July

Thursday the 1st it was Jill’s birthday and her mom, older sister Melissa and nephew Tiernan came to visit. We had Chinese food for dinner and Jill got a cake and gifts. Nina was still in skateboarding camp and went to a skate park during the day Friday, then we ate at Amphora that night (in an empty dining room since outdoor seating was in the sun). Saturday Melissa, Tiernan, Nina & I went to Dave & Busters in Fairfax, then we all had a late lunch at Ford’s Fish Shack in South Riding. The outside seating was nice and the crab legs delicious – I just needed to walk over to the nearby grocery store to pick up some unsalted butter before the food arrived. Later Jill, Sue and I went to concert #2: Dar Williams at the Strathmore Patio Stage (they put a tent over the patio behind the concert hall). A very Falcon Ridge show as it rained heavily right before the show and some during, a cool breeze blew and kids fell asleep on their parents’ laps.

Nina
second from right, with two of her besties

Sunday was the 4th of July and everyone else went to the Baltimore Aquarium. I’d planned my day by starting yard work, but got a rude surprise as I got stung as I started on the Magnolia bush by what turned out to be a bald faced hornet. I did some first aid on the sting, then did the rest of the yard. I didn’t feel too bad after a shower, but the sting site was red and inflamed for a week. That night I grilled and everyone but Sue went out on the boat to watch the fireworks extravaganza. Monday was my holiday and Jill, Sue, Tiernan and I went to the Spy Museum in DC (Nina started art camp). Everyone but Sue went home Thursday.

Nina

Friday I had Veteran Pest come and remove the giant hornet nest (the guy calmly dressed in a beekeeper suit, went out and sprayed and scraped). He said they should be gone in a day. After work, Jill and I left for the weekend as Sue had offered to watch Nina. We hadn’t made dinner plans, and stopped at Parrando’s in Ashburn for Mexican. It wasn’t bad, but I wasn’t expecting my tacos to be so salty. We headed west and realized we would have no access to alcohol at the remote place we were staying in, so found Tri-State Liquors not too far away in Brunswick. It was a hidden gem, with dusty bottles up to the ceiling in every nook and cranny – I had to stop myself after a while. We kept going and were soon at the Inn at Stone Manor.

Jill Nina

Since we were near Catoctin Creek, Saturday we planned on going to the Catoctin Creek Distillery. Then when we mapped it, saw it was in Purcellville VA (and a closer drive to home). But we had bought tix for a tasting tour, so hit the road (and it was a nice drive). We drove through Hillsboro and it was a bit weird to see the short stretch of redone roads until I read this article. Purcelville was nice and we had burgers from Market Burger Fries & Shakes before the distillery. I had the cocktail sampler and bought some more liquor to add to the stash. We stopped by Re-Love It then headed back to the inn.

Kerry

Jill had thought about taking Lyft to and from Frederick, but I told her I wasn’t going to drink much. We drove to Frederick and I went to The Rock and Roll Graveyard and Record Exchange while Jill went to Magpie Fibers. Then I joined her at Brewers Alley for a pint before our reservation at Thacher & Rye. When we’d eaten there before, it was called Volt, but it was still run by Bryan Volltagio. We both had a delicious three course meal (the pork chop was outstanding). We decided to walk down to South Mountain Creamery to get ice cream, which was a little disappointing for coming from a creamery.

Kerry Jill

Sunday we checked out and drove to Middletown to have breakfast at The Main Cup, then went to Frederick to explore the treasures at Wonder Book & Video. Nina had sniffles on Friday that developed into a cold, but Sue took care of her, even going to Glory Days for a favorite meal. She had to get a Covid test just in case, but it was negative.

Nina

Monday the 12th Nina started Camp Goodtimes on The Road with the Grunspans. She got to go to Paddle Boating, Bowling/Cavalier Family Skating, the Science Museum of Virginia & Splashdown Waterpark. The only problem was their bus broke down on Wednesday and they were 2 hours late getting back. Friday we got takeout from Santinis. Saturday Jill took Nina over to Bards Alley where she met author Megan Wagner Lloyd. Sunday morning I got up at sunrise. I had found more bald faced hornets in a small nest in our bush, and I’d bought spray after the last nest. I dressed in ski clothes and a fish net over my hat (and looked ridiculous, Jill was bummed I didn’t take a picture) but when I went outside I didn’t have a clean shot without cutting branches, so went back to bed and called Veteran Pest the next day. Also my massive summer playlist served up “Hungry Heart” followed by “Hungry Eyes”. Randomized, my ass.

Nina Megan Wagner Lloyd

Wednesday the 21st Veteran Pest returned – the same guy in fact. He took one look, muttered that he should have come back an hour later the first time, and put on the suit, sprayed and scraped again (this time they did not come back). Nina had Aquatics Camp that week and got sunburned on her face before we started sending her with a sun hat, then Friday she had a picnic dinner with her friends in our backyard. Saturday was concert #3: Chris Thile at Wolf Trap, with a lovely dinner buffet (the volunteers served us each type of food like a cafeteria) on the Associates deck before. Lovely night for a concert, and so glad to be back at Wolf Trap. We had 2 tickets for Encore Circle that night, and Nina and Jill spent about half the show there and I didn’t have to leave early. Nina had her friend Bailey over on Sunday.

