January

Not too much was going on early in the month. The other Dogfish Head Alehouse in the area closed – I didn’t go often, but they always had the best beer. Nina started cookie sales, and I noticed the following in my newsfeed and posted “Wait… Does that mean Iggy Azalea is the new vocalist for Rage Against The Machine?” Friday we had takeout from Dolan Uyghur.

Inoreader

On Saturday the 6th, Jill dropped me off at the Metro. At Union Station I picked up the Cava order I’d made, and was soon enjoying my salad on my first Acela trip to Philadelphia. I’d planned on driving, but the day’s winter storm made me reconsider, and it turned out to be a good. It was a bit slippery in Philly as I walked to Long In the Tooth and scoured their CDs. After I was done, I walked to Suburban Station, where I had to cool my heels for a while as the line only ran once an hour on the weekend. I checked out Classic Game Junkie in Glenside, then went over to Roberts Block where I enjoyed the duck breast and the crème brûlée with bourbon. After my meal, I walked up to the Keswick Theatre where the Rush tribute band YYNOT was hosting Bubba Bash 2024, a fundraiser around Neil Peart’s birthday for Cedars-Sinai.

YYNOT

Ordinarily a cover band is not much of a draw, but the guest artists with them included Jonathan Dinklage (a violin player who was the player on the original version of “Losing It”), Dan Avidan (Ninja Sex Party) and Frank Bello (Anthrax), as well as drummers Ed Toth, Andrés Patrick Forero, Seven Antonopoulos, Jason Bittner and Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater). It was a wonderful show, and happily I didn’t have to reverse my travel then as my friend Tony was playing in a pinball tournament in NJ and went a bit out of his way on the way back to pick me up. I stayed overnight in his guest room, then the next morning we drove to Delaware to play pinball at the co-op (no tournament this time, thank goodness), then he dropped me off at 2 at the Wilmington train station and made my way home. Jill was under the weather when I got home, so she tapped out and I took nina to her confirmation class at church, then had delicious bibimbap at Maru while I waited.

pinball

Monday I had to LOL at this and Tuesday I had to say Nice one, Oakton!

Kerry Lillah

Friday the 12th Nina was home sick. She had a fever and I took her to the CVS Minute Clinic, where I learned she was 96lbs, 5’1″, and strep, flu and Covid negative. Jill got takeout from Santinis on the way home. We had tickets to see Seth Meyers at his 7PM show at the Kennedy Center the next night, and Jill volunteered to stay home. I’d posted about a free ticket on Facebook and posted it for sale on Stubhub with no takers, so I was prepared to eat it. But as I was walking up the ramp to the entrance, a lady asked if I had an extra, so I gave it to her. Good set, even better if you’ve already seen Lobby Baby.

Nina Lillah

Monday was a holiday and would have been a snow day, so we stayed indoors, I cooked Eggs benedict and artichokes, then made a fire. Did the kitten prefer her first taste of snow or seeing her first fire? Neither, she spent most of her day hanging out on a secondhand cat ledge we got that apparently smells like cats. I also saw this video for the first time that’s for fellow Doctor Who fans only: Leela vs the Time War!

Lillah

Wednesday the 17th Nina’s chorus had a graded, mandatory concert, so we all went over to Langston Hughes to see it. Thursday I finished Season 5 of Fargo and said it is the best since the first one. Good to the last bite. Friday we got an actual snow day. I got to work, Nina slept in, and Jill went over to Walker Nature Center to finally try out her snowshoes.

Jill

Saturday I had to say kudos to the editor of The Washington Post’s letters to the editor page for making all the titles song lyrics (gift link). Monday morning Nina had a nightmare and crawled into our bed, followed closely by Lillah. When I realized we had the whole family in the bed for the first time, I tried to take a selfie of all of us, but it turned out crappy.

Nina Kerry Jill Lillah

Juliana Hatfield just released an album covering Electric Light Orchestra late last year and appeared at Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage Friday the 26th to perform, so that was a must for me. She did mostly her own material, but did two ELO covers, as well as songs by The Police and Olivia Newton-John. On the way home, I stopped by the Lost Dog Café and picked up takeout for the family as well as Lera, one of Nina’s friends.

Juliana Hatfield

December

Friday the 1st Nina and the Panther chorus were busy. First they performed at the Holiday Open House at the Governmental Center, then I got to create a fundraising account and website to sell popcorn for their planned spring trip. I shared “Want to send Nina to Broadway? No, just for the day. Grab yourself some popcorn, or donate some to essential workers.” We held our annual holiday party on Saturday (again with adults in the kitchen and kids everywhere else), then on Sunday I went to see Emmylou Harris at The Hamilton with Rodney Crowell as part of her annual fundraiser for Bonaparte’s Retreat. I went with the VIP tickets because it guaranteed me a seat down front, it was for a good cause, and who doesn’t want their picture with Emmylou? The concert was great, too.

Kerry Emmylou Harris

Monday the 4th I saw this video, and my first reaction was “Holy f*ck”. Tuesday I went to see the Allman Betts Family Revival at Capital One Hall. The Allman Betts Band was formed by three sons of members of the Allman Brothers Band, which was kinda interesting, but this show was them doing all Allman Brothers Band songs along with a lot of start from the jam band scene. Standouts were Ghalia Volt and Tal Wilkenfeld (the latter whom I’d seen play when she was in Jeff Beck’s band). Thursday I didn’t read the Post as the writers were on strike. I also thought this video was interesting – Sinead O’Connor doing the Kirsty MacColl part on “Fairytale Of New York”. R.I.P. both her and Shane.

Allman Betts Family Revival

We had a quiet weekend starting Friday, getting takeout from Pista House as the next several weeks would be busy. Nina went to her first school dance on Wednesday the 13th. Then her advanced chorus was invited to South Lakes High School for their Tis the Season for Jazz winter concert, and Jill and I went to see her do that on Thursday.

Langston Hughes Chorus

Friday the 15th we got Nina out of school an hour early and started driving north at 1:30, listening to holiday music all the way. We stopped for dinner at Wawa and arrived at 10 at Robin’s house. Saturday we drove out to Ski Butternut. Nina joined her cousins for tubing while I had brought my skis to go skiing. But there was a problem with my ticket I needed to wait in line to fix, then when I finally got my skis on my boots wouldn’t stay in the bindings. I found the repair shop and they told me my bindings had blown. So I rented skis and terrible boots, and I was finally on the lift when I texted Jill to tell her what was going on and she said they were done tubing. Nina had complained on the trip over that she didn’t get to ski, so we told her she could now, and she did.

Nina

After I’d made two runs, she was ready. But it had been 3 years since she’d skied, and she was unsure of herself, so we went over to the bunny slope and I attempted to reteach her. After a number of runs, we took the lift up and the green trail down – she was doing really well until the bottom of the green, which was steeper and she fell a couple times. After another run, she was done, and I did one more run for myself. It was a fun afternoon as I don’t think we talked that much in one day all year. That evening Jill and her sisters, spouses, plus her mom and Dave met up for dinner at Donovan’s (the former Slainte) in Holyoke. It took a while to seat all of us, but we had some drinks, and the food was decent.

Kerry Nina

Sunday Jill and Nina went to church with Robin and Finn. They had a cookie sale that Robin had made cookies for and came home with a selection of tasty ones. We got takeout from Elm Pizza for lunch (I had the roast beef), then went to Old Sturbridge Village with most of the Bradys. The threatened rain soon started to fall, and it wasn’t as fun walking around. Nina asked for food and we went over to the Bullard Tavern where we waited in line for food. We ate upstairs where Dominic, Maddy & Tiernan had also camped out, and were treated to a string duo performing in front of the fireplace. Nina wanted to do some present shopping for Jill so we spent some time in the gift shop. At some point my glasses slipped out of pocket when we were walking around, and calls back later were never answered. I heated up some of Nina’s leftover Wawa pizza and decided they’d stolen the recipe from Domino’s.

