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Archive for Mar, 2015

Monday, 23 March 2015

Ah, it looked like a good rainy, windy day to be inside and work on my Sylvia Beach Hotel full immersion blog.  BUT I got the message that there was a new availability list to peruse at the Basket Case Greenhouse.  The order needed to go out by Tuesday, so we went to have a look at what we might like the nursery to carry.

Basket Case Greenhouse

Basket Case Greenhouse

perusing the list (Allan's photo); picked out some agastaches, penstemons, and much more.

perusing the list (Allan’s photo); picked out some agastaches, penstemons, and much more.

our good friends Shadow and Walter (Allan's photo)

our good friends Shadow and Walter (Allan’s photo)

Nancy came forward to visit from the back greenhouse, where she was planting the hanging baskets for which she is famous.  She couldn’t visit long, and called for the dogs to return with her.

Walter is moving very slowly as he'd like to stay and visit for longer.

Walter is moving very slowly as he’d like to stay and visit for longer.

Fred and Allan in the greenhouse

Fred and Allan in the greenhouse

Fred shows off a new deep red annual geranium.

Fred shows off a new deep red annual geranium.  He’s teasing me because I don’t use them much.  I like the deep clear colour of that one.

the perennials house (Allan's photo)

the perennials house (Allan’s photo)

santolinas in three colours, one of my favourite perennials

santolinas in three colours, one of my favourite perennials

Fred showed me the tag for a new plant.  Our friend Ed Strange had it last year and said it bloomed prolifically and long.

plant

a cross between Echinacea and Rudbeckia; the plants are small and not available for sale yet.

A monsoon begins.  I make it into the van; Allan is stuck in a greenhouse.

A monsoon begins. I make it into the van; Allan is stuck in a greenhouse. 

Allan's photo of me escaping the torrent in the van.

Allan’s photo of me escaping the torrent in the van.

Fred has plenty to do in the shelter of the greenhouses.  (Allan's photo)

Fred has plenty to do in the shelter of the greenhouses. (Allan’s photo)

Ah, the rest of the day was spent at home catching up on this blog by writing about one of my favourite topics, the Sylvia Beach Hotel room journals!

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Sunshine called us out to a mission to plant sweet peas in Long Beach, and maybe Anchorage and Boreas, too.

Long Beach

Long Beach city works has a nice pile of Soil Energy for us to use on areas that need fluffing.

tarped to keep weeds out

tarped to keep weeds out

buckets for fluffing up Fifth Street Park

buckets for fluffing up Fifth Street Park

I weeded and applied mulch and Dr Earth fertilizer all along where I planted the sweet peas in Fifth Street Park, and applied much sluggo at the end in hopes of better results than last year.  Allan took photos:

before

before

mulched garden

mulched garden (after)

after

after planting sweet peas and mulching

While I worked on the sweet pea project, he weeded here (before)

While I worked on the sweet pea project, he weeded here (before)

after

after

At my request, he did some pruning (before)

At my request, he did some pruning (before)

after

after (As far as I am concerned, that whole mugo pine should disappear.)

What the heck am I doing here? Oh yeah, pruning some cotoneaster in the little park by Lewis and Clark square.

What the heck am I doing here? Oh yeah, pruning some cotoneaster in the little park by Lewis and Clark square to reveal some lost astilbes and primroses.

Anchorage Cottages

We had time to plant sweet peas and do some weeding and deadheading at The Anchorage Cottages.

shady bed with trilliums and pulmonaria

shady bed with trilliums and pulmonaria

sweet tiny narcissi in a windowbox.  This new Olympus pocket camera does not seem to focus well on flowers.

sweet tiny narcissi in a windowbox. This new Olympus pocket camera does not seem to focus well on flowers.

the center courtyard

the center courtyard; there’s a new pelican statue 2/3 of the way down the garden

courtyard planter

courtyard planter

more courtyard narcissi.  A innkeeper from years ago planted that heather...not me!

more courtyard narcissi. A innkeeper from years ago planted that heather…not me!

more courtyard narcissi

more courtyard narcissi; narcissi are my favourite flower

tulips by the office

tulips by the office

Tulip 'Green Star'

Tulip ‘Green Star’

The parrot tulips that usually bloom into early May are awfully early this year.

The parrot tulips that usually bloom into early May are awfully early this year.

planted sweet peas by the chimney, where Tulip 'Gavota' still looks fine except for the focus problem.

planted sweet peas by the chimney, where Tulip ‘Gavota’ still looks fine except for the focus problem.

Manager Beth tells me that Dennis Co again had the little lemon cypress trees like this one that she got.  (When we go, right after work, they are all out again!)

Manager Beth tells me that Dennis Co again had the little lemon cypress trees like this one that she got. (When we go, right after work, they are all out again!)

After the Anchorage, we were too low in energy to start planting sweet peas at the Boreas Inn, so we dumped a few more buckets of mulch in Long Beach’s Fifth Street Park and went home before dusk.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Even though we had a fine rainy day, we had to leave the house to meet with our nice accountant.

Her office has two lovely tulip bouquets.

Her office has two lovely tulip bouquets.

a red one

a red one

and a yellow one

and a yellow one

Her sweet dog Helen lay under the desk while we concentrate on our tax numbers.  The meeting went well and we left all the figures in her capable hands and took a drive past the boatyard and along the portside gardens just to reconnoiter on the way home.  I was pleased that all the big horsetail had not sprouted yet in the boatyard garden.  Allan fixed a “Please don’t pick the flowers” sign, and we discussed (him) making new ones. I noticed a lot of narcissi deadheads along Howerton Way to be dealt with tomorrow if the weather allows.

rain and a drooping sign at the boatyard

rain and a drooping sign at the boatyard

And then…home to blog like fury, so that I will be finally caught up and can spend the next day of computer time catching up on Mr. Tootlepedal and that new puppy on the Miserable Gardener blog.

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Sunday, March 22 2015

It was a rainy, snoozy day.

It was a rainy, snoozy day.

In considerable rain, we drove down to Cape Disappointment State Park to have lunch at serious pizza with Susie and Bill of the Boreas Inn and Kathleen.

sp

pizza

Bill and Susie and me

Bill and Susie and me and Jim, owner of Serious Pizza

Co-owner and chef Chi loads a pizza into the oven.

Co-owner and chef Chi loads a pizza into the oven.

Chef Chi.  You can tell by the sparkling kitchen that Jim and Chi are perfectionists.

Chef Chi. You can tell by the sparkling kitchen that Jim and Chi are perfectionists.

We are all very thrilled that Jim and Chi will soon open a sandwich shop and eventually add pizza at their second location by Ilwaco’s stoplight: Buoy 10, opening in May!

Kathleen and I.  I am probably talking about the room journals at the Sylvia Beach Hotel.

Kathleen and I. I am probably talking about the room journals at the Sylvia Beach Hotel.

The salad with delicate, ripe pears was one of the best I've ever had.

The salad with delicate, ripe pears was one of the best I’ve ever had.

one side: goat cheese, the other: grapes, walnuts and bleu cheese

one side: goat cheese, tomatoes, olives, the other: grapes, walnuts and bleu cheese

You can also get a small pizza; this was Kathleen's choice.

You can also get a small pizza; this was Kathleen’s choice.

The Serious Pizzas are exceptionally good down to the last bite of crust.

The Serious Pizzas are exceptionally good down to the last bite of crust. (Allan’s photo)

This birthday treat from Bill and Susie was finally the official end of the celebrations of my 60th birthday.

By the time we got home, the sun had come out. Much as I longed to continue blogging about my Sylvia Beach Hotel obsession, I had to do something in the garden after a week’s neglect.  I’d acquired some lily bulbs at Costco on the way to Newport, so I planted about 20 here and there.

a wallflower and more in the front garden

a wallflower and more in the front garden

tulips and cardoon...a favourite vignette right now

tulips and cardoon…a favourite vignette right now

parrot tulips by the fence in a deer protective cage

parrot tulips by the fence in a deer protective cage

a corner shockingly full of "stinkmint" which I did not feel like weeding (and did not)

a corner shockingly full of “stinkmint” which I did not feel like weeding (and did not)

tulips

tulips

Ribes speciosum

Ribes speciosum

still strongly in bloom

still strongly in bloom

an attractive bergenia in Allan's garden.  (He could take those old leaves off.)

an attractive bergenia in Allan’s garden. (He probably does not know he could take those old leaves off.)

Onyx, the neighbours' cat

Onyx, the neighbours’ cat

in the back garden, ornamental rhubarb

in the back garden, ornamental rhubarb

There’s another birthday present in the garden: a colourful new birdbath from Allan.  I realize as I write this after dark that I don’t yet have a photo of it.

the back garden

the back garden

Mary keeping an eye on me.

Mary keeping an eye on me.

more tulip/cardoon admiration

more tulip/cardoon admiration

Allan's photo in his garden

Allan’s photo in his garden

fence tops that Allan tacked on top of the fence posts in the afternoon

fence tops that Allan tacked on top of the fence posts in the afternoon

Next door, Alicia’s dad was down for a week of clamming.  We chatted and he showed me, on his phone, photos of his impressive limit of good sized clams.

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

As soon as a slight wind came up, I used it as an excuse to go in and do more reliving about the Sylvia Beach Hotel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Saturday, 21 March 2015 

It was Montana Mary’s 60th birthday, four days after mine.  When I turned 50, she sent me a card in which she wrote something like”When we were younger, it was very important that you were four days older than me, but now it’s important that I’m five days younger than you.”

 

I made her a Harry Potter birthday picture from the JK Rowling room at the Sylvia Beach Hotel.

I made her a Harry Potter birthday picture from the JK Rowling room at the Sylvia Beach Hotel.

at home

First, I took a quick look around the front garden to see what had come into bloom.

The white tulips are new.

The white tulips are new.

white bleeding heart

white bleeding heart

tulips and cardoon

tulips and cardoon

white Dutch iris...so early!... and a serious amount of the weed I call "stinkmint"

white Dutch iris…so early!… and a serious amount of the weed I call “stinkmint”

foreground: Tulip sylvestris just going over

foreground: Tulip sylvestris just going over

fern in Allan's garden and the lantern his mother made

fern in Allan’s garden and the lantern his mother made

Peninsula Quilt Guild Show

Our workday began with glorious weather and a visit to the annual quilt show at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum.  Here are just a few of the more gardeny quilts:

Poppies by Beth Riesen

Poppies by Beth Riesen

Detail with beading

Detail with beading

Foxes for Lucy by Beth Riesen

Foxes for Lucy by Beth Riesen

Still Life II: Flowers and Lemons by Wendy Romaggi

Still Life II: Flowers and Lemons by Wendy Romaggi

Still Life: Flowers and Cherries by Wendi Romaggi

Still Life: Flowers and Cherries by Wendi Romaggi

Looking Through the Window by Wendy Romaggi

Looking Through the Window by Wendy Romaggi

Manzanita by Joanie Chapel

Manzanita by Joanie Chapel

This Red Hens quilt by  Merri Johnson reminds me of Garden Tour Nancy's flock.

This Red Hens quilt by Merri Johnson reminds me of Garden Tour Nancy’s flock.

Harvest Pumpkins by Joanie Chapel

Harvest Pumpkins by Joanie Chapel

Charlie Brown's Pumpkin Patch by Becky Olson-Evans

Charlie Brown’s Pumpkin Patch by Becky Olson-Evans

Palette Explosion

Palette Explosion

None the Same by Nellie Beasley

None the Same by Nellie Beasley

You can see more photos of the quilts on my Ilwaco blog, here.  I should have rousted out to see it during the previous day’s rainy weather.  Had not been able to tear myself away from processing photos of my trip.

On our way out of town, we saw a change at the stoplight corner.  We’d have to get a proper photo later as we were in a rush to get working.

something has changed

something has changed

Long Beach

After the quilt show, we finally headed to Long Beach to deadhead narcissi in the planters and street tree gardens and parks.  I suppose there had been some dead flowers during the week.  I had not even thought about work during my time at the hotel (which means I had not figured out any solution to our overwork problem).  I’d decided that it was not going to ruin anyone’s beach vacation to see some weeds or dead flowers.  If the vacationer was not a gardener, they would not notice.  If they were a gardener, they could feel sympathetic and/or happy with themselves for being a superior gardener.

in Long Beach: Tulip 'Lilac Wonder' by the police station

in Long Beach: Tulip ‘Lilac Wonder’ by the police station

Allan and I split up and I walked the southern blocks while Allan did the northern.  My head was still not in work mode after seven glorious days off.  Before my trip, I had been in high spring clean up gear and all systems were go, go, go.  I needed to rev myself back up somehow.  Some things in Long Beach would have to wait because we needed to do another job today, as well.

The carousel is now in operation for the tourist season.

The carousel is now in operation for the tourist season.

the tulip bed in Fifth Street Park needed deadheading and I ignored it!

the tulip bed in Fifth Street Park needed deadheading and I ignored it!

I noticed that the new Thai place was open.

I noticed that the new Thai place was open.

a parrot tulip bud

a parrot tulip bud

the sort of horrible deadheads that people had had to look at while I was one

the sort of horrible deadheads that people had had to look at while I was one

stunning red tulip still going strong outside the smoke shop

stunning red tulip still going strong outside the smoke shop

back up the other side of street, the primroses by the new Malai Thai

back up the other side of street, the primroses by the new Malai Thai

backlit tulips

backlit tulips

asphodel...got it at Joy Creek some years ago, would love to get more; it's a great doer!

asphodel…got it at Joy Creek some years ago, would love to get more; it’s a great doer!

If I ever see it for sale, I will buy lots and lots and lots.

If I ever see it for sale, I will buy lots and lots and lots.

Allan's photo: narcissi and heuchera by the Elks Lodge

Allan’s photo: narcissi and heuchera by the Elks Lodge

Allan's photo: dwarf rhododendron by Funland

Allan’s photo: dwarf rhododendron by Funland

Andersen’s RV Park

After our quick one hour walk around in Long Beach, we went to Andersen’s on the mission of planting sweet peas along the picket fence.  I sorted a few out from each of the many colours that I have this year.

sweetpeas

sweet peas sorted for Andersen’s, some of each

The sweet pea names:  Princess El1zabeth, Beaujolais, Blue Streamers, Beaujalais, Painted Lady, Saltwater Taffy Swirls, Chocolate Streamers, Velvet Elegance, Black Knight, Janet Scott, Watermelon, Countess Cadogan, Lipstick, Lord Nelson, Old Spice Mix, Zinfandel, Miss Willmott, Flora Norton, Jewels of Albion, Queen of Hearts, Pastel Sunset, America, Early Multiflora Blend, Chiffon Elegance, Blue Reflection Mix, High Scent Mix.

