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Along with my brother and his fiancee, who visited this weekend, I went to check out DC's relatively young National Museum of the American Indian this past rainy Saturday. As with the other Smithsonian museums, you could spend a lot of time there—and you'd have to in order to see everything. We made our way from the top floor downward, starting at Our Peoples, which includes galleries of swords and firearms in addition to the expected folk-y native artifacts. Clearly a lot of thought was put into every aspect of the museum and its exhibits. One detail I noticed was the way that maps showing the various peoples' originally inhabited areas de-emphasized the political borders drawn by the Western world; I think I noticed it because I'm so used to using those borders for orientation.

I found the signs and labels cumbersome to use in identifying the museum's many artifact objects. In an apparent effort not to sully the presentation of the objects, the museum posts simple numbered diagrams of the exhibits somewhere in the neighborhood of the objects in question, and after identifying the number of the object of interest, the visitor looks for that object number in a nearby listing of object descriptions. That's too much indirection for me.

Next we made our way through the Our Universes exhibit, a presentation of indigenous worldviews organized around the solar year. It's easy to get lost in the maze of cubbyholes that make up the exhibit. The nook about Day of the Dead reminded me to pull my calaveras out of the attic. This is one of the exhibits where I'd spend more time when I return.

Next was Our Lives, an area dedicated to contemporary native communities. Memorable parts for me were the part on urban Indians in Chicago, a bit on sweat lodges (because of reading princessleia2's spiritual writings), and a presentation on efforts to preserve the Inuktitut language.

Becoming ever more hungry and tired, we breezed through Listening to Our Ancestors, a section on North Pacific Coast Indian art. Aesthetically, I enjoy that art more than that of most other American Indian tribal groups. Much of it seems to have a water-worn, faded, smooth quality, and the dark colors appeal to me too.

We met up with rebelzero to hit Taste of Bethesda for a late lunch. Area political candidates and their supporters were out in force, but the annual event has been shrinking in terms of participating restaurants. Each restaurant offered around two or three dishes, almost none of them vegetarian, making it a less-than-entirely-satiating outing for my brother's vegetarian fiancee. Along the periphery of the food fest, we hit a silly dog boutique and a small Japanese grocery, where I experienced the nontrivial challenge that is opening a bottle of ラムネ.

Our original plans called for a visit to the national zoo, but lacking enough time before the D.C. United match in which our home team would lose to New England, we stopped by Love Café instead. And a delicious stop it was. Oh, buttercream.

On Sunday I drove through the sunny exurbs to a farm to get in the autumn spirit and pick up a pumpkin, chrysanthemums, and apple cider. I haven't yet found marigolds, but I likely will before the end of the month. Haven't decided yet on a jack-o-lantern design; lacking any specialized carving tools, I'll probably stick with something simple.

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Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
pwinkler
Oct. 16th, 2006 01:10 am (UTC)
While it's not as easy as a "regular" bottle, is opening ramune really non-trivial?

I'd like ramune alot more if the little glass ball would prevent liquid from spilling out or at least be useful in some way.
radhardened
Oct. 16th, 2006 03:07 pm (UTC)
I should have said "the nontrivial challenge that is figuring out how to open a bottle". There are instructions on the side of the bottle, but they omit the—as it turns out, crucial—step of separating the pusher-downer plastic part from the plastic piece that encloses it.
pwinkler
Oct. 17th, 2006 03:19 am (UTC)
Yeah, I've often wondered why they don't mention that step... perhaps there's a secret to doing it that doesn't require poping that plastic piece out?
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )