Relative Something

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

Wayback Again

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What will you find this time? You’ll only discover it by clicking the image…

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Written by johnwhays

June 21, 2021 at 6:00 am

Another Wayback

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Same as yesterday. You know what to do…

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Written by johnwhays

June 20, 2021 at 6:00 am

Wayback Somethings

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The calendar has arrived upon the week of my [abbreviated] Tour of Minnesota bike trip, this year combined with a long weekend Friswold family lake place gathering, during which time I will be taking a break from posting new content.

However, that doesn’t mean there won’t be something unexpected for you to find here each day. You know me better than that.

All you need to do is click the image below for an adventure with the Relative Something Random Wayback Machine, courtesy of creative technical support provided by our son, Julian.

Each day that I’m gone, a new invitation will appear, encouraging you to try your luck with a click on the Previous Somethings carrousel that is programmed to randomly load a post from my archive of over ten years of stories and pictures.

I offer no guarantee of high-value results, as there are plenty of clunkers mixed in with the sublime and the mundane that could pop up. If you believe in the possibility strongly enough, you might succeed in revisiting an old favorite, or maybe a specific message that you were meant to see on this particular day.

Take a chance! Click!

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Written by johnwhays

June 19, 2021 at 6:00 am

Whatever

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This afternoon I leave for my bike trip.

‘Nuff said.

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Written by johnwhays

June 18, 2021 at 6:00 am

Mentally Preparing

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Today is my last workday before I leave for my bike trip and it is obvious to me that I will not have all my work done before I go. When you can’t change something, acceptance becomes an attractive option. There will be plenty to do when I return.

Yesterday after work, I did some of the dustiest mowing in my life. The dryness resulted in clouds of soil dust covering me and the tractor. Much sneezing ensued, but I am very happy to have that task checked off my list.

I’m mentally preparing myself for being away from our animals in the coming days by thoroughly appreciating every moment with them before I go. As I mowed along the perimeter of the back pasture, the horses came over very intentionally to graze near the fence as I passed.

We are definitely developing a bond with them.

The area around the chicken coop has been receiving increasing pressure from the raccoons during the nights. We’ve reached the point where we might have to give up on this idea of coexisting with the masked bandits.

Both groups of chicks continue to grow so much every day it seems like the Rockettes will never catch up to the older Buffalo gals.

It’ll be Cyndie’s decision if she decides to try merging them while I am away, but I’m guessing that will be unlikely.

She may be too busy trying to keep up with the produce coming from the garden. Salads have been locally sourced lately.

Those peas are so prolific we almost have more than we know what to do with already.

The lettuce is superb. What a treat!

Meanwhile, my mind is trying to run through all the things I need to gather for successfully tent camping and biking for days in a row. It’s not like I haven’t done this trip before, but it has been an extra year since the last one.

The clock is ticking on my days of planning. Tomorrow, Cyndie will drive me to Hastings and drop me, my bike, and camping gear off and I’ll consider myself on vacation.

It’s a green vacation, too. All these people riding bikes for days instead of driving their cars.

We haven’t had any measurable rain for weeks. What are the odds that will change while we are on the road?

I need to mentally prepare for the possibility.

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Written by johnwhays

June 17, 2021 at 6:00 am

Horse Approved

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Last evening, I stopped off at a paddock gate after one last attempt to ride my body into preparedness for the adventure that begins on Saturday. I wanted to give the horses an opportunity to understand why I would suddenly disappear from their lives next week.

They took turns inspecting my mechanical steed.

Mix wandered over first, approaching from the far paddock. She smelled the handlebars and then the bag on the back. Her curiosity satisfied, she moved aside so Swings could have a turn.

Same drill. Handlebars and then bag, and that was that. All good.

Mia showed up next but she had to wait while Swings stood facing away from my bike and contemplated things.

After Swings yielded her position, Mia resumed her approach.

Lacking the same confidence as the others, Mia got just close enough to decide my contraption was startling and she quickly altered her course toward one of the hay bags hanging near the barn overhang. It was as if she was attempting to pretend that was what she intended to do all along.

I think all of the horses could tell that I would never be able to pedal that cycle as fast as they used to run. It poses no challenge to their stature.

Next week I will be sure to appreciate the fact that I don’t have to feed or clean up after my bike every day.

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Written by johnwhays

June 16, 2021 at 6:00 am

Self-Directed Shower

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Last week on one of the hottest dry days of the hot streak, Cyndie dragged out a hose to spray water on the lime screenings and surfaces under the overhang. The horses kick and stomp on the ground to shake off flies which raises clouds of gritty dust that soon covers everything inside and out around the barn.

While she was making her way along the width, waving the spray back and forth over the dusty ground, Mia made an intentional approach and stopped just short of the shower of droplets. Cyndie held still and watched to see what Mia would do.

Very tentatively, Mia let the outer spray from the nozzle coat her whiskers. A moment later, she reached her face further in to get her chin. Another pause, and then she puts her nostrils and muzzle in the flow. Each time, moving into the flow and then out. Forehead, out, cheek, out, neck, out, withers, out, shoulder, out.

On Sunday afternoon, I was present to witness the same scene play out another time. Mia behaved just as Cyndie had described. It reached a point where I encouraged Cyndie to become more active and direct the spray over Mia’s legs and sides. When Mia took a step, the first impression we got was that she had enough, so Cyndie moved away.

