Relative Something

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

Archive for August 2021

Rivers Running

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Last Thursday I was driving home from work in a dramatic thunderstorm. By the time I arrived at our house, the bulk of the rain was moving away to the east. I immediately packed my car and drove to the lake with little discussion about how much rain had fallen at home earlier that day while I was working on the far side of the Cities.

Last night, Cyndie finally showed me what it looked like here as heavy rain fell Thursday morning.

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The drainage swale across our back pasture was flowing like a river. The ditch that runs along our southern border looked like an even bigger river. I am very pleased to have just knocked down the tall growth along the center of that ditch only a few days before, allowing the flow to proceed unhindered.

As I was mowing all of our turf grass yesterday, it became clear that the rain we have received has made the grass very happy. It was very tall and has thickened up considerably from the last time I mowed.

Everything is looking as lush and deeply green as a typical June day, which is a little odd since tomorrow is the first day of September. Although, I did notice a twinge of red color starting in one of the maple trees by the barn.

The rivers are done running already, but the wheels of the lawn tractor revealed multiple spots where the ground is still saturated.

It’s a little odd thinking of people living in the path of Hurricane Ida who are dealing with so much calamity while our little flash floods don’t cause any trouble here.

Counting our blessings, for the time being, free of wildfires, earthquakes, and hurricanes, while sending our love out to those who live in regions experiencing some really challenging situations lately.

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Written by johnwhays

August 31, 2021 at 6:00 am

Almost Done

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We got close to finishing the woodshed project before calling it a day yesterday afternoon. All that remains is installing shingles on the roof. I plan to do that when we return next weekend.

Cyndie was an essential contributor to the progress achieved. We verbally sparred over the math to figure spacing as I wrestled with factoring in the number of spaces is one more than the number of boards.

She kept solving math calculations in her head before I could enter the numbers into the calculator on my phone. At one point, as I was cutting a spacer block to a dimension I calculated, she texted me the same spacer dimension she figured out while taking Delilah for a walk.

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With tools put away, I was able to grab the remains of the previous unprotected stack of firewood and move it into the new shed.

I look forward to seeing it filled with a couple of years worth of split firewood. We’ll need the first batch soon as cooling weather is about to bring on the days when comforting fires in the fireplace become de rigueur.

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Mostly Level

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It is soaking wet this morning but the rain held off long enough yesterday to allow about a half-day’s worth of effort on my assembly project.

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I continue to be challenged with thinking I have one portion positioned correctly while neglecting to notice an opposite corner was torqued at an angle at the time. I needed to add a one-inch shim to compensate for one such mistake but ultimately achieved near-perfection on getting the base established.

The best part of working on things up here is the ability to dive into the lake just steps away to cool off after a sweaty effort. We had a nice swim and quick sandwich on the deck before the rain dampened things.

Next up is constructing the roof. I’m unsure what portion I will assemble on the ground before lifting it into place. With luck, I will figure that out before it becomes too heavy for Cyndie and me to lift over our heads and screw into place.

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Position Precision

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Perfection is my nemesis and often complicates attempts to make quick progress on starting a project. Soon after I first started thinking about improving the way firewood is stored up at the lake, I was in a quandary about making the first cut of lumber to enact my plan. Obviously, I got past that.

Now I’ve got all the pieces staged and it’s time to start assembly. With four blocks for footings, I just need to set them in position. Simple as that.

I wish.

Is it square? Square to what? Level is easy, referencing a floating bubble, but square is a bit more difficult to ascertain. I start to doubt my visual perception after placing a board against what I thought was an acceptably positioned block to then find it is far out of line with my ultimate intention.

Getting the first block established finally provided a reference I could work from to place the other three. I am choosing to leave the ground sloped and support the right side of the shed on posts, but the exact mechanism is yet to be defined. I changed my mind twice already and the second time was after I thought I had the blocks in place.

I need to reposition them one more time.

When I get the two blocks on the right side ultimately located and leveled, construction should be able to commence at a reasonable pace, with just one hitch. It occurred to me this morning that I neglected to bring up any spare lumber.

While unsuccessfully trying to avoid waking my brain up too early this morning, I conjured up an improvement on the technique I had in mind to support the right side on posts. All I need is another plank or two of treated lumber and I’m set. D’oh!

I will use one of the cut pieces intended for the floor and bring up a replacement board for that one next weekend when we come up for Labor Day.

Before I get to any of that, I need to perfectly position those two blocks on the right end of the frame.

Here’s hoping I will allow myself to settle for good enough.

