Moving day

for my upstairs neighbors. I had to get up early this morning and move my car out of the garage so I would be able to use it today. I had to do it Monday, also, for packing day, but I had an early appointment for my blood test, so I was gone before the movers came. Yesterday I just took the bus and left the car in the garage. Today was the aggravation, but, amazingly, I got up, dressed, moved the car and finally went to work out, all without too much pain on my part. No fighting with myself to get out of bed. I will leave for a lunch date in about 15 minutes, and that's good, too. With the front door open the apartment is getting very cold. Maybe I'll stay away all afternoon.

I've begun working on he revision of my paper. Yesterday I was able to work in the library, thanks to Google documents. Do you know about this? I attached the paper to an email to myself. Then I was able to view it from any computer where I could access my email. I got much more done than I would have here. Not so many distractions. I'll try it again tomorrow, since I don't think I'll be able to get much done today.

Freezing rain

I left the house in time for a slow walk to the bus, got to my neighbor's driveway and turned around and came back home. Freezing rain is much more frequent here than in Chicago where it was always too cold in winter for rain. I bought new boots at L. L. Bean, which were supposed to be good on ice; they weren't any different than my usual shoes. Can't blame L. L.; it was the sales person who made up the story.

I'll miss the Chinese landscape painting class but hope to arrive in time for a lunch date and the Japanese scroll painting class. Last week the professor said something that contradicted what I had written in my paper: that is, scroll paintings usually didn't have backgrounds. I plan to spend time in the library looking for my reference. Unfortunately, I did not footnote it.

I've started planning my Japan trip, at least to the extent of making a two-week reservation at the Palace Side Hotel in Kyoto. To my amazement I found out one of my Israeli friends will be in Kyoto at the same time. I'm really delighted. Without the blog and the internet we would have been ships passing in the night.

Wrap up of the week’s good classes and events

It's a dark, rainy, somewhat chilly morning and I don't have to be anywhere until 4 pm. I went back to bed for awhile, then read blogs and finally took a long, hot shower. Amazing what that does for all my aches. It doesn't seem to matter where the water hits me, usually on my back and the back of my neck, and all of the pains in my hip and legs go away. It's better than Tylenol, the only thing I'm supposed to take.

I've really had a busy week. On Saturday, Ivetta and I went to the SPF Expo–Small Press Festival. It was very nice to see all those publishers, but the best thing for me was the venue: AIR: Artist Image Resource. They have open studio time; I could go and make silk screen prints if I can work up enough ambition. Something to keep in mind, anyway.

We went to another festival: Little Italy Days in Bloomfield. As with most large city ethnic neighborhoods, identity is anchored more in nostalgia than in reality. It was fun, a little like a New York street fair.

Sunday night Robin served dinner in the sukkah–a Jewish holiday tradition. We had dinner in Dina's sukkah on Friday night. Miraculously it didn't rain either night–the usual sukkot event.

Monday I went to my World War I class. That one is good. We are not fighting each battle, but rather, examining possible causes. Excellent presentation. Tuesday was Japanese art history, then an open house at the Intel lab at Carnegie Mellon. I find I can understand about half of what they try to tell me.

Tuesday evening there was a lecture by Rev. Tom Johnson, Jr., who runs a school, the Neighborhood Academy, for children living in poverty. His goal, which he mostly has met, is to have 100% of his children graduate and go on to college. He explained his philosophy and his methods. I wish I had his talk written out. He's an amazing man.

Yesterday was infectuous diseases, another great class. I can't say I have any special interest in diseases, or in World War 1, but a good teacher can really capture me. That's the best part of these OLLI (Osher LIfelong Learning Institute) classes. Yesterday was also my next to last cardio rehab session. Friday is the end, but there are ways to continue and I may do it. First, I'll see if I can get religious about going to the health club.

In the evening I went on a walking tour of some of the art in East Liberty and in Mellon Park. I enjoyed the teacher and will be taking a class with her next month.

Rearranging my life

I'm staging my own private rebellion this morning. I was supposed to go to the African food class; went back to bed instead. This is the second of this term's classes I've bailed on. My tolerance for nonsense gets shorter and shorter. The problem is finding replacements. I don't want to sit home in front of the computer. I do too much of that already. I'm still turned on by the Japanese art history; still doing the reading. I've decided to write a final paper this semester–about Japanese gardens, of course. Then I can put it in my book.

A one paragraph statement about our final project is due today. Here is my statement:

I walk through a Japanese Garden in much the same way I walk through a museum, each few steps showing me a new view or picture to examine and appreciate. Some gardens give me more pleasure, I return to them over and over. Others don't hold the same enchantment. I look for magic in a garden, just as I look for magic in a work of art. That's the only way I can define it. Most Japanese gardens have the same elements: greenery, water, rocks, stone lanterns; yet they seem to be able to come up with infinite variations. Clearly, some are more successful than others. Some don't begin to be interesting. I propose to examine three or four stroll gardens, considered to be among the most beautiful in Japan, in terms of their use of space (mapping), illusion (shakkei or captured scenery), management of vegetation and growth, replication of famous places.

This is an opportunity to explore why I liked some gardens and not others. I am delighted with the serendipity.

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.

