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Cosmos' Doggie Blog

Spreckels Organ Pavilion, Balboa Park Dr. Carol Williams, Easter Sunday Concert, photo by Raymond RoyI have a confession. I don’t actually go to Balboa Park every Sunday afternoon when the Park is full of activity, including a number of free events such as the lip-smacking Lawn Programs hosted by the International Cottages and the 2pm concert in Spreckels Organ Pavilion.

Following a big Sunday brunch, I’m sometimes just too dog tired to drag my tail off of the couch. This past Sunday was no exception. I would’ve loved nothing more than to take in a well-attended organ concert as part of the Earth Fair celebration. But after a late-night and a bit of the hair of the dog the next morning, I decided it would be best to curb myself in the creature comforts of my own living room for the rest of the day.

However, thanks to the Spreckels Organ Society’s new Ustream feed, I was able to enjoy Sunday’s relaxing concert event as though I was there in the fir. Launched a few months ago, the live streaming of each Sunday’s organ concert was made possible when the Wi-Fi hotspot in Balboa Park was greatly expanded and strengthened last summer thanks to the efforts of the Balboa Park Conservancy, the Balboa Park Online Collaborative, and San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria.

To stream the organ concerts live on your computer or mobile device, visit the Spreckels Organ Society’s nifty new website just before or after 2pm on Sunday and click the “Follow” button to join the party. An integrated social stream allows listeners to bark their thoughts and comments during the concert.

If you’re kicking yourself for missing last Sunday’s live concert or Ustream, you can still watch a recording of it throughout this week. There is of course no substitute for being there, but it’s nice to know that our current Internet age allows lazy dogs like me to not miss a beat.

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Being a dog, I sometimes get a bad rap for not being very Earth friendly, especially when it comes to carefully landscaped sections of earth, as commonly found in people’s yards and, of course, throughout Balboa Park itself.

However, being so low to the ground, I am particularly sensitive to the quality of dirt I’m digging in. That’s why I am more than okay each year when the largest annual free Earth Day celebration in the world completely takes over my favorite sniffing grounds in Balboa Park.

Twenty-five years in the making, the San Diego EarthWorks Earth Fair, on Sunday, April 27, will once again welcome over 60,000 visitors into Balboa Park to discover the latest issues, developments, projects, products, and other activities affecting the environment.

At over 300 vendor booths, Earth Fair visitors will find traditional conservation organizations, products made from natural and organically grown crops, organic gardening information, alternative energy vehicles, healthcare products and services, and my personal favorites, habitat and wildlife preservation groups and pet adoption services.

While chewing on the various environmental causes, visitors can also chew on (and swallow) a wide diversity of veggie-friendly dishes available in the Food Pavilion and soak in some conscious-raising entertainment at one of five stages.

For early birds, and that’s what you’ll need to be for any chance of parking near the Park during the Earth Day celebration, there’s the always-adorable Children’s Earth Parade, which starts at 10:30am by the Spanish Village. The all-species-welcome event features pups (both two-legged and four-legged) dressed up as their favorite endangered species or presenting their favorite earth-friendly messages as they march through the Park, down the Prado, to the Children’s Area in Pan American Plaza.

Since dogs who blog aren’t exactly an endangered species these days, I’ll probably just watch rather than participate in this year’s parade.

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Cosmos Blog, Ask Cosmos, Lady WulfLady Wulf writes: Dear Cosmos: Is it just me, or can Easter Sunday be a serious let down sometimes? Once the early morning Easter Egg hunt ends, and I have sniffed out all the eggs, what is there left to do the rest of the day?

Cosmos: I used to wonder the very same thing. And what good are eggs anyway without sausage, bacon, pancakes, and potatoes? (more on that later).

Balboa Park Botanical Building, annual Easter lily displayA quick Google of “Easter Sunday activities” certainly turns up a fair amount of egg hunts and brunches in the area, but they are scattered all over San Diego County. And then, like you said, what to do afterwards?

Leave it to Balboa Park to serve up more than just brunch on Easter Sunday, as various cultural attractions present a wide range of activities for the entire pack.

