Month: June 2009

Exploring the Empty Nester Life

Quick test:  What do leisurely strolls through Politics & Prose bookstore, dinner in Adams Morgan, two days in a row working out together at the gym, almost no time spent in the car, naps, no early Saturday morning swim meet, dim sum, and a racing President all have in common? Answer:  Things we do when Andrew and Claire are out of town. Friday afternoon we put Andrew and Claire on a plane with a group of teenagers from church and their chaperons for a week-long pilgrimage to Northern Ireland.  (I think my high school church group went to Opryland for our pilgrimage!)  While we’re not eager to see the empty nest years arrive, this was the first extended time when Candice and I were here and the children were elsewhere.  We weren’t sure how we’d react, but we’ve taken to it nicely. After that stroll through our favorite bookstore (Candice picked up an Alice Waters cookbook while I bought the new Richard Wolffe book Renegade on Obama’s candidacy), we went to a Mexican restaurant in …

Five in a Row Too Much to Ask of Nats

After an amazing streak where the Nats won four in a row from the big bad American League East – including a shutout against the Yankees and two walk-off wins in extra innings against the Blue Jays – they reverted to form today in losing 9-4 in front of a Father’s Day crowd that included the Browns.  Yes, Andrew and Claire sprung for Nat’s tickets for the old man (well, there’s more to the story which I’ll get to in a moment) and we all went for a day of baseball and fried food at Nationals Park. Even the Nats reverting to their old ways of bad starting pitching, bad relief pitching, and untimely disappearances at key moments by the team’s 3-4-5 hitters couldn’t put a damper on a very nice Father’s Day weekend. I saw my “celebration” of Father’s Day actually beginning on Friday, when Andrew did some community service work at the Whitman-Walker AIDS clinic and then met up with Claire for time with friends.   I picked them up on Friday evening and …

Bluegrass Nights at the Ryman

Next week begins the summer Bluegrass Nights at the Ryman series at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium.  Known as the Mother Church of Country Music and the home of the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 through 1974, the Ryman bills this series with the line, “Experience the best in bluegrass on the very stage where bluegrass was born over 60 years ago.”  That would be the evening where Earl Scruggs stepped on stage with Bill Monroe.  Here’s how Richard D. Smith describes that night in Can’t You Hear Me Callin’:  The Life of Bill Monroe: For Earl’s first night on the Opry, Monroe picked out a fast number that would show off the newcomer’s dazzling style – “White House Blues,” an old song recounting the 1901 William McKinley assassination.  It was a perfect selection.  Scruggs stepped up to the microphone with apprehension, knowing that nothing like this had been heard to date on the Opry or even over WSM radio. Use to the banjo as a country comedian’s prop, or hearing it picked or strummed in …

Wooden Bats and Summer Nights

One of our joys of summer is watching and supporting college wooden bat baseball.  This is baseball for college players to help them learn to hit with wooden bats after years of hitting with aluminum bats.  (Don’t you just hate the “ping” of the aluminum bat on ball?) We’re lucky to have one of the top wooden bat leagues in the country here in the DC area – the Cal Ripken Sr. Collegiate Baseball League – with two teams within easy driving distance.  We’ve had season passes to the Bethesda Big Train for a number of years and we also catch some games of the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts. Candice helped organize a special event for her employer – Christ Episcopal School Night – at the Bethesda Big Train game on Friday.  It was great fun.  Some 80 CES parents, staff, and students came out as part of a 700+ crowd on a beautiful summer night to see the Big Train absolutely crush the Alexandria Aces.  When we left after 7 (we had children to collect), …

Kate Wolf Albums to be Reissued

California singer-songerwriter Kate Wolf died of leukemia at the age of 44 in 1986, but her songs continue to live on today. Dirty Linen, the folk music website, had a recent post reporting that Wolf’s catalog of folk albums will be reissued this July.  Here’s how Dirty Linen describes Wolf’s work and influence: Her blend of folk, country and pop helped pave the way for artists like Nanci Griffith and Mary-Chapin Carpenter. Wolf never had a hit single, and in fact the All Music Guide points out that “her style is one that tends to grow on listeners over time, as Wolf is not about flash. Her songs, characterized by a strong narrative thread, are about the ebbs and flows of adult life, in terms that are neither overly sentimental not mundane.” As late singer-songwriter Utah Phillips once introduced her, “I’d like you to meet Kate Wolf. She owns herself.” For those of you in California, check out the 2009 Kate Wolf Memorial Festival on June 26-28.  There’s a strong line-up headlined by Emmylou Harris, …

9:45:00 GMT

Andrew wrote the following essay for an English class and it was accepted for the literary magazine at his high school.  So – from today’s guest blogger Andrew Brown – I’m proud to present 9:45:00 GMT. * * * * * Today’s society uses time as its matrix. Everything we do commences at time x and concludes at time y. Every person who wants to live in our urban environment needs some way to tell time if they wish to function properly in our world, whether by wristwatch, cell phone, or computer. We use time as the basis for everything we do. My day begins at 5:45 every morning, classes begin at 8:00; lunch is at 1:30 p.m., and sports begin at 3:30; I arrive at home anywhere from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., depending on what I do after school. I eat dinner, finish my homework, and go to bed any time from 9:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. This schedule has become more than a routine: now it’s more a state of existence. I first …

Tiger Stadium Going, Going…

Yet another baseball icon may soon be history.  The City of Detroit began demolition yesterday on the last remaining – and most historic – parts of Tiger Stadium.  This in spite of the fact that the city had agreed to maintain the stadium until an appropriate adaptive reuse of the stadium or a viable new use of the site was in place.   Neither has happened.  With the city’s commencement of demolition, Detroit is moving towards having yet another vacant piece of land with no plans for redevelopment in place. A court injunction is in place this weekend, stopping the demolition for a short time.  To read the story – and find out how you can contact the City Council and Mayor’s Office in Detroit to oppose the demolition plans – visit PreservationNation’s blog. Tiger Stadium was built in the same year as Fenway Park.  While Boston figured out how to save its iconic ballpark and make it one of the most beloved places in America (except to Yankee fans), Detroit went with the allure of …