Comfort and Joy

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Tea of the day: Comfort and Joy by The Republic of Tea

Description: this smooth blend brings notes of rich and warming spices together with well-balanced hits of apple and spice.

Dry tea smells cinnamon and orange to me

Liquor is a dark brown in the cup.

The tea is less flavorful than the scent implies, but this could be because it’s a sample from December that I had forgotten I had. Other than that, a pleasant cup.

Tea Rating: 3/5


I feel I need to write more.

Aside from the fact that there were two months between my post last week and the one before it, I notice that I feel more disconnected from my own thoughts when I’m not doing at least a little writing.

I’m not doing as badly as I have in the past in similar dry spells because I am getting my creative brain a workout because of the photography class I’m taking this summer…but I do find that communicating with my loved ones is a little touch and go as of late.

So, I’m trying a thing: keeping a five-year journal. I fond a list of questions, one for each day of the year, and starting today, I am going to at least answer the daily question. The long-term goal is to keep this up so that I can look back later at it and see how my life has changed and how I have grown.

I can’t promise that I’ll post every question every day to here, but I do hope that it will inspire me to write more often. After all, what’s the point of having a blog if you don’t write in it?


Question for July 10: What happened recently that made you proud of yourself?

I listened to the feedback for my photography class midterm (my instructor does little videos so he can show us what he means). This grade was 3 times what the previous assignments had been, with the same amount of time to do it. The feedback was positive, and he closed with “keep up the good work.” It’s a small thing, but it feels good. It’s good to know that I am actually improving on the skills I already had since I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to effectively learn the mechanics of photography and get better. Maybe a silly worry but it was there.

Flora Tea

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Tea of the Day: Flora Tea by Dryad Tea.

Description: Flora is the protector of the Flower Fields of the Spring Coast. She ensures that the flowers grow to be beautiful and that no one harms them. In honor of Flora, this tea has bounding berry and floral notes, blended wonderfully in this caffeine free tea that is sure to brighten your day

Dry tea smells like honey and roses

Liquor is chestnut red brown in the cup.

Steeped tea smells richer than the dry, like currants and incense made of flowers.

The tea itself tastes of raisins and berries, sweet but not cloying, but is better without adding sugar.

Tea Rating: 4/5


Today, a little musing I had on timekeeping and space travel


September 41, 2065

No, that’s not a joke, as ridiculous as that looks. This is what happens when you try to keep Earth time on a non-Earth world.

But I’m getting ahead of myself a bit. I’m allowed, I’m nearly 80 years old, although my shipmates insist I don’t look a day over 40.

Anyway, back to the story. I am part of an expedition to a second world that we humans are looking to call home. It’s Earth-like, slightly bigger than Home, with a slightly faster rotation but roughly the same amount of travel time around its star—hence the extra days in the month. We haven’t been able to agree on what to call it–we travelers refer to it as Landfall, the brass at Home want to call it “Tierra” and the locals call it “ushkatok,” which roughly translates to “home water.”

Yes, there are locals, and no, they don’t use Earth letters, that’s just as close as I can get to how it sounds. Fortunately for us, the locals are friendly, and an aquatic race who can’t survive for long on the land, so basically the inverse of us. They call themselves “Butanbau,” which is, roughly, “the people” in English and are looking to travel to the stars same as us. They have lots of neat technology and cool telescopes and long range communication equipment but have found actual space travel to be a problem they can’t quite get their fins around.

That’s where we come in. They’ve been sending communications out into the void for a while now, since the early 2000’s, but it wasn’t until 2045 that we were able to pick it up and understand it for what it was—a message…that we could not understand at all and seemed to just appear out of the “empty” space between us and the Sun.

As you might imagine, this caused quite the stir.

After much wailing and gnashing of teeth a strange collaboration between codebreakers, linguists, communications experts and astrophysicists, and more months than anyone wants to admit (but apparently fewer than the Butanbau had expected) we were able to figure out that the message had come from about 200 light-years away, closer to the center of our galaxy, and what it said….and that it hadn’t taken 200 years or more to reach us.

Like I mentioned before, the Butanbau are a friendly race and part of their message was a simple explanation and a very complicated mathematical formula for how they got their message to us, along with instructions for how to build a similar array to talk back.

