Sunday Stills – As Spring Emerges

For Terri’s Sunday Stills where our prompt is “Emerging”

If we were having coffee at Natalie’s weekend coffee share, I’d tell you that we’re spending May emerging from our winter hibernation mode into a much more active Spring mode. Lots of yard work to be done as I recover from a rather nasty autoimmune flare. 😉 Then we’d spend some time reminiscing about Springs past and I’d share some photos and memories. Let’s take a walk around Custer State Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota and see what emerges.

Waiting for the Cliff Swallows to emerge from their nests. They build mud nests under eaves and cliff faces. Here a couple of nests under the eaves at the Wildlife Loop Visitor Center in Custer State Park, Custer South Dakota.

Two humans emerging from a wooded trail are treated to a new perspective of fire damage. In December 2017, 50 mph wind gusts knocked over a telephone pole which sparked and started the Legion Lake Fire. Before it could be contained the fire burned over 54,000 acres of our beloved Custer State Park and sparked several minor fires in the area. This overlook above the once lush valley brought tears to the eye. But the forest will recover, as forests always do bringing more life and restoring balance.

An outstanding reminder that life will always find a way, tiny wild violets emerge from a crack in a huge boulder on Sylvan Lake, Custer, South Dakota.

As we prepare to depart Custer, a wee bitty bunny emerges from the cover of the shrubbery near the parking lot, another reminder that Spring is the season of birth and renewal.

Returning home, I came across this Allium just emerging from it’s bud ready to burst forth in welcome with it’s spectacular purple bloom.

Of course, we couldn’t really emerge from winter into spring without one of these spectacular South Dakota sunrises, taken at Hart Ranch, Rapid City, SD.

That’s it from Castle Serenity this week, til next time

~May the wind be always at your back ~JP

Spring Flowers – Everywhere

For Terri’s Sunday Stills – Fabulous Florals. Spring is in the air, and everywhere she is breaking out the sparkle.

Little Johnny Jump-ups (Violas) brighten any day.

“Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.”
~Rainier Maria Rilke

Tiny Lantana begin to burst forth.

“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly,
the whole world would change.”

“Feed me Seymour” ~ Audrey – Little Shop of Horrors

Spooky pitcher plants lurking in the shadows, waiting for … lunch.

“Where flowers bloom, so does hope” ~ Lady Bird Johnson

Many varieties of Rhododendron thrill the eye and delight the spirit.

“It’s always spring and everyone’s in love and flowers pick themselves.” ~E.E. Cummings

Wild Hibiscus, a marvelous nature walk find.

Flowers floating to the ground
petals falling, make no sound
pink snow flying fills the air
petals falling everywhere
flowers in my hair
the scent of spring
fills the air. ~JP

If we were having coffee this week, I’d tell you April has been a mixed bag of a month. It started with a mad dash to South Dakota that was more exhausting than exciting. Then to a nasty virus (not COVID) that led to a Sarcie Flare, which led to a 14-day round of steroid therapy, which led to visits with my pulmo and cardio doctors, and is now ending with me wearing a heart monitor (don’t worry, it’s nothing serious). So maybe it hasn’t been quite the fun month I was hoping for but I got lots of yard work done and the front and back areas are beginning to come together. Come Spring and Welcome.

Til next time ~ Stay Trippy Hippies ~JP

Mundane Magic Monday — Medicare and Mental Health

It’s been a wacky kind of week. As most of you know, I entered the US Medicare system late last year. I’m also a Spoonie with multi-system Sarcoidosis and a Mental Health Warrior with simple PTSD. It’s been equal parts frustrating and interesting learning the ins and outs of the Medicare Advantage program, but I’m slowly finding my way.