Old Sturbridge Village

Monday the 18th the rain was intense all day, so of course that was the day we drove to Framingham to meet my sister and her son Josh. We met at Burtons Grill for lunch (where we were lucky to get our orders in before the 2 huge tables of companies having holiday lunches), then went over to Fun and Games. It was like a tiny Dave & Busters, but unlike them they had pinball. Jill was out for dinner with her mom and sisters, so Nina had the spaghetti that Mike made, while I had bought lamb and grilled that.

Kerry Josh

I slept in most days we were up there, but Tuesday really slept in past noon. Nina was getting a cold that Jill also ended up getting (I remembered to bring the zinc lozenges and pounded them). After Finn got home from school, Bob & Sue came for a visit and we got takeout from Alessio’s Pizza for dinner. There was lots of speculation on the estimated total of this that night.

Nina Finn

Wednesday Jill was with Missy who had a procedure done. After she came home, we got fajitas ingredients at Stop & Shop, then I made them. Jake, Sue & Dave came over to eat as well. That night I thought “Why did I never think to do this?” Thursday we went to visit Gram, where we picked up Jake and went on to Northampton. Sue met us there and everyone else went to Webs while I went to Turn It Up. Sue took Jake home after that while we went back to Robin’s house where Mike made us burgers.

Lillah

Friday Nina wasn’t feeling great, but roused herself in the morning for a haircut with Jill and Maddy. In the evening we went over to the Bradys for an early Christmas dinner, with ham, roast beef, and some very good Yorkshire Pudding. Gifts were exchanged and ugly sweaters were worn (over great objection from me). Saturday we left at 6am with a quick Starbucks start, taking 87 for an almost guaranteed traffic free day. I slept in New Jersey. Nina asked for seafood for lunch, and there was a Phillips at the next rest stop. She got the crispy shrimp and I got the hush puppies, astounded that they reminded me of the ones from the long gone Chesapeake Bay Seafood House. Since both Jill and Nina weren’t feeling good by that point with a cold, I went out and picked up pho from Tea Break.

Nina

The Cannons came down for the week again, and brought a bunch of store pizzas over for dinner on Christmas Eve while I made my own pizza and a salad (I used up my bad luck for the year by smashing the jar of leftover pizza sauce just as I was putting it away downstairs). My dad didn’t want to meet for Christmas as he was taking care of Patricia, so Christmas Day was just us and Lillah, who was very happy to have us home (she had warmed up to the neighbors catsitting and allowed them to pet her after 5 days). We had plenty of time to open and enjoy our gifts, and I made a rotisserie duck for Christmas dinner.

Jill Nina Lillah

My mom was scheduled to fly in on Tuesday the 26th in the afternoon, but her flight was delayed over 7 hours and she finally arrived at 10PM, and Nina and I picked her up. Mom was delighted to meet Lillah, and we mostly hung out and talked. No one had a preference for dinner, so I made peanut noodles figuring everyone would like it, and I was right. Thursday we’d planned on having a joint dinner with the Cannons at Peter Chang in McLean, but Nina had fallen asleep in the afternoon and didn’t feel great after that, and neither did Jess, so it was just me and Mom with Chris and his kids. But it was a great meal (their Peking duck is worth it) and we made new orders for the homebound before we left.

Nancy Lillah

Friday the 29th I dropped Mom off the airport in the morning, then we had an early New Year’s Eve party again (this time on New Year’s Eve Eve Eve) as the Cannons were leaving early the next day. Again the Larsens and Norwood-Hochradels were able to join us, this time with all family members. Saturday we picked up Nina’s friend Avery and drove to the Wharf where we had lunch at Del Mar and again had the enormous paella. Next we went to the nearby Arena Stage to see Swept Away, based on The Avett Brothers’ album Mignonette, but featuring songs from their whole catalog. Jill and I really enjoyed it, and Nina thought it was a bit cringe.

Jess Chris Amy Kai Chris Morgan Kerry Mike Jill

Sunday the 31st was New Year’s Eve, and we felt very lucky that one of Nina’s friends invited her over, as we’d already made plans. After we dropped her off and hung out a little, we drove to DC and managed to drive around an accident scene and park. We got to The Atlantis just as ebo was ending, and had obtained drinks and a good spot by the time emmet swimming went onstage. I wouldn’t have minded staying, but since we hadn’t made a plan for Nina, needed to be back by shortly after midnight to pick up Nina. So we left at 11:15 as traffic was still gnarly, and arrived at 11:50, plenty of time to do the countdown, then head home.

Nina Kerry Jill

August

Tuesday the 1st we were still in Massachusetts. I browsed the CD selections at the Westfield Salvation Army, then I finally got to see Sue and Dave’s new place. We went with them to Bond 124 for lunch, then we drove to Powder Hollow Brewery and enjoyed their samplings (I got “beer on a stick”). Later we went to Melissa’s for a spaghetti dinner, and slept there.

Kerry Sue Jill Dave

Wednesday we were up early to leave. Ava came with us, and we had the car packed and were quickly on our way, home a little after noon. I needed to mow and cook, so Jill took the girls to Great Falls (Ava had a new, nice camera). Thursday and Friday Nina had middle school orientation in the morning, so I worked both days. Jill brought Ava to Udvar-Hazy Thursday morning.

Ava Nina Jill

When we were driving down, we were playing a Regina Spektor playlist for her show, when Ava piped up from the back saying that she loved Regina Spektor. So instead of leaving the two of them at home together, we got lawn seats for the two of them. We brought a picnic and ate with them during some light rain, but it cleared up by the time Aimee Mann went on. I’d elected not to tell Jill Jonathan Coulton was touring with Aimee Mann and seemed to come out and sing with her even when he didn’t open, so she was truly surprised when he came out. Regina Spektor was pretty great as well.

Aimee Mann Jonathan Coulton

Friday we hosted some of our neighbors who’d moved away, most significantly one of Nina’s pod during the pandemic. Everything went well, except I started hiccupping and couldn’t stop, bringing up some crazy amounts of phlegm. All I had was a burger, salad and beer, but it was a big bottle of beer that didn’t fizz at all, so I’m thinking it went bad. Everyone else had a nice time going out on another neighbors’ boat.

Leila Nina Pearl Celina

Saturday we’d made reservations to go ziplining at Go Ape. Jill went around once and was done, I went around twice and drew blood on my second landing and that was enough for me. The girls ran the clock out on our time and had a blast. In the afternoon Nina attended a birthday party at Dave & Busters, and Ava and I came as well and did our own thing. I found some Willy Wonka coin pusher cards from a couple years back, and started playing that again, along with a nice long stint on Aliens: Armageddon.

Nina

Sunday the 6th we took the subway into DC. Ava wanted to see the Tidal Basin and visit the National Museum of American History, so we did that. We stopped at Red Robin for a late lunch as Ava is a fan. Random quote from the lunch: “I didn’t know you could be a professional cornholer.” Later, I read an epic thread on Twitter about this. A case study in FAFO.

Nina Jill Ava

Monday, Nina started her last camp of the summer, a 2 week theater camp at Frying Pan Park. She also got to do another round of catsitting. I got a last minute ticket to see Drive-By Truckers at The Atlantis Thursday, and was eager to see the outfit that gave Jason Isbell his start. I liked them a lot, but I think I prefer him more.

Drive-By Truckers

Friday, I had to post this and comment that this is why Bloomberg, Bowser and the WaPo editorial page are wrong. Jill also chimed in, saying “Our lives are so much better with Kerry working from home. We’re not willing to change this.”

