Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bodies in the basement!!

We went to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum today.  This is one of the things I love about living in this area.  You can drive to a museum in D.C., park right in front of it, and just waltz right in without paying.  It just doesn't work that way anywhere else.  Yes, we got there on Sunday, 20 minutes before they opened, but still, I think it's incredible.  In Boston, there's never any parking, any time.  And if there is, it costs $40.  I don't know if it makes up for the times when 95 is a parking lot, though..

This morning when we showed up and there wasn't a single other car parked along the street, we kept driving because we figured it must all be one big "no parking" zone.  We drove back around, pulled over, and we each got out of the car and read the signs on the curb, looking for the fine print.  We were convinced that as soon as we left our car there, it would be ticketed and towed.  Tim finally asked a street vender who "spoke English and drove a Tahoe" if we were allowed to park there, and he said we were.  So finally we relaxed and waited in our car for the museum to open.  We noticed everyone else who parked up and down the street after we arrived did the same thing, scrutinizing the signs.  One guy started feeding the meter even though it clearly said you only have to pay Monday through Saturday.  Tim decided to be a nice guy, and he got out and told him it was free today.  But when the car with New York plates parked in front of us, and the driver started putting coins in the meter, Tim said, "They're probably Yankees fans.  They can pay."

Since Tim is nicer than me, he let Delaney out of the stroller, and he chased her around.  In the ocean life section of the museum, there was a coral reef exhibit, and for all Delaney cared, that could have been the entire museum.  The sign didn't say anything about Finding Nemo, but it was basically a Finding Nemo exhibit.  There were clownfish in there, and beautiful anemones, and I recognized other species of fish from the movie too.  It took M&Ms, pretzels, and many promises to go back to the "fishies," to get her to go anywhere else with us.
"You're a clownfish, right?  Tell us a joke."


We made our way around, looking at all the things you expect to find in a natural history museum.  It had been awhile since I'd been to a natural history museum -- the Cincinnati one -- and I thought I would enjoy learning about the ancient peoples, because that's what I remembered most of all.  But a surprise favorite for me was the "Written in Bone" exhibit, that teaches you how people lived and died based on the condition of their bones.  If you didn't have kids with you, you could attempt to solve the riddles presented by the skeletons: male or female?  Young or old?  Diseased or healthy?  What killed this person?  And on and on.

There were a few skeletons on display that had been found buried under people's basements in Maryland and northern Virginia.  Very intriguing.  You could see by the way the grave was dug, and the placement of the bones, and anything else found in the grave, what the circumstances of the person's life and death had been.  Very sad, of course.  It's not a good story if it ends with being buried in a basement.  It was something I had not expected to see, and I wonder how many other natural history museums in the nation feature bodies found in basements.  Tim said, "This is giving me some ideas."  Har-har-har.

Two hours went by quickly, and it was back to the coral reef before heading home.  We ate lunch, and all of us had naps.  The girls and I slept over two hours.  I don't know about them, but I was exhausted.  The days have been busy, and Annalise has been waking up in the wee hours again (Sleep Lady, you're failing me!).  So the nap was needed, and everyone slept, and it was lovely.

Tim made enchiladas for dinner -- my favorite -- and it was a relaxing Sunday.  As you can, see Tim and the girls still had plenty of energy left after dinner and naps!

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