Monday, June 30, 2008

So it begins...

I was driving through town on Saturday June 28th and saw this: Yes, those are lawn chairs on the side of the road. Yes, they are tied together and secured to whatever is handy - street sign, fire hydrant, telephone pole, whatever. Why? you may ask. It is the weekend before July 4th, people and here in the suburb disguised as a small town we take the annual July 4th parade VERY seriously. You always know when the last week of June has hit because the chairs start to mysteriously appear along the main street. I've never actually seen someone tying up their camp chair, but they crop up like mushrooms. Once there is one it is like a frenzy. I love see watch the cleverness of attachment and the variety of chairs yep, that's a park bench. and apparently a long plank with legs. This appeared in front of a local doctor's office right near the end of the route I am hoping that is the Grand Stand, but i am really afraid that these people just OWN a set of bleachers for the parade. I'm not kidding; this parade is serious business. I'm just glad that my street runs into the parade route so that i can just walk to it.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Pile of Craft

Last Saturday Kate P and I went on little field trip downtown; she had found out about a craft fair and asked me along. How can you say no to anything called Yes, you read correctly, it was "Pile of Craft 08" presented by Charm City Craft Mafia. It was held at Saint John's Church which apparently still houses a small Methodist congregation, but is mostly used as a concert and art venue. The church is in a state of disrepair/repair (depending on how you look at it) which means that there is cool exposed concrete on the walls. The vendors were local artists set up all through the old sanctuary and the old fellowship hall. The pictures don't even begin to capture how cool the atmosphere was with the vaulted ceilings, big pillars, stained glass and home-made art. Kate and I toured all of the booths and then went back to make purchases. There were a lot of people there from the Baltimore Etsy Street Team and others showing clothes, tiles, jewelry, illustrations, dolls, housewares, pottery, books and other arts/crafts that defy explanation. It was awesome to be surrounded by so much local art. I really liked that a reoccurring theme was renewal and recycling. The buckles made from an old refrigerator company were particularly cool. There were also a lot of children's clothes and accessories made from vintage adult clothes. After a bunch of browsing i had to have a snack. Behold the Brimley Bar from Brunie's Bakery: named after Wilfred Brimley cause "if you aren't diabetic before you eat it , you will be after" ( i love that when the baker told me that explanation she both laughed and looked a little embarrassed at the same time) Kate bought mini Key Lime Pies from the same place, which specializes in all vegan confections. Let me tell you, that 7 layer brownie thing was YUMMY; you'd never know that the chocolate or the "sweetened condensed milk" contained no milk. I was on a strict budget, so i only bought 2 things besides my snack. At Tiger Lilly there was jewelry made from vintage fabrics and kimonos. There wasn't any purple, but i did fall in love with this burgundy whale ring Just as we were getting ready to leave we revisited Underneath my Tree and i was captivated by this little lion He's a wee magnet and i love how he looks little, but happy at the same time. He is comfortable that he is a tiny King of Beasts. I imagine he considers himself fierce : I'm a lion! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Definitely a good time was had by all. And you can't beat the price of admission : free BTW, the Crafty Bastards! Arts & Crafts Fair, hosted by the Washington City Paper is tomorrow, Saturday, June 28, 2008 from 10am to 5pm in Silver Spring.

"Frieze of Doves"

I am a big supporter of art in unusual places. I generally enjoy the idea of public art even if i don't care for the art piece itself. But WHAT in tarnation is this? That would be a ledge of stone doves on the outside of today's library. Stone doves. In alarmingly accurate detail Why? Who thought, The library needs some art on it. How about some doves? I know : life-like dove butts! Are people so naturally drawn to doves that they merit placement on a public building, like a library? From a distance they look like a ledge of giant albino pigeons. Plus, the doves are a weird size, cause they are bigger than real-life, but not by much. You would think, especially in a public art forum, that the artist would have gone for exact size to highlight the realism or super big to highlight the fact that they're stone. Here's team member Lindsey to give you a size reference. Doves. Somebody thought of this. Somebody commissioned this. Somebody made money on this. And if you happen to live in Montgomery County, MD you'll be happy to know that your 1991 tax dollars probably paid for this.

