Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Oregon Shakespeare Festival 2014

 Again this October, friends Toni, Ruth and I convened in Ashland for plays at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. This year, though, we rented an AirBnB cottage just a mile from the theaters and Lithia Park. It was actually a converted garage on an alley, private, quiet, roomy and just perfect for our needs. We liked it so well we immediately reserved it for next October's Shakespeare jaunt.

Toni and I arrived Tuesday evening while Ruth did not pull in until Wednesday. That night was the total eclipse of the moon... at about 3 in the morning. The moon shone through the two skylights in our cottage so I thought I might wake up in time... and I did. Toni had asked me to wake her if I happened to get up...  and I did. We stood a few steps outside our door and watched the lovely red moon, although we never saw it completely red. We each saw shooting stars as well. What a wonderful way to start our Ashland adventure.

Our actor friend J.P. Phillips is rehabbing from a hip replacement and so not in the troupe this year. However, he and Monica met us for The Tempest (a wonderful production!) our first day there and then for supper at the Thai restaurant that we traditionally go to with J.P. after one of his performances. This is the first time that Monica and I have been in Ashland at the same time. Hopefully, it will work out again next year.

That evening, Toni, Ruth and I saw the rollicking musical Into the Woods. The first act twined several fairy tales together and all ended happily... but not ever after because in the second act reality struck and the characters suffered the consequences of their actions... like stealing golden eggs from giants. Be careful what you wish for... and how you go about getting it.

I took no photos on the bricks or anywhere around the theaters, but I took lots in Lithia Park where Toni, Ruth and I hiked our second day there. Toni had bunged up her knee earlier this summer and was walking with a cane. But she threw it down to play on the playground equipment at the park.

The colors were beginning to turn...

There were various kinds of trees in various shapes and bark types...

This looked like a puzzle tree with the pieces on the ground below. It seemed as though you could pick up a piece and fit it onto the tree somewhere. But where?

There was lots of wildlife in the park...

Ruth and Toni...

Deer, unconcerned about people...

Gorgeous Wood Ducks on Lithia Creek, almost as unconcerned as the deer...

And, many signs warned, a bear, also unafraid of people. We did not see the bear, but we found a tree he had liberally marked with his claws.

That afternoon, Ruth went to an emotionally draining play (but wonderfully acted, like all the plays we saw), Water by the Spoonful, while Toni and I napped and read. That evening we all saw Two Gentlemen of Verona with an all female cast. I loved the sense this director made of the problematic ending of this play. Rather than "giving" his girlfriend to his best friend, Proteus, who had tried to steal her from him, indeed rape her, Valentine accepted his friend's abject remorse and instead gave him love, just as he gave love to his girlfriend Sylvia. That makes more sense to me than the usual interpretation. I also loved having women playing all the roles, male and female.... which seems only fair, considering that in Shakespeare's day, all the roles were played by men.

The next morning Ruth and I headed for Emigrant Lake while Toni had a chance to nap and read... and rest her knee.

The lake was half empty but still lovely.

 The terrain and vegetation are so different from my part of Western Oregon... rocky and dry.

Lots of Manzanita...

And a few Ponderosa Pines...

We wondered about the round formations in the rocks and the straight lines... Ruth proposed that they were formed from volcanic action, bubbles of lava that solidified and cracked.

Up at the picnic end of the park there were many oak trees and many Acorn Woodpeckers, busily caching acorns. They would not, however, hold still long enough, or in the open enough, for photographs. This was the best I could do.

 Then it was time to return to the cottage and our second day of delicious lunch leftovers from the Thai meal on our first day. (We ate suppers at various restaurants, all different and all good.) In the afternoon we toured book store and art galleries before the Green Show and our evening play, The Cocoanuts. This Marx brothers musical comedy was outrageously funny. The actor playing Groucho was phenomenal.

Four plays and two Green Shows in three days was just right for Toni and me... but we have already selected six plays in three days for next year's trip. And I am looking forward to the three of us exploring more Ashland area parks in the mornings, if the weather is as perfect next October as it was this. What a wonderful break from harvest season.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Harvest Season

Johnny managed to escape for a week during harvest season here. He took the train up to Traumhof to chauffeur grandson Ian to school and to gymnastics while Kevin and Jessica were in Idaho at the Regional Championship Dressage Show (horse show). They were vendors this time, demonstrating and selling Theraplates. Lots of horses at the show tried out a Theraplate... so did lots of people. It proved a great muscle relaxer at the show for hard-working equines and their equally hard-working humans.

