Relative Something

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

Possibility – Revisited

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First posted in April of 2013. I was doing a review of old images and this one resonated anew for me this morning…

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Words on Images

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Written by johnwhays

January 29, 2023 at 10:57 am

Almond Braid

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In order to practice standing with 50% weight on her repaired ankle, our intrepid hero chose to bake an almond braid the other day. Well, not just one almond braid.

“I just followed the recipe,” Cyndie said. “Next time I will cut the ingredients in half.”

A little bit out of practice after spending most of her time in a recliner the last three months instead of in the kitchen, I heard her regretting she forgot to glaze the braids with brushed-on egg whites. I noted her almond sprinkling looked a bit uneven, kind of like her balance as she occasionally hops to and fro, reaching for utensils, pans, or ingredients.

I don’t mean to appear insensitive with my critiques. She always encourages my honest opinions and sometimes calls me her “Paul Hollywood” when I provide insights about the dough being a little over or underdone or desired flavors not coming through.

The first bite was absolutely delightful, though having heard her mention the missing glaze, I noted the improvement it might have provided. As we discussed it, Cyndie clarified the braids ended up over-baked. Without the glaze, deciding when to bring them out of the oven based on appearance didn’t work so well.

The recipe suggested a bake time of 15-30 minutes which was a significant span of minutes. Possibly double the time! That left too much room for error.

I did my part to help justify her making two of them by eating more slices than my body needed. Then I found out she froze the extra one, so my excesses weren’t necessary. I tried to justify my extra bites by saying I was just “straightening the edge” but that didn’t really apply in this case. The cut edge was never “not” straight.

Last night, Cyndie felt discomfort in her ankle and said it felt like one of the screws was coming loose. Yeah, I needed to bite my tongue to not jump on that inviting opportunity to poke fun about loose screws.

The big concern for me is whether a new problem in her ankle will interrupt her comeback in the kitchen. Good thing she made two braids, just in case.

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Written by johnwhays

January 28, 2023 at 11:28 am

Pushing Snowbanks

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Just have a couple things to share before I rush off to catch the next episode of our latest binge-watch. Cyndie and I randomly chose “Suspicion” on Apple TV+ a few days ago with no advance information about the show. We are nearing the end and find ourselves struggling to explain what seems like plot holes to us. We keep wanting to see another episode to find out if the things we are questioning end up making sense once all is revealed. Maybe not the best reason to get hooked on a story, but it works for us during winter months when Cyndie can’t do much else.

We are being warned by weather forecasters that seriously cold temperatures are headed our way this weekend and could linger for almost two weeks. Under Cyndie’s wise counsel, I put blankets on the horses yesterday while their coats were good and dry. Snow was predicted overnight and that contributed to my decision to put blankets on yesterday even though it was a nice sunny day.

I took some time in the afternoon to shovel the shoulder of a section of the driveway to push back the snowbank. It feels really rewarding to reclaim the full width of the pavement (on one side, at least) and to open the way for easy plowing of the next big snowfall.

We had a dusting of just under an inch of snow on Wednesday. I’m actually hoping there will be enough new snow out there this morning to justify plowing. I’m looking forward to seeing how much of an improvement clearing snow will be where I’ve pushed back the snowbank.

Since the shoveling is a little tedious, I had plenty of time to ponder how I could collaborate with my welder to create an offset plow blade that would hang off the back of the ATV to push the snowbank back a few feet. If it were even possible to do, the Grizzly would likely not have enough traction to knock back the snow on uphill portions of the drive. It is hard enough to push away snow with my front plow going up the hills.

An offset back blade could work on the downhill runs I bet, though.

Yesterday’s picture was of how the sun looked first thing in the morning through the low clouds. By evening, the setting sun was painting a much more vibrant set of colors.

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Having Connections

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When we moved here over ten years ago, we didn’t know anyone in the area. Slowly, we introduced ourselves to our neighbors. We met some contractors who did some work for us. Eventually, I achieved a connection that I was particularly proud of having. I could boast that there was a guy in Beldenville who was, “my welder.”

