Monday, June 30, 2008

Read in June

10 books! I read 10 books in June! This was due to several factors. My awake-two-hours-in-the-middle-of-the-night insomnia seems to have returned, thus giving me more hours to read, though less actual sleep and an overall grumpiness that I don't recommend. Also my class ended June 10 or somewhere around there. That left more time for recreational reading. Thirdly, I fell in love. Have you ever started a relationship and suddenly the need for sleep diminishes? And you don't really want to do anything except spend time with the person? And you want to know everything about that person? That happened.

I am not afraid to say that I am in love with Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro. I am not afraid to admit that before the month was over I had purchased all five books by Dennis Lehane where they appear as characters. I am not afraid to tell you that not only did I stay up late reading said books, but was happy when I awoke in the middle of the night--more time to read. I am not afraid to tell you that I finished the last book in Hungary and bided my time until I got back home at which point I opened the first book in the series and started reading again.

I'm not really a mystery fan. I'll read them every once in awhile, but not often. For some reason this series and I were meant to be.

Niagara Falls All Over Again. Elizabeth McCracken.

The Secret. Rhonda Byrne.

Helping Me Help Myself. One skeptic, ten self-help gurus, and a year on the brink of the comfort zone. Beth Lisick

The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austin. Syrie James.

A Drink Before the War. Dennis Lehane.

Darkness Take My Hand. Dennis Lehane.

Sacred. Dennis Lehane.

Gone, Baby, Gone. Dennis Lehane.
Yes, indeed I read it in May. But I didn't know it was book 4 of 5. So now I am re-reading it to preserve the order. Plus, it's a very good book.

Prayers for Rain. Dennis Lehane.

Sex, Drugs & Cocoa Puffs. Chuck Klosterman.

Started but didn't finish.
Ship of Fools. Katherine Anne Porter.
I was too lazy to even get into this novel to see if I would like it.

Budapest. Paul Murphy.
I got this book from the library so I could tell one of my friends all the sites she should go to when she visits Budapest this summer. It's a small book, but has good overview information. The maps are a bit lacking, so I wouldn't actually take it on a trip.

Didn't even start.
Anything for Jane. Cheryl Mendelson.


Some people are bird watchers, some people are people watchers, some are television watchers. I am a building watcher. As I go about my day, I check out the buildings around me. Residential, commercial, new, old, it doesn't matter. I'm interested to see them, notice tiny details I never saw before, and see how they change.

I'm always amazed how quickly the buildings of downtown change. I've only lived here since 2001, but things have morphed even in seven years. As I live among them, these buildings become mine, even if I never set foot in them. I lived in downtown Portland from June 2002 to August 2005 and as I went about my commute, to work, to the store, to various buses that would take me elsewhere in the city, on bike, jogging, by myself and with others, I noticed what was going on around me with my buildings until I owned large segments of the city for example:

This is the corner of SW Madison & SW Broadway where picture was taken. It is the North street of the bus mall which is currently being reconstructed to have a Max train, cars, bicycles and buses. As mentioned before, I think this will be a disaster and liked the bus mall idea much better.

The building to the left in the above picture (in shadow) is the Ambassador apartments, where I imagine the nice old ladies have afternoon tea and where I dream of living when I am an old lady.

The building to the right is the Gus J. Solomon courthouse. Here I had a job interview in 2004 with the Classroom Law Project. I didn't get the job because they "thought I should be a teacher" as they told me in my rejection letter. It was one of the most annoying rejection letters ever. Not only did I not get a job that I was interested in, they needed to discount my choice to not pursue teaching at that time. The Post Office moved here (again) in 2003 after the other downtown location in Pioneer Courthouse was unjustly closed so the judges could have parking spaces. I haven't been to this location lately, but for the first year or two it was one dead branch. The lone counter employee would often be reading a book when I walked in, though she was happy to help me. I liked her hair, which was long and red and braided into a crown around her head.

Stepping forward one block, building on left are apartments. I used to live a block away from them. Sadly, my beautiful building, the Rosefriend Apartments, was torn down by the First Christian Church to make way for luxury condominiums. After the condo market went sour, they reduced the ceiling height of each floor to add a few more stories, and are currently building "luxury apartments"--one of my favorite oxymorons. The First Christian Church chose to tear down the Rosefriends and build a huge building so they could have more parking spaces. In doing so they eliminated affordable housing with high ceilings, huge kitchens and a building with history and character.

