A Date with da Vinci

Vitruvian Man

Hello, my friends!

Want to go on a Renaissance adventure? We did on Saturday, when we went to the Arizona Science Center to experience “Da Vinci – The Genius” for an afternoon.

{piles you all into the car with us}

First, a pit stop to Starbucks, as a proper odyssey requires the beverage of the masses.

Next, we crank the music up for a bit of audio caffeine. Mr. Bastion was in charge of the tunage, and it was 80’s rock in full force and effect. Granted we did start with a love ballad, Journey’s “Send Her My Love”, but then it was AC/DC and “Back in Black”. Before long, we hit a trilogy of Def Leppard songs, “Rock of Ages”, “Photograph”, and “Pour Some Sugar on Me”, in that order. Hope you aren’t shy with your singing. Every word to the songs was belted out at the top of our lungs.

At some point, mass laughter erupted in the car, as I commented about how our trip to see a Master of Renaissance art had turned into Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. And…when you go on a Bastion outing, truly, we’d have it no other way.

Ummmmm… Have you ever been to a science museum?

No?

Neither had we.

Culture shock ensued, with rapid eye-blinking and deep breaths. Before we’d even gained entrance, I felt like our Bill & Ted’s phone-booth time machine had transported us directly into Sky Harbor International Airport. At Thanksgiving. Lines to ticket counters snaked around poles in a maze format, and children and families were everywhere.

Did da Vinci approve this? {whispers} I’m quite certain he would’ve approved of every minute in the caffeinated car ride. #JustSayin ;)

After we acquired tickets, we went up to the 3rd floor and down several corridors to the exhibit entrance where an elderly female volunteer, and gatekeeper to the exhibit, spoke at her leisure to two other older female guests. The moment their conversation ended, she closed the stretchy rope barrier, and looked down her nose at us, saying “This is a ticketed event.”

I glanced at Mr. Bastion, wondering if somehow she’d heard word of our rock party on the way over, because my khaki linen shorts and v-neck black t-shirt seemed nondescript enough. Mr. Bastion pulled the tickets from his pocket and she opened the gate, making a final comment in a firm tone, “No pictures.”

Do you get riled on a primal level when someone tells you not to do something? Mmmmhmmmm…

You’ll all be so proud of me. My inner-rebel wanted to take pictures so badly, but my inner-angel won out. Partly, because I have a respect for rules, even though I do sometimes break them, but mostly because I was there as a guest to enjoy myself, and did not want to disturb the enjoyment of others.

We stepped into the exhibit. Clearly, I’d been star-struck by the name Leonardo da Vinci, and had forgotten where we were: a science center. “Da Vinci – The Genius” was billed as the most comprehensive exhibit to tour the world on Leonardo da Vinci, and upon seeing the massive room with an equally impressive number of people rivalling an amusement park, I’d be inclined to agree.

Mr. Bastion and I waited patiently in a long line for all of forty-five seconds, before our inner-unruliness had us break rank. We meandered from exhibit to exhibit that talked about his various codices and who currently held them. Many of his inventions were brought to life in replicas from tiny journals, to massive flying contraptions. He developed a diving suit and had a fascination with clocks. An emergency bridge, a tank, and many other wartime inventions were created by him.

I was drawn to the paintings. Beautiful works of art captivated me, and I found myself staring at them, lost in every stroke, the use of light, the way transparent fabric looked so real, I felt as if I could touch the gossamer fabric.

Of course, the geek in me was amazed that the world, just a few years ago, stumbled across an unknown painting by da Vinci. La Bella Principessa, was sold at auction in New York in 2009 for around $20,000 as a purported German work from the early 19th century. An analysis of the da Vinci-esque painting revealed a finger print on the work that matched a finger print found on one of da Vinci’s unfinished paintings, St. Jerome in the Wilderness. The lost da Vinci, La Bella Principessa’s value? An estimated $160 million.

