Thing 2: Luann Carra Gallery

Don’t worry I didn’t forget about my goal of doing 20 things in and around Baltimore in 2020. I thought maybe it would get me out of my February hibernation mode for a change, but it didn’t. February is still dark with gross weather and I was sick for part of it, so I didn’t wind up doing anything new and different in February. I did actually eat at a new restaurant in my neighborhood, but since part of the reason I’m doing this is to get me out of Hampden on occasion I’m not counting it. I do have several things lined up in March though, so I’m getting back into things now that spring is coming.

Last Thursday I went to the Luann Carra Gallery in Fells Point to see my friend’s first solo photography show. I’ve never been to any art galleries in Baltimore. It was fun to go out and support my friend and see all her lovely photographs.

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Thing 1: Brunch at Rye Street Tavern

First in my 20 Things in 2020 was an easy one in that it was going to eat at a new restaurant. I had made plans back in December to get together with some friends for brunch this past weekend. We were trying to figure out somewhere to go, so I was looking at lists of brunch places in Baltimore and stumbled upon Rye Street Tavern. It worked well as a location for us since I was in the city, but everyone else was coming from elsewhere from DC up to Harford County. So Rye Street Tavern’s location right off I-95 made it an easy get to location for us all.

I don’t recall hearing about this restaurant opening although I’m sure it was in the local news when it did. It’s located in the new Port Covington development being spearheaded by the Under Armour folks for their new campus. Eventually it’s seemingly going to be a little city unto itself within Baltimore. Don’t even get me started on my feelings about this development and the tax credits it’s gotten. That’s not what we’re here for.

It wasn’t very busy when we there. At this point it’s a little off the beaten path unless you’re planning on going to the Sagamore Spirits Distillery, which is right next door. So I’m not surprised. It might be busier on weeknights when you have more traffic from the Baltimore Sun or Under Armour employees in the area.

The food was good. I appreciated that they had a nice mix of savory, sweet, breakfast, and more lunch type foods. I am an avowed hater of eggs when they are recognizable as eggs, which makes brunch a tricky meal for me at a lot of restaurants especially if it’s late enough in the day that I am not actually interested in whatever token pancake/waffle/French toast dish they have on their menu is.

We started with their cream donuts with chocolate whisky sauce. They were pretty good, but I’m not sure I would bother ordering them again. I had the pit beef sandwich, which was tasty though not what I would really call a true Baltimore pit beef sandwich. It came with a stupid amount of french fries, which were also pretty tasty. My friends had huevos rancheros, shrimp and grits, and fried chicken and everyone seemed to be pleased with their meal.

It’s definitely more expensive than some places, but I would say on par with or slightly cheaper than other popular Baltimore brunch places like Woodberry Kitchen or The Food Market. I would eat there again.

Stony Run Trail

One of the things I like about Baltimore is that it’s a fairly green city. I know not every part of the city has easy access to green space, but there are a decent number of areas that do. In my little part of the city within a mile or less of my house I can walk to Druid Hill Park, the Jones Falls trail, or the Stony Run Trail.

The Stony Run Trail, which is the focus of this post is a short little trail that runs along the Stony Run. The trail part is only about a mile long from end to end, though I gather there’s a walking path that goes almost all the way up to Northern Parkway. I’ve never gotten farther than Coldspring Lane, so I’m not quite sure how it travels north of there even though I’ve looked at the online map a number of times. Someday I’ll do the whole thing. For now I’m just enjoying the trail.

Even though it’s short, it’s a very peaceful respite in the middle of the city. It’s very calming to be surrounded by the trees and walking along the water. I am a bit disturbed by how many people I see let their dogs run into that water though. It is for sure polluted. Please don’t let your dog (or god forbid your kids) go in that water. It’s pretty to look at though.

