Last Week Delight 1/17/2023

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.

Last Week Delight 11/7/2022

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.

Last Week Delight 10/10/2022

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.

Last Week Delight 9/26/2022

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.
Back hoe with googly eyes on it
  • 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?
House with light glowing from the windows
  • 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.
Hand drawn missing cat poster
  • 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.

Last Week Delight 9/22/2022

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.

Last Week Delight 7/25/2022

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.

Last Week Delight

  • 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.

Oyster Crackers

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.

A Very COVID Christmas

Obviously like for many of us (though sadly not enough of us), this Christmas season looked very different than Christmases past. Although it’s not one I would necessarily want to repeat, I also found a lot of things to take joy in.

There were not the usual parties and get togethers that happen this time of year, but I appreciate how my friends got creative to come together and celebrate in new and interesting ways. One of my friends hosted an online holiday murder mystery. Having done some of these murder mystery parties in person I wasn’t sure how it would translate to online, but it worked pretty well. I even figured out who the murderer was! A different group of friends did a couple of online Christmas movie nights where we watched White Christmas and Home Alone over text together.

We also had our 17th annual Winter Wonderland party that we have with a group of friends every year. Back in the day we used to rent out the upper room at Max’s. Then once there were a lot of kids in the group meeting at a bar became untenable so our friends started hosting at their house. Then this year we had to move online. Our friends put together a slide show of past parties. It was fun to look back at the early years and see us and all our kids grow up. The other benefit to doing this party online was that some friends who have left Baltimore over the years were able to drop in and join us as well!

I usually bake a ton of Christmas cookies in December and give them away as gifts. I was obviously still able to enjoy this tradition, though due to mail issues I didn’t mail anything out this year worried that the cookies wouldn’t be any good by the time they got there. In the past few years since they moved to Baltimore I’ve also been baking and decorating Christmas cookies with my niece. Obviously this year we couldn’t get together to bake, but we each baked cookies on our own and did a little sidewalk exchange of cookies and presents. She did an excellent job on her own.

I wasn’t expecting to spend any part of the holiday season with my family. We have been super careful the entire pandemic and so were definitely not traveling or getting together with anyone in-person inside. My parents against my preference travelled from Arizona to my sister’s house in New Jersey. Even though I haven’t seen any of them since last Christmas we were not going to drive up and join them. However, on the Monday before Christmas my sister and my mother drove down to surprise us with a quick visit. They only stayed for about an hour and half and we sat outside in masks socially distanced and visited for a little bit before they turned around and drove back. It was a really nice surprise and it was great to see them. I look forward to some day hopefully in the not too distant future when I can see the rest of my family too.

Actual Christmas was quiet with just me and my husband. It’s the first time in my 20+ years of adult life where I have spent Christmas in my own home. I’ve always traveled to somewhere else either to visit my family or my husband’s family. Although I missed spending the holiday with family there was something nice about spending Christmas in my own house and trying my best to continue some traditions while creating some new ones of my own. Though I guess they probably can’t be called traditions if I never do them again.

On Christmas Eve I attended the Christmas Eve service at my church for the first time ever since I’m always traveling, though it was online. My main goal was to continue the tradition of eating shrimp cocktail on Christmas Eve. When I was a small child growing up in Georgia my parents had a Christmas Eve open house party every year. There were always two standard things that they served along with other appetizers, shrimp cocktail and a cheese ball. After we moved away when I was in middle school and they stopped having that party we continued eating shrimp cocktail on Christmas Eve. The cheese ball fell by the wayside, which is fine with me. I never really liked those things anyway. One year when I was first living in Baltimore and working at Barnes & Noble wasn’t able to fly home until after I got off work on Christmas Eve so I missed hanging out with my family that night and eating the shrimp cocktail with them. When I got there my mother told me that my grandma wanted her to bring the shrimp cocktail to the airport for me. My mom said she didn’t but it was in the fridge for me when we got to the house. My husband is a vegetarian so he won’t eat it, but I cooked up 4 little shrimp just for me to eat along with some other little appetizers for our Christmas Eve dinner. We also Zoomed with my family and opened our Christmas presents together and finished off the night watching It’s a Wonderful Life.

Christmas Day was equally quiet, but also was a lovely, peaceful day. I know that orange rolls for breakfast on Christmas morning is a tradition in a lot of families. It never was in ours, but it always sounded like a tradition I wanted in on. So this year I made it happen for myself and made some orange rolls for breakfast. I also discovered that I actually really like egg nog this year. I didn’t really think that I did, but in my quest to be as festive as possible I decided I should buy some and figured out that I actually really like it. I’m definitely going to limit myself to one little quart of it though because it is not good for you at all. My husband and I opened the rest of our presents from each other and from his family. He was even super proud of himself because I made some off-hand comment about there never being anything in my stocking without knowing that he had already stuck a little something in mine for me. So I even had a little stocking present from Santa this year.

