Authors, lunch and antiques=heaven

Authors Valerie Ihsan, Janet Fisher and A Lynn Ash pose among the antiques

An authors’ lunch in an antique store? How strange, but it happened last week at Indulge Antiques in the Gateway Mall in Springfield, Oregon, and it was good. Amid the elegantly set tables, I found authors and book lovers gathered around a long table where books were spread from end to the other, along with book-related cards and fancy pens. Introductions were made, and we settled in.

The paper menu seemed to list every possible concoction—I went with the sweet turkey wrap—and the dessert tray held more than a dozen cakes and tortes while the waiter described other delicacies that didn’t fit on the tray. Yes, we ate well amid the antique dressers, baskets and Halloween decor.

But it wasn’t all about food. Amanda Bird, proprietor of The Book Nest bookstore, has been hosting lunches with authors for the past two years. The program was on hiatus for a few months while Indulge moved to its new location in the mall, but now she plans for monthly gatherings. The next one is Nov. 17.

It’s casual. You order whatever you want and pay for your own lunch. You sit at the table with the featured authors, eat, chat, ask questions, and learn about their books. You can also buy the books, of course.

This month’s guests were Janet Fisher, who in her books A Place of Her Own and The Shifting Winds writes about Oregon history through the lens of her ancestors who came via the Oregon trail; A. Lynn Ash, whose books The Route from Cultus Lake: A woman’s Path to a Solo Camping Lifestyle, and Vagabonda, tell the stories of her adventures camping alone all over the U.S., and Valerie Ihsan, who wrote about her experiences as a young, pregnant widow in Smell the Blue Sky and has since written a novel titled The Scent of Apple Tea. Wonderful women all, and the casual setting made it possible to not just admire but to become friends.

I love antique stores. I love to wander among the old things and imagine the lives of the people who owned them. In some cases, I don’t have to imagine because I’m old enough to have owned things that are now deemed antiques or collectables. I also love books and authors and lunch.

I may not be able to attend these lunches often. It’s nearly 200 miles round trip, and it was raining so hard on the way there that I felt like I was driving through a river. But I got to try out the new stretch of Highway 20—truly beautiful—and escaped everyday life into a wonderland for writers.

If you are interested in attending an authors’ lunch, follow the Book Nest Facebook page and RSVP if you’re going. The restaurant portion of the Indulge Antiques is open to everyone, but you’ll need a reservation. Visit their web page for details.

I want to figure out how we can do this in Newport. Ideas? Volunteers?

I’m moving back to where I started

img_20161017_094617032_hdr1Got your attention, didn’t I? Especially those church people who just panicked for fear I won’t be there to play the piano. No worries. I’m just moving down the hall.

You see, when my late husband’s Alzheimer’s got bad, I couldn’t sleep with him anymore. My insomnia and his hallucinations were a bad match. So, in November 2007, after nine years sharing the master bedroom, I moved into the guest room. I moved my furniture in there, bought new linens, and decorated the room in bright oranges, reds and yellows, anchored in brown. Warm colors. My colors. I hung my crucifix over the bed, something I had not done before because Fred was not Catholic. I filled the closet and drawers with my stuff. After Fred moved to the nursing home, I stayed in the guest room and filled his closet with suitcases, memories and empty hangers. It was cold in there, farthest from the pellet stove. Some of his shoes and ties had mildewed. I threw them away.

After Fred died, I hung his photo  from the funeral above his nightstand. I set up a little shrine with my Lady of Fatima statue, a prayer book, a candle and our matching wedding rings.

I only entered that room to pack for trips and to get to the bathtub in the master bathroom. I tried sleeping there a couple times, but the memories made me weep. That was OUR bed, OUR room. Fred slept beside me with our old dog Sadie at the foot of the bed. I couldn’t do it.

My bedroom, the former guest room, was a busy place. I not only slept and dressed there–wary of the neighbors who might see me through the street-facing window–but watched TV, paid bills, read, wrote, sewed and played music. Something loud was always on–TV, radio, cell phone with its games, music, texts and occasional calls. It simply got too loud in there. I couldn’t sleep.

My bed, purchased cheap, had sunk down on the side where I slept. I flipped it over and wore another trough into the other side. With my restless legs, I rubbed holes in all my fitted sheets, so I turned them upside down, too. Eventually I bought another set.

