Celestial Seasonings Tea and Tour

Celestial Seasonings Tour Center

Celestial Seasonings Tour Center

We toured the Celestial Seasonings factory in Boulder on our recent visit. The tour is free and includes the opportunity to sample several hot and iced teas. It was raining the entire time we were there, making it all the more delicious. There is nothing quite like hot tea on a rainy day, especially when there’s a fun tour in the mix as well.

Celestial Seasonings Tea Room Samples

Tea Room Samples

Celestial Seasonings Rooibos Madagascar Vanilla

My current favorite, and an award winner too * Celestial Seasonings Rooibos Madagascar Vanilla

I grew up drinking black tea, mostly Red Rose Tea, a Canadian brand dating back more than a century. My dad drank tea, so of course my sister and I wanted to drink tea, too. Mom on the other hand drank black, instant coffee. [Shudder].

Over the years I switched from black tea with milk and sugar to tea with just sugar. Then Celestial Seasonings came along in the seventies, and I was an herbal convert.

The tour guide pointed out that 80% of what they produce is not actually tea, but an herbal infusion.  It’s all “tea” to me, and I’m happy to consume green, Jasmine, Rooibos, also know as redbush, and vanilla flavored herbals.

As factories go, Celestial Seasonings is small. They have a simple assembly line, along with pallets of herbs and spices stacked floor to ceiling. I also loved the fact that the equipment used for packaging the tea dates back to the forties. They essentially recycled an assembly line once used for packing cereal. There is one special room set aside for peppermint and spearmint. The mint is quite potent, and would quickly infuse all the other ingredients if stored together. The moment you walk into the room your eyes water and your sinuses open. It was quite an experience. It’s no wonder mint tea is so good when you have a cold.

One of the things I liked when the teas first hit the market, were the pretty designs on the package along with an inspiring quote. Sleepy Time was the first of two herbal blends, and remains the most popular around the world.

Celestial Seasonings original art department

Celestial Seasonings original art department

Celestial Seasonings origin story

Celestial Seasonings origin story

The “ticket” for the tour is a twin package of tea bags. There are several urns of brewed tea in the tea room. You’re issued a small ceramic mug when you walk in the door, and you’re free to sample as many and as often as you like. The tea room is also an art gallery, featuring several of the artists who’ve designed the clever packages over the years.

Celestial Seasonings original art work

Celestial Seasonings original art work

You can pose with the Sleepy Time Bear, or nip in to the mythical scene from the original packaging.

Sleepy Time Tea Room

Yours truly in the Sleepy Time Tea Room

Like any self-respecting enterprise, the factory tour exits via the gift shop. You’ll get no complaints from me, though. They sell art, greeting cards, tea of course, herbal lotions, and postcards.

Celestial Seasonings gift shop window

Celestial Seasonings gift shop window

It was a perfectly wonderful afternoon in every way.

From their website: Celestial Seasonings was founded more than 40 years ago with one goal: to provide delicious, high quality teas that are good for our customers and good for the world.

We think it’s important to share with you the steps we take to ensure that our teas are of the highest quality, deliver the great taste you expect and are produced in a way that protects the Earth’s natural resources. Celestial Seasonings and our parent company, Hain Celestial, stands up as leaders on important topics such as GMO labeling, sodium and sugar intake and animal welfare. We want to offer the best products and help our consumers make the best choices for themselves and their families.

We call our sustainability story “Blended With Care: From Seed to Sip”, and we’d like to take you through it in eight steps – from the farmers’ fields to your teacup. You can read more on their website.

So are you a tea drinker? Please let me know via the poll below.

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A Moral Obligation

#Black WomenBeing

Safety Pin Box subscription material July, 2017

A moral obligation is “a duty which one owes, and which one ought to perform, but which is not legally bound to fulfill.”

In the proverbial perfect world everyone would honor their moral obligations. We would do unto others as we would have them do unto us, regardless of race or color.

The color of your skin should be irrelevant.

Yet in this country, it’s not.

An abhorrent display of white supremacy played out in Virginia this weekend. Most who looked on are horrified.  Most.

The United States is a nation built in part on the backs of African slaves.

Slavery in America began when the first African slaves were brought to the North American colony of Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619, to aid in the production of such lucrative crops as tobacco.  Wikipedia

Saturday’s Twitter hashtag espousing #ThisIsNotUS was no doubt created as a panacea to the horrors of the white supremacist terrorism on display in Emancipation Park.  Not all white people are racist of course, but we all need to be accountable.  Yet the most profound tweets came from people like @wikepediabrown who tweeted:

When you say you repudiate the documented history & testimony of people who have endured a racist America since its inception.

