Relative Something

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

Archive for March 2022

Perfect Delivery

leave a comment »

Surely, we are not unique in mentally steeling ourselves for the typical hassles related to scheduled deliveries. Way back in January, Cyndie was told she could expect our washer and dryer delivery near the end of March. We both took that prediction with a healthy dose of pessimism.

Amid the continued supply chain disruptions and ongoing pandemic, an upright freezer we bought was delayed month after month for nearly a year. We had little reason to trust the washer/dryer would be any different.

Alas, we were pleasantly wrong.

Cyndie periodically received messages alerting delivery progress, culminating with notice of an 8 to noon block on Wednesday morning. Then she got a call that they were 30 minutes out. They arrived right on time.

The question remained, did they have the installation accessories Cyndie ordered to convert the dryer for propane gas? Yes, they did.

As noted in the delivery confirmation message, the delivery crew could not install the propane fitting. Having prepared for this, Cyndie had contacted our local plumber to make, and guarantee, all the propane connections. They predicted he would be able to stop by before the end of the day.

The delivery crew loaded up our old appliances and took away all the packaging trash from the new ones. They made all the water connections and ran the washer to verify everything was in order.

A short time later, the plumber showed up and completed the dryer installation, letting it run long enough to confirm there were no gas leaks.

From beginning to end, everything transpired as perfectly as we could possibly imagine.

Color us very happy to discover our fears of a more troublesome outcome were entirely unwarranted.

The new washing machine will have a chance to prove its mettle very soon given the muddy conditions we continue to face outside.

In the last two days, we have received periods of heavy rain, including some lightning and thunder, followed by moments of sleet and slushy snow. The temperature has been hovering at the freezing point, and the water dripping off the fence wires was beginning to form cute little icicles.

When even the slightest breeze moved the tops of trees, similar frozen drips came clattering down.

I’m looking forward to a perfect delivery of some warm, sunny spring days very soon. Is that asking too much?

I hope not.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

March 31, 2022 at 6:00 am

Cobweb Covered

leave a comment »

They accumulate in every nook and cranny in our utility room. Cobwebs that rival haunted-looking abandoned buildings everywhere. That room in our basement is neither abandoned nor haunted but you couldn’t tell by looking at it. Admittedly, the fact that we have been keeping two annoyingly dusty litter boxes in that space has contributed greatly to the ambiance of abandonment. There is a layer of that cement-like dust on every surface. It even clings to the cobwebs to augment their visibility.

Well, it was time for some serious spring cleaning yesterday. The washer/dryer set Cyndie ordered last January is to be delivered today. Tomorrow, our geothermal furnace will receive its annual inspection. We don’t want the service people thinking we are complete degenerates who tolerate the presence of cobwebs in our living space.

I disconnected the old washer and dryer and pulled them away from the wall so we could clean the floor beneath them. As nasty as that was, being covered head to toe with dust and cobweb fragments was more annoying.

We ended up dumping money into our failing clothes washer last year when the lead time for a replacement was teased as being out to 2023. A short time later, the bearings on the drum of the dryer wore out and Cyndie renewed her search for new washer/dryer sets. She found models she wanted available in March of 2022!

We milked the remaining bits of functional life out of the dryer drum as we waited for this day to come.

Best of all, it forced us to get down and dirty, cleaning out the utility room to almost make it a pleasant place to be.

I’ve lobbied to move litter boxes to the basement bathroom since it gets little use these days. Let’s see how much dust gets kicked up in that smaller space.

Showers after yesterday’s utility room cleaning project was complete felt more refreshing than ever. I remember now why we let it get so creepy looking around the edges down there. It’s because it is so unpleasant to clean it up. We tend to repeatedly put it off for some future day.

I hope Pequenita knows how much dust and scattered litter we tolerate to have her live with us. It’s kinda like the number of my messes Cyndie tolerates in letting me live here, too.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

March 30, 2022 at 6:00 am

Still Works

leave a comment »

I have no recollection of the last time I hooked up my old stereo equipment, but every ten years or so isn’t a bad plan for a trip down memory lane. The old Marantz 2220B that I bought in the late 1970s from Midwest Stereo when I was probably 19 or 20 years old is still functional.

