Friday, November 23, 2018

The Agents of ALL New Orleans

To date, I don't think I've read a book set in or written by an author living in New Orleans that I didn't love. I like how each of the authors speak of NOLA in their own way, thereby creating a new version of the city for people to enjoy. The Axeboy's Blues by Andy Reynolds is on that list.

Imagine if you will (yes, I was channeling the Twilight Zone) New Orleans on many levels - living, dead, and between. Now, imagine different time periods of New Orleans all going on at the same time. Now . . . imagine a group of people who know about the myriad of New Orleans-es and are determined to keep the city safe and protected. Welcome to the Agents Of.

Thanks to a most original bank robbery, pastry chef Edith Downs and her tattooed friend Mars are selected to become the newest members of The Agents Of, as approved by a man/god/shapeshifter and a half human who is very much an enigma. They are given the "simple" task of tracking down one Axeboy, son of the Angel of Death and The Axeman (current resident of Oblivion), and stopping his reign of terror involving trumpet players. Sounds simple, right? Nope! I forgot to mention people who can speak to and wind up cicadas, eating pieces of fruit that literally make you Wonder, drinking beer in ghost bars, meeting up with Agents from the 30s, and so on. In short, The Axeboy's Blues is one hell of a ride - if you think you know New Orleans, then you need to read Andy's version. His book will make you wish his version was real (and it probably is, because it's New Orleans and nothing down there surprises me but I digress).

I had the pleasure of meeting Andy the past weekend while down for Contraflow (much love!) and he was a delight to talk with. I will freely admit that I got nervous in meeting him but I'm glad we swapped books! If you live in NOLA, you can purchase the book at Tubby and Coo's MidCity Bookshop, or you can see Andy at Cafe EnVie on Decatur (he told me that he always has copies of his books with him!)

Solid characters, kick ass women who enjoy the fact that they are different, the battle between Time periods, true magick, many laughs, and an overall amazing story that kept me intrigued until the very end - The Axeboy's Blues is a must read!


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The Guardian - short story

Her toes dig into the mud. She wears a long black dress with grey lace barely hanging on the edge. She crouches down and scoops up a handful of mud in her hands, sniffs it, then slowly eats it. Time comes into play, along with tears shed for the dead, blood spilled in the name of someone long gone, and memories - she can taste it all. She continues to eat the mud as she watches the Mississippi River flow slowly in front of her. When she finishes eating, she walks to the river and bends down to wash her hands and feet then walks into the river. Cool water mixed with debris from other cities and times greet her dry skin as she wades into the water. A baptism for the fallen, the lost, the sacred. She walks until her waist is covered by the water that suddenly slows down around her. The river knows her, senses her body with the extremely old soul, and greets her. She nods then returns to the land. As her feet make contact with the land again, she closes her eyes and listens to the heartbeat of the city. Defiant after all these years. A refusal to disappear under the guise of modern skyscrapers and unsteady dreams. She can feel the city breathing. Once upon a time, the city spoke to her, asking for her love. She refused. The city continued to ask, beg, plead, demand. She continued to refuse. You belong with me, the city whispered to her through jasmine scented breezes. Come to me and I will show you. Come to me. She closed her eyes and SAW. When she finally said yes, the city opened its arms to her and made her its Guardian. She lives in a small house, unknown to many except for those who drink the city’s blood. The Guardian wanders the streets, walking in step to the heartbeat. When night falls, she will walk to the river and drink from it as though it was a delicate tea. When the city sighs, the Guardian dances barefoot within the shadows. And so it was and still is.

(photo by Kimberly B. Richardson)

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

A New Day for Sherlock Holmes!

I am a BIG fan of Sherlock Holmes! Now, having said that, I've not read all of the stories (but I plan on doing that very soon!) And yes, I loved the Basil Rathbone and Robert Downey Jr. films as well. However, I will say that author Nikki Nelson-Hicks has done a fantastic job of contributing to the Holmes universe with her book The Astonishing Tales of Sherlock Holmes - The Shrieking Pits! Dr. Watson learns, upon returning from his latest excursion, that his dear eccentric friend Holmes has gone missing in an attempt to catch . . . faeries? According to gentleman Ulysses K. Todd and his secretary (and formidable partner) Bernadine Dowell, they were the last to see Holmes alive! Watson decides to travel with his two new companions to Aylmerton to locate his possibly drug addled friend . . .and lands in something far more sinister and more profitable!

This book, published through ProSe Productions, will tickle the fancy of any Holmes fan as well as anyone who loves reading a well written story. Although the book is slim, the story is far from it - lemon juice, hidden messages, dirty silver, even dirtier family members, and above everything else, a chance to see Holmes in full form! What could be better than that? Kudos to Nikki for a job well done! And, if this book isn't enough for you, you need to check out her Accidental Detective series, also published through ProSe Productions! My tea company even has a blend inspired by the first novel in the series!


Sunday, October 21, 2018

Tea Review - Mi Lan Xiang Honey Orchid Oolong Tea (PATH OF CHA)

As I have stated way too many times, I LOVE Oolong tea. I love the way it smells and tastes and no two Oolongs are alike. When I discovered Mi Lan Xiang Honey Orchid Oolong Tea from Path of Cha, I knew I had to order a bag. Never mind the fact that I have probably over 40 bags of tea in my pantry (grin). When I smelled the tea in the bag, I couldn't really get a clear scent except clean - not a problem for me at all, though. However, the real delight came when I prepared and drank my first cup.

After pouring my first cup, my nose went right to the tea  - the trademark Oolong "scent" mingled with the warm sensation of honey and a faint hint of orchid/flower garden. I sighed after smelling it. When I took my first sip, I actually looked at the cup and said, "Wow . . . .mmmm . . . . ." With every sip, I kept looking at the cup with delight. The taste was smooth, a bit grassy, velvety, not overpowering flower garden, and the warm aspect of honey. Each sip "showed" more and more of the mixture without being too much or bitter. This tea was a great choice to prepare and enjoy with the cool temperatures in Memphis today. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys Oolongs as much as I, or for someone who wants to try something new but doesn't want anything overpowering. A good tea also for breakfast or after lunch with just a small hint of added honey but no sugar.

Much thanks to Path of Cha!

Friday, October 19, 2018

A Tea Blend for Photographers . . . and Everyone Else

(Overton Park - Memphis, Tennessee - taken by me) 

I wear many hats - tea blender, author, and photographer. All three of these things feed into each other and have opened other doors I never knew existed. In being a creative spirit, I have met many others who are passionate about what they DO and ARE. For example - I have met and befriended many photographers so far  - each one presents the world in their own unique way. They love the camera and it shows through their work.

May I present to you the new blend from Viridian Tea Company - The Art of Photography!

This tea blend is a black tea base blended with elderberries, blueberries, lemon peel, and infused with vanilla beans. I let this blend sit for several weeks and OH BOY, does it smell like Heaven.

But enough of the tea - I want to instead brag on the people who partially inspired this blend - check out their social media when you can and show some love. These hardworking people are masters in the field of photography:

Mitchell Hartman - One of the coolest conversations I've ever had was with Mr. Hartman as I stood in a museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, waiting for the hailstorm to pass. His work continues to astound and inspire me and I know you will feel the same way - Embrace the Grain is his link.

Carlton Johnson - I really do wish we were blood brother and sister. This beyond cool dude is an artist to the fullest and his photos of Los Angeles show that off quite well. Plus, he's got the most adorable little baby boy that I know will grow up to be just like his father - dapper, smart, artistic, and just cool - @Atlantean72 is his Instagram link.

Retta Bodhaine - I first met Retta through mutual friends and soon, I asked her to take part of a Cyberpunk photo shoot that I conducted in NOLA back in 2016. I simply adore her and her work and she is quite the force to be reckoned with as she embraces the concept of a Renaissance person - Write Brain Artistry is her link.

Mike Lee - I'm going to admit that I envy his style. He shot one photo that I literally couldn't stop staring at for quite some time (a woman intensely reading a book in either a bookstore or a library). I met Mike through Mitchell and I am so glad for the friendship. He is one hell of a genius behind the camera as he shows off his version of New York - Mike Lee Photography is his link.

David Lee Black - I first met him online through Myspace (yes, I am old) many years ago because I stumbled upon his work and fell in love with it. I had to tell him how much I liked his work and the rest is history. His style is fluid, dreamlike at times, and just gorgeous. One of his photos is the cover for the Realms of Imagination anthology (Dark Oak Press) - David Lee Black Studios is his link.

And as for me - Kimberly Richardson

Okay, back to the tea - you can order bags of the tea through my Etsy store, or purchase directly through me at the Cooper Young Farmers Market.

Good night and . . . Point. Click. Shoot.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Loneliest Man - fiction

He was the loneliest man in the world and you'd never know it. For years, I always saw him as this amazing creature, this person who defied all expectations of what a person could do. I used to admire him and secretly desired him to admire me, yet that was never the case. One look, one glance, one simple fucking word of acknowledgement from him was all I wanted. When months went by with sporadic conversations that ended with "so, what are you wearing?", I knew that my time with him was over. He only saw me as a piece of flesh, ass rather, than me as a full human being. I left and never looked back. Years later, while in a bookstore, I ran into him. He looked older yet still had that THING that made me want him as before. When I asked him how he was, he nodded his head and claimed that he was busy, oh so busy, and that he had to run soon for another project. I told him that I understood then made as if to leave, when he grabbed my arm and said that he had some time to spare if I had it as well. We found a quiet corner table near a window to sit down and enjoy. As soon as I did, he asked me if I was still single. I replied yes and that my life suddenly took a dramatic turn that made me happier for being so free. When I asked him the same, he refused to meet my eyes and instead shrugged. Life is what you make of it, he replied in a voice that suddenly sounded so frail. When I asked him what he meant, he finally looked at me then grinned. I don't mean anything, he said with a grin and it took all of my willpower to not take his hand and kiss each finger like I used to do. Instead, I checked my watch then said that I had to go. He rose with me and asked for my number, to which I gave him because, sure, I guess so. He then hugged me and kissed my cheek as his scent of clean cotton permeated my senses. When he pulled away, I felt my heart beat a little too fast. We went our separate ways.

It finally dawned on me as I enjoyed my massive bowl of angel hair pasta with meatballs at lovely Gerald's place that he was truly lonely. My friend, the one I loved and hated at the same time. When he looked at me, the way he asked for my number. The way he sighed without ever moving his lips. He was lonely. Such a being within the artistic community in our city with many friends always surrounding him. Yet, I finally knew better. Should I wrap my arms around him, pull him in close, and whisper, "You can let go now. I know your secret." Would he cry, or perhaps curse at me for knowing?

He actually called me a week later. Wanted to meet up for coffee or in my case, tea. I agreed then spent an hour figuring out my outfit with finally settling on one of my dark librarian looks. When we met up in the cafe down the street, he still looked older than before. We sipped on our drinks and made for the bullshit polite conversation that people have to go through in order to get to what's really bothering them. When he did, I was stunned. He told, no, rather confessed, that for years he'd been in love with me yet never knew how to tell me. How could I tell you something that I thought you would have rejected, he asked with a laugh at the end. I was stunned; I said nothing yet drank my tea to hide my shaking hands. I loved you regardless of our age differences, regardless of our race differences. I loved you then and . . . he glanced away. Damn that habit of his, I thought. I . . .love you now, he said as he took my hand in his. Can you ever love a broken painter? His hand felt so rough yet so real as he stroked my hand. I thought you were lonely, I whispered, to which he grinned. Of course I was and still am, he replied. Even if you say yes and I want you to, I can't ever get rid of that. I glanced out of the window and noticed how people slowed down as the world went on. I feel like I'm in a Wes Anderson film, I said. But in this reality, he replied as he leaned forward to kiss my hand, my loneliness loves you.

I said yes.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

New Tea Blend and Photo Shoot - Shinrin-yoku Herbal Tisane

(model - author Hilaire Barch/HC Playa)

I was first introduced to Shinrin-yoku through Emily Guenther, owner of The Broom Closet in Memphis. The term means either "taking in the forest atmosphere" or "forest bathing". What that means is - taking a walk in a forest or nature area and enjoying the surroundings. To slow down your breathing and be aware - a kind of meditation. From all of my time walking through forests and Nature trails, I then began to wonder about a tea blend for that specific concept.

May I present to you - Shinrin-yoku Herbal Tisane!

Herbal tisanes contain no caffeine; the blend does consist of chamomile and passion flower. Don't drink this blend then expect to have a productive day. Shinrin-yoku is meant to relax you and calm your senses. I actually made the blend a while ago and let it sit. When I opened the lid to smell it, the lovely smell almost overpowered me in a good way.

The herbal tisane will be available through my Etsy store as well as The Broom Closet located in the South Main Arts District in Memphis. I will also have the blend available at my booth at upcoming events (Contraflow in November for example).

And now, here are other photos from the Shinrin-yoku photo shoot - much thanks to author Hilaire Barch/HC Playa for being such an amazing model:

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Jazz Lovers and Almond Croissants

It began, of course, with jazz. That music that can’t be defined no matter how many scholars try with regal effort. The first time I saw him, arrogant prick, was at a jazz concert. I stood in line to get my CD signed by the musicians while he sauntered through the crowd. When I saw him, I wanted to laugh. All black clothing worn with a careless effort, black sneakers that looked to be expensive, and a man bun to accentuate his striking face. He walked through the crowd with an air of “oh yes, I belong here”. When he turned in my direction, I suddenly found my CD to be very interesting. Apparently my glance wasn’t timed right as I felt a presence near me. I looked up as the scent of sandalwood greeted my nose.
“I studied under him, you know.” It was him, the man bun object of my interest and disgust. I looked into his face and felt at a loss for words. His blue eyes seemed to sparkle with some knowledge that only he possessed. “It was five years ago,” he said, “and I don’t regret that time at all.”
“I’m sure and why are you telling me this?” I asked, wanting to challenge him on anything that he had to say. He took my CD from my hands and flipped it over several times as he studied it.
“You stared at me,” he said as he handed the CD back to me, “so why not?” I felt myself growing warm under his gaze and my embarrassment. “Kyle Greenlaw,” he said as he held out his hand.
“Olympia Taylor,’ I replied as she shook hands, with me giving more of a grip than necessary. His eyes never left mine.
“So, Olympia, I’m assuming that you’re a jazz fan or just damned curious.” We released hands and I gripped my CD even tighter.
“My granddad raised me on jazz so I’m here by default. I would have taken him to the concert if he was still alive.” I wanted to one up him just to wipe that smirk off his face. “And you’re here to see your former teacher.” Kyle said nothing yet remained standing next to me as the jazz quartet finally arrived at the table to sign our CDs. They were sweating from giving their all during that groovy hour and 30 minute concert, yet mustered enough energy to give us one last look at them before they left in the middle of the night for their next destination. The energy between us concertgoers and the musicians was dazzling and soon, I forgot that Kyle stood next to me. We inched ever closer to them as I racked my brain trying to come up with something witty or sarcastic to say to him. I wanted to have the upper hand in what little exchange we had, yet the words left my brain like sand in an hourglass. He, on the other hand, looked as though he could have cared less to converse with me. He came, after all, to see his former teacher. I refused to wonder about his MO for standing with me and turned all my attention to the meeting the drummer of the quartet, the first seated at the table.
I handed my CD to him and said how much I loved their concert as he smiled widely, showing off the gap in his teeth, and signed my CD. I moved along the table as each musician had a chance to sign the CD along with words of thanks and phrases from the 60s that may have sounded outdated by anyone else but a jazz musician. Kyle continued to remain silent next to me. We finally reached the leader - 80 years old and still playing the saxophone like he was born with it in his mouth. He signed my CD then his eyes went wide as he saw Kyle.
“Greenlaw!” he said as he leaned across the table. Kyle leaned forward and grabbed the old man in a tight hug as they both burst into laughter.
“Killer show tonight,” Kyle said as he pulled back.
“You know I gotta give to my audience!” He signed my CD then looked at both of us as a slow grin crept across his face. “Lucky bastard,” he said. “I hear your trio is doing well, and you’ve got yourself quite woman with you!” Before I could say anything, Kyle quickly wrapped an arm around my waist then kissed my cheek. Here we were - one white uber hipster guy grinning like crazy and one black woman completely and utterly lost at the current situation.
“I’m a lucky man,” Kyle said with a big grin that almost made me want to laugh. “I can’t complain when I’ve got her with me.”
“I can tell. Say, coming to Boston next month? I’ve got your backstage passes.”
“Wouldn’t miss it.” The old man nodded his head like a wise sage then we were out of the line and walking toward the door. When we walked outside, the cold crisp air hit my senses with a punch. I took a deep breath then exhaled with head toward the night sky. I wondered which star was mine. The rest of the crowd started to come out of the performance center. Their conversations surrounded us yet I couldn’t hear them. This guy . . . I thought. And thought some more.
“Why didn’t you tell him that I’m not with you?” I said as I continued to watch my breath float toward the black heaven. The noise surrounding us suddenly quieted down.
“Why didn’t you?”
I looked at him and his smirk. “Too caught up in meeting the quartet.”
“Ah. Really.” He crossed his arms.
“Let down your hair,” I replied as I crossed my arms as well.
“Rapunzel you ain’t, but let down your hair anyway.” Kyle reached up to tug on his man bun then shook his hair loose. Long dark brown waves of hair fell around his face. He ran his fingers through it then gave it a final shake, causing me to laugh.
“Got anything planned on November 20th?” he asked while I willed my heart to stop beating so damn fast.
“Other than nothing, why?”
“How about we start with a date tomorrow, see if we like each other, then, and I know we will, have several more, then you come with me to Boston? Week long vacation.” I stood there in cold silence. Cold because I was freezing yet warming up to his idea. Stranger things have happened before and tonight . . . I looked up at the night sky again.
“One condition,” I said.
“Name it.”
I lowered my gaze to him again. “Cafe du Noir, please. They’ve got really good almond croissants.” Kyle stood in silence then leaned forward and kissed me.
“Your phone number,” he said as he pulled away. I quickly gave him a business card. He studied it then whistled low. “My my,” he said as he placed the card in his pocket, “I chose well tonight. Artist, no less.”
“Painter and photographer.”
“Details, Olympia.” He took my hand and kissed it.
“I thought you were some arrogant prick.”
He caressed my face. “I get that a lot but I still want tomorrow and beyond.” Somewhere deep inside of me, I wanted to believe him. What did I have to lose? More importantly, what did I have to gain? He asked me where I parked my car and if he could walk me to it. As we finally made our way away from the event, Kyle took my hand in his and suddenly, Boston seemed very possible in my future. So long as I could get an almond croissant. 

(thank you, Mr. Lloyd)

Monday, October 1, 2018

TEA REVIEW - Tanzania Oolong (Upton Tea Imports)

Let me say right off that this oolong tea stumped me. Although I am still working on obtaining my Tea Specialist certification, my senses are nowhere near as those of James Norwood Pratt or Jane Pettigrew. This Tanzania Oolong from Upton Tea Imports really got me  - I am still trying to "decipher" the complex layers as I am typing out this review. But, like the Indonesian Green Tea I previously enjoyed by them, this one is quite good!

