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

Christmas Eve Special

From my Polyvore Collection

Christmas time 1897, little Virginia O’Hanlon sparked a movement when she posed the ultimate question, “is there a Santa Claus.” Now I don’t think Francis Church intended to write a world changing essay on the fundamental basis of belief, but that’s what happened. Just for a day or two, let us push aside the veil of disenchantment in this jaded world and one more time … believe.

DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’
Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

“VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernatural beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.” ~Francis Church

I believe in Fairies and for today I will choose to believe in Santa once again. Clap loudly if you agree.

Til next time ~Peace ~JP

Spoonie Retirement — Life, Love, and Dyshidrotic Eczema in the time of Covid

from my polyvore collection

One of the things I’ve learned about autoimmune diseases (yes plural) is that the dad-blasted things are nothing if not unpredictible. As a lot of you know, Superhubs and I have multiple autoimmune diseases … each. Mostly, I talk (or rant as the case may be) about MS, Diabetes, and Sarcoidosis as those are the “big three” around here. They are like the founding fathers of autoimmune disease they are the Godfathers from which all the minor ailments seem to stem. This week, it’s dyshidrotic eczema. Big words that mean a multi-stage skin affliction that includes liquid filled blisters, hard bumps, cracking skin … yadayadaya. I’ve had it before and it’s a bloody (literally) nuisance, usually flared up by stress. My last go was a couple of years ago when I got it on the tops of my toes. Sore toes, summer, flip flops, life goes on. THIS year (thank you pandemic panic disorder) I’ve got the *&^$%#*& stuff on the BOTTOM of my toes. Here’s the scene.

My Immune System: “Something’s wrong, I can feel tingling in my toes.”

Me: “This is no big deal, a bit of dermatitis, it’ll go away, just stay calm.”

My Immune System: “No, something is definitely wrong, I need to do something.”

Me: “We went to the doctor, it’s OK.”

My Immune System: “No, it’s all wrong! I’m gonna SCRATCH it and see if that helps.”

Me: “Back away from those toes Missy, or so help me, I’ll put gloves on you again.”

My Immune System going into total hysteria: “NO NO NO I have to DO something, I’ve got to destroy this, whatever it is. I’m gonna kill it … with FIRE!”

Me: gritting my teeth and grabbing the prescription steroid cream while my immune system takes a blow torch to my toes, “D***!”

Yeah, that’s pretty much the nightly scene here at Chez Spoons this week.

Needless to say, this is one of those times when a stocked pantry is a lifesaver. Dinner is already decided, all the ingredients are in-house and shortly we’ll be enjoying a quick chicken stirfry featuring canned chicken breast, freeze-dried maitake mushrooms and frozen stir fry vegetables. Voila! The less time spent on my feet right now, the better.

What I’m watching:

Til next time ~Peace ~JP

Spoonie Retirement – Life, Love and Diabetes in the time of Covid

We had our first interview with the new Endocrinologist, according to whom Superhubs has type 1 diabetes. OK, I get that LADA is really just a delayed (until adulthood) onset type 1 diabetes. As we began discussing his history and I mentioned that he’d been fairly well controlled until the brain surgery, she kind of back tracked. Apparently when scheduling the phone call, the good doctor was under the impression that SH had type 1 and it became uncontrolled because of an MS flare. Say What? She didn’t know that he was diagnosed with type 2 just 3 years ago, or that he had 2 brain surgeries, strokes, seizures, etc. etc. Long story short, once I told her a little more of his history she decided she needs to see him … soon … in person. So, next month we’ll go in and see the new endocrinologist, until then, we keep the current course of treatment, check blood glucose 4 times per day, keep a food diary so she can get a look at what he’s eating. Dr. indicates she wants to start Superhubs on a new regimen so that he can “eat like normal people.” What does that mean? You mean we eat like abnormal people? That we’re supposed to supersize our fries (not that we’ve eaten fries in like eons)? Do normal people have steel cut oat porridge for breakfast 5 days a week? How about fish for 3 dinners a week? Now, I don’t want to get off on a rant, but IMHO a good deal of the obesity epidemic plaguing this country is from eating “like normal people.” *inhale JP … stepping off my spoonie soapbox*

In other health news, yours truly is again showing: anemia, high vitamin D and high B12 levels (all of which are not unheard of with autoimmune diseases such as mine). Whew, it’s gonna be an interesting holiday here at chez spoons.

