Things have been a little quiet around this blog space because I’ve been on vacation for the past week and a half. So that’s what a lot of this week’s delights post is going to be about. We took our annual trip to a beach in South Carolina. We’ve been going to Hilton Head for the past several years. We wound up extending our trip by 3 days instead of going for just our normal week. Since our cat Scout died a few months ago and we didn’t have to worry about leaving a sick cat for 10 days, I decided that we should go for longer so that I could use the remaining 3 vacation days I had to use before the end of June. My husband can work from anywhere, so he could just work from down there while I got some extra time at the beach. Otherwise I would have just wound up wasting it sitting on my couch at home. It would have been nicer if the weather was a little warmer. The same cold front that made Baltimore rainy and in the 50s the whole time we were gone made it about 10 degrees cooler than normal and very windy at the beach. That still meant it was in the 70s, but with a cold wind it wasn’t great sitting on the beach weather. I still got my beach walks in, and spent some time sitting and reading on the beach just clothed in leggings and a fleece instead of a bathing suit.
My carry on size suitcase is surprisingly roomy, and I like how much I can manage to squeeze into while I’m packing
On the Sunday we were there it was crazy windy such that it was impossible to be out on the beach even thought it was decently warm and sunny unless you wanted your skin sand blasted off. The resort didn’t even set out their chairs and umbrellas, and I didn’t even see any beach walkers. It’s the one day I didn’t get any beach time in at all. Since it was a lousy beach day, we decided to go check out Old Town Bluffton. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend giving up a day at the beach for it, but if you’re in Hilton Head for some reason and aren’t much of a beach person or it’s just a not great beach day, Old Town Bluffton is a nice place to walk around. The really historic area has lots of cool old houses and churches and a nice waterfront. There’s lots of art galleries and a few restaurants. Then there’s a newer area that has lots of restaurants and boutique shops. It was a pleasant place to wander around for a few hours.
One night we were sitting outside on our balcony overlooking the ocean and all of a sudden there was a giant fireball shooting through the sky. I thought maybe we were seeing a really large meteor or something, but after texting with friends about it one of my friends pointed out that it was actually some SpaceX rocket launching. I had no idea that was happening or that we would be able to see it from where we were, but the times lined up exactly so I’m sure that was it. It was very cool and unexpected. I’m glad I walked outside at that exact moment and saw it.
We always play mini golf one day when we’re at the beach. We usually do the Pirate Golf, but we tried out a new course this year. It had real water traps all over the course. It was much harder than Pirate Golf, but the important thing is that I beat my husband. Though he did get a hole in one and win a frisbee.
The resort that we normally stay at has the best washing station for getting sand off of you when coming in from the beach that I have ever encountered. It’s perfect. There’s a bench where you can set your bags on so they don’t get all wet and sandy by setting them on the boardwalk while you rinse off yourself and other stuff. They have tall showers if you want to wash off your whole body, low shower heads if you want to just wash off your feet, and also a hose with a spray nozzle that you can use to easily wash off your chairs and other beach paraphernalia. Most importantly all of the shower stuff is positioned in the middle of the boardwalk over a grate so that the water and sand can fall into the dunes underneath instead of creating a pool of sand and water that you somehow have to stand in while you’re trying to clean yourself off like happens at most of the beach washing stations I’ve been at. Kudos to whoever designed this one. A+
The first year we went to Hilton Head my husband found a restaurant called A Lowcountry Backyard Restaurant. It quickly became one of our favorites. There is an inside, but you really want to eat in the titular backyard. It’s this really great courtyard area, and they usually have some live music. The music is played at the perfect level where you can hear it, but it doesn’t drown out your conversations with the people you’re eating with and no one has to yell to be heard, which is what I too often find when there is live music in restaurants. They claim to have the number 3 shrimp and grits in the whole world. I won’t dispute them because that’s what I always get, and they are delicious. This year I swear to god that the words shrimp and grits barely finished leaving my mouth and my food appeared on the table. I don’t think that I’ve ever ordered fast food that got to me that quickly. I was like is this someone else’s food? The waitress was even confused when she walked back by and saw it in front of me already without my husband having his food. His followed not that long after, but it was very crazy how fast mine came out. Then, the waitress misremembered what I ordered for dessert and brought me key lime pie instead of banana pudding, so we got to take a free piece of pie home too. I was actually sad that dinner finished so quickly because it was a really pleasant night to sit out and enjoy some music, but once we were done I didn’t feel like we should linger since there’s always a line. If you do ever eat there go early or be prepared to wait for an hour or more.
