Falling behind again, sorry

Folk art on 95th St.

Folk art on 95th St.

It’s Saturday and I can hardly remember what happened last week. I know I should write every day. I met Julia on Wednesday and we went to the Museum of Art and Design, spending the entire afternoon looking at gorgeous glass and jewelry with a few beautiful wood objects. We parted for supper, Julia going to the theater and I went back to the Candle Cafe for another lovely dinner. But to tell you a secret, what really drew me back was the Eric Kayser Artisan Boulanger across the street that had walnut bread. I will go almost anywhere for walnut bread that doesn’t have raisins or cranberries.

Rain on Thursday did not keep me in the apartment. After I photographed the folk art building above, I went over to the West Side to the Museum of Biblical Art that had a wonderful exhibit derived from subjects in the Bible. Again I spent hours. There were a few books and many other wonderful drawings, paintings and paper cuts. I finished the day back at the apartment and did not go out for dinner.

Friday morning I cleaned the apartment: Renee was coming home and I had been my usual sloppy self. I removed all my junk except for a few discreet piles, cleaned the kitchen and bathroom and vacuumed up my crumbs, which were all over. Then I shopped and prepared to make us dinner. Anyone who loans me an apartment for 2 weeks in such a choice location deserves at least that much from me.

Renee with a Russian crown.

Renee with a Russian crown.

Today we went to the village to a street fair, and, marvelously, there were Mozzarepas. We were good and shared one, allowing us to have lunch later in the afternoon.

Very New York Days

chair person

I met Rose for coffee first thing Monday morning. Not talked out after more than an hour we agreed to meet for dinner on Tuesday, and I walked over to the Met where I always have unfinished business. I’ve never been able to see the entire place.

I went directly to the roof garden frequently the site of interesting or fun exhibits. This one had an interesting concept, certainly not fun, but as often occurs with contemporary conceptual art, the execution fell far short of the idea. When I got tired of sitting there I went down to African Art, always worth seeing. The tiny (about 3 inches) ceramic chair above, stopped me, possibly adding more ideas for that next book. Then the shop called to me. Last week I saw a book I wanted but didn’t want to carry it. I resolved to buy it, then found another book I wanted. I solved my problem by shipping both of them.

Rose called and asked me to come to her apartment about 5 o’clock to meet two interesting neighbors. Sandra is a self-taught specialist on Inuit art, who comes from Chicago. We had lots to talk about and hope to see each other again. Larraine was another interested elder. I think we make Rose, who is comparatively young, feel better about aging.

Tuesday morning I went for a haircut, then went to the West Side to meet Phyllis, with whom I made very exact meeting plans. I arrived early and stopped at the Folk Art Museum, which had a show of the work of Bill Traylor that added another bit to my book problem. Once you begin really thinking about something everything seems to add to it.

Our eventual destination was a movie, but first Phyllis and I went to lunch at Bar Boulud, an expensive, happening restaurant, not my usual kind of place. I managed to find a salad I could eat–beautiful and tasty.

Lobster salad, I can give up meat easily but lobster is another matter.

Lobster salad, I can give up meat easily but lobster is another matter.

Then we went to see Blue Jasmine, the new Woody Allen film. I think it was very well done, but I hated Jasmine so much I would have walked out after the first ten minutes if I had been alone.

Dinner was with Rose at the vegan Candle Cafe. It was great, also beautiful and tasty. And we still haven’t finished talking.

No communication

View of Chicago River from my hotel room

View of Chicago River from my hotel room

It has been a busy month; I just haven’t felt like writing. I’m waiting for that connection between my brain and the computer that Eli says will come, so my hands won’t be involved and the transfer will be instantaneous. Raja and daughters, on their way east to visit battlefields, stopped here last week; probably the best days all month. Two excellent Osher classes occupied my Wednesdays: “Memoir writing,” which I will probably never do but gave a lot of thought, and “The Written Word: The Vanishing Journalist” a kind of oral memoir of a retired journalist. Also took a movement class, Dalcroze Eurhythmics, four sessions at CMU. I can’t explain it, but it was fun.

My sister-in-law died of lung cancer. She looked awful when I saw her last month in Chicago, so I wasn’t surprised. Worse, has been watching my friend of some 50 years. who fell and is having a difficult recovery. Talking to her long distance is more troubling than visiting her. I will see her again in September when I return on my way to Door County.

I finally went to the doctor about my arthritic knees. They took x-rays then gave me a cortisone shot in each knee. I am happy to report I am now walking without pain and have started exercising again. That’s great. I am going to New York early next month and it would have been terrible if I couldn’t walk there.

Funny thing about blog writing. I really sat down to write about books and almost forgot after turning out the previous paragraphs. I’ve read several books this month, some I wanted to read, another forced on me from my funky book club. The best was The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng, about the only survivor of a Japanese work camp in Malaysia who feels compelled to make a Japanese garden in memory of her sister. Along with the great story and great characters are wonderfully clear and erudite explanations about Japanese gardens and a clear exposition of both the good and the terrifying in the Japanese character. Having fallen in love with some aspects of Japanese culture I often have trouble looking at their extremes of cruelty, xenophobia and kitsch. I have to keep remembering most of us are guilty of the terrible stuff, but few of us achieve the sublime.

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.┬áThis 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 ┬áladies). 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.


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.

