Relative Something

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

Archive for the ‘Chronicle’ Category

Some Leftovers

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Twas the day after Thanksgiving and all through the house…

I’m taking the day off today. Instead of something fresh, I present the wayback machine for anyone interested in revisiting a leftover blog post from the more than 10-years I’ve been posting to Relative Something. Doesn’t require reheating.

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Written by johnwhays

November 26, 2021 at 7:00 am

Maiden Grass

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Our ornamental tall grass by the shop garage is in its glory this time of year and deserves a shout-out.

These batches were here before we arrived and have never been thinned. They have become so massive we are talking about some possible locations where we’d like to see them enhance the scenery were we to transplant a portion. It will be an education as we’ve never tried transplanting something of this magnitude.

We have plenty of hosta plants successfully split and transplanted, but admittedly those are a piece of cake. This will just be a little upsized version of the process.

Initial research points out the roots are very strong and it will be difficult to dig through them. We have until spring to build up our strength because early spring is the time to transplant these tall grasses.

We’d love to have more locations of big grasses because they would be a great compliment to all our big sky views.

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Written by johnwhays

November 24, 2021 at 7:00 am

Believing Reality

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To read spur of the moment online reactions to tragedies unfolding this day and age one can get the perception that events in the world are more extreme than ever. Certainly, to everyone alive today, current catastrophes are extreme, but putting it in perspective of the span of time tempers that level of outrageous indignation over horrific events.

My initial reaction upon learning of the SUV speeding into the Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin was that I didn’t want to go to any more parades ever again. But think about it. How many parades have happened without tragedy? Dare I say the answer could be innumerable parade celebrations?

There have been parade tragedies before this one and there will be parade tragedies in the future. There have been outrageous trial verdicts, civil wars, domestic abuse, and dictatorial oppression. All are an insult to our sensibilities. The empathic response is to recoil in shared pain for those suffering.

Tragedies are a reality in the world that we must always remember to offset with the realities of joy and blessings that simultaneously exist. At the instant injuries are occurring, witnesses and first responders lovingly react to nurse wounds and support the aggrieved.

There is more peace and love happening in the world at every given moment than can ever receive equal attention from every newsfeed and mass media outlet that jump on each tragedy-du-jour.

Based on the endless breaking news feeds, perception is not reality.

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Written by johnwhays

November 23, 2021 at 7:00 am

Visiting Mia

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Saturday afternoon brought us visitors who wanted to see how Mia was doing and their first impression was oh so rewarding. To hear people say how good the horses are looking is wonderfully validating of our intentions and efforts.

This family had owned Mia when she had her eighth and final foal in 2018. After a thoroughbred broodmare is done having foals, the level of attention and care drops significantly. This owner was already living up in this region and Mia was still in Kentucky. Confident the horse would receive better care up here, they worked with This Old Horse to move Mia north.

When she first arrived from Kentucky that year, Mia hadn’t had a reason to naturally develop a heavy growth of winter coat and so she needed to wear a blanket through the cold season. Seeing the healthy growth Mia now sports brought them much comfort.

We have finally learned the foal count for each of the four horses we are fostering:

    • Swings  –  4
    • Mia        –  8
    • Light      –  3
    • Mix        –  3

It has given us a new perception of what Mia lived through after her racing career.

I wouldn’t say that Mia was overly demonstrative of recognizing her previous owners, but she was definitely more “present” than normal. She stayed at the gate in contact with us, while we chatted and gave some attention to the other three, for much longer than she ever does when it’s just Cyndie and me.

Since our visitors were eager to know what kind of place Mia had landed in, I guided them in a short walk around the bend of the back pasture to see the labyrinth. They showed great interest and were eager to spend some quiet time strolling the route to the center.

We had segretated the horses so that the chestnuts only had access to the hayfield and the other two could be on the back pasture, but my wish that horses would show up to stand close while the visitors were in the labyrinth didn’t pan out. The four horses had stayed up by the barn, which actually made it easy for our guests to connect one last time before they departed.

They are happy to see Mia has landed a good place and we are happy to know Mia has people from her past who still care about her.

I am extremely pleased to know that others believe our horses look healthy and appear thoroughly content with the home we are providing for them.

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Written by johnwhays

November 22, 2021 at 7:00 am

Powerful Hug

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It was in a dream, but not all dreams are equal. It was a physical hug that my brain perceived as a more tactile reality than any dream I’d ever experienced. Sometimes, dreams feel so real that waking from them results in a confusing reconciliation of the conscious world from the dream world.

“Did that just happen?”

“Where am I? What day is it?”

It was the kind of dream where my next reaction was that I needed to talk about it as soon as possible before it was gone; before I couldn’t remember it anymore.