Last year, I had bad results with sweet peas.  This year, we did an extensive clearing of all other plants along the picket fence, added dairy manure, and applied liberal amounts of sluggo after planting, plus I have enough seeds to do a full replanting if necessary.

Allan's photo: he helped weed along the fence (before)

Allan’s photo: he helped weed along the fence (before)

after (and I did not give him enough time to weed the very end, which had been his original project for today.)

after (and I did not give him enough time to weed the very end, which had been his original project for today.)

sweet peas in, inside and outside the fence

sweet peas in, inside and outside the fence

Allan cleaned up an area to the north of the house so I could plant sweet peas around a bamboo teepee.

Allan's photo: before

Allan’s photo: before

Allan's photo: after

Allan’s photo: after

Lorna likes the big showy narcissi.

Lorna likes the big showy narcissi.

These tulips were getting raves.  They had petered out in one of the big pots because the drainage was clogged.

These tulips were getting raves. They had petered out in one of the big pots because the drainage was clogged.

Lorna had bought some knee high sweet peas which I planted in the back of the Payson Hall planters.  We'll see if that works out.

Lorna had bought some knee high sweet peas which I planted in the back of the Payson Hall planters. We’ll see if that works out.

I had a revelation while looking past Payson Hall at the six whiskey barrels on the lawn. I feel so stupid!  I could not figure out why the narcissi had not come up this spring.  I suddenly remembered our big job last May, digging out all the narcissi and replanting them into the garden, as they had become overcrowded and I wanted the planting of annuals to be easier.  I meant to plant NEW narcissi in the fall and not only did I FORGET but I also forgot WHY I had no flowers this spring.  (The ones in the garden look great, though!)  I hope this is not a sign of increasing addlement.

the west side garden

The west side garden has some of the narcissi from the barrels.

Ilwaco 

On the way out of town this morning we had noticed that the murals were up, as promised, at the old Oddfellows building on the corner.  It has recently been purchased and is being fixed up.  We would have participated but the main part of the project happened while I was gone.  I had made a picture of the volunteer group’s publicity release and an old photo I had.

project

ilwaco

close

a long shot taken the next day

a long shot taken the next day

Tackle renovation of this very old building is an impressive project..

Next: rain was predicted for Sunday and I still had not managed to kick myself back into mental gear for catching up at work.  At least it felt great to cross Andersen’s off of the sweet pea planting list.

 

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Monday, 16 March 2015

On March 16th, the day after Allan got home from the Sylvia Beach Hotel, the crabbers at the gear shed next door were tarping down their pots for the season.

DSC01211

DSC01212

During the time I was gone to the Sylvia Beach Hotel, Allan had (bless him!) done some of the gardening work. On March 16th, he finished the Big Pop Out in Long Beach, a task completion that had been eluding us.

March 16: before

March 16: before

after

after, rugosa roses controlled (for now) all along the fence and a weed infested kinnickinick removed

before and after...impressive!

before and after…impressive!

his load of debris

his load of debris

species tulips in the big pop out

species tulips in the big pop out

Thursday, 19th March 2015

(You can read about Allan’s March 18th boating trip in yesterday’s post.)

On March 19th, he tackled the dreaded weeding of the Bolstadt Beach Approach blocks-long garden and felt discouraged by how long it took him to accomplish this much; it’s a horribly hard job:

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before

Three hours later.  I personally think that is pretty fast and efficient.

Three hours later. I personally think that is pretty fast and efficient.

I arrived back from the Sylvia Beach Hotel in the early evening and I have to admit that after my five quiet bookish days, we watched a two hour episode of Survivor in the evening.  The cats were ever so pleased to see me…when they woke up.

Smokey and Mary

Smokey and Mary

I opened my birthday package from Montana Mary; she had given me SIXTY presents, or tried to (she wrote that she may have lost count) including each individual piece chocolate from two fine chocolatiers (one from Wyoming and one from Bozeman, Montana).

presents from Montana Mary

presents from Montana Mary

Mary says “both are owned by charming people who produce marvelous confections!”  (A couple of days later, I got another little package from her, some “chocolate” seeds from Chocolate flower farms: chocolate colored nasturtiums and chocolate cherry tomatoes.)

Allan made delicious muffins from the flour.

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Before I’d gone on my trip, Allan had given me a set of books relating to my Green Lake neighbourhood Seattle childhood.  Of course, I had been too immersed in the Sylvia Beach Hotel room journals to read them.  They still awaited my perusal.

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My old friend Shaz, now an Oregonian but who once lived by the bay where years ago I had made a garden for her, sent art supplies:

inspirational

inspirational

Friday, 20 March 2015

view from our north windows

view from our north windows

On my first full day back, I was ever so pleased at torrents of rain because it gave me the opportunity to download and start processing all the photos from my stay at the Sylvia Beach Hotel.  The cats had been so glad to see me last night and sat right by me.

Smokey and Mary

Smokey and Mary

In the evening, we were joined at the Cove Restaurant by Carol and J9 and Kathleen for a belated celebration of my 60th birthday, since I had spent my birthday itself with Carol at the Sylvia Beach Hotel. Bill and Susie of the Boreas Inn stopped by but could not stay as they were checking in some guests that evening.  I took my new camera to dinner; not a good choice, as the old camera known as Spot, which takes bad outdoor photos, is the one that takes good indoor ones.  As we drove north in the rainy dark through Long Beach, I could see deadheads (dead flowers, not lounging hippies) in the planters and felt some small urgency about work.

Allan's photo: We had a table right by the fire.

Allan’s photo: We had a table right by the fire.

Carol and Kathleen at dinner

Carol and Kathleen at dinner

an appetizer of five "prawns solo", the perfect number for our group

an appetizer of five “prawns solo”, the perfect number for our group

Carol's bahn mi sandwich, my steak salad

Carol’s bahn mi sandwich, my steak salad

presents!

presents!

From J9: Catnip Murders art print by an Astoria artist; from Kathleen: Harper Lee in large print and my favourite tea (Earl Grey) and some Nestle’s Crunch and peanut butter cups.  The candy is a shoutout to our fun time at Halloween, when she helped us give out candy and learned my favourites from the Halloween mixed chocolates bag.  From Susie: a pretty little purse with some fancy lip balm inside and a date to take us out to lunch on Sunday!

from Allan, a Hello Kitty gardening set!

from Allan, a Hello Kitty gardening set! for one of my plant tables

It had been an extravagant birthday week (and was not quite over, with the lunch date with Susie and Bill coming up).  However, the weather was due to change and I seriously had to get back to work.

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Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Allan goes boating on the North River

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The North River is at the top of Willapa Bay, a little over an hour away from Ilwaco. Further upstream it also crosses Highway 101 near Artic. A local told me today that he once boated 35 miles from Artic down to Willapa Bay. Well, sorry, we’re just going upriver three and a quarter miles, but this isn’t just an ordinary woodsy river.

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Lower North River at low tide. Launch is at lower right.

See those white dots in the river above the ‘105’ sign? I found out from poking around the internet that those are floating cabins. There are no access roads, nor do any cabins seem to be for sale as far as my searches can determine. Zillow.com doesn’t place a value on these cabins either but if you want a 500 square foot cabin in Seattle, $275,000 will get you one next to  Gas Works Park. http://seattlehouseboatrentals.com/sales.htm

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The tide was a plus eight feet and falling but I had previously seen the ramp without mud at a one foot tide. The incoming tide could have helped me upstream if I had arrived earlier. I was sure of a quick trip back. Turned out my speed upstream was about 2-3 mph but I later got a 6.9 mph top speed reading downstream for a 2.9 mph moving average overall.

boat

Smith Creek launch at 8 foot tide.

Let’s check out the cabins.

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Under the first bridge & leaving Smith Creek.

Smith Creek and the rest of the North River are going to have to be another trip. The other boats I saw today had motors and probably could explore a lot more quickly but not quietly.

DSC01228

Pilings to the left and the North River bridge ahead.

Rounding the point and heading upstream.

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Cabins ahead

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The first neighborhood of cabins

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There is a nice artistic sequence of a landing goose on the first cabin. Their next cabin has a couple of geese strung up by their little necks. This is the land where fresh food delivers itself.

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A home with a boat garage…

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…and a glassed in porch and covered wood pile / work area.

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Here is a place ready for fishing off the back porch.

 Out of respect for their privacy, I tried to stay mid river or on the other side. I imagine people don’t set up cabins out in nowheresville to have boaters gawk at them all day.

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Enclosed porches often had the workshops combined with storage rooms to leave the rest of the cabin less cluttered.

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More cabins upstream

These places must have been built elsewhere and towed in.

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I was on the opposite shore to give this guy his privacy and got a wave anyway. On the way back a couple of boats had docked, the deck was full of friends on chairs and the smell of barbecue drifted over.

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Sound of an outboard coming downstream

Power boats aren’t sneaky but usually good for a wave.

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A tunnel under the branches

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Another lone cabin

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Protected by pilings

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This boat slowed down until I put out a thumbs up sign. I also noticed that when I came back with the tide pretty low, a pair of vehicles with their boats already trailered waited until I beached before they drove off. I like to think people watch out for each other out here.

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‘google earth’ doesn’t show any access roads – the river is their highway (low tide view).

This fork in the river might have been an island, maybe not. Given a choice of a wide empty river or a narrow branch with cabins, of course I took the cabin route. The woods and muddy banks on the main channel  can wait. On the Chinook River trip I heard from another kayaker that it’s sometimes hard to remember features of the individual rivers. I’m being a little heavy on the pictures so I can relive these trips later. I discovered later that the wider branch was the one to Artic and beyond. Yah sure, maybe if I was going downstream but not today, upstream, and against the tide.

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An ‘on the water’ view of the string of cabins shown previously

Up cabin row. The pilings are high enough for a flood and a log boom helps prevent bumps in the night.

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Huzzah, a canoe on Riverside Drive.

Lewis and Clark are pointing to where you can find their trail about fifty miles south.

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Fresh water system

A water collection system with no garden.

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That little duck above the end of the log is a female hooded merganser I think,  hanging with a male mallard. She had lovely light brown feathers done up in a mohawk that let the sun filter through. They were the best looking couple on the river and posed for a couple of movies.  They did fancy footwork swim-bys, log-hops and aerial feats for me that I couldn’t do.  First here’s a generic picture of her from the web:

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A female hooded merganser

And here is a 45 second video of this couple’s performance:     North River ducks video 

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A very old cattle chute?

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A gate

This floating log was hooked between two fallen trees. Just a little push to the left would have freed it and let it float away but I  couldn’t slide it sideways.  I was able to push it upstream and paddle through, and then, it closed behind me.

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An interesting island a hundred feet ahead but the waterway was blocked on both sides. I was not going to join up with the main channel or go upstream any further.

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A boat garage.

I parked in the garage, got out some food, turned around and went to undo the gate again.

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Now, all I have to do is grab the left side of the log, and pull it open against the current. Just like pushing but backwards.  It really wasn’t the same at all.

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up & over

Instead, it was a push down on the shallow end of the log and pulling myself over.

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Now it’s back down the other side of the cabins and home.

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Greetings from Chinook!

As I approached the bridge I used up the last of the camera battery stalking a seal that had splashed off a dock. Didn’t get a picture but above is a cute picture of a seal I took up the Columbia River.

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‘MapMyWalk’ took me straight overland at the end when the battery totally died while looking for the seal.

 

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The Garmin’s timer is right so the rest should be too. This included a mile round trip off the main channel. 

 

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The rod is supposed to be straight

It must have been fun as I had to unbend both flipper rods on the foot drive when I got home. It seemed to have run OK and I wasn’t trying to jump the log either. The shallow side channels did grind me to a halt a few times as I looked for relics of the timber industry that used to be here but I’m not sure what I hit.

Next time maybe it will be less cabin shopping and more upriver paddling for the easy float back, I’m not done with this river yet.

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Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Carol and I woke in the Emily Dickinson room and went to breakfast in the Tables of Content, putting my birthday presents from yesterday in her car on the way.

I always admire the porch two doors south of the SBH.

I always admire the porch two doors south of the SBH.

I walk around the north side of the hotel and down the ramp to the restaurant; it’s easier for me than the stairs, on which I slow people down.

the hotel's morning shadow

the hotel’s morning shadow

After the breakfast, delicious as always, we climbed to the library to await the switch to the Jules Verne room on the first floor.  We would rather move our luggage than have the housekeepers do it.

"my" blue chair

“my” blue chair in the third floor library

my view to the south; Carol is still reading The Historian.

my view to the south; Carol is still reading The Historian.

At 12:00 or so, we checked into the Verne room.  The housekeeping staff had indeed moved most of our luggage down from Emily’s room before we could do it ourselves.  (We make sure to leave a good tip in the room each day; the other option is to put a tip in the jar on the front desk.)

The Jules Verne room

The Jules Verne room, which used to be Robert Louis Stevenson.  The adjoining door goes to the Tolkien room, and the rooms can be shared if there are friends next door.

over the desk

over the desk

the door.  (The blue pad is the comfy extra sleeping bed that we lug around with us.)

the door. (The blue pad is the comfy extra sleeping bed that we lug around with us.)  That’s the Alice Walker room across the hall.

bathroom wall mural

The luxuriously large bathroom has a wall mural.

A door leads out to a deck by the front door of the hotel.  Edna, who used to stay here for years, would sit out here and greet guests.  I was told some of her ashes are in the garden here.

A door leads out to a deck by the front door of the hotel. Edna, who used to stay here for weeks at a time in the RLS room, would sit out here and greet guests. I was told some of her ashes are in the garden here.

At the front desk, I talked to the clerk about how much I love Pat Henderson’s journal entries.  She showed me a model he has made, and said he has an even more elaborate one in the making.

model by Pat

model by Pat

After we’re settled into Verne, Carol walked down to the Old Town port.  I noticed that the Dr. Seuss room was open, so I settled in there to read room journals.  This entry spoke to me:  “These journals are such a delight.  I could read them for hours and hours (as I have).”  I am now into day 5 of journal reading and have only shared with you an iota.  The most angsty personal posts you will have to go and read yourself; I share the ones that specifically move and inspire and comfort me, and the ones that praise the hotel, but not the most excruciatingly brave and personal ones (even though I eliminate names and even though they are my very favourites of all).

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The Dr. Seuss room is where Robert and I stayed when we walked into the hotel on a whim in summer of 1991.  (I had read about its author theme in Northwest Best Places.)  I found the first journal entry I ever wrote…in doggerel (or catterel) as many Seuss journal entries are written:

mypoemwhole

 I have much more peaceable cats now and they come and go in the bedroom as they please.

view from the Dr. Seuss room

view from the Dr. Seuss room

Back up the library, where I read an old journal from the former E.B. White room.  I was pleased to find two entries from my also journal obsessed friend Destiny.   “I picked up a few of this room’s journals not expecting much, but I have been amazed at the art work.  I just hope that NO ONE tears them out for their own selfish pleasure.  (My aunt’s lighthouse from a couple of years ago has been stolen.)  This is a magical place and the enchantment is returning to see all that you have written over the years.  The other amazing thing is that this is such a place for readers and writers.”  She adds a postscript:  “11 years later, EB White is no more but I still was able to find this journal in the upstairs library—NOW where the bloody hell can the POE journals have gone to?”  

