December 30, 2021

Who really wants to walk the length of the Nile?

Several years ago I got a Fitbit Flex to track my steps. Having an office job, I sit in front of a computer all day. On top of that, being a writer puts me in front of the computer a lot as well. I've always made it a point to get up and stretch, but how well was I really doing? I thought a Fitbit would help and it has. 

I bought into the whole ten thousand steps a day thing. That was my goal and I did pretty good meeting it three or four times a week. I figured out a loop around my office building that was over six hundred steps and I did it once an hour while there. Walking the dog and just going about my day did the rest. It wasn't until one night about eleven o'clock that I put the kibosh on getting 10K a day. 

No way did I really need to go outside in the dark and walk out to the end of the lane and back just to see the little rocket ship on the Fitbit Charge2 blast off. That's when I knew I was placing far too much importance on a number. Now I consider anything over seven thousand steps, or approximately three miles, a day a bonus. 


Maybe I'm not doing as well with letting go of the numbers as I thought. This week, I got an email from Fitbit awarding me the Nile badge. 

I've graduated to a Fitbit Versa2. My first thought upon viewing the email was I would have gotten this a lot sooner if my old Charge2 had not repeatedly unpaired itself and not reported my steps. 

No, I'm not far enough along on my journey to let go of the numbers. My whipping out the calculator to figure out how fast I can get to 5K miles was proof of that. I'll report back sometime in August or September. Or not. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)

PS. I've also blogged about this over at Deuce's Day. Deuce has walked a good portion of the way with me and deserved a badge of his own. 

December 24, 2021

Christmas Eve 2021

Author note: I posted this at Between the Keys and thought I would also share it here. - KC

Christmas Eve was magical when I was a girl. Aunts, uncles, cousins - we all gathered at Aunt Jane's house for dinner, which was her gift to us. In time that ended, and so it seemed so did my love of Christmas. It's never been the same for me without that gathering. 

The bells pictured are a handmade gift from my Aunt Jane, given to me for my first Christmas in the house I built in 1983. I still live in that house and Aunt Jane's bells are a truly treasured keepsake. 

One of my favorite passages about Christmas Eve comes from Alfred, Lord Tennyson. It seems fitting to share it this year as, yes, the time draws near. 


Christmas Bells

The time draws near the birth of Christ:
The moon is hid; the night is still;
The Christmas bells from hill to hill
Answer each other in the mist.

Four voices of four hamlets round,
From far and near, on mead and moor,
Swell out and fail, as if a door
Were shut between me and the sound:

Each voice four changes on the wind,
That now dilate, and now decrease,
Peace and goodwill, goodwill and peace,
Peace and goodwill, to all mankind.

This year I slept and woke with pain,
I almost wish’d no more to wake,
And that my hold on life would break
Before I heard those bells again:

But they my troubled spirit rule,
For they controll’d me when a boy;
They bring me sorrow touch’d with joy,
The merry merry bells of Yule.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

December 23, 2021

Funny money

I work for a non-profit, and we accept monetary gifts that we then distribute to people in need. While logging a donation, we got faked out by a fake.  

Seriously. Counterfeit. We had a laugh, took pictures, and the CEO turned it in at the bank. I'm sure it wouldn't have been as amusing had it been a hundred-dollar bill. It was mixed in with other bills so we're sure that the person who dropped off the donation had no clue it was in there. And they received it from another source, as well. Non-profits are a money-maze, giving to each other as needs arise. 

If it feels fake it probably is. Be careful out there.

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)

December 12, 2021

One hundred seventy days

I have a countdown app on my phone, and this morning I checked it to see how many days until my official retirement. It still looks a bit depressing, but there's good news there once one digs deeper. One hundred seventy days is less than it looks. It's only 122 weekdays. The key to unlocking it is in the week and weekday counts: 24 weeks.

I don't work on Mondays, so subtract those twenty-four Mondays off the top and we're left with ninety-eight days. 

Take another four days off for scheduled 2021 vacation time and we're down to ninety-four days. 

I don't yet know what my 2022 vacation package looks like, but doing the simple math, I should get nine days vacation to use next year. That puts us at eighty-five working days. 

That's actually a bit scary. 

I've been counting down the days for several years, and the knowledge of having only having eighty-five workdays left brings a mixed ball of emotions. It's a big change in both mindset and lifestyle. My biggest worry is that after twenty-seven years together, the man of the manor and me won't be able to co-exist peacefully within the new paradigm. It's going to get interesting. 

There's the exhilaration that my goal of being the Lady of the Manor full time is within reach.

There's fear something unthinkable will happen and I'll die two days shy of the mark. 

There is the question, the big question, of what new "adventures" do I want to have? I've been grappling with this one. 

Yes, I plan to pursue my DAR, not just for myself but for those in the next two generations. I know my five times great-grandfather signed the Oath in what was to become the State of Maryland to support the colony's bid for independence. That's not in question. I need to formally present the documents that show he is indeed my 5x great-grandfather. 

Yes, there are friends I want to reconnect with, at least once. It's on me to make the initial contact but after that, it has to be a two-way street. I'm prepared to be disappointed by some of them. 

Yes, there are so many things I want to do to make the Manor even more of my own personal paradise. To suddenly have time for that, to think that I'll have time, is almost overwhelming. Being occasionally compulsive about some projects, I know I must pace myself carefully to accomplish anything and not burn out. Or even flame-out, which could happen. 

And perhaps the biggest question of all, the one that is looming over me every time I sit at my desk in my lovely sunroom office - will the joy of writing return after I retire?

It's a lot to ponder on a Sunday morning before the sun has risen over the mountain and my coffee gets cold. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)

Christmas Eve update - 79 working days

January 14 update - 68 working days

December 3, 2021

Classic cars: The Pontiac Chieftain

The Pontiac Chieftain isn't what comes to mind when one mentions classic cars, but my Daddy had a 1955 Chieftain so it's on my list. In 1955, the Chieftain came equipped with a 316 cubic inch engine that made over 200 horsepower, and I know because he told me so, my Dad thought it was hot shit. I do wonder what he'd think about the over 700 horsepower Challenger Hellcat. By today's standards, the Chieftain isn't an attractive, sexy car but in 1955? It must have been.

Earlier today, I opened up a browser to check the headlines and found a Lifestyle article about a Chieftain someone bought and then repainted. (The horror of it!) Someone painted their car purple? Someone didn't like that old patina? I would have painted it back to the original color because what's left of that green is original. Dad's was a robin's egg blue, sort of turquoise-ish. I still have the vanity mirror from the old Chieftain, safe and secure in my box of treasures.

