August

Monday the 1st Nina was back at RCC’s Camp Goodtimes on the Road. She was happiest about the trip to the Water Mine on Friday. We all had telehealth appointments that night as we were up early the next day to start our big, twice postponed vacation: the final Eddie From Ohio cruise to Alaska. Our travel karma was very good on the way out, as while many folks had delayed or canceled flights, we got to San Francisco without any issues. We had breakfast in the airport there: a Bacon Bacon bowl for me and Proposition Chicken wings for Nina (Jill picked up some See’s Candies for later).

Nina

We got to Vancouver and quickly got through Customs. We took the SkyTrain to downtown Vancouver and walked over to our hotel. I wasn’t sure until we got there, but the Embarc resort there is actually the top 3 floors of the Sheraton, and we were soon checking out some lovely views of the city. We were off, Jill and Nina for clothes and shoes and me to Beat Street for CDs (best haul of the trip). We went out again for dinner at The Mexican for tacos and margaritas. Amazon.ca delivered the camera memory cards I’d ordered the day before (by signing up for a Prime trial).

Nina

Sunday morning we went to check out brunch at Nero Waffles, but they were full, so we got some of their mini waffles to go (very much like donuts), then went to the aptly named Brunch. I got the ribeye hash, Nina got the Eggs Benedict and a chocolate crepe, and Jill got enchiladas. Soon it was time for us to check in for our cruise, and I was glad I’d printed out our documentation, as there were several lines to go through. But we were on the Celebrity Eclipse before sailing time, and that’s what counted. Jill and Nina used the pool and hot tub while I sat on a lounge chair, then they dried off and we went to check in at the meet and great to get our shirts and badges and hear the announcements. We went to our late dinner and met the fellow Edheads at our table before heading to bed.

Eddie From Ohio Nina

Monday was all at sea as we left Canadian waters and entered USA ones. Nina tried out Camp at Sea, where it turns out she was able to check herself in and out and met new friends. In late afternoon Eddie From Ohio had their first concert with lots of classics and a couple nice covers (only my 3rd time hearing their cover of Scarlet Begonias). We got drinks from the martini bar and went to see the cruise only show Topper after that, and were pleasantly surprised it was a pop jukebox musical with Cirque like aerialists.

Kerry Nina Jill

Sitka was our first stop in Alaska on Tuesday. We took a bus to town, stopped at the coffee shop and the bookstore. We had decided not to pay for the Wi-Fi service on ship and only had cell service in port, which meant no YouTube for Nina. As a consolation, I offered to buy her a book, and she chose the first two books in Chris Colfer’s “A Tale of Magic…” series. We picked up some kettle corn on the way back to the bus, then waited at the pier for our excursion. The Sea Otter and Wildlife Quest was exactly as described (asides from the irony of spending the first 10 minutes looking for a bald eagle when we saw one in a tree when we docked). We got fairly close to a raft of sea otters, then saw three different humpback whales and three Steller sea lions snoozing on a marker buoy. I picked up some hot sauce made with kelp from the gift shop, and that was useful for the rest of the trip. That night we paid extra to eat at Le Petite Chef, which had animation on the table for each course – it was very cute and delicious too. After dinner we watched the Production Cast cover British songs in the Sky lounge.

Kerry Jill

Wednesday was another day at sea, but this time we were going by something special: the Hubbard Glacier. After a very slow approach, Captain Leo got us within half a mile of it, then slowly turned the ship so we could get a good view (after we got soaked on deck, I preferred that). As we pulled away, we paid extra to eat at the Sushi on Five restaurant, where we had some nice views of waterfalls. The second Eddie From Ohio concert was that afternoon. Jill and Nina decided to skip in favor of swimming at the indoor pool during family hours, which worked in their favor as they both felt a little seasick in the ocean and felt fine once they got in the pool (which created natural waves). The concert was another bunch of their classic tunes with no repeats from the first one. And since I was videoing in the back row, no one recorded me when I danced like a maniac during “Eddie’s Concubine”. Later the Production Cast did a selection of Broadway songs called the Broadway Cabaret, and everyone enjoyed that (I think Nina knew half the songs).

glacier

Thursday the 11th we docked in Juneau. We left the ship and walked over to Alaskan Crepe Escape where Nina and I had crepes. It was like a parked food truck park. Jill got coffee and I also got drinks (including a draft beer) from the Beer Truck. After that we split up and they went to the Changing Tides yarn shop while I went to Downtown Disc (hard to find, but worth it). We’d planned on meeting up at Heritage Coffee Roasting Co. but they had no outside seating, so we went to the nearby Sacred Grounds (run by and for native Alaskans) and sat outside so we all could use their Wi-Fi (including Nina). Jill went shopping and came back with grilled chicken from Bernadette’s BBQ tent near the ship (she said all the people who work on the ship were waiting in line there, which was a good sign). Nina liked it so much I came back with more.

Nina

They kept shopping after that, and I went back to the ship as I’d neglected to charge my camera battery. So I read in our room, then walked over to Tracy’s Crab Shack 2. The Edhead cruise portion had an optional excursion that day: a jumbo crab leg and a concert from Eddie From Ohio as they’d rented out the whole place. We got a decent seat and some good crab (Jill had picked up some unsalted butter for me) and beers. The concert was again filled with classics, with only one repeat: “Rocky Mountain High/Old Dominion” (there were several Alaskan fans there as well). After the show Nina played in the pool with some other Edhead kids while I and other parents watched, and by the time our late dinnertime rolled around we were all hungry for which turned out to be our last dinner, too bad as our waiter was entertaining Nina (and everyone else) with his magic tricks.

Eddie From Ohio

The next morning I went to the band question and answer session, then watched the ship dock in Ketchikan while Nina and Jill went to breakfast. Nina had been stuffy the night before, and after breakfast announced she was going back to sleep, which is extremely unusual for her. Jill had planned to check out a yarn shop, so left the ship and had started walking when Nina woke up and was burning hot. I called Jill and had her pick up Tylenol, a thermometer, and a Covid test. Sure enough, after managing to avoid it for 2 ½ years, she finally caught it, even though we’d been masking everywhere inside the ship except in the restaurants. We called the ship and they had us come down to the medical area, where they tested her again with the same result. They escorted us back to our room and told us to isolate there. They gave us Wi-Fi and we started looking up what to do next. Jill and I both tested negative, and they offered us the chance for one of us to move to another room and not isolate and we both declined. They started by offering us room service and no alcohol off our beverage plans, and we got that changed to the regular menu. I was very glad we had a balcony and spent almost all my time for the remaining two days there.

Jill Nina

Saturday we were at sea all day and in our room. Jill and I both tested negative again. The Wi-Fi worked well enough for Nina to watch YouTube, but was more intermittent for Jill and I. I mostly read digital comics outside on the balcony, plus Bob and Susan brought us drinks. The food was good – weird to eat lobster in your room, though. It was interesting to be forced to just look at the scenery, as we’d passed into Canada and I hadn’t seen it on the way out. We missed the last concert of course, but so did singer Robbie.

Canada

Sunday it was time to disembark. We had a choice of staying on the ship until quarantine was over (5 days) or getting off in Canada and quarantining (10 days, but the Celebrity cruise line would cover $350USD/day). After 2 days, we already knew we could not continue on the ship (although Robbie did and got off in Juneau and flew home from there). We asked them to book us a room at the Century Plaza hotel. We left our room and went up to the Sky lounge to join the other outcasts (including 2 other Edhead families) and wait for them to take us to a bus. We did a lot of waiting (close to 2 hours), but finally we got on a bus and they dropped us at the Century Plaza hotel. That’s when we found out we didn’t have a reservation. After being on hold with Celebrity for over an hour, apparently when we had no cell service we were supposed to book a room and they just wanted to know the address to drop us off. Happily the Century Plaza hotel offered us a suite even though they didn’t have any online. It had an actual kitchen where the other hotel we looked at didn’t, and some serious space – we agreed as soon as the manager showed it to us. Once we were in the room and everyone had Wi-Fi, I placed another Amazon.ca order – most important was another Fire stick. That night I had to get some takeout. Nina wanted Chipotle, but Jill and I got food from The Basil Box (spiciest meal in a week). We also ordered groceries from Fresh St. Market and beer and wine from Darby’s Liquor Store.

