Notes I've jotted down as an inventory of things I like about Baltimore:
The way my breakfast guests shovel up a platter of scrapple, bypassing oat bran, low-fat cheese or anything else that claims to be healthy.
The way the harbor looks when the Domino Sugars lights flash on. Ditto along the Jones Falls Expressway with the Stieff Silver sign, now bedecked in red electric light bulbs.
The way people remember "clear toys," those translucent candies molded into ships, hammers or trains that once appeared in Christmas stockings. The bright colors were a knockout.
And now that it's reopened, cheers to Rallo Restaurant of Fort Avenue, which suffered a disastrous fire last June. All the Rallos -- Vince, Angela and Mario -- are back, along with their real Baltimore menu and real Baltimore prices.
All the people who decided to hold family reunions, and start speaking to the cousins they had treated as though they didn't exist, after seeing "Avalon."
The recent interior restoration of SS. Philip and James Church, 2801 N. Charles St.
The general level of courtesy in this town. I know there will always be individual horror stories of rudeness; but Baltimore retains so many traces of urban friendliness and civil manners that it's amazing.
The care someone's giving to the parks on Park Avenue in Bolton Hill.
The way Baltimoreans remain so loyal to their non-trendy restaurants.
The gray paint on the Thomas-Jencks-Gladding-Hackerman (that's a mouthful) House, 1 W. Mount Vernon Place.
The delectable sauce Mario puts on his sandwiches at the Cafe Manet on South Charles Street. He says this tasty dressing is a recipe from the Puglia section of Italy.
The immaculate Chesterfield Avenue homes overlooking Herring Run Park between Harford and Belair roads. This stretch rates my vote for the cleanest washed windows in town.
The sense of outrage around town about the recent vandalism of the statues in Druid Hill Park.
The Fells Point business district. It's the place to go now that the Inner Harbor seems too crowded for a Baltimorean.
The people who cherish this city's history, such as Donald T. Fritz, who recently used his own money and time to publish a new guide book to city landmarks.
The new houses at the northwest corner of Lafayette Square in West Baltimore.
All the salt and the yellow trucks at the ready at the city's Falls Road winter-weather yard. Let it snow. The Department of Transportation is prepared. Unfortunately, so is the north wind.
The Lexington Street vendors who wind up mechanical toys and send them scrambling all over the footway. For those of us who refuse to grow up, it's a great sight.
And finally, are Baltimoreans just honest or did we have enough fresh Christmas trees this year? On Christmas day, there were dozens of unsold -- and unclaimed -- evergreens all over southwest Baltimore. They remained free for the taking, but nobody took them.