********************

 I quested into the library attic for more journals (if only I could find the POE journals), and there I discovered a treasure. Tucked in with some jigsaw puzzles was a thin notebook with some book recommendations by hotel owner Goody Cable.  I intend to read them all.

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I LOVE May Sarton, especially Journal of a Solitude.

I LOVE May Sarton, especially Journal of a Solitude.

A prowl for more journals lead me down to the first floor again and the Agatha Christie room, one where I have stayed with Mary and with Carol.

Agatha Christie's room is large with north and west windows and a fireplace.

Agatha Christie’s room is large with north and west windows and a fireplace.

agatha2

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As with the last time I stayed in this room, I searched and searched but could only find one old journal, a very tiny one with a deeply moving first entry by a woman who celebrating her 93rd birthday.

“Remembering: Birthday visit. Agatha Christie Room.  Standing on the balcony, I look at the ocean, the every changing, always the same ocean.  The ‘wild white horses’ ride the waves only to collapse, powerless now and dead, upon the sand.  Three children, hair ruffled by the wind, run, laughing, to meet the waves, squealing with delight as the foam almost, but not quite, reaches their dancing feet.

Gulls, on the wing, scream their anger at the children, and a large brown barking dog cheats them out of their hope of finding food left by the retreating tide.  Away they go to a more secluded place, shut off by huge rocks and piles driftwood logs, to peck for their share of the sea’s largesse.

The sun is warm on my shoulders.  The sea breeze is cool on my face.  My eyes, tiring from the brightness and the constant movement of the water, I go inside to warmth and stillness and a book.

Now it is almost time for the dinner.  The cool, clean air has made me hungry. Down we go to the dining room.  Soft lighting, good smells, happy people.

Climbing the stairs, I go slowly.  Younger feet than mine pass by me but I have grown used to that.  One does when one becomes a nonagenarian!  Reaching the last step but one, I thankfully accept the strong, young hand held out to lift me up.  No longer am I too proud to accept such a gesture.  (Once, a long, long time ago, I had been the one to extend that helping hand.)

A book again, an hour or two of reading, then sleep. ” 

I have to save this; what if this journal, too, went away and her words were lost forever?  After praising the hotel breakfast, she closes with “Perhaps this book can be placed in the intriguing small, old desk in the Agatha Christie room so that later occupants can add their comments on a visit there”, and she signs it “Lovingly, Gertrude Miller” with her address.  I would write to her but….another journaler adds, “Gertrude was here in early spring 91 celebrating her 93rd birthday” and that brings tears to my eyes because she must be gone now.  Yes, it is easy to cry here, 24 years later, wishing I could meet Gertrude Miller.  Thank goodness the book is still in the desk, and is filled with more entries to follow.

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gertrude

I realized that the Wilde room is still open, so I took more journals from it, two at a time with the usual anxiety of getting them returned before a guest checks in.  I took them to the library because I’d be embarrassed to be found sitting at the desk in a room guests are checking into.  As it turned out, the room is still empty that evening and the worry was unnecessary.

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the ever changing view

the ever changing view

A most excellent entry: “Opening Oscar’s little desk, I come upon a quote from the writing of an old friend, describing a quiet night with his wife (now dead) by the pond near his home—across the mountain from mine.  The sounds and sensations that he notes are familiar to me—the bird calls, that night swooping owl—and thousands of miles away from this rolling seascape—familiar to me also is his thought at the end of the passage, as he strains to identify who/what it is that moves in the forest near the pond and knows ‘that I will never know’.  So I am once again open-hearted, terrified and eager to know, at the lip of mystery seeking to name what moves in my heart and knowing that I will never know.”

***********************************************

A frequent visitor wrote: “Time has softened the intense grief I was feeling the last time I was here.  There are small compartments in my mind-heart where the memories of departed spirits I have known reside.  …I no longer have the constant renewal of their presences in my life.  But I’m still grateful for reach life that has touched mine and enriched it.  I’m trusting that my spirit does the same for others.”

Yes, your spirit DOES touch and enrich mine.

by my window; I posed this photo on the Sylvia Beach Hotel Lovers Facebook page and got this comment:  "Hey, someone's in my chair!"

by “my” window; I posted this photo on the Sylvia Beach Hotel Lovers Facebook page and got this comment: “Hey, someone’s in my chair!”

Another comment in the Wilde journals by someone who is taken, as I am, by P___ L___’s entries about traveling with her bears:  “Dear P____ L____, we have bears, too!”  She, Pat H and Wild Rose are the most prolific of all the journal writers.  I find an entry by Pat H in 2000:  “Whatever happened to all those journals entries by P____ L___ of Portland?  Did I overlook them? Is she well?”  (She did return as late as 2005.)

Pat H. laments the loss of Oscar’s journals.  (Yesterday, I read a later entry in which he says they were returned to the room.)

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The very first entry in the Wilde journals, by the roomer (room creator:)

3-14-87 “We are now in the middle of the open houses and people are really excited!  It’s been fun doing this room.  I hope it gives the welcome I’ve hoped for for any one who stays here.  There are no bad spirits in this hotel.  That’s amazing considering its history.  There were so many times during this project when I didn’t think we would go—Goody never gave up.  Now we all share the gift.”

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Here is one by my favourite journaler, P____ L_____:  12/19/87  “It is brisk and biting out (not as biting as Oscar’s wit, to be sure).  This room is a guardian against the cold and a welcome host to this traveler after a walk, and a walk, and a walk on the beach.  The town is a stroll away, but this place is like entering a different world—the world of many imaginations.  No television, radio, loud noise, smoke, visual pollution, just the hum of reflection and reading.  My bear and I are content.

 And another.  I love her because she seems so self sufficient and a little eccentric; if I did not have a severe driving phobia, I would go to the SBH alone, a lot:  4/16/88 “This room is more haven to me this time than ever before in the past.  My fellow guests are particularly isolationist this weekend, as, perhaps, am I.  Much of my reading has been with Oscar, rocking with my bear by the window.  I’ve spent a few moments in the library.  I had a long beach walk this morning, savoring the mist and tides, and gazing at a solo kite following the sea gulls over the beach.  Life at Sylvia Beach is good.  I am alone, not lonely, and enjoying my own company.”

Another reader wrote her this message: June 3 1989 “The circumstances which brought me here were not happy but I had a peaceful and enjoyable stay.  The most comforting activity was reading in this book the comments of former guests.  Life goes on….up and down.  A message to P____ L____—I had three bears with me and they send greetings to your bear when you return.”  On June 23, P___ was back and wrote a long entry that began “Thank you, Jean’s bears.”

Later that year, someone else wrote to her:  “In the midst of the masters, we find journals like these, where we can eavesdrop on each other while we practice our scales. P____ L____, everyone wants to meet your bears.  A polaroid perhaps?”

P____ replied on November 23, 1989:  “Bear is thrilled with the attention.  A polarbearoid?  It’s a thought.  Katherine was left at home, however, and Edgar Linton, my newest bear, has accompanied me instead.  I’m keeping my eye out for Heathcliff.  (A black bear, of course.)  I’ve much for which to be grateful, including this quiet hideaway.  The storm has wrapped the hotel in times past and afforded study time for me.  …This may be my last November entry.  I get to return with my wonderful daughter next month—probably no bear.”

During the December visit with her daughter (and no bear):  “My pig slippers had to take the place of the bear in the skilled housekeeper’s hands and they were arranged in joyful poses on the bed.”

I am so very very happy reading these.  I would love to meet her daughter someday.

On 6-19-94, P___ wrote after a stay of several days:  “This is the place where my alter ego holds court—and I thrive.  I’m leaving and here are the lessons I have learned:

1.  Never bring part of the world if I’m trying to get away from it.

2. Time travel is difficult with extra baggage.

I will return at Thanksgiving and will bring only my bears.  They may use the trundle bed.”

I love, love, love, love, love her.  Love her SO much.

As I read, someone new entered the library, exclaimed at the view, and sat and picked up a journal.  She looked immediately absorbed.  Would she become a new journal attic?  Her husband wanted to check into the room.  I wondered if she will return and read more.

journal

the first journal glimpse; I was thrilled when it happened to me.

I was amused to read of people sneaking into other rooms to read journals, just as I do:

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a back and forth between sneaking into Oscar Wilde and into Poe.

All Hallow’s Eve 1991:  “I spent the afternoon reading much of this journal, and upon seeing the report of ‘lewd’ comments in the Oscar Wilde room, immediately snuck up there to read that one—not cover-to-cover, just a few passages, but no lewdness rewarded me there.  Ah well.”

There IS a steamy passage in the 1995 Oscar Wilde journal, and a later entry by the fellow’s girlfriend saying he made it all up!

Edgar Allen Poe room

in the Edgar Allen Poe room in 1991

In hunger, I went to the gift shop and bought myself a snack mix. The library was so quiet that I felt the wrapper made too much noise.  Solution: pour all the mix into a cup from the kitchenette.  Much politer to other readers.

snack

 

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Sometimes, I just admire the look of a page.

Sometimes, I just admire the look of a page.

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garden view from my library window

garden view from my library window

Of course, I wanted to have dinner at the hotel.  Carol demurred.  She said I could go alone, but I often see her only once a year and so I would choose her company over another chance to have a joyous game.  I know a great experience with the Game can be had, and have glimpsed it.  This time, with the two stilted dinners of the night before, it was not to be.  If I could go alone, I’d have the dinner every night in search of a good experience at The Game.  It can happen:

Jan 4 1998 “This is a wonderful place.  Last night at dinner, we played the ‘game’.  At first, not many people wanted to play but then we even went into the lobby to finish playing after dinner was over.”

P___L___had written of what it is like when the game goes well:  “Dinner was all too short.  Two truths and a lie with five people of various ages, all connected with education, went like a well directed play.  All of us were animated and interested.”

So Carol and I went across the street to April’s and had an excellent meal.  I did tease Carol when our meal began with a table of three unusually loud children (and two harried parents) next to us by reminding her that the hotel’s guests would have been much quieter.

flowers outside our ground floor room as we leave for dinner

flowers outside our ground floor room as we leave for dinner

menu

menu excerpt

salad

salad

my dinner (the curry salmon)

my dinner (the curry salmon, as good as it looks)

sunset through the lobby of the SBH

sunset through the lobby of the SBH across the street

More reading followed in the library.  Every chair was occupied and everyone read quietly and the hot spiced wine was delivered early, shortly after nine.  Carol and I were ready and pounced on it!  I said to the fellow waiting his turn in the kitchenette, “It used to come at ten o’clock” and he fervently said “I KNOW!” so maybe he, too, had missed out earlier in the week.

an adventurous journal entry

an adventurous journal entry

another beautiful page

another beautiful page

And here’s my old entry from 2009 going on and on about the journals:

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me09-2

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(Note: the dorms are gone now, replaced by a four-bed room and by Goody’s private retreat.)

My love of the journals is a fascination shared by others:

“I really love coming up the stairs to this room.  Had dinner, enjoyed the hot mulled wine and then finally we found the ‘treasure’ of this room.  These JOURNALS.  How awesome to be able to read so many thoughts and experiences from others I have not met, yet I feel somehow we are connected by the fact that we ended up here and we all seem to share the same delight when writing of this place.  It is a treasure.  An Oasis, and perfect place to self-reflect.”

June 00:  “This is what my Narnia would be like: a closet door that opens to this place—into Wilde or Dickinson or Austen, or any of the others—so that whenever I worry too much and small, silly things start to make me sad, I could escape for awhile and be here instead.  Writing and reading are my sanctuaries.  A book, a fireplace, the ocean outside, and an orange cat who demands to be let into my room so he can spend the night on the foot of the bed.  It’s enough.” 

The orange cat would have been Dickens, here in 2012.

The orange cat would have been Dickens, here in 2012.

“I am beguiled by this thing I am doing….I am writing a message to a completely unknown person.  I know you are out there.  I have been fascinated with reading these journal entries and I see there are others who share this fascination….It is mentioned in the writing and in fact there are ‘conversations’ going on between unknown people who don’t know it’s going on.  How marvelous!  So I wonder who you are.  Yes, you, the person reading this.  Well, I guess we have some things in common….We like to read journals….we like books…we like the ocean.  I feel you are someone who feels peaceful and whole and more real and fully alive when you can spend time on the beach.  I am very much that way.”

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“I think one of my favourite things has been reading the journals.  Many times I wonder what has happened to the people that come through and would love to hear their continuing stories.”

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Destiny:  “The first night I was here I stayed by all night reading all the journals I could find.  (Where do the old journals go? The attic?) It was a brilliant night.”

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Down to the Verne room Carol and I went after our wine, where we read till one AM.

my reading view

my reading view

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I wrote a journal entry with the very cool Verne room pen.

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Verne journal art

Verne journal art

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art

jellyfish nightlight with changing colours

jellyfish nightlight with changing colours

on the bathroom ceiling

on the bathroom ceiling

Verne books

Verne room  books

Thursday, 19 March 2015

The Verne room is famous in the journals for the rushing sound of water from its pipes.  I’d read about it in many entries in the Robert Louis Stevenson room journals.  Back when it was the Stevenson room, the suggestion was often written that it should be the 20.000 Leagues Under the Sea Room.  So now it is, and I found that the torrents of rushing water during people’s morning toilettes gave me an intensely sound sleep between 7 and 9 AM.  I had been looking forward to the pipes experience and it surpassed my expectations in volume.  Others have enjoyed it, too:  “I think this is the most inspired room.  Well done! Every detail was great.  Even hearing all the water rushing through pipes (old building plumbing) seemed like part of the 20,000 Leagues experience.”

in the dining room for our last breakfast

in the dining room for our last breakfast

ah, the peach kuchen and the lemon bars...I will miss them.

ah, the peach kuchen and the lemon bars…I will miss them.

a scrumptious baked egg entree

a scrumptious baked egg entree

Carol at the car while I contemplate the weedy garden (full of bindweed) and fantasize about bringing it back to glory...

Carol at the car in the SBH lot across the street while I contemplate the weedy garden (full of bindweed) and fantasize about bringing it back to glory…

but the bindweed would be a fierce foe.  That's my only thought about actually gardening for the last five days.

but the bindweed would be a fierce foe. That’s my only thought about actually gardening for the last five days.

