Relative Something

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

Never Imagined

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I never imagined that in my lifetime the United States would become a laughingstock of the world. It’s rather embarrassing to witness our once-powerful democracy devolve into such a mockery of itself. We are probably the last ones to finally see the hypocrisies being laid bare with the blatant disrespect for last November’s election. The rest of the world has seen through our holier-than-thou attitude for a long time.

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Try as I might to preserve the sanctity of my mental space, I failed miserably last night at preventing the invasion of the outrageous gobbledygook related to an hour-long phone call of bullying malfeasance that was recorded for all the world to hear. Sad. So sad.

I sure wish there were swift consequences for such blatant abuse of power.

Thank goodness I have Cyndie and our chickens to brighten things up for me. In a perfectly timed intervention that adjusted my attitude splendidly, Cyndie shared this tidbit:

She decided to offer our chickens the aging remains of an unfinished apple pie from Christmas. She set the foil pie pan in the coop on Sunday night when she closed the coop. Yesterday morning, when she opened things up for the day, Cyndie said there wasn’t a single trace of apple, crust, or the oatmeal crumble topping anywhere in sight. Just a perfectly clean pie pan.

I guess it’s safe to say our chickens like apple pie.

They do not automatically eat everything we set out for them. Some kitchen scraps get entirely ignored. We get a little extra entertainment value out of the times we appear to have offered something that catches their fancy.

That little story lightened my outlook nicely. Like a sunny winter day after an overnight fog.

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Dry Ground

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Slowly but surely, our chickens are showing signs of adjusting to the cold hard facts of winter around here. They have occasionally been venturing out of the coop and over the weekend even made their way the full distance to the barn where they can stand on dry ground beneath the overhang.

I stopped by to visit with them for a bit, tossing out a treat of cracked corn and mealworms for their enjoyment.

They were being rather chatty so I played along and mimicked their sounds, pretending they would magically then consider me a member of the flock. Mostly, they just gave me strange looks in the way chickens do, with a tilt of the sideways turned head.

At the same time, several of them came over and lingered close, giving me a chance to feel somewhat included. I think they just wanted to see if I had any more treats to offer.

The winter sunlight through gauzy clouds illuminated the depth of hues in the fabulous feathers of our Barnevelders.

It was nice to see the chickens taking advantage of the dry space under the overhang. Everywhere else was as white as could be.

I wonder how long it will take for this brood of chickens to find their way to the labyrinth. Something tells me it won’t be until long after the snow has melted and we have dry ground everywhere once again.

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Written by johnwhays

January 4, 2021 at 7:00 am

Showing Off

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Some days it feels like nature is toying with us. Sure, fog can roll in at just the right temperatures, and overnight, ice crystals will form on tree branches. We love it! The look is festive and mesmerizing. So photogenic!

 

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You think you’re looking at the best scenery possible, but then nature lets you know you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Watch what happens when a little sunshine and blue sky is added to the scene.

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Now it feels like nature is just showing off.

What a gorgeous place it is that we live where the four seasons play out with such dramatic diversity.

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Written by johnwhays

January 3, 2021 at 11:02 am

Virtual Hugs

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Flip the calendar. It’s another year. And here I sit, isolated from all but my wife. This doesn’t feel any different than the year that ended two days ago. Our cat, Pequenita just gave out a yowl of objection from the other room and Cyndie immediately responded with an admonishment to Delilah, sight unseen.

Once again, the dog was trying to play with the cat in the manner that dogs like playing. Pequenita has not once shown the least bit of interest in playing like dogs, including this morning. I wonder if I can teach Delilah to give virtual hugs.

Stuck in continued isolation for the unknown future, I am feeling inclined toward practicing increased focus on nurturing my metaphysical energies to travel the universe so I can mingle with the essences of all those whose vibrations resonate with mine. My heart loves others and I want to send that out in a virtual hug of your energies, all over the world.

But that is not all. I also want to send that love to those whose vibrations don’t resonate with mine. Like it or not, you just might get hugged.

