Blogmom’s blood pressure is slowly coming down after wrestling with a technical problem on the blog.
A calming photo of my cat Joe Boxer.
A couple of years ago I visited Vancouver Island with friends. I didn’t really need a reason to visit The Butchart Gardens – it is, after all, a National Historic Site of Canada – but when my friend mentioned roses it may have taken wild horses to stop me…
We were visiting in the summer and the day we were there it was quite warm and very sunny. Unfortunately, I discovered a few deficiencies in my camera’s abilities (some of which were my fault due to it being new and unfamiliar) but hopefully you will still enjoy this little selection of photos.
Not far along the first walk was a covered area with dozens of fuchsia in hanging baskets. I couldn’t get the photo that truly conveyed how overwhelmingly large the display was. So I had to settle for individual shots.
The Gardens were started over 100 years ago. The vision required to “see” this result when confronted with a quarry is amazing.
Those familiar with the Pacific North West will know how easily moss grows…. Take some notes – it can be used to great advantage in the garden!
Animals like these were dotted all over the gardens. My favourite was the squirrel but the photo came out too blurry to use. :(
The rose gardens were lovely. Most of my photos don’t do them justice. (I’ll have to go back again…!) We’d missed the spring flush of blooms but there were still quite a few in bloom.
This arbour was very inspiring. Want.
Within the gardens there are various theme gardens. So, besides the rose garden and sunken garden there was also the Italian garden and the Japanese garden.
The summer flowers were in and there were begonias everywhere in the garden beds. I’ve always been a little ho-hum about begonias. This experience changed my mind!
And finally, the Gardens have the only carousel on Vancouver Island:
If you ever get the opportunity to get to Vancouver Island then visit the Gardens. In summer they have fireworks in the evenings too (check their website for times though). And they have a lovely giftshop… ;)
One of the first questions that comes up in any social situation is “so, what do you do?” When I worked in retail, I said, “I sell stuff!” and the conversation pretty much stopped there. But now that my answer is “I’m an exhibit developer,” the questioner usually gives me a knowing look and a nod, followed by a frown, followed by a slightly embarrassed, “Er… So what does THAT mean, exactly?”
Glad you asked! As it happens, my real-life job is working on exhibits at a huge children’s museum. We’re one of the oldest such museums in the US (there are two older than us, I think) and we’re also one of the only large collections-based children’s museums in the states as well. What that means, essentially, is that while we focus on children and families as our primary audience, we are more than just sand tables and splash areas.
We have a tremendous collection of over 120,000 objects, ranging from toys to dinosaur bones to 19th century dresses to Maori war clubs to old television sets to birds’ eggs to real samurai armor, and everything in between. Our challenge is to create exhibits that use these objects in ways that encourage learning and questioning between kids and their adults—and while the objects usually can’t be touched by our visitors, we try to come up with all kinds of ways to promote hands-on learning and engagement for them. And that’s where I come in! I work with the curators and designers to develop the messages of our exhibits; then later in the process I write labels and work with our production team to create interactive stations that are more than just “Push a button to hear the cow moo!”
My first full on exhibit project with the museum was LEGO Castle Adventure. In addition to writing labels about real-life castles and how those castles were planned and built, I got to come up with an activity involving a catapult. Because—come on, right? There HAD to be a catapult. Since the exhibit was about building strong castles, though, we didn’t want to have an activity about knocking castles down… so the creative media team and I worked to put together a game where kids could build a virtual castle wall, making choices (thick/thin, blocks stacked or interlocked, etc) and then crank and release a giant LEGO catapult to “test” their wall. It was…. popular. :) The exhibit is still travelling around, being rented by other museums, so if you see the catapult, tell it I said hi.
My most recent project was a kind of pop-up exhibit we put together for Spring Break at the museum. We combined stuff from our pop culture collection and stuff from our world cultures collection to create an exhibit talking about super powers and characters from around the world. The figure above is a painted wood statue of a villain from the Ramayana named Ravana; one of his attributes is wisdom, evinced by his ten heads (because he is as wise as 10 ordinary men, of course.) Below is a more generally familiar character who you may recognize…
The costume’s from the nearly unwatchable “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Secret of the Ooze.” Cool costume, great character, dreadful film.
We didn’t have a lot of time to develop a really elaborate interactive station for this one, so I went with a simple but (I hope!) fun fill-in-the-blank activity that let kids make up their own superheroes and villains while practicing basic reading and creative decision-making. I thought that little guys would have fun with this, but was surprised how many older kids and adults also seemed to really get a kick out of turning the dials and picking their hero’s “superpowers.”
So that’s what I do. I work with an amazing team of people to make some out-of-this-world exhibits for families to learn from and enjoy. Sometimes it’s stressful, like any job, but overall it’s a blast—I’m never bored, and I love my work. Come visit our museum sometime and you’ll see why!
Hello all; I’m your friendly neighborhood moderator, Black Bear. As you’re all no doubt well aware, Robin’s a little overwhelmed at the moment with veterinary troubles. Having a sick animal is no fun. But having 3 sick animals all at once is… well, fairly dreadful, obviously. So the forum moderator gang (or as we like to call ourselves, the Mod Squad) has offered to take over the blog for Robin for a week so that she can concentrate fully on work, the dogs, and minor daily tasks like eating and sleeping.
