A treatise on glass, otters and cedars

I stayed in Seattle for two more days. On Friday, after breakfasting with me at the Hangar Cafe right under the inflight path to the airport, Hal and Ulrika took me to Seattle Center, where the 1962 World’s Fair was held, and left me in the tender care of Suzle Tompkins and Jerry Kaufman. They asked me what I wanted to do and as I had set my sights on the Chihuly Garden even before I set off on my trip, after having read some rave reviews on the net, that’s what I said. We went there and I do not regret it. Together with the Niagara Falls and the Special Collections at the Cushing Library at A&M University in Texas, this was the most spectacular thing I’ve seen during the trip. That it’s even possible to create such works of art in glass boggles the mind.

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After that visual treat we went to the adjacent MoPop and saw their exhibitions of science fiction and fantasy. And the small Hall of Fame exhibitions with memorabilia connected to the professionals in the field who have been inducted into their Hall of Fame. Stuff like Asimov’s typewriter and the moving letter Alice Sheldon sent to Joanna Russ where she admitted that she was James Tiptree, Jr.

Yesterday, my trusted guides Hal and Ulrika took a day off the deal with other things that needed to be done in time for Worldcon, so I explored Seattle by myself, which meant Woodland Zoo. I spent three hours there, but my nice little Sony RX100 mk III, which has stood me in good stead, was not the camera you want in a zoo.

In the evening, I was picked up by Hal and Ulrika and we went to a party at Andrew Hooper and Carrie Root’s, organised so that I could meet more Seattle fans. I think we were sixteen fans there and I had interesting discussions about languages and fanhistory among other things. I was especially glad to meet with the rest of the Chunga team as I had only met Randy Byers before. Of course, now Andy and Carl are the entire Chunga team. But it was a generally good party with intelligent and entertaining fans. It kept going until half past one.

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Today, Sunday I have spent five hours in an airplane, of which less than two were actually in the air. Some obscure problem with maintenance of a strap that I never understood delayed us by over two hours. But now I am in San Jose, at Sten and Evan Thaning’s (and their dog Lucky!), and it’s time to go to bed. Tomorrow Redwoods await us!

The US is pretty large

Yes, rather a large country. The flight from Houston to Seattle took 4.5 hours.

Wednesday morning meant a grand farewell to John, Val, Duckie and all the cats, especially Theodorable, who seemed to have taken a liking to me. John took me to the shuttle bus station and in no time at all I was at Houston Intercontinental Airport again. I had time to eat a delicious meal of blackened catfish and to admire George Bush the elder. It’s a good thing that democratic countries don’t put up ridiculous hero-worship statues like they do in shithole countries.

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The flight was delayed due to a thunderstorm, but otherwise it went OK. At Seattle-Tacoma Airport Luke and Julie McGuff waited for me just outside the arrival gate, which meant that I promptly marched past them, not expecting to meet them until after I had claimed my baggage. They took me to Vonda McIntyre’s house, for I had been promised by Vonda that I could sleep in her basement guest apartment, and there I was promptly installed. After an evening snack I went to bed.

This marks halfway through my TAFF trip.

Today Thursday I was picked up by Hal and Ulrika O’Brien. We ate luch at the famous Ivar’s Salmon House and went to the Nordic Museum, which tells both the story of the Nordic countries (slightly compressed, one can say) and the story of Nordic settlers in the Pacific Northwest.

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The day ended with a pub gathering at Brouwer’s Pub in Fremont that gathered ten fans, and afterwards a sightseeing stroll through Fremont to where I am staying, guided by Will Affleck-Ash, Kate Schaefer and Glenn Hackney. In quite a small area of Seattle, they have a space rocket, Vladimir Lenin, and a huge Bridge Troll. If this isn’t a mark of sophistication, I don’t know what is.

Sine qua non

I and John left Austin yesterday after a wee stroll through town, during which I bought physical artifacts with music for the first time in I don’t know how many years, but if there is a good record store, I say let’s support it. And Waterloo Records in Austin is that store.

We then took the 71 out of town and stopped by the Berdoll Pecan Candy store, so that we could take photos of ourselves standing by the gigantic squirrel statue they have there.

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We bought some candy as well. The evening ended with grilled burgers and a reunion with my trusted companion Ducky, John and Valerie’s dog.

Today Tuesday we went to the Cushing Memorial Library at Texas A&M University here in College Station, which houses one of the finer special collections of science fiction in the world. John had asked the curator, Jeremy Brett, to show us the stacks. Which he did. Boy oh boy. They have, among other things, a Shakespeare Second Folio, the Kelmscott Chaucer, a Hobbit first edition, a Don Quijote first edition* and a bunch of other fantastic books and related stuff. Among these was the first issue of this magazine, without which I would not be sitting here in Texas writing this blog post:

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Isn’t that, erhm, pardon me, amazing?

