Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Laughter of a Red Priest

(New Mexico - 2015)

The Red Priest saved him. Thomas wanted to shake his hand, even though it was probably nothing but bones, if even that. Vivaldi gave him a second chance and he willingly took it. It began with parents who wanted more than the best for him, followed by unreasonable demands. Next came the girlfriend who told him that she never loved him and that he was a waste of time. A big scoop of constant rejection, denial from those who claimed to love him, and finished off with therapy, pills, and alcohol. Then came a Sunday when he saw a tattered album cover with the word VIVALDI written across it in black. A scene of a pasture, set to calm and induce moments of being comatose, yet it intrigued him. He took it home and put the record on, then wrapped himself up in a blanket and took a long pull of his glass filled to the brim with whiskey. A single violin, drawn out. It tapped him on the shoulder and said hello, causing Thomas' once drooping eyes to suddenly snap wide open. That one violin now joined with other instruments coming together in a gentle swell. He reached for his glass then dropped his hand as he instead closed his eyes and met the Red Priest.  Vivaldi spoke to him in Italian yet Thomas could understand his words. He showed him to a comfortable chair in a small room dressed in indigo and advised him and pay attention to when the instruments begin to laugh. When they did laugh, Thomas began to smile for it was a sound he'd never experienced before. How can someone put into words that an instrument can laugh, or cry, or even say that they love you? Yet, Vivaldi could do that with Thomas. The instruments introduced themselves to the lonely man and welcomed him into their world. He opened his eyes and glanced around at the silence within his apartment. For the first time, the silence was not there to choke him. He got up and turned over the album, then took the glass of whiskey and threw it away. As the instruments continued to show him their talents, Thomas felt the Red Priest's hand on his shoulder.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Insanity of Love

Samuel closed the drapes, hoping that he wouldn't wake up his friend. He knew he shouldn't have come yet his friend needed him. He turned to look at Michael sleeping in his messy bed then sighed. He thought about the phone call he received at one in the morning and how frantic Michael sounded. Of course he would be there, he said as he put on his shoes then dashed out of his apartment and into the frigid December early morning. When he reached Michael's house twenty minutes later, he found his childhood friend wearing only pajama bottoms and no shoes as he stood in front of his house. Samuel walked up to his friend, only to stop as he noticed that Michael's chest was covered in bright green flecks of paint. Michael exhaled, allowing the steam to trail out of his mouth like a dragon, smiled then collapsed to the ground. Samuel carried him inside and took him to his bedroom and settled him in his bed. He watched his friend's paint splattered chest rise and fall for a time then found a chair nearby and sat down. He continued to watch Michael sleep then he too fell asleep. When he awoke, he felt the sun beaming on his neck and so got up to close the drapes. Samuel checked on his still sleeping friend then left his bedroom and went to the kitchen to make a cup of tea. Once prepared, he took his mug and made his way to Michael's studio. When Samuel touched the door knob he gasped at how frigid cold it was. He let himself in, immediately noticing that he could see his breath as the bright lights revealed splatters of paint everywhere. He sipped on his tea and stared at the chaos, only to rest his eyes on a single canvas that stood on an easel in the middle of the room. A woman smiled at him from the canvas. He sipped on his tea then slowly walked towards it, noticing that her eyes were the brightest of green. Just like the green on Michael's chest. She smiled at him, a frozen smile. She was beautiful. He'd never seen her before. Was she a friend of Michael's, or perhaps someone from his imagination? Samuel felt her eyes lock on him. He wanted to look away yet felt compelled to stare at her. He reached out and touched her cheek. It was warm. Soft. he touched it again.
"She breathes," said a voice behind him. Samuel turned to find Michael leaning in the doorway. His hair stood up in all directions and his eyes were wide open. Like he knew something. A secret. Michael walked up to the painting then caressed her cheek. "She knows me," he said. "I paint to feel her again." He leaned forward and kissed the painting. Samuel moved back in confusion. Was his friend insane? What was this all about? Just then, he heard a woman sigh then watched as a slender burnt caramel coloured hand reached out from the canvas to touch his friend's cheek. The kiss continued. Samuel slowly backed away from them and quickly left the studio. He wanted to leave. All of this. He raised his mug to his lips, only to notice that his hands were covered in indigo and vermilion paint splatters. He heard another woman sigh and smelled mint.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Snippets of Pride

Every time I visit New Orleans, I learn (or eat) something new. Not surprising, seeing as how that city has so much to offer for anyone who visits. The food, the culture, the people, the trees, the neighbourhoods - all of it. Snippets of New Orleans by Emma Fick gives the reader a chance to explore the city without leaving the comfort of your home. However, once you've finished reading the book, you'll want to pack a bag for a quick NOLA getaway!

Enhanced by her colourful and eccentric artwork, Fick delves deep into the city she loves and takes us on a tour that we will never forget. While reading the book, I found myself making a mental checklist of the places I'd visited vs. the places I hadn't visited and found that I still have so much to explore. From the food to the housing structures, New Orleans is unlike any city in the country. Fick does an excellent job of portraying that statement - she even has interviews with many locals and regulars as they discuss their bond with NOLA. Reading this book is like talking with my NOLA friends - every time I see them, I learn a little more and laugh a lot more (I call it Breaking My Ribs). Fick shows us through this book that despite the floods, fires, you name it, NOLA still stands with pride, ready to throw Mardi Gras beads and eat shrimp po boys (BTW, I go to the Gumbo Shop for my blackened chicken po boy with a lovely piece of bread pudding with whiskey sauce!)

If you love NOLA, buy this book. If you love books that talk about the history of a city, buy this book. If you just like a good read, buy this book. I recently reached out to Fick for possible collaboration with a tea blend inspired by her work. I hope she says yes!

Oh yeah - if you are in NOLA and want to purchase this book, go to Blue Cypress Books on Oak Street - that's where I purchased my copy, plus the place is a great way to kill several hours. The staff is friendly too!


Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Divide and Forget

(photo by me)

I don't know what I'm supposed to do with this. I mean, yeah, I'm glad to be here and all, but damn. Damn it, man. Now what? You think that just because I said yes that it's suddenly okay? I wanted to feel this, not just run through it like toilet tissue. You have no right to think that little of me. I came here because I wanted something more than what was handed to me. I heard of another Path to take, another road that would lead me away from what I had before. And well, I found you here. And you started laughing at me, like this was some grandiose joke upon the world. Maybe for you, but I wanted more. Still do. Hey, see her over there? The redhead? Yeah, I remember her but in a different light. She was this barista at the coffee shop down the street from where I . . . lived. Live, lived, damn it, I don't know what to say anymore! Sorry, anyway. She was so cute. I hated coffee yet I would go into her shop just to see her smile. I wanted her eyes to look at ME. Why is she here, then? Why did she choose this path? She had her life all wrapped up in her black clothes, playlists filled with classical music and jazz, and books. She always told me about what book she was reading. She's here. I don't think she knew, or maybe she did. Maybe she sought something else, like everyone here did. Faceless greys, the lot of them. They don't see like you or I. Or her. Jessica, yes that's her name. Can I say her name? Would she even respond? I want to say her name. So many grey people here. They shuffle rather than walk. Is this our fucking Enlightened Moment? When do I shave my head and float in the clouds? You . . . you're still laughing, aren't you? Why can't you say something to me? Why can't you snap your fingers? I want to say her name. Again. And again. And again.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