Like the arms of my favorite tree, the reach is up and out in every direction, branching out in too many separate forks and arms to count.

We are all connected. Our thoughts and energies infectious. I don’t know if my love and wishes for peaceful feelings hold the power to eliminate anxieties and emotional pain in others, but maybe they can give a moment of pause. Provide a window of opportunity to choose a preferred alternative.

This may sound all too sanctimoniously philanthropic, but consider the possibility that there is a fair amount of selfish interest in my intentions.

I am seeking this path as a way of helping myself evade a tendency for doom and gloom. I don’t suffer so much from anxieties, but I tend toward a despondency of disheartened hopelessness.

I strive to love others as a means of avoiding a slide into my self-centered depression.

It’s what I can do from wherever I am, whenever I need. It’s choosing to make the world a better place no matter what virus or corruption or neglect is wreaking havoc at the time. It’s allowing myself to be happy in the face of misery.

In that, I see this as a win-win situation. Loving you helps me.

<virtually hugging you right now>

May you feel peace into this new year. May dogs and cats find a way to love each other, at a comfortable distance.

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Kissed

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if you were here
for the turn of the year
I’d have likely kissed you
kissed your soul
which I can do anyway
outside of time and space
between the essences
of solid dynamics
and ethereal planes
we intermingle
energy vibrations
frequency modulations
fantastic presentations
of lyrical singing
musical winging
brilliant beginnings
lighting like fireworks
crossing the sky
floating past planets
inside our brains
lasting forever
bonding like atoms
in complementary structures
so vast
probabilities collide
starting over again
a brand new calendar
with the very same days
another year older
and a kiss
blown on a wave

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Written by johnwhays

January 1, 2021 at 7:00 am

Allowing Happiness

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We did it! We have arrived at the last day of 2020, bowing respectively for the sad number of others for whom the year would become their last.

There you have it, right there in the opening lines, my perpetual dilemma. It is time to celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of a new one, but how can we celebrate in the depths of this disastrous pandemic? How did the people of downtown Nashville celebrate Christmas when the morning dawned with a terrorizing suicide bombing?

It’s not easy. But I’ve come to value the challenge of allowing for happiness amid a world of sorrow. Doing so is more worthy than the alternative of not cultivating joy simply because of all the things that continue to be wrong in the world.

I weep for those who are in pain, poverty-stricken, devoid of love, homeless, country-less, hungry, lost, forsaken, oppressed, unjustly imprisoned, or ill of health. Would that there comes a time when all people are free of the worst of possible situations.

It is reality that for every grand success of accomplishment worthy of celebration throughout history, someone, somewhere, was simultaneously suffering. For far too long in my life, I couldn’t reconcile the complicated mental gymnastics of untangling the two opposite realities that coexisted.

It has taken me a lot of practice to reach a place where I feel okay about allowing myself to be happy in the midst of an unhappy world. I don’t have any concise trick to offer toward how I achieve this milestone. I would say the primary factor is probably my developing a tenacity to repeatedly remind myself I am allowed to feel happy. Our happiness doesn’t automatically devalue the sorrow of others.

Maybe there is a trick. I would say it has to do with love. There I go again about loving others. If I am cultivating love for all people, my joy is not callously disregarding others who are hurting. I can feel their pain while experiencing my happiness. We are complex organisms, able to do more than one thing at a time.

We can celebrate the end of a difficult year, feel joy for our blessings, revel in the mysterious greatness of the universe, bask in the love of family and friends, and spread love to those who aren’t feeling it.

Bring on the new year. May it provide oodles and oodles more happiness for all!

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Written by johnwhays

December 31, 2020 at 7:00 am

Winter Landscape

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It’s not as harsh as it sometimes looks. I don’t mean to be gatekeeping, but images of a winter landscape are viewed best with a reference of having walked in the pre-dawn quiet with the squeak of snow under boots being the only disruption of the brisk surroundings.

