Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Farmer´s Donkey

One day a farmer´s donkey fell into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do.

Finally, he decided the animal was old and the well needed to be covered up anyway, it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey. He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly.

Then, to everyone's amazement, he quieted down. A few shovel loads later, the farmer looked down the well and was astonished at what he saw. With every shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off!

Life is going to shovel dirt on you _ all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up.

I came across this, this morning in my "Enjoying Everyday Life" mag from Joyce Meyer ministries and felt like it echoed a little my week. I have been feeling a little bit like the donkey in the well and looking around and crying about the dirt being shoveled me! This story is an encouragement to me to not give up...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Cup of tea anyone?

I couldn't resist sharing some educational and humorous light on this wonderful English Tradition especially for my American and Non English friends!!! (Actually some very dear American friends of mine not only make a wonderful cup of tea, but know how to appreciate it as well!)

There is a very simple principle to the making of tea and it's this - to get the proper flavour of tea, the water has to be boiling (not boiled) when it hits the tea leaves. If it's merely hot then the tea will be insipid.

That's why we English have these odd rituals, such as warming the teapot first (so as not to cause the boiling water to cool down too fast as it hits the pot). And that's why the American(or non English) habit of bringing a teacup, a tea bag and a pot of hot water to the table is merely the perfect way of making a thin, pale, watery cup of tea that nobody in their right mind would want to drink.

The Americans are all mystified about why the English make such a big thing out of tea because most Americans have never had a good cup of tea. That's why they don't understand. In fact the truth of the matter is that most English people don't know how to make tea any more either, and most people drink cheap instant coffee instead, which is a pity, and gives Americans the impression that the English are just generally clueless about hot stimulants.

Thomas DeQuincy (1875-1959)
Confession of an English Opium Eater Tea, though ridiculed by those who are naturally coarse in their nervouse sensibilities... will always be the favored beverage of the intellectual.

The socially correct way of pouring tea is to put the milk in after the tea. Social correctness has traditionally had nothing whatever to do with reason, logic or physics. In fact, in England it is generally considered socially incorrect to know stuff or think about things.

Dr. George Orwell has written an article, naming 10 points he considers important in achieving the perfect cup of tea and I wanted to add his final points to compliment the already quality educational insight I have shared until now:

  • Tenthly, one should pour tea into the cup first. This is one of the most controversial points of all; indeed in every family in Britain there are probably two schools of thought on the subject. The milk-first school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments, but I maintain that my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round.
  • Lastly, tea — unless one is drinking it in the Russian style — should be drunk without sugar. I know very well that I am in a minority here. But still, how can you call yourself a true tea lover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put in pepper or salt. Tea is meant to be bitter, just as beer is meant to be bitter. If you sweeten it, you are no longer tasting the tea, you are merely tasting the sugar; you could make a very similar drink by dissolving sugar in plain hot water.

    Some people would answer that they don't like tea in itself, that they only drink it in order to be warmed and stimulated, and they need sugar to take the taste away. To those misguided people I would say: Try drinking tea without sugar for, say, a fortnight and it is very unlikely that you will ever want to ruin your tea by sweetening it again.
The above has provided great insight about the tradition and technicalities into the art of tea making, but I believe there are still some outstanding points that need to be mentioned so that our tea drinking is the complete an enriching experience it should be!

Henry James
There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.

Having a cup of tea must be accompanied by a break in activity. One must sit down and relax. If tea is to be enjoyed, it must one´s focus of attention. It can only be shared by one thing: good company, This is the other axis to the tea experience. Good friends, sitting down with a few minutes of relax time and this is tea par excellence!

I once said that an invitation to a cup of tea is the invitation for friendship. It says, you are valuable to me, let´s spend some time together. If the tea is a"nice cup of tea" then the ensemble is complete and the experience thoroughly enriching!

~Catherine Douzel
Each cup of tea represents an imaginary voyage.

I thank God that I have good friends (Americans , English and non-English!!) who have learned to appreciate a good cup of tea and accept the invitation of friendship. I do believe that drinking tea is one of the few remnants left in me of my English upbringing! Maybe that is why embrace it so dearly!

Colley Cibber (1671-1757)

The Lady's Last Stake, Act 1, Scene 1

Tea! thou soft, sober, sage and venerable liquid;
- thou female tongue-running, smile-smoothing,
heart-opening, wink-tippling cordial,
to whose glorious insipidity I owe the happiest moments of my life.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


put in opposition to show or emphasize differences;
the opposition or dissimilarity of things that are compared
the act of distinguishing by comparing differences

This weekend Dh and I had the privilege of staying in a 5 star hotel in Oporto, Portugal. Wow, wow, wow! Yes, indeed! It was a special gift certificate from my dear sis in law for Christmas! All we had to do was: get there...which we did...using Ryan Air (for next to nothing!)