A Long Way to Go

(Overton Park - Memphis, Tennessee - 2017)

Olivia stared at the painting and wanted to forget. How she walked away from everything. She wanted to forget, to wipe the slate clean, yet this painting . . . Images floated through her mind. Thoughts of how once upon a time, she dared the world. She climbed the forbidden mountains, swam with great white sharks, played with children from an unknown village, and read more books than were available in the world. Olivia knew that the world didn't care what she did, so she just listened and dove in. Now, all those years later or perhaps a month later, the inhabitants of the world came crashing down on her, preventing her from delving deeper into a mystery she had only begun to explore. Stop and turn back, they said. Return to the cookie cutter and forget. The path you are on is no longer there. The suitcase needed to be packed and burned. Forget it all and be of the colourless masses. And just like that, when she flew through the air with her purple backpack, she melted her own wings. Icarus would have cheered her on. Now she stood before the painting, the one that called to her all those years ago and asked her "What Is Today?" Olivia heard that same question and wanted to close her eyes, yet she walked closer towards the painting. What is Today? To you, to anyone? She stopped and reached out to touch the painting. The indigo of her first love. The vermilion of speaking another language in trying to get food. The viridian of seeing the blue ocean and wanting to fall further and further into it. What is today, the painting asked her. Reclaim today. You are your own today. Reclaim it. Olivia smiled as she felt her purple backpack reappear on her back. She smelled the salty winds and walked away to answer the call of Today again.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

A Tea for an Art Museum - NEW BLEND

I love visiting art museums. No matter where I travel, I always try to fit in some time for an art museum. Whether if it's the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, or the New Orleans Museum of Art in NOLA, there is something to be said about visiting one. I have been a member of the Brooks Museum of Art for years and I enjoy every part of the museum. Not only do they have an impressive selection of art, but they also have a nice cafe (the falafel sandwich is AMAZING!) and awesome events and film showings. In any case, I love to stroll through the Brooks and enjoy the silence as I study the paintings. I love the "smell" of the Brooks as well. I know it sounds weird but it's the truth. The Brooks has a distinct smell that reminds me of paint, flowers, and old books, as heightened by the energy of the people who visit. For a while, I wanted to show my appreciation of the Brooks yet I wasn't sure how to go about doing such a feat. Then it hit me - make a tea blend! So, I reached out to the Brooks and told them what I wanted to do. They had no problem with it and . . . ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you the NEW blend of Viridian Tea Company - The Power of Art Herbal Tea!

This herbal tisane is a delightful blend of jasmine, dried lemon peel, lavender, rose petals, and spearmint. This blend is what reminds me of the beauty of the Brooks. If you live in the 901 and have never visited the Brooks, you really need to change that soon. If you live outside of the 901, please visit the Brooks. See the pattern? Much thanks to the Brooks for allowing me to create an "inspiration" tea! This blend will be sold through me at the Cooper Young Farmers Market and other places listed later. It will also be sold through my Etsy site.

The tea blend, up close and personal!

Try a bag today - it really smells divine!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Tangled Crush

(Memphis, Tennessee - photo model: Alissa)

I love you.

So many times I wanted to call you just to hear your voice. The way you say my name, drawn out with that extra letter at the end. The way you look at me when you are busy with something else. You act like I'm not there but I know better. I know you can see me. When I first met you, you were so shy around me and I thought it was cute. I wanted to treat you like my younger sister even though you and I are the same age. I wanted to fold you in my arms and protect you from the world. I still do. I want to show you just how much you mean to me. I promise it won't hurt.

Why won't you say something? Are you still afraid of me?

I watch you from the tea shop while you order your cup of Gunpowder Green and a blueberry scone. See, I pay attention to you. Why would you want someone who barely pays attention to such details? I follow you when you leave the library with your latest read. I see how you hold the book to your chest and sigh. I wish to be that book or any book you read. Your eyes, lovingly caressing me as you take me in with silence. I want to feed you candied rose petals and make love to you in an art museum. I want to take you to a forest when the moon is full and we both howl as we free our souls. I want to take you to a faraway land and bathe you in a tub filled with milk and rose petals. You make me shudder.

Why are you crying, my dearest? Why do you say that it hurts? Lean back and close your eyes. Does it still hurt?

You gave me a nickname one night. Hunter. You said it suited me while we drank Japanese whiskey. Remember that night? The night when you let me play with your hair? The night you let me kiss you? Why do you want to forget my nickname? I gave you one - Desired.

You won't stop crying. I'm sorry. Please, don't cry.

I love you.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Those Who Walk Through, Be Silent

(Cafe Keough - Memphis Tennessee 2016)

"Sometimes, we wish for things that have yet to happen," said Eugenie as she sipped on her cup of Earl Grey. "We all have choices, even when we think we don't." I nodded, not truly understanding yet not wanting to look like a fool in front of her. My obsessive crush on her was now in its third year with no signs of me ever advancing to actually asking her out on a date. She was pure, soft, and knowingly smarter than most people.
"Is everything in Life truly a choice?" I asked as I glanced around at the other patrons in the tea shop.
"It has to be, otherwise we are just stick figures badly drawn on a crumpled piece of paper. Take those two over there," she said as she waved her tea cup in their direction. A man and a woman dressed eerily alike sat across from each other at one of the smaller tables. "Sometimes, I like to wonder if certain couples are having sex or not. Those two are not." I snorted as I tried to hide my laughter, causing her to smile. "They looked so forced, so restrained. I bet they count every calorie, ask if their water is organic, and probably sleep under triple hypoallergenic sheets. Two beds, of course." I glanced at the couple again. The man barely reached out to touch the woman's hand before she leaned back in her chair like a rigid stick. They both refused (it seemed to me) to smile at each other. In fact, they looked like they were studying each other. "They're trying to decide if they should get another cup of tea or a glass of lukewarm water with no ice. They make their choices according to the least amount of pleasure offered. They refuse because they are afraid."
"How do you know so much about them through one glance?" I ventured to ask. Eugenie did not reply yet placed her hand on mine. I felt my body go warm and fluid as her soft lavender scented skin made contact with me.
"Feel that?" she whispered. "This is what it is like to be alive. To choose because you want more and never less." I stared at her hand on top of mine and realized that I began to breathe.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

A Line of Blue

(Broad Avenue - Memphis, Tennessee)

