Blue Angels Plane Between Buildings at Park & Centre

wpid-20140913_154555.jpgThis weekend was the Star Spangled Celebration, Baltimore’s party in honor of the bicentennial of the Battle of Baltimore near the end of the War of 1812. Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner that night (or inspired by that night), and even though it didn’t become the national anthem until 1931, you’d think the way we’ve been acting these days that the country was founded that very night by this very song. I’ve been super interested in how we remember this unmemorable war since I started biking out to Chalmette National Battlefield, where they act like the war was the birth of a happy multiracial country just because Creole folks fought alongside Jean Lafitte (not just a pirate–a slave trader, but they always leave that part out) at the Battle of Orleans. Then I got to Baltimore, where the Battle of Orleans is a footnote and the whole war is about this one battle and the flag and the song. Continue reading

Tent and Safety Barrel Under the JFX at Gay & Fallsway

Tent and Safety Barrel Under the JFX at Gay & FallswaySpring has sprung, and that means the return of the Farmer’s Market under the JFX in downtown Baltimore. That’s on Sunday, though, so on Saturday I walked up to the year-round Waverly Farmer’s Market with N., both of us aspirationally dressed–it wasn’t nearly as warm as we though it should be, apparently. That didn’t stop me from wearing the same outfit for an afternoon ride down to Pigtown to celebrate A. and K.’s impending baby–I can’t wait to get her her first balance bike! So yeah, it was a chilly and super-windy ride, worth it, though, to feel air on naked legs as my skirt blew back in the breeze. Continue reading

Barkus Parade Readying to Roll From Louis Armstrong Park

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Everything predicted thunderstorms Sunday, but Brompty and I had things to do, and I mistakenly believed my jacket was waterproof, so we headed out between downpours for a ride to Broadmoor to see M. and D.’s new digs, including–so awesome–the baby’s room. It was an easy ride, retracing old steps on new bike lanes. I remember when the very first bike lane was installed in the city, and now the are everywhere. And there’s a new streetcar line, though that one doesn’t make much sense until you remember the Super Bowl was here. Infrastructure’s improved for industry, not residents (and this certainly isn’t just a NOLA thing), and here the industry is tourism. And I’m a tourist now, enough to get lost crossing under the I10 and just avoiding a dead end to the freeway on ramp. I took the bike lane on MLK and smaked left on Galvez, happy to have friends who moved to a neighborhood I never got to explore much. I overshot my right, dead-ended and turned around, and finally got my muddy no-fenders self to their door for breakfast and catch-up. Afterward, and after another downpour, it was back on the bike to Mid City to see R. and her new digs.all the bike lanes and streetcars in the world can’t help with this coty’s lack of drainage, so it was all avoiding puddles and small lakes there and then after back to the Treme. I meant to head straight back to S.’s house, but then I saw the dogs, so many dogs lined up for Barkus, rolling late due to weather. I remember when this was an upstart, and it still is, I guess, even if Bud Light signs welcomed me to it. And you can’t just join the parade; I watched a volunteer close the gates of Louis Armstrong park on a rather stunned gentleman and his pocket pooch. You need a “marching pass” to join a walking parade? Wow. And then the skies opened up again–my luck had run out. 20 minutes standing in the rain and it was time to thow on the towel. I pedaled “home,” a soggy mess, happy to have seen some old friends–people, pets, and problems.

Nearly-Empty Chips and Dips Display at the Safeway at 25th & Charles

Nearly-Empty Chips and Dips Display at the Safeway at 25th & CharlesSunday’s ride was another in unseasonably warm weather (or maybe the cold has been unseasonable? I have no idea if seasonality still has meaning anymore), this time down to the Inner Harbor to meet N. for lunch before our trip to the Wedding Experience, Day 2. There were dresses and cake samples and lots of stares–which one’s the bride? (neither!)–and then it was time to walk back, her to her car, and me to my bike to meet again at the grocery. Walk+car was about equal to biking, but I’ll call myself the winner, because hey, I’m the one writing this. Anyway, a trip to the grocery store on Super Bowl Sunday is an excellent reminder of how many of us are doing the same thing at the same time, even if we’re not doing it together. Continue reading

