Tag Archives: tea

A cup of tea

Mr. Tumnus: “Daughter of Eve from the far land of Spare Oom where eternal summer reigns around the bright city of War Drobe, how would it be if you came and had tea with me?”

“Thank you very much, Mr. Tumnus,” said Lucy. “But I was wondering whether I ought to be getting back.”

“It’s only just around the corner,” said the Faun, “and there’ll be a roaring fire–and toast–and sardines–and cake.”

C. S. Lewis. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Great Britain: (Geoffrey Bles, 1950.) pg. 116.

I think Mr. Tumnus was on to something: tea is best when shared with a friend (or a way to make new friends); tea is always better served like a tea party (although I question his choice of sardine refreshments); and tea no matter what time of the year it is…is tea, and can be fully enjoyed whether on a sunny day or in the winter chill by a roaring fire. (In my opinion, rainy days make great tea days.)

The concept of tea started for me at an early age. We sisters would sometimes have tea parties. My older sister had a tea set and Mom would serve tea (apple juice) with refreshments (usually graham crackers.) Tea time was serious excitement.

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Melissa and I

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After the apple juice excitement faded, tea was non-existent in my youth–although I applaud my Mom’s efforts in having us try herbal tea. “Add some honey.” Even honey was not sufficient. I never touched tea again until college. Then everything changed. Tea is now a hobby.

Socially, I don’t throw tea parties but I have thought about it a few times. Back at my birthday, being in the south where the best tea resides, my parents gave me a book on tea party history and etiquette. It is fascinating. Books and tea, what could be better?

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You don’t necessarily need a tea party to share with friends. Over the past few weeks, I have been given in gracious amounts–tea–resulting in the enjoyment of a few cups during the day. I have been given teas that I have never tried or even heard of in flavor. Once again, excitement resides!–because as far as tea goes, I usually stick with flavors I know or ones that help my stomach (such as peppermint or Bigelow’s Lemon Ginger Plus). But now that new flavors are being given to me as gifts to try, my knowledge of tea choices is expanding and in turn I share the new favorites with my family or other friends.

In order to give, we must also receive.

In life, we have been given a divine invitation…more than just a tea party, the invitation is for eternity, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” ~John 3:16.

The gift has been freely given–freely receive.

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The Next Chapter

Rainy days have strange effects on me. Some days it makes me groggy as I feel it in my body…especially my right hand. That was my yesterday. I even smashed my index finger that morning within the umbrella as I was closing it; I never felt a thing–just a small pinch but it was only when I looked down to see why the umbrella was not closing did I see my finger jammed.

Another rainy/cloudy day today, but completely opposite. Today was my motivation day. I went supply shopping: paints, paintbrushes, canvases and various add-ons for my upcoming paintings. Yellow Spring’s “Art on the Lawn” festival is only a month away. (More to come on that topic!)

Today I was focused on the broad spectrum of details and errands that needed to get done, even though my right hand seems a bit swollen and my arm is tense. Like an equation, I am not always that full of energy. Yesterday I just focused my attention on one thing at a time. My favorite being a book. I was achy with sick feelings in my intestines, so I made a cup of Chamomile tea and picked up where I left off in Through Gates of Splendor, by Elisabeth Elliot. I was determined to finish the last few chapters.

Growing up, we knew the story of these five missionaries. Nate Saint, Roger Youderian, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming, and Jim Elliot who all followed God’s calling to show and communicate the love of Christ to those tribes in Ecuador that otherwise had no contact with the outside world. These men were at the time, the same age range that I am right now. I sat thinking of this…how these men gave everything for the Gospel. They were taking part of God’s plan to reach the nations, ultimately never seeing the fruit of their labor this side of heaven.

A few months after the deaths of these men, their story was recorded. The first copy of Elisabeth’s book was published in 1956. The edition I pulled off my parent’s bookshelf was the 25th anniversary edition, 1981. As I read the Epilogue II, I came across this conversation that Elisabeth had with Corrie Ten B0om:

“Sometimes,” she told me, “I have said, ‘L0rd, I must have something fresh. I cannot go on telling the old story.’ But the Lord said to me, ‘This is the story I gave you. You tell that one.'” So Corrie encouraged me to go on telling mine. (pg. 266)

And this encouraged me. I set out to write blog entries and feel like I am sharing the same story–repetitious. I want something new. But this is my story. and God wants me to tell it. So a new chapter to my story happened this week:

Tuesday evening I started my first dose of the chemo treatment, Sirolimus.  I take it every 12 hours. I have to be consistent with the time, so I chose to take it around the same time I take my other medicines.  So far I have had no side effects.

