Posts Tagged: Peter Cameron

Batman, cupcake reading, trees

The middle day of a three-day weekend is a beautiful thing. Sanguinity and I went to our favorite coffee shop and ate this:
breakfast sandwich and lunch special from Pieper Cafe
and I drew Batman (a bit Loki-ish now that I think of it):
Batman as drawn by Holly in a spiral notebook
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Last week I started reading Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and did not want to stop til it was (sadly) over! (But there’s going to be a sequel!) It has a bit of a Little Women vibe, with three close sisters and the boy next door. It’s about family and friendship as well as romance, and the characters were likeable, good kids just trying to figure stuff out. Even the mean girl was not that mean and had an understandable motivation based on the characters’ past interactions. It’s the kind of sweet comfort reading I call a cupcake, light and well written.

I was a little taken aback at how much of my pleasurable sigh as I got into this book was based on the setting of universal affluence. I mean, starting on page two, the characters are talking about a possible trip to Paris over spring break. And when they decorate their Christmas tree, it’s “We run out of lights, so Daddy goes to buy more at the store.” (I grew up middle class, but you unwind the lights and redo them with more space between the rows!) It’s not a gossip-girl type thing where conspicuous wealth and glamour are what the book’s offering; it’s a shiny, normalized wealth where teenagers have cars and no one thinks twice about ordering pizza delivery once a week. I love it when books show working-class families (Ramona and her Father, Please Ignore Vera Dietz), but apparently I love this too, in a different way. Maybe it’s nostalgia for Nancy Drew and her roadster, or the baby-sitters in Stoneybrook? Some kind of relaxing escapism going on.

At the same time, I happened to have also just started Dani Shapiro’s Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life in a desultory way. (It’s my backup bus book, in case I finish my book on the bus, or don’t feel like reading my regular bus book. Not an exalted position in my book hierarchy.) Weirdly, the unremarked-on affluence in that book made me grouchy and resentful! She buys a pricey chaise longue “covered in an antique Tibetan blanket” because why? Because “although I have an office in my home, it had grown stale. My desk was piled high with papers, mail, and various forms that had nothing to do with my writing life.” A few pages later, she’s like, “I can’t imagine what my UPS delivery guy thinks when I crack open the door to sign for a package. There’s that weird lady again.” Um, he thinks you don’t have to go to a job. Right? By this time I was pretty much hate-reading (“On my desk, propped between two Buddha-head bookends,” grrrr), until on page 47 I came to: “my friend Peter Cameron.” What? Really? Well. Just in case they really are friends and I am missing something, I will quit with the judgey and keep reading to learn something. I’ll let you know.
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Yesterday Sanguinity and I went on a Heritage Tree Walk down in Sellwood. The rain was coming down like it meant business, but there were still about a dozen of us there, led by an arborist and an AmeriCorps volunteer and someone from the city’s street tree program. We saw a gorgeous pair of American Chestnuts that escaped the blight, a big Oregon white oak, and an amazing huge European Copper Beech in a big yard. But one of the coolest things was when one of the leaders started measuring the trees that were on public property or in the planting strip between sidewalk and street with a diameter tape!
diameter tape for measuring trees
It’s a cloth tape with a little crank for winding it up again after use, and each “inch” on the tape is actually 3.14 (or so) inches long. So you measure around the tree and the number on the tape is the diameter. I wish every kid learning about pi and circles could play with one, it is so pleasingly concrete.

At the end of class we got a booklet with maps and descriptions of every heritage tree in Portland. And an application in the back in case you know a tree you think should be designated. (They’re pretty choosy, accepting only about 25% of applicants.) So we are equipped for a project if we ever want to go visit them all. :)

a few bullet points

  • To my surprise, I was invited to a Jeopardy audition after all! I wasn’t really feelin’ it once dates and travel budgets got real, but it’s nice to be asked.
  • Last night I cut up a bunch of fruit for a training I was helping with this morning, and put it in the car to keep it cool overnight because there wasn’t enough room in the fridge. Sure enough, the car was prowled overnight…but they didn’t take the fruit. Who doesn’t want 25 bucks’ worth of delicious precut fruit?! The trunk was open and stuff was thrown around, but all that was missing were the Shell gift cards that had been in the glove compartment. A ball cap was left behind in the driver’s side footwell. It has duct tape on the front and on the duct tape is written REDNECK. I don’t want it, so I’m srsly thinking of hanging it on the fence near where the car was parked, in case Car Prowler wants it back.
  • Sanguinity and I have gotten up to nine miles in our marathon training walks, which means on Saturday evening we walked from our house down to Sellwood Riverfront Park and home again. I heard a pair of mourning doves from the Springwater Trail. Next week’s assignment is a modest four miles, so maybe a hike at Angel’s Rest?
  • I’m reading Peter Cameron’s Coral Glynn. It’s a quiet book, but this scene at an awkward wedding luncheon made me laugh:

    The bridal party arrived, and when they were all correspondingly seated, a waiter appeared with a magnum of champagne and went round the table, filling everybody’s coupe. He was young and terrified and had apparently been told that each squat glass must be filled to its brim. Everyone sat in silence while this feat was slowly and painstakingly achieved. Little beads of quivering perspiration appeared on the waiter’s forehead. Watching him was like watching a medical student suture a wound.

    When the waiter had scurried out of the room, Robin stood and attempted to raise his glass, but its brimming abundance made this impossible, so he bent down and sipped preventatively from it, and, so tamed, managed to hold it before him. “A toast,” he said, “to Clement and Coral: May their days be long and their loads be light, with peaceful days and fruitful nights!”

    Everyone agreed to this toast by leaning over and sipping in a delicate feline way at their champagne.

  • Supposed to ride my bike to work tomorrow, as I resolved to do once a week for the PSU Bike to Work Challenge that’s happening all this month. Last time, I tried using only one gear to see if I’d like a single-speed bike. I got off and walked uphill twice on my way home. This time, I will try using three gears. I think Portland has a club for riders of three-speeds.

    Basically, I act like I should get a medal for riding to work: I am willing to do it if there is lots of praise and prize drawings and preferably a free breakfast involved. After this month I’ll be reading my book on the bus again.