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What's Happening at Carol Place


Most folks assume that retirement means lots of travel, and we are doing some. Over one long weekend, we flew to Ann Arbor to attend nephew Dave's graduation from the University of Toledo medical school and grand-niece Vivian's baptism. The following weekend, we drove to Wooster for Phil's class reunion, the highlights of which were certainly being piped across campus by a classmate/piper on our way to dinner at the President’s House and discovering the artistic talent of one of his classmates. (A few weeks later, we welcomed to Carol Place a large oil painting entitled "Going Green.") And a couple of weeks after that, we drove deep into the North Carolina mountains to visit GG and Mike in their new log home. On the return trip, we stopped in Lynchburg for lunch with the fabled "Sallie" of Sallie's Three-Flour Bread. On his own, Phil flew to Houston to visit his mom.

Staying home can be an adventure when it includes, in the course of a single week, a 5.8 earthquake and a brush with Hurricane Irene. It can also be culturally enriching when it includes weekly vocal lessons, an amazing performance by Choralis of the Brahms Deutches Requiem at the Strathmore, and a 9/11 remembrance concert, featuring the world premiere of a piece by Gary Davison, at the National Presbyterian Church in DC. And it can be simply fun when Graham and Liam bring their Grandmother to town for a LEGO exhibit of skyscrapers at the National Building Museum or Wooster friends, such as Phil's debate partner, stop by for dinner.


After 13 years at SAIC, 30 years in assorted computer-related employment, and more than 40 years in the workforce, Phil proclaimed his retirement from all of the aforementioned. We celebrated the transition, first, by spending a weekend at a quilting convention in Lancaster, PA, with a gathering of dear friends and, second, by hosting nephew Dave, his wife Sara, and their daughter Claudia for a vacation week in DC. One part of Phil's post-retirement life will be to experiment with a long list of new recipes.

After 9 years as Brimberry Consulting, 28 years at HUD, and more than 40 years in the workforce, Aliceann proclaimed her retirement from all of the aforementioned. We celebrated the transition with a week in Seattle for Nate and Kate's wedding and some whale watching, followed by a week in Portland with Jocee, Guenther, and Ana Malaika, Phil's former neighbor Linda, and Phil's cousin Wayne and his family. In preparation for her next career, Aliceann went to New York to train with Lauri Ward and returned a certified member of the Interior Redecorators NetworkTM. She will be doing business as Simply Better Interiors.

Retirement did not alter the type of travel that has become traditional on our calendar. In May, for instance, we drove north to Philadelphia for Ben and Deena's wedding, stopping on our way for lunch with Jen, Bryan, and the girls. That same month, Phil flew to Houston to visit his mom. We spent Labor Day weekend in Annapolis for Cheryl and Jarrod's wedding. We marked Phil's birthday by joining Tracy and George for a breast cancer walk in Richmond. No longer on the list for any office parties, our Christmas party celebration took place in Pennsburg, PA, with Sue, Graham, and Liam.

We had the usual mix of good folks visiting with us at Carol Place. Certainly the most fascinating combination was the snowy weekend Jocee and Guenther introduced us to their infant daughter, Ana Malaika, and we were joined by Haoua, Jocee's friend from the Peace Corps and her field work in Niger. We also had a long and fun visit with Jackie and Reg, who were in town to sell their house. Graham, Liam, and Chloe brought their Grandmother and Chloe's mom, Jen, to town see the Terra Cotta warriors exhibit at the National Geographic. And Cousin Wayne's son, Ben, in town for a trade show, joined us for a dinner at Carol Place and a rain-soaked tour of the Mall.


A trip to Colorado was the capstone to Phil’s plan for striding briskly past a milestone birthday. He announced the beginning of the celebration when we were in Cazenovia with Mary Margaret. The party moved to Washington, where we had dinner with our best man, Jim Jones, and his wife, Linda. We marked the actual birthday by having dinner with Jim Hodges, Phil’s undergraduate advisor, and Jim’s wife, Mary. Then, we flew to Colorado, the good times continuing in the Denver-Boulder area where we got together with Jessica (the key to Aliceann’s involvement with Choralis) and Eric Harbison. From Denver, we flew to Grand Junction, where we met up with Frank Klingberg, Frank’s daughter Ann, and his son-in-law Jim. Frank had been Phil’s advisor in graduate school, but the visit felt more familial than professional.

