Spoonie Retirement – Life, love and Autoimmune Diabetes in the time of Covid

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
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.

What I’m watching right now:

Til next time ~Peace ~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

Spoonie Retirement — life, love and groceries in the time of COVID

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
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?

Til next time ~Peace ~JP

Spoonie Retirement week 4 — Winter Preparedness and Old Hippies

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.

Til next time ~Peace out fellow scouts ~JP

Spoonie Retirement week 3 — It is what it is

View out my front door 10.22.2020

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?

I’m Still Standing – Johnny (Taron Egerton) from Sing!

Til next time ~Peace ~JPP

A Retired Spoonie – week 2

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.

What we’re listening to

Til next time ~Peace JP

Spoonie Saturday – Not just tired but RE-tired!

WOW, it’s been a crazy kind of week. I’ve worked as hard or harder in my first week of retirement as I ever did at “work,” well, almost. Chez Spoons is a 32′ 5th Wheel RV trailer. Tiny but happily functional. However, RV living requires some adjustments especially when you live in a cold weather area. Winter temps here are below freezing most nights from Nov. through March and well into April. May blizzards are not unheard of.

Last week, we began our winterizing and preparation work. We moved over to the “winter site” October 1. These sites have a heat rod dropped in the water line and extra insulation around the spigots to keep the water from freezing. They also have the “big” lines winterized to keep the water coming all winter long, other water lines are shut down and blown out to remove the chance of freeze up and water line breakage. Less than 20% of the park stays open during the winter.

So, last week we moved, then immediately started our own winterizing process. The weather held good and we were able to get the RV washed which involves a long handled brush, a bucket of soapy water, and a hose. Yeah, we do it the old fashioned way. Our RV is about 13 ft. tall so working those delts and lats … (grimace). We also washed the car. Whew! After a day to rest and let the wind die back down, we tackled the skirting. We have custom-made vinyl skirting for our RV which is a lot simpler to install than conventional paneling and looks pretty darned nice if I say so myself. Putting it up is simple, but a lot of work. It involves laying out a whole lot of vinyl, sweeping any residual dirt, then fitting it to the button hooks that attach it to the RV. The sides that extend over the grass are then staked down with HUMONGOUS nails (well that’s what they look like). Then comes the fun part. On the sides of the RV that are over the concrete pad, the skirting has to be weighted down from the underside. This involves crawling under the RV and positioning sandbags on top of the skirting under flaps to keep everything in place. Yeah, it’s a big job for a couple of 60-something spoonies. Afterwards we treated ourselves to tea, tylenol, hot showers and a day “off” from heavy work. I must say I worked muscles I had forgotten about. It feels really good though to know that we can do it, that we’re still strong and independent enough to do this stuff.

The next two days were spent tinkering, adjusting, and hooking up the heated water hose. I also managed to do the pantry cooking including soup for the week, bulk breakfasts, grocery shopping, and meal planning. A very full, very satisfying week all in all.

So how about you? Are you getting ready for winter? Stocking the pantry? Cleaning the garden?

What we’re listening to right now:

Til next time ~Peace ~JP

Hazy Spoonless Days and Cardiac Sarcoidosis


“I talk a good game
for someone who topples over
putting on her underpants.” ~JPP

It’s been a tough summer here at Chez Spoons. The weather is wretched, smoke creates a smoggy haze, I wheeze, and debilitating fatigue is the order of the day. Summer flares are no fun and this particular one involves a flare up of cardiac symptoms. Hard to diagnose, near impossible to treat. So I do what Spoonies do best, I survive. I ride the wave of fatigue, don’t fight, just keep afloat and let it pass. My creative muse has deserted me. By mid afternoon I find myself spoonless and unable to do more than breathe and maybe blink. I force my way through the steps I have to take to stay “functional” like yoga, walking, meditating and proper diet. Then I collapse into bed and get up and do it all over again. Mind numbing routine guides me as I wait for the wave to carry me back to shore.

Red Sails in the Sunset – The Platters

Til next time ~Peace ~JPP

One Liner Wednesday – Spoons


For Linda’s One Liner Wednesday – go get some inspiration, go on … you know you want to, it’s OK, I’ll wait *insert theme from Star Wars*

3.11.20 low on spoons
Digital art from my polyvore collection

Today I am just too low on spoons
to give a fork. ~JPP

I Will Get Back Up Again — Anna Kendrick from the movie Trolls

Til next time ~Peace ~JPP

Spoonie Sunday — Recovering

artwork found on pinterest

Greetings fellow spoonies and not spoonies. How’s your weekend shaping up? Here at chez spoons we have a light dusting of snow, just enough for prettiness, not enough to mess with the roads. As most of you know, I’m recovering from “major surgery.” ‘Nuff said.

So, I’m dealing with recovery, AND a cold/flare. Don’t know which but I have a bunch of symptoms that ARE related to the surgery (general exhaustion and some pain) and a whole lot of symptoms that AREN’T related to the surgery. The sniffles, congestion, cough (ouch!) achy muscles and joints, general BLEEEEKKKK feeling and brain fog. Anyway, the point isn’t so much what’s causing the various symptoms, it’s more what the heck to do about them. Continue reading “Spoonie Sunday — Recovering”