Thursday, March 27, 2008

Soup at Six -- Homebrewing!

Steve did a GREAT job!!

An unusual sight -- Steve behind the podium!

Because our current Keller Gallery exhibit is about the Roaring Twenties, we thought it would be really neat to do a program on beer. Since Steve, our facilities manager, has been making beer for 11 years, he volunteered to do a Soup at Six program!

It was great to get another staff member involved in our programs who doesn't usually do any speaking. Even though this was his first program, he is passionate about beermaking and really conveyed that enthusiasm to the audience. And his sense of humor definitely added to it!

First we served a WONDERFUL beer cheese soup, made from scratch by volunteer Randy Smith, who makes all of our soups for the Soup at Six programs. We heard lots of great compliments! His soups have just been amazing.

Visitors enjoying the soup. This is a table of Steve's friends and family.

After the soup, the volunteers served up pretzels and beer nuts for the program.

First Steve talked about Prohibition, and all of the ways people violated it! He pointed out that many of our Founding Fathers were either homebrewers or bartenders, and that the Puritans packed more beer onto the Mayflower than water!

Then we took a break so the volunteers could serve up some of Steve's homemade beer:

In the second part of his program, Steve explained the process of making beer.

Click here for a video I posted a few weeks ago of the beer in progess.

After watching the whole process first hand for the past 6 weeks, I was the most surprised by how sterile everything has to be, or your beer will be ruined. I never really gave much thought to how beer is made. I certainly didn't realize that it took so long!

From beginning to end, the process takes about 30 days. And it isn't cheaper to make it at home. It is a fun hobby, and the more serious you get, the more you can customize the beer to your liking.

Steve showing a slide of him bottling the beer.

Visitors enjoying some of Steve's homebrew!

A toast!

I was another successful Soup at Six program! We are so excited at the response we've gotten to this new series. We are in the process of planning a new series of Soup at Six and Tea with the Curator programs for our next Keller Gallery exhibits, Stories in Stone and Going Out In Style, which will focus on cemetery symbolism and the mausoleums of the rich and famous!

Here are a few video clips of Steve "in action" tonight -- enjoy!!
(Click on the play button, even if the screen is black)


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Erin's exhibit at St. Luke's Home

Erin did a great job putting together her exhibit on school supplies at St. Luke's Lutheran Home in North Canton yesterday!

All of our interns in the curatorial department are given the opportunity to do a small exhibition of their own, on any topic they wish. We maintain a case at St. Luke's and at the Stark County Courthouse. We also have a few small areas around the museum where interns can create an exhibit.

Erin has been a great intern, and she did a wonderful job on her very first exhibit!

Over the years, I've found that either people have a knack for design, or they don't. You can't really teach someone what "looks good." She took her time and arranged each artifact carefully to make it shine!

Here are some photos of the finished product!!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Out of steam...

I am taking a break from steaming wedding dresses while my steamer heats back up! I have gone through 3 gallons of distilled water since 8:30 this morning.

While it was re-heating this morning, I finished up my program "Unlocking the Secrets of the Cemetery" that I am taking to California in a few weeks. Then I had a Happy Meal for lunch (yes, I am going to be 33 years old in a few months and I STILL enjoy a Happy Meal!!).

There are 4 racks of dresses, and my goal was to finish 3 today. Two people are coming in tomorrow to help, so I figured they could split the last rack between them.

It is going well. The dress I'm doing right now has about a 10 foot train, so that is a bit of a challenge. No wonder the poor machine ran out of steam!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Short story published

This isn't exactly "behind the scenes" at the museum, but it is "behind the scenes" with the curator!

My short story "You Can't Take It With You" was published in Mused Literary Magazine! Here is the link if you'd like to check it out:

I'm super excited about this because it is the second work of fiction I've published this year (the first was "The Sugar House" which is available through the Amazon Shorts program). It has been a goal of mine for years to be able to publish my fiction. I have a few other stories I am considering, but I haven't had much time to write anything new. There are lots of ideas simmering, but no time to commit them to words!

