volunteering

blog touring some more

Kathleen Ernst, who writes historical fiction (including some of the American Girl books) and who used to do living history performances for a living, is hosting me on her blog:

http://sitesandstories.wordpress.com/2012/04/11/meet-meg-justus/

This one’s about the Job Carr Cabin Museum and quilting in public [g].

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Categories: history, museum work, museums, quilting, volunteering | Leave a comment

A time to reckon, I guess

These were my goals this time last year

1) Complete my first two freelance museum gigs.

I did. Both well enough to get rehired [g].

2) Find more potential clients and land more gigs.

I found one more new client, which I’ve been working steadily for since April, plus, as I said, rehired by both my old clients, although one has since gone dormant till spring for lack of funds.

3) Go to more museum workshops and a conference, and continue Heritage League committee work.

I’ve been to two workshops and taken two classes, but I didn’t make it to any conferences. The HL committee I was on finished its work in September, but I’ve been asked to be on the board, and probably will.

4) Write the mystery house rough draft.

Well, no. I’ve been working on the Yellowstone trilogy, though, and I will get back to it after I’m done with it.

5) Revise Sojourn, last year’s NaNo book.

Again, no, because of the Yellowstone trilogy. It’s in the pipeline, though.

6) Figure out what I’m going to do about the rest of the Yellowstone trilogy (which may end up as a duology), and get back to work on it.

I did figure it out, and what I did was do one more edit on Repeating History, create a cover, and format it for Amazon and Smashwords. I self-published it in early August, and it’s been selling a steady trickle of copies ever since.
And, no, the Yellowstone trilogy is not going to be a duology. True Gold, the second book, has an almost complete rough draft, and I have begun revisions.

7) Finish piecing the Imbolc Flame quilt, and finish quilting the Yule Log Cabin quilt. Maybe start a nice, simple throw of animal fabrics and the animal cross-stitch patterns I did last summer.

The Imbolc Flame quilt is pieced. I haven’t layered it yet, but I’ll get there. The Yule Log Cabin, well… It’s the disaster I finally ended up giving away partly quilted. First time I’ve ever done that with a quilt. The throw has just started to materialize (sorry, bad pun). I started piecing on it last week. I’ve also created several quilted pillows and am almost finished quilting a baby quilt for the great-nibling due in April.

8) Find some good 6″ square flower cross-stitch patterns for my Beltane quilt and begin stitching them.

I’ve stitched half a dozen of them, but I got sidetracked with some other projects, including a cross-stitched pillow. The Beltane quilt will happen. Eventually.

9) Go to Crater Lake, Yosemite, and WorldCon in Reno in August with my friend M.

We went, we had a great time [g].

10) Do more research on Washington history — find some more good stuff for my writing.

I did some, but I got kind of sidetracked researching True Gold.

11) Blog regularly.

Weell… Regularly, but not nearly as often as I would have liked.

And now this year’s goals

1) Complete the new museum exhibit by the end of February, and keep getting rehired to continue the textile collection work.

2) Pursue more collections work as opposed to exhibits work. Only sign with the dormant client if they have sufficient funds to finish what they hire me to do and a concrete objective for that work. Sign a contract with at least one new client.

3) Join the Heritage League board. Take a Photoshop class. Pursue other career educational opportunities including the Washington Museum Association conference, in Seattle this year.

4) Finish True Gold and self publish it by the first of June.

5) Write Finding Home (the third book in the Yellowstone trilogy) and self-publish it, hopefully by the end of the year.

6) Learn better book marketing skills and put them into practice.

7) Redecorate the living room. My living room has had a lighthouse theme for the last twenty years, and it’s time for a change. I have picked out some cross-stitch patterns and quilt fabrics with North American wild animals on them, so it’s a start.

8) Finish the baby quilt. Finish the animal sofa throw. Make a new table runner for the sofa table. Layer the Imbolc Flame quilt and start quilting it.

9) Make new cross-stitch pictures for the living room. I have eight picked out. We’ll see how many I can finish this year.

10) Make my first long car trip alone in five years [sigh]. The plan is to take off for two or three weeks in June and drive east. Maybe a night or two in Yellowstone to scatter bookmarks, but I want to go farther east than that, maybe as far as Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. I also want to visit some of the historic sites like Fort Benton.

