Saturday, April 22, 2006

Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.


Continuing my musings of color from my previous entry...

Anyone who knows me knows that I've become a bit of a tea drinker in recent years. Now that my career is firmly built around writing, I take comfort in a great many little rituals to help inspire the little voices in my head that do the heavy lifting.

Tea is one of these rituals. It gives me a few minutes to carefully prepare the mug and make sure it's just so. It allows me to get away from the keyboard, to think about how I'm going to structure that next block of prose, to toss some phrasings around my head and decide which ones work, which ones should be tossed and which ones can be tweaked before I get back to my computer.

It also allows me to wrap my hands around something warm. When I type, my fingers tend to get very cold. I have no idea why this is so: perhaps I type too quickly, or perhaps this is nature's way of saying I need to gain a few pounds. Either way, a warm mug of tea is just the ticket to keep my mind and my fingers limber.

This image came about by accident. My Mom had made me a mug, and I was letting it sit - as I always do - so that it would gradually cool from just-too-hot to delightfully warm. As I chatted with everyone else around the table, the sun did its thing in the sky and placed a little sunbeam through my mug. The low-key color and shading caught my eye, so I quietly eased my way out of the conversation and waited for the right moment to shoot.

The result isn't bright yellow. It doesn't jump out at the eye and scream for attenion. Instead, it just sits there, interesting in its own right, waiting to be discovered by the eye, to be enjoyed quietly while the rest of the world churns on. Which pretty much confirms the whole tea ritual thing in the first place.

Your turn: Please tell us about one of your rituals of life. Why does ritual matter to you?

36 comments:

colleen said...

This is my ritual! I'm a major tea lover and I completely understand how getting up to make tea can give you new insight into the formulation of writing. Sometimes, I think of my mind like a snow globe and I have to shake it to make and be able to see a new scene.

I almost posted about tea today and will soon. I had the strangest cup of tea yesterday while eating out. I took photos of it and thought of you when everyone was looking at me photographing a cup of tea!

Thanks for you always supportive and insightful comments.

keda said...

wierdly its the same as yours.

earl grey tea, a little milk, hot with my hands around it before i write.

though as you can no doubt tell i rarely spend any time thinking about or 'tweeking' my prose! i should maybe try that.

also every night before i sleep no matter what the situation i enter the lets room and arrange their bed covers and kiss them each on the forehead or cheek and say "i love you angels, see you in the morning" . i can't sleep until its done.

amanda m. said...

Coffee is my ritual, and the cats. They seem to know when to come over and interrupt me, make me sit back and stretch, warm my hands in their soft fur coats.
My fingers used to get really cold, then I raised my chair so that my elbows are higher than my hands. Better blood flow to my fingers, not as cold now.

jennypenny said...

One of the rituals I have is definitely the stopping for coffee on my way to work. There is one lady there I see everyday and I feel like we both look forward to saying hello to each other. If she isn't working that day for some reason I feel like I can't start my day the same.

I just wanted to thank you as well Carmi. You comments on my posts are always so thoughful and articulate. You don't just skim over the post and write a sentance. I am always so happy when I see a new comment from Carmi because I know it will be helpful and insightful. Thanks again and have a great weekend.

Alison said...

I love how you noticed the light on the tea AND took a photo. It is good to notice the details like that.

My ritual? In the morning I read through my e-mail and Bloglines as I sip my coffee. If I can't do that, I at least need to read something while I get caffeinated.

moon said...

Great question...I think rituals often mean calm or contentment but they also mean security...we feel secure in knowing we repeat things in certain order which then makes one calm and content..like a natural flow of things in your world...it is very evident in the work I do...since I have 2 mentally and physically handicapped adults that live with us full time, they absolutely need *Stucture..it is the same thing as ritual I find because it's an organized routine in the day that lends them to feel more secure in their own life and *head...no routine/ritual means no security which means they become disorganized,confused and unhappy....the basic thing can be said with raising our children...and ourselves, we all need ritual and structure to grow....all that being said..your tea is a perfect example of how we make seemingly simple things very important in our lives...
One of mine is after I feed my borders lunch, then the dogs, then myself...I sit down with my coffee, and while it cools, I open up the laptop and read all my favorite blogs...I never do this untill I have done the above..it's kind of like a treat I deserve Only after I have done that job..so I can better enjoy reading knowing I can relax with everyone happily fed lol.
Sorry this was so long.

