More Than Meh

A blog about the good things of life.

Outdoors, Friends, Fun: AKA Summer is the Best June 5, 2017

Filed under: Baltimore,Friends,Life — dwhren @ 7:51 am

After a terribly cool, grey, and rainy spring we seem to have finally turned somewhat of a corner and are getting some warmer sunnier weather (of course as I write this it’s supposed to rain and be cooler this week) at least for the past week. It’s been wonderful and has done wonders to improve my mood. Life is just so much more pleasant when the weather is nice enough to do things outside.

The previous weekend there was a 30th birthday party for one of my friends. We got to sit outside on a lovely screened porch and enjoy a firepit out on the patio. I love sitting around a firepit on a summer night.

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The following night one of my friends from college got married at The Elm, which is an event space a few blocks from my house. I was always kind of curious about it, so I’m glad they got married there so I could finally check it out. It was rainy off and on earlier in the day, but it cleared up just in time for them to have their ceremony outside as planned. It was a lovely wedding, and I enjoyed getting to walk there and back. I don’t think I’ll ever go to a wedding closer to the place I’m living than this one.

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On Thursday one of my coworkers and I finally got to try blacksauce kitchen for lunch. I’m a long time lover of their food from the farmers markets and festivals, but I hadn’t yet managed to make it over to the storefront they opened a few months ago. It’s only opened on Thursdays for now and it’s carry out only, so we were waiting for a Thursday when we were both free and the weather was nice enough for us to eat outside. We took our delicious food (blacksauce never disappoints) and ate it on a bench in Sherwood Gardens. It was perfect, at least until the part where we had to go back to work.

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This past Saturday I went down to Georgetown to meet another friend from college who was there for work. We had brunch outside and then wandered around Georgetown for awhile. It was great to catch up with her, and it was nice to walk around Georgetown. It’s been a really long time since I’d been there.

Yesterday my church held its service followed by a potluck brunch outside at the pavilion at the Baltimore Museum of Industry. Last year the school that we normally meet at had a water main break and some enterprising person managed to think of and snag the BMI pavilion for our service instead. It worked out so well they decided to do it once every summer. The weather was perfect for it this morning, and it was lovely to sit out and stare at the water and the boats.

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I didn’t get all my steps in earlier in the day, so we went for a walk after dinner. I love that it’s still light enough at 7:30 to go out for a walk. It’s a billion times better than when it gets dark hours earlier in the winter. Everything in this post is why summer is better than winter and why I love it so much.

 

Baltimore: The Rise of Charm City March 20, 2017

Filed under: Baltimore,Podcasts — dwhren @ 8:59 pm

Remember how I keep saying I already have too many podcasts to listen to and I can’t keep up, but that I couldn’t resist listening to another one? Well you can add one more podcast to that list because I am now in love with Baltimore: The Rise of Charm City, which just started its second season. It airs locally on public radio station WEAA every other Friday, but then like many radio shows these days is available in podcast form which is how I’m listening to it. It’s part of a documentary radio series called Finding America produced by AIR and funded in part by the Corporation of Public Broadcasting (insert something here about why funding for public media is important).

Host Stacia Brown provides an oral history of Baltimore institutions and places via interviews with people involved with them. It provides a look at some of the things that make Baltimore truly great and the history behind them, but she does not sugarcoat anything. The problems of the city both historically and at present are incorporated into the stories. She’s done stories on things like Shake & Bake Family Fun Center, the Great Blacks in Wax Museum, Druid Hill Park, and my own neighborhood Hampden, which is obviously a favorite episode of mine. Episodes are under 30 minutes and there’s only 14 of the at this point, so you can very easily catch up. I highly recommend doing so. I somehow missed that this existed until 2 weeks ago when someone who is not even from Baltimore recommended it on Twitter, so don’t think you need to be from Baltimore to enjoy this. Obviously Baltimoreans will have a different appreciation for it, but anyone who is interested in cities and people should enjoy it. Go give it a listen.

 

Out of the Blocks December 22, 2016

Filed under: Baltimore,Podcasts — dwhren @ 8:41 pm

I have failed you dear reader. In starting think about what will be filling up the categories in my annual year end best of pop culture post, I realized that I never wrote up a post  (spoiler!) on my favorite podcast of the year, Out of the Blocks. I thought about it several times, but I guess always when I wasn’t in the mood to write or when I didn’t have time to write and it just never happened. But now that I’ve rectified the error of my ways you can download all the season one episodes for your listening enjoyment over your holiday travels.

