June concert flashbacks

  • 6/01 #31: Fastball Live at the Herndon Festival in 2008. One of my favorite 90s bands so close to home.
  • 6/02 #32: Garbage at HFStival in 1996 plus Queens of the Stone Age at the 9:30 Club in 2002 with L’il Davie Grohl on drums.
  • 6/03 #33: Double shot of Herndon Festival – Brindley Brothers in 2005 and Girlyman in 2006.
  • 6/04 #34: Double shot of last time I saw artists: Lowen & Navarro at The Birchmere in 2009 and Mudcrutch (with Tom Petty) at the 9:30 Club in 2016.
  • 6/05 #35: The Excentrics at Friday Night Live. Remember when they didn’t just have cover bands?
  • 6/08 #36: Celebrate Fairfax doubleshot – Gin Blossoms and Sister Hazel, both from 2002.
  • 6/11 #37: Tom Petty with Trey Anastasio at Nissan Pavilion. All the hits, plus songs by Phish, Bo Diddley, Fleetwood Mac, Traveling Wilburys, Them [Van Morrison], and Stevie Nicks with a special appearance by Stevie Nicks? Just an amazing show.
  • 6/12 #38: One more trip to Celebrate Fairfax, this time for a double shot of Rick Springfield from 2005 and They Might Be Giants from 1999 (bonus points if you can spot me in the latter).
  • 6/13 #39: Da Vinci’s Notebook’s last show at Crystal City Street Fair in 2005. Still the most distractable band in the land.
  • 6/14 #40: The Pat McGee Band at the Alexandria Waterfront Festival in 1999. Notable for being the first time I saw them and Eddie From Ohio. Don’t have efo’s set, but Bob McNichols promises he’ll find it for me someday…
  • 6/15 #41: Robert Plant & Alison Krauss at Merriweather Post Pavilion in 2008. I really enjoyed them together.
  • 6/18 #42: A special number for a special show – the Tibetan Freedom Concert at RFK Stadium in 1998. Day 1 was cut short due to someone getting hit by lightning, but day 2 was super packed: Sonic Youth, Radiohead, Wyclef Jean, Blues Traveler, The Wallflowers, Luscious Jackson, Jungle Brothers, R.E.M., A Tribe Called Quest, Beastie Boys, and Pearl Jam (who snuck in Red Hot Chili Peppers to finish their set, but we left during Pearl Jam).
  • 6/19 #43: U2 at MCI Center in 2001. My first time seeing them and what a fantastic setlist.
  • 6/20 #44: Dave Matthews Band at Nissan Pavilion in 1997. Béla Fleck & The Flecktones opened and Béla Fleck sat in for quite a while. One of my favorite Dave shows.
  • 6/21 #45: The Beach Boys at Merriweather Post Pavilion with my dad in 2012.
  • 6/22 #46: The much missed 4 Way Street (Philly songwriters) at Jammin’ Java in 2004.
  • 6/23 #47: Guns N’ Roses at the Capital Centre in 1991. My first time seeing them, and as usual they started late.
  • 6/24 #48: Norah Jones at Wolf Trap in 2003. Good show, and she ended with an AC/DC cover. This one’s from a different show, but you get the idea.
  • 6/25 #49: Sting & Peter Gabriel at Verizon Center in 2016. Nice selection of hits, and I love it when the good double bills actually play together.
  • 6/27 #50: Counting Crows with The Wallflowers at Wolf Trap in 2013. Very nice career spanning sets from both bands – this is a good review.
  • 6/29 #51: Lindsey Buckingham & Christine McVie at Wolf Trap in 2017. A nice mix of their great album and Mac tunes.
  • 6/30 #52: Extreme at Bank Of America Pavilion in 2006. All the hits, all the members, plus half of Boston (the band).


Tuesday the 3rd we started picking up our CSA from Potomac Vegetable Farms. We were members there from 2005-2009, and rejoined when we saw how hard it was to find some foods during quarantine. We started with lots of leafy greens. Friday Jill said “I know how many of you love stories, especially sci fi, fantasy, etc. Check out this podcast from Ariel Therkiel as she narrates some of my favorite fiction genres in at talesfromablackuniverse.com. I’m hooked. And it goes without saying to support her for her work, and check out the authors as well and support them too.” Saturday I had to go into the office then picked up some beer from Aslin on the way home; this just seemed appropriate for the news. Monday I thought maybe we don’t need to go back to eating in restaurants quite yet. Wednesday Nina had her hair dyed blue for the last day of class and got takeout from Flippin’ Pizza, then Thursday they had a virtual popsicle party before school ended early and we took the boat out and she went swimming in the lake with friends.

