July-August 2015: Chicago-London (Ontario)-Niagra Falls-Boston-Maine-CT-NJ

Dear Family and Friends,

We are nearing the end of our sojourn in the USA, so here is a quick update. We stayed in Chicago until 17 July, living the last few weeks with Lilly and Nir. We exploited this time to finish the 1st draft of our text book, “Communicating Science” and send proposals to publishers. So far 3 have responded positively, and we are expecting their formal offers next week. And we toured quite a bit around Chicago (even buying ‘city passes’). Below are some photos in Chicago’s Garfield conservatory.




Edie also gave a bread baking seminar for Lilly and Smadar.


We visited Chicago’s Museum of Science and Technology, the Field Museum (Natural History -surprisingly interesting for collection on native Americans),  and took the elevator to the 103rd floor of the Sear’s Tower (see the view facing south on the left below). And we visited the Chicago Food Fest. Nir conducted us on tours of potential ‘flip properties’ in his current role as a real state mogul. Maybe the properties below on the right will be his next venture?



In the midst of this period Edie had a reunion in South Bend with a few of her colleagues who served together on the La Leche League Board of Directors in the 90’s. In the pic below they are still sober.


We also visited Ernest Hemingway’s boyhood home in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, a few minutes walk from the Wright home and studio which we visited last year. Below is the nearby Hemingway Museum,  situated in a former Christian Science church.


Finally on 27 July we said goodbye to Chicago, and headed East. We had a long lunchtime stop in Marshall, MI. The town is named after the Supreme Court Justice, and proposed itself to be the capital of Michigan – the proposal lost in the legislature by 1 vote, and the gubernatorial mansion built in anticipation of success was never used for this purpose. But the town has very nicely preserved its historic past without becoming kitchy, and proved to be a very pleasant stop. Below is the fountain in the entrance to the town.


We traversed Michigan, and crossed into Ontario, Canada, where we stopped at London to visit our friends Bill and Randy Fisher, who had several sabbatical leaves in Israel, and have an apartment in Herzliya.

From London we drove to Niagara Village for lunch, and then along the Niagara River to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, for some spectacular views. Only a few hundred meters from the falls is a very underpopulated natural reserve, which provided a pleasant retreat from the crowds.






IMG_8334 IMG_8323 IMG_8299 IMG_8297 IMG_8296  IMG_8282 IMG_8283          20150721_171703









We then drove to the Finger Lake region of New York State, for an overnight at a B&B, and the next day to Lenox MA for another overnight, and a string quartet concert at Tanglewood. The following day Ray visited his colleague Vadim Yakovlev and gave a seminar at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Then we drove into Boston, had dinner with another of Edie’s LLL colleagues, Judith and Jack Elder, and finally arrived in W. Roxbury to Mark and Roxanne Horenstein for a visit of a few days. We exploited our time in Boston to canoe with Mark and Roxanne on the Charles River, visit the Gardener Museum in Boston, and have a fantastic sesame waffle breakfast (prepared by Jim) with our friends Sara and Jim Feldman in Newton.

Then, it was on to Ogunquit on the Maine Coast, to visit Edie’s cousins, Charles,  Carol, and Lilly Fayerweather at their rented cabin in a lovely family style complex out of the 1950s. The cabin is sited on a tidal river, which separates them from a beach on the Atlantic coast. We enjoyed playing with their toys (kayaks and SUP’s), walking along the coast, and wading (at low tide) or swimming (at high tide) the tidal river to the beach. See the pics below:






From Maine we drove to Connecticut, first to Jim and Cynthia Vibert in Cheshire, near New Haven. Cynthia is a high school friend of Edie. Last year even though we were in the area for nearly 2 months, we didn’t have the chance to try famous New Haven Pizza — with Jim and Cynthia we rectified this deficiency, at an authentic joint in the Little Italy section.

