RMW: the blog

Roslyn's photography, art, cats, exploring, writing, life


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Buttorfleoge or Flutterby… it’s Butterfly to me!

natural history museum butterflies

In researching the origin of the name “butterfly” I came up with two possibilities. 1. The Anglo-Saxons coined the word ‘butterfloege’ because the most common butterfly at the time was the yellow brimstone butterfly. 2. They were called flutterby (obviously because they fluttered by) in Victorian times and after a while the name was reversed to butterfly. Maybe a combination of both.

natural history museum butterflies

I make the effort to visit the Butterfly Pavilion at the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum every two or three years.

natural history museum butterflies

It’s somewhat of a meditative experience to mingle with the winged creatures for half an hour.

natural history museum butterflies

Our reservation was for 11:00am and I must say the creatures were very active at that time of day.

natural history museum butterflies

The docent informed us they were fluttering around looking for the right place to lay their eggs.

natural history museum butterflies

The butterflies can’t lay their eggs just any old place. It has to be the right plant or the eggs won’t hatch, or if they hatch they will die.

natural history museum butterflies

So every kind of butterfly has a specific plant to lay its eggs on.

natural history museum butterflies

So when humans wipe out certain kinds of plants the butterflies get wiped out too.

natural history museum butterflies

We humans continue to cause all kinds of havoc for nature.

natural history museum butterflies

In the pavilion there was plenty of mating going on.

Please click on an image below for slide show.

 

 


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Diamonds to brighten a gloomy day

natural history museum

We’re finally getting some rain in LA and that makes me happy. Of course the downside to rain is gloomy skies.

I had heard about some special diamonds being exhibited at the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum. So after a little discussion with myself about all the other important things I should be doing, I donned my rain jacket and headed for the train.

The nice thing about being a member is I can pop in anytime I like. It was 11:30 by the time I arrived and I had purposefully had no breakfast (a tablespoon of yogurt and a handful of walnuts to be truthful) so I could hit the cafe and order my favorite veggie burger in all of LA.

natural history museum

Outside seating was limited as I assume they had taken all the tables inside because of the rain. And the cafe was packed inside. But I was early enough to snag one of the very few outside tables. The photo at top was my view as I sat outside under the grey skies!

Advertising for the diamonds exhibit was displayed on my table. A true feast for the senses. Not only was I enjoying the most fabulous veggie burger with mushrooms and cheese, but I was visually tantalized by the image of the diamonds I would see after lunch. After the last bite of the burger I drank my coffee slowly, savoring the thought of what was to come next.

nhm-122316-033-c-500px

natural history museum

natural history museum

But before we get to that, the entrance of the museum was decorated with elegant trees adorned with sparkling jewels. How appropriate for the purpose of my visit today!

natural history museum

Now to the diamonds. This is the Rainbow Diamond Necklace. 35.93 carats total. Blue-grey (extremely rare), green-yellow, orange-pink, purple-pink, brown-orange.

natural history museum As the UV lighting is gradually turned up you can see the colors changing

natural history museum

With the UV lighting you see the rainbow appear.

natural history museum

natural history museum

Although up close in ordinary light the delicate colors are gorgeous. And in the UV light the colors glow.

natural history museum

Although up close in the light the delicate colors are gorgeous.

The Juliet Pink diamond is 30.3 carats. Pink diamonds occur in less than 0.1% of all diamonds.

natural history museum

On the left is the Victorian Orchid Diamond 1.64 carats). Purple diamonds are among the rarest. On the right is the Argyle Violet Diamond (2.83 carats) another amongst the rarest diamonds ever found. Decisions, decisions, which one do I want to take home?

natural history museum

On the way out (conveniently through the gift shop) I snapped a picture of the Christmas tree. I haven’t had my own Christmas tree for at least twenty years so I enjoy them wherever I find them.

natural history museum

Can’t visit the NHM without a visit to the Nature Garden. What a nice Christmassy display of berries. It was time to hop back on the Expo Line train that stops right outside the entrance to the museum. How convenient is that?

As I write this it is the evening of the same day. The weather forecast claims it was supposed to be raining 15 minutes ago. I stuck my head out on the deck and it is a light drizzle at best. Don’t disappoint me now!!!

Oh oh oh! I hear rain! Yes indeed, ran upstairs to the deck again and it is coming down in giraffes and elephants… I love it!

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!