Friday the 12th was the start of Phase Two of reopening (now eating inside a restaurant, going back to the gym and in-person worship services was ok). But we didn’t do any of those. That week after finally getting Nina’s summer schedule set (virtual musical theater camp, baby sitter, math tutor) I realized she had nothing to do the say after school ended. Plus I hadn’t taken any vacation days yet in the year, so we had a daddy daughter day for the first time in months: Whole Foods for sunscreen and fruit, Dulles Golf Center & Sports Park for mini golf, Frito Chicken for a fried chicken lunch outside, Target for toy selection (Barbies, with her own money) and curbside beer pickup at Old Ox Brewery. Delighted to see almost everyone wearing masks inside and practicing social distancing. Later we got takeout from Bebop Korean-Mexican Grill. Saturday we had a nice family walk and admired some BLM sidewalk chalk art, then had Morgan and her family over for a boat ride and swimming.

Monday the 15th Nina started virtual musical theater camp from the Mason Community Arts Academy – she and Jill got takeout from Cafesano when I had to go into the office. Tuesday I was excited that Terraset’s Virtual Talent Show was finally out. Friday I noticed that Fountains of Wayne fans may like this (plus that day (Juneteenth) Bandcamp was donating their profits to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund). Saturday we had an early, socially distanced Father’s Day with my dad. We brought Bojangles and sat apart and ate. Jill said on Sunday “He’s always up for an adventure with our fearless girl. He’s the best Dad I know. Loving, patient, understanding, supportive. Much love to you always and forever”. Nina gave me a voice message, and her phone transcribed it like this: “Hey dad you’re the best kid that I love you all the way The Odyssey the Darth Vader when hes me …. You are the One anyone could ask Like you let me have Fine and you me Sometimes I don’t care the kids Nice stat Indian I love you with my whole heart I love you don’t make the It’s fine To have UA …. It is Yes In the best one I need one Today Israel or Ask for Fast Said III could have I love you With my heart I love you all the way yo all the way hello you you only you only do All the way ugly way even in event it please thing isn’t exactly spell that’s how I say has how I say I said Can I say I hate how I say how I say ye I love you too minute one minute is not fun I’m gonna sing you this is”. Monday I saw Black Sabbath is selling Black Lives Matter T-shirts themed after Black Sabbath’s iconic Master Of Reality album cover. The shirts are being sold for $25, with all proceeds going to the non-profit Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation.

The next week was a hard one, even for 2020. Jill had stomach pain making it hard to sleep on the Saturday, but by Tuesday the 23rd was experiencing constant pain, went to urgent care, who sent her to the emergency room. She chose Reston because she knew the surgeon who would remove her gall bladder the next day. She was home Wednesday (Covid-19 patients on her floor was a big motivation to leave) and recovering nicely; Nina and I got takeout from Nando’s for dinner. Then Thursday Gretchen, an old elementary school friend, has passed and a teen has drowned in the lake next to ours. That night I wondered if Gretchen would have appreciated having her memory toasted with a whiskey made by blasting Metallica at it as it aged? Yes, I think she would. Jill said “Finishing my Sante Fe cardigan now that I have much more time on my hands for the next week or two. Just have unexpected abdominal surgery and you too can be a Lady of Leisure!”

Saturday the 27th I couldn’t believe in 2020 I had to order a bootleg from Japan, but now I have the 2 best performances from the 2001 WBCN River Rave (the Black Crowes and Aerosmith). Later I hadn’t been to a concert for 4 months – until that night. We’d discussed hosting house concerts before, but the need for social distancing forced us to get creative. We hosted Todd Wright on our boat for concert #4, and it was so much fun. Monday Nina started virtual musical theater camp from Lopez who she did in person camp with last year, then the month ended on another down note as Jill’s friend Joanna passed, and she said “I just found out that she passed away a few days ago. She was an amazing friend and I loved her dearly. I had been trying to get her to come down for a visit so we could reconnect in person and I’m so sorry it never happened. She will be missed so much by everyone who knew her.”

May concert flashbacks


Friday May 1st I thought this is great. That evening Nina got her purple belt in a virtual ceremony. Monday Jill said “This girl has been asking for a couple of weeks to try kayaking on her own, and I was finally brave enough to let her try it! She did great, although she did say it’s harder than it looks.” Wednesday Jill said “Fun science adventures in homeschooling: So Nina wanted to try out her science experiment kit as a rainy day activity. She chose a color changing liquid experiment (bases vs acids). One of the ingredients was red cabbage powder, but it wasn’t labeled as such. So I took a discreet sniff: sure enough, that’s what it was. Nina decided she wanted to also confirm, and thus inhaled a good amount of it up her nose. I tell her (ok, yelled at her) to blow her nose: purple snot ensues. Then I tell her to use the nasal spray and flush it out: to her delight, the snot turned blue. Then she read the label of the saline spray: contains baking soda. Successful experiment? We think so!”. And “Wearing my now favorite stay at home outfit: cozy hoodie, black leggings, and hand knit sport weight socks (these are Must Stash sport in the Kama Sutra colorway). Currently spinning sunshine aka a luscious batt from Frost Yarn . I’m probably in the minority, but I’m very ok with the slow spring we’re having here. It feels fitting, somehow.”. Plus “Voila! Sourdough pretzels with jalapeno cheese dip! Take my word for it, they’re as tasty as they look!”. Later I had to thank to Honda of Chantilly for picking up my car and doing my inspection and emissions, oil change and other maintenance, while I only had to leave the house to give them the keys. They even washed the car. We got takeout from Founding Farmers that night, before finding out the next day the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival was cancelled…


