Relative Something

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

Different Perspective

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I am thoroughly enjoying the heavy radio and television programming that has been focusing attention on the Apollo 11 mission to the moon fifty years ago this month. Last night it started with PBS NOVA episode 18, “Apollo’s Daring Mission” which tells the story of Apollo 8 that set the stage for the moon mission to follow.

Those who have had the privilege of flying in airplanes know the sensation of gaining a new perspective about the places we live from above. Just imagine what it was like for the astronauts looking back at the entire planet earth.

After that program, we watched “8 Days: to the Moon and Back,” a fascinating recreation of the Apollo 11 mission using actual recorded audio between and among the astronauts and Houston Control.

I was only ten years old when man landed on the moon. Reliving the experience fifty years later provided a different perspective for me that was significantly more informed.

What an amazing accomplishment that happened in my lifetime. I wonder if I’ll be alive when someone eventually lands on Mars.

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Written by johnwhays

July 18, 2019 at 6:00 am

Angry Skies

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When I opened the door to take Delilah for a walk yesterday afternoon, the sound of endlessly recurring thunder from the southern horizon instantly notched up her excitement to 11. She wasn’t sure what to do with the fact it didn’t end. The rumbles just kept rolling over, one on top of the other.

Our assessment of the tipped tree across one of the trails in the woods was akin to the old “We will rebuild” memes with a lawn chair tipped over post-earthquake.

Removal of this hazard will barely require the chainsaw, but that is not a complaint. Not by any means. I am thrilled this is the worst we suffered. The bigger tree leaning from the right side of that image is from our neighbor’s property and it was blown over in a previous storm. I will probably tend to that at the same time I get around to dealing with the little one across the trail.

It is wet enough around here again that the mosquitoes have become a nuisance that will make lumberjacking a less pleasant endeavor. There may be a rudimentary trim that happens in the short term, leaving the ultimate cleanup for more inviting fall-like weather in a couple of months.

The chickens were undisturbed about the angry sky rumbling almost overhead and came out of the tall grass to be sociable when I stopped by to pick eggs.

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The cut fields from last weekend haven’t even been raked into windrows yet. They just haven’t caught a break this summer for getting enough consecutive rain-free days to allow the grass to dry sufficiently for baling. It’s really sad to watch. I would really be suffering emotionally if we were depending on it to feed horses.

I can’t imagine how all the others who need hay are dealing with it this summer.

By luck, our fields were missed by the round of cloudbursts that moved past just to our south yesterday, but chances don’t look promising for later today.

The angry skies seem to echo the vibrations coming from my news radio covering U.S. politics.

Boy, do I miss blue skies, dry days, sunshine, and benevolent leadership.

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Written by johnwhays

July 17, 2019 at 6:00 am

Free Show

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Nature put on quite a show last night. We swung from oppressive heat and humidity in the afternoon to a sky-mazing thunderstorm that moved in with such darkness it got the chickens to enter the coop an hour early. Well, full disclosure: it took a little coercion from Cyndie to get the last two to move inside because there was still a sliver of daylight visible in the sky, opposite the direction from which the storm was approaching.

They weren’t all being fooled.

Cyndie dashed back in the house just before the full force of the deluge began to pound down. We received about an inch and a half of rain in roughly an hour’s time.

From inside the house, it was unclear how severe the wind gusted, but there was enough to open a rare, but not unprecedented, leak over the toilet in the bathroom. Only certain combinations of wind and water trigger that short-lived breach of our shingles.

Earlier, Cyndie had already reported the dramatic storm that rolled over us on Sunday night (which I successfully slept through) had tipped a tree that is now leaning across the west border trail in our woods. There will need to be additional reconnaissance later today to check for even newer toppled trees or branches from this storm.

During the roar of the downpour, it was hard to hear how much thunder there was, but based on Delilah’s reaction, it was occurring regularly. After the rain stopped, it seemed like the lightning and thunder became more intense. I know the dog’s barking sure did.

As the sun sank closer to the horizon, the back side of the storm clouds moved clear to allow for a nice double rainbow. At the time, there were still some spectacular flashes of lightning happening, so it provided quite a visual splendor.

The rain brought down the temperature to a more comfortable level, but the humidity still lingered. Unfortunately, our normally wonderful geothermal AC system is displaying a fault that showed up before bedtime, so we opened up the windows for the relatively fresh overnight air.

The storm offered a dramatic weather show for free, but I don’t think the AC service call today will produce anywhere near that kind of a bargain.

Frankly, though, when the weather is oppressively uncomfortable, functioning air conditioning almost always seems worth the expense.

A bargain at any cost, you might say.

