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Cosmos' Doggie Blog

My canine senses have become so in tune with the International Cottages Lawn Programs, my mouth actually starts watering at 2pm every Sunday from March through October. However, being Balboa Park’s canine ambassador, my presence is often required elsewhere at that time, so I have to be a somewhat choosy eater.

House of Iran, costumed dancer, International Cottages, Balboa ParkFortunately, a March Sunday line up that includes Ireland and Iran makes it easy for me to prioritize where I need to be when the Lawn Program dinner bell rings, because those two countries certainly put the “I” in international.

For example, you don’t need to be an Irish setter to know that no Saint Patrick’s Day celebration would be complete without the House of Ireland’s annual Lawn Program, taking place this year on March 16. Its authentic Irish dancing, music, and costumes, not to mention stew, pastries, and coffees, make all the other St. Patty’s Day festivals green with envy. This alcohol-free event is also family and pet friendlier than many other celebrations around town.

The following week, March 23, I like to celebrate the first day of spring, along with the Persian New Year, at the House of Iran’s annual Lawn Program extravaganza. Professional dancers from Los Angeles will be on hand to perform a variety of traditional ethnic and folk dances, complete with authentic costumes. The menu for the day includes … wait for it … chicken kabob, pita, rice, and baklava.

Rounding out the month and my belly is the House of Mexico's Lawn Program on March 30. Celebrating the richness and diversity of our neighbor to the south in a one-hour program makes this lawn program one of most eventful, colorful, and tasty of them all.

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Robert Henri, Girl with a Green Fan, Spanish Sojourns, San Diego Museum of ArtMy mail bag has been overflowing with questions about Balboa Park’s West End. For example, one reader writes: Hey Cosmos, What’s all this monkey business I’m hearing about a new section of Balboa Park called the West End? As a weekly park visitor, I haven’t seen any buildings, gardens, or cultural attractions that haven’t always been there—at least in my lifetime.

Your keen canine senses are spot on! Other than the removal of cars from the Plaza de Panama last year, there haven’t been any significant changes or additions in the Park of late.

So what exactly is this Balboa Park West End?

It’s an awareness campaign to draw attention to the five attention-worthy cultural institutions in Balboa Park closest to the Cabrillo Bridge, which is in the midst of a massive restoration project to keep it standing for at least another 100 years.

The message is simply this: not only is it business as usual at the San Diego Museum of Man, the Old Globe Theater, The San Diego Museum of Art, the Timken Museum of Art, and the Mingei International Museum, but we have lots of extra special treats in store for our guests.

What kind of treats? The kind of tail-wagging spectacles my bipedal readers get especially excited about, including the whimsical Function & Fantasy exhibition at the Mingei, the intoxicating BEERology display at the Museum of Man, an acclaimed performance of The Winter’s Tale at the Old Globe, and two blockbuster shows featuring paintings by Robert Henri and Joaquin Sorolla later this spring at the Museum of Art.

For everyone else, it’s worth mentioning that the West End is also home to the historic Nate’s Point Dog Park, which is still open for business as well and accessible by crossing the Cabrillo Bridge on foot.

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Cosmos Blog, Ask Cosmos, Bruno and RosieBruno and Rosie write: Dear Cosmos, the dog days of summer are extremely overrated. It’s really the final weeks before the start of spring that have a way of bringing us down. What do you recommend?

Cosmos: You hit the nail right on the snout with that one. Anticipating all the new sights, sounds, and smells that come with springtime can be excruciating at times. But this old dog has a few tricks up her sleeve for preventing this time of year from affecting my usual sunny disposition. What’s my secret? Sniffing out some of these late-winter activities in Balboa Park to lift my mood and make me forget it’s still doggie-sweater weather.

Desert Garden, Balboa Park 2014Botanical Building: This horticulture wonderland puts the green into evergreen, while an ample collection of blooming orchids can add a splash of color to any grey overcast day, even for colorblind pooches.

Desert Garden and Cactus Garden: Speaking of color, the scores of blossoming succulents and curious-looking desert flora in the Desert and Cactus Gardens can provide quick funk relief to even the most downward of dogs.

Sunday Organ Concerts: There’s really no better way to shake off the winter blahs than by having bright sunshine and up-tempo tunes piped in at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion concerts each Sunday afternoon at 2pm.

International Cottages Lawn Programs: These mini-cultural festivals don’t wait until spring to start bringing mood-elevating music, lively dance performances, colorful costumes, and warm smiles to the faces of park visitors.

Dog Parks: Pet therapy is really where it’s at these days, so why not start your course of treatment by watching cute, cuddly canines frolicking in one of the three dog parks in Balboa Park?

Disclaimer: All of the above activities are free and have no negative side-effects.

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Bark in the Park 8, Parade of Pooches, Balboa Park, Spreckels Organ PavilionI know Valentine’s Day is this Friday, but rather than torment my fellow lone wolves by describing all the exciting, fun, and romantic things couples can do in Balboa Park this weekend, I’ll focus on the best way that we can all share the love: Bark in the Park 8 on Sunday, February 16.

Once again, the free Sunday afternoon concert in Spreckels Organ Pavilion is going to the dogs—literally. Now in its eighth year, Bark in the Park helps raise awareness and much-needed funds for sheltered animals who have so much love to give.

Perennial pet-lover and San Diego Civic Organist Dr. Carol Williams will present a family-friendly selection of animal-themed tunes beginning at 2pm. As part of her grand finale, all leashed pooches in attendance will be invited on stage for their 15 seconds of fame and a fetching photo opportunity.

All donations collected at the event will support the San Diego Humane Society, which will be on hand to answer all your questions about pet adoption and how to otherwise support canine (and feline) kind.

Posted in Concerts and Events | add a comment

Museum Month, San Diego Air & Space Museum EntranceYou’d think after 25 years I’d get over it, even if I was that old in human years: half-priced admission to dozens of museums throughout San Diego County, including over a dozen right here in my own backyard, Balboa Park, for an entire month!

Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t be happier for all my bipedal packmates, who can pick up their free Museum Month Pass at any participating Macy’s department store to receive their discounted entry privileges through the end of the month.

Unfortunately, not being a certified service animal, I am not allowed to accompany them. Instead, I’ll be spending many an hour home alone during the month of February awaiting my family’s return. Well, at least they always come home with smiles on their faces (the human equivalent to tail-wagging as I understand it) and plenty of information about what’s going on in Balboa Park museums that I can share with my readers.

So what can I look forward to missing? For starters, a number of interesting, first-class exhibits at these popular Balboa Park museums:

 

Japanese Friendship Garden

Marston House & Gardens

Mingei International Museum

Museum of Photographic Art

Reuben H. Fleet Science Center

San Diego Air & Space Museum

San Diego Automotive Museum

San Diego History Center

San Diego Model Railroad Museum

San Diego Natural History Museum

The San Diego Museum of Art

Timken Museum of Art

Veterans Museum and Memorial Center

 

Fortunately for me, February is also Bark in the Park month (February 16) and the month that Lawn Programs return to the House of Hospitality International Cottages (February 23)—so I'll be back to my tail-wagging self in no time!.

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