Tea and Elephants

ElephantsSizedcrop1quote

openersized

Hello! So glad you could pop by.  I’ve set our tea things in the foyer, and I’ve already poured everyone a cup.  So, come on in and find a comfy chair.  Is the weather dismal where you’re at or unseasonably warm?  It’s been crazy this year, hasn’t it?

RowSized

I don’t really believe the quote above, but it does sometimes seem plausible, especially if uttered from the back of an elephant — think the Carthaginian general, Hannibal.  Whether excited over a success or depressed regarding a bad experience, tea seems to help.  The phrase, “Let’s have a cup of tea,” can add to an impromptu celebratory gathering amongst friends, or bring a small dose of comfort when soothing a companion.   Teatime is also the perfect opportunity to share a few secrets.

teaSecretsSized

My husband and I had been married at least ten years when, over a cup of tea, I casually mentioned that I had ridden elephants.  At the time, it seemed an appropriate comment given the direction of our conversation.  He almost spewed a mouthful of hot liquid all over the table.  I didn’t realize most people hadn’t had the opportunity to ride one of the enormous creatures.  When I revealed that I’d been on camels too, well, he nearly fell over!

cupSized

Money was tight growing up. My parents, children of the Great Depression, believed in living frugally.  That being said, my mother was prescient enough to splurge when a golden opportunity arose, and I’m grateful for her wisdom.

setSized

bordersized

elephants3sized1quote

bordersized

I could only have been about two or three years old when I first encountered an elephant up close and personal.  In the parking lot of a local grocery store, a man showed one off, along with a camel.  It goes without saying that government regulations then weren’t what they are now.   I don’t know what Mom paid, but I paired up with a young boy and rode the elephant, fed peanuts to the animal, and petted his trunk.  I will never forget the experience, especially what it felt like to move with the beast and have the pachyderm’s hose-like snout gently caress my hand and carefully remove the nuts.  He wasn’t threatening in the least, in spite of his size.

flowerSized

Not long afterwards, it was my mum who informed me of the emotional nature of these magnificent creatures. When she was a child in Montreal, it seems a jealous one stomped a woman to death during a parade when its trainer stopped and paid a lady in the crowd too much attention — gruesome, I know, but true.

opener1sized

Years later, after other fortunate meetings with more elephants, I attended Circus Vargas with a date. This wasn’t my first trip to the big top, either.  The man I went with insisted we ride on the elephant available for short forays around the grounds.  I wasn’t so excited about the prospect.  The animal was enormous — we had to climb atop a platform and walk a rickety plank to get on its back — and frankly, grumpy looking.  I think the fellow (my date) just wanted the chance to get up close and personal with me.  Everything turned out fine in the end.  We had a pleasant trip around the lot, and we broke up a short time later!

portraitSized

When I recently read that Ringling Brothers was closing its tent, I felt terrible. I know there are those who dislike circuses, and I can respect their position.  Over the years, I’ve been to all kinds of these performances, ranging from the most famous operations to small boutique outfits.  I also will never forget when we took our own children to see Ringling Brothers.  My oldest, then about five, turned to me at intermission after confetti cannons had gone off raining thousands of bright paper strips down on the audience and said, “It’s just like a dream!”  He seemed in a wonderful, happy daze as he experienced the unique magic of a circus for the first time.

kathsized

bookborder

Since then, I’ve since discovered many interesting facts and theories regarding elephants, who continue to hold a soft spot in my heart. Some of these are incorporated into my new book, The Pernicious Pachyderm, available now as a pre-order on Amazon (to be released March 25th).  The story also features a small circus.  I cannot believe this is the seventh novel in the Duncan Dewar series.  If you think you might enjoy reading about this unusual case, please click on the cover image below.

coverPerniciousSmallest

bookborder

How are you enjoying your tea?  Today, I chose to brew a simple, naturally decaffeinated blend, Red Rose.  Three bags make the perfect pot, steeping for just three to five minutes.  Do have two or three Swedish orange ginger snaps with your cuppa.