The next week Jill was back at work due to the governor allowing elective surgeries to resume. Friday the 8th This happened before Axl started feuding with the Treasury Secretary… Later Nina made her first video game in Girl Scouts. Use the arrow keys to catch the broom before the other cat catches you. She also recorded her part for the school talent show that afternoon. Monday Dave Grohl gets it. Also finally, someone has encapsulated how I feel about DJ Khaled: from a summary of last year’s musical-guests on SNL (this year’s is here) “DJ Khaled is the most successful Guy Who Screams His Own Name While Other People Perform in the business, and he brought his screaming-his-own-name A game for SNL’s season finale. Imagine a medley of performers and songs you’re interested in hearing, except that medley is punctuated every few seconds by an airhorn, and that airhorn is a man, and that man is shouting, “SING IT, GIRL!” at SZA while she’s already attempting to sing. You know who’s really great at singing? SZA. You know who does not need to be heard yelling, “SING IT, GIRL!” at SZA as she sings? Three guesses, and if you somehow guess wrong the first time, I will appear in the clouds overhead like Mufasa in The Lion King and bellow “ANOTHER ONE!” at you, because that’s how the universe works.”


Sunday the 10th Jill said “I had such a lovely day today; thoughtful gifts, yummy food, great company both at home and digitally, and got to do so many of my favorite things: crafting, being out on the water, and rewatching a classic. Nina really got into Mother’s Day this year which really warmed my heart! Bonus favorite: finally getting to introduce her to the Princess Bride; she seemed to really enjoy it which was pretty awesome. I know this day is not an easy one for a myriad of reasons; no matter what this day holds for you I hope it was a peaceful one; what you needed it to be.” Wednesday we got takeout from the finally reopened Reston Kabob. Tuesday the 18th I finally found a mask that speaks to me.


Fridays there were no virtual classes, just assignments, but on the 22nd Nina joined a new virtual Storytelling Club and got one last lunch bunch with Mrs. Zemke. That night we had takeout from Bollywood Bistro. Saturday Jill said about our hike at Lake Fairfax “It was the perfect day to go on a new adventure by hiking a new trail! Nina said she was bored with our walking paths so we tried something a little more challenging and we all had fun.” On Memorial Day we had Janice over for a socially distanced boat ride. Jill said “New growth. I’m astounded that my orchid has lasted and is actually getting ready to bloom with minimal fuss from me.”


Thursday the 28th the governor ordered face masks indoors and we were pleased about that. Friday we got takeout from Glory Days Grill, and on Sunday we had one of Nina’s friends and her family over for another socially distanced boat ride. Later Jill said “Give money. Give time. Give respect. Give love. Give knowledge. We must do better. We know in our hearts what is wrong and what is right. Black Lives Matter.”


April concert flashbacks

After a month in quarantine I decided if I can’t go out to see live music, I’m going to start listening to my collection. A concert a day from this week in the past.


April was the first full month of quarantine and it was hard at times. Jill only worked two days, so she was primary teacher for the first half of the month. April 1st I had my first virtual meeting with my massage therapist as she taught me some Egoscue techniques so I could get a better posture. On the 3rd I said “Oh, come on!” to Bill Withers’s passing. That day Jill said “Leveled up on the stealth teaching today. I roped Nina in with Cat Heaven Island on Amazon Prime, first film she’s ever watched with subtitles. As we were watching (and reading) they kept referring to the before and after of the tsunami in 2011. So we did a little sideline into learning about tsunamis. It was a neat documentary and now we both need to go.” Saturday Nina continued her musical class online; Monday evening we took the boat out.