To my delight, Carol wanted to go for a walk so I got to return to the hotel library to read for another hour or more.

passing our little deck off the Verne room (which made it easy to haul our our luggage)

passing our little deck off the Verne room (which made it easy to haul our our luggage)

in the library, my chair, and two EB White room journals to read.

in the library, my chair, and two EB White room journals to read.

my view, soon to be left behind

my north view, soon to be left behind

a little boat

west view: a little boat

We couldn't have the cat visit us as Carol is slightly allergic.

We couldn’t have the cat visit us as Carol is slightly allergic.

My own worries have been quiet for days...

My own worries have been quiet for days…

So what are some of my takeaways of the inspiration that I sought by coming here?  Well, this one of course:

oscar

needs

from Pat Henderson

This is the way I try to be...unobtrusive but productive.

This is the way I try to be…unobtrusive but productive.

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I had some dark times in 2014. Better now.

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inspired to be strong and despite scary setbacks, do what I can do for as long as possible

Do not let people take away my self-respect.

Hold on to my individual self-respect.

move on, let go of shunning former friends,

move on, emotionally let go of the former friends who shunned me, don’t miss the time that is left for me.

My friend Destiny says:

My friend Destiny says: read more, write more, live more, love more.

live in hope

live in hope

be kinder (something I already strive for)

be kinder (something I already strive for)

Of course, I don’t want to go, and I understand the alleged actions of this couple:

staying

staying2

They did get dragged out, because they wrote that in the Dickinson journal and Carol and I stayed in that room on Tuesday night.  I might have seen some claw marks on the doorjamb as they held on…

Like all journal writers and readers, I hope all future guests have the same depth of experience here as I did.

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sand

The most important piece of enlightenment is an old one.  I must return more often even though it is three and a half hours from home.

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cat

back

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Tuesday, 17 March 2015

In which I continue reflecting upon how the Sylvia Beach room journals speak to me and help me in my quest for figuring out the best way to live…

Last night in the Jane Austen room journals, I had found a birthday entry.

I found a birthday journal entry for my birthday at the SBH

I found a birthday journal entry for my birthday at the SBH

I like the birthday poem even though the last time I have a vivid memory of actually being lonely was in 1979.

This week, I had set up the perfect birthday to myself: a day of reading Sylvia Beach room journals.  Today is my 6oth birthday and I chose to spend it with my dear old friend, Carol, also 60, at the Sylvia Beach Hotel.  In a perfect world, Montana Mary (who loves the SBH) would have been there, too, as she will turn 60 on March 21st, along with Kathleen Shaw and Garden Tour Nancy and Sheila and J9, all my bookish friends.   Carol is my Sylvia Beach companion, and I’ve also been there with Mary, but I’d like to introduce them all to the place.  We could rent the cuckoo’s nest!  Some birthday thoughts from the journals:

I’d long awaited a birthday vacation to the beach and finally, on the 24th year of my blossoming life, my wish was granted.”

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“Today is my 8th night in the Oscar Wilde room.  I am here in SBH for 12 days.  This is the longest I’ve stayed here but as I am celebrating my 70th birthday it is my gift to self.”  [Note to myself: if I had 5 night for my 60th, maybe I will have 10 for my 65th and 15 for my 70th!!]

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I did not meet any other St Patrick's Day babies.

I did not meet any other St Patrick’s Day babies.

Today I began my 76th year with a See’s chocolate nut cluster!  A good beginning!  It’s nice being ‘cloistered’ here.  I don’t know what’s going on in the world so I don’t have any worries.  It’s a relief to know that my worries are of external origins.  Inside myself I feel at peace.”

As long as the journals exist, so does one memory of the person who wrote this.

As long as the journals exist, so does one memory of the person who wrote this.

Someone wrote in a long journal entry:  “I’ve observed that you live on with people for maybe one generation and then you’re gone.”  I read a novel once (The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier) in which after death, people go to a pleasant purgatory where they hang out in cafes and wait around until the very last person on earth who remembered them dies, and then they move on to a new place. I loved that concept.

**********************************

 In honour of Carol (my friend for the past 37 years) and all my good friends, two journal entries about friendship:

March 23, 2001:  “What an extraordinary place this is.  A haven and delight. I’m here on a serendipitous visit with my dearest friend.  How lucky we are to have the sort of friendship that carries on through time, and distance, and then perks up again as though we were still living across the hall from each other, when we meet.  We can still talk about anything under the sun, or nothing at all.  Kindred spirits.”

That also well describes my friendship with Montana Mary, whom I’ve known since we were 12.

One of Jane’s themes was the power of sisterhood.  She understood, and was able to communicate, the special bond that womyn’s friendship encompasses.  We have shared 7 years of best-friendship and truly are more like kindred spirits or sisters.  I feel blessed that I have the strength of our bond to draw on when I need it and that I, too, am strong for her.  Many people don’t understand that our friendship is as deep as the ocean and as wide as the sky.  I think our society places the romantic bond as the ultimate intimacy but perhaps platonic relationships can be just as fulfilling…we we open our hearts to the possibility.  As Christopher Robyn says, ‘Friendship is a very comforting sort of thing to have’.”

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“Don’t know what it is like to have a crowd of friends.  Mine are occasionally one or two.  It’s great to hear stories at the breakfast table of groups of friends hilariously joking.  Writing, I am reminded of the different hermit life I live.  But I love the silences and peace, my inner world filled already.”

 I agree with the writer above that groups of friends are not a part of my life.  I’ve tried it and it was a disaster.  I think its a trait of being on the autism spectrum that it is extremely hard for me to follow conversations in a group. Allan commented to me when I stopped doing “the group thing” that he was relieved.  He would join me, to be with me, but he felt ignored and discounted because he’s quiet.   I tend to focus one on one even in a group situation and cannot keep up with cross talk, and as soon as I say something, my voice rings in my own ears with the sound of stupidity. Individual friendships are what work for me, but the enticement of hearing happy laughing groups is what inspired me to try (and fail at) the group thing.  I jumped into a group all at once without knowing most of them well; what a mistake. All my close friends now are one-on-one types, and it works to blend them together sometimes.

That is, I just realized, why I so love The Game (Two Truths and a Lie) at SBH dinners.  When it works well, attention is paid to each individual at the table.  Each person is asked questions and given time to answer, and SBH owner Goody explained to me that that is why the Game is suggested each night before dinner is served.  I love listening to the quietest people being drawn out and encouraged.  Even though I also think there is nothing wrong with people who choose to decline to play, I wish they would so I could hear their stories.

But, back to the daily rituals of the Sylvia Beach Hotel.  Breakfast in the Tables of Content was most delicious with one of my favourites of their rotating menu.

menu

breakfast offerings

breakfast offerings

breakfast entree

breakfast entree

After breakfast, Carol departed for her long daily walk while I repaired to the Lincoln Steffens room to read the journals, starting with the remainder of the typed folders.

note the typewriters on the transom window

note the typewriters on the transom window

in the Lincoln Steffans room

in the Lincoln Steffens room

steffans

I wonder if those pennies are from Steffens’ time? Did not think to look.

steffans

 

This article explains the magic to which journal writers often refer:

mist

I learned that Steffens pinpointed my feelings about solitude:

solitude

I always enjoy a Star Trek reference:

startrek

A memory of the hotel before it became the SBH:  “When my wife and I walked on the beach below here on Sunday mornings and looked up at the old building, speculating that it was too bad it couldn’t be saved, but that it would be probably better for the world—and safer—if they tore it down anyway, we knew it as the Gilmore Hotel.

“But looking at a place to stay overnight now, since we live in Seattle, I was struck not only by the miracle of hotel reclamation, but by the nice name you had chosen.  I of course had heard of Nye and Agate, but Sylvia Beach? And to think we’d used to go walking in those very sands, not knowing the name.”  (I think the writer is being droll.)

While many of the Steffens room typed entries are ABOUT the experience of typing on an old machine, and the memories it brings back, and the comparison to word processors and computers, there are a few scintillating personal stories, and then this, with which I much identify.  Like Harriet the Spy, I want to know everything about everybody (not really, I don’t want to know horrible things about horrible people) and the SBH is a great place to learn how people think.

snoopy

But it’s not a place to learn how everyone thinks, just the kind of person who goes to that special hotel.  That’s why I love the journals more than any online journaling that I’ve found; the Sylvia Beach attracts a certain KIND of person, and that’s the kind of person I want to know more about….the quiet, bookish people.

I followed some instructions in the typed journals:

page

the last page, as instructed

I looked at the last page, as instructed

I admit I had never heard of the liberal, muckraking Lincoln Steffens before my 1991 first visit to the SBH; I now intend to read his long autobiography.

teddy

By now, I had checked into the Emily Dickinson room right next door and had taken the Steffens journals in there to read.  I followed the journal’s advice and walked back into Steffens to have a look at the photo of Teddy Roosevelt:

"The gift of the gods to Theodore Roosevelt was joy, joy in life." -Lincoln Steffans

“The gift of the gods to Theodore Roosevelt was joy, joy in life.” -Lincoln Steffans

Here is the Emily Dickinson room’s comfortable chair where I sat reading journals:

emily2

view from my chair

view from my chair

Dickinson room

Dickinson room

Dicksinson room

Dicksinson room

an iPhone panorama

an iPhone panorama

Emily's desk

Emily’s desk

Oh dear, not as many old journals remain as in Jane's room....

Oh dear, not as many old journals remain as in Jane’s room….good thing I’ve perused most of them before when the room was unoccupied.

Here, too, people write to Emily, as they do to Jane.  3-11-93: “Stopped by to visit you after recently being introduced to your works.  Even though you were out, I felt as if we were communicating through our thoughts this whole week.  It was a wonderful experience.”

*****************

Sept 30, 1991:  Emily, Thank you for the serenity of your room.  It was a joy to get to know you as my grandmother and I read so many of your poems and the books about your life.  The wisdom of the sea, the gulls, the weathered rocks remind me of the lessons of life my grandmother has taught me through the years.  Like last night’s sunset, this was a perfect finale to my grandmother’s visit.

I think this is her grandma’s entry:    “In much of my eighty years, I have searched for a vacation spot that was just right for me.  I’ve found it here at the Sylvia Beach Hotel in Emily Dickinson’s room where the view of the sea greets me as I wake up, where I find books and comforts, but no telephone or T.V.  I am enjoying being with my granddaughter who brought me here.”

*****************************************

The mulled wine appeared again in a journal!  See yesterday’s entry for how Carol and I missed out the previous evening, and then journal entries galore about the wine appeared.  Tonight, we would not be denied!

To the library, it’s ten o’clock, for hot wine with cinnamon and interesting talk.

It’s a cold and blustery autumn day.  I know Lincoln Steffans would have liked it that way.”

and

wine3

 and

For us the opportunity to share spice wine (wassail) and relax in the reading room offered a sense of peace and serenity that could only be matched by this great Inn and the holiday season.”

and, humorously:

What’s with the complimentary wine and night? 10 PM is coming quick and I’m dreading going up to sup wine with a bunch of baby-boomers, pre-geriatric fuddy duddies who are going to paint me into a corner with small talk.  Now you may think that this is my as yet undiagnosed social anxiety disorder shining through but you would be incorrect.  I just so happen to be the most easy-going, laid back, well adjusted person I know….in addition to my sterling good looks …I am also ostensibly modest; just ask anyone who knows me.

“Maybe we should’ve stayed at that cheap hotel on Hwy 101 with Home Box Office, microwave and a fridge.  I could be watching a clever situation comedy right now and eating processed foodstuffs.”

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 More love for the journals:

I am here alone.  I don’t believe in ghost stories, but as I read the pages left by my predecessors, I am struck by the notion that it is they who continue to live in this room, not its namesake.  It is simply delightful to be offered this unusual chance at immortality.”

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You who have written before do so with, or rather have done with, such eloquence.  I don’t feel able to match it but I could not leave such a magical place without a word.  If you haven’t read the letters and notes kept in the library do take a look.”

Having finished the journals, in all the typed folders and  three handwritten books, in the Steffens room, I started to snag the journals out of the unoccupied Oscar Wilde room.

Oscar Wilde room

Oscar Wilde room

the door to Oscar's deck (used to be a window people climbed out of)

the door to Oscar’s deck (used to be a window people climbed out of)

desk with old journals

desk with old journals

I wanted to reread the entries by P____  L_____, a woman who wrote prolifically from about 1987 to 2005, mostly in the Wilde room.  I loved her entries, and when I visited in 1991 I had left my address for her, and she had written me.  We corresponded for awhile but lost touch after I moved to Ilwaco.  Not only did I find most of her entries (so droll, as she always brought a teddy bear with her), but I also found an entry by a friend of hers:  December 11, 2007.  “Turned 70 last month, and realized a wish to stay at the SBH.  The stay in Oscar’s room was strictly availability, and imagine my serendipitous surprise when poring through the 9 O.W. journals that my friend from Portland has been a TWENTY-YEAR friend of Mr. Wilde’s—none other than the famous journal writer of passion, precision, and pristine spirits, P____ L_____.  Happy 70th birthday, P___, and I look forward to catching up with you later this month.”

I was touched to read that in 1993, someone had worried about her absence:  Nov 14 93: “I am sad to see that P___ L___ has ended her entries in Oscar.  She made my reading moments enjoyable.  Oh, P____, I do hope that life is kind and nurturing to you right now.  I hope that no ill has come to you, though I fear it has.  Horrid, if so.”  P___L herself replied in 1994:  “Never fear, all the lovely spirits who have left wisps of friendship for me.  I am indeed alive, well, and prospering, if not in money, in depth of life…..  I intend to write to Ms. Walker, hoping her address is unchanged since 1991. We’ll see.”  (Nowadays instead of leaving my mailing address, I put my website after my journal entries in hope that another SBH lover might track me down.)

Only one of the old Wilde journals was missing, one that contained an entry by me (the one where I left my address and a postage stamp for P___) as I stayed in that room in autumn of 1991.  In a later journal, an entry by prolific journaler Pat Henderson mentions that his first entry was in 1992.  I couldn’t find it; in an even later entry he quoted it, and unlike his other prolifically entertaining entries, it was just one line:  “A restful and renewing experience” and he added “Have managed to increase my ‘babble factor’ several-fold since then.”  Do look for his entries in the library and room journals.  I love them.

Note that Pat H. also reveals that the Wilde journals were missing for awhile and then returned.  That gives me hope for the lost journals of the Poe room, etc.  What if a regular guest of the Poe or Cather or Undset rooms was as prolific and fascinating as P____L____ herself, and that person’s entries are lost to us because the journals are gone?

I did find an update from myself on another occasion when I had borrowed the Wilde room journals:

me

More fans of the Wilde journals:

After taking a walk on the beach, I came back and found the journals.  I’ve been scouring them for over 30 minutes.  They’re just so amazing. I hope one of you reads this.”

