June 29, 2022

We have an interloper and it's bad news for him


In the old days, I could call what was happening in the picture a Mexican stand-off. I imagine that's politically incorrect these days. Whatever you want to call this, it is not good news for the pigeon.

And what the hell is a pigeon doing way out here on the mountain? And why is he on MY roof? 

Yesterday, the spousal unit was outside puttering around and he started yelling for me. I went outside and there was the pigeon on the roof. We were surprised but we figured he'd fly on his merry way soon enough. Today we realized his wings have been clipped and he's not flying anywhere too fast. So how did he get here?

This is not a safe place for Mr./Ms. Pigeon. If Loki doesn't have fresh squab for dinner, the fox or the Red-tailed hawk will. It's even possible Deuce could inadvertently kill him thinking he had to retrieve the bird. 

Our community has a private Facebook page and I did post the bird was here. I do hope the owner contacts me to help facilitate a rescue before the inevitable happens.

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)


Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, pigeons, country living, lost birds, rural lifestyle, Loki, Deuce, a writer's life, interlopers, Red-tail hawk, bad luck, simple country pleasures, lost pets


June 25, 2022

I heard a noise...

This past Wednesday our area experienced thunderstorms and heavy rain. I'm not complaining. It's summer and if you live in western Maryland, it's thunderstorm season. So, yeah. It arrived right on time. But thunderstorms also mean tree damage. 

We were watching it rain sideways when there was a flash, a pop, and a snap! The lights flickered but the power stayed on. The television didn't come back on, which was worrisome, so I investigated the situation and discovered one breaker had tripped. I reset it and all was well again, at least until we went outside to see if there was any damage. 

One of the maple trees between us and our younger cousin snapped about ten to twelve feet up the trunk and, unfortunately, the top fell in the direction of our shed. Deuce told a little story of how one of the branches landed on the John Deere's bucket, but Deuce didn't know to look up. Dogs are like that. They don't always look at what's over their heads. Anyway... getting this tree the rest of the way to the ground looked to be very problematic. 

I called my cousin to let him know we'd be cutting a tree on his property before it could land on our shed. He immediately came up for a look-see, and to see if we wanted the wood. It's his tree so no, we told him to take the wood. We settled on this morning to work together and bring it the rest of the way down safely. 

We got lucky. Last evening, I heard a tree fall, a sound I know well having lived in the woods for over forty years. Deuce started barking at the window so I knew which direction to look. The tree had snapped off completely and come down, landing just short of the shed and the John Deere 1023. I texted my cousin and he walked up again (we're curious that way). We all agreed it was a good thing because of our safety concerns. 

Today looks to be a hot one with the mercury rising into the nineties. The spousal unit will probably go out and cut the top out of the tree and use the Brush Crusher to haul the pieces to the burn pile. This will clear our "alley" behind the shed. I doubt we do any additional clearing until Monday is supposed to bring cooler temps. 

My cousin will come to cut the wood and we'll give him whatever help he needs. The "damage" will be cleared and the wood harvested instead of wasted. It's just the way things work here at the manor. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)


Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, fallen trees, country living, rural lifestyle, thunderstorms, cutting wood, storm damage, a writer's life, simple country pleasures, summer heat



June 22, 2022

The State of Retirement: One month in


Today marks my being retired for one month. How's it going? Holy crap...

If I'd had any inkling I'd be on the go from six in the morning until past dark, I may not have retired. I'm working waaaaaay too hard! Falling in the creek didn't help much either. 

Having a sore hip hasn't stopped me. The roses and peonies needed tending and the garden needs to be watered daily. June started out with a completely blank menu, the planning of which involved the spousal unit (not conducive to the speedy completion of any project). 

We sold our beloved 2011 Chevy Silverado and began in earnest our search for a van. That was not a good experience until we stopped by Stakes in Fayetteville. It's amazing what sort of junk the dealerships in Frederick and Sykesville are attempting to sell for top dollar. But at this little place on Route 30 just outside of Chambersburg, we got red carpet treatment - and a van. 

We've mowed and mulched, burned the brush pile, and installed three small raised garden beds with an eye to the future. I've canned butter beans and plan to can baked beans next. I had a little royalty windfall and did a major shopping trip to bolster the pantry. 

It's been a very busy start to retirement. I'm truly not complaining. The last thing I want to get is bored, and that has not been, nor does it look to be, an issue. The old adage that busy hands are happy hands is proving true. The only complaint I have is that I've not had enough time to write on a regular basis, but now that we're not running all over four states car shopping, that situation should improve. What I'm missing is rest. 

I thought I'd have time to laze on the patio in the afternoons, but no. It hasn't happened. I think that to have a true day of rest, I'll have to stay in bed! With a book! 

That would not be a bad thing.

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)


Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, retirement, simple country pleasures, Chrysler Town & Country, brush, patio, gardening, home food preservation, Silverado, yard work, roses, peonies, raised garden beds

June 20, 2022

Green tomatoes - winning so far!

Earlier this spring, I started a passel of tomato seeds. "Passel," in country-speak, is a lot. The word is in the dictionary, but it's not a word you'll hear city-dwellers using too often. Anyway, I planted a BUNCH of tomato seeds. I did not expect to have one hundred percent germination so I gave some of the young plants to friends. 

Originally, I planted Roma, Veranda (cherry), and Bodacious (slicing). The Bodacious had excellent germination and the seedlings looked good, then all but two of twenty-four seedlings died. The tray they were in sat side-by-side with the Roma and Veranda seedlings, and they're fine as the pictures show. Not to be deterred, I grabbed a pack of Rutger seeds off the rack at Walmart and started them. They are doing very well, flowering right now, but still behind the other two. 

I'm still calling it a win. I learned not to purchase Bodacious seeds. Learning is good! I learned I may not want to plant an entire pack of 25 or 50 seeds. I might want to scale back to twelve and see what grows because I can always plant more seeds. In fact, having staggered planting might be an advantage when harvest time rolls around. 

What am I going to do with all those Roma tomatoes? The plan is to home-can diced tomatoes in pints to use in chili, soups, and hopefully new recipes we'll find and want to try. I also want to make ketchup and I think for that I can add the cherry and slicing tomatoes to the Romas for a richer flavor. I also want to freeze-dry some of the cherry tomatoes for in green salads over the winter. We'll see how that works out in due course. 

