Saturday, June 30, 2007

Wagon Train, Forward Ho!

Last evening, I returned safely from Baltimore, and my brothers and my older brother’s family arrived safely from New York and Denver.

All of us arrived later than expected—late Friday afternoon/early Friday evening is just about the most unfavorable time to fly, and Northwest has been having lots of problems of late, which only added to an already-bad situation—but my parents were prepared for that eventuality. They kept checking our flight statuses online, and we kept calling them, and we kept sending them email messages, apprising them of our progress. As a result, my parents did not have to go to the airport until shortly before our arrivals, which saved them lots of unnecessary waiting.

We had a late but grand dinner last night in honor of everyone’s arrival—stuffed roast chickens, homemade butter noodles, mashed potatoes, fresh peas, glazed carrots, fried okra, and homemade cranberry-orange relish, with homemade apple pie and homemade ice cream for dessert—and my uncle had his first opportunity to see my brothers in many, many years. We had a lovely and long dinner, sitting around the dining table and talking long after everyone was done eating.

Today my brothers and Josh and I went to play racquetball, and then we went swimming, but otherwise we remained home all day, playing with my nephew and helping my mother get everything ready for our trip up to the lake.

There is a lot of food to get ready and packed, because it will take a lot of food to feed nine persons and one dog for seven days. We have the hampers packed, but we will not pack the coolers until tomorrow, shortly before we depart.

Because of the number of persons and the amount of provisions involved, we will be driving three vehicles up to the lake tomorrow--in what Joshua has termed “a wagon train”. My parents and my uncle will go in my father’s car, my older brother and his family will go in my mother’s car, and Joshua and my middle brother and I will go in my car.

We three will take the dog with us.

I think we will let the dog drive, as surely he knows the way by now.

We will leave early tomorrow afternoon, after church and after lunch.

I cannot wait.


  1. Thanks for posting your entire itinerary. After reading your most recent post, I was hoping you'd do so. Your plans sound exhausting. I speed-read through them, so I don't know if your parents (about my age) will be a part of or can physically manage the whirlwind.

    I haven't been to London since 1956. Do you think that your itinerary would be a good one for someone like me (that is, a newbie with art, musical, theater and historical interests)? Or would you recommend other sights for a first trip back in 50 years?

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Andrew, you have a beautiful blog.

    I want you to know I went to a lot of trouble to comment on your blog. I had a lot of trouble creating a google account and I had a lot of trouble leaving a comment. Why does google make it so hard?

    My wife and I wish we could have met you while you were attending law school here in Washington. We are exactly twice as old as you are. We are way out of your age bracket but we wish we could have met you.

    I found your blog by a long and circuitous route. My wife and I will be visiting her sister in Denver at the end of the month and we were reading online about the Denver Art Museum.

    I started by reading Tyler Green's dismissal of the museum. Tyler Green is a Washington art critic. He recently visited the museum and he harshly criticized it. He said the same thing you said. He said there was no worthwhile art on display.

    From Tyler Green, we read other webistes and blogs that mentioned the museum. One was the blog of a Denver person and this Denver blog referred to your blog. This is how we found your blog in the first place.

    My wife and I read your blog straight through three times. We did so through two thunderstorms and a tornado warning.

    I want to offer two comments.

    First, you should not stop blogging. There are a lot of nuts out there and you should ignore nuts and fools and mean people. There will always be people who will say mean, foolish, stupid things. My advice is to ignore them.

    Second, I have a renewed faith in the future of America if there are young men like you out there. If we are still producing young men like you, the country will always be in good hands. My wife and I found it very comforting that young men like you still exist.

    So ignore the nuts. Ignore stupid people. Ignore people who say unkind things. These people are unworthy of your notice.

    And who the hell are those damn fools who think the San Francisco Symphony is any good? Are they deaf? Or merely stupid? You were far too kind to those damn fools. My wife and I are WPAS subscribers and we have heard San Francisco many times. It's the worst American orchestra that gets presented here.

    I hate to leave a comment and not leave my name. My name is Ron Brown.

  4. Andrew, the comment deleted was us.

    We were having trouble figuring out how to comment. Finally we did a test comment with a lot of XXXXX's. When we finally saw we were commenting correctly, we deleted the XXXXX comment. We didn't know it would show up as a deleted comment.