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July 31, 2014  “Reading through these journal entries is one of the best things about staying here.  The entries are a time machine into the souls of those who have stayed at the Sylvia Beach and understood its magic.  So many souls are witty, enchanting, vulnerable, clever, inspiring, honest.  It has been such a pleasure to be another soul wandering the hallways, adding the dust from my fingertips to the most marvelous collection.  This is only my second visit to SBH and certainly will not be anywhere near my last.  The comforting arms of the building and  its technology-less time travel capabilities are too important to ignore for long.

****************

As someone who as reclaimed reclusivity, I liked this post about trying and then retreating from “peopleness”:  “I enjoy reclusiveness.  People are often too strange for me with odd talk of should and division.  I sometimes enter into peopleness and learn things, then retreat when they take me so wrong and define me backwards.  I feel much misunderstood, very crystalline and faceted.  I can entertain myself thinking.”

door

The Mark Twain room was empty so I went in…

Twain room

Twain room

Twain in 2008

I stayed in Twain in 2008; it is one of three rooms with fireplaces.

I would love to re-read all the journals...but I am sure someone is about to check in...so I have to leave them.

I would love to re-read all the Twain journals…but I am sure someone is about to check in…so I have to leave them.

I hope to stay in the Twain room to enjoy the journals...next time...and it has a clawfoot tub.

I hope to stay in the Twain room to enjoy the journals…next time…and it has a clawfoot tub.

I was terribly anxious about getting the Wilde journals returned before someone checked in, so I did not read them all.

art

Carol and I read in the Dickinson room until dinnertime.

Carol has the chair now.

Carol in the window chair, me propped up on the bed pillows.

emily

art in Dickinson

When we went to dinner at the Tables of Content, we sat at a more convivial table of 9 than the previous evening’s awkward group.  There was a retired helicopter pilot whose new hearing aids hampered him from hearing others at the table, a young couple, she a pharmacy technician and he an avid player of Magic: The Gathering; there was a woman from Romania who has gone back to college as her previous degrees are useless here, a retired forestry worker, his quiet wife, and some other very quiet ones.  However, even though all but three particpated in the Game (Two Truths and a Lie), once again hardly anyone took advantage of being able to ask three questions.  Just like last night, it was as if the guests had no particular interest in the stories of others.  I was mystified.

My birthday remained a secret between me and Carol.  After dinner, I opened my presents from her in Emily Dickinson’s room, and then we went on reading into the evening…..

six presents, one for each decade

six presents, one for each decade

Above: Six presents from Carol, one for each decade: a quilt and two placemats made by a friend of hers, chocolates, wine, and a beautiful wooden box.  Carol went up to the library at 9:30 PM instead of 10:00 PM and returned triumphantly with two cups of hot spiced wine!  It does come earlier than 10 PM these days.  We read on until 1 AM.

bee

More than once, I have read of the innkeeper inviting people to explore the open rooms and then linger in the third floor library:  “Stopped here once in ’83, in a rainstorm, didn’t book, but the nice folks showed us some of the rooms and invited us to linger in the library, which we did.  We knew we wanted to come back, but didn’t think it would take 26 years….Getting old is tying up loose ends.”

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Some evocative Newport history:February 27, 2004:  “Blustery Friday.  When my mother was a little girl, her favourite grandmother would bring her to Newport for a holiday from their Eastern Oregon milltown.  I can see them in my mind’s eye—walking on the beach—1939—my great grandmother would stop, roll down her nylon stockings and remove them so my mother would have something to carry the rocks and shells she had collected.  I still have an agate tied up in the toe of a nylon stocking my mother gave me.  My mother died May 4, 2003.  My daughter and I cared for her to the end.  I wonder if my mother and her grandmother might have stayed in one of these lovely old places?

My daughter and I are here remembering walking on the cold, wet beach, wishing to catch a glimpse through the fog of a stately matron walking hand in hand with a sweet little girl whose hands are filled with treasures.”

 ********************************

 It is so very true that people do not write in the journals as extensively as they used to:

August 12, 2013: “It is more than a little sad that volumes 1-10 encompass two decades while the last 13 years are here in one small, torn volume.  Are we tweeting, messaging, emailing so much that we have forgotten the simple pleasure of putting pen to paper?  Writing is a physical pleasure as well as a mental act.  And as such it gives a physical joy.  Don’t lose it!”

in an old E.B. White room journal

in an old E.B. White room journal

also from E.B. White

also from E.B. White

And now I have entered my 61st year and had the best birthday ever, a day with the Sylvia Beach Hotel journals!

oscar

time for sleep

time for sleep

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Monday, 16 March 2015

On our way down to breakfast, Carol and I made reservations for dinner at the Tables of Content  (at last!).

The menu changes daily and appears on this board in the lobby.

The menu changes daily and appears on this board in the lobby.  Note the kitty, just to the right of the sign, watching the stairs.

Shelly takes up a spot each morning watching guests come down for breakfast.

Shelley takes up a spot each morning watching guests come down for breakfast.

After breakfast, I climbed back up to the library while Carol went for a long walk.  I took a few photos of the art on the walls.

author

dog

reader

extra lamps at the stairs to the library attic

extra lamps at the stairs to the library attic

table at the top of the stairs

table at the top of the stairs

I peeked into Ken Kesey’s Cuckoo’s Nest, the third floor room for book clubs and other groups, with four beds and plenty of room for rollaway beds.  It did not take long to catch up on the journals, as there were few new entries since my last visit in September 2014.

The Cuckoo's Nest

The Cuckoo’s Nest

Cuckoo's Nest

Cuckoo’s Nest

The room journals are lined paper on clipboards to fit in with the room’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest asylum theme.  The room was ready for guests, with paper cups of meds (jelly beans for pills).

nightly meds.

nightly meds.

My favourite journal entry from The Cuckoo’s Nest:  “The fantastic scope of this hotel has me questioning the difference between reality and fiction.  Each doorway is a portal to worlds and time fantastic…  From Hogwarts to Middle Earth to 1920 and 1800, every unassuming door holds treasures untold.  Who could sleep when reality is dreaming realized?  Brilliant.  Perfect.  Wonderful.  This magical hotel turned a broken transmission into a blessing unprecedented.”  I try to imagine the wonder of finding this place by accident!  What a joyful thing.  I would have been astonished and definitely would have felt I had stepped into a dream.

In the library, "my" chair by the north window.

In the library, “my” blue chair by the north window.

view of a sunny day into which I would not venture.

view of a sunny day into which I would not venture.

the grand morning shadow of the Sylvia Beach Hotel.

the grand morning shadow of the Sylvia Beach Hotel.

You can see the shadows of the pipes that rattled so loudly in yesterday's storm.

You can see the shadows of the pipes that rattled so loudly in yesterday’s storm.

I had found a journal from the old E.B. White room (now Steinbeck) tucked into a bottom drawer of the Melville room so I returned it to the library shelves to be available to all.  This entry especially touched my heart.  March 10, 1999: “It’s a privilege to be recorded here in the company of such literate young people.  I am an old S.B. devotée who came here often in the early days but was sadly cut off when my sweetheart died suddenly in March 1990.  For a long time, I could not come to the beach at all, it was too sad.  But in the last uear, I began to be happy at the beach again, at last December I won a night’s stay at the SBH, so it was time.  …I chose the EB White room where I had never stayed but thought I might like to, and it was just right.  The Melville room was OUR room.  I may never stay in the Melville room again, but I bought a little pen and ink drawing this time of that great empty bed,  and I’ll frame it when I get home, and that will content me, as small things do these days.  As Nellie said after breakfast this morning, as we were gazing at the ocean (Nellie with whom I had constructed an entire complete satisfying friendship in 25 minutes), after I said ‘Have a nice life’—’Yes, every minute! Make every minute count!'”

I got the room journals out of the J.K. Rowling room, which used to be Poe, and found someone fretting, as I do, about what happens to the old journals when the rooms are redecorated.

3/20/11 “I’m here with my daughter and we’re so excited to be back!  It’s also fun to be one of the first to stay in this new room, although we are sad to see some of the old things go away.  (My daughter wants to know what they’ve done with the journals that were in this room when it was the Poe room.)  Please, Sylvia Beach, don’t change too much!”

Her daughter adds, “We’re missing Poe and the wedding night tales in the journals!”  Where ARE the Poe journals? Destiny and I have each scoured the library and they are nowhere to be found.  I found an entry by Destiny (who I met here at breakfast several years ago) on the same quest:  “Filled out half a dozen Rowlings post cards from the gift shop to excite envy amongst my HP friends.  I didn’t even go for any dinner and had to scavenge in my tucker box for snacks.  Just being here is bliss!  Today I will look for the Poe journals.  They must be here somewhere.  Not in the glass bookcase like Goody thought but I found a cache of EB Whites.  Reading the room journals is one of my favorite things.  So many kindred spirits!”  

Here is a testament to how a fandom can change a person’s life for the better:  “Because of Harry Potter, I have friends all around the world.  Because of HP I have come out of my shell.  Because of HP I do things I never thought I would.  …I went to the last book release dressed as the fat lady…I went to the midnight releases of the movies.  I love Wizard Wrock, fan fiction, and Pottermore.  My family will tell you that I am obsessed with all things Harry Potter and they would be right. Because of Harry Potter I am now one of the hosts of a Podcast that reads and reviews Harry Potter fan fiction: Potterficweekly.com.  When I heard about this new room I had to come see it for myself.  I am totally impressed.  The attention to details is astounding.  I love the ‘jumper’ quilt, the four poster bed, the wands, the potions ingredients and the sorting hat.  But the one thing that made the room perfect for me was the picture of James and Lily next to the bed.  Well done!”

  I persist in thinking of it as the Harry Potter room, something that I do about no other author).

potter

potter2

desk

desk

jk

potters

Imagine having been at the perfect age to grow up right alongside Harry Potter:

July 25 2013:  “We are from the fortunate generation that grew up at almost the same pace that Harry grew up.  I was 11 when I read The Philosopher’s Stone, 12 when I read The Chamber of Secrets.  Maybe because I grew up alongside Harry, I’ve never really outgrown him—and I’m so grateful.  This room feels as special and magical for me today as it would have when I was just a young muggle questioning whether I really was a muggle after all and whether some mistake in the owl post had caused me not to receive my letter from Hogwarts.”  Sometimes I wonder if the books in which Harry is older were too mature for young readers.  Aging at the same pace would have been just perfect.

Hedwig the owl

Hedwig the owl

Outside of the room, set into the wall, is an even better Hedwig:

hi

IMG_6449

I would definitely be a Hufflepuff.

I would probably be a Hufflepuff….maybe a Ravensclaw.

I entered the F. Scott Fitzgerald room to catch up on the journal entries since I last looked in September.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald

well

Fitzgerald room journals

some Fitzgerald room journals; there were not many new entries.

At 12:30, the Jane Austen room was ready for us to check in.  Carol was still out walking.  It was simple for me to shift my stuff and Carol’s as Austen is right next door to the Melville room.  The kind hotel staff will readily shift items from one room to the next, but Carol and I both prefer to do our own carrying (“while we still can”, says Carol).

Jane Austen room

Jane Austen room

inside

inside

desk

One guest wrote in the journals that she moved this little desk so that she could write while looking out of the window.

Austen room reading nook with lighthouse view

Austen room reading nook with lighthouse view (The Melville nook is on the other side of the wall)

reading nook view

reading nook view

two of the room journals

two of the room journals

I think all the old room journals are here!

I think all the old room journals are here!

I had read most of the Jane Austen room journals before by accessing the room when it was empty.  Now at last, I could read them all in order without the anxiety of getting them back into the room before guests checked in.

Mail Attachment

June 10, 1990:  “Going home.  We came here and Sylvia Beach gave us a pill. Jane Austen tucked us into our room and there the symptoms of the day to day left us.  We soothed each other and relieved each other of the anxious compulsions, the calculations,  and the trivia.  This place offered us only what we needed, what anybody needs, and we leave content, satisfied, and sincere, a little more well than when we arrived.  Maybe we will be afflicted again, see the symptoms of double-time minutes to hours again.  We will probably pick them up on northbound I-5 like you would stranded and disabled hitchhikers—fearful and hesitant.  This time though we will recognize them and this pacific pill is longlasting so I will remember not to let them drive.”  If only I could hold onto the truths of the SBH at home.  These blog entries are my attempt to do so.

***************************

 Today, the day before my 60th birthday, I found more entries about older people staying here:

Age 4o, Jan 11, 1997:  “I’ve discovered an interesting phenomenon in the journals of Jane’s room: turning 40 and sleeping here creates a recurring theme.  And as I did just that, I feel part of tradition.  Still I cannot begin to imagine what 40 feels like—my heart still feels 20.”

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Age 70:  “A little bit of paradise, and the best 70th birthday present, from son Andrew.  We had such a relaxing 48 hours, with the beautiful Jane Austen room, fabulous food, meeting interesting people, and warm, hospitable hosts and services.  Loved it, and hope to come back before my 80th!”

************************************

Age 80, 8-23-88:  “What a great way to go into my 8th decade!  Hope to be back many times before entering my 9th decade.  Room, total internal/external environment—all in all, the place, participants—perfect.  To all who stay in this room—’Go Well’.  -Dorothy”

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Age 42, 9-21-88:  “The perfect place to begin my 42nd year.  Lots of good rest, coffee and reading in bed, beautiful sunshine on the coast, and a stolen holiday midweek. What a surprise to weed in the guest book that my wonderful friend Dorothy celebrated her 80th birthday in this room only a month ago.  Dorothy is quite a role model; I hope I’m as active as she is when I enter my 80th year.”

*********************************

61 and 88:  “A Time and Place to rethink different views of Time as perceived by youth (61) and age (88).  The impatience I sometimes feel at the distressing lack of timeliness of the ‘wee mither’ is rather dissolved and put into perspective here at this blissful retreat on the Oregon coast as we contemplate the timeless sea, salty to the shins.  Dear Jane helps with this gentle message, too.  Perhaps we need to renew and review these good thoughts more frequently in this serene spot.”

******************

Age 88:  “What a joy the Jane Austen Society of North America has been to me.  My devotion to Jane Austen has endured, unabated, despite utter inability to find any reading time in my average modern life.  The discovery of Jane Austen burst upon me at 14 to 15 years of age and has persisted to my current 88.  I urge all Janeites to join JASNA.  You will discover unexpected fellow enthusiasts in unsuspected places.”

****************************************

Age 90: (a guest writes of a family member who wrote an entry at age 90:  “K____ D____ of journal number 2 is now 93, transplanted to Portland, and an absolute joy.  I hope I am as with it, so fill of the joy of life as she is when I am 93!”