Baltimore sighting

This is a city of interesting and completely eclectic architecture. Things are torn down, built, remodeled and recreated constantly. This little house made me smile. Do you think it feels protected by its big tall neighbors?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Utilities included

Why? Why would anyone want to live in an abandoned supermarket? The ample free parking? The payphone installed by your front door (which has a convenient motion sensor on it)? This is not a place to live, people, it is a place to shoot an episode of Scooby-Doo.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Completely Irresponsible Side Note

If you are looking for a cheap thrill here are a few simple steps: 1. Seriously lower your alcohol tolerance by basically giving it up except in rare social circumstances. 2. Drink a couple of rum and cokes by the pool in the middle of a hot afternoon on an empty stomach. 3. Ride the DC Metro during Friday evening rush hour. Wow. It is like an amusement park inside of your head. The physical and mental experience of trying to just NOT FALL DOWN when there are no seats is worth the price of admission. And the people watching is incredible. I mean, Metro is always full of the craziest people, but tipsy they are hilarious. Thanks to the lady in the navy dress with the white flip-flops who gave me 3 stops worth of contemplation : was the second toe on her left foot just curled under or actually deformed? (BTW people, perhaps you shouldn't wear open shoes if you have ugly or freaky feet and NO ONE should wear flip flops except at the beach - man, i hate those things) Of course, you will want to remember to drink plenty of water to recover from your excursion. And have a sober buddy to make sure you get off at the right stop. NOTE : the previous message should not be viewed as an endorsement of drinking, public tipsiness, irresponsibility, rum, pools, weird feet or public transportation.


Ya know what's better than going to work? Spending a sunny Friday afternoon by the pool. Wow. Can you say pasty white girl who needs some sun? Spending a sunny Friday afternoon by the pool, drinking rum. Spending a sunny Friday afternoon by the pool, drinking rum, with the fabulous Miss Colleen. (no, of course i didn't call her on Thursday and convince her to ditch work to spend the day with me; that would be wrong) Screw you work. [not really; i'll be back on Monday, i promise]

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Hills are Alive

Thursday night AVAM launched its Flicks from the Hill summer series inspired by their current exhibition All Faiths Beautiful, with one of my favorites The Sound of Music. I've never gone to Flicks from the Hill before and it was fun, fun, fun. Co-worker Lydia had come on the road with me as my adult safety partner (did i mention that we've started the summer season not one but two performers short?!?) and she told me about the screening. I sat with her, her boyfriend, his parents and her roommate. Just like any outdoor theater people bring blankets and chairs and picnics, but there has to be a twist since it is at AVAM : the screen looks like it is being held by a giant golden hand protruding from the building When i found Lydia and her group we noticed nuns milling about : nuns handing out lyric sheets Oh yes, it was the SING-A-LONG version of Sound of Music And there was singing, yes there was. Imagine one whole side of Federal Hill (non-Baltimoreans who have at least visited the city : that's the big hill overlooking the Inner Harbor with the ginormous flag on it that is directly behind my museum; other non-Baltimoreans : trust me, its a big hill) covered with people belting out show tunes. I think that the crowd was the loudest on "My Favorite Things" though "So Long, Farewell" was pretty rocking. No... "Do, Re, Mi" was sung rather lustily as well. I loved that people really got into it, cause you know i was singing my little heart out. Gatherings like this always bring out the most interesting cross-section of people. At one point we noticed a group of people dressed in crazy Alpine attire, complete with blonde wigs. Turns out that they were not just really into the movie; they were from the performance group Fluid Movement and they were handing out fliers to advertise their upcoming water ballet. Yes, i did say water ballet. Man, i love this city. And the very best part was that i realized that i actually knew one of the Helgas; it was co-worker Katie If you have a Thursday night free i encourage you to catch a Flick from the Hill. You can even get into AVAM for free from 5-9 before the screening. Who says you have to spend money to have a good time?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Your epidermis is showing, buddy

It is never a dull moment around here. Erin called from the Security desk saying, "Come up here now." I grab a first aid kit and my camera, assuming that it has to be cool or blood (or both, of course). There was a guy walking around the harbor whose body had been painted to look like a plastinate. How cool is that? It took 6 hours to paint his entire body, except for the white speedo he was sporting for propriety's sake. Unfortunately he had already put his shorts by the time i got upstairs (he was on his way home) but even still ya gotta admit that it is a bit like the poster had come to life.

