Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sweet Experiences

Moving Art as Cinema

Many creative and passionate people live in Ashland, and often this leads to unique events promoted by a single artist, actor, musician or film-lover.  Last night we went to the Meese Auditorium in the art building at Southern Oregon University to see a range of 15 or 20 short experimental animated films, produced between 1935 and 2012. A local film collector offered the event, free to all. These are not your Disney-type productions, but are more intriguing to watch because of their range of image, the mystery of wondering how they were filmed, and the impressionistic mating of music and image.  Among the subjects was an old IBM animation formed of moving atoms,  a charming 1935 German animated shadow story about a birdman made with images cut on thin tin,  a weird city of malformed cats in "Cat City" with many variations, (such as no legs, or multiple heads), a mesmerizing movement of  kaleidoscope  images  based on the mathematically created Mandelbrot Cactus or Square, and thousands of sliding collages with a life journey attached.  Some of the films were like a moving modern art (think Picasso) on steroids, merged with music.  Others had a tale implied, but not explicit.  One film was done entirely by hand painting on film instead of using a camera.  What is interesting to me about viewing events so out of my normal experience is seeing the great diversity of passions followed by fellow humans.  We each follow unique patterns and drives. William James wrote about "The Varieties of Spiritual Experience", which are clearly correlated with the  immense varieties of human expression. There is vitality in broadening the mind to explore unfamiliar territories, and enjoying the diversity of human creativity.

Sweet Indulgences

The Harry and David store is one of the unique treats near Ashland, and this Memorial weekend included a special event with free wine-tasting, sweets  and sauces to taste, and lively music.  This company, located a few miles north of Ashland in Medford, was founded in the Rogue Valley  3 generations ago, to pack and mail pears and dried fruits around the country.  Today it is no longer just a family business, but it features wines and beers, jellies, sauces, coffees and teas, local produce, glutin free breads and pizzas, chocolates and a completely addictive popcorn and chocolate mix called Moose Munch.  In the old days there were free bins of candies and nuts to taste.  Today the samples are less generous, except for special events like this weekend, but it is just as well because it is a place that widens your waistline as it lightens your wallet.  It is a fun indulgence, and factory tours are available for $5 (interesting and sweet but not as adventurous as Willy Wonka!)  I find the unique local foods, like Rogue pear, cranberry and Pinot Noir Jam, or Watermelon mint tea, Apricot Ale,  dark chocolate covered peanut butter filled pretzels, sweet peach pepper jelly or pears dipped in melted  truffles hard to resist and easy to store in the pantry for special moments. Living here and joining their club brings coupons and discounts to make the indulgences a bit more affordable. Fancy gift assortments abound on holidays -- maybe you've received one.

We stop in often for a dollop of coffee, in a petite paper cup, always  free, and a piece of whatever is being passed around that day. But we rarely get away without buying something.  It was always a fun tourist stop but just as sweet for locals who might be passing through Medford.  Below are a couple of pictures of the temptations that you'll find.

We ran into a crowd at a new Togos sandwich place near Harry and Davids, opened only 2 weeks ago.  We were told a major  kids soccer tournament nearby was the reason for the overflow of customers,  usually a rare sight in Medford.  We noticed three baseball fields filled with kids as well. Spring is certainly bursting forth in Oregon, even when the weather is still a bit cool.

        Here is a bit of the scene at Harry and David, with all of its temptations 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Beyond a Vacation

                                 The stream that runs through beautiful Lithia Park in Ashland

After 20 years of vacationing in this Camelot-like town on the edge of southern Oregon, my husband and I moved here in 2005. We loved the vacation advantages of this small town -- the possibility of seeing 11 plays at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, having fun  at the Cabaret dinner theater, where we watched comedy/music performances in a re-visioned  old church, walking along the river in the miles-long bountiful Lithia Park, and shopping in the cute and touristy shops.

Knowing we already loved the town, and the house overlooking it that we bought, we retired and  moved here with only a slight questioning -- what would the people be like? How would it feel to live in Oregon after a lifetime in Northern California? Could we tolerate a "small" town of 20,000 after living in Northern California for 40 years?

Today I still feel "on vacation" most of the time, and feel I have opened an amazing treasure trove of creative, stimulating and spiritual options by moving to this small and endearing Oregon town, and the purpose of this blog is to pass on the good news to others who may be considering the move, or  have already settled here and wonder what to do next.  It's possible to find a problem here, but newspapers do that job well, and it's also possible to find some complaints. I'll cover a few of those in time. But in a world with so much struggle it is comforting to find a place where one can retire and relax, as well as find ample opportunity for entertainment, friendship, and outdoor enjoyments, along with intellectual and  spiritual growth. I love exploring, and bringing people together, so this blog is aimed at all of you who live here, want to live here, or want to fantasize about living here.

It is great to be around other retired people, in an environment  that includes the fresh faces  and activities of  younger families.  So I will share what is happening here -- the changing facades in and around Ashland as businesses and seasons come and go, service  clubs and social groups arise and fall, music and  theater groups pass through or emerge, and describe many other varieties of enrichment available in the environs  of southern Oregon.  This may include such things as  wineries (over 400 in Oregon) , breweries, dancing, great food, rivers, ziplines,  rowing, silent auctions, volunteer endeavors, spiritual centers and communities,  authors, city-wide yard sales, college courses, clubs (everything from Newcomers to Hospice and hundreds in between), etc. -- everything you may have wanted to know but didn't know who to ask.

