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Posts Tagged ‘Sylvia Beach Hotel’

I had meant to include this story in yesterday’s post about our brunch at the bayside home of Steve and John.  I was so distracted by the garden and the bay and the brunch that I forgot to add it!

Sylvia Beach Hotel

Last month, Steve and John went to the Sylvia Beach Hotel, my favourite place in the world.  They stayed there while attending a show featuring Pink Martini with guest singer Storm Large, and when they returned, I received this email from them, and I have permission to share it with you:

Our eternal gratitude for emoting so heavily in the Tangly Cottage bog about the Sylvia Beach Hotel.    We stayed in the Amy Tan on Tuesday night and had more than a wonderful experience.

Amy Tan

Amy Tan room

 As you know, we were drawn for a special package that gave us access to super seats at the Pink Martini concert.   We sat in the third row, center.

a publicity photo of Pink Martini with Storm Large

a publicity photo of Pink Martini with Storm Large

 After we had checked in, we overheard the front desk person extending good wishes to a departing woman.   I assumed right away that it was most likely the lead singer, Storm Large, who was scheduled in China Forbes’ place for this pair of concerts and three others in December in Raleigh.   We had heard about her before and assumed that she’d be good if she was deemed a worthy replacement by Thomas Lauderdale, the other founder.    So I asked if she was Storm, which she acknowledged, and we were able to wish her a good concert as well as she headed out the door.    The front desk person told us she always stays there.

south wall of SBH lobby

south wall of SBH lobby

 Well, she was magnificent.    Spectacular voice and stage presence–amazing sinuous body and ballet-like use of her body, despite her being a rather tall, large-framed woman.   She was amazing.    The concert was sensational, a predictable outcome for Pink Martini.

 The magic moment came the next morning, over breakfast.   We joined a couple of women we had met the night before at dinner, among a wonderful group of people around the community table–delightful start for the evening.    Goody then joined me and John and these women, and soon after, Storm appeared in very Portland grunge style–pajama pants, torn t-shirt, casual sweater, no makeup.    What a difference from her so-glamorous presentation on stage the night before.  

 Storm proceeded to share a lot of her life story, which was because she and Goody went back for years, all the way to Los Angeles, and were old friends.    Very interesting conversation to say  the least!     We felt so fortunate to have been up a little late that morning.

breakfast buffet at the Sylvia Beach

breakfast buffet at the Sylvia Beach

breakfast

 Anyway, we loved it all.   Bathroom was a little tiny, naturally, and the  bed was a bit cramped for us.   But we wouldn’t have had it any other way.    

 I have to say we had little time to read journals, although we did spend a little time on the third floor, pondering one of the many huge jigsaw puzzles that were spread out on tables.     We had nice tea up there and coffee the next morning before doing breakfast downstairs.   Wow…wonderful time.

 So thanks again for the prompt to experience the Sylvia for ourselves.    Couldn’t have been better.

Amy Tan

Amy Tan room

Amy Tan room

Amy Tan room

img_5849

 

I recommended the more spacious Herman Melville room for their next visit, where they could enjoy the view from these two chairs:

Herman Melville room reading nook with lighthouse view

Herman Melville room reading nook with lighthouse view

I was simply thrilled that they had had such a perfectly magical time at a place that I love so much.  How wonderful to get to chat with Goody Cable.  I have only been fortunate enough to cross paths with her once at her hotel. And to have breakfast with a relaxed Storm Large….in jammies!  It’s cool to know that she dresses casual in her offstage time.  I could not have imagined a better Sylvia Beach Hotel experience.  We also believe that Storm and Goody had interesting company in Steve and John.

Steve and John told us a little more about the experience yesterday, including the tale of Goody being up late in the third floor library trying to find just one more piece to add to the ongoing jigsaw puzzle.

looking down from the library attic at the SBH

looking down from the library attic at the SBH

Sometimes, there's a puzzle laid out on a table in the library attic.

Sometimes, there’s a puzzle laid out on a table in the library attic.

On this table in the SBH, a jigsaw puzzle is often in progress

On this table just off  the SBH library, a jigsaw puzzle is often in progress

I’m looking forward to returning to the SBH around the time of my 60th birthday in March.  Till then, I know that daily, magic happens there.

Painted in Waterlogue

Here is a link to one of several videos featuring Storm Large with Pink Martini.

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Sunday, 21 September 2014

Carol and I said a slow and reluctant goodbye to the Sylvia Beach Hotel.

the morning view straight down from the Shakespeare room

the morning view straight down from the Shakespeare room

We passed through the front garden as we walked around the building on the fewer-stairways route to breakfast.

We passed through the front garden as we walked around the building on the fewer-stairways route to breakfast. Our Shakespeare window shows on the right, above.

our view from our breakfast table in the Tables of Content restaurant.

our view from our breakfast table in the Tables of Content restaurant.

After breakfast (lemon squares, peach kitchen, fruit, juice, and scrumptious scrambled eggs with chevre!), we loaded our luggage into the car. I used the back stairway (conveniently right next to Shakespeare) as I can go slowly sideways there without anyone seeing. I think Destiny may be the one who tipped me off about the back stairway. Even then, my increasing phobias bothered me as I felt dizzy just being next to the windows on the landing.

I worry that eventually I will be too phobic to leave the house; I hope the SBH lure will be strong enough to draw me out!

I worry that eventually I will be too phobic to leave the house; I hope the SBH lure will be strong enough to draw me out!

Back in the lobby, Shelley snoozed adorably.

shelley

She got a smooch.

She got a smooch.

I made a decision and booked five nights for my birthday week in March. Sixtieth is a big one, yes? Steinbeck, Melville, Jane Austen, Emily Dickenson, Jules Verne. The idea is that Allan will start the trip with me and then leave me there, and Carol will come down for the last four nights. Or fewer, as I would be fine being there alone (although might change the middle nights to Gertrude Stein and Lincoln Steffans then). I told the innkeepers (who Carol later noted had written the reservations down by hand in an old fashioned hotel register book) that I am a hypochondriac and a catastrophizer who finds it hard to plan far ahead in case something goes wrong. However, with the generous 48 hour cancellation policy, I can take the risk.

I said to the innkeeper, “Maybe five nights will be enough.” She chortled and replied, “It just gets worse.” Later, a friend told me she had stayed fifteen nights, trying to leave twice and each time coming back.