I have a few ideas on how to improve my little garden next year. With a recession starting, I hope I'll be able to carry through on them. Stay tuned.

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)


Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, gardening, country living, tomatoes, planting seeds, harvesting, a writer's life, simple country pleasures, Roma tomatoes, cherry, staggered planting, home canning, home food preservation


June 18, 2022

Changing directions on strawberries


Last year, or maybe the year before since one does lose track of time, I bought a five-tier planter that was marketed for strawberries. Nope. Strawberries wouldn't successfully grow in it. The soil is too shallow and it dried out too fast. And I did worry that the planter may not be BPA-free and the strawberries *could* absorb bad chemicals. When in doubt, change direction. This year, I decided that the planter could be better used for begonias. 

My maternal grandmother loved red begonias (wax plants to some). Where I live, they are treated as annual bedding plants or as houseplants. I'm so pleased with this planting that this fall I'll bring in one red and one white plant to winter over. Next spring I'll start cuttings and plant them again.

A love of wax plants is just one thing my grandmother passed on to me. I think of her when I look at my little planter and that's important. When we remember our loved ones, they're still with us, and she is still with me.

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)


Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, annual plantings, begonias, wax plants, gardening, rural lifestyle, houseplants, a writer's life, memories, simple country pleasures




June 17, 2022

Butter beans 2022

When all else fails, do it yourself. 

The spousal unit and I enjoy old-fashioned ham potpie. It's a great way for our household of two to use up the Christmas and Easter hams. We have ham a few times, then I freeze what remains for potpie. 

To make the potpie, I first simmer the ham bone to get good broth and freeze it. Then freeze the ham. When the time comes to actually cook, the broth, ham, two potatoes, maybe a quarter cup of diced onions, parsley, seasonings, potpie bows or sometimes bot boi noodles, and butter beans go into a big pot and come out as potpie.

Ah, butter beans. Around here, one can no longer purchase butter beans. 

But one can certainly get dried large lima beans and home-process butter beans, and that's what I did this morning. I now have fifteen pints of butter beans cooling on the island. That's a lot of butter beans!

I didn't plan on ending up with fifteen pints. I aimed for nine, which is how many pints my Presto 23-quart canner holds on the bottom layer, but it is what it is. They won't go to waste. There are any number of soups I can add them to, plus any number of casseroles. It'll be fun finding new-to-us recipes and changing up dinnertime. And, of course, I can double the next batch of ham pot pie and freeze-dry a few meals. 

Canning butter beans is just one example of how a lot of people are working around how limited some items we used to consider staples have become. Not to mention how much money I saved.

At my local Walmart, today, if you could actually purchase a can of butter beans, the Hanover beans would cost you $1.38 a can, and the Goya would cost $1.74 a can.  I canned them for 31cents a jar. You can argue I had to buy the jars - totally endless reusable jars - and lids, but for jars I've had and used for years, it won't add much. Metal lids cost about 25cents a lid if they're purchased at the correct price point. So you can argue the added cost but it won't add up to $1.38 a jar. 

May I also point out I KNOW there is nothing added to my jars that I don't know about except beans? It is important to know what is in the products you consume. 

I'm not sure what the next canning project will be, but I'm actively looking. Canning is fun!

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)


Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, home canning, butter beans, simple country pleasures, rural lifestyle, pantry prepping, a writer's life, ham pot pie, do it yourself, canning jars, canning lids


June 13, 2022

Keeping a diary


Several years ago I set up a Google calendar to record what I'd accomplished during the day. It was a private calendar, just for me. I didn't share it with anyone. It worked well for many years, but last fall, when I knew for certain 2022 would be the year I finally retired, I wanted something more personal. Something I could write in. For the first time in many years, I purchased a desk calendar. 

Probably fifteen years ago a friend sent me a very nice Daytimer as a Christmas present. I loved it and used it for several years before Google calendars came about. It was customizable and comfortable back then, but not so now. I changed. It did not. Not wanting to part with it since it was a gift, I slipped it back into the bottom drawer of my great-grandfather's desk and there it will remain, probably for a few more years. A spiral-bound book is a lot easier to keep than loose pages. 

I find that I record appointments on the Google calendar as well as in the diary. I like the reminder option that syncs with my phone. And it doesn't hurt to have them listed in more than one place. But there is something soothing about writing things down on paper. Perhaps it's the times I grew up in, or perhaps it's that the diary will be tangible evidence that I existed. That I prospered. 

I found bits and pieces of journals my mother began at the beginning of several different years but never followed through with. I wish she would have continued. To read her thoughts - ones she never shared with me - brought me to tears. There is so much she committed to the page that I never knew. 

Maybe someday one of my young cousins will find my 2022 diary and read through it. What will they think of their reclusive cousin who lived in the woods? I can only hope they find it entertaining. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)


Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, journals, diaries, simple country pleasures, a writer's life, old-fashioned love song, family, country living, rural lifestyle, retirement, calendars


June 12, 2022

Canning tip - storing empty jars


Now, why didn't I think of that? 

Somewhere on YouTube is a video about canning cherries. I've seen it. It does exist. 

Last night I went looking for the video, which I should have clicked the like button on so I could find it. My bad. What popped up in my search was a video about storing empty canning jars. It was only a couple of minutes long from Mousetoes so I figured I'd watch it. I'm so glad I did!

This is so genius and it solves three problems at once: where to store the rings (or bands if you call them that) when not in use, how to protect the rims of empty jars, and gathering up rings for a canning session. 

If you have empty jars on your shelf, put a ring on them and store it upside down. The ring protects the rim. Storing upside down keeps the dust out of the jar, and the ring is right there when you need the jar. 

Seriously! Why did I not think of that? 

I have rings by the bag full, and a bunch of empty jars. My jars are already stored upside down but guess what my project of the day is? 

I'm so glad I didn't discard all those unused rings. So glad!

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)


Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, canning tips, storing jars, simple country pleasures, a writer's life, rural living, gardening, food preservation, 


June 11, 2022

2015 Chrysler Town & Country

The search has FINALLY ended! 

Fact of life: the spousal unit is partially disabled. Like most disabilities, his is an odd mix of what he can and cannot do. He can't stand up straight and walk, but he can sit and drive a car. It makes getting into and out of vehicles problematic. To that end, we sold his beloved Chevrolet Silverado and purchased a Chrysler Town & Country van. 

