Relative Something

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

Archive for August 2019

Wild Treat

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We took Delilah on a deep woods explore across the road from the lake place yesterday and came home with a new chew toy to occupy her time for a while.

I’m guessing the old deer skull wasn’t giving off much of a scent because we had paused with Delilah almost standing on top of it when I spotted one side of the antlers sticking up. She was busy looking elsewhere, oblivious to the exciting treat below.

Rodents had already gnawed much of one antler, but it’s a safe guess that it was at least a 6-point buck.

I knocked off the remaining portion of the snout with teeth in it and let Delilah have what was left for a chew treat out on the deck all afternoon.

She seemed very happy with the adventure in the wild woods up north that make our little tract of forest at home seem like a postage stamp. It made it worth my having to suffer wearing long pants, long sleeves, and the annoying smell of bug repellant required to survive more than a brief minute under the canopy of the towering trees.

Walking in these woods turns people into wild treats for the mosquitos unless properly protected.

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Written by johnwhays

August 31, 2019 at 8:10 am

Cute Nuisances

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They sure look cute. All three of them, according to Cyndie’s eyewitness account, peering down at her from the great oak tree right outside our front door. I only count two in this photo she sent me yesterday while I was too far away at work to do anything about them.

I suppose I could have thrown a shoe up toward their general direction.

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If there are three young ones up there, logic suggests there is at least one parent also loitering in the vicinity. I’m happy to have so much wildlife wandering around, but we’d rather not have them choosing to reside so close to our home.

The way people around here deal with this kind of thing usually involves firearms, which we are more comfortable not keeping and bearing, regardless of any amendments.

Next choice, live trap, which involves transporting to a distance from which they won’t return at a location they are welcome.

Last choice, which we used when a mama raccoon had babies in the hay shed, pay painfully large sums of our hard-earned dollars to have someone solve the problem for us.

Out of sight, out of mind, out of cash.

As of this morning, I (we) have gone with my tried and true method of making no decision yet, while allowing time to provide a shove toward some solution the universe prefers. We left home and drove up to the lake for Labor Day weekend, taking Delilah with us.

Maddie, our most recent summer animal-care provider, is stopping by to tend to chickens and feed Pequenita while we are away.

Cyndie warned her to close the coop promptly at dusk and keep an eye out for the little masked bandits.

We’ll see what time brings.

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Written by johnwhays

August 30, 2019 at 7:58 am

Fragments

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wisps of thoughts
tumble past in random fashion
a glimpse of an emotion
flashing across her face
remembering a fragment
from my distant past
passing judgment
despite my better intentions
scratching the cat
when she shows up for attention
until she stalks off
in another direction
only to return
in a repetitive cycle
that goes on
for years
choosing to stand naked
and alone with myself
listening for a solitary voice
that speaks an honest truth
from deep in the soul
in a language so unique
my mind struggles
to pay attention

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Written by johnwhays

August 29, 2019 at 6:00 am

Time Annihilator

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I found another substitute activity to fulfill the part of my mind that enjoys jigsaw puzzling. Is it possible that this computer “game” is actually contributing to scientific research? Bonus!

Check out EyeWire and precious minutes of your day can disappear with ease.

It takes an MIT-trained neuroscientist anywhere from 15 to 80 hours to reconstruct a single neuron. At that rate, it would take about 570 million years to map the connectivity of an entire human brain, known as a connectome. Think that sounds bad? Using the best technology of just 5 years ago, it would have taken over a billion years to map one brain. We’re moving forward extraordinarily fast. And we need your help to go faster.

By playing the 3D game Eyewire, you become part of the Seung Lab at MIT by helping to map the connections of a neural network.

Amy SterlingEyeWire Blog

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I have completed the tutorial and “played” a few games, mapping connections, but I don’t actually comprehend what is going on, other than my brain enjoying the activity and minutes completely vanishing. In that regard, mission accomplished.

May the research continue to advance. I’m happy to do my part to help out.

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Written by johnwhays

August 28, 2019 at 6:00 am

Alternative Location

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I mowed the paddocks on Sunday. Knowing the kids were coming mid-morning, I headed out to the shop garage to move equipment around for access to the brush mower and watch for their arrival. I didn’t see Elysa’s car drive past, but looked up and noticed it parked by the house all of a sudden. A second later, I looked up to find Julian’s Jeep parked there, too. How they both got past me without my seeing them drive by is a complete mystery.

So much for that plan.