I’ve been doing the emotional work this year of coming to terms with my own white privilege, an academic concept more recently brought into the mainstream via the black lives matter movement. I’ve subscribed to Colorlines, joined the NAACP and for a time attended local meetings of SURJ which stands for Showing Up for Racial Justice. Shortly after the November election I joined #Safety Pin Box for “effective measurable ally-ship. One of the early tasks asks us to evaluate our media consumption,  because “consuming media without a critical eye lowers your ability to be compassionate to marginalized people.” My personal goals are to remain open, honest, and inquisitive. My challenge is to set aside ego and understand this is not about me or my own personal defensiveness (i.e. I’m not a racist, I didn’t vote for 45, etc.)  Lilla Watson says “If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

We have a sitting president who couldn’t even manage a few sentences without dropping his nonexistent moral compass and blaming “all sides” for the atrocities that played out this weekend.

The leader of this powerful country couldn’t bring himself to voice the truth. Racism and white supremacy are alive and well in this country, emboldened when a portion of this country elected such a hateful man. After a horrific week of playing brinkmanship with the man-child running North Korea, the week ended with horrific violence on our home turf.

We have so much work to do.

Let it begin with me.

Resources:

Colorlines:  “Colorlines is a daily news site where race matters, featuring award-winning investigative reporting and news analysis. Colorlines is published by Race Forward, a national organization that advances racial justice through research, media and practice.”

NAACP: “The mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination. The vision of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is to ensure a society in which all individuals have equal rights without discrimination based on race.”

Safety Pin Box:  What is an “Ally”? “Ally” is the term commonly used to refer to someone from a privileged group who supports the efforts of oppressed people. White “allies” support Black people in their pursuit of full liberation from anti-Blackness and white supremacy. This support is given wholly and unabashedly and is demonstrated financially, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Allies to not define what it is to be an ally, rather allyship is defined by the oppressed people being supported. If Black people choose to have white people a part of their freedom work at all, they reserve the right to fully define what allyship they require.

There are many issues with “allies”, both the term itself and how it manifests practically. We use the term “ally” to broadly identify white people who looking to support Black liberation both with their resource and with their deeds.

Many will claim they are allies, few will do the work necessary to demonstrate their commitment to eradicating white supremacy. Ally work is a privilege and not a right. No white people are entitled to Black revolutionary efforts or Black spaces. Ever.”

Southern Poverty Law Center: “The Southern Poverty Law Center is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Using litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy, the SPLC works toward the day when the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity will be a reality.”

Please add your own in the comments section, below.

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Colorado Postcards

We’ve just returned from a beautiful, restful and enjoyable trip to the state of Colorado. Our friend Claire remarried in a lovely outdoor ceremony 70 miles north of Denver in a place called Fraser (population 1,200) near Winter Park. Winter Park is a major destination for skiers during the winter months, but at this time of year the area is sparsely populated and peaceful. The population nearly triples during the winter. I’m not a skier, but I can appreciate the adventure and beauty that Winter Park has to offer.

We spent the morning of the wedding in the village at Winter Park, riding the gondola and enjoying the vistas before driving to nearby Fraser.

Winter Park Village, Winter Park, Colorado

Winter Park Village, Winter Park, Colorado

What a unique wedding! The ceremony took place outside with cool weather and a few thunderclaps but no rain. We sat on long wooden benches, covered with beautiful sections of old quilts.  Claire’s daughters walked her down the aisle.  I’ve known them since they were young girls and have enjoyed watching them grow into bright and warm young women.

The groom and several guests wore kilts in honor of Jame’s Scottish heritage. After the ceremony we enjoyed drinks and hors d’oeuvres in a wonderful old barn, outfitted with more quilts and artifacts from the old west.  The reception followed in a nearby canopied field.

Fraser Wedding

Fraser Wedding

The drive to and from Winter Park took us through the breathtaking Rocky Mountains. We stopped mid-drive at the Continental Divide. The Divide extends along the Rocky Mountains. According to Wiki, “Drainage water west of the Continental Divide flows to the southwest via the Colorado River and the Green River into the Gulf of California.”

Colorado Rocky Mountains, Berthoud Pass Arapaho

Colorado Rocky Mountains, Berthoud Pass Arapaho

It was a treat getting out of San Jose’s hot, dry summer for several days. We enjoyed cooler temperatures, a few unexpected thunder claps, a light rain and warm sun. Perfection.

The day after the wedding we headed to Boulder, Colorado, a two hour’s drive away. Mike booked the most amazing room at a vintage hotel built in 1909. What a nice surprise! The hotel is full of old-world charm, with carved wooden banisters, original tile floors and a few artifacts from the day. Even better, it’s in the heart of downtown Boulder, walking distance to fun shops and unique restaurants.

