No excuses

Nine Mile Run

Nine Mile Run

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I just didn’t feel like communicating. I’ve been working on my photos, remembering the gardens I visited and working on two, or maybe three new books. I’ll write about them when they are further along.

Flowers above are from a wonderful place in Pittsburgh called Nine Mile Run, at the south end of Frick Park. I walked there last week with Friend #1 and went back today with Friend #2. I’m trying to do more walking. We went to a new entrance to the park; one I didn’t know about, and took a long walk. Getting back to the car we drove to Duck Hollow where the run flows into the Monongahela River. More pictures soon.

January thaw

Nine mile run, January thaw

Nine mile run, January thaw

With the temperature in the 60’s today I was drawn back to Nine Mile Run. I was hoping to take a good long walk but there was still lots of snow on the trail so I didn’t go further than the wooden path. I am still cautious about falling; even with my walking stick I didn’t feel secure.

IMG_3758Mostly I went to take pictures. When I posted the picture that appears in my new year post I remembered I had taken one more that seems to have disappeared. Looking at the previous day’s pictures I knew some of them were missing also. I don’t know whether I did something wrong (always a possibility), the camera wasn’t working right, or something was wrong with the memory card. The only thing I can check is the memory card, so I bought a new one and that’s what I am using. I plan to take many more pictures in the next few weeks. I don’t want to find out I’ve lost any of my Japanese photos.


I went to a real (printing) paper distributor, bought a good card stock and made another book. I made the sides out of single sheets and only laminated the seven bridge sheets. It's much better–not perfect by any means, but much better. Now I'm back to work on the Japanese garden book.

We've had wonderful weather the last few weeks so I've spent a lot of time walking. I like it much better than the health club. I don't know which is better exercise.

I looked at two apartments that just came on the market. One of them has wonderful space but I really can't afford it. So, we'll just forget it. The other would be OK. I'm not in love with it and I really don't want to buy anything for another month or two, so we'll just wait and see what happens.

At the beginning of the month, when the weather became so nice, I met up with another Pittsburgh blogger and we went walking in Frick Park. Nice walk, and I really prefer having company when I walk there, but going alone allows me to take pictures and spend more time just looking.

Here are a few pictures from my second walk in Frick Park.





The tree below is on the next block when I walk to Frick Park. I don't know anything about it, not even its species or why it grew these great bumps/burls. I'm just pleased no one has cut it down.


Term paper, Folded books and a gigapixel conference

Yes, Mage, it was a very busy week. While I was in New York last summer, I heard about an exhibition of artist books to be held at MOMA's PS1 on November 5 and 6. I planned to go, but finally decided I didn't have the time. Instead, I signed up for two book-making workshops here. One of them took place on the past two Wednesday evenings and was about folding and  embellishing books. Here is my folded book, not yet embellished. I work slowly.

This book was particularly satisfying to fold. It was a text from a class I took while I was working on that master's degree on corporate communication. I wanted to sell the book back to the school bookstore, but they would only give me $1 so I kept it.

I began the week working on my term paper. We were each supposed to give a ten minute talk about our projects. I spent Sunday, Monday and Tuesday morning trying to figure out exactly what I would say. I wasn't even sure I would be called on, but I wanted to be prepared. Being an auditor is an uncertain life. We only got through about half of the class last week and I will be called on Tuesday. I'll append my notes at the bottom of this post.

I alternated work on the term paper with work on the poster for the gigapan conference. David kept finding typos and adjustments; I kept making the changes. The conference took place Thursday evening, Friday and Saturday. I am amazed at all the uses for gigapixel imagery–showing detail in microscopic images and detail in huge panoramas. You can see the papers here and some of the gigapans from the conference here. I think they will also post the talks. Tomorrow I am supposed to begin work on the new gigapan we shot last month (along with the term paper and Thanksgiving preparations). Here are David and Simram, another member of our team, in front of our poster.

I continued going to my Osher classes, along with all of this, and on Thursday, managed to get in another quick walk in Frick Park.

The weather has been cooler, but still sunny and most of the trees still have their leaves.

Needless to say, my house looks like it's been trashed. So I'm off to the club to exercise, then back here to clean.

