Friday the 2nd Nina had decided that instead of more archery lessons, we’d just join the Northern Virginia Archers at Fountainhead Park. I ordered some Genesis bows via the manufacturer (you get to pick the colors), but the closest places to buy arrows was Double X Archery in Leesburg or Cabelas in Manassas. Happily, I called Double X Archery and since the store wasn’t open yet, went over to one of the owner’s in Herndon and he made us arrows in his basement. So the next morning we went to the orientation (all 3 hours), then Nina’s flute lesson. Reston Pride was that afternoon at Lake Anne, so we all went. I was delighted to meet up with my friends Jenny and Vicky, and spent most of the time talking to them.
Sunday Jill and Nina were enjoying a lovely Drag Story Hour inside their church. Unfortunately 3 asshats with a megaphone showed up to protest. They faced a speaker loaded with Disney soundtracks, but I tried to make their lives a little more miserable by finding their social media accounts to block and report their hateful speech. That afternoon we hosted the end of year Girl Scouts family potluck, including a boat ride that turned into a dance party.
Tuesday the 6th I worked a half day, then drove down to Richmond. I parked on the street near the James and walked to Wong Gonzalez and had an excellent Asian/Mexican banh mi (and could not pass up a cocktail called a “Pale Fire Red Molly”. Next up (after a very long entrance line) was a fantastic show featuring two classic albums. The show was at Brown’s Island, and first up was Remain in Light: Jerry Harrison & Adrian Belew with Turkuaz. Jerry Harrison was the guitarist for Talking Heads, and Adrian Belew is the legendary guitarist from King Crimson who also is known for touring with David Bowie and Frank Zappa. Belew also recorded and toured with Talking Heads for the Remain in Light album, and that was most of the songs in the show. Turkuaz was their band for the evening, and boasted three talented vocalists in their own right, as well as a horn player, 2 saxes and 2 percussionists. I felt it was similar to David Byrne’s American Utopia tour, where all the musicians really brought out the essence of the songs. In addition to the Talking Heads songs, Jerry Harrison did his “Rev It Up” and Adrian Belew did his King Crimson song “Thela Hun Ginjeet”, grinning all the while. I got into guitarist Steve Vai early on, and when I worked my back to his work in Frank Zappa, he was listed as “stunt guitar”, and I felt that was also an excellent description for Adrian Belew’s work during the show.
Next up was Les Claypool’s Fearless Flying Frog Brigade, who had been opening their shows with “Thela Hun Ginjeet” – they opted not to that night (Les referred to Adrian Belew as “one of the greatest guitarists in the history of guitar”). After opening with some solo and Frog Brigade songs (and a train going by during “Up On The Roof”), they featured Sean Lennon (yes, son of John, who’s been working with Les as the The Claypool Lennon Delirium) singing “Cricket And The Genie”. And then they got into the fun stuff. Frog Brigade was formed in 2002 when Primus was on hiatus and Les had been in Oysterhead with Trey Anastasio and Stewart Copeland and wanted to keep on in the jam band scene. He wanted to not do Primus songs, so instead added a second set where they covered Pink Floyd’s Animals. And he decided to resurrect that for this summer’s tour.
The audience was in the mood, and it was a fantastic version of it (I always felt it was Pink Floyd’s must unappreciated album). And I should mention that on keys was Harry Waters (yes, Roger’s son and the one who says “Look, mummy, there’s an aeroplane up in the sky” in The Wall). The band was wearing some kind of jungle inspired uniforms (with most wearing pith helmets), but for the later “Precipitation“, Les donned a disco ball helmet as he played a one string bass. The rest of the show was basically a 3rd set, and as the cool breezes rushed in and the light show amped up, it was truly a wonderful way to spend an evening (minus the 2 hour drive home). Can’t wait for the next time – yes, thanks to fate, this is only the first time this summer I will see a jam band cover Animals (next is Gov’t Mule at Wolf Trap in August).
Friday the 9th I wondered what you call a butt dial when the phone is in your front pocket? Because apparently I had just called 911. Saturday Nina had a dentist appointment, then wanted to leave right away so we could get in some archery practice before her flute lesson. We had tickets to see Lucy Kaplansky do an early show at Jammin’ Java, and Nina got an invitation to hang out with a friend. After the show and talking to Lucy, we ate dinner at Sweet Ginger. I got a duck roll in addition to my usual sushi order.
