Relative Something

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

Archive for January 2020

Contrast

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deep in the recesses
of everyone’s long, long ago
the kernels of familiar
hold a comforting glow
a phrase
or just words
visions of places
unmistakable smells
the chestnut tree
toward the tennis court
beside the barn
where we lost hours of days
both in the sun
and deepest of snows
it stands in such sharp contrast
to the very right now
full technicolor hues
vast barrages of digital things
virtual carnival barkers
hollering uninvited
on phishing expeditions
mining hapless victims
through pocket devices
more powerful
than old fading minds
can hardly conceive

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Written by johnwhays

January 30, 2020 at 7:00 am

See It?

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Alright, you jigsaw puzzlers… can you see what happened to me here? (You may need to click on the images to get a better view.)

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As I made progress on the lower right corner, it became increasingly obvious that something was wrong. Certain pieces weren’t meshing properly, despite the majority of obviously matched pieces in the immediate vicinity and beyond. I can understand having one piece occasionally placed incorrectly, but this implied there had to be many pieces wrongly placed.

I took the picture on the left with the intent of describing my plight here, but after posting that image, I noticed the obvious open pattern in the upper right corner. Could it be?

I went back and checked.

Yep. Six pieces across on the right, for about three-quarters of the height of the puzzle, needed to move up two positions. The image on the right was taken after I fixed the problem.

This puzzle has a lot of pieces that are cut too similarly in addition to enough repeating patterns of darkness that it has me struggling a bit to ensure I’ve placed them in the correct spot.

Regardless, I continue to enjoy it immensely and was able to use some of my reclaimed blogging time of the previous few days to puzzle, in between tending to all the other responsibilities of the ranch and my day-job while Cyndie is in Florida.

The little break I’ve taken from daily blogging has served me well thus far.

Thanks for bearing with my change to a less predictable posting routine!

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Written by johnwhays

January 29, 2020 at 7:00 am

Slowing Down

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I’m going to try something new. With apologies to those of you who have told me how much you enjoy checking in every morning to read or view my daily “relative somethings,” I have decided to readjust my energies to free up time that I have been holding in reserve every day for over a decade.

I am not going to commit to how this change will play out, other than to announce that I am moving away from my old priority of striving to assure a new post every single day. This isn’t the first time I have considered making this sort of change, so I already have some ideas I may try out going forward.

One possibility I have favored in the past would be to post a single picture. That seems like it wouldn’t take much time. However, I have learned from experience that my picture-taking often goes in spurts and days can pass when I don’t get out with the camera. If I committed to posting a daily picture, I would still be in the mode of reserving some time every day to achieve that.

There are also fewer daily stories to tell about our adventures here since we returned the horses and Wintervale activity has dwindled, so, to spare you repeating versions of ‘me walking Delilah’ or ‘me plowing snow’ (two things that have commanded my time and energy recently), allowing some quiet time between tales will hopefully germinate new content of more intriguing substance.

One can hope.

Of course, one other option I considered was to just cease blogging altogether, but being so “all-or-none” extreme was an older trait of mine that has softened with time. There is no reason I can’t keep this blog space open for use as more of a periodical. Weekly? Monthly?

Who knows?

That sort of mystery is one of the fun aspects of creativity. I will be creative about slowing down my rate of publishing posts.

Before I step away for my initial pause from daily posting, I’ll leave you with two images that made their way onto the SD memory card late yesterday afternoon…

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No critters were harmed in the recording of that adventure (but not for lack of intent).

I’ll be back before long. In the meantime, send your precious love out into the world during the minutes you would have been perusing new Relative Somethings in the days ahead.

Namaste.

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Written by johnwhays

January 24, 2020 at 7:00 am

Pet Fatigue

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Getting up at zero-dark-thirty, driving an hour to work and another hour home upon completing my hours of day-job duties leaves me a little drained for the full-time dog and cat duty that I’m faced with while Cyndie is away. When I walk in the door, Delilah is all fired up to get her pre-dinner jaunt around the property and guard the barn while I check on the chickens in their coop. At that moment, I’d prefer to get off my feet and close my eyes for a spell.

Luckily, the fresh air rejuvenates me and we have a good outing, but back in the house after that excursion and I am even more exhausted than I was when I arrived home the first time.

Cyndie’s been gone almost a week, with a second week left to go before she is scheduled to return, and I’ve been experiencing a contrasting mix of reactions to my return to solo (sort of) living. Having the whole bed to myself is a bit of a luxury that I am enjoying but it comes at the expense of missing another warm body to ward off the chill of cold toes. Stretching out at every possible angle and not feeling like I am bothering anyone is sumptuous, though, I just have to say.

