A Couple Hours We Didn’t Think About Gluten

I know that I wrote on Friday that I couldn’t remember my experiences from our travels because of our gluten free troubles, but I am going to force myself to focus so that I can recall and maybe relive my visit to Portland’s Lan Su Chinese Garden.

Because the garden is based on old Chinese customs and philosophies for landscaping and architecture, being inside the garden transported me to my youthful ideas of China.

I’ve always been fascinated with Chinese history and culture, and so has my husband. In fact, in 11th grade, before we started dating, our history teacher put our class into groups to study various countries or regions. Hubby and I both stuck our hands up really fast when Miss Buehler said China. That’s how we first got acquainted, which led to our first date. (But that’s not the story that I’m here to tell you about today haha).

The garden was filled with plants native to China, all arranged according to a carefully planned design.

The architecture was also beautiful.

There was some lovely art displayed on a wall by Hsin-Yi Huang. They were ceramic bowls inspired by flowers.

A calligrapher created written art, as well.

After we toured the garden, we visited the teahouse. They offered tea flights (ritualized samplers of three kinds of tea). Because it would take longer than hubby wanted to sit there, we ordered two types of oolong tea, gluten free tea cookies, and lychees.

The teas were so good we bought tins of them both, as well as a teapot similar to that the teahouse used.

This was our view from inside the teahouse.

While we sat there, sipping our tea, hubby persuaded me that I needed a piece of art by Hsin-Yi Huang for my office wall. I reluctantly told him he was right ;).

Lest you think I bought stuff everywhere we went, this was it, other than small gifts for my mother and a friend. I’m not sure that I could have easily gotten the tea at home, and the teapot is necessary for the experience as it’s designed to eliminate use of a teaball and is made of clay (like the art). I hope to remember Portland when I drink the tea and see this beautiful art on my office wall.

Do objects bring back memories for you? Do they help you write about the memories? They do for me. I wrote this post by looking at the art, the teapot, and the cans of tea. And now I’m going to make myself a pot.


Filed under #AmWriting, Art and Music, Blogging, gluten free, gluten free travel, History, Nonfiction, Sightseeing & Travel, Writing, Writing prompt, Writing Tips and Habits

31 responses to “A Couple Hours We Didn’t Think About Gluten

  1. You don’t have to apologize for buying a few nice things, Luanne 🙂 It’s fun to do that when traveling. For me it’s mostly books. We’re having a child come to live with us (if all goes according to plan) so we had to empty the “office” where all my very favorite books are. My husband suggested that temporarily we put them in an old bookshelf in the basement. No!!! I told him we’d keep them out stacked on the couch until we found a bookcase to put in the dining room because I knew if I ever agreed to the basement it would be months and months without my beloved paper friends.

  2. I’m pleased you find time for this. Objects do prompt the memory. Even those in Photographs

    • It was such a relief to be at the Chinese garden. So relaxing and it wasn’t mealtime so finding gluten free cookies was a bonus!

      • I once wandered around Bergerac looking for a loaf made with spelt flour for my sister. I din’t know what the French called it, but actually I suspect it is the same

        • Spelt is something you don’t see a lot around here. But spelt has gluten in it, too. Although oats are technically gluten free the way they are milled (I think that’s the term) can coat them with gluten.

  3. How lovely, Luanne! I think some objects do evoke memories, and I can certainly see why you would want to purchase the tea and the pot to make it in. Just because you could buy these things elsewhere, does not mean that you would–and now whenever you use that pot, you will think of this lovely teahouse.

    Also–so you and your husband are high school sweethearts? My husband and I met in 9th grade. 🙂

  4. Beautiful gardens and teahouse. The ceramic flowers are so varied in design, and guess what ? I chose Yours for the one I’d buy 😀 i’m very happy it went home with you!

    As for the tea and teapot, i have purchased similar things for similar reasons when traveling. They do bring back memories in a way that’s more tactile than photos. But oddly I also feel a sense of something missing – perhaps because I’ve taken a slice of the whole experience out of its element. Do you ever feel that? It’s always interesting to see how momentos affect me thru subsequent years.

    Great post, Luanne. Thank you for sharing this.

    • That is because you and I have great taste, that’s why!! I am happy, too. I have it on the wall of my office right next to the painting my MIL painted of Ethel Merman–same colors–and it looks great!
      I read this the other day and then didn’t get a chance to comment, but I continued to think about what you say about something missing. Sometimes I have felt that, though generally I am spared that feeling. But the notion that our feelings about mementos changing in different periods is one that I need to continue to think about. It might be true. I might even want to pursue that for a poem. So THANK you, Sammy!!!

