Architecture Meets Nature

On a recent road trip to Spring Green, Wisconsin, the home of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin, I explored The House on the Rock, an amazing design created by Alex Jordan Jr.  According to history, Jordan shared his architectural vision with Wright who scoffed at him saying he wouldn’t trust him to build a “cheese crate or chicken coop,” which led Jordan to build the house on the rock out of anger.

Although the house now has numerous attractions and collections to investigate, I found the original Japanese style house built into the rocks mesmerizing.  Giant metal cooking pots hang in the rock enclosed kitchen and red velvet couches are nestled discretely within dark wooden libraries built into the sandstone rock, making it a haven for those seeking to combine architecture and nature in a way that inspires the mind and nurtures the heart.

One of my favorite places in the house is a walkway that becomes narrower and narrower and eventually comes to a dead end with a bridge to nowhere that leaves you suspended in midair.

With the exception of tourists, the House on the Rock feels magical and restorative and provides an interesting adventure into the world of architecture and nature.  The Japanese style water garden is tranquil and is both a starting point and ending point on the self guided tour.  Local history about Frank Lloyd Wright is fascinating and provides a great day out for a mix of architectural history combined with nature elements.

https://www.thehouseontherock.com/

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The Arizona Experience

I arrived in Phoenix at 10:00pm on August 4, 2019, the temperature was 94 degrees.  Luckily for me, I was flying up to the White Mountains the next morning where the temperatures were about 25 degrees cooler due to higher elevation.

Being back in a familiar place, I realized how much I had missed the mountains.  I loved the smell of ponderosa pine trees in the dry arid winds of Northeastern Arizona.  Back in the Midwest, summer was sweltering with high humidity.  The change in scenery was welcoming.  I often feel the need to leave home to find inspiration and to see the world with new eyes.  Although I had moved away from Arizona, I felt in a way that I had come home.

I had traveled back for a work assignment and decided to bring my new husband of one month and one week.  Together we explored familiar and unfamiliar trails, hiking rocky mountain paths around lakes and forests.  Our nights were spent at a local motel called Antler’s Inn where we played evening games of horseshoes and sat around a campfire watching the sunset into the mountain sky.

The trip provided a welcoming relief from everyday stressors.  I often encourage other people to travel and explore.  Life can easily become mundane and dull.  Although the White Mountains are not a new place or destination for me, they sparked and ignited my senses again through sights, sounds, and tastes.

Sometimes going away from home makes us homesick, and sometimes going away, brings us back.

 

 

 

 

Mustard Madness

I recently stumbled upon the National Mustard Museum when visiting Middleton, Wisconsin.  I entered the building with little to no expectations but was delighted to find out that I could taste test any of the hundreds of mustards from over 60 counties.

I began tasting curry mango, dill and garlic, and black truffle, and then moved onto some of the fruitier mustards.  I have always been a mustard lover and connoisseur but had no idea how many different types of mustards actually existed.  I left with a small selection of samples and had fun creating new recipes at home.

Always looking for something new and different to do, the National Mustard Museum proved to be a fun exploration into the diverse and tasteful world of mustard!

For more info:

https://mustardmuseum.com/

Humane Cuisine

Does it matter to you where your food comes from? Do you prefer local produce over food that has to be shipped from a distance?  Does the quality of life of the animal you eat matter?

Farmers markets are again popular selling produce that is organic in nature.  Grocery stores give the choice of grass-fed beef and cage free eggs.  People no longer want animals that are pumped full of antibiotics or hormones, yet many people are still unaware of the effects of veal farming.

Having grown up in the Midwest, I have witnessed the impact on baby calves.  Immediately upon birth, they calf is taken away from its mother and placed in a tiny confined shelter where it has no space to move. it suffers a daily life of confinement beyond what any living being should experience.  I struggle to understand how ethically as a nation we can continue to allow inhumane farming practices to continue.  As a caring person who respects and values all living beings, I struggle to understand why anyone would choose to eat an animal that suffered to end up on their plate.  I also question why inhumane animal practices have not been banned in the United States.

I’m not against people eating meat, but I believe that all animals deserve to live the best life possible, to have space to roam, fresh air to breathe and clean natural foods to eat.

I spent 12 years living in England where Mad Cows Disease developed due to cattle and young calves being fed meat and bone meal that contained the remains of other cattle.  I remember watching the news reporting people dying in hospitals and thousands of cows being burned in large bonfires.  The results of tampering with what should have been a cow’s natural diet was catastrophic ending in death of both people and animals.

As a health-conscious person who cares about what you eat, where your food comes from, and what goes in it, please think about the animals and what kind of life they lived when you purchase your meat whether it’s from a grocery store or fast food chain.  Confinement, poor nutrition and trauma result in bad energy, and then the meat is consumed, possibly ending with poor health.

We are what we eat…

 

 

 

Costa Rican Raw

Cocoa has commonly been known as the “Drink of the Gods”, and has been around for more than one thousand years.  Most people have a passion for chocolate or cocoa but have not had the experience of seeing this exotic bean in its raw and natural form.

