Relative Something

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

Rainbow

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words on Images

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Written by johnwhays

July 16, 2018 at 6:00 am

Pushing Back

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Cyndie put in a heroic effort yesterday to win back our river stone patio on the side of our house. The ground cover growth had overtaken the surface with such gusto that it looked like our property had been abandoned.

Our summer weather has been very friendly to growing plants this year, both the wanted and the unwanted.

I pulled in the driveway after work one day last week and came upon a curious row of garbage bags filled with plant remains. My first thought was, now what?

Earlier in the summer, after our visit from the regional DNR Forester who taught us about the importance of controlling the invasive garlic mustard, Cyndie did a super job of focussed eradication. He emphasized the requirement of bagging and discarding the plants that have been pulled from the ground, because if you leave them lay, they will simply put down roots and regenerate. So bag them, she did.

I was going to be shocked if this large new collection of bagged detritus lined up on our driveway was from a previously undiscovered patch of garlic mustard.

Upon my inquiry, Cyndie described thinking she was just going to pull out some wayward unwanted growth under the pine trees in our front yard. Turned out to be a massive woven web that went on and on and became a full-fledged landscaping project in its own right.

To be safe, based on what we learned about the garlic mustard, she decided to bag it, just in case.

Yesterday’s growth wasn’t so threatening, just prolific in an open area of river stones.

Luckily, the recent heavy rain (3-inches on Thursday) has softened the soil to ease the extraction of unwanted growth. Cyndie produced impressive results reclaiming our patio area in the high heat of a classic July day yesterday.

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Written by johnwhays

July 15, 2018 at 9:56 am

Shadow Gradient

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An image I found interesting.

Just because.

Feel free to interpret as a statement on right vs. wrong, or the oppression of the masses, or our cosmic inconsequence in the universe, or a celebration of the marriage of nature and industry, or the wonders of color and time.

But really, it’s just a picture of shadows I thought looked interesting.

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Written by johnwhays

July 14, 2018 at 8:00 am

Sibling Dinner

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My Hays siblings don’t gather often, but whenever we are all able to be in one place at the same time, it’s a real treat. Last night, we met at Elliott and Wendy’s house in Richfield for dinner.

The weather was HOT and HUMID at the beginning of the evening, but just as the grill was getting ready for cooking, heavy rain began to fall and that cooled things off a little. Elliott braved the downpour, beneath his hanging umbrella over the grill, and prepared chicken and burgers. The rest of us were to bring the sides.

The delicious coleslaw and a spicy white corn concoction that Judy and Mary brought were dwarfed by the massive collection of desserts that they and Cyndie laid out on the table.

It ended up being a little dinner, and a LOT of dessert.

I particularly enjoyed some of the reminiscing about the different memories of mealtimes when we were young. I asked if there was pressure to clean our plates, because I don’t remember any, yet have always tended toward that behavior. Apparently, there was some history there. Mary recalled Auntie Kay was one source of that message.

I remember our father at mealtimes asking if there was a fire, or “Where’s the fire?” in the sideways manner of getting us to notice how fast we were eating. Elliott said that eating fast offered the best chance of getting any seconds.

It’s been a heck of a lot of years since we were all kids eating around the same table, but for a few minutes last night, I enjoyed a glimmer of some of those times with my brothers and sisters.

I feel very lucky to have such wonderful siblings.

What’s not to like? They remind me, in so many ways, of me.

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Written by johnwhays

July 13, 2018 at 6:00 am

Great Indoors

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You know the saying. It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity. I don’t know what phenomena might be pushing the local dew point temperatures to extremely tropical levels, but it is driving our heat index into the triple digits again. I’m not a fan.

At the same time, I really don’t have much to gripe about. The workplace indoor temperatures are air-conditioned down to a level that keeps my arms cold all day in a short-sleeved shirt. From there, I step out to my car and turn on the AC for the long drive home. Our house is perfectly comfortable with the geothermal system making great use of that constant underground temperature in the upper 50s(F).

Of course, this works because I’m done with the time sensitive chores outside, enabling me to pick and choose whether I’ll go out and deal with the immediate elements, or avoid them.

It makes it difficult to pay true attention to the present moment. I’m off in some other world, down a maze of insignificant Reddit posts like hatted cats pawing attention-getting bells to trigger repeated delivery of a treat, or highlight videos of soccer players tangling for a header where one uprights the other and then guides his flip to a full rotation that lands the opponent upright again before ever crashing to the ground.

