Relative Something

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

Archive for January 2019

Definitely Cold

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This polar vortex is one heck of a weather event, but we are enduring the harshness with general acceptance. I am always amazed that anything still functions at extremely cold temperatures like -31°(F), but at oh-dark-thirty yesterday morning my garage door opener jumped to life at the push of the button, and my car started without complaint, to roll out into the frigid darkness on its rock-hard tires.

As dramatic as the media are being about the danger of this cold wave, many implying that people shouldn’t spend extended time outside or they will die, I hearken back to stories from the 1986 Steger International Polar Expedition. They spent day and night out in temperatures that reached -70°F at times.

We should be able to handle a couple of days of 30-below.

When I got home from work yesterday, the horses were peacefully standing out in the paddock, soaking up the sunshine through their blankets. They are spending nights inside during the super-chill. Cyndie said they now all walk in on their own, one after the other, making their way into their appropriate stalls.

The chickens showed no interest in coming out after the snow last Sunday, so, now that it’s also wicked cold, we don’t even open their door. Yesterday, Cyndie found one beautiful egg in the nest boxes, unfortunately, cracked and frozen.

Cyndie dug out booties for Delilah’s paws, which we haven’t tried since the first attempt was met with total rejection years ago. The results were no different this time. She didn’t like them, but allowed Cyndie to put them all on. A few steps out the door and black boots were kicked in every direction.

It appears the wild rabbits in our vicinity are using activity to keep warm, as their footprints are pounding well-worn paths in the snow. I found a not-so-subtle entrance to a den dug into the snow beside the shop.

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As fast as this vortex from the pole has settled upon us, it will also recede. In its place, the forecast for the coming weekend offers a difference of 70 degrees, with Sunday’s high reaching the mid 40s.

That will definitely feel warm.

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Written by johnwhays

January 31, 2019 at 7:00 am

Roll

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Words on Images

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Written by johnwhays

January 30, 2019 at 7:00 am

Finally, Snow

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So, if you are going to return north from a week in Florida, in January, you might as well dive head first into the coldest and snowiest days all winter, to make sure you will absolutely and thoroughly miss where you’ve just been.

Luckily for us, our animals so completely missed us that the love and attention they have showered over us has gone a long way to offset the angst of the painfully adult dose of winter that has greeted our return. (We still have all 9 chickens! Although, they weren’t all that fired up to show us any love. They may be hardy winter birds, but they don’t seem hardy enough to want to venture out of the coop when it is really cold, or the ground is covered with new snow.)

Instead of driving to the day-job, I stayed home and plowed snow drifts yesterday. It is hard to tell how much snow fell around here, because the depth ranges from about an inch in some places, to two feet in others.

I took a picture with Delilah in it, but I was focused on showing the fine pathway I cleared around the back pasture fence line.

Then I noticed that interesting cloud bank in the sky.

That was some pretty distinct delineation of cloud and clear sky right there. Nature sure makes cool stuff.

As Delilah and I walked the path around the pasture, I noticed the horses had made cute little circle tracks in the fresh snow, leaving little visible spots of where they foraged grass to graze.

It almost looks like they were on cross-country skis, as they moseyed along.

Speaking of tracks in the snow, as Delilah and I started our walk from the house, breaking trail in the new snow, we came to the spot where our trail cam captured a view of the fox last year. Something had just entered our property there within the hours since this overnight snowfall.

I decided to let Delilah follow the trail into the neighbor’s woods, in case we might find where the fox has a den. She was thrilled to have been granted access to this forbidden land and leaped through the snow to explore where the tracks led.

Well, even though it had been less than twelve hours since the majority of the snow fell, there were already a dizzying web of trails crisscrossing the wooded slopes. The snow was fresh and just deep enough that identification was difficult, but there were so many different pathways that I soon realized the chance we were following one fox had become very unlikely.

We reached a spot where tracks were everywhere, and the leaves beneath the snow were turned up in a wide variety of places. For a second, I wondered if it was a pack of coyotes, but then I deduced it was much more likely to be a flock of turkeys.

No wonder Delilah was so excited over that particular location.

I convinced her to reroute our exploration back toward our property and gave up on hunting for a fox den.

At least we finally have a snow cover that offers better footing than the icy glazing we had battled the previous month.

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Written by johnwhays

January 29, 2019 at 7:00 am

Weather Delays

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What a day of travel we endured yesterday. Florida was experiencing a cycle of non-stop rain and Minnesota was getting smacked with heavy snowfall. It impacted our plans on both ends.

I took one last photo of the pool before we left, in the dreary rain, all covered up for the cool week ahead.

By noon, we were at the Fort Myers airport for our early afternoon flight. Unfortunately, it didn’t depart in the early afternoon, as planned. In fact, it didn’t depart at all.