Nina

Wednesday the 28th was concert #4: Aoife O’Donovan at Wolf Trap by myself. It was a warm night with a slight breeze, makes it really feel like Falcon Ridge season. Having The Knights for her new “America, Come” song cycle and special guest Yasmin Williams made up for her show being my first Covid cancellation back in March 2020. Saturday we were up early to start vacation. They cancelled in 2020, but the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival was back for a one day event at the Goshen Fairgrounds and we got there to see Susan Werner, Vance Gilbert & The Slambovian Circus of Dreams for concert #5. We also saw Andrea, Jim & Chris from Shantytowne, then got takeout from Grey Area Tavern and ate at Andrea & Jim’s house. It was nice to catch up, but a wasp outside made Nina want to go inside, and with the 5 cats that live there, it wasn’t long until she had her first asthma attack in quite a while (also March 2020). Then we spent the night at Jill’s mom’s house.

Nina Kerry

During work, since I’d stopped listening to live shows, I had just been listening to random music, but in July decided to listen to my whole collection in order from the start. This month’s music collection note: I have all the AC/DC hits (mostly from Who Made Who and the Iron Man 2 soundtrack), but at some point I acquired 1983’s Flick Of The Switch and 1988’s Blow Up Your Video. They were entirely unnecessary (besides the hits).

June

Tuesday the 1st our CSA from Potomac Vegetable Farms started – got lots of leafy greens and garlic scapes. Friday we got takeout from Mehak Indian. Saturday Jill had her fiber friends over to watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail since they were working on a project related to the movie, and Nina and Celina got to watch. Apparently too much time has passed, as we’d forgotten portions of that movie are very much NSFW. Parents of the year, us.

Nina

Friday the 11th was Nina’s last day of school. Sunday Nina and I invented a new game called plushieball, then Jill said “When your pool date with your kiddo gets canceled you settle down with a nice cuppa and Izzy’s Koala World on Netflix. My mug is a favorite from AlexCreates.” Monday Nina was back in Day Camp after it was cancelled last year – first time she’d been out of the house 5 days in a row since the pandemic started (and it was weird to eat lunch by myself all week).

Nina Jill

Friday the 18th I took the day off to run errands – finally found a good place I could get a good haircut (since my hairstylist of 16 years retired last year) at Roosters. Nina came home from camp that day with sunburn so bad on her shoulders they blistered. Jill wrote a blistering email to the camp director and they were better at reminding the campers to reapply after that. Nina had her Tae Kwon Do graduation to brown belt that night, and got through it without a single complaint.

Nina

Saturday I had to go back to work again – the day before I’d gotten my PC, but missed the fact that the video output was DisplayPort and I didn’t have an adapter for my monitor, so I got my monitors. Meanwhile, Jill took Nina to a coworker’s party, where there were kids and a playground and I didn’t see them for hours. We celebrated Juneteenth that night with sausages and chow-chow, green beans, corn & red velvet cupcakes.

dinner

Sunday we went to my dad’s house for Father’s Day and brought Bojangles for us, him and Patricia. Jill said “Happy Father’s Day to the man that takes care of our family in the best possible way! We love you, Kerry Frey!”

Nina

Friday the 25th we got takeout from Saao Thai. Later I had to LOL at this. Saturday Nina and I had a photo hashtag war and went shopping for Jill’s birthday (she budgeted her money and got some toys for herself too).

Kerry

Monday the 28th Nina started Camp on Wheels (skateboarding) and of course got a bad scrape on her knee the first day. Tuesday I said Wait, what!?! about this. Wednesday we had the maids in as we were about to have visitors.

Nina

May

Saturday the 1st was concert #1: the first time we’ve gotten in a car to see a show since last February, to see Chyrsalis, featuring Jody Marshall and Jim Queen (Iona) at an outside, socially distanced show at Walker Nature Center. They even had a dancer! Monday Nina had her 1st in person SOL assessments in 2 years with the reading one.

Kerry Nina

Friday I heard about a kids book based on GnR lyrics and thought they can make maybe 3 more before they run out if G rated ones. We had Tonys pizza for dinner – that weekend was taxes. Tuesday the 11th I posted that you can hear the full song from the episode of The Simpsons that ripped Moz a new one (and had me laughing more than any episode in recent years).

Nina

Friday the 14th Jill’s mom, older sister, and her brother in law came down for her niece’s commencement, but we had to cancel our plans to meet up for dinner on Saturday after the neighbor who is mom of 2 of Nina’s close friends came down with Covid. She was fully vaccinated, but the whole family got it, so we had to isolate for a week. Sunday we got to get tested and all of us were negative – Jill took Nina out to get Cold Stone that afternoon.