Then Carol and I went back up to the library for more reading.

stairs from first to second floor

stairs from first to second floor

on the way to the library

on the way to the library

Looking back down to the second floor...

Looking back down to the second floor…

and up to the library.

and up to the library.

There are two more flights of stairs other than these, one to the restaurant in the daylight basement and one to the library attic. I remember reading a journal entry by an old woman who wrote, from a first floor guest room, that this would be her last visit as she could no longer make it up to the library.

I made my way to the attic to get some more old journals out of the glass front bookshelf, ones I had already read. The corner that used to have a chaise lounge, and then later an easy chair, has tables and chairs now, not as idea a reading nook by the singing pipes. The day before, two quiet folk had been playing a game or doing a puzzle in that corner.

My favourite corner is different now.

My favourite corner is different now. The pipes still sing in the wind.

I had found an evocative journal entry about this particular window spot by the pipes:

“Climb the stairs all the way to the top of the building, bypass the wide-flung reading room, and come to the library in the attic. By the far side, against the window from which you can see the waving sea, are two low chairs. Sit in the one facing the coast in the dark of the night, turn on the little lamp next to you, and read your book while listening to the hushing of the sea and the soft rustle of the turn of pages below you in the library. A sort of magic happens, in which all cares are eased from you, and the miraculous begins to seem not entirely farfetched. Ever my heart will linger here.”

The attic reading spot used to look like this.

The attic reading spot used to look like this.

Some reminisce about attic seating even longer ago: “I like the oldness, the shabbiness, the casual clutter, especially the old chaise lounge tucked up under the leaves.”

 

Then back down to a corner chair by the library fireplace.

ready for journal reading

ready for journal reading

I was fortunate in that someone checked out of the Melville room at just this time so I was able to snag a stack of Melville journals instead of the old Tennessee Williams room ones that I had already read.

In the Melville room, lower right, a treasure trove of journals.

In the Melville room, lower right, a treasure trove of journals.

the mirror itself, in 1991, with the Great White Bed.

the mirror itself, in 1991, with the Great White Bed.

In the Melville room: “I’ve woken while it was still dark, yet there is enough light to see the ocean. There is a bit of a blow coming ashore 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 the timbers flex and give a little in stormy weather. That’s what has enabled the Gilmore/Sylvia Beach to survive this long.”

 

the view from my chair

the view from my chair

Carol sat to my left in the brown chair, and you can see above someone else reading in the chair facing the window. At the far end, a couple read from the same iPad. We decided to stay until 1 PM before our necessary departure.

I ran across this entry and thought that making the world easier to live in is an excellent goal to strive for:

opal

art

I read two Melville journals and skimmed two more, trying to follow a star-crossed lovers romance that bloomed in the pages. Then the Melville journals had to go back into their room.

I looked at the Melville room reading nook and dreamed of reading here with Carol in March 2015.

I looked at the Melville room reading nook and dreamed of reading here with Carol in March 2015.

This would be our view.

This would be our view.

I do think that of all my friends, Carol is the most quiet and meditative one, a perfect companion for the Sylvia Beach. With over 35 years of friendship, we have no drama, just restfulness.

As our time drew to a close, I came upon an entry I had read before and that is perhaps my favourite of all the journal entries that have come my way:

best1

best2

A song for the Sylvia Beach was the latest entry in the library journal:

the last entry in the most recent library journal, before...

the last entry in the most recent library journal, before…

Before leaving, Carol and I left our mark in the latest library journal.

carol

mine

mine2

After having written that and before descending the stairs, we saw the most appropriate picture in the restroom off the library.

I must, must, must return to SBH more often.

I must, must, must return to SBH more often.

On the way down to the lobby, we peeked into one last room.

The Lincoln Steffans room, whose journals I have not read AT ALL.

The Lincoln Steffans room, whose journals I have not read AT ALL.

I do hope the Lincoln Steffan journals are still here and that I can read them in March.

I do hope the Lincoln Steffan journals are still here and that I can read them in March. I know that some of them are typed on this old typewriter and I have seen sheets of typewritten paper stacked in a desk drawer.

As we left, the innkeeper called out to me, “We’ll see you for your sixtieth birthday!” I had already told her I was a catastrophizer, and I replied with a fervent, “Oh, I hope so!” to which she firmly replied, “None of that bullshit; we WILL see you.” I loved that.

the garden of the house next door to the SBH

the garden of the house next door to the SBH

and back to reality at a gas station in Newport

and back to reality at a gas station in Newport, just blocks from the peace of the hotel.

We drove straight back to Astoria with nary a stop till we got to the Bridgewater Bistro and had dinner, then parted at my house. Carol had one more day of vacation and would return to Seattle on Tuesday. At home, I sat down in a daze and picked up a book. Hours later, I had read the whole thing. The Sylvia Beach effect: I could not bear to boot up the computer, even to start blogging.

I read this book in one sitting, as I could not bear to turn on the telly, either.

I read Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty in one sitting, as I could not bear to turn on the telly, either.

from the book, something with which I strongly identify

from the book, something with which I strongly identify

and something else that spoke to me, as I am worn out by bright chatty people.

and something else that spoke to me, as I am worn out by bright, chatty, bubbly people.

I also liked the character's thoughts on Facebook.  I like best those Facebook friends who share their true selves, however dire or dour.

I also liked the character’s thoughts on Facebook. I like best those Facebook friends who share their true selves, however dire or dour.

Four cats and Allan (who watched a quiet movie on his computer while I read) were happy to see me. Tomorrow, work would begin again.

Mary, contentedly snoozing on the back of my reading chair.

Mary, contentedly snoozing on the back of my reading chair.

I am adding one more post about the healing power of the room journals, setting it to publish this evening. For those readers who have had enough of my maundering on about the SBH, skip straight to tomorrow morning’s entry, which will get back to the real world.

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Saturday, 20 September 2014

Today was the day we would move all our luggage up to the Shakespeare room on the second floor.

the main stairway (although we would use the back utilitarian stairway)

the main stairway from the lobby to the second floor (although we would use the back utilitarian stairway).  That’s hotel cat Shelley.

But first, breakfast, after a brief walk around the outside of the hotel to avoid the stairs to the daylight basement restaurant.  I wrote all about the stairs once on a previous visit.

