Memories and Mosses: Finding New Things in Old Places

How often are you reminded: ‘You Can Never Go Home Again’? It’s one of those frequently repeated mantras that often plays out.  Class reunions, family holidays, hometown gatherings.  But is it really true?  And why is it so much embedded in our culture?

 You Can’t Go Home Again was a novel by Thomas Wolfe, in which the main character George Webber, a fledgling author, writes a book that makes frequent references to his home town of Libya Hill.The story explores the changing American society of the 1920s/30s, including the stock market crash, the illusion of prosperity, and the unfair passing of time which prevents Webber ever being able to return “home again.”

This week, after nearly 20 years, I returned to Opal Creek–a family vacation spot that has remained near and dear to my heart.  A place so special, so pristine, that I held it in my heart above all other places I’ve visited.  Would it be changed?  Would it live up to 20 years’ worth of lavish memories?

The last time I visited was an OMSI family weekend, and I’ve long since forgotten what the theme of that outing was. But this time I came to study mosses, lichen, and liverwort through the Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center. Really! I know that’s pretty nerdy, but it was fantastic. And it was was thanks to this amazing exploration that I was able to see this place live up to and exceed all my expectations. Opal Creek, Ancient Forest Center, and Jaw Bone Flats was exactly as I remembered it. But this time, I got to see a lot more of the details. 

The Opal Creek Wilderness and the neighboring Bull of the Woods Wilderness is the largest contiguous area of low-elevation old growth left in Oregon.  The cool, cloudy, wet weather in western Washington and Oregon is ideal for these organisms.  There are approximately 12,000 species of moss classified in the Bryophyta. The division Bryophyta formerly included not only mosses, but also liverworts and hornworts. These other two groups of bryophytes are now placed in their own divisions. See what I mean about details? I definitely didn’t notice this stuff last time I was here.

After driving nearly an hour beyond Salem, the last 15 miles or so on rugged Forest Service roads, the lessons began as we hiked in the next 3 miles by foot.  Lucky for me, we were only going to focus on less than 300 species.  Standing there with my rain proof notebook, and rapidly taking notes with my water proof pen, I quickly abandoned any hope of keeping up with our instruction, and turned instead, to my camera.

Screen shot 2013-04-25 at 3.09.42 PM Screen shot 2013-04-25 at 3.10.33 PM Screen shot 2013-04-25 at 3.11.13 PM Screen shot 2013-04-25 at 3.09.04 PM Screen shot 2013-04-25 at 3.12.34 PM Screen shot 2013-04-25 at 3.11.47 PM

Beautiful, no?

Francene has over 30 years in the home mortgage business, and she loves being part of the Portland community. Connect with her on Facebook for Portland-centric updates and news or subscribe to her newsletter to receive monthly resources and tips just for locals. If you’re interested in homeownership or refinancing, contact her today to schedule a consultation and find out more about Portland mortgage options.

Advertisements

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.

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!

Still Dancing!

Le Grand Continental – Pioneer Courthouse Square on Sept 30, 2012

Hello Fall! And what a wonderful start of a beautiful season it is! During the last week of September, I celebrated the Equinox at my new home in the west hills together with friends at an Autumn Lantern Garden party, and a toast to my husband Tim for his birthday. Then, as one of of 160 dancers, we performed Le Grand Continental at Pioneer Square last Sunday.

That’s Me in The Red Top – tucked between the two dancers in turquoise

Like so many of others – I have never danced like this before. 30 minutes of choreographed steps to a variety of songs, performed by individuals aged 10 years old to 74 years old. Something magical happened to all of us in the process. A photo exhibit of our journey is on display at the Living Room Real Estate office on NE Alberta, along with the question……

Why Do We Dance?

I pondered that question for myself; and found this quote – something that really struck a chord:

“We dance because it’s the fastest, most direct route to the truth — not some big truth that belongs to everybody, but the get down and personal kind, the what’s-happening-in-me-right-now kind of truth. This is not always easy for us to access — we have to navigate some very deep past, as well as the probable futures we drum up to feed the fear that drives us round the same circles, day in and day out. We dance to hook up to the true genius lurking behind all that bullshit — to seek refuge in our originality and our power to reinvent ourselves; to shed the past, forget the future and fall into the moment feet first. You remember being fifteen, possessed by the beat, by the thrill of music pumping loud enough to drown out everything you’d ever known. Of course you do.

We dance to reclaim our brilliant ability to disappear in something bigger, something safe, a space without a critic or a judge or an analyst. The beat is a lover that never disappoints and, like all lovers, it demands 100% surrender. It has the power to seduce moves we couldn’t dream. It grabs us by the belly, turns us inside out and leaves us abruptly begging for more. The beat is bad, wicked, sick –whatever the word is now.

We dance to fall in love with the spirit in all things, to wipe out memory or transform it into moves that nobody else can make because they didn’t live it. It’s a sacred thing, the beat. We love beats that move faster than we can think, beats that drive us ever deeper inside, that rock our worlds, break down walls and make us sweat our prayers.

We dance to survive and the beat offers a yellow brick road to make it through the chaos that is the tempo of our times. Chaos is the way of the mind when it is free-styling , winging its way back to an instinctive, intuitive intelligence, the kind we need to survive — not only the real shit going down, but the massive amount of stuff we insist on making up to insure our suffering. God provides, and god don’t need no help. God is the dance and the dance is the way to freedom and freedom is our holy work.

So get down and find out what your hands, your shoulders, your elbows, knees and, most importantly, your hips and feet have to say about it. There is a dance only you can do, that exists only in you, here and now, always changing, always true. Are you willing to listen with fascination? If you are, it will deliver you unto the self you have always dreamed you could be. This is a promise.”
~ Gabrielle Roth

A Unique Place of Understanding

This week is yet another milestone for me. October 10, 1972, was the first day of new job. I’d already been laid off from my first job, in mortgage banking, when the office closed in response to tough economic times. So when I arrived at work on this particular morning, only to find the doors locked. Making this week an anniversary of that experience that I would come to love – and hate. Mortgage lending made “sense” to me; I was good at math, story problems, and selling myself”. And alas, the doors were closed because it was Columbus Day. They’d forgotten to tell me when I got hired.

I left the industry once, in 1975, when “Reg Z – Truth in Lending” kicked in. Spent one year with the City and County of Denver, where I met my husband-to-be in the Budget Office. In 1976, when his brother died in an auto accident, we both quit our jobs, moved to Oregon, got married, and I returned to mortgage banking.

Reg Z continues to rule my world, and for the last 3 years, as the federal government ratcheted up the regulations, we have seen the most significant changes to Reg Z. I’m in a unique place of understanding the years of compliance build up, which helps consumers as we work an extremely tough environment of tight-tight-tight underwriting and compliance review during the loan process.

Ready for My Next Dance?

I’ve started rehearsal for the Thrill the World dance performance of Thriller on the weekend just before Halloween, October 27 at OMSI.

Thrill The World is an annual worldwide attempt to break the Largest Simultaneous Dance with Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” Thousands of people in cities around the world will learn “Thriller,” dance and perform it together on the day that Thrill The World takes place.

The Portland Zombie Walk Will Occur After Our Performance

2007 marked the 25th anniversary of the release of the “Thriller” album. It is still a popular and well-known video that crosses boundaries of language, culture, and geography. We believe that this is largely due to the amazing choreography. Don’t think so? Do the “roar” move anywhere, at any point, and without fail someone will yell, “Thriller!” The movements are so iconic and easily recognizable.

Click Here for More Info

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.

Have a Wonderful Fall Season!