Relative Something

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

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I wish there was a reason to believe I would never have to endure another storm like this one. It started nice enough, Wednesday, with a reasonable burst of good old garden variety spring snow.

Then the wind started to increase. That makes a big difference in any weather event. Wind takes everything up a few notches of intensity. It continued to snow, and the wind howled intensely, all night long. By morning we had 8 inches piled on the deck railing, in the small section blocked from the harshest gusts.

And harsh, the wind was becoming. The first thing I noticed when I got out of bed was a plastic roof panel on the end of the woodshed was flapping loose. The way the wind was raging, that panel would not last without some intervention.

We stepped out into the heart of the storm and struggled to fashion a quick, makeshift fix with rope and a couple heavy pieces of firewood. Meanwhile, the morning sky was growing darker and darker. I paused to clean the sticky, wind whipped snow on the front steps just as we got our first of several rounds of lightning and thunder.

It was scary to be outside. Actually, it was scary to be inside, too. The precipitation oscillated between snow, rain, sleet, and hail while the raging gales surged to frightening levels of intensity.









The sunrise and stormy sky created a strange, ominous glow that seemed to color the snow on the ground. Later, we learned that the orange-brown hue was actually Texas dust carried here by high winds.

This was a really big storm.

I fear the extremes we keep experiencing are soon to become the norm.

I wish I could say, no thanks, and just opt out when these inland hurricanes blow, but I don’t think that choice is available.

Feels a bit like living in a Hollywood disaster film.

I don’t recall, do those tend to resolve with happy endings?



Written by johnwhays

April 12, 2019 at 6:00 am

April Showers

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Yeah. These are April showers alright.

This storm arrived a little sooner than expected and produced a robust initial burst of snow, which chased me out of work early, in attempt to get well ahead of the inevitable afternoon weather-induced traffic disasters.

For the most part, I succeeded, needing only to slow down for a handful of congested sections, but not any backups that came to a complete stop.

My big day in court for jury duty today was foiled because the case settled at the last minute. That was good, and bad for me. Now I can get in another day of work, except it will need to be from home because the big storm is making the commute inadvisable.

At least I don’t need to try to navigate the scary drive to the courthouse in Ellsworth, either. My jury duty runs until April 30, unless I sit on a case, so a different trial remains an unknown possibility for a couple more weeks.

The short distance to the county courthouse was a drive I was willing to risk, if they hadn’t settled in advance, but the storm also created a threat of postponement that would have complicated my schedule, too.

The possibilities are almost too much for my little brain to comprehend all at once.

I am really looking forward to the arrival of May. It can’t possibly snow in May this year, can it?

And all these April showers will lead to blossoms of May flowers, no?

A guy can dream.



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April 11, 2019 at 6:00 am

Unbelievable Response

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Words you don’t want to hear when you are seated in an easy chair in the dwindling minutes before dinnertime:

“Honey, there’s no water pressure.”

What do I know about plumbing? Not much, but I know how to investigate. We cleaned the filter, but that didn’t seem like it was bad enough to be the problem.

I could see the pressure gauge reading confirmed Cyndie’s assessment of no water pressure. Next question was the electric control. I removed a screw and pulled the panel off.

Bingo! The capacitor had blown its top.

Um, now what? Who ya gonna call?

I asked Google. The first hit in the area was a well drilling contractor in River Falls that was listed as being open 24 hours. I don’t know how they can be open 24 hours, but I called and left my phone number and a brief message. I received a return call within about five minutes.

Words you want to hear when you have no water pressure in the dwindling minutes before dinnertime:

“I’m available to come right away.”

A half an hour later, the control panel was replaced, a new pressure gauge installed, and water pressure was back to normal.




Written by johnwhays

April 10, 2019 at 6:00 am

Doors Open

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Despite the strong spring wind roaring around outside yesterday afternoon, we opened both doors to the deck to let a few hours of fresh air into the house. Our weather finally switched from gray skies to blue, and the glory of spring and its infinite possibilities was radiating with vivid pizzazz.

Not to be a Debbie-Downer or anything, but… Cyndie walked down to visit the labyrinth and found this:

The multiple-language peace pole was toppled over. Cyndie’s winged angel statue was face down with a broken nose. In the distance, my “third rock” lay on the ground beside the boulders that previously cradled it.

I’m developing a grudge over the good old month of April. In my opinion, we should just trash the sweet saying, “April showers bring May flowers.”

I suggest something more up-to-date, like, “April is [@bleepin’#] Crazy!!

As pleasing as the afternoon was yesterday, it is mind-boggling to accept the warnings coming from our National Weather Service of insane amounts of snow that will begin tomorrow night and last through Friday. One to two feet possible!?

April blizzards bring pleas of insanity.”

Sometimes i get so frantic, sometimes i’m schizophrenic

Plead Insanity | Wookiefoot; from Domesticated – The Story of Nothing and the Monkey, released September 12, 2000 © all rights reserved


The squirrels seem to have kicked into overdrive on harvesting leftover corn cobs from the surrounding fields and bringing them onto our property.

I don’t understand their apparent fascination with plucking every last kernel off the cob and then leaving them lay where they fall. Maybe it’s like the human fascination with popping bubble wrap.

This is that weird field-corn that has a texture like hard plastic. It seems like it might rival the McDonald’s french fries for never, ever showing signs of decay, no matter how much time has passed since it fell under a seat in the car.

I’m wondering if the squirrels just keep trying to bite into each kernel, but drop it and move on to the next, hoping beyond hope that the next one might be like the corn their elders tell stories of eating when they were young.