The article was basically a bit of fluff, but it made me smile and remember a different time. Back in the day, it wasn't unusual for a little kid to sit on their father's lap and "drive" the car. In that manner, the first car I ever drove was the Chieftain. Looking back with older eyes, all I see is my Dad's indulgence of his little girl. I wonder how many fathers today find empty rural roads and lift their kid over onto their lap so they can drive? Very few.

I think it was more difficult for my father to watch me learn to drive without his hands being there to keep me out of the ditches than it was to help me "steer." I think the only thing that tempered his anxiety was he raised a good driver and he saw that. 

There are precious few photos of the old Chieftain, and most of those are in black and white. It was my Dad's first brand-new car, but not the last. His last, and we couldn't know it would be his last when he bought it, was a 1973 Chevy Cheyenne, the forerunner of the Silverado, which debuted in 1975. Oh, he did grouse about not waiting! 

That's the thing about car lovers that a lot of folks miss. An article about an old car brings back so many lovely memories. And memories about my Dad, who died when I was twenty-six, are so very, very precious. In my life, there are only four people left who knew my father - one uncle and three cousins. My mother, afflicted with Alzheimer's, doesn't remember him, which is heart-wrenching. 

So, yeah. Pontiac Chieftain. Love ya, Daddy. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)

November 28, 2021

The long and winding road (driven very fast)

The spousal unit is on the hunt for a mid-size van that we can equip with either a side door power lift or a ramp for his power chair. A van, any van, is NOT my idea of how to even go get the mail out of the box at the end of my lane. I do not like vans. 

I do not like vans. Not for any reason. Yes, it could possibly be to his benefit but trust me when I say it won't be anything other than a waste of money. It'll be a new auto loan for him and frankly, he's at the point where he almost never drives. We go everywhere in the Charger and he does NOT get to drive my car. So he's looking at buying a vehicle that will sit in the driveway, in the way of all other vehicles, tractors, and mowers, and rarely be used. It's not something I'll be driving, that's for sure. Does this make financial sense? No. But it's NOT my money. If he thinks I'm going to help finance this misadventure, he's very much mistaken. There's a very good reason my money and his money never meet. But I digress...

I do not like vans. Period. 

I like Challengers, Chargers, Camaros, vintage and classic Mustangs, MOPAR, and Chevy trucks. It's a short list and there is not a van on it. 

This past Friday, instead of doing anything productive, Himself trolled the Internet (or should I start calling it the interwebs because change for the sake of change is hip). He saw a Dodge van at a dealership just north of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. That is over an hour's drive away. It did not please me to go but we hopped in the Charger on Saturday morning and headed out. Yes, I made him fill my gas tank first. 

We got as far as Thurmont, Maryland, before his phone rang. They'd sold the van the night before. I'm very grateful they called before we headed up Route 15 and the longest stretch of the trip. I would have been pissed to get all the way up there and then find out the van had been sold. My inner bitch was already on alert, poised for a good opportunity to launch. Thankfully, it became unnecessary. 

The drive to Thurmont is scenic, even with the leaves off the trees. Route 77, which meanders through Cunningham Falls State Park and Catoctin State Park, is a dream to drive when you have a car that corners on a rail, which my Charger does. 

Being in time for it, we cruised into McDonald's and got breakfast before heading back home. It was a truly lovely morning full of sunshine and blue sky. I was burning his gasoline, and so I took a little drive through Catoctin State Park and ended up driving past Camp David. 

I am now recorded on some military satellite, whizzing down the winding road like it's my personal NASCAR road course. I'm sure a bunch of "hidden" cameras were clicking away, too. Should I be worried? Undoubtedly. Big Brother knows all. 

Then again, those guys stuck with military vehicles are likely jealous they can't take three-hundred horses deep into a corner and power out the other side without body roll or braking. 

And as for Himself? Do THAT in a fucking van.

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)

November 27, 2021

Decorating for Christmas

When I was a younger woman freshly moved into my first real home, decorating for Christmas was something I anticipated with great joy. My first home was decorated with a lot of hand-me-downs from my grandmother and mother, as well as a few things I purchased on sale. I needed to be frugal - very frugal- in those days. And just like my foremothers, I do not discard Christmas decorations. I hoard them (for really no good reason). 

Decorating was fun! My friends collected Santas and elves which made for easy Christmas gifts. I liked reindeer, and when they found out, my collection of reindeer grew rapidly. It got to the point my husband and I joked about the yearly migration. 

Then came the year we had a young, exuberant puppy, Jett. We decorated. We chose poorly. I'm sure every person who's had a Labrador Retriever or dog of a similar size is well aware of the damage a rapidly wagging tail can cause. For Jett's second Christmas, we scaled back, and the scale down has continued until we've reached the point of setting out my grandmother's ceramic tree and a centerpiece on the dining room table.  Even at that, the little heirloom tree isn't placed where I'd prefer. Loki, my current cat, likes to sleep in the bow window, so the tree is on a side table. And Deuce is a bit larger, and more curious, than Jett was. 

It's been in my thoughts that I have one last big blowout Christmas decorating left in me. When the time comes, it will serve a dual purpose. Yes, I'll be decorated for Christmas, but it will also be the time to do what my mother and grandmother never could - discard a lot of things I'll never use again. Getting those boxes and bins back upstairs to the attic has become too difficult for me to do on my own and my husband is now unable to help with the task.

I'll ask the kids in Gen 4 to come and see if there are any of the older pieces their great-grandmother once owned that they may want, although the ceramic tree isn't up for grabs just yet. It may never be while I live and breathe. It pleased my grandmother so much she tended to leave it out until the first day of spring. Maybe she loved us teasing her about it. Whatever it was, that little tree holds a lot of memories. 

Will they really want much, or any, of the stuff? I doubt it. A lot of it is very dated and they don't have the memories of the hands that touched those things, which makes a difference. Nevertheless, I will offer. 

In the end, I will have done what I can to pass on those things and lift a burden from my shoulders. Most of the Christmas *stuff* stored in the attic will not go back up there. It's a bit sad, but that's the way of life. In the end, they're only things, and I've learned that things do not make a person happy forever. Once you no longer enjoy them, those things can weigh you down. 

