"There's no place like home. . . there's no place like home. . . there's no place like home." Home for The Belt Team is Vienna, Virginia. Please stop by frequently and share with us all the things about life in Vienna that make Vienna truly the best place to live.

Welcome to Vienna, Virginia

Friday, December 14, 2012

Hearts Of Gold

There may not be a yellow brick road down the main street of Vienna, VA - but you'll still find Vienna is full of gold . . . . that is, hearts of gold.

Three years ago, I started a blog about Life In Vienna. I called it "There's No Place Like Vienna (Dot Com)" because I really feel like there is no better place to live than Vienna, VA. I moved to Vienna when I was 10 years old, grew up here, was married here, raised my family here, and now my husband and I are empty nesters here. And so over the years, I have written about Vienna's history, Vienna restaurants, the schools in Vienna, the Vienna music scene, Vienna sports and more. (And I write about Vienna real estate on my "other" blog.) But truly, the absolute best part of Vienna is the people who live here.

My husband, Bill Grossman, works at St. Mark Catholic Church in Vienna. He's on staff as the Pastoral Associate and works with the various service & outreach ministries. This week he shared with me a little of what has been happening at St. Mark this past month. And I'd like to share it with you. It will give you an idea of what kind of people live here in this wonderful place called Vienna.

Here's what Bill said:

"St. Mark was founded almost 50 years ago with the idea of service and outreach in our community as a core to our faith. So many great people paved the way back then, and it  continues today. I wanted to share with you what I shared with the St. Mark Staff today at our monthly meeting. 
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU ALL for making St. Mark the great church and community that it is!!!

In the past 4 weeks, YOU have done this:

Our Tithing Allocation Committee approved 6 grants to local organizations that will help low income families in our area, will help a men’s homeless shelter, will provide winter coats for homeless/low income children, will support a continuing adult education program, will support a bereavement organization and will help a home for abused women.

The Thanksgiving Clothing Drive brought in and moved out nearly 7 tons of clothing to 15 local organizations using the help of 150+ volunteers (many were teenagers!)

Our Hot Meals Ministry cooked, delivered and fed 125+ homeless/low income folks in Fairfax County.

Our Prayer Shawl ministry knitted 70 hats, 23 scarves and 7 baby blankets for the homeless and distributed them to FACETS, the Lamb Center, Hope Center and the Reston Homeless Shelter.

Our Gift of Peace ministry made and delivered dinner to the Gift of Peace House in Washington to help feed HIV clients.

Support Our Troops ministry put together over 90 packages of much needed goodies and mailed them to our Troops overseas.

ESL (English as a Second Language) concluded their Fall session with a wonderful Christmas party hosting many of the current ESL students. 12 Computers were given away at the party courtesy of our Computer Repair Ministry.

Our Funeral Reception Committee and Funeral Bakers Committee helped celebrate the beautiful life of Barbara Comi, hosting one of the largest Funeral Receptions ever at St. Mark.

Our Giving Tree Ministry helped bring in and then distribute to 12 local organizations a total of 2,408 Christmas gifts and $14,825 in Gift Cards

We collected 41 pints of blood at the Blood Drive.

Our Second Sunday Sustenance group made over 100 sandwiches and delivered to those in need.

Our M&M (Seniors) group held their annual Christmas party and were entertained by our wonderful St. Mark School choir.

Our Catholic Social Teaching Committee hosted a speaker presentation on the death penalty in Virginia.

Our Hypothermia Shelter ministry is in the midst of planning/helping the area churches that are hosting sites for the homeless throughout the winter."


Note: the types of things Bill Grossman describes go on all year long, and not just at St. Mark Catholic Church. They happen at churches & schools & stores & homes all throughout our community - with big events like Kyllopalooza and Relay For Life and Toys For Tots and small ones too where neighbors help neighbors gently & quietly.

People who care about other people, who put their money where their mouth is, and tithe their time, treasure & talent - that's what I love about living in Vienna!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Last Saturday was one of those days you just dream about. . . . where you wake up, you have no pressing business, and you think "Hmmm, maybe we should go out for a leisurely brunch." So that's just what we decided to do.

But where should we go? Since we live in Vienna, we like to stay local. But even confining our search to the Town of Vienna meant we still had a lot of choices. Should we head to Bazin's? Maplewood Grill? Amphora?  Breakfast burritos at Anita's? Patisseries & coffee at Silva's? Bagels at Panera?

All good options, but not this time. You see, every time we go to Panera, we peer across the street and into the windows at Maple Ave Restaurant and wish we had the time to sit down and have a really civilized meal. So that's what we did.

And boy are we glad we made that choice. A fabulous menu greeted us. At first glance, you might think the prices a bit high and the fare not that different from any other restaurant. But that's where you'd be wrong. Because every detail from the hand crafted cola, to the homemade mayo, to the French pressed coffee (a special brew from Caffe Amouri) to the gorgeous presentation was well worth it. We lingered and chatted and felt so thoroughly cared for that the rest of the day just went by in a dream. Seriously. It was THAT good.

I'm not a professional photographer, so my photos don't do justice, but here's what we enjoyed. My husband had the fried egg sandwich (with sliced Olli coppa, gruyere cheese, piquillo peppers) accompanied by killer home fries and a mustard vinaigrette salad. Mmmmmm!

I went the simple route with a panko crusted chicken sandwich with cheddar cheese & truffle mayo (that was to die for!) and seasoned fries. (If they had served an extra side of truffle mayo, I'd have dipped my fries for some extra goodness. But then they probably would have had to wheel me out!) This dish sounds simple, but the freshness of the organic ingredients, the seasoning and the execution made it simply spectacular.

Next time we go, we promised ourselves we would try the 6 course brunch tasting menu. It often includes an egg dish, a crepe, charcuterie, lunch plate, salad & dessert. It changes with the seasons, but based on my other meals there, I know it would be fabulous. AND they even have bottomless cocktails for $15 (mimosas, bloody marys & poinsettias). What's not to like?!