Nina Jill

Tuesday the 7th Nina’s Tae Kwon Do classes went virtual through Zoom. Wednesday we got takeout from Taco Zocalo (trying to support local restaurants once a week) then that night started the howl – initially just an 8PM howl at the moon, but people kept doing it every night. Thursday Nina built a box fort in the basement with all the boxes we’d moved the book in. Friday I said farewell to John Prine with a cover by Stuart and Susan. Jill said “Knitting a thing for a friend and wearing my Nightmare before Christmas leggings bring me joy today. Enjoying my newly enforced hour of Alone Time is also bringing me joy!” The 12th was Easter and we had a virtual tea with the grandmothers over Zoom, then I made Eggs Benedict and artichokes for dinner and now Nina loved artichokes. Jill said “The Easter Bunny also hid Hershey kisses around the room because she’s cheeky like that.” I love it when I wake up earwormed with a song, look to see what the artist has been up to and find out they released a lovely Stones cover for charity the day before on Monday.

Jill Nina

Monday Jill said “We’ve started working on the packet for distance learning and…well. I had to explain that at school she doesn’t sit in her teacher’s lap and get constant validation about each individual problem she’s working on. She does her work and then the teacher checks her work. So, needless to say it’s going well.” Tuesday the 14th was supposed to be the start of virtual learning, I was tech support getting Nina ready. I’d gotten her laptop ready and put it in sleep, but I could not get it to connect to Wi-Fi even with a reboot. I remembered where the ethernet -> socket -> ethernet system was, so pulled it out and got her working, then came downstairs, turned on my laptop, and then the feedback came from the speakers. I thought that had gone away with the new PC I bought in January to get Windows 10, but turns out I needed to find my well shielded speakers instead. In other support news, I had to jump start Jill’s car, but that’s another story. Nina was very happy to see her class for the 1st time in 4 weeks. Unfortunately despite having a month to prepare, Fairfax County Public Schools didn’t prepare for scaling or security of online classes, and the next day (after a 2 hour delay) cancelled the rest of the week. At least Nina’s teacher gave out several assignments each day. Wednesday Jill said “Springtime nature walks… I wish I had seen more people maintaining social distance on the trails though…”


Friday the 17th we got takeout from Ariake. Saturday Nina’s musical theater classes at Lopez Studios resumed over Zoom. That afternoon we proved there’s still entertainment in the middle of quarantine, especially when we get a beer delivery from Old Ox Brewery with one of the delivery people dressed up as Left Shark. That night we used Zoom to play Cards Against Humanity with the Cannons after Nina was asleep. Sunday I made sourdough bread with starter Teresa sent me. Monday Nina was taking classes over school channel 21. Wednesday we got takeout from Neighborhood Restaurant Group (aka Neighborhood Provisions), which got us beer resupply as well. I have not laughed so hard in a long time as I did at one scene in that night’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine season finale Thursday. Friday I was pleased someone’s been fired for this nonsense in school. Jill said “Just really digging these tiny ripples on the water tonight. Trying to find peace where I can; hoping you all can as well.”


Saturday the 25th Jill and Nina created a games book case in the dining room. Jill said “More adventures in quaran-cleaning…. I had no idea we had so many games. It’s one in, one out from now on!” Sunday I made brunch with sourdough cinnamon buns and homemade turkey sausage. Monday school finally got started online for real, with 30 minute sessions at 9:30, 1, and 3:15 with assigned work in between to do online. Jill said “Look at this STUNNING watercolor that chantaleliseart created for me! This is one of my favorite photos of me and my daughter, and she turned it into a piece of art I will cherish always! Thank you so much!” Tuesday we got donuts from Duck Donuts in Herndon. Wednesday we got takeout from Nando’s.

Nina Jill


Sunday March 1st we decided to get in one more day of skiing and drove up to Whitetail. Nina went to ski school, and Jill and I hung out in front of a fire before taking a run. The warmth of the day had made the snow chunky and Jill was done after a run, while I wanted to try the blue trails. The conditions made my thighs hurt after a while, and I took a break before it was time to pick Nina up. When she hadn’t shown up after 15 minutes, we talked to the school. Turns out they were confused and thought she was a full day school student, and was feeding her lunch. But she got her wish and we all took a run together, then Nina and I did another couple runs together. On the way back, we stopped at Family Meal for a scrumptious early dinner plus some good beer shopping next door at District East. We finished watching Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as Wizards Unite had an event coming up that would deal with events in the sequel.


The coronavirus was on our minds all month as it graduated into a pandemic. But first Nina got a cold on Sunday the 9th so she was home from school the Monday (Jill off) and Tuesday (I took care of her until Jill got home, then went in for 8 hours). She was back at school Wednesday but we could see the writing on the wall. We started stocking up on groceries and I asked for a laptop from work so I could start teleworking. Sure enough, as the closings started to come fast and furious (including lots of concerts), Fairfax County schools closed on Friday the 13th. The governor of Virginia closed all schools later that day and we started our home schooling with a half day of work and a half day of play for Nina (I managed to get my work done too). Saturday we stayed at home (but we decided the kids could play outside) and worked hard on getting all the books out of the office as the carpet was getting replaced Monday. Jill caught Nina saying “It’s time to chill with Art.” That night, after starting Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, I took a late night trip to Safeway to see the pasta, rice, flour, meat and hot dogs sections vacant. Good thing I was mostly after produce and staples not in those sections. Sunday I went into work to work a half day as no one else was there, then needed to bring home some things I was missing (including my chair).


