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The long dark tea-time of my soul…

It was blustery yesterday– that would be the best description for the weather. I woke to the sound of the leaves swaying crazily overhead on the oak trees just outside my bedroom window. (Thankfully, sometime over the weekend the trees seem to have divested themselves of their last acorns, or I would have thought us under attack! )

The sun was bright, and the clouds full and white, scuttling across the sky with a fair amount of speed. The temperature was still mild, just hitting 60, but because the wind was so insistent, a jacket was the order of the day.  As the sun went down, the air had that pungent, crisp autumn scent, and after coming in from grocery shopping, my mind said TEA.

I try to listen to my mind, and so tea it was. I filled the kettle, remembering with a smile why I own a Revere kettle that whistles. (My grandfather was notorious for burning out kettles if they didn’t have a whistle. Come to think of it, he was pretty lethal to toaster ovens, too….)

As the water heated, I chose a mug. My mug shelf is somewhat extensive. (Ok, cluttered. Full, over-running it’s appointed shelf space.) I have attempted to weed it out on occasion, but so many of them have stories, bring back fond memories.  Today I was in a bookish mood, and so I choose my library cat mug, one of a pair that my aunt gave me as a house warming gift when she visited us right after we moved here.

Earl Grey it is, I decided, peering into my tea container. I gathered my spoon, my milk, my sugar (no judgments on the manner in which I dress my tea, please. Thank you.) and I stood, contemplating nothing, while I waited for the kettle to begin to sing. At that point, I needed to stop it quickly, as Timmy was asleep in the other room after working a 16 hour day.

Pouring the steaming water over the tea bag, watching the color darken, and  then dunking the bag, and it occurred to me that tea is a solitary endeavor, a quiet drink, something introspective and not to be rushed. I rarely drink hot tea during the summer—only when at a Chinese restaurant.

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I am a coffee drinker; coffee is my drug of choice, it is made as I arise, (or if I am lucky it’s already been made by my husband) and I awaken to the heavenly aroma of the nectar of the gods. Coffee is enjoyed as I awaken, the cup follows me through the house as I prepare for the day, it finds a home in my travel mug and joins me at work —to be gulped, sipped or forgotten during the chaos that is my job.  Coffee is always a brilliant idea if I were to think about stopping at Wawa or Sheetz on the way home, or heading out somewhere to continue my day. Coffee, Perkins style (endless carafe) is a strong memory of many late nights with friends, out after—after….

Hot chocolate has it’s place, too. First snowfall, Christmas morning, a late movie curled up with my husband in the middle of January…

But tea. Tea is something that requires contemplation. It is quiet, it needs a silent house, a seat, a book, and peace. It is gentle, and requires attention paid to it. I settled in at the table, my nook open to Dragonfly in Amber, and realized as I picked up the mug,  the heat of it even feels different than that of coffee—maybe because I embrace the cup with both hands, elbows propped on the table, the heady aroma of bergamot filling my nose?

I recall sitting with the grown-ups during visits to my grandparents cousin’s house, being honored with a saucer of tea-diluted milk, made especially for the 4 or 5 year old me.  As a child of course, I had tea parties with my dolls, my brother, my grandmother, my dog; complete with the tiny china tea set given to me by one of my grandfather’s friends sister. (Jean Smith– she used to call me up and we would talk about I have no idea what. She always sent me Christmas and birthday gifts, but if I ever met her, I have no recollection.)

(Now, tea party is a dirty word, but I won’t let it stop me from enjoying such a wonderful interlude with quiet, any more than I will allow Joe Morelli to ruin tasty, sweetly frosted cupcakes.)

HOOLOOVOO!!!

The word Hooloovoo has been floating through my head these past few historic days. I am proud to be living in a Blue State again, surrounded by other blue states. By blue people. (Hooloovoo’s are of course a super-intelligent shade of the color blue, a species of creature in Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.)

