Things have been a little quiet around this blog space because I’ve been on vacation for the past week and a half. So that’s what a lot of this week’s delights post is going to be about. We took our annual trip to a beach in South Carolina. We’ve been going to Hilton Head for the past several years. We wound up extending our trip by 3 days instead of going for just our normal week. Since our cat Scout died a few months ago and we didn’t have to worry about leaving a sick cat for 10 days, I decided that we should go for longer so that I could use the remaining 3 vacation days I had to use before the end of June. My husband can work from anywhere, so he could just work from down there while I got some extra time at the beach. Otherwise I would have just wound up wasting it sitting on my couch at home. It would have been nicer if the weather was a little warmer. The same cold front that made Baltimore rainy and in the 50s the whole time we were gone made it about 10 degrees cooler than normal and very windy at the beach. That still meant it was in the 70s, but with a cold wind it wasn’t great sitting on the beach weather. I still got my beach walks in, and spent some time sitting and reading on the beach just clothed in leggings and a fleece instead of a bathing suit.
My carry on size suitcase is surprisingly roomy, and I like how much I can manage to squeeze into while I’m packing
On the Sunday we were there it was crazy windy such that it was impossible to be out on the beach even thought it was decently warm and sunny unless you wanted your skin sand blasted off. The resort didn’t even set out their chairs and umbrellas, and I didn’t even see any beach walkers. It’s the one day I didn’t get any beach time in at all. Since it was a lousy beach day, we decided to go check out Old Town Bluffton. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend giving up a day at the beach for it, but if you’re in Hilton Head for some reason and aren’t much of a beach person or it’s just a not great beach day, Old Town Bluffton is a nice place to walk around. The really historic area has lots of cool old houses and churches and a nice waterfront. There’s lots of art galleries and a few restaurants. Then there’s a newer area that has lots of restaurants and boutique shops. It was a pleasant place to wander around for a few hours.
One night we were sitting outside on our balcony overlooking the ocean and all of a sudden there was a giant fireball shooting through the sky. I thought maybe we were seeing a really large meteor or something, but after texting with friends about it one of my friends pointed out that it was actually some SpaceX rocket launching. I had no idea that was happening or that we would be able to see it from where we were, but the times lined up exactly so I’m sure that was it. It was very cool and unexpected. I’m glad I walked outside at that exact moment and saw it.
We always play mini golf one day when we’re at the beach. We usually do the Pirate Golf, but we tried out a new course this year. It had real water traps all over the course. It was much harder than Pirate Golf, but the important thing is that I beat my husband. Though he did get a hole in one and win a frisbee.
The resort that we normally stay at has the best washing station for getting sand off of you when coming in from the beach that I have ever encountered. It’s perfect. There’s a bench where you can set your bags on so they don’t get all wet and sandy by setting them on the boardwalk while you rinse off yourself and other stuff. They have tall showers if you want to wash off your whole body, low shower heads if you want to just wash off your feet, and also a hose with a spray nozzle that you can use to easily wash off your chairs and other beach paraphernalia. Most importantly all of the shower stuff is positioned in the middle of the boardwalk over a grate so that the water and sand can fall into the dunes underneath instead of creating a pool of sand and water that you somehow have to stand in while you’re trying to clean yourself off like happens at most of the beach washing stations I’ve been at. Kudos to whoever designed this one. A+
The first year we went to Hilton Head my husband found a restaurant called A Lowcountry Backyard Restaurant. It quickly became one of our favorites. There is an inside, but you really want to eat in the titular backyard. It’s this really great courtyard area, and they usually have some live music. The music is played at the perfect level where you can hear it, but it doesn’t drown out your conversations with the people you’re eating with and no one has to yell to be heard, which is what I too often find when there is live music in restaurants. They claim to have the number 3 shrimp and grits in the whole world. I won’t dispute them because that’s what I always get, and they are delicious. This year I swear to god that the words shrimp and grits barely finished leaving my mouth and my food appeared on the table. I don’t think that I’ve ever ordered fast food that got to me that quickly. I was like is this someone else’s food? The waitress was even confused when she walked back by and saw it in front of me already without my husband having his food. His followed not that long after, but it was very crazy how fast mine came out. Then, the waitress misremembered what I ordered for dessert and brought me key lime pie instead of banana pudding, so we got to take a free piece of pie home too. I was actually sad that dinner finished so quickly because it was a really pleasant night to sit out and enjoy some music, but once we were done I didn’t feel like we should linger since there’s always a line. If you do ever eat there go early or be prepared to wait for an hour or more.
And now your musical delights. We usually don’t watch that much tv when we’re at the beach. We spend a lot of time just hanging out on our balcony enjoying the ocean sounds. It was thunderstorming on Saturday night, so we were sitting inside our villa and wound up putting on the live stream of the Stagecoach festival. I very much enjoyed watching Mary Chapin Carpenter’s set and Morgan Wade’s set. Morgan Wade did this great medley of 80s songs that started with the Outfield’s “Your Love”, which is a song I love. I don’t see a video of that particular performance online though there do seem to be some videos from other concerts.
I heard “All I Have to Give” by the Backstreet Boys on the radio while we were in Hilton Head. I feel like it’s a Backstreet Boys song I haven’t heard in a long time, but it’s a great song.
Buckle in. I’ve got a lot of delights for you this week.
I had an upper endoscopy last Monday to try and find out what has been causing my relentless reflux issues. It originally wasn’t scheduled until 2:30, so I figured I wouldn’t really get to eat until around dinner time. For some reason they called that morning and asked me to be there at 10 instead. So I was home in time for lunch, and didn’t have to feel starving all day. It unfortunately didn’t shed much light on anything, but at least for right now all that acid hasn’t done any damage to my esophagus. So that’s good news at least.
