Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences

Vibrations

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Words on Images

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Written by johnwhays

August 21, 2018 at 6:00 am

Old Wood

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Yesterday was mostly consumed with diesel tractor maintenance, complimented with a brief session of lawn mowing, but there was still time for a stroll through the woods when Julian and Allison stopped by to visit. We came upon an interesting fungal conk growing on the bark of one of our old trees.

This tree suffered significant damage in a tornado that passed over this property two years before we arrived. The top broke off, and I expect the gaping wound that resulted is where the fungus made its way in. Plenty of new growth has sprouted in the years since, but this tree is probably on borrowed time.

It has been here so long that it grew around an old barbed wire fence that was probably put up before the tree had sprouted from the ground.

That can’t be all that good for the tree, either.

In the morning yesterday, while following Delilah on her first walk of the day, I noticed a newly toppled-over dead tree much further into our woods, looking to the left from this tree with the barbed wire and conks.

It is the second one to fall in about a week. I’m wondering if, in the absence of any obvious wind events, maybe the dry spell we are in has contributed to the falling timber.

I’m overdue to be putting in hours as a lumberjack around here. Maybe the old wood is just trying to get my attention.

At least the diesel engine has fresh oil, a clean air filter, and the tractor has new grease in all the fittings. The wood chipper accessory is going to get called to duty relatively soon, I believe.

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Written by johnwhays

August 20, 2018 at 6:00 am

Demanding Attention

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All I can do is what I can do today. Mentally, tasks pile up beyond my ability to execute, often resulting in my getting even less accomplished than I otherwise could. Just like excessive heat will sap strength and endurance, the visualized burdens of work that should be done drains my energy and motivation.

This summer, there are signs of neglect at every turn that have me on the verge of choosing to simply ignore them in hope of recovering at least enough impetus to accomplish one deserving chore per day. The problem with that solution is that my gift of intentional ignorance is susceptible to getting out of hand. 

It would be far too easy for this place to take on the appearance of neglect run amok.

Might be time again to make a list and establish priorities. I’m more inclined to allow tasks to grab my interest as I’m treading from one thing to the next, but working a prioritized list does help keep me from completely ignoring things that shouldn’t be neglected.

I do have a default priority of seeking to at least maintain an ‘appearance’ of fastidiousness here, by maintaining the landscape by the road well enough to fool passersby. The recent coarse shredding of growth along the right-of-way has left a gaping mess that I hope to improve, but for now is nothing but an eyesore.

Yesterday, I dipped my toes into the project and was disheartened to discover how much work it will be to get it to the state I would like to see. That machine they use twists and shreds the branches into a tangled mess, and there are a lot more of them left lying there than I was aware.

In addition to pulling out and disposing of those, I need to cut off all the sharpened short spikes of growth left behind where the operator didn’t cut all the way to the ground. Some are small enough to be snipped with a lopper, but others deserve the chainsaw.

There is plenty of debris that could be run through our chipper, but I’m inclined to haul it the short distance to my project of a border wall of branches creating a hedge barrier to the cornfield just to our north.

The rest of that hedge wall needs to be trimmed, as well.

The diesel tractor needs an oil change before I put it to work on a big project.

The diesel tractor is needed to mow the dry creek drainage along our southern border.

Also need to move lime screenings to the paddock.

Want to blade the gravel drive around the barn.

The trail along the outside of our fence needs to be cut back with the power trimmer.

The fence line needs to be trimmed.

The trails need to be trimmed.

Dead trees recently fallen in the woods and on one trail need to be cut up.

Standing dead trees could be cut down, too. Would help look less neglected around here.

The arena needs to be mowed.

The round pen needs to be raked and grass around gazebo mowed.

The back up generator needs an oil change.

That’s what needs to be done today. I’ll start tomorrow’s list later. Right now I need to go out and see what grabs my attention to work on so I can avoid everything else that is on today’s list of chores demanding attention.

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Getting Along

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It has become a daily occurrence to randomly hear a startling eruption of Delilah suddenly darting after Pequenita and chasing her down the hall in a race to our bedroom. Our first inclination is to holler at Delilah about the altercations, but there has been plenty of evidence implicating ‘Nita as the occasional instigator.

We try to pass it off as sibling rivalry, but I suspect the infamous history of perceived animosity between their species is the real culprit. Delilah wants to play like a dog and Pequenita seems to think that is a ridiculously un-feline way to behave.

There is no doubt that Delilah flaunts her size advantage. On more than one occasion, I have seen Delilah simply walk over and stand above Pequenita. Sometimes she will try to augment that with a single paw draped over ‘Nita’s back.

Pequenita’s response depends on her mood. She always seems wary of the possibility things could escalate to a hazardous level, but primarily chooses to be patient and wait out the disturbance in her finest queen-of-the-world repose.

When the canine gets distracted for a second –a guaranteed occurrence, every time– the feline will make her escape. That is the moment the unexpected race to the bedroom suddenly shatters the serenity we might otherwise be enjoying.

Sometimes, when I reach down to pet Pequenita, her back feels wet. I always hope it was just a gentle grooming she received from Delilah’s tongue, and not an attempted “tasting.” We have seen Delilah hold her mouth open, combing Pequenita’s back and tail with her teeth as the cat walks away.

Then we get that look from the dog.

“What? I was just standing here, breathing when she walked by!”

