Tying the Knots

The sweet peas are almost done blooming, it’s hot and sunny and I’m learning to tie knots. I started on Sunday and have been struggling through you tube videos and maddeningly complicated illustrations. It started with the Pan Chang knot which I spent hours studying and trying to knot before I decided to start on something simple, like my shoelaces. I borrowed some books from the library to work my way through.
Like tea, there is a whole rich world of knots.

Looks simple right.

There are grand babies involved in every day life and now, a wedding to plan. My daughter is taking the plunge. SOON. It’s all wedding plans, all day, every channel. I’m so over the moon happy for her I could cry.

You Are An Old Hippie

 if you find yourself making a pot of beans and collards and composting all the waste, while wearing a pair of purple harem pants with elephants printed on them that your neighbor brought you back from Cambodia, and a Heisenberg t-shirt (Walter White) and flip flops and you are living off the grid so you are washing your dishes (in a galvanized tub) and yourself (in a horse trough) and using your washing up water to water your garden and your listening to janis joplin and stringing beads and doing yoga on the deck in your backyard and you smell like patchouli from the cannabis infused lotion you wear on your wrinkly skin.

This could happen to you without your even noticing it.

Home Again

My last day in Denver we went to the Museum. It was, like all of Denver, a wonderful surprise. We split up so we could each see what we wanted to see. I went for the Daniel Sprick portrait room. Oh my. These portraits look like photographs at first but then you realize their paintings and then you scream! What?! I was mesmerized. 

It was a fantastic show. I also spent some time in their textile room which is an interactive space filled with books and on going projects one can participate in. A great museum to take children to. 
This trip was far too short. It was a tasting platter, an amuse-bouche.  Like flicking through an amazing book before you settle in to savor each and every page. I had no idea I would love Colorado as much as I did. It bears more exploration as does New Mexico. I’m excited about going back next year in a bug out vehicle so I can take my time. 
And now I am home and my little grand baby boys have grown! Little baby is even fatter and Chips is growing into a little boy with muscles. His face lit up when I walked through the door and we both just smiled and smiled at each other until I could grab him up and squeeze him. It was off to the Dinosaur races after that. I had to reacquaint myself with all his dinosaurs and boy is always happy to add more reptiles to the pile. The Monk sent him a whole collection of alligators from the Alligator farm he visited while Joyce and I had coffee. Alligators in Colorado. 
And now here, in Mr Chips toy box.
I was also very happy to get reacquainted with Mr Tearful. It’s great to go on adventures. It makes coming home all the sweeter.
At the Alligator Farm in Colorado.

A Jew, a Puerto Rican and a Buddist Monk Walk Into a Salad Bar….

and order the same thing.  A falafel salad.

Then went to see Dawn of the Planet of the Apes because it’s sci fi and the monk loves his sci fi and I didn’t want to see Earth to Echo though after seeing DOTPOTA, I’m not so sure I made the right choice. DOTPOTA had your bad apes, your dumb drunk idiots, your good guys and one good girl, your one really good hearted ape, guns, shooting, swinging through trees, chimps wearing jewelry, and San Francisco in ruins. In 3 D.  Wear protective ear wear if you go see it.

After that we went to the Denver Botanical Garden which is probably the prettiest Botanical Garden I’ve ever been to. There was/is a Dale Chihuly exhibit which was surprising and beautiful. I’m not a big fan of glass art but I’m a big fan of gardens and his work adds a playful magic to this garden.

There’s more of this madness on my Instagram if you’re so inclined.

Denver is where Joyce lives and where we have been staying. She lives in a wonderful old apartment complete with milk chute (!) and  filled with collections of art everywhere your eye lands.  She’s fun and funny and gracious. I feel so lucky and grateful to be here.

I will be leaving tomorrow, heading back home on my own while the Monk flies back to NY.  I am missing my little gang and looking forward to smushing baby cheeks.

The days are running together so fast I have to stop and really focus to remember what day it is and where we were yesterday or two days ago.

This morning we are at the Great Sand Dunes National Park right at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, just off the Cosmic Highway. Though the Monk has given it his best shot, the aliens have not seen fit to take him at this time.