Sound insane? It’s April, I tell ya!

They could be eating acorns, because there’s still plenty of those around from last fall. Although, now that I mention it, I suppose acorns could start to lose their appeal after endless months of nothing but.

April weather is like eating old, wet leather.”

It might be about to blizzard in April again, but we’ll re-open the doors soon enough. May is just a few blinks away, after all.

April isn’t all bad, it eventually ends.”



Written by johnwhays

April 9, 2019 at 6:00 am

Temporary Ripple

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There has been a stressful ripple in the fabric of normalcy for our family recently. Out of respect for the privacy of all involved, I am choosing to be purposely vague, but I would like to provide some context that was otherwise missing from my narrations of late.

There is good news in that, other than some residual post traumatic stress that will take time to process, everyone involved is okay, and everyone impacted is on a path of recovery from a powerful dose of hyper-concern.

Yesterday morning, with Cyndie home from Florida, our children gathered at our house for much-needed hugs and a large dose of comfort-food for a brunch.

Trauma has absolutely no respect for time and place, and it does a person no good to live in a state of constant alert for potential threats, so the sudden unexpected rise of calamity is, well… traumatizing. Compounded in this case because the incident grew out of a well-intentioned effort to offer support for a friend in need.

I guess this falls under the adage of no good deed going unpunished.

One thing that our recent experience has reminded me of is this: We can’t always know, in fact, usually don’t know, what people around us have lived through. That person next to you on the plane may have just been to the emergency room before boarding. Or a police station. Or both.

Last week, on my way to work, I approached a sudden slowing of traffic and soon discovered a crash had just occurred. As my mind processed the visual while rolling past, it struck me that the final location and resulting damage to the van indicated it likely rolled before landing back on its wheels. There were still people inside, looking to be in shock.

I was traumatized remotely. One of my first reactions, upon arriving at work, was to tell someone about what I had seen. Talking helps to process the intense emotions of trauma.

At the same time, telling strangers of our personal traumas is not a reasonable practice. Therefore, it stands to reason that we shouldn’t expect that others are freely telling us of theirs.

We can all hope that everyone around us is always having a safe and healthy day, but don’t take for granted the possibility that things might be otherwise. Someone you find yourself interacting with may be using precious effort to maintain a veneer of normal, despite riding an unspoken residual wave of some uninvited drama.

Hope for the best, but be prepared for the alternatives. Always give people space to have unseen reasons for the way they behave.

Sending love in advance to others around us is a pretty safe balm for what might ail a person.

Thank you to all who have offered your love and support to contain this temporary ripple for our family. It is helping to guide us all back to our preferred calm tranquility.



Written by johnwhays

April 8, 2019 at 6:00 am

Still Functioning

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It’s one of those days when the dog woke me too early and I feel like everything I’m observing is a movie in which I am not one of the characters. I guess that describes the majority of my dreams, so that is understandable. I slogged through the morning routine of walking Delilah and opening up the chicken coop, got all the animals fed, and here I sit.

Somehow, most things continue to function, including me, despite the inevitable march of time and natural inclination toward decay. The constant shifting of the earth is toying mercilessly with our fences, creating a laughingstock of my sense of order. The ramshackle construction of my chicken coop has resulted in two of the three main latches becoming mis-aligned to the point I wasn’t able to fully secure the side egg-collecting hatch last night.

Luckily, no predators noticed.

I’m told Cyndie made it back to Minnesota last night, but she arrived so late to her parents’ Edina home where her car was parked that she ended up spending the night there.

I wondered if Delilah got up early because she had understood me when I told her momma would be home when she woke up. I’d already put her to bed when the change of plans occurred.

One thing I didn’t miss while sleepily stumbling through walking Delilah this morning was the rich orchestral soundtrack of bird sounds filling the air. In addition to the chickens, pheasants, wild turkeys, and low flying geese, there were staccato drummings of woodpeckers and more varieties of songbirds than I could count. An unparalleled chorus.

Too bad I’m not as quick recording sound for you as I am at taking pictures. Of course, this morning, I didn’t even do that.

I’m still functioning, but just barely.

A warm sunny day would do wonders for my outlook, but that’s not what we have in store for today’s weather. More clouds and rain are on the way.

Sounds like maybe I could justify a nap. One where I can dream a movie of sunshine and straight fences, and latches that align while all the birds sing.

Speaking of finding myself in a movie, did I mention yet that I’ve been called for jury duty in my county in Wisconsin? The term here is 30 days, but I believe I’m released after serving one trial. I’ve been ordered to appear for a trial scheduled this Thursday and Friday, but need to call on Wednesday evening to find out if they settle out of court.

Along those same lines of barely functioning, I’m hoping for restful sleep Wednesday night, because I really don’t want to be one of those jurors who get chastised for falling asleep on the job.

Didn’t I see that in a movie somewhere?



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April 7, 2019 at 8:32 am

Early Worms

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The saying goes, the early bird gets the worm. The ground has barely thawed, but the chickens made a mad dash out of the coop this morning to scour the sloppy paddock for something. Are the worms already out and about?

I peeked out from under the overhang to see how wet it was because the sound of the rain on the metal roof of the barn made it sound like it was pouring.

The land is already saturated by the spring thaw, so, even though this April shower slowly moving across our region has been gentle, it has triggered some substantial flow in all the drainage swales. Water, water everywhere.

It always causes me to think about the people down stream, on the rivers being fed by countless other drainage tributaries. Sorry, you guys.

Maybe all the water will carry some worms for your chickens to find.



Written by johnwhays

April 6, 2019 at 8:45 am