Tea With Jane

This haiku is dedicated to an old friend of mine whom I shared many a cup of tea and secrets~

A cup of steamed tea ~

Warmth laced with old memories

Of shared confidences.

Published in: on March 8, 2014 at 1:46 pm  Comments (19)  
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~ Never Ask Me: How Are You? ~

English: Cute coffee.

Cute coffee. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is from my weekly newspaper column–I talk to my readers like they are my friends. I hope some of them are:

My sister Peggy and I try to email each other every day. She lives in Ottawa, so we do not have the luxury of face to face visits often. Sometimes I do not have much to say—but today this is how I opened my little tirade to her (she made the mistake of asking how I was):

“Well, (you can always tell something did not go well, when you start a sentence out with ‘well’) yesterday started off with a bang, or should I say crash—I broke the carafe for the coffee maker, so made coffee by putting a cup where the carafe should go and then pressing up on the spigot thing to get the coffee to come out. That was some fun! Until I got the hang of it I had hot coffee coming up the handle of the knife I was using to press the spigot up. (I now have first degree burns on my right hand). So I went out and bought another coffee maker and started getting it ready to make coffee (this morning), and it did not have all the parts it was supposed to have–so I tried putting it back in its packaging, and of course it does not go back into what it just came out of.

So….I will be taking the darn thing back to the store the way it is and they can deal with it.  I just finished making two cups of coffee using my rather flawed method again today–but used a spoon this time. The coffee ran up the handle of the spoon a bit, but since I am getting better at this, not as much as yesterday. Oh, yeah, and the coffee tastes like sweet dishwater.”

That is how my day began–has to get better from here, right? Just a minute, I need another sip of coffee—yep, warm dishwater (or what I imagine warm dishwater with sugar would taste like).

It is Monday morning as I write this and no, it is not going to be a diatribe about how awful I think Mondays are. I like Mondays. It is the day I usually write up this column and I do look forward to writing another piece of weekly literature. Then I just have to make do with what I really produce, and though it isn’t literature, it does fill up my space on page five.

I am surprised though at how important that first cup of coffee is to me in the morning. I did not even drink coffee until I was in my thirties—before that my caffeine fix was in the form of tea or cola (yes, at one time I did drink cola with my morning bagel and cream cheese or bacon and eggs—try it, it really complements the food).

I am trying to become a tea drinker again for one reason and one reason only: I do not put sugar in my tea. I put a lot of sugar in my coffee—as I do not think I really like its taste—the aroma is good, but the taste without a pile of sugar is too bitter. I so admire those who drink it black (gag, ugh) or with just a little cream (just gag).

Today, I am writing this up without the benefit of a good cup of hot sweet liquid (good being the operative word here)—but I am persevering—I am made of good stock.

Milestone in Mind of Beholder

Birthday Card made with Iris Folding

Birthday Card made with Iris Folding (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most birthdays live the  longest.” ~wry observation by that wit, Anonymous

Just had a birthday. Not a milestone birthday—apparently that is next year when I finally turn forty. Okay forty plus a lot more—but as I told a lady this week who I met in the grocery store and looked absolutely amazing for someone on the cusp of 80—it is only a number. No, it is not the age that I am turning that I find discomforting when I have a birthday; it is where I am as opposed to where I thought I would be.

A bit of a dreamer, lay philosopher (I say this with all humility—we are all philosophers as our beliefs are derived from the successes and failures we have experienced), seeker, and eternal student of life, I find that I am nowhere near to having fulfilled my dreams in some capacities, and far past fulfillment in others.

I share my birthday with Queen Elizabeth, and was once again disappointed this year when I did not receive an invitation to tea to celebrate the occasion together. Did not even get a birthday card from her. Now, of course, I am joking—but when I told a group of friends of my disappointment at a birthday lunch, one of the women said—“Well, did you send her a card?” I just love it when people make these kinds of observations—how can I expect her to know that we share a birthday? So, next year I will send her a card and see what happens. Or maybe I will send her one of  those “Sorry, I’m late” cards that I am so fond of—really, most of them are much more clever than the ‘on time’ birthday cards, probably because they tend to make grovelling humorous.

My second disappointment at reaching the age that I am now is that Margaret Atwood has not yet fulfilled her promise to have tea with me. After all, she is the mother of Canadian literature, and a bit of a heroine to me.  Once, when she signed one of her books for me, I asked her to put an invitation to tea on the inside cover of the book. Slightly puzzled, and looking askance at me, she did as I requested, probably to get the line moving so she could scrawl her lovely signature in the next book, hoping that the next devoted reader would not make a stupid request. Now Peggy, as I like to think of her, lives on Pelee Island part-time, so it would not be that much of a stretch for her to invite me to tea. (And I would be happy to fight a bout of seasickness to join her.) But, just as I was reminded by my friend that I had not sent the Queen a card, I remember that Peggy does not have my address. I think I may just send it to her and see what happens.