If there is one type of vehicle I NEVER wanted to drive, it's a mini-van. I detest them. And yet, here we are. 

This van is easy for him to get into. All he has to do is get up and turn around and his butt is on the seat. It's that low to the ground. He couldn't get into his Silverado any longer because of how high off the ground the seat was. He couldn't even get a foot up on the running boards and step up. A van, with the capability to haul his power chair or scooter, is the best option. 

Finding this van wasn't easy, and it wasn't what he was shopping for. He was looking for a small cargo van with an open space with multi-use potential. The problem with that? Everything we looked at was beat to hell and back. Don't people believe in caring for their vehicles these days? Well, no. Autos have become as disposable as razors. Bust it up, trash it, and go get a new one. WE do not live like that. 

I was pretty much at the end of my tolerance with van shopping when the universe set this one in front of us. We'd gone to the car lot to look at a newer van (which was trashed and filthy) and the young man told us he had a slightly older van with less mileage on it. We looked at it and brought it home. 

We didn't want to go as far back as a 2015 model, but it has only 39,000 miles on it - a big plus. Another thing in its favor was that both rows of rear seats fold down flat into recessed compartments. There's plenty of room for his chair or scooter, and for Deuce. Yes, the dog matters.

I'm sorry to see him go back into debt on a vehicle, but he didn't have a choice. I do believe this is the vehicle he is supposed to have else we would not have come to it via the path we did. Now that I'm retired, we won't be driving every day. We don't need to. Our trips "to town" will be planned so that we can do all our shopping in one trip, for the most part. I'm sure there will be instances when we need materials for a project or want to go out to dinner, or I need to zip to the grocery because we need [fill in the blank]. Those days will happen. 

And yes, we may actually be able to do some overnight trips with this van. With the seats down, all three of us could sleep back there if we can locate good campgrounds. It's a thought, going forward. 

I'm relieved the search is over. If I had the energy, and the vindictiveness, I'd name a few auto dealerships to avoid. They are NOT friendly to the disabled. Oh, hell. Be honest. I'm going to Facebook and Yelp about them, but here's my warning. Don't trust the pretty pictures on their websites. Those vehicles WILL be "sold" when you get there if they were ever there at all. The fancier the website, the bigger the chance of a lie. 

We found this van at a little place called Stakes Auto in Fayetteville, PA. We were treated like people by a very nice young man named Jordan. Once we made the deal, the paperwork was completed and we were on our way in no more than thirty minutes. It was stress-free! Will we go back there? Yes, we will. 

The next search will be for a ramp to load his chair. I guess that means researching on Amazon and that is always costly. I need a new purse, too. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)


Update June 16, 2022 - Jordan had to redo a piece of the paperwork due to a June 1 change he was unaware of it. He came to our house for the spousal unit to sign instead of running us back to Fayetteville. Service like that is unheard of these days! We'll definitely seek out this young man in the future. 


Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, 2015 Chrysler Town & Country, simple country pleasures, buying a car, Stark Auto, honest dealings, disabled individuals, shady auto websites, power chairs, best choices, a writer's life


June 7, 2022

A little luck never hurts

Several days ago, May 29th to be exact, I took a tumble in the middle of a creek. I'm lucky I didn't break a hip and lie in cold water for hours until someone came looking for me. It was just one of those careless things that happen when you have a big dog. Deuce tells the story over on his blog, Deuce's Day. Anyway, I sustained a really deep bruise on my left hip and it's taken this long for it to start to feel better. 

A little luck never hurts. I was able to get up and limp home. It could have gone in a very different direction and I'm grateful it did not. It would not have been a fun way to start my retirement years. And if my retirement is off to a limping start, that's really okay. At least I'm on my feet. That's a good thing.

About five days ago, I pushed it and walked with my cousins. Big mistake. It may have set my recovery back a bit because I started to hurt all over again. Today, it's much better so I tried it again and it was just Deuce and me on our walk. We went back the old homestead lane, a walk that is always a balm to my soul. I spent summers back at that homestead as a young girl, and every twist and turn in the road brings back a memory. The woods are so green and the sunlight is dappled and glorious in the early morning. No one else was on the trails and it was so very peaceful. 

We made it home in good time and I set about filing the pictures I took. I decided to make a Photoshop collage of some of them. It was a good occupation for an afternoon that turned to rain.

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)





Deuce's Day, Greenbrier Smokey Deuce, Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, walking in the woods, a writer's life, simple country pleasures, retirement, good luck, broken hip, bad falls


June 1, 2022

Scary things - a blank June calendar


The spousal unit and I share a Google calendar entitled, "What's For Dinner." Supposedly, it's to be used by both of us but he never seems to add anything. I use it to loosely plan meals so I can grocery shop more efficiently. Now that I'm retired, it's even more important to 1) have a plan and 2) stick to the plan. I'm far from destitute, but wasting money and food isn't something anyone should embrace. 

So here we are at June 1, 2022, and there is nothing on the WFD calendar. No hints. No suggestions. No clues as to what the man will eat or wants to eat. 

Damn it.

I'm going to take this as a carte blanche to start to eat the way I want to eat for the next month. 

Oh, yeah. It's going to get scary - for HIM. 

For me  - it's a chance to dive deep into the pantry and rotate some stock. I'm going to start with the oldest items in the freezer and go from there. This may actually be fun! What better way to kick off my retirement than spending time assessing the items in my pantry? 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)


Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, meal planning, simple country pleasures, What's For Dinner, calendars, organization, pantry prep, rural lifestyle, marriage, retirement, panty planning, organization

May 31, 2022

Wildflowers and Iris

Two years ago I built a dry-stack knee wall. I had a little help from the John Deere 1023, but I lifted and stacked the stones. That little wall was something I wanted for a very long time, and I'm just pleased as punch with it! There's a backstory to the building of this tiny wall in that it took decades to be accomplished, and it turned out to be quite the life lesson. 

My original plan, way back in the 1980s, was for that to be a spot where a pickup could be backed up and the tailgate lowered to drive a mower into the bed. Time marched on without the wall and priorities changed. Instead of being a handy built-in ramp, it is a spot for a wildflower garden.

Isn't it strange how things turn out? 

