Half the day is gone

and I'm just beginning to work on my first post. I have a singular lack of ambition these days and a long list of things I ought to be doing. If I get through this month of writing every day, it will be a great accomplishment. Last night, trying to fall asleep, I thought about what I would write today, but of course that dissolved into sleep. Maybe I dreamt about it but usually don't remember my dreams.


I went to the farmer's market yesterday, and amongst other things, I bought these black walnuts, simply because they were beautiful. Now I don't know what to do with them. I looked on the internet to try to find out how to open them and there is far too much information. Anyone out there have a suggestion?

I've seen slices of black walnut shells made into jewelry. I suppose that would take lots of equipment. Well, it's a thought.

Still working on the book


I'm really a big picture person. I always grasp the overall ideas easily, letting the details float around in the air, often not finishing whatever I had started. So the idea of a tunnel book was no problem. The reality has become a huge challenge and I'm cursing all the way, but determined to do it. 

I began this fourth iteration by printing out all of the pieces, I thought.There are seven finished pages comprised of twenty separate pieces glued together. (I'll explain with pictures when I've finished the book.) Six sides have 24 separate pieces. My caveat when I said 'I thought' I had printed everything out was because I went back afterward and decided to change the last two sides. This is after figuring it all out (?) on the computer.

I drew a little diagram making decisions about how the pieces will be glued together and started to mark the pieces, but never finished because that was more detail than I could handle. Each of the 44 pieces, 6×9 or 6×6, had to be trimmed from the 8.5 x 11 card stock, maintaining tabs on the outer side pieces. Fortunately I have a new paper cutter; the old guillotine style would have been impossible, but even so, it took me most of a day. I try to do most of this in the morning; by evening I know I'll screw up.

In spite of my aching hands and tired legs (I prefer standing when I do this), I enjoyed the cutting. It made me think of my childhood when I loved cutout books. I never played with dolls, but I liked cutting out the dolls and clothes. I thought my inner child was dead, but maybe it was only comatose.

This morning I started glueing and am now taking a break while I wait for the glue to dry. I'll finish this story tomorrow or Saturday. That's as many details as I can handle in one post and it's lunch time.


I don't know how to express my sadness about what has happened in Japan. It's such a beautiful country–such terrible things shouldn't happen. Needless to say I've been thinking about it all weekend. I won't be going there this spring and I'm having a very hard time giving it up. I thought about delaying the trip, but I don't want to be there in summer. Maybe next spring. I keep thinking about all the things I needed to do and now don't have to think about. 

One of the gardens I wanted to see is in Ibaraki Prefecture, and may well be gone. I know the area was affected. But that's obviously the least of it. I will donate money to the Japan America foundation, but I wish there was something more I could do. 

Rain, rain go away

I didn't know whether to title this "Rain, rain" or "Groundhog is a liar." I keep thinking spring will come, and I'm sure it will, but it gives a little hint then produces an icy rain with snow in the forecast. I've made a new year's resolution. I know, it's a little late for new year's, but this is for next year: I will go south to warmth and sunshine for at least a week in the middle of next February. I have cousins in all the warm states. Next year, I'll find out who loves me enough to put up with me for a week.

I am taking part in a research study about cancer, Ashkenazie  Jewish women and the BRCA mutation that predisposes for breast and ovarian cancer. This is really easy. I just finished filling out the paperwork and when I finish this post I'll go spit in the tube and get the whole thing ready to return to the researchers. If you are interested in helping with cancer research, sign up for the Army of Women. (You don't have to be Jewish or to have had cancer.) There are many studies looking for subjects and this is a database sponsored by Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation and the Avon Foundation for Women. You will receive emails describing the research. If you qualify, you can sign up. I learned about this from cousin Barbara, and I'm happy to be able to help. Maybe they will find out something useful from me. Many of the members of my father's family died of cancer, but neither he nor I, so far, have had it. I spent most of my life waiting for it to come to me. It was almost a relief when I got my cardio-vascular problems. I know it won't keep me from getting cancer, but it's something else to think about (and, I think, an easier death).

I've been tracking the weather in Japan. Today doesn't look promising; it's colder than Pittsburgh and rainy. I wasn't planning to take a winter jacket–I hope I won't freeze. I had to wait a half hour for the bus today, and it's taken me several hours, a cup of tea, my space heater and turning up the heat in the house, to finally get comfortable. At least the buses run on time in Japan.

Term Paper, again

I finally finished revising the paper, using all those comments from my professor. It's much better than it was, although I don't think it's great. Anyhow, I'm finished. You can find it on my other website here, or download a pdf: Download Term paper 2.

On to better things. I'm still enjoying the music class. A different player from the Pittsburgh Symphony has visited us for each class, and it's been a wonderful experience. Unfortunately, Monday is the last one. I just hope they'll do it again soon.

The groundhog should be ashamed of himself. It snowed earlier this week and again today. I think next year I'll try to go away in February. It's really a bad month for me.

Sunday morning

After two gray, rainy days the sun shining today lured me out of the house even though it was quite cold. I walked to the health club, did my usual workout, then walked home. I usually carry a camera with me wherever I go, but, this morning, decided to travel light. Within the first block I was sorry. There were interesting leaves on the ground and when I got to Penn Ave. there was this signpost with the crocheted coat (photo taken weeks ago).

It's been changing a little over time. I meant to document it, but haven't. Today would have been a good day. Those pieces of tape are from a poster someone put up about a lost dog.The piece of white paper at the top is a bus schedule. The bus company never puts those where they might be useful, so this is real community service.

I've been told by a neighbor who is an art professor at CMU that this is the rage among artists (or students). Here is a similar installation I found in Kentucky.

I wish I had been present when they measured the post and then sewed it on.

One more picture to remind me of warmer days.


End of a great week

The book workshop was terrific. I made 8 books, 2 boxes and have 2 more projects to do. I was worried about the nine to four routine, but I made it through the week without missing a minute of it. Also got to cardio rehab at 7am, three mornings. I'll report on the workshop, with pictures, later. In forty minutes I'm leaving for Chicago and Door County. Have to load the car.

Back to the books

I'm sitting too much–too many classes. Took a long walk before class today: very helpful. Today was  Indian cinema, yes, Bollywood, Alice. We watched the last half of Dil Se (From the Heart), which we had begun last week. The hero, Shahnukh Kahn, was wonderful and sexy in a way that I don't feel about today's Hollywood heroes, so that was nice. But the film was very depressing, all about terrorists. Also, the class is three hours instead of the usual two, adding to my sittingitis.

On Sunday, I went to a book-making workshop where we made flag books and tunnel books. For a long time now, I've been thinking about making a tunnel book about the tunnel that goes under the convention center. Now I finally feel like I can do it. Here is the tunnel:

I need one more picture, which I'll try to get this weekend. Then I can make the book.

The flag book I made looks like this on the outside:

The teacher, Diane Maurer, brought all the papers so all of the basic books looked alike. Here is the inside of someone else's book. I didn't photograph mine.


I'm so turned on by the tunnel book I feel like I should skip all the classes and just make books. I'll make the tunnel book over the weekend, and I'm still working on the Japanese garden book. That may go on forever, especially since I'm thinking about going to see more gardens.