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Celebrating People, Places & the Good Life in SW Washington State
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Posts from — February 2010

The Booksellers of Long Beach Peninsula

“A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking.” Jerry Seinfeld

Bookstore owners are a hardy (and hearty) bunch. With low profit margins and high overhead, bookstore ownership is not for the faint-hearted. Toss in the pressure from online sales and chain bookstores, and booksellers are downright courageous to be in the industry. We are lucky to have them.

On the Long Beach Peninsula of the Washington Coast, four tenacious booksellers are passionate about books. From Ilwaco to Long Beach to Ocean Park, they serve their communities and thousands of visitors. Open hours may vary with the season, so call ahead for details.

Time Enough Books, Ilwaco

Karla Nelson and Harper Lee of Time Enough Books

Time Enough Books (157 Howerton Avenue, Ilwaco Harbour Village at the Port of Ilwaco, 360-642-7667) surely must have one of the best views of ANY bookstore in the country. Overlooking the Ilwaco marina, just inside the Columbia River bar, and its commercial and recreational boat fleets, the store is a mainstay of the shops and restaurants along the harbor walk. Fresh seafood is nearby. May through September, the promenade in front of the store features a Saturday market. Depending on the season and weather, there can be a lot happening here.

After collecting and dealing books and filling their home with tomes for “years and years” and inspired by Portland’s Powell’s Books and Robert’s Books of Lincoln City, Karla and Peter Nelson opened Time Enough Books in May 2000. At that time most of the buildings along the harbor were boarded up. Karla had, in fact, cleaned fish as a teenager in the building. It was a “leap of faith,” she says.

Time Enough Books now operates a 7 day a week, year-round shop featuring 80% new and 20% used books. “Every book is handpicked by me,” Karla says. She is happy to recommend titles, including favorites from the book group, which meets at the store. Harper Lee, a golden lab, is the store greeter.

While all genres are stocked, not surprising, the maritime section is a strong one, reflecting Peter Nelson’s experience as a seaman. Chairs by the fireplace encourage reading. And if you haven’t found just the right book (or even if you have), Harper Lee will keep you entertained.

Banana Books, Long Beach

Ed Gray and Sobe of Banana Books

You won’t find very many banana trees in Long Beach, but you will find Banana Books (114 3rd Street, SW, Long Beach, 360-642-7005) in the old town part of the beach community. Owner Ed Gray worked for 20 years as a book scout and wholesaler or rare books. A small, year-round shop, Banana Books features used titles. “We have a good eye for titles that people are looking for,” says Ed. He knows his books.

His customers are 80% tourists with three-quarters of his business, like many other Peninsula shops, coming in June through September. (That’s a shame because the peninsula is so relaxing and conducive to reading in winter!) Many of his customers are looking for entertaining beach reads including titles by Patrick McManus, Clive Cussler and Carl Hiaasen. From literature to quick vacation books, Ed offers a diverse collection. Sadly, he doesn’t have much time to crack open his inventory. “I’m a bookseller but I don’t have a chance to read,” he says. He’s a fan of Raymond Carver.

More than books, the nine-year-old shop has an espresso bar and a large deck in front of the store. Jewelry shoppers should check out the stunning earrings and necklaces created by jewelry designer Mary Johnson, Ed’s wife. Another family member, Sobe, an American Staffordshire, will also be happy to meet you.

Catherine O’Toole Bookseller, Ocean Park

Catherine O'Toole and Jetsam of Catherine O'Toole Bookseller

Antiquarian, rare and out-of-print books are the specialties of Catherine O’Toole Bookseller (1310 Bay Avenue, Ocean Park, 360-665-0004). Located in a historic 1880s building – a former Methodist Church and Moose Lodge – her shop is packed floor to ceiling with her collection, which numbers about 68,000 titles. She also carries new local history and guidebooks. “I can’t resist books,” she says. “It’s very gratifying to be able to say to a customer, ‘Oh yes, I’ve got that.’”

In a book-filled office in the front of the shop, Catherine spends her days online, selling her titles through biblio.com and other book sites, and shipping them around the world. Her business model of online selling keeps the store viable year-round.

She was born in Ireland, studied in England and moved to the US in 1967. She studied political science, horticulture and landscape architecture at the University of Washington, where she received her BA. A lifelong learner, Catherine now takes computer classes through the Grays Harbor College at the Community Education Center in Ilwaco. She is also perfecting her pool skills through a league at Doc’s Tavern down the block.

If she could turn back the clock, she would like to be a member of London’s Bloomsbury Group of Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster and other writers and artists. “They didn’t work,” she says.” They hung out being intellectuals.” Catherine hangs out with her thousands of books, her online and in-store customers and Jetsam, her black and white cat.

Adelaide’s Books, Ocean Park

Cyndy Hayward and Miles of Adelaide's Books

Across the street from Catherine’s shop, another historic building houses a bookstore. As an owner of the Taylor Hotel (1887-mid-1930s), Adelaide Taylor spent more than 40 years running the lodging spot in the two-story wooden structure in Ocean Park. She died in 1940 but lives on through a bookstore named for her – Adelaide’s Books (1401 Bay Avenue, Ocean Park). Cyndy Hayward, a Seattle attorney who moved to Oysterville, bought the building with its expansive wrap-around porch and spent a year renovating it into an airy and inviting bookstore and coffeehouse. She opened the business in 2008.