MAR (Maple Ave Restaurant) is MAR MAR MARVELOUS in my book and just another reason we we love living in Vienna. Here's to you Chef Tim Ma & General Manager Joey Hernandez. You guys rock!

(This edition of TheresNoPlaceLikeVienna.com was contributed by Christy Belt Grossman, Chief Operating Officer with The Belt Team. Christy has lived in Vienna since 1972 and enjoys the small town feel that Vienna has to offer !)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sometimes You Just Need A Little Taste of Heaven

Wasn't it great when the sun came out today?! After coming through 3 days of rain, "hunkering down" at home, and then picking up the debris today - it was really nice to see the sun peeking through the clouds.

And that's how I always feel when I go to Silva's.

Silva's Patisserie is another one of those small, local businesses in Vienna that I have grown to love. It's nestled in the same shopping center and right around the corner from another one of my favorite local places, Jammin Java.

When you go in, you are sure to find one of the owners there - either Silva herself or her son Harry. Harry is a pastry chef (formerly of the Kennedy Center) and he named the patisserie after his mother Silva. They will give you a friendly greeting and then wait patiently while you decide what to order.

And that's where the problem arises. What to order?!

You see, while they of course have all the usual specialties (cakes, bread, croissants, cookies, cupcakes & the rest), plus gorgeous wedding cakes, macaroons & marzipan works of art; my favorite thing to order at Silva's is one of their miniature pastries. And the varieties are ENDLESS.

So Harry waits patiently - while I ponder . . . lemon meringue or key lime . . . chocolate lolly or cheesecake lolly . . . a fruit bavarian or a swan . . . a red forest lolly or chocolate mousse . . . a vanilla eclair or a rum ball . . . creme brulee or a mille feuille . . . coca cacao or dulce de leche . . . a caramel lolly or pistachio . . . raspberry linzer or strawberry tort . . . a mint chocolate lolly or a belgian truffle.

And Harry is still waiting patiently! LOL!

Oftentimes when I stop in to Silva's, it's on the way to a potluck or a ladie's gathering. I like to offer to bring dessert because I know that when I bring desserts from Silva's - it will "wow" everyone (even the guys!). I usually pick up a variety of mini pastries. Silva's always wraps them in a lovely box decorated with ribbon and as soon as people see it, they want to know what's inside.

The anticipation grows and as I plate the desserts one by one, I start to hear "oohs" and "aahs" and "That's my favorite!" and "I have dibs on that one!". And because they are mini pastries - EVERYONE has one - even those who are on a diet say "Oh I can have just one little pastry." (And then they can't help but have another and another . . . !)

The other times I stop into Silva's, it's because sometimes I just need a little taste of heaven. Having a hectic week? Kids driving you crazy? Did you volunteer for too many activities? Is your job really stressful? Stop into Silva's for one little mini pastry - and for just a few moments it all slips away.

Silva's is located at 167 Glyndon Street SE and is just another reason why I LOVE living in Vienna!
(This edition of TheresNoPlaceLikeVienna.com was contributed by Christy Belt Grossman, Chief Operating Officer with The Belt Team. Christy has lived in Vienna since 1972 and resides with her husband Bill and dog Cody. And Silva's even has a treat that looks just like her dog!)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Vienna "Gentrification"


This week, Washington Post writer, John Kelly, shared the story of the upcoming sale of a 1 1/3 parcel of land in the heart of Vienna.   Three sisters who grew up in the house that their father built in the 1940’s own the land, which is likely to be sold to developers. 

The sisters each report their memories in the home.  They detail the home building expenses and receipts saved by their parents - including the cost of the bricks, $364 for 16,000.   

This story fascinated me for two reasons.  First, as a Realtor serving the Vienna community, this story is reflective of so many stories I hear across our town.  Older homes full of memories and love are being torn down to make way for newer and larger homes that will meet the needs of families today.  Some residents see it as welcomed progress; while others resist it and worry about the implications for their street or community.  Construction can feel invasive to neighbors who still live in homes nearby, taxes can increase with increasing property values of adjacent properties and larger homes can feel intrusive to the owners of smaller homes built in the middle of the last century.  We need newer, modern homes” conflicts with “We need affordable homes where those who serve our town can live”.  Both sentiments ring true but how do we reconcile them? 

The second reason for my connection to this story is that I, too, sold a parcel of land this summer.  My grandfather, Carl Williams, bought almost 76 acres of land in a rural part of southeast Texas in 1918.  Our family has owned this undeveloped parcel since then; but after my father’s death in 2009 we have not been able to oversee it, to care for it the way it had been cared for in the previous 90 years.  Like the sisters in John Kelly’s story, I have memories there. The history of it is meaningful to me; but my practical, realistic sensibilities said that it was time to let it go. It wasn’t easy and even after the deed has transferred to the new owner, I still feel that I have an investment there.  I care how he treats the land and wonder what it will become. 

"Gentrification" is the term used to describe this process of the renewal of communities and properties by letting go of the old and embracing the new.  It doesn’t quite capture all that happens in the process.   But those of us who are touched by gentrification, whether selling or buying, know the issues, the emotions and the inevitability of it.   What I’ve learned as a Realtor and as a land owner is that the process matters.  It matters that we honor and respect the history of the land and the families who still live nearby.   

Change is difficult and our natural tendency is to favor the familiar.   The familiar component here is families.  Vienna families in the 1940’s needed homes and they had land as a resource.  They could move out to Vienna and find undeveloped land to purchase and build a home.   In 2012, Vienna’s land is rarely undeveloped, but increasingly valuable to families wanting to build memories in a home, for some, a newly built home.   