Aliceann made two solo trips to Illiana. On the first, she flew to Chicago Land for a long weekend of Aunt Annie duty centered around the baptism of Dave and Sara's daughter, Claudia. She also got to hug on Amanda and David's son, Seth, and to visit their new home. On the second, she spent a long week visiting with her sisters, her mom, Sarah and Rob, Tim and Janell, Rachel and Tim, and six grands. The third trip, just after Thanksgiving, we took together to say goodbye to Aliceann’s mother. The profound sadness of that part of the journey was balanced by the delight of hugging on (and being hugged on by) eight grands, one of whom joined this life less than a week after Aliceann’s mother left it.

This was our most musical summer ever, starting with Choralis’ performance of the Bach B-Minor Mass at Northern Virginia’s Schlesinger Center. Our pull quotes from the many good words passed along by the group’s musical director: “You all reached and exceeded my expectations as a choir . . . you sang superbly all night long. . . . Your absolute best came at the beginning of the Sanctus—you blew me (and the whole house) away!” We ended the summer by returning to Chautauqua for a week of adult choral camp with Phil's sister Becky and her husband Bill. After the final concert and a sunset dinner in Bemus Point, we headed east for a couple days with Phil, Mary Margaret, Tony, and Ted in Cazenovia. Brien and Emily joined us to cheer for Tony and Ted in their first Pop Warner game of the season.

Tina joined us at Carol Place for a weekend of R&R and a great tour of three Northern Virginia wineries. A few weeks later, we headed Tina's way for the third annual pool party at Jen and Bryan's and a visit with Andy, Graham, and Liam.

We started the Summer with a weekend in Richmond with Tracy and George. A few weeks later, we caught them at both ends of a Bermuda cruise to celebrate her recovery from breast cancer.

After more years than we care to confess, we pulled off the kitchen upgrade at Carol Place.

Phil flew to Boston for Jocee's defense of her dissertation in ethnobotany at Tufts. The practice in her home department (Biology) includes an hour-long presentation of the research and findings before a crowd that includes all of the grad students, a closed session with the committee (supplemented by at least one outsider), and, assuming successful passage, a champagne and cake reception with the full graduate department. Because the outsider came in from Emory, the festivities also included a small (and fabulous) dinner in his honor at a local Italian restaurant and a seminar he conducted at the Fletcher School. Jocee was, unquestionably, the star of the show. The department chair told Uncle Phil what a terrific job Jocee had done over her five years there. Jocee's advisor had only words of high praise in both public and private. And the department broke into applause when we arrived for the reception.

We spent a long weekend in Naples, Florida with Reg and Jackie. One day was given over to lunching on the beach, touring the high-end shops and neighborhoods of Naples (while we were there, the local paper reported that a single beachfront lot measuring 1.41 acres had sold for $11M), before returning to the beach to witness the daily worship of the sunset into the Gulf. A second day we split among a bird sanctuary (storks, ibis, egrets, alligators, owls, and much more), some consignment shops, a fine Provincal restaurant, and a very interesting performance by the Naples Philharmonic in a building locally referred to as (we love this place) “the Phil.” We finished up with a final day given over to a socially and generationally very different beach (where the gift shops all celebrated Spring Break) and more consignment shops. We returned to find our car buried under a couple inches of snow at Dulles.

Ben and Deena joined us at Carol Place for inauguration weekend. Ben actually attended the ceremonies; Deena spent a substantial chunk of the day filing her grades; we all cheered the occasion.


The Muller clan held its reunion over Thanksgiving weekend at a rural retreat in the Houston area. We sipped our morning cup of coffee on a deck where all moves were closely observed by either an assortment of turtles or a very focused alligator. We assume that the various alligators encountered over the weekend, the one who kept a watch on our cabin, the one who kept a similar watch on the larger cabin, and the one who lurked across the pond from the swimming hole, may have been in communication (Twitter, IM, whatever) but were not the same beasty.

Elaine and Larry celebrated a mid-Fall break with a visit to Carol Place. Several terrific days of playing tourist were punctuated by a long stroll through the National Zoo and another through Meadowlark Botanical Park, after lunch at the legendary Vienna Inn.

After nearly thirty years in Houston, Santa Fe, and San Francisco, Jim and Linda returned to DC. While waiting for movers or getting out of the way of the floor crew, they and Cody (their sweetheart of a standard poodle) took refuge at Carol Place. What a kick having them (and David and Laura and the kids) in town!

Twice in late Summer, we headed to eastern Pennsylvania. The first took us to West Grove for the second annual pool party at Jen and Bryan's and a visit with Tina. The second started with a tour of Phil's mother's childhood neighborhood in Allentown, then a surprise birthday party for Sue (and Graham and Liam), and, finally, some more time with Tina.