And maybe once the dust settles and I've shed the things that no longer please me, and Deuce and Loki are old enough to be less rambunctious, the joy and charm of decorating for Christmas will fill me again. As with most things, we'll have to wait and see.

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)


November 26, 2021

My blessings are not "First-world problems"

It's the day after Thanksgiving and I have an abundance of things to be thankful for. My blessings are now called "first-world problems." I object to this label. There are many things in life none of us control, but getting up and going to mind a job, to work under the authority of another, has definitely been under my control. 

I didn't have to do it. 

But I do it every day, and I have since the age of sixteen. 

It's not that difficult. 

I understand the difference between the blessings bestowed by family and the "blessings" my own hard work have brought to my life. And I know where they all came from.

Yesterday, we had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Today, my refrigerator is full of leftovers. I do know what a blessing this is. Abundance, even when you work for it, is a gift from God. God provides [EQUAL] opportunities to all. 

Our current culture, our "correct" thinkers, tell us we should be sorry, that we should apologize, for our opportunities and our gifts from God. I don't espouse to that way of thinking. I'm grateful for the work ethic my parents and grandparents taught me. That work ethic has allowed me to provide for myself and to appreciate the gifts from family. I would not have received those gifts if I had not been working hard. They would have gone to others while I sat and watched. 

Too many people today talk about white privilege. It's a load of bunk. If you are not hired for a job, it doesn't matter the color of the skin of the person who told you that you didn't get the position. That was God keeping that door closed so a better one could open. God may have kept that door closed for your protection! Go find that better door! Go find that better apartment! Go find that better car! God WILL open the right door at the right time. I've lived it. I know. 

My too-full refrigerator isn't about the color of my skin or the money I've earned. It's about walking through the doors God opened for me. It's about not sitting back and crying when something didn't go my way. It's about, sadly enough, leaving certain individuals behind. When God removes someone from your life, you need to let them go. 

Giving back isn't about the grand gestures. It isn't about financing an addict's lifestyle. It's not about enabling their enabler to continue. Giving back is about quietly supporting another person so that they can find that open door. Giving back may be explaining what better choices are available to them. Empowerment is not enabling. Learn the difference because it's crucial. 

I'm not missing the point of it all. I'm standing up and declaring there is nothing about my life that is even remotely responsible for someone else's bad choices. I'm simply refusing to bow to societal demands that I apologize for every aspect of my life when I know it was ultimately God who provided equally for me and everyone else. God does not play favorites. Choose your doors wisely. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)

November 23, 2021

The leaves will always win

Autumn is a beautiful time of the year. Like a lot of people, I can say it's my favorite season, but I think each one has something to recommend it. Autumn has beautiful leaves - until they turn brown and hit the ground. Then they become our Nemesis.

Holly Tree Manor is a three-acre estate. Two of those acres are still wooded, so we have leaves. Lots and lots of leaves. We don't rake as a general rule. We use a mower and chop them up so the leaves can decompose and feed the grass. But there are a few places around the house and the shed where we use a blower in an attempt to keep things tidy. 

I'm attempting to learn how to make a cohesive video. This is important given my partner's health. There may come a day when he can no longer live at home. I fear he will need more care than I can provide. If that day comes, videos will become an important way for him to connect with my day-to-day life and see how things are at home. 

I'm not very good at setting up a camera angle, but I'll get there. It helps that Deuce is the star of the show. The original video of leaf blowing is up at Youtube. The edited version is below. I think a good tripod would be helpful and I think I'll ask Santa to order one for me. 

Did Himself get a laugh out of my war on the leaves? Not really. He's fought the fight himself in years past. He knows we wage skirmishes, never expecting to win a battle, much less the war.

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)


November 22, 2021

Seeds for 2022

One of my grandfather's favorite pastimes was perusing the annual seed catalogs. He received catalogs from Gurney, Burpee, and a host of others, but Burpee was his go-to seed supplier. It was a no-brainer for me to order my seeds for 2021 from Burpee. Now that we've arrived at the time of year to start to think about the 2022 growing season, I went to the Burpee website and ordered a few things: 

Cucumber, Straight Eight
Cabbage, Brunswick
Cauliflower, Snowball
Brussels Sprouts, Long Island
Tomato, Bodacious
Tomato, Veranda Red Hybrid (cherry)

Seeds do not magically expire on any given date, and I have a good many left over from this year. The germination rate may fall a few percentage points, but I'll still get good plants. I may not plant any jalapeno seeds in 2022, though. I had an incredible harvest this year and one woman can only consume so much Cowboy Candy on her own. 

It seems 2022 will be as much about experimenting and learning as 2021. I've ordered a Harvest Right freeze dryer to preserve those things that don't home can well. Cucumbers make pickles, of course, but I like them in different salads, unpickled. I also hope the freeze dryer will be somewhat less labor-intensive than canning. Canning a seven quart batch of pickles is an all-day job. You do not walk away from a pressure canner and "let it do its thing" the way you can with a freeze dryer. 

I'm excited about my 2022 dream garden. My final work day is May 31, 2022 (at the very latest!). I'll retire sooner if an adequate hire is made and they learn my job quickly. By the end of May, all the seedlings will be in their grow buckets and bags, and I'll be sitting amongst them in my expanded garden corral with my morning coffee. In a perfect world. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)

November 21, 2021

The Beaver Moon

This time of the year, the moon shines through my most westerly facing windows just before dawn. While it's lovely to lie in bed and enjoy its journey, I'm in bed. When in bed, one should be sleeping, not moon gazing. Alas, it's an imperfect world. Planetary orbits and such only allow me to "enjoy" the view one month out of the year. 

Growing up, my grandfather planted "by the moon." Old wisdom says when the moon is waxing, plant crops that grow above ground. When the moon is waning, plant root crops that grow underground. Pop always had a bountiful garden. 

The full moon in November is often called The Beaver Moon. Or you may hear it called The Frost Moon. November is usually the month when we have our first frosts of the season. Calling it The Beaver Moon refers to a time when beavers were plentiful and busy at work fortifying their lodges for the winter. 

If the full moon in November is the last one before the winter solstice, it is sometimes called The Mourning Moon. In 2021, the December full moon occurs on December 19th, two or so days before the full moon, so the November full moon is The Beaver Moon. 

Another bit of moon wisdom came from my late father. He always said it's colder at the full moon. Was he correct? I think so. I've paid attention over the years and it seems to me that the nights are certainly cooler during a full moon. 

