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Another great night of sleep, and a lovely breakfast at the Inn.

Today we had orange-banana smoothies, followed by a melon cup with dried cranberries and sunflower seeds. The main course was a light salad of spring greens, toasted cheese bread and a souffle of asparagus, bacon and blue cheese. Quite tasty. We chatted with the innkeeper about restaurants and got into a cheerful debate about the plays we’d seen.

Then I scooted off to my spa pampering session across the street at the Blue Giraffe Day Spa. I began my day with a Kamani body wrap, which left my skin smooth smooth SMOOTH. Then upstairs for a manicure and pedicure, all of which was accompanied by massages. I feel quite pampered now, thank you.

I’m home for a few hours while J. sees another play (Well), and then its off to dinner at Amuse. We’ve been told its the best restaurant in Ashland, and we’re going to test that out.

We began with another lovely breakfast here at the Inn. Today it was a berry smoothies, followed by grilled pineapple with a vanilla creme, baked french toast with cranberry-orange sauce and pork sausage. Yum.

Then we headed across the street to the Blue Giraffe, site of our annual ‘couples massage’. This year we didn’t do a side by side (since I can’t lie on my tummy for any length of time, nor on my left side); instead J. had a full body (swedish) massage and I had a reflexology massage. It was heaven. And absolutely no surprise that the only ‘OUCH’ spot on my feet was linked to my ‘chest area’.

Sasha, btw, has destroyed her new crate. We didn’t like her usual, metal sided, crate because it is heavy and awkward to travel with, so I went and got a large canvas, folding one instead. We liked traveling with it, and she was fine in it on the first day. Last night she met us at the door, having ripped open the side. SIGH. So now when we leave the room we have to put her into the bathroom. She hates it, but we can’t trust her on her own.

This mostly means that the ‘alone time’ we had scheduled is now nonexistent. (Or nearly so.)

So, we headed back to the room to get her and then up to Pasta Piatti for lunch. They have tables outside, so we tied her to my chair and ordered a very nice lunch. We began with their calamari — always a favorite. They have a new salad, Caldo Balsamico — spinach with warm sauteed pears, toasted walnuts, carmelized baby onion, bacon, ricotta salata, and a balsamic vinaigrette.  Both were incredibly good, although the calamari (for once) was good, not great (it needed about 30 seconds more in the cooking, I think). The salad was perfect.

For our main, J. had the meatball sandwich and I tried the crab ravioli. The sandwich was very good, J. tells me, but the ravioli was only ok. Lots of things in the bowl, so the crab flavor really didn’t come through. Worse, when I just ate a ravioli, it still didn’t come through. The essence was there, but it was more like a cheese ravioli than I felt was acceptable. That’s surprising, because PP has been a favorite for years. Its still on our recommended list.

J. went to see Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, while I went back to the room for a relaxing afternoon. He’s out getting dinner, and running Sasha at the dog park. Then he went to see Pride and Prejudice while I continued to relax. All in all, a lovely day.

We spent a quiet afternoon in our room, reading and relaxing. J. took Sasha to the dog park for a long run, and then we went out for an early dinner.

We went to Liquid Assets Wine Bar, a cozy, classy place with Spanish-influenced food and an excellent wine selection (you hoped I’d say that, didn’t you?) I started with the duck liver pate and a St. Innocent pinot noir, while J. had the ‘taste of spain’: Spanish chorizo, Iberico curado, Romano cheese, Marcona almonds, glazed onions, olives, and grilled bread. The pate was delightful — and very rich. I could only eat 1/2 of it. J. enjoyed his plate, except the olives. There were a lot of olives.

(sorry for not taking this when we started, I’m still new to the ‘taking pictures of your food so you can blog about the meal later’ thing.)

For our main meal, I had smoked chicken with truffle-oil mashed potatoes and broccolini. J. had braised pork should with new potatoes and broccolini. My chicken was very smoked, the texture was very firm, just on the edge of dryness but not going over, and the result was as if I was having smoked *pork*. It tasted great, but I’m not sure how much I liked it. The potatoes, however, were amazing and the broccolini was quite tasty. J’s pork shoulder was pretty fatty and while he didn’t dislike it, he tells me it was just ok. I drank a delightful VistAlba – ’06 Malbec/Merlot from Mendoza, Argentina. It was so good, that I bought a bottle to take home.

For dessert, because we were hoping for something that would really knock us out of the park, I had a white chocolate cheesecake w/ berry compote and J. settled on a Dagoba Lavender creme brulee. These were delicious. I like a thick, dense cheesecake, and that is what I got — very flavorful and the compote was minimal and didn’t hide or overwhelm the white chocolate flavor. J enjoyed his creme brulee — the first he’s ever had made of chocolate.

We walked home, walked the dog, fed her, and then walked back to see Hamlet.

Summarized review of Hamlet: Wow.