It’s about 3 miles for me to walk the trail from one end to the other and back again and add in the walk from my house to the nearest trail head. It makes for a nice bit of afternoon exercise.  Soon I’ll be relegated to the gym for the winter because it will be too dark (and soon after that too cold) for me to walk on the trail or outside after I get home from work once the time changes. I’m enjoying the trail as much as I can until I get to that point and then I’ll be counting the days until spring.

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Ida B’s Table

This past weekend marked the second anniversary of Ida B’s Table, a modern soul food restaurant in downtown Baltimore. It’s named after Ida B. Wells, famous black journalist of the late 1800s and early 1900s. It’s actually owned by a news operation called The Real News Network. The menu is divided into sections based on newspaper sections like features, op-eds, and by-lines.

I actually still have yet to get there for dinner, but I’ve been there for brunch many times. My friend and I have season tickets to Center Stage on Sunday afternoons and we take turns going to lunch beforehand at Ida B’s and Iggie’s Pizza. The food at Ida B’s is delicious. I pretty much always get the chicken and waffles, but sometimes I branch out and get the fried chicken dinner. Maybe one day I’ll try something that doesn’t involve friend chicken, but probably not.

The chef David Thomas won the episode of Chopped he was on last year. I haven’t participated in anything yet, but I also appreciates that he holds special events and dinners to teach about the history of Africans, African-Americans, and food. He did a series early this year on the African diaspora and did something recently for the 1619 anniversary of the first slaves being brought to America.

What I really enjoy about Ida B’s Table though is that it far beyond any other place I go in Baltimore actually feels like what Baltimore should be. Baltimore is an incredibly segregated city. There aren’t many places where black and white people mix to any real degree. In a city that’s 63% black and 30% white I can’t think of any other place I go that actually represents that breakdown. Most places I wind up going are majority white with maybe a small percentage of non-white people and when I’ve gone to places in black neighborhoods I’m part of the small percentage of white people. More places should be like Ida B’s Table and bring the rich tapestry of the people in this city together rather than separating them. Hopefully Ida B’s Table has many more years ahead of it.

 

Fun with Flags

So I’m guessing no one thought my first post about Baltimore would be a random post about flags, and not even the Maryland flag which is a pretty cool flag that we love to put on everything. I can tell you what you’re going to get in at least the first month of these posts are a lot of little things that I’ve noticed and that make me happy. It’s important to enjoy the simple things, and I’m trying to be better at doing that. Plus over the many years I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve already written about a lot of the big things about Baltimore that people might actually expect me to be writing about. I’m sure I’ll write about some this eventually, but don’t expect to get a bunch of posts about things to do in the city. You can go search my archives for that.

What I’m writing about today is my neighbor’s flags. Someone who lives near me has a flagpole that they constantly change the flag on. I first really noticed the flags changing on a consistent basis a couple of years ago during the Men’s World Cup. He (I’m making an assumption it’s a he, though I don’t really know who lives there) started changing the flag to whatever country he was rooting for.

Sometimes I’m able to figure out what the flags are and sometimes I’m not. Sometimes it’s hard to see what the flag is because there’s not enough wind to make it unfurled. Sometimes it’s obvious like this past June when he had the rainbow flag and the trans flag flying for Pride month. The title of this post is a reference to the YouTube show called “Fun with Flags” that the character Sheldon on the Big Bang Theory has. Whenever I can’t figure out what a flag is I joke that I need to watch “Fun with Flags”. For flags I don’t know I’ve made the assumption that they have something to do with soccer teams so I’m guessing that Sheldon actually wouldn’t be able to help me either.

Sometimes I’m able to get a good enough look at the flag and can Google what it is based on a description of it. Recently he had the Tennessee state flag flying for some reason, which I was able to find out through Google since I don’t know all the state flags.