Monday the 16th started our full time social distancing. Jill had her day off that day, but I had to stay upstairs as well since the carpet guys were there, then the room needed airing out the rest of the day. The rest of the week was hard as it was me and Nina until Jill got home around 4:30, trying to balance her studying and recess time with my telework time. Unfortunately I had to work after she went to bed some days. We started the week still playing outside with other neighborhood kids, but by the time the week ended the news had gotten worse and we stopped (it was hard on her with the spring weather starting and the cherry blossoms blooming). We still had St. Patrick’s Day on Tuesday with low sodium corned beef and cabbage.

Kerry Nina

Sunday the 22nd we started getting a lot more virtual. The Shantytowne stitch and bitch started the previous week morphed into a general catchup, and we had to move off Google Hangouts to Zoom because of the 10 person limit in Hangouts. Nina started doing her Tae Kwon Do lessons online, and on Tuesday our friend Seth taught Nina and Penny the basics of flight during a virtual teaching session. We still had plenty of food after stocking up and on Monday we had a four course dinner delivered from Equinox (the pasta course was my favorite). The week was a lot easier on me as Jill’s surgery center changed to only be open 1 day a week, and they didn’t need her, so she was the teacher all week, and I got to work mostly uninterrupted downstairs. They also announced on the 23rd schools would be closed for the rest of the year. There are some silver linings. If the rest of the maple syrup hadn’t been sold out, I would have never known about bourbon barrel aged maple syrup.


On the 25th we did a Zoom call with my sister and her family. Later Jill said “Today’s first homeschool activity: spelling/vocabulary
I explain the meaning of synchronize and use a couple of explanations: it’s when you make the same movements at the same time, like the Rockettes kicking or synchronized swimming when they’re all doing the same routine at the same time.
N: What if one person is doing one thing and then right after the other person does it?
Me: nope, it has to be at the same time
N: what if the 2 people are dancing different moves at the same time then switch those moves?
Me: no, same movement at the same time.
N: what if there are 20 dancers and 10 are doing 1 move and 10 are doing the other move?
Me: well, there are 2 groups of synchronized dancers.
N: but what if…
Me: Look, this is what the word means. I’m not going to change what the word means!
… 19 words to go….”

Jill Nina

Friday the 27th we used Zoom to play Cards Against Humanity with the Cannons after Nina was asleep. Saturday was gloomy and Nina had an online drama class while I worked on restoring the library while Jill made pierogies (she said “Adventures in cooking with lots of time on my hands…. pierogi. They’re stuffed with sauteed cabbage and I really hope they’re yummy because whoa. A lot of work.”), then we did another Zoom call with the Cannons over dinner (it was mostly Nina and Penny playing). Sunday was really nice in the afternoon, so we took a walk, finally got the boat out, and grilled and ate dinner outside. Monday the governor finally issued an official stay at home order, so we knew the previous two weeks had been just a preview. Jill said about the boat ride “Doing our very best version of social distancing. We said hello to many of our neighbors from a safe distance this afternoon. Many of us were out enjoying the sunshine!” Monday Jill saw this and said “Thank goodness. Just what I needed to read right now. Any parent trying to navigate with school aged kids right now, here’s a common sense, concise article filled with wisdom.” Tuesday she said “I know people love the full bloom of the cherry trees, but this part, when it rains gentle pale pink petals, is my favorite. Redbuds then Dogwoods after that! It’s still Spring, after all…”



Saturday the 1st was a very busy day. Nina started learning the songs from Annie at her weekly musical class at Lopez Studios, then we went to Lake Anne after lunch to see the end of the Polar Dip and Nina got to play with some friends and eat a s’more nearly the size of her head. After that, we headed into DC. We were planning to go to The Reach at The Kennedy Center to see the Winter Lanterns + Korea, but as a big rainstorm was blowing through, went inside to check out the Millennium Stage as Metro delays had us there at nearly 6. The show tonight featured performers from Footsteps in the Dark (intersections of hip hop, dance, and Muslim culture put on by Words Beats & Life). We thought Nina would be into it, but we had no idea this would happen. Jill said “My little soul dancer got selected to bust a move on stage after learning about the origin of hip hop from the incredibly talented and awesome teacher @amirahsackett last night at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage! We had such a great time learning and N got some greatly appreciated words of encouragement from Amirah as well! An experience to remember!”