 

 

 


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Spidies, dragonflies and lions

spider-pavilion-093015-034-C-750px

It’s that time of year again for the annual Spider Pavilion at the Natural History Museum. This year I was able to get the earliest time slot for my visit, 10:00am. Last year my slot was at 2:00pm (you can see that post here) and I wondered if a morning visit would be better.

los angeles county natural history museumAs it turns out I think the afternoon was a better time. It seemed like last year there were more and different kinds of spiders hanging out!

los angeles county natural history museum

I asked one of the guides and she mentioned that in the afternoon is when most of the spiders like to spend time repairing their webs and generally tidying up. In the morning they have just had breakfast.

I had intended to just pop in, say hello to the arachnids, then jump back on the train to go home as there were a lot of things I needed to work on.

los angeles county natural history museum

But once I was there anyway, I decided to wander through the Nature Garden. I am a member so (other than my $45 annual membership) I have free access to the museum.

I love spending time in the garden as there is something different to see with each visit.

This beautiful orange dragonfly (above) caught my attention.

los angeles county natural history museum

Then I saw this couple swooping crazily around the pond. They finally settled on this leaf to consummate their nuptials. Baby dragonflies coming soon?

los angeles county natural history museum

The original couple abandoned the leaf and moved on to a twig that was floating by.

Word got around and pretty soon another courting couple arrived. A dragonfly orgy.

I was using my 18 – 135 telephoto lens from afar and had to crop the photo down quite a bit so the quality is not that great.

los angeles county natural history museum

 

los angeles county natural history museum

You can see why I wanted to take a photo of this bush. Even with the dried up brown flowers it is still spectacular. And you may remember I was visiting Catalina Island recently. (See post here.) On this trip we didn’t go far enough inland to see any specimens. But now I know about it, I’ll be sure to look for it next time.

los angeles county natural history museum

I was very happy to see this fountain working again. On my last visit it was shut off and I was afraid it was a permanent situation because of the drought. But I see no reason why fountains with recycled water cannot continue to run. City birds (and other creatures) have come to rely on human-created water features. And I love to see water fountains myself.

california science center

Next door at the Exposition Park Rose Garden this normally exuberant fountain has been silenced while surrounded by well-watered, green lawns. What is wrong with this picture?

http://www.laparks.org/exporosegarden/rosegarden.htm

Meanwhile, back at the Natural History Museum, I wandered into the Gem and Mineral Hall. From the NHM website: The Gem and Mineral Hall displays more than 2,000 spectacular specimens within two large galleries that comprise what is considered to be one of the finest exhibits of gems and minerals in the world.

If you click on this link there is a good photo of the hall. My photo above is of the Quartz Crystal Ball, one of the largest flawless quartz crystal balls in the world at 10.9 inch (27.7 cm) diameter and weighing 65 lbs (29.5 kg).

los angeles county natural history museum

Photo of just one wall in the hall. Whenever I visit the museum I never miss the opportunity to see the gems and minerals. I never cease to be amazed at the different varieties and configurations.

los angeles county natural history museum

Some photographers travel thousands of miles at great expense to shoot pictures of wild beasts. I only have to swipe my TAP card on the Expo Line for a 20-minute ride to NHM! These black rhinos were kind enough to pose for me.

los angeles county natural history museum

And these African lions are having way too much fun.

The dioramas in the African Mammal Hall (and North American Mammals) have been maintained since the 1920s. I still have vivid memories of seeing them the first time I visited the museum in the 1960s (the first time my family moved to LA). Although exhibits like these probably wouldn’t be created today, they stand the test of time and I enjoy the opportunity to study the animals up close and personal.

At this point in time I was ready to go home.

And it so happens I’ll be back at the museum on Sunday meeting some friends for the Mummies Exhibit.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!

 

 

 

 


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Master class in Iberian art

Iberoamerican exhibit at Natural History Museum

My annual membership at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County has more than paid for itself in the past year. Note to myself: I need to renew.

Iberoamerican exhibit at Natural History Museum

It’s an easy trip for me on the Expo Line train from the Culver City Station to the Vermont station which is directly across from the museum.

Iberoamerican exhibit at Natural History Museum

Yesterday a  friend and I viewed the exhibit Grandes Maestros: Great Masters of Iberoamerican Folk Art, Collection of Fomento Cultural Banamex.

