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

Spoonie Retirement — Life, Love, and RV living in the time of Covid

Greetings fellow Spoonies, not Spoonies, and various other sentient beings (yeah waaaay too much SciFi around here). February is the month of love and Paula’s got the February Love Me Challenge going which is awesome. Today I’m loving my RV lifestyle.

Living full time (and by that I mean 24/7/365) in an RV can be a challenge. It’s also a lot of fun. In 2019 we made the decision to “come off the road” which simply put means we sold our motorhome and replaced it with a small 5th wheel which stays at the RV park year round. The membership park to which we belong offers a moving service, as well as both long and short term storage for the times we’re off site. Now we take vacations (well not so much this past year … stupid pandemic).

So here we are still “livin the dream.” The views and openess of Hart Ranch RV resort are awesome. You don’t get this kind of views in a house, well not one we can afford anyway. This week we’ve worked hard and overcome several challenges. The temperatures have been below zero farenheit for over a week and we are living in an RV none of which are designed for long term use. The inside stays pleasantly warm with our propane furnace, electric faux fireplace and a couple of tiny space heaters.

We lost running water sometime last week. Keeping fresh water running in arctic temps is difficult at best, so when the line freezes we disconnect the hose, bring it in to thaw and run on fresh water tanks until things begin to thaw. Generally, our heated water hose keeps us going as long as we stay somewhere near or above zero. Yesterday, our reserve tanks ran almost dry, so we bundled up, hooked up the hose and refilled the tanks. The next problem is the “black tank” yep, that’s the sewage holding tank. We drain twice a week and the problem in these temps is to keep the drain hose and the valves from freezing. To that end we have a small outdoor space heater (milkhouse heater) under the RV skirts which warms the underbelly enough to keep the drain hose running.

All of this requires outdoor work. A friend who spent 6 months working in antarctica told us it took an hour to don 25 pounds of clothes and gear, to go outside for 20 minutes and another hour to get out of said gear and was worth every minute of prep spent. So, we spend 20 minutes donning 15+ pounds of layered clothing and proceed outside to do 30 minutes of work. As Spoonies, we are acutely aware of the dangers presented by hypothermia, we stay out for 5-10 minutes then come inside, warm up, and go back out to finish. Wind chills are particularly dangerous. Extreme cold can exacerbate symptoms of autoimmune disease and both of us have neuropathy in feet and hands. Even clearing a path to the car can take waaaaay longer than expected. But … we adapt (we are Borg, we will adapt, yeah OK definitely too much SciFi).

So there you have it, a day in the life of two almost cryogenically frozen Spoonie SoDaks (South Dakotans).

 

Til next time ~bundle up, stay warm, stay safe ~JP

Spoonie Retirement – Life, Love and Menu Planning in the time of COVID

Greetings fellow Spoonies, retirees, and various other persons of interesting titles. It’s been a wacky couple of weeks here at Chez Spoons. The weather finally turned cold, with a vengence. Thursday, it was 62f when we went into town. Today’s high was 6f. No that’s not a typo, it’s a 52 degree shift in daily high temps. The north wind blew through here Thursday night, bringing biting cold. Please don’t even ask me about tonight’s projected lows (brrrrr). Alright enough whining about the weather JP, get on with it.

I was preparing to write a post for Paula’s February Love Me challenge about how much I love having a meal plan and how it helps keep me sane, er ah … save me spoons, and figured I’d combine posts (no I am not lazy, the politically correct term is ‘spoon deficient’). Like a lot of Spoonies I have days, a LOT of days (OK most days) when I’m lucky to get in a shower and thinking about what to make for dinner just can’t penetrate the dull grey haze that is brain fog. “JP, what the heck is the big deal about meal plans?”

Well, mostly, they help me save my spoons (energy) for more important things, like figuring out how to adjust the water flow on my shower so the spray doesn’t sting my hyper-sensitive skin, or whether or not I actually swallowed that pain pill, little things like that. Here’s what menu planning does for me:

  • Helps me save my “brain spoons” you know those spoons related to brain fog and general forgetfulness (I am NOT old enough for senior moments, I swear).
  • Saves my normal “energy” spoons, every meal in my arsenal is less than 30 minutes hands on and most are “on the table” 30 minutes or less.
  • Saves me spoons when shopping. I know what I’m having so I know what I need to pick up. I also keep a “master” grocery list that I just check off when I’ve used the last of a staple (all of you stop wadding up those papers to throw at me, put down that rotten tomato). I grant you that’s a little hyper-organized but I really can’t help it (yes I also sort my pills for the week into multiple marked containers) it’s an OCD thing.
  • It saves me the weird looks when I innocently ask “what’s for dinner honey?” Instead I can ask “What day is it?” and get an actual answer.

