Books read in September 2016

Holy schnikies, Batman, I read books in every category this month! That’s unusual, especially the three grownup nonfiction books. Though two of them I had been reading for a while and just happened to finish them in September.recommended

Picture books: Best Frients in the Whole Universe
Middle grade: Full of Beans
Young adult: First & Then (even though was a re-read)
Young nonfiction: Tiny Stitches
Adult fiction: Leave Me
Adult nonfiction: Maud Hart Lovelace’s Deep Valley (admittedly, a niche book)
Smart smut: Say it Louder


Best Frients in the Whole Universe
Antoniette Portis
Read for Librarian Book Group
I giggled through this book and enjoyed its general exuberance.

Coyote Moon
Read for Librarian Book Group
Travel with a mother coyote as she searches for food for her family.

The Sound of Silence
Katrina Goldsaito
Read for Librarian Book Group
Yoshio looks for the sound of silence in Tokyo, Japan.

The Storyteller
Evan Turk
Read for Librarian Book Group
Fantastically illustrated tale about the importance of listening to the storytellers.

Randy Cecil
Read for Librarian Book Group
I remember liking this, but I can’t remember why.


Full of Beans
Jennifer Holm
Read for Librarian Book Group
Probably my favorite character voice of the year.  It was fun to be transported back to 1930’s Key West, Florida.

The Inn Between
Marina Cohen
Read for Librarian Book Group
Clever book that is slightly too obvious about showing its hand.


First & Then
Emma Mills
Read Aloud with Matt.
I really enjoyed hearing this the second time; the first time through I was enjoying it so much I skimmed.  Matt liked it too.

William Ritter
Good historical fiction/fantasy where the young Miss Abigail Rook, having fled her family’s Victorian expectations, arrives in New Fiddleham, New England. There she encounters R.F. Jackaby, a sort of Sherlockian character. Gaining work as his assistant, she helps investigate a serial killer in this fantastical mystery.


Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivian Thomas
Read for Librarian Book Group
Illuminating nonfiction about the man who developed a procedure to help blue babies survive.  It does not shy away from the racism Thomas faced in his quest to be a doctor.


My Brilliant Friend
Elena Ferrante
When friends on Goodreads give books five stars, I notice.  So I was very interested to read this book, the first in the Neapolitan Novels  I found it rough going.  Though I had been warned to power through until the main characters hit 13, I found I had to power through the entire book.

I found the fierce, stark, angry prose too confessional for me. The plot was meandering.  This is a good read for those interested in the frenemy relationships between girls, or those who would like to be transported to a poor neighborhood in 1950s Italy.  Be warned though, that this book ends abruptly.  Almost as if someone needed to make a very long book into two very long books.

Leave Me
Gayle Forman
Can a woman who is a mother leave her children to save her own health?  My observations of the current climate say the answer is no.  And thus, I’m guessing Gayle Forman will get a lot of aggro about her main character, Maribeth, who suffers a heart attack in her early forties and flees her young twins and husband so she can mend.

I happen to think women have completely overextended themselves trying to fulfill today’s version of “mother” and so I was interested in Maribeth’s journey which involved the city of Pittsburgh, a rouge heart doctor, a search for her birth mother and (my favorite) healing through swimming.

As I have with Forman’s other books I  devoured this and enjoyed the way she plays with alternate paths that lead to greater understanding.


Lafayette in the Somewhat United States
Sarah Vowell
I enjoy Sarah Vowell books with a lot of Sarah Vowell in them.  When she weaves herself into the story while telling us about the history she’s interested in.  This book had a lot of history and not as much Sarah Vowell.  Thus, it was slow going.

The Tiredness Cure
Sohere Roked
I was feeling tired and this book offered a range of potential fixes, all from an English naturopath’s perspective.

Maud Hart Lovelace’s Deep Valley
For those who want to know the inspirations of Mankato people and locations from Lovelace’s many Deep Valley books.  This well-researched book includes photos, biographies and clippings of Mankato/Deep Valley’s people and places.  It’s good to read before taking a Betsy/Tacy visit.


Say it Louder

Heidi Joy Trethaway
Finally we have Book Four in the Tattoo Thief Series.  I’ve waited a long time to see what happens with drummer Dave, who has just discovered how terrible his longtime girlfriend is.  In kicking her to the curb (a kick that was quite well-deserved) he finds himself interested in Willa, a scruffy tattoo artist by day and graffiti artist by night.  Can Dave, with his not-quite-professional drumming skills–keep himself in the band and convince Willa to trust him?  Many complexities ensue, and the path is laid for a fifth book (hooray!) in the Tattoo Thief series.  Bring on the babysitter drummer!


