Relative Something

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

She Knows

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I walked into the kitchen and said to Cyndie, “She knows.”

Cyndie instantly agreed, “Oh, she totally knows.”

Our departure for a 9-day getaway to visit Cyndie’s parents in Florida was still a day away last night, but both of us picked up a powerful vibe that Delilah was already beginning to mope as a result of our telltale activity.

She laid under the table and watched us with her eyes, without picking up her head. Suitcases had been brought out of storage. Cyndie was kicking into high house-cleaning gear, and both of us were mentally grinding through virtual lists of tasks to be done, items to be packed, “i”s to dot and “t”s to cross.

Delilah has witnessed this scene before.

One of our newer house and animal sitters, Anna, will be taking care of our place while we are away this time. I’m hoping the weather will be uneventful and the predators all stay away while she is on duty. Wouldn’t it be a shame if we lose a hen (or hens) during her stay?

I’ve tried to point out to her that it can happen at any time, hoping she won’t suffer too much if a loss occurs on her watch.

We drive to the airport this afternoon for a flight out around the dinner hour, departing just as a mass of colder air with a chance of some snow is expected to pay a visit. Guess it’s not the worst time to be escaping to Florida.

I’ve been pondering what I might choose to do for blog posts while we are away. One possibility that keeps tugging at me is the challenge of choosing one photo per day to convey what we are experiencing. At the same time, I assume a week of leisure might free me up to do more writing than usual, so maybe I don’t want to restrict myself to a single picture.

Either I’ll write more, or I’ll take a break and write less. We’ll just have to wait and see what captures my fancy, after I settle in to that eastern time zone with the warm, humid air.

One way or another, you can rest assured that, for the next week, I will somehow be sharing the most delectable morsels of our adventures in Florida, visiting Cyndie’s mom and dad.

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Written by johnwhays

January 18, 2019 at 7:00 am

Equine Fascination

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For someone with little prior experience with horses, the last few years have been a big change for me. Cyndie was much more experienced with horses, but she had never owned one before, nor had she ever been so responsible for their care. We continue to grow increasingly fascinated with horses each passing year.

Our horses are an incredible gift.

We were reminded of this once again last night after watching the premier PBS broadcast of the Nature episode, “Equus: Story of the Horse.”

In the time since our horses arrived here, I’ve not felt a strong urge to saddle and ride them. That fact often surprises visitors who are just getting to know us. “Why else would someone have a horse?” many of them seem to think.

One of my favorite things is that we are able to allow our horses to spend almost all of their time not wearing a halter around their head.

Horses are amazing beings. I am soothed simply by standing in their presence. It is quite a luxurious experience to have them residing here with us, where I am able to reach out and touch them, to exchange breath with them, nose to nose.

Most days, our horses seem to know me better than I know myself.

Horse sense.

Some days, they are completely unflappable. Occasionally, they are jittery beyond our reason. They sense things which we fail to detect.

I envy how adept horses are at swiftly resolving differences and returning their unconcerned attention to simply grazing.

For all the size, power, and speed that horses embody, they are impressively gentle, by their very nature.

Put simply, I find them completely fascinating.

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Written by johnwhays

January 17, 2019 at 7:00 am

Mist, Continued

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I don’t have anything particularly dramatic to add to yesterday’s narration, but a couple humorous tidbits that Cyndie shared last night continue the themes.

I carefully (slowly) made my way to the interstate in the morning and didn’t have any problems driving the rest of the way. I texted Cyndie when I got to work, letting her know travel was possible, as she needed to drive through the cities, as well.

In the afternoon, she was miles ahead of me on the way home, and she sounded the alert that road conditions of the last few miles were still bad. She couldn’t even make it up the driveway. Her car just slid sideways on the slope by the shop garage.

She parked by the barn and precariously made her way up to the house to get driveway salt to scatter.

My car rolled right up that slope without slipping. I’m just sayin’.