Iberoamerican exhibit at Natural History Museum

According to the website, “It’s a showcase of more than 1,200 works: colorful masks, intricate textiles, hand-carved miniature sculptures, yarn paintings, clay animals, religious and political altarpieces — associated with daily use or ritual purpose, and immersed in the traditions and identity of Iberoamérica.”

Iberoamerican exhibit at Natural History Museum

According to Wikipedia, Ibero-America comprises the countries in the Americas that are former colonies of Spain and Portugal.

Iberoamerican exhibit at Natural History Museum

So the idea is that the genesis of this artwork was in Spain and Portugal. Then it was transported to North, Central and South America where it took on a life of its own.

Iberoamerican exhibit at Natural History Museum

From the NHM website, “It’s also a celebration of power and beauty. These works were crafted by the best living artisans in the world, all at the height of their powers, and now finally visible outside their communities across Mexico, Central and South America, Spain and Portugal.”

Iberoamerican exhibit at Natural History Museum

“The craftsmen molded clay, carved wood, blew glass, and fashioned intricate pieces from plant fibers, paper, leather, silver, beads, shells, gourds and stones. The exhibition, therefore, is organized into sections that spotlight the raw materials. Whichever direction visitors turn, they’ll see the creations of artists from 22 different countries  — each making their mark using the same essential supplies.”

Iberoamerican exhibit at Natural History MuseumInteractive kiosks were utilized for information about each item. By pressing one image on each grouping, the information for that piece of artwork appeared on the screen. One of the docents explained that because of the number of pieces in the exhibit it would have been impossible to find the wall space to describe each piece on a printed plaque. I liked this better anyway.

Iberoamerican exhibit at Natural History MuseumSome of the pieces were painted after firing. Some were glazed and then fired.

Iberoamerican exhibit at Natural History MuseumDocents were positioned along the way to answer questions. Rather than waiting to be approached, they approached us to ask if we needed any information and then told us a little about the exhibit. I liked this proactive method.

Iberoamerican exhibit at Natural History MuseumOne docent commented on my camera and mentioned he had not yet been able to photograph the exhibit because he wasn’t allowed to do that during working hours, but he liked that people were allowed to take photos. I said that I appreciated that because in some exhibits photography wasn’t allowed and that always annoyed me. He said that in this case they were trying to promote the artists and wanted their work to get out to the world. So I told him my photos would be posted to my blog.

Iberoamerican exhibit at Natural History MuseumAll the vivid colors of the artwork made me want to grab some paint and start splashing it around. I truly love folk art.

Iberoamerican exhibit at Natural History Museum

Iberoamerican exhibit at Natural History Museum

This wall of masks was so much fun. Some little kids were having a ball looking at each piece. What a great experience for them to be seeing this.

Iberoamerican exhibit at Natural History MuseumAnd naturally I was attracted to this cat mask. Not sure I would want him running around my house though!

Iberoamerican exhibit at Natural History MuseumSo as I mentioned before, this is the first screen you see. You click on one of the objects  to learn more about it.

Iberoamerican exhibit at Natural History MuseumThis intricate work in clay was fascinating. I liked that it was left unpainted although most of time you would see it polychromed.

Iberoamerican exhibit at Natural History MuseumOne of the galleries displaying wood carving and silver smithing, among other materials.

Iberoamerican exhibit at Natural History MuseumLook at this marquetry. Isn’t it amazing? I am so happy to see craftsmanship alive and well today.

Iberoamerican exhibit at Natural History MuseumGold paper beaten into patterns.

Iberoamerican exhibit at Natural History MuseumThe diverse materials and styles were astonishing. Some of it looks ancient but it is all fashioned by living artists.Iberoamerican exhibit at Natural History MuseumI learned a new word: Repoussé, a French expression meaning hammered metal.

Click on an image below to start a slide show of the rest of the images.

While my friend browsed in the exhibit store I ran back through the galleries one more time to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. I was very impressed by this showcase of contemporary Iberoamerican art and highly recommend it. The traveling exhibit is in Los Angeles through September 13, 2015. If it is coming to your area, don’t miss it!

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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Spiders eating lunch at the Natural History Museum

natural history museum spider pavilion

Although I feel like I live in a spider pavilion myself, I decided to visit the Spider Pavilion exhibit at the Natural History Museum in the hope that I would see some more exotic specimens than the common house spiders that insist on living with me.

natural history museum spider pavilion

My wish came true and I have to admit I would not want to find one of these guys hanging from my bedroom curtains. Doesn’t look real, does it?

