My second installment of personal drama: the car.

When No. 2 was about to be born, I decided I couldn’t face the prospect of two kids in car seats in the back of my Acura Integra, which was at the time 11 years old anyway. (And guess what, now it is 23 years old and I still have it. It would have been about $2K in trade in value and it was worth more to me to keep it as an alternative ride, mostly because my mother had given it to me and she died a year after she gifted me with the car.) I am not a tall person, but the idea of having to bend over, strain my back, and bump my head, and the babies’ heads, every time I put them in or out of the car seat wasn’t at all appealing.

Around that time I got a big bonus at work so I went looking for a new car that would make a good baby mobile, but was also something I’d find fun to drive. It needed to be tall enough that I didn’t have to bend over to get the kids in car seats.

I started looking at Land Rovers, in particular the LR3. I was a huge Joy Adamson fan as a child. My mother read Born Free to me before I could read myself, and my totem animal has always been a lion. As a subsidiary to these other fandoms, I was a Land Rover fan and I’d always wanted one — because that was the car Elsa rode on top of. I liked to imagine myself driving through the bush with a lioness riding on my roof.

At the time, I really wanted a Discovery but they had stopped making them. LR3 was the short-lived replacement. It turned out that the LR3, in the color and with many of the options I wanted, was available for almost exactly the amount of my bonus — which I took as a sign from the universe that I should get it.

I did, and I never regretted it. Not even when the car went out of warranty and every time it went into the shop, which was a lot more often than the Acura, it cost at least $1500 to get it out. I still loved it. I loved the color, I loved the feel, I loved the navigation system voice (a haughty English type we called Nigel).

But then it got old. 13 years and 130K miles later, everything went pear shaped. The electronic diagnostics reported a transmission fault, and the car started to buck and shudder. The engine light went on. And then, the brake light went on. One of the wiper blades jettisoned from the car like it was ejected out of a crashing fighter jet. To make matters worse, mechanics now apparently can’t fix cars unless the electronic diagnostics tell them what to do. And my car’s diagnostics printout was about 40 pages long. Essentially everything was wrong with the car, according to the diagnostics. Land Rover said it was the transmission that needed to get fixed first. So we took it to a local transmission guy and left the car there for a month while he tried to figure it out. He concluded it wasn’t the transmission…

So I started looking for a new car. I wanted one exactly like my old one, but they no longer make them. They don’t make the color, British racing green, except in the Range Rover which was about $50K more than I wanted to spend. They no longer have 8 cylinder engines for the Discovery (it’s back to Discovery again). And initially they told me I would have to have an American voice for the navigation system. This turned out to be false. As it happens, everyone on this side of the pond apparently wants the haughty English navigation voice so they figured out a way to make it happen.

I kept waiting for the new concept Discovery to come out because at least it had 8 cylinders. But the last news about that was in 2017, and my car wasn’t likely to make it indefinitely.

So I got comfortable with the idea of getting something that wasn’t exactly what I wanted. The way I got there was: I basically decided to get every available option to make up for the fact I couldn’t get exactly what I wanted. Of course, no car like this exists anywhere except in the ether of the “design your own” web site, so I had to order it.

And then Land Rover fucked up my order! The dealer placed an order with at least four errors in it, and then said there was no way to change the order because the timing was such that the car was already being built. The BF and I (mostly the BF) made a stink about it, and they agreed to order us another car that was correct. That just got done this week and the car should arrive in 4-6 months.

Meanwhile, my LR3 was looking less and less likely to make it another 6 months. Not only that, No. 1, who will be 15 in May, said that he really really really wanted me to keep the old Land Rover and fix it up so that he could drive it when he got his license. I had originally planned to fix up the Acura (which needs minimal fixing — new paint, sunroof motor repair, a dent fixed) for him. And actually, that is still the plan. But it got me thinking that No. 2 will be coming in hot right behind him. And the trade in value for my LR3? $2K if you’re lucky, said the dealer. (Why is it always $2K?)

So I got the LR3 fixed.

Wouldn’t you know, the LR3’s transmission is the same one they use in the Mercedes, so we found a transmission guy who knows German transmissions and he figured it out right away: this transmission has a life of 120K miles and we were at 130K, so yes, it was definitely the transmission. After he fixed the transmission, the engine light was still on — but that turned out to be an easy wiring fix. He also put on new brake pads. Yes, it was expensive, but there are upsides. I get to keep the green car, and I get to keep Nigel (in his original iteration, which I like better than the new one). And No. 1 and potentially No. 2 will have a very safe car to drive around in when they get their licenses.

So now I will have 3 cars (!) which sounds really excessive. But it’s not like it’s a Lamborghini, a Ferrari, and a Maserati, and we will also have 3 drivers eventually.

End of saga.

Now to this tea. The leaves look like a CTC cut, so I expected this to be quite strong. The tea has a malty, chocolatey smell in the tin.

After steeping the tea has what I’d describe as a stoutness. The color is dark — maybe not quite as dark as Guiness, but if tea were beer it would be on that end of the spectrum.

The aroma is chewy and malty and has a coffee-like note as well. I get the cream and the chocolate, too.

It’s quite nice for an eye opener; stronger, chewier, and a tad harsher than the Class Photo I had earlier today.

It’s very tasty, but because it’s a bit heavy it’s not the sort of thing I’d be likely to drink every day.

Flavors: Chocolate, Coffee, Malt

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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I got obsessed with tea in 2010 for a while, then other things intruded, then I cycled back to it. I seem to be continuing that in for a while, out for a while cycle. I have a short attention span, but no shortage of tea.

I’m a mom, writer, gamer, lawyer, reader, runner, traveler, and enjoyer of life, literature, art, music, thought and kindness, in no particular order. I write fantasy and science fiction under the name J. J. Roth.

Personal biases: I drink tea without additives. If a tea needs milk or sugar to improve its flavor, its unlikely I’ll rate it high. The exception is chai, which I drink with milk/sugar or substitute. Rooibos and honeybush were my gateway drugs, but as my tastes developed they became less appealing — I still enjoy nicely done blends. I do not mix well with tulsi or yerba mate, and savory teas are more often a miss than a hit with me. I used to hate hibiscus, but I’ve turned that corner. Licorice, not so much.

Since I find others’ rating legends helpful, I added my own. But I don’t really find myself hating most things I try.

I try to rate teas in relation to others of the same type, for example, Earl Greys against other Earl Greys. But if a tea rates very high with me, it’s a stand out against all other teas I’ve tried.

95-100 A once in a lifetime experience; the best there is

90-94 Excellent; first rate; top notch; really terrific; will definitely buy more

80-89 Very good; will likely buy more

70-79 Good; would enjoy again, might buy again

60-69 Okay; wouldn’t pass up if offered, but likely won’t buy again

Below 60 Meh, so-so, iffy, or ick. The lower the number, the closer to ick.

I don’t swap. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that I have way more tea than any one person needs and am not lacking for new things to try. Also, I have way too much going on already in daily life and the additional commitment to get packages to people adds to my already high stress level. (Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does.)

That said, I enjoy reading folks’ notes, talking about what I drink, and getting to “know” people virtually here on Steepster so I can get ideas of other things I might want to try if I can ever again justify buying more tea. I also like keeping track of what I drink and what I thought about it.

My current process for tea note generation is described in my note on this tea: https://steepster.com/teas/mariage-freres/6990-the-des-impressionnistes


Bay Area, California



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