Blogs

Photo of John McLoughlin
Are you studying Portland history? Read on to learn more about famous Portland residents, past and present.

Long before white settlers arrived on the Oregon Trail, the Portland area was home to the Multnomah people, a band of the Chinook Tribe. One of their leaders was Chief Kiesno (sometimes spelled Cassino).  Tragically, many of the native inhabitants of our area died from diseases brought by the Europeans.

John McLoughlin is often called the Father of Oregon. He moved to the area in 1824 and established Fort Vancouver just north of Portland. Later, his general store in Oregon City became the last stop on the Oregon Trail.

Photo of Abigail Scott Duniway
By 1845, Francis Pettygrove and Asa Lovejoy owned land in the area and flipped a coin to choose an official name. Pettygrove won the two out of three tosses, and since he was from Portland, Maine, he chose to name the new city after his hometown.

Abigail Scott Duniway is famous for fighting for women’s rights, especially the right to vote. After many tries, she finally succeeded in Oregon in 1912.  Intriguingly, Abigail’s brother, Harvey Scott, editor of The Oregonian newspaper, was opposed to letting women vote. This blog post will introduce you to other important women in Portland’s history.

McCants Stewart was the first African American lawyer in Portland and started a newspaper, The Advocate. Dr. DeNorval Unthank is well-known for his role in fighting for civil rights for African Americans and was named Doctor of the Year in 1958. A park in North Portland is named for him. 

Some other famous Portlanders include children’s author Beverly Cleary, Matt Groening (creator of The Simpsons), and Phil Knight, the co-founder of Nike.

For more information on famous residents of Portland, visit the Oregon History Project’s biography page, or search the Oregon Encyclopedia.

Still have questions? Contact a librarian for help!

Juliet Takes a Breath book cover
You know that moment when you are reading a book that you realize somehow mirrors your own life? For me that book is Gabby Rivera's Juliet Takes A Breath. Like many young folks I was intent on escaping the town that I had called home for most of my life and wanted to discover myself in someplace new. At some point my attention turned to moving west, and about 12 years ago I finally found my new home in Portland.  Juliet Milagros Palante has always called the Bronx her home, but she has her sights set on Portland. Before she leaves home, Juliet must do one thing, come out to her family. While eating dinner with her loved ones, a few hours before she is about to board the plane that will take her from the east coast to the west, she reveals her truth. Although her mother will not speak to her Juliet begins her journey to a strange new land. Juliet has a plan: figure out what it means to be queer and brown while spending the summer in Portland interning with Harlowe Brisbane, the author of one of her favorite books. In this candid coming-of-age story, Juliet discovers herself as a feminist and as a queer Latinx, finds a her community and falls in love.
Cunt: a Declaration of Independence
 
The fictional author, Harlow Brisbane, wrote a book that strikes a chord with Juliet, opening her up to the world of feminism.  Like Juliet, my introduction to feminism, radical politics and the Pacific Northwest came in the form of an eye opening book by Inga Muscio, Cunt: A Declaration of Independence. While this wasn't the first book about feminism that I had read, it was the first one that did not have an academic tone. It was a book that was passed around among my group of friends, sparked frank and often hilarious discussions, and changed the way that I moved in my female body. And like Harolow Brisbane's fictional feminist tome, Cunt: A Declaration of Independence is the kind of title that would make some passersby uncomfortable. Gotta love a book that has that kind of power!

 

There are some psychological suspense books that are even better to listen to. 

In the early years, our city was called The Clearing, but in 1845, landowners Francis Pettygrove and Asa Lovejoy flipped a coin to choose an official name. Pettygove came from Portland, Maine, and Lovejoy was from Boston, Massachusetts. Pettygrove won two out of three tosses, and so our city is Portland. This slide show will show you how Portland grew from 1851-1900.

Photo of Pioneer Courthouse Square
Here are some of the historic places that make Portland special:

  • Benson Bubblers: These four-bowl drinking fountains are unique to Portland.
  • Pioneer Courthouse Square has been a school, a hotel, and a parking lot but is now considered the city’s “living room.”  
  • The Portlandia statue is the second-largest copper repoussé sculpture in the U.S. (The largest is the Statue of Liberty.)
  • Skidmore Fountain was designed to be a source of drinking water for people, horses and dogs.
  • The Pittock Mansion was the home of Henry Pittock, who arrived in Oregon penniless on a wagon train in 1853.