I hate to admit that only half-way through this current assignment of tending to the animals had me wondering yesterday if there might be someone young and adventurous who would love to have a dog like Delilah live with them.

After Delilah repeatedly bothered me for attention the other night, I finally just stopped what I was doing and sat down on the kitchen floor to interact at her level. In no time, I had drooped to completely laying on the floor and she settled on one of her favorite spots under the table.

The thing is, when I get up, she does too. No rest for the weary.

I breathe a little sigh of relief after securing her in the crate that is her den for the night, but the respite is short-lived.

Pequenita recognizes the instant the dog is confined to quarters and happily steps up for her dose of undivided attention. If I am upright, she reaches up and sinks her claws into my pantlegs and if I am reclined, she begins delivering the headbutts.

She is not subtle about asking for a little of her own undivided attention.

I feel like the mother of infants who never gets a break from constantly having a child clinging to them. At least children eventually grow out of that phase.

I dare say, if I end up living alone someday, I have a strong suspicion I would end up choosing to do so without pets, much as I love the ones we have acquired in our years here.

This becomes significantly more obvious to me when Cyndie is away for extended amounts of time. Thinking back, the year she lived in Boston while I stayed home in Eden Prairie, I don’t remember needing to care for any pets. I don’t think I realized how easy I had it at the time.

Although, I wonder what I would end up writing if I didn’t have dog/cat/chicken tales to blather on about anymore.

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Written by johnwhays

January 23, 2020 at 7:00 am

Winter Slippers

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It’s about that time of year when I gush about my favorite boots for playing in the snow. For the most incredible comfort and warmth that I have experienced in a winter boot, I wear Steger Mukluks. It’s like going outside wearing slippers.

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That slipper-like comfort is actually one of the key reasons they keep my feet so warm. There is absolutely no constriction of blood flow in my feet because the boot surrounds my foot without compressing at any point. It almost feels like walking barefoot in the snow. Except for the part where my feet stay warm.

I’m also particularly fond of being able to just step into them and being ready to go. There is an adjustment strap at the ankle and a drawstring at the top, for occasions that call for additional constraint, but I rarely change either of them. I set them once and am able to slip my feet in and out with ease.

Wearing my mukluks to walk Delilah and explore off-trail is a sublime winter expedition through our woods.

Watching the sun fade behind the barn revealed the shiny frozen coating on the branches of our trees, a function of the frequent misty sleet that has been mixed in with our snowstorms of late.

A few hours after that picture was taken, we were out again for her last chance to pee for the night and I stopped on the high point of the driveway between the north pasture and the hay-field to stare up into the brilliant blanket of stars overhead.

Despite the clear night bringing the temperature down below 0°(F), I could have stood there for hours in my trusty old winter slippers, because my feet were perfectly comfortable.

It was Delilah who wanted to get back to the house. Too bad she refuses to wear doggie mukluks of her own. She does stand out on those bitterly cold surfaces with bare feet.

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Written by johnwhays

January 22, 2020 at 7:00 am

Ready

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you don’t need to forget

but you’re welcome to try

like a sneeze sneaking up for a very long time

I am coming

so get ready, or not

there are more stars in the sky

when there are no other lights

have you seen them with your very own eyes

the glorious stories they tell

from before we were born

have burned longer than we’ll all be alive

while we waste precious breath

hissing words we’ll regret

once we reclaim all our senses and pride

who is coming

are they ready, or not

our better angels flying round

every space in between

fill the cracks in our delicate minds

reminds us of something else

we might forget to apply

sending love is better than saying goodbye

there’s only so much time left

gather all of your pets

and paint portraits to remember them by

we are going

so be ready, or not

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Written by johnwhays

January 21, 2020 at 7:00 am

Floating Flakes

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All day yesterday snow-globe flakes floated magically out of the sky. It was mystical. I checked the radar in the morning to see if it was a temporary shower or something more substantial and the precipitation didn’t even show up. Somehow, flakes just kept falling from the time I woke up, continuing without pause through my last walk with Delilah in the dark of night.

It made for a gorgeous winter day. I occupied myself with raking snow off the last three valleys of our roof and then shoveling away the piles that resulted beneath.

There was a decent-sized drift hanging off one eave and plenty of straight accumulation built up on the opposite side of the house.

I let Delilah hang out with me while I worked, but by the time I moved to the back, she just stood at the door staring inside. It looked like she was hoping someone in there would notice and rescue her from the cold. I gave in and walked her around to let her in the front door.