Out of the Blocks is a radio show played on WYPR, Baltimore’s NPR station and then made available as a podcast. The show is produced by Aaron Henkin with music by Wendel Patrick. The show is exactly what its tagline implies: One hour of radio, one city block, everybody’s story. Henkin and Patrick choose one block in Baltimore and spend time there recording interviews with everyone associated with it. Depending on the block that can include people who work at businesses on the block, people who frequent the businesses, people who live on the block, or just people who hang out on that block for whatever reason including homeless people and drug dealers. All the interviews are then edited down for the hour-long show with each person’s story I would say averaging about five minutes.

Wendel Patrick composes the music based on the interviews often incorporating the sounds from the businesses or the street into the music. For instance in coffee shops you may hear the coffee brewing as part of the music or hear the buzz of electric razors in barber shops. They’re wonderful compositions that really enhance the stories that are being told and bringing about a sense of place to the pieces.

It truly amazes me the stories that come out of some of the people even after spending such a short time with Aaron Henkin. He really gets them to open up about some very personal things. People really just want to be heard and to tell their stories. It’s so fascinating.

Each block that they visit has it’s own personality and there are so many stories of immigrants and people just trying to make their way in a city that can be very hard. I know Baltimore like any big city has immigrants, but I really never realized how many places people are coming from until I listened to these eight podcast episodes. There are also some really sweet and amazing stories shared by people. I definitely cried more than once listening to this podcast.

I live in Baltimore, so obviously I feel some connection to the blocks in the podcast but I don’t think you need to know Baltimore in order to love this podcast. It’s really about humanity. It could be recorded in any city. It just happens to be recorded in Baltimore. I can’t recommend this podcast highly enough. I am so happy there’s going to be a second season in 2017.

 

The Best Possible Break-in November 27, 2016

Filed under: Baltimore,Uncategorized — dwhren @ 9:38 am

The Tuesday before Thanksgiving while we were out of town visiting family our house got broken into. Obviously this isn’t something that really makes me happy, but if my house had to get broken into I’m happy for how it went down. He apparently forced open the window next to our back door and let himself in. It actually was for the best that this happened while we were out of town. Normally on a Tuesday morning my husband would have been home working in our basement. Who knows what would have happened if he had come upstairs when he heard someone walking about?

Also because we were out of town all the stuff I think the guy was hoping to take in a quick snatch and grab wasn’t here. We both had our laptops, cell phones, and iPads with us as well as our wallets of course. Although we of course have lots of stuff I suspect much of it doesn’t have good street resale value aside from the stuff that we had taken with us. He didn’t even bother with our tv I suspect because of its size.

He also didn’t seem to go upstairs at all. All of our bedroom doors were still closed and none of the drawers were opened. I don’t have a lot of it, but the jewelry I do own was thankfully all still there. The only thing we could find missing once we got home was our spare house and car keys. Again thankfully my car was still there. Once my husband noticed those were gone I was worried he stole my car, but we went outside and it was still parked on the street where I left it. It didn’t even seem like he got into it at all, which is surprising given that it was actually parked very close to our house for a change and would have been easy to find by clicking the alarm on the key fob. I park on the street, so I never keep anything of value in my car not even loose change, so he wasn’t going to find anything there even if he did look. Perhaps the fact that I drive a manual transmission kept him from being able to actually take the car itself, or maybe he found the street in front of our house too crowded to be able to do anything with the car. I don’t know, but I’m glad it was still there.

Also it’s lucky that he left the back door open when he left. The cat thankfully didn’t run away even though the door was open all day long, but it alerted our friend who was watching our cat for us that someone had been in the house. So little was touched or taken that had that door not been open it might have been quite some time before we realized that someone had broken in and taken our keys and broken the lock on our window.

It feels super creepy that someone out there has keys to our car and house, but most of that is fixable. We’ve already replaced the locks on the house and replaced the broken lock on the window. Apparently the window lock wasn’t super great, which in some respects seems bad but in other ways is good because it means he didn’t break the glass in the window like he did to the house next door. I obviously can’t do much about the fact that he has my car key other than to hope he never decides to come back for it. You can’t really change your car locks like you can the ones on your house.