Your engine might be exploding, or not

I really don't like the "check engine" light. It worries me. I mean, the engine is the heart of the car; without it, you're pretty much screwed mobility-wise. Plus it glows that unnatural yellow-orange color that just speaks of toxic waste and doom. I really don't like it. When it goes on in my car or one of the work vehicles it makes my heart palpitate. But what bothers me above all else about the "check engine" light is that it is so non-specific. It could be your O2 sensor. It could be your gas cap. It could be your transmission. It could be dust on the computer chip. There is no way to know WHAT the light means without going to the dealer to get it checked. Last Friday, on the way to the gym, the "check engine" light came on. After my trainer thoroughly beat me for an hour or so i stopped at the Hyundai dealership and had them check it. Gas cap. Yep, gas cap. Apparently i was venting gas fumes. That seemed odd, but i reasoned that since i wasn't the last one to put on my gas cap (Matt got gas on the way back from Philly) I didn't actually know that it was on tight enough. The nice guy from the service office reset the sensor and sent me on my way. Today, on the way to the gym, the "check engine" light came on. AGAIN??? Unamused, people, unamused. [for a brief instant i thought perhaps it was a sign not to go to the gym] I stopped at the dealership, again. Gas cap, again. WHY is it the same dumb light for my gas cap as for my ENGINE ABOUT TO EXPLODE??? I am thoroughly unamused. The nice folks at the dealership assured me that if it was LIFE-THREATENING (their words) the "check engine" light would be blinking. Thanks. That's reassuring. HEY CAR MANUFACTURERS : don't put the gas cap sensor on the same dummy light as the car exploding, okay? Anyhoo, turns out that my o-ring was out of alignment or something. The only thing that makes this whole ridiculous mess a good story instead of a complete rant is that the service people at my dealership are mega-cool. A service representative went and got the computer diagnostic thingee himself while another one inspected my gas cap - now these are the people that work in the office, not technicians; they were just being helpful. After we saw that it was the same code as last week (he remembered me from last week) he suggested either a new o-ring or a new gas cap. I asked if i had to make an appointment to get it replaced or was that the sort of thing i bought at a parts store and did myself. He said definitely do it myself (looking to save me money) and as he started to show me how to pop the cap out of the leash he said, "go into the parts shop next door, buy it now and i'll replace it for you." Man, i love the service. Turns out that it was a good thing that we were doing it there cause the replacement cap didn't fit the leash, which we just ended up removing and tossing (it always annoyed me anyway). So i got a new gas cap and didn't pay to replace it or pay for the diagnostic. If you have a Hyundai, totally take it to the service center at Antwerpen on Rt 40. They're cool. (unlike the idiot engineer who designed the "check Engine" light; a pox on him/her)

Monday, June 16, 2008

And We're Back

After a two week respite, the team resumed traveling today as we kicked off the summer season at work. What does that mean to me? you wonder. Why, it means nine more weeks of pictures like this those are some big 'maters, Rex; yep, and the corn's higher then a grasshopper's knee, Scooter. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Really chill

Last night I had dinner at Franci and Brian's house and saw the craziest thing. They have a greyhound named Jordan who is really chill. This dog's mission in life is to nap and nap he does. He was sleeping curled up on the couch next to me (which is a feat in and off itself since his legs are longer than mine) when he flipped onto his back and stretched out his legs and tail toward the ceiling. It looked like the doggy equivalent of a full-body yawn. And then he went back to sleep. In that position - Flat on his back, paws and tail pointed at the ceiling! How is that even possible? How can he nap with his tail sticking up? Have you ever seen a dog on it's back except when it is getting a nice belly scratch? Jordan can't be bothered with things like physiology or gravity. If it is time to nap then it is time to nap no matter what position he's in.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Something for everyone

I have collected a lot of things in my life: thimbles, squirrels, Trivial Pursuit games, unicorns, stuffed animals, crazy ex-boyfriends, candlesticks, colored glass, vintage barware, war wounds, Beenie Babies, patterned paper, Duran Duran paraphernalia (you know i have the board game, right?), fun socks and lame excuses.
Everyone collects something. And it seems that there is someone to collect everything. Today i went to Mary L Martin Ltd, the World's Largest Post Card Store. Really. It exists. Check the link. Still don't believe me? Why do you doubt me? Would i make these things up? Team member Felicia told me that this place existed a few months ago and I've been meaning to go. Since i discover an old postcard album at The House i figured today was as good of a day as any. There were a lot of postcards there. A lot. I didn't even know that there was a huge market for old post cards, but there is. A nice older man named Bill bought the book from me. And told me quite a bit about post card collecting. [And that i had pretty eyes. teehee] But sadly, no post card of the post card store, which is what i really wanted.

260 miles, 0 pictures

My friend Matt is briefly in town from California so we continued our tour of possible campuses in and around Philly (it seems like it's most likely gonna be med school, but now the question is P.A. program or traditional M.D) yesterday with Thomas Jefferson, Drexel and Philadelphia University. When we parked on South Street for lunch I left my camera in the car. How? I mean the thing is normally attached to my body! Somehow, though, i didn't have it. I was so sad as i walked by a bright yellow phone helpfully labelled "TELEPHONE" and a new red streetlight still wrapped in foam cushioning (what does a streetlight need protection from, besides a car; some foam isn't gonna help with that!) and a sign with 2 people carrying a giant key and the "No Strollers" sign on the adult apperal & toys shops and palm trees in the concrete and murals about beer and mosaics, mosaics, mosaics... i know you get the idea and feel my pain... But, though i have no cool pics to share from our adventure, I was very pleased to see that even without the camera in my hand I have trained myself to really notice the little things around me. That makes me smile. So does spending the day with one of my favorite people.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


