Tea is a ritual and destination every morning. Brewing tea is a moving and sensory meditation. It wakes me up and gets the day going. The tea shelf hosts several orderly and labeled cans (from recycled Zabar’s tea cans) and ranges from robust Irish or English Breakfast to demure Darjeeling to subtle or strong chai, various herbal mixtures, roasted bancha and other green teas, lavender, lime, French Vanilla, and Russian, which is like tea with an exclamation point. Nowhere else is my home or life so orderly and delightful. I sip as long as I can, my thoughts steeping over the day’s to do list, or perhaps a pleasant procrastination, reading a magazine or book. Enjoy your tea and and let it brim with calm vigor as you savor your day.
My mom’s father, Pop Barney, died when I was ten. More memorable than his sweet smile and cigars were the the Charm’s or Tootsie Roll lollipops he gave us on visits. His status as a Depression-era Brooklyn candy store owner commanded respect. A lollipop from Pop was a special treat, and often came with his words, an incongruous aphorism, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Who understood adults, anyway? We understood love, and a lollipop was love on a stick. I get that now, when I give my little grandson heart stickers or the Bomba chips he loves. The lollipop era may have had its last licks, but the memory of Pop’s pops will linger forever. What bygone treat can you taste? What flavor was your lollipop?
I once met a soil engineer. I don’t remember what he did, but it sounded important. He gets his hands dirty and saves the earth. I throw a few seeds in the soil and watch them scatter, hoping they will land somewhere. Nebraska? Alaska? Staten Island? How far will the richness of imagination (as opposed to earth science or soil engineering) travel? I like to believe that my toil today enriches the soil. As I dig and scatter, I’m more earthworm than tractor. Can’t say that about the coal and oil guys. What about you?
Just because something is edible doesn’t mean you should eat it. Which is why at a young age, after my mom put a tongue (as in cow) out for lunch, I swore I’d become a vegetarian (which I did, in college). People eat many disgusting, tasteless, icky, slimy, delicious but bad for you foods, in the name of edible adventurousness. We don’t have to swallow everything put in front of us. Eat to live the edibles that delight and nourish you, and that don’t destroy the planet or gross you out.
Okay, I try not to rant (too often), but this one has been showing up a lot. People who say things like “I’ll only take a minute of your time” or “I’m not selling anything.” They are. Worse, friends or acquaintances who “just want to vent” but really are dumping their hurt, pain, stress, and a vente-size worse. I rarely can get a word in (as in, “I’m not a therapist” or paid by you to be one), and if I do, it goes south. The “venter” just wants a “sounding board,” or an empathetic nod, which in my case, would be fake because I’m bored. I’ve heard it before. So what’s the dumpee/ ventee to do?
Start off with “do you want me to listen, or do you want advice?” They will lie, and say “yes,” but the advice offered will usually be resisted or rejected. Here’s what I’ve come up with (and often failed at): 1. Ask the questions again and maintain significant eye contact. 2. Give a few moments of empathy, assuming the friend is in rightful distress. 3. If you ascertain that they are in dumping mode, monologuing, or not interested in any response from you…change the topic. This will annoy the dumper terribly, but talking about a movie or the latest news scandal will stop them in mid-air and preserve your energy field. They will soon find a more sympathetic (and less practiced) ear.
If all else fails, wrap your aura in an invisible pink bubble, light sage, a candle, or do some other new age-y technique. For children or people you presumably can’t get rid of, say, “you have two minutes.” Give them that time, after which you smile and change the topic. Any other ideas? Please let me know in the comment box. The environment’s a mess, we all need to do our part to assure a cleaner future.