Relative Something

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

Late Season

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A day away from the calendar start of autumn has us checking out the lake place in transition and it is as glorious as ever this weekend, despite some gray and rainy weather.

We went to dinner last night at the recently reopened restaurant located about a block away from our driveway. The new name is Tavern at White Stag Farm. The atmosphere hints at old European with a delicious menu to match. Fred and Marie treated us in celebration of our anniversary. It was grand!

When we aren’t feasting on luscious meals, we have been competing in mixed teams at the cribbage board game, “CrossCrib®” taking turns claiming bragging rights. This morning will likely bring the challenge for weekend supremacy.

The other excitement has been the close proximity of our resident eagles and their fledglings. They have taken to perching on the pine tree right outside our window.

We have seen the young ones fly, but it appears they may still lack some confidence. They spend a lot of energy being highly vocal on their perch, crying out for something. Research reveals a common training behavior is for the parent eagles to withhold food as an enticement to the fledglings to fly.

That scenario is easy to ascribe to what we have been witnessing.

I can report that the eagles are not bashful about screeching loudly before the sun has broken the horizon.

Maybe they are feeling some urgency to get this flying thing mastered before the fall season ushers in the freezing of the lake where they have been enjoying easy pickings of fish all summer.

Despite the unusually warm temperatures this weekend, there is no denying that the summer of 2019 is behind us now.

Here’s hoping it will soon usher in the bright colors and brisk temperatures of fall.

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Written by johnwhays

September 22, 2019 at 9:22 am

Digging Out

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I’m not confident this is the final chapter of our woodchuck pest, but yesterday I dug out the window well to reclaim our egress space for the basement bedroom. You may recall I posted this image of the early evidence of a burrowing invader making a mess outside the window.

We did eventually enlist the services of a professional with wild animal extraction expertise, but the results weren’t exactly what we had in mind.

Initially, he set a trap across the opening of the hole. When that didn’t do the trick and the displaced sand filled over half the height of the window, he came back and added a second baited trap.

Days passed with little evidence of activity, but one trap tripped. The trail camera he added captured one image of the critter going under the little opening beneath the plastic cover over the window well, so he suggested we block that with a piece of wood.

The plan was to reset the trap one last time with the opening blocked. If there was no activity, we could assume the pest was on the outside and would no longer have access.

While he was setting things up for that last time, Cyndie warned him to be careful of the wasps showing up nearby. He spotted the ground nest a few feet away and offered to take care of it, at a discount, since he was already on site.

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Ultimately, those ended up being the only pests he visibly dispatched.

Yesterday, we noticed he had removed his traps, as planned since there was no additional activity. That was my cue to dig out the well and replace the cover.

I sure wish I could put all that sand back where it came from, but hardly any of it fit back into the hole in the corner. The rest had to be hauled away for use filling various washout voids around the yard.

In the absence of an actual capture, I will not be surprised if new burrowing shows up someplace else around the house.

It’s becoming pretty much the norm around here.

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Written by johnwhays

September 21, 2019 at 10:05 am

Celebration Dinner

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It was a small gathering last night, in terms of usual for a birthday event celebrated by Cyndie’s family. Our two kids and Cyndie’s parents met downtown in Minneapolis for a royal feast at the Melting Pot restaurant for Julian’s birthday dinner.

The fact that it was also Cyndie’s and my 38th wedding anniversary helped to bolster the celebration a couple of notches.

The multiple courses of fondue made for a long meal. I didn’t get around to snapping photos until we were working on dessert because I had been so focused on cooking my own food.

Fred had the best line of the night when he said to the waiter, “My compliments to the chef!”

There were so many flavors being mixed and mingled it was dizzying. Most of the time, I didn’t know what I was eating, but it all tasted mighty good. My entree was a combination of meats that included shrimp, pork, chicken, and beef with a variety of spices. Add in six versions of dipping sauces and the two different flavored cooking oils and I had a good excuse for struggling to identify each bite.

It felt wonderfully celebratory!

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Finally

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First, I want to point out that there are two special things I haven’t forgotten today. Happy Birthday, Julian! And, Happy Anniversary to Cyndie (and me).

One way I know that we have been married a long time: She sent me an email yesterday, announcing she had signed us up for a community education class on Navigating Social Security.

How romantic.

I chose one of her photographs for a new “Words on Images” composition.

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Written by johnwhays

September 19, 2019 at 6:00 am

Mental Mixups

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I’m not sure how a person can know when they are actually at the top of their game, but I have a pretty good idea when I’m not achieving peak performance out of my mind. The shortcomings have come in series for me lately in a repeating pattern that is becoming difficult to miss.

Although, missing things is one of the shortcomings I am noticing. The thing with that is, it makes me suddenly wonder if there are other things I missed when individual errors pop up. It gets my mind all mixed up.

