Blogs: Adults

Image of a rain puddle.

Winter in Portland brings short days, long nights, holiday celebrations, extra expenses, and So. Much. Rain. Here are some ways to take care of yourself, your family, and your neighbors near and far.

Note: For the most up-to-date information on resources all over Oregon, contact 211info by dialing 2.1.1 (toll free), texting your zip code to 898211, emailing, or searching 211info's online Community Resource Directory

Keep warm

Find holiday meals and food boxes

  • Radio Cab Foundation's Turkey Project will be delivering Christmas turkeys with all the fixings to people living in Greater Portland. If you know a family in need these holidays, or are in need yourself, fill out their Dinner Request Form
  • Lift Urban Portland will have a Christmas meal open to all on December 25 from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm; call 503.221.1224 for the address.
  • SnowCap will also have a Christmas meal open to all, from noon to 2:00 pm at Rockwood United Methodist Church (17805 SE Stark St.).

Image of small child in the rain.

Get toys and gifts for your kids

  • On December 22 from 1 to 5 pm, Sisters of the Road Cafe will host a Winter Wonderland Kids Day full of gifts, games, movies, food, and arts and crafts.To reserve a spot on the gift list, call 503.222.5694 ext. 120.
  • Portland Toy & Joy Makers is providing gifts for children of low income families. Call the Toy Request Line at 503.231.8697 between 9 am and 3 pm from November 16 thru December 20.

Help out your community

Donate money

There is no shortage of organizations that could put your charity to good use, so how do you choose where to give?


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!



A college degree is one of the most expensive items you will ever buy. It can leave you in debt for years, so you want to be as smart as you can about your education. When you attend college, you are "buying" a college degree, much as you purchase other big-ticket items. So, you want to make sure you get your money's worth.

Barnard College

Figuring out what college is going to cost

The U.S. Department of Education has a useful website called College Scorecard. You supply information about the type of degree you are looking for and locations or regions that you are interested in, and you'll receive results that show the average annual cost of tuition and fees at each matching institution, the graduation rate, and the annual average salary of their graduates. It's a great website for getting an overview and comparing what different colleges cost.

Another great place to research college pricing and student aid is at The College Board website. There is a wide variety in prices charged by institutions of different types and in different parts of the country, so it can really pay to do your research. 

Be sure to add in what your room and board costs will be, including your meal plan, books and supplies, and other personal expenses

Your Personal Resources

Before you apply for student aid or scholarships, you'll need to figure out the amount of money that you and perhaps your parents can afford. Some parents choose to contribute and others believe that it is the student's responsibility to pay for college.

If you are saving for college, the State of Oregon offers the Oregon College Savings Plan which provides tax advantages. 

Federal Student Aid

If you plan to apply for aid, check and double-check the application deadlines. State and college aid may have earlier deadlines than federal aid. When you apply, you want to be in the first stack of applicants, not the last. You can check the federal and state application deadlines at

The first step to apply is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Financial aid experts recommend that all students fill out the FAFSA because it is used by colleges and grant-makers to figure out financial need. 

The fastest way to fill out the FAFSA is online at, but you can also get paper forms at all our public library branches: Just ask at a reference desk. Give yourself plenty of time to fill out the form. You'll need to have information about your financial situation and you or your parents' federal tax forms from the previous year at hand.

Using the information that you supply on the FAFSA, the financial aid office at your college will determine that amount of aid you may receive.

Have you ever stayed awake late because you went to a show that was so inspiring you couldn’t sleep? I have. I love that feeling that something just hit the mark whether it’s a movie, concert, performance art or a reading. It feels like a feast of art. It’s the stuff of life. It’s our reason for being: sharing art.

I lie awake thinking about all the wonderful things I’ve heard or seen. Recently, I stayed awake because I was reading a fantastic graphic novel. I was so excited to read something smart, funny, innovative, and visually beautiful. I lay there thinking Jillian Tamaki is brilliant! I can’t wait to tell everyone that SuperMutant Magic Academy is my favorite graphic novel of the year. I love the magic academy setting with witches as teachers, uniforms and spell casting classes. I love that the art sometimes reminds me of Craig Thompson or Charles Schulz but is unique all on its own. I am in awe by the humor because it's so smart and laugh out loud funny. I can’t get enough of the characters Marsha, Frances, Everlasting Boy, and the new kid. I didn’t want to return it so I’ll have to buy my own.

You can find SuperMutant Magic Academy on my new staff favorites list.