And now your musical delights. We usually don’t watch that much tv when we’re at the beach. We spend a lot of time just hanging out on our balcony enjoying the ocean sounds. It was thunderstorming on Saturday night, so we were sitting inside our villa and wound up putting on the live stream of the Stagecoach festival. I very much enjoyed watching Mary Chapin Carpenter’s set and Morgan Wade’s set. Morgan Wade did this great medley of 80s songs that started with the Outfield’s “Your Love”, which is a song I love. I don’t see a video of that particular performance online though there do seem to be some videos from other concerts.
I heard “All I Have to Give” by the Backstreet Boys on the radio while we were in Hilton Head. I feel like it’s a Backstreet Boys song I haven’t heard in a long time, but it’s a great song.
Buckle in. I’ve got a lot of delights for you this week.
I had an upper endoscopy last Monday to try and find out what has been causing my relentless reflux issues. It originally wasn’t scheduled until 2:30, so I figured I wouldn’t really get to eat until around dinner time. For some reason they called that morning and asked me to be there at 10 instead. So I was home in time for lunch, and didn’t have to feel starving all day. It unfortunately didn’t shed much light on anything, but at least for right now all that acid hasn’t done any damage to my esophagus. So that’s good news at least.
I’ve had a very busy stretch of days. I think this is the most things I’ve done in a row since pre-pandemic. And even then 6 days in a row of activities was not the norm. I was already too old and too tired for that back in 2020. I kicked things off on Wednesday night going to see Lucius with Danielle Ponder at Rams Head Live.
Thursday night was a surprise baby shower for some friends from church. They were indeed surprised, and it was a lovely night to be outside and hang out with friends.
Friday night a group of us went out to dinner to belatedly celebrate a friend’s birthday. It’s nice that the weather is warming up again so that I can go out to eat at restaurants again, and I appreciate friends who make sure to make outdoor reservations so that I can join them. I’ve missed out on a lot of friend gatherings over the winter, so it’s nice to be able to be a part of things in a somewhat normal way again for a little while.
Saturday my husband and I drove down to the DC area to have dinner with friends who live down there and to celebrate one of their birthdays. We technically ate dinner in Maryland, but just over the line because we must have parked in DC as when we started driving home our GPS welcomed us to Maryland, so we must have crossed over the line at some point. The weather was rainy and thunderstormy all day, so we were very much keeping an eye on the weather to see if we needed to shift our plans. Luckily the weather wound up cooperating, and it was a lovely night to eat dinner outside. I was also very excited when we got dessert and they told me that the apple hand pie on the menu had been replaced by a strawberry shortcake with cardamom ice cream. I love cardamom and was immediately sold. It was delicious.
Sunday night we had tickets to see Hadestown as part of season tickets to the local touring Broadway shows. Hadestown was actually the last show I saw on Broadway before COVID happened. I had very much enjoyed it then, and I had seen it with the original cast and wasn’t sure how well the touring cast was going to be able to live up to it. They did a pretty darn good job. I was particularly worried about Hades because I didn’t see how anyone could come close to living up to Patrick Page. He wasn’t as good, but I will say that the actor whose name I unfortunately don’t know did a pretty good job. He had a similarly deep, booming voice which I think was key.
For my final night of sociability, I have book club tonight. We read the book Remarkably Bright Creatures, which I loved. It’s really type of book we tried so hard to find to read during the last 5-7 years when everything has just felt terrible all the time in the real world but that we so very rarely were able to find. Something that feels light and clever, but that isn’t just complete fluff that leaves us nothing to discuss.
It was also a beautiful morning for our first outdoor church service of the season. I’m sure it will get cold again before we really settle into summer weather and we’ll have a few mornings when we’re shivering with the breeze off the harbor. Yesterday was absolutely perfect though.
Speaking of church I was sitting near a couple of pregnant women yesterday, and a little girl who is probably around 3 and half came up and was looking at their baby bumps, so one of them asked if she wanted to say hi to the baby. The little girl then gave her baby bump an elbow bump. It was adorable. I’m like you can tell this kid has been raised during a pandemic.
