Someone, Someday, Sunday!

“We are not wise, and not very often kind.
And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left.”
Mary Oliver.

Have you ever said –

“Someone should do something about that.” Yes, but who?

“Well, someday of course.” But when?

Sunday. Today’s the day.

In fact, every day is the day to right that wrong, help somebody in need, stand up and be counted.

I have been thinking about those things that this week I should have stood up for, could have stood up for and did stand up for.

First, I did nothing when I saw a man ill-treating his dog. I should have called out to him, but I didn’t. Oh yes, he was probably twice my size. Tall, well over 6 ft and heavy. If I had to guess I would say well over 230 lbs. So I just turned and walked away. I hope somebody stronger than me called him out on it.

Then, I should have reported a well-dressed middle-aged woman who silently pocketed a tube of hand cream in the supermarket She didn’t look to be homeless and in need of food for her family, she just wanted the hand cream I could have spoken to a member of staff and quietly walked away. But I didn’t.

And then I did help the old lady when she slipped off the pavement trailing her shopping trolley with her. After helping her to her feet, I then picked up the grocery shopping. Oh, a schoolboy helped and another checked whether she needed or wanted an ambulance. Those two boys in their readily identifiable school uniforms not only got a big thank you from the elderly lady (no the other one, not me) but I made a point of calling the school to report the kindness. All too often these days we hear complaints about the young and these were two who acted as we would like to think they all would.

And Sunday. Nothing much to say about today. A lovely warm winter’s day. The sun is shining. I had coffee this morning with my daughter and No. 4 Grandson. He had come home to help his Granma. On the advice of a physiotherapist, I purchased a stepper to help my balance. However, once Grandson No 3 (who was home last weekend) had helped his mother assemble the contraption, we all agreed that I was not going to be able to use it. So it had to be returned and Grandson No 3 was here today to dismantle it and pack it to send back.

So, from a quiet Sunday here in Wellington, that’s all I have to say. Except (and yes there is always an except) my family are all in agreement that I m not allowed to buy anything on the internet without discussing it with them first. What’s a woman to do!

“You can have the other words-chance, luck, coincidence, serendipity.
I’ll take grace. I don’t know what it is exactly, but I’ll take it.”
Mary Oliver

JB May 29, 2022

Five things I learned this week

As mentioned previously this was the week that Moonwatcher51 came to visit for a few days. My intrepid friend, the Road Warrior as I call her, is a traveller. The original ’a rolling stone gathers no moss’ idea.

And she does it alone, accompanied by her trusty companion Rizzo, who is about the most perfect dog I have ever met. Quiet, pleasant minded. I guess that description applies to both of them. Laid back and at the same time accomplishing amazing things.

Okay so what did I learn?

  • When your Keurig dies the day she is to arrive, it is possible to make a passable cup of coffee with fine grind in a French Press. (I wasn’t sure of the amount of coffee to water, but if it was a problem, my guest was too polite to say so.
  • Even when it has been years since last visits (another friend who had been part of the old gang came for lunch on Tuesday) it was like no time had passed at all. We sat and laughed now as then and the hours flew.
  • I am bossy. Living alone I didn’t realize until I thought about it later, and no she would never mention it but a couple of times I thought – Chris you are being bossy. I mean I didn’t tell her what to do – but it was small responses. I’m not sure she noticed being so laid back but I did. Oh, and I didn’t do it a lot, just a couple of times I think. Honest. Maybe the word is not bossy but fussy.
  • I found the idea of a canine roomie rather attractive. But I also realized I might not end up with the perfection that is Miss Rizzo.
  • Even though it was only 3 nights and four days when that guest leaves her absence is noticed. And she is missed. Oh sorry Rizzo – they are missed.

MW51 lives in Mexico, a stone’s throw from the beach, during the Canadian winters, where she has beautiful home and this year put in a swimming pool.

When she is home to Manitoba by April she gets ready to travel our highways and byways, usually by camper van, heading to the west coast one summer, then the east coast the next, stopping along the way to visit friends and family. I am in the east coast corridor. She was on her way back from Nova Scotia, when she landed here Monday. Thursday morning she and Rizzo were back on the road and headed to Manitoba.

Back in 2015 I wrote the words below for her. We are Gemini and our birthdays are 2 days apart. -June 6th and 8th. And while this is not where I planned this post to go – it does seem fitting.

