Monthly Archives: April 2011

Life of a Tea Drinker, Chapter IV

Chapter, the Fourth

In which the author explores the myriad of hobbies she will not be participating in this summer, after desire has fizzled and laziness takes over…

Remember that herb and potato garden I planned to cultivate? Get real. My loving husband bought me a seed starter kit and herb seeds for my birthday years ago and I have yet to start them. He knew I wanted an herb garden. I knew I wanted an herb garden. Alas, my fear of failure prevents me from doing something productive.

A few years ago, I entertained the idea of going back to school to get a second degree in biology, with the hope that this would lead me to new career in marine life studies. As per usual, the best laid plans…

Why do people never finish that? It’s from a Robert Burns poem, which  is often mistakenly credited to Steinbeck in his novel Of Mice and Men. Is it because the following words are Scottish and people don’t want to mispronounce them? Because really, they just sound like they’re trailing off and don’t care enough to finish their statement that is often, ironically, meant to provoke thoughtfulness and motivation. Here’s what should be said, as Burns wrote it in “To a Mouse”: The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley. One could even quote an English translation: Go often askew. Either would be fine, but please, finish it (even if paraphrasing).

Robert Burns (image from poets.org)

It isn’t often that one can take a Robert Burns tangent, but back to the blog (To the Blog!).

The more I thought about this plan to become a marine biologist, the more I feared failure. It had been a while since I had taken college classes. Did I remember anything? How well did I really do in biology? What kind of time committment would it take to get such a degree and a subsequent career? These are the kinds of things that make hobbies out of old dreams and mere thoughts out of old hobbies.

With the help of my parents (my husband Mike was studying for an exam, if I remember correctly), I dug a flower bed in the front of our house. I filled it with flowers that bloomed beautifully and doubled in size the rest of the season (it’s an old house with very mature soil). Then fall came, and winter, and spring again. The annuals that once graced our soil were dead and gone. The perennials were coming back, but they didn’t adequately fill the space alloted in the flower bed.

It’s been 3 years.

So did I start my seeds for my herb garden in the backyard? No. Did I go out and buy potato seeds and mark off a place for them by the patio? No. Next year? Let’s just keep telling ourselves that.

Beading. I loved beading. I would make all kinds of jewelry for my friends and family (whether they wanted it or liked it is another matter). There were a few pieces that I was proud of (now in my mom’s collection), but for some reason I stopped. I got as far as acquiring the necessary tools and materials for metal working, but it never came to fruition. Is it because I don’t think I’ll be any good at metal jewelry? What do you think?

Sometimes I leave work and think, “I’m going to go home and read more on that novel.” Or “I’m going to look up something in my ocean reference books.” What actually happens is I push open the door and my eyes land on the TV (why do we keep it in the front room?). Wouldn’t it be nice to just take a load off for a while and watch some tube? Maybe some snacks to tide me over until dinner? What starts out as a half hour of transition from work to home turns into hours of vegging and no reading.

I’d like someone else to plant me an herb garden. I’m so jealous when Giada pulls out a fresh bundle of basil she’s harvested from her abundant garden in Southern California. I want to cook with my own fresh herbs! Someone build me an herb garden–and throw in some potatoes!

Basil (image from viable-herbal.com)

Maybe I’m a dreamer–a designer–not a doer. I can dream it up, but I can’t dish it out. Just ask Mike how motivated I was to get off the couch and help with the kitchen rehab I was so excited about. Or my novel that’s gathering dust because I’m not working on it. I have amazing, entertaining plot ideas, but I want someone else to write it. What if I can’t get my ideas out there in a clear and engaging manner? What if I ruin the story? Fear is a de-motivator.

Reader, wherever you are, I wish you accomplished goals and realized dreams.

