Observations from Home (The It Is Still the Christmas Season Edition)

Brown Family Photo by John Thorne 12 20 15

The Browns on December 20th – Andrew and Claire’s 23rd birthday (photo by John Thorne)

If it is the Christmas season, it means that the Browns are likely to have a new family photo taken by our friend John Thorne.

(Blog interruption:  For those who may be wondering about the use of Christmas language after New Year’s Day, just think of the 12 Days of Christmas.  That’s how we celebrate at the Brown home.)

I’ve written before about the fact that we wouldn’t have family photos if not for John.  Thankfully, he showed up at church on December 20th and asked if we would like a family picture.  All four of us were there, and it was also Andrew and Claire’s 23rd birthday.  A perfect day to capture the family for 2015!

John used two settings, with two different cameras.  At the top you see us in the church yard, while the photo below shows the Washington National Cathedral in the background.

Browns at the Cathedral

Andrew, Candice, Claire and DJB on December 20, 2015 (Photo by John Thorne)

What a wonderful gift for the Christmas season.  Thank you John!

Speaking of getting the family together:  I’ve been hinting over the past couple of months that I’d like to round out my “family” of Racing Presidents’ bobbleheads…and my wonderful wife heard me.  Bill Taft was under the tree this year, and today he took his position on my desk with the “Mount Rushmore 4” and Calvin Coolidge.

Racing Presidents

George, Tom, Abe, Teddy, Bill, and Cal…your Washington Nationals “Racing Presidents”

I’ll have to admit that collecting racing president bobbleheads is a great deal less expensive than G.A.S. (aka Guitar Acquisition Syndrome).

Now, if you don’t know what the racing presidents do, here’s a little sample…from the last race of 2015.

And remember…only 44 days until pitchers and catchers report!  (Thank you Spring Training Countdown!)

Here’s hoping you found what you wanted under your tree this holiday season!

Happy New Year!

More to come…



Family, Friends, Food (Or How Candice and I Spent a Wonderful Weekend With Our Daughter)

Candice and DJB with ClaireFor the second weekend in a row, we’ve enjoyed time at college with one of the twins and are the richer for the experience.

I had appointments that took me to Los Angeles for two days late last week. Candice joined me so that as work wrapped up, we could take the short drive east to Claremont for a visit with Claire and her friends.

Claire’s friends are much like her – sharp, inquisitive, interested in others, outgoing, and easy to be around. When we arrived on Friday evening, we stopped by Claire’s senior dorm suite and then headed to The Junction for an evening of small plates, laughter, and conversation with her suite-mates.

These three young women all come from the west coast (California and Oregon) and have bonded over swimming, academics, and their shared optimism for life. We have known two of these young ladies for three years now, and have enjoyed getting to know the third over the course of this year. They all seem to be taking in everything the college experience has to offer.

Calire and her suitemates

The Pomona-Pitzer Swim & Dive team hosted a relay invitational on Saturday afternoon…which arrived with some of the first meaningful rain in Southern California in ages and cool temperatures that felt much more like Providence – where we were last week – than a typical fall weekend in Claremont.

PP Swim MeetBut Claire and the rest of the Sagehens took it all in stride. This was their season opening swim meet and we had a blast watching the team, which has grown progressively stronger during Claire’s four years. Like most of her teammates, she swam in multiple relays – even competing in her first breaststroke in some time. We may not be able to see another of Claire’s college swim meets live before she graduates, so even in the dampness and cold, we savored every minute.

Claire with friends at Bardot

Later that evening we joined Claire and three friends who bonded early in their freshman year for a time of family updates, laughter, post-graduate plans, and good food. All four had been away from Pomona during portions of their junior year, and it was clear they were enjoying being back together on a regular basis.

Sunday – with the extra hour of sleep – was just what we needed.  The weather was perfect – more like we expect when we travel to California. After a slow rise and some exercise, we met Claire downtown at the wonderful Claremont Farmers Market, where we filled up bags with cheese, nuts, and fruits for her suite.  Then we met another group of friends for brunch in the dining hall, with yet another set of lively conversations.

As we dropped Claire off tonight after a tapas dinner in the village, I thought of the last time we parted in front of Pomona Hall. This time there were no tears, just hugs, kisses and thankfulness for time spent with such a wonderful group of friends.

Thank you, Sweetheart, for the terrific weekend.

More to come…


The “Not All Who Wander Are Lost Tour” Lives On!

Claire and DJB with MapRegular readers will recall those intrepid travelers – Claire and David – making their way cross-country in August on what I dubbed the “Not All Who Wander Are Lost” tour. For twenty days, father and daughter crossed this great land, all the while keeping readers of More to Come… updated on our travels with daily posts, photos, and stories. It was a once-in-a-lifetime bucket list adventure for both of us.

So you can imagine my delight when Claire told us a few weeks ago that she had placed a map of the US on the wall in her dorm room, with the route outlined and photos from the trip displayed along the way.

Old school wall posting.  Oh my…do I love that daughter of mine!

The first thing I did when Candice and I walked into Claire’s dorm room on this late October/early November “she’s not coming home for Thanksgiving so we’re going out to see her” visit, was to go and see THE MAP.

