Walkabout Wednesday – a life under construction

Our Sunday Stills prompt this week is “under construction” and I must admit, I’m not one to take pictures of construction much. It is seldom appropriate to photograph road construction between rants and building construction is generally driven right by without stopping to investigate, so I found myself somewhat stymied, until I realized that, heck, my WHOLE LIFE is under construction, or maybe re-construction, but you get the point.

piece of a hailstone from my living room

On August 27, 2021 a catastrophic hail storm hit Rapid City, SD. For 20 minutes fist sized hail stones pummeled our lives. The financial loss was significant but paled in comparison to loss of our entire way of life. It became clear that we could no longer live full-time RVing and that massive rebuilding was required. So, we repaired what we could, sold what we could, wrote off the rest and started to reconstruct our lives.

Pitching machine under construction in Kunshan, China

We turned the page and began a new adventure. A few years ago “adventure” meant traveling overseas to work with factories while the sporting goods lines we developed were under construction.

Family of Canadian Geese at our lake

These days it’s all about those mundane adventures. Sitting on the deck and watching the goslings grow oh so fast.

Farmers Market Booty

or scoring pirate booty at our local farmer’s market, fresh, beautiful bargains.

Asian Grocery

Or reminiscing about our travels while exploring the Asian Grocery store in our new home town. Ahhh pineapple cake, how I have missed you my old friend.

Fanell Scudder Exhibit

Checking out the art at our local library. Here an exhibit of Fanell Scudder an 83-year-old local resident.

My boys

Of course, there are also family bonds under construction. Here one exhausted wanderer with son and two of the grandsons. For fifteen years they’ve seen me no more than twice a year and yet we take to each other like the geese to water. I do adore my boys.

Moonset

And, as always, I watch the moon.

This post inspired by
Terri’s Sunday Stills – Under Construction
and Marsha’s PPAC # 61

Til next time ~Would you like to have an adventure now or would you like to finish your tea first? ~JP

Thoughtful Thursday – The Sounds of Summer

I’ve been thinking about Summer quite a lot. Deep summer is a tough time for most Spoonies. Pain and fatigue run roughshod over my days, crushing the heart and soul. Summer is equal parts bitter and sweet, there are farmers markets on cooler mornings, swimming pool for exercise, and I must say I’ve never been so grateful for central air ;-). I can’t change the weather or the heat but I can change the way I react to it. I can choose to let the fatigue wash over me, let myself slow down and breathe in the essence of Summer. I can write and craft and lift my spirits rather than letting maudlin anxiety over things I cannot change control my day. Today I will listen and appreciate the

Sounds of Summer

The discordant buzz of cicadas
as they begin their mating songs

the vibration of wind singing
across the rim of my sun hat

the whine of a distant trimmer
a quantum of electromagnetic flux on the breeze

The sounds of summer
stir heavily through the sultry air

No industrious activity as the world
lies in lethargic somnambulance

Too hot to move
too moist to breathe

Til next time ~drink iced coffee ~JP

Thoughtful Thursday – Coping with Residual COVID

Bleeding Tooth Mushroom

It has been over a month since COVID-19 descended upon my Castle Serenity. The virus itself was mild and over quickly. But, my lungs didn’t clear fully so it was on to a round of steroids and then, of course, the pursuant oral thrush. ARGHHHH!!! Stupid Covid! Now, I seem to have developed Long-haul COVID. I’m still dealing with fatigue, headaches, cough, loss of sense of smell, brain fog and anxiety. I mean seriously? Anxiety from a virus? What’s up with that like I didn’t have enough anxiety issues?

Now here’s the question, how much of this is long-covid and how much is just my wacky immune disease? How much is just summer weather? I have no idea and frankly it doesn’t matter. I have appointments scheduled discuss the most distressing of the residual effects of brain fog, anxiety and my missing sense of smell with my PCP. In the meantime, I’m using more “lists” for anything I need to remember. Although, by the time I pick up a pen, the thought is already gone. Still if I can get it to the paper I stand a pretty good chance of remembering it. And hopefully, within a few months all will be right again.

