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Posts Tagged ‘tea’

I used to not be a TV watcher. In fact, my television is probably one of the smallest ones you can purchase these days, and unless the kids are home, the TV is almost never on. Except I’ve found myself looking forward to, craving, wanting to find myself in front of the TV in the evenings to watch a group of mischievous old men concoct scheme after delightfully humorous scheme to amuse themselves and those in their village.

They treat each other jovially with playful disrespect, but also caring watching their backs and covering their tracks.

Never have I witnessed a group of friends I’d most like to be a part of…that’s even counting the Mamma Mia’s trio. These men wonder the countryside or have a drink at the pub and toast that hated manager they couldn’t stand who quit the co-op to join the marines during the war only to end up dead, but honored by the men who couldn’t stand him.

Their humanity isn’t sterile or stuffy, rather it seems so crisp and clean and joyful and honest, even as they pull practical joke after practical joke thinking their tricking the people who know them as well as they know themselves.

I envy them that.

I don’t know my neighbors. I know quite a few people in my City, but not so well that I could watch their back or claim an intimacy. In fact, now that I think about it, I couldn’t claim close friends the way they do.

Mostly I admire the way that amidst their days and schemes, they always have time to consider each other, to listen, to raise a glass…of caffeine or beer for each other’s health, happiness and harmony.

I think about my stressful days and about the lives of the people around me. Time to consider, to listen or even to scheme don’t exist. You might say there’s time to raise a glass, but it’s usually squeezed between two other meetings so that you spend half your time watching your watch and that’s after showing up late because of traffic, or trying to squeeze too many things in to too little time.

I drive home hoping I make it home in time to watch the Last of the Summer Wine only to find myself listening to several stories on the news about obesity, about the nation’s mental health crisis, about the rise of fractured families…and I wonder, could my interest in beverages actually be the answer?

It seems it might be.

But how do you share that with others?

Easily! I think to myself…share a glass or a mug or a cup with someone. Do it every day. Do it twice a day. Make it last, and make it matter.

That’s easier said than done though.

I go home, make dinner with my daughter and deal with household paperwork, dog duties, phone calls and other client emails until my daughter shouts from the other room, “it’s on!”

Then I pour myself a snakebite and curl up with her and the dogs to watch Truelove, Hardcastle and Smedley at the local pub taking turns convincing Marina that her teenage love now haunts the outback of Australia wrestling crocodiles as he nurses his broken heart over her indiscretions from 50 years earlier…just so their friend Howard will hopefully better understand the mysterious ways of the female, and cool his heels, if only for a while.

I think about my evenings spent in pubs convincing and consoling and counselling and realize all I lack is fellow schemers.

I watch the women sipping tea at the shop talking about how working yourself to worry leaves you anxious and old and usually broke and wish I had the counsel of women who could see my situation clearly and give it to me straight over a cup of steaming infusion. Too bad I had to cancel my tea time this week with just two ladies over client needs.

The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced it’s not so difficult. Perhaps all it really takes is an invitation to start.

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For me, everything starts with tea. My day, my gratitude, my joy. My love of liquids.

It’s true, I love to drink.

But let me be clear, this is no college drunken overindulgence I speak of…or rather write about. This love of liquid is more like a reverent meditation. And it starts with tea every morning.

There’s something about that first sip when the heat travels from my lips down my throat, near my heart and lungs and settles in my stomach. It’s like a match that starts the fire of my curiosity, my energy, my life each day. And each day, I close my eyes in those moments, smile and send up a prayer of gratitude for the tea plants, the tea plantations, the tea harvesters and all those who know how to take these plants and turn them into the dried leaves that turn my hot water into this moment.

So this afternoon when I opened my email to find a message from another writer about having tea with a Daoist monk and the monk said “tea can only change you if you create a sacred space in your heart for the tea,” I knew it was a sign. I also knew that somewhere along my life, tea had already changed me. Just the thought of a tea in a sacred space makes me smile. I can’t stop smiling even thinking about it now.

And this evening, as I once again distressed over the meaning and purpose in my life, and wondered if I had the courage to pursue my dreams of a life in liquids, I found nothing but smiles and solace in the thought of my sacred tea space.

