New Adventure: 2 nights in Philly

The siren call of an exhibit of popup books got to me so, enticing three friends, we drove the length of Pennsylvania on Tuesday. I planned on the exhibit at the Rosenbach, the Magic Garden and the Barnes and scheduled it at my convenience not entirely engaging in reality. As we drove reality hit me in the head and I realized everything was closed on Tuesday and Wednesday . Since I was the tour guide quick revisions were necessary.

Tuesday was a long day of driving; we arrived, tired, about 4 o’clock . After walking around for about an hour we had dinner in the hotel. Wednesday was the problem. We started at the Reading Terminal Market, which was filled with people without masks. Then on to Macy’s to see and hear the Wanamaker organ.

Macy’s is operating on only three floors of the ten or twelve story building

The concert, supposed to begin at noon, finally started about 12:20 and continued with long silences until 12:45. I wonder what will happen to the organ when Macy’s finally folds.

Spent the next hour at the nearby Fabric Museum and Workshop; contemporary, somewhat interesting, more than a little strange. Then back to the car, starving, we went to the Italian Market for cheese steaks, three of them, anyway. I don’t eat meat. Driving around South Philly my friends saw a different version of Philadelphia and let me see changes and gentrification in the area where my grandchildren were born. We finished the afternoon with a visit to Ben Franklin’s grave.

Thursday morning I finally got to see the exhibit: first a tour of the Rosenbach library, then Colette Fu and Lothar Meggendorfer. I took an excellent workshop about making popup books with Colette. This is something I want to do, but haven’t gotten there yet. Meggendorfer was an early producer of popup books for children. I was hoping that more of his work would be on display.

We couldn’t leave without going to the Magic Garden. We passed it on Wednesday during out driving tour and had to go back. One of my early books was photos from the Magic Garden. I took more pictures, there was more to see, but I don’t think I will make another book about it.

We had lunch at the nearby Whole Foods. If only our Pittsburgh WF had as much prepared stuff I would never cook. Next stop was home. It’s a long drive across a large state. Mostly it was easy but then the rains came bringing a fabulous sunset and a great end to the trip.

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.


Changing habits

Taiz0-in, one of my favorite gardens

Taiz0-in, one of my favorite gardens

I live about a half mile from the wonderful Carnegie Library. To drive, you have to go about a mile, parking is expensive and usually not available, so needless to say, I walk. I usually wear my purse with the shoulder strap across my chest and sometimes after I walk the half mile and have started back, I have a backache. Yesterday, I took my phone, some money and my library card and left the purse at home. No backache! Today I ordered a belly bag, practicing for Japan. I don’t know how it will look sitting on my already ample belly, but if it enables me to keep walking, who cares.

Trip planning: I am stuck in Tokyo. I would like my next stop to be Hakone, where there is both an indoor and outdoor museum. Atami, which is supposed to have a great museum, is also nearby. Hotels in the area are very expensive. All of this can be done as day trips from Tokyo, so the question is, do I stay for another two days in the hotel I have already booked in eastern Tokyo or do I move to western Tokyo? If I wasn’t on a budget, all of this would be much easier, but much less challenging.

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.

Chicago continued

One of the exhibits at the History Museum was

Facing Freedom

What does freedom mean? To whom should freedom be extended? How are denied rights gained? These are some of the questions the new American history exhibition explores. Based on the central idea that the history of the United States has been shaped by conflicts over what it means to be free, this new exhibition uses images, artifacts, and interactivity to explore familiar and not-so-familiar stories from the nation’s past. From women's suffrage and the formation of unions, to Japanese internment, to a local school boycott, the exhibition highlights some of the ways Americans have struggled over the true meaning of freedom.

It's a powerful exhibit as pertinent today as its recollection of events of the past.

On Thursday we went on an Architecture Foundation tour of the Fine Arts Building, an artists' building on Michigan Avenue. I've been in the building many times, but learned all sorts of new things from the tour. I didn't know there was this beautiful courtyard on the fourth floor.

I would like to have a studio that opens into the courtyard and have tea every afternoon when the 4 o'clock low hits me.

Afterward we went to Millenium Park, the jewel of Chicago, and looked at the Lurie Garden. Chicago's motto is "city in a garden." You can really believe that here.

Friday morning I left Chicago and drove down to New Albany, Indiana, a suburb of Louisville, Kentucky, to go to Jan's opening. Here she is taking my picture. Be sure to note the wonderful banner they hung for the show.

You can read more about the show in her blog here and in the show blog here. It was a great opening and a great show. I'm very glad I went, although I hope I remember not to do two hard days of driving, back to back, again. I got back to Pittsburgh in spite of tornado warnings in Ohio and a terrible traffic backup in Kentucky.


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.

I’m going to visit Raja

We've been friends for more than thirty years. I was amazed when she moved to Kentucky; couldn't understand how she could do that. Do I have to tell you I'm not too fond of rural situations. But she's made good friends, has a great life and is having a wonderful time. This is my second visit to her. I'll visit with some of her artist friends, go to see the exhibit about the horse, and I'm particularly looking forward to the frickles.