Outside, Flossie meowed from a chair on the deck outside the Verne room; she will go to a nice home on Monday.

Flossie.  I heard that Shelley did not want to share the hotel with her.

Flossie. I heard that Shelley did not want to share the hotel with her.

pumpkin pancakes with a spiced butter for breakfast...along with pastries, juice, fruit.

pumpkin pancakes with a spiced butter for breakfast…along with pastries, juice, fruit.

The Gift Shop and Lobby

After breakfast, I browsed the lobby gift shop while waiting for our next room to be ready.

It has three shelves of blank journals, of course.

It has three shelves of blank journals, of course.

more journals

more journals

gift shop view

gift shop view

such a good collection of cards

such a good collection of cards

card

Also on offer: some small snacks, some toiletries, and books by and about the hotel authors.

the door to the lobby balcony

the door to the lobby balcony

The lobby has a table with some notebooks containing history of the hotel, before it became the Sylvia Beach, during the creation of the authors’ hotel, later remodeling, and more.

history

retired

lesuer

Le Seur (now Shakespeare, our room for tonight)

Undset (now Woolf)

Undset (now Woolf, our room of last night)

Tenessee Williams, now Amy Tan

Tenessee Williams, now Amy Tan

in the lobby

in the lobby

I went down the first floor hallway to check on our situation and found that Carol was already moving our luggage up to the Shakespeare room.

Shakespeare Room

This would be our home for till tomorrow.

bed

the bed and the cabinet of curiosities

inside the cabinet

inside the cabinet

props from the different plays; the tag says which play and which scene

props from the different plays; the tag says which play and which scene

cabinet

desk

s

room

Carol's shoes strike a modern note...

Carol’s shoes strike a modern note…

as do her jacket and cap.

as do her jacket and cap.

in the bathroom

in the bathroom

The room journals numbered only three or four as the room was fairly new.

memory of a previous big orange hotel cat

memory of a previous big orange hotel cat

A  clever Shakespearean entry:

 

 

clever

Soon in a quest for more journals, I went exploring into other rooms (which are open for touring as long as they are between guests).

Amy Tan Room

tan

where I did a little journal reading

where I did a little journal reading

Someone came into the room while I was reading, another guest (Melville room), and we began to talk.  She had stayed in the Poe room once, on Halloween.  When I shared that I had stayed there too, in 1991, she said that she had not met anyone else who had stayed in that spooky room with its raven and the pendulum over the bed.  (It is now the JK Rowling room; I heard that there was a problem with folks being afraid to stay in Poe.)  She shared my journal interest and wondered with me where the journals from the Poe and Undset room have gone to.  I told her that the innkeeper had told me that owner Goody has them safe, probably in the attic, and that I have scoured the attic but could find only Tennessee Williams, EB White, and RL Stevenson’s room journals.  She scoured the attic herself after our talk and later told me that those are the only ones she could find, as well.  It was fun to find someone other than Destiny who also craves those journals.

Jane Austen Room

On my way back to the library, I got some journals out of one of my favourite rooms, Jane Austen.

a photo from a previous visit

a photo from a previous visit

a photo from 2013 of Jane's reading nook with lighthouse view

a photo from 2013 of Jane’s reading nook with lighthouse view

Carol laughed in delight at the selection of books.

Carol laughed in delight at the selection of books.  And look, a novel by Georgette Heyer, an old favourite of mine.

pulp fiction

kitties

I long to stay in this room.

I long to stay in this room.

jane

back to the library

at the library's entrance

at the library’s entrance…quiet voices, no cell phones

library

Carol went for a long walk around Nye Beach while I settled into a couch to read till dinnertime.  She reported back later that the weather was exceptionally warm.  (At home, Allan was having to water in Ilwaco and Long Beach in 91 degree weather.)

my view

my view

ever changing

ever changing

Like this journal writer, I did a lot of thinking about my own situation as I found kindred spirits in the journals:  “I’ve done a lot of thinking and contemplating over my own situation during my stay at SBH.  This place feels as if I’ve entered a separate time and place…it feels as if time has stopped here to take a deep breath and just pause.  The hotel has a gentle, slow, rhythmic beat that just pulls you in.  I had many late nights in the library, sitting in the big green leather armchair in front of the window…the sound of the waves crashing into the shore eased my mind while my mug of peppermint tea soothed my insides.  It made for the perfect setting to spill my thoughts onto a piece of paper.  Enjoy this room, this hotel, this feeling.  Definitely nothing like it.  Ease your mind, soothe your soul, let the ocean take you.  P.S.  The cats are beautiful.”

 

Just off the south end of the library is the coffee room where mulled wine is served at 10 PM.  You can make yourself a cup of hot tea at any time of the day or night.

in the coffee room

in the coffee room

a table for playing games

a table for playing games or for jigsaw puzzles

view into the library (south end)

view into the library (south end)

my view as I sat back down with some peppermint tea.

my view as I sat back down with some peppermint tea.

Two women came in to the library and when they looked around and walked over to the window, their faces lit up with such joy that I was moved to comment how happy they looked.  “Oh, we just got here!”, they said.  I asked which room they were taking and they said Jane Austen.  I said that I had some of her journals and had been watching for people to check in there so I could return them, and they said I should take my time.  How pleasant!  I told them I would leave the journals right outside the door, although later I was able to just hand them to these guests as they re-entered their room.

The following entry gave me thought:  Would the hotel be as blissful a retreat if all the world (or our homes) were like it?  “….for the peace and tranquility of the Sylvia Beach Hotel would not be here if it were not for the chaos and stress at home.  Both realities need each other to exist, and both realities are equally good and positive.”

 

I have never had a long talk with other guests in the library.  I read in another journal that Goody loves when this happens:  “spent time  talking in the library all day and all through dinner…the most sustained group conversation I’ve ever been in on, from everything beginning with why are we here to everything ending with the theory that we spend out lives trying to fulfull, overcome, or negate our first conscious wish, obstacle, or fear.”

 

Jane Austen room inspires the thoughtful sort of journal entries that are my favourites:

“This is more like coming home than coming home is.”  And:

 

jane

jane

jane

One thing so sweet to me is that many of the journalers write to Jane herself.  In the Emily Dickenson room, guests write letters to Emily.  They don’t write letters to Ernest (Hemingway) or Herman (Melville).

jane

With the Jane journals returned to their rightful place, I looked into the former women’s dorm.