Light was a problem in the guest room. The street lamp pushed through the blinds and lace curtains. The moon, when it was full, shone in like a spotlight. Adding to the light show were the red numbers on my clock radio and the yellow and green lights on the Wi-Fi box.

In contrast, the master bedroom started calling out to me as a quiet oasis in cool whites and pastels. No electronics. No phone. Firm queen-sized bed. Because it was at the back of the house, no lights intruded, just the darkness of the woods.

Over the nine years that have passed since I moved out of the guest room, I have offered the master bedroom and bathroom to my dad who always declined, to guests who chose hotels, and to other guests who never come. I have considered renting out the room, but I want my bathtub and my privacy. I have never liked to share. I’m also afraid of who I’d get.

Now I think the room was waiting for me to come back. The memories are still there, but they are often sweet. I remember snuggling in that bed after making love. I remember times when Fred and I shut ourselves in there away from guests, feeling safe and happy together.

It’s time. No one else is taking that room, so I’m taking it back, making it my room, moving as few of my things as possible. I want to keep the volume down. No more red numbers screaming the time. No more reaching to turn on NPR news in the middle of the night or checking my phone the second I wake up. Just sleep. If I can’t sleep, I’ll take a bubble bath or read a book.

I’m still transferring stuff. The stacked-up boxes in the picture all hold quilt fabric, which I plan to use now that my sewing machine has been relocated to the former guest room.  Annie discovered my new hangout last night. Frightened by thunder and lightning, she decided she had to sleep with me. It was nice. New dog, new start.


Rocking the Book Table in Newport

Did you write all this? Which book is your newest? What are you working on now? Behind the book table again at yesterday’s  Celebration of Women in Newport, I felt like the old veteran as I watched people pick up my books, study the covers, and put them back dofbbc5-dscn2584wn—or sometimes even buy them. I have been doing this since Stories Grandma Never Told came out in 1998.

I have sat at book tables all over Oregon and California, including many stints at the annual Dia de Portugal in San Jose, bookstore signings, book fairs in the rain in Lincoln City, and street fairs in Stockton where the only person who bought a book was the fellow author sitting next to me. All too often, sales are sparse, the only purchasers being the other authors.  The truth is, if the event is not specifically about books or about the subject of your books, most of the people attending are not looking to buy books. They’re going to spend their money on food, carnival rides, and souvenirs. The writers are just a roadblock on the way to the fun.

Because I have published three books about Portuguese Americans, my books sold like linguica sandwiches—hundreds—at the Portuguese festival. At the Lincoln County Fair, not so much. Yesterday? Two.

So why go? Exposure. People see you and your book, maybe they’ll take a flyer or postcard, and maybe later they’ll think, hey, I should buy that book by what’s her name. Maybe you get a little free publicity in the newspaper. Plus it’s fun to hang out with other authors, people who understand what you do and can exchange information on how to do it.

Yesterday, I sat between Lee Lynch, author of more than a dozen novels and longtime booktable partner, and Lori Tobias, whose first book, Wander, just came out. Lee and I traded war stories while Lori gathered information and advice and vented about how this was not as much fun as she expected. No, but it could have been worse. We were warm, dry, and the wind wasn’t blowing. At the fair in Medford where the photo above was taken, it was about 35 degrees inside and snowing outside. Nobody came.

You learn things over the years. Don’t bring every copy of every book. You only need a few. Have something for people to take: cards, bookmarks, candy, or trinkets related to your topic. Get a cart or a strong person to help you carry the books because they are heavy. Get there early so you don’t get the table least likely to be seen. Bring sunscreen and a hat if it’s outside. Don’t hog your space. Bring dollar bills and coins for change. Keep your book money separate from your personal money. Acknowledge every person who approaches with a greeting and a smile. Resist the urge to read or stare at your cell phone, even if nothing seems to be happening. Wear comfortable clothes; nobody cares what you’re wearing. Etc.

Lori kept saying she’d rather be writing. I was content at the table. It was Sunday afternoon. I had played three Masses at Sacred Heart Saturday night and Sunday morning, so I was too tired to do anything useful anyway. I was among friends.  There was music, wine and chocolate. You learn to ride the writer waves of private time and public time.

