pameladlloyd: Green Woman West - Self Awareness by  Johanna Uribes, c. 2009-2011 (greenwoman)
It's January 5 (Happy New Year, Everybody!) and here in Tucson that means cardinals. For many years now, we've had a mated pair of cardinals nesting in our pomegranate tree. My husband spotted the female earlier today, and one of my stepsons spotted the male, so we know they have arrived for their annual visit. Given that it's been close to ten years, now, that our visitors have graced our neglected garden, we do not know whether this is the same couple, or succeeding generations of a cardinal family, but we enjoy their presence, nonetheless.

This afternoon, we were graced with a couple of hours of liquid birdsong. Now, it's mostly quiet, with occasional moments of sleepy-sounding near warble. Are cardinals songbirds, as well as beautiful, or has another pair of birds taken up residence nearby? We do not know, but we are pleased, as always (except, perhaps, when the singing starts before dawn), by these cheerful reminders that now that we have passed the Midwinter Equinox, the days will be growing longer and Spring is soon to arrive.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (Default)
One of my local friends, Monica Spigelman, has written a great article about things to do in and around Tucson, in response to a New York Times article on the same topic. Both articles have plenty of fun things to do, but Monica's is a great way to see parts of Tucson that many visitors may miss. If it comes to that, there are a few things on the list that I've missed, so I hope I'll get a chance to try them out soon.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (Alya)
Yesterday, museums around the country participated in Museum Day, an event connected to Smithsonian Magazine, in which they opened their doors to some visitors* for free. My husband, Karl, and I took advantage of this to visit a new museum here in Tucson, The Mini-Time Machine Museum of Miniatures, which turned out to be based on the miniatures collection of one woman. (I didn't catch her name while we were there and it turns out that the website offers very little information about the collection or its source, possibly because they are so new--their grand opening celebration is scheduled for next month.)

In a small room off the lobby we watched a professionally-produced video about miniatures that employed an interesting "trick" in which the narrator is "magically" transported from the screen into a miniature setting to the right of the screen. Also in this small chamber were: a full-sized violin which had been modified to serve as a showcase for a number of miniature violins; a full-sized cut crystal decanter and wine glasses, along with a miniature version, also cut crystal, which had been made by the same artisan; and a miniature armoire which housed a doubly-miniaturized set of furnished rooms which if I understand correctly, would have been at 144th scale.

The main collection was housed in several interconnected rooms and each room had a main theme. The Fantasy room was divided into sections, the nature of which was suggested by a huge "tree" in the center of the room, one side of which sported a kindly face, and the other a more sinister countenance. The trunk of the tree was somewhere between three and four feet in diameter, I think, and provided little windows into dioramas with mouse themes. One the friendly side, the dioramas were of fairies, cute anthropomorphized animals, and similar fantasy figures. There was one wonderful setting that was quite castle-like, with wizards and dragons and such on the top two floors, and a grotto beneath in which mermaids swam through a resin sea. On the more ominous side of the room were figures with Halloween themes. The entire room was clearly put together with a lot of imagination and love, but was slightly disappointing to our adult eyes (the kids around us were enchanted) as many of the figures were commercially available modern miniatures. We almost left after just that one room, but decided to give the historical section a try and were very glad we did.

In the History rooms were many, many miniatures and dioramas the vast majority of which appeared to be handmade and quite old. Had the museum housed only this part of the collection it would be well worth the trip. Many of the houses which contain the dioramas look to me as if they might once have been dollhouses, although the level of detail suggests that only the wealthiest children might have played with them. Of course, they may also have been built solely as display pieces, and many others clearly were. I think my biggest complaint in these rooms is that I would have loved to have seen a history of each piece, rather than the very simple plaques that identify the county, setting, and time period depicted (or possibly the date of the piece itself).

In the History section, we also met five teen-aged girls dressed in Lolita outfits, including one who was in a Black Lolita outfit. Although I'd heard of this fashion before, I'd not encountered it before and didn't immediately recognize it, so I had to stop them and ask. They were very nice about it and quite willing to explain. I mentioned that the local science fiction convention, TusCon 36, which has got to be the best kept secret in Tucson, is planning on having a Steampunk-themed Cosplay event this year and the face of one girl lit up, while the others were at least mildly interested. Who knows, maybe I'll see them there this November.

* Why not all visitors? I can't tell you. In order to take advantage of this offer, I had to print a "ticket" which allowed me and one other person free entry. I would have preferred a more generous policy, and one which wasn't dependent upon an Internet connection and being in the know, although I was very glad for the opportunity to do something I wouldn't otherwise have done, since we're watching our pennies carefully while I'm looking for a new job.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (the lady or the tiger)
As mentioned in a previous post, the local library is sponsoring workshops on "The Fantastic in Word and Image."

Here's the library's description of tomorrow's workshop:

This is the second of three workshops where you'll hear trade secrets from veteran fantasy, science-fiction and comic book writers and artists.

In this half-day workshop, authors Will Shetterly and Robert E. Vardeman will talk about how they work, what inspires them, big mistakes they've made along the way, and any other insider tips you can get out of them! They'll fill you in on their latest books and upcoming projects, and of course, there will be a Q & A session afterward.

This session is great for fans as well as would-be writers.

Light refreshments will be served.

Call 594-5357 to register and for more information.

You can find Will Shetterly on LiveJournal as [ profile] willshetterly. Bob Vardeman doesn't seem to have a LiveJournal, so we have to make do with his website. I doubt he'll remember me, but I met Bob back in 1990, when I attended my first SF con as an adult. His story, "Eating Vacuum," is the lead story in Space Pirates and the story I wrote with Karl is the last, which facts seem significant to me, in a very small way. :)

I'm planning on showing up, as well, although only as a participant, since with one and a half published stories, I don't get asked to tell secrets of the trade. However, this rarely stops me from speaking up. ;>

ETA: The location of the event is the Miller Golf Links Library branch at:
9640 E. Golf Links Rd.
Tucson, AZ 85730
Google map
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (UFO over desert)
If you're local to the Tucson area, you might be interested in the series of three workshops hosted by the Pima County Public Library that starts tomorrow (Saturday, September 20, 2008), with the theme: Fantastic in Word and Image: Author and Artist Workshops and Contests.

The first workshop will be held tomorrow at the Himmel Park library from noon until 4 p.m.

Details behind the cut )

What amazes me is that I actually learned about this before it happened.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (lost girls pirate academy)
Tucson gets magnificent sunsets, but every once in a while we get one so extraordinary it's hard to believe. This evening, we had one of those. I managed to capture it on my cell phone, and while the quality isn't great, I'm going to share, because this is the kind of thing that's hard to believe.

Can you see the way the sky is divided, with one half blue and the other pinkish? It was far more spectacular and obvious seeing it directly and I really wish I'd had a better camera and a better place to stand; this was taken in my back yard, with the house and various landscapey things in the way. The sky was a paler blue to the South, and a rosier pink to the North.


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