Saturday, August 20, 2011

Gilgal Garden: you should know that this is the weirdest place I've ever visited

Four months ago I wondered if Rachel's sunflowers were going to survive—turns out they did. Or at least the second batch we planted survived (because I know the first batch died a cold, miserable death). It's the middle of August now, in case you haven't noticed, and we finally have a sunflower.

I won't tell you much about the tomato plants—except that they're finally blossoming, too—because it just breaks my heart that we're not drowning in fresh garden tomatoes. 

That's not what this post is about, though. It's really about our last family outing before school starts. School starts not next week but the week after so naturally Andrew is booked solid all of next week. He's helping with new student orientation, teaching a few excel classes, taking a few different excel classes, and is just busy in general. So since we won't see him until December at best (April at worst) he decided to take his girls out. We skipped nap time, which some of us (namely Miriam) weren't too thrilled about.

Our first stop was at the UP! house in Herriman. It was designed and built with Disney's permission but will sadly have to be painted to boring old HOA regulation colours once it sells. For now it's really fun and perky!

Rachel was so confused when she saw it and she wondered aloud if "Mr. Fredrickson is a real-live guy."

It was rather surreal to be standing in what appeared to be Mr. Fredrickson's front yard. The house was perfect to every last detail—even the furniture inside the house was custom-made to resemble the furniture in the movie (though we didn't get to go inside we did peep through the windows).  

It was almost like going to Disneyland...only it was far less expensive and crowded.

I wish we could have seen it with the balloons attached to the chimney—I hear they did it for the Parade of Homes. That would have been so cool!

Stop number two was Gilgal Garden in Salt Lake City. It's a cute sculpture garden cloistered away in a quiet little neighbourhood and it really warrants a visit—but you should know that this was the weirdest place I've ever visited. According to Wikipedia, Thomas Child, a brick mason and bishop of the LDS church "began building the garden in the back yard of his family home in 1945, when he was 57 years old, and continued to pour his time and money into the work until his death in 1963." After his death, a neighbour bought the property and opened the gardens to the public on Sundays—but it was often vandalized at night by trespassers. In the year 2000 it was purchased by an advocacy group and turned over to Salt Lake City as a city park. They've been doing restoration work ever since...and they should. 

It's a treasure trove of...randomness...and (oh, boy!) was it ever fun to explore!

Thomas Child tried to represent artistically what certain scriptures meant to him. Since he was a brick mason and not an artist, I have to admit that his sculpting is really pretty good. Not that I'm an artist or anything, either. He did a fine job, it's just all very...weird. But he's cool with me thinking that.

"You don't have to agree with me," he said, "You may think I am a nut, but I hope I have aroused your thinking and curiosity."

Job well done. Everything was very curious. We couldn't help but try to guess what he was trying to represent and how. Some of the symbolism was easy to decipher. Some was a little more challenging.

Angel Moroni? Easy.

This li'l beauty? Not easy.

Mormon cricket? Easy. Random head on ground? Not easy.

Cornerstone? Easy. House on pole? Not easy.

Swords beaten into plowshares? Easy.

Joseph as Sphinx? Not easy. Even with the scriptural references.

Daniel 2? Easy... least for some of us—Rachel was stumped.

Miriam isn't very much into symbology at all yet so she didn't act confused at all.

We certainly had fun wandering around the garden, though, reading the inscriptions carved into the stones of the footpaths and wondering aloud about what certain statues were supposed to be.

The girls called this part of the garden a maze and chased each other around for quite a while.

Then Miriam started climbing up on the rocks and yelling, "CIRCLE OF LIFE!" at the top of her lungs.

We kept returning to the statue of Joseph as the Sphinx. It is rather impressive compared to the other statues in the garden and we have a long history with both the Sphinx and Joseph so we were just drawn to it, I guess.

We found a few other odd things in the garden, such as a set of four eagles...with Catholic Patron Saint Candles nestled between their feet. I'm pretty positive the candles are not original to the garden.

When found the dedication stone of the garden and found that in addition to dedicating the garden to his children/parents, pioneer ancestors, and those I am assuming to be friends and neighbours, Thomas Child dedicated his garden to Queen Victoria. As far as I'm concerned he can dedicate his garden to anyone he'd like—it just struck me as odd that an American, who had many overtly patriotic passages in his garden, would dedicate it to a queen.

There were also some beautiful flower gardens to enjoy.

Afterwards we headed over to Temple Square to enjoy the temple grounds. We drove around forever trying to find a parking space, which is all metered downtown. Andrew didn't have any change and I thought I didn't, either, but after driving around for about five minutes I remembered that, for some odd reason, I had a baggie full of quarters in my purse.

We went inside the visitor's center and the tabernacle for a few minutes but we spent most of our time wandering around the grounds, playing in the fountains, and enjoying the gardens.

The girls enjoyed the freedom the pedestrian-only square provided and they took the liberty of running every which way.

Miriam got to ride on Andrew's shoulders for a while. She likes to flip over backwards, which is something I won't allow when she rides on my shoulders. I scares me just to watch her do it when she's on Daddy's shoulders—the few times she's attempted it with me I've felt like I'm going to fall over.

 We spent a long time at the reflection pond.

The girls (especially Rachel) were so upset that we wouldn't let them get in and swim around. 

Rachel insisted that the people on the other side of the pool were wading in the water. They weren't—we just couldn't see their legs because they were behind the wall on the other side of the pond. Both girls were both satisfied when I told them they could lean over and touch the water for a minute.


We tried to get some cute pictures in front of the temple but the lighting was so bad. I felt bad for all the couples who had just gotten married—we saw about three different couples trying to take pictures.

If they had wanted to take pictures with the church office building behind them then the lighting was just about perfect for that. The sun was right over the temple, though, and no matter what we tried the light was so bright that our pictures were completely flushed out.

 We did squeeze in a few self-portraits:

And even had Rachel take a few shots:

It was a good finale for the summer—starting tomorrow Andrew will be off with his Mistress of Public Administration and we'll be getting back to our regularly scheduled program of school, work, and homework.

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