I love China Bayles. I know, I know – sh

I love China Bayles. I know, I know – she’s fictional; the creation of Susan Wittig Albert. She owns an herb shop in Pecan Springs, TX. I would love to visit. Albert has published “China Bayles’ Book of Days”. I seriously recommend it. Her June 8th entry provides some information on the history of tea and its legends. “According to Chinese legend, the first cup of tea was brewed about 5000 years ago by Shen Nong, a.k.a. The Divine Cultivator. One day, he was boiling water outdoors when leaves of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis) blew off a nearby bush and dropped into the water. The Divine Cultivator tasted the brew and found that it hit the spot. A cup of tea was on on everyone’s table.” http://ow.ly/i/nfOV2

Doesn’t tea smell delicious? One of the

Doesn’t tea smell delicious? One of the nicest moments is breathing in the fragrant steam. Or has your cabinet taken on the odors from your tea stash?
Some may disagree with me and say it’s a waste of tea but…
Take a teaspoon of your favorite tea, maybe Steeped Tea’s Harvest Spice for fall?, a teaspoon of oil and put it in a tart burner or scent warmer. The scent will permeate your environment. http://ow.ly/i/ndLa9

Pu’erh (pronounced “p’ware”) is a dark a

Pu’erh (pronounced “p’ware”) is a dark and earthy tea. It is a post-fermented Chinese specialty and is sometimes referred to as dark tea, black tea (different from our North American black tea), or red tea. Pu’erh is known in China to help in digestion and breakdown of fat. This tea takes its name from a town in the Yunnan Province of China (similar to champagne getting its name from the Champagne region of France). Like wine, it improves with age; some pu-erhs are still drinkable after 50 years! The tea leaves are processed like green tea, then heaped into piles or formed in bricks. Heat is then combined with moisture to encourage natural bacterial fermentation. When the tea is ready, it is only partially fired. This stops enzyme activity, but leaves the tea moist enough to continue to age.
This tea can be brewed several times – some say as many as 10 times! Do not over-steep. Oversteeping can result in a bitter taste. Recommended steeping time: 2-3 min.

Try some Gingerbread pu’erh from Steeped Tea. http://ow.ly/i/naKpT http://ow.ly/i/naKu0

Perception and Judgement

Background: We live on a tiny street.  It’s a dead end.  There are currently three occupied houses.  There is a house that has been foreclosed and abandoned at the end for around 8 years.  There used to be a house next to ours but it was razed and a used car lot expanded.  Said car lot included a massage parlor.  Right! We are off the service road of a major highway.  On the other corner there is a building that used to be a Sons of Italy hall.  One day when I was at work I saw a headline on the news.  Either the Gallos or Gambinos were stopped in a bomb plot because the hall wasn’t cutting them in on the illegal gambling.  The Feds closed it down.  It then became a computer place.  Well, not really.  It and the car lot massage parlor were closed for prostitution.  We thought we still had the illegal gambling.

Now, as I have blogged, I have had problems with my husband who when he is sober is seriously the best people.  However, when he’s not….  I have had the police here roughly about 20 times.  Once the cops said, “Weren’t we here already today?”  No, that was across the street. So, across the street, they have come but not as often.  However, a few years ago, they had a SWAT Team.  The one neighbor, Vinny, who may be the only normal family on the block would do nothing about the car lot.  No, don’t mess with the Mafia.  The same response when our garbage isn’t picked up or our street plowed.  We approached him about the massage parlor.  Same answer.  Man, you have a 12 year old daughter, at the time.  “We have a dog.”  The SWAT team house had homeless friends and asked Vinny if they could stay in the abandoned house next to him.  No problem.  Uh? Squatters?  My husband went ballistic and had that shut down.

Now, SWAT team house has a renter.  He is white but has dreads and piercings.  If you have read me, he is the owner of the chicken that crossed the road.

We have woods behind us.  Vinny and our family feed feral cats.  We both have taken in some of them.  There’s been a new sleek one that we have been feeding. He thinks he lives at our house and literally knocks on the door to be fed.  We recently found out that it is Dread’s aka Greg’s cat, aptly named Mr. Cat.

Vinny’s daughter doesn’t go to school in our neighborhood.  The schools are not bad but mixed.  She recently changed to a bus.  Vinny stopped and asked my husband about Greg.  He saw him walking around and was concerned.  He was looking for Mr. Cat!  He has a decent job and works every day!  Vinny asked my husband to watch for his daughter off the bus.

So, he’s not concerned about prostitution, illegal gambling,  squatters, police visits but a white guy with dreads?

Reality, perception and judgement.