I’m not a math person, so the simple (ish) explanation is: sub-space. Basically, there is a part of space that is somehow above regular space so if you send a message (or a ship) through sub-space, it takes way less time to travel than it would through normal space, something like how you can fly to a destination faster than you can drive to the same place. Except, because gravity behaves differently in space than it does on the ground, it’s a ton less time. So, a message from Home to here and vice-versa takes a couple of hours rather than a couple hundred years.

The revelation that sub-space is a thing that exists caused quite the stir at Home. This meant that the way we understood the Universe needed to change, a lot. Many people thought the message was a fake, that it was too much like science-fiction to actually be true. Thankfully, there were enough people in high enough places that believed that it could be true to immediately begin building not just communications arrays but sub-space engines, and then ships. We even were able to improve on the Butanbau’s communications array.

Then began the experimentation, testing, and tinkering. On engines, on, ships, on people. We learned a lot, though there were some setbacks early on that almost made the human race as a whole throw in the towel on actually using subspace to travel. Truthfully, I’m not yet convinced that keeping at it was the best idea.

But anyway, it was eventually found that it takes a couple of years to travel in a ship between the two worlds because sub-space is…small. This isn’t quite the right way to describe it, of course, because it’s more like a combination of trying to squeeze a big object into a small space and being very deep under water at the same time. Our ships’ engines have to force subspace to bend around us, and they can only do this safely for a few hours at at time. Safely meaning without overheating, exploding and destroying the ship. And then there’s the stress on the human mind as well. Sub-space does wacky things to our perceptions so although the engines operate within acceptable parameters for 6 hours and 24 minutes in sub-space, we limit our dives (or flights, take your pick) to 3 hours each, with 3 to 6 hours in between each one, depending mostly on the state of the crew.

I’m not going to go into how we figured out this limit of human endurance here. It’s not exactly pleasant and some good people lost their lives or their minds (or both) in the name of figuring out how to do it. Suffice it to say that there is a range of reactions to sub-space, none of which are particularly fun, and some people are better suited to it than others. We have also found that a person can be sedated and travel through sub-space with no ill effects other than that of the sedation. Thank goodness for small favors. However, because it is necessary for there to be people awake to monitor the ship and its instruments, the trip to Landfall was limited to those three-hour dives I mentioned before.

I’m here not to be a chronicler, although I enjoy writing, but rather to help keep everyone on an even mental keel, at least as much as is possible. I’m the lead psychologist on this ship, and also the oldest person by a good 20 years or so. There are 200 of us all told, from all walks of life but with one thing in common—we’re among the best and brightest in our chosen fields. With the possible exception of myself. I would not call myself the best or the brightest, but I was recruited by quite literally the leaders of the world so here I am. I miss my husband something fierce but I was promised that either I would be heading back after a year or he’d be on the next ship here in 6 months, depending on if I could stomach staying or not. Plus, because of the magic of sub-space we send messages back and forth every day.

20 years and 18 days after we first received the message from Landfall, we have arrived.

Satyr Dreams

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Tea of the Day: Satyr Dreams by Dryad Tea

Description: The dreams of Satyrs have long been speculated to be great things full of whimsy and beauty. This tea was created to embody those dreams in deep black teas and floral notes with a very light undertone of hazelnut.

Dry tea smells like dried roses

Liquor is a light chestnut brown in the cup

Steeped tea actually doesn’t have much of smell and its flavor is very mild. Floral and sweet. This tea needs more time to steep than you would think, as the longer it steeps, the better the flavor is. I noticed that the flavor got stronger towards the bottom of the cup, but I think steeping it for a full 5 minutes instead of just 3 would have the same effect.

Tea Rating.: 4/5


 

They say:

“Put down roots”

Or

“Go back to your roots”

In such tones that imply that this is always a good thing

 

Like any other blanket statement,

this idea is flawed.

 

Adapting to change and growing

sometimes means moving “uprooting” if you will

This is an important part of life

 

Also, going back to where you came from

…when where you came from almost killed you…

Is not what I’d call “a good thing”

 

And sometimes,

(more than we’re usually comfortable admitting)

we put down roots on empty air

and only think that we’re secure

 

via Daily Prompt: Roots

The Oncoming Storm

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Tea of the Day: The Oncoming Storm by Dryad Tea

Description: Dark and full of bold flavor and a deep thoughtfulness. There is a promise of a storm on the horizon with this tea

Dry tea smells berry-sweet but with a rich zing

Liquor is a dark red-brown in the cup

Steeped tea smells sharper than the dry, a bit like damp earth, but still sweet.

