Tea Time

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I’ve never been a part of the coffee culture. Oh I tried, I really did. Doesn’t every one else in America belong to that club? But I just couldn’t do it. I can’t stand the taste, no matter how much you tweak it. Whatever you do to it, I can still taste coffee. Put it this way, if I accidentally pop a coffee flavor jelly bean into my mouth, I’d promptly spit it out. See, I really do hate it.

Instead, let me tell you about tea. Now there’s a beverage for me. I love it hot, and I love it iced, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t even have to be summer for me to enjoy iced tea. To me, it’s a year round drink. And I simply can’t begin my day without a cup of hot tea at breakfast. When I drink hot tea, it must have a generous spoonful of raw sugar, but the iced tea must be plain with lemon optional. It’s the most refreshing of drinks.

Having tea in the morning is not just about quenching my thirst. It’s more like a warming experience. First, I cup the mug with both hands, and just breathe it in. It’s usually too hot to drink anyway, so I can take my time just warming my hands. Then when it finally cools a bit, it’s time to start sipping. Ahhhh. Because tea is sipped instead of gulped, it allows me to start my day in a calm and relaxed manner. Isn’t that the best way to begin?

Now iced tea is more of a refresher, or a thirst quencher. While I’m not sure when I learned to appreciate iced tea, I do remember that my grandmother always had a big glass of it sitting nearby. We would all sneak a sip, and because we were children, we found it bitter. But I just kept trying it, and at some point, I found I loved it too. I’m pretty sure my mom usually served sweet tea, which was a lot easier to love than the plain version. Somewhere along the line, I gave up the sweet tea for the real thing, and I never looked back.

Now I’m an iced tea aficionado. I’m always on the look out for a new version to enjoy. Should I use a few peach tea bags today? Would Earl Grey make a better iced tea? How about raspberry? I’ve also tend to judge restaurants on their ability to make a great glass of iced tea. If they try to serve me a glass of old, stale tea made several days ago, back it goes!

So you can all have your coffee. Jazz it up all you want, it doesn’t make it taste any better. I’ll keep drinking my tea, morning, noon and night, all year round. Give it a try, you might find out how much better it is than your coffee!

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Hurry Up, Slow Down

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This world we live in is always in a hurry. As a matter of fact, if you aren’t in a hurry, people just assume you are not living right. You mean you don’t need to rush off to the next task? What is wrong with you? Well, it just so happens that I am learning to slow down. It hasn’t always been so, but I’m trying. Let’s just call me a reformed hurry-er.

I attended a spiritual retreat over the weekend. Even the word retreat means to remove yourself from the world, to slow down, to take a deep breath. Here I was in a room full of women who took time out from their busy lives to practice some introspection, and still there were many who could not stop their hurry-up lives. Maybe a one night getaway was just not enough. Perhaps it was simply the retreat coordinators that found it so difficult to slow down while so much preparation was still needed, but there were many, trust me. It made me sad.

If you spend your life in fast forward, going from one task to the next, you might just miss the simple pleasures. Can you sit down for tea with a friend, and just talk? Can you take a moment to simply stare out the window at God’s beauty while taking slow, deep breaths? Will you stop to see the butterfly hovering over a flower? Do you see the way the birds float on the breeze over head? And when was the last time you did stop to smell the proverbial or real rose?

Even the busiest life has a few moments of quiet now and then, if you know where to look for them. Have a long commute? Well, go a different way today and see where it takes you. Waiting at the dentist? Stand and look out the window while you wait, count the people hurrying by while you breathe deeply. Appointment cancelled? Take a stroll, down the hall or around the block. Kids in bed early? Take a moment to just be before you start the next task. Not sure what task to tackle next? You could even pray or meditate briefly before you begin.

So hurry up and slow down. You might be surprised to find out that life doesn’t have to always be in a rush.

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Finding Focus

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While I have many hobbies that I enjoy, and a busy social life full of friends and family, I realized that I need a focus for my life. I’ve recently retired, but at a much younger age than most, leaving me thinking about what else I could be doing. After all, this blog is called Now What for a reason. I do get tired of telling people that I am never bored, and keep busy with various activities. But the other day, I suddenly realized what I had always wanted to do. It’s time to tackle the Master Gardener training!

