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.
It’s the time of year where new music slows to a trickle. Often I use these last few weeks of the year to follow up on songs that I liked during the year, but that I never wrote about. I don’t even have any of those songs that I feel compelled to write about. That is why I didn’t have a New Music Friday post last week. This week Jade Bird saved me by releasing a cover of Fleet Foxes’ “White Winter Hymnal”. It’s a pretty faithful cover, but it works really well with her voice. So here’s a new winter song for you.
I almost forgot to post a song today because with the Thanksgiving holiday I have no idea what day it is anymore. Luckily I had this song waiting in the wings when I remembered. I don’t actually remember where I came across this song recently, but I liked it enough to add it to my 2022 playlist. Looking it up for this post I see it’s not actually all that new. Even thought I only heard it for the first time in the last few weeks, it apparently was released as a single back in June. I can’t find much about the singer other than that she is 21 and set to release her first album, which this song is off of, in 2023. I’ll look forward to hearing the rest of it, since I am enjoying “Lonely Nights”.
As I suggested in my New Music Friday post last week, I do have some thoughts on the new Taylor Swift album. I have said in this space many times before that for the most part Taylor Swift is not for me. I do not know what it is about her voice in the way that she sings in most songs that grates on me. I can’t really put my finger on it, but there’s something I do not like about it going all the way back to her early country days. I respect her as an artist. She’s obviously insanely savvy in creating a fan base and working within while also subverting the business music establishment. So more power to her, but I just don’t particularly care to listen to most of her songs.
I have listened to Midnights all the way through. There are a handful of songs that I like, but they’re all the ones that don’t sound like Taylor’s normal voice and in some ways remind me of other artists and songs. I like “Anti-Hero”, which is good since it’s the single out there right now. It’s catchy and Taylor’s voice is either synthesized enough or has her singing in a high enough register that it subverts the quality in her voice that bugs me. “Vigilante Shit” is giving off real Billie Eilish vibes to me. I’m going to focus on the song “Lavendar Haze” because it demonstrates perfectly all the things I’m talking about.
Her voice in “Lavendar Haze” is lowered enough in most of it that for most of the song it doesn’t trip whatever is in my brain that turns me off from Taylor’s voice, though there are a few times that happens. This song immediately reminded me of other songs that I like in various places. At the 40 second mark where she starts singing “I’ve been under scrutiny” immediately reminded me of Halsey’s “I Am Not a Woman, I’m a God” and directly leads into a drum fill that sounds exactly like the one used in “Fallingwater by Maggie Rogers. For someone who loves music so much, I have no music talent and cannot process things likes beats and chords. So they might both be using the same drum fill coming from the same drum machine, or it might be entirely different but just sounding similar to me. I cannot say. Then the tenor of her voice in starting at the 52 second mark is at least to me reminiscent of part of another Maggie Rogers’ song, “Alaska”. But then at the 58 second mark, we get to the Taylor voice that irks me in the line, “I’m damned if I do give a damn what people say”. This song is barely tolerable to me. Her voice is edging on that sound for most of the song, but only sometimes fully tips over into it, whereas “Anti-Hero” avoids it altogether. So this is all to say that Taylor Swift still mostly not for me, but there’s a couple songs on Midnights I can add to few other Taylor Swift songs I actually like. I’m happy for all the Taylor fans out there who are eating every second of this album up though.
I had been planning on writing about this new Hozier song this week figuring that no one needed me to tell them about the new Taylor Swift album and I don’t particularly care for Taylor Swift. Then I heard a song off the album this morning that I had some thoughts about so I considered switching it up, but I actually don’t have much time to write this morning. So I’m sticking with the Hozier song that I don’t have much to say about other than hey it’s a new song by Hozier obviously based off the myth of Leda and the swan. Maybe I’ll write about Taylor Swift at some other point. Here’s the Hozier song for you.
My luck was apparently strong last week because I won all the things. I had entered a contest to win Courtney Marie Andrews new album, Loose Future. She painted the image that appears as the album cover. As part of my winnings I got a handpainted alternate version of the cover to store my record in. They also sent me the album on CD and cassette, which I don’t know what to do with. I need someone in Gen Z to explain to me why they have decided to adopt the worst audio format ever invented save for maybe the 8-track. So if anyone wants a copy of the album on CD or cassette let me know.
I also won tickets to my choice of shows from the Shriver Hall Concert Series. I entered to win tickets at RemFest, a local neighborhood street festival, a few weeks ago and I just got an email this week telling me I won tickets to either the October 24 or November 6 concert. We’re going on November 6 to see someone named Davóne Tines, who apparently interweaves Bach with contemporary settings that draw on the traditions of art song, spirituals, and gospel according to the website.
I went to see The Killers in concert at Capital One Arena. I already wrote about it, so I won’t both rehashing it, but it did bring me great joy so I’m noting it here.
Some people a few blocks over from me have skeletons on their porch that they dress in different costumes every week. I love seeing what they change into. So far they’ve been pirates, bananas, a hot dog, ketchup, and mustard, and Luigi and Mario. Presumably we should get a few more costume changes before the season is over. I can’t wait to see what they do next.