We then drove to nearby Waterbury, to visit Edie’s cousins, Ernie and May Philips. Edie took Ray to visit the homes of Mark Twain and Emily Beecher Stowe in Hartford. Together with Hemingway in Chicago, this has proved to be quite a literary trip! And together with Ernie and May, we rode bikes along the northern portion of the Farmington Valley Rail Trail. Edie and Ray rode from Simsbury CT to Southwick MA and back. A year ago in New Haven we did most of the southern section of the travel. We’re leaving the remainder of the northern section, around Farmington for another trip.


From CT we drove to Ray’s sister Marlene in Sea Isle City, NJ. Typically we play tennis every morning at 0700, have a great brunch provided by Marlene, and spend the heat of the day in the library, where we are preparing this blog. The library is at the edge of the wetlands on the bay side of Sea Isle, and the 2nd floor veranda provides a nice view of Osprey perches and nests:


Late afternoon is usually time on the beach. Marlene’s friends Charley and Bob have shared dinner with us, and provide good stories and political debates. We all miss Don Selina, this was one of his favorite places and some of his (many) favorite people.

We look forward to a family visit in Ventnor on Sunday, and then a visit with Ray’s niece Gail on Monday, and finally our flight home from Philadelphia on Tuesday.  We’re looking forward to being home and hope for a year of minimal foreign travel.



Ray and Edie


Chicago, IL, USA May 2015

Hi Friends and Family,

We last communicated from Sydney, Australia, and much has happened since. On our way back home, we stopped in Xi’an, China, to present our scientific writing course once again at the Xi’an Jiatong University. While we try to limit the participants in these courses to 25, we had about 120 registrants! We managed by recruiting an assistant from the faculty, shortening the exercise, and only grading the exercises of the Ph.D. students.

We had hoped to bicycle the circumference of the ancient city walls (which are wide enough to accommodate a couple of buses, not to mention chariots). But both the inclement weather, and more so Edie’s knee, put a spoke in our wheels. Her knee began to act up after our hike up Avalanche Peak, near the end of our stay in Christchurch. At first, it was only a minor annoyance, and in Sydney she walked all over the city.  But in Xi’an she could hardly walk at all, and except for one very painful day, she didn’t come into the university, and stayed at our hotel correcting exercises. On our flights home via Beijing, we even ordered wheel-chair transport through the airports (which was especially needed in Xi’an and Beijing, where the airports are huge).

We had an all too brief  one-month ‘hofshat moledet’ (home leave) encompassing Pessach, which gave us the opportunity to become re-acquainted with our all too fast growing grand-children.  Edie received some diagnostics and treatment for her knee. And then we took off once again, for the final leg of Ray’s post-retirement sabbatical year, this time at the Materials Science and Engineering Department at Northwestern University, in Evanston IL, neighboring Chicago on the North. Besides all of the academic reasons for being here, the big bonus is that our daughter Lilly is a Ph.D. student at Northwestern, in fact in the building next to Ray’s.

We rented an apartment via Airbnb in Roger’s Park, Chicago’s most northerly neighborhood, which borders on Evanston, and about 5 min walk from Lilly and Nir’s apartment. We have erev Shabbat dinner together, generally at their apartment, and eat together one or two other nights a week, usually at our place, and schedules and work/study pressure permitting, try to do something together on the weekends.

The first weekend we drove up to Ft. Sheridan, about 30 min N. of Roger’s Park. Once a garrison and training base, the fort was decommissioned and converted into a suburban town some years ago. Much of the training area bordering Lake Michigan has been preserved as a nature reserve – see the photos of birdies (red winged blackbirds) and frogies in the photos below:



Ray has been enjoying the contact with colleagues and many interesting seminars at Northwestern University. The administrative bureaucracy has been less enjoyable.  The final straw was that we had to produce a copy of our marriage license to get Edie a spouse id card. After completing the procedure, the clerk said to Edie, “have a nice day, miss”.