Because of the many bridges crossing the Willamette River, one of Portland’s nicknames is Bridgetown. Some of the bridges that connect the east side to downtown are more than 100 years old!

Photo of Lewis and Clark Exposition
What did Portlanders in the past do for fun? The Rose Festival, which still happens every June, started in 1904. The next year, Portland hosted the Lewis and Clark Centennial Expositionwhich attracted more than 1.6 million visitors. Children liked to visit the amusement parks at Oaks Park and Jantzen Beach.

You know it rains a lot in Portland, but did you know that our city has often flooded? In the flood of 1894, downtown Portland was flooded and people got around in boats. In 1948, the Vanport flood destroyed a housing area that was home to many African Americans.

For more information on Portland history, view the past and present photos at Portland Then and Now or check out the city’s Portland Timeline.

Here's a video that shows some of the changes in Portland:

 

Still have questions? Contact a librarian for help!

There are a couple of flavors I like in Highlander romance -- I enjoy the ones that are straight up historical; but mmm, a Highlander story especially if it involves time travel? Yes! Maybe you have seen the new Outlander television series? Guess what? It's based on a book!

The story starts with Mrs. Claire Randall on her second honeymoon in the Highlands of Scotland. It’s 1945 and she's a former combat nurse who has taken up the hobby of botany to fill her free time. She is gathering plants at the stone circle Craigh na Dun when she is transported through time to 1743, and finds herself in the midst the fighting prior to the Jacobite uprising of 1745.

This first novel of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon is a passionate romance with depictions of wartime violence, and steamy sex scenes. If you're squeamish about these things this isn't for you. Presented in the context of the times, these details give the story historical resonance. I found comic relief in Claire’s swearing. She doesn’t swear like a sailor but she swears like a healthy woman dealing with brawny men, exciting, brutal times, and frustration. I don’t know about you, but if I was a fish out of water I might swear a lot too.  If romance, brawny men in kilts and time travel are among your favorite flavors too, there's more to explore in my list, Scottish highland romances.

 

The Library is Like Falling Into Heaven
Volunteer Carla Lang

by Sarah Binns

Carla Lang is one of those people with whom you can start talking about books and look up from your conversation to find two hours have passed without your knowledge. The phrase “voracious reader” can be overused, but in Carla's case it is true. It’s a lifelong trait: “When I was growing up my dream was to be locked away in the library. As long as there was a store nearby,” she adds, pragmatically.

Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, Carla later drove her VW bus all the way to Alaska - and stayed for forty years. When she and her husband moved to Nome in the early '70s, the local library association was little more than a women's social club. “Over a period of a few years we transformed into a working association with an eye toward a true lending library that was funded by the city,” she explains. Through their efforts, library funding was eventually secured, and Nome's Kegoayah Kozga Public Library continues to this day.

Shortly after Carla and her husband moved from Nome to an apartment above the Sellwood Library in 2006, she noticed a sign soliciting volunteers. She started as a paging list volunteer in 2007, pulling items that patrons have put on hold. On her inaugural day, Carla was dismayed to locate only a few of the books on the 100-book list. “It turns out it was the previous day's list!” she laughs. She says the paging list is “the ultimate Easter egg hunt” and intends to go on doing this task.

Carla also volunteers with Words on Wheels, a Library Outreach Services program which delivers books to those unable to go to the library. She's been with some of her patrons for two years now and still enjoys bringing them book suggestions. When it comes to the library and reading, Carla says, “It's like falling into heaven. I never mind waiting in lines because I always have a book with me. As long as I have a book, I'm fine.”


A Few Facts About Carla

Home library: Sellwood Library

Currently reading: The Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson

Books that made you laugh or cry: Dave Barry's books make her laugh; “I try to avoid books that make me cry,” she says, "but The Art of Racing in the Rain was one that did."

Most influential book: Probably Lord of the Rings; “I always go back to it, I've read it at least 14 times.”

Guilty pleasure: “All books are guilty pleasures! But probably my science fiction.”

Favorite book from childhood: Little Women, Uncle Tom's Cabin, “and a story about a young girl in the Revolutionary War that I can't remember the title of!”

Favorite section to browse: New books, graphic novels, and staff picks

E-reader or paper books: Paper, though e-books are a nice option when on the go.

Favorite place to read: In bed in the morning with a cup of coffee or a chair in her apartment loft with good light.

