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

Archive for August 2018

Karmic Humility

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Today is Friday, so I was able to sleep in because I don’t commute to the day-job on Fridays. The final minutes of my slumber this morning were filled with a dream about our cattle.

We don’t have any cattle.

Made me think of the saying, “all hat, no cattle.”

I would have said I was dreaming about cows, but after the great escape and tromping of our property by our neighbor’s bovine ten earlier this summer, we learned he didn’t have cows. His herd was all steers, so the term to use was, cattle.

I’m thinking my mind was dreaming of cattle to distract me from what is stabbing me in the back during my waking hours these last two days: degenerating discs again.

In a twist of karmic humility, instead of boasting about the progress of five consecutive months of daily plank exercises, I find myself focused on a debilitating flare up of stabbing back pains. The precious positive thread woven into this tale is the noticeable difference in level of disruption this time. I truly believe it is the result of the strength built up in my core from my string of consecutive days of planking.

When my series of painful back injuries were diagnosed as degenerating disc disease years ago, I was given a regimen of recommended exercises to treat the symptoms. The easiest was to walk a half an hour a day. Stretching and plank exercises were also advised. 

I was all about the walking, but the exercises weren’t activities that I easily maintained.

Oddly enough, it wasn’t my degenerating discs that inspired my decision to finally get serious about planking. It was more about vanity. I was unhappy that none of my healthy efforts ever seemed to put a dent in the paunch and love handles that graced my midsection.

Cutting the amount of sugar in my daily diet had gone a long way to trim out my overall plumpness, but that classic paunch persisted.

I also credit the annual Tour of Minnesota bike trip for inspiring me to plank. Knowing I was at a risk of not having enough opportunities to bike in preparation for the mid-June trip, I decided to try planking every day in April to at least build up my core strength.

My butt might not be ready for the trip, but the rest of me would be resilient and strong. Knowing that planking was also advised to ward off back problems did help maintain my motivation at the time. Who wants to bike all day and sleep on the ground at night with an ailing back?

So, I succeeded in planking all through April, twice a day, in fact. It’s said that doing something for 30 consecutive days goes a long way to creating a habit. I planked through May, June –taking a week off during the bike ride– and have continued pretty much every day since.

Sometimes I miss an occasional day, or skip a morning or night, but the habit has been established, and the developing results are noticeable. The paunch and love handles are losing ground. As the planking has gotten easier with accumulated strength, my routine has expanded to longer duration, two-point planks, side planks, and more yoga stretching.

This morning, the routine is greatly modified to accommodate a recently unhappy, worn out disc.

Consider me duly humbled.

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Written by johnwhays

August 31, 2018 at 7:53 am

Still Ten

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Just in case you were wondering, our flock of bug eating machines still numbers ten. When they are not eating bugs, it is because Cyndie has put out kitchen scraps for them. We knew they were very fond of watermelon and have discovered they tend to ignore honeydew.

Maybe they’d go after it if we put a little red food coloring on the rinds.

Tuesday night, Cyndie took out a bowl of peach peels that were left over from a fantastic looking pie she made. The chickens devoured them in a blink.

Apparently they like peach peels.

We are now averaging 4 eggs a day from the ten birds. Obviously, the hens are maturing at different rates. They were all born on the same day and have been together ever since, sharing living quarters and eating the same things.

Nature or nurture?

The other day, Jackie provided a cute picture she took of Dezirea eyeing one of the black australorps standing on the hay box.

I guess you could say the chicken is eyeing Dezirea right back.

I keep expecting to lose the golden laced wyandottes next because of their tendency to straggle behind the group. Last week when I was working in the shop garage, I noticed the birds coming to investigate my activity.

Counted nine of them. Lately, during the day, the hope is that the missing hen is back in the coop laying an egg.

The next time I looked up from my task, the chickens were gone. Oh, but then that missing wyandotte came sprinting from under the brush, racing to find and catch up with the rest of the group.

If I were a predator, that laggard would make for an enticing target.

So far, come time for bed check (roost check, actually), Cyndie has found all ten of the current bunch are making it back to the coop for the night.

What ever happens, we are already ahead of last year in both longevity and egg production.

We are counting our ten blessings every day.

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Written by johnwhays

August 30, 2018 at 6:00 am

Serenity

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Words on Images

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Written by johnwhays

August 29, 2018 at 6:00 am

Stormy Monday

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It’s not original, but I couldn’t help myself with that title. It was stormy last night. What can I say?

The weather service warnings and the radar images looked more ominous than what we ultimately experienced, but there was still plenty of bluster and a relatively quick 2-inches collected in the rain gauge. The main thing that moderated the impact was the speed with which the storm line was moving.

The wind burst was short-lived and the rain lasted only about a half of an hour. Then a sky-show followed when the sun popped out to illuminate the last minutes before it dropped below the horizon.

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I had stayed in the house while Cyndie and Delilah were scouting the grounds to assess for damage, but soon received a text from her reporting the clouds were worth my heading out to see.

