Relative Something

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

Archive for November 2018

Crying

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there’s life and there’s death
and stupid funny things
that don’t even matter
happening all the time
all at once
it’s no wonder
we don’t know
whether to laugh or cry
ecstasy and agony
pleasure and pain
not always discernible
one from the other
when they keep coming
again and again
amid the hilarity
of laughing to tears
the same tears
that are shed
in a sorrowful cry
in the darkest of hours
or bright light of day
on the razor’s edge
separating life and death
and all those stupid funny things
that don’t seem to matter

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Same

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Words on Images

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Written by johnwhays

November 29, 2018 at 7:00 am

Confused Snake

with 2 comments

I forgot to mention last weekend, after we finished raking the front yard and playing with the chickens, I was about to go inside when I spotted this unlikely sight:

Sure, it was above freezing enough that we were able to rake up the leaves, but was it really warm enough to entice a snake to slither out and lay on the cold pavement? Not in the world I was familiar with, but apparently this little critter is just fine with temperatures hovering around the freezing point. The snake was moving a little slow, but luckily the chickens didn’t seem to notice its existence, so I didn’t have to witness any crazy unsettling nature scene play out.

Heck, there was also that fat, green caterpillar that one of the hens picked up right in front of me that day, so maybe the ground isn’t as cold yet as we thought it was. The air sure feels cold this time of year. With the slightest breeze, and air temperatures in the 30s(F), we have been feeling chilled to the bone because we haven’t fully acclimated yet for winter.

That’s frustrating, because the natural response to the start of cold weather is to bundle up excessively, but by the time we have walked Delilah around the perimeter and started doing horse chores, we get too hot. Then we have to wrestle out of all the extra layers.

The horses seem to be adjusting well enough. I think it helps to avoid putting blankets on them when cold temperatures first arrive, if that can be achieved with minimal stress, because then their bodies naturally respond with a thicker growth of winter hair. They are doing their part by finally becoming (after only 5-years {sarcasm}) comfortable enough with the sounds under the overhanging metal roof to stay under its protection from wind and wet.

I understand any auditory aversion they have with it. I was shocked at first by how much the sound of the slightest amount of precipitation is amplified to levels evoking high drama. It seems like it must really be coming down with intensity, but then stepping out into the open proves just the opposite.

It’s all relative, of course!

The forecast for the next week is currently offering more of the same variety of early winter. Some snow tonight, warmth near 40°(F) on Friday, and teens/twenties over the nights.

Maybe this will just confuse the snake further.

If I had my way, the legless masters of surprise would be long into their dormancy by now. I’m not a fan of the involuntary adrenaline jolt when suddenly startled by their presence just as I’m about to set foot where they happen to be hiding/sliding/sunning.

Heebeejeebees.

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Written by johnwhays

November 28, 2018 at 7:00 am

Well, This

with 3 comments

So, I mentioned in Sunday’s post that it’s been many years since we had a real Christmas tree in the house. I guess we forgot to appropriately prepare for the interest our dog and cat might have in this incredibly natural smelling specimen suddenly appearing in their living space.

Cyndie was away for a few hours yesterday morning, and this is the scene to which she arrived upon her return home:

Oops.

Live tree went topsy-turvy.

I might need to rig some wiring to hold the trunk in a vertical orientation, regardless the added few pounds of feline that might be exploring the branches. Or the canine who would obviously be interested in shepherding the cat back down out of said tree by means that would likely exceed the simple norm of just barking incessantly.

Maybe, if wires are going to be required at all, I should just hoist it up in the air and let it hang from the rafters.

It is so strange to hear myself say this, but… I think I already miss the artificial tree.

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Written by johnwhays

November 27, 2018 at 7:00 am

Messy Calamity

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I had been told about just this type of disaster, but filed it away as something that happens to other people, not me. Saturday, I joined the dubious club of tractor owners who’ve experienced a catastrophic failure of the valve stem on a large rear tractor tire filled with corrosive calcium chloride.

It actually started calmly enough. I stepped in the garage to do some organizing and discovered a small puddle under the deforming sidewall of the tire. Now, this was an issue I’d been hoping to address before it reached this point, so I did have a plan.

First, I wanted to remove the weights bolted to each rear tire. Next, I hoped to jack it up enough to take pressure off the tire and rotate it so the valve was at the 12 o’clock position. Then I would try adding air.

The only other time I had tried to add air, the pressure of fluid was greater than the compressed air I was trying to add, and escaping fluid corroded the air chuck fitting something awful.

Worried that the tire needed air, I asked around for advice. I was repeatedly told it looked fine, so I kept pushing the issue for some future day.

Well, that day arrived and I needed to take action on the plan I had contemplated. I grabbed a big wrench and a hammer and started turning those bolts on the weights. It didn’t take long to realize they were just spinning because there was a nut on the other side that needed to be held.

That required getting Cyndie for help, because I couldn’t reach both at the same time.

Then, calamity.

