Monday, March 1, 2010

PERRY HALL AND BALTIMORE, MARYLAND

Out of the blue we got a phone call from our son Matt, who invited us to come to Baltimore yesterday to spend the afternoon while Marylee was away on business. It took only a few seconds to say yes, since we were anxious to see Matt and spend some time with his little boy, Ian.

We left right after church, McChicken in hand, and zipped down I-83 toward Towson. When we got to Matt's, we learned that Ian was with his other grand-parents for the afternoon.


Matt invited us to go see a nifty new model house in a development not far from where he lives. It's a great looking place, not at all one of those McMansions on small lots, with every kind of roof peak and window you can cram in. We enjoyed seeing the nicely decorated house and imagining that some day we will be moving in when we are too old to keep ourselves clean.

Next we headed downtown to see the snazzy new "green" office building where Matt works for Legg Mason. It's right on the water's edge. We showed ID and were admitted to the elevator lobby by the guard (who, instead of an hourglass was counting down the shift using Hershey's-kisses-in-a-line). Matt told us that his card is programmed to let him in and even tells the elevator what floor he wants. Imagine! "Look ma, no hands!"

Matt has a nice glass-fronted office, painted in a bright orange color. That must help to keep him awake or something. His room was very neat, with everything in its place. I am imagining his room when he lived at home -- we had to step gingerly through the piles of stuff to get to the other side of the room.

Susanne was particularly interested in the break room, a sleek glass box where one of those coffee makers whipped up a tasty cup of java from little individual cups of ground beans. I think she'd make a great attendant in such an operation. Maybe Legg Mason has an opening.

We walked around Matt's floor enjoying views of the harbor and the cityscape. We saw some great conference rooms overlooking the harbor crowded with sailboats, water taxis, and in the distance, a cruise ship. Only the grey skies spoiled the view.

A short drive to Little Italy, that wonderful permastone enclave nearby, led us to Chiapparelli's, a modest looking restaurant -- Italian, of course -- with a very comfortable interior. Everything on the menu was appealing. We all had the house salad, which was outstanding, a concoction with lots of crisp lettuce, olive oil, and cheese. Susanne chose shrimp and pasta, Matt preferred the lasagna, and I -- being unable to narrow down so many choices -- choose the "Tour of Chiapparelli's," a plate with eggplant parmesan, fettucini Alfredo, and lasagna. Fresh bread (enough to feed the five thousand) filled the basket on the table. The "Tour" was among the best Italian food I have ever eaten, and the Alfredo was heaven. Our waiter was a cool little dude who looked right at home there.

After retrieving the car from the valet, we headed toward Marylee's parents' house to pick up Ian. The ride took us through some very interesting older neighborhoods of Baltimore. We saw block after block of 19th century row homes, many with (formerly) beautiful stone fa├žades. Some blocks were well-maintained and others had not a single house that was not boarded up. We passed the Johns Hopkins medical campus, too, with its impressive modern and Victorian buildings.

Marylee's mom, Pat, came out to the car to say hello when Matt came back with Ian, who had a cookie in his grasp and seemed to like the sound of "cookie" spoken through a cookie!
Ian was ready to down his chicken, applesauce, and pickles when we got home. We had a chance to chat with him (he is talking up a storm and "no" is his favorite word). Susanne read him several books; he got a bath and then turned in without a peep.

While I watched "Ben Hur" on the tube, Matt guided Susanne through filing our income tax forms. It was no easy feat to have him help and yet hide all of our passwords and codes to prevent being looted.

After a night's rest, we got up early to leave for Harrisburg, as I had a 10:00 a.m. meeting at the church. Ian was up, so we got to see him again. His vocabulary kills me. He looked at some porcelain plaques on this bedroom wall and pronounced them "fragile."

As we climbed into the Box for the ride back to Harrisburg, Ian presented Susanne with a gift -- the first time he ever said "Meemaw." He hit me with a "Papi," too. I guess he's back in the will!

Matt's new office building -- not too shabby!

Getting ready to enter.

Susanne rhapsodises over the coffee machine!

Modern art graces the city side of the building.

One of many marinas, as seen from the Legg Mason deck.

Matt showed us this office of an unnamed "loser."

"Tour of Chiaparelli's" -- can you taste it?

A rare photo of me and Matt --
I am usually behind the camera.

Ian is endlessly interested in things around him.

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