Relative Something

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

Archive for December 2016

Night Games

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Cyndie’s brother, Ben, and his kids came up to join the fun and quickly set about creating a rink on the lake. After shoveling to create edges, Ben got out a hose and flooded the surface to improve it for skating. With daylight short, the incentive to add lighting was enough to inspire a shopping trip for supplies.dscn5656e

It’s pretty classy. Too bad (said with plenty of sarcasm) I didn’t bring my ice skates.

It has been so long since I skated that the arches of my feet would scream with pain if I suddenly hopped on some blades at this stage of my life.

After helping get things set up and running, I headed inside for warmth and appetizers before dinner. There is no comparison for the comfort of coming inside to food and warmth after acquiring a substantial chill outdoors in the winter.

And appetizers have an extra appeal when one has inadvertently skipped eating lunch earlier in the day. I tagged along with the crowd to town yesterday and sat through an animated feature film in place of a mid-day meal.

The matinée flick didn’t hold a candle to the spy thriller that has been occupying my attention otherwise this week. Watching that has been pretty much the extent of my night games while we’ve been up here.

Today, we head back to the ranch where we will celebrate the dawning of 2017 with our animals.

Good bye, 2016.

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Written by johnwhays

December 31, 2016 at 7:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Vacation Disorientation

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It’s a bit dizzying to compound my vacation escape from routine by also burying myself in a memoir while simultaneously binge-watching a spy thriller 6-episode series. What day is it today? Where am I again? Who am I?

I’m certainly not at Wintervale anymore.

dscn5650eWe are up in the woods of northwest Wisconsin. Yesterday morning, as I was comfortably lingering in bed after waking up, I spotted a deer moving through the trees outside our window. Then there was another, moving slowly across my view, pawing and sniffing at the ground as they went.

As I watched, the first one suddenly laid down for a rest. A while later, more deer moved into view, and one by one, they curled up in the snow by the first deer. Eventually there were five of them, and they ended up spending most of the day there, despite a small bit of activity in and out of the front door of the cabin as the hours passed.

I like that our little nook is a spot they find to be comfortable for spending their day.

Meanwhile, I’m reading Robbie Robertson’s “Testimony” and finding my mind ensconced in the 1960s music scene that he describes. Between chapters, Cyndie’s parents have us watching the short series, “The Night Manager,” which involves lavish views of exotic places where thrilling intrigue is at play.

Of course, I submerge myself in the identity of each leading character, so by the end of the day, I have lost myself to being a mixed up compilation of people who are definitely not me.

It feels a little bit like being on vacation.

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Written by johnwhays

December 30, 2016 at 7:00 am

Sharp Teeth

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Our precious house-sitter, Mckenna, is taking care of our animals for a few days while we have escaped to the lake place for a mini-vacation between Christmas and the New Year. This region received similar weather to what we experienced at home on Sunday, so the terrain is very icy. Cyndie will remain confined to the cabin where she will continue her regimen of exercising her new knee.

I made a brief solo exploration of the properties and shoreline, did a minimum of cleaning the walkways and steps, and then power-lounged in front of the fireplace with a new book. I also played some guitar, sketched a new sculpture idea, and spent time sanding/shaping a work-in-progress with the help of some new jeweler’s loupe magnifying glasses that I got for Christmas.

It was a good start to unwinding for a few days. I could get used to this.

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The lake is almost clean enough to skate. In fact, there were some kids out doing just that on Tuesday afternoon when we arrived. I found a frozen pine cone and a lone fish house on the otherwise desolate ice-scape yesterday.dscn5644e

Arriving to our lagoon, I discovered the handiwork of some busy beavers with very sharp teeth.

It’s wonderful to know we have wildlife this close to our vacation home, but it is devastating to see our trees being destroyed by them.

They probably think the same thing about us when we build our houses along their shoreline.

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Written by johnwhays

December 29, 2016 at 7:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

You

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it’s as if I was trying to see behind me
without turning around
was it something I had passed?
or someone from my past?
maybe someone who had yet to arrive
I expect I could fill in the blanks
the way a mind is prone to do
like what happens with a familiar song
anticipating the next note
even though it might not get played
you don’t see where this is going?
you might want to close the door
there’s a draft
I can feel it blowing
this seems to involve a lot of waiting
where days turn into weeks
and weeks into eventual years
with ongoing periods of restlessness
that speak volumes
making up for other messages
perpetually left unsaid
basically left for dead
like an awkward silence
of the kind that could fill a room
essentially, there is a reason
and I can’t quite grasp it yet
but it keeps coming ‘round
like a season, ‘cept without the usual regrets
a way of doing things
that makes a lot more sense
despite anything else going on around us
a snapshot of a moment in time
maybe one just behind us
fleeting, and completely sublime
but important
in a particular way
filled with sound and exceptional color
saturated and brilliant
like the most vivid of dreams
the kind of dreams that can happen
beyond just wishing they were true
even though they almost never do
unless we finally decide to stop
and turn around
to see if it’s really you

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Written by johnwhays

December 28, 2016 at 7:00 am

Posted in Creative Writing

Tagged with , ,

Not Fun

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You know that part about me driving multiple times to Cyndie’s parent’s house for Christmas events? Didn’t happen. Chalk this one up as “Worst. Christmas. Ever.” for me. At least I didn’t have any problems with trying not to fall asleep behind the wheel.