I don’t know why it delighted me so much, but it did. A couple blocks away from church while I was stopped at a light one of the guys on our worship team zoomed by me on one of those electric scooters that are left all over the city for you to rent.
One of my friends on Instagram kept posting stories about how she was already doomed to be humiliated by her Spotify Wrapped at the end of the year, so eventually I DM’ed her and said I must know what you’ve been listening to. So she she told me she better not be in the top 1% of Shaggy listeners. I responded with this joke, which I am inordinately proud of. “You: It wasn’t me. Spotify: Caught you red handed.”
Ross Gay has written a sequel to The Book of Delights, which is what got me into doing these delights posts in the first place. It’s called The Book of (More) Delights, go figure. I got a galley copy of it and am in the middle of reading it. In one of the delights in the book he shares that due to his original book people send him lots of mail in which they recount their own delights. One of them shared about their friends cat whose names is OREO Speedwagon, which was also a delight to him, and something he thought we should also know as to bring us delight. It did indeed delight me, and now I feel compelled to extend the delight to you.
We have a craft table at work that is covered in brown butcher paper that people draw and write on all the time. This morning I spotted that someone drew a heart on the table and inside of it said, “A proud dad brought his accepted daughter here for a visit.” I thought it was super sweet, and it put a smile on my face.
And now for your musical delights. First up the song “Nina Cried Power” by Hozier featuring Mavis Staples. I adore this song. I heard it this week for the first time in a while, and it made me very happy. Seeing them perform it together live is still one of my favorite Newport Folk Festival moments, and it takes a lot to make it towards the top of that list because there are so many darn amazing things I’ve seen over the past decade there. I was also delighted to discover that Mavis Staples is featured on a song on the new Abraham Alexander record, which I did not realize until I put my new vinyl on while I was doing the dishes and all of a sudden Mavis was singing to me.
And also the song “Heavenly Day” by Patty Griffin. I don’t have anything to say about. It’s just a song I love and heard this week.
This week’s delights are heavy on the music. Some weeks are like that.
Things are in bloom in Baltimore and everything is very pretty. Sherwood Gardens, which is known for its tulips, is pretty much in full bloom. It’s about a mile walk from my office, so I walked over on my lunch break a couple of times last week. Monday there were some tulip beds in bloom, but after a few days of really warm weather things had really exploded by Thursday. For some reason the tulip beds never all bloom at the same time, and it seems variable which ones come up first. Also, by the time all the tulips are up usually the daffodils, hyacinths, and cherry blossoms are gone. This year there seemed to be more overlap than normal, so it was a great time to see some pretty flowers.
Also speaking of cherry trees, my favorite cherry trees are now in bloom as well. The kwanzan cherry trees always bloom later than everything else, but they have these gorgeous full pink blooms that I love. I honestly don’t know enough about trees to be able to accurately identify all the different flowering trees we have around here, but there are a lot. It’s one of the things I love about where I live even if all the pollen is making me want to scratch my eyes out.
The new Broadway show Shucked had its opening night this past week. They invited Tariq, “the corn kid” to the show which is just awesome. So there’s some very cute video of him on the red carpet and giving his review after the show.
I’ve been making my way through the tv show Bluey despite the fact that I am a childless adult, and it is aimed at like five year olds. In a moment of serendipity I happened to put on an episode on Easter that was about Easter, so that was kind of fun even though any episode where Bingo is sad breaks my heart and Bingo was very sad in this one because she thought the Easter bunny forgot about her.
The Jason Isbell documentary, Running With Our Eyes Closed, premiered on HBO on Friday night. The filmmaker set out to make a documentary about him recording the album Reunions, and wound up getting a lot more in the process as COVID hit in the middle of the filming and Jason and his wife and sometimes band mate Amanda Shires hit a very rocky point in their marriage, which they do not shy away from in this film. They had been very open about it during all the press when the album came out, but it’s kind of different to actually watch it playing out on film than it is to just hear them tell about it. It’s shockingly raw and honest. There’s one point where Amanda is reading an email that she wrote to Jason about what was going on, and she’s literally physically shaking because she’s so upset. I do wish that I hadn’t learned that Amanda hates listening to the song “Cover Me Up”. I’ll never be able to hear it the same way again. I had always thought of it as this sort of great love song of them making it through his addiction, and him getting sober because he realized what a good thing he was going to mess up if he didn’t. I gather that’s how he sort of thought about it too, and then seems to find out during all of this that she actually hates it because it brings up a lot of bad memories for her. He still plays it at every show, so I guess they’ve worked through that at least enough. It’s definitely not going to be the same next time I see him play it live though. Since the documentary was shot in late 2019 and early 2020, their daughter Mercy was only 4 at the time. It was fun to see her so cute and teeny tiny again. I thought it was a great film, but as a huge fan I am not an objective observer. I don’t know how interesting it would be to anyone who is not already a Jason Isbell fan or just someone who is so into music documentaries they’ll watch one about anything.