Nina

Since the diagnosis was negative, Jill’s mom Sue stayed with us the next week, taking Nina to her 4th grade Math SOL assessments and her orthodontics appointment on Monday and other appointments the rest of the week and really helping us out. Friday I’ve been on a Great Big Sea kick that week, and this was the topper.

Nina

Saturday the 22nd Nina went with her Girl Scout troop and earned her Junior Horsemanship badge and apparently awakened the standard girl love of horses. That night Sue watched Nina overnight (with dinner at Glory Days, natch) while Jill and I stayed in Mosaic at Hyatt House. We had dinner at B Side (pork chop was amazing), whiskey tasting at MacMillan Whisky Room and some Wizards Unite action until they closed down Strawberry Park. Jill said “1st kid free overnight trip in, well, quite a while. It’s not far but we enjoyed every minute.”

Jill Kerry

In the morning we had brunch at Ted’s Bulletin before Sue and Nina swung by and got Jill where they went to church and participated in a new Bible ceremony (and I hit CD Cellar). Later they all got pedicures before Nina’s friend Bailey came over and they created their submission for the Terraset Virtual Talent Show, followed by us on the boat with Celina.

Nina

Friday the 28th we got takeout from True Food Kitchen. I saw The Weeknd do an excellent duet with Ariana Grande of “Save Your Tears” at the iHeartRadio Awards, but this version from the Billboard Music Awards the week before is the best socially distant video ever.

Nina

Sunday it wasn’t great weather, so Nina and I finally opened the bonus box from Lego Brick Fest Live we’d ordered together (she convinced me to split the cost). Monday was Memorial Day and nice. Nina made a cicada friend (funny because she’s not a fan of any other bug species), then she went swimming off the boat with Celina & Carly. I grilled hot dogs (found one kind that’s only 15% RDA of sodium and made my own buns) while Jill made us a strawberry rhubarb crisp for dessert.

Nina

Nina’s new expression of the month was “Yeet!” – with the same meaning as “Yeesh!”

April concert flashbacks

  • 4/5 Concert flashback #219: Heather Nova at Jammin’ Java in 2016.
  • 4/6 Concert flashback #220: Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Sheryl Crow, Donovan, Eddie Vedder, Moby, Ben Harper, Paul Horn, Angelo Badalamenti, Betty LaVette, Jim James & Jerry Seinfeld for Change Begins Within at Radio City Music Hall in 2009.
  • 4/7 Concert flashback #221: Dave Matthews Band at MCI Center in 2002. Jill’s first DMB show.
  • 4/8 Concert flashback #222: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young at MCI Center in 2000.
  • 4/9 Concert flashback #223: A double shot of short sets by the Pat McGee Band – Tower Records [Vienna] in 2000 & the Z104 Lounge in 2004 (thanks to my friend Linda).
  • 4/12 Concert flashback #224: Joan Baez, Tupac Shakur tribute, Electric Light Orchestra, Pearl Jam, Journey and Yes (plus guests including 2/3s of Rush) for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2017.
  • 4/13 Concert flashback #225: The first time I saw Foo Fighters in Baltimore in 1996. 25 years ago! Amps & that dog. opened.
  • 4/14 Concert flashback #226: David Gilmour in Toronto in 2006. Only the next night is online.
  • 4/15 Concert flashback #227: Tanya Donelly at the Black Cat in 2002.
  • 4/16 Concert flashback #228: The Dead at Verizon Center in 2009.
  • 4/19 Concert flashback #229: Rush at Quicken Loans Arena in 2011 for my only appearance on an official Rush album.
  • 4/20 Concert flashback #230: Great Big Sea at Warner Theatre in 2013. Their last tour, now 10 years ago.
  • 4/21 Concert flashback #231: Rush, Heart, Albert King tribute, Randy Newman, Public Enemy and Donna Summer tribute (plus guests) for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2013.
  • 4/22 Concert flashback #232: Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets at Constitution Hall in 2019. After I saw Pink Floyd’s final tour in 1994, I saw Roger 6 times, David 3 times (once with Richard) and finally Nick again.
  • 4/23 Concert flashback #233: The final one. Yes, it’s been a year since I started listening to a concert I’d been to a day from this week in the past, every weekday. I chose my favorites, and I’m going out with a good one: Melissa Etheridge, George Michael, Pet Shop Boys, Garth Brooks, k.d. lang, Michael Feinstein, Chaka Khan, Rufus Wainwright and Albita for Equality Rocks at RFK Stadium in 2000. First and last time seeing George Michael, and he did a duet with Garth Brooks.

April

Thursday the 1st we were still on spring break at Disney World. Another early morning as this day we headed to Animal Kingdom. We got some pictures and headed over to Pandora to ride the Na’vi River Journey, then off to DinoLand U.S.A. where Ava rode Expedition Everest, then joined me and Sue on Dinosaur while Nina rode TriceraTop Spin and she and Jill played carnival games. Next we had lunch at Restaurantosaurus before we walked to the Wildlife Express Train and took the train to Conservation Station, where Ava, Nina and I did The Animation Experience. After the train back, we waited in line (and got drinks), then rode Kilimanjaro Safaris.