A dastardly nasty spell of weather foiled my best intentions. We experienced sleet, rain, freezing fog, lightning, thunder, heavy rain, and as a cherry on top, high winds with scarily intense gusts. My Christmas was spent home alone. I might as well have been a character in the movie.

Knowing the impending freezing rainstorm would wreak havoc on roads, we headed out on Christmas eve prepared for Cyndie to stay the night at her folks’ house. I drowsily made my way home through the beginnings of the freezing mist on Saturday night so I could take care of Delilah and the horses.

Sunday morning dawned with a perfect glazing over everything, quickly convincing me I wouldn’t be trying to drive to the cities for the grand gift exchange extravaganza that Cyndie’s family executes with incredible flair. Actually, it was Delilah who convinced me, as she did an immediate slipping-on-a-banana-peel spill off the front steps before she realized the hazardous conditions.

I could have tried to warn her better, but we all know she wouldn’t have listened.

The horses were way out in the hay-field, happily grazing through the snow, so I left them out in the mist for much of the day. The temperature actually climbed a bit, melting some of the glaze by afternoon, but you couldn’t see the difference between frozen and not, which made it doubly dangerous.

I navigated my way around our property by changing my gait to something that looked like I had aged several decades over night. Even with that adjustment, there were still frequent moments of heart pounding panic as I’d catch myself from going ass over teakettle.

By the time it had turned to real rain and become obvious that I needed to get the horses inside for the night, I was fighting both them and the elements to accomplish the task. They stayed out in the field while I prepared their evening feed in the stalls. They made me trudge out in the soaking wet to guide them back to the barn.

The wind howled something awful all night long, making my longed-for uninterrupted night’s sleep an impossibility. At some point around zero dark thirty I figured out the spooky clunk that kept occurring was from a bird feeder hitting the house outside the bedroom. I wasn’t about to get out of bed to do anything about it at that hour, and in that wind, so I just had to get used to the sound enough to ignore it and get back to something close to restful sleep.dscn5630e

Yesterday morning presented with a diabolical combination of standing water (much of it hidden beneath cover of snow), freezing temperatures, and continued strong winds. The slopes around the barn were coated with very slippery ice. I tried spreading sand over them before offering Legacy a chance to bring his herd out for the day. He stopped and surveyed the surroundings, put his nose down to the icy surface, and then turned around to lead me right back into his stall.

They would spend the day indoors.

Cyndie ended up spending another night at her parent’s house. Delilah did well with the crazy weather, too confused by the inclusion of thunder in December to even bark at it. She happily agreed with me to cut our walks to the shortest distance necessary. She and Pequenita became my silent companions, waiting out what nature was serving up, clueless to the joyous family gatherings I was missing.

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She braved the gales with me to inspect the drainage ditch that is backed up a bit with a mixture of snow and water.

It’s going to take some time to get back to decent snow conditions around here, but probably not as long as it will take for me to quit moping about my sad fate this holiday. Only 363 days until I get a chance to replace this year’s Christmas memories with new ones.

Here’s hoping we end up with better weather next year.

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Written by johnwhays

December 27, 2016 at 7:00 am

Sleep Deprived

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crafted
by the last thing I remember
in the microseconds
before I would inevitably forget
there was pure nothing
absolute nothing
which is something
in an unlikely sort of way
rapid deceleration
smiling wryly
in my general direction
placid attitudes
with no reason to be
wordless wonderings
wandering aimlessly
waiting weightlessly
beneath whatever was lying around
dripping delicately
the way vague ideas do
blowing in with little momentum
to fill a void
that never really existed
a transaction of inevitability
forged rather forcefully
from fashionably feasible concepts
intercepted unexpectedly
in the final hours before dawn
when babies are prone to cry
and sleep suddenly goes b’bye
acting in nobody’s better interests
one passing moment at a time
the thing that was never there
disappears rapidly
suddenly filling what was once
only mostly
nothing but thin air

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Written by johnwhays

December 26, 2016 at 7:00 am

Merry Christmas

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DSC02561merrychristmas.

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Written by johnwhays

December 25, 2016 at 7:00 am

Sticky Mess

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Sure, it’s beautiful, but it was a sticky, wet mess of a snowfall yesterday. Today’s episode of the ongoing saga that is our adventures on the ranch involves wet horses, warm winter precipitation, Christmas preparations, and knee replacement recovery.

Who could this be?

dscn5628eWhy, it’s none other than our stoic herd leader, Legacy. The wet snow had given his long winter coat a curly design that called out to me for a close-up photograph. I find it interesting that so many of his little ringlets contain a strand of color.

