Friday, July 1, 2011

FOMC-A Little Bit of Everything: Interpretation, Maintenance, & Reource Management

This week at FOMC we had a special guest arrive with the desire to fly some flags over the fort. Judge Hines from Beaumont, Texas is retiring and wanted to provide some special gifts to his 35 closest employees. He purchased 35 flags to be raised and insisted on raising each one himself so there could be a genuine sentimental value behind his gifts. Between taking the flag out of its box, raising it, bringing it down, folding it, placing it back in its box, and repeating this for each flag, this was a slow process that required the aide of five interpretive rangers to hasten it. I was fortunate enough to be able to closely help the judge through this process. During his trip to Fort Mchenry, his family took over 300 pictures! Before leaving the fort, he took one final picture to conclude his trip. He personally asked two of the older interpretive rangers and me to join him in the picture! I felt honored to have made an impression on him that, with a picture, will last a lifetime. I was waiting on writing this blog because his daughter said she would send the pictures to one of the interpretive rangers for the park's personal use and for my blog. Unfortunately, we still have not received the pictures. However, I do have the two pictures above from my personal camera. On this same Saturday, I also gave another flag change interpretive talk. I completed my two weeks of interpretation in the beginning of the summer, however while working with maintenance and resource management I have been working Saturdays in interpretation because these two divisions do not work weekends. With this being said, the chief of interpretation asked me if I would like to do another interpretive talk because he thought I did exceptional on the first one. I took on the challenge and I am happy to say this one went just as smoothly as the first. Working Saturdays in interpretation is also so fantastic because there are always special events like ranger talks, living history, fifes and drums, and even artillery firing occurring every weekend. The surrounding pictures are a small representation of the interpretive events that take place during every weekend in the summer. This week I finished up my last couple days in maintenance and worked with resource management for two days. In maintenance, I did some brick work. I scraped out loose pieces of cement between the bricks to prepare it to be re- pointed. We also worked on the conservation/ preservation of historic metal furnishings inside the fort. First, we read a manual on the proper use and hazards of working with calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate is a nonabrasive mixture that helps remove tarnish off brass. Inside the fort, the substance was used on the brass door furnishings. I found that it takes tender care and patience to rub on the mixture and remove the tarnish. It took several coats and a little bit of careful elbow grease to get the job done, but it was all worth it. The difference was incredibly noticeable. I did not think to take a before and after photo until after we began so I took a picture of a different door handle in the star fort that had the same amount of tarnish. This photo, when compared to the finish product of the door handle we completed, truly displayed the difference.

The next task we took on was the continuing renovation of one of the exhibit rooms in the star fort. I sanded down some spackled spots on the wall and all around the windowsill to even out the texture of the wall to prepare it for a primer coat of paint. Afterwards, the maintenance workers and I worked together to paint the primer coat on the half of the room that was complete. We helped move the preservation process along and made it easier and quicker for the more experienced workers to go in the room and continue with the more advanced work.

The end of the week I worked with resource management at Hampton. The first thing they did was give me a formal tour of the mansion so I could fully understand the history behind the site. Afterwards, I worked on the Hampton gardens and pulled the weeds out from around the peonies. The Hampton garden is an absolutely beautiful site to see.

Lastly, I mulched some areas around the trees, removed dead branches, and cleared out leaves from under trees. I worked together with another resource management individual to ensure the wooden split rail fence was secured and stable in the ground. This task required dirt and a heavy tool that slammed down and condensed the dirt tighter together. I have noticed that compared to Fort Mchenry, at Hampton there is a lot more wildlife. All in one day at Hampton I saw multiple deer, rabbits, chipmunks and different species of birds, including a woodpecker.

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