I’m thinking it has been on a storage shelf in the basement since we moved here in 2012. I might have set it up one time shortly after we arrived, but I can’t be certain. Brings back wonderful memories of the years when it was the center of my audio components setup.

I never was able to invest in constant upgrading of components that would have earned me a spot in the “audiophile” club, but treated my equipment like it was worthy for the majority of the time it was in service.

Cyndie authorized use of the dining room table for a temporary setup of the old turntable so I could spin some of the more unique albums she is looking to get rid of soon.

The platter spins, but not exactly at a constant speed. It has a built-in strobe and speed adjustment dials but the control is rather unsteady and the speed never completely holds at the spot it has been set. Oddly, it will randomly stray in either direction, fast or slow.

Regardless, I’m not listening in audiophile mode anymore and close is good enough. After checking out Leon Russell doing a classic “Youngblood/Jumpin’ Jack Flash” medley on the “Concert for Bangladesh” album, I moved directly to the one album from our old collection that I haven’t been able to find in digital form: “The Coyote Sisters” (1984). Leah Kunkel, Marty Gwinn, & Renée Armand.

If I can buy a recordable CD and figure out how I once did this, it would be nice to convert the album to digital so I can add it to my electronic library.

It is rare that I ever listen to full albums these days. I usually set my source to shuffle all the songs in my library and use the skip feature if it picks one I’m not in the mood to hear.

Another treasured LP from my collection is Eric Clapton, “At His Best” (1972) compilation. I found that the double album had two songs that were dinged up enough the needle would get stuck in a loop. That’s okay because I also figured out I just needed to download one album that wasn’t already in my digital library to get all the versions of songs on that “At His Best” album. Then I created a playlist in the exact order, named it, and assigned the album art for the icon.

Honestly, I think it’s a good thing I didn’t end up becoming a particularly picky audiophile.

At this point, I tend to hear most of my favorite songs in my mind even when they aren’t playing through my ears. I hardly use the sound from speakers except to trigger my mental files to play the version stored in the catacombs of my mind anyway.

It will be nice to have a refresher for the Coyote Sisters songs I haven’t heard in many years.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

March 29, 2022 at 6:00 am

Slowly Approaching

leave a comment »

We’re talking fiber, baby. A cable of optical fibers to carry data in pulses of light. It will be buried alongside the electric cables that already bring power to our house. Our rural community is slowly but surely being connected to the global information highway bringing speeds that have been the norm for people in cities and suburbs for years.

On my bike ride last week, I found the spot where they had stopped for the day and was thrilled to see the optical cable getting ever closer to our street.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

On Saturday, as Cyndie and I were walking Delilah around the hayfield fence by the road, a utility car stopped and a technician got out to survey the power poles along our street. I was able to chat with the guy and learn the phases that remain before we will finally get connected. It will be longer than we wish but it’s closer than ever.

Until then, it’s cell signals and 15GB of full-speed data per month limits. If we use that up, they throttle our speeds to insufferable levels. A fate that they offer to lift if we agree to give them more money. I’m too cheap to give in to that ploy.

Hassles and limitations that seem more tolerable with the pending improvement becoming more visible on our horizon every day.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

March 28, 2022 at 6:00 am

Ridiculous Reality

leave a comment »

Reality can be downright absurd. Still, we take what we get and forge ahead because reality doesn’t go away no matter how much we sometimes pretend things are otherwise. Regardless of how many distractions we find to escape into fantasy, reality is always there, waiting for us to return.

Our reality this morning at Wintervale is a rock-hard freeze of 13°F (-10°C), locking the mishmash of mud in the paddocks into an almost unnavigable pockmarked surface. Too bad that didn’t prevent the two chestnuts, Mia and Light, from almost running me over in a panicked retreat from the aggressive posturing of Mix. She has an annoyingly consistent need to disrupt the bucolic serenity by encroaching on the feeding space of Mia and Light.

At least we were able to enjoy a quick return to calm after forcing Mix back to where we could close some gates and allow better-protected feed pan grazing to resume.

