Lucy Knisley Tells Her Stories

Dear Liza,

I got an order of books delivered to my doorstep from Auntie Katie’s shop, Books with Pictures! In it was the latest by my favorite graphic novelist, Lucy Knisley. Lucy is a 35 year old artist, writer, and musician who lives in Chicago. She is talented, funny, and (sometimes painfully) honest. I am accumulating quite a collection!

“French Milk” is an autobiographical story of her trip to Paris with her parents when she graduated college. She loves that city of light, museums and food as much as I do, so I knew we had a lot in common. Her stories are amusing because people are funny, but not forcibly FUNNY.

The next book I fell in love with was “Relish”, about cooking and her love of food. Again, cooking, food…there is a theme here.

Last year I found “Kid Gloves”, about her difficulties getting pregnant and giving birth. It was so real and heartfelt that some of it actually hurt to read, but was at the same time so real and joyous that it was worth the pain (sort of like the birthing process itself).

And now, I have “Go to Sleep (I Miss You)”, about her first year with the new baby, whom she calls Pal. Again, her truth matches mine. I laughed out loud and cringed along with her discovery of needle-sharp nursing baby teeth and the self-losing love of new mothers for their babies.

From Go to Sleep (I Miss You)

Lucy makes the humanity of new motherhood real and sweet, while not minimizing the very real stinkyness or discomfort. I can’t recommend her books highly enough, especially to those folks interested in Paris, food, and new motherhood, respectively.

All this quiet time inside has reminded me how much I enjoy reading! And now that our weather is warming up a bit, the balcony can become my new den.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Auntie Katie's Finding a Way

Dear Liza,

You know that Auntie Katie has a bookshop called Books with Pictures. She sells comic books, graphic novels, illustrated histories and biographies, and all sorts of wonderful stories. Her store is at 1401 SE Division Street here in Portland and has been doing very well.

But how can you sell books when people can’t come into your store because of the corona virus shutdown? It isn’t easy, surely, but Katie is finding all sorts of ways.

She has set up a Personal Shopping page on her website (BookswithPictures.com) so people can tell her who they are shopping for, what topics they like, and how much they want to spend. Katie knows her books so well, she can match any reader with something they will like.

Before the shut down…

She has set up subscriptions so that people can get their favorite newly-released comics every month, or Katie herself will choose books like the ones customers have enjoyed in the past.

Delivering for the people!

She is doing curbside pick-up of these books, so that while you are out getting groceries, you can let her know you are on the way and she’ll have the books ready for you with proper social distancing protocols.

Katie is even doing deliveries! She is driving all over town in the evenings, dropping off books on people’s doorsteps like a literary Santa Claus.

I have always been proud of your Auntie Katie. She makes brave choices and works hard to make them work. She values her community and they, in turn, value her. If anyone can make this work, she can.

Working hard!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Cousins in Town

Dear Liza,

Cousins Paul and Candace

Well, it sure has been a holiday full of family!

This past weekend, after Auntie Christy and Cousin Kyle left for home, we got a call from Grandpa Nelson’s Cousin Paul and his wife, Candace. They were in town to visit friends, and wanted to meet us for a Portland breakfast and see Auntie Katie’s bookshop, Books with Pictures.

Me, Auntie Katie, Grandpa Nelson, and Paul in the shop

We met them at Pine State Biscuits down on Division Street, just a few blocks from Auntie Katie’s place. I’ve eaten their biscuits before, with jam, and wanted to try their gravy, as well. They were delicious!

I was so busy eating that I forgot to take pictures.

Auntie Katie came by to eat with us and catch up on family news before heading off to open the shop at 10:00. We followed along, and spent a fun hour looking at books and visiting on the comfy couch in the shop.

When we had talked ourselves out, they headed off and we headed for home. What a lovely morning.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Big Changes This Year

Dear Liza,

I have spent way too long looking at pictures from this year, and am using this letter to you to put things in perspective.

We started the year with snow.

Chilly Gnome

Auntie Katie, the Cousins and I walked to Slappy Cakes to celebrate her birthday, getting all bundled up against the February cold.

Birthday girl and Kestrel at Slappy Cakes

Just about a week later, we were celebrating Katie’s purchase of the building that would be the new home of Books With Pictures, her bookshop.

Meeting the new shop in February…
Less than 11 months later, in full retail mode for Christmas!

The building would also be the family’s new home, and they started off with celebrations, knowing there would be lots of work to do.

and the new home!

Before the summer was over, the Cousins were moved in and making the place into a home.

Cousin Kestrel’s art corner

Another change this year is in the health of my dear Aunt Bea. At Easter, we visited her in a hospital in Corvallis. She was recovering from a fall and feeling very… old.

Aunt Bea, a bit worn down

But by the time we visited her in September, she had moved to Bend and had been reunited with her dear Kitty Cat, and was feeling all spunky and fun again. Momma always said, “Bea doesn’t leave a party…she takes the party with her.”

Me and Bea, feeling like getting into mischief

I will tell you more about the year tomorrow, as I continue getting ready for the New Year!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Books with Pictures Update

Dear Liza,

Books with Pictures

I have told you about Auntie Katie’s store, Books with Pictures, down on Division Street here in Portland. After thriving in a rented space at 12th and Division for three years, her new shop opened this past July 6th, after a huge building renovation and a community assisted, bike-centric moving day. It was a lot of work!

It’s a big job!

Katie was able to buy the 1927 building with the help of investors, and paid for the move and repairs with a Kickstarter campaign. As with all Kickstarters, she posted it on Facebook.

