Looking glass


Saturday the 1st we were camping at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. Nina had her hair braided by Patty and did somersaults on a hammock with her new friend Eleanor. Patty had a copy of The Monster Book of Monsters and Nina delighted in terrorizing Shantytowne with it. In the afternoon Jill took Nina to the Children’s tent while I went to the Workshop Stage to see The Duhks with Ray Bonneville & Andrew & Noah, and Nina and Jill came over in the middle. Later I returned for The Slambovian Circus Of Dreams and The Duhks and Stuart and Chris joined me.

In the late afternoon we had our family picture followed by the first ever Shantytowne Stage. Seth was up first (bringing Stuart and Bill up to accompany him), then Bill (with Tassy and Seth) and Olivia with Stuart. We missed the start of We’re About 9 as it was Nina’s shower time (we finally used the solar shower we brought to our second FRFF) but did catch some of them, along with Cliff as we got dinner ready.


Sunday morning we packed up our tent and left, stopping for lunch at the very crowded first rest stop in MA. We were soon at the Brady’s, and Nina got to play with Ava all day including the pool, much to her delight (I played tech support guy all day – not as fun). Monday we spent most of the day driving home (diverted through PA as NJ was bad again, at least we finally stopped at a Sonic). I took Tuesday off as well and picked up Illa and made good progress and cleaning up the office.

Jill Nina

Saturday the 8th Jill had a yoga class and I took Nina to the reopened Reston Farm Market & Country Store, and now she loves shopping, since it has a moon bounce and slide, a train, and a potbellied pig named Foxy Cleopatra (we also bought a pile of fruit and vegetables). Sunday Jill brought Nina to the yarn store and a playground nearby.

Saturday the 15th Jill’s sister Robin and her husband Mike drove down to stay with us a couple days and bring back a bunch of our baby stuff as she’s pregnant (and in a weird coincidence my sister Sharon is also due just days later). We went to Cafesano for lunch and I grilled steaks for dinner. Sunday they went with Jill and Nina to the pool and the Reston Farm Market and we went out on the boat later after getting Hunan East delivered (decent food, and I like that they offer sushi).

Mike Robin

Tuesday the 18th I had jury duty, but it was uneventful as I never got called, ate at Social Burger for lunch and worked from home the rest of the day. Thursday Nina was happy she could still fit in her baby saucer. That evening’s double rainbow finally brought relief from steady heat. Good timing as we took Nina to Wolf Trap the next night for Disney in Concert with Wolf Trap Orchestra (a long day for me since there was no camp, Mom helped for a couple hours). She liked our picnic and her first visit to the Wolf Trap stage as part of the princess parade, and we had to literally drag her away during the last song. Saturday Jill took Nina to the pool and Small Change Consignments. The wonderful weather continued on Sunday as I took Nina back to Wolf Trap in the afternoon and we met up with Dad and Patricia to see the Beach Boys. Nina wasn’t totally in the mood (wanted to color in the shade) until the music started and dozens of beach balls flew through the air and she loved picking them up and throwing them.

Patricia Dad

Friday the 28th we had a plumber come to check the hot water heater and determine it was a goner. In order to save some money the next day we got to Dulles a new way, caught the 551 on South Lakes and switched to the Silver Line Express at the Metro station. We were surprised to see Janice in the security line, and got to our gate early enough to get some lunch (Chef Geoff’s for me, Au Bon Pain for the girls). We arrived in Boston at 2PM, and decided to take their Silver Line before transferring over to the Orange Line and getting off at Green St. where my sister lives with her husband Tom. They cooked steaks for us and Nina played with their cat, Izzy.

Sunday we got up early to make it to the 9AM ferry to Provincetown. 90 minutes later, we were there and did some shopping at Cuffy’s before the Cannons arrived. We all had lunch at Patio (and I had my first lobster roll). We’d left our bags at the Chamber of Commerce, and after we picked them up took the shuttle to the Cape Colony Inn. Our room was ready, so we all changed there and walked several blocks to the nearest beach. After we cleaned up, we walked right back to the beach as Fanizzi’s was right there and we had a nice dinner (this time a seafood alfredo for me).

Jill Nina

Monday the 31st we got smart and took turns with the Cannons’ car to get to Herring Cove Beach. The girls had a lot of fun, but the tide started to come in and it was apparent there wouldn’t be much beach left soon. Chris and I picked up lunch from The Purple Feather – ok sandwiches (my lobster panini was my least favorite meal in P-Town, plus they got an order wrong). Jess and Jill went shopping after lunch and Chris and I took the girls to the hotel pool. We drove into the center of town later, and after candy shopping had dinner at Burger Queen (good clam roll, and they made a huge off-the-menu quesadilla for Nina she scarfed down). The Purple Feather redeemed themselves with gelato for the girls and excellent gelato drinks for the adults.