The 5th I posted “Real talk: Is it ok to take your adult multi-vitamins with a single malt scotch? Asking for… a friend.” Saturday the 8th Safeway’s Monopoly was back on and I didn’t know what’s going on with the promotion, but anytime I get money back instead of spending nearly $200, I’ll take it. Sunday Nina had an audition workshop for 101 Dalamations summer camp, and Jill and I took a Wizards Unite stroll around Reston Town Center (with beers and a pretzel at Crafthouse).


Thursday the 13th I didn’t think I wanted a death metal cover of a Weird Al song – but here one was anyway. Valentine’s Day I picked up Korean fried chicken for dinner and we’d all gotten chocolates for dessert. Saturday was concert #2: NSO Pops: Megan Hilty and Cheyenne Jackson. They were great (and she does an amazing cover of “The Heart of the Matter”). Plus Nina found a new favorite restaurant – Sweet Ginger in Vienna, where she can have sushi and chicken tenders. My surprise of the evening was learning that the conductor was Damon Gupton, who also plays the police chief on Black Lightning.

Megan Hilty and Cheyenne Jackson

Nina and I were both off on Monday the 17th and this looked like a preview. The actual day was not bad, she had a playdate with a classmate at a trampoline park. Sunday the 23rd we went to Reston Town Center for a Wizards Unite Community Day event, walking around catching creatures. That night was concert #3: Beth Patterson at The Old Brogue. She only plays in the area once a year, so we try not to miss her excellent shows, paired with the fine menu there. Plus she played both of my requests!


Tuesday the 25th Nina got her full braces put in. Thursday she earned her green belt in Tae Kwon Do. Jill said “My strong, suddenly serious green belt. She passed her belt test and is now in her last belt before getting to level 2. So proud of my fierce girl!” Friday she had a talent show audition after a quick rehearsal at home the night before. Later as I read this article, I was struck by this passage: “I gave a talk about what happened in 1918, how society broke down, and emphasized that to retain the public’s trust, authorities had to be candid. ‘You don’t manage the truth,’ I said. ‘You tell the truth.’ ” I hoped that doesn’t happen again, as it appears the coronavirus was heading for us.


The 29th Nina had a Girl Scouts event all morning, so Jill and I met at Lake Anne for Wizards Unite. It was cold, so we went inside the Brew House for beer and coffee (there’s a fortress there), then walked around a bit more before it was time to get her.



Saturday the 4th might have been our most epic Wizards Unite day ever. I wanted to do something different than a walk, plus it was raining. We ended up at Lake Anne and walked over to the fortress and did a challenge under umbrellas. Then we went into the Lake Anne Brew House for beer, kombucha, and soda and started 3 dark detectors in both of the inns we could see. Then we discovered we could see the fortress from there and Jill and I finally finished Dark III for the first time. We went to the used book store, then got dinner at the Greek restaurant. While waiting for dessert, we started another 6 dark detectors, and did even better: 2 Dumbledores, Hermione, 2 unicorns, Fred, George, Grawp, Quidditch Harry, 2 Percival Graves and I think 1 other. Plus a Tom Riddle as we were leaving, and a Veil when I went out for groceries later. Sunday Dad came over for lunch and I gave him his Christmas present – a new laptop (so I didn’t have to deal with upgrading Windows 7 on his old one).


Monday after an epic bedtime tantrum had Nina not going to sleep until 10:45, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go out and walk in the freezing weather. At 11:40 I decided to, started Wizards Unite, did the inn across the street twice and hustled to the nearest fortress. I completed the challenge with 30 seconds to go until midnight, but when I tried to click the last collect button got the restart popup, and that took too long so failed to collect my daily task money. Plus on the way back I was catching a foundable and my phone died. Plugged it in when I got home and it was at 47%. WTF?


Friday the 10th was a rough one for me, as it was announced that Neil Peart, the drummer/lyricist of Rush, had passed away after a battle with cancer. I said “Dammit 2020. R.I.P. Professor.”

My favorite “Closer To The Heart” video – Rush Through Time (loved that cassette). I saw this online then did it – donate $21.12 to the American Cancer Society in Neil’s memory. And here’s a good read from someone very important to the band.


Saturday we went to see Nina perform her songs from Frozen at her last theatre class; later I took Nina to see a rehearsal of The Little Mermaid Jr. also from Lopez, then in the evening we took advantage of Jill’s mom coming down and went to DC to use one of Jill’s Christmas gifts to me: PubPass, where you get a free beer at participating bars. We went to Georgetown and started at The Berliner, then hung outside and played Wizards Unite at a fortress because it was close to 60 degrees. Then we went to Pizzeria Paradiso Georgetown for more beers and dinner.


Sunday I made a tribute to my favorite band, as we lost one of the holy trinity this week. This one’s for you, Professor.