I’ve had a very busy stretch of days. I think this is the most things I’ve done in a row since pre-pandemic. And even then 6 days in a row of activities was not the norm. I was already too old and too tired for that back in 2020. I kicked things off on Wednesday night going to see Lucius with Danielle Ponder at Rams Head Live.
Thursday night was a surprise baby shower for some friends from church. They were indeed surprised, and it was a lovely night to be outside and hang out with friends.
Friday night a group of us went out to dinner to belatedly celebrate a friend’s birthday. It’s nice that the weather is warming up again so that I can go out to eat at restaurants again, and I appreciate friends who make sure to make outdoor reservations so that I can join them. I’ve missed out on a lot of friend gatherings over the winter, so it’s nice to be able to be a part of things in a somewhat normal way again for a little while.
Saturday my husband and I drove down to the DC area to have dinner with friends who live down there and to celebrate one of their birthdays. We technically ate dinner in Maryland, but just over the line because we must have parked in DC as when we started driving home our GPS welcomed us to Maryland, so we must have crossed over the line at some point. The weather was rainy and thunderstormy all day, so we were very much keeping an eye on the weather to see if we needed to shift our plans. Luckily the weather wound up cooperating, and it was a lovely night to eat dinner outside. I was also very excited when we got dessert and they told me that the apple hand pie on the menu had been replaced by a strawberry shortcake with cardamom ice cream. I love cardamom and was immediately sold. It was delicious.
Sunday night we had tickets to see Hadestown as part of season tickets to the local touring Broadway shows. Hadestown was actually the last show I saw on Broadway before COVID happened. I had very much enjoyed it then, and I had seen it with the original cast and wasn’t sure how well the touring cast was going to be able to live up to it. They did a pretty darn good job. I was particularly worried about Hades because I didn’t see how anyone could come close to living up to Patrick Page. He wasn’t as good, but I will say that the actor whose name I unfortunately don’t know did a pretty good job. He had a similarly deep, booming voice which I think was key.
For my final night of sociability, I have book club tonight. We read the book Remarkably Bright Creatures, which I loved. It’s really type of book we tried so hard to find to read during the last 5-7 years when everything has just felt terrible all the time in the real world but that we so very rarely were able to find. Something that feels light and clever, but that isn’t just complete fluff that leaves us nothing to discuss.
It was also a beautiful morning for our first outdoor church service of the season. I’m sure it will get cold again before we really settle into summer weather and we’ll have a few mornings when we’re shivering with the breeze off the harbor. Yesterday was absolutely perfect though.
Speaking of church I was sitting near a couple of pregnant women yesterday, and a little girl who is probably around 3 and half came up and was looking at their baby bumps, so one of them asked if she wanted to say hi to the baby. The little girl then gave her baby bump an elbow bump. It was adorable. I’m like you can tell this kid has been raised during a pandemic.
I don’t know why it delighted me so much, but it did. A couple blocks away from church while I was stopped at a light one of the guys on our worship team zoomed by me on one of those electric scooters that are left all over the city for you to rent.
One of my friends on Instagram kept posting stories about how she was already doomed to be humiliated by her Spotify Wrapped at the end of the year, so eventually I DM’ed her and said I must know what you’ve been listening to. So she she told me she better not be in the top 1% of Shaggy listeners. I responded with this joke, which I am inordinately proud of. “You: It wasn’t me. Spotify: Caught you red handed.”
Ross Gay has written a sequel to The Book of Delights, which is what got me into doing these delights posts in the first place. It’s called The Book of (More) Delights, go figure. I got a galley copy of it and am in the middle of reading it. In one of the delights in the book he shares that due to his original book people send him lots of mail in which they recount their own delights. One of them shared about their friends cat whose names is OREO Speedwagon, which was also a delight to him, and something he thought we should also know as to bring us delight. It did indeed delight me, and now I feel compelled to extend the delight to you.
We have a craft table at work that is covered in brown butcher paper that people draw and write on all the time. This morning I spotted that someone drew a heart on the table and inside of it said, “A proud dad brought his accepted daughter here for a visit.” I thought it was super sweet, and it put a smile on my face.
And now for your musical delights. First up the song “Nina Cried Power” by Hozier featuring Mavis Staples. I adore this song. I heard it this week for the first time in a while, and it made me very happy. Seeing them perform it together live is still one of my favorite Newport Folk Festival moments, and it takes a lot to make it towards the top of that list because there are so many darn amazing things I’ve seen over the past decade there. I was also delighted to discover that Mavis Staples is featured on a song on the new Abraham Alexander record, which I did not realize until I put my new vinyl on while I was doing the dishes and all of a sudden Mavis was singing to me.
And also the song “Heavenly Day” by Patty Griffin. I don’t have anything to say about. It’s just a song I love and heard this week.
I don’t really have much to report on the delights front this week. I am temporarily sidelined from my daily walks because I screwed up my foot, so I’m trying to be good and rest it for a couple of weeks. I hate not exercising, but better to get it under control now rather than injuring it worse and dragging it out longer. I realize that a lot of my delights come from things I observe on my walks, so without walks I’m a little short.
It was nice to have a three day weekend. All weekends should be three day weekends.
My favorite podcast, Make Me Smart came back from their winter break last week. It was nice to have some new episodes after they were off for almost a month.
