Relative Something

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

Final Touches

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With the big job of moving the gazebo done, thanks to our kids’ help, Cyndie and I made some final tweaks yesterday to complete the new setup. As so often occurs, a plan with one thing in mind expands to several others that need to happen first, to reach the ultimate goal.

Our main objectives were to level the base beneath the bench seat and move the hydrangea tree by transplanting it to a different spot around the labyrinth. We quickly agreed that the place where we put a gracefully rotating section of a tree trunk to stand as a visual attraction would be ideal for the hydrangea.

That old trunk was starting to disintegrate anyway, under the combined pressure of many woodpeckers and natural decay. When we struggled to pick it up, we discovered it hadn’t lost as much mass as appearance led us to suspect, but it looked beat up enough that we didn’t feel bad booting it from its prominent spot.

In the image above, you can see the trunk is now farther out on the left. The hydrangea tree is front and center, garnished with a fresh mulch of wood chips I made on Friday.

Before we transplanted the tree, we wanted to have water available, so I needed to get a hose and turn on the spigot up at the house. That required that the four-way splitter that was removed from the spigot last fall needed to be found. I’m sure we thought we were being obvious when we stowed it away eight months ago.

I was proud of myself when I remembered to grab a level for the bench at the same time I was retrieving a hose from the shop garage. Unfortunately, I needed to send Cyndie back up to find the hose splitter for the spigot.

While she was gone, I trimmed the golden weigela bushes that were on either side of the bench, and now being crowded by the gazebo.

Relocating the hydrangea tree was the most rewarding, as that completely opened up the primary access to the gazebo and bench, which also just happens to serve as an archway entrance to one of our trails into the woods.

It looks odd to no longer see the gazebo in its old spot above the round pen, but we are very happy with the new location beside the labyrinth where it is bound to get much more use.

In addition, this opens up the old spot to easier cutting and raking for hay. We have connected with neighbors who were thrilled with the opportunity to cut and bale our fields for their growing herd of llamas. For a while there, we were a little worried that all the effort we had put into improving our fields would be lost if the weeds were given a chance to return unchallenged.



Written by johnwhays

June 10, 2019 at 6:00 am

Testing Mobile

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I’m thinking about taking another crack at posting from my phone next week while on the bike trip.

So, today I am typing with one finger, adding photos, and fumbling with formatting to achieve my desired look using icons I don’t understand.

Things may look different than usual on your screen.

Yesterday, I got out for my longest training ride so far this year. Topped out at a whopping two-hour jaunt.

The scenery may not be as beautiful as riding up at the lake, but it gets close once I get beyond the farmland.

I rode down into the river valley where the trout fishermen play. Hit 40 mph on the way down and 3 mph crawling back up.

The kids came over yesterday and provided gift labor in honor of Cyndie’s birthday. We chose moving the gazebo from the round pen over to the labyrinth.

It was a grand success of design collaboration and task cooperation.

Since I don’t know how to tweak images to my liking on this tiny mobile device, I will point out that Julian provided the gazebo images.

Thank you to our wonderful children for a really meaningful gift of time and energy!

Here ends today’s test of the alternative posting system.

I still don’t know how to customize image frames like I usually do, nor justify text, but I’m ready to look at this on my computer to see how it compares.

Thank you for reading!



Written by johnwhays

June 9, 2019 at 7:48 am

Twice Happy

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, there is no project around here that is as satisfying as chipping a pile of branches. The ability to accomplish two things at once is very rewarding. The unending accumulation of downed branches get piled up for removal and we have an unending need for wood chips on our trails and gardens.

In comes the most useful purchase I have made in our time on this land.

I pulled out the diesel tractor for the first time in months and attached the big blue chipper for a session of munching branches. By the time I finished, I had reduced two tangled piles into a filled wood chip station down by the labyrinth.

The only thing that would have made it easier would be an ATV trailer to move the second pile of branches over to the chipper. I had to make several trips to haul them by hand because I’ve yet to replace the trailer Cyndie mistakenly sold at her barn sale.

I don’t remember paying over $200 for shipping when I bought the first one, and I balked when shopping for the replacement. There is an imitation trailer that I can buy locally to save a lot of cash, but I am wary of the quality. It very much looks like a version of “you get what you pay for” in this case.

I’m waiting around for some magic solution to appear.

Maybe I should start visiting yard sales in the area for someone willing to part with a used trailer.



Written by johnwhays

June 8, 2019 at 7:21 am

Too Tired

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My middle-of-June biking and camping week begins one week from today. I am looking forward to being able to ride first thing in the morning when I am fresh and surrounded by more than a hundred friends sharing the experience with me.

I resumed my forced preparation cycling yesterday after work, alone and exhausted before I even started. The good news is that my butt appears to be toughened up by last weekend’s riding. The bad news is that my 90-minute ride was far short in terms of preparation for the days and many hours I will be on the saddle in a week.

After the day of work and the drain of a long afternoon drive home, I was more interested in a nap than a ride, but I got out there anyway.

This morning, I am too tired to think and write. Here are a couple of images from my adventures up north last weekend to distract you…

I’m going back to bed to catch a few more winks of beauty sleep.

Talk amongst yourselves.



Written by johnwhays

June 7, 2019 at 6:00 am

Little Love

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So, yesterday’s lesson was that hens might lay a “Fairy Egg” that has no yolk and is a fraction of the usual size. I had no idea. Funny how easily we jump to our own conclusions on what a situation might be, while being entirely off base.

I was also convinced that our property had been walloped by damaging wind and flooding rain Tuesday night, but that wasn’t the case at all. Apparently, my intuition is a little out of calibration.

That doesn’t surprise me. There are many disparate issues rattling around in my wee little brain of late, and I’ve not stopped to clear thoughts and ground energies in quite a while. If I can improve my sleep schedule and achieve a better feeling about several challenges taxing my peace of mind, I could focus better on preparations for a week of vacation in the great outdoors. That will do me some good.

Then I just need the government to start functioning in a productive way, the climate to reverse this race toward disaster, the human race to get over its ugly in-fighting, and love to fill the world. Wouldn’t that be nice?

What if we actually learned from mistakes and never repeated them?

What if people purposely took action to invert a pyramid of increasing mental and physical ills and converted it to a pyramid of increasing health and wellness?

What if governments and societies never allowed interference from financial entities (corporations or individuals) that seek to influence solely for their own gain at the expense of any others?

Fifty years ago this month, Jackie DeShannon sang it.

Put a little love in your heart

And the world will be a better place
And the world will be a better place
For you and me
You just wait and see 

Send some love out into the world today. And while you are at it, put a little in your own heart, too.



Memorable Birthday

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Yesterday was Cyndie’s birthday, and she thinks she will remember it for the stormy weather we ventured out into to pick up our kids and join her parents for a nice restaurant dinner in downtown Minneapolis. Tavola was the destination, and man, was the food tasty. I ordered a side of brussel sprouts that were fabulous, if you like brussel sprouts.

The radar looked threatening and the radio warning reports were disturbing, but our drive and our home were spared the worst of the severe weather, despite how ominous it looked as we drove toward Hudson.

That weather front’s bark was worse than its sight. I’m not complaining.

We have no idea how wild conditions were at home while we were at dinner, nor how much the storm riled Delilah. She seemed cool and collected by the time we got home, a couple hours past my bedtime. <yawn>

The other thing Cyndie might remember about this birthday is the surprise egg that showed up in one of the nest boxes.

One of