Vancouver

Monday the 15th I found getmaple.ca and got a telehealth appointment quickly and was able to get refills on my blood pressure medicine (because I was the only one who’d only packed a week’s medication). I went to Pharmasave and picked it up, then Jill went to IGA for more groceries. I made the ribs we’d bought for dinner (“Maui”, half the size of the box they came in). Jill and I felt we both had Covid, but due to Canada’s strict laws, didn’t test (it also required us to essentially isolate with Nina, which we did except for picking up stuff, and we were always masked). That Fire stick arrived, so that night I stayed up late and started watching the final season of The Expanse (since I had Prime again).

Vancouver

Tuesday I’d also ordered some graphic novels for Nina from Amazon.ca with the hope she wouldn’t use her devices as much. She did like them, and tore through them in 2 hours, then it was back to devices. I picked up Jollibee and Pacific Pizzeria & Ristorante for dinner (the spicy chicken from Jollibee is very good). Wednesday I went to IGA for more groceries and Freshii to pick up salads. I got some drinks at the bar at the steak restaurant in the hotel because I wanted a break from beer. I had run out of digital comics, so I pulled down the ComiXology app (Amazon has ruined the web version, but the app still works ok) to pull down a bunch of the comics I’ve bought or gotten for free, including most of Marvel’s Black Panther runs.

Vancouver

Thursday Nina’s isolation was over, and we were all feeling better. We walked over to Fresh St. Market, then Jill took the groceries back and Nina and I went over to Emery Barnes Park. We noticed that although the symptoms were gone, no one was 100%, so we didn’t push it. Jill was feeling good enough to stay up late, so we started watching The Sandman. Friday we went to Good Co. Granville in the afternoon and played pinball and Mario Kart, then went to The Templeton and got takeout – burgers, fish & chips, and shakes.

Nina

Saturday we wandered down to Granville to check out the Promenade but didn’t stay long as the sun was hot. Jill and Nina liked the look of Babylon Café and picked some lunch up there. I went the to the Spirit of Howe liquor store and got more beer, plus I verified I couldn’t pick up the official Rush beer (they don’t sell beer across provinces). Sunday Jill went to IGA for groceries.

Vancouver

Monday the 22nd Jill and I were feeling good enough to travel. She took a bus to Baaad Anna’s Yarn Store, then we all went together to Golden Age Collectables where Nina got a book, then I took the SkyTrain and a good walk to get to Red Cat Records (got a couple CDs). Meanwhile Jill and Nina went to the Indigo bookstore. We had a very early morning on Tuesday (I got 3 hours of sleep) as we got a Lyft to the airport. We went straight to security, then we discovered we were going through customs there (we must have done it in when we went to Montreal) and made it to our gate only minutes before they started boarding. That flight was fine, and we had a little time in San Francisco to get food. We got back at sundown and had a whirlwind of getting ready for the next day.

Vancouver

Wednesday the 24th was a very busy day. It was Nina’s first day of school, as well as the first day of work in a while for Jill and I. I was supposed to do a VIP visit with the The Decemberists (soundcheck + q & a) at Wolf Trap, but I barely made it to the merch booth before they packed up to get my stuff and see the show (and it was a great show – I even stayed through the encore). Saturday some folks on the lake host a cover band on their floating docks. We didn’t get too close, but we did tie up some of our boats so the kids could swim (and the adults could talk).

Nina

Sunday I’d seen that The John Popper Project was playing at The Bullpen after an afternoon Nationals game. I drove in around the time they were estimated to go on (it was a 4 band show), only to find the 3rd band still hadn’t gone one. So I headed down to the nearby Atlas Brewing and had a beer, a salad, and a couple slices of pizza. I still saw most of The Last Real Circus, but not many people were left by 8:45 when The John Popper Project, but the people there got something special. They put an album in 2006, and I didn’t know they toured. After some research, I found they performed songs from the album, some covers, and occasionally a Blues Traveler song. This show happened to be the 21nd birthday of John’s second cousin, so in addition to their songs, threw in her requests of Blues Traveler classics. Listen here: https://archive.org/details/jpdt2022-08-28

Kerry Jill

Wednesday the 31st Sue and Dave came to visit. I’ve long been an admirer of José Andrés’ restaurants, and we’ve been to several, from Jaleo to barmini. But minibar was always a goal of mine, and when we were talking about long term planning, I decided I wanted to go to minibar for my 50th birthday. Which was in 2020. So after they finally reopened in fall 2021, I put it back on my bucket list. After Jill said her mom was coming to visit for a week around Nina’s birthday starting on the 31st, when reservations for minibar on the 31st were available at the beginning of July, I snapped them up. Jill’s mom and Dave got down in plenty of time, and Jill and I arrived right on time. We were soon seated at the chef’s table for 12, and had to wait as the last couple was nearly 30 minutes late. They had some concern that they wouldn’t able to give me a low sodium meal, until the maître’d compared their seasoning to Jaleo, where we’d just eaten. Jill choose two of the additions to the menu, truffles added to three dishes and the non-alcoholic drink pairing, which was extremely inventive. The fancy cocktail I got was the bespoke coctail D.O.C., with pear vodka, truffle honey and Dom Perignon. Minibar is essentially a very long tasting menu, with very small bites for each course. My favorite was “Toad in the Hole”, where a tofu patty stood in for egg white. The frozen salad was very cool, and reminded me of the frozen Cheetos in Montreal – when I mentioned that, one of the chefs mentioned that they did that first. A couple of dishes were too salty for me to eat, but I just abstained from them. To recognize my birthday, as well as our anniversary, they brought us some special cocktails to wrap things up.

Jill Kerry

June

Wednesday the 1st Nina had two concerts at school: chorus and band. Strings were first, so while they performed in the gym, we got seats in the lunch room to watch the chorus. Once they were done, we moved to the gym to watch Nina on the bass drum with the band. Sue and Bets left to go home that night.

Nina

Saturday Nina and I got our boosters at the CVS in Fair Lakes and did some shopping, then Nina and Jill went to the Reston Pride festival while I did yard work (and had the easiest time with any of the vaccine shots, probably because I used my arms so much). Nina was busy with Girl Scouts on Sunday, making cookies with a friend, then celebrating the end of the year with a potluck pool party.

Nina

Friday the 10th was Nina’s last day of school. She was released early and as a reward for a good year got a pizza party and sleepover with the neighborhood friends. I wasn’t too helpful, as I went to see The Doobie Brothers at the Lube (twice postponed from 2020). Jill and I were out the next night in Maryland. Having guessed The Food Market would be popular, I had made reservations, so we didn’t have to wait for an hour. The drinks and dinner delicious, and we only had to walk about 2 blocks to get into Merriweather Post Pavilion where guitarist JD McPherson was pulling double duty as the opening act. We didn’t have to long to wait until Robert Plant & Alison Krauss took the stage, to add an unlikely reunion to their unlikely pairing.

Jill Nina

Sunday we had an early Father’s Day since we’d be gone the next week. We stopped at the Lego Brick Fest on the way (or what I thought was the way – slight detour required). Nina enjoyed everything about it except not spending more than an hour there, and both she and Jill left with sets. We got to Dad’s in the midafternoon, and went over to Plaza & Mexico in North Beach where they’d added outdoor seating, and everyone but Dad had fajitas. I told Dad about my pinball machine, and he casually dropped the fact that he had one he’d never used (this comes up later in the month).

Kerry Nina

Monday the 13th Nina started her camps with skateboarding camp. Tuesday we gathered in the early evening as Nina and a number of fellow Girl Scouts had earned a Bronze Award making birthday boxes for the South Lakes Food Pantry. Nina had even made a video on Saturday with one.

Nina

Wednesday we had an appointment, than we got takeout from Big Buns. I took mine with me to Wolf Trap to see the odd bill of Japanese Breakfast and Belle & Sebastian. A friend on Facebook had tagged to help sell the ticket, but it was 3rd row, so I said I’d take out. Japanese Breakfast was a burst of energy, and I’d caught up on Belle & Sebastian, and they were a lot of fun as well (don’t recall ever seeing a band with so many musicians changing places.