Our house pets are doing nothing to refute the perception that dogs and cats can share living quarters, but it’s mostly a function of barely tolerating each other in the face of a constant preference to rather be with their own kind.

Sounds like a couple of political parties I’ve read about.

Hmm. One method of helping dogs and cats get along well with each other is to socialize them when they are little puppies and kitties.

I wonder if we can devise a way to eventually improve government function by intentionally striving to get play dates between children whose parents hold opposing political views.

I’m not confident the planet will remain habitable long enough to see if that could work.

Living in a house with a couple of pets who are constantly practicing the art of tolerating each other has me frequently thinking about how nice it is when we all just get along.

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Written by johnwhays

August 18, 2018 at 9:22 am

We’re Dry

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During my commute home yesterday afternoon, I watched clouds thicken and grow dark to the south. When I exited from I94 east and turned toward the southeast heading to River Falls, the view looked a little threatening. Then the radio reported there was only one noteworthy storm worth mentioning. With possible heavy rain amounts, high wind, and hail, in Goodhue and Pierce counties, it included the communities of Red Wing and Hager City.

We live in Pierce county, a short distance north of Red Wing.

Good, I thought. We could use the rain. I just wasn’t fired up about driving in the pouring rain.

When I finally reached Beldenville, the road was soaking wet, but the rain was already done. It must have stopped just before I arrived.

We live a couple of miles north of Beldenville proper, and when I turned onto County J, the pavement was bone dry.

We didn’t get a drop at home.

I stepped out on the deck to take a picture of the drooping sunflower for a representation of how the plants are feeling about our long spell without rain.

As I stood there, I noticed there was a lot more than just the sunflower that would show up in the frame.

This sunflower made a surprise appearance, most likely growing from birdseed that fell from the feeder nearby. It shot up with robust energy at first. When the ground started to dry out, the growth stunted significantly. It hasn’t looked very happy ever since.

There used to be a big pine tree here. I’m guessing it might have been root bound, based on my recent discovery about the pines out in the field north of the driveway. We left it standing until it was good and dead, then I cut it down, leaving enough of the old trunk to have a nice support for a balanced rock. Using this chiseled stone for a base (probably a remnant from the construction of the field stone chimney on the house), I balanced a large rock that I was only barely able to lift up to the necessary height.

It eventually fell down.

I’ve yet to decide whether to put a different one up there, but I’ve definitely chosen to leave the too heavy one safely on the ground where it landed.

Even though the big tree died, the ground seems to be fertile for a new generation of pines sprouting in its place. There are at least three rising up around that stump, taking advantage of the sunlight available since I cut the big one down.

And where do baby trees come from? The number of pine cones remaining from the now-removed tree seem to offer plenty of clues.

Maybe if we come out of this dry spell, more of those seeds will sprout.

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Written by johnwhays

August 17, 2018 at 6:00 am

Whaaaaat?

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Words on Images

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Written by johnwhays

August 16, 2018 at 6:00 am

Quiet Evening

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After dinner last night, I stepped out to spend some time on one of the zero-gravity chairs Cyndie left on the deck. She pulled them out on Sunday to watch the Perseid meteor shower in the wee hours of Monday morning. I opted to sleep and missed that show.

Last night, the air outside was absolutely still. The sky was muted by a white-washed backdrop that held just a few discernible cloud shapes floating in front of it.

The temperature and humidity had eased to a perfectly comfortable warmth for the end of a hot August day. As I lay back in total relaxation, I tried to absorb the moment to the depth of my bones, for use as a reference in six months, when everything outdoors will be completely opposite.

It was so quiet, I could hear the acorns getting dropped to the ground when a bird hopped in the branches of a tall oak tree. The culprit was also adding to the soundscape with an occasional simple one-note, even-pitched tone. That was in stark contrast to the songbird who arrived in a tree behind me to show off a dramatic and richly complex repeating series of staccato chirps, tweets, and climbing trills.

I spotted a dragonfly high above me, near the top of the trees, and followed its aeronautical acrobatics of instant right-angle and logic defying immediate one-hundred-eighty degree turns in what I assumed must have been a feeding frenzy. It kept at it for a surprisingly long time.

The bliss of the moment served as a good remedy for my lake hangover. There might not be a gorgeous lake rippling in our back yard, but we do have plenty of nature in which to submerse ourselves, as an alternative.

Later, back in the house, I caught a glimpse of the doe and two fawns who hang out here regularly enough that we consider them family. They were loitering near the truck before disappearing down the trail toward the chicken coop.

I suggested to Cyndie that she should be extra quiet when she headed down to close the chicken door for the night, and maybe she would be able to mingle with the deer.

Delilah didn’t really know what I was watching out the back window, but she instantly spotted the flash of brown bodies and white tails when they darted out of the trees and crossed the yard to where the trail enters the woods on the other side.

Cyndie didn’t get to do any mingling.

She did find all ten chickens safely roosting in the coop for another day. I took the deer sighting as a sign there wasn’t any immediate threat in the area, implying our animals all enjoyed a quiet evening, too.

Egg production continues to pick up. Yesterday was the first time there were three eggs in a single day. I take that as another sign they are happy and healthy.

It all has me wanting to achieve an unprecedented level of full appreciation for the blessings we are currently enjoying, especially the simple ones like yesterday’s calm and quiet night.

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Written by johnwhays

August 15, 2018 at 6:00 am