OK, now you know why, next up is how? Personally, we follow a basic “theme” dinner menu. Monday – Burgers, Tuesday – Tofu, Wednesday – Fish/chicken, Thursday – Bangers (sausages), Friday — Fish, Saturday — Casserole, Sunday — Chili. The side dishes may change depending on produce availability and our ability to grocery shop but I know what I’m working with and that’s just fine. Doesn’t that get boring? No, but we’re that kind of people who can happily eat the same foods every week and I’m a pretty darned good “pantry cook.”

So there you have it. The web is loaded with great “low spoons” meals and meal plans for just about any diet you could follow. Save your spoons for the important stuff. I’m off to do … something … wait a second, what the heck is the car key doing in the refrigerator?

12 super easy meals for chronically ill cooks

Til next time ~Stay wild moon child ~JP

Spoonie Retirement – Life, love and immunity in the time of Covid – part 2

For our JusJoJan and SoCS prompt: Your prompt for #JusJoJan and Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “close eyes and point.” When you’re ready to write your post, open a book, a newspaper, or whatever is handy and close your eyes and point. Whatever word or picture your finger lands on, make that the basis of your SoCS/JusJoJan post. Enjoy! “Advantages”

One of the advantages of retirement is the extra time you have to invest in those projects you’ve been putting off. Of course, that’s also the greatest disadvantage of spoonie retirement, all that time stretching out before you, time to study subjects long ago forsaken in the name of “making a living.” Time to tackle the lifestyle changes and projects you have planned to do for years but hadn’t the time. And, naturally it also gives you lots of time to lament that spoonie reality of now having time but lacking energy, strength and resources to perform those studies, projects, and lifestyle changes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining (well maybe a little *sniffle, sniffle*) I’m happy with my lot in life, although not particularly energetic.

I took some time measurements this week and found out that it takes me every bit of 1.25 hours every morning just to deal with basic medical treatments of a variety of the manifestations of my disease(s), all of which are repeated again at the end of the day. So that’s 2.5 hours out of my day right there. Needless to say anything that can save me a few steps (or a few bucks) or increase my energy level even a bit, I’m game for a try.

Last week I mixed up a batch of immunity tea blend and this week I brewed up a pot, added a touch of manuka honey and used it for an immunity boosting tonic. I cannot really say as to the effectiveness of it but I haven’t gotten sick but I do seem to be recovering from multiple minor injuries better than I expected and hey it tastes good, has no known side effects what’s not to like right? I say bring back the hippy dippy teas of my childhood! Now for those of you who lack the energy or resources to make your own tea blend, there are lots of immunity boosting teas on the market. I don’t generally use them because many include echinacea which I don’t use (autoimmune diseases …. duh). Whether using this blend or a store purchased one, always make sure there are no contraindicated ingredients based on your particular spoonieness. With that said, here is Farren’s “Immunity Tisane” recipe. Yes … Farren is a dear and yes it’s a tisane since it doesn’t actually contain leaves of the Camellia Sinensis (tea plant).

Farren’s Magic Immunity Tisane

1/4 Cup dried hibiscus flower
1/4 Cup dried elderberries
1/4 Cup rose hips (I buy whole and crush them with the flat of a knife)
1/4 Cup dried apple bits (very small)
2 Tablespoons finely chopped crystalized ginger (is what I had on hand but unsweetened dried will work fine)
2 Tablespoons dried orange peel
2 Tablespoons dried cornflowers

Place all ingredients in a 2 Cup glass jar (I use a wide mouth canning jar), replace the lid and shake until ingredients are well disbursed.

To brew: use 1 Tablespoon of tea per 12-16 oz boiling water, steep for about 5 minutes. Use more or less tea, and/or add sweetener to taste.