Nina

The wait was down somewhat, so it was time to ride Avatar Flight of Passage, Nina’s favorite ride from our previous visit. Jill had stopped to get coffee, and barely made it back into line before we were in the part of line that went inside. Inexplicably, right before we were about to ride, Nina said she didn’t want to do it – first time that happened (she had misgivings at Tower of Terror, but still went on). But she was old enough to wait outside, so she did. We got some pictures and shopping done afterwards, then left.

Jill Nina Kerry Sue

We dropped Jill and Sue at Disney Springs to shop (at Goofy’s Cando Co and The Spice & Tea Exchange) while the rest of us went to the hotel. I picked them up later and we drove south with a quick stop at Wawa for my meal as we were meeting Aunt Kelley and her paramour at their house and they were getting Subway and Popeye’s for dinner. We stayed on their porch as we didn’t realize they had 2 cats, but Nina did well.

Kerry Jill Kelley Jake Nina

Friday we returned to Hollywood Studios. Jill and I had gotten up early again and both got on a boarding group on Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. We didn’t want to take any chance, so we headed back to the park. We got guest services to make sure both parties were merged into the same group, then walked over and soon were in line. Once again Nina decided once we got to the ride itself she didn’t want to go on, but this time we went through the first part after a cast member convinced her it was tame (it was). She didn’t want to do the 2nd part, so Jill and her mom waited with her while Ava and I rode, then we waited outside with her while they rode. It’s a shame, because that was an outstanding ride and experience. Next we waited in line for Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. Once again, Nina wanted out at ride time, and Jill went with her. We decided that was a wise decision as Jill was getting weary of the violent motion simulators.

Nina Kerry Jill Sue

We took some pictures next to the Falcon, Nina and I wandering around Star Wars Land (aka Black Spire Outpost) while the others rode the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. When Nina and I wanted a break, I got her popcorn mixed with candy, then we went over to BaseLine Tap House where I got a beer flight and Nina had a strawberry lemonade. We went back to Star Wars Land for a bit, then met with Sue and rode Toy Story Mania! while Jill took Ava back to the hotel so she could catch up schoolwork.

Jill Ava Sue

Jill brought us McDonald’s for lunch, then she, Nina and her mom went to ride Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and watch Muppets 4-D while I got to explore Star Wars Land by myself in person and virtually (you can interact with characters through the Play Disney app). I bought a Porg which Nina immediately confiscated. Later we had reservations at Oga’s Cantina and we all got funky drinks: I got a Bespin Fizz and Nina got Oga’s Obsession, then Nina and I had an appointment at Droid Depot and built droids: she choose an R2 unit and I got a BB one. Meanwhile Sue rode Slinky Dog Dash.

Nina

Jill choose takeout from Kobé Japanese Steakhouse without realizing it was in Orlando, so we drove up to get it (it was delicious). The next morning was Saturday and we checked out and going. Not too quickly as we’d already decided to take our time and split the trip back into 2 parts. We stopped at the new Buc-ees north of and stopped for lunch at a Sonic in Savannah. We ran into a lot of traffic, getting to our planned takeout at Pier 41 Seafood just minutes before they closed at 9PM, then it was still 30 minutes before we got to the Hampton Inn Fayetteville Fort Bragg. The drive was shorter on Sunday and we did run into some traffic (including seeing an accident in progress just before Fredericksburg), but were home by early afternoon. We had an Easter dinner and all the girls (Maddie had come over too) played games while I cleaned up.

Nina Maddie Sue Ava Jill

Jill took the next 2 days off. The relatives left Tuesday morning, then we got back to our schedule, with one change that week: the second dose of my vaccine. This time it was at the Government Center, and with long lines that wound around and made me think I was back at Disney World. It was still fairly quick though.

Nina

Not too much went on the rest of the month. Nina had her regular routine of in person Tae Kwon Do Monday and Thursday, plus virtual voice lessons on Wednesday. We had takeout on Fridays (Maggianos, Flower Child, Sweet Frog & Pista House) and family night on Saturday. Nina had a belt graduation on Friday the 23rd and finished her Saturday morning virtual drama class on the 24th. Sunday the 25th we went to visit my dad to celebrate his birthday belatedly. Jill said “An almost normal busy weekend. N made it to Level 3 in TaeKwonDo and got a trophy in addition to her new belt for her achievement. We made a trip to MD to visit K’s dad and his SO since we (adults anyway) are all fully vaccinated. I’m so profoundly grateful that so far, we’ve made it through.”

Patricia Bryce Nina Kerry

Friday the 30th I’d signed Nina up for the virtual Lego Brick Fest Live. A package of Legos had arrived beforehand so she could build during the show. She liked it – too bad Jill got home from work after it started so we had a late dinner.

