Bookshop Adventures

photo 1It’s true, we are taking over ownership of a small, mostly used bookshop in downtown Olympia on Wednesday. We have been working on this for months and months now and it feels so good to say yes, this is what we are doing! This is for sure a family project. Chris and Mendy are involved. I am going to be running this thing and Telfer is helping me with a lot of financial and operational details. Telfer and I love a project (how many times have I said this?) but this has trumped all in terms of details and obstacles.

Browsers Bookshop has been in downtown Olympia since 1935. I am (I think) the fourth owner — all of which have been women. The current owner, J, has been at the bookshop before I was born. I really like her. She is staying until the end of December to show me the ropes. In January, we will start a renovation of sorts. And then maybe a party is in order? Stay tuned. The bookshop has lovely bones (ahem) but really needs updating and a fresh beginning.

So this is the project I have been alluding to all spring and summer. I am of course NOT quitting my day job at the library although I did move down to .5 and so your kind thoughts and prayers would not be amiss as we navigate this new adventure.

My girls will grow up in a bookshop. This is going to be complicated and all of that but I get to mess about with books all day long. Can you even imagine how much fun this will be? I will write about this on the blog a bit but I am mostly going to use my instagram account (and link it to Facebook) to document the process.

Any words of advice? Right now, not unwelcome at all.


cozy type of work day
It’s the second to last day of September and I am sitting at my desk in my cozy little office wearing a sweater and drinking tea. It’s raining outside and I am working away on a variety of work projects. More on this later. Telfer should be home soon and I think we will head out to lunch before we pick up Cate promptly at 3:02 pm.
striding forth on her way to school
The last few weeks have zipped on by. I must admit, we are all still figuring out morning schedules. You can read quite a lot into that statement! On a good note though, last Friday was Cate’s school’s Harvest Festival where the kids make the lunch from produce grown in the school gardens. Since our Fall will be crazy, I decided to volunteer for something big right at the beginning of the year: I coordinated parents and helped kindergartners and first graders make 50 (yes, you read that right) pumpkin pies. Yes. The kids roasted the pumpkin, scooped it out, made the pastry, and the filling. It was awesome. I now know most of the kid’s names and some of their parents. Kindergartners cooking is both hysterical and absolutely awesome. One little girl sneezed twice into the bowl of filling. I pretended I didn’t see anything.
cate randomly took this of me on our way out in the morning...
Cate took this picture of me when we were transitioning from dropping Jane off to walking Cate to school. Obviously I was working from home that day but it cracks me up. I had no idea she was a taking a picture and I look so purposeful.
on her fourth birthday
Jane turned four on September 10. When I asked her what she wanted to do for her birthday she said she wanted to play marbles with me. When I asked her what she wanted to eat for her birthday she said cheese and crackers. We can do both Jane! We had cheese and crackers on the boat and then motored out to nearby Boston Harbor for ice cream. Such a sweet four year-old request.
with our min pumpkin haul
Our garden is almost finished for the year. We still have lots of greens and kale but we are pretty much done with zucchini (sigh of relief) and the girls and I harvested our little, ornamental pumpkins last week.
liz and cora and me and cate. my parents
My mom turned 60 this month as well. The whole family gathered in Richland for such a fun weekend. On Friday night all the adults went to a winery for dinner, wine and dancing. At least all the girls danced – I am still cracking up over the memory of Alyssa picking up a tambourine. Then on Saturday, at my mom’s request, we went to the Pendleton Round-up. I was slightly skeptical at the outset but we had the best time. Those cowboys are tough and so much fun to watch.
listening to my favorite person...
Elizabeth took this of me and Telfer at Bookwalter Winery and I have to say, I love this of both of us. I don’t remember exactly what we were talking about but Telfer must be explaining something. I love both listening to him and watching him talk. He’s so himself if that makes sense. Oh, and I got bangs too! I told you I was going to ramble!
station eleven by emily st. john mandel
One last thing though: I finished Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel a weekish ago and it is still drifting through my mind. Even if you think you can’t read one more post-apocalyptic novel, please put this on your list. Mandel seamlessly weaves together stories and time periods and characters in a way that absolutely left me in awe. Yes, this takes place at the collapse of civilization (from a pandemic this time) but there is so much life and beauty in this novel. One of the highlights of my reading year for sure.