Anyway, I just wanted to share my excitement!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Here comes the bride....

These are the wedding gowns on display in the lobby to help promote the bridal show!

This is where the penny box has been for over a year. It looks so different to have something else there!

We still have some tickets left for the bridal show. The deadline for reservations is MARCH 28. So if you haven't called yet, you might want to do so ASAP!

Today I worked on this wedding dress display, as well as several graphic design projects.

I made a flyer, poster, and postcard for the traveling exhibitions Stories in Stone and Going Out in Style which will open in the Keller Gallery on MAY 2.

I also made a new poster for Tea with the Curator for The Great Gatsby on April 14.

Beginning on Monday, I will be steaming the wedding dresses in preparation for the show. I have some people to help me this year, and for that, believe me, I am grateful! Steaming 45 dresses is quite a daunting process! Erin, my intern, steamed the ones in the display for me, and she got a jump start on some of the steaming for next week.

I have been working on the script all week. I am done with almost all of the stories. I spent the past few days studying the dresses to write the "fashion" end of it. I am planning to focus much more on the stories, but I did want to point out a few details about the dresses.

Happy Easter to everyone -- don't eat too much chocolate! (can you eat too much chocolate??) Chris and I have a relaxing weekend planned. We are going to brunch at Fieldcrest on Sunday, but other than that, we are just planning to rest and relax. Chris has had a cold all week, and I have been popping zinc in hopes of avoiding his sickness. We got packages of candy from my grandmother, his parents, and my mom -- so we will probably spend the next three days eating too much chocolate!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Discover World mural

Barb Hoskins is doing a great job on the new dinosaur mural in Discover World!

Here are some photos of what it looks like now:

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Penny video

Here is the video of the Brinks guys loading up our pennies (the video that wouldn't upload yesterday).

The lobby looks pretty big without the penny box there anymore!!!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Goodbye pennies!

I just came down minutes ago from filming the team from Brinks loading up our pennies! They brought in a very large truck with some bags of pennies already inside. I think there were five guys all together.

My video won't upload today for some reason, so here are some photos instead. I will try the video again tomorrow!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Beach for Bridal Show

Today I am working on printing out a HUGE version of this for the stage background for the Bridal Show:

The background is 144 inches wide and 90 inches tall! I am using my DesignJet 500 to print it in four 36 inch panels. Joyce, who is our "resident wallpaper expert," is going to hang it.

We are planning to create a beach scene in front of it with a boat, umbrella, and beach chair.

I have gotten so much use out of that plotter! I just love it.

I got the paper for the programs yesterday. It is also a pretty ocean scene to carry out the theme.

This will definitely be a welcome ray of sunshine after a cold, snowy winter!

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Hallie has been waiting patiently for two days for her 9 new toads to be shipped FedEx from North Carolina! They arrived today just after 3:00.

You can see they have already made themselves at home!

Be sure to watch the video at the end of one of them trying to climb the cage wall -- very funny stuff!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

New stuff in Discover World

Hallie has been making LOTS of improvements to Discover World, and I thought it was about time I highlighted some of her hard work!

Her part time staff and volunteers have been working on a variety of new projects, plus we have a new member of our little Ecology Island family...


Cloud is our new tiny, adorable white house mouse who was donated to Discover World last week! Cloud is still a little bit nervous in his new home, but it has only been a few days. He is absolutely adorable! Here he is in Hallie's hand, so you can see how tiny he is:

Look at his teeny feet! Cute!

Here are some updates on other DW residents.

Remember our contest at Thanksgiving to name the new baby corn snake? Well, Kernel has gotten a little bit bigger, but he is still pretty small:

Click here to compare the picture I took of him in November to his current picture!

Sheldon and Shelly, two different kinds of box turtles, have some news of their own to share. Shelly just laid eggs! But unfortunately, their environment is not as moist as the outside world would be, so Hallie is doubtful that the eggs will hatch.

Shelly, posing for the paparazzi!