Nina Kerry Jill

Saturday the 12th Jill said that she was “enjoying a relaxing weekend, getting last minute supplies for N’s foray into middle school and about to enjoy some theater and book festival time. I’m in a good place rn and with therapy, meditation, and medication as well as hypnotherapy to help me finally put my compulsive overeating into remission I feel the best physically and emotionally than I have in my memory. I’m so grateful.” And that’s what we did, attending a matinee of The Play That Goes Wrong at the Kennedy Center, then heading over to the Convention Center for the National Book Festival to look around and see John Scalzi in conversation with Linda Holmes.

I missed The Swell Season on their first go round, then they broke up (personally and professionally). When they announced they’d be touring this year, I bought a ticket to their show at The Anthem right away. Tuesday’s show was fantastic. They’re also writing music again, and their new single is one of their best.

Thursday Nina’s new middle school had an open house, so I got her early from camp and we both went. Friday Nina had a performance for the last hour of camp, so I picked up two of her friends she’d asked to attend and we watched the show, then everyone came back to our house to hang out. I’d gotten ramen for Nina and the friend that was still there, but only got 2 small poke tacos for myself. I took the girls to an ice cream social a friend had invited them to, then left for DC. I’d posted a poll the previous night that I could go to 1 of 2 concerts: Crack The Sky or Earth, Wind & Fire (opening for Lionel Richie, who is meh to me)

  1. Pros for Crack The Sky: local rock band, have friends who are superfans, free
  2. Cons for Crack The Sky: I know their one hit and that’s it, outside so rain would stop it
  3. Pros for Earth, Wind & Fire: I know most of their songs
  4. Cons for Earth, Wind & Fire: In DC during rush hour, not free

The overwhelming majority came down in favor of Earth, Wind & Fire, so that’s where I went. I didn’t have a ticket, and I thought the prices on StubHub would come down closer to showtime. I was wrong, so I bought a ticket from the box office and sat in my seat. I missed a song doing that, but I saw all the songs I wanted to see. After about 20 minutes of Lionel Richie, I was done – and hungry. When I found out that Taffer’s Tavern offered “cocktails on a stick”, I was in. I also had an order of onion rings and their PB and Rye – jelly donuts that you use a syringe to inject peanut butter rye whiskey into. Absolutely delicious.

Earth, Wind & Fire

Saturday the 19th Jill had breakfast with an old friend, then brought her over for a bit. We’d turned paperwork to foster a cat in June, but never heard back. We did it again the week before, but crickets again. So we went to the Fairfax County animal shelter on Sunday. We learned that the lady doing fostering was overwhelmed handling 3 jobs, and might take a while to get back to us. We also visited the cats. There was a playful calico cat that a couple was looking at, then a couple black kittens that had been categorized as “working cats” because they weren’t responding to socialization (they would work in a barn). Nina really wanted a black kitten, so one of the volunteers wrapped her up in a blanket and let Nina cuddle her. And neither of them moved for half an hour. So we filled out the paperwork and brought home Lillah (aka Cagney [& Lacey], aka Hiss [& Vinegar]).

Nina Lillah

That night was also a concert for me (of course). I’d raced home from the shelter and made dinner fast, as I didn’t want to miss a moment. I arrived in my seat at Wolf Trap just in time for Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Evening to take the stage. They played a great hour of Zep songs, but the most unexpected thing was the guitarist being a dead ringer for Jimmy Page (until he took his shades off). Next up was Gov’t Mule. Despite being a big fan of everything Warren Haynes does, this was my first time seeing the Mule. And after a fine first set, came the reason I couldn’t miss this show: Dark Side of the Mule, a second set of nothing but Pink Floyd covers. And a killer start as they opened with the first three songs from “Wish You Were Here”. I thought they might do the whole album, but no – into “The Dark Side of the Moon” they went. And with vocalists Machan Taylor & Sophia Ramos, plus favorite local saxophonist Ron Holloway, they really did it justice. I really anticipated them finishing Dark Side, but with two songs to go, they swerved into “Meddle”, playing my three favorite songs from that: “One Of These Days”, “Fearless” and “Echoes”. Jackie Greene joined them on the last song, then came out again with them for an encore of “Comfortably Numb”.

Gov't Mule

Monday was Nina’s 1st day of middle school. Lillah lived in Nina’s bathroom for a couple days, then graduated to her bedroom as she got friendlier. Jill said “Introducing Lillah! She’s an adorable, cuddly, mischievous kitten that has helped usher in some family bonding time and lots of conversation; both hard to come by sometimes with a 7th grader.”

Nina

Thursday I was back at Wolf Trap for Jethro Tull. Jill and I had seen Ian Anderson with the Filene Center Orchestra back in 2006, but it was their “Seven Decades Tour”, and I figured that would be fun. Instead, it was a lot of obscure and new songs, with only three songs I would consider hits. At least Ian Anderson was an entertaining frontman, but least favorite show of the summer. Nina had her first sleepover at another house with her friend Avery on Friday, and Avery’s parents had us over for takeout from Taco Zocalo.

Jethro Tull

Sunday the 27th we went to visit Dad and go to a concert at National Harbor. We had a late lunch at City Sliders in North Beach that was delicious (duck and lamb!) then timely enough I got to fix his laptop which started having problems on Thursday. Nina had a sore throat that morning but her Covid test was negative. As we were leaving, she started feeling worse, so with an hour to go I tried to sell my tickets at face value on the Ticketmaster app while they picked up stuff at CVS. Gotta love a super popular show, as the tickets sold 15 minutes later. I think I was the most bummed about not seeing Aespa, but Jill enjoyed being home early on a school night.

sunset

Speaking of school, Nina had a fever the next morning (it was a cold), so she was out. I worked and she had device time, until we realized the cat had vanished and we couldn’t find her. I brought Nina with me and got her some pho as I went to Autozone to pick up a thermal imaging camera, but still couldn’t find her. Later I was downstairs on the couch with Nina looking up sounds a mother cat would make. I played a couple, then we heard a plaintive meow from the direction of the laundry room. After moving lots of clutter around, we still couldn’t find her. Jill had the idea of getting canned tuna for her, and as we were playing more cat sounds with the lights off, Jill saw a shape on the thermal imaging camera. The cat had found the tuna and was happily munching away. The cat was cuddled and put back into Nina’s room, who went back to school the next day.

Nina

Wednesday the 30th Nina had a horseback riding lesson. She was hungry after school and had her dinner, and Jill got home later and wasn’t in the mood to eat quickly and go. So I’d already been making this tasty dish to go with leftover ribs and grilled chicken, and I made it into a picnic dinner we enjoyed at Frying Pan Park while Nina rode, then we walked around the park and got to enjoy the truly stunning sunset.

Lillah

July

Saturday the 1st we woke up in London, checked out of our hotel, and took the subway to King’s Cross, then walked over to Halfcup King’s Cross where we stood in line (only time we had to queue all vacation) for a very tasty brunch. It was Jill’s birthday, and she said this: “Today I am 44. I am so extremely grateful for the life I am living today. K, N, and I have been enjoying some much needed family time here in Europe. We had a lovely train journey from London to Paris via the Eurostar. We just enjoyed an amazing meal at Beitna; a charming Lebanese restaurant with incredible food – we all cleared our plates! We have a whole week here in a lovely suite to relax after a whirlwind 3 city tour of Glasgow, Edinburgh, and London; we’re excited to unpack and stay in one spot. Thank you to all for birthday wishes and looking forward to the next year ahead!”

Kerry Nina Jill

Sunday we had nothing planned, and subsequently did nothing. I slept in, then everyone went grocery shopping at Franprix and napped, got takeout from La Route des Indes and we went to sleep early. That was a good decision, as the notice we had from the Royal Regency Paris Vincennes where we were staying was that our balcony would not be available during our stay. What it actually meant was there was scaffolding all over the front of the building, and every day at 8AM the hammering would start.

