Relative Something

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

Early Light

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While the intense winter storm that moved out of Texas is pummeling the Carolinas and Virginia this morning, our region is bathed in calm. The air was so quiet this morning, I felt compelled to open the gate in the paddock by delicately palming the chains to avoid the usual clatter of metal on metal, while I was whispering greetings of love to the horses.

It was a perfectly brisk winter morning, but not biting cold. The chickens put in extra energy to balance on one foot, picking up the other and tucking it in their feathers to protect from the frozen tundra. The horses had frost on their whiskers, but otherwise look completely acclimated to the season of long nights.

They are contentedly munching on morning rations in that image, while the first rays of sunshine begin to paint their sides with a promise of warmth to come.

Hello, sun!

Our day will be filled with holiday projects, Cyndie in the kitchen, baking so many varieties of Christmas cookies it makes me dizzy with visions of sugar. I will be in the shop, putting sandpaper to wood, between making appearances in the house to be sociable with our kids and other family and friends who have expressed intention of showing up to be present for the great holiday bake-athon.

Every cookie I can convince them to take home with them will be one less for me to avoid.

The fire is radiating in the fireplace and the colored lights are on the tree.

Bring on the day!


Written by johnwhays

December 9, 2018 at 10:41 am

Lone Straggler

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Apparently, a pattern is developing with one of our Buff Orpingtons, that she lags behind the group when it comes time to return to the coop for the night. Cyndie describes a funny scene that happened the other night when she was feeding and cleaning up after the horses.

The chickens tend to congregate under the overhang at times, but we don’t want them in the barn, so it becomes an added hassle to navigate the door while going in and out during chores when they are present. Cyndie had shooshed them out, but one Buff stayed after the others wandered off toward the coop.

After the sun had disappeared below the horizon, that Buff showed signs of wanting to return to the coop, but acted rather timid about trekking through the snow to get there. She would get only so far and turn and run back to the preferred confines with the horses under the overhang… several times.

Cyndie finally made the trip herself, and had to coax the hen to follow her the whole way.

Silly bird.

Last night, I went down to shut the chicken door for the evening, and when I got there in the dim light of dusk, it was all quiet, but for occasional sleepy cooing from inside. I spent an extra minute or two clearing the track for the door so it would slide all the way, and that was enough time to give me the feeling all was settled in there for the night.

It was a pleasantly quiet time and the fading gradient of orange glow transitioning to blue-black of night on the horizon was gorgeous. I was just about to head back to the house when my conscience urged me to truly confirm all were present and accounted for before leaving.

Thank goodness for that.

I opened the big door to peek in and counted eight bundles of feathers. Luckily, in the low light remaining, I could tell it was a Buff that was missing. Not thinking of Cyndie’s recent tale, I feared the worst. I had already lingered long enough to know she wasn’t anywhere near the coop. 

Where would I look for her body, I wondered.

I stepped away from the coop, toward the barn, and what do I find?

That lone straggler timidly trying to decide if she wanted to walk all the way back to the coop all by herself. Silly bird.

I can’t help thinking how sad it would have been for her to finally make it all the way, only to find the door sealed for the night, if I had dashed back to the house without looking inside to count them first.



Written by johnwhays

December 8, 2018 at 9:40 am

Cyndie’s Shots

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Cyndie has always been incredibly generous about allowing me to post photos she has taken. Lest there ever be doubt, I add her name to the bottom right corner of images of hers that I use.

On my way home from work yesterday, I received a series of images texted from Cyndie that reflect scenes she had captured during the day.

“Why, yes, I’d love to use them!”

First off, this fascinating shot reveals that a couple of deer decided to lay down in the middle of a trail, for a long enough time that they melted the snow all the way down to the ground.


That’s a first. With all the excellent cover available, these two chose a large clearing for their naps. Must be feeling plenty safe on our property.

Notice what a difference a few days makes with regard to the snow sticking to the trees. Scroll down a couple of posts and compare this shot with the two I posted a couple of days ago.

There is still plenty of snow out in the fields. Cyndie framed up this gorgeous view of snow drifting around a culvert.

Delilah looks so stoic as an accent to the shadow and shapes below her. I love the perspective of different elevation this provides.

