Best Of..., Family, Heritage Travel, Monday Musings, Random DJB Thoughts
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Our year in photos – 2021

During this season of Thanksgiving, when so many are thinking of the love of family and friends, I continue my annual tradition of posting family photographs on More to Come. This practice began back in 2008* but has grown through the years so that the entire family now participates in the creation and curation of this particular entry.

Last year at this time we were in the middle of quarantine during a worldwide pandemic. Many were anxious and separated. Instead of our usual trip to the Shenandoah Valley for the Thanksgiving holiday, we had Andrew and his partner Mark Bailey — both in our quarantine bubble — over for a succulent meal at home.

While we decorated as if it were a normal year, Christmas 2020 was anything but. The tree was up and presents were scattered around, but we were missing Claire and unable to travel to see families far away. It was bittersweet.

Ready for Christmas Eve
A new fruit juicer was under the tree for Candice!

As an essential worker teaching in a school, Claire was the first in the family to get the Covid vaccine in 2021. We all soon followed, so that by the time Andrew completed his shots early in April we felt a great sense of personal relief. With those jabs, traveling felt a bit safer and Claire came to visit over Easter, the first gathering of the four of us in quite some time.

We got the jabs (and we’ve had the booster)!
An Easter toast…the first time all the family had been together in many months
An Easter Monday hike at Brookside Gardens with Andrew and Claire

May brought even more gatherings and celebrations. Andrew and David took Candice out for Mother’s Day, and approximately a week later we were at the National Cathedral to see the Les Colombes art installation. It was stunning and a piece of inspiration in tough times.

Les Colombes at the Washington National Cathedra

At the end of the month, we celebrated Candice’s significant birthday with a coast-to-coast Zoom party. Best wishes arrived via Boombox from friends and family around the world. Claire and Blair looked in from California, while Andrew and David did the local hosting honors. It was great fun as Candice read the notes and looked through the pictures people sent or that we had prepared. Several days later we were thrilled when our long-time friend Bizzy Lane stopped by for a visit and helped extend the celebration.

Celebrating a significant birthday via Boombox, with Claire and Blair joining in from California
We had a great time pulling together pictures and stories from Candice’s life for her Boombox gift, such as this collection of photos from our 2016 sabbatical in Italy.
Enjoying a lobster feast on the deck with our dear friend Bizzy Lane

June brought Father’s Day, which Andrew joined us in celebrating in person this year.

The Brown family beards…2021 style
David enjoys a Fathers’ Day Weekend burger

In June, Andrew was honored to sing a solo at the Washington National Cathedral for the funeral of U.S. Senator John Warner, accompanied by the U.S. Marine Corps Chamber orchestra. It was sublime.

Into the summer and early fall we all began to feel more comfortable going out for drinks, meals with friends (usually outside), birthday celebrations, baseball games, weddings, and — in Claire’s case — road trips!

Venturing out to our favorite spot for drinks and oysters – Republic in Takoma Park
Claire and Ella Taranto on their west coast road trip (Ella made last year’s pictures with Andrew in London!)
Claire, with her Episcopal Urban Intern friends Caroline and Graycie during a Tennessee trip to Monteagle
Hiking at Monteagle with Edgar and Graycie
Celebrating Mark’s birthday at our new favorite Baltimore restaurant, Charleston
Even in the midst of a losing season when the team traded off most of its stars, David still found reasons to go watch the Nationals…such as picture-perfect days in September, when he can take in a day game!
Blair and Claire in Colorado, attending a friend’s wedding
Claire relaxing with a Colorado IPA
Chai waits at a friend’s house for Claire and Blair to return from their travels
While Candice was in Florida and Andrew and Mark were moving from Baltimore to DC, Flour came to keep David company. Here she patiently waits for her morning walk until he finishes his morning stretch.

Candice traveled to Florida in September to join family in celebrating her mother’s 90th birthday. The rest of us joined in by Zoom on the special day.

A birthday meal for mom, with (r to l) Andy’s wife Robin, Candice’s brother Adam, and Adam’s partner Janice
90th birthday wishes from near and far!

When you live in Washington, you can bump into folks you don’t expect. Following an Evensong at the Cathedral, we were stopped by David’s cousin Brian Rose and his family for an impromptu visit. As we exited, we also saw our long-time friend Mariah, from our Franklin Knolls pool days, who was in the neighborhood. Washington is really a small town.

Bumping into David’s cousin Brian Rose (third from r), his wife Kelly (r), daughter Marcy (center), and son Matthew (second from r) at the Washington National Cathedral after a serendipitous visit following an Evensong
Andrew meets up with Mariah, our long-time Franklin Knolls pool friend, outside the Cathedral

Because we were unable to all gather in May for Candice’s birthday, we pushed the full celebration back to October for a long weekend at Mohonk Mountain House, one of our favorite places on earth.

Birthday desserts at Mohonk Mountain house with (l to r) Blair Kittle, Claire, Candice, Mark Bailey, Andrew, and DJB
Claire and Blair in Mohonk Mountain House
Andrew coming up the rock scramble…
…followed by Claire and Blair
Everyone celebrates at the top. (DJB and CCB did not join in the “fun”)
Mark and Andrew take a paddle boat out for a spin on Lake Mohonk

Two weeks later, Candice and David were in Asheville where David was serving as the educational expert for a National Trust Tour.

At the Grove Park Inn during a National Trust Tours visit to Asheville
Touring the Biltmore Estate in Asheville on a beautiful October morning
David at the top of a windy and cool Craggy Pinnacle overlook shortly after sunrise
Craggy Pinnacle along the Blue Ridge Drive, part of our visit to Asheville with National Trust Tours
Exploring the Grove Arcade and other wonderful Asheville architecture was a real treat

With the coming of fall, thoughts turned to ghosts and goblins. As was the case last year, our townhouse community hosted a backdoor parade so the children could trick-or-treat together safely and residents wouldn’t worry about opening their front doors to unmasked visitors.

Candice provides Halloween treats to the children in our townhouse community

Silver Spring is one of the most diverse cities in America, and when you attend the annual Thanksgiving parade — as we did last Saturday — all the beauty and joy of that diversity comes through. We are thankful to live in a community where we can learn from and celebrate so many different perspectives and cultures.

Candice and David at the 2021 Thanksgiving Parade

We remain grateful for each of you and the friendships we share. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

More to come…

DJB

The family through the years: one of the “Boombox” collages we prepared for Candice’s significant birthday

*For previous year’s posts, click here for: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008.

Image at top: We gather over a fabulous dinner to celebrate Candice’s big day at Mohonk Mountain House in October.

Photos by Andrew Brown, Blair Kittle, Claire Brown, Candice Brown, DJB, and Mark Bailey.

by

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.

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