The scent of the tea is a cross of earthy, sweet, and minty. I kept shaking the bag and sniffing, wondering if I truly did smell the mint - every time, I did. The mint scent is milder than gum. When I brewed it, I accidentally let it over steep (bad habit of mine), yet when I poured a cup, I was surprised. The brewed tea smells earthy with that hint of mint. My first cup was light earthy with something that rolled underneath it. It took me at least five sips to figure it out and I think I have - it's the sweetness rolling undetected under the earthy taste. It was hard to put that part of the tea's taste into words, yet as I continued to roll the tea around in my mouth, the sweetness came forth. I could also taste the "oolong" part of the tea - if you've had an oolong tea before, you know what I'm talking about. It's not green and it's not black but rather right in the middle of both that is distinct of neither. The earthy taste was not repulsive at all as it was mild. Don't think of earthy as "dirt" but rather as "fresh" - kissed by the sun and pulled by hands that cared. So, the way that the tea works in your mouth is like this - earthy - oolong - sweet. You really don't need sugar or any kind of sweetener with this one. It works all on its own - that's how you know you've got a stellar cup of tea.

Much thanks again to Upton Tea Imports - I hope to review more of their tea!

Sunday, September 30, 2018

An Erotic Obsession with Lunch

While on a small vacation, I ventured into a bookstore to see what would whet my appetite. Lunch, an erotic fiction novel by Karen Moline, grabbed my attention. I've only read a handful of erotica, but I figured I would give it a shot. I read that 369 page paperback in one day, only to take a break to go shopping and eat dinner. That was it. I honestly couldn't put it down. I've never read the Fifty Shades trilogy although the blurb on the back of the book stated that Lunch was for those readers. I have to say that, from what I know of the books, Lunch is much, much better.

Nick Muncie is a man who has it all - looks, women willing to throw themselves at his feet, money, and an acting career that is poised to make him immortal. However, while enjoying lunch in a restaurant in London while on location for his latest film, he meets the painter Olivia Morgan. As much as he is bored by the hordes of women who throw themselves at him, he is however intrigued by Olivia because she has no idea who he is and doesn't really care. He is then determined to make her notice him and fall under his spell under the guise of her doing his portrait. While Olivia thinks he's nothing more than a pompous ass who gets what he wants, Nick finds himself at her aloof mercy. Sounds somewhat interesting, right? Well, how about if we throw in the fact that Nick has a very very very dark side, one that he enjoys unleashing on naive women. And, let's also throw into the mixture his "friend" and bodyguard known as either the Major or M (and also the narrator of the story) who assists Nick with whatever he wants. The two have a history and while you get only a glimpse of it, it's enough to understand their dynamic. It's also good to have M as the narrator as we witness the spiral of darkness, sensuality, erotica, depravity, control, and obsession between Nick and Olivia because he is neutral . . . to a point.

This was a damn good read. There, I said it. I wanted to know the fates of all of the characters and my desire was satisfied. I've always stated that if an author can make me become a part of their world, they've hooked me. Moline did a fantastic job of that with Lunch and even beyond. However, I will also give kudos to her because while this novel is very erotic, you don't have explicit sex scenes. You have just enough (and hopefully, you have a good enough imagination) to give you wave after wave of thrills. Several times, I put the book down and stared off into space; not because I was imaging those scenes with my boyfriend but because they were that intense. Moline pulled something deep within me (my own darkness) - very few authors can do that to me. Moline is a natural.

I've already added her other book, Belladonna, to my Amazon shopping cart but I'll probably begin looking for it in bookstores around here - I want to return to her words, her sensuality.

Thank you, Karen, for Lunch.


Thursday, September 27, 2018

Tea Review - Cucumber Lime Oolong (TeaSource)

TeaSource is celebrating their 20th anniversary - huzzah! When they sent their latest newsletter email out, I noticed that they had an oolong tea that grabbed my attention: Cucumber Lime Oolong. Oolong teas are my weakness, so of course I had to try it. After a grueling day at corporate followed by several hours of cleaning my apartment, it was time to enjoy a cup (or three!) of this oolong tea blend. When I smelled it in the bag, the cucumber walked right up to me and shook my hand. Years ago, I never would have considered cucumber to be a possible ingredient in tea, yet it's one of the better ingredients out there. The taste is not overpowering and works well if you are trying to make a "lighter than air" blend. The Cucumber Lime Oolong is just that - it reminded me of walking through a small artsy beach town (I have no idea why that popped in my head, but there ya go). Whoever came up with this blend was spot on.

I love to watch an oolong tea unfurl in hot water. The leaves are poetic when they move in the water. I'm not sure if I waited long enough for the tea to steep because I HAD to have a cup. When I poured the first cup, the cucumber greeted me again while the lime remained in the background. When I sipped it, the cucumber refreshed my mouth and gave a boost as well. This tea cooled me down - yes, some teas have the ability to cool you down, even while served hot. This tea blend did just that as the cucumber and the oolong blended rather well on an equal footing. The lime was faintly in the back, lending a bit of itself to meld with the cucumber. It's so faint that you almost wonder if there is lime in the blend. However, that is not a complaint at all but merely my observation. Other people may be able to taste the lime more than the cucumber. I'm thinking of making it iced this weekend with a bit of honey to see if perhaps the lime will come out a bit stronger that way. With my second cup, the cucumber became more pronounced yet still held onto the refreshing and cooling aspects. Again - excellent tea! 

Overall, if you enjoy a good oolong tea, I highly recommend the Cucumber Lime Oolong. Also, if you are looking to get into tea and not sure where to start, I would recommend this tea blend as well. Don't let the thought of "drinking" hot cucumbers bother you - when you have that first cup, you will sigh with pleasure. Much thanks to TeaSource for creating such a lovely blend!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Tea Review - Indonesian Green Tea (Upton Tea Imports)

A representative of Upton Tea Imports emailed me some time ago to ask if I would be willing to review several of their teas for them. Of course I said yes. While in the midst of preparing my tea blends for an upcoming health fair and watching The Grand Budapest Hotel (I have a very big crush on Ralph Fiennes, but I digress), I decided to try one of their teas tonight. The Indonesian Green Tea seemed like a lovely choice. I am not affected by the caffeine content within green tea, so I knew I wouldn't be staying up half the night.