Thanks for reading the MCL Volunteer Spotlight. Stay tuned for our next edition coming soon! Read last month's Volunteer Spotlight.

Laura booktalks Salsa, Jorge Argueta

No time to read?: Magic realism in under an hour

For a short read you could finish over a cup of coffee, try Carlos Fuentes's Aura.

Victoria Jamieson; photo: Herminio Jacome
Victoria Jamieson is the author and illustrator of  books for children, including the Newbery Honor book Roller Girl. Along with writing and illustrating, she teaches children's book illustration at Pacific Northwest College of Art.

A good percentage of my childhood was spent at the library. When my brothers and I were young, my mom helped organize the summer reading program at our local library outside of Philadelphia. I created many a diorama based on books during those summers. A few years later, my mom started working there as a children’s librarian where, much to our chagrin, she seemed to learn all of the gossip in town (“So, I hear you’re dating so-and-so!”)

The most formative books for me as a kid were the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. I related to her so much -- she seemed like a real kid. I appreciated the fact that her family worried about money, and her dad worried about finding a job. It reassured me to no end to read about kids facing real-life situations. I can’t tell you how many times I read those books. They MAY have been a factor in my deciding to move to Portland.

Other childhood favorites included Anne of Green Gables and all of the Roald Dahl, but especially The BFG.  That book inspired a lifetime of whizpopper jokes. I love re-reading childhood favorites. I teach a continuing education class in writing and illustrating children’s books at Pacific Northwest College of Art, and I always recommend re-reading old favorites. It’s fascinating to read them from an adult perspective, and if you want to write children’s books yourself, it’s a great way to remember what you loved about reading as a child.

Here’s a list of my recent favorites:
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
This was the last book that made me cry — like, a deep, body-shaking sob. If you like a body-shaking sob as much as I do, this is the book for you.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
As soon as I read this book, I knew it would be a book I would read to my kids someday. It’s just a book you want to share. Now I just need to wait for my son to be old enough.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
You just have to read it. It’s an amazing book.

Ida B by Katherine Hannigan
This book is both laugh-out-loud funny and cry-out-loud touching. Be careful where you read this one; I was reading it on the subway in New York when I started ugly crying.

A few more:

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

El Deafo by Cece Bell

One Crazy Summer by Rita Willams-Garcia

Get even more reading recommendations hand-picked for you by My Librarian.

Job search image

If you're looking for work and aren't sure where to start, consider these top sites that will help you begin your job search, network with others find out when jobs in your area of interest open up.

OregonLive: Best Local Jobs
Take a look at the Oregonian’s online employment classified section.

 

Craigslist - Portland, OR

Craigslist isn't just for getting a couple of bucks for selling that old futon in your basement - you'll also find lists of local jobs in a wide-variety of categories. Here's a great article on getting the most out of Craigslist for your job search.

Mac's List

Craig isn't the only one with a list - this is a newsletter and website that posts jobs, internships and volunteer opportunities from hundreds of Portland Metro and greater Oregon non-profits, public agencies, and private employers. It also offers a resource page with recommended books, career coaches and more.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a profession-focused network that allows you to link to people you know and network with those who know them. Its job board allows you to post your resume and it also includes a browser toolbar widget that can help connect you with your targeted employer. Still not sure what LinkedIn is or how it can with your job search? Take a look at LinkedIn's job searching tips and here are some tips from Forbes that LinkedIn won't tell you.

Indeed 

Indeed allows you to set up searches and have the results emailed to you daily and/or pushed to you via RSS. Easy to limit to a particular location. As with LinkedIn, this site also lets you post your resume.

City of Portland Jobs | Multnomah County Jobs | Metro JobsClackamas County Jobs | Washington County Jobs | Clark County Jobs
Search for government employment in the Portland Metro area.

State of Oregon's Employment Department Job Search

Search for jobs throughout the state - use the advanced search to limit to a wage per hour, occupational group and more.

WorkStep

WorkStep is a job search platform helping hourly workers in Oregon and Washington find jobs in industries such as warehouse, production, skilled trades and trucking.