Nina

March concert flashbacks

  • 3/1 Concert flashback #199: The Killer B’s (Jim Boggia, Tracy Bonham and Bleu) at Jammin’ Java in 2011.
  • 3/2 Concert flashback #200: Mark Olson & Gary Louris (The Jayhawks) at Rams Head in 2005.
  • 3/3 Concert flashback #201: Brian May at Hammerjacks in 1993.
  • 3/4 Concert flashback #202: 4 Way Street at Iota in 2004.
  • 3/5 Concert flashback #203: Extreme at Hammerjacks in 1995.
  • 3/8 Concert flashback #204: Quitter UK at TT Reynolds in 2003.
  • 3/9 Concert flashback #205: Queen + Paul Rodgers at MCI Center in 2006.
  • 3/10 Concert flashback #206: Fleetwood Mac at Verizon Center in 2009. Hard choice as I also saw them there in March of 2019 – no Christine or no Lindsey? But obviously, Lindsey.
  • 3/11 Concert flashback #207: Rush at Richmond Coliseum in 1992. Last time I saw them during college. Primus opened.
  • 3/12 Concert flashback #208: I’m With Her (Sara Watkins/Sarah Jarosz/Aoife O’Donovan) at the 9:30 Club in 2018.
  • 3/15 Concert flashback #209: Sting & Paul Simon at Verizon Center in 2014.
  • 3/16 Concert flashback #210: Furthur at Patriot Center in 2011.
  • 3/17 Concert flashback #211: ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic at Strathmore in 2018.
  • 3/18 Concert flashback #212: Eddie From Ohio at Borders DC in 2003. A short show, so also adding in short sets from Gary Cherone (Extreme) at Sky Bar in 2006 & Pearl Jam at Saturday Night Live in 2010.
  • 3/19 Concert flashback #213: Jimmy Page & Robert Plant at US Air Arena in 1995. I went both nights (didn’t want to miss any Zep), slightly better performance second night.
  • 3/22 Concert flashback #214: Experience Hendrix with Billy Cox, Dweezil Zappa, Chris Layton, Eric Johnson, Jonny Lang, Dave Mustaine, Mato Nanji, Taj Mahal, Joe Satriani, Doug Pinnick & Kenny Aronoff at Warner Theatre in 2019.
  • 3/23 Concert flashback #215: Getaway Car at Jammin’ Java in 2006.
  • 3/24 Concert flashback #216: Van Halen at Verizon Center in 2012.
  • 3/25 Concert flashback #217: Cry Cry Cry at Calvin Theatre in 2018.
  • 3/26 Concert flashback #218: Metallica at Richmond Coliseum in 1992.

March

Friday the 5th I remembered Saturday night at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in 2005, I went to see GrooveLily and Jim Infantino at the Budgiedome and when I got back Mike from efo had stopped by with bandmates, then returned with friends, Randy, Mark and Rhonda, two guitarists and a mandolin player. They and about 30 other people (and Stuart on guitar) were out in the middle of the road singing cover songs. I finally asked Mike permission to post it my recording, and he said yes. Later that evening Nina’s school was hosting another drive in movie at Wolf Trap, but last minute Jill’s car wouldn’t start. Nina went with friends to pick up ours and theirs food from The Sandwich Shop while Jill and I transferred everything to my car and met them there. The movie was Sing, which I’ve seen several times so I didn’t need to pay full attention as I tested out using our big power bank in the wild for the first time – radio worked fine, crockpot with the hot chocolate (it was a cold night) was quite a power drain.

Celina Leila Nina Pearl

Saturday I ran errands with Nina including stopping at Duck Donuts and Flippin’ Pizza. That night Jill and had our postponed Valentine’s Day date at Le Diplomate. They had really taken pandemic dining to a new level with their “Streetside Chateus”, partioned stalls with tables and chairs as well as a vent with heat (so hot in fact I took off my jacket and sat near the outside edge). The food was wonderful, I went with the lobster frites as they made the fries unsalted. We maxed out our time, and Jill got creme brulee and I got a bottle of port to go (Nina got to play with her friends).

Jill Kerry

Saturday the 13th was nice enough the girls wanted to kayak after starting to build a cardboard boat. Tuesday was Nina’s return to school as she was back on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Unfortunately her teacher did not return to school, so she used headphones and a laptop on a classroom with other students whose teacher was still virtual, but getting do Specials (like Spanish and gym), playing on the playground with friends and going to the library made up for some of that. I thought it was very strange to drop my daughter at school for the first time in a year. But it felt right. What felt wrong was making her lunch in the morning. So used to making it at lunchtime now.

For Saint Patrick’s Day on Wednesday the 17th, I brined the corned beef, made pumpernickel bread and what I thought was my mom’s chocolate cake, cut into the traditional clover. Turns out it’s her mom’s recipe, and great-grandma’s dad immigrated from Ireland, so that was traditional as we can make it. That weekend we had a European tour of seafood: paella on Saturday, mussels for lunch Sunday, and fish and chips for dinner that night. The good news: Nina ate them all. I got my first shot of Pfizer on Saturday morning at EagleBank Arena (aka Patriot Center) and it was weird to be there for something other than a show, but I was in and out fairly quickly. Tuesday the 23rd I took advantage of Nina in school to get the maids in for the first time in over a year, then went out to get a haircut. When I took a walk on Thursday, I realized that the cicadas don’t feel like waiting any longer to go outside. I feel ya, fellas.