Before we get started on our Thirsty Thu

Before we get started on our Thirsty Thursday recipes, let’s learn how to make the best tea we can. The following is courtesy of Harney and Sons
Brewing Instructions
The Correct Way to Brew Tea
1. Preheat a teapot by pouring boiling water into it, raising the temperature of the pot to 180°F (82°C).
2. Discard the water. In a teapot holding up to 6 cups (1.5 liters), add 1 teaspoon (5g) of loose tea for each cup of tea you’re brewing. For pots that hold up to 12 cups (3 liters), add an extra teaspoon of tea for the pot.
3. Pour fresh boiling water over the tea or tea bag. This super-saturates the tea, allowing the perfect extraction of the flavor.
4. For black tea, the water temperature should be 210°F (99°C), just under the boiling point. Let the tea steep for a full 5 minutes. Herb teas also require near boiling water and should be steeped for 5 minutes. For green tea, use water below the boiling point the temperature should be about 180° to 185°F (82 to 85°C). Steep for 3 minutes.
5. Pour the tea through a strainer into the cups.
Note: These are general guidelines. If your tea container has brewing instructions I would follow those as they are probably ideal for that specific tea.
Water
There’s a favorite saying in the tea world: Water is the mother of tea.
Before you start your tea kettle, know that the chlorine and other chemicals in ordinary tap water will unfavorably affect the taste of these teas. Always use filtered water when tasting teas, unless you are fortunate enough to live near a spring; spring water is ideal.
Brewing Temperature
Different teas require different temperatures to fully release their flavors; generally speaking, the darker the tea, the hotter the water needed. Water boils at 212° Fahrenheit, but that heat will scorch white and green teas. Their more delicate flavors best emerge between 160 and 190° Fahrenheit. Most of the finest black teas taste best brewed at only 205° Fahrenheit or so. You can buy electric water-dispensing pots, machines that heat water to precise temperatures. These machines are not necessary; just insert an instant-read thermometer into the spout of your kettle to gauge your water temperature before pouring the water over the leaves. Sometimes I give a range rather than a precise temperature; as with brewing time, the exact temperature can vary with each batch of tea. Experiment to see what works best.
Brewing Time
Different teas brew best for different lengths of time; the darker the tea, the longer the brewing time. My brewing times (see above) are offered as guidelines only, as every tea is different; My box of Lung Ching may need three minutes, while yours may need only two. Observing both the tea liquor and body will help you gauge whether you have brewed your tea for the correct amount of time.
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Pasted from <https://www.harney.com/brewing-instructions/>

Out of Work Summers – Beach and Bleach

I am writing this from my laptop in the backyard.  I am sitting in what we call our screen house so I am protected from the sun.  There is a delightful breeze.  I have been unemployed for 9 months; second longest period so far.

In periods past, I would be just returning from the beach.  Due to this condition that has been closed to me for now.  I can no longer tolerate the heat nor can I walk on the beach.  I used to find solace, peace and joy at the beach especially when I was out of work.

I started my unemployment  career in the garment district.  I went in and out.  Then I ended up at a major company and wa there for almost 9 years.  I loved what I did and was excellent at it.  The 90’s happened as did a merger.  I was treated in a textbook/case study manner.  I stopped getting invited to meetings.  My work was taken away from me.  I was let go with severance.  It was the end of May.  All my associates were let go after me.  I was grateful for this as it angered me and I would have been fired.  They let go a woman who had been there for almost 20 years.  She was paid less than what I used to expense for lunch and dinners weekly.  Ah, that expense account.  For nearly 10 more years, I didn’t make as much as my expense account.  I’d clear out my files and cry as I shredded the expense stubs that were larger than my current pay stubs.

When I lost that job (and I hate that term, I didn’t lose it, it was taken away from me) I was depleted.  I headed to the beach and spent so much time there my naturally dark hair bleached.  I also decided that I was going into business for myself.  I wanted a company that would never treat people like my low paid friend that way.  I have a great sense of what  is going to be popular fashion-wise and I had made connections literally all over the world.  I reached out to my network and received enormous support. What can I say? Great idea.  Wrong time.  Poor capitalization.  I showed merchandise to Brooks Brothers and was told it was too forward; try Paul Stuart. I had an existing relationship with Paul Stuart and was told it was too conservative; try Brooks Brothers.

I became seriously depressed and got married.  Bad, bad choice.  It was not convenient.  I made more money on unemployment than he did working.

I fought my way out and up and ended up part time at a financial services firm.  I was over a thousand hours and forced  to take nine weeks unpaid leave.  It was summer.  I hit the beach and the want ads.  Again, I bleached out.  I had an interview with a company that wanted someone who could do what had been done for my fashion employer.  Uh, that was me.  I came up with a portfolio of designs to show them, arguing the whole time with the late Joebe who wanted to impose his personal taste on the process.  I arrived at the interview deeply tanned from my beach time.  The interviewer took one look at me and said “Obviously, you are not seriously interested in working.”  He wouldn’t even look at the hours of work I had put in.

Fast forward, that  company made me permanent but I left after almost 7 years for the monolithic Bank. Finally, after 10 years was making a little bit more than those old expense account checks.   After 4 years, I was let go.  Back to the beach and back to bleaching out again.  And I married, again!  But this time I knew I would be working in the fall. It was a dream job at a major retailer making more than I had.  I also started moonlighting at the Bank.  What could go wrong?  Chapter 11 at the end of May.  For the 2nd time in two years, I was off for the summer.  Yup, beach and bleach.

Except for the first time at the end, I  was optimistic.  I had ideas and possibilities.

This time, I was let go in the fall after a total of 15 years.  I didn’t have the same hurt I had had with fashion.  My associations were different.  I was optimistic and calm.  I didn’t want to do my own business as I had done previously but actively look for work.

What’s different?  The Internet and my scads of experience.  Even if I was able, no beach and bleach for me.   I spend hours daily sometimes including the weekends looking for a job.  Today is one of the only days I am taking a “break” and writing.  What’s also different this time is that I am getting really good interviews.  What’s the problem?  Well, I am mature.  Experience costs money.  “We want you do but with someone out of college.”  Good luck to ya on that.  Didn’t you hear “You get what you pay for.”  And then, the elephant in the room.  My mobility.  There is nothing wrong with my brain.  I participate in research studies and I can remember the answers I missed the previous year!

It’s summer.  I HATE this condition.  It is taking so much away from me:  no beach and bleach, no walking, no gardening, no JOB!!  I need to channel that sense of optimism and possibility again.  I need to recharge without the beach.