This year has had its predictable complement of professional trips. I haven't figured out yet how to say no to the conferences that I enjoy along with the visits to new and familiar places. Over the past couple years (no, I didn't get a letter or cards out a year ago), I have been to Milwaukee, Las Vegas, Washington, Chicago, Pasadena, Seattle, and Providence as well as New York City for conferences. Milwaukee was new and it was great to see it: the Calatrava wing of the museum overlooking Lake Michigan and lots of great buildings in the downtown area near the historic Pfister Hotel where the VRA conference was held. I actually missed ALA in Chicago last January, the first since 1979, because I was having some Mohs surgery done on a sun spot. I've also discovered that I really enjoy trips to Buffalo, about two hours away by car. There's a great bookshop (Talking Leaves, with two branches) and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, among other destinations.
Alfred is definitely light on bookstores. The AU campus store, a Barnes & Noble outlet, has limited books though they will special order items. They were just remodeled and the book area shrank. While I dream sometimes of opening a bookshop, perhaps with my brother Doug, I know I'm not a businessman. I try to convince Talking Leaves to open a branch in Alfred. They're not biting.
There have also plenty of car trips around the Northeast, some for professional meetings and plenty for the kick of it. I have been to Boston to see Bill at Christmas time for the past several years and may do it again. And then I sometimes go on up to Maine to see Christie and/or stop on the way East at my sister Roberta's near Albany. The VRA chapter met at Penn State in the summer and I took the blue highways straight South rather than the four-lane down from Corning.
Christie and I had been talking about a Sicily trip for years and we finally made it in March 2013. We flew to Palermo and had a car for about three weeks to drive around the island. It was magnificent. The landscape, both physical and social, was just delightful. We had lots of good seafood in coastal places as well as heartier stuff inland. There are tons of pictures on my Flickr photostream and blog entries. We found the people enjoyable and helpful. I wrote a number of tributes on my shermaniablog as well as a blog as we traveled.
This fall, I went to Belgium for a couple weeks. I was based most of the time in Ghent but took the train for day trips to Bruges, Antwerp, Brussels, and Ostend. It was always six euros for a senior round trip. The Netherlandish primitive painters (15th-16th century) just move me so much. And I very much enjoy the architecture and walking around the cities. Lots of great art nouveau and early 20th-century modernism, and an interesting show on art and autism in Ghent. I did take the fast train from Brussels to Amsterdam to see Geurt who couldn't make it down to Belgium. The proximity and the possibility of doing a day trip to Amsterdam was just wonderful.
It was glorious to live in NYC with airports that provided access to anywhere in the world without much trouble. I mostly travel out of Rochester and it usually means at least one stop before your destination stop. I've managed as I manage generally in Alfred.
Regular Alfred activities include a peace vigil on Wednesday, a lecture series on Thursday at noon (love that liberal arts college character of Alfred University), and I have been going to the Seventh-Day Baptist Church where my dad was the preacher in the 1960s. It's a small congregation and we all accept each other, quirks and all. There are plenty of artist talks and other things around the campuses. There are two colleges in Alfred: the university and Alfred State College (formerly just two-year technical programs but now expanded with plenty of bachelor's programs including architecture). I do miss my visits to Carnegie Hall and Miller Theater at Columbia for classical music so I got a NY Philharmonic ticket (Hilary Hahn and Beethoven's Seventh) for my Thanksgiving visit last month. And at the moment, Frederica von Stade is singing French songs just for me (on the stereo).
I haven't been to the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard for a cataloging trip for quite a while. It's been several months since I had any MoMA artist books to catalog. But the indexing for the Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals continues apace and most enjoyably.
Social media sometimes gets a bad rap as a time-stealer and carnival but I think that it makes it possible for me to survive in Alfred, far from many of my professional friends though I am closer to some family members. This letter summarizes the activities of the past couple years. Fuller versions of some of the adventures can be found on my blogs with pictures on Flickr (linked from my miscellany page at link below). I always am working on some book and use GoodReads to keep track of them. Yes, I know it doesn't replace seeing and talking to you in person.
With that thought, I wish you all very warm wishes for a good holiday season and new year. It would be great to see you but this sharing of cards and news will have to do for this moment.