I hope to answer questions about what to do, how to get involved, and where to get help if you need it. If you have questions send them along and I will focus on your area of interest. If you want to tell others about your own organization, event, or favorite place send me the information. 

Views from a deck into the town of Ashland, with the Ashland Springs Hotel in the center -- Because it is in the hills, many homes in Ashland have wonderful views, all unique. Others have spectacular gardens.

Here I have gathered together a few of the unique expressions of community in


You go to the hardware store for free popcorn
You go to the plumbing supply store for free peanuts
You go to the rock store for free rocks
You go to the recycling center for free shoes
You go to a book exchange for free books
You go to a coffee stand for free dog treats
You go to the art galleries for free wine and cheese on 1st Friday
You go to the yogurt shop to play pool
You can be entertained for free in summer months by outdoor performances, 6 nights out of  7
You can go to the humane society and play with the animals
You are sometimes accosted by free-range poets  on the street who will recite to you
You can learn five different kinds of meditation in one week
You are still in newcomers because you think its fun although you have lived here over  seven years
Your house is monitored for free by a police volunteer every day you are on vacation
You go to silent auction fund raisers about once a month
You can belong to 100 book clubs
You know a grandmother with a new tattoo
You go to professional theater on Tuesdays for cheap rush tickets
You enjoy Shakespeare when you never thought you would
You go to the park to watch ballet
You have seen find hula Dancers on the grass, a bass player on the walkway, guitar players by the steam, deer in the flowers, people fencing on the stages, meditators on the lawns, and instantaneous rock art appearing in the park'
You have eaten a chicken dinner in the park with at least 200 people
You know a secret swimming hole with a rope swing
You know where to catch steelhead and bass somewhere not too far away
You know at least 10 to 20 artists , actors and authors
You volunteer at a professional or regional theater
You have seen musicians from many cultures performing in town
You enjoy standing in the rain for the local film festival -- maybe you or your kid has even made a movie for the locals event
Your friends (or you) are managing the lines at the film festival, and  the doors at live theaters and music festivals.
You can gone to a synagogue to hear a Brazilian Buddhist, a Unity minister, ethnic  musicians from exotic places you never heard of  before, progressive new-age speakers, and even a Rabbi
There is a high likelihood your minister is a woman
You are taking courses for credit at the university and you are 90 years old
You have found four computer clubs and nowhere in town to buy a computer (except the college bookstore)
You go to a church to hear a band
You go the park to hear a band
You go to wineries to hear a band
You go to art galleries to drink wine and hear a musician
You go to a barbecue dive to hear a jazz society
You go to an Irish pub to hear the fiddling society
You go to the college to hear any kind of music
You go to high school plays and ballgames even when you know no one in high school, because they are just that much fun
The college students act (on the stage) like professionals
You know how stage sets and costumes are made
You can hike a different trail every week for a year
You know where to golf and get a hot dog for $7
You take classes in belly dancing, qigong, yoga, bird watching, sustainability, Indian cooking, winemaking , pilates, and go rowing at the lake and you are over 60
You go to the elks to play dominoes and Mah Jong and poker and watch Bad Films in the basement
If you are an Elk you always have a place to park
If you're a Lion you barbecue lots of chicken and restore benches in the park
You've noticed that every week someone new writes a column about peace for the newspaper
You can have your own radio program
You get free gardening water, and walk your dog by a stream called a TID ditch through the hills of town
You have your own ski resort
You would personally shore up the river if it flooded because everyone does
You know where to get free books any time on any subject
You belong to three or more potluck groups
If the store doesn't have what you need at a price you can afford they will probably tell you where to go to get it
If you know the secret times and menus, you can get locals prices at some restaurants
You meet the farmers on Tuesday and store up on organic  produce
You see people hugging in the grocery store, in the park, at the farmers market, etc. etc.
Your hospital let's you use aroma therapy
When you drive slow, people wait for you, figuring you are a lost tourist or just old
(anyway the speed limit is generally 25 mph)
You can't buy new furniture in town but there is plenty of wine
You can do yoga nearly 24/7
You have gone to a chamber meeting and find out that 80 % of the chamber of commerce members do massage, psychic readings, yoga and alternative health care
Your neighbor might have free range chickens or turkeys who wander down the street
The deer believe you grow flowers just for them
You once met a group of deer sauntering as a family through town
You have seen a bear on the street or found a bear in your apple tree, and it is only mildly disturbing.
When you are gone very long from home a deer had babies in your back yard
You notice most of the people wandering the town look happy
You and your kids dress in costume for the Halloween parade
You can't buy new furniture but you can always buy a costume
Every season is magical to the extent you sometimes hear in your head the old songlines " If I ever left you it could not be in summer, or as spring, or fall or winter"
You know someone who is a living statue
A naked woman on a bike once rode through town and got so little attention she left
People tell you they came through town once and couldn't leave
You can get a Japanese bath, a Thai massage, an Indian lunch, see a pow wow and
a British play, and  have a Vietnamese dinner all in one day.
You are limited in where to buy a cell phone but you do know where to buy old records in town or rent a Segway
You may ride a bike to work supplied by your employer
If you own a house you probably bought it for the view or the garden, or maybe for the neighbors
You occasionally over hear someone saying this is like living In Heaven
You don't really want to go on vacation because you feel you are already on one