Something to think about

On Friday, when I returned home about 4:30 pm, my neighbor’s newspaper was still in front of her door. My neighbor is in her early eighties, she has balance problems and trouble walking. Worried, I called her and got her voicemail. I called down to the garage and was told her car was in place. Now I was really worried and didn’t know what to do. I called the president of the condo board. His wife said they would go into the apartment when he returns home in about 45 minutes. More than an hour later we finally went into the apartment and, happily, found no one there, dispelling my nightmare vision of finding B on the floor. The newspapers are piling up; B has not returned. The last time she went away she told me beforehand and I took care of the papers. I will do so tonight and leave a note for her. That’s not the problem.

We have a large number of elders in our building reflecting the population of Pittsburgh. There should be some sort of protocol for watching out for each other and not waiting for the condo president. I don’t have the answer; maybe there isn’t a good one, but I keep thinking about it. I don’t want to be the one on the floor waiting to be found.


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.

Trying to get back to normal

I’m still framing and hanging pictures. And I still feel like I’m drowning in paper, most of which I should have sorted and filed before I moved. But the important thing is to get back to work on my books. For the last year or more I’ve been working on a mammoth Japanese garden book. It has all of my pictures and lots of information from the internet about each of the gardens I visited. Because of the move I stopped printing out the pages. It took time to figure out what I needed to do and then I ran out of ink. Now I’m waiting for a new supply. Before I am finished I think this book will cost more than $500, mostly in ink. Too bad I didn’t figure it out before I started printing.

More important, the semi-annual party for my book arts collective is next Sunday. The highlight of each of these parties is the book exchange and I don’t have a book ready. I went to bed thinking about it; woke up still thinking about it; did some research about the type of book I want to make; changed my mind, and finally started working. I want to make a pop-up book. I’ve been wanting to do it for a very long time. The thought overwhelms me, frightens me. I decided to start very small, with a single cut and fold page, then decided on a different pop-up type. All of this has to work with my content. I don’t like making blank books, not even pop-ups. I’ll take pictures and show them after the party next week.

Another month gone by

The older I get, the faster the time goes and the less I accomplish. I seem to be stuck in picture selection mode. Bill was here yesterday and put up three pictures and 2 pieces of sculpture (wall-hung types). I am now contemplating placement of five largish photos. Three of them were hung in my last apartment. The other two will have to be framed. Having been a photographer for many years, I have lots of framed photos in different sizes. So, unframe two and reframe two others. Then measure and make tiny x’s on the walls where Bill will drill holes.

I spent a lot of time this week being annoyed about the next building over from my bedroom windows. This building belongs to a large Catholic girls’ high school, mostly housed in a newer building. The building near me is old; my apartment’s previous owner mentioned something about it possibly being torn down. I became aware of work being done there when they started making noise late one afternoon. There are three dumpsters and men were throwing things out of windows and into the dumpsters. It struck me as strange. Usually trash is guided into the dumpsters using tubes coming from the windows. I didn’t give it much thought until the next day when I walked past the building. I looked for a work permit and found none, but I found a sign warning about danger from asbestos. I am not happy about this activity. I think it is being done without proper supervision. I suspect the workmen are in some jeopardy, and possibly I am also. I thought about making someone aware of the potential problems and I will think about it again next week if the work resumes.

I have cable TV here–no choice, it’s a comes-with. I must have close to 100 channels, but strangely enough I find myself watching, if at all, the same stuff I watched when I didn’t have cable. Neither public TV or ABC were available to me without cable, but I don’t think I missed much. Haven’t found anything yet that I want to see. I do watch CNN and MSNBC. I suppose I should be happy with that.

I haven’t been taking any of those very long walks, but I walk at least a mile most days to go to classes either at Pitt or CMU.  This is a great location right in the middle.

Third week

It looks like it will take another 40 days to get settled. Probably longer; packing actually took me most of a year.