So welcome to Mod Squad Week! (SPX: thunderclap here) Just to give you a taste of what to expect from us, I can promise you the coming week will contain at least trace amounts of all of the following:
PHOTOS and MORE PHOTOS
Plus some other goodies as we come up with them, I expect.
Please do continue sending Robin your best wishes for the dogs via last night’s forum thread, and if there are any major updates to be shared, they will be. Shared, that is. If you are a die-hard Robin fan who would just as soon take a pass on a week of guest-blogging, please be aware that at present, it is still Robin’s plan to post the next chapter of KES this Saturday. So if you tune out for a few days, our feelings won’t be hurt–just don’t forget to tune back in for KES over the weekend! Then it’ll be back to guest blogs for a few more days, to give Robin a full week off.
Right. Any questions? No? Good. On with the show!
Sid now followed me placidly across the rest of the front room, through the open archway, and into a little room with an examining table and a scales that covered most of the rest of the floor. I stood at one end of the scales, leaned down, tapped it with one hand, and said, “Hup.” This used to work with the Ghastlies, when they were in the mood. Sid, of course, went carefully around the scales and stood beside me.
“You get on it and we’ll weigh you,” said Jim, “and then you can try to persuade Sid to join you.”
I dumped my knapsack and the leather jacket, got on the scales and as Jim opened his mouth I said, “I don’t want to know. I keep finding myself at Eats ordering more food. Besides, I’m wearing All Stars. They’re a good ten pounds, right?”
“Absolutely,” said Jim. “Sequins weigh a lot. Okay, I’m ready for your skinny dog.”
“Hey, kiddo,” I said to Sid. “Come on up, the view’s great.” Sid put her forefeet on the scales and stopped. I pulled the cheese out of my pocket, bit off a chunk, and held it out toward my dog. Sid’s ears pricked, and her rear legs joined her forelegs on the scales.
“She needs to hold still long enough for the read out to settle down.”
I held the cheese in front of her nose again. “Flump.” She sat. I gave her the cheese. She remained sitting, staring at the hand that had had the cheese in it. I got the cheese out again, bit off another chunk (her eyes watched this performance closely) and gave her that one too. It was good cheese. I’d have to buy more, so I got to swallow some.
“Forty-six and a half pounds,” said Jim. “That’s pathetic. Phantom, you idiot, you had half the town putting food out for you, why didn’t you eat any of it?”
I heard the phone ring in the office, and Callie answer it.
“She needs to gain twenty-five, thirty pounds,” said Jim, “for her frame. I wonder who her daddy was? She’s tall for a Saluki.”
“And it may just be having lived out over the winter and being in bad condition,” I said, “but it seems to me she has too much rough hair for a Saluki too.” In the grip of Saluki fever when I was a kid, I’d managed to pet a few Salukis at dog shows I’d accompanied my mother to. They had been creamed and coiffed to a high gloss, of course, but I thought even thirty pounds heavier and well brushed Sid was still going to have more coat than they did.
“Deerhound?” said Jim.
“That’s what I was wondering,” I said.
Jim started to laugh. “I hope you like a challenge.”
“Deerhounds are very sweet, friendly, affectionate dogs,” I said, with dignity. I liked Deerhounds too.
“Yes, and about as trainable as a piano,” said Jim. “Rather like Salukis that way, in fact.”
Callie appeared in the doorway again but this time I didn’t flinch. She was a friendly smiling woman again instead of a bringer of doom. “She’s going to be a beautiful dog,” she said to me. “Don’t mind Jim. If it’s not a working dog—and preferably over a hundred pounds, four feet tall at the shoulder and drooling—it is a lesser being.”
“Piffle,” said Jim. “Best dog I ever owned was a Pekinese.”
“The attraction of novelty,” said Callie. “And the second-smallest dog you’ve ever owned is a Mastiff. Kes,” she went on, “Bridget rang up from Eats, wanting to know if you’d turned up here okay, so I told her that you had, and that Sid was officially yours. She said to tell you if you put your head out the window you’d hear cheering.”
I thought of Bridget opening up the (freezing) courtyard and feeding us both scrambled eggs and started feeling all misty-eyed again. “Well, tell them not to cheer so loud they’ll hear anything at the Friendly Campfire. Sid is there on false pretenses—but I’m moving out as soon as we get back there, so it should be okay.”
“Jan’s extended family contains about a dozen retired greyhounds and a lot of little stuff,” said Jim. “Dogs, cats, goldfish, turtles. Rabbits. Parakeets. I forget. I wouldn’t worry too much.” We’d climbed back down off the scales and Jim approached us with a syringe. “Well, sweetheart,” he said, rubbed a bit of Sid’s (matted) shoulder briskly, and stuck the needle in. Sid looked mildly surprised but no more.
I wrote a disturbingly large check for the meds and fancy vitamins, the prospective bloodwork and the change of details for Sid’s chip number, filled out a new patient form, forgot Rose Manor’s zip code—“Don’t worry,” said Callie, “Cold Valley is enough”—agreed to ring up in a few days and see if the lab results were back yet . . . and prepared to totter out the way we had come. “Thanks,” I said, and meant it.
“You’re very welcome,” said Callie.
I was as tired as if . . . I’d just got divorced, moved to the other side of the planet and got a dog. I kept thinking, What if Mrs Tornado had wanted her back?
But she didn’t. I had a dog.