side. Mehh. I probably won't feel bad anyway.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What the heck

We rise early on Tuesdays to get the seven year old to choir practice at the school.

"What the heck?" the three year old chimed this morning.
"It's still dark outside!"

What the heck indeed.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

In the kitchen

It has been a day of excellent cooking qi! I can't take full credit. I started by mooching qi from my neighbor and dear friend, Kat, as we made and jarred green tomato chutney and white wine/oregano jam. It was a task of obligation, largely, as our gardens were packed with green tomatoes and herbs yet the first snow of the season slammed us this weekend. It was time for the last harvest. As it often does, obligation delivered greatness, as the flavors were simply smashing.

From there, the kitchen adventures landed me in the middle of a fantastic Broccoli Cheese Soup recipe for dinner. Bonus: the kids actually ate the stuff. Alright, they needed mild bribery, but it wasn't much. They did great.

The day ended with a batch of my awesome chocolate chip cookies. Tough to beat that.

I am pretty excited about today's cooking, actually. We did go out for lunch today, but we have been working hard to eat at home more often in an effort to control spending. It seems we have seen some success too after a few weeks of this. It is only encouraging to find the preparations from our own kitchen to be delicious. It makes it seem less like cutting corners and more like expanding our horizons more economically.

As I was baking cookies tonight, I remembered my mother baking cookies when I was a child. She would add just half of a 12 oz bag of chocolate chips to the batter. It wasn't until I had an oven of my own in which to bake that I realized the recipe called for twice that amount. People had said I was a spoiled child, but clearly my childhood was riddled with deprivation! A cookie with twice as many chocolate chips was pure luxury!

As I thought on this tonight, I considered that Mom reduced the chips in order to make them go further. Stretching the ever critical dollar to one more batch of cookies. I appreciate her frugality. Interesting though that reducing the whole recipe by half was never the way she handled this. We had plenty of cookies. It was always just the chips that were reduced.

Well, whether I am trying to cut corners now or not, I have seen the light. Once you've tasted luxury it's hard to go back, and while I can sacrifice dinner out 2-3 times a week, some 'quality of life' decisions can not be compromised. The chip count stays true to the recipe.

So, we will see what the coming week in home cooked meals brings. At least I can rest assured that dessert will be spot on!