January 11 was the two year anniversary of my #FlamingoADay project on Instagram. Back in January of 2021 I needed a little motivation to go out into the cold and dark to take walks, so I decided to start posting a photo a day of the flamingos I found in my neighborhood because there are a lot. I figured I would be able to do it for a couple of months, long enough to get me to spring. Little did I know that I would be able to post photos for just over two years. I posted my last flamingo today. There were several other times I thought I was running out of flamingos to post and more would always show up, especially when a decorating holiday like Halloween or Christmas came around. I even found 3 more new ones literally on the afternoon that I had already posted what I told people was my final post. I finished posting those photos today, and now I am officially out of flamingo photos. It was a fun little project that made me walk around streets in my neighborhood that I probably never would have bothered to walk on. And it seemed to bring joy to people. I’m going to miss it.
Gentlemen, take a seat. Ladies, let’s talk bras. For years and years I’ve been getting Facebook ads for Third Love bras. I absolutely do not trust any products I’m being advertised on social media, so I always just sort of ignored them. Plus they are more money than I generally want to spend on bras. Given I wear them more than almost any other clothing that I own, I probably shouldn’t be so chintzy, but why does a tiny piece of cloth cost so much? Anyway, I have rarely found bras that I feel like fit me well. The straps are always falling down, or they are just slightly too small, or slightly too big. Third Love finally got me to give them a try with a sale and selling me on their 1/2 sizes. I thought might as well give it a try. I can return them if they don’t fit. Turns out the 1/2 size was the key to my problem. They fit like everyone says a bra should. They clasp for me on the last hook. The cup covers my whole breast. The little piece of cloth between my breasts actually rests of my chest. The straps don’t fall down. I am not super in love with the fluted look of the straps on the t-shirt bra, which is what I bought. But no one else really sees them but me and my husband, and I can guarantee he does not care and would have no idea what I was talking about. So I should probably start throwing out some of my old ratty bras and upgrading them when I can snag these bras on sale.
And now for your musical delights
My husband got me a gift certificate to a local record store for Christmas so I can feed my new vinyl hobby. I’ve been enjoying finding cheap copies of old albums from the 70s and 80s. I popped over there after church last Sunday and managed to add a couple of Lionel Richie albums, a Steve Winwood album, a Loggins and Messina album, and an Expose album to my collection for not very much money. I feel like Expose weirdly got lost in the 80s and rarely shows up even in 80s music mixes despite having a double platinum album that had 4 top 10 hits including one that went to number one. I had the Exposure album on cassette as a child and loved it. I’m happy to have it again on vinyl this time.
My husband and I have been watching an old BBC show called the Detectorists. I’ll have more to say about the show whenever I write my next TV Diary post, but today I have the theme song for you because I have very much been enjoying hearing it every episode.
Happy Monday y’all. I know I’m going to hate that it gets dark so early now (it was so cloudy here yesterday it was hard to tell), but I did very much enjoy having light for my morning walk again this morning. For the past month or so my walk has been almost entirely in the dark. I know it won’t be long before we’re back to that. January is particularly bleak in that regard as some date in mid-January is the latest sunrise in Baltimore, but for now I’ll enjoy the light again. And let’s get into the rest of our delights.
The weather has been unseasonably warm in Baltimore since last Friday. I have very much been enjoying it and trying to take advantage of it because I think today is the last day it’s really warm, then we get a few middling days, and the long range forecast looks downright cold which I am not looking forward to.
There were a few days earlier last week that were also warm, so I suggested to my husband that we grab dinner at Blue Pit BBQ and eat outside at their picnic tables. Too bad I didn’t realize they were closed on Tuesdays, so we got there and no one was there to feed us. We wound up at Wicked Sisters instead since we know they have a nice big patio. In addition to the traditional Smith Island cake they always have a special flavor too. That night it was chocolate Oreo Smith Island cake, which I could not turn down. It was delicious.
I was out for a quick walk after work one day last week. There was a guy in front of me walking his dog. At the end of my block is a small warehouse type building for a company that makes industrial type paint coatings for things like vehicles and planes. Anyway, some guy was standing outside taking a break and I noticed that as the dog went by he gave him the one finger wave with his index finger that people do to animals sometimes. I thought it was sweet.
I had jury duty on Friday, which decidedly did not make me happy. Jury duty in Baltimore is a miserable experience. I hated being jam packed in the jury waiting rooms before COVID and I was especially not keen on it now. In Baltimore jury service is for one day if you don’t get picked for a trial or for however long your trial lasts if you do. I have heard tales from many people of just going to sit in the waiting room and then being let go for the day. I have in all the times I’ve gone to jury duty ever gotten to do that. I haven’t always been placed on the jury, but I have always at least had to go into a court room to go through the voir dire process where they pick the jury, which is so boring because you’re not allowed to do anything while they screen all the other potential jurors. This was the first time I have ever gotten dismissed without having to go into a court room. We even got let out early. We came back from lunch and they let us go like 10 minutes later. It was also a really nice day, so it was nice to walk from the courthouse down to the harbor and grab lunch and eat outside.
Speaking of that lunch. I went to Shake Shack and while I was there I saw lots of people wearing name tags and many of them had book related tote bags and just looked like librarians to me. So I looked up what was happening at the convention center and it turns out it was some combined conference for various agricultural and soil societies. So I was like guess I was wrong. Then later that night a friend shared photos taken at the Renaissance hotel right down the block from the Shake Shack, where there was apparently a symposium for the Young Adult Library Services Association happening. I knew it! Glad to know I can still spot a librarian in the wild.
It’s always a good weekend when blacksauce kitchen has their fried chicken with spicy honey biscuit on the menu. They have a stand at the farmer’s market we go to every weekend, but they also have a storefront that is open on Thursdays and Saturdays. Usually I just grab a biscuit sandwich at the market because we’re already there picking up food, but the fried chicken biscuit was at the storefront this week and not the market. So I skipped the line at the market and we stopped at the storefront on our way home.
