On Sunday Grandpa Nelson and I went downtown for the Gay Pride Parade and celebration. The streets full of happy people!
We didn’t see the beginning of the parade, but got there in time to see the women’s rugby team, some proud parents, and support groups for kids and trans people, and lots of rainbows.
The weather was drippy, but spirits were light.
There was a long, long line to get into the part of the Fair where the booths were, but we got to chat with some nice folks and watch the parade go by.
The downside of all the drippy weather was the muddy ground . Two solid weeks of carnival events (first the Rose Festival, then Pride) on the same patch of grassy ground had lead to mud, mud, and more mud. It was epic. It was deep. And I managed, somehow, to not land on my face.
Finally, we found what we were looking for: Auntie Katie’s Books with Pictures booth! She was doing an absolute ton of business and only had time for a quick Father’s Day hug, but it was worth it.
As we left, I caught this accidental shot of perfectly dressed folks passing the street sign at the corner of 1st Avenue and Harvey Milk Street. Harvey Milk was the first out, gay person elected to office in California and was shot in 1978, along with San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, by a fellow City Supervisor who didn’t like gay people. To help remember his sacrifice, a 13 block stretch of SW Stark here in Portland has been re-named for him.
A few weeks ago, Auntie Katie and her strong, clever friends got together and got the garden at Books with Pictures planted.
There were donated plants that people transplanted from their own property, as well as plants bought from local nurseries. They made sure to get plants that will grow un and do well without a lot of taking care of.
There are other things installed, as well. A small stage has been built for performances, and the beginning of a stout fence to make it feel more enclosed. There is also a cool slab cut from a big tree to use as a seat.
With such a great team, everything is coming together.
I look forward to spending some pleasant afternoons in this little piece of paradise.
I wanted to take today to acknowledge the Moms in the family.
This is my Momma. She lived for her family and her garden and had lots of adventures with my Dad; camping, traveling, helping people, and making friends. After Daddy passed, she continued her adventures for another 15 years.
Here is your Auntie Katie. She has had adventures in Europe, New York, at Burning Man, and here in Portland. She got to be a Momma herself and then opened her incredible book shop, Books with Pictures. She has built her life, and her community, as a place where everyone is welcome. She amazes me every day.
Here is your Momma, Olga. She started her adventures in Moscow, Russia, where she studied hard and became a doctor. She moved to the United States, then to California, and met your Daddy David. After tango-ing together they fell in love, got married, and had YOU. She continues her adventures as a fabulous teacher while getting ready for whatever-happens-next.
And then there is me. The oldest female in the family, Teddy Bear Picniker , and ready for the next adventure.
The work has continued on the garden behind auntie Katie’s bookstore, Books with Pictures. I showed you before how the planting areas were filled with rich topsoil to create low berms and beds.
On a recent Saturday, eight women and girls aged 14 to 66 (and one helpful male teenager) worked for three hours creating the surfaces of the new garden just behind Books with Pictures. There were two tampers, which are heavy tools for flattening and compacting soil, and they were in constant use. First, the original soil was raked and tamped to make it solid and even. Plastic edging was laid in and staked down.
Then interlocking gravel was wheelbarrowed in to place, raked flat, and tamped down (twice) to make sure it was perfect.
Auntie Katie, who is injured and cannot work, was in charge of quality control and keeping us all fed. She did a fine job!
Finally, pea gravel, which will be pleasant to walk on, was wheeled and raked and tamped in place.
The walkway in the garden was extended beyond the space to the parkway, which makes for a nice entry from the street through the big wonky gateway.
Auntie Katie’s bookshop, Books with Pictures, is getting a new garden! This triangular patch of land just behind the store has been overgrown for years and is now planned as a space for meetings, music, or just sitting.
Last summer, some designers came and built a wonderfully wonky and stout gateway for the space.
A few weeks ago, a friend with a backhoe came and tore all the overgrown plants out. He came back and scraped six inches of rocky topsoil off.
And Sunday, the new topsoil got put into place. This isn’t the sort of work for a backhoe, however. This is delicate, manual labor. Fortunately, Auntie Katie has a lot of strong friends.
Grandpa Nelson, Auntie Bridgett and I walked down and met up with Douglas, Marion and Moss, Ken and Hillary, Chelsea and Katie to put the soil where it belongs. It was exhausting and took a lot of shovels, but working together is always fun, and the garden-to-be is one step closer to being fabulous.
Auntie Katie has injured her shoulder and wisely supervised rather than shoveled. She and Hillary are great bosses!
The plants will be delivered in a few weeks and there will be another work party! Hooray!
This weekend Auntie Bridgett and I walked down to Auntie Katie’s bookshop, BookswithPictures. Her shop was full of happy, comic-loving, mask-wearing people!
We got to find some books by artists and authors we knew and see the new decor.
We had gone to visit for her a reason, though.
The lovely mural on the side of her store got tagged with graffiti last weekend. Auntie Bridgett wanted to see if she could help repair it.