That’s it for this rant til next time remember:
The grass is always greener over the septic tank ~Erma Bombeck
~Peace ~JP

Thoughtful Thursday – Thoughts on TAA and a July Meditation

photo from Pixabay

So I have spent the past six days in Prednisone purgatory. Yesterday, a really icky weather pattern moved into our area which has, naturally, led me straight into the first level of “weather flare he**.” Yeah, I’m not afraid to say, I’m not up to much right now. I’ll be fine in a day or two or as soon as the weather system settles in. Funny thing, I’m fine with either wet or dry, hot or cold, what sets my little lungs off is the change. The good news is that while I’m struggling to breathe, my peak flows remain solidly in the yellow zone. For non-asthmatic readers, peak flow meters measure how quickly you can exhale, like blowing out a candle. It’s a fair indicator of how constricted your bronchial tubes may be and I use it daily to monitor my asthma. Thunderstorm-Associated Asthma (TAA) is a real thing. I don’t think anybody knows exactly why it happens, but we know it does happen and it can turn dangerous very quickly. I am totally stocked up with every asthma drug known to womankind and I just ride it out. *grumble grumble stupid COVID*

I have caught myself recently focusing on lack. Lack of health, lack of confidence in the economy, lack of a vacation, you get the idea. That must stop RIGHT NOW! I have so many blessings I can’t even begin to count them but sometimes I have to remind myself of that. I use a specific prayer/meditation every month to shift my focus to where I know I should be and (more often than not) out of where I shouldn’t. For your perusal, my July Prayer/Affirmation:

“Great Spirit, I welcome You on this beautiful day.
I reach out to You with a grateful heart and give thanks for all the blessings of my life.
This day, help me let go of judgments about what is lacking or wrong.
Help me replace these negative thoughts with mindful gratitude that I may remember my vast riches of blessings.
Just for today, let me shine with the light Your presence brings.”

adapted from Pocketful of Miracles by Joan Borysenko, PhD

Til next time ~Namasté my friends ~JP

Coping with Covid – Day 1

On Tuesday July 5, 2022, I tested positive for COVID. Herein is my attempt at documenting the process for a 65 year old spoonie with multiple chronic autoimmune diseases.

Tuesday morning I woke up feeling excessively fatigued. Since Superhubs tested positive for COVID on Friday, on the advice of my Nurse, I tested myself with the quick at-home COVID test. WOW! The positive line popped up in like 10 seconds. I let the test sit as instructed for 15 minutes and, sure enough it’s positive. My symptoms include:

  • Fever – only 98.5 on my at-home thermometer but since I normally run no more than 97, that’s a fever. Plus I DO NOT run fevers, like ever. The last time was, well when I had the stupid Delta Variant in 2021. OK so apparently I do run fevers, just not much and not often.
  • Chills – wow, seriously, we have a heat advisory going on, my home thermostat reads 75 indoors and I’m shivering? Are you kidding me?
  • Congestion – I can’t breath through my nose at all, I’m constantly blowing and sniffing and sneezing … oh my.
  • Cough – Deep, racking, productive cough; painful but not busting capillaries
  • Body aches – holy moly every single muscle and joint in my entire body hurts
  • Headache – pounding, throbbing tight band around the skull, Aleve helps, acetaminophen is pretty much useless
  • Fatigue/exhaustion – by afternoon, I can barely move

I decided that somebody on my medical team should know about this so I put in a call to my Pulmonologist. Got a prompt response from my Nurse, and was offered Paxlovid and steroids. I declined both for the time being. I am moving air fine, my peak-flows are over 300 (400 is “good” for me). I have reservations about drugs that are “investigational” and only authorized for the EUA (Emergency Use Authorization) from the FDA. Nobody really knows about the drug interactions and, folks, I take a LOT of routine medications. As for the steroids, I have to be a lot sicker than I am before I’m willing to put myself through Prednisone Purgatory. I was advised to stay in, don’t leave the house unless it’s to go to the emergency room and be mindful of my breathing. If it gets worse, get my hiney in to the ER.

Superhubs is on day 5 of COVID, improving slowly. Symptoms have begun to lessen, except for Blood Glucose readings which are annoyingly high, not panic time but put in a call to his diabetes specialist.

So that’s it for today, we’ll see what tomorrow brings.