Last spring, I scattered a pack of wildflower seeds and by the end of the summer, there was a pretty little garden blooming. I like the look of cottage gardens but have always found them difficult to maintain. The knee wall garden is small enough to easily pull weeds, although at this point in the season I don't yet know what are weeds and what are young wildflowers. It's a dilemma. 

The spousal unit, who could not be bothered in twenty-six years to build the wall for me, requested I plant a clump of Siberian iris for him. I should not have honored his request, all things considered, but I did. I also added a start of a very old-fashioned yellow/brown iris the start of which came from my great-grandmother's garden. 

Sometimes in life, original plans don't work out but what we end up with is ten times better. So it is with my little wildflower garden. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)


Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, cottage gardens, knee wall, John Deere 1023, doing it yourself, simple country pleasures, a writer's life, rural living, wildflowers, disappointments, original plans, life lessons


May 25, 2022

81.4 Million

This has been a horrific week. There have been three "mass" shootings this past week. My heart goes out to the victims and their families. They were going about their lives and a single person acting alone choose to dictate their futures. 

One.

Single.

Person.

March 4, 1975, I was a seventeen-year-old girl going about my business. I was a senior in high school, I had a part-time job, and was paying for my first car, a 1969 Camaro, myself. I was eagerly awaiting the release of Elton John's album, Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. I left school that afternoon to go to a local department store to see if the album was out by some stroke of luck. 

As I pulled into a parking space, a man yanked open my car door and put a revolver to my head. He jumped into my car and drove out to a deserted road where he dumped me out and took off in my Camaro. He was subsequently arrested and imprisoned. 

Now you'd think I would hate guns. No. I do not. I have a great deal of animosity toward that man, however. 

The gun did not create the situation. The gun did not throw me out of my car on a deserted road. The gun did not steal my car and use it in the commission of several robberies. It was done by a person. 

If you think I was not traumatized by that event, think again. I live with it every time I park my car in a public parking lot.  

I am a legal gun owner. 

There are, according to a 2021 report, 84.1 million Americans who own firearms. As one of them, I am executing my Second Amendment right, which shall not be infringed, to keep and bear arms. 

84.1 million gun owners and only a few decide to -what? Make a political statement? We'd better dial back the emotions displayed on the television and on social media. We've upset some folks and driven them over the edge. Mental health is the real issue here. Normal, law-abiding and life and liberty respecting people do not aim their weapons at another person or themselves for any reason. 

84.1 million gun owners and only a few decide to - what? Grab their fifteen minutes of fame? Well, the rest of us have certainly given them that and encouraged the next deranged person to follow suit. Just go to YouTube and see how many clicks they've gotten. 

84.1 million gun owners and only a few decide to - what? Use the death of innocents to deny me and 84.1 million people their right to keep and bear arms because THEY don't like guns? 

Why would you or anyone else want to deny ME my second amendment rights? Who the hell are you to attempt to govern MY life? 

You are just like the man that put the gun to my head. You want to control me and take from me and you have no right to do so. 

And there are 84.1 million other people just like me. Why is it important to control ME? Why is it important to strip ME of MY rights? 

The gun does not pull its own trigger. 

The gun does not pull its own trigger. You do understand that, don't you? 

No, I don't think you do. As a victim of a violent crime involving a handgun, I certainly do. It was a person who kidnapped me and left me to die along the road. The gun had nothing to do with it. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)



May 24, 2022

Beans in molasses sauce

 

A recipe for navy beans in a molasses sauce was recently brought to my attention. It's from the National Center for Home Food Preservation's website. They also include a recipe for the beans in a tomato sauce. 

https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_04/beans_tomato_molasses.html

I watched a YouTube video of them being canned and thought it would make a good switch-off for always having baked beans when we put burgers on the Blackstone and eat on the patio. I downloaded the simple recipe and yesterday, I got to work. 

I followed the recipe, which should have netted me nine pints. I ended up with fourteen pints. Yeah. That's a lot. The recipe for the molasses sauce is written in a way that you'd believe the recipe would fill nine pints. I found this to not be the case. I had to make three batches of the sauce and was very glad I'd reserved all the liquid from cooking the beans. 

The canning process itself was standard. Fill clean jars with prepared beans, add the liquid sauce to the proper headspace, wipe the jar rims, put on the lids, and then process in a pressure canner. Thirteen of the jars sealed, and one with a Golden Harvest lid did not. It's in the fridge for consumption sometime this coming week. My assumption on that jar is I may not have had exactly the proper headspace and it siphoned. It does happen, even to those canning gurus on YouTube. 

The contents of properly sealed jars, according to Ball, should be good for at least eighteen months. It may take us that long to eat all the beans. That's okay with me. Having side dishes prepared is always a good thing. 

The recipe is at https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_04/beans_tomato_molasses.html . The National Center for Home Food Preservation is a good resource to bookmark if you like to have additive-free home-preserved food. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)


**Update: The spousal unit says the recipe needs a bit of brown sugar. He may be right. I'll add a quarter cup to the sauce recipe if I make them again.**


Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, National Center for Home Food Preservation, country living, simple country pleasures, home canning, a writer's life, additive-free foods, molasses, beans, gardening


May 22, 2022

When the clock ran out

Do you know what is meant by the expression, "the clock ran out"? It's an old expression that predates football. Letting the clock run out means something is effectively over. 

I've been watching the countdown clock on my phone for many years, and today, the numbers went to zero. Time has run out on my working days. The reception for my retirement was earlier today and it was quite the sendoff. I was deeply touched by the end of it. 

Perhaps it was the generous parting gift that will be attached to my last paycheck, but I think I was equally touched by all the kind words. We often don't know our own worth or how much others value us. It would have been nice to hear some of the words earlier, before leaving. 

It is of no matter. The clock ran out, and a new day has dawned. I'm ready to embrace it. 

The Lady of the Manor (The Hideaway)


Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, retirement, time, parting gifts, a writer's life, new day dawned, a writer's life, sendoffs, countdown clock, 

May 20, 2022

The Dawn of New Days

My permanent office complete
with "staff" members

Today was to be my last day in the office at the day job. It turns out that yesterday was the day. I managed to walk out with no fanfare at all, which is what I wanted. A big scene would not have pleased me. That's not who I am. 