Ancient alien theorists postulate a theory the moon is hollow and is an observation base. I can only imagine what the aliens think if they're really parked on the moon watching as our world goes mad. They probably are up there, making book and placing bets. What else is there to do on a huge space rock?  I do believe we are not alone.

 In a few short nights, the moon will no longer be my dawn companion and I'll get a few more moments of sleep. Not that I believe sleep to be an adequate trade-off for a peaceful view of traveling Luna. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)

November 15, 2021

No way to judge

Turkey......        check
Potatoes......     check
Stuffing.....    check
Gravy.....        check
Cranberry sauce....    check
Sweet potatoes.....    check
Corn.......       check
Green beans.....    check
Wine.....            check
Bourbon......        check
Pumpkin pie....    check
Butter.....        check
Rolls......    check
Jelly.....    check
Whipped cream....     check
Coffee.....    check

It looks like I have all the ingredients I need in the pantry to fix Thanksgiving dinner for two. It'll be just him and me again this year, and it doesn't bother me much. The world turns. People come and go. Family makeup changes. We take it as it comes.

We are very blessed to be able to look forward to a traditional turkey dinner. Having worked hard all our lives, we were able to get in this position. I got my first job at sixteen, and Himself was working on a farm by the time he was twelve for a dollar a day. In our families, we were expected to work hard just like our parents and grandparents. So we did, and we did it without complaint. Complaining, or acting victimized, were not options. We were not given or taught those options. 

We will give thanks when we sit down at our table because we are thankful.  We'll remember those who came before us who taught us to work hard and manage our resources. My grandparents struggled through the Great Depression and survived. His grandparents had even less. And yet they laid the foundations for us to have a better life, and we do.

He and I do not forget how easily it could have been different. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)

November 14, 2021

A creature of habits

I've had the same desktop photo on my computer since 2015. It happens to be the very first photoshop project I did. I like it. The colors, with their autumn-ish hues, please me. I doubt that I intended to keep this photo up for six years, but here we are. 

What struck me as I powered up the unit this morning is that I'm still using that same coffee mug, too. 

I suppose continuity is a good thing. Or should I simply admit I'm a creature of many habits?

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)

November 13, 2021

Sneaky little hooves

We've known he's taken a liking to our backyard. We've seen him around. Deuce certainly knows he's here. They have the animal version of an argument over just who owns the space. The buck walks in, Deuce leaps to his paws to give chase, the buck goes as far as the top of the stone fence and stops. Then the buck snorts at the dog and the dog freezes. He's not sure what that whistle/snort means but he knows it's not a good thing in his little doggie world. 

And that's it. The show is over for the moment. It will resume the next time the buck steps into the backyard. 

We try not to laugh at our dog. Deuce is our furry son, after all. He holds the title of Honorary Human, unlike the cat. (Loki is a Heathen, let me tell you.) But the dog's sudden loss of bravado is funny. 

We hope this young-ish buck stays on our side of the road and out of the state park where he could be "harvested." We'd like to see him remain in the gene pool for another season because he's a good-sized animal. So many bucks around here are getting smaller. 

This is the first time the buck has tripped the trail cam that we can get a good video of him and prove to the naysayers we have an eight-point lurking about. 

Who does own the backyard? I do, and I say the buck can stay.

Stay sneaky, my little friend. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)


November 1, 2021

Harvest Right Freeze Dryer

Three thousand dollars is a lot of money. I didn't spend that much on my first three cars, added together. But the times do change and the future isn't creeping up on us these days. It's coming at us fast to slap us in the face. 

It's become very clear to me that maintaining my country lifestyle has become a lot more complicated. Heck, maintaining any semblance to a "lifestyle" is a lot harder these days. I dragged the man of the manor along on a grocery run today. His takeaway on the experience was, "where's the Gatorade?" That wasn't precisely the point I wanted to drive home with him, but it's close. 

The Gatorade isn't at our house. The last time I got him Gatorade, he told me we didn't need to buy it two cases or sleeves at a time. Ha! Now he has none. The price of Doritos chips has gone from $2.50 a bag to $3.48. We now have no Doritos to go along with his Cool Blue. 

He didn't comment on some of the empty shelves, but I know he took it all in. I've been telling him for months, but him seeing it for himself was better. 

After the groceries were stowed, I sat down at my computer and did something I wasn't sure I should do - I ordered a Harvest Right freeze dryer. Yep. They are pretty pricey. 

I've enjoyed home canning this year, and I plan to continue. The freeze dryer isn't to take the place of canning and/or dehydrating. It's to begin having a long-term pantry. Freeze-dried items properly stored can last up to twenty years. I see a definite advantage to having the ability to expand my pantry, which expands our ability to eat healthier. Nothing will take the place of canned apple pie filling, but having apple slices with no extra added sugar to munch on will be a definite plus. Freeze-dried blueberries and raspberries are little candies. Canned potatoes get starchy while freeze-dried do not. This purchase will round out my home preservation plan. 

And so now I have a little work to do. I need to rearrange a few things in the basement and create a workstation for the new equipment. I'm pretty sure this will lead to at least one trash bag full of things I no longer use making its way out of the house. We do tend to hoard things when we have space, but we've kept things like an old showerhead. Why? Because we could, which is not a good reason. 

The freeze dryer won't ship until January. Harvest Right is shipping five to seven weeks out at this point, so I put down a deposit to get the sale price and will pay the balance at a time to try to have it shipped after Christmas when shipping may be less hectic. That gives me plenty of time to clean out and rearrange downstairs. One of the upsides is I'll be doing the rearranging on my own with no help from Himself, so it will be done my way to suit me.

Is a freeze dryer worth an outlay of $3,000? I guess I'll find out in the new year. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)

October 19, 2021

Lemon Balm salve

Lemon balm is a member of the mint plant family. It was one of the first things I planted back in 1981 when I first moved onto this piece of property. It takes a lot to kill it off once it's established but continually mowing it off will do it. My first husband didn't like where I planted it so he mowed over it every week. "Ex" is for many reasons. But I digress... I have a nice new patch planted this year. It will eventually be the centerpiece of an herb garden.

Lemon balm is also a medicinal herb. For my purposes, I steeped leaves in avocado oil to make a skin ointment for this winter. Basically, I made my own knock-off of Burt's Bees cuticle conditioner.  

