Monday, June 21, 2021

Blends for the win

Hello again! I decided to open today's chatty and informative hug (of course I'm kidding, it will be all chat) with our resident lilac's spring show, unfortunately lit because it seems I love the lilac more than I do good photography:

I've been doing an art course about how to recognize the colour combinations you like and this is a classic for me apparently. I seem to prefer neutral backgrounds and with a pair of brights in front. If they smell great, so much the better. And lilacs are so, so delicious, aren't they?

Now that the flowers have served their purpose our lilac has gone back to its usual summertime tasks of offering shelter to passing birds, and painting shadows on the deck wall. It does an excellent at both. 

But that's not really want I wanted to share today: instead, I want to talk about - well, I'm going to say tea, but not really only tea.

Allow me to explain. There's this wonderful scene at the end of the film The Cat Returns in which the chaotic main character, whose life is always a disorganized rush, appears calmly at the breakfast table, neatly dressed and sipping tea, when her exhausted professional-quilter mother staggers in for caffeine. She offers her mother some of her tea, which she has blended herself, thereby completing her character arc from utter disaster to On Top Of It All. 

The scene has stayed in my mind ever since I saw that film ten years ago or so, and yet, it's only occurred to me in the last week or so that


Gah. I've been so, so bored with my decaf tea options for months now, only able to get loose Assam, and a blend of Darjeeling and vanilla. The vanilla one is nice, but lacks something, and the Assam is kind of flat. But one day I was looking glumly at the tin holding my current favourite caffeinated tea, knowing I wouldn't be able to handle it, and I suddenly registered the subheading - 'a blend of Assam and Darjeeling teas'. 

Did I already say Gah?

Turns out, decaf Assam and Darjeeling with vanilla combine to make a really nice tea. And blending a little full-caffeine Darjeeling with decaf Assam is very manageable and full of flavour. I don't bother pre-mixing any of this. I just put half as much as I normally would of one tea, and and then as much again of the next, into an empty tea bag.


It's official: I can drink tea I blended myself.

(Also, I finished the writing part of my current book project and am on to editing, which I can do in far shorter bursts, allowing me to tidy up the house and catch up on laundry. I'm sure the timing of all these developments is a complete coincidence.)

And now that I've written this down, maybe it won't take me so long to notice simple and obvious solutions to the next of life's tinier challenges. A girl can hope, right?

That's me for today - stay well, and I'll see you again soon!


Thursday, June 10, 2021

Learning from dirt

Hello again! I know I've been VERY quiet here but trust me, I've been super noisy working on a new book project. It is difficult to juggle both so I'm going to try something new, again: small posts more often, instead of long posts not nearly often enough. Let's begin with this treasure:

I couldn't paint something as delicate as the abstract art in the middle of this beautiful Wedgewood plate if I tried. Do you find it as compelling as I do? 

(don't answer that.)

(unless your answer is your jaw dropped in admiration, like mine.) 

It's almost sepia, one of my favourite colours to work with, and the lightning bolt coming down from the centre is just wow. That thing looks good sideways, too.



I rescued this plate many summers ago from a sort of performance art event where visitors could smash plates in a safety booth, so the artist could add the pieces to a growing pile of broken pottery stretched out over a very long table. 

It was an interesting idea for sure, and she explained that plates are made excessively and with no recycling plan, as they can't be composted once they have been glazed. All true and worth thinking about. But if you're an old-school Hugs reader from before my regular posting routine got interrupted, you know I have a huge passion for old plates, which are some of the most basic artifacts of social history, and affordable examples of graphic design history too.  It was basically a "heart meets melon baller" moment, watching those plates smash.

(disclaimer: I house five sets of dishes in my kitchen, at the expense of food storage space. I'm not exactly level headed on this subject.)


So: I rescued this dish and two or three others to use under plant pots. And for the last few weeks/months this plate has sat under a pot with a drainage hole in the bottom after the pot's original matching saucer broke. It was the perfect size of pot to display the floral border of the plate and nothing more, and also, it's fired with black enamel, so they looked great together. But while I was reorganizing my indoor garden today I dismantled that part of the setup and discovered a sad truth:


sifting through the rocks in the bottom of a pot
is a better artist than

I have since washed the plate. You'd think that was just a single dusting of dirt but you'd be wrong- there were layers and layers of it. It was really thick! I am totally learning from the dirt and doing tons of layers on my next abstract effort.

And that 's me for today. Hope you're well, and I hope to see you again here soon!