No apologies

I hate to admit it but I’ve been busy on Facebook. They finally got my attention. I don’t love Facebook, and I’m not sure I fully understand it, but several weeks ago, about the time Scott Walker was busy alienating unions in Wisconsin, I found a group called “One Million Pissed Off Women.” I realized I have been pissed off since I was about 10 years old and discovered my brother had better toys than I did. I won’t go into detail but be assured I was convinced at an early age that boys/men had it better than girls/women. I joined the group. Next I found myself fighting against the war on women. All of this keeps me very busy reading and sometimes talking to other women about it. I’m planning to march with them. I think it’s about time someone did it.

I’ve also been busy working on my move. I am buying a condominium located between University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon. I’ll be able to walk to all my classes, lots of restaurants and many events in the area. I won’t close on the apartment until the middle of next month and won’t actually move until the end of May. I’ve begun clearing things out of this apartment. I gave a porchful of stuff to the Vietnam Vets. I’m working on a large stack of books that I hope will go to a used bookstore. I’m losing my two built-in bookcases from this apartment and no replacements in the new one. I have some ideas about what I’d like to do in the apartment, like getting rid of some of the wallpaper and changing some of the lighting. I’ll try to keep posting as things happen.

More New York

In addition to the last two doctor’s appointments we spent time doing some fun things. Steve is a big Dickens fan. Before he returned to Pittsburgh, we went to the Morgan Library to see their Dickens exhibit: a really great show. The last time I visited the Morgan was just after their famous architect enclosed their buildings in a glass shell. It was mobbed with all the other people who wanted to see what the FA had done, and it was unbearably noisy. I hesitated to return, but this visit was quiet and very pleasant. We also viewed a show of Persian art and enjoyed J.P.’s original office and library. I would like to own all those books and have my own librarian.

On our last day Robin and I went to Chelsea Market and walked on the High line. This was Robin’s first visit to both places and she loved it. We walked the entire park on this beautiful, amazingly warm day. Before our walk we fortified ourselves with a salad and sandwich from Amy’s Bread. Also bought some to take home; not nearly enough. Maybe it was the bread that set off the alarms when I went through security.

I’m back to my usual Pittsburgh routine, taking Osher classes and looking for another place to live. Robin is continuing to make great progress.

Maybe I am moving, maybe not

I made an offer on one of those apartments in the building I didn't want to buy into, having found out they might accept me in spite of my lack of four times income. I haven't signed a new lease on this apartment, and the contract needs some renegotiation before I will sign it. I am getting ready to move out at the end of this month if necessary. My workroom, the second bedroom, has the most stuff in it and is the most chaotic. This is where I am working and suddenly I realized I am relinguishing parts of my life. You know, throwing out the souvenirs: class notes, web design information (I did that for a while), font samples from my printing business, Excel text books (tried to become an expert a user) technical writing manuals, even some I wrote myself, like going from QuarkXpress to Adobe Indesign, and some magazines with beautiful pictures and papers. A few books of paper samples still on the shelf really should go. I'm gearing up to it. I haven't looked at any of this stuff in the six years I've been in Pittsburgh. I don't suppose I'll miss it. Three of five shelves in one bookcase are now empty.

The new apartment, assuming I get it, needs the carpeting removed, wood flooring installed (I have area rugs) and complete redecorating. All of this will have to be done before I move in. I would also like to put in a shower instead of the tub, but that can be done after, there being two bathrooms. 

I don't know what this will do to my New York trip. With any luck I should be able to go, I hope. Sale of the new apartment wouldn't close until the end of August, at least, so it's just a matter of what I do with my current arrangements.

Kentucky 2

This will be a short update with more to come. Tuesday is always a very long day for me–African food in the morning, then Japanese art history all afternoon, and tonight the class went out for dinner together. I'm getting bored with the African food, always seems to be some kind of rice and beans, but the Japanese art history remains my favorite.

Back to Kentucky: I drove out on Thursday. It's an easy six hour drive, but with all my usual stops it takes seven. I had a book on tape–Richard Russo, Bridge of Sighs. I got through the first five CDs on the way out. Coming back took longer–lots of road work. I got into CD12 then finished listening at home. There are 21 CDs and I like the book so much I have to figure out how to finish it. No more driving but that's when I like listening the best.

I stopped at what was purported to be an excellent outlet mall between Columbus and Cincinnati. (Most of the trip is going across Ohio.) Anyway, the stop reinforced my belief that outlet malls aren't worth much. I would like to get another bookcase, something I swore I'd never do. I looked in Pottery Barn but found nothing. Walked over to the Harry and David store. Many years ago a friend sent me a box of amazing pears from Harry and David; the best I've ever had. They didn't have stores then; the store didn't have anything I wanted. Oh well.

Heat and other nasties

I am ready to spend the day in bed in my darkened, air conditioned bedroom. It's not going to happen, but for a few minutes I'll stay here with my little netbook. I can't find a really comfortable way to use it in bed. Leaning on my left elbow gets old very fast. Tomorrow it is supposed to rain and get a little cooler. That would be better; I'd like to go for a walk.

For months I've been having trouble falling asleep, but when I travel, no trouble. At first I thought it might be because I feel more secure with other people near me, but I didn't really believe it. Then there is the mattress question: do I need a new one? On this last trip I changed beds seven times, including one not wonderful sofabed. I had no trouble falling asleep. Back home, Monday night, after a very long, tiring, hot day, I was tossing again. I've been sleeping on two pillows at home; that seemed to be the only real difference. I took one pillow away: Fixed! I'm amazed that such a little thing could make a big difference.

I'm still working on books: another flag book this time. I feel this is a form with great potential. Google flag book to find some interesting illustrations.