The scent of tea in the bag is light vegetal with a hint of crisp and fresh. The first time I smelled it in the bag, it reminded me of a valley after a light Spring rain - delicate and luscious. In making the tea, the scent remained crisp and grassy. I love my green teas to have that grassy smell with a hint of sharp; I think it adds to an overall pleasant mouthfeel and finish. When I tasted the tea, however, I was met with a little surprise: the tea is velvet smooth with a dash of buttery. It's like enjoying creamy butter with chives on a piece of toast. The grassy crisp taste blends with the smooth and buttery, making an overall wonderful cup of tea as my mouth feels as though it has been revived. I normally enjoy Japanese green tea (sencha), yet this green tea from Indonesia was a delight to try. I will be adding it to my Teas That I Will Order list. I don't recommend adding any kind of sweetener to the this tea. Enjoy it as it is and you will love it.

Much thanks to Upton Tea Imports for this opportunity - I'm on my second cup and the taste is even better than before. Smoother and more "spring rain over green vegetables" than the first cup but still beautiful.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

TEA REVIEW - Buddha Moon (East Indies Coffee and Tea)

I met the folks of East Indies Coffee and Tea while at the World Tea Expo earlier this year. After smelling several of the tea blends, I made a request to have samples mailed to my home. Buddha Moon, one of their herbal tisanes, seemed like the perfect way to enjoy my Wednesday night. I will admit that while writing this review, I've been sniffing the bag - the tisane hits my senses like walking right into the sun. Spicy, sunny, citrusy - all of that in one sniff.

I was surprised at the delicate colour that Buddha Moon took while preparing it. The colour reminds me of a somewhat cloudy Spring day - a sense of warmth from the sun yet you have the cool breezes to balance it. The smell still held the citrus, spicy, sunny flavour. The taste is a delicate nature, of which surprised me. I expected it to be bold and "in your face" but not so. It held a buttery, spicy, and sunny flavour, one that made my mouth feel quite relaxed and . . . loved. Yes, I went there. Such a delight to enjoy - I will be adding this blend to my Must Order list.

Much thanks to East Indies Coffee and Tea!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Art of Forgiveness

This is one of the best books I've read this year.

Okay, now for the review!

Within the span of a weekend (and beyond), author Cherise Wolas has weaved a story that will make you have a conversation with yourself when you finish it. And then you'll want to discuss the book with your friends, even when they haven't read the book (I did that with my very patient boyfriend). The question is this: what does it truly mean to ask or wish for forgiveness? In The Family Tabor, the main character - Harry Tabor - is our representative for such a question as he attempts to answer it himself with his actions.

After many years of heading a very successful non profit organization called CST, Harry will soon be the recipient of the Man of the Decade award. His lovely wife Roma and his three adult children Phoebe, Camille, and Simon, will all be there to watch him receive such a bestowed honour. The children all live in different cities and are all successful in their own way - a product of being Harry and Roma Tabor's children. Harry wakes up the day of the award ceremony in a fantastic mood and enjoys a game of tennis with his friend . . . only to have it all come crashing down on him. Thanks to a vision, a very black moment in his past returns to his life, leaving Harry dumbfounded and more importantly, finally ready to do the right thing. In wanting forgiveness, the secret must come to life once more. In fact, as Harry must deal with his very horrible secret, we learn that everyone within the family has a secret to keep as well. As each person comes to grips with their secret, they also want forgiveness as a way of understanding just why they have their secret.

This book gripped me from beginning to end and when I finished it, I read the final pages just to make sure I understood what happened. I read for so long that I forgot to turn on my lights when day gave way to night outside. I sat on my couch and didn't move for 2-3 hours because I had to know. I had to know if Harry succeeded in his quest for forgiveness; if Phoebe would ever tell the horrible (and somewhat pathetic) truth of her so-called perfect life. Would Camille finally ask forgiveness of her real self, and would Simon finally ask for forgiveness of his religion? Would Roma, the absolute glue of the family, reveal what everyone else wanted to keep behind closed doors? Yes, I thought way too hard about this book.

Wolas' writing reminds me of Woody Allen films - these people live in a completely different world than the rest of us that is still part of this world. Yes, they have problems and issues like the rest of us, yet they make their tragedy so damn glorious. As I read The Family Tabor, I kept wishing I could actually meet Camille and have tea with her because out of all of the characters, she reminded me of myself and several of my friends. These characters demand more from themselves in all aspects of their lives and it shows from their job choices to how they spend their free time, to even what books they will read. Wolas' writing reminds me of the books of Ian McEwan (love his work), Claire Messud, and C. Morgan Babst - tragedy never looked so beautiful and intellectual.

Much thanks, Cherise - I will say that I did not expect the ending and yet it was the only way to end the novel.



Sunday, September 16, 2018

Two Women - One Me

She woke up from a dream and went into the bathroom. She stared into the mirror and noticed two women staring at her . . . . 

ONE - 

This one listened to what others told her. Don't make mistakes, they would say. Why dress like that? Black, yellow, white, purple, orange, blue is not your colour, dear. Flat affect, a sense that no, I'm not trying to make waves. I can't make waves. I can only place my ear to the ground and watch the thin trickle creep toward nothing. This one wanted to please everyone. Smile, dear, they tell her. You're so pretty when you smile. Show teeth, dear, but not too much. Watch those who want to use you. She tread carefully along the sidewalks, making sure not to step on any cracks. No backs broken, no buttons popping off her dress. When the boys began to look at her strangely, they rushed in with gates and fences. Don't give in, they scream. Don't let them take it, so soon, too soon. She felt their gazes on her, wanted to know what it was all about. She wanted to know what a kiss meant. She gave in. And regretted it. It wasn't for love, he told her. Only because I was bored. Rising through the clouds, she took what was offered to her. Black window-less buildings that towered over her. Come in, they said, and we'll give you a number. Leave your name at the door. Assistant to one, servant to another. Blinding beige everywhere. She closed her eyes and waited for her lunch break. Every. Damn. Day. Still assisting, still nearby, always quiet. Quiet, dear, they tell her now. Quiet.

TWO - 

That one was born in a forest. Leaves stuck to her body while bugs crawled all over her. She cried with the foxes and drank from the rivers. Her hair, long, uncombed - symbol of her presence. She saw colours when none could be seen. She flew with immense raven wings. She read the stories of gods and goddesses of old and wondered - where did they go? She wanted to meet Hades and ask him why he was so sad, then persuade him to take her as his lover. She dreamt of swimming with whales, killing seals with great whites, and attacking prey with the pythons. She wandered through jungles and wrote her adventures. She fell in love. Again. Again. She slept with men and women, always seeking a new sensation. She met one who understood. Verboten, the others hissed at her. Keep away. She ignored them and gave him her heart. He refused. She threw herself into the river like Ophelia, her Saint. Not to die but to baptize herself. Cleanse yourself of the limited, her Saint told her.  Madness wanted to touch her, only to recoil when they realized who (what) she was. She kept her heart in a glass box. Never again, she screamed into the winds. Free me. She stopped bathing - she liked her smell of pine needles and burning sage. Running faster, faster, even when her lungs threatened to burst from her chest. To run meant that she could dream. Drink tea with the ghosts of regrets, make love in an Parisian bookstore, walk through a cemetery and cry on the tombstones, travel with gypsies through forgotten kingdoms, and listen. Hear the stories of those who answered the Call. Listen, dear Childe. Listen. Stand up. Fight. 

