Relative Something

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

Crescendo

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Written by johnwhays

October 22, 2019 at 6:00 am

Floor’s Finished

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There was little in the way of fanfare, but yesterday Cyndie and I finally completed the replacement of our deck floorboards. Woo hoo!

Finishing the section in front of our bedroom door came with a reward. The spacing worked out so that we were able to use full-width boards all the way to the end. It looks great.

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Boy, that’s a lot of wood.

All that remains of the project are the stairs and the top of the railings. We hadn’t originally intended to do the top board of the railings, but once the floorboard work got underway, the look of the new wood became a great persuader.

Between my work-week and the weather, plans for further carpentry are on hold until next Friday.

I’m happy to take a break, despite the fact the project continues to linger unfinished. I’m choosing to focus on the money we are saving.

If we had hired one of the professional firms to do this, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t have taken as many days off as I do, but DIY savings can come with other costs.

Taking extra time is a cost we can afford right now. (Don’t tell Cyndie I said that.)

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Written by johnwhays

October 21, 2019 at 6:00 am

Out Again

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Feeling quite the bon vivant event-goers of late, last night we found ourselves out on the town again. We took a chance with our chickens and left their coop access door open long after dark in order to head downtown to Minneapolis for dinner and a concert with Cyndie’s brother, Ben.

Highest accolades shout-out to Mercy restaurant for superb food, great service, and fine ambiance.

Oh my gosh, the salmon and fixings were sublime. Shared bites from Cyndie’s and Ben’s plates revealed their choices were just as good.

Conveniently, the restaurant was just steps away from the State Theater where Ben had tickets for a solo acoustic concert by guitarist, Trey Anastasio. I am most familiar with Trey’s electric guitar artistry on his self-titled album, but I’m sure he is better known for his role in the rock band, Phish.

I’ve seen plenty of performances that were advertised as “acoustic” but stretched the definition to a variety of degrees. Trey’s show held reasonably close to the genre.

Our seats in the balcony placed me appropriately between two levels of interested fans. There were two guys behind me who I assume came with dates who were in love with the guitarist. These guys decided to have a full-voiced conversation about the mundane, …about one of their dads, something down in a basement, how the truck was performing… in the middle of some fascinating finger movement across frets.

Two people in front of us were being moved to the highest levels of euphoria upon hearing the opening notes of every song, unable to keep their hands from floating into the air in joyous rapture, occasionally rising to their feet to dance, as if powerless to resist the bliss unleashed by the connection their minds provided to the Phish song Trey was acoustically covering.

I couldn’t join the Phish faithful in singing along, because I didn’t know the lyrics, but I was thrilled to be witnessing the live-performance virtuosity of such an accomplished musician.

It made it easy for me to overcome the urge to turn around to tell the guys about my deck and the power tools I was learning to use in replacing all the rotting cedar boards with new green-treated two-by-sixes.

As our car barreled east on I94 through St. Paul after the show, a call came in from Ben. He just wanted to let us know he was a few blocks from home already and wondered how we were doing. Funny guy. We had about 40-minutes left to get to Beldenville.

Happily, I found the chickens all safe and sound on their roost, cooing at my arrival to close the door.

Another smashing success of a night out on the town. Thanks, Ben!

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Nine Left

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With the sun and relative warmth of a gorgeous fall day, we were able to make satisfying progress on the deck project yesterday. Wouldn’t you know it, there are some rain showers passing by early this morning. I have nine rows left to complete if it dries up later. That is compared to the 43 rows of boards already trimmed and screwed into place.


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We are getting close.

I’m noticing my perception of the deck has changed dramatically. I wasn’t aware of it before, but I felt very little draw to spend any time out on those old rotting boards unless the weather outside was simply irresistible.

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Now I find myself pulled to be out there for any reason I can dream up. Luckily, I have a very obvious reason to be out on those new boards while I’m still in construction mode.

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I have a notorious ability to not finish things I start, so pressure is mounting as time drags on and I slowly creep closer to completion.

On the surface, a project like this seems simple. We aren’t drastically changing anything. We are keeping the frame of joists and simply pulling off old boards to replace them with new. The concept is not complicated.

However, there are complications. Several are related to trying to fit things into pre-existing nooks and crannies without completely tearing out the framing around doors or the railing posts. We also spent a fair amount of time tailoring the fit of board thickness around the stone chimney.

Every step we take to improve the look and quality of the end result adds time. I have no problem spending more time to make it better.

The number one reason we have achieved the quality and progress accomplished thus far is due to the generous contributions of time, tools, and muscle by our treasured friends Mike and Barb Wilkus. Mike has offered two of his Fridays and most of his tools to support us in spending less money overall.

