Relative Something

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

Archive for November 2018

Savoring Days

leave a comment »

It’s hard for me to do, savoring time. The minutes tend to blend, one into another, and days seem to keep passing faster than ones before. It’s a luxury problem to have, I expect. In the face of suffering, perception of time is entirely different.

The U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving 2018 is now history. A perceived few minutes ago, I was looking forward to the extra day off from the day-job and gathering with family in the presence of unending food choices.

In my quest to tightly manage my sugar intake, the day of feasting becomes an extra challenge. This year, circumstance worked in my favor to give me an assist on controlling temptation to over-indulge. I was in charge of taking care of our animals at home, while the Thanksgiving feast was being held an hour away in Edina, MN., at Cyndie’s parents’ house.

The hardest part of the whole adventure for me was, making the choice to slip out surreptitiously while most everyone was still at the table(s), finishing first and second servings, and boisterously sharing stories of various adventures.

It went against my every sensibility to not say goodbye, but I didn’t want to cause a fuss and disturb the best part of the day for everyone else. I enjoyed every delectable bite of my sensibly chosen portions of turkey, stuffing, potatoes, giblet gravy, sweet potato, vegetables, cranberry sauce, fruit salad, and Cyndie’s masterful version of my mom’s home-baked buns.

A glance at the time brought me to the fateful moment of planned departure. I had an hour-long drive to factor in, and a time of sunset that was firmly determining the end of my equation. I got up from the table with my plate, just as several others before me had done on their quest for seconds, and I disappeared to the bathroom near the front door.

Amid the sound of many conversations and occasional laughter, I decided to rely on Cyndie to explain my absence, and I stepped out the front door without a word. In my effort to avoid interrupting the festivities for everyone else, I totally disrupted my sensibilities.

Cyndie knew I was leaving as soon as I finished eating, but I had neglected to say anything to others, including my own children. It was a very disconcerting feeling for me to so abruptly depart, but it did save me from facing the decision of how I would avoid eating too much pie for dessert.

Happily, the drive was efficient, despite a surprisingly heavy amount of traffic on the interstate, and the animals were all safe and content when I arrived home. One of the horses was lounging on its side in the paddock while the other two stood watch right beside.

I counted the chickens as soon as I could, because Cyndie reported seeing a badger walking toward their direction from the corn field north of us on Wednesday, as she was leaving to spend the night in Edina. She said it turned around when she stopped and opened her door.

It’s a privilege to have these animals to care for and I want to savor the pleasure they bring, despite the complications of added responsibility. I’m framing the way they altered my Thanksgiving holiday as a feature, not a flaw, since it helped to limit my calorie intake to a lower level than I imagined possible.

It’s certainly not something I would have accomplished left to my own control, if I’d been given a full day’s access to all the flavors available to savor.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

November 23, 2018 at 7:42 am

Happy Thanksgiving

with 4 comments

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

November 22, 2018 at 7:00 am

Increasing Love

with 3 comments

It’s simple. Last night I scanned the headlines of my news feed and didn’t find anything other than gloom and doom. Shortly after that, I happened upon the PBS Frontline episode, “Documenting Hate: New American Nazis.”

It was unsettling, to say the least.

There is only one response I can muster. Love, and more of it.

A lot more of it.

Please join me in growing more love. New love. Feel love. Conjure it in your mind from your heart and your soul.

Send it out to every corner of your world and beyond.

Love one another. Love your neighbors. Love your enemies. Love those who are so damaged they only feed on hate.

Send love to leaders who provoke and promote hatred in all its forms.

We have the power to generate unlimited amounts of love. Don’t take that for granted, and for the good of the human race, don’t for a minute neglect this most precious of resources.

Grow your love and throw your love out into the world with reckless abandon and laser-like focus.

All we need is love. Love is all we need.

And as an added bonus, a loving hug is icing on the cake.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

November 21, 2018 at 7:00 am

Getting Nipped

with 2 comments

It wasn’t clear at first, but after repeated scrapes of similar appearance and orientation, Cyndie and I have come to the conclusion that Dezirea is getting bitten. Most likely, as a function of hierarchy “negotiations” within the tiny herd of three horses.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

A pattern of bite-sized scrapes is showing up on both sides of her rump with an unfortunate regularity of late. We haven’t caught anyone in the act, but I have seen Hunter pinning his ears back and moving her around enough to suspect that it’s him taking things to the next level when we’re not around.

I take some solace in remembering the time I was standing right next to them when Dezirea leaned forward and let loose a kick with two back hooves, landing them with such impact on Hunters chest that even I felt the energy. She knows how to dish out her own discipline when the situation calls for it.

If the evidence of biting continues, we may cover Dezirea with a blanket to give her hide a break, but for now we have chosen to see if they can work this out as nature would have it.

Cyndie already saw some interaction during yesterday afternoon’s mealtime that revealed Dezirea is not simply playing the victim. The elder mare moved the other two off each of their food, showing she can exert some control of her own.

Heck, it could be such behavior is why she is getting bitten in the first place.

This all tugs at our ongoing ache of missing Legacy, seeing them without the strong leadership he always commanded.

There were plenty of times when the three chestnuts would test things between each other, but it never went on for more than a brief time before Legacy would pass judgement and direct them all to knock it off.

In two months, it will have been a year since Legacy died, and the three are still searching for a new normal of life without him.

In plenty of ways, we are, too.

Reality bites.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

November 20, 2018 at 7:00 am

Nice Try

leave a comment »

The weather at home has eased enough to melt the snow in all the areas except shaded spots, but it hasn’t released its grip on the frozen ground. I had a spare ten minutes last Friday while Cyndie was finishing preparations for our visit to Anneliese and George’s house, so I grabbed a rake and tried moving some leaves off the grass on the front yard.

