Activities & Events
Outdoor exercise classes in their last days for the season
With the chill of Autumn descending into the Rogue Valley, our Fitness Instructor will very soon have to cancel the outdoor exercise classes in a week or two. We're all reluctant to see this happen, since these COVID-forced activities have become a favorite new activity for many residents at Mountain Meadows. Everyone fervently hopes that COVID will be moving towards resolution by next spring, but plans are already being made to schedule regular outdoor exercise classes as soon as the weather starts to warm up again.
What have not changed are the basic needs of a full and healthy life in the active senior years around which this community was designed almost 25 years ago: nutrition, exercise, intellectual challenge, companionship and meaningful activities. With some ingenuity and resilience, we have been able to adapt so that we still find our lives healthy and satisfying.
On May 19, as the seriousness of the pandemic became clear, the board of the Mountain Meadows Owners Association called a town hall meeting of the community with most management staff members present to talk about what changes might be necessary in our life style. Little did we know that would be the last meeting of the community in the Mt Ashland Room, our largest gathering space, for some time to come. The following Monday, March 23, the governor of Oregon issued a state-wide shelter-in-place order for all but essential workers.
We were amazed and impressed at how fast our staff responded. By Tuesday evening the dining room and kitchen staff announced that the dining room would be closed. Starting with lunch Wednesday, the first regular meal of the week, residents would call in or email their food orders and all meals would now be delivered in the same manner that had been used for residents who had been unable to come to the dining room.
Within only a few days, the few glitches had been ironed out, and now the dining and kitchen staff is delivering an average of about 175 meals for every one of the five regular main meals each week, with meals arriving hot and ready to eat before 5 pm every evening and at noon on Sunday.
Anticipating closure of the Clubhouse, which meant no access to the library, residents were encouraged at the community meeting to check out a few extra books, which they did over the weekend, providing reading material for the interim. Now in late June, our Library Committee has checked in all of those books and will be reopening the library for limited hours each week under social-distancing rules so that residents can again take advantage of our excellent collection of books, CDs, and videos.
Since the closure, we haven’t been able to hold any of the 10-15 meetings that normally would be taking place each week in the Clubhouse, but many of us have gotten very adept at hosting and attending meetings online. Thank goodness for excellent internet service in Ashland. These online meetings have turned out to be reasonable substitutes for face-to-face meetings in the Clubhouse.
In addition to board and committee meetings, our bimonthly Chautauqua gatherings have gone to a weekly schedule with at least 20 residents gathering on the screen every Thursday afternoon to discuss current affairs and important issues, and a more social gathering is hosted by our resident services manager and Clubhouse receptionist every Wednesday morning to chat and share ideas about what we’re doing with our newfound spare time.
We do miss having access to the Fitness Center and Pool, but our Fitness manager is filling in admirably with a combination of exercise tips in the Weekly Update newsletter and bulletin, which most of us now receive online every Friday, online exercise sessions done using the same system as for regular meetings, and exercise sessions on Hunter Green in front of the Clubhouse nearly every morning.
But one of the most positive aspects of living in Mountain Meadows under these circumstances is our open campus of contiguous neighborhoods around our park and with easy access to open space nearby. For many of us, an early morning or evening walk has become a regular part of our routines, getting us out in the fresh air and often giving us an opportunity to stop and chat at a safe distance from friends we encounter on the trail past the community garden and up to the top of the hill or through North Mountain Park right next us.
Gardeners haven’t had to interrupt their routines at all, with the assigned raised beds of the Kitchen Creek Community Garden needing to be cleared and planted. Now, three months after the closure, those beds are thriving and the flowers and vegetables are a visual treat. In addition, our gardeners created a gathering place with properly distanced chairs and benches under the shade trees at the east end of the garden and invited all residents of the community to enjoy the space as a healthy and friendly alternative to staying inside alone, as many people in other regions must do these days.
But most of all, the companionship that comes from living with almost 300 other people who have shared interests and experiences has been very rewarding. The craftsman style of our homes is particularly appropriate now, as we can sit on our porches at home or walk along the sidewalks and chat with our neighbors without taking risks of being too close.
All of these measures, we must say, have not been particularly onerous, and in fact have given us a greater appreciation for everything we have. And all of this has paid off. Thanks in large part to the flexibility and responsiveness of the staff, our community leaders and our residents, there have been no reported cases of Covid-19 among our 285 residents in the three months since the closure. As progress is made on controlling and eventually preventing this disease, we can also expect that – though circumstances have been challenging – we will be able to go back to the best of the old while maintaining many new habits we’ve been acquiring at Mountain Meadows since closure.