This modern term for Best Friends Forever is not one of my favorites. First of all it is so commonly used one gets a little weary from hearing it so much. Secondly it smacks a bit of desperation as though the declaration itself will make it true.  At least that is how it seems.  I must concede though that it is said to denote sincerity and a promise – sincere declaration.

In days gone by the term best friend, dear friend, soul mate, may have been used.

OBSERVATIONS

*Someone may be your best friend, but you may not be theirs and that is okay.  Unlike some commitments there is no reciprocation necessary.

*You can have more than one best friend I think which decries the use of the word best, but there it is.  In that case I guess the term would be ‘one of my best friends’.

*A best friend is someone you respect.

*A best friend is someone who can see the worst of you knows your darkest side and still love you and accept you.

*A best friend supports you even when you make stupid decisions.

*A best friend comforts you when the consequences of said stupid decision comes to roost and never, well almost never, says ‘I told you so”

*Distance has no effect on best friend status.  The world is a much smaller place now and thanks to Skype and other media contact is not far away.

*Long periods of time can pass but when the connection is made it is as if no time has passed at all.

When I met my best friend eighteen years ago ** now 25 years ago*we had engaged initially in a social conversation.  During that conversation I clearly heard the words in my mind; I want this girl in my life.  And she has been.  She travels the world. I do not.  She has a gypsy nature, I do not.  She is adventurous, I am not.  Lest this seem like a lot of ‘nots’, it is in truth of little consequence.  She is more thoughtful than I, and stronger and kinder. Perhaps that is our link.  She is the better person I strive to be.

I have no idea what makes a soul connection exist.  It just does.  It cannot be made or constructed, or planned.  It is something that exists or it does not.  Gender has no influence.  It is beyond our ken and a gift, that if we accept it, it can only enrich our existence regardless of extraneous factors.

One of our walks with Miss Rizzo
A sunset walk. A Mexican Beach.

I am always amazed at the friends I have who really seem to like me. As I am. And right or wrong I can depend on them. As they can on me.

Huh.

That’s it from North of 43 and I wish you peace.

Chris G May 27th ’22

WELL, THANK GOODNESS FOR THAT.

“Our brains don’t remember everything,
but maybe what they remember is enough.”
Judith Baxter, Blogger and friend.

Do you occasionally –

Forget the names of friends or even family members
Can’t remember where you put something
Go into a room and forget why you were going there
Spend time searching for your glasses or car keys?

Unfortunately, this happens to me and many of my friends. And if you answer yes then according to Professor Bruno Dubois, Director of the Institute of Memory and Alzheimer’s Disease (IMMA) at La Pitié-Salpêtrière – Paris Hospitals, then what you are suffering from is “Anosognosia” or temporary forgetfulness.

According to the Professor, it often happens to people 60 years and older who complain that they are losing their memory. “The information is always in the brain, it is the “processor” that is lacking.”

Furthermore, he says, “If anyone is aware of their memory problems, they do not have Alzheimer’s.” Phew, that is good news!!

And according to the good professor,

“After 60 years most people have such a difficulty, which indicates that it is not a disease but rather a characteristic due to the passage of years.
Many people are concerned about these oversights hence the importance of the following statements:

1.”Those who are conscious of being forgetful have no serious problem with memory.”
2.”Those who suffer from a memory illness or Alzheimer’s, are not aware of what is happening.””

His final words to us all (or those like me who are lucky enough to be over 60) –

“The more we complain about memory loss, the less likely we are to suffer from memory sickness.”

And Winnie the Pooh says
“If people are upset because you’ve forgotten something,
console them by letting them know you didn’t forget,
you just weren’t remembering.”

And Audrey Hepburn says
“I heard a definition once: Happiness is health and a short memory!

I wish I’d invented it because it is very true.” 

That’s it from a grey almost winter’s day here in New Zealand.

JB May 27, 2022

Making noise

2 big noise events have taken up residence in my brain lately.

The first is about the noise that accompanied Canada’s derecho. The information below are excerpts from the CBC report.

What’s a derecho and why is it so destructive? The science behind this powerful storm

Canada’s last derecho was in 1999, but climate change is shifting conditions

An ominous wall of wind and rain

A derecho, pronounced deh-RAY-cho, is a long-lived, fast-moving thunderstorm that causes widespread wind damage. This particular storm system was fed by a heat dome over the eastern United States. 