Besides, I had new editions of two of my books on their virgin outing. Stories Grandma Never Told, that book about Portuguese women that launched my book table career, has been updated, with a new cover and, for the first time, an e-book version. Azorean Dreams, my Portuguese American romance novel, also has a new look. What’s next? Another novel, a memoir, and perhaps a poetry book. Got to keep adding new merchandise to the table. Also, I’m going to move into the 21st century and start taking credit cards at in-person events for those customers who wind up emptying their purses and pockets to come up with enough nickels and wrinkled dollar bills for a book because they don’t carry cash.

Next time you see somebody sitting at a table with books, walk up and say hello. We’ll be glad for the company and delirious if you buy a book.

Lava Beds: Rocks, Rocks, and More Rocks

img_20160908_120106597_hdrOnce upon a time in another life, I married a geologist. On our honeymoon, we traveled north from San Jose, California to Calgary, Alberta in a white VW bus, camping and exploring along the way. Being a geologist, my first husband liked rocks. I like rocks, too, but not to the point of obsession. Somewhere near the California-Oregon border, I proclaimed that I did not want to hear another word about one more damned rock. I think it may have have happened at the Lava Beds National Monument, my last stop on my vacation last month. I know there was a cave; it was cold inside. I know there was black lava rock. I know we probably didn’t have a flashlight. But that was another life. Husband number two preferred to tour wineries.

img_20160908_130459223If I had had any idea how long it would take to get from Klamath Falls to the Lava Beds National Monument, perhaps I would have skipped this stop, but once I had made the turn off I-97 onto Route 161, immediately south of the Oregon-California border, I was sure I’d be seeing lava any minute. The road ran along the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge. Miles and miles of open grassland gave way to more miles of farmland and Tule Lake. Lovely, but I was starting to get hungry. No worries. I’d take care of that when I got to the Lava Beds visitor center any minute. Maybe a hot dog and onion rings, something totally off the diet . . . A beer maybe?

Two hours later, I found the park and the lava. I paid my admission feet to a ranger in a booth. She handed me a map and told me the visitor’s center was quite a few miles up the road. Seriously?

The road curved upward. Every half mile or so, parking areas and paths led to trails through the lava, up mounds of the black stuff and down into caves. I parked, I hiked, I climbed, I took pictures, I sweat. It was cooler in the caves, but my flashlight fizzled out.

For the most part, I was alone. Tourist season past, I ran into one young Asian woman also traveling by herself and an older couple from California, who took turns on the trails while one of them stayed in the car with their dog.I could imagine this place crawling with kids in the summer.

Starving, I ate my last apimg_20160908_115633988ple from home and my last granola bar, washing them down with water. Where the heck was the visitor’s center? Finally, finally, I came to it. No restaurant, no snack bar, just bags of trail mix in the gift shop area, where you could rent or buy flashlights and helmets for the caves, along with books, hats and T-shirts. Another room offered a video telling the story of the caves. I collapsed on the couch there to watch stories of flowing lava, the Modoc Indian war, and the adventures to be had in the park.

As soon as I could pick myself up again, I asked the ranger at the desk if there was a quicker way to get back on the road to I-5 south. “What kind of car do you have?” she asked. She explained that part of the alternate route is not paved and gets pretty gnarly. It would take two hours either way. Sigh. I took the road more traveled.

One of the main attractions of the Lava Beds National Monument is the caves that lie along a loop road beyond the visitors’ center. Hard hats, flashlights and jackets are recommended. I would add that good knees are a plus. Also a love of small dark places, which I lack. I skipped most of the caves, needing to move on. But one could spend several days there, hiking and spelunking in this fascinating area. The trails and steps down into the caves are well-signed and well-maintained. Bring food, and expect to spend all day. It’s not a quick jaunt off the freeway.

img_20160908_135305247There’s a great deal of human and geological history here. Indians hid in these caves during their battles with the settlers who insisted on taking their land. Not too far away, 18,000 Japanese Americans were housed at the Tule Lake Internment Camp during World War II. Some of the buildings are still there. What a stark, remote place it is. How horrible to take people’s lives away like that. I said a prayer that we Americans never be that stupid again.