When not chauffering, Johnny worked on projects at Traumhof like sweeping the moss off their roof and replacing a board in one of the barn wash racks. He also read, played games, and generally had a good time. He took few photos, but here is one he managed to get: Ian learning the back flip wearing a safety harness. The harness is "just in case". It doesn't come into play unless the instructor thinks Ian is about to flip himself off the trampoline. So far, that hasn't happened, thank goodness.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...  I was picking and canning tomatoes,

 freezing corn,

harvesting grapes,


Delicata squash...

and prune plums...

My garden produced many melons this year. At first they were sweet and delicious. But I left them in the garden too long apparently as they lost their flavor... and then turned rotten. I froze pieces of the best ones anyway for winter fruit salads.

One watermelon ripened on a single plant... that I did not plant. It was a volunteer that came up in the middle of the corn.

The flesh turned out to be yellow and I did plant yellow watermelons last year. Although I find the color a little off-putting  (watermelon should be red!), the flavor was very sweet and good.

Also during Johnny's week away, I participated in the North American Migration Count. Migration Count stories, four of them, are on my Birds blog. http://lindafink-birdnotes.blogspot.com/

Two days after Johnny came home, I left for the Oregon Birding Association annual meeting with field trips. That story appears on my Birds blog, too. While I was gone, Johnny worked on harvesting apples. The trees are loaded this year. The pig has been happily eating all the windfalls that I've gathered each day. Now the apples are turning sweeter and juicier and Johnny is saving them for apple cider.

 Also he picked, prepared and froze more of the prune plums while I was gone. 

He is still harvesting and so am I. Here is my harvest from my first day back home. (Corn for supper picked later.)

We will eat well this winter.   

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Welcome Home the Salmon

On Sunday, Sept. 14, we again escaped our farm projects and drove to the coast for Camp Westwind's Welcome Home the Salmon ceremony. The camp's barges took us across the Salmon River to the beach on their side of the river where we were able to tour at will through beautiful Camp Westwind, see displays of the history of that area, current ownership, and admire the lovely camp buildings and views of the ocean.

There were beach games for those who chose to participate and information on the salmon life cycle. Plus boat tours with a fish biologist on board to tell us about the life cycles of the five species of salmon that are found in the Salmon River, the story of the estuary that is being restored by removing dike after dike, and more. Our friend Nancy, a retired marine biologist from Hawaii, loved hearing from another fish biologist whose specialty is salmon. 

Back on the beach was a traditional fish weir and craftspeople and biologists who explained and demonstrated how it was constructed and how it worked... in the past for Native Americans to catch  salmon for eating and in the present for researchers to catch and tag and release salmon.

I did not take my camera, not wanting to get it wet or sandy, and Johnny didn't start taking photos until near the end of our day. The above photo of the weir was taken as our tour boat was coming back to shore. The salmon circle of people honoring the return of salmon had already started to form (in the background).

We hurried off the boat to join the circle around a speaker in the middle who talked about the importance of salmon to the ecosystem and to the people who dwell there... and to all of us who eat salmon. A speaker from the Siletz tribe explained the importance of salmon to Native Americans and their reverence for this very important fish. We each were given a small piece of salmon as we thanked the salmon for returning again to the river.

Then we broke out of the circle to feast on a wonderful meal of salmon, cooked in the traditional way, plus potato and green salads and more. Delicious!

This event was billed by the Westwind Stewardship Group as "the first annual" welcome home the salmon ceremony. We will certainly plan on attending again next year.

The Hidden Gallery

On Saturday, Sept. 6, we took a break from all our projects and went to friend Monica's Rendezvous. Every year she has a gathering of friends to celebrate the arts with performances and a potluck. This year she also had a retrospective showing of tapestries by the late Hal Painter, founder of the American Tapestry Association, in her Hidden Gallery.

The performances this year at the Rendezvous were nothing short of spectacular. Four actors (including Monica's actor husband J.P. Phillips) did a reading from the August Wilson play "Joe Turner's Come and Gone". Wonderful. Johnny snuck in a few photos. This one is of the actors inside the gallery. A couple of the tapestries are sort of visible behind them.

Also wonderful was the voice of opera soprano Erin G. McCarthy, the poetry of  Paulann Petersen, Oregon Poet Laureate Emerita, and the amazing voice, whistling and guitar playing of Edna Vasquez  performing her own compositions and more. What a privilege to attend such an event so close to home in a lovely, outdoor setting, among friends all united in their belief in the importance of art.