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Age 30, 60, 90:  April 24, 2000:  “Well, Jane Austen, here I am in my sixties (I can’t believe I’m writing 60s! The girl of 18 is still in my inner core)…and this weekend I’m sandwiched between generations—my mother of 90 and my daughter in late 30s sharing a room down the hall.  I’m fortunate for the solitude of alone in Jane Austen.  I’m still trying to sort it all out.”

********************************

While I know there is nothing at all unusual about turning 60, I can’t help but feel encouraged that folks into their 80s are still making it to the hotel.  Maybe I need this assurance because I can’t imagine my grandmother or my mother traveling at that age.

************************************

 A writer thinks Jane attracts a certain kind of journaler:  “Our stay here has been so enjoyable.  I feel so lucky to have had a chance to stay here at the Sylvia Beach Hotel.  I have really felt at home in the Jane Austen room—it’s so light and fresh.  In skimming the comment books in the reading room and other rooms, I’m struck by how gentle and optimistic the thoughts of the occupants of Jane’s room are in comparison.”

*************************************

10/6/95 “The words ‘You are never alone’ ring true today more than ever.  After reading the prior pages of this journal. I am convinced once again that others feel as I do.  It is comforting to know this and to have validation in some of our thoughts and feelings.  Also to know that there are other people in this world who take time to live in a quietness, a realness.  Time filled with solitude and reflection is obviously important for others as well as myself.  I came here to write, to unchain some old beliefs, to asses, to refuel, and most of all to ‘be’.  .’Doing’ can get so tiresome…Can’t think of a better place to cleanse, to shed.”

**************************

10-26-95 “My only complaint about this room is that I can’t get any of my own books read because I can’t seem to be able to put down these guests’ journals.  I have laughed and nearly cried.  Perhaps they should be published.”

**************************************

 I love when journal readers engage with each other on the page:

6-16-95:  “Whenever I come here, I am coaxed, not coerced, into reflection and quiet contemplation.  I find it easy to cry here.  And when it is time to go, am never eager to leave.”

May 3, 1996:  “The coast, the simplicity of this place, forces you to look at yourself for entertainment as well as meaning.  One journal entry in this book noted how easy it is to cry at the SBH.  That’s because everything we cling to in day to day life (including busyness) has been stripped away here.  Introspection comes easily.  Oceans provide thoughts of eternity.”

********************************************

Well, I could write all night but we have to leave at 7:40 AM and my words are dragging, but just one more thing.  Please write in these journals as much as you can, it links us all together, and thank you to all those people who have written in the past.  Love, L____, 13 years, XOXO”

I’ve noted on previous visits how guests will write letters to Jane and to Emily Dickinson but not to Melville or Fitzgerald.

Dear Jane, Unlike most visitors to your room, I do not come with a partner, nor to relieve the stress of the everyday world or to celebrate my 40th birthday.  I come to celebrate my 50th birthday.  Today I am a crone!  ….I discovered you at 15 when Pride and Prejudice was required reading in 10th grade English.  Elizabeth Bennet, tart-tongued Lizzie, was my role model for the next two decades of my life and you my favorite author.  I visited your house at Chawton, acquiring an ‘I’d Rather be Reading Jane Austen’ bumper sticker long before PBS thought to market such devices.  (This leads to an amusing incident with my car being followed one day by a stereotypical trucker in a CAT hat who asked me if I felt the same way about the Brontes when I pulled over; seems he and his family lived and worked at Haworth at one time.  I’m afraid not, I told him.)  But now it is your life more than your words which inspires me.  I have no real stress and enjoy every day because I gave up the fast track to work just part-time and at a less demanding job, valuing time over money any day….”

********

These next two are particular charming together:

One half of a couple writes:  “Dear Jane, I do appreciate your writing, but I don’t know if I’ll stay in your room again, at least not with my girlfriend, since she totally ignored me the whole time we were here, despite the fact that it is our one year anniversary.  She is so enamored of your work that she could not pull herself away and the only attention I got from her is when she made me  read her quiz questions from the Jane Austen Quiz and Puzzle Book.  Now she has discovered the Jane Austen Society of North America and plans a lifetime membership.  I’m not usually a jealous person, Jane, but would you please just GO AWAY!!”

The other writes:  “Dear Jane, What a great room! What a wondrous time I had in it!  To be able to immerse myself in your works—how glorious!  …Thanks for the use of your room. I plan to come back for every anniversary!”

*******************

jane

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“I loved this room.  It was beautiful and cozy.  The journals are the best.  We snuck into the Poe room next door and borrowed some of theirs, too.  I love reading everyone’s thoughts, about life, their loves, this hotel, the world.”

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After hours of journal reading, Carol and I went down to dinner at the Tables of Content.  On the way, I saw that the Lincoln Steffens room was open and asked at the desk, learning to my delight that it was not booked for a couple of nights.  At last I would be able to get in there to read the journals!

We had a quick browse in the gift shop while waiting for the dinner bell.  I was highly amused by the titles of four blank books:

sleep

dysfunctions

awesome

opinion

I snuck a photo of the beautiful appetizer at dinner; taking photos at the meals seems improper in the "electronics free dining room."

I snuck a photo of the beautiful appetizer at dinner; taking photos at the meals seems improper in the “electronics free dining room.”

The food goes around on platters, and we serve ourselves, so I did my own presentation on that appetizer.

The game was introduced and explained and of our  table of 9, all but two wanted to play. One seemed kind of belligerent about not playing and insisted it was actually Two Lies and a Truth and wanted to make a bet on that! I’ve never experienced such long awkward silences during the pre-game introductory chit chat and I noticed a strange thing during the game:  Even though four of the others were repeat guests who had prepared for the game, no one but Carol and I asked the three questions each to figure out the lie,  It was as if no one had any interest in other people.  Meanwhile, the belligerent one would occasionally ask a question but always prefaced with “I’m NOT playing, but…”  It was very odd, and I wondered if Goody herself could have found a way to salvage it.  The food was delicious and the experience was interesting even though it completely lacked the usual dread followed by exhilaration that I feel about The Game.  Goody, the one time I got to have breakfast with her, explained that the purpose of the game is to encourage even the shyest person at the table to have attention paid to him or her.

After dinner, I spent an hour or two in the Lincoln Steffens room delving into the folders where guests in the late 80s and 90s typed their thoughts on an old Underwood typewriter.

Lincoln Steffans room

Lincoln Steffens room

the desk

the desk

After reading three folders worth (and finding the reading goes fast when the words are typed), I returned to Carol in the Jane Austen room, where I opened a drawer and found a whole new treasure trove of old room journals.  It’s a good thing we like to read until late.

I thought I had already searched through every nook!

I thought I had already searched through every nook!

from the first year of the hotel

from the first year of the hotel

I found another in the recurring theme of guests being reminded of their aunt’s or grandma’s house, with beautiful old-fashioned handwriting to enhance the memory:

gram

Two of my favourite entries from Jane-ites:

jane

jane

At ten o’clock, Carol toddled into the library to get our spiced wine, only to find that there was nought but an empty thermos.  She asked down at the desk, then went back to the kitchenette three times in hope, then asked at the desk again only to be told they were out.  We were mystified.  I looked at the website on my iPhone; there, in Goody’s words, it says wine is served at ten PM: “No matter how nice your room is, guests often spend much of their time up in the reading room. It has the best view in the whole building, lots of overstuffed chairs, a fireplace, plenty of books (from the library shelves in the loft),puzzles and board games, tea and coffee always available, and at 10:00 each night (if you’ve torn yourself away from the dinner table) we serve hot spiced wine.” Carol had been there at just 10:02.  We also realized how much we count on that little ritual in our simple lives at the hotel: Breakfast, reading, move to new room, reading, dinner, reading, wine, reading, sleep.  Carol adds a long walk to the mix.    Then it seemed that every few pages, the journals talked about the spiced wine, even though I had never noticed it being mentioned before.  (We think there is no alcohol in the wine; it tastes good but does not go to our heads, honest.)

“…to the library to a comfy reading chair and a cup of spiced wine….”

“Spiced wine at night is a great touch.  Even though my husband is more of a hot chocolate type person.”

“We arrived too late for dinner but enjoyed a cup of spiced wine while exploring the grounds.”

“We are currently sitting on the bed with Shelly the cat and some delicious spiced wine.”

!!!

!!!

wine-less Carol reading her novel late at night

wine-less Carol reading her novel late at night

I found more praise for the journal reading experience:

October 24, 1992: “Reading the journals in each room is such fun—some entries are serious and poetic, some light-hearted and romantic, and many of them comment on the magic of this place.  That is what distinguished the Sylvia Beach Hotel, not just the uniquely decorated rooms in this wonderful old building, but also the stimulating conversation over beautifully prepared meals, and the delightful sense of camaraderie with a hotel full of book-lovers like yourself.  We’re having a good time and the feeling is intensified by the fact that everyone else here is, too.”

******************

 “Few guests are here this week, so K___ has savored all of the guest books and journals in the rooms, not to mention the rooms themselves.  Seeing her discoveries has enhanced my own appreciation for them, and for the rare opportunity I’ve had as a participant in this whole SB concept and its execution.  This place makes people feel secure, and they open up.  It has to be experienced to be believed.

***************************

Goody, I know you wish people would always stay in the library and talk which is a great part of coming here that I love, but really if you read this whole guest book, it would make you happy to see how many people realize how wonderful each other is as well as the rest of the world!”

journal art

journal art

Just exactly how I feel:

mustnotdie

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Remember, we will return to our usual programming on March 27; meanwhile, I am publishing SBH rhapsodies twice a day, for my own delight.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

I had a hard time sleeping because the Steinbeck room was too hot, and I’ve never been able to get the windows open in there.  I’d forgotten about the thermostat. As soon as I remembered, at three AM, that I could turn the heat off in that room, all was so much better!  Allan, who is not an insomniac, slept better than I did. Because a delicious breakfast is served in the Tables of Content till ten AM each morning, we were up at the early-for-us hour of nine AM.  We walked around the outside of the hotel to get to the dining room; that’s easier for me than going down that last flight of stairs.

DSC01191

view from the Tables of Content

view from the Tables of Content

assorted pastries, fruit, cereal, fruit juices, and a hot entree

assorted pastries, fruit, cereal, fruit juices, and a hot entree

Today's breakfast: scrambled eggs and brocollini, delicious.

Today’s breakfast: scrambled eggs and brocollini, delicious.

flowers by the door

flowers by the door

As I took the above photo after breakfast, I realized I had committed a faux pas by sitting at table updating the Discover Ilwaco Facebook page on my phone (something I do daily); even with all the sound off, it probably was not proper in an “electronics free dining room” (see sign to the right).  Oops.

A big storm was due in the early afternoon, so Allan left after breakfast to try to race ahead of it home to Ilwaco.  My friend of 37 years, Carol, would be driving down I-5 to Corvallis and then across to the coast, so she would miss most of the wind by being inland.  You can see some photos from Allan’s drive in a previous entry.

I stopped to pet Shelly on my way to the third floor.

I stopped to pet Shelly on my way to the third floor.

I went up to the library and sat by the north window with a cup of tea from the library kitchenette, a pile of library journals, and a rainy view.

view

ever changing view

ever changing view

dogs

houses to the northeast

houses to the northeast

looking down at a garden that I always admire from that window.

looking down at a garden that I always admire from that window.

garden detail

garden detail, telephoto

Soon there were only two hardy souls on the beach, walking bent over, as the wind picked up to 70 mph gusts with 100 mph on the headlands.  I looked around at other readers in the library when the building shook, as one does when there is turbulence on an airplane, to see if others were disconcerted by the buffeting.  Everyone looked calm.  I had always wanted to be at the hotel in a storm so it was a dream come true for me.  I divided my attention between the view and the journals, where I found other entries about being there in a storm.

The weather has been threatening, but surprisingly wild for the last two days.  We enjoyed several beach walks, tide pool explorations, and the outdoor pool and hot tub at Otter Crest.  Today, the weather really turned.  High winds and lots of rain made it uncomfortable to be outside.  The hotel swayed and twisted in the wind.  Water came in through all available openings.  A perfect day to curl up and just enjoy.  There is never a bad day on the Oregon coast—you just have to find the right place for the conditions!  I can’t remember when I have been so awestruck by the power of the ocean.  High tides and high winds are an amazing combination.  A little fear helps amplify the feeling of getting away from the normal routine.

***********************************

Speaking of storms, two nights ago, the whole building was shaking in 60-70 mph winds.  They records 100+ mph from some spots in Newport, and a friend in Portland said it made the ABC national news as a ‘hurricane’.  It was VERY exciting, and as the building has been here for 85 years, no one was really worried.

*******************************************

“It was very cold, wet and windy when we arrived.  An inn cat escorted us to the Melville room on the third floor.  How perfect—we appreciated the author, loved the room and theme, the windows looking out to sea.  As we sat in the library, the wind battered this 88 year old building, the windows shuddered but held their ground.

“We slipped into the ancient wood bed at 11 PM.  The crescendo of wind, waves and rain began to shake the building a bit off its foundation.  Bob slept deeply…  I could not sleep. Was the Melville room haunted?  How long could this elderly building resist the wind and sea’s battering?

“The next morning, there was light bright blue sky….”

*****************************

“There is a bit of a blow coming up this morning and the waves are coming to shore with an unnatural urgency.  The wind has picked up in the last half hour, making the building shudder as the gusts hit.  I can understand why some guests are unnerved by the sensation.  But I’m glad these timbers flex and give a little in stormy weather.  That’s what has helped the Gilmore/Sylvia to survive this long.”

**********************************************

The first storm of the winter rocked the building as one of the caretakers said ‘Like an old ship creaking on the sea’.  The heat and crackling of the fire in the library provided a cozy counterbalance to the stark sound of hissing rain and thundering waves.  Both the town and our stay at Sylvia Beach have been idyllic.”

******************************************

About the reality of storms for fisherfolk:  “3/16/93 Three wonderful days in Melville, sharply tempered by the stark realization that people still go ‘down to the sea in ships’.  High seas leaving grim reminder on the shore that a once proud 42 ft boat was splintered and torn by a rogue wave.  The mighty deep has shown its power once again.

********************************************************

about someone longing to stay here in a storm:  “The weather was so fantastic that we didn’t full advantage of this charming room or the comfortable library.  The food was superb.  The atmosphere was friendly and relaxing.  Next time we’ll schedule a winter storm so that we can cozy up inside and enjoy the full value of the Sylvia Beach Hotel.”  (Even the best weather won’t get me out of the hotel if there are journals to read, but I do have the advantage of already living by the seashore.  Although I like the Newport beach better because people don’t drive vehicles on it like they do on the Long Beach Peninsula.)

