Wednesday, February 17, 2010


(5 of my favorite cloche/bell and near cloche styled hats. The black lace trimmed one in the middle was a gift from Paula.)

In case you haven’t noticed from my profile picture or other random photos on this blog, my favorite hats just so happen to be cloches. The name of course is French for Bell. I’ve acquired many of them over the years and must say that one of my favorite cloches was given to me by a dear friend and Tea Society member, Paula Porter. In memory of Paula’s long battle with cancer, for others battling this disease, and for Barry’s triumphant completion of chemotherapy, I shall toss my bell shaped hat in the air and clap and rejoice in honor of all of you. Congratulations Barry!

This is for you!

Chemo at
Long last is
Over now
Embrace and rejoice


Monday, February 15, 2010


Ah, February, the month were if you’re an avid gardener, like me, the indoor seed sewing and garden planning begins this month. I gather my garden design magazines and books, mosey to the tall window in the stairwell where I can peer down into the garden, and begin to dream. This is always followed by an annual vow to keep on top of weeding this year, in spite of the heavy humid days of July and August. That shall not deter me! For I will have my trusty wide brimmed straw garden hat, to shelter my skin, and endeavor to pluck and pull away with St. Francis and the birds to keep me company.

This year, however, I am finally planning to do something that I have always wanted to do, grow my own tea garden. No, not an herbal tea( infusion) garden; I already have a corner herb garden, but a real container tea garden where I will grow the Camellia Sinensis to have my own organically home grown tea. Granted, in a contained state it would yield very small quantities, but just enough for an occasional treat. Can it be done in a town garden, outside the ideal conditions found in a lush tea plantation? Of course it can! Though, I must consider that my single plant Tea Garden will not winter over here in Zone 6. Therefore, it must be kept in a container which will have to be brought indoors to be nurtured through the cold winter months. Much to my delight, I have been reassured by some tea purveyors and nurseries that it can indeed be done with fairly good results.

In researching what will be required to grow this wonderful plant, I have discovered that this will be not only a challenging experiment, but also an act of exercising great patience on my part. It will require patience because it takes 3 years before the plant will be ready for the tea leaves to be harvested. That will make it challenging because, sadly, patience is not a virtue that I am known to possess. However, this information is not a deterrent, but rather a motivator telling me that I need to try my hand at this. I will also keep a Tea gardening Journal here on this blog to make me accountable to the entire blogosphere for my Tea cultivating adventures.

Facts about growing Camellia Sinensis:

Camellia Sinensis plants are actually trees, which in cultivation are pruned to 2-5 feet. They are evergreen plants with fragrant white flowers appearing in fall making them attractive for ornamental use. The plant likes well-drained and sandy acidic soil. If growing ‘tea’ in a container, add sphagnum moss to the potting mix.


Monday, February 08, 2010


( Muse Within )

For this week’s Creative Tuesday theme, Muse , I did a simple pen and ink line drawing.

My ‘muses’ are always artists from the past. Of course the Pre-Raphaelite painters hold the greatest inspiration for me, along with 19th century Paris Academe masters. The latter required their students/apprentices to use sculpture from antiquity as models to perfect the human form and I do this with my students as well. I actually still use a lot of statuary for models in my own drawings/illustrations, altering them in subtle ways, even idealizing them to reflect a certain mood or to give a particular appearance. This drawing was a combination of those influences and resources. My ancient muse here is gazing into a mirror, searching for her own inner muse.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


( A view from my red-walled parlor with a print of Rossetti's A Sea Spell above the fireplace mantel. This is my favorite spot to cuddle up with a hot cuppa Earl Grey and a good book. )

Hold then thy heart against her shining hair,
If, by thy fate, she spread it once for thee,
For when she nets a young man in that snare
So twine she him he never may be free.

(Lilith, translated from Goethe by Dante Gabriel Rossetti)

They peer out from beyond their idealized existence, skin luminescent glowing and flawless, faces belonging to goddesses, saints, and sirens. Their heavy lidded eyes stare dreamily off into a distant alter- reality. Their feminine mystique exudes through their full ruby red lips. They manifest into our world by way of rich vibrant paint on canvas, straight out of ancient mythology and medieval legend.

Commanding, powerful bodies, languid swanlike necks, and striking features almost always served as a prerequisite in order for these women to be christened a “stunner”, an affectionate term given to their specially selected models by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Morris, and A. Charles Swinburne. Rossetti and company elevated common, mortal, milliner’s assistants, shop girls, daughters, and mothers to tragic heroines and romanticized deities.

Perhaps the most peculiar feature that these seductive creatures often had in common was their flowing red hair. This was an attribute greatly desired by the above mentioned artists, among others, of the period.

Below is an offering of some of my favorite Rossetti's, all featuring one of his beloved "stunners", Alexa Wilding. She is seen in all her glory with alluring fiery serpentine red hair so often associated with that of a Pre-Raphaelite muse.

(A Sea Spell, Rossetti)

(Veronica Veronese, Rossetti)

(Lady Lilith, Rossetti)

( Roman Window, Rossetti)

Monday, February 01, 2010


(Image from Kerala Tea Garden)

Tea Garden

In this world
it is easy to travel
to new places and fascinating landscapes.
What matters is
that we lift the veil from our eyes,
open ourselves to a new voyage of perception,
and arrive in paradise.

From Looking Deeply into Tea
By Shelley Richardson