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

Archive for the ‘Chronicle’ Category

Scrambled Fiction

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It wasn’t dark, or stormy, or even night, but that didn’t stop the hero from completing his appointed rounds. He was trying to figure out how to test his Halloween costume before the big night. It was the Emperor’s New Clothes, but would it work with a COVID mask? Probably wouldn’t matter. None of the classic costume houses were able to fulfill his request. Nobody would admit they couldn’t see the fabric.

There were no reasons left to seek an alternative. Half the people in the city would be sheltering in place. The rest would be out pretending there is nothing to worry about under the rare second full moon of the month. The only reason any of them would notice the mysterious greedy bastards had locked up the computers in all the hospitals was because it was all over the news. Filtering out the endless barrage of political ads allowed a few other strands of news to trickle through.

Nobody pays attention to that stuff anymore. After years of ridiculous daily distractions from the misdirection machine obfuscating reality, the masses have grown numb. Their stamina has been sapped. In is out and up is down. It’s easier to just make shit up than bothering to figure out what is actually going on.

Humans could take a lesson from chickens. They don’t get distracted by things that don’t matter and they won’t believe anything that isn’t visible to their glaring side-eye stare. There is a certain strength of character reflected in that.

All that character probably helps them to avoid the Halloween candy so readily available during the month of October. Now, mealworms, that would be a different thing. No chicken in its right mind could pass up that treat.

Things are a little twisted when you need to wait for snow to melt in order to finish raking leaves. But twisted is the new normal, so why not? The point isn’t to figure it all out, after all, it is to simply have a point. Otherwise, it’s all pointless.

Watch out for that guy in the Emperor’s costume. Make sure his nose isn’t hanging over the top of his mask.

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Written by johnwhays

October 30, 2020 at 6:00 am

Beautiful Views

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Despite human industrial activity dumping carbon into the earth’s atmosphere for generations, grass and trees continue to jam carbon back into the soil. Imagine if we had enough forests and fields to reverse the changes our burning of fossil fuels has done to the atmosphere.

Thinking like that is more fun when gazing upon the beautiful views we enjoy than trying to wrap my head around the continuing damage that is being done every day, like driving my car for two hours a day during my 4-day workweek. Working from home on Fridays is a small token toward driving less.

We watched the NOVA episode, “Can We Cool the Planet?” on PBS last night. Seems reasonable to believe that we can cool the planet. The difficulty is whether or not humans will actually undertake the needed steps.

It certainly doesn’t hurt for individuals to strive to do their part, but the solution will require a collective global commitment. Based on the history of the human race, it is hard to picture how such a thing would even be possible.

Maybe an existential threat will be the difference that one day drives a coordinated response.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to plant trees and enjoy our lovely views.

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Peeping Kitty

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Monday afternoon, leaning back in my favorite recliner, my eye sensed movement out on our deck. Was that a very large squirrel that just went past the glass door? Nope. Soon, a cute little kitten was peeping in at us with a look that strongly hinted at coming from one who preferred the indoors to the wintery temperatures this October has been serving up.

Cyndie stepped out on the deck to do a little grilling and soon showed up outside the door with that bundle of cute curled up in her hands.

It quickly turned into a rescue operation. Now we have a converted chick brooder tub housing the adorable visitor under temporary quarantine in the somewhat heated shop outbuilding.

According to Cyndie’s reports, the little bugger displayed a voracious appetite for foodstuffs offered. A post with photo was created for the online neighborhood group in search of a possible owner. Phone calls to immediately adjacent properties brought no positive identifications. It’s hard to picture this little one traveling over the large rural expanses beyond visible neighbors to reach our door, but we are guessing that is the situation.

Last night we received a reply from the wider online neighborhood saying, “Let me know if she needs a home,” so we have that solution awaiting the possibility nobody else shows up to report having lost her.

Meanwhile, although she says she is putting in a bold effort to not fall in love, I sense Cyndie is already past that point.

Pretty much saw it when she arrived at the deck door with the kitty curled up in her hands.

The resolution of this peeping kitty unexpectedly sheltering with us is unscripted. Feel free to place your bets on the eventual outcome.

I’ll provide follow-up details as the adventure unfolds.

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Written by johnwhays

October 28, 2020 at 6:00 am

Not Complicated

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For the record, in case you have grown numb to the subject and completely stopped paying attention, we are still in the midst of a global pandemic of COVID-19, a contagious coronavirus respiratory and vascular disease, the results of which have economies teetering on the brink of various calamities and stressing vulnerable populations in myriad dramatic ways.

