Finke Ink

Whifflings of Writings and Images to momentarily ponder

A Walk That Wasn’t (Or Was It?)

I was happy to get out of the house to do some errands today. Namely get a donut. 
It was promising as I’d finally be getting to the bakery before closing so there should be a few delicious choices left.

Walking along with my thoughts of exciting things to come I spotted these happy balloons floating by a church.

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My cheerfulness would soon disappear as I realized these balloons were probably happy to get out of this neighborhood that is closed on Sundays.

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It was a bit depressing. While I love my house and the adventure of trying something new, I miss being able to walk to whatever I wanted at almost any time of the day or night. 

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This meant no bakery and therefore no donut. AGAIN. I’ve yet to have a real donut in Baltimore, and it’s getting to me. My donut levels are reaching a dangerous low.

No DiPasquale’s deli where I was going to bring home a surprise Italian sub for my boyfriend who pulled an all-nighter.

Even the petals decided it was time to give up today.

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So. While I am getting used to not being in the West Village, some days are harder than others.

All I wanted was a donut.

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UPDATE!

After seeing my sad state of donut-affairs, Dave insisted we find a solution, “Let’s hop in the car and find you a donut!” Luckily I had done my research so away we went, driving about eleven miles to one of The Fractured Prune locations.

—We also passed by Camden Yards, where we have tickets to see the Sox in July, which will be great to add another park to my list. And it’s only three miles from our place!

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(Not a great drive-by shot, but you get the gist.)

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After seeing some new neighborhoods we had arrived. This place is pretty great because you choose a glaze and a topping and then they make them fresh right in front of you!

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(You can see my happy knees below the box of life.)

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We even received an extra one as she messed up one of the toppings!

Seven fresh, specially-flavored donuts for $6.25— you can’t find that in the West Village

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The Hons

Unless we were doing a campus crawl, where your only nearby entertainment was often a Ruby Tuesdays, the way I liked to explore a new city was by wandering around a cute shopping district. 

So that is what I did today in Baltimore, heading up to Hampden, popping in and out of shops on what is known as “The Avenue”.
There were many Maryland-themed items, such as this crab-whacking board made in Baltimore (apparently you can order your own customized cutting board from them)

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And this cute children’s book for learning numbers.

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How many row houses are there?

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I found some cute shoes, discounted winter hats, random small gifts to put in my box-for-when-I-need-a-small-gift, specific gifts for specific people, a little ring that looks like a bronze horse jumping over your finger, a spoon rest which we’ve been in desperate need of (I found a rooster, which I immediately knew was the right one— my father, after saving enough money, bought his mother a small rooster and hen which she kept in her kitchen the rest of her years. The hen didn’t make it, but the rooster now lives in my old room on the farm, so now he has a long distance friend.)

Also grabbed this book for when we are wondering what we should explore in our new town. It has such important items as when the Chesapeake Crab industry faltered one year the city decided to choose an official dessert. The Smith Island Cake was named, but only after they shipped many of the cakes to Annapolis for the governor and many legislators to taste for themselves.
Hopefully the book will lead us on some strange adventures.

The Avenue provided a fun afternoon, and one that I would have called a success on tour, but the main interest popped up with this bird, and the cafe attached to it.

This is Cafe Hon. 

Here in Baltimore, ‘hon’ is not just an informal name to call someone else, it also became part of the culture. In some neighborhoods, including Highlandtown where our house is, and Hampden where The Avenue is, the 50’s-70’s local working women would dress up in colorful dresses and beehives (like you’d see in one of John Waters’ films) and they were known as ‘Hon’s.

In 2009 the city asked the Cafe’s owner Denise Whiting for a fee to keep the bird up. Instead of paying she took the bird down, which led to a local protest and eventually the city and Whiting stuck a deal and the bird went back to its fire escape nest. 

Seemed like the small business won out… (but keep reading)
Across from the cafe is a Hon store, filled with all sorts of shirts and other items with the word Hon on them. The main section I liked was this olde fashioned soda fountain covered in candy jars. (and that creepy doll in the corner)



Whiting also started the Honfest, which is now a weekend long affair that crowns “Miss Hon” at the end, is full of costumed people in beehives and loud costumes and has apparently become one of the most popular festivals in Baltimore.

All well and good, and a fun way to keep this strange culture alive, until a year after the flamingo debacle, when Whiting decided to trademark the term. 

