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.
This week’s delights feel pretty random, but I guess that’s the whole point of doing this is noticing even the weird, tiny things that bring you a moment of joy
My umbrella dress. I have a dress from eShakti that has umbrellas on it. It’s one of my most complimented dresses. What I love about it aside from the pockets of course is that it’s flowy in such a way that when I’m walking down my stairs it catches just enough of a breeze that it billows out in a delightful way. It makes me happy every time it happens.
Bubbles. Last weekend my friend and I were sitting outside in a park and a little girl and her mom were blowing bubbles and they kept blowing into us. They kept apologizing and eventually moved to the other side of us, but we didn’t mind. Then I was driving home from work a few days later and random bubble just floated in front of my car, obviously from someone playing with bubbles in a yard on the street. Bubbles are just inherently joy making. Who doesn’t love bubbles?
Puppy in a window. I live in a neighborhood of rowhouses, which means that a lot of people’s windows are right up on the sidewalk and their houses are easy to see into if they don’t have them covered in some way. There is a house that I walk by every morning that must not have central air because their front window is always open in the summer. Last summer they had a little kitten that used to hang out in the window and always seemed like it was trying to play with me through the screen when I walked by. This summer they have a new puppy and now he hangs out in the window and seems like he wants to play. The other day he was standing with his paws up on the window sill looking out the window with a toy in his mouth and he dropped it on the window sill as I was walking by like he wanted me to pick it up and play with him.
Filled pothole. There has been a pothole in one of the alleys I use to get to the parking pad behind my house. It was really quite the crater, and it was super annoying to drive through. I literally thought it was never going to get filled partly because it wasn’t clear who was responsible for it. Was it the city or the property owner of the building in front of it? There’s some weird stuff about who owns what for the alleys and sidewalks on your property, so I had no idea and figured that if it was the business who was responsible they would never realize and would do nothing about it. I have no idea who finally filled it, but I’m just glad it’s finally fixed. I was very excited the night I came home and realized that I didn’t have to drive through a giant hole to get home.
And speaking of driving, I got another delivery order of Taharka Brothers ice cream to split with my friend this week. We had to. It was for the children. Our local elementary/middle school was doing a fundraiser with them, so you see it would have been very wrong of us not to get it. Anyway, I was driving to her house to drop off her half of the ice cream and was thinking it was going to be terrible because of this one intersection I have to turn left at. There used to be a cut through to get to her house around this old brick water tower, but they closed it off to repair it and have never reopened it so now I have to make a left turn through this terrible intersection to get there. It was rush hour, so I figured it was really going to be bad, but then amazingly there were literally no cars going south on the road so I was able to easily turn left across it no problem! Miracle!
Salmon from Cypriana. My husband and I went out to dinner at Cypriana last week because the weather was nice and I figured we should take advantage of eating outside now because soon the weather will be hot and gross and we won’t want to anymore. There are lots of things on their menu that look good, but I will apparently never know how they taste because I have only ever ordered their salmon. It is the best salmon I have ever had and have never been able to make myself order anything else because I love it so much. It’s flavorful and perfectly cooked with a crispy outside and a moist, tender inside. Yum!
I have to get blood drawn every few months because of the medications I take. I have terrible veins. It’s lucky that I do not have an aversion to needles or blood because finding a usable vein to draw blood is always a drama. Usually it involves getting stuck multiple times in both arms, some digging around in there with the needle, and sometimes resorting to weird places like my wrist or the top of my hand. I even had someone do my foot once. It’s always a pleasant surprise when someone gets me in one stick. I had blood drawn last week and the phlebotomist not only got me in one stick, she did it with a regular needle instead of a butterfly needle. I told her I was impressed.
Cherry season. Cherries are my favorite fruit. Actual cherrries. Not fake cherry flavored things. That is actually one of my least favorite flavors. Tastes like medicine. Anyway I was excited when I went to the farmers’ market on Saturday and they had cherries. I love cherry season.
And now for your musical delight. We’re going way back to the 80s with the Survivor song “The Search is Over”. I loved this song when I was a kid. I was thinking about this, and how my friends and I were really into very earnest love ballads and deciding it was because those were the over top emotional songs we had to process our over the top pre-teen and teenage emotions. Kids after us had things like emo and pop punk. That’s what we had to work with. Anyway, I heard this song on the radio on my way to work last week, and I had honestly forgotten it even existed. Hearing it brought back a bunch of memories. Then apparently the song was stalking me because I believe I mentioned in one of these previous posts how my neighbors sit outside listening to music and wouldn’t you know it they were listening to this song this week. Crazy.
Perfect weather. Everything seems more delightful when the weather is gorgeous. This weekend was absolutely perfect. Warm weather in the high 70’s and low 80’s with low humidity. It’s the kind of weather that we usually only get for a few days a year in Maryland. The humidity is bound to kick into high gear any day now. If I could order this weather all summer long I would.