Bill hung a few pictures and installed the shades on Wednesday afternoon. He worked for two hours. I bought the kind you can raise from the bottom and lower from the top, the idea being I could hide the parking lot but still get lots of light and see the view. The bad part about the shades is the dust created by the installation. I spent much of Thursday and Friday cleaning. I’ll have to do it again when the shade for the door arrives. I was foolish not to have ordered it at the same time. I had trouble understanding how it would work. Bill told me you just raise it when you want to go out. I’m not much of an outdoor person; at least not in hot sunshine, so it probably won’t matter.

Sari was here when Bill arrived and helped me get these pictures hung. Remember the wall with the green peacock feathers? This is the wall. Not so dazzling as the feathers, but much easier for me to live with.  So I now have a living-dining room combination. I may replace the table and chairs with something smaller, but I’ve already spent so much money I won’t be ready to do it soon.

While Sari was here she made some other suggestions about moving the furniture. She has a great eye. After I finished most of the dust removal from the living-dining room I started moving furniture. I was going to wait until I enticed a strong, young man to come and help me (ha ha!) but decided I couldn’t wait any longer. With the help of those large coaster things, I think called Move-alls, and lots of hard work, I did the job. Sari suggested switching the rugs, requiring removing the furniture from each and rolling up the rugs. I removed all the shelves and drawers from the two large cabinets, put the Move-alls under them and pushed them off the rug. I had to remove the table and chairs and the coffee table, then figure out where to put all the stuff so I could get the rugs laid again. Anyhow, I survived and I’m very happy with the result. It now feels like an orderly room. Still have to hang the rest of the pictures–next week, I hope.

The point of all this, besides making me feel good, was to be able to put things in the two cabinets. I decided to put the books and pottery I made behind the glass doors. Then I put some of my larger art books on one of the open shelves and freed up some space that was badly needed in the other bookcases. Also moved a few pieces from the built-in shelves, which were much too crowded. After that I was able to get all the books put away, more or less by subject matter, oversize items not included.

When I removed the drawers from the cabinet I found the opera glasses that I hadn’t seen for at least twelve years. I knew I owned them and couldn’t figure out what happened. For years, each time I went to a play or opera I searched for them, finally giving up when I moved to Pittsburgh. I’ve started pulling other drawers hoping to find the MP3 player I haven’t seen for a year or more.

One of the more annoying things, besides the concrete, was the radio. We have three public radio stations here, one classical music, one folk, pop and I don’t know what, and one news. I have for many years awakened to the news on public radio. In most of the apartment I could only get the classical music station. Only in the kitchen and bathroom, both rooms in the inner part of the apartment, was I able to tune in the news station. It’s been bothering me since I moved in. Today I decided to try wrapping the radio in aluminum foil. Voila, it worked and I am a happy woman.

Finally found that book I was reading

It was exactly where it belonged: on my nightstand, but several other books were piled on top of it. Now if I could just find those earphones. My window shades have arrived and should be installed tomorrow. I never ordered one for the balcony door. It’s awkward, but I think I have to do it.

The chaise is gone. One of my new neighbors came to visit and when I mentioned I was getting rid of it she asked for it. Today, she finally got Bill, the maintenance man, to get it. I’m happy to see it go. Now I just need to move two more pieces of furniture and the picture hanging will begin. I have to figure out where I want each piece and mark the wall. Then Bill will come with his trusty drill. I’ve always done it myself, but with all the concrete here, I am happy to have his help.

Although my workroom is coming along very slowly, it should get much better after the picture hanging. Some of the kitchen cabinets, closets and bookcases need additional attention, and everything needs cleaning. Unfortunately, it’s much dustier here than in my last place.


It’s all finished except for the picture hanging, which probably won’t happen for awhile. I don’t know if I’ll be able to do it myself, preferably, or Bill will have to bring his super drill to put holes in the concrete. Remember what the kitchen looked like when I bought the apartment? You wouldn’t recognize it now. First, all the green is gone. Red is gone, also. Here is my beautiful, new kitchen.

The wall below is calling out for pictures. That’s the next job.

The room behind the infamous wall is mostly set up, again awaiting pictures. It still has five boxes to be moved and emptied. They are waiting for space in the workroom.

The wall I’m not showing you has two bookcases and the five boxes. I felt really good because I was sure I had found all the books and had a couple of empty shelves. Too bad, I found another box. I think I’m finished now; the empty shelves are gone.

