29 December 2005


I never posted my UK pics....here are some from Pam's camera.

Twinings is one of the oldest standing shops in London. That's the real attraction; I can buy their tea in NY.

England Rocks! is memorabilia, touristy stuff, in Covent Garden

Here you see me standing in Covent Garden on Day One. I look silly but who cares.

Books! Books! Books! 2005

I love books. I'd eat them if I could. In a way, I do. I average 40 books completed in one year. My record is 63, but I was unemployed that year. If only one could be paid for reading what they liked!

Anyway, though I'm kicking myself for not having read any actual classics in their entirety this year (I did read a good portion of Pride and Prejudice for the second time, but not cover to cover,) here is a list of books I enjoyed in 2005, in no particular order:

Perdita by Paula Byrne: Biography of Mary Robinson, actress, writer and royal mistress. Extremely famous in her time (the late eighteenth century), but virtually forgotten after her death. Her life was so scandalous, she was practically the mother of English tabloids, and a fashion icon. Also a friend of Marie Antoinette (note to Anonymous: she was, not me.)

Facing the Lion by Simone Arnold Liebster: Proof of the power of faith, regardless of age. Also encouraging to see that even those who are strong spiritually can have negative feelings.

The Island at the Center of the World by Russell Shorto: New York during its Dutch years. Behind the scenes footage in the parent countries. History usually dismisses Dutch New York (New Amsterdam) as unimportant, but here is evidence that its effects are still existent today.

The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde: He never fails to delight.

Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran: Fictional story of three Iranian sisters living in Ireland and running a restaurant. It had a fairy-tale quality to it, and actual recipes!

Queen Isabella by Alison Weir: Biography of the wife of England's Edward II and story of the first successful invasion of England since the Norman conquest of 1066. Should have been titled "Desperate Times call for Desperate Measures". Also, evidence that Edward II may not have been savagely murdered via hot poker in orifice.

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi: Memoirs of a teacher in Iran from the late 1970's till the mid 1990's. Riveting (I always wanted to use that word) tale of living in dangerous times, maintaining a sense of self, and using fine literature to survive.

Q & A by Vikas Swarup: Novel of a boy orphan who wins a TV game show. He is suspected of cheating and arrested. His story is told as an explanation to his lawyer of how an uneducated kid from India could know the answers to all of the questions, even those designed to trick him. Riveting - (ha ha!) and thoroughly humorous. It felt like a Dickens/Mistry hybrid. Possibly my favorite book this year.

I know, I'm into history. What can I say? If I want to read about the present time, I pick up a newspaper.

You may have noticed no tea books on the list. That doesn't mean I did not indulge, but tea tomes call for a separate entry. Coming soon......

Moscow Cats? Theatre

I saw the Moscow Cats Theatre performance in the theatre at BMCC. Much as it is impressive to see cats actually doing what they are told to do (my cats won't even respond to their names most of the time), there was too much clowning around. We would see a pretty good trick, and then wait another 20 minutes for the next impressive feat. The best trick was the own shown in the photo. I suppose the greatest talent one can expect from a cat trainer is making sure the cats don't get freaked out by the applause.

Verdict: Okay, a few laughts, but not worth $40.

27 December 2005

Purple Reigns

It's rather limiting to claim a favorite color. After all, tastes change and so do moods. When I am asked the question, though, my answer is green. I suppose it has something to do with its calming effects, the reminder of fresh cut grass, and of course, green tea. In fact, the first thing I watched on TV the day my dad bought our first color TV (I grew up in the 80's; this was not so unusual back then) was a baseball game. The color of the field grass: unforgettable.

Still, I have leaned towards purple in many other ways. The majority of the clothes in my wardrobe are purple, have a kind of purple in them, or go with purple. There is no season for purple: violet, lavender, lilac, it's always fitting. Most colors go with purple: green (!), some blues, red, pink - purple is the new (and more cheerful) black. It's associated with royalty, but belongs to everyone. Purple hats are awesome!

Even better, there's no holiday (at least in the US) associated with purple. In this color, no one asks me, "Oh, is it St. Patrick's day already?" or any other banal comment like this.

