Magical Mundanities Episode 1 – magic in shades of gray

Floribunda rose in black and white, Westfir, Oregon

It’s easy to love a sunrise. The promise of a new day, bright, vibrant colors transform ordinary clouds into enchanting abstract patterns. Yes, it’s easy to love bright colors. It takes a special kind of soul though to love a lead-gray sky. I do because I see. I see the divine in a tiny bit of clear quartz among the gravel bed. I see the promise of eternity in the monochrome grayness of a cloudy day. I spend my days trying to be open to everyday epiphanies, the magical mundanities, of an ordinary life.

In nature I find gray everywhere, perhaps because it makes such a perfect backdrop. Perhaps because it’s everywhere. Perhaps because it is the middle of the road, half way between black and white, like the color of my hair, old enough to know better, but still willing to take a bash at it.

For Sunday Stills where our color challenge is Gray

Here gray concrete paving stones provide a backdrop for a young black swallowtail with brilliant wing stripes in Jiujiang, China

A white-faced Heron stalks his shadow in New Zealand

Gray mist hangs over the pavilion at Lulin Lake on Lushan Mountain, China

Vast gray depths and composition of a cloud formation in Rapid City, SD, USA

“Tall buildings no bigger than blocks on the floor
Wellington afloat on the harbour haze:
You think of how most men spend their days
In offices as cramped as elevators…”

Well weathered words of wisdom on faded gray planks of Wellington NZ waterfront.

If we were having coffee this week, I’d confide in hushed tones that I’ve never liked the color black for a wardrobe choice *insert shocked gasp*. Black is technically the absence of color and frankly, it washes out my already pale complexion. Then, I discovered all the infinite possibilities of gray. It has become a staple neutral of my wardrobe.

Ah well, I’m off to ponder the questions of the universe including the antics of the gray dove outside my window.

Til next time ~Stay Wild Moonchild ~JP

Spoonie Retirement — Life Love and Temperature Intolerance

Welcome fellow spoonies and other sentient beings to another edition of

Spoonie Retirement. The week has gone by, as weeks tend to do. After the hub-bub of the last few weeks it’s been nice to relax a bit.

Above buttermilk skies in the morning, here at the Ranch

If we were having coffee this week, I’d wish you a happy Beltane, then I’d brag that all of our de-winterizing is done on the RV and we’re ready for Spring. Hang on just a minute … this is summer weather! We seem to have by-passed spring this year. Two weeks ago we had snow, this week we have highs in the 80’s. Summer craziness has already begun here at the RV park. Sections of the park that have been closed all winter are open once again and are fully occupied, as people come out to celebrate the good weather. Humpffff, good weather in deed, too hot for my liking.

Trees bursting with buds

As Spoonies, Superhubs and I both suffer from temperature intolerance, and it changes. In the winter I find 59-60f perfect indoor temps, in the summer I’m freezing at 68, sweating at 78. Yeah, I have a teeny tiny thermal comfort zone. So while two weeks ago I was putting on extra sweaters to keep warm, I am now stripping off layers and wandering about in shorts. Symptom management requires constant adjustment. Regrettably, I also loathe air conditioning which complicates things a bit more. Don’t misunderstand me, I still USE the A/C, I just don’t LIKE it.

Lilacs are already in leaf, blooms can’t be far behind.

Like a lot of Spoonies, a sunny day can wreak all kinds of havoc with my immune system, triggering flares from my feet to my eyes. This is the time when simple, easy meal plans involving little to no cooking become essential to our well-being. Big batch oat porridge, prebaked frittata cups and fruit with or without yogurt are breakfast basics. Lunches are salads and wraps. Dinners are mostly foil wraps, outdoor grill or “slow cooker” meals.