His contributions are worth so much more than money. It is hard to put a value on true friends.

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Written by johnwhays

October 19, 2019 at 9:26 am

Fine Dining

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We went out to dinner last night with Mike and Barb who spent the night so they could give us a hand finishing the board replacement project on our deck today. Dinner was at our local favorite destination restaurant, Shady Grove. It’s about two minutes away from our house in a structure that looks like it used to be a house, though serving food as good as the fanciest downtown restaurants in Minneapolis.

The difference is in the extraordinary flavors. That is what sets each bite apart from what we typically experience eating out at most other comparable restaurants. A simple dinner salad comes alive with any one of their custom-made dressings providing a notable accent. I chose honey-mustard and was greatly rewarded.

Maybe the secret is in the sauce because our fun appetizer guilty pleasure of deep-fried Ellsworth cheese curds came with a surprise cup of sweet/hot chipotle sauce for dipping and that definitely took things to another level of goodness.

Even the fresh-baked rolls seemed to be graced with an extra flavor beyond just bread.

Maybe I was just that hungry.

The second I got home from work, I went out on the deck to make sure the last few old boards were pried up and nails removed in order to be as ready as possible to maximize progress today. I built an appetite before Mike and Barb arrived.

For my entrée, I chose the fish fry with a side of wild rice blend with dried cranberries. I like my fish mild, so the filets I enjoyed were more for the texture than flavor, and it was perfect in that regard. The rice blend, however, was irresistibly flavorful and that had me gobbling it up like I hadn’t eaten in weeks.

Regretfully, I was so taken by the nirvana of my eating experience that I forgot to take a picture of the meal. It would have complimented this post nicely. I was so busy living in the moment that I didn’t think to capture a shot in order to revisit it later.

I don’t think it would be smart to eat such good food every night, for fear it would become mundane and my senses dulled to the splendor.

Fine dining is fine because it is not just everyday food. If we ate this well too often, the experience would become ho-hum.

Last night was truly fine.

Here’s hoping today’s deck progress will be comparably fine. Looks like we are going to have weather that qualifies for that descriptor: fine. That is, as in, highest quality.

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Written by johnwhays

October 18, 2019 at 6:00 am

Caged Kitty

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It was in the darkness of the wee morning hours Wednesday that I walked past the bedroom window on a trip to the bathroom and spotted a change in the position of the door on our live trap. After days of zero activity, we finally caught something, but it wasn’t the woodchuck.

It was too dark for me to discern what was in the cage, but I could see a small dark spot stuck inside. After my drive to work, I texted Cyndie to have her check the trap, but unbeknownst to me, my message didn’t make it through and I was left wondering for hours.

It didn’t matter. She heard it when taking Delilah for her morning walk. We caught a little kitty.

It was calling out in cute little “mews.”

After Cyndie figured out how to open the door of the trap, the ferocious beast disappeared in a blink. I expect the tight confines weren’t a desirable alternative to the usual wide-open expanse available to a free-roaming cat.

This not-surprising capture is the very reason we chose not to allow the pest control agent to set one of his kill traps outside the window well. We’ve sent him on his way and resorted to trying to trap the woodchuck ourselves. Based on the lack of a capture during the time we’ve had traps set for the pest, I’m letting the live-trap serve as a deterrent to keep the burrowing beast from digging around the outside of the window well.

After two separate incidents of attempted burrowing since we dug out the window well, we placed the trap and haven’t noticed any evidence of woodchuck activity since.

It would be ideal if it actually worked as a deterrent because we have yet to figure out how we will dispose of the critter if it eventually does climb in to take the bait.

We would most likely visit one of our neighbors to see if anyone would like to solve the problem for us.

I am so glad we caught a kitty and not a wandering skunk.

If I were placing bets, I’d put my money on us most likely snagging a raccoon next.

I don’t actually care, as long as it keeps the woodchuck from digging around the house.

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Written by johnwhays

October 17, 2019 at 6:00 am

Powerful

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there is something to it
the energy
brain chemistry
powerful juju
but who’s in control?
who’s driving that bus?
because it’s not in control
and moving way too fast
so much momentum
ignores the breath
it’s flooding the circuits
alarm bells and whistles
betray their intent
when employed so flat out
too many days in a row
searching for relief
from the race
by racing
until
by some different magic
the solution just shows up
with little in the way of fanfare
the race can be over
if you can choose
to simply
stop

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Written by johnwhays

October 16, 2019 at 6:00 am