There are a lot of new adventures I'm having in Portland, but there's one place I always go. Loyal like a dog, tradition is very important to me. I like to see how the elbow of a street changes, how the unique stores shift and change.
Across from Powell's, ( a bookstore the size of a small continent), on a block the shape of an isosceles triangle, a tiny street houses a few very particular businesses. Portland, a city of nooks and crannies. Where resides the best butter.
Half & Half and Reading Frenzy are two complementary places on NE Oak street. The former a kitchy coffee shop, the latter a quirky book and magazine store. Not just any books. Local illustrators, political voices, DIY 'zines, hand printed lead type cards, chapbooks, Japanese sticker & stationary sets, modern embroidery kits, reign supreme here. Books that you pick up because your hands are attracted to the heft and feel of the paper. 'Zines that change your perspective, expose the authors intimate processes, musings and views. Sometimes I'm lucky and find Peko Peko, a food writing 'zine printed on cold press paper with illustrations like the tiny pen and ink cuties in the middle of The New Yorker pages.
An old fashioned screen door lets you into Half & Half, a coffee corner decorated with local art and reading material from Reading Frenzy. I bought a crumb doughnut and a Stumptown decaf cappuccino. Some of my options were deviled eggs, slices of watermelon, apple fritters and homemade oreos. I read Kitchen Sink (a magazine ownership-marked with 'half & half, please please please don't steal!') and took in the warmth before heading out into the sudden summer rain everyone in the shop was talking about. Half & Half is cool and quirky. It's one of those singular Portland businesses that makes being in that exact spot purposeful. A place that makes you feel as if you've discovered it and take a visual piece of it back with you. Playful, these shops can't be found in a tourist guide, they are what Portland is made of.