2020: What Went Well

For the last probably 5 years, as the next new year celebration was approaching, I kept reading/hearing from people that they were glad “this year” was ending and looking with hope for the next one. And all those years I was thinking – and even using it as a celebratory toast more than once – that I hope that personally for me the next year would be at least not worse than the year we were seeing off.

Several years ago, I came across What Went Well Wednesday series on the Serenity Now Scents and Sensibilities blog. As Old Herbaceous has described, it is a gratitude exercise when you’re on a regular basis list three things that went well and explain why (“Adding “why” allows one to pinpoint times when acts of one’s own or others contributed to what went well”). I mentally played that game for a while, and even contemplated “borrowing” the idea for my blog but had never implemented it.

As challenging as 2020 was for everyone, believe it or not, I still stand by my New Year mantra: I hope that for me and my loved ones the next year will be at least not worse than this awful, strange, “unprecedented” and totally unexpected 2020. And I want to share with you what went well for me this year.

Health

First, nobody from my close circle of family and friends got sick so far. Mostly, it is just luck (though we all are trying to do our part), and I realize that we’re not out of the woods yet. But I’m glad that until now we’ve been lucky.

Second, an unpleasant health issue that started for me last December has finally resolved (at least temporary) without a surgery that seemed inevitable mid-year. I’m so relieved! I did all I could, including some folk remedies and postponing the surgery until I found a surgeon I trusted (we had a hilarious conversation about those folk remedies, none of us really believing in them but not completely dismissing either) and not going with the one who suggested to go ahead with the surgery right there and then. My vSO was so helpful, supportive and patient through the whole ordeal, that whatever role the moral well-being might have played in fighting infection, he deserves all the credit.

Finally, Rusty who had some stomach issues, seems to be better now when he doesn’t shed as much. And his lab work results are all good, which was a huge load off our minds. But it reminds me that I should brush him more regularly.

Rusty on the Bed

Job

We both stayed employed, and our jobs allow us to work remotely. Moreover, though much better than it was the previous year and with a better staffed team, my work kept me so busy, that I barely noticed the “stay at home” part.

Also, this year I got a great performance review from my manager. I’m mentioning it because it was the first time ever in my life. I’m quite used to not getting any feedback or getting (and, frankly, giving) formal and meaningless reviews. The fact that somebody made an effort and expressed in written words what I know I did good was an absolutely new experience. If I ever write a performance review for anyone again, I’ll need to remember how it feels to get a deserved acknowledgement.

And the last in this section, this year we finally were able to take time off during the winter holidays and get some so needed rest.

Family

Our state was partially open just in time for the local trip that my vSO and I planned for our big anniversary this year. Originally, the plan was just for two of us to get away for several days – spas, wineries, eating out. But after four months at home and most places still take-out only or outside seating, it felt less of a getaway. And since the house we rented was big enough for more people, we invited four of our closest friends whom we knew for decades to join us – and they did. It was a very pleasant mini trip. Picture below is taken from the balcony of the rebuilt tasting room of our favorite winery – Paradise Ridge, that burned down three years ago in the first big North Cal fire. They opened earlier this year, which I also write down in the positive column.

Paradise Ridge Winery

Friends and Hobbies

I’m lucky to have friends to talk to, exchange news and share worries. These are people I’m ready to help, and who is ready to help me. I miss seeing many of them, but I hope we’ll have more time to spend together, to travel and celebrate important events next year or the year after that or…

I’m also glad I have my Perfumeland friends. Not only we share our love of perfume, which is even more important now than it ever was, but we also help each other to stay informed about what’s happening in different countries and parts of the World, which allows us to better understand the situation, compare experience and get prospective.

Thanks to Portia who passed on me the APJ’s weekly Saturday Question series, I got what I always wanted for my blog – a continuous conversation with perfumista friends and loyal readers. And thanks to, again, Portia, Narth, hajusuuri and Christine W, my wonderful guest writers, the blog got more inhabited and diverse. I’m also thankful to all who’s reading this and other posts, commenting or not (though, I would prefer to have a chance to talk to everybody, even from time to time).

