Relative Something

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

Archive for May 2021

Leave It

leave a comment »

There are multiple meanings to the title, Leave It. There is always a little sadness in needing to leave the lake place, but today that is what we will be doing. There is also the old adage about poison ivy: Leaves of three, Let it be. Lastly, leaves are the theme of images for today’s post.

Starting with a sprout of poison ivy in a very inconvenient location.

A leaf shadow that seems about as perfect as the leaf itself.

There was an old oak leaf stuck to the side of this aging stand-up paddleboard.

Finally, a frame-filled immersion in the wonderful patterns of hosta leaves.

I’m going to leave it at that.

Happy Memorial Day to readers in the U.S. We will spend the day driving home and hopefully transplanting a few trilliums after we arrive.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

May 31, 2021 at 6:00 am

Spot It

with 2 comments

Can you find the secondary features hiding in plain sight in these images captured throughout my day yesterday?

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

How many did you identify?

That was purple-tinted trillium alright, but did you notice the poison ivy directly beside it on the left?

There was some complex chirping coming from the pine tree. Is that a nuthatch? You tell me. I didn’t have a long lens.

The coiled-up young fern was the focus and I didn’t notice the mosquito until viewing the image on my computer.

What was that lurking beneath the water, obscured by the wavy reflections? The old snapping turtle hanging out on the boat lift.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

May 30, 2021 at 9:08 am

Co-Favorite Place

leave a comment »

For all of my adult life, Cyndie’s family vacation home on Round Lake near Hayward, Wisconsin has been my favorite place. As I wrote yesterday, my affections are now split between our paradise of Wintervale Ranch in Beldenville and Wildwood Lodge Club up north.

I now have co-favorite places.

It is wonderful to be up at the lake again.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

As always, the special feature of the lodge club is communing with the other families and we received an early dose of camaraderie when the next door Whitlock clan showed up just after Cyndie and I arrived. Much love ensued.

There is a lot to do around the property to make it look less neglected as the ravages of winter appear to have wreaked havoc on anything left out in the elements.

Case in point: The front steps to the Friswold “cabin” for which I was so proud to have repaired a single paver block last summer are now failing en masse as the foundation underneath appears to be giving out.

Entire rows are tipping forward. I suppose it’s unfair to blame one winter for this, but it sure seemed fine last year.

I can’t blame the extreme state of the smoke clouded doors of the living room fireplace on anything but neglect to tend to the task of cleaning them in a timely manner. When Marie asked me to build a fire, I figured it wouldn’t add much to the ambience if we couldn’t see the flames. It took a lot of ash-soaked newspaper to rub off the insanely thick baked-on accumulation of smoke on those glass doors.

At least I had the joy of trying to ignite unseasoned firewood that had been supplied for our fire-building pleasure. No wonder there was so much gunk on the glass of the doors.

Maybe, if I love this place as much as I do home, I need to more equally split my attention to maintenance chores. Is the building of a lake-place woodshed in my future?

I would sure appreciate the luxury of selecting dry wood for our fires. So would the chimney flue.

The more immediate concern will be cleaning the beach today. The lake ice pushed a new berm of sandy leaves about a foot high along the full length of our beach shoreline.

What a wonderful location for putting in a day’s work.

My co-favorite place, in fact.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

May 29, 2021 at 8:52 am

Divided Passions

leave a comment »

I am torn between two worlds this morning. As thrilled as I am to be able to spend the next four days up at the lake for the Memorial Day weekend, I’m struggling over a great desire to remain home to tend the property, grow our bonds with the horses, and work on transitioning our chicks from the brooder to the coop.

When I got home from work yesterday, we decided to take advantage of the wet weather to transplant another pine tree. This one had sprouted just beyond the deck in a spot where there was little room for future growth. While we were pulling up the roots, Cyndie also extracted a fair-sized maple sapling, so we transplanted that, as well.

They are both visible in the image above, despite also being mostly obscured by a similar colored background. Our spontaneous decision to jump into the unplanned project swallowed up over an hour of time that felt like mere minutes had passed. Completing the transplants fueled a strong urge to get right back outside managing the explosion of growth everywhere on our property.

It will need to wait for another day. We are headed north this morning. Lake place, here we come! It’s been far too long between visits.

