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the weekly tea
from Nature Restore
weekly tea: jiaogulan
My tea shelf is quite small, and as you may have guessed, the amount of tea that I have is enormous. The way I manage this is by cycling tea from the giant plastic bins where much of it is stored to the shelf at semi-regular intervals.
On my herbal tea shelf (there are two shelves, one for herbal, one for caffeinated), I have three or four jars that I fill with looseleaf; I will drink all the tea in the jar, and then I will fill it with another, different kind of tea.
This month my big, heavy, green jar contains jiaogulan. Jiaogulan is an herb that is otherwise known as the “immortality plant” or “miracle plant” or other names. It’s one of my standard working teas: that is, something not caffeinated and slightly sweet where I’ll sometimes make a pot that can sit for a while and I’ll sip as I work, and when I’ve finished a section I’ll add hot water to the pot and keep drinking.
I don’t know about the actual benefits. But I find the taste to be sweet and slightly astringent, interesting enough that I enjoy drinking it and yet simple enough that it doesn’t distract me from what I‘m doing.
I got my jiaogulan from Nature Restore. It looks like they’re out of stock, though, so if you’re interested, you might want to get this instead.

In the forest, the quiet forest,
the doggy walks again
Last year around this time, there was a March snow storm. We took Pele to the dog park in hopes of getting his wiggles out quickly and with minimum freezing on our part. While playing with other dogs, he slipped and smacked his belly. Thereafter started one of the scariest weeks of my life: by the time we brought him home, he was in horrible pain. We took him to the doggy ER, where he was diagnosed with internal bleeding because the fall had ruptured a huge mass on his spleen.
The doggy ER told us that there was something like an 80% chance that the mass was cancerous, and that if it was cancer, it was already systemic, meaning that even in the best case scenario he would only be around for another 2-4 months.
We sent our dog into surgery in shock. In the week during which we were waiting for the biopsy results, I cried more than I had cried in the prior ten years. I know my dog isn’t immortal (however much I wish he would be), but I hadn’t let myself think about what that meant. Now that I was confronted with it, I couldn’t let myself hope for the 20% chance we had, because it would hurt too much to not prepare myself.
When we got the call that the mass was benign, it was one of the happiest moments I’ve ever experienced.
We’ve had a few snowy days this March, but instead of feeling like it’s a chore to get the dog out, I’ve thought about how scared and sad I was when I thought he wasn’t going to be with us anymore, and how joyous it was when I realized we could have him for longer, however much longer that turns out to be.
Pele, my very best dog, sniffing along snow covered forest paths.

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I had a realization while writing this book.
At the time, I was working as a law professor. It was a demanding job: I was prepping for classes, trying to do a good job being a teacher, trying to write law review articles (mostly unsuccessfully; my brain was hoping out on the entire concept, but this nonetheless took time), trying to keep up with areas of law. I was also writing romance novels.
The way this worked out was this: I just didn’t have time to do anything. Time to eat well? Did not exist. Time to get out and exercise? (Mostly) did not exist. Time to spend time with my family? Stolen in half-hour dribs and drabs. Mostly, time for sleep? I was getting about four or five hours a night, on a good night. Some nights it was more like two or three.
I remember going on a walk with my husband and Pele one Saturday. I hadn’t seen sun in a week. I felt exhausted and I could barely keep up. The path we were in went along the shore of Lake Washington in Seattle. I remember having an incredibly clear realization, looking out over mist-shrouded waters: if I didn’t find a way to work less, my body was going to eventually force the issue on me.
As much as this scared me at, I brought that sense of both fear and hope into Jessica: that feeling when you’re in a place you must get out of.
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Until next week!
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