I wanted to take advantage of the nice weather this weekend, so I dragged my husband up the fall festival happening at Star Bright Farm. They apparently have different events and concerts there. I’ve been getting Facebook ads for them for quite some time, but have never gone. I was hoping we could find some friends to go with us, but everyone was either out of town or sick. We still had a good time, though we just pretty much went for the music. They were having a beer release with a locally brewery for a blueberry sour beer that was made with blueberries from the farm. I can’t drink and that is not a beer my husband would drink, so we didn’t participate in that. There were some activities for small children, which we don’t have so we didn’t take advantage of that either nor did we get food from any of the vendors there. I did buy a couple of things from the farm store, but for the most part we just sat in the middle of a lavender field and listened to some music and people watched. I found it to be an enjoyable afternoon and would definitely go back for future events.
And for your musical delight this week we have the song “Stockholm” by Jason Isbell. It was the song that made me fall in love with him. Although he had several solo albums after he left the Drive-by-Truckers, Southeastern, which this song is from, was his first album after getting sober and the one that really started his career trajectory to where it is now. He’s apparently on a European tour right now, and his first show was in Stockholm this past week. He posted a photo from Stockholm on Instagram with the caption, Stockholm- you know the rest. It delighted me.
I am forcing myself to write this today. It’s the last thing I want to do because I’m feeling whatever the opposite of delight is. But let’s do it.
After 6 days of gloom and rain thanks to the remnants of Hurricane Ian lingering over the mid-Atlantic, the sun finally came back out at the end of the week and led to the perfect fall weather weekend. I am decidedly not made for living with so little sunshine. I would shrivel up and die in the Pacific Northwest.
Thursday was the first really nice day in almost a week, so my husband I went out to dinner at Tapas Teatro. The weather is starting to get a little chilly to eat outside, so it may have been our last meal at an actual restaurant for who knows how long. I usually get the salmon when I go there, but I’ve been craving lamb chops recently, so got those instead. They did not disappoint. They were perfectly seasoned and extremely juicy. Also, after my husband tossed most of our order of croquettes on the ground trying to pick up the plate, the waiter kindly replaced them without charging us even though we offered to pay for the replacement order since it was our fault.
Our plans were delayed a week because of the weather, but I went with my friend and her godson (his mom was also supposed to join, but wasn’t feeling great) to Weber’s Cider Mill Farm for some fall fun. I had been a number of years ago with another friend when her kid was little, but since it’s really aimed at children I hadn’t been any time recently. They had lots of little kid activities. He got to feed goats, mine for gems, ride in a barrel around a field, and go on a hay ride. We also got cider and apple cider donuts and picked out some decorative gourds. There were other activities to do as well, but we were working with a toddler here and he was ready to go, so he did not enjoy things like the hay bale maze, the boo barn or various climbing and sliding activities. Most importantly I got a dozen apple cider donuts and some pumpkin butter to take home with me.
Sunday afternoon I went to the viewing and musical tribute for the woman who has been the worship leader at my church for years, who as I previously mentioned passed away the other week. It started with an Omega Omega service with her Delta Sigma Theta sorority. It was not something I was familiar with previously as I was never part of Greek life and know even less about Black sororities. It was a tribute and induction for her into Omega Omega chapter, with Omega obviously signifying the end. After that there were lots of friends and musical colleagues sharing stories and providing musical tributes to her. It was a beautiful service that honored what a wonderful person she was and how many people’s lives she influenced.
While at the service I got to see a friend who moved to the Eastern Shore of Maryland last year after she got married. We only got to chat for like a minute because there were lots of people she was trying to say hello to, but it was nice to see her even for a brief second.
Driving home from the service my GPS took me a way I normally wouldn’t drive to help me avoid the traffic heading to the Ravens game. At one point I was driving east of downtown over a bridge that gave me a clear view of the city and last night’s incredible moon over it. I really wish it had been a spot I could have hopped out and taken a photo. After I turned off that street and started driving east the moon felt like it was huge and right in front of my car window. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it so big.
There’s a house I walk by that has two flat metal dinosaurs stuck in their yard. They used to take little hats that they made out of paper and laminated to them to celebrate various holidays. The dinosaurs had been sadly hatless all of this year though, but this week they got some Halloween hats. It made me happy.
And now for your musical delights.
One of my favorite hymns is “It Is Well with My Soul”. I first remember hearing it when we moved to Dallas and the church we attended sang it frequently. It’s been on my mind a lot in the last few weeks because of Paula saying “all shall be well” until the very end of her life. It was the first song they sang at her service last night, which seemed very fitting. There are lots of versions of this song on YouTube. I went with this one because it gave the appropriate emphasis to the final verse of the song, which is one of the things that I have always loved about the song. Not all the versions I tried out did that.
One of the very few good things to come out of the pandemic was that due to church moving online for many months at the beginning of the pandemic and then remaining as an online option after it restarted in person is that we now have lots of videos of Paula leading us in worship that wouldn’t exist if not for COVID. So I’m sharing one of those early online services cued up to her sharing her wonderful gift with us.
I’ve got a lot of delights to share this week, so let’s get right to it.
I was walking to book club last week and passed a back hoe that someone had put giant googly eyes on. The back hoe part looked like a big nose or trunk. It really animated this piece of construction equipment. Thanks to whoever made something that most people would just walk by without a second glance into something that brings a smile to people’s faces.
Speaking of book club, I appreciate that we’ve been able to meet outside with the warmer weather. We might get one more in during October, but after that we’ll have to decide how we’re going to meet. I’m definitely not ready to go back to restaurants, but maybe meeting at someone’s house would be okay? Or we go back to virtual for the winter? I don’t now. Right now I’m just trying to enjoy being able to do things outside without trying to get too anxious about what the impending cold means for my social life.
