Street Fairs are back and not without a sense of Portland irony.
We have had two deadly heat waves this summer, so of course it rained on the day of the Hawthorne Street Fair.
Not wanting to find the place overcrowded in these Delta-variant times, we walked down early. In fact, some vendors weren’t even set up yet. But we wore our masks (as did a lot of folks) and got some books and yarn from Backstory Books’ sidewalk sale. We stepped into the Gold Leaf & Alter art gallery and got to see their offerings while visiting with jeweler Judy Goldblatt.
There were groups making music….
As the rain came (sometimes in buckets!) and went, we walked the street, talked with folks, and remembered the many reasons we love Portland.
A delicious “Ethiopian taco” (actually injera, a flatbread, served with a spicy chicken curry) from “Spice of Africa” was our lunch. We ate it under the shelter of an out of service bus stop during the heaviest of the rain.
Grandpa Nelson was the first customer of the day for Two Wahine’s Shave Ice. We signed political petitions and talked with folks about their dogs.
Even the Multnomah County Health Services got into the act, giving vaccinations right across the street from the Bread and Ink Cafe.
We were back home, changing out of wet socks, before the crowds kicked in. It was a wonderful, perfectly Portland day.
You know how much I love books. The hardest things we gave away when we were moving were all those old friends between covers. But now I can see all my old friends and even make new ones: There are two new bookshops in the neighborhood!
I’ve mentioned Backstory Books and Yarn, on Hawthorne. This is a bookshop which has recently changed hands and re-opened. The former owner is in her 80s and has retired, selling the shop to Amanda, the new owner. The former owner still lives in the house in back of the shop, though. It must be rewarding to see the business she built with her late husband continue to grow and thrive.
I hope she can make it happen, since she is just a few blocks away from Powell’s Books on Hawthorne, which is a branch of the bigger Powell’s store downtown and very strong competition.
Closer to our house is Belmont Books, on Belmont Street, which is so new it doesn’t even have a sign yet. We visited the other day and met Joe, the proprietor, and Mitch, his friend and fellow book-scout. Belmont Books is smaller than Backstory, but the stock is very well-chosen. We chatted with Joe about his process of collecting books, and he mentioned the Belmont library “Friends of the Library” book sale, which sounds like something I will need to look for.
Both these bookshops are independent, which means they aren’t part of any bigger company. They are run BY people who love books, FOR people who love books. You know, people like me!
Last Friday I got to help Auntie Katie get her basement decorated so she can start using it as an Air Bed and Breakfast. It has nice new paint and furniture, but the walls are bare. So her friends Murray and Lurline, their tiny daughter Mary Helen and I, matted art, hammered nails and made funny faces (that was Mary Helen). We made good progress.
Then, because it was First Friday, we went to visit Auntie Bridgett at the SideStreet Arts Gallery. Bridgett’s art looks so good! I love her collages. Since she was busy hosting the First Friday event, Grandpa Nelson and I went over to Ankeny Tap and Table for dinner. The colder weather means they have their big glass door closed, but it is still friendly and has very tasty food! Their new menu has a beet salad that tastes very indulgent.
This morning, Auntie Bridgett was working at the gallery, so Grandpa and I walked down to Bread and Ink on Hawthorne Street for brunch. Weekend Brunch is a very big thing here in Portland, but there was only a short wait and the food was fabulous. Huckleberry pancakes, Kentucky sausage and fried eggs…all made me miss Great Grandpa Lowell, who cooked this on Sundays for years. Food, conversation, and nostalgia…who could ask for more?
After brunch we walked by a brand new used bookstore, also on Hawthorne. It is called Backstory Books and Yarn and just opened today! It has that delightful smell of used books and is so well organized. I’m sure we will spend many happy hours there.
The rest of today I will be researching Portland history and sewing on a practice quilt.