That’s just the ticket for me, now isn’t it? All of my current gardening knowledge is entirely self taught. Just think how much better it can be if I get some official training. I’m really excited about the whole thing. Technically, it’s a volunteer activity, because Master Gardeners must use their knowledge in the community. And as I had been thinking about what kind of volunteer activity I might enjoy, this will be a perfect fit. How interesting it will be to start another chapter in my life!

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In Mourning for Snow Days

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Don’t you wish we could still have snow days like we did when we were kids? Before you go to bed, you peer out the window, watching the snow come down, and begin to hope. “Please let there be a snow day, please!” Your boss would call you early the next day, and tell you to just stay home because the roads were too bad. Sweet! So you peek outside at the winter wonderland, then snuggle back into the covers for another few hours of sleep. Ahhhh.

Finally you get out of bed, turn on cartoons, and pour yourself a huge bowl of sugary cereal. Just when you’ve reached a sugar high, it’s time to put on your clothes and bundle up. Let’s go play in the snow. Now I know the neighbors might gawk at you at your age, but who cares. It’s an adult snow day! Flop yourself down in the driveway and make a snow angel first, then maybe twirl around catching the flakes on your tongue. Now what? Well, we have to build a snowman, right? And should we throw snowballs at the neighbors? Of course we should.

But what I really want to do is make a snow fort. They are perfect for hiding behind while throwing the aforementioned snowballs. No one will know who even threw it! And is there a hill near your house where you can sled? Do you even have a sled anymore?

Pretty soon you are starting to shake from the cold. Time for some hot chocolate, with lots of marshmallows. Maybe you can have a bowl of hot soup for lunch? Either way, it’s time to hunker down and get warm, while your snow clothes are spread all over the house to dry.

You say your boss didn’t call you this morning for a snow day? Too bad. It would have been awesome. Just drive carefully. And dream about the joys of those snow days gone by.

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On Frozen Pond

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It’s been such a cold, cold week. I have to admit that I’m hibernating a bit. Next week, it’s supposed to be a lot warmer, and I’m looking forward to that. But in the meantime, I have to just bear the cold with hot drinks, blankets, and thick sweaters. Today I swore I wouldn’t even set foot out into the cold. But there was one thing that forced me out, the sunset. Really! I am addicted to sunsets. I’m always drawn to see the end of the day. In winter, the sun sets just so over the pond down the road. I can’t resist seeing it! Bitter cold it may be, but off I went.

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It was totally worth the frozen fingers.

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The Problems With Winter

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I know, I know. It was only a few weeks ago when I decided that I could enjoy winter a little bit. I’m over it. Turns out, it was the beauty of a fresh snowfall that I liked. Now that the snow is all gone, and it’s bitter cold, I’m back to my general dislike of winter. It’s just too darned cold! Today was especially frigid, as the temperature never even got into the teens. Brrrrr!

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Now winter has other problems too. It gets dark too early. It’s drab outside. And it’s too cold, did I say that one already? I did, didn’t I? Well, it’s the number one problem with winter. So I had to say it twice.

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But summer has no such problems. It’s warm, it’s sunny, it’s pleasant, and full of flowers. Now that’s a season I can get on board with. But all of these pros and cons are not bringing summer back to me. I’ll just have to wait it out. Till then, I’ll just visit summer in the only way I can. If I look at enough summer photos, I can almost feel the warmth.

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Sing

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Do you like to sing? Don’t bother to ask me that silly question, because everyone knows my answer. Heck yeah! I’ve always loved to sing. When I was four years old, the congregation of my grandfather’s church would send him a note during the service, asking if I would sing. Of course I was all too happy to oblige with my favorite tune, Must Be the Devil and His Old Suitcase. I continued to sing at church until my teens, when embarrassment set in and put a long term halt to my singing.

There were many times over the years when I wished that I had continued to sing, even though I was never quite sure what was keeping me from it. So I sang out in the car, or during church, or when ever else I just felt like singing. Like so many of us, I think car singing is my favorite. Don’t we all have our best voices on while driving?

Many years passed, and we moved away to a new town in a new state. Here was my chance to start fresh. The decision was made to join the choir at my new church just as soon as I settled in. I would put aside my fears, and just do it! Well, it’s been 8 years, and I’m now singing in three different groups. I told you I love to sing! It just plain makes me happy.