Ken Kesey’s Cuckoos Nest
Near the library is the former women’s dorm.  It caused considerable sorrow among poorer guests when the affordable dorm was turned into a room for four.  I read in a journal that the bunk beds were declared not quite up to hotel inspection standards.  Now the room sleeps four, and is not rented out by the bed as it used to be.  I believe that the smaller men’s dorm is now a retreat for Goody herself.

nest

nest2

I finally figured out, after some searching, that the journals are “patient records” on clipboards on each bed.

rules

So I took them into the library to read.  They are not as introspective as the old dorm journals, which are…where?  Those were among the most angsty as the people who stayed in the dorms were poorer and faced more challenges, I felt, than the people (like me) who could afford the author rooms.  The dorms often had moving journal entries from women who had fled to the hotel to heal.  (The men’s dorm room tended to have some cruder entries, as I found one day when I crept into that empty dorm to read them.)

 This entry told me that the guests of the Cuckoo’s Nest are given jelly bean “pills”.  Such attention to detail!

“It’s my 65th birthday and you’ll never guess what management did.  I just complained a teeny bit about my room being on the 1st floor, and now I’m stuck in the “rest home”.  They said “Think of it as a college dormitory” but I know better.  I showed ’em.  I pretended to take the medicine.  They said it was jelly beans.  I know better.   I’m going to escape tomorrow.  P.S.  I’m taking the meds with me just in case they are jelly beans.”

library view to the south

library view to the south (over the Mark Twain room deck)

looking down on a garden to the north

looking down on a garden to the north

looking east out the coffee room window

looking east out the coffee room window

We left the library to go to dinner.  On the way to a highly recommended local restaurant, Carol said that she had finally realized that what I really wanted was to dine at the Tables of Content and play “the game” (two truths and a lie) every night.  I said, well, yes, but that it was her vacation too, and she wants more of a break from people as she works in a public job (driving a Metro bus!).  Besides, I had heard great things about our dining destination…in entry after enty of the rooms journals, people raved about….

Nana’s Irish Pub

nana

our view in the pub

our view in the pub

menu

I had the Vegetarian Celtic Curry Pie as it was repeatedly raved about in the room journals.

It was wonderful; even though my photo came out blurry, it hints at the delicacy of the pastry crust.

It was wonderful; even though my photo came out blurry, it hints at the delicacy of the pastry crust.

Carol's so scrumptious shepherd's pie.  (We shared bites.)

Carol’s so scrumptious shepherd’s pie. (We shared bites.)

On the way back to the hotel (a block or two away), I saw an interesting landscape, a wetland garden on the lower corner of an old beach house’s lot.

natural and appealing....note buzzards to the right.

natural and appealing….note buzzards to the right.  (not real)

back to Sylvia Beach

We went back up to the library at sunset, passing the Colette room where Shelly waited for some attention.  While Carol has become mildly allergic to cats, she cannot resist petting one.

shelley

Shelley in the Colette room

Shelley in the Colette room

the view from Colette's balcony door.

the view from Colette’s balcony door.

and from my favourite sleep spot, the day bed (Colette's "raft") at the north end of the room.  It is good to sleep there with the window open a bit and hear the waves.

and from my favourite sleep spot, the day bed (Colette’s “raft”) at the north end of the room. It is good to sleep there with the window open a bit and hear the waves.

the raft

the raft

Having stayed in this room before, I had read the older journals; I caught up on just the very latest one.  Oh what bliss it must be to have sisters and a mother who all love this hotel.

colette

Back to a couch in the library….fog had rolled in.

library

view

Two hardy souls had made a nest for themselves.

Two hardy souls had made a nest for themselves.

If I lived far from the beach, I would have been out there no matter what the weather.

If I lived far from the beach, I would have been out there no matter what the weather.

Back to the journals….I am always so very pleased to find entries by frequent guests, whose stories I can follow through the various journals.  And with every journal read, I find healing and inspiration.

“I have comes to terms with just me and me alone,” writes one guest, “without all the distractions of too much work, too many half-baked friends, too many choices.  Perhaps this new beginning is the greatest challenge and the most difficult journey of all.  Remember, “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood (Tom Robbins).”

And look who I found in the library journals:

carol

 

Carol in the library with a photography book about authors

Carol in the library with a photography book about authors, showing me one of our favourites, Ruth Rendell

sketch of the library from one of the library journals

sketch of the library from one of the library journals

After mulled wine, at about 11 PM, we repaired to the Shakespeare room to read some more.

Shakespeare room before falling asleep

Shakespeare room before falling asleep

Next: our last long morning in the library, and back to reality

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Friday, 19 September 2014

I continue my stream of consciousness of our day at the Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport, Oregon.  It is hard for me to even leave the hotel for lunch.  However, Café Mundo has always intrigued me from the outside so I was eager to go there; during previous offseason visits, it has been closed.

We passed some cute cottages on the two block walk.  If I lived here, would I spend my days sneaking into the Sylvia Beach Hotel library instead of reading at home?

Nye Beach cottage, Newport

Nye Beach cottage, Newport

and another

and another

Café Mundo

Mundo

outdoor seating

outdoor seating

the courtyard

the courtyard

Inside, we sat at one of the few downstairs tables and looked at the second story balcony.

Inside, we sat at one of the few downstairs tables and looked at the second story balcony.

looking up over the (live music) stage

looking up over the (live music) stage

We decided the upstairs looked intriguing...

We decided the upstairs looked intriguing…and it was.

looking out that screened door

looking out that screened door

looking down from the balcony

looking down from the balcony

down

the upstairs espresso and drinks bar

the upstairs espresso and drinks bar

Carol seated at our table

Carol seated at our table

art on the high walls

art on the high walls

The cute little hut at the end houses the upstairs bathroom.

The cute little hut at the end houses the upstairs bathroom.

Carol had a grilled cheese sandwich.

Carol had a grilled cheese sandwich.

I had a Greek veggie pita...delicious!

I had a Greek veggie pita…delicious!

A gauzy banner gently blew next to the railing.

