Flourishing Friday

It comes as no surprise to this Spoonie that there is still much ado about the “looming recession” and many a Social Security Retiree starting to sweat. Not me. After all, a recession is the ebb part of the natural ebb and flow of the U.S. Economy. There are lots of reasons not to fear the recession. My personal favorite is that it gives me permission to release my inner frugalista. So what did I do this week to save money?

1 The biggie – I applied for and received a new activity monitor (Fitbit Inspire 2) from my Medicare plan. Woohoo, I was thinking it was coming up on time to replace my Flex and voila, email from my plan provider advised me I am entitled to a new monitor every 2 years. Yeah BABY! And, I absolutely love it. It has really helped motivate me to get my steps in, water, etc. etc.
2 Food waste awareness February – I made luscious bone broth from a chicken carcass and vegetable scraps. Using it for soup this week.
3 Baked a batch of protein cookies for my diabetic. They nicely replace the outrageously priced snack bars we were buying for glycemic lows.
4 scored a great deal on the high fiber crackers we eat while returning from a Dr. appointment.
5 I made several art journal pages from repurposed ephemera and art supplies that I already have.
6 Took a free on-line class on Tarot cards and read e-books through my local library.
7 downloaded two guided meditations from Freegal (part of my library e-resources).

So that’s my week. How did yours go? Are you feeling any of the pinch of the recession? Doing anything different to save your personal resources?

Til next time ~Peace Peeps ~JP

Monday Musings – Year of the Rabbit

The Lunar New Year arrived early this year on January 22, 2023. Although we didn’t celebrate in grand style, there were noodles. Really, noodles and slurping and upside down fú hanging :-). There was time for reminiscing about times past, friends from China, Taiwan and Japan. Walks through Tiger Hill pagoda and Lotus Hill, the Guanzhou zoo, Villa Meilu and the Yangtze river delta. Photos from Shugakuin and Kyoto bring smiles. So many wonderful memories. 2023 is the year of the Rabbit symbolizing longevity, peace and prosperity in Chinese culture and is predicted to be a year of hope. May it be so.

Peace Peeps ~JP

Monday Mundanities – a little digital art project

So, I finally got my new computer up and running and have some updated software. Shall we play a game? *insert best computer voice* I’m having fun lately making digital art compilations and memes and thought I’d share a few.

Wise words

If you do digital art, feel free to leave any words of wisdom or links in the comments and I will happily check out any inspiration I can get 🙂

til next time ~ Stay Wild Moonchild ~JP

Sunday Stills and Monday Musings

For Terri’s Sunday Stills Challenge (a bit late)

It’s been a crazy weekend (hence my tardiness) of gardening. Almost have the backyard finished. Ah but JP you say, you live in a townhouse, don’t they take care of the landscape maintenance? Sort of, we have three feet in each direction of our townhomes that are ours to plant as we please (as long as it’s attractive). We moved in in November so I knew there would be work to be done this spring and I was NOT wrong. OK, enough about me, on to photos.

Most of these are from my archives that I thought “black and whited” up pretty well. To quote the song Black and White, “The ink is black, the page is white, together we learn, to read and write.” Black and White was originally written in 1954 by David I. Arkin and Earl Robinson, but topped the charts some 18 years later in 1972 with Three Dog Night’s pop version.

Sunrise on Kauai in black and white

Let’s start off in the land of vibrant color, Hawaii. Here a stunning sunrise on Kauai leached of color. The curls of waves and sea foam give the shot some depth.

Mokolii, Hawaii

Mokolii tiny island of Oahu also known as Chinaman’s Hat for it’s distinctive shape. I like the “old timey” quality the black and white here. Taken from Kualoa Ranch.

Plumeria in Kapaa

This is one shot I didn’t really like as well in black and white. The plumeria is such a beautiful, vibrant flower and although I do quite like the shading caused by the nearly translucent white of the flower, it leaves me kind of eh. Shot from our balcony in Kapaa. Linking this one up for Cee’s FOTD.

Traditional pavilion in Lulin Lake, Mt. Lushan, China

Now on over to Jiujiang, China. Thanks to the foggy day, the above photo didn’t have a great deal of color to begin with, but I think the starkness afforded by the black and white graphic enhances it a bit more. It was windy and I love the tiny ripple effect on the water.

