60

Sorry for the long break between posts! But my absence has been for good reason. Last week, my mother, the amazing calligrapher and bookmaker Elizabeth McKee, celebrated her sixtieth birthday. For those of you who know her, this may be very difficult to believe. She has barely a gray hair on her undyed head, does yoga every day, and, as a challenge to herself for this next year of her life she has embarked on an ambitious new project: to finish sixty handmade artists books before her sixty-second birthday.

In order to make the project a little more fun, she’s given herself some rules. She can’t buy any new paper for the project (giving her the added benefit of getting to clean out her studio), although she will accept gifts of paper from others. And every book has to work in the number sixty in some way (unless this gets too cute). As she finishes the books she’s going to be posting them to a new website she’s created for the project: www.60by62.moonfruit.com 

What does this all have to do with me not posting, you ask? Well, my brother Derek and I knew that sixty was an important birthday to her, so we decided to fly in on October 1st to surprise her. We spent about a month scheming with our father to set up the scenario. He picked us up from the airport and dropped us off at the restaurant where they were going to be having dinner, and we hid in a back room until they were settled down to eat. When we came out to wish her happy birthday my mother was truly stunned. In lieu of a party we also put together a book of memories, wishes and blessings from her friends and family around the world. She just couldn’t believe that so many people had taken the time to think about her.

The next day, Derek and my mother and I set off on a road trip up to Ottawa where she was leading a bookmaking workshop with the Calligraphy Society of Ottawa. So I got to spend about 24 hours in Ottawa, catching up with old friends and making a beautiful book myself before jumping on a plane to make it back to LA. It was an amazing trip, and an honor to get to be there to help my mother celebrate.

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