*Purportedly, they have the largest collection of Cervantes in the world.

The armadillo is dead

So, Armadillocon 40 is over; I’m just down from the consuite where the last stragglers from the dead dog barbecue dinner gathered.

Saturday was good. I ate a simple breakfast of tea and toast in the hotel restaurant, and then went to a panel on moderating that was kind of interesting and actually provided me with a couple of useful hands-on tips. John introduced me to Brad and Cindy Foster in the dealers room, where I drooled over some books that I realised I don’t have space for in my luggage, and spent twenty minutes in my room figuring out how to operate the coffee maker. When I finally managed to figure it out, after having asked both the cleaning lady and the front desk, neither of whom had a clue, I shook my head over how stupid an algorithm the programmers of that machine had designed.

There was a TAFF auction that brought in $145, quite successful considering that there were only about ten people in the audience. I bought a fanzine with a cover illo by Bill Gibson.

Gibson fanzine

Saturday’s last panel was a memorial panel remembering the recent dead, swapping stories about Bill Crider, Gardner Dozois, Harlan Ellison, Brian Aldiss, Ursula Le Guin and others.

The big event for TAFF today Sunday was ”Busking for TAFF”, where John, when he discovered that no audience showed up for the concert, took the music on tour through the dealers room and the hotel lobby. I went after him with a bucket, and that brought in another $94 for TAFF, including a donation from Elizabeth Moon who was attending the con briefly, and three watches and several books.

Then the dead dog barbecue with concom and guests of honour, mostly, and the con was over. After some brief sightseeing in Austin we’ll be returning to College Station tomorrow for a final couple of days in Texas.

We’re not in Kansas anymore, Chloe

I’m in my room at Armadillocon now. The flight from Minneapolis went without a stitch, the stitches I had instead to put in my trouser pocket yesterday morning before we left for the con, because pockets with holes in them are muchly impractical. I took the shuttle bus to College Station where I was met by Valerie and John, who held up a sign with my name on it and a very Swedish chef. A picture will come later, I promise. I was fed and we talked until after midnight. They looked at my height and gave me their own bed to sleep in, which I think is record-breaking kindness.

Yesterday, after a brief sightseeing around College Station, we packed the car and went off. When we arrived at the hotel I had occasion to rue that I left the passport in College Station, because the hotel receptionist wanted an ID. They were happy with John vouching for me, though, as he was the one who had made the booking.

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So far I’ve been to a couple of panels, met Carolina Gómez, and talked to people in the con suite. Now it’s a new day at the con, let’s see what it will bring!

Good-bye, brave Hiawatha

Tomorrow I will leave Minneapolis after good days here. My typing is interfered with, just a thing like that. Chloe, 18 months old, really wants to know what I am doing. She has also curled up next to me a couple of my nights here and purred happily.

Yesterday I and Joyce had lunch at the American Swedish Institute (and although the menu wasn’t particularly Swedish except for gravlax and meatballs, the food was truly excellent – highly recommended). Afterwards Joyce returned home and I walked the Turnblad Mansion and saw the Gudrun Sjödén exhibition that opened there yesterday. Fantastic creations! Then I was picked up by Linda Lounsbury who drove me around and showed me the sights, although not the touristy stuff that costs money, but the parts that are either hidden gems or of fannish interest, from Uncle Hugo’s to famous slanshacks of yore and places that figure in Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks. I especially appreciated Lakewood Cemetary, where I got to see the graves of Cliff Simak and Gordy Dickson.

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The tour finished in Minnehaha Park, where I spent three pleasant hours with the Linehan-Reiter-Grubb family, relations of Linnéa’s that she met when she was in Minneapolis as an eleven-year-old in 1984.

Today Wednesday I spent mostly at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. I spent an entire four hours there, viewing their collections and taking advantage of their wifi to upload pictures to the cloud. The evening ended with a small party hosted by two Minneapolis fans, Irene and Scott, which drew just over a dozen people, some of whom I’ve got to know before, like Michael Lee and Jeanne Mealy. And I met Doug Wickstrom for the first time after having been acquainted with him online for over twenty years.

I have also picked up some things from Joyce’s garage for TAFF auctions to come.

Next stop Texas!

A day of rest

I’m in Minneapolis now. After the jam-packed days in Toronto, things have slowed down a bit. Today was meant to be an outing down Mississippi, but a couple of health-related issues put a stop to that, unfortunately. (Not mine, I’m fine, but Joyce had to make an emergency dental appointment and the person who offered to take me instead had to take his wife to hospital instead. She seems to be fine, though.)

I have spent the day walking around a bit, including getting a SIM card so that I can use my phone also when I’m not using wifi. If you need my number, comment below. I posted it to Facebook as well. Then I and Joyce went to eat, and I must say that whoever came up with the notion of crossing pan pizza with shepherd’s pie and Dutch pannekoeken was a genius.