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lead image for this date7 September 2015 : In Shakespeare-land

We had breakfast with our Oregon family, and then took backroads from Silverton through Sublimity and Sweet Home on our way south. We checked out Cottage Grove -- very sleepy on the Labor Day, many folks at Buster's for brunch at 1:15...

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lead image for this date8 September 2015 : An Intense Ashland Day

Slow start, unhurried breakfast at Morning Glory, two errands, tea at Dobró, and a walk in the park before a rousing production of Guys & Dolls in the Bowmer ...

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lead image for this date9 September 2015 : Another Two-Play Day

We're taking it very slow today, breakfast in our room with our purchases from the Ashland Coop (one of the best stores in the world). We're storing up energy for two plays today...

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lead image for this date10 September 2015 : Jacksonville & One Play

A gentle day today: a ride over to our favorite kitchen and provision stores in Jacksonville, and an outstanding lunch at the C Street Bistro. This little boutique of a town hosts the Britt Festival, a music celebration that hasn't ever quite appealed to us ...

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lead image for this date5 October 2016 : On the Road Again to Ecotopia’s Cultural Capitol

How amazing is it that we USers had the good sense to save this patch of woods! Here in this State Park, hidden (I love that; this stand's location is "undisclosed...

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lead image for this date6 October 2016 : Ode to Ashland

If I were ever to live in a city again, this would be my choice. As I said yesterday, this little city (pop 20,793) has all the earmarks of a big city, without the crowding...

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lead image for this date7 October 2016 :

We started our day with a new (to us) breakfast a goodly walk north at The Breadboard, with a Cinnamon wheel (about the size of the wheels on our car) and an Ashland Scramble...

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lead image for this date9 October 2017 : Happy Indigenous Peoples’ Day

I-5 is horrible – more on that below. After breakfast and a cuppa with Chad in Chico, we merged with the trucks and crazies on the highway, wound through the upper Sacramento's canyon, through a beautiful swatch of the Siskiyou Mountains and the high valley of the Shasta River, up and over Ashland Mountain and down to the cultural capital of the State of Jefferson...

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lead image for this date10 October 2017 :

A nice long walk up Siskiyou Avenue to the Breadboard for breakfast ... our new favorite breakfast, due to the fact that it's not as thronged as Morning Glory, and just as good food...

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lead image for this date11 October 2017 :

Slow morning "at home" in our warm little cave and then out into the crispness of an Ashland Autumn day. A nice lunch at Agave, a several times favorite...

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lead image for this date12 October 2017 : Ode to Autumn / Ashland 2017 edition

Maybe you've noticed I'm not taking many pictures, just borrowing (stealing) from OSF? Hunh? Partly, it's because so much of this is familiar territory – you've been with here with us before, and one of its charms is, it hasn't changed much...

