Tag Archives: tea

Relaxing peals and dances.

7:00 in the evening, I hear the church bells playing in the neighborhood, as they do a few times a day, on a schedule that is ever the same but at intervals that make us think, “Why now?” It’s always the same few measures of a tune that seems to me very like a setting I know to “The Lord is My Shepherd, I’ll Walk With Him Always.” It is a recorded pealing, but effective at reminding me of the presence of joy.

Today especially I’ve been noticing all the many sounds that waft up to the eighth floor where Kate and Tom live, and where I am staying long enough that it feels natural so say, “…where we live.” Crows and hawks and other birds swoop back and forth all day in the large open area viewed from the dining room, and their voices come in to our space, too, as do those of children in the play yard of the pink convent school you can see in the middle of this photo I took. Those same birds are blocked from nesting on the balcony by that netting you see.

I took the picture when Kareena was washing the only balcony that one can’t access any other way than by climbing through a picture window, so while it was open I grabbed the opportunity.

On the street below, traffic hums and roars and honks constantly. From the balcony off my room I love to watch an intersection where all manner of pedestrians and vehicles are in a continual dance, the players fewer or more as they ceaselessly enter and exit the “stage” in a serene choreography. In India the honking is not angry or agitated, but might be translated, “Let’s all be careful and notice each other! You, lady, walking in front of me, please be aware that I am driving your way; if you keep your speed constant, I promise to clear your tender flesh by at least six inches.”

The pace of life in a household where a three-week-old baby lives should be restful, and ours is wonderfully so. The outdoor sounds are somewhat muted, and plenty of white noise emanates from the various household machines that clean and condition the air and help to keep home as a refuge from the buzzing streets and polluted atmosphere. The tiny boy’s burps and squeaks are my favorite sounds around.

Our outings since the baby arrived have been brief, and not every day. The people who don’t get the sleep they need at night are often able to take naps. Kareena has begun to offer us a cup of masala chai in the late afternoon, and I just might end up making that a habit.

Yesterday afternoon Kate and I sat on the couch for a long time with little Raj, wondering at his constant funny expressions and erratic arm motions, as he lay on her lap looking up into That Face that will soon become most beloved. Kate put on some Bollywood music and the two of them arm-danced for a long time to the lively and happy music.

Some days, this is a good time for Raj to have his bath in the kitchen sink, the one sink in the apartment large enough to easily accommodate his flexible bath cushion while he lounges with an attitude befitting royalty relaxing in a deck chair.

What a life!

Mountain tea, rain, and a little book.

gl P1030396 thyme

It might seem to my friends to make perfect sense, that I would start the new year by reading a book that is about gardening. But I don’t normally enjoy such topics in print, preferring rather to have my own hands in the dirt and my eyes beholding whatever garden the whole of my body is present with. But Inheriting Paradise: Meditations on Gardening by Vigen Guroian drew me in for several reasons:

*It was a Christmas present from Pippin and the Professor, personally chosen for me, and not yet buried in stacks or lost in the large community of other yet-unread books on my shelves.

*Of the books I was gifted with, it is the smallest and shortest, fewer than 100 pages, which makes it easy to read while lying sick in bed (which I have been a little) or anytime before falling asleep in health. This minimalist aspect also leads me to hope that I might be able to stick with the author to the last page. It would be great to restart my Recently Completed list before January is gone.

*I’m familiar with Guroian and have heard him interviewed on the Mars Hill Audio Journal, as he walked around his garden talking about the various plants and about this book.

*I knew that his book was not about gardening as a thing that could be detached from the Giver of Life, but it would also be a book of philosophy and theology, and probably include some good quotes from world literature.


Added to all these is a kind of fellowship with previous owners of this “used” book. On the title page an address label is glued on near the top, showing that Elizabeth A. Weber claimed the book at one time and was willing to leave her mailing address in it. On the next page are both the moving dedication of the author to his wife and a handwritten note from the year of the book’s publication.

Deeper inside were flowers folded in vintage Kleenex. But not too vintage – the book’s copyright is 1999.

I think I will want to share a few quotes from the book with you as I go along. Here is one:

“It is not the gardeners with their planting and watering who count,” writes St. Paul, “but God who makes it grow.” Indeed, we are not only “fellow-workers” in God’s great garden; we ourselves are God’s garden (1 Corinthians 3:7-9, REB). This is the ground of our humility as mere creatures among all other creatures loved by God.

It wasn’t a day to be a fellow-worker in my garden, even to clean up dead flower stalks. I was glad to be indoors, feeling loved by the rain’s healing and blessing. A brief hailstorm added excitement; immediately the nuggets of ice were melting away. I had just come inside from washing off that table when the shower began.


