Book Report: A History of the World in 6 Glasses

Rating: 4 out of 5.

You know a book is good when you start repeating things you learn in it to everyone you talk to. This one, A History of the World in 6 Glasses, by Tom Standage (2006), is one of those books, all right. I never would have even heard of it, but it was referred to in This Is Your Mind on Plants, and it sounded so interesting that I ordered it, along with a book on coffee, as soon as I finished Michael Pollan’s book.

They had to work hard to make that cover do what it needed to do.

The fun premise of the 6 Glasses book is to look at how the preferred beverages of humans throughout history (beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and Coca-Cola) affected their health, civilization, and progress. It’s so full of tidbits that I’d never thought of before that it did a GREAT job of relaxing me over the weekend and getting my mind off the rest of my life. Here are a few things I learned (don’t worry there’s LOTS more):

  • Beer was one of the main reasons people stopped being nomadic and started settling down: they needed to store it.
  • Beer, wine, coffee, and tea were important because they had properties that made water safer to drink. Boiling water to make beer, tea and coffee killed germs, and antibacterial properties of wine did the same.
  • The Greeks and Romans thought it barbaric to drink wine straight. It had to be watered down.
  • The first corporate logo to be developed was for Twinings Tea.
  • One reason there were so many sugar cane plantations needed in the New World (and thus the need for so many slaves) was all the English people insisting on sugaring their tea.
  • Oh, so much more, especially about history and how these beverages affected it.
  • Coffee is legal and encouraged because it makes workers more effective and alert.

I really enjoyed reading about all sorts of noble people and their beverage obsessions, but also how even the regular folks had their beverages. People were paid in beer for much of recorded history (THAT helped start writing systems!). There have always been systems to show social standing by what kind of wine or tea you serve and how you serve it.

Standage gives just enough information about each drink to keep you wanting more, without bogging you down in chemistry or complexities, so it’s fun as well as educational. That’s my kind of book!

By the way, I’m not the only one who ordered books after reading This Is Your Mind on Plants. Kathleen ordered two different books that Pollan referred to. He makes you just want to keep reading and reading!

FIRE Brings Hope

It’s the SUN! It makes the earth shiny! It kills germs!

The UU Lent word for today is fire. It came on a good day, because a fiery ball of light appeared in the sky for the first time in a LONG time, or at least it seems.

Seeing the sun this morning made me hopeful. I have read that it’s harder for some viruses to thrive when the sun is out, baking away. I keep hoping the coronavirus is one that will be slowed by sun and heat. It’s supposed to get to 90F today, after many days of cold and damp here in the middle of Texas. (I also hope it helps Fiona’s legs heal up.)

While I’m mostly a watery Pisces kind of person, fire has always meant a lot to me. Like my favorite goddess, Brighid, the goddess of the hearth, the forge, and poetry, I like to make things from fire (pottery, bread) and I like to use my words to ignite a spark of recognition, passion, or learning in others.

Notice how different each brick is.

I took the picture of the bricks a few days ago. I love how every one of these hand-made bricks is different. And that they’ve required some repair to the mortar holding them together. But they still stand, because they work together. WHOA! A METAPHOR FOR OUR TIMES! We need to be this way.

Alfred’s still guarding the fort. We all need an Alfred from time to time.

We may be just “another brick in the wall,” but in reality, we have our own jobs to do right now. And so what if we’re cracked or a little broken, we can still do it! I’m thinking of all my family and friends who are trying hard to hold themselves together. That means YOU!

Cheers. Who needs to brush your hair in a pandemic?
I do still wear a bra, but it’s a comfy one.

I’ve actually lit a fire (sticking to my theme) under myself and am getting lots of work done for all the jobs. I guess I’m getting used to the new normal.

I recently read that Texans are drinking the most alcohol during this time. I did my part yesterday with some proseco.

But, here’s a weird thing. I took off all the dip polish and cut my nails. I am hoping that Tina, my nail technician, is able to take some time off to take care of her family, so I spend some time bonding with the smell of acetone and made my nails naked.