dinner

When the pandemic started, we had been planning a trip during Spring Break to Orlando with Jill’s mom and Nina’s cousin. We had moved it to the fall, and when it was clear that wouldn’t work, moved to this Spring Break (the Disney World tickets would expire soon after, and were not cheap). There was disturbing news as in Miami people weren’t masking or observing social distancing, but Disney World and Universal Orlando had enforced the restrictions strongly since reopening. Nina’s pulmonologist told us he was ok with her going, but she shouldn’t fly. So we decided to rent a minivan. Jill decided to go with Dollar, and after all the extra fees they added on, then didn’t have the minivan she’d reserved. But they had a Chevy Traverse that had Florida license plates, which made it a winner. Sue and Ava drove down that Friday, so we were able to leave early morning on Saturday the 27th.

We had decided to try and do the whole thing in 1 day because we had a packed week. Besides Jill driving, most people slept after our 4:30am start. We made our first stop at Anne’s Donuts in NC where they had the most delicious cream cheese donut. We also stopped at a Sonic for drinks. Nina loves White Castle, and one is opening up in Orlando soon. We had heard Krystal was their equivalent in the South, so decided to stop at one past Savannah in Georgia for lunch. Of course thanks to many backups, it was late afternoon when we got there, and that and the Starbucks were drive thru only. We made the best of it, sitting at a Starbucks table, but the food just wasn’t that good. We didn’t make it to our hotel, the accurately titled DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at the Entrance to Universal Orlando until 9:30pm and didn’t manage to do much besides fall asleep.

Kerry Nina Jill

Sunday we were up early because while Universal Orlando didn’t require park reservations like Disney World, they did stop letting people in when the parks reached current capacity. It was the easiest park to get to that week with a 15 minute walk to CityWalk, but then we had a wait as the Universal Orlando tickets had expired. I had set up an exchange with someone at their Twitter account, but still needed to go stand in line at guest services and then find the original pdf of the tickets from my email. But after that we were good to go inside Universal Studios Florida and soon got on the Transformers ride. Ava really wanted to do The Simpsons ride, so we went there next (Jill and will skip that in the future), then went over to what we’d been waiting for a decade, Diagon Alley.

Diagon Alley was as real as we’d hoped it would be. After wandering around Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes (astonishing how close the Wizards Unite version was to it) and around, we noticed there was a long line for Ollivander’s Wand Shop, so I got in it. It was 90 minutes long, so Sue and Ava left so Ava could ride the rollercoaster, and Jill and Nina went to the Leaky Cauldron to get lunch. I did get to see the 2 shows there while I waited, plus we tried the Gillywater from the Eternelle’s Elixir of Refreshment stand (I had the Fire Protection Potion). As the line got closer to the front, Jill switched with me and I had lunch as Nina finished up. Then we went inside and Nina got to choose her wand with Ollivander (very well done) before we did some videos with Sue and Ava who had finished. Nina got to play with her wand as there’s a number of places to interact with it there, and as we were about to get in line for Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts, the ride broke down.

We went over and rode Men In Black (shooting fine, 720 degree spins not fine), then Ava went to ride the rollercoaster again and we got drinks. I had managed to get a virtual line pass for Revenge of the Mummy, and Jill and Ava rode that. We decided we were done, but then saw there was a photo op with Optimus Prime in 30 minutes. Jill and I waited while Sue, Nina and Ava did the Transformers ride again. We stopped on the way out to take pictures at a studio (we had purchased the photo pass, so no additional cost), then walked back to the hotel. We still had to get our luggage and put it in the SUV, then take a short drive over to Universal’s Endless Summer – Dockside Inn & Suites. Even though I’d checked in online, I still had to wait through a long line of guests to get the room keys. In the meantime Jill decide we’d just get dinner there at Pier 8 Market and got orders for what was essentially a cafeteria. I got the room keys and parked the SUV and we all met for dinner (mostly burgers), then got the luggage and went to the room (it was nice with 3 beds – Jill and I got the separate room).

Jill Sue Nina Kerry

Monday morning we got the benefit of staying at a Universal resort as we got into the park an hour early. Most of the girls got food and drinks from the Starbucks in the hotel before we got on the bus. Jill had the genius idea of doing Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts first, so we did that and then took the Hogwarts Express over to Hogsmeade in Universal’s Islands of Adventure (we had the 2 park pass), then explored Hogsmeade. Unfortunately Hogsmeade was very crowded and there wasn’t as much room to move around as Diagon Alley which was in an area by itself. We stood in line for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Nina and I got off right before the ride started. Then we all had a snack and headed down to Jurassic Park which Ava wanted to see (Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure was virtual line pass only, and I hadn’t gotten one yet). Jill was trying to fix Ava’s unlimited soda cup, so the rest of us took a picture with the raptor, then had a drink break. Nina and Ava saw prizes at the carnival games they wanted, so they played the games and won (Nina’s prize was a sloth).

