Visit from My Nieces

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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Enjoying the Good Times

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the minutia and stresses of life and not really take time to stop and smell the roses as it were, but this weekend offered some great times for me to think about the blessings in my life and be thankful for them.

As anyone around these parts knows we have been stuck in some awful weather pattern where it has been cold and rainy for weeks on end. Friday we finally had a nice sunny, spring day and it just made everything so much better. I got to get outside for a walk in the park. We got to dine outside at a restaurant in our neighborhood, and then I got to come home and bake a cake while listening to some James Taylor which really fit my weather mood. It was a simple, lovely evening and I very much savored it as it was happening.

Saturday we held our annual Preakness party. Despite the return of the gross rain it was a fun day with friends. We got to enjoy tiny babies, and bigger babies, toddlers, and pre-schoolers running around our house. I am still endlessly amused by the fact that even more exciting than the fun animal cups and toys we had for them was the bowl of potatoes they found and played with. Next year we’ll just give them a bunch of produce to play with. I also finally managed to draw the winning horse in our pool, so I had a little extra money in my pocket at the end of the night too.

Sunday I got to head out to horse country for a baby shower for a friend (still in the rain, it never ends I tell you). I could never live out there myself, but it’s nice to escape the city every once in awhile and get out into the wilds of Maryland. That’s one nice thing about Baltimore is it doesn’t take very long to get out into some still very rural seeming places. We had a wonderful afternoon celebrating the impending arrival of what will be a very loved baby boy.

The weekend was a good reminder that my life is pretty good sometimes and filled with lots of wonderful friends and beautiful moments that I should pay more attention to and cherish.

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Part of our Preakness cocktail set-up. This year with fun cups for the kids.
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Part of our Preakness cocktail set-up. This year with fun cups for the kids.
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Part of our Preakness cocktail set-up. This year with fun cups for the kids.
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Part of our Preakness cocktail set-up. This year with fun cups for the kids.
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Part of our Preakness cocktail set-up. This year with fun cups for the kids.

The Baltimore Book Thing

Baltimore has many great things and one of those is the Book Thing. They are literally just a giant book exchange open on weekends. People can donate books and then anyone can go in and take as many books as they want. I know a number of teachers who go in and cull their shelves to fill bookshelves in their classrooms. Honestly I always have more books than I need in my house so I’ve never actually brought anything home, but I have certainly donated trunk loads full of books. The piles of books I bring home from librarian conferences always eventually make their way there. I’m always seeing people wondering where they can donate used books, and I always feel a little sad that wherever they live doesn’t have the Book Thing.

Sadly this past week there was a fire at the Book Thing. Needless to say fire, smoke, and water don’t mix with books or buildings for that matter. They opened up this weekend to help clean out some of the books that were salvageable, but after that they’ll be closed for the foreseeable future as they work on rebuilding. I’m really happy to hear that they plan on rebuilding as something like this could very easily just feel like they need to pack it in. I donated some money to their PayPal account to help out. If you’re in Baltimore (or even if you’re not) I encourage you to help them out. I look forward to their eventual return.

Duckpin Bowling with ACRL MD

Last night I went duckpin bowling with some fellow librarians. ACRL MD is the academic libraries division of the Maryland Library Association. We try to host a happy hour or some sort of social event a few times per year. This time we rented a few lanes at a duckpin bowling alley.

If you’re not familiar with duckpin bowling, which I’m guessing you’re not if you don’t live in Maryland, the pins look like regular bowling pins except they are smaller. The balls are also smaller. Probably a little larger than a softball. You can hold them in one hand they don’t have finger holes in them like a regular bowling ball. Because everything is smaller than normal you get three rolls per frame instead of just two. Even then it’s still harder than regular bowling. Given that and the fact that I’m a pitiful bowler I was pretty pleased with my 78.

This bowling alley was real old school as most of the duckpin alleys tend to be. There was no electronic scoring and you had to hit the reset buttons yourself between every roll. Nothing happened automatically. It was almost surprising they didn’t have to have someone back behind the lane resetting the pins. That was about the only automated thing about the place. I’m glad someone else was keeping score. I know how, but I much prefer when it’s done automatically for me.

It was a fun night out. Hopefully we’ll do it again in the future. 2016-02-19 18.30.35

Crazy Busy Snow Make-Up Weekend

The record snowfall in Baltimore two weekends ago meant that everything I had planned for that weekend got canceled and then most of it rescheduled for this past weekend. Adding all of that on top of what I already had planned for the weekend resulted in a crazy busy Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday afternoon my friend Alison and I went to see Centerstage’s production of “As You Like It”. It’s sort of a modern retelling. The part of the play set at court is almost a futuristic, post-apocalytic seeming setting. The part set in the Forest of Arden is more like 1960s hippie. The cast is composed entirely of women. It mostly works. As is often the case unless it’s being performed by professional Shakespearean actors you wind up with some people who are able to pull it off better than others. This production was no different. It’s neither the best nor worst Shakespeare I have ever seen.

Not too long after we got back from that we headed to our friend Bill’s 40th birthday party. They catered the party from a local Indian restaurant. It was delicious, but I ate way too much. I guess it’s a good thing that we caught a ride home before the birthday pie came out. I’m glad they had such a good turn out despite having to reschedule last minute. Happy birthday Bill!

Sunday afternoon Paul and I went to the rescheduled Garth Brooks concert. I’m going to save that and write more about it in a separate post later this week. We already had tickets to see Phantom of the Opera on Sunday night. Luckily the venues are only a few block apart so we were able to leave the Garth concert, grab a really quick dinner at Panera Bread and then head to the theatre.