What do you think of these darling cups and saucers?  When I first spotted them, I immediately thought of my childhood.  They’re from British designer Cath Kidston (check out her webpage at http://www.cathkidston.com/).  While no teapot was available, I did manage to pick up the matching dessert plates.  I adore the pretty floral pattern, and the rickrack border made me think of days gone by.  So, I incorporated a quilt made from 1930s fabrics as my tablecloth.  I love the cheerful yellow!

pot1sized

Thank you for coming.  I hope you’ve enjoyed our chat.  Have you had any unusual animal encounters?  Please share them in the comment section.  I’d love to hear your stories!

endsized

scripturesizedcolored

It’s so grand,
The biggest thing to live on land!
Can use its trunk,
To smell and eat,
To rip off branches,
Taste so sweet!
A herbivore,
Eats trees and fruits,
Will not hunt meat,
But might like roots!
Flapping ears,
Like birdies wings,
Used for fans,
And hearing things!
Has a very,
Special nose,
Kind of like,
A garden’s hose…
Trunk holds water,
Like some sinks,
Sprays in mouth,
For cool, wet drinks!
And if you look,
Lined up in rows,
You see toenails,
But not its toes!
Elephants have,
Thick gray skin,
Both Asian and the African!
Two types exist,
Can walk at birth!
Biggest mammal,
Roaming Earth!
~Via Mr. R’s World of Math & Science http://sciencepoems.net/sciencepoems/elephantsbordersized2

bordersized

COPYRIGHT 2017. VICTORIA BENCHLEY ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

A Tea for Liz

quote sized.jpg

IMG_3157 sized

Do come in!  I’ve prepared a celebratory tea in honor of my friend, Liz.

wonderfulyou

Liz is one of my internet friends.  Although we live on different continents, we’ve bonded over books, her love of geology (I think we might call her a rock hound in the States), and her fabulous sense of humor.  We have walked a similar path in recent months, during which she demonstrated her gift of encouragement.  She gave us a scare of late with a bit of ill health, but now that she’s on the mend, I wanted to put together a cheerful afternoon in her tribute.  Since we are separated by the Pacific, what better way to celebrate than a virtual tea?

IMG_3127crop sized    IMG_3133 sized

I’ve brought out charming porcelain from Pip Studio and made a blended brew of loose black tea leaves, dried currants, blueberries, apples, raisins, and hibiscus.   I’ve chosen a selection of joyful, popular tunes from the 1930s as our music.  With songs such as The Younger Generation, This is the Missus, Everything Stops For Tea, and A Reckless Night On Board An Ocean Liner, this album always puts a smile on my face.

IMG_3136 sized

It’s summer Down Under, so I thought Snowballs might be in order.  They are a quintessential junk food item in America with a cream filling surrounded by chocolate cake, marshmallow and coconut.  Hey, it’s a virtual treat, so enjoy!  Plus, they match my china.

lizribbon
verse sized
lizribbon3

IMG_3161 sized

IMG_3164 sized

Individual red velvet cakes and chocolate dipped strawberries make a decadent addition to the tea table.

IMG_3162 sized

I decorated these cookies myself, in honor of Liz’s love of flowers.  The recipe came from my mother and can’t be beat for iced sugar cookies.

IMG_3177 sized    IMG_3179 sized
IMG_3194 sized

A lace tablecloth and pretty linens from Pip Studio complete the décor.  My children bought me these heart-shaped stones on our trips.  I’ve included them to symbolize Liz’s interest in geology, minerals, crystals, and gemstones.

IMG_3138corrected sized   IMG_3112crop sized

Tips:

A complimentary collection of pieces works well together and keeps the atmosphere fun and delightful, not stodgy.

liztrim

Recipe:

IMG_3148 sizedIce Box Cookies
6 Tablespoons butter, softened
1 egg yolk, beaten
6 Tablespoons powdered sugar
1 cup sifted flour
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream butter & sugar thoroughly.  Add vanilla & beat until blended.  Add egg yolk, beating well.  Add flour gradually, beating.  Roll out on floured surface (I roll between 2 sheets of wax paper) – cut out with cutters & bake at 350 degrees for approximately 15 minutes.  Cool.  Decorate as desired.   I  beat together 1 box powdered sugar, 1 Tablespoon softened butter, 1 Tablespoon vanilla, & enough boiling water for correct consistency.  Then divide into smaller bowls & tint with food coloring to desired shades.  Keep icing under plastic wrap when not in use to avoid crust forming on top.  Cookies can be kept in tins or in refrigerator after icing dries.

liztrim rotated

Thank you for joining me for this jolly afternoon tea.  Come again soon!

IMG_3143 sized

lizribbon3
verse1 sizedlizribbon3

 

COPYRIGHT 2016. VICTORIA BENCHLEY ALL RIGHTS RESERVED