Hooky with a Selkie

My kind of place
My part of town
Yesterday I played a little hooky with my writing partner the Selkie. (She refers to me as her “bad angel” during these jaunts.) We hopped on out to City Liquidators, which is absolutely one of the weirder places in Portland. It’s tucked right up against a flying freeway, and the pavement there remembers much older days. There was a man sitting on the elevated sidewalk outside, holding a deep, intricate conversation with the closed window of a police cruiser. We gathered that before that, he’d been talking to the closed window of a silver Chevy sedan. Harmless, really.

Want some gigantic metal figs?
Want some gigantic metal figs?
City Liquidators is hard to explain. They have pretty much everything, including all sorts of office furniture and supplies. You can get lost in there, and it’s funky and turn-you-around-sort-of-organised. We found what we were after, and a bunch of stuff we weren’t. Of course, with the Selkie and I, there’s always all sorts of stories buried in the odd corners. We wonder who used things before, we play “what-if,” and the conversation wanders from porcelain to plot holes with gigantic steps and sideways leaps.

A maze of chairs
A maze of chairs
As we came out, the Selkie, with a gleam in her eye, said “We’re right near Mother Foucault’s. You HAVE to see it. Come on.”

It was a couple blocks away–a different country, given the nature of urban geography–and as soon as we stepped inside I let out a breath of wonder. It’s my kind of bookshop–the instant I looked at the general lit section, I found a copy of Donoso’s The Obscene Bird of Night, which I’ve lent out but wanted back in my collection. Lit crit, history, philosophy–I was going through the shelves going “I have that edition…oooooh, they have thus-and-such…oh my God, I’ve been looking for this FOR FOREVER…oh, Mel, I need more time…oh God I have to buy this…” Of course the Selkie grinned her evil little grin, she’s been wanting to get me in there for a while. The owners are just as sweet as pie, and lovely people–we discussed Kieslowski and Donoso, as well as Braudel, and it was geek heaven for yours truly. Word to the wise, though–turn your damn cell phones on silent when you go in there, please.

Walking back, we noticed someone had pitched a tent under the freeway. They had obviously cleaned up the space around it, too–there was no litter or detritus. I wished them well, and hoped they wouldn’t get turned out of their safe little niche.

Then we popped out to Hawthorne. Chopsticks is closed, alas, but the Thai place where it used to be (Samui Thai) is a worthy successor. Their green curry is quite acceptable, even if just slightly too heavy on the eggplant, and their jasmine tea is lovely and fragrant.

Oh, the Gold Door...
Oh, the Gold Door…
There was also a trip to the Gold Door, but we didn’t step into Powell’s. I mean, we could have, but I’d already blown my book budget for the month in a HYOOOOJ way at Mother Foucault’s. A quick stop at Pastaworks, where a nice young man from Three Little Figs was there with their wares. I got a couple jars for the Selkie, and hopefully she’ll have a review of them in the near future.

I really like it when people are excited about their tiny little handcrafted things, and I like preserves, although not to the extent the Selkie does. Pastaworks also has a marvelous selection of chocolate, which was a must for various reasons, including hormonal ones. We are still on the quest for the perfect salted choco–it needs to have chunks of salt all through it, not just merely on the surface. It’s one of those quests where the journey is the entire reason even though the destination is nice too. Likewise, getting home to catalog my new treasures was a wonderful feeling.

The day was not over yet. The Little Prince had a choir concert after dinner, during which the audience got a little rowdy. The choir director, though, smiled gently as she picked up the microphone after a particularly loud bout of calling names and cheering. “I know you love your children, and I love them too,” she said, firmly. “But we work very hard on performance and audience etiquette as a part of our class, and I know you can all provide a good example. We need to teach our children the difference between a sporting event and a concert. Thank you.”

I couldn’t help myself. I started clapping. Apparently a lot of other people felt the same way, because the director received a rousing round of applause. Thank heavens for that.

So, and so. I fell into bed exhausted last night, and quite rightly so. But all the holiday shopping is done, and I got to hang out with the Selkie and talk writing, always a good thing that feeds my internal workings. It’s back to the grindstone today, feeling better for a small holiday.

Time to get Wednesday’s words out…

Notify of

Going to Portland and not visiting Powell’s is like frying bacon and not eating any.

Colleen Champagne

Why did I think you lived in Vancouver? Sounds like my kind of city. I will be heading there as part of my summer Seattle trip and now can add to my list of places to see.

Michael Mock

Kudos to the choir director.


when I am back to driving that Mde Foucaults sounds like a bad place to hang out..