Soft shell crabs. I live in Maryland, so of course I like crabs. I love soft shell crab season when restaurant specials start featuring soft shell crab sandwiches and other dishes. It only lasts for a few weeks, so I like to take advantage of it when I can. I was stalking the Food Market for when soft shell crab would show up on their menu because a few years ago I had the most amazing soft shell crab dish there. Last year soft shell crab season happened before I was comfortable eating at restaurants even outside and they refused to sell that special as takeout, so I missed out. You would think my delight would be getting to eat that dish again, but alas you would be wrong. They switched it up this year and made some green curry dish that is not my thing. So I literally spent my lunch break on Thursday perusing online restaurant menus trying to find somewhere that would for sure serve me soft shell crab. I finally found a special listed at Silver Queen Cafe, so we went out to dinner and sat outside in the lovely weather and I got to have soft shell crab. It was not as good as that Food Market dish, but it was still delicious and fulfilled my requirement for the year.
Last week in my delights post I wrote about poetry and mentioned that I didn’t think I’d ever owned a book of poetry. I went to pick up a book club book at the library on Friday and they convinced me to sign up for the summer reading program. I got a free t-shirt and got to pick out a free book to keep from a selection they had. One of the choices was Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman. So now I do own a book a book of poetry.
Four square. I loved playing four square in gym when I was a kid. I was walking down the sidewalk the other day and saw in the blocks naturally created in the way the sidewalk is formed that some kids had written 1, 2, 3, 4 in the blocks like they were setting up a game of four square. I have no evidence that’s actually what was happening there, but it looked like a four square court to me and I’m just going to believe that is what was happening there because it makes me happy.
I was listening to the May 31st Listen to Sassy podcast episode on my walk last week. There is no way for me to adequately explain to you what they were talking about in any way that you would understand. You’ll just have to go listen for yourself, but they had a discussion that involved muffins and then one about eye drops that directly called back to the muffins that had me laughing so hard I was crying and was having a hard time walking because I was doubled over in laughter. Anyone driving by me probably thought I was insane.
And now for your musical delight. It’s the fact that Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” has gotten crazy popular, even more popular than during its original run thanks to it being featured in Stranger Things. Currently it’s charting at number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100. It only reached 30 back in 1985. I have always loved that song. I have a Spotify playlist called Amazing Songs that is songs that have stood the test of time for me and “Running Up That Hill” is one of the first ones I ever put on it. It delights me that a whole new audience has found the song and that everyone’s excitement about it means I get to hear it more often.
Last week was a real rough week with the school shooting in Uvalde and the hopeless feeling that nothing is going to change because this country is more in love with guns than people. Rather than delights it was more like trying to find something, anything that just didn’t feel like the world is total and complete garbage. So here we are.
I love honeysuckle. It’s one of my favorite smells in the world. When I was a kid we had a bunch in our backyard and I would eat the little drop of nectar or whatever it is out of the blossoms. We would try to do it at school on the playground too, but the teachers would yell at us which makes sense. You don’t want kids eating plants and potentially getting sick. Anyway the honeysuckle is in bloom and there are a few places I walk by every day that have some and I’ve been loving it. Our neighbor across the street has some on their back fence which sit beside the sidewalk. I was walking the other day and it was breezy and before I even saw it I could smell it and was like yay it’s honeysuckle time!
Related to all that, I follow Katie Pruitt, who is a musical artist I like, on Instagram and she posted a story last week of showing everyone how to eat honeysuckle. Perfect.
Ever since my cat got sick she has been sleeping in somewhat odd places for her. At night instead of sleeping at the foot of our bed she has been sleeping on the couch in our bedroom. I said something about it to her the other night and was like are you never going to sleep with me again. And then she did! She started out on the couch, but I woke up in the middle of the night and she was curled up next to my legs. She did that two nights in a row, but now she’s just back to the couch.
Somebody Feed Phil is back for a new season! If you aren’t familiar with Somebody Feed Phil it’s a sort of travel food show on Netflex in which Phil Rosenthal travels around the world, meets people, and enjoys food. It’s such a delightful, joyful show. I really didn’t know when or if we would ever get new episodes because you know travel and eating in restaurants seem really difficult with COVID. They somehow managed to make it work and filmed both the fifth and sixth seasons back to back. So we’re going to get even more! You can tell some of the stuff they did to make it work. There is a lot of eating and meeting with people outside, and when they are inside they are meeting with the chefs while their restaurants are closed. Gone are the days where you feel like Phil is just dining there while all the tables around him are full of other diners. There is an episode set in Maine where it feels like there were fewer restrictions, but at least the two episodes I’ve watched so far that were shot abroad were definitely full of COVID protocols. I still have a couple more episodes of this season to enjoy. I’m trying to savor them because God knows I need a little injection of this joy. It could literally not have returned at a better time.