Thanks to Tara’s (A Bottled Rose) Beauty Reviews, I revisited my skincare routine. I don’t know if I’m getting any results, but at least it’s something new and it’s a pastime that I enjoy. The next thing will be to follow her and Vanessa’s (Bonkers about Perfume) suit and start reading again.

I’m thankful to Lucas (Chemist in the Bottle), my scent twin (well, triplet with hajusuuri, to be precise), who keeps reviewing new perfumes, even in this environment with limited access to new releases, so that I do not have to wonder whether to get samples for any of those: our tastes do not coincide 100%, but they overlap significantly, especially on perfumes that can be qualified as “unisex.”

And I’m grateful to hajusuuri who, in addition to being an inspiration with her daring 8-spray perfume application, just single-handedly provided me with a month-worth daily testing subjects. So, not only I got a wonderful gift under my New Year tree (see the photo below), but I also have something interesting to look forward to every day in January when all the holidays that I love so much are behind us.

NY Tree and samples

Speaking of Christmas/New Year trees. This year, we managed to decorate not only our house outside (seeing decorated houses makes me happy, so I wanted to help brightening this gloomy year to others who also enjoy holiday decorations) and inside (spending that much time at home, I wanted to make it more festive), but in addition to the big tree in the living room (on the postcard below), I decorated a tiny one for the bedroom (that’s where all those samples went to be safe from Rusty). And for the latter I used ornaments that are more than 4 decades old: my grandmother bought them for my tiny plastic tree when I was a child, and I saved them and brought with me when I moved to the US. The wooden decoration with a reindeer is a gift from Lucas, and the orange cat is an ornament that I bought in Hawaii several years ago and painted to resemble Rusty.

And finally, this year allowed me to wear my favorite perfumes more freely, not worrying whether it would bother my co-workers. I re-tested many of the samples I accumulated over the years, finished some, passed on some, got new ones to test, and found new perfume loves. Same as in years before, I haven’t tested enough new releases to do my own top N releases of 2020, but I will be back early next week with my 2020 Year Round-Up Entertaining Statistics post, in which I’ll mention my favorites from this year.

Rusty and New Year Tree 2021

Happy New Year to all my friends and readers! I will take mine 2021 at least not worse than 2020, but to all of you who felt that this year was too much of a leap (pun intended), I wish 2021 to be kinder, calmer and more joyful.

Will you share at least one thing in your life that went well this year? (But you do not have to stop at one)

Rusty the Cat: 12 Years Young (And Merry Christmas!)

I’m positive that even smartest of our feline companions (or even canine, for that matter) do not have a notion of birthdays and celebrations. So, I realize that Rusty is blissfully unaware of his age and surely isn’t expecting anything from us on that day. I mean, not more than he usually expects, daily.

But since we, humans, anthropomorphize, of course my vSO and I feel that we need to do something special for Rusty’s birthday, so again and again we’re trying to find him gifts. How do they call doing the same thing and expecting different results? Yeah, I know.

In almost 12 years I know our cat, he exhibited almost no interest in the cat toys bought at a store. We went through soft and crunchy and bouncy and… (you got the picture) toys with the same result: at best, Rusty would sniff it and, maybe, bat it once or twice – to never touch them again. In the worst cases – like an iPad-navigated running sphere promised to amuse your cat for hours – Rusty would be scared of it and try to hide every time we attempted to play with him.

I rarely react to ads, be that TV, radio or online pop-ups. I’m even less inclined to believe any of those infomercials promising you miracle devices that help you to lose weight, while growing hair and learning a new language. But somehow, I let my guard down while playing one of the games on my phone: they showed how enthusiastically cats played with that toy… And it was just $14.95… (clip below might take some time to load)

Rusty playing with a Toy

To be fair, Rusty might have played with it for longer, had they thought through the mechanics. In a couple of minutes, he figured out that he needed to catch the wire, not the bird. Besides, even if he catches the bird, once he pulls it, the stand falls, and it stops flying. There are stickers on the bottom to stick the base to… not sure, what to, but even if I could figure it out, the issue is that both an ON/OFF switch and the opening to change batteries are there, on the base. So, Rusty played with it a couple of times with my help to reposition it every time after falling, but then both of us got tired.