Kleeman book cover
"A woman’s body never really belongs to herself. As an infant, my body was my mother’s, a detachable extension of her own, a digestive passage clamped and unclamped from her body. My parents would watch over it, watch over what went into and out of it, and as I grew up I would be expected to carry on their watching by myself. Then there was sex, and a succession of years in which I trawled my body along behind me like a drift net, hoping that I wouldn’t catch anything in it by accident, like a baby or a disease. I had kept myself free of these things only through clumsy accident and luck. At rare and specific moments when my body was truly my own, I never knew what to do with it."

What is a body and what is it for?  Something to be improved?  Something to be managed?  Something to be disciplined?  Something to be saved?  Something to be remodeled?  Something to set free?  Something to be destroyed?  Alexandra Kleeman's debut novel You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine does a remarkable job of tracking one young (presumably white) woman's body's movement in and through late capitalism.  As much as A - the novel's narrator - tries to escape or resolve her body's contradictions, all she can eventually do is document the various ways her body is seen and reflected.  At every turn, up against every potential escape route - roommate B who spends the first half of the book attemping to become A, boyfriend C who watches porn while they have sex so he might layer "fantasy upon reality upon fantasy," the mirrors she regularly consults for changes in her facial structure, the cult she later joins that prescribes a steady diet of nothing but Kandy Kakes - the possibly edible treats made of nothing ever alive hence nothing actually dead, and finally as a prop in a competitive dating show where real-life lovers test their knowledge of one another or face imposed and permanent separation - A inevitably finds herself simultaneously inside and outside her body, blurred lines never coalescing except in moments of extreme duress.
 
You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine is a surveillance report mapped and composed by the object of surveillance.  Utilizing anorexia as a kind of totalizing metaphor, the novel turns the commodification of bodies inside out but we end up precisely where we began.  Weird, paranoiac, and desperate, You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine mines territories familiar to fans of DeLillo, Pynchon, and Philip K. Dick - an oddly recognizable and spooky map of our current historical moment  where bodies are necessarily quantifiable but ultimately weightless, until the threat of brutal hunger arrives with a sudden flash.

Guild Theater - Portland photo
When you’re driving through the country, do you wonder what’s inside that neglected barn leaning in the distance? When you see a derelict car do you slow down and try to figure out the year, make and model? When passing through the “bad part of town” do you long to go into a boarded up movie theater that still advertises “This year’s Best Picture winner, D ncing wi h Wo ves” on the marquee?

If you answered yes to any of the above, then urban exploration—the act of visiting abandoned man-made places to document the experience—might be something you’d enjoy. Even though they may be called “urban explorers,” as you can see from this example, many of the places they visit may not be in a city. Man-made structures and artifacts are everywhere and have been abandoned everywhere.
Ruined Buick photo


There are some theories out there about why people are drawn to abandoned places, but I don’t know if I’m self-aware enough to pick any one reason that explains my own fascination. In the United States, Detroit has become the poster child for urban decay, but it certainly isn’t alone. Urban explorers have an entire globe to discover and there is an active web presence for those who are interested. It isn’t for everyone, however. These are dangerous places, for many reasons.

Maybe running a gauntlet of armed guards or crawling through a dank ruined building full of bugs and asbestos isn’t appealing. Fortunately, there are those who are not only interested in that sort of adventure but also want to share, so you can vicariously enjoy man-made ruins by visiting the library and checking out one of the great books on this list.

Andy Ricker, the James Beard Award–winning chef behind Pok Pok, lets us know his favorite cookbooks, meals and his thoughts on the Portland food scene.

 

1. Do you have any favorite cookbooks, books or cooking blogs that have inspired you?

Picture of Andy Ricker

"Thai Food" by David Thompson; "The Joy of Cooking"; "The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating" by Fergus Henderson; "White Heat" by Marco Pierre White; "Cous Cous and Other Good Food" by Paula Wolfert.

 

2. What do enjoy most about the Portland food scene?

The dedication the chefs, restaurateurs, farmers, food makers and gatherers have to using local products of the highest quality and being in a community that supports this ethos.

 

3. List your top 2 favorite meals (of all time or even this week).

Last week in Phrae, Northern Thailand, I had an amazing meal of expertly made local food at a restaurant called Jin Sot. The owner is a ninja. A Tai Yai/Shan restaurant near my home here in Chiang Mai reopened after a long hiatus, during which time I was jonesing badly, and much to my relief, the food had not changed at all: delicious egg curry called Khai Oop being my favorite dish.

4. Do you have any library memories to share?
When I was a kid growing up in rural Vermont, we had no TV so reading was our entertainment. We would go to the town library (Jeffersonville) and check out as many books as were allowed per person and devour them over the week.