Back to the topic of seasonal eating. The local produce is becoming more and more scarce. I’ve kind of swapped for CBB (Community Based Buying) for now as agriculture is hibernating (pun intended). This week’s local purchases consisted of:

    • 1.5 dozen free range chicken eggs

    • 1 pasture raised chicken

    • 1 pint of local honey

I cooked 1/2 of the chicken for dinner, we’ll have the other half next week and the carcass has made wonderful broth for soups and chilis. The eggs are making omelettes and egg salads. The honey is a pantry staple, I use 1/2 teaspoon with lemon juice for a scratchy throat but don’t use it for much more than that. That pint will likely last us through the winter.

I’ll be making a dried fruit compote to accompany our low carb pancakes this week, using more of the dried fruit from the pantry. I use about 1/2 cup chopped dried apple rings, apricots, raisins, whatever I have, cover with cold water and simmer until it gets thick and the fruit is tender. Personally, I add ground cinnamon, cloves, ginger and a bit of lemon juice to the mix. I don’t add sugar or other sweeteners as we find the dried fruit plenty sweet for our tastes.

So that’s it for this week from the wacky world of Autoimmune Warriors in the time of Covid-19. Hoping you and yours have a wonderful week. Up next week, using those dried vegetables from my pantry stores.  🙂

What I’m listening to today

Til next time ~Peace ~JP

Spoonie Retirement – Life, love, and flu shots in the time of Covid

It’s been a busy week here at Chez Spoons. I had and actual visit (in person) with my Primary Care Dr. got my annual blood work, script refills, and a flu shot. I suffer from a mild allergy to raw eggs and so haven’t taken a flu shot in many a year. Back in the day when I was younger and healthier, my allergist would give me half dose, have me wait an hour, come back a week later and repeat with the second half of the dose. Who needs that pain in the … arm? Anyway, I read a CDC article on how a flu shot is potentially more important this year since a combined run of Round 2 Covid AND a nasty influenza could overwhelm the hospitals. Keeping in mind that my home state has experienced a scary high increase in Covid cases and related deaths I decided to check into it. Low and behold, they have an eggless vaccine … who knew. So I am all vacced up and ready to roll.

Grocery shopping has been kind of minimal this week. My Community Based Agriculture box included:

Fresh Produce
* 2 turnips
* 1 small bunch of kale
* 1 beautiful bunch of celery – both this and the kale came from a “Hoop House” farm.
* 8 oz organic red quinoa
* 4 oz english breakfast tea
* 6 oz dehydrated tomato powder

As you can see, produce is getting kind of scarce this time of year. I’m beginning to fall back on my old stand-bys, whole grains (well pseudo grains), nuts and dehydrated fruits and vegetables as well as canned and frozen. We’ve loosened up Superhubs’ carb count just a wee bit since he started back on insulin. LADA diabetes is not well understood but he seems to be doing much better on the low dosage of insulin and upping his “slow carbs”. I’m using a little more beans, sweet potato and quinoa, bringing his total daily net carb count back to 80-100. We’ll visit with the endocrinologist next week but I am hopeful that this diagnosis may well improve his quality of care.

How’s your week been? Did you get a flu shot this year?

Til next time ~Peace ~JPP

Spoonie Retirement – Life, love and Autoimmune Diabetes in the time of Covid

Last week I kind of got off the Seasonal Eating Theme due to a holiday-stress-induced philosophizing tangent. *snap out of it JP, Winter is Coming* (pun intended). We got word this past week that Superhubs does indeed have LADA (Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults) or type 1.5 diabetes. What the heck is that? Good question and not a lot of answers. Type 2 diabetes is more of a metabolic disorder where the body cannot properly utilize the insulin that is produced. Type 1.5 is an autoimmune disease where the immune system kills off the beta cells that produce insulin. Both types develop in adulthood and are slower onset than type 1 diabetes. We meet with the endocrinologist next week and will find out then how or if this affects our dietary plan. Superhubs’ primary care doctor has already started him back on insulin and the results are pretty encouraging.