So, the only store-bought cat toy that manages to hold his attention for quite a while is a simple plastic spring. He went through 20+ of those. We do not know for sure what happens to them in the end: after a day or two of playing, we never see them again. I suspect that once we replace a refrigerator or a stove, we’ll find a plastic springs cemetery. Meanwhile, for this birthday I ordered for Rusty the next set of those springs. They are supposed to be delivered before Christmas – not that Rusty would care one way or the other.

Cat Toy

Below is a collection of pictures of Rusty – one picture from every year of his life. But if you want more, just filter posts by the Category “Four legs good” to see all photos of Rusty that I used in the blog, as well as all the posts about the cat who keeps bringing endless joy to my and my vSO’s lives.

Happy Birthday to our Christmas cat and Merry Christmas to all my friends and readers who celebrate this holiday.

Rusty and Christmas 2020

Orange Cats in My Life – Part XI: They didn’t get away after all (and Happy New Year!)

With two recent Postcards and many previous posts about Rusty, I didn’t plan to write anything else this year. But a couple of days ago I got a new comment on my post Orange Cats in My Life – Part V: The Ones That Got Away from 5 years ago. For those who didn’t follow the link to check it out: in that pre-new year post (December 31st, 2014) I told about several cat-themed items that I had my eye on but for different reasons missed out on.

The commenter who found that post all these years later, asked me if I was still looking for those cat boots. I answered “No.”

I’m not looking for either the artwork or boots that I featured in that post. Not because I lost interest or hope, but because I’ve already found and bought both. It took me several years, but I was persistent, and it paid off (well, of course, it was I who had to pay for them but nevertheless).

You could see more detailed pictures in the original post, but on the postcard below you might notice a fragment of the Govinder’s lithograph, The Shining Sinners, that hangs over my fireplace. Since it wasn’t a planned post, I didn’t have enough time to bribe Rusty into posing with my boots, so you’ll have to trust me that they look exactly like on the picture in the linked post.

By now I know that not all wishes might come true; not everything depends on us and our resolve to fulfill what we wish for; and wishing for something material and then getting it is, probably, the simplest and easiest to achieve. But still, I think it’s a little symbolic, so I’d like to use it as a metaphor for the New Year wishes to you, my friends and readers, and to myself.

Welcoming year 2020, while wishing for health, prosperity and peace on a big scale, let’s think of something small(er) that we personally have control over and make that wish to realize by persisting and staying determined to get what we want.

Happy New Year to all of us!

Rusty and Xmas Tree and The Shining Sinners

A Postcard from Undina: Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday, Rusty!

I love Christmas.

Even if I were religious, this day (December 24th) wouldn’t have meant anything to me since my potential denomination would have been Eastern Orthodox Christianity, and they celebrate this holiday in the beginning of January. But I’m not religious, and before I moved to the U.S., Christmas wasn’t really celebrated in my native country (it has changed now). Since I live here now, and many people around me celebrate it, I embraced it. But Christmas for me is more of a social event than anything else.

I love Christmas, and usually I’m “all in” with decorations, gifts to co-workers and other festivities.

This year I was so busy at work trying to meet a crazy deadline that I could barely spare some time for decorating the office (but I had to do it since without me it wouldn’t have been done at all). And then I got sick, so decorating our house, either inside or outside, had to be sacrificed to just living through that. I feel better now, so we put up a Christmas tree, but that’s all I managed to do this year. I plan to write a “Thank you” note to those neighbors in our area who decorated their houses (with a large number of Chinese and Indian households around a decorated house is rather an exception – that’s why I feel especially bad for not doing it this year myself).

Merry Christmas to all my readers who celebrate this holiday. May it be filled with joy, piece and happiness.

 

Rusty and Chrismas Tree and Gifts

 

One more reason why I like Christmas is because this is the day when we celebrate Rusty’s birthday. Today he turned 11. He’s such a wonderful companion, and I hope that he’ll be healthy, hungry and happy cat for many-many Christmases to come.