And what a howling good Easter Sunday brunch in Balboa Park it is, courtesy of The Prado Restaurant! Their traditional pup-friendly Champagne Buffet Brunch includes omelets or eggs benedict; a variety of unique fresh salads; a pancake station; a whipped potato martini bar; a chilled seafood display, a meat-carving station, a dim sum station, pastries … [wipes drool off keyboard].

Once you have had your fill is when the Easter Day experience in the Park really gets hopping, starting with a tour of the historic Botanical Building to view hundreds of fragrant white lilies as part of the annual Easter lily display.

If your pups are newly weaned, you’ll likely want to check out a performance for preschoolers of Peter Rabbit at the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater at 11am, 1pm, or 2:30pm. Then be sure to hop on over to the weekly free Sunday concert in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion at 2pm for more Easter-themed entertainment.

Not to mention, every museum in the Park will be open, so lucky dogs holding a Balboa Park Annual Explorer Pass for families can freely explore with their entire brood any new exhibits and hands-on activities scheduled for the day without worrying about paying daily admission prices.

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One of the greatest challenges for pack leaders is keeping tabs on what their pups are doing once school is out for the summer. While stuck in the office from 9 to 5 each day, parents either have to pony up big bucks for an all-day sitter or childcare facility, or trust that their teenagers will not act like, well, teenagers.

Dino Camp, San Diego Natural History Museum, Balboa Park, Cosmos BlogYes, I’m sure there are some quality daycare facilities in our community worthy of their fee, just as I’m sure there are some responsible sitters and, ahem, perhaps even teenagers. But why throw your hard-earned bones at just any summertime kenneling option when you can have your pups supervised in a manner that won’t make them feel like they are being babysat at a Balboa Park Summer Camp?

There are in fact so many different weeklong Balboa Park Summer Camps available, parents can literally keep pups of any age, including preschoolers, happily engaged from morning until late afternoon, Monday through Friday, from mid June through the month of August.

A variety of full-day camps are available at the San Diego Natural History Museum, the San Diego Zoo, and the San Diego Junior Theatre. And for restless pups constantly seeking new experiences in the arts, sciences, and other hobbies, a dozen cultural institutions in Balboa Park are collaborating on a half-day camp program.

The half-day camps enable families to drop their entire brood off for the entire day, as each pup joins a camp suited to his or her tastes and grade level in the morning, enjoy a chaperoned lunch with other kids, and then be escorted to the next adventure at a different cultural attraction in the Park.

To get a leg up on the more popular camps that fill up quickly, be sure to start the planning and registration process soon by contacting each institution’s summer camp office directly.

Posted in Stuff to Do | add a comment

San Diego Mineral and Gem Society Museum SpecimenThrough my incessant digging over the years, I’ve uncovered quite a few gems buried deep in the soil. But as my collection of colorful stones keeps growing, I seem to know less and less about everything I’ve managed to get my paws on.

Thankfully there’s quite a group of fellow rockhounds right here in Balboa Park that can help me identify what I’ve dug up. Known as the San Diego Mineral and Gem Society, they meet regularly in the Spanish Village Art Center and even offer classes that give me nifty craft ideas on how to get the most out of my rocks’ various colors, shapes, sizes, and textures.

Not being much of a lap dog, I didn’t think I could ever associate myself with anything termed “lapidary,” but through my recent education at the San Diego Mineral and Gem Society in collecting and transforming gems and minerals into decorative works of art, including jewelry, I can now honestly call myself a lapidarist.

The San Diego Mineral and Gem Society can in fact help anyone, not just prolific diggers, increase their understanding and appreciation of gems, minerals, and fossils (but not bones so much). The society offers an ongoing schedule of classes, lectures, field trips, and other special programs that explore the many facets (pun intended) of the lapidary arts.

To get a taste of what the society has to offer, a good place to start is their museum located at the northwest corner of the pooch-friendly Spanish Village Art Center. The museum displays fetching specimens of minerals, rocks, and fossils that the society has acquired through purchases and donations. Admission is free and the museum is open seven days a week, 11am to 4pm.

So next time you catch your best four-legged friend digging in the garden, you might want to check out what she is uncovering before putting her in the doghouse.

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