In the time I had, pretty much all I accomplished was clearing a small area of the yard and piling the leaves around two trees. That left a lot of oak leaves still frozen in the grass.

Earlier Friday morning, I also tried raking out piles of composted manure that I had dumped on the hay-field while Cyndie was in Guatemala. I hadn’t gotten a chance to do that before because it rained, then froze, and then snowed on those piles.

On Friday, it was almost warm enough to make me think raking out the piles would be possible. Almost. I worked on it anyway, because it felt like any little progress was better than no progress at all.

I’m counting on the universe giving me points for at least trying, on both the leaves and compost tasks.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

November 19, 2018 at 7:00 am

Real Farming

with 4 comments

Cyndie and I got a taste of the real thing yesterday. We visited George and Anneliese at Walker Farm this weekend. (Renee and Jeff, we waved in your direction as we drove by!) The real farming aspect started before we even reached the highway leaving our place on Friday afternoon.

On a section of one of our county roads with barely a shoulder to speak of, we came face to face with a combine that almost filled the full width of both lanes.

I hoped he was planning to turn into a field, because I had run out of turn-off options, but that rig just kept coming right at us. Moving the car as far to the right as I dared, I came to a complete stop. He moved as far as he dared to his right and squeaked by us with an uncomfortably small amount of clearance.

It is harvest time and farmers are working like crazy to finish before winter weather stops them for the season. Yesterday morning, I started the day before dawn with George, trucking a load of soybeans down to a grain terminal in Savage, MN. That was a first for me, doing a walk around inspection of a big rig, copiloting our way to the terminal, and feeling the cab shake as the beans roared out of the hopper.

We got back to the farm just as Cyndie and Anneliese were finishing up with chores to feed and water the cows, turkeys, and chickens. We were just a few days too early to witness the processing of about twenty Thanksgiving turkeys.

After breakfast, we herded a bull and one heifer onto a trailer to be moved to a neighboring farm, then drove to a different neighbor to pick up another recently purchased heifer. The choreography is done as a means to control breeding possibilities of specific cows.

Sometimes, controlling access is done to avoid breeding, and sometimes it is intended to encourage it. Those separated for the winter may have a chance to meet again in April.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

In the afternoon we walked the fence line to look for a reason the electric charge was being loaded down. We discovered a section by the road that appeared to have suffered impact from a vehicle. After several of the seemingly obligatory walks back and forth to the shed for additional parts or tools, we restored the integrity of the wiring to George’s satisfaction.

We finished in the nick of time, as the sun soon dropped below the horizon. Despite the sun shining most of the day, the cold temperature stung after standing out in it for very long, so we were ready to be done.

That made it all the more satisfying to be inside and warm for dinner, some card games, conversation, and eventually, making music.

We were spending time with friends, but at the end of the day, I had this strange feeling we were also experiencing what it might be like if we added a couple of cows to graze our pastures someday. Could it be, that we were given a glimpse of our possible future?

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

November 18, 2018 at 9:00 am

Other Examples

leave a comment »

As long as I’m on the subject of sticktoitiveness, there are two other examples in my life that have slowly rewarded me for staying the course day after day, in one case, for years.

When I finally took action to address an addiction to sugar which manifested in cravings that controlled my decisions, I had no idea what lay ahead for me. I had previously experimented with simply cutting out desserts and cookies or candy treats for a random period of weeks, just to see if I could, but I neglected to account for the amount of sugar I was getting from other sources.

My cravings for breads and cereals would ramp up to impressive levels, and I would allow myself those compromises.

After learning more about where I was getting most of the sugar in my diet, and discovering the actual measurement of sugar recommended by the World Health Organization for percentage of daily calories, I set out to control it by watching the numbers.

That made a big difference. First of all, it showed me how physically addicted my body, and mind, had become. I experienced withdrawal symptoms that included headaches, dizziness, nausea, and tremors, not because I cut out sugar completely, but simply by strictly limiting the amount of sugar in the food I was eating.

It has taken me years at the rate I am working it (because I waver with my level of strictness), but self-control slowly improved to a point where it hardly takes mental energy to employ anymore. Most importantly, I am not just doing this for a period of weeks. This is forever. I always measure how much cereal I eat, and I always check serving size information to figure out how much sugar there is.

A more recent adventure in every day tenacity that I am watching produce slow results is, my daily planking exercises. When I started back in the last week of March, I decided to see what results I might achieve if I did the exercises my physical therapist recommended for the entire month of April. These were focused on strengthening my core to treat the painful symptoms of degenerating discs.

It is really helpful to not be constrained by debilitating pain when doing daily chores to care for our animals.

Thirty consecutive days of planking in April established enough of a pattern that I found it easy enough to keep going through May. Then two months became four, and in a blink, I’ve made it eight months of pretty regular planking. In that time I have slowly gained enough strength that I have modified my methods to match.

The current plank that is my primary exercise is four minutes long, starting with a minute and a half of a basic horizontal planking, then 45 seconds of lifting an opposite arm and leg for a two-point plank, 45 more seconds with the other arm and leg, and then finishing with a final minute of the basic plank again.

There are other leg exercises and some yoga stretches that get mixed in after the planking, depending on how much time I have to spend, but the planking is key.

Between these two daily efforts of healthy controlled-sugar diet and regular exercise, practiced over months and years, my physical health is in better shape than most of my previous adult life.

That is providing plenty of incentive for me to stick to this indefinitely.

Maybe the fact that these steps are not a quick fix, makes the positive results that much more satisfying. It definitely provides a welcome bonus of boosting my mental health, as well.

.

.