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To Oregon and Back Again

Last week, my mom’s much-beloved cat passed away, so this weekend, looking for some different scenery, the two of us took a trip to Oregon. I’m not quite ready to talk about the cat on this blog, and honestly I’m not sure if I will be any time soon (or maybe ever), but Oregon was lovely. There’s just something about the forest, all those towering trees, and a beautiful sky overhead.

A few wonderful things about Oregon, on a very quick pass through (part of) the southern edge:

  • I hate to sound like a broken record, but the scenery really is gorgeous.
  • No sales tax!
  • They pump gas for you, which I’m sure is quite nice when it’s chilly or rainy outside. (Although the weather was pretty good this time through–very little rain, and not as cold as it could’ve been.)

Of course, there is something to be said for California, and the sun, as well. So wherever you live, I hope you’re all having a splendid Monday! And that if you can’t travel at the moment, you enjoy these pictures from a weekend on the road.

 

Reading vs. Rereading

*Note: There is always the possibility that you have some incredible spoiler sense, but I have tried to keep this spoiler-free.

A few years ago, I read Cinder, by Marissa Meyer, basically because I like fairy tale retellings. I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t my stand-out book of the year or anything. (Although, to be fair, that was the same year I read The Hunger Games, so there was some pretty stiff competition.) I kept up with the series more or less as the books were released, not bothering to reread, until Winter, when suddenly… this wasn’t working.

I don’t blame Winter for that–honestly, considering that I’ve been reading this series one book at a time over a period of years, I’m surprised that I managed to go so long without rereading, and without (to my recollection) feeling lost during each new installment. Hats off to Marissa Meyer for that.

But now, finally, I set out to reread the series. And I discovered that this time, I liked–not just appreciated, or understood, but likedCinder more than I had the first time through. The characters, the setting, the structure–it connected in a way that it hadn’t, at least as far as I can remember, on that first read. It was all comforting and familiar and fun.

I’m sure people have said this before, or similar things (Nabokov’s quote comes to mind), but it makes me think that maybe some books are meant to be reread more than they’re meant to be read. Sort of like wine aging in a cellar (that’s a wine thing, right?), or (possibly?) the second brewing of some teas: it’s not the first read you’re really after. That’s not the ultimate, top-notch vintage of this particular book. It’s the second, or third, or whatever read.

Or maybe it’s similar to how sometimes, life circumstances can make a first read powerful: events completely outside an author’s control can nevertheless have a huge impact on how much that book hits home. That can happen with a reread, too. And while theoretically we should know it’s coming, since by definition this is our second/third/whatever time through the book, we can still be surprised, because we really don’t know what kind of chemical reaction will happen when life and book meet until we start reading.

For me, on this reread, I think it’s a combination of the two. Now if only I can get myself to reread a little faster, because as it turns out, enjoying a reread doesn’t make me devour a book at any great speed. The urgency is decidedly gone. It’s a much more leisurely kind of fun.

That could be a whole other post. But since this post has already gone on way longer than it should’ve (I’m sorry, injured hand!), I’ll wish you all a happy Monday, and happy reading! Or rereading, as the case may be.

Resting

My hand got injured, so I’m taking it easy today. Hopefully it will be better soon, and I’ll be back to typing normally, but in the meantime… I don’t know. Here’s this picture of my stuffed cat, Duncan, reading a book.

Reading Scarlet

The book Duncan is reading, as you may have noticed, is Scarlet, by Marissa Meyer. Duncan has great taste in books. Because he’s a smallish cat, he’s using a “book chair,” which is also awesome. (Closest link here, if you’re curious–I’m not sure it’s the same company, since I got mine ages ago, but anyway.)

And with that bit of random silliness (about the cat, not the book–Scarlet really is a fun read/reread), happy Tuesday to you all! I hope life is treating you well!

I am comfortable with the size of this room. (Blog. Whatever.)

I promised myself that I would do this post when I got to 50 followers. (Well, sort of. I thought about it, and now I’m doing it.) Which, by the way, thank you to everyone who’s followed this blog, liked posts, and commented! Now I’m going to talk about how you all freak me out.

Seriously, though–I love getting likes/comments/follows. Who doesn’t? It’s actually become kind of a game for me; I never know what you guys are going to respond to, so it’s fun for me to discover what you like. And of course, getting positive responses is lovely, just in general.

That having been said, I usually have quite a bit of anxiety before hitting “Publish.” It’s ironic; for someone who wants to write for a living, I’m quite terrible at sharing my work. (I sort of talked about that here, but I don’t recommend reading that post. It’s long.) Like a lot of writers, no doubt, I’m naturally shy. Not as shy as I used to be, but in some ways, it seems I’m still the sort of person who thinks she wants to be in the spotlight, but then once the spotlight is actually on her, gets awkward and uncomfortable and tries to get out of it as fast as possible.

