Two more books


When I returned from the workshop in Scotland last year I made this book using photos of an installation by Sophie Cave in the Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow. Structure of the book is based on a design created, I believe, by Hedi Kyle and known as a panel book. It is a simple accordion with a panel cut in each page so images rotate forward as the book is opened.

heads full

Covers are a light mat board with possibly handmade paper with botanic inclusions and a side strip of tan paper. Accordion is made of eight pieces of 100# Accent Opaque cover tabbed together. For the inside cover I enlarged two of the heads. Book is 8 5/8″ by 5 5/8″ and opens to 44 inches.

My book-making group liked this so much they asked me to teach it. This time I wanted an image over the entire page with the interest popping on the panel. I had some colorful, but unfocused images I shot of the puppet parade at First Night and used them for the background. Serendipitously, Eli took us to a House (music) festival at Millennium Park as I was thinking about this project. I took photos of people dancing, cut them out of their backgrounds in Photoshop, made silhouettes and put them on the panels, creating my House book.


Although the book is simple there are many opportunities for errors, and I made all of them. So the letters on the cover were cut from pages I printed and couldn’t use. Then they were machine stitched to handmade paper I picked up years ago in the Himalayan store, possibly from Nepal. This time I used a thin book board that remained flat where the mat board curled.

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I wanted something on the back of each panel and found a poem about House music online. Additionally I added the entire poem on the inside of the front cover and a discussion about the origin of the poem inside the back cover. The book is 9 inches high by six inches wide and opens to 40 inches. Two pieces of Stonehenge Student make up the accordion with only one tab needed.





More early books

In the early 1970’s I made three kinds of books. I still wasn’t thinking about books, just photography. So the first was another spiral bound photobook about my father’s business. My father distributed poultry to restaurants. He was trained as an architect, finishing school and getting married in 1929. He worked as an architect for about two years then was unable to get another job. In 1932, my mother’s father died. Her brother, Meyer, was in the poultry distribution business and my father substituted for him while Meyer sat Shiva. One of the customers told my father he wanted him to continue servicing him and loaned him $5 so my father could get a truck and merchandise. For more than forty years Pops drove a truck and delivered chickens all around the city of Chicago. At the age of 69, with no plan for selling the business or retiring he had a heart attack. (On a weekend. He never got sick or had any problems except on weekends.) His customers owed $30,000 and that money would never have been collected without keeping the business running.

At the same time, fortuitously as it turned out, my husband was out of work. On Sunday, after the heart attack, Richard and my brother Arvin, who knew all about the business, went to the hospital and my father gave them the pertinent information. On Monday, Richard and my father’s helper ran the business, continuing for about three months until Richard found a buyer for the business and was able to get my father’s money for him. During this time I went out on the truck with them and photographed. Book #5 is a documentation of the business: no words, only pictures.


Garage doors where the truck was kept. No merchandise was ever kept in this terrible place. It was purchased and distributed daily


Richard and helper.


My encounter with police

Pittsburgh's latest entertainment: rubber ducky

Pittsburgh’s latest entertainment: rubber ducky

I’m back in Pittsburgh and back to normal after a good, one-day drive and an unusual experience. Because I want to see many people when I go to Chicago I find, more than usual, I am driving at night and using the GPS on my phone. On the day I left I had to first go to a far out suburb to my nephews house. He gave me the address and I entered it into the GPS. The destination map looked like this.

Ron's house

I don’t entirely trust the GPS but this looked ok. His address was on N. Fairfield and he said he had 20-some acres. He didn’t mention a lake, but who knew. I followed instructions and found myself in a kind of park surrounded by houses with numbers that were nothing like his. The road I drove on was decorated with lines of stone and some stone benches. A narrow road seemed to go around the lake, so, after finding nothing like his house number, I took it only to encounter two women walking on it. I found out later it was really a walking or cycling path. I stopped and asked for directions, but they couldn’t help. I got off the path, since the house wasn’t there and stopped a man walking a dog, who also couldn’t help me.