They are pretty thin anyway, so even when I go back to the nail place, I’ll probably just get polish for a little while, so they can grow out.

Now I look like Granny Kendall, who had little short, fat fingers and bit her nails to the quick.

I don’t recognize my hands. They are very clean. I’m having to use so much hand lotion that I took off all the big rings. That’s a new normal for me, too.

What’s your new normal?

Surprise Guests!

Yesterday, we were going shopping in Bandera when we saw a car that looks just like Blackie, Lee’s late-life crisis sports car. Out came the relatives, Kathleen and Chris. What a fun surprise!

Hey. We know them.

I now had a co-shopper, which made the last couple of stores way more fun. We stopped in a little boutique that is sorta like a mini Bling Box (they go to the same markets). The woman who was obviously the owner said, “You’re wearing Effie earrings.” I thought it was impressive she recognized who made my earrings. It turned out, she and her husband own the jewelry shop. That explains it. The original owner left it to them, so she’s getting a crash course in Native American jewelry. Ha!

Dang. Should have brought Apache.

We got a couple of things. I had to get this ring, of white buffalo turquoise, with a tiny blue spot. It fits so comfortably!

It’s big, but fits great.

We had a nice meal and got some jeans, then decided to go hang out at their bed and breakfast. We needed beverages, so headed out to the winery near our resort. We had a fun experience even though we were hurrying to get to the cabin before sunset.

White wine we had last night. Once it breathed a bit, it was great.

We found Chris at the brewery next door. He was having a great conversation with the owner about how they can their beers. We got Lee a surprise stout in a can. They canned it and made labels for us!

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Wine Room Accomplished!

You may recall that we started putting our wine cellar/shoe closet together a couple of weeks ago. Since then, the office area has been in a bit of disarray with lots and lots of bottles stashed here and there, plus pieces of IKEA furniture.

Masterfully installing a door.

So, yesterday, since I had to leave work early, I invited my strapping son, Declan, to drop by and pick up his next batch of treasures that I unpacked from the garage (lots of vintage albums and some 45s). While he and Riley were here, he was also kind enough to help me put the cabinet together properly. It helps, I think, to invite a non-drinker over to your furniture-building events.

Light shines from my son’s head as he expresses pride in his work.

I did assist by un-doing some of the things that we’d done haphazardly before, when we didn’t have all the parts, but Declan jumped right in there and started assembling like a pro. Wow, I gave birth to an assembler! He even got the fancy doors on the cabinets to do their fancy thing.

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Wine Cellar vs. IKEA

Yesterday was totally lost for blogging, since I had zero minutes of downtime all day. Not that it was bad! I had a wonderful catch-up lunch with my friend and former co-worker, Melissa. We took turns updating each other on the past few months of our lives. I am so happy she loves her new job and is incredibly fit and glowing with inner peace. It’s good to be around people like that!

Once I got home from work (where I was doing fun stuff and figuring out answers to hard problems), the rest of the evening was consumed by trying to put together the new wine/shoe room furniture that had arrived that day.

Russ is all happy here, because he can find all the pins and such to build the first piece of furniture.

We lucked out in that we canceled a meeting of our Hermit Haus coworkers, but Russell, my former co-worker and business partner, had already blocked off the time, so he showed up to help us decipher the instructions for the two items of furniture we’d bought.

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We Have a Wine Cellar!

Anita and I are very proud of ourselves. What was a giant mess you couldn’t enter, only a few weeks ago, is now well on its way to becoming a dream wine cellar/shoe closet.

Shoe closet?

Yeah. The Master closet in the Bobcat Lair house turned out way too small, even after I got rid of most of my clothes when I moved here. I put in a shoe rack and other storage stuff, but all I do is fall over things.

Anita unwraps tiny bottles.

My real estate business partner, Carol, suggested I store shoes in the wine room, and suddenly it made sense. I’m always in the office when I leave for work and when I come home, so why not put the shoes there?

Continue reading “We Have a Wine Cellar!”