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. 🙂
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.
In the corner of a dusty shelf there sat a tiny book, “Kitchen Mystic Spiritual Lessons Hidden in Everyday Life.” A pocket sized paperback filled with everyday insights. I remember the first time I picked it up and knew that this tiny treasure was meant for me. It is battered and wrinkled, with dog-eared pages. I take it down every few years and re-read it, I handle it carefully. You see, I’m a kitchen mystic myself, I see the Divine in a thin slice of red onion shimmering like stained glass. I get the magic in a well brewed cup of tea and the twinkling eye of the Great Mother winking at me from the chips of white quartz along the road. Oh yes, I get it. I am a Mystic Hippie Spoonie, living proof that if you can actually remember the 70’s you didn’t really LIVE them.
This year I’m getting back to my Mystic Hippie roots. I want to live in tune with the rhythms of sun and moon, seasons and stars instead of clocks and calendars. More in kairos, less in chronos. This is my first full year of real retirement and I intend to live it well. Among my goals and intentions for this year is to reduce my use of OTC meds. To that end, this week I made up a batch of “cough tonic.” I’m a life long asthmatic, my first hospitalization came at 6 months of age and I have not had a significant remission since that time (we’re not going to discuss exactly HOW LONG that is). I cough, a lot, all the time, for various reasons most of which medical science has no treatment to offer. So, back to Mother Nature we go.
My paternal grandmother had a recipe for a cough medicine she used and passed along to me, although it is effective, I no longer use it due to the alcohol content. In case you’re interested it was simply: 1 part lemon juice 1 part honey 1 part whiskey shake well and take 1 teaspoon as required (yeah that’s gonna happen *cough cough*)
That was pretty much par for the course in the 1930’s but I felt it needed an update, a non-alcoholic update, ’cause ya know. After much on-line research and reading up on different folk remedies I was panic stricken intimidated by the boiling and extracting, straining, reducing and … cooking. Did I mention that although I am a mystic witch in the kitchen, I’m like a lazy totally laid back and easy going Spoonie. So, lazy witch creative genius that I am, I concocted a lemon ginger honey peppermint tonic that works pretty well. It’s a little more acidic than I’d prefer but it works. Here’s what I did:
From the Lazy Mystic Kitchen Spoonie:
I heated 6 oz water to a boil, dropped in two Yogi Teas Lemon Ginger teabags, cover and let it steep for about an hour. Remove the teabags, reheat the tea to hot (not boiling). Stir in 1-2 Tablespoon of honey (local raw) and 1 Tablespoon of virgin coconut oil, about 30 drops of peppermint extract and a dab of ginger (the kind in the tube). I immulsified with an immersion blender, let cool and poured into a labeled jar. Take 1-2 Tablespoons as needed for cough. So far so good, I’m off the multi-symptom flu medicine that I’ve used for years for coughs. Please remember that most reliable sources do not recommend using essential oils internally. I used GAIA herbs liquid extract which is MUCH less potent than an essential oil but is pure peppermint leaf extract. There, butt covered.
Well, I’m off to make a hot toddy, errr,, ahhh I mean a cough and cold tonic.
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. Grains/dried/other * 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?
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 *Meat/dairy/eggs 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.
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 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 $25/week.
My CBAB (Community Based Agriculture Box)
*Fresh Produce 8 oz. cranberries 1 medium spaghetti squash *dried goods/spices/teas 1 oz freeze dried maitake (hen of the woods) mushrooms 4 oz dried apricots 3 oz chili powder 2 oz cinnamon black tea *meat/dairy/eggs 8 oz local sharp cheddar cheese
Here’s how we used them: winter fruit compote – cranberries & apricots (raisins from pantry) low carb spaghetti marinara – spaghetti squash & some mushrooms bok choy & mushrooms – dried maitake low carb turkey chili – chili powder various lunch plates & cheese omelettes – cheddar cheese various lovely afternoon teas – cinnamon black tea
Do you eat seasonally? What are some of your favorite fall meals?
Autumn’s tempestuous lover the North Wind begins his scourge sending Summer’s leaves scattering at his ferocity Temperatures drop like needles from pines as he struggles to clear the land for his mistress and sweep away the last vestiges of Summer
Life continues on, as life is wont to do. The weather has been unseasonably warm this past week, too warm for my liking. The previous week’s cold and wind have dropped all the leaves and the grass is greening up again. It’s striking, the barren trees against the green grass, but also, odd. That’s life here in the great plains. The warm weather has brought out a veritable cloud of gnats. Tiny flying insects that irritate the *$&%*# right outta me. But I digress.
In my younger years I was an “earth child” and lived off the land for a time. As much as I long to return to that simple way of life, urban subsistence farming is tough for a couple of elderly spoonies. I’ve decided to return to my roots by going as simple as possible given the restrictions of my current life circumstance.