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Right now he has flags for the New Orleans Saints and the New England Revolution soccer team. It took me forever to confirm that New Orleans Saints flag. I felt like a very terrible librarian because I couldn’t figure it out. I spent a really long time searching for that one and couldn’t figure it out. I tried again yesterday after I saw someone else a few block away with the same flag flying when I was out on my walk. I still couldn’t locate it based on any efforts at describing what it looked like. I finally based on timing, the fact that multiple people were flying it, and what I know about the Saints that it might be a Saints flag, so I Googled New Orleans Saints flags and after a bit of scrolling did eventually find that flag. So mystery solved there.

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Baltimore: Actually I Like It

I started this blog years ago to try and be mindful about the good things in life. I have obviously gotten very bad at posting about anything other than music. Music is still something that makes me extremely happy, so I don’t feel bad about those posts. I would just like to try and get into a better habit of posting about other things. Part of the reason why I am better about writing about music is that I have some set music related things I post about like New Music Fridays and reviews of all the concerts I go to. I don’t have that routine for anything else.

After about 6 months of not really being able to exercise due to various issues, I was finally able to start getting back into my daily walks this summer. As I’ve been out walking I’ve been trying to be more mindful about what’s around me and have thought of multiple things that would make great posts, but as is often the case I never take the time to sit down and actually write about them. I even have pictures for three blog posts that I’ve never written.

Then last week one of my friends wrote about how her love for Baltimore has grown as she walks around, pays attention, and takes photos of it. It sort of inspired me to finally do something with all these posts I write in my head but never put down on “paper”. So I’m going to try and start a fairly regular series in which I write about the things both big and small that I love about Baltimore.

There’s no denying that Baltimore is a hard city with a lot of problems, but it also has a lot of really wonderful things. At some point in the last year my husband and I watched an episode of Samantha Brown’s Places to Love featuring Baltimore. After watching it I was like wow that does remind me that Baltimore is a great place. My husband replied something to the effect of that’s the thing about Baltimore. All the bad stuff is true, but all the good stuff is too.

It’s so very easy, especially these days, to let the bad outweigh the good. Baltimore has always had it’s issues, but the past three to four years have been especially brutal and the tide does not seem to be turning. It’s for sure the worst it’s been in the 19 years I’ve lived here. It’s easy to look at everything that’s wrong and feel hopeless and forget about all the things that make this city great. Hopefully these forthcoming posts will be a reminder to myself and to others that there are great things about Baltimore and that it’s worth fighting for.

Charm Kitty Cafe

Last night I went with two friends to check out Charm Kitty Cafe, the new cat cafe, that just opened in Baltimore a couple of weeks ago. Perhaps the best thing about it is the name. If you’re not aware, one of Baltimore’s nicknames is Charm City, so I’m a huge fan of the clever play on that to call the place Charm Kitty Cafe. I’ve never been to any other cat cafes so I don’t know if the way this one works is comparable to others. It’s not so much of a cafe as a place to go hang out with some cats. You can get a cookie or a cup of coffee, green tea, or hot chocolate, but that’s it.

You have to make a reservation to go. It’s $10 on weekdays or $12 on weekends for 70 minutes with the cats. They get the cats from the local SPCA, so all the cats are 100% adoptable. Most of them were super sweet either letting you play with them or pet them a lot. There were two that were not really interested in anyone at least by the time we were there, which was the last session of the day.

My only complaints were that they didn’t have enough toys that you could actively engage the cats with and the kids. There were plenty of toys around that were more like things that cats would chase on their own like the little toy mice or balls, but there was only one dangly feather thing for humans to really use with the cats. That seems very short-sighted. Also having kids there was not great. They allow kids over the age of seven. There was one family with 2 while we were there. They were probably both under 10 years old. It’s a nice treat for them because apparently their father is allergic so they can’t have pets of their own, but also they were kids so they were doing what kids do with animals. They were chasing them around and being more aggressive than the cats really liked, thus making it less than ideal for everyone else there trying to interact with the cats. They left from the session early, so we did happily get some time with things being more chill.

It’s not somewhere I’d probably go on a super frequent basis, especially since I have a sweet, adorable cat at home, but I would definitely go back again at some point.

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