Tony Reed – Garden Road
Skid Row – What You’re Doing
Sloan – In The Mood
Audioslave – Working Man
Mark Slaughter, George Lynch, Deen Castronovo & Stu Hamm – Anthem
Spearfish – Making Memories
Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins & Nick Raskulinecz – 2112 I. Overture
Steven Wilson – The Twilight Zone
Alice in Chains – Tears
Dream Theater – Xanadu
Alain Johannes – Madrigal
Steve Morse, Mike Portnoy & Billy Sheehan – La Villa Strangiato
Rachel Barton Pine – The Spirit Of Radio
Tyler Warren – Entre Nous
Beth Patterson – Tom Sawyer (with Josh Paxton)
Rik Emmett – Red Barchetta
Mike Portnoy, Philip Bynoe & Pete Thorn – YYZ
The Smashing Pumpkins – Limelight
Jacob Moon – Subdivisions
Jack Russell, Mike Portnoy & Billy Sheehan – Analog Kid
Eric Martin, Brad Kaiser & Robert Berry – Mission
SPiN – Time Stand Still
Fleesh – The Pass
Rage – Bravado
Allegaeon – Animate

Tuesday the 15th I thought it was an odd week, as the loss of an icon I first encountered in the ’80s (Neil) is now balanced by the adaption of another series from the ’80s: Crisis on Infinite Earths. I would have never thought they could have pulled it off but they did, with nods and winks to every DC adaption on small and big screens.

As The Magicians returns for their 5th season, let’s appreciate the masterful Season 4 episode synopses:
1. Brian takes a friend out for ice cream; Sam is one week away from retirement.
2. Dean Fogg gets a new suit.
3. Kady gets a puppy. Quentin meets a snake.
4. Josh gives Margo a muffin. Julia drinks schnapps.
5. Alice and Quentin confront a dog. There are some flashbacks.
6. Quentin and Julia play Pictionary. Margo drinks some weird milk.
7. Kady goes to the flea market. What’s Zelda has been up to? This one’s all about Fen, you guys.
8. Penny licks an egg. Alice gets jealous of a flower.
9. Quentin eats a quesadilla. Kady and Zelda share a smoke.
10. Margo hits her step count.
11. The gang talks to a book. Tick threatens to drink some water.
12. Quentin yells at a plant. Margo stares at a fish.
13. Quentin and Josh get cake. Quentin reflects on his actions.


Friday the 17th, Jill and I got another night out thanks to her mom. We once again got a free beer, this time at Valor Brewpub as they were literally steps away from Rose’s Luxury, where we had a reservation. The kitchen view was perfect, as was the tasting menu (the Cacio e Pepe was amazing). Saturday we all went out for concert #1: Eddie From Ohio at The Birchmere. An unusual show by just the core four with no opener, unexpected covers (Warren Zevon just after I’d been listening to the tribute CD that week) and blasts from the past (“Blue Jeans” and “Loitering In The Lobby”). We also grabbed dinner before the show at Northside 10. Sunday we had brunch at Red’s Table, then everyone but me went to see Little Women in the afternoon.

Jill Kerry

Monday Nina got her orange belt at Tae Kwon Do. Wednesday I hadn’t bought any Wolf Trap tix for the first set of shows, but for the 3 shows on sale that week, bought all 3: Steely Dan/Steve Winwood, Barenaked Ladies/Gin Blossoms/Toad the Wet Sprocket & Brandi Carlile + NSO.


Saturday the 25th it was road trip time. After a stop in Front Royal for lunch at McAlister’s Deli, we drove to Bryce Resort where we stayed at Chalet High. It was late afternoon by the time we checked in, so we only did tubing that night. Sunday it was skiing time, with lessons for Jill and Nina. Jill said “Well, after 3 years off the mountain my body still (sort of) knew what to do!” Nina and I skiied some more after lessons, then we called it a day. We brought our Amazon Fire stick but not the remote. The 2nd hack listed here (have Amazon Fire, but not at home) works perfectly. Genius. Nina was not into watching Doctor Who, so we watched Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (we were listening to Goblet of Fire in the car).

Jill Kerry Nina

Monday Nina had another lesson while I signed her up for summer camps, then we skied most of the mountain with another 8 year old we picked up on the lift while Jill stayed home, spun and watched Netflix. We drove down to New Market and had lunch at Jalisco. Tuesday we drove back home, while Wednesday Jill picked up the Girl Scout cookies at Wolf Trap as she was cookie mom again.

Kerry Nina

One thing that took the sting away from Neil’s passing: receiving a signed copy of Far and Near from publisher ECW Press after they ran a contest on Facebook to “Please share your favourite fact about Neil, your favourite lyric or prose he wrote, the thing you’ll miss most about him — anything about Neil Peart that brought you joy or connection.” I had written this:

Neil’s lyrics were a big part of surviving high school, but as I grew up and had a family of my own, his words never stopped being relevant.

