29 August 2016 - FREDERICK OLMSTED




FREDERICK OLMSTED

G'day folks,

Welcome to the life of an interesting character. Frederick Law Olmsted was an American landscape architect, journalist, social critic, and public administrator. He is popularly considered to be the father of American landscape architecture.


Today, the name of Frederick Law Olmsted is closely associated with Central Park. As a designer, he helped create the layout and look of the park; as superintendent, he taught visitors how to use the new space. But it took a series of fortunate events for Olmsted to end up working on Central Park, and for his plans for the spot to become reality. To celebrate his birthday, here are five facts regarding Olmsted and his instrumental involvement with the birth of Central Park.

A Man in Search of a Job

In the summer of 1857, 35-year-old Frederick Law Olmsted desperately needed money (the economy was in bad shape, he had been part of a failed publishing venture and he was in debt to family and friends). One day in August, while taking tea at an inn in Morris Cove, Connecticut, he happened to learn that the Central Park board, which was overseeing plans to build a park in the middle of New York City, was looking for a superintendent at a salary of $3,000/year. Olmsted quickly decided to apply for the position.

Olmsted's past experience — he'd been a farmer, yet had more recently worked in journalism and publishing — didn't make him a shoo-in as superintendent, but his application had other strengths. Powerful men in New York, including James Alexander Hamilton (son of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton) and writer Washington Irving, offered their support. And because Olmsted was a Republican who lacked strong political ties, he was acceptable to both Republicans and Democrats.



 Olmsted was named as superintendent in September 1857 — but at a salary that was half what he'd initially expected. However, the pay cut didn't keep him from accepting the position. In a letter, he admitted to his brother, "On the whole, as the times are, I shall think myself fortunate if I can earn $1500."

Beginning of a Beautiful Partnership

As superintendent, Olmsted oversaw the draining and clearing necessary to transform a swampy and rocky 770-acre site into more manageable land. He did his job well, but it had nothing to do with park design. In fact, Olmsted only began to consider designing Central Park thanks to architect Calvert Vaux.

 Vaux convinced the park board to hold a design competition, then asked Olmsted to collaborate with him on a submission. This invitation wasn't because Vaux had somehow discerned what would turn out to be Olmsted's prodigious talent for landscape design — instead, Vaux knew that as superintendent, Olmsted would have a wealth of topographical information to offer (the topographical map that design contestants were supposed to work with was reportedly inaccurate).

Olmsted's supervisor, Egbert Viele, had submitted a design, so Olmsted was hesitant about entering the competition. But when he broached the subject with his supervisor, Viele made it clear that he wasn't worried about Olmsted; Olmsted therefore agreed to partner with Vaux.



The Best Design

Because they both had day jobs — Olmsted as park superintendent, Vaux at his architectural firm — the pair had to collaborate at night and on weekends. The competition's closing date was April 1, 1858, and they worked up until the very last minute; in fact, their submission, which was called Greensward, was handed in after the deadline (but fortunately still accepted).

Greensward offered winding paths and groves of trees intended to make the rectangular Central Park site more enticing. It also contained an ingenious solution for traffic that needed to cross the park: sunken roadways that would leave parkgoers undisturbed. The 33 designs in the competition were of varying interest and quality — one plan wanted meadows shaped in the form of the world's continents, while another submission was nothing more than a drawing of a pyramid — but Greensward was in a class by itself. It won first prize.

Vaux and Olmsted had fully partnered on the design. However, it was Olmsted who was named architect-in-chief of Central Park in May 1858 — though it was Vaux, not Olmsted, who was the actual architect. Olmsted got the promotion as he was already in place as superintendent, and would be the one to supervise most of the work in the park. Vaux was given the title of Olmsted's assistant.



  The design win and the position of architect-in-chief didn't mean that Olmsted and Greensward had a smooth path ahead. Soon two wealthy and powerful commissioners on the Central Park board — Robert Dillon and August Belmont — came up with a few design "improvements." One called for the creation of a straight promenade, Cathedral Avenue, that would run almost the entire length of the park.

Cathedral Avenue upended Olmsted and Vaux's design, as the long tree-lined street would destroy their vision of a separate green oasis in the city (which was a desperate need — at the time, poorer citizens had to visit cemeteries when they wanted recreational space). But Dillon and Belmont were accustomed to getting what they wanted. They took out advertisements in favor of their changes, which began to receive positive attention.

Fortunately, Olmsted still had connections to New York City's newsmen, and showed some of them how the proposed alterations would destroy his design. The writers and editors who were convinced voiced their support in print; one wrote about Greensward, "It is not only so beautiful in its grand outlines and its details, but so complete, symmetrical, and consistent with itself, that it can hardly be changed in any essential point." Though there would be smaller alterations, the tide of public attention turned, and overall the Olmsted/Vaux plan was safe.



A Park for All the People

From the moment Central Park first opened for ice skating on December 11, 1858, it was a hit with the public. And while Olmsted was glad that people liked the park, he also wanted park visitors to follow some guidelines. He'd once noted, "A large part of the people of New York are ignorant of a park.... They will need to be trained in the proper use of it and be restrained in the abuse of it."

To accomplish this, Olmsted posted hundreds of signs for visitors (forbidding actions such as throwing stones, annoying birds and picking flowers or leaves). He also assembled a force of park keepers. These keepers were taught to interact respectfully with the public, while still enforcing park rules; to make it expressly clear that they were not part of the regular city police force, they sported gray uniforms instead of blue.

Under Olmsted's guiding hand, Central Park succeeded in becoming a locale where all members of society were welcome. As he'd wanted, it offered "healthful recreation for the poor and the rich, the young and the old, the vicious and the virtuous." And if he were to see his park today, Olmsted would find that it's still a beloved spot where New Yorkers and visitors alike can enjoy themselves.
 