I made a lemon cake with lemon cream cheese frosting for my friend’s birthday last week. It was a delicious cake. I will definitely make it again. Also, I have to give a shout out to my awesome husband who went to three different grocery stores to find lemon extract for me. For some reason that one flavor seems to be hard to come by right now. He was like they have every other flavor of extract known to man, but the lemon is out. Luckily he finally found some and the cake was saved! My friend has a bunny, so I found some really cute bunny cake toppers to go on it. It was adorable, and she loved it so that made me happy.
As I believe I mentioned previously I had to find a new primary care physician because my current doctor is retiring. I just got the new patient paperwork in the mail from the new doctor’s office. One of the questions they asked on it was name three things that bring you joy. I refrained from just referring them to this blog, but I definitely thought about it.
Surprisingly I don’t really have a musical delight this week. Obviously going to The War on Drugs concert, but I have a whole long post on that already, so I won’t rehash it here. Instead I’m going to leave you with some poetry.
I have never been really much of a poetry person. I never just sit down to read some poetry. I don’t think I’ve ever bought a book of poetry. Every once in awhile I’ll see someone share a poem that resonates with me, but I’ve just never connected with it that much probably because I’m not consuming it in the best way. When I sit down with a book I like to sit down and read it. I think with poetry it probably makes more sense to dole it out to yourself in little bits a poem or two here and there. I’m not good at that, but it’s probably why when I run across one shared on social media I can connect with it more. There have been a number of poems I’ve seen recently that have really hit home for me. Here are a couple of them.
I saw someone share just a fragment of a poem by Mary Oliver the other week and had to go look up what it was from. The whole poem is “Invitation“, but this is the part that made me need to go read all of it:
“it is a serious thing
just to be alive on this fresh morning in the broken world.”
Amanda Gorman is an incredible poet who I think has brought a whole bunch of people into poetry who never considered themselves poetry people before. I haven’t read a ton of her stuff because see above, but from what I can tell she uses her poetry to powerfully speak truth to power, to call things out, but also to encourage, to lift up, and to call people action to build the better future she sees. She shared this short poem on Instagram the day of the Uvalde shooting and then later “A Hymn for the Hurting” in the New York Times. What a powerful voice she has.
Another week. Some things delighted me in it. That is all.
This weekend was graduation for the seniors at the university I work at. The is a nice black marble sign on the corner of a busy intersection in the city at the corner where the university sits. Students often go out there in their graduation gowns to take photos next to it. Twice this week when I was driving home from work there were groups of students getting their pictures taking and people in their cars waiting at the light were honking and shouting congratulations out of their car windows. It was all very joyful and it put a big smile on my face.
This one is a little of a you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone delight in retrospect. Since the pandemic my library has been limited to only people associated with the university, so the doors have been locked and people to use their ID to get in. Pretty much since I came back to work in person we’ve had a temp working at our entry desk and she would always see me coming and just buzz me in. With the academic year over we ended her employment, and now I have to dig out my ID to get into the building every morning. So this is a little retrospective delight at that little bit of making my morning easier thanks to this person.
Speaking of people helping me, I usually walk by our local elementary/middle school on my morning walk. When I come home the kids are going to school so there are crossing guards out. They never do anything for me if there aren’t kids trying to cross the street at the same time, but this week I had a walk signal and a whole bunch of cars just kept turning right across the crosswalk so I couldn’t go and the crossing guard jumped out and made them stop for me even though there were no kids around.
Speaking of kids and walks, I was coming home from my walk on Saturday and there was a little girl and her mom walking to her dance class. She had on tights and a little ballet skirt under a rain coat that had little flaps attached under the arms of the coat that turned into sort of rainbow wings when she held her arms out. She was bouncing along with her rainbow wings trying not to step on the cracks in the sidewalk like little kids do. Be that girl.
I am still not an indoor person thanks to being an immunocompromised person during COVID. I rarely do anything inside if I can help it. The weather finally cooperated this week to allow me go back in person to a few things. We got to have book club in person and outside and my church has moved back outside for the season, so I was able to go back to church in person as well. It was nice to be around people in person for a change.
I feel like I am in a perpetual state of losing my faith, but every time I’m ready to walk away I feel God calling me back. My friend suggested that we listen to season 2 of the Evolving Faith podcast and discuss it. In a time that I very much am struggling to see God’s presence the first episode felt like God speaking directly to me. It literally started out “You who doubt, you who struggle, you who feel lost—you are loved. Atheists, agnostics, seekers—you are loved. You who are disabled, you who carry chronic pain, you whose bodies challenge you in ways you are tired of explaining—you are loved. Shy people and introverts–you are especially loved by me. You raging introverts.” Check, check, and check. This episode was about what the speaker called subsistence faith, basically taking the idea of being in the wilderness and just subsisting on what little there is to get by and applying that to faith and how sometimes we only have a small kernel of faith, but maybe that’s enough. And that’s where I feel like I am. This podcast was just a small bread crumb reminding me that God is still there even if I’m having a hard time finding him.