Boulderado Hotel, Boulder, Colorado

Boulderado Hotel (with Mike)

Alys and Carmen collage

With my friend Carmen. Our high school yearbook photos, 1977 and in Boulder, Colorado, 2017

One of the highlights of our time in Boulder was the chance to see my friend Carmen. I haven’t seen her in 40 years! I posted about our trip on Facebook and she mentioned that she lived close by. She drove from Colorado Springs to meet us for brunch, followed by lots of catching up.  We had a wonderful time.

On our last day in Colorado, we drove to Denver and spent hours at the Denver Botanical Gardens. I’ve been to many botanical gardens over the years, and this is by far my favorite. If I lived locally, I would visit again and again. I took over 225 photos while we were there, and I barely scratched the surface.  We enjoyed cooler weather for most of the day and a bit of rain which I loved. We lunched outside under a tree while it rained, enjoying a hearty, vegetarian soup.

Denver Botanical Gardens

Denver Botanical Gardens

While it’s always great to travel, it’s good to be home.  The boys took care of the house and the kitties while we were away, a first for the two of them together.  It made traveling a breeze.

My youngest son starts his senior year next week, so we’re happy to have had this time before the onslaught of college applications and the like.

Wish you were here!

Hot August Melancholy

Hot August days invite a certain melancholy. As July comes to a close, an ancient grief rises to the surface and the more I swat it away, the more it demands my time. My nine-year-old self rises to the surface and reminds me of my terrible loss: the death of my father on an oppressively hot, early August day.

Dad was a horticulturist by trade, but his love of gardening came home with him as well. He built our Ontario garden from scratch, changing a mound of dirt into what felt like paradise.

Daddy's Easel

Daddy’s easel, hung on the wall of my crafting area. Photos of his model of the Golden Hind, Dad with a dog on someone’s porch, the flower shop he once owned with my Mum in Seaforth, Canada

If he were with me today, I would place my hand in his and we would walk through my garden together.

bee on chocolate mint

A bee gathers pollen from the chocolate mint in bloom

I once captured bees in a jar to show my dad I was brave. He explained in his kind way why I should set them free. They’re good for the garden he said. I was six at the time but for some reason that memory remains sharp and clear. Perhaps when memories are scarce, we hang on to what we can.

bee on chocolate mint flower

A bee travels the garden

We had a shorter growing season in Canada, but Dad was able grow tomatoes each summer. What fun we had harvesting the fruit and bringing it through the back door for our lunch.

curb garden tomatoes

Three green tomatoes, coming along nicely in the curb garden

tomato plant flowers

Tomato plant in bloom

Dad didn’t grow pumpkins in our Ontario garden. It would be especially fun to show off my beautiful specimen and to smile about the squirrels that most likely planted them.

tree rat with birdseed

A tree rat helps himself to some bird food late one night

Dad loved all animals, once rescuing a mouse from a group of boys on the street in his home town of Oldham, England. I too rescue rats and mice and though most people cringe, I couldn’t imagine it any other way.

Mouse curb garden

Mouse surveying the curb garden

Daddy would surely get a kick out of a different kind of mouse: Mouse the Cat. Mouse is a rescue too, in his own way.

I descended from a long line of people who rescue strays. It’s a wonderful lineage.

These hot days will pass and my mood will lift, but for now I’m making room for that ancient loss and grief.

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Red, White and a Little Blue

Tomorrow is Independence Day in the United States, commonly referred to as the 4th of July. Americans celebrate in a number of ways, and we’ve probably participated in most of them: fireworks shows, classical concerts ending with the 1812 overture, block parties and the like.

This year we’re going with a quieter approach. Our boys have outgrown the neighborhood block party and frankly its a bit of a relief. I’ve always preferred smaller, quieter gatherings. Small talk wears me down and the heat of the day leaves me exhausted. The work involved setting up and tearing down tables and chairs, canopies, etc. is something I’m happy to leave in the past.

Although fireworks are illegal in Santa Clara County, we’re hearing the percussive boom of mortars going off nearby. It’s a huge strain on the cats, who’ve retreated under beds or in closets. It’s hard seeing them frightened knowing there is nothing we can do but wait it out.  Unfortunately, the worst is yet to come.

As America celebrates its hard-won independence from the British Monarchy,I hope people will stop and reflect. What is the true meaning of democracy; why is freedom of the press so important? Our sitting president is making a mockery of what this country stands for.

Here is a brief excerpt from the Declaration of Independence. Source: Wikipedia

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

This has been called “one of the best-known sentences in the English language”,[8] containing “the most potent and consequential words in American history”.[9] The passage came to represent a moral standard to which the United States should strive. This view was notably promoted by Abraham Lincoln, who considered the Declaration to be the foundation of his political philosophy, and argued that the Declaration is a statement of principles through which the United States Constitution should be interpreted.[10]

On the eve of what should be a great celebration, it’s hard not to feel a little blue.