One of the things I love about Vienna is that it feels like a small town.  You get to know folks.  You see them at events around town.  People are friendly and seem to share common community values.  As we continue to gentrify our neighborhoods, those community values will guide us in maintaining our Vienna community and honoring its history.
(This edition of TheresNoPlaceLikeVienna.com was contributed by Susan Hussey. Susan, a Texan at heart, loves living in Vienna, where she resides with her husband and two young children.)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Healthy Living in Vienna

On the morning of August 12, 2012, while reading the Washington Post, I saw a story featuring one of my neighbors, JoAnne Hammermaster.  Now, it isn’t always good to see your neighbor in the newspaper, especially in the Metro section, but this time it turned out to be a wonderful story highlighting an initiative to improve the nutritional quality of school lunches through an organization she helped found, Real Food For Kids (RFFK).  

Before the meat additive “pink slime” became the focus of the media, JoAnne and her partners at Real Food For Kids were working to educate Fairfax County parents about the ingredients in food served in school cafeterias.  For example, a hamburger patty served in Fairfax County schools contained 26 ingredients, and the pizza and the cheese quesadilla each had over 70. This Fall, the hamburger will be replaced with a 100% beef burger and Fairfax County Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) says overall there has been an 80% reduction in food additives in the past year.

RFFK is working to bring fresh foods, locally grown fruits and vegetables, to our children’s schools.  One way to do that is by offering salad bars. Last year, 8 Fairfax County schools offered salad bars.  This year it will be 10.  RFFK encourages schools to contact FNS to request one.  Additionally, Marshall High School in Falls Church is beginning work on a pilot program that will enable them to make most foods from scratch starting in Fall 2013.
To continue its success, RFFK needs community support.  Here’s what you can do: 
  • Sign the resolution for better school food through your PTA.
  • Ask Real Food For Kids to come to your school to tell parents about our initiative and support the resolution. Email contact@realfoodforkids.org to request a speaker at your next meeting.
  • Write to the school board. Let the school board know you believe this is an important issue. Go to the website fora sample letter (in English and Spanish). 
  • Get involved! Real Food For Kids would love your help. Email  contact@realfoodforkids.org if you would like to speak with someone about opportunities to get involved.
  • Stay updated on the progress. Sign up for their newsletter! Email newsletter@realfoodforkids.org
Another really fun opportunity coming up is the 2012 Food Day hosted by Real Food For Kids.  It will be October 23rd at 6:00 p.m. at Marshall High School.  The theme is “Raising the Bar:  Feeding Academic Success”.   Local and national experts in food preparation, food policy and medicine will join together in a fun and educational experience with healthy foods.  I’ve also heard a celebrity chef will be on hand.  It is a free event and open to anyone in the community.

Real Food For Kids began when a group of Vienna parents came together to work toward the goal of increasing healthy food choices in Fairfax County schools.  Vienna residents who are making a difference locally and nationally are another reason I love living in our town.
(This edition of TheresNoPlaceLikeVienna.com was contributed by Susan HusseySusan resides in Vienna where she, her husband and two young children all try to eat healthy. )

Monday, August 13, 2012

Vienna Author Publishes Her First Book

If you were driving down Beulah Road in Vienna anytime during the last two weeks of July, you might have noticed hundreds of young witches and wizards making an appearance in the muggle world.  If you know what muggles are, then you may just know why they were there.  (Or maybe you read our blog post last year called "Not Your Mother's Summer Camp!")

For the second year, Vienna’s Church of the Holy Comforter held its vacation bible school based on J.K. Rowling’s popular book series exploring the adventures of Harry Potter and friends.  While the book series is the inspiration, the curriculum of the program was born right here in Vienna.

Leslie Barnhart,  a parishioner at the church, developed the curriculum for the bible school and with permission from Warner Brothers, opened the doors to Vienna’s  version of Hogwarts Castle in the summer of 2011.   After the completion of that first session, Leslie was inspired to write a book on the topic.  The Christian’s Guide to Harry Potter was published in July.

In the book, Leslie first explores some of the overarching themes of the book series and then dives into each book to highlight Christian themes and symbolism.  While I admit to loving English lit class in high school and college, the experience of reading this book, along with J.K. Rowling’s series is fascinating to me.  Like so many others, I’ve enjoyed the plot of the Harry Potter series but find myself re-experiencing it at a much deeper level through Leslie’s book.

The Christian’s Guide to Harry Potter by Leslie Barnhart is currently available in paperback and Kindle versions through Amazon.com.  Look for it in bookstores in September.  If you want to gain new insights into this wonderful series, you must pick it up!
Leslie has added her name to Vienna’s growing list of must-read authors (including David Baldacci, Ian Caldwell & Richard Kirkland just to name a few).  And interesting residents like these are just another reason why WE LOVE LIVING IN VIENNA!

For more information - visit Leslie Barnhart's web site.

(This edition of TheresNoPlaceLikeVienna.com was contributed by Susan Hussey. Susan resides in Vienna with her husband and two young children; and she is a member of Holy Comforter Episcopal Church. )

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

There’s No Place Like Vienna . . . . or Magruders!

When I moved to Vienna, Virginia, I had no idea that I would have a constant reminder of my previous life from the  “other side of the river” (Maryland) and it would be . . . . a grocery store. A grocery store? Are you kidding me?  You’re going to wax poetic about a grocery store? The answer is, yes, I am. 

If you are not a native Washingtonian, let me explain. Magruder's is a family owned store and has been “ a Washington tradition since 1875”.  Where I grew up, in Chevy Chase, Maryland, we lived near one of the first Magruder’s stores that ever opened in Washington and I was sent there seemingly daily for the  specials.  Make sure you get the freshest chicken”, “Don’t buy the fish if the eyes are cloudy” . This is what I was told on the way out the door.

The aisles were too small, the floors not pristine, and they didn’t have the great selection of junk food that the big chain stores had.  What it did have, and what they still have today, are, friendly employees, and great deals.

