We have just tonight finished sending off a few packages and 40 postcards, which worked us until 7:30 am, a nap and then back at it – all night working on postcards: The postcard project rolls on. We appreciate all donations, but right now, we haven’t had any postage stamps donated in 2009, or .94 cent stamps since…um...ever. It is $18.80 for 20 postage stamps and since this time we posted to New Zealand, Australia, South America, India, Two countries in Asia, the UK, and the EU (all of which require .94 stamps) – five continents (we do Africa next week!) in one week, and .94 cent stamps are required for all non-US bound post cards (I post the Canadian ones here). If you want to get some (talk about unsubtle, eh?) they are available for purchase through the post office from the wish list. It is just, we could have sent more postcards this weekend, but we ran out of postage stamps. OR, if you live in the US and have like 2 or 3 or 5 of the .94 lying around can you post them to me, pretty please? I and people literally all over the world will be grateful. I hope to do a blog post over at the Postcard Project Blog today or tomorrow to give some pictures and some updates as a lot of really cool postcards went out. Also check out Linda's post on Spring and daffodils at Girl's Gotta Fly.
Meanwhile with the Japan Cat Network, David is going slightly insane with work as he is teaching 50% more AND building a new shelter for his 75 cats, plus he opened up a satellite station in Tokyo for adoption. So maybe that will be 100 cats soon? Yikes. There are some friends going over and David said I can put up their address, so if you want to send them any medicine (Revolution!), cat toys, or other items that could be used, please do (here is the Japan Cat Network Help Page). We are going to try to find some online toys and such to have sent to them to take to David.
Addendeum: Due to a family emergency they are going to a different city before leaving. David apologizes for the loss in postage and asks if you want to still send things (I do, it's kinda cool!) you can send them directly to him.
Well, that was this weekend, as weather was terrible and we stayed indoors. But last weekend was ‘Tourist in your own home Town’ and I very much wanted to take Cheryl to the Royal British Columbia Museum. When we left to go to the UK, it was listed as one of the top 10 Museums of North America, I don’t know if it still is, but I was dropped off here every time my grandparents came into town and not only is it cool, it is kind of like home to me! Only this time I will see it in a wheelchair and on oxygen.
The Museum’s unique nature, of which I can only show you four examples in this blog post, is to create the entire experience of the history of BC in a walk through setting. So that you don’t see it, you ARE it. For example, upstairs (not wheelchair accessible, still waiting on that disability act, but don’t worry after 20+ years in committee, I am SURE it is almost ready!) there is a full fishery, the gutting table, the fish heads, the canned salmon, the nets, the whole thing. Here we are at the Coastal Biosphere. As you see, they show both the sea lion and the cubs and seals as well as the terns and other birds which are on the cliffs. British Columbia, having both the jet stream and two islands HUNDREDS of miles out to sea, one of which is over 150 miles long (Queen Charlotte Island, where the Haida tribe is from), have cliffs which house some of the rarest birds in the world. Other areas include an undersea submarine, and an entire walk through forest – in these areas they also include smell machines so you smell salt and kelp and the sea in the Coastal Biosphere.
My favorite, both as an adult and as a kid, has been Old Town. You enter through Century Hall (to go back to 1900), and see the exhibits for each decade, including the “I had that!” moments. Then into the town of Victoria at NIGHT, during 1899-1910 with cobblestone streets, the sounds and smells piped in for full realism. At the Blacksmiths, we found not only one of those new contraptions, an automobile, but MY automobile (it has my name on it! That is the plaque in the front).
We asked a nice guy going by to take our picture in front of the printer’s office (with a full press and plates inside). Gold is what put Victoria and Vancouver on the map, and there were MANY Gold rushes, including a small one just outside of town (remember when we visited GOLDsteam park, and kissed in front of the tree – yes, a small gold rush on the island too!). But mostly Victoria was a stopping ground, and a rough town because….we were low and sleazy, and a free port. If you went to the Colony of British Columbia where Vancouver is, you would have to pay TAX on everything in your ship. However, if you stopped at the British Colony of Vancouver Island which had no tax, you could continue on to Vancouver having your passport and papers stamped. Yes, we started off as a low down sneaky city and we still are!
Because it was night, the town was to be lit with the gas lights but also the area was as dusky as Victoria would BE during that period. One of my favorite attractions was the full old cinema with old fashion velvet seats showing different full length movies, mostly Charlie Chaplin. That’s right, you go in there and there is a movie playing with piano accompaniment and titles on the screen, much like the restored cinema in Port Townsend, but ours is FREE but plays only old movies. I liked it then, I like it now!
This is one of the main streets, with the Saloon, the Grand Hotel and a parlor. Behind me is China town including the sounds and an alley to escape a gambling house (one of the alleys still exists in our Chinatown, the oldest in Canada). To the left was the train station in which you can sit and wait and listen to the approach of a train, or hear and see on the blinds the lights of trains going through (fun as a kid!). Linda and Cheryl went up into the hotel, where you can see how the life of a lady of means lived, as well as how a lady with little means lived. I was left at the bottom of the stairs below the OF COURSE, picture of Queen Victoria (we still get the day off for Queen Victoria Day! A National Holiday! In the UK, I asked when they got it off and they said, “But she’s dead! And we don’t get off for the living Royals, why should we take a day off for her?”).