A quick flick of the paintbrush in the indigo paint. The artist reflects on the colour, wondering what it would be like if he tasted it. He raises the brush to his lips, waiting to make that final move. He sighs then moves the brush towards the canvas and paints a single line. Thin and neat, deliberate. It has been this way for over a year - one line, one thought to go with it. One understanding that he must follow through. He must forgive himself. He thinks of her name, one lonely name that still makes him feel warm all over. She is his Muse, the one who inspires him with just a glance. He loves Theodora, worships the ground she walks on. She wanted to just be his model but he wanted more. Another line of blue now curled at the end. He first painted her as a nude. Seeing her body ready and waiting for him to transfer to the canvas startled him. She wanted to look away yet found that she couldn't. He painted a single line, one damn line, then flung the palate to the ground as he raced towards her. When he reached her he hesitated, their lips only inches apart. He felt her breath on him, moist and sweet. He took his paint stained fingers and traced one line down her neck. When their lips touched, her passion nearly consumed him. One line, he now thinks as he repeats the process on the canvas. One line of blue. For her and only her. Theodora stands in the doorway watching him. She touches the faded blue line on her neck and wonders when he will forgive himself. You must forgive yourself, she wants to tell him. She walks towards him, he blue robe wrapped tightly around her. When she reaches him, she leans against his back. He wants to cry. I must forgive myself, he thinks as he paints another blue line.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Do You Suppose . . .

Do you suppose.

No, don't look away from me, damn it. I asked you a question. Do you suppose . . .

Once upon a time, you were too shy to tell me your feelings. All you wanted to do was play with words. Give me some sort of cynical and cryptic feeling of hope. You wanted me to worship you, right? Stand back and let me fall right on my face, all to the tune of your slow applause. You acted shy because you couldn't stand to show your true self to me, to anyone. Well, now. Here I am. Tell me. If you want me to go, then tell me that.

Do you suppose you could, for once in your life, look at me in the face? Is that an act as well? Damn it. I'm tired. I just want to go to sleep and wake up without you here. Can I do that? You smile. What? Do you know something I don't? Of course you do, why do I even bother forming those words in my mouth. Can I take a cigarette from you? I feel like sneezing.

Actually, I forgive you. For everything. Your smile is gone. Interesting. This cigarette is stale. Take it back. I don't know why you still do this filthy habit. It's your lungs. I forgot to eat today. I feel like sneezing. Be right back.

I'm afraid. Don't laugh, you asshole. It's the terror of pulling away from something that you know. That comfort of the normal and hurtful. The tears that come because you're so damn happy that you can feel. Inside, right here, this spot. I made that open to you. See the cracks? Here, touch it. No, go on, it's okay. I don't mind. Yes. You feel it, don't you. You finally look at me. How . . . . sweet.

Do you suppose. Yes, of course you will.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Under the Moon, Find My Love

I want them to go away. Please, make them go away.

Once upon a time, I had the upper hand. I felt the power and knew what it meant to be those who take control. Every time I laughed, they would tremble. They had every right to fear me. They couldn't even look at me. Eyes turned downward, glances on everything else. One woman, can't remember her name, whispered in gurgles of blood that my eyes made her believe in the Devil. As I leaned closer to kiss her crimson stained neck, I whispered back that the Devil should fear me for I have no god to destroy. No god created me. None shall seek to kill me. I simply am. She couldn't look away then, not even when the last of her breath escaped the gaping hole in her neck. I sat next to her body for a very long time. Closed her eyes. Told her that I was sorry. The only time I've ever been honest.

Now, however. . . . . Now.

They come for me. All of them. They want me to bleed. Slowly. I run like a common criminal, sleeping in places I would never have visited before. I try to sleep, to find some form of rest. I can't remember the last time I closed my eyes. I want them gone. All of them. They hunt me like an animal. How dare they. I am not an animal. I am . . . more than that. I am more than that. They refuse to see what they will eventually turn into. Once, I offered my gift to them. They threw curses at my feet. I turned into their master, to break them and force them to see reason. They grew quiet. For a time. And I thought to be master of them all. So much blood on my hands. I tried to tell them that they came to me willingly. They wanted to feel my kiss upon their bodies. They understood what they would possibly give up. They wanted the pain because when it came from me, it made them moan. They died for something better.

I will continue to run until I can no longer smell their sweat. Their limited flesh that is weak and manipulative that reeks of shame.

The moon comes.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Suddenly, The Colours Make Sense

(Cooper Young Farmers Market, Memphis, Tennessee - model: Hilaire)

Sage's left hand trembled by her side as she stared at the painting. She heard whispers, many voices, asking why she gave up. Why did you give up? Why did you fall? She closed her eyes as the whispers continued to speak with her. Yes, she had given up. For years, she wanted to be a writer. Make her mark in the world of words because her stories needed to be born. Erupt from her mind like Athena. She went out and conquered, twice, only to fall when she began to question. What am I doing? This is no way to live. The more she gave up, the more the whispers invaded her mind. Although Sage had a Muse, one who consistently fed her mind and energy, she turned that being out. After a year of going deaf, Sage had nothing but a cubicle and fearful comfort. . . . of which brought her to the art museum, a place she used to call one of her alternative homes. Each painting held a mystery for her, giving out their tales to her in the form of minuscule flakes of paint, dried up snatches of conversations made before them, and the dried up ghosts of sweat from the artist as they toiled away to feed their relentless insanity. She came here to be free, perhaps. Sage opened her eyes and stared at the painting, how each colour made its way through the canvas and soon became another and another and another. She took a deep breath then exhaled. Suddenly, she looked down and noticed that her left hand had stopped trembling. She looked up at the painting again as the whispers dwindled down to one voice. One clear voice that whispered her name. She felt phantom arms embracing her from behind while the scent of mint carried to her nose. She took a step towards the painting. Cold hands now covered hers while soft lips touched her neck. He, for now she knew it was a he, told her that in order to return to her world, she must say yes. Will you say yes? he whispered, the lips slowly sliding down her neck. Sage reached out for the painting as he sighed. She whispered yes. His hands became solid as they turned her to face him. Green eyes eyes flecked with gold. Say yes, he said with now full lips as he leaned towards her for that one kiss. Say yes.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

300 Year Old Conversation

(photo by author Michael B. Hinton)