A gauzy banner gently blew next to the railing.

looking up to the ceiling; I wonder if all the windows are why I have found this place closed in the winter.

looking up to the ceiling; I wonder if all the windows are why I have found this place closed in the winter.

a beautifully light space

a beautifully light space

view from the back door; the red roof is the Sylvia Beach Hotel.

view from the back door; the red roof is the Sylvia Beach Hotel.

Despite my problem with stairs, I would like to spend much time here.

Despite my problem with stairs, I would like to spend much time here if I lived in the Nye Beach neighbourhood.

stairs going down

stairs going down

the outdoor patio again

the outdoor patio again

looking back

looking back

In summer, it often has live music and stays open late.

In summer, it often has live music and stays open late.

Nye Beach

On the way back to the hotel, Carol and I took the tiniest walk on just a couple of blocks of the Nye Beach neighbourhood.  Perhaps if I had a six night stay at SBH, I might get my fill of the hotel enough to explore the surroundings more.

We turned to our left here.

We turned to our left here.

A garden just down the block...

A garden just down the block…

garden

belonged to these fascinating rental cottages.

belonged to these fascinating rental cottages.

I peeked through the gate and it looked wonderful.

I peeked through the gate and it looked wonderful.  With a kitty.

This is the sort of place I'd like to stay, were it not for the SBH being so near.

This is the sort of place I’d like to stay, were it not for the SBH being so near.

seaweed

beach

In this evocative article that includes praise for Sylvia Beach Hotel and Café Mundo, I found this intriquing words about the Seaweed Bungalows: “Nye Beach Bums Seaweed Bungalows, 541-961-8574. Only a couple of turn-of-the-century cottages, but well worth it if you can persuade the owners you are right for the place.”

a window in a house near the hotel

a window in a house near the hotel

the house just south of the hotel

the house just south of the hotel

Sylvia Beach Hotel

Back at the hotel, I finally climbed the two flights to the library.

Shelly was watching at the second landing.

Shelley was watching at the second landing.

Colette Room

The Colette room was to my left.

The Colette room was to my left.  That little bed is my favourite of all in the hotel.

I passed the Colette room again later on the quest for journals.  I think it is Shelly's favourite room.

I passed the Colette room again later on the quest for journals. I think it is Shelley’s favourite room.

Dr. Seuss Room

The first time I stayed at the Sylvia Beach was with Robert on a trip down the coast from Seattle in 1991.  It happened to be vacant on a summer night.

seuss

The hats are still by the window...

The hats are still by the window…

me and Robert trying on hats in the Seuss room, summer 1991

me and Robert trying on hats in the Seuss room, summer 1991

The hotel in 1991

The hotel in 1991

SBH from the beach in 1991

SBH from the beach in 1991

Back then, because I did not live at the beach, I had to go spend time on the beach rather than just read in the hotel.  I remember that later that year we went back in autumn and I read journal after journal in the rooms that were open because it was offseason.  At that time, the hotel had been open for only five years.

We did not get back after 1993 because we adopted a dog and did not want to travel without him.  Robert was not especially happy at the hotel because it is no smoking and he craved cigarettes.

For more photos of the Dr. Seuss (and other rooms) see this previous blog entry.

Herman Melville Room

Just off the third floor library is one of the larger hotel rooms with a wonderful view.

the huge bed

the huge bed

a reading nook perfect for two

a reading nook perfect for two

I knew someone was likely to check in soon on a Friday so did not try to snag the journals.

I knew someone was likely to check in soon on a Friday so did not try to snag the journals.

the Melville room view

the Melville room view

The library

At last, the library

At last, the library

one of the library views

one of the library views

I sat myself down at the north end...with this view to the south

I sat myself down at the north end…with this view to my left

and this view at my right hand.

and this view at my right hand.

as I read on into the evening

as I read on into the evening and the rising wind sculpted the sand.

I had to quest for more journals, as I wanted to save the library journals for the next day; the Gertrude Stein room was open so I borrowed some from there.

Gertrude Stein Room

This room was too small to add a sleeping pad for a friend, so I would love to stay there by myself some time.

I would love to stay there by myself some time.  It is one of the smallest rooms.

writing desk

 

Tables of Content Restaurant

At 7 PM, we joined others for dinner at the Tables of Content Restaurant, where I thought the wine list made each selection sound irresistible.

winelist

I had the Pinot Gris because it mentioned grapefruit, and because I had a little headache so could not have a red wine.

We were seated at a table with three couples who were not staying at the hotel.  I very much want to sit with other hotel guests because of the shared experience.  I wonder if next time I can ask if that would be possible?  In all the times I’ve dined at the Tables of Content, I have rarely sat with other guests, instead usually with people who come in to dine from “the outside”.

first course...Hopping Jack.

first course…Hopping Jack….then the conversation got too busy for photography.  We both had chicken saltimbocca for our main course…excellent.

I was sure that the table would not play The Game…Two Truths and a Lie, owner Goody’s beloved method of getting people to share about themselves.  (On the hotel website, she writes: “Not all the dinner guests are from the hotel; there are also locals and people visiting the area. But we all eat together.  Dinner is served every evening.   Our ‘new’ chefs have been here for a year now.  They are always incorporating local, fresh foods into their cuisines.   The food is served family style (you have a choice of 4 entrees) and is out of this world. It is always fabulous. If I didn’t totally believe it I wouldn’t have the nerve to write it here. I have often been told “that was probably one of the best meals I’ve ever had.” But on top of that, the dinner conversations are what brings me the greatest pleasure. Our guests are from all over the country, and sometimes out of the country, and they’re thoughtful, curious, and high spirited.

If the table is willing, we play two truths and a lie! I’m addicted to the game! (So if you make reservations to come to the hotel when I’m there, and you’ve got good stories, please ask to sit at my table! I promise you a great time!)

The hostess of the night always tells the diners about the game.  To my surprise, our tablemates immediately started to play.  I had been dreading it all day, as I always do, as I could not think of two truths that were interesting.  And then, as always happens, the minute the others started playing, I was filled with intense exhileration and I whispered to Carol, “I LOVE the game!”  She doesn’t love it as I do although she is good at it, having lived an interesting and well traveled life.

After dinner and a round of the game, the conversation became just two of the men reminiscing about how they got into college (West Point and Reed and a law school) with their wives gazing on admiringly.  I was wishing then that I was at the next table where I thought I overheard conversation about books.  So Carol and I took our leave and I went back to reading journals.