Nina Cannons


Wednesday July 1st we had a low key birthday for Jill with a surf and turf dinner of BBQ and lobster rolls from the Reston Farmers Market. Friday July 3rd our Shanty friends Seth and Emily and their friend Matt came to visit. The next morning I showed them where to park at the Metro station and they headed down to RFK for the Foo Fighters festival. A couple hours later Jill’s friends arrived to spin with her and I took the subway to RFK myself.


I managed to arrive during a rain delay, but I found my friends and soon Gary Clark, Jr. was on stage. Crowd favorites were Heart’s “Alone” and LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out.” Buddy Guy’s words of wisdom for us were “If you don’t have the blues, just keep living”. The Foos finally made their grand entrance last with Dave Grohl on a Game of Foos throne that rolled down the runway. If that show was the last time I’m at RFK Stadium, I’m OK with it. From attending Skins and Nationals games, to performing at halftime for the Skins (with the W.T. Woodson marching band), to seeing The Who, Eagles, Pink Floyd, Aerosmith (with United We Stand), Garth Brooks (with Equality Rocks) and most of the HFStivals, it’s been a good run. Hell of a festival, Dave.

Foo Fighters

The next morning I got up early to make peach fritters from scratch as well as waffles, fruit salad and bacon for brunch. In addition to our houseguests we also had Janice, Stuart and Lorna over for a Mid Atlanty Shanty reunion.

Mid Atlanty Shanty

Thursdays Jill took Nina to swimming lessons at Life Time Fitness in Reston. Saturday the 11th we picnicked at Arrowhead Park in Herndon and then watched Eddie From Ohio (or at least Jill and I did – Nina was more interested in playing with other kids). They put on a great show with the highlights an excellent cover of “Scarlet Begonias” to pay tribute to the Grateful Dead, followed by a furious “Eddie’s Concubine” and a moving “Down To The River To Pray”. And you’ve got to love it when Eddie’s drum solo sets off a car alarm. We pulled a double header and saw a bit of Della Mae at Reston Town Center before finishing up with some gelato from Pitango Gelato. Sunday we celebrated Jill’s and my mom’s birthdays with dinner out at Cantina D’Italia in Fair Lakes (the braised lamb was delicious).

Illa Nina

Saturday the 18th I took Nina to her friend Lauren’s birthday party, unusual because they had animals visit (Nina liked holding the rabbit and leading around the goat, but her favorite part was yelling at the ducks until they splashed with Lauren and Olivia G.). Playing with Lauren’s toys in the basement later was almost as fun.


Wednesday the 22nd Jill and I went to see First Aid Kit and Brandi Carlile at Wolf Trap, met up with Lorna and David there. Great show, but too much going on that week and I sold off our tix to the next night’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me (at Wolf Trap with Paula Poundstone). Friday I didn’t know why I tried to go into the office after a minor procedure (stoopid ingrown toenail). It was much better to end the week working remotely, sitting on the couch with the windows open listening to a set of covers by Wilco.

Brandi Carlile

Sunday the 26th we went to have dinner (well, takeout from Chuy’s) with Patty and Jesse at Bernard and Barbara’s house in Fairfax Station, making July a super Shanty month even without heading north. The next day was the Mondayiest Monday in the history of Mondays. From getting up at 4:15 for an hour with the scared of thunderstorms dog, to the daughter who got up at 7:30 and got dropped off at the pool with her class at 10:15, to the jury duty summons, the day was already fired, and I still wasn’t at work, waiting for my Rx behind a lady who didn’t appear to be in danger of finishing talking anytime soon. Tuesday tried to match with a power outage and tech support for my mom’s boyfriend, but nice try no biscuit for you.

Jill Nina

Friday the 30th we’d planned on leaving for the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival before rush hour, but all of us would have been very short on sleep. Then of course we slept in until 10:30 and didn’t end up getting on the road until noon. By the time we stopped for dinner at a Cheesecake Factory in New York for a surprisingly good meal we knew we wouldn’t make it before dark (not good with a brand new tent), so we made a reservation at the Days Inn in Great Barrington we’d stayed at 2 years prior. It was for the best as Nina was extremely cranky and tired as it was.


The next morning we walked to Fuel for breakfast, then got groceries at Guido’s and Super Y before heading to the festival. After we exchanged our tickets for wristbands, we drove up to Shantytowne. David helped me set up the new tent while Jill and Nina hung out in the lobby. The Jewells hosted a steak and martini dinner, and afterwards we walked down to the vendors for ice cream and I caught some of Brother Sun and June Rich before heading back and turning in with Nina.



Nina was still battling an asthma attack as we started the month, and was disappointed to miss her last ballet recital, but was back at school on Tuesday the 2nd. Jill and I went to Wolf Trap on Wednesday and Jukebox the Ghost were on fire. We last saw them at Fort Reno in 2008 and they’ve only gotten better. They used to get Ben Folds Five comparisons ’cause of the piano with no bass, but they pulled off a stunning cover of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” during their set. Headliner Ingrid Michaelson sounded great as well, just couldn’t see much as the lighting team decided blinding the 1st 50 rows was a good idea.