Spruce Tree House, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Back in the US, here a set of ruins known as Spruce Tree House built by the Anasazi some 800 years ago. The settlement was abandoned about 1300, there is much speculation as to why. Nevertheless, the ancient ones left behind a marvelous legacy of wonder. The ruins were discovered in the 1880’s and plundered until Mesa Verde became a national park in 1906. Once again, I like the stark graphic black and white gives this shot.

Bad Water Basin, Death Valley National Park California

And last, but not least, a shot that’s not black and white but might as well be. I left this photo as is to show the sliver of blue sky that draws just that much more attention to the desolation of the place. Bad Water Basin Salt Flats lies 282 feet below sea level and encompasses 200 square miles.

Black is the absence of color,
combination of all makes white
life is lived somewhere in between
filled with color and light ~JP

My father was color-blind, I used to fetch resistors him which were color-coded, ahhhh but I digress once again, a tale for another time.

a hui hou kakou (until we meet again) ~JP

Mundane Magic Monday — Medicare and Mental Health

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Memorable Moments

Our Sunday Stills challenge for this week is Making Meaningful Memories. Now I’m not a particular talented or trained photographer, so to me the making of meaningful memories involves using photos to jog the old noggin. I love doing photo challenges for precisely that reason. I dig through old shots (or new ones), edit to improve them a bit and, particularly with Terri’s challenge, I always learn something. I’m also linking this up to John’s Cellpic Sunday. Seems most of my shots these days are taken with my cell phone because I just never seem to have the “good camera” with me when I just HAVE to take a snap of something. 🙂 So without further ado, here are a few samples and why they are so meaningful.

Me building sand castles on Waikiki beach

Superhubs and I have been to Hawaii many times and loved every trip. This particular shot typifies all that I love about the Hawaiian islands. I sit on the beach, I breathe, I relax, and I play. Whether or not the sandcastle is “good enough” never enters my mind. The fact that the waves will wash it away shortly reminds me of the Taoist saying “you have to see the glass as already broken.” Yeah, deep I know, ponder that one for a decade of two. Although the condition of my knees is certainly not the focus of the shot, it also reminds me why I was sitting on the beach. Those knees are swollen and painful and frankly couldn’t walk another step, so I sat on the beach and made sand castles, until I recovered enough to return to the hotel.

A rooftop garden at our hotel in Shenzhen China

This is one of many shots from our travels in China. Taken from my cell phone, I edited the photo in my standard Toshiba photo editor on my laptop. The main alteration was to increase the contrast to make the buildings below more visible. In the original shot, the buildings were very indistinct. The air pollution levels were horrid that day and any kind of photography was nigh impossible. I can manage about three days in any of the major cities before I have to start a round of steroids. On this day, as we were preparing to head into the city to the factory we were working with, I spent a little time in this lovely garden. The air was clearer, the ambience soothing and I am reminded of my own mantra. “There is beauty everywhere. To see it, you have but to open your eyes.”

Bryce Canyon Utah

What can I say, the playful hoodoos (limestone spires) of Bryce Canyon always lift my spirits and remind me just how stunning raw nature can be. Of the many trails descending into the canyon itself that I have hiked, I can only say that I totally agree Ebenezer Bryce (for whom the canyon is named) “it’s a hell of a place to lose a cow.”

Life changing moments

Not a particularly great shot (yes it’s from my cell phone but I didn’t shoot it) but it’s a memorable moment. After 15 years of RV living, international travel and oh so much more, a week after my 65th birthday, we became homeowners. Our precious little townhome is a constant source of solace in a world gone mad. We named her “Castle Serenity” – where there’s always a cup of tea and a friendly smile waiting, leave your troubles outside the door and come sit a spell.

Sending all y’all warm and happy vibes ~JP

Monday Mundanities – Navigating Medicare

with chronic disease, it’s all about the pills

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned, more on this grueling subject later.

Til next time ~Stay Happy Hippies ~JP

Monday Musings – A Walk Around the Lake

Fall shot of our lake

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

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