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

Archive for the ‘Chronicle’ Category

Another One

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We have been very lucky recently that the most violent of the stormy weather passing through our region has been missing us. Instead of 4 or 5 inches of rain, we have had 1.75 inches. Despite the wild panic Delilah has demonstrated over rumbles of thunder that occurred, no lightning strikes have hit nearby. Most worrisome for me over the weekend were reports of 70 and 80 mph wind gusts combined with golfball to baseball-sized hailstones crashing down.

That never materialized here. Still, for some strange reason, we continue to experience falling trees. On Saturday, I posted about the tree that fell on Friday, even though I wasn’t aware we had experienced any storm. By the end of that same day, there was another even bigger busted tree hanging across that same trail.

We didn’t hear that one, either.

It’s becoming an obstacle course to navigate that trail through the woods. Cyndie was away all weekend, so I respected our agreement to avoid using the chain saw when I’m alone and left the three downed trees across the path for the time being.

It’s probably only marginally safer to use the wood chipper, but I elected to work with that yesterday morning while I waited for the overnight dew to evaporate from the really long lawn grass. Mowing the lawn became the afternoon project.

The professional crew we hired to bring down that big oak that toppled, cut it up and left everything lay right where it was, which saved us a lot of money. Now I’m having second thoughts about those savings. Wrestling the branches to get them into and down the chute of the chipper is a real chore if the “Y” junctions aren’t trimmed.

It is a “pay me now or pay me later” process. I don’t want to spend time cutting every last branch, so I spend the time instead, trying to force the branches far enough down the chute to where the chipper will grab and break them.

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Most of the cut logs are so big I can’t lift them. They will get rolled downhill to where I can get them in the ATV trailer to be moved up by the woodshed for splitting.

The chickens seem to like scratching through the pile of wood chips. I have no idea what they were finding in there.

I will be very surprised if I don’t end up with a poison ivy reaction after that exercise. Right where I stood to feed the chipper, there was a known patch of poison ivy. I expect it was getting on the branches I was grabbing, it was probably getting atomized by the chipper, I was likely breathing it, and wiping sweat off my face with gloves that handled it.

I washed down thoroughly afterward, but time will tell whether I was being stupidly careless, or that my previous recent exposures with sequentially reduced reactions were an indication that my sensitivity is fading. I should know in a day or two.

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Written by johnwhays

July 22, 2019 at 6:00 am

Didn’t Hear

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If a tree falls…

We didn’t hear a thing, but there is another tree across the trail along our western border. I’m not sure there was even a storm that occurred here since that tree came down, although it was rather windy yesterday.

It was a hot wind for the most part, although the high dew point of 78°(F) caused enough sweating that the air moving across wet skin provided a nice cooling effect. I monitored the storm activity going on to the north all day yesterday, and witnessed some serious damage from hail and downed trees, but the thunderstorms never spread down to us.

I should be more thankful, but part of me feels like we missed out on a big shift of conditions that storms provide. Our temperature and humidity just quietly eased a little overnight. This morning the thunderstorm activity is sliding across just to our south, showing an outside possibility of reaching us before the day is out.

Apparently, Delilah didn’t hear or smell the deer that was laying about 10 feet off the trail this morning. She obviously didn’t see it, despite the rather obvious way the light brown color stood out against the dark earth and green foliage of the surroundings. I decided not to stop for a photo in order to allow this brave animal to remain in place as a reward for it trusting we were not a threat.

I offered a greeting as I passed and we continued on our way. I found it humorous that further along our walk along that perimeter trail, Delilah showed signs she smelled something of interest in the middle of our forest. Her behavior conveyed, “Hey! There are deer in there! Can I go see them?”

Too late now, pooch.

We had a date with the chicken coop to open the hatch and clean the poop board.

I’m pretty sure the hens heard us coming. They started up a chorus of pleas to be freed for a day of free-ranging bug feasting.

I was more than happy to oblige them.

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Written by johnwhays

July 20, 2019 at 7:07 am

Standing Straight

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In the few moments between watching documentaries of the Apollo space flights and dodging thundershowers this week, I snuck down the hill to the fruit trees Cyndie planted beside the labyrinth to stand them back upright. Between the saturated ground, the high winds of thunderstorms, and now the added weight of some apples, the tallest tree was listing to about a 45° angle.

It’s a little difficult to separate the apple tree from the foliage behind it in that image, partly because the trees and vines in the background were attempting to swallow the tipping fruit tree so they would get all the sunlight.

Despite Cyndie’s efforts to sell anything that wasn’t permanently affixed to the barn, we still had some t-posts available for staking the trees. As soon as I attempted to pull the tree back to straight, it became obvious the tree deserved to have three points of support if I was going to do it justice.

I had only brought one stake with me, so I decided to see if I could make that work for the time being. As long as the wind only blows in one direction for the rest of the summer, it will be fine.

We had a near-miss last evening as the dew point temperature peaked at 75°(F) and the sky filled with a variety of water vapor versions as a cluster of thunderstorms slid by just to our south once more. Within minutes of the gust that rolled over us, the dew point dropped to 67°. The sky was spectacularly entertaining.

The 7-day weather forecast is offering hope for several days in a row of sunny skies next week, so just maybe the ground will firm up a bit and hold the roots in the preferred upright orientation. Although, giving it further thought, at 45° it would be a lot easier to reach the apples come picking time.