According to Sills, the system formed south of Chicago on Saturday morning, then crossed the border into the Windsor area, where it started to cause damage. 

By the time it arrived in Kitchener, Sills said the thunderstorm was producing gusts of up to 132 km/h. 

Unlike the rotating winds in a hurricane or a tornado, a derecho’s winds are straight. That doesn’t mean it’s any less damaging; its winds can topple trees and lift up roofs. Another feature of a derecho is that unlike the slow building of a supercell thunderstorm, the business end of a derecho is at the front. 

That’s why when you witness a derecho, Stills said, it often looks like an ominous wall of wind and rain. 

“When it hits, usually the worst of it is within a couple minutes of it hitting,” he said. 

Making that destructive wall of wind even worse, is that it can sometimes produce tornadoes as well.

“Really, it’s just a spectrum of wind that affects a long area,” Sills said. 

So far, field crews with the Northern Tornadoes Project have identified at least one EF2 tornado, which hit Uxbridge, Ont., with wind speeds of up to 195 km/h.

The last string of derechos that hit Canada were in the 1990s, including one in 1999. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, that storm cut a path through Thunder Bay and sparsely populated areas of northern Ontario before crossing into Quebec, where it killed one person, toppled trees, damaged buildings and overturned boats in the Montreal area.

“It is the widespread nature of a derecho that can really cause havoc in a city,” Sills said. 

What made Saturday’s storm especially unlucky was that several urban centres were directly in its path.

“This was an unusual event because it affected the most populated part of Canada,” Kimbell said.

Still, the storm left a path of destruction in its wake, killing 10 people and leaving roughly 900,000 homes and businesses without power in Ontario and Quebec at its peak. It continued all the way to Maine, where there were also reports of damages.

Climate change could bring more derechos

Pinning down whether or not the rare event could be linked to climate change is difficult. Because derechos are so infrequent in Canada, Sills said it’s impossible to say whether they’re increasing or not. 

But, he said, the ingredients necessary to form a derecho “may come together more often” as a result of the effects of climate change.

A derecho happens when there’s a lot of heat and moisture available and they are often tied to heat domes. Sills said climate projections point to a warmer atmosphere that will creep northward, which means this is the kind of storm Canadians can expect to see more of in the future. 

There is always something to learn from extreme weather events, Sills said, and a key takeaway for him after this storm is that computer modelling needs to catch up.

“There wasn’t much in the way of any indication in the models of this big derecho coming through,” he said.

“The computer models we rely on to give us a heads up for these types of events, they’ve got a long way to go.”

©2022 CBC/Radio-Canada. All rights reserved.

THEN THERE IS THE NEXT BIG NOISE

A horrendous massacre in Uvalde Texas, a small town this Canadian lived in twenty-seven years ago for a bit. Tragedy, blood, shame.

And what is the big noise of this? All the bleeping indignation from everyone from the President on down.

THINGS MUST CHANGE they all cry. My response? STOP THE BLEEPING INDIGNATION and talking about what should be done.

JUST DO IT. DO IT. STOP THE TALK. TALK IS CHEAP. STOP THE INDIGNATION. JUST STOP WITH THE WORDS. TAKE ACTION. NOW.

That cry – that plea applies to more than the USA. It applies to my country whose sad response to everything has become ’WE WILL CONSIDER,…WE MIGHT,…disgusting way for leaders anywhere to behave.

So sadly that is about all I have to say from North of 43 tonight. Tomorrow will be a brighter day here, but sadly nothing will be done about ALL THE NOISE

Chris G May 25th ’22

The Diamond Eye

How often do you come across a book that you can really say is ‘unputdownable’?  OK, so that’s not a word, but you know what I mean.

Sunday, things to do, housework, memory writing for Monday’s meeting and of course, a host of other things. After I spoke to the other half of this duo for the usual 60/90 minutes weekly chat, I sat down with a fresh cup of tea and a book which my daughter gave me. 

“Gentlemen,” she said, “I am 25 years old and I have killed 309 fascist
occupants by now. Don’t you think, gentlemen,
that you have been hiding behind my back for too long?”
Mila Pavlichenko in Chicago, 1942

Do you know the author, Kate Quinn?  She writes historical novels, and I am constantly amazed at both her writing and her meticulous research.  She writes mainly about the Second World War and her first book in the series was The Alice Network.  I wrote about this book on one of my other blogs in October 2019.  Here is the link if you would like to read it.