A Postcard from Undina: Happy Hanukkah 2019!

I’m the third generation in our family who is not religious, any religion, though potentially I had two options from my parents.

Many years ago, my Grandma send me money for my birthday. She had extremely limited means, and we all kept telling her that she didn’t need to give us gifts, but she insisted, and since she couldn’t leave her apartment any longer to buy us something, for more important events she would send me and her other grandchildren a check.

I was standing firm on my feet by then, and I needed money much less than she did, so I wanted to buy something special, something to remember her by. So, I bought a menorah (hanukkiah). As I said, she wasn’t religious, so the menorah I got wasn’t a traditional one: Michael Aram, one of my favorite designers, made it as an olive branch.

Hanukkah is the only Jewish holiday that I kind of celebrate: for eight nights I light candles, think about my grandmother, and try to keep Rusty away from the fire.

So, today I lit the first candle, and three of us had a crab dinner (for those of my readers who knows about Judaica even less than I do: it’s not an acceptable food for observant Jews). SOTD Chanel Cuir de Russie (a subconscious nod to my other side of the family tree?).

Happy Hanukkah to everybody who celebrates! (And I’ll be back soon with the next postcard.)

 

Rusty and Menorah

A Postcard from Undina: From Mendocino with Love

Nothing restores feeling of inner balance better than 3 days at ocean shore, almost “unplugged.” It was a wonderful mini-vacation full of serenity and beauty.

Mendocino July 2019

I’m sorry I had to come back that soon. I’m glad to be back – back to Rusty, to my blog, even to work. I missed you. I hope summer is treating you well. Is it?

Small Things that Brighten Life: The Beautiful Duck(ling) 2

Almost four years ago I wrote about the unusual inhabitant of the nearby pond: a domestic white duck.

Since then I kept watching him (for whatever reason I decided it was a drake) almost daily, feeling happy when I saw him in the company of other birds or sad when he was alone. Unlike other birds, this domestic duck seemed to be more “stationary”: most of the days he would be somewhere around the pond. Some days he wouldn’t be there, and I’d be worried that something had happened to him. But the next day he would be back, and the order of things would be restored.

One day, while walking in the neighborhood about a mile from our place, we came across another group of ducks with one white domestic duck. Was it our duck that got that far away from his regular spot? Could it be another white duck that also joined a wild life (after escaping from the same farm from the legend we came up with for the previous one)? We weren’t sure. I took a picture of that other group. As we came back that evening, our duck was back where it usually was, in the company of wild mallards, very similar to the one that we saw thirty minutes earlier. I took another picture and spent some time comparing the two birds. “Our” seemed bigger but then the distances from which I took those pictures were also different, so I couldn’t be really sure one way or the other.

In the following seven months we kept meeting a white duck here and there on our evening walks. We even found a “feeding spot” where two women from the apartment complex said they were feeding that white duck almost every evening. And we knew that there was a woman who fed all the birds next to our pond in the morning. And since after that one time it was back to seeing the white duck just once a day, I finally decided that probably it was the same one bird just migrating between several places that provided morning or evening meals.

A couple of weeks ago, driving by, we suddenly saw TWO white ducks in the same group of birds. I thought my eyes were playing a trick since there are other while birds around here – egrets or seagulls – whom from the distance I confuse with our duck from time to time. So we had to stop, I got out from the car, disappoint all the birds that rushed towards me expecting treats – but now I have a proof that at least two domestic white ducks live around here among wild birds. So, the title of this sequel post should have rather been: The Two Beautiful Duck(ling)s but that would have given the plot away.

White ducks and other birds

Image: my own

Orange Cats in My Life – Part… X*: Rusty turns 10

As I told in the story of Rusty coming into our lives (Part IV: Those that have just broken the flower vase…), we consider Rusty to be our Christmas cat and celebrate his birthday on Christmas Eve.

