Friday, January 30, 2009

I have a frog in my throat...

Look very closely at this picture. Do you see it? I took this back in 2006 during the season when the tiny frogs came out at a pond in the forest. It is just a tiny thing unlike the frog I feel like I have in my throat each day.

I have had my appointment with the specialist and I have a thyroid that is 50% enlarged. It is the entire gland and that is creating the feeling that someone is strangling me and giving me breathing problems. I do not have any hypo/hyper thyroidism which I already knew before the appointment today. And thankfully, I do not have the same problem with carcinoma as my two nieces do. We were worried it could be cancer. All that being said, they are running a few more tests and will go farther into treatment during our next appointment. The gland will continue to grow if not treated. It is due to aging and I had made jokes about feeling old but apparently my body thinks it really is old. The specialist is talking to us about having a radioactive treatment which he hopes would reduce the size of the gland.

I have a long way to go and have been told that the treatment can take a considerable time to have effect but I am feeling very positive about the outcome today. I am so grateful for not having to face surgery at least for the time being. Thank you all so much for your support, positive thoughts and prayers. It has helped me through today!

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Uncertainty is the theme of the day today. I have been waiting for the specialist at the hospital to review my ultrasound taken weeks ago at another hospital and get back to me about an appointment. We found out yesterday that the assistants had not even put my file up for review with the doctors at that point while we had been waiting for two weeks. They finally did review it yesterday and called immediately to say that I had to come in as it is an emergency. I am really not looking forward to this and very afraid of doctors and needles and the lot. I do hope to keep up but with the uncertainty of what is going to happen tomorrow, I thought I should let you know that I may not be able to be online on and off. We will just wait and see how it goes but hopefully I will still be around to say hello on all of your blogs with little to no interruption.

I am grateful for each of your kind thoughts, positive energy and prayers. I wanted to share this thought as a way to say thank you...

"Gratefulness is the key to a happy life that we hold in our hands, because if we are not grateful, then no matter how much we have we will not be happy -- because we will always want to have something else or something more."

~ Brother David Steindl-Rast

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What dictates fashion?

As I was putting a flower arrangement together today for a stand in front of my bookshelves, I started thinking what is it the dictates fashion? Who creates idea that certain things are just too old fashioned to be used anymore? And most importantly, why do we follow?

I was showing a friend my new tiles for our kitchen and she commented I was going very modern. Ironic thing is that the new tiles are far from modern. They are reproductions of the tiles that used to be produced in Holland back as early as the 16th century which is why I wanted them. Then today as I placed some red carnations in the arrangement, it got me to thinking about carnations being considered utterly old fashioned here. But why?

They are beautiful. Strong but elegant. They are a flower with memories for me as my father used to give my mother carnations all the time. It was her favorite and I don't think he would have ever come home with roses for her as these meant more to her. I love simple single petal pinks from the carnation family in my garden.

If you have ever read the Penhaligon's "The Language of Flowers", you will know that it reveals the meaning behind flowers during the Victorian times. Carnations had various meanings depending on the color of the flower...

Red carnation for "alas for my poor heart"
Striped for refusal
Solid for acceptance
Yellow for disdain
Pink for woman's love
White for sweet and lovely

From the book...

"The cultivation of these confident flowers goes back over two thousand years and it is said that the plant came to England with the Normans. It may be found growing wild in the walls of the Norman castles of Dover and Rochester and is believed to have been rooted to the stones imported from France.

The Athenians honoured Carnations by calling them Di-anthos, Flower of Jove, and used the flowers to make wreaths and garlands at their festivals, whence came the word "coronation" from which Carnation is derived. Due to their clove-like scent they are frequently referred to as gillyflowers, a name they share with both wallflowers and stocks, coming from the French "giroflier". Carnations were sometimes added to wine and ale to add spiciness and are still known as sops-in-wine in some parts of the countryside today."

Now how could we ever consider a flower like this old fashioned? Do you like carnations? Or perhaps you have another flower which is a favorite that is also considered to be old fashioned? Are you like me and don't care what is called old fashioned?