How did that happen? Igniting the Industrial Revolution
Friday Forums, taking place on the fourth Friday of every month, are Mountain Meadows' version of TED Talks, with residents presenting topics of general interest in which they have a particular interest. The Friday Forum February 28 was a presentation by Gary Anderson, who has an interest in the history of technology, discussing how four men and a women, working together in a variety of fields during the 1820s and 1830s can be given credit for igniting the Industrial Revolution
The four men were mathematician and engineer Charles Babbage, who is given credit for designing the first true calcuating machine and the first machine that met the basic definition of a computer in the period between 1825 and 1840. Defining what a computer would be was the work of his protegee Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace, who envisioned his machine, with its ability to read input, follow a program of tasks, store and read intermediate results and complete the program, to be a universal computer capable of not only doing mathematical calculations, but also translating languages, writing music and drawing pictures. The other three men, scientist William Whewell, astronomer John Herschel and economist Richard Jones, had been roommates with Babbage at Cambridge 1812-1815, would with Babbage collectively define a new methodology for science that would provide the foundation for the Industrial Revolution.
Music at the Meadows
Ashland High School Thespians performance
On Saturday, January 25, members of the Ashland High School Thespians club, directed by Fine Arts teacher Betsy Bishop, performed a selection of numbers that they have prepared for competitions at the statewide Oregon Thespian Festival, including numbers from last year's production of Urine Town, and other monologue and group musical and dramatic performances.
If you've been to any theater productions at Ashland High School, you know that these students are talented and trained to a level far above the high school productions you grew up with. In addition to the top instruction they get from Bishop, the Ashland High School theater department has been collaborating with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in the development of new talent for well over 20 years. In preparation for the upcoming regional competitions, these students impressed the audience with their performances, while finding and polishing some of the rough edges that only can be found through performance in front of a live audience. After the performance, the community discussed how we might be able to raise money to fund their travel to the regional competitions and other performance venues.
Meadowlarks Holiday Concert
For months, anyone wandering through the Clubhouse on several mornings a week will hear snatches of holiday music, punctuated by quiet comments, coming from the Rogue Room at the end of the hallway. Those familiar with the annual rhythm of events at Mountain Meadows know what's going on. The Meadowlarks – our community's choral group – was preparing for its Holiday concert, an event that marks a high point of the group's twice-weekly practice sessions as well as one of the highlights of the community's holiday season.
Both groups were rewarded on December 11 when the group, supplemented by several talented instrumental musicians, entertained an audience that overflowed out of the Mt. Ashland Room and into a separate gallery set up in front of the Lobby Fireplace with a remote video screen so that no one need miss a note or expression from the performance.
Works selected by director Harriet Berman included classic selections in Latin from religious traditions, standard English and American holiday songs, and culminated in a series of carols in which the audience was encouraged to participate.
Above: The Meadowlarks in concert.
Below: Harriet Berman, music director of the Meadowlarks.
Halloween Party Brings Out the Ghosts and Goblins
Our Annual Halloween Costume Party on October 31 attracted nearly 50 spooky, humorous and creative visitors from the other side to the ghostly Mt. Ashland and Rogue Rooms. There they found a wide variety of sweets and savories to share with one another, with the room decorated and beverages supplied by the Activities and Events Committee.
Three anonymous judges roamed the gathering to select the best costumes. After the unmaskings at 3 p.m. (hard to gnosh when you’re wearing a lampshade over your head Gary Anderson announced the winners to be: Funniest Costumes worn by Margaret and Robert Tower who were “Green with Envy;” Best Couple with the pairing of “Pizza and Beer for TGIF” personified by Bob and Laurie Carter; the Most Creative costume to be the politically correct “Floaty Ghost” costume made of completely recycled materials concealing the identity of Donna Stewart (above); and as Scariest, Roy Sutton in his alter ego of Count Dracula, who chased the comely female guests around the room while crooning “Come to me, my sweet embraceable you.” Thanks to Karen Clarke, Sandra King and Martha Amlin for coordinating the arrangements.
Repertory Singers Come to Mountain Meadows
The Southern Oregon Repertory Singers, directed by Paul French, is a local choral group of between 50 and 60 singers. They perform four concerts a year. Each year they form a small chamber group to sing outreach performances. Their focus is mainly on schools, exposing young people to beautiful, classical music. They also enjoy coming to Mountain Meadows and sharing their talents with us. This year, the group was smaller than usual. Eight singers, two on each section (soprano, alto, tenor, and bass) filled the Mt. Ashland Room with beautiful music. What a thrill it was to hear their beautiful voices.
Several weeks ago, they invited the Meadowlarks, our Mountain Meadows choral group, to choose a piece of music that we would like to sing with them. I chose a piece called “Evening”, based on a poem by Emily Dickinson. They had rehearsed the song, and at the end of their performance, they invited us to join them on stage. I had the privilege of conducting the group. Such a lovely experience!
A big “think you” to Lola Egan who organized the event!
Music at the Meadows
Jenna Bainbridge in performance with Rose Van Dyne
On Friday, September 20, residents were excited to welcome back to the Mt. Ashland Room Oregon Shakespeare Festival actor/singer Jenna Bainbridge, joined by singer/pianist Rose Van Dyne.
Jenna currently is performing the role of Penny in Hairspray. She was appearing after only a two-month absence from Mountain Meadows. This rapid return is the result of her astonishing talent that was displayed the first time – and her enjoyment in being here.