Two women stare at her through the mirror. 

Two women - one me.

 - end

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Ladies and Gentlemen . . . THE GRAND PUPPET SHOW OF DEATH

The Grand Guignol (French for large puppet show) was something to behold in Paris. People would flock to the theatre to witness people getting chopped up, mutilated beyond belief, driven insane, engage in questionable sexual practices, be witnesses to humorous events, and so on. It was common for someone (or several someones) to faint in the theatre after witnessing such gruesome spectacles. And yet, they loved it. Mel Gordon does a fantastic job in telling the story behind the Grand Guignol and this book was well worth the read.

In his book Theatre of Fear and Horror, published through Feral House, Gordon explains the origins of the Grand Guignol and how several of the founders were obsessed with Poe, Death, and all things strange and unusual. There had to be a way to tap into the deep darkness of Mankind and expose it in all of its gory detail . . . for a fee, of course. Regular patrons came to be known as Guignolers - they held special seats within the theatre. Madness, sex, humor, crass ways of living, horror, mutilation - just a regular night. Gordon then goes on to explain how making many of the special effects were quite protected by the crew, right down to the making of the blood before the show. It took skill to create such believable scenes without overdoing it. However, with WWII came a decline in enjoying the Grand Guignol - how could someone watch fake torture on stage when real torture and unspeakable acts were being committed all around them?  As the support for the Grand Guignol dwindled, a rise occurred for the Universal Monster films (inspired by the GG), then fell completely away and seen as campy until the Hammer Horror films appeared (I LOVE the Dracula films - just sayin). The book then ends with 100 plots of plays that were performed by the Grand Guignol as well as two full plays titled A Crime in the Madhouse and Orgy in the Lighthouse - oh yes.

Why are we obsessed with that which scares us? Why do we love what we fear? Why is it that people still enjoy being scared out of their minds even today? Is it a rush of adrenaline, or perhaps we love seeing others go through something horrific, knowing that we won't? Whatever the reason, the Grand Guignol gave the people what they secretly desired and returned it tenfold. In fact, as I was recently bitten by the GG Bug, I knew I wanted to collect as many books on the subject as well as possibly put one of the plays on in my home city. I'm already a lover of the Dark - what's one more grisly step closer?


Saturday, September 8, 2018

Tea Review - Farmer's Market Herbal Tisane (Elmwood Inn)

I received my sampler packet of Farmer's Market from Elmwood Inn Fine Teas while at the World Tea Expo in Las Vegas this year. I was drawn to the sight and smell of the herbal tisane and knew I had to try it. I figured that today would be a good day to try it before I head out to the International Goat Days Festival!

The scent of the tisane is quite heady and "oh, good morning". When I prepared it, I allowed for it to steep for quite some time before enjoying my first cup. The colour of the tea is a deep rich red and it was nice to watch it change as the tea steeped. My first cup gave me an immediate taste of apples and sun kissed tomatoes. I was reminded of walking through a farmers market in the early Spring, when there is still a slight chill in the air blended with the warmth of the sun. The tomato taste was truly sun kissed and I loved how it blended well with the apple. However, as it cooled down, I noticed that other flavours began to appear - cucumber and the citrus - making the cup even more enjoyable. I also noticed that the citrus was more pronounced when I left it longer in my mouth than just just swallowing it. All in all, a very good tisane to enjoy in the morning - it went well with my scrambled eggs and peach slices.

Since there is no caffeine in this blend, it can be enjoyed all day but I still think it goes better with the morning. It truly tastes like a stroll through a farmer's market, complete with people enjoying themselves and good weather.

Much thanks to Elmwood Inn Fine Teas!

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Tea Review - Orchid Isle Oolong, Second Alarm Farm, Hawaii (TEALET)

In setting up a wholesale account with Tealet for my tea company, I have been quite fortunate to discover some delicious teas from all over the world. The tea I tried today was the Orchid Isle Oolong from Second Alarm Farm in Hawaii. Although I over steeped it (I know, I know - shouldn't have done that), it proved to be quite an excellent representation of oolongs. What makes an oolong is the special rolling of the leaves during the processing stage - that is what gives the oolong its flavour. When you try an oolong tea, there is nothing else that comes close to its flavour. Oolong is my favourite kind of tea, in case you can't tell.

The scent of the leaves was quite bright and crisp with that signature scent that all oolongs seems to have to me - a combination of heady, vegetal, and floral. Each twist and curl of the leaves looks like art to me - I love to watch the leaves unfurl and give out their essence to the hot water in creating the perfect cup of tea. The scent of the tea was grassy and mild and not unpleasant even with me over steeping it. When I finally had my first cup, my senses went into overdrive. The taste reminded me of walking through a botanical garden with every kind of flower represented. Floral, light, still heady, grassy, and just delicious - all in one cup. This tea can be consumed all day because it is not too heavy nor too light. However, after two cups, I feel that Orchid Isle Oolong would really make a good afternoon tea - just getting in from work or after a full day of activities. It is settling and calming but then again, the art of preparing and drinking tea is calming as well (Chado). This is a tea that I could enjoy alone or blended with other ingredients like dried lemon peel or lemongrass. I may be using this tea in a future blend within my tea company.

Much thanks to Elyse Petersen for sending my samples!

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Public Enemy No. 1 of France

I first learned about Jacques Mesrine through a friend of mine - she told me about the two movies in which French actor Vincent Cassel portrayed Mesrine. I decided to rent them and well, I lost track of time. I remembered that I kept asking my self, "Did this guy really exist?" How could a man escape from prison so many times? How could he do the things he did and get away with it? I found myself fascinated with Mesrine and knew that I had to read his book. He wrote The Death Instinct while in prison and worked with secret channels to smuggle the book out and get it published -

In The Death Instinct, Mesrine tells of his life from childhood to becoming one of the most feared people in France and Canada. He tells of the women he loved and married, his children (especially his relationship with his daughter, Sabrina), and the life of crime he willingly chose. He only had one regret in Life and it was due to a misunderstanding. His was a life of money, power, control, and danger. His life was of decadence and having it all and the banks were going to "assist" him with that dream. Although he did try to live a normal straight life, Fate threw him back into the life he truly loved and wanted. And although he usually was several steps ahead of the police, he was gunned down in a firing squad style takeout on November 2, 1979 in Paris.