The Shelf Project Update

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As my usual, I haven’t reported on this reading project lately. My designated reading shelf is looking emptier but has managed to fill up with other lovely books waiting to be read. As shelves tend to do. The books I l have left to read are, fittingly, on the left.

Here’s the full, updated list here.

Little Bee. Chris Cleave
A heavy-handed novel about a Nigerian orphan and a British couple who meet on a beach with devastating results. I did listen to this and I have to wonder how the delivery changes my interaction with the story, with the writing, with the characters. 

Townie: A Memoir. Andre Dubus III
Affecting memoir of a scrappy, difficult boyhood and young adulthood. While his father was a respected writer and college professor, his kids and ex-wife live in much more difficult circumstances. One of those books I would have never read without Powell’s Indiespensable but so glad I did. The opening running scene has stuck with me all summer…so much there.

A Rope and A Prayer: The Story of a Kidnapping. David Rohde & Kristin Mulvihill
In 2008, David Rohde, a New York Times reporter and newlywed, was kidnapped by the Taliban and held for seven months. The book alternates perspectives of David and his wife, Kristin. A fascinating account and I loved the different tones of the chapters – Rhode’s writes of his experience in captivity and includes analysis of various Middle Eastern issues while in Mulvihill’s sections she talks of trying to get her husband back from the Taliban but also, the Manhattan Cosmopolitan photo shoot of a persnickety Gossip Girl actress. Absolutely bizarre juxtapositions of both author’s very real experiences. 

Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm. Philip Pullman
Cate and I read a good chunk of these tales together. She loved many of the tales, even the dark and gory ones, and I appreciated the notes after each tale discussing provenance and artistic license, etc. There’s isn’t a clunker in the whole collection. I will read pretty much anything Pullman writes

Also, you can tell I have had a stressful few weeks because last night I stayed up way too late reading Persuasion, my go-to reread novel when I am feeling overwhelmed. Once Anne and Captain Wentworth are together (but not together) in Bath, I am a goner.

Last Days of Summer

late afternoon on the water

In a somewhat backwards move, we had our first boating day of the summer on Labor Day. Yes. Oh, did I not tell you our boat sank Titanic-style at the end of last September? The bilge pump apparently failed in an early-fall storm. And so Telfer has been trying all spring and summer to either get the boat fixed OR to dump it before he spent too much money fixing an old boat. It was a process. I maybe wasn’t my most sympathetic. I was also a bit of a nervous nellie on our first outing – can you imagine sinking in the middle of the sound with two little girls on board? Well, I could and I was nervous. Poor Telfer! All went beautifully however and we did a little jaunt to Boston Harbor from downtown late afternoon on Labor Day. And it was beautiful. The girls had ice cream and played in the sand. Telfer and I shared a bottle of white wine. Lovely evening. Felt like an imperfectly perfect end to our summer.
walrus and the carpenter
Liz took me to the Walrus and the Carpenter in Ballard for a birthday dinner. I have been wanting to go for what seems like forever. We were there for opening (4:00 PM) and so we didn’t have a wait at all. The oysters, both raw and fried, were amazing. Shellfish is pretty much my favorite food. I also recreated one of the salads we had – greek yogurt, shaved, raw zucchini, pumpkin seed oil and sesame seeds. Doesn’t sound like much? Somehow, it feels really special. It also makes one less zucchini around here…
holy zucchini
Speaking of zucchini, our garden has continued to do quite well. If you come over to my house there is a good chance you will leave with a zucchini (or three). We have grilled it, shaved it raw and pretended like it’s pasta, we have sautéed it, we have made fritters and soup and salad. This weekend I am going to attempt to can zucchini. I would have to say my favorite recipe from the Summer of Zucchini was sautéed zucchini with mint, basil and nuts (I used hazelnuts rather than the suggested pine nuts. I hate pine nuts – I feel like they go bad as soon as I buy them so I have stopped buying them). I also make a lot of homemade ricotta so this dinner was just beyond fresh and good. Our kitchen does however get intense early evening light (ahem, heat with no air conditioning) so after I stopped sweating from making this I really loved it.