It seemed as though the entire city knew we wanted to talk. With every street came sounds of drunken laughter, flashing blue lights, and perhaps a wedding march or a funeral. Didn't matter. All I knew was that the longer we walked, the longer it took for him to tell me that he was leaving.
"You've got this amazing life ahead of you," he said as we crossed Bourbon Street for the third time, "and I'm just not there with you."
"But why can't you?" I asked as I stared straight ahead, not wanting to see those terrible cold eyes. "Why can't you just be with me?" We stopped on a corner and I finally looked at him for a direction. That used to be our game, back when love was not a question between us. 
He looked at me, smiled a little, then said, "Left." We turned left as he said, "Look, it's not you at all. It's me. Can't you understand that? I'm holding you back." The blue lights flashed in our faces, momentarily blinding us, while the parade danced by us. I peered at the people in the parade and still couldn't decide if they danced for Life or Death. One man dressed in a tuxedo with a black and white mask seemed to be possessed by the Quarter itself as he danced with no regrets. 
"Is it someone else," I ventured to ask as we resumed our walk. 
"You know damn well it isn't. Like I said, it's me." I nodded as a numb feeling crept through my body. We would have to stop walking soon and return to our cars. 
"I need to get home," I said, all feeling from my voice gone. He nodded, I think he did, then we made our way to the parking lot by Jax Brewery. 
"I'll walk you to your car," he said. "Thanks again for wanting to do dinner with me." When we reached my car, he gave me a surprisingly deep hug, allowing me to take in his scent of clean linen for the last time, then he walked away. I watched him cross the street then fade into the night that covered Toulouse Street. He was gone. I sighed, looked at the keys in my hand, then with a grin that came out of nowhere, raced back into the Quarter to find the parade. When I saw the flashing blue lights of the police by Jackson Square, I stopped and watched the parade dance by again. It was a wedding. I danced to the music, as did everyone else. Suddenly, the man with the black and white mask on his face grabbed my hand and proceeded to pull me into the parade. 
"You look like you need to dance," he yelled at me as a new chapter began. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Leaves of the Dead

Although I've only read a handful of Kealan Patrick Burke's stories, I still consider myself to be a BIG fan. He completely hooked me in with Sour Candy (read that story - trust me!) as I flew through it in one sitting. In reading and devouring Dead Leaves: 9 Tales From the Witching Season, my love of his work increased by 158%.

While reading Dead Leaves, I tried to figure out just why I love Burke's version of Horror and then it dawned on me - it's intelligent and scary without unnecessary gore. In fact, as I read the stories, I imagined a small town in which each of the stories "occupies" a part of the town, making it a delight for any Tim Burton or Guillermo del Toro fan. The stories are beautiful in their darkness as they reel you in ever closer to an end that you can't possibly escape. The desire to be seduced by such darkness is dangerous . . . and yet enticing. Welcome to Burke's nightmarish imagination.

I won't go into the stories but I will state that my favourites were Tonight The Moon Is Ours, Haven (the insanity/reality that he describes is simply divine - would love to see this story as a film), and The Toll (probably one of the BEST revenge stories out there). Although all of the stories were well done, those three really stood out for me in my mind. Yet as I stated before, each of these stories would be a wonderful area in a small town that looks normal during 364 days of the year, only to show its true nature on Halloween. The stories involve real people with real decisions to be made, only with a twist that goes horribly wrong, or perhaps dire consequences after a choice was made. Lessons are learned with heavy prices. Burke dares us to turn the page. Even after that last story, you will still want more. You will still want to be a witness, no matter how badly it may affect you.

Kudos to Burke again for being such a top notch Horror author. I look forward to reading Blanky soon and delve into the nightmares that will come afterwards.

Much thanks from the Necropolis.


Monday, December 11, 2017

Unnecessary Attraction

(from Woodruff Fontaine House - Memphis, Tennessee)

"Haven't I met you before?" 
No Hello, nice to meet you, or, I've heard so much about you!. When he said that to me, I felt a stone in my gut. He knew me from somewhere else and I believed him. It was his eyes. I smiled and nodded then mumbled something about getting another cup of tea and walked away. When I turned around, I caught him staring at me. Yes, I wanted to scream, we did meet before but back then, you and I were other people. Other thoughts invaded our minds. You told me that you loved me and I knew of nothing else. Instead, this time around, you are married to a gorgeous woman and I am getting over my relationship with a "hot mess" of a man who loved his work more than I. His eyes followed me everywhere and I refused to give into their messages. All I wanted was to get away from him. Two days later, he sent me a friend request, to which I accepted against my better judgment. A week later, we met for tea and he immediately tried to take my hand. I reached for my lip balm instead. 
"I want to know you again. What we were before this."
I remembered more than him. I remembered our times spent in bed if it rained outside, or when he painted while I read to him. When he died, the first time, I saw his memories slowly turn into fragments. They stayed with him. Now, as he struggled to piece them together again, I wanted him to say my name, the one I used before. Just to hear that one word fall from his lips. I sighed. This was unnecessary, I thought. All of it.
"I came back to find you."
The fragments became solid once more.  

Friday, December 8, 2017

A Daughter of Many Worlds

I'm ready for my weekend trip to New Orleans, yet I had to do this book review - priorities, ya know!

Well . . . . . Daughter of Destiny . . . . YES! Okay, getting to the actual review:

Daughter of Destiny, as written by author H.C. Playa and published through ProSe Productions, is a rip roaring good time through a not too distant version of Earth, blended with a nice mix of aliens of every kind and a deadly virus. With every page, the reader will go deeper and deeper into Playa's mind and honestly, that's not a bad thing. Buy this book!

The story is thus: Dr. Katarina O'Brien, a molecular biologist living in Memphis, Tennessee, has taken it upon her shoulders to discover a cure for a plague known as the Reaper. She lacks sleep, social graces, and patience but all is forgiven because of the "burden" she carries. The Reaper claims without discrimination. O'Brien is also quite gifted in the ways of mental powers although she has harnessed them quite tightly. Then, late one night, someone breaks through her defense with just a tiny crack. However, it is through this crack that O'Brien's world will change forever as she claims her destiny that is beyond a plague. Add in much action, romance with some really good (cough) sex scenes, and an interesting explanation of the origins of humans and other beings, and this book turns into a page turner that will keep you up for most of the night and day! I will state for the record that if you are triggered by reading forms of abuse, there are several scenes of that nature in this book. However, Playa handles them in such a way that it adds to the strength of O'Brien's character.

Playa is a good friend of mine and so while reading this book, I could hear her voice through O'Brien. Her writing will keep even the most skeptical of readers engrossed. She keeps the action well paced without resorting to cliches or "let's just throw this in for fun!" As for the sex scenes . . . .well done on those! Quite . . . descriptive! She did throw a curve ball and, for a moment, I did get confused. However, when the real reason appeared, everything fell into place, causing me to say, "Ahhh!"

I look forward to reading her other books and grilling her on them (like I did with this one!). This book makes a great gift to give to someone, or to yourself!


Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Story of a Nude

(Heidi - 6 December 2017)

The people at Brooks Museum of Art decided to have an in house nude drawing session as part of their current exhibition (please check out the exhibit - it's fantastic!). I wasn't really sure what to expect yet when the drawing class began, I decided to try something else. I wanted to write a story about the model. Thirty minutes later, I had a stream of consciousness story.