    Ron Brown

  5. Drew:

    Thanks for dinner last week, and the game of tennis. I will reciprocate if I ever manage to make it to Edina.

    Drew, please call me as soon as you get back. I left a message and an email at your office.

    One of our classmates drowned over July 4.


  6. Hello, David, and all best wishes to you. I trust things are going well with you.

    Have you been to the new addition of the Nelson-Atkins yet? I am eager to hear what you think of it.

    With respect to your question about our London itinerary, I would definitely suggest that you ignore it for any trip to London. It is a very specific itinerary, designed to meet very specific needs and interests.

    If you have not been to London for a while, the first five things you should insist upon seeing are: (1) The Tower Of London; (2) The British Museum; (3) Westminster Abbey; (4) Saint Paul’s Cathedral; and (5) Hampton Court Palace.

    After the visitor has seen those five key attractions, the next five, for most people, would be: (1) a boat ride down The Thames to Greenwich, followed by a visit to the Greenwich naval complex designed by Christopher Wren; (2) a visit to Windsor Castle, which is open for much of the year; (3) a visit to the attractions in Southwark, such as Southwark Cathedral and The Globe Theater and some other small museums and historic sites all bunched together in close proximity; (4) a visit to the British Galleries at The Victoria And Albert Museum; and (5) a visit to one of the art museums, depending upon what kind of art the visitor most wants to view.

    Almost all visitors to London go see the exteriors of Buckingham Palace and The Houses Of Parliament. However, the interiors of those buildings are closed to the public for most of the year.

    The art museum I would most strongly recommend you visit is London’s National Gallery Of Art. It is one of the two or three or four finest art museums in the world. Its collection ranges from the 14th through the 20th Centuries, and the collection is perfectly balanced between Italian, French, Flemish, Dutch, Spanish and British art--only German art gets short-changed, and German art is the Gallery’s current focus of acquisition—and it displays nothing but the very finest paintings by the very finest artists. Its collection is much better than anything we have in the U.S., primarily because members of the British nobility were snapping up Old Master paintings for 300 years before Americans began collecting, and because the heirs of the nobility have been coughing up those same Old Master paintings to the British government for over a century in lieu of paying draconian estate taxes. The best of those Old Master paintings have always been allotted to The National Gallery; lesser works are dispersed to regional museums in the provinces.

    I want to warn you, however, that The National Gallery is exhausting. It displays nothing but masterpieces, and most visitors can only get through two, three or four rooms in a visit before being overwhelmed. To view the whole collection, visitors have to make eight, nine or ten visits.

    The National Gallery is also generally mobbed. It attracts well over five million visitors each year, or almost 15,000 visitors per day. I would schedule any visit so as to arrive first thing in the morning, or very late in the afternoon, or on the evening of a late-night opening. Do NOT go to The National Gallery on a Sunday—on Sundays, the Gallery turns into a scene from “The Battleship Potemkin”.

  7. Mr. Brown:

    Well, thank you for such kind remarks. I am sorry that it took you so much trouble to enter comments on my blog.

    A month ago, as I remarked, I will cease blogging at the end of August. Blogging takes time, and I am getting busier and busier at work. However, in September, Joshua will start blogging, and it seems a little silly for both of us to blog at the same time.

    If you like, check back, now and again, to see what Josh has to say, and to keep up with what is going on with us.

    I thank you again for your kind words, and I extend all possible courtesies to you and Mrs. Brown.


  8. David:

    The best guide to London is the "Eyewitness" guide, published by Dorling Kindersley Limited.

    The full version is magnificent. It has no competition.

    There is also a shortened version of the same book, "Top 10 London", which is very convenient for the visitor to carry around.


  9. Andrew, my wife and I would like to tell you something. We hope none of this offends you, which is surely not our intent. If what we have to tell you causes offense, you have our most sincere apology.

    Andrew, we know who you are.

    My wife is a lawyer, and her first job out of law school was with the old white shoe firm Reid and Priest in New York, at the old 40 Wall Street address.

    My wife is an estates and trusts lawyer, and she spent the first five years of her legal career assisting senior Reid and Priest attorneys who handled your mother's family's trust work.

    She remembers having to go through many of your mother's family's old trusts, and pouring over old trust documents going as far back as the 1880's and 1890's. She remembers vividly having to go through a huge number of old trust documents from around 1910 or so and a huge number of old trust documents from the 1930's and 1940's.