Cats are not dogs, so when choosing a cat as a companion, I knew what would be missing – loyalty, affection and obedience. Obedience is clearly not in Rusty’s repertoire (though I did manage to teach him not to come and ask for food before he hears the alarm clock), but in terms of loyalty and attachment, Rusty is probably the farthest to the right on the long tail of the statistical distribution of these qualities in felines.

Rusty's Tail

Rusty is also an extremely social cat: not only he spends a lot of time with me and my vSO, but he also inserts himself in the middle of any gatherings at our place: if there’s a free chair at the table, he’d sit on it and, at some point, he might feel comfortable enough to try to steal our food.

So this year I decided to invite some of my perfumista friends and their furry kids to the to the virtual celebration of Rusty’s birthday. This still being a perfume blog (at least from time to time), I also asked all of the guests to tell us what perfume(s) they plan to wear this Christmas and, optionally, why.

* * *

H

Hajusuuri, my lovely guest-writer and one of the most generous people in the Perfumeland, is known to many by the avatar of this extremely handsome dog. It’s not her pet but a part of the extended family, so he was invited officially to Rusty’s big 1-O celebration.

He decided to stay anonymous, so we’ll just call him H. Two of his siblings, F. and S., were also invited – not to be left out, you know how it can be in a family…

S, H and F

Hajusuuri: As to what perfume I will wear on Christmas, the theoretical answer is Chanel No. 5 L’eau from my Red bottle. The practical answer is I will be nice to my scent-phobe family members and wear a swipe of Al-Rehab Choco Musk or perhaps a teeny tiny dab of Aftelier Vanilla Smoke.

* * *

Truffle

Meet Truffle, a beautiful three-year old companion of Vanessa (Bonkers about Perfume), who (the cat, not V.), when is not trapped in one of the neighbours’ garages, attends to her human in time of need.

If you want to know more about Truffle, her tricks and mischief (or just to see more pictures), take a look at a Christmas post on Truffle as a kitten or a post for her second birthday.

Vanessa: On Christmas Day, after much deliberation and auditioning of samples, I have decided to wear By Kilian‘s Amber Oud. As Undina is the ‘hostess’ of this Christmas post, my selection is a nod towards her recent ‘Novamber’ sniffathon and ongoing love of the note, as well to the fact that she has given me samples of Amber Oud at least twice.;) I like Amber Oud because the older I get, the more my tolerance for sweetness in perfumes increases, and this scent, with its comforting, almost maple syrup-type amber laced with lashings of vanilla, is judiciously tempered by spices, a more austere cedar note, and of course the oud, and ends up less sticky and more sheer. I would never normally be drawn to a scent with ‘oud’ in the name, in case it is too medicinal and sharp, but the blend here is marvellously mellow and will create a warm festive hum around my person on the big day!

* * *

Boxer on his beach chair

Admit that you didn’t expect to see a rabbit at this virtual party. Boxer lives with Suzanne (Suzanne’s Perfume Journal). To keep him fit and healthy, Suzanne developed a special morning exercise routine for him. Judging by the way he looks, it works. After holidays Rusty and I should be probably consulting her to start preparing to the bikini season.

Suzanne: When I think about the perfect Christmas perfume, I think of Caron Parfum Sacre. It has a very beautiful nutmeg note intertwined among its rich layers, and nutmeg always reminds me of Christmas since it’s a featured spice in eggnog, plum pudding and the like. The nutmeg lifts the deep, velvety expression of rose, the bewitchingly syrup-and-evergreen scent of myrrh, and the custard-like vanillic base of Parfum Sacre. There’s even a small, purring amount of civet in this perfume, of which I think Rusty, the Christmas cat, might approve. ;-)

* * *

Vega

Follow the link to learn how a shy rescue kitty who graciously accepted Asali’s (The Sounds of Scent) companionship got her shiny (and perfume-related!) name Vega.

Asali: For Christmas, I will 1) wear the to me unknown perfume of my Advent Calendar#, and 2) wear Nez a Nez Marron Chic.