This was followed by The Huntress with its take from a Russian viewpoint.  Nina Markova always dreamed of flying. When the Nazis attack the Soviet Union, she risks everything to join the legendary Night Witches, an all-female night bomber regiment wreaking havoc on the invading Germans.   The Night Witches is a moniker for the 588th Night Bomber Regiment consisting of all female members. “The Huntress” is a notorious Nazi war criminal who is said to have taken on a new identity living in the USA. More fascinating reading.

Third was The Rose Code.   A mystery set in WW2 and the famous code-breaking site of Bletchley Park, focusing on the close friendship between three extraordinary young women from hugely different backgrounds, determined to more than do their bit to fight the enemy. Wealthy heiress and debutante Osla Kendall has returned from Canada, and as a fluent German speaker, she translates the codes.  She catches the eye of Prince Philip and falls head over heels for him. The flinty, hard as nails, impoverished East End Londoner, the tall Mab Churt, aka Queen Mab, keeps the machines that help break the codes working.  She is set on improving herself, reading the 100 top literary reads to ensnare herself a wealthy husband and provide for her younger sister, Lucy. The downtrodden, shy and timid Beth Finch has a hideous and emotionally abusive mother who has her believing she is good for nothing, but she turns out to be the star code-breaker working for Dilly Knox who believes in her.

And my Sunday Book – Diamond Eye.  I loved The Alice Network and thought about it and the horrors it related for many months.  I couldn’t stop talking about the next two books, but I was stopped in my tracks by “Diamond Eye”.  I read for eight hours with only occasional bathroom and coffee/tea breaks.

“Now I am looked upon a little as a curiosity,” she said,
“a subject for newspaper headlines, for anecdotes.
In the Soviet Union, I am looked upon as a citizen,
as a fighter, as a soldier for my country.”

Mila Pavlichenko AKA Lady Death was married at fifteen to a talented but much older surgeon, who verbally abused her and belittled her at every opportunity. But she did have a beautiful son from the marriage.  She worked in the Odessa library while working on her dissertation for her PhD in History. During this time, Mila enrolled in a course for marksmanship instruction and was able to secure a certificate for her undeniable skills as an accomplished marksman and sniper.

In this book, we follow her through her life, first as a trainee sniper, through the horrors of war and eventually to becoming a national hero.  Her official tally was 309 but who knows how many Germans she actually killed. 

In 1942 she arrived in the United States as part of a goodwill mission to encourage the US to get into the war and support the Russians. She met and started a lifelong friendship with The First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt.

I am about to write a fuller review on this amazing book.  So as we say, watch this space.

JB May 25, 2022

 .

Good grief I had so much to tell you but it has been overshadowed..

Let me pour a glass of white wine before I start.

Okay. I was going to talk about best laid plans and all that. I had mentioned that Moonwatcher51 was coming to visit for a few days. And how we had been friends for 25 years etc etc. (If this was Grace and Frankie I would be Frankie and she would be probably too.)

So this is Monday at North of 43 and this past Saturday our province was hit with a huge storm. The kind that killed nine people. You already know Canada has a panorama of weather possibilities and very vibrant seasons. But this event was quite foreign to us.

Thestar.com
Thestar.com

Lots of damage, the least of which was loss of electricity. Now here is the southwest of Ontario our power went out but was restored pretty quickly. For me it was but a flicker but longer for rural areas.

Here, today, my schedules and planning skills went for nought on a much minor scale. First the coffee maker died – oh and it’s a holiday and stores not open. I spent way too many hours working on the blessed thing (not really my word of choice), and finally gave up and pulled out my kettle. Hot water filtered through paper towel and ground coffee it is. Tried the grounds in my French Press but it is too fine a grind.

Then the toilet plugged. (the loo in more polite terms). I did have a plunger that I bought at the dollar store sometime ago. Word of advice *NEVER BUY A PLUNGER AT THE DOLLAR STORE. That thing folded like tissue paper in the water. It plunged nothing.

I spent way too much time filling a bucket with hot water and pouring it into said porcelain throne to no avail. Finally called a friend, borrowed hers and voila – in seconds the problem is fixed.