Tea itself is not purple colored, but teapots and cups are often painted with violets...so it accompanies tea.

Nice thoughts to dwell on in the gray winter.

Sino likes my bag

I love the looks people give me when I carry my cat tote bag. Some mistake it for "Puss in Boots", but I think it's supposed to look like Henry VIII. Those who know me view the bag as evidence that I have truly lost my mind. (Better than losing my head, which would have been possible if it really was Henry VIII. After all, I am a Catherine, and he had three wives with that name, none of whom fared very well.)

21 December 2005

Something to Complain About

It seems the favorite pasttime of the average New Yorker is complaining about anything: living conditions, commute, weather, customer service, whatever. Now we actually have something substantial to whine over, it is not as fun. But here goes: I'm Tired, My Head Hurts, It's Cold Out, I Wanted To Go To The Met This Week But That's Out Of The Question Now, And The Strike Never Seems To Be Ending Even Though It's Only The Second Day!

Ah, I feel better now.

On a lighter note, Sino's kidney levels have improved. He's on a no-seafood diet, and he growled at Zenobia, which for him is a good sign.

20 December 2005

The Longest Commute Ever

Transit strike! Those words always left a chilled fear in my heart. And now, one of my worst nightmares has come true.

Thankfully, many of my co-workers are from Queens, and one of them has a van. So at the crack of dawn she set out. Over two hours later she arrived to pick three of us up at Astoria. That's how much traffic there was today. She'd already picked up 3 people and we were the last stop in Queens. Still, we crawled through LIC and though the 59th Street Bridge didn't take too long, we arrived in midtown after 10:00 A.M. That's 4 hours after our brave driver set out this morning! And remind me never to drink coffee before a long van ride. Not my brightest move.

Well, it's good to be here. Hope the strike ends soon - it's too cold out; otherwise I would walk to Manhattan.

19 December 2005


Their hot chocolate is one of the best I've ever had. A whole restaurant, in Bath.

Why don't we have this in New York? We're doing fine on tea shops, but chocolate, I don't know. If there are good places, they are have not become manifest to me. Any recommendations, NYers?

15 December 2005

Reasons I Like Elephants

They are not my favorite animals, but definitely in the top ten.

Elephants are big and bulky, but in some places respected as gods - so you can have it both ways.
They usually seem to be smiling. Except in this picture.

Nothing wrong with a little wrinkling, even in a young elephant.

They are thought of as intelligent creatures, but get disturbed if a mouse crosses their path. Good excuse for me to use each time I see a cockroach.

I rode on one once at the circus. It felt less dangerous than a motorbike and less frightening than the clowns.

Finally, my Dad cried while watching Dumbo. (Hope he never reads this one.) I think the tears were alcohol-induced, but it's still the only time he ever cried at a movie.

14 December 2005

My Sine

My poor boy has a hard time keeping his food down nowadays. He's almost 13, the age Duforth was when I lost her. I hope he can make it another year!

13 December 2005

Nothing Really Matters....

I took an online quiz that was to determine which Bohemian Rhapsody line I am. This was the result:

I'm 'Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me'!

08 December 2005

Bratty Cat

Come on, you know this is cute!

Lennon Reminiscence, or Blathering

25 years...what would he have thought of the world that we live in today? Would it have made a difference?

I've often wondered if I would have liked to have known him. Many sources claim he was a difficult, nasty person, hard to get along with (though certainly not one who deserved to be killed.) Still, he had a great sense of humor and was introspective enough to engage in lengthy, in-depth conversation. Perhaps five minutes of conversation would have worked for me and then the cigarette smoke would have diverted my attention (also why I could not have talked to Freddie Mercury for long.)

I met his son Sean a few years back. Not quite the same, is it?


I've been sick this week, to the point that I had to take Wednesday off. I wasn't happy about this, but I would have been useless at work. Tomorrow I have off anyway, so I will do a full day of convalescence - soup, sleep and sniffle. (And tea, duh.)