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Written by johnwhays

July 16, 2019 at 6:00 am

We’re Humans

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Sometimes I imagine that it’s possible a time will come when everyone will understand the same realities. I suspect the ultimate truth will have something to do with love and the fact that “we all do better when we all do better.” (Paul Wellstone quote)

With the recent run of media reliving the Apollo 11 moon landing fifty years ago, I’ve been enjoying the glimpses of the worldwide reaction over the accomplishment. During the subsequent promotional tour that NASA scheduled, the astronauts reported a common reaction from people of all the countries they visited.

The throngs of well-wishers weren’t just focused on what the astronauts did. The common chant was, “We did it!” It was commonly seen as something that humans did to escape the bonds of earth and set foot on a different celestial perch.

Here’s to a day when all humans finally realize we truly are one.

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Written by johnwhays

July 15, 2019 at 6:00 am

Beyond Mowing

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The time of mowing is upon us in multiple ways. Beyond the usual routine of cutting our lawn grass, the big tractors are finally hitting the local fields to cut hay. The neighbors who are renting our fields knocked down the tall grass in opposite corners of our property recently, leaving a very noticeable line of uncut growth along the fenceline that Cyndie tackled with our power trimmer.

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Despite all the mowing going on, Cyndie continues to pull off a heroic amount of raspberry picking which naturally led to canning jam. Since she was going to be in that canning mode, she also made a trip to a local strawberry grower to pick a bulk of that jam favorite, as well as a stop at the grocery store for a couple of bags of cherries.

Even though canning jam deserves to be a single focus task, Cyndie chose to merge it with preparations to drive to Northfield, MN, for a mini-reunion with visiting Hays relatives. There, we uncovered a treasure trove in my sister Mary’s files of family newsletters from the days before the internet took over communication.

I don’t remember writing all those annual reports detailing our children’s school years, but reading back over those missives now gives me the impression I have been writing the equivalent of this daily blog for longer than just the ten years I’ve been posting here on Relative Something. In fact, the old family newsletter was called, “Relatively Speakin’.”

Seems to be a certain congruency there, no?

Who knows what lies ahead for this relative crew? It won’t surprise me if it ends up involving less mowing, but I doubt I will ever stop writing about whatever is happening in all of our lives.

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Written by johnwhays

July 14, 2019 at 9:55 am

Still Missing

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Not a day goes by that we aren’t still missing our horses. Yesterday, I spent a little time tending to residual piles of manure. The urgency to deal with it every single day is gone since there is no longer a need to make space for more. I also find myself avoiding dealing with it because it so obviously reminds me of the absence of our equine partners.

There was quite a large accumulation inside the paddock left over from winter that I was planning to convert into a high spot over a drain tile that I didn’t want the horses to collapse from walking over it when the ground was soft. The chickens are doing their darndest to spread it flat, so I have given up on maintaining a pile that will “cook” to compost and am just spreading it out to dry.

There were some huge grub worms in there that the chickens gladly feasted on while I was raking it out. They only last so long out in the bright sunshine before suddenly sprinting off to the wooded shade for a break. After they cool off a bit, they come out for another round of ugly looking grubs, then run off again.

Eventually, I took the hint and moved to reshape some of the leftover composting manure under the shade for them. They appreciated the wealth of smaller worms and centipedes to be found in the piles I moved there.

Standing out in the vacant paddocks now is disconcerting. The encroachment of weeds and tall grass gives an impression of neglect that seems so very out of place. I suppose I will mow it down eventually.

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We are still really, really missing our horses.

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Written by johnwhays

July 13, 2019 at 9:09 am

Yeah, Summer

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Here’s the thing about summer: it’s not a thing. It’s not one thing. It’s a constant transition from spring to fall. You don’t get dandelions and corn on the cob all at the same time. There are cool days that feel totally out of season and oppressively hot and humid days that bookend the cool ones.

Maybe that is why it seems difficult to do summer justice at any given moment. Summer is a whole lot of moments.

Flower blossoms radiate for a limited number of days before they begin to fade in color and lose their shape.

Already, the earlier sunset is noticeable. County fairs produce thoughts of the summer-ending Minnesota State Fair. Plans are being considered for shopping back-to-school sales. We may as well start preparing our Halloween costumes and Thanksgiving menu. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

That’s just about how fast it feels.

Don’t blink.

My bike trip is history. The birthday has come and gone. The fourth of July has passed. How long will the rest of the summer last?

We need to pay attention to something summery every single day for the next two months.

Summer will last just as long as it lasts. I plan to notice it in its entirety.

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Written by johnwhays

July 12, 2019 at 6:00 am