The phrase otium cum dignitate (leisure with dignity) has remained with me from the very first time I heard it in Latin class (circa 2006). I have always been a supporter of the idea of spending free time seeking enriching activities-- reading great works of literature, studying nature, playing the piano, writing, exercising, visiting museums and historical sites-- I firmly believe that what comes out of my mind or mouth is a direct reflection of what I have done to nourish my spirit. Part of the way I prefer to do such things, whenever possible, is with a cup of tea at hand. Chai, Oolongs, Lapsang Souchong, Senchas-- a fine tea is always irresistible to me, an aesthetically rewarding experience in and of itself. Though the Romans never knew the joy of tea, I am certain that, had camellia sinensis come into Roman life, Cicero would have been delighted to contemplate his art collection with a cup nearby and Horace would be inclined to seize the leaves with gusto. I would not care to begin my early morning hours without a pot of tea, my journal, and a book to flip through. First Cup [above], painted using primarily acrylic, is my tribute to reaching forward for a delightful first sip and a morning of rewarding contemplation.