With heat intolerance, the main problem we face is afternoon fatigue, so we plan around it. Chores, exercise, and activities take place in the mornings. Once 3:00 pm hits, that heavy, can’t breathe, can’t move, OMG-I’d-die-but-it-would-take-too-much-energy fatigue just crushes the life out of you. A cool shower in the afternoon will revive enough spoons for a light supper, movie, and bed. On the menu tonight, greek chicken casserole. This low carb version is “baked” in the slow cooker with side salads or microwaved vegetables from our local organic coop. Hope you’re having a wonderful week, do come join us at the weekend coffee share hosted by Natalie for sips, quips, shots and talks.

Stuff I’m watching and doing today

til next time ~Have a Blessed Beltane ~JP

Spoonie Retirement – Life, Love, and Medical Appointments

Checking in with the Weekend Coffee Share. Do come join us for quips, sips and shots.

Well it’s been awhile, the past couple of weeks have been kind of whacky here at Chez Spoons. There were 7 medical appointments, 2 vehicle maintenances, highs in the 70’s and highs in the 30’s. Yes, that’s spring in the Black Hills.

April began with storms moving in and fabulous cloud patterns.

If we were having coffee this weekend, I’d do a little more bragging about our daughter who recently graduated nursing school. She works (by choice) in the ER. Says she likes the adrenaline. Whew!

I’d tell you about how exhausting it is to have back to back to back to back doctor visits each of which involves 2.5 hours of driving (round trip). Phew! Good news on all fronts. LADA (type 1) diabetes is stable and endocrinologist says “whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.” Pulmonary function is down but still well within normal range. Unfortunately, eye pressures are back up in one eye so we’ll be returning for another pressure check next month ;-p. Dyshidrotic eczema is keeping me from walking very much, but to offset the disability, I’ve taken up chair aerobics. Yes, you can get a pretty good cardio workout in a chair, keeping the pressure off sensitive feet.

Grass coming up everywhere, greening the landscape.

And then, another snow storm. All told, we got about 4 inches which melted in a matter of 2 days.

Most of the snowfall melted on contact with the streets and walkways, clinging to the grass and bushes.

And then, just like that, the wind shifted, the snow melted and blue skies returned … for awhile.

Oh man! Check out the hair … memories … arggggg

Til next time ~Stay Wild Moonchild ~JP

Spoonie Retirement – Life, Love and Covid – Weekend Coffee Share

Greetings fellow Spoonies and other sentient beings to my contribution for Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Natalie. I got my second Covid vaccine injection last week. Wiped me out for a few days but, all in all, I think it’s worth it, especially now that I’m feeling human again.

If we were having coffee, I’d brag that we started Spring cleaning, clearing out the last (hopefully) remnants of Winter.

Above a shot of the back of our media cabinet. You can see several inches of frost along the top and corner. Those 10+ days below zero did a number on our little home. That’s one of the things about being a full-time RVing Spoonie, you’ve got to pick your battles. We do everything we can think of to keep our place warm (skirts around the base, plastic overlay on the windows, etc.) but honestly, RV’s are just not designed for extreme weather. We did fine, no busted pipes or anything but there was a good deal of set up and crisis management involved, such as several days without water due to the heated water hose freezing up.

And, of course, I’d have to tell you about the weather. The cold has departed, being replaced by the winds that are common here in the Black Hills leaving the skies bright blue with little wispy clouds. My personal harbinger of Spring.

The grass is greening, the snow is gone, Spring has sprung.

Flowering annuals are poping up, campers are arriving and it looks like it’s going to be a wild ride this summer.

On the health front the dyshidrotic eczema blisters on my feet are improving enough that I’ve gotten out for short walks most days and my yoga routine adaptations (to not use feet) are coming along nicely. Spring vegetables are slowly showing up in our local coop and the farmers market should be opening soon. The local produce is still of the “hoop house” variety as we will likely have more snow sometime this month, but we are hoping for the best. I did get a bunch of gorgeous radishes and asparagus which I must say are definitely at their peak right now. Hoop house, hothouse, or ITG (In The Ground), they taste great after a winter of mostly frozen produce.