It finally occurred to me to call my nephew, who started to give me directions when the two women walked up and asked to speak to him. I gave one of them the phone and she walked away from me as the other talked to me. I was a little flustered or I never would have agreed to it. I finally seemed to get it all straightened out, got my directions and drove off. When I got to Ron’s house, only a few hundred yards away, but not where the GPS said, he told me the women thought I was disoriented and called the police. Sure enough, a few minutes later an officer arrived, alone, with gun secured in holster, proving they didn’t think I was likely to be violent. I passed the identity check and, after telling me he didn’t know how I got on the path, he let me go. The occurrence bothered me until this weekend when a story appeared about a flaw in the technology that was sending drivers across the runway of an Alaskan airport. I guess a walking path isn’t so bad.

On the road

IMG_6211I watched the sun rise over Lake Michigan in Door County, then watched the setting sun make the buildings in downtown Chicago look like spires of light as I drove through the city to pick up Charna and Hannah and take them to dinner before we went to watch my grandson and his band. It was a long day and I’m still a little tired. I’m trying to rearrange my appointments and drive back to Pittsburgh tomorrow. I feel like I’ve been away long enough.

More friends and cousins

On the veranda in Door County

On the veranda in Door County

Early for my meeting with Neill the next day, I went to look at places I recall living in. First on Harding Ave: I don’t remember the address, but it was a 2 story building with concrete stairs across the street from a large gravel covered field that fronted Volta School. I remember this vividly because of the many times I fell on my knees on the gravel and went around for weeks with infected, scabby knees. The field has been chopped in half and a building covers the half nearest my house, but I can’t find the house. I’ve tried looking on Google maps and came up with nothing. It’s 73 years;why do I think it would remain unchanged. I went on to the next place, a 2-story building with four apartments. The building had changed for the better, all cleaned and painted. I don’t know who lives in the neighborhood, but it looks great. The playground next to the house is fenced in and looks clean. Only one surprise, the synagogue my parents and grandmother attended, and where I went to Hebrew school and which subsequently became a Korean church, a huge beautiful building, has been torn down and is now a parking lot. The last place I lived, the house I loved, looks good, the neighborhood looks good, marred only by an enormous, unfinished, totally our of place castle that fronts on the highway and dwarfs all the nearby houses. Built on every square inch of land it has remained unfinished and up for sale for several years.

Lunch with Neill and a little more nostalgia then dinner with Betty. My days have been filled with lunches and dinners and breakfast with Eli and Hannah on Saturday. Sunday I walked and breakfasted on Marilyn and Arnie, then met artist friends at an exhibit. Monday morning we drove to Door County for our yearly art camp.

Turnpike wasteland and on to Chicago

Korean ancestor at the Cleveland Museum, could be one of mine

Korean ancestor at the Cleveland Museum, could be one of mine

Drove to Chicago last Tuesday. Getting ready on Monday I gave some thought to food for the car. My worst fear about this drive is that I might fall asleep. I’ve found it helpful to have something to nibble on and I try to get things that are not fattening or unhealthy. Deciding I had enough, with mushrooms, carrots and a box of peanut butter Puffins, I did not go out and shop, although I really wanted fruit. After all, I told myself, I’m not going to the end of the world, but the truth is the turnpike might as well be nowhere. Finally got bananas a week later.

Spent the night in a motel near Toledo. Chicago is really a one day drive from Pittsburgh, but I’ve been breaking it up to make sure I don’t get too tired. I stopped at the art museum in Cleveland, which has finally reopened their Japanese and Korean galleries. Very nice, but not nearly enough on display.

The next day I stopped in Elkhart, Indiana and toured an old house called Ruthmere. It was named after a child who died before the age of one and is situated near the conjunction of two rivers, known as a mere. The house was not nearly as interesting as the story about it. Those two days were very hot, I think the warmest days we’ve had all summer. I wanted to stop at a big flea market in Indiana, but didn’t think I could tolerate the heat and sunshine. Picked up Charna at her job and we had dinner with Barbara and Fred. The next morning we went out to Waldheim Cemetery to visit her namesake.


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.

A week in Chicago

Our family, including Renee from New York, went to Chicago last Friday (6/14) for Charna’s graduation: two days of special festivities.  Friday’s presentation, a baccalaureate service full of school-spirit and college talent, was held in the huge, packed Rockefeller Chapel. Unfortunately we were seated near the back and had trouble seeing and hearing. In my tenure at the University almost no school spirit was ever exhibited, so I found this presentation somewhat strange.