11) Get the garden cleaned up.

12) Blog more frequently.

So, what are your goals for 2012?

Categories: museum work, national parks, quilting, Repeating History, self-publishing, travel, True Gold, volunteering, writing | 2 Comments

so much

For my new year’s goal to get my blogging back up to speed again.

I thought I was coming down to crunch time on the exhibit project, but due to circumstances which are due to someone else’s deadlines, it looks like the exhibit is not going to open until March (it was originally scheduled to open in mid-February, then the end of February).  I’m ambivalent about this.  I’m about to the point where I want to get it finished, but then again, two to four more weeks of a chance to improve on what I’ve already got done is nothing to sneeze at, either.

The photo curation project has acquired several volunteers.  My good friend L donated a few hours of her time, and one of the members of the collections committee (except for me, this is an all-volunteer organization) has been giving me about six hours a week of his time, too.  Then there’s the college student whose school requires her to do a certain amount of volunteer work between semesters.  So I have her for about fifteen hours a week for the next couple of weeks.  All of a sudden the work is going much faster than it had been.  Having someone to a) label photos and their sleeves before I catalog them on the computer, and b) scan the photos after I’ve done the cataloging, has really sped up the process.  Quite amazing.

I’ve never been on the “working with volunteers” end of the spectrum as opposed to “being one of the volunteers” before.  Anyone have any good advice on the subject?

Categories: museum work, museums, research, volunteering | 2 Comments

geyser gazing

It has occurred to me that some people might not know what a geyser gazer is (see my profile, at left).  If you’ve ever been to Yellowstone, to the Upper Geyser Basin in particular, you may see some folks walking around, or sitting around in strategic places, with walkie talkies and the occasional notepad.  You might even hear one of the walkie talkies go off, with a staticky, “Daisy, 1114, ie,” or “Riverside, 1420.”  IE, by the way, means “in eruption,” meaning that the gazer who saw it did not see the beginning of the eruption.

Geyser gazers are the people who make geyser eruption time prediction possible.  They are volunteers, most of whom belong to GOSA, the Geyser Observation and Study Association.  Many of them also subscribe to a mailing list, which is associated with GOSA but not part of it.  Some are professionals, but most are enthusiastic amateurs.  All of them are passionately interested in geysers, and spend as much time as possible in Yellowstone observing, communicating, and recording geyser activity, in conjunction with the park rangers and the visitor center staff.

Since most geyser prediction is predicated on average intervals, lengths of eruptions, and other, more complicated algorithms, knowing when and for how long a geyser erupted is crucial to being able to predict what it will do next.  Making a good educated guess (geysers are not faucets) as to what a geyser will do next makes it possible for more people to see it. 

I don’t lay claim to being anything more than a very beginning apprentice gazer, and I can’t spend nearly as much time in Yellowstone learning more as I’d like.  But I do have a walkie-talkie (gifted to me by a very good friend), and I have had the excitement of being the first to call in an eruption. 

I called this eruption of Daisy Geyser

It’s all terribly addictive [g].

So the next time you see someone walking around the Upper Geyser Basin with a walkie talkie and a notepad, be glad, because that next eruption of Grand?  Just may have been predicted with their help!

Obligatory Grand Geyser photo (it’s my favorite)
Categories: geysers, outdoors, travel, volunteering, Yellowstone | Leave a comment

Done again

This appears to be my week (technically — from Friday through the following Wednesday, at any rate) for finishing projects.

Today I finished The Hat Project.  Completely.  Utterly.  Right down to the printed browsing records (which is what the curator prefers to have when she’s preparing exhibits, rather than browsing on the computer in PastPerfect).  All neatly in order.

The hats themselves have long since been organized and curated and recorded and re-stored within an inch of their lives.

And now it’s time to move on to the next project.  If you need a freelance museum curator/exhibits person/writer, and you’re either in the greater Tacoma, Washington, area, or need something I can do for you via a distance connection, I’m your woman.

So do please feel free to contact me, here or at my website.

Thank you!

