Philadelphia Trip and the Poe House!

So. I did promise a real entry with pictures of Philly!

So. Friday around noon we headed up to Philadelphia from Baltimore, listening to the Hamilton soundtrack, which I hadn’t yet actually listened to! It was quite appropriate, driving through Pennsylvania and seeing all the old buildings while listening to Hamilton sing about the civil war. So that was fun, and I definitely see why my husband loves Hamilton so much! (I also really want to read My Dear Hamilton now….)


Our first stop was Baldwin’s Book Barn. I mentioned this place on my Top Ten Libraries or Bookstores I want to visit, partly because I knew we were going to Philly soon and it was actually doable! It was pretty incredible. It’s a giant old barn, with four floors of used books. Lots of first editions, signed books, rare stuff. The stairs are narrow, and ceilings low – there were several rooms my husband couldn’t stand up straight in, and one stairwell he had to bend nearly double to go through! We picked up two books, one on sewing for my husband and one called How to Read Novels Like a Professor for me.

20181123_1915064012322295710401610.jpgFrom Baldwin’s we drove in and checked into our hotel, which was a really nice hotel, actually. We then got dinner before going to the concert that was the whole reason for the trip, VNV Nation at Union Station. The space was really neat – we found a spot on a ledge near the rear of the balcony, we had a good view but weren’t down in the crush, and we could sit. All things that were important to me. I like VNV, but not as much as Alex does. This was my first VNV concert, and his third! I was very lucky and managed to NOT get a migraine out of the concert, so that was fantastic. It was really fun, and he played three songs from previous albums that I knew and really loved. One of the songs was one that meant a lot to Alex and I while he was in the military, so that was pretty special. They were also selling a certain style of shirt that Alex really wanted, as his shirt in that style is wearing out and getting a little small. So he was very excited to get a replacement.

20181124_112512-effects4245030461536022959.jpgSaturday was our day for tourist-y things! First we walked over to City Hall and admired the architecture and statues. Google kindly filtered one of the photos I took and made it look really neat. I also had a moment, looking up at a statue of a dude riding a horse, where I discovered the horse was very much a stallion. (Loving care in that sculpture, man.) There’s a lot of neat sculpture built into City Hall, and I took a TON of pictures of it. Not sure you want to see all of them, though!


Next we drove over to Independence Park, since we needed to move the car anyway. (Parking downtown sucks, man!) We walked around and saw The Liberty Bell and the remains of The President’s House, which was the third Presidential Mansion, according to Wiki. I was impressed that a LOT of the exhibit addressed the slaves that lived there. It’s good that we don’t forget that even in the North slavery existed. We didn’t actually go over to Independence Hall, just took pictures. (That’s the photo on the left.)


After Independence Park, we walked up to the Poe House several blocks away. Philly is – an interesting city. There’s weird sculptures everywhere, and they have some DEDICATED graffiti artists – one of these pictures shows graffiti on the smokestacks of an old factory building!

I actually forgot to take any pictures of the inside of the Poe House, but I took several of the outside. There was also a big mural of Poe on a neighboring rowhouse! The Poe House in Philly is much bigger than the tiny cramped one here in Baltimore. Now we just need to get to the museum in Richmond!


After the Poe House, we walked back to Independence Park, passing by Franklin Square, which had a carousel and mini-golf and what looks like a giant fountain in the summer. It was currently drained and strung with lights, and probably looks pretty cool in the dark.

20181124_2158541914165567501657854.jpgOnce we retrieved the car, we headed back to the hotel. We’d planned on hitting up Reading Terminal for dinner, but my feet were BEAT. It was a good decision, because it started raining shortly after we got back to the hotel. I had some fun taking artsy photos of raindrops on our hotel window with the Philly lights behind them! We ordered in Chinese for dinner and watched several hours of the Holiday Baking Championship on The Food Network and just generally had a cozy evening.

We did make it to Reading Terminal for brunch the next day. I didn’t take any pictures, but that place is really neat. And one of the bakeries whose name I cannot remember now makes THE MOST AMAZING flourless monster cookies. SO. GOOD.

Once we ate, we headed back south to come home – kind of! We actually stopped off at a friend’s in Baltimore and played board games for the rest of the afternoon, and got home pretty late in the evening. It was really a fantastic weekend, and oh man, I have missed traveling SO MUCH. We have a trip to Pittsburgh and Toronto planned for this summer, and I can’t wait!