Yellow Flowers on Guilford in Charles Village

Yellow Flowers on Guilford in Charles VillageSaturday was crispy cold and Sunday promised snow, so I dragged myself out of a cozy bed for a walk over to Waverly to check out the farmer’s market. I thought about taking the bike, but sometimes you’re in the mood for a slow amble, time to stop and smell the flowers, like these yellow ones resisting winter to their very last petal. The market was almost empty by the time I got there, so I did a quick tour and then hit the local book/music store to shop for records, a new favorite pastime now that N. moved her record player into my place (along with herself). I picked up an array of holiday records for the house–if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, and I was never going to beat the mad love of Holiday out of this girl–and then slowly ambled back home. And then it was time for a bike ride. I suited up with all my winter gear and headed over to Hampden and through the main drag to the bottom of that hill on the other side and just to the left for the first holiday craft party of the season, at the Baltimore Free Farm and Bearings Bike Project over on Ash Street. The place was warm and filled with papercuts and homemade cards and jewelry and holiday ornaments made out of twisted bike spokes and I helped myself to a glass of mulled wine mixed with apple cider, caught up with friends I haven’t seen in awhile, felt awfully lucky that even though it’s no Mardi Gras, there’s still the feel of festival in the air, and then got back on the bike for a quick ride home. Sunday is all snow and sleet, but Saturday–Saturday was the perfect day to be outside and catch one last glimpse of the neighborhood flowers. Now let’s hope this snow melts by Tuesday so we can get another ride in.

Smoothie Bicycle at the Baltimore Convention Center

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I finished up a week of big projects on Thursday afternoon, leaving me the rest of the day to ride my bike around. I packed everything I figured I’d need through the evening and headed down the hill to the convention center to check out Natural Products Expo East, the largest showcase of natural products on the east coast (Expo West, in Anaheim, is even bigger). I locked up the bike to the bike rack shaped like a bike and headed to the press room where I squatted until they gave me a press pass. And then the expo. When they say “the largest” they mean really flipping huge. It was a giant smorgasboard of samples of things I didn’t know I wanted–potato chips made out of white beans, noodles made out of water and plant cellulose (“Zero points on Weight Watchers!), organic non-GMO gluten-free lube (ok, I made that up), and the list goes on and on and on. Oh, and there was this bicycle that can make smoothies while you pedal–no thanks, I’d rather go somewhere on my wheels. I was there for three hours and maybe saw a tenth of the place. I left with a bike bag filled with all kinds of natural goodies and headed back up the hill, a stop at MICA. For Ignite Baltimore, and then home, glad for a day of peeking behind a curtain I didn’t know existed.

Dancers at Federal & Calvert

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I spent this most delightful first fall Sunday working on a big project due on Monday and thinking about the exceedingly lovely weekend I had. Oh, and how much I needed a bike ride. So I finished up a draft of the thing in front of the Ravens game, and then it was time to get on the bike for a ride. I headed down the hill to see if I could luck into an Akimbo performance before going somewhere south and east. A volunteer handed me a map, and I snaked my way around to the park at Federal and Calvert to catch the Effervescent Dance Collective. Their performance was delayed by a sea shanty singing quartet that is probably funny if we’re all friends and we’ve had a few (in which case I have no doubt they are amazing), and I wondered about the location of the dancing. And then they danced, and I couldn’t stop smiling, thinking about how clever they were, how free and happy they helped us feel–like when Lily matched her breath to the beat of being pulled up from the water, a sly look–oh, it was so good. I thanked them after–“You just made me so happy inside, thank you”–and then it was back on the bike. I passed a tent on the sidewalk across from the city fueling station on Fallsway. I wondered about why the tent owner’s reclaiming of public space will undoubtedly be criminalized, the home torn down, while the dancers will make me feel just so happy inside. Are we worried the tent is privatising our public space? But wouldn’t we want public space to be used by those with the need for it–I want that in case I need it at some point. Or have we gone so far with our love of private property that we can’t imagine a use that wouldn’t in some way declare ownership? I thought about those and other things on the rest of my ride, over to The Shops at Canton Crossing (it’s still just a Target), up through Brewer’s Hill and down through Highlandtown, up and over and up and over through so many neighborhoods with so many people loving this cooler still-sunny weather. Ravens win!