She stood there, dreaming about her day. The coffee brewed just right that she enjoyed in her favourite chipped mug. The lunch she shared with her lover and how she listened about his latest novel. And now, posing nude in an art museum. She wore a look of calm contentment, confident of herself and her body. The dreamers of the past would have loved her, worshiped her like a goddess, giving her flowers of every colour and scent.
This scene, now, reflected her one moment when the peace of the today and the forgetting of the past come together. She stood poised and offered nothing in the way of apology or forgiveness. She simply was.
A Venus to be sure - white peach skin dimpled here and there, offering just enough to those who sought it out like ambrosia. The artists sketched their many versions of her. She offered it all and restricted nothing. Her legs, supple and smooth, showed that Youth lingered with her. She turned her head and changed from Venus to a queen of human born. Her hair fell in waves down her back and neck. The red robe lay behind her, being patient for the night. She was special, royal blood flowing under her unblemished skin. She held a cane, merely a prop for her strength was more than enough to hold her steady.
All around the room lay the dense quiet, broken here and there by the scratching of pencils held by fluid hands. Several born into art with no choice. One here as a pastime. Still another due to newly won freedom. Yet they all fell under her aloof gaze. And the red robe remained still.
She wants us to stare at her, to gaze at her face and judge her. Do the artists ever see her as her? Is she squiggles and circles to them? A misplaced triangle? Does she now shiver due to the cold, or perhaps because her aloof facade is starting to crack?
Do the artists slowly take from her like starving creatures demanding sustenance? They must create and so they feed. She shivers and trembles as she returns to being a model. The artists continue to hunger for what she represents. She now begins to refuse them. Her thoughts return to her lover. That novel he spoke of earlier - did he mention her in it? Was she the main character's love interest or his destruction? A tragic heroine. An example for the good of all. Did he do that to me, she wonders.

45 seconds called causes a murmur. The pencils move faster. Time is captured. Mistakes are forgiven.

(the model's autograph on my story)

Monday, December 4, 2017

Perhaps It's Better

(Biloxi, Mississippi - photo taken by Kimberly B. Richardson)

Perhaps it's better, Angela thought as David handed her the bouquet of flowers. I have this moment, this one chance to make my life better. He smiled, the love for her oozing from his pores, as he  watched her take the bouquet from him.
Perhaps it's better that I accept him, take him as he takes me so willingly. He loves me, can't go on without me.
So why do I feel so empty?
David placed an arm around her shoulders as he lightly kissed her cheek.
Once upon a time, she wanted more in Life. No one to dictate to her who and what she was supposed to be. After ten years of abuse from her last boyfriend, she walked out with only the clothes on her back and a bottle of seltzer water. That was then. This is now.
David whispered his love in her ear, his beard tickling her skin. She looked away, wanting to be . . . anywhere else.
Perhaps it's better for me to settle down at this point, she thought as they walked down the street to their local tea shop. She could still travel to Uruguay, like she promised herself all those years ago. She obtained her passport so that she could visit that country. She looked up websites, purchased many travel guides, tried to learn the languages spoken there. And then she met David. And the passport got shelved.
I want to love him, she thought. I DO love him. Yes. I do. He loves me. Isn't that enough?
They reached the tea shop. David held the door open for her as she walked in.
Perhaps it's better. They looked at the tea menu, as they did every Thursday. She knew he would order a Darjeeling, while she would order a Dragonwell. She looked at the flowers then the door.

Perhaps it's better for her will to slowly go away.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Too Much of a Good Thing

(White Sands National Monument - New Mexico - 2015)

Erica took a deep breath, followed by another and another. She had finally done it. She left him for good. She grabbed her luggage from the terminal and made her way outside into the bright New Mexico day. It had been two years since she last visited the Land of Enchantment. Two years too long. She quickly located her rental car and drove off towards her hotel in Albuquerque. As she drove along, her mind unfortunately dredged up memories of Samuel. How, at the beginning of their relationship, he was so sweet to her. He purchased books and video games for her, took her out for meals, even tried to pay her bills as she repeatedly told him no.
"I love you," was his response to her smiling protests. "When I first met you, I knew we were meant to be together." For the first year, Erica felt higher than Heaven whenever he looked at her. Then, one day, he wanted to know her whereabouts when she arrived home an hour later than normal. She laughed and called him Mom, to which he claimed that it was only for her protection. Whereabouts first, then came constant phone calls. At one point, he even followed her to make sure she was really did have a lunch date with her friend rather than meeting up for some nefarious purpose. When six months of that passed by, Erica told him she wanted to break up. He refused.
Erica sighed as she continued to drive along, wondering if he could actually feed himself now that she was gone from his life. He was a delicate creature, too delicate for the world to handle. She made the plans on a friend's computer and claimed that her employer wanted her to begin a new project as a cover up. When the plane began its ascent, Erica allowed her body to sink into the seat. She soon reached her hotel, checked in, then found her room. One luxurious room for one woman. She took in her surroundings, plush and of the Southwest, then leapt into her bed and sighed. She closed her eyes, only to open them when her phone received a text message. Thinking it to be her friend and escape accomplice, she turned on her phone and almost threw up.

Found a flight at 3:30.
Thanks for getting our room.
Love you. See you soon.

Friday, December 1, 2017

A Day in the Life . . . .

(Bluff City Coffee - Memphis, 2017)

He watched, as he always did, from the comfortable corner of the tea shop. She was beautiful. Jacob glanced around, hoping that no one eyed him as a creepy white guy for staring at her, then glanced down at his cup of now cold tea. For the past three weeks, he savoured his simple cup of Earl Grey on his lunch break, a moment to get away from his hum drum corporate job. He would always eat first before everyone else did, then rush to the tea shop down the street for some quiet time. Jacob hated talking with people, hated the small talk that people tried so desperately to engage in when they had nothing else in common. The tea shop owner and his wife always enjoyed seeing Jacob and they respected his quiet side. They knew he was an introvert without having to ask him, and so gave him his tea with little conversation yet with many smiles. And, right on the dot at 12:06 pm, the woman walked in to the tea shop to get her daily cup of matcha. The first time he saw her, he was literally stunned by her beauty. He wondered if perhaps he shouldn't look at her the way he did yet he couldn't help himself. Although he'd only dated three women in his overall life of 48 years, this was the first time he'd ever found an African American woman to be so attractive. Maybe it was the way she carried herself, or perhaps it was her burnt caramel skin that he dreamt of lightly touching as they sat in front of a cozy fireplace one cold night. He sighed then sipped on his cold tea as she ordered her matcha then linger around. He gazed at her over the rim of his cup, only to feel like fainting when her eyes met his. She locked on to his gaze, making sure he couldn't look away, as she raised a hand in greeting and smiled. Jacob, not knowing what to do aside from hide under the table, raised a hand as well and smiled back. Just then, she received her order. She smiled again then left the tea shop, allowing Jacob to release his breath in relief. She was even more beautiful than ever, yet a creeping dread slowly crawled over him as the mere thought of saying hello to her was like Death. He could talk to his rare book collection, lovingly caressing the spines and breathing in the scents of vanilla and memories. They, thankfully, never talked back. He finished off his cup of tea then made his way to the counter to drop the cup off. She smiled at me, he thought to himself as he slowly returned to his job. She smiled at me. I can't ever go back to that place. The memory of her smile continued to linger while he resumed his work in his corner office, as he began to cry inside.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Multicoloured Bard

