Last night in Jerusalem

Breakfast in this hotel has been wonderful. There is fresh squeezed joice, cold cereal, fruit, salad items, good coffee, expresso or cappuchino, sweet pastries, yesterday an assortment of pizzas, today a salmon fillet, and a cheese board. I don’t eat most of it but it was fun to look. Coffee is wonderful here and I’ve been drinking too much of it. One cup only, tomorrow.

Today I went to Moshav Yishii, near Bet Shemesh, to visit the cousin whose grandchild’s picture, playing in the sun, inspired me to come here. I had not seen Davida for 30 years. We had a great time reminiscing and looking at old pictures and new ones of her children and grandchildren who were not at home. Davida keeps animals: horses, dogs, goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits, guinea pigs, pheasants and a camel and a peacock. School groups come here to learn about the animals and play with some of them in her petting zoo.

Monday morning I will see my friend Janette then return to Yona in Hofit.

Tel Aviv

First we took a bus tour of the city. There was only one tall building looming over the sand dunes and small houses when I was here last. Today the skyline is amazing. I would have liked a tour where you get off and on the bus but I hope to go back to some of the places we passed. Jaffa, now part of TA, looked particularly interesting; think flea market. I have photos of Tel Aviv from 30 or 40 years ago. Perhaps I can find some of them and show the comparison.
Imagine right now I am showing pictures of people on the beach. As we walked along the shore the sun felt like it was burning into me.
We had lunch on the boardwalk. Because this is supposed to be winter the restaurant did not have their umbrellas open over the outdoor tables so we sat inside. It was too hot to sit out in the direct sun.
After lunch Yona left me at the Rabin Center, a memorial to the assassinated former Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, that puts his life into the context of recent history, both of Israel and the world. It was beautifully done and very sad.
Yona has decided I must come here every winter. It’s very tempting, especially when the bad weather in the Eastern US is the first news story on CNN.

The party’s over


Tomorrow we go back to our real lives. No more walks along the beach; no more discussions about our art work; no more meals waiting for us and all of the wonderful camaraderie. My week in Door County is always one of the best of the year.

Today was beautiful after two days of rain, but I only got a couple of short walks along the beach. Wet sand penetrated my shoes so I took a few pictures of the geese and went back. I love walking along the beach hunting the treasure of dead fish and small pieces of driftwood. Years ago, playing on the beach at Lake Michigan was an entirely different experience, with clean sand and warm bodies on blankets soaking up the sun. Here, about 250 miles to the north and 65 years later on Lake Michigan, zebra mussel shells, seaweed, dead fish, driftwood and a couple of helium balloons cover the beach.

I haven’t done much artwork, but I can’t wait to get home and work on the dead fish.

Beach walking

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Time does not behave as usual here; it expands to encompass many events then passes slowly. We arrived with clear skies and sunshine on Monday afternoon and again on Tuesday. Yesterday and today we have had rain, a gray lake and lots of waves. I love to walk along the beach occasionally picking up pieces of driftwood and photographing masses of detritus left by the waves. Years ago, while I was going to art school, I photographed alewives along a beach in Indiana. The fish were larger than what I photographed this week, alewives in Wisconsin. Perhaps I’ll make a book of dead fish.

The rain stopped long enough yesterday for us to visit a wonderful garden and go to a play in the evening, Our theme this year has been serendipity, or as Jan says, “serene deputy” and the rain didn’t begin again until we got into our cars to return home.

The garden is on the lake

The garden is on the lake

We actually get work done in between eating and walking and visiting. I am still working on French knots for my book cover. Jan and Sandy are both working on books. Anna, a newcomer to our group, has been the most prolific, with wonderful cards and a quilt top. When the rain stops I’ll go back to the beach for more pictures of dead fish.

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.


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.

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.

April 3 and 4: Imperial Palace and Daitokuji

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I arrived at Kyoto Station to absolute chaos; crowds of people milling around in every direction clearly not knowing where to go. These were Western crowds; Japanese crowds always have a direction. I couldn’t remember exactly where to go but finally found the tourist office and armed with maps figured out which subway to take and got out of there.

It was not a nice day: chilly and threatening rain that never came. I left my suitcase at the hotel and went for a long walk, finally stopping for lunch in a Thai restaurant. More walking, stopping at a kind of supermarket and picking up some stuff for dinner, then walking back to the hotel through the gardens of the Imperial Palace which are open all the time and even include a children’s playground.

I am staying, as I have on my previous trips, at the Palace Side Hotel, across the street from the Imperial Palace. It’s inexpensive, pleasant and the staff is always helpful and wonderful. They also have laundry and kitchen facilities and a small, guest contributed library. It has a lovely, communal feel to it; not so hotely. The only thing I would change is the restaurant, which is expensive and the last time I tried it, not very good. I would love to be able to eat there but I settle for supermarket stuff in my room.

