Dear Tea Friends,
I’ve had the privilege of sharing my tea adventures with you via my newsletter for several years. Every week brings new subscribers from across the country and around the world. Many people wrote, and some even phoned me, to comment on December’s newsletter about my mother’s tumbleweed Christmas tree. I’m delighted that you were touched by her brave and generous spirit.
The gray sky outside my office window is exactly the color of the four pigeons huddled under the scrolled pediment of the brick building across the street. The only spot of color is the bunch of yellow tulips in the grocer’s window. I’d say it’s raining cats and dogs, only there’s not a single critter on the street. One of my ex-pat English kitties, Scout, has made herself cozy in a nest of brown packing materials in a cardboard box full of flyers, and Moggie is sound asleep in her basket under a wooden bench in the living room.
Years ago, when I worked as an account executive for an advertising promotion firm in New York City, I promised myself that one day I would work in a less stressful environment. I didn’t care how glamorous the clients were, it wasn’t pretty when grown men screamed at each other across a football field-sized conference table over whether or not there should be bread crumbs next to the crumpled napkin in a photograph for a national restaurant chain’s campaign. Equal hysteria over whether or not there should be steam rising from the soup bowls.
Sometimes, when I was supposed to be taking notes to be shared with the art department, I’d look out the window, 30 floors above Sixth Avenue, mentally picturing a nicer work environment. What would that look like? Well, I’d have a window filled with plants, my own radio, tuned to the kind of music I liked, and an office pet to pat when things got tense. I’d have a message board stuffed with subversive cartoons and photos of the exotic places I’d vacationed. There’d be a big teapot, not a coffee urn, and I would have a shorter commute so I could make dinner before 9:00 p.m.
Flash forward 15 years, and even though it’s a gloomy gray day, I’ve got sunshine inside, because every one of those wishes came true. But things have been a bit tense lately. My new book, CELTIC TEAS WITH FRIENDS, Teatime Traditions from Cornwall, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, is finally at the printer’s. Although this is my fourth book, it is the first time that I’ve been the one to hire the illustrator, book designer and editor, and the first time that I will be responsible for sales, rather than receive a royalty.
I’m very fortunate to have such a wonderful creative team. Illustrator Hugh Harrison is an old friend and the fact that he’s English means that I didn’t have to explain a single thing to him about tea traditions, such as the difference between high tea and afternoon tea. It was so refreshing to be greeted with “Shall I put the kettle on?” whenever I visited his cat and plant filled brownstone studio. Cat-lover Susan Newman, who is also my Web designer, was an art director for three New York publishing houses before starting her own business, www.susannewmandesign.com. Editor John Crittenden is also an award-wining editor for a major newspaper. We’ve all worked feverishly to get the book completed and hope to see the results in 8 weeks. You may take a sneak peek on my website www.teawithfriends.com. I’m taking preorders now, retail and wholesale.
When I was working in Japan last summer I was introduced to the tradition of buying a Daruma/ Bodhidharma doll when starting a new venture. Named for the Buddhist monk who founded Zen, and some say introduced the island to tea, this roly-poly doll has no arms or legs. He tips over easily but always rights himself, so Daruma is revered as a symbol of optimism. The doll’s face sports a moustache and beard, but the eyes are blank circles. You’re supposed to make a wish and paint in the right eye with black ink. The left eye is left blank until the wish is granted.
This was fresh in my mind when I bought a white teapot sprigged with shamrocks when I began to write Celtic Teas With Friends. I taped the lid shut and placed it on my desk where I could see it every day. Even on gray days, I’ve not lost my optimism. I’ll cut the tape and make a pot of tea in it the day I hold my new book in my hands.
If you’d like to read about my Japanese tea adventures, pick up the March/April issue of TeaTime magazine.
Slide show: http://www.okitsu-kyoto.com
To learn about other articles, please visit: http://www.teawithfriends.com/writer.php
I’ve listed my appearances below, but in future I’m planning to communicate via a blog, http://worldinateacup.blogspot.com. This will allow me to be in touch more often and, I hope, learn more about all of you!
Sat., March 29th
For details, click here >>
Sat, April 5th
1st seating: 11:00 a.m.
Speaker: 11:30 - 11:45/11:50
Book signing: 12:30-1:30
2nd seating: 2:30 p.m.
Speaker: 3:00 - 3:15/3:20
Book signing: 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
814 S. Main Street
Bel Air, MD 21014
410-838-8611 (Ask for Erin)
Sun., April 6th, Noon
315 Bridge St.
New Cumberland, PA
717-774-8789 (ask for Cindy Washburn)
Sun., April 6th , 6:00 p.m.
The Rosemary House
120 South Market St.
717- 697-5111 (Ask for Susanna Reppert-Brill)
Sat. May 31, 8:30-9:30 a.m.
World Tea Expo, Las Vegas, NV