Finishing: The Dogs of Babel. It was... okay. A lot of people are going nutsy over it, and I guess I can see why, but it didn't resonate with me. It wasn't a waste of my time, but it's not a desert-island book either.

Next up: Harry Potter 5. I was going to read 4 again first, but I don't think I can wait anymore. That and Pamie's book are all I'm taking with me to the beach.

So, I have had visitors galore over the past couple of weeks, which has been kind of fun for me, despite how freaked out I get about people seeing exactly how much of a slob I am. Thank god for closet space, is all I'm saying.

First, a couple of weeks ago, Rob and Co. stopped in on their way to Texas for what could have been breakfast or lunch, depending on what ungodly hour they actually left, and it turned out to be lunch, which was probably better anyway. I had grand picnic plans, thinking that they would not want to get back in a car to go somewhere to eat, and also that it would be nice for Schuyler to stretch her legs, but alas, since we had just come off something like 73 straight days of rain, the ground was soaked, and besides, what the hell do I know about picnic food?

So I took them to Five Guys, this hole-in-the-wall place that could charitably be called a restaurant, I suppose, but they make the best hamburgers ever, and traditional Boardwalk fries, served to you in a paper bag. Plus, you get to eat peanuts while you wait for your food and drop the shells on the floor and no one cares. Ah, just like home! (Schuyler, it must be said, could not have been more adorable, and I have to tell you that she ate an entire bottle of ketchup all by herself. She also likes me now, I think, which is nice, considering how she felt about me a year ago.)

After lunch, we returned to my apartment and cleaned ourselves up (well, those of us who had ketchup, anyway), and when it was time for them to hit the road again, I led them out of the city. I was happy to do it, as it was on my way to my parents, where I was headed anyway, and given the utter lack of road signage in this part of the city, I would never have been able to give them understandable directions to get where they needed to go. (I should point out that I was very impressed with Julie, who was driving, and the way she held her own against more than one of this city's jackass cab drivers.)

Anyway, it was good to see them, as they are some of my favorite people, and given that they still had about seven thousand miles left to go, I was glad they decided to stop and hang out for a couple of hours. And, bonus, they didn't get their car stereo stolen while we were at lunch!

A sidebar, since I just now realized I never told you that story. You may or may not remember that last year, when Melissa came down to stay the weekend at my apartment while I was out of town, someone slim-jimmed their way into her car and stole her radio. The part I didn't tell you (why, I don't know) is that one day back in May, I went out to my car to go to work and found my radio stolen as well, except that as my car is not slim-jimmable, they decided to take the easy way and just smash in my passenger window. I was so upset about it that I didn't even take a picture of all the glass on the passenger seat, which would have been fun, but I did get a picture of the radio that wasn't there anymore.

So anyway. Like I said, I was glad to be able to have guests whose property remained vandalism-free while they were visiting.

Fortunately, I was able to keep my apartment fairly clean over the next week, because my parents arrived the following Saturday.

Frankly, the biggest reason I was looking forward to having them over is because my father was going to bring a drill to install my blinds, but he forgot, as is par for the course with both of my parents. (They joke about having CRS, "Can't Remember Shit," and it's a miracle they haven't burned their house to the ground for all the times they forget to turn off the oven.)

But we also had some touristy things on the agenda, which was fun because I haven't been inside a single museum since I've been here. There was a Scottish festival on the Mall, and my father had met a guy while they were over there who was going to be manning a golf booth, so he wanted to go say hi. My mother and I stood outside and took goofy pictures of ourselves.

After we had enough of the heat, we went into the American History museum. We started out in the 9/11 exhibit, and none of the pictures I took inside turned out, which is probably just as well. It was heartrending, of course. The exhibit was themed on mementos and personal stories, so they had things like the camera that filmed the first plane hitting the tower, and Ted Olson's office phone, and various items recovered from the wreckage. They also had the flag from the Pentagon hanging in the foyer. I held it together pretty well until I got to the wall that included some of the missing posters. That part will just never get any easier, I don't think.

After that, it was definitely time for something a little lighter, so we went up to Julia Child's kitchen. The story behind it is that when she retired and moved to California, she donated a bunch of her copper pots to a museum there. So someone from the Smithsonian called and asked if they could have some of her things as well, and she said, well, why don't you take the rest of it? So they did, her entire kitchen! The counters, the sink, the fridge, everything. It was cool, though apparently not cool enough for me to take a picture of, which is odd because I took pictures of everything else practically. Including this condiment spigot in the cafe which just amused me to no end. Hey, that's kitchen-related, right?

I recently found out that they have a permanent exhibition of string instruments there, so we went off in search of the music room. It was the first time I had ever seen a Stradivarius up close, and I was floored by just how beautiful they are. (I also felt a bit like how animal rights activists probably feel in zoos, which was that it was sort of a shame that all these instruments sit there day after day when you know they are just dying to be played.) They also had some gorgeous Guarneriuses (Guarnerii?), and they put mirrors behind some the instruments so you could see the backs. In a bit of random trivia, one of the Strad quartets they have on display actually belongs to Sandra Day O'Connor.

Then we just meandered around, checking out an interesting exhibit on the history of information technology, which had old telephone switchboards and replicas of the earliest computers. We saw Mr. Rogers's sweater and Dorothy's ruby slippers and Archie Bunker's chair and Fonzie's jacket, the stalwarts of the museum. There was a fascinating exhibit on the history of the Presidency, which we would have liked to spend a little more time in, but the museum was closing so they started shuffling everyone out before we had gotten all the way through it.

Speaking of presidents, though, we also saw a statue of George Washington inexplicably wearing a toga. I don't know what that was about, but it amused me highly. Can't you just see him crossing the Delaware like that?

So, yeah, I don't know what's with me all of a sudden. This is three in a row, in case you lost count. Perhaps my keyboard needs some Kaopectate. Or perhaps I need a little bit more of a life in the evenings. Or perhaps I need to quit telling you boring stories about my museum trips. But hey, you got to see a picture of my parents! That's exciting, right?

Yeah, I thought so. Anyhoo, I will be posting at least one more before I go to Hilton Head, which will include the answers to the quiz of Elizabethness.

I know. Edge of your seats, right? Heh...

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