27 February 2006

More than a "Scream"

(I wanted to put the Mermaid, but this is a "G" rated blog.)

Edvard Munch's paintings are many and varied. From what I could tell from the overcrowded free Friday night at Moma, this guy was talented and reached old age. What an amazing feat for an artist of his time!

I'm not much of an art critic, but I was moved. I would tell you to have a look at this exhibit.


Probably the most enjoyable way of spending a late Sunday morning is a long, relaxing brunch. It's comparable to afternoon tea, just slightly earlier. (Of course, when I had "afternoon" tea on Friday evening, it was just fine to me, since I had Rooibos.)

Yesterday four of us tried a place in Astoria that all of a sudden has entered a collective awareness amongst my friends: Cafe Bar. I'm not a bar person, but during the day it's all right. Inside it's kind of funky, all kinds of couches and eclectively appointed. (Sounds like a hotel review!) One corner of the room looks a bit like the basement from "That 70's Show," without the chemical additives. I ordered a fine omelette, full of herbs and goat cheese. Absolutely adorable. Their french toast was good, and their fresh fruit perfect. My one complaint (yes, here it comes) was the tea. Of course. They boasted a large tea menu, and I ordered the Ceylon Green Tea. They served it in a bag! That was not the biggest problem, though. Not only was it just a bag in a glass, but it was four bucks!!!!!!!! What is this, Paris? The tea tasted just fine, but don't rob me blind!

Overall, I recommend it, but...(cringe)....get the coffee instead. Not that I got rave reviews of that either. Okay, get a Mimosa.

Otherwise, I'm quite relaxed.

23 February 2006


Bon's new blog address is mahabani.blogspot.com. Just so you know!


Recently I remembered one of the odd characters of my childhood. Her name was Dotty, and she never came out of her house.

Dotty lived across the street from my family, and a few buildings away from the elementary school we attended. I have a vague memory of her being on the corner of our block with a dog, though I can't remember what breed it was. My parents explained to me that when her husband died she stopped coming outside, and only ventured to the corner with her dog occasionally. When the dog died, she stayed inside, though she always leaned outside her window, resting her arms on the window sill as she surveyed the block day after day.

Funny how when someone is eccentric or mentally unbalanced in your life as a child, it seems almost seems normal, or at least acceptable. My father didn't think the same way and tried to help her, offering to accompany her to public assistance places or whatever else required outdoor activity. She wouldn't accept this, and instead changed the kids on the block into beggar interns. Sometimes they would knock on our door, saying, "Dotty needs a can of soup and two eggs," or "Dotty needs a few pieces of bread." My parents obliged for the most part. I even went to the store for her with my sister at least once. Everything she ate was soft, because she lacked the teeth for anything else.

Come to think of it, she really looked like a sea hag. She had grey hair always died back, few teeth, and a weathered face. She reminded me of Lady Elaine Fairchild from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Her voice was much older than she was, as a result of many years of smoking. I guess Virginia Slime was modeled after her. Ironically, she was the first to report to my dad that my sister and I were smoking, even though they were only candy cigarettes.

I don't remember disliking her or even being scared of her. We all took her for granted as a permanent fixture in the neighborhood. She'd be there when we were playing with other kids across the street, and she was my own personal crossing guard (and I never got hit by a car during that time.) I have no idea what her legs looked like, as she only leaned out the window. That's probably why she seemed like a puppet.

One day when I was about fifteen I was home alone recovering from a cold when the phone rang. It was the NYPD asking if I knew a Dorothy H- I can't remember the last name. I didn't know who they were talking about until they gave me her address and told me our family's phone number was one of the few they could find in her home. She died alone, and we were the closest thing to the next of kin.

A few days later my dad took me across the street, and showed me Dotty's window sill. There were two shadowy markings from where she used to lean her arms. It was rather macabre.

Some family moved into that apartment soon after, and they painted the window sill. There's nothing left of Dotty except a photo of her in the distance, peering outside, never stepping out. I feel "Eleanor Rigby" coming on....

22 February 2006

The Gift That Wasn't

Almost 3 years ago I bought a teapot for my sister Pam in this shop in Covent Garden. It was appealing to me because the teapot was in the shape of a dog, which looked a lot like Pam's fantastic Cookie. Sadly, despite my instructions to label my luggage "handle with care," someone was a little rough with one bag of mine. It happened to have the teapot in it. The spout, or dog's head, was decapitated. I still haven't fixed it. Sorry, Pam.

16 February 2006

Tea Memories

Thought I'd share some old (well, 2003) pictures of me making a blend of tea at Whittard. (Somehow I placed the pictures in backwards order.)

