August 30th, 2009

Union County, middle school mural

Weekend family visit

My family came to see me this past week for a fun-filled 3-day visit.

They arrived Wednesday night as I was tidying up the room and listening to some Great Big Sea. The car was packed with all sorts of goodies: fresh fruit, vegetables from the garden, snacks, etc. After we had unloaded everything and set up the air mattresses, we stayed up late chatting and catching up on news.

I worked on Thursday, but after work, I met everyone at Takoma to go to the House of Musical Traditions. We played with the hammered dulcimers, got to see a bowed psaltery, and I was given a quick overview of the bodhran. Those video samples that I found on Youtube will give you an idea of what the instruments sound like. We didn't buy anything at the store, but it gave us a lot of ideas...

I took off on Friday and we all went to the NSA Cryptologic Museum. It was a lot of fun. We saw some very neat encryption machines - both analog and digital. My favorite part was inputting a secret message in a real Enigma machine. The first time, I forgot to record the settings, so we weren't able to decode the message, but we got it on the second try. That was really cool!

After leaving the museum, we found a park to enjoy lunch and then got ice cream sundaes for desert. We then returned here. For dinner, we went to the nearby Irish restaurant. We were seated in the upper room - an area decorated in rich, warm golds and dark woods. Mom and I split a Shepherd's Pie while the guys split a reuben. The food was delicious and the atmosphere was great.

After dinner, we eagerly awaited for 9:10 pm. We had tickets to go see Transformers (the 1986 version). It was great! Hearing Orson Wells booming and seeing the great Japanese animations were even cooler than I expected. I was happy to see Hound for a second standing in the background of two scenes. It was hard to sleep after all that excitement!

On Saturday, we slept in and then made our way to Red Lobster for lunch. Matt and I got the stuffed flounder and it really hit the spot. It's been a long time since I had fish. After enjoying the seafood, we hopped on metro and went down to the DC Waterfront to see the boats. The Flying Scots were being taken out for lessons, so went walked along to look over at the schooner. Suddenly, the captain appeared, on his way to check out some things on the Spirit. He kindly let us tag along and come on board. After poking around the schooner for a while, we continued our walk along the docks, passing the Odyssey, Spirit the Washington, and one of the NMHF Flying Scots. Spirit of Mount Vernon returned as we were heading back, so we stuck around to watch her dock. By then, it was time to head back to the apartment to pack up and head off.

Today, I slept in some and enjoyed a sandwich and tomato from the goods that I received from home. I then went back to the music store to poke at the mountain dulcimers. I exhibited "spannungsbogen": the self-imposed delay between desire for a thing and the act of reaching out to grasp that thing. (Dune p. 288) I need to give this desire some time before fulfilling it, to be sure that I am not acting instinctively on unreliable emotions. It's been a wild 2 weeks here and I need some time to let the next month's schedule and next year's plans settle into my mind before making any rash moves. I may stop in at the music store on my way home from work sometime, though, as they are open till 7 pm most nights.

Anyhow, this evening, I am not sure what is on the schedule. Meanwhile, my family is celebrating my brother's birthday and getting ready to move him back to college. This could be his last year, unless he decides to double-major. I am excited for him. When I was a student, I thought that graduating would be the worst, scariest experience of my life, but I have been having a really fun time as a full-time employed person. I am so relieved that I don't have a constant struggle with assignments and anxiety over grades and tests. Now when I learn things, they are things that I actually enjoy struggling over.