Sunday, June 19, 2016

Death & Afternoon Delights

June 19, 2016

Dear Friends,

Yesterday the phone rang just as I sat down to share my special invite to a tea in honor of QEII's 90th birthday. My uncle, Jack William passed. I've spoken of him in previous posts, and although he lives a few hours away, I have not seen him for several years. Not having visited him while he was in the hospital means I get to remember him as he was the last time I saw him. Suddenly, it's raining. From out of the blue. I was a girl when it started to rain just as we arrived at the cemetery after  my favorite grandmother Annie's funeral. There were two grandma Annies. I was so sad that day I just knew the angels were crying too. Some say, when it rains on the day a mean person dies, it's water from heaven trying to cool off hell long enough for the new resident to enter. All I know for sure today is this. I'm grateful for the rain. It's been hotter'n hell lately. Some say living in Texas is practice for those who are hell-bound.  So I laugh out loud every time I see that bumper sticker some think-they're-so-clever transplant puts on display that says, "I wasn't born in Texas but I got here as fast as I could." The dark side of me wonders about all the Texans who are "dying to get out of here." Oh, this is going way too dark.

But wait. The sun is shining! People say when the sun shines and it's raining, the devil's whipping his wife. Well dang. It's just storming over our house! Wow. What I can see of the eastern sky from my window is all blue sky and piles of white clouds though. There goes the thunder! Those same "they" say thunder means angels are bowling in heaven. From the sound of it, someone's making a whole lot of strikes. Lord, I hope there's no tournament tonight.

This just in! The first color in my after-the-storm rainbow! It's from Erin.

I went out the second the rain stopped. We need more color for this rainbow. The grapes add more than I imagined. 

These beauties bloom only after Houston floods. Enough said. 

Figs are purpling. And I've a little bit of a story to tell. Queen Elizabeth II recently celebrated her 90th birthday, as we all know. But did you know she surpassed her grandmother, Queen Victoria as the longest reigning monarch? Wow. I thought QEI held the title. She was my favorite bad ass female ruler. Poor Mary Queen of Scots. 

But, did you also know that the English ate boiled tea leaves from a plate, with butter? Once they got it right there was no stopping them though. And Happy Birth Day Queen Elizabeth II. May you reign until, as MJ said it, "Don't stop 'til you've had enough!" This goes for tea, too.

Here's a link if you interested in reading about the history of afternoon tea. I like the idea that our Anna invites us to tea, and the woman credited with having come up with the idea is named Anna also. "Tea consumption increased dramatically during the early nineteenth century and it is around this time that Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford is said to have complained of "having that sinking feeling" during the late afternoon. At the time it was usual for people to take only two main meals a day, breakfast, and dinner at around 8 o'clock in the evening. The solution for the Duchess was a pot a tea and a light snack, taken privately in her boudoir during the afternoon."

"Afternoon tea, that most quintessential of English customs is, perhaps surprisingly, a relatively new tradition.  Whilst the custom of drinking tea dates back to the third millennium BC in China and was popularised in England during the 1660s by King Charles II and his wife the Portuguese Infanta Catherine de Braganza, it was not until the mid 17th century that the concept of ‘afternoon tea’ first appeared. 

Afternoon tea was introduced in England by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, in the year 1840. The Duchess would become hungry around four o'clock in the afternoon. The evening meal in her household was served fashionably late at eight o'clock, thus leaving a long period of time between lunch and dinner. The Duchess asked that a tray of tea, bread and butter (some time earlier, the Earl of Sandwich had had the idea of putting a filling between two slices of bread) and cake be brought to her room during the late afternoon. This became a habit of hers and she began inviting friends to join her.

My social graces are rather skimpy, so pardon my ignorance. I want to share this experience with you. We will begin with the invite. Clever-clever, yes? Pay attention to the corners. Attention is in the details. A great hostess pays attention to the details.

This is the beginning. Inside smells like fun. I'll share everything after tomorrow. I need to shop and do a little baking to finish this birthday-tea-in-the-making. The a/c repair people come tomorrow. The job requires an estimated two hours without a/c, during which time I am obliged to seek safety in one of the coolest place I know, Barnes & Noble. 

There's another letter in the out box. A three page typed and printed letter mind you. A letter nonetheless. I will spend most of my summer catching up on my backlog of correspondence. Be warned, all will not be handwritten. I need to work on living a summer worth sharing. Here's hoping we all live to tell our tales. 

Happy mail to you, until we write again . . .

Yours truly,




  1. You can send me a type written letter any day of the week! I love mail! And, I love this post. I really tried to imagine eating tea leaves. There is not enough butter in the world for that.

    Watch your mailbox this week!

    1. Susan! You're something else. :) Thank you. I've been in a limner state of mind lately. I enjoy sharing some of the useless bits of information I've accumulated over the years. Perhaps that's one of the reasons man created blogs. :) Do you ever wonder how people learned things such as the good benefits of tobacco, how to cure meat? how to start a fire . . . ? If they were discovered by accident, that still shows someone had to have been paying attention, right? So I wonder how long it took the Brits to learn the proper way to use tea leaves. And who discovered butter when sour milk is so disgusting and sickening? :)

      There's a stack of mail that needs sending. It's a good thing mail doesn't spoil. We've had to deal with a ship load of necessaries the last two weeks and a water heater whisperer is scheduled to come in the morning. The day was taken up with the a/c people. They spent several hours in the attic and outside. In the middle of all that JC has some sort of attack. He went to the doctor's alone. He's been admitted and I cannot drive. They're keeping him overnight, but the words "possible stroke" shut down my mind. That reminds me. I need to cancel the water heater people.

      You be well. All is well here no matter how it might seem otherwise. Thanks for listening.

    2. ... I hope it wasn't a stroke.

    3. Susan! I missed your comment. No, not a stroke, thank God. I tell JC he'll outlive me. :) Thank you.

  2. My condolences on the passing of your Uncle Jack William. I'm glad you will have nice memories of him.

    I tried a lychee for the first time a few months ago and it was such an unexpected treat. It's a very delicate fruit and the scent and taste make it beautiful to eat.

    1. Thank you. I may have mentioned him in a letter once before. Everyone called him JW.

      I am fond of lychees. Shin recommended trying fresh instead of canned and I tried but ended up buying the wrong thing. I'd never seen fresh before. I want to try them in a recipe but it's too hot to experiment now. You described them perfectly!

      JC just texted--He cancelled the water heater appointment. That means he's doing better than I know. :)