I’d talk about next week, which includes 4 medical appointments and one maintenance appointment to get new tires on the car, total of 5 appointments in 5 days. Yep, that is what it means to be a Spoonie, the “human pincushion” thing. I’d share that BIL #1 (the one with Covid) developed pneumonia and got an infusion of antibodies. He is doing much better, thank goodness.

I would undoubtedly whine a bit about the looming tax deadline and kids and grandkids who still expect me to have the answers to anything tax related. But then, I’d wax rhapsodic about the simple joy of watching the robins and rabbits in the yard. Come Spring, and welcome, bring your light to gently wake us from Winter’s slumber.

Til next time ~Stay Wild Moonchild ~JP

 

Spoonie Retirement – Life, Love and Covid — weekend coffee share

Laundry building, covered with icicles.

Natalie is our host for weekend coffee share where we all gather for a virtual cuppa and chat about our week.

If we were having coffee today, we’d be having it inside. Looking out the window at the sunshine, and the graupel (tiny snow pellets) falling right through the sunshine. The remains of our last snow storm have pretty well melted in the warm sunny days this week, we started off with lots of icicles from the slow thaws freezing again over night.

Snow covered bush that began to thaw and froze into icicles overnight

Inevitably, talk would turn to Covid. I got my second vaccination this week and I must say it’s hit me harder than the first one. I took the Pfizer (2 doses 3 weeks apart) vaccine and should be clear in another 10 days +- as it takes 2 weeks for maximum effectiveness. I have no illusions, I know it may well not prevent me from contracting the Covid-19 virus. It should, however, dramatically reduce my odds of hospitalization or death so I figure it’s worth the annoyance of symptoms for a few days.

Since we’re talking about Covid, I’ll mention the domino effect of exposure. My dear brother-in-law has contracted the virus. Talked to him on the phone and he sounds dreadful, first domino tips. Brother-in-law # 2 has been diagnosed with cancer and was scheduled for surgery this week. Due to potential exposure from a close relative, they have postponed his surgery for 3 weeks, there goes second domino. We had a trip planned for mid-April, but since BIL #1 will be recovering, BIL #2 will be in post-surgical quarantine, we’ve decided to postpone the trip for a few more weeks. Third domino …. splattt.

Dusk here at Hart Ranch, snow mostly gone (for now).

Life goes on much as it has this past year, groceries are bought on-line or sometimes in-store. We deal with chronic illness, and we carry on. I try to spend some time each day, looking for the beauty of the day. This morning the sun was shining prettily so Superhubs and I took off for town, picked up a few items at our local health food coop, got lunch at a drive thru and went to the park for lunch. It’s cool and windy enough that we ate in the car, but it was still awesome to get out of the house. You see, there is beauty to be found in even the dullest of days so look for it. And if you don’t see anything beautiful, look again. And if you still don’t see it, look harder.

A potted plant, with a tiny bloom, and a wee bitty butterfly outside a factory in Taichung, Taiwan. Sometimes you have to really look to see it.

What I’m listening to

Til next time ~Stay Wild Moonchild ~JP

Sunday Stills – Some things are better in black and white

For Terri’s Sunday Stills Challenge where our theme is black and white

OK this one’s a toughie for me, I am in all honesty, not even sure my digital camera has a B&W setting. My photo editor does though.
While not all photos can handle the stark lines of B&W, I love the nostalgic feel of them. So, let’s dig through the archives and see what we come up with.

Scenes in black and white
undertones of grey
fill my dreams at night
with reminders of the day

 

Iris after a rain in Invercargill, NZ. Free of the brilliant color, the eye notices more the contrast of the sharp edges of leaves, the delicate frills of the blossom and, of course, the glisten of rain drops.

Pinecone on snow. Of course, some shots just don’t have much color to begin with. My eye is naturally drawn to the symmetry of the open scales, and of course, their sharp points.

Trees after the Legion Lake fires in 2017. The wildfire burned over 84 square miles of the Black Hills. Although the fire was devastating, the forest and wildlife were quick to recover. This shot of some of the fire and heat damaged trees is actually more appealing to me in B&W. It feels more “nostalgic” and the damage is much less obvious.

