April 22: Last day in Kyoto

This morning I found the following poem on my Facebook page, posted by Ukiyo-e & sumi-e, which usually posts Japanese paintings and woodblock prints. Tomorrow morning I leave Kyoto and travel on to Pittsburgh.
“How many mountains, how many rivers
Are still to be crossed before I gain
The land where loneliness comes to an end?
Today, as ever, I travel on.” – Wakayama Bokusui (1885-1928).
[Trans. by Miyamori Asataro. From “Hiroshigue’s Tokaido in Prints and Poetry”, 1957).

I seriously considered returning to Samboin, the garden where I couldn’t photograph, but was daunted by the thought of climbing those two terrible steps where I needed so much help. I wandered back to the shopping area stopping at a shop that sold lovely bamboo objects, several fabric shops and another paper store where I bought a small roll of paper, about 10 inches high and 5 yards long. Maybe I can make a book with it. There was all kinds of wonderful paper, but again, nothing that tempted me to struggle getting it home.

Spent the entire day walking around, again more walking than I wanted to do. Tomorrow I’ll be on the train most of the day, so I can rest then.

I bought a few other small gifts. I find it difficult to bring back souvenirs. So-called traditional Japanese crafts are too expensive; the cheaper stuff is terrible junk. There isn’t much here you can’t buy at home.

The last place I wandered into was a shop that sold canes, an amazing range of canes from colorful sticks with ordinary handles and fancy handles with plain sticks, including metal animal  heads, handles and sticks with lots of bling, and a really great one with a light on the handle. If it wasn’t 30000 yen, I would have bought it on the spot. I’ve been using Arvin’s cane and I enjoy the fact it was his and I can use it. The proprietor of the shop told me it was a tall man’s cane. Arvin was 6 feet. I didn’t know canes came in so many different sizes.

I am sad to leave. I have enjoyed the entire six weeks. But I will be happy to see my family and friends.

April 15: Shopping

Well not exactly shopping. I went to a huge crafts fair held at Chion-ji Temple. I was there all morning and people never stopped coming. I arrived early along with several hundred others and it was almost impossible to enter. I wanted to see the entire show, which I might have done, but I can’t say for certain. I walked down each aisle trying to get to all of them. There was jewelry, traditional crafts like dolls, several displays of buttons, some fabrics, knitted or crocheted apparel, bags, lots of bags,  food, both traditional pickle kinds of stuff and cakes and other noshes.

As I got to the end of the first aisle I found a little old lady, actually little and old, who had a tiny display, and on this she had little books: handmade cloth books. Of course, that was my first purchase. I’m sorry I didn’t buy several. And while I think the lady was pleased to make the sale it was not the celebration I had when I bought that bag. No picture taking.

The book is about 4 inches square and closes with a button.

The book is about 4 inches square and closes with a button.

Each pocket has a treasure inside: a card of thread, a bandaid, Q-tips

Each pocket has a treasure inside: a card of thread, a bandaid, Q-tips

The buttons and the cloth were tempting, but I was able to walk away. One of the larger displays was l’Ami du Pain, real French bread. They had a walnut bread. Lovely. Now I have to find out where they are located so I can get another one before I leave here.

Most of the bread here is fluffy, or spongy, depending on where you get it; not something I want to eat. Sometimes I have the feeling there is one huge bakery that makes the same stuff for every shop. I know that isn’t true, because I’ve seen and smelled  baking being done in most places. But they still all sell the same stuff. Now I found the outlier.

I didn’t eat any of the nosh at the show and went to a second incarnation of Falafel Garden for lunch. Then I went to Uniqlo and bought 2 T-shirts. I hope my grandchildren will think they are cool.

Finally I managed to get move vegetarian stuff for dinner and came back to the hotel.

Nine mile run, after a bad week.

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The bad week was mine. I started coughing on Tuesday evening and spent the rest of the week in bed, sleeping or reading. Finished two novels. I usually don’t have patience for that much novel reading, so it was OK.