No more counting

I don’t want to know how many days it takes me to unpack. The kitchen is mostly organized, not including the boxes of stuff I haven’t yet found. The picture is of my workroom. I began by removing four boxes to another room, but it didn’t help much. I’ve actually been taking it easy, following your instructions. Yesterday afternoon I went to a splendid movie: Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. It’s a wonderful portrayal of making the best of old age, along with some great views of India; something I’ll probably watch again.

Finally went grocery shopping today. The cupboard has been very bare, but I was enjoying not have more stuff to put away. However, I do like to eat. I thought about going last night but just walked down the street and got a sandwich from EatUnique, my favorite restaurant. One of the virtues of my new location is that I can just walk one or two blocks and get something to eat or have something to do. I’m enjoying it already.

I have seven bookcases and I’ve begun loading them. Unfortunately I’m not sure how to divide the books: which books go in what room. I have a terrible feeling this could go on for a long time.

Tomorrow morning I have class again. I’m grateful for the distraction.

40 Days of Moving: Day 40, plus 2

The move went smoothly, just as the apartment redecorating. If I believed in omens, I would say this was truly meant to be. For the week and a half before the move a small truck was parked about two feet closer to my driveway than would be comfortable for the moving van. I don’t know which of my neighbors owns the truck, but I kept wishing it would go away. I was prepared to position my car in such a way as to capture two parking spaces and leave it there until the movers came. Having a driveway would make that possible. But the truck didn’t move. On Thursday, moving day, I was up about 6am, getting ready. At 7:30 I just happened to look out the window: the truck was gone. What a great thing: it made everything much easier.

The movers arrived about 8:30 and worked hard until finishing at noon. We drove to the new place and they worked hard again until 4.  When the truck first arrived, my neighbor, Mary, came over and asked if I needed help. She agreed to come with me to the new place. I think it would have been very difficult without her. She was really wonderful and again I felt particularly blessed. Later Ivetta came after her ESL class and also helped out. Of course, after the movers finished we had 98 boxes to cope with. Also, while I had planned most of this very carefully, I really screwed up at the end. I had run out of one of my cardio meds, got the scrip refilled, threw it into a box and couldn’t remember what I did with it. I knew it was in a kitchen box; there were only about 12 of those, but we had to find them and we weren’t getting there.

My telephone rang and it was the “concierge” from my health insurer, wishing me a happy birthday. He asked if there was anything he could do for me. I suspect he’ll never ask that question again. He was very good and got special dispensation for me to have the scrip refilled again. So I was able to take the meds for that day and the next morning then finally found the original bottle.

At this point, two days later I have unpacked about 25 or 30 boxes. The kitchen is almost finished and I’ve started on the bookcases, since most of  the boxes contain books. This afternoon Robin, Steve and I went over to the old apartment to clean it up and remove food and a few last items. I couldn’t have done it without them. So, I am now entirely relocated. I left the keys and look forward to getting my security deposit returned.

My workroom is impassable; I can barely make my way to the computer. Comcast sent me the wrong modem, so the computer has to be tethered and I can’t sit in bed and use the toy. They promised to fix it. My dining room, which will become my computer room was so filled with boxes I couldn’t walk from one side to the other with going into the living room. It’s much better now that I’ve unpacked so many boxes. That’s where I’ve been concentrating; that’s where most of the kitchen boxes were. My bathroom and bedroom are in decent shape and that’s where I’m headed now. I’ve never gone to bed so early, so often.

40 Days of Moving: Day 38

Everything is finished except for painting the kitchen. Perry thinks he can come next week to finish up. I am amazed at how smoothly the whole business went. I feel very fortunate to have found Ed and Meg and Perry.  All the countertops are installed and I love the butcher block. The kitchen floor is finished. Tomorrow I’ll do a little more cleaning, organize some of the stuff I’ve already brought in, then return to the old apartment to finish packing.

I wanted to show you a picture of the kitchen, but I can’t figure out how to make Picasa work for me, it’s been so long since I used it. Pictures will come after the move-in.