Inspired to try your hand at Thai cooking? Check out our booklist below for our favorite Thai cookbooks that you can check out from the library. If you are feeling particulary adventerous, try your hand at making the egg curry dish that Andy mentioned, Khai Oop.

 

DEQ map of Air Toxicity in Portland, OR

February 3, 2016, The Mercury recently reported findings of high levels of arsenic and cadmium in the air in SE Portland. Days later, the DEQ released a map that showed many areas throughout Portland to be affected.

If you are wondering, “Should I get tested for arsenic or cadmium poisoning?” this Portland Mercury article cites Dr. Gillian Beauchamp, a Toxicology Fellow at the Oregon Poison Center at OHSU, who offers advice.

A timely resource for updates on current action by Portland residents (meetings, information sharing, etc.) is the Facebook Public Group Inner SE Air Quality. Although the focus is SE Portland, there’s much information about air quality in other areas in the city being shared here too. Inner SE Air Quality is also sharing community-generated/created Google maps of cancers and serious illnessesa map for people that have tested for heavy metal exposure, and a map showing results of soil testing for heavy metals.  Check here for updates on community meetings you can attend. Neighbors for Clean Air Facebook page is another good resource.

If you are interested more broadly about air quality in Portland, check the ToxNet map. Use the Beta version and click on "zoom to a location" then enter an address to see emissions near you. If you click on "more" you can see the levels of toxins a facility reports. This doesn’t report these recent SE Portland findings.

The Oregon Health Authority’s Cancer Registry researches possible clusters in communities. 

Questions? Call, text or email a librarian to get personalized help – or ask the librarian on duty the next time you're at the library.  We will do our best to find the right resource or service for you!

Learning a new language has multiple benefits: you can communicate with people at home and around the world, and at the same time you also exercise your brain.

Although scientific studies vary, there seems to be agreement that learning and speaking multiple languages is good for your gray matter. It may even delay the onset of dementia*. It will certainly improve your je ne sais quoi.

Here are a few of the language learning resources available to you from Multnomah County Library:

  • Mango Connect: This online app is easy to use and full of quick exercises for learning over 50 different languages. You move through lessons at your own pace, and you can spend a lot of time on it or just a little bit each day.
  • Language Exchanges: The library offers in-person language exchange programs in Chinese, French, Spanish, and Vietnamese. These events are intended for both English speakers and English learners. Half of the event is spent practicing in the non-English language, and the other half is spent practicing English. All levels are welcome! These programs are informal, fun, and a great way to meet people in your community.
  • Books: The library has lots of books (and audiobooks) for learning languages! The best way to find these is by asking a librarian - they will guide you to the books and resources that are perfect for you.

For even more language learning ideas, take a look at the library’s Language learning topic page. If someone you know is working on learning or improving their English, be sure to also check out the library’s Learn English webpage.

You’re never too old to learn something new!

*: For more information about the science of languages and the brain, read “Delaying Onset of Dementia: Are Two Languages Enough?” (2014) in the online journal Behavioural Neurology.

Find Out What's Available

Trinity college
It's never too early to start looking for scholarships. The best time of year to start looking is in the summer or early fall. This lets you find programs before their deadlines have passed, and gives you enough time to complete a well-planned application. Many scholarship programs require an essay and recommendations from teachers or other adults who know you, and these take time to prepare.  

There are many scholarships, grants, fellowships, internships and work-study jobs available. You'll likely encounter some common eligibility criteria. These include which state you live in, if you've performed military service, whether you have minority status or a particular nationality or ethnic background, a religious affiliation, or if any of your family members belong to a national or local organization or civic association. If you fit the eligibility criteria, be sure to consider applying! 

Researching

The library is a great place to get started as you research scholarships. Whether you are looking for a scholarship in the humanities, the sciences, the social sciences, or sports, we can help you discover ways to find scholarship awards for higher education. 

The Scholarship Handbook is organized by common eligibility criteria. It lists scholarships based on which state you live in, whether you have performed military service, if you have minority status or come from a particular nationality or ethnic background, if you have a religious affliation, and whether any of your family members belong to a national or local organization or civic association. Each scholarship program is described by eligibility, basis for selection, application requirements, amount awarded, application deadline, and contact information.

