Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Last Day in Bozeman

It is Wednesday morning; we are still in Bozeman, MT. Michael has not been in much of a rush to leave, once again demonstrating that we live on Michael's timing. Sometimes, this can be extremely stressful for me, especially since I spent all of Sunday preparing food for our auto trip, finalizing the laundry, cleaning the apartment and packing things for the car.

But I should not use this forum to complain and instead, remember here, all of the benefits of spending two extra days in Bozeman. In a way, I could relax, because on Tuesday evening we went to Bozeman Hot Springs, where Michael gave me another long, meditative Watsu. When he is treating me to this soothing water dance, I can feel his body de-stress. The very act of giving a Watsu treatment to another gives Michael a focused calm and caring attitude. It is nice to see him so relaxed.

We also had a chance to go out to eat with another couple, who came down from Edmonton, Alberta. This is the first socializing that I did since I arrived in Bozeman. It was a treat to not prepare a meal, and to sit under the Montana sky at an outdoor cafe. I had a delicious French Onion Soup which gave me a severe tummy ache. I had to return home asap. Fortunately for Artemisia Herbs, I was able to take the Digestive Aid formula, which promptly resolved my issues. I slept well last night and am ready to pack the car and get ready to head out to Red Lodge, Montana.

Also, by staying in Bozeman for two extra days, I was able to witness a harsh rain storm move through the area, dumping marble-sized hail everywhere. Prior to the rainstorm, the air was hot and difficult. As soon as the storm passed, I felt the immediate refrigeration of the air and the contrast of a summer afternoon turned into clear evidence that fall has arrived.

During the afternoon, I also made the decision to register for Ipsalu Level-4 program to be held in Joshua Tree, California. That comes in October. I have a forty-day Kali mantra practice to do leading up to the workshop.

With the stress involved with not heading out on Monday, I again visited the Hill Botanicals, and herbalist/herb shop in downtown Bozeman. I took a few photos with the camera, not my iPhone. I also bought more herbs and was able to have a brief follow-up visit with the herbalist. In the near future, I hope to post photos and tell about my excellent consultation with the herbalist at Hill Botanicals.

Today, I believe is a travel day. We have an overnight planned in Red Lodge, Montana. We are also planning to stop at Valley View Hots Springs in Colorado. It is at the Northern edge of the Sandia Mountains. After a night at Valley View, we should be home in Santa Fe.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Train Travel in the United States

My friends are often amazed that I regularly use Amtrak as a method of transportation to crisscross the U.S. Usually I use the train as an easy way to get out of New Mexico and to places like Southern California or back to the Midwest. It is relatively easy travel, if one is able to manage the comfort level of sitting in one place for a journey that can take more than a day.

Even though I take a book and my mala, I often find myself looking out of the window to watch quiet country sides, rural rivers, cornfields and sleepy morning towns with their old pick up trucks and run down cafes.

As Karen LR of Sew and Sow Life wrote on a previous blog, "i love the perspective of seeing the backsides of towns, and other off the beaten track parts of the country." It is true. I love seeing the vibrant gardens of large home properties that line the fencerow along the railroad tracks. Some gardens look to be planted and maintained by careful planners who want to express a hello to travelers who pass by their lots. Irresistible iris patches, joyous gladiolas and perfect peony beds all thoughtfully planted for the delight of train travelers. I've even had glimpses of meticulously placed and tidy outhouses, complete with arbors of old climbing roses or morning glories.

Not only can one see gardens everywhere, but from a seat on the train, the traveler can see woodpiles, some stacked with a precise geometry, other piles looking haphazard between house and garage. Among the gardens and woodpiles, there are at times old trucks, wasting farm implements and folk sculptures built from worn and salvaged motorcycle parts. This is the countryside and backsides of towns that one can see in these United States.

Last year, in early December, I traveled from Albuquerque to Palm Springs by rail. The passenger train went through the industrial railyards of the Southwestern U.S. In some of the railyards, I was privy to a view of the front yards of broken down men and women who made their shanty town style homes between the train tracks and dilapidated warehouses. That December day was one of those windy days with a crude wind and a late afternoon sunset made violent by the approaching rain clouds. From my seat on the train, I saw groups of people huddled around shared fires. Their ragged tents and canvas lean-to shelters serving as their homes during the approaching winter. I could not identify a meticulous outhouse.

Besides looking out of the window while traveling by train, I enjoy eating my own home-made meals. Before I leave, I plan my carry-aboard meals and snacks. Usually I have an evening meal, a snack for late night, a simple breakfast and an afternoon snack. Sometimes, I carry beer or wine to enhance my dining and travel experience. As a coach passenger, it is not allowed to bring alcohol since Amtrak expects passengers to purchase alcohol from the cafe vendor. But I like to have my own beer or wine. It helps to make the trip more relaxing.

It is not difficult to travel by train. Since I have more time than money, it often suits me to travel alone and use the train. The slow movement of the train gives me a clear sense of being a traveler. Although it is possible to see into the back sides of sleepy towns, it is also possible to reflect on why I call myself a mystical gypsy.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Under the Montana Sky

I left my Stevens Point hermitage to meet Michael at his hermitage in Bozeman. Compared to our household in Santa Fe, we each have a place to get away where it is quiet and we do not have a non-stop revolving door of friends coming into our living space. Neither hermitage has a television or endless series of ways to connect to the internet. At the hermitage, we don't listen to radio and we take turns connecting to the internet. This gives Michael much needed time to work on his projects and it gives me time for chanting and reading. It gives both of us time to have long discussions, eat every meal together and cuddle together at bedtime. Here, we savor our intimate quiet time.