Kerry Nina Jill

So with an early start to our Monday, we were off to see Tim Burton’s Labyrinth, with life size recreations of his characters plus original artwork. Next up was Sacre Couer (we took the funicular up), then we had lunch at the nearby Breizh and Nina found some boots at Maje, just down the street. Back to the subway again to go over to O’CD (used CDs and DVDs) and Lil Weasel yarn shop, except the yarn shop was closed that day, so Jill and Nina got a snack while I browsed. We stopped at FNAC on the way to the subway to get another charger (and a couple CDs) as the room didn’t have any USB ports as our previous hotels had. The two of them had plenty of leftovers for dinner; I got some sushi from Saga Sushi.

Kerry Nina Jill

Tuesday the 4th we took a train to get to Vernon and a shuttle bus to get to Giverny, home of Claude Monet. Sunday night we’d planned out our week, buying museum tickets and the like, and realized we had an extra day. We had been toying with Paris Disneyland, but didn’t seem to be a lot different than Disney World. Jill suggested going to Brussels, but it would have been too expensive because it was last minute. I had a guidebook to Paris and it mentioned day trips, and Jill was taken with the idea of visiting Giverny. We had timed entry tickets so we went in and went straight under the street to see Monet’s pond, then saw his garden and home. We had lunch at Brasserie des Artistes, next to the Musée des Impressionnismes (which was closed). With time to kill, we returned to Vernon (having read the shuttle buses fill quickly before train departures) and shopped. Hôtel du Nord ended up having a purse Nina liked, Cash Express was a pawn shop with Funko Pops and cheap CDs, and Barney’s Grooves had a nice CD single section. After we got back, we had pizza for dinner from Villa Capri.

Jill Nina Kerry

Wednesday we hadn’t planned on visiting the Arc de Triomphe, but we had to change from the subway to a bus there. Nina was more interested in the street dancing. Next it time for the iconic Eiffel Tower (only halfway), then Nina bought a selfie stick from a street vendor as the rain started. We had to walk for a while to get to the subway, then we did the overcrowded and hot Musée de l’illusion. Jill finally got to visit the Lil Weasel yarn shop while Nina and I got boba tea, then we spent some time at Ground Control where they had a bar and a nice selection of pinball machines. Jill wanted to visit a French restaurant for dinner, but they didn’t mess around with closing times at the one she wanted (wouldn’t let us order when they closed in 40 minutes), so we ended up at Brasserie 967 for a fancy dinner (I had a Brenne single malt whisky to start).

Jill Nina Kerry

Thursday we took the train and a bus to Versailles to visit the palace. It mostly went ok, but it got very crowded in some of the galleries and we sped up to get out. We also walked around the gardens for a while before leaving. We managed to just miss a train while going across Paris, and ended up sitting in a station for 20 minutes – our longest wait (and how great is Google Maps, showing which subway routes are fastest). We got to our destination of La Seine Musicale in the middle of the Seine, but we had a delicious dinner at Café Renaud before we crossed the river (great beef tartare). We got a little lost looking for Grande Seine (the venue), but if we hadn’t, we wouldn’t have discovered that La Seine Musicale is built into the hill like Terraset. Mavis Staples was great and so was Norah Jones, but I was so happy that Norah brought Mavis out to sing their song. Based on the time Norah had Mavis on her podcast, I thought she might bring her out again for an encore since Mavis hadn’t sung “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” or “I’ll Take You There” so we stayed until the bitter end. As we left, someone was putting on a display of drones. Jill wanted to get a taxi, but none were available, so we took the subway to the nearest taxi stand.

Norah Jones Mavis Staples

Friday the 7th it was museum day. We started with the Musée d’Orsay we’d loved so much on our last trip. Monet’s works in particular had a new meaning after our visit to his house. After we finished, we were taking the subway and a connection let us out near Notre Dame, so we got a picture. Nina was hungry and wanted crepes, so we found Le Minos nearby and ate upstairs in a charming space. Then we made it to La Bagagerie where Jill got a fancy bag. Unfortunately Nina took a tumble on the sidewalk just before we got there and skinned both knees, but happily La Bagagerie gave bandaged and supplies to clean. Next I wanted to go to Crocodisc, but the others didn’t, instead finding a Starbucks with blistering cold air conditioning and Wi-Fi (it was a very hot day).

Jill

Next we went to the Louvre. We were early and had talked about ice cream, so we walked over to Les Glaces to get some. Then we got in line and got into the museum, where we did not do the dash we did last time. Jill wanted a picture of herself knitting in a quiet room with a bench she’d read about, that proved harder to find than we thought at first. The crown jewels and the Mona Lisa were hits, of course. We found Pylones, a cool quirky shop after we exited through the underground. We went back to the hotel where I cooked up the rest of the food (with a little extra chicken and naan from La Route des Indes). We discovered Jill had the most steps of any day of our trip with over 25,000.

Nina Kerry Jill

We said goodbye to Vincennes as we took a taxi to the airport. We were glad for the early start as both the line to check bags and security were very long. Our plane was a little late taking off, and in Reykjavik we had to hustle through the airport to get to our plane on time. The flights themselves were pretty good, and we were arrived at Dulles right on time. A couple months earlier we’d applied for Global Entry, and it’s very hard to make appointments. But TSA had a simple solution: do the interview when you come back through the passport line. Luckily, it was literally only our flight coming through passports at that time, so it was a very quick process.
We got home and relaxed.

view

I’d seen there were still tickets available for emmet swimming that night at the Tally Ho Theater, so decided to just drive there and avoid service fees. That was a mistake, as they were sold out. I waited outside and was surprised no one came up with extras. Finally I thought about going to StubHub, and bought one and headed in. The show was a benefit for Andy Waldeck, so they had 3 bands with emmet going on last, doing a shorter set. That was good news for me, as I hadn’t been able to sleep on the plane and I was exhausted by the time they finished.

emmet swimming

Sunday I slept in but didn’t sleep great, felt like I was going to puke at one point. I’d had an upset stomach the night before and wrote it off to travel. I didn’t eat most of the day Sunday, but had a small dinner and felt better Monday. Sunday Nina started catsitting, then Monday started Girl Scouts Camp Summer Magic – Aides in Training. That was at Algonquin Park and was my longest commute of the summer. Happily one of her friends from Girl Scouts was there and we managed to do some carpooling. We also had to do some doctor appointments as she wouldn’t be able to the next three weeks. Speaking of medical issue, Jill managed to take her to one appointment Tuesday morning, then went down for the count, in bed the next two days with what turned out to be norovirus. We’d masked on the planes on the way to Europe, but as almost no one was masking over there, had let down our guard and didn’t mask on the flights back. That meant I was patient zero.

Nina

Sue and Dave came down on the train Thursday the 13th in time for Sue to join me at The Anthem Friday night to see First Aid Kit. She really loved them, and she asked about seeing them the previous year and I told her next time they toured, we’d go. Saturday we found out that Todd & Ryan Wright were playing at Summer Jams in Leesburg, the concert series formerly known as Acoustic on the Green. Nina wasn’t feeling great (she threw up on the way to her flute lesson that afternoon, but she has gotten carsick on that trip before so I didn’t think much of it), so Jill, Dave and I went. The rain came after hour causing the concert to end, but we would have left anyway, as Sue had taken Nina to Cold Stone and she threw up again.

Ryan & Todd Wright

Sue and Dave had asked for airline tickets to Florida as an early Christmas gift to see her aunt Kelley, but after Nina showed she got the norovirus as well, postponed their trip as they didn’t want to get Kelley or her boyfriend sick. Ironically, Kelley was happy about it, telling them they were crazy to want to visit Florida in August as she didn’t leave her house after 9am. Jill and Sue got in some garden visits while they were here.