Lisa said...

I have to start every morning with leisurely cup of tea or coffee while reading the newspaper. It usually means I have to get up earlier for work, but its crucial that I start the day with that low key routine. I hate feeling rushed and frazzled. The way the sun settle on your tea cup is beautiful! Beauty pops up in the weirdest places, doesnt it?

Paul Sveda said...

Strange, but the same ritual as you Carmi except that its coffee. Also the mid day shower to break a creative block. Something about hot water and a minute of not thinking that helps.

Michele says hello ..

cheers,

P.

mar said...

I used to drink first my earl grey - black!!!unlike you :) and then coffee...now I am drinking only coffee for breakfast (black!!!). But first I need a small glass of cold orange juice, that keeps me going. I was gone for two weeks. Made me realize I can live without blogging, but it is so much nicer to include it in my daily rituals!

Dave said...

I certainly like a good cup of tea but it must never be Earl Grey, much to aromatic for me. I'll have good old English Breakfast tea such as PG Tips or Brook Bond, something like that. Here from Michele's today. By the way loose tea or tea bags?

Paste said...

Oh I'm with Dave, and I'll have it with bacon, sausage, fried bread, and a cheese omelette.
Here from Michele's today.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I love this picture and your whole description of this Tea Ritual...I have lots of rituals and right now my morning fruit-for-breakfast is an important ritual for me. Besides enjoying deciding what fruits are going to go into this each day, (Pretty consistantly the same, depending on what's available)...I enjoy the cutting up of these fruits and the colors, too...plus the touch of protein that goes in this fruit bowl--some Almonds...I feel like I am doing something healthy for myself and I enjoy the eating of this mixture very much, too...

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Oh Dear...Once again I forgot to say I'm here from Michele's, my dear Carmi...

Peaches said...

I like to get up and enjoy a pot of coffee with the spouse after the boy is left at school. Long, lazy mornings with coffee. That's my ritual.

srp said...

My nose gets cold at the keyboard. Who knows why?
Hmm...let's see, rituals.
Morning showers.
Starbucks white chocolate mocha with a shot of almond.
Sweet ice tea with lemon for meals.
Ah, yes, one I miss now that the munchkin has grown up... rocking in the rocker, reading "Goodnight Moon" for the upteenth time and listening to the mellow sounds of "The Rock-a-bye Collection" while Nyssa falls asleep. Sigh.
Here from Michele, this time.

Sandy said...

First, you're color 'study' has prompted me to post my own color thoughts.

Ritual. Hmm, I've not really ever thought of it. Now I must go ponder on it. Thanks for making me think.

surcie said...

I love how you captured play of light and shadow here, Carmi.

jsdaughter said...

here via michele today- hmm- my ritual is when everyone has gone to bed for the evening and I wander through my quiet house with a cup of coffee or a diet coke- depending on the weather! Then I reflect on all the things I am so grateful for..

Pearl said...

Wow, that is a pretty tea shot. I find tea helps decompress too.

So far as cold fingers, maybe you literally write from the gut so the blood flows there and away from your extremities?

My life is strangely ritual-less, apart from flipping on the computer as soon as I wake up or get home. That might be more compulsion than ritual tho. :-p

rashbre said...

I also enjoy tea. Actually, I would normally drink Earl Grey tea black - no milk. As a day to day tea, I'm currently drinking Yorkshire tea, which is a strongish tea, best served the traditional British way with milk.

And my ritual is to get a kettle going for tea as a first priority in the morning. I may move to coffe later in the day, but you can't beat starting witha good cuppa.

Another favourite tea of mine is the smoky and dark large leafed Lapsang Souchong.

Time for a brew.

Here today via Michele's.

rashbre

shpprgrl said...

I'm not a tea, coffee or soda drinker.....mainly water. But I have other rituals. I do the same thing every day when I get to work. (I won't bore you with all of it.) My desk has to be neat before I can get busy....When I was teaching it was the same way. My subs always told me it was a challenge because the kids always let them know when they weren't doing it my way....lol!

Goodbye Mes Amis said...

I love tea too. Right now I'm in to an herbal redbush from South Africa.
I sometimes blog when I need to work on "serious" essays as kind of a warm up.
Also, I take a lot of baths with bubbles.