To do this I dried lemon balm leaves and stuffed as many as possible into a four-ounce Ball jar and covered them with oil. I let it steep for four weeks. Then I strained the oil and discarded the leaves, getting about half a cup of essential oil. Because this is a topical product, I added a bit of purchased lemon oil until I had the fragrance I wanted, and then added one-eighth cup of pure beeswax. Then I set a bowl inside a bowl using hot water to passively melt the beeswax. While this was working, I cleaned out the little mason jar.

When the wax was completely melted, I used a coffee stir stick to stir the mix and carefully poured it back into the jar, sealed it, and let it cool. The result is something that immediately made the dry skin on my hands feel softer. I think the oil is absorbed and the beeswax stays on top to seal it in. It puts a little bit of gloss on natural nails, too. It smells both lemony and "green." I can't wait to use it on my elbows and heels. 

A darker, amber jar might be a better choice to store the product in, but I didn't have any. Nor did I have a tin available. But since I'll store this in a drawer, away from sunlight, my light blue Ball jar should be fine. 

Most recipes for an herbal ointment like this call for olive oil, but I didn't want that scent alongside the lemon. I don't know why grape seed oil won't work with this, either. Any mild oil without much of a scent should work, but you should test it out to make sure you don't have a reaction to it. Same for any herb leaves you use - test them first. The less beeswax you add, the softer the end product, but I wanted a firmer end product, similar to the cuticle conditioner I've used for many years. 

So that's my latest experiment here at the manor. Next up, I'm doing a similar project with calendula. Stay tuned. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)

October 17, 2021

Cheesecake and meatballs!

 Yesterday, I fed my addiction: I canned meatballs! And not only did I put seven dinners worth of meatballs into jars, but I also made a cheesecake in the Instant Pot while the pressure canner was busy cch-cch-cching away. And then there are the four meals worth of diced potatoes blanched, bagged, and into the freezer. 

It was a busy morning! 

At first, I thought I'd can the potatoes but after a brief discussion with the man of the manor, I decided to go the diced route. The potatoes were just on the cusp of beginning to go soft so this was a good way to save them. They will make great home fries or even potatoes and eggs. 

The cheesecake was done on a whim and is the dessert for Sunday dinner, which will be something with meatballs. I had one jar that didn't seal because I think I tightened the ring down too far. I could freeze that batch, but meh. Let's eat them! As for the jarred meatballs going into the pantry, as the price of ground beef rises, I'll have six dinners at yesterday's beef prices. I have another five-pound pack of ground beef (88/12) to brown off and then decide if I want to freeze it or can it in pints. 

It was a labor-intensive morning, but it was for a good cause - my pantry. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)

October 16, 2021

It's not on my sleeve, but in my heart

With full retirement imminent, I've been pondering the nature of the friendships I've made at my place of employment. It's a fact that people come into and float out of your life. Sometimes that's okay, but other times it's a sad happening. Sometimes we understand the loss, as when a friend or family member dies. It's those times when they drift away for no apparent reason that weighs on the heart.  

I'm no more or less spiritual than anyone else, and I don't wear my beliefs on my sleeve (or t-shirt). The main reason for that is I refuse to be sucked into a debate by individuals who want to "explain" to me how wrong I am. 

I don't debate. I know what I know from experience and critical thinking. I may not know everything but I do know that nowhere in the religious texts I've read does it say, "Thou shalt be and act stupid." 

There is another thing I do know: God removes people from your life for a reason and he only removes people who are holding you back, not people you need. 

Knowing this doesn't mean I don't have questions. My best friend for many, many years moved five states away. Was it me who no longer needed her, or she who no longer needed me? The last time I had any contact with her was in May of this year. The last words out of her mouth were, "I'll call you." I'm still waiting on that call. 

Yes, I could call her but there seems to be a perverse streak in my nature that wants to see if this time, she'll follow through on her words. It's not the first time she told me she'd call me and didn't. I'm hurt enough by it I worry I'll unleash bitter words on her if I call her. 

As for my on-the-job friends, it's my decision to retire fully so I guess I'm walking away from them. It's up to me to develop ways to stay in touch with them and for them to accept the changes and reciprocate. If they don't, I need to let go. 

What I fear - well, fear isn't the exact word. What would sadden me is to reach out to someone I've known for years and get only a cursory response instead of the lively conversation of years past. That's probably inevitable when the glue that held the friendships together is dissolved. 

Retirement is my choice so I guess I'm being removed from their lives, at least on a daily basis. Perhaps it is my time to step aside. 

I'm impatient to have retirement happen. I feel poised on the edge of new adventures in my writing, life at Holly Tree Manor, and in friendships. My writing has been frozen since my writing partner died. I've tried to remain friends with a group of writers but it's not the same as that one friend who wrote so similarly to me it's difficult to tell who wrote what in those books we co-wrote. We truly clicked and I doubt I'll ever have that again. I'm eager to get to where I have the time to write without having to check my work email every twenty minutes, lose focus, and not be able to pick up the story again. 

Sage words we've all heard are, "when one door closes, another opens." It's hard to hold internal panic at bay when you see the door closing but you can't see the opening on the other side. You know where you want the door to lead, but what if it doesn't? 

And I suppose if God tells me stepping into my future means removing people from my life, I'll have to go with it and not run after them. It's not my master plan, after all. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)

October 8, 2021

I think I'm having withdrawal

It's been an interesting summer. I had a bountiful garden for what select veggies I planted, and I took up home canning again at what must be the worst time in history to do so. I enjoyed all of it! And now I'm having withdrawal...I think. 

I want to preserve something and for the life of me I don't know what. I have fall carrots, beets, and radishes still growing but not ready to harvest. Most fruits are over for the year. 

But I have jars left to fill! 

Trust me, those jars were hard-won. I had to hit the stores, namely Walmart, when the doors opened in the morning to get quart jars. And lids? If you live around here, you're fucked. I ordered several batches of Tattler lids, so screw you Newell Brands. Today and in the future. Tattlers work great and they're reusable and most importantly AVAILABLE. 

I've been researching soups. I've already processed chili, vegetable, and chicken corn soups. We just popped the seal on the second to last jar of chili a few evenings ago. It's really nice to pour a jar into the saucepan and heat it up - no waiting for it to thaw. I'll definitely make a larger batch next time. 