We spent a truly incredible week in St. Paul with Becky and Bill to assist Lisa and Todd on the occasion of Oliver's birth. He arrived, healthy and sweet, early on a Wednesday morning. By early afternoon, we were at Lisa's side, describing to Oliver the sort of family it had been his good fortune to join. That day and most other days that week, we joined Oliver's siblings, Eli and Lucy, at the neighborhood park of their choosing, color-coded by Eli based on the sliding board. One day, the senior adults accompanied Eli and Lucy to the Children's Museum, which, however the literature may describe it, is really the world's most amazing, multi-story, indoor playground. One night, we lingered over an Italian dinner with Dave Jones, a classmate of Phil's from Wooster. Another night, we met with Rocky Rockenstein, Phil's debate partner at Wooster, and Rocky's wife Joey for dinner and opening night at the Guthrie Theater. Did we mention the daily, neighborhood strolls with Pacy? Or the Twins vs. the Indians game at the Metrodome? Or watching Eli circle the bases with dozens of other young ones after a St. Paul Saints game?

Our moment of most conflicted emotions: Phil flew to Florida to say goodbye to cousin Martha, who had been taken entirely too young and too quickly by lung cancer. Meanwhile, Aliceann waited by the phone for the pathology lab's report on Tracy's breast cancer surgery. The lab report came through with every good word we could hope for. Still, Martha was gone. While a fist pumped the air, the tears flowed.

On a Mother's Day visit to Illiana, we passed on the opportunity to play Cow Chip Bingo so we could concentrate on hugging the grands--Emma and Kyra , Dustin and Allison, and the newly arrived twins, Kyle and Kelsey--as well as catching up on the news with Sarah and Rob, Tim and Janell, and Rachel and Tim and visiting with Aliceann's side of the family.

A really special collection of folks assembled at the Overbrook House on Cape Cod to celebrate Jocee and Guenther's wedding. Bocci on the front lawn, contradancing, lunch at the lobster pot, whale-watching near Provincetown, Nate's culinary tour of Biejing, Ben's tales of the challenges of vegetarian dining in Argentina, and a beautiful wedding ceremony, rich with meaning, emotions, and memories--a fabulous time.

Jim and Linda were in town for a long weekend, in part to speak to UVa's Jefferson Society about Jim's work on Alfred Kinsey and in part so they could begin their DC house hunt. Overlapping that visit, Mary Margaret, Tony, and Ted came to DC for Spring break.


The visitors: Phil's brother Tim came through twice, heading to Florida for tennis and on his way back. On the way South, he spent the night at Carol Place. On his way North, he stayed with Uncle John and Aunt Esther, and we all got together for a fabulous dinner at Jann and Paul's. Jim Jones was in town that same weekend, on his way home to San Francisco after presentation at UVA on his current research topic, David the Bubble Boy.

We spent a few days in Richmond, in part to meet folks at the Southern Historical Association convention and to toast a forty-year friendship with Jim, but also to visit with Tracy and George. We had to cut the visit short to fly to Dallas to say goodbye to Aunt Betty and to grieve with Phil's cousins and their young ones. While in Texas, we drove to Houston to visit Phil's mom.

We are looking to find more time in our schedules for visits with family and friends, such as the long weekend we spent visiting with Jim and Linda in San Francisco and with Reg and Jackie south of Santa Cruz. Sunrises viewed through the Bay Bridge, sunsets through the Golden Gate, hours spent wandering through the Farmers' market, a tour of the Silverado vineyard, lunches in Sausalito and Monterey, a drive up the Coastal Highway--that sort of visit. Or the weekend we took the train to New York for dinner and a surprise birthday party for Margaret (Phil's best friend from grad school) at the River Club, a jazz spot with a spectacular view of the Hudson, the George Washington Bridge, and the New Jersey Palisades. While in New York City, we had a long and thoroughly enjoyable brunch and stroll into Central Park with Ben.

We drove to West Grove for the first annual pool party at Jen and Bryan's and a weekend with Tina. The following weekend, Sue, Graham, and Liam came to Carol Place to marvel at the dinosaurs in the Museum of Natural History and the space vehicles at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. And the weekend after that, we drove to Chautauqua for a week with Phil's sister Becky and her husband Bill. The return route included an evening in Buffalo with Phil's brother Tim, Tim's wife Dottie, and Dottie's family. We interrupted our trip home with a day spent with Phil, Mary Margaret, Tony, and Ted in Cazenovia.

In June, we joined with Danny and Mandy to celebrate the wedding of their Dad, Carroll, and Lena. Later that same month, we joined an extraordinarily happy crowd in Oak Park to celebrate Dave and Sara's wedding. Immediately upon our return, Aliceann rolled into Summer Fest mode and launched the celebration of her birthday by joining with Choralis to perform Mozart's Mass in C Minor. She continued the birthday festivities with a day of horse country antique shopping with G.G., dinner with G.G. and Mike at L'Auberge Chez Francois, and a surprise visit by Tracy.