Maybe 5 or so years ago (who knows how long it’s been with COVID time) I was heavily involved in a project at work purchasing new furniture for our library. In retrospect a lot of the chairs students said were their favorites they never actually use because while they are very comfortable, most of the times students want something more task oriented at the library. Thus no one ever sits in my favorite of all the chairs we bought. They have my favorite fabric. They’re comfy. They spin. But there’s three chairs clustered around a small circular coffee table type thing. Ideal maybe for having coffee, but not studying or working on a group project. I was delighted to walk out of my office the other day and see three students sitting in them all huddled over laptops and books piled on that tiny table. It didn’t look like the most comfortable spot to be doing what they were doing, but I was really happy that someone finally used those chairs.
Coming home on my morning walk recently there have been a couple days where I’ve seen a father and a daughter sitting on metal folding chairs on the sidewalk in front of their house with trays in their laps eating breakfast together. I guess they were getting out to enjoy some of the nice weather. I thought it was very sweet.
I walk by this house every morning on my morning walk. When it’s the time of year where it’s dark when I walk by it and they have a light on in the house, the way it glows through their shade into the dark sky totally reminds me of a Thomas Kinkade painting. You know the painter of light. He was very big in the 90s. They sold his paintings in malls. My parents have several of his paintings. He eventually became the butt of a lot of jokes I think, but the style of this house and that glowing light just scream Thomas Kinkade to me. This photo I took doesn’t do it justice because the camera picked up way more ambient light than I experienced when I was taking it diluting the effect you can see here. Does this photo not remind you of the painting at the top of this article?
Someone in my neighborhood put up this really cute hand drawn missing cat poster that their kid made. There was a regular missing poster with an actual photo of the cat right next to it. I hope they got their cat back.
I love a good black and white cookie. I used to always get one at Zaro in Penn Station to eat on the train home from NYC. Well I haven’t taken the train to or from NYC in at least three years thanks to COVID, so I haven’t eaten one of those cookies in a long time. My husband had to go up to New York for work on Friday. He drove up and his office is nowhere near mid-town, so he couldn’t get me a Zaro cookie. He did however seek a black and white cookie out for me and grabbed one from a diner near his office. It was actually not a very good black and white cookie. It was very dry, but it was the thought that counts.
Saturday was a beautiful fall day. I was desperately trying to find a friend to do something with me outside, but was having no success. Either people were out of town, had COVID in their houses, or otherwise already had plans. I also feel like my social circle is way smaller than it was before COVID and given all the limitations I have placed on my social life because of COVID it’s hard to reignite some of those more peripheral relationships from the before times. Anyway, I finally decided that I was going to walk over to RemFest, which is the neighborhood festival for the neighborhood just south of mine, by myself. Then it occurred to me that my coworker lives there, so I texted her and wound up meeting up with her and her husband at the festival and then going back and hanging out at her house afterwards. Normally I would have given up way sooner in my quest to find a friend, so I’m proud of me.
I feel like half my delights every week come from my daily walks, but hey a little reminder to get out into the world and try and find the little joys. Anyway, I was walking home the other morning and was coming up off of this little brick path that is canopied in trees that connects the upper and lower parts of this one road. It’s a very beautiful little spot. I’m not sure if she was new to Baltimore or just the neighborhood, but this woman came up to me and asked me if it went to Druid Hill Park. I told her no that is the complete opposite direction. So she asked me where that path went and I said just up north into a neighborhood. She very excitedly told me she was going to go explore it and went on her merry way. I appreciated the vibe.
Yesterday I went to the Orioles game with a bunch of friends most of whom I had not seen since before COVID as even in the before times it was mostly people I would see at parties but who I mostly didn’t hang out with on an individual basis. It was nice to see everyone again. It was quite the bizarre weather day. It was warm, but with a very stiff cold wind at times that eventually brought into some thunderstorms that caused a rain delay but that blew through very quickly. Then it alternated between cloudy and sunny. The O’s lost in 11 innings. It was a very long game. I appreciated the older woman in the next section over who was obviously humoring her husband who wanted to come to the game while she sat there and read a book.
And finally your musical delight for the week is a song by the 80s band Expose. I heard this on the radio the other day. I do feel like Expose is an 80s band that you don’t hear very much anymore and I don’t think every properly got their due. I still enjoy Expose’s music whenever I hear it.
I am way late with my delights post this week, but work and life have been really busy so I haven’t had a chance to sit down and write anything until like 9:30 at night and my brain is too tired to write anything coherent at that point in the day. I’m finally getting a little bit of time on my lunch break today, so let’s see if I can knock this out really quick even though I actually have a lot of delights this week.
Obviously if you read my previous post you already know about last weekend seeing Amos Lee in concert, going to the Xponential Music Festival, and getting to see an old friend, so I won’t say more about that now but it was definitely a delight.
Related to going to the festival, there were lots of families with small children there. That meant I got to see lots of babies and toddlers wearing big old noise canceling headphones, which I love. I like that they’re having their hearing protected, that they’re getting indoctrinated into live music early, and that they look adorable in giant headphones on their tiny heads.
I’ve seen several cars around the area recently with Seniors painted on the windows with shoe polish or whatever kids these days do that with. In my day it was shoe polish. It delights me that kids these days are still doing that.
I only go to Starbucks a couple times a year. I don’t drink coffee and all their drinks are sugar filled and expensive. I do like to enjoy a pumpkin spice creme frappucino once a year though. Since I don’t like coffee, I don’t like pumpkin spice lattes. There’s also only a short window between when they release pumpkin flavored drinks and it gets cold enough that I don’t want to drink a frozen drink. So mid to late September I usually try and treat myself to what is essentially a pumpkin spice flavored milkshake. I did that on my way to work last week. Now I won’t drink another one until next year.