By the way Carmi, you should check your blood sugar levels just to make sure you don't have diabetes or something...

panthergirl said...

I love Earl Grey. I recently bought a Keurig individual cup coffee/tea maker and I LOVE being able to pop in a "k-cup" and have my Earl Grey in about 10 seconds.

I used to have an Inginuitea cup thing from Adagio but it was impossible to clean.

Here via michele! (My weekend "ritual")

grins said...

I have always been a tea drinker, will always be a tea drinker. I drink it english style, meaning lots of cream and some sugar. Love Earl Grey but my current favorite is Stash's Double Spice Chai Black now. Yummy.

Karen said...

Great photo! Honestly, you have such a photographic eye, Carmi! Nice job...truly! OK, I'll stop with the exclamation points!

Here via Michele's, but I'm a regular, as you know.

Sparkling Diamond said...

For me, its the act of making coffee. Grinding the beans, using a beautiful hand-crafted spoon to measure it all out, filtered water and then picking the perfect mug from my collection.
I believe in having rituals and have many.
Lately I have been drinking green tea and thoroughly enjoy it!
As always, a great post!

used*to*be*me* said...

Coffee is my ritual. I drink a cup on my way to work but that isn't where it ends. When I get to the office, I pour myself a cup of steaming hot coffee. Then I let it sit while the computer starts up. I go through anything that may be on my chair and take my first sip. At this point the coffee is far to hot to drink. I log into the system, check my company email and answer what I can. Then I check my calendar, my boss' calendar and my task list. I print that off and go check for faxes that may have come in after hours. By this time, I've been at work around 20 minutes and my coffee is just right. I then sip it while I prepare my handwritten list of things to do and prioritize my day.

I've been doing this so long, my weekend mornings feel alien to me when I work on the home computer.

Aimee "Roo" said...

that looks very yummy! michele sent me, and i'm glad that she did. your blog is cool and i wouldn't have found it otherwise.

margalit said...

No tea for me, although I like it plenty, but a nice cuppa joe is the bees knees. I have a french press coffee maker, so it's kind of a meditation to make a cup of coffee. First I have to measure 1/2 decaf from Peets and 1/2 real coffee from Starbucks (don't even ask, it's too complicated to explain) into the bottom of the pot.

I boil the water in a stainless steel italian kettle that has a birdy whistle to warn when the water is boiling. Once it's boiled, I pour it into the french press, place the top on, and then sit to wait 4 minutes until the coffee is brewed.

While the coffee is brewing I get out my gigantic french coffee bowl, pour abot 1/4" of half n half into the bottom of the cup, then when the coffee is brewed, I push down the press and pour the coffee into the cup.

It's so good.

Here via Michele

kontan said...

I have enjoyed your picture posts. It is always a pleasure to stop by and see a new find.

My ritual? Morning coffee. In the summer I love to sit on the patio enjoying the morning air and the sounds of chirping. During the school year it's grab a travel mug and run!

Begered said...

Awesome pictures here on your blog! Now that you ask, I started thinking...I have no rituals. At least none that come to my mind. I do stuff stuff way too randomly, even coffee. I try and should drink it everyday to function but I don't. Maybe I need to slow down in life a bit to enjoy a ritual that will get me through the day. This was almost like therapy...thanks! Here from Michele's.

Marisa said...

Tea is my ritual only when I'm sick, thanks to my mom. Then, I have it with a teaspoon of honey.

As for rituals now, I have to have a cup of coffee every morning. If I don't, I'm a crab. And it's not because of the caffeine. I went for years only drinking decaf and my boyfriend commented on my mood on the days I couldn't get that morning cup in.

vanx said...

I cannot write without tea. I must drink--I don't want to think about how many cups per day. When I started in the journalism game, people smoked at thier desks and the managing editor had a bottle of Jim Beam or Wild Turkey in his drawer. THANK GOD THEY HAVEN'T TAKEN THE TEA AWAY FROM US...YET ~,:^0

David said...

ill take credit for inspiring this picture, am I right, or am I right???
love it - very nice! michele bla bla bla

Killired said...

another great pix... only when i first saw it, i thought it was very light coffee... is it regular tea or do you have some sort of cream or milk in it? i'm not a tea drinker, but i love coffee with all the foo-foo stuff in it!

Mike Wood said...

seven years late to the commenting, but I really like this image and the narrative about how it came about. :)