Twenty thousand people were seated in the main quadrangle on Saturday prepared to be rained on. The University has no venue large enough to hold the families, friends and graduates gathered together in one place.


It wasn’t anything like I experienced when I graduated. My college class had 400 students, one of the smallest in the university’s history. This class had 1300 from the college and large numbers from the graduate and professional schools. The other difference, which I loved, was the great diversity of the participants. My college class had 3 African Americans and 397 white people, mostly Christian or Jewish. I don’t think there were even many Catholics. Today’s convocation had people from all over the world and Charna graduated from college (with honors), not like her old grandma who barely made it.

After all the festivities the week became bittersweet, not with my usual nostalgia, but this time reality could not be ignored. My first visit was to Carol, who is now in hospice with lung cancer (and still smoking). Seeing her was a heartbreaking experience, only relieved by the presence my nephew and family, including my 10-month old great, great niece. She’s adorable, but the great, great part makes me feel very old.

The remainder of the week was much the same. One of my friends fell about a month ago and is having a terrible time recovering. I spent as much time with her as possible, broken up with visits to healthy relatives in beautiful places and additional visits with Eli, Charna and Hannah, Eli’s committed partner. I like her a lot; hope she remains with him.

On Friday I went to the Art Institute with Sandy. We saw a great photography show and all together had a fine day.

March 22: On the train

Shinkansen. Why can't we have trains like that?

Shinkansen. Why can’t we have trains like that?

Today is a travel day. First a brief trip on a local train, now four hours on the Shinkansen to get to Okayama. I think the distance is comparable to Chicago to DC. It wouldn’t be four hours on our trains.

In this week since I left Pittsburgh I have stayed at three radically different hotels. My criteria for selecting hotels had to do with location and, of course, price, preferably under $100, better yet, under $75. Which was paramount depended on how much I understood about the destination. The first night, in Chicago, location was important. I wanted something close to the airport and to public transit. The O’Hare Inn and Suites offered seemingly constant shuttle service to the airport and the blue line train. It was not a great hotel; clean enough, but shabby with the inconvenience of stairs for second floor rooms and ; badly in need of renovation. The shuttle driver took my bags to the room and brought them down when I left. There was no way I would be able to manage it. I think this was one of the more expensive places.

I have two bags: the largest 21” carry-on I could find, (Did you know the 21 inchers come in different sizes?) and the small overnight I took for that previous three night stay in Chicago. Dealing with both at once is not pleasant, but I don’t anticipate doing it often. I am shipping the larger bag and skipping hotels I will only stay at one or two nights. In Atami I had only the overnighter. My other bag is supposed to meet me in Okayama.

My Tokyo hotel, MyStays Inn, Asakusabashi, was stylish and looked new. The room was, as I expected, miniscule but comfortable. I think the bed was great but I was so exhausted every night I couldn’t say for sure. I had to put the suitcase on the bed when I wanted to open it. There was no room for one of those luggage stands and no closet. Three hangars were on a rod overhanging a full-size mirror. The bathroom, as most Japanese bathrooms, had a raised threshold. I’ve never figured out whether this enables them to flood the room to clean it or to keep the evil spirits from leaving the bathroom. The tub was deep, great for soaking but not great for getting in and out to shower. I never soak. Not anymore. That was the worst inconvenience. The staff was helpful; I was even able to manage with the ones who did not speak English. It was also convenient to the train.

Basin and tub

Basin and tub

Train station I missed entirely on my first try

Train station I missed entirely on my first try

Bento Box, from the 24 hr. supermarket down the street.

Bento Box, from the 24 hr. supermarket down the street.

As you may have gathered, my experience in Atami was something of a shock. The hotel entrance at the bottom of the hill was hugely inconvenient. I come from flatland and don’t like climbing hills or stairs, up or down. But climb I did, taking taxis only when I was carrying the little suitcase, which was not light. I liked the room in spite of the lack of a comfortable chair. I like sleeping on the futon on tatami mats. I find it comfortable and I sleep well. Only the up and down is bad.

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The room was long and narrow. About a third of it, as you walked in, was lined on both sides with utilities: a tiny entrance area with a shelf where you can leave your shoes (no walking with shoes on tatami mats) and keys or whatever else you didn’t need inside the room. On the left were separate compartments for the toilet, the shower and soak tub; and a large storage cabinet entered from inside the room, for the futons, pillows and duvet.

