Science Bros

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Tea of the Day: Science Bros, created by Cat L with Adagio Teas

Description: A perfect scientific concoction of the ultimate genius superhero duo. Chocolate chai, Irish breakfast, and blueberry accented with cocoa nibs

Liquor is a dark red-brown in the cup

Dry tea smells like berry and sweetness, with a little bit of a sharp bite

Steeped tea smells very similar to the dry, but with more body and depth

The tea tastes sweet and cinnamony with a richness like a piece of berry-flavored chocolate. Sugar heightens the chocolatey flavor.

Tea Rating: 3.75/5


I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately.

I suppose that’s not news.

Mostly, it’s been about good things.

I did the TUT love your life in 30 days project and documented the thoughts in my personal journal. Even with the interruptions–there were a few days that I just couldn’t write much of anything except what was essentially written panicked screaming–I found the project to be helpful and uplifting. It really helped me be aware of where I am and how far I’ve come and how attainable my goals really are.

I haven’t written a lot here in the last couple of weeks because I’ve been trying to decide if I want to share the whole project, or just curate the parts I find most relevant to a wider audience, or use those 30 days of activities to give me a jumping off point to write on. More than likely the result will be a combination of the second and third options.

I’ve also been thinking about our wedding. We’ve gone and set up a joint wedding bank account, and sent out save the date cards, and made some adjustments to the plan of who is going to do our wedding pies. We’ve also started talking about what we actually want to do for our first dance as couple, and my father and I have settled on a Father-Daughter dance song.

For my artistic self, aside from the writing, I got myself a book called “104 Things to Photograph” and have started prompts from that, which I’ll likely share at some point as well.

But for all the good, there also have been some sobering thoughts.

For how far I’ve come, in some ways I still have a long way to go.

There’s a lot I don’t know (this is good as well as bad).

As I prepare for an event that will mark a permanent change in my life, I find myself thinking of other events that have equal weight.

Aside from marriage, the other events that will likely happen in my life that will be so permanent will be the birth of my child or children, and the death of my parents.

At this point there is still I chance I may not have children of my own that I carry inside me for nine months and give birth to. We may choose to just be us an our pets, or to adopt.

But my parents will die.

His too.

I don’t know how I’m going to deal with it.

Gran was like another parent to me, so I have maybe a rough idea. But I can also recognize that losing a grandparent, no matter how close we were, is not the same as losing a parent.

It’s not something that brings me joy to think about, but it’s a fact of life, one that I cannot avoid.

 

 

Iron Goddess of Mercy (Tieguanyin)

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Tea of the Day: Iron Goddess of Mercy (Tieguanyin) by The London Tea Room

Description: Named after Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy, this well rounded tea is the standard bearer for our oolong collection. Roasted over bamboo coals and rolled into a distinctive ball, the Iron Goddess is a must try for any fan of oolongs, and it’s also a terrific starting point for those who thinks that oolong sounds like an apt description for that artsy French film they slept through the other night.

Dry tea smells glassy and kind of sweet with floral hints

Liquor is a clear golden color in the cup

Steeped tea has a slightly more earthy scent than the dry. It has and earthy almost sweet taste with a slight bitterness to it that makes a refreshing finish. Adding a little sugar mingles the flavors even better.

Tea Rating: 5/5


Here’s a funny thing about grief:  it’s sneaky. You’d think that as you came to terms with a loved one being gone that your heart wouldn’t ache so badly, and you’d be right…and wrong. Maybe day to day it doesn’t hurt like it did at first, but then you’ll reach a milestone, or hear a song that they’d like or read a story that reminds you of them and you’re right back there, helpless and hurting. It seems to ebb and flow like the tide, or cycle through like the phases of the moon.

I’ve come to accept it, as much as one can, but I still have conflicting feelings in regards to my grief. And so, a letter to Gran.

Dear Gran,

I can’t believe it’s been two years since you left your body behind…it seems so surreal at times. Time stretches and shrinks so that sometimes I swear I just talked to you last month, and other times it seems like it’s been an age since I got to see you.

Either way, I miss you.

I miss you when I talk about finally graduating and my plans for the next steps. I miss you when I add another piece to my wedding plans. I miss you when I sit down to go through photos I have taken to prepare for my website or a client.

It’s not constant like it was when you first passed, but it’s still there,  like a hole in my yard that I’ve mostly learned to walk around but still trip over.