The initial delay was rumored to be because of a wind shear situation that was preventing our plane from being allowed to land. It circled the Fort Myers airport until it was so low on fuel that it needed to divert to a different airport to refuel.

Eventually, after several delays that pushed it to a 4:30 departure time, our flight was ultimately canceled. The next flight that airline offered was going to be in a couple of days.

That didn’t work for us.

Cyndie contacted her parents and they were able to find us seats on a Delta flight that was to leave at 6:30. We had to get to baggage claim to find our luggage and then make a second trip through security.

We got a little nervous when that flight announced a departure delay, but it only happened once. This time they said air traffic control in Minneapolis was dealing with bad weather and pushing arrivals out. Once our plane was in the air, we figured we were done worrying, but there was a moment of discomfort when we got stuck circling a couple times before final descent was able to happen.

Initially, we only found one of our bags at MSP baggage claim, a process complicated by their announcing the wrong carousel for pick up. The clock was ticking for us because every minute of delay allowed the snowy roads to get worse than they already were.

By 11:00 p.m. we were finally in our car and ready to forge our way on unplowed roads for the hour-long drive home.

It was wicked. Visibility was poor, and the snow-covered roads were treacherous. As we got close to home, the wind was creating bumpy waves of drifted snow across the pavement.

Surprisingly, the harsh conditions only added 15-minutes to our drive home from the airport. Unsurprisingly, the horrible driving convinced me that I would not be making the trip to the day-job this morning, like I had originally planned.

Looks like I’ll be plowing and shoveling, instead.

That’s one way to welcome us home again.

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Written by johnwhays

January 28, 2019 at 7:00 am

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Flying North

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Today, we fly back to winter, just in time for a blast of snow and Arctic cold air to put an exclamation point on the end of our 9-day visit to Florida. We ate like royalty, played cards, laughed, shopped, explored, watched movies and never wore mittens once.

Yesterday, maybe as a primer for our return, the temperature hovered on the cool side of comfortable, compressing our outdoor activity to a couple matches of bocce ball and a walk back to the house before the next rain shower.

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Barb was the difference maker in both close competitions, despite the missing sunshine that would have allowed for much more relaxed muscles during tosses.

We expect to arrive to the Minneapolis airport in the late afternoon today, and hope to drive the hour toward home without suffering any delays that may result from snow-covered roads.

Whether I will be able to execute my usual commute across the Twin Cities in my return to the day-job tomorrow morning remains a mystery, at this point.

The forecast (as of late last night) is rather ominous:

The predicted high temperature on Wednesday could remain in the double-digits (F) below zero. That will be the warmest part of the day.

One tiny shred of consolation about coming home to this brutal weather, is the fact that the polar vortex pushing down into the middle of the country will have an impact all the way to Florida. Cyndie’s parents had us put the insulating cover on their pool last night, in preparation for the cool week ahead.

Good thing we are going home, so we don’t have to suffer in any of the cold Florida weather they will be dealing with down here.

It’s all relative, isn’t it?

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Written by johnwhays

January 27, 2019 at 7:00 am

Several Adventures

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The Gulf of Mexico

We walked the beach

and trails of Lovers Key State Park, where we also paused for a picnic lunch

While walking, we came upon an osprey dining on a fresh catch

Barb & Mike got a crash course on piloting a Segway (no crashing involved)

We toured the multi-million dollar neighborhoods of Naples

and I barely eked out a vague capture of the sunset for Steve R.

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Party Expands

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Our final weekend in Florida has expanded with the addition of our friends, Barb & Mike, joining us for a few days. Luckily, they brought some sunshine with them from the frigid north, because the morning started here with thunder and rain yesterday.

Just as they were landing, we started to see spots of blue sky. The air warmed up quickly and soon we were all changing into swim wear for a dip in the pool after lunch.

With the added energy and distractions of another couple, I didn’t end up taking any photos the rest of the day, while we gabbed and read, napped, and played cards.

I snapped one shot of the moisture from the rain on the screen in the background behind Cyndie, doing her nails before we drove to the airport to pick up our guests.

The day went by way too fast for my liking. Given the forecasts I’ve seen for next week’s weather back home, I want to absorb every second in the warmth here to the fullest possible limit.

I asked if there was some way we could pack some of the warm air in our suitcases to bring home with us on Sunday, but nobody offered any hope. Eating dinner in shorts, with bare feet, beside the pool under the lanai, is especially luxurious given the conditions in the Twin Cities this time of year.

Today should provide plenty of opportunity for more photos down here. Cyndie, Barb, Mike and I plan to visit a beach somewhere south of Estero, and then continue down to Naples for a Segway tour.

None of our activities involve anything related to temperatures below zero. That’s something we definitely aren’t taking for granted.

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Written by johnwhays

January 25, 2019 at 7:00 am

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