New York Mysteries in Portland, Oregon July 15- July 22

July 15 Vive la France, “Je souhaite à toutes les Françaises, à tous les Français, une fête nationale sereine et joyeuse. Vive la République et vive la France!”
— Emmanuel Macron, 14 juillet 2017.
A friend and I celebrated Bastille Day in Jamison Square. How best to honor French culture? By eating the lovely cuisine. Both savory and sweet crêpes were prepared by two hard-working French speaking women. In Portland, standing in line is an art. No whining, no pushing, just patience. There was the annual waiters race. On a tray, each waiter carried a glass bottle and a glass, both filled with water. Dropping one, disqualified the waiter. The race was held on a walkway that circled Jamison Square.

 

The Waiters Race

July 15 was a busy Portland Saturday. While waiters were racing, The Big Float celebrating the Willamette River was held. All you needed was a life jacket, an inner tube or kayak and a sense of fun.

The Cathedral Park Jazz Festival was held the next day at the base of St. Johns bridge in the Cathedral Park neighborhood of Portland. It was a balmy day, perfect for sitting outside on a blanket surrounded by lush greenery, friends and jazz.

Sen. John McCain has been diagnosed with a very aggressive brain tumor. Condolences to Senator John McCain.He’s a public figure who’s a product of mid-twentieth century America. He does have worries but he does not have to worry about health care. The Mayo Clinic will treat him like royalty. The irony is that Mitch McConnell held up the final vote on the Republican Health Care bill. Now, that has gone south. Had McCain not been diagnosed with a serious illness he could have voted for a new health care bill that would have deprived millions of Americans of the stellar treatment he will receive.

From Alphabet City to Alphabet City: in NYC I live in Alphabet City and in Portland I stay in Alphabet City. How’s that for a coincidence?

 

 

 

Graphic Lessons: Recent thirty-five-year-old widow Millie Fitzgerald applies for a private school teaching job, faints on a stabbed and dying man in the school kitchen, deals with the only witness to the stabbing – a troubled nine-year-old, develops a crush on a NYPD detective and her dog dies.

Graphic Lessons: Nine-year-old Dana is the only witness who overhears three people fighting with George Lopez, the soon to be stabbed Windsor School kitchen worker. Who can she tell? Her mother who never listens or accuses her of lying? Her father who’s started a new family in Singapore? She tells Millie.

Graphic Lessons: Something’s eating at NYPD Detective Steve Kulchek: a failed marriage? surviving a car bomb? his girlfriend marrying his corrupt boss? screwing up an important case? It doesn’t matter because he’s relentless.

 

 

 

 

New York City / Portland Blog  July 17 – July 23

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.

Woodcutters tombstone in the Lone Fir Cemetery

Woodcutters tombstone in the Lone Fir Cemetery

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.

 

Flyer for the Northwest Book Festival

Flyer for the Northwest Book Festival

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.

New York City / Portland Blog – July-11 – July 16

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.

Flyer for the Northwest Book Festival

Flyer for the Northwest Book Festival

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.

West coast green lipped mussels

West coast green lipped mussels

East coast grits and shrimp

East coast grits and shrimp

New York City Blog Sept. 6 – Sept. 13

I went to the IFC Center to see Phoenix. It’s a German film that reminded me of that French oldie, Diabolique. Phoenix has a perfect noir setting: postwar Germany. The Jews who survived the death camps eye their German neighbors suspiciously and the Gentiles reek with guilt. The plot isn’t plausible, but Kurt Weill’s and Ogden Nash’s Speak Low is as haunting as ever. Originally, the IFG was the Waverley, well known and well regarded for funky films. It was the first movie house to show midnight screenings and audience participation of The Rocky Horror Show. Once an independent movie house, iit’s now owned by AMC networks.
Speaking of movie houses, have I told you about Portland, Oregon’s The Living Room? It’s the sort of theatre where they show arty flicks like Phoenix plus, and it’s a big plus, serve food and drinks to you while you’re watching the movie. There’s the Bagdad in Hawthorne. It’s a movie palace of old: miles of red carpet, Aladdin and His Lamp stairways and decor. Food and drink are also served. You will never find Phoenix at the Baghdad, but you will find Mission: Impossible.

Fat Afro Latin Jazz Cats. How’s that for a name? It’s the pre-professional youth orchestra of the nonprofit Afro Latin Jazz Alliance. It’s sensational. The musicians are dazzling and so young. Not one member is over eighteen, but they play like seasoned professionals. They were trained by Arturo O’Farrell, Jim Seeley, and Zack O’Farrell. In Brooklyn, Sunday afternoon they performed at the Emmanuel Baptist Church Jazz Vespers.

