This should be a post about writing, but it’s not! Instead it’s about my visit to the Stephen F Udvar-Hazy Center, which is part of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. This is a separate facility from the one on the National Mall, located near Dulles Airport. And it’s full of amazing things, even for someone like me who doesn’t know much about aeronautics or space flight.
There are two huge hangars for display of hundreds of spacecraft and planes, as well as windows looking into the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar. The Concorde is there, as well as a variety of vintage passenger and military aircraft, a U-2, and space-related items like a Sojourner Mars rover.
There are plenty of historical exhibits relating to space flight, including early capsules, a SpaceLab module and Mars rovers.
The Enola Gay is also at Udvar-Hazy. The Enola Gay is the aircraft that dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945. It’s one of the many military aircraft that are at the museum, a reminder that the history of aviation and space flight is about exploration and science, but is also inextricably linked to war.
San Antonio is full of little touches of art. Here are a few examples I saw as we wandered around the River Walk and the Alamo area.
The first two were New Deal-era projects. The artist, Ethel Wilson Harris, was supervisor of the Arts and Crafts division of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in San Antonio in 1939. These mosaics were completed in 1941.
More tiles decorated the trolley station columns at East Commerce street near Alamo Plaza. There are a total of 44 tiles by artist Ann Adams, completed in 2000.
Another mosaic was tucked away in a little alcove on the River Walk. I haven’t been able to find the name of the artist.
There are a lot more of these, if you’re ever in San Antonio and want to explore. Here are a couple of links to further info:
New Orleans is a city full of music. But I found plenty of art to enjoy too, in the amazing warm days we had in mid-February. I couldn’t get a good image of all of the works I liked — I tried about ten times to get a decent picture of this fantastic and disturbing spider sculpture by Louise Bourgeois in the Besthoff Sculpture Garden in City Park, but failed. (Link is to a photo by Paul Moline on Panoramio.)
Cleveland Concoction will be at the Cleveland Sheraton Airport Hotel on March 11-13.
This will be my second time at Cleveland Concoction — actually the third year for the convention. This year the con has an expanded Author Track, with more panels for writers and readers of science fiction and fantasy. Looks like a great event for any aspiring genre writers in the Cleveland area!
Also many other guests and gaming, cosplay and more. Check out the info on their website, here.
My panel and reading schedule:
6 pm Author Showcase (readings, with several other authors)
7 pm Book Signing (Author Alley)
noon Panel: Why Villains Matter
2 pm Panel: Influencing Culture through Science Fiction
Spent a lovely week exploring the beautiful historic cities of Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina. (With a stop at Tybee Island in between, to enjoy the ocean.)
In Savannah, I heard the story of the seven women who decided in the 1950s to begin the Historic Savannah Foundation, beginning with $22,500 to buy a house in danger of being razed for a parking lot. I wonder if they were taken seriously back then, or if people considered this a hobby? The historic district owes its preservation — and definitely its thriving tourist industry — to the leadership of these women, and those who continued their vision.
In Charleston, we heard stories of the pirates hanged on the Battery in the 1700s and admired the antebellum homes that line the park. But our visit focused more on the remnants of the Civil War. These buildings stand as a reminder, so we can look back through many years and from another culture to try to understand those times.
A friend told us about Schnormeier Gardens in central Ohio — privately-owned gardens open to the public for just one weekend a year. This year’s open-house fell on June 4-7, and the weather was great — so off we went.
There are actually nine separate gardens on the 75-acre grounds, along with water features including a lake, stream, and waterfall as well as a woodland creek. It’s a beautiful place, with a distinctive Asian influence to most of the gardens. You can read more about the grounds at this link to the Schnormeier Gardens website, but I’m going to focus on the sculpture, because that’s what I loved most.
There are many more sculptures scattered throughout the gardens, as well as a private residence inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. A beautiful place to visit — and almost hidden in the hills near Gambier and Mount Vernon. In fact we had a bit of an adventure finding our way out of the place without a GPS. But a lovely day regardless, and so glad the gardens are open once a year so the public can enjoy them!
I was fortunate enough (thanks to my daughter) to visit the Getty Center in Los Angeles this week, during the exhibition of “Renaissance Splendors of the Northern Italian Courts”. There was a room full of illuminated manuscripts, many of them the gorgeous, detailed capitals I was expecting, like this one:
Then there was the unexpected! For example this guy, who was having the worst possible day:
Saints Aimo and Vermondo were local saints — aristocrats who escaped a wild boar attack while hunting, and then dedicated a church in Meda, Lombardy. People prayed to them for miracles and healing.
Then a book by a fencing master and author of an early Italian martial arts manual, Flower of Battle. These pages show combat techniques for horsemen.
I particularly liked the combat manual. It reminded me of a book I used for research when writing sword fighting scenes. Renaissance Swordsmanship: The Illustrated Book Of Rapiers And Cut And Thrust Swords And Their Use, by John Clements, was a useful source because it had detailed illustrations — much like the ones in the Renaissance manual above.
Another post with mostly photographs! It’s still February, and winter’s dragging on forever — although we’ve been fortunate to escape all the snow that’s been dumped on the northeast in recent weeks. But it’s still a long, cold month.
So it’s time for the annual desperate pilgrimage to the conservatory! It’s lovely to walk around without coats and enjoy the green growing things — and the color of the conservatory’s orchid display.