This is, hands down, the best adaption of one of Shakespeare’s most well-known plays I have ever seen. We enter the Bowmer theater to find the stage set for a funeral, complete with flag-covered casket on one end and two sections of chairs, one of which is occupied by a man in dark sunglasses and an elegant dark suit. As the theater fills, ushers enter the chapel and begin to take away the chairs, bowing to the man as they pass him. Finally the chapel is empty of all but the man,, his chair, and the casket. The candles are extinguished and he is alone with the corpse. He stands, walks to the casket and, visibly grieving, reaches out to touch it — and the lights go down.

That was the PROLOGUE.

The Old King Hamlet is played by Howie Seago, a deaf actor who communicates in ASL (American Sigh Language). In the scenes (young) Hamlet plays with him, they communicate in ASL, with Young Hamlet verbalizing much of what is being said. But not every line is repeated, and I found it enthralling and enchanting to realize how much I could ‘read’ even though I don’t know any ASL. As a viewer, I found the use of ASL a rich metaphor for the translation of self that occurs when a person dies, but does not leave earth (as it were). Throughout the play, when the actors referred to the dead king, they usually (always?) accompanied their verbal words with ASL, making a rich metaphor for the dead speaking a new (occult, in the sense of not well known) language.

Jeffrey King, a long time favorite of mine, plays the new King by marriage, Claudius. In this interpretation, Claudius is a bit of a blowhard. Larger than life, and full of bonhomie, he booms through scenes while glad handing and glossing over fissures in the firmament.

Horatio, one of the few survivors, is played by the ever-wonderful Armondo Duran. As a ‘supporting’ character, Horatio has a tough role . . .sometimes he is the audiences sane perspective, sometimes he is just Hamlet’s confidante. But throughout he must be strong and yet clearly a product of his time. Duran does it well, with an easy-going, loose-limbed physicality that nonetheless reveals the core of strength within.

Richard Elmore plays Polonius, the befuddled councilor, and Susannah Flood is Ophelia, his doomed daughter. One of the trickier parts to play, Ophelia has to give us — a very modern audience — a reason why she would love Hamlet, go mad, and kill herself. Flood does a wonderful job, infusing her early scenes with humor and intelligence, giving us a glimpse into the strong partner for Hamlet she could be . . . Her middle scenes have an underlying sense of yearning passion that hint at the desperate desire she feels for a man who seems to be spurning her, where once he sought her kisses. Their final scene together takes place in a chapel and it evokes a strong sense of desire and betrayal so well that when Hamlet utters the fateful words “get thee to a nunnery” we can almost hear, as well as see, Ophelia’s spirit (and mind) break.

Dan Donohue’s Hamlet is a brilliant modern creation. He loved/loves his father very much, and can’t quite believe his mother remarried so soon. We have the sense that he’d get over it, except that his father tells him he was poisoned by his uncle, and it is up to him to find revenge. He retreats into madness, looking for an opportunity to prove the ghosts’ case and all around him the people try to cope with politics and guilt and lust.

This is not a sexual Hamlet, there is no sense of incest here. He kisses Ophelia with passion that reveals their mutual lust, and it gives the audience a sense of necking and teenage explorations, all fumbling and haste and frustration. But Donohue himself reveals only a bare leg to the knee, even though his suit is in tatters. His friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are women, who he ‘has loved well.’ But they are clearly lesbians and we wonder if his loving was a menage, or something more cerebral.

Donohue is a brilliant actor, flawless and genuine. His presence on the stage is magnetic, and he is a pleasure to watch as he strides, squats, sprawls and grasps. Each movement mirrors his inner and outer words, making his performance seamless and strong.

One thing about having a dog, is that you must go on daily walks. Here’s Sasha in January 2008 (approximately 4 months old), ready to go.

Given the upcoming hair crisis, I’m looking at getting ‘cute little hats’, which I have always liked. On Wednesday I stopped by Pike Place Market, and got a lovely green velvet and silk squishy hat that I like very much but fear may end up being too big. (Pic to come.)

In Ashland, I went to Hatsetera, on Main Street and picked up two hats.Both are very good quality and made of 100% wool. They’ll likely last a lifetime.

One is a sweet dark brown hat with a flower made of the same material.

The other is red, with a darker red velvet ribbon for trim.

Oh, you want to see ME in them?  🙂

We drove in a straight shot yesterday, leaving around noon and ending up in our room by 7:30 — which is incredibly good time for stopping three times for food, gas, and/or liquids.  (Sasha, of course, went for a walk at each stop.)

I’d made a torta from our leftovers, and it made a nummy meal. (That’s another post.)

The Ashland Creek Inn is simply lovely. We’re in the Sienna room — a high-ceilinged suite with tall doors opening onto a deck overlooking the river, with another set of doors opening onto the street (which would make for a delightful breeze in the summer). There is a 2-person bathtub, TV & DVD player, and a gas fireplace behind a sweet set of cast iron doors. The bed is king-sized and has a reasonable amount of pillows on it, with a good mattress. The room gets a lot of natural light.

Pictures:

The downside is the light (for those of us who are crepuscular) and that the tub is not in an enclosed room — so you don’t get the steamy effect of a good hot bath. It’s also difficult to eat inside, there are only a couple of ‘tray’ tables.