Jukebox the Ghost

Saturday the 6th I took Nina to meet Doc McStuffins at Reston Hospital (part of the grand opening of their pediatric ER) and she endured a long wait to get her bear checked out, then got scared of Doc McStuffins and her friends when taking pictures. Sunday my mom wanted to to go with Nina to Celebrate Fairfax! for my mom’s birthday, so we did. Petting zoo, fast trikes, popcorn, racing dogs and a pony ride completed the afternoon, then we had the BFF over for dinner.


Wednesday the 10th we picnicked in Lee District Park to see The Pietasters, Nina may have been more excited that Chessie’s Big Backyard is now open there. The next morning was rough as she had a fever and I stayed home with her. Nina decided she would no longer eat the raisins in her favorite cereal (Raisin Bran with Cranberries) – sigh. She was improving at lunchtime – singing at the top of her lungs and shushing me to keep me from talking: “It’s almost your birthday. You’re good and you’re really nice. Spend time with all the family and friends.”


And then we took her to the doctor and I let her play outside on a very hot day and her temperature hit 103 – very scary until she cooled down in the basement. Jill and I split coverage the next day, and since she was feeling better had my mom come over as scheduled and went to see “Weird Al” Yankovic at Wolf Trap. I hadn’t been so close for him before (second row) and seeing the amount of effort he puts forth, even on hot and sticky day, was impressive.

Weird Al

Sunday the 14th we took her to water games outdoors at church, then went to Celebrate Gaithersburg to see Red Molly before their hiatus (and Nina got her face painted) and had lunch at Growlers, which went pretty well, but she fell asleep on the way back home and after her nap had a coughing attack, but seemed over it by the next morning.

Red Molly

Tuesday the 16th Nina had been having weekly swim lessons at the Lifetime gym in Reston, and insisted I come and meet them there after a lesson so we could have dinner in the cafe there. I think Jill and I agree that won’t happen again (wouldn’t pick out or eat food there, too distracted by other kids).

Kerry Nina

Saturday the 20th we drove to the new Tupelo Honey Cafe in Courthouse so we could meet my mom’s boyfriend, David (who turns out was an old boyfriend from Rochester NY). They got lost and I had to take 30 minutes guiding them in, but Nina surprisingly didn’t have a meltdown while waiting. The food was very good – I had the fried egg BLT with the Moonswine Mary (Jalapeño-Poblano-infused moonshine and house-made Bloody Mary mix adorned with maple-peppered bacon, pimento cheese-stuffed olives and a bacon-salt rim). Later we met up with the Larsens and the Norwoods at the Columbia Pike Blues Festival where Nina did art, met some dogs, jumped in a bouncy castle, and got her face painted again. For Father’s Day I got some nice cards and the full cast audio of the Graveyard Book.


Monday the 22nd I picked Nina up from school and we drove over to Mosiac. My plans for us to have dinner at Matchbox went away when she fell asleep in the car on the way there and wouldn’t wake up in the restaurant. But she did start to wake up in the movie theater and we had an apple in the lobby before heading upstairs where she could have a real treat: popcorn and soda. We were there to see My Neighbor Totoro, and even though I’d managed to choose the subtitled showing, the story was fairly clear and she didn’t seem too disruptive (Her teacher Jenny was behind us and said she was fine). It was her first movie in a movie theater, and she had to take a break because Totoro in the rain storm was a little scary, but otherwise she loved it (and was calling “Mei! Mei!” all the way home).

Nina Kerry

Wednesday the 24th Jill went to run a quick errand in the evening and ended up getting rear ended at a light by a teenager who hit the car behind her. The car went to the shop, but she wasn’t feeling great on Saturday, so when Nina came down with strep, I went to see the house concert that our friend Stuart was performing with his friend Susan (very nice, 2nd set ended with Amy Speace’s “It’s Too Late To Call It A Night”.). Nina created her first mashup Friday night: “Down By The Bay”/”Down By The Riverside”. Then we listened to both songs and she ended up in her bath singing “study war no more”. Jill ended up contracting strep as well and they both stayed home on Monday before being back at school and work on Tuesday.

Susan Stuart


Friday the 1st Jill and I saw Neil Gaiman at Constitution Hall. He read from “Good Omens”, which I’ve never heard him read before. A real treat, and a fun night. Saturday Nina showed me how advanced she’d gotten at climbing trees – 6 feet off the ground without help. Sunday we were Nina’s BFF’s sister’s birthday party, and sometimes didn’t have to watch any kids at all. Monday Jill chaperoned Nina’s class trip to the Rust Nature Sanctuary.

