Car & driver


Win this Subaru

As a satisfied Subaru-owner, I always notice other Subarus on the street: it’s like recognizing fellow members of a fraternal organization through a secret handshake. This particular Subaru, parked along Main Street in Keene this afternoon, grabbed my eye, though, because of the decal on its back window: a Reggie look-alike!

Reggie lookalike!

Surely the designers of the vehicle decals advertising Subaru of Keene‘s current car giveaway were inspired by this photo of Reggie in the backseat of my own Subaru, for the resemblance between the decal-dog at left and the real thing is too striking for mere coincidence. Apparently Reggie has a twin, and that twin also is a fan of Subaru car-rides.

As much as I love my Subaru, Reggie might love it even more than I do, for he contentedly sprawls across the entire backseat whenever we drive anywhere, whether “anywhere” refers to our frequent commutes between Massachusetts and New Hampshire or our annual trips to Ohio and back. What dog wouldn’t love having the vehicular equivalent of a couch on wheels while Mom zips to and from any given adventure?

Great vehicle, even greater bumper sticker

It’s a joke only a Buddhist would get, which made its placement on the bumper of a pickup truck parked this morning at the Providence Zen Center in Cumberland, RI all the more perfect.

Buddha's birthday, 2007

Mahayana” is the term used by Buddhists from China, Korea, Vietnam, Japan, and Tibet to refer to their particular flavor of practice: the so-called “Great Vehicle.” Calling your own way of spiritual practice “great” is, well, great…except that referring to the “Great Vehicle” of Mahayana Buddhism automatically implies a so-called “Lesser Vehicle”: Hinayana, the pejorative name used by (of course) Mahayana Buddhists to refer to the Theravadan traditions of Thai, Burmese, Sri Lankan, Cambodian, and Laotian Buddhism.

You can get away with joking about Great Vehicles among the Korean-influenced Zen Buddhists at the Providence Zen Center: we all know that the “Great Vehicle” also refers to the Bodhisattva way, which does not discriminate between “greaters” and “lessers” in its endeavor to save all beings from suffering. From a Zen perspective, there is no “great” vehicle, only the One Vehicle that is This Present Moment. Whether you take a pickup truck, car, plane, train, or boat–and whether you’re Thai, Chinese, Cambodian, Japanese, or American–the One Way that’s the High Way is the very moment you’re currently in: no “vehicle” necessary. The moment you wake up and remember you’re Right Here, Now, you’ve already arrived.

The last tailgater

Apparently New Hampshire’s fiercely independent can-do spirit extends to both shotgun vigilantism and do-it-yourself truck painting.

Got pollen?

In “More Lines for a June Heat Wave,” Leslee mentioned her “pollinated car.” In case you think the image of a vehicle “Dusted with / mustard powder” is a bit of poetic exaggeration, here’s an image to show why all of us with allergies here in New England have been sneezing and sniffling these days.

Parallel parking, Masshole-style

Boston isn’t known for vehicular kindness. The streets here are narrow, crowded, and poorly marked, and drivers act accordingly. I notice myself driving differently on my long weekends in Newton compared to my short workweeks in Keene. In Keene, I drive slowly and defer to other drivers; in Newton, I run yellow lights and heed the dictum of “every driver for herself.” When in Rome, act like the Romans; when in Massachusetts, drive like a Masshole.

Gangsta chic?

Today J and I went to lunch in Waltham, and on the way we witnessed a hit-and-run accident. The car in front of us swerved, sideswiped a parked car, and kept going while pedestrians stood slack-jawed on nearby sidewalks. “We’ll get his plate number,” J shouted through his open window to several shocked passersby as we continued after the culprit. But because it was lunchtime on a Friday in Waltham, we were quickly cut off by another car and never got close enough to the Anonymous Masshole to read his or her license plate.

Hit-and-run accidents are not unique to Boston. But somehow the notion of “keep moving, and perhaps no one will notice” seems particularly urban, as if the sheer number of people sharing our streets and sidewalks makes it easier to pass the buck. Today after enjoying a thank-God-it’s-Friday lunch, some poor soul returned to his or her parallel-parked car to find its driver’s-side mirror torn from its now-dented side. Shit happens, and so do hit-and-run accidents. It’s part of what living in the city is about.

This is my submission for today’s Photo Friday theme, The City. In defense of the oft-maligned motorists of Boston, I shot both of today’s pictures in Cambridge, MA.

Found a friend

The stuffed dog I spotted at the laundromat earlier this month is back…and he’s found a friend. Here’s hoping Blue Octie has had a similarly happy ending to his tale of lost and found.

Still closed

From this angle, the rotary construction project at the intersection of Main and Winchester/Marlboro Streets in downtown Keene doesn’t look terribly different from when they started detouring traffic back in May. Yesterday I was back in Keene after more than two weeks away, and I was hoping to be able to drive on the new rotary. Instead, I found freshly painted directionals on new pavement, but Main Street itself is still closed, at least if you’re driving in a car rather than riding a bike.

Biking the new rotary

It takes a surprisingly long time to turn an angular intersection into a circular roundabout. In the meantime, residents have had to withstand a summer of construction noise, re-routed traffic, and dead-ends. Being more off-road-worthy than cars, pedestrians have already tested the fresh pavement, crossing this usually-busy intersection as if there were no construction getting in the way.

Rotary pedestrians

Viewed from another angle, rotary construction looks more like deconstruction, the segment of Winchester Street that borders the northeastern corner of the Keene State College campus being an unpaved, dusty mess right now.

Still under (de)construction

Considering that parents will be moving their students back to campus next weekend, you have to hope construction will be completed by then. Otherwise, frustrated families will have to yield to construction headaches.

Yield

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