Our days here have been simple. The Bozeman Food Coop is within walking distance. We are close to the university and are an easy walking distance to downtown dining and shopping. Although we went out to eat once, I'm enjoying the intimacy of simple meals at the small cafe table in our kitchen. It is quiet here, except for the occasional whooping of a returning college student.

On Monday, we went to Bozeman Hot Springs. I spent time soaking in the sulfur waters which seemed to make my skin respond favorably. Michael also found a quiet place in the perfect temperature swimming pool to give me a tender and nurturing Watsu. The hot springs are indoors. It is a place where I can be in the waters but not be exposed to the threatening sunlight.

I titled this post, "Under the Montana Sky," but for the most sunny part of the day, I stay inside. To avoid the sun, I do not venture out except to hang the sheets or take them off the line. By staying out of the sunlight, even indirect sun, the redness of the rash around my mouth is finally experiencing some relief.

Here in Montana, I do not have any projects started. My days are simple. There is no canning of vegetables or mashing fruits for jams or jellies, or gathering flowers for tea. There are no expectations to attend to a social or be available for friends. We've been gone so long that our Santa Fe friends don't even contact us anymore. With that, it is extremely peaceful under these Montana Skies.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Saying Goodbye To My Hermitage

In a few short minutes my ride will arrive to take me to the bus station. I'll be traveling on Jefferson Bus Lines, across the northern section of the Heartland, headed to Bozeman. Michael has been working in Montana most of the summer. I will meet him there before returning to Santa Fe.

Reluctantly, I leave my little Church Street hermitage, affectionately known as "the Church Street Ashram."

Monday, August 15, 2011

New Week Ramblings & Subliminal Recipe

I noticed that I have a total of six followers to the Mystical Gypsy Blog. In the beginning, I had the intention of creating a blog that would allow me to enhance and generate my on-line writing skills. Part of the intention included learning to use the various tools that make one's blog interesting, interactive and inviting. To this day, I feel negligent with achieving my intended goal. But maybe I'm just slow at coming around to making it happen.

I've been following some spectacular blogs here at Google's Blogger. Most are highly creative in content including writing, photography, links, blogging resources and the other followers who have their own blogs. If I do not control myself, I can be lost in reading blogs for more than four hours. Like others who surf the net, I can begin reading a blog about natural healing in rural Vermont, and end up looking at a blog related to weasel fighting in Ireland. Don't ask; it just happens.

Just as I can wander reading the blogs of others', I wander with where I am going with this particular entry. My intention was to confess that I have little to offer and not much worth following. I noticed I have a difficult time writing in a public manner. I feel slightly shy, much like Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon character. I want to open each blog with, " It was a quiet week here at the hermitage in Stevens Point."

I've been back to my hermitage for less than two weeks. I came here because I've been suffering with facial eczema and a severe physical reaction to the sun. I asked Michael if I could abandon him in Montana while I returned to Santa Fe. After three weeks in Santa Fe, I felt I a magnetic pull to return to Wisconsin. Somehow, I thought I could manage my condition easier if I had some solitude, very little sun, easy access to my acupuncturist and minor distractions to my yoga, pranayama and chanting practices.

When I returned to Wisconsin, everything seemed so loud and annoying. After a strong storm with heavy rain and straight-line winds, the sound of chainsaws can be heard in most yards in this college town. Last week's approaching full moon inspired our newest neighborhood couple to loudly argue with foul and abusive language. Most everyone on this block was disturbed by their nightly physical and verbal fights. For me, I had to endure their disregard for my backyard, which they used as their personal parking space. When I requested that they no longer use my yard for their cars, they were upset and abusive to me that I would suggest such an inconvenience to them, since I have no car of my own.

I love to cook. Seasonal produce from Central Wisconsin is coming into incredible abundance. On Saturday, I made a paella over a dung and twig fire. One of my neighbors could smell the fire and said that my yard smelled like household cooking in India. My dinner guest, who just returned from a SEVA-inspired trip to Liberia, was intrigued with my resolve to cook with a non-traditional cooking fuel. I reminded him that dung and a handful of twigs is a traditional cooking fuel, but as Americans, we are quite removed from what is traditional and practical.

On Sunday, I made moussaka from my CSA box. It was loaded with eggplant, Yukon Golds, bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, celery, parsley, oregano, basil and too many zucchini. Using as much as possible, I made an enormous pan of moussaka. The red sauce created without recipe, but only with the inspiration of the contents of the CSA box. The white sauce created from cooked and pureed cannellini beans with sauteed onions and too much garlic. As I am trying to stay away from dairy, I used about two ounces of cheese at the end of baking, letting the cheese melt into the top of the layered potatoes, eggplant and zucchini bake. Eggs were omitted. It was good and well worth the time it took to prepare and finally assemble the various layers. My friend Mark, who shares the CSA box with me, brought over a bottle of Rose` that went well with eating, conversation and sitting on the porch on a Sunday evening.

It is a quiet start to the week. The abusive neighbors moved out between Saturday and Sunday. The Mourning Doves are cooing with renewed contentment. The dogs around the block are relieved of their nervous barking. My kitchen door opens to a peaceful and wildly growing backyard green space. The moon is waning while autumn sneaks a kiss with summer.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Travel Day

I have a strong urge to see my original acupuncturist.

Photos: Train station in Lamy, NM and train lunch.