Last night we hiked down to the creek at the base of the Dunes to watch as the sunset painted the sky and dunes all shades of pinks and blues and grays. It was glorious. Being elderly, tired and ill prepared, we didn’t venture up and into the Dunes but there were plenty of people heading up and disappearing into the dark. We didn’t see anyone come out. The Monk thought maybe there was a giant toad on the other side of the Dunes flicking them up into his mouth with his sticky tongue.

Yesterday we drove up to Crestone a small town right at the foot of the Mountains.  One road into the town and out. I felt like I was in a Twilight Zone episode with a really good restaurant called Bliss. There were some interesting  looking characters wandering around.  One reason I wanted to go there was because of the amazing patchwork like rocks I’d seen at Tizia and Paul’s labyrinth in Taos. They’re known as conglomerates and I found one right on the street in town. I also discovered there are about 30 spiritual retreat centers in and around the town. You can come and get so spiritually creamy you probably wouldn’t even notice winter settling in or you would and you would love it. I am pretty sure I would not.

Joyce, a friend of the Monk’s has now joined the party and it’s been great fun being with her.  She has a place in Denver and that’s where we are heading today. I’ll stay a few days there with them and then start my journey home. I am missing those babies and Mr Weepy.

So we made it out of Gallup alive and intact, drove to Albuquerque for a quick coffee and a morning bun and drove on to Santa Fe for lunch. It was early and we thought we could power through and make it to Alamosa, CO by nightfall but I wanted to stop in and at least say hello to an old friend who lives in Taos. 
The drive up from Santa Fe to Taos follows the Rio Grande Gorge, a breathtaking drive. It now ties with Highway 1 Big Sur coast drive for most spectacular drive I’ve ever taken.
My friends live just outside of Taos proper in the most beautiful valley I have ever seen. Down a dirt road, surrounded by mountains, not far from the River they built an Earth Ship house. Part of the house is built into the earth with cans and skinned in adobe, completely off the grid. The house stays cool in summer and warm in winter. He built this with his own hands by himself and it is an amazing work of art. Welcoming and serene, I felt I had dropped into another world.
They are both artists, he is a photographer and she is a painter and healer. They do retreats for Ayurvedic and other therapies.  See here.
That’s Lobo lounging on the sofa and Paul’s book Taos Portraits on the table. A gorgeous book of his photos. See here.
We stayed the night in a beautiful airstream on the property and this morning we all sat meditation before we hit the road. This is me. Restored, renewed, refreshed and grateful. 

I have seen some outstanding sunsets where I live and in Hawaii but last night’s was beyond any I’ve seen before. No camera I have could capture the colors in that sky. The wind suddenly whipped up and my hands were shaking so badly the photo is a bit blurry but here it is anyway. That’s a labyrinth to the right and in front of where the monk sat hoping to be beamed up by aliens.

Lucky for me, they didn’t see fit to take him last night. He makes for such a great traveling companion. Funny, awake and always ready with a story. He chanted almost all the way from Gallup to Taos.

My deepest Thanks and Gratitude to Tizia and Paul for being so welcoming and sharing their magical place with us. May their work and blessings continue and grow and may I be lucky enough to visit again.

Breakfast in Gallup

Meth head at breakfast buffet asks Monk if he likes staying here. Monk says yea it’s really nice but did you know that Gallup has the highest rate of alcoholism in the country? “That’s why we’re here, to address this scourge”, says the Monk.

We rolled into town late yesterday evening and started looking for a hotel. I don’t believe in making reservations. I want to see and feel whats the what before I commit and then I want to think it to death and have someone else make the decision and then second guess them and then go to sleep. It’s worked great so far, especially because the Monk loves making decisions based on some mathematical formula he devises on the spot.
Yesterday the decision was easy. The place we settled on had no cars in the parking lot and as we were rolling through I noticed three very unsavory looking characters walking towards the entrance of the hotel, one walking towards our car making some hand gesture.  I didn’t have to second guess myself on that decision, wondering if the poor man was only asking for food or directions, the Monk backed my play.