The clear blue sky and bright sunshine are beautiful, but the ridiculous winter temperature at this point of our early spring is a bit of a slap in our faces.

On a stroll yesterday afternoon we took a moment to cut some branches with a handsaw in completion of a mid-way walking route through our woods. We added the first half of this shortcut path last fall and have enjoyed walking it so much we were inspired to complete the last portion. It will be nice to have the route adequately established before all the greenery explodes that would otherwise obscure it.

When we reached the clearing of our perimeter trail, I took a moment to re-stack a couple columns of balanced rocks that winter toppled.

How long do you think it will be until those views turn green again?

It’s gonna take a lot warmer temperatures than we are enduring lately, I know that much. A few warm days in a row and green growth will start showing up everywhere.

It hasn’t arrived yet, but we can see the month of April from where we are standing. It makes it all the more ridiculous that it feels like January today.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

March 27, 2022 at 10:19 am

Farewell Taylor

leave a comment »

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

March 26, 2022 at 9:24 am

Posted in Chronicle

Tagged with , ,

Not Deep

leave a comment »

If there is any consolation to be found in the mud we are currently enduring in the paddocks, it’s the fact that it isn’t very deep. Now, I’m not sure how much of that is a result of the underlying frost that has yet to thaw or the base of limestone screenings we’ve established over the years.

It is an entirely slippery, sloppy mess to move around on, but at least it doesn’t swallow my boots like deep mud does. I keep wanting to simply pack it down smooth but it doesn’t really pack. It just squishes out from under our boots or the horses’ hooves and leaves a new impression.

You can see my frequent back and forth path while returning to the wheelbarrow to dump scoops of what is now mud-poop. I’m collecting a mix that seems about 60% mud and 40% manure lately. It was actually easier to scrape the winter’s worth of mushy droppings off the mostly frozen ground than it is trying to scoop daily fresh poop this week.

Yesterday afternoon, Cyndie offered the horses a little grooming while they ate feed from the pans. Light accepted a little attention but didn’t last long before she decided she’d had enough.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

They seem to prefer their muddy coats for the time being.

Think about it. If Cyndie did succeed in brushing any of them head to toe, you know what they would do? Walk out, lay down, and roll around as soon as she finished.

It’s what they do.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

March 25, 2022 at 6:00 am

Foot Work

leave a comment »

With a fresh glaze of wet snow covering the ground and mud reaching its peak on the trails and in the paddocks, yesterday the horses had an appointment with their farrier. Convincing the horses that they should accept a halter for a few hours even though they weren’t particularly interested in doing so became a challenging dance of slippery, muddy footsteps.

With the added help from two representatives of the rescue organization, This Old Horse, the process went just fine and the herd is good for another 8 weeks.

We already had the herd separated between the two paddocks so Cyndie just had to occupy one horse while another was getting trimmed.

The last few times these four horses have been trimmed, Light was the least cooperative about standing on three feet and only received partial service. Yesterday, she didn’t relax entirely, but she did hang in there long enough for the farrier to complete all four hooves.

I’d say they all look really great now, except for the fact it’s hard to notice because their feet are submerged in mud most of the time.

When we are done at the barn and ready to head back up to the house, it’s time for the boots on our feet to get some attention. The residual piles of plowed snow provide the perfect boot scrubber.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Too bad the snow is disappearing so fast now that these few remaining piles will be gone long before the mud is.

The boot scrubbing brush outside our front door is an alternative, but it doesn’t work nearly as well as the old snow.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

March 24, 2022 at 6:00 am

Album Collection

with 2 comments

If I were ever to venture from this moment to visit and romanticize a period of my history, I would gladly focus on the pinnacle of my young experience, and it would have everything to do with vinyl LP record albums of my most adored recording artists.

My parents and older siblings all had records and I became familiar with listening to the music and studying the intricacies of the covers and printed inner sleeves. I would guess I was in my early teens when my sister Linda offered to take me to a record store so I could pick out an album of my very own.  My first.