I’m ready for a change of weather. Unfortunately, the forecast is all about a polar vortex of Arctic cold headed our way next. Snow seems to be a slim probability.

Later in the evening, after Cyndie returned from closing the coop, she had this to report: As usual, there was a hen squeezed onto the 2×4 over the side window, but this time, it was one of the Australorps. That top perch is usually claimed by one of the Wyandottes.

Cyndie said there was a lone Wyandotte on the near roost gesticulating obvious dissatisfaction with the arrangement.

It’s not just the horses who are wrangling over who’s highest in the pecking order around here.

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Freezing Mist

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Now, this. What did we do to deserve this? My commute home from work yesterday afternoon was one of the least complicated in my memory, right up until the last ten miles. Then things got serious.

Thank goodness for my Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive Subaru vehicle with Traction Control and an Anti-Lock Braking System. Before the changing road conditions were even visible, my car alerted me to the increasingly slippery conditions.

Most of the day was a dreary, gloomy gray, with temperatures just above freezing, and a hint of wetness in the air and on the ground. When I left Plymouth, MN, it just seemed damp outside. I barely needed to use wipers throughout my drive, as the moisture wasn’t collecting on the glass.

Things changed after I had turned southeast and passed through River Falls, WI. Within five miles of home, I slowed to make a lazy left turn from the state highway to a county road. However, I hadn’t slowed enough for the invisible icing hazard, which triggered the Traction Control to suddenly kick in and instantly grab my attention.

I touched the brake to drop some of my momentum and the Anti-Lock vibrated for added emphasis. I would drive the rest of the way home with extreme care.

After turning off the county road onto the local streets, I came over a rise and spotted the telltale marks of tires sliding in an oscillating fish tale pattern, and the car perched up ahead in the first few rows of a harvested corn field. I couldn’t stop to offer any support, because there was nowhere safe to pull over, and I wasn’t sure I could get my car to stop.

Luckily, it was close to two farms where they would have equipment to help. I wouldn’t have been able to offer more than moral support.

Poor Delilah lost her feet right away on the front steps when we headed out for a walk. The conditions on our land have gone from bad to worse. Areas that were icy before are now glazed smoother than a freshly resurfaced hockey rink. Rocks, cement, and asphalt, all have a coating that is deceptively and heart-stoppingly slippery.

The absurd wickedness of navigating around here on foot has gotten morbidly comical.

As darkness set in, I very carefully made my way down to close the chicken door to the coop. As we always do, I opened the big door to peek in and count hens. Eight. I found eight. Dang it! There were just nine of them milling about around there fifteen minute before.

I counted four times, then made my way up the treacherous climb to the house to get a flashlight. Slipping my way back down again, it struck me that I had only looked at one side in the coop, toward the roosts. There were seven on the roost and one that is typically up on the 2×4 framing over the small side window.

Aiming my flashlight through the window to the opposite side, I found hen number nine, deftly perched above the other side window. Whew!

As I climbed back up toward the house one more time, I captured a shot of the shiny glaze forming on the driveway and the wisps of mist reflecting in the beam of my flashlight.

I expect driving this morning will be a real slippery trip on the local back roads.

It might take me more than the usual hour to get in to work today.

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Looks Wrong

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This just looks wrong for a mid-January landscape in the Northland. When the sun came out for our afternoon walk, I was struck by how uncharacteristic the view was. I have only needed to plow the driveway once this season. It feels very strange.

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When Delilah and I were surveying the pasture for hazardous ice on Saturday, we instead found artistic ice formations.

I love these lines.

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One last thing that looks wrong this year, the white horse is missing from our herd.

In loving memory…

            LEGACY

7/18/1996 – 1/14/2018

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Written by johnwhays

January 14, 2019 at 7:00 am

Harsh Environment

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It’s not always easy, carving out survival in all the crazy extremes of weather possible in the great outdoors. It may seem odd at first mention, but I think snow actually softens the blow of winter months, both figuratively and literally. We have received very little this year, and what did fall has mostly disappeared. After the rain and re-freeze, followed by a few days of melting, we settled into a pattern of cold that has created a particularly harsh environment outside.

