Books Read in August 2022

Picture Books

The Notebook Keeper
Briseno & Mora
Read for Librarian Book Group

Noemi and her mother take a long walk to get to the U.S. and while waiting at the border, they meet the notebook keeper. This book is made more compelling in that it’s based on an actual notebook and the keeper duties that were passed along.

Middle Grade

In the Key of Us
Mariama J. Lockington
Read for Librarian Book Group

Camp story! Duel-narrator that works well. The perspective shifts week by week over the course of the four-week camp. A solid middle grade growth story.

I hated (hated, hated, HATED!) the poetry interludes from the camp’s point of view. So cringe-y.

A Duet for Home
Karina Yan Glaser
Read for Librarian Book Group

Hang out in a family shelter that is helping people move to secured housing. Unfortunately, the mayor has an idea of how to fix homelessness and it’s not great for the residents.

Given that one of the gubernatorial candidates in my state is running on a platform to make unhoused people accountable (whatever that means), this was depressingly relevant.

Answers in the Pages
David Levithan
Read for Librarian Book Group

I had trouble connecting to this book at first. Beginning with three different stories was a heavy lift. But I settled in and was rewarded by a good look at late-elementary-school censorship. There’s been a trend of YA authors writing middle grade. Often their characters seem older than their age—more YA than middle grade, if you will. This book also followed that trend.

Young Adult

Sway with Me
Syed M. Masood

I love Masood so much! Arsalan is a believably quirky character and it’s fun to go along in his journey to somewhat normal teenager. Grief and growth with a Pakistani family. I also though the ending was realistic and hopeful.

Zyla and Kai
Kristana Forest

I don’t often come across teen romances where the male part of the equation is the one who falls in love with love. This book expertly captures complex feelings about love experienced while one is also a teenager.

The Summer of Bitter and Sweet
Jen Ferguson

The page I was on when I realized this novel is set in Canada: 38.

I’ve always thought that the summer after high school and before college is a great time for a YA novel and this story proved me right. Working in the family ice cream stand, worrying about bio-dads, readjusting to an old friend back in town. Plus a bunch of other things. There’s a lot going on in this book and it’s all well balanced. Plus a First Nations character! And I learned that perhaps moving to Canada would not solve all my problems. Though I probably wouldn’t bankrupt myself due to healthcare.

The Honeys
Ryan La Sala

A fantastical summer camp story that explores issues of gender identity. I really felt the pull to be part of a hive (though perhaps not the one in this story). Really great endpapers.

Grownup Fiction

Ryan McIlvain

Come along with two Mormon elders on their mission in Brazil. McIlvain provides great descriptions of the day to day of a mission and the mental state of the two missionaries. I found the crisis point at the end to be rather cliched.

Andrew Sean Greer

A short book that follows Arthur Less, kinda failed author, as he travels around the world to escape his ex-boyfriend’s wedding ceremony. This was an amusing (much quiet chuckling on my part) and an enjoyable read.

Mika in Real Life
Emiko Jean

Mika is a loveable drifting thirtysomething until her daughter—the one raised by adoptive parents—pops back up in her life. Aside from being amusing and getting the Portland details right, this puts a microscope on the hurt that adoption can cause.

The Second Season
Emily Adrien

The mark of an excellent writer is one who draws me in and keeps me reading even about subject I do not care about. (In this case, NBA broadcasting.) Seeing Ruth at a crossroad in her life was engrossing, and I felt the usual rage I feel when women have trouble doing the things they love because the thing they love is supposedly just for men.

Young Nonfiction

Queer Ducks
Eliot Schrefer
Read for Librarian Book Group

Schrefer carefully lays out many examples of animals who don’t hue to the heterosexual norm. There’s also a really great unpacking of how societal norms shape what we see in science.

Action: How Movies Began
Meaghan Mccarthy
Read for Librarian Book Group

McCarty’s picture book about movies starts chronologically and then jumps all over the place.

Grownup Nonfiction

Heart Rate Training
Roy Benson, Declan Connolly

The authors walk the reader through heart rate information and then set out training programs for a variety of exercise modules.

How to Draw Almost Every Day
Chika Miyata

I enjoyed how the author broke down each thing to be drawn into simple lines, and I found it fun to draw a long with the day’s lesson. The items to draw were somewhat random for me. They were based on what the author had been doing, but I didn’t have those same connections. I also found that the not-drawing of “almost every day” kept falling on days when I wanted to draw. Overall, this was an enjoyable quick (mostly) daily activity.

Roger McLain’s Memorial Service

Roger McLain, father to friend Laurie, died in July and today we attended his memorial service. I loved this picture on the front of the program.

The service began with family members bringing in items and setting up an altar of things Roger loved. I liked that detail.

Along with the full mass came singing along with “Shiver Me Timbers” by Tom Waits. After the service, we went to the parish hall to tell stories and eat Roger’s favorite foods: pizza and strawberry shortcake.

I also loved this sculpture at the church.

Farewell to Roger, who lived a good life and left many people who will miss him.