Okay back to Moonwatcher51, that intrepid Road Warrior. Nothing stops that girl. Oh except no gas. She is ready to make the five hour trip from the Ottawa area here, except, NO POWER MEANS NO GAS FOR HER CAR.

She is trying to find how far she has to drive to find gas to drive here.(400-500 Km).

Stay tuned. The toilet works, her bed is freshly made up, and there is coffee after a fashion. And the wine supply may dwindle but there will be enough.

Just got a message! She has passed Kingston. About four hours away! Wow!

So from North of 43 enjoy your day. Must run out to corner store for cream!

Chris G May 23rd, 22

When I am old.

I have warned you in the past how I shall be when I am old.

I will most definitely be outrageous, difficult and undignified but not until I am old.

“I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.”

(From ‘Warning’ by Jenny Joseph, English Author and Poet.1932-2018)

Cross Old Woman

Imagine my surprise, therefore, when I looked in the mirror and saw this Old Woman looking out at me.   I just had to share this other poem with you.  I don’t know who wrote it or where it’s from but it just says how I felt earlier today.

A very weird thing has happened.
I have no idea who she is, where she came from, or how she got in.
I certainly didn’t invite her
All I know is that one day she wasn’t here and the next day she was.
She’s very clever. She manages to keep out of sight for the most part;
but whenever I pass a mirror, I catch a glimpse of her there;
and when I look into a mirror directly to check
my appearance, suddenly she’s hogging the whole thing,
completely obliterating my gorgeous face and body.
It’s very disconcerting.
I’ve tried screaming at her to leave but she just screams back, grimacing horribly.
She’s really rather frightening.
If she’s going to hang around, the least she could do is offer to pay rent.
But no. Every once in a while I do find a couple of dollar bills on the kitchen counter,
or some loose change on my bureau or on the floor, but that certainly isn’t enough
In fact, though I don’t like to jump to conclusions, I think she steals
money from me regularly. I go to the ATM and withdraw a hundred dollars, and a few days later, it’s gone.
I certainly don’t go through it that fast, so I can only conclude that
the old lady pilfers it.

You’d think she’d spend some of it on wrinkle cream.
God knows, she needs it.
And the money isn’t the only thing she’s taking.
Food seems to disappear at an alarming rate.
Especially the good stuff–ice cream, cookies, candy–
I just can’t keep them in the house. She really has a sweet tooth.
She should watch it; she’s really putting on the pounds.
I think she realizes that, and to make herself feel better,
I know she is tampering with my scale so I’ll think that I’m gaining weight, too.
For an old lady, she’s really quite childish.
She also gets into my closets when I’m not home and alters all my clothes. They’re getting tighter and tighter every day.

Another thing:
I wish she’d stop messing with my files and the papers on my desk. I can’t find a thing any more. This is particularly hard to deal with because I’m extremely neat and organized, but she manages to jumble everything up so nothing is where it’s supposed to be.

Furthermore, when I program my VCR to tape something important, she fiddles with it after I leave the room so it records the wrong channel or shuts off completely.
She finds innumerable, imaginative ways to irritate me.
She gets to my newspapers, magazines, and mail before me– and blurs all the print;
and she’s done something sinister with the volume controls on my TV, radio, and phone. Now all I hear are mumbles and whispers.

She’s also made my stairs steeper, my vacuum cleaner heavier, all my knobs and faucets hard to turn, and my bed higher and it’s a real challenge to climb into and out of.
Furthermore, she gets to my groceries as soon as I shelve them and applies super glue to the tops of every jar and bottle so they’re just about impossible to open.
Is this any way to repay my hospitality?

I don’t even get any respite at night.
More than once, her snoring has awakened me.
I don’t know why she can’t do something about that. It’s very unattractive.

As if all this isn’t bad enough, she is no longer confining her malevolence to the house. She’s now found a way to sneak into my car with me and follows me wherever I go.
I see her reflection in store windows as I pass. and she’s taken all the fun out of clothes shopping, because her penchant for monopolizing mirrors has extended to dressing rooms.
When I try something on, she dons and identical outfit- which looks ridiculous on her– and then stands directly in front of me so I can’t see how great it looks on me!

I thought she couldn’t get any meaner than that, but yesterday she proved me wrong. She had the nerve to come with me when I went to have some passport pictures taken, and actually stepped in front of the camera just as the shutter clicked.
Disaster! I have never seen such a horrible picture.
How can I go abroad now? No customs official is ever going to believe that crone scowling from my passport is me.