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The ground is hard as rock and every other step is slippery from spots of ice.

Dezirea showed up with a bloody cut just under the joint of her cannon and pastern bones. If you look closely, there is a less obvious cut similarly located on her other front leg. I wondered if she maybe broke through some ice in the drainage rut that crosses the back pasture.

There isn’t any snow deep enough to have broken through a crust to get a cut like that.

Cyndie is up at the lake place for the weekend, so I sent her a text with the image. She asked if there was any blood on Hunter’s back hooves.

Hmm.

I hadn’t thought of that. Of course, there wasn’t.

Dezi was moving around just fine and didn’t seem any worse for the wear. There has been no further bleeding from the cut, so I am letting time do the natural healing it always provides, while also watching for any changes to the worse.

Delilah and I walked the pasture to look for any possible hazards or signs of a possible cause. Finding absolutely nothing, I’m beginning to think Cyndie may have identified the more likely culprit.

I sure hope Dezirea is dishing out as much as she is taking in the ongoing roughhousing happening among our three-horse herd.

Makes me miss Legacy that much more. Tomorrow is the first anniversary of his departure from this world. I’m definitely feeling it.

Toward the end of his life, Legacy’s poop took on a strikingly loose consistency. In an unsettlingly timed turn yesterday, while cleaning up after the horses in the paddock, I came upon a pile that was uncomfortably similar to what we used to see from the old herd leader.

Maybe the horses are feeling a little sick, too, over memories of what transpired a year ago on that oh-so-cold January thirteenth night.

A harsh environment, indeed.

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Written by johnwhays

January 13, 2019 at 11:18 am

Heading Somewhere

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Apparently, if my recent dreams are any indication, there is somewhere I’m trying to reach, but circumstances keep delaying my readiness to depart. But, isn’t that just an inherent existential dilemma? Why are we here?

It’s the journey, right? Not just the destination.

I love a good adventure, but the truth is, I’m not all that fond of traveling. One common thread of people’s stories about their travels are the hassles and struggles faced along the way. Getting through airport security, navigating the unknowns of destination ports, communicating through language barriers.

It’s all part of the package of traveling. Choosing to see those parts of the journey in a more positive light than as just being hassles, goes a long way toward helping a person accept them as pleasurable, as in, a puzzle to be solved. If you like puzzling, I mean.

If you are not traveling, you are still headed somewhere. Are the everyday challenges being navigated, hassles? Or are they puzzles being solved?

Are we trying to get ready to depart, or are these little conflicts actually the journey, itself?

Where the heck are we heading, anyway?

To a better place. Free from pains, both physical and mental. We are looking for peace and love.

Don’t just be a consumer of those commodities, though. Be a distributor, as well.

Yesterday, after my well-health check-up physical with my doctor, I needed to visit our local pharmacy. To my surprise, I was offered the option of trying out a short-term regimen of an oral corticosteroid to see if it would settle the lung congestion left over from my recent cold. This, in contrast to the usual long-term (and much more expensive) daily inhaled asthma treatment.

Without thinking fast enough, I let them transmit the prescription to an Ellsworth pharmacy that Cyndie recently discovered was not functioning well. They are understaffed, overburdened, and may be headed out of business.

We phoned to see if they had my common prescription ready for pickup. So far, so good.

They’ve closed the drive through (because it’s too cold outside?), so I had to go in. I was not surprised to see a queue of visibly frustrated customers waiting. The angst in the vicinity was palpable.

Armed with prior warning, I was not flapped by this. I brought love and peace. Calmness. Understanding. Smiling. My energy smoothed some of their rough edges, while I accepted the process of waiting.

I enjoyed an added bonus of being able to find someone on my way out, and tell them they had forgotten their insurance card, which I had witnessed the staff fretting over.

Where are we heading?

Oh, yeah. To peace and love.

And better health, too. What an adventure!

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