The libraries are open again! One of the many reasons we bought this house was its proximity to the lovely, tiny, Belmont Library. Built in 1924, this building is way to small to serve the current neighborhood, but I love it anyway. And I have missed it.
So, looking for a mystery to read and learn more about how to write a mystery, I headed off. Masks are required and folks were polite about keeping their distance.
Since this library has limited shelf space, if I want a particular book, I go online and ask that it be sent over from one of the larger libraries. But for this trip, I was willing to take potluck.
And while I hunted, I got to enjoy being in a building full of people who love books. Very nice.
I ended up borrowing three books: an English classic that I have never read, a collection of new short stories, and a murder mystery. I feel like I’m off for an adventure!
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!
You remember our house in Salinas. We had a whole room for books…three walls of seven foot high bookcases. Plus books in the family room, living room, guest bedroom, and Auntie Bridgett’s office downtown.
We don’t have that much space here.
The rooms in our new house are bright and friendly, but a bit smaller than before…so, less room for books. We gave away tons before we left town, to friends, students, The Salvation Army, but there were still too many.
Our new house is a short walk from the lovely Belmont library and within fifteen minutes of Powell’s City of books. That sort of availability makes living with less easier. But sometimes a person just needs to pick up The Moon is a Harsh Mistress to read before bed, you know? So we kept Steinbeck, Twain, Heinlein, Asimov, Schultz, Shakespeare, and a fair–sized avalanche of art books.
It turns out that the local library, the tiny free libraries, and Powell’s are part of a larger book ecology, a circle of life for books. These places also accept books! Yesterday we carried bags and bags of books to the Powell’s on Hawthorne, and they bought quite a few of them, giving us $39 in gift certificates! Bonus: What they didn’t want, the library accepted, and gave us a receipt for our taxes.
Win. Win. Win. Circle of life. Buy a book, sell it back, buy it again, give it away…
Friday was a day where nothing much was planned, but things just kept happening. In the morning, Auntie Bridgett and I took the giant pile of books we had borrowed and walked them back to the library. My research into Portland history has me visiting the library a lot. So we packed up my eight books and Auntie Bridgett’s three, and walked to the Belmont Library on Cesar Chavez and Taylor.
Cesar Chavez is a main north/south road, and very noisy, so we walked through the neighborhood. It was a good day for cats, bright new paint jobs on houses, and seed pods. A very satisfactory stroll.
Library books returned, we headed south to the UPS Store and bank on Hawthorne. We were hungry, and headed further east on Hawthorne to The Whole Bowl. This little restaurant started as a food cart and made enough money to get a real building. They only serve one thing, in two sizes: a big bowl, and a bambino bowl. The bowl has two kinds of beans, cheese, sour cream, cilantro, avocado, and a garlicky lemony sauce . It is so wonderfully good you just keep eating! We shared a big bowl and a bottle of kombucha, a fermented tea drink, and we were ready to continue our walk.
As we walked back toward the library, we found St. Patrick’s Church, a big Catholic Church we hadn’t seen before. It was beautiful and bright on the outside, but seemed dark inside, either because the windows were too small, or our eyes were used to the bright. We didn’t stay, but we will remember where it is so we can tell Bridgett’s mom when she visits.
Back at the Belmont Library, I hunted for some books on World War I, because my story will have some things that happen in 1918. The story doesn’t happen IN the war, but DURING the war. So I need to know…what were kids doing to help? What foods were rationed? What did people use instead? I need details! So, I read. I checked out three new books and we headed home.
After Auntie Bridgett and I got home (after walking over 4 miles!), she went down to draw in The Art Bunker, as she calls our basement, and I read…and napped. I read some more, and then it was dinner time. We read some more until the NEXT thing.
We had tickets for the Northwest Animation Festival at the Hollywood Theater up on Sandy. We stopped at the Moon and Sixpence Pub for a beer and cider before the show. There were people playing darts, but no noisy football games on TV, so we were happy.
The Hollywood Theater is a classic old movie theater from the 1940’s and is very elegant. It was really crowded, though, so I didn’t take pictures inside.
The Animation film festival really happened in May, when a lot more films were shown. The ones we saw were voted the BEST. The films were short, from 2 to 16 minutes long, but were really interesting. Some, like “Life Inside ‘Islamic State'” were very sad. Others, like “Birdlime” and “Spring Jam”, were happy and sweet, about birds and the sounds they make. Others, like “Resistance”, which had giant bugs drinking champagne, were really creepy. The variety of styles of animation and countries they came from (The United States, Canada, England, Israel, Poland, France, New Zealand, and Germany) was delightful.
We got home really late (almost midnight!) and pretty much collapsed into bed, with our heads full of weird images from the festival.