The product of someone else’s gardening or farming efforts came in the form of Macedonian Mountain Tea this afternoon. Mr. and Mrs. Bread tended to me by bringing some to the house to speed my healing. I’m certain this is the same tea I drank cold from a tall glass when I was in Turkey long ago. That was also called mountain tea, or ihlamur.

There seems to be confusion or disagreement in some places (even in my Turkish dictionary) about what constitutes Mountain Tea, but everyone will tell you that it is very healthy. What I am drinking seems to be some kind of Sideritis, if you want to look it up. “Mountain Tea” sounds much more wholesome, though, don’t you think?


To your health!


Green tea was never a favorite of mine until I met genmaicha. Probably iP1120527crpts lack of appeal was a result of my 1) using tea bags rather than loose tea or 2) pouring on water that was too hot or 3) steeping the tea too long…or all of the above. Recently I read that 30 seconds is long enough for green tea, but I’ve always heard that it should definitely be under two minutes. This helps to avoid the astringency I dislike.

In any case, genmaicha has roasted brown rice added to it, which smooths and rounds out the flavor, and has the added benefit of making it seem more of a substantial liquid snack; the article link above mentions that for this reason people like to drink it while fasting. That makes this a Lenten post, don’t you think?

Though I well know tgenmaicha on new plate crphat loose teas are superior, I admit that many tea-times I grab a teabag, and even offer them to guests as a rule. The Choice teabags are pretty good, if you can find them, and I have never tried another green teabag I like near as well.



Recently a goddgenmaicha bagaughter gave me some loose genmaicha from Harney’s Teas, and it is the best I’ve ever drunk. It even looks nice before brewing. This morning I poured my tea into a teacup, which I don’t normally, but I wanted to take its picture, and this setting was nicer. This teacup is one of two remaining pieces of my wedding-gift dishes, Wedgewood Edme.

I can still recall have the image of myself shopping in the housewares section of Robinson’s department store in Santa Barbara after my engagement. I knocked one of the Edme display pieces off the shelf and I don’t remember how far it fell, but the saleswoman came over with a smile and said, “Don’t worry, those are hard to break – they are very sturdy.”

They were certainly the classic, understated and elegant (if not fine china) style that I continue to preedme by wedgewoodfer. I learned that the Queen of England ate her breakfast on Edme. It came to pass that our family did chip, crack or break nearly all of the dishes within a couple of decades, because they were our only dishes. We had five children learning to wash dishes at a young age, and a fairly clumsy mother (me) as well.

As the set was reducing in number I switched to restaurant dishes, and they were nearly unbreakable, but they did wear out and get ugly, and I’ve finally retired them. You can see that the style of my new dishes (the least expensive of all I’ve ever owned, and also the “cheapest”), one of which is holding the loose tea above, hearkens back to that of my first set.genmaicha in edme

But I’m forgetting that I started to write about tea; it’s the contents of the dishes that is most important to me. I not only photographed the tea in the cup, but drank from it. Sustaining and smooth and beautiful.


Tea and Tomatoes

Turkish tea fr Kate 9-2014Kate brought me the most amazing tea from Istanbul. I keep sniffing it and trying to discern what all those exotic smells are — no label tells me anything about it. And I’m kind of afraid to make a pot of tea and end up disappointed, because you know how herbal teas often don’t taste as good as their dry aromas lead you to expect? It  Well, what do I expect, after all that watering down…

P1110230 new mugBut when I do take the plunge, I will drink it out of this new mug I gifted myself with. Big mugs, preferably those that hold a pint, are my favorites, but they usually aren’t so girly looking. When I saw this big and flowery one, there was little deliberating.

Today Mr. and Mrs. C. came over. The guys then went to Starbucks to drink tea and talk, and we “girls” worked in the garden. It reminded me of when I was in Turkey lo these many years ago, and in the villages the men would sit in the café and drink tea and play tavla (backgammon) while the women were out in the olive groves harvesting the fruit.tomatoes peeling 9-14

But today really wasn’t much like that – we also spent quite a while looking at pictures of Kate’s wedding for which Mrs. C. had arranged the flowers, and we talked to the man who delivered a cord of firewood on to our driveway. He is 83 and still does all his own busintomatoes peeled 9-14ess.

Mrs. C. is always glad to take cuttings from my garden to experiment with. This time I sent her home with some wayward sprouts of my mystery salvia, and some succulents. Also some of our lovely Yellow Brandywines. But we still have more tomatoes than we can use fresh, so I scalded and peeled a bunch last week and made tomato pudding.

tomatoes peeling ice