So what can I preserve this weekend? Surely there is something I can work on.  I'm infusing avocado oil with lemon balm to make a balm or salve, but it's not steeped long enough. I have some calendula blossoms drying but they're not ready to do anything with. Of course! Banana bread! I do have a couple of really ripe bananas, enough for two loaves, and one and a half loaves can go in the freezer. That might get me over the hump for this weekend. I'll get it figured out and add something to the pantry. 

And speaking of the pantry, the prevailing wisdom is not to let people see what's in your pantry. There's concern that when times get really hard, people will try to steal from you. I see the validity to that fear, but please remember this if nothing else. 

We also spent the summer upping our level of security.  

The Lady of Holly Tee Manor (The Hideaway)

October 3, 2021

Hosting a Cousin's Lunch

This past Saturday, we hosted a Cousin's Lunch. It's not as grand as it may (or may not) sound, but these small get-togethers are a high point for me. Several years ago, pre-pandemic, me and my two surviving first cousins decided we didn't sit down at the table together enough, the way we did when we were younger, and we wanted to remedy that. We decided to meet for lunch every quarter. The Covid-19 pandemic derailed us, but we hope that's a thing of the past. 

I decided to invite them to an afternoon on our patio so we could enjoy each other's company and the glorious autumn weather. The patio is screened so insects are not a problem. Our new countertop provided the perfect staging area for the food and left us plenty of room at the table. The lunch fare was pure picnic with hamburgers, potato and macaroni salads, Cole slaw, baked beans, apple cider, apple cake, and some chips and dips. We are blessed with abundance and we all ate too much. 

Maybe it's a sign of being older, but I didn't stress about hosting my cousins. We did a cursory "house cleaning" and let it go at that. The house is always clean enough to be safe and dirty enough to keep our immune systems paying attention. Deuce was a perfect gentleman pup, and I do mean PERFECT.  The one cousin-in-law has been less than enthusiastic about dogs (I think she's a bit afraid of them) and even she had not one snark over his presence. Lunch lasted late into the afternoon as we were all reluctant to part company again.  Next fall, I hope we can do it again. 

And maybe next fall, if we're able to gather, I'll reach out to a girl who is a second cousin to me and D, but not R. They know each other, that's not the 'issue.' We started the cousin's lunch for the first cousins, but now that we're getting older, maybe it's time to include L. I'd certainly like that. She and I were very close growing up. 

It's bittersweet to reflect back with memories of our youth. We've all lost parents, and R has lost his brother, too. My mother has Alzheimer's Disease and is lost to me and the world. Time was our Christmas happened on Christmas Eve at D's house when his mother hosted all of us for dinner and gift exchange. We became teenagers in the 1970's and we hung out together. Life got busy for us but now I'm the last one still working, something that I'm trying to remedy. 

Our memories are a big part of who we are, and I'm so grateful to be making new ones with my cousins. Time has become precious, and spending more time with the people who have been most important to me for all of my life is a high priority. 

I'm reminded of some very special words from artist Neil Young: 
We've been through some things together
With trunks of memories still to come
We found things to do in stormy weather

Long may you run, long may you run
Although these changes have come
With your chrome heart shining
In the sun long may you run.
Long may you run. 

Long may we run. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)

September 30, 2021

Another September passed

This September has been a busy month for me. I'm technically still employed although I work from home quite a bit. But September is budget-setting time so I've been in my town office more than I like these past few weeks. It didn't make me jump for joy but it was necessary. My employer has bent over backward for me so I can bend a bit, too. 

There are still good places to work out there. My best advice to you is to find one and prove yourself worthy of loyalty. Anyway...

September. I cleaned up my garden corral and planted another packet of radishes, which are doing quite well. The strawberries finally look good. Apple canning went splendidly. I said to hell with worrying about the pandemic and went back to the bowling league. I pondered my place in the universe far too many evenings, I read a lot of smutty books, and I didn't write or blog nearly enough. And come Saturday, I'm hosting a Cousin's Lunch. 

I'm suddenly the "middle child" between my two surviving first cousins, both guys. The older one called me a bit ago to tell me his wife was bringing an apple cake. I'd planned to make an apple cobbler or crisp, and I still may. He's also bringing his baked beans made with apples and root beer. Oh, yeah...

I'd report in on the younger cousin but they went RVing so who knows what mischief they got into, right? 

We also spent some time at our little shooting range this month. It's fun as long as we stop after a few magazines and/or cylinders. Too much is just too much and ammo isn't cheap these days. Deuce doesn't like being left inside when we're outside, either. He howls. 

It feels like the month sped past me with barely a break. I hope October will have a slower pace as the leaves begin to turn in earnest. Our showiest maple already has a few bright orange leaves and I hope it puts on a show this year. There's always the chance I won't live to see it show its colors another season, so I want to savor it, and October, the best month of the year. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)

September 27, 2021

Dehydrating frozen strawberries

Cheesecake! Yum! Yum! 

We're hosting the Cousin's Lunch this coming Saturday, and I thought I might make a cheesecake. It's that or an apple crisp. Maybe both. The future is unwritten and who knows where the spirit may lead?  Or maybe dessert will be a good, old-fashioned apple cobbler and I'll keep the cheesecake for us. 

Last winter we ordered two dozen strawberry plants from Burpees, a very well-known company. The plants arrived a little late for planting in my area (strike one), and because of that, only nine of the plants lived. That's not a good margin of success. I doubt I'll order roots from Burpees again. A local nursery seems a much better option if I go for blackberries. 

Several of the stronger plants did produce a berry or two which was enough to pick and eat on the spot but nothing more. Those stronger plants have also sent out runners and the sets seem to be taking hold. The plan is to move them into the greenhouse this winter since they are in containers and not yet the ground. I hope to get a harvest in 2022. 

With cheesecake on my mind, I pulled a bag of sliced strawberries out of the freezer and spread them out on the dehydrator trays. Once they've dried to a light crisp, I'll put them in the coffee grinder and turn them into a powder to add to the cheesecake batter. It will only take a tablespoon or three of powder to intensify the strawberry flavor. Powders are a great way to take the flavor to the next level. Beyond that, green powders can add nutrition to soups and other dishes. Himself hates spinach but doesn't balk at a tablespoon of spinach powder added to some dishes. The trick is to only add to the point where it may become detectable and stop. 

Another perk of dehydrating strawberries is that the house will smell of delicious strawberries for several days. The man of the manor is correct in one thing. Spinach doesn't add a thing to the air. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)

September 14, 2021

Did you grow?