To know the difference between how below zero feels on the skin compared to a day when it gets above freezing.

To see the muted lighting first hand, in a way a camera will never equally convey.

To absorb the full expanse of the sky from one horizon to the next while feeling the icebox chill emanating from the snow cover below.

A winter landscape is so much more than a photograph is able to capture, but that never stops us from trying.

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Written by johnwhays

December 30, 2020 at 7:00 am

Patterns Compilation

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When isolating at home for a weekend, I find more opportunities to play with images I’ve captured. Here is a compilation of four post-processed, cropped views from around our property for your viewing pleasure. They may actually prove more appealing as a set than were I to present them each individually. You be the judge.

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Written by johnwhays

December 29, 2020 at 7:00 am

Isolated Festively

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Over a holiday weekend that historically would have us venturing sixty-some miles to the west three times in two days to mingle and nosh with Cyndie’s relations, the Christmas of 2020 in all its pandemic isolation reduced our travels to one time to exchange gifts at her mom’s house. Distanced, masked, and without risking a shared meal, our children met us at Marie’s house in Edina on Christmas eve day for the briefest of gift exchanges.

Little did we realize before setting out in the moments after our township road had finally been plowed around 11:00 a.m., we were in for some of the riskiest driving we’d experienced in recent memory. From local roads to the interstate highways, the surface was frozen and slippery. Almost every mile, sometimes more frequently, we spotted vehicles buried in the ditch.

Approaching a speed that would require the use of brakes in order to slow down was taking chances that threatened an unwelcome hell of post-storm autobody appointments, not to mention bumps and bruises, or worse.

Every overhead message board flashed warnings of crash delays ahead. As we waited in one backup, a full-size fire engine forced its way ahead and crossed all lanes to block the two left-most. We crawled ahead to where the sight of a big rig was perched on the cement barrier dividing east and westbound traffic, front tires high off the ground.

Later, another backup wrapped around a helpless pickup in a center lane, lacking enough traction to make any progress up the slight incline.

Cyndie’s expertly cautious driving got us there and back without incident.

Back home with presents in hand, we settled in for three days of isolation that Cyndie masterfully enhanced with wonderfully festive meals and activities, while simultaneously continuing to practice post-surgery regiments for her knee.

We ate like royalty and dined on some of her family holiday classics. Beef tenderloin with horseradish sauce, marinated carrots, out-of-this-world skin-on mashed red potatoes, and dessert of unparalleled greatness, cranberry cake with butter-caramel sauce.

We sat around the fireplace and worked on a new jigsaw puzzle from Marie that depicted chickens that looked just like ours. Cyndie poured herself into new books and I spent renewed time in my world-wide online community, catching up on reading and writing there.

A text-chain of family members helped us to stay connected, but there was no getting around the fact we were home alone together at one of the most family-gathering times of the year.

Somehow, maybe due to an urge to make it feel anything but just another day at home, Cyndie took interest in assembling the jigsaw puzzle with me, something in which she usually finds no pleasure. I chose to match her change in routine by deciding to skip building the outer border first, a step that moved me entirely out of my otherwise rigid norm.

We had a blast with the task, each finding great pleasure in the shared experience.

Quite simply, it helped to make the entire weekend feel downright festive, isolation be damned.

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Contemplative Shuffling

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It appears that even deer recognize the benefits of walking the labyrinth path. Before we entered, Cyndie took a picture of the footprints on the path.

It looked impressive to see them so perfectly following the trail but after the first turn the deer tracks veered off across the paths and disappeared into the woods. I picked up from there and plodded along on snowshoes to lay down the proper series of turns and pass-throughs to reach the center.

By the time I finished, the overcast daylight was beginning to wane and the color of the image took on a different hue.

There were multiple turns where my double-stack of stones had toppled and were frozen to the ground in the middle of the pathway, but the primary route is now fully established in the base layer of snow. May it remain visible for the duration of snowfall through the end of the season.

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Written by johnwhays

December 27, 2020 at 11:00 am