Small Bench at the End of Kirkey Court in South St. Louis


35 degrees is a whole lot warmer than 25 degrees, so I took advantage of the Christmas Day heatwave for a bike ride around South St. Louis County while the family all took the afternoon naps you have to take when there’s a Christmas morning with an almost-6 year old and an almost-4 year old in the house. I took a left and then every right I could until the No Outlets pushed me left and across the main drag to explore the other side’s subdivisions. It was quiet with few cars and just the occasional kid throwing a holiday football or a grown up taking out the trash (Americans generate something like 68% more trash in Christmas week than a regular week). I said my how-you-doin’s, but this isn’t the same kind of south, so I mostly got the cold shoulder, except for the one lady working ahead of the game and taking down her garland: “Did you get that bike for Christmas?” Good guess, lady, but nope, just out for my Christmas bike ride! Pedal, pedal, pedal, every street looked the same, every cul de sac the same three or five house curve. I snapped this picture in the Kirkey one and wondered if anyone ever sits on this tiny bench, and what would they think if they came out of their house and some stranger was sitting there. I wonder if this is just for show. I popped out at one of this regions many finer strip malls, sat in front of the closed Starbucks in a chair that wasn’t even locked down (we’re not in Baltimore anymore!), and made a phone call while waving away the many folks who hoped to get a cup of coffee out of the house only to be thwarted by holiday closings. Wanting to escape family seems to be a universal response to seeing family, no matter how much we love them. And then I rode home, snaking around one development after another, learning the hard uphill-ride lesson that the developments won’t let you cross over–if you don’t live in Assumption Hills or whatever, you are just going to have the hard pedal up the long hill to get out and take a left again. It took awhile, but I found the house that was full of my set of sleeping grown ups and faking-it kiddos and settled in for more screen-staring, together. Best Christmas ever!

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.

Christmas Decorations at a House on Poplar & Highview in Arbutus

Christmas Decorations in a Yard on Poplar & Highview in Arbutus Day two of the multimodal commute was so much easier than day one–isn’t that always the way? I loaded up my bag with work stuff, lugged Brompty downstairs, unfolded it in a jiff, and zipped down the hill. It was the kind of cold that makes your eyes blur dangerously. Oh, wintertime. The conductor from yesterday’s train recognized me and pointed me to a train car that would open at the Halethorpe station, and when it did it was just a quick unfold and pedal up the hill and down and up again to campus. Continue reading

Bonfire in a Yard in Waverly

Bonfire in a Yard in WaverlToday’s ride was a short one after a lovely, lazy holiday day with S. and her family in Damascus. I fought all my instincts to stay on my couch under layers of blankets and cats to get on the bike and ride the mile or so to Waverly and this, J.’s Christmas Bonfire. S. played her banjo, J. kept up filled with warm cider and whiskey, and the rest of us provided cheerful company. I stayed until I was too cold and tired to stay any longer, and then I rode home on silent empty streets, my face stinging with the night chill. Even the bar up the way was closed tonight. It was all quiet out there tonight as I pedaled along–my favorite moment of this surprisingly nice holiday.

Poinsettias at the Whole Foods on Fleet at Harbor East

I have been away at another conference, this time in San Juan, Puerto Rico where it was warm and humid–easy weather for dressing this girl who is still stocked for living in New Orleans. I had a good trip seeing friends and colleagues, thinking and talking about new ideas, staring at the ocean and swimming in it, and maybe gambling some pennies away, but oh boy, was I happy to come home to Baltimore. Continue reading

Christmas Palm at Chestnut and Delachaise

Christmas Palm It is Christmas time in New Orleans, and everywhere else.  I haven’t really felt much in the holiday mood lately.  This is only my second Christmas here, and I’m just not used to the near-80 degree temps in December, though I enjoy them.  Continue reading