Then I sensed Mia wasn’t stepping to get away, she was turning around to present her butt! Cyndie moved the spray onto Mia again and it was gladly received.

When Cyndie went in to get a scraper and towel, I watched Mia shimmy and shake to shed the water and then stand contentedly to let wetness drip off of her. As Cyndie finished drying Mia, I wondered aloud if this would be a time to try brushing her mane.

While Cyndie was back in the barn locating the mane brush and some conditioner, I watched Mia walk down the slope to the dusty black dirt where she laid down and rolled to finish drying. That was the sight to which Cyndie emerged.

Mia did let Cyndie brush out her main after standing back up again. After that, Light accepted a little mane grooming, as well.

It surprised us a bit that none of the other three horses showed any interest in the attention Mia was receiving with the cool spray of water. I’m guessing they don’t like baths as much as she does.

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Written by johnwhays

June 15, 2021 at 6:00 am

Orange Rust

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It’s a sad year for our wild black raspberries. An outbreak of highly contagious orange rust disease has infested many, if not all, of the brambles that are scattered about our property. It’s the first time we’ve faced this calamity in the nine years we’ve been here.

The devastating thing we’ve learned about this disease is that it can’t be cured. The infected plants must be dug up or killed. Before moving on to a different stand of plants, the tools need to be cleaned to avoid spreading the disease to healthy plants.

The thing is, the spores spread in the wind and we’ve already seen evidence of infection in so many places that it feels rather hopeless to assume we still have plants that aren’t already infected. At the same time, we don’t have much choice if we ever want to have black raspberries again. The fungus doesn’t kill the plant, but there will no longer be any flowers or fruit.

Part of me wants to just let nature take its course since that’s how the multitudes of berry brambles showed up in the first place. Easy come, easy go, as they say. But Cyndie has been making the most delicious black cap jam from the bounty of fruit we were finding the last many years, I’m finding it hard to face the possibility that might come to an end.

I’m also lamenting the addition of the unexpected chore of hunting down and digging up the infected plants when there are so many other tasks needing attention.

One consolation I am going to cling to is the fact we have recently planted some red raspberry canes that our daughter, Elysa, brought from her house (originally transplanted from my sister, Mary’s plot!) and orange rust does not infect red raspberries.

I know Cyndie can make a worthy raspberry jam out of red berries, and I’m willing to adjust my desires out of necessity, but oh, that black cap jam was somthin’ else!

Dang orange fungus.

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Written by johnwhays

June 14, 2021 at 6:00 am

Road Miles

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My objective was to balance distance and time on the bike seat this weekend to condition my body for the week-long bicycle tour that begins in less than a week. I am happy to report progress was made in both regards, despite suffering a minor chafing wound after my first hour of riding on Friday night.

A topical treatment and altered riding wear seemed to protect my skin from added abuse during my time on the saddle yesterday morning.

I’m just a shadow of my former riding self, but a couple of shots from a rescue inhaler, the comfort adjustments where it matters most, and the addition of priceless companionship from lifelong friends provided a memorable glimpse of the true joys of biking I remember from my glory days of cycling.

One particular highlight for me was the moment when I took a big swig of water in my mouth just as Paul said something hilarious and Beth questioned what he’d said. The exchange caused me to choke on the water and I blew the whole mouthful out to protect inhaling it, covering me and my bike.

A few miles on and I noticed a big drop of water riding on the face of my cycle computer display. Oops.

Our first loop brought us back to the driveway a bit before we were ready to quit, so we continued off in the other direction for additional miles that brought my mileage to a respectable total of 24 for the ride.

The big plus for me was to finish without feeling totally exhausted by the effort, which has been the usual case the other times I’ve ridden this season.

I won’t be in my best riding shape by the time the tour starts, but I won’t be in my worst shape, either.

Unfortunately, I won’t have any preparation time for the camping in a tent and sleeping on the ground part of the tour. I’ll have zero preparatory sleeping-bag hours under my belt this year. It’s not a concern though, as my ability to close my eyes and be asleep almost instantly has become more enhanced over the years.

Doing so after a full day of biking makes it all the easier to achieve.

Tour of Minnesota 2021, here I come.

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Written by johnwhays

June 13, 2021 at 7:00 am

Insects Aplenty

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I’ve seen reports that our insect population is plummeting around the world. It makes me sad to contribute to the decline by way of my summertime driving.

There was a particularly large visual of carnage on the front of my car before we even started our drive north yesterday.

On the bright side, it shows that there are still enough flying insects in our area to make a mess of our vehicles.

I can report no shortage of mosquitos showing up at dusk at the lake place. We went for a walk with Paul and Beth after dinner and paused at the tennis court to gaze up at one of the pair of eagles who nest in the large pine tree there.

After standing still to take that long-distance picture with my phone, I looked down at my legs to find them dotted with many feeding insects. Ended up doing the awkward dance the rest of the way on our walk, goose-stepping and swiping arms and legs like a madman.

Despite the bugs, we enjoyed eating on the deck under the open sky, I snuck in a short bike ride before guests arrived, and Cyndie and I swam in the lake. The days of high heat are softened greatly by proximity to large bodies of water.

On tap for today will be more miles on the saddle. Hopefully, with no bugs in my teeth as a result.

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Written by johnwhays

June 12, 2021 at 7:00 am