This week, I finally decided address my mental health issues through the allopathic medicine venue. I am just not recovering from the PTSD episode, I’m better, but I’m not back to myself. Could be my age limits my ability to “get over” scares. Could be the on-going barrage of pandemic related stress. Could be worrying about the brothers, the son, the grandaughter, the wild increases in the cost of everything while living on a fixed income … you get the idea. Take all that, throw in some significant pain and you’ve got one stressed out Spoonie. So, I pulled up my big-girl panties, called the behavioral health department at my PCP’s office (have I ever mentioned my serious distrust of psychiatrists? Yeah it’s weird having a phobia of seeing a doctor about your anxiety). First available appointment is in 7 weeks. Yeah, OK. So, off I go to my dear PCP who was only too happy to prescribe me a little SSRI drug. I’ve used this particular drug before and it worked well.

Just a little side bar/learning moment, SSRI is short for Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor. Basically, they allow serotonin (happy hormones) to remain in your brain longer. Although primarily used to treat depression, some are quite adept at reducing the symptoms of anxiety disorders.

The really good part about it is that since I’m seeing my PCP, no copay. The drug treatment we decided on is really inexpensive ($2 a month or free if I use my mail order pharmacy) and it’s not a controlled substance! Win/Win! Please don’t take any of this as medical advice and do go read my disclaimer page. That said …

The rest of the week has been a splendid mix of magic and mundane.

Walking around the lake, we spied the first dandelion of the season.

As we draw closer to spring equinox, the sunsets are shifting with the changing of the season. In the lower left you can just make out two of our “summer resident” Canadian Geese.

The weather turned a bit wonky on Friday with five inches of snow falling overnight. It was still in the fifties when I went to bed Thursday night, but I got up to snow and temperatures of 12°f, Brrrrr, good day to stay inside and curl up with a book.

Well, that’s it from Castle Serenity. Til next time, may your Mondays be filled with Magic. ~JP

Monday Mundanities – Navigating Medicare

with chronic disease, it’s all about the pills

I became enrolled in the US Medicare system late last year. It’s been an interesting journey, this transition to Senior Care. Lots and lots of research, soul searching, and just plain fussing. I read through the “Welcome to Medicare” booklet and all I can think of is “well that’s just maddeningly unhelpful, why are these things never clear?” Eventually I got it sorted out (I think). Of course it was complicated by a 1,500 mile move to a state with some seriously odd laws and requirements regarding everything from prescription drug transfers to property rights.

I have mostly blindly stumbled through the changes with some advice from Superhubs and my granddaughter (who works in the medical industry) and a whole lotta googling. Yeah, and when exactly did “google” become a verb? OK, back to the whole medicare thing. Anyway, I opted into what’s known as a “Medicare Advantage” plan. Basically, your medicare insurance is administrated by a private insurance company and it combines parts A, B and D. There were a LOT of provider choices to work through and ultimately I selected an HMO in my area. The decision was mostly based on copays. I just worked up a spread sheet and determined which plan offered the least copays for drugs, doctors, and my annual tests (CT scans, blood work, echos, etc.). I have to say, thus far, it’s going pretty well.

I’ve had my “annual wellness visit” where they make sure you’re up to date on all of your preventive tests and such. I said a whole lotta “Yep, did that”, “uh huh, thattun too.” I also had a “living will” thrust upon me along with a short speech on the necessity of laying my end of life wishes out in black and white. OK … thanks for that reminder of my imminent demise. Don’t misunderstand me, I have a medical POA on file like everywhere so I’m covered. I kick, it’s Superhubs problem, because honestly, at that point it’s not about me or what I want; it’s about the people I leave behind and what makes it easier for them. ;-p.

OK, moving on. I’ve seen my PCP (Primary Care Physician) gotten an actual honest to goodness diagnosis for my on-going foot problem. The “burning, freezing, painful but numb, blisters on my toes, holy mackerel it hurts to walk” disease that has been considered just another stage of neuropathy with dyshidrotic eczema thrown in for fun. Turns out it’s Secondary Raynaud’s Phenomenon. I take a tiny does of a calcium channel blocker to dialate the blood vessels and, pop WOW, it’s better! I’m now moving on to a number of specialist referrals (because I’m new to the area) to get the rest of my care established. So far I’ve checked the referred specialists out and they’re all on my insurance plan (yeah!) so just a minor co-pay.

Stay tuned, more on this grueling subject later.