Now, just because I haven’t needed his services since the initial job he did for me years ago, it doesn’t keep me from bragging about knowing “a guy” who can do big welding jobs for me. Lately, I feel like I’ve been losing connections. I no longer can say, “My boss” or “My coworkers.” I don’t have any.

Cyndie, on the other hand, is adding connections. She now drops phrases in conversation like, “My trauma surgeon” or “My physical therapist says…”

Yesterday, her physical therapist said Cyndie should keep using both of her crutches for at least another week. At their next session, she can review progress to see if she can go to just a single crutch for a time.

It seems obvious if you think about it, but her therapist pointed out that standing on both feet is putting 50% weight on each foot. I was thinking about that as I walked back from the barn last night and figured out I was alternating between 100% and 0% as I stepped my paces up the driveway. For now, Cyndie isn’t supposed to put more than 50% weight on her right ankle.

Interestingly, she is making progress, but her movements since Monday when she met with the surgeon for the follow-up assessment seem a lot worse than how she was moving over the weekend. That is because when she wasn’t putting any weight on her right foot she had gotten very adept at using a knee scooter or leaning on a walker as she whipped around in the house.

Now she is less stable in her movements because she is actually wearing a shoe and putting weight on the right foot. Cyndie got excited the other day because she could see some veins in her foot for the first time since the injury and subsequent swelling that persisted.

Before we know it, she will be renewing a connection with the herd of horses down at the barn again.

I won’t even think of asking her to lift any bales of hay until her physical therapist says it’s allowed.

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Written by johnwhays

January 26, 2023 at 7:00 am

Daily Transformation

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Some mornings when I open the door and step from the barn to the space under the overhang, I discover a scene that makes me imagine the horses must have had a wild party overnight. Did they have other horses over or is all that poop from just the four of them? They must have hosted a dance from the looks of things.

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I took those pictures yesterday morning even though that mess was rather mild compared to some of the scenes I’ve come upon. I had it in my mind to post a little before and after demonstration to show the regal accommodations we provide for the horses. Before I serve their morning feed, the horses wait for me to clean up after them.

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I appreciate their patience. It gives me a feeling of being connected with them. They recognize what I am doing and cooperate by allowing me to finish before taking up positions for me to set out feed pans.

Every morning I transform their space from being a crazy mess to looking like a royal suite. Maybe that is why they decide to have parties under there every night.

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Written by johnwhays

January 25, 2023 at 7:00 am

Two Shoes

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It felt like it had been a while since we got out to see the world beyond our place. For Cyndie, it was the first time she had stepped out of the house in a couple of weeks. The landscape looked like a postcard with the trees all flocked white with frost.

We were on our way to an appointment with Cyndie’s trauma surgeon. Upon our arrival, Cyndie was immediately directed to “Imaging” for X-rays of her repaired ankle.

It occurred to me that Cyndie and her surgeon might be a little biased in their assessment of the surgery outcome. They both want it to be as positive as possible.

That is exactly what I heard from each of them. I asked how soon she could carry a bale of hay and received some chuckles. I didn’t get an answer, but my point was made. The doc knew what my priority was.

He seemed a little surprised that Cyndie hadn’t walked on it at all up to this point, grabbing the boot to see if the bottom was significantly scuffed. We were in no hurry to overrule the doctor’s order. He said to wait, so Cyndie waited and I completely supported her staying off it. We had both grown eager to move on to the next “step” of her recuperation.

The surgeon said her foot looks great. He really had no negatives to mention. He issued a new order for her physical therapist, detailing what to work on. With great humor, he discussed all the issues Cyndie asked about and more. He pointed out where Cyndie will likely experience pain from tendons that haven’t been used for months, talked about shoe choices, and recommended “Superfeet” insoles for added arch support.

As we left the office, Cyndie crutched away while using that right foot a little bit for the first time since November 3rd.

First thing she did when we got home was dig in her closet for a pair of shoes. A pair. She hasn’t needed two shoes for so long, single left shoes were the only thing showing up.

Tomorrow will be the first PT day where she can put some weight on that foot. The therapist will need to guide her with advice about gradually increasing the percentage of walking pressure while still using crutches for support.

