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

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

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

 

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.

Execution:
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

What Day Is It Anyway? — Coping with Covid 4/16/20

3.25.20 bill the cat

 

What Day Is It Anyway? — Coping with Covid 4/16/20

What day is it? Grocery day! Who would have thought that the big adventure for my week/month would be a trip to the grocer. We try to go to town every two weeks for supplies. One trip we utilize our “curbside pickup” store and pick up our on-line grocery order. No telling what they will have been able to fill for us until we get home but hey that’s the adventure part. Today was our trip to the Health Food Coop. We go early during “immunocompromised” hours. It’s a small store and there generally aren’t more than 3 people when we go which is awesome. Today was no exception.

They’ve made some changes to the store layout and everybody is masked. It was actually a rather empowering experience. For once I didn’t feel panicky or handicapped.

We managed to get the frozen blueberries and the particular bangers that we prefer. Also casein free not-cheese and the extremely dark (92%) chocolate that Superhubs likes. Picked up some fresh bananas and apples, a couple of sweet potatoes and …. oooooh fresh organic strawberries! Also managed a 4-pack of toilet paper and an extra liquid hand soap. We deliberately passed on a few items like cabbage, packaged salads and mushrooms just because they didn’t look “good.” No soft margarine, onion powder or potato flakes but my situation isn’t dire and I can probably get those from the grocery pickup in a week or two.

Then we went by our drive-thru pharmacy, picked up my prescriptions and a bottle of isopropyl alcohol that the clerk was kind enough to snag off the shelf for me and pass through the pickup window.

We did the drive through food stop at our local Starbucks. First time in MONTHS we’ve had something that has not been prepared in our kitchen. Let me tell you a coffee and bagel never tasted so good.

So, today’s been really good. Warmer weather coming should enable us to take down our RV skirting this weekend which I’m looking forward to.

Oooh Child — The Fire Stairsteps

Til next time ~Keep your face masked and your pantry full ~JPP