I’m not going to spout numbers, because I am not a statistician or a mathematician. I am an artist, a quilter, a photographer, an occasional writer and thinker. Therefore, I shall lay out only my thoughts and observations about the recent election. A topic that I consciously chose to avoid during the campaign. (Of course, my blog is so rarely and randomly updated that it would have been a pointless exercise.)

On the days (weeks, months, years) leading to Election Day, we were bombarded with chaos. Absolutely nonsensical rumors became Biblical fact by dinnertime in the minds of too many. On both sides, we saw chaos. Although the timbre and weight of the chaos that was spread by the Republicans, the fear-mongering that was displayed in a country that was designed around equality and liberty for all, a country which was to be inclusive and supportive to all who came to her shores, was pitiful.

The lack of caring for other humans, for those of the wrong religion, with the wrong shade of skin, for those less successful, and ultimately less capable of becoming successful, was in no way Christian to my way of thinking. (Then again, I may not be a Christian, according to some. I am merely Catholic.)

I lived within the shadow of the Statue of Liberty for the first 37 years of my life. I had in my public school Jews, Caucasians, Catholics, Hispanics, Buddhists, African-Americans, almost every other variety of Christian, Indians, Egyptians, and every shade of skin. We all co-existed. It was never an issue in my head that the simple virtue of a person’s skin could set them apart. I was raised on Democratic principles. My grandfather was a judge. (And we were a house divided between Yankees and Mets fans, in the interest of full disclosure.)

Yet on Tuesday, not even a week past, the rest of the country tuned in to my wavelength. My experience. (Ok, not mine alone. I’m not that special. Eight million currently call New York City home.) However, I live in a place where there are people who look at me with awe that I survived living there. They gasp when I tell them I’m thinking of heading to New York City for the weekend.

My husband arrived at our polling place directly after a graveyard shift, at 8:30 am. He called and told me the lines were long, but they moved them inside because of the pouring rain. He called back at something after 10 AM to tell me that he had been unaware that the school had so many corridors, that the lines were snaking back on themselves, and that he believed the entire student body of our local college was in line with him. He was going to fall asleep standing up so he stepped out of line and came home for a nap.

How exciting! How empowering to hear! The choice was going to be all the people’s voice. Our polling place is in a predominantly African-American area. It’s a lower socio-economic area. That is a fact. It’s not a racist thought. It’s not a class-ist thought. It’s the area where we vote, it’s close to where we live. I had not once waited on a line in the six years since we purchased our home. (And to think, all those college kids got themselves up and on line before class in the driving rain!)

I woke my husband from his nap around 2 PM, and we tried again. We walked to the school doors, and a young black man stepped out, gave us a huge grin, and told us, “I voted for the first time. I voted for president!” (As I type this, I still get chills) There was no line. We found the magic hour. I told Timmy I almost felt cheated.

One of the girls from work said at her polling place they were asking each voter if it was their first time. She said the girls in front of her said, ‘yes, it was,’ and the room erupted into applause! On the news, on the internet, in the chat rooms, I heard over and over of the millions of people who got up and dressed in the dark, hours earlier than the day before, who stood on line outside in rain, weather, cold, for hours to cast their vote before heading to their jobs.

And in Richmond on Tuesday night, the police reported— Nothing. They reported ‘No arrests were made and no force was required’. No fights, no riots, no chaos. Only that the large, well-mannered group of citizens ultimately found themselves standing in the dark outside Old City Hall singing the Star-Spangled Banner.

A barrier has been broken, and it wasn’t simply the barrier of race. The barrier was really fear. Why do we fear different? Human is human. Blood runs through all of us, we all need the same things to survive. (Air, food, water, shelter, love.) When a person denies being Muslim, why would you believe he lies, that others are telling the truth, and honestly, what does it matter? Do you know a Muslim? Do you know an African-American, or a Jew? A Hispanic? Is there a Catholic or LDS hiding there, right in front of you? How many people do you interact with on a daily basis who are gay or atheist?