Little Free Library and bookmarks

Red, white and blue books in the Little Free Library and an assortment of bookmarks for the taking

 

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Moving Forward

safety-pin-selfie

#safetypin

My heart is full. I can’t begin to convey how supported I feel by all of you following the aftermath of Tuesday’s US elections. Thank you for joining the conversation, and for helping me feel less alone.

While I continue to avoid the radio, TV, and print news, I have received a few emails of note. Tomorrow evening I’m attending an “organizing and solidarity” meeting at Sacred Heart Community Services.

From the executive director “We must organize a plan to protect our community now. If you want to consider the implications of the election and find out how to be an ally to those families under threat, join us on Tues, Nov. 15th at 6pm at Sacred Heart’s Learning Center. Learn how to get involved. Bilingual in English and Spanish.”

I’ve invited a couple of friends to join me as well.

Louise Benson founded Sacred Heart Community Service in 1964 to feed hungry families in her neighborhood.

Today, they provide essential services to individuals and families in. The organization has evolved into a respected and innovative provider of programs that assist families with achieving lifelong economic self-sufficiency and a grassroots organizing network that addresses the root causes and consequences of poverty. Sacred Heart strives to meet basic human rights such as food, clothing, and housing assistance, while at the same time offering the tools for self-sufficiency, including employment assistance, family mentoring, and adult and youth education programs. In 2008, Sacred Heart was selected by the California to be the Community Action Agency for Santa Clara County. This designation formalized Sacred Heart’s role as a regional leader and conveys a responsibility for developing countywide solutions to poverty.

I will let you know where it leads.

I also wanted to share the following excerpt from San Jose’s Mayor, Sam Liccardo entitled “We’ve Got Your Back”.

Dear Friends,

Recent events have left many thousands of our San José residents — about forty percent of whom were born in a foreign country — in fear. Some of our neighbors, friends, and family fear changes in immigration rules or enforcement that could separate their families. Others voice concerns about proposed federal “registries” of community members of the Muslim faith. Still others point to the nationwide spike in “hate crimes” in recent days.

I have sought — through Spanish-language television, social media, and in public demonstrations — to convey a simple message to our wonderfully diverse community: “We’ve got your back.”

What do I mean by that, “We’ve got your back?” We cannot control the events in Washington, D.C., but we can do much to care for each other here at home:

  • We will Not Tolerate “Hate Crimes” in San José
  • We Will Not Allow Our Police To Be Used for Federal Immigration Enforcement
  • We Will Protect the Constitutional Rights of San José Residents
  • We Will Support Our Community Through Our Office of Immigrant Affairs

As French resistance leader Andre Malraux urged, “Instead of lamenting the absurdity of the world, let us try to transform the corner of it into which we were born.” We’ve got much work to do to take care of each other, and to transform San José’s corner of the world. We’ve got your back.

You can read the full text here.

How are you doing this week?

Dashed Hopes

mercury-news-front-pageI don’t know how we got it so wrong.

On Tuesday things seemed full of hope and promise. I was enthusiastic and upbeat.  We were about to elect our first female president in America. Finally, we could erase that smug and self-satisfied look off of Trump’s face. Instead I went to bed with just a glimmer of hope that the numbers could be wrong.

I woke up in a fog, feeling like someone had died. I woke up to the news that Donald Trump had enough electoral votes to put him in office. What so many of us viewed as a terrible joke was our new reality.

Karen, of The Unassuming Hiker said this:

Today we woke up to the realization that the following things are true:

  • Bullies win
  • Racism is alive and well in America
  • Women don’t matter
  • Black lives don’t matter
  • There is no global warming (or science for that matter)
  • The more outrageous you are, the better chance you have that the 24 hour news media will give you full coverage and help you get elected.
  • And, the Donald was correct when he said “I could shoot someone on 5th Ave and still get elected.”

He won by promising to make “your” life better!  The only life he is concerned with is his own.

You can read the rest of her post here.

All the “positive” spin says don’t give up hope. We have to work even harder. Stand up and protect those who have so much to lose. The list is long: Latinos, Muslims, members of the LGBTQ community, the disabled, the disenfranchised and women who make up over half of the population.

Maybe I’m not doing enough. I vote. I volunteer. I show up, stand up, give money, support causes, sign petitions but when I rolled out of bed this morning, our president-elect is the same guy we all saw on the Access Hollywood hot mic clip.

My 16-year-old son volunteered election night at the Registrar of Voters. He came home at midnight, sad and disappointed and vowed to wear black to school the following day. He left for school Wednesday morning dressed in black from head to toe. My older son, away at college, assured me he would be okay, but that he is “just not reading the news anymore.”

I need to grieve, regroup, and figure out my own “what now?” I hardly know where to start.