After being patient about doing any walking at all, there is no need to suddenly get impatient about losing the crutches completely.

I saw a comment yesterday about raising children that stated, “The days go by slowly but the years go by fast.” It feels like Cyndie’s ankle rehab will be slow in days, months, and probably a whole year.

I don’t expect her to be throwing around hay bales anytime soon.

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Written by johnwhays

January 24, 2023 at 7:00 am

November Third

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It was a Thursday, almost three months ago on November 3rd, when Cyndie took Delilah for a walk while we were up at the lake place. We had just spent two days watching some major tree trimming and removal on the Wildwood properties. As Cyndie reached the top step of the bridge that crosses a lagoon, Delilah bolted after a squirrel and yanked Cyndie back down to the ground. The impact snapped bones at her ankle.

Today, she sees the surgeon who screwed plates to her bones for an assessment of the healing and, hopefully, the doctor’s permission to begin physical therapy to walk again.

This has been our life since that fateful incident:

  • Thu Nov 3 – Anxious trip to Hayward Hospital emergency room with a suspected broken ankle.
  • Fri Nov 4 – Drive home from the lake with Cyndie in the back seat calling around for an appointment to be seen by a surgeon.
  • Mon Nov 7 – Drive to Woodbury for analysis by a trauma surgeon, then to Stillwater for a CT scan and COVID test.
  • Wed Nov 9 – Cyndie has surgery on her ankle in Stillwater, receiving metal plates and many screws to hold things together.
  • Thu Nov 10 – Delilah’s stomach issues (vomiting) becoming increasingly worrisome.
  • Fri Nov 11 – I bring Cyndie home from Stillwater hospital. Delilah has the first of a series of vet appointments.
  • Sat Nov 19 – Delilah has been refusing to accept prescribed medication and a new diet.
  • Mon Nov 21 – Delilah was put to rest by the veterinarian due to suspected acute pancreatitis.
  • Tue Nov 22 – Discover cut on Mix’s leg that requires a visit by the equine vet for assessment and treatment, including medications.
  • Wed Nov 23 – Mix refuses to accept medications I added to her food. Johanne from This Old Horse starts coming twice a day to administer meds.
  • Mon Nov 28 – Drive Cyndie to Woodbury to have stitches removed from her ankle.
  • Tue Nov 29 – First big snowstorm of the year that needed to be plowed.
  • Wed Dec 14 – Drive Cyndie to Stillwater for bone density test.
  • Thu Dec 15 – Second big snowstorm requiring plowing.
  • Thu Dec 22 – Mia gives me a big scare with an episode of choking in the middle of eating her evening feed. Minor snowfall forces more plowing.
  • Mon Dec 26 – Plowing required to clear drifts from the driveway as a result of blowing snow.
  • Wed Dec 28 – More plowing is needed to clear drifting snow.
  • Tue Jan 3 – Another brutal snowstorm.
  • Thu Jan 5 – More snow. As soon as one session of plowing is done, the process starts all over again.
  • Tue Jan 10 – Farrier visits to trim all four horses.
  • Thu Jan 19 – Heavy, wet snowfall triggers another round of plowing and shoveling.

In the previous ten and a half weeks, per the doctor’s order, Cyndie has avoided putting any weight on her right ankle. We have had our eyes set on this day as the time when she might be allowed to begin the process of returning to the fine art of walking on two feet again.

It feels like it’s been a long time since November 3rd but the time we anticipate it taking Cyndie to recuperate fully will be magnitudes greater, along the lines of possibly a year or so, if not longer. It’s a rather harsh notion to consider, given the challenging terrain of our property.

Today’s assessment by the trauma surgeon about the amount of healing that has occurred in her broken bones is very important to both of us. It makes January 23rd the next milestone after November 3rd from which we will begin measuring her ultimate recovery to safely walking on both her feet without supplemental support.

Here’s hoping for some great news!

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Written by johnwhays

January 23, 2023 at 7:00 am

Mostly Fine

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For the most part, we are good for now. The driveway is plowed, including the circle around the hay shed, allowing vehicle traffic. The weather looks to be settled for a few days of gray skies and temperatures below freezing. The thing that nags at me is that a change in either direction will produce complications I would prefer to avoid.