When Julie came up here for my graduation, it was the first time we’d seen each other since you had passed, and we ended up talking about you. I have a folder full of things you either wrote or found to be important, and I brought it out to show her. And we talked, and we cried. There was crying again a couple days later when Arianna graduated, because we remembered that you had wanted to live to see all four of us graduate high school but in the end only saw mine.

This is where the conflicting feelings come in.

I feel pretty strongly that though your body is gone, your spirit still remains. This brings me comfort, and guilt. Comfort for obvious reasons, guilt because after the life you lived you should be able to rest. I feel like it’s incredibly selfish of me to hope you’re still listening. And then, of course, if you are still around, it’s probably not just for me, since all of your children and grandchildren are still alive and (mostly) well.

I guess in truth I don’t know what to feel, and it’s hard. My biggest fear at this point is honestly that I’ll finally figure out how to deal with you being gone just in time to say goodbye to someone else and have to start all over again.

I think you’d probably ask me if I can change what is bothering me, and if I can’t, let it go.

That’s not a simple question either, though. I can’t change the fact that you died. I think I should be able to do something about how I feel about it, but it eludes me.

At this point all I can really do is ride the tides , sometimes up, sometimes down.

I wish I handled the down better. I wish I could ask your advice on how to manage it.

As it is, I keep on as best I can, and I guess that’s all I can do.

I love you,

-Caitlin

Forget-Me-Not Blueberry

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Tea of the Day: Forget-Me-Not Blueberry black tea by Alaska Herb Tea Company

Description: Black Tea has always been a favorite “pick-me-up”in Alaska. Alaskans sometimes mix local herbs with black tea to enhance it, or stretch it out so it will last through the long winter. This tea has been enhanced with blueberries and the state flower, the Forget-Me-Not.

Dry tea smells like blueberries, with an undertone of something a little more tart

Liquor is a warm golden brown in the cup.

Steeped tea smells like blueberry, but subtly so.

Tea tastes like ripe, sweet blueberries, with a grassy tone that makes the tea very light

Adding sugar simply make the tea more flirty. Pleasant little cuppa

Tea Rating: 4/5


 

For once in my life, I am normal.

Sounds a little odd, so I’ll explain

Yesterday I was swept up by a wave of grief, a gut punch from nowhere that just rocked me back on my (mental) heels.

I was at once wanting comfort and wanting to just burrito in my bed and avoid all people, tired and bewildered.

After some internal back-and-forth, I called home because if anyone could talk me out of my crazy, it would be Daddy.

As it turns I am not crazy. Or at least not in a way that is something that I need to fix or make go away

Daddy told me that he still misses his father, who’s been gone for around 40 years. He said that grief is just like that, there will be days that something reminds you of someone you lost and it will feel like it just happened all over again. It’s how you know that that person really meant something to you

Something else, too. In this, I am not alone. Though I may feel lost and unsure of what I’m really supposed to do with all of this, it’s not just me out there slugging along.

Daddy and my sister are there, too.

And together, we’ll get through it. This time and every other time it happens.


“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”
― Rose Kennedy

 

Orange Black Tea

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Tea of the Day: Orange by Adagio Teas

Description: Lemons and black tea make such a natural pair, so why not try oranges? Our Orange Black tea combines fresh and brisk Ceylon black tea with the flavor of juicy, ripe Florida oranges, playfully accented with orange peel. Zesty orange rind dryness, with hints of soft, sweet orange juice (makes a great balance). Crisp and refreshing cup.

Dry tea smells like a fistfull of oranges, uplifting and cheery

Liquor is red-orange brown in the cup

Still smells very orangey, but the flavor does not come out at first, you just get the full body of the black tea. Adding sugar brings out the orange flavor and creates a peppy and smooth brew. Only downside: a slightly chalky feel in the mouth after the tea has gone down.

Tea Rating:4.5/5


Today I’ve been working at my current job for 6 months. Not a hugely long time, but it’s important because it means that I have completed my probationary time period and will now be able to stay here (barring drastic drops in funding) for as long as I’d like.

It’s really something fantastic to be doing a job I actually like, more days than not.

I’ve been thinking about my grandmother a lot as of late, both while I’m awake and in my dreams.

There’s so much I’d tell her if we could talk, much that I think she’d be proud of.

So, here follows a letter to my grandmother, albeit with some editing because there are some things that I’d share with her that are too personal for this format, even for the open person that I am.


Gran,

It’s been a while since I last wrote to you, though I think of you often.

Actually, thinking about it, it’s been almost exactly a year since the last letter, when I wrote to you because my heart was crying out for a conversation that’s a lot harder to have, now.