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pgsql: SELECT `locus`,`date`,`headline`,`img`,`copy` FROM `trav` WHERE `ptype`="M" AND `locus`="Ashland" ORDER BY `date`
1st per in:|-- very sleepy on the Labor Day, many folks at Buster's for brunch at 1:15. Not many trucks on I-5, but it's still not a civilized way to travel. Off it at Grants Pass and through the Applegate Valley, Jacksonville, Phoenix, and Talent and then Ashland, where we are holed up for the next four nights, the longest stay of the trip. Five plays in the next three days, and then on to Chico and the Grandchirrun Show.|
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1st per in:|e Bowmer ... and then it was time for dinner. This Culture Vulturing is hard work. After the play, brilliantly and sparingly staged, so the characterization and humanity of it shone through brightly, we sat with one of the actors and heard a discussion of the choices, and a bit of the process, of making the play. A short break, delicious dinner at Agave, the Green Show (A tribute to Bob Dylan), and then a fine Antony & Cleopatra in the Elizabethan. We're a little wrung out ... but two more plays tomorrow! And so to bed.|
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1st per in:|or two plays today. Ashland, on the edge of the Siskiyou Mountains, is a bit of an urban wilderness, and so we were not surprised to see this four-legged, 12-pointed gardening crew at work on the lawn next door.|
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1st per in:|que of a town hosts the Britt Festival, a music celebration that hasn't ever quite appealed to us ... but their Festival has given the town the outside profile it's needed to get its terminal cute on ...and that we do fall for. I would have to observe, however, that our old standbyes, Kitchen and Provisions, aren't keeping up, and this may be our last visit to them. C Street Bistro, however, is worth the lazy trip over the vine-covered hills from Ashland. This whole southern Oregon valley, an east-west wrinkle in a generally north-south terrain, Bear Creek and the Rogue through Grants Pass, is a singularly blessed spot on the planet. High dessert, except for the streams from the hills around. Today, the smoke from the still-burning fires has been pushed to the north end of the valley, and the sky is cloudless and blue.|
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1st per in:|sed.") somewhere amongst these awesome giant first growth Redwoods, there is a stand of the tallest trees in the world. One of these trees is over 379 feet tall – something like 75 times as tall as me! – and no one knows how old.  Snaking along this "secret" byway, feeling very small, is one of the scenes that sets our stage every year for the magnificence of theater in Ashland. Purely magical.|
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1st per in:|the crowding. Handily divided into a tourist destination around "the Festival" and a downtown area a ways up the mountain to the south, and thoroughly gentrified, due in part to the influx of tourist dollars, it distinguishes itself principally by its thoughtful approach to growth. It's got a university (SOU) that specializes in the arts and feeds the Festival. It's got parks that put cities of similar size and ten times as large to shame ... due mostly to forethought on the part of its voters and city administration. It takes wonderful care of its children: this would be a great place to be a kid.  This morning we walked up along Ashland Creek, that runs through Lithia Park for such a distance that we have never walked all the way to the top ... where there's a rim trail that runs through the woods at the city's top. At right, we're still in the lower, more populated park, but just beyond the trees the trail turns to cedar bark (delightful underfoot) and runs beside the now babbling (but at times roaring and destructive) creek up to the town's water supply reservoir ...and beyond.|
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1st per in:|hland Scramble. Homey service. Rochelle says, most of the way through the scramble, "This'll do for lunch too ...right?" Yup. But a short detour before our first play for a Chai at Dobrá across the street: a chain with tearooms in Prague, Burlington, Asheville ...and Ashland, of course.|
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1st per in:|d through the upper Sacramento's canyon, through a beautiful swatch of the Siskiyou Mountains and the high valley of the Shasta River, up and over Ashland Mountain and down to the cultural capital of the State of Jefferson. Despite hearing the news about the Sonoma and Napa fires, we ate a nice late lunch along Lithia Creek, and then checked into our little cottage on a quiet alley an easy walk to the Festival stages. It's Indigenous Peoples’ Day (Screw Columbus!) and Monday, so it should be quiet in town. The fall colors are on the trees in Lithia Park. This is our favorite time of year to be here.|
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1st per in:|s Morning Glory, and just as good food. Got there too late for their amazing cinnamon wheels, so our waitress brought us a pumpkin pancake instead. An afternoon play, the first part of Henry IV. For some reason, the OSF wallahs love to translate the histories into modern military garb. This translation included a female Hotspur, the gifted young warrior on the wrong side of the monarchy. Why not? This is the play when Hal, Prince of Wales and Henry V-to-be, starts out as a dissolute trickster, but comes to understand, at the end, the seriousness of his role. The fool, often Shakespeare's wisest character, is Falstaff, and much of the first half of the play is a chaotic development of these two characters ...and chaotic this production was. In the second half, when the  guns start shooting, the strobes start flashing, and smoke fills the theater – in-the-round for this production – Falstaff gets his wonderful soliloquy ("catechism") about honor and death, and he was superb. Again the theme of the pierced fourth wall (the invisible curtain that traditionally separates audience from actors) emerges, an evolution of modern stagecraft and a desperate effort to distinguish live theater from the consumerist nature of video entertainment, this time the audience enthusiastically providing the answers, Honor pricks me on. Yea, but how if honor prick me off when I come on? How then? Can honor set to a leg? No. Or an arm? No. Or take away the grief of a wound? No. Honor hath no skill in surgery, then? No. What is honor? A word. What is in that word 'honor'? What is that 'honor'? Air. A trim reckoning.  Who hath it? He that died o' Wednesday. Doth he feel it? No. Doth he hear it? No. 'Tis insensible, then. Yea, to the dead. But will it not live with the living? No. Why? Detraction will not suffer it. Therefore, I'll none of it. Honor is a mere scutcheon. And so ends my catechism. (5.1.130-142) A semi-bewildered standing-O – Why not? The players were hearty and vivid.  |
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1st per in:|eral times favorite. Rochelle says, "With all those 'Mexican' restaurants in Fort Bragg, why aren't there any authentic Mexican tastes these?" Then a short walk, and ... The rest of Henry IV. An altogether darker play, without the strobes and shooting. Interestingly, same stage set, the mosaic behind the throne finished, Henry himself old and dying. Falstaff, still big as life, is also in his fifth act, and as trenchant if not as funny.  If Shakespeare had a formula for the histories, these two plays come closest to exemplifying it: what passes for merriment (if always with a sour taste and threadbare appeal) in the first acts, and then the burden of the play in the second half.  Two directors, each with a slightly different vision, but striving to find relevance in plays written in the last decade of the 16th Century. These are political plays, about the passage of power. To reinterpret rawly, Henry IV wrests power away from weak administrators of a weak king who finds himself distracted by an Irish uprising. He's an arbitrary, emotional man, quick to anger and quick to be calmed, if only by his sons.  The younger Henry hates the burden of the crown and the responsibility it represents – not unlike young Harry of the current Royals, longing to be of the people, to have the joys of a regular life. He sees the toll the burden of the crown has wreaked on his father, and asks Shakespeare's question: can kingship be a good thing ever? Or is governance of nations always an evil thing that leads to envy, possessiveness, and ultimately war? Can I get an amen?|
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1st per in:|dash; you've been with here with us before, and one of its charms is, it hasn't changed much. This is a remarkably appealing little city, its only defects being, as far as I can tell, (1) it is a city, (2) it doesn't have an ocean, and (3) we don't have a house here. Caspar is still where we want to be. |
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