Here is a shot revealing the amount of pavement that has been lost to the mounds on the sides of the driveway that have gotten too high for my plow blade to be effective:

Ideally, I would plow the snow one blade width beyond the pavement to have room for the next big snowstorm.

Conversely, when temperatures climb above freezing and our snowpack begins to melt, I will be faced with a long period of water draining across the slope of pavement by the shop garage because I gave in and left a large amount of snow on the asphalt.

Water draining across that slope re-freezes most nights and becomes a real nuisance.

I suppose I could crank up the diesel tractor, scoop up the snow in the loader, and dump it on the downhill side of the pavement. I’m a little wary about the chains on the tires abusing our new asphalt. It’s like not wanting to see the first scratch in a new car’s paint.

More in the moment, this morning’s session with the horses was a delight in the magical frosty calm of a perfect winter day. After making it through the last storm without blankets, the herd seems content with their situation. They are all (mostly) dry and the footing is reasonable –not icy, not too deep or sticky.

When no vehicles were traveling past our place it was particularly calm and quiet. Not even a single neighboring dog could be heard making its usual announcement of existence.

“I’m here! It’s ME! Can you hear me barking over and over?”

After devouring their feed, the horses showed zero urgencies about switching to munching hay. There was nothing except a powerful sense of contentment.

I stood silently observing them for a few minutes before quietly making my departure toward the house for my breakfast.

For now, everything is perfectly fine.

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Written by johnwhays

January 22, 2023 at 11:34 am

Winter

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winter
dawn
snow
flakes
falling
piling
deep
everywhere
white
frost
ice
crystals
growing
blowing
melting
freezing
silence
squeaky
cold
bitter
biting
tracks
footprints
drifts
breath
clouds
dusk
gray
monochrome
darkness
stars
stillness
winter

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Written by johnwhays

January 21, 2023 at 11:00 am

Beating Expectation

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With 6″ of heavy new snow on the driveway and more falling yesterday morning, I figured I better plow before it got to be more snow than the ATV could push. While shoveling the front steps and walkway I discovered the snow was stickier than I’d expected, which threatened to make the plowing job too much for the Yamaha Grizzly.

Just as I suspected, the snow wasn’t rolling off the blade as fast as it was piling up in front of it. On the uphill climbs, it became too much to push and I had to back up to make a fresh start around the piles. The driveway was becoming a mess that I feared I wouldn’t be able to clear over the tall banks. I bought some time by focusing on clearing around our mailbox and at the start of the driveway. Then it was time to try making my way up the full length again.

The third time was the charm. I made incremental progress with each pass and was able to maintain a high enough speed that the sticky snow was finally flying off the plow blade by the end. I was surprised that I had been able to clear so much heavy snow as well as I ultimately did.

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The plowed portion continues to narrow compared to the full width of the pavement but it is wide enough for a vehicle. The old Grizzly deserves more respect than I was giving it.

I’ll give myself a little credit for being able to maintain forward progress as the ATV slid sideways against the weight of snow on the blade.

Around the middle of the day, we caught a break in precipitation that showed up on the radar as an isolated pocket surrounded by snow all around us.

As the hours wore on we received more snow but it was warm enough that most of it seemed to be melting on contact. Much of the driveway remained snow-free and very wet. Where it wasn’t clear to the pavement, another inch or two were getting added.

There remains plenty to clean up today and temperatures are expected to remain below freezing for a while so it will be a challenge shoveling what was soft yesterday but frozen solid now.

I’m feeling renewed sympathy for the people of Buffalo, NY, who had to dig out from under multiple feet of snow. It is getting hard for me to throw the shovels full over the growing piles along the edges. I don’t know how they have dealt with shoveling three or four times the amount I’m facing.

Maybe I’ll get lucky today and the level of difficulty shoveling will beat my expectations like the plowing did yesterday.

Wish I was feeling luckier than I actually do this morning.

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Written by johnwhays

January 20, 2023 at 7:00 am