I flew through this book, mostly because I knew of some of his life through the Vincent Cassel films. This book read like true hard-boiled crime fiction and I had to keep reminding myself that everything in this book REALLY HAPPENED. This book is not for the squeamish. Mesrine's writing kept me glued to the pages - he tells you everything and you can't look away. Escaping from prison (repeatedly), attempting to kidnap a billionaire, robbing banks, settling scores with people who harm women - Vive le France, indeed. After watching the films, I asked my parents if they remembered hearing about Mesrine in the news, to which they said no. I shook my head - when Mesrine was gunned down, I was 4 years old.

Enjoy the trailer for the first film - Mesrine: Killer Instinct!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Darkness Within Rome

I was a late bloomer to Anne Rice. Truth be told, I went the route of Clive Barker when it came to seductive horror and Brian Lumley for unique vampires. However, when I finally read Interview with the Vampire, my whole world changed. As much as I loved New Orleans, Anne Rice showed me a different side to the city, one that I truly believe in. if the city is host to so many Strange and Unusual things, why not vampires as well? I read her books, okay devoured, and wanted only more. When I began writing my own version of Gothic, I left her books behind. However, due to a conversation between me and several of my NOLA Sisters, I decided to return to her world - I knew the just the one to return with. Pandora: New Tales of the Vampires, tells the story of Pandora, nee Lydia, as she converses with David (formerly of the Talamasca and now a vampire) and finally decides to write her story.

I've always loved Ancient Roman history - from the emperors to the vomitoriums, from the Bread and Circuses to the inventions that we use even now, I've believed in the phrase: To Know Rome, You Must Honour and Love Her. The Rome that we get to see through Pandora's eyes is filled with opulence, decadence, blood, gorging, gods and goddesses, and above it all - literature and poetry. Lydia, even as a mortal child, is a free thinking outspoken young woman who is loved and adored by her father. Yet, one day, she meets a man named Marius who will change her live forever (literally). When she is older, she begins to be plagued by dreams of being a Blood Drinker under the gaze of the Ancient Ones - those who whisper to her and tell her of her Fate. From there, we see her rise, utter fall, and then her Rise into the Dark Gift.

I LOVED this book when I first read it, yet I couldn't remember too much of it. When I recently returned to it, I found myself loving it even more. Anne Rice is a natural when it comes to sensual horror - this books made me wish to be in Ancient Rome and experience it to the fullest.

I've ordered a copy of Merrick and I'm looking forward to returning to that book as well very soon.

Much love to my NOLA Sisters and see you soon!


Saturday, August 4, 2018

The Gothic Tragedy of Erik

For the longest time, the only thing I knew about the Phantom of the Opera was the musical and the Lon Chaney film. Some time ago, I read (and LOVED) Prince of Conjurers by my friend Laurie L. Bolanos - it gave me a wonderful introduction into Erik's world. I reviewed the book - check out the Archives of this blog to locate it. Knowing me, though, I knew that I needed to read the original work and so I did. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux was a FANTASTIC read, one that I devoured within days. Even if the story were never turned into a musical romance, I still feel sorry for Erik. Let me explain why.

Erik is the Opera Ghost, the mysterious being who "resides" within and under the Paris Opera. He receives money on a monthly basis, uses Box 5 for performances, and is enamoured with Christine Daae, the opera singer with the angelic voice. If anyone tries to capture the Ghost, Erik pays them back dearly through death or eternal shame. No one seems to be able to stop him, except for Raoul, Christine's lover, and the Persian (LOVE THIS CHARACTER!) The two men stop at nothing to defeat Erik and rescue Christine from his clutches and they do . . .  However, after I finished the book today, I wondered: if Erik was normal looking or even handsome, would he still have been considered to be a monster? Would he have been instead a "misunderstood man"? true, Erik did revel in his deformity to a point, yet he still had a heart (black and twisted but it was still there). He found in Christine a special soul, one who could possibly understand and maybe love him. That was all he wanted - love. His parents hated him for how he looked and his mother never gave him a kiss. Yet, before he died, he shared kisses with Christine and their tears "mingled".  tragically beautiful - I'm such a sap for those things (grin).

As I read the story, I tried to imagine Erik's face followed by looking up pics online. I wanted to see Erik for who and what he was - a truly tragic character that used his intelligence and wits to stay ahead. Did he love Christine? Honestly, I'm not sure. I think it was more of an obsession than love but that's my opinion. In Prince of Conjurers, Laurie gives him the chance to love someone and she does it well. She shows that Erik, despite his appearance, can love and be loved despite what he has to go through to obtain it.

Well done, Monsieur Leroux and Madame Bolanos - Phantom of the Opera should be a must read for anyone who loves to read or wants to read a good story. And if you've read Phantom and want more of Erik, pick up a copy of Prince of Conjurers through her website (linked above) or through Tubby and Coos MidCity Bookshop in NOLA.


Wednesday, August 1, 2018

A Haitian Voice

When a Haitian wishes to tell a story, they say "Krik?" and the listeners reply with, "Krak!" Such is the title of Edwidge Danticat's book Krik? Krak! The short story collection is a wonderful representation of the people of Haiti as it shows outsiders the depth of their culture. These stories also delve into the relationships between women in and out of families. The men appear to be background characters as the women dictate the way to live and embrace their culture. The women, no matter where they are located, are representatives of the love and pain of Haiti.

The first story, Children of the Sea, was both depressing and horrifying to read, yet it conveyed the spirit of those who wish for a better life despite the price. The story is set up like letters as a young man and woman convey their continued love for each other: while he is on a boat seeking asylum, she is in Haiti seeking asylum as well. The desire for something better will overcome even the most futile of gestures. The story Between the Pool and the Gardenias disturbed me greatly when I figured out what was going on. I won't give the plot away but I will say that you need to savour it. The story is beautiful in that desperation never looked lovelier. All of the stories were incredible yet those two stuck out in my mind the most.

I can't believe it's taken me this long to read Danticat's works yet better late than never. She writes with such passion and spirit for her culture that you can't help but get caught up in it as well. She is the voice of Haitian women, proud and strong, free and terrorized. She tells the stories and we must listen. We must answer with Krak!