Til next time ~Stay Happy Hippies ~JP

Weird Kind of Week Needs a Fresh Perspective

Cardinal in our tree getting a fresh perspective
Dinky Dinos go into business as “towel handlers” yeah, waaaaay too much time on our hands
February Sunset beautiful fresh air – what more can I say

The sun begins to pinken the sky
like an artist’s languid brush stroke
lazily drawn across the canvas
from triangle I breathe into crescent

ducks fly by in quiet formation
they gently land sending ripples
stretching across the lake
my body moves slowly with intention

I glide from plank into cobra
as I breathe in the beauty of
chantilly clouds tinted fragile rose
against the lightening sky

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you it’s been a weird kind of week and I need a fresh perspective. A rollercoaster of emotions ranging from a new diagnosis of secondary raynaud’s phenomenon, probably just part of the sarcoidosis (OK, that’s good right?), to learning that a beloved little brother is homeless, to a son becoming the victim of a road rage shooting (he’s fine, bullets didn’t penetrate the inner door of the truck). Like I said, good, but … weird. So, pass the decaf Lady Grey (a decaf black/lavender blend), with milk please, no sugar let’s take a bit of fresh air. Hope y’all are having great weeks, and on to a fabulous March!

Linking up to Natalie’s Weekend Coffee Share and Cellpic Sunday with Johnbo. and Sunday Stills at Terri Webster’s. Do come on in and join the fun and pick up a fresh perspective.

Til next time ~ Stay Calm and pass the decaf ~JP

I Put on Pants – A Spoonie Award

I don’t mean to brag, but I am totally rockin this day. Not only did I get out of bed, but I put. on. pants! Yesterday was what could euphemistically be called a “low spoons” day. In all honesty, it was, in fact, a total, complete train wreck. Including meltdowns and tantrums. Now I’d like to tell you that it was a visiting grandchild that threw said tantrum, but, alas, it was none other than me. I wish I could tell you that this is an exceedingly rare event but no, it’s rather too common for comfort and I’m considering just penciling it into my planner for like “Monday Meltdown” or “Tuesday Tantrum”. All it takes is a trip to the hardware store where we did not find what we wanted, well OK we did but not at a price we were willing to pay, and it’s a new sump pump because we’re (read that Superhubs) not sure if the one we have works and we’re supposed to get five inches of rain over the next three days.

Then, just one innocuous comment, a casual dismissal of something I have taken it into my head matters more than a cure for cancer. Something that matters not one jot, something stupid like trying to follow Superhubs hand signals as he guides me through parking the car in the garage around the gargantuan garbage can and the stupid cardboard boxes that are STILL HERE from our move three months ago. I mean really? I have to negotiate my way around the ancient box springs that we had to move out of the house and the garage is as far as it got because we have no idea how to get rid of it. Because it’s not that I have depth perception issues or blurry vision from lack of anything remotely resembling a tear film in my eyes, and you know, I have to do EVERYTHING around here. And no don’t you dare offer to park it for me! Boom! BAM! SOCKeroooo! It’s like a bloody Batman Show (the real one with Adam West). Yes, a sixty-something great grandmother sat in the middle of the floor blubbering like an over stimulated two-year-old.

Fortunately, I am blessed with Superhubs who sits down beside me, holds me, makes little shushing sounds until the worst of the weeping subsides. And then asks “what hurts?” So I can sob out “EVERYTHING!” Yeah, that’s one of the worst parts of being a spoonie. Painger is a very real thing. It’s when you think you’re angry but, really, you’re just in pain.

So, in light of yesterday’s emotional train wreck, I decided to reward myself with a Spoonie Award. I’m wearing pants, and that’s a step in the right direction. Fellow Spoonies, always remember that you are amazing, strong, powerful health warriors. It’s OK to lose it once in awhile, grab your heating pad, tylenol and a cup of tea, go snuggle up. Do what you can to take care of you, this day will pass and tomorrow is another day.

Til later ~ Too low on spoons to give a fork ~JP

Something Wild — PPAC # 36 and Weekend Coffee Share

Shared with Marsha’s PPAC#36 at alwayswrite Wild Animals in Public, I can do that! Let’s dig into the archives and see what kind of public art I can come up with.

