“More Tea, Please”

Yes, that is a teacup on Kirstea’s head. She is a tea-loving Shopkins™ Shoppie doll. And yes, her name is Kirstea.

I love hot beverages, even in the summer. Seventy percent of the time, I’ll go for coffee. The other 30 percent is divided between tea (20 percent) and hot chocolate.

The post title is a quote from one of my favorite animated characters of all time—Uncle Iroh from the Avatar: The Last Airbender series. He’s known for his love of tea.

There are certain tea flavors I enjoy. Mostly I love a robust tea. But my tea tastes have changed over the years.

Do you have a favorite tea? If so, let me know through this poll or in a comment below:

When I was a kid, my mother always had a box of Lipton tea around. That was the only tea we had. Good old, reliable Lipton black tea. Back then, I was not a big fan of tea. I only drank it if I had a cold or some other illness. So, Lipton tea was the extent of my tea knowledge at the time.

When I was a freshman in college, I discovered Earl Grey, and drank it like it was water. I can’t help thinking of Captain Jean-Luc Picard of Star Trek: The Next Generation, who loved that tea. But after my freshman year, I dropped tea, and began mainlining coffee until someone introduced me to Constant Comment—another black tea.

I went through a berry tea phase briefly (like Wild Berry Zinger by Celestial Seasonings), before moving to peppermint tea. After that, I fixated on Lemon Zinger by Celestial Seasonings for a time.

While in Shanghai earlier this century (sounds weird to write earlier this century), I discovered green tea. Drank a ton of it, especially at Starbucks, which served green tea lattes long before they debuted in the U.S. But in the last few years, I’ve gravitated toward chai, rooibos teas, and this one, which I’ve written about before.

I started this post thinking I would just talk about tea. But I can’t help equating tea with fantasy books. Many times, when I’ve mentioned that I’m writing or reading a fantasy book, I have received one of two responses:

“I hate fantasy books. Always full of names that are hard to pronounce.”

“Not my cup of tea. They’re too long and boring.”

You see why I equate fantasy books with tea? Now, if you’ve mentioned either of those statements to me, please don’t think I’m putting you down. Many people, even strangers, have told me the same thing. But for me, fantasy books are like tea, because there are so many different varieties—from historical epics to contemporary urban thrillers. Yes, there are books with names that are difficult to pronounce. But Harry Potter, a kid in a fantasy book, has a name that’s easy to pronounce. And Ursula Le Guin has at least two fantasy books under 200 pages in length.

These are older editions. Wizard ends on page 199.

If you don’t like fantasy books, I know I won’t convince you to come to my side of the fence. I’m not here to do that. After all, I don’t like licorice, and wouldn’t want anyone to try to sway me to like it. Instead, I’ll continue to enjoy the rich flavors of the fantasy books that come my way.

A good article on the most popular tea flavors is here.

Uncle Iroh from medievalotakuwordpress.com. Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard from startrek.com. Bigelow Constant Comment tea from Wikipedia. Lemon Zinger from the Celestial Seasonings website. Lipton tea from chromedelivery.com. Kirstea Shopkins™ Shoppie doll and book covers photos by L. Marie.

Suits Me to a Tea

I’m a coffee drinker for the most part. But I love a good, hearty tea when the autumn weather turns nippy. How about you? A new favorite is Trader Joe’s Harvest Blend.

Leaf2

Recently, a friend and I conducted an informal taste test of herbal teas. Among the cinnamon tea blends, we concluded that Trader’s Joe Harvest Blend was the best tasting. This is our opinion, of course. Yet others who tried the tea quickly headed to the store to buy it. They then gave tea bags to other people who then bought their own box of the tea. Yes, my friend and I are tea pushers. The first bag is free. 🙂

Isn’t it interesting that something steeped in hot water can produce such a rich, memorable flavor? Sounds like life, doesn’t it? (Work with me here. It sounds like life, doesn’t it? Just nod your head.) When we’re in hot water—troublesome circumstances—the flavor of our character is revealed. Are we bitter, as some tea is when steeped too long? Or do the “hot” circumstances bring out the best in us?

The subject came up as I recently pondered my reaction to disappointing expectations and problems. As others announced the joyous news of book deals, I contemplated the lack of positive news in my mailbox (including a no for the YA book I queried earlier this year). I soon realized that a thread of bitterness had crept in and wound itself around me, leaving me complaining and paralyzed. Kind of like a mummy in a sarcophagus. Only . . . mummies don’t really complain, do they? And if they’re of the undead variety, they’re not really paralyzed either. Instead, a mummy might break out of his or her sarcophagus and lurch about, terrorizing villages. So that metaphor is a bit labored. But you get what I mean.