First Day of School

Cate started full-day Kindergarten yesterday. Jane started her first year (of two) of Pre-K on Tuesday. These pictures kill me. Of course I was the weakest link in the three – definitely harder on mom than kids! I went to work right after drop-off and proceeded to be worthless It feels like such a milestone to have a girl in elementary school. If only we could figure out a morning schedule. Today, particularly, was a little on the rough side. Drop-offs in two locations and work of my own definitely makes everything complicated. Hoping this all feels normal soon – Maybe by the end of next week?

funny girls
think this kid is ready for K?
girls on first day of school
girls on first day of school

A Week at the Beach

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Highlights of a week at the beach:

  • Eleanor. Our girls, especially Cate, love Aunt Ellie and to have her for a whole week? Pretty special. Chris and Mendy were also in Cannon Beach for part of the week. 
  • Celebrating birthdays. Both Eleanor and I had a birthday. In an extravagant moment, Telfer had lobster rolls delivered from Dean & DeLuca. Ridiculous. I loved it! Best present ever!
  • Arch Cape. We enjoyed staying in this small area about three miles south of Cannon Beach. It was quiet and residential and we didn’t mind a bit being off the beaten track. 
  • EVOO. We went on Eleanor’s birthday with Chris & Mendy. A wonderful local woman stayed with the girls (two years in a row) while we went to a Fresh Market Buffet Show at the cooking school. Telfer, Eleanor and I were seated at a high corner table, a bit separate from everyone else. Basically, we were at a kids table and subsequently behaved accordingly. Lots of laughing and not listening. But we had such a good time and the food was as usual, absolutely wonderful.
  • The hot pool. The girls enjoyed swimming in the hot pool (tub) at the house we rented more than anything else we did all week. We turned the temperature way down and they swam for hours. 
  • Usual suspects: Of course we built sandcastles, walked on the beach, hiked a little, collected lots of “treasure”, ate ice cream and salt water taffy and at Fort George Brewery (twice), read for hours and basically never lost sight nor sound of the ocean for seven days. Absolutely my favorite week of the year.  

And there goes August

trees & ocean

It’s the 27th of August! I have been meaning to post for the entire month. Every day it’s been on my list and every day I haven’t been able to cross it off. The hardships of the Type A! Ten days ago I took this picture on a wee little hike we did with the girls at the Oregon Coast down to a small cove. Gorgeous. We had the most wonderful time at the beach. Eleanor spent the week with us, we celebrated my birthday, her birthday and did all the usual beach things. For me, the Oregon coast is a magical place. More pictures to follow. 

And now we are back. This week feels like such a transition. Cate starts full-day Kindergarten on Wednesday at the elementary school down the street from us. Getting her into this program has been such a long, boring saga but I am so thrilled I can finally write the previous sentence. I really do think the school administrator got tired of hearing from me and finally gave Cate a full-day spot. I wore her DOWN! We are in the process of getting haircuts and school supplies and longer jeans and new cons (red high tops this year). I love these in-between times even though they make me a bit restless. There’s so much to look forward to – a big schoolgirl, new ventures and schedules and a huge learning curve and the possibility of eating soup and wearing a sweater again. But there’s always a tiny bit of the bittersweet at the end of summer. I can feel the days becoming shorter. My babies are about to turn four and six. The leaves on our street are just barely starting to turn. Dear friends face hard things.

But tonight we are all home together, there will be dinner and baths and bedtime. I am going to do something with zucchini yet again. We also have leftover baguette and homemade ricotta and chilled white wine. It could be worse.