Keep on Dancing!

Pink Martini played to sold out crowds two nights in a row at the zoo last weekend. How

Pink Martini

lucky we are to have this kind of talent! Music fills my summer, and dancing brings me joy. “Dansez-vous,” China Forbes of Pink Martini signs out.

Several years ago when looking to increase my exercise routine, I stumbled into a zumba class. What a life changing event for me.

Zumba is a Colombian dance fitness program created by dancer and choreographer Alberto “Beto” Perez. It involves dance and aerobic elements. Zumba’s choreography incorporates hip-hop, soca, samba, salsa, merengue, mambo, martial arts, and some Bollywood and belly dance moves.

I was hooked! Two flash mobs, and a opening act at a Timbers game added to the thrill of performing Zumba out in public.

Dancing at My Reunion

Mid summer, while at my class reunion in Freeport, IL someone I knew from my past asked me to dance. I immediately said, “Sure!” Then I had a moment of panic as I realized this old friend was a dance instructor. Oh dear. We danced the night away, and the class reunion became a pivotal point to my summer.

Le Continental

When I returned to Portland, a couple of friends asked if I was going to try out for Le Continental,

Come Join Us!

Pioneer Courthouse Square on September 30, 2012! This exciting performance brings together 150+ participants of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds – dancers and non-dancers alike – to perform a contemporary re-imaging of a traditional festive line dance! Age range 9 to 75.

Check out this Blog from one of the other amateurs that I really like:Click Here 

Holy smokes, I keep on dancing!

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It’s Time for the Blues!

Me in My Chicago Blues Hat

Ever think about how music fills our lives? Perhaps you wake to a clock radio. The drive to work is punctuated by music. We work and exercise to music, and then relax with music. Then there are those days when that ONE SONG just keeps playing over and over in your head..

But the Blues, now there’s a genre that is special.

Musician at work

Two weeks ago, I had the good fortune to be in Chicago at a conference that also had me at a hotel within walking distance of Grant Park, and The Blues Festival. South Side Chicago, and the Blues – their 29th annual festival – free to all to attend.

Have I mentioned before how much I love Portland Center Stage? My Blues journey continued with yet another outstanding performance at PCS. Act 1 of It Ain’t Nothin’ But the BLUES took the audience on a journey through the Delta Blues/The Mississippi Blues/the Catskills and beyond. Act 2 brought the stage back up north, Sweet Home Chicago, and beyond.

Vendor sells me a baseball cap (which I asked – how do I look? – to which he offered his “mirror”)

And now it’s time again for the Portland Blues Fest. Portland’s 25th Annual. The festival began in 1987 as the Rose City Blues Festival, sponsored by the Cascade Blues Association, to benefit the Burnside Community Council’s projects for the homeless. The FM community radio station KBOO has broadcast performances from the event, throughout the festival’s history. The following year, Oregon Food Share (predecessor of the Oregon Food Bank) becomes the beneficiary of the Rose City Blues Festival, making the event Oregon’s first annual blues festival to benefit the hungry. In 1991, the name was changed to the Waterfront Blues Festival.

Vet with Camo Leg Enjoys the Show

The festival benefits the Oregon Food Bank, a non-profit organization which provides food to low-income persons in Oregon and SW Washington states.

Grab a couple cans, and if you’re feeling generous, $10 to gain entry. And meet me down at the Waterfront.

www.WaterfrontBluesFest.com

The Mighty Elm Tree

Stay Informed

To stay up-to-date on all the fun things to do in the Portland Metro Area, you can either follow me up and down the hills and dales of Southwest Portland, or you can check out my blog, Portland Currency. And remember to find me on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter

Happy 4th of July!

Francene

Home for the Holidays

Spending six weeks in Southeast Asia turned out to be way easier than I anticipated. Two side trips, first to Laos, then later to South Viet Nam, bracketed the time. Back at Tim’s apartment, I had fun rearranging his life, his furniture, his artwork. It was challenging to work with the embassy-supplied North Carolina-made fake Chippendale upholstered in Dijon colored fabric. In the end I sent two chairs and the faux gold leaf lamps back to the embassy. I had great fun designing new lamps from Asian lacquered boxes and pounded brass urns that I hunted down in the Russian Market and combined with red silk shades. Tim got to keep his Portland decor in his bedroom, where I moved all the family photos. And the spare bedroom became the “Georgian Room,” where I grouped all his memorabilia from Tbilisi.  Have I enticed you to consider a visit?  Hope so.