Jazz Vespers: Emmanuel Baptist Church

Jazz Vespers: Emmanuel Baptist Church

New York City Blog from Portland July 19 – July 25

July 25 was the NW Book Fair in Pioneer Square. Pioneer Square is Portland’s living room. Last week we attended the annual Sand Castles Competition. It was blisteringly hot and so bright my eyes hurt. This week my friend helped me haul copies of The Lemrow Mystery and totes to the fair. You can’t win them all. It rained. It poured. The tent I shared

A Perfect Portand Party

A Perfect Portand Party

with four other women, all delightful, was like a wet handkerchief after ten minutes. I hung in there until one p.m and then grabbed my gear and left. There were no customers but I exchanged copes of my book with others and we all swore fervently to read and review. Met lots of great Oregonians.

Went to a wonderful party after the rain had stopped.
My friend arranged for me to cat-

Big Eaters

Big Eaters

sit in a Portland floating home in the Jantzen suburb.The houses are licensed under the title floating homes/houseboats. Years ago, it was considered very economical to live on the Columbia Channel. Now, it’s desirable. The houses are built very closely together. There’s a central narrow board walk and many signs about various regulations: animals have to stay on their own property, no loud noise. The cats I baby – sat are called raggedy dolls. That means they have lots of hair and appear bigger than they really are. They shed copiously and eat like dogs. None of this nonsense about inner control. They figured out where some hidden nibbles were, climbed onto the counter and managed to knock the package to the floor and gobble up oodles of them, twice. Friends (not feline) came to dinner and afterwards we sat on the front porch which is on the river.

The floating home front porch

 

New York City Blog June 29 — July 4

Monday I arrived on the Empire Builder in Portland, OR.The Seattle car is usually separated from the Empire Builder at Spokane. Not today. Because of a terrible fire in Wenatchee, Washington the Seattle car stayed attached to the rest of the train. At Portland, the Seattle folks were bused home. Oregon and Washington State are tinderbox dry. Climate change, anyone?  How about rethinking not using fireworks.

It’s bittersweet to be staying in the Warren for the last time. Four years ago, I found this wonderful basement (cool!) apartment on VRBO, Vacation Rentals by Owners Only, The landlady is selling the property. Since you asked, $640,000. Friends recently bought a condo in a leafy, woodsy section of the city. Here’s one of them grilling salmon while the rest of us supervise.

Chef Jim

Chef Jim

The First Unitarian Church choir was leaving for Ireland and its wonderful seventy degrees. I went to a final rehearsal. Can you sing? I’m good at opening my mouth but am tone deaf according to a singing cousin. It was mesmerizing to listen to the layers of sound and to watch the fifty five (?) person choir keep their eyes as avidly on the music director, Mark Slegers, as a brood of hungry chicks eyes its mother. What a range: from Ave Maria to Blue Skies by way of two Swahili songs. There are fourteen songs in all and all are wonderful.

The Unitarian Church's answer to the one hundred degrees temperature

The First Unitarian Church’s answer to the one hundred degrees temperature

On July 4th: we went to the Farmers Market. What an abundance of local products: sausages, vodka, flowers, heather, jams. I’ll let the market’s beauty speak for itself.

Local Herbs

Local Herbs

Local Flowers

Local Flowers

New York City Blog June 22 — June 28

Shortly before leaving NYC for Portland, Or. I attended a farewell party on the top floor of the Central Park Arsenal for a wonderful gardener. The Prosecco and best wishes flowed.

The Arsenal Party

The Arsenal Party

Friday afternoon I got on the Lake Shore Limited to Chicago. The compartment was an updated version seen in North by Northwest  but where was Cary Grant? It was very cozy with big windows that give you a wonderful view of the Hudson. I had dinner at 5 pm.The food was: tired salad with packets of Paul Newman dressing on plastic plates followed by mediocre salmon with canned vegetables and potatoes out of a box. I had something called strawberry cheesecake which was pink, hard pablum. I had a half bottle of red wine for $16 bucks. Thanks God for booze.

Amish on the Empire Bilder

Amish on the Empire Bilder

In Chicago I switched to the Empire Builder. It’s a double decker train. At Spokane, WA. the front part of the train goes to Seattle and the rear part goes to Portland. Wonderful views of the Wisconsin Dells, the Mississippi, Glacier National Park in Montana and the Columbia River Gorge.

New York City Blog July 13 – July 19 from Portland, OR.

The Portland, OR. week began at The Living Room, a combination eatery and movie house, so dear to my heart. Eating during “Life Itself” requires a strong stomach. It’s Roger Ebert’s story and many of the scenes take place after his jaw was removed. My favorite parts were between Ebert and Gene Siskel who cordially hated each other.

Dawson Park in Portland’s north quadrant sponsors free concerts. It’s very casual and friendly. Sometimes, there’s great music.

Dawson Park Singer

Dawson Park Singer

Michael Ellick is leaving Judson Memorial Church. He will be the senior minister at First Congregational UCC in Portland. The 1891 building resembles the Old South Church in Boston. It’s considered one of the few examples of Venetian Gothic architecture in the United States.

Sand castles on Pioneer Square! It’s a nineteen year tradition that takes place in Portland’s living room. The contestants begin early in the morning and build with sand and water until 4 p.m.

 19th Sand Castle Competition

19th Sand Castle Competition