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August 22, 1998
a year ago

Tea and Time

Today started with exercises, as John was busy outside the patio, and the folks that were re-painting house were out there and working. Luckily they arrived late enough that I got a good morning's sleep before I had to get up.

My main goal for the weekend was to rest my hands. To do a few things, but make sure I could work when the week started again. It's funny, because this weekend was the weekend for Dragonflight, and it was the weekend I was originally going to go down to San Jose when the Dragonflight people decided not to come up. It's also the weekend that was supposed to be the one before release; but things have been pushed back a few weeks, mostly because there are more barriers to integration with the old code then were first anticipated. There's a lot of work to do, yet.

It's nice to have a goal which is nothing more than to rest.

Yesterday I received, in the mail, the mail-order catalog for The Republic of Teas. Since I see their canisters at the grocery store, I never really equated them with the great tea suppliers. My favorites have been Upton Teas, Special Teas, and The Imperial Tea Court. I didn't believe any grocery store tea could give such quality at a reasonable price. There is a local tea company, the name has something to do with Moon, that sells to retailers. They have elaborate tins and astronomical prices.

The Republic of Teas has always had reasonable prices on fairly reasonable teas and herbal blends. They now have two new product lines, a line of green teas for daily consumption, and a line of totally organic teas and herbs. In the catalog, for the first time, I saw their line of rare teas, which included a first flush Makaibari estate Darjeeling. That was quite the surprise. There were other estate Darjeelings in the catalog, some organic and some not, only a few organized by which flush. There was an intriguing Indian Assam breakfast tea, a white sage and desert tea blend, and the ginger and mint after dinner herbal blend. There were a lot of old favorites as well, more common teas, which seemed to be well prepared and described.

One thing the catalog had which no retail outlet had was an entire list of samples of all their teas, except the rares, which would make seven to ten cups. A perfect sampling size and very affordable. I really enjoy variety, so ordered about half a dozen samples along with a tin of the Makaibari estate Darjeeling, and also, finally, got myself a 13 oz. ceramic, glazed tea pot. It's exactly the size necessary to make a mug of tea, but unlike my Yixing pots it won't absorb flavors and scents from any of the teas I make in it. So, I'll be able to just rinse it out and go onto the next mug. The various oolong teas and pu-er teas do better in the Yixing pots, so I will make them there. But the greens do better in porcelain or glass or ceramic, and the flavored black teas and herbal blends would only ruin the Yixing pots.

John kind of laughed when I talked about getting another tea pot, but I don't think he understands the satisfaction I get out of the physical ritual of making tea. Especially making tea with all the proper implements and timing. It is certainly possible for me to use one of the various filter baskets I have, put it in a mug, spoon in tea, pour water, steep and pull out the basket. It makes a perfectly acceptable cup of tea. There is, however, something physically satisfying about brewing the tea in a pot, and then pouring the brew into the mug.

I drank a lot of tea today, as it was on my mind. I also mailed my order. I filled it out, and then took Fezzik on a walk to the mailbox, and enjoyed the walk through the woods and the simple sensation of pulling up the flag on mailbox after placing my letter within. Fezzik got a lot of walks this morning, as John had taken him out to get the paper and walk around the neighborhood; but John had forgotten the newspaper, taking only the comics with him on the walk.

Every Saturday afternoon the local PBS station has a number of cooking or food related shows. This afternoon it was a show entirely on ice cream, the various ways it is made at specialty shops across the nation. It made me very hungry for ice cream, and a Sunset magazine at the dentist had had a number of ice cream recipes in it. When I was there for the correction of my tooth guard, I memorized the recipe for the vanilla custard version because it sounded really good.

After banging away at the patio for most of the morning, John ran into a point where he had to go out and find more stuff for both the patio and moving the hot tub. So, we went out shopping.

Shopping with John is always an adventure. We start with the list of things to get, and then deviate as interest and time allows. We started at Lumbermen's, a local hardware and lumber store, then went to Eagle, and then we went to the brew supply place. John goes there regularly for his beer supplies, and Dave was going to be throwing his annual Octoberfest. John had promised a few batches of beer for the party, and needed the supplies. As he was debating his schedule and running the two batches of beer in serial, I asked if buying another five gallon car boy (a large glass bottle that the beer ferments in) would allow him to do them in parallel. He said yes, so I encouraged him to buy another bottle. He laughed and said I was easy, and I agreed. It's good to see him get into and enjoy his hobbies, so it's never hard for me to encourage him to do so. Besides, the bottle was only another fifteen dollars, compared to five gallons of beer it wasn't that expensive. Compared to multiple batches of five gallons of beer, it was nearly laughable.