Til next time ~Stay safe, Stay sanitized ~JP

Thoughtful Thursday – Use It Up – Music to my ears

Lessons learned from the Great Depression, via my Grandmother’s kitchen plaque “Use it up, wear it out, make it last, do without.” For the near future, I’ll be focusing on these four strategies. Starting at the beginning “use it up.” OK this is kind of a no-brainer, use all the ketchup, DON’T let leftovers rot in the back of the fridge, utilize that prepper pantry etc. etc. But when I dug a little deeper, I found a lot of assets I am under-utilizing. One of those is my library. We have a wonderful library here in our little town. Many, many resources both on-line and brick and mortar. I recently had an epiphany about just how important music is to me. It sets the tone for my day, times my workouts, inspires me, soothes me; it can pump me up or lull me to sleep. While we were living in South Dakota, I played background music all day, everyday, on the sound system in our RV. Castle Serenity has no such system and I do not feel inclined to spend the money to purchase a new one, soooo I mostly use my phone. I have a wonderful little resource from my library called Freegal which allows me to download 5 songs per week from the library for free. The same library also offers digital albums to borrow rather like e-books. I have a fairly impressive collection of CD’s that I’ve ripped to my backup drive so all, in all I’ve got LOTS of music available. Now, how to utilize it.

I use a little off-line music player (since they did away with googleplay ;-p) called musicolet, works great and, oh yeah it’s FREE. I curate a new playlist for my mornings every month and I’m adding new playlists for evenings and workouts. Here is my “Morning Activities” play list for June:

Beautiful Day – Joshua Radin
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – Cyndi Lauper
Mine – Taylor Swift
Time in a Bottle – Jim Croce
59th Street Bridge Song – Harpers Bizarre
Super Trooper – ABBA
Bubbly – Colbie Caillat
Come a Little Bit Closer – Jay and the Americans
Hands – Jewel
Firework – Katy Perry
Gypsy – Fleetwood Mac
I Hope You Dance – Lee Ann Womack

There you have it, how I’ve stopped buying music (download or hard copy) by “using up” what I have. If you utilize Spotify, you can also find this playlist here. Next week I’ll touch on the more obvious use for Libraries: reading.

Til next time ~Stay Safe and Be Kind to each other ~JP

Thoughtful Thursday – May Activities

from my polyvore collection

I am finally starting to feel a little more like myself an so there’s a flurry of activity here at Castle Serenity. I have finally admitted that after 2:30 pm I might just as well pack it in and do crafts or something else not strenuous as the afternoon fatigue bogey zaps me. I had this idea to get myself a surprise box subscription. One of my grandpuppies gets a bark box, the daughter gets a human bark box from FabFitFun and it seemed like a really cool idea. BUT, the thing is I’m not at all sure I’m willing to spend $20 – $75 per month on “stuff” no matter how cool the “stuff” is. I mean, really, I have enough “stuff” more than enough truth be told. So, I have began curating my own activities box where I pick a theme and toss stuff in from my craft stash, my “I’m gonna use this someday” stash and other various “stuff” that I want/need to use up. My challenge is to find something to do with all the items in the box by the end of the month. A peek at May’s activity box:

May color focus – Turquoise/Teal thanks to Terri’s Sunday Stills color challenge for this inspiration.

Floral rubber stamp
coloring pages, flowers and swirls
dream box from mint tin craft, lots of stickers and “Legend of the Dreambox” card
Self love card
“I am Beautiful” sigil card
Mountable photo print
misc. small scrapbook papers
lots of ephemera for journaling
culinary – dried thyme
breathwork exercise card
hair product samples
May treat – Candied Hibiscus Flowers
MP3 album Llewellyn – Moon Spells, several other MP3 songs courtesy of my local library via Freegal
E-books – The Vintage Housekeeper’s Circle by Alison May — from my Kindle Collection

So those are the goodies I’m working with this month. I’ll be working on my reading list, playlist, menu plans, outings and nature based activities soon. So what are your big plans for May? Do you post regular monthly activities? If so leave me a link in the comments and I’ll be sure to check them out.

Til next time ~May your spoons be plentiful ~JP

The Pre Years – a Fandango Flashback Friday Challenge

For Fandango’s Flashback Friday Challenge – a tidbit about life back in 2018, pre-brain surgery, pre-pandemic, pre-hailstorm.