*****************************************************

Bad weather is the best weather to be here.  Here is someone after my own heart: “Beautiful weather, almost too good to stay in the library.  However, we did.  The weekend was a success in spite of the weather being so nice.

*****************************************

All weather is good at the SBH but I do think that stormy weather is the best.

Friends noted dourly that the weather outlook was not positive for this weekend, but they just don’t know what a weekend at the SBH represents.  Rainy, foggy, windy, sunny, clear, or cloudy…no matter.  Our hosts will be gracious, the company at dinner will be good, the food excellent, and we’ll learn about a new author.”

fewer beach walkers...

fewer beach walkers…

I found another entry about someone learning to love reading:

Dec 29 1987  “Being here at this hotel makes me think I have never really appreciated literature.  I have always blown off any suggestions on reading some of the world’s classic books.  I now realize that I have missed out on a lot since I am only 14.  I feel I still have time to start to read the classics.  This hotel has been an awakening to my mind to explore the world through books.  I am no longer afraid to delve into the unknown.”  In the evening, I read that to Carol, who made it her mission to read the classics (Dickens, et al) at age 40 or 50!  I still haven’t, unless Margaret Drabble and Iris Murdoch and Barbara Pym and PG Wodehouse count.

 Here’s a hilarious entry regarding the hotel cat (before Shelly):  “I came to the Sylvia Beach Hotel to renew my spirit.  But once again I find myself being emotionally exploited.  When we are apart, I’m a perfectly rational person.  But when he is around, I lose all self respect and try to please him.

“He never shows appreciation for my efforts.  He shuns all public displays of affection.  I keep telling myself that next time, I’ll treat him as he treats me.  

“It never works.  As soon as I see him my resolve melts.

“I have no shame left.

“This morning, he found my room here and demanded entrance.  The door was barely closed before my bed contained both of us.  What can I do?  (After all, it IS Jersey’s hotel.)”

****************************

 In my continuing quest for enlightenment and companionship in the journals, I found some good advice from someone who had bought a photo album and…  “I didn’t put photos in it.   I brought out the birthday cards and valentine’s cards that I had received over the years where people had written something personal; something about me for which they were grateful.  I cut out the writings and put them in the album. If I liked the front picture of the card, I included it, too.  Now when my father’s voice comes welling up out of my memory, berating me, punishing me, I think of my album.  I hold it.  I open it.  I have created my own voice to remind me of who I am in my heart, to remind me of what others see in me, to replace the voice of my father.”   This tied in very well with my efforts to counter the mean voices that I had heard in my head while working in Long Beach on Friday.

my view of the library

the middle and  south end of the library, which I had to myself at midday as people departed for home.

At a bit after noon, I was able to check into the Herman Melville room, which is right off the library.

bed

the view

the view from the bedside window

Melville reading nook

Melville reading nook

These bookshelves hold a treasure: years worth of Melville room journals going back to 1987.

These bookshelves hold a treasure: years worth of Melville room journals going back to 1987.

I read them all.

I read them all.

on the top shelf of the glassfront cupboard

on the top shelf of the glassfront cupboard

bed, reading nook

bed, reading nook; In most of the rooms, the bathrooms don’t have room for the sink because the tub and toilet are fitted into the old closet.

the mirror....used to be curvy, but that one got broken so now it is plain flat glass.

the mirror….used to be curvy, but that one got broken so now it is plain flat glass.

Herman Melville room back in the day

Herman Melville room back in 1991 when the bed was known as the Great White Bed

mirror

Journal entries used to sometimes complain about the difficulty of shaving in the old mirror.  This response gave me a revelation about one reason why I feel so relaxed here at the hotel:  “This is a wonderful room… We like the mirror—it adds character—not to mention the unpretentiousness of the SBH—who care what you look like!!!?”

Alice Walker (one of the authors who has a room here) had something to say about being judged for appearance, as quoted in a later journal entry:  “He’s getting fat for sure, but he’s still slim compared to me.  I’ll never see three hundred pounds again and I’ve just about said (excuse me) fuck it.  I got to thinking about it one day an’ I thought aside from the fact that they say it’s unhealthy, my fat ain’t never been no trouble.  Mens always have loved me.  My kids ain’t never complained.  Plus they’s fat.  And fat like I is I look distinguished.  You see me coming and know somebody’s THERE.”  Alice Walker ‘Nineteen fifty-five’  YOU CAN’T KEEP A GOOD WOMAN DOWN!   A journal reader adds to the page: “Thank god!  WOMEN—it is a political act of liberation to love yourself, including your body.”  (And I add that if you want some information about the allegedly unhealthiness of being fat, read a book by Paul Campos called The Obesity Myth.)

 These guests were funny and comfortable in themselves:

ugly

The location of the Melville room is so convenient to the library that it inspired some journal entries:

  “It becomes the Melville suite after 11 PM each night, complete with large living room, fireplace, and kitchen.

**************************************************

We love the Melville room and allow some of our closest friends (fellow hotel guests) to share our sitting room, also known as the library.  Several projects got done during these windy and stormy Christmas days.  The room’s slight starboard list suits Melville fine.”

******************************************

At first I thought it would be awkward to pass through the common living room (library) on the way to our private room.  However, it turned out to be advantageous.  The quiet souls in the library who either glanced up briefly from their books or paid no attention to us at all became part of the comfortable and friendly ambience, and there were several times when we had the library all to ourselves, our own private living room—the pay-off for having to share it the rest of the time.  Goody’s lesson is about sharing anyway and it all just makes sense and felt good after the first moments of doubt.”

I had a moment of enlightenment there:  Wow, Goody’s lesson is about SHARING, and much as I think of the hotel as an introvert’s retreat. it does cause more interaction with strangers than any other part of my life, probably even more than gardening in downtown Long Beach.

 Even though I wanted to sit in the Melville reading nook, his room was more sheltered from the thrilling storm, so I returned to the library.

in the kitchenette....I make myself more tea.  I want a boiling water faucet like this.

in the kitchenette….I make myself more tea. I want a boiling water faucet like this.

Up to the very tip top attic I went, where the pipes were clanging and juddering.  I made a little video which you can see here on the Sylvia Beach Hotel Lovers Facebook page.  It somewhat captures the noise in the attic, but it was even louder with some whumping noises from the roof, right after which some roof tiles flew past the north window where I sat myself down.

north window by the attic pipes, coziest reading spot in the whole hotel

north window by the attic pipes, two blue chairs, coziest reading spot in the whole hotel

attic view to the north, with tea (Earl Grey, hot)

attic view to the north, with tea (Earl Grey, hot)

one of the two clanging, rattling pipes

one of the two clanging, rattling pipes and another hotel guest at the south end of the attic

a beautiful journal page

a beautiful journal page

and an entry from someone who loves the journals like I do

and an entry from someone who loves the journals like I do

a writer's postcard

a writer’s postcard

A new journal theme emerged for me this time: people who are reminded of the homes of their aunts or their grandmas:

6-10-95 “I think the reason why the Sylvia Beach feels so comfortable is because it reminds me of my grandparents house in Spokane.  Lots of books and outdated 50s furniture.  It really IS like a second home.”

*******************************

4-18-06 “My sister and I are on a road trip one on one for a few days to catch up.  Neither of us had been to the Sylvia Beach Hotel.  What a delight in the unpretentious character and style.  It reminded me of my grandmother’s turn of the century house in Corvallis.  It took us back to a place of our youth that had unique memories we hadn’t shared in over 50 years.  I’ll be back with my wife.”

****************************************

June 18, 1991: ” There truly is a sense of magic about the SBH.  I feel like I’ve just spent a night in my grandmother’s house!”

**********************************************

October 2, 2004:  “Deep sleep is possible here.  Feels like someone’s old auntie’s house, a treasured connection.  All those peering faces from old photographs framed…”

*********************************

April 17, 2014:  “My first impressions were of visiting my grandmother’s house oh so many years ago.  Always comfortable and welcoming with warm and friendly people to talk with.  We will definitely come back.”

*************************************************

Like returning to my great-aunt Avis’s house, from many years ago—as a child I played there, running up the wide staircase, falling into big stuffed chairs to read on rainy afternoons, sounds of voices downstairs, or pulling a book out of the filled bookshelves, one that called to me, finding it was just the one I needed.

*******************************

 Another theme that caught my attention was age; because I was at the hotel to turn 60, I was encouraged to see many people older than I writing in the journals.  Here are some I found over the next five days:

Age 60 (my age!!): June 11, 2008:  “One year ago today R had a total hip replacement at age 60.  Wow, what a shock to learn that if you don’t do this extreme remedy, you won’t be able to climb stairs or walk up the sand dunes!  Where did that young, strong body go?  We talk about this—we were always the youngest person at our jobs—now all of a sudden (or so it seems) we are among the oldest!  The second half of life is upon us.  Life looks different now.  There is an urgency to ‘be here now’ and live life to the fullest.  This room was a wonderful way to do just that.  We are trying to live our lives in a very passionate, purposeful way.”

*************************

I felt my age intensely when trying to get up from the very low blue chair by the attic window; I had to roll, and crawl past the pipe to find a table to pull myself up with, while hoping no one from the library looked up through the railing and saw my pitiful efforts.  I was glad I could make it up to Melville when I read this entry:  “I stayed in Melville before—found my entry back in 1991!  My knees no longer like the stairs so tomorrow I will move to Dr. Seuss.”

*************************

 I remember reading a most poignant entry about someone who realized it would be her last stay as she could no longer make it up to the third floor library.  I also read this time of a woman and her grandma who made it up to the library via the back stairs:  April 24, 2002  1:30 AM “Couldn’t stop reading.  Must get to sleep but I don’t want to miss anythingMom (age almost 85)  and I (just turned 60) came to experience SBH.  She with her walker and I with my crutches (arthritis) made it to the library (via the back stairs).  It was worth the effort.  I didn’t want to come down.  What a fabulous view.

************************

Age 62:  “I’m enjoying looking AT the beach as my knees refuse to walk one step further than downstairs and up!”

My friend Destiny tipped me off about using the back stairs, where one does not have to feel one is slowing quicker people down.

It was reassuring to see that it is not unusual to have aches and pains at 60 or 62.  And even more reassuring to see people coming back in their 70s and 80s, although I lack any prospect of children or grandchildren to bring me here.

Age 63:  “How did I get this old?  I’m sure I was 20 something just last week.”  

************************

Age 63,  Sept 17, 2012:  “It’s my birthday!  Odd to say to others that I was born in 1949.  I mean that is like another world.  I remember all black cars, heavy black phones with stiff cords in little cubbies on the wall, laying near the RCA combo radio, tv and hi fi.  I remember the 1st tv in our house with 2 channels and Howdy Doodie, Sky King,  and I Love Lucy.  ….Mind you, my father is still alive at age 95, born in 1917.  I was there before xerox and computers and when we all took photos on flash bulb Kodaks and film.  My, how things have changed to link us all to the present.  Well, here at Sylvia, we get to step back some, take a breath, see where we have come from.”   Wow, I feel mighty old when I realize I remember all those things, too.

***********************

Age 65, Sept 22, 2013:  “I wake in this room and want to leave my record here with the many who also were here.  I feel part of a legion yet all to myself.  It is clear others come here for rest, renewal, reassessment.  I feel part of that company yet the experience is both mine and shared.  This is my first morning of another chapter.  I can’t see as well as I used to, but in my heart, I’m seeing just fine.  It took a long time to find myself and contentment.”

*****************************

Age 67, Sept 8, 2011:  “In reading through all the journals in this room, I find my own life experiences connected to you all and interwoven with all the thoughts and comments written through all the years of youth, young love, times of doubt and questioning ‘What’s it all about’,  to the celebration now of senior happiness and contentment at age 67 and yet still open to change and new ideas and wonderment and aliveness, knowing this Now is everything—having made peace with the past, having stopped worrying about the ‘unknowable future’.  Take heart, dear readers, no matter what age, life is a banquet.”

***************************

Age 75:  “I am celebrating my 75th birthday.  How quickly time flies by, but how wonderful life is when there is love.  My husband and I have shared over 56 years together.  Looking back, there is little I’d change.  It’s a wonderful life.  It has been a lovely weekend here.  The sunshine, beach, and blue ocean are waiting for us to walk the beach.  Don’t want to waste a minute.”

*********************

Age 80 plus:  “Both my husband and I are octogenarians.  We were not able to walk the beach and weather the wind—but still we had a marvelous time.   The only regret I have is that we did not know about this place 20 or 30 years ago, but I suppose, after all, it did not exist the way it is today.”

*****************

Age 84, March 13, 2015 (the latest Steinbeck room entry):  “This hotel is unique!  The food is fabulous and plentiful, the view outstanding, the other guests are fascinating, etc etc etc.  Thanks for your courtesy and generosity and for the chance to rediscover John Steinbeck, whom I haven’t thought of in years.  (I’m 84.)  But in spite of my neglect, he has reappeared in my life as a hero!”

***************************

Age 86:  “…awake and renewed.  Breakfast with new friends Nessa and Eva, her mom, 86 years young, reminds me how warm and inviting the world can be,  Thank you, SBH, for inviting me!”

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Age 86, August 24, 2000:  “What better place to spend time hanging out with my favourite person…my Mom….who turned 86 this past April.  If I am 1/2 the quirky, elegant, loving and intelligent woman that she is when I am 86, I will be forever grateful.”

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 on aging, from an Oscar Wilde room journal:  “My daughter (my travel companion for this visit) reminded me of Dorian Gray’s oval mirror.  Ah, sometimes I think about the loneliness of aging—but it will never compare to the loneliness I experienced as a youth.  Sometimes I think about the ugliness of the physical aging process, but it can’t compare to the fragileness of the prepubescent years, the metamorphasis from the ugly caterpillar to the graceful butterfly.  I am grateful for all that I have learned (still believing there is so much more I need to learn) and never ever would I want to turn back the clock—good grief, look how long it has taken me to get comfortable in my own skin.”

**********************************************

I wish I had met the fascinating Edna, an elderly woman who used to stay for weeks each summer in the 1990s (the decade when I did not visit at all after 1991).  One lucky person who wrote, “Last week we met Edna, who comes here every summer for two months and has just told me that she will be coming for 10 weeks next summer.  What fun to talk with each other and share opinions, stories, and thoughts.  I look forward to seeing her again.”  I missed out on Edna who used to “dress for dinner”and regale the table with her stories.  Why did I miss all those years?  Well, I had a dog, Bertie Woofter, and I had a spouse who was not well suited to the quiet life of the SBH.