Til next time ~Stay trippy hippies ~JP

Spoonie Retirement – Life, Love and Immunity in the time of Covid part 1

Photo by Olenka Sergienko on Pexels.com

Linked to JusJoJan SOCS

Your prompt for #JusJoJan and Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “first thing.” Start your post with the words, “first thing” and go from there. Bonus points if you end your post with the last thing. Have fun!

First things first, it’s snowing and we just got home from getting Superhubs’ first dose of Covid vaccine. Doesn’t look like the snow will really stick but it sure is pretty. I am bundled up inside with a nice cup of peppermint tea, getting ready to start dinner *insert contented sigh*.

The week has gone by as weeks do, I’ll write more about the vaccine in a few days but so far, so good. This week, I’ve been experimenting around with home remedies, using items from my pantry and those purchased in my bulk spice order from the coop last week. I have not attempted the fennel tea just yet as the seeds alone quell my GERD symptoms so well I’m hesitant to change it. I’ve also mixed up a batch of immunity tea which I’ll share soon, but for now, I’m off to whip up supper. After all, first things first. 🙂

What I’m listening to:

Til next time ~Peace ~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

Spoonie Saturday – JusJoJan – In the Corner

In the corner of a dusty shelf there sat a tiny book, “Kitchen Mystic Spiritual Lessons Hidden in Everyday Life.” A pocket sized paperback filled with everyday insights. I remember the first time I picked it up and knew that this tiny treasure was meant for me. It is battered and wrinkled, with dog-eared pages. I take it down every few years and re-read it, I handle it carefully. You see, I’m a kitchen mystic myself, I see the Divine in a thin slice of red onion shimmering like stained glass. I get the magic in a well brewed cup of tea and the twinkling eye of the Great Mother winking at me from the chips of white quartz along the road. Oh yes, I get it. I am a Mystic Hippie Spoonie, living proof that if you can actually remember the 70’s you didn’t really LIVE them.

This year I’m getting back to my Mystic Hippie roots. I want to live in tune with the rhythms of sun and moon, seasons and stars instead of clocks and calendars. More in kairos, less in chronos. This is my first full year of real retirement and I intend to live it well. Among my goals and intentions for this year is to reduce my use of OTC meds. To that end, this week I made up a batch of “cough tonic.” I’m a life long asthmatic, my first hospitalization came at 6 months of age and I have not had a significant remission since that time (we’re not going to discuss exactly HOW LONG that is). I cough, a lot, all the time, for various reasons most of which medical science has no treatment to offer. So, back to Mother Nature we go.

My paternal grandmother had a recipe for a cough medicine she used and passed along to me, although it is effective, I no longer use it due to the alcohol content. In case you’re interested it was simply:
1 part lemon juice
1 part honey
1 part whiskey
shake well and take 1 teaspoon as required (yeah that’s gonna happen *cough cough*)

That was pretty much par for the course in the 1930’s but I felt it needed an update, a non-alcoholic update, ’cause ya know. After much on-line research and reading up on different folk remedies I was panic stricken intimidated by the boiling and extracting, straining, reducing and … cooking. Did I mention that although I am a mystic witch in the kitchen, I’m like a lazy totally laid back and easy going Spoonie. So, lazy witch creative genius that I am, I concocted a lemon ginger honey peppermint tonic that works pretty well. It’s a little more acidic than I’d prefer but it works. Here’s what I did:

From the Lazy Mystic Kitchen Spoonie:

I heated 6 oz water to a boil, dropped in two Yogi Teas Lemon Ginger teabags, cover and let it steep for about an hour. Remove the teabags, reheat the tea to hot (not boiling). Stir in 1-2 Tablespoon of honey (local raw) and 1 Tablespoon of virgin coconut oil, about 30 drops of peppermint extract and a dab of ginger (the kind in the tube). I immulsified with an immersion blender, let cool and poured into a labeled jar. Take 1-2 Tablespoons as needed for cough. So far so good, I’m off the multi-symptom flu medicine that I’ve used for years for coughs. Please remember that most reliable sources do not recommend using essential oils internally. I used GAIA herbs liquid extract which is MUCH less potent than an essential oil but is pure peppermint leaf extract. There, butt covered.

Well, I’m off to make a hot toddy, errr,, ahhh I mean a cough and cold tonic.