I'm finally retired. It seems like this has been a long time coming. Yesterday, I wrote a bit about this over at my writer's blog, Between the Keys.  This morning, it seems rather anti-climatic. Go figure that one out because I don't think I can. 

Home has always been where I'm happiest. I enjoy my country manor, all tucked away from the eyes of passerbys. Of course, Google Earth knows where I am, but it doesn't often take my picture. We're very private except to the eyes of the next-door neighbors who are all family.

I thought I'd have a sense of elation this morning, but that's not the case. It's Friday, and it's a day like any other day. It's rainy, so Deuce and I didn't go far. He doesn't like rain. He'll roll in the creek but if it's raining? He turns into a couch puppy. 

What to do on this first day? Items on my spreadsheet await, but I think that today I'll be better served with reflective pursuits, like this blog and planning the June menu. I still have a "reception" to get through so maybe being retired will feel differently after that. Maybe it will feel more final. 

And maybe it doesn't feel final because my employer offered me a consultant deal for the next year. I have a contract to be a resource for my protégé until she's completed the yearly cycle. I don't expect to hear from her very often. She's a smart cookie and will figure things out by looking at what I've done in past years. 

Yes, this new dawn definitely calls for reflection - of where I've been, where I'm at, and where I want to go. The first two are easy, but the last calls for thought. Do I today want to go to the same places I imagined I did a year ago? Do some things no longer matter? Are there new ideas to examine? Yes, there are. 

I'll take the time today, because when tomorrow comes, I want to begin my new era with an open heart. The past, the present, and the future deserve no less.

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)


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May 16, 2022

The first rose of 2022


Life has taken on a surreal feel. With only four more working days left at the day job, I can't decide if I'm excited or dreading the loss of so much structure in my life. As someone who has been gainfully employed for fifty years, I may have been brainwashed, or at the very least brain-trained, to believe regimented days are a good thing.

Nope. That's not it. I simply want the next four days over and done with so I can finally, finally, finally move on and get on with "retirement." I have a set of lists, you see.

There's a list, actually a spreadsheet, for outside work, inside work, tractor work, gardening work, pantry work, equipment maintenance, and items to improve the humans in the house. I do so love a good spreadsheet when the cells get filled in with the color of completion! 

But there's one thing I can't put on a spreadsheet: remembering to take the time to slow down and enjoy the fruits of all my labor. 

Yesterday, late afternoon, the sky darkened and a front swept through bringing rain showers. The spousal unit and I had gone in different directions puttering at small tasks, and the rain sent us inside to the television. I glanced out the front window and noticed the season's first rose was blooming. How wonderful! 

The sunshine reappeared while the rain continued to fall. I love when that happens! Spring's green world glows! I snatched my phone and stepped outside to record a short video to share with whoever is interested but to mostly have to look at any time I remind myself it's time to stop and enjoy the roses. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway) 





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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVS9UTXQWzo

May 9, 2022

We upgraded the greenhouse


There's never a shortage of things we want to do here at the Manor, and it seems there's always a roadblock or two on the way to getting it done. I want to grow more veggies, and you'd think it would be a simple matter of tilling up a spot for a garden. Nope. Deer. We have a DEER PROBLEM. 

To go off on a tangent, this past hunting season was a bust. As in there were not many hunters in the woods. Why? Well, they couldn't get any ammo! Now all you left-leaning folks probably think that's a good thing. In real life, next winter, the deer will starve to death because there will be too many of them. Good going. 

But I digress...

With our local deer herd population, that is to say the little herd that lives in my woods and beds down in the thickets we leave for them, expanded to fifteen, there's no way in hell my veggies are safe. The small greenhouse I got two years ago is just that - small. So I upgraded to a 12x7x7 greenhouse, and amidst screaming wailing and gnashing of teeth from the spousal unit, it went up yesterday. I think it will work out fine. 

I should be able to extend the season for a few tomatoes and plant a few fall Brassicas. Next year, I'll be able to move my seedlings outside a lot faster, and that's always a plus. I may even be able to coax some herbs to live over the winter inside the greenhouse. 

This greenhouse is probably a stepping stone to a more traditional constructed greenhouse, one that won't need to sit on the leeward side of the house to be protected from the wind. I'll just have to see how I do with this one to more accurately gauge whether or not it's worth the investment in a more permanent structure. 

Like a lot of things in life, it's an experiment. It may work out, or it may not. This is just one more step in my life's journey to somewhere. It requires patience to allow everything to happen at a pace I'm not sure I control. No matter how it all shakes out, I know I'll enjoy spending time in the greenhouse on chilly winter days. Maybe it'll be a warm spot to read a book on a cold day. Wouldn't that be fun?!

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)


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May 7, 2022

Expect the unexpected (tree fall)


I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. I would not thrive as a city dweller. It's May 7, 2022, and everywhere I look I see shades of vibrant green! So much green! It makes the heart hurt it's so green.

Springtime in the country means rain, and rain means all sorts of things. Rain puts water into the ground, cleans the air, fills cisterns for farmers, and rain barrels for the gardeners. But too much rain can be deadly. While we're not in a flood plain, we do have a few issues that stem from too much rain. Two-thirds of the mountain is above us, so we have to deal with drainage long after the rain stops. Too much rain softens the ground to the point where some trees topple over, root ball and all. That's what happened last night. 

Around 2:30 AM, Deuce hopped off the bed, barking and growling. Being his doggie Mom, I got up to see if I could figure out why. The obvious culprits, in the middle of the night, are deer in the yard. I don't know how he knows, but he always knows. I switched on the outside lights but didn't see or hear anything above the sound of the rain and wind. Back to bed we went. 

This morning, I settled at the computer and looked out the north window and saw a tree had come down. The root of the tree is on the other side of the stone fence but it fell our way. I could go to the neighbor and ask them to remove the tree, but we want the firewood. And truthfully, out here, our neighbors would expect us to harvest the tree for firewood. If a tree fell the other way, we'd let it go to the neighbor for their woodstove. True country folk are like that. 

It's an easier job than it might appear. After the ground has a chance to dry up some, I'll take a battery-powered chainsaw over the stone fence and make a cut as close to the root ball as is feasible. It should release the trunk and top of the tree and allow it to upend toward our property. 

