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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Fertile Ground and My Favorite February Festivals

Festivals abound in our wonderful City of Roses, and some stand out above the crowd. Remember when I declared the PICA Time Based Art my favorite event(s) of the year?  Well, duh. It is still definitely amazing. Thing is,  I just didn’t really know how very much was out there!! So, based on a new season and new discoveries, I do believe I’m going to have to declare some new favorites. Fertile Ground Festival just wrapped up their 4th anniversary show, and folks? We have a winner.

Fertile Ground Festival

Launched in 2009 by the Portland Area Theatre Alliance, Fertile Ground provides a platform for Portland theatre companies to showcase the newest of new works.  Regional and national artists, artistic leaders and arts aficionados alike are invited to discover Portland as “fertile ground” for creativity, innovation, and daring acts of performance. However, unlike a typical fringe festival, FG features fantastic new work from LOCAL artists only, so all the benefits (financial, artistic, and otherwise) of this fine festival stay within the bounds of Stumptown. Pretty cool, right? Right.

While I was overwhelmed by the show of talent throughout the festival, a couple of my favorite performances included International Falls at the COHO, and The Huntsmen at the Portland Play House In the past, while I have often pondered the meaning of the performance at length, I’ve never really been inclined to stay in the theatre for the “after-shows.”   Following International Falls, however, I decided to stay for the post-show discussions with the cast. The audience was able to express their own sentiments and ask questions of the actors, and all I can say is–wow! I might have to make this a standard for my theatre nights! If you get ever the chance to stay on after a performance, I’d highly recommend it. The amazing conversation and learning that goes on is an enriching sort of thrill. To those who shared, bravo for being so open and honest with us!

Now that Fertile Ground is over, though, what’s a festival-lover to do? Well, like I said, festivals abound in this city. To help you out, I’ve made a handy-dandy list of what’s happening this month (February) in Portland. Did I miss an event? Leave it in the comments! I’m sure there’s even more out there, and I’d love to hear about it!

I’m a mortgage broker who loves the Portland community! Feel free to follow my blogging journey by clicking “Subscribe,” and be sure to give my facebook page a “like” with the link to the left for some great posts and fun resources in your newsfeed. Thanks!

Portland Jazz Festival, February 15-24 – Past acts have included Regina Carter and hometown sensation Esperanza Spalding, putting this jazz fest at the top of the game.  Performances in venues throughout the city, some free.

Wurstfest in Mount Angel, February 15 -16 – Did you miss Octoberfest?  Wurstfest serves another round of German sausage, family fun, and first-rate German beer.

Zwickelmania, February 16 – A one day event to hang with and learn from Oregon’s brewer.

Chinese New Year, February 10 – 25.  Fifteen days to find a way to celebrate the incoming Year of the Snake.   Last year I spent several afternoons in the fabulous Lan Su Garden in Old Town. But don’t stop there!  We have even more going on at the Convention Center on February 9th.

Great Balls of Fire Fundraiser, February 10 – 28.  Ever promise yourself you’ll return to Salvador Molly’s for the King of Heat contest?   Here it is!  They’ve raised over $45,000 for Oregon HEAT, a non-profit helping low-income Oregonians pay their utility bills in the past 16 events.

Portland International Film Festival, February 7-23.  The largest film fest in Oregon, it premieres over 100 international films. 

And if you’re so inclined, I would love it if you shared your favorite festival experiences with me on my facebook page or in the comments below! Happy Fest-hopping!

My Winter in Cambodia

Early each morning, one of the first sounds from the street below our apartment here in Photo tours and recyclers 031Phnom Pehn is a noisy squeak-squeak of a cornet, followed by the singing announcement “etchay, etchy”.  Down below us, the recyclers are already at work.

Photo tours and recyclers 037They collect everything from bottles, cardboard, paper to metal scraps from housewives and housemaids, who resell it by the kilogram.

The people of Cambodia work hard to earn a living; a familyPhoto tours and recyclers 033 working together collected and recycling can make from 7,000 to 10,000 riel in profits for a day’s work – about $2.50 in US currency. Enough, they say, to get by, and keep the family together. As the day goes by, and the heat starts to build – it’s a seemingly impossible job as they move through the streets pulling their cart behind them.

Travel Tip

World's Most Trusted Travel Advice

World’s Most Trusted Travel Advice

When I travel, I often rely on TripAdvisor to help me locate all my tourist needs – accommodations, eating, and sightseeing. I’ve been posting regularly to TripAdvisor, as much to help other travelers make good choices as to pay those have had provided me really great advice. Needless to say, I’ve been posting reviews for nearly a month now, all here in Cambodia. Usually, the emails I get from TripAdvsior let me know that my review was posted, or viewed, or questioned. But this week, they sent me something new….

…An Invitation to Join Kiva!

Kiva Microfunds (commonly known by its domain name, Kiva.org) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit

Loans that Change

Loans that Change

organization that allows people to lend money via the Internet to people in developing countries through Kiva’s 142 partner microfinance institutions, which Kiva calls field partners. Kiva includes personal stories of each person who needs a loan because they want their lenders to connect with their entrepreneurs on a human level. Kiva itself does not collect any interest on the loans it facilitates. It is purely supported by grants, loans, and donations from its users, corporations, and national institutions. Kiva is headquartered in San Francisco, California.

Giving Here At Home

404221_10151232774704183_1736352590_nI’d read about these new lending vehicles for several years, and as a lender myself, embraced the idea. But I had never taken the next step. Here was my opportunity. And Tripadvisor GAVE me $25 to get started, no strings attached –when I investigated I found that In March 2012, Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn’s Co-Founder, lent Kiva $1 million. Kiva then allowed 40,000 people to lend $25 for “free.” It worked; the more I knew, the more I wanted to participate!

This time of year is traditionally a time of gift giving for many of us, and there are many fine opportunities in our own community. I’ve found Willamette Week’s list especially easy to navigate, allowing you to select your non-profit area of interest, and then clicking to chose.

Get to know this year’s incredible line-up of worthy nonprofits.

Select a category, then a nonprofit to learn more

I’m Excited about Joining Kiva!

As I looked through the list of possible borrowers, I selected Sokhern, a 50 year old mother

Recycler Sokhern - 50 year old mother of 5, from Battanbang

Recycler Sokhern – 50 year old mother of 5, from Battanbang

of 5, from Battanbang, who has been a recycler for two years. She would like a loan of $1,000. A loan of $1,000 helps Sokhern to buy garbage (recyclables) for resale and expand her business. So far, only 27% raised, with $725 to go.

Click Here to Donate

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.

This week, I’m coming back to my usual job as a real estate lending officer. 

Happy Holidays!

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!