Relative Something

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

Archive for January 2021

Another Stray

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We received a little more than a dusting of snow overnight, but not quite an inch. It’s annoying, actually, in a region where it’s not certain whether the paltry amount will melt or add to possible future accumulations. Does it deserve the effort of plowing? Should I clear the valley on the roof where ice dams often result?

There are more times than I like to admit when I have wished I had cleaned up a previous snow event that I originally chose to ignore.

Cyndie was pondering sweeping the fresh snow cover away near the barn for the benefit of our royal residents, the chickens. Heaven forbid they be forced to deal with the elements like feral chickens.

Based on their initial egg-laying performances, they are behaving more like wild birds than the domesticated coop-homed free-rangers they are. We are witnessing the successful initial use of the nest boxes in the coop at a rate of about 70%. The other times, eggs appear to show up in any and all locations where the brood happens to find themselves.

There was a single frozen egg discovered this morning next to the wall of the barn. Oops.

It’s hard to tell right now exactly which birds are laying among the thirteen. Based on the number of eggs in a day, likely 4 or maybe 5 are starting to produce. We are starting to get a routine of three eggs a day.

It’s a good thing our primary focus is not on gaining eggs, but on having happy, healthy chickens roaming our grounds. Eggs are just a wonderful added benefit that we try not to neglect.

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Written by johnwhays

January 31, 2021 at 11:11 am

Cheery Morning

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Neither Cyndie nor I are naturally fond of waking and getting out of bed in the morning. It tends to occur begrudgingly. I don’t view the occasion as being the opposite of not waking up at all, but rather of lingering in snoozeville and remaining snuggled beneath the warmth of our blankets and pillows. A much-preferred alternative.

Alas, pets demand and deserve timely attention first thing in the morning and Delilah must go out and the chickens want out of their coop for some breakfast.

This morning, against our everlasting preference, we both triumphed over the angst of getting up and entered into cheery histrionics while clumsily dressing and narrating and orating our comical foibles. I’ll just say, I’m not the one who has mistakenly ended up with bottoms on backward or inside out. I can’t claim that virtuosity with tops, however.

It was a beautiful day outside, reasonably mild in the hours preceding an expected bout of ice and snow on the way.

The chickens were all in fine form and very talkative while emerging from the coop to greet the day.

No sign whatsoever of sharing our hesitancy about greeting the day.

They continue to mature and are showing signs of dialing in the art of egg-laying. We received a 1-in-1000 double yolk the other day. By the looks of the size of the shell, that appeared to be an uncomfortable object to pass for a new layer.

Made for a doubly-delicious bullseye breakfast, however!

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Written by johnwhays

January 30, 2021 at 11:00 am

Quiet Here

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There isn’t much happening, which is a good thing, really. But it takes a bit of the wind out of my sails when it comes to chronicling the hilarious goings-on around here. Last night under the dramatic glow of the big moon it was all calm and quiet.

I tried to understand short-selling and all the excitement over the wallstreetbets sub-reddit escapades. We turned on a rerun of “Vera” on the local PBS station. I assembled the border of a new puzzle while Cyndie put together another scrumptious dinner featuring a homemade lentil soup that was aromatically simmering on the stove when I walked in the door after work.

Delilah harassed Pequenita in-between grinding her fangs on a beef knee cap treat. Only two eggs appeared in the coop nest boxes for the day.

The television news featured citizen reports of difficult attempts to get vaccine shots. I talked back to the tv, imploring them to recognize demand out-paces supply. If you want to be one of the first to get a shot, it will involve extensive effort or brilliant luck. The other option is to be patient and wait for the supply to increase.

Plan for the worst, hope for the best.

If one chooses to be patient and wait, it is good form to avoid whining and complaining about things at the same time.

By the time sleep pulled my eyelids closed at the end of the night, all was quiet on the homefront.

You won’t hear (read) any complaints from me about that.

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Written by johnwhays

January 29, 2021 at 7:00 am

The Value

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Words on Images

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Written by johnwhays

January 28, 2021 at 7:00 am

Weird Night

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Last night my feelings went through a bit of an unplanned roller coaster ride as a result of two different hours of television. Cyndie and I have settled into a routine of late where we turn on PBS Newshour during our evening meal. I think it’s a bit of a nod toward acting our age. The last month has been thick with political news but, thankfully, coverage has swung away from the outrageous insurrection and toward the refreshing articulateness of the new administration.