Notes for term paper presentation

In fall, 2008, I was in Japan looking at gardens for more than a month. Most of the gardens were in Kyoto, but I traveled to Tokyo, Nikko, Kanazawa, Nagoya, and Okayama. Most Japanese gardens use the same elements, yet each one is unique; each one has its own design and arrangement of space; most have great appeal for me, a few left me wondering why I had bothered to come to them. Allowing for some days of fatigue and the fact that winter was nearing, I still did not understand why some of those gardens had little appeal for me. This paper is an attempt to examine the elements of a Japanese garden to determine what made the difference.

I will look at two types of gardens: those viewed from within a room or a veranda, and scroll gardens, which promote interactive viewing, each few steps presenting a different view, much like walking through a museum and stopping to examine and appreciate each picture.

The elements of a Japanese garden are greenery, water, rocks, stone lanterns and bridges. Design of a garden is governed by use of space, illusion/shakkei or captured scenery, management of vegetation and growth, and an invocation of famous places, usually in spirit or in some abstract fashion.

I will consider how each of the elements is used in a garden and some of the history of that use, beginning with rocks, which are considered the most important element by the Sakutei, the eleventh century gardening manual. Further, I will show how the use of space and illusion intensify the experience of the connection with nature for the occupants of the house.

Painters, particularly emaki painters, designed many early gardens, creating a “conceived” work of art that combines a gardener’s sense of composition with the idea of scenery “borrowed” from nature. To view the garden from within a house is very much like viewing a scroll painting. To walk through a stroll garden each new view could be another part of the scroll. I did my best to frame each of these views within the viewfinder of my camera.

In addition to a general consideration of the Japanese garden, I propose to examine Kenroku-en in Kanazawa, Koraku-en in Okayama, Sankien in Yokohama and Shirotori in Nagoya and two gardens meant to be viewed from within a building, Chishakuin and  Nanzen-in, in Kyoto, using maps and my own photographs for reference.

In conclusion, I propose to illustrate how the use of space in each garden made a difference to my feelings about it.


Last week in Pittsburgh

 I am happy to report I have been to the health club three times every week since I finished cardio rehab. It's not as much fun; no one pays any attention to me; no heart monitor; no blood pressure readings; but then again, no one reminding me about my afib. Most of the time I know when I'm in afib, but I'd rather not be reminded.

I've been working on the paper, which won't be turned in until November 23, at the earliest, so I haven't been thinking about much of anything else.

Here are some Pittsburgh pictures I've taken in the last week or so.

Target is building a new store near me. I've been watching the construction and I'm fascinated. They brought in these huge slabs of concrete, used cranes to erect them, then keep them in place with those diagonal strips until the roof is put in place. It's a little like building a house of cards: put two cards upright and parallel, then a third card on top to hold them together. I hope the building holds up better then those houses of cards. I'll be happy to have the Target nearby.

Tuesday afternoon the huge storm that produced so many tornadoes in the midwest came through Pittsburgh just as I was leaving the Japanese art history seminar. I made it to the bus stop (fortunately sheltered) and first watched the wind increase and leaves fly around like they were rain. Then the rain came, absolutely pouring. After about ten minutes it stopped. About ten fifteen or twenty minutes later the bus finally arrived. I wanted a picture of the leaves; they were amazing. But by the time I got the camera out of my purse the rain had come.

Saturday was another one of those great days that probably won't happen again until spring: a little cool, but very pleasant. I took a walk in Frick Park. Here are a few pictures.





Walking again

This morning, Ivetta and I went walking in Frick Park. This is the first time I've been there since last fall; many things have changed. One section along the Homewood Trail was shockingly bare and disturbing looking. Frick Park is a steep valley with wooded hillsides with minimal management, primarily keeping trails cleared and walkable, so this huge dug up area was a terrible surprise. I later found out it was cleared of diseased oak trees in hopes of keeping the disease from spreading.

My usual walk in Frick Park covers about three miles. I made it a little shorter this time, about 2.5 miles, and was pleased to find I was able to climb the hill (downhill in, uphill out) with less trouble than before. However, I found the walk exhausting and took a long nap after I got home. 

Pictures tomorrow.


Friday and Saturday were filled with my ESL students. My Somali refugee is scheduled to take the citizenship exam next month. I think he's pretty well prepared except for the writing part of the test. He seems to have all of the 100 questions and answers memorized; maybe he even understands them. I think he will be able to pass the reading exam. I'm worried about the writing component. For both reading and writing he has to get one of three sentences correct. I don't know if they count spelling; that will be the crucial point.

Friday afternoon I went shopping with my Swedish Russian friend. We do lots of talking but no obvious teaching. She's taking ESL classes at the community college so I think the best thing I can do for her is conversation practice. She's doing very well. Her grammar is good–just needs more vocabulary.