A lot has happened since then, some of it bad, some of it that I’m not proud of, but a lot more that’s good and that I smile about…so I’ll go in chronological order, which just so happens to coincide with the unhappy stuff first, as well.

About a year ago I was seeing someone who seemed like he understood me, enjoyed my company, would be willing and able to treat me well, for once in my dating life (referred to forward of this as T).

Turns out he only really wanted one thing, and the rest was just a way to get that one thing. You probably would have told me that, told me to watch out for silver tongues and empty words. I’m not sure I would have listened.

In my disappointment and small heartbreak, I turned primarily to two people: my closest female friend (L) in Fairbanks and a guy friend of mine who had expressed concern when I’d started seeing (we’ll call him M, for clarity)T…when he wasn’t too busy with his life..

L was (and is) the friend I’ve always tried to be, always there for me but good at calling me on my bullshit when I’m trying to hide from something. It’s a balance, but she does it well.

I got to go see Cirque du Soleil, courtesy of T who was not longer talking to me at that point, and it was fantastic.

In February I lost the job I’d gotten with the state, leading up to the scariest two weeks of my life where I wondered what on earth I was going to do. I ended up back at Walmart, working on overnights. I was stable again, but still wanting to leave retail since I’d managed to do it once already.

During that time, I was able to spend more time with M, which was good, and leading up to something I’d never considered possible for me before.

I also met my Mate. Actually, it was the second time meeting him, but the previous time I’d not been in a place to see him as more than a potential friend. I’d don’t know how you’d feel about my calling him that so soon, but I don’t know how else to describe how I feel. He’s my Mate, the same soul in two bodies. We fell together, hand in hand, deep and strong, and I wish you could see how happy we are. It’s good to have balance and we keep each other on an even keel in a way that I’ve only ever read about. We’ve been together 7 months now and we’re planning on many more.

After that, I was able to get a job working for the University, and I haven’t looked back. Sometimes I miss the people I used to work with, but I’m finally not a retail associate and it feels good.

Because of the atmosphere and support of this job, I am on track to really finish my degree and graduate in May. I’ll go through the ceremony, because I feel pretty good about finally getting there when letting it go would have been much easier to do.

I’m finally no longer sharing a phone plan or insurance with anyone else, snipped that last lingering tie with the past that held me back

I miss you. I hope you’re out there guiding someone else the way you’ve guided me in my life, because it’s a gift that should not be limited to just one person, one lifetime.

I love you, Gran

Irish breakfast

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Tea of the Day: Irish Breakfast by Adagio Teas

Description: Our Irish Breakfast combines hearty black teas from Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Assam (India) to get your morning off to a bright start. As its name implies, Irish Breakfast black tea blend is an ideal accompaniment to a morning meal. It seamlessly blends the citrusy notes of a high-grown Ceylon with the malty underscore of a pungent Assam. Spicy and jammy aroma on the leaf, malty and deep flavor with a brisk and ‘buzzy’ mouthfeel. Rounded sweetness in the finish.

Dry tea is at once sweet and strong in scent.

Liquor is a vibrant red-brown in the cup

Steeped tea has a smokey scent to it, giving the sweetness a sharp edge. Smells invigorating. Adding sugar gives it a smoother feel, and allows the spiced malty flavor to come out

Tea Rating:4/5


It’s been a bittersweet week.

I couldn’t really say why in particular, just found myself  missing people.

My family, both those that are in the same state but in a different city, and those that live across the country from me.

My friends who have moved away or that have simply drifted apart from me because of life’s turns.

And, of course, my grandmother.

But it is not all sad, it’s also a sweet thing, because missing people leads me to thinking about the ways we stay connected.

I have a drawing my sister gave me hanging up on one of the walls by my desk in the office.

I try to take the time to find and send good Christmas and birthday presents to my siblings (and my parents whenever possible)

I send messages via text and email when I find things that remind me of my friends that are far away

I write physical letters about the really important things from time to time, because having it writing is sometimes the best damn thing.

As far as missing my Gran, there are a lot of things I do to keep her close. I wear at least one piece of jewelry that once was hers almost every day. I think on her a lot, and occasionally write to her when I write in my journal.

Oddly enough though, the thing that makes me feel most connected to her is tending a heart leaf philodendron that I acquired when the office got moved around

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The reason, I think, why I feel so strongly connected to Gran with this happy little plant is because when she was still alive she had one that basically dominated the whole end table in the living room on which it sat. The fact that this one is not only surviving, but thriving under my care just feels good, and makes me feel like she’s with me in this case…particularly because I tend to have a problem keeping house plants alive.

