Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Shakepeare in the spring

A couple of weeks ago the man had a job down near Medford in southern Oregon, so I went with him. The sky was lowering as the sun sank to the horizon on this Wednesday evening.

The sky changed its nature every minute or so, and Jeff sat in the passenger seat trying to capture it on his camera as I drove.

The sunlight shone a particular glow on the surrounding land that doesn't really show up in the photos, but just remembering it fills me with awe.

We arrived late at the hotel and Jeff spent the next day-and-a-half working while I was blissfully lazy. The furthest I wandered from the hotel room during the day was the hot tub and pool on the ground floor.

On Thursday I discovered that we could get rush tickets for Guys and Dolls in Ashland, home to the famous Shakespeare Festival, so we drove down there for dinner and got in early to the ticket office, snagging tickets close to the front and centre for the show. We paid $45 a ticket instead of over $100 each. It's a great way to see shows, although I hear it is harder to get rush tickets in the summer.

Jeff finished work at noon on Friday and we drove down to Talent to check out our airbnb lodging. It was out in the country a bit, and we were looking for the street number when we drove past a house that was all overgrown and had some old rusty cars outside. At least it's not that house, I said. Only it was. The airbnb photos didn't quite catch the ambience of the place. 
All in all, it was okay, although the house was a very cluttered and meandering, being created rather haphazardly from a barn. Some of the electricity was a bit questionable and there was no doorknob on the shared bathroom. The hosts were a couple of old hippies who earn a spotty living from their art, and several other people wandered in and out while we were there, including a guy who has been living out of his VW bus for thirty years. But the room was clean and the bed comfortable, so we decided to deal with the rest of it.

The weather was perfect and this was the view from the overgrown garden (AKA Food Pollinator Forest.)

Several beehives dotted the gardens, all surrounded by crystals and other new-agey things.

On Saturday morning we hiked, which will require a post all of its own. We were a bit worn out after that so we went back to the house to rest and then headed down to Ashland for dinner, hoping to catch rush tickets to Much Ado About Nothing. I really wanted to see Pericles, but it was sold out. 

If you've ever been to Ashland, you will know that it is a beautiful and much-weirder-than-Portland town. It is surrounded by hills that are visible from downtown.

Lithia Park follows Ashland Creek and exits right next to the theatre complex, so we walked through it and enjoyed the sunshine and the beauty of the park.

We were still tired and the day lent itself to relaxation, so we lay on the grass and looked up at the trees and listened to cello music.

The grass was damp so I moved to one of these benches.

In true Ashland style, the cellist transported himself and his cello on a bike. 

After collecting the tickets, we wandered the main street and listened to buskers. This young man was particularly impressive. He is a violist with the symphony and obviously lives for his music. This instrument is called a nyckelharpa and is from Sweden. If you want to learn more about it and hear some music, go here. He is off to Sweden soon to spend a year perfecting his skill. It is a truly amazing instrument. He told us that there are only twelve nyckelharpa players on the West Coast. He learned to play it using YouTube videos, which is how some of my piano students would prefer to learn the piano.

Wandering the streets of Ashland is always a hoot and an education. There was the guy who was lying on the grass with two sheep tethered next to him. The sheep had little pouches underneath their bottoms to catch the pellets. He had a sign stuck in the grass that said modernshepherds.org and a hat for donations. It is an interesting website, check it out.
And, of course, there are always the unshaven, unwashed, and dread-locked group of young people who hang out in small clusters in the plaza, strumming their stringed instruments and openly smoking marijuana. If one walked past them with enough frequency I am pretty sure one could get high on the fumes. According to the shepherd website, they are homeless and they have all been sleeping at night together in a garage belonging to some kind person. So, no money for a home because it all goes to weed. Apparently.

The play was a bust. I don't appreciate it when directors use Shakespeare to make trendy social and political statements. In my opinion, the play was ruined by such manipulations. But we only paid $25 a ticket this time; some guy was selling family tickets because his son was sick, so it didn't hurt as much as if we had paid even the rush price. All it cost was a couple of painfully wasted hours.

And on Sunday morning some wild turkeys visited the overgrown garden.

And then we came home.

Monday, May 25, 2015

In memorium

The day before I left New Zealand back in April, Jacquie took me to Hamilton Cemetery to visit Dad's grave. The headstone is a simple affair, but much thought and love was put into choosing it.

We walked around for a while and looked for graves of people we knew. It occurred to me that we in America don't have much imagination when it comes to headstones. It also made me wish we had gotten a flashier headstone for Dad.
Feast your eyes on these. It kind of took my whole funeral/gravestone planning to a whole new level. Some of these are of friends and neighbours, some are from strangers, and it is but a small sample of the fantastic gravestones in the cemetery. Click on the photos for a larger view.

This one has a picture of a house on it. Maybe it was the truck that was important.

I love this. And I would like to know the story behind the quote at the bottom.

LDS temple graphics abounded. Those Mormons sure know how to create a monument.

And this. Is. Awesome.

Old friends.

A giant paua shell. 


I want this one. Dolphins.

Some died young.


It being Memorial Day here in the US, Jeff and I usually attend services in the morning. Jeff was heading out to California for an audit so we missed the tradition this morning. Luckily, Bethany is a dutiful daughter and she carries on her own little tradition of putting a rose on each of her local great-grandfathers' graves. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A short trip to Texas

Jeff had a job near Dallas in February so we embraced the possibilities and spent a weekend with Charlie and his family. 

Reading the wombat book. I love the wombat book.

Wrangler doing a trick. The pic is large so that you can be duly impressed. Yes, he is balancing London's boots on his head and back.

London doing a trick. Yes, she is balancing on Daddy's hand. The girl has amazing core strength.
Aaand, I guess we will have to concede that Charlie has some pretty good arm strength!

More hugs from Papa.

We took a little hike in wilds of Dallas. It was quite a steep climb and my knee didn't thank me afterwards, but it was a fun couple of hours. 

London and Wrangler are buds. I think this photo is hilarious, because they seem to have the same look in their eyes.

Most days, Charlie takes W for a run, with London on the bike seat. It's pretty stinking adorable.
I got to join in on Sunday.

On Monday, Jeff and I spent the morning and afternoon in Dallas before he dropped me at Love Field and headed east to Jacksonville. We were hoping to visit the Museum of Art, but it was closed on Mondays. So we perused the art outside for as long as we could.

We went into the lobby of the Hunt Oil Building and admired the Foucault Pendulum, which is a wonder of  combined art and science, for some time. The pendulum demonstrates the rotation of the earth as it swings back and forth around the elaborately inlaid circle. The pendulum is actually swinging in the same straight line all of the time, while the floor rotates with the earth. Seven different types of stone were used, with 2,600 individual pieces being cut and laid to create the design. I was very curious as to how the pendulum keeps swinging, as we all know that perpetual motion is an elusive goal. After some research, I discovered that a magnetic device at the top of the pendulum cable is activated with each swing, and gives it just enough "kick" to keep it going without affecting the rotation.
Science lesson for the day.
You're welcome.
As the pendulum rotates around the circle, it knocks down the pegs that are around the outside, further demonstrating the rotation.

We took the free trolley over to the West Village and had some lunch al fresco. It was a delightful afternoon, sunny but not too hot, and we sat and ate and people-watched until it was time to leave. We decided that Dallas is one of our favourite cities, mainly because it has no pretensions of being weird. The people are nice, the city is clean and attractive and not crowded with in-building, and we would have loved to stay longer.