September 21-November 2, 2014

I thought these crickets at bottom left and upper right were hanging out waiting for a spidery supper. Duh, excuse my stupidity. Crickets are herbivores and it was the other way around… these juicy guys were waiting to BE supper for the spiders… and there was no escape… what a nightmare.

natural history museum spider pavilion

The visit to the Pavilion is with a timed ticket on the half hour and when your time is up they herd everybody out… not the spiders, the humans. We were allowed in five minutes late so I only had 25 minutes to roam around and shoot my photos.

natural history museum spider pavilion
The first time around I used my 18-135mm lens and the second time around I used my 60mm macro lens. I actually got some pretty good shots with both lenses. It was hard for me to hold the camera steady at all times. But I liked this slightly blurry guy anyway.

natural history museum spider pavilion

It was more scary getting up close and personal with the macro lens but I was assured (?) the jumping spiders were not interested in actually jumping on me…. shudder…

natural history museum spider pavilion

So, here is the proof that the crickets do indeed make a good fast food lunch.

natural history museum spider pavilion

My reservation was for 2:00pm. I imagine that at different times of the day you can see different types of spiders performing various activities. I would have liked to get there earlier in the morning but it wasn’t possible. By afternoon it was getting a little warm and I didn’t know if that was good or bad for arachnid activity.

 Sorry I can’t tell you the names of these little creatures.

natural history museum spider pavilion

As I was waiting my turn to enter the pavilion I did have time to wonder how I would react once inside. I’m not the kind of person who screams and runs when faced with an insect in my bathtub… BUT a tent filled with 300 spidies?

natural history museum spider pavilion

I didn’t have to worry. I felt quite secure behind my camera. And all the spiders seemed plenty busy spinning webs and trapping other flying critters so they had no interest in interacting with the humans.

natural history museum spider pavilion

A few months ago I had visited this same tent for the Butterfly Pavilion exhibit. The spider exhibit is on through November 2.

natural history museum spider pavilion

Spiders really are fascinating creatures, as are all members of the insect world. Why is it we enjoy looking at butterflies, but not spiders so much? When you look at them closely, spiders are gorgeous in their own way.

natural history museum spider pavilion
I think I’m going to sit out on my deck and wait for some of my spider friends to drop on by. Well, maybe not literally drop, okay?

natural history museum spider pavilion

Click on an image below:

Anytime you need a spider fix, please feel free to come back and browse!

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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It’s butterfly time at the Natural History Museum

natural history museum butterfly pavilion

Since becoming a member of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County earlier this year it is more and more becoming one of my favorite places to visit. And every couple of years I look forward to the Butterfly Pavilion.

natural history museum butterfly pavilion

I packed my 60mm macro lens thinking I would need to use it. However, I ended up shooting only with my 18-135mm kit lens on my Canon T3i. I keep thinking I need to trade in the kit lens for a more professional version but really for my purposes so far it does the job.

natural history museum butterfly pavilion

And, with a little help from my friends Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, I am not complaining.

natural history museum butterfly pavilion

I was overhearing a conversation between two photographers saying how much they dread post-processing. To me, that is the really fun part. However, I am forcing myself to concentrate on taking the best photo possible in camera rather than pointing and shooting and saying, oh I’ll fix it in Photoshop. That’s a hard one for me!

natural history museum butterfly pavilion

From the NHM website: Some butterflies in the exhibit mate and lay eggs, however we regularly fill the pavilion with butterflies from all across the United States.

20 species of California natives such as the Monarch, Mourning Cloak, and Buckeye

10 species of subtropical varieties from south Florida and Texas, such as the Malachite and the Grey Cracker

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Butterfly Pavilion

Various butterflies are present at different points during the season and the plants will grow and change. This means that each visit to the Butterfly Pavilion throughout the summer can be a different experience!

Click on photo below to start the slideshow:

Butterflies don’t have very long lives, anywhere from a week to a year according to the species. But as one of the docents at the pavilion said, it’s a pretty good life. As caterpillars they get to gorge themselves on anything they can find to eat (I can appreciate that!) and then as butterflies they get to fly around in the sunshine snacking on delicious plants. Basically it’s the same as my life philosophy: enjoy the day!

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Butterfly Pavilion

Don’t know how this guy snuck into the butterfly paradise but he seemed to be enjoying himself safe from his usual predators.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Butterfly Pavilion

Coming in for a landing on the back of the chair.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Butterfly Pavilion

This guy was napping in the pathway. Not a good idea. We were instructed not to touch the butterflies as the oils from us humans would destroy their sense of smell. So in order to get the creature to move out of harm’s way we were supposed to stretch out our hands to create shade. This would cause the butterfly to fly off  into another sunny spot. Sure enough, it worked!