As I dig back into mortgage files and settle into the culture shock of my rainy Portland home, I can’t help daydreaming of warm nights, 75 cent happy hours along the Mekong River and all the joy and laughter without the holiday madness and freezing rain.

Perhaps next winter I’ll try an Asian Christmas, but for now I’m hunkered down in front of the tree, wrapping up 2011, a year of great change, indeed.

May you enjoy a peace-filled and mirthful holiday season and a happy and prosperous new year!

My Little Girl’s Getting Married!

Celeste and Joshua

My daughter’s getting married in less than three weeks.  Such a short bundle of words, but oh, the implications! First let me say that I keep thinking, “the apple falls not far from the tree.” Naturally Celeste has planned a wedding on the banks of the Zig Zag river on Mt. Hood, in the dead of winter, in a former campsite built by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Of course we’re not doing this in July, what fun would that be?

ThatShowsHowStrongMyLoveIs.com

As I pondered how the whole thing is going to work, I realized that I really have no experience to draw on. Sure, I got married: no attendants, no church, a small bouquet, no honeymoon. I made my dress.  My daughter, on the other hand, will have a traditional wedding, with a professional photographer, beautiful long gown with a trailing veil, lavish flowers, and a jet-away honeymoon.

And this being twelve years into the “new millennium,”  weddings these days have their own websites. This one is called ThatShowsHowStrongMyLoveIs, and it’s beautifully done down to the last detail, including a photo gallery, directions to the wedding site, link to “their song,” online gift registry and a darling heart favicon that shows up on your browser tab when you visit the site. Awww!

Tough Love?

With over 100 inches of snow accumulated in just one weekend this January on Mt. Hood, I know you are all wondering what the mother of the bride wears to such an event.  I decided to “think local” and asked, “What would Gert Boyle wear?”  I got this email response from her assistant: “Mrs. Boyle reviewed your email, and her suggestion is that you wear a warm dress, along with a Columbia Sportswear raincoat and boots. She wishes your family all the best for the wedding!”

Mother of the bride apparel

Uninspired by Columbia Sportswear’s wedding division, I’m opting instead for a traditional Pendleton Native American blanket-style cape, wool “walking” skirt,  fur-lined over-the-knee leather boots, and long underwear. I think I’m set.

Wish me luck! With only three weeks left to go, and no solution for how to safely get all the out-of-towners from the ceremony at Camp Creek Campground to Timberline Lodge for the reception, I’ll need all the well-wishing I can get!

The Portland/Southeast Asia Connection

I’m writing this from steamy Cambodia, a favorite place for some R & R.

While my husband Tim and his pal hunt out and frequent the Western style restaurants, I sneak out to get the Asian breakfast – basically chicken noodle soup with all the appropriate spices. It doesn’t get any better as far as I’m concerned. And the noodles aren’t what Campbells drops into their canned and flavorless product.

Yesterday, after losing my way back from the gym and trying to hunt down a store that imports from Burma, I got lost; names that I couldn’t read and landmarks I couldn’t place.  Could I re-trace my steps?  No, I had made too many turns.  But just as I turned one more corner, there was Sok, my Tuk driver – a sweet moment.  Back in familiar territory, and the reward, another bowl of soup.

I imagine about now your mouth is watering and you’re wondering how you can have your own little slice of Southeast Asia right in Portland. Well then, I’m thinking about the little place that my kids and I still refer to as Soup and Soap. It’s on Mississippi, on the back side of a laundromat. It’s called Monsoon. I go there because I can order Larb Gai, even though it’s not on the menu. They just smile and check to see if I also want Tom Yum Gai with that, which of course I do. And the fried catfish in red curry mixed with broccoli – Pla Dok Pri – or some such exotic combination of letters and vowels – it brings me back to the simplicity of a Cambodian seafood meal.