Sue Jill

Nina had a second round of catsitting the next week, along with Road Rulz Camp, a different field trip every day. She did skip Monday, due to still feeling under the weather, but enjoyed the rest of the week. She said the illusion museum in Philly was her least favorite on so far, and she liked the pirate themed waterpark. Sue and Dave hung out, I took Dave fishing several nights on the boat.

Dave

I was not expecting metal watching reggae-jam band Dispatch performing with the National Symphony Orchestra Friday the 21st at Wolf Trap, but damn if the first encore song wasn’t “Crazy Train”. And they did it justice, too. Saturday Jill dropped Sue, Dave and Nina at Union Station to take the train to Connecticut as Nina would be staying with them and Jill’s sisters.

Dispatch

Sunday I posted “Don’t tell us we don’t know how to act when our daughter’s gone for the week. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy Saturday night at Reston Town Center (and you can walk around with their overpriced beers), then most of the day yesterday at Wolf Trap with Nickel Creek as we bought Celebrants Club passes and we had Encore Circle Lounge passes. We also got a chance to finally meet the lovely voiced Aoife O’Donovan after 18 years.”

Aoife O'Donovan Kerry Jill

The following week while Nina bounced between Massachusetts and Connecticut, Jill and I mostly had a quiet week and worked a lot. However, I’d bought a cheap ticket for Matt Nathanson (opening for Matchbox Twenty) at Jiffy Lube Live Thursday the 27th, then Jill got out of work early that day and also wanted to go. We tried out the I66 express lanes and got dinner at Wawa before going to the show. After Matt played, we found our friend Linda and talked to her between sets, then listened to Matchbox Twenty for about 30 minutes before leaving. They were better than expected (and I really liked this song), but…

Jill Kerry

We got up to hit the road at 4:30am Friday, and it was a pretty pleasant trip. We avoided NYC and stopped for lunch at a Sonic. We got to the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival around noon. Our friend AJ was the only one of Shantytowne camping on site this year, so we met up with her. After a grocery run to Stop & Shop in Litchfield (and stopped at Arethusa Farm for ice cream cones via a recommendation from our friend Chris), we tried to set up our tent and realized we only brought 3 of 7 poles, so tied and staked the tent’s rainfly on top of the popup shelter we also had. Jill got dinner from the vendors, while I had snacks we’d bought. First up was Richard Thompson. When we first came to the festival in 2003, we missed him by a day and Stuart always used to remind me of it. But he was great, breaking out all his classics and a Fairport Convention song. Next up was Joe Jencks, Lucy Kaplansky, Stephen Kellogg & Tracy Grammer, doing what we felt was the finest Summer’s Eve Song Swap ever (it doesn’t hurt that Lucy and Stephen are 2 of our must sees). Jill and I slept on our air mattress cot and anything exposed got bitten by mosquitos.

Jill

Saturday morning Jill took off to Robin’s house. AJ made breakfast and I gratefully combined some of her eggs with my sourdough and Swiss cheese. We went to the main stage at 11 to see Joe Jencks. I’d seen him there with his group Brother Sun, but I’d really enjoyed him on Friday and his solo set was nice too. I was back at camp for an hour, the went to the hot workshop stage for “Our Roots Are Showing” with Stephen Kellogg, Tracy Grammer & The Ebony Hillbillies. Stephen Kellogg played two songs and left soon after as he had a main stage set next, Tracy was good as usual and The Ebony Hillbillies were great. I’d seen Amy the night before, but Andrea, Jim and Nate showed up to hangout at the camp after that. We knew rain was in the forecast, but we got one of those classic Falcon Ridge storms around 5. Nate saw what was coming and left, but AJ and Jodi had returned and the 5 of us kept AJ’s shelter from blowing away as we huddled under it.

Joe Jencks, Lucy Kaplansky, Stephen Kellogg & Tracy Grammer

I could had survived another night at Falcon Ridge except for one thing – I only had one pair of shoes and they were drenched. I’d wanted to see Lucy Kaplansky and Tony Trischka’s EarlJam, but it just wasn’t worth it. Andrea and Jim offered to put me up for the night and I accepted, and they helped me pack everything up and lug it to their car. Once at their house, they ordered pizza for delivery and we sat on the couch while 3 of their 5 cats showed up and demanded attention.

cats

Sunday morning the 30th Jill picked me up in the morning and we stopped at a drugstore (in addition to flip flops, I’d also left my toiletry bag at home. When we got to Robin and Mike’s house, we put everything wet out in backyard to dry off. It sounded like Nina had a great week hanging out with her cousins. Soon after the McElroys and the Cannons came over. Josh and Finn hadn’t seen each other since they were babies and went off to play, and Nina and Penny hung out, then almost everyone went in the pool. Sharon ordered sandwiches from Hot Table for everyone, and we were planning a round of pizza later, but the Cannons had to leave as their oldest was having problems at home, and the McElroys left not too long after. Monday we didn’t have plans, and I said I wouldn’t mind seeing the Berkshires if Jill was serious about living in that area. Plus AJ had talked up The Clark and that sounded like a good outing. We drove up to the Clark and saw all their art, then drove over to Water Street Grill and had lunch. Then we went to Stockbridge where I shopped at 7 Arts and Jill and Nina shopped in the Stockbridge General Store.

Kerry Jill Nina

Also at the end of this month, If you read this article, you can help trans folks travel and gets the vote they need by donating here: https://www.pointofpride.org/donate. And on a lighter note, here’s a Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season 2 spoiler:

Spock T'Pring

June

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.

Nina

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.

Nina

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.

Remain in Light

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.

train

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).

Les Claypool's Fearless Flying Frog Brigade

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.

Nina

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.

Nina

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.

Nina teacher

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:

Frey 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!”

Patricia Nina

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.

Nina friends

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.

Iceland

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.

Nina Jill

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.

Jill Kerry

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.

Jill Kerry Nina

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.

Jill Nina

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).

Jill Kerry Nina

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.

Guns N' Roses

April

I always enjoy a tribute concert, like the ones BandHouse Gigs has been putting on for almost 20 years. The show on April 1st at the Barns At Wolf Trap celebrating Fountains of Wayne was truly special, with Todd Wright, Ryan Wright, Pat McGee, Naked Blue, and a host of other DMV musicians celebrating the songs of Adam Schlesinger & Chris Collingwood. While I was out, Nina had some friends over for ramen.

Ava

The next morning we were up and out on the road early, heading to Rochester to visit with my mom for the first half of Nina’s spring break. We visited the graves of Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony, then we had purchased tickets for a tour of the Susan B. Anthony Museum & House. I had no idea that Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony were friends and he would visit her there. We visited an Anime store and Nina found lots of things she liked, plus we picked up some stuff for her Easter basket. We had dinner at Mom’s house that night as she made her famous egg rolls.

Jill Nancy

Monday I wanted to visit the main Rochester library book sale, so we did that, then stopped at a vintage store where Mom found a new coat. We had scheduled the Starter Smash Package with iSmash Rochester for Nina and Logan – her youngest cousin (grandson of David). We wanted to hang out some more, so we went to Pittsford on the banks of the Erie Canal. We had Artisan Gelato & Espresso on the side of the canal, then I wanted some tea and everyone ended up at Neutral Ground Coffeehouse for drinks and snacks. We stopped at Record Archive so I could shop for some CDs, then had dinner at the “big house” (the main Cloverwood building).