We’ve had some nice weather such that I’ve been driving home from work with my windows down a lot of days. I appreciate days where the temperature is just right to do that. Baltimore doesn’t have too many of them.
My neighbors have a bunch of sunflowers growing in their front yard. The other morning as I turned onto my block coming home from my morning walk I saw a guy taking a video of a squirrel running across the fence with a big old sunflower in his mouth. He told me his neighbor wanted to grow sunflowers and he warned him about the squirrels and now had video proof to share with him. It amused me.
I feel like I must have mentioned Maillard Patisserie here before. If not I have been remiss. It’s a fairly new bakery around the block from my house. I have already spent way too much money there, but everything is delicious. Sometimes if they don’t sell out they will have mystery bags of 4 items the next morning. I’ve never snagged one before, but last Friday I managed to get the last one. I was a little worried that I would wind up with a bunch of ham and cheese croissants because I don’t like ham and my husband is a vegetarian, but I appreciated that she had the bag labeled as veg so I knew that I was only getting items with no meat in them. I wound up with an almond croissant (my favorite thing there), an everything croissant, a fig and plum galette, and a maple walnut scone. A wonderful bag of mystery indeed.
And now for this week’s musical delights
For sure my musical highlight of last week was Allison Russell’s NPR Tiny Desk Concert. So much joy and love. I adore her and the wonderful band of women, the Rainbow Coalition of the Loving. If you need a pick me up and something that will put a smile on your face this is the best 22 minutes you’ll spend all week.
I heard the song “Shimmer” by Fuel on the radio the other day. We won’t talk about how it was playing on the Classic rock station and how old that made me feel. It’s a song I literally forget even existed and yet there I was singing all the words to it while driving to work. I always like when radio reminds me of music I didn’t remember even though it was obviously once something I heard all the time.
I was trying to listen to the new Marcus Mumford solo album last Friday and accidentally just put on some playlist of his songs on Spotify instead of actually just playing that album so all of a sudden I was listening to the Ted Lasso theme song. It took me a second to place it, but then it put a big smile on my face not because I particularly love that song but because I love Ted Lasso and the song reminded me of it.
Writing this post this week is real hard because I feel anything but delightful, so indulge my whining for a few moments until we actually get to some delights. It’s kind of weird to be writing a post about delights while crying, but here we are. If you know me at all, you know that the Newport Folk Festival is my favorite weekend of the entire year. It’s the thing I most look forward to doing and really fills my soul to get me through the next year until we go back and do it all over again. But it was all snatched away from me because of stupid COVID and the fact that I’m a responsible human. For the first time ever we had a friend with us driving up and sharing an AirBnB. Unfortunately, she tested positive for COVID on Saturday morning after only the first day of the festival. So we basically quickly packed up all of our stuff and drove home with N95 masks on and the windows open despite the 100 degree heat. Let me tell you that was a long, hot, unpleasant drive. We could have not cared about spreading it and sent her home on a plane and then gone to the festival ourselves knowing that we could be incubating COVID, but we are not those people so we missed out on two days of the festival. I’m just so annoyed because literally I can count on my fingers and tell you the exact times I have spent time with anyone besides my husband unmasked indoors since COVID started and one of the few times I attempt it, it blows up in my face. I’ve missed out on so much in the last two years while everyone else has just gone back to living their lives, and one of the few times I actually try and let myself live a little despite COVID and it gets destroyed. Saying it’s not fair is a really dumb thing to say, but well it’s not fair and I’m mad at the world right now.
I don’t know what is in store for the festival as I write this on Sunday and it’s probably better for my mental health if I never find out what awesome surprises I miss out during the closing Sunday night show (update: it was Joni Mitchell who hasn’t performed a full live set in decades. I’m devastated to have missed it), but I know a bunch of amazing things that I missed out on Saturday and my heart is already broken. Paul Simon showed up as a surprise set closing the festival on Saturday. When he announced his farewell tour a few years ago, knowing that he had somehow never played Newport, I was so sure he was going to be a surprise guest that year. Then he wasn’t and I figured well that’s it. It’s never going to happen. But it did happen and I missed it. Sob!
So I’m sitting at home instead of the festival today wallowing in self pity and wondering if I’m going to test positive for COVID in the next day or two and hiding away from my husband and wearing a mask in all common rooms lest one of us test positive while the other avoids it somehow. Of course I got a big reminder this morning that this self pity I’m sitting in is pretty mis-placed because there are people I know dealing with much bigger challenges than me missing some live music no matter how much I love it. So I’m sending some prayers up for her and giving myself a reality check. So let’s end this pity party and try and find what good we can.
First up a few delights from earlier in the week pre-festival.
We record Jeopardy on our DVR and then just watch an episode whenever we have time, thus we are weeks and weeks behind. So in relation to what’s happening on the show currently I don’t know, but two episodes in a row that we watched this past week I got the final Jeopardy answer and none of the contestants did. I always feel super smart when I know it and they all get it wrong and to have it happen two nights in a row made me feel even extra super smart.
Cicadas. I’m not talking about the crazy overwhelming number of 17 year cicadas that we experienced in Baltimore last year. I’m just talking about your run of the mill cicadas that come out every year during the heat of the summer. We’ve finally hit that part of summer when they’re out, and I love hearing their hum early in the morning on my walk or in the evening. It’s totally the sound of summer to me.