Nina Kerry

Wednesday the 6th I found out about the Wheel Of Lunch, which looks like the evolution of the lunch spreadsheet some coworkers ad I used to use. Friday Nina and I played hooky and were joined by our friend Lauren and her son to take Metro down to the National Mall to see the WW2 flyover. We met my dad at the Smithsonian stop and staked out a spot. The planes ended up flying closer to the museums and we would have moved, except by that point Nina was more absorbed with playing with all the kids – at least I could still see the planes (loved the Boeing B-29 Superfortress). Afterwards we walked to L’Enfant and had lunch at the food trucks there (fried chicken was Nina’s choice for her first food truck experience) before heading back. Only 2 minor tantrums, and none when we had to stop in Target (it helped that she got to pick out some gifts for friends’ birthday parties).

Bryce Nina

Once she was headed for bed that night I took Metro into the city for the second time to kick off my Minneapolis based concert bucket list weekend. The trip there was fine, the Echostage school bus dropped me off right in front of the club. A sold out show there is as bad as sold out shows at Rams Head Live or Webster Hall – poor sightlines unless you’re up close on the floor or on the rail of the second level, plus bartenders that took forever. But The Replacements were good, and played pretty much all the songs I liked. Leaving was a pain because the bus does not leave from the club because of the traffic, instead stops at a nearby McDonalds, and I didn’t find that out for nearly an hour. At least Metro was open late, went to bed at 2AM.

Nina Kerry

The next day I posted “As God as my witness, I will never agree to taking Nina to 2 birthday parties in 1 day again”. Jill flew to NJ for a work meeting and didn’t get back until night. Nina and I left the house at 10:30, stopped at Bakeshop for cupcakes, and went to the first party – Teddy Bear Princess themed at a playground. She had a blast (and I got to talk to friends), but we got back a little before 4 and she had just fallen asleep so I let her sleep another 20 minutes, than we had to leave for the 2nd party at 5. That one was at Kid Junction where she had fun playing video games, in the pretend shops, and in the playground. And then she didn’t go to sleep until 10:30.


Sunday the 10th was Mother’s Day. I picked my mom up at Dulles as she was returning from her chorale tour of Ireland that day (here’s her last concert). The moms were served the tastiest steak in 12 parsecs for dinner. Jill said “I love it” – I said “I know”. Later I took Mom home and headed up to Baltimore to see Prince. I’d tried once before to see him and failed, so I’d bought a ticket the minute they went on sale. I also bought parking nearby in advance. There was heavy security at Royal Farms Arena and a long wait, but at last he took the stage, and it was all worth it. Not many people can get away with four encores, and that was after a pretty thorough greatest hits set.


Despite the worst traffic I’ve seen getting to Merriweather on Thursday the 14th, the Dear Jerry show was amazing. The core 4 showed up so much, it was practically a greatest hits show with special guests. And a nice passing of the torch to the next generation. The finale of “Touch Of Grey” and “Ripple” was a perfect way to finish the evening and especially nice to spend it with the Jewells.

Kerry Stuart

Saturday the 16th we went to the Chantilly Day after Nina’s gymnastics. There was an enormous bouncy slide and she got to sit in the firetruck, but her favorite part was watching the dance groups perform. Sunday I worked while Jill took her to the Fine Arts Festival after church. Tuesday Jill and I went to see Blues Traveler at Tally Ho in Leesburg, but it was late and we were tired and only stayed for about half the show (but did chat with the Jewells there).


Thursday the 21st I took the day off to do some basement cleaning (I never seem to have both the time and energy to do it), and I wondered what was worse: a dead mouse that smells, or a mouse that’s been dead so long it doesn’t smell? Friday I took Nina to Prairie Home Companion at Wolf Trap and went to the Jewells’ spot to find fellow Shantytowners Pete and Lisa. I wanted to see I’m With Her (Aoife O’Donovan, Sara Watkins and Sarah Jarosz), but Nina enjoyed the whole show – I hoped she will like the other 3 shows there this summer that much. Saturday my dad and Patricia came over for lunch and a boat ride before they also went to Prairie Home Companion, then later Jill and I saw Dave Matthews Band at the Lube, and since we went so late we missed dinner ended up at Ciao Osteria for some delicious Italian food (I had a pizza and she had the Eggplant Parmesan). Memorial Day Jill took Nina strawberry picking with her BFF while I slept in and mowed.

Nina Kerry Pete

I was an idiot twice Tuesday the 26th, but lucky. For a variety of reasons (including a heretofore unknown allergy to jazz flute), I’d never seen Steven Wilson solo (only in Porcupine Tree or Blackfield prior), but I really liked the new album (and if you don’t know the godfather of progressive rock 2.0, here’s a free sampler). I felt the show was amazing, just the right number of older songs as I wanted to hear the new stuff, but great performances all around. Afterwards I stopped for a quick snack at the Satellite Room (tasty tots) next door before heading back to Metro with plenty of time to catch a connecting train to Reston before closing. Or so I thought, because when I looked up from the book I was reading on my phone, I saw “Fort Totten” on the wall. I was so perplexed by that, the doors closed before I could do anything. I got off at West Hyattsville where I’d just missed a train, and had to wait for the last Green Line train back to DC. I went to Gallery Place and checked the next train page at Metro’s site and saw there was one more Orange Line train leaving in 11 minutes from Metro Center – I made it there in 5.


