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Monday, November 03, 2003

Indian Summer Sunday 

Yesterday was a fine example of Indian summer. The temperature topped 80°F, a gentle breeze pushed a few clouds through the sky; if it weren't for the falling leaves and the sun setting around 4:30, it could have been spring.

We started of the day with the first Lupron injection. It's a tiny needle and a small injection, but the kit is a bit odd. Unlike the Gonal-f or hCG, the Lupron is in a small vial that keeps getting reused; the other meds, it is one vial per injection. This just means having to keep resterilizing the rubber stopper with alcohol wipes before drawing out each dose. We also started the doxycycline; although, we both forgot about it until the evening ...

Taking advantage of the weather, we got to work early in the garden. First was planting the apple tree, followed by moving some butterfly bushes in hopes of giving them better sun. (This summer they were glowing horizontally across the ground to try and get out of the shade.)

Next up was destruction. I cut down a small tree in the backyard that wasn't really doing anything for the landscape. It was too close to the redbud and the Japanese maple. We also pulled out some bad vines that were crossing the fence from the neighbor's yard and trying to strangle off a dogwood, and I cut another branch off the fig tree that we are slowly taking down. I also started getting the pond ready for winter: cutting back the water canna and the pickerel weed, cleaning out fallen leaves, dosing the water with some Stress Zyme and other bacteria. All that's left is getting out the netting to try and keep leaves out of the water. I also broke out the leaf blower/vacuum to chop up some leaves so that we could add them to the compost tumbler.

And all this was before noon. After a lunch of grilled pepper-and-onion fajitas, Evelin decided to do some things around the house, while I ran off to see some historic places south of D.C., specifically two sites John Wilkes Booth visited after assassinating Lincoln. (Actually, I should have started at Ford's Theater in the District, but I didn't ...)

First up was Surratt House & Tavern in Clinton, Maryland, home to Mary Surratt, who was executed along with three other conspirators. It's now considered questionable about how much Surratt knew about Booth's plans and actions, although her son, John Surratt, was in on the assassination plot and an earlier plan to kidnap Lincoln. Because of what happened to the family, only two pieces of furniture are known to have been in the house in the 1860s, although the rest are authentic to the period. Things that make the Surratt House different from other historic houses in the area -- aside from the specific people involved -- are the attached tavern, really just a small barroom and an attached traveler's dinning room, and the attached kitchen. Most kitchens at this time would have been separated from the main house.

Next up was the Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House in Waldorf. After Booth left the Surratt's house, he made his way to Dr. Mudd's, which is where the leg he broke leaping to the stage at Ford's Theater after shooting Lincoln. As with Mary Surratt, there are questions about how involved Mudd was in the conspiracy; in the end, Mudd was sentenced to imprisonment at Fort Jefferson in the Florida Straits.

Unlike the Surratt House, the Mudd House stayed in the Mudd family until it passed into the hands of the Mudd Society, which runs the house/museum. Therefore, almost all the furniture is original to the house and to the family. They have some fantastic pieces. Leaving the house, I took a short detour on the way home by St. Mary's Catholic Church, where Dr. Mudd and his wife are buried.

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