Japanese Breakfast

The next night I whipped leftovers together quickly, and was over at Wolf Trap again, this time for Waxahatchee, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit & Sheryl Crow. Not such an odd pairing, since Sheryl’s fantastic last album had a duet with Jason, and I’ve been getting into him. The highlight of the night was Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit’s cover of Drivin’ N’ Cryin’s “Honeysuckle Blue”.

Nina

Saturday the 18th we packed up and headed to Rehoboth Beach. For the first time ever driving to the Eastern Shore, the Bay Bridge was so backed up it was quicker driving up past Baltimore, then down through Delaware. Still, we arrived first, and the Cannons arrived soon after and explored the very nice house. Jess got some essentials at Walmart, while Chris and I took orders and got the takeout from Iron Hill Brewing (mostly pizzas).

Penny Nina

Sunday most people got bikes, and when I dropped off the non-walkers, I went to Safeway and Atlantic Liquors. After I got back, I relaxed and read in the backyard, then I made fajitas for dinner – Chris’s mom had showed up as well. Monday most folks went to the beach while I was in the backyard again, then we had an early dinner at the Cultured Pearl. Jill and I walked while Chris drove the kids, but he was almost 20 minutes late because he went down too far and got caught in the rush hour traffic. Jess had a work call and came barely 5 minutes after him. We ordered several rounds of dumplings, and the kids fed the koi, then we had some fabulous sushi.

Penny Nina Jess

The beach was a bit much, so on Tuesday a group rode bikes over to Cape Henlopen State Park while Chris drove their stuff over. Meanwhile I slept in just every other day, then I was in the backyard again. I grilled burgers and Jill cooked corn for dinner. Wednesday it was cool and rainy early, then we gathered for a late lunch at Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, where the traditional beer on a stick was consumed. Thursday Chris and I took Nina, Penny & Cam to Funland. Cam was determined to win the ring on a bottle game and get a giant stuffed animal, and darn if he’d only sunk about $20 in and got it. He left and I took Nina & Penny around to play games and redeem tickets. Then the rides opened at 1 and I bought them both unlimited ride wristbands. They liked bumper cars and teapots, but their favorite was Gravitron. Later, Chris, Jess and I went to the Dogfish Head Brewery where I had Worldwide Stout aged in Utopia barrel on draft, then we did some shopping. That night we had leftovers.

Nina Penny Cam

We left Friday morning and drove home over the Bay Bridge without much of a delay. We could have stayed until Saturday, but then Nina and Jill would have missed the Girl Scouts Service Unit Encampment over Friday and Saturday nights. After I dropped them off at the scout leader’s house at 5, I made my way to CD Cellar and Victory Comics, then got lamb skewers and salad for takeout at Shinwari before heading to Mason District Park to see the Seán Heely Celtic Band (with Beth Patterson & Colin McGlynn). Once I was ready to see Beth as not lead, I enjoyed them more.

Nina

Saturday I had the whole day to myself, so of course I was at my dad’s house at 10 to meet Tony who’d rented an SUV. It didn’t take us too long to load the pinball in, and after Tony got a tour of the house, we drove back to my house. Then we loaded the glass we’d been keeping for him in the SUV, which took a while. Finally we were ready to play some Rush pinball, and after he got high score (on Nina’s account), he installed the Cliffy’s protectors that had literally just arrived in the mail. Then we played a bunch more games, and he didn’t leave until 6. At which point I scrambled to put yet another meal together to eat at Wolf Trap, this time for Steely Dan. Originally it had been a double bill with Steve Winwood, but the show was postponed due to the pandemic, and initially Aimee Mann had been added (which I was excited about). But they added a nobody, and I just wasn’t that into it, so I sat far away on the lawn.

Bryce Tony

Jill and Nina got back Sunday and were exhausted from lack of sleep. Later that day I managed to find the pinballs that Tony had stored in my desktop fan case for safekeeping and then couldn’t find them again (to the point we used another set he had packed). Nina started her summer camps on Monday the 27th with Mason Community Arts Acting Camp: Hollywood Week. Getting her to Fairfax and back every day was a chore, but she really liked the camp.

Nina

I hadn’t posted to Facebook in a while – the world is on fire and I’d been avoiding a lot of social media.
But sometimes the world stops you literally in your tracks.
I’ve been walking the same route on the path outside our door since we moved in twelve years ago, but the number of fireflies I saw on Wednesday the 29th just made me stop in awe.
It’s probably hard to see with this video, but it gave me some hope.

May

My friend Tony is a pinball fanatic – bought a brand new Iron Maiden game and is currently restoring an older one. Late in 2021, he let me know that the next big game Stern was making would be a Rush one. I preordered the premium version (middle option of the 3 offered) because it had my favorite art, and waited. And waited, as many were out there, but I wanted to wait for mine before playing. Then on Thursday the 5th the delivery truck came. I got it on my dolley and the driver and I wrestled all 350 pounds to the backyard (my arms hurt and I got a gigantic bruise on my triceps where it dug in on the hill).

pinball

I was working that day, but rain was possible, so I’d come out between cloud deployments to do the basic assembly. 4 chairs and my 2 ton jack lift later, I got the legs on. When Jill got home, we could barely lift one end. When the dads were out around dinnertime while the kids were playing, I was able to grab 3 of them to get it inside. I didn’t finish it until the next day, but I had a lot of fun with it (Nina and Jill enjoyed it as well). Besides the awesome music, they got Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson from the band to record voices for the game.

Nina

Friday I was outraged about the latest Covid numbers, because “outbreaks in schools, primarily the elementary grades, have increased rapidly. Last week, there were 74 classrooms that reported outbreaks of COVID-19 cases and this week there were 139.” So I ranted that we got rid of the governor who was a doctor and instead got a partisan hedge fund manager who promised his base he’d get rid of masks in the name of parents’ rights. Where’s my right not to have my kid get sick? We got takeout that night from Panda House and Nina decided she couldn’t go to Tae Kwon Do that night because she was “having a mid-life crisis”.

Nina

Saturday Nina went to a birthday party while I went to Merriweather Post Pavilion for the annual M3 Rock Festival. It was the smallest crowd I’d ever seen there thanks to rainy, cool weather, just a sprinkling of die hards on the lawn. Thanks to Covid Extreme pulled out the day before, but as I said at the time “It may be 45 degrees out and I’m wearing my winter jacket at a concert, plus the band I bought the tix for canceled (Extreme), but damn if Blue Öyster Cult isn’t bringing the rock hard here at. And the band just turned 50!” The earlier performance of Stephen Pearcy from Ratt wasn’t bad, but I left after Blue Öyster Cult as I was starving (the protein bar I’d packed was moldy) and I’d seen the new The Food Market on the way in and wanted to eat before they closed (and the lamb was delicious too).

Nina

Sunday the 8th was Mother’s Day and we had the day planned. In midafternoon we drove to Old Town Alexandria and Jill got a surprise shopping spree at her favorite yarn store while Nina and I went down the block to Fleurir Chocolates. Jill had asked for Mexican food, and the fancy places in Old Town were booked, so we ended up at Dos Amigos, which was perfectly fine (felt like Don Pablos). We went over to National Harbor and Nina had some Thai ice cream at Panda Tea House (she was bummed the place at Hunter Woods had closed) and Jill and I found goodies at Savannah’s Candy Kitchen (a gopher and a caramel apple). Then we parked at MGM National Harbor and walked to the theater. Companion was a good opening act (reminded us of First Aid Kit), then Tori Amos came out (with a band!). Great show, but still a school night so we left halfway through.

Kerry Jill Nina

Monday Nina started having an asthma attack as the tree pollen peaked, needing her nebulizer for the first time in months. We had to keep her home for a couple days before Jill was able to get her to the allergist and increase her medication. Friday the 13th I saw this and said goodbye to Landmark Mall. I didn’t shop there much, even when I lived nearby, but I definitely bought some concert tickets at the Tower Records there. We had takeout from Mehak, but Nina didn’t like their butter chicken (her usual).

Nina Kerry

Saturday the 21st we went over to our next door neighbor’s for a surprise birthday party, and ended up staying until it was dark as his oldest granddaughter (who is Nina’s age) was there to play and Jill and I drank brandy and chatted with neighbors.

Nina

Wednesday the FedEx freight hauler was very happy, as all he had to do with Nina’s new bed was take it off the truck and drop the pallet in my parking space (rain was expected). After dinner I went to the Kennedy Center to see Love: A Joni Mitchell Songbook. I figured it was just a selection of her hits with an orchestra, but it turned out to a more meticulously planned than that. Conductor and arranger of the evening Vince Mendoza was also the conductor and arranger of Joni’s albums Both Sides Now (classic covers) and Travelogue (her hits) and the evening consisted of songs from those two albums. I had bought the tix just for Aoife O’Donovan alone, but we also got Jimmie Herrod, Lalah Hathaway, Renée Fleming & Raul Midón as vocalists. A really nice show.

Nina

Thursday the 26th Jill’s mom Sue and her cousin Bets were coming to visit, and Jill was off, so in the afternoon we brought in the bed pieces from the parking lot. After dinner we got the basic bed assembled and Nina was able to sleep on it. Friday it was Sue’s choice for takeout, and after consultation with Nina, settled on Big Buns. Later I said I was always glad when people keep their word.

Nina Jill

For Memorial Day weekend, I grilled and took our guests out on the boat every day. Saturday Sue and Bets took Nina back to the Van Gogh exhibit. Sunday I slept in while everyone else went to Great Falls, then Jill took Nina and friends to the pool. Monday we had the traditional dogs & burgers, plus Sue made her delicious potato salad. Tuesday I took my Civic to Tysons Corner to get it inspected and have maintenance done, dropping Sue and Bets at the Metro there and driving Sue’s car back home. My car wasn’t ready until late and Sue and Bets headed to Maryland to see friends for dinner, so I had to walk to get Nina, and our first CSA produce pickup wilted some in the heat before Jill picked it up around 8.

Bets Sue Nina Jill

April

Friday the 1st was April Fools Day, but although it seemed like a prank, we left in the afternoon for spring break in Spain. We did have to get a Covid test, which turned out to be at a drive through shipping container at a strip mall in Sterling. After a quick Lyft to Dulles, we had a late departure on KLM. I’d asked for the low sodium meal and had a spinach saag that was the best airplane meal of my life. Unfortunately it was a red-eye and all of us had little sleep by the time we arrived in Amsterdam. We discovered that Nina had left behind the Timekettle earbuds I’d just given her, and found a lost and found next to the baggage storage we left our carryons at, but they hadn’t gotten any.

Nina

We waited outside Schiphol airport for bus 397 that dropped us right outside our first destination, the Van Gogh Museum. We were a little late for our timed ticket, but the lady let us in. We rented audio devices and chose the highlights tour. When Nina and Jill went to the Van Gogh in DC, Nina had really liked Van Gogh’s “Sunflower” painting, and she enjoyed seeing the real thing (and the gift shop of course). After we were done, Nina and Jill took a tram one way and I took one another to go shopping. I went to Velvet Music where they had a great bargain bin while they went to Stephen & Penelope. We both saw the canals as we walked, then met up at the Amsterdam Centraal train station to take a train back to the airport.

Nina

We got to the airport with 2 hours before our flight, but waited in the longest security line of our trip to get back in for nearly an hour. We made it to our gate at end of C gates where there was Cafe Communal, a small restaurant with mostly premade food. There wasn’t much I could eat, so I had Pringles, a banana and beer while Nina had pizza. I went back as they had a small bar and asked for a Jameson’s on the rocks. The bartender asked if I wanted a double and I wisely said yes. Nina and I fell asleep before takeoff and slept the whole flight (Jill slept some) and we were somewhat refreshed when we arrived in Málaga.

Nina

We didn’t have a gate, so the airplane parked in the middle and they sent buses. Nina and Jill just got on the first one, then I got on the next one and we went through health screening/customs. We were waiting for our luggage a while, when we noticed everyone who was waiting was leaving. We followed them to find our luggage was already off the carousel. We went downstairs to the car rental and waited a long time to get our car, but finally got our Volkswagen Golf Life and got on the highway.

Nina

The reason for the almost impromptu trip was that our neighbors here, Ursula and Kevin, had decided when Fairfax Country schools were going all virtual in the fall of 2020 to move the whole family to Spain temporarily so their kids could go to school there (their oldest is in fifth grade like Nina). It was already dark when we got to the house they’d rented in Torre de Benagalbón. The kids played Mario Kart and we shared pizza.

Nina Jill

Nina had a bit of a cold Thursday night before we left, and by Saturday night she was coughing enough that Jill thought she needed her nebulizer. I’d planned to bring an adapter for our plugs, but had completely forgotten about the voltage conversion. That meant her nebulizer ran for about 30 seconds before acrid smoke came pouring out of it. She was banned into our room while I tried to get the smell out of ours. We managed to get her to sleep with just her inhaler.

Nina

After both Nina and I slept for 12 hours, Sunday looked up. Kevin made me eggs and toast, and I had a shower. In the afternoon, we piled into their minivan and drove to Nerja. We visited the Balcony of Europe, but it was very windy and couldn’t see too far across the Mediterranean Sea. We retreated and had an early dinner on the patio of Mediterraneo. I had lamb and beer. On the way back Ursula had helped Jill find a drugstore with a nebulizer, and they picked it up.

Jill Kerry Nina

That night Ursula and their daughter took us to Málaga to see flamenco. We were late as the police had set up roadblocks to the old city. We didn’t know why until we’d parked and walked in, and saw there was a parade for La Semana Santa. We finally made it to Centro de Arte Flamenco to see Kelipe. There was a guitarist and 3 singers – except one of the singers was also the dancer, which was surprising. There was also a serve yourself bar – I had a beer and Nina had OJ.

Flamenco

On Monday the 4th we woke to the news that Kevin’s flight home had been cancelled and now he was leaving Wednesday (he split work remote vs. US). We had stayed up late enough the night before that the couple terrible timed tickets available for the Alhambra palace had switched to full availability, and we left midmorning to drive there over bridges and through tunnels. I had managed to catch Nina’s cold, so I had a runny nose all day (at least it’s hard to give to people when you’re wearing a mask). The palace was very cool, but afterwards we had a snack break and decided to leave. I wanted to stop at Discos Bora-Bora, a record store nearby, so we found a garage. Jill and Nina liked the look of El Cambalache Restaurant, so we ate there, with probably the most translation trouble of our trip, but we still had a delicious meal. After we got back, the kids were out of school and Nina played with them while Jill and I shopped at Mercadona, then had a shared dinner with everyone.

Nina Jill

I was sleeping in what was supposed to be Nina’s room, but Jill thought something was triggering her asthma in there, so Nina slept with her. I woke after 11 hours of sleep on Tuesday to find it raining and damp plus now Jill had caught the cold. Ursula took Jill and me to lunch at Café Terranova where I decided to try an eggs with shrimp dish (revuelto de champiñones y langostinos), but when it came out it looked like it was sprinkled with eels. Jill gave me a look but I ate what I could. It wasn’t until we got home I felt safe looking up what it was: mushrooms (almost as bad).

Nina

In the afternoon Nina took a motorized scooter to pickup the kids at school. Meanwhile, I picked up tickets for Dead & Company since I figured out the time difference to the US. That night Ursula urged Jill and I to have a date night. First we went to Restaurante Antonio where we got a weird vibe. I had a Mediterranean lobster and Jill had some fish, then we left, only to find that they were closing early. We were still hungry, so stopped at La Calma Playa where I had a tomato burrata salad and a beef poke bowl, both delicious.

Nina

Wednesday the 6th I slept in again, and was starting to feel better. We drove into Málaga and had lunch at D’Platos where I had salad and a lamb burger while the girls had paella. Next we visited the Picasso Museum Málaga which had his works laid out chronologically so you could really get a sense of his evolution as an artist. Next to D’Platos we had seen Martonela and Nina wanted that, so we got ice cream there, then onto the Interactive Music Museum where half of it was given over to instruments everyone could play (drums were easy, but I’d never tried playing a cello before). The other museum we wanted to go to was closed that day, so we headed back where we did beach, reading & TV. We shared pizza we got from Telepizza we got delivered for dinner.

