Several posts back I showed a snapshot of this ceramic wall plaque when it wasn't finished, so I thought some folks might like to see it all painted (with underglaze) and glazed (clear). I actually am using it as part of a mixed-media Art Tag work; if you're interested in seeing that, check out my art blog - the link is at the bottom of "About Me," on this page, just to the right.

Today I'm having
some nice aromatic oolong tea. The rain has stopped for the moment and the sun is out, but it's chilly and there are still clouds blowing around so I'm not sure that it's over.
 
 
I've brewed a pot of Pouchong tea* this morning, which is a special variety of oolong from Taiwan. I don't usually like oolong tea in the morning (I prefer it with a meal, especially a Chinese one), but this is one that I do like once in a while. Despite its pale color, it has a definite punch to it!

I saw the billboard above at a BART station when we were waiting for a train into Berkeley a couple of days ago. It's a nice design and has a certain tongue-in-cheek humor - Temecula being a far from exotic place - that I appreciate. And the hills portrayed really do look like some of those in the great Central Valley of California!


* from Ten Ren Tea (www.tenren.com) of San Francisco, a major distributor of good and very reasonably priced tea from China - especially to Asian markets.

 
 
This morning our teapot has Tung-Ting Oolong Tea in it; that's a green tea from Taiwan and it makes a nice change once in a while. It's a loose tea from the large bulk jars in the Country Cheese Store in Berkeley.

Above is a chess set made of polymer clay (a.k.a. Sculpy or Fimo) which was exhibited at the recent Alameda County Fair. It was made by Mercedes Cohen of the city of Alameda. Nice work - I love how colorful and whimiscal it is!
 
 
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Here's a snapshot of the little pigs racing at the Alameda County Fair, taken when we were there on July 6th. Boy were they cute - and pretty fast! They also had some smaller ones, only 13 weeks old, going around the course, "in training." I couldn't get a good shot of them, however.. too bad!

This morning we're trying a new tea called Buddha's Hand which I was recently given for my birthday. It's quite delicious! This tea came from a local supplier called Teance, and this is how it is described on their website(www.teance.com):

One of the rarest, almost extinct varietals of Oolong, a sub-varietal of Baochong. More full bodied, with a vegetal sweetness and gardenia fragrance. Extremely large leaves deserved of its namesake, this unusual varietal is being preserved through our efforts by purchasing the entire crop each season.



 
 
I haven’t posted in a few days, having been too busy having fun with friends and getting my Berkeley studio ready for the Holiday Open Studios, which will be starting a week from tomorrow – yikes! This morning we’re drinking Assam tea,* yesterday it was Awake tea* and the day before that we had Ntingwe Kwazulu tea.* Oh yes – at Restaurant Peony in Oakland’s Chinatown, where we had a great dim sum lunch yesterday with some out-of-town friends, it was washed down with plenty of basic (but quite good) Oolong tea.

A couple of days ago I went to the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento with another friend – and what a great place that is! It was expanded to at least twice its previous size about a year ago, so now it’s very spacious. It’s also filled with lots of really good art - well worth a trip to Sacramento! A snapshot of one of the pieces in their permanent collection is above: Joan Brown’s painting, "Wolf in Studio." (I think I know what she was getting at – sometimes I feel that way myself!)

* Awake tea is from Tazo Tea and the other two teas we had at home are from Taylor's of Harrogate
 
 
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my sister Jeannette, me and our "other sister" Sarah
I had great fun with my sister Jeannette and our "other sister" Sarah yesterday. Jeannette’s visit (her first time in California since 1995!) was a perfect excuse to bop around San Francisco – and there was a lot of tea drinking involved! We had oolong tea with our delicious Chinese lunch at the Shanghai Dumpling King (that’s where the snapshot above was taken). Later on it was Genmai Cha (Japanese green tea with toasted rice) and cookies at the beautiful Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park. I also had a big cup of Earl Grey at the De Young Museum Café after we had browsed around there for a couple of hours. Tea and good company, indeed. It was a lovely day!

This morning we’re having Awake Tea* – another full day is ahead!