Is any of this related to the song stuck in my head since Sunday morning? While making breakfast that morning, I heard Kris Kristofferson’s version of “Me and Bobby McGee.” Later in the afternoon, while I was mowing the lawn, it was Janis Joplin’s voice “ear-worming” over and over in my mind.

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Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose…

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I found it interesting that my mind jumped to Janis’ version, but not that surprising. It’s the one I’ve heard the most. What seems odd to me is how long it has hung around.

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I’d trade all my tomorrows for one single yesterday…

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Then my poor brain got stretched into next year. Did you know 2020 is a leap year and Christmas will be on a Friday?

(Just to emphasize my point, while writing that, I asked Cyndie if she knew 2020 is a leap year. She said, “You already asked me that an hour ago.”)

One of my challenges with the day-job is the need to function far from the immediate moments and plan the future. Yesterday I was forced to print out a calendar for 2020 to assign dates into January. No wonder my mind gets mixed up.

It’s a wonder I ever know what day it is.

On the way home from work yesterday, I forgot to get gas in the car.

I sure hope I haven’t forgotten anything else important this week.

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No Ropes

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No nets, no map, no ropes, no guarantees. I saved the rented movie, “Free Solo” for Cyndie to see when she got home and I watched it again last night so we could experience the fascinating drama together. It is really a moving portrait of multiple levels of the story about Alex Honnold’s quest to climb El Capitan without ropes.

I’m left with a vivid impression of how the uncertainty dramatically exposed by climbing deadly heights without ropes is present to varying degrees in every moment of our lives. The deadly risks may not be so intense, but the uncertainty is, whether we realize it, or not.

Humans make our plans and celebrate when things go right, but things go wrong just as easily.

I think sports competition for entertainment taps into a relatively safe dance with that uncertainty. Both sides might plan to succeed, but there will always be something to foil the best-laid plans of one of the teams or individuals involved. We, as spectators, can live vicariously through the drama and for a time escape the real-life uncertainties about the outcome of our plans for tomorrow.

Will I make it to work on time? Will the weather be a problem? Will there be a surprise test?

No guarantee, except for the uncertainty. That’s inherent.

A tire could blow out. An unexpected storm could pop up. And, yes, there might be a test. You can use your notes.

I don’t know what we are going to do next with Wintervale Ranch. When this all started, we had a plan, but only a vague map, no ropes, a small net, and definitely no guarantees.

We were free soloing.

The future is uncertain, but the possibilities are enticing.

Watching the documentary of Alex Honnold’s dramatic success at the high-risk endeavor of climbing about 3000 feet (900 m) without ropes to save him if he falls was very inspiring.

We are energized for exploring new opportunities in the year ahead and feeling a heightened awareness of the uncertainties we navigate every day. Since they are always present, it makes sense to fortify our abilities to accept, adapt, and respond to whatever comes our way.

Given a comparison to clinging to a sheer rock face thousands of feet off the ground, coping with our challenges at ground level seems almost harmless.

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Written by johnwhays

September 17, 2019 at 6:00 am

Trailer Appreciation

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Boy am I ever glad to have a trailer for the ATV again. This weekend I put it to good use hauling logs out of the woods and cleaning up failed attempts at round bales in our fields.

The neighbors who rented our fields this summer did not have much success trying to get bales out of it. I feel for them. There never seemed to be enough consecutive dry days to finish the job. Instead, the cut hay got soaked by rain. They tried raking it out in hopes of drying the cut grass, but then it rained on the windrows.

Eventually, they enlisted a beef farmer to claim the wet hay, because cows are a lot less picky about moldy hay. He created some relatively ugly looking round bales, maybe since he was working with old, wet hay. By the time he finally tried picking up the bales and hauling them away, five of them fell apart. He just left those where they lay, creating dead spots in our fields.

I guess that is the land owner’s responsibility.

My first challenge in removing the old piles was forking the heavy, wet, moldy hay into the trailer. The second challenge was figuring out what to do with it. I generally use old hay as natural fill, but none of the many spots where we could use fill are easy to reach.

The worst spot was along our property line behind Cyndie’s perennial garden. Instead of being able to dump the load all at once, I needed to empty the trailer one pitch fork-full at a time, carrying each about 35-yards through an obstacle course of low hanging branches and a single fence wire I needed to duck under.

I only bumped my head about 3-dozen times while making repeated trips in and out.

It is super to have the trailer again, but it doesn’t fill or empty itself automatically and it can’t navigate the obstacle course behind the garden. I guess I wasn’t thinking about how much work I have to do whenever I endeavor to use the trailer.

It has me thinking I should have given more thought to that desire to replace the one Cyndie sold.

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Written by johnwhays

September 16, 2019 at 6:00 am