 

"Billions of dollars in scholarships, grants and prizes." The Ultimate Scholarship Book organizes awards into categories such as humanities, social science, science and general. You don't need a perfect GPA or financial need to win a scholarship. There are plenty of awards that have none of these requirements.

 

 

College help for teens: More resources for financial aid, admissions, guides, and Study Abroad.

Hello. My name is Matt and I read mysteries.  

I never thought I’d be a mystery reader. It started off with the occasional Agatha Christie title to mix things up. A few years later,  I found myself reading a too cozy for comfort title involving a doughnut shop and recipes.  Things had gone too far. What kind of mystery reader was I? Was I one book away from entering the soft boiled world of J.B. Fletcher?

Luckily, the answer was right in front of me: gay detective novels.  In a literary world with limited LGBTQ characters, it’s exciting to find a likeable protagonist to identify with. Exploring the cast of gay detectives, I was surprised to find a collection of gentlemen larger than expected.

amuse bouche cover

Russell Quant is an everyman living in Saskatchewan. As a handsome rookie private detective in a small city, business can be slow. However, when it gets busy things quickly get out of hand.  His cases take him to exotic locales and always lead back to his Canadian home for a thrilling finale.  His love life is, uh, complicated and has it’s ups and downs.  A quirky cast of friends and family round out the series to keep things interesting.  Start with Amuse Bouche.

book cover rust on razor
What do Scott, a famous baseball pitcher and Tom, a dedicated school teacher have in common? For starters, a penchant for getting in over their heads when mystery comes a calling. The heart of these books is dark, gritty, and reflective of the era in which each of them is written. The series spans twenty years of great change within the LGBTQ community and doesn’t hold back.  Are there schmaltzty moments?  Sure, but reluctant detectives need love too.  Start with “A Simple Suburban Murder” via Interlibrary loan or “Rust on the Razor” available at Multnomah County Library.

These are my favorites of the bunch, but check any of them out.  Each of these mystery series have their own feel.  It’s what makes the genre so much fun to read.  Plus you never know if the perfect pie recipe is on the next page...

Nick Bruel is an author, illustrator and cartoonist, and is known for his series of children's books, Bad Kitty. In his spare time, he collects PEZ dispensers and hangs out with his wife and his cat, Esmerelda.

Nick Bruel photo
[Scene: In front of the mirror, above the sink of a bathroom somewhere in Briarcliff Manor, NY]

Nick: The time is 5:13 am.  I’m standing here inside the downstairs bathroom of Nick Bruel, the world renowned children’s book author and illustrator, parkour master, Amway representative, and long standing member of the Flat Earth Society.  Good morning, Nick. Thank you for joining me here today.

Nick: You’re welcome.  I think.  Why am I here?

Nick: I’ve been tasked today to interview you to find out some of your favorite things…

Nick: Like what?  Ice cream?

Nick: Well, no, not precisely …

Nick: I like rum raisin. Haagen Dazs Rum Raisin ice cream. That’s my favorite.  Done?

Nick: No, not done. I was thinking more along the lines of … wait. You like rum raisin?  No one likes rum raisin.

Nick: I like rum raisin.

Nick: Since when?

Nick: Since always. It’s delicious, and I don’t have to defend myself. Are we done?

Nick: No! We’ve been tasked by the Multnomah County Library system in Portland to find out how you operate, to learn more about you by learning your favorite media.

Nick: Portland, Maine or Portland, Oregon?

Nick: Oregon.

Nick: Which is the one with all the street poetry, kombucha bars, and man buns?

Nick: Oregon.

[What follows is a long, uncomfortable silence.]

Nick: Sigh. Fine.

Nick: So, let’s start with your favorite movie.

Nick: My favorite movie of all time is a little known short film from Estonia called Man With A Broken Rainbow Of Love by the great director … excuse me … auteur Miloslav Krizkovenszvynzvz.  It tells the story of a poor but rich-in-spirit doorknob salesman who’s raising a family of marmosets in his garage while quietly succumbing to the ravages of an earlobe fungus over the course of 3 hours.  It’s an allegory of Stalinist Russia.

Nick: 3 hours?! I thought you said it was a short film?

Nick: The director’s cut takes 4 days to watch.

Nick: Well, actually, the library wants material that can be found in their collection.

Nick: Why?

Nick: Because this way people who read this can get to know you better while also promoting the library’s collection.