So that’s kind of what I mean by saying I’m comfortable with the size of this room. (Or blog.) Sharing things can be a lot of fun, but I mostly prefer to stick with individual conversations or maybe small groups of people. And that’s what this blog feels like right now: a small room, where I can talk about some things that are on my mind, without a whole lot of pressure. Except maybe for the imaginary kind.

That’s not to say I’m against more people following–if I wasn’t open to that idea, I wouldn’t have made this a public blog. I guess I’m just saying that I’m grateful for where I am right now. It’s so easy for me to lose track of that, to get caught up in wanting more. But this, right now: this is kind of working for me. It’s probably not a bad idea to appreciate that a little.

So thank you all for not scaring me back into my shell! I hope you enjoy your time in this little corner of the Internet at least as much as I enjoy putting these posts together. Ideally with less nervousness.

With that, I return you to your regularly-scheduled Monday events, and what I hope is your own wonderful, happy corner of the world.

And for those of you who might be stopping by here for the first time… I’m sorry. I was going to put in a random picture as consolation, but I couldn’t find anything that satisfied me. Enjoy this old picture that you probably haven’t seen before instead.

Not Better compareOh, oops, that’s not very comforting. But it sort of fits with the theme of the post, yes?

Cooking Journal

Food Journal and PenI should have known this would happen. Making breakfast burritos turned out to be so easy (and, once I got the method down, the results were so delicious) that it’s sucked me into the dark side of actually wanting to cook.

Mind you, that’s not to say I’m going straight into gourmet chef territory. I’m still looking for things that are quick, easy, and don’t use too many pots and pans.

To help me keep track of all of this, I’ve conscripted this mini Eccolo. It’s kind of a victory for me, actually using a notebook I already had instead of going out to buy a new one. And who knows? Maybe some of those foods will make it onto this blog as well. (In picture form, at least.)

So, sorry, that’s all I have for you today. I’m just happy about starting a new journal, and I felt like blogging about it. I hope Wednesday is treating you all well, though! And with any luck, treating you to some delicious food.

San Francisco Tea Weekend

Lately I’ve been wondering if it would be a good idea to switch to loose-leaf tea. It seems like it might be a more ethical way of drinking tea, and it’s also arguably a small thing that’s quite doable for me–most days, I only drink one cup of tea (maybe two), and I technically have enough time to make that cup a good one. So this weekend, I decided to investigate some tea shops in San Francisco and Berkeley, along with my friend Grace. (Follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube! There might even be some pictures of me somewhere on one of those accounts, thus proving that I am a real person.)

The city was lovely, and the tea shops were a lot of fun. Here are the ones we visited, in order:

Red Blossom was definitely my favorite, in terms of both the particular teas that I like, and the price (not all their teas worked with my budget, but there were some good ones that did). I also really liked that you could open up the canisters and smell the tea without having to ask someone behind a counter to get things down. (Smelling teas: both fun and surprising.) That having been said, though, I didn’t have bad experiences at any of the tea shops. Unless you count not being able to make up my mind, and not having infinite money to spend on every tea that interested me.

We ended up buying teas from two of the places. From Red Blossom Tea Company, we bought keemun, genmaicha, and lychee black tea. And from Asha Tea House, I got the House Blend Assam. Then, the next evening, Grace and I tried brewing these teas for ourselves. (By which I mean that Grace brewed the teas, really. It worked out great for me.) The teas were still lovely, and we’re not loose-leaf experts or anything, so that bodes well for the future. I even managed to make some tea myself this morning, despite my complete lack of an infuser. And it was delicious.

All in all, I’d definitely like to try some more loose-leaf teas and tea shops. But the next step, for now: to try drinking only loose-leaf for a few days, and see if my taste buds notice the difference when confronted with bagged tea again. (My taste buds are not generally very picky about tea, so all bets are off there.)

Other notes:

  • Thanks to this article for helping start this particular adventure!
  • Loose-leaf tea is not as hard as I thought. You can tell because I made it, and enjoyed it. (Thanks to another article for helping clarify some things.) Supplies I used (aside from tea and water, of course): water heating device, spoon (for scooping out tea), measuring cup (for steeping the leaves–great because it pours really well), a sieve (for catching the tea leaves), and a mug.
  • Loose-leaf tea also does seem to taste subtler than bagged tea, but this might be partially because I expect it to. It also smells wonderful–not just in those splendid canisters, but the actual cup of tea. I don’t know if I’ve ever noticed that about bagged tea before.
  • I don’t mean for the book/reading/maybe-sometimes-writing posts to go away! I’ve just been enjoying life-type things recently.

As ever, happy Monday to you all! And now off to make another cup of tea work. Definitely work.