Dealing with the ripple effects on our daily activities can get wearisome, I know, but giving up and sacrificing the best long term solutions in order to satisfy a desire to be done with it right now is totally counter-productive and basically downright irresponsible.

We will only ever be as successful in controlling the spread of the virus as the weakest link of our collective effort. Adherence to the best health and safety practices does not involve excessive demands on individuals in order to accomplish the goal. Is it really that hard to just pay attention to what matters in this situation?

What is being asked of us is not complicated.

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when you are around others.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Avoid large gatherings.
  • Maintain social distancing.
  • Monitor your health daily and be alert for symptoms.

As if we needed any more proof of the reality about how we invisibly spread droplets and aerosols by merely talking, let alone the more obvious coughing and sneezing, I encourage you to view the fresh evidence presented by The Slo Mo Guys followed by a couple questions from Gavin Free to Dr. Anthony Fauci.

We can’t *wish* this outbreak away. We *can* put in the worthy effort of enacting the simple steps to protect ourselves and others.

Don’t be selfish. Do your part!

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Written by johnwhays

October 26, 2020 at 6:00 am

Peaceful Coexistence

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It is possible that the early arrival of snow cover this October is playing a role in the normalization process of our two groups of chickens. For the most part, they are getting along… separately, together, if that makes any sense. They settle down okay in the coop at night, randomly mixing positions on the two roosts, but during the day, there is no mistaking the obvious distinction of three versus twelve.

Cyndie has cleared a clean path from the coop to the barn and the group of young ones follow on her heels as she heads to fill enough pans of feed to foil the older three who try to lord over that resource.

The hens are coping with the reality of needing to share the coveted space under the overhang of the barn.

The young ones don’t show any need to challenge the hens. Just the opposite. They are quick to retreat at the first approach from any of their elders, but probably just as quick to return in exploration of their ever-expanding horizons.

We are satisfied with the present state of peaceful coexistence and thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to watch things develop before our eyes.

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Written by johnwhays

October 25, 2020 at 10:00 am

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Perfect Balance

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If we have to endure so much snow in October, at least we benefited yesterday from a temperature that was the perfect balance for gorgeous falling snow without the need to plow or shovel. The ground isn’t frozen yet and the rate of falling flakes was not high enough to overwhelm the residual warmth in the asphalt of our driveway.

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It was snowing from the moment we woke up until very late in the afternoon but I didn’t need to lift a shovel.

I’m soaking up the pleasure of that to the fullest, knowing the feature won’t last.

This morning the temperature was down to 22°(F), well below freezing. The average for October is a high of 58 and low of 40. Of course, this is the year 2020, so, the word “average” doesn’t apply in the least.

These conditions are more in line with our December weather averages than October. We’re only about a month and a half out of whack.

Sing along with me… “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…”

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Written by johnwhays

October 24, 2020 at 8:25 am

Dream Visit

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It’s a mystery to me, one which I believe equally that either of two possibilities could be true. When a deceased person makes an appearance in my dreams while I am sleeping, is it because my mind conjured up the occurrence or because the spiritual nature of the passed soul placed themselves into the perceptions going on in my mind?

On Wednesday night, or actually, in the wee early hours of Thursday morning, I was having a series of fantastical dreams. At one point, I found myself seated in a booth common to many eateries, with Cyndie beside me and her mother across from me, and then Cyndie’s dad, Fred, showed up, sitting on the corner opposite from me.

It is the first time I have dreamed of Fred since he died in June.

I was shocked to see him, and incredibly thrilled. He seemed to acknowledge my reactions, flashing an impish grin as I scanned Cyndie and her mom who remained oblivious. I was so moved with his presence, the rush of emotions made me want to cry.

It being a dream, and my body essentially paralyzed, I couldn’t get myself to act on the urge.

My question lingers; did my mind choose to create this scenario of Fred’s spirit appearing in my dream or did his supernatural essence actually show up to connect with me?

Either way, it brought me a lot of joy in the moment, joy that lasted all day long and expanded each time I described it to people.

Of course, the best was when I had a chance to tell Cyndie about it.

While he was seated, he took a swig from what appeared to be a beer bottle. He looked really happy to me. The thought occurred to me that he could probably have a beer if he wanted in his afterlife. Fred had been sober about as long as Cyndie and I have been married. He drank a lot of non-alcoholic beers, but I don’t recall him ever looking as happy about it as he looked when tipping that bottle in my dream.