Expecting the unexpected is part of country living. The unexpected is not always a bad thing. Frequently it's a good thing, like receiving unexpected free firewood. It's even a good thing we'll have to do the work to harvest the wood. It will make us appreciate the gift of heat on a cold winter day even more. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)



May 5, 2022

A "what is it" wildflower


Last year I sowed a pack of wildflower seeds above the little knee wall I built. It produced some pretty flowers and I loved the cottage garden feel of it. I knew then I'd sow seeds there again this year regardless of what may have self-seeded. 

This little orange bloomer lived over our winter. I had no clue what it is and so I turned to Google for a bit of help. Google found an image of a Siberian Wildflower that's a match. Okay... something from Siberia wouldn't find our winters daunting. 

I'm not sure the name of the flower matters all that much. It's a pretty little thing and I'm happy to have four of them blooming, even if one is out in front of the wall and will be in danger of being decimated by the weed-whacker. 

This year's seeds have been sown and now I'm keeping an eye on the soil for signs of sprouting. Sometimes it really is the simple country pleasures that brighten our days. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)



April 30, 2022

Planting day 2022

2022 before

The day has finally dawned in which I'm planting all the little veggies outside. Yes, I'm reclaiming my sunroom office from the jungle it has become. All will be put to rights. I hope.

We already planted eight cabbage and eight tomatoes outside and yes, we did toss a tarp over them the last couple of nights. The Weather Channel said we'd have frost, but we did not. We'll have to keep an eye on the forecast and use the tarps again if necessary, but that's okay. The plants are going outside! 

Yesterday, I filled all the grow bags except one. I ran out of my planting soil with one bag to go. I need to get another bag of Black Kow and mix up another cart full of the mix to have at the ready. (Which we did.)

I'm looking at the starts I have and I may purchase more grow bags. As with last season, I did not expect to have such good germination and survival rates. After I get the basic plan planted and arranged in my garden corral, I'll make that decision. 

One thing I won't short space on this year is tomatoes. I have a cherry, a slicing, and a Roma variety this year. I hope to make a modest amount of tomato sauce from the Romas, and to freeze dry some of the Veranda cherry tomatoes. The other veggie I need to reserve bags for is cucumbers. Those seeds are going in the dirt today. I got one pack of mixed bell pepper seeds, and they are doing great - but I don't really need peppers. They'll be the last thing planted, and I may double up in the bags. Whatever pepper harvest we get can be freeze-dried, too.

Eight hours later...

What a beautiful day to spend outside! I don't have everything planted. I did end up running out of my planting soil mix again, and we do need to go get even more Black Kow, perlite, and peat moss to mix up a bit more. 

We got more than planting done, though. There are always dozens of small chores to do when you live in the country. As I'll be fully retired in a month, we spent some time formulating a plan to gut the shed and reorganize everything in there! That's going to be a lot of work, and probably more than one trip to the landfill. Having all the junk gone and the items we actually use better organized will reap dividends for both of us, though. It'll be worth the aggravation of doing it. 

To top the day off, the spousal unit called for a pizza for dinner. All we had to do was drive to the local pizza joint and pick it up. No, we can't have it delivered because 1) we live one-half mile too far out of the town, and 2) Deuce loves to go for rides in the car and we spoil the dog without any guilt. 

I do love a man who knows when it's not a good idea to ask, "what's for dinner?'

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)



April 26, 2022

The Second Amendment


A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

There is a lot of bru-ha-ha going on about the Second Amendment. Maybe the politicians of the United States no longer understand the language. 

"Shall not be infringed."
SHALL: expressing a strong assertion or intention
NOT: used with an auxiliary verb or “be” to form the negative
BE: used with a present participle to form continuous tenses
INFRINGED: actively break the terms of (a law, agreement, etc.)

What, exactly, shall not be infringed? The right of the people to keep and bear Arms. 

Why, exactly, shall this right not be infringed? It is necessary to the security of a free State.

Who, exactly, is responsible for the free State? The militia. 

Who, exactly, is a part the Militia? Every citizen of the United States who reaps the rewards of said free State.

Now wasn't that easy?

The Lady of the Manor (The Hideaway)


April 25, 2022

Let's try those 'taters again


Last year I got my hands on a few Kennebec potatoes and planted them in grow bags. I had a meager result, but I saved the spuds to use as seed potatoes this year. Well...... Those suckers sprouted like you would not believe! This year I have six potato bags planted and we'll see how they do. 

My grandparents always planted Kennebec potatoes. It's not a variety one hears about very often, but my grandparents were able to supply spuds to my parents and my maternal uncle. I'm not sure why they scaled back the potato patch, but the time came when they did. Maybe when the recipients of free potatoes weren't able to help dig because of job constraints had something to do with it. I just don't remember and it hardly matters now. 

So we'll see how it goes this year. Gardening is nothing if not one big experiment. You just never know what you'll have at the end of summer, and that is what makes it so much fun!

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)

April 24, 2022

The Grand Solar Minimum


I'm increasingly interested in the discussion about the Grand Solar Minimum. Wikipedia, granted not always the most complete source of information but still very informative, describes it as: 

Solar minimum is the regular period of least solar activity in the Sun's 11-year solar cycle. During solar minimum, sunspot and solar flare activity diminishes, and often does not occur for days at a time. On average, the solar cycle takes about 11 years to go from one solar minimum to the next, with duration observed varying from 9 to 14 years. The date of the minimum is described by a smoothed average over 12 months of sunspot activity, so identifying the date of the solar minimum usually can only happen 6 months after the minimum takes place. Solar minimum is contrasted with the solar maximum, when hundreds of sunspots may occur.

The NASA Science page, located at https://science.nasa.gov/science-news/news-articles/solar-minimum-is-coming, has more information. Science has been observing the sun since before "science" was a word and one of the resulting bits of information is that Sol is very, very active. 

But every eleven years or so, the sun becomes less active and we have a solar minimum. And there is nothing we can do about it. Nothing. 

The sun's magnetic field weakens and provides less shielding from cosmic rays. Sunspots and solar flares, which we know can cause heatwaves and magnetic disturbances, decrease. Coronal holes can form on the sun. Our temperatures get cooler. 

What occurred to the spousal unit and me is the fact The Weather Channel doesn't seem to be reporting on this. All THEY talk about are electric cars. 