Tea Time

Tea Time (Photo credit: Maia C)

My third big disappointment is that I do not have a butler. Seriously. When I was in my early twenties, I was determined to have a butler. I thought that one had “arrived” if one had a butler. Now, of course, with the responsibility and need for a butler, comes a certain way of life. At my particular juncture, it would be very silly for me to have a butler, and admittedly, it does sound like the yearnings of an unbalanced, albeit harmless, being. But, think about—would it not be nice to have an Alfred–Batman’s wise butler who gives good counsel, and sets out your bat outfit just so? Or what about the butler in the “Family Affair”, Mr. French—I think that is where I first became aware of butlers. Servitude was not the essential element, but kindness and words of wisdom were. I would love to have someone who would guide me ever so gently through life, as these two did, and Alfred continues to do.

I have a number of goals I still want to achieve, which are not quite as “out there” as having tea with the Queen or Margaret Atwood and hiring a butler. Being somewhat of a late bloomer, I am sure I will reach many of them. On reflection, (which is part of what birthdays are all about) I have lots to be grateful for, and lots to look forward to. I will leave you with my husband’s standard birthday joke which I find strangely comforting: “If you can’t stay young, at least you can stay immature.”

Published in: on April 24, 2012 at 12:23 pm  Comments (15)  
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Garlic on Your Feet?

Image of a container of Vicks VapoRub

Image of a container of Vicks VapoRub (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Did you know that if you rub garlic on your feet that within 20 minutes you can taste it? This I learned from an email sent by a friend who passes on all kinds of vital and indispensable information to me. In the same email, she shared some very interesting information regarding  VICKS Vapo Rub. I remember Vicks being applied to my neck and chest area quite generously by my mom when I  had a cold and cough as a  kid. Then she would put a warm towel on the area, and I would fall into a blissful sleep (giving her some much needed rest too.)

Little did I know that the Vicks should have been applied to the soles of my feet for the utmost relief. At least that is what this fellow who attended a lecture on Essential Oils claims (and then posted it on the Internet for all to see). Apparently our soles absorb oils. (Makes you want to be careful about walking barefoot doesn’t it?)

The fellow who wrote up this “essential” advice, (let’s call him Sam so we do not have to keep calling him “fellow”) says that you can stop night time coughing by applying Vicks Vapo Rub to the soles of your feet, then cover them with socks, and within about five minutes the coughing stops.  Sam swears by this and says it works 100% of the time. And the bonus is you get soft feet.  A medicine that multi-tasks—who knew? The dual promise of no coughing and soft feet is just something I cannot resist. I do refuse to put garlic on my feet though, unless there is word of a vampire breakout (which may not be all that far-fetched, given all the books and movies dedicated to the fanged warriors.)

Sam says that his wife tried this when she had a deep and persistent cough and it worked. He learned of this method himself after listening to a radio morning talk show, which featured a chap talking about cough medicines and why they often do more harm to children than good because of all the chemicals in them. Sam does not say who the “chap” was, but for the sake of argument, let us believe he was doctor (and not just one who played a doctor on TV.)

While I am dispensing a little advice on colds, I will share with you a little recipe guaranteed to soothe a cold that I ran across in the book, “How to Sew a Button and Other Nifty Things Your Grandmother Knew” by Erin Bried. (I just cannot resist a book that has the word nifty in the title.) It is called “How to Make a Hot Tea Toddy”, and the Grandma who came up with it obviously had a bit of a sense of humour.

Step 1: Brew a cup of tea by pouring boiling water over a tea bag, preferably decaffeinated so you don’t get jittery. Let steep for a few minutes. (I have it on good authority that you should steep it for exactly three minutes.)

Step 2: Add a swirl of honey to taste. (Not a dollop, not a teaspoon, a swirl—this is very important). Honey apparently not only tastes good but coats your throat and relieves soreness and coughing.

Step 3: Quarter a lemon and squeeze over your cup to add “lip-smacking tartness” (you can’t make this stuff up). 

Okay, Step 4 gets to the heart of the matter: Add a shot of whiskey or bourbon to the tea. Depending on how bad you feel, add a shot of whiskey or bourbon to your mouth too (there’s that sense of humour I was talking about).

Step 5: Hold cup to your face, breathing in the hot steam to clear up your schnoz.

Step 6: Climb under your covers, and sip until you get drowsy.

Step 7: Set the cup down first. Very important! Then fall asleep.

Step 8: Dream good dreams. Snoring is optional.

Now, I am betting that if you don’t drink alcohol, the honey and lemon by themselves will probably do the trick, but I would put a little Vapo-rub on the soles of your feet if you want to leave out the whiskey. In the book, Grandma adds three more “nifty” tips for nursing a cold: Sit by the fireside to stay toasty as feeling chilled can suppress your immune system; gargle with warm water three times a day to wash away germs; and wash your hands often with soap, and “for goodness sake keep them away from your face.”

So with Sam and Grandma’s advice under your belt, you have a few more ways to combat any cold that invades your personal space. Just remember don’t tea toddy and drive.

Published in: on September 12, 2011 at 12:14 am  Comments (20)  
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