Archive for the 'tea' Category

Tea caddy spoon

October 4, 2014

I was looking at an early nineteenth century silver tea caddy spoon shaped like a shell.  I’ve read that real shells had been used at some point for scooping tea and that that is why the shell is a familiar motif in the genre.

I got to thinking about meteors and wondered if they ever impart molten metal to what they impact when they hit the earth — I wondered if a shell has ever become encased in metal.  The idea kind of bothered me, a living creature with an outer carapace it was not supposed to have, maybe like a person living within a paralyzed body but also suffocating, too  —  I imagined distress.

But the tea caddy spoon was itself not horrible, it was graceful and sweet, just in need of a little polishing.

There’s the tag line, “The butler did it,” there’s the Monty Python schtick about “Nobody ever expects the Spanish Inquisition,” one summer at camp, the running punch line was “Fuente Ovejuna” [a play the drama department produced that summer] did it.”  For me, my mind is always drawn back to a meteoric event, I’m not sure why.  It’s connected with my fascination with feathers on the ground and with leaves swirling down from the sky.  I can even hear echoes of it in the myth of Icarus and in the story of Lucifer’s fall.  And I apparently am reminded of it by a silver shell antique tea caddy spoon, too.


Putting the elephant together

April 9, 2014

I make reference to the Sufi tale about the blind men and the elephant fairly frequently.  It represents for me a shorthand way to refer to differing perspectives, to refer to our understanding of God and the mystery of the universe, to refer to the need for the human project of sharing.

So when I saw a tea-for-one set with an elephant, I decided to buy it.  It’s a gift for myself for a couple of occasions.

It arrived today with the cup in pieces.

Broken Item

Willy used to glue such things together, but I’m not sure even he could have repaired this one, as there are some very small fragments.

But it makes a great reification of a metaphor, actually it reifies a couple of metaphors and brings them together:  Henri Nouwen’s focus on us as broken vessels, his focus on that cup that we have trouble draining, and the Sufis’ separated parts of the elephant.

We had to send the nytimes store a picture, so that’s how I happen to have one.



February 11, 2013

My mother has taken to drinking tea since my dad’s death, and while I was there, we’d put up the kettle for both of us.  It doesn’t have a whistle, so after the noise of the water coming to a boil would stop, we would look for the steam coming out of the nozzle.  And we would say, “Habemus papam.”  Two Latin majors.

Reading the tea leaves

November 23, 2011

I drink a lot of tea, mostly black tea, usually from loose leaves.  I have taken to using the leaves twice; I make a cup with a deep basket infuser, leave the infuser in the inverted lid to the cup, and later on I make a second cup with the same leaves before consigning them to the compost heap and starting for the next cup with a fresh spoonful of tea.

I found myself multiple times recently having to catch myself from pouring the boiling water for the second cup into the basket before re-placing the basket in the cup.  So, I start to wonder what that could mean, what is the lesson, what is the teaching.

I think it could be a metaphor for me.  I feel porous, like that nylon mesh basket and without the double glass walls of the cup surrounding me.  I get drained by other people easily.  Others have observed that I need to not take on too many activities or people simultaneously that drain me, especially since I am drawn to care-taking.  Sometimes I do this consciously, other times I find that the plans I think I should make (like arrangements for my volunteer work) keep not working out, and I hear the universe saying something like, “No, that’s not what you should be doing.”  With the volunteer work, I also find myself having really intense coughing spells as I’m driving home afterwards (when the arrangements have come to fruition), which I don’t take as positive reinforcement for repeating the experience.

So, without trying to make myself out to be more “unique” than I actually think I am, I do try to take care of myself, as they say, by not putting myself into situations that drain me.  I think that’s a large part of why I don’t make more extensive use of what’s available on-line, on the internet.  I don’t feel called to, even if I feel others noodging me to, and I do perceive substantial drawbacks to trying it out.