What kinds of things do you do to stay connected with the people you love and miss?


“When I was young I didn’t understand, but now, I know, how absence can be present, like a damaged nerve, like a dark bird.
― Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler’s Wife

Peach Oolong Cold-Brew

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Tea of the Day: Peach Oolong Cold-Brew by Adagio Teas

Description: This Peach Oolong is made with the darker, more oxidized oolongs of Taiwan that are known for having lush, playful flavors. Deeply floral, honey and juicy, it’s not uncommon to have a lovely cup that’s almost like a succulent slice of peach.

This one is actually a multi-day project, as the instructions say “place overnight in a quart of water. Awake to find a tea rich in flavor and aroma”

Yes, I realize it’s now basically winter. However, I still get thirsty and sometimes hot tea doesn’t cut it

Before the steeping, the tea definitely smells of peach, making me think of the ripe fruit and peach tarts

Note: I added sugar cubes when I put the water into the pitcher, because I like my cold tea pretty sweet.

Liquor is (surprise) a peachy yellow in the cup

The steeped tea smells like peaches, with a hint of tartness to it. It tastes pretty much exactly like it smells, like peach juice with a refreshing crispness in the aftertaste that reveals it to be, in fact, tea. Excellent iced tea

Tea Rating: 5/5


They say that the average woman, before finding the man of her dreams, will experience four disaster dates and two heartbreaks.

Apparently, I dated my disasters.

I don’t mean this like you’d think; this is not a post of bitterness and bile.

I have gotten past the point of carrying the illusion that I’m the only one who suffered from these disasters, though I might be tempted to argue that I suffered more.

Essentially, what I mean is that my disasters are not monsters, nor are they the villains of my story.

In fact, it would probably not be a lie to say that I would not be where I am now if not for them teaching me about life, and how not to be in a relationship.

I learned what I can take, and what I shouldn’t.

I learned that I can survive the worst, the harsh things I hid from and survive, even flourish.

Now, I’m learning not to second guess.

I’m learning to accept that I’m not the only one who pays attention and to not feel guilty when my partner *does* pay attention.

He told me the other day, when I was snarly and sad because my week was just not going my way that it was OK, because I didn’t have to always be the stable one in the relationship.

I’m learning to relax, to be good with myself and trust that I’m not going to screw everything up again.

Most of all, I’m learning to make plans for the future not tempered by “ifs” but punctuated by “whens.”


“The emotion that can break your heart is sometimes the very one that heals it…”
― Nicholas Sparks, At First Sight

Goji Berry Green Tea

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Tea of the Day: Goji Berry Green Tea by Stash Tea

Description: Goji berries, native to China and Tibet, bring a slight tartness and bright citrus notes to this refreshing green tea with matcha.

Smells sweet, citrusy and sharp, with a bite like there is ginger in the tea. Same when steeped

Liquor is a light greenish-pink in the cup

Light sweet flavor,lightly citrus

Adding sugar makes the tea a bit more tart and robust

Tea Rating: 3/5


Today’s musing is based off of a line from a song that echos in my mind

The song is Hide and Seek by Imogen Heap

The phrase: “the sweeping insensitivity of this still life”

This phrase catches me pretty much every time I listen to the song, making me wonder what it means

My first reaction is: how can a still life be sweepingly insensitive? Since when does stillness care one way or the other about anything? Also, to me, stillness is restful.

So then I jump to still life, the painting term, which also doesn’t make a lot of sense to be insensitive, although at this point I get an image of a painting of an angry man sweeping a bowl full of fruit off of a table with his arm

This brings me back to an emotional response to that phrase..

…sometimes stillness is not a good thing

The biggest example that comes to mind is when there is a change in your family structure that leaves a quietness in the house that was not there before

Someone dies, someone moves away, someone leaves for another reason, and what’s left behind is stillness

In cases is like that I can absolutely see why this still life would be sweepingly insensitive, because the very fact that it is silent is a screaming reminder of what you have lost

This changes the whole tenor of the song for me

From other lines of the song, the impression I got was more one of anger or frustration at someone because of the end of a relationship of some kind

But, breaking down this one phrase like that, the rest of the song is suddenly sadder than it was before

I love lyrical content such as this; the more you think about it, the more complex it gets, meaning you can listen to the same song a hundred times and still get something out of it

Some people may say music is not meant to make you think but I think that all art is meant to move you, to challenge you, to challenge the world, and music is no exception