Hours later, I took I-97 into Weed, looking forward to food and relaxation and ran right into cars stopped for miles due to road work. Welcome to civilization. Following orange detour signs, I wound up on I-5 going the wrong way. No sense of direction. Eventually, I took a room at the spendy Best Western Plus Treehouse Motel in Mt. Shasta and treated myself to dinner at the Black Bear Diner next door. From here it was a straight shot to Dad’s house.

To my ex, were he ever to read this, I’d say: I’m sorry. Rocks are pretty fun. But it was our honeymoon!

Story and photos copyright 2016 Sue Fagalde Lick



Klamath Falls not like Dad remembers it

dscn4052Many years ago, my parents visited Klamath Falls, Oregon. Dad wanted to check out the place where his mother, Clara, started her teaching career around 1912. He had heard stories of the one-room schoolhouse, of Native Americans coming to the door, of the farm family she lived with, of students who were bigger than she was and nearly as old. My father asked around and was given directions to the school. He and Mom visited the vacant schoolhouse and talked to a neighbor who shared lots of information about it. Dad tells this like it was last week, but it may have been 50 years ago. Klamath Falls has changed a bit.

I rolled into Klamath Falls around 2 p.m. after my explorations along Highway 58, detailed in Monday’s post. The rain had stopped, and the sun was out. I had traveled the last few miles along Upper Klamath Lake and looked forward to communing with nature in a smallish town. Uh, no. With more than 20,000 residents, it’s plenty big. Taking the downtown exit, I found myself in the midst of brick buildings, traffic and one-way streets. The 12-block Main Street gave way to newer buildings and an area that looked just like every other strip-mall-laden city of any size in the west. McDonald’s? Check. Dollar Tree? Check. Staples? Yep. Bi-Mart, Sizzler, Elmer’s, Dairy Queen? All there. Thick traffic with cars turning and darting in front of each other? Check. Holiday Inn Express up ahead. I checked in.

dscn4061On my two days in Klamath Falls, originally named Linkville when it was founded in 1967, I felt a duty to report to my dad what I saw. I toured the old downtown on foot, taking pictures. Except for the modern courthouse and city hall, most of the buildings were old, dates from the late 1800s and early 1900s etched in the brick and stucco above establishments that now housed thrift shops, lawyer’s offices, art galleries, etc. Quite a few buildings were vacant. The shops were trendy, but I saw plenty of pickups and local men in cowboy hats. Or, as the booklet from the visitor and convention bureau put it: “While there’s a flair for the Western in Klamath Falls, a whole new urban vibe is visibly underfoot.”

I guess I’m an urban vibe-er because one of my favorite stops was the coffee shop, A Leap of Taste, where I stopped to listen to music by a band of three guys and a woman about my age playing folk music. I drank designer tea and ate the best gluten-free oatmeal-raspberry pastry I ever tasted.  Around me, tattooed teens stared at their tablets and laptops, ignoring the musicians, and a young couple on the sofa bounced their baby to the beat.

img_20160907_161757732_hdrOther highlights: the Klamath County Museum—not your mother’s boring lineup of black and white photos but a fascinating collection of old appliances, cars, gas pumps, clothing, dioramas depicting the Indian wars and the Japanese internment at nearby Tulelake, and more, more, more. One wall showed pictures of the area’s old schools, including the one where Grandma Clara taught.

Down the road, I also stopped at the Favel Museum of Western Art and Native American Artifacts. Also wonderful. One of the featured artists, Michael Gibbons, is a friend who goes to my church. Small world.

Beyond that, I discovered Lake Ewauna and a bird sanctuary with herons, egrets, gulls and pelicans. Ah, nature. A large park there provides places to sit, sprawl, and relax. Just watch for the bird doody.

img_20160907_160903749_hdrI toured the Linkville Pioneer Cemetery. I love walking among old graves, imagining the lives of the people buried there. This cemetery is the resting place for lots of soldiers who fought in past wars. I had a heck of time finding the cemetery. I did the downtown loop five times, constantly fighting one-way streets that went the wrong way, before I rechecked the map and learned I was going the wrong way. I swear if I were Lewis and Clark, I would have ended up in Portugal.

In the new section of town, I skipped the chain stores and visited Basin Book Trader, a massive collection of used books for which locals trade their own used books. I scored three titles I would never have been able to afford or probably even find anywhere else.