I recall having no clue what to pick and walking up and down the aisle looking at too many choices of which I knew nothing. When I happened upon one in the front of a stack that had a brightly colored sticker touting a hit song, I decided that was the one I wanted. I’d heard the song on the radio, Black Sabbath’s “Ironman.”

When I grew old enough to know better, probably only a year or two later, I realized that choice was barely on the fringes of my genuine interests. Of course, interests evolve. I ventured in a few odd directions that seemed a stretch for me over time, but the constraints were more financial than musical tastes. Albums didn’t come cheap and it was prohibitive to buy an entire LP for interest in just one particular song.

If you didn’t own the record back in the day, you were at the mercy of a radio station to play a song you wanted to hear. Dropping my dollars on an album and bringing it home to break the seal of the clear plastic wrap was a momentous occasion. After setting the needle on the outside edge of side one, it was time to study the images and soak up every word on the jacket.

There is no experience like it today. Not when almost anything you can think of is available in a search of the internet.

The album art was almost as much of an experience as the quality of the music emanating from those vinyl grooves. Or is that, vinyl groove?

My first job after high school was selling records at the local mall. That broadened my exposure to new music and gave me the ability to bring home promotional albums I wouldn’t otherwise have bought.

When Cyndie and I got married, our similar but surprisingly rare number of duplicated albums merged to become one precious collection. That treasure was pared down drastically when digital music became the norm and I sold off all but one hundred gems that were either rare or meant enough to us we couldn’t part with them.

Yesterday, Cyndie pulled them out with a mind of continuing her momentum of purging possessions that we aren’t using. I’m considering pulling out my old turntable to find out if the belt on it is functional at maintaining 33 & 1/3 RPMs.

As much as I’d love to once again hear the music from old records I never digitized, I think I’m finding it even more pleasurable simply seeing the artistry of all those classic album covers another time.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

March 23, 2022 at 6:00 am

Spring Cleaned

leave a comment »

It is with much pride I can report the paddocks are now cleaned of the winter’s-worth accumulation of manure. It only took two and a half wheelbarrow loads. Loads that I will point out were much heavier than usual due to the highly saturated wetness of the droppings.

On top of that, movement of the multiple heavy loads was made particularly more difficult by the soft, slippery, muddy paddock surface highly pockmarked by water-filled hoof divots.

Therefore, my pride over the ignoble accomplishment. It was no easy feat, but that contributes all the more reward to having this spring cleaning job done.

I started while the horses were eating and when Mia finished she came out to join me. For some reason, it is not uncommon for one or another of the horses to take an interest in the wheelbarrow when I am plying my collection skills. It was as if Mia was standing guard while I ventured off in every direction to pick up piles.

It wasn’t until I decided to pause and take a picture of her that I noticed the other three horses had gathered at the waterer in what looked like a meeting of their minds. None of the three showed any urge to drink. They just stood in place for the longest time, facing each other.

As I resumed my spring paddock cleaning, I could hear Mia making contact with the wheelbarrow with her legs. One might assume she was rubbing against the object to scratch an itch except that there was little in the way of rubbing. She would push up against it and then stand stationary until deciding to adjust her position a little and push against it again and just stand.

Eventually, since there was a lot of old, wet manure and I work rather slowly, Mia began to get sleepy.

The ambient outdoor sounds and my methodical plodding/squishing to and fro, frequently tapping the fork against the edge of the wheelbarrow to release the messes I picked up, became a white noise that seemed to lull the horses into drowsiness. The other three were still standing together at the waterer, looking equally sleepy.

My stopping to take another picture of Mia as her eyes drooped broke the spell. By not continuing to walk around and periodically tap the wheelbarrow, I changed the routine sound of their white noise. Mia noticed instantly.

It was as if she was looking at me to convey, “Why did you stop and become quiet?”

Maybe she didn’t want me taking a picture of her muddy appearance with her eyes half-closed.

Yesterday afternoon, when I was cleaning up the day’s new manure, I discovered the next challenge for the wet weeks ahead will be differentiating between new manure piles and mud pushed up by a heavy hoof.

Keeping paddocks pristine is definitely an imperfect science.

.

.