Cute, but basically mindless, compared with what is available in and around the space where I’m breathing.

Yesterday evening, I was describing my June week of biking and camping to a visitor and reminded myself of how in-the-moment that activity can be. We are out in the elements all day, sleeping on the ground in tents all night. Breathing the air, inhaling the scents, hearing the birds and freight trains.

We notice everything about the wind.

When I’m not biking, I pay no attention to what direction the wind is blowing. Why do I neglect to notice?

My habit of not truly being fully present in a moment allows for obliviousness to that kind of detail. My mind can wander to expectations of watching the World Cup final on Sunday, or mulling over imagined reasons why our 4 acres of hay-field have yet to be cut by the neighbor who, back in the beginning of June, volunteered so to do.

In my comfortable car during the long commute, lately I’ve been listening to deep cuts from my library of music, allowing it to carry me off to distant rekindled memories or fantasies of mastering my own version of various enticing songs.

I’m thankful I don’t have to be out in the heat, but at the same time, I regret how my avoidance accommodates a distancing from the realities of the present moment.

I take some solace in having just sweated through every layer of several sets of grubby clothes over the recent three days of heaving hundreds of hay bales. We were reasonably enmeshed in the moment for those hours of each day.

There is some balance there… and, always an opportunity to strive for better attention to the immediate pleasures of the artificial environment of a comfortably conditioned “great indoors.”

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Hay’s In

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This year we accomplished our goal in three days. The hay is in. I’m ready for winter.

On the left side of that image, in the front you can see remaining bales from last year. Behind it are the new grass bales just stacked. On the right are the new bales we stacked on Sunday and Monday, from a second source. Those bales have a rougher mixture of stemmed grasses, which our horses showed strong interest for last year.

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Working early in the morning yesterday presented a nice change to throwing bales at the end of the day. Stacking to the top of the shed however, ended up being just as hot and sweaty as doing it in the late afternoon on the two previous days.

We hadn’t opened the chicken door on the coop yet, so Delilah was able to hang out with us while we worked. When the chickens are roaming about, we don’t leave Delilah unsupervised, as she has a history of breaking her leash to reach the irresistible teasers.

If our full attention isn’t directly on her, she has a tendency to violate her restraining order.

We collect all the sweepings that fall from the bales to provide the horses a taste test of the menu they will be served for the next year.

I’m told there were no complaints.

That means a lot to us after the year our horses resolutely refused to eat bales we bought from a third source.

Imagine how it feels to have food we offer rejected after the strenuous effort to transport and stack a season’s worth in the high heat and humidity of summer.

Today, we are breathing a sigh of relief over having the hardest part of this chore behind us for another year.

Now, how long ’til it starts to snow?

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Written by johnwhays

July 11, 2018 at 6:00 am

Double Day

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When it’s hay season and you own horses, filling your shed with bales claims a big chunk of time and attention. After a full shift at the day-job yesterday, our priority quickly reoriented to the physically taxing effort of picking up hay bales from two of our main suppliers, one right after the other.

On Sunday evening, we hauled and then stacked a hundred bales from our first source. Yesterday, we started the last half of our “work” day with a trip to our second source to pick up one hundred of his bales. As soon as we had unloaded and stacked that batch in our shed, we headed out again to revisit our first source for one hundred more.

Once we reached home with that load, we took a short break to eat dinner. Cyndie’s brilliant preplanning to fill the slow cooker with chicken cacciatore in the morning, allowed us to enjoy an instant meal with little in the way of immediate preparation.

After some food, it was time to unload and stack the final hundred.

It was hot, sweaty, exhausting work. The hay shrapnel ends up everywhere, especially stuck to sweating skin. The dust triggers Cyndie’s allergic reactions.

The fatigue increases and the stack of bales gets higher to climb, both at the same time.

The joy of completing the task is amplified by the visual of now having enough food for the horses to last most of the year. There’s just one more load needed, and based on the time our supplier was available, we are setting out first thing this morning to do another hundred bales.

I’m not tired. You’re tired.

Last night, after we finished, Cayenne came over to offer me a nuzzle of thanks for our efforts.

The horses seem as happy as we are, seeing all these bales showing up to fill the hay shed.

Cyndie and I will be happier still, when the intense effort is behind us and we can return to our more typical leisurely pace around here.

That’s “leisure,” in a relative sense, of course.

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Written by johnwhays

July 10, 2018 at 6:00 am