Books Emerge from Research

grimshaw_battersea_bridgeI am spinning wheels on the current Unexpected Magic work in process, which means I’m diving deep into research mode, looking for a way out of the corner I’ve written myself into. Having started my career by driving librarians crazy with inter-library loans attempting to dig out esoteric information, I am always amazed by the enormous amount of material to be found on-line today. I treasure a map I bought in London back before internet days showing me when particular areas were built and giving me all the lovely street names. Today, I can go online and get an interactive map like this http://tinyurl.com/hwnzr8a where I can zoom up on any area for street names, then broaden to see how my characters will travel from Mayfair to Battersea. And I can find famous paintings of the bridge itself, which was reported to be extremely rickety at the time I’m writing about. (see painting above)

And then I can dive into detailed descriptions of 18th century Battersea and learn things like this: On the site of Bolingbroke-house was erected, about two years ago (1797), a horizontal air-mill of a new construction, and of very large dimensions: the shape of the dome or case which contains the moveable machine (fn. 45), is that of a truncated cone; …having just space to turn round within it: the extremities of this machine are called floats, as in the wheel of a water-mill; …there are ninety-six floats, and the same number of shutters in the dome, which, when open, admit, even when there is little wind, a sufficient current of air to turn the machine, and, by a particular contrivance, shut when the wind is so violent as to endanger the structure. This mill, at its first erection, was used for preparing of oil; it is now used as a corn-mill, and is occupied by Messrs. Hodgson and Co. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/london-environs/vol1/pp26-48

Recognize the Hodgson? I refuse to dive down the bunny trail to see if it’s any relation to the items we find in our grocery store now. I need to get back to work. I’m so easily distracted! If anyone else hunts down that history, let me know, will you?

PS: Okay, I dived deeper and found this absolutely fabulous visual map of the Thames riverbank in 1829! Have fun!

 

Music Soothes the Soul

BBconcertWhen I was too young to know better, I fell in love with the Beach Boys and their California rock music. I swear, my daughter was born singing “Fun, Fun, Fun.” Maybe all that surf music was the reason we gravitated to the west coast. So when what is left of the group played in the Arts Center at Costa Mesa, it only seemed fitting to see the band that started it all. 

A blast from the past is just what is needed to make us feel young again. We rocked with an segerstrom concert hallaudience of all ages, talked to people who’d known the original group when they were growing up, and thoroughly enjoyed the talented musicians who have taken up the music with as much verve and expertise as I remembered from my first concert in another millennium.

And we learned more about this fabulous concert venue. I love the snail shell architecture and the wonderfully cozy balcony seating where there’s room to dance! The concert hall is part of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, an amazing complex for celebrating dance, theater, and music.

Do you have the opportunity to enjoy the arts? How often do you take it?

Find Your Dream

Edownton abbeyver since I was a little kid in snowy Kentucky, I watched the Rose Parade on TV and vowed one day I would live in sunny California and see the parade.

Two and a half years ago, I made part of that dream happen when we moved to southern California. Two years ago, we saw the Rose Parade from the bleachers. That wasn’t enough. It’s hard to really see the floats from the side of the road.dragon

Today, we got to walk right up to the floats and admire the amazingly creative artistry involved in building them. What is even more astonishing is that California has been in a drought for four years, and flowers are in short supply. The designers had to use dry grasses, leaves, bark, and any other natural substance at hand to create the floats.

dragons neckWe took a million pictures, minimum! Here’s a detail of the dragon float. I know the bands and the costumed characters are a wonderful, exciting part of the parade–but it’s the flowers and sunshine that lit my dark childhood days. I wish I lived closer so I could be part of the wonder of creating these marvelous floats!

me

Are you creating dreams to work toward? Tell me!