Category Archives: road signs

Traffic Calming Turtle

O Canada.



It’s been a while since I posted a good road sign, but I saw lots of these in Toronto. So much better than the ones we have here, which (a) don’t have turtles, and (b) are grammatically ambiguous, such that it might appear we are calling our children stupid.



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Spring into Summer

Time to play catch-up!

This is Catoctin Mountain Orchard in Maryland. When I was younger and lived in Virginia, this was the halfway point in the drive when we went to visit my grandparents in Harrisburg. It hasn’t changed at all, that I can tell (but it does have a website now).

If you happen to be a fan of jam or preserves, I highly recommend ordering some of their blueberry or strawberry-rhubarb preserves. Mmm.

Welcome to Virginia! State bird: the cardinal. (Superior to the Pennsylvania state bird, which is the ruffed grouse.)

Virginia countryside. Smells like green.

My team for BUDA’s Spring Hat league, after going 5-0 in the tournament (after going 1-6 during the season…).

Interesting neighborhood gardening. (Flower spills: much less harmful than oil spills.)

Still Life With Ducks, I.

Still Life With Ducks, II (it was a slow day).

Later that day, slightly more interesting than ducks: THESE TWO got married! Here they are listening to one of the toasts.

In gardening news, the strawberry plant produced its first berry, and it was DELICIOUS. I am looking forward to a summer full of these. Nom nom nom.

Unique-looking clouds above the school at the end of the street.

Neighborhood chickens. One of the little ones is venturesome; believe it or not, there are at least three more chicks under the mama hen. She’s like Mother Ginger in the Nutcracker!

Yet more ultimate frisbee: seven players on the line at Mixed Easterns. Love Handles (my summer club team) did not break seed (to put it kindly), but we had fun and we’ll be ready to clean up (or at least finish in the first half) by the time the summer club tournament comes around in August.

And that’s about it for now: frisbee, weddings, poultry (wooden, plastic, and real), plants, and sky.

What I’ve been reading: The Last Tycoon, F. Scott Fitzgerald; Delirium, Lauren Oliver; Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
What I’ve been listening to: Ocean Eyes, Owl City; Tattoo You, Some Girls, Beggars Banquet, and Voodoo Lounge, The Rolling Stones; Torches, Foster the People

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That Makes Sense

Since moving to the Porter Square area, I’ve been wondering exactly where the dividing line between Cambridge and Somerville is. Briefly I thought that Mass Ave was the dividing line, but quickly realized that wasn’t it (I could have ruled it out immediately on the grounds that it makes sense, and is therefore unlikely). Sure, I could have looked up a map online and figured this out, but before I got around to that, I was walking down Oxford Street (in Cambridge, not to be confused with Oxford Street in Somerville, and that’s another thing, there is zero creativity when it comes to street names – there’s at least one repeat of every name in Cambridge, Somerville, Boston proper, and probably all of the surrounding towns and suburbia as well. Mass(achusetts), Comm(onwealth), Concord, Prospect, Cambridge, Arlington, Highland, Summer/Winter/Spring/Autumn – not Fall, that would be confusing, heaven forbid – the list goes on), and lo and behold…

Smack dab in the middle of Oxford Street. In the middle of a BUILDING. I found another on Somerville Ave.

Because, you know, that makes sense.

What I’ve been reading: Homer & Langley, E.L. Doctorow
What I’ve been listening to: Plans, Death Cab for Cutie; Say I Am You, the Weepies

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Across State Lines

Went on a rather spur-of-the-moment trip to Maine on Saturday, returning ridiculously late Saturday night/Sunday morning. My boyfriend came up from New York for the long weekend, and some of his friends were up in Maine, and what’s another two hours in the car…etc.

The weather was beautiful, and we spent a few hours at the beach – not too much time in the water, to my chagrin (apparently it was “cold”), but lots building sea serpents out of sand, and digging giant holes, and playing bocce.

This is something you cannot easily do on the west coast. That is to say, you can go to the beach and build sand sculptures to your heart’s content, but you cannot drive across two state lines in two hours to do it. And driving to another state for the day is cool.

Welcome to New Hampshire! Live free…OR DIE.

The official Welcome to Maine sign is on the other side of the bridge, but the state line sign is in the middle. (Photo taken safely by the passenger.)

Some Maine scenery:


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Sign Here, Please

TSA allegedly stands for Transportation Security Administration, but I am beginning to wonder if a second, shadow agency – the Totally Screwball Administration, perhaps – is also putting up signs in airports just to mess with people.