Here's the thing - If we're going to depend on the sun for more and more energy, should we not understand the cycles of the sun? Or doesn't the cycles of the sun fit the narrative?

Just saying...

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)





April 23, 2022

Finally! Warm weather means outside work

 

outside motion=activated lights

I've been waiting months for a Saturday with decent weather. The mercury hit a healthy 75F today, and we were outside handling some odds and ends. 

You do know what mercury has to do with thermometers, right? Look it up, babycakes. 

The spousal unit was, to my surprise, happy to hop on the old Husqvarna and mow the grass while I cleaned out the greenhouse, installed a few new motion-activated solar lights, and worked on gardening "stuff." He then swapped out the bucket on the tractor for the Brush Crusher and gathered up a few downed branches. Then he put the bucket back on and added a scoop of garden soil to my cart so I can amend it for growbags, and spread two or three buckets of gravel where we drive the John Deere in and out of its barn. We were busy all day.

And you know what? It felt really good to get a few things accomplished. I'm really glad we decided to get a few more of the outside lights. It's dark out there when Deuce makes his last trip out before bed. Black night, black dog - he literally disappears! Now we have these fixtures all over the place and I can keep an eye on him. Another plus is we won't forget to turn off the outside lights and have them burning electricity all night. Yes, I have done that - but no more!

I put up the curtain screen door today, too. I didn't want to put it up this early in the year, but those big drilling bumblebees arrived today. They don't sting but we don't like them buzzing about when we're relaxing on the patio. 

I also hit the step goal for the day without going for a walk. I got all my steps in just working in the yard. Tomorrow may be different. I think Deuce needs a good long walk to burn off some doggie energy. 

We're not sure what we'll accomplish tomorrow in the way of yard work, but it won't be on the same level as today. We have plenty to do, but we need to pace ourselves.  We're both feeling "old" tonight. Go figure!

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)









April 17, 2022

Shifting times of sunrise and sunset

 

He is Risen!

Yes, it's Easter 2022 and I'm up to watch the sunrise. It's always pertinent to remember the empty tomb but always more so on this day. Easter Sunday - the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox. People like to scoff and remind Christians just how pagan the timing is, but we don't mind. Scoff away if it makes you feel better. Scoff until your little heart is content. The day of Christ's rising will be remembered and remarked every year with or without you, and the exact date hardly matters. The changing date is part of the Easter tradition and a subtle reminder that we don't control God's timing. 

But I digress yet again. I didn't sit down to create a blog post about Christianity. 

Last evening, as I prepared to shut down the computer for the night, it occurred to me that it wasn't yet full dark at 8:30 PM. The spousal unit and I have discussed this a few times and had I not just clicked the shutdown icon, I might have investigated. As it happens, I'm up early and not ready to tackle the Wordle of the day, so I looked up the sunrise and sunset chart for the current year and for nineteen-fifty-seven.

Hmm. Interesting.

On April 17, 1957, sunrise was at 5:41 AM, and sunset was at 6:57 PM. In 2022, sunrise is at 6:41 AM and sunset at 7:57 PM. 

So now I am freaking out! Why is that happening??? What is happening to the Earth's rotation?  

As it turns out, Daylight Savings Time in 1957 didn't start until April 28. What does this mean? It means the spousal unit and I are NOT losing our minds! This is important stuff to a pair on the cusp of senior citizenship! 

It never occurred to us that we were both right and wrong. For us, when we were younger, 8:00 PM in April meant it was full dark. Now it means we don't need a flashlight to take the dog out to pee-pee. 

Our overblown and idiotic government caused this one. Just imagine that! They could leave Daylight Savings Time alone. Or better yet, end it or make it standard. Jeez...

This means we're really not losing it and the Earth is not about to fall off its axis and drift away from the sun, which would not be good for any of us, including the dog. I can't wait for the spousal unit to get out of bed this morning so I can regale him with the width and breadth of all this knowledge I gained this morning while searching for information on the Internet! He'll be so impressed - NOT. 

The fact of the matter is none of this really matters. Even if the Earth would break orbit and float away, it would still be Easter and the Easter promise that our souls are safe would still apply. If I did have more daylight hours to use in 2022 than I had growing up, it would still be more daylight hours to appreciate the creation around me. 

The time the sun rose on that morning so long ago doesn't matter, only what the sunrise revealed. The stone rolled back and the tomb was empty. The WOMEN were sent forth to tell of what happened. 

Can you imagine their wonderment as they told a pack of skeptical men, "He is risen!"? 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)




April 14, 2022

Easter weekend 2022


As the daylight hours continue to lengthen, my days of gainful employment shorten. It's Easter weekend. Today is Maundy Thursday, and I won't check in with my protégé until Tuesday. I'm not worried about her, though. She's definitely up to the task. I kid you not, this young woman is me if I were twenty-five again and knew what I know now. I'm very impressed with her. 

The fallout from the Covid pandemic shut down in 2020 and 2021 continues. I wanted to purchase a ham for Easter dinner but quickly abandoned the plan. I don't need a ham badly enough to pay $52 for a five-pound ham. I'll be at the grocery on Monday to see if they go on sale. They should because I didn't see anyone lingering at the ham case to choose one to take home. Heck, if the sale price is good, I'll get two for in the freezer. We're going to have a $7 ham steak and be happy about it! 

And speaking of freezers, I'm re-thinking getting a small one for beef. I think I should get one of equal size to what I have now. I can put meat in one and everything else in the other. That may work better. 

What has me leaning in that direction? Right now I have a lot of items in the freezer but I need to get some meals pre-made and frozen, and space is really tight. I need to up my freeze-drying game and get some of the frozen veggies into Mylar. Sometimes it's good to practice what I preach about preparedness. Being prepared to get a quick meal on the table is part of that for me. I like to cook once and eat four or five times! Just because I'm going to be "retired" doesn't mean I plan to cook every day for the remainder of my life. 

But cooking is my plan for this weekend. I'm going to put the Crockpot to work with some of our favorite dishes, bake a few of our favorite breakfasts, and get the freeze-dryer working to clear some space. Being a multi-tasker, it can all happen at the same time! And unless I have something in the oven, I can work on getting the buckets and growbags ready for the garden, too. 

I don't mind being busy "feathering my nest." It's what makes me truly happy. Only 20 workdays to go!