Another delightful find: Nibbley’s Café. Bright and sunny, waitresses friendly, food delicious and served in huge portions. Many of the diners were seriously overweight. No wonder. Good thing I only had time to eat there once.

I don’t do the stuff the tourist guides boast about. I didn’t need to visit the Kla-Mo-Ya casino or one of the four golf courses in the area. I had already been to Crater Lake. I was definitely not zip-lining. But it’s all there for folks who like it. Drinking tea and listening to music is more my speed. But hey, in October, they have the Klamath Basin Potato Festival. I might be interested in that.

Soon my two days were up, and it was time to think seriously about heading south toward San Jose. Highway 58 turns into I-97 at Klamath Falls. Driving south, that would take me to Weed, California, where I could jump onto I-5 and take my usual route to Dad’s house, where I would tell him what I had seen in Klamath Falls. He would continue to see it the way he remembers it from many years ago.

Before San Jose, I had one more stop: Lava Beds National Monument, which I’ll talk about next time.

Ever been to Klamath Falls? Tell us about it.


Highway 58 detour worth every mile

img_20160906_101219591For 20 years, I’ve been driving back and forth from my home on the Oregon coast to San Jose, California, where my family lives. I usually take I-5, a straight shot inland, or, if there’s snow in the mountains, I take Highway 101 along the coast. See the same things, stop at the same places, no time for side trips, tempting as they are. It takes me about 13 hours.

This time was different. I scheduled in extra time for a vacation. Just outside Eugene, I left I-5 and headed southeast on Oregon Highway 58. I wanted to see some of the sights I’d seen in the winter on the train and take a little time for myself.  I wanted to see waterfalls and lakes. I wanted to hike in the high country. I wanted to sit by a river and write poetry. I wanted to see the tiny towns along the way and end up in Klamath Falls where my grandmother started her teaching career a little over a hundred years ago. So I did.

Everything published about Highway 58 emphasizes that it leads to Crater Lake, and yes, you can get there that way, but I had already seen Crater Lake several times. I was seeking new territory. Over the next few posts, I plan to share some of that country with you. Did it bother me to be a woman traveling alone? Maybe it should have, but no. I enjoyed my freedom.

Things didn’t start off great as I left home on Labor Day. It killed me to leave Annie, who is not a good traveler. Assuring her she’d have a great time with her dog sitter, “Auntie Jo,” did not keep her from following me around with her tail hanging low. Then I discovered the restaurant where I had my heart set on eating lunch–Eats & Treats in Philomath, so good–is not open on Mondays. So I forged on, taking a different route to Eugene, only to get miserably lost. Thank God for GPS. I ended up eating lunch at the kind of diner where they vacuum around your feet while the waitress hollers, “Whatcha gonna have?” The chicken tortilla soup with two chunks of chicken and four tortilla squares floating on top set my stomach on fire.

dscn4040But then I got out of the city and encountered the first of two covered bridges on this route. The Lowell Covered Bridge is located at the Dexter Reservoir. Ah! Water, trees, blue sky. Also a restroom. I took pictures of the bridge and sank onto a bench to stare at the lake. Now we were on vacation.

Down the road, I came to the Office Bridge. It has openings for both cars and pedestrians. Walk or drive through into a big park with covered picnic areas and hiking trails. I could have sat there and stared at the Willamette River flowing below forever. Note that the directions I got online were wrong. I kept looking for West Road. I think it was a typo. Simply take the Westfir exit off 58 and follow the signs for three miles. There’s a store and a resort there for those who want to stay a while.

img_20160905_154516584Having gotten a late start and gotten lost a couple times, I hadn’t really gotten far from Eugene, but that wasn’t the point. I spent the night in Oakridge, population 3,200. I toured the “downtown business district.” It was pretty quiet on the holiday. Everything was coated in dust from months of no rain. Relaxing at the Best Western (yes, they have one), I noticed the phone book: six yellow pages for business, 32 pages total. The phone book is published by the local newspaper, the Dead Mountain Echo, not a bad local weekly. Why would anybody stay here, I thought. But I learned it’s a hub for mountain bikers, of which there were plenty, and folks also make beer there. They even have a Keg and Cask festival in August. Being only two hours from Eugene if you don’t mess around, Oakridge has a small-town feel with access to big-city amenities.

