The Museum’s Best Friends

New museum blog post. Our Friends are great, and I’m not only saying that because they made us lunch yesterday.

The Pink Palace Family of Museums

In 1959, a group of volunteers from the Junior League of Memphis started the Youth Museum project at the Pink Palace. They created touchable exhibits and led tours for school children. After several years of working with the museum, League volunteers Sara Misner and Merri Briggs founded the Friends of the Pink Palace Museum as an official, independent support group for the Pink Palace Family of Museums on June 13, 1968. Over the years, the Friends have served the museum in many capacities. They published Tales of a River Town, a children’s history of Memphis, and owned and operated the museum gift shop throughout the 1970s.

Banner with kids in background

In 1972, the Pink Palace Museum began a campaign to expand the size and scope of the museum. The Friends pledged a large donation for the project. They held the first Mid-South Crafts Fair in October 1973 to raise the funds. The first…

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Just don’t talk about my body

My body is mine. I know that other people can see it, but seeing is not ownership. Seeing what I look like and knowing what I think and feel are not linked. My body is not a topic for conversation. My body is not the most interesting thing about me, but it can do wonderful things. It can simultaneously hold a toddler and stir a pot. It can walk the dog and push a stroller. It feels sensations and tells me when it has done enough.

So don’t ask me if I am pregnant. What do you hope to gain from it? To make me feel uncomfortable about the perfectly natural thing my body did that made it change? That no matter what I tell myself, I am self-conscious about? To force me to acknowledge that I don’t look “perfect?” To try and force out information that I obviously have chosen not to share? I’m not pregnant, by the way, but you will find out when I am when I choose to tell you.

And don’t suggest that spandex will help. Or that I don’t do sit-ups. I exercise and am in better physical shape than I was before I had a baby. And spandex is uncomfortable. I like to feel at home in my skin and my clothes, not like I’m a sausage.

What will help is for you to not talk about my body. Because it is mine. I take care of it, cover it, and try my very best to love it. It’s mine to share as I will.

So the next person who refers to my “pouch” or asks me in sincerity if I am pregnant is not going to like the end result. Back off. Ask me about what flowers I want to plant this spring or how my child is doing. Ask me my feelings about the weather. Just don’t talk about my body.

Hard work

Every morning, I watch my almost toddling toddler begin his hard labor. This work will be constant throughout the day, but he starts every morning in a frenzy to make up for the hours spent on his stomach sleeping. First is reasserting his friendship with his seventy pound mutt. After a lot of mutual kisses and pats, they can go back to ignoring each other until mid-morning, when their affection needs to be reestablished. Then there is a lot of stacking to do and toys to move. Blocks and small ocean themed bath toys need to be put in boxes and taken back out. Rings need to be stacked, scattered and reassembled. There is a pause for reading. Then on to the music making and hitting of stationary objects with the xylophone stick. All the while he narrates his work with la(s) and na(s) and bbb(s). Shoes need their laces put dutifully inside them. Dog toys need to be stashed under bookcases.

Twenty minutes is a lot of time to fill.

Be Mine, Valentine

I wrote a post about Valentine’s Day card for the Pink Palace blog. Check it out:

The Pink Palace Family of Museums

Legend tells us that St. Valentine was an early Christian martyr who was imprisoned and sentenced to death for secretly marrying young soldiers despite Roman Emperor Claudius II’s ban on the practice. Before being executed, Valentine befriended his jailor’s daughter and wrote her a note signed “From Your Valentine.” From these fabled beginnings, the tradition of sending letters on Valentine’s Day began. In the 1700s, people sent letters on special stationary on the holiday, and the practice transformed into sending handmade cards by the early nineteenth century. Cards began to be commercially produced in England in the 1800s. Esther Howland, an 1847 Mount Holyoake graduate who was supposedly inspired after receiving an ornate English card, began to make and sell her own, which began the American Valentine industry. Victorian era cards were often elaborate, including some that were three dimensional. The practice of mailing cards to sweethearts and friends has…

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A new garden plot

After some serious discussion and much internal debating, we decided not to get chickens like we had initially planned. Instead, we are going to use the back corner of our yard where we were going to put a coop as a kitchen garden. That area gets the most sun and is practically shaped so as to be easily fenced in. If we can switch plots at the Shelby Farms community garden and get closer to the water and my mom’s rows, we will continue our gardening adventure out there by planting field peas and potatoes. I don’t have the time to take care of plants that need tender loving care when those plants are a 30+ minute round trip from my house. However, I can commit to taking care of some low maintenance peas that can stand some benign neglect. Planting the squash and peppers and tomatoes at the house will let me give them more care on a daily basis and will also work better with the toddler.