As I reached behind the wheel to put a wrench on the nut, the valve stem let loose from the rusting hub and the gallons of calcium chloride began spraying out all over everything. At first, there was no putting a bucket under it, because it was shooting everywhere.

All my brain could come up with was profanity. I paced around in a total useless panic because I had no idea what to do while that yucky fluid was quickly making a mess of everything.

Eventually, I noticed the spray had turned to a flow and it might be possible to catch it in a bucket. Then it struck me. I could put my finger over the hole and stop the leak while we figured out a plan.

We tried, and failed a few times to plug the corroded hole. A foam ear plug worked for a while, but for some reason it got sucked inside. I had already jacked it up a little to keep the weight from pushing fluid out, which made sounds of pulling air in, but that didn’t stop the flow.

For some reason, there was a pulse to the continued escape of fluid.

In the end, we used a tampon to slow the leak to a manageable drip, while I lifted it as far as my inadequate equipment allowed to put blocks under the axle. I’ve removed all the components of the 3-point hitch, and detached the loader bucket from the arms in preparation of whatever happens next.

That will be determined in a call this morning to the service department of the local implement dealer.

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Written by johnwhays

November 26, 2018 at 7:00 am

Real Tree

with 4 comments

It’s been more years than I can count since we have put up a real tree in the house when decorating for Christmas. I have a thing about cutting down trees, you know, even if it was grown specifically for that purpose. By buying our artificial tree so many years ago, I was making a statement that I no longer wanted to support the Christmas tree growing industry.

Here’s a classic example of how people change with time. When I was young, I felt Christmas trees made of plastic represented everything that was wrong with society. After a few years of seeing house after house with dead trees at the curb near the end of December, I began to have pangs of remorse over the demise of so many trees for a few weeks of holiday decoration.

Then I spotted the impressive advancements in fake trees. At the point it became difficult to tell the difference at a distance, my attitude changed and we stopped buying real trees.

This year, we will be giving our plastic tree a break.

Yesterday, Cyndie asked if we could trim some branches to bring in boughs of pine for decorating around the house. While seeking out possibilities, I spotted a spruce tree that was seriously encroaching on a new oak tree that has established itself nicely, just outside our bedroom window.

We decided to cut it down and bring it inside for this year’s Christmas tree.

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Now you see it, now you don’t. Or, if you consider it from a focus on the young oak tree, at first you don’t see it, and then you do!

Having a real tree indoors again reminds me of one of the significant advantages of the plastic replica we have used for the last umpteen years. No mess.

Just one day inside and already there is a surprising number of needles covering the floor beneath this real tree.

Well, at least we have a back up. If the real tree loses all its needles too soon, we can always bring out the old plastic one.

The fake tree has lasted long enough that we have more than gotten our money’s worth of use out of it.

At least this real tree didn’t cost us any cash. In fact, cutting it down will greatly benefit the oak tree we value even more.

It’s a win-win!

Bring on the Christmas extravaganza! Cyndie has leapt into preparations with gusto this year, and with only four weeks to spare.

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Written by johnwhays

November 25, 2018 at 10:31 am

Eventual Success

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We finally got the break in our weather that allowed us to deal with all the leaves on the front lawn yesterday. How many weeks have I been whining about this issue?

You don’t have to answer that. It was a rhetorical question.

I am well aware of how long this dilemma has been dragging on. I have been looking at it every day since the big oak tree over the driveway suddenly let go of more leaves all at once than in all the previous years that we’ve lived here.

It was a big year for acorns, so maybe the two things are related. The tree put so much energy into growing acorns that it let go of the leaves in greater volume than usual? Yeah, that’s stated as a question. I have no actual knowledge on the subject.

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We had some help on the project yesterday. The chickens were very interested in all this scratchin’ that was going on and came up to check things out. If I wasn’t working fast enough for them, they would step into the leaves and start clawing away themselves to get at the goods.

It looked to me as though they just peck at the ground after invisible nothings, but pausing to crouch down and get up close and personal with one of the Australorps, I was surprised to see it pick up a big fat green caterpillar that I had no idea was there.

I sure hope all the pecking they are doing is reducing the tick and fly population that would otherwise emerge to trouble us next spring. The current brood of nine are covering a surprising range of territory with impressive thoroughness, based on the cute little scratching circles they leave behind throughout our forest floor.

The weather finally warmed above freezing enough that the ground surface was just pliable enough to give up the leaves, but the annoying push-up tunnels of moles and voles were still solid. It made for some all-terrain raking complications.

Unfortunately, some precipitation moved in with the warmth, so after we barely finished with the front yard, it started to rain. Now the ground is frozen beneath a thin slippery wet layer to give us something else to chirp about.

Will I ever be content with the way things are? Eventually.

Beyond the surface of petty complaints I am so deft at plying, I am more content than ever. Just yesterday I was pointing out how much simple joy the chickens bring every day. I had no idea how much pleasure they would provide.

Regarding the art of reframing all my petty whining, I am visualizing eventual success.

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Written by johnwhays

November 24, 2018 at 11:01 am