And now for my musical delights. There were several this week.
Friday was Friday the 13. I was out for my morning walk and listening to NPR Music’s New Music Friday podcast. They were playing a selection of John Carpenter’s score from the new Firestarter movie and at the exact same time it started some bird (a raven? a crow? I don’t know birds. Something that makes that horrible caw, caw sound that is the evil bird sound in movies) started cawing, and I was like did I just enter a horror movie somehow?
The tv show Somebody Feed Phil (side delight was finding out it will be back for a new season May 25) has a theme song by the band Lake Street Dive. My husband jokes that next time I make him go see them in concert that they better play it. This week after their show at Red Rocks they posted a photo of him backstage with them, so I told him if there was ever a chance that they probably did play the theme song, it was at that show. Cut to the next morning when they shared videos on their Instagram story of them actually singing the theme song with Phil on stage throwing food into the audience. Though my husband pointed out that’s Phil feeding other people not somebody feeding him.
Back around 2003/2004 when I first discovered WXPN, the NPR music radio station out of University of Pennsylvania, Rachael Yamagata’s song “Worn Me Down” was in heavy rotation. I adored it, and it is always connected in my mind to that time in my life and finding WXPN which I still listen to most days at work. I heard it this week, and I still love it.
Last week I went to Hilton Head for my annual beach vacation. So this week’s delights are things that brought me joy while I was at the beach.
The weather. It was pleasant, though not perfect beach weather. It was a great temperature, but there was a strong, cold wind happening most of the time we were there that made it feel a bit chilly even though it was in the 80’s. Given the gross weather in Baltimore while I was gone, I will not complain. It didn’t rain and it was nice enough to spend almost the entire week outside doing stuff, so I will take it.
Dogs on the beach. There were lots of people walking with their dogs on the beach. I am not a dog person at all. I like them fine when they are far from me, but I don’t like their barky, jumpy, drooly ways. But I enjoyed watching all the dogs running around on the beach and playing in the water. They all looked like they were living their best lives. It’s the kind of joy I would like to feel.
There is nothing like a nice hot shower after getting all sweaty and covered in sunscreen. It’s so nice to feel clean after the gross greasiness that unfortunately comes with putting on sunscreen.
The perfect amount of cheese. We got groceries for breakfast and lunch. I ordered a 1/4 pound of provolone cheese and it wound up being the exact number of slices of cheese that I needed for the sandwiches I was eating while I was there.
The sound of cicadas. I’m not talking about the crazy 17 year cicadas we experienced last year in Maryland. I’m talking about regular annual cicadas that come out during the summer. In Baltimore they don’t really show up until late summer. In fact, by the time I really hear their humming on a regular basis it means summer is waning. But in South Carolina they are already out. It was lovely to sit out on our balcony in the evening and listen to them.
Beach walks. I love walking on the beach. I do miss being able to walk barefoot in the surf, but I have too many foot issues to walk barefoot for any distance these days. It’s still so lovely to walk on the beach even if it’s just on the sand wearing shoes.
Rainbow. On our final night at the beach we saw a rainbow out over the water.
And now for your moment of musical delight. I have written about the Lucius song, “Dance Around It” before. They were on Late Night with Stephen Colbert last week and sang it. They’ve mostly been doing “Next to Normal” on everything I’ve seen before this. It’s probably my least favorite song off the new album, so I was very happy to see them performing “Dance Around It” instead. Even though the subject of the song is sad, the sound is just so joyful it’s perfect. When Celisse and Sheryl Crow join in with backing vocals I cannot help getting a huge grin on my face. This song makes me so happy. It’s definitely going to be at the top of my list for 2022.
I almost didn’t write a joy post this week because I don’t really feel any right now. Like I can’t stop crying I don’t feel joy right now. On top of all the stresses of literally doing 4 jobs at work and the continuing pandemic that at least I’m still living in even if no one else is, my 17 year old cat is dying. I can’t remember having to actually go through this before. All the other animals I’ve had during my life have either run away or gotten very sick, very quickly such that we chose to put them asleep almost immediately. I haven’t had to suffer through the slow decline before. I think my parents had to with a cat I got in middle school, but I was no longer living with it when all that happened and hadn’t for a long time, so it wasn’t the same. We’re also supposed to be going to Hilton Head next week, and I have no idea if we should even go. I really need a break, but will I even enjoy the trip if I’m worried about my cat the whole time? Also, I’m worried about subjecting another friend to dealing with a very sick or dead cat. The last cat we had that died had a stroke while we were on vacation and my friends had to deal with taking her to the emergency vet and having her put to sleep with our sign off over the phone. I don’t want to put anyone in that situation again. Even if she’s completely fine while we’re gone, will I regret not spending that time with her since it’s bound to be a very large chunk of the remaining time we have with her? But if I give up my vacation that’s it. There’s no replacement vacation down the line. Our time rolls over at the end of June. I use it now or I lose it.