Clancy's comment: One of the most interesting park's I've ever visited, and a great place to observe people and take photographs.

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27 August 2016 - GREAT WISDOM & HUMOUR





GREAT WISDOM
AND HUMOUR

G'day folks,

Yep, time for some wise quips and a touch of humour to make you smile.





















































Clancy's comment: Hope you enjoyed most of these. I sure did.

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26 August 2016 - LINDA LOFTS-WILES - Guest Author




LINDA LOFTS-WILES
- Guest Author -

G'day folks,

Today, I interview an emerging author from Australia.

Welcome, Linda ...


1.   TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.
       
         My writing journey began many years ago in England on my last day at school.  The headmistress presented me with Jules Verne’s ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’ for the many stories I wrote.  It was unexpected.

2.   WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A WRITER?

            It was not until many years later that I started writing historical romance stories but after many rejection slips, I again stopped.

3.    WHAT TYPE OF PREPARATION DO YOU DO FOR A MANUSCRIPT? DO YOU PLAN EVERYTHING FIRST OR JUST SHOOT FROM THE HIP?

I use white boards to plot my story until the characters eventually take over and the words just flow.

4.   WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER?

Off world following my Alien friends, good and bad, where I have a certain amount of control, whereas human life is very controlled.



5.   WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?

Being a writer is easy however, it takes time away from my family.

6.   WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A WRITER?

I worked in dept stores, raised a family, lived on a farm with horses, angoras, etc.

7.   WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WRITING ACHIEVEMENT?

Completing my first novel, ERETEISIA - Ultimate Sacrifice and receiving the first hard copy in my hand.


8.   WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?

      I’m half way through the second book in the ERTEISIA trilogy.

9.   WHAT INSPIRES YOU?

     The Universe with its never-ending stories

10.              WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?

Science fiction/Fantasy.

11.              DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?

Don’t let rejection slips prevent you from writing. Persevere!   

12.              DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?

In the past, yes. Since writing ERTEISIA, no.



13.              DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?

No, I write anytime that’s available. Once I begin, I have to be ‘pulled away’ for what I call the human necessities of life!

14.              DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WRITING PLACE?

Front room looking out over my picturesque garden, and the forest of trees in the park.

15.              WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN WRITING?

I can create and enjoy the adventure.

16.              WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND WHY?

Diana Gabaldon. Her descriptive words in action scenes are brilliant - she holds nothing back. I admire her brilliance.

17.              WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER?

ERTEISIA, along with a series, would make great movies.


18.              WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?

      I guess in some instances, a reflection of my life creeps in.

19.              OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?

Husband, family, and time in the garden, and nearby parks.  I also love to travel, both in and out of Australia.

20.              DID YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK / BOOKS PROFESSIONALLY EDITED BEFORE PUBLICATION?

After 15 edits, I reluctantly handed it to a professional editor.   Next book will go to the professionals much earlier.

21.              DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.

                        To know all is well with my family, and warm sun on my body after  a satisfied few hours writing.

                   23.  IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH ONE PERSON,  WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY?

My husband, because he can swim, fish, cook and make me  laugh!

      24. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO SPEAK TO    WORLD LEADERS?

Action and reaction are opposite and equal! Cease hoarding money and ease the poverty around the world.

25.               WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?

Complete my trilogy and travel.  Who knows, there could even be a fourth book while I’m travelling!



            
26.              DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN ANY OF YOUR CHARACTERS?

I see myself in all the characters I create.      


27.              DOES THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY FRUSTRATE YOU?

Confuse, is the word I would use.

28.              DID YOU EVER THINK OF QUITTING?

I wouldn’t say ‘quit,’ I would say, “Damn you Orion get out of my head - or I’ll quit!”

29.              WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE MANUSCRIPT TO WRITE? WHY?

ERTEISIA – Ultimate Sacrifice. Off world has more to offer when I open my mind.

30.               HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE ‘SUCCESS’ AS A WRITER.

Completing what you start and having the public love the plot and characters and buy it.

31.              WHAT SHOULD READERS WALK AWAY FROM YOUR BOOKS KNOWING? HOW SHOULD THEY FEEL?

There’s more to life than we realize. Never, ever give up on your inner strength and belief - dream big!

32.              WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE YOUR BOOKS MADE INTO MOVIES? EVER WRITTEN A SCREENPLAY?

I have never written a screenplay. My dream is to see the ERTEISIA trilogy as movies.

33.                HOW MUCH THOUGHT GOES INTO DESIGNING A BOOK COVER?

A lot of work and frustration.



35                WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM?

To be successful in all ventures

36.  WRITING IS ONE THING. WHAT ABOUT MARKETING YOU, YOUR BOOKS AND YOUR BRAND? ANY THOUGHTS?

I don’t relish this side of the business; however, Geoff is in his element.

37.                ARE YOUR BOOKS SELF-PUBLISHED?

Yes, on Kindle and Amazon Books.

38.              DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN FIVE WORDS.

Adventurous, stubborn, perfectionist, loving, caring

39.              WHAT IS THE TITLE OF THE LAST BOOK YOU READ? GOOD ONE?

ERTEISIA – Ultimate Sacrifice

40.               WHAT WOULD BE THE VERY LAST SENTENCE YOU’D WRITE?

The Universe of Universes will always be...  

41.               WHAT WOULD MAKE YOU HAPPIER THAN YOU ARE NOW? CARE  TO SHARE?

To realise my dream of sharing through my books wisdom gained from experience.

42.               ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?

I’ve integrated truth with fiction, truths that ‘popped up’ as I  
researched certain places. The reader will, I believe, see the clues within the story.



 


Clancy's comment: Thank you, Linda. Keep going. This is a tough business.

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