The barrier was broken by the hard work of many, and by the sacrifices that Mr. Obama accepted. (Exposing himself and his family to hate, not being with his grandmother when she died.) There is a steadiness to Mr. Obama. There is no doubt a clear vision in his head. He senses equality to be a right. That doesn’t mean that we become the ‘dreaded’ Socialists with a Capital “S”.

No truer example of socialism is currently in effect in this country than in Alaska, where checks were cut for $3200 last year for each Alaskan. “And Alaska—we’re set up, unlike other states in the union, where it’s collectively Alaskans own the resources. So we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs. … It’s to maximize benefits for Alaskans, not an individual company, not some multinational somewhere, but for Alaskans.” Sarah Palin

But how can a compassionate human look at a poor child and think, ‘Well, you’re not my problem? Your parents should have known better than to have you before they were financially stable.’ (Applying that criterion would wipe out half the earth.) No, freedom isn’t free. There are costs involved. Many people can see the benefits for all of society down the road, even if the costs directly affect them in the moment.

Some people, they can see beyond fear. They can look around them and see themselves being the change, being the catalyst. Some people can see that as they are, things are broken. Some people, like Barak Obama, want to make the world a better place.

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Proposition 8 is the thing that causes tears this week. That so many were able to overcome one fear, and replace it with another. (Maybe we need something to fear? For if we have nothing to fear, would we all have to get along?) It is another battle, and it will eventually fall. It’s for another year. It takes time to overcome irrational fears. Only 50 short years ago, President-Elect Obama would have had to sit on the back of the campaign bus.

Yes we DID!

What I am Reading Right Now..

Reading has always been an important part of my life. I can recall fondly sitting in bed late at night as a little girl, with a book about Jesus as a boy. It had him learning to walk, and a pillow tied to his bottom to keep him hurting himself when falling. It was liberally illustrated and someday I will look for the title, if only to prove I am not making it up!! (If YOU know the book, do tell!!)

 

My favorite story book was Pickles the Fire Cat, and the Magic Fish. I loved Harold and the Purple Crayon, and Little House on the Prairie, and Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew and ….

 

My tastes have changed some since then, but reading is still an integral part of my life. I go the gamut, from flossy historical romance yarns about frivolous heroines to far more literary options such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  One of my favorites of all time would be Douglas Adams Hitchhiker series, all 5 parts of the trilogy.

 

 

I got hooked on Stephanie Plum a few summers ago, totally not the thing I would lean toward, as the books were THIN. I am not much for thin books. I love a hefty 1000 pager any day. But, hooked I was, and after devouring the 12 that were existent, I found that I was unsatisfied with the lack of ending and thus began my journey into Fan Fiction (you can read more about THAT here)

 

 

But I decided last month, to revisit the Outlander series, by Diana Gabaldon. I read them once about three years ago. And I am so very deeply immersed in them (up to book five, The Fiery Cross, at the moment) that I dream Jamie and Claire. Really. Here we have SIX books, over 1000 pages a piece!!! Heaven!!! And a writer who has made everything so incredibly real that my mind can not turn off!

 

 

I have tried to explain to my husband, who thinks it very humorous indeed, that when get caught up in a book, I lose track of time. And I lose the ability to put the book down, for fear of missing something. You can ask Arlie about that. How many dinners were late because my nose was in a novel??

 

 

This is so humorous to Timmy that he tells it to people, embellishing to the point of me sounding slightly weird. He sees it almost as I believe that the book is a TV show, and I don’t have my VCR on. But that isn’t at all what I mean.

 

 

Surely one of you out there understands?? Surely someone can appreciate being so deeply involved in Ann Rice’s The Witching Hour that you would need to pull over on the road to finish the chapter that you had to put down before you were ready??

 

Support me here folks!!!

Sorry, no pictures to go along with this post…. And please, do respond!! I would love to know that people actually READ here!!!

 

 

 

 

 

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