Nick: I see. So when people check out the same things I like from the library, they can feel like they’re ME?

Nick: Sort of.

Nick: They can pretend like they’re ME? The people of Oregon can go to the library and pretend to be Nick Bruel! That is beautiful. Just beautiful. Sniff.

Nick: Are … are you crying?

Nick: No. Shut up. I’m not crying. You’re crying!

[Audible scratching at the door]

Esmerelda: Meow?!  Meow?!

Nick: GO AWAY, ESME! I’m conducting an important interview! 

Esmerelda: Meow?!

Nick: No, you can’t use your litterbox now! I told you that I’m conducting an important interview! Go poop in the recycling or something!

Esmerelda: Hiss!

Nick: I HEARD THAT!  Where were we? Oh, right. Uh … so can you name a more conventional movie that you like?

Nick: Does the library have the films of Buster Keaton?

Nick: I’ll check. [Looks intensely at toothpaste tube] Yes!

Nick: Without a doubt, Buster Keaton was the first true master of comedy. I love Chaplin, but Buster Keaton’s work best exemplified how comedy and timing work hand in hand. He might be best known for his stunts, but Keaton’s true genius was in how he set up his jokes visually. To this day, there are film directors who borrow from Keaton and his visual style.

The General is considered his greatest film, but for anyone who needs an introduction to the great man, I would suggest starting with either College or Steamboat Bill, Jr. You can’t go wrong.

Nick: Okay! Great! Let’s move on to favorite music.

Nick: I like anything with cannons in it.

Nick: Cannons?

Nick: Sure. Cannons.

Nick: What music has cannons in it?

Nick: What music … are you kidding me?!  Haven’t you ever heard the 1812 Overture by Peter Tchaikavsky, you peasant?!

Nick: Oh, well, sure …

Nick: I’ll have you know that before degrading myself to this whole children’s book thing I do now, I had a promising career in place as a classical cannon player. I even studied at The Sarasota Online Cannon Conservatory And Clown College, which everyone knows has the most rigorous cannon certification process in the entire country! Even better than Yale’s!

Nick: Well, of course. Everyone knows that …

Nick: And I’d be playing the cannons to this day if not for that terrible day 12 years ago when I burnt my hand lighting the wick during rehearsals. Sniff. Sniff. My doctor says … sob … I’ll never be able to light another cannon wick again.

[Audible scratching at the door.]

Esmerelda: Meow?!

Nick: NOT NOW, ESME! I’M BUSY! JUST CROSS YOUR LEGS AND THINK OF THE DESERT!

Where were we?

Nick: Ummm … favorite book?

Nick: Well, I’m quite fond of the work of a blind, Inuit hermaphrodite named J.D. Salinger who …

Nick: Hang on!  J.D. Salinger was not a blind, Inuit hermaphrodite!

Nick: He wasn’t?

Nick: No. I understand that his eyesight was quite good.

Nick: My bad. Well, in any case, I’ve always liked how Salinger focuses on character development above all else.  I don’t think anyone can turn words on paper into the life story of a friend you grew up with like Salinger, and nothing exemplifies this better than 9 Stories, a collection of short stories he published in The New Yorker. A standout in this collection is “The Laughing Man” which tells the tale of a youth sports club bus driver from the point of view of one of his riders. It’s an amazing, multi-layered tale of friendship, young love, adventure, and the power of a creative spirit.  I read this book about once every 3-4 years to remind myself of what good writing looks like.

Nick: Never heard of it.

Nick: Well you should read it.

Nick: Maybe I will.  What about picture books?  Got a favorite picture book?

Nick: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.  To me, it’s one of those rare books that transcends its purpose as a book.  It’s message of unconditional generosity is so important that I’ve held a theory … a belief, really … for a while now that if every single person on the planet Earth read “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein, then there would be no war. It’s a theory that can never be prove, much less tested, but I stick to it anyway.

Nick: A lot of people don’t like this book. They think the tree is acting too much like a martyr and that the boy does nothing more than take advantage of him.

Nick: Yeah, well some people can go suck eggs. If you step back for a moment and just contemplate that this is a story about what it means to be a parent to a child who you love unconditionally, then the message becomes more clear. I can back this up, because I knew Shel Silverstein and once had a conversation with him on this very topic. He told me that of course this book was about parenting and that he loved watching people practically lose their minds over this book of his.

Nick: Did Shel Silverstein think people should go suck eggs over it?

