dual personalities

September Now and Then

As full of birthdays as it is, September is a busy month for the dual personalities. Yesterday was the birthday of son #2, just a day after that of his lovely cousin. We (the parents, the birthday boy and his wonderful girlfriend) celebrated the advent of  his 22nd year with a yummy roast beef dinner and a good bottle of red wine (see their faces glow). As usual I forgot to take pictures until after the festivities.  Here is the happy couple, smiling joyfully at the birthday card from Chris’s grandmother that contained a  very generous gift!


Then I made him try to hold all his presents — no small feat as they were all more or less the same size.


Note the predominance of movies and books. To keep him from becoming a complete couch potato, we added badminton racquets (hey, hes asked for them and I love badminton). After dinner, we parted company; they to hang out with friends and go bowling and we to our usual old-people activities. It was a very fun evening. Stay tuned for the last September birthday in just two weeks…

For some reason, though, September has always been big in our family. Over the years we’ve developed a nice sequence of September birthdays 11, 12, and 13. Can you guess/remember who was born on September 13th? Check out last week’s post to find out. I’m not referring to either cousin, but to, you guessed it –

What do you think of the odd collar arrangement?

What do you think of the collar arrangement? Kind of odd…


Asa Leander Chamberlin, the family patriarch, who was born on September 13, 1809. So tonight, when you have a slice of leftover birthday cake or a glass of wine, think of A.L.C. , who lived and worked in beautiful Moretown, Vermont many, many years ago.

Other September events of note: Our mother’s parents got married on September 2, 1921.

marriage certificate

I believe our grandmother’s birthday was also in September, but alas, I cannot recall which day. Is it wishful thinking that I seem to remember September 10th? After all, that would give us a nice four-day sequence of family birthdays. The moral of the story? If you look hard enough, there’s always a reason to celebrate!

Have a great weekend!





“Sorry don’t get it done, Dude.”*

Since it is her birthday week, daughter #1 made the movie pick for this Friday.


Directed by Howard Hawks, Rio Bravo (1959) is John Wayne’s answer to High Noon which he thought was “Un-American”. You remember, in High Noon, Gary Cooper is the sheriff who asks for support from his town and gets none. Supposedly it is an allegory of the McCarthy era in Hollywood. Please.

Well, in Rio Bravo, John T. Chance, the sheriff, is surrounded by allies—a drunken deputy (Dude) trying to pull himself together, a young untried gunfighter (Colorado), a “crippled” old man (Stumpy), a Mexican innkeeper (Carlos) and his wife (Consuela), and an attractive young gambler (Feathers) whom Chance tries to kick out of town. He repeatedly turns down aid from most of these people because he thinks they will get hurt helping him, as his friend Ward Bond does at the beginning of the film. They all come through and help him anyway. That is the American Way. A motley crew bands together and vanquishes the Bad Guy, who is rich and powerful and has a lot of hired guns.


It is a great movie. It even has several musical interludes thanks to Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson.

It is a classic John Wayne role and he is ably supported by Dean Martin, Angie Dickinson, Walter Brennan, and Ricky Nelson.

Howard_Hawks'Rio_Bravo_trailer_(27)Daughter #1 and I highly recommend it.

* John T. Chance in Rio Bravo

“Velvet I can wish you for the collar of your coat”*

marysleepingAs you know, daughter #1, the over-worked television producer, has been taking it easy at home this week, relaxing as one only truly can at home.


“The Song” by William Merritt Chase

We are having fun watching reality TV and visiting our incredible flyover grocery stores. Tonight we will celebrate her Big Birthday with a backyard bar-b-que, the OM grilling, and with the boy and his bride attending. Beforehand, daughter #1 and I plan to pre-game at Grant’s Far


“The Lantern Bearers” by Maxfield Parrish

Good times. Happy Birthday to our cupcake of love!

*”More I Cannot Wish You” from Guys and Dolls

For the wonder state we’ll sing a song*

On Sunday Daughter #1 and I drove down to Bentonville, Arkansas

mary 66

Love those Missouri rest stops.

and visited the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

The museum, founded by Alice Walton and designed by Moshe Safdie, officially opened on November 11, 2011. I had heard rave reviews of it from several people so I have been anxious to go. And I like road trips–even when I am the driver.

Bentonville is, indeed, a lovely town, built around a square in the southern tradition, with a monument to Confederate Soldiers in the center.


The town appears to be thriving–supported by copious amounts of Wal-Mart money–but it is a real town, not a Disney immitation. It is lushly landscaped and full of friendly locals who say hello and smile.



The Museum itself is impressive.

An "Official" photo of the museum at night when it looks best.

An “official” photo of the museum at night when it looks best.


Another professional photo–but here the murky water cannot be hidden.


My photo.

The design is “cool” but the concrete is not aging well–it never does. I am not a fan of the “brutalist” look. I mean, three years old and it looks terrible! Oh well. The inside is beautiful and full of an impressive art collection. We saw many wonderful American paintings–many famous ones that it was a thrill to see up close.

"Kindred Spirits" by Asher B. Durand

“Kindred Spirits” by Asher B. Durand

Daughter #1 and I had a marvelous time driving, talking, eating, drinking, looking at art, buying postcards, walking on the lovely nature trails. And that’s what the trip was really all about.

