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Our year in photos – 2019

Brown family (credit: John Thorne)

As we enter this season of Thanksgiving, I continue my annual tradition of posting family photographs from the past year on More to Come. Despite all the turmoil in our country and throughout the world, so many of us still have much for which to be thankful in 2019.

Each December is a special time in our family, as we celebrate Andrew and Claire’s birthdays followed quickly by the holidays. Andrew did a bit of singing and celebrating with friends while in London, but both of the twins returned to Washington in late December 2018 during breaks in their school years. We were delighted to have everyone together again, if only for a few days, under one roof. The twins turned 26 last December, and less than two weeks later rolled off the family health care plan! I think that’s the new 21st century milestone for adulthood.

Andrew and Ella in London
Andrew and our family friend Ella Taranto celebrate the 2018 holiday season with Lessons and Carols at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London
Brown at Guapos
The Browns celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas in Washington…Mexican style!

As he pursues his Masters in Vocal Performance at the Royal College of Music (RCM) in London, Andrew has maintained a busy singing schedule. Early in 2019 he was in a RCM production of Offenbach’s opera Robinson Crusoe, and then he sang the role of the Evangelist in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion in Buckinghamshire. Andrew’s partner Mark Bailey traveled to the U.K. in the late winter/early spring, where he joined Andrew for some sightseeing.

Andrew in Robinson Crusoe
Andrew in his Act II costume for RCM’s production of Offenbach’s Robinson Crusoe
Andrew singing the Evangelist in Bach's St. Matthew Passion in Buckinghamshire
Andrew singing the Evangelist in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion in Buckinghamshire
Andrew and Mark
Andrew and his partner Mark in Hampstead Heath

This was a year of milestones, perhaps most notably my departure after 22 years at the National Trust for Historic Preservation and my semi-retirement into a gap year. It was bittersweet, after more than two decades with the Trust and 40 years in the preservation field, but I felt it was time to step aside for others. My Trust colleagues gave me a great send-off, complete with a chance to play some live bluegrass! It was already too late to follow the amateur musician’s admonition to “not give up your day job,” so I just let it rip—singing that old bluegrass chestnut “I’m Sitting On Top of the World”—and had a fantastic time.

By-and-By Band
Playing Bluegrass with the By-and-By Band. DJB is the one in the jacket!

April, May and June were months of travel for the Brown family, beginning with Candice’s visit to Savannah in April to be with the “Hollywood Gang,” a group of friends from her grade-school days in Hollywood, Florida. In May, I was privileged to attend a two-week tour of Japan on behalf of the National Trust. It was my first trip to Asia, and the experiences were as exhilarating as they were diverse.

Hollywood Gang
Candice with members of the “Hollywood Gang” – friends from grade school days – in Savannah for their annual gathering in 2019
A child of the drum
A child of the drum: David learns the art of traditional Japanese drumming (photo credit: Melissa Blunt)

Candice and I then met up on the west coast to celebrate Claire’s graduation, with her Masters in Social Work, from the University of California at Berkeley. We loved our three days together where we could congratulate Claire on this milestone in her life.

CLaire graduation
Our wonderful Claire, now with her MSW degree from the University of California, Berkeley

To keep up the whirlwind pace, the three Browns boarded a plane for London, to connect with Andrew and spend almost three weeks in the United Kingdom. We had a chance to hear Andrew sing twice—once in Mozart’s Così Fan Tutte and then a few days later for his first-year RCM recital. We also used the time to explore and play, including a High Tea to celebrate Mother’s Day and Candice’s birthday.

Cosi Fan Tutte
Don Alfonso, Guglielmo and Ferrando (l-to-r) – in a 1950s setting of Cosi Fan Tutte – plot to test the faithfulness of their fiancés.
High Tea in London
Celebrating Mom/Candice at High Tea in London

Our explorations took us not only to London, but to the Cotswolds and Hampshire. We were in the U.K. during the 75th anniversary of D-Day, which was celebrated in cities, towns, and villages throughout the country. We also used the time to visit with friends, be guests at a wonderful Emmanuel College High Table, connect with National Trust colleagues in the U.K., and take in our second opera of the trip at The Grange Festival. A wonderful time was had by all.

Britain remembers flag
Britain remembers its fallen troops on the 75th anniversary of D-Day: one of many flags along the streets in the Cotswolds town of Moreton-in-Marsh
DJB and CCB in Cotswolds
The photographer (ahem, Andrew) enjoyed the juxtaposition of the signs and people here as we set off for a ramble in the Cotswolds
Cotswolds Ramble
Candice and Andrew on one of our Cotswolds rambles
Emmanuel College High Table
The Emmanuel College dining hall, set for High Table
Dinner at The Grange
Dinner at The Grange in Hampshire with Catherine Leonard and Ben Wright

Life returned to our new normal in mid-June, as Candice and I settled into my gap year in Washington; Claire and her partner Blair Kittle adjusted to Claire’s first full-time job, as a therapist in an Oakland public middle school, by acquiring a new member of the family; and Andrew traveled and sang in wonderful venues around the U.S. and Europe.