This afternoon I took my Chinese doctors, along with one of their wives, on a little tour of Frick Park and the Frick Art and Historical Center. We also stopped and looked at Chinese graves in Homewood Cemetery. Unfortunately the weather wasn't very good for all the outdoor stuff.

After all of my teaching duties Robin and I went to the Verizon store where she got a Droid phone. After she tests it for thirty days, I'll decide what I want to do. I'm still vacillating.

Another week flew by

Mage, I'm just fine. I still have some interesting marks on my face, but they're fading quickly. I've been concentrating on the book so too busy to write. Often I write things in my head as I go through the week. Most of it never gets put in type. Eli thinks some day we'll have a direct hookup from our brains to the computer. I'm not sure I want to see that.

I went to two of my classes last week: stitching and Rachel Carson. Never got to the third one, fabrigami. Instead, I went on an Osher sponsored bus trip to Amish country in Ohio. Spent most of the time on the bus stitching.

Finally got to the plastic surgeon as instructed by both the ER doc and my GP. He was great; looked at my nose, which looks about the same as always, assured me he would fix it if it came out crooked (no age discrimination just because I'm an old lady) and told me he wouldn't do anything in my case–exactly what I wanted to hear. Told me, using other words, this was a 'cover your ass' situation. Ain't American medicine great.

I come away from this experience, as I always do when I encounter our medical system, with many thoughts about it. When I finish the book I'll do another post about health care.

Since this one is for you, Mage, I'll tell you a little about shopping. The most exciting part of it is that I can now get into regular sizes. I'm still under tall, but that's a condition I can never fix. When I was in New York I bought one pair of black pants, two tee shirts, one yellow, one beige, and a jacket I haven't worn yet: white with a black print that almost looks like embroidery, all at Chico's.

Mostly I've been shopping in my own closet. Yesterday I went to Nordstorms with Robin and Charna. I bought, on sale, a very handsome pair of black pants and a black and white print top. This will be for fall. I hate to pay Nordstrom prices, but I like wearing their clothes. The pants are size 16. Years ago, when I was somewhat thinner than now, I would take a 14 or 16 top and 18 pants. That says much more about what's happened to sizes than what's happened to me. Also, the more you pay, the larger the size.

One last thing: I'm back to walking–three miles in Frick Park on Saturday. 

Revisiting Pittsburgh sights

I’ve been playing tourguide to a friend from New York, who has been with me for the last few days. We began on Friday with a trip on the busway and got off at Penn Station. I love the building, particularly the rotunda. Library - 5624

We peered through the doors at the beautiful waiting room, then got very lucky. The doorman let us go in and look at the waiting room from the doorway. I was in it once before; I took a special Landmarks and History tour sponsored by my alumni association. Weddings are held there now. Maybe someday I’ll get invited to one.

We walked over to the convention center and walked along the water feature down to the Allegheny. Library - 5074

At noon we joined a Landmarks and History tour of the cultural district along Penn and Liberty Avenues. Hot, tired, we took the “T” across the Mon and went to lunch at Grand Concourse. I love the room, the lunch was good, the service was almost unbearably slow. We were there two hours. It’s no wonder they are almost always empty.

Back across the Mon we walked over to the Allegheny County Court House, a marvelous building by H. H. Richardson. My friend was impressed with Pittsburgh and I love visiting all those places. We were wiped out by the time we got back to the apartment.

After a short rest we went to a program presented by the kids in Charna’s Governor’s School. Those kids a really something, very impressive.

While I was at the keratoconus meeting, Phyllis went to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and looked at the gems and minerals, a wonderful display, and fossils. Then we went to the Duquesne incline, took lots of photos and rode down and back up again. Library - 5627

This is the incline car just beginning to emerge. Library - 5632

Finding my way down Mt. Washington without getting lost made me feel really good, and we easily found our way over to PPG Place. The kids were having a great time in the water around the Egyptian obelisk.

A few of the reflections were good; mostly the light wasn’t very good. Library - 5646

Sunday was Frick Park day. We went on a tour of Clayton,  ate a wonderful lunch in the cafe (desserts are fabulous), looked at the exhibit of 19th C. Pittsburgh prints and finally looked at the park but were too tired to really walk it.

Today we drove to Fallingwater. I’ve been there four or five times already, but I still enjoy it. Library - 5650

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