Quirks and Oddities during the COVID-19 Shutdown

It is hard to stay cheerful more than two months into the COVID-19 Maryland shutdown, especially if you are among the thousands who have lost love ones or employment or have had to shut down your business.  We have tried here to construct a glass-half-full version of related events.  Embrace it if you can.


  • Our Orioles, after two of the worst seasons in the history of major league baseball, have not lost a single regular season game this year.  And nobody lost any money on March Madness office pools.  But if you check your Comcast cable bill, you’re still paying a $9 monthly Regional Sports Fee.


  • At least three restaurants around Bolton Hill have made the conversion to carryout and curbside delivery.  The Brass Tap is featuring “Shelter-in-Place Happy Hours” with online beer and wine orders and growler refills, plus bar food.  Noona’s has family-style meals in addition to pizza, for delivery or pickup, and on Friday’s there is fresh produce to purchase.  The Tilted Row has much of its regular menu available, in addition to “Blue Plate specials” and drinks for evening pickup.  Subway is open.  And don’t you miss the gang that used to smoke in front of Mt. Royal Tavern?


  • “I have to admit that I am a little embarrassed at my good fortune. I have been working from home, so my income has not been affected,” said Bolton Hill resident Beth Torres, who lives on Lanvale Street and works for the Department of Veterans Affairs in DC.  “As an introvert, I love the fact that I am not getting on a crowded train every day.  I have a dedicated home office with windows overlooking the spectacular spring flowers.  My aggressive foster dog has become much calmer and is starting to be friendly toward other dogs on our walks.  On the other hand, both of my sons are out of work right now.”


  • The city’s Department of Public Works last month suspended sending out water bills which, apparently, could not be done while working from home.  The guys who are so good at picking up our trash and recycling during the pandemic probably should be put in charge of the billing system.  If you need a stress-relieving interlude of quiet piano music, call the DPW customer service line.


  • City council member Eric Costello, who represents our neighborhood, has grown a beard and moustache during the shelter-in-place pause, as has David Nyweide, president of the Bolton Hill Community Association.  Some of us are developing an Albert Einstein hairstyle.


  • The folks who roar along West Lafayette Avenue and toss fast-food debris and bags from their cars are taking the pandemic seriously.  Now we find blue gloves and face masks on our sidewalk and gutters.


  • Chris Hansen, who lives on Mt. Royal, taught himself to sew during the lockdown and has assembled dozens of face masks and distributed them for free.  “I offered them to people on Next Door website, and a lady in Reservoir Hill contacted me to donate several yards of fabric.  It was sweet of her.”  In normal times Hansen works at the UM Medical Library, shut down by the pandemic.  “You can only read and watch Netflix for so long.  I’ve done a lot of gardening and now the sewing has helped keep me sane,” he said.  Lots of others are sewing masks,  including Paula Jackson and  Lieselotte Mayers.


  • The Charles Village Safeway and our nearby Save-a-Lot are cleaner than ever before.  Thank goodness Belle Hardware stayed open as an essential service.  Neighbors who live around Eutaw Place, Park Avenue and the Scott Fitzgerald parks – among others – have done great work cleaning them up and planting flowers.


  • You probably receive, as we do, periodic mailed reports from BGE that tell us how much worse than our neighbors we are as “efficient energy users.”  Since the virus quarantine, however, we’ve graduated to “better than average,” with so many neighbors now home fulltime, also using energy inefficiently.


  • Neighborhood resident Jean Williams notes “the virus lockdown has slowed my world down a lot.  This staying-in-place has given me a lot of praying and thinking time.  I have caught up on my reading.  I got a chance to call and check on family and friends that I hadn’t heard from in a while.  Staying in made me decide to rearrange closets and cabinets.  I pray this world will be a better, calmer place after all this is over.”


(Bill Hamilton)