*”The Arkansas Traveler”

Tout va bien


So I am back from adventuring in Arkansas with daughter #1. But you will have to wait til tomorrow to hear about it I’m afraid. Suffice it to say, we had a super fun time. And I drove the whole way–363 miles, 5 hours each way!

Yay me.

Tales of the Road, Since Time out of Mind

The week flew by, but at least one part of it was truly delightful. On Tuesday my niece and nephew dropped in for a quick visit on their (roundabout) way to Pennsylvania. We’re so glad they took the huge detour to see us! Here are the cousins (note facial hair on son #2!)


We had a leisurely dinner of bbq’d beef tenderloin, corn on the cob, fries, and beer from our local brewery, the St. Lawrence Brewing Co. and then  we stayed up late gabbing. I had so much fun that I forgot to take pictures until early next morning just before our guests hit the road.

Clearly I never learned what "act natural" means.

Clearly I never learned what “act natural” means.


Unfortunately, they timed their visit to coincide with the hottest, muggiest days of the year. They arrived during a deluge and it remained rainy and in the 80s while they were here. But as experienced travelers and intrepid outdoors people, un-airconditioned rooms didn’t phase them at all. After they left us, they headed over to Vermont for some camping in the Green Mountains, a quick visit to see their cousin at college there, and a couple of side-trips to cemeteries to pay their respects to ancestors.

Moretown VT5

I hope they found these Chamberlin graves (note the misspelling on the headstones) in Moretown. I’m looking forward to hearing all about their travels and hope they visit us again soon!

The rest of the week was pretty standard, but while I was tidying the house before our visitors arrived, I did rediscover a favorite ‘sad song’.  Since it’s a rainy Saturday, it seems appropriate to share it with you. Here’s Mark Knopfler singing “Before Gas and TV.” Even if you know it well, you should listen to it!


And, of course, have a great weekend!



She’ll be coming ’round the mountain

Mary on Bike

So daughter #1 is coming home tomorrow for a little flyover R&R. She is also celebrating a big birthday.

Good times ahead.

P.S. We must note that Joan Rivers has died, but I couldn’t say it better than daughter #1 did on her blog. RIP, Joan.

What are you reading?


“These days, Clarissa believes, you measure people first by their kindness and their capacity for devotion. You get tired, sometimes, of wit and intellect; everybody’s little display of genius.”

–Michael Cunningham, The Hours

This is so true, don’t you think?  The Hours, which I read over the weekend, is full of such truth. I liked it very much.

I remember going to see the movie when it came out back in 2002 and liking it very much. There was some major mis-casting, but I liked Meryl Streep as Clarissa a lot.


“Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.”

Not surprisingly, I liked the book better.

Indeed, there are not many instances where the movie is an improvement over the book. Ben-Hur (1959) comes to mind.

Some movies actually measure up to the book: To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) does. And although the author did  not think so, I think Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) is as good as the book.

This would make an interesting blogpost topic no doubt, but…back to what I’m reading.

I picked up Malcolm Cowley’s And I Worked at the Writer’s Trade off a shelf at home–I think it was my father’s copy from 1977–and started that. I like reading about writers. Cowley is one of those guys who knew everybody and has a lot to say about them. He spent most of his career as a literary critic and editor and never really made it as a fiction writer himself. He did win a National Book Award for this book, writing about other writers.

I seem to remember thinking that he had a little chip on his shoulder, that he always managed to cast some aspersion on whomever he is writing about, that he makes himself more important than he probably was. But I have not found that to be the case reading this book now. Perhaps I am thinking of Exiles Return which he wrote in 1933 and then revised in 1951. Perhaps he had mellowed by 1977 when he wrote And I Worked at the Writer’s Trade. We do tend to do that, don’t we?

So what are you reading?

A sonnet for Wednesday

As if you didn’t already know, I’ll remind you that on this day in 1802 William Wordsworth composed the sonnet titled “Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802″.

Thomas Rowlandson (1756–1827) and Augustus Charles Pugin (1762–1832) (after) John Bluck (fl. 1791–1819), Joseph Constantine Stadler (fl. 1780–1812), Thomas Sutherland (1785–1838)

Westminster Bridge as it appeared in 1808 by Thomas Rowlandson (1756–1827) and Augustus Charles Pugin (1762–1832)

Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

Now you’ll have something to discuss at the water cooler! Do they still have water coolers?

Joseph Nicholls 1742

Joseph Nicholls 1742

Daniel Turner

Daniel Turner

Henry Pether 1862

Henry Pether 1862




In honor of Labor Day, some wisdom from Frederick Buechner:

IT COMES FROM the Latin vocare, to call, and means the work a man is called to by God. There are all different kinds of voices calling you to all different kinds of work, and the problem is to find out which is the voice of God rather than of Society, say, or the Super-ego, or Self-interest. By and large a good rule for finding out is this. The kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work (a) that you need most to do and (b) that the world most needs to have done. If you really get a kick out of your work, you’ve presumably met requirement (a), but if your work is writing TV deodorant commercials, the chances are you’ve missed requirement (b). On the other hand, if your work is being a doctor in a leper colony, you have probably met requirement (b), but if most of the time you’re bored and depressed by it, the chances are you have not only bypassed (a) but probably aren’t helping your patients much either.

Neither the hair shirt nor the soft berth will do. The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.

Wishful Thinking

Discuss among yourselves.


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