My irrational anger at a clothing company.

I walk by the Free People clothing store regularly and look at their displays with a kind of anthropological interest.  These are not clothes designed for me, nor am I meant to wear them.  I find some of them kind of cute (the dress on the left, the skirt on the right) and most of them puzzling.

But today I saw the Van Halen 1984 shirt and stopped short.  Why are they marketing a shirt for a band consisting of members who are too old to be this demographic’s fathers?  Is there some Van Halen resurgence among the young set I don’t know about? (Possibly.)  I suspect they just thought the logo looked cool and made it into a shirt.

Song of the month September 2016

AWOLNATION “Woman, Woman”

This is one of those songs that gets a lot of radio play and I don’t switch the station.   I could never decide if he was saying, “You made me a natural woman,” or “You may be a natural woman.” (It was the latter, as that is the lyric that makes the most sense. The former is the lyric that’s more fun.) I also liked the reputation of “woman woman”.

But I’ve just watched the video and I feel very conflicted.

The use of attractive women recalls Robert Plant’s [by which I mean Robert Palmer] “Simply Irresistible” and “Addicted to Love.” And they’re naked.  I get it.  “Natural woman” in the AWOLNATION world equals “naked woman.”  I watched the entire video cringing.  Yes, it looks like they are all having great fun pretending to play (or perhaps actually playing–they could be musicians) and singing this song.  Googling “AWOLNATION Woman Woman commentary” gets me this link which says the video is “a hymn to celebrate all females in their natural glory.” Which is a nice sentiment, though to me the video seems to celebrate “women of a specific age (their 20s) who are mostly of the properly accepted weight aesthetic and are nicely diverse in race/ethnicity.”

This is one of those things that purports to celebrate women, while exploiting them.  A group of naked women who look like they are having fun is actually a specifically chosen–probably by a man–group of women who are paid to take off their clothes and look like they are having fun, mostly so a certain population can watch the video and think, “boobs!”

That the whole thing is carried off without an internet peep (googling “AWOLNATION Woman Woman controversy” got me nothing) shows me just how far from gender equality we are.  I want girls to grow up in a world where they think they can make music, not be the people paid to take off their clothes and pretend to make music.  I want boys to grow up in a world where girls are not just something to look at, but are people who can start bands, conceive and direct videos, and do more than be objects.

(I just wanted to download a song and write a quick bit about why I like it.  Thanks AWOLNATION, for complicating my blogging time.)

No longer a KFC. Parking space not included.

When I moved to Kenton in 2007, this lot at the corner of N. Lombard and N. Fenwick was a KFC with a drive-through and a parking lot.  The KFC closed a few years later.  The building was taken down and the lot has been empty for some time.  I recall a fluttering of plans for something, but those did not come to pass.  But now we have what looks like a six-unit complex that has been built on the lot.  And it looks like there will be another six-unit complex arriving soon.  This is located a block away from the Lombard Transit center, so hopefully many people without cars will rent these places.  However, if they do have a car, they will be parking the neighborhood.  It’s past time for the Portland City Council to start figuring out  a parking system for the city.  Big, compact cities have parking enforcement throughout.

Interestingly, the Google Map of the corner has not erased the presence of the KFC, or the parking lot.  While I don’t think it should instantaneously show a new building, the building it is showing hasn’t existed for years.

This building at NW 10th & Davis is soon to go away.

This is the corner of 10th and Davis, soon to be another tall building.  Kush Handmade Rugs has the corner.  They are moving to a new location.  The storefront on Davis was a print shop that has moved. Aztech Sign and Graphics is on 10th.  I’m not sure what will happen to them. Next in line is Jimmy Mak’s, Portland’s Legendary Jazz Club.  They were going to move across the street, but the owner’s cancer came back, so he decided to close at the end of the year.  Their final night will be New Year’s Eve.  (Note from the future:  Jimmy Makarounis died on New Year’s Day.)