As we drove to the brew supply place, we saw signs for a Tupperware open house. For about the last two years we've been looking for a replacement for the Tupperware bread box we gave to my parents. This seemed the opportune moment, so we followed the signs and found a place that was trying to sell overstock. The problem was everything we really wanted had to be ordered. The lady there was very nice and ordered what we wanted, and said she would call us when they arrived.

Eagle hardware was fun to poke around as well. John had a few electrical things he had to take care of, and I wandered into the lighting looking for a simple halogen, clip-on lamp for my rocking chair. They didn't have any, but a salesman complemented me on my hair and asked me if I was an art student. I just said no, though I was tempted to tell him I was an engineer, that would have been amusing. John did get 50 yards of the three by six copper wire, and the coil was so heavy he had a hard time hanging onto it with his hands. So I offered to carry it, and I put the coil over my head so that the weight was balanced between my shoulder and my hip. That way I didn't have to use my hands to carry anything, and my legs could handle the weight when it was balanced over my entire torso.

So, that worked, and since we were hungry for lunch, we dropped by the local Chinese bakery, called Best Cake. They do excellent Chinese style cakes and pastries, and we got two of their meat buns for lunch and two of their fancy cakes for dessert.

As we walked out of the bakery, John saw the ParkPlace automobile dealership just next-door. There was a silver M3 parked right there, and he marveled over how small it was. We wandered through the dealership, just looking at all the different cars. The dealership specialized in novelty cars, special one-of-a-kind models and makes, so there was a lot to see on the floor. It was somewhat bemusing to follow John around as he balanced the bakery box in one hand and poked his nose into gorgeous cars with mirror finishes and leather interiors.

The salesmen properly ignored us. On the way home we dropped by a grocery store, and I ran in and grabbed a pint of half in half. That's all. We then made our way home, and John started brewing while I made the custard for the ice cream.

While I was waiting for the custard cool, John wandered off and then came back to tell me that Fallen was available at the local movie rental place and that they were holding a copy for us. I had spoken to him earlier about wanting to watch that movie, as the evil in the movie seemed very much like an In Nomine demon. The counterpart to Sephar, in many ways. So, I hopped into the Stoat and ran off to the video store to rent the movie.

When I got back the custard was cool enough to put in the freezer. Many years ago we were given an ice cream freezer that used one of those frozen containers that's kept in the freezer for long time, rather than the traditional salt and ice to freeze the cream. When we first got it it didn't seem to work very well with any volume of liquids, but I now think that it was because the canister hadn't been frozen for very long. I'd only done one cup of the pint of half and half for the custard, and when I put it in the canister to freeze, it did just fine, and froze so quickly it was pretty evident it could handle at least twice the volume in liquids. I did the vanilla mixture as written in the recipe, and added a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon. It's one flavor I don't get with any commercial blend, just a light cinnamon touch over creamy vanilla. If you do make your own ice cream, it's something easy to try and very good with fruits that you would normally pair with cinnamon.

Dinner was just leftover, stuffed chicken, reheated in the microwave, and some green beans that were French cut and nuked as well. We have a lot of small potatoes, so I skinned a few and boiled them for mashed potatoes. It was a filling and hot meal, followed by the cinnamon ice cream. Yum.

We then settled and watched the movie. It was very good, lots of interesting twists, but just a touch more horror than I like. It helped me realize just how terrifying Sephar could be if he really wanted to be scary. Especially if he had no compunction about whom he possessed and for what. I know that the demon in the movie is more like a Shedite than a Kryiotate, but the whole feeling of jumping from person to person was in there.

It gave me a lot of food for thought and for the plot.

I made the mistake of drinking some bi lo chun, which is a green tea that is specifically picked during the first blush of spring. It's a rarity, sweet and clear, and a liquor unlike any other tea. It's my favorite, but the one thing I always forget is that it is extremely high in caffeine for green tea. Actually, it has a high caffeine content for any tea. I'm not exactly sure why, but this one tea keeps me awake even more than coffee does. Oops.

So I was up until 2 a.m. plotting. I also watched a TV show that looked like it was based on the FX movies. It was low-budget, but intelligently scripted, and something of a surprise on late night TV. The hard part about my plot had to do with how to capture or keep in one place a Kryiotate, especially one that might be split between two hosts. I finally think I figured out the trick, but will reveal it only in the story. There have been too many times when I've told the story in short form only to find that all motivation to tell it in long form disappears

My sleep was filled with Kyriotate dreams. Some of them rather unpleasant, and had to do with a demon holding a Kyriotate hostage with its host.

Brought to you by Dragon System's NaturallySpeaking.

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