At any rate if the only thing we have to do is replace our locks and the stupidly expensive car keys, then we got off pretty easy. Maybe there’s someone more we haven’t realized is missing yet, but really if there is it’s just stuff. Most importantly we weren’t home and are safe, our friend didn’t come over to feed the cat and surprise him in the process, and our cat is still here. I hope we never have to go through this again, but I’m happy that since we did it was such a minimal issue. It could have been a lot worse.

 

Maryland Fleet Week October 17, 2016

Filed under: Baltimore — dwhren @ 7:54 am

Starting in 2012 Baltimore started a big celebration featuring a lot of ships in our harbors and performances by the Blue Angels. Back then it was for the anniversary of the War of 1812. Two years later they did it again in 2014 for the end of the War of 1812. Now they’ve decided it was such a great success as part of the War of 1812 anniversary that they’re going to keep doing it every 2 years but branded as Maryland Fleet Week.

We went to it back in 2012 and 2014 and enjoyed it so we decided we go again this year. Happily we had a beautiful weather this weekend, so it as a great day to be outdoors. Since I go to church in Federal Hill, which is the neighborhood just south of the Inner Harbor where the ships were, my husband who normally doesn’t go accompanied me to church so that we could just stay parked there and walk over the festivities.

We started by grabbing lunch in the little beer garden they had set up. It actually had a nice selection of food by local restaurants and some local food trucks. We wound up splitting a pizza cooked in a mobile brick wood fired oven, which I thought was interesting. Usually at these things when live bands play I hate the music and it’s too loud, but for the time we were there it was the perfect volume and it was a bluegrass band, so I was happy.

There were not nearly as many ships this time as there had been in the past. The one docked in the Inner Harbor had a line a mile long when we walked by so we by-passed it completely. We had thought about walking over to the one in Fells Point, but had seen on the news that it got called away to do whatever it actually is in service for so had to leave early. We wound up walking over to Pier 5 where the USS Carson City was docked. It’s a fairly new Navy ship that looks sort of like a giant aluminum catamaran. It took longer than I thought to go through the ship, but it mostly worked out since we had a lot of time before the Blue Angels. We had to go through security first and then had to wait in a long line to get on the ship. They actually did guided tours and by the time we finally got off I was ready to be done. Our tour guide was chatty and several people in our group kept asking questions. We got by-passed by two other groups in areas where multiple groups could gather and got told to hurry up and move along in at least three places where only one group could be at a time. I was definitely getting a little anxious by the time we got off.

Because we were on the ship we missed most of the flying by whatever fighter jets were flying early in the afternoon, but I did see some crazy dives that were making me nauseous just watching them. Our main goal of the outing was to see the Blue Angels. We sat on the side of Federal Hill to watch them in a nice shady area on the grass. It turns out there was a tree in our way for some of it, but for the most part we had a pretty good view. It was amazing to watch as always. I honestly have no idea how they do that. There were definitely a few points where I almost wanted to cover my eyes because I was afraid they were going to run into each other. Obviously they didn’t or you would have heard about it all over the news. As always it was an amazing sight to see (and hear).

 

Fun-Filled Weekend June 14, 2016

Filed under: Baltimore,Concerts,Friends,Music — dwhren @ 10:38 pm

I had a very full, but fun weekend this past weekend. It was so full that I even turned down a ticket to go see Flight of the Concords at Wolf Trap on Monday. I knew I was going to need to take Monday night as down time, and you guys know how much I love Wolf Trap.

This weekend was HonFest, which is one of the two big street festivals in my neighborhood every year. It’s my least favorite of the two festivals, but if I’m around it’s too close not to go to at least for a little while. We pretty much just walked around for a little bit and I got a fresh squeezed lemonade, which is my favorite thing about street festivals. You can’t beat that mound of sugar at the bottom of the cup. We also got to peek inside the Five and Dime Alehouse which is set to open in September.

Later that afternoon we headed out to the ‘burbs to celebrate a 2 year old’s birthday. It was just a small get together, which was nice. We bbq’d with some friends and played with their kids for awhile. Even though it was a little on the warm side it actually turned out to be a fairly decent day to be outside and was especially so once the sun started going down. After all the kids that didn’t live there had left some adults were still hanging out when our friends’ 4 year old son said to me you know the party is over don’t you. It is still cracking me up. He figured since all his friends were gone that we should leave too. It was a very nice evening.

