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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Buddy, You Can Spare the Change…

Valley N.E.The world is in a state of constant flux.


We have lived on our spare acre for forty years. Some years ago a property behind us changed hands, a property that had changed hands twice before that. The new owner immediately set about fencing the boundaries of his property. Fences have their places, I guess—especially if one has critters that tend to wander. In this case, however, the “stock” was nursery stock—no invasive species that I know of—not likely to stray to greener pastures, feast on my sweet corn. Three years ago I noticed an orange jacketed fellow clambering over the new fence. Turned out it was a surveyor employed by the new landowner to rectify errors in original surveys, establish new property lines. A couple months later I answered a knock at the door, opened it to the new proprietor of the property west, requesting compensation for what he termed was now “his property.” Things have a way of working themselves out, and the point of this incident is to address the subject of change, the fact that there is no stasis; everywhere around us change is afoot, grinding away at our fragile sense of well-being…another shoe just waiting to drop.

Change. I think of my grandfather, Iron Mike, an immigrant to the Land of the Free from Czechoslovakia. I have an old black and white photo of Grandpa Mike and Grandma Mary seated side by side high up on a freight wagon, Grandpa at the head of a team of horses hauling freight somewhere in the vicinity of Chitina, Alaska . My grandfather was born in the Old Country in 1883. He passed in 1972 at the age of 89 in Seattle, thousands of miles from his native land.

Change. I think of Grandpa Mike’s lifespan and the milestone events he lived to see: humans walking on the moon, manned flight, both propeller and jet, diesel freight trains (in his life beyond Alaska Mike was a railroad man but in the heyday of the steam locomotive), radio, television (the Friday night fights and  pro wrestling, two of Grandpa’s favorites), the internal combustion engine…and two great World Wars.

While Darwin was a proponent of change and made it his life’s work, I’m certain there must have been some changes in his lifetime that irked and grated on him. Change… too conveniently it’s written off as “Progress,” a verbal sleight-of-hand that gives carte blanche to changing the status quo. Set in one’s ways and change are arch enemies, foes, glare at each other from opposite corners of the ring. Golden spring

Change. It throws up fences against our daily lives, our routines, forces us to seek detours, seething all the while; it’s the little things that whittle away at our peace, abrade our sense of well-being. I think of the small community I moved to forty-five years ago and how change (masquerading as progress) has blighted the community. Every day, it seems, there’s another street torn up, another hole in the ground, one more “Proposed Land Use” action sign on a bare lot, one more stoplight and one more extra car in front of you. If it’s not a new stoplight that’s put your life on hiatus, you’re stopped at a railroad crossing waiting for one hundred plus graffitied railcars to creep by. Change/progress…and the entire traffic flow gridlocks. As things now stand, I figure one has a three hour window of time to run errands in the metropolis proper before things get really crazy. I can state for a fact it takes an extra fifteen minutes just to get outta town these days.

Change. Maybe it’s creeping old age that makes change so abrasive (as if the aging process isn’t change enough), the fact these diversions, these roadblocks, these thorns in the side intrude on one’s daily routine, force detours, create snares and pitfalls of readjustment. A health care provider retires or moves, your doctor or dentist, and the next thing you know, some strange person is poking and prodding you, new fingers up close and personal with your anatomy. New neighbors move in, interpersonal relationships of necessity shift again….

Yes, change is in the wind. And it’s an ill breeze that blows. Just today I learned our sage city council and chamber of commerce in conjunction with a project to address storm water issues have also decided to address parking in the “business section” of town: the two blocks between Blakely and Ferry Streets. The new arrangement would revert to parallel parking on the south side of the two streets (as in the olden days in Monroe) and will cost the city 1.1 million dollars (now there’s a chunk of “change”). On the north side of the Blakely/Ferry blocks diagonal parking would remain the same. Sidewalks on the north side would be expanded five feet, increasing the width to fifteen feet. According to our progressively-minded city government the extra space could be used for restaurant outdoor dining ( in our climate?) and outdoor space for merchants to display their wares. (The Ripple can’t wait for The Lovers Boutique to air their skimpy lingerie on the new, expansive sidewalk). City leaders hope the new two block “promenade”will encourage Monroe visitors to stay longer. “We need more money coming into downtown,” the Chamber of Commerce director said…this from a city government that two years ago directed commerce north of Main Street by selling its bond-strapped property to Walmart. Change will begin April 20 with the entire metamorphosis slated for completion sometime this August. Gird your loins for four months of Fair Days Parade in downtown Monroe.Them's purty

And speaking of change, our city government is mulling over  changing the duration of parking time in its soon to be reduced parking spaces. You heard it first here: The Ripple predicts parking meters, those mushrooms of revenue, are destined to sprout along Main Street. Change. You’ll soon need it. Better save yours….

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  1. Oh Dad, I'm sure they'll also be offering the QR code pay by phone option. Some people don't even carry change, can you believe it?! ;)

  2. Hey, there you are. Re: high tech revenue collection for parking. Your hometown is a bit behind the times. I'm expecting a rusty tin can lashed to a post. Just drop your coins (IOU's) in the slot and head for Lovers' Boutique. Thanks for the comment...finally. TMJ (Dad)

  3. Ugh meters in Monroe? I sure hope not! I had heard some rumors about parallel parking but hadn't heard the reasons for it. Oh joy I can't wait. :p

  4. And consider those less adept at parallel parking backing up traffic, especially at peak hours. Then along comes a BNSF oil train 130 cars long. We locals better take a good book along whenever we head uptown. Thanks for the comment, Paula. TMJ