On a previous trip to a Costa Rican Organic Echo Farm, I had the opportunity to walk the grounds of the plantation, which consisted of over 300 trees that were over 30 years old.

The process begins with roasting and grinding the fermented cocoa beans.  The grinding process uses an ancient stone, “metate” which has been carved by indigenous people out of volcanic rock from a nearby volcano.  Once grinding is completed, a variety of New World ingredients such as Vanilla, Jamaica or Allspice, Spicy Chile, and Achiote or Annatto are selected or you can stick to your more basic European milk and sugar drink or chocolate bar.

Finca Luna Nueva offers a variety of organic and experiential experiences for those who are seeking a raw and natural experience.

For more information:

http://fincalunanuevalodge.com

The Art of Detachment

I recently had the experience of watching Tibetan Monks create a beautiful mandala out of colored sand.  The Mandala is a symbol of the universe, created in a circular shape to represent universal connection.

After creating the mandala for several days or weeks, the monks mindfully and meticulously wipe the sand away, representing detachment as the lesson.

In life, we are continually faced with letting go, whether it be to a job, a relationship, or an unresolved issue or problem.  By holding on, the Tibetan concept is that we suffer, and suffering causes pain.

Unless practiced, detachment can be a difficult thing to do.  Think of something in your life that you can say goodbye to, let go of, or detach from.  What are you holding onto that is causing you pain, creating suffering or preventing you from truly being happy?

The art of detachment begins with acknowledgment of what is causing suffering, then making the conscious choice to release and let go.  Impermanence is a fact of life.  Today embrace what brings you joy and happiness, as no one is guaranteed tomorrow.  Through the art of detachment, we can free ourselves from unhealthy suffering and be in the present moment, a beautiful lesson from Tibetan teachings.

Super 8 Hotels, Chinese Food and Cat Smuggling

There are adventures and then there are adventures…

I recently took a long road trip across the southwest with a good friend of mine.  The trip was not planned out, but more of a quick spontaneous trip that allowed us the freedom to stop anywhere we wanted along the way, which included dive hotels, the world of junk food and other unexpected finds along the way, including Pie Town, New Mexico.

With no itinerary, we drove as far as we could each day, traveling approximately 10 hours or more until we were too tired to continue, stopping at Super 8 Hotels and eating Chinese food along the way. The first night in Texas was fine, the hotel was good, the Chinese food mediocre.  The second night in Kansas the hotel was filthy, and the Chinese food was superb. The 3rd night was uneventful and unmarkable.

We were hoping to reach our destination of 1700 miles on the third day, but due to a snowstorm, we were forced to stay in a hotel another night.  This time, we just pulled off the freeway and found a relatively new hotel to stay in.

I had driven almost 13 hours that day and there were no other hotels nearby so I made the decision to sneak my cat into the hotel, thinking that if they did not accept pets that we would have to drive on ice covered roads in search of another hotel.  Normally I would never do this, but I was physically and emotionally exhausted so I put my cat into his carrier and quietly snuck him into my hotel room.

An hour later, I decided to order Chinese food and hungrily waited for the delivery person to arrive.  After about 30 minutes, I heard a knock on my door.  I quickly put my cat into the bathroom and shut the door.  I paid for my food, set my dinner down and tried to open the door to let my cat out, but the door wouldn’t open.  I realized it was locked!  I started to freak out. I continued to try to work on the lock but nothing worked.  I started to panic as I knew I had to call the woman at the front desk to open the door and she would know that I had snuck my cat into the hotel.

I dreaded making the call but told the woman that my bathroom door was locked.  She thought that was odd.  I thought what kind of crazy hotel would put a lock on the outside of a bathroom door!  The woman came to my room with a large keyring full of keys.  I knew I had to tell her before my cat came out of the bathroom that he was in there.  She tried six or seven different keys, none of them worked. I started panicking.  I eventually said, “My cat’s in there.”  I thought she heard me but she didn’t respond other than to say that none of the keys were working.

Eventually, the last key turned the lock and Lucky, my cat strolled out.  She looked down and said, “Oh, you have a cat.”  I said yes, this chain is pet-friendly right?  She said, “No, no it isn’t.” I swallowed deeply and was thinking about what to do or say, when she said, “It’s ok.  I only make $11.00 an hour.  You can keep your cat, but you will have to sneak him out in the morning because the manager will be here.”

Relieved, I calmed down, ate my Chinese food and fell asleep.  The next morning my friend called me to ask me if the manager had knocked on my door.  I said, “No why?” He said that the manager had just knocked on his door.  I panicked and hung up on my friend and put my cat into his carrier and got him out of the hotel as fast as I could.  My friend later told me that he had left his door open and the manager was only inquiring if he had checked out.  I laughed and wanted to strangle him at the same time.

After a trip of 1700 miles, 4 days of hotels and Chinese food and cat smuggling. I made the decision to never try to smuggle my cat again into a hotel again. I also developed a strong addiction to dive hotels and Chinese food.