The discovery of a lost da Vinci painting wasn’t what left me speechless, though. I stood before one of the many giant placards on the wall that described two mural paintings that were commissioned to two different artists…and never finished. Da Vinci…and Michelangelo. Fabulous sketches of horses and soldiers were hung beside the story, but I got stuck on the name-dropping as my mind transported back to their time, imagining da Vinci painting on one wall of the Council Hall in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence and Michelangelo painting on the other. {makes a note to bring them coffee and cake pops from Starbucks on the next phone-booth time machine trip}

That’s right, my friends. I have a date with da Vinci. It matters not to me that the paintings were never completed (da Vinci’s never dried properly and Michelangelo’s never made it past sketch stage and onto the wall.), and eventually da Vinci’s partial mural was painted over. {takes a hit on my oxygen tank and passes it to you} I can still be there in my imagination, cheering da Vinci on. Granted, I’m an impartial supporter—and a fan of Michelangelo—so sorry Leo, you’re going to have to put up with me cheering on the prodigy, too.

Oh, and by the way, Mr. Bastion has been telling me all about a book that he’s been reading, Da Vinci’s Ghost by Toby Lester. It talks about not only the life of da Vinci, but also the great inspiration of many of his works, the ancient Roman engineer Vitruvius and his writings. Mr. Bastion highly recommends this book to anyone interested in Leonardo da Vinci.

And…I also have a date with Mr. Bastion at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy. Our interest in the Uffizi was sparked by Sylvain Reynard in his wonderful fictional novels Gabriel’s Inferno and Gabriel’s Rapture.

My date calendar is filling up!

It’s been a blast traveling with you, my friends.

In September, the first novel in the Highland Legends series, Forged in Dreams and Magick, will be released. I can’t wait to take you on an incredible adventure into the Highlands of Scotland during a time when…on another content in Italy…Dante Alighieri was about to pen his imaginary journey to the netherworld, arguably starting the Renaissance period.

If you had a chance to go back in time to spend the day with anyone and do anything, what would it be? What would you bring as refreshments?

Your humble shoe,

~ Kat

© 2013 by Kat Bastion

 

A Glimpse of Heroes

In a week of events that rocked our lives and caused great suffering, heroes emerged to help those in need during the tragedies of the Boston Marathon 2013 and the Texas plant explosion. 

My continued thoughts, prayers, and support go out to everyone affected and all the heroes who helped the victims…and risked and gave their lives.

I have a story I’d like to share for the first time.  Also, I’m providing information again for you to help in the fundraiser for the American Red Cross and The One Fund Boston.  Please help in any way you can.

A Glimpse of Heroes in Action

One fateful night many years ago, I caught a glimpse of heroes in action that had such an enormous impact on me; I still remember every vivid detail.

I’d signed up to go on a police ride-along. 

Of course, I’d chosen a night shift, as I wanted to see the brave officers chase down a suspect and handcuff him.  Or at least…be in a speeding car with sirens blaring and lights twirling as we neared one hundred miles an hour to catch the bad guy.

I was given a basic safety rundown by my assigned officer and made to understand my role during the course of my ride-along.  I was strictly an observer.  Should anything bad go down, especially bullets flying, I was to follow the officer’s instruction without hesitation, remain in the safety of the police car if possible, and stay out of their way.

The first hour went by.  Not even one single call came out over the radio.  My images of excitement drifted to officers congregating at the corner doughnut shop, and I began to empathize with them.  My hope, you see, wasn’t for criminal acts to happen during my ride-along…only that the crimes statistically being committed as we drove around in the midnight hour would be noticed, and we would be the ones to apprehend them.

Then it happened.  An event beyond any of my imaginings for that night unfolded and my life was forever impacted.  Many lives were forever impacted, far greater than mine, that night.

A fire had broken out in a multi-building apartment complex.  When we arrived, a raging fire had engulfed an upper corner of a thirty-unit two-story building.  Adjoining units had black smoke pouring out of every vent and opening.  The police officers were the first to arrive on the scene.

My assigned officer pointed out various places I could stay safe amid the mayhem, but allowed me to wander freely, as he ran off with two other officers.

An observer.  It’s what I was, and it was surreal watching each participant execute their roles as if born to them.

So many things happened simultaneously, I stood there for a while in shock as I witnessed the events unfold.

