Backtrack: White Mountains and Blue Skies

September 5 and 6

This is a backtrack to September 5, after my visit to Annie. As you may remember I was heading for Vermont and Suzann Duquette.

White Mountains

The day before I left Annie’s, I’d had my 80-km check (about 1000 km later) of the Buick’s “torque.” I’d had the front struts and a tie rod replaced, which seemed to require a torque check on whether or not the lug nuts on the wheels would fall off. (When else could I write a sentence like that and know what I mean?) All was fine, so I felt secure enough to tackle the back roads of Maine, following Foley’s instructions, and then head through the White Mountains of New Hampshire to Vermont.

Still in the mode of taking my time, I saw some amazing rocks by the side of the road and my rock photo project began. I’m just putting one in now, because this post is going to be more illustrative than most.

Then feeling adventurous I stopped at Wildcat Mountain Ski and Sports park. Those who know me, know I’m not what you might call a sport nut. I got some interesting water pics (not the kind for your teeth) and decided to ride the gondola.


The ticket and “lodge” area smelled incredibly pungent, like an old sweat sock, combined with new plastic. (Oh, my god, I just saw a water plane take off from a lake. I’m staying at in Ontario!). I decided I didn’t want to ride this other thing, which looked like people were strapped into some kind of harness and shot down a wire from the top of a mountain to the lodge. Too adventurous for me. I can sometimes be affected by vertigo, so thought I’d wait that one out. Didn’t react too badly on the way up. When you’re feeling fearful, it’s a great time to practice taming your mind. So when vertigo arose, I focused on the handle bar and slowed my breathing down. The door was opened at the top by a guy who’s evidently working his way up to getting a gondola job in Colorado where the “real” mountains are. Took a pic of Mt. Washington (not shown here). Looks like a forest-covered mtn, but it’s a famous one in New Hampshire.

I stayed there for a fair amount of time, then headed to Vermont, following Suzann’s directions (still think of her as Dapön B though — a kasung rank — “kasung means “command” protector”, it’s Buddhist; it’s complicated).

Blue Skies Guest House

I found the guest house without getting lost (thanks to handwritten directions). It’s a white farmhouse set in a little valley, nicely landscaped in that it’s not too tame and not too wild. When I walked through the back door into the kitchen, I saw a framed poem written by the Sakyong on the occasion of Suzann and Jan’s marriage. In wandering through to the living room I was struck by the amazing number of thankas (Tibetan paintings of dieties) of just about everyone we’re familiar with, Shiwa Ökar, Rigden kings, White Tara – must have been at least 10. Don’t recall seeing any wrathful types, though maybe they weren’t for viewing in the guest part of the house. There were “Asian” rugs and comfortable furniture, a nice sun room where I had a T and T (Tanqueray and Tonic for the non-Brit fanciers). There was a beautiful samurai helmet on a table by the stairs heading up to the guest rooms that was given to Suzann as a thank you for her service as Director of Karmê Chöling.

Wasn’t able to access wireless though, so that’s why you didn’t hear from me about this stop sooner. They did have a cable modem, but I’d have to have unplugged Suzann’s computer in her office and I didn’t want to impose.

They invited me to dinner (which is not a part of the ordinary service!), mostly vegetarian (except for the chicken. Hmmm) cooked by Jan, who works up at Karmê Chöling as the gardener. Born in the Netherlands, he has a lovely Dutch accent and is an excellent cook.

After dinner, we watched “Freedom Writers,” and had fun guessing the next plot turn. Suzann was right every time.

Slept really well on some kind of an air mattress (not the usual kind, but one that with loud noises you can adjust to your preferred firmness. The pillows were the best I’ve ever slept on. Didn’t have to plump them up or beat them down.

In the morning had a filling breakfast of pretty good oatmeal (with dried cranberries it looked like) and a soft boiled egg. After breakfast, while packing up, I talked a while with Jan. It gently rained on one side of the house (on my car) and a rainbow appeared on the other. Jan said he’d been hoping for rain, but not on that side. He’s been having to water the Karmê Chöling gardens by hand every day. We talked about the tent caterpillars that I’d been seeing in Maine of which there were several examples to be seen out of the dining room window. He said they didn’t actually kill the trees, but came out in August when the trees were at their strongest, sucked the energy out for a few months and then died off. He said they were in the sixth year of a six-year cycle that hopefully will see them died back next year. He also said that if I’d examined one of the nests closely, I would have seen zillions of crawly larvae milling together. Glad I didn’t get too close.


So, I highly recommend Blue Skies Guest House. It only cost $54.50 (an odd amount, but that’s the 9% VT tax) for the night. They are relying on the word-of-mouth trade, primarily sangha. The address is 136 Church Street, Barnet, Vermont 05821. (802) 633-2320.

Samadhi Cushions and KarmeCholing

I stopped by Samadhi Cushions on my way out of town (only about three doors down from Blue Skies. When I first drove in to a parking lot the sign said “Closed.” By the time I got out of my car and went to the door, it said “Open.” I’d been seen by Ric Walter’s eagle kasung eye. He looked kind of shocked when I walked in. He’d evidently just read my first two posts the night before and I guess didn’t quite expect to see the live version walking in. Quite cool for me though, knowing someone’s actually reading these. A fan? Gad. No, he wasn’t sleeping well, so decided to read his email. He wanted to check out the Buick Park Ave (my Mom’s car) and  check out  my backseat made up as a snooze spot.

Bought a calendar and a red silk Chinese kind of blouse and was able to show Sumner (the proprietor with a very flat affect – otherwise known as “inscrutable” in our community) my cards, including my latest of the year of the earth rat, coming up. Suzann liked them anyway. (One of my earth rats was too realistic looking for most.  You can see it in the Tibetan Astrology section on the page about “legends”.

I Left after making my purchases and decided I had to drop by Karmê Chöling, since it was only five minutes away. His Eminence,  Namkha Drimed Rabjam Rinpoche, had just been there teaching on Powa for three (or four?) days, which meant he did four (or five?) sessions per day, beginning at 6:30 am. The whole Ripa family came, so it must have been quite the zoo. Khandro Rinpoche (one of the very few female “Rinpoches” and an amazing person) was to arrive that day and begin another seminar, so everyone was quite busy.
If you want to know who Namkha Drimed  and family are click on the link.

Ruth Snow (see photo) was detailed to give me a tour. Her mom was a coordinator of the Khandro Rinpoche program. Ruth was quite good, rather inscrutable I thought, though with good affect. I didn’t stay for lunch, thought I’d best get on (as you will know that was the day I made it all the way to the other side of Ottawa).

Below is as close as I got to the Cirque de Soleil. It’s called the Cirque du Cheval (I think that means horse circus — it does, check out the link). It wasn’t open. Dang.



That’s about it for those two days. I’ll catch up to present time next.