Thursday, December 14, 2006

Carnegie Library - Oakland

One of the books I keep meaning to take out of the library, but never get around to actually doing, is Meet You in Hell, the story of the Carnegie/Frick rivalry that ends when Frick responds to Carnegie's dying request for a meeting to iron things out with the infamous line "Tell him that I'll meet him in hell." Both men are Pittsburgh legends and there are plenty of buildings, parks, foundations, and companies named for them, but Andrew Carnegie's name is probably most venerated for the libraries he left. I swear this city has more libraries than coffeeshops. It seems like there is one on every corner. I haven't read much about Carnegie, but what I have read indicates he was quite a ruthless person who spent his last years trying to make good from bad. The Carnegie Library was the first library to have storytime (1899) and the first to have an organized children's department (also 1899). It also had the first ever public library Science and Technology Department (1902). Perhaps Carnegie was a hellion, but his gift of literacy may trump the bad.

Last week I finally spent a day in the main library, in Oakland. There is wireless Internet access (print out the directions for proxy settings here, or ask a librarian for a printout), but if you have a library card, you can use the library's computers for Internet (filtered) access. If you have library card from any PA library you can get a Carnegie card for free.

You need a map to really get around, but it isn't hard. The shelves are crowded and individual rooms are rather chilly, but there are plenty of places, both old and new, to sit and browse books. I would have taken a dozen books out, but I know I need to read the thousands I own at home before borrowing. So, I just sat and read chapters here and there, and left empty-handed.

History Bead Trading Company - Oakland

While traipsing through Oakland last week, I stopped very briefly at History Bead Trading Company (site is "under construction" but I hope something appears soon). I don't bead, but I love to look at all the styles and I love how the beads are arranged in shops. Like looking at a faceted rainbow. I was only in there a moment but I did purchase a handful of cheap plastic beads from the vending machine in the photo.

The handful costs 25¢ and the sign on the machine says "All Proceeds Benifit [sic] Alternative Directions a Non-Profit That Helps Battered Women." I didn't find a website for Alternative Directions, but I didn't expect to because these places usually try to keep a low profile so they don't attract the very evil they work to eliminate, but I think it is on the up and up.

There are some completed earrings and necklaces in the shop, as well as loose beads and such. I wish they had clip-on earrings because I haven't had pierced ears in many years, but I do like to wear earrings on special occasions.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Eat Unique - Oakland

Absolutely fantastic lunch at Eat Unique (305 S Craig St, 412.683.9993)... baked brie with caramelize pears, walnuts and spring greens on a warm crusty baguette. A grilled cheese for the gourmet!

And with this post, I discovered I can email posts to this blog. They don't get published right away, but will be sitting as drafts awaiting details and links. A sort of sticky note I can send electronically while away from home. Wonderful!

Made By Hand - Oakland

Made By Hand (303 S. Craig Street, 412.681.8346), another lovely shop with beautiful gift ideas, also doesn't have a website. Such a shame! This shop is a miniature version of one of my favorite ever gift galleries, The Silver Ribbon, in Pembroke, Massachusetts. Both shops carry only US made handcrafted items. I love to buy items from other countries, but I know it is very hard for shop owners to ascertain the products are made by people who are fairly treated, so it is best to leave that kind of selling to professionals like Ten Thousand Villages.

I didn't buy anything at Made By Hand, but there was a moose ornament I would love to go back and get when I am employed. I am beginning to think the best way to shop is without any money because one doesn't make impulse purchases. Perhaps even when I am employed, I will leave my card at home before venturing out on a local shopping trip.

Watermelon Blues - Oakland

It's surprising that Watermelon Blues (311 S. Craig Street, 412.681.8451) doesn't have a website. This small shop, tucked into the corner of a nice building that houses other shops and eateries, is crowded with all sorts of cards, gift items, craft supplies and usual food treats. It would be wonderful to see a page with recently added items, gift ideas, and perhaps even happenings in Oakland.

Anyway, there is a small selection of rubberstamps, and they are wonderfully quirky and arty. I am so tired of the cutesy look. I was thrilled to find a rubberstamp to use on the back of my Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) and the company that makes the stamp, Catslife Press, also has a great line of journey stamps that I want, as soon as I am employed again....please let it be soon.