Last night we went with a group of friends to see a band play at a local pub. Their music was classic rock, a genre that most people in my generation know well. How can you not sing along? I could see the rest of the patrons sitting quietly at their tables, drinking and swaying along politely to the music. As for me and my table full of musician friends? Well, we sang along, and loudly. Isn’t that how classic rock should be enjoyed?

Next time the urge to sing comes along, just do it. It’s pure joy!

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Organized

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I’ve come to the realization this week, that the behaviors that my husband and I follow are not quite the same as the rest of the world. Really? You mean you don’t have a plan like we do? No? Well, turns out what we call life, everyone else calls organized. Who knew? My friend said we deserve each other.

The funny thing is, those of us with organized lives are often thought of as nerds or dorks. So be it. I’ll wear the mantle of organization proudly, why the rest of you are over there fumbling through your lives. You see, I know just where to find those color coordinated items for my outfit. I have the required items ready to make that pot of soup for dinner. I can lay my hands on the receipt I need to make a return. If a friend drops by, I don’t have to scramble to make the house presentable. And I could even whip up a guest friendly meal from my pantry if it was required. It surely makes my life less stressful this way.

Now it certainly doesn’t mean that there are no hot spots in the house. I promise you that the laundry often sits on my dresser for days before it gets put away. My mail basket doesn’t get emptied nearly often enough. And it can take me month upon month to complete the ironing stacked up! Luckily those areas are fairly unusual.

What is more likely to happen in an organized household is The Great Shopping Trip. One of the local grocery stores has a promotion where you can get a discount on groceries by your continued purchases at their gas station. The discount gets as high as 20%, then it’s time to use it or lose it. We go through our supplies, make a long list, gather our coupons, and off we go. What a production! You should see us with our coupon wallet in hand, comparing prices, stocking up on items, and watching our savings add up. What fun!

Okay, I guess you are right. Perhaps we are dorks. Our idea of fun on a Friday night is a big outing to the grocery store. But I bet you didn’t save over a hundred dollars last time you took a big shopping trip. So there! I told you we wear the mantle proudly. Now excuse me, I have a weekly menu to plan.

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Sun Streams

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It’s a quiet winter morning. The snow is melted, but it’s cold, cold, cold. But I’m cozy here in the house with the sun streaming in the windows. When we first saw this house, it was a sunny day, and the first thing I noticed was the sun streaming in the south facing windows. “Perfect for my plants” I thought. And I was right. Image

There is even enough sun in the winter to keep a few flowering plants blooming on my window sill. Back in June, my dearest little grandson painted a flower pot for me and mommy planted a flower in it. It hasn’t yet stopped blooming, not once. I’ve given it a little fertilizer here and there for a boost, and it never fails to bring a smile. Petunias in winter? Why yes! If anything can keep my gardener’s heart going through winter, it’s a sight like this. Sun streams in my window all winter long, and warms my heart and soul.

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Still Wondering…

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I started this blog to help me figure out the next step in my life, and to practice writing. But I realized that I hadn’t been doing much in the way of introspection. I’ve been off work for several weeks now, and filling my life with domesticity. But without small children about, the work load is light. I’ve been planning and scheming about my garden, but implementation is a long way off yet. Do you think it’s possible that I really should think about another job for the future?

Excuse me while I think out loud here. First of all, our finances will allow me to continue at home if I so wish. So let’s take that out of the equation. What else would be gained by another job? Well, interaction with others would be a real plus. But do I have to be in a paid position for that? I have plenty of friends and activities, especially at our church. Self worth? Maybe. I do find myself explaining what I’m doing at home, as if I should have some type of worthy cause. Even though I do enjoy my hobbies, others may not find them as a valuable activity. And should that even matter to me?

It all comes down to the amount of training I would need to get another job. You see, I’ve hurt my knee, and it won’t actually get much better than it is. So that puts all of those unskilled standing jobs out of my reach. My college degree in accounting is so old as to be practically worthless. I’d have to go back and completely retrain myself, and I never even liked accounting! I’ve looked at various office jobs, and I simply don’t have the skill set. And do I even want to acquire those skills?

I guess I’ll continue to think it through. I’ve always liked the domestic arts, and I’ve always been quite good at them. Is that so bad? There are many that envy me these days. I’m just not sure it’s enough. The story continues….

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