Many journal entries mention dinner and The Game:

“I read a book.  I eat.  I read a book.  I eat.  I wonder what’s for dinner.”

“I always start Two Truths and a Lie a little reluctant, feeling a little pissy about being directed to play a game, but even when my own entries are mediocre, I always marvel at the hidden facets and ability to connect in my dining companions.  Thank you for directing us in a positive direction…we don’t always practice revealing and connective habits even when they are pleasurable.  Of course, having such an amazing repast over which to converse doesn’t hinder the process.  Bravo!”

“This was our second night of dinner at the Tables of Content, which means our second night of Two Truths and a Lie.  So it is fitting to end this way:  1.  This is the best weekend trip I have ever taken.  2. I will be back often to the SBH.  3.  I have six brothers.   Thanks for the memories, SBH!  Signed, the only son.”

“The game at dinner allows guests to offer fictitious versions of themselves for others’ investigation.  It’s no wonder this place has the effect it does.  It offers a ‘place apart’ (no phones, no tv etc) with the opportunity for imagination.  Connecting this way may be the only place that visitors have this opportunity.  How many jobs offer a love for creative play or draw on one’s inner reality.”

 

Back to Virginia Woolf room

In the Woolf room, I read more journals while Carol read her book in the library until she kindly brought mulled wine down to me at ten PM.

One of the room artists for the Tolkien room wrote thoughts about the Woolf room (and cats):

woolf

woolf

more I found more thoughts about the painted furniture:

“Sitting at the desk and looking at the lighthouse is irresistible.  We miss Undset, but not that much seeing this new gem of a room.  Just the colors alone sing their own song.  Funny to think of the English being so bold with color but when you think about it, they’re bold in many ways.  And they love the seaside.  We are lucky to have the chance to have our own little seaside fantasy here.”

And then…to sleep.  Next: The Shakespeare room

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Friday, 19 September 2014

Breakfast is included in the price of the SBH rooms and is kindly served till 10 AM so we night owls do not have to get up too awfully early. Carol and I walked around the outside of the hotel to get to the dining room to avoid the stairs (due to my sore knee).

Flossie followed us....

Flossie followed us….

...around the building and down the sidewalk to the outside entrance to the dining room.

…around the building and down the sidewalk to the outside entrance to the dining room.

Flossie, the outdoor cat (not let in because apparently the hotel cat is territorial) was due to go to a loving home the following Monday.

The Sylvia Beach Hotel breakfasts are lavish.

coffee or tea, and as much juice as you want.

coffee or tea, and as much juice as you want.

The very best lemon squares I have ever had anywhere.  The peach kuchen is also wonderful (but the photo came out blurry)

A selection of about six different breakfast treats. The very best lemon squares I have ever had anywhere. The peach kuchen is also wonderful (but the photo came out blurry)

all the fresh fruit that you want

all the fresh fruit that you want

hard boiled eggs

hard boiled eggs

AND a delicious hot breakfast choice that changes every day.

AND a delicious hot breakfast choice that changes every day.

AND this view.

AND this view.

Then…back into the hotel. I was oh so fleetingly disappointed that the weather was good. The predicted rain would have been perfect for staying indoors; I always feel a little guilty staying indoors in good weather. However, nothing would keep me from the room journals, my SBH obsession.

heading back inside...

heading back inside…

Good weather would have been quite perfect had we had one of these rooms with the little deck right by the front entrance: Jules Verne and JRR Tolkien.

Back to the Alice Walker room, I read journals while waiting for our next room to be cleaned. Carol went to the library, as we were just shifting next door so I could accomplish it easily.

I was able to snag enough journals from the nearby Hemingway room to keep me happily occupied for hours.

Hemingway Room

Hemingway room

Hemingway room

Hemingway room

Hemingway room

h

a treasure trove of journals

a treasure trove of journals

An antelope head used to hang over the bed, leading to journal complaints about killing animals and journal humour about the antelope watching over amorous antics in the room. Now it has been replaced with paper mache heads.

heads

the bed got many rave reviews

the bed got many rave reviews

heads

Back in the antelope head days, a journal writer was inspired to draw this.

Back in the antelope head days, a journal writer was inspired to draw this.

 

h

The roomie (i.e. the creator of the room) wrote this about some of the reactions in the journals:

roomie

roomie2

roomie3

roomie4

How enviable an experience to be one of the roomies (also knows as roomers). I like her attention to detail:

I guess it's ok to use her full name.  She put her phone number in the journal so guests could contact her.

I guess it’s ok to use her full name. She put her phone number in the journal so guests could contact her.

The Hemingway room view would be blocked by parked cars. However, journal entries revealed the convenience of being able to load one’s luggage in and out of the window.

Hemingway room view

Hemingway room view

hemingwayI had read several of the Hemingway journals years ago when staying in the Agatha Christie room. They always hold up to re-reading. Often the hotel guests do their best to write in the style of the author in whose room they reside, and the results are funny and charming.

 

j2

h1

h2

h

h

Journelers also share their experiences that relate to the author:

fine

 

And they share the inspiration they got from the author:

 

h

h

And they sometimes share why they don’t like the author (as sometimes one takes whatever room is available).

h

from my favourite room journaler, Pat Henderson

from my favourite room journaler, Pat Henderson

There are many references to books in the journals, and I wrote myself a list of recommendations.

a journal reference to one of my favourite books

a journal reference to one of my favourite books

My journal reading was briefly interrupted when I moved our belongings to the Virginia Woolf Room, right next door to Alice Walker.

Virginia Woolf Room

woolf

on the door

Virginia Woolf room

Virginia Woolf room

Note there are only two room journals on the bed. That is all I found. I thought that the old ones had disappeared until I realized in reading one entry that this was fairly recently transformed from the Sigrid Undset room into Virginia Woolf. I long to know what happened to the Sigrid room journals as often the more obscure and quiet authors are the ones who inspire the most introspective journal entries.

This journal entry solved the mystery of the missing journals:

undset

Carol is my only friend who has, I know, read and indeed owns the Undset Nobel-prize-for-literature-winning trilogy, Kristin Lavransdatter.

