Seed, Garden, Pickle: It’s My Favorite Time of Year Again!

Here it comes again – that urge to plunge your fingers into the soil, kissed back into life by the warm days we’ve been experiencing this last week. I love to garden.   It would seem there is nothing better than the promise of a bountiful harvest in the months to come, all the while warming my own pasty white body in the warmth of a beautiful spring day.

Resist the urge to head straight to Portland Nursery!  I know it’s a lot of fun to let that expectation carry you into the temptation of beautiful plant starts–but now is the time to get out there to your patch of dirt to do a little prep. 

I’ve been reading with interest the theory that going full on with the spade to prepare your garden bed only leads to disturbing weeds that might otherwise have taken root.  Hmm.  That makes sense.  But I’m going to be gardening this year in a raised bed, compliment’s to a former owner. And I expect there will be some soil prep, weeding, and massaging my new piece of dirt–I’ve got to get it prepared for the cucumbers I’ve been growing! (For you seedling lovers, check out this wonderful chart I found to help decide when to move the cute little seedlings to their new home.)

I’m especially excited about these cucumbers, for a very specific reason. Pickling!! Tonight I’ve signed up for a Preserving Pickles class at Portland Community College.  While this will be my 4th year pickling, I think it’s time to circle back around to make sure I’m not missing something.  I want to be ready – you’re all invited to join me this year, when the cukes start coming in.

Lastly, for that memorable Portlandia first season reminder – We can pickle THAT!

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.

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The Starlight Parade Approaches!

The skies are overcast.  The precipitation is at record levels.  Hay Fever season is in high gear.  Why, it must be time to kick off THE ROSE FESTIVAL!  Portland’s favorite celebration kicks off this week with the zany Starlight Parade!

It’s a LONG tradition here in Portland.  The idea for the Rose Festival was presented to the public in a speech by Mayor Harry Lane at the end of the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition in 1905. The first festival followed in 1907, and what a history it has made.

It’s 2013, and we’re gearing up to celebrate 106 years of festivities.  The lineup for the parade is everything from traditional marching bands and flood-lit floats, to glow-in-the-dark umbrellas and hand-built entries. You’ll see the best of Portland’s diverse community groups from the surrounding Northwest region. And some exciting news? (At least for me!) I’m marching and dancing in the first quarter of the nearly 100 illuminated groups! 

If you’re headed to the parade this weekend, you won’t be disappointed–but there are a few things to keep in mind. Here’s my “ inside tips” for the Starlight Parade! The parade starts at 9:00 pm.  This is no parade for whimps!  You have to stay up late and tough out the elements on the cold, wet, and dark streets of downtown Portland.  We’re expecting 250,000 to line the 2.25 miles, so make sure you get your spot scoped out early.  Also: Bring layers!  And don’t forget your costume…there will be some serious costuming that you don’t want to miss out on. The starlight parade is where FUN HAPPENS.

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.

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.

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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.

A True Portland Moment

It seemed like a typical Portland morning in March when I headed off to Zumba one Saturday. This particular Saturday, though, was anything but. This was the once-a-year-only sale, with the new Pendleton Portland collection, and I snuck out early to secure a good parking spot on SW Broadway.  Once inside the door, I found that it was literally wall to wall with people. This line of clothing was made for the trendy, young hipsters of Portland, and they had all turned out accordingly. But I wanted in on this, too!  Could I find a large or extra-large in hipster-size (that would be a medium in any other line, right?)? After a frantic search I happily found several items and joined the checkout line to cash out on my bounty.  The line, however, took longer than an hour to get through! Normally, a wait that long would have made me CRAZY, but that’s when Portlandia happened.  And by Portlandia, I don’t mean high-nosed hipster indignation. I mean the most laid-back people on earth, who can’t help but make friends and bond over any shared experience–even waiting in line. By the time we snaked up to the checkout counter, I had traded and swapped for styles and sizes while generous strangers held my place in line, carried the cargo of my neighbors and had mine carried in turn so we could race out to fill our parking our meters, and we had all praised and encouraged each other to step outside our comfort zone to go for the biggest, baddest tribal print. I love Pendleton, and I adore Portland.  I halfway wondered why we didn’t all exchange email addresses by the time I left.

Here’s some of the great finds I snagged:

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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. 

Drinking In Portland

There are SO many local theatres in Portland, it’s hard not to find SOMETHING of interest every week.  During the Fertile Ground festival, I saw the fabulous world premiere of International Falls at the CoHo.   This weekend, I was back at the theatre to see Bill W and Dr Bob.  It is based on the story of William Wilson (Bill W.) and Dr. Robert Smith (Bob S., or “Dr. Bob”), the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous and their wives Lois Wilson and Anne Smith, creators of Al-Anon.

In 1929, the famous New York stockbroker William G. Wilson crashed with the stock market and became a hopeless drunk. Dr. Bob Smith was a surgeon from Ohio, who had also been an alcoholic for thirty years. In fact, he often went into the operating room with a hangover. Through an astonishing series of events, Bill W. and Dr. Bob Smith met and formed a relationship, each helping to keep the other sober. The two went on to form AA together. The show told this story in a delightful way, and also managed to give me pause.

We had dinner after the show, and I skipped the usual glass of wine. But, as fortune would have it, I had already planned on skipping that wine long before I’d watched the show. I had purposely given up alcohol that weekend, and so it was especially poignant to see  Bill W and Dr Bob on Sunday afternoon.  Was that coincidental?  Probably not, as I find my life always runs little themes that get woven into glorious threads and ribbons.  But I was giving up alcohol for another reason:  The Cleanse.

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For the past year, I’ve been trying to understand a friend’s regular “fasting”.   Why does one “fast”?  With food such an important part of experiencing the company of friends and family, and being part of the foodie town that I live in – why would one chose to go without?  Is fasting about religion?  Or diet?  Or some other mystic goings on?

But it finally hit me – the rest of the world may “fast” – but here, we “CLEANSE.”   And after reading one of my younger zumba pal’s blog – I wanted to CLEANSE as well!

I quote my new “facebook friend” Yoona: “I remembered that long ago, my friend Kim had extolled the virtues of the juices at Portland Juice Press—in particular, a milkshake-like drink that came at the end of each day’s ration of juices. I researched the company online. Six juices a day, for three days? With daily delivery to my house? How hard could that be?”

My box of juices have arrived this morning at my office.  So begins THE CLEANSE.

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. 

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.