The Mark and Sarah Talk about Songs podcast is just starting a season where they rank 40 songs to determine the most Lilith Fair song of them all. They switched up their format to exclusively do these ranking seasons, and this is their second one. I miss the original format where they used to just talk about a random song each episode and then do a ranking of songs from a particular album every 10th episode and then in March do a larger ranking tournament on a topic, which is what they are doing all the time now. Even though I’m less into the new format, I still like the podcast and am particularly looking forward to this Lilith Fair season that starts for real on the day I’m posting this. They had one short intro episode to the season last week, but this week’s episode starts the actual rankings.
And now onto a few delights I experienced at the extremely short time I got to be at the Newport Folk Festival this year.
I made sure to get my lobster roll right away this year. Last year I missed out because the little sandwich shop/ice cream place right by the ferry we take to and from the festival where I used to grab a late dinner from some nights after we got back over on the ferry closed during the pandemic. There’s more like a real restaurant that just opened in that space this year. There was some temporary sandwich place in there last year that didn’t have a lobster roll. I refuse to eat a lobster roll at the actual festival because it seems too dicey to eat something like that in the hot sun. Anyway, this year after we got in on Thursday night, we got dinner from a place that is down the road from where my sister-in-law used to live because I know that they have a lobster roll I enjoy. So I checked that off my list right away.
Every year we have gone to the festival there has been this other couple that sets up their blanket and chairs in very near proximity to us. In the 10 years we’ve been going, we’ve never actually spoken with them, but I always see them and they have been my secret festival friends in my head all these years and it makes me happy whenever I see them. I spotted them for the first time this year waiting in the merch line where I made a beeline as soon as the gates opened while my husband went and snagged our normal spot. When I got there he told me the empty chairs in front of us were indeed those of our festival friends who apparently saw him setting up and were like oh it’s you. We sit by you every year. So then I chatted with them when they got back and told them they were my secret festival friends and it made me so happy to find out that we were their secret festival friends right back. She told me I’m always dancing with her at the end of the night even if no one else is. I’m sad I won’t be there to dance with her at the end of this festival. I hope they don’t think we ran away and sat somewhere else instead.
Speaking of merch, I’m very happy that I was smart enough to go ahead and wait in line for merch on Friday as well as make it over to the Newport Festival Foundation membership tent to renew our membership that guarantees us the ability to buy tickets for next year’s festival because it’s real hard to get tickets these days otherwise. I would have been devastated if we didn’t have that guarantee and then failed to get tickets next year. So I’m glad I didn’t put that off thinking I still had two more days to deal with it.
The festival is held on the grounds of Fort Adams State Park, so there is obviously an old fort there. My friend and I were at the stage that is set up inside the fort watching a set and were sitting up against the fort wall where there was a little bit of shade still. There was a family next to us with two little girls I’m guessing about 6 and 3. The older one came over to us first and gave us little rubber band bracelets that she made. Then her sister came over and gave my friend a sticker. I guess I wasn’t cool enough for a sticker. Then she started telling us all about the ghosts and skeletons that live in the fort, but that we shouldn’t be afraid because if they tried to come out and get us she would kick them for us. It was very adorable. I love that the festival is so family friendly and you see newborn babies to senior citizens.
We stayed at probably the best AirBnb I’ve ever stayed in. The property itself was great and really well stocked. And she was super awesome when I told her about having to leave early because of COVID. She refunded us a little bit of money right away and then said that if the guests who were supposed to check in after us on Monday said they wanted to come a day early now she would refund even more of our money, which she just did. So in total we got one of the two nights we didn’t stay refunded. Obviously, she was not required to do any of that, so that fact that she did was super awesome and above and beyond since it meant she lost some money on our booking on a prime weekend. There were some other details that I would mention that would let you connect this post to her booking if you went looking, and since she asked me not to mention the refund in my review I’m going to leave it at that here. But I’m definitely planning on rebooking her place for the festival next year.
Perfect birthday weekend. This past Saturday was my birthday and I had a lot of plans for the weekend. I went to see Jason Isbell, Sheryl Crow, and Waxahatchee at Wolf Trap on Friday. I went to the Orioles game with a bunch of friends on Saturday. Then on Sunday I went to Merriweather Post Pavilion to see Tears for Fears and Garbage in concert. It was a weekend full of normal seeming things. Like this would have been the exact weekend I would have planned even without a pandemic. Aside from throwing on a mask to go to the bathroom at the venues, it felt completely normal to me. I know everyone else is living like the pandemic is over, but I’m not because it isn’t. It felt good to have a weekend that didn’t feel like it was planned around the pandemic for a change. Also, I could not have asked for more perfect weather. I was expecting it to be in the 90s with 100% humidity like it usually is by this time of year in Baltimore, but it was instead in the high 70s/low 80s with low humidity. A delightful weekend all around.
Birthday jumbotron. As I just mentioned I went to the Os game on Saturday for my birthday. You can submit someone’s name to be on the jumbotron for their birthday during the game. I would never submit it for myself, but one of my friends surprised me and submitted my name. And I luckily didn’t miss it because I literally had just returned from the bathroom right when they put it up.
Bramble London Fog cake. I love a local Baltimore bakery called Bramble Bakery. They used to sell at the farmer’s market we go to every Saturday, but then they opened a store front last year and quit selling at the market. Their store front is a 20-25 minute drive from my house, so I have never been because there are places in my neighborhood I can walk to, and I’m lazy. They posted on their social media last Tuesday that they were selling some mini London Fog cakes at the Hamilton/Lauraville farmer’s market, which is just down the road from their storefront. It was chocolate cake with salted caramel between the layers and an earl grey tea buttercream. I adore earl grey and this cake sounded amazing. Since I was off work I drove over and got one. It was as amazing as I imagined and totally worth the drive. I still haven’t been to their storefront though.