I met him through a love of tea, of course. He seemed to be at peace with the world and didn't care if anyone thought him to be strange looking. Bright clothes that were mismatched, hair dyed a bright colour, adorned with jewelry and a smile that could light up a room. I didn't think he was crazy, only just a wandering soul. He told me a strange story about an experience he had in a ditch and even to this day, I still think about it. Did he, perhaps, tap into something we've always dreamt about? Or, did he come from the Other side to see what we had that makes us happy? When I saw him a second time, I was surprised that he remembered me, for I remembered him all too well. I gave him another cup of tea and he went on to enjoy the day in his way. Before we'd actually spoken, I first saw him set up in a park, carrying on with his life as though the rest of the world didn't exist. All he had were his belongings and perhaps those who protected him from the true evils of the world. When I first saw him, I wanted to know why he loved colours so much. I see people milling about with a glassy eyed look, going through the motions with dreams of that coffee drink on Friday after work. When you bump into them, they slowly acknowledge you and shuffle off, or they look as though they just woke up. These people would probably give the multicoloured bard a dollar then walk off with thoughts of him already dissolved from their minds. Or not.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Widow of the Nameless Sea

(Cape Cod, Massachusetts - 2016)

"See that woman in the window of that house over there?" said the ghost as he attempted to stroke my hair. "She has been a widow for twenty years, yet she looks out from that window every day."
"What for?' I asked as the ghost's cool breath washed over my face.
"She looks for her loved one to come in from the nameless sea. This sea has no name because so many people lost their lives in it."
"Including you?' I asked. The ghost refused to reply but only stared at the widow.
"She loved her husband and he loved her," replied the ghost after some time had passed, "yet the seas called to him. He had water rather than blood flowing through his veins. So, he left her one night to see the world, as it were, with promises that he would return with enough riches to change their lives forever. Although she was sad to see him leave, she was also happy for him. Due to a childhood accident, she couldn't leave the house and so left it up to her husband to live for both of them. When he left, she felt a stone form in her heart yet she refused to give into the blackness. Day and night came and went with her rocking in her chair, waiting for him. One day, the mayor of this town paid her a visit, yet it was not a happy one. They found a bloodstained cap on the beach and knew it belonged to her husband. The widow took the hat, thanked the mayor, then resumed her seat by the window."
"Is she mad?" I asked as the ghost brushed his lips on my cheek. Suddenly, I felt a strong wind blow against my clothes. I turned to see faint glowing figures slowly rising from the sea. I felt the ghost attempt to embrace me as we watched the lost souls of the nameless sea finally return to the town. Among them was a young man with still fiery blue eyes who walked towards the house. When he reached the door, he disappeared, only to reappear in the window with the widow. The two embraced then the house went dark as they both disappeared.
"Love can be mistaken for madness," said the ghost in a faraway tone, "by those who fall and remain there."

Monday, November 27, 2017

Unfolding Words Like Tears

(model - Alissa Brielle)

He listened to the music while he typed on his old typewriter, the two sounds melting and flowing all around him. His thoughts were direct clouds of nothing as he typed out strings of nonsense. The letters, black and bold, filled page after page that he tore out and replaced with fresh paper. He cried as the male singer continued to wail about losing the love you wanted so badly. Strings and strings of letters. An occasional word here and there. A chain never to be broken. She walked up behind him and placed her hands on his rock hard shoulders as the tears continued to fall. She wanted to say something, anything to stop him from this madness. She sighed then left him as a string of unsaid words slid out of her partially open mouth and made a trail behind her regretful steps. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Forget and Then Know

(photo taken at Shelby Farms Park, Memphis, Tennessee)

"I want to still remember you," said Melanie as she tried to keep the tears from running down her face. "You can't take that away from me." The figure just stared at her in silence, knowing that all of her pleas were futile. He came to do a job, not to offer a sense of peace. Melanie stared at her hands, cracked and dry from the long hours of working on the tea plantation, then up at him. "Why can't I just have this one memory?"
"Because," he said with a sigh, "we both know how this will end. I will walk away and you will continue to live your life. Away from me. Away from . . this. That is why I came here."
"Richard . . . " He turned away then slowly walked up the forest path without a backward glance. Melanie watched until he disappeared into the trees and even when she thought she could still hear him breathe. When the trees slowly moved in the breeze, she got up, dusted herself off, then walked back to her car.
"He believed more than I did," she murmured to herself as she got in and drove off. "He took the chance. I only have the memory."

Saturday, November 25, 2017

To Love Therefore, Be Loved

(taken at Woodruff Fontaine House, Memphis, Tennessee)

From the first moment she met him, Julia wanted to know what his lips felt like on hers. Timothy seemed so nice, so honest with her, that she almost wondered if it was all a game. That perhaps, he was only nice to her for some nefarious reason. Every time he said something to make her laugh, or present an idea letting her know that he understood what she was trying to get across, Julia fell back into her fantasy of him suddenly kissing her. After two years of silently holding her desires in check through their friendship, Julia discovered that the desire was no longer there. It felt as though a boulder suddenly rolled off her shoulders, giving her room to stand upright and breathe. As they met for their usual coffee at the local coffee shop, Julia sipped on her vanilla latte and noticed that Timothy was rather quiet and seemed to be nervous. When she asked him what was wrong, he suddenly took her hands in his then tenderly kissed them. Julia watched with wide eyes as he proclaimed how he had loved her all this time and that he couldn't go on any longer without telling her. He looked into her eyes and smiled his usual lopsided smile as he waited for her response. Julia stared back in silence, then suddenly began to laugh. Timothy's smile fell quickly as she continued to laugh so hard that tears fell down her face. It felt good to laugh that hard, that fierce.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Carrot Cake In a Cup - New Tea Review

As my five day vacation comes to a close with awesome music by musician Alana Davis , I'm ready to dive back into the world of tea and writing. Therefore, it seems appropriate to write up my latest tea review on a tisane (or herbal tea) that won me over the first time I tried it at the Midwest Tea Festival.

How many of you love carrot cake? I'm very much a fan of the cake, as is my dad, yet when I learned that the delicious dessert now comes in tea form, I was a bit shocked and skeptical. There are many tea blends to choose from, yet carrot cake?! However, thanks to the good people at Anna Marie's Teas, the seemingly impossible is now very possible. Welcome to Carrot Cake Rooibos!

Rooibos is a red bush that grows in South Africa. Although it has no caffeine, the taste is quite sweet and makes for an excellent herbal tea. In adding chocolate pieces, carrots, and other pieces of fruit, Carrot Cake Rooibos is a nice way to end your day, or perhaps your choice of dessert after a filling lunch or dinner. When I made my first cup today, I added honey to enhance the flavour. However, there is no need to add any kind of sweetener to the tisane - it's already sweet enough. The second cup proved to be just as good with no added sweeteners. In fact, as the hot water made contact with the tisane blend, my kitchen instantly smelled like carrot cake! You can't go wrong with this herbal tea, unless if you don't like rooibos or carrot cake. Try a bag today, or visit my place sometime for a hot cuppa of this blend.