Kerry Jill Nina

I finally got a pass for Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, so while Ava went to ride the Hulk rollercoaster, the rest of us waited in line for that. However, the line was very long even with a pass, plus the ride broke down for 20 minutes. By time we were close to the front, Nina needed to use the restroom (and we weren’t going to ride anyway), so we went to Honeydukes where Ava was. I hadn’t had anything to eat and was exhausted, so I decided to leave. Ava decided to join me (after we got her a Ravenclaw hoodie) and we took the bus back. At that point the exhaustion took over, so I napped while Jill and Nina rode Pteranodon Flyers and Sue rode The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, then stopped for pizza. When they got back Ava went down to Pier 8 Market for another burger and I went to Del Taco for tacos (gotta love chains that give you sodium counts) and Walgreens for a beer and wine. Jill, Nina and Sue meanwhile had found the pool.

Kerry Ava Sue Nina

Tuesday morning I checked out virtually, then we got on the road to Hollywood Studios. Jill and I had gotten up early to try and get on a boarding group on Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, but failed. We parked, then again I had to find the pdf of my tickets, then walked over to the Tower of Terror. Everyone rode but me, so I hung out with the stuff and surfed on my phone or people watched. Next we got in line for a new ride: Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Again quite a wait, but the ride was a classic, all ages ride. We had lunch at Backlot Express (burgers again, but Ava loves them and they’re usually low sodium for me) and Jill and I failed again to get a boarding group. Nina wanted to see Vacation Fun – An Original Animated Short with Mickey & Minnie so we watched that. Ava went to ride the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster while the rest of us did Toy Story Mania!, then walked through Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Knowing ahead of time getting onto the Star Wars rides would be difficult we’d already planned a 2nd day there, but I still wanted to see the layout before we left.

We still had to check into DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Orlando – Disney Springs™ Area, so we did that. Thankfully it was the first hotel we could fully check in using the app on my phone as a key at first. We got to relax for a while, then ordered takeout from Miller’s Ale House. Nina got to check out the pool with Jill before Sue and I picked up the food.

Nina

Wednesday we were off to the Magic Kingdom. The hotel we’d picked had allowed early access into the parks and transportation, but the early access was on hold and the transportation was a chartered bus that didn’t run often, so we decided to just drive and park each day. We paid for preferred parking and were pretty close to the Ticket and Transportation Center. Due to long lines, I decided to ask whether the monorail or the ferry was faster, and got directed to the buses, and 10 minutes later we were in the park. Fantasyland was our first destination, and soon we were riding The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan’s Flight. The line for it’s a small world was pretty long, but moved quickly. We shopped for ears next, then lunch for most at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe (I found that Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant carried a lobster roll).

Kerry Nina Jill Sue Ava

Next, Sue and Nina did Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid while Ava, Jill and I rode The Haunted Mansion (which broke down just like the last time we rode it). Ava, Nina and Sue took a spin on the Mad Tea Party while Jill and I waited in line for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train; when we got to the front Ava, Jill and Sue rode while Nina and I headed to the front where we had a Capture Your Moment scheduled. We took photos in front of the castle, of course.

Sue Kerry Jill Nina

Then it was off to Tomorrowland where Nina and Ava rode Tomorrowland Speedway, then Nina joined me in line for Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, then we did Prince Charming Regal Carousel. The others did Space Mountain, then we met up. I’d read this genius idea to take a boat to Fort Wilderness and eat at P & J’s Southern Takeout, so that’s what we did. It was a relaxing ride over, and we were able to mobile order ahead of time. We sat picnic tables on the patio – the ribs were ok and the chicken was delicious. I only wish I’d known about the open bar so I wouldn’t have gotten a can of beer (I made up for it with the Smoky Mountain Apple cocktail from Crockett’s Tavern, the bar in the front). We took the boat back to the Magic Kingdom and then Nina had requested to ride the monorail back to the car.

Nina Sue

Coronaversary

Today marks a year since we began quarantining to avoid COVID-19. It’s been a weird year. I started working from home immediately, while it took 6 weeks for actual distance learning to start for my daughter. My wife lost her job at an elective surgery center, but quickly got one in a hospital.

Our normal summer of camps and concerts was cancelled, replaced by virtual ones. Frustrated by the lack of live, loud music, I was inspired by the story of a socially distanced concert at a drive-in to start hosting concerts on our boat on our lake. I only did 3 shows, but I was happy that other folks around the lake hosted some as well while the weather was nice.

My daughter was ok with the virtual camps, but what saved her summer was forming a masked pod with 3 other neighbor girls. Every day she had a Zoom camp in the morning, then we had a friend come over and babysit the girls. The relationship between the girls has thankfully continued and they play together just about every day as my daughter prepares to return to school.

One nice thing about working in my home office by myself is being able to listen to things. After spending summers as a kid mowing lawns listening to loud music, I can’t use headphones for very long, so it was nice just to use speakers. After about a month, I started listening every day to a live show I’d been to close to that date, and posted them to Facebook (and later my blog). I also started listening to all the talk shows I watch (The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Late Night with Seth Meyers, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah & Full Frontal with Samantha Bee) while I worked (later after school hours when I found out we didn’t have enough bandwidth to do that while my daughter was on Google Meet).