Chai – Claire and Blair’s Siberian Forest cat and the newest member of our family. His name is short for Tchaikovsky, since his ancestors are from Russia.
Pomona classmates at Susan's wedding
Claire joins the Pomona College bridesmaids (and one bridesman) at classmate Susan Nussbaum’s summer wedding to Ryan Dodson.
Blair and Claire at summer wedding
Tis the season for weddings, as Blair and Claire celebrate with friends.
Milton Abbey, where Andrew sang the St. John Passion with Academy of Ancient Music and Voces8
Milton Abbey, where Andrew sang the St. John Passion with Academy of Ancient Music and Voces8
Andrew in the gardens around Glyndebourne before seeing Handel's Rinaldo
Andrew in the gardens around Glyndebourne before seeing Handel’s Rinaldo
Andrew and Ana (a soprano at RCM) in Châteauneuf-de-Grasse, France
Andrew and Ana (a soprano at RCM) in Châteauneuf-de-Grasse, France

And then October arrived…and have you heard that the Washington National’s are World Series Champions!?! It was a great month of baseball, capped by my first trip to a World Series game. The Nats had a magical run that brought the entire city together, and we enjoyed every minute of it. I was pretty thankful that I didn’t have to get up and go to work the morning after each big Nationals game. What a way to spend a gap year!

View from my World Series seat
View from my seat at Game 3 of the 2019 World Series. Note the pencil behind my ear…yes, of course I scored the biggest game of my life!
Celebrating our World Series Champion Washington Nationals at DC’s parade: DJB with Candice and her Baby Shark decal
And Now We Dance
And Now We Dance
Claire and Blair
Claire and Blair at a Mondovi event this fall

November brought us back to California, as we came to support Claire’s first run in a half marathon. She did a great job, and we were so glad we could be there and cheer her on. It was a beautiful weekend, with time spent not only at the race, but with Claire, Blair, and Blair’s parents, Tracy and Logan, over a wine tasting. Very California!

Claire runs through Cal campus
Claire runs through the Cal campus as part of the Berkeley Half Marathon
Satisfaction and relief
A great sense of satisfaction
Celebrating with Blair
Celebrating with Blair
The Browns (photo credit: John Thorne)
The Browns (photo credit: John Thorne)

Our family continues to be blessed, and for that we are incredibly thankful. We remain grateful for each of you and the friendships we share. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

More to come…

Top photo: The Browns – Together in December 2018 and looking forward to the year ahead! (photo credit: John Thorne)


I am David J. Brown (hence the DJB) and I originally created this personal blog more than ten years ago as a way to capture photos and memories from a family vacation. After the trip was over I simply continued writing. Over the years the blog has changed to have a more definite focus aligned with my interest in places that matter, reading well, roots music, and more. My professional background is as a national nonprofit leader with a four-decade record of growing and strengthening organizations at local, state, and national levels. This work has been driven by my passion for connecting people in thriving, sustainable, and vibrant communities.


  1. Tracy Quinn says

    David –
    What a year! Loved seeing your 2019 adventures.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and Candice.

  2. Thanks, Tracy. Yes, it has been a strange 12 months. Hope you are well. Happy Thanksgiving! DJB

  3. David and Candice–What an excellent year. Great to hear what everyone is up to with accompanying photos. Love to the family. Thanks for staying connected.
    xo Lise

    • Thanks, Lise. Happy Thanksgiving to you and Davis. Let’s get together over a meal soon. All the best,

    • Thanks for writing Chris. It means so much to all of us. As you can see from the photos, everyone’s doing well and thriving. Happy Thanksgiving and love to you and your family from all the Browns. DJB

  4. Melissa Blunt says

    LOVE seeing your family and all your doings this year, and tickled to see your utter joy in the drumming pic! And, cool to hear Andrew sang with Voces8–Missoula is trying to get them to come here next summer. Thanks for sharing DJB!

    • Melissa – great to hear from you and thanks for writing! Yes, so many people have commented this year about the joy you captured as I was drumming away! I do hope you get a chance to hear VOCES8. Candice and I saw them perform in DC early this year and they are amazing. Andrew got to know them during his first year in London, and they asked him to be one of their “scholars.” He loved soloing with them and the Academy of Ancient Music (another big deal) this past summer at the festival, and he would like to do more this year. Hope you have some fun travel lined up. Japan was magical. Happy Thanksgiving, and all the best. DJB

  5. Jane Feddersen says

    Happy Thanksgiving to you all!
    I flipped through your ‘year in pictures ‘ and noticed a reunion of the ‘Hollywood gang.’
    I’ve been wondering about, Andy Banker, Paul Serano, and the others. Were any in that photo?
    Have a beautiful Christmas and a Happy New Year!
    Best regards,

    • Jane, Thanks for the note. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours as well. Candice tells me that Paul Serano is the 4th person from the left in the picture of the Hollywood Gang. She says Andy Banker hasn’t come to one of the weekends, although they mention him each year. Have a great December – we love living your island life vicariously through your FB posts! All the best, DJB

  6. Anne Lee Gravely says

    What great photos of an always-wonderful family.
    Merry Christmas to all of you.
    Anne Carter

    • Thanks, Anne Carter. I hope this finds you well. Best wishes for the holiday season to you! DJB

  7. Pingback: Top Ten Posts of 2019 | More to Come...

  8. Tom Cassidy says

    WOW! So glad to be a part of some of these things and informed enough to be amazed!!
    Be safe in this time of strangeness – friends and family will comfort, sustain and preserve us.

    • DJB says

      Thanks, Tom. I’m glad you saw these. Joy sent me the nicest note recently with a James River coin. Please tell her I received it, but have been remiss in my thank you note! Hope you and the family are doing well.

  9. Pingback: Our year in photos – 2020 | More to Come...

  10. Pingback: Our year in photos – 2020 | More to Come...

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