3/18/18 It’s All About Balance

When you’re a spoonie with a family of 2 with chronic and autoimmune diseases, kitchen work can be a considerable challenge. We follow two similar yet different diets at our house. I follow WFPB (Whole Food Plant Based) diet, Superhubs is primarily pescetarian. He eats fish, generally once a day, egg whites as an ingredient and occasionally chicken if we eat out. He’s extremely particular about the type and preparation of fish, hence the occasional chicken and eschews all forms of dairy. We eat LOTS of beans, tofu a couple times per week. Since we are in “travel mode” right now, we eat simple and rather more “packaged” food than we normally would. Today we’re not moving but still follow the same principles. A quick look at our menu for today.

Breakfast: Museli for SH, quick oats for me.

AM snack: SH – 1/2 banana, 1/2 sheet graham cracker, 1/4 cup nuts

Me – 1/2 banana, 1 rice cake

Lunch: Soup with toasted cheese sandwiches, veggie sticks, chips

PM snack: Both – homemade oil-free hummus, crackers, cuties

Dinner: Saag Aloo with chickpea curry

Dessert: Fruit plate, 1/2 spelt muffin w/almond butter (homemade pumpkin butter for me)

As you can see, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. It equates in spoon usage to a part time job. I’ll also do some writing (fiction project) in addition to this and some housework. Trying to figure out how to fit in some exercise since it’s snowing and blowing and too cold outside for my lungs. If the roads clear enough, we may try some “walmart walking” after lunch.

It’s always a challenge, to balance everything, enough rest, enough exercise, nutrition and convenience. The scale moves both ways and every day is different. I tell my yoga learners that balance is not a static thing. Stand in any one leg pose and feel the tiny adjustments your muscles make, especially your feet. Life is like that, balance isn’t something you just find, it’s a thousand tiny adjustments every day that give us the feeling of solidity. Life is always in motion and you have to roll with it. Nowhere is this more true than in the life of a spoonie. A healthy recipe for Saag Aloo (spinach and potatoes) in the slow cooker and a pretty picture for you my friends. Namaste ~oep

Saag Aloo — Serves 2

Ingredients
2 medium to large potatoes, well scrubbed (or peeled if you prefer), any “eyes” or brown spots removed.
1 cup reconstituted broth (I used Better than Bouillon vegetable)
1 to 1 1/2 Tablespoons dehydrated onion flakes (or 1/4 Cup chopped onion or 1/2 cup sliced onion if you have it).
1/2 teaspoon each of: cumin, ground corriander, hot chili powder (I use ancho), and graham masala
ground black pepper – a few good shakes

As much spinach slightly torn as you can fit into your slow cooker. Feel free to use a mix of greens, I threw in some collard greens that I needed to use up and a few handfuls of baby spinach. You can add more spinach as it cooks down.

Directions

Cut the potatoes into 1 inch or smaller pieces. I, personally do not peel my potatoes, I use organic and the peel is full of nutrients. The smaller the pieces, the quicker it will cook.
Add the broth
Add the spices and onion and stir in.
top with greens, firmer greens on the bottom, spinach on top
Cook on high for 3-5 hours depending on your slow cooker and the size of your potato dice
Add spinach as desired.

There you have it, quick, easy, yummy and slow cooker friendly, especially important on a low spoons day.

My view this morning

street lights cast a blue glow on the snowy branches in Richfield, UT

Til next time ~Duuuuude that’s COLD! ~JP

Paleo, Keto, Whole 30 OHMY! – a Saturday Swappit tangent

Di is our host for Saturday Swappit again this week and is asking “have you designed your own diet from the successful bits of others you’ve tried? Have you gone back to one that worked, or found one that worked better for you?”

There are lots, and lots, and lots of diets out there and believe me, I’ve tried most of them. I have been on one diet or another since 1968 when I first went on the “grapefruit and rice” diet at the tender age of 12 because I was seriously alarmed at the size of my breasts. The only one I had any luck with was Atkins back in the 1990’s. I lost 85 lbs. kept off 75 of it ever since but I found the diet to be unsustainable as I got older and my diseases got stronger. My personal experience is simply that diets are like opinions, everybody’s got one and they all work, and they all fail, depending on the individual.