Shouting, “Cyndie!?”

My first perception was that it started with my seeing a photograph of a youngster and older siblings sitting on the railing outside the back door of our Cedar Ridge Road house in Eden Prairie where my family lived in the 1970s. That was a railing that would not have actually supported us in the way depicted in this dreamed photograph.

I strained to clarify whether the kid was me or my little brother. The kid had just been given a fresh haircut and it appeared to be a bizarre customization of a mohawk. The front hairline –multiple steps of a hairline, actually– (how dream-typically unreal) was visible where it had been buzzed like a sheered sheep.

When trying to intensify my observance of the kids’ face, it morphed to defy clarification, so I decided it was my brother since I don’t recall ever getting a haircut like that one.

I looked up from the photo to pass it around to my siblings in the room, hoping someone else would be able to provide clarity and found myself looking into the face of my sister, Linda, who I haven’t seen in real life since she died back in 1997. What a shock!

Reaching out in disbelief, I touched her and found she was actually there and discovering that, embraced her in a bearhug of a hug, crying emotionally over the experience of having her in my arms once again.

In my real life of late, I am not aware of any particular triggers that would have refreshed memories of Linda in my mind, so this visit felt extremely out of the blue.

As amazing as that part of the dream was, it became additionally intriguing with the following.

After that powerful hug, the “dream me” moved into another room to process the experience and in that space, two figures moved past me to walk through a door to outside the house. It was Cyndie’s deceased father, Fred, and a young version of her living brother, Steve.

As he passed by me, I told Fred that I had just experienced being able to physically hug my dead sister, Linda, and he acknowledged my words with something of a knowing smirk as he continued on out the door. In my thoughts, I marveled that he knew exactly what was going on, while I was grappling with the unbelievable amazement I was experiencing.

That hug was a powerful and priceless experience with a loved one who has passed away.

The whole dream was almost too deep for me to decipher. It started in my unconscious and, beyond sharing it here, I am happy to let it continue to simmer and steep in my unconscious for me to absorb with time.

Feeling a lot of love this morning for loved ones who have passed during my lifetime.

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Written by johnwhays

November 21, 2021 at 11:27 am

Updating Benches

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The old log benches around the firepit up at the lake have aged to the point of being overly mossy and crumbling from decomposition. Another perfect opportunity for making use of the store of old lumber we saved from the resurfacing of our deck at home.

Elysa is up at the lake this weekend so I asked her to send me a photo of the benches as they looked yesterday.

It’s fitting to use leftover lumber because that’s how the original benches were made when the log home was built at the lake. Twelve-inch cedar log pieces made for excellent firepit seating.

My idea for replacements won’t be made of logs but they will have some cedar boards and be custom made.

I mixed in some green-treated boards for the added strength and weight to bolster the finished benches. After measuring the old log benches, I designed one tall one and a pair of shorter versions to match.

The results are satisfying and I look forward to testing them out by the lake next time we get a chance to drive them up. The simulated firepit on my driveway didn’t quite match the desired ambiance.

Gives me extra incentive to make the trek up to our favorite place as soon as possible!

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Written by johnwhays

November 20, 2021 at 9:15 am

Twenty Questions

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I’m not going to number them, so you’ll have to count if you want to find out if there really are twenty. It’s just that a question came to mind during my morning commute yesterday and I found myself mentally careening down a rabbit hole of not-necessarily-related questions that went on for so long –pretty much the rest of the way to work– I figured it deserved to become a blog post.

Now, if I could only remember what it was I was pondering so deeply in that westbound commute at almost zero-dark-thirty. Oh, that sentence triggered a memory of feeling really grateful to have been able to drive west in the morning and east in the afternoon during most of my working life. I’ve avoided fighting the daily glare of sun in my eyes while driving.

Speaking of being triggered, a song lyric during the morning commute got me to wonder, do people know who it is that taught them how to love? Or how come some humans can play instruments faster than my ear is able to discern? Have you ever heard Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper play Tall Fiddler? Wow. Seems pretty fast, until they suddenly go even faster.

How come I’ve never been able to get my left and my right hand to work together at breakneck speed to hit the correct notes at the correct time on the strings of my guitar? That’s just black magic to play that unrealistically fast and actually produce recognizable melodies with every note presented, if only for a micro-fraction of a second each.

When it appears like our dog is trying to bite the cat, is it possible to know which of the two was the instigator? Does Delilah suddenly start barking at something outside our house because of a sound she hears or some canine sixth sense that tells her there is an invisible thing out there that needs to be barked at?