Then she barked at me for the noise I was making on the roof.

Delilah got to have a real canine adventure Friday night when we took our last walk of the evening while the snowstorm was underway. While she had her nose in the snow investigating something that caught her attention, I spotted a field mouse skittering along on top of the snow.

By the time I got Delilah’s attention to come after it, the critter disappeared below the snow again. As Delilah hunted around near that spot, the mouse popped up right beside me and resumed its sprint to escape all this attention.

That was a fatal mistake. There is now one less field mouse roaming the ranch this winter and Delilah is feeling like quite the successful hunter.

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Written by johnwhays

January 20, 2020 at 7:00 am

Fly South

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Cyndie made plans to spend a couple of weeks with her parents in Florida long before the details of the latest snowstorm had materialized and didn’t guess that her planned departure would be timed smack dab in the worst of the wind and snow. Luckily, the impending weather allowed for a no-charge rescheduling and she nabbed a seat a day earlier, right as the heavy weather was beginning.

That just meant a little delay while the ground crews worked frantically to plow runways and de-ice planes. Not unsettling at all for wary travelers, I’m sure.

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Cyndie is a seasoned airline passenger and has been through this routine multiple times, so I’m sure she was able to take it in stride. I can’t honestly attest to her level of confidence because I was not there. No, I am not in Florida today, unlike her and our two adult children visiting their grandparents over the MLK holiday weekend.

More power to them.

While they were enjoying the bocce courts under beautiful blue skies, I had a day filled with a fair amount of folly. I had hoped to swiftly plow, shovel, and rake snow off the roof so I could also entertain the pooch who was otherwise woefully neglected in the warm confines of the house. When I left her tethered outside with me where she could watch, Delilah just sat forlornly.

If I have to ignore her while I work, I decided she might as well be inside where I don’t have to witness her sad face every time I pass.

When I started up the ATV for plowing, I discovered one of the front tires had an audible air leak. It was spitting out some of the green sealer that had been an earlier attempt to solve the problem. All that did was delay the inevitable, it seems. Short of a quick fix to remedy the situation properly, I opted for frequent returns to the shop garage for added air from the compressor.

Worked well enough to get the main driveway open for travel. I would come back later to plow around the barn and hay shed.

After walking Delilah and eating lunch, I raked the valley of the roof over the front door and then unburied the steps. By leaving the rest of the roof for today, my hope was to quickly finish plowing before needing to tend to Delilah’s dinner.

Then the cable that lifts the plow broke in the middle of pushing a deep pile of snow at the edge of the driveway turnoff that drops toward the barn.

The hour before the dog’s dinner was spent rigging a way to lift the blade so I could drive back to the garage so I could work on reattaching the hook to the next section of cable. That’s a project that needs three hands, so with my two cold hands (and one bloody finger) I dragged it out long enough that dinner ended up being late.

Yes, I was thinking about my family who all just flew south.

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Getting Out

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I’m burnin’ daylight, what little there is today. I have a full day of work ahead of me clearing snow and entertaining the “every-hour-I-need-attention” canine. I need to make this post short and get outside to shovel, plow, rake, and shovel again. Oh, and I need to reattach the mailbox, as usual.

The plow had only made its first pass by the time Delilah and I made our way down to the road to find the mailbox tossed down into the ditch. I won’t bother reattaching it until the plow passes one more time to clear snow off the shoulder.

Do you think this will inspire me to install a “plow-proof” mount that swings away? Probably not. I’ve toiled seven years already like this, so I suspect the most I might do is take another crack at erecting a legal obstruction to deflect the force of the snow spray away from the vulnerable surface of the mailbox.

At least the plastic sliding grooves are designed such that the box just pops off the base each time, so it can be replaced again with relative ease.

Time to go outside and play!

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Written by johnwhays

January 18, 2020 at 9:54 am

Weather Coming

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We’ve been warned that a major winter storm is on the way, so after work yesterday I did some preparatory plowing. All week long we’ve been getting small amounts of snow. Too little to warrant clearing each day, but enough that by yesterday it had added up to deserve attention, especially if we could get almost a foot more in the next two days.

I needed to push the old snow back far enough to create room for the oodles of new snow the National Weather Service has been warning us about for days.

While the weather is coming, Cyndie is going. She leaves for Florida today to spend a couple of weeks with her parents.

Looks like she picked a good time to be flying south.

If the predictions are accurate, I suspect I will spend the first weekend of her absence clearing snow.

Ready, or not, here comes some weather.

 

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Written by johnwhays

January 17, 2020 at 7:00 am