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Matcha Redux

If you look up the word redux in Merriam-Webster online, you’ll find that “aw-shucks” is a possible rhyme. Good to know.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been too busy trying to persuade my husband to neglect work on his Master’s thesis to hang out with me to notice that I hadn’t posted a tea review. Did I mention my tea whisk came in the mail more than a week ago? Yeah, I’ve been lazy.

So what did I do with my new tea whisk? Try the matcha again. The whisk is a beautiful, fragile instrument for mixing tea powder. Wash it delicately. Most are made of bamboo, so the risk of fraying the fibers can be avoided by hand washing and air drying.

Tea whisk

I heated my hot water (not boiling) and added a little matcha powder to a bowl. You need to do this in a bowl instead of the tea cup, otherwise you won’t have enough room to get the foaming action.

Whisk matcha until it gets foamy

Here’s a video illustrating how to properly whisk your matcha.

The results:

The foam is exciting while you’re whisking, but it settles quickly. Mine did fade faster than the video instructor’s. Especially after I poured it into a cup. Oh well. Perhaps if I whisked a little longer the foam might have stayed intact…

I have to say, I’m not a huge fan of the matcha flavor. A little too grassy. But it’s super healthy and an interesting experience that’s steeped in tradition (see what I did there with the pun?). I’d encourage you to try it. See my earlier post, Matcha Matcha Man, for more details about matcha.

Note how the tea whisk uncurled in the hot water. So cool!

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Life of a Tea Drinker, Chapter III

Chapter, the Third

In which the author, being of sound mind, explores the monotony of waiting for eaglets to hatch, and the joy of watching a newborn eaglet stumble around its nest…

I started my morning by sleeping in, waking up to the noises of my neighbor moving everything he had in his backyard. I went downstairs in search of a glass of OJ and a little light reading.

Breakfast with Tina

Were you expecting the New York Times? Please. Who doesn’t love this photo of Tina Fey. I became a fan of InStyle in college when I needed something light and a little superficial to break up my steady influx of Charles Dickens and Samuel Johnson. I hadn’t bought an issue in years, but the featured Tina Fey and Spring wardrobe tips forced me to spend the $4.99.

I also had to tune in to…the Decorah eagles!

 

Mama eagle

They’re all the rage on the Internet, but don’t be upset if you haven’t heard of them. The Raptor Resource Project is monitoring via live video a mother waiting for her eggs to hatch in Decorah, Iowa. The nest is 80 feet high and 5 to 6 feet across. You can get an idea of the size of the eagle and each of her eggs.

A coworker introduced me to the site on Friday and I haven’t stopped watching since 4 PM that afternoon. I’ve become obsessive about the mother and how she keeps her eggs warm, rotating them like sausages in a skillet (sorry, but that’s a pretty good analogy). It may seem monotonous to watch a mother sit on her eggs, feathers blowing in the wind, and wait for her to get up and turn them. Well, it is. At 2 AM last night, she was till sleeping (beak tucked under her wing), so I went to sleep.

How could I have slept in?! First hatch 4/2/11, the site reads. What?! Serves me right for sleeping in. The first eaglet was hatched early this morning and is truly adorable, even if you don’t generally like birds.

 

First eaglet

How adorable is that? He/she is so fluffy and curious about his/her new world! OK, so if that doesn’t excite you, we would never understand each other. Cute things are infinitely entertaining. My husband had to put up with my watching a Hershey’s Kiss Easter commercial at least 5 times in a row. He reminded me that the DVR was not invented so that I could watch cute commercials over and over again. Umm…then why was it invented?

It must be bizarre to be a newborn eaglet, trying to figure out how your wings and talons work, while trying to keep your balance and not trip over your unhatched brothers and sisters. I guess it must just be bizarre to be a bird of any kind.

We were babysitting my 1-year-old nephew last night, and I had the live feed on my laptop the whole time. Anytime he would point to the screen, I would say “eagle.” I’m sure I succeeded in teaching him that a computer is called an eagle.

Second hatch shouldn’t be long! Tune in and join the eaglet excitement!

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