I bought a used copy of the Peter Gabriel album So at a record bazaar a couple weeks ago. For reasons this weekend was the first time I actually got to put it on and listen to it. Man that is such a good album. Not really a bad song it, though I’ve never been the hugest fan of the song “Sledgehammer” even though it’s probably Peter Gabriel’s biggest hit.
And speaking of great music, I heard the song “Break It Down” by Tears for Fears on the radio. It’s such a good song and not one that people ever really seem to reference in relation to that band.
WXPN has a segment called “90s at 9”. Last week they were playing a bunch of songs that for some reason made me think they should be playing a Paula Cole song, and then they did. I very much appreciate that it was the song “Me” instead of one of the two Paula Cole songs that you actually know.
Happy first day of spring y’all. Now if someone would tell the weather that, I would appreciate it.
I shared last week that we used the at home pet euthanasia service, Peaceful Passage to put our cat down. At least that is who I thought we used until I received a sympathy card in the mail from Home with Dignity. When my husband called Peaceful Passage they did tell him that their vet was out the day we were looking for, but they would see what they could do and call us back. He got a call back and with a time for the next day, and we never thought twice about it. I guess Peaceful Passage must have contacted Home with Dignity on our behalf and we never realized it. Both were recommended to us by our normal vet, so we probably would have called them next ourselves anyway had Peaceful Passage just told us they were unable to come on Thursday, but it was really nice that they work together and just made it happen for us during a very difficult time and didn’t make us have to call multiple places on our own.
I very much enjoyed watching Robert Smith of The Cure fighting against Ticketmaster this past week even if I don’t get to bear any of the fruits of his labor since I sadly will be out of town when they play the Baltimore area. They really wanted the tour to be as affordable as possible for fans. They set ticket prices low with the lowest ones only being $20 without the fees, which is unheard of for a band of their stature these days. They refused to play any of Ticketmaster’s games refusing special Platinum pre-sale pricing and demand driven pricing. They also made it so the tickets can’t be transferred to anyone else, but can be resold for face-value only. That has been something I have been complaining about for years now that all these ticket companies have everything locked up in their mobile apps I’m like why can’t they do this. Turns out they can, they just don’t because they can make more money from taking a cut of the higher priced resale tickets too. Anyway, then when fans who got verified presale codes couldn’t get into to buy tickets Robert Smith made them release more tickets instead of hold them back for the general on sale. And finally when people started complaining that with the low base prices that the Ticketmaster fees were literally more than the face value of the ticket, he got them to refund people some of the fees and lower them for the few remaining tickets available for the general on sale. Amazing! I do realize that Ticketmaster’s willingness to acquiesce on some of these things comes as a result of their fiascos with the Taylor Swift and Beyonce concerts and being called to account in front of Congress, but I do appreciate Robert Smith trying to stand up for his fans and get them into The Cure shows at a reasonable price. I go to a lot of concerts, and they really have gotten hellishly expensive. It’s rare that once all the fees are added onto the already steep face value prices that I can get to a show for much less than $100 at any major venue, and I’m here to tell you that I’ve paid so much for some recently that I sort of felt sick and had a moment of instant regret after buying them even though I can afford it.
Actor Lance Reddick died this past week. It is not a delight that he’s dead, but it has been a real delight seeing the outpouring of love for him as an actor and apparently just a generally good guy all around. As a Baltimore native who is probably best known for his role as Cedric Daniels on The Wire, I knew he would get some love from people around here. He’s not an actor that you hear people talk about very much though, so I was surprised how much his death seemed to hit people on a much larger scale. So that was very lovely to see.