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Written by johnwhays

August 28, 2021 at 8:33 am

Shed Kit

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I loaded up the Crosstrek with more lumber and a few tools after work yesterday and headed north with the goal of finally beginning the assembly of the pieces cut at home to build a cute little firewood storage shed at the lake place.

Unfortunately, I will be up against mother nature’s decision to finally water the earth in this region for several days in a row. I am prepared for progress to be slow. I’ll take advantage of whatever breaks in the rain might happen in order to change this pile of boards into the structure I have been picturing in my mind for the last few months.

I look forward to finding out if the ideas I have been imagining will come together without a fuss. I want to stack some firewood!

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Written by johnwhays

August 27, 2021 at 6:00 am

List

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it was like a list
just lying there
bunch of words
one on top of the other
detailed
manicured
all orderly and stacked
tight
concise
basically like simple advice
it read with authority
commanded attention
unemotional
except for the sense
of nostalgia
it evoked
a simpler time
indeed
cigarettes
fish hooks
trundle bed
nothing that really mattered
answers for a game show
charade topics maybe
license plate
wastebasket
or bin
depending where from
the subject had sprung
what reason
spurred the creation
how the words landed
on that space
in that order
just in case
was far from obvious
dead battery
bags
trowel
random to a point
of seeming entirely pointless
but intrinsically powerful
nonetheless

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Written by johnwhays

August 26, 2021 at 6:00 am

Squall Line

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Cyndie was out walking Delilah on our north loop trail near the road when she captured this dramatic view of yesterday mornings’ approaching thunderstorm.

They didn’t make it back to the house without getting soaked.

We received about 2.25 inches of rain out of the storm that kept Delilah incessantly barking at the continuous big, bad bowling balls rumbling in the heavens.

Our surface soil moisture amount now seems to be enough for most of our lawn grasses and all of the weeds. There is more rain predicted for the end of this week so maybe that will do something for our root-zone soil moisture that is still sorely lacking.

I just hope we don’t get one of those dousings like Tennessee just received that caused the catastrophic flash flooding.

The trees on our property dropped so many branches they reminded me of the amount of hair constantly shedding from my head. The big oak that stretches across the driveway up by the house has started to shed acorns. After our effort last year to collect 100 viable ones for a planting experiment, I now feel guilty every time I hear a cracking sound under my boots.

“That could have been a potential new tree!”

Yesterday, it dropped so many shards of branches onto the pavement below, the acorns weren’t even noticeable among the debris.

Walking Delilah through the woods became a stuttering start/stop exercise for her as I was constantly pausing to bend over and pick up branches to toss them off the pathway. Several were big enough they required a two-handed effort.

That doozy of a squall line ushered in quite a dose of heavy weather. Maybe the next precipitation could come in the form of a slow day-long soaking, thank you very much.

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Written by johnwhays

August 25, 2021 at 6:00 am

Teeth Filed

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Any time you think dental checkups are a big deal, just think what it is like for horses. The vets grab the tongue and reach their arm into the horse’s mouth. The horse gets to wear a speculum that forces the jaw to stay open and the rasp is attached to a power drill that looks like the one in a construction worker’s toolbox.

It was actually the first time we have moved the rescued Thoroughbred mares into the barn stalls since they arrived in April. They walked in without hesitation, but since we only brought in Swings and Mix at first, the other two that were left outside became very vocal and upset about the separation.

We haven’t reached a level where the four horses we are fostering have shown complete comfort with us yet, so we didn’t know for sure what condition their teeth were in. Our suspicions were raised because the mares all show some difficulty eating the feed pellets we serve in pans.

Since the upper and lower jaws of a horse don’t align precisely, the outer edges of the upper teeth and the inside edges of the lower teeth can develop high spots, some of which can become sharply pointed. The rest of the tooth gets ground down by regular grinding contact that happens naturally from chewing.

Occasionally the vet needs to file or “float” the high spots to give the horse a fuller flat surface for chewing.

Our horses were mildly sedated to minimize stress during the procedure and allows the veterinary team to focus more on the inside of the mouth and less on the thousand pounds of unpredictable equine energy attached to it.

We were happy to learn that none of the horses’ teeth were in terrible shape. There were some other sore spots and understandable aging evidence, but nothing requiring additional treatment.

When the work is done and the speculum comes off, the horses are kept in the stalls for a couple of hours to nap until the sedative has worn off.

I was happy for the sedation because Light became very agitated when we got her into a stall, even though she was now inside with all the others. Luckily, she didn’t balk about stepping in there, but once inside, she became very unsettled. I wondered if it might be a Post Traumatic Stress memory of the life circumstances from which she was rescued.

