FREMONT - For guests at the Dillon House, yesterday afternoon was a chance to travel back to a time when ladies in long dresses and wide-brimmed hats sat in elegant parlors sipping tea from fine china cups.
For Ellen Kraus, the Victorian Tea at the stately red-brick home across from the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center was a chance to glimpse the future through the leaves in the bottom of those cups.
The Erie County woman, who owns a Sandusky tea room and performs astrological readings including ones yesterday at the tea, visited the 1873 home as part of the Hayes center's monthly series of formal afternoon teas.
"You've got some very nice things in your cup," she remarked to Rebecca Ott as she peered at the moist brown leaves stuck to the china. "You've got a covered bridge in your cup. That means you may be coming up to a transition in your life."
Ms. Kraus also said she spotted an owl among the leaves and remarked to the woman in the dark green dress, "It looks like through life's experience you have become wise." She added: "I see you standing on a scale and smiling. That means it hasn't caught up with you."
Blushing and smiling, Ms. Ott replied, "I am happy with my weight."
Afterward, the Jasper, Mich. resident said she thought Ms. Kraus' reading of the leaves made sense. "It follows the life patterns that we have taken," she said. "They all fit in."
Ms. Kraus said she doesn't predict exact events by reading tea leaves, and that the practice isn't meant to control people's actions or relieve them of responsibility for their decisions.
Rather, by studying the leaves - and the person who left them in the cup - Ms. Kraus said she can sense life trends and cycles. Those, she added, can help a person find "a better direction."
"Have you ever looked at the clouds and seen pictures," she asked. "Reading tea leaves is the same thing. It's amazing the accuracy I've hit with over the years. It's not some kind of mystical thing. Anyone can do it."
While performing a reading, Ms. Kraus said she watches the person to judge whether her interpretation is on or off.
"Eye contact is so important because the eyes reveal so much," she said. "You can tell sometimes by the look on a person's face if you're going in the right direction with the tea leaves."
Carol Hagenmaier's eyes grew wide when Ms. Kraus looked at the remains in her cup and told her, "You have a tendency to sometimes underestimate yourself. And you are very meticulous."
A friend at her table, Carla Bogni-Kidd, clapped her hands together and grinned. "Oh yes," she exclaimed.
Ms. Kraus continued: "There could be someone you're worried that they're drinking too much. You want to help them without getting hostile. Keep envisioning a healing green light over them."
Ms. Hagenmaier, who lives in Fostoria, said Ms. Kraus' reading was right on. "It really flabbergasted me," she said. "She hit the nail on the head. It's kind of spooky."
Others found their reading more entertaining than enlightening, including Kris Hadacek, of Fostoria, who called the experience "absolutely fascinating."
"Unfortunately, I thought mine was rather vague," said Mrs. Hadacek, who was sitting with Ms. Hagenmaier and Mrs. Bogni-Kidd. "I think there's an awful lot to be said about intuition. I just didn't recognize the incidences she was talking about. But I would definitely do it again."
Ms. Ott, who attended the afternoon tea with her mother, Marie Garlick of Swanton, said it was enjoyable just to dress up and spend a few genteel hours with other women.
"There's few places today where you get to feel like a lady, and this allows you to," she said.
Contact Steve Murphy at:
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