We went to see To Kill a Mockingbird as one of our season ticket shows at the Hippodrome on Friday night. The seats there are super small with almost no leg room, and thus pretty uncomfortable. There were a couple of really big broad, tall guys sitting in the back row of the section in front of us. At one point one of them even tried to move out and sit on the stairs because he was so uncomfortable, but the usher immediately came and told him that was a no go. The front row of the section we are in has lots of leg room because it sits in front of the aisleway separating the two sections. At intermission the people sitting in front of us in that front row offered their seats to those guys so they could be more comfortable, which I thought was really awesome. At least for about 30 seconds until those guys were actually in the seats and it was clear that at least the one in front of me had gone out and smoked weed during intermission which I could tell both based on the smell and the fact that he was super giggly at things that were not funny, repeating the lines of the play back, and talking to the character. Though I did actually laugh out loud when the character who was on trial was recounting how he as a Black man was going to go inside this young white girl’s house because she asked for some help and he was like don’t do it as if it was a horror movie and someone was about to do something really stupid. Luckily he did calm down after about 10 minutes or I would have been more annoyed. Add to that the woman who started shouting repeatedly, “this play sucks” shortly before intermission and the fact that people got confused about when the end of the play was and a bunch of people left at the end of a scene 10 minutes before the play was actually over and it was a very interesting night at the theatre.
My friend came over and hung out with me for a few hours on Saturday, and we put together a puzzle. A nice chill, relaxing afternoon.
Yesterday I got to go for a hike with my friend and her new puppy. She’s very cute and sweet. I was hoping that my foot was going to be okay because it has been bothering me less lately, but turns out not so much. I do in fact still need that appointment with the foot and ankle doctor that got pushed back from this past week until April. I’m still happy I got out and got some hiking in even if I’m paying for it now.
This past week has been a rough one as you many have already surmised if you’ve been reading this blog. It was very sad and stressful with having to put my beloved cat to sleep. I’m just really ready for the world to stop piling terrible things on top of me. I’m tired of my body hating me. I was supposed to finally have appointment with a food and ankle orthopedist today, but they said he had a medical emergency and rescheduled me so that isn’t for another whole month now. I still can’t eat like a normal human. And the rest of my life is feeling more and more stunted and I feel more and more insane as everyone else has moved on with their lives and I’m still out here trying very hard not to get COVID because my body already hates me enough right now. The last thing I need is long COVID or it setting off all the autoimmune disorders I have that are thankfully under control at the moment despite my body making it’s best efforts to beat me down in other ways. But as always there’s some good with the bad, so let’s move on to better things shall we?
Although losing Scout was terrible, and my house feels very lonely with no furry companion in it, if she was going to go I honestly could not have asked for anything to go better than it did. When she was first starting to not eat well I tried to make a vet appointment and they told me they didn’t have any openings for two weeks. After the weekend when it was getting harder and harder to get her to eat anything, I called them on Monday to find out if I should go ahead and take her the emergency vet if they couldn’t see me sooner. Our regular vet was able to squeeze us in that afternoon. And I found out later when I got an errant phone call that the original plan on their end was for me to drop Scout off on Tuesday morning and just have her sit at the vet until the doctor could fit her in between procedures. Luckily the scheduling person found us an actual appointment on Monday, so Scout didn’t have to be even more traumatized spending one of her final days trapped alone at the vet. It was also a great week for all of this to happen because I was working from home, which I rarely do, attending an online conference. It meant I was easily able to jump at the vet opening, and I got to spend lots of extra time with Scout in her last few days. It also meant I was easily able to take off work Thursday when we decided it was time. I was a little stressed that she was going to hold on a few days longer into the beginning of this week because things happening at work this week would have made it very difficult for me to take off. I didn’t want to put her down even a few days earlier than I thought was necessary, but when she had been appetite stimulants and pain killers for two days and was eating only a couple of bites of food it was very clear the time had come. We used an in home pet euthanasia service called Peaceful Passage. I would highly recommend them if you ever need to put a pet down. We called Wednesday morning and asked about doing it Thursday. They said the vet was supposed to be out that day, but they would call us back and see if there was any way to get someone out to see us. Apparently there was since they did find someone to send over Thursday morning. Scout just got to spend her final time with us lying on her favorite spot on the sofa. I’m glad she didn’t have to spend it stressed out at the vet, and that we all got to go through this in the comfort of our home. I hate that she’s gone, and I miss her so much but I’m happy she’s not in pain anymore and got to have a death that was as peaceful as possible.
