I think I must have had about 5 birthday events this year. It was a big one, but I would never have expected all this hoopla. It started with the Flashback! party at the O Street Mansion (see previous post) and then continued through Sunday, July 12th, my actual date of birth.
In the middle of the week I received a package of hugs and kisses, wrapped in 60 $1 bills from my mom and dad (see previous post). It still chokes me up…
On Friday Yolanda bought tickets to Pink Martini at Wolf Trap and we were joined by our buddies, Marianne and Jeff, who brought along a picnic. I was thrilled that Gavin Bondy, the long-time, bad-ass trumpet player in the band, was able to meet us before the show and catch up about old times. We played together with the MIchael Kissinger Band in Vancouver, WA in the late 1990s.
Who is that goofy-looking guy?
The band was HOT, as usual – a real crowd-pleaser. They played music from around the globe and audience members were encouraged to come up to dance on stage. There was a special guest appearance of Ari Shapiro, the new host of NPR’s “All Things Considered” who is a crooner in his own right.
That evening Yolanda gave me an envelope with an itinerary for my birthday weekend. We packed a bag and drove West to the countryside to stay at the White Moose Inn in Washington, Virginia, home of the famous restaurant, the Inn at LIttle Washington.
The Inn is beautiful; it’s a mix of sleek, modern taste within a well-kept historic building.
The highlight was dinner at the Inn at Little Washington. It’s really a complex of buildings with a restaurant, gift shop, flower and vegetable gardens, farm yards (chickens, sheep, llamas) and guest rooms, all within a tiny village of about 5 blocks.
We had some awesome food that seemed to go on for hours (actually, it did), with one exotic dish after another.
In the midst of this serious food, you can find a sense of humor, as presented by the cheese cow, wheeled around by the “Cheese Wiz” who has a pin on his jacket noting his certifiable expertise in the cheese subject. Moooooo!
On Sunday, my birthday, we took a walk around town, visited the barnyard, and then headed over the hills to Sperryville. In Sperryville we stopped into Haley Fine Art, which turned out to be a first-rate art gallery which included two works by our friend, Craig McPherson.
Moving from sublime to kitsch, we drove over the mountain across Skyline Drive to Luray Caverns. You have all been to these kinds of places, a product of the 1960s. While the place is an amazing example of mother nature doing her thing, her children can’t help but turn it into a tourist trap, complete with gift shops full of useless trinkets.
Pretty crazy and quite beautiful, if you can separate yourself from the crowds. And then there’s the cavern organ. Yep, that’s right. Some guy long ago figured out how to tap the stalactites (hanging down) and stalagmites (piling up) with little hammers to produce notes that can be played on the keyboard of an organ. Crazy.
Upon returning home, Yolanda added a new patch to this very cool NASA flight jacket she gave to me. Our orchestra friend, Cassie, is the Chief Planetary Protection Officer at NASA and she gave me a GRAIL patch (gravity recovery and interior laboratory). Grail is a lunar orbiter that maps gravitation fields of the moon to determine its interior structure. Got that?
I now come back to the hugs and kisses. While all of this attention was truly wonderful, what is most wonderful are all of my great friends, my loving family and and the love of my life – all of whom make every day special. 60 is truly sweet.
Live long and prosper!