Logan Nina

Tuesday the 4th we had brunch with Jeanne and her younger two boys and the newly christened The Great American Diner (formerly The Original Steve’s Diner), then met up again with Jeanne and her youngest at Flower City Arcade to play pinball and video games before they had an appointment. We returned to Cloverwood for a nice long walk with Mom and Cece before we had dinner at the “big house”.

Nina Logan

Wednesday we had breakfast with Mom before driving home. Thursday Nina had a doctor’s appointment with all her shots for middle school (and got pho for her troubles), then late that night Jill’s sister Robin and her son Finn flew into Dulles where Jill picked them up and brought them to our house. Friday we all drove over to the Reston Metro, parked, and got on the Silver Line headed downtown. Finn loves trains, so he was fine with the long ride. It was a short walk from the station exit to the National Museum of Natural History. Finn likes mummies, so we checked out the Eternal Life in Ancient Egypt exhibit, as well as the Hope Diamond. He needed a stop for a snack after that, then he indicated he was ready to leave, and we swung out through the Sant Ocean Hall (the Megalodon as you exit the dining area is pretty impressive). Everyone was ready to eat, and we walked over to Central Michel Richard for lunch. We weren’t the best dressed group there, but everyone waited patiently for their food. Later I took Nina and Finn to the Terraset playground to play.

Nina Finn Robin

Saturday the 8th we all drove over to Udvar-Hazy and checked out the planes. The space shuttle was a hit, as well as going up in the tower to watch the planes land at Dulles. I took Nina to her flute lesson in the afternoon (she didn’t want to miss it with her concert coming up soon). Jill and Robin took Nina and Finn to a trampoline park later.

Finn Nina Jill Robin

Sunday Nina and Finn opened their Easter baskets, then we all went to church. Afterwards there was a big Easter egg hunt, as well as the destruction of a giant chocolate bunny the church had gotten as a gift. Since John Oliver’s show that night was about HOAs, he made a bonus episode for people under 35 (because they can’t buy homes) about the history of Chuck E. Cheese. I think it’s one of his best.

Nina Kerry Jill

Thursday the 13th I went to see Great Lake Swimmers at Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. It’s not often I can go to a concert, come home and learn I need a haircut, but here we are (3rd row left on the aisle, flashing a peace sign 43 minutes in).

Friday Nina was invited to a friend’s birthday party at a pirate themed escape room, which of course meant dressing up like a pirate. Sunday we celebrated Dad’s birthday belatedly by going to his house and taking him out to Plaza Mexico. After we got back Nina had a Girl Scouts meetup at Kung Fu Tea. Monday I asked who needs Wordle? The Oatmeal has a new word game out!

Nina

Friday the 21st Nina’s friend Avery joined us for dinner as we ate at Big Buns. That Saturday and Sunday Jill was out both days studying for her license exam. So Saturday was an excellent day to take Nina to Fountainhead Park for an archery class. She’d liked it in summer camp, and I’d liked it back when I had summer camp, and it was fun to do it together (we did get a little competitive about target practice). Next we went to Springfield Town Center (aka Springfield Mall) where she liked shopping at Box Lunch for anime/manga merch, having Popeyes for lunch, and playing games and Dave & Busters. We stopped at Burke Nursery before her flute lesson so she could meet their cat and I could get some more plants (tomatoes, grapes and peppers), then I walked the nearby trail while she had a double length lesson.

Nina

We had been doing a family tradition where each person choose takeout on Friday night and an activity on Saturday night. Usually the activity was a movie or a game, but some time in January Nina had chosen the first two episodes of Demon Slayer. The next week, she asked if we could continue watching. Jill and I looked at each other, shrugged, and agreed. On that Saturday we were going to finish watching the first season and I wanted to do something special, so I made sugar cookies and Nina and I decorated them with Demon Slayer characters and logos.

Demon Slayer cookies

The spring concert for Terraset Orchestra, Terraset Band & Terraset Tiger Chorus was Tuesday the 25th and Nina was in the latter two. This one was held at Langston Hughes so there was plenty of seating room for once. Jill and I were scheduled to see Robbie Schaefer play and talk about his new movie on Thursday, but Nina hit her head during recess and felt drowsy after returning to class. The EMTs were called and so was I. They advised a trip to the ER and Jill requested Fairfax Hospital, so off I went to meet them there, Jill arriving not far behind me. Fortunately Nina had no concussion symptoms once there, and once she’d was cleared to go home and had no problems afterwards (except the whole no devices for 24 hours thing).

Nina

Saturday the 29th Nina had some testing in the morning. I met her and Jill at a nearby Qdoba, but they’d already finished eating, so I picked up a delicious avocado melt at Lil’ Cow Cafe Bistro on the way to her flute lesson. She had friends over in the afternoon for talent show practice. They had been getting together before school to rehearse, but they thought they needed extra time, so they hung out and we got them pizza.

geese

Sunday Nina was asked to join Avery for a Girl Scouts activity. Her mom agreed to watch both of them afterwards, which has awesome as I’d scored tickets for a matinee of Tina Fey & Amy Poehler at Constitution Hall. We went to Dupont Circle first and had brunch at The Admiral (neither of us could resist the French Toast with bourbon bacon butter). The opener Zarna Garg was pretty good, but Amy and Tina were incredible. My favorite part was them returning to their Weekend Update roles.

Tina Fey & Amy Poehler

February

Wednesday the 1st I had to buy some tickets, as I don’t make it to Richmond often, but I saw that in June that Talking Heads’ Jerry Harrison would be doing their “Remain in Light” with Adrian Belew and Les Claypool will be covering Pink Floyd’s “Animals”. Friday Nina, Jill and another Girl Scout ran a cookie booth in the bitter cold at Pupatella (I gave them hand warmers from my go bag). We got takeout from Bartaco for dinner.

Nina

Saturday Nina was with the Girl Scouts doing food sorting for a simple gesture. Sunday Nina did volleyball and had a Girl Scout meeting in the afternoon, so we moved going to the Anastasia musical from matinee to evening, with predictable up way too late results, but we enjoyed it nonetheless.

Nina

Saturday the 11th my mom’s husband David passed away peacefully. She had dated him in college, but they went their separate ways and got married and had families. But in 2015 with both of them single again, they met at the nursing home Mom worked at after he had back surgery. They married a year later and moved up to Rochester where his family was. We were sad to see her go, but happy to see love can happen again, no matter what age you are.

family

Sunday was the Super Bowl and I made possibly my best wings yet. We usually all watch the first half and the halftime show, but this time we couldn’t convince Nina to hang out and watch the commercials. Tuesday (Valentine’s Day), I was going to see Stephen Sanchez at the 450 capacity Union Stage when I saw he’d been covered by Blackpink’s Rosé. Apparently that is still not enough to make going to see him cool, according to Nina, who is a Blink (Blackpink fan). I still had fun, and I think he’s going to get famous fast. Plus they have some good beers there.

Jill

Friday the 17th I had bought tix for The Judds: The Final Tour for that night at EagleBank Arena in Fairfax on the chance that Brandi Carlile would join her. That date got Tanya Tucker (with Martina McBride as an opener). We weren’t really interested otherwise, and since I couldn’t give the tickets away at StubHub, so I did give them away for free on BuyNothing. Saturday was a big day, as we started early by getting to Katsucon when it opened. Nina has developed a powerful love of anime and manga, and she and 2 friends cosplayed as My Hero Acadamia characters. They got a picture with one of the voice actors, then we walked over to Mezeh to get some lunch. We stayed long enough in the afternoon for everyone to finish their shopping, then left. We had a babysitter for come over at 5, then left. I had decided to try Royal Nepal because it was nearby and we hadn’t tried Nepalese before. Jill realized we’d eaten there before when it was a Thai restaurant. It was a delicious meal, best meal so far after Little Pearl. Next we saw Matt Nathanson with Stephen Kellogg at the Birchmere, and our good friend Linda saved us some fantastic seats. Nina and her babysitter got takeout from Ariake for dinner.

