Relative Something

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

Keen Sense

with 2 comments

Lately –more frequently than I like to admit– my commuting hours have been littered with the U.S. political theater that is being broadcast over the airwaves. Every day can be a soap opera if you want it to be. I’m more inclined to avoid unnecessary dramatic escapades. It’s a function of purposeful intent, actually. But I do admit to wondering where reason and common sense have disappeared to, and why avoiding the actual issues and endlessly shouting obfuscations as loud as possible is accepted by otherwise intelligent people as a convincing argument.

At least it’s quiet on the ranch when no one else is around. Last night, Cyndie was away at a seasonal gathering of some of her friends and she left me in charge of entertaining Delilah. I took our pooch on a couple of long walks around the property where she repeatedly employed her very fox-like pounces into the snow, followed by adorably cocking her head to listen intently for any possible movements from below.

It’s cute as heck to watch from above, but probably hauntingly intimidating for any critters cowering underneath. She never did come up with anything, however, despite all her valiant efforts.

Watching Delilah navigate our surroundings by way of scent often leaves me feeling cheated out of a vast amount of information on our walks. Often, she will suddenly turn her head toward the middle of our forest and inhale with such incredible intensity that I’m certain she is aware of something in there that I’m not seeing.

By far, most of the tracks in the snow last night were from rabbits, but I rarely ever see them moving around. The most visible critters are the squirrels. They constantly antagonize Delilah when we are inside, then take to the trees when we come out.

Last weekend, Delilah seemed to know there was one in the branches overhead. She stared and stared for a long time. I decided to wait her out, even though I didn’t see a thing up there. Lo and behold, when Delilah finally gave up and looked back down at the ground, a squirrel bolted from the branches above us and scampered through the surrounding trees until out of view.

I had no idea it was up there, but Delilah knew. Poor girl failed to notice the subject of her attention when it finally made its perfectly timed getaway while she wasn’t looking.

It didn’t matter. She probably smelled that it was leaving and chose not to bother looking up at it again.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

December 12, 2019 at 7:00 am

Meandering List

leave a comment »

.

It doesn’t all begin right here

How many things forgotten are saved in the top dresser drawer

Six moods experienced since late last night

All the ways to get from there to here

Pictures of full moons that I never took

Forests of trees that have been made into books

Random memories still around from elementary school

And dinner I don’t recall from several days ago

News constantly breaking that I don’t even know

Which obviously never matters to the actual facts

Feeling okay at the same time that I’m not

A morning paper that only occasionally arrives

Ageless illusions that shiver and fade like a carnival game

Favorite songs that change more often than socks

Walking just far enough to still make it back

Ecstatic energized laughter of a teenage girl on a road trip with her best girlfriends

The last gulp of water that leaves nothing but ice cubes

The way a singer’s voice breaks just right

Irony that gets missed so often it’s not

Sinking under the weight of waiting so awfully long

Noticing when bitter cold gets described as being “not terribly warm”

Savoring the flavor in our most favorite bites

Wishing for something that can’t possibly happen

That ubiquitous mug that holds so many cast-off pencils and pens

The unidentifiable sounds a house makes all by itself

Unquestionable adoration from a dog that would equally betray

Returning again and again for the same unexpected surprise

Thinking about ice cream ten times more often than actually eating it

Working the program with old school cool aplomb

Dancing when nobody is watching because that’s so much more authentic

Wishing it would rain so you didn’t have to go

Going anyway and having a better time than we ever imagined

Counting the ways until you forget what you’re counting

Looking at what’s right in front of us and recognizing the genuine still-life portrait we can see

The color of the sky during the minutes both darkness and light are visible

Asking the right question knowing full well the answer is all wrong

Arriving on time at the last chance saloon

Patiently listening even though they are talking too loud

Writing down each thought just as fast as it comes

Then breathing deep into that moment of falling fast into a restful night’s sleep

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

December 11, 2019 at 7:00 am

Dramatic Improvement

leave a comment »

Yesterday’s snowfall was a dramatic improvement over the first two plowable events we’ve experienced so far this season. Just ten days ago I posted about how yucky it was after receiving rain for a few hours before the storm changed to snow. Trying to plow that mess was a miserable experience.

I’d almost forgotten how good it is to clear dry snow. Last night the Grizzly ATV worked like magic again, plowing away the snow with ease. The snow conditions make a world of difference when it comes to clearing all our driving lanes and selected walking paths.

By the time I was done, instead of coming back into the house tired and frustrated, I was feeling a little giddy with excitement over the perfect conditions. I almost wanted to find something else to clear, but dinner proved to be a more enticing option.

In the middle of yesterday’s falling flakes, Cyndie captured a new shot of the snow slide on the hay shed. I was surprised to see how much of it was still holding together, even though the left side had started coming apart.

Cyndie and Delilah made me jealous after I heard Cyndie’s description of their coming upon an owl while they were walking one of the trails in our woods.

She wasn’t sure about it at first, as the large bird swooped away from them and settled upon a branch overhead. Cyndie guessed it might be a hawk. Then, that telltale rotation of the head gave it away as the owl twisted to look in their direction.

Delilah hadn’t followed the flight with her eyes so was oblivious when the noble hunter chose to perch above them, but Cyndie’s posturing to take the picture was enough to clue her in.