# Here’s the post about Asali’s DIY Advent Calendar. I’m borrowing the idea next year!

* * *

Paris Jinx Jan 2018

Two handsome greyhounds – Paris and Jinx (can you guess which one was named by Portia (Australian Perfume Junkies) and which one by Jin?) – as Portia informed me, were “so excited that Rusty is turning 10 and wish him many more happy years on this earth with you. Plus all the treats, cuddles, pats and smooches that should go along with being a pampered pet.”

Surprisingly, there’s no dedicated post on the APJ but if you read Portia’s weekly updates, it’s hard to miss that these two guys play important roles in their owners’ lives.

Portia: Nuit de Noel by Caron for Xmas Eve watching the Carols by Candlelight; UR ± Silk 19 by UER MI** for Xmas lunch. It’s a fig tea, jasmine and woods fragrance that seems good for the heat of our Xmas Day.
For Xmas evening Mohur by Neela Vermeire Creations, its spicy rose and woods fits all occasions perfectly for me, adds luster to whatever i’m doing.
Boxing Day will be spent BarBQ-ing and swimming so L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme Intense will get a whirl.

** I thought one of the dogs had interrupted Portia, and it was a random set of characters but I checked: it’s a name of actual perfume!

* * *

Meepsy

If you were to scour Val’s, the Cookie Queen, Instagram feed (@armadilloscookiequeen), you would have probably conjectured that this Snow White’s name is actually “Cat” – and would have been wrong. Her full name is Meep Meep or Meepsy (“When she was a tiny kitten she ran around the apartment so fast you could not see her”).

Val: I will be wearing vintage Chanel N°5 parfum on Christmas Day, 25th. It feels very suitable and elegant, like me. Hahahaha. Family will be here, and wearing any kind of leather and smoke would be too much. I’ve been in a N°5 binge.

* * *

Duncan

Duncan, who is just 15 years young, is enjoying an early retirement with his humans in sunny Mérida. Steve (The Scented Hound) says that “for Xmas, I will be wearing my vintage Caron Nuit de Noel (of course).”

* * *

Mila

Mila, the youngest guest on today’s party (so, probably no valerian root beer for her), will grow to be probably one of the most well-traveled pets, as she accompanies her mom, Tara C on her seasonal migration between Canada and the U.S. Look at those ears!!!

Tara C: I normally wear Nuit de Noel on Christmas eve and Chopard Wish on Christmas day.

* * *

Ophelia, Border, Rita and Lucy all live with Marcella. They all decided to join the celebration, and I’m using this opportunity to introduce them to the Perfumeland since their human doesn’t have any public social media accounts where she’d be proudly demonstrating each of these beauties.

Marcella: This year I will be wearing vintage Shalimar perfume. I bought it for myself for my birthday this year. I wore it extensively in the 70’s and nostalgia prompted me to order a bottle. It’s still unbeatable. Absolutely glorious.

Actually, I think I will start off in Parfum de Thérèse which was a pre-Christmas gift from my hubs, and then transition to Shalimar once the cooking is done. Yes. That makes sense!

* * *

I don’t think I’ll surprise anybody who reads my blog for a while if I tell that on the Christmas Eve I plan to wear Climat by Lancome: not only it is my #1 all-time favorite perfume that I wear for special-special occasions, but also it was the first ever perfume that I took a picture of in general and the one with Rusty and perfume in particular (though, not the best or the last one with that perfume). And it was the first post about Rusty on this blog.

For his birthday Rusty got a new pure wool artisanal cat cave “handcrafted by women in Nepal.” He seems to like it.

Rusty in Cave

What a great party (and wonderfully smelling at that)! I’m so happy to have all of my real and virtual friends and their graceful companions to join me in celebration of the 10th Birthday of a very special orange cat in my life who is kneading and purring loudly on my lap as I’m trying to finish this post.

If you’re reading this, and you’re blessed with a furry companion, please introduce them and share a link to their pictures with us – so they could join the party and increase the enjoyment we all get from seeing each others four-legged friends. And, of course, tell me: what is your Christmas perfume this year?

 

Merry Christmas to all my friends and readers!