I’m also grateful for everyone who reached out via texts and emails and for people who sent flowers and cookies. It’s all very much appreciated. My favorite thing was something called a Warmie that one of my friends dropped off. It’s a little stuffed animal (mine’s a dinosaur) that is filled with flax seed and lavender, and you can microwave it to snuggle with or to use on your aching body. I’ve used it for both. It’s very soft and furry, and it was the perfect remedy for all the pain I was having in my shoulders, neck, and jaw from all the stress and crying. I’ve had similar things in the past that are just sort of pillow shaped. I do feel a little sadistic putting this adorable creature in the microwave and watching his little face stare out at me as he spins around.
I went for a walk on Monday night after finding out that our days with Scout were probably very numbered to sort of clear my head. There was a gorgeous sunset in one direction and a big huge looking moon in the sky the other way. So that was kind of cool.
I mentioned this in my post about going to see Into the Woods, but I was also very delighted that we managed to get to our seats just as it was time for the show to start and that we didn’t miss the opening curtain despite the horrendous traffic on the way there.
Every year the Newport Folk Festival does a slow roll out of the artists that will be at the festival that year. They don’t do a big poster announcement drop like most festivals. They don’t even announce who will be there until after the tickets are already sold out. Anyway, you may recall the other week when I wrote about new music by Abraham Alexander I said in that post that I fully expected that I would see him at Newport one day. Well turns out that day will be this year. Four days after I wrote that post, they announced that he will be playing this year’s festival. I’m definitely excited to check him out live.
And now for your musical delight I have the song “Spotlight” by Jennifer Hudson. This song was one of the Heardle answers in the past week. It’s a song I never hear, but at one point back in my iPod days I apparently bought that single from iTunes. So on occasion when I drag out my old iPod Nano this song always comes up on it. It’s part of the time capsule of music trapped on that iPod from back in the mid-2000s.
Let’s start with a follow-up to one of last week’s items, circus animal cookies. My sister called me after she read my post last week to tell me that crazily she was in Target and bought some of the same cookies after not eating any for years and years just before reading my post. Like my nieces were asking her what they were because she never buys them. What are the chances?
The city fixed some of the sidewalks on our street last week. Technically property owners are responsible for their portions of the sidewalk, and my understanding is that if the city fixes it they will send you a bill. I don’t really understand how that’s okay since what if they fix your sidewalk and you can’t afford to pay for it. I also don’t understand how they decide what the city is going to fix since there are streets around here with way worse sidewalks than the ones on my block. Anyway, our next door neighbors section was on their list. They accidentally busted up one of the squares of our part of the sidewalk in the process and had to replace it too. I’m pleased about this because we paid to have our sidewalks redone years ago because they were super cracked up to and along the base of our house and I was worried water was going to seep into our basement. While the concrete was still drying some jerk wrote their initials + someone else’s initials in a heart in the wet cement. So I had to stare at that for years. I would bet a million dollars those people aren’t even together anymore. Well now that dumb heart that ruined my nice new sidewalk is gone because the single piece they had to replace where was where that was. I am going to be annoyed if the city sends us a bill for fixing something they broke. I will go fight it.
It was really nice outside several days last week. I went for a short walk after work one evening and there were just tons of people out enjoying. Kids were out playing on the sidewalks. Everything just felt very alive.
For the most part our neighborhood Facebook page is a pretty positive place. There’s always your random jerks who just have to try and provoke everyone and the occasional racism, but overall I find it a pleasant and sometimes even joyful place to be. This is in contrast to our NextDoor, which I had to leave. Not sure why the vibe is so different, but it is. Anyway, there were a couple of reminders of that this week. I saw a post with someone saying they found an abandoned upright bass, which they assume had been stolen and that they were looking for its owner. Then shortly after that saw a post with someone looking for their stolen upright base to which everyone responded with the first post. They were happily reunited. Someone also shared a post expressing that they had been feeling depressed and lonely, and the outpouring of support and suggestions for various groups to join and people offering to call him to join on walks with their dogs and just the general outpouring of support was really lovely.
I went to my first Super Bowl party since the start of the pandemic. It was really my first indoor party too. It was a little weird because I kept my mask on the whole time and ducked outside really quick to eat a plate of food, but it was fun to see a bunch of people I don’t see very often since my social life is still stunted. There were also people I haven’t seen since before the pandemic started as well. Quite possibly since the 2020 Super Bowl party. That included a whole 2 year old child who up until this point I have only met through Facebook photos.
I finished up my Invisalign treatment today. I feel like finished is a bit of a misnomer, since I still have to wear retainers all the time for what I think is 6 months. Eventually I’ll just be able to wear them to bed. But I literally have 4 different retainers plus a night guard I’ll be getting eventually. I have an Invisalign upper retainer I have to wear during the day. Then I switch to an old school retainer at night to fit with my night guard once I get it. I also have a permanent retainer on the back of my bottom teeth and have a different retainer I have to wear on the bottom at night until I get the night guard. So finished feels like a strong word. I feel like we’ve more just progressed to a new stage. I’ll really feel like I’ve finished when I can just wear all this junk to bed and my teeth can be free during the day. My orthodontist did give me a little bottle of champagne to celebrate. Since I can’t actually drink it, I sort of wanted to ask to trade it out for a prize from the wall of stuff kids earn fake money to buy things from. I refrained though.
I don’t really have much to report on the delights front this week. I am temporarily sidelined from my daily walks because I screwed up my foot, so I’m trying to be good and rest it for a couple of weeks. I hate not exercising, but better to get it under control now rather than injuring it worse and dragging it out longer. I realize that a lot of my delights come from things I observe on my walks, so without walks I’m a little short.
It was nice to have a three day weekend. All weekends should be three day weekends.
My favorite podcast, Make Me Smart came back from their winter break last week. It was nice to have some new episodes after they were off for almost a month.
January 11 was the two year anniversary of my #FlamingoADay project on Instagram. Back in January of 2021 I needed a little motivation to go out into the cold and dark to take walks, so I decided to start posting a photo a day of the flamingos I found in my neighborhood because there are a lot. I figured I would be able to do it for a couple of months, long enough to get me to spring. Little did I know that I would be able to post photos for just over two years. I posted my last flamingo today. There were several other times I thought I was running out of flamingos to post and more would always show up, especially when a decorating holiday like Halloween or Christmas came around. I even found 3 more new ones literally on the afternoon that I had already posted what I told people was my final post. I finished posting those photos today, and now I am officially out of flamingo photos. It was a fun little project that made me walk around streets in my neighborhood that I probably never would have bothered to walk on. And it seemed to bring joy to people. I’m going to miss it.
Gentlemen, take a seat. Ladies, let’s talk bras. For years and years I’ve been getting Facebook ads for Third Love bras. I absolutely do not trust any products I’m being advertised on social media, so I always just sort of ignored them. Plus they are more money than I generally want to spend on bras. Given I wear them more than almost any other clothing that I own, I probably shouldn’t be so chintzy, but why does a tiny piece of cloth cost so much? Anyway, I have rarely found bras that I feel like fit me well. The straps are always falling down, or they are just slightly too small, or slightly too big. Third Love finally got me to give them a try with a sale and selling me on their 1/2 sizes. I thought might as well give it a try. I can return them if they don’t fit. Turns out the 1/2 size was the key to my problem. They fit like everyone says a bra should. They clasp for me on the last hook. The cup covers my whole breast. The little piece of cloth between my breasts actually rests of my chest. The straps don’t fall down. I am not super in love with the fluted look of the straps on the t-shirt bra, which is what I bought. But no one else really sees them but me and my husband, and I can guarantee he does not care and would have no idea what I was talking about. So I should probably start throwing out some of my old ratty bras and upgrading them when I can snag these bras on sale.
And now for your musical delights
My husband got me a gift certificate to a local record store for Christmas so I can feed my new vinyl hobby. I’ve been enjoying finding cheap copies of old albums from the 70s and 80s. I popped over there after church last Sunday and managed to add a couple of Lionel Richie albums, a Steve Winwood album, a Loggins and Messina album, and an Expose album to my collection for not very much money. I feel like Expose weirdly got lost in the 80s and rarely shows up even in 80s music mixes despite having a double platinum album that had 4 top 10 hits including one that went to number one. I had the Exposure album on cassette as a child and loved it. I’m happy to have it again on vinyl this time.
My husband and I have been watching an old BBC show called the Detectorists. I’ll have more to say about the show whenever I write my next TV Diary post, but today I have the theme song for you because I have very much been enjoying hearing it every episode.
