My niece Jen and her one-year-old daughter, who I lovingly call “Toots,” flew in from Florida yesterday. My sister Bev and her family are coming by train from Michigan later this morning. My sister Marilee is flying in from Florida tomorrow, my brother Doug and his daughter Marsha are driving in from Louisville Friday afternoon, and Marsha’s husband and son will drive in from Indianapolis Friday evening.
What’s all the fuss about? Our nephew Brian Miller is in town from Japan!
Now get out your world globe. You’re going to need it to follow Brian’s adventures since graduating from college. After returning from his first trip abroad to Egypt, Brian turned right around and went back to the Middle East for a semester of intensive Arabic in Jordan. Next stop, a study program in Kuwait with the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations. From there he took side trips through Syria and Turkey.
And then he moved to South Korea. Brian spent six years in Jeju (a beautiful Korean island on the East China Sea) teaching English to kids and honing his photography skills. After The Village across the Sea, Brian’s first book of photography, was published in 2010, Brian moved to Japan.
He lives in Mie, Japan now, teaching English to adults while pursuing his work photographing the long-traditional female divers of Asia. He’s been published on the National Geographic website twice, once in 2011 for his photo Haenyeo with Octopus and again for Portrait of an Ama in 2013.
Brian grew up describing things visually for his ol’ Aunt Betha (he was only four when I lost my sight) and has a knack for explaining his photos in words. His oreum photo, for example. The word “oreum” is Korean dialect for the island’s parasitic volcanic cones. “Basically, they’re mini-volcanoes,” Brian told me. During breaks from teaching, he’s taken vacations in Japan, and in Cambodia, and in Thailand, and in Vietnam, and in Hong Kong. When Minke (that’s what my mom’s grandchildren call her) died last year she left some money for each of her grandchildren. Brian decided to use his to come home and see his family. Flo’s legacy lives on. She’d be pleased, and we sure are – it’s been a long time since we’ve had Brian here with us!
Brian spent the early part of this week with his parents and his sister’s family in Michigan, and when they all get off the train at Union Station in Chicago today they’re heading directly to Wrigley Field to see the Cubs play the Milwaukee Brewers– Brian is a big Cubs fan. After the Cubs game, they’re heading directly to Soldier Field for a pre-season game there –Brian is a big Bears fan. Tomorrow Brian and his mom are heading to Sox Park to sit in a skybox and watch the Cubs play the White Sox (did I tell you he’s a Cubs fan?!). Mike and I will treat everyone to some of our favorite South Loop food –Pat’s Pizza and Harold’s Fried Chicken – and we’ll all listen and dance to the Fat Babies at SummerDance in Grant Park.
Saturday’s a pool party at a cousin’s house in the suburbs, and I’ll be with Brian’s six-year-old nephew Bryce on Sunday while my husband Mike Knezovich the lonely White Sox fan joins Brian and a group of other Cub-fan-family members to see the White Sox play the Cubs at White Sox Park.
Brian and the Michiganders will head for the train home after Sunday’s baseball game, and Monday Brian takes off from Grand Rapids back to Japan. Whew! Whirlwind schedule, I know. Kind of mimics Brian’s life, I guess – he is a whirlwind!