Categories: computer, museum work, museums, research, volunteering | 4 Comments

quilting in public

For some reason, that always sounds faintly risqué.  Not sure why…

Anyway, yesterday was Pioneer Day at the Job Carr Cabin Museum, and here is the pictorial proof:

This is the gold-panning activity area.  It’s very popular with kids, mostly because there’s water and sand in that trough.  Lots of opportunity to get wet and be messy.  And find shiny things.
This is the old-fashioned clothes-washing activity area.  We also had areas for learning to churn butter, grind coffee, shuck corn, hang wallpaper (one of the many things Job did to earn a living once the population grew was hang wallpaper), and crochet.
Several areas were set up for demonstrations, as well.  Besides my quilting, a weaver shared the porch with me, and under the tents we had a blacksmith and these extremely talented woodcarvers.
And our brand-new canoe display.  This is a permanent exhibit, and it both tells about how Job found his land claim (by paddling along Commencement Bay in a canoe) and provides a nifty place for kids to play.
Oh, and here I am, quilting in public. The dress and apron/pinafore belong to the museum. The project I’m working on is a whole-cloth pattern (whole-cloth is the term for a quilt that’s just one big piece of cloth, not pieced or appliqued or whatever). It will eventually become a pillow. The thimble, if you’re curious, is leather.  And, no, I don’t use a hoop or a frame. In 22 years of quilting, I’ve never been comfortable with one.

The weather was beautiful, if almost chilly.  Pioneer Day was a lot of fun.  I hope it was for everyone else, too.

Categories: history, museum work, museums, quilting, research, volunteering | 2 Comments

The turtles have won the race

And here is the finished exhibit (well, except for a couple of small fiddly things I will take care of the next time I’m there):

Everything in both wall cases is new.  So is the “birthplace” sign above them.
Here’s closeups of both cases:
Just below the header is a timeline.  Below that is a picture of the original cabin, and one of the site pre-cabin.  Below that is a model of the cabin, and a photo of Job Carr, Tacoma’s first mayor (portrayed by actor Ray Egan), and Brian Ebersole, the mayor of Tacoma at the time the replica was built.  Below that is a list of the movers and shakers who caused the replica to be built, and an architect’s rendering of the location for the new cabin.  Behind everything are cutouts from the blueprints and elevations of the cabin.
More timeline below the heading.  Then a photo of the construction, and statistics on the number of logs used to build the replica.  Below that, some text telling about who was involved in the construction, and another construction photo.  At the bottom, a panoramic photo of the dedication.  More blueprint clips on the back wall.
I swear I spent more time hunting down enough “stuff” to tell the story of the reconstruction of the cabin — board members, a local photographer, the architect, searching through the museum itself — than I did actually putting the thing together.  And it took me about a week for the actual putting together.
Right now, the fact that the exhibit is done trumps anything I may feel about how it looks, the story it tells, etc.  It’s finished.  And, for the moment, so am I [g].
BTW, if you’re in the Tacoma, Washington vicinity this coming Sunday, July 18th, please do come by the cabin and take a history walk and join in some living history activities.  You might even get to watch me quilt in public.
Categories: history, museum work, museums, research, volunteering, writing | 8 Comments

moving like a herd of turtles

As a friend I knew back in Appalachia used to say.

I’ve spent most of the last couple of weeks working on the 10th anniversary exhibit for the Job Carr Cabin Museum, and I’m almost there.

I actually spent most of the time hunting down stuff to actually put in the exhibit, which will cover from 1997, when two local businesswomen came up with the idea to build the replica of the cabin, to December 2, 2000, the day the cabin was dedicated.  I have two whole artifacts — a miniature of the cabin, and some of the nails left over from the construction (they’re not standard-brand nails, but the kind that look hand-made at your local blacksmith shop).  The architect who designed the replica gave me some blueprints I’m going to attach to the fabric on the back of the display.  Everything else is photographs.  Some came from a local business, some from one of the two businesswomen who were the driving force behind the reconstruction, and some from the museum itself. 

The one thing that amazed me (and not in a good way) was how there were no pictures of the groundbreaking.  Or of the park pre-cabin (a very nice woman at the parks department searched for me, but even they didn’t have anything). 

But I did eventually come up with enough items to make the exhibit actually look like something.

