Yushan wulong…

high mountain Taiwan wulong
high mountain Taiwan wulong

I had been waiting for the new spring tea crop to come for a couple of months and so it was a great pleasure recently to attend an event celebrating the arrival of the new spring teas at a local tea shop. There were several teas to be sampled and a demonstration of the tea ceremony for three types of tea as well – green, wulong and pu-erh. I found it all very interesting  and discovered anew how much I prefer cooked pu-erh to raw… the cooked type has a much smoother, richer sort of flavour while the raw is more astringent. There were a couple of spring wulongs from Taiwan (my favourite) to try and I took home some very high mountain Wulong from Yushan (Jade mountain) in Taiwan. Brewing it at home in my new teapot was a pleasure. It yields a subtle yet distinct flavour characteristic of Taiwan wulongs although perhaps not as fragrant as some of my very favourites. On drinking several tiny cups of this deliciousness, Max said solemnly, “I will never drink Lipton tea again.” lol

Update: June 3, I was just sent this link to an article about the above event with a quotation from yours truly.


another character study…

what could he possibly be thinking about?
what could he possibly be thinking about?

I am still thinking about the webcomic and the characters that need to be developed for it. Here is another glimpse.

For a look at how it’s really done, check out this link to one of my favourites as his cute and fuzzy cast takes another visit to the theatre – always good for a laugh! http://www.abominable.cc/2009/05/20/a-deal-with-the-devil/

image (cc) 2009 Hilary Farmer


Damo meditates with a cup a tea
DaMo meditates with a cup a tea

Bodhidharma, also known as DaMo in Chinese, is famous for many things. Born in India around the year 440, he converted to Buddhism and traveled to China where he is credited with introducing Zen Buddhism (called Chan in Chinese). According to tradition, he spent much time at the Shaolin Temple establishing the famed martial arts practiced there and also managing to meditate in a cave for 9 years.

During his years of meditation, he fell asleep (once!) and in his determination to keep it from happening again, he cut off his eyelids. Where his eyelids fell, the first tea plants sprang up to help him (and all the rest of us lesser mortals) stay awake while enjoying the pleasures of tea at the same time. (Well, the pleasure part isn’t mentioned in the histories.) This explains why representations of Bodhidharma always show him with bulging, lidless eyes.

Other ways of telling that a painting you’re looking at is of DaMo is that he is either crossing a river on a hollow reed (how he was said to have crossed the Yangtze), sitting in meditation in a cave and usually facing a wall, or often, with one shoe on a stick over his shoulder. The story goes that some time after DaMo’s death, an official said that he had met him in the mountains heading back west and saying that he was returning to India. He was carrying a staff on which hung a single sandal. The monks back at the temple got curious and decided to open up the tomb. They found just one sandal inside.

Much of this content is common lore regarding DaMo/Bodhidharma but a lot of information can be found in the preface to The Zen Teachings of Bodhidharma translated by Red Pine.

image (cc) 2009 Hilary Farmer

as lakewater rises into mist…

misty lake
misty lake

I was thinking about this poem as I created this image. It’s one of my favourite Rumi poems translated by Coleman Barks. It’s in a little volume I have, called The Glance.

The singer sings about love, until
the Friend appears in the doorway.

Kitchen smoke drifts up into clouds
and becomes a thousand-year-old wine.

I am here, not reckoning the credit
accumulated or future speculation.

I am the vineyard and the barrel
where the grapes are crushed, the

entire operation, whose transaction
pours this glass of wine, this moment,

this poem. A man stumbles by with
baggage, papers from the house, regret

and wishing, not knowing which to
tend to. Neither. After you see

the face, concerns change, as
lakewater rises into mist.

(If you click on the picture, you can see it larger.)

image (cc) 2009 Hilary Farmer

the amaryllis…

Tom's amaryllis
Tom's amaryllis

A friend sent me a photo of his prize amaryllis. Tom does not usually have much luck raising plants. Even saying he doesn’t have a green thumb at all is something of an understatement – which makes this gorgeous amaryllis all the more extraordinary. Actually, I just found out while googling to make sure I was spelling it right that this is not an amaryllis but a hippeastrum commonly and erroneously called amaryllis! Who knew? You’ll have to forgive me for keeping the common name in the title – if it’s what everyone uses, eventually it will be the correct one I suppose…

Anyway, I wanted to do the flower justice but felt it was lacking something on its own so I had a second try and added in Tom’s cat. I’d love to know which you prefer.

Tom's amaryllis with Sheewash the cat
Tom's amaryllis with Sheewash the cat

images (cc) 2009 Hilary Farmer