Nina

Thursday I slept in again. I made myself crepes with eggs, cheese & tomato sauce for breakfast and Nina and I went to the beach before we returned to Málaga and went to the Museum of the Imagination, where the last room is selfie heaven. We drove to the old city and parked, then enjoyed one of our favorite things from our last trip to Spain in 2006: chocolate and churros at Casa Aranda. Then we went shopping; I went to Discos Candilejas and Sleazy Records for CDs (only picked up 1 though) and Pull & Bear for a shirt and belt since they were also clothes shopping, then we met for dinner at La Barra de Zapata. Jill knew someone who had been to Málaga recently and recommended this University of Maryland alumni’s restaurant, and it was definitely our best meal in Spain. We had a variety of tapas (Nina’s favorite was momo dumplings) and Jill really enjoyed her tinto de verano. That night I was surprised as I never thought we’d hear another Pink Floyd song, but they released one in support of Ukraine.

Nina Kerry

Friday afternoon Ursula and the kids left for their spring break. We had packed, and went to the beach one more time to eat at Chiringuito Marina Playa as the breeze whipped around (the windsurfer enjoyed it). The girls had fish while I had squid, then we said goodbye to Málaga and went to the airport. We got our Covid test done, then went through security. I had a burger and the girls had pizza and pasta, then when I got a snack for the plane at the gate I noticed they were selling cans of beer so got one of those too.

Nina Kerry

We got to Amsterdam and somewhere between the plane and the exit Jill lost her phone. We tried a couple things with no luck, but it was already midnight and we were tired. The in airport hotel had been booked, but happily the Hilton was a quick walk through a building away. Saturday Jill got up early to try and find her phone without success, then joined us for a very nice breakfast buffet at the Hilton. There was a much shorter line at security this time, and we had time to have a snack at a café we’d seen before that looked like it came from Alice in Wonderland.

Nina

We found out as we tried to board we didn’t have the correct boarding passes and forms, so we had to go through all that. Luckily I had snagged the forms from the Covid test and had already downloaded the pdfs as Jill no longer had access to her Gmail without her phone (next time we’ll make sure we can sign in on each other’s phones before we leave). I’d forgotten to order ahead the low sodium meal and skipped the airplane meal (Indian again), but had packed snacks anyway. I read comics (actually finished all the digital ones I brought) while they watched movies. When we got to Dulles, there was a very long customs line, but we only spent an hour in it thanks to noticing some people were switching to a shorter line if they filled out their customs information online. We got a Lyft home, got Reston Kabob and Popeyes and that was it. The next day I posted this: Sooooo… we just got back from spring break. In Spain. We didn’t want to say anything to jinx it before we left (the Covid rules are ever changing), but it was a great time. More details to come.

Nina Jill

Monday the 11th my mom and her husband were also headed to Europe, taking a river cruise that ironically ended in Amsterdam. Unfortunately they’d taken their Covid tests too early, and I scrambled to schedule some for them in Logan, where they had a long layover and got to see my sister and her family before they flew again. Wednesday night the school had a fundraiser at Honeygrow where I got a nice salad. Thursday and Friday Nina had an elevated temperature and was coughing frequently. I took her to the doctor and kept her home both days – thankfully her teacher emailed us things she could do on her laptop. She was feeling better by Friday night and we got Flippin’ Pizza for takeout.

Nina

Saturday the 16th I found out I’d won tickets to see Suz Slezak (from David Wax Museum) with Anthony da Costa for a WNRN private concert at the brand new David Wax Museum studio barn. Jill wasn’t interested, so I made a day of it: stops for shopping at Plan 9 Music and Sidetracks Music, early dinner at Citizen Burger Bar downtown, beer run at Three Chopt, and then a fun show in a small space. If only c wasn’t so far away. To make up for my time away, I spent all day Sunday working on the yard. We’d had Miles come and remove all the weed and put in plants and mulch. I went to Reston Farm Garden Market and picked up a couple more plants as I discovered 2 of the plants they’d left were cherry trees, and I wanted to try my hand at a vegetable garden for the first time. I also mowed, trimmed, and we moved the mulch I removed to the front where there was a bare patch.

veggies

Tuesday Sue and Ava came to visit us for a couple days during Ava’s spring break. They mostly were visiting DC, but we had dinner together in the evenings (Nina convinced them to try Big Buns to much acclaim). Thursday I had to get Wacker plumbing to fix the outside faucet again, and I realized we’d gotten the wrong message last time: it’s not turning the water off inside that matters, but disconnecting the hose. Hopefully we won’t forget.

Nina

Friday the 22nd Nina had her first class field trip since 2019, this time to the Baltimore Aquarium. Jill got her from school, and then dropped her off at her Girl Scout troop leader, as they were doing a 2 night camp out at Camp May Flather. Sue and Ava left that night. Saturday Jill and I went out to pick up some pinball glass in Purcellville for Tony, and since Catoctin Creek Distilling Company was nearby, picked up a bottle there. Since we had no plans that night, I had made reservations at Roberto’s Ristorante Italiano in Vienna. In all the time I’d been going to fancy restaurants in DC, I had never made it to one of Chef Roberto Donna’s restaurants, and now he was close by. The dinner was delicious (especially the lamb and the cocktails), and next time we’ll know to ask which dish he’s preparing tableside.

Nina

Nina was back from camp the next night, but we were out as I’d snagged tickets to see Jon Stewart get the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center. First we had a delicious dinner outside at Imperfecto (since awarded a Michelin Star), then walked over to Foggy Bottom and caught the shuttle. A warm up comedian came out first, then music from musical director Gary Clark Jr. who surprised us with an unannounced guest: Bruce Springsteen, and they did a duet on The Beatles’ “Come Together”. Bruce was pretty good by himself, too. We got to see standup (mostly roasts) from Jimmy Kimmel, Pete Davidson, Olivia Munn, Steve Carell, Samantha Bee, Bassem Youssef, Ed Helms (replacing Stephen Colbert, who was out with Covid) & Dave Chappelle before Jon himself took the stage for a long set.

JON STEWART: THE MARK TWAIN PRIZE

We had also started working on Nina switching bedrooms that weekend but soon realized there was way too much work. So Jill got on TaskRabbit and on Monday and Tuesday a painter came to repaint Nina’s new room; also Tuesday we had Nina’s loft bed disassembled and the sofabed moved into the kitchen. Thursday Belfort Furniture came and delivered the new queen bed for the guest room. Thursday night I was supposed to go see Lindsey Buckingham, but he cancelled due to Covid; we also got our first goslings of the year on our lawn. Friday we got takeout from Senor Ramon.

goslings

Saturday the 30th was a very busy day. While Jill took Nina over to Jammin’ Java for rehearsals, I went to Reston Hospital to drop off expired medicine, then joined them as Nina sang with the school house band for their school open mic. Then we went over to Frying Pan Park for their Horse Expo as Nina’s interested in riding. Finally Michael Clem came over for the first Lake Thoreau Concerts of the year, and the weather really cooperated (I was unsure about an April date when he scheduled it).

February

Nina continued her rehearsals for Broadway Night, culminating in her first performance on Friday the 4th. Jill’s mom came down for the weekend, and we saw the first show (show #3) while Jill was a chaperone. For the second show Saturday afternoon I was an usher, then I brought over some Wendy’s for her lunch. We all got Big Buns for dinner, then the three of us all watched her evening show (show #4).

Nina

Sunday morning we all went over to Jammin’ Java as the performances weren’t over – she still had Open Mic for her voice classes. Rehearsing and performing on stage seemed to help any remaining stagefright (even recovered when she started late) as she sang Ava Max’s “So Am I” (and that was concert #5, with lots of nice cover choices). That night I went to see Beth Patterson at The Old Brogue for concert #6. This time she had Seán Heely performing with her for more traditional songs. I wished she’d done more of her own songs as she didn’t even get the chance to sing much. That week Nina started her Curex drops for immunotherapy to hopefully build up her tolerance for her allergies.

Beth Patterson Seán Heely

Friday the 11th I went to the Strathmore for concert #7: Bonny Light Horseman and Anaïs Mitchell. Since Anaïs Mitchell is a member of Bonny Light Horseman, it was the same musicians in different configurations for each set. I really enjoyed the harmonies of Bonny Light Horseman. Saturday Nina shopped at Safeway with several Girl Scouts to get ingredients to prepare for a badge. She also had a cookie booth outside Ledo’s.