Rose accompanied Jenna from the piano, joined her in duets and sang her own solos, accompanying herself from the keyboard. The performance was a delightful combination of show tunes and classical standards, and the positive chemistry between the two young performers couldn't have been more obvious.
Summer Picnic and Variety Show
Residents were taken back to the era of sock hops, cruising the strip, poodle skirts, and Elvis on Tuesday, September 17, when the community celebrated the annual summer picnic – moved on account of rain to the rapidly redecorated Dining Room – and resident variety show, themed this year as "The Fabulous '50s"
Sponsored by MOMA contactors CPM Real Estate Services, Morrison Food Services and Baumgardner Landscaping, the barbecue tri-tip and chicken meal was served picnic-style by staff members dressed in appropriate 1950s outfits. Following the fun meal, residents took to the hastily erected stage in the Mt. Ashland Room for a musical variety review of each of the years of the 1950s. Narrated by news commentator Tom Buechele and his boufanted sidekick, Dickie Wilson, the entertainment included songs and commercials from each year. To huge audience delight, visitors from the decade included Queen Elizabeth complete with Corgi, Snoopy and Charlie Brown, and an aged Elvis performing from his glitter bedecked walker, barely able to move those iconic hips.
Music at the Meadows
Bossa Nova by Brianne Mack
with Ed Dunsavage
The authentic strains of Bossa Nova, sung in Portuguese and accompanied by a guitar, carried through the audience in the Mt. Ashland room Thursday, August 29, at Music in the Meadows. More than 50 members of our community were entertained with the nostalgic and sometimes melancholy sounds of this evocative art form by vocalist and flautist Brianne Mack, accompanied by guitarist Ed Dunsavage.
Brianne and Ed met only recently, when Brianne sat in with Ed’s jazz trio in a late-night jam session about six months ago after an OSF Green Show that welcomed a performing group from Afghanistan to Ashland. This is the first time that Brianne and Ed have performed together in public and Brianne said it’s only the first time she has sung and played for a full hour without a break.
Brianne grew up in a musical family on the West Coast. She received her first guitar lesson from her aunt when she was 10 and learned to play and sing the folk standards that were favorites of her family. While she focused her music studies on classical flute, she continued secretly to pursue her interests of singing and playing guitar.
Opting to complete her degree in chemistry rather than music, she worked in scientific research, but continued her music studies as an avocation.
In 2014, Brianne enrolled in two community courses at the Jazz School of Berkeley ( now the California Jazz Conservatory) and discovered a passion for Brazilian jazz.
Having learned some Portuguese in high school, with the help of a friend, Brianne mastered the accent, rhythm and intonation of Bossa Nova standards sung in their original language.
Brianne only recently moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to Ashland, and when she can sneak away from work can be found many Wednesday mornings singing at La Baguette’s jazz sessions.
Master guitarist Ed Dunsavage is no stranger to our Mt. Ashland Room. He majored in jazz performance and composition at Rutgers. Now artistic director for the Siskiyou Music Project, he has his own trio and also teaches classical and jazz guitar.
With this performance, another up-and-coming musician has found a ready and appreciative audience to help hone her musical experience.
Ashland Culture of Peace Commission
David Wick and Irene Kai, cofounders and executive director and director of development of the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission, discussed the group’s mission and activities with more than 40 residents of Mountain Meadows at the Friday Forum July 26, arranged by Lola Egan.
As Wick explained, a proclamation of the City Council of Ashland embracing and encouraging a culture of peace was approved unanimously and their Commission was formerly begun in September 2015.
The mission of the commission, Wick said, is to foster “a community-wide movement dedicated to transforming our attitudes, behaviors and institutions into ones that foster harmonious relationships with each other and the natural world.”
Introducing herself as a Chinese immigrant who came to this country at the age of 21, speaking no English, Kai described her involvement with the Culture of Peace movement in inspiring terms. She explained how a chance visit to the World Peace Flame in Wales had led her to bring the flame to Ashland, which now burns in the Thalden Pavilion of the Sustainability Center on the Southern Oregon University campus, maintained by “Flame Keepers” from nearby Ashland Middle School and is a gathering place for peace activities in Ashland.
Believing that a culture of peace is expressed in tangible efforts, Wick and Lai described other activities the Commission has undertaken in Ashland, now including establishment of a winter shelter for unhoused residents of Ashland, now staffed by volunteers and supported by local churches; a continuing effort to work with the Police Department and the community to foster a supportive approach to their work, symbolized by the new identifier “peace officer” on squad cars; and Talking Circle discussions held every week at their office at 33 First Street.
They were particularly proud to announce the Ashland Global Peace Conference with the theme “You are the Flame” September 21 at the Ashland Hills Hotel, with a program of globally noted speakers including Ambassador Anwarul Chowhury, former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and founder of the Global Movement of the Culture of Peace. More information on the Conference and the Commission can be found at www.ashlandcpc.org.