End of the Stove

I did a big clean of the outside of the stove, and the cleaning itself went well, but the stove gave off ominous smoke when I turned on the oven light, and then the oven light wouldn’t turn off. Slightly worried, I pulled out the stove and unplugged it. When I plugged it back in, there was another, more ominous, pop and more smoke. I unplugged it and called it a day.

We could have called for a repair, but it’s already been repaired once and we seem to be in the phase of the repair people coming out and telling us we’re better off buying a new unit. I’d rather skip the $150 charge to learn that.

We went to purchase a new oven and were greeted with the question, “Is this an oven you need now, or one that can arrive in two-to-four months?” With our pretty-much-now timeline, we had two choices. After picking one, we also bought a microwave/hood combo to go in the space where it always has seemed like there should be one, and we also bought a new dishwasher.

The new stove is coming in a few days, the new microwave/hood is coming in 1-2 months, and the new dishwasher is coming in four months.

I think it’s pretty great that I made it to my mid-40s without ever experiencing supply chain issues (other than Cabbage Patch Kids).

Soft Serve Attempt No. 1

I wanted dipped soft serve, so we drove across the bridge to the Dairy Queen in Vancouver. The North Portland Dairy Queen that was closest to us closed, so Washington is our closest option.

While waiting in line, I enjoyed watching the owner of this truck make his own parking spot. The DQ has parking lots on both sides of its building, but that wasn’t quite enough for this fellow.

Alas, they were out of dip, so we both got Blizzards. We will have to return another day.

Profane Graffito That Made Me Laugh

Too bad to much time has passed since I took this picture and I can’t find a geotag for it. I have no idea where this was.

Teslas remind me of the man who runs their company. I haven’t gotten around to writing my screed about Elon Musk and I don’t think he deserves enough of my time to really screed it up, so here’s a short version. Basically, he occupies the same part of my brain that Donald Trump does. I think he bloviates, he’s a terrible person who doesn’t stick to his own standards, thinks much too highly of himself, and has no actual effect on my life other than annoying me.

I also hate how both men have hoards of people who think they are amazing and will not hear otherwise. Both dudes are in the way way back of the Amazing line. I’d actually put them in the Lesser Mediocre Realm.

There once was a time when I thought about Donald Trump about once per year. I’d like to go back to that frequency of thought. There was once a point (and not really that long ago) when I asked Matt, “Is there someone named Elon Musk?” because I wasn’t entirely sure.

Anyway, this chalk on wall summed up my mood.

Goodbye to 6546 N. Maryland Avenue

It’s time to bid this house goodbye. Portland Maps tells me it was built in 1941, is just over 3,000 square feet, and has two baths. It’s a pretty little house built in that storybook style right before midcentury took over. There are great examples of this in North Portland between Ainsworth and Rosa Parks. This one is low key, but still there.

Here’s a sunny-day picture I grabbed from Google Maps

This property is being deconstructed, of course, because it’s on a large lot in an area near transit where it makes sense to build multifamily units. As we can see this lot will have two buildings (a cheat by the developer to avoid the affordable housing edict) and have 30 total units and no parking.

The section of land bordered by the Interstate Fred Meyer to the North, Rosa Parks to the South, I-5 to the west and Interstate to the east, is slowly being converted to a solid tract of multifamily units with no parking. As I’ve said before, I think this is a mistake and makes for dangerous street conditions for walking, biking, and driving.

This property also (I think) hits a new milestone for this blog. It sold in March of this year for a cool $1,000,000. It’s last sale was for $399,000 in 2010, and it was an affordable $181,560 in 2001, when I first moved to Portland.

Goodbye little house. I will miss your fairy tale charm.

Fully Loaded in the Costco Parking Lot

Among the many things I hate about going to Costco is parking. I usually park very close to the end of the parking lot. And that gives me a nice long walk and a close-up look at interesting things in the lot such as this RV that was primed for adventure.

At least one of those bikes is an ebike, and it looks like there are at least five (and maybe as many as seven?) types of boards that go in the water. That’s a lot of cash, just riding on the back of the vehicle.

Peggy’s Sunday Brunch Double Feature

The song “Forever Young” came into my life in the spring of 1991, when I was a sophomore in high school, and the seniors were getting ready to wrap up and head off into their futures. I first heard the Alphaville version, and it seemed like a kind of timeless song. With several decades of hindsight, I can tell it wasn’t a terribly old song. It screams early 80s. The internet tells me it’s from 1984.

But it’s the kind of song that does well with covers and I enjoyed both versions that Peggy LaPoint played. And you can listen to them too!

I enjoy when the Sunday Brunch playlist doesn’t have an album cover for the song playing. Hip and obscure.

Habitat for Humanity Homes Built

For the first time in a long time, there isn’t a movable shed sitting in the church parking lot near my house. That must mean that the Habitat for Humanity homes are finished. Now I wonder what will become of the house that sits between the church and the new homes.

Here’s the end product. The second building built is on the left side of the photo.