In West Hyattsville I’d downloaded the Lyft app (and a promo code), so I was good to go when I got to East Falls Church, and the driver soon dropped me at the Reston stop. Except he dropped me at the garage entrance, and rather than go down the ramp or outside and around to the plaza, I decided to look for another way up – and found an elevator. Up one level, and I was on the plaza – but inside a locked building. No problem, just take the elevator back down – except it wouldn’t go down. The doors closed, and it beeped, and then nothing. I checked all the doors, verified they were all locked, and didn’t find any stairs. I hit the call button (got nothing) and tried the elevator again. Finally I realized that the door hadn’t completely closed, and I shoved it closed and held it there – and it started moving down. This time I didn’t wait to go down the ramp.
Two things I learned:
a) Lyft is very useful
b) Nina can’t be told about this ‘til she’s 21

Nina Felix

Friday the 29th we went to Nina’s class picnic at the Herndon Festival to see Love Canon (a bluegrass band that does ’80s covers) at night. Saturday I took Nina to meet the author of Dozi the Alligator at One More Page Books (he called her his biggest fan), then she played at nearby Tuckahoe Park. That night we all headed to the Lube, had a quick tailgating picnic (we were late, a lot more traffic than the previous week’s show), then Nina and I headed in to see Rush. Jill was supposed to wait in the parking lot, but it turns out they patrol and threatened her with trespassing if she didn’t leave, so she went to Panera. Nina was a trouper at the show, made it through the entire 1st set. And since my dad took me to my 1st Rush show it makes her a 3rd generation fan. Jill picked her up at the front gate after they had her park in the VIP lot, then I watched the 2nd set (it was awesome, I really enjoyed “Roll the Bones”, “Jacob’s Ladder” and the extended section of “Cygnus X-1”).

Nina Kerry

Sunday I went back to the Herndon Festival in the morning and Nina and Jill joined me after church. My favorite was Pat McGee at the Depot Stage as he had Eddie Hartness on percussion. Later we went to O’Sullivan’s for lunch and Stuart joined me for a drink. We set up at the main stage to see Donna the Buffalo and Gaelic Storm, and left towards the end of Gaelic Storm’s set. Unfortunately Nina had another asthma attack start on the way home, but was doing better after using her nebulizer.

Pat McGee Eddie Hartness


Thursday the 2nd brought word of two very nice digital things. First was a remastered version of the unofficial soundtrack to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – worth getting just for the 2 exclusive new versions of “Beat City” & “I’m Afraid”. I’ve been obsessed with this soundtrack for a long time. Second was the news of a new BitTorrent bundle of Doctor Who episodes. Not a bad deal, and I can’t argue with their selection of episodes. Coincidentally, this helped push me pass 1TB of digital content (between music, pictures, videos, eBooks, digital comics and other files).


Saturday’s theme was unexpected adventures. Gymnastics canceled, woods walking instead of kite flying, a very fast lunch, and Nina’s first fall into the lake (I was right there). We had a tasty early dinner at Lyon Hall (mini franks and bone marrow hit the spot for me) followed by about 20 minutes of Amy Speace at Iota before we determined Nina wasn’t ready for it. And we finished with a nice playtime at a Clarendon playground. Sunday was Easter and Nina was excited to get her very own knitting needles. Mom came over for dinner and we had ham and artichokes.

Nina Jill

Wednesday the 8th Neil Gaiman retweeted me. Now time spent on Twitter is worth it… Saturday Nina and I collaborated on a song in the morning. I sing the bass line (“poop” repeated infinitely) and she sings on top of it. Sunday Dad came over for lunch (and his birthday).


Saturday the 18th the Cannons were in town and we met them at a playground in Falls Church, then we all had lunch at Mad Fox. We were planning on going to see Red Molly in Purcelville in the afternoon on Sunday, but Nina had another asthma attack and they stayed home while I went with Stuart and his dad, then I was home with her on Monday. The Cannons came over to our house for dinner on Tuesday, we all had Mexican food.

I’m sure the folks at the nerd prom had a good time Saturday the 25th, but I was 3rd row for a six song set from Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. It was part of Lead Belly at 125 – good times, they still sounded good, especially on “Gallows Pole”. The next night Jill and I had fun at Alan Doyle’s (ex-Great Big Sea) show at the Birchmere with a nice dinner beforehand at Cheestique – she danced so much she sprained her hamstring.

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss

Monday the 27th I realized some things do come in threes: the week before, Nina finally stopped using pull ups at night, the night before the baby gate cracked off at the hinges, and that morning she wanted to eat breakfast by herself. I told her she can’t get her own place until she’s 18. We measured her that night – she was 3′ 4.5″ (and of course had an accident the next two nights, went back to pull ups for a week, etc.).