Did my brain conjure all that up? Maybe. Since I don’t really know, I’m happy just relishing the great feeling the dream provided.

It did nudge up the emotions of missing him a bit more than before, but the fun of seeing him again, and his looking so perfectly happy and mischievous was worth it.

Missing Fred is something that a lot of us are adjusting to and will linger long. If we could meet him in our dreams at will, I suspect it would happen more often than it does.

Maybe that lends a little credence to the possibility that appearances of lost loved ones in our dreams is more their doing than our own.

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Written by johnwhays

October 23, 2020 at 6:00 am

Mixed Seasons

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Delilah doesn’t care that a winter-sized daylong snowstorm blasted into our otherwise reasonable autumnal October weather on Tuesday.

The ground cover is now an interesting mix of snow and leaves. The natural world seems to have lost patience with this thing we call order. What the heck, bring on the snow. We don’t need to wait for the trees to drop all their leaves first.

Delilah loves it. While I trudged with great effort through the deep, wet snow in the woods, she happily raced to sniff one wildlife footprint after another.

I didn’t take Delilah near the chickens during our stroll after I got home from work, so I didn’t see how the birds were coping with their new surroundings, but when Cyndie returned from closing the coop as darkness fell, she reported full merging of young and old on the roosts.

How synchronous! Mixed seasons and mixed flocks of chickens.

Maybe the old birds will share their winter savvy with the young ones.

“If we act like we are stuck and can’t walk anywhere because of the snow, that lady who thinks she’s our mother will shovel a path to the barn.”

She already did.

I’m guessing the young ones have already learned that detail.

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Written by johnwhays

October 22, 2020 at 6:00 am

Heavy Record

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Not that I’m going to write about the weather or anything… I used to like snow. Yesterday we received a record 7+ inches of heavy, wet and sticky, white stuff. It wasn’t all that likeable for the adventures I faced. Honestly, I shouldn’t complain about my commute home from work, as it was only about a half-hour longer than normal. I didn’t witness any spinouts, cars in ditches, or jackknifed semis (of which the State Highway Patrol reported there were 17). Just slow-moving vehicles along my route.

I left work early to give myself time to arrive at my health clinic for an appointment to get my flu shot. The curvy entrance to the place was a mess of unplowed slushy snow and my four tires had no grip as I rounded a bend and slid sideways into the oncoming lane. Luckily, nobody was coming from the other direction.

The snow was so deep on our driveway, I decided I should plow. This was one heck of a first accumulation, coming in October, barely three days after I mowed the grass around the house and swept up leaves.

The chickens are freaking out over this weather and the young ones seem to have no clue how to deal with it. They got all wet and shivery but wouldn’t be coaxed inside the shelter of their coop. Cyndie ended up chasing every last one of them to force them in by her hands.

We forgot the solution from last year of stuffing plastic along the outer edge of the space between the roof panels and the hardware cloth that is the ceiling of the coop. It keeps out blowing snow. Cyndie reported a lot of white coating the inside.

I hope we aren’t going to run out of names for the winter storms this year like the weather service did for the hurricane season. Starting this early in the season does not bode well.

If they didn’t assign them alphabetically, I think they should name yesterday’s storm, “Yuck.”

Spoken like the old fogey I seem to be turning into as the years go by.

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Written by johnwhays

October 21, 2020 at 6:00 am

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Attitude Adjustment

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I’m not sure how much the weather forecast for today, Tuesday, of “Snow, mainly after 10am. The snow could be heavy at times… New snow accumulation of 3 to 5 inches possible” contributed to making my Monday such a mental slog. Of course, that wouldn’t be living in the moment, would it?

Guilty as charged.

We are probably more prepared for the oncoming winter season right now than most other years, but that hasn’t served to assuage the typical hesitation long commuters feel about the arrival of snow.

That wasn’t the only stressor that yesterday, a classic Monday, presented, all of which accumulated so that by the time I arrived home, I was exhausted. Cue the kitty.

Pequenita offered me a little feline focused attitude adjustment. If you have a cat, you know the drill. After a little meow and some purring, while she rubs against me from every direction, Pequenita often settles down on my shins to convince me that we’re good. She’s got me, and I’ve got her.

Let it snow.

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Written by johnwhays

October 20, 2020 at 6:00 am