Month: July 2013

In Celebration of Elizabeth

(I don’t often use More to Come… for work-related posts, but last Friday evening at the National Trust we celebrated the retirement of a dear friend – Elizabeth McClung – and I wanted to share my admiration for this stalwart of preservation.  I was privileged to speak at Elizabeth’s retirement celebration.  The following are my remarks.) Leadership comes in many forms.  We all know of the alpha male, Type A personalities who are celebrated as leaders on Wall Street and in the halls of Congress.  These are the types who bark out orders and expect others to follow. These are the “born leaders” – or so they say. But there is another type of leadership that is – to my mind – much more effective.  It generally comes from people who learn to be leaders, rather than assume they know it all from birth.  I put more stock in these types of leaders in part because I am reminded of the tale of a group of tourists visiting a picturesque village not unlike nearby Strasburg.  …

Summer Reading 2013: Part 1

It is that time of year again, dear readers, where I have finished a couple of books on my summer reading list and pass along thoughts and recommendations. First up is the best natural history/science book I’ve read in years.  Now that’s a low bar, because I don’t usually read natural history/science books.  But in this case, with the reviews in, my reading habits don’t really matter as others use the same accolades. A colleague, who also happens to be an alumnus of The University of the South,  recommended Sewanee professor David George Haskell’s The Forest Unseen:  A Year’s Watch in Nature. Ever since I finished the book I’ve been meaning to thank George for the suggestion.  This is a gem of a little book. Haskell’s work is a meditation of a year’s worth of observation on a small patch of old growth forest near Sewanee in Tennessee.  Several reviewers commented that the book is both very modern and very old-fashioned, and I had the same reactions.  As a modern-trained biologist, Haskell’s knowledge of science touches …

Red Wing Swings

The sun broke through on Day 2 of the inaugural Red Wing Roots Music Festival just as John Jorgenson hit the stage. Somewhere, Django Reinhardt was smiling. Jorgenson’s quintet – channeling the Hot Club of France – displayed an amazing level of musicianship while having a great time in the process as one of the headliners at the Shenandoah Valley’s first Red Wing Roots Music Festival.  Now some may ask how jazz fits into the Americana roots music pantheon, but the European string jazz of Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli from the 1930s had a direct and transformative impact on roots musicians from David Grisman, to Saturday evening’s headliner Sam Bush, to fiddler extraordinaire Mark O’Connor, to mandolin phenom Chris Thile. Jorgenson’s quintet got to show their chops on Mediterranean Blues, a song written by a Vietnamese-born composer who grew up in England and now lives in Amsterdam.  Every solo was inventive and exhilarating – which is just as true about the songs in Jorgenson’s entire set. Saturday’s music began for us with Staunton native Nathan …

Red Wing Takes Flight

Well, that certainly was a promising start. Day 1 of the 1st Annual Red Wing Roots Music Festival promised a talented and spirited mix of the roots and branches of American music.  And in spite of gloomy skies and the occasional (and thankfully brief) rain shower, this brand new festival – located deep in the heart of the beautiful Shenandoah Valley – pretty much delivered. The festival is the brainchild of an energetic, talented, and amazingly entrepreneurial (for a bunch of roots music players) band The Steel Wheels, fronted by one of the great voices in Americana music, Trent Wagler.  Candice and I arrived back in our old Valley stomping grounds (we lived for 15 years in nearby Staunton, Virginia) after the soggy drive down from Washington just in time to walk in on the 4 p.m. set of the hosts under the tent at the Carolina Old Time Family Stage.  And given the weather, could The Steel Wheels really begin this festival with any song other than their iconic Rain in the Valley? This was …

How College Students Can Lead to a Wonderful Holiday Weekend

When a colleague asked about our plans for the upcoming holiday weekend, I told her that Andrew and Claire each had friends from college who were in town and would be staying with us.  I assumed our role was “To stay out of the way.” Thankfully, I was wrong.  Jason, Jordi, Jackie, Kelsey, Claire, and Andrew were delightful guests and hosts, sharing some of their time with us and also giving Candice and me the space to enjoy our weekend with each other. We began with our “traditional” July 4th celebrations – and all the twins’ friends joined us (rather enthusiastically, I think).  While the Takoma Park July 4th parade didn’t have quite the pizzazz of a presidential year (I miss the “Mutts for Mitt” floats with dog puppets on top of cars and there wasn’t anything to reach the level of last year’s “precision grill team”), we still had a great time laughing at the floats and enjoying the world music you always hear at our little slice of Haight-Ashbury here in DC.  Afterwards, …