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)