Dancing in the Streets

Who all out there is going to be here for the Starlight Parade? Well, I can now give you one more reason (of the many wonderful reasons) to attend: one of the many dancers you’ll see in on the streets that night will be yours truly!

Join me June 1st, 8:30 pm, through the streets of downtown Portland for two miles of dancing. The dance we’re doing is by Bodyvox, one and the same as THE dance–the Advance dance in this amazing video of one dance, two minutes, and fifty lovely locations.

We have just six weeks to learn, and last week I had my first rehearsal.  There were so many familiar faces – the people of Le Grand Continental, a similar group dancing experience I did last September (pictured above), made up one special family, to be sure, and many of us had hoped for just such another opportunity. Here we were, back at the very familiar location of BodyVox to learn our new moves! I’d invited anyone that I thought might find this fun, and was delighted to see a couple women from my Zumba class, and the new girlfriend of a dear old friend as well. The initial invite said they were looking for upwards of 100 people, and my quick assessment of the crowd put us at about 80 +/-. Nice. Mostly women, but a good diverse group of us. Big, small, young, old, black, white, etc. Perfect. Two hours of practice for six weeks, for two miles of dancing, smiling, and laughing.

And so it begins!

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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Hidden Portlandia Treasures

Last week, after my adventure in the Pendleton store, I have to say I was definitely feeling my Portland groove. So, of course, the next stop had to be to the food carts–how can you get more Portlandia than food carts? I’ve always known we have some of the best in the world, but I didn’t know what sort of surprise awaited me today. I’d pegged a Mediterranean cart for my meal, but found it closed. Hmmm. Circling, I found myself back at Frank’s Noodle house.  I’d been there before, and knew it was a safe bet – Frank’s Noodle house hasn’t let me down yet. It’s delicious!  But my mission today was to step outside my comfort zone–and that’s when I noticed a sushi cart: “Rolling Gourmet Fusion.” Interesting.  After studying the menu, I nervously decided to give it a try.

Apparently my hesitation was apparent, because chef Bobby Maki asked me to describe what I liked. To be honest, sushi has never appealed to me. Raw fish just doesn’t sound that great. So, having no experience, I had no idea what I wanted.  He suggested the Dynamite Roll, and I thought–why not? Steamed asparagus, avocado, cucumber rolled and topped with tempura fried snapper and wasabi Pico de gayo, all with a side of cucumber spinach sunomono and seared sesame tofu.

Wow.

Bobby Maki of Rolling Fusion

As I watched Chef Bobby deftly arrange my lunch, I noticed his laminated magazine. All across it rang the praises for this executive chef who hailed from Houston, Texas.   What?!  What was this executive chef doing in a food cart on 9th and Washington?  As it turned out, he moved here six months ago for the lifestyle! Thank you, Portland. We talked.  I ate.  And I decided sushi wasn’t that bad. In fact, it’s DELICIOUS. Thank you, Bobby!

So head on over to 9th and Washington. There’s an executive chef there waiting to make your WEEK with raw fish magic.

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. 

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:

pendleton 2Pendleton Portland Line

pendleton 3

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. 

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. 

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!

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!