Last week was President’s Week, and the Kid’s school was closed, so she and I set off for Virginia to visit my mother’s cousin and his wife. The Charlottesville area is beautiful, and we enjoyed touring the homes of Madison,


Me, with my friends James and Dolly.




Staying mellow doing whatever it is I do at Monticello.*

and Monroe.


Nothing to do with Monroe, except that I bought this awesome dog in the gift shop at Ash Lawn Highlands.

The Kid was predictably resistant to spending her vacation touring Presidential mansions. She put up her usual argument that she shouldn’t have to learn when she’s away from school. And I had the perfect counter-argument.

These three guys hated Hamilton more than she does.

Madison: started out as an ally of Hamilton’s. They wrote The Federalist together, of course. But later in their careers, they famously became rivals and disagreed on many issues, most notably the creation of a National Bank. Their compromise over this bank and the location of the capital is one of our nation’s founding legends. And Madison hangs in his parlor pictures of Washington and Adams next to pictures of Jefferson and Monroe to spur discussions about the peaceful transfer of power from the Federalists (inextricably linked to Hamilton) to Madison’s Democratic Republican party.

Jefferson: arguably Hamilton’s biggest political rival. They began the debate that still goes on today over the role of government. Should the US be a loose confederation of states, or a strong nation under a Federal government? It is speculated that most of the press written against Hamilton during his lifetime was written, funded, and/or orchestrated by Jefferson.

Monroe: is the guy who spilled the beans on the Reynolds Affair. You hate Hamilton, Kid? Monroe took him down.

This news cheered the Kid immensely, and although she still claims she found the house tours boring (she seemed interested enough in the dumbwaiter at Monticello and the many mirrors at Ash Lawn Highland), she enjoyed the properties immensely, posing for photos with every tree and fence she could find.

Her favorite thing on vacation, however, was undoubtedly Miss Mandy, so I end my post with a photo of her:


The Divine Miss Mandy, the Stanley of cats.

*I tweeted this line, and Daveed Diggs “liked” my tweet! When the Kid found out that you can talk to celebrities on Twitter, she suddenly became interested in it. We haven’t decided yet whether to let her get an account.