Last Week Delight

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 Delight: Beach Edition

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.

On Trying to Find Joy When You Don’t Feel It

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.

Last Week Delight

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.

Last Week Delight

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.

Last Week Delight

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.

Last Week Delight

It’s time again to share some of the things that have been bringing me moments of delight over the past week.

  • Cherry blossoms and daffodils. The first signs of spring are starting to appear with some of the cherry blossoms and daffodils starting to bloom. Baltimore is beautiful in the spring. Tons of people of daffodils and tulips in their yards and the city is covered in cherry trees, including babies of cherry trees (the originals have died) Al Capone gave to Union Memorial Hospital for treating him for syphilis.
  • Scout. My cat brings me delight in lots of ways, but two things this week that I took note of are how she sits like a little lady when she’s in sphinx pose. Most cats just sit with their two front paws straight out, but he always sits with hers crossed. It’s adorable. She also begs me for a lap when I come home from work every day. She’s an old, arthritic lady so she has stairs to get up onto the couch. She runs to the bottom of those stairs and then turns around and stares at me and meows until I go over to the couch and sit down so she can run into my lap. Usually she just hangs there for like five minutes, but one day this week she stayed for an hour.
  • Socks. I have lots of socks, and I like that I have all kinds of socks for different purposes. Fun, decorative socks. Athletic socks. Compression socks that I once bought for long plane trips, but which have become my outdoor, winter exercise socks because they’re tall and cover more of my leg. Warm, fuzzy socks for lounging around the house in the cold in. So many socks.
  • Return of the bike people. There are two guys that I often see on my morning walk who do a morning ride together. I usually see them right about the same place every morning when they’re splitting off to go back to their respective houses. It hadn’t even really occurred to me that I hadn’t seen them in awhile because presumably they weren’t riding in the winter cold until I saw them again this week and I was like the bike people are back!
  • Kimberly Adams announced as the new Make Me Smart podcast co-host. I was super sad (and still am) when Molly Wood announced she was leaving Marketplace and thus also the Make Me Smart podcast. It seemed like all the listeners assumed that Kimberly Adams would be named the new co-host because she was the go-to fill-in when either Kai or Molly were out, but for the last few months instead of they’ve just had a rotating cast of Marketplace people co-hosting. I was starting to think that was the new plan since so many other podcasts I listen to have started doing that in recent years. I don’t love it because one of things I like is the sense of listening to friends sitting around chatting on a topic because a rapport and inside jokes and things build up over time that just doesn’t happen when you’re constantly rotating hosts. So I was pleased when they did in fact make Kimberly official this week, and she immediately proved my point. There is a long running joke about her getting Kai to watch the movie The Neverending Story because it came up one time somehow that he had never seen it when she was filling in, and he promised that by the next time she filled in he would have watched it. He did not, and still never has. After the announcement that she was the permanent co-host he asked what she was looking forward to and she responded getting him to finally watch The Neverending Story. That’s the kind of content I’m here for.
  • I like the tv show Million Little Things. I like dramas that are just about people living life. This week was one of their best episodes ever. It has a pay off for people wanting one of the central couples who have been broken up to finally get back together. It had a hi-larious scene with another character trying to tell his wife that the previously mentioned couple kissed while they were sitting across from them and the other guy one of those characters was still dating. And I liked that it subverted the expectation that yet another character who found out that his recent ex-wife was dating another woman was going to be all upset about it and instead had him be very supportive also in some amusing ways. It was a delightful episode.
  • Daylight Saving Time. I don’t love the abrupt time change, but I do love having more light at the end of th day. Oddly I’m also looking forward to it being darker for my morning walks again. I like going out while it’s still dark and being out during the sunrise. In recent weeks I’ve been up after first light. That will change for a little bit again until the days get longer.

And now for your musical delights of the week.

  • The do-do-do-do-do part of Suite: Judy Blue Eyes by Crosby, Stills, and Nash. It’s a 7 and half minute song and that part only shows up with less than a minute left in the song, but it’s the part of the song that everyone knows, and it’s so fun to sing along to. I have no recollection of the first time I heard that song, but kind of wish I did remember the first time I must have experienced that little jolt of surprise when it happened, but now I just enjoy the long anticipation of knowing it’s coming and waiting for it.
  • Chvrches with Robert Smith at the NME Awards. Robert Smith was featured on the song “How Not to Drown” on Chvrches most recent album. He joined them to sing the song at the NME Awards and then they also sang “Just Like Heaven” together in the most delightful way. I love how they turned it into a duet with Lauren Mayberry singing the parts of the song that are written from a woman’s perspective but Robert Smith still singing the “she said” lyric. Perfect. There was some tiny, tiny rumor that was probably just that, that they might tour together. I would go anywhere and pay any amount of money.