At some point it all becomes too much and you need to find refuge. Douglas was at dinner one night last week with some old friends while i stayed at the house to work. The AC wasn't working right, i was covered in 30 year old grime, i was breaking out from all of my pores being choked with dust and sweat, there were girlie issues, my butt was killing me cause i'd been to the trainer and i just couldn't take any more of Freakville. My only recourse was to build a fort in the living room. Cardboard boxes and vintage lace are excellent building materials. Mr. Gnome stood by the door entrance (cause no one would want to go past him!). There was even a play musket. I was safe. Just as i was getting comfortable, Douglas came home. He'd brought yummy leftovers including raspberry pound cake with ice cream. Yummmo! He agreed - albeit reluctantly - to guard the fort while i found a spoon. Wow, look at his face : I think he thought i had finally cracked. Obviously i needed pictures of us in the fort eating dessert. This was the first time i tried the timer on the new camera with some hilarious results The pictures might not be any good, but the break from reality was exactly what i needed.

Some things should remain buried forever

In going through Douglas' mother's house i found a lot of things. There was crystal and glass and china and linens. There were beautiful things like this lovely picture of his grandmother crazy things, like boxes and boxes of vintage stamps surreal things, like the silver Last Supper pill box and things that defy explanation, like the figural planter with bobbling pink parrot Unwrapping hundreds of dusty, grimy things wrapped in ancient newspaper it started to feel like Christmas morning at the house of the relatives that hate you. At one point I discovered that the matching urns on the sideboard had someone's ashes in them! By Friday night I felt like i had seen everything that Freakville had to offer; i mean once you've experienced this can there be any more surprise or shock left? Yes. Yes there can be. I was sitting in the bay window unwrapping scary surprise #600 when this peaked out at me I almost dropped it. A garden gnome was perhaps the most unlikely thing I could have imagined in this box. He was really disturbing. I mean, what is going on with his tongue??? AUUUUUGGGGGGHHHHHHHH! Obscene much? And as if that wasn't bad enough, check out this hiney What gnomiphile sculpted this travesty? And how did it end up with the Dresden china? There are some questions that i will never have answered. (and i kinda wish i never had to ask)

Too much stuff

Hello all. Did you think I had disappeared forever? Did you think i was on an exciting adventure in Botswana? Well, actually i was buried under piles and piles and piles of stuff. After having to clean out my parent's house 2 years ago and having to get rid of about 40% of my belongings to move into the apartment, i was pretty much cured of my need to gather and collect stuff. If i hadn't been, the events of the last week would certainly have done the job. Many of you know that my friend Douglas' mother died at the end of March. He came up from Florida to clean out her house last week since I was on vacation and could help. The house is in Ellicott City (about 15 minutes or so from my apartment) and is huge : 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, living room, dining room, kitchen, sun room, finished basement and 2 car garage. It must have been lovely once, but was in a sad state of disrepair, decorated in styles that you know were very chic once, but now make your retinas scream yes, that is wallpaper on the ceiling and is filled with furniture that you know cost a lot of money, but makes one despair for humanity the Settee of the Damned - there was actually a pair of them, really The executor of the estate had been working on cleaning and clearing the house for 2 months. I though Douglas and I had to finish clearing the house, in four days. Thank God, we didn't. Working every single moment without eating or sleeping, we wouldn't have gotten done. I was prepared for there to be a lot of stuff but nothing prepared me for this There were boxes and bags everywhere. It was obvious that some rooms had been worked on, but in other rooms there was crap strewn everywhere. Walking through the house Wednesday morning i was completely overwhelmed by the sheer volume of stuff. Just when i thought i had a handle on what needed to be done we found an entire cache of crap in the furnace room There were piles of paintings stacked randomly in nearly every room and everything had to be opened and checked because trunks were as likely to be filled with who knows what as they were to be filled with Victorian quilts In the living room there were boxes full of wrapped china, glassware and what-nots It might not seem too intimidating from the picture, but you have to realize that these boxes were 3 and half feet tall i couldn't even reach into the bottom without crawling inside or tipping the box over. Our job was -in four days- to pack Douglas' room and go through as much stuff as possible to pick out what he wanted to keep, what should be given to charity and what we were going to try to sell. Progress looked like stacked boxes for charity and consignment items piled on the dining room table I was unwrapping things in newspapers from the 70s [i did find useful information, like according to the April 18, 1975 Catholic Review, a prominent girl's summer camp in the Poconos would be opening registration for their 58th season]. There were whole sets of china that hadn't been looked at, much less used in 30 years. Why? Why could anyone possibly need this much stuff? I threw away antique lace and vintage linens that were destroyed by time. In the bottom of one box i found a mouse corpse - half fur, half skeleton; he had literally been crushed under all of the crap. We managed to get a lot done, including making 4 trips to the dump. And some good will come out of this since so much will go to charity. But it really made me want to go through my own stuff and see if there is anything else i can get rid off!