Visiting the American Writers Museum

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The American Writers Museum, which opened in May 2017, is an 11,000 sq. ft. treasure store of displays and information that will delight people interested in the vital role that writing has played in the nation’s history. Ireland’s Dublin Writers Museum was the inspiration for the AWM.

Looking up at the ceiling beyond the entrance reveals a unique display. Dozens of books are attached, front covers downward, to metal arms. Covers with similar color schemes are grouped side-by-side on the arms. The effect is that of a rainbow.

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Instead of being a musty repository of manuscripts and first editions, the AWM features interactive touch screens and multimedia installations that draw the viewer into the lives and works of the authors. A large video screen that occupies one wall cycles through short presentations on American novelists and poets, from all around the country.

 

Past the video screen is a long hallway. On the left, beneath a timeline of significant events in American history, is a row of displays on deceased writers whose careers span from colonial days to the Twenty-First Century. For each there is a three-paneled spinner. One side features a painting, drawing or photograph of the author in question; the next side is a quotation from their work; the last panel contains a thumbnail biography. More general background information is located below the spinners.

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On the opposite side of the hall there’s a white wall with book-shaped projections, each labeled with a writer’s name and life dates. The “covers” open to reveal not only text but other insights. For instance, opening Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” occasionally releases the aroma of fresh-baked cookies!

At the far end of the aforementioned hallway one finds the “Word Waterfall.” Its a display of densely packed, seemingly random words that, by means of a constantly looping light projection, is shown to contain key literary quotations.

The American Writers Museum isn’t just for adults. There is a children’s literature gallery lined with wall-sized illustrations of famous books’ cover art and cozy couches. The room has a collection of “kiddy lit” classics through which anyone can leaf.

The museum also has a room for mounting traveling literature exhibits. When I was there the 120-foot scroll on which Jack Kerouac banged out “On the Road,” and the typed manuscript of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House on the Prairie” were on display.

I believe many people will find the AWM an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon.

Re-modeling – Part 3

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It has been a while since I’ve posted an update about the construction of my 1/35th-scale VW Typ 83 Kastenwagen. Things have come a long way: the cargo area is complete, some work’s done on the interior and the tires are in place. Regarding the latter, you can see how I’ve “dirtied up” the tires (the undercarriage, too). I held a match to the driver’s side front tire, so that it resembles a flat. Brushing graphite dust all over the vehicle gave it a properly worn-out appearance.

I wanted the cargo area to be littered with pawed-through mailbags and packages. These, and piles of letters, will play a part in how I place the American soldiers featured in the diorama. First I built what looks like a metal shelf to go around the cargo area’s perimeter. Then I trolled the Internet to find examples of Reichpost mailbags. I cannot pretend that everything is exactly to scale but I think they look well-proportioned.

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Next up: assembling the aftermarket doors and interior bits. Stay tuned, and tell me what you think about this enjoyable little project!

“Wining” away the hours . . .

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It’s common to stereotype California and New York as the only places in the U.S.A. that produce notable wines. For my money Michigan is right up there, too!

As of 2013 some 2,650 acres here were under grape-wine cultivation, with an estimated 112 commercial wineries operating in 2017. Many folks acquainted with Michigan viticulture associate the Old Mission Peninsula (northwestern Lower Peninsula) with wine production.

I’m no connoisseur but, for my tastes, anyone interested in wine ought to seek out wineries along the “I-94 Corridor.” Bisecting the lower tier of counties, this route features numerous fine establishments. Indeed, new ones seem to be popping up all the time.

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On a recent cold Saturday I decided to combat a bout of Seasonal Affective Disorder by visiting one of my favorite local wineries: Sandhill Crane Vineyards in Jackson. Sandhill Crane has a comfortable tasting room in which to sample its products, and a cafe that offers patrons a variety of delicious dishes. The staff members are friendly and quite knowledgeable when it comes to describing the nature of each wine.

The express purpose of my late-winter jaunt was to sample four new reds from Sandhill Crane. While a red wine aficionado, I tend to prefer strong or sweet varieties. As it happened the wines being introduced veered toward the dry side. Therefore, I took the opportunity to cast my tasting net wider.

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Sampling eight wines cost just six dollars, and in the course of doing so I decided on purchasing a trio of them:

Apple Crisp (in the middle below) is an estate-grown blend of Honey Crisp, Gala and Empire apples. It’s a great winter wine, one that will taste good whether chilled or warm (perhaps with a cinnamon stick).

Mood Indigo (on the left) is a rich, port-style wine made from Michigan blueberries. Perfect for sipping. This was more expensive a wine than I’d usually buy but I couldn’t resist it!

Staccato (on the right) was the sole red I took home this time. Semi-sweet, it has delicious “notes” of black cherry, ripe plum and spices.

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I enjoyed treating my palate to Sandhill Crane Vineyards’ wines, and would invite anyone to check them out.