Being introspective by nature, every so often I become aware I'm in a period of self-examination. I question why I'm doing what I'm doing and what I hope to gain or achieve with it. For example, I've been doing a lot of food preservation this summer. Why? Do I really think it's going to be a difficult winter or is it just a fad to fill the hours emptied of people by the Covid-19 pandemic? Am I doing the work because I want to or because someone influenced me to do it?  Or is it a bit of both with a dash of "I enjoy it" tossed into the mix? 

Lately, my thoughts have also been dwelling on the nature of friendship. I know a lot of people. Social media has extended everyone's circle but those closest to me are still those I've had a flesh, blood, and bone relationship with since my youth. There is time and distance between some of us now, but we can pick up the conversation like that space never exists. My writer friend in Alabama is a prime example of that. Just thinking about her makes me want to charge up the phone and call her. We haven't chatted for far too long, and sometimes an email isn't enough. I want to hear her laughter. 

What troubles me these days is the nature of the social media relationship with mental health and the effect it has on friendships. I see social media in its many forms as a valuable tool. As a writer, it helps me promote my books and gives me insight into what people with vastly different perspectives think. (Yes, that gets scary.) The Internet has brought a group of friends to me, people I never would have gotten to know otherwise. I value my modern-day pen pals. 

But being in a time of introspection, I wonder if a few of them have become toxic. My life seems to have diverged from theirs. I like to think of myself as mature, but sometimes those ill-advised jabs tossed at me hurt and the sting doesn't lessen. I'm suddenly callused about what I now view as their insignificant concerns. To be truthful, I'm not one to forget a slur even after being tendered an apology. I can forgive because I understand the imperfections of human nature, jealousy being a prime candidate to toss nasty barbs at someone you call "friend."

Have I grown through having these Internet friendships? Perhaps. Would I have grown in the same manner without them? Perhaps. I still mourn the loss of my friend author Chris Grover, with whom I had daily email conversations. Would I have made different decisions and followed different paths without my Internet friends? I think that's unlikely. My feet are firmly planted on a path I laid out for myself decades ago and one I've never wavered from wanting. 

So why am I frequently troubled by the nature of some of these long-standing "friendships?" Perhaps it's because some of those barbs show a surprising lack of tolerance with my choice to delve deeper into the heritage of my country lifestyle. 

And perhaps it's all me. Maybe I have grown and they feel left behind, outstripped. That, too, is simply life. There is no going back, at least not for me.  

The Lady of The Hideaway

September 11, 2021

Famous #men words

How many times have I heard these words: "Yeah, set it there and I'll fix it." ????

It's almost a joke here on the manor. Yes, Himself is very handy to have around because there is very little he can't repair once he puts his mind to it. I like that in a man, I really do. But sometimes the time, and the inclination, get away from him and those "promised" repairs do not happen nor will they ever happen. 

After almost thirty years, I'm well aware of what will and what won't get fixed. 

Today we were in the shed preparing some spray to *murder death kill* any bug living near the patio, and we were discussing the need to tidy-up the implements hanging on the pegboard. The next thing I knew, I had a truckload of junk to take to the dumpster. 

I'm not sure how it happened, who said what or what started the de-cluttering, but I'm really glad it happened. 

Maybe next weekend it will happen again. #hopeful

The Lady of The Hideaway 


I could have blogged about the 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States of America, but I truly have little to add that has not already been said. If you can't see that tragedy has been compounded by more tragedy, you don't want to know my opinion. If you do see the tragedy of the last eighteen months, then you know and I don't need to tell you what you already know. 

September 10, 2021

Back to living

I'm getting back to living. Tonight is bowling night and I will be there. 

I sat out the 2020 season because of the Covid=19 pandemic. Since then, lies have compounded lies and I'm tired of listening to them. I'm tired of being a cow in the herd. I have more reasons than ever to mistrust the government. 

I'm a lifelong bowler. I enjoy the sport and the camaraderie of my local bowling alley, my "house." I've known many of my fellow bowlers for decades. Those of us who have bowled together for so long have become akin to family. 

Yes, this is my first step back to the land of the living. 

I'm going to shake off being afraid and I'm going to do something that I enjoy - bowling.

I'm not utterly stupid, though. I'm not about to hug people or even give a "high five" for a strike. I won't be alone in that. We bowlers are a bit smarter than that. 

Some people will wear masks and I may be among them. If a member of the league tests positive for Covid-19, it would be prudent. 

That's my statement for today. 

The Lady of the Hideaway

September 9, 2021

Conform or be cast out

I've pretty much had it. I'm sick of theories with no grain of truth.

The Covid-19 pandemic hit and people died by the thousands. Why?

We're told the virus has mutated and is stronger, and yet fewer people die. We're told it's because of the vaccine. 

I wonder how many of those early deaths were caused by medical malpractice. 

We were told the vaccine would save us. We have breakthrough cases. 

I'd imagine by now almost everyone who has not contracted the virus knows someone who has. We know several dozen people who have/had Covid-19, and yet we remain without affliction. 

We're both vaccinated. It wasn't our first choice but we saw the writing on the wall. CONFORM OR BE CAST OUT. 

Cases are rising again. Government school systems are holding parent's emotions hostage. The government is mandating that people who work those posh government jobs are to get vaccinated or risk losing those jobs and benefits. Awww. 

Conform or be cast out. That's it in a nutshell, and I have a frightening theory as to why. 

Once "we" have all have several doses of the vaccine, what will be unleashed upon us? What if this vaccine is preparing us to be vulnerable to the next pathogen? 

We ARE being controlled but to what end?

These questions keep me awake at night. 

The Lady of The Hideaway

August 31, 2021

History repeats? The "I" storms

August 30, 2021
In 1751, my five times great-grandfather landed in Philadelphia and made his way to Maryland's Cumberland Valley. The valley has South Mountain along the east side and Fairview Mountain along the west. A good portion of his descendants remain. It's a nice place to live. Although we experience all four seasons, the highs and lows of each are generally bearable, and the mountains provide beautiful vistas and a small measure of protection from severe weather events. 

As I write this blog entry and add updates, the country's attention is focused on Hurricane Ida which is currently hammering New Orleans. Ida made landfall on August 29th, the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina making landfall at virtually the same spot. It is to me another example of our cyclic weather patterns. By the time the remnants of Katrina reached western Maryland, it was light rain. The mountains broke the storm apart. I hope if Ida comes this way, the mountains will protect us once again. What worries me is the Ida is an "I" storm. 