Sue Nina Jill

Sunday marked a year since I made my low sodium red miso paste, so it was time to stop fermenting. I also made gochujang with it so now I can make a low sodium version of Bon Chon chicken. This was in addition to making Louisiana hot sauce and blue cheese dressing for wings for the Super Bowl. Valentine’s Day was Tuesday and Nina redecorated the table.

flowers

Tuesday the 15th I said “Wow” as the full Daily Show from the night before was only a conversation with India.Arie. They had interesting thoughts on how to respond to racism.

Thursday the 17th Jill and I followed Nina’s suggestion and had lunch together on Jill’s day off. We thought Founding Farmer’s would be good as it wasn’t too cold, but it was windy and we ate inside as it wasn’t busy at 2PM. Saturday the 19th was Eric’s funeral, at a church off 29 between Bristow and Warrenton. It was sad to bid him farewell, but nice to see his wife, daughters, brother and mother. I went to a nearby Panera afterwards to hang with college friends I hadn’t seen in 15-20 years. I finally left at 5 – I needed to pick up some additional Switch controllers in Tyson’s and Ledos Pizza before we had game night with the Hocrodels and Larsens. The 5 kids ate first, then played Switch downstairs while the grownups played Cards Against Humanity upstairs.

Oran Bill Kerry Monica Amy PJ

Monday Nina and I were off for President’s Day. It was a beautiful day, and in the afternoon she ran a cookie booth right outside the house on the trail. When the Grunspans were done with their friends, they joined her before Nina had to go to Tae Kwon Do to earn her last stripe. They did so well both households nearly sold out of their stash. Nina had hives that night – they may have been from a dog that licked her, but we weren’t sure, so we paused her drops for a day.

Olivia Leila Nina

Friday the 25th I had to LOL at Butt-centric literary star Chuck Tingle buys GovernorAbbott.com. That evening we watched Nina’s Tae Kwon Do graduation as she made it to her bo-black belt (second to last belt, black is last). Then we went out for dinner at Clyde’s in Reston as they’ll be closing soon. Unfortunately it was too windy to eat outside, but the booths had plexiglass barriers and felt fairly safe. Saturday Nina made some #flowerfood.

Nina

January

Saturday the 1st was New Year’s Day and we were still in Boston, so we slept in a bit, then drove home (with a stop at White Castle, naturally). Sunday Jill kicked off cookie sales with this note: “Nina is going camping for the first time this year as a girl scout and is super excited! Her troop is also raising funds to try for a bronze award; so far their community projects have included making blankets for the shelter and decorating memorial rocks for our community memory garden for those we have lost through Covid at the senior living community. Thanks for your support”. Monday Nina was scheduled to be back at school, but Mother Nature had other ideas and we got a lot of snow. In fact, she was off all that week with another storm on Thursday. Friday we got Bollywood Bistro (Jill’s favorite) and worked on Jill’s Christmas gift, Lego Winnie the Pooh.

Nina

Saturday the 9th Jill and I had debated going to see Fortune Feimster at the new Capital One Hall, especially with the neighbors at the next 3 houses all positive and everyone back at school and work, but this graphic sealed the deal for me, and so we went to show #1 (also with Caitlin Peluffo). Glad we did, everyone was well masked in the theatre and she was hilarious.

Jill Nina

Saturday the 15th we had tickets for concert #2: Eddie From Ohio at the Birchmere. But vaccinated without masks required and still in the middle of the Omicron surge meant that Jill didn’t feel safe bringing Nina, so I went by myself. I loved that Julie changed the lyrics of “Old Dominion” again to “Baseball season’s over, and our football team is crap, so wintertime means Washington and rootin’ for the Caps”. They finally stopped burning CDs of the show that night, and instead started offering a download card for sale. Tuesday the misheard lyric of the day was: “I ate the sharpest tool in the shed”.

Eddie From Ohio

The new governor in Virginia had decided to lean into his far-right politics, and decided to issue an executive order prohibiting mask mandates in schools as soon as he got into office. So on Wednesday I shared a petition for Fairfax County parents to make their voices heard. I also shared a link to help fund a lawsuit against the executive order. Then on Thursday I seconded this.

Kerry Nina

Friday the 21st we got takeout from the final of the three open restaurants in Reston Station, Big Buns. And apparently saved the best for last, as we were all raving about our meals, especially Nina who got the Unicorn Shake (all the shakes were good). Sunday Nina made her own breakfast for a Girl Scout badge (fruit smoothie, scrambled eggs, and a frozen waffle). Tuesday we got takeout from On The Border for a PTO fundraiser.

Nina Jill

Friday the 28th Nina had her school picture taken and we got takeout from Cooper’s Hawk and Nando’s (I ended up getting Nando’s because Cooper’s Hawk has no low sodium entrees – or to be more accurate has only high sodium entrees). That night I shared the Peacemaker opening sequence to my buddy Eric. His wife had called me saying he was back in the hospital with pneumonia and might go on a ventilator that night, and he asked me if I’d seen the new Spider-Man and I told him he needed to get better soon so we could chat about this hilarious show and its extensive use of hair metal (5 minutes on Hanoi Rocks alone in the previous episode).

Unfortunately she called me the next day that he hadn’t made it through the night, so I shared “RIP Eric Kader. Friend, brother, roommate, record store co-owner, concert buddy. Gone too soon.” Sunday I had mentioned that when Eric and I went to Woodstock ’94 we had a four hour wait for a shuttle. Someone in line had a bottle of Goldschlager and we shared it while we waited. I got a nip of Goldschlager when we opened Jill’s birthday piñata in 2020, and I figured that night was the perfect time to drink it.

cocktail

That day also marked the end of Wizards Unite, the Pokemon Go style mobile app set in the Harry Potter universe. We finally finished the Harry Potter film series, which we started in August 2018 by listening to the audiobook first and then watching the movie. Then we watched the 20th anniversary of the movies special on HBO. I think we’ll have a conversation in the future of separating art and the problematic artist, but I think for now we’re done with that universe.

Nina

Throughout January, Nina had been preparing for Broadway Night, a selection of jukebox musicals presented by the South Lakes High School Chorus. They invite all the South Lakes Pyramid schools, and all the elementary students were singing the Go-Go’s “Vacation” as well as appearing in the “On Your Feet” finale. Nina started the month with twice a week rehearsals, but with one week to go, she was rehearsing every day and some days going straight from school to school. We felt we were getting a taste of high school and things to come. Also in January, Jill and I both joined the Wordle viral craze.

December

Saturday the 4th we went to Lost Rhino as our friends Tony and Charissa came down from Philly with our friend Bill. Janice was hosting and Lorna & Dave came along too. Tony loves pinball, and Nina and I joined him for that. Her favorite game was Guardians of the Galaxy while I preferred The Mandalorian. I enjoyed the beer and Nina had S’mores with the propane fire pit outside. I had rewatched the 4 previous Daniel Craig Bond movies the last 4 nights, then that night my dad came over to watch the newest one, a tradition he started by taking me to see Octopussy. A great ending for a great Bond.

Nina

Sunday Nina had a Girl Scouts cookie rally and Jill said “this Jingle Bell kitty is happy to be back in the holiday spirit after an overenthusiastic play session! Inspired by The Knitmore Girls stuffie mending and although it’s #NotAPerfectMend it’ll do just fine. Kiddo is just happy to have her holiday playmate back!”. Monday I was in DC for concert #20: Brandi Carlile at Sixth & I. A fantastic solo show that mixed together her new album, Joni Mitchell covers, and holiday songs, plus duets with her wife and the first ever singing appearance of her daughter.

Brandi Carlile

Saturday the 11th we went to the Herndon Winter Market where we unexpectedly met up with Janice and Lorna & Dave again. We enjoyed German food from a food truck, then watched some traditional dancers.

