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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tears, Tea, and Tomatoes

I have not been posting for awhile for a number of reasons. One being that I have been in a funk. My cat, Grace, took a downturn and had to be 'put to sleep' a couple of weeks ago. I have been so sad and missing her so much that it has been paralyzing.

The state of the world and my personal life have led me to believe that life is meaningless and that everything I have been doing is worthless. Knowing at a deeper level that these thoughts are a trick and that I must not succumb to them, I have been spending more time with friends and going to Master Gardener activities, which are interesting, connected to nature and free.

I can now say this strategy has worked to move me out of depression and renewed my sense of purpose.

Spent a delightful afternoon at a Master Gardener book club meeting and tomato tasting. So many varieties, colors and flavors. We also sampled dishes made with tomatoes including green tomato pickles, tomato jelly and tomato chutney.

The book everyone was reading was East Wind Melts the Ice by Liza Dalby and she came and did a talk about the book and some of her experiences in Japan. In Japanese culture, the year is divided into 72 seasons that last 5 days each. The book goes through the year and each of the seasons. A very different way of looking a the cycles of nature.

I was intrigued by her because she is a cultural anthropologist who writes both non-fiction and fiction and has credibility in both genres.

Many years ago when I wanted to become a writer, I went back to school in a doctoral program thinking that would 'force' me to write. Well, yes it did, but not in the way I wanted. There is a huge difference between scholarly writing and writing for the public. In her case, after she finished her doctorate and was teaching at the University of Chicago, she realized she also wanted to write fiction. She and I discussed the differences between the styles of writing and the audience.

I was inspired after talking with her to get back to my novel. It is so good to meet someone who is successful at what you want to do - being a writer with an anthropological perspective. She lives nearby and I hope to develop a friendship with her.

Liza studied to be a geisha and did her anthropological fieldwork in Japan. Her website

Just a couple of days before, I had gone to a viewing of The Meaning of Tea, by Scott Chamberlin Hoyt at Traditional Medicinals in Sebastopol. Japan was one of the countries featured in the movie. Others were Morocco, England, France, Taiwan and India.

Four of the people I went to Morocco with were at the film showing. Robin, Shelley, Dorothy, Huck and I went on the Plant Lovers Tour of Morocco in 2007 with Rosemary Gladstar. A memorable trip where we drank a lot of tea.