More retired Atlantic hurricane names start with "I" than any other letter, and nine of the names have been retired since 2001. 

August 31, 2021 8:30 PM
Iris (2001), Isidore (2002), Isabel (2003), Ivan (2004), Ike (2008), Igor (2010), Irene (2011), Ingrid (2013), and Irma (2017). 

Isabel, September 17, 2003, hit us hard, downing massive trees and slicing off the power for 55 hours. In 2004, Ivan caused flooding. Ike came along in 2008 and the outer bands drifted over and brought wind and rain. Ike made it to Canada. In November 2009, a different Ida hit us and became known as a Mid-Atlantic "nor'easter."  Irene in 2011 did not make direct landfall, but it was a huge storm and we had winds and rain and the subsequent power loss. It was different on the other side of South Mountain. In 2011, Isaac brought a good bit of rain. 

I doubt I'll forget Isabel. She brought down an 80-foot tall oak that landed mere feet from the house. It's a fact of life that mature trees die and fall, but this one had the help of a micro-burst. 

While what we experience here in western Maryland is nothing - NOTHING - compared to the heartache people along the Gulf of Mexico suffer, we are concerned. We worry about loved ones. We worry about property damage. We worry about power outages. The "I" storms are nothing to ignore. 

There's little we can do to prepare even if we were certain Hurricane Ida will reach us, which when I began this entry seemed unlikely. As we've followed along, the storm has been downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm and is moving slowly. It's Tropical Storm (or depression) Ida that will impact us. It's going to rain - a lot. 

I've filled the gasoline cans to make sure we can run the generator and that's about it. We wait and watch the radar, and know that one hundred years ago, our great-grandparents had no such early warning system in place. They never knew how bad a storm was until it passed over them. 

And yet such knowledge encourages us to worry, to fear, and we have been instructed to "fear not." That's difficult to do when media images of destruction, and our own memories, remind us we do have things to fear. 

Perhaps I should let greater minds ponder these things. Perhaps it's enough that I know the "I" storms brim with the potential to cause major damage. And perhaps I must bow to powers greater than my own. It will be as it will be, and none of us can change it. 

The Lady of The Hideaway

August 30, 2021

Preserving peaches

I heard the peach harvest this year was exceptional, and from what I saw at the orchards it was not a lie or a marketing ploy. I made the drive to a local orchard my grandmother favored for peaches and brought home a half-bushel of Bounty. They were huge! 

This local orchard has been family-owned and operated for a few generations. I like to see that sort of stability. Anyway, I went and bought peaches. 

These peaches were, no lie, bigger than my fist. I'd never heard of Bounty peaches, but they looked and smelled wonderful, plus they're a freestone variety. I've since learned they were developed at the USDA peach breeding program at Kearneysville, West Virginia, which is just a tad more than half an hour from the manor. 

Once I had the peaches home, I immediately began to process them, canning them in pint jars. I got twenty-four pints of canned peaches and one batch of peach jelly. It was an intense two days but very much worth it.

With so many pints on the shelf, I won't need to can peaches again next year. I suspect it will take two pints to make a pie, but that's okay. I didn't want to process them in quarts and risk opening a jar to have peaches for dessert and not using the entire contents over the course of a few days. 

Home-canned fruit is good in the sealed jar on the shelf for at least eighteen months. I personally am not worried about fruit that is jarred longer so long as the seal is intact. 

And that's the key to safe consumption. The seal must remain intact. If you take a jar off the shelf and the lid falls or lifts off in your hand, throw the food out and sterilize the jar. Don't risk eating it. It rarely happens, but a seal can fail so be mindful of it. 

I'm looking forward to canning apples, but that won't be such as intense process. Apples keep longer than peaches so I won't need to do them all at once. I'll also be putting apples in quart jars. Some of the newer varieties such as Gala are available now, but I want Stayman or Winesap which are older varieties and will, I hope, capture the flavor of my grandmother's pies. 

Summer fruit and winter pies and cobblers. It's worth the work. 

If you want to learn more about canning, please visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation at This is your preserving bible. 

The Lady of The Hideaway

August 29, 2021

Black-eyed Susan

Trivia fact - the Black-eyed Susan has been Maryland's state flower since 1918. 

My foremothers always had abundant patches of Black-eyed Susan. It's a hardy, free-seeding plant and gives a lovely pop of bright yellow to the August flower garden. Back in the day, I was given a baggie full of seeds and told to simply scatter them on the ground. I did and the next year I had lovely flowers. 

These days, I'm down to one plant but now I have hope! For the first time in years, the deer have not come in close enough to eat the buds before they flowered. I have hope of harvesting a crop of seeds to scatter over the manor. 

Black-eyed Susan may be an old-fashioned flower, but I like it. It comes back every year and spreads on its own (usually). Maybe I'll get lucky and end up with a patch to rival that of my grandmother. 

Old-fashioned? No. Black-eyed Susan is the stuff of memories living and blooming today.

The Lady of The Hideaway

August 28, 2021

Morning mist

I've been remiss in my blogging these past days. There's been a lot going on and the days flew by. People often say, "the time got away from me" when this happens. I think we understand the full statement is that we lacked sufficient time in our schedule to do some things not necessary for survival, such as blogging. One of my goals for this weekend is to catch up on my writing, both with the current manuscript and the blogs. 

But I'm easily distracted these days. I landed at the computer with a cup of coffee and did the normal things. Checked my email, checked Twitter, checked sales reports, watched the mist settle in over the manor. Yeah, that was the one that got me.

Once the lovely, soft mist came down, Deuce and I headed out. I have all sorts of things to do, but a walk through the misty woods with the dog trumped them all. We made the first mile and detoured to one of the streams so he could get his paws wet. On our way back to the trail, we met up with my cousins and their dog, Sadie. Deuce isn't too fond of Sadie yet. She's a bit energetic and he's a bit stoic, but they managed to walk together just fine, basically because Deuce took his normal point position and ignored her. It was still a lovely walk. 

By the time we got back, about ninety minutes later, the sun had burned off the mist and the temps were climbing. The next order of business was for Deuce to cool down and for me to get a shower. 

I still have the same to-do list as before our walk and now there is less time to do it. And you know what? I don't care. I may or may not get all the items checked off my list. There's still time to do a lot of it whereas there was a small window of time to walk in the misty woods. 

I think I chose wisely. 

The Lady of the Hideaway