On Thursday the 5th didn’t get much work done in the morning as it was a snow day (Jill made it to work), but I shoveled twice, made a big breakfast, and entertained a 3 year old and dog with a cone on his head (Illa had an eye infection). I was so happy mother-in-law Sue was with us as I did get some work in later.


Sunday the 8th Jill and Nina drove home with Sue as Jill’s youngest nephew was having surgery and she volunteered to be a surrogate mom to the other 3 while their parents were in Boston. It was a very long week for everyone, but lots of fun parts too (they visited the New England Aquarium and Nina tried rollerskating). I had a busy week at work without much time for play, plus some stomach troubles (which I did not help by getting Bon Chon takeout Thursday night).


I picked Jill and Nina up the morning of Saturday the 14th at BWI. The second best thing about the weekend (besides getting them home) was watching the wind completely demolish the ice on the lake Sunday. The third best thing was a corned beef and cabbage dinner with my mom (because who has time for that on a Tuesday?).


Thursday the 19th we saw The Pine Hill Project (Lucy Kaplansky & Richard Shindell) at the Barns at Wolf Trap. They did most of their new excellent album together, including incredible covers of U2’s “Sweetest Thing” and Dave Carter’s “Farewell To Saint Dolores” with master musician Larry Campbell. Friday I didn’t care if the stuff falling from the sky was snow, sleet, or a monstrous hybrid of howling monkeys and killer bees as long as school was not delayed and it didn’t transform other drivers into idiots.


Saturday the 21st we tried a new park (Tuckahoe Park) which Nina loved, then had lunch at the Heavy Seas Alehouse in Rosslyn (Nina liked her burger and really liked watching TV while she ate). Sunday afternoon we met up with the Norwoods at Frying Pan Farm Park to see the animals and ride the carousel, then they came over to our house for Mexican for dinner.

Nina Norwoods

Monday the 23rd Nina had her 2nd ballet recital (Jill was able to go to this one) and Tuesday started swim class (Jill took her to her gym). Thursday Jill and I had a fun dinner at Equinox (I almost never get pasta, but it was delicious) and saw the cast of Bob’s Burgers live at the Warner Theatre. Even better was Nina waking up and singing “you’re the bestest daddy in the world” the next morning. I didn’t ask her if she changed her mind post no time to play tantrum later.


Monday the 30th we had a scary experience as Nina had trouble breathing, and we ended up in the emergency room later that day. We now know it was allergy-induced asthma, but it was a hard week for her and us (I insisted Jill go out Tuesday to see The Breakfast Club by herself as she needed a break (and I’d bought tix weeks earlier).



Sunday the 1st I took Nina to Kidz Plaza for a friend’s birthday party. It was a little disconcerting since the last time we were there was for her birthday party, but she got over it quickly. She enjoyed herself at the Jewells’ Super Bowl party, but got a little crazy and we left early. Tuesday I mentioned that it’s hard to convince a 3 year old that Lucky Charms are more than a marshmallow delivery system.


Saturday the 7th we had lunch at Cheeburger Cheeburger after gymnastics and Nina let us know that when she and BFF Felix have little kids, they’re going to live far away in South America. After a gorgeous day playing outside Sunday, we took Nina to The Old Brogue for an early show by Beth Patterson and she did pretty well (and we wished happy birthday to Bernard). Tuesday I decided that one great thing about being a grownup is getting to pair a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with beer (also Tuesday we got a new microwave after being without one for a week).


Thursday the 12th I participated in my first live auction, for props from the Coraline movie. Some pieces went for a lot of money, but I managed to get a pencil drawing of the Apartments, artwork with the 26 different faces of Coraline, and the centerpiece: an early design of the apartments’ porch.


Saturday the 14th Mom came over and we went to the Mosaic District for Valentine’s Day, got a seat at the bar at B Side in 10 minutes (our 1st choice), had a yummy dinner (delicious charcuterie, “pig wings”, and fries) as we watched the storm blow through, then a slippery walk over to the Angelika to see Kingsman (great adaption) before an ok drive home. Lake Thoreau had frozen over Friday, but the wind was so strong on Sunday it blew the ice apart (Nina enjoyed her cocoa and a fire in the fireplace). As a Saturday Night Live super geek, Sunday night’s 40th anniversary show was just about perfect. It was a good mix of clips and new sketches with old characters. I was surprised Paul McCartney blew his voice out the night before and Paul Simon didn’t come out with Miley Cyrus to sing his song. The best moment might have been unscripted – Jim Carrey asking Matt Layer on the red carpet where they were hiding Brian Williams.

Nina Kerry

Monday the 16th Nina put on a concert (including songs from Django Jones and Frozen). There was snow on Tuesday and Nina went sledding, then Saturday we got the most snow of the season and that meant another fire in the fireplace and Nina’s first s’mores. Sunday we built a big snowman together (Jill’s mom Sue was down for a visit and was a big help when school was closed).