The fact that they put up a sign specifically forbidding carry-on snowglobes just makes me wonder, you know? First of all, it’s safe to assume that the ban on liquids over 3 ounces would apply to snowglobes as it does to shampoo, sunscreen, and toothpaste; second, is May really peak snowglobe season? Was this becoming a serious problem?

However, I’d like to state for the record that I recognize the inherent danger of snowglobes – and the water, glitter, and miniature cities and/or fantasy scenes they contain – and I know that this rule is in place solely to protect those who travel by air, and not because a rogue contingent of pranksters within The Somewhat Arbitrary Administration thought it would be funny.

Consider this a public service announcement for those preparing to fly the friendly skies – put that snowglobe in your checked luggage!

This one – credit for this one goes to my mother, who was visibly excited, and who told me that there was a great sign coming up, so I had my camera ready when we passed the George Bush Center for Intelligence. (In all fairness, this sign predates His Righteousfulness George the Second [see July 5, 2006 in the archives] and refers instead to George H.W. Bush.)

It’s still funny.

Baptists – at least the one in charge of the sign in front of this church – have a way of getting their point across: “Honk if u love Jesus – Txt while driving if u want 2 meet him.”

What I’ve been reading: Gone, Baby, Gone, Dennis Lehane; Persuasion, Jane Austen
What I’ve been listening to: Blonde on Blonde, Bob Dylan; Pleased to Meet Me, the Replacements

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Canada On Wheels

Toronto in May is wonderful. It has much to recommend it, and curious signage is only the beginning: there are beautiful gardens, nice beaches (though Lake Ontario is still slightly chilly), great food, decent public transportation, and quite possibly the best coffee in the world.

Of course, I’m going to start with the signs.

In case you were wondering how to tell someone to fasten their seatbelt in French…here you go!

I wish bilingualism was more common in the U.S. So many other countries seem to manage it, why can’t we? Then again, they also manage to teach reading, writing, math, and science such that more than 60% of fourth- and eighth-graders can pass standardized tests at an acceptable level – another goal we can’t seem to reach. Pretty soon they’re going to have to rename it the Leev No Childe Beehynde act. Wait, that looks like Old English by way of The Pretenders. Ugh. Moving on…

Welcome to Canada!

This was an instant favorite, of course: TRAFFIC CALMING ZONE. This message brought to you by a friendly green and orange turtle.

Strictly speaking this is neither a sign nor graffiti, but I wish we had mint lemonade in bottles here. Then again, it’s easy enough to make lemonade and stick a few fresh mint leaves in, if you happen to have a mint plant. (A word to the wise: plant mint in a pot unless you want it to take over your garden like Alexander the Great sweeping across the Persian Empire. It’s that invasive.)

I put this question to you in all seriousness: WHAT? Of COURSE bikes are on wheels! They aren’t much use if they don’t have wheels, are they? (“Why the f— do I want a caravan that’s got no f—in’ wheels?” –Snatch) You wouldn’t have a auto dealership called “Cars on Wheels,” would you? IT MAKES NO SENSE.

Can’t be really upset at them for long though, as they have this chalkboard out front:

Fine, I’ll smile…but I still think your name is silly.

Aww, no love for the birds.

Brooklyn needs about 800 of these.

A nice Alice Walker quote on their sign: “If a book doesn’t make us better, then what on earth is it for?”

I love this. Only in Canada: “This is a natural ice rink area.”

On the streetcar, just like they used to say on the school bus, but a bit more lenient (we weren’t allowed to stick our heads or legs out, either).

Some wonderful graffiti: “think that you might be wrong.” Has the writer just left off the “I”? Or is he (or she) gently nudging the reader to consider alternate viewpoints?

Again, not a sign or graffiti, but pretty cool, and I couldn’t think what other category to file it under…it certainly isn’t a flower. This lives in the aforementioned coffee shop.



Why have a boring old concrete underpass when you can have this?

The “eh” list…with a maple leaf. (Saw this in a branch of the Toronto public library.)

Down near the harbor there were these wavy sidewalks (hard to tell in this picture). Very cool-looking but make walking more dangerous apparently.

For the record, I did not do this, but I totally approve. (You can tell it wasn’t me, because I never write in black if I can avoid it, and that’s not my handwriting. Also I wouldn’t have capitalized the D without capitalizing the rest of the word as well.)

The best for last, my favorite…I just cannot get enough of this sign.

Canada Part II coming soon.