She’s walking on very thin ice.
If she keeps this up, I swear, I’ll put her in a home.
On second thought, I shouldn’t be too hasty.
First, I think I’ll check with the IRD and see if
I can claim her as a dependent.

Note – I was acting on the misunderstanding that this piece was anonymous and therefore could be republished. Thanks to a reader, this misunderstanding was pointed out to me and I am happy to give the credit to Rose M Mula. i have written to Ms Mula apologising for my mistake.

Granny on computer

(sigh….. bet that strange old lady is on “her” puter too!) What’s a body to do??????

JB May 23, 2022

Saddest jobs and first lines

I had a thought earlier I wanted to share with you tonight. A thought that crossed my mind and made me sit up and take notice.

Surprisingly it was that scientists studying the universe possibly have one of the least rewarding jobs.

As a nurse of 5 decades or so, I often thought of those who could for instance work with sick children and the pain and loss that would entail at times. The same with any of the specialty fields I guess. Then I came to realize the hardest place to work would be Long Term Care, because there is only one way any of those folk would leave, and given the age and fragility of them, the staff would find themselves in a constant low grade grieving. Does that make sense?

Then I was reading on my news feed something about spectacular new things and new questions arising about our universe, made possible by advancing equipment (in part) such as James Webb Space Telescope. And it dawned on me that scientists may actually feel sadness in their professions, I mean, everything starts with an hypothesis of some sort or another. Only time and scientific advances prove or disprove their theories. And it won’t happen in their lifetime. Where is the reward? And I assume every theory is countered by some opposing theory? Any way, it struck me odd and perhaps a little sad. So my question is the same as above – does that make sense?

On the upbeat, tonight when JB and I had our FaceTime she was quite excited about her writing- having done a different approach to her story. And it is gripping. An exciting beginning.

That turned our discussion to great first lines in literature. Below is a bit of an excerpt from a BridgesBurning blog 11 years ago.

One of my addictions from about twenty odd years ago is Dean Koontz. The book tonight is a fav and it was published way back in ’88 called Lightning.
This book not for it’s first line but for the gripping tale he tells. Good suspense although the first line is pretty good.

I mention first lines because I am a sucker for them. Charles Dickens, my absolute hero was best at it. Who could forget the first line in …A Tale of Two Cities….”It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch …”

Of course that story also had the most memorable last line also…”It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a …”

But for me and Mr. Koontz possibly, the best first line was in a book called Winter Moon and the line is… “Death was driving an emerald green Lexus.”

In my dreams that’s the way I want to start a book. With a line so gripping you have no choice but to dive in filled with excitement and anticipation. (Anticipation is another addiction). sigh…soon I will have no secrets from you!

Oh and just for your information I do tend to fall for any good line – but that would be another blog!

Any favorite line out there you would like to share?

So those are the airy thoughts from North of 43 on this spring night.

Chris G May 21, ’22

International Tea Day

Did you know May 21 is marked as International Tea Day. No, neither did I, but who better to write about tea than an English woman!

Tea! thou soft, thou sober, sage, and venerable liquid,…
thou female tongue-running, smile-smoothing, heart-opening,
wind-tippling cordial, to whose glorious insipidity I owe
the happiest moment of my life, let me fall prostrate.”
~Colley Cibber, 1671  1757) English actor-manager, playwright

and Poet Laureate.

Do you drink tea – how do you take it? I have mine black with no milk or sugar/

“The UK Tea & Infusions Association (UKTIA) says 84% of the UK population drinks tea every day, so there’s no doubt the nation loves it – with milk too, apparently. UKTIA say around 100 million cups of tea are consumed daily, and roughly 98% of those brews are served with milk”.

And according to the BBC, (The authority(?) on all things British) we Brits have been drinking tea for over 350 years, but the drink has been around a lot longer, and its origins are far from the British Isles. Legend has it that in 2737BC, Chinese Emperor and renowned herbalist Shen Nung was sitting under a tree while his servant was boiling drinking water. Chinese mythology states that a leaf from a Camellia sinensis, or tea plant, fell into the water and Shen Nung decided to taste the concoction. And so, tea was born.

Tea was introduced to Britain in the 1650s when Dutch traders started bringing it to Europe in large quantities. Originally, it was served as a novelty in London’s coffee houses. Tea was a rare drink that very few consumed.