Monday the 23rd I had to share a link about why record store clerks are pretentious because the record store I owned with my friends Eric, John, and Steve was EXACTLY like that. That night I went to see Neal Morse at the State Theatre because legendary drummer Mike Portnoy was playing with him. A great performance, but disconcerting because there was a group of guys next to me that must have been under 21 because they had Xs on their hands, and therefore not born the first time I saw Mike Portnoy play with Dream Theater at Hammerjacks (I won’t even get into them covering “Jet”, a 41 year old song).

Nina Jill

Tuesday the 24th I was a chaperone as Nina’s class went on a field trip to my old high school, W.T. Woodson, to see the planetarium. It was very hard to keep Nina and her 2 friends quiet, and odd to see the changes at the school. Saturday the 28th was a movie double header. We wanted to finally seeing Jupiter Ascending, but found out Run Lola Run was playing at the Alamo Drafthouse at a late show (I knew Jill would be up for a late showing because she has 2 copies of the soundtrack). We initially thought just dinner beforehand, then decide on a double feature with an early show at the Googleplex. Jupiter Ascending was worth it just for that shot of the spaceship coming up through the ring. Then we had a quick dinner at The Dons’ Wood-Fired Pizza before Run Lola Run (a fantastic movie that still holds up).

Jill Kerry Nina


Friday the 2nd I watched the broadcast of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song to Billy Joel. I didn’t embarrass myself too bad on TV, and they only caught me singing along once. I’m glad the show was almost as much fun to watch the second time. Billy Joel’s pretty awesome. Saturday we went to Shirlington (which has really changed), ate good Thai food and saw Diner with music by Sheryl Crow – really good show.

Kerry Hannah

Weather in the 60s was an excellent to time to visit Dad at the beach Sunday – Nina enjoyed the pirate ship off the boardwalk, and shocked us by eating and enjoying red clam sauce. She also got her last Christmas present: an electric Loog guitar. We picked up some Bojangles takeout for dinner that night on the way back. We thought Nina’s new Sofia the First nightgown was great as she got dressed for bed all by herself Sunday night. Monday night we raced the clock to wash it as then she wouldn’t wear anything else. Sigh.


Saturday the 10th I took Nina to a friend’s birthday at Jammin’ Java with Gustafer Yellowgold. Nina really enjoyed the show to the point of running off to meet the man behind the music as soon as the show ended. When your backing band has Sam Bush, Sara Watkins, Don Was, and Buddy Guy, you know it’s gonna be a good concert, and the tribute to Emmylou Harris (later that day) did not disappoint. And I got to return the favor to Hannah (who had a great backup plan of dinner at District Commons when Founding Farmers didn’t work out).


Too bad a fun day Saturday was followed by a flu day Sunday. 104 degree fevers do not a happy child make. Jill stayed home with her Monday and Tuesday (but she went solo to her company’s annual party at L’Auberge Chez Francois Monday). I was home with her on Wednesday, discovering her education had been neglected. No more princesses, that day it was Legos, remote controlled race cars and the complete Dream Theater discography. Thursday Jill needed some Indian food, so I stopped at Mayuri on the way home.


Saturday the 17th was our annual trip to see Eddie From Ohio during their 3 night stand at the Birchmere. Very happy to see Pat McGee open (and get copies of both shows), and we got to see the Jewells and Joel at intermission. We didn’t stick around to say hi to the band, as we had missed our chance to get milkshakes during Diner, so we darted off to Crystal City so I could try the toasted marshmallow milkshake at Good Stuff Eatery (totally worth it).


Monday the 19th I had the day off and took Nina to the Building Zone at the National Building Museum. Too bad everyone else had the same idea and it was sold out for the whole day. Nina didn’t care too much as they left out some materials for kids to play with, she got to run around in an indoor space bigger than a football field and poke through the gift shop. The McDonald’s at Verizon Center was a hectic mess, but she enjoyed her lunch.


Saturday the 24th I learned a homeowner pro tip: answering the door in just a towel causes Jehovah’s Witnesses to leave immediately. Later that night was movie night at Nina’s school. The kids voted so we watched Frozen, of course. She finally made it all the way through (not a fan of Marshmallow, we had been fast-forwarding through his appearances). Sunday night I went to see Extreme perform their second album in Baltimore. Hard to believe “More Than Words” is 25 years old, but they still sound great. And I finally got to hear “Song For Love”.


Monday the 26th Jill and I went to see Robbie Schaefer try out a new weekly series of music and discussion called The Elephant Sessions. Saturday the 31st we watched Sleeping Beauty and ate Jill’s homemade popcorn and Nina watched the whole thing (minus a little fast forwarding during the dragon battle).



Monday December 3rd I went to Nina’s ballet “recital” (one dance to “Let It Go”), then that night she started working blue:
Let it go,
let it go,
poop in your pants



Saturday the 6th the best thing about my 20th Dar Williams show was all the songs I hadn’t heard live before, thanks to her playing The Honesty Room straight through (with 2 accompianists and only 4 other songs in the set). Plus we got to tell her how weird it was seeing her play “Iowa” without a hill full of lights (and that Chris Chin was sorry he couldn’t make it, but she already knew that). And we finally got frickles again thanks to the Del Ray Pizzeria (who also makes a mean burger). Sunday Nina had a great time at Kidz Plaza for Olivia G.’s birthday party.