Hallie's staff member Kay recently made a new exhibit on the Forest Floor, which is also located on Ecology Island:

It really looks great, and provides another learning experience in habitats for our visitors.

Volunteer Barb Hoskins is painting a new dinosaur mural, so visitors can see how tall they are compared to some of the prehistoric creatures thousands of years ago.

Here she is, just getting started:

And finally, Hallie and Steve have been working on a spectacular new Bubble Screen, which was recently installed in Space Station Earth!

An overall view of the Bubble Screen.

The tray of "super soap"!

Visitors can make a huge wall of bubble by pulling on the rope. Hallie worked hard to find the correct formula for making a soap that was strong enough to make such a big bubble! Visitors can learn about how the color of the bubble changes as its thickness changes. They can also wait for the bubble to turn black, which indicates that it is about to burst!

So if you haven't been to see us in awhile, you can see there are so many new things going on in Discover World. Come see for yourself!

Mark your calendars now for Migratory Bird Day, which will be at the museum on May 10. It will be a fun celebration for families!

Video of penny machine

Here is what this process looks like -- and SOUNDS LIKE!!

Volunteer Leonard and maintenance worker Jerry work on counting the pennies!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Tea with the Curator -- 1920s Technology

Science Director Hallie Richards was my guest at this morning's Tea with the Curator. She gave a wonderful program about 1920s technology!

She talked about electricity, and all the new gadgets that came with it -- all kinds of nifty appliances that we take for granted today, like the refrigerator, washing machine, electric iron, etc.

I took half the group on a tour of the Keller Gallery afterwards (half of them had already been to a Tea with the Curator in this 1920s series, so they had already been on a tour!)

Here are some highlights!

Counting pennies

The machines have arrived!

Ohio Legacy Bank dropped of two of their old penny counting machines so that we can begin the process of counting at least 1.5 million pennies. Maybe more, maybe less. Our guess is just an estimate!!

We figured on about 100,000 pennies per inch, and we got to about 17 inches. BUT, it depends on how the pennies are arranged how many are actually in an inch.

If you want to guess how many pennies you think we have, leave a comment!

Here's some photos to help you out:

Friday, March 7, 2008


UPDATE 3/10/08: Chris has talked it over with the state officials, and it has been decided that the teachers will be able to choose a certain number of candidates to move on to the state competition. Teachers have received details. If teachers would like their students' projects evaluated, they should contact Megan Wood at the Ohio Historical Society.

The weather forecast has gotten worse, so Chris has reversed his decision to press on.


We are on our way into the museum now to get his phone numbers, so he can start calling teachers, students, and judges.

The original forcast wasn't great, but it wasn't as bad as they are saying now. So we have no other choice.

Next week we will figure out what to do about sending projects on from Region 5, if there is another way to do that.

We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused. We tried our best to keep the competition going, but we just can't risk anyone getting hurt trying to get there. Not based on the lastest forcast available at this time.

History Day is almost here!

Well, tomorrow is History Day!

As I said earlier, Chris and I have been involved for 10 years this year. It is a great program!

Judges training went well last night. We very much appreciate people giving up their time to participate in this event. It is very rewarding to be able to encourage kids to feed that love of history they feel while working on their History Day projects!

The weather doesn't look like it is going to cooperate, but as they say, "the show must go on." Chris checked with the state, who said we have to go ahead with the competition with as many students and judges who come out in the snow. The timeline is pretty tight between regional, state, and national competitions, so we can't let a little weather keep us down!

I will post after the competition -- when my brain feels up to it! It is always a draining experience for me to be a History Day judge because I take it so seriously. I want the kids to have the best feedback I can give them, and that takes a whole lot of effort on my part!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Cemetery symbolism

I spent most of today working on my "Unlocking the Secrets of the Cemetery" program.

I cannot believe how many wonderful photos I have taken in my travels, that I really hadn't studied before! Looking more closely at the pictures I found so many more wonderful symbols! Among them are the butterfly, beehive, dog, griffin, morning glory, draped urn, ivy, wreath, and lots more.