So that’s all to say I’m pretty much only feeling sadness and stress right now. But I read this article in the New York Times earlier this week, “How to Cultivate Joy Even When It Feels In Short Supply“. It in and of itself was a little joy reminding about the importance of practicing joy even when joy seems hard to come by. So here’s me going through the motions this week as a reminder that there are still joys in the world even if it’s hard to feel them.
This first one is a bit of a cheat as it is not something that happened this past week or even in the past couple of weeks. There a few things I added to my joy list that are sort of perpetual joys, so I was saving them for times when I might be short on other things to write about. This one is a little sad because it’s something my cat used to do all the time, but hasn’t been doing the last few weeks since she started not feeling well. It used to be that when I came home from work she would be sitting on the sofa and would meow for me to come pet her and do this little move where she lifted her head up and her nose got all twitchy in anticipation while I was walking over to her. I loved it, and I’m sad that it seems like she might not ever do it again. But it’s a good reminder to cherish these sorts of little things because you never know when they might end.
Speaking of the cat, even though it’s a sad plan, I’m glad we at least have the plan to just sort of make her comfortable and let her ride out her life now. For weeks we were up in the air running tests and waiting for the vet to call us back and the not knowing was just stressful. We still don’t know 100% what is wrong, but it’s likely cancer and we made the choice to not continue testing to confirm and do chemo because based on what I’ve seen it probably buys us only another 6-9 months with her and that didn’t feel worth it to put either her or use through.
Two toned tulips. The past week or so has been peak tulip season in Baltimore. Lots and lots of people have tulips planted in their yards, and I have really enjoyed seeing all the different colors there are. I’m especially fond of two toned tulips. Some of them are dramatically two toned and some are very subtle, but they’re my favorites.
Kwanzan cherry trees. There are lots of flowering trees around where I live as well. There are several different types of cherry trees and pear trees. My favorite though are Kwanzan cherry trees, which bloom a little bit later than some of the other trees and have also been in full bloom in the last week or two. They have these really full, lush pink blooms. I adore them.
We usually get take out for dinner on Thursday nights and I was trying to decide between bbq and tacos, so I threw up a poll in my Insta stories on Thursday afternoon. BBQ took an early lead. It was only one vote ahead by the time I ordered the food, but I went with it because it was in the lead at that point. By the time we picked up the food, they were tied. Then because the poll stayed up for 24 hours people were still voting well past when we actually ate dinner and it amused me that in the final tally tacos made a big comeback and won.
Speaking of BBQ, I like that we have a neighborhood BBQ place, Blue Pit BBQ, that has a BBQ jackfruit sandwich on it, which means I can enjoy the meat and my vegetarian husband can actually eat there. Most BBQ places are not friendly to vegetarians. Even most of their sides have meat in them. But he can get a sandwich and a side of mac and cheese and be happy, so I get to be happy with some BBQ too.
I was out taking a walk this weekend and I wound up behind a couple of older ladies walking together and one of them was playing with a yo-yo as they walked. Why not?
We had some really nice weather this past weekend and it brought people outside. My house sits right at the top middle of the T in a T shaped intersection. There is a group ofneighbors on the cross street that sort of dead ends into our house that just hang outside all the time when the weather is halfway decent. In the summer they set up canopy tents. Mind you none of us have front yards. They’re just hanging out on the sidewalk. I’ve always appreciated watching them treat their sidewalk like an extension of their house, particularly because they’re not obnoxious about it or doing it in a way that I think is really disturbing anyone else. It was nice to see them back at it. Though it almost all ended in tragedy apparently because some jerk face who was involved in a hit in run a few blocks away and was trying to get away for some reason drove down their block not on the street, but on the sidewalk while they were all out there. Luckily no one was hurt, but seriously what the hell is wrong with people.
And that brings us to our musical delight of the week, which is somewhat related. My next door neighbors have a back porch area that they’ve turned into a little oasis and spend a lot of time out there since they have a house even smaller than ours and multiple generations living in it. I often hear them sitting out there playing music, especially if we have the windows open. If I hated the music, I would probably be annoyed by it. Luckily I don’t. It’s a lot of 70s and 80s soft rock, which I’m all in on. This was the first time I can remember hearing them out there with their music since it got cold, and I appreciated that the first song I heard was “Summer Breeze”. Great song and it felt very apropos for the occasion.