The Monk receives Buddhist icons from his congregation. When any congregant dies, their families bring them to the temple for the Monks to “release”.  You don’t just throw them away.  So the Monk is “releasing” them. He brought three or four with him and wants to leave one in each state. So yesterday while looking for and not finding the Grand Canyon, we released one (a beautiful Quan Yin) in some BLM land just outside Walnut Canyon National Park. There were cliff dwellings you could actually hike to! We didn’t, unfortunately,  but we did go to the museum and learned that these Indians did to their environment what we’re doing to ours. Depleting it until there is nothing left and then you have to leave and then you die.

That is not a gas can! It’s the bag he carried the Quan Yin in. He found a beautiful spot in a tree. She looked luminous gazing out at the forest. I couldn’t get a good picture of her.

We press on today to Taos.

Going to Hell

Fine dining in Arizona.

We arrived in Kingman, AZ late yesterday evening after a long day’s drive from LA.
Had a lovely breakfast with my gracious cousins and then hit the road. It’s the Monk’s first time in AZ and he is very attentive and appreciative of the landscape. All those endless miles of nothing but desert as far as your eye can see. I was road drunk when we finally sat down to a meal at the only place we could agree upon. Cracker Barrel.
OMG
I have never been to a Cracker Barrel and when we parked and saw all the rocking chairs on the wide porch the Monk remembered his last experience at a Cracker Barrel in North Carolina where he went with his Hindu Indian friend and a Christian friend of hers. After the meal the Christian friend confessed to feeling a deep sadness because the Monk and her Indian friend were going to burn in hell because neither of them had accepted Jesus Christ as their savior. The Indian friend asked her if all the Aids work the Monk did in Africa, all the hundreds of people he has saved and helped if that counted for nothing and the Christian friend said, nope, he’s still going to hell.
There you have it.
The Cracker Barrel. First off, everywhere I go with the Monk we get stared at as if we were the strangest things to crawl out of some hole anyone has ever seen. He’s 6 feet tall, 200 lbs give or take, and dressed in long gold robes. Mostly people just stare but occasionally some brave soul strikes up a conversation. Like yesterday while on line at a supermarket, the man behind us politely asked what religion he was. I like that.
Anyway, there wasn’t anyone gonna ask at the Cracker Barrel. I’ve never been anywhere so straight up and down white America before. I could feel every eye on us, a hush came over that cavernous place as we walked to our table.  And the food. Oh dear. We’ve been in LA where my cousin is a freakin’ gourmet cook genius and when they took us out it was to farm to table places where the waiter tells you your chickens name and his ancestry. At the Cracker Barrel I’m pretty sure they can give you the sell by dates on the cans if you ask nicely. The Monk was thrilled with all of it of course, especially when they served him an extra root beer float for serving the first one in a broken glass and then a free dessert for giving us the wrong bill. It was the first dessert I’ve ever seen him unable to finish. He says he’s becoming a pussy in his old age.

Looks like a pot pie with gravy and two mashed potato balls to me, but no, it’s apple and caramel and such with ice cream. He brought it back to the hotel and had some for pre-breakfast this morning.
We’re off again this morning, heading east as far as Albuquerque before heading north. Don’t know where we’ll land tonight but wherever it is, I’m voting for Mexican food.

All Happiness

And so it does. 
I’m in LA at my cousin’s house. The Monk is here also and this morning was “the brunch”. We all voted down IHOP, his preferred brunch spot. Instead we went to a sweet little cafe spot that served fresh and wonderful food and made us all happy.
We came home and everyone drifted into their own space. I sat and listened to my book and worked my knitting while the Monk watched a horror movie in his room and did his beading, my cousin watched the US get beat by Belgium in another room and I could hear my other cousin blowing his horn in his study.  We came together for a swim in the pool and a soak in the jacuzzi where we talked about movies and the Monk asked what we are doing to replenish the 25,000 breaths we take each day. He wants us to plant trees and make compost. 
My cousins are so gracious and elegant and serene. Their home is a sanctuary. A perfect place to begin our road trip.