Sunday we pushed our luck and held yet another get together. Nina wanted to have a party for two of the sixth graders that were moving away, so we had 15 of them over. After a potluck meal, I made the mistake of offering to drive all of them over to the pool on the boat. At full throttle, the boat barely moved and once too many kids went to the front and water started sloshing in. But we made it, then they walked back afterwards.
The next week was insanely busy as a request to alter Nina’s 504 had turned into a request for an IEP, so we had 4 meetings during the day and ultimately we got the changes to the 504 we needed. I also got to visit Dr. Miller on Tuesday, the orthopedic surgeon I’d seen for my ankle in 2005. The thorn that hit my knuckle had done some damage as my knuckle was still in pain. An x-ray was inconclusive, but an ultrasound revealed part of the thorn was still in there. I was relieved as the knuckle wasn’t damaged. Also Nina had lots of school events including a sponsored sixth grade send off on Thursday and her promotion ceremony on Friday morning. It was a surprise to all of us when she was awarded a President’s Award for Educational Achievement.
Friday the 16th I got a haircut for my costume the next day as Captain Pike. That evening one of our parent friends invited us over for end of year block party, then I went to see Marc Roberge and Mikel Paris (from O.A.R.) at The Atlantis to do a set full of O.A.R. classics. They even brought up Mark Williams (from Jonasay) to play guitar. Saturday Nina and her friends dressed up as characters in Genshin Impact, and we carpooled to Awesome Con. They saw a panel on cosplay makeup while I caught the end of Christopher Eccleston’s panel, then we got a picture with him. I also got his autograph while the others were at a My Hero Academia panel. We met up at the Unconventional Diner for lunch, then one of Nina’s friends had to leave. We went back to the con for shopping, and one more picture with Mandip Gill & Jodie Whitaker. I felt the day and the first decade of Awesome Con were best encapsulated by a meme:
Sunday was Father’s Day and we drove out to North Beach to take Dad and Patricia out for brunch at Hook & Vine. It was dog friendly, but a bit hot out in the sun for Justin. Back at Dad’s house I installed the new TV he’d asked for. We stopped at Old navy in Tysons on the way back for clothes for the trip for Nina. Jill said “Happy Father’s Day to the best Dad I know and am blessed so share this life with; Love you Kerry! Enjoy your day!”
Monday I worked the first half of the day, then dropped Nina at a friend’s house and drove to Jill’s surgery center to get the thorn out. I got stitches for the first time ever. Tuesday Nina started Junior Lifeguarding Camp, happy one of her Girl Scout friends was there. Thursday I went to Jammin’ Java for Bullet the Blue Sky – An Evening Dedicated to U2. I thought it would be the usual Songwriter’s Circle format, but it was a fully rehearsed full band show, a nice surprise. Cal Everett’s tenor is a great match for Bono, and Ryan & Todd Wright were great as usual. Lots of guitar pyrotechnics from Jonathan Sloane and Sean Chyun. Friday I got my stitches out rather than have them in for 2 more weeks.
Saturday we started things as normal with a flute lesson, but Rachel took us to the airport around 4 as we had a red eye flight. Traffic around Dulles was the worst I’d ever seen, but we were quickly through security and at our gate. We bought snacks and a USB charger for Europe, and it was a pretty uneventful flight to Reykjavik (I was the only one who couldn’t sleep). We didn’t think we had much a layover, but there was a problem with the plane, so we left for Glasgow 2 hours later than planned. Customs wasn’t bad, we found our bus and were soon on our way downtown.
The only thing we had planned for the day was tea at Willow Tea Rooms, so after we checked in at the very nice DoubleTree by Hilton Glasgow Central, we took the subway over. It was raining and Nina and I hadn’t prepared, but it wasn’t bad enough for us to want to do something about it. The tea was lovely and we also did some shopping, mostly at The Vintage Scene (I kept calling Pound Land “Pound Town”). That evening we decided to get Chinese from a place near us, or so I thought. When Jill was getting ready to pick it up, we discovered the place near us had closed, and I’d placed an order at Banana Leaf several miles away. I called them and they were able to change to delivery.