Anywho, back to seasonal/local eating. Last week’s CBA box (Community Based Agriculture) included a local pasture raised chicken which we roasted up for our Thanksgiving feast. It being just the two of us the bird has fed us for a couple of days with plenty of good broth and bits left over for salads and soups this week. Our CBA box this week included:

*Fresh Produce:
1 head of butter lettuce from a local hydroponic garden
1 small head of green cabbage from local farm
1 Yak sirloin steak (yes you read that right Yak like the big hairy cow)
1 dozen extra large eggs from a local farm mixed brown and white
6 oz local dairy cheddar cheese curds
*dried goods/spices/teas
1 bag dried apple slices from local farms

The uses are pretty obvious this week. The lettuce goes for salads and taco cups, the cabbage will get fried for a side dish and used in soup. Those beautiful eggs will make wonderful breakfasts and some egg salad for lunch. The cheese curds will adorn my luncheon salads (Superhubs is dairy free). The dried apple slices will be used for snacks and some cooked up with left over raisins from the pantry for a yummy pancake topping.

What I’m watching right now:

Til next time ~Peace ~JP

Happy Thanksgiving – How to Stuff a Turkey

From my polyvore collection

How to stuff a turkey

The plan:
Melt a stick of organic unsalted butter in a small saucepan with the juice and zest of one lemon and one tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves from the garden. Take the giblets out of the turkey and wash the turkey inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers and pat the outside dry. Place the turkey in a large roasting pan. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the turkey cavity. Stuff the cavity with a bunch of thyme, halved lemon, quartered onion, and cloves of garlic. Brush the outside of the turkey with the butter mixture massaging gently and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the turkey. Pour a cup of hot spiced wine and relax while turkey cooks.

Grab turkey giblets bag and yank out of turkey along with a liter of frozen turkey blood & guts. Swear profusely when the giblets bag hits the floor with a splat and breaks open. Gulp hot wine, burning tongue in process swear profusely. Shove gibletless turkey into sink and grab a roll of paper towels and bottle of spray cleaner. Grab a bottle of chilled wine, pour a glass to fortify your constitution and cool your burned tongue. Squirt leftover lime juice from margarita night into turkey butt and toss in a handful of italian seasoning. Glass another pour of wine. Rub a stick of margarine over turkey, sprinkle liberally with every dried spice you have, shove rest of the butter up the turkey butt. Giggle inanely about “turkey butt.” Another wine of glass get. Ponder meat thermometer and whether or not to shove it up turkey butt. Wrink some dine. Put turkey in oven. Boddle empty, grab another. Remember to turn on oven. Roast self with another winey. Turk the bastey, wine the drink. Cook for 4 hours, remove the oven from the turkey. Fick up the purkey off the tloor, invent new curse words. Grab another wottle of bine, pour a glass of turkey. Turk the carvey thing, set the table. Look around in state of confusion when no one arrives at the appointed dinner hour. Pour cup of hot wine, add ice. Ponder the meaning of “daylight savings time.” Look at phone buzzing in hand, text message “want pizza for dinner? Wednesday night special?” Drop phone.

Til next time ~Happy Thanksgiving ~JP

Spoonie Retirement – Happiness, Holidays and Belief in the time of Covid

digital art from my polyvore collection

Here we sit perched on the precipice of another “holiday season” staring into the abyss of Covid-19. It is “Thanksgiving” week coming up here in the US, time to stop and ponder the meaning of thanks, the meaning of giving, the meaning of holidays, the meaning of family, the meaning of our beliefs. This year there is no gathering of family and friends for us. Covid runs roughshod over the upcoming holiday but still I am oh so grateful. I’m grateful for too many things to put into this post or even into words.