A couple of quotes struck me recently:

Tom Ed quote 1-07-Harriet-1024x703

I guess it’s time for me to stop whining and do what I know to do: write and keep going. To celebrate the power of persistence, I’m giving away a box of this Harvest Blend Herbal Tea and some crocheted leaves. (If you want to know more about these leaves, click on crocheted leaves to get the pattern, which was designed by Michelle at The Painted Hinge blog.) I’ll choose a commenter at random. Feel free to comment on a tea you love or some aspect of autumn you love. Or talk about which quote above speaks to you. Perhaps you have another favorite quote about persistence. Winner to be announced Friday, November 6.

012

Thomas Edison quote from pinterest. Harriet Beecher Stowe quote from viacharacterblog.org.

I’d Like to Thank My Parents (2)

CupcakeBirthday-thumbYep. It’s that time of year when a slice of cake or a cupcake with a candle plunks on the table before me, and the angels in heaven sing joyous songs. They sing joyous songs, but not about me, despite this being the anniversary of my birth. Actually, tomorrow is the anniversary of my birth. But I’m posting today.

             007 013

Birthday tulips and Birthday picture book (Yes, this book is just as delightful as it looks.)

I began the week thinking about the upcoming day and feeling old. No, I won’t tell you how old. I felt a little better when I recently read this article at Brain Pickings on the world’s oldest living things, an article inspired by a book—The Oldest Living Things in the World—by famed photographer Rachel Sussman. I didn’t make the cut, since the book’s minimum age requirement is 2,000 years. Whew!

18526648

Big_bristlecone_pine_Pinus_longaevaOne of the items on the list is the bristlecone pine tree. If you live outside the U.S., you may or may not be familiar with this tree. They’re found in the Western states. Some of them look like hairbrushes I’ve had. I’ve always found these trees fascinating, since they’re over 5,000 years old. And I thought the clothes in my closet were old. For someone like me who routinely kills house plants (even cut flowers like the tulips above should be very afraid when they come to stay at my place), anything living over 5,000 seconds, let alone 5,000 years, has my attention.

barometer_woodThe Brain Pickings article included this quote from Sussman’s preface:

The oldest living things in the world are a record and celebration of the past, a call to action in the present, and a barometer of our future.

Celebrating a birthday inspires me to look at the past, the present, and the future as well. In taking inventory of my life, the call to action I feel most keenly these days is to finish my book. To think that I started it three years ago! I’m starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel on that. I think of the book as a hopeful barometer of my future, a future in which this child of mine exists in bound form on someone’s bookshelf. By writing it, I’m celebrating the past as well, a past in which my parents read stories to me before I went to sleep to get me to love books as much as they did (and still do). Reading inspired me to write stories of my own. Over the years, I worked to develop my craft, a desire which led me to VCFA.

So, thanks, Mom and Dad. Thanks for giving me life, and for introducing me to great books. Without that introduction, I wouldn’t be the writer I am today.

And thanks to all of you who stop by to read my blatherings on this blog. Have a metaphorical slice of cake. You deserve it. Go on. There are no calories. And if you drink a diet Coke with it, the calories you ingested yesterday won’t count either.

rose-birthday-cake_2608933

As I close, I have to tell you about something silly that happened to me recently. I received a lovely tin of tea and had looked forward all afternoon to having a cup. Well, I grabbed the first mug I saw sitting around and tossed in a tea bag, then added water and sugar. (Yes, I am a Philistine who uses sugar in her tea.) What I totally forgot was that earlier, something splashed on the outside of my salt shaker. Before washing it, I emptied the salt into the first thing I could grab. You guessed it. The very cup I used for the tea! I took a big swig and . . . arggggghhhh!!! This is what I get for not paying attention to what’s at the bottom of a cup! Now, I really feel old!

009

Birthday tea

What is your call to action? How did the past shape this call? How do you think it will shape your future?

While you think about that, the Feral Cat says hi. (I wrote about him in this post.) Can you make him out? He’s the orange tabby sleeping at the bottom left outside the window.

001

Cupcake from treatsastastytaters.blogspot.com. Birthday cake from freepik.com. Barometer from edupic.net. Bristlecone pine from Wikipedia. Book cover from Goodreads.