Lost Arts studio

A lot of the fiber arts I enjoy are things like tatting, netmaking, chair caning, and even weaving, where people will come up to me when I demonstrate and solemnly tell me, "That's a lost art."

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Location: SW Outer Nowhere, Michigan, United States

On the Internet, nobody knows you're a chicken. (With apologies to Peter Steiner.)

27 June 2007

Summer Fun -- Zoo and Museum

Part of summer fun is time taken by my husband during the middle of the week, when we go off and do summer vacation stuff.

Neither of us had been to the John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids, Michigan, since we were kids. Now that I think about it, I think we last went back when we were first married -- definitely when we were kids.

What I mainly remember is bored-looking coyotes pacing around and around (and around). While I don't love zoos, I think this time was better. Our son loved the ray pool, and successfully fed them by hand. I think he would have stayed there all day and fed the rays until his fingertips were soggy.

But we did drag him off to see other things, like this otter, which was steadfastly watching down the path for somebody. Or something. Standing on its hind legs, diving in the water and shooting up to look, climbing on the driftwood by the pond. Maybe lunch?

And this thing, which had no photo ID by the tank. I can see a flounder and an anemone (trying saying "and an anemone" three times fast) in the tank, but what is that long gray spotty thing with the weirdly human face?

Whatever it is (and I'd really like to know), all I can tell you is that it isn't native to Michigan.

This guy isn't native to Michigan, either. We watched this snow leopard stand on its hind legs and scratch at the right side of the door frame for about ten seconds. That's what it looked like at first: like a house cat using a scratching post.

But he was just getting his distance. Suddenly the snow leopard leaped up and turned around on top of this cage access door. What could he see from there? From the top of the door, the snow leopard could see a South American tapir.

From central Asia to South America, I'd say that's one heck of a high door.

By that time, we were tired, so we left to get some lunch. I'm not a cook, so I can't do justice to the tapas we ate. (And it's a good thing we only deal that blow to the food budget once a year or so.)

Then it was off to the museum, officially the Van Andel Museum Center. None of us had ever been in this building, but my husband and I both remember chunks of it, like the whale skeleton and the relief map of Michigan, from the old public museum.

The carousel was new to us. Carousel rides were a dollar. Can't beat that price, so we bought our son one. I was amused to see that the carousel organ is started with a remote, just like a TV. The horses and lions only blurred a bit from motion.

I'm a machinery geek, and I had to get a shot of the clockworks from the old City Hall clock tower. (Yes, the one they tore down in the 1970's.)

I love the way the bench that holds the clockworks is itself this bowlegged piece of furniture. I reduced the picture detail because this post is already picture-heavy, but yes, it has the gold pinstriping and the little ornaments along the legs. *sigh*

And this one here just takes the Industrial Revolution cake. This is a 35-ton Corliss-type steam engine with an 18-foot flywheel, built in 1905.

I didn't crop out the stairways and the floor below, to try and give a little scale on how big this thing is. It's hooked up so they can turn it, but not by steam -- for some reason they're all touchy in a museum about humidity levels going up.

It had a "shut down for repairs" sign on it when we were there, but I think the shaft that goes into the Grand Rapids furniture exhibit moves some of the machinery they have in there.

This was what the industrial revolution was all about, boys and girls, big whoppin' monster steam engines turning a whole floor full of factory machinery.

An 18-foot flywheel. I may have to have a lie-down in front of the air conditioner and fan myself.



Blogger amy said...

I wish I knew what your zoo thing was (great picture name, btw). An eel? Saltwater, right? Are those legs? Do newt/salamander things live in saltwater? It's HUGE for a newt thing. You've got me Googling and I have no idea. What habitat were they showing? We've got flounder but I don't recognize that zoo thing of yours.

Anyway--looks like a fun day!

9:56 PM  
Anonymous Wendy said...

If you like carousels you could come visit Buffalo sometime. In North Tonawanda is the Hershell Carousel Museum. It is the work shop of the Hershel Carousel Co. They built most of the old hand carved Carousel horses. It is very cool. The SCA does a fundraiser Medieval Fair for them in early June each year.

8:56 AM  

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