Kerry Janice Lorna Nina Jill

Monday I started 3 weeks off – I was convinced with Jill working at a hospital and Nina back in school that one of us would catch Covid. I was delighted to be wrong, but my vacation time was use it or lose it, so I used it. Tuesday I took Nina and a friend to concert #21: Dixie D’Amelio, MONSTA X, Tai Verdes, Bazzi, Saweetie, Black Eyed Peas, Tate McRae, Megan thee Stallion & Jonas Brothers for HOT 99.5’s Jingle Ball at Capital One Arena, and they had a great time. They were disappointed that Doja Cat & AJR dropped out due to Covid, but both got to see their first K-pop band and they’re big fans of the genre (can’t tell you how much Blackpink I’ve heard lately). Jill got a haircut and said “Gotta love an amazing new cut and style! Natalya at Alya Salon cut about 10 inches off and I’m so thrilled! She knows how to give a great Deva/curly hair cut 🙌🙌”

Bailey Nina

Wednesday it was my turn for a haircut from Roosters, and Thursday I watched this great tribute to the other movie series that had it’s 20th anniversary this year (and tagged it on social media with #Colbert #LordOfTheRings #LOTR #1Trilly). Jill was surprised that she would come home from work and find me still on the computer, but I had a lot of non-work computer tasks to catch up on. Friday I had lunch with John on the deck, then our neighbors were back from Spain and all the girls got together for dinner and a movie (Shang-Chi). Jill and I got takeout from Chengs. Saturday we had another outdoor holiday party. This time there were slightly less people, so we brought our food, drinks and heater over to our neighbor John’s house. As always, there was caroling at his house.

caroling

Sunday the 19th Nina had a Girl Scouts troop party, then I went to a house concert in Herndon for concert #22: Michael Clem. Good to hear his new songs live, and see my friend. Later Nina and her friends decorated gingerbread houses.

Celina Pearl Leila Nina

Wednesday we packed for our trip, but I made sure to watch the new Matrix (I thought it was fantastic). I had also watched the first 3 Matrix movies the previous 3 nights, and I could say what I would never say about the Star Wars prequels – those sequels are seriously underrated.

foodmoji

Thursday we were all negative for Covid, so off we went to Massachusetts, with a fairly uneventful drive, stopping at Sonic for lunch. Christmas Eve we went over to Jill’s mom’s and most of the immediate family came. All plans for takeout had to go out the window as just about every place was closed, and we finally found Blue Asian Cuisine in Chicopee that was a good place. It snowed that night and the rain held off on Christmas long enough for Nina to have her 2nd White Christmas. Later we had dinner at the Bradys and a gift card swap, where both Nina and I watched Home Alone for the first time (what can I say – it was a kids movie that came out when I was in college).

Kerry Nina Finn

On Sunday the 27th Pepe & Meme came over to celebrate with their grandkids (Nina & Finn) and we had appetizers. That night Jill and I went to concert #23: Dar Williams with Crys Matthews at The Stationery Factory in Dalton. Nice show to finish 2021 on – although it was a white knuckle ride home for Jill because of the snow. Wednesday we went to Northampton for lunch (Familiars Coffee & Tea for Jill and me, Yokohama Ramen for Nina) and shopping. Thursday I rented out the last 4 rows at the South Hadley’s Tower Theaters so we could sit in the last 2 rows and watch Sing 2 semi-safely, then we visited with Gram.

Robin Bob Mike Kerry Jill Sue Finn Nina

We capped off the week by heading out on New Year’s Eve and visiting with my sister and her family , then went to the Cannons. Later the older kids watched the younger ones while Jill and I reenacted our 1st date from 20 years ago: sushi on NYE with the Cannons. We went to Fuki, early enough that we were the only ones there. It was delicious. Later we went back to there house and found random music videos to watch while we chatted before the kids came upstairs for the ball drop.

Jess Chris Jill Kerry

November

The 1st and 2nd Nina was off due to student holidays (the 2nd was Election Day). Jill took off to take care of Nina, who ended up wanting to go to SACC on the 1st. So Tuesday was the get stuff done day, including a passport appointment for all of us because Nina’s passport expired that day and a dentist appointment for Jill and Nina (mine was the next Tuesday). Later I wondered how did I not hear this mashup before now? This is legendary!

Nina

Wednesday we celebrated as vaccinations for ages 5-11 in Fairfax County were live. Friday we got takeout from Pista House. Jill and Nina went on Saturday to Tysons Corner Center. Jill said “Covid shots at the mall meant wandering around for a bit, checking out the massage chair after mom found a random dollar in her purse, then sporting a new fashion headband to create art. Here’s to a fully vaccinated household for the holiday season!”

Nina

Nina had a 2 hour early release on the 11th for Veterans Day, but I didn’t pick her up as her Girl Scout troop picked her up and took her to a troop campfire. Friday Jill was out to dinner with coworkers and it was Nina’s turn to choose takeout, so we went to Ariake, ordered, then sat in my car watching Saturday Night Live videos on YouTube until the order was ready. Saturday Nina didn’t get much exercise during the day, as she asked to go outside after dinner and ended up climbing trees.

Nina

Tuesday the 16th we had a ramp installed. A couple months earlier, I’d invited my mom and her husband David to join us for Thanksgiving, and she’d agreed but told me that he was having trouble walking. I’d tried a number of local places that rent medical equipment, but had no luck until I reached out to Freedom Mobility in Maryland. They needed to install it earlier than we needed it and their minimum rental time was a month, but it was just what we needed.

Jill Nina

Thursday Nina had been having some asthma running around in cold weather, so I got her early so we could have a teleconference with her pulmonologist (she wasn’t happy about leaving early and missing art). Saturday was an Open mic at Jammin’ Java for the music students. Nina was scheduled to perform, but when she realized it was on a stage in front of a bunch of people this time, got some stage fright. We still watched the talented Jammin’ Java school house band for concert #18. Her teacher brought her up later so she could see what it was like. That night the neighbor girls came over to help decorate the tree while I went out to see Joan Osborne at The Barns at Wolf Trap for concert #19. She had a nice mix of her recent album, her Dylan covers album before that, and the hits from Relish. Sunday Nina had Girl Scouts.

Nina

Tuesday the 23rd my mom came by. We thought she was coming for dinner but she was just dropping off the pies as she and David were staying at Lynn House. Nina was off Wednesday but they had plans with friends, so we just did our own thing. Thursday we were up early to cook while Mom and David went to church, then came over. We had made a little nook near the kitchen fireplace they could sit at, then we had the classic meal, and later 4 pies (Mom and Jill both made apple plus Mom made a pecan and picked up a pumpkin on her way down). I realized while making turkey broth later that that day was the 400th anniversary of the first Thanksgiving and we had three generations of descendants of one of the attendees here thanks to my mom joining us. They joined us again Friday, I made Eggs Benedict and artichokes for brunch as Nina and my mom both love artichokes, then we ordered takeout from Mama Chang (Mom had read about it in the Post) and had more pie (Nina surprised us with a love for pumpkin for the first time). Only Jill went shopping on Black Friday for yarn and provisions at Red Apron, although I LOL’d at this.

Kerry Jill Nina

Saturday the 28th Mom and David headed home in the morning. Later I got my booster and Nina got her 2nd shot, then we shopped at Dulles Town Center. Today I had some fever and fatigue, but the 3.5 hour nap seemed to take care of it. But if I had to do it all over again, I’d skip the mall. Nina had a Spanish project to create a community and label it with the Spanish words. Saturday she tried CAD and LegoCAD programs and wasn’t a big fan, so Sunday she worked all day on a Lego version (with just a little help from us).

Kerry Nina Jill

On the 30th we got takeout from Pupatella to benefit Nina’s school. Jill said “My friend Patty posted this on her Facebook page and it speaks very loud and clear to me, especially what is going on in our crafting community. We cannot be silent when others are being exploited and harmed. I personally was never a fan but I know what it means to struggle with the ugly truth and bring in out into the light. We can hold grace for each other but grace is not a pass for accountability and inward reflection and growth. Let’s shine a light into the dark places.”
quote

October

The 1st was a Friday and we went to watch Raya and the Last Dragon sponsored by Terraset’s PTO. We got food from the food trucks and watched the movie for the first time. We were glad we brought blankets and sleeping bags as it was chilly and damp by the end. Saturday we brought Nina to Terraset so she could figure out how to climb on top of the monkey bars, but decided she wasn’t ready. That night was concert #15: Damien Jurado & Okkervil River (solo) at The Barns at Wolf Trap. I came for Okkervil River, but Damien Jurado wasn’t bad either. Sunday Nina had Girl Scouts and Monday was off for 2 days but Jill took off and took her to her pulmonologist.

