The river runneth over

The mighty Ohio River has been spilling over its banks onto our State Historic Sites this week … Lanier Mansion’s gardens in Madison got more than watered, and Angel Mounds in Evansville saw more than their share of flooding as well.  Hopefully better weather this weekend will help to dry things out. We’re also hoping that all these April showers bring beautiful May flowers!

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A yo-yo Fountain of Youth

Eric Todd, Science & Technology Program Specialist

Earlier this month I turned 27 years old. The main gift I received from my mom was a rice pack. If you’re unfamiliar, and most are, this is a cloth bag filled with rice that can be heated in the microwave or chilled in the freezer for use in the relief of bodily aches and pains. Now, I’m certainly not willing to admit that I’m getting old, but I definitely felt younger when I was tearing open birthday packages filled with action figures or sports equipment than when receiving a bag designed to erase the daily toll life takes on me.

If I work hard enough, the 2012 contest is within reach.

The point is, I loved being a kid, and I often feel that the simple joys of my youth have now passed me by. Wow, that sounded incredibly depressing. But the truth is, I’ve recently been inspired to rediscover the fun of my personal yesteryear. With the rice pack serving as the latest reminder that my life and hobbies are not quite as youthful and fun as they once were, I have embraced the museum’s preparation for the 2011 Indiana State Yo-yo Contest as a miniature fountain of youth.

I’ve always enjoyed playing with a yo-yo. Now, I hate to brag, but I happen to think I’m pretty good too. I mean, you hand me a yo-yo, I can keep that baby humming for quite some time. Sure, it’s not easy, and as I’ve been practicing at my desk I’ve found that yo-yoing is a challenge that has its ups and downs — I felt obligated to work that in — but I stood confidently by my yo-yo skills. Until I saw this video. This video rattled my self-image and shattered the very core of what I thought I knew about yo-yoing. And I loved it.

That video was my first introduction to what I would be seeing at the yo-yo contest. With the upbeat music and fast-paced tricks, it never dawned on me that something with such a modern feel could have such a long history. With yo-yo contests dating back more than 80 years and the Indiana contest being one of the longest running in the United States, I can’t help but feel that I’ll be witnessing history on April 29 and 30 at the 2011 Contest. With competitors coming from all over the country, I feel spoiled to think that my first yo-yo experience will feature the best of the best. Plus, with vendors on hand and the competitors accessible with tips, I’m selfishly hoping to exploit their expertise to add a trick or two — I’d be happy with one — to my own repertoire.

I cannot confirm the legitimacy of this MVP award, but maybe I should have stuck with baseball.

As a closet full of toys and games in my bedroom back home can attest (to my parents, if you’re reading this: do not throw anything away), I attempted many things in my day, but mastered few. And while I don’t regret casting aside my Pog collection and rarely lament my failure to collect every WWF wrestling figure (full disclosure, I’d still like to have those), watching these yo-yoers has caused me to wonder what could have been. Maybe it’s not too late for me to be the next great Erector Set architect, but for now, I’m looking forward to living vicariously through the competitors at the 2011 Indiana State Yo-yo Contest.

The Indiana State Museum is hosting the 2011 Indiana State Yo-yo Contest on April 29 and 30.

Calling all quilters!

by Joanna Hahn, Manager of Arts and Culture Programs

In 2008, hundreds of quilters from across Indiana and beyond helped the Indiana State Museum and the Quilter’s Guild of Indianapolis piece quilt blocks. The quilt blocks were used in the creation of quilts donated through Quilts of Valor to veteran’s recovering at the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis. In conjunction with the exhibit Frugal & Fancy: Indiana Quilts, the Indiana State Museum is teaming up with QGI again for a Quilt-In on May 21 and 22 to benefit charities.

Finished quilts awaiting delivery to charities.

What is a quilt-in? The Quilter’s Guild of Indianapolis hosts monthly quilt-ins where quilters bring their own sewing supplies and, using materials donated by other quilters, piece together quilts to be donated to a local charity. But this is also an opportunity to get together with other quilters!

Are you a quilter and interested in helping out? QGI members will be hosting a Quilt-In at the Indiana State Museum on Saturday May 21 from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and May 22 from 10:30 to 3 p.m. Please bring your own sewing supplies, though some sewing machines will be available. This event is free and registration is not required (attendance does not include admission to the museum). When you arrive to the museum, head to Level 2. The quilters will be located in the School No. 5 classroom.

Attend one day or both days! More quilters means more completed quilts; and more quilts can be given to charity!

April showers in Brown County (umbrellas included)

Written by Davie Kean, master gardener at the T.C. Steele State Historic Site

The arrival of spring might be described as lenient, merciful and mild. These terms are also the definition of the word clement, Theodore Steele’s middle name.

I’ve never lived in a city, but I expect that city dwellers also have budding expectations as the end of winter becomes more than just wishful thinking. We all await signs of spring — snowdrops, short sleeves — even rain! A bluebird’s trill one day, a drift of daffodils the next. Spring is cumulative.

Actually spring is more of a dance — two steps forward, one step back. After being teased by temps in the low 70s, it’s back to barely above freezing — but great weather for clearing out the flower beds in Selma Steele’s historic gardens. For you, T.C. Steele’s studio and the country home he shared with his wife Selma offer a glimpse into the past and the arrival of a new season, while sheltered from inclement weather.

T.C. Steele staff member Mary Ann Woerner captured this cheery April scene, despite the drizzle.

Although the site has much to offer on sunny days, (a hike along our wooded trails, a meditative moment at the cemetery, or a stroll through the historic gardens) it’s just as inspiring when the forecast turns gray. Sure, you could remain comfortable and cozy at home, but why not experience a bit of life in the early 1900s — and feel even more comfy in comparison?

Just as 40 degree temperatures feel cool in April but warm in January, comfort is relative. The Steele’s lifestyle (a term yet to be invented in their day) was opulent compared to that of their new Brown County neighbors, but mainstream in Indianapolis, where they usually wintered until 1916.

Eventually, Nature’s attractions overcame convenience, and T.C. and Selma decided to stay in Brown County year-round. Our schedule now coincides with theirs — we’re open year-round — whatever the weather. Don’t let the rain stop you from visiting. We’re high and dry on Bracken Hill.*

Experience spring in both 1907 and 2011. Let your expectations rise along with the waters of Salt Creek. Next time it rains, take a trek to Brown County and enjoy art, history and nature on 211 acres. Leave your umbrellas at home — we have plenty to spare.

*If spring floods leave the road underwater, call 812.988.2785 for detour directions.