Last Week Delight

As promised I’m going to try to write a weekly post of the delights I’ve found over the past week or so. In his book Ross Gay talked about becoming a delight hoarder, and I sort of already feel like that. One it can sometimes feel like there are too many, and two I feel like I shouldn’t share them all because then what if I don’t have anything to write about in the future. I’m going to try not to hoard my delights because no matter the worry, there will always be more. I mean some of these are completely silly little things, but they gave me a little moment of joy, and I appreciated that the extra second I stopped to actually think to myself this is a delight gave them just a little bit more power for good in my life than they would have had if I had just thought about them in a more passing way. So I would say week one of this little experiment has been a success. Hopefully I will continue with the practice.

  • The Name of This Series. I appreciate a good pun. I don’t know that this is actually a good pun, but it pleases me. In case you haven’t figured it out, Last Week Delight is a riff on John Oliver’s HBO show, Last Week Tonight.
  • Long overdue library books being returned. News loves a good story about library books being returned decades after they were due. My library got back some books that have been gone so long technically they belonged to the women’s college that was merged with my current university when it went co-ed. I got to be interviewed about the story. It was kind of fun.
  • I missed my first Wordle last week. It was a very sad day, but also I appreciate that the word I missed was NASTY, and that’s what it felt like. Especially since I had the ASTY part of the word, but there are too many words that start that way. I guessed PASTY, TASTY, and HASTY, and then ran out of guesses. Nasty indeed.
  • Cheerleading others. I was just noticing on my social media last week how many musicians I follow are constantly cheering each other on and how many local restaurants I follow cheer on other local restaurants even people doing the same thing they do and could be considered their competition. For example a new patisserie opened in my neighborhood recently and another popular bakery has been promoting them. It’s nice to see people trying to lift each other up instead of tear each other down for a change.

And now we turn to a litany of music related things that brought me delight. If you didn’t figure out that music would feature heavily in this, you must be new here.

  • The artist GAYLE has a pop punk song that is very popular right now called abcdefu. Most songs that have multiple versions because of language are usually labeled something like explicit and clean or radio edit. It gave me great delight to see that hers are labeled abc (nicer) and abcdefu (angrier).
  • Someone posted a video from Rick Beato’s YouTube series on “What Makes This Song Great” featuring the song “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears. It’s one of my all time favorite songs, so I watched it, and then wound up going down a YouTube rabbit hole of a bunch of his past videos. He breaks down the songs isolating the individual tracks and instruments to talk about the interesting things each part is doing in the song. As someone who has zero musical talent, I’m always fascinated by this kind of stuff because it’s like magic to me that people think of any of this stuff.
  • Even though I don’t live in Philly, I am a big fan of the University of Pennsylvania radio station, WXPN, which I stream all the time particularly while I’m working. Helen Leicht was their long time mid-day host and a fixture in Philadelphia radio for 50 years. She’s been in and out the past few years with some medical issues, so it wasn’t a huge surprise when they announced that she wouldn’t be returning to the station. It is sad, but it’s been nice listening to all the tributes they’ve been doing and thinking about all the artists she’s introduced me to over the past 20 years that I’ve been listening. It kind of blew my mind when I stopped to think about how long I’d been listening to her on the radio as well.
  • I still listen to the radio on my commute. On most days it’s about 3 songs long. That is of course if it’s a good day, and I find songs I want to listen to, and I don’t spend most of my commute just flipping between stations trying to find actual music or a song I want to listen to. Some days I judge how good of a day I think it’s going to be based on the quality of my commute music. I hit the jackpot one day last week because not only did I get three good songs in a row, they were also great 80s/90s tracks that I could sing loudly off-key to while I was driving, and what’s better than that? In case you were wondering the songs were “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by the Proclaimers, “Maneater” by Hall & Oates, and “Never” by Heart.

The Book of Delights

I recently finished reading The Book of Delights by Ross Gay. He spent a year writing a daily essay about something that day that brought him delight. It sounds more inspirational and treacly than it actually is. His delights are often things that most of us would not necessarily think of as delights, and he often spun off into other thoughts from his original delight. This book was the 2021 One Maryland, One Book selection. One of my book clubs usually reads whatever that is every year, but we skipped this one because it was essays, and that didn’t seem great for a book club discussion. I still agree with that assessment, but I’m glad I watched a virtual event Ross Gay did where I work because it made me want to read the book and I’m so very glad I did. It earned a rare 5 stars from me on Goodreads.