Sunday morning I headed down to DC to meet up with some friends for brunch. Since Alison is always trekking up to Baltimore for stuff we decided we should probably head down to her in DC for a change. After brunch we walked around a bit and got some gelato for dessert. Then to get out of the heat we decided to wander around the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery and Museum of American Art, which was right near where we were. I hadn’t been in that particular museum when I was a kid, so it was nice to check out a small portion of it.

I capped the weekend off seeing Chvrches in concert at Rams Head Live with some other friends. I have a lot of awesome friends y’all. I’m still slightly confused by this concert, but very happy it happened. It was weird because the concert was only announced a couple of weeks ago, and then there was no opening act. I don’t remember the last time I went to a concert that wasn’t a huge name like Bruce Springsteen or Fleetwood Mac who both played for over 3 hours that didn’t have an opening act. Chvrches certainly played for much shorter than that. I’ve been pretty lucky at standing room only shows being able to see, but this concert not so much. If I stood in a very specific way I could see a small slice of the stage. I think some of the people I was with didn’t even get that. As always it was a really fun show anyway. I love Lauren Mayberry so much. I just want to put her in my pocket and carry her around with me. Chvrches is also at what I always consider to be the best part of their career in terms of live shows because with 2 albums out they have enough material to play a whole set of their music, but it also means they’re pretty much guaranteed to play whatever songs you want to hear no matter what.

It was a fun-filled weekend, but I’m pretty sure I needed another weekend with a lot more downtime to recover from it.

 

Visit from My Nieces June 1, 2016

Filed under: Baltimore,Family — dwhren @ 10:17 am

My sister, brother-in-law, and nieces came out from Arizona to visit for the long weekend. It was the first time they’ve been out here in 4 and a half years. My youngest niece was in utero the last time they were here. I get why it makes sense for us to go out there more frequently than they come here, but it was nice to have them come out here to visit for a change.

They got here on Saturday in the early evening. We walked over to one of the nearby parks. My eldest niece is very keen on the monkey bars right now. I could never really do the monkey bars very well, so I’m very impressed by her monkey bar prowess. The girls were also very excited to meet Tux, the stuffed penguin we always play with over Facetime, in person.

Sunday morning we down to the Inner Harbor and went on the Sea Dog boat ride. My eldest niece saw boats from the plane when they were flying in and said she wanted to go on a boat ride. It’s too bad the Urban Pirates cruise was sold out because I think they both would have loved that. As it was the eldest niece loved the ride and thought it was hysterical when I got completely soaking wet from a big splash, but the 4 year old was not keen on it at all. There were definitely some tears. It was too fast and too loud for her. After the boat ride we went on the carousel, which was much more her speed.

We went to Bo Brooks for lunch because my brother-in-law wanted crabs, but then we got there and they were out of crabs. A crab cake had to do. It was nice to sit outside on their patio anyway. After lunch we came back to my neighborhood and hit up a different playground. My eldest niece was not a fan because it did not have good monkey bars for her. We of course had to get some ice cream from The Charmery while they were here, so we did that after the playground. All the activity must have worn the girls out because the 4 year old fell asleep around 6, which is 3 their time, and wouldn’t wake back up.

Monday we went to the Orioles-Red Sox game. My brother-in-law’s sister lives in Northern Virginia so she came up with a friend to meet us for the game. They’re all from Boston and thus are Red Sox fans, so it worked out that the Red Sox were in town the weekend they were here. It was rather hot and humid at the beginning of the game, but at least we had club level seats so we could take the kids inside from some AC every once in awhile. It also happily didn’t rain like was in the forecast for several days leading up to the game. My youngest niece told me her favorite part of the weekend was the popcorn she ate at the ball game, so I guess she enjoyed it more than the boat ride. The Orioles lost so I was sad, but they were all happy.

We had originally planned to go to the aquarium on Tuesday morning, but my sister decided she didn’t want to spend that much money. We entertained going to the zoo instead, but after 2 hot days out in the sun my sister decided an inside activity would be better. We settled on Port Discovery, which is the children’s museum, instead. We got warned on our way in that they were expecting 350 school kids shortly, so we tried to do everything we could before the place was inundated. It didn’t turn out too bad. We probably didn’t stay quite as long as we would otherwise, but we mostly managed to hit everything before it got too crazy. After leaving the kid’s museum we hit what my niece had deemed the good park one more time so she could the monkey bars before they left for the airport.

It was a really fun weekend and I’m really glad they came. Hopefully it won’t be another 4 years before they make it out to visit again.

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