Finally, there is this beautiful sunset.

If you can make out the chicken coop in the distance, the low sun is shining through it such that it looks like a light is on in there.

It’s fair to say that Cyndie has probably contributed more pictures to this blog in the last year than I have.

For that, I am extremely grateful. Thank you, C!



Written by johnwhays

December 7, 2018 at 7:00 am

Revisiting Notes

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All sorts of gems are hidden in the archives of Relative Something posts, and last night I uncovered a jewel to repost today. As exciting as my day yesterday was, what with my landing an appointment with a Craigslist buyer to stop by and make another decluttering purchase, and our new favorite tractor tire repairman showing up to finish the other tire (Yay!), none of it blossomed into a bigger story for me.

The single sentence above easily wrapped up the significant events of the day.

Well, I found a “Words on Images” creation from early 2014 that should fill in nicely, aligning with the oncoming bout of cold and sunny winter-like weather on tap for the next few days here.

In honor of the cat mention included in my poem below, I’m throwing in this bonus picture that Cyndie recently took of Pequenita behaving like royalty on Cyndie’s pillow.





Words on Images



Written by johnwhays

December 6, 2018 at 7:00 am

Two Trails

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Did I mention how beautiful the weekend sticky snowfall was? See for yourself.

Which trail would you choose?

Heading south?

Or heading north?

I love the extremity of contrast between scenes like these, compared to how these woods look in the summer.

We aren’t teasing when we brag about doing all four seasons of the year around these parts.



Written by johnwhays

December 5, 2018 at 7:00 am

Flat Fix

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I found out how to get the tractor with a flat, fluid-filled tire out of the garage… Yesterday afternoon, I got a call at work from the guy I had contacted to solve my tire problem. He asked me if I still needed the repair done.

After assuring him I did, and that I was anxiously awaiting his opportunity to show up, he told me he was standing outside my garage, wondering how to get in.

From my workplace, an hour away, I was able to direct him to the button for the garage door opener. I then contacted Cyndie, who was busy on another phone call inside our house. She later told me that Delilah was barking incessantly at the strange truck in the driveway, but Cyndie needed to finish her call.

She was eventually able to get out there and move the ATV out of the way, so the guy could work on the tractor. He didn’t want to make a big mess in the garage, so, he opted to make just a little mess and simply drove the tractor on that flat tire to get it outside.

Why didn’t I think of that?

Oh, probably because I know next to nothing about large tractor tires.

I wish I had been there to watch him work, so I could learn more about what’s involved. Even though I left work as soon as possible after finding out he was ready to do the fix, by the time I pulled up the driveway, he had already finished all the work, parked the tractor back in the garage, closed the door, and was in his truck writing up the invoice.

If the timing is right, I may have another chance to witness the process. He didn’t have enough of the non-corrosive fluid to change out the caustic calcium chloride in the other rear tire, so he will need to return later this week, if circumstance allows. He told me it depends on whether the local farmers get back into their fields to finish combining the corn that is still standing.

Tractors that develop tire problems during harvest get the highest priority attention, and automatically move jobs like mine down the list to be dealt with later.

If I get lucky, maybe he will show up on Friday, when I’m at home. I’d like to see how he breaks the seal, pulls out the old tube, and then gets the new one in and filled with both fluid and a little air.

This is a long way from changing a flat on a bicycle, that’s for sure.



Two Perspectives

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This weekend’s snowfall was certainly a pretty one. There was an interesting combination of stickiness and blowing. The tops of the trees didn’t hold the snow, but the lower trunks and branches sure did.

If you’ve watched my photographic tendencies for a few years, you are probably familiar with my penchant for close, full-frame images, as well as my pattern of including one feature for accent.

Especially, leaves.

This little specimen was irresistible for the fabulous character of the fancy edges.

That wonderful leaf caught my attention because of the way it blew across the top of the snow and then just settled down in this spot, as if it was waiting for me to take the picture.

Thankfully, it stayed around long enough for me to capture it from a second perspective, which brings those fancy edges to life with added dimension.

I don’t think these two should ever be displayed one without the other. Two wonderful perspectives on one fancy leaf.



Written by johnwhays

December 3, 2018 at 7:00 am