From my old apartment I could see people in these apartments when they wandered out on their balcony. This didn't really happen that often. I don't know if I didn't spend too much time looking out the window, or if those little tiny balconies don't lend themselves to hanging out on. In the ground floor of that building is the Oregon history museum gift shop. It will move around the corner soon. On the side of the apartments facing the Park Blocks there is a trompe l'il mural of the Lewis & Clark Expedition.

The building on the right is the Portland Center for the Performing Arts. (PCPA.) It's that little sliver of orange brick that looks like it has a tower on top of it (it doesn't--more on that, below.) Matt and I volunteered as ushers one year and saw a lot of good shows. We even ushered a show during an ice storm when the streets were encased in ice. There were a few people who made their way to the theater, but it was a pretty quiet production. Afterwards, we walked the two blocks home gingerly, careful not to slip on the ice.

Behind the PCPA is the tower that doesn't match of the First Congregational Church. When the church was built, it was built in the Richardson Romanesque style a la the church in Boston's Copley Square. That church is another building that became mine when I lived in Boston. The story goes that when it was finished the congregation didn't like the darkness and heavy stone of the style and eventually built a soaring bell tower in a style they would have preferred. It doesn't match at all, but the church has embraced it, calling themselves "The church tower church or whatever" Recently, I sat all the way in the back and heard Lois Lowry--herself a resident of Boston--speak there.

This part I didn't get around to fleshing out. (says the 2013 me, who has just discovered this unpublished post)
Art museum, used to cut through the sculpture garden pathway on the way to church.
Shiny gray building on the left in the back is the Eliot tower. Named after 1UU minster, was the safeway and cut through the parking lot on the way to church.
Next door to Eliot Tower and unseen in this small picture is the Y where I was a member until sleep problems. Home of Nicole, fabulous yoga teacher.

Letters written June 21-30.

Not much to report here. I didn't write people because I was prepping for the trip (and trying to catch up blog posts) and when I left on the trip my letter per day was to myself. I bought special stationary with the plan to glue each letter in my scrapbook. This turned out to be an awesome idea.

21 June. Sara
22 June. No one.
23 June. No one.
24 June. No one.
25 June. No one.
26 June. Me.
27 June. Me.
28 June. Me.
29 June. Me.
30 June. Me.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday in Budapest

Apparently, I never got around to writing this post and it became lost.--2013

Budapest by night.

My hosts continued to be wonderful hosts. After lunch, we drove back to Budapest and rested for a bit before heading out to see Budapest by night.

Our first stop was the Church of St. Elizabeth of the House of Arpad. Gyorgy told me the legend of St. Elizabeth--that she was taking bread to the poor in secret and her husband asked her what she had. She opened her cloak and roses tumbled out. There is a rose garden planted at the base of her statue and the square is known as the square of roses.

Our next stop was the Dohany Street Synagogue. It is the second largest synagogue in the world. The link has a lot of interesting information about it, which I will let you read on your own if you are interested.
The front.
The Holocaust memorial.
There are many squares in Budapest and each corner of the square has a building like this. They are very grand.
On this street the buildings bent to meet the street.

I enjoy their crosswalk signs because the man walking in them is wearing a suit and hat.
We then went to the Opera House.
And posed at the sphinx statue out front.
Fancy light posts outside the Opera House.
One of my favorite parts of Budapest is the random decoration on seemingly normal buildings. I have no idea how a child and two dogs were carved above the lintel, but it is a delight to come across it on a side street.
Dedicated bike lanes!
St. Stephen's Basilica can be spied between buildings.
We approached St. Stephen's from the rear.
The bell tower.
The frieze.
I got a nice shot of the basically as we were walking away.
Decorated man hole cover.
Wrought iron gate on the side entrance to the Four Seasons Hotel.
Sunset view from the Chain Bridge which is closed to traffic and has a festival on it on weekends during the summer. It was the first bridge to cross the Danube and unite the hills of Buda with the flatlands of Pest. Like almost everything in Budapest, it was destroyed during World War II and rebuilt.