Our cat Sandor

Sandor Cat in 2009

By mid-April my wife and I were ready for a break. In the first week, I had played two live shows, on the 1st and 7th. If that wasn’t hectic enough, that same week we bade farewell to one of our two 16-year-old cats. Sandor had gone blind six weeks earlier, and dwindled away with either an infection or tumor in the brain. Fortunately, he didn’t suffer too much, and we were awakened in the middle of the night to be with him when he left. His journey toward humanity continues.

The March 25 Chicago Tribune featured a full-page article about the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center. Founded by the Dalai Lama’s older brother in the 1970s, the center is located just outside of Bloomington, Indiana.

Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center - temple building

The largely-forested, 108-acres center features four traditional yurts (eight-sided cottages), which are available for rental. We live in the city out of necessity, but would live in the forest if we could. Right after Sandor left us, we booked a four-day weekend.

A yurt (Tibetan cottage)

Buddhism isn’t our path, but the Dalai Lama’s mission includes promoting harmony among different faiths, which has always attracted us. The friendly staff at this center don’t care what path you’re on – their concern is making the place more and more attractive, and making guests feel completely welcome. Shout-outs here, with many thanks, to Patricia, Mike and a gentleman whose name I didn’t get, with whom we had nice conversations.

Prayer Wheels at TMBCC, Bloomington IN

We tramped in the woods, took many photos, watched the large koi fish swimming in their pond, captured field recordings of crickets, birds, wind, singing bowls, bells and chimes, relaxed most of the time, and made lots of fresh juice. My wife is madly in love with our new juicer… for my part “I do think it’s good”.

Buddha figure with offerings

A major storm ripped through this area a year ago, evidenced by the dozens of downed trees we saw – some of them huge. I picked up a good oak branch out of which I hope to extract two good pairs of claves.

Greg M with downed tree at TMBCC, Bloomington IN

One high point of the weekend, for us, was the weekly Sunday afternoon vegetarian lunch. Good food, company and conversation.

Stupa at TMBCC, Bloomington IN

Another highlight here is the sand mandala, housed in a stupa. I hoped to get a good photo of the entire piece directly from above but, because the shape of the space – and the daylight – were problematic, that would have involved dragging a ladder in there after dark. I just didn’t get around to it. Maybe next time…

Tibetan Sand Mandala at TMBCC, Bloomington IN

We greatly enjoyed hanging out in the temple room with the deity of Lord Buddha. The cultural building, with its library and gift shop, was also a pleasure to visit.

Lord Buddha in the temple room at TMBCC, Bloomington IN

We made a couple of trips to town, for brunch and leisurely browsing in a few shops. The town square features half a dozen art galleries and two cool Ten Thousand Villages-like shops.

Forest at TMBCC, Bloomington IN

We knew, within an hour of arrival, that we would be back as soon as we can manage it. We look forward to seeing the temple’s new entrance garden, work on which was just underway when we visited. Next time I hope to find someone there who plays Go…