Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Expectations: Remember I said I had a special treat planned from myself on the way home? Well, it didn't work out. I don't even want to go into the specifics because it was such a disappointment, but it only reinforced a long-time philosophy of mine... Have low expectations and they will almost always be exceeded. High expectations are rarely met.
Weather: When we left the temperatures were barely getting out of the 40s during the day. When we got home, it had been 95 that day, and it was still 75 at 8 o'clock at night. Our second floor was like an oven, but I hadn't put the screens in. I hustled around to do that and trade the flannel sheets and down comforter for cotton sheets and a light quilt before bed. The next day was spent packing away all the winter clothes and getting out the summer ones. It made me realize I have way too many clothes. Some of them are business clothes that I can't seem to part with even though I haven't worked for seven years. Life would be much easier if I wore jeans and long sleeve t-shirts in the winter, and khaki shorts and short sleeve t-shirts in the summer.
Swine Flu: I was not very happy that Pipsqueak came home from school yesterday alarmed about "the bad sickness going around". Six year-olds should not feel this way. Apparently, some other kids were freaked out and talking about it which she overheard. I think we need to be educated and informed, but this is not a time to panic. It isn't a pandemic yet, but when/if it is, "pandemic" doesn't mean death. It means wide-spread illness. People die from seasonal flu every year, but they are usually people with underlying conditions which are worsened by the virus. So far, the CDC believes that swine flu isn't any different than seasonal flu in that regard. Having said that though, we can't bury our heads in the sand. It's important to keep up on the news on this from reliable sources.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Our visit started out with a a short film on George Washington's life. We tend to see him in stone or on paper, so it was surprising to me to see what a charismatic and strong man he was. After a lengthy wait in line, we toured the mansion's first two floors, which is decorated in what I would call simple elegance. In one year's time, they had over 670 overnight guests.
There are numerous outbuildings for view including the smokehouse, shoemaker's shop, wash house, and slave quarters.
There is a substantial museum, including this life size, mounted George Washington,
this replica of Martha Washington's wedding dress and slippers,
and George Washington's infamous dentures (which it is forbidden to photograph) that are made of lead and rhinoceros teeth.
We heard a talk by an actress playing the part of Claire, Martha's dearest slave. We learned that George Washington was liked and respected by most of his over 200 slaves. He had a unique, four-tiered method of discipline. The first tier was reward, the second was demotion, third was flogging and fourth was being sent to the Virgin Islands to work in the sugar cane plantations.
We also got to visit with an actress playing the part of Martha Washington. This was very informal... sort of like joining her in her sitting room for a chat. She was charming and engaging, so he learned a lot of historical tidbits, like the fact that all her children pre-deceased her, and she and George raised the two youngest grandchildren as there own.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Sweetie was in his element. He once had a pilot's license which he let lapse, but his obsession with aviation is still current. I managed to find plenty to interest me, too. It's just really neat to get to see so many different kinds of aircraft up close... for instance a 202-foot long Air France Concorde. The catwalk makes it possible to see many exhibits from below and above.
The massive space shuttle Enterprise, NASA's 1981 test vehicle dominates the space hanger. It also dominates Pipsqueak. She's the little pink and green dot in the lower center.
Since I find World War II lore fascinating (two of my uncles fought in it), I was particularly thrilled to see the Enola Gay fully restored and reassembled for the first time in more than 40 years. That was the Boeing B-29 Superfortress which dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945.
I loved these bomber jackets once worn by World War II fight pilots, one named "Return Ticket" and the other, "Belle of the Brawl".
The PanAm display case was interesting: a Life magazine article from 1968 touting "Newest Stewardess Fad: a Japanese in Every Jet", white gloves for spring and summer and black gloves for fall and winter, and the mandatory girdle, no matter how trim the stewardess... a grooming consultant would do random checks for them.
At the end of the day, we spent about a half hour in the Observation Tower watching the planes land at Dulles.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
Sunday, April 19, 2009
I had the Orange Blossom Martini to match my scarf. Pipsqueak's virgin daiquiri didn't match, but the paper umbrella made her day.The Tom Yum soup cleared out my sinuses from the cold with which I've been suffering.
Pipsqueak started with fried calamari. She loved it, but there were only body rings and no tenticles. I think tenticles are the best part.
The Pad Thai was delicious... just the right amount of heat.
The Drunken Noodles with Beef were okay, but the noodles seemed a little over done and it would have benefitted from a little more heat.
The greenhouse is divided into several areas....
The orchid room.
World deserts where I adored this Old Man Cactus.
These tulips were in the Children's Garden, where kids could actually dig in the dirt and water plants with supervision.
This view is from the catwalk around the top of the jungle room.There were also areas of primeval garden, medicinal plants, and rare and endangered species. I snapped a lot of photos, but I'll share a few favorites.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
First, we walked to the base of the Washington Monument. We decided before we left home that we wouldn't take the time to go up. The lines for tickets are long, and the windows to look out are tiny. I did this when I was here in 1978, and while I enjoyed it, it was underwhelming.
From there we went to the World War II Memorial, which is the newest addition to the mall. This fountain and pool are surrounded by 50 pillars representing the states and a larger structure on each side representing the the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. There was a large group of WWII veterans visiting, which made it more moving for me.Then it was on to the Lincoln Memorial. I think this is my favorite memorial because I like how strong and powerful he looks even though he's sitting down.
A hush came over the crowds as they entered the area of the Vietnam War Memorial. People seemed more respectful of this memorial than any other.
We stopped to look at to some of the mementos that had been left by visitors. I didn't care for the wall part of the Korean War Memorial since it was difficult to see etching on black marble, but the statue portion of it was haunting.The Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial is sprawling and difficult to photograph, but this statue of Eleanor Roosevelt captured her strong presence.Our final stop, was I think the most pictorial, the Jefferson Memorial. The late day sun only added to the beauty.
After walking for six hours, we all had enough. Now to rest so we can do more tomorrow.