The tea has a sweetness to it, but it is not timid, the flavor fills the whole mouth and lingers after it’s swallowed. I could easily just drink it without sugar, but I added a bit just to see. That little bit of sugar really made the berry flavor pop and also allows you to really taste the earthiness you can smell. Quite possibly my new favorite tea

Tea Rating: 5/5


Book Review: A History of the World in Six Glasses by Tom Standage.

Back of the book blurb:

From beer to Coca-Cola, the six drinks that have helped shape human history.
Throughout human history, certain drinks have done much more than just quench thirst. As Tom Standage relates with authority and charm, six of them have had a surprisingly pervasive influence on the course of history, becoming the defining drink during a pivotal historical period.

A History of the World in 6 Glasses tells the story of humanity from the Stone Age to the 21st century through the lens of beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and cola. Beer was first made in the Fertile Crescent and by 3000 B.C.E. was so important to Mesopotamia and Egypt that it was used to pay wages. In ancient Greece wine became the main export of her vast seaborne trade, helping spread Greek culture abroad. Spirits such as brandy and rum fueled the Age of Exploration, fortifying seamen on long voyages and oiling the pernicious slave trade. Although coffee originated in the Arab world, it stoked revolutionary thought in Europe during the Age of Reason, when coffeehouses became centers of intellectual exchange. And hundreds of years after the Chinese began drinking tea, it became especially popular in Britain, with far-reaching effects on British foreign policy. Finally, though carbonated drinks were invented in 18th-century Europe they became a 20th-century phenomenon, and Coca-Cola in particular is the leading symbol of globalization.

For Tom Standage, each drink is a kind of technology, a catalyst for advancing culture by which he demonstrates the intricate interplay of different civilizations. You may never look at your favorite drink the same way again.

The Review:

I picked this book up because the cover caught my eye, as covers are meant to do. I brought it home with me because the premise seemed interesting, a take on history I had not previously considered. Plus, two of the six beverages (coffee and tea) I drink daily so I knew I’d enjoy at least a third of the book.

I was right, and also wrong.

Rather than just enjoying a third of the book, I enjoyed the whole thing. Honestly, my only complaint is that when it gets to the modern era, its facts are from 2004 or earlier. This is not a failing of the author; the version I read was published in 2006. The book so thoroughly caught my attention, though, that I found myself wondering if the trend of influence has continued since that point, and what might have changed.

Because this book is not a fiction novel, not much can be said about the plot or characters. However, it is not dry or boring by any means. It frames the history of the world in a way that is more relatable than your “normal” history book. It’s something like Connections by James Burke, albeit more focused.

One thing to note, though: this book will make you thirsty for whatever beverage you’re reading about!

Book Rating: 5/5

RavenSong

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Tea of the Day: RavenSong by Dryad Tea

Description: A delicious blend of spiced lemon and a touch of raspberry. This tea is the autumn call of the raven. Delightfully fruity and spicy all at ones, great with a dash of sweetener.

Dry tea smells rich and slightly spicy

Liquor is a cinnamony-brown color in the cup

Steeped tea is cinnamon in scent and flavor with an aftertaste of ginger and sweet berry. It’s not quite as complex as the description suggests, but does deepen in flavor as it cools. Adding sugar brings out the cinnamon flavor, which is not quite what I was hoping for.

Tea Rating: 4/5


Advice I’d give to my younger self:

Listen, your time and energy are too precious, and life is too damn short, to waste any of it on all the stressing you’re doing.

It’s like you think you have to make up for every angry thought or uncharitable action by letting people walk all over you and treat you badly like that’s what you deserve.

You don’t.

Obviously, this doesn’t mean be a dick. Be humble and kind and positive because that’s you but quit beating yourself up when you can’t. Even light bulbs burn out.

You’re giving yourself high blood pressure and nightmares and panic attacks over people who won’t be in your life in a few years.

And, it’s not your job to fix anyone. Be supportive, sure. But fix? No way

You’ve got bigger fish to fry.


via Daily Prompt: Fry

 

Tibetan Rapberry

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Tea of the Day: Tibetan Raspberry by Xanadu Tea

Description: Highlighted with real raspberry for additional color and flavor, this tea is a real treat from the secret garden.

Dry tea smells like warm raspberries with a stronger smell behind it, something like you might expect having just picked berries in your own garden.