Nina

Sunday afternoon we took Nina and some friends out again, this time to the Renegade to see another friend perform in Vienna School of Rock, and it turns out they’re in the “nu metal” group. And that resulted in me hearing a live cover of Tool for the first time and it was great. The food was once again very good as well. Monday Nina and I were off, so she choose mini golf outside. Only bad thing was she left her hoodie on a fence, but I was able to get in later in the week. She also asked for boba tea and pho for dinner.

Nina

Wednesday Connie, Jill’s father’s mother, and Nina’s great-grandmother, passed to be reunited with her beloved Gerry. Her memorial wouldn’t happen until May, but the memorial for my mom’s husband David was the next weekend, so on Friday I took the RIBS 2 bud from my house to the Wienie Metro station, then the Silver Line to Dulles for the first time. Remarkably easy, then I satisfied my craving for Five Guys (and beer at Firkin & Fox).

flowers

I had an uneventful flight to Rochester where Budget gave me a Kia Soul, and I was soon working through the hours long list of projects my mom needed done. We had dinner at the main Cloverwood building that she calls the “big house”, and I found out when I ask for a steak with no salt, that may not be what I get. Later I picked up Sharon from the airport. Saturday was the service, and David’s daughter Jeanne was there with her boys and some of David’s friends, including a college roommate. They served lunch at the VFW across the street from the funeral home, then Sharon and I went back to Mom’s where we spent the afternoon going through pictures. Jeanne joined us at the “big house” for dinner. Jill and Nina kept busy in my absence, meeting with Girl Scouts, going to flute lessons, and trying out a cat café.

Nina

Sunday Sharon and I went to church with Mom then had brunch with her at the “big house” before we drove to the airport and chatted before my flight boarded (hers took off an hour later). Jill and Nina picked me up at Dulles.

Nina

January

Sunday the 1st was New Year’s Day and we forced Nina to get outside as we walked around the lake and she rode her bike. Saturday we left Nina with pho from Teabreak and Phoebe, her new favorite babysitter (she lets her do TikTok) and went to Lorna and Dave’s in Herndon as they threw a party to celebrate their retirement. The genius was they hired a bartender and caterer so they didn’t have to do any of the work. Next, we went to the 9:30 Club where Everything was already on stage. We met up with my friend Norm, and enjoyed a fine show from emmet swimming. They brought Everything up to jam on their cover of “So Lonely”. We couldn’t hang out as we got home right before Phoebe needed to leave.

emmet swimming

Sunday the 8th Nina started a volleyball class after church, then Monday started a horseback riding class after school. Wednesday we all went over to Langston Hughes for the rising 7th Grade Curriculum Night and toured the school.

Nina

Friday the 13th we tempted our luck by heading to Mount Airy to our friends Laura and T’s house (who we’d shared a dinner table at the Eddie From Ohio cruise). They were hosting a house concert with Michael Clem and we enjoyed some great food and a great concert. Monday Nina and I were off for MLK day and we went shopping at Lotte Market and she got bubble tea. Then Nina managed to spend most of her Christmas money at 2nd and Charles (mostly on a box set of My Hero Academia books).

Jill Kerry Laura Michael Clem

Sue took the train down on Thursday the 19th. The next night and Saturday Nina was performing in Broadway Night at South Lakes High School, and we were told to only go once, so we all got takeout Friday night before she performed, then Jill and I volunteered Saturday afternoon before we all went to the show Saturday night.

Nina

Nina was off Thursday the 26th and the next day for the end of the school quarter. Nina, Jill and Sue went to a tea that day, then Friday night Sue took Nina to Glory Days Grill. Meanwhile, we went into DC and had dinner at Little Pearl. I didn’t realize it because I’d seen a menu on their website, but they did a tasting menu. After Jill got through the first course of steak tartare, she was pretty happy with the rest of it. We stayed at Hampton Inn & Suites in Navy Yard and did some bar crawling when we were done at Tap99 and Chicken + Whiskey.

Kerry Jill

Monday the 30th Wolf Trap announced their summer schedule, and was bummed as Brandi Carlile would host a new two day festival to start the season, and said “Dang it. We start summer vacation that day.”

Nina

November

Sue was still here on Tuesday the 1st so she, Jill and Nina walked around the lake. Saturday Jill, Nina and I all got our updated Covid vaccines. Monday I posted “Get that booster shot before it’s too late. And vote blue tomorrow.”

Nina

Friday the 11th Jill and Nina went camping with the Girl Scouts at Camp Coles Trip in Stafford. They painted the archery range while they were there, and according to Jill “Nina used a ton of patience and perseverance and found this sharks tooth after 30 min of looking”. Saturday night I went to Shirlington and ate at Taco and Piña. The food was good, but there weren’t many other customers when every other place was packed, mostly because they were out of half their menu. I only had a couple tacos, then went over to Big Buns for fries and a beer. Later I was just expecting a selection of covers as Robbie Schaefer and Danielle Wertz did Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell at Signature Theatre, but it was an actual show, and this review does it credit.

Nina

The next week featured two very different sold out concerts. First up on Monday the 14th was Blackpink, back at the Prudential Center in Jersey where I’d seen Iron Maiden (and the same section of seats). The K-pop dance show was in full effect, and we knew what to expect as it was always the same show. I was particularly amused by them thanking their band and their Pro Tools guy. I might not have been the target audience, but you can’t deny their earworms, and Nina had a great time. Driving up was the worst: we left at 2:15, and got there at 7:40. Driving back in the middle of the night was better, but we got back at 2:40am and I still had to get her to school by 9:20 the next day (luckily she fell asleep not long after we left around midnight).

Nina

I got back into jam bands this year, and saw that Goose and Billy Strings were two of the hot new ones. I was excited when Billy Strings was added to several of the Outlaw Music Festival shows, but saddened when ours was left out. So when I saw in October that Goose was touring with the Trey Anastasio Band and coming to Fairfax, I snagged a ticket for Thursday night. I anticipated some collaborations as both bands had been sitting in with the other all tour, so it wasn’t a surprise when Goose brought Trey Anastasio out for the end of their set. And when Trey announced a special guest that needed no introduction halfway through his set, I wasn’t surprised either. Until who I saw who it was: Billy Strings. And he stayed for the rest of the show, marking the first time he played with Goose. The jam band world had their heads blown by this (the top tier bands live stream their shows for $), and I really loved the show (even bought a shirt).

Friday the 18th Nina went on a ropes and zipline field trip that had been postponed due to rain on the previous night. As soon as she got home from school and Jill got home from work, I was driving to Jersey once again, this time for Friendsgiving. Tony had hosted from 2016-2019, and felt obligated to this year, but was unsure. Then Bill and Tassy had the wonderful idea to host a party the way Chris used to host his TinyTim parties, by renting a house at the beach during winter (and testing for Covid twice before we left). We got to Ocean City, NJ late at night, forced to get Wendy’s on the way.

Benji Nina

Saturday morning I slept in, then went shopping for food at Acme (finding yet another in the Safeway family) and alcohol (Ocean City is dry, had to go back across the bridge to Circle Liquor). I started cooking Orange Cranberry Pork Loin Roast, then some of us went for a walk and I stopped at Jilly’s Arcade on the way back to play some pinball. We managed to squeeze all 24 of us in the downstairs level for a fabulous potluck dinner, with an after dinner reading of the pickle story. After cleanup, Tony and I went out to play more pinball. Sunday we had a bit of breakfast, then a family picture on the beach before we packed up and headed home, picking up lunch at Wawa (one of the few fast food places where I can get a low sodium sandwich).