Another snow shot. Maybe it’s just me but I think the scene becomes too bland.

A variegated floribunda rose, in the park, Westfir, Oregon. On this shot, I like the depth that the B&W gives to the petal frills. The enhanced shadow effect instantly conveys a timeless, sophisticated spirit to the shot.

A portrait in B&W. I love the nostalgic feel of B&W portraits. This is a photo, of a pastel painting, made from a photo. If you have sufficient resolution, you can just make out the shimmer of an unfallen tear on the baby’s eye.

If we were having coffee this week, at Natalie’s weekend coffee share, I’d tell you about the snow. Yep, after two weeks of sub-zero temps, followed by a week of highs in the 60’s, we now have about a foot of snow. South Dakota weather, gotta love it. Sprang the clocks forward Sunday and oh my word I really miss that hour!

Til next time ~Peace ~JP

Spoonie Retirement — Life, Love, and Covid Vaccine

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. — Robert Burns

So have gone the past two weeks here at Chez Spoons, awry. If I were to describe my life in six words, they would be “it did not go as planned.” It all started with a minor back injury, just a strain really, but OMW I did not realize how much lower back pain affects day to day life. Ouch! A series of prolotherapy injections over a 4 day period combined with some muscle relaxers, took care of that problem. Then, there was the skin cancer. A biopsy came back positive for cancer cells, requiring a bit more excising and freeze therapy to remove the rest of the onerous cells. OK, I got this! THEN, there was the medical shrug about the dyshidrotic eczema, we have run out of ideas and I decline more steroid therapy, so back to my standard “ignore it until it goes away” treatment plan. I wrap my toes in wool roving for padding before going on walks, soak my feet daily, use a good moisturizer and a non-steroidal ointment if necessary. THEN, guess what …. no go ahead, guess. I’ll give you a hint, I’ve been on a waiting list for the Covid vaccine for a few weeks now and, yep, you guessed it, my turn came up in the middle of all this. So, I got the pfizer vaccine, 1st injection. Not as bad as I expected but let me tell you, my immune system went to town. Sore arm, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, mild fever and chills subsided after day 2 and were completely gone by day 3. Not too bad but I lost a couple more days to aches and utter exhaustion. plllttttt! ;-p

Anyway … the worst is over and my routine is slowly returning to “normal” and I must say, thank goodness. Chronic illness is like a marauding dragon that shows up at the least appropriate time, wreaks havoc on carefully laid plans and demands a virgin sacrifice. But for now, it is appeased, the sub-zero temps have gone, the sun is shining, the snow is mostly gone and the weather is just lovely. Temps will be dropping again in the near future and that’s fine, but for today, My Dragon is safely slumbering and I think I’ll go have a bit of a walk about.

Til next time ~Stay wild moon child ~JP

Spoonie Saturday — Life, Love, Retirement and Sarcoidosis in the time of Covid

image from pixabay

Meet My Dragon

Greetings Spoonies and other sentient beings. J. R. R. Tolkien long ago wrote “It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations if you live near him.” Thus it ever is with autoimmune disease. Bilbo Baggins faced the dreadful dragon Smaug, most Spoonies face a live dragon on a daily basis. My dragon is called “Sarcoidosis.” It’s an odd little disease that often fades into remission without signifcant treatment within 1-2 years. Multisystem Sarcoidosis is relatively rare, about 20% of patients manifest the disease in multiple organs, I am such a one. I’m not going to get into the details of the disease, if you want to read more than you ever really wanted to know about it, you can read this article from NIH. Personally, it gives me a headache.

But that’s not what this post is about. This is about how to figure a live dragon into your calculations which is an on-going project here at chez spoons. For years, I personally depopulated the Barnes & Noble self help section trying to figure out how to do “more” with my rapidly dwindling energy reserves. The problem is I keep leaving a live dragon out of my calculations.

