We've been to a number of aquariums including the ones in Boston, Baltimore, Camden, and Charleston, and we've enjoyed them all. I'm a sucker for sea turtles, puffer fish, sharks, and lobsters. We've been to two out of the three NC Aquariums, and I'm still trying to find time to go to the one at Roanoke Island - particularly since that's the one with the river otters.
One friend recently mentioned on Facebook that she's been told that the NC Aquariums aren't that great. I don't argue on friends' Facebook walls, but I couldn't totally let that pass. Over the years, we've had lots of fun at the NC Aquariums - starting back in the early 80's when the one near Atlantic Beach was just a large room with small tanks around the walls and a touch pool in the center. It's lots larger now.
I'll admit, the NC Aquariums aren't as big as some of the large northern aquariums, and they focus on North Carolina aquatic life rather than more exotic species (although they do have some of the exotic aquatic species). That actually makes them seem more personal to me.
We spent last weekend in the Carolina Beach/Wilmington, NC area. The Aquarium at Fort Fisher is relatively uncrowded on a Sunday morning:
You're greeted at the entrance. This is how I feel when people criticize our aquariums. ;)
I love the way this exhibit is put together.
The salamanders are so cute.
Luna, their albino alligator, is sitting under a heat lamp. In the wild, albino alligators don't survive long because they have no protection from the sun and they don't have camouflage (more about albino alligators here).
The bobwhite quail run around freely outside Luna's enclosure.
The Eastern box turtle wanders around his area - behind a low wall. The creatures don't feel as distant as they can in the larger aquariums.
I haven't mastered taking pictures through glass yet. This alligator was right up next to the glass. In this section of the aquarium, just about all of the exhibits go down almost to the ground. Overall, I'd say at least 2/3 of the exhibits can be viewed by a mobile toddler or preschooler. Both of the times we went to the Baltimore aquarium (a must-see if you like aquariums) we had a preschooler. A large number of the exhibits are at older kid/adult height, which meant that my arms were about to fall off by the time we were done. If you have a child who likes to talk about each fish, name them, and discuss their families, an aquarium where the child can do this on their own two feet is a wonderful experience.
Now, of course, all three kids are taller than I am so this hasn't been an issue for years. I did have some difficulty this time because, to get some of the photos I wanted, like this one, I had to do a lot of squatting. On its own, that wouldn't have been a problem. However, after also playing for a long time in the ocean the day before and going to Broadway dance yesterday evening, my good knee wasn't happy today!
One sea turtle came out (older son took this one).
The on-ramp to I-85 north near our neighborhood is uphill and short. Because of the lovely stand of trees between the ramp and the highway, you can't see who's coming until you're almost at the end. Most of the time, it's not a problem, but occasionally, particularly during rush hour, a little prayer spontaneously happens - like this morning:
Me (seeing that the traffic is heavy): "Please may there be a spot for me to pull into."
Me (a second later): "That spot between the two 18 wheelers is really small!!!!"
Me (a few seconds later): "Please bless that truck driver who pulled into the left lane to let me in!"
"...because a garden is in part a scene intended for viewing, its design shares the two-dimensional, depictive quality of painting or drawing. But because it is also a space through which you move, the garden must also be handled as a sculpture. Unlike sculpture, however, a garden is constantly changing, and so, like music and dance, is an art form with a fourth dimension, that of time. In part, this dimension of time and change is a function of how we experience gardens, which is typically as a progression of sights, smells, textures, and views. Managing that involves a process that the gifted San Franscisco garden designer William Peters has defined as 'choreographing a walk.'" p. xix
Given my love of gardening and dance, I could end there. But...
"A garden changes through the natural processes of growth and death. The living elements of the garden are always expanding or shrinking, changing color, texture, even form, with the seasons. It's this that makes garden design so uniquely challenging and rewarding. The choreographer or the composer sets the time in a dance or ballad; in the garden, nature keeps the beat, which means that the progress, even for the most expert gardener, is always unpredictable. A garden is always, ultimately, a mystery." p. xx
Just a short post about everything going on.* I'm so un-bloggy right now that, even though I took pictures for a bloom day post, I haven't had time to put one together. Blogspot was down for part of last week, and it's messed up the photoblogs. I haven't gotten back to fixing those either. I also haven't been back to Duke Gardens for a few weeks - the longest I've been without going there during bloom time.
May used to be a finishing up and winding down sort of month, but now it's both a winding down and starting up month.
Daughter had her wisdom teeth out on Monday, and she's doing pretty well. It still hurts, but she wants to be off the Percocet so she can spend time with friends and go to dance tonight. She's going to be in the June dance concert with the studio here in Durham. She wanted to get her wisdom teeth done before she starts her job next week.
Older son had a few days off last week, after his exams finished, but started working this week. I'm really glad they both have summer jobs!
Younger son's two homeschooling classes finish up this week and next. For a long time, he wasn't interested in homeschooling social activities, but that's gradually changed this year. There's a learning/homeschooling store near here that has tween movie nights every month. A few months ago, he wasn't all that interested. However, the kids in one of his classes have been talking about it and asked him if he was going - so he went to see the showing of The Princess Bride last week (even though he's seen it a number of times).
The scheduling for that turned out pretty well. The store is down the street from choir so I dropped him off for the movie night before choir, and I got back from choir in time to hear: "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father, prepare to die."
One of the girls there for the movie night was in Bye, Bye, Birdie last summer. She was in my stage "family." I didn't know she homeschooled, but younger son said that she was in one of his science classes too.
Which brings me to this summer's musical. We had the first cast meeting for Once Upon a Mattress on Monday. I was so happy! It's always wonderful to see everyone again; older son said it's like a family reunion. Some of our neighbors are joining the cast this year which makes me happy too. It was good to see that some of the new people that I met at auditions are staying - one of them has the lead! I'm on the costume committee this year, which should be lots of fun. Older son and I stayed so long talking to people that there were only a few people there when we left.
Daughter was going to take Spanish in summer school at the community college, but that didn't work due to budget cuts (sad). She's going to do the musical instead (happy).
I missed the second to last Broadway dance spring class on Monday because of the Mattress meeting. I'm trying to figure out how to fit it in my schedule this summer. Right now, I'm trying to figure out how to fit everything in my schedule this summer!
Oh, and work, which didn't have much going on for a few months, is busy too right now.
As always, I'm sad that choir is winding down. May 29 is the last Sunday we sing. Daughter has joined us since she got back. There are times that I wish that choir would continue through the summer, but then I realize that I'm too busy with the musical.
Someday, I hope to post some of the (many) photos I took in Asheville.
Maybe in June...
* Which means I also won't read through/edit it four or five times before posting it, which really slows down posting. ;)
[Photo of the Grove Arcade (and a taller building) from our trip to Asheville a few weeks ago to pick daughter up from college.]
I had another busy day today - singing with the choir at two services (regular and memorial), talking with neighborly friends, gardening, etc. I took pictures but didn't get a bloom day post together. I wasn't planning on blogging.
I had to, however, after reading a friend's poem at her blog, The Reticulated Writer. I lovethe way the poem goes through thoughtful parts and slightly sarcastic parts and twists back on itself. I love the images. I love the way it's put together. I love the conclusions she tells herself at the end. I love the blog labels she has for the post.
You know, I hate to even say that much because I don't want to color your impression of the poem so I decided to white out my comment. You can come back and highlight it to read after you read her poem.