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the weekly tea
goji leaf tea
from verdant tea
weekly tea: laoshan goji leaf tea
The last time I featured a tea from Verdant Tea, it was the crassicolumna: a tea made from a near relative of the tea plant we knew and loved. For me, that tea was a little too uncanny valley: it tasted almost like the tea I expected but was off in too many respects, none of them pleasant. So I hesitated a little bit before deciding to try Verdant Tea’s herbal tea tasting kit.
Most of the time, herbal teas are made with dried ingredients. (You can, in fact, make an amazing tea with raw ingredients, too.) But the premise of this tasting kit was taking ingredients that are used in herbal teas and then processing them the way you would process green tea, using the centuries of tea-craft behind it.
On the one hand, I was intrigued: here is something I’ve never had, and it sounds interesting! On the other, I had tried crassicolumna for that exact reason and it ended up firmly in the “not for me” box. Undying curiosity (and an expiring reward certificate—please never tell vendors how well those work on me) led me to place another order.
Answer: I love this tea.
Does it taste like tea? No. A little bit yes. It has the nutty flavor you’d expect from a wok-fired tea, but the leaf itself is distinctly not tea. It's a little sweet, a little bitter. But more than that, it feels like tea. Tea is not just a taste; it's a heated swamp of chemicals, and those chemicals (and that heat) lift mood and make you feel feelings.
(This is, by the way, one of my biggest objections to a lot of commercially farmed teas: however it may taste, it lacks the feel of a tea that's been grown properly and processed properly. But that is a subject for another newsletter.)
This tea? It has no caffeine, but it still gives me that sense of energy and fluidity and purpose that a good green tea gives me in the morning. It makes me feel like I can do all the things.
All in all, a delightful tea and one that will go in the repertoire.

Mea culpa
So last newsletter I said something something something about how I was trying not to be a den of affiliate newsletter iniquity, but the joke is on me! I did not even include the proper link! Let me do it again.
The site is dangerous. Beware. If you apply code LXZ-Z05YJBV at checkout, you will save 10%, and I will somehow become a semi-competent affiliate marketing newsletter person.

Brushing my dog in fits and starts
Eleven months ago, we took our dog to the vet after he started crying in pain for unknown reasons, and discovered that he had a giant mass on his spleen that was bleeding. We were told that the prognosis was not good and it was likely to be cancerous, and if it was cancerous, he was likely to be gone in a few months.
Luckily for us, his mass was benign, and we celebrated.
Unfortunately, we celebrated by letting his belly heal, and by coddling him and—here is where it gets dicey—by not brushing him regularly, because we didn’t want to pull on his stitches and cause him pain.
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A very fluffy boi.
My dog is…what’s the best way to put this…EXTREMELY FUZZY. He also drops his undercoat twice a year.

By the time we felt he was healed up enough to tolerate brushing, the undercoat had gotten really bad, and every time we tried to brush him, our normally sweet and tolerant dog would struggle and fight to run away, and me, being a gigantic softy, would let him do it. We thought about getting a professional but that might be traumatizing, and we very much adore our dog and do not want him traumatized.
We went through a cycle of trying to brush out the dog, traumatizing all of us, ignoring the sad state of the dog’s fur, being unable to ignore it, and then trying to brush it for far too long.
None of this was good for Mr. Pele, so these last few weeks we resolved to try to brush him in a way that worked for him: two minutes at a time, right up until the point where he would stand up and try to walk away.
Don’t get me wrong: this dog needs about 3 hours to brush out his coat. But he won’t tolerate that. Instead, we’ve been grabbing him 2-3 times a day, and brushing out a tiny section, and then giving him extensive treats and love and pets and letting him go. In turn, he’s decided he can tolerate about two minutes of brushing (as long as there are treats afterward). 
Now that we’ve been doing it for fifteen days, he’s finally beginning to look less scruffy!

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My mom claims that when I was a baby, before I could walk, she came down one day and found that I’d taken out a book we had about dogs and was carefully turning the pages, one by one, examining them very carefully. Needless to say, I have loved dogs all my life.
I rarely put dogs in books, and even more rarely do I make them a plot point. Why? I’m not sure—probably because plots are not always kind to dogs, and I don’t want to write a plot that isn’t kind to a dog. The other reason is that I love dogs a little bit too much, and the danger of putting a dog in a romance novel is that the dog might overwhelm the romance novel, because dog.
Unraveled is one of the rare books in which there’s a plot, and there’s a dog (a fuzzy dog named Ghost), and the dog is of course okay (this is not a spoiler; I am not capable of writing a bad thing happening to a dog), but the dog actually matters to the plot.
While Ghost and Pele are both from sheepherding breeds, Pele is much better at herding sheep than Ghost: he performed admirably on his puppy herding instinct tests, and back when we lived closer to a farm that allowed sheep herding training on their flocks, he did quite well.
(Actual quote from the farmer, while we had Pele in the ring with my husband. Note that the farmer did not know that I was standing right next to him, related to my husband.
Farmer: Nice dog.
Employee: Really nice dog.
Farmer: Owner needs work, though.)
Buy Unraveled on:

Until next week!
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