Jill Dar Kerry

Tuesday the 9th Jill joined Nina’s class for their annual trip to Discovery Theatre in D.C. for the play “Season of Lights.” That night was my last concert of the year as I snuck away to Jammin’ Java between dinner time and bedtime to see Winterpills. Their new covers CD is good, as are the new songs they debuted. And a brand new thing happened as they were the first concert I saw in 2014 as well. Thursday morning Nina made up new verses to “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?”:
Mosquito, Mosquito, what do you see?
I see a Blackbird looking at me.


Saturday the 13th was our annual holiday party. Nina had a small cold and cough (but not enough to keep her running around like a maniac at gymnastics earlier) and 7 kids showed up, she had a blast. Wednesday morning Nina wanted toast, then a biscuit, then more toast. On my way back from making the 2nd piece of toast, I noticed tiny little bite marks on the stick of butter. She told me she was hungry. #mydaughterisabutterfiend


Nina loves Red Light/Green Light and sometimes we play it in the car. We came up with Purple Light, which means we can dance at long lights. Now Nina likes to call for both Green Light and Purple Light as we walk to school. Luckily we don’t see many people on the path in the morning (like Friday morning).


Saturday the 20th we left for Christmas vacation. The trip north was long, but when we decided to stop for pizza in New Haven, we went to Pepe’s. Good decision (and there’s a playground a block away). Only the 2nd time we’ve come up through New York City in all the years we’ve been coming up.


It was an exhausting yet fun week, with all of us gone through various states of sickness – Nina to the doctor on Monday, and Jill to the ER on Christmas Eve (she was OK, just sinusitis that spread to the ear and eye). Sunday we were at Jill’s dad’s for lunch and Christmas we were at the Brady’s for dinner, and the Cannons came out to visit on Monday. Nina was especially excited to spend time with Ava, her youngest cousin.


We managed to extend our streak of holiday eves spent in the ER to 2 when Nina had an allergic reaction on New Year’s Eve (stoopid Breyers). But she was thankfully ok.

Artists To Watch 2015

Again this year my music buying was mostly online, free tracks from NoiseTrade, Google Play, and Amazon as well as preordering mp3s and CDs from Kickstarter and PledgeMusic.

This year was marked by a lot of unexpected collaborations.

Band Song Why them
01. The Family Crest Beneath The Brine Unexpected instrumentation and tempo.
02. Robbie Schaefer No More Goodbyes Collaboration #1: Robbie formed a trio for this recording with Jake Armerding and Rachael Davis.
03. Bobtown Across The River Falcon Ridge faves with fine voices melding together.
04. The Silent War We Are Broken Collaboration #2: Adrianne Gonzalez and Garrison Starr join forces officially.
05. Team Mathias A Thousand Years Collaboration #3: Todd Wright with Toby Lightman and Taylor Carson to raise funds for Team Mathias.
06. Early Winters Love Won’t Leave Me Alone Carina Round plays with Puscifer and Tears for Fears and of course formed an Americana band with harmonies.
07. Pearl and the Beard You A folk-pop trio I saw on a whim at Barns At Wolf Trap when the family was out of town.
08. Space Elevator Elevator And now it’s time for the big dumb rock with harmonies. Speaking of…
09. Hurtsmile Rock & Roll Cliché Extreme’s Gary Cherone is back with a band that tends towards the harder side.
10. The Both Milwaukee Collaboration #4: Didja know Aimee Mann and Ted Leo formed a band? And it’s good?
11. The Grownup Noise New Outsiders Catchy pop, just got a nice review here.
12. Toby Lightman Running From Love More dance oriented that her last album, but still a great chorus.
13. Coin It’s Okay Power poppers found because they toured with Jukebox the Ghost.
14. Owen Danoff Never Been Kissed Local (and son of Bill Danoff) does just fine on his own.
15. The Once We Are All Running Canadian folkies with nice harmonies.
16. Johnnyswim Diamonds Husband and wife duo with a big sound.
17. Twin Forks Back To You Collaboration #5: Dashboard Confessional’s Chris Carrabba starts an Americana band and it’s darn good.
18. Dan Wilson I Can Never Stay Mad at You And I can never stay away from the beautiful pop from the ex-Semisonic frontman.
19. The Whiskey Switch Minnesota Collaboration #6: Luke Brindley forms a trio with Taylor Swift sideman Mike Meadows on banjo and mandolin and Laura Tsaggaris.
20. Mouths of Babes River On Your Right Collaboration #7: Girlyman’s Ty Greenstein and Coyote Grace’s Ingrid Elizabeth form a band (and couple).
21. We’re About 9 A Beautiful Fear (Write It All Down) Locals still making some damn good music.