Monday, November 13, 2017

The Chronicles of the Afflicted

Yes, this review is going to be one of those "I devoured the book and let me tell you ALL about it" book reviews. Because I did devour the book. And I want to tell you all about it. I purchased this book yesterday and just finished it twenty minutes ago. Whenever I get a book that I truly like, I literally devour it. Afflicted: Book One of the RTX Chronicles by authors Michael B. Hinton and Sherry R. Melancon is one of those books in which you can't put it down and when you do, you'll want to pick it up again to pick up where you left off. The story is thus:

Welcome to America, land of the free and home of the brave. Now, take Revelations from the Bible and make it happen. Welcome to the Event - when the world as we know it ends and begins at the same time. However, with the Event comes a most interesting after effect - people suddenly obtain abilities such as telekinesis, shapeshifting in every format possible, the ability to shoot fire from your fingers, the ability to cloak and become invisible, and so on. Such people are known as Afflicted. These people are hunted down and killed, or hunted down and . . . studied by the government. Yet, all is not lost as those who are Afflicted soon find each other and create towns and cities as refuge from "normal" people.

This novel has three flawed "heroes": Reginald Sebastian Unglesby IV or "Ruddy", Ezekiel Daniels or "Xeke", and Teri. Although they are Afflicted with powers and abilities to wipe out entire cities, they are also human and that makes them even more dangerous to others. They also live with their own inner demons carried from childhood that seem to neither be a blessing nor a curse. Yet, as the trio escapes from White Supremacists, government officials who are Afflicted, normals who think of their kind to be in league with Satan, and the not so simple act of having crushes and falling in love, they find that the truth is NEVER the truth. Lies are more acceptable and quicker to forgive. Oh yes, and a pink blanket. You must have that.

This book is a big pot of adrenaline rush, X-Men without the cool costumes and the protective academy, lessons of trauma and mental illness, and the always enjoyable theme of post apocalyptic "dear god, what now?!" I will warn you that there are many "triggers" in this book - specifically regarding child abuse in its many ugly forms as well as mental illness. If you are not able to read stories that contain such subjects, then unfortunately you may not want to read this book. However, I will give Sherry and Michael credit that they handled those scenes rather well without going overboard. As I read this book last night while waiting on having dinner with My Kid, I messaged several of my bibliophile friends, telling them that they needed to read this book. Like now. In speaking with one of the authors (who is also my World of Warcraft buddy - Glory to the Sin'Dorei!), I learned that they are currently working on the second book. That's the only problem when you find an awesome book to read  - sometimes, you have to wait for the sequel. Yet, I know that the wait will be worth it. I do feel a little sad that I've left Teri, Xeke, and Ruddy, but hopefully I'll see them again soon.

Sherry and Michael - that cliffhanger ending - it was like watching the show Dallas! Well done!


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Vampires, Rednecks, and Morlocks?!

Let me just start this off with this - if you have NOT read the Black Knight Chronicles, here is the link to order the books as well as a bio of author John G. Hartness: CLICK HERE NOW.

Okay, done with that. If you did click on the link to order the books, you are in for a treat!

In the Still of the Knight is Book Five of the Chronicles - our beloved geek vampires Jimmy and Greg must deal with new vampires, a creature that drains humans of their life force, and pissed off rednecks as they discover that the city of Charlotte survives/manipulated on rules older than Time. The rules are never fair and lead to spilled blood and stepped on egos. Yet, with new threats and buried emotions dragged to the surface kicking and screaming, can our Undead Duo survive it? And if they do, will it change them for the better or worse? As much as I love this series, this book grabbed me by the neck and wouldn't let go. And I'm glad it didn't. This book made me laugh out loud, brush away tears, and get just as angry as the characters did when confronted by unwanted choices thrust upon them. The scene between Jimmy, a corpse, and God was intense. Book Five is very much John Hartness and yet much more - at the end of the book, I saw Jimmy in a new light. It seemed as though he "leveled up" and I remembered thinking "it's about damn time". 

I refrained from immediately diving into the sixth book, as I needed to allow my brain to settle down after Book Five's constant adrenaline rush. However, I know that time period won't be long, as Book Five left me on an "oh damn, NOW what?!" feeling.

Kudos to John for being an amazing Renaissance man and one hell of an author. Hope to see you soon, dude!


Monday, October 30, 2017

Tea Befitting Neptune - New Tea Review

Once again, I'm reviewing a tea that I purchased while attending the Midwest Tea Festival!

This time, I'm going to take you with me as we visit Nepal - the Himalayas and TEA! While at the Midwest Tea Festival, I took a class about the history of tea from Nepal, followed by sampling two teas processed by the company Nepal Tea LLC. The small group chose a white tea and a gold (black) tea, although I really wanted to try a green tea called Ganesha Green. Thankfully,  the tea company sold a sampler bag of their blends, one of which being Ganesha Green! From the first time our presenter told us about the blend, I knew I had to try it. Now, after enjoying many cups of it, it's one of my favourite loose leaf green teas of all time.

Ganesha Green is a lovely green tea with an oceanic feel to it - kelp and seaweed make for a delicious addition to the tea. The scent of the tea leaves is refreshing and clean, while the scent of the tea itself is vegetal and slightly ocean salty but not disgusting at all. When I tried it the first time, I remembered that I smiled as images of strolling on the beach during a cool Spring day came to mind. The tea is refreshing to the senses - no need to add any kind of sweeteners. I think that adding a sweetener to the tea would change the flavour in a not so good way. Enjoy this tea by itself and allow yourself to be drifted away. Neptune would certainly enjoy this tea.

One habit that I've gotten into is to study the leaves after they've steeped. I love to smell and look at the leaves after their contact with the hot water - beauty can be found anywhere. In any case, I can't recommend this tea enough to you. I know I'll be purchasing a larger container of Ganesha Green very soon!

Join the Leaf!

(the sampler bags from Nepal Tea LLC - so much tea!)

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Soundtrack of the Necropolis

(I'm currently playing this CD while writing out this review, of course!)

Valentine Wolfe is a breath of fresh air within the Gothic/Dark Victorian subculture. Combining dreamlike lyrics with dark music to soothe your soul, this band does more than just play music - they experience it. And they make sure that you do as well. When I learned that they were coming out with a new album through Kickstarter, I knew I had to contribute money. Of course, when I learned that the album was a love song to Death, I knew I wanted it even more.

From the first track of Sin Eater to the final song of Last Kiss, The Elegiac Repose is a damn near perfect album. Sarah Black's voice pierces through the Veil with grace and respect of the Dead, while Braxton Ballew's upright bass fuels the darkness in a proper way. Each song is its own creature, beautiful and deadly, yet you will want to turn it up wherever you are playing the album. Although the entire album is quite lovely, my favourite songs are Porcelain Creature and Melancholy is the Devil's Bath - these two songs really stand out to me. I also enjoyed the cards that came with the album - each song is represented with a beautiful photo and the lyrics on the back.