I first saw Phantom of the Opera when I was a kid in Boston. I went with some friends for one of our 14th birthdays. It also happens to be the first cast recording I ever owned. Despite all that it’s not one of my favorite shows. I like it well enough, but it’s nothing I’ve ever been inspired to see again. This season however it was part of our season ticket package. I knew that it had undergone a production redesign so I was curious to see it.

I wasn’t really expecting it but I have to admit that I got really giddy as soon as the Overture started. It turns out I still know that show really well from all the time spent listening to the cast recording as a teenager and it got to me. I can’t say I super remember the original production from back when I saw it *cough* 23 *cough* years ago, but at least based on my limited memory it seemed quite different. I think they did a really good job with it, and I thought all the revamped sets were great. I was shocked by how many people in the audience seemed surprised by the chandelier falling at the end of Act I. I thought that was pretty common knowledge about the show, but I guess even after all these years some people don’t know. It’s still not a show I’m very excited by and nothing I’m going to go out of my way to see again, but I’m glad I saw it and got to see what they’ve done with it.

Blizzard 2016

Sorry I’ve been a bit absent from the blog lately. I’ve been traveling a lot and too tired from work to think about blogging when I get home. After my trip to Boston 2 weeks ago, last weekend I was in Rhode Island checking in on my in-laws who just moved there from California a few months ago. It’s a good thing I got those two New England trips in when I did because I have no excuse to not blog today given I’m good and snowed into my house.

As I’m sure anyone who looks at the news or lives along the eastern seaboard is aware there has been a blizzard raging for the past 24 hours. At last look we were at 26 inches of snow in my yard and it’s still coming down at a good pace. I won’t be surprised if we end up with 30 inches before it’s all said and done.

Tomorrow when I have to dig my car out I’m going to be a big grump about it as I am every other day until it stops being a ridiculously icy messy that I have to drive, walk, and park in every day. A fan of winter I am not. Today however it was a nice forced break in my always busy life. Granted it’s making next weekend insane for me combining all the rescheduled activities from this weekend and adding them to what was already scheduled for next weekend. Now on Saturday I’m seeing Centerstage’s production of “As You Like It” in the afternoon and then going to a friend’s 40th birthday party that night. Then on Sunday I am now seeing Garth Brooks in concert at 3 pm, which will be followed directly by our already scheduled tickets to see “Phantom of the Opera” at the Hippodrome.

Today though I am doing a whole lot of nothing and it’s lovely. It’s almost 5 pm and I’m still in my pajamas. I have no plans to change that. I never do that, but I figure if you can’t spend the entire day in your pajamas when there’s a blizzard when can you? I’ve been lucky in being able to stay inside all day. My husband and a neighbor have been trading off shoveling our sidewalk, and I’m not going to think about tackling my car until tomorrow. It’s always nice to see people being neighborly during these things. The street that t-bones into our house always has a number of people who go out and shovel the whole block. It always warms my heart. Sometimes they’ve even done the street if it’s taken too long before plows get to it. They’re impressive.

I’m warm and dry in my house. So far we haven’t lost power (fingers crossed). I’ve been curled up under a blanket with a snuggly cat on my lap for much of the day reading a book and watching the Wake Forest basketball game. It’s been a lovely day of being forced to slow down. The only thing that would have made it better was if it happened on a weekday and got me out of work. As it is I’m thinking we might get Monday off anyway. Baltimore doesn’t deal well with snow storms of this magnitude. It’s going to take awhile to dig out from this one.

The 2015 Mayor’s Christmas Parade

I have often written about the annual Mayor’s Christmas Parade that runs through my neighborhood. It is always one of the highlights of my year. My friend Carissa’s birthday is always in proximity to the parade so she throws a birthday brunch and then we all go out and watch the parade together. This year almost everyone brought something sweet so I was almost in a sugar coma by the time the parade rolled around.

I was laughing this year because this is the first time I’ve seen them put an end time on the parade saying it ran from 1-3. Based on past experience I thought either they’ve cut way down on what’s in the parade or it’s going to end a lot later than 3. I was correct. After the sun went behind the buildings it got cold and we’d been out there a long time, so we actually cut out a little early, but based on the drums I could hear from my house it definitely didn’t end until between 4:30 and 4:45.

It was pretty much the same stuff as every year, so I’m just going to throw up a few photos of the new things I noticed this year plus a few of my favorites I took pictures of. Also of note that even though it’s called the Mayor’s Christmas Parade, our current mayor hasn’t been at it for the past 2 years. There were unsurprisingly plenty of mayoral candidates marching this year though. My favorite was the fact that Catherine Pugh didn’t bother showing either but had a contingent of 6 or 7 people marching carrying signs with her face on them that they were holding up.

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Mr. Hampden himself, Lou Catelli. My friend Lindsey was just saying she wanted him to ride his giant trike in the parade. Wish granted.
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Underdog. Well sort of. For years this woman dressed as Underdog and walked in the parade. Then she did a few years as some sort of female superhero. I’m not sure what she was this year. Everyone still calls her Underdog.
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My campus radio station gets festive.
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Squirrel
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This year a squirrel was added to the parade balloons for whatever reason. Just go with it.
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Bumble truck!
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Ghostbusters

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BB8 Car
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A Very Stormtrooper Christmas
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Darth Vader wishes you a Merry Christmas