A first impression generally perceives him as a white horse, but he does have a subtle distribution of color to him.

I was walking Delilah around the perimeter of the hay-field fence and the horses were out standing in the wet precipitation in the far distance of the field. The horses are well familiar with our routine of trekking this path and most days pay us little attention. Yesterday, at a moment of pause for Delilah to bury her nose in the snow in search of some potential snack, I noticed Cayenne’s energy kick up a bit toward us.

dscn5626eI stepped up to the fence and invited them over, and to my surprise, they came! It is funny how Legacy reacts to these situations, as Cayenne was definitely the instigator and leading the way, but he makes sure to get right on her flank as leader and protector.

When they have closed the distance, he takes command and steps up to make first contact. The other three obediently concede his authority and stay back a length or two.

We visited for a bit and I took pictures of them. Then it was time to move on with Delilah and the herd responded immediately to my movement by turning and running off through the snow back to the fence line in the distance from which they had come. It was a gorgeous visual, their playful equine energy gallivanting away through the falling wet flakes.

They knew what was on the other end of Delilah’s and my little walk. We completed our loop and made our way back to the barn to do the daily afternoon housekeeping, serve up pans of feed, and refill the hay boxes.

I decided to wait out the falling wet snow before starting the plowing and shoveling routine, so spent the afternoon wrapping Christmas gifts and doing laundry. Cyndie had her last in-home physical therapy session and achieved the milestone of reaching 120° bend on the leg with the new knee. She has completely ditched the walker and is getting around with just a cane.

She went on her first outing last night to a Christmas party of the Wildwood Lodge Club clan, the community of families with vacation homes on Big Round Lake near Hayward, WI.

I can see some light at the end of the tunnel of full responsibility for chores around here, and none too soon. I am exhausted. I think the horses miss seeing Cyndie, and I have to admit, I’m growing tired of being their primary caregiver. It’s a bit much when I am also working full-time an hour’s drive away. Add in the requirement of walking Delilah several times a day and my candle is burning at all three ends.

Happily, Cyndie is active again in the kitchen, so at least I’m no longer needing to pretend I have skills there. The next two days will be a whirlwind of driving to and fro from the ranch to Cyndie’s parents’ house for Christmas events.

I hope I can stay awake behind the wheel.

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Written by johnwhays

December 24, 2016 at 8:08 am

Remembering Clarity

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I’m trying to remember what clarity is like. It seems like it was a long time ago that I last experienced a moment of clarity. Lately, everything is a combination of spider webs and fog interspersed with moments of wind whipped precipitation and hours of lost sleep.

Not lost as in, I don’t know where I put it, but the kind of lost which I can never get back. It’s gone. No longer exists.

dscn5608eBut I can make more. There is more where that came from.

Don’t worry. Even Delilah is confused by all this.

She can’t figure out why I’m not getting over that moment of her violating the sanctity of my dinner plate. If I thought she could understand, I’d explain that it’s because I don’t want to get over it.

Our dog is now facing a new regimen of training in which I re-establish my dominance over her.

I’m not confident that she is putting 2 and 2 together, but I do know that she understands what I’m after when I demand she lay down and let me straddle her and stand very purposefully. She does not want to give up her power without a fair amount of resistance. Outlasting her is one thing that I may not have enough patience for.

I tend to think of myself as a patient man, but I’m finding out there are some situations to which that doesn’t apply.

Or maybe it’s just hampered by a lack of clarity.

I’m hoping that a few nights of decent sleep might produce a new dose of that forgotten clarity. Now, if I could just remember how it was that I got a decent night’s sleep.

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Written by johnwhays

December 23, 2016 at 7:00 am

Trimming Time

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dscn5609eAfter last week’s extremely cold weather, the swing of about 60° in the direction of warmer yesterday made our decision of waiting until this week to trim the horses’ hooves seem like a brilliant one. I thought Legacy looked particularly more limber than his usual self and credited it to the warmer temperatures.

Who doesn’t feel less tensed up when first day of winter turns out to be a melty, well-above freezing temperatures day?

Unfortunately this warm up comes with a threat of rain and some thunder in the days ahead, and for some areas near the Mississippi river, a flood warning!

What will they think of next?

George made quick work of the 16 hooves and Anneliese helped me finish the housekeeping in the space beneath the overhang. We were done before the sky turned dark. Pretty impressive for the shortest day of light.

dscn5614eFrom here on through winter, the days will be getting longer. I don’t know about warmer or colder, but they will definitely be getting longer.

Hopefully, they won’t get colder right away. Something is up with our geothermal heating system such that it doesn’t seem to be able to reach the set point.

During the cold snap, it was logical that it couldn’t keep up, but now that it has gotten so much warmer outside, the furnace shouldn’t have to work so hard.

Desirea shows off her new hoof-icure while munching from the slow feeder.

I think the horses are happy to have their blankets off. We’ll see what they think in a few days when rain, not snow, comes down from the sky.

Happy winter!

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Written by johnwhays

December 22, 2016 at 7:00 am