Tiny Beautiful Things bookjacketI’m sort of in love with Cheryl Strayed. I’ve read and listened to her books. I watched the movie based on her book, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail and now I listen to the Dear Sugar podcast she does with Steve Almond every single week.I think that the best way to experience Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar is on audiobook, read by Strayed herself. This book is a compilation of letters and and her answers when she was the advice columnist at The Rumpus. The advice to her letter-writers and the personal stories she shares are simply beautiful when you can hear them in her voice.

I like her so much because she truly knows how to get to the heart of an issue but she does it with so much compassion and with the understanding that humans have oh so many foibles. We’re just not perfect creatures that make the best decisions sometimes. We don’t always have the perspective to look at our issues. Cheryl has made her share of mistakes (see Wild) but she also knows how to help us figure out better ways of being in the world.

Brave Enough bookjacketHer latest book, Brave Enough, is a collection of her wise words. It’s inspiring. Cheryl has gathered up some of her most thoughtful and insightful words and packaged them all up in a lovely volume. I think it will make a splendid gift book both for yourself and for your loved ones - though when I give it to my friends and family, I’ll pair it with Tiny Beautiful Things and Wild.

I now have something more Cheryl Strayed-like to look forward to - Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern are collaborating on an HBO-sponsored project to produce a series based on Tiny Beautiful Things. Cheryl Strayed’s husband, Brian Lindstrom (a hugely talented filmmaker-if you haven’t seen his documentary, Alien Boy: The Life and Death of James Chasse, please watch it soon.) will be doing the TV adaptation. The series will “explore love, loss, lust and life through the eyes of a Portland family who live by the mantra that the truth will never kill you.” I can’t wait!

S.P.Q.R.: A History of Rome

by Mary Beard

Cambridge classisist Mary Beard presents the rise of Rome from a lowly village to an imperial city spreading its power from Syria to Spain by 63 BCE. Destined to be a standard work.

Cast of Characters: Wolcott Gibbs, E.B. White, James Thurber, and the Golden Age of the New Yorker

by Thomas Vinciguerra

The author revisits the early years of the New Yorker with stories of the colorful characters that made the New Yorker prestigious.

The Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words

by Randall Munroe

For anyone who has ever wondered how things work and why, the author humorously provides simple explanations for some of the world's most interesting things. Enjoy!

Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World

by Bill Nye

Bill Nye, the Science Guy, enthusiastically brings his scientific curiousity and optimism to the issue of global warming and presents possibilities for a cleaner future.

Nightfall cover image“I can’t tell you for certain. What I do know is that we do these things - and we have remained safe - so we keep doing them.”

As the sun fades away for its fourteen year hiatus, the residents of Bliss are frantic. Preparing their homes before leaving their island is an elaborate process guided by fear and myth. Houses are to be left “without stain”, all locks are removed from doors, and strict decor must be observed. The why behind such frenzy is unknown and not questioned.

  • Marin is a young girl who has only known Bliss as her home. She has many questions, but gets few answers. Her secret puts everyone at risk.
  • Kana is her twin brother. He's blind, but his vision improves as the darkness falls. As permanent night arrives his dreams have turned into horrific night terrors.
  • Line, an orphan, is preoccupied with the care of his young brother. He has a lot on his mind as they prepare, including Marin.

As the boats arrive and night overtakes the island, someone goes missing. The ships are leaving in four hours. The choice between safety from the unknown and friendship has never been more difficult or life changing under the looming threat of what lies in the darkness.

What happens next? Check out Nightfall!

Ah, the slight autumnal chill in the air. The smell of apple pie wafting from the kitchen.The clouds and the greyness and the rain on the horizon. Yes, indeed, here in Portland, it's time to hunker down and watch some good shows.

The Affair coverWhat to watch, you ask?

Are you in the mood for deceit and mystery and sex and how distorted our memories can be? Try The Affair

Fortitude cover


Want to visit a bleak, desolate land of ice and snow? If you can suspend your sense of disbelief just a bit and want an intriguing story set in Iceland that’s filled with a completely bizarro mystery, pop Fortitude into your dvd player (the first half is the best part of it),




And then for a little lighter fare, an entertaining, series that stars the most splendid character, Miss Phryne Fisher wearing fabulous 1920s dresses, watch Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries cover




Need a few more shows to while away the winter with? Check out my list here. If you'd like even more suggestions, please ask me


Associates "Sulk"


"Your limitations are our every care"