With no talk shows to watch in the evenings, I started catching up on TV I’d been meaning to get to (loved Watchmen, The Boys, The Mandalorian & Barry), then went wayback, watching all of Star Wars: The Clone Wars (some crucial backstory for The Mandalorian) and am now finishing off the Stargate franchise (I’d started before Nina was born, have finished Stargate SG-1 and now on Season 2 of Stargate Atlantis).

Not only TV shows, as I’d only seen 4 of the Marvel movies, and started watching them from the beginning. Time well spent, and nice to see how they all connect (favorite: Captain America: Civil War – better Avengers movie then Avengers: Age of Ultron). I moved on to the X-Men series next (almost done, Future Past is my favorite so far, followed closely by Deadpool), and then plan on working my way through the DC films.

As I mentioned in this post, I’ve been working my way through my unconverted miniDV tapes of concerts I recorded between 2000 to 2009. I’m now up to the summer of 2005, and you can see my progress at YouTube and the Live Music Archive.

My family loves to eat out, and we’ve only managed to eat out a handful of times. But we’ve been supporting restaurants by getting takeout every Friday (we rotate choices). We’ve also recently started having a family night on Saturday – the last 3 choices were jigsaw puzzle (wife), 2 episodes of Legend of Korra (daughter) and Pixar’s Soul (me). We had some vacations planned and those were cancelled; instead, we spent almost a week in Bethany Beach in August when the numbers were good, and spent 2 weeks at Christmas at home.

I love to cook, so not too much changed there, other than I took advantage of the sourdough boom to start making white bread for myself (being on a low sodium diet wasn’t giving me lots of options). My wife asked for an air fryer for her birthday, and for fans of fried food like us, that’s been a godsend.

My wife has been vaccinated, hopefully I will be soon, and as soon as one is available for my daughter, she will be too. We’re looking forward to normalcy as 2021 continues.

February concert flashbacks

February

Tuesday the 2nd I laughed at The Harry Potter Spinoff You Didn’t Know You Needed parody. Friday because of Wayne’s World being in the news because of their Super Bowl commercial we’d shown Nina the Queen scene from the movie, and it was fun watching her teaching all her friends to headbang. We had takeout from Santini’s for dinner. Saturday Nina started her new remote drama class: Ace Diamond: Fairy Tale Detective. Sunday Jill had ordered Pączki for Fat Thursday and we had a taste test of the flavors for breakfast. The Super Bowl was that evening and I made blue cheese dressing and wings in the air fryer. The game was a bit one sided, but the halftime show with The Weeknd was entertaining (and as usual marked Nina’s bedtime).

Nina Jill

Monday the 8th I got to take Nina to her pulmonologist before school, then Tuesday had the water in our fridge fixed. Friday we got takeout from Dolce Vita (lamb chops were excellent). Saturday Jill and I had planned to go out to dinner to celebrate Valentine’s Day early (we often try to skip the craziness of the day), but an ice storm had other ideas, so we pushed it to March. We noticed Nina’s hair was getting long.

Nina

Sunday the 14th we went to see Crystalline at the Artechouse in DC. We were supposed to go 2 weeks prior, but there was a big snowstorm then, so we moved it. It was fun (Nina really enjoyed it), then we got an accidental Valentine’s Day. Artechouse was near The Wharf, which neither Nina nor Jill had been to. I’d found a couple places that had warm outdoor seating, but the 1st place didn’t have their heaters on and the 2nd place was full. Jill had seen a near empty Italian place, but when we got back it was filling up, and we tried it anyway and were seated next to another party who had no food or drink but already had masks off, so we left. As we walked, the next restaurant was Del Mar, which the Post had rated top at The Wharf. They had outside seating, so we figured we’d ask. Those were full, but they had space inside (good to eat lunch at 3PM), and definitely were adhering to safety standards, so we went in and had a great meal. Nina enjoyed a mocktail, pasta, and trying all our food (Jill and I shared the seafood paella) and desserts (churros, apple cider ice cream and cheesecake chocolate cake).

Jill Kerry Nina

I had wondered if they would ever cancel schools again, since a couple times it seemed likely they just switched to virtual learning. But on Thursday the 18th everything closed. Nina had so much schoolwork left, she didn’t finish until almost 6 and barely saw her friends. Friday we got Flippin’ Pizza for takeout, and on Saturday saw her friends plenty as they turned our backyard into an ice skating rink. Also Nina’s Wednesday night voice teacher brought her entire box of wigs to play with.

Nina

Monday Nina returned to Tae Kwon Do. We took her out of the in person classes in January when the numbers were bad, and she had been having trouble doing the classes virtually, so she had just taken a break, but was happy to get back. Wednesday Nina was happy I let her have pizza for breakfast. We also had a plumber from Wacker over to fix a leaky toilet and replace two faucets. Friday we got takeout from Kabobi By The Helmand (the lamb shank meal was delicious).

Lake Thoreau