Friendsgiving

Tuesday the 22nd I took and passed the Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals exam. A week early, the long term contract I’d been working on ended and there were no available contracts, so I figured I’d start to get certified in some of the cloud computing I’d been working on. Late that night, Jill’s sister Melissa drove down with her two oldest kids. Wednesday we got Nando’s for takeout. Thanksgiving morning I got up early to put the 18 pound bird in the oven. Jill had already made her pies, Melissa had brought one from Ava, and when my dad arrived with Patricia, he brought 2 more for a total of 7. It was timely that the quilt Dad’s mom that we had finished had just arrived, so Jill was able to show him it. We ate around 2, and we had all the classics – everyone was happy. Dad wanted to leave before dark, so he had pie right away, but the rest of us spaced it out (I didn’t have pie until 7).

Bryce Jill Nina

Everyone but me went to the Walk of Lights at Meadowlark that night. Black Friday everyone was around, but off doing different things. The Bradys were shopping, Nina and Jill went to the parade in Reston and met one of her friends there, and I slept in. Saturday I took Nina to her flute lessons, and the Bradys left soon after we got back from that.

Nina Melissa Jill Maddy Jake

Tuesday the 29th the 3 Day Blinds people were here putting up the blinds on the middle level Jill wanted. That night I was at the 9:30 Club for NPR Music Celebrates 15 Years. I was also at the 10th anniversary, which had a great lineup. We got Amber Mark, Hurray for the Riff Raff and YENDRY, plus a surprise guest. I enjoyed the first three acts which all had a dance vibe. The surprise guest was Moonchild, who brought a jazz meets rock vibe, which was a nice way to end it.

NPR Music Celebrates 15 Years

Friday I was full of social media posts, as I got an unusual Wordle score:
Wordle 529 3/6
Then I found out about Christine McVie’s passing, saying “Dammit. RIP Christine McVie. I guess I know what I’m listening to tonight. The album she made with Lindsey Buckingham in 2017 was one of my favorite of the last decade – truly a Mac album (only Stevie Nicks is absent)”. And I also posted “Vax up and mask up, folks.” Nina also got her school picture taken this month as she was out in September.

Nina

October

On Saturday the 1st, we went to see a matinee of Hamilton, but headed straight home afterwards as Nina finally got to have her sleepover birthday party. It was very loud, Jill and I played pinball downstairs after she helped me install a cup holder. The next day Nina put up her Girl Scouts fall product page, and Jill posted “I’m very proud that N is a Girl Scout Cadette this year! They’re making big plans to go on lots of camping trips this year and start their Silver Award project journey this year! If you feel so inclined, please help her troop this fall!”

Nina

Thursday I went to see Bobby Weir & Wolf Bros featuring The Wolfpack perform with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center, an excellent integration of classical music with jam bands. That weekend Nina went camping with the Girl Scouts again, this time with an emphasis on caving. Jill and I took advantage and went to have dinner at Tail Up Goat on Saturday the 8th in DC. So delicious (and I loved the Decorative Gourd Season cocktail). Sunday I went shopping at CD Cellar, Dominion Wine & Beer, and Big Planet Comics. Monday was a holiday (Indigenous Peoples’ Day), Nina and I were off, so I let her choose a friend, and we went to Tea Break Pho & Boba, then played minigolf and went Halloween costume shopping.

Nina

With Nina gone for the weekend, the next weekend Jill was out. I found out that Owl House, Nina’s current favorite TV series, would premiere Saturday night, so I told her and she wanted to have a watch party with her friends. Too many of them already had plans, so we switched to Sunday night; Vonda, one of the moms, came over to co-host with me. Meanwhile Jill posted “Ahhh Rhinebeck. So fun, so many people I got to run into and to meet….so much. I can’t see myself going every year but I really loved spending time with my mom and one of my very best friends and her son. I didn’t go crazy with purchases but I got some nice things and I’m happy with what I purchased. The trees had they’re beautiful fall gowns on of leaves and they were stunning. Bonus I got to see my sisters as well as nieces and a nephew for lunch and dinner. My heart is full.”

Nina

Tuesday the 18th I hired Ecosteamobile to come over and detail my car – they did a great job. That night Jill took Nina to check out artistic swimming in Annandale. Wednesday I was back at the Kennedy Center, this time with the family, to see “Weird Al” Yankovic doing his non-parody songs again. Friday night Jill took Nina to the South Lakes Homecoming Parade. I usually had done it, but I was on my way to Philly for my weekend off. Traffic was terrible as expected, so as soon as I got to Tony and Charissa’s house we jumped in their car and drove to Newark. We got some dinner at Mercato Tomato Pie, then walked over to the Prudential Center where Within Temptation was already on stage. They were soon off and headliners Iron Maiden were soon on, performing all their hits. After the show we went back to their house where I slept in their guest room.

Nina

Saturday morning Charissa had to work, so Tony and I drove down to Delaware and had lunch at Dom’s NY Style Pizzeria. He had wanted to take me to the Delaware Pinball Collective while I was up there, but that day they were holding the First State Flippers pinball tournament and he convinced me to play with him. I hadn’t realized until we were discussing it the night before the tournament would run 4-5 hours. It was very anxiety inducing before it started, but pretty straightforward. For each round, I was assigned to a machine with 3 other players, and we’d play until all of us had played. During the 7 rounds, I played Tron, Rollergames, Godzilla, Space Shuttle, Star Wars, Flight 2000 & World Cup Soccer 94 (there were 43 available games to select from). Although we’d shown up an hour early to practice, during the tournament I performed much worse, happy to finish 57/60 (not dead last). Jill had posted “Happy Birthday to the guy I feel lucky enough to call my partner in life! You are a fantastic husband, father, and an awesome human being! N and I love you so much and looking forward to celebrating you this evening!”

Nina

So after another fun drive home (only 2 hours home from Delaware, but with traffic it took 3. When I got home, Nina and Jill took me out to Makers Union Pub in Reston for a tasty dinner, and we watched the Juliet Lloyd Trio perform inside while we sat outside next to a heater. Later we enjoyed the homemade carrot cake cupcakes Nina and Jill had made. Sunday night I went over to The Birchmere to see the Watkins Family Hour. No Fiona Apple this time, but they did have special guest Willie Watson from Old Crow Medicine Show. Wednesday Jill posted this picture and said “I still wear these socks! Much less vibrant now. Loved knitting the legwarmers out of my leftovers; it would take a bit more yarn to make them for N nowadays.”

Nina

Friday the 28th Sue flew down. Jill was out for a CRNA dinner so the rest of us got takeout from Tea Break Pho & Boba. I mentioned finally getting to Minibar in August, but originally we’d planned to invite friends to celebrate my 50th birthday. When we decided to do it this year, Jill had a good idea to separate Minibar and dinner with friends, and we ended up doing it that Saturday. Sue was down to babysit as other parents were only able to attend that way. It was so much fun to rent out the whole restaurant and have it all to ourselves. Jill said “this year we finally celebrated Kerry’s 50th birthday. Friends who are like family came from near and far to celebrate my amazing guy and to have an incredible meal at Maple Ave Restaurant. It was a perfect evening full of friendship, laughter, and community. My mom came as well to take care of the kiddos so we wouldn’t worry and got to experience her first Halloween with us!”

Nina

Sunday Sue shot pictures of Jill and Nina at Meadowlark. And yes, Nina got her Halloween on. She and a friend coordinated costumes from “Owl House”, and Jill and Sue walked with them in the rain. I handed out candy while I made dinner. Jill also said “I’m also writing to let you know I’m taking a much needed social media break; I’m not sure when I’ll be back but rest assured I’ll still be crafting and doing my best to cultivate and enjoy the community I am blessed to be a part of. I wish you Serenity.”

Nina