The chemo itself is very different from the other chemo treatments I have taken in the past. It does not feel like a chemo. Of course this is the first time I have had to keep medicine in the refrigerator…that could be part of it. The recommendation for taking the solution is to put it in a small 2 oz or so of orange juice stirring it a lot, drinking it and then drinking water or something afterwards. If it tastes the way Marcia says it smells, then I am double blessed as I can’t smell it nor does it change taste of my orange juice. Tonight I thought I would try the other recommendation for taking the medicine: in chocolate syrup. It was disgusting. I think I will just plan on drinking lots of orange juice for a while.

However, this chemo can cause mouth sores and so I have been given mouth care instructions to help prevent or treat these sores. First, a reward: I get an excuse to eat pudding, ice cream, applesauce, yogurt, ice cubes or pop sickles before and/or after as the cold and smooth will help prevent mouth sores. I have always been one for flossing and brushing my teeth after meals so that has not been a problem. They did give me a “recipe” for making my own mouthwash as I am no longer allowed to use store-bought ones due to the alcohol content used…even if it says “Alcohol free,” I am not chancing it.

My diet is much the same as it was before, except now I am a bit more cautious on going and getting that white mocha, as I am to watch my sugar intake. God must still want me to learn self-control. There are a few others on the list that I need to watch–eating red meats (which I don’t do often anyway), watch the different fats in dairy products and limit egg yolks to 3 a week; egg whites are fine. They warn against eating spicy foods as they can cause sores. I need to drink lots of cold fluids, eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, and get enough fiber. Even if I wasn’t taking this chemo, it is good eating habits to follow.

I am thankful right now that my body has been tolerating the treatments and will just have to take it one day at a time. I will have labs done every week and my first clinic visit to Children’s is at the end of the month. Do I think chemo is working? I don’t even think I can honestly answer that. My body changes from day-to-day. I note more aches or strains, more numbness or bad balance. There are always things at the back of my mind or new physical challenges to overcome.

My story is not yet complete. I know this. Some chapters seem to fly and others seem to drag on endlessly. Some pages make me laugh, some leave me in suspense and others make me cry. Like reading any book, you have to turn the page at some point to continue reading. If I focus on only one page full of th0se physical sufferings, I will never get to the ending or get to share the new things learned with you. I might just find out that the best part is only a few pages over.

*Elliot, Elizabeth. Through Gates of Splendor. Wheaton, Illinois: Living Books (Tyndale House Publishers), 1981.

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Goodbye, carbonated soft drink.

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This is me. College freshman at best. It was the year I embraced carbonated soft drink’s invitation to lunch everyday, often getting together again for dinner or a late night study in the Student Union. Pepsi became my friend; the terms tea or coffee were unheard of in our conversations.

Things started to change my sophomore year–I was not as dependent on my carbonated soda friend. I started making new acquaintances in the social world of caffeine. I spent my time rotating between the new friends, such as soy chai, and my old soda friend…who by now had changed its name to Coke.

As I stared to mature, I added a few more friends: iced and herbal teas. All these caffeine friendships demanding my attention. Some days I would ignore them all; other days I found it necessary to enjoy one or even two. Don’t get me wrong, I still find my best friend is water, but on the downside–it is a bit bland.

So why all this? Because my friendship with carbonated soft drinks has come to an official end. I spent Monday’s car ride home lamenting on good days past–good times, good tastes, good vibes.

At the end of September, I started seeing colored spots. If I looked at you directly, you would have been green or black depending on the other lighting in the surrouding area. At first, it came and went…by the first of October I realized that the problem was happening more frequent. By the time I mentioned the problem to my parents (in which we decided this was something more than just fatigue or dry eyes), the problem was constant. Doctors sent me to a neurooncologist who discovered that my optic nerves were swollen (and I did have extremely dry eyes!)

I do not have tumors on my optic nerves, but there was pressure on the nerves from other tumors in the brain that made the optic nerves swollen, resulting in the colored vision. The doctor started me on a medicine that would decrease the swelling and keep the nerves stable. There were to be no major health side affects from the medicine and I was assured that I could be on this medicine for life if needed without it causing problems that you sometimes see in other medicines after taking them for so long: I would not become immune to these pills.

But there was a sacrifice: the only side effect that affected me personally was that these pills had a bitter revenge on my soda friend–so much so, that it would make soda taste like metal. I tried to keep upbeat about the current loss, which I deemed temporary. I figured I would be off the pills in no time! I just needed to get my optic nerves unswollen! 🙂 But after the next doctors appointment, it seemed that this was going to be a long-term situation.