Virginia Woolf room

Virginia Woolf room

vw

Virginia's sister, Vanessa Bell, painted walls and furniture in this style, inspiring the decoration of this room.

vw2

I would not have understood why the furnishings and were painted as they were had I not read these journal entries:

woolf

woolf

vw

vw

my reading chair

my reading chair

Each room is provided with a good array of the books by and about its author. If I ever finish all the room journals, I would have plenty of other room-appropriate reading material.

my view

my view

next to my chair

next to my chair

from a room journal

from a room journal

After awhile, in order to save the last Woolf room journal for bedtime reading, I went exploring for more journals (and more rooms).

JRR Tolkien Room

JRR Tolkien room

JRR Tolkien room

Sadly, the room used to have THIS bed but something did it in.

Sadly, the room used to have THIS bed but something did it in. (photo courtesy Destiny Grose)

Tolkien room

Tolkien room

tolkien

Tolkien room view

Tolkien room view

tolkien

Jules Verne Room

verne

I’ve read old journal entries from the guests of this rooms previous incarnation, Robert Louis Stevenson. (Those journals reside in a glass fronted bookshelf in the attic of the library.) It was suggested, because of the rushing of water in the ceiling pipes, that 20.000 Leagues Under the Sea would be a good theme for this room, and here it is.

bed

the Jules Verne bathroom....This and Mark Twain's are the two spacious bathrooms of the hotel.

the Jules Verne bathroom….This and Mark Twain’s are the two spacious bathrooms of the hotel.

 

John Steinbeck Room

I stood and read the new journal entries in the Steinbeck room. This used to be the E.B. White room where I stayed three times with friends (because it is the only room with twin beds except for the dorms…more on the dorms in a later entry).

the brilliantly decorated Steinbeck room, which would have been one of our rooms this time but it was booked.

the brilliantly decorated Steinbeck room, which would have been one of our rooms this time but it was booked.

steinbeck

s2

s3

s4

Agatha Christie Room

I’ve stayed in Agatha’s room with Carol and with Mary (the latter being a Christie fan from way back). Last time I stayed in her room, the journals were missing, all but the most recent, a true and tragic mystery (and I searched EVERYwhere).

Agatha Christie room with a sleeper couch

Agatha Christie room with a sleeper couch

and  a big comfy bed

and a big comfy bed

and a working fireplace

and a working fireplace

and its own balcony

and its own balcony.

I caught up on the Christie journals. (The rooms that are not currently occupied are left open between 11:30 AM till the next guest checks in.) There is a series of clues left around the Christie room, although over the years I think they have gotten kind of mixed up. There used to be a pair of shoes peeking out from behind the curtain, and a bottle of “poison” in the bathroom cabinet, which may still be there.

The treat referred to was left by a previous guest.  More on this later.

The treat referred to was left by a previous guest. More on this in a later entry.

christie

With that little mystery, I will close this long journal entry of mine and Carol and I will leave the hotel for lunch.

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Thursday, 18 September 2014

Off to the Sylvia Beach Hotel with Carol, a good close friend of 36, yes, 36 years.

On the way, we stopped in Pacific City for lunch at the Grateful Bread Bakery. We drove around for awhile not seeing it, till I used my iPhone and discovered to my amazement that it led us there with a blue dot (us) on a blue line (the route).

I love modern technology!

I love modern technology!

at the Grateful Bread Bakery

at the Grateful Bread Bakery

Grateful Bread

Grateful Bread

adorable cottage across the street

adorable cottage across the street

gb

knead

the view

the view

We both had "dory caught" tuna melts.

We both had “dory caught” tuna melts. Delicious.

Pacific City is renowned for their dory fishing fleet, and all the fish on the menu was proudly described as “dory caught”.

The women’s restroom had inspirational walls:

wall

shoes

hat

hat

If I lived in Pacific City, I think this would be my place, although I suppose it is crowded with tourists (like us) during the summer.

We stopped for one viewpoint further on during our three plus hour drive. Our mission was straightforward, to get to the Sylvia Beach Hotel as soon as we could. However, I had noticed this particular view last time and this time I was prepared to ask Carol to stop.

The tide was very low; on our way back the wee island was surrounded with water.

The tide was very low; on our way back the wee island was surrounded with water.

low, low tide

low, low tide, south of Wheeler, Oregon

Then, onward, southward along the spectacular Oregon Coast until:

My favourite place

My favourite place

This is the hotel where every room is decorated for a different author.

Our room for the night was the Alice Walker room. We had figured out that we could bring a comfy tri-fold mattress for the second sleeper, which opened up a whole new world of rooms. (Previously, we’d stayed in the expensive large rooms (Colette, Mark Twain, Agatha Christie), or the EB White Room with twin beds (the only one so outfitted, now the John Steinbeck room, rarely available as is perfect for friends), or the smaller rooms with trundle beds (Oscar Wilde, Dr Seuss!).

Alice Walker room...mural

Alice Walker room…mural

The Color Purple, of course.

The Color Purple, of course.

alice

The room had a wonderful scent. As soon as I started reading the room journals and found mentions of it, I realized that the scent was from baskets…the nice natural fragrance of baskets.

alice

alice

alice

I was thrilled to find many room journals to read; sometimes the old journals are missing. There were a couple of years not there, but as you can see, I had lots of reading material, some going back to 1987 when the hotel first opened:

The room journals are my favourite part of a trip to SBH.

The room journals are my favourite part of a trip to SBH.

I sat myself down in a wicker chair by the window and began to read, and kept reading until sunset. This was my view:

view

Ok, this is what it really looks like. I tuned out the cars.

cars

Carol settled down across the room to read:

carol

the perfect companion

All we lacked was the hotel cat. Carol loves cats but is mildly allergic, so we did not invite Shelly in.

I immersed myself in the journals till dinnertime. I intend to share more later, on different themes; here are entries specifically about the Alice Walker room.

journal entry

name

walker

goody

goody2

Goody Cable is the visionary who created the Sylvia Beach with the help of close friends.

Some people questioned whether or not the mural should show an African scene or instead a scene in the Georgia where Alice lived and wrote her books. This journal entry solved the question, I think:

walker

mural

I loved this affirmation of our own beauty:

love

 

Someone all the way from Belgium had her mind on the Agatha Christie room that is just a few doors down:

agatha

agatha2

The entry below makes reference to the Two Truths and a Lie game that we are “forced” to play during dinner at the Tables of Content restaurant in the hotel.

alice

After while Carol went up to the third floor library till dinner time. From my chair, I looked up now and again at the changing view.

sunset

view

sunset

people

After sunset, we walked right across the street to April’s at Nye Beach restaurant.

right across the narrow street

April’s: right across the narrow street

Carol had oh so delicious trout.