We have both been working on our book on scientific writing – hope to finish the 1st draft this week. Edie’s knee is treated by a traditional Chinese doctor, and she swims and participates in water exercises 3 times a week at the NU pool. Ray bikes to NU when the weather is nice, and otherwise rides in with Edie, or takes the “L”. And we have found two Israeli folk dance groups in nearby Skokie, which we enjoy greatly. Furthermore there are public tennis courts in a park alongside Lake Michigan, 5 min walk from our apartment. We have also enjoyed biking along the lakeshore bike path heading towards down town. All of this indicates that Edie’s knee is a lot better, albeit not yet fully recovered.

We have also had some pleasant social and cultural experiences. We visited one Chicago synagogue for kabbalat Shabbat, and a suburban synagogue for an all-night tikun Shavuot. Our absent land-lady is an actress and playwright – we watched an energetic performance of a play she wrote which was an adaptation of Antigone to modern Chicago (which has ~ 500 murders  per year). And we visited the Chicago History Museum, and today the Chinese American Museum of Chicago.

We will be in Chicago more or less until 17 July, and in that period have plans for a week in San Diego to attend the microwave power symposium which Ray is chairing, a 4th of July weekend trip to a cabin in Michigan with Nir and Lilly, hopefully a visit to our cousins in Kansas City, and giving the writing course here at NU. Then we will drive to the East Coast for some visiting in MA, CT and NJ, before flying home via Philadelphia on 11 Aug.

Best wishes for a pleasant summer!

Ray and Edie

Sydney, Australia 15-22 March 2015

This past week we have been visiting in Sydney, NSW, Australia. Our report is short – no attached files. Ray visited the School of Physics at Sydney University, where he spent a mini-sabbatical August-November 2013. During the week he had very lively scientific discussions with his colleagues Marcella Bilek and his host David McKenzie and their students, presented a seminar on his group’s research at TAU, and worked long-distance on organizing the program for a conference on microwave power to be held in San Diego (USA) in June.

Edie sight-see’d, heard a great organ concert at Sydney Town Hall, bought fish at the fish market, and mostly worked on our book on communicating science and technology.

We had a very active social life. Almost as soon as we were settled in last Sunday, John and Tamara Lowbier, friends from Beit Millman, the hostel for new immigrants where we initially lived in Israel, picked us up and took us to the Sydney Jewish Museum for lunch, and an interesting lecture by a holocaust survivor. Monday night we had off, and enjoyed cooking and eating the fish which Edie landed at the fish market. Tuesday we had dinner with Uwe and Ines, friends we met touring Ayer’s Rock in the “outback” on our first trip to Australia. We ate at a picturesque ‘hotel’ in Newtown, with original ceramic tiles and great food. Wednesday we rejoined Frances’ Israeli dance class, and caught up with our dancing friends there. See at clip of dancing with Frances on our YouTube site – http://youtu.be/m-EbkOVOFzQ

Thursday evening we travelled out to Kingsgrove to Margaret’s Irish dance class. Her group was rehearsing for a performance in two weeks at the Australian National Folk Festival — I am in the process of uploading a few clips to YouTube — in the meantime see:




Friday evening we attended Erev Shabbat services at the Newtown Synagogue, one block from our apartment. We visited there a year ago, and they were short of a minyan. This year there was a minyan and a half and a lively new spirit, perhaps bolstered by the Shabbat meal which was offered after shul. We skipped that meal, and met a physics colleague, Ian Falconer and his wife Ruth, for dinner at an excellent Thai restaurant (one of many!) in Newtown. Saturday we had a stroll in the “Rocks”, one of Sydney’s oldest settlements, and then joined Macella Bilek and her husband Andrew (also a professor at U. Sydney) and their children at the Sydney Aquarium. This was “plan B”, invoked because the inclement weather suggested that a harbor hike might be unpleasant.

And now, after a dinner of Australian lamb sausages, we are packing for our flights tomorrow noon to Shanghai and Xian. Hopefully we will send a short report from there!