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.

Shoes!

Yesterday was another fine day in Toronto. More overcast, and the temperature was more like 25° C, but fine by me. After weeks of heat in Sweden I’m fine with lower temperatures and besides, I’m going to Texas on Thursday. Diane collected me at Catherine and Colin’s at eleven and we walked down to the Bata Shoe Museum. It was a treat! The first couple of floors were historical and regional exhibitions, taking the visitor from Ötzi the Iceman to the Lunar landing, and from the African kingdoms of yore to the Sami and Inuits in the north. And the top floor was a temporary exhibition of the shoes of Manolo Blahník and it was fabulous.

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After that we took the subway (mostly) to the Black Creek Pioneer Village, which is an open air heritage museum of English Canada in the 1850s. We sampled a few beers from their brewery operated on 19th Century principles and looked at the houses they had gathered there. A very Skansen-like experience for a Swede. My favourite was the printshop.

In the evening, Catherine and Colin threw a TAFF party that gathered some 15+ Toronto fans, some that I had met two nights earlier and some new acquaintances. It kept going until 1:30 AM. A great crowd, Toronto fandom. A huge thank you to Catherine and Colin who let me stay with them and their three cats, and to Diane Lacey who spent two entire days with me showing me a small fraction of all that Toronto has to offer.

Now it’s time for Minneapolis. I sit at the airport, having cleared US Pre-Immigration.

Niagara Falls & Toronto

Yesterday (Thursday) Murray Moore took me to see the Niagara Falls. I must say that they were among the most impressive things I have ever seen. And taking the boat down on the river up close to the fall was also quite an experience. Many thanks to Murray, a most considerate guide.

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In the evening, there was a pub meeting at The Only Cafe, which proved to be a great little place with an extensive selection of craft beers on tap, even though it was hard to get them to grasp the idea of a small beer, neither Peter Watts nor I succeeded. I was very happy to see Peter and Caitlin Sweet there, we came to the conclusion that it was five years since we last met. And then there was a number of Toronto fans, both people I have met before and people I got the opportunity to meet for the first time yesterday.

Today, Friday, Diane Lacey has shown me the Judith Merril Collection at Toronto Public Library, Kensington Market and the very impressive Art Gallery of Ontario. We walked everywhere. I love walking cities and the weather has been great.

Toronto

Good morning, world!

All went well from Reykjavik to Toronto. The flight was half an hour delayed, but Canadian immigration didn’t come up with an excuse to keep me out, so I could fetch my huge suitcase and quickly spotted Colin and Catherine when I emerged from the depths of the arrivals section of the terminal. We drove into town and picked up some Jamaican food on the way and took home and devoured. My only previous ”experience” of Jamaican food was from Marlon James’s great novel A brief history of seven killings that I read a year ago. It wasn’t easy to make up my mind whether to try jerk chicken or a goat curry, but I picked the goat. And then I picked the bones of the goat clean from meat. Boy, lots of bones in goats.

I’ve slept well, must have clocked up over six hours, which is great all things considered. When I woke up during the night, a black cat stared back at me. There’s a lot of that going on in this house. Today: Niagara Falls.