Thank you for your wonderful comments on my last post. I do love to read your feedback and thoughts about my entries.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

More tea please?

Today a dear blogging friend, Carolien, came over so we could do our handwork together. I did some patchwork and she did a little patchwork and stitching. I decided it would be fun to do an English tea for our lunch.

I set out my Wedgwood dishes with my etagerie filled with things I made for us to enjoy with a hot cup of Earl Grey tea. It has been a long time since I did a tea for anyone and I had fun putting it together to treat Carolien.

Our menu today was Turkey and Leek Quiche, Cucumber and Lettuce sandwiches, Stuffed Cocktail Tomatoes, Scones with Lemon Curd en Marscapone and chocolate cookies.

We had a touch of summer on the table when I used some pretty napkins sent to me by another blogging friend Regina. These napkins remind of her and her pretty garden.

I now realize that I miss doing a tea for people and should try and do it more often. I only wish I could treat more of my blogging friend to a tea...

Monday, January 19, 2009

A cup of comfort...

In Holland, a cup of tea is often referred to as a cup of comfort ('kopje troost'). Since I talked about comfort last week in my post, I thought I would share another thing of comfort to me...tea. I love a cup of hot strong English breakfast tea with a little milk. It tastes good any time of the day and with anything or nothing to accompany it. Now I also love a good cup of Earl Grey, Darjeeling or peppermint tea but English breakfast is my true favorite.

So when I set up our sideboard after taking down holiday decorations, I decided to get a book out I have shared with you before. I really love this book and can recommend it to anyone who loves Jane Austen and/or tea. It is a fun book to read. It is called "Tea with Jane Austen" by Kim Wilson.

I tried to coordinate a few other items with the book ~ a Staffordshire cup and saucer, a silver teaspoon for loose tea, my antique tea caddy, and a little piece of bobbin lace I made a number of years ago.

Perhaps this chapter of the book is what I should be reading now (see photo below). I wanted to take a moment to update you on my health since many have been asking. I have now been referred by our doctor to the academic hospital in a city near us as I have a very enlarged thyroid. It is swollen overall but she thinks there is also pressure on my windpipe which is causing severe breathing problems when I try to lay down. It is also the cause of my cough and persistent clearing my throat. This team of doctors will do the testing and all treatments including arranging a surgeon if and when it comes to that point. She assured me that there have been great advances lately so we have to wait and see where we go from here.

I do admit that I am just exhausted as we are getting little sleep for the last month. I am so grateful to Jos for going through this with me. He gets up each time, makes me hot tea and sits with me until I feel I can try sleeping again. With him having to work three days a week in another country, it is really starting to put a strain on us both. We have made some major decisions about changing things in our life which I will tell you about another time. I am sorry that I am not getting around to your blogs as often as I normally would. I may also have times in the coming weeks as with this past week that I will post less. Thank you all for your care and concern and positive thoughts!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

There in lies comfort.....

Where do you find comfort? What are the things in life and in your home that give you that warm and peaceful feeling?

For me, comfort is a word I would use to describe my home when it is balanced and feeling right to me. After the holidays, I was redoing all the vignettes on my tables. I decided to place my bookends and a series of my old books on the antique sea chest by our reading chair and ottoman. I usually group the books by color but after I started playing, I decided to mix the colors this time. I added more items from around the home and my table looked just right.....the result was comfort.

I love vintage books and have decided that I will add one a month this year. It will be a treat to search online for a good book to add to my collection.

Another item I love collecting are vintage or antique opera glasses. This year, I would love to find a pair made of Mother of Pearl to add to these which I have so far.

My December vintage book find arrived on my doormat just this morning. It was a win on eBay and is in really great shape. A book called "Bird Life of the Seasons: Peeps at Nature" from 1920. Even the name is sweet!