In addition to it being wonderfully scenic out there, the air temperature had dropped by almost 20 degrees, making it noticeably more comfortable, too. I strolled the long way around to return to the house and came upon our regular visiting white tail doe with two fawns grazing in our back pasture.

I think I startled them, as they made a hasty exit through, and over, the fence to disappear down the trail into our woods.

We are counting our blessings to have experienced such minimal disruption to our property. The only obvious evidence of the intensity our trees endured was the number of leaves scattered on the ground.

Maybe the storm drained off the most dangerous energy before it arrived to us. News reports last night indicated the Red Wing airport, just 20-minutes south of us, clocked a wind gust at 82 mph, which knocked down some hangars.

Leaves us hoping that Tuesday won’t be just as bad.

I don’t see how it could be, since the heat and humidity that fueled the severe weather yesterday has now been replaced my much cooler and dryer air. Yesterday morning was so warm and humid at 5:00 a.m. that even the rear view mirror mounted to the windshield in my car was steamed up during my commute.

The television broadcast meteorologist was marveling over the fact it had been cloudy all day and still the heat index climbed to 89 degrees (F). The high dew point temperature in the 70s was an obvious contributor to that.

At least, according to the song, the eagle flies on Friday, and Saturday I go out to play.

Yes, it was a Stormy Monday.

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Written by johnwhays

August 28, 2018 at 6:00 am

Project Love

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There are some situations that provide me with enough incentive to complete a project in a fixed amount of time. It is apparent that I do better when given a firm deadline. The last couple of months have been a challenge for me to not write and share images of progress for a special carving I have done, because it was a secret.

The deadline has now passed and the secret is out. I carved a heart for George and Anneliese out of a chunk of the old ash tree we cut down last fall.

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Starting with a section where the trunk split into two branches, I trimmed the shape with a chain saw. The next shaping was done with an angle grinder.

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As I’m often prone to do, I wanted the end result to be a mix of unfinished and extremely polished surfaces. An added bonus was the incidental flat at the bottom, which allows the heart to appear to stand on the point seen from the front.

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One of the pleasures of this project was the number of opportunities when I was able to work out in the warm sunshine while refining the shape and honing the smoothness. I chose to apply a beeswax and orange oil wood polish and conditioner as a finish to bring out the grain.

Yesterday, we were finally able to present this literal heart-felt gift for the occasion of the wedding. What a joy!

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The culmination of a summer’s worth of creative design and loving contemplations.

A symbol of a love of many layers, great depth, multifaceted, both rough and polished, cracked, shaped, intricate, beautiful, balanced.

Simply, true love, in the symbol of the heart shape.

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Written by johnwhays

August 27, 2018 at 6:00 am

They Did!

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Under a few timely peeks of sunshine, in the presence of family and friends, George and Anneliese exchanged vows in the front yard of their home yesterday.

We were honored to be included in the blessed events of the day. It’s all about love, you know?

There was a lot of love saturating the celebration of the bride and groom’s love for each other.

Cyndie baked love into her contribution of umpteen varieties of cookies for the post-ceremony reception feast.

It’s a good thing she did, because the cookies themselves didn’t last. The love goes on forever.

There was plenty of love added to the universe yesterday near Princeton, MN.

Did you feel it?

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Written by johnwhays

August 26, 2018 at 8:45 am

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Different Project

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It rained with such ferocity yesterday that water found a way past shingles, and dripped over the toilet in our bathroom. I thought maybe Cyndie had unbelievably made a mess, until I got dripped on and discovered it was coming from overhead.

I drained 2-inches from the rain gauge in the afternoon and Cyndie reported 2-inches more collected by dusk. It hailed, and it thundered, and Delilah barked at the booming all day long.

Basically confined to staying under a roof all day, I puttered around in the shop. I finally got around to using power tools to cut and grind old shovels to give them a clean edge again. I cut off the broken metal tines of a rake that has been lying around for a couple of years because I couldn’t part with the perfectly good handle.

Then I spotted the wood sculpting project I started a couple of winters ago and decided to spend a little time with it again.

The idea for this came from a high school art class assignment I did over four decades ago. I figured, if I’m still thinking about that piece I did that long ago, the idea deserved revisiting.

The concept is to create the piece by removing the background wood around the shape. Relief carving.

“To create a sculpture in relief is to give the impression that the sculpted material has been raised above the background plane.”

I made the shape of a fish in high school. I remember that I wasn’t able to make the tail fins look real, so I morphed them into a small ‘cartoony’ version of a fish tail.

I think it worked, in the end. Gave the finished piece a kind of primitive-folksy look. What I remember most about the project was the surprise of how the grain looked after I sanded everything smooth.

The lines from the flat rise up with an accented grace over the shape that is carved.

I’m going with the tear drop shape this time. That way I won’t have to figure out how to make that tail.

Now I just need another day of monsoon rain to confine me to the shop for long enough to bring this project to fruition.

Don’t hold your breath. As much as I love working on projects like this, this gem could easily rest on the window sill for another couple of years, if history is a reliable reference.

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Written by johnwhays

August 25, 2018 at 9:12 am