What I’m reading: Slammerkin, Emma Donoghue; Gone, Baby, Gone by Dennis Lehane; This Book is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson
What I’m listening to: Let It Be and Tim, The Replacements

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All These Places Feel Like Home

After a brief hiatus from blogging, I am now reporting live from Massachusetts! Friday, April 23 was my last day of work; some friends organized a goodbye picnic over the weekend, and on Monday I commenced three days of packing. My routine was pretty much the same all three days: wake up, breakfast, pack till lunch, read The Time Traveler’s Wife during lunch (lunch the third day was on the floor, as all the furniture had been dismantled by that point), pack till everyone else got off work.

Three days turned out to be the perfect amount of time to pack everything up. Packing and moving is usually stressful, but I had enough time to go at a steady pace and I didn’t have more than a flicker of panic before I convinced myself that I would not be up till two in the morning the night before moving day, frantically stashing odds and ends into boxes. The soundtrack might have helped; on Day One, I listened to all the Mozart I have, plus Chopin’s Piano Sonata No. 2, plus Mendelssohn’s Reformation symphony and an hour’s worth of Songs Without Words. On Day Two, I started with the Bach cello suites, then segued out of classical territory with The Undertone and then The Kinks. Day Three required a little more energy to get going; I started with Gaslight Anthem and ended with Andrew Norsworthy. And then it was all done!

Here are some photos of packing and the move.

And immediately I digress: but I have to mention that it took about 7 seconds to upload this picture. THREE CHEERS FOR A WORKING INTERNET CONNECTION.

Books were the first to go into boxes. And oh my god there were (are)  so many books. I was surrounded, outnumbered, overmatched, outweighed, overwhelmed. I brought two full bags down to the sidewalk for people to take, and still packed up about 250. At least they are all of a similar size and fit nicely into boxes…

Here’s the beginning of the packing pile. There ended up being ten (10) boxes of books.

Add to that a futon, a bunch of kitchen appliances, and some clothes, and the pile becomes much larger. I wish I could be one of those people who has a backpack, two pairs of jeans, three t-shirts, and a jacket, but I’m just not.

I did get rid of some things, though – like these paper cranes, which were really heavy and took up a lot of space. (Once upon a time, for about half an hour, I knew how to make paper cranes. This is the only remaining evidence.)

On Day Three of packing, I went out in the morning for more packing tape and free Metro newspapers to use for wrapping up glasses and plates.

I have an unnecessary number of coffee mugs. But they are all unique…here’s Alice (“Drink me”), one from the Newberry Library from my first visit to Chicago, one with the London Tube map on it, one from Brussels (a gift), and a Hampshire College mug. Coffee mugs are my one kitchen indulgence; I really don’t have much kitchen stuff that I don’t use regularly.

Kitchen utensils, unlike books, are not conveniently shaped for packing.

Gotta pack creatively.

This pretty blue bud vase has a crack in it, but I packed it up anyway; it was a graduation gift from a friend, and it can still hold dry flowers (which are bad feng shui, apparently, but so is storing things under the bed, so I’m already not doing real well on that front).

Moving Day itself: the empty room.

All clean, swept and mopped.

Ah…one of the best road signs ever. This one, on 95 I think, seems to have a turkey on it; I prefer the one on 84, which has a cardinal. Either way – Massachusetts welcomes you!

And all the drivers on the Mass Pike are ready to run you over.

The U-Haul had a rhinoceros on it. Rhinoceroses are, of course, famous pack animals, internationally renowned for carrying heavy loads. Not.

The truck got the job done, though. And for once, it was perfect moving weather! Not raining, sleeting, or snowing, and not 90 degrees and humid either.

And now I’m here. Tremendously grateful to those who helped with the move, including my new housemates (who informed me yesterday that the nearest place to swim is Walden Pond – Walden Pond!); thankful as well to be back in Massachusetts, and in a town that is so green and quiet and peaceful – a complete 180 from where I was – even if their road signs are designed solely for people who have lived here all their lives and don’t need them anyway.

Regardless of road sign confusion, I’ve jumped right in. I found the town library and town hall; a couple decent radio stations; the grocery store, the drug store, the office supply store; how to get to the end of the red line at Alewife; and a frisbee team to play summer club with!

What I’m reading: The Piano Shop on the Left Bank, Thad Carhart; The Animal Review: The Genius, Mediocrity, and Breathtaking Stupidity That Is Nature, Jake Lentz and Steve Nash
What I’m listening to: Final Straw, Snow Patrol; Moon Safari, Air; Let It Be and Tim, the Replacements; Zen Arcade, Husker Du

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