On the way back from my adventure through the charming but completely foreign streets of the shopping district, I had vegetable soup for lunch. Keeping with the theme of the day, the only vegetables I could identify were a few slices of onion.  Lots of green stuff – leaves, pods, stalks, and pea-like items rolling around in a thick stew served in a clay pot.  With a tall glass of cold tea, and an Angkor beer, in steamy Cambodia, or chilly Portland for that matter, it doesn’t get any better than this.

The Politics of Water

I first learned of the federal regulations on water when I was a homeowner living on Mt. Hood and using a community water system. Our spectacularly beautiful, clear, cold water came down the hill from the Huckleberry Wilderness area, and it tasted fabulous. As a community water system, we were required to have filtration in place, as well as regular testing.

It was always interesting to go to water board meetings, and to hear from our hired engineer how our system – we decided on the cheapest form of filtration, a sandbag arrangement – was working, and what the test results showed. It was equally interesting to learn that, thanks to our private system, we controlled our urban growth.  A nearby undeveloped lot had been sold to an unsuspecting buyer who dreamed of building a home in our idyllic setting on the Salmon River. But when she petitioned the water board to allow her to join, the group denied her request.

We owned the gold.

Since that experience, I have been thinking about water in terms of politics.  The privatization of water and sewage services is indeed a fascinating story of power and oppression.

Read more on this topic, including a university scholar’s argument against the privatization of water, an IPS story about who controls the water in South America , and particularly disturbing, what one global corporation is doing to control the water rights of  unsuspecting communities around the world.

“Water promises to be to the 21st century what oil was to the 20th century: the precious commodity that determines the wealth of nations”
– Fortune Magazine, May 2000

I admit I was angry after doing the research on global water politics. But shortly afterward I found myself enjoying a walk in the Bull Run Watershed. I’d been on the list to do this hike for three years and was finally getting around to it. As I walked, I kept thinking, we are so lucky.  SO, SO lucky. Our publicly-owned watershed is now in the process of conservation, thanks to the efforts of many full-time activists. For more information about the conservation of the Bull Run Watershed, visit Portland Online. And don’t forget to give thanks next time you pay your Portland water bill.

Time-Based Art 2011

At the end of a hot September day, there is nothing finer than to strap on a pair of dressy sandals and step out into the cool of the evening to attend PICA‘s Time-Based Art Festival (TBA). This unique annual event “draws artists from across the country and around the globe for a convergence of contemporary performance and visual art in Portland, Oregon.” In its ninth year, TBA will run from September 8-18, with visual art exhibits running through October.

What I love about the festival is that it energizes the entire community with new ideas and surprising visuals. It’s funny, interesting, and stunningly beautiful at times, reminding us all that, like summer, art helps us to thoroughly enjoy the fleeting moment!

My TBA Picks

New to TBA? Just follow me. I attended the premier, featuring Claire Fontaine a Paris-based “neo-conceptual collective artist.”(You just have to see this stuff to understand) I highly recommend attending the finale in which the artists will map the United States of America in over 100,000 matches embedded in a classroom wall and then burn it and some point, followed by a trip to Hal’s Tavern for “beers and a wide-ranging conversation about art, capitalism, modern identities, and the future of societal revolution.” I’ll see you there!

Here are my other personal picks:

* Mike Daisey, All the Hours in the Day He was hilarious last year in The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs. I may miss parts of this year’s 24-hour monologue marathon while I’m away in the Midwest attending the Battle of the Rodents (The Beavers vs The Badgers). Oh well, it’s time-based.
* tEEth, Home Made  Music and movement that mounts a daring exploration of the awkwardness of human beauty and the struggles of intimate negotiation. Sounds like my life as a mortgage loan officer. Must see.
* Occupation/Preoccupation “The United States has over 700 military bases on foreign soil in sovereign countries where we have no declaration of war. This project unites musicians, researchers, and music lovers to gather covers by American musicians of songs that originate from each of these places.” That’s provocative. You can hear a sample here.
* Kyle Abraham, The Radio Show This piece mixes identity and personal history, “creating an abstract narrative around the loss of communication. He investigates the effects of the abrupt discontinuation of a radio station on a community and the lingering impact of Alzheimer’s and aphasia on a family. The score mixes classic soul and hip-hop recordings with contemporary classical compositions by Ryoji Ikeda and Alva Noto.” Wow!
* Disorientalism, Ready Mix  This project is the second chapter of The Food Groups, a five-part series focusing on race and labor in American food production and promotion. Not to be missed if you eat and live in the United States.
* Closing Night Dinner And speaking of eating…