And I wasn’t disappointed.

Tour Map Overview

Just look at that beauty.  Twenty days of memories captured in one place, with the route marked and pictures pointing to the places we had visited along the way.

As Andrew and Claire were growing up, we had a map of the world on our downstairs wall.  We encouraged friends who were traveling to send us postcards from far away places. When the postcards arrived, we would post them on the wall and attach yarn to the back, which then stretched to a pin located in the appropriate city or country.  It was a great way to learn world geography (we have a lot of friends who travel extensively) and it stayed up until we painted the house sometime in high school.

Eastern portion of the tour

Claire used that map as her inspiration.  She shows us at the beginning of the trip – with the picture by the rental car outside our house on the morning of August 1st – and then heading up to Cleveland (first of three baseball stadium pictures) and Chicago. Our You Want Nutrition, Eat Carrots! day in Madison is captured as well, with that delicious ice cream cone photo.  (That was the top-rated post from the trip, BTW.)

Central Time edition map

Here you can see Claire’s part of the map I dubbed the Central Time Edition in one of several Observations from the Road.  Seeing the world’s largest ball of twine rolled by one person, our second baseball stadium (Target Field in Minneapolis), and fields of sunflowers were among the highlights.

Western tour

End of the road map

The last two portions highlight the western and coastal route of the trip, along with our arrival in Claremont.  I’m not going to say much about these photos or I’ll start crying again, but you can get a sense of my gratefulness for this trip in The Thankfulness Edition of Observations From the Road.  Candice, Claire, and I are going out to dinner on Sunday evening at the same restaurant where I wrote that final post…and had to put on sunglasses so that the waitress wouldn’t call the manager because of my tears. Sunday should be much more joyful!

What father wouldn’t want to come into his daughter’s dorm room and see their special time together posted in such a wonderful way on the wall.

She is one in a million.

More to come…


Images in Black and White

I’ve always loved black-and-white photography.

In college I learned my way around a dark room and can still remember the thrill of seeing a photo appear on a blank piece of paper submerged in a tray of chemicals.

So naturally, I was overjoyed when our daughter Claire – then a freshman in high school – expressed interest in learning old-style black-and-white photography.

Over the course of the past three years, she’s produced some wonderful pictures.  She has a great eye and has become more adventuresome each year.

Now as she wraps up her work in high school, she’s put together a small gallery of 12 photos from her class.  Click on the link and you’ll see what she’s posted.

And I’ll end below with a photo of Claire’s that’s now on prominent display in her school’s gallery.  This is a picture she took this summer at Mohonk Mountain House which looks like a time piece out of the 1940s. Can you tell…I think she’s great!

More to come…


Our Year in Photos – 2009

Claire & Andrew As we approach Thanksgiving 2009, the Browns are taking the time to give thanks for a year full of joy, sorrow, good friends, good health and visits to wonderful places.

Last year’s photos posted at Thanksgiving were a hit for family and friends, so I’ve again placed a number of photographs from throughout the year on More to Come….  They include places we’ve been, time with family and friends, and special events in our lives.  If you put your cursor over the photo, the caption will magically appear.

At the top of the post you’ll see our lovely children, Andrew and Claire, on the night we were headed to the Kennedy Center for the Cappies.  Andrew was part of a musical quartet in his high school’s production of The Music Man that was nominated for a Cappie Award (the high school equivalent of the Tony Awards).  You’ll find more photos of all the Browns below.

We had a blessed year and hope you’ll enjoy the photos.

More to come…


Bratislava Old Town

David with S.K. Misra of the Indian National Trust and S.K.'s niece Cezanne in Bratislava

Our Family at Claire's 16th birthday party

Claire at her 16th birthday party

Claire on the Mall for President Obama's Inaguration

Andrew and other former WNC Choristers with Dr. James Litton (left) at Princeton - Dr. Litton was their first choirmaster at the Cathedral


Playing bluegrass with my nephew Joseph (banjo) and brother Joe (guitar) at Joe's house in March

David with his father and sister Debbie in March 2009

The Brown and Crocker Cousins with Granddaddy

The David Brown and Joe Brown Cousins in March at Joe and Kerry's House

The "Music Man" Barbershop Quartet at the Cappies (Andrew on the right) - June 2009

Andrew on the coast of Northern Ireland

Touring Northern Ireland (photo by Andrew)

Andrew and Claire (right) with friends for the Franklin Knolls "Green and Mean" swim meet

Andrew getting ready to swim in the 2009 Divisonals

Claire (left) and Molly Branscom at the 2009 Divisionals

At the 2009 Gator Swim Team Banquet

Claire (left) and her Swim Team Friends at the 2009 Gator Swim Team Banquet

Ready for a crab feast with our friends the Van Names and the Foster-Crowders

David with colleagues from the National Trust of Taiwan at the International Conference of National Trusts in Dublin, September 2009

David with Mike and Susan Neuman in the Temple Bar Neighborhood in Dublin

David opening the National Preservation Conference Plenary at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville

Sitting in for some Bluegrass with Off The Wagon in Nashville in October

Candice and Claire Nov 2009