In order to get the backyard garden spot ready for spring planting, we spent this last freakishly warm weekend clearing out privet. Our yard was a veritable privet forest when we moved in, but we have been slowly reclaiming the power lines, trees, camellia, pergola and path for the past year. We cleared the vines and hacked down the “trees” last year, but we still needed to clear out the roots. There’s no way that we got it all, but we did at least severely damage the beast’s central nervous system.

Unfortunately for me and my hypersensitive self, I did not realize there were poison ivy roots in the mix. I’m now sporting a lovely PI rash on my neck and face. All for the love of gardening.

Down and up again

To set the scene: there is peace in the kingdom. The dog is upstairs; the kid is playing with a toy. I’m sitting in a chair alternately reading and having a conversation in repeated monosyllables while exercising my peripheral vision. Then it gets too quiet for a moment and the crying starts. Baby down. After a quick hug and happy murmurs from mama, he wants back on the ground so he can explore again. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

I’m the one who is here to say, “I bet that hurt. Want to try again?”


2015 in Books, January

I started off 2015 by finishing up a few stragglers from 2014:

  • Neverwhere: A Novel by Neil Gaiman
    • Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors; I have yet to read one of his books that did not capture my imagination. Neverwhere is set in London Below, the underground city that parallels London Above along the city’s subway tunnels. Like his best works, he asks you what is real and never answers his question.
  • The Lost Tribe of Coney Island: Headhunters, Luna Park, and the Man who Pulled off the Spectacle of the Century by Clare Prentice
    • This nonfiction work looks at the experiences of a group of Bontoc Igorot tribespeople from a remote area of the Philippines who spent over a year on exhibit in the United States in the early nineteenth century and Truman Hunt, their exhibiter turned prisoner. I saw a review in the local paper, which is when I learned that part of the resulting court proceedings took place in Memphis. It’s a good story, but the well researched nonfiction is mixed with too much journalistic license for my historian tastes.

I also started and finished some others:

  • How Carrots Won the Trojan War: Curious (but True) Stories of Common Vegetables by Rebecca Rupp
    • I really like vegetables, and this book was a fun mixture of science, popular culture and history. I hope she writes more general nonfiction because I’m in.
  • Under the Fragipani by Mia Couto
    • This short novel was written by a Mozambican author. I try to break out of my American and European oriented fiction reading when I can, so I was excited to find this book at the last Friends of the Library book sale. Couto combines magical realism with legend and history, which made for a different, but immensely worthwhile, experience.
  • What Objects Mean: An Introduction to Material Culture by Arthur Asa Berger
    • I read Berger’s textbook at the museum to fulfill my self-imposed theory reading requirement for the next few months.
  • Best of Both Worlds: Museums, Libraries and Archives in the Digital Age by G. Wayne Clough
    • Surprisingly, not read for work. Clough is the Secretary of the Smithsonian, and I stumbled upon this free e-book while researching possible textbooks. It had been a while since I read any museum books, and we are working with technology upgrades in our redesign so I set aside some time for this one.
  • Against the Country: A Novel by Ben Metcalf
    • I received this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program. Metcalf’s book combines rural noir genre writing with metafiction in a convoluted twist of run on sentences and large vocabulary choices. Like another reviewer, I thought that I would enjoy this book based on the publicity blurb about suicidal chickens and evil trees. However, I found his prose difficult to impossible to wade through at different junctures, particularly when his multiple parenthetical asides took up more space than the one paragraph main sentence of the chapter. The novel did grow on me towards the second half of the story, but it is not one that I would recommend.