Friday, September 30, 2005

Title Wave Bookstore

Title Wave Bookstore is a great Portland spot--a library sale every day but Sunday. Once you get over the sadness of seeing so many old books being sold off (focusing on the huge number of blockbuster books--such as Harry Potter--decommissioned every day is less painful) something will grab you. Besides books you can find videos, audiotapes, DVDs, LPs, paintings, and magazines here. The 1912 building is also worth checking out--this was the original Albina Branch (the present one is in a strip mall), one of thirty-one Carnegie Libraries in Oregon.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


I've noticed lately that a lot of new restaurants in Portland are less than self-explanatory. This happens at otherwise wonderful places. One new place--a really great place--has you, at lunch, look at the menu at your table, and then go up to the counter to order. But when it's time for dessert you order from your waiter. Who could guess? Another place I lunched at recently put me through the following interchange, after looking at a menu board that read 'pasta...sandwiches':

Me: "What kind of sandwiches do you have?"
He: "We can make what you want."
Me: "Can I get salami?"
He: "We're out of salami now, but I can do something else."

So I really like it that Bar Pastiche, a breakfast-lunch-dinner tapas place that is pretty great, had the smart idea of putting directions up in plain site. I couldn't get them all in the picture, but basically it tells you how to order, when to pay, where to sit, and what to do with your napkins...throw them on the floor, just like in bars in Spain. It makes you feel so much more welcome when you know what to do.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Portland is, after all, the City of Roses. So here, at the end of the summer, is my offering. My roses are a sad lot, spindly, black-spotted, curly leaved messes. But I find they still smell wonderful, and if you take the photo up close they look pretty beautiful. Note the life form on the lower right-hand corner--evidence of a healthy, non-poisoned flower!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

A Sad Picture

This used to be Torrefazione cafe, my local spot to have an early morning coffee with my husband, meet friends, or read a novel in peace. But now it's closed, and the brown paper covering the windows and the pitiful dead plant in the white planter tell the story. If you want to hear more about its demise, check out my other blog, Coffee Salon.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Gotham Scottie

I'm not really a huge fan of dogs, but scotties are different--and the fact that one of the hippest new restaurants in town, Gotham Tavern, uses one for a door pull seems to reinforce that thought!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Powell's Books

Powell's Books is a major Portland attraction--I've seen it referred to as the largest independent bookstore in the US, if not the world--something to cherish. The main store (pictured here) takes up an entire city block and is four stories high. It's easy to forget what a special place Powell's is when you live ten minutes away. I got an idea, though, five years ago, on a trip to New York. There we met an author who, upon hearing we were from Portland, told us how lucky we were to have Powell's--he wished New York City had a comparable bookstore.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Just a reminder...

These signs are starting to pop up around town, but for a year or two I've only known of this one. And I've shamelessly gone out of my way to walk by it as often as possible!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Stumptown Coffee

Portland prides itself on a healthy coffee culture--our homegrown Stumptown is the place many locals consider the best. They roast their own beans, daily, and make great caffelattes (their cappuccinos are not as much to my taste--too dry) with a feather design. I always forget to get a picture before my first sip, but think it's impressive that the design lingers as you enjoy your cup. Their coffee is served in many independent Portland cafes and restaurants as well as the three Stumptown cafes. People here adhere to the 'Friends don't let friends drink Starbucks' line!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Bicycle Bike Racks

I seem to be on an alternative transportation kick! It's just such a big part of Portland, a city that tries hard to be green...
Throughout the city there are bike racks, some reflect the neighboring business or area (the Fremont bridge, for example). I'll post pictures of these later. I assume these yellow bikes are a tribute to Portland's Yellow Bike Project from the early '90s--a hopeful plan, if ever there was one. The idea was to flood the city with one-gear bright yellow bikes. When you came across one, you could ride it to wherever you needed to go, and then leave it for the next lucky person. Unfortunately, the bikes did disappear. But Portland remains a city full of cyclists.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Mosaic House

This is the basement entry into a house I think of as 'the mosaic house'. Located in Southeast Portland, in a neighborhood that is getting fixed up in a good way--you can't quite call it gentrifying, I think, but more labors of love. This house's concrete foundation is covered with mosaic work, all the way around. Banisters are made out of old instruments and bicycle chains, whimsical touches abound, such as the cast aluminum cob of corn as a finial of the gate. Always something fun to look at!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Go By Streetcar

Here's a picture of the 'Go By Streetcar' sign on a newish building in the Pearl...It's about four blocks from the train station, though you can't see one from the other.

Streetcars returned to Portland in 2001, a first in the modern streetcar era in North America. The line crosses Max (the city's light rail system) downtown, making easier connections to Portland State University and NW 23rd, a popular shopping neighborhood.

Portland's new streetcars came from the Czech Republic, and when the line opened the city celebrated by bringing in Czech performance artists for a fair all along the streetcar line. Inside the Czech-built cars are photos of Czech streetcars--my husband, who's from the Czech Republic, stepped onto a car for our first ride, looked at the photo, and told me it was of the streetcar he used to ride to school.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Tree Gnome

It's true, gnomes are pretty cutesy. But I'm kind of attached to this one in my neighborhood. For one thing, it was already sitting in a big old maple tree when I walked my now eighteen-year-old daughter to her first day of kindergarten. Then there are the little surprises occasionally hidden alongside...A freed book, complements of BookCrossing , and once--at the beginning of the war in Iraq--the gnome held up a sign: "Wars are not healthy for gnomes and other living creatures". Last year my daughter celebrated the long awaited World Series Championship of the Boston Red Sox by giving the gnome a little Red Sox pennant to hold. And finally, he reminds me of all the freed gnomes in 'Amelie'--I wonder if a postcard bearing his picture has been sent to anyone? Consider this a high tech postcard.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Go By Train!

Please go by train! Here's Portland's handsome Union Station, located on the banks of the Willamette River, just north of downtown Portland, and just east of the newly popular Pearl District. The 'Go By Train' sign is one of Portland's icons, and seems now--more than ever--an important reminder. Amtrak is always teetering on the brink of total shutdown, but a trip on the train remains, for my money, just about the most romantic way to see the US. I've traveled cross country a couple times on the train, and always enjoy the leisurely journey. What a treat to watch Glacier Park out the window, or to wake up to views of pelicans on the Columbia River. And detraining into one of the big stations always makes me feel as if I've just stepped out of a 1940s movie.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Cairns in Portland

Cairns in Portland--another find on a walk, courtesy of 'Portland Hill Walks'. This walk was the Sellwood loop, a walk that takes you along the Willamette River, across Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, along the bluffs above the river (right now they are covered with the hazy blue of ripening elderberries), and into the neighborhoods. Sellwood, like many other Portland neighborhoods, is full of handsome old homes--small and large--, magnificent old trees (chestnuts, copper beeches, etc.) and quirky yards--like this one.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Buried Truck

My husband and I first discovered this truck, forgotten and overgrown with blackberries, while on a walk under the Fremont Bridge freeway approaches (on the eastside of the Willamette). We've been taking weekend walks described in Laura Foster's 'Portland Hill Walks'.The walks are great--they wind through hilly neighborhoods, past early mansions, into the edges of Portland's Forest Park, under freeway onramps and past ungentrified sections of town. Along the way, you get a little Portland history, geology, plant info--a nice mix for someone who needs some basics.