This morning I woke up feeling relatively well, got dressed and with our newly normal December weather in the fifties, went over to Nine Mile Run. This is Zelda’s pet project and the reason I’ve become involved in the sewage wars. I decided I ought to see what got me going on all of this. Nine Mile Run is wonderful. Without my hearing aids the highway ceases to bother me, but it’s harder to hear the frogs. I took 42 pictures and plan to go back for more, particularly when it rains and I am feeling well.

Last Sunday I hosted the semi-annual party of the book collective (we make books  ladies). The highlight of the meeting is always an exchange of books. Since it was my latest obsession I made a book about sewage. It was a big hit. Turns out one of the women is married to someone who is working on the sewage problem. I’ve only begun thinking about all of this, but I have the feeling there are too many groups involved and no one is really doing anything. Too much politics, too much ego, too much vested interest. We need a strong, fearless leader, who probably doesn’t exist in Pittsburgh.


Amazing what can be found on the Internet

My writing class finished with me writing only two stories in the five weeks. The first was a revised version of my 9/11 story. The second needs lots of revisions. If I ever go back to it, I’ll post it. One of the suggestions from the class was to create a timeline, which I have started. Simultaneously I began going through two of the boxes I never finished unpacking. One of them contains calendars from as far back as 40 years ago. I have almost thrown them out several times, but can’t seem to do it. Now I am using them to fill out my timeline and then throwing them out. Enough already.

I’m happy to have some of the information. Unfortunately, I never thought I would refer to them and so used lots of abbreviations and cryptic numbers. In 1990 I frequently noted something called Iflp, or maybe Lflp. I suspect it was an exercise facility, but who knows. Another abbreviation I used frequently, OCWW, appears online: Off-campus writer’s workshop. So I’ve been attempting to write for a long time.

Another wonderful thing I found on the net, thanks to a member of the Pittsburgh Book Arts Collective, is this great video using an altered book.

There are more great videos on their website: http://www.mysteriesofvernacular.com/ All of the videos are short, perfect for my attention span. Some of them are interesting enough to make me want to see the entire piece. I don’t find much in video form that makes me feel that way.

Never finished telling you

about New York, and here I am in Chicago, since Monday. After a busy week getting ready I got in the car and drove. My first stop was in Ann Arbor, Michigan where I visited a shop that sold bookbinding supplies and fancy papers. They have a great website, and it’s a huge store, but they didn’t have what I wanted and I bought nothing. I wasn’t entirely disappointed since I found a great ice cream store. I went on from there to Battle Creek, Michigan, found a motel, had dinner and went to bed.

The next morning I was greeted by this sight as I left my motel room. 
I’ve seen many pictures of balloon races, but never saw them in person. I stood with my mouth open, finally thought to take pictures. It was certainly worth going into Michigan. I am just sorry I didn’t know about it ahead of time so I could have gotten up earlier and seen more of them.

I stopped in Michigan City to see a show of artist books, arrived in Chicago in the early afternoon, had lunch with Charna and dinner with Betty. I am staying in Arlington Heights with an artist friend and having a wonderful time looking at her artwork, showing her mine and talking a lot.

Next weekend we will be joined by two other friends and all go up to Door County for a week of art making and talking. When I get some time I have lots of photos and stories to tell.

Work Avoidance

My kitchen, living room and bedroom are organized and comfortable. Even my linen closed and medicine cabinet. But that work room and the office, particularly the work room, needs lot of work (help). So what am I doing? Not sorting through the box of papers I should have sorted before I moved. Not going through the photos I should trash. Not arranging tools and supplies. I’ve been making books. I have a little workspace cleared off (and I’m keeping it clean). I had an excuse for the first book: I had to get it ready for the party last Sunday. But I was inspired to make more books and that’s so much more fun than all the sorting and arranging. I had to wait for more ink which stopped me from working on the garden book. The ink came and I have to get back to that one also.

