This was my second year at the Northwest Book Festival. Last year it was rained out. This year, July 30 was balmy and Pioneer Courthouse Square, Portland’s living room, was packed with tourists. I sold copies of The Lemrow Mystery and announced the upcoming sequel, Graphic Lessons, honing my selling skills by borrowing ideas from Ben Adams, the author of The Enigmatologist, with whom I shared the booth. It was exhausting but relaxed in the Portland way.
A friend and I went to the Columbia River Gorge, Multnomah Falls, drove by ice capped Mount Hood and had lunch overlooking the Columbia.
Food has ranged from 1950’s Otto & Anita’s Schnitzel Haus’s Dill Pickle Soup to contemporary raw fish at Murata’s in southwest Portland and wonderful seafood at Jake’s. NYC’s Union Square Farmers Market takes an honorable second place to Portland’s Farmers Market. It’s located on the Portland State University’s campus. It provides shady trees, serenades by various musicians and purveyors of everything from oil to wine and stupendous Italian sausage panini/hoagies/grinders.
My Airbnb adventure taught me a hard won lesson: Always read websites thoroughly. I had had excellent experiences on VRBO and assumed that Airbnb owners would be as ethical. I was wrong. I had paid $2700 in advance and was refunded $701. Luckily, my friends found me a housesitting gig and I landed in a charming cottage with a lovely garden.
It’s my second week in Portland, Oregon. It’s been a feast of northwest trees. We visited the Lone Fir Cemetery. From one fir, still standing, in the late nineteenth century to 700 trees and representing 67 species in 2016, Lone Fir Cemetery is Oregon’s second largest arboretum . A woodcutter union honored deceased members with tombstones sculpted like tree trunks.
We walked through the Japanese Garden on a balmy day. On its 5,5 acres, the garden has a plethora of ponds,waterfalls, gardens, rocks and northwest trees: giant Sequoia, Douglas fir.
Portland has old time movie houses that, miraculously, were not demolished. There’s the Baghdad in the Hawthorne area. In addition to roaming in the gilt splendor of the 1940s and seeing movies, you can order wine, beer and food, delivered to your seat. The same is true of the Hollywood movie theatre. It’s such a landmark that the northwest area is now called Hollywood.
I’ll be attending the 8th Northwest Book Festival on July 30. It’s held in Pioneer Courthouse Square, Portland’s living room. I will be selling copies of The Lemrow Mystery and announcing the upcoming sequel, Graphic Lessons.
I’m in Portland, Oregon to visit friends, to get to know this charming city better and to attend the 8th Northwest Book Festival on July 30. It’s held in Pioneer Courthouse Square, Portland’s living room. I will be selling copies of The Lemrow Mystery and announcing the upcoming sequel, Graphic Lessons.
For my sins I used Airbnb to rent a place that was probably a converted garage with a curious shed called a moon house. Being a New Yorker, I thought the term, moon house, was a touch of quaint Portlandia and didn’t pay the attention to it I should have. It’s an outhouse. Since we don’t have outhouses in NYC, you can imagine my surprise and dismay when I inspected the moon house which is attached to the owners’ house – plumbing, you know. It’s about twenty paces across a crab grass garden. The moon house is a tiny space with a tiny toilet, a tinier sink and a shower that shouts defunct summer camp. The ex-garage or the garden house, as the owner call it, is a dismal room that conjures up the film Psycho, not the Bates motel (if only) but the house on the hill where mom lived. It reeks of solitary confinement and has no running water. For that refinement, you have to go to the moon house. I give the owners full marks for their sense of humor. The wifi password for the ex-garage is goldenroom. They are also superb trick photographers.
Last Friday I was in Cooperstown, N. Y. attending the Glimmerglass production of Sweeney Todd, staying in a wonderful 1950’s motel and having grits and shrimp by the Otsego lake. This week I’m on the west coast, near the Columbia and having green lipped mussels. Somebody’s got to do it.
I spent the July 4th weekend at Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz. Its 1200 acres are adjacent to The Mohonk Preserve, an additional 7500 acres in the Shawangunk Ridge. Hiking friends shorten that to the Gunks. If you like to walk, hike, read, ride, swim, sail, play golf and play shuffleboard, Mohonk is for you. It was founded by a Quaker family, the Smileys, who are still involved in the running of the mountain house and the preserve. Service is a combination of restrained American friendliness and very un-American efficiency. The rooms are spacious. They harken back to a former time with soft lighting and working fireplaces but have very modern, discrete appliances. I felt like a junkie when I discovered I didn’t have a TV in my room. No TV in the rooms??? I had to resort to reading. Lots of delicious food was served in a formal dining room. If you preferred, there was a less formal dining room, buffet style, and a picnic place in the woods.
My friends spent the early part of July 4 hiking around the Mohonk Lake. I spent it in the indoor pool. Miracle of miracles we, actually the driver, found a route back to Montclair that was devoid of traffic. I jumped onto the DeCamp Bus and was in Port Authority within the half hour. Mr. Macy had graciously arranged for the Manhattan fireworks to be staged outside my window. As I unpacked, I snapped a few.
On Sunday I probably attended more church services than the Pope.
First, breakfast with two wonderful buddies at Cafe Reggio on MacDougal. Early morning is a throwback in time on MacDougal. The usually crowded street is empty except for a few early risers and the sanitation trucks that squirt mysterious substances that smell very New York. Cafe Reggio is a dark, small den with 1920s metal chairs and heavy furniture. It’s the perfect place to meet for delicious strong coffee and gossip. A few blocks away, Judson Memorial Church geared up for Pride Day. An inspired minister told about his father, also a minister, waiting for the younger man to declare his sexual orientation. When the younger man did, his father said, “We’ve been waiting for you.” Some father, eh??
In the afternoon I scooted to Brooklyn’s Baptist Emmanuel Church for Jazz Vespers. The vast church was filled with the big sound of Gordon Chambers, the vocalist and composer. Chambers glided his way through My Funny Valentine, and Bob Marley’s Redemption. He introduced Deah Harriott, the vocalist and organist. Ms. Harriott like Mr. Chambers is Jamaican. They were backed by a wonderful band. Among others were Trevor Allen on bass, Chris Rob on piano. One of the high points was Gordon Chambers and Deah Harriott romping and singing up and down the aisles of Emmanuel Baptist Church. The place burst with sound. The day ended with a delicious supper at Olea on Lafayette.