Carol had oh so delicious trout.

Sadly, I was feeling a bit poorly so I had a simpler dinner.

The balsamic vinegar on the bruschetta might, I thought, soothe my digestion.

The balsamic vinegar on the bruschetta might, I thought, soothe my digestion.

After dinner, I got right back to reading journals in Alice’s room, while Carol went up to the library again.

karen

I was pleased to see a reference to my favourite author, Iris Murdoch, who has become obscure now.

Many journal entries speak of lost love. I will gather more of them together later on.

walker

more

I thought this entry was especially lovely:

kitchen

I hope these two are married now:

marriage

A bit after ten PM, Carol thoughtfully brought me a cup of mulled wine from the library, so that I would not have to climb two flights of stairs to get there. A tradition of the SBH is hot mulled wine provided in the coffee room off of the library (and all day there is hot water, assorted tea bags and coffee). I read the journals till past midnight.

view from the bed

view from the bed

I wish for reading lamps like these at the head of my bed at home.

I wish for reading lamps like these at the head of my bed at home.

Next: The Virginia Woolf room and another day of journal reading.

 

 

 

 

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Friday morning I was up by eight.  Even more impressively, Carol had gone up to the Sylvia Beach Hotel library to read at about six AM.  I stayed in the Colette room for awhile and finished the most recent room journal and, yes, left my own entry (which I had neglected to do in the Dickinson room).  It was, of course, about my passion for the room journals.

Here is one entry not by a honeymooner:

page one

page two

“And have you changed your life?”

I then went up to the library to join Carol.  Destiny (my long distance SBH sister-journal-addict) had messaged me (I did still check Facebook messages on my quiet cell phone!) to ask if I had found any library journals.  I had not, so looked harder.  In the northeast corner, where someone had usually been sitting absorbed in a book, I finally found a stack tucked under a table and brought them over to my chair.

more journals!  But my time was almost up!

more journals! But my time was almost up!

Some of the “retired room” journals (rooms which had been switched to a new author) had been repurposed as library journals, so while I thought I had read the year of new entries since my last visit to the library, I suddenly found that the whole beginning of the book was new to me and was from the Meridel LeSeur room, one I had never stayed in and whose journals I had probably not read since my first stay in 1991.  Pat Henderson wrote movingly about helping to retire the room.

a room fades away

a room fades away

Praise for the Sylvia Beach Hotel:

"one day spent like this can make up for weeks of hard times"

“one day spent like this can make up for weeks of hard times”

on motherhood

"the silence inside of me"

“the silence inside of me”

words from Pat

words from Pat

Just following Pat’s entry, someone writes to him who has, like me, seen his many entries through the years!  I love this kind of communication between guests and if only I had time to read all the journals, I know I could find more.  (Woe betide anyone who criticizes the hotel for not being modern; that person will always be advised in writing to go to a motel chain, but no doubt they never return to see the advice.

letter to Pat

letter to Pat

letter to Pat

A guest writes about my favourite spot in the fourth floor library attic (mentioning the fainting couch which has been replaced by a chair):

"the thumping, whistling chimney pipes"

“the thumping, whistling chimney pipes”

As a chronic hypochondriac (I hope, or I am done for!), I can relate to this entry:

home away from home

home away from home

I found another deeply moving, very personal story:

the ocean works wonders on the broken-hearted

the ocean works wonders on the broken-hearted

Below is a lovely description of walking the beach, something I would surely do if I did not live at the beach (Long Beach).  One huge advantage that Nye Beach has over the Long Beach Peninsula is that vehicles are not allowed to drive on the beach.  What an improvement that is, even when it comes to just looking at the beach from the hotel.

Nye Beach

Nye Beach

I found an entry by Wild Rose.  I think I posted something by her in my room journals blog entry of 2012.  She is someone else I would like to know.

on being an introvert

on being an introvert

I hope this one is true:

Captain's Log

Captain’s Log

And then….I was out of time as both Carol and I were hungry for our breakfast, after which we would check out.  What to do about the unread Meridel Le Seur room entries that I could not bear to leave behind!  I quickly photographed the unread entries in order to take them with me to read later!

The hotel used to have more obscure writers:  LeSeur, Sigrid Undset, Lincoln Steffens.  Of them, only Lincoln Steffens remains, and I have heard he is a particular favourite of Goody’s.

I had not read any Meridel LeSeur but her stories of “women, working people, the poor, the disenfranchised and the dispossessed” sound well worth seeking out.  Here are my favourite entries from the last of her room journals; I wish I could find and read the rest of them.

in the LeSeur room journal

in the LeSeur room journal

a birthday present

a birthday present

Meridel became the Shakespeare room.

Meridel became the Shakespeare room.

all ages welcome to write

all ages welcome to write

With no more time, I leave upon a note of mystery.   Who is putting post it notes in the journals, and why?

post its?

post its? with backdrop of the library fireplace

I did not have time to try to figure out why certain entries were marked, and I doubt the post its will last till my next visit.  What do you think, Destiny?  Was it you?

We had our lovely breakfast and departed and we did manage to take our walk on the bayfront before leaving Newport.

goodbye, SBH

goodbye, SBH

Next time, I'll stay in the Jules Verne room for a night, hear the rushing water, and perhaps sit on the deck.

Next time, I’ll stay in the Jules Verne room for a night, hear the rushing water, and perhaps sit on the deck.

My next visit to the SBH will be, I hope, an autumnal one, because I have fewer gardening worries in the time after the tourist season and before Bulb Planting Hell.   Work put off then is work deferred, not work lost, whereas in the spring it costs me at least three hundred dollars in lost income to take three days off.

Carol and I are planning another trip for late September 2014 (should I live so long) and I wonder if I just might go back somehow in autumn of 2013.  It is easy to settle back into my life and let years go by between visits, but life is not going to allow more than twenty more years of climbing those stairs so I do need to go more often.  Who wants to go with me?  I have journals to find and read:  the Gertrude Stein and Lincoln Steffens rooms are unmined treasures.

Tomorrow:  back to photos and words about gardening.

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