I feel like I wasn’t quite as attentive to things bringing me delight last week. I’ve been in a bad mood watching everyone else back to living their pre-COVID lives and wondering when it will ever feel safe to do so and feeling like more and more people are judging me for being cautious, my cat was sick for several days (though thankfully appears to be better now), our never ending mouse problem is back, and the weather has been crap. So I’ve been more focused on the negative unfortunately. But that’s not what we’re here for. We’re here to find the good in between the bad. So let’s get to it.
The smell of rain. I love that smell that happens when rain is about to happen. It’s been rainy here a lot lately, so I’ve gotten to enjoy that a few times recently including a little bit this morning though it wasn’t very strong. It’s about to rain for like 4 days straight, so at least I get a little bit of that good rain smell to go with it. I recently read an article about what creates that smell, and I regret it a little because it not only took some of the mystery out of it, but it’s not the most pleasant sounding reason that it happens.
The new trailer for Maverick. I love the movie Top Gun. I have seen it so many times including the first time when my parents left us with some babysitter while they went away for a weekend and she took us to see it even though it is decidedly not something my parents would have let us see at that age. So despite the fact that Maverick is everything I claim to hate about movies these days with it’s shameless nostalgia sequelness, I am all in on this movie. I am unreasonably excited to see it against my better judgement. It’s been pushed back multiple time because of COVID, but it seems like it will finally be out Memorial Day weekend. I am willing COVID to let numbers be low enough at that point that I will finally feel like venturing back to a movie theater to see it. Anyway, they dropped a new trailer for it last week, and I am still super excited about it. I’m also a little mad at myself for not figuring out before that of course Goose’s son was going to be one of the pilots because duh.
Getting my hair cut. It had been 10 months since I last got my hair cut. Basically the last time COVID numbers were low and we actually thought they would stay that way. If I had known then what I know now I would have gotten it cut shorter than I did so that it had more runway to grow out before it got too long. My hair is super fine and thin naturally and because one of my medications is a low dose of a chemo drug it is even thinner due to drug induced hair loss. So if it starts getting too long it just looks super stringy and gets really tangly at the ends. It was starting to drive me crazy and kept getting caught in my mask straps, so it was time for it to go. I waited until after my trip to New York and then snuck it in before COVID cases get too much higher. Now it is much nicer to look at and deal with.
New Maryland Congressional map. I am firmly anti-gerrymandering or anything that does not make our elections as free and fair and easy for people to vote in as possible. We have a long way to go in all of those areas, but at least Maryland is slightly less terrible now. That weird squiggly mess in the middle of the map is my current Congressional district. I think we can all agree that it is insane. The new district makes much more sense. I am a little sad that my house will literally no longer be both the north/south and east/west dividing line in some weird jut off in our current district because that was a fun little fact, but it was also insane so time for it to go.
And now it’s time for your musical delights. I can’t believe I didn’t have any last week. Don’t worry, I have plenty this week.
Rediscovering songs. My car is ancient and cheap and doesn’t have a bluetooth connection. This wasn’t a problem with my old phone because it had a headphone jack I could use to plug into the car stereo with an aux cable. Now that I have an iPhone and have no headphone jack (grrrr) I can’t do that anymore. So for our drive up to NYC the other weekend I dug up my old iPod nano to plug into my stereo because it does still have an old 32 pin iPod connector on it. I didn’t adjust anything on the iPod. I just went with whatever I was listening to circa 2008/2009. That was a fun little time capsule of songs, some of which I did not even recognize, but some were some that I had sort of forgotten about but are songs that I love and was happy to be reminded of like Vince Gill’s “Feels Like Love”. Then on the way to work last Friday they were doing a weekend jams roll out or something and played Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us”, which I had somehow forgotten about despite the fact that it was inescapable back in 2012. It’s still a bop. I sometimes wish there was a way I could tell Spotify to play a playlist of songs that I used to love but have forgotten existed.
Driveway moments. Related to the above when I got home and Vince Gill’s “Feels Like Love” was only halfway through I sat in the car and listened to the rest of it. I always like those moments when you’re listening to something and you just can’t bring yourself to turn it off. Driveway moments are easier now that we have a parking pad in the back of our house. Back when I used to park on the street they led to too many people thinking you were about to pull out of your spot and having to wave people on.
The female pop punk revival. I am very much enjoying the young women with their pop punk music that seems to be popular these days. I thankfully have connection to what they’re singing about with all their relationship drama at my age, but I like that this music exists for a younger generation and sonically I enjoy it. In case you don’t know what I’m talking about there’s of course Olivia Rodrigo, Gayle, and now Tate McRae, whose song “she’s all I wanna be” I just heard for the first time last week.