Happy Monday y’all. I know I’m going to hate that it gets dark so early now (it was so cloudy here yesterday it was hard to tell), but I did very much enjoy having light for my morning walk again this morning. For the past month or so my walk has been almost entirely in the dark. I know it won’t be long before we’re back to that. January is particularly bleak in that regard as some date in mid-January is the latest sunrise in Baltimore, but for now I’ll enjoy the light again. And let’s get into the rest of our delights.
The weather has been unseasonably warm in Baltimore since last Friday. I have very much been enjoying it and trying to take advantage of it because I think today is the last day it’s really warm, then we get a few middling days, and the long range forecast looks downright cold which I am not looking forward to.
There were a few days earlier last week that were also warm, so I suggested to my husband that we grab dinner at Blue Pit BBQ and eat outside at their picnic tables. Too bad I didn’t realize they were closed on Tuesdays, so we got there and no one was there to feed us. We wound up at Wicked Sisters instead since we know they have a nice big patio. In addition to the traditional Smith Island cake they always have a special flavor too. That night it was chocolate Oreo Smith Island cake, which I could not turn down. It was delicious.
I was out for a quick walk after work one day last week. There was a guy in front of me walking his dog. At the end of my block is a small warehouse type building for a company that makes industrial type paint coatings for things like vehicles and planes. Anyway, some guy was standing outside taking a break and I noticed that as the dog went by he gave him the one finger wave with his index finger that people do to animals sometimes. I thought it was sweet.
I had jury duty on Friday, which decidedly did not make me happy. Jury duty in Baltimore is a miserable experience. I hated being jam packed in the jury waiting rooms before COVID and I was especially not keen on it now. In Baltimore jury service is for one day if you don’t get picked for a trial or for however long your trial lasts if you do. I have heard tales from many people of just going to sit in the waiting room and then being let go for the day. I have in all the times I’ve gone to jury duty ever gotten to do that. I haven’t always been placed on the jury, but I have always at least had to go into a court room to go through the voir dire process where they pick the jury, which is so boring because you’re not allowed to do anything while they screen all the other potential jurors. This was the first time I have ever gotten dismissed without having to go into a court room. We even got let out early. We came back from lunch and they let us go like 10 minutes later. It was also a really nice day, so it was nice to walk from the courthouse down to the harbor and grab lunch and eat outside.
Speaking of that lunch. I went to Shake Shack and while I was there I saw lots of people wearing name tags and many of them had book related tote bags and just looked like librarians to me. So I looked up what was happening at the convention center and it turns out it was some combined conference for various agricultural and soil societies. So I was like guess I was wrong. Then later that night a friend shared photos taken at the Renaissance hotel right down the block from the Shake Shack, where there was apparently a symposium for the Young Adult Library Services Association happening. I knew it! Glad to know I can still spot a librarian in the wild.
It’s always a good weekend when blacksauce kitchen has their fried chicken with spicy honey biscuit on the menu. They have a stand at the farmer’s market we go to every weekend, but they also have a storefront that is open on Thursdays and Saturdays. Usually I just grab a biscuit sandwich at the market because we’re already there picking up food, but the fried chicken biscuit was at the storefront this week and not the market. So I skipped the line at the market and we stopped at the storefront on our way home.
I wanted to take advantage of the nice weather this weekend, so I dragged my husband up the fall festival happening at Star Bright Farm. They apparently have different events and concerts there. I’ve been getting Facebook ads for them for quite some time, but have never gone. I was hoping we could find some friends to go with us, but everyone was either out of town or sick. We still had a good time, though we just pretty much went for the music. They were having a beer release with a locally brewery for a blueberry sour beer that was made with blueberries from the farm. I can’t drink and that is not a beer my husband would drink, so we didn’t participate in that. There were some activities for small children, which we don’t have so we didn’t take advantage of that either nor did we get food from any of the vendors there. I did buy a couple of things from the farm store, but for the most part we just sat in the middle of a lavender field and listened to some music and people watched. I found it to be an enjoyable afternoon and would definitely go back for future events.
And for your musical delight this week we have the song “Stockholm” by Jason Isbell. It was the song that made me fall in love with him. Although he had several solo albums after he left the Drive-by-Truckers, Southeastern, which this song is from, was his first album after getting sober and the one that really started his career trajectory to where it is now. He’s apparently on a European tour right now, and his first show was in Stockholm this past week. He posted a photo from Stockholm on Instagram with the caption, Stockholm- you know the rest. It delighted me.
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.
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.