The hotel was, naturally, out of this world! Our room was an Executive Room, decorated with modern style geometric furniture, very fashionable chocolate brown curtains and accessories, plus "sink your feet into it" luscious beige pile carpet. The bathroom had a Japanese flavor, with heated marble floors and towel racks!

We mustn't forget to mention the two hotel bathrobes and matching slippers that hung invitingly in the bathroom (reminded me of Pretty Woman) and the twice a day chambre services which included a special "pull the bed down" treatment at night with ferrero roches on the pillows! There was of course a plasma tv and other typical hotel commodities that made "the cherry on the cake" to this nothing lacking hotel stay experience.

On a lighter note, I must add that the wall to wall mirror in the bedroom and bathrooms, although giving a feeling of expansion and light, made one somewhat self conscious and not very flattering to say the least! After all, I am no longer 18 !

We arrived at this destination of dreams around lunch time and then later on in the afternoon we discovered a Lidl (very economical supermarket chain - to not use the word cheap!) and bought a few little bits and bobs like water, nuts etc) We smuggled this back into our room and enjoyed our treats while watching the travel channel!

It´s amazing isnt it? Here we were in the "lap of luxury" sipping down sparkling water that cost 40 cents and not the 4 Euros 4 0 cents that the minibar service offered! I couldn't help but ponder the contrast of our situation and let out a little giggle!

We both knew too well that we really didn't "belong" to the typical 5 star hotel profile. We ar
en't part of the jet set who call for room service, use the hotel bathrobes or drink the sparkling water without batting an eyelid! Yet here we were here enjoying every detail of this amazing situation! What a contrast! What a contradiction!

Yes, life can be full of contradictions! You can be sad and happy at the same time (especially women have this capacity during pregnancy and monthly hormonal fluctuations!) poor in finance and rich in family, dreams and reality, living on earth yet belonging to heaven, servant and king....

Jesus was a servant... yet a King.... what a contrast, what a contradiction! At least to our human thinking, our "limited" dimension. In the Spiritual dimension these apparent contrasts and contradictions begin to make sense, take on real value and make possibilities out of problems.

It makes me think of the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:1-11

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

Blessed are thos who mourn...for they will be comforted
Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth...

God calls blessed what we would call the opposite.... God sees everything in the light of who HE is and what He CAN DO.....I am reminded today that even though I felt uncomfortable with the contrast of drinking my Lidl sparkling water in a 5 star hotel, God does not feel uncomfortable or limited with the impossibility of my life´s life´s questions...

Sadly some of life´s contrasts cause us pain. It´s inevitable. But there is a place where every tear will be wiped from our eyes and there will be no more pain. God does say that on this earth we will suffer all kinds of trials, but he does promise us not only that he will be with us now...but also that he has gone to prepare a place for us..... and it for sure is better than any 5 star!!!!!

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father´s house are many rooms. If it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am"......... John 14.-3

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Family day out to see the planes!

On the first Sunday of every month (except January and August!) Madrid´s museum of historic planes, offers an exhibition of their planes both in flight and on land from one of the oldest airports in Madrid: Cuatro Vientos.

I was so excited, that I woke up at 7:00am. I think my enthusiasm was contagious because each one of us (including no 2!!!!) was anxious to arrive. It took about 1hr to get there, but the trip was well worth it!

These planes, dating back as far as 1925, were a real sight to behold. Not only are they well maint
ained, but it is so beautiful when you can contemplate them from so close up. Some people even got to sit in them... not me... a bit green I was actually....but hey... some day.

There were so many bi planes which are my very favorites! That said, the plane I admired most in this exhibition was not a biplane but one of the earlier commercial airplanes with seating for about 10 max a Beechcraft 18 Spantax, The plane you see above. But all in all, a fantastic treat especially for me!

No 1 took all the photos.... all 96 of them, which obviously I will not include in this post.!! The air show was sooooooooo exciting and was topped off by some very daring acrobatic stunts that made you hold you breath and clap your hands furiously, although I don´t know why... the pilot can´t hear the applause!

This was a really good day.... and I enjoyed every minute.....I am truly blessed.. I am happy!

"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best,"
and then he had to stop and think.
Because although Eating Honey
was a very good thing to do,
there was a moment just before
you began to eat it which was
better than when you were,
but he didn't know what it was called.
~A.A. Milne