There are several reasons this is going to be difficult. The mural was painted way back in 1997, so the paint has faded and will be very hard to match. People in the neighborhood LOVE it, so you want to do a really good job. Also, the surface of the wall has cracked in a few places and needs to be mended. More immediately, our weather is predicted to be too wet and cold to paint for the next two weeks.
After Katie and Bridgett figured out what the next steps will be, we headed home. As we walked past the back of the shop, we noticed the new shed Katie has had installed to hold the supplies for the new food trucks, which are hopefully coming in spring.
It was a great visit, and we had a nice piece of carrot cake and cup of tea at Palio, right in the Ladd’s Addition, before catching the number 14 home.
This past weekend Portland hosted, among many other things, The Rose City Comic Con. This is a convention for people who love comic books and the characters who` live in them. I’m sure thousands of people went. We didn’t, because we are concerned about indoor crowds in this age of Covid.
Auntie Katie, who runs a comic book and graphic novel book shop, Books with Pictures, would usually have a big table at the Comic Con. But she is concerned about Covid, too. So she took her books outside!
She posted on Facebook and Instagram to let people know that she and her books would be at the Food Truck Pod on SE 28th, just across the street from The SideStreet Arts Gallery. She and one of her staff, Kitty, showed up with boxes of books and shelves to put them on.
In the midst of the Saturday evening crowds, they set up shop. And as the Rose City Comic Con shut down across town, the crowds came to the food court to see Katie and buy her books!
It was quite a thing to see. We stuck around for long enough to buy a book and watch the crowds form, and then headed to the grocery store and the home. What a day!
Let me tell you about an afternoon with a dear friend.
I first met Misha Moon a few years ago, helping your Auntie Katie set up her bookshop, BookswithPictures. Auntie Katie liked her very much, and it turned out, Misha and I liked each other, too. We have shared stories and pictures and marveled at our own progress through life.
Last March, just before the Corona virus shut everything down, we talked all afternoon at The Rocking Frog, a wonderful place that has since closed up shop. It turned out to be the last ‘friend date’ either of us had for over a year.
And this week, Misha and I had coffee together again. This time we met on a very rainy afternoon under the street-side covered patio of Albina Press Coffee shop on Hawthorne.
I got caught up on her news, and she on mine. We listened, shared, celebrated and sympathized. But mostly, we got to be a part of each other’s lives for a few hours. We got to see each other smile and watch the other person’s eyes sparkle as they laughed. We got to be people together.
Our spring has been alternating between rain and sun, so when the weather is nice, we get out in it! Grandpa Nelson and I headed out in Friday, with not much idea of where to go.
All sorts of flowers are blooming! The tulips are starting to fade, but azaleas and irises are going berserk. The colors are eye-smashing.
We continued south west, sort of in the direction of Ladd’s Addition, where Auntie Katie’s book shop, “Books with Pictures” is. The rose gardens had a few early bloomers looking good, with dozens more in bud, just biding their time.
Palio, a delightfully tasty and pleasant bakery/coffee shop on the Ladd’s Circle Park, has set tables and chairs out on the sidewalk. We ordered some delicious lemon custard cake and texted Katie with an offer. “Yes, please!”
Auntie Katie got her second vaccine just the day before and is on her way to being able to run her shop more easily. The business is doing well, mostly because she works hard to make sure she gets books to her customers. She has been driving to deliver all over the city for more than a year now. Exhausting, yes, but that’s what it took.
After a lovely chat and snacks, Grandpa Nelson and I headed back home through the Richmond neighborhood. It is full of craftsman style houses from the turn of the 20th century and hundreds of majestic trees and flowers bushes.
After weeks of feeling isolated and in my own head, Wednesday was a day that felt very connected, very Portland.
First, Auntie Katie’s bookshop, Books With Pictures, was voted BEST COMIC BOOK SHOP IN PORTLAND by our local newspaper, the Willamette Weekly. Hooray!
I am sure that her hard work and dedication to customer service in having an online ordering service and door to door deliveries during the pandemic has endeared her to everyone. With so many businesses closing down, it is wonderful to see her thrive.
And in the evening, Grandpa Nelson and Auntie Bridgett walked with me to deliver first aid supplies to the Black Lives Matter protesters. A group of volunteers called Snackbloc collect bandages, gloves, and other useful items in different neighborhoods to be used downtown to support the protesters against the Federal troops.
It pains me so much to see our government beating peaceful protesters. There has been some vandalism, but these troops are not dispersing crowds or stopping it; they are attacking unarmed people, shoving them down and gassing lines of singing women.
It is as though they have come to punish these people for standing against the beatings… by beating them, like an abusive father ranting, “Stop crying or I’ll really give you something to cry about.” This is not how I want my country to be.
But I am a coward. I fear beatings, teargas, arrest and undocumented detention by unknown troops. So I help in a small way so others who are braver can help in larger ways.