* from Tazo Tea
 
 
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It’s really not at all cool this morning – the weather forecasters lied! However I saw some fog creeping past the bridges in the SF Bay yesterday, so it’s probably still going to get cooler, as they’ve predicted. Yesterday afternoon it was in the 70s at my studio in Berkeley; when I got home around 6:30 I found that it was 90 degrees out, and it had gotten up to 100 degrees during the afternoon. What a difference a few miles can make – 30 to 40 degrees, sometimes!
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The above paragraph was from yesterday; sad to say, I got so busy that I never got around to posting it. The photo was taken around dawn yesterday morning. There are no clouds here today but it’s around 5 degrees cooler than it was at the same time yesterday. Maybe the cooling trend is finally going to reach us today, here in our new (inland) home! For the last couple of days it’s been very pleasant in Berkeley, with temperatures in the 70s, but once again it got up to 100 degrees here yesterday. However I didn’t get home until 9:30 last evening and by that time it had gone down to 77 degrees. I love my Berkeley studio – I sure hope that I can hang on to it!

Yesterday we had Kenya Black tea* and this morning I’ve made a pot of Oolong tea.* Even though I love Oolong tea and it doesn’t seem as strong as black tea, I’ve noticed that it’s a little hard on my stomach in the morning. It’s fine when I have it with a meal, however - and it’s perfect with good Chinese food!

There was just a flock of 11 wild turkeys walking by outside my window just now; earlier this morning when I took the dog out we saw a different flock of 7 turkeys. The toms are not displaying their feathers or gobbling loudly these days; courtship season is apparently over. We’ve also recently seen smaller family groups with some hens and a bunch of little chicks, so that’s what’s happening now. The cycle of life!

* both teas are in leaf form; they came from Country Cheese in Berkeley and a shop in Oakland Chinatown, respectively.
 
 
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view from the balcony yesterday around 6:30 PM
I’m having Awake tea this morning. Yesterday I drank a pot of Earl Grey Green tea while I was working in my studio. I don’t usually drink Earl Grey (regular or green) in the morning – ditto, Lady Grey tea. To me those are afternoon or evening brews; I especially like them after a meal. I also enjoy Oolong tea and Genmai Cha (Japanese green tea with roasted rice) with meals - usually lunch, and often at a Chinese or Japanese restaurant. When I have tea in the evening it’s generally herbal or decaffeinated. As a result I hardly ever post about such types of tea, which is a shame. Maybe I’ll try to do more of that: not just say what I’m drinking each morning, but also mention what other teas I’ve had since writing the last post.

The weather was wild yesterday; it rained off and on with some very heavy downpours. There was flooding in the canyon below our house, so they closed the street & cars had to take a detour to get up here. When I got home around at 6 o'clock there was a large pool of water in the garage; I used a couple of plastic dustpans & scooped up at least bucket of the muddy water, then mopped out the rest. There was some clearing around sunset and we had dramatic clouds over the SF Bay, which I took some pictures of (see above). This morning there’s fog rising in the trees, creating a Chinese landscape effect – I took several snapshots of that as well (see below).

[I didn't post yesterday because our internet was out, but fortunately it was fixed this afternoon!]
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Chinese landscape effect this morning
 
 
Today I have made a pot of green Tung-Ting Oolong tea from Taiwan. I bought it in bulk from Country Cheese a while ago; it was stashed in a pottery jar on the kitchen counter and I’ve just rediscovered it. It is a yellow-tinged brew with a very distinctive smoky flavor. I actually prefer regular oolong, but this one makes an interesting change. It seems weak because of the color, but that’s deceptive; it actually packs quite a punch, really wakes you up!

Yesterday's weather was pretty nice until the late afternoon, when it began to rain again. It’s raining hard now and will probably continue on like this for several days. Some parts of the SF Bay Area have been having rock & mud slides as a result. There’s a large rock slide just a few miles from here blocking one lane of Park Blvd, which is rather scary. What’s next – floods? Pestilence?
 
 
 I just made French toast for us and our houseguests with some slices of a long Italian loaf from the Acme Bakery. This was served with European style butter and maple syrup from Canada. It tasted very good - and it all sounds very international for such an American breakfast!

The tea we’re having this morning was brought by my friend Kate, all the way from China via Michigan: a flowering tea ball called Sunset Oolong, described thus on the label: Wild oolong leaves and orange lily offer a golden full-bodied flavor with hints of peach. It’s very pretty in the glass teapot, and it’s also a very pleasant-tasting blend. Nice to know that such things can be found in the Midwest now – when I was growing up in Kansas we mostly had Lipton Orange Pekoe tea, with perhaps a few boxes of Twinings or Bigelow tea to be found in certain upscale markets if you were lucky! Today’s tea comes from Spice Merchants (in Michigan), which sells lots of spices & other good stuff as well as many types of tea; they have quite a nice website (
www.spicemerchants.biz) in case you'd like to check them out!