These are the cases, after I installed the backdrop fabric:

The board in the middle will acquire letters that say “The Birthplace of Tacoma” and be hung centered above the cases.
The inside of the case with fabric, which is not solid black, but a Civil War reproduction fabric.  It shows up much better in real life.
The lefthand case with photos but no headers, text, or captions.  That will all come on Friday (I’ve got it all printed out — it just needs to be mounted on foam core).  The top two photos are of the original cabin and of the land before it became a park. The two gentlemen in the photo next to the model cabin are Job Carr, Tacoma’s first mayor (portrayed by actor Ray Egan), and Tacoma’s mayor at the time of the replica’s construction, Brian Ebersole.  The diagrams at the bottom are artist’s renderings of the cabin and its landscape.
The righthand case.  The light-colored square thing with the three dark lines is my nail mount.  The photo at the bottom is a panorama of the dedication.  The other two photos were taken during construction.  I will post more close-ups when the display is finished.
So I’m making progress!  It’s certainly been a learning experience so far.
Oh, and if you happen to be near Tacoma, Washington, on Sunday, July 18th, please come to the cabin for our Living History Day.  There will be walking tours of Old Town Tacoma and lots of demonstrations (including me, quilting in public again this year [g], as well as a blacksmith and a weaver and someone making butter, among others).  And you’ll get to see my very first exhibit’s debut!
Categories: museum work, museums, research, volunteering | 2 Comments

If today was a flower

This is what it would look like.
The flower in question is a nemesia, in case you were wondering.  A happy accident, picked up by serendipity as seedlings when I was doing my annual annual shopping in May. 
But that’s exactly what today looks like.  Bright, sunny, warm, and glorious.  And overwhelmingly optimistic.  The weather forecaster said this morning that we here in western Washington have had exactly one non-overcast day in 55 days.  That’s since early May, folks.
In other news, I am now on Twitter at @mmjustus, although I haven’t really dipped my toes in so far, and I am on Linked In as M.M. Justus, with a complete professional profile.  Please feel free to check either one out, and to add me as a contact or friend me.
The exhibit project is coming along nicely.  I met with the lady who was half of the driving force which got the cabin built ten years ago, and I have an appointment tomorrow with the architect who designed and oversaw the actual construction.  I am in the process of painting the overarching wooden sign, and picking out the photos.  Next up, writing the captions and shopping for mounts and background fabric.  Making progress.
I learned a good lesson on asking for advice last week.  Be careful what you ask for.  And be specific [g].  One of the challenges of this exhibit is that other than a small model of the cabin and a few of the nails left over from the construction, I have no artifacts to work with.  Just photos.  Which I happened to mention around and about.  Which comments were mistaken as asking for more subject matter, not more artifacts.  I wound up, as the museum director described it, defending the story I want to tell from all sorts of additions people wanted to make.  I have plenty of subject matter to fill two small cases.  What I lack is objects to tell the story of this subject matter.  I’ll manage, and I’ll make it interesting.  But I will never speak in such generalities on such subjects again!
What’s your best advice for dealing with conflicting input like this?  I would love to hear about it.
Categories: museum work, museums, outdoors, plants, volunteering, weather | 2 Comments

a new exhibit

Doesn’t look a day over 150, does it?
The Job Carr Cabin Museum is ten years old this year.  The original cabin was built in 1865.  After being moved several times and allowed to deteriorate, it finally bit the dust a number of years ago.
In the late 1990s, a group of civic leaders got together and decided that it was a shame that the first building in the city of Tacoma, Washington, had vanished (or, more likely, given our climate, rotted away).  So they decided to build a replica.  Fortunately, because Tacoma’s first settler had a son who was a photographer, they were able to replicate the old cabin accurately.
It was built in 2000.  Unlike the original, which was built by hand, by one man, the builders of the copy had access to modern building tools.  And a crane.  I suspect Job would have given his eyeteeth for that crane.
I will be putting a display together in the cabin’s two exhibit cases, telling the story of the reconstruction of Job’s cabin. 
I hope you’ll be interested to follow along as I construct this exhibit!
Categories: museum work, museums, volunteering | 2 Comments

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