It’s time to talk about the things that brought me delight last week. Let’s get to it.
Staycation. I had to use up some vacation time, so I mostly spent last week on staycation. I basically watched tv, read, listened to music, and hung out with my cat. It was lovely.
Finding missing flamingos. If you follow me on Instagram you know that since January 2021 I have been posting a daily flamingo picture in my Insta Stories of all the flamingos that people have in their yards in my neighborhood. I’ve been doing it for almost a year and three months and haven’t run out of flamingos yet. People add new flamingos all the time and if they’re similar to other ones I have a hard time knowing if I already posted them or not, but someone else recently shared two photos of flamingos that were very distinctive on a neighborhood Facebook page and I knew I didn’t have them. I literally started rewalking every street in my neighborhood to try and find them and was striking out. It was driving me crazy that I couldn’t find them, but last week I finally found both of them. Now I can sleep at night.
Maillard Patisserie. There’s been a location in my neighborhood that for maybe the last decade has been rotating series of donut shops, none of which I ever really cared for. The last one closed at the end of last year and a few weeks ago a place called Maillard Patisserie opened up. I’m obsessed. It’s so good. It’s going to make me very fat and very poor because it is also not cheap. They have the best almond croissants I have ever had. And every time I go in there I walk away with multiple things. It’s dangerous.
2 and half pancakes on the street. Sometimes living in a city means walking by things like 2 and a half pancakes lying in the middle of the sidewalk and living with the unanswerable question of how they got there.
Gonzaga losing in the NCAA tournament. Now you wouldn’t think Gonzaga losing would bring me delight since I had them picked to win in my basketball pool. However, Gonzaga is my bracket nemesis. They screw me over year. If I take them far in the bracket they lose. If I don’t pick them to go very far they win. It never fails. I even said to my husband when I picked them that I should apologize to everyone who was picking Gonzaga to win because their brackets are doomed. So it brought me a certain amount of satisfaction that they are still my nemesis and our adversarial relationship lives on.
Amos Lee on Instagram Live. I’ve written more than once on this blog about Amos Lee doing concerts on Instagram Live every Thursday for the first full year of the pandemic. Every once in awhile when he feels like it or is trying to promote something he’ll pop back on and do one and usually do a fundraiser for some charity while he’s at it. This week he did one to encourage people to come out and see him on the tour he’s getting ready to start and he also raised over $5,000 for Doctors without Borders.
Advanced Reader’s Copies of Books. Due to the fact that I’m a librarian there are a couple of websites I can get advanced reader’s copies of some books from. I always get super excited when a book I already know that I really want to read shows up. This week that happened with Zachary Levi’s forthcoming memoir, Radical Love.
Seeing a friend after multiple years. This past weekend I went to NYC to see a couple of Broadway shows, which in and of itself was a major delight, but while I was in town I got to meet up with a friend who lives there who I hadn’t seen since pre-pandemic. It was really nice to be able to catch up in person. It’s been so weird the past few years there are not an insignificant number of friends in Baltimore I really haven’t seen since the pandemic started, but then there are other friends who I’ve gotten much closer to. I don’t know how all my post-pandemic friendships will shake out, but I’ll relish getting to reconnect with those friends that I do.
Speaking of going to NYC, instead of taking the train like normal my friend and I drove up because I wanted one less vector of potential contagion. I wasn’t really looking forward to driving in Manhattan traffic, but I needn’t have worried because there was none. I mean I didn’t have to drive that far in the city to get to the parking garage we were parking in, but still. The streets were virtually empty of cars at the points we were driving. Downtown Baltimore has had way more traffic than I experienced in Manhattan on this trip.
Bagels and Black and White cookies. There are two things that I always have to eat when I go to NYC, bagels and black and white cookies. I have never bought into the fact that people claim the only good pizza is in NYC. I literally can’t tell the difference between pizza there and any other greasy slice you can get anywhere else in the country. It’s probably partly because I don’t particularly care for that style of pizza, so it all tastes not great to me. However, you will never convince me to buy into that theory. I will however die on my sword saying that bagels in NYC are better than other places. I won’t say that you can’t get a good bagel anywhere else, but I’ll just say they’re hard to come by. Too many places just make bagel shaped bread that doesn’t have the right chew. So I always have to treat myself to a whole wheat bagel with strawberry cream cheese, which is my standard bagel order in New York. Every bagel place in New York can offer me this combination. I don’t know of any place in Baltimore. I would also always get a black and white cookie from Zaro in Penn Station to eat on the train home. Since we didn’t take the train this time I just grabbed a black and white cookie at the bagel place we went to. Alas, it was not as good as Zaro’s cookie, but I’ll be happy about eating getting to eat one in principle.
It’s time again to take a look at some of the things that have been bringing me small moments of joy over the past week.