Thanksgiving for me is a celebration of bounty and harvest and the blessings of the good earth.  As one who honors many traditions, who sees beauty and truth in many different religions, I do not tend to assume that everyone (or for that matter anyone) shares my personal spiritual beliefs. This leads me to contemplate, what is it that I do believe in?

I believe in magic. The magic of art; a picture that captures your eye, a song you can’t get out of your head. I believe in the magic of sunrise, the moon, and a good cup of coffee. I believe in magic because it is the only way I can make sense of this insanely mundane world.

I believe in the power of positive thinking, and the power of a thankful heart, and the power of love. I believe that people are basically good, that virtue, honesty, and character are more important that money and power, that good will always triumph over evil, and that true love never dies.

Yes, mostly I believe in love.  If I could leave a message on the sky for all the world it would be “fall in love whenever you can,” Don’t be afraid. Take the leap, if it doesn’t work out you will still be a better person for trying. “What if I fall?” you ask, oh but my darling, what if you fly?

Everybody’s got to believe in something, I believe I’ll have a cup of tea. Til next time ~Peace ~JP

Spoonie Retirement — life, love and groceries in the time of COVID

Spoonie living is a series of complications and considerations. Things like grocery shopping for spoonies in the time of covid are even more complex than before. Now every meal must take into consideration, availability of ingredients, nutritional analysis, ease of preparation, and cost of said meal. Grocery shopping used to be a recreational activity for Superhubs and I. Now, it’s a chore.

When I was younger (OK a LOT younger), I was an earth child. I lived off the land for a few years and loved the experience. I have some seriously mad skills that need dusting off. In my post earth child years when I could no longer grow/raise/hunt my own food, I enjoyed CSA boxes. Community Supported Agriculture brings a portion of a local farm’s harvest to you in a cardboard box. When we first moved to South Dakota where CSA’s a few and far between, we simply bought a box from the Farmer’s Market in town. Pretty cool seeing what’s in season, what’s growing and what’s not and whipping up meals based on that. Of course, winter comes early here with a first frost date in September and a last frost date in late May; we have a really short growing season. What’s a “farm girl at heart” to do?

Fortunately, our local farmer’s market runs all year with on-line ordering. I build my own CSA box from the market’s offerings and my local health food coop. Fun huh?!? Then, I base my menus on what’s available. Right now, fresh produce is limited to “storage” crops. We still have offerings of dried items, some greenhouse growth, meats, cheeses, nuts, spices, honey, teas and lots of preserved and baked goods. Yummmmm!

Oh yeah, back to the whole “grocery shopping” theme of this post. So, that’s my “recreational” shopping these days. The bulk of our grocery shopping is done on-line. We order from Costco, Amazon, Nuts.com, and our local Safeway, farmers market, coop and health food stores. It works but it’s not as much fun. I’m striving to keep our eating seasonal this year as I firmly believe that seasonal eating is healthier both for us and the planet. One caveat here, Superhubs and I both follow a low carb diet, he is diabetic and I’m just fat, er, ah … fluffy. A lot of the currently available storage crops are out of our carb allowances; onions, potatoes and several of the winter squashes fall into this category. Boxes average $25/week.

My CBAB (Community Based Agriculture Box)

*Fresh Produce
8 oz. cranberries
1 medium spaghetti squash
*dried goods/spices/teas
1 oz freeze dried maitake (hen of the woods) mushrooms
4 oz dried apricots
3 oz chili powder
2 oz cinnamon black tea
8 oz local sharp cheddar cheese

Here’s how we used them:
winter fruit compote – cranberries & apricots (raisins from pantry)
low carb spaghetti marinara – spaghetti squash & some mushrooms
bok choy & mushrooms – dried maitake
low carb turkey chili – chili powder
various lunch plates & cheese omelettes – cheddar cheese
various lovely afternoon teas – cinnamon black tea

Do you eat seasonally? What are some of your favorite fall meals?

Til next time ~Peace ~JP