Nina Kerry

Friday the 8th we got takeout from Tea Break Pho & Boba. Tuesday I had to take Nina to her pediatrician as we hadn’t paid attention to her running out of a medicine. Friday I took Nina and a friend to the the homecoming parade and walked with them. Jill met us at the end. Saturday Nina and Jill made gluten free cookies while I went to concert #16: girl in red, Lauv, St. Vincent, Charli XCX & Haim at Merriweather Post Pavilion for the All Things Go Music Festival. Very well run, despite the rain, and I love all the infrastructure improvements to Merriweather. Too bad the only thing I could eat was a sad looking cheeseburger. Sunday Nina and Jill went up to Frederick as Nina’s voice teacher owns a wig shop there, then Nina went to Girl Scouts.

Nina

Jill said about their trip: “We made a trip to visit Nina’s voice teacher at her new amazing business, the Frederick Wig Company! Rachel is a bespoke wig maker on top of all her other talents and has just opened this storefront in Downtown Frederick. N had so much fun trying on wigs and came home with a mermaid wig and fairy hair tied into her real hair. We had a great time; thanks for the wonderful visit! For those who are local, Rachel has appointments available for you to shop safely and get a consultation for a wig or topper for any cosmetic or medical reason -she’s a gem.”
“In honor of Rhinebeck Weekend, N and I visited a yarn shop in Frederick; the Knot House. I’m glad I got a chance to poke around; so many lovely things! I visited magpie fibers last time I was there so now I feel complete. With this purchase I decided to halt further yarn or fiber purchases until next year’s Rhinebeck weekend with a couple of planned exceptions. I’m just getting my crafting mojo back and my stash has gotten overwhelming. I have carefully curated it but it’s time to start using it in earnest.”

Nina

Monday the 18th I was disappointed that my favorite new show had been canceled. They had definitely changed some of the storylines, but I enjoyed making the protagonist’s mother President instead of Congressperson. Thursday I said “Huh” after reading this:
“The 13% of Americans who are anti-vax are equal to the percentage who don’t own a smartphone. It’s barely half the number who believe Bigfoot is real (26%) and nearly 50% smaller than the number who don’t believe in God (19%). It’s less common than brushing your teeth in the shower (17%) or not putting a top sheet on your bed at all (16%).
If you subtract the people who have legitimate health reasons for not getting vaccinated, the number of conscientious anti-vaxxers dips below the percentage of Americans who don’t wear deodorant (11%). ”

house

Friday was my birthday. After Jill informed me parking was slim, I walked over to the shopping center where we got to see Nina graduate to her second-from-last belt in Tae Kwon Do, then we had a late dinner outside at Founding Farmers followed by homemade carrot cake and gifts. Finally, I watched the excellent adaption of Dune (I loved the 4 hour version of Lynch’s Dune, but I can’t wait for part 2 of this). I said “Tomorrow night is emmet swimming in Leesburg and I just can’t imagine a better weekend.”

Nina Kerry

And concert #17 was great: emmet swimming, with short opening sets from Hana Eid, Erik Wenberg, Smartbomb & Quitter UK at Tally Ho Theater. That may have been Quitter UK’s first shows since 2006. Sunday Nina had Girl Scouts. Jill said: “My new favorite baby gift; buy an outfit and make a sweater to match! This is kiddy vertebrae and I was supposed to drop it off this morning to the recipient but it turns out she went into labor last night! So it’ll keep for a little longer…”
Friday the 29th we got takeout from Makers Union, then Sunday was Halloween and Nina got invited to a neighborhood party with a friend (she dressed up as Coraline), so Jill and I handed out candy and ate dinner by ourselves.

Nina

September

On the 1st was concert #8: Eagles at Capital One Arena. My first masked and vaxxed show (and now the only way I’ll go). The crowd was mostly compliant, so I double masked. The show was great (and long), started off with the entire Hotel California album played with a string orchestra (Sorry to Jay, who I was going to see the show with in L.A. pre-pandemic). The next day was Nina’s birthday, and she got ice cream on her waffle for breakfast. She had requested Indian food, and Jill wanted to try a place in Ashburn as she was working late, so we met up at Celebration. Unfortunately their “outside seating” was 2 tiny tables, plus they couldn’t serve alcohol there, but we made the most of it, plus their food was pretty tasty. We went to the nearby Brusters for dessert where Nina got an enormous sundae. Jill said “To my girl on her 10th birthday: you are amazing. You are the bright spot of each of my days since we met. I love your fierce tenacity, your kindness, and your independence. I look forward to continue watching you as you blossom, because you are the type of person that blooms where planted. Love always, your proud mama.”

Nina

We hired a new cleaning lady who Jill knew from work, and she came Saturday morning at 9am to clean, not leaving until 7pm. Sue and Dave came to stay with us that day, luckily it was nice to hang out on the deck for hours. We also got a giant ice cream cake Nina got to share with her neighborhood friends. Sunday Nina went to the pool with friends, then played ping pong with 2 friends in a neighborhood tournament. Later I took Dave out on the boat and he did some fishing (and sunburning).

Dave

On Labor Day we went out to visit my dad when my sister and her family were staying with him. They weren’t vaccinated, so we stopped in Old Town Alexandria on the way back and ate at Virtue Feed & Grain. Jill took Thursday and Friday off to hang out with Sue and Dave. Thursday I joined them for lunch at Jacques’ Brasserie at L’Auberge Chez Francois and that night we got takeout from Mazadar. Friday I enjoyed this comic.

Josh

Saturday the 11th Sue, Nina and Jill went apple picking then got delayed because Jill went to help a worker who fainted. So I met them at Olney Park for concert #9: Stephen Kellogg at his Family BBQ. Then later was concert #10: Close Enough on the lake, and the first time we tied up to another boat – the girls couldn’t get enough of walking between boats. Monday I saw the best Bell Biv DeVoe parody about the news I’ve seen that day.

Stephen Kellogg Kerry Nina

Tuesday the 14th was concert #11: Kennedy Center 50th Anniversary Celebration Concert with Dr. Jill Biden, Audra McDonald, Tony Yazbeck, Renée Fleming, Darren Criss, Ben Folds, Mo Willems, Gaby Moreno, Barlow and Bear, Kelli O’Hara, Dianne Reeves, Punch Brothers, Keb’ Mo’, Christian McBride, Rachael Price, Randall Goosby, Zhu Wang, Bettye LaVette, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Joshua Henry, D Smoke, DJ Jahi Sundance, Robert Glasper, Kelly Marie Tran & the cast of Soft Power, Common & the National Symphony Orchestra. Quite a show showcasing the last 50 years and trying to project the next 50. The highlights aired on PBS were pretty good, although I was surprised they left out Renée Fleming & Kelli O’Hara singing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”.

Rachael Price/Punch Brothers

Friday we got takeout from Taco Zocalo. Sunday Nina & Jill knitted together. Later Jill said “Couldn’t be prouder of Nina’s elementary school and all the fantastic educators. This Time article recognizes her librarian, Mrs. Dueno, who personally delivered books to many houses (including ours!) during the school year so kids could keep reading.”

Nina Jill

Wednesday Jill and I were heading to Wolf Trap, but Nina had been congested and spiked a fever, so we cancelled the babysitter and Jill stayed home, trying to get a Covid test while I went to concert #12: Ani DiFranco & Indigo Girls. Emily’s voice was a little off, but they had Lucy Wainwright Roche join them for the full set so that made up for that. Plus everyone played during the encore. The next morning I took Nina to get her swab since Jill hadn’t gotten in the previous night, and it was negative so with the fever gone she was back to school on Friday, when we got this lovely school aged Shantytowne picture.

Shantytowne

Saturday was concert #13: The Avett Brothers at the Wolf Trap Gala. I was curious if after 2 sold out shows they’d slow it down for a smaller crowd, but apparently they only know one speed. Plus they gained a new fan in Jill. This cover didn’t hurt matters at all. The speeches were meh, but Governor North was funny. After we got home, Nina had an asthma attack thanks to lingering congestion, so she went back on the nebulizer for the next couple of days.

Kerry Jill Nina

Wednesday the 29th was concert #14: Primus with The Sword at MECU Pavilion (aka Pier Six). Mostly there for Primus covering all of Rush’s “A Farewell to Kings” in their second set. Amazing job, double necked guitars, Rickenbackers and Gibsons. First time hearing live versions of “A Farewell To Kings”, “Cinderella Man” & “Madrigal”. I hate going to Baltimore on a weeknight, but that was worth it. I cam home to everyone sleeping in our bed.

Nina Jill