July was a lot. On more levels than I want to think about right now. For me, July always is, to one extent or another, because my brain and fireworks do not interface well.
It was a month that surprised me with how hot it was, and this was something felt in many places, not just here in New Mexico.
It was a month that pulled some vibes from the Swamp of Sadness, and some of what came along with those vibes was an oppressive stickiness that I associate with swamps and a particular sort of mud I met in upstate New York.
It was a month where days merged together and sleep was scarce and yet still one where a lot managed to happen.
There were new tea experiments, tea naming posts, new teas were released, inks were tested, plants were tended, games were played, and more was put up on the website than I think I have managed in any month before. Definitely more than any month since I started recording audio.
Before I get into the nuts and bolts of what held the month together, however, there are a few things I wanted to speak to.
The first is that there were a number of places that I took inspiration from for the Discord server’s rules and for what my goal is, as far as the community that I would like to build. I am grateful to them all. New Mexico Gamers Society’s rules of conduct for their tabletop play, the Coral Island and Wandering Village servers, the personal server for a writer and gamer I met through micro-fiction on Twitter, and though I have never experienced it the things that have been said about Sarah Gailey’s Discord – all of these played a part. As far as the actual building of it goes, I am lucky to have had the help of a long-time friend and tea human.
I really like the start that has been made, and I hope it will continue to grow in that vein.
Somewhat attached, as far as community and positive things and… Grapirr of the Monster Slayer teas has assisted me with fixing a long-term issue and a smaller useful project that had been left by the wayside in prior living circumstances.
If you’ve been following the journey of Desert Sage Natural you have seen me grumble about the physical cost of grinding hawthorn at least once. Probably several times. That issue has been fixed. It is still a physically taxing process, but trial and error and persistence has made it far less so. It also appears that a grinding session will no longer come to an end because the handle broke for the umpteen millionth time.
Tea hero, that one.
The smaller project is a recipe box made of steeped in memories wood. It will probably come up again, but that’s what I’m going to leave it at, for now. On to the nuts and bolts.
There were several teas put up for naming in July and unlike prior months, every last one of them was given a name. 2-121 became The Smoking Gnu, 8-384 became Can I Exist Yet?, and 10-480 became Shelter from the Storm. That last one gives me a particular sort of joy – because every time I think about the name a song gets stuck in my head. Not always the same song, but both provoke happiness of the attachment to good memories sort.
Teas were reintroduced, including one of the ones that continues to poke the “ingredients as characters, teas as stories” button in my head: Gift of the Gloaming, Picard’s Foglifter, and Green Standard.
40-some-odd down, couple hundred to go.
Traveller’s Porridge, which I’ve been talking about intermittently since the reopening of shop, site, and tea-life began has finally been released. It is intrinsically woven into the fabric of what brought Desert Sage Natural back to life, and is fair glorious to drink, to boot. Orange Tigers is one of my very few white teas – and a tea that has been waiting a long time for its proper release.
One of the items on the list of things I am thankful to the humans of the tea discord for is that a poll let me know that my prior rules for photos and tea releases might have been a bit over the top. Only requiring an image of the tea itself is going to greatly streamline the release process. One of the new things I am trying with teas, due to something I saw in yet another Discord server, is an overnight steep with the used leaves. So far this has been working out quite well, and I am considering adding this to my checklist for teas. Not immediately, and not holding release for it, but just to have it as a data point. I’ve only tried a couple with this method, so far, but LV-426, Corvid’s Caravan, and 10-488 all performed well.
The ink test posts would have been every week, but I changed it up a little by posting the second iteration of attempting to have an updatable Inks-In-Use list for those of you who are curious as to what ink was used to write your tea note. The ink tests were: Herbin Amethyst de L’oural, Herbin’s Kyanite, and Colorverse’s Costar.
As far as the tea adjacent or just life posts – July had a shorter explanation of the Tea of the Month Club, a post explaining my current social media existence and angst and where you can most easily find me. Amusingly enough, I may have solved something I apologize for in that post with a handy dandy Discord bot. The archival post for the May iteration of this newsletter went live, and I began the Talking About Trauma post series that I have alluded to once or twice. That one is password locked. You can find that password by subscribing to either the Patreon or the specifically-for-unlocking-things newsletter, or by reaching out directly.
In happy news, I planted a handful of seeds a bit back. They should have been dead. They really should have been dead. But they sprouted. Earlier than they should have, by a week. At this point, they have been hardened off and some have been repotted to give them more space to grow. It has been a grand adventure and a reminder of just how much I like playing in the dirt and interacting with and talking to plants. I started them very late, so I do not know if there will be any harvest beyond thinning basil into my salad salsa – but there has been much glee in the process.
Other fun things have involved playing some video games. One that had been waiting forever, one that I think had been mutually played for a time but was found frustrating, and one that is an old and familiar (if slightly threadbare) friend. That last is a text-mud. Some of you are old enough to know what that is and some of you are learning just how old I am if you look that up. Nannymud is one of the oldest and longest-running – it had been around for years before I discovered it. But many of my early adult years were improved by it, and I am certain there will eventually be a tea or teas that come out of my return to it.
The second is Star Trek Online. There are a lot of things that can be said about it, both pros and cons, but some of the voices you hear as you play through the story are familiar and comforting. It’s like a weird science fiction fuzzy blanket for my brain. I would say teas would spawn from that, but Star Trek has already been saluted a number of times, and I am certain there will be more.
The first is Dragon Age: Origins. The game that I am certain launched a thousand fics. It had my brain writing snippets for what was going on between the characters as I played the game, and if it did that for me, I can assume that thousands upon thousands of words have happened due to its inspiration. Again, no teas yet, but it is definitely on the list of potential tea-name-tie-ins.
I speak to the fun things in part because July was pretty terrible, on several levels. That truth is inarguable, but it does not change that there were bright spots. And there was reclaiming.
If nothing else, the fun things are fodder for tea names and for conversation and for connection. Thanks for listening, and I will see you next month.