May 20, 2011

A scrapbook of Multnomah

I spent today with my mother and my son in my favorite place on Earth: Multnomah Village.
I was very blessed to live in this sleepy little corner of Southwest Portland for the first eighteen years of my life. It was the perfect place to grow up, with charming neighborhoods and a beautiful, lush park that surrounds a quaint little row of shops known as "the Village."
It seems that time stands still in this village; it's like your favorite fairy tale storybook that you can return to at any age and be delighted with each time.
My son, James, had never been in the village in all his ten months of life, so when my mom asked what would I like to do with a free sunny Friday, visiting Multnomah seemed the obvious answer.
We started at O'Connor's.

This Portland landmark was started in 1934 in downtown Portland before moving to the village in 1991. It serves wonderful classics with a Cajun twist. We have traditionally gone for breakfast, but I do recall having burgers and salads on the back deck. Today I ordered Kate's special (also a favorite of a very kind waitress who remembered my name although it has been too long since I have dined there!). This dish was a mixture of tomatoes, onions, and seasoned potatoes topped with creole sauce, salsa, an egg, and then smothered in cheese. Yum.

After we had consumed the needed energy for shopping, we headed over to Annie Bloom's. This adorable book store has been around for as long as I can remember (because it was established in 1978). 
My favorite sections of any and all book stores are the travel section and the cookbooks, but the children's books section at Annie Bloom's has a special place in my heart. I love children's books, and Annie always has all the classics, along with enough new books to make you want to be five years old again so you have an excuse to ask for them for Christmas.

Somehow we escaped with only three new books for the baby guy, and we headed down to the toy shop. 

Thinker Toys is wonderful because it has great toys, but it is also a great place to play. When I was a nanny for a family of three sweet but very active children I would pile them in the van on hot days and take them to Thinker Toys. I am sure the sales clerks were thrilled when we would stay and play with the train set, dress-up clothes, and adorable little play house, only to leave hours later after buying two dollars worth of stickers or bouncy balls. Well, today I at least started to make up for taking advantage of their air conditioning and hands-on sampling approach to selling toys. We stayed and played with blocks and balls for only about a half hour, and I made much more significant purchases than stickers.
We then grabbed a picnic lunch from Grand Central Bakery, loaded up the stroller, and headed over to Gabriel Park. 

This park is to Southwest Portland what Central Park is to New York City (and I feel like I can say that because I have been to NYC). It is a peaceful oasis.

When you are there, you forget that the city is right outside. You can relax in the stillness and the beauty, and forget that just beyond the row of trees, life is still zooming at its usual pace. 

There is something for everyone in Gabriel Park: a community garden, grassy fields, wooded trails, a skate park, a dog park, tennis courts, basketball courts, multiple baseball fields, a community center, and a play ground. Our destination was the latter, as we had high hopes for James first swing experience. However, all the eating and shopping and sunshine had been far too exhausting...

...So, instead, my mom and I enjoyed our lunch. I highly recommend it if you visit Grand Central: basil egg salad sandwich on kalamata olive bread, and the molasses ginger cookie.

I miss Multnomah terribly, but sometimes I think maybe it is good I don't live there anymore (first of all, imagine the weight I would gain with all that good food!). 

When I first moved to Corvallis for college I didn't really understand home sickness. I didn't understand how you could be sick over a place. But Multnomah is more than just a place to me. It is my real-life scrap book full of memories, good and bad, fading and vivid.

It's like the song says: "Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone." So true. But thank God, Multnomah is not gone. 

The scrap book is always there for me to keep adding pages of memories.

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