I’ve never been a coffee drinker. Every once in a while, I’ll have a sip or two of my husband’s mocha, if it’s chocolaty enough, and only if I’m really tired and need the caffeine or if it’s really cold outside and I need the warmth. Two things turned me away from coffee. One, when I was around age four and in daycare at our babysitter Fran’s house, Fran was having coffee and watching “All My Children.” I had stopped napping by that point, but I had to lay there on my mat until all the other children fell asleep and then I could get up. I realize now that that was Fran’s way to see if I might fall asleep (and perhaps sometimes I did). I thought it was just to make sure it looked fair to other kids, which could also be true. When all the kids were asleep, Fran had her coffee and watched her soaps. When I didn’t nap, I sat with Fran on the couch and watched too, and one time, I asked what her coffee tasted like. She let me try a sip and it was the worst thing I had ever tasted, besides the liver and onions my dad made every once in a while and forced us to eat. We had to sit at the table until our plates were clean. My brother and I would slip some in our pockets or store it in our cheeks until we could escape and either flush it down the toilet or feed it to the dog. Upon tasting Fran’s coffee, I decided I never wanted to have that again. Ditto for the liver and onions.
The second excuse I always give when asked why I don’t drink coffee, is that I wanted to spare my children the misery on Christmas morning. When we were little, my brother and I would wake up early on Christmas, as kids do, and go wake up our parents, barely able to contain ourselves, wanting to get to those stockings as quickly as we could. The first thing my parents always said was, “OK, but first we have to make our coffee,” and that was the most excruciating wait we ever had to endure. I made a vow to never make my children go through that. I think the real reason is that I just don’t like the taste and haven’t ever attempted to acquire it.
I never did get in the habit of needing one particular thing to get me up in the morning or get me through the afternoon. Sometimes I drink water, other times orange juice or milk and when wanting to warm up or slow down my day, I make myself a nice cup of tea or hot chocolate. I find tea so soothing and it’s always a sweet thing to share when having someone over to visit or to have all by myself when sitting down to read a book or do some writing. For me, having tea is self care. I love chamomile, or earl grey with some honey and fresh squeezed lemon, or Good Earth Sweet and Spicy, among others. One of my more recent favorite tea moments was this past summer when visiting my grandma in Montana. I hadn’t seen her in a few years and happened to be on a retreat in her area. I booked my return flight one day later so I could spend a day and evening with my grandma, Patricia. So there we were, the two Patricias, on a Sunday night, in our PJs, sitting on my grandma’s sofa. We had finished a nice al fresco dinner on her patio (having eaten a light, fit-for-women meal; quiche and a salad with pear, goat cheese and nuts) and now she was wondering what we should do. I suggested having some tea, because it seemed like that was what one should do when you were with your grandma. We sipped tea, looked at photo albums and told family stories late into the evening. A perfect time with Grandma!
I envision a special place for making memories like that in my dollhouse. In a perfect world, in my dollhouse, I make more time for tea with family and friends. Life is slow and calm and sweet. I decided to make the dining room a grand place, filled with rich colors of dark wood and golds. I didn’t have a table big enough for the space, so for the time being, or maybe forever, I’m using a table I made from some wood I trimmed down and vintage wooden spools for legs. I had a beautiful handkerchief from my great-grandmother, Florence Cambell Gould. It’s white and lacy and has Cambell written in very tiny letters in the center of the fabric. This sat in a drawer filled with special linens until I realized what a nice dollhouse tablecloth it would make. Only it wasn’t quite big enough, so I sewed a gold patterned tablecloth to go under it from some fabric I had and it blended beautifully with the room.
The tea set came from a dear friend, an older gentleman who had heard me mention both my dollhouse and how receiving it was a homecoming of sorts for me and also about my special meeting place with God. I had drawn a picture once of a bench with vines and flowers growing around it, in the shape of a heart. When I needed to talk to God, I would envision that place, that special bench. God and I would sit there, sometimes next to one another or sometimes with my head in His lap and I would feel such comfort. I would sip tea and talk over the things that were troubling me. What a surprise when this sweet gentleman brought me a little bench and a tea set for my dollhouse!
Here, the table is set for two, an intimate get together. I connect best one on one and prefer talking about life, memories, spirituality, creativity, philosophy, history, languages, music and art. Of course one needs candles. The candlesticks came from a generous freecycler. I painted them gold to match the rest of the room and made candles from some sticky wax I had, rolling them around pieces of thread to look like a wick was poking out. I wish I had chairs made from dark wood, but this is what I have for now and it’s still beautiful. It’s time for tea. Anybody like to join me?