The three officers systematically raced from unit to unit, both upstairs and down.  They pounded on doors and escorted residents to safety as they cleared the building.  Within minutes, several laddered fire trucks arrived, the sounds of their sirens blaring into the night.

The sound of a fire destroying a building is unlike any other as it roars, things inside creaking and moaning, snapping and exploding.  The smell is noxious and choking and fills your nostrils no matter how far away you stand.  The heat is overwhelming and you find yourself backing up to a tolerable and survivable distance.  Glowing cinders fly up in the direction of the wind…or sometimes wherever they’re shot to…and soot rains down from the sky.

Although I’m sure everyone in the surrounding buildings watched the rising orange flames and felt the intense heat as the fire devoured everything it touched, I didn’t notice them.  I noticed the ones who’d lost their homes.

I remember one college-aged man who stood there staring in shock.  I walked up next to him, and he glanced at me with a forlorn look on his face. 

“I lost everything,” he said. 

“Did you have renter’s insurance?” I asked, hoping to help, if only to talk to him. 

“No,” he replied.  “It wouldn’t have done any good anyway.  I lost thousands of dollars in photography equipment, but ten times that value was in the photos I’d taken over many years.”

“I’m so sorry,” I said. 

Condolences for his loss were all I could give, but I gave them anyway.  It didn’t matter that I’d been relegated to an observer in the situation; my heart went out to that man.

Our attention diverted to a firefighter who burst out from a doorway.  Thick black smoke poured out, as if chasing after him.  He stumbled forward in the heavy tan protective gear they wore and pulled the helmet off his head, tossing it onto the grass.  His captain, dressed in a navy t-shirt and cargo pants, jogged over as his firefighter doubled over, bracing his hands on his knees, sweat pouring from his face while he sucked in the cool night air.  The captain pointed at another firefighter, and the man put on his helmet and ran into the same opening, taking the place of the one who’d tagged himself out of the ring.

A paramedic ran over with his kit seconds later, but the firefighter waved him off, shaking his head.  I stood another thirty feet beyond them and felt the heat from my distance.  I could only imagine what that firefighter was going through, overcome by the heat of being inside that building.

My officer waved an arm at me, approaching.  I followed him behind the building, walking with a respectful wide berth around the smoking side of the building as he explained they’d been making sure the scene was secure and intended to remain there unless called away.

The parking lot behind the building had changed.  A couple dozen families stood back there, clinging to each other.  All of them looked lost.  Many were crying, including grown men.  My heart lurched for them.

One little girl’s cries rose above the roar of the fire. 

From the driveway side of the parking lot, a lone woman walked up to the group.  The woman was a volunteer from the American Red Cross. 

Did she wear a red vest?  I don’t recall.  All I remember was the teddy bear she held up as she walked.  The crying from the toddler stopped instantly, and she walked up to the stuffed animal being offered to her and embraced it.  Tears filled my eyes as I watched.  (They’re in my eyes again now as I type, a cramp at the base of my throat.)

Every adult standing there slowly gravitated toward the little girl and the woman, drawn to a shining beacon of hope in their disastrous night. 

I stayed to the fringes and out of the way, but I heard what that American Red Cross volunteer said to them.  She’d arranged for a place to stay for the rest of the night, where they would have somewhere to sleep, something to eat, and fresh clothes to change into; she asked if any needed medications and if any had any special health considerations; and she mentioned that she had resources for them to begin rebuilding their lives one step at a time once they made it through the night.

That American Red Cross worker pulled two dozen families from their shock and devastation and offered to help them in their time of crisis.

While the police secured the scene, and as the firefighters put out the blaze, the American Red Cross led the victims to a place of safety and recovery.  All of those heroes worked together in a scene that happens every day and night all across our country and around the world.

I’m forever grateful to have gotten a glimpse of true heroes in action and be able to share the story with you.  It’s led to my support of the American Red Cross throughout the years and I hope it inspires you to support them as well.  Whether the disaster is natural or man-made the American Red Cross is there to help. 

I hope none of us ever suffer a disaster, but should we find ourselves in need, look for that American Red Cross worker.  They are there for you.