That said, I have ultimately just devised my own based on what I’ve learned in the past 50 years of dietary frustration. We follow a modified Anti-inflammatory/controlled carbohydrate diet here at Castle Serenity. Our foray into anti-inflammatory diets started with Dr. Weil back in the days before it became so commercially popular, with a few modifications. We eat less grains, more beans, lots of fish, tofu at least once a week. We also include some chicken and occasional beef. I eat some dairy (yogurt and some low-fat cheeses) for calcium. Oh and spices, lots and lots of spices. I add ginger to lots of stuff and turmeric to everything else. 😉 😉

I’m currently working on a modification I’m calling the LOL diet (Little Old Lady), OK it’s a fancy way of saying I’m trying to practice better portion control. I have found that counting anything, calories, carbs, fats tends to get me into trouble as I can get more than a little OCD about it. So between Superhubs LADA and my wonky vitamin dysregulation, we’re kind of loosey goosey keeping Superhubs to about 180 gross grams carbs per day and I just try to watch my portions and run a little tighter on fats. We use very little in the way of sugars or sweeteners, avoid trans fats like the plague and eat very few processed foods.

That’s about it. Even though Superhubs and I both get a little frustrated with the whole autoimmune dietary issues thing, we are both doing extremely well. SH’s diabetes consultant lauds our work and his numbers are in target range 99+% of the time. My CRP (C-reactive Protein) which is used to measure overall bodily inflammation levels are virtually nil. So to quote my pulmonologist “whatever you’re doing … keep doing it.”

Til next time ~Stay calm and back away from the donut ~JP

I Put on Pants – A Spoonie Award

I don’t mean to brag, but I am totally rockin this day. Not only did I get out of bed, but I put. on. pants! Yesterday was what could euphemistically be called a “low spoons” day. In all honesty, it was, in fact, a total, complete train wreck. Including meltdowns and tantrums. Now I’d like to tell you that it was a visiting grandchild that threw said tantrum, but, alas, it was none other than me. I wish I could tell you that this is an exceedingly rare event but no, it’s rather too common for comfort and I’m considering just penciling it into my planner for like “Monday Meltdown” or “Tuesday Tantrum”. All it takes is a trip to the hardware store where we did not find what we wanted, well OK we did but not at a price we were willing to pay, and it’s a new sump pump because we’re (read that Superhubs) not sure if the one we have works and we’re supposed to get five inches of rain over the next three days.

Then, just one innocuous comment, a casual dismissal of something I have taken it into my head matters more than a cure for cancer. Something that matters not one jot, something stupid like trying to follow Superhubs hand signals as he guides me through parking the car in the garage around the gargantuan garbage can and the stupid cardboard boxes that are STILL HERE from our move three months ago. I mean really? I have to negotiate my way around the ancient box springs that we had to move out of the house and the garage is as far as it got because we have no idea how to get rid of it. Because it’s not that I have depth perception issues or blurry vision from lack of anything remotely resembling a tear film in my eyes, and you know, I have to do EVERYTHING around here. And no don’t you dare offer to park it for me! Boom! BAM! SOCKeroooo! It’s like a bloody Batman Show (the real one with Adam West). Yes, a sixty-something great grandmother sat in the middle of the floor blubbering like an over stimulated two-year-old.

Fortunately, I am blessed with Superhubs who sits down beside me, holds me, makes little shushing sounds until the worst of the weeping subsides. And then asks “what hurts?” So I can sob out “EVERYTHING!” Yeah, that’s one of the worst parts of being a spoonie. Painger is a very real thing. It’s when you think you’re angry but, really, you’re just in pain.

So, in light of yesterday’s emotional train wreck, I decided to reward myself with a Spoonie Award. I’m wearing pants, and that’s a step in the right direction. Fellow Spoonies, always remember that you are amazing, strong, powerful health warriors. It’s OK to lose it once in awhile, grab your heating pad, tylenol and a cup of tea, go snuggle up. Do what you can to take care of you, this day will pass and tomorrow is another day.

Til later ~ Too low on spoons to give a fork ~JP