A Walk in the Columbia Children’s Arboretum

Here’s a timer photo in front of the sign (and the bag of trash someone left.)

The Arboretum was peaceful and quiet and I’m glad I finally located it after all these years. There was an attempt to find it via bicycle in the early aughts and no dice. But this time, it was no trouble to find it.

Someone had been busy constructing this structure.

Books Read in January 2021

Picture Books

A Pig, a Fox and a Fox
Jonathan Fenske
Read for Librarian Book Group

Fox tries to play jokes on pig, but is thwarted at every turn in this rhyming beginning reader.

Don’t Worry Little Crab
Chris Haughton
Read for Librarian Book Group

I mean, I feel like Very Big Crab wasn’t really respecting Little’s Crab’s boundaries, but the illustrations were great.

This Old Dog
Martha Brockenrough and Gabriel Alborozo
Read for Librarian Book Group

An old dog/young child story that headed in a different direction than I thought it would.

What About Worms?
Ryan T. Higgins
Read for Librarian Book Group

The tiger is afraid of worms in this early reader. Very fun illustrations.

The Magical Yet
Angela DiTerlizzi and Lorena Álvarez
Read for Librarian Book Group (maybe?)

Beautifully illustrated book about the thing you aren’t quite yet.

Middle Grade

The Magic Fish
Trung Le Nguyen
Read for Librarian Book Group

A graphic novel that takes the fairy tale retelling trend in a different direction. It also shows a mother/son relationship and what coming out looked like in the 90s.

Young Adult

American Royals
Katherine McGee

This book breaks my first book series rule: each book in the series should have an ending! If I’m going to read w hole book, especially one with a long list of holds on the sequel, I need that book to tie everything up.

The idea of a monarchy in the United States of America was profoundly disturbing to me. I have enough trouble with fiscal policies that allow the generational transfer of large amounts of money, not to mention policies that mean the US has as many billionaires as it does.

That said, this was interesting book with characters I got invested in.

p.s. George Washington had no direct descendants so I’m interested in why they were still called the House of Washington. I don’t understand how those monarchical houses get named.

p.p.s. Someone asked this question on Goodreads and the author answered it: In the world of American Royals, the succession goes through GW’s nephew George Steptoe Washington, son of Washington’s younger brother Samuel. (George Steptoe Washington had three older siblings but none of them lived long enough to become king–in real life they all died before GW’s death in 1799). George Steptoe Washington, aka King George II in the world of American Royals, was a fascinating character in real life! He eloped with Lucy Payne (Dolly Madison’s sister!) when she was 15 and he was 22. Their families were originally outraged but later reconciled. So of course, in the world of American Royals she became Queen Lucy!

Black Girl Unlimited
Echo Brown
Read for Librarian Book Group

Required reading both for the down-on-the-ground perspective and for the interesting way of putting together a story. This one will stick with me.

It Sounded Better in my Head
Nina Kenwood
Read for Librarian Book Group

A relationship anxiety tour de force!

Natalie was an immediately relatable character and due to the ebook format I wasn’t prepared for it to be over.

This was also a book that caused several loud chuckles. Kenwood is great at low-key humor.

The Black Kids
Christina Hammonds Reed

Really astute (and amusing) observations of a well-off L.A. Black girl during the Rodney King Riot in the 1990s.

I read this first as a short story in One Teen Story and I’m looking forward to more of Christina Hammonds Reed’s work.

Clap When You Land
Elizabeth Acevedo
Read for Librarian Book Group

Two girls, one in New York City and one in the Dominican Republic, are both affected by a plane crash.

I have my novel-in-verse favorite authors and Acevedo is one.

Getting the Girl
Susan Juby

A mystery that hasn’t aged well. Guys who are “into the ladies,” even severely inexperienced ones, feel kind of ick now.

Still, with Juby’s sparking prose there were redeeming things about this book.

Julie Buxbaum

The college cheating scandal exposed by Operations Varsity Blues was my big schadenfreude story of 2019. The obsession with “the best” college! The willingness to call your child, already the product of an expensive private education, too dumb to get in via normal channels! The nerve!, as Julie Buxbaum said in her afterward.

This is the story of a not-book-smart teenager who finds herself one of the many children of rich people who found out that their acceptance letter didn’t arrive due to their efforts alone. Told in now/then chapters we see Chloe pick through her responsibility, her parents efforts, and how she feels about the aftermath. This was engrossing fiction.

You Know I’m No Good
Jessie Anne Foley

Bad girl! Out of control! Expensive rehab place!

Plus Foley’s usual astute characterization and writing.

Darius the Great Deserves Better
Adir K. Khorram
Read for Librarian Book Group

Darius is back and, while his life has improved, a lot of the daily life things still require negotiation. I love a good in-depth novel about emerging male sexuality and Darius’s categorization of things is amusing. This was really well done.