The Associates (primarily singer Billy Mackenzie and multi-instrumentalist Alan Rankine) were a Scottish act, now identified as quintessentially "post-punk."   But there's no way any taxonomic indicator could ever contain or expand enough to encompass the sounds embedded in "Sulk." Leading with the shrill blast of "Arrogance Gave Him Up"'s racing drums and fluorescent synth stabs, the record defies expectation at every turn.  Predictably, Bowie genetic traces run rampant - but "Sulk" sidles into the outer territories of what "pop" might be/come, like an acid spill corroding the enervated gestures of everything else happening in 1982 (Bowie soul-boys, New Romantics, chart entryists, end-days disco).  The record is overflowing with ideas and impulses - gorgeous, but like a still life of a swamp, harboring all kinds of unknown and carbonized creatures, sensations, and pitfalls.

No album is ever fully outside its historical moment.  "Sulk" has "1980s" written all over its face - Thatcher-induced paranoia, the seemingly endless money-spouts pumping out of the pores of the culture industry, and a leashed but furious gnashing of the teeth at sex and desire's constraints.  And drugs of course.  Legend has it that Rankine and Mackenzie spent half of their 60,000 pound advance (massive for '82) on cocaine, clothing, cocaine, room service, cocaine, and inspired concepts like chocolate life-sized guitars for a Top of the Pops appearance.  Mackenzie's lyrics are ultimately impenetrable but necessarily so. These songs are howls from the edges of a self-enclosed world that Mackenzie knew would never be able to carve out new space quickly enough for escape.  

I'll end with Mackenzie's voice.  It moves everywhere at once, sometimes following the often unpredictable musical pathways but just as often birthing new songs within songs, burning like brush fires that we know will eventually (though we don't want them to) self-exhaust.  

I am not a hoarder!  So okay, my work desk might have goat’s paths and the 9 x 9 storage unit down the hall from my condo could use a good clear out, but still, I can let go of things!  In the new book Mess: One Man's Struggle to Clean Up His House and His Act, I learned that hoarders really can’t give up anything. I, therefore, am merely a clutter bug and only at work.  My living quarters are actually quite neat.  Each room and piece of furniture can be used for its original purpose, and clothing, books, and craft supplies are not stacked up on every surface. 

This was so not true for Barry Yourgrau, the author of Mess.  His girlfriend, Cosima, was horrified when she finally arrived on his apartment doorstep some Mess book jacketyears after he had taken it over from her and gave him an ultimatum:  Clean it up or we’re breaking up!  Now Barry had a sweet gig – he worked in his own apartment, but actually lived at Cosima’s much nicer place where she regularly cooked gourmet meals for him.  Additionally, they traveled all over the world to foodie events for Cosima’s career.  He had plenty of reasons to clean up his act, but would he be motivated enough to actually get it done?

Follow Barry as he does his “researches” that include lots of reading, talking with organizing professionals and a psychiatrist, and visiting one of the most famous hoarders of all time. It’s the most fun book on organization (or lack of it) that I’ve ever read!

Here’s a list of further resources on clutter and hoarding, most of which Yourgrau refers to in Mess.

Maangchi's Real Korean Cooking book jacketHere are the top four reasons why I love Maangchi:
  1. Maangchi is a girl gamer - her handle means "hammer" in Korean.
  2. She's a good dresser.
  3. She's a YouTube and blogging star.
  4. Finally, she taught me everything that I know about Korean cooking!
Three years ago, Maangchi taught me how to make kimchi at home. Fast-forward to 2015: With Maangchi's Real Korean Cooking at my side, I made Korean fried chicken (dakgangjeong) and soft tofu stew (kimmchi-sundubu-jjigae). If you've never had it before, Korean fried chicken (KFC) is super crunchy, garlicky, and has a great sweet and spicy sauce. Unfortunately, you can't eat KFC everyday, but that's what soft tofu stew is for. The stew, which is made red and spicy by hot pepper powder, is full of onions, garlic, kimchi, silken tofu, and pork belly. Both dishes are comfort food at its best.
Other things that I've made in the past that are absolutely yummy include: kimchi fried rice (kimchi-bokkeumbap), LA kalbi (LA galbi), bok choy with miso (cheonggyeongchae doenjang-muchim), and stir fried potato glass noodles (japchae). All these recipes are highly recommended.
Although many of these recipes are available online, I encourage you to check out her book because it's a work of art. Maangchi's Real Korean Cooking is an excellent cookbook for people like me who get easily intimidated by complicated, unfamiliar foods. Stop running away from your true desires! Cook with Maangchi now.


Subscribe to