April 21, 2024

Well, of course they'd issue a frost warning!

This is blog post #400 here at Holly Tree Manor/The Hideaway. I don't have anything profound to say, but I will say thanks for coming along with me as I record my day-to-day life as a country girl.

Yesterday was a beautiful day! Blue skies, gentle breeze, and abundant sunshine. I went out to my garden and sowed some seeds, and decided to get the begonias into the planters. I'd checked the ten-day forecast and the overnight lows weren't all that low. 

Well...What a difference a day makes. Now, today, there is a frost warning for tonight. Go figure. 

Losing a few wax plants won't matter much in the overall scheme of things, but I went out and bagged the lot of them with plastic grocery bags. Will it make a difference? Hell if I know. Will it really frost tonight is the bigger question. 

I knew it was risky when I planted them. All I can do now is see what the night brings. I have more plants if some of them don't make it. Be prepared they say.

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor/The Hideaway

Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, frost warning, gardening, begonias, wax plants, country lifestyle, rural living, taking chances, spring weather, weather watch 

April 19, 2024

The 2024 garden - ready, set, go!

The clock is ticking. One by one, it's time to plant the 2024 garden. The cabbage is already in and the strawberries are next, maybe even today if our fifty percent chance of showers proves to be no showers. 

All the buckets and grow bags have been filled with amended soil. It was a huge job, but worth it. Next year, I won't need to dump each of them and remix. I'll need to add a few nutrients to each container and use that nice auger bit Ron got me to loosen the soil and mix in the feed. 

Refilling all the containers was hard work. I got a scoop of garden mix soil from the local nursery to refresh the dirt and got to work. I worked across several days so I didn't wear myself out and it was time well spent. I'm determined to pace myself. Ron's passing has left me with a lot of hours to fill. I don't need to hurry through my tasks so that I can return to being his caregiver. I didn't realize how many hours a day I spent caring for him, not that I regret or resent any of them. 

I'm eager to get a plant in each container, but I must have patience. I must wait on the weather. Always before, Ron was my "weatherman," advising me of frost warnings and overnight low temps, and the possibility of afternoon storms. Now I have to remember to check the weather apps every day. Taking a daily screenshot is easier than opening the app multiple times a day, at least for me. 

I will miss Ron's company as I spend time in my little garden. He would pick a sunny spot and talk to me while I worked. When I finished, I'd sit in my garden chair and we'd talk of idle things while sharing memories or wistful thoughts. Deuce is good company, but he's a quiet sort. 

I suspect this next year will be full of bittersweet moments. I just hope they don't overwhelm me and make 2024 my last garden.

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor/The Hideaway

Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, weather apps, country lifestyle, rural living, bittersweet, black Lab dog, frost warnings, life after loss, container gardening, cabbage, strawberries

April 10, 2024

i didn't need them, but...

I'm not called The Mad Canner just for fun. I earned the moniker. Earlier today I had to go to town for a few things and made a stop at Walmart. I always check the aisle the canning supplies are in because YNK (you never know). 

Well! Imagine my surprise to find 140th Anniversary limited edition Ball jars! I didn't know they existed. I'm on the mailing list to receive new product notifications from Ball and I didn't get anything about these jars. 

I may be "single" again, but I'll still can. What a blessing it has been to be able to grab a jar of something off the pantry shelf and have an instant dinner. 

What will I put in my fancy jars? I'm not really sure but I think perhaps blueberry pie filling. A pint jar is perfect for a six-inch pie which is perfect for the single person. 

So many different things to consider these days. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor/The Hideaway

Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, Ball canning jars, country lifestyle, rural living, home food preservation, blueberry pie, living single

March 22, 2024

Trust your instincts

It's not good news. Today the Lord of the Manor will undergo a biopsy. He has a mass in his lung.

My grandmother would frequently admonish me to trust my instincts. She was spot on, and I did. I knew there was something more serious going on with him than what the doctors knew. I didn't know what it was, but I knew. 