April 4 brought full sunshine and the opportunity to attend an open house to inside the walls of the Imperial Palace. I did this once before and I’m not interested in the palace itself, but wanted to see the gardens again. There are gardens inside and outside the walls. The entire property is 700 meters wide by 1300 meters long.

Hoping that by coming early I would avoid the crowds I arrived at ten to nine to find a huge crowd already lined up. I waited, they let everyone in and I walked through to the gardens. There are two of them: a wonderful,  private garden for the emperor and next to it a wonderful, more public facility. Public in this case means royal family or visitors.

Too many people to really enjoy. I took some pictures but I’ll try to get back again. The open house lasts until April 8. Maybe there will be fewer people if I come toward the end of the day. Also the sun will be in a better position. I was having a hard time seeing what I was actually photographing and I am amazed I got anything. That little camera is great.

Taking a bus and subway I went on to Daitokuji, a large, important  temple complex north of the palace where I visited gardens in a couple of the subtemples. There is no cherry-tree viewing here so it was peaceful and pleasant. The gardens were not exceptional but I enjoyed them.

I couldn’t figure out how to get to two of the subtemples and finally decided I had enough. Walking south through a lovely, residential area I came to a shrine with beautiful cherry blossoms and found a place called Art Space CASAne with some tiny books in the window I might have bought had she been open. Now I might have to make my own.

A short bus ride brought me to another supermarket where I bought two oranges, strawberries, some cut pineapple, tomatoes, cooked lotus root, (I make it better) and inari sushi, which is not fish but rice in a tofu skin wrapper. All vegetarian.

March 29 and March 30

Went from very warm yesterday to quite chilly today. I went back to Fukuoka for one more try at Yusentei. First I went to Shofuen, the garden that was closed on Tuesday. It is a small garden in an upscale residential area, built originally as a tea house garden, then taken over by the city. It was an uphill walk from the bus stop and then a steep set of stairs. However the wonderful thing about municipally run enterprises is they often consider people like me and put in an elevator, actually enhancing the experience. Instead of seeing the garden in bits and pieces as you clamber up the stairs it opens to you all at once when the elevator door opens.

Frothy, powdered green tea with sweets. Note the pink sakura

Frothy, powdered green tea with sweets. Note the pink sakura

It was noon by the time I arrived and climbing up the hill had tired me, so for the first time, I accepted a bowl of green tea and a sweet, which I was able to eat while sitting on a bench and viewing part of the garden. It was a lovely experience I will probably never repeat but it was nice to try it once.


80 year old maple tree in the center of the garden

After I felt restored I walked around the garden and the teahouse.



Before I began this visit I got detailed instructions for Shofuen and Yustentei from the information desk at the train station. Actually not detailed enough, but I was able to figure out details like which direction I should go on the bus. Two buses and help from passersby I got to Yusentei only to find it closed. This time there was a long letter on the door, I think, explaining the closure, which will probably last for months. I can’t read the writing but I recognize dates. Giving up, I got back on the bus then took the subway back to the train to Kumamoto.

March 30

On the train again, this time heading back toward Kyoto with stops at Hiroshima and Okayama. I can’t believe I have been here two weeks already and have only a few more days of travel before I settle down for most of the remaining three weeks. I shipped my bag directly to Kyoto, taking enough underwear and medications for the next four days. Interesting what becomes important as you grow older.

Had a great day in Shukkeien garden here in Hiroshima. I’ll write about it tomorrow or Monday when I’m on the train again. The rest of this post was written on my way here.

Some casual observations.

Alice, sometimes you must read my mind. I don’t remember writing about how clean it is here, but I think about it. You seldom see papers or plastic bags or anything on the ground. And unlike our cities you don’t see trash containers on every corner. I have walked around all day with junk in my pocket and no place to get rid of it. Every small purchase earns you a receipt. I have learned you don’t have to take them. Then it’s up to the giver to dispose of it. This year smokers seem to be largely confined to smoking areas with cigarette disposal containers. Mostly there aren’t even cigarette butts on the ground.

Besides the receipts, the other nuisance here is the one yen coin. Like our pennies they are mostly useless except in supermarkets where they make you think you are getting a bargain if they take 2 yen off. I now have a pocketful of one yen coins that I save for my supermarket purchases.

One of the wonderful things here is that buses and trams all have change-making machines. They expect you to pay the fare in exact change, but you can use the change machines to break even a 1000 yen bill. All lower denominations are in coins, including the equivalent of $1 and $5. In New York, if you don’t have a Metro card, you have to walk around with a pocket full of change or beg other passengers to help you break dollar bills.

I’m in another largish hotel room with a slightly larger bathroom and I’m getting ready to try out the bed.