The party book is my attempt at a popup book. It met with success, although I see every flaw in it. First, it has no real theme. I looked for photos that had distinct foregrounds and realized most of my photos don’t have obvious distinctions between fore- and background. I have known that for years but never gave it much thought. So this is a collection of five disparate photos, six if you include the cover. I made two copies of each photo, one in color, one black and white. Then I cut out the colored foreground and floated it in front of the black and white image. Floating it means raising it above the page using strips glued on two sides and on the center fold. This page is the piano man in Bryant Park, New York. I kept the green plantings on either side of the photo but made the rest of it black and white. The man is too dark to really pop out, but the piano has color in it. The color in all of the pictures, except the covers, was not good. It was much better on my screen so that disappointed me. You can also see where I wasn’t able to trim the lower edge of the page. My craftsmanship could have been better.

The next photo was taken at Millennium Park in Chicago. I kept the color in the large projection screen that’s part of a fountain. The whole scene reminds me of Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon on the Island of the Grande Jatte at the Art Institute just down the street. This page has two floating pieces that should have been connected and one should be above the other. Maybe in the next book. The page is embellished with a butterfly charm from my bead collection. (More boxes of stuff that should be sorted.)

Three other pictures are from Japan and one from New York. The people under the umbrellas may have been employees at Meiji Mura, an open air museum of buildings from the Meiji era of Japan. This one is also embellished with a butterfly.

I saw this young woman walking toward the fountain. I followed her and got her dancing, embellished with an angel.
The one below, embellished unnecessarily with a fish, is from Katsura, one of the emperor’s palaces outside of Kyoto. The garden was wonderful; the photo doesn’t do it justice.
This is from Pontocho in Kyoto. Pieces of sculpture were placed in the stream that runs through it. In this photo I removed the sculpture from the black and white background using the clone tool in Photoshop.

These last two photos are the cover. I took the picture at an event here in Pittsburgh and used one photo wrapped around the pages.

I’m not finished with the next book. It will be a star tunnel book and, so far, I am much more satisfied with it. Photos in the next post.

Trying to get back to normal

I’m still framing and hanging pictures. And I still feel like I’m drowning in paper, most of which I should have sorted and filed before I moved. But the important thing is to get back to work on my books. For the last year or more I’ve been working on a mammoth Japanese garden book. It has all of my pictures and lots of information from the internet about each of the gardens I visited. Because of the move I stopped printing out the pages. It took time to figure out what I needed to do and then I ran out of ink. Now I’m waiting for a new supply. Before I am finished I think this book will cost more than $500, mostly in ink. Too bad I didn’t figure it out before I started printing.

More important, the semi-annual party for my book arts collective is next Sunday. The highlight of each of these parties is the book exchange and I don’t have a book ready. I went to bed thinking about it; woke up still thinking about it; did some research about the type of book I want to make; changed my mind, and finally started working. I want to make a pop-up book. I’ve been wanting to do it for a very long time. The thought overwhelms me, frightens me. I decided to start very small, with a single cut and fold page, then decided on a different pop-up type. All of this has to work with my content. I don’t like making blank books, not even pop-ups. I’ll take pictures and show them after the party next week.

Welcome to my new neighborhood

So here is the book; the one that didn’t get to the party last weekend. It is a box with three booklets inside.

This is the third box I’ve made. Again, I’m not entirely happy with my craftsmanship, and may try one more time. The box is approximately 3×4.5 inches. Note the lip around the top and bottom of the box.

I think it adds an elegant touch and probably adds strength. It is very difficult to create; two opposing folds 1/8 inch apart. The media distribution box named Burning Box Imager is now a box, again. Inside are three different copies of the Burning Box Imager, my virtual newspaper.

These papers are created from one sheet each. You can get directions here. I used pictures I took in Philadelphia at the Magic Garden, which is near the burned out media box; they remain linked in my mind.

Here you can see the little booklets inside the box. Each booklet has the title on it.