My family has never had a set meal for our Christmas dinner, so unlike at Thanksgiving where I wanted to make all our traditional Thanksgiving food for just the two of us I didn’t feel compelled to make anything in particular. I just knew I wanted it to be simpler than all the food I made at Thanksgiving. I settled on making an individual beef Wellington for me, a butternut squash Wellington for my vegetarian husband with a side of garlic mashed potatoes and roasted green beans and almonds. My husband ordered a lovely little floral centerpiece from our local florist and we had a beautiful Christmas table. We finished off our Christmas watching Wonder Woman 1984 while eating popcorn and pecan pie.

While none of this is how I would have expected to spend this Christmas at the beginning of the year it also had many quiet moments of joy and peace. I know for many this was a Christmas of unimaginable loss, struggle, and hardship. I am beyond grateful for all the blessings I have. As we finish out this impossibly hard year I wish everyone a brighter 2021.

Good Things Roundup

It seems like it’s pretty hard to come by good things these days, so I want to make sure I’m documenting them when they do happen. There were a number of things that made me happy over the past week or so, so I thought I would write up a quick post about them.

  1. We have now entered one of my favorite times of year when all the noisy bugs of summer are out in full force in the morning and the evening. Cicadas, crickets, katydids are all out there humming away now and I love it.
  2. I got a couple of surprises from friends that made me feel loved and it reminded me that I have some really great friends even if I don’t really get to see them much in person these days. Some friends went out to a farm and cut a bunch of sunflowers and dropped one off to me as a nice little surprise. That happened on a day when I was feeling really down on life and people, so it was perfect timing and very sweet.
  3. The other day I was watching TV and a character eating popcorn for some reason really made me crave the caramel/cheddar popcorn mix from Garrett’s Popcorn in Chicago. I looked into how much it would cost to have some shipped to me and decided I didn’t want popcorn that much. I did find two different brands of cheddar/caramel mix popcorns at the grocery store that I decided to do a taste test of. The Cretors came closer to the Garrett’s, but still wasn’t as good. The Smartfood I didn’t care much for. I posted about all this on Facebook, and then a couple days ago I opened up my door to a tin of popcorn from Garrett’s that one of my friends sent me after seeing my post. I have the best friends y’all.
  4. I got to actually see some friends in person this weekend. Some friends from DC drove up and we got carry out brunch and sat socially distanced in the grass behind my house. It’s a friend I’m used to getting together with fairly regularly, but who I hadn’t seen since we parted ways in the Tampa airport after going on what was in retrospect a very ill-advised trip to St. Pete Beach on the very week that the world decided that COVID-19 was a pandemic. Had our trip been one day later we would have canceled, but literally up until the point we were in the air flying to Florida the media was still downplaying how bad this was going to be. It was really good to be able to see each other again. I’m trying to be a little bit braver while also being completely responsible to see friends in person while the weather is still nice enough for us to sit outside because unless things change I don’t see myself spending time with people inside this winter. It’s going to be a long, lonely winter.
  5. Blacksauce biscuits are also making me very happy. Blacksauce is beloved staple at farmer’s markets and festivals in Baltimore serving up delicious biscuit sandwiches and more. I always got a Blacksauce biscuit for breakfast every Saturday morning pre-pandemic. For 3 months we did not eat any food that we did not cook in our own house. After the research kept reiterating that it was unlikely you would get it from eating carryout, we finally started getting carryout on my birthday. That opened the door for me to also finally start eating Blacksauce again. They are not at the farmer’s market right now. Instead they’re cooking out of a restaurant that closed last year and are doing scheduled pickups in their parking lot. The sandwiches rotate every weekend and some of my favorites only ever come around once or twice a year, so it’s been a nice stretch over the past three weeks with some of my very favorites: fried green tomatoes, roasted figs, and fried chicken with spicy honey. It’s summer so the roasted peaches have been in heavy rotation. I love that one too and will get it as soon as one of the rare ones that I love isn’t on the menu.
  6. Both universities that my library serves announced last week that they are going virtual for the fall semester. There was one day where it seemed like one would be virtual and one in person, which was going to make life very complicated. So I’m happy they got on the same page and that my co-workers who were going to have to go back to campus and interact with a bunch of students get a reprieve from that. I’m also grateful that I was and still am able to work from home through this.
  7. And that leads into my perpetual reminder to myself that as terrible as all of this is I have it really good. I am as I just said able to work from home. I still have a job. I enjoy spending time with my husband and my cat. We’re doing this in a time where it’s possible to still stay connected with people virtually instead of being completely cut off. And I’m not having to make any agonizing decisions about what to do with my kids this school year. I am extremely privileged in this situation, and I don’t want to lose sight of that either despite it still generally sucking.