I wasn't surprised when the doctor said the scan showed a mass. Himself smoked most of his life. He gave them up on October 18, 2006, smoking his last cig in the parking deck at Johns Hopkins before going in to have half his liver removed. That was cancer, too. My father smoked and he died from lung cancer so I've been down this road before. I don't think the Lord of the Manor was surprised, either. I think he sensed it but said nothing. 

Where we go from here is a bit unclear. He has decisions to make. It's his life and his body. He has to decide what he's willing to endure in the way of treatment. Having survived cancer almost twenty years ago, he knows what chemotherapy is like and he stated in the past he doesn't want to go through it again. I'm not sure I have the authority to force him. I was beside him before and it was horrible for him. They also serve who only stand and wait. 

I don't know what this day will bring. I only know I will trust my instincts as I stand and wait, and I will support the man I love in whatever decision he eventually makes. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor/The Hideaway

Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, cancer, instincts, rural living, chemotherapy, country lifestyle, life decisions, treatments

March 18, 2024

My favorite part of spring

The daffodils are in full bloom! It's my favorite time of spring. I've spent years planting daffodil bulbs all through the woods and all over the manor, and it's beginning to pay off. Down in the lower forty, there are blooms scattered about, enough that I can see the areas I need to plant this year. 

Planting daffs in the woods may seem silly. Flowers need sunlight to thrive! In early spring, the trees still need to put out leaves. The daffs get plenty of sunshine. 

I'm getting older and smarter, too. Yesterday, I was giving the lane its spring tidying with the John Deere 1023 tractor, so I took a moment to drag the backhoe bucket through the trees to make a little trench. When I separate the largest daffodil clumps, I'll have a place to drop the bulbs and dirt to cover them. My knees will be grateful. Shoveling can be hard on them. 

There are more annual chores to be accomplished. The mobile lawnmower repair man is due to arrive today to change the oil, put in a new spark plug, sharpen the blades, and if necessary, put in a new air filter. I paid a good price for the John Deere x370 mower and I like to keep it serviced. 

I hope the daffodils are still blooming at the end of this week when the Lord of the Manor will return home from his stint in a care facility. It's anyone's guess if he'll get to see them next spring. 

In the bulb there is a flower

In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree;
in cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter there's a spring that waits to be, 
unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

There's a song in ev’ry silence, seeking word and melody.
There's a dawn in ev’ry darkness, bringing hope to you and me.
From the past will come the future; what it holds, a mystery,
unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity;
in our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity.
In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,
unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor/The Hideaway

Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, John Deere 1023, John Deere x370, daffodils, care facility, In the bulb, country lifestyle, rural living, end of life

March 10, 2024

March crocus and March winds

My mother's garden was full of little "snow" crocus. I'm not sure how she accomplished it! I've tried to get the smaller varieties established on the manor but to no avail. This property seems to support the larger varieties, and that's really okay. 

Years ago I planted a row along the eastern side of the patio and finally - finally! - this year they really put on a bit of a show. I wish the Lord of the Manor was here to enjoy it with me. 

It seems strange that I've spent over forty years planting bulbs all over the place and I still don't seem to have enough crocus, daffodil, tulips, snow glories, and bluebells. I've reconciled myself that I never will have my woods full of daffodils, or if I do, I'll be dead before I see it again the next spring. Such is life. 

Today was the classic March day - rain, wind, sunshine, snow squalls, fluffy white clouds, blue sky, and then do it all over again. I hated to go outside in the wind, but the Lord of the Manor is in rehab for physical therapy and I'd promised him coffee from home. Now that I've returned home, I think a cup of tea in front of the wood stove may be in order.  

March always brings a mixed bag of weather that can be frustrating to those living in rural areas. I, and many others, are eager to be outside preparing for a garden and tidying the yard. A cold, wet, and windy March doesn't lend itself to such activities. 

Some days my outside activities are no more than walking around the property and observing what is blooming. And some days, that's enough.