The extinct Moa bird in Queenstown, NZ

Greetings at TaoYuan Airport, Taipei Taiwan

Wood carving from Deadwood, South Dakota

Dragon waterspout at Kurama-dera Kyoto Japan

Tribute to the Omarama Rams and their beautiful merino wool.

Also shared at Natalie the Explorer’s weekend coffee share

If we were having coffee this weekend, I’d tell you that it feels kind of odd to not be traveling. It’s been years since I’ve done much international travel. I’m making the transition from “world wanderer” to “retirement living” it’s wonderfully relaxing, albiet sometimes a little on the tame side. But I’ve taken up new activities including new on-line classes and art projects, reviving my yoga practice. I’d ask about your world and what’s new in the blogosphere. 🙂

til next time ~Peace ~JP

Monday Musings – A Walk Around the Lake

Fall shot of our lake

We took a walk around the lake today for the first time in weeks. The ice has melted, the sun shines, a slight chill to the wind, but it was a lovely day. The Canadian geese scattered noisily as we passed, honking and fussing at the disturbance of their cushy sun-drenched patch of grass. A small segment of the paved walkway is still covered in patches of snow but we got around it easily. The area is so still and quiet. The musty dankness of decaying leaves greets my senses reminding me that the cold season is nearly over, soon Spring will woo us with her warmth, soothe us with her greens, a prelude to Summer’s frenetic energy. But for now, the air is cool and I have discovered the shoots of bulbs growing in my front yard. They have been hidden for some time by the overgrown hydrangea I ruthlessly trimmed this fall and I am anxious to see what flowers they will produce. They look like daffodil stems but I can’t be certain.

Til next time ~May your coffee kick in before reality does ~JP

January Read List 2022 edition

photo from unsplash

My plans for 2022 include reading 50 books (or more) this year. Thus far, I am off to a good start with the following for January.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
This is actually a reread but it’s been a long, long time. As always I am delighted and amazed by the nuggets of pure genius and profound absurdities.

Tea and Teatime Recipes by Maggie Stuckey – part of Storey’s Country Wisdom Bulletin Series
Wonderful short read, chocked full of wonderful ideas and recipes

Weekend Homesteader Volume 10 – January by Anna Hess
Another wonderful short read. I own all twelve volumes and am rereading them to build the fires of my own return to home and hearth.

Clockwork Dagger by Beth Cato
A great little steampunk romp with a fascinating system of magic that just spoke to me. Quick delightful read. Thoroughly enjoyed.

Clockwork Crown by Beth Cato
Continuation of the adventures of our heroes from Clockwork Dagger. I admit a deep love of all things steampunky and this one also delighted.

The Woman’s Handbook of Healing Herbs by Deb Soule
This one got started and abandoned as it was just not for me.

Total 5 completed and I’m on my way to that 50. Now it’s back to the kitchen for me where I’m going to ponder the messages of the universe while divvying up free range ground turkey and preparing Peanut Tofu for dinner.

Til next time ~May your hearth burn bright ~JP

Tuesday Tangents – I Need Winter

“The time has come, the Walrus said,
To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —
Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot —
And whether pigs have wings.”
~Lewis Carroll

My lake is frozen solid today. One tiny portion thawed for a time this afternoon then promptly glazed back over. It is smooth with crystalline textures. Leaves lie in stasis, captured in the glassy layer like silk garlands. It is frigid and beautiful and perfect. A reminder of all that Winter holds, the warmth of a cup of tea in my hands as I gaze out my window at the sun reflecting on the ice. Winter is a time for rest and reflection. A time to come to grips with all the changes we’ve been through this past three years. Oh yes, I need this Winter.

Feelings shift like oceans
beneath the frozen ice
glaciers of emotions
pain too long denied
struggle against the cold
mind closed against the truth
pressures build, exploding in
a single tear of crystal blue

OK enough tangent talk for now, I’m going to “google” how best to prepare monkfish.

Til next time ~Cold never bothered me anyway ~JP