As with the first book, man has Khorram missed the mark with Portland high school names.

It Only Happens in the Movies
Holly Bourne

As someone who loves romantic comedies while also giving them a lot of side eye, Bourne’s book hit the spot. Early relationships provide a lot of learning opportunities, and that is the case in this novel.

While the journey is great, the ending was so good I gave Boyfriend Matt a complete rundown of the plot, just so I could say, “See! This book was amazing!” He agreed. The afterward includes a list of 10 movie that made the author who she is today.

Young Nonfiction

All Thirteen
Christina Soontrnvat
Read for Librarian Book Group

This is the way nonfiction should be written! Using clear prose backed with great photos and illustrations, we get an up-close look at the rescue of the soccer team trapped in a cave in Thailand.

Grownup Nonfiction

Happy Money: Understand and Heal Your Relationship with Money
Ken Honda

Another woo-woo finance book. This provides suggestions for shedding your money baggage and making all your money happy money.

The New Work From Home Space

This three-day weekend, my last until Memorial Day, was spent getting the new work-from-home space in order.

I installed shelves and bulletin boards and assembled my new desk. It’s an adjustable standing desk, and here you can see it from the working side.

Here is the at-home side.

I bought two keyboard trays, one for working, one for personal use. But I forgot to check to see if they would both fit under the desk. They did not. I engineered this solution, buying a length of wood, cutting it into two pieces and offsetting those pieces from the for-work keyboard tray. It worked.

What didn’t work was not accounting for the crank handle on this side. I ended up moving the keyboard over far to the left. In that position, I have just enough space to turn the crank fully. Here’s the desk in the seated position.

Installing those keyboard trays was a two-person job. They were really wiggly. Luckily, Matt came and held the brackets steady while I screwed in the screws.

I have no more desk drawers and my shelves don’t put things in easy reach, so I bought this caddy at Ikea. It can roll to either side of the desk.

If I want, I can store the chair and the Ikea caddy under the desk itself.

I ordered bookends from Etsy. Those will be shipped.

I’m glad I could make both sides work and I’m looking forward to seeing how the new setup works from day to day.

Celebrating the New Job

Matt and I celebrated my new job by picking up food from Urdaneta, which is a Spanish small plates restaurant on Alberta.

The food was delicious, and I would like to go back when they are seating people.

Matt also was a fan.

P.S. Behind him, you can see my old desk, waiting for a NextDoor buyer to come and pick it up. More on that in another post.

New Bike Old Bike Things Must Go

O! If only all the things worked together!

The new bike’s rack is a different gauge than the bike rack on the old bike. So these two sets of transporting options must go. I’m sad to see them go. The panniers I spent a bunch of money on. In my mind, they were still shiny and new, but they did have a lot of wear when I looked them over. I advertised them on Craigslist for $20, but no takers, so I switched them to free and someone stopped to pick them up.

The bike buckets went fast at $20 total. I advertised that they came with “authentic Portland street grit” and that helped, I think. Quality products, those bike buckets are.

I also sorted through a bunch of bike things and set bits and bobs out on the parking strip. They were gone before the end of the day.

And here’s my great find. Not only is zoned travel long-gone from the TriMet map, they stopped accepting those tickets years and years ago! Money down the drain! And look at this change I had been sitting on for so many years. I had been thinking of buying those cord corrals, so that was a bonus find.

I think these things might have been from our big bike trip to Eugene in 2011. My guess is that I never fully unpacked that bag and hadn’t used it since.

Jesse and Celine Keeping Me Company

One thing I like about HBOMax is that they have a category called “leaving soon.” It’s so very handy to catch the things that soon won’t be there. Because of that category, my morning chores were spent with the young Jesse and Celine (Before Sunrise) and the middle Jesse and Celine (Before Sunset). HBOMax didn’t have Before Midnight, which was a shame, because my middle-aged self likes their middle-aged selves. I rented it, but the rental ran out before I got halfway through.

Such a great trilogy!

Turns Out, the Folding Aspect of My Tern Bike is Very Helpful

I initially dismissed that the handlebar stem on my new bike folded down, though I did like that it could balance independently in an upright position. Those two things came together in a big win that means that I can store my bike in our locked shed!

It wouldn’t fit if the handlebars were sticking out, but folded flat, I’ve got a very secure area for my bike.

This is great news, as I was thinking about storing this bike on the back porch where my old bike had been hanging, but wasn’t feeling great about the level of security.

Thanks, Tern. You were looking out for me and I didn’t even know it!

SKS Postcard: Anna Oneglia, Like a Garden

Sara sends me greetings as I wrap up two jobs and start another.

Not pictured here because I just noticed it, is the place for the stamp. Sara has cleverly placed the official stamp to the left of the usual place for the stamp so I can see that artist included another woodcut that says “The days are long, but the years are short” Very fun! And a good way for me to show off fun stamp areas that I come across.