Today is actually my 14th wedding anniversary, so that’s a delight. We’re not really doing anything today to celebrate though. We are still outdoor dining only people and tonight is going to be too chilly. Saturday was very pleasant though, so we made a last minute decision to go out and celebrate then instead. We wound up having to eat at 5:45 because I could only find reservations at like 5 or 9 anywhere by the time we decided to go. We went to the Black Olive and had some delicious Greek food. They have a really nice courtyard in the back that we got to sit in, which was much nicer than the more plentiful outdoor dining they have set up on the sidewalk and street out front. There was another couple that came in shortly after us and she was asking him where he wanted to sit and he said doesn’t matter to me. I’m going to have the best view in the city no matter what. It was super cheesy, but really sweet and it made me smile.
We had indoor, in-person meeting for one of my book clubs for the first time since COVID. It was nice to get to see everyone in person. I still wore my mask because I’m trying to figure out how to balance keeping my immunocompromised self safe while not spending yet another winter locked away.
I drove home from book club on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and noticed a new sign entering the city. There’s an old wooden sign that says Welcome to Baltimore, which has been there forever, but someone tacked some additional signs to it. Someone has been creating these signs that say Be Kind on them in the shape of crayons that have all kinds of different designs on them. They are tacked up all over the city and are plentiful in my neighborhood. One of those signs was tacked to the Welcome to Baltimore sign alongside just a square piece of wood that said Hon on it. Hon is also a very old school Baltimore term of endearment. It was probably the same person who tacked both of them up at the same time, but in my head I like to imagine that someone put up the Be Kind sign and then someone else came along behind them and added the Hon.
For your musical delight this week I have the song “Worn Me Down” by Rachael Yamagata, which is a song from 2004 that I still really love. I usually listen to WXPN while I’m working, but they’ve been in membership drive mode since last week, so I’ve been listening to a playlist I put together in 2016 where I added one song a day that I heard and liked, so it’s a wide range of songs. This song was on it, and it was the first time I had heard it in awhile.
Tommy Prine is John Prine’s son. About a month ago he released the song “Ships in the Harbor”, which is about endings and very much about the death of his father from COVID during the early days of the pandemic. John Prine’s birthday was earlier this week, so it feels only fitting that this song is my New Music Friday selection this week. Honestly it was on my docket for today before I even realized John Prine’s birthday was this week, but that made it seem all the more kismet. It’s an absolutely beautiful song. Tommy Prine is certainly carrying on his father’s mantle. I look forward to hearing more from him.
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.
You always have to love when an artist that you love covers a song by another artist you love. We’ll somewhat ignore the fact that it only exists because it was commissioned by North Face for an ad campaign. “The Story” used to be Brandi Carlile’s biggest song and the one that people knew if they had any clue who I was talking about. Most often because of it’s use in conjunction with Grey’s Anatomy. Now I feel like Brandi Carlile lives in this weird liminal space where she’s gotten way more popular than she was when I first got into her. I get fewer blank looks when I mention her, but there are still a lot of people who have no clue who she is. Case in point, the first comment on this YouTube video from someone saying they have to go look up Brandi Carlile because they’ve never heard of her. Now I have no clue what might be the song people associate with her.
Anyway “The Story” is still an absolutely fantastic song. Michelle Zauner aka Japanese Breakfast does a fine job doing a fairly straightforward cover it. Brandi brings a rawness to the original version that is not present in this one that is a little more smooth. I do like it and wish as multiple people have said in the YouTube comments that they would make it available on Spotify.
“Homesick” is the third single released off The Lone Bellow’s forthcoming album, Lovesongs for Losers. I’ve enjoyed the first two singles as well but just never got around to writing about them. I finally felt compelled to write about a song from this album this week not actually because of the song itself but because of the video Zachary Williams from The Lone Bellow posted on Instagram describing his inspiration for writing the song.
On the face of it the song is about his family and his childhood and memories of those times in his life. Had I not listened to him say more, that’s what I would have taken away from it and not really thought about any of the lyrics in any deeper way. However, he shared that the genesis of the song was actually the death of John Prine from COVID early in the pandemic. He didn’t know John Prine well. Prine was of course a musical influence. They had met and sung together a few times, but they didn’t have any kind of real meaningful relationship. Nevertheless John Prine’s death hit him hard, and as he was lying in bed that night not sleeping the line, “If you’re homesick, it’s your heart telling your mind that you love somebody”, went through his head. He got up out of bed and began thinking about those early childhood memories and combined all of it into the song “Homesick”.
All that background on the song made it hit differently with me especially in light of the loss of a beautiful soul this week. A few hours prior to hearing this song and his description of it for the first time I found out that Paula, the woman who had been the worship leader at my church had passed away. It wasn’t unexpected as I had known she was very sick, but news like that is never easy. Like with Zachary Williams and John Prine, I can’t say that I had any kind of close relationship with her. We occasionally chatted at church events or parties that we were both at, but I would not claim that we were friends. She was a weekly fixture in my life though, leading our worship services every Sunday with her amazing voice. Truly a gift from God.
That line about homesickness and knowing the background of where it came from made me start thinking about it in a different way. Normally I think of homesickness being about a place and perhaps also the people in that place, but not necessarily about actually missing specific situations or people, especially once they’re gone. Now I actually feel like it’s the perfect word to describe what I’m feeling. I don’t feel that immense sense of grief or loss because I didn’t have that kind of relationship with Paula that would cause that, but I do feel sadness and a longing for the experience of seeing her and hearing her sing that I know I will never have again. I never would have used the word homesick previously, but now I can’t think of a better word. So I’m dedicating this song to Paula and looking forward to one day beyond this earth when I can hear her sing again.