I hope the chicks won’t miss us too much.

We looked in on the Rockettes last night before bed and found them looking hale and hearty. Their wing feathers are coming along nicely. They are doing a fair amount of my favorite chick leg-stretch/wing-stretch maneuvers that look so yoga-like. Cyndie added a cover grate to their tub to keep the little test-flyers within the confines of the bin.

We want to move them to the big brooder in the barn as soon as we can move the Buffalo Gals to the coop. I expect that will be a project for when we get home on Monday.

Our current animal-sitter, Anna, a student in her last year at UW River Falls, will be tending to animals while we are gone.

I’m pretty sure I’ll be gung-ho about being away as soon as we hit the road, but I am definitely torn about wanting to be in both places at the same time. Too bad we can’t bring some chicks with us to the lake.

They’re just so cyoooooouute!

Go to the lake, John.

Okay, okay. B’bye!

Oh, and bring back more trillium when you return…

.

.

Written by johnwhays

May 28, 2021 at 6:00 am

World Within

leave a comment »

I offer my highest recommendation for all who have the opportunity to view PBS programs to seek out Human: The World Within.

Cyndie and I will often default to our local PBS channel when we turn on our television, regardless of whether we know what is going to be on at any given time. The first time we stumbled on an episode of ‘Human,’ I assumed it was a one-time stand-alone program. It was very interesting, but I was simultaneously distracted by other work I was doing on my computer, and I didn’t give it my full attention.

A week later, we came upon the next episode and I found myself unable to turn away.

By last night’s episode 5, Cyndie had set an alarm to remind us when the program was going to be on.

The combination of superb animation showing blood cells flowing or electric signals jumping synapses, plain-speaking expert commentary describing the hows and whys, and the incredibly specific topic of our bodily functions provides the classic result of being both informative and entertaining. I lost count last night of how many times I verbalized exclamations of my wonder over some brilliant aspect of how the intricate details of our bodies function.

Take a deep-dive into the universe that’s inside each and every one of us, by exploring a shared biology that we often don’t take the time to appreciate, or understand. Heart, brain, eyes, blood, tears; “Human” uncovers not only the science behind how our bodies work, but how what’s inside powers every moment of what we do out in the world. Personal profiles of people from around the globe become entry points into deeper stories about how the body’s many systems function.

It feels a little strange to discover how fascinating our bodies are, while I go about most of my daily activities unaware of so much of it.

If you are able, pick an episode and check it out. Then, watch all the other episodes, too. There isn’t a single detail covered that doesn’t apply to every one of us somehow. It’s the human body, after all.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

May 27, 2021 at 6:00 am

Trimmer Replaced

with 2 comments

Much as I wrestle over making purchasing decisions, this one was easy-peasy. When Cyndie received the call from the hardware store service desk, the list of damaged parts was so long, she couldn’t remember them all. Cylinder, piston, shaft… Can you say, ‘catastrophic failure?’

She asked what the cost of repair estimate was. She asked what a new trimmer costs.

It was cheaper to buy a new one.

They didn’t have any stock of the exact replacement model, which is on backorder with an unknown date of arrival. However, there was exactly one unit in stock of the next model up. The additional cost put things equal to trying to rebuild the old engine.

The decision didn’t get any harder to make.

Cyndie had them put our name on that trimmer and hustled her way to River Falls to pick it up.

In the nick of time. We are already behind in keeping up with the runaway spring growth of grass in the labyrinth, along our trails, and under our fences. Unfortunately, he or she who isn’t the one using it has to suffer the endless droning of the precious small gas engine.

If I time it right, I can be under ear-muffs and mowing on the lawn tractor while Cyndie is trimming.

Of course, the glorious quiet when we finally stop the engines is always a little sweeter when the moment arrives. That adds incentive to trim quickly and make short work of the miles in desperate need of being cut.

.

Reality

with one comment

.

Words on Images

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

May 25, 2021 at 6:00 am

Coop Cleaning

leave a comment »

The chicken coop received a thorough going-over yesterday as we took the first steps in preparation for moving the twelve chicks Cyndie has taken to identifying as the Buffalo Gals.