Linked to JusJoJan

 

Til next time ~Stay trippy fellow hippies ~JP

Poems, Prayers and New Years

As 2020 draws to it’s close and the new year beckons, I pause for reflection. It’s been a year of changes, oh so many changes. Pain, frustration, fear and general ickyness abounded. But like each of her sisters before her, 2020 has also been filled with joy and promise. I’ve had better years, but I’ve also had worse and the older I grow, the more I realize that every year, every day, has it’s share of Sacred, ordinary moments. I look forward to 2021, to finding the magic in the mundane, the beauty in the chaos, the mystical in the everyday. Farewell 2020, thank you for the blessings. Welcome 2021, thank you for the unknown gifts that are waiting to be discovered. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

“I’ve been lately thinking about my life’s time
All the things I’ve done, how it’s been
And I can’t help believing in my own mind
I know I’m gonna hate to see it end

I’ve seen a lot of sunshine, slept out in the rain
Spent a night or two all on my own
I’ve known my lady’s pleasures, had myself some friends
And spent a night or two in my own home

I have to say it now, it’s been a good life, all in all
It’s really fine to have a chance to hang around
And lie there by the fire and watch the evening tire
While all my friends and my old lady sit and pass the pipe around

Talk of poems and prayers and promises and things that we believe in
How sweet it is to love someone, how right it is to care
How long it’s been since yesterday and what about tomorrow?
What about our dreams and all the memories we share?

The days they pass so quickly now, nights are seldom long
Time around me whispers when it’s cold
The changes somehow frighten me, still I have to smile
It turns me on to think of growing old

For though my life’s been good to me there’s still so much to do
So many things my mind’s never known

I’d like to raise a family, I’d like to sail away
And dance across the mountains on the moon

I have to say it now, it’s been a good life, all in all
It’s really fine to have the chance to hang around
And lie there by the fire and watch the evening tire
While all my friends and my old lady, sit and watch the sun go down

Talk of poems and prayers and promises and things that we believe in
How sweet it is to love someone, how right it is to care

How long it’s been since yesterday and what about tomorrow?
What about our dreams and all the memories we share?”
~John Denver

~ all lyrics are the product of my memory. Any discrepancies or divergences from actual fact should not be viewed as errors but as all natural variations proving that I did, in fact, live through the 60’s~

Til next time ~Peace ~JPP

 

Spoonie Retirement – Life, Love and Universal Gifts in the time of COVID

Rainbow directly over my home Christmas Eve morning

This week passed largely uneventful for us here at Chez Spoons. No snow, no sudden storms. We had a lovely little Christmas celebration just the two of us with lots of texts, facebooking, phone calls and love being shared among family and friends around the country. I laid out my Winter offerings of nuts, fruits and seeds for the wildlife with whom I am honored to share this little section of the world. We have a small herd of white-tail deer that make their winter home here at the RV park and I am always delighted to see them. Although, the bucks do tend to have staring contests with Superhubs when we pass too closely. He gives them the “alpha” look, puts his arm around me (MY doe) and we pass on, leaving them in peace.

The universe saw fit to bless me with even more than my share of gifts this year as somehow it always does. I was surprised to find coloring books and projects from Superhubs. How does he always sense when I’m thinking that I want to do more “artistic” stuff but am never sure how to start since I am totally lacking in the artistic genome. Perfect! Christmas Eve morning dawned bright and clear with a rainbow situated directly over our home (you can see it in the pic at the top of this post.) During our Christmas morning walk, I looked up to see a gorgeous red tailed hawk circling lazily overhead. It made several passes but I was so awestruck I didn’t get a single shot off. Ah well, the best pictures are always in the memories.

In keeping with our “Community Based Buying” project our Christmas dinner consisted of a Korean BBQ style meal featuring a New York cut Yak steak from Hay Springs Yaks. Thinly sliced and quickly pan seared, with peanut sauce (homemade), kimchi from our local coop, quinoa and black bean salad, seared green beans with freeze dried morel mushrooms. Dessert was a lovely dark peppermint mocha truffle with decaf espresso.

One of the crafts I’ve decided to work on this year is my “kitchen apothecary” I’ll be sharing the results of my most recent experiments into an effective cough relief next week.

Til then ~Peace ~JP

What I’m Watching