Auntie Katie stepping up and learning new skills

She offered different rewards for different levels of pledges, and raised more than she asked for! And yesterday, the pledge rewards arrived. The shop is full of them! Art prints, t-shirts, tote bags and other goodies are in boxes, waiting for Katie’s supporters. Many local fans will come by and pick the goodies up. Those destined for folks from out of town will be mailed.

I am so proud of Auntie Katie. She has taken her wild dream of owning and running an inclusive, community supporting bookshop, and made it happen. When lack of money got in the way, she figured out how to get it. When too much work was the obstacle, she worked harder. She learned about plumbing, electricity, and woodworking. She hired skilled friends and worked with them.

It takes a crew!

And all this while raising Cousins Jasper and Kestrel to be kind, confident, and well-read kids.

My Kickstarter reward

Word has spread that Books with Pictures is THE place to go for comics, graphic novels, and illustrated books. When I am out and about in town and I mention Books with Pictures, people know it and love it. “Katie’s your daughter?” They say. “She’s wonderful!”

I agree.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Back to OMSI

Dear Liza,

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Steam engine running amuk

One way you can tell a really good Museum is when you can go several times in just a few months and keep seeing new things. Today I took cousins Jasper and Kestrel to OMSI, and I had so much fun! I picked the kids up at Books with Pictures and we hopped on the Orange Line train.

This huge locomotive was venting steam into the chilly air. The cloud was enormous! But what caught our eye was this fellow standing in the middle of the cloud of steam, apparently keeping an eye on things up there.

We got tickets for the regular Oregon Museum of Science and Industry and the King Tut exhibit, too. I had seen King Tut at the museum’s Halloween gala, but it’s always fun seeing things with kidlets…you see things through their eyes, and everything looks different.

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Watching the reveal of the tomb

For example, cousin Jasper was very taken with how Mr. Carter must have felt when he discovered the undisturbed tomb, and how exciting it is to discover new things. He was also pleased to actually see things that he had only read about.

I know I have told you before how much Jasper doesn’t like posing for pictures, so you will forgive me for having mostly Kestrel photos. Both kids were fascinated, listening to the commentary on the audio guides and staring at the artifacts. Kestrel was intrigued by the sarcophagus but hurried by the replica of King Tut’s actual mummy, but I can’t blame her. He’s been dead over 3,500 years and doesn’t look very well.IMG_2252.jpeg

After we had looked, listened and read everything and were headed down for lunch, we saw a new thing which held our attention for another hour: The World of Animation. This well designed, hands on, kid friendly exhibit allows kids (and their lucky adults) to create stop motion animation, make sound effects for cartoons, and act in short movies of their own. It was wonderful!

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Concentration

By the time we were done, I was really ready for some lunch. I pried the kids away and we went downstairs to Theory, the museum’s cafe, for pizza on the terrace. It was chilly but not yet raining, and we had coats, so we enjoyed the fresh air. The terrace faces the Tilikum, Marquam, and Hawthorne Bridges as well as the beautiful Willamette, so we had a great view as we nibbled.

By then, it was two o’clock and we needed to leave by three, so I gave the kids one hour in the big Hall. There are so many hands on activities, I never want to leave. Kestrel launched a water rocket which flew straight up to the ceiling of the huge room and Jasper spent his time figuring out some Tangram style puzzles and playing with the orbit table.

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Making things happen

On our way out of the museum, we stopped by a room where some amazing gingerbread creations were on display. A talented group of artists had made funny gingerbread art, using the King Tut exhibit as inspiration. Some had Minions, some had mice, and they were all beautiful, silly, and edible!

Sphinx cat catching some mice

Finally, I had to pull the plug on the day so we could get home before we all melted down. We read comic books borrowed from Auntie Katie’s shop at the train stop and got back to Books with Pictures just as the rain started.

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Art at Books with Pictures

By the time I got myself home, it was raining for real and I was wet and cold, having forgotten my Indiana Jones hat at home. Oh well, hot tea and dinner put me right again.

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

Another Kidlet Evening

Dear Liza,

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Fierce Jasper Ninja

Happy Halloween again!!

I loved living in Salinas because I got to spend time with you, and, not surprisingly, one of the best parts about Portland is being able to see the Cousins as often as I want.

Last night I gathered chicken and Brussels Sprouts for dinner, Jasper’s costume, cookies to decorate AND the frosting, and walked down to Ladd’s Addition. The rain had stopped and I had a nice sun-in-my-eyes walk through wet neighborhoods and bright leaves.

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Naked Cookies

I laid out the cookies and colored the frosting, then got dinner started. Things were well underway when Auntie Katie, Jasper and Kestrel got home from Books with Pictures and Abernethy Elementary School. Everyone picked a cookie and started in, being careful and artful in their work. Auntie Katie’s witch cookie cracked me up, and Kestrel’s appreciation of the phases of the moon was lovely to see.

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Self-Portrait? I think not!

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Tasty Astronomy

Once we had eaten dinner and finished decorating (and eating!) the cookies, it was time to try on costumes. Jasper seemed very happy with his Stealth Ninja, and the costume wasn’t nearly as too-big as I had expected. He is growing so fast! He looked very fierce.

Kestrel’s costume for Halloween is a pirate, and she has it all together except the eye patch.

As the evening wound down, I texted Grandpa Nelson to come fetch me, and got home in time to watch a scary 1935 movie, Mad Love, starring Peter Lorre in his first American movie. He was so creepy!

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

 

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End of the Evening…