This seems to have been a terrible choice. NotCafeHon was a twitter feed created to denounce this move, and a facebook page called Boycott Cafe Hon currently has 1,849 followers and some interesting images if you want to check it out.

On the wikipedia page Whiting states the controversy took a huge toll on her health as well as income— estimating a 20 to 25 percent drop off in sales. Gordan Ramsey took his show “Kitchen Nightmares” to Cafe Hon, which led to a press conference where Whiting relinquished the “Hon” trademark and hopefully has regained some popularity in the community.

 

Stay tuned for more Baltimore adventures! I knew nothing about the city before coming here (except for having watched The Wire, which is all most of my friends knew about the place as well) and I hope to continue finding strange little stories like this to entertain myself with.

I’ll end with some lawn flamingos down streets connecting to The Avenue.

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This next one was my favorite, seeing as it includes a Mary and Jesus photo op— (and note the purple Ravens flamingo on the left)

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I like that the rest of the holiday theme seems to change at this place, but the birds are still hung—

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Charm City

I never imagined moving to Baltimore. I’m also not the type to say never. 

It happened rather quickly but in one of those ways you don’t need to question, and now we have a new home together, which is rather exciting. I love NY and always will, but there is something to say for having real closets, a huge kitchen, an office, a car, laundry! and just space in general. I can store a full bottle of bleach now. (That isn’t a joke— my West Village apartment, with two people, didn’t leave room for extravagances like a 96-ounce bottle.)


We moved half of our possessions in right before the Superbowl and were mostly unpacked by the time cheers and fireworks lit up the city. I enjoy a good game, but must admit whenever a New York team made it to the end I sometimes cheered for the other guys, knowing my neighborhood would be cleaner and more peaceful without the drunken revelers. Seeing as I do not yet know my new surroundings and was ready to be entertained I let that go.

Enjoying the community spirit I took a walk a few hours before the game began—

This is the theatre nearby, of which we are now members. (Seeing as most of my theatrical friends could care less about sports I thought this a nice showing of   -another kind of- pride.)

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When you search for ‘best pizza in Baltimore’ the list is not long, but luckily Matthew’s comes up every time and is right around the corner. Showing true Maryland style they have a crab pie that is pretty amazing

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We ordered a couple for the game. I picked them up right before closing and was the only one in the place not wearing Ravens gear.

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Everyone on the sidewalk was showing their colors and gathering last supplies. Cars zipped down Eastern Ave with flags flying, shivering girls clipped quickly by in purple tights, menswear, Spanish and English shops, smoke shops, even places that didn’t look like they sold anything had full-on displays

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We watched online as the tv wasn’t hooked up yet, cozy in our new living room with pizza and beer from down the avenue, and went outside to see our new neighbors run fervently through the streets under blooms of fireworks.

Baltimore has their new champions and we have our new city.

Paris in December

It feels like I should be in Paris.

It is December and that is when we would finally land at Charles de Gaulle and not have to transfer through. We would prepare to visit our Christmas markets, dine at our favorite restaurants, load in at Theatre de la Ville. (Using my limited French to fight for more dressing rooms after having a croissant, sitting with the local wardrobe crew I’d grown to know so well.) Prepare for another run.

Prepare for the rainy golden nights along the Seine and down the cobblestones. To shop for beautiful things we allowed ourselves to need.
To welcome the Paris audiences. To fight the crazy, old, decked-out French ladies for food at the opening night reception. To know we had a holiday coming up soon, a break from touring. 

Paris was an every-year. Like London. In October we should have been in London, and now it is December and we should be commenting on the Christmas tree in front of Notre Dame.
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We should be on Skype with our boyfriends back home, or having short fluttery romances sitting side-by-side at a sidewalk cafe.
We should be leaving small gifts outside dressing room doors, speculating on Secret Santas while getting ready for class on stage.
We should be planning small group dinners in our Citadines kitchens, using the wonderful produce from the fresh market, excited to open the bottles of wine and tear into some Saint Marcellin.
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I don’t believe any of us are in Paris right now. We have jumped off the cliff into the Next; finding new adventures, new people to add to our lives, new jobs, new spaces in the world. It feels like the path we should be taking, but there was something to that routine, a comfort of sorts, that is missing. And I miss speaking French with the vendors while shopping for Christmas presents.