All that is a set-up to say that reading the book reminded me a little bit of the original intent of this blog that I have very much gotten away from. Even though the book was not designed to be an inspiration, it has encouraged me to start looking for more little delights as I go about my day. I’m not saying I’m going to write an essay every day, and whatever I write is certainly not going to be as eloquent or profound as what Ross Gay was writing, but I want to try and commit to writing at least one post per week that shares some of the delights I’ve seen throughout the week.

Here’s a few things from the past week:

  • Last weekend we were in Lewes, Deleware. Every few hundred yards along the beach by where we were staying is a public beach access path. It seems like the people who live there just leave their beach gear at the end of whatever path that they use. There were all kinds of things like kayaks and beach chairs that people had just left out there. It felt like a nice bit of trust in the goodness of people that they could leave their stuff out there and no one take it. There feels like so little of that in the world in these days. It was a nice reminder that there can be something better.
  • Little kids jumping in mud puddles. My friend and I went hiking this weekend and the trail was pretty muddy in parts. We were trying our hardest to stay out of it the whole time, but right as we were getting ready to exit the trail we came across a family with some little kids just jumping around in the mud like it was the best thing ever. I didn’t go start jumping in the mud, but perhaps a little nudge to every once in awhile forget about the aftermath (when it’s not causing anyone harm of course) and just enjoy the moment. Those kids certainly weren’t thinking about the mess their parents were going to have to clean up or how they were probably ruining their shoes. They were just living in the moment enjoying the feeling of squishing around in the mud.
  • A tiny mailbox. I walked by a house with a tiny mailbox attached to their fence post yesterday. I don’t know why it’s there. I don’t know what it’s for. Certainly not mail, as nothing mail sized would fit in it. I hope whatever reason it’s there is for fun. Even if it’s not, it made me smile.
  • A banner for Penny’s last day of cancer treatment on 2-22-22. I don’t know who Penny is. I just happened to walk by a house that had this banner strung across the porch. What could be a greater delight than getting to celebrate someone vanquishing cancer, hopefully for good.

Banana Pants

If you’ve read any of my Most Memorable Pop Culture posts that I write at the end of every year, you’ll know that my favorite podcast over the past several years has been Make Me Smart. As far as I know I haven’t convinced anyone else to listen, but I still love it and think the rest of you all are just missing out. Anyway, one of the hosts of the podcast, Molly Wood, often refers to things that she thinks are crazy as banana pants. It was a term she used a lot in reference to the whole We Work IPO debacle, but it’s also been used in reference to lots of other things too.

Make Me Smart is a podcast produced under the umbrella of American Public Media’s Marketplace. Since it’s a publicly funded radio program they get some of their support through fund drives throughout the year. Whoever is in charge of the fund drive swag is really good at their job. They make great fund drive gifts related to their mothership radio show and the podcasts that have come out of it the past several years. I already wrote about some of my other favorite gifts in my sock market is not the economy socks and my super market is not the economy reusable grocery bag. I did not get it, but they also recently had a KaiPA pint glass, so named after Marketplace and Make Me Smart host Kai Rysdaal who loves IPAs and is always talking about them on the show and drinking them during the Economics on Tap Friday happy hour taping of the podcast.

In their most recent fund drive they ran with Molly’s frequent use of the phrase banana pants and created some literal banana pants. I recently got mine in the mail, and I love them. I’m going to be spending a lot of time in them this winter. They are super comfy, and they make me smile. They even have pockets! I even manifested some more merch. Last night as I was wearing my banana pants and my sock market is not the economy socks I was thinking to myself that now I just need a shirt to complete my ensemble. Then what do you know today I get an email telling me about new t-shirts they have made as merch unrelated to fund drives. I of course bought one immediately.

The banana pants are also now a little bit bitter sweet as Molly Wood just announced last week that she is leaving Marketplace and Make Me Smart for a new job at the end of November. She’s done a lot of reporting on climate change over the past several years, which has led to her new job. She is leaving journalism to go work for a venture capital firm dedicated to raising money to fund technology aimed at being climate change solutions. I am super sad that she is leaving. The podcast will continue, and I of course am still going to listen but it won’t be the same. Molly and Kai have the best podcast co-host energy. There have been many times over the years where one or the other of them hasn’t been there due to vacations or other work commitments and there was a guest co-host. It didn’t matter which one of them wasn’t there it just never felt as good to me as when they were hosting together. I know I’ll continue to enjoy the podcast, but I don’t think it will ever be able to be what it was without both Molly and Kai there.

I guess I’ll just have to sit around in my banana pants and remember the good times.