Actually, I think it’s become a learned behavior that she is unconscious about. There was once a squirrel up in the big tree towering above her kennel outside. She barked up at it, logically. Unfortunately, now she barks up at that tree every time we put her in the kennel, regardless of any squirrel sightings. Does she associate being in the kennel with needing to bark up at the tree? Apparently so.

Are digital HD subchannels radio’s best-kept secret? Is it weird that one radio or television station is actually multiple stations?

Is there a general age break where the reference of something being bigger than a bread box no longer makes any sense? Maybe it has been replaced with, “Is it bigger than a video game console?” Of course, I have no idea if game consoles have a general size at this point, but I have seen pictures of people opening wrapped packages of the latest impossible-to-get hot item that have me thinking there might be.

Have you noticed how Cyndie’s photos have been more interesting than mine for the last few years? I am very lucky that she shares them for use on my blog.

Does it matter if I don’t offer answers to all the questions I am bringing up? Can you tell when my posts run a little long? Who’s counting words, anyway? It’s all about how long it takes to read, not how many words there are. You just skim the sentences like a speed reader after all, don’t you? What words catch your eye enough to slow you down and really read a full paragraph?

Without knowing any of the answers, it still just boils down to the question that started it all, do you know who taught you how to love?

I heard the question in a song.

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Written by johnwhays

November 18, 2021 at 7:00 am

Staying Put

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Upon seeing Ward’s comment on yesterday’s post, I realized I haven’t written about our decision to keep our rescued Thoroughbreds through the winter. It’s actually been a gradual process for us to come to this conclusion. Recently, Cyndie affirmed our intentions with “This Old Horse” and this set in motion preparations for winter horse care.

They are fully supportive and provided contact information for some volunteer caretakers living near us who we didn’t previously know about. If we find ourselves needing coverage during a time we will be away, “This Old Horse” volunteers can step in.

We might update the horses’ feed rations or nutrition for the winter. “This Old Horse” will bring us heated water buckets for in the barn stalls. We will be contacting their hay supplier to coordinate a plan for when we will be needing more bales.

It is a wonderful partnership that serves the horses’ best interests and gives us the support that enables us to provide them a long-term retirement home.

We are very happy to report the horses are staying put for the indefinite future.

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Written by johnwhays

November 17, 2021 at 7:00 am

Gentle Reminder

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This year’s initiation to snow cover came gently and during the weekend, causing minimal impact to our routine. We aren’t sure about the history of our horses’ experience with snow but there was no indication they were the least bit disturbed by the arrival of whiteness.

Their greater concern of late is the frequent report of rifles reverberating in the valley. In the days leading up to the actual 9-day deer hunting season, there are a lot more gunshots heard than the few bursts at dusk and dawn when the season is underway. My guess is early gunshots are a result of shooters aligning their scopes and firing their weapons in rehearsal for the real thing, based on a comment I heard from someone years ago.

Not being a hunter myself, I just rely on what others have told me.

After a single day, the snow is rapidly disappearing.

I’ll take that as a reminder that the transition of seasons doesn’t always happen in an instant. This year we have been spared one of those sudden blast storms with deep snow that ends up lasting the entire winter. I’m lookin’ at you, 1991 Halloween Blizzard.

Maybe I’m just getting old, but I’m perfectly okay with a gentle reminder when season-long snowfall is nigh.

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Written by johnwhays

November 16, 2021 at 7:00 am

Compare Contrasts

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I have mixed feelings about the comparison of our woods to our neighbor’s when it comes to the obviousness of difference in controlling the invasive Common Buckthorn. Do you notice the contrast in the images below?

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That line of green leaves on the low trees visible in the images on the right is increasingly dominating the understory beyond our fencelines.

It is pleasing to be able to clearly see the progress I have achieved in my vigilance to remove the buckthorn every year. At the same time, it is unsettling to watch the progress of the invasion playing out on the land surrounding ours.

Meanwhile, remember how happy I was to boast of stocking up on woodchips?

Cyndie has already succeeded in decimating the store of chips, distributing them far and wide for mulch around small trees and plants in the labyrinth and beyond.

We are on the brink of no longer being able to see most of the downed branches available for chipping with the arrival of snow season.

Yesterday, the driveway was still too warm to be covered by the first measurable amount to fall, but the leaves weren’t.

Our landscape turned white overnight last night. Animal tracks are clearly revealed this morning. I didn’t go out yet, but Cyndie said there were no bear footprints on the trails she and Delilah walked. Plenty of deer and an occasional bunny rabbit, though.

I’m going to be comparing our new surroundings today to the contrasting snowless world I walked less than 24 hours ago in my wanderings around the grounds.

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Written by johnwhays

November 14, 2021 at 10:00 am