The Elegiac Repose is to remember those who have passed, those who are currently dealing with the loss of a loved one, those who enjoy excellent Gothic music, or those who are of the Death Positive persuasion. For those of you who don't know, the Death Positive movement is all about respecting Death and the mystery that surrounds it. In learning about Death do we learn to live. Two of the more well known organizations are the Order of the Good Death and Death and the Maiden. If you are interested in these organizations and what they are all about, I highly recommend checking them out.

I can't recommend The Elegiac Repose enough - please, purchase this album. You won't be sorry.

I am sure the inhabitants of the Necropolis in my stories would enjoy this album very much.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Tea Review - Kagoshima Japanese Green Tea

Once again, I'm reviewing a tea I purchased from the Midwest Tea Festival and this one makes me giddy. Kagoshima Japanese Green Tea was the first tea I tried when I entered the festival. Harney and Sons is one of my favourite tea companies - I give them much love whenever I visit a Barnes and Noble. I had the pleasure of meeting Emeric Harney at the festival as he told me of their teas to sample and enjoy. The Kagoshima quickly won me over as I drank my sample then moved on to other tea vendors.

The tea smelled of grassy green and green bell pepper - light and fresh with a hint of a "twang". As you can see in the above photo, this tea is vibrant in colour - just makes you feel happy and content. Once prepared, the tea liquor, pale green in colour, smelled very much like steamed green bell peppers. I know that sounds strange but it's true - it even says so on the box! Although the tea is also supposed to have hints of lemons and roasted walnuts, I could not detect those flavours yet the tea is by no means less than delicious.  The taste of the tea is light and refreshing to the palate, with the green bell pepper taste to enjoy. The mouth feel and finish is soothing and "wet". A calming influence with just enough to sharpen your focus. Drinking the tea reminds me of walking through a farmers market on a cool Saturday - fresh vegetables, clean air, and a feeling of good will.

Yes, I did get all that while sipping the tea.

I can't recommend this tea enough to those who enjoy good Japanese green tea. Do yourself a favour and order a box of this tea!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Tea Blend Review - Tangerine Sage Green Tea

I'm still enjoying the teas I purchased from the Midwest Tea Festival. Each tea so far has been a wonderful adventure and I still have so many more to go. Queen's Pantry Teas, located in Leavenworth, Kansas, had quite a display area at the festival, complete with many blends to try and even more to purchase and take home to enjoy in your home. Tangerine Sage, one of the green tea blends, is a pleasant blend to savour at all times of the day. I prefer to drink this tea blend after dinner as a nice dessert dish.

The tea blend colour is vibrant, with leaves that look as through they've just been processed. The scent of the blend is very much tangerine with a faint hint of sage. The scent of the green tea is barely there, as overpowered by the tangerine. If are NOT a fan of anything citrus, then I do not recommend this blend for you. However, if you do enjoy anything citrus, then read on! The tea liquor aroma is vegetal and citrus with sage hiding right at the very end, while the taste is all tangerine. As it cools, the taste of the tea gets smoother and more mellow. The mouth feel and finish are refreshing and reminiscent of a summer day with popsicles and walking along a beach. In fact, I'll dare to say that drinking this tea refreshes your breath better than chewing gum! (as I'm typing out this review, I'm drinking the tea and enjoying how fresh my breath smells!) If you are looking to expand your taste buds within the green tea realm, you can't go wrong with Queen's Pantry Teas Tangerine Sage Green Tea.


Monday, October 9, 2017

Bright, Precious Days of the Shallow

The first book I read by Jay McInerney was Bright Lights, Big City - a young man who succumbs to drugs and the fast life in New York City. I knew that McInerney was part of a literary group known as the Brat Pack (Bret Easton Ellis and Tama Janowitz are members of the group). The books written by these authors delved into the world of wealthy young professionals or artists who lived life on the edge with much drinking, drugs, and other "afterschool activities". It had been years since reading Bright Lights, Big City, yet when I learned that McInerney would be at Square Books, I knew I had to meet him. He read his passage from his new book, Bright, Precious Days, with a tone that had done and seen much and had the scars to prove it. The book signing was a memorable experience.

Let me start by saying this - I truly disliked almost every character in this novel. And yet, my eyes were glued to the pages, wanting to know more about these people and their lives. McInerney wrote this book as though they were friends of his and that the scenes were just times when they all hung out and "lived life". He wrote them with such familiarity that I almost want to email him and ask if these characters were based on real people. Bright, Precious Days is the third novel involving Russell and Corrine Calloway, the darling couple in New York and the center of their friends' circle. Russell works in the publishing industry while Corrine works in the world of non profits. They have two children and they are very typical in acting their ages. I confess that I have not read the previous two novels, yet with this one, it's pretty easy to learn about their history. The Calloways had a friend, their third wheel named Jeff - a genius who died much too soon. Russell and Corrine were, and in some case still are, the living embodiment of the 1980s. Drugs were looser then, people had sex with no shame or regrets, and life was meant to be lived by the fucking seat of your pants. It was a time to show the world what you were made of and damn them if they didn't understand you. Now that the Calloways and their friends are older, they face new challenges with a spark that is no less bright yet different.

I found myself wondering just how these people could keep up with their lives. People cheating on their spouses, alcohol that never seems to stop flowing, backstabbing each other with smiles, and ways to keep yourself looking emaciated because how else will you EVER fit into that Chanel dress you purchase for the latest benefit for some cause you couldn't care less about? Like I said earlier, I only liked one character - Russell - and the like I have for him was more out of pity than anything else. He sticks to his values and morals when it comes to publishing, and yet that blows up in his face. He loves his wife yet has no idea that an old flame re-enters her life. He sees his friends wandering off on their self destructive paths with a mixture of pity and sad familiarity. Yet, in the end, the Calloways remain the epicenter of the world they have created, if not for their friends' sake then definitely for themselves.

I absolutely loved this book - call it a guilty pleasure of mine. I love reading about characters who continue to spiral downwards all in the name of their values or the values held high by their friends. And when they seek some sort of redemption, you cheer them on and hope like hell that they make it "this time". When I finished it, I was sad to see this version of New York leave. Reading this book was anything but a bright, precious day.


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Adventures of a Tea Merchant - Persia

Tea is very much a universal language that can be obtained in most of the world. Being a Tea Merchant allows me to travel the world without leaving my home city. By chance, I decided to enjoy lunch in a small Persian restaurant on a nice Saturday afternoon. When the waiter asked what I wanted to drink, I asked about their teas. He quickly mentioned a Persian blend, to which I readily accepted. Several minutes later, the waiter brought out my tea and I knew I was in for a treat. Although he brought several kinds of sweeteners, the tea did not need it after one quick sip. As the music played in the restaurant, I felt myself swept away to a bazaar laden with exotic items and finding a cafe hidden away that served good food and refreshing tea. I finished my tea within several sips and knew that I had to purchase a box of the tea. However, the waiter informed me that the blend was the owner's special recipe and that it was not for sale. It keeps the customers coming back for more, he said. Although I was a little upset that I couldn't take the tea home, I was still happy to have found it.

Persia, by way of Memphis.