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor/The Hideaway

Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, March, crocus, daffodils, bulbs, country lifestyle, rural living, gardening, yard work, tea, coffee, weather

February 28, 2024

The first daffodils of 2024

I've been searching for a ray of hope and sunshine this past week. With the Lord of the Manor in the hospital once again, I've been struggling to hold "it" together. Running back and forth to see him, giving Deuce the necessary attention, taking care of household matters, and lastly, taking care of me is exhausting. I confess to increasing moments of despair. 

In the midst of it all, I looked out the window this morning. I mean I really looked out at the yard and the woods for more than to check the weather. I saw the early yellow daffodils blooming. And I cried. 

My grandmother consistently called daffodils Easter flowers. It used to annoy me, but I'd give a lot to be able to hear her say those words again. 

The hidden bulbs that push forth the sunny yellow flowers remind me that good things lie beneath it all and are working toward goals I can't fathom. 

Sometimes, I need to give those forces time to unfold the blessings coming my way.

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor/The Hideaway

Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, daffodils, Easter, blessings, rural living, gardens, country lifestyle, grandmother, hidden agenda

February 21, 2024

Where did they come from?

We've certainly had some nice, sunny days this February. And the countdown to spring stands at twenty-seven days! Deuce and I took full advantage of the sunshine and fifty-degree temps this afternoon. I "worked" and the dog wandered about the yard.

I don't worry about him when we're outside. He's eight, and disappearing off the property is something he's yet to do. Even when we walk down the lane and Cousin Dave is outside, Deuce will look at me and wait for me to tell him it's okay before he trots down to meet his favorite cousin. 

So I worked at various things. One of my woodpiles was hastily stacked and I've hated looking at it all winter. The cousin insisted I put skids (pallets) down, which did not work. For one thing, critters took up residence in the dry space the pallets provided. Not good, not good. The second thing was the skids themselves. They were old and they collapsed under the weight of the firewood. Oops. Sorry, not sorry Mr. Possum. Your squatter rights have been rescinded! 

Anyway, I restacked the firewood the way my grandfather used to do it. I used two trees as end supports and stacked as high as my head. Then I moved to the other side of one of the trees and stacked to the next tree. It not only looks good, but it created a little windbreak for when we split firewood for the 2025-26 season. My woodyard will be nice and tidy for the summer. 

But that's not why I'm writing about today. Before I started stacking, Deuce and I took a stroll around the manor. I spotted crocus blooming in a spot where I've never planted crocus bulbs. I can only assume the wind played a big part in it. 

Spring will be here in the blink of an eye. It'll be time to switch to full gardening mode. I'm grateful for these sunny days that give me the opportunity to get so many things off my to-do list before the summer heat hits and I melt. Melting is just not pretty.

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor/The Hideaway

Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, crocus, spring, seasons change, firewood, yard work, rural living, country lifestyle, a writer's life, black Labrador Retriever, gardening

February 17, 2024

Four to eight inches - sounds risque but it's not


We went to bed last night with a fair amount of dread hanging over us. The weather forecast was for up to eight inches of snow. I anticipated a morning spent on the John Deere 1023 pushing snow. I should have known better. Once again, the weather guessers missed the mark. 

Yes, it did indeed snow. I put the total at 2.5 inches. That puts our February 2024 total-to-date at 10.5 inches. Not bad for us in our little micro-climate, in fact, it's typical of the snows we get. Historically we get a lot of these little snows in January and February. 

I'm happy not to need to hop on the tractor and push snow in the cold. I did go out (in my slippers) and take a measurement and a few pictures, though. We don't need to go anywhere today, and if I did decide to make a fast trip to the grocery, the Colorado is a 4x4. No problem. 

The snow covering the trees is lovely in the morning light. I've created a page for the photos here

I'm not sure what this day will look like now. I'd planned to be outside for an hour or so, but that won't happen. I'll take Deuce for his morning stroll and come back inside. I can enjoy the snowy woods just as much from the comfort of my recliner. Some days, I like to act my age. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor/The Hideaway

Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, snowfall, rural living, country lifestyle, winter weather, John Deere 1023, snow removal, Colorado 4x4, beautiful woods, snowy woods