Sunday Stuff!

We’re driving home from Philadelphia today! We started the weekend with Baldwin’s Book Barn just west of Philly on Friday afternoon, before checking into our hotel in downtown and going to a VNV Nation concert that evening. It was my first VNV concert, but my husband’s third. I was worried it would trigger a migraine, as migraines are the reason I haven’t been to a rock concert since high school, but I got lucky and escaped without one. (Not sure how I managed that, but YAY!)

Saturday we walked around downtown and did touristy things. Saw City Hall, and the Liberty Bell, and the Poe House. (I took way more pictures than this, but I’m currently posting from my phone, so you can check my Twitter for some of them, and I’ll put together a real post when I get home.) It was a lot more walking than I usually do, even though I’ve started taking daily walks.

Saturday night we stayed in – my feet hurt, and it started raining! We ordered in Chinese from nearby Chinatown, though my fried rice showed up with peppers in it, which was unexpected. I can’t eat nightshades, so that was highly disappointing, and my husband went out and got fried rice from a DIFFERENT Chinese place so I could have dinner!

The plan for today is brunch at Reading Station before heading back home to Baltimore. I’m looking forward to walking around the market!

Literary Landmarks: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s grave

FSF1It’s early November, the wind is blowing piles of leaves across the ground, and it’s cool and clear – which makes it perfect graveyard weather. Maybe I’m weird, but I enjoy wandering around graveyards, particularly very old graveyards. In my hometown we had the Pioneer Cemetery and the Masonic Cemetery, both very old cemeteries. Wandering among the peaceful trees, reading dates, and wondering what their lives were like was a very enjoyable pastime. Finding someone who lived into their 90s in the early 20s? Fascinating. Someone who died at 19, and then realizing the death date means he probably died in World War I – it’s things like that.

Now that I live on the east coast, there are even older cemeteries to investigate, and famous gravesites to visit. Especially living in the Baltimore/DC area. St. Mary’s Catholic Church, which holds F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s grave, is fifteen minutes from my house. FSF6So with nothing else to do today, the husband and I decided to go visit. The graveyard’s a little odd, in that Rockville Pike runs right beside it. So there’s a small patch of green, with huge oak trees and drifts of leaves, and on the other side of a small fence is a busy road and office buildings. The graveyard itself is beautiful, though.

FSF3On the grave itself we found a few offerings; someone had left “Literary Miscellany” clipped open to the page about Fitzgerald’s grave. The gravestone has the last line of The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald’s most famous work, inscribed on it. “So we beat on boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” There were pens and pencils left beside the book, as well as dried roses and a wine bottle left near the headstone. I’m always curious about the stories behind the offerings – I suppose it’s pretty apt that a famous author’s grave inspires curiosity about more stories.

FSF2Fitzgerald is buried in a family plot; his wife, Zelda, is next to him, with children and other relatives close by. She was also an author, penning a semi-autobiographical novel called “Save me the Waltz,” published in 1932. Their marriage was not a happy one; at the time of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s death he hadn’t seen her in over a year, because she was in a mental hospital. F. Scott Fitzgerald actually died in Hollywood and Zelda in North Carolina; he was originally buried in Rockville Union Cemetery due to the Archdiocese of Baltimore ruling him a non-practicing Catholic. They were relocated to St Mary’s and the family plot in 1975, after the family lobbied to have them posthumously “re-Catholicized.” It seems weird to me that you can be baptized or accepted into a religion after you’re dead, but I suppose the dead person isn’t going to care.


I really enjoyed visiting Fitzgerald’s grave, and I intend to make “Literary Landmarks” a series here on Goddess In The Stacks. They won’t all be graves; there are a plethora of local sites with literary meaning, from The Library of Congress and The National Archives to the Poe House in Baltimore to Uncle Tom’s Cabin. I’m trying to find more local literary landmarks; I have photos from Edgar Allan Poe’s grave in Baltimore, and we’ve been on a tour of the Poe House in Baltimore, but I don’t have photos of that. It’s currently closed, set to re-open soon, so we’ll have to make a trip up there again once it re-opens! I’m still trying to find more local Literary Landmarks, so if you know of one in the larger DC metro area, please let me know!