Walk On Water

I recently moved to Portland’s westside, after spending 35 blissful years east of the river. Starting with a houseboat in the extreme edge of “you can’t go any further north,” on the Columbia River, each subsequent move was closer and closer to the opposite corner of Northeast, with my last home located squarely between the vibrant Alberta Arts neighborhood and newly emerging Mississippi area. My walkscore was HIGH  and my restaurant options never failed to deliver ever more diversity.  Could life get any better than my perfect, desirable 20-Minute Neighborhood?

Ideas for walking in Portland

The move to a westside neighborhood, with its low walkscore and apparent dearth of food options, came with surprises. Walking must be done with more deliberate intent. I’ve never lived where streets are not straight, and grid-like and I had never ventured deep into the trails of Forest Park, so I admit I was intimidated at first. I looked for guidance and found my muse in Marcy Houle, who has written extensively about Forest Park.

Marcy regularly leads hikes, so you don’t have to brave it on your own. And there are so many sources to find a walk, it’s hard to know where to start. Try The Audubon Society, Metro, The Backyard Birdshop, Explore Portland, and The Forest Park Conservancy, just to name a few!

Walk blogs?

After meeting up with Marcy, I quickly found my second walking muse, Laura Foster, who writes the excellent blog, Portland Walks and Urban Hikes. Who knew!?!!! There she was in person, walking the trails one day with a group. Next thing I knew, I was following Laura on a hike from Chapman up to the Pittock Mansion.

I’ll see you on the trails!

Irvington classic gets my vote

The common wisdom in Portland is that we suffer nine months of rain and three months of home-remodeling every year. And of course Memorial Day–the official start of summer–is also the official start of the remodeling and real estate shopping season.

My pick for the best house to kick-off the 2011 season is this gorgeous Portland Foursquare Craftsman being marketed by Jeff Yen of Destination Realty. This house has it all—location, charm, comfort and beauty. Not only is this a stellar example of just how successful an old house restoration can be, including modern comfort and old world craftsmanship. This is a fabulous example of a well-marketed property for sale.

Those looking to sell their own properties this summer might take note: it won’t be enough to price your property competitively. It must also be in top condition and staged professionally. For a virtual tour of this stunner go to the website. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention: Jeff does his own photography!

Portland’s 10 Greatest Homes

Jennie Bramhall House

The Jennie Bramhall House

Portland Monthly’s annual real estate issue is out and it’s my favorite one in years.

It’s no secret that I love houses and this gorgeous publication is brimming with photos and information about Portland’s remarkable architectural heritage. Not only is Portland home to dozens of distinct classic neighborhoods, we have an unrivaled stock of architecturally important houses, as is clearly evident in Randy Gragg’s article.

Why does Portland, a small and relatively new city, have so many shining examples of fine American craftsmanship? Because unlike most other major cities across the country, we have a long-standing preservationist community which was especially active during the 60’s and 70’s when other towns were destroying architectural gems to make way for “urban renewal.”

In addition, Portland’s green-minded citizenry has long understood that the most carbon and cost efficient house is the one that has been standing for 100 years. We have a unique opportunity as old house geeks to join hands with our Green Brethren to lead the way toward a future that preserves the best of the old while reaching for the new technology that promises to save the planet. One has only to visit the ReBuilding Center on a Saturday afternoon to see this dynamic in action.

Although I’m saddened by the fact that one of the ten houses featured in the Portland Monthly article is no longer standing, razed long ago to make way for an enormous parking lot, I have never felt more optimistic about the future of Green Preservation in Portland.

Get involved to keep Portland the architectural and green capital of the U.S, and by all means, check out these green and preservationist resources.

Architectural Heritage Center

Oregon State Historic Preservation Office

PreservationDirectory.com

EarthWise Home Loan