I've written about this place before, the T-Zone where you can use different oils and fruits, some spices, to mix with base teas (Keemun, Assam, Sencha etc.) to make something really flavorful. Though I usually lean toward the teas without flavoring nowadays, like Darjeeling, I don't mind the occasional Mango Indica or, of course, chai, which is much more than tea. Still, I am slightly more snobbish about the quality of tea than I used to be, say, ten years ago when I was still a teenager. I took the time to have a refined tongue, though this usually only applies to tea and chocolate (maybe some pasta sauces too.) Yet when I look at my photos and videos from ten years ago, I looked a lot more like an uptight snot than I do now. Maybe I am a more relaxed person nowadays. Perhaps, like wine or Pu-Erh, it pays to age a bit.

15 February 2006

Writer's Cramp

When I pick up certain pens to take a message or to jot a note to myself, I get the sudden itch to write. Usually this happens when I simply don't have time to devote to literary greatness. When the opportunity presents itself, though, there are a certain amount of pages I can write before my hand gets tired, at which point I decide to do something else. What a baby. I was watching "Pride and Prejudice" (the Firth version, sounds like I'm lisping) and I noticed how many times a writer in Austen's time would have to dip their pen into the inkwell whilst writing a letter. Sometimes this happened a few times in a sentence! How did anyone write full books in those days?

How spoiled we are now, with our laptops and soft touch keyboards. How can we not write when inspired? Still, I do love the feeling of a fine pen on actual paper. It's lovely.


I don't think I devoted any space to Duforth. That's terrible, as she was the sweetest cat that ever lived. The less bratty version of Zenobia, and Cinnamon's companion. Really, he started falling apart after she died. Though they fought at times, she was the love of his life.

Me too

Marie posted her cat Maxie's double. I found a cat that looked a lot like old Sino in his heavier days, and guess what? This one's also named Cinnamon.

13 February 2006


It obviously snowed this weekend. Record levels! But it's not qualified as a blizzard as the wind wasn't strong enough. Okay.... I still think 26.9 inches is nothing to sneeze at.

I'll have more pictures soon, but I thought I'd leave these peaceful backyard shots as a reminder of how lovely snow can make things (when it's new anyway).

Nothing like a cozy day with a warm cup of tea and a number of good books, and Napoleon Dynamite. I also watched The Sign of Four, a Sherlock Holmes mystery with Jeremy Brett. What an old teatime favorite (for me).

And I still made it to work in good time this morning.

09 February 2006

Magazine Musings

I recently renewed my subscription to this magazine, and I'm glad I did. It is designed for tea lovers, and even the pages smell fantastic! The most recent issue features the only tea garden in England, which is quite extraordinary. I'm going to have to visit the garden next time I'm over there. There was also a recipe for chai, tea book reviews, an article about Serendipitea (see my links), and tea poetry. I'm sure most tea lovers know about this magazine, but if not, now you know.

I really can't be bothered with other magazine subscriptions. Although the glossies are appealing, I wouldn't want to receive any of them regularly. Sometimes I spend my lunch hour in Barnes and Noble with a cup of tea or hot cocoa and a stack of mags to look through. (It's not freeloading - I'm buying the drink! For goodness' sake.) Besides, once I look through the recent mags, that's it, I don't want to see them again. The only time I really want to buy them is before boarding a plane. I can't concentrate on a book when I'm in the air, and the light and mindless reading of Vogue, Bazaar, Elle, whatever, is just the thing to keep me calm. Sometimes I buy magazines in London when I'm there because of all the freebie attachments that one would not find in American mags. Cheap thrills!

Of course, (and I think I've written about this before but it merits a repeat mention) Victoria magazine was the best, and I still miss it. There were always articles on tea, but there was so much more. Rest in peace, Victoria, and if anyone wants to perform a periodical resurrection, I'm all for it.

02 February 2006

Old Favorites...

When the Pathfinder was new (it's not mine!)

Giardino's: we used to go there all the time...and then it wasn't fun anymore. Still, their Penne Alla Vodka was good, and great on a budget.

Sino in 2003: so pudgy. My dad called his cheeks "snowballs". Sob!

Kitties 2003

From an old roll of film just developed:
A calico cat we used to feed in the backyard, Chubby thinking he's Buddha, and Chubby giving Moof Moof his tough boy stare.

01 February 2006

My Newest Acquisitions

I love Chococat, and Hello Kitty. I love being able to carry my own tea around. Now I can combine these two passions into with these thermoses, which I bought yesterday. I'm not usually into chrome, but the Chococat picture is just so appealing. Yes, it doesn't take much to make me happy. I feel young again.