The owl must not be all that wise because Delilah’s rushing toward the tree scared it off, even though the threat was meaningless from down on the ground.

In the low light of dusk, all that showed up in the image was a dark blob up in the branches.

I don’t remember where I read that the presence of owls is an indication of a healthy forest environment, but the idea stuck with me. Many symbolisms about owl sightings align with either good fortune or a bad omen, so we could go either way with that.

I’m choosing to focus on the probability that it is our vibrant, healthy forest that attracted the owl to visit.

With luck, that predator is helping to control our mouse and mole populations.

Having fewer moles ravaging our yard spaces would be a dramatic improvement in the summer season. It always amazes me to find tracks in the snow from mice and moles when the temperatures are cold and the ground frozen solid.

Now I’ll watch for owl-wing feather streaks in the snow, too.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

December 10, 2019 at 7:00 am

Another Slide

leave a comment »

On a little different scale from the big snow on the roof over the shop door, yesterday the snow on the hay shed started the slow slide. It’s a little less dramatic, but I find it fascinating to look at nonetheless.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

It will be replaced in no time. Snow today will muck up my commute and replace what just slid off our rooftops.

Over the weekend, I spent some time clearing snow from around the edges of the driveway and around the hay shed and barn, partly because I neglected to do it sooner, and partly in preparation for today’s snow.

The machines are parked and ready for however many flakes show up.

I just need to make it home from work in order to plow. On the other hand, if I decide to stay at work instead, there’ll be plenty of fresh-baked Christmas cookies to eat for dinner. Cyndie sent me off with a generous platter to share with everyone.

You think there will be any left by the end of the day?

.

.

Written by johnwhays

December 9, 2019 at 7:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

Tagged with , ,

Cookie Weekend

leave a comment »

It’s that time again! Cyndie’s two-day holiday cookie bake-stravaganza commenced yesterday and continues through today. Two years ago Cyndie’s baking intensity triggered a high-level alert from the Wintervale Diet Observation Administration (WDOA).

Cooler heads are prevailing this year due to Cyndie’s smart inclusion of a number of assistants who willingly engage in the intense labor of mass production and, most importantly, take home a plate of the goods to distribute the calories across a wider stretch of midsections. (pardon the pun.)

Don’t worry about me. I will survive this storm of excessive irresistible sweetness using a number of avoidance techniques that have worked for me in the past. My primary difficulty is that I choose not to entirely abstain. I like to sample, so I strive to do so carefully. Small or misshapen specimens are a target of my attention. Convincing willing assistants to break cookies in half so I can have just a taste works well for bigger delicacies.

It may not be fair, but I also bring a platter to work, forcing innocent coworkers to share in the challenge of enjoying the sweet bliss of Cyndie’s incredible effort without overdosing on the amped-up calories per morsel.

Misery loves comfort, you know. Sweet holiday treats and the love and laughter baked into them are a misery I am willing to share.

Luckily this level of sumptuous indulgence only happens one time a year, resulting from Cyndie’s always impressive, “Cookie Weekend!”

.

.

Written by johnwhays

December 8, 2019 at 10:57 am

Gravity Wins

leave a comment »

The results are inevitable. The outcome, predictable. The slow slide to earth is a matter of constant change at an imperceptible pace. One day it’s there, the next it’s not. Eventually, the scattered pile melts and all will be forgotten. That is, until the next big snow.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

It was fun while it lasted.

The Wintervale bear mascot was there to witness the whole thing but never changes its expression. Permanently thrilled. Can you blame him?

Ideally, the bear would be holding a “perfect 10.0” score placard.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

December 7, 2019 at 10:02 am

Celebrating MacPhail

with 2 comments

Last night we met Cyndie’s parents downtown in Minneapolis again, this time at MacPhail Center for Music, where our daughter, Elysa, is Manager of Student Services. It was MacPhail’s annual appreciation dinner for supporters, which included a couple of award presentations and showcased some incredible student musician performances.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Board members even showed off their singing chops with an enthusiastic rendition of a holiday classic, to which I’ve already lost the memory of the title. Student music performances included a group of harpists, an electronically enhanced cello and flute duet, a pair of powerful young singers with opera voices, a demonstration of a typical group lesson for beginning young cellists, and a smooth couple of songs from their Dakota Jazz Combo ensemble.

I’m a little biased, but the highlight for me was visiting Elysa’s office while we were there and seeing that she has Beatles figures staged in her bookshelf. It was also a treat to witness a glimpse of her workplace in action and meet some of the people she works among.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

One additional surprise bonus was the unlikely chance sighting of a fellow Tour of Minnesota cyclist, John Toomey, who also happens to be a MacPhail student and often uses rehearsal space there. What are the odds we would cross paths in the short time we both happened to coincidentally be near the main entry last night? I would say, long.

We are proud of Elysa’s many years of contributing to the success of an organization that is improving the world via music, “transforming lives and strengthening communities through exceptional music learning experiences that inspire.”

It certainly inspired me, providing hope that good will triumph over evil from the transformations MacPhail is producing in so many lives.

Music makes the world go ’round, and MacPhail is making sure the world will keep spinning.

.

.

 

 

Written by johnwhays

December 6, 2019 at 7:00 am