      • You bet. Honestly I seem to have spontaneous deeper thoughts and an easier tome writing when I comment than when I try to write a post. But I’m terrible at using promots and extemporaneous writing-on-demand. Guess i should pursue those thoughts!

  5. So glad you made this wonderful stop.

    One of my nephews taught English in rural China for a while. His stories are wonderful (alas, he has not taken my suggestion to start a blog, because his writing is beautiful and poignant and hilarious). He is a 6 foot blond guy — quite the attraction in the nearly medieval villages of southern China!

    • Oh what a fascinating job. I don’t know if I ever mentioned this, but for awhile after college hubby considered a master’s in Chinese and we were going to try to move there for a job. I am now glad we didn’t do it, but it sure would have been an amazing experience. So your nephew doesn’t write up his stories? He really needs to–in some form. Incredible material!

      • I think one of his fears of writing about it was to make some of it sound stereotypical — he didn’t want to portray the folks he met/saw in any way that cast aspersions. His time there wasn’t that long, but it was intense and colorful. He is young and sensitive to people’s perceptions. And I must give hiim credit for that!

        It sounds like, given your husband’s dietary problems, that your decision was the right one. And frankly, adjusting to life in another country is really hard. And I was in a developed, western country! Trust me, I have less hair now than I did.

        I have tried since starting my blog to describe the problems I had with electricity. Swiss electricity. There are three types of plugs at the end of various cords that one needs to plug into a wall socket — and there are, I think, six different types of sockets. They never match. Electricity drove me to tears regularly! And then there was the language … oh dear.

  6. Wow, what beautiful ornamental plates. I would have to have pictures, too. The tea gardens and tea house are charming. The RS and I have gone gluten free on the advice of a holistic nutritionist. We don’t have your husband’s severe issues, but we have a few of our own that I’ll be posting about today. Have fun on this trip 🙂

    • Did you post about the gluten free? I have to leave for a funeral, but I need to remember to check later. I probably would take even more pics than I do but hubby is a non photo person and is always saying, “You’re taking too many pictures. You’ll never look at them again. what do you need them for? Pay attention while you’re here.” Hah. And he’s right. And he’s wrong.

  7. I love those bowls! I’d be tempted to buy the whole lot. Mortgage the house if necessary. Beautiful!

  8. I’ve heard wonderful things about that garden in Portland. I haven’t been to the city since I was a child. Would love to go see it again. And drink some tea in that garden. 🙂

  9. Susanne

    Your photos brought back vivid memories of visiting China in the heat of summer where I still drank any tea offered – it was always refreshing, even when served hot.

  10. Beautiful garden Luanne and that’s a fabulous piece of art to remind you of it.

  11. What a wonderful place to visit and what fabulous pictures, Luanne! You are quite the photographer now, too! But what I really wanted to know more about is the story of you and hubby getting together over your interest in China…and in the eleventh grade at that. Please write that one!

  12. Wilma

    Enjoyed your photos and narration re: garden and tea house visit, you lucky ducks. Saw Ant Man today, walked, fished (caught 0 fish), ate a burger out by Lake Harmony. Fascinating mansion near here I can find 0 about. Wjk

    Date: Mon, 24 Aug 2015 12:23:49 +0000 To: wjkmeinet@hotmail.com

  13. It’s weird, I don’t much attachment to things at all, although I do often buy them. Maybe photos bring back memories, but that would be about it. Or maybe it’s more like things CAN trigger nostalgia, but I don’t foster that by holding on to them. If that makes sense.

  14. I had/have a bit of a fetish for teapots. I like the idea of buying the pot and the tea so you can recreate the experience in your own home. And the flower is so beautiful. I buy too much when we travel and yet I never feel like I have much in the way of mementos. Except books. When we were in San Francisco last, we bought a lot of books 🙂

  15. Gorgeous photos. Glad you had a good trip. I hope you write the story of your eleventh grade group study of China and your budding romance.

  16. I think this was such a contemplative and serene post for (past my bedtime) reading, Luanne. The plantings were so beautiful and the flow of water calm. I would sit out here and meditate while tea is served within.
    Almost all items in my one bedroom apt have either history or symbolism for me or my family. I used to like workshops that used this similar question to share and answer with a neighbor as an “ice breaker.”

  17. Luanne my daughter has a fascination with China, especially the language, clothing and the food. I took her to China Town in Sydney recently and she used chopsticks and then purchased her own set of beautiful chopsticks to keep as her memory of Sydney. I also took her to the Chinese Gardens in Sydney and we had such a lovely day. I still don’t know where this obsession came from, but she was reading a fiction novel about a chinese girl who was a dragon keeper, so I’m wondering did it all start from reading fiction. No matter I love her passion to learn about other cultures. Your day looked amazing by the way and the tea shop would be on my agenda too.

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