I always come back to “Afterimage” when someone I care about passes:
“Suddenly, you were gone
From all the lives you left your mark upon”


Thursday the 5th Jill took Nina to the German market. On Friday I had to give points to my sister for getting us gifts early. Negative points to Target for letting certain people know what’s in the box. I made sure “Hugs’N’Ho” is an abbreviation, or she wasn’t going to get it.


Later on Friday it was concert #49: Ronnie Spector & The Ronettes at The Barns at Wolf Trap. A living legend who’s still got that voice put on a great show with Ronettes and Christmas classics. Saturday our neighbor had a holiday party we had a good time at, then Sunday we went to visit my dad for a delayed Thanksgiving lunch with him. Jill said on Wednesday “As an adult during the week with lots to do, the best snow scenario: a powdery coating just to get into the festive holiday mood. As a kid, rather disappointing. N was shuffled out the door this morning on time, thank you very much”.

Jill Nina

Thursday the 12th I went to concert #50: Josh Rouse with Joe Pisapia at Jammin’ Java. Also a mix of originals and Christmas songs, but not classics as he’s just put out an album of original Christmas songs. The show sounded great, as you might expect with 2 of his producers on stage in the band. Best part was getting an upgrade after I bought a GA ticket, then a lady said her husband hurt his hip and they couldn’t get into their seats next to the stage and i could have one if I wanted it. Spoiler alert: I did. Friday Nina had a birthday party and Jill and I had dinner at Mama Chang with a delicious mix of small plates, followed by some Wizards Unite action. Saturday was our annual holiday party, including friends that came from long way away. Sunday was nice and Jill said “Ahh yesterday, when it was 50+ degrees and we had some sunny outdoors time. This morning, it’s a little different #hellosleet”.

Kerry Nina Jill

While watching this, I nearly did a spit take with egg nog – for all my fellow parents. Monday I had a work party at the Bungalow Lakehouse, and got to play pool for a couple hours. Friday the 20th should have been Nina’s last day of school before Winter Break, but she had a fever in the morning. Surprisingly with widespread flu at school she was positive for strep. So I thought it would be a good idea when waiting in CVS for her prescription to get some cards for family and then get them ready to mail at home. This was the card when I asked her every time, from purchase to completion, “Are you sure?” Some lucky relative got this.


I stayed home, then went to work when Jill got home, who said “Early Christmas present: New Mantel shelves!!! I’m finally able to hang stockings by the fire and unpack some boxes! Yay!!” The next day Nina’s fever got worse, and eventually we took her to PM Pediatrics where we found out she had the flu (B strain) also. She started taking Tamiflu in addition to the antibiotics she had for strep (she hated both medicines). The next morning, after an achy night, I had a fever too, so went to my practice’s urgent care and got Tamiflu as well (of course we’d all been vaccinated). We had been planning to go to Christmas concerts that night and Monday, but managed to resell the tickets. Jill said “When there’s flu at your house and you’re the only one who’s still healthy. Mince pies and coffee for strength and sweetness please!”


By Monday night the 23rd we were feeling better, so we kept our tickets to Enchant DC. Seeing Nats Park lit up was picturesque, and the maze was nice. The food was the best part: I had a crepe, Jill had Ben’s chili fries and Nina had chicken noodle soup. Of course by Christmas Eve day Jill caught bronchitis, and said “Well, this Christmas certainly has not gone to plan, but we are blessed none the less.” On Christmas we opened our stockings and gifts, then went out to dinner at Founding Farmers. We were able to get back to camp and work the next day.

Nina Kerry

Friday the 27th Jill’s dad and his wife came to visit. Jill and Nina went with them to DC to eat Italian and go see Christmas Carol at Ford’s Theatre. Meanwhile I went to Ono Brewing Company after working an extra long day to make up hours, and enjoyed their beer and the brisket from Odd BBQ inside. Saturday I made these delicious cream cheese cinnamon rolls when we had them over for brunch; in the afternoon they took Nina to pick out her presents at the Lego store while I got in a couple hours at work.


We were supposed to see the new Star Wars movie on the 20th, but fell into the multiple illness vortex, with lots of cancelled plans. Jill also wanted to see Little Women, but not on the 29th, so Nina and I ended up at the 5PM showing at Udvar Hazy. Which was fortuitous, as we saw Lorna & Dave, who kindly saved us a nice pair of seats as we were way back in line. No spoilers, but we enjoyed it and somebody wanted a lightsaber battle as soon as we got home. I worked super long on Monday to hit 16 hours worked as camp was closed on New Year’s Eve and Jill had to work, and I was able to stay home that day instead. We had a quiet evening at home that night playing board games (Throw Throw Burrito was the crowd favorite) before watching the ball drop.