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Written by johnwhays

July 19, 2019 at 6:00 am

Different Perspective

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I am thoroughly enjoying the heavy radio and television programming that has been focusing attention on the Apollo 11 mission to the moon fifty years ago this month. Last night it started with PBS NOVA episode 18, “Apollo’s Daring Mission” which tells the story of Apollo 8 that set the stage for the moon mission to follow.

Those who have had the privilege of flying in airplanes know the sensation of gaining a new perspective about the places we live from above. Just imagine what it was like for the astronauts looking back at the entire planet earth.

After that program, we watched “8 Days: to the Moon and Back,” a fascinating recreation of the Apollo 11 mission using actual recorded audio between and among the astronauts and Houston Control.

I was only ten years old when man landed on the moon. Reliving the experience fifty years later provided a different perspective for me that was significantly more informed.

What an amazing accomplishment that happened in my lifetime. I wonder if I’ll be alive when someone eventually lands on Mars.

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Written by johnwhays

July 18, 2019 at 6:00 am

Angry Skies

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When I opened the door to take Delilah for a walk yesterday afternoon, the sound of endlessly recurring thunder from the southern horizon instantly notched up her excitement to 11. She wasn’t sure what to do with the fact it didn’t end. The rumbles just kept rolling over, one on top of the other.

Our assessment of the tipped tree across one of the trails in the woods was akin to the old “We will rebuild” memes with a lawn chair tipped over post-earthquake.

Removal of this hazard will barely require the chainsaw, but that is not a complaint. Not by any means. I am thrilled this is the worst we suffered. The bigger tree leaning from the right side of that image is from our neighbor’s property and it was blown over in a previous storm. I will probably tend to that at the same time I get around to dealing with the little one across the trail.

It is wet enough around here again that the mosquitoes have become a nuisance that will make lumberjacking a less pleasant endeavor. There may be a rudimentary trim that happens in the short term, leaving the ultimate cleanup for more inviting fall-like weather in a couple of months.

The chickens were undisturbed about the angry sky rumbling almost overhead and came out of the tall grass to be sociable when I stopped by to pick eggs.

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The cut fields from last weekend haven’t even been raked into windrows yet. They just haven’t caught a break this summer for getting enough consecutive rain-free days to allow the grass to dry sufficiently for baling. It’s really sad to watch. I would really be suffering emotionally if we were depending on it to feed horses.

I can’t imagine how all the others who need hay are dealing with it this summer.

By luck, our fields were missed by the round of cloudbursts that moved past just to our south yesterday, but chances don’t look promising for later today.

The angry skies seem to echo the vibrations coming from my news radio covering U.S. politics.

Boy, do I miss blue skies, dry days, sunshine, and benevolent leadership.

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Written by johnwhays

July 17, 2019 at 6:00 am

Free Show

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Nature put on quite a show last night. We swung from oppressive heat and humidity in the afternoon to a sky-mazing thunderstorm that moved in with such darkness it got the chickens to enter the coop an hour early. Well, full disclosure: it took a little coercion from Cyndie to get the last two to move inside because there was still a sliver of daylight visible in the sky, opposite the direction from which the storm was approaching.

They weren’t all being fooled.

Cyndie dashed back in the house just before the full force of the deluge began to pound down. We received about an inch and a half of rain in roughly an hour’s time.

From inside the house, it was unclear how severe the wind gusted, but there was enough to open a rare, but not unprecedented, leak over the toilet in the bathroom. Only certain combinations of wind and water trigger that short-lived breach of our shingles.

Earlier, Cyndie had already reported the dramatic storm that rolled over us on Sunday night (which I successfully slept through) had tipped a tree that is now leaning across the west border trail in our woods. There will need to be additional reconnaissance later today to check for even newer toppled trees or branches from this storm.

During the roar of the downpour, it was hard to hear how much thunder there was, but based on Delilah’s reaction, it was occurring regularly. After the rain stopped, it seemed like the lightning and thunder became more intense. I know the dog’s barking sure did.

As the sun sank closer to the horizon, the back side of the storm clouds moved clear to allow for a nice double rainbow. At the time, there were still some spectacular flashes of lightning happening, so it provided quite a visual splendor.

The rain brought down the temperature to a more comfortable level, but the humidity still lingered. Unfortunately, our normally wonderful geothermal AC system is displaying a fault that showed up before bedtime, so we opened up the windows for the relatively fresh overnight air.

The storm offered a dramatic weather show for free, but I don’t think the AC service call today will produce anywhere near that kind of a bargain.

Frankly, though, when the weather is oppressively uncomfortable, functioning air conditioning almost always seems worth the expense.

A bargain at any cost, you might say.

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Written by johnwhays

July 16, 2019 at 6:00 am

We’re Humans

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Sometimes I imagine that it’s possible a time will come when everyone will understand the same realities. I suspect the ultimate truth will have something to do with love and the fact that “we all do better when we all do better.” (Paul Wellstone quote)

With the recent run of media reliving the Apollo 11 moon landing fifty years ago, I’ve been enjoying the glimpses of the worldwide reaction over the accomplishment. During the subsequent promotional tour that NASA scheduled, the astronauts reported a common reaction from people of all the countries they visited.

The throngs of well-wishers weren’t just focused on what the astronauts did. The common chant was, “We did it!” It was commonly seen as something that humans did to escape the bonds of earth and set foot on a different celestial perch.

Here’s to a day when all humans finally realize we truly are one.

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Written by johnwhays

July 15, 2019 at 6:00 am