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)



April 10, 2022

Trust the almanac? Maybe not every year.

My grandfather planted by the signs, which is to say he read the yearly Old Farmer's Almanac and followed its planting guidelines. I get a digital copy every year, and it does contain some good "country" knowledge about when to plant what. With the digital copy comes access to a variety of documents which includes a planting calendar for my zip code. 

I planted my seeds according to the calendar, but I'm starting to think it wasn't a good idea for 2022. The Roma tomatoes look really good, but everything is a bit "peekid." That is to say, it's not looking good. I purchased good seed from Burpees so the sprouts should look a lot better. 

One of the starts, the Bodacious** tomatoes, look really ragged, so much so that during my last trip to town I purchased a different variety, Rutgers, and just this morning planted those seeds. I think that next year, I'll give the seeds an extra week or two before planting them. They'll catch up growing quick enough once it's time to get them outside. 

The weather surely plays a big part in the health of sprouts and seedlings. We're having a protracted cold, wet, and windy spring. Sunshine has been at a premium. Next year, I'll pay attention to what sort of cycle we're in. 

I did add a new shelving unit to my seed sprouting repertoire this year. I don't mind the sprouting trays taking over the floor space in my sunroom office, but it pissed off Loki the Cat. He knows when I'm at my desk and will come to the sunroom door for me to let him in and out. The trays in his way making it so he had to make a leap over them did not make him happy. Pandering to the feline? You betcha! He gets mouthy when things don't please him. 

The unit is a good addition, though. It's of mid-grade quality and will disassemble easily to store until next year. Add in that it has wheels and I can turn it every day for the plants and it's win-win-win.  

Come 2023, I may purchase a larger greenhouse and perhaps move the seed sprouting operation to it. It's something I'm pondering this year. It would mean planting seeds later in the season and keeping a very close eye on the temperatures inside the greenhouse. We'll have to think about that for a while. I'm not in a rush to spend the money and then discover it doesn't work for me. 

This summer, my first being fully retired, will be a learning experience on so many fronts. I hope I'm up to the task. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)


**4/25/22 update - all the Bodacious tomatoes were a loss**






April 4, 2022

Brush Crusher 4200 tree take-down

One thing we are not short of here on the manor is trees. And when you have trees, you have trees that die and topple over. We had one such dead tree standing along the lane, and the plan was to cut it down this spring. One of the last windstorms beat us to the punch. The tree uprooted and headed for the ground only to snag in another nearby tree. We've been waiting for it to warm up enough for us to go outside and start our spring clean-up and today was the day that tree came down.

Here's the video, which is posted on YouTube.

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)




April 2, 2022

Sooo, Saturday

Oh, happy Saturday! I've always enjoyed Saturdays, and soon every day will be a Saturday for me! I have only twenty-seven working days until "retirement." 

It was a good day. Spring made an appearance bringing bright sunshine and a high of about 60F. I made chicken salad using my home-canned chicken breast, transplanted tomato seedlings for one of the cousins, readied a few flower pots for soil, and made a fast mowing circuit of the front yard. 

We had this little weed send up delicate white flowers and I said NO YOU WILL NOT GO TO SEED!  So I chopped them off. But I digress...

We also played auto mechanics, a game we haven't played in quite some time. This made neither of us happy, but paying $500 for a shop to replace a simple fluid hose made no sense at all. To be fair, the shop didn't know our plans to trade in the Silverado as soon as Himself located a van. We wanted quick and easy since it was only one of four auxiliary lines leaking, not a job to last us forever replacing all four lines. Anyone buying a 2011 model year knows rust will happen, and one look under the hood will tell anyone that line is brand new. If you don't know how to lift the hood and check out an engine, stick to your sissy little foreign cars, okay? Pay a garage a ransom for repairs, and remember we did a $500 job ourselves for only $35.00 and an hour of our time.  

It's spring and I don't have the screen door panels installed on the patio. But it's time. A bird flew in and got between the screen and the back of the cabinets. It took half an hour to get the poor thing up, out, and off the patio. I pulled out the garlands and picks I have for decoration and used them to block off the gap. It's an attractive solution. We enjoy our patio and having some pretty things are pleasing. 

Yes, it was a lovely day. Here on the manor, it's easy to forget the turmoil in the world today and simply enjoy working with our hands. Today, we were rich. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)


 

March 26, 2022

March 2022 Daffodil check

 I love daffodils. Plant them and you're finished! They return every spring bringing bright bursts of yellow all around the yard. 

I did a walk around the yard to look at them and make a short video of what's blooming. 




March 20, 2022

A Sobering Conversation


Until recently, the spousal unit and I kept well clear of political discussions. We agree in our views, so a lot of conversation hasn't been necessary. With the 2020 election, all that changed. 

We are angry. Something is very foul, very wrong, in the United States when hatred of one man can poison a nation. And the poison is still spreading. I've yet to figure out what he did that was so onerous other than send idiotic tweets. 

We are concerned about the recent events in Ukraine, and today our discussion turned seriously morbid. 

If the United States is invaded, we can not fuel our armed forces. We can't feed them. We can't get medical supplies to them. Our oil pipelines are shut down and truckers who effectively go on strike are made into heroes. 

We not-so-jokingly said if the country is invaded, we'll give the dog as gentle a death as possible and then we'll both take an overdose of sleeping pills, go to bed and hold hands, and that will be that. 

Our three thousand rounds of .22 ammo can't hold off an invading army. We have nothing of real value to invaders so our chances of survival are pretty slim.  All I've ever wanted was to get to the stage of my life when I can spend my days on the manor enjoying a long retirement. It's about to be snatched away from me. 

Our country is at risk and the youth of this nation are not going to fight for their own future. Why should we fight for them? 

Yes, it was a theoretical conversation, but sobering nonetheless. 

What is not theoretical is this: Climate change is a ruse to push us toward a Socialist government, a government that will tell us what to eat, what to wear, where to work, what cars to drive, and what types of homes we can live in. Surely I am not the only one who sees that. 

It frightens me that my husband, a man who fought cancer twice just to stay alive can so calmly talk about the particulars of how to end his life. 

It's time to THINK! To very carefully THINK about what our rulers are telling us.  One wrong move is all it will take, and there is an idiot at the helm. 

All our days are numbered, and the number is paralyzingly small. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)