Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tea Taste - TAZO Calm Tea....and HONEY

I recently had two fillings in the lower left part of my mouth re-filled the other day, leaving me, at first, quite numb and unable to talk due to shooting pain that left me quite speechless. I spent most of my night after the event pacing my apartment while holding my jaw and moaning in agony. Not even watching The Talented Mr. Ripley, one of my favourite movies, could calm me down…except for a cup of chamomile tea with both fresh honey and a piece of the comb in the jar. Ever since my publisher introduced me to the ways of the honey with my tea, I have turned away from my old friend granulated sugar. The only time when I will use sugar, however, is when I have a cup of the King of Teas, Earl Grey. Every other tea that I drink now is flavoured with honey. Honey, as I have learned, enhances whatever flavour the tea possesses rather than just sweeten it up like sugar. Honey adds a subtle yet not overpowering flavour to the tea, blending in quite nicely for the taste buds to savour and enjoy. So, on the night of intense pain and watching Tom Ripley assume the guise of Dickie Greenleaf and live the rich lifestyle, I prepared a cup of TAZO Calm tea with a spoonful of honey and piece of honeycomb that later melted and created a decent waxy addition to the already delicious cup. For the record, TAZO Calm tea is by far one of the better chamomile blends out there; rather than just straight chamomile tea for a quiet end to a hectic day, Calm has quite the blend of other herbs along with chamomile to produce quite a fragrant cup while doing the job of creating such a peaceful moment. Thankfully the tea laced with honey did the trick and soon, I was in my bed fast asleep with a not so throbbing mouth that soon dissipated in pain.

Happy Cups!

Book Review - In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway

It is with great satisfaction that I return to the works of Ernest Hemingway. He is one of the reasons why I love to read so much as well as one of the reasons why I am an author. In Our Time, a collection of short stories, proves to be Hemingway at his finest while being such a slim work. Included in this collection are stories regarding a young man named Nick Adams, tales of World War I, the gory spectacle of bullfighting and other tales of a random nature. Yet, each story is packed with such quiet grace and charm that one cannot help but be moved by Hemingway’s words. Who else can describe a man fishing in a river with such feeling and emotion that one feels as though they are either the man or the fish? Who else can tell of a dying bull with such simple descriptive words and yet give the reader more than they asked for? In my own experience with Hemingway, I noticed that he wrote with a down to earth flair, stories for the common person who could appreciate reading poetry one night then go hiking on a forest trail the next or go on safari in Africa. His words are a quiet rumble, a slow and graceful building towards a conclusion that is a slight wavering of whatever emotion just happened to be portrayed in the story.
In Our Time tells tales of ordinary men and some women who live their lives day to day, not ever knowing what to expect from the world or from within. Nick Adams is an all around man of America: he fishes, loves girls and can eat ham sandwiches with hobos and insane folks. It is through this character that one can get a glimpse of Hemingway and what he experienced and lived through his own life. Nick has his faults but we can forgive them; after all, he is a man. Although I enjoyed the entire work, my favourite story is Soldier’s Home, in which a young man returns from the Great War to live with his family in a listless and uninspired fashion. His parents, however, want him to become a productive member of society and put the thoughts of war behind him. However, it is because of those memories that he is a member of society with no label. He is the face of the Great War, of young men who gave up their lives for their country. That story, without a doubt, touched me greatly for its honesty of those who were able to come home. I had put off reading In Our Time for months, always choosing something else to devour and read. However, when I read the first lines, I was glad to visit my old friend again:

The strange thing was, he said, how they screamed every night at midnight. I do not know why they screamed at that time. We were in the harbor and they were all on the pier and at midnight they started screaming. We used to turn the searchlight on them to quiet them. That always did the trick.

Yes, Mr. Hemingway, it certainly did the trick.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tea Taste - Celestial Seasonings' Sleepytime Herbal Tea/Day of the Dead

Today is the Day of the Dead. 10:18pm, Central Standard Time. While I am typing this, I am listening to Herbie Hancock’s Empyrean Isles CD and thinking of my granddad who passed away this July. He was the jazz fanatic in our family and it was because of him that I am a lover of jazz music. He used to play his records for me when I was little and I learned all about Miles Davis, John Coltrane and others while my granddad told me stories of a world not too long ago but understandably not forgotten in his lifetime. Because of today being what it is, I had a cup of Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Herbal Tea with wild honey in honour of my granddad. Sleepytime Herbal Tea, for those of you who don’t know, is a good way to get sleep. One cup of the herbal brew and you are asleep an hour later, thanks to the ingredients of spearmint, chamomile, West Indian lemongrass and other herbs that blend so well together and create a taste that is soothing and relaxing. In short, it’s a great way to end the day. I raised the hot cup and toasted him well, hoping that he is no longer in pain and that he is jamming away with Miles, John Coltrane, Lena Horne, Cannonball Adderley and others. Now that Autumn is in full swing here, having a good cup of tea at night is such a moment of simple bliss. Tonight is no exception.
So, here’s to you, granddad. I raise my cup to you and smile, knowing that you’ll always be with me.

Happy Cups!

Book Review- Symptomatic by Danzy Senna

Danzy Senna, author of the book Caucasia, pulls out all the stops in her novel Symptomatic. Not only do we have a novel that is quite representative of the psychological thriller but there is also an element of racial concerns that actually blends itself well within the tale. The narrator of the story is a young biracial woman from California who moves to NYC for a job who begins the tale with moving in with her somewhat boyfriend, Andrew, in order to escape her room at a boarding house. After meeting his friends at a party one night and finding out that they are racist when they begin making fun of maintenance people from their prep school and black people they see on TV, she moves out of his place and discovers an abandoned apartment through a co-worker named Greta Hicks who is also biracial. However, Greta is not all that she appears to be and in the shocking end, the reader learns just how far some people will go in order to deny who and what they truly are.
Through the eyes of the narrator, the reader is subjected to not only the slow downward spiral of events regarding her new apartment, but also her life as a biracial woman and how having a foot in both the black and white world is quite a precarious matter. At times, the narrator appears to be white while other times she appears to be black. She is a chameleon of sorts until the reader learns that not even she knows who she is. Senna spends quite a bit of time explaining the background of the narrator and why she is such a distant person who is quite impossible to love anyone and be loved by anyone. Her family was quite eccentric and seemed to love on a random basis, while she drifted along the currents like a piece of driftwood. When Greta comes along in her life, a fellow biracial person seeking like with supposedly like minds, the narrator does make a halfhearted attempt to befriend the lonely older woman, only to retreat quickly when Greta begins to show signs that all is not well in her own life.
This was my first time reading Senna and for the most part, I thoroughly enjoyed the slim novel. When a writer can grab my attention and make me flip through pages at a rapid pace, then that is a good trait to have. Her voice through the words seemed as though I was with the narrator watching the events unfold before her. After reading the first chapter, I immediately checked the Internet to find out more about Ms. Senna, hoping to learn as much as I could from one writer to another. What I discovered was that others who had read her work felt the same way; her voice was fresh, new and quite unique given her background and the topics she has written about. My admiration for Senna goes beyond literary; to talk of racial matters without browbeating it into the ground is a welcoming breath of fresh air. Senna has the charm to reveal such a world without overdoing it and for that, I tip my hat to her in sincere admiration.