Relative Something

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

Archive for August 2018

Karmic Humility

leave a comment »

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.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

August 31, 2018 at 7:53 am

Still Ten

leave a comment »

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.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

August 30, 2018 at 6:00 am

Serenity

leave a comment »

.

Words on Images

.

.

.

 

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

August 29, 2018 at 6:00 am

Stormy Monday

with 2 comments

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.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

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.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

August 28, 2018 at 6:00 am

Project Love

with 4 comments

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.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

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.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

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.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

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!

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

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.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

August 27, 2018 at 6:00 am

They Did!

with 2 comments

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?

.

.

Written by johnwhays

August 26, 2018 at 8:45 am

Posted in Chronicle

Tagged with , , ,

Different Project

leave a comment »

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.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

August 25, 2018 at 9:12 am

A Narration

leave a comment »

One of our trails that DOESN’T need mowing.

While Cyndie was in the cities providing training for others this week, I was occupied with my usual duties at the day-job. Yesterday’s commute home was smoother than usual for me, probably related to the fact I’d left an hour early to get home and mow the lawn.

We are headed out-of-town again this weekend, only this time we will be visiting George and Anneliese in Princeton on the occasion of their matrimony. Have guitar, will travel.

That means I need to get the weekend projects done in advance.

The lawn was an interesting combination of shriveled brown remnants of grass and a thick green carpet of maturing crabgrass. More often that desirable, it was also a wicked source of dusty dirt sent airborne in an exploding cloud by the three spinning mower blades.

The weed growth sprouting from cracks in the old asphalt of the driveway had started to get annoyingly tall, so I even made a few passes down the middle of the pavement with the deck set as low as it would go.

At the same time, I had an insight that the miniature berms we built up around the uphill portions of the paddock fence line, do not need to be completely ignored by the tractor. With the deck lifted to the highest setting, I steered one wheel up on the high point of the ridge and rode along the length of it.

Whaalaa. It no longer looks entirely neglected. We usually use the power trimmer to cut those ridges, but over a long enough interval that the grass gets outrageously tall and looks absolutely neglected. Why didn’t I think of this before?

When all of our grass had been cut, I parked the tractor outside to be cleaned. A little compressed air did wonders on the layer of dusty dirt that was clinging to every surface. I blew it all airborne, one last time, where most of it had a final chance to end up clinging to my clothes and skin.

When I came in the house, Pequenita was so happy to see me, I thought she might give me a tongue bath.

It took a shower to scrub off the grimy silt that had coated my pores.

Cyndie arrived home with another glowing report of amazing experiences from her day. She was so amped up, especially for someone as fatigued as she was, her narration was delivered at top speed. It was cute.

Today, only two sessions to go for her, then we hit the road.

We are really looking forward to seeing George and Anneliese again, and we are excited to see their newly built home.

Walker Farms, here we come!

.

.

Written by johnwhays

August 24, 2018 at 6:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

Tagged with , , , ,

So Proud

leave a comment »

Today, I am giving a shout out and a hat tip to my amazing wife, Dr. Cyndie Hays.

This week, she is conducting a full week of training sessions, off-site, combining all of her many years of experience into beautiful teaching for other educators and caregivers. Merging horse knowledge, emotional intelligence, and courageous conversation skills, she is presenting powerful information, often life changing, to people in organizations that touch a lot of lives.

I am so proud of Cyndie doing this often difficult work. Guiding others in exploring complex and emotional concepts that often rupture the fabric of their senses about themselves, and others in the world, is demanding work.

When she comes home at the end of the day, worn out by intense experiences, I get the benefit of hearing about the incredible interactions of her day. It helps her unpack some of the residual emotion from the sessions.

I really think she should write a book about some of the life changes she has witnessed, and the principles and exercises that bring them about.

Her stories help to expand my awareness, both about myself and others. It is really an embodiment of Paul Wellstone’s basic credo: “We all do better when we all do better.”

Simply by hearing Cyndie describe how one of the day’s training exercises positively altered a person’s perspective, which flowed into an opportunity for participants to practice talking about subjects that are laden with emotion and years –generations, even– of avoidance or animosity, I am inspired to improve my “game.”

Am I behaving in a way that allows and encourages those around me to do better?

I am a firm believer that a success which must come at another’s expense, is not really a true success at all.

Altruism is not a universal trait, but if one has a genuine interest in caring for others, odds are improved that raising their awareness to unconscious biases and privileges will be valued.

In the stories that Cyndie brings home from sessions she has led, the number of people who choose to resist the insights she presents is always low. For days like this week, where she is talking to hundreds of participants, it gives me a good feeling of hope.

Maybe we are inverting the pyramid of ills in the world.

I know that Cyndie is sure doing her part, and for that, I am extremely proud.

.

.

 

Noticeable Changes

with 2 comments

I get up at the same time each work day, but the sunrise doesn’t. Yesterday, it was completely dark as I navigated my way, by feel, down the hall toward the kitchen to get my breakfast and lunch items out of the refrigerator, before traipsing toward the garage door with my arm outstretched, heading off to work.

It was the first time this season that I realized I can’t see my way through the house in the morning any more.

Last night, it was cool enough with the doors and windows open that we actually kept the blankets over us in bed. That hasn’t happened in a loooong time.

Having blankets over me must have led to some tossin’ and turnin’ overnight, because the fitted sheet on the mattress had slipped up off the corner and the area under my body looked like it had been through the ringer.

It creates an absolutely unacceptable situation each night when I am ready to tuck in, if the bottom sheet is in a jumble of wrinkles left over from the night before. I am the Princess and the Pea when it comes to my bedtime ritual.

The bottom sheet must be stretched TIGHT, or I am bothered all night long.

Cyndie and I have figured out what we are going to jointly buy for our wedding anniversary next month. New sheets! A set that actually fits our mattress.

Imagine that!

Monday night into Tuesday I had a dream that involved some vivid eating. I filled a bowl with cereal and milk and was shocked with myself to be completely ignoring my self-imposed limitations focused on reducing sugar in my diet. Not only that, but a short time later in the dream, I was taking a bite of some fancy chocolate cookie.

The middle was thick with a gooey chocolate, and as I sank my teeth into it, the creamy chocolate solidified onto my two front teeth. Still in the dream, I reached up to pry the chocolate down off my teeth, which woke me because I had actually reached up and was trying to pull my mouthguard down off my teeth.

I wear the guard to keep from grinding my teeth while I sleep.

Apparently I wasn’t sleeping sound enough to paralyze my body during the dream.

That’s going to change when we get new sheets. The nights are getting longer, what better time to upgrade the sleeping environment?

Yes, I called myself the Princess and the Pea.

It makes Cyndie laugh.

Some things never change.

Here’s another view of the sky from late Monday afternoon.

Those clouds were in a constant state of change, …and it was very noticeable.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

August 22, 2018 at 6:00 am