December 31, 2023

New Year's Eve Reflections

The closing of a year is a time of reflection for a lot of people. A lot of writers, myself included, take time away from writing stories to write a retrospection of the year. I'm working on mine which will post at Between the Keys on January 2, 2024. I'll come back and drop in the link when it goes live.  That 2023 Retrospection is about what I achieved (or didn't) in my writing life. What about my personal life? 

Things did not remain status quo in 2023. The Lord of the Manor began the year as the man I've known since the early 1980s, and he's ending the year visibly aging and in declining health. He'd been on a slow slide for years, but 2023 has been disastrous for him. 

My own health remains good. Yeah, I need reading glasses now but who doesn't? I'm aware that some foods I used to eat with impunity need to be off the menu. Hot and spicy hasn't quite dipped to mild and boring but it's definitely headed to medium heat. Caffeine is restricted to coffee in the morning. I've been careful about soft drinks because of both caffeine and aspartame, aspartame being the more evil of the two to my system. Water is now my beverage of choice. 2024 will be the year I embrace flip flops for around the house, too. I went barefoot too much this past summer and now I'm paying the price with dry soles. 

This past year was disastrous on the financial front, too. Stock market gains? You jest. The Dow broke 37,000 in December 2023, but it was well below that for most of the year. I'm among the group who depends...well, maybe that's not the correct word. My personal spending reflects what the markets are doing. Necessities only when it's down and a few trinkets when it's up. 

The Garden. I jumped the gun in 2023 and started cuttings waaaaay early. Live and learn. The same goes for some seeds. The 2024 garden will be more diversified with less emphasis on tomatoes. I will probably want to can tomatoes and I'll pay the price for a bushel from local growers. I want to have fun with (and within) my garden this year. I spent peaceful hours in my garden last summer. 

What's on tap for 2024. A lot more of the same day-to-day *stuff*. Replacement windows are an expensive project coming up and I'm sure there will be others. My Charger needs a few things like new brakes and the backup camera replaced. They're not major auto repairs, but I'm sure they will cost a bundle. Perhaps I'll get around to doing a much-needed power-washing of the house this year. 

With my husband's declining health, I find myself unable to create visions for the coming year. So much depends on what happens with him. I've been in training to be on my own for many years, and that may manifest itself in 2024. I'm living in a sort of limbo.

But I will keep right on living. I will be doing more to please myself and no one else. None of us should allow the physical and/or mental disabilities of those around us to dictate what, how, and when we do certain activities. That may sound cruel but if we are to continue, sometimes we need to come first. 

That's where I need to be in the coming year. Doing what needs to be done, doing what I want to do, and letting go of what I can't prevent. It may be more difficult than it seems. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor/The Hideaway

Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, New Year's, rural living, health, well-being, end-of-life issues, planning ahead, gardening, a writer's life, Between the Keys blog, country lifestyle, disabilities,

December 22, 2023

Four years today


Holly Tree Manor/The Hideaway is four years old today. It's been a good thing for me to record what I've been doing. Some day, this blog may be all that remains of me. Just words on an Internet server somewhere. Will anyone remember and care? Probably not.

But when I'm an old woman, I'll have these words to read and remember I was young once, and I lived a good life. Maybe that's why this blog exists, to entertain an older me. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor/The Hideaway

December 18, 2023

Turkey hunting

All I want for Christmas is a turkey dinner, and I may not get it. There isn't a decent turkey in this town. The local grocery had a huge one for $42 and change, but that's ridiculous. I'm not paying that much for a turkey. I have two steaks in the freezer and they are my fallback plan. Anyway, I'm going to cross the state line and go turkey hunting this morning. 

We had our first snow of the season a couple of days ago. It barely covered the ground and didn't last long, but I was glad to get to see it. Apparently, it was done for the early riser because it was gone by eight o'clock. 

This year, 2023, is winding down. It wasn't my best year ever, but it was close. I was happy with my garden, and I'm pleased with the amount of firewood my cousin and I have on hand. I did better with my writing in 2023, but I still have unanswered questions. That is to say, I have decisions to make. I blogged about it at Between the Keys. One of those decisions is whether or not to keep Between the Keys and Holly Tree Manor/The Hideaway separate or to go back to posting only at Between the Keys. When I was working, I viewed my writing life as separate, but now that I'm retired it's a case of my worlds integrating. 

Between now and the first few weeks of January is typically the time I rest and make plans. This year is no different. It's time to make choices and choose a road to travel. I know that if I choose the wrong one, I can always backtrack. That's one of the gifts of growing older. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor/The Hideaway

Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, life choices, country lifestyle, rural living, first snow, Between the Keys, a writer's life, gardening, retirement, romance fiction, turkey, Christmas

December 5, 2023

Who's that roaming around the woodyard?

It's always a good thing if you can laugh at yourself, or at least shake your head and mutter. 

The weather today left a lot to be desired. Gray skies, dreary. A definite winter bite in the breeze. It was a good day to pull a heavy sweatshirt out of the drawer and layer it with a turtleneck. 

Can you even buy a turtleneck these days? 

If you needed positive proof The Lady of the Manor exists, here it is. I have several trail cams now and it's difficult to walk around the yard and not trip one of them. 

Those windows you see in the background are the windows in my sunroom office. I was peacefully working at the computer when I heard a ruckus over my left shoulder. Of course, it was Loki. He'd chased a squirrel over the woodpile and somehow managed to catch it. I went out and convinced him to let the poor squirrel go. It scurried off, I'm happy to report. 

So there you have it. The fingers that pound on the keyboard are really attached to a person and not to some AI-generated fake. 

And the sweatshirt? Yep. It's an old one from the 1990s. It's got Terry LaBonte's #5 racecar on it. It's warm, too!

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor/The Hideaway

Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, Terry LaBonte, rural living, bad cats, country lifestyle, firewood, sunroom, squirrels, trail cams

December 3, 2023

This is not good

Oh, dear...

Having a couple of trail cams scattered about is a lot of fun. You never know what the footage may show. It could be the Lord of the Manor on the John Deere 1023 or the cousin wielding his chainsaw. It could be me and Deuce wandering about so the dog can have a good sniff. He likes that sort of thing. Then there are the things I want to observe: the wildlife. 

THIS was not a welcome sight. I don't like skunks. I really don't like skunks in my yard.  

Eradication could be very, very stinky. I think I need to hope for the best and this critter moves along on his own!

The Lady of The Hideaway

Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, skunks, rural living, wildlife, trail cams, country lifestyle, varmints, a writer's life, John Deere 1023, Labrador Retriever