In the early years, tea was hugely expensive, heavily taxed and confined to the wealthy, who generally drank it without milk and saw it as one of the marks of gentility. And it was kept in locked tea boxes to stop the servants from stealing it. But by the end of the century, after import duties were radically reduced, tea (now milky ‘and heavily sweetened) had replaced beer as the staple drink of the poor.

  • The first known record of tea being imported into England was the charter granted by Elizabeth I to The East India Company.
  • The first merchant to sell tea was Thomas Garway who offered it in both a dry and liquid form at his coffeehouse in Exchange Alley in London. The coffee houses proved very popular and by 1700 there were more than 500 in London.  By the middle of the 18th century, tea replaced ale and gin as the nation’s drink.
  • As with most customs in England, when having tea became an accepted practice of the Royals, it then spread down to the working classes.
  • The diarist, Samuel Pepys wrote about his first tea experience in 1660 with the entry “and afterwards I did send for a cup of tee (a China drink) of which I had never drank before and went away”. We don’t know if he was a fan of this new drink but he does have the honour of being the first recorded Briton to drink something which is now quintessentially British.

And from Lu Tong,  790–835  Chinese poet of Tang Dynasty known for his lifelong study of the “Tea Culture“.

The first cup caresses my dry lips and throat,
The second shatters the walls of my loneliness,
The third explores the dry rivulets of my soul.
Searching for legends of five thousand scrolls.
With the fourth, the pain of past injustice vanishes
through my pores.
The fifth purifies my flesh and bone.
With the sixth, I commune with the immortals.
The seventh conveys such pleasure I am overcome.
The fresh wind blows through my wings
As I make my way to Penglai.

LU TONG, Thanks to Imperial Censor Meng for His Gift
of Freshly Picked Tea!

And so, on International Tea Day, I ask you – Ho do you take your tea?

JB May 21, 2022

It’s only Thursday but a special weekend approaches


Well it is a kind of lolling around weekend here in Canada.  The neighbourhood is quiet and most folk who have not headed out to cottages or camping are puttering at this and that. Much improved over the last couple of years – post covid and all that.

May 24 to the young adults means 24 (the number of bottles of beer in a case, that is packed up for a trip, with sleeping bags, snacks and little else.) At least it used to be that way.but the holiday celebrates the reign of Queen Victoria who ruled the United Kingdom from 1837 until 1901.

Victoria at 18 coronation

That lady would have seen a lot of changes in all those decades and today her style is defined by her name: Victorian; architecture, clothes, morals (although the morals have long since changed drastically). And as per my blog two days ago, even the sincerity of the holiday and the opinion of the personage has changed.

But there remains an optimism associated with May Two Four. Spring, freedom (from winter, boots, coats, scarves and mittens) not to mention the freedom to be outside and move around.

It’s an energizing time. And it feels good.

Unlike years ago I have no special plans except Monday my good friend, The Road Warrior, you know her as Moonwatcher51, from her blog at Scatter Kindness, is due to pass this way. She lives in her home in Mexico through the winter, and then returns like the birds to her northern home in Winnipeg for the summer. We like to joke that it is really Winterpeg and that certainly bore out this year when she had to leave her camper van, that she traditionally uses to traverse Canada in the summer, buried under snow, in May to travel east. So she drove her car. She and her wee doggie, Rizzo (named after the Pink Ladies).

One summer she travels west to British Columbia to visit her oldest and his family, and the next she travels to the east coast to visit a dear friend By the Bay in Nova Scotia, then progressively makes stops on her travels west. And I am one of those stops!! This year is the 25th anniversary of our friendship. And it has been two years since I have seen her. Great excitement here.

This Road Warrior is a camper, but this year it has been hotel stops (you know because the camper is uh snowed in in Winterpeg). So I am making sure her 3 day stay has all the comforts of home. Home made meals every night by moi, (the menu is complete), I bought an air conditioner for her bedroom in case it gets blistering hot (not likely, but I like to be prepared, and social engagements to take place here – old friends gathering for a luncheon, ** which may not happen exactly as planned as one participant has just tested positive for you know what. Fortunately we are all triple vaxxed and some of us quadrupled but such an event does limit our exposure to each other.

I remain optimistic in keeping with the season here at North of 43, and wish all of you the loveliest weekend where ever you are.

Chris G May 19th ’22