I sat down to a remarkable plate of boneless barbequed ribs and sides that rivaled fancy restaurants while listening to analysts and an incoming cabinet member speak clearly and intelligently about the issues of the day. It was delicious in every way.

Watching politicians who are able to speak without hyped manipulations of reality, instead, talking comfortably, concisely, and without animosity, is so refreshing it made me downright giddy.

Maybe I was just delirious over the incredible meal Cyndie had prepared.

It was bliss.

Unfortunately, about the time I should have been turning in for the night, Frontline was on with an episode about “Trump’s American Carnage.” I knew it would be horrific, but presented with Frontline’s high quality of documentary production, I couldn’t resist.

It was so incredibly opposite of the glee I enjoyed earlier, I almost forgot how good the new administration feels.

On the bright side, I didn’t forget about the great food I enjoyed.

When I stop to think about the last four years of enduring the 45th President, I am amazed I survived with my wits only partially dimmed. But I understand why I find myself feeling so emphatically thrilled over the contrasting ambiance of the entire administration that has succeeded him.

It’s a lot like that sensation you have when you finally stop banging your head against a wall.

The roller-coaster swing last night from high to low made for an unexpectedly weird Tuesday night.

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Written by johnwhays

January 27, 2021 at 7:00 am

Humorless Grind

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Here’s the thing. Given a choice between being serious or having a laugh, I choose the laugh every time. Unfortunately, a year into a deadly pandemic, I’m finding it harder and harder to encounter the amount of funny that I prefer in a typical day.

I suppose part of it is a natural result of Cyndie and me shutting ourselves in at home weekend after weekend. Laughing at ourselves gets a little old after a while when that’s the only humor we are finding. I should probably scour our bookshelves for something written by Dave Barry or my anthologies of Berkeley Breathed’s “Bloom County” comics.

Despite some people’s best efforts, jokes about facemasks or social distancing don’t quite satisfy. Any humor about the good old days “BP” (Before Pandemic) just tend to make me sad.

We were watching a movie over the weekend that included a scene in which someone made a wish and blew out the candles on their birthday cake and it made us cringe and yell at the screen to tell them to throw away the cake.

I got a little chuckle last night when Cyndie set down an open soft-cover book with the pages down and Pequenita became obsessed with pawing at the glossy cover like she was trying to move all of her kitty-litter completely out of the box.

Even when we find something funny and surprise ourselves by laughing to tears over it when it didn’t really deserve that extreme, the pall of pandemic misery is still stuck on everything like an oily film.

Making it through a full year of pandemic restrictions should be its own reward and the “light at the end of the tunnel” vaccine distribution is supposed to be fueling hope, but the stark reality of many months more of it all still ahead of us is quick to extinguish the best of laughs.

You’d think I might appreciate getting tickled by my face mask, but it just triggers sneezing and then I get the sniffles.

I don’t find sniffling to be very funny.

I’m pretty sure I know what’s really bugging me. My friends make me laugh and socializing has long been discouraged. Wisecracking banter loses all its charm through the clumsy video-chat apps. Makes me just want to put on my best mittens, cross my arms and legs, and slouch back curmudgeonly in my chair, I tell ya.

News reports are announcing that SNL is returning from their holiday hiatus this coming weekend with the first new show of 2021 being hosted by John Krasinski. Something to look forward to.

All I have to do is survive the humorless grind of reported new cases and more deaths for another five days.

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Written by johnwhays

January 26, 2021 at 7:00 am

Cyndie’s Helpers

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While I was outside clearing snow, Cyndie was inside doing some housekeeping. She reported that Delilah and Pequenita were both putting themselves front and center in whatever she was doing.

In the kitchen, no matter which way she turned, she needed to step around Delilah.

In the bedroom, Cyndie turned away for a brief moment before putting fresh pillowcases on pillows. Upon her return, Pequenita had already settled in place and was sound asleep on the pillowcases, holding the tv remote.

Although I didn’t have such friendly company helping me outside, I decided I was happy to be free of this kind of assistance while I worked, despite the obvious cute factor.

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Written by johnwhays

January 25, 2021 at 7:00 am

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Complete Opposite

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As expected, we received new snow overnight. Not a lot. Around five inches have been added to our snowpack. The most noteworthy feature about this snowfall is how completely opposite it is in comparison to the previous snow that fell. The earlier event occurred with temperatures hovering around the freezing point and resulted in a heavy, soaking wet wallop of sticky snow. This latest precipitation is all dry powder snow.