I did not really lament much over winter: warm teas and coffees were satisfactory. Then I started having salads for lunch and the thought came to mind: this would be so perfect with a Coke. And then it started: my cravings for my carbonated soda friend! I had already experienced the metalic tasting soda once before and because I remembered how I about spit out my Sprite a few days after I started the medicine–I took a full embrace for ice tea with my salads instead. More specifically Arizona tea in the can! (The kind you find a gas stations for 99 cents.) The plan was genius! It made me feel as if I was drinking Coke, but I was not.

Then this past weekend: my first blunder resulting from hurried decision-making and McDonald’s lack of lemonade the day I order a meal to go. “No lemonade!?” I say–feeling pressure from the line behind me. I could have said, “Ok, well I will take an iced tea,” or substituted it for a Shamrock shake. But no…before I have time to think of the words coming from my mouth, I blurt out, “I will take a Dr. Pepper then.” What!?! Don’t ask. I don’t know where it came from either. It took getting to the car to realize my mistake. I went ahead and tried it anyway.

First sip: “Yeah, that is not a Dr. Pepper taste.”

Second sip: “This burns my throat. Maybe if I try leaving some fries in my mouth, it will help the taste.”

Third sip: “Nope. This is gross!”

Fourth sip: “I sort of taste the Dr. Pepper right when it goes in my mouth. Maybe if I swallow fast!”

I get about three more sips in, then abandon all hopes of enjoying my drink. It was then I realized, it is over.

So, my dear carbonated soft drink friend, I bid you adieu. I will no longer be tempted by your advertisements or have cravings for you when I walk down the drink isles at the grocery store. And if I do, I will just remember what the writer of Ecclesiastes states, “For everything that happens in life—there is a season, a right time for everything under heaven (3:1).”

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Waiting for Spring.

Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.*

I am sitting drinking a hot cup of plum tea, wearing a cozy sweater and my feet adorned with my slippers. The fireplace was just on and I think, “This is not spring-like weather.” Even today at lunch, snow frillies fell randomly from the sky and I said out loud, “Winter [has met] its death!!” Well, not quite. But slowly, it is changing.

This afternoon, I worked on sorting through my pictures from vacation. Some I have set out for cards and the rest I put in order and placed them in the photo album. The day we were at Grandfather Mountain, my mind thought of Narnia. It felt like winter…”Always winter but never Christmas.”* The hoarfrost on the trees, fog and gray skies just added to my imagination: This is what Narnia must have felt like.

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Winter in Narnia did not end overnight either. And while I am not waiting for magic to weaken, I do just have to be patient–spring will come.

Thinking these hopeful thoughts–I have good news!

I am finally able to wear my left hearing aid!!!! 🙂 For the first time in over a month! It still is not all the way back to normal, but I hear a little. The tunnel feeling is still there when I speak, but I turned the aid up to the highest setting–then put it into the second setting where the background noise is eliminated, and that helps. However, I do not think this is the best option–so I need to get in to have my hearing aid adjusted.

Since some of the fluid is out from behind the ear drum, now my ear is taking small steps back to where it was (I hope)! I have some fluid in my right ear as well, but so far have not noticed a change in hearing too much. The only thing is that I have extensive loud ringing noises all the time in my ears, and so I almost didn’t test the left ear yesterday. I had just changed my battery in the right hearing aid on Tuesday, and figured it would be a waste of a battery. But, I was wrong. I was instead filled with joy even at the smallest sounds.

Another praise is that I no longer have to go to the doctor’s office for weekly INRatio tests. INRatio is a small finger poke test that determines my blood count, due to being on the Warfarin blood thinners. I received my own home machine and kit on Friday and went through the training session. Monday’s test was an epic fail. The plan was to compare my home results with the doctor office results–I went and sat in the waiting room frustrated that morning. But not today! Because my blood count was high Monday, I had another test today. My INR was a success (thank you Mom for your help!) and my number matched the number at the doctor’s office. Now I am on my own!

While we were on spring break, I had a faxed order from my doctor for an INR test (just in case I needed one!) If I did, we would have had to find a medical facility to have the test done–which means registration, paperwork, waiting rooms–you get the point. Not something you want to do while on vacation! Having my own machine now will also eliminate this type of activity. The machine is not very big. I think my make-up bag is bigger, HAHA! So this is just one example I have thought of that makes having a personal INR machine a huge blessing!

On most days, spring may still seems a long way off. March seems to have come “in like a lion” but can’t decide whether it wants to leave “like a lamb.”

‘He’ll be coming and going,’ he had said. ‘One day you’ll see him and another you won’t. He doesn’t like being tied down–and of course he has other countries to attend to. It’s quite all right. He’ll often drop in. Only you mustn’t press him. He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.’*

In whatever way winter leaves or spring comes, I am learning to find hope, joy and blessings in both the cold and warmer days.