Approximately 3,000 new books are well-organized from the children’s area with its charming mural to young adult, fiction, non-fiction collections and the poetry section, which Cyndy was advised against. The naysayer was wrong. “We sell poetry almost every day of the week,” Cyndy says proudly. She offers a diverse, handpicked collection. “We receive strong feedback on the quality of the books.” Miles, her friendly, full-sized poodle receives positive strokes, too. He blends right in as he sleeps on the loveseat.

The space is well-suited for game nights and author readings. The upstairs includes apartments and one day might house a low-power community radio station. “I want to make this into a community place,” she says. “Books. Coffee. Pastry. Talk.” is the shop’s tagline. What more could you want?

February 21, 2010   12 Comments

A ZEST Contest! Where is the Happiest Place in Southwest Washington?

Marcel Proust said, “Let us be grateful to people who make us happy. They are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” ZEST says, “Let us be grateful for places that make us happy.”

In the past six months of blogging, we have found MANY happy locales in our corner of the world. To celebrate happiness that is generated by our local places, we are offering “The Happiest Place in Southwest Washington Contest.” What locale makes you happiest?

Where is the happiest place in Southwest Washington?

Where is the happiest place in Southwest Washington?

The rules are simple. Comment on this blog post below. Tell us in 75 words or less why your suggestion is the happiest place in Clark, Cowlitz, Skamania, Wahkiakum, Pacific, Klickitat or Lewis counties. One entry per person. It should be a location that is open to others, not, for instance, your backyard, happy as it may be. There will be one grand prize winner. In the case of duplicate suggestions, the first person to comment will be eligible for the prize.

The prize? A $50 gift certificate to the restaurant of your choice in Southwest Washington.

Deadline: To be eligible for the contest, you must submit your comment on the blog by Wednesday, March 31 at 12 noon. Entries will be judged by a panel of happy, local people. The winner (and honorable mentions) will be announced on Tax Day, April 15 – a day when we can all use a little extra happiness.

So tell us, where is the happiest place in Southwest Washington? Comment below!

February 15, 2010   38 Comments

Gung Hay Fat Choy! Celebrating the Chinese New Year in SW Washington

Gung Hay Fat Choy! We wish you prosperity! This is a greeting for Chinese New Year. This year, the 14-day holiday begins on Sunday, February 14.

Lion Dance at the Chinese New Year Celebration in Vancouver

Lion Dance at the Chinese New Year Celebration in Vancouver

In 2004, husband Gary and I had the great, good fortune of celebrating Chinese New Year, The Year of the Monkey, in Hong Kong. A post-SARS tourist recruitment deal with VIP seats at the Chinese New Year parade, fireworks, day tours and other enticements lured us to this fascinating city. Upon our arrival, we joined the shopping throngs in the flower market of Kowloon, where we bought yellow chrysanthemums (for longevity) for our hotel room and ahhhed over all the red decorations. Ever since, we have celebrated the Chinese New Year at home.

Last year, a friend and excellent chef made a multi-course Chinese dinner for 13 at our house to celebrate the New Year. This year, we attended the Vancouver Chinese New Year celebration sponsored by the Friends of the Cascade Park and Vancouver Community Libraries. The event included an energetic lion dance by the Portland Lee’s Association Lion Dance Team and a giggle-inciting “Images of China” puppet show by Dragon Art Studio plus dance and singing groups – a lucky way to celebrate 2010, The Year of the Tiger, the year of both our births.

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

The dates of the New Year differ between Asian countries. Vancouver’s Vietnamese community celebrated the holiday on January 30 with a large community event. Portland’s big celebration will be an eight-hour Chinese New Year Cultural Fair on February 14 at the Oregon Convention Center. There are many other events scheduled at the Lan Su Chinese Garden (formerly the Portland Classical Chinese Garden) at NW 3rd and Everett from February 14 through February 28.

It’s time to plan your own celebration. Here are six ideas for celebrating the Chinese New Year:

1. Call your favorite Chinese restaurant and ask if they are offering any special foods or menus for the Chinese New Year. If not, go any way and order a multi-course banquet. Chinese families often eat Buddha’s Delight, fish and dumplings to kickoff the holiday. Mandarin oranges are popular, too.

2. Plan your own feast at home. In Vancouver, the International Market (3216 E. Fourth Plain Blvd) should have the ingredients you need.

3. Visit some import stores for new year’s decorations. These aren’t easy to find in SW Washington. I hate to send you across the river but…great places for decorations are the import stores across the street from the Lan Su Chinese Garden and the amazing Fubonn Shopping Center, where you will also find foods from all over the Asian world.

4. Pick up some red, lucky money envelopes (hong bao) (available in Vancouver at the International Market mentioned above) for children and unmarried family or friends and distribute them with money in an even amount. ($8 would be especially lucky because 8 is a lucky number in Chinese culture.)

5. Decorate with fresh flowers. Chrysanthemums (longevity), narcissus (prosperity) and plum blossoms (luck) are three options. Bamboo plants are good year-round choices, too.

6. Visit your relatives. This is the time of year that Chinese people around the world travel home to make “new-year visits” to relatives and friends. Visit YOUR family! Wear red and take them some mandarin oranges! Have a great time and don’t forget to tell them Gung Hay Fat Choy!

For more information about the history and traditions of the Chinese New Year, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_New_Year.

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February 8, 2010   5 Comments