Spoonie Retirement and Magical Mundanities Episode 4 — Beauty and the Bootleg Fire

Welcome fellow Spoonies and various other sentient beings to another episode of Magical Mundanities where a couple of retired Spoonies seek to find the magic in a mundane world.

We continued our stay in Oregon alongside the Willamette River. I did my daily yoga practice outside our Bungalow shortly after sunrise, while the air was still cool and dew-covered grass tickled my toes. Breakfast of oats with yogurt and fruit, followed by a walk along the river. I became enchanted by the antics of some garden snails and spent probably more time than I should have perched on the front step, tea in hand, watching their escapades.

This guy got his shell stuck for a few minutes but eventually wiggled his way down between the boards to cooler, shaded ground.

We took a trip out to the fish hatchery to watch the fingerling salmon practice fall jumping against the flow of the aerators. I find it so amazing that even at this tiny size (the fingerlings are less than two inches long at this point) they have that instinct to leap against the flow. Even though they are certainly not in a natural environment, natural instincts are definitely at play and I delight in their antics. Much of the rest of the hatchery is still closed to the public but all in all it was an entertaining afternoon.

Fingerling Salmon practicing

In the afternoons, after the sun slid west enough to cast shade from the privacy fence, I went back outside to lay in the shade on a beach towel and listen to some vlogs I follow. While there I watched the progress of a “bleeding tooth” mushroom. So named for it’s white cap dotted with red spots. It reminds me of something Alice might have found in wonderland. Although not toxic, the mushroom is too bitter to be considered edible and, so far as I can tell, has no medicinal value. It was interesting to watch the red dots slowly grow and dissolve the entire cap in a matter of days.

Bleeding tooth mushrooms are beautiful. Creepy, but beautiful.

Impending smoke mixed with low cloud cover leads to declining air quality.

Alas, our relaxing three week idle was not to be. Lightning strikes ignited several more forest fires in the area and between the Bootleg and local minor fires, air quality began to plummet. Once it reached 150, we packed up and resumed our travels, rerouting as best we could. The Bootleg fire alone has already consumed over 413,000 acres of forest. It breaks my tree-hugging heart and I fear for the animals and birds. I fear for us all. It seems the entire western half of the US is on fire right now. Ah but that is a story for another time. Right now, there are still tiny moments of magic and beauty to be found along the way.

Give a listen to the Cottage Fairy, a fellow Oregonian, who relays the terror and hope of our current situation.

Til next time ~Stay Wild Moonchild ~JP

Sunday Stills and Weekend Coffee Share in the July heat

Welcome fellow Spoonies and various other sentient beings! Come in, grab your favorite cuppa and let’s visit a bit with Natalie at the Weekend Coffee Share and Terri at Sunday Stills. Our Sunday Stills prompt is “angle” and I found oh so many on our recent adventures.

Last week, we visited Mountain Home, Idaho and took a mini tour of Penny Alley which is a local alleyway that has been dedicated to dozens of urban murals in this tiny rural town. According to the local brochure “in 2016 a group of local artists came together to transform a nearly 320 foot stretch of alleyway in the city’s downtown into an outdoor art gallery featuring a collage of different works of art painted on the walls of local businesses.” We spent a sunny (yeah read that HOT!!!) morning walking the alley, snapping pics, and eating outdoors.

It’s business hours so a lot of this collage is blocked but still sooo worth the look. I can totally dig the wild angles in the dream catcher. Dude!

Adventure is out there!!! LOOK at all the angles in the mural, each sun ray had it’s own design. Plus, it’s purple … and pink! 🙂

I considered cropping this shot but wanted to keep the “OMG this is the alley of actual working businesses” feel. I like the lines of the bricks through the murals and the way the angles are broken up with curves and blending of the individual pictures in the mural.

I particularly love this. Maybe it’s the quote, I am a John Muir fan, or maybe it’s the scene, or maybe it’s the style. This shot is not pixelated, the rough “texture” is intentional. Up close it rather resembles one of those photos transferred to canvas texture. However it was done the result is much in keeping with the alley-feel. I shot this from a straight-on angle with my hinney squeezed up against the far alley wall, stupid camera phone. ;-p

After a long stroll we made our way back to the car through a little craft fair. It was fun to see the offerings. We returned to our hotel and spent the rest of the afternoon at the pool, splashing, relaxing and practicing that wonderous vacation ritual of napping. So many great angles in the rock water feature.

Hope you’re staying cool in your part of the world. We’re enduring another round of record breaking heat here in the west and midwest USA. To read a bit more about Spoonies and summer, check out Magical Mundanities Episode 3 –Summer Spoons.

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

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