    Andrew, she also remembers when you were born and when she had to prepare your first trust documents not long after your birth. It was one of her first assignments at Reid and Priest.

    My wife, whose name is Susan, met your maternal grandfather on three or four occasions when he visited 40 Wall Street. Susan remembers your grandfather very well. He was a very fine gentleman, loved and respected by all who knew him.

    Andrew, your grandfather told Susan and other attorneys at Reid and Priest that you and your two brothers were God's greatest gift to him and that your mother and you boys brought more joy into his life than anything else ever had. He loved you boys dearly.

    Andrew, I thought you might like to know with what great affection and love he talked about you boys.

    Andrew, Susan and I both remember when your grandfather died. We went online tonight and reread your grandfather's obituary on the New York Times website.

    Andrew, if you do not mind my asking, is your maternal grandmother still living? Susan is curious to know. Susan never met your grandmother.

    Andrew, if you also do not mind my asking, is your mother's oldest brother still living? Susan and I heard three or four years ago that he was very ill. Susan met him once.

    Andrew, now I must tell you something really bizarre.

    Andrew, my wife and I met you on October 12, 2004.

    We met you at the Austrian Embassy in Washington at a recital by Wolfgang Holzmair. Holzmair sang Brahms, Bartok and Janacek that night.

    Andrew, you were sitting next to Susan at that recital. You and Susan spoke briefly before the recital, and at intermission, and at the end of the recital. You attended the recital with a young lady with long red hair.

    Andrew, both Susan and I talked to you briefly during the reception after the recital.

    When you and the young lady left, an acquaintance of ours came up to us and asked us whether we knew who we had been talking to. We told him that we had been talking to a young law student. We found out from him that we had been talking not just to any law student, but to you. We were dumbfounded. We had had no idea that we had been sitting next to you, and talking to you.

    When we were done digesting that bit of news, we had wanted to turn the tables on our acqaintance and tell him that Susan had drafted trust documents for you right after your birth. However, we did not say anything to him, I assure you.

    Andrew, Susan and I saw you and that same young lady three more times in Washington.

    Susan and I saw you and the same young lady in January 2005 at the Kennedy Center Opera House at one of the performances of the Kirov Opera. We saw you and she strolling during an intermission.

    We saw you and the same young lady again just a few weeks or months later at a WPAS concert. We are trying to recall whether it was a concert by the Concertgebouw or some other orchestra.

    Andrew, we saw you and the same young lady several months later at the Corcoran Gallery.

    Andrew, I hope you do not mind my passing on these things. I simply thought that you might like to know.

    If you think we are stalkers, put your mind at rest. Have your father call John Danforth in the morning, whom your father knows, and who knows us very well. John will vouch that Susan and I are not crazed internet stalkers.

    Andrew, I am sorry to go on so long, but I honestly thought you might like to know the things I passed on to you.

    Susan and I have two boys who are exactly the same ages as you and Joshua. We also have a daughter, who is 19. Our oldest boy is an economist and works on Wall Street. Our next boy is in grad school pursuing an advanced degree in Japanese studies. Our daughter just completed her freshman year at Cornell.

    I will sign off now, but if you ever come to Washington on business, Susan and I would like to take you out to dinner. It would be our pleasure.

    Ron Brown

  10. Mr. Brown:

    I am speechless!

    I did have my father inquire about you, and I thank you for taking the time to write to me.

    My maternal grandmother is still living, but she is not well. She lives in a care facility, and she has been deteriorating for the last several years.

    She is 95, and she no longer recognizes anyone. My mother goes to see her most days, and both of my parents go see her on weekends, and I go see her once or twice a month, but these visits are very painful because there is no longer a person there.

    My uncle Edward is still living, but he does not get out much anymore. As you probably know, his only son died, and Edward never recovered from that loss.

    The young lady you mentioned was a classmate and friend, and she was my concert-going pal during the three years I lived in Washington.

    It was nice hearing from you, and learning about you and your family, and I will let you know the next time I will be in Washington.

    All the best to you,


  11. Andrew, thank you.

    When Susan and I first read your blog, we were charmed but we did not know who you were. Susan was the one who started to realize who you are. It took her two days, though. It dawned on her in the middle of the night.

    We are serious about the dinner invitation.

    Ron Brown