There is an interesting result of the snow being such light powder that fell in tiny flakes visible beneath our deck railing.

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I am impressed with how the “shadow” effect shows up directly beneath the verticle slats in the railing.

Cyndie captured the moment of the sunrise this morning from the vicinity of the chicken coop.

She was, as always, very accommodating of the chickens and cleared the path to the barn overhang before opening the coop so the chickens could make their way to that sanctuary for their breakfast.

I will spend the day accommodating delivery drivers by plowing the driveway and clearing pathways. Given the light powder, it shouldn’t take much time. That will allow me to get back inside to spend time on a jigsaw puzzle and watch NFL playoff games in full rest and relaxation mode.

In a way, it’s the complete opposite of the stresses of the work week.

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Written by johnwhays

January 24, 2021 at 11:14 am

Fading Clarity

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At the very same speed every day, twenty-four hours transpire. It’s our perceptions that produce the variable which makes time appear to pass slower or faster. I’ve described many times that I perceive my years of living in 20-year blocks. I’ve lived to twenty 3 times. For some reason, it is easier for me to process that perception than grasping that I have been alive for over sixty years. (61-and-seven-months at the time of this writing.)

It just doesn’t feel like sixty, except, never having been this old before, I wouldn’t really know how sixty is supposed to feel. The most tangible aspect of aging that I have experienced is my loss of perfect vision. Getting used to wearing glasses has been an arduous and frustrating adjustment for me.

Given lenses that offer a static level of correction for my continuously waning clarity, I add imperfect handling that constantly fails to keep them free of clouding smudges.

There is a benefit to my new norm of experiencing a fuzzy view. I don’t need to spend money on the latest and greatest high-resolution ultra-crisp display screens because they all look a little blurry to me anyway.

If I didn’t have a camera with auto-focus capability, I’d be sunk. Unfortunately, I now have a difficult time discerning whether the resulting images are worthy or not. Auto-focus is a far cry from flawless and I am now a weak judge of the resulting level of success.

Yesterday, we were out walking with Delilah at the moments of both the sunrise and the sunset. The morning was really cold and the wind-blown snow was mostly firm enough that our boots didn’t break through the crust. Delilah, being much lighter and trotting on four feet, had no problem staying on top.

In fact, we could see in her tracks that she was walking on her tippy toes to keep her pads from the stinging bite of the extreme cold.

I suspect that image could have benefitted from better focus.

I have a little more success with the long focus of vast landscapes. Sunset was a pleasure to experience and just enough warmer by that time of day that our urgency to get back inside was reduced.

Still, I perceive that image as falling short of my preference for a much snappier crispness.

There is an interesting dynamic in our house with regard to my slow decline from the glorious pinnacle of 20-20 vision and full reading-distance clarity, because, while this change is new to me, Cyndie has lived with blurry vision and corrective lenses her entire life.

It’s hard for me to ask for sympathy from her, although yesterday she admitted that she sees the difficulty I face since it’s a new adjustment for me that she has dealt with forever.

In the grand scheme of challenges we face in life, my learning to cope with fading clarity is a rather small one and almost universal for humankind. As the saying goes with all things aging-related: It beats the alternative.

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Written by johnwhays

January 23, 2021 at 10:32 am

Not Thinking

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Some people use meditation to clear their minds. Shut out the thoughts. What fun, I thought, …without thinking.

There is a trick that writers can use to stop all thoughts. Here’s how it works. First, sit down at the keyboard. Well, that’s about it. That’s all it takes.

BOOM! The mind is blank.

It’s like magic.

But that didn’t happen to me today. Nope.

Okay, it did. But I got over it. The day is dawning with a zero degree (F) chill, but otherwise quiet. We don’t have a lot going on today, beyond the wonderfully entertaining chicken jigsaw puzzle and keeping a cozy fire burning in the fireplace. Tomorrow we expect it to start snowing and Sunday I plan to shovel and plow.

I saw a news item about conspiracy theorists (paranoid delusionists) seeing “signs” in a variety of ways and places and it has me thinking two things. Part of me laughs over how many signs could be found everywhere we look and a more mischievous part of me wants to start putting out some secret signs of my own for people to discover.

Not sure what I could point them to. Love, I suppose. Maybe I could start a conspiracy that everything is about love and there are signs supporting it everywhere! You just have to look for them.

Think about it.

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Written by johnwhays

January 22, 2021 at 7:00 am