This week, I’m going to take a couple of paragraphs to talk about emergency and winter preparedness. We live in a small RV 5th wheel trailer. We are pretty well set up for winter with our trailer skirts up and large propane tank hooked up. Winter storms are a constant here in South Dakota. We’re located close enough to a large (ish) city that when the storms hit, we’re seldom out of electric power for more than a few days. Still a few days is a long time when you’re talking daily high temps that are below freezing. Emergency requirements vary but here’s my short list:
*Reliable source of backup energy *water for 7 days *food for 7 days *way to cook said food *a nearby emergency shelter/water/heat source
We have these covered in spades! Yeah, go team spoons! Our car and a long set of jumper cables will recharge our deep cell batteries to run very basic functions (furnace and refrigerator) indefinitely. We have a 40 gallon fresh water tank, our actual food stock pile is over 30 days, our range/oven runs on propane (yes we have small backup tanks of propane as well) and, if push comes to shove, the lodge here at the resort is open with emergency backup heat, power, and water available. I’ve got my snuggly jumper and flannel sheets all ready.
What are your best winter/emergency preparedness tips?
Next week I’ll delve into simplicity and seasonal eating.
Well last week was what it was. Massive cold front arrived bringing several inches of snow, the second already for this season. The week brought more doctors appointments, one via telemed, and the second was my actual MRI. Telemed with Superhubs’ neurologist went well. Basically nothing new, he can try driving again in a few weeks. No changes to meds or therapies, basically, at this stage, it is what it is.
Finally completed my cardiac MRI. It took two rounds of contrast and a full 90 minutes in the tube but they got some good images. The scan shows evidence of an infiltrative disease, possibly sarcoidosis (duh). It is well contained and shows no signs of recent progression. Bottom line, continue with current treatment plan, (drugs and monitoring) and see how it goes. It is what it is.
We continue to work on new life schedules. Having worked a seasonal job for years, it always takes me a few weeks to adjust to not having the routine of work to guide me. I should probably mention somewhere along the line that my retirement was medically motivated. I’m actually almost 3 years short of “full retirement age” but with my medical concerns, as well as Superhubs need for on-going care, working 6-8 hours a day just doesn’t … work. So, early retirement it is. It’s taking some adjustment but I’m confident it was the right decision.
My activities for this week included lots of pantry work and kitchen experimentation. Not a lot of exercise as the roads and walkways are still quite slippery. We did get out for a few short walks and enjoyed the invigorating air. Covid continues to be a major issue here in SD, the number of active cases rising rapidly as flu season begins with no closures to speak of. On the advice of our medical teams, we’re staying in as much as possible and enjoying the lovely quiet. Our shopping routine has changed quite a bit in the past year to accommodate more limited access to stores. More about that later. How’s your week been?
Week two of retirement went by quickly, too quickly. We did more tinkering with the winterizing of the RV and got things set up mostly the way we want. A cold snap heading this way. Big events for this week were Drs. LOTS of doctors. Superhubs had his annual SCID (Spinal Cord Injury and Disease) check up. This is a grueling, exhausting, day long evaluation of his current condition and the progression of his Multiple Sclerosis with all it’s myriad symptoms. We left home shortly before 6:00 am and got home shortly after 4:00 pm. About 2 hours is drive time but the remaining 8 hours are spent at the clinic, Ultra sounds, blood work, and meetings with every known doctor, therapist, and specialist. Whew! It was a mostly good news kind of day. The good news is that he’s not lost much in the way of functionality which means he’s recovered nearly all of what he lost from 2019’s brain surgeries and strokes. The kind of “bad” news is that while he has very little in the way of MS relapses or exacerbations, he does have secondary progressive MS, which is a fancy way of saying he’s not going to get any better and now it’s just a matter of deal with the old damage. He was diagnosed back in 1999 and actually had the disease for years prior to that (based on lesion age) so for somebody with a 20+ year history of MS, he’s doing really well and I’m thrilled with the progress he’s made. There comes a time in every spoonie’s life when “no further deterioration” is excellent news. He has lost a bit more cognitive function but nothing drastic or inappropriate for his age. So we’ll continue to work on cognitive aids, physical therapy exercises for that right side (partial paralysis from strokes) and enjoy life!
The next day, I headed off for my much anticipated (and dreaded) cardiac MRI. The weather held good and the short drive to the radiology clinic was nice. It’s not a painful or invasive procedure but it is somewhat extensive and it involves a full 90 minutes “in the tube.” I spoke with the sedation nurse last week and was given permission to “self sedate” (aka pop half a valium) before the procedure. IV in; no problem, questionaire complete; no problem, cardiac stent; no problem, total knee replacements; no problem, interocular lenses; no problem, eye stents …. oh wait, you have what?!? Which ones? Huh? Although I do not believe I have any metal in my eyes from the drain/stent procedure to reduce my eye pressures (glaucoma), there are a couple that involve tiny amounts of titanium. Long story short, could not get a confirmation of the absence of any metal in the implants so, they sent me home and rescheduled for next week. Huh … well OK then.
That was enough drama for me for one week, so I spent the rest of it trying to establish a new schedule.