Sunday, November 8, 2015

Houston Play Day

This morning, Jan came to get Judy and me, and took us to...

The Houston Museum of Natural History.

Seriously, the best dinosaur exhibit I've ever seen. Like, anywhere. (And I've seen a lot of dinosaurs. Dennis is my father.) The way they had them set up was super cool... and freaky. Predators were in chase, sea monsters had been hung from the ceiling. The lighting was... eerie.

It was awesome.

The very best part of the exhibit was that I made friends with a docent (you know how sometimes I just randomly smile at people, esp older men, and then they want to be my friend? well.... that happened), and he gave us a personal tour of both the dinosaur and Egyptian exhibits. It was really cool to have a subject matter expert showing us the highlights of the exhibits.

But the, hands down, coolest part of the day was when he brought me over to see this bad boy. He could not have possibly known what it would mean to me, when he told me the stories of how forensic paleontologists can often tell how a dinosaur died, by looked at the bones. (Breaks in a T-Rex's tail could cause them to bleed out and die. If the fossils have scar tissue, it's an indicator that a dinosaur healed from a fight that caused tail-breakage, whereas if there is a clean break in the vertebra, and the break is high enough in the tail, it's a likely assumption that the dinosaur bled out and died. Crazy, right?) But this little dude (uhm... not actually so little, I can't remember his name, but he's a T-Rex progenitor)... he had cancer. Most likely brain cancer (they found fossilized masses inside his cranial cavity) that metastasized to the bone. If you zoom in in this pic, you'll see the calcification on his breast bone.

I sat there, in amazement. You guys, cancer has been around forever. It wasn't always diagnosed, or treated, the way it is now. But cancer has been around forever. Like, it's a prehistoric disease. Crazy. And awesome.

Also, at the Museum of Natural History...  A FREAKING FABERGE EXHIBIT! (Which is actually why we went in the first place. This girl loooooooooves sparkly stuff. And Russian Tsarists history.) Because who wouldn't want to see an exhibit compromised almost entirely of eggs and jewels made for and owned by a royal family? 

This was one of the big eggs. Like, the ones you see on TV or in movies when someone's trying to pull a heist. It was massive. Maybe 6 inches tall? (8, if you include the cherub) All real gold. All real jewels.

These big eggs were the original Faberge eggs, with the treasure within the egg. Typically crafted as an Easter gift, for women in the royal family.

These minis were about the sweetest little thing. They were about an inch in height. Same incredible details in the design that the large Faberge eggs had, but these were made to be worn as charms. (Necklace or bracelets.)

The eggs in this display are... well... "egg sized", for the most part. Some are a  little larger than a standard egg that you'd buy at the store in a styrofoam container, but most of them are, seriously, chicken egg sized. There were three or four panels like this against one wall.

And here's a close up of some of the eggs, so you can see the detail.

I swoon.

And... did you know? Faberge made more than eggs. Like, say... jewel encrusted opera glasses.

Custom jewelry.

This is a pendant created for Alexandra Romanov. 

Cigarette cases and snuff boxes.

It was, seriously, so awesome. I love museums, like, with my whole heart. So, when I found out that the hotel had free/serious discounts for all the museums in the Houston area, it was my heart's desire to spend as many hours as I could stand walking the halls of a museum. ... Too bad I only lasted about 25 minutes standing, but Jan was a helper and went out and got me a wheelchair. All told, we were in the museum for about three hours. I made friends with the security guard at the Faberge exhibit, who told me which of the eggs was a counterfeit purchased by the collector in haste, and caught by the museum's authentication process. (It's the purple one in the top right corner of the multi-pic.) The materials were authentic, but it was a recent forgery -- not a treasure that was 100+ years old. The collector didn't take issue, since the relative value of the egg was close to the price they paid. (Maybe not the "deal" they thought they were getting, but they weren't totally swindled, either.) They keep it in the exhibit for the story.

Man alive, I love my life. I'm so glad we traveled yesterday for my appointments tomorrow, so today could just be a play day. I'm so far past tired that I can't... even. But today has been so great.

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