Carol, my friend of 37 years,  arrived in the very late afternoon as the storm died down.  We took up our residence in the Melville room’s reading nook for awhile.  She had brought six presents for my birthday, one for each decade.  What a clever idea; I wish I’d thought of it for her 60th, which had been the previous June.

presents waiting for tomorrow

presents waiting for tomorrow

view from the reading nook

view from the reading nook

While I am at the hotel, I try not to leave it.  I learned years ago that every time I do, I wish I had stayed in.  A journaler writes of discovering this:  7-21-88 “This is my second visit to SBH.  Last time I was here—only about a month ago—I was in the Jane Austen room.  This time, we spent more time away from the SBH, went down to the Bayfront.  Upon returning, I wondered why I had left!  It is so much more pleasant here, just walking on the beach, reading in the ‘sitting room’ .  Next time I come here, I am staying close.”  I’ve had the experience of visiting with friends who want to go out and DO STUFF.  I love Carol for being happy to go out by herself for her walks and excursions.

The exception is going to Nana’s Irish Pub for dinner, which Carol and I did soon after she arrived.  She did not feel up to Two Truths and a Lie (the dinner game at the hotel’s Tables of Content restaurant) after her six plus hour drive from Seattle. (I must admit my ideal trip would include dinner at the hotel every night.)

I had been looking forward to the curry pie...as good as I remembered from last autumn.

I had been looking forward to the curry pie…as good as I remembered from last autumn.

Celtic Curry Pie

Celtic Curry Pie at Nana’s Irish Pub

After dinner, Carol and I watched the sunset from the library.

sunset

sunset

IMG_6012

My camera did not want to focus on the after dusk view to the lighthouse on the north, so here is an impressionistic version.

IMG_6015

We savoured the hot spiced wine that is served in the libary kitchen at ten PM and I immersed myself in journals till one AM while Carol read a book.

Carol's reading choice

Carol’s reading choice: The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

It seems that we often forget to slow down and just enjoy until we run into a peaceful haven like this that almost demands you to do so.  Sat in the library and read 10 years of people doing what I am now.  Only a quiet room, a large bed, and the peaceful quiet to tie as all together.”

***********************

At last, a place where I can open a book, dive deeply into the sentences, become totally immersed in the fantasy and not feel that I should be out mowing the lawn, cooking supper for the wife, or feeding the cats.  At last, a theme park for sedentary introverts.”  (That entry amused me because Allan mows the lawn, cooks supper, and feeds the cats while I work on this blog!)

The Herman Melville journals contain an ongoing story of two star-crossed lovers who met at the hotel, returned alone, left notes to each other, and finally reunited…and then the story ended.  Writers in the journals of the following years often mention that romance and wonder what happened.  One person suggested that when the two were able to communicate via the internet, the secret romance probably became less difficult to arrange.

 11-21-04:  “Thank you Sylvia Beach for the wonderful quiet and rest.  The rain and the sea noise, the chance to be innocently unaware of the time.  Thanks to all who have shared their experiences in these journals…especially [the two star crossed lovers of the Melville journals]; I hope your story continues to be as exciting as the entries you have left.”

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The 19th anniversary of the Sylvia Beach Hotel.  What an honor!  We enjoyed the quiet as well as the conversation.  And of course the journals….  the only frustration being that some of the journals are missing.  Having followed the saga of [the star-crossed lovers] for five years until Sept 7, 1997, imagine our chagrin to find the promised next entry of July 1, 1997 missing!  There must be at least two books gone.  Now we we’ll never know if they found each other.”  Fortunately for me, the missing journal was in the room when I stayed there.

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Nov 25: 2006:  “I’ve just spent the past hour reading about 2 Melville guests—a chance meeting in 1991, a series of solo returns and entries, hoping to meet, hoping to see each other again.  Now I want to know—did you meet?  Did you find what you were looking for?  I wish you both happiness and peace—I’ll be thinking about your story, your words, for a long time to come.”

 I had read some of the Melville entries before, when the room was empty and I was able to take some of the journals into the library.  In the late quiet night, I found again my favourite entry of all, by a woman named Robyn.

So many ghosts are present here.  This is the first time since 1962 that I have been back.  As a child we stayed next door at the Gilmore Apts—a shabby companion to the old Gilmore Hotel (now the Sylvia Beach Hotel).  The apt. house fell victim to the 1962 storms but the tips of the foundations are still visible from the beach.  In those old days the little sea cottages were nearby, and a skating rink (now a parking lot) and the tiny business block which used to include a salt water taffy store, a cheap shell souvenir shop and a mom and pop grocery.  How odd it is to hold the memory of what should be visible: I am the only one left of that little group who traveled to visit Mrs. Gilmore in the late 50s.  Tonight I hung my car phone out of window of the Herman Melville room so my mom in Idaho could hear the surf at her old Newport Beach.  She cried and so did I, for time past, family gone, and some things eternal—like this ocean that buffets this dear old hotel still.”

Time and again I have read this entry and it still makes me cry.

I love finding notes by Destiny, who I met here at breakfast several years ago and who is as obsessed with the journals as I am:

destiny

She’s hoping to get writers to fill the blank journals in order, but it’s a lost cause as lately rooms often have two journals running at once, and the library has become random with people filling in blank pages.

She's hoping to get writers to fill the blank journals in order, but it's a lost cause as lately rooms often have two journals running at once, and the library has become random with people filling in blank pages.

We live in hope.

pen

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Saturday, 14 March 2015

arriving

arriving at the SBH

I would, of course, have liked to have dinner at the hotel on the first night.  That usually involves playing The Game (Two Truths and a Lie), so for Allan’s sake we walked a block east to Nana’s Irish Pub, where I knew we would find a tasty meal and no social anxiety.

a bench on the way

a bench on the way

We got on a waiting list and had 20 minutes to walk around.  I showed Allan the interesting establishment just a block south of the SBH.

nye

another one of those benches

If this were not so close to SBH, I'd want to stay here.

If this were not so close to SBH, I’d want to stay here sometime.

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

Allan peeks through the gate

Allan peeks through the gate

Allan's photo of a vertical sea thrift.

Allan’s photo of a vertical sea thrift.

on the way back to NaNa's

on the way back to NaNa’s

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo; she’s holding an armful of lavender

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

settled into the pub

all settled into the pub

Scotch eggs

Scotch eggs

Good Shepherd's Pie (Allan had meatloaf, yummy but not as photogenic)

Good Shepherd’s Pie (Allan had meatloaf, yummy but not as photogenic)

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

nana

Nana's apple raspberry delight

Nana’s apple raspberry delight

after dinner

after dinner

As we returned to the lobby of the hotel, we heard gales of laughter from the Tables of Content Restaurant downstairs from diners playing the Game; little did I know I might have just missed the best dinner game crowd of the whole week I was there.

at the check in desk

at the check in desk, anniversary cookies

Steinbeck room and the Library

We had checked into our room before dinner:

The John Steinbeck room

The John Steinbeck room; note the reading lamp headlights

vehicle detail

vehicle detail

steinbeck

window

Allan has a full set of Steinbecks from his grandma, and I have stayed in this room several times before (and Allan once) back when it was the E.B. White room.  The new decor is impressive.

 jars on a high shelf in the Steinbeck room

jars on a high shelf in the Steinbeck room

Steinbeck room

Steinbeck room

He loved his dog.

He loved his dog.  Allan reminded me the dog was Charley!  Travels with Charley, of course.

jobs

Grapes of Wrath

Cannery Row

Cannery Row

doc

frogs

This passage explains why there are frogs (not real ones) in the room decor.

above the shower

above the shower

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

For the rest of the evening, we went on up to the third floor library.  See my old entry House of Stairs.

From the second floor, I look down at Shelly the hotel cat.

From the second floor, I look down at Shelly the hotel cat.

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

the library

the library

I found a library journal and settled in immediately.  Reading the room journals is the great joy for me of any visit I make to the SBH.  Allan went up to the library attic to read.

Allan's photo, looking down

Allan’s photo, looking down

DSC01172

ahhhh....

ahhhh….tea and a journal

In the journal I read: “This place is an introvert’s nesting ground.”

I soon found another entry that speaks to me, since I have the tendency to turn a lot of activities into “jobs”:

“I decided to back track and fill up an unused page to save paper.  It’s like walking down the beach and picking up litter, I have to be careful not to fall into the trap of making it my “job”.  It’s my need for a mission, I guess—a purpose in life.  Can I do both, notice the trash and still appreciate the beauty?  Life is taking the good with the bad, loving a person despite his/her faults.  

“These journals are wonderful.  I find people’s thoughts so much more interesting than fiction.”

a journal page

a journal page

I settled in to what would be my pastime for the next four days.

I love the way regular journals writers send messages to each other, to be seen on the next visit.

I love the way regular journals writers send messages to each other, to be seen on the next visit.

Another writer says:  “A collective journal seems to be a place of perfect connection.  I have seen all of you who have written and you have seen me.  Thanks.”

Here is a moving entry for someone who came to reading as an adult:  “For the first 30 years of my life, I had been unable to read.  I have been literate since I was 6 or so, but unable to concentrate, sit and let the stories unfold.  My history of abuse made it impossible to think that I could tolerate the quietness and excitement of reading.  I would just get anxious and give up whenever I approached a book.  Two years ago, my partner and soon to be my husband gave me “Searoad” by Urusula LeGuin.  It was for Christmas.  I layed on my bed and read the whole book.  You can imagine my excitement, to read a book.  To watch with my mind, my imagination, a story unfold.  To know texture and truth through reading is incomparable.

More about the sharing in the journals:

August 1992:  “What a great concept!  The entire place, that is.  Looking through the journals in the room something occurred to me.  In most hotels it is the job of those who clean up to make sure the rooms appear as if no one has ever been there before.  Though the benefits of this are obvious (not finding crumbs in your bed, etc) it seems we have no sense of those who went before us—the number of people who stayed in the same small room, had thoughts, feelings, and conversations that we don’t catch a glimpse of.  It seems to me that part of the beauty of Sylvia Beach is the chance to look at other entries like these and learn of the thoughts and feelings of others who’ve haunted this same small square footage before us.

art

Someone had lit a fire.

Someone had lit a fire.

Many more library journals, some of which I had read on previous visits, await.

Many more library journals, some of which I had read on previous visits, await.

I know that when I leave I will experience a new malady—hotel homesickness—that can only be relieved by a return visit,” wrote another guest…and in another entry a young guest, here with her mom, revealed she had become journal addict like me: “I want to take all the little journals and books to my room so no one can read them but me.  (One could disappear suddenly.)  I don’t want to eat, I don’t even want to go down to the beach, I could sit here and look at all the stuff for days.”  That is just exactly what I planned to do.  (Well, except for taking the all the journals to my room…but I well knew the anxiety that someone else would snag them before I got my hands on them!

3/10/11 “Only day 1 and this weekend is already fabulous.  I haven’t even made it to the water yet.  I’ve spent all afternoon and evening reading in the library.  I came here this weekend to do nothing and be on my own agenda.  Looking pretty good so far.

 I found some hotel history:

July 10:  “This place—so heavy in my memory—a little girl visiting Grandma and Grandpa’s beach house at Jump Off Joe’s!  Though 40 years have come and gone, that 7 year old heard the same waves roar and saw the same sea when walking down to the Natatorium and Nye Beach Grocery.  I wonder what happened to the collection of salt and pepper shakers that used to be in the beach cabin rental office.  Maybe they gather dust in some other place.  All those old Nye Beach memories!  Grandpa, blind, but still splitting wood for the cookstove where Grandma, fat and smiling, flipped the pancakes and warmed the milk to soak his toast in.  We built saddles in tree crotches of and fought over the plumpest feather mattress.  That little, damp beach cabin and they have passed away but the light house, tide pools, and this old hotel are still here.  I treasure this spot in this world and this beautiful sunset.  I wish I could hold Grandma’s hand and walk her pansied garden path one more time. Someday I will bring my grandchildren here and tell them these stories.”  My dear journal writer, I would give just about anything to walk with my grandmother down her pansied garden path one more time.

 …and the first of many memories of loved ones lost:  “Dearest Janey, It was just two years ago that we were here with our friends and beautiful daughters.  We were celebrating our recent victories over cancer.  Yours, my friend, was a short-lived victory.  But only on this plane.  You have moved on to another and I miss you terribly.  

“Your daughter is growing to be a beautiful young lady.  Little K____ is still his happy, funny little self.  I know you can see them and are with them every moment, as you are with me.  Your courage continues to be an inspiration to me.

“Just before you died, your cousin wrote a song to K____ from you.  It is called ‘The Brightest Star in the Sky.’  Each cloudless night before I go to sleep, I look up and find you.  I love you and miss you.

I paused to remember Janey.  Loved ones live on when we are written about in the journals.  Please do think of her now.

memory3

In one journal rested a folded crane left in memory of a loved one.  “I’m placing a Japanese crane in this journal as a remembrance to Shirlee.  She and her daughter folded over 800 cranes out of the envelopes and cards and letters people had sent her since her diagnoses last October.  I’ll miss her very much.”

cranes

book

More journals awaited my next day.  We had each enjoyed a cup of the hot spiced wine which is served in the library kitchenette at ten PM.

Shelley by her chair (Allan's photo)

Shelley by her chair (Allan’s photo)

On our way down, we pet Shelly, on her chair outside the Colette room.

On our way down, we petted Shelley, on her chair outside the Colette room.

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

Allan's photo: Sometimes she waits right by the stairs to collect pets.

Allan’s photo: Sometimes she waits right by the stairs to collect pets.

We have a look at the Dr. Seuss room.

We had a look at the Dr. Seuss room.

I peek into the Alice Walker room where Carol and I stayed on our last visit.  All the unrented rooms are left open for guests to tour.

I peeked into the Alice Walker room where Carol and I stayed on our last visit. All the unrented rooms are left open for guests to tour.

This is a glimpse into the Verne room where I'll stay later in the week.

This is a glimpse into the Verne room where I’ll stay later in the week.

Allan's photo of the Jules Verne jellyfish nightlight

Allan’s photo of the Jules Verne jellyfish nightlight

and the Jules Verne bathroom ceiling

and the Jules Verne bathroom ceiling

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

Before sleeping, I read the journals in the Steinbeck room….not many entries as it is a fairly new room (and it does seem that people don’t write in the journals as prolifically as they used to).

March 13, 2015: “This hotel is unique.  The food is fabulous and plentiful, the view outstanding, the other guests are fascinating, etc etc etc.  Thanks for your courtesy and generosity and for the chance to rediscover John Steinbeck, whom I hadn’t thought of in years.  (I’m 84.)  But in spite of my neglect, he has reappeared in my life as a hero!  Every detail is thoughtful and appropriate.  How do you DO that?”

I love to see people much older than me visiting, as it gives me hope for the future, especially since this visit was based around my 60th birthday.  If I should be lucky enough to live a long life, I hope I can find a way to return again and again.

Next, and next, and next, more rhapsodizing about the Sylvia Beach experience.  Regular programming will resume on March 27.

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