On the right side was a closet with a wardrobe, a basin with a mirror and some shelves in the corners for toiletries, a tiny sink and single burner stove with cabinet underneath with some dishes and pots, a microwave, a rice cooker and an electric kettle. No teabags, but I had some from the Tokyo hotel. I used the microwave, the kettle and a couple of plates for already prepared stuff I was able to purchase, including some tasty green stuff I hope was spinach.

The actual room was fairly large with a TV and some shelves for other equipment and a large, sturdy table that I finally decided to sit on. I am amazed it took me 24 hours to figure I could sit on it. I just don’t usually sit on tables. The first morning I couldn’t get my support stockings on while sitting on the floor. I just don’t bend so much any more. I finally went and sat on the toilet, the only thing in the room that resembled a chair.

I bought an Obi in Tokyo to cut up for a book cover. It’s a lot of fabric and it is heavy. I was able to get it in the suitcase, but as the weather gets warmer I will have to think about getting rid of stuff so I won’t have to wear the two jackets I am using now. I think it could get very warm here before I am ready to leave. Chicago was supposed to be cold the day I was there. I took a scarf and an undershirt that kept me too warm most of the time so I left both things I almost never wear in the hotel room. I have two pairs of shoes with me. Took a good look at the pair I was wearing when I arrived in Tokyo and decided they could go. First, I have to make sure I am comfortable in the other pair. I tend to walk on the outside of my feet and I break down most shoes before they ever wear out otherwise. Since I started wearing Merrell’s I find they wear on the bottom long before I can break them down. I never took a good look at the other pair. They could be awful, also, in which case I guess I go barefoot, or it might now be possible to buy shoes here. I’ve noticed some very large feet.

I am also considering jettisoning the jackets. The outer one is probably thirty years old. It’s in amazingly good shape. Eddie Bauer made great stuff back then. The lighter one is also nothing special. I’ll have to see how much I buy and wait until the weather is really warm. Presently it has been fluctuating between very warm days and much cooler days. Also depends on altitude. On April 10 I will go to Mt. Koya, possibly a cold trip.

I’ve got about 40 minutes left on the train. The weather forecast was for cooler temps, but it didn’t seem very cool before I boarded.

Posted this from my hotel in Okayama where it is very cool, damp and gray. Originally planned to visit Korakuen, my next garden, today, but I hope tomorrow will be a better day. My suitcase, entirely encased in a plastic bag was waiting for me. I could get used to this kind of service.

Next Flight

The flight to Chicago was uneventful. Returning to Chicago is always filled with nostalgia for me, and this time, a little shock. The airport in Pittsburgh is, unfortunately, a very quiet place, a little backwater. The organized chaos of O’Hare took me by surprise.

My first feeling I no longer knew how to proceed at O’Hare was quickly dispelled as I realized I had arrived at Terminal 2 and had to proceed through an inside revolving door to Terminal 3 to get my bag. It’s been that way for years. Originally a military airbase, called Orchard Field, I think O’Hare had only 2 terminals when it first opened as a civilian airport. It was quite small and served as a kind of satellite to Midway, which was the original Chicago airport. My first flight, in 1953, was out of Midway in a propeller plane. While I was in college I would sometimes drive out to Midway with a date and we would we would park along a fence and watch the planes take off, and amongst other things, sit and eat doughnut holes, sold at an outlet store for some doughnut manufacturer I no longer remember that was on the way..

Over the years O’Hare grew to 4 terminals with a Hilton Hotel in the center. They enlarged it further by putting a tunnel under the hotel and more areas for passengers to meet or depart from ground transportation. This is the part that’s been really confusing to me, but this time I finally figured it out.

I usually try to fly into Midway when I come to the city so I’ve had limited experience with O’Hare in recent years. So this was kind of fun.

The hotel shuttle returned me to O’Hare and I took the blue line train to downtown Chicago and met the grandchildren, who are no longer children, along with one of my dearest friends and we all had dinner. This morning I again took the shuttle back to the airport and now I’m sitting on the plane watching the flight path on the little video. I had enough frequent flier miles to go business class both ways and it’s great. I love all the space.

One more paragraph and I’m going to sleep. Finally got to the hotel and I can’t keep my eyes open. Good night.