Support The American Red Cross

There’s a special fundraiser still ongoing through the end of the month to help those impacted by the tragedies of the Boston Marathon 2013 and the Texas plant explosion.  I encourage you to participate by donating and entering the contest.  I’ve done both, and should I win the giveaway, I intend to give away the rare set of books signed by Sylvain Reynard to a very special person who would be over the moon to receive them and was personally affected by the Boston Marathon tragedy.

Here are ways you can help and information about the fundraiser and giveaway:

1. Please donate to the American Red Cross, who responds to those in need of support when disaster strikes.

2. According to a recent Tweet from the American Red Cross, “To help people most affected by the tragic events in Boston on 4.15.13 visit theonefundboston.org #BostonMarathon”

Click on The One Fund Boston link to donate and learn more.

Also, I’d like to share with you the following message from my friend Jenn at Argyle Empire…

In response to the tragedy in Boston, Argyle Empire is hosting a fundraiser to aid the American Red Cross.

Given that part of the Gabriel series is set in Boston, we felt it was an appropriate thing to do.

If people donate at least $5.00 to the American Red Cross and/or The One Fund Boston and email a copy of their receipt to me at jenn@argyleempire.com, they can enter a giveaway by visiting argyleempire.com. SR has agreed to sign UK edition copies of both Gabriel’s Inferno and Gabriel’s Rapture for the winner.

The fundraiser will run between now and April 30. The winner will be selected on May 1 and notified by May 3.

If you could help us promote this, that would be great. If you would like to donate and enter the giveaway, please feel free to do so. This is really about helping out the charity, after all.

Thank you all for all the donations you’ve made so far.  Keep them coming and please spread the word through your social channels.  They’ve already raised over $1,500 in five days.  Their goal is $2,500 by May 1st.  Shall we knock everyone’s socks off and make it a cool $5,000? 

It’s by stepping out and embracing others with love that we shine a bright light of hope in our world.

Thank you for being heroes, my friends.

Your humble shoe,

~ Kat

© 2013 by Kat Bastion

The Boston Marathon ~ Support the American Red Cross and The One Fund Boston

Times of tragedy pull together community. 

In the wake of the Boston Marathon, the impact of a heinous attack on innocent people—sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, grandparents, friends—ripples across the world to affect us all.  Boston, in every way, is our town.  Our city.  Those are our friends and family that have been hurt and killed.

As we take a deep breath to count our blessings and embrace our loved ones, please join me in helping those who need our support.

We can help in two ways:

1. Please donate to the American Red Cross, who responds to those in need of support when disaster strikes.

2. According to a recent Tweet from the American Red Cross, “To help people most affected by the tragic events in Boston on 4.15.13 visit theonefundboston.org #BostonMarathon”
Click on The One Fund Boston link to donate and learn more.

Also, I’d like to share with you the following message from my friend Jenn at Argle Empire…

In response to the tragedy in Boston, Argyle Empire is hosting a fundraiser to aid the American Red Cross.

Given that part of the Gabriel series is set in Boston, we felt it was an appropriate thing to do.

If people donate to the American Red Cross and/or The One Fund Boston and email a copy of their receipt to me at jenn@argyleempire.com, they can enter a giveaway by visiting http://www.argyleempire.com/. SR has agreed to sign UK edition copies of both Gabriel’s Inferno and Gabriel’s Rapture for the winner.

The fundraiser will run between now and April 30. The winner will be selected on May 1 and notified by May 3.

If you could help us promote this, that would be great. If you would like to donate and enter the giveaway, please feel free to do so. This is really about helping out the charity, after all.

Thank you so much for helping, my friends.  Please spread the word through your social channels.  Please donate and help in any way you can.

It’s by stepping out and embracing others with love that we shine a bright light of hope in our world.

I’m off to send in my donation!

Your humble shoe,

~ Kat

© 2013 by Kat Bastion

Book Recommendations From a Finicky Reader

I LOVE reading.  That said, I choose not to read while writing.  My reading abstinence helps me maintain my voice and stay motivated. {whispers} I’m easily distracted.

By the time I’m finally able to read, I’m starving for really great books. I search for the phenomenal reads.  If I find a paranormal romance? I’m in heaven.