The horses had a very interesting day because I brought out the big tractor with the brush cutter earlier to mow the high grass around the perimeter of the paddocks and along the edges of the pastures. They showed a healthy curiosity about the big machine and my activities, as well as an attraction to the areas freshly cut.

It is our hope that their newly floated teeth will make both their grazing in the fields and chomping the feed pellets easier and more comfortable for them. I also hope the sedation will have left them with little memory of the indignities to which they were subjected.

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Cabinet Customization

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The slide-out racks Cyndie found for our kitchen cabinets were not an exact match for the openings, but close enough that we could make them work.

I needed to use the full-width limit of what the door covers to create clearance for the full extension of the metal insert to slide out, but I accomplished it so few people will ever notice the notches.

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This will make it so much easier for Cyndie to access items stored in the back of the deep cabinets close to the floor.

While she had everything removed for the installation, we also made some decluttering decisions that will reduce the number of things crammed into those spaces, too.

Sure, those quirky kitchen devices meant to solve unusual challenges seem valuable, but if we’ve never used them in all the time they have been in our possession, how valuable are they to us?

It can be a tough call. If I applied the same scrutiny to many things out in the shop and adjacent garage, I would be hard-pressed to defend keeping much of what has accumulated out there. It felt a little hypocritical to be telling her to get rid of things from the kitchen.

At the same time, I am a big fan of de-cluttering, so wherever we find ourselves practicing the philosophy, I am willing to rally and play along.

Maybe it is a factor of having grown up in a home where we almost never stored a car in the garage because there was no room for one among all the other variety of things taking up that space. We rarely used the porch or the main basement room for anything but storage, either.

It has been a long-term goal of mine to always keep our garage clear enough to fit cars. On the few occasions when situations dictated a need to park outside overnight, it becomes important for me to not let the setup last any longer than necessary. I think that comes from an underlying sense that I could too easily succumb to the pattern I am so familiar with from my formative years.

I mostly reserve that skill for the top of my dresser in the bedroom and any flat surface in the shop or garage.

Maybe I should look into getting some pull-out racks to better organize the debris that accumulates on the surfaces I allow to become cluttered. At least I can park my cars in the garage.

It’s all relative, you know.

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Written by johnwhays

August 23, 2021 at 6:00 am

Thinking Contrarily

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The coronavirus variants are causing the pandemic to not go away as much as people wished it would. When not worried about a wildfire or flash floods ravaging homes, the threat of COVID continues to linger large in people’s minds. Some folks have decided to think contrarily about protecting themselves from the virus. Instead of accepting a free vaccine that is the prevailing solution for the pandemic, they decide to pay someone for a livestock dewormer.

Instead of thinking about how to protect their children from a threatening contagious illness by wearing a mask indoors, they choose to focus on how oppressive it is to be told to wear a mask and begin imagining that wearing a mask is actually harmful to their kids.

I get it. I have contrarian tendencies, myself. I choose to wear my belt so the buckle is on my side instead of front and center. Because, why not?

I’m wondering if the concept of virus variants prolonging the pandemic couldn’t contrarily be applied to variants of love that can improve the health and well-being of the human race.

What if oppressive regimes the world over were to become influenced by a new variation of love that morphed into one that overwhelmed their pillars of greed, power, and control?

What if a new mutation of common sense were to evolve and imbue the minds of people who have difficulty thinking for themselves or find it hard to recognize when a grifter is fleecing them?

What if domestic house cats overcame their urge to bother sleeping humans during the wee hours of darkness when sleep is so precious? Okay, that one is really a stretch, but there could be some variation of that tendency that is less crazy-making, couldn’t there? Please?

If thinking contrarily about controversial subjects can lead to some insane results, it seems only logical, being a contrarian, that thinking contrarily about non-controversial subjects could lead to some increasingly sensible and practical results.

A contrary decision to something good doesn’t have to be bad. It could contrarily be better than good!

Let’s put our contrarian tendencies to good use and find new ways to morph love into a continually more effective influence on the world at large.

Let love be the world religion. No dogma. No doctrine. Just L. O. V. E.

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I want to hear about variants of love that are more contagious than any previous love we experienced before.

Let it command the lead story of newscasts and fill front-page headlines.

Unstoppable spread of unbelievably contagious love!

Contrary to the norm, let it be that people grow to respond with more fascination and interest to headlines like these than to the negative stories of old.

Can you say, “enlightenment?”

Oh, you contrarian, you.

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