Tickets to the Butterfly Pavilion are sold for half hour time slots. I lingered for 45 minutes. After taking my photos, I put the cap on my lens. I wanted to just sit for a while taking in all the beauty and giving myself a few minutes of  peace.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Butterfly Pavilion
Hopefully I will return in another couple of years.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!
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Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County reimagines itself – 2 – Bees, Bats and Blimps

natural history museum of los angeles county

One of the tastiest additions to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is the cafe on the garden level. You can get a pretty decent salad or sandwich and sit outdoors (or in should you prefer) and enjoy the view and sunshine.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

Steps leading up to the beginning of the garden trail are just steps away from your table at the cafe.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

This is a detail of the “thing” at the right hand side of the photo above. I’m not sure if it is functional or purely decorative but it doesn’t really matter.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Looking back at the cafe tables with the new north entrance at the left.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

The new entrance with the circa 1960s extension on the left. This bridge extends over the garden below. At upper right just a glimpse of the tail of the 63-foot-long fin whale hanging in the entranceway to greet visitors. More photos of the interior in a later post.

natural history museum los angeles county

Looking down from entrance walkway to children’s area. The original 1913 brick building is on the right.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

When the museum opened in 1913 it was known as the Museum of History, Science and Art. In 1961 the museum was split in two as the Los Angeles County Museum of History and Science and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

The pole in the center of the first photo is detecting bats as the sign explains. To the right is the tower at USC (University of Southern California) which is right across the street. I wonder if bats are living in the USC belfry!!!

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

The sign reads Solitary Bees have moved into this hotel. Bee quiet. Babies are in there.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

See any baby bees in diapers? I was afraid to stick my camera lens in too close!

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Just as I was leaving that day the Goodyear blimp came sailing by with the moon appearing above. It seemed like a fitting ending to a Good Day!

For my previous post about the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County click here.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County reimagines itself – 1 – Nature Gardens Living Wall

natural-history-museum-los-angeles-county

Over the past three or four years the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles has undergone a $123 million transformation and expansion. On a recent visit I was so impressed I decided to become a member. I’ve always enjoyed this museum but only at five-year or so intervals. Now it is definitely worth visiting more often. For one thing, oh joy, there is an Expo Line train station at the new entrance. I can only believe that placing the new (and grand) entrance at what was the back of the museum has everything to do with the arrival of the Metro train.

The above photo is of the new entrance structure with the original 1913 rotunda peeking in at the left hand side. But we will get back to that in a future post.

Since plonking down my dollars for the membership card a month ago I have visited three times. There is that much to take in.

natural history museum los angeles county

My first visit was with friends to see Traveling the Silk Road: Ancient Pathway to the Modern World. This exhibit is on through April 13 and very nicely presented. We weren’t allowed to take photos inside the exhibit so this is my one and only camel memento picture before entering!

The second time was with a friend who had never been to the museum and was excited about seeing it, so we stopped off for a brief visit on the way back from another event and she became a member too… I feel like I am converting people to a new religion!

The third time was on my own. I wanted to spend some quality time in the new and still growing (oops, no pun intended, really) Nature Gardens.

This post is about the 3 1/2-acre Nature Gardens which replaced some ugly parking lots (yes, in LA we have several instances of turning parking lots into gardens and parks, who woulda thunk?). When you enter the museum from the train station and get your ticket at the outdoor ticket tent, you walk directly into the gardens. What a nice welcome.

natural history museum los angeles county

This is the Living Wall which borders the north side of the Nature Gardens. I was fascinated by the multi-colored rocks and the plant life growing out of them. This is a living art piece!

natural history museum los angeles county

As the sign says, the general idea of the wall is to provide habitat for various kinds of creatures and plants. Whoever came up with the idea of using the blackboards and “chalk” type was a genius. These information boards are used throughout the gardens.

The Echeveria Mauna Loa are incredible looking plants… like some kind of creature from another planet getting ready to take over Los Angeles!
natural history museum of los angeles county

I could take photos of this rock garden wall all day.

natural history museum of los angeles county

natural history museum of los angeles county

In my next post we will move away from the Living Wall into other parts of the Nature Gardens.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!

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