Breakfast is included, but they don’t start serving until 9am. We were up at 6am, so after J. took Sasha for a walk, he went out to get a couple of muffins from The Ashland Bakery & Cafe — a longtime favorite. SADNESS! The ABC has closed down, replaced by a pizza place. Not wanting to return empty-handed, J. went to Mix, which specializes in desserts, but has a nice selection of pastries.

Ugh. My cheese danish was mealy, the pastry ok but (of all things) over-buttery (as in: greasy). The mini lemon poundcake was overly sweet in a weird kind of way and also greasy. J. had a chocolate croissant, but put it down after a single bite. His comment? “Thoroughly disappointing.”

Thank goodness for breakfast. Today it was a ‘tropical’ smoothie, fruit cup (grapes, apples, pears, mandarin orange sections, and pineapple) spinach-egg cup (layers of spinach, scrambled egg, and cheese — Gruyere? — in a custard cup, baked with a bit of breadcrumbs toasted on top). Accompanied by strong (very!) coffee, a chicken-apple sausage, an English muffin and marionberry preserves to slather on top, this was a well-presented and very tasty way to start the day. I also appreciated the innkeepers and chef stopping to talk with everyone.

We took Sasha with us and ran an errand, parking in downtown around 10:30am. We walked the eponymous main street and looked to see what was new, and what hadn’t changed. I bought myself two hats (separate post) and we enjoyed our window shopping.

(As a side note, Sasha grins, almost all of the time, and its amusing to see how nearly everyone smiles back at her as we walk along.)

Lunch was take out from Sesame. I had tempura-battered cod with sweet potato fries and coleslaw; J. had cashew chicken and rice. We shared an order of coconut calamari. Very good, quite tasty. Recommended and we will eat here again.

Tonight: Dinner at The Wine Bar, with the premiere of Hamlet  to follow.

Today, at a crucial moment, the end of an era arrived. My food processor, a sturdy though not-much-used workhorse died.

I was pulsing flour and butter together for a few seconds at a time, barely starting the task to make dough. It just went ‘click’ and then  . . . nothing.

Needless to say, I had to finish by hand. (Ouch.)

I guess now I need to decide how much I was actually using that food processor, and for what. Do I really need to replace it? Will a replacement be better, and make me use it more?

Hmmm . . . .

EDIT: The reason its the end of an era is that I got this appliance in the early ’90s. So, I’ve had 20 years out of it.

It was exactly 4 weeks on 2/17, so it seems like its time for an update on the BLO and my health in general.

Since getting the go ahead on 2/13 to start exercising, I’ve done a Yoga or Pilate’s workout everyday. So I’m pretty much constantly sore from using muscles that haven’t done much of anything for months now. It feels good, and I’m progressing nicely. J. got my balance ball inflated, so I’ll be adding that into my daily workouts for variety.

I’m the same weight post surgery as pre. I don’t have pre surgery measurements, but I’m beginning to track them going forward.

The BLO is . . . well . . . it is there. It is rather uncomfortable, gets in the way, and I frequently have muscle cramps that create an indentation in the top of the BLO (the implant is under my pectoral muscles, so that makes sense). My surgeon told me that 6 mos and as much as a year is common to ‘get used to it’.

I feel its lopsided, and weirdly shaped. The scar bulges at either end and there is a lot of it on my side (which is what gets in the way). The diff between the two sides of my chest is quite noticeable. Even with a bra and top on.

(MORE) surgery or coming to terms with it are my only options. Given my other issues coming up, I’m going to try and ignore it until late June, and then I’ll see. (Not that I’ll stop paying attention along the way.)

In the silver lining department: my pain level is essentially at zero, with occasional moments of discomfort and the cramping feeling. All of the stretching is really helping, and the ouch from that is largely discountable as being normal. Also: the comfrey creme  D. made for me is working incredibly well. The scar is healing very quickly and cleanly. The difference from week to week is noticeable and dramatic. I’m normally someone who scars easily, with scars that last a long (long) time. I truly feel her creme has made a specifically measurable difference. Last: my sense of energy, of vitality, is returning. The well is still low, but no longer depleted. I feel quite healthy and strong and my energy levels are quite high — especially given the long working hours I’ve had recently.

All in all: I am doing well.

Spring is coming and we’ve updated our offerings!

To start, we have two articles. The first is from Connie Domino, MPh, RN, and talks about leaders and forgiveness. The second is from Lawrence Ellyard and disccuses the seven steps to recession-proofing your natural therapy business.

Then we have ten new reviews, our usual mix of items of interest to the community. Two older books by Lupa are reviewed by Daven, along with my first book, The Virtual Pagan.

Hot off the presses, we have reviews of Crafting a Magical Life, Creating Trance & Hypnosis Scripts, 7 Great Prayers, The Magician’s Way, Voudou Money Magic, and Forbidden Rites. Rounding all of this out is a review for the CD Dancing with Hecate from our newest reviewer, Katsai.

My cat, Morpheus, used to love to sleep on top of the cushions of our couch. Very cuddly.

but he was so heavy, he’d start to sink . . .

until he was nearly gone!

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