*C.S. Lewis The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

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Wishful thinking…

As I paint, I have been jamming to oldies. Anything past the year 2004, I really don’t listen to due to my hearing loss. I don’t know the words plus I can’t catch the beat equals that I stick to oldies that I know. Personally, I think the 80’s-90’s are the best anyway. However, I have also been into movie soundtracks or classical music lately. It helps me to think while I paint. Today, it is Bach and the Sea. The London Symphony Orchestra plays the greatest of Bach’s pieces with the sounds of the sea in the background. It is so relaxing.

A few songs are so calm…lots of cello so the sound is deep–makes me want to sit by the sea with a cup of tea in a cute sundress and fancy hat. Others pieces have more upper violin with a good beat which makes me want to ballroom dance like they did in the day (think Pride and Prejudice style songs); and still others, I wish to have my flute at hand. Although I definitely could not play a note or even remember the hand positions, I have been missing being able to play the flute. I really loved it. I can see myself being the flute soloist in Bach’s “Badinerie”. 🙂 My favorite piece on the cd is Bach’s No.1. I think it is the whole symphony, but I am not positive. Lovely melodies none the less!!

With the Olympics starting this Friday in London…my thoughts of my dream vacation arouse. I really hope to make it to England at some point in my life. There are a few things on my list to see: London (obviously), Oxford University and C.S. Lewis’ home, “The Kilns”; Canterbury and St. Augustine’s Abbey in Kent; and the countryside of England…maybe Wales. So much to see!

I love any history (as you might already know!), but since some anscestry is rooted in England, I find their history even more fascinating! Last summer, I spent a lot of time studying the time periods from King Henry VIII to King James I. This summer it has been King Arthur. I picked up T.H. White’s classic work, The Once and Future King, but it is over 500 pages and with all this painting–I have a feeling it will be my autumn season reading (with tea). 🙂 For right now, I just enjoy BBC’s show called Merlin. You can watch the first two seasons on hulu. I have yet to start The Downton Abbey series, but I will!! 🙂

My final months in Denver, a friend and I went on a quest to visit different tea shops around town. We found a British-owned cafe called The House of Commons. 🙂 We enjoyed the simplicity of decor, bright atmosphere, and sugar lumps for our tea. I, of course, put in three. 😉

Have a splendid evening, regardless of how many lumps of sugar are in your tea!

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My new droids.

Howdy. If you are eagerly awaiting the news of my hearing aids–this post is for you! The past few days have been interesting. I am in the process of retraining my brain to hear noise. Cool. And yet sometimes my first reaction is, “This is annoying!” Noise, noise, noise. I feel like the Grinch who hears the noise of Christmas below down in Whoville. 😉 There are exciting noises: I can hear myself breathe. I sound like Darth Vader. 😎 I can hear Muffy meow, purr and chew his food…which I thought was a frog at first. I hear better on the phone, but will still use Sprintcaptel. I have been trying to listen outside for birds, but I have not heard any yet. Communication is better, but that is part of the hardest retraining of the brain. My parents voices sound the same. I can hear the car engine tick…sort of annoying. I can also hear when the refrigerator comes on. When I text or type, I can hear the keys being pushed. And church echoed this morning, so I actually had to turn my hearing aids down. These are just a few things I have noticed. I was told that it will take 3-6 weeks to get used to these new hearing aids, and that it is easier for someone to adjust to new hearing aids if they have never had them before rather than if they switch hearing aids–(which I agree completely, based off experience!)

On my new hearing aids, I have all these settings and options to learn and understand; right now I feel a bit overwhelmed! The strangest habit for me to get used to is the method of how I turn the hearing aids on and off. These are my OLD hearing aids:

The number “4’s” are the volume control. It was always on number four unless there was times where the background noises were excessive. Then I would turn it down. Also, the switch at the bottom is how I turned it on. Imagine a good seven years of turning the switch off and on…now I have to pop the battery in and out. Old habits are hard to break.

Here are my new hearing aids:

This is only the right hearing aid. Both are this new “chestnut-brown” color and the same size. See how the battery is popped out? That means it is off. It might take another seven years to get used to that method. 🙂 These are like R2-D2! These little “droids” make beeping noises when it changes to a different setting and a little song when it turns on. They are also set so that my functions change automatically. For example, when I put the phone up to my ear…it automatically changes my hearing aid into the new setting. I do have the option to have manual settings. The only one I think that I will probably set for manual is the setting which minimizes background noises. I have plenty of time before my follow-up appointment to think about all the settings and my preferences.

Going to sign off for the evening. This past weekend was a big turn of events in many ways, which leaves me right now very exhausted! This morning I thought of Matthew 11:28-29,

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

 Off to make tea, then enjoy some quiet moments reading before I fall asleep. More to come…

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