After months of editing my paranormal romance manuscript last year, I took my first reading break in late September and read many spectacular books over the holidays. Most were outside my preferred genres.  The experience of stepping outside my comfortable reading box was highly rewarding.  I encourage everyone to do the same.

Books that blew me away among a field of a dozen very good books:

Gabriel’s Inferno by Sylvain Reynard (Romance)
Gabriel’s Rapture by Sylvain Reynard (Romance)
Iced by Karen Marie Moning (Fantasy)
Wallbanger by Alice Clayton (Comedy/Romance)
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (Young Adult/Fantasy)

My first read in late September? Gabriel’s Inferno by Sylvain Reynard. I chose well. In the beginning few pages, compelling writing drew me into the world of Gabriel’s Inferno while I sat in the middle of a chaotic airport. Over the course of a week, I fell in love with the characters, the story, and the author.  Gabriel’s Inferno  instantly became my favorite book and Sylvain Reynard my favorite author. Why? The complexities are great as to the reasons. It’s written differently, which I enjoyed.  The references to art and culture are so plentiful and detailed, I became a student in the professor’s class. Gabriel’s Inferno is a captivating sensual and poignant journey of love, hope and redemption written in a delightfully artistic manner.  A must read.

My second read? Gabriel’s Rapture by Sylvain Reynard, of course. I needed more of Gabriel and Julia.  Sylvain Reynard’s second book did not disappoint. Complex storylines emerged and wove together taking the reader on the ultimate journey of self-sacrifice, hope and love. The main character’s continuing transformation in this book, from a man past all hope of redemption to one who has been saved through love of many kinds, is an amazing must read.

The book I’d been waiting almost two years for? Iced by Karen Marie Moning.  I’ll admit I began reading with equal parts excitement and apprehension, as this is the first book in a spin-off series after her phenomenal Fever Series.  Could Moning match the stellar writing and intriguing story from the Fever Series?  Suffice it to say, she eclipsed it.  I couldn’t put the book down.  Her imagination is incredible and her writing and vivid imagery are flawless; you are there in her world. I highly recommend this book if you love fantasy, but to get the full effect, you may want to read her five-book Fever Series first.

A surprise love? Wallbanger by Alice Clayton. I didn’t think I was a fan of romantic comedy. Apparently, I am a huge fan of Alice Clayton’s brand of laughter and love.  What began as Caroline’s midnight irritation, turned into her neighbor’s well-earned nickname, and evolved into a wonderfully fun love story.  I fell in love with the characters and story through Clayton’s well-written humor. Even Clive, the heroine’s cat, had me in stitches.  What captured me the most in Wallbanger is the way the comedy endeared you to the characters.  I share the same sense of humor with the characters and found the exchanges very relatable. I wanted to be at their dinner parties.  In fact, I now find I want to go to Spain.  And bake… :)

An even bigger surprise? Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, my first Young Adult genre read. I’d never ventured into Young Adult, but was not disappointed.  It quickly became clear to me that Laini Taylor is a very special author.  She writes fantasy, a genre that I love, flawlessly.  The story was unique and fresh.  The way she unfolded events had me page-turning until the very end.  If you like fantasy, or even paranormal, I highly recommend this book.

All five of those incredible books are now cherished stories on my Kindle that I’ll be reading again when the time is right.  I hope you enjoy their well-written heartfelt stories as well.  Thank you to all the authors for sharing your imaginative worlds with us.

I’m adding those reviews to my Goodreads Page, which I’m still learning to navigate.  {laughs}  Stop by there and say hello! :)

Please share your thoughts.  What other stellar books have you read?  I need to start a list for my next writing break later this year!

Have a wonderful time reading, my friends!

Your humble shoe,

~ Kat

© 2013 by Kat Bastion

Embracing Sensuality

talktotheshoe:

Tamie, thank you my friend for inviting me to guest post celebrating your One Year Blogiversary. Congratulations!

Originally posted on Bookish Temptations:

Today’s blogiversary guest post comes from Kat Bastion…and it’s a good one peeps.

Read and enjoy…O…and there’s a giveaway at the end :)

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