At dinnertime, I was surprised to find a Mazatlan Mexican restaurant in town and even more surprised that the food was fabulous. Shame on me for stereotyping small towns.

In the morning, surprise! It was raining. What? I had all these hiking plans and this list of stops: hot spring, waterfalls, trails, lakes. Rain? The guy at the gas station was deliriously happy to see water coming out of the sky and hoped for lots more. Sure, but today? I get plenty of rain at home. Never mind, we Oregonians carry on.

Somehow I missed the McCreadie Hot Springs–darned online directions again–but I found the biggest waterfall. Cascading 286 feet, Salt Creek Falls is the second highest waterfall in Oregon, Multnomah being the highest. It was worth the wet walk. Oh my gosh. The trail took me along the creek until it suddenly fell off a ledge and there were the falls, so big, so white, falling deep into a canyon below. My camera can’t portray the way it made me feel. Deep breath.

From the waterfall, I started off on one of the many trails, but it was just too wet, and I feared I would slip and fall into the creek. Nobody knew where I was. Bad idea. Back on the road. Waldo Lake, Diamond Peak, the Willamette Pass Ski Resort, Crescent Lake, Odell Lake, the turnoff to Crater Lake, and finally Klamath Falls, where I pigged out on a Reuben sandwich at Elmer’s and checked into the Holiday Inn Express. Back in civilization again. But that’s another story. If you’re in the mood to wander, check out Highway 58. There are lots of trains, more waterfalls to see, campgrounds and picnic areas, and places to ski. (Bring chains in the winter.The Willamette Pass is over 5,000 feet.)

BTW, I hear truckers take it south to California because it’s faster than I-5. Not the way I did it.







I’m eleven bears from my dad’s house

black-bear-2We call it “The Bear.” Stop and let your imagination wander for a minute. No, it’s a restaurant. The Black Bear Diner. Twenty years ago, it was started in 1999 in Mt. Shasta by Bruce “Sugar Bear” Dean and Bob “Papa Bear” Manley. Now the list of Black Bear diners fills a whole page—64 locations in eight states. We could measure trips in Black Bears. Eleven bears from my house on the Oregon coast to Dad’s house in San Jose, California.

What do they serve? Nuts and berries? Well, that, too. I’d rather eat one of their giant bear claw pastries. They’re as big as a baseball mitt but a lot tastier. They have the usual diner food: omelets, biscuits and gravy, Black Bear Benedicts, Mama Bear and Papa Bear burgers, Bigfoot chicken fried steak, etc. The kids’ menu is for Cubs. Naturally. There are even bear footprints on the plates and pictures of bears on the coffee mugs.

The Black Bear diners play on the idea that bears are cute and cuddly while those of us who live in bear country know bears are enormous animals with extremely long claws that they’re not afraid to use. Their long fur is probably not nearly as soft or as clean as it looks from afar.

Giant wooden bears carved by chainsaw artist Ray Schultz greet customers at the door of the Black Bear restaurants. Mom, Dad, baby bear. Sometimes there’s one on all fours that children (and childish adults like me) can sit on.

Signs continue the bear theme: Caution: Mama bear on duty. Bear with us—Please wait to be seated. Welcome to Camp Grin and Bear It. The menus are printed inside old-fashioned newspaper pages with actual stories from a long-ago year—I got 1937 last week. You can keep the menus if you want.

Bears eat big. Even the so-called smaller orders are huge. My meat loaf at the original Black Bear diner in Mt. Shasta last week would have lasted me three days at home. And my Reuben sandwich down the road in Willows was so big I needed a couple of those bears to help me eat it. It’s all good. Not spectacular but dependable, down-home comfort food served by friendly people in Black Bear tee shirts and suspenders who might just call you Sweetie or Honey.

The Bear is always crowded. Expect to wait in line for the little bear’s room while singing along to oldies playing over the speakers. In Willows, I found myself belting out “Aquarius” with the Fifth Dimension, then looked around and realized all the others in line were too young to remember that song and were probably thinking I was a little crazy. Too bad. Mama Bear can sing whatever she wants.

Don’t forget to hit the gift shop for a bear mug, T-shirt, water bottle or even a wooden bear to keep you company until next time.

No, the Bears didn’t pay me to write this, but I couldn’t resist.