Sunday, July 29, 2018

sylvia - poem

In this space -
here and now, beginning and ending -
she exists between it all.
A colour not yet defined of her eyes
appears when she touches me.
I am a humble man
set before a most banal path
that she placed before me
over a simple game of chess.
She came to me when she had no one.
The world, she claimed, wanted to
put her out, douse the flames to cool her skin.
Are you too much for Life, I asked,
not expecting an answer.
You see me as I once was, she replied.
When I danced with gods
and slept with demons.
I want to hold her pale sturdy body,
caress her hair that moves on command,
and feel her lips next to mine
as she tries to steal my soul.
Can she, this woman from misused words -
can she survive out there?
Does she desire such power?
When she sees me, dear friend
and fellow scholar of the dark,
does she understand
that my thoughts will consume her?
I hate my flawed skin,
the hair that grows on my face
and covers my lies.
She touches me like a pet -
cautious and careful with a hint
of cruelty.
I want to fall to my knees
and beg for her to not go away.
Don't leave me here among those who are blind.
You say you understand me, she says,
yet you haven't listened.
She wants to love and forget me
because she knows I share her blood.
I am real, I whisper to her.
Touch the wounds, taste my blood of yours,
let me cover you and give you refuge
in between it all.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Grim Dark Shakespeare

It's been some time since I last visited the realm of Warhammer 40K. Through the grim dark, I created a special "fondness" for the Eldar and the Dark Eldar. These two "races" take decadence and raise it several thousand levels - a blessing and very much a curse. However, in delving into The Masque of Vyle, a novella by Andy Chambers, I was "introduced" to the Harlequins. Mysterious and dangerous, they are the "thespians" that can bring you to your knees with their dramas . . or leave you completely insane and covered in gore seeping from your body. This story gives a nod to Shakespeare while giving what 40K fans come to expect from the Harlequins.

An abandoned and desecrated Craftword is discovered by a group of Harlequins within the webway and they take it upon themselves to discover who did it and why. To desecrate a Craftworld is akin to sacrilege to the Eldar. They soon find themselves within an area of the Dark Eldar known as the Sable Marches and decide to do what they do best - put on a performance. However, this performance also serves as a way to discover the truth behind the desecrated Craftworld with a price that must be paid in blood.

If you are not familiar with 40k and the Eldar, let me give you a brief rundown: the Eldar are just one race within the grim dark universe of 40K. They are beyond beautiful with an edge for killing, torture, and anything that pleases them beyond normal (and rational) understanding. Enhance that over a 1000 times and you have the Dark Eldar. However, it was due to their excesses that they involuntarily created a Chaos god - Slaanesh or She Who Thirsts. Because of their choices and the birth of Slaanesh, the Eldar and Dark Eldar keep themselves hidden from her; if she discovers them, she "welcomes them home", to put it mildly. If you want to learn more about the Eldar and Dark Eldar, I highly recommend this novella with its well written story, Shakespearian plot, and much action, decadence, and violence. I also recommend looking at the CODEX for the Eldar, Dark Eldar, and the Craftworlds as well - I own all three, of course. The Black Library is the website of all books within the 40K realm- go check it out to start your path down that dark road.


Thursday, July 19, 2018

Confessions of a Southern Taoist - Gratitude of Grief

I’m currently working through a 31 day meditation that focuses on gratitude. Gratitude for your body, your mind, emotions, everything. Today’s topic was on grief. The meditation instructor read a quote about how grief is love that is left over. We still love those whom we’ve lost, or a dream we wanted so badly to happen and it didn’t. I’ve lost family members, friends who took different directions, and dreams I once had that never happened. Yet, in looking at what we’ve lost, we are also reminded as to what we still have. I’m grateful for the friends who are still in my life, the dreams that continue to unfold, and the ability to embrace it all. 


Monday, July 16, 2018

Confessions of a Southern Taoist - Monday

Monday is usually Do Nothing Day for me - I come in from work, put on my jamy jams, eat dinner, then play video games/read/watch movies as a way to relax and enjoy some down time. However, this Monday was more of my usual working time - after my glorious trip to NOLA, I felt myself recharged and energized. While at my corporate job, I collaborated with several women regarding a book idea and spoke with a contact for another venue for my tea blends contacted me. I felt my anxiety wanting to creep up, so I delved into my work instead and it dissipated. When I got home, I immediately began cleaning my place while creating the price list for the contact. I'm currently working on a serial for my Facebook page The House of Byzantium - a shrine to Decadence - and I felt inspired to put the latest episode up. Now that it's 9:30, I feel wired and ready to run around my neighbourhood several times. Instead, I will continue listening to music (currently listening to Lacuna Coil). I guess what I'm trying to say is that - Monday. It's a day we don't like because its our low from the weekend. We want to run from it while screaming, "I HATE Mondays!" Yet, what if we treated it like a day? Just a day. We know that soon, Friday will be knocking on our door but for now, Monday is here. What are your Mondays like? Do you repeatedly hit the SNOOZE button on your clock? Do you drink an extra cup of coffee or "fake it till you make it"? Or, do you do like me and treat it like a day? I wake up, I breathe, I am here. No matter what happens, I am here. On a Monday.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Confessions of a Southern Taoist - Strength

I've just returned from a lovely trip to New Orleans. Although it was a quick overnighter, it was filled with moments of laughter, art, Nature, and good food. It was also a good time to spend with friends - there are several women that I call Sisters. Although we have different stories, we are of similar mindsets. To outsiders, we may seem as Odd or Strange/Unusual but to us, at least to me, I see nothing but strength. Strength can come in many forms - mental, physical, emotional, spiritual. These women that I am lucky to know exhibit all of these strengths. We don't have perfect lives - shit will blow up in our faces on a regular basis. We will do/say the wrong thing at the really wrong time. We may want to scream, shake our fists at the sky and wonder why WE are going through this. I've done that many times. I've had my moments of crying in a pillow when it feels like the world just fell apart at my feet. However, once the crying is over and I suddenly get hungry, I get up, dust myself off, and keep moving forward. It sounds easier than it is and YES, it is. Sometimes, the desire to stay down and give up feels right. Give up trying and just exist. Resist everything and stay down. Yet, whenever I'm around my NOLA Sisters, I get a recharge of my life. In fact, I talked to myself halfway through my return trip - remembering who said what at dinner last night, remembering to return to Anne Rice's vampires (I loved Pandora - one of my favourites of her works), and remembering who and WHAT I am and my place within all of THIS. We get strength from a smile from a stranger, or a kind word, or even when a friend calls you up and wants to hang out with you. Sometimes, strength can come from when you finally decide that enough is ENOUGH and that today, you are taking back your life. When you flow, you ARE.