There are black and white as well as color plates throughout the book. I wanted to purchase another bird book that was not in great shape just to save it. I knew someone was bidding on it probably just to rip it up and remove the many color plates. It saddened me to think of a book being destroyed. Books are a great comfort to me. I love to read them but also look to even just see them. I can go into an old library and literally not be able to breath for a moment in awe.

Do you have something that gives you this feeling of comfort?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Skating away...

What a beautiful few weeks we have had here in Holland. Our temperatures have been well below freezing and the ice on the canals and ponds is nice and thick. But alas! The forecast is for a week of higher temperatures and freezing rain. I am afraid our cold joys on the ice is a fleeting thing but who knows what February will bring.

Jos skates but I do not. He did not skate this year though. We walked to the big pond near our neighborhood's shopping area yesterday to look at everyone skating. It was busy on the ice and everyone really seemed to be enjoying themselves. I heard on a radio chat show this morning that an estimated one million people skated in the country yesterday. This is an ice skating country. They set up stands right on the ice to sell hot chocolate to the skaters.

The way they have created the pond here, there are hiding places among the reeds. Normally this side of the pond is a natural haven for wildlife and we see some unusual water fowl here. Right now, it was a quiet place where just a few children came to skate away from the crowds at other areas of the pond.

Note ~ A number of people have asked about my tooth. It is there as I have decided to put off going to the hospital for it to be done until we have some answers to my having breathing problems. I hope it just clears up on its own but today have to go to the doctor's for a lung test and directly afterwards to the hospital for an echo of my neck. Thank you all for your caring notes to me!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Dark and cozy days of winter!

Ah! The dark and cozy days of winter are here! When the holidays are over the peace of January comes and our homes are quiet after all the bustle of December. But what do you do to brighten the dark days and give a cozy glow after you remove the Christmas decorations?

A winter tree of course! A small tree that says we celebrate winter. This is my tree in our living room. It is filled with ornaments that I made myself... skates...

...warm woolen scarfs...

...and cozy mittens. I hope to make some button icicles this year too but am not sure I will have enough time before the end of January. The tree will be changed then.

A pinkeep on a stand by my tree. I made this back in 2006.

A snowman and a pair of old ice skates, what says winter more?

"The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued."

~ Robert Frost

Monday, January 05, 2009

Frosty beginnings

January has started very cold and with a heavy frost over the garden. It is really a pretty sight. At first, Jos wanted me to put the pumpkins and gourds away to save them from the heavy frost. Why miss this beauty when they will begin to deteriorate anyway.

So I stepped outside at the cottage to snap a series of photos with them all painted by Jack Frost himself.

At the tip of his paintbrush, Jack Frost makes anything a work of art!

Another frosty beginning is the start of my new year. I am having to go to the hospital this week and next for tests but on top of all that my first of three weekly major dentist appointments is tomorrow morning. A fractured tooth will be pulled tomorrow so wish me luck. I am praying it will come out with no problems and the infection I have had for well over a year will clear up quickly. I hate going to the dentist so I am not looking forward to this. Lucky or not, my having to go to the doctor and then have tests done has totally distracted me from tomorrow's doings.

I found this drawing and thought it very humorous considering:

The caption from this drawing from "Punch" dating from 1920 is:
Mother (firmly, to little daughter about to have a tooth drawn). "Now, Betty, if you cry, I'll never take you to a dentist's again."

My own footnote would be..."Dear mother, is that a promise?" *grins* Now could someone pass me a tissue while I have a good cry?

Edit note: There is good news and bad news...the good news is that I am not at the dentist appointment but that brings the bad news. He has decided that I need to go to the hospital to have the tooth removed. We had called him to make sure my coughing would not be a problem with having the tooth extracted. He says that is not the problem but that they never should have made an appointment for this as he does not extract teeth when there is a complicated problem. Yikes! I don't do hospitals! The only cutting I want to be involved with in my lifetime is my quilt fabric!

This is all due to a bad dentist's work (not my current dentist) so the moral of the story is if you are ever in doubt about what a dentist is doing, stop him and go see someone else. I wish I had. More news, my hospital appointment has been moved up from Monday to today.