In May, we were in the bleacher seats at East Fairmont High School to cheer for Allie Fleming when she walked across the stage as a graduate with highest honors.

Our nephew Tim and Janell, his wife, brought their children Dustin and Allison to Carol Place for their Spring break. Among the highlights of their brief visit: Choralis performed Handel's Messiah; great tours of the International Spy Museum and the children's exhibit at the Holocaust Museum; an incredible time at the National Zoo (featuring an elephant playing with a large ball, an elegant cheetah strolling across his compound, river otters romping in and out of the water, Mexican wolves playing chase games, and high wire displays by the orangutans); and a slow drive past the National Cathedral.

Just in time for Tim and Janell's visit, Aliceann negotiated a new, three-days-a-week schedule at ONR. That only lasted a couple of months before it was revised to four days.

Our niece Robin spent a week with us at Carol Place while her husband Dan was in Texas at a conference. He joined us for a few days after the conference; then, after the two of them joined with her parents and brother for a week in the Shenandoah, Robin and Dan stopped at Carol Place for their last night in the country before returning to London.


Our nephew Dave and Sara were in the area on a short notice visit, the timing of which allowed them to attend the Choralis Christmas concert.

We drove to Richmond to spend Thanksgiving with Tracy and George. It was the first holiday gathering they hosted in their beautiful home and Tracy's first experience with roasting a turkey. All, including George's parents and sister, proclaimed it a great success.

Over Veterans Day weekend, we flew to Illinois for our niece Rachel and Tim's wedding. We had a great time with Aliceann's side of the family, there and in Chicagoland. On the trip north from the wedding, we stopped for a brief visit with Jess and Eric.

In September, Phil helped to move his Mother from Wooster to Houston, a trip that included some very special time with his sister Becky, his brother Dave and Dave's wife Barb, and our niece Adelle, her husband Matt and their four amazing kids. At first, the move was profoundly disorienting for Phil's Mother, but daily doses of great-grandchildren and poetry readings had her smiling and alert by the end of the week. With the great-grandchildren in tow, the crew risked an outing to a local park, and everything went beautifully. When Phil helped his Mother into his rental car for the return trip to the nursing home, he popped in a CD. "Mozart's Requiem," he said. "That's Aliceann and Choralis in concert." His Mother teared up. "I envy her," she explained. "I wish I could have been part of something that beautiful."

In August, the Reiter-Johnston clan gathered in Rockville for Josh and Jean's wedding.

Our plans for an August trip to Europe had excited us for months: a week in London with our niece Erin and with Robin and Dan; then a flight to Berlin to join with Phil's sister Sarah and our niece Amanda and her husband David to celebrate Jeni and Gunnar's wedding; with a side-trip visit to the Marschhausens. That, anyway, was the plan. The morning before our planned departure, the news broke about British arrests of men planning to blow up British Airways flights to and from London's Heathrow airport. With huge regrets, we shelved the plan.

In April, the Organization of American Historians came to DC for its annual convention. Phil was there to attend a session featuring long-time friend Betsy Jacoway previewing her book, Turn Away Thy Son (check the reviews, then click on "Buy the Book"). We hosted a Carol Place dinner for Betsy and a fabulous collection of her fans--Jim Jones, Linda Auwers, Gary Scott, Chip Carlson, and Jim Hodges.


We headed to Cambridge for Robin and Dan's wedding. After the wedding, we drove north to York (York Minster, Yorkshire Museum, National Railway Museum, and Castle Howard), spun past the Lake District down to Chester (Chester Cathedral), and closed out with a night in Oxford.

We hosted the family reunion at Carol Place, thirty-eight folks from twelve states.

We spent a weekend in the Allentown area, celebrating Liam's first birthday and walking around the hometown of one of Phil's grandfathers.

As part of his new career plans, Dave joined us for several thoroughly enjoyable months at Carol Place, before moving on to Ann Arbor.

The Spring visitors to Carol Place have included Becky and Bill and Charlie and Mary Pfeiffer, who stopped for a night on their way back to Ohio from a week on the Eastern Shore. Tim was in town that same weekend for an oyster outing with Paul and Jann. For a delightful Easter brunch, we were joined by Amanda's best friend from Oak Park, Sara, Sara's parents, Bill and Shelby, and her sister, Kristen.

We took a trip down memory lane in March, driving to Chapel Hill to meet with George Brown Tindall, one of Phil's major professors in graduate school, and several of his closest friends from those years. The Pine Room, we are sorry to report, has long since closed, but otherwise the journey produced many more smiles than tears.

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