After chasing Julian around on his Onewheel, I left him to do more practice laps and hopped on the tractor. Elysa opened gates for me and stood on the lookout for wandering chickens.

I didn’t realize that Cyndie had reported a headcount of only seven hens located and I sent Elysa off to can pickles after I’d made a few passes around the perimeter. It seemed to me that I would be able to spot chickens if they showed up.

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When I got closer to the middle of the paddock, the grass was so tall and thick that it was impossible to see what I was mowing over. I looked up after navigating a tight circle around one of the high spots and I caught sight of one Golden Laced Wyandotte slowly and calmly walking away from the grass toward the paddock fence.

Had she been hiding in the tall grass, just as I feared possible? I wasn’t entirely sure, but the thought was unsettling.

The paddocks looked pretty good when I was finished. After six years of successful close maneuvering, I finally broke my first fence board when I miscalculated while backing up to turn around. Curses!

Cyndie took Delilah for a walk through the newly mowed grass and the dog sniffed out where the Wyandotte had been.

It looked like my tractor tire rolled over about ten eggs in the hen’s alternative to our nest boxes.

We are hoping the loss of cover will help convince the vagabond bird to return her laying habit to the coop.

Is it possible to teach old hens new tricks?

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Written by johnwhays

August 27, 2019 at 6:00 am

Future Arrives

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The kids stopped by yesterday for Cyndie’s day of canning pickles and Julian brought along a new commuting vehicle that bridges recreation and transportation. Have you heard of Onewheel?

I suppose it could be compared to a skateboard, but it gives more of an impression of snowboarding… only without the snow.

The device just recently arrived and he wanted to practice riding while wearing his computer bag to get ready for “boarding” (I’m told the term being used is “floating”) to work. He lives and works downtown in Minneapolis, so mastering our hills and uneven terrain would go a long way toward building strength and confidence for the urban surfaces he will more often encounter.

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He started down the driveway.

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Then turned onto one of our rough trails.

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He popped out in the back yard and rolled down the hill.

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Into the woods again.

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Floated through the gazebo beside the labyrinth.

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Along the back pasture fence line and around toward the barn.

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He picked up speed as he reached the weed-covered gravel around the hay shed.

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After that, he turned onto the asphalt driveway again and completed a very successful first attempt at adjusting to the added weight on his back. I think he will do just fine on the streets and sidewalks in the city. With each outing on the board, he will gain strength and skill.

No, I didn’t try it out myself. I’ll stick with two wheels and pedals. However, I am not against the possibility of an ebike somewhere in my future.

All these budding electric-assisted modes of transportation popping up definitely make it feel like the future has arrived.

I’m wondering if I will be able to catch up with it.

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Written by johnwhays

August 26, 2019 at 6:00 am

Double Visits

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Yesterday, we had a precious opportunity to visit our horses because we were invited to lunch with friends on the lakeshore at Gary Larson’s home, and the two destinations are in close proximity to each other. Our double accomplishment came at a cost of limited time at each location, but the blessing of any amount of time with a treasured group of really great friends and a hands-on visit with our horses fills our hearts and energizes our souls.

After a luscious lunch (Thank you, Gary!) and a quick dip in Christmas Lake, I switched into long pants and boots and Cyndie and I drove a little further west to spend a few minutes with Dezirea, Cayenne, Hunter, and their old (re-newed) herd-mates.

When we arrived, the horses were out of sight, down the hill from our point of entrance. A short walk in and we spotted them before they sensed us. It was calls of alert overhead from ospreys nesting on a platform by the car that caused the horses to take notice of someone inside the fence.

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They all moved to the base of the incline and peered up at us with great interest, but came no closer. We slowly walked down to meet them.

The interactions with the large herd are a little complicated by us having a close relationship with three of the horses but barely familiar with the others. It was difficult at first to have focused time with our horses while surrounded by the heightened curiosity from the others over the strangers in their midst.

I was allowed to have a brief connection with Dezirea before her new gang of worshippers interrupted, probably trying to figure out what she was getting that they might be missing.

Eventually, we had a chance to spend quality time with each of our three horses. Cyndie pictured with Cayenne above, me with Hunter below.

Hunter appears to have adjusted well in his return to the old herd that formerly held him toward the bottom of the pecking order. At one point, when I was standing with Cayenne and him, I heard one of the other horses in the vicinity give a little shout and the group of three who had strayed a little too close suddenly hustled away. I didn’t see what he did, but Hunter clearly claimed our space and the others definitely got the message to leave us alone.