Here's an example:

This is a wonderful example of a calla lily, ivy, and ferns from a cemetery outside of Bowling Green, KY.

When I go into a cemetery, I look for symbols -- some I know right away, and some just look neat, so I photograph them. When I first started this, Chris would patiently sit in the car, following me as I traipsed through the gravestones. Now I have him hunting right along side me!

So far I have photographed cemeteries in Ohio (Canton & Dayton), Michigan (Mason & Mackinac Island), Kentucky (Bowling Green), and South Carolina (Charleston). I will always regret that I wasn't that into cemeteries in grad school when we visited Boston! That is, until I return to New England. This is an ongoing project of mine...

I've also been doing bridal show fittings (one model had to cancel, sending us into a bit of a panic -- hopefully it will be resolved by the end of the week!), making posters for the car show (yes, it is that time already!), and helping Hallie with some signs for Discover World.

I am going to Canfield tomorrow to do my program on women's suffrage. Then on Thursday I am going to the Canton Woman's Club, but I cannot remember at all what program I am doing for them! (I am blogging at home right now so I can't even check my calendar!)

Plus we have History Day judges training on Thursday night, followed by History Day on Saturday! I am judging exhibits again this year. This year marks TEN YEARS since Chris and I became involved in History Day. We were regional judges back in grad school, then after that we were state judges in New York. When we moved to Ohio, Chris became coordinator for Region 5, and I continued as a judge. It is such a wonderful program!

But more about that on Monday, when it's all over!!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Goin' to California!!!!

A few months ago, a member of the Cemetery & Mortuary Association of California contacted me to give my program "Unlocking the Secrets of the Cemetery" at their annual spring conference in Palm Springs!

I was shocked to say the least! I do lots of outreach programs every month, but I rarely leave Stark County to do it! I couldn't believe that someone so far away had not only found my program on the museum's website, but also wanted me to go all the way across the country to give it for their group.

Granted, I am not fond of flying, but I could hardly say no to such an exciting opportunity. So I will be heading west for the conference in April!

I am planning to start tweaking my program a little this week. I have new photos to add from our trip to Kentucky last summer, and I would like to add some information about the McKinley National Memorial and its symbolism as well (which I will borrow from Chris!). I don't really like the background I chose for that program either, so I will be searching out something new.

I was in California once before when I was in college. My senior year I did an internship at Wells Fargo Historical Services in San Francisco. It was my very first plane ride and I flew alone from Syracuse, NY to San Francisco, changing planes at O'Hare. Very scary for a 21 year old! I had a wonderful time and have always wanted to see other parts of California.

So now I get my chance to go back!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Book signing at Border's!!

The woman I am talking to is a relative of William H. Martin!

My book signing at Border's on Saturday went very well! I signed 10 copies of Canton's Pioneers in Flight and 2 copies of Canton's West Lawn Cemetery! They had all three of my books available for people to have signed. That was pretty cool!

The poster on the door -- with all three books!

One woman bought FIVE COPIES before I got there and was waiting for me when I got there just before 2:00. She asked me if I had a limit of how many books I would sign for one person! That was flattering!! She was buying them as gifts.

Then Bob Dexter from McKinley Air came in. Of course, I hadn't seen him before so I didn't know who he was. He asked me to sign his book "To Bob -- aka The Phantom." I said, "Really?" And he said, "Yes."

Then he said, "I am honored that you included me in your book." I looked up at him, a little puzzled. Then he said, "I'm Bob Dexter from McKinley Air." Then I knew exactly who he was!

Next a woman came in and started asking me how I got interested in aviation. She wanted to know if I was related to anyone in the book. (I'm not) Then she told me she was related to William H. Martin, inventor of the world's first monoplane! (See previous post for more on that)

So that was pretty cool!

I want to thank Larry from Border's for all of his help yesterday. He was a lot of fun to talk to, and I appreciated the special treatment I received as an "author." :-)