Here is a traditional middle class to aspiring upper middle class family parlour. And even though my grandparents were in the middle of the woods, THEY had one too. We went in on Sundays (it was freezing), and there was an organ, and the best china, the velvet couch, the fireplace and the nice paintings on the wall. I think the family bible was in there too. My Grandfather came over here at 4, and all he knew is what his parents thought was important, and his parents were Edwardian, so he built himself an Edwardian house where he could have tea at 11:00 and 3:30. I included the picture of the organ for Abi, as it is a home pipe organ with petals to provide air and stops as well. There is also a long clock (later known as a grandfather clock) which my grandparents had along with those ‘make you sit up straight’ oh so uncomfortable chairs they had imported from ‘the old country.’ So this is like looking at my old Grandparents place.
I included this picture from the sod house and farming section (my grandmother who I talked to recently remembered growing up in a sod house – which is a house made of….um, pieces of dirt). But this is an old, um farm machine, maybe a thresher or a harvester or something. But now Linda and Cheryl can send it back to their parents or grandparents and then get the whole family arguing about what it is, and how, “No, no, When I was with Charlie, working that summer on Morgan’s fields in the summer of ’52 we used one of these and it is definitely a. ……”
There is also a walk through life size replica of the Discovery (Captain Cook’s Ship), not wheelchair accessible and some wharves, so I amused myself as being a wharf slut . I tried to pick up sailors on leave, drug them, then take their money and sell them to the navy – a good old shanghai! Hey, this girl gets bored easily, besides that is good money making!
They also had down on the dock, a Sea Chest, which is something every Sailor had to make to stow gear. I show you this because you can see that it used joinery to stay together (not the greatest joinery, but okay). My Grandfather was in the Canadian Royal Navy and he gave me his Sea Chest, which he had used nails on (not good at joinery). I am pointing this out because if you had a relative in the Navy, there was something like this in the attic. Also, to a certain person taking a joinery class, I took a nice CLOSE up picture because....I want one! So consider that a commission, or a challenge!
Victoria not only had many steam ships, paddle boats (for the many lakes and coast) but also cruise line, the Empress Line (ergo, we have the Empress Hotel), where people could visit the other colonies of the empire or immigrate on the Empress of India, Empress of Australia, etc (one of those ships is still in use as a cruise ship in South America: still has the old dance hall and a two level movie theatre). This section uses the type or perhaps original carpet from the Cruise days. With Linda and Cheryl ready to embark. There was also the Empress of Japan, which is how I think the Emperor’s daughter made her way to Victoria, and how we ended up with cherry blossom trees. Here is a glimpse at the glory days…if you had the money. Which is why I was so glad to stay last year in Hotel Kanaya, where Ghandi and Helen Keller stayed amoung other notable people. Because it was the same, a connection to that lost world (the train station, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, has a DANCE hall on the second floor – are people to dance the waltz until their train?).
Leaving the old Imperial Empire, the Museum hosts an floor of impressive collections of Native art including the extremely rare Haida art. The Haida were the geniuses of the west coast and though hundreds of miles to the north and far out at sea, would come down annually to raid down here, against the Salish and other tribes for slaves (oddly left out of most 'traditional heritage enactments'). When some British merchant traders arrived at the Queen Charlotte Islands expecting the native population to be awed at the ‘shiny beads’ – the Haida just saw them as sort of “slave take out – delivered!” And took the white traders slaves, and then made them teach them how to use cannons (which they found on the ship). When the Royal Navy showed up to rescue the traders, the Haida had made a trap and took them hostage too. In the end, the King had to ransom his subjects back. NOT AMUSED.
Up on Queen Charlotte, there are several Haida Villages on the south island which are as they were left, some 80 years ago. They are a world heritage site, full of long houses and totem poles. And even though I taught there and Linda and I later visited, you have to hire a boat and have about 5 days if you want to try and see it. It is very remote. However, another village, which was about to fall to pieces (and had in many areas), was taken and restored, inside the museum, including the long house.
The art which is unique to the Haida besides working only in Black and Red is the Argillite stone carvings. The stone is only available on one mountain in the WORLD, out on Queen Charlotte, so the carvers are very strict about learning the trade and how it is done. Indeed, the art of the argillite is a story of resistance. As in the 1920’s things like flowers and European influences started to show up. The old carvers got together and no one knows exactly what was said but the carving went back to traditional motifs ONLY, and stayed that way for the next 70-80 years. This is only one of several walls of display but most of these pieces are in the thousands of dollars (these ones, being over 100 years old are tens of thousands). We happen to have one because while living in the UK, a charity shop was selling one as an oversized ash tray (they couldn’t figure out what it was?), for 3 pounds. That included the inlay of ivory. Oh well, not a lot of Argillite comes through charity shops.
Let's end with a look at Linda and Cheryl in front of the Long House. It is nice to see the native art in the lighting that not only preserves it but also makes you feel this is what it might have looked like at night.
I wish I had time to tell you more, but that will have to suffice for our first glimpse at the museum. So, if you do go to Victoria, please go to the Museum. If you have a Recreation and Integration Pass (sent in the post free if you ask for it and are disabled), your companion gets in free. I will come back with part II of the Museum and the rest of ‘Tourist in your Home Town’ in a few days.
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