All too soon we needed to start the drive back to tend to Delilah at home alone all day. Cayenne and Hunter insisted on a long Minnesota goodbye and stepped after us as we tried to break contact to leave.

When we looked back from the top of the hill, those two were still alone together in the spot where we left them, as if lingering in the in-between of time with us and returning to the herd.

In the car on the drive home, Cyndie and I smelled like horses. The rest of the day we lingered in the in-between of time with them and returning to the rest of our real world.

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Written by johnwhays

August 25, 2019 at 6:00 am

Precious Memories

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We had another company looking at our deck yesterday to quote replacing the boards. While I was waiting for the appointment, I took another shot at pulling up boards to expose more of the joists. The previous person who looked at it suggested getting rid of everything and starting from scratch. Yesterday’s suggestion was much more to my liking. We can just add a board between each of the 24″-spaced joists and put down a new surface, leaving the railings in place.

I like that plan. The handy-man neighbor that was first to look at our project was ready to slap on whatever new boards we wanted to buy, never a worry about the too-wide joist spacing.

Since we are going to keep the railings, I spent some time preparing them for refinishing, while yesterday’s guy took measurements. I’m hoping he got the numbers right because we also chatted the whole time. He used to own racehorses in the early days of the Canterbury Downs track in Shakopee. He understood what it is like to no longer have horses.

As I talked, I was unscrewing the multitude of clips that our friend, Marco Morales, had meticulously placed for a flexible LED light wire Cyndie wanted along the deck railing for a special party while the Morales family was visiting four years ago. Remember these, Marco?

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The clips didn’t hold up well against the abuse our winter weather dishes out and the tube had become almost black as the plastic aged, but it looked great that night!

As I unscrewed each clip, I enjoyed remembering the times we had during that visit. It seems like longer than just four years ago to me.

It is hard for me to imagine we might have an opportunity to make new memories from a future event that will match the peak we reached those days in August of 2015.

Honestly, I don’t know if we are fixing up the deck so we can enjoy it for years to come or to improve the appeal for someone who might want to buy the place, but it doesn’t matter.

I will always have the precious memories of living here.

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Written by johnwhays

August 24, 2019 at 9:09 am

Yay Internet!

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Amid all the clutter and junk on the internet, the social disasters and false information of the great technological curse of the century that we can’t live without, this week I was able to enjoy one of the gems that occasionally make life better for those in search of answers.

The overly complex Denon receiver for my home theater unexpectedly went silent one day. I sensed something was amiss right away upon power-up because the tell-tale click of relays engaging was absent. There are so many features that we aren’t utilizing, it’s difficult to know what buttons are even pertinent to my situation, let alone which one might have been inadvertently toggled.

It is so rare that I even look closely at the displays on that unit or the power distribution module beneath it that I couldn’t tell if something was lighting up different than usual. In fact, something I did find hinted at an over-current surge which was certainly believable given the stormy weather that transpired on Tuesday when no one was home.

I was prepared to deal with disconnecting everything and sending in the receiver for professional service, but not without spending a little quality time using my digital meter to step through rudimentary troubleshooting. The light on the sub-woofer was not coming on, so I started there.

Measured good voltage at the power plug, pulled the fuse and happily found that intact. Like magic, reconnecting everything brought the sub-woofer back to life. The power light came back on.

Next step, remove AC voltage to the receiver and let that sit for a few minutes. Not so lucky on the magical reset there.

The final step before finding a service center was to see what the manual offered. After spending more time than I wanted to waste in the manuals file in the den and not finding what I wanted, I went to the computer.

Before even downloading a manual for review, in the search for my unit, I included the words: “loss of audio out to speakers.”

Multiple forums with a variety of similar issues on Denon units appeared.

“The problem may be dust in the headphone jack.”

Really?

That was certainly something I could investigate myself. I grabbed a 1/4″ headphone plug and headed up the spiral stairs to the loft. After a very technical step of blowing into the headphone jack on the front of the receiver, I plugged in the phones.

Music!

The output amplifiers are not blown! I unplugged the jack and the room speakers came to life.

Imagine if I had taken the time to disconnect all the wires and pack up the unit to be shipped for service for that repair.

Thank you, internet. Thank you.

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Written by johnwhays

August 23, 2019 at 6:00 am

Stop

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Words on Images

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Written by johnwhays

August 22, 2019 at 6:00 am