Best of all, for me, the location in Vienna is close to my house so I can re-live my youth - fighting for specials in those narrow aisles! 

There’s no place like Vienna……or Magruder's!

(This edition of TheresNoPlaceLikeVienna.com was contributed by Catharine Via)

Friday, May 25, 2012


Thank you once again to Guest Blogger Dave Graham, for a final post about the last game for Madison High School's baseball team this season. In a postcript to the game, Madison players Nate Favero & Jonny Graham were both named to the All Northern Region First Team. Congrats to Nate & Jonny! Both young men will be going on to play baseball at the next level - Nate for Brigham Young University & Jonny for the Air Force Academy. Best of luck boys!

photo courtesy of Jonny Graham/Facebook


On a beautiful evening in Vienna, Langley rode the arm and bat of Matt Moser to a 2-0 victory over Madison in a second round Liberty District playoff game.  Moser breezed through the first five innings allowing only one base runner and navigated through a bit of trouble in the sixth and seventh in hurling a one hit shutout.  He also singled to ignite a two run rally in the third that was all the offense needed to advance the Saxons to the District semifinals and guarantee them a spot in the Northern Region tournament.  Coach Mark “Pudge” Gjormand later noted, “Give them the credit.  They fielded the ball well and Matt Moser did a wonderful job on the mound.  We never had a chance to get any momentum going”

Tim Davis got the starting assignment for Madison   He retired the side in order in the top of the first on a grounder to second, a routine fly and a backwards K.

Moser responded with the first of four 1-2-3 innings.  Third baseman Cal Jadacki got the first out making a nice play to charge a bunt and get the out at first.  After a fly out, a check swing grounder to second ended the inning.  Two of the three outs came on the first pitch as Moser used a total of only five to retire the side in a sign of the efficiency that was to come.

Davis began the second with another looking K and with two outs Thomas Dungan reached when a low throw to first wasn’t dug out.  AJ Holtberg entered as a courtesy runner and moved to second when Gray Decker lined a single through the right side.  The threat ended on a grounder with first baseman Matt Livingston pulling down a high throw to first.

Moser began and ended the second with a pair of strike outs sandwiched around an unassisted ground out to first.

Dan Richardson led off the decisive third by lining a single through the right side.  In the pivotal play of the game, he took off for second on a 2-2 pitch.  Moser worked a hit and run to perfection slapping a bouncer through the hole vacated by Nate Favero as he covered second.  Instead of two outs and no one on, the Saxons had runners at the corners and no one out.  The first out came on a shallow foul fly to left that Evan Jacquez captured after a long run with the runners holding.  On a Jadacki grounder to first, the first baseman chose not to step on the bag and instead whirled and threw to second without looking at the runner at third.  Courtesy runner Jack McSteen was forced at second but Richardson scored and there was no return throw to first.  Two pitches later Michael Byrne belted a double to the gap in left to knock in the second run.  He advanced to third on an errant throw attempting to pick him off when he took a big turn at second.  He was left aboard as the inning ended on a strike out but Langley had all the runs it would need on this night.

With one out in the bottom of the frame, Justin Padgett laid a perfect bunt down the first base line.  Moser bolted off the mound and made a magnificent play gloving the ball and flipping it to first for the out without transferring it to his bare hand.  The inning ended on another sparkling play as a hard hit bouncer up the middle ticked off the leaping Moser’s glove and shortstop Brandon Bast swooped behind second to gobble it up and fire to first for the out.

Dungan again reached on an error leading off the fourth with Holtberg courtesy running.  On a bouncer identical to Moser’s hit and run single the prior inning, Madison turned a second to short to first double play.  The inning ended on a fly to left.

With two outs in the bottom of the fourth, the Warhawks got their first runner when the left fielder was unable to make a sliding catch of Favero’s sinking line drive.  The inning ended on a line drive back to Moser.

With two outs in the top of the fifth, Bast grounded a single up the middle but Davis ended the inning with a strike out.

Moser once again set Madison down in order in the bottom of the fifth starting with a pair of strike outs.

In the sixth Dungan drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch with two outs but Padgett made a nice backhanded stop at third and threw across the diamond for the final out.

With one out in the Warhawk sixth Henry Brandmark pinch hit and after fouling off a 1-2 pitch ripped a single over the shortstop’s leap for the lone Madison hit of the game.  Ben Socher hit a hard grounder to second that took a bounce off the lip of the infield and handcuffed the second baseman to put two men on with one out.  Both runners moved up as Jadacki made another nice play at third to charge a slow bouncer and get the out a first.  Favero crushed a line drive to center but David Paul played it well backing up a few steps to make the catch.        

With two outs in the top of the seventh Moser drilled one to the gap in left with center fielder Jonny Graham hustling to cut the ball off and hold him to a single.  Padgett ended the inning charging a slow hopper to third and getting the out at first.
Moser sailed into the seventh having only thrown 66 pitches and with his first three pitches he recorded two outs.  Dan Powers patiently worked a five pitch walk to bring up Davis.  On a 1-2 pitch, Powers stole second with a headfirst slide.  On the next offering a shot down the right field line just missed being fair by inches.  Davis battled heroically eventually working the count full by fouling off a whopping five two strike pitches.  Moser had retired the side on eleven pitches in three different innings and on the eleventh pitch of the at bat coaxed an unassisted ground out to first ending the game.

For his part, Davis had pitched a fine game giving up six hits while fanning five and walking one.  He had also fought valiantly at the plate making Moser throw 22 pitches in his three at bats---more than 25% of the total Moser threw in the game.  On the pitches he threw to the other Madison hitters, Moser was brilliant and highly efficient.    

