Magical Mundanities — Episode 2 — Spoonie Travel in a Pandemic World

Welcome fellow Spoonies and various other sentient beings to another episode of Magical Mundanities where this Spoonie seeks to find the magic in a mundane world.

After returning from a short trip to visit grandkids and wrap up pre-retirement details with the home office, we had three weeks to rest, recuperate, see doctors, repack our suitcases and pack up our tiny home for storage before heading out on the “big trip of being somewhere else.” This is the first significant road trip we’ve taken in several years.

Butterfly on a purple coneflower bids me farewell in South Dakota

We left South Dakota on a sunny day. The weather had been mostly hot and sunny for the weeks prior to our departure and we were looking forward to some cooler temps.

Spoonie travel requires some adjustments. We discovered early on that traveling by car is no less draining than travel by air, and it TAKES LONGER! Bear in mind that neither of us travels well these days, we’re out of shape. We took the drive in easy steps traversing no more than 350 miles of state highways per day. We stopped at virtually every roadside rest and touristy place along the way (aka restrooms).

Independence Rock — along the Oregon Trail — Alcova, WY

We loosely followed the Oregon Trail most of the trip and picked up fascinating tidbits about the pioneers and their perils, as well as the Eisenhower Highway Act which connected this vast country. The story goes that when Eisenhower was a young Army officer, he participated in a cross country convoy from New York to California. The trek took 62 days and Eisenhower later wrote that this was when he first envisioned a cross country highway system.

The road was long, the journey arduous although certainly not a patch on what the pioneers or post WWI travelers must have gone through. Breaks became less frequent and fatigue crushed the mind, body and soul of these two spoonies. Wyoming holds many, many hundred miles of, well, nothing. At all. I have always said though that if you LOOK for beauty, you’ll find it. Above, during a brief break at an otherwise unremarkable rest area, thistles behind a dilapidated parking lot.

Penny Wall, Mountain Home, Idaho

Finally after three days of bone crushing travel fatigue, we stopped for a two-night R&R in the little town of Mountain Home, Idaho. While there we took in some local sites like “Penny Alley” which encompasses an alley full of murals. More on that later.

Hand Mural – Penny Alley — Mountain Home, Idaho

For now, if we were having coffee at the Weekend Coffee Share, I’d tell you that our travels have been full of tiny steps and beautiful moments, and some fairly huge stumbling blocks as well. I’d remind you that you have but to open your eyes to see the beauty around you, and “those who do not believe in magic will never find it.”

Til next time ~Stay Wild Moonchild ~JP

Sunday Stills – Outdoor Life in Balance

For Sunday Stills where we are celebrating “great outdoors month”

For me, like a lot of spoonies, the “great outdoors” is all about finding balance. In the Ayurvedic tradition, balance comes from being in sync with nature, and from being in balance within ourselves.


Rock cairns, large and small decorate the banks of the Virgin River near the Narrows hike. After a flood deposited thousands of rocks and stones along the riverside walk in Zion National Park, human creativity balanced with nature.

“Into the forest I must go. To lose my mind and find my soul.” ~ John Muir

Here, the end of the trail for us in Redwoods National Park. The trail went much deeper into the forest but this was as far as we got, and that’s OK. Spoonies have to balance the desire to trek off deep into the woods leaving the world and it’s noise behind, with the need for caution. Getting to the end of a trail and discovering awe inspiring fairy glens and primordial glades is wonderful. Fatigue induced exhaustion that causes you to faint, not so much.

The Philosopher’s Walk in Kyoto, Japan. The cherry tree lined path that follows a small canal from Ginkaku-ji to Nanzen-ji reminds me that the great outdoors is always there, just a step away from my door. Sight-seeing can be taxing on a spoonie and the days of rugged outdoor hikes must be balanced with relaxing strolls and stargazing.

I’ll never lose my need for the great outdoors, and I treasure every moment, the exciting ones and the sedate ones. Sitting on the beach on Kauai surrounded by dark and light, sea and sand, I breathe in the tang of salt air and I am at peace.

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.” ~Ferris Bueller

Of course, there are also wonders to be found just off the beaten path that make my little spoonie heart soar. During a drive on South Island, NZ we saw an interesting angle of the bay and decided to stop. A short walk from the pull off we were greeted by magical sandstone cathedral spires. We never would have noticed them if we hadn’t listened to that small still voice that whispers “take a look.”

Meanwhile, half-way across the planet, more hoodoos (sandstone spires) dance in gay perfusion in Bryce National Park, Utah. I have walked so many trails in so many places, always, always looking for balance, the synchronicity of nature and balance within myself. Many of the trails have been half-way trips. When he sees my strength beginning to fade, Superhubs will gently remind me “we still have to walk back.” Ahhh yes, the walk back, more adventure. The journey, after all, is the worthier part of the trip.

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 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

JusJoJan – A Little Limpy

Post Knee Surgery – 42 external sutures

For JusJoJan #22 – limp

Limpy

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

til next time ~stay trippy hippies ~JP

Spoonie 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