The sunrise. With the time change I’m back in the sweet spot where I got out for my morning walks in the dark and get to watch the sunrise, sort-of. Due to all the trees and buildings around I don’t have a clear view of the horizon, so unless there’s a lot of good wispy clouds I don’t actually get much of an actual sunrise. It makes a extraordinary sunrise a rare occurrence, but it does happen. It did a couple of times this past week. Laura Lippman (Baltimore-based crime novelist, if you’re not familiar with her) has also taken up a morning walk since the pandemic started. Even though she has no idea who I am, I feel like we’re walking buddies, walking about the same time every morning on opposite ends of the city. She lives in south Baltimore and walks along the water and has a nice view of the sun rising over the city every morning. She posts daily photos of the sun rising across the water by the Domino Sugar sign. I’m always slightly jealous of her sunrises, but I’ve also come to appreciate that mine are a little bit more special because they don’t happen very often.
The morning moon. On the flip side, I do often get to see the morning moon on my walk. I don’t know if Friday morning’s moon was a full moon, but if it wasn’t it was awfully darn close and it was spectacular. Really one of the most incredible morning moons I’ve seen. It was big and bright and as the sun started to rise and it started to set it just seemed to get even closer and larger. At one point I turned a corner and a woman was just standing in the middle of the sidewalk not moving. Usually when I see that it’s because someone has a dog they’re waiting for to finish its business, but she had no dog. I was walking towards her and she was just still standing there and then pointed behind me. I turned around and wasn’t sure what she was pointing at. Then I got closer and she said to me, look at the moon. She was just standing there marveling at it as I had done earlier. I appreciate that she was just taking the time to stop and enjoy what a wonderful sight it was and trying to share it with others.
Kids running to school. During my morning walk I walk past the local elementary/middle school. The end of my walk normally corresponds to people dropping their kids off at school, so I pass a lot of walkers. There’s a number of houses on one street that have some elementary age kids about the same age, and I like watching them pop out of their houses and as they move down the street have more people join them. The kids will run as fast as they can until the get to the next intersection where they wait for the parents to catch up to cross the street and then they’re off again. I’m sure their teachers appreciate that they’re getting some of that energy out before heading into class.
Driving with the windows down. We had some beautiful spring weather last week, which meant I got to drive home from work with the windows rolled down. There’s only really a few times a year in Baltimore where it’s not too cold or too hot to make that feel like a realistic thing to do. I always like when I get to do it and when you’re driving by lots of other people doing it to and you can hear little bits of what everyone is listening to in their cars.
Tiny work triumphs. It’s always nice to feel a sense of accomplishment at work. I solved a tech problem that someone else tried and failed to figure out. I hate being responsible for technology because there’s always too many problems, but I do like the nice little serotonin boost that comes with solving a problem you didn’t know how to fix. I also had a really good class this week. I’ve never taught this session in person before. The professor invited me for the first time in the spring of 2020 and the beginning of the pandemic derailed that. I wound up just recording myself and they apparently watched it on their own or not. Last year I taught it online, and unsurprisingly the students were not super engaged. I didn’t know how things would go finally teaching it in person, but it was great. The students were super engaged and asked lots of good questions.
Baltimore has lots of issues with staffing the Department of Public Works since the pandemic started. We’ve gone through periods where they have suspended household collection of recycling completely, and now since omicron they’ve scaled back to recycling pick-up every other week. Some people are suspecting that this is going to be a permanent change. I hope not. But anyway, someone in my neighborhood created a website for people to check if it’s their week for recycling because it’s hard to remember. I like when people create stuff like this just because they can and want to try and be helpful.
Arabbers on my street. If you’re not from Baltimore I know you have no idea what an Arabber is, but they are street vendors who go around Baltimore selling fruits and vegetables from horse drawn carts luring people out with a distinctive cry. There’s one that comes round my neighborhood fairly frequently and sets up on the main street. When he’s leaving to go back to the stable, I’m not sure why my street is part of his route home, but whenever I hear the jingle jangle of the bells on the horse coming I peek out my window to watch them roll by.
And now for your musical moment of delight.
If you follow me on Instagram this song won’t be a surprise to you. Since I just wrote about another song of Lucius’s forthcoming album for New Music Friday, I didn’t want to write about this song there too. So I have it for you now. It fits here best anyway because it is a joy bomb. The song is a bop, and if the video doesn’t put a huge grin on your face then I can’t help you. They asked people to send in videos of themselves doing selfie dances. Apparently the people who volunteered to be in the video were only given small snippets of the song that corresponded to where they would be in the video and were given some small instructions like obviously what color to wear but then could create what they wanted. I love the final result. I can guarantee I’m going to be watching this video a lot during the rest of 2022, especially if this year continues on its current trajectory.