The stunned Warhawks could only stand and watch as Langley celebrated on the same field where thirteen days earlier Madison had beaten Moser and the Saxons.  In the previous game they had come from behind with two in the fourth and five in the fifth to win 8-2.  That night Moser was knocked out with no outs in the fifth having thrown 78 pitches.  In the rematch, Moser needed only 85 pitches to toss a complete game.  In the earlier game, Madison jumped on Moser’s first pitch five times producing two singles and a pair of doubles.  In an astonishing turn around, on this night the Warhawks were hitless in nine one pitch at bats.

Langley lost its next game to Stone Bridge and will play the Concorde District champions in the first round of the Northern Region tournament.  A season which began with much fanfare for Madison ended in bitter disappointment.  Two years ago they won four straight District and Region playoff games; last year they won five.  Both years their run ended in the Region semifinals.  Going “one and done” this year was unexpected to say the least.  Coach Gjormand summed it up by saying, “I am really going to miss this group of seniors.  They played a big part in last year’s District championship and several helped us go back to back.  There will be a new Liberty District champion this year.”       

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

You Too Can Hear U2!

Do you have a "bucket list"? I don't have one that's written down, but I do have a few ideas of things I'd like to eventually do or see. And the band U2 is DEFINITELY one of them.

Well - I'm not quite there yet, but I'm getting closer. And if this is something on your bucket list too, maybe you'd like to join me.

This Saturday (May 19th), the Vienna Choral Society is presenting a concert called "Seikilos to U2". The concert is being held to support arts education in Fairfax County & beyond and it will take place at 7:30PM at UUCF (2970 Hunter Mill Road in Oakton).

Vienna Choral Society is partnering with several organizations including One Voice, which is David Reynolds' organization (he is the way cool teacher at Vienna Elementary who leads the VES Jammers that VCS featured at the Celtic Arts Fest. You might also remember their Flash Mob at Viva Vienna last year).

There will also be a pre-concert talk given by Jennifer Rodgers Beach at 7PM. Families young & old are welcome. And seniors and children even get discounted tickets. (Details & tickets are available online or at the door.)

Here's what VCS had to say about the show:

"And yes, Seikilos to U2 is a huge span - 2000+ years of western music history in 90 odd minutes. Why? Because we are the Vienna Choral Society, and we can!"

Now seriously folks - you can't beat that. You too can hear U2!

Vienna Choral Society - just another reason why WE LOVE LIVING IN VIENNA!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Calling All Foodies & Fun Lovers

If you've been reading our blog about "Life In Vienna" over the past few years, then you already know that WE LOVE LIVING IN VIENNA! In fact, the whole purpose of our blog is to share all the reasons WHY we love living in Vienna.

Well, this weekend, you have the opportunity to find out for yourself how much fun Vienna is. Our past blog posts have talked about the awesome variety of cuisines offered in Vienna's restaurants, the fabulous music scene, the family friendly activities and the people themselves. And this Saturday from 11AM-8PM, all of these things will converge in one spectacular event.

I'm proud to say that The Belt Team is a sponsor of what is being billed as "the first annual" TASTE OF VIENNA. This is an event you don't want to miss! And proceeds will benefit the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department. VVFD has served our community for over 100 years. And these men and women truly deserve our support. I can tell you from personal experience having had a daughter with serious medical problems, that the EMTs and fire fighters are sent straight from heaven. It's a call you never want to have to make, but when you call 9-1-1 and within minutes you hear the siren on the VVFD truck, that siren is a beacon of hope.

There's no admission required for the event. Each restaurant will sell "tastes". And wine & beer will be sold as well. We hear that more than 30 local restaurants will be represented and many of them will have their Owners and/or Executive Chefs on site. This isn't just typical street vendor food like you'd see at a fair. If you and your family can never agree on where to go out to eat because you like different cuisines - this is the perfect event for you! Everyone can try their favorite at the same time.

Here's a partial list of participating restaurants:
  • CREPE AMOUR (opening soon)
  • YIRASAI SUSHI & GRILL (Japanese & Korean Cuisine)

Not only will there be fabulous food, but the line up of entertainers is excellent as well. These are musicians you might catch at some of Vienna's musical haunts like Jammin Java or the piano bar at Maplewood Grill - but this time no ticket charge or tip jar! Here's the schedule:

Noon - Tom Lohrmann
1PM - Overland (Formerly - Ray Bennett & Band)
2PM - Natalie York
3PM - Natalie York
4PM - Terry Lee Ryan
5PM - School of Rock
6PM - Shenandoah Run
7PM - Overland

You can bring your kids (there will be face painting and a moon bounce), but you can't bring your dog (unless it's a service dog). And I'd suggest walking if you can as parking will not be easy. VVFD says the event is on rain or shine, so you'd better pack your umbrella too!

For more information, visit the web site for Taste of Vienna.

Hope to see you there. Come find out why WE LOVE LIVING IN VIENNA!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Rock N Roll Royalty Visits Vienna!

Have you been to The Barns yet? (Not the kind of barn where the horses live, but the one that's part of Wolftrap!) If you haven't been, then you are missing out on something really special. Wolftrap & The Barns are part of why we LOVE living in Vienna!

Right here in small town Vienna, we have one of the premier music venues in the country - America's National Park For The Performing Arts. The initial 53 acres of land for this park was originally purchased (and later donated) by Catherine Shouse for $5,300 (don’t you wish you could buy land around here for $100 an acre!) and she named the farm “Wolf Trap Farm”.

From late May to early September each year, people enjoy the outdoor amphitheatre known as The Filene Center. (People like us who have grown up here just call this “Wolftrap”.) The Filene Center seats about 7,000 people. The Barns, on the other hand, is an intimate facility that probably seats less than 200 people. It is made up of two 18th century barns that were restored & rebuilt using only 18th century methods with hand -hewn beams & panels. It’s simply gorgeous and the acoustics are phenomenal.

The Barns' season runs from October through May, so you only have a few chances left to catch a show there this season. We made the most of that opportunity on Saturday night when we attended Bandhouse Gigs' "Tribute To Rod Stewart". This isn't the first time Bandhouse Gigs has brought one of their tribute shows to The Barns and hopefully it won't be their last - because IT ROCKED!