Monday the 26th we checked out and walked over to the Charing Cross station. We were early, but we managed to figure out it didn’t matter, we could take the train at any time, so we did. We arrived in a very busy Edinburgh and walked to our room at Cityroomz Edinburgh. We were hungry and got lunch at The Huxley nearby (the fish and chips with a Rhubarb Rickey hit the spot). I walked over to the Oxfam Music Shop while the others went vintage shopping. We walked through Princes Street Gardens before sunset, seeing some nice views of Edinburgh Castle. We’d been told by our friends Meg and Toby of St James Quarter the shopping center next to the hotel made of swirling ribbon, or “The Turd”. Nina got some bubble tea, and we did some shopping (she got a new pair of boots from Dune). We had made reservations at Duck & Waffle, and I had to try the namesake dish. We went 1 floor lower to try out Haute Dolci for dessert – it was such a hit, Nina asked we go to brunch there the next day.
I left early on Tuesday to visit Vinyl Villains before joining the others for brunch (and it was good). Then walked to and up the Royal Mile. It was raining harder that day, so when Jill went into a shop later Nina and I ducked into a Boots to get umbrellas. We had a planned stop at Edinburgh Cashmere & Lambswool to pick up a cashmere sweater my mom had requested (gotta love a sign that says “since 1437”), then it was time for our scheduled visit to Edinburgh Castle. We toured the whole thing, and saw the Crown Room with the crown jewels, as well as the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum, then had a snack. Nina requested to visit Camera Obscura & World of Illusions, but the current timeslot was sold out, so we went back to shopping. One of the sweaters at Edinburgh Cashmere & Lambswool had caught Jill’s eye, and Nina and I went across the street to Thistle Do Nicely. Camera Obscura was big hit, then we walked back to the hotel. We went out again for Mexican at Miros Cantina Mexicana, then stopped at Italian for dessert.
Wednesday we took the train from Haymarket for a long trip south to London, stopping at the Marks and Spencer there for provisions. The time on the train was nice and relaxing (even online food delivery available), but a bit hectic when we got to London as we had to switch to the underground, then back to the overground. The DoubleTree by Hilton London – Chelsea was only steps from the Imperial Wharf station, so we were quickly in our room to relax some. We went north to Notting Hill, then I shopped at the Music & Video Exchange while Nina and Jill walked around Hyde Park. We had dinner at Deep Blue for some outstanding fish and chips, then dessert at Amorino Gelato. I had to share that this was much better than I thought it would be.
Thursday the 29th we slept in some, then went over to the Tesco next door to get snacks. We only had to go one stop to get to the BBC Earth Experience, an immersive set of screens that makes you feel like you’re in one of their documentaries. We explored the grounds at Kensington Palace, then we had a reservation at Dishoom Kensington, recommended by a friend (I liked the lamb chops, Jill and Nina both got butter chicken aka chicken ruby and weren’t big fans). Next we took pictures at Buckingham Palace and went to Heathers the Musical at The Other Palace. It was Nina’s pick, but she wasn’t feeling it at intermission, so we left (it is pretty dark).
We had hoped to catch The Ocean at the End of the Lane while we were in London, but it was playing in Milton Keynes and the logistics didn’t work. But we did see The Wolves in the Walls at the Little Angel Theatre Friday and it was a lot of fun – the puppets were taken directly from Dave McKean’s artwork. After that, we split up. Jill and Nina took a bus down to the Tate Modern and had dinner from Wagamama, while I took the Tube to Hyde Park, where they were holding British Summer Time Hyde Park. I saw the size of the venue when I bought tix, so I got VIP, which was wise. First up was Larkin Poe, already in progress when I arrived at 2:30. They were great, but I was hungry so I got a burger from Holy Cow and a beer. Up next were The Darkness, and they did a great job of squeezing new and old songs in a 45 minute set, plus some nice crowd work. The ticket I bought came with a private area, so I got a banh mi and water from the cold tap they had and relaxed there until the Pretenders came on. I don’t know how I’ve missed them in all these years, but Chrissie Hynde is a legend and proved it on stage. The next break was long and crowded everywhere – I got a Jack and coke and sat next to a tree until it was time for Guns N’ Roses. They didn’t go on right on time, but it wasn’t more than a minute or two and they were out. My favorite discovery about the show was that they were covering a Velvet Revolver song, my second was they actually put out new music with the current lineup. Here’s my favorite picture from the night: big Slash, l’il Axl.