Friday, August 19, 2016

Straining Tea Leaves Through My Teeth

Straining Tea Leaves Through My Teeth
            My cousin Nancie will board the plane for her home in Washington today. Three weeks wasn’t enough time for her to finish the long list of tasks she set herself in her new casa. But she painted and made curtains and cleaned and scratched off great chunks of her list. We found time to visit each day, often during work breaks or sharing meals, mugs of coffee, cups of tea.

            Years ago I had a friend in construction work who, with a wink, said that paint hides a multitude of sins. I’m a great believer in paint, for houses, not my face. I never learned how to hide my face. Just as well.

            Nancie has transformed her house with paint and a few yards of fabric she stitched into curtains. I suspect her photos and our progress reports motivated Kathy to arrange an unplanned but short trip the first of September to begin painting in her casa. Kathy will arrive with her sister Crin for show-and-tell.  

            Wielding a paint laden brush satisfies my soul. My wee casita is brick. Brick walls, inside and out, with huge arched windows. My painting tasks have been small, things like cupboards or book shelves or those old metal rocking chairs on the patio. I have splashes of bright color in every corner.

            Both Nancie’s and Kathy’s homes are built with plaster over the brick walls. Nancie’s is—I mean was—stark white. We all like Mexican colors, earthy and vibrant. She has enlivened her rooms, now warm and inviting. Her living room sings in shades of orange.

            The walls in Kathy’s house are already colorful, choices of the former owners. But they are the wrong colors. When I first walked in the door I wanted to cringe. “Well, that’s interesting,” I said.

But Kathy reads me like a well-thumbed book. “Me too,” she agreed. “The colors are from a Gothic movie setting.” In the two weeks she’s here in September, I’ll enjoy helping her mix paint to get the shades she wants.

I wish Nancie could stay longer. The bunch of us women could do serious damage, shopping and painting and laughing and planting. Nancie wishes Nancie could stay longer.

Since Kathy will be here in two weeks, I have a shopping request for her. Last week I broke the clasp on my ancient tea ball. My tea strainer, of unknown vintage, is full of holes. Despite my stingy use of my fill-your-own bags, my supply didn’t last forever. What is a woman to do?

My first choice is a siege-mentality supply of tea bags, the kind one fills oneself. I first found them in a tea shop, now long closed, in Poulsbo, Washington. Mine were of white mesh, from China. One spoons in the amount of tea leaves one desires, closes them like an envelope and plops them into the tea pot. Pour on boiling water. Voila! No muss. No fuss.

Since Kathy’s husband Richard works in Victoria, a mecca of exotic tea shops for tea lovers, I asked Richard if he might find me some tea bags.

Richard said he’s never heard of my tea bags but he can get me a lovely fine-mesh strainer like his. Well, that is sweet, Richard, but for a few pesos, I can pick up a strainer (made in China), not as nice as yours, but serviceable.

This morning over breakfast Nancie admitted she never once, in the three weeks she’s been here, thought about needing or wanting to go home to Washington. We schemed how to convince Kathy and Richard they need to become residents here sooner rather than later. This seems to be a place where all our cares fall to the side. Is it the place? Or is it that we’ve created an atmosphere which allows our spirits to relax.

Come fall, Nancie and Pat, Kathy and Richard, and people I’ve not yet met will be here, occupying their homes through the winter months.

Nancie is on the way to the airport in Guadalajara. I’m waiting for the welder to show up with my new back gate. Tripod, my neighbor’s beautiful shepherd (who had an intimate experience with a weed-eater blade), came for a visit. He likes me to scruff his neck. The kettle is boiling. Maybe I’ll have Richard get me the nice tea strainer after all. Time for my cup of tea.

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

August 18, 2016

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