Nick: No. But he was thinking it.

Nick: Well, Nick, I think that about wraps things up. I’d like to thank you for joining me here today.

Nick: It was my pleasure.

Nick: No, no! The pleasure was all mine!

Nick: Oh, well if you insist!

Nick: Ha, ha!

Nick: Ha, ha, ha!

[Audible scratching at door.]

Esmerelda:  MEOW!!  MEOW!!

Nick: OKAY! OKAY!  I’m opening the door! Jeez! Just light a match or something when you’re done this time. Sometimes I think you’re made out of eggs.

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a neurological difference often characterized by difficulties with reading, writing and spelling.  It may run in the families and can not be “cured.” Individuals with this condition must learn coping strategies.

Dyslexia has nothing to do with intelligence. With the right instruction, almost all individuals with dyslexia can learn to read.  A multi-sensory, phonics based approach is often the best way to help kids learn to read. The Orton-Gillingham, Barton System and/or Lindamood-Bell programs are well known programs that work.

This great Ted-Ed talk provides an overview of dyslexia.

What should I look for?

Decoding Dyslexia offers these early signs of dyslexia:

  • Late speech (3 years or later)
  • Mixing up sounds in multi-syllable words (e.g. bisghetti, aminal, mazageen)
  • Inability to rhyme by age 4
  • Difficulty with substitutions, omissions and deletions
  • Unusual pencil grip
  • Difficulty remembering rote facts (months of the year, days of the week)
  • Confusion of left vs. right

Several organizations offer online self-assessment tools.  Take a look at the the Uncovering Dyslexia Topic Guide for suggested websites.

Dyslexia and low self-esteem

One of the biggest challenges of dyslexia is counteracting shame caused by teasing and misunderstanding.  Children are often teased because they can’t read as well as others.  Teachers may say things like “she’s a slow reader” in front of the child or parents.  Kids know what “slow” means and they often grow up believing they are “stupid” and/or “lazy.”

Headstrong Nation’s Learn the Facts wants you to know the facts, help your child recognize her/his strengths and weaknesses, learn how to talk about it with trusted friends and family and eventually, be comfortable sharing one’s real self with the world.

How the library can help

There are three valid types of reading: with your eyes (print & video), with your fingers (Braille) and with your ears (audiobooks).  For information about Braille books, contact the Talking Book and Braille Library at the Oregon State Library.  Multnomah County Library will help you find materials for reading with your eyes and ears.  

Audiobooks

Typically easier for someone with dyslexia, the library has thousands of audiobooks on CD and in downloadable formats for people who read with their ears.  Library information staff can help you find and use audiobooks.

DVD/Blu-ray

The library has thousands of DVDs, Blu-ray and downloadable films for people who read with eyes & ears.  Library information staff can help you find and use these media.

Programs

Occasionally, the library offers a Dyslexia 101 program, in cooperation with Decoding Dyslexia Oregon.  Check Events & Classes to find the next class.

Reading list

The topic guide Uncovering Dyslexia is available on the website and My MCL.

Dyslexia Assessment in Multnomah County

Here are a few of the many assessment and intervention providers in the County.

The Blosser Center - Accredited by the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators, the Blosser Center provides assessment, tutoring and teacher training.

Language Skills Therapy - Provides assessment and tutoring

New Leaves Clinic - Provides assessment and treatment in Hillsboro, Oregon

PDX Reading Specialist, LLC​ - Provides assessment, tutoring, advocacy and professional development

My Librarian Darcee wearing her Esme tunic
If you’re a grown woman who craves a frock with a peacock on the shoulder and a gazelle peeking around the side waist, you’re probably just going to have to go ahead and sew it yourself.

Thanks to a new book by my favorite Swedish print designer, this is totally accomplishable in a single afternoon.  Lotta Jansdotter's Everyday Style, presents crazy simple patterns for functional clothing and accessories to carry you through the seasons. While the designs are drawn from her own personal style, Jansdotter encourages women to adapt these classic pieces to suit who they are. Straight away I loved the Esme tunic that can be shortened to a modish top or lengthened to a free-spirited kaftan. I’ve been collecting (hoarding) fabric with unusual prints for years and can’t wait to transform my stash into things I can actually wear and use.

If you love textiles, modern design and fuss-free sewing, check out Lotta Jansdotter and be inspired to make your own unique something.

 

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