I never receive the "benefits" of sickness: weight loss and dramatic paleness. Only a deadly flu causes me to drop 5 pounds - not worth the effort, is it? And instead of the goth-white that some people take on, I become a drunken red blotchy color. Splendid.

Possibly the only interesting side effect are the wild dreams I get whilst sleeping in. It's the only time I feel like I dream in color. Don't worry, I won't get into the content of the dreams, it would not be fascinating to anyone else. At least I can derive some entertainment from being unconscious. Everyone loves a good horror movie now and then.

01 December 2005

London Lantern Article on Tea

I had to share!

Tea - Different Categories and How to Brew It
14/11/2005, By David McIntosh
Reader Rating: 4.5 from 2 votes

Now that we know the three major types of tea there are some other categories to consider. Black teas are graded using the term pekoe which comes from the Chinese word for ‘silver haired’ and pertains to the silvery down on young tea leaves. A well-known variety is ‘Orange Pekoe’ and the name most likely comes from the House of Orange, the royal family of the Netherlands. The first of the large tea trading firms in Europe was the Dutch East India Company.Orange pekoe was considered an especially fancy tea since it a beverage favoured by the Dutch royal family. The younger the leaves used the fancier it is considered. Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe is with is made with the tips of the leaf buds while Broken Pekoe has fewer leaf tips and Pekoe Fanning and Pekoe Dust have been crushed more during the processing. The last two are often used in tea bags since they release flavour as well as colour more rapidly into water.Gunpowder, Imperial and Hyson are all varieties of green tea. Young, high-grade leaves are rolled into small balls in gunpowder tea. They look like the small lead shot used in muskets thus giving this variety its name. Hyson is also rolled into balls but not as tightly and if leaves used are a bit older then the tea is Imperial.

Other types of tea have names that betray their geographical origins. Assam comes from a northeastern part of India wile Darjeeling comes from an in the Himalayas that is only about 200 miles from the spot where tea was first discovered growing wild. The high altitude results in a long growing season which, in turn, results a high quality harvest during the time of the year before the arrival of monsoon season. As for herbal tea, it contains no real tea but instead herbs so we will forgo any discussion of it.Now we come to the preparation of a good cup of tea but there is something you need to know; there is probably no better way to start a polite argument among tea afficionados than the way you go about making a good cup of tea. Do you add milk after pouring the tea or before? What is the correct amount to let the tea stand after adding water? Sugar or not? Things like that. Passions run strong and feelings run high when the subject is that of how best to brew a cup.No less a personage than George Orwell would weigh in on the subject with piece that is considered a classic much referenced when the talk turns to that of how to prepare the perfect cup of tea. Now, according to Orwell only Indian or Ceylonese teas should be used, the main virtue of Chinese tea only being its economical price since "one does not feel wiser, braver or more optimistic after drinking it." According to Orwell the phrase ‘a nice cup of tea’ means an Indian tea.

He also tells us that tea should always be made only in small quantities in a teapot "tea out of an urn is always tasteless" and that the pot should be warmed beforehand. Also, the tea should be strong and it should be put right into the pot without making use of strainers and the like. The water should be boiling and the tea should be poured into the cup before adding milk though he admits the milk-first proponents are able to muster strong argument in favour of their stand.Others, however, have stated that milk must be, upon ‘pain of eternal damnation’ be poured into the cup before pouring in the since that is the best way of determining the strength of the cup of tea; in other words by colour.Anyway, the truth is that it probably depends on the taste of the person making the cup of tea. Here are some basics. Warm the teapot with boiling water. Make your pot of tea with water that has been brought to a boil then allowed to cool just a bit. Put a spoonful of tea in the pot for each cup then pour the water into the pot. Stir gently to distribute the leaves then cover the teapot with a tea cosy and allow to stand for the correct amount of time which may differ among people though a good rule of thumb is about three minutes.As far as adding sugar, Orwell is against it, but others say it is okay as long as one uses sugar cubes or lumps. Again, let you taste determine whether to add sugar. This much is important, when stirring your tea, please try not to make too much noise, you will give yourself away as a novice at drinking tea.