I know many of you readers joined me when I dreamed about owning a vineyard. That dream hasn’t died, nor has it changed. It’s just a little farther off than I’m prepared to handle right now. But a life in liquids—that is, integrating myself into a world where liquids are understood and promoted and appreciated—that’s where I’m headed.

Unlike my mornings, this life won’t start with tea, it will start with wine. Ohio wines, to be exact, but appreciating wines to be more general, and appreciating the wine environment to be more precise. It will include beer as the brewery cooperative of which I’m a member opens and the Dublin Pub remains a second office and home and the model for where I wish to be when I’m free to live abroad.

In this life in liquid, I’m going to try to learn to like coffee, true coffee, Turkish coffee, Arabic coffee, Italian coffee. Because I already love the environment of coffee, the comfy chairs, the warmly painted walls, the soft jazz playing as people read and talk and share ideas. And the smell.

Then there’s water. My life in liquids must include water. Mainly because some of my best moments are spent on the water. And because my city is built on water…not like many known for their water, but in a more conservational, aquiforous way that means a whole lot to the nature I so love in my d’Anconia Square and beyond. Also because our world will soon face a crisis in water they say, and I don’t want to even imagine what that life would be like.

Through it all, there will always be tea, for I don’t believe I could function without it. And I don’t even want to try. What would be the point of waking up and pursuing any life then?

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About 30 minutes to the Illinois border, Meg needed to stop. I needed a hot tea–not because I’m tired, but because I enjoy it.

The girls working at the McDonalds are acne ridden with too much makeup and snarly, hickish voices. One girl, who held the door open for us as she headed off duty with her uniform shirt unbuttoned and her cleavage on display, busted back in to the brightly lit store almost immediately as if she was about to burst.

Loudly she announced that “Oh my gawd! Shannon is in jail!”

The store screeched to a halt.

“Some guy was spitting on her car, and she said ‘do that again and I’ll hit ya.’ The guy said ‘I’d like to see that.’ So she hit him with a baseball bat.”  She paused and excitement, rather than horror, was writen all over her face.  “My cousin she’s such a bad ass!,” the girl exclaimed in admiration and with poor grammar.

I peered curiously at the rest of the clients in the order line.  The older woman in front looked disgusted.  My daughters looked stunned.  The guys in front of me looked delighted…or maybe all that was registering were her half exposed breasts.

The manager looked horrified.  I couldn’t tell if it was because of the news, or because of the drama in the store. I hoped it was the latter.

A group of older people behind me just looked leathery, as if they had stood out in a dust storm and if I wiped my finger down each of their cheeks, a layer of dirt would wipe off revealing ivory skin beneath. They seemed unphased by the drama.

As I turned around I saw the manager sneak out the door with the excited girl.

We ordered and hurried back to the silence and darkness of my car, but not before we saw them on cell phones outside of the store chattering like hens. They paused when we walked by, watching us as we went, then resumed as we got in the car.  Girls.

As we got on the highway, I smelled my tea. It was to hot to drink, but suddenly it was as if I was in my parents garage on a cold, rainy winter’s day. My mom was having a garage sale, and I had offered to help watch over the merchandise. I enjoyed watching the people look and pick at the items my parents wish to be rid of. Old purses and jewelry, used tools and appliances, empty picture frames and clothes spread out over aluminum folding tables covered in white paper table coverings. I didn’t want to leave despite my mom’s urging it that is was too cold to stay out.

My dad brought me my first cup of tea. “Drink it,” he said equal parts amused and gruff. “It will warm you up.” I smelled my tea then as I did just now, but perhaps more suspiciously. Its bitter flavor was not appealing then. I added milk to it…and sugar. It was too sweet.

I wonder when I started liking tea? I think about it, but I don’t remember.

We’re getting close to Peoria, and I’m still not tired.  The sky is dark, except for a halo over a town on the horizon.

Meg is asleep after a valiant battle to stay awake. Kate is learning to spell “suspiciously” and do math (miles to time conversion).

It smells like burnt rubber as we pass through champagne. My tea is almost gone…and so are many more miles as I make my way to you.

-M

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