More Aerial Schools–This One’s In Cambodia!

My blog last week detailing the fantastic time I had at one of Portland’s great aerial schools got me a a little wistful for some of my recent travels. You see, while I was traipsing through Cambodia several months ago, my travel companions found a similar school. This was the first time I’d really heard of something like that being open to the public, so needless to say I was very excited. The school was in Battanbong, the second largest city in Cambodia. The group at this school was known to have an amazing blend of traditional and modern theater, music, dance, acrobatics, juggling and contortion. What’s more, this group wove all those activities into a beautifully choreographed performance which told the a story of Cambodian people and society  The famous artists of this school, called Phare Ponleu Selpak, had performed all around the world. We scheduled our time in Battanbong around an afternoon performance that might allow us to participate.

But alas, when we arrived at the school we found it closed. The country was mourning the passing of the Cambodian King Father Norodom Sihanouk. We wandered the grounds, melancholy as we climbed the bars, dangling aloft. Slowly, though, our disappointment dissipated as children arrived from the surrounding grounds and joined with us to frolic in the so previously empty structures. My aerial lesson would have to wait until I least expected it, but meanwhile we made some new friends.

Our new buddies trying out some headstands.

Our new buddies trying out some headstands.

Francene has over 30 years in the home mortgage business, and she loves being part of the Portland community. If you’re interested in homeownership or refinancing, give her a call today to schedule a consultation or find out more about Portland mortgage options.

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A Very Unique Birthday Party

When my neighbor invited me to her 69th birthday party last week, I have to admit that at first I didn’t quite realize what I was getting myself into. As it turned out, this was no garden party, folks—this was a group class at the Portland Aerial School.

more aerial students

You read that right. Aerial. Like trapeze, acrobatics, and other hang-from-the-roof type activities. Needless to say, I was thrilled! I didn’t even know we had an aerial school here in Portland! And what a fabulous event they led us in. After watching the talented students perform, we were invited to learn “the ropes”.

silks

The very first thing I attempted was the Aerial Silk, or Tissu. Performers climb the suspended fabric without the use of safety lines, and rely only on their training and skill to ensure safety. They use the fabric to wrap, suspend, fall, swing, and spiral their bodies into and out of various positions. Aerial silks may be used to fly through the air, striking poses and figures while flying. I managed to hoist myself up, over, point my toes, and descend with the help of the experts. It was such a thrill! Next up, the trapeze. Incredible! Then juggling. Wow! (I really should have started learning this MUCH earlier in life) Finally, I moved on to the Hula Hoop. Sounds like the simplest of the bunch, right? Wrong. How was it even possible that I’d forgotten how to keep the hoop in the air?! But the students patiently guided me through, and I was happily hula-hooping yet again.

aerial students

The Pendulum Aerial School is celebrating 13 years here in Portland. I had an amazing experience and hope to go back. If you ever get a chance to give it a go, I only have two words for you: DO IT!!! And post about your experience in the comments!

Francene has over 30 years in the home mortgage business, and she loves being part of the Portland community. If you’re interested in homeownership or refinancing, give her a call today to schedule a consultation or find out more about Portland mortgage options.

Discovering The Hemlock Trail

When I first moved to the west side of Portland almost two years ago, my new neighbors proudly told me all the places I could walk to via the Hemlock Trail. Apparently zoo concerts, the Hoyt Arboretum, and Forest Park were all within my reach!  While I had been to all these places during my nearly 35 years of living on the flat lands of the east bank of the Willamette, I have to admit–I was intimidated! Trail walking didn’t seem to fit my idea of city life. But eventually one kind soul actually showed me a route, and so began my trail adventures. I was hooked.

Forest Park

I discovered Marcy Houle during her introductory presentation to Forest Park, and decided to purchase her book, One City’s Wilderness: Portland’s Forest Park. She personalized the front page with the message ‘Happy Trails,” and I promptly signed up for her next walk through Forest Park. Marcy is a truly amazing woman who has worked over many years to map out walking routes, name watersheds, and identify history in this wonderful area. If you need an introduction to the forest, there’s no better place to start.

My newfound knowledge from Marcy made me bold. When I found out Hoyt Arboretum was looking for volunteers, I signed up–but it didn’t take long before I realized I was WAY out of my league there. I found myself sitting next to tree geeks rattling off Latin subspecies, isolating branch divisions and tree buds, and leaving me feeling bewildered at best. But I remained hopeful that I might find a place in my new neighborhood to belong. Maybe there are some kindergarten classes that needed a guide?

Lucky for me, Portland Parks and Recreation works with the Hoyt Arboretum. I just found that out a couple weeks ago, when they put on their Winter Tree Identification Workshop. The City is actually looking for neighborhood tree stewards!  And they are willing to teach you! Who knew?!

Another spark of hope arose for me last week at another volunteer meeting at Hoyt Arboritum. This year, they plan to try to help new volunteers with special days for each of their sectioned tree collections.  A volunteer need only learn TWO trees, and they’ll provide a list of facts!  Your tree is identified, and a table and chair are provided for you out on the trail! WAHOO!! Look out for me on the trails this coming year!  Come for a class, or maybe volunteer yourself.  As I’ve come to realize, it’s all a part of the city life. At least in Portland.

Randy Gragg’s Bright Lights

It’s been a long time since Randy Gragg left the Oregonian.   I remember looking forward to his column every Sunday — he told beautiful stories about local architects and our architecture, and managed to weave history and politics into each story.  When he announced his last column for the Oregonian had been written, I was one of many Oregonians who wrote to him professing my shock at the impending loss.   As a result, his heartfelt response came back to us – how surprised and delighted to know what a loyal following he had – and he promised to keep in touch as to his next move.

In 2009, Randy became the new editor of Portland Monthly, after first coming on board at the sister publication of Portland Spaces.   In typical Gragg fashion, he’s cleverly spawned yet another Portland marvel – Bright Lights.

“Bright Lights: Discussions on the City” is a monthly series presented by Portland Monthly magazine with City Club of Portland (you can also see the old ones on vimeo). The City Club explains that the series “is designed to bring the region’s thought leaders to the stage in an informal, conversational setting.” With past guests ranging from Congressman Earl Blumenauer and advertising guru Dan Wieden to the Portland State University president Wim Wiewel, it’s always an engaging discussion, and often quite an eye-opening experience.

Bright Lights DiscussionFor me, one of my very first Bright Lights was in September, 2008, when my experience with Portland was changed forever.  Randy gave me a profound new awareness of our community when he introduced me to Time Based Art and the work of Lawrence and Anna Halprin, who’ve had a huge impact on our city. Through this, I was introduced to dance – which most of you know has been significant in my life indeed. Thank you, Randy. Since then, I’ve tried to never miss another Bright Lights event.  Who knows where Randy will take me next?

What’s your favorite Bright Lights experience? Who would you like to see there?

Francene has over 30 years in the home mortgage business, and she loves being part of the Portland community. If you’re interested in homeownership or refinancing, give her a call today to schedule a consultation or find out more about Portland mortgage options.