As we pulled out the removable portions, it was discovered that a few repairs were in order. A plank sealing a seam in the hardware cloth lining had come loose in the ceiling. A significant gap between the two overlapping segments provided ample room for small birds or rodents to wander inside.

Not any more. With that problem fixed, Cyndie put her attention to cleaning every surface and I hunted down a branch to make a third roost perch.

As we were preparing to put away tools and call it a day, I remembered the window covers that needed to be installed over the two side windows. I recalled seeing the flimsy plastic forms, covered in dust, stashed in the barn among a lot of other dangerous-looking objects.

Working together, Cyndie and I delicately, and successfully, lifted the covers out of the debris and headed out the back door of the barn to wash them. I was so happy these things had survived the hazards of removal and storage intact.

While I was washing the first cover, Delilah, the oblivious canine, walked up and stepped on it, busting it in three places as I shrieked at her, frantically shoving to get her off so I could pick it up.

That one now has some funky-looking tape on it, but it should still do the job of preventing rain from coming in the window.

At least the coop is clean! For the time being.

.

.

 

Written by johnwhays

May 24, 2021 at 6:00 am

Chicken Thoughts

with 2 comments

It was a good question. What are we going to do differently to protect our new chickens this time? When I heard myself answering, I realized how little in-depth thought I have actually given the subject.

Are we doing them justice by raising them amid the same risk of predation that decimated all our flocks before? I’m not sure.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Cyndie has dubbed them the Buffalo Gals and the Rocketts in reference to their origins.

My primary reason for wanting our chickens to free-range is for the service they provide in controlling bugs. I’ve also discovered how much fun they are as companions and that they convert the things they find to eat into amazing eggs.

I’m not against considering ways we might dissuade such frequent attacks on our flock as we recently experienced. I will put renewed effort into staging my trail cam in locations where I might capture evidence of visiting predators to give better confirmation of what we are dealing with.

It feels a little like our efforts to constrain water runoff and control erosion or prevent excessive sediment where we don’t want it.

Nature does what it does. Our best successes will come from finding constructive adaptations instead of entirely stopping things we don’t desire from happening.

Imagine the predation phenomena from the perspective of the flies and ticks that try to survive on our land. They are under constant assault from chickens.

Our chickens face threats from their natural predators. We’ve decided to not confine them to fenced quarters that would make it harder for the fox or coyotes to kill them.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Today, we hope to clean up the coop and try making some modifications to accommodate housing more birds than ever before. The Buffalo Gals will be moving to the coop soon. That will allow us to get the Rockets out of the basement bathroom and into the larger brooder tub in the barn.

We will give our chickens the best life possible for their time with us. Past demonstrations have shown their natural instincts help them control their own destiny up to a point. Their life here will not be risk-free.

For the time being, I guess we are demonstrating we are choosing to accept that.

.

.

Strong One

with 4 comments

We all have different strengths, don’t we? Yes. Yes, we do. But I am not sure about the comparison of muscle strength between my precious wife and me. This occurred to me yesterday after I got our lawn tractor stuck and needed to go get Cyndie to help.

Despite the more than three inches of rain that had fallen the previous 24-hours to thankfully soak our parched land, I was attempting to mow before things began to adequately dry. I was literally cutting between the trailing scattered showers.

Mow the front yard until rain started falling, park the mower in the garage.

Mow by the barn until it started raining again, park the mower back in the garage.

When I tried traversing the recently re-landscaped dip where Cyndie and I had rolled up the sod to dig out accumulated dirt, the tractor became hopelessly wedged in the muddy turf. I was stuck.

I was also in a hurry because a few drops were starting to fall again. I hiked around behind the barn, past the empty chicken coop, around the back pasture to the labyrinth where Cyndie was rearranging sunken stones and pulling weeds. She happily obliged my request for assistance.

Then, the woman who asks me to use my superior strength to open jars for her in the kitchen proceeds to pick up the back end of the tractor and move it over so my push from the front can roll it around the rocks bordering her perennial garden.

In my whiny sad voice, “Honey, can you come lift the tractor out of the mud for me so I can keep mowing in the rain?”

I know who the strong one is around here.

I’m pretty sure she lets me open jars just to prevent my ego from starving to death.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

May 22, 2021 at 7:00 am