Life changes you, age changes you and, trust me on this one, chronic disease changes you. A few years ago I could be up, exercised, meditated, fed, dressed and out the door in about an hour. Nowdays, the morning application of basic medical treatment for the multiple manifestations My Dragon is currently visiting upon me take at least 2 hours. Most of the books I have, and do, read are written for people younger than me balancing children and careers, or bored older folks looking for a change in their routine. I don’t really need to change my routine, My Dragon does that for me on a regular basis. I don’t need to find a foolproof time management system that gets all those pesky items off my To Do list. Nope, what I need to do is just what I can do. No more, no less.

There’s a great deal of serenity in acceptance of things we cannot change. I’m learning (slowly I grant you) to let go of expectations. I expected to get out for a walk today, the temperatures are a balmy 28f, but I must take into my calculations the fact that My Dragon (aka autoimmune system) is a fire drake. Today, the bottoms of my feet are covered with tiny eczema blisters (why yes it is extremely painful, even with neuropathy). Today, I will recalculate my plans and use exercise bands for a seated workout. Today, I will remember that, sooner or later, My Dragon will once again sleep and I’ll have some respite. All good things come to she who waits, always keeping one eye on the live dragon.

Til next time ~stay wild moon child ~JP

JusJoJan – A Little Limpy

Post Knee Surgery – 42 external sutures

For JusJoJan #22 – limp

Limpy

I was, back then, rather limpy,
friends just called me “gimpy”
I kept on hiking all the same
til I could no longer bear the pain
these days I look forward to
all the hikes and trails yet to come
all the things that I’ve longed to do
now that I have knees made of titanium

til next time ~stay trippy hippies ~JP

Spoonie Saturday – The Sky’s the Limit

Well it’s been a week here at Chez Spoons. I’ve just finished off two weeks of steroid therapy to treat my dyshidrotic eczema. Pllffttt ;-p have I ever mentioned how much I dislike steroids? Make me slightly psychotic they do. But I’m done for now and I have to say that my feet do feel much better. Then, in what shall henceforth be known as the “great chinese cabbage incident” I managed to slice off a significant portion of the finger pad on my middle finger, requiring several stitches and bandages, making me look like I’m giving the whole world the bird. I wonder what kind of fingerprint I’ll be left with. On second thought, maybe that’s not such a bad thing buahaha. Perhaps I should now reveal my evil plans for world domination, the sky’s the limit! Oh wait, wait, that’s just the steroids talking, haha (don’t worry that’s not what they really said.)

OK, ok back to Retired Spoonie life. The weather here north of the 45th parallel has finally turned more wintery. Little spits an spurts of snow and cold weather mingled 30-40 degree temperature shifts have my poor spoonie metabolism all out of whack. We moved here because we LIKE the cold. It’s the back and forth that fluster me so. I’m hyper-sensitive to temperature changes right now so we’re implementing cold weather spoon conservation techniques. Why? Well, it’s 69f in my snuggly little home right now, and I’m shivering. Shivering depletes my spoons (energy reserves) very quickly. So, long story short, we implement several strategies to keep warm when we feel the cold.

  • Hot water bottles – Superhubs currently has his wool sock bedecked feet resting on a hot water bottle to keep his feet warm

  • I am currently wearing an extra sweater and an over wrap to keep my core warm and prevent shivers

  • We keep a heated mattress pad and flannel sheets on our bed. The mattress pad is a new addition to our winter regimen and I must say … total score!

  • I am drinking hot water. I drink a lot of water and right now I’m heating it to warm me from the inside out

I’m experimenting with more kitchen based home remedies. This week’s experiment has been an alternative to antacids. I did some research and found a lot of information on fennel. Thus far it’s working really well. When I feel excess acid, instead of reaching for the bottle of antacid, I chew 1/2 teaspoon of fennel seeds. It works just as well or better than the antacids. I’m going to try a fennel tea and see how that works. I’ll be making a “winter blend” tea this week as well, with dried rose hips from my local coop, for added vitamin C.

linked to JusJoJan # 9

 

Til next time ~Stay trippy hippies ~JP