 

* For those of my readers who hasn’t read the previous episodes: no, I haven’t told 9 stories before this one but I thought that a 10th Birthday is a good reason to skip a couple of numerals.

Big Island Vacation, Episode III: Trivia Edition

As my friend Vanessa (Bonkers about Perfume) usually does it, here’s a disclaimer: this is not a perfume-related post. But you know what? If you read my “perfume” posts and are still around, I would bet that this one can’t be that much less interesting/useful.

This trip to Hawaii was quite educational, and I do not use it as a euphemism for something unpleasant. Quite literally, I learned many new and interesting trivia bits and had interesting experiences, mostly food-related, which now I plan to share with you.

Did you know that…

  • Between 1790 and 1870, sandalwood was a major part of Hawaii’s agricultural industry1. Too bad it’s not any more – it would have been interesting to compare it to sandalwood from other areas.
  • In the 1960s, Hawaii was responsible for 80% of the world’s pineapple. Today, Hawaii produces only 2% of the world’s pineapple. But 90% of the world’s macadamia nuts are still produced there [1].

Big Island Macadamia Nuts

  • Peaberry coffee (oval, pea-shaped coffee beans) is not a special coffee variety but rather a rare (about 5%) mutation produced by regular coffee trees.
  • Roasted coffee beans are bigger than green ones [2].

Big Island Roasted Coffee

  • Passion fruit is a vine.

Passion Fruit

  • Strawberry guava is considered the most invasive plant in Hawaii [3].

Big Island Strawberry Guava

  • Left not picked, a tea bush can grow higher than the tallest person.
  • Both green and black tea are grown on the same bush but, counter-intuitively, green tea is “cooked” (leaves are heated in a special appliance, shown below, to stop the oxidation), while black – isn’t [4].

Big Island Tea Roasting Machine

During this trip I’ve seen for the first time:

  • Tea flowers and tea seeds: you can propagate tea by either cuttings or seeds [4]. Tea flowers look beautiful both in rain and on a sunny day.
  • Growing vanilla: it looks like green beans!

Big Island Vanilla

  • Cinnamon tree: I didn’t realize before that it’s made from the bark is harvested from a live tree [4].

Big Island Sinnamon Tree

We experienced:

  • Mead from local honey infused with local tea: it tastes great on a hot day.

Big Island Tea Infused Mead

  • Chinese tea ceremony during which I smelled strong floral scent of one of the black teas: it wasn’t an imaginary or pretend-I-know-what-you-mean scent as it happens sometimes with wine tasting but it actually smelled of flowers [4].

Big Island Chinese Tea Ceremony

  • Freshly baked homemade scones with passion fruit curd: we were treated to these in the end of the tea ceremony, and they were so tasty that I started contemplating making them at home.

Scone and passion fruit curd

  • Hot and sunny mornings, perfect tropical rains and the most beautiful sunsets – and all that within an hour-drive distance

 

1 Source https://www.to-hawaii.com/agriculture.php

2 From our visit to Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation that offers free coffee farm tours lead by enthusiastic staff members, sampling of coffee and other products in their shop, as well as inexpensive nature walks.

3 Wikipedia

4 From the private tour in Onomea Tea Company – three-hour event that included the tour and tea ceremony. It was probably the best experience of this type in my life, so I would highly recommend it.

 

Images: my own

A Postcard from Undina: Happy Rainy Thanksgiving!

I know that for many people rain isn’t something pleasant or desirable. But here, in California, after several years of serious drought, rain is always welcome. But even more so today: it brought us a beautiful Thanksgiving gift of “Good” Air Quality Index – after a week of fluctuations between “Unhealthy” and “Very Unhealthy” because of the devastating and the deadliest in California history Camp Fire that is still ruining our beautiful state (it’s 75% contained as of now).

I’m thankful for the rain. I’m thankful that my loved ones are alive and safe this holiday. I’m thankful I have people with whom I will be celebrating this holiday that hasn’t been mine when I grew up but which I grew to appreciate over years living in the U.S.

 

Happy Rainy Thanksgiving 2018

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers!

Image: my own taken earlier today