Three sentence movie reviews: Bad Moms


Another free admission, thanks to my hotel stay at the Olympic Club, and another film I would not have watched otherwise, despite my love for Kristen Bell. However, the theater was filled with–judging from their chortles of glee–a lot of moms, and when you discard all trappings of “but, that isn’t realistic because…” then this film is very funny and all three main actresses are fun to watch, especially Kathryn Hahn.  While it was great to see so many actresses having fun, I do find myself questioning as to why the two men who wrote and directed this movie did not include any actual females in the creative process.*

Cost: free due to hotel package
Where watched: McMenamins Olympic Club

poster from:

*What would a movie about bad moms written and directed by women (or even actual moms) be like?  Maybe Hollywood should get on that?

A walk in Centralia

Aside from watching three movies and reading, my big activity in Centralia this trip was taking a long walk on Saturday morning.  I walked Main Street until it turned into Harrison Street and took me to Fort Borst Park.  Here’s what I saw:

Given my upbringing, it was inevitable that the next work that came to mind after reading that sign was “Footloose“.

I was interested that this business was wholly outside. The garage to the right was rented to another business.

I also loved their muffler man.

Too many flutes at the pawn shop.

Typical setup.  Planned Parenthood on one side of the street, anti-abortion organization on the other.

Someone had placed a scrap wood bench in front of their house.

Crossing the Skookumchuck River.

Hoo-boy did I love this sign.  Clearly, at one time the Panda Inn was a different kind of establishment.

A “lady” tending her crop outside the Country  Cousin restaurant.

The Historic Fort Borst Blockhouse, which was originally built for protection, but actually used to store grain.  Later Mr. Borst bought it and it was used as a house while the Borst house was being built.  That’s when the windows were cut in.

Fort Borst Park has a lot going on.  I took the one mile trail around the park.

No one was fishing when I walked by.

Here is the historic Borst House.  It was not open for tours when I wandered by.

The Borsts had a lot of dead children.

This Oregonian grumblingly questions if the trail in Washington is really the Oregon Trail.

Another picture of the Borst house.

Master Gardeners! It’s always good to come across a demonstration garden.

There was also a one-room replica schoolhouse.  

So many things to do at Fort Borst Park.  The “Pioneer Soccer Fields” name cracked me up.  Those pioneers were big soccer players.  Or maybe they are fields honoring early soccer players?

I loved this brochure rack of information available to all.

Some of the brochures were a little worse for wear, but still imparting important information.

There was a swim center in the park.  And attached to the swim center was a…miniature golf course?

Look what’s coming soon at the miniature golf theater.

On my way back I stopped at the Goodwill.

I was blown away by their Halloween display, including Look Book.

You could also have a costume match up.  My match up?  Ghostly Lumberjack.  I like the May 23 choice:  Evil Hero.

I found a mini keyboard to bring along to the ukulele sing alongs I occasionally attend.  I loved the design, including the tape player that looks like a CD player.  Sadly, this keyboard is not in tune. The C is actually an A#, so back to the Goodwill (in Portland) it went, to delight another.  It cost me $4.00, so I wasn’t terribly broken up.

I spent some time reading in the Centralia Library and really liked this reading recommendation flow chart.

Three sentence movie reviews: War Dogs


I snuck away for the weekend and free admission to the movie theater was included in my hotel stay at the Olympic Club Hotel, so I watched this.  I found it held my attention and was interesting and it made me want to read the original article on which the movie was based.* Teller and Hill do their solid acting thing, as usual.

Cost: free due to hotel package
Where watched: McMenamins Olympic Club

poster from:
Much grumpy commentary by the IMP peanut gallery on this one.  Partially for the Scarface ripoff, partially because the names are not attached to the correct head.

*I did.  You can get it by googling.  Not surprisingly, there is no love interest in the real story.

Weekend Retreat to Centralia: getting there; my room.

I had a weekend retreat in Centralia, Washington, at the same site of a previous vacation.  Like that vacation, I traveled by train.  It was a good train riding experience.  When I checked in, the ticket agent said, “Your train is two hours late.” I knew this already, having looked online.  Then she said.  “Do you want me to see if I can get you on the train that’s coming in about 15 minutes?” The answer to that question was yes, I did.  She could, so off I went on the earlier train, that was arriving later than my departure time.  (I would love it if the US really put money into rail travel.)

I arrived in Centralia, walked the two blocks to the Olympic Club Hotel, checked in, dropped off my things and headed downstairs for a free movie (which is one of the perks.  No soaking pool, though.)

Here is my room.  At this hotel several of the rooms have only skylights, not windows.  It was cozy.

A view of the skylight.  If I had a project to finish and needed to get away to do so, I would come here and stay in one of these rooms.  They are very focusing.