Labor day labors

It's been a beautiful weekend, the best one all summer–sunshine, cool breezes. I walked about a mile on Saturday, then two and a half on Sunday. This morning I went back to my health club to work out. Rehab was closed, so you can tell how dedicated I am. Unfortunately, my afib kicked in; I was wiped out all afternoon, never got out to another beautiful day. I feel better this evening after taking a long nap. 

I'm so inspired by the Japanese art class I printed out all the readings and I'm slogging my way through them. Most of it is way over my head. I vaguely remember something about Hegel from college, but never read any Foucault or the other two guys. The class is about space in Asian art. I understand a lot about space in art, but I"m not at all sure about the readings. I'm anxious to get to the class tomorrow, find out if anyone else understands this stuff.

After making several flag books and a few single page books I'm back to work on my garden book. I think I've got about 250 pages already, mostly photos. I'm thinking about another trip to Japan, probably April or May. I don't know how this will work with my afib or all the blood tests, but I've got a little time to work on it.

This week is Rosh Hashanah. I wish you all a happy, healthy, peaceful new year.

Back to school

My new semester started this morning with another cooking class: Food from Africa. We got some information about vegetables grown in Nigeria, then a demonstration of how to prepare and fry plaintains, and finally, a chance to taste the results. I love these classes even though I seldom cook–just enjoy watching someone else do it. And eating the results, of course.

I'm taking another Japanese Art History class that met for the first time this afternoon. This one is called Space and Place in Asian Art. Sitting there, thinking about the use of space in Japanese art, I realized my likes and dislikes of Japanese gardens had to do with the use of space. The gardens I didn't particularly like had huge, broad lawns. The ones I loved made use of densely designed space. I am anxious to see whether I can refine my ideas as the class progresses.

Speaking of cooking, you who know me will be amazed to hear I cooked something tonight. In a weak moment, probably five months ago, I bought a package of frozen swordfish steaks from Trader Joes. You can tell how anxious I was to cook it. Finally, I knew I had to do it, or else throw it out. I browned the fish on both sides on top of the stove (an old electric with burners that slope at various angles). Then five minutes in a 450 oven to finish it. Doused with lots of lemon juice, it was good. Because of the way they were packaged all three pieces had to be cooked at the same time. Now I have one very large piece and one small piece left over. You know some of this will be thrown out. This is why I don't usually cook.

School, again

Classes started last week. This is the summer semester, although it doesn't feel like it this week–rain and cold. I'm taking a class about mystery books that meets in an independent mystery bookstore; looks like it will be fun. At the very least I'll find out about new authors I'd like to read. Today's class is about Indian films, another area to explore. I have to remember to bring a pillow with me to sit on; chairs are too uncomfortable for long time sitting. Yesterday was archaeology of ancient Israel. I'm learning all sorts of things I never knew before.

Also signed up for a writing workshop, another round of digital photography classes, something about south Asian religion, two classes about Chinese and Japanese gardens and a workshop about making books. And I'm supposed to begin cardio-rehab at the end of the month. Obviously something will have to go; I can't make it all.

Tuesday–still posting

Here it is 10:46 pm and I don't know what to write. I left the house before nine this morning, drove my car over to Robin's then walked to the bus, where it seemed like I waited forever.

This was my last memoir writing class. I've invited the class to send stories to me and I'll post them on Silver Streakers. Check in tomorrow for the first one. I met Linda for lunch. Haven't seen her in a long time, so that was good. After a quick visit to the library I went to my audit class where I learned a little more about women in Asian art. I thought I was going to love this class, but it hasn't worked out that way. I went back to Robin's and walked Darcy for her. Finally home and dinner.

I now have five books on my night stand, probably four too many. I've been working on Ted Kennedy's memoir, which I'm not enthralled with. Some of it is interesting but I really don't enjoy books that begin with birth and work their way slowly and steadily through the subject's life. I prefer messier efforts. I have two books about Robert Flaherty, which I will just skim. At the library I picked up two more books: Jill Bolte Taylor's memoir, My Stroke of Insight, recommended by my memoir professor, and the best, The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. His previous book, The Shadow of the Wind is one of my all-time favorites.

Dear Mage

You're right, I don't do this often. I don't think it was their mistake; they had a whole days worth of people coming. I must have read the date wrong and probably didn't double check it. I tend to have what I think of as visual hallucinations.

It was another beautiful day here–a little cooler but lots of sunshine. That's very special in Pittsburgh. I had a 9:30 class this morning. Took the bus; it was too early to think about walking. That class is Gulliver's Travels. Notice I didn't say about Gulliver's Travels. We have been sitting and taking turns reading aloud to each other. I haven't been happy with that class, but I've stuck with it. We finished the book today. In the next two weeks we'll watch a film of Gulliver's Travels.

I went home for lunch then walked part way back for a class about documentary film. Last week we watched Nanook of the North, which was really interesting. Today was a film about the Kennedy-Humphrey primary race in Wisconsin. It was the beginning of cinema verite, but I liked Nanook better.

The best thing today was my meeting this evening with my two Chinese ESL students. I really enjoy talking to them. They both have a fair command of English so it's mostly a matter of giving them someone to talk to. Both work with other Chinese so I'm their big chance to speak English.