After the potluck, listening to the nature-oriented music of Edna Vasquez in the picnic grove.

The Hal Painter tapestry show will hang in the Hidden Gallery until the end of the month. Monica welcomes individuals or groups to come view it. Most of the tapestries on exhibit are for sale ... for the first time.

Monica herself is a talented artist: weaver and woodcarver. I only recently found this video interview on youtube done in 2011, as she explains her art and, in particular, the commissioned piece she did for the McMinnville Civic Hall.


Oregon is home to many pretty amazing artists of all types. Kudos to Monica for showcasing their talents at her annual Rendezvous.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Matilda the Sheep

Three years ago this month, I sheared our two sheep. Now we have only one, Matilda. Today I sheared her. After reading my blog post of the previous shearing ordeal, http://lindafink.blogspot.com/2011/09/shearing-sheep.html, it seems I'm slower even than I was then. Back then it took me one hour per sheep, alone. Today it took one and a half hours, with Johnny's help holding her. Matilda was actually very cooperative. At least, she didn't lie down or jump around, just occasionally tried to run forward or backward to escape.

Johnny took a "before" and "after" photo. Plus he weighed the wool that came off of her: 25 pounds. That's a lot of weight to be carrying around.


A rough cut, but at least she has legs now. And, yes, her coat really is at least three different colors. Maybe I'll get my act together next year and shear her again when her wool is usable for spinning, not full of a three year accumulation of sticks and gunk.

Matilda was happy to get back to her llama friends, Lindoro and Milagro. Milagro checked her out to make sure she was still Matilda.

The guardian dogs have no trouble knowing who she is. One stomp of her foot and they back off. Matilda, with or without wool, is the boss of her little family.

Projects, People and Pear Preserves

Johnny continues to work through projects that had been on hold for years... first because he was too busy earning a living, then after his back went out because he couldn't move. Since his successful back surgery and recuperation, he seems to think he is indestructible. The latest project was replacing the cracked firebricks in our wood stove. He used the firebricks he had bought for that purpose... 25 years ago.

He also flushed out the water pipes that go through the wood stove and up to our hot water heater on the top floor. When we burn wood, we are preheating the water to our water heater, all because hot water rises and cold water sinks. Of course, we are not burning wood in this hot summer, but the nights are growing cold so it won't be long before we'll fire up the wood stove again.

Although the stream of summer company slowed with the start of September and school for grandkids, it did not stop entirely. A phone call from an old college chum of Johnny's brought Mike and his wife Bonnie to the farm overnight from Missouri on their three week tour of Oregon. Johnny showed them the new goat barn and his recent projects (outhouse, fencing, dam, chimney), then I showed them the arboretum. And we took the obligatory photos.

My projects are not as photogenic as Johnny's. I cut trails through the woods, cleaned the chicken house after the meat roosters were safely in the freezer, pruned trees, pulled tansy, but mostly, I tried to keep up with the garden produce.. plus watering the garden and newest arboretum plantings. Everything would appreciate water much more often than I give it. But, in spite of thirst, the trees and garden are outdoing themselves.

We had so many pears this year that I gave many away to neighbors. I still have pears canned from two years ago so instead I made pear preserves. Delicious! And easy. I cut the sugar in half but otherwise followed the recipe that I found online as "Old-fashioned Pear Preserves".

Soon it will be cold and wet again, with our summer projects and summer visitors in the past. Hopefully, Johnny won't wreck his back before then trying to get all his projects done.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Naked Ladies

Naked Ladies are otherwise known as Amaryllis belladonna. They are a bulb that has leaves in the spring that die down by midsummer. I never even notice the leaves in my wild mess of a garden. Late summer, tall flower stalks emerge with lovely pink lilies on top. It seems to me they bloom in a different location every year. I don't know if underground creatures, of which we have a plenitude, move them around or if, in the dead of night, under cover of darkness, the naked ladies tip toe to a new site.

My brother gave me the bulbs many years ago. I always forget about these flowers until they suddenly appear in August.

Our other mysterious flower, the Voodoo Lily, aka Amorphophallus konjac, I have no idea where came from. It is in the arboretum and currently has berries where the flowers were earlier. But the flower stems have shriveled and collapsed so the pretty berries lie on the ground.

I will be interested to check the stats on this blog in a few days to see how many people view it. "Easter Chicks All Grown Up" stands 4th in all time viewings of my blog posts with 633 visits. I suspect there are not that many people interested in chickens. We'll see how many folks are interested in Naked Ladies. :-)