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Half of 2011 has elapsed; in the blink of an eye, my toddler daughter is reading letters, my baby son wants to walk, and the music of our lives (sentimental, isn’t it?) for the first half of the year is in heavy rotation on White Oak. By the way, young McLain has shown a prodigious talent for percussion. His style reminds me of Lionel Hampton in form and Claude Coleman in flare, although at 9.5 months, it might be a bit early to put labels on him.

Also, one day last week, I was playing Purity Ring’s “Ungirthed“. On a whim, I switched to a Wes Montgomery song. Jackie heard the smooth jazz guitar and asked me, “What happened to the jams?” Talk about your priceless parental moments — it was my daughter’s first critical + music-related comment. I was proud, and I honored her request.

This post is not a lame attempt to describe the best of the first half of the year. If that kind of thing strikes your fancy, you can find it at NPR Music or Paste or somewhere.

Here are the albums we’ve, or I’ve, been listening to this year, even though the last three in the list were released in 2010. Even though there seems to be an ever-increasing number of exceptional (and free) mixtapes, I didn’t include those in the list.

Note: My favorites (so far) are denoted with an asterisk, and albums are listed in order of acquisition, most recent first.

Bon IverBon Iver

Shabazz PalacesBlack Up*

Random AxeRandom Axe

Junior BoysIt’s All True*

BurialStreet Halo (EP)

My Morning JacketCircuital

Wild BeastsSmother*

Fleet FoxesHelplessness Blues

Drive-By TruckersGo-Go Boots

Curren$y x The AlchemistCover Coup

Panda BearTomboy*

The DodosNo Color*

Frank OceanNostalgia/Ultra

AustraFeel It Break

The WeekndHouse of Balloons*

RadioheadKing of Limbs

Cut CopyZonoscope

Smith WesternsDye It Blonde

jjKills Mixtape

Lower DensTwin-Hand Movement

The Tallest Man on EarthThe Wild Hunt*

Other music notes:

  • I’ve been using Amazon Cloud Player quite a bit.
  • I’ve been experimenting with Google Music, even though it’s another online locker for music like Amazon Cloud.
  • Ultimately, I’m waiting for Spotify to come to the I can jump head-first into a subscription service.

I won’t even begin to list my reasons for not updating this blog sooner — there are more important things to talk about. In fact, I’m considering holding this blog hostage until my demands for a new home computer are met by my wife. Maybe it will take a Lion to convince her.

Before I get to the visuals, the past month brought us two major developments:

My grandmother died at age 97, early on Saturday, May 29. Her funeral was Wednesday. I want to write about that in a different post.

Holly and Scott Freeling gave birth to Robert Joseph Freeling (R.J. for short) about a month ago. They will be excellent parents, and I can’t wait to meet R.J.

Now, about this post. I was flipping through the photos I’ve taken with my phone over the past six months, and a few weird ones jumped out at me. I’ve also included some not-so-weird images, just so you don’t start worrying about me unnecessarily.

Katie got an interesting awesome Mother’s Day present, and Jackie and I have since been hunting down winged intruders in our house. Our hunting is done humanely — we’re all about catch and release around here. Here’s a picture of a fly, post-catch and pre-release.

Photo of a trapped fly, taken from the mouth of a discharged Fly-Goodbye vacuum canister.

Here are a couple choice images from our 20 minutes inside the Amococo exhibit at Artsplosure a few weeks ago.

Katie and Jackie breaking on through to the other side.

Jackie taking a break from all the psychedelia.

This is one of many ways Jackie likes to help out with McLain.

Jackie strolling McLain, somewhere downtown.

Jackie and I met and chatted with a real falconer for awhile.

Here’s an unintentionally spooky picture of Baxter quivering with fear in the bath tub. Let me explain. We had some heavy weather in Raleigh this past spring. As in other parts of the country, a lot of people in Raleigh and the rest of NC were victims of tornadoes. You would think by looking at him that he’s waiting out a storm. He’s not. Whenever Baxter hears a lawnmower outside, he gets completely terrified and goes to his safe place.

Here’s McLain and me. If you haven’t met him, trust me when I say he’s extremely cool.

I took this one right after Christmas. It’s the kind of picture you could hand to students in a creative writing class and say, “Write the short story. You have one hour to complete this final exam.” My father and I were attempting to show Jackie a real (and dead but frozen) bird up close. She wasn’t sure what to make of the brief experience. I love the picture though. Note the portrait of Rich, Maggie, and me hanging on the wall. Also note the small rubber chicken under Jackie’s hand.

Learning about birds

Katie entertains us before lunch at Busy Bee Cafe.

Prosthetic Play Doh nose

Here’s a pic of the two drooliest and downright sweetest members of the Jones family.

Slobber buddies

Image from Raleigh

Urban dirt-biking

I took this post-apocalyptic picture outside Jones Barber Shop in Raleigh last year.