If you've never caught a Bandhouse Gigs "gig" before, let me explain. Basically, it's a gathering of the premier rock n roll royalty of the DC music scene. Musicians and singers from all different bands and various genres gather together for a one or two night show. Musicians mix and match - and they pay tribute to whomever the chosen artist is. Previous shows have celebrated Neil Young, Nils Lofgren, Bob Dylan, Nick Lowe, Joni Mitchell, Warren Zevon, Allen Toussaint, Paul Simon, the British Invasion, Woodstock & The Byrds. It's an incredible opportunity to see so many top notch musicians - all at one time, in one place and for just one ticket price! It's a great way to scope people out & see who you might want to see again on their own.

Saturday's show was a tribute to Rod Stewart - great timing since while we were watching the Tribute Show, Rod & The Faces were actually being inducted to the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame! Here's a list of just SOME of the musicians who participated:
  • Tad Wadhams
  • Scott Kurt
  • Ronnie Newmyer
  • Patty Reese
  • Paul Bell
  • Mike Cotter
  • Louie Newmyer
  • John Jennings
  • Jim Clatterbuck
  • Janine Wilson
  • Greg Hardin
  • Doug Tull
  • Daryl Davis
  • Buddy Griffin
  • Billy Coulter
  • Bill Wadhams
  • Andy Shriver
  • Akira Otsuka
  • Bill Craig
  • Bill Starks
  • Brandon Ehrgood
  • Chuck Sullivan
  • Dary Jr. Cline
  • Eric Scott
  • Helen Hausmann
  • Jeff Watson
  • Joe Romero
  • Jon Carroll
  • Mark Walston
  • Max Evans
  • Paul Pisciotta
  • Rico Petruccelli
  • Seth Kibel
  • Spencer Hoopes
Like I said, this is the royalty of the DC music scene. Musicicans listed above include Grammy Award winners & WAMMIE Award winners and have performed with the likes of Sheryl Crow, Steve Miller, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Ringo Starr & Nils Lofgren. One of them even was the piano player for the King of Rock N Roll - Chuck Berry!

It's always hard to tell at a Bandhouse Gigs tribute, who is having more fun - the folks in the audience or the folks on stage.  After all, most of these musicians don't get an opportunity to see one another perform. You can't be two places at once, so if your band is playing, you can't very well catch someone else's! EXCEPT at a Bandhouse Gigs tribute. And boy do they guys (and gals) have fun!

I don't know the answer to the question of who has the MOST fun, but I do know that I loved it. It's hard to pick out highlights - especially with this kind of star studded cast, but let's pick three who I thought stole the show:

John Carroll - the consummate Washington DC area musician. You might recognize him from back in the day when he was part of Starland Vocal Band and had his own TV show. But he's had a long, storied career since then, playing both solo and with a number of nationally knows artists. I started following John when I was a kid (ie- a LONG time ago). He'd play piano at my best friend's house and the way he could tickle those ivories mesmerized me - and it still blows me away today. Then you add his frenetic energy & great voice. And boy is he fun to watch. I especially liked his version of "I'm Losing You".

Tad Wadhams - If you were around in the early MTV days, then you might remember Tad. His band Animotion's video "Obsession" was played on MTV a LOT!

On Saturday, Tad definitely livened things up.  Ronnie Neumyer, co-founder of Bandhouse Gigs, said "I love a man who knows how to wear a wig and crawl on a piano." Well, guess what? So did we!

Daryl Davis - OK, this guy stole the show. Some people just have that "it" factor. And Daryl has IT! From the second he came onstage, you knew something special was going to happen. This man can PLAY! Not only did he play the piano - but he played the electric guitar - - - - - BACKWARDS. Daryl had the crowd on its feet.

The night ended with more than 30 musicians on stage and a fabulously fun five minute version of  "If I Knew Then What I Know Now". Of so true!

Two more Bandhouse Gigs shows are in the works (tributes to Stevie Wonder & a re-creation of The Band's "The Last Waltz"), but we're waiting for the next time they come back to The Barns. Because when you live in Vienna, you get spoiled. After the 3 hour show, we popped into our car & were home in less than 5 minutes. Now THAT'S what I'm talking about!

If you'd like to catch a show at The Barns before the season ends, here's what's coming up:

Jim Brickman (pop pianist)
Jeri Sager (Broadway sensation)
John McCutcheon (folk singer/songwriter)
Joyce Yang (piano)
The Nields (sisters folk duo)
Tom Principato Band (blues rock)
25th Annual Evening of Comedy

THE BARNS - Just another reason why we LOVE living in Vienna!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Spring Break is over for Fairfax County Public Schools and Guest Blogger Dave Graham is back in town with the final report for the James Madison High School baseball team's tournament adventure. Congrats to the Warhawks!

The Wildkits from Evanston Township High School in Evanston, Illinois, upset the team from California that Madison had beaten in eleven innings to set up a contest with Madison for the Hall of Fame Spring Classic championship.  Pitching on short rest Tim Davis brought a tired but still effective arm to the mound and a big bat to the plate in leading the Warhawks to a 4-2 victory.  Coach Mark “Pudge” Gjormand later noted, “I thought we were a little edgy and lethargic at the start of the game playing an afternoon game the day after an evening game.  We really played six games this week because of the extra inning game.  I think we grew up some; it was a team week and everyone contributed.”
Evanston, fresh from an 11-5 thumping of the Narbonne Gauchos, handed the starting assignment to Charlie Binford, a crafty little lefty.  He retired the side in order on only nine pitches in the top of the first.

Madison countered with Davis for this Thursday afternoon game.  He had also started the first game of the tournament Monday morning throwing 59 pitches in four shutout innings against the team from McMinn, Tennessee.  He recorded the first two outs on grounders to second then Connor Hackett sliced a single to left field.  Jeremias Delgado bounced another single through the left side but Davis ended the threat on a fly to right.
Nate Favero was hit by a pitch leading off the second.  He advanced to second on Livingston’s grounder through the wickets at shortstop.  Catcher Delgado picked Favero off second with a superb throw to the shortstop covering.  Logan Claybrook got a pitch up and drilled it for a single up the middle to put runners at first and second.  Binford got the second out on strikes with Delgado hanging onto a tipped strike three to set up the pivotal play of the game.

Davis fought off a two strike pitch before stroking a sinking liner to right on a 1-2 offering.  The right fielder came racing in and dove headlong for the ball but instead did a face plant and the ball trickled behind him.  The impact stunned the right fielder so the center fielder had to come over to retrieve the ball.  Livingson scored easily from second and after almost stopping at third Claybrook was waved home too.  Davis had to hold at first because the ball was in shallow right meaning that Claybrook scored from first on a single.  Jake Hall entered as a courtesy runner and stole second but the inning ended on a ground out.  The Warhawks had grabbed an early two run lead.

Davis protected the lead in the bottom of the second with a 1-2-3 inning finishing with a pair of backwards K’s as both batters stood paralyzed by two strike breaking balls.

Andy McGuire led off the third.  He drove a ball deep to right leading off the game and had pummeled numerous balls to the outfield throughout the tourney.  With the outfield back he was able to parachute a single in front of the oncoming right fielder.  Fooled by the lefty’s motion, he took off for second and was out when first baseman Max Siedlecki relayed the pickoff attempt to shortstop Alex Vergara who made the tag.  With two outs Jonny Graham jumped on a pitch and lasered a double into the right field corner.  The inning ended on a pop to short.

With one out in the bottom of the third Davis issued back to back walks to the first two hitters in the Wildkit order.  He recovered to get the third and fourth hitters who had singled back to back in the first to extinguish the threat.

Livingston led off the fourth and drilled a 3-2 pitch to the gap in right but center fielder Evan Binford made a nice play to run it down.  His brother Charlie retired the next two hitters on just four pitches.

Brandon Vamarsi led off the bottom of the fourth by grounding a single just under the shortstop’s diving attempt.  Siedliecki got new life on a dropped foul pop and took advantage by slapping the seventh pitch of the at bat to center.  With runners at first and second, Luke Hackett bunted toward third and Justin Padgett made a good play to get the out at first with the sacrifice putting runners in scoring position.  After a called strike three Evan Binford grounded a 2-2 pitch up the middle to score a run and put runners at the corners as Graham hurriedly returned the ball to the infield.  Vergara walked to load the bases but Davis once again escaped, this time with an infield fly.  He labored through 80 pitches in four innings striking out three.  Despite giving up five hits and three walks he managed to strand seven runners and surrendered only one unearned run.  It was a gutsy effort pitching on short rest under the Florida sun.

Davis and Binford locked up in an epic battle to start the fifth.  After falling behind 0-2, Davis fouled off four two strike pitches.  Finally on a 2-2 pitch he stroked a bouncer up the middle past the shortstop’s dive for a lead off single.  Hall again entered as a courtesy runner.  When Padgett missed a 1-0 bunt attempt Hall moved to second as the catcher threw the ball away trying to pick him off first.  Hall alertly tagged up and hauled to third when Padgett flew out to center on a full count pitch.  With two outs the swift Ben Socher easily beat out a high chopper the second baseman backhanded to bring home an important insurance run.  The inning ended when left fielder Hackett made a splendid diving catch to rob Graham of an extra base tweener.

In the bottom of the fifth the Warhawks brought in southpaw Henry Brandmark to protect a 3-1 lead.  He breezed through the 3-4-5 hitters on only eight pitches setting them down in order ending with a called K.

After 77 pitches, the Wildkits pulled Binford in favor of Josh Isenstein.  Favero jumped on a 3-1 offering and lashed a single over the leaping second baseman.  He stole second and moved to third as Livingston flew out to right on a good piece of two strike hitting.  Claybrook chose to wear a pitch on his sleeve to put runners at the corners.  Beau Overholt pinch hit and on the first pitch executed a perfect bunt to first to drive in Favero and move Claybrook to second.  Tommy Kyllo pinch ran at second and Evanston brought in Jack Anderson who threw one pitch to end the inning.  Playing small ball pushed the Madison lead to 4-1.

In the bottom of the sixth Hall came in to play center with Graham sliding over to left.  After surrendering a one out walk Brandmark buckled down to get a swinging strike out on a full count.  He punctuated a brilliant two inning stint on three pitches for another backwards K to end the inning.

The Wildkits brought in Matt Munro in the top of the seventh to pitch and he quickly retired the side in order.

McGuire came in to close in the bottom of the seventh facing the top of Evanston’s order with Padgett sliding over to short and Dan Powers entering the game to play third.  On a 3-2 count lead off hitter Vergara lined one back at McGuire who narrowly averted disaster by deflecting the ball with his pitching hand.  He fell with his back on the ground as the ball trickled toward third and Vergara sped to first.  Fortunately the ball hit the fleshy part of his palm so after a few warm ups tosses he stayed in the game.  He recovered to record a three pitch strike out but then issued a six pitch walk to Hackett.  Delgado drove a single to right but Socher returned the ball to the infield quickly and down by three runs the runner held at third to load the bases.  Working from the wind up, McGuire uncorked a wild pitch on an 0-2 count to move everyone up 90 feet and score a run.  McGuire got another swinging K on the next pitch for the second out.  The game ended with Padgett ranging far to his left to gobble up a chopper behind second base and fire a bullet to first for the final out.
The victory gave the Warhawks a well deserved tournament championship as they  swept through the week with a perfect 5-0 record.  This win typified the streak as many players contributed and execution of little things made the difference.  Coach Gjormand summed it up by saying, “Tim did a good job pitching on short rest; his hitting was just as important.  Henry did a great job and Andy showed some toughness in coming back from being hit on his pitching hand.  It was great to get a trophy at the end of the week.  Hopefully there are more in front of us.”

Friday, April 6, 2012


Congratulations to the James Madison High School baseball team! We received two updates after our posting on Wednesday. Here's what we heard happened next:

"We beat a team from Coral Springs, FL tonight 3-0. Nate Favero pitched a three hit complete game shutout. We will play for the championship tomorrow."

AND THEN . . . .

"We won 4-1 against a team from Evanston, Illinois!"


Wednesday, April 4, 2012


It may be Spring Break time here in Vienna, but the James Madison baseball team & our Guest Blogger Dave Graham are still working hard. Here's a recap of their first Spring Break Tournament game down in Florida:

On a beautiful Florida morning the Madison Warhawks kicked off the Hall of Fame Spring Classic Tournament against the McMinn County High School Cherokees from Athens, Tennessee, with a 10-0 win in a game shortened to five innings.  The players had to get up before 6:00 am and had not practiced in three days and it showed.  Madison snoozed to a 1-0 lead before breaking out for seven runs in the fourth inning aided by a shabby McMinn defense that made five errors.  Coach Mark “Pudge” Gjormand later noted, “Our guys did a great job answering the bell for an early game after three days off.  We brought good energy under some different circumstances.”
Matt James got the starting nod for McMinn and Andy McGuire greeted him by roping a 1-1 pitch to left field for a single.  Moving the ball and mixing his pitches, James retired the next three hitters in order.

Tim Davis took the mound for Madison and after a fly out and a called strike out Corey Wade flared a single to right field.  The inning ended on a fly out.
Matt Livingston dropped a single into center to lead off the second.  With one out, his aggressive lead off second distracted the third baseman who fielded a grounder but couldn’t decide whether to try to get Livingston off second or throw to first so everyone was safe putting runners at first and second.  The inning ended when second baseman Wade backhanded a grounder up the middle and made a nifty play to tag the runner and throw to first to complete a twin killing.

James walked leading off the bottom of the second and Corey Edgemon entered as a courtesy runner.  With the middle infielders shading second, second baseman Nate Favero ranged far to his left to make a superb diving stop of a grounder and scramble to his feet to get the out at first with the runner taking second.  As Davis was working on a strike out, catcher Jack Anzilotti alertly noticed the runner dancing off second.  On a swinging strike three Anzilotti rifled the ball down to shortstop McGuire who threw to Justin Padgett as the startled runner broke for third.  Padgett raced back toward second and made the tag for the third out on a K-2-6-5 double play that was as well executed as it was unusual.
In the top of the third Ben Socher slapped a two out single to the hole at shortstop and handily beat the throw to first.  He stole second as Jonny Graham drew a walk.  On a breaking ball in the dirt that squirted away from the catcher, Socher sped to third and the catcher threw to second to try to get the trailing runner.  In a heady play, Graham slammed on the brakes and got in a rundown.  Socher picked his spot and bolted home as McMinn eventually tagged Graham out but not before Socher had crossed the plate to give the Warhawks a 1-0 lead.

First baseman Livingston began the bottom half of the frame making a nice play to field an in between hop and step on the bag for the out.  After a walk Davis escaped trouble with a strike out and a soft liner to second.

The decisive fourth began inauspiciously with Favero getting hit on the foot with a breaking ball as he was around to bunt.  Livingston laid a beautiful bunt single down the line that the third baseman was unable to field.  Logan Claybrook drew a walk to load the bases.  Favero loped home on a passed ball as all three runners moved up 90 feet.  With the infield in, the shortstop muffed a backhanded attempt at a grounder allowing Livingston to score with Claybrook taking third and Evan Jacquez aboard at first.  With runners at the corners, Claybrook scored when the throw to second in an attempt to nail Jacquez stealing went awry.  Jacquez scooted to third on the play and came home on a wild pitch. 
After a strike out, Padgett grounded to third and wound up at second after the throw was offline.  McGuire laced a liner to the gap in right for an RBI as Padgett streaked home and McGuire took second on an error by the outfielder.  Socher attempted to bunt for a hit and got all the way to third when the throw went down the right field line enabling McGuire to score.  Graham scored Socher with an RBI ground out and Favero crushed a triple to the gap in left.  The inning ended on another ground out but Madison had manufactured seven runs.  It wasn’t pretty but it blew the game open.

After a strike out to start the fourth, Alex Vinroe and James worked back to back walks.  On a hard hit grounder up the middle, Favero, McGuire and Livingston dialed 4-6-3 for a slick rally killing double play.
The Cherokees brought Tyler Biddle in to pitch in the top of the fifth.  Claybrook timed an outside pitch and drove a lead off double down the right field line.  After a ground out the ball got away from the catcher on strike three. The catcher’s throw to first was wild allowing Claybrook to score with the batter cruising into second.  Beau Overholt moved to third on a wild pitch as Justin Padgett was walking to put runners at first and third.  Padgett stole second and on a shallow fly to left the throw home got away from the catcher allowing Overholt to score.  The inning ended on a well hit ball to center.

Davis was done pitching after four innings and 59 pitches.  He yielded no runs giving up one hit while walking four and whiffing four.  Henry Brandmark came in to pitch the fifth and after a lead off ground out gave up a walk to Biddle and Treavor Crisp rolled a single through a gaping hole on the left side.  Brandmark bore down and struck out the top two batters in the line up to close the game out.  Anzilotti made a nice block of the final pitch and threw to first for the last out.
But for McMinn’s defensive implosion in the fourth it would have been a close game.  Coach Gjormand summed it up by saying, “Tim wasn’t at his sharpest today but he kept them off balance.  I thought we applied pressure and created our own breaks.”