Steeped tea smells very similar to the dry, but with a touch more depth and bite

Liquor is a chestnut brown in the cup.

You can absolutely taste the raspberry, which is great because often flavored teas that do not have pieces of the source of the flavoring do not match their smell. It’s very drinkable without sugar but adding sugar does not detract from the flavor or diminish the pleasantly smoky finish. It also tastes like it would take milk well, although I did not try it.

Tea Rating: 4/5


I live a life where I know that dreams can come true.

I know this because some of them have.

I day dreamt about the perfect place for my fiance and best friend could live together without too much wanting to kill each other (even in my dreams I know that relationships are never exactly perfect). And, a year ago, we found it and secured it.

I’ve spent many hours of my teen and adult life dreaming about a truly good romantic relationship, one that will last through good times and rough patches alike; I’ve recently celebrated two years with the man I’m going to marry next year.

Because of these, and many other smaller dreams and goals I’ve met or achieved, I find that my dreams are expanding.

I dream about the wedding itself, and the honeymoon, and at least one awesome vacation I’d like to go on with my future husband.

But, and I think more importantly, I dream of the bigger things I’ve never before considered could be a reality.

Some of them are a little more grounded, like the one about becoming a counselor a bit later in life and helping people work through life’s pains and hopefully come out stronger people. Because of where I work getting the degrees required for that dream is a very possible thing.

Others a little more outlandish, like traveling the world pulled by my camera to take pictures of all the beautiful things, even the ones that are a little sad as well.

Who knows, though? Maybe both of those things will someday come true. And in the meantime, it’s fun to dream

 


Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.”Ashley Smith

Ti Kuan Yin

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Ti Kuan Yin by Adagio Teas

Description: Our fine version of Ti Kuan Yin produces a cup that is warm, soft, and soothingly mineral in texture. It has notes of toasted walnut and tender collard greens with an intriguing lingering floral aroma. In flavor it is lightly orchid with gentle astringency; a meditative cup

Dry tea smells floral and grassy but also slightly sharp/peppery

Liquor is a golden green color in the cup.

Steeped tea smells floral, more so than the dry.

The tea itself has a light floral flavor, like lavender or jasmine, and needs nothing added to be sweet. It is a palate cleanser, leaving you feeling calm and refreshed

Tea Rating: 4.5/5


This post is along the same vein of the one from the beginning of the year, about how I felt when I checked out of Facebook for a while, and was partially inspired by my roommate.

As a group, we usually all (myself, my fiance and my roommate) sit down to dinner to together. Often, we watch a movie or an episode of a T.V. show at the same time.

[There are some things to say about this practice, but in another post]

The other night, my fiance and I were unenthusiastically talking about watching a particular show that we are a few episodes behind on because we’re not exactly pleased with the turn it has taken.

Our roommate looked at us with a bit of a raised eyebrow and said “If you’re not pleased with it why are you watching it?”

We looked at each other, and shrugged. We had no real answer.

This got me thinking.

We are very much in control of the media we consume; the shows we watch, the post we share, the articles we read. We are even in control of how we get that input or information.

Yet, so often, we act as though we’re not.

We act as if watching a T.V. show means we’re obligated to watch it until the very end. Or that having a Facebook account means that we need to check it constantly, or that it must be how we get our news.

None of this is true.

I’m put in mind of the KonMari method if de-cluttering: if it brings you joy, keep it. If not, let it go.

Obviously not all the media I take in during a given day is going to be joyful. As an adult member of society I feel that it is important to be informed about what is going on in the world.

But that does not mean I have to get it from a source that inundates me with negativity as social media often does. I can subscribe to the local paper and e-mail newsletters from various sources just as easily as I can scroll Facebook. And, more importantly, those things would be potentially more meaningful and varied than my News Feed.

As far as my recreational media goes, if it feels pointless or predictable or disappointing to me, then I can let it go. No one is holding me hostage forcing me to continue.

I feel that a good story (no matter how I view or read it) will make me feel things other than joy, because the point of a good story or art at all is to shine a light on things you’ve never thought of, or hold up a mirror that’s not edited by your own mind, to make you think, and to inspire you to question. But if all I’m feeling is disappointment or dread when I think of a show I’ve been watching, then that is just a one-dimensional as a constantly-happy sitcom (not that all sitcoms are this way) and I don’t have to keep it in my life.

I have the option of watching or not; being plugged in or not.

We all do; we just have to actually make the choice.