Speaking of cake, my husband with a little prodding from one of my friends got me a red velvet cake from Enchanted Cakes and Cupcakes. It’s actually on the same road as Bramble, but farther north and even longer to get to from my house. I had a slice of this cake there the Christmas before last because I went there to buy some hot chocolate bombs for my niece and nephew because they have a wide variety of flavors. I bought a slice of cake while I was there and have been thinking about it since. Despite me telling my husband that I always want cake on my birthday but don’t want to be the one to bake it or secure it, he never remembers. I was going to buy my own cake, but couldn’t pull the trigger on the cost and mentioned it to a friend, who told my husband to get it for me. Also, the cake says it serves 6-8 people on their websites, so I was expecting it to be smaller than it is. We’ve been eating it for Saturday and I took it to book club last night. At least 12 slices have been eaten and there’s over a quarter of the cake left still. I don’t know what size slices they expect people to eat. I guess we got our money’s worth.
Guy walking with his cat. I was out for a walk the other day and I saw a guy talking a walk and his cat was just trotting along beside him no leash or anything. I have no idea how he got the cat to do that. My cat would never.
And now for your musical delights for the week. Buckle in. There are quite a few.
When one of my friends got married she complained that her Tennessee relatives got the DJ to play the song “Rocky Top” because she hates it and didn’t think to put it on their do not play list. I happen to love that song. When she told me she couldn’t come to my birthday baseball game because she was going to Tennessee for her cousin’s wedding, I told her I would only accept it if she sent me a video of her dancing to “Rocky Top”, which was inevitably going to be played. Because she’s an awesome friend she did indeed take a video of herself dancing to the song and apparently had to run up a hill to get to the dance floor when she heard it starting. I would share it, but she would probably murder me so you’ll just have to imagine. What a good birthday present.
The thirteen year old that is going to be chasing the high she experienced at the Tears for Fears concert for the rest of her life. Read my post on the Tears for Fears concert for the full story.
I have written on this blog before about Nandi Bushell and Dave Grohl. It made me really happy that she is going to play at part of the tribute concert the Foo Fighters are doing for Taylor Hawkins.
I went to the dentists on Friday morning and the dental hygienist and I were chatting about my plans to go to a concert at Wolf Trap that night. She said she only ever went down there to see The Indigo Girls because that’s as close as they usually get. And I was like oh you know they’re opening for Brandi Carlile at Merriweather Post Pavilion in August, right? She did not and got all excited. She was like how did I not know this? I have to go buy tickets. I’m always happy to share my concert knowledge. Hopefully she got her tickets and will enjoy the show. I myself am looking forward to it.
Chvrches livestream from Bonnaroo. I had tickets to see Chvrches at both the Anthem and the 9:30 Club in the past 6 months both of which I just wound up eating because I’m still not ready to go back to indoor concerts and since they were artists pre-sale tickets I couldn’t resell them. I was at least happy that I could watch their set from Bonnaroo on Hulu on Saturday night (or most of it anyway since Hulu’s schedule was all screwed up with the start time listed earlier than the set actually started and then they still ended it at their listed time, so we missed the last few songs). I have zero interest in ever going to something like Bonnaroo or Coachella so I’m happy that a lot of these things are live streamed now and I can just enjoy them from the comfort of my own home instead of sweating to death in a field with a bunch of drunk and high people that I then have to camp next to as well. No thanks.
When I was a little kid my parents had some compilation cassette of the sort that they used to sell at gas stations and places like Big Lots. We had several of them in my house. There was one in particular that my sister and I used to listen to a lot. One of the songs on it was “Hitchin’ a Ride” by Vanity Fare. We had these tv trays that had as base that popped off from the top and you could fold the base open and form a sort of metal rectangle with it, which we would stand inside and pretend it was our car while we “drove” it around the basement listening to this song. I heard it on the radio this past week, and it made me think of that childhood memory.
It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything here about simple little pleasures, but I should really try and do more of that. It’s one of the reasons I started this blog in the first place to have something that forced me to find and focus on the good things in life. Obviously that’s been a bit of a struggle the past 12 months, but given the funk I’ve been in lately perhaps something I need to get back into the habit of.
I have some friends that I have been doing an online game night with pretty much every Saturday since the pandemic started. It was very cute of me back in the beginning to think that this was only going to last for a few weeks so I sent out a new calendar invite every week where I tried to name it with a pop culture reference based on what number week it was we had been doing it. For a very long time it’s been a recurring calendar invite named Virtual Game Night: To Infinity and Beyond.
Now you are probably wondering what in the heck virtual game night has to do with oyster crackers. A few weeks ago for Galentine’s Day I bought chocolate tasting kits from River Sea Chocolates for us ladies to do instead of our regularly scheduled game night. We didn’t actually wind up doing it on Galentine’s Day because one of the neverending ice storms we had for awhile delayed my ability to drive around and deliver them.
At any rate the tasting kits included two little packages of oyster crackers to cleanse our palates between the different types of chocolate. While the chocolate was good we all got a little obsessed with oyster crackers and for the next couple weeks kept talking about oyster crackers in our group chat, buying oyster crackers, and musing about whether for our next tasting we should try a variety of flavored oyster crackers. Who knew that oyster crackers would be more popular than chocolate?
I really do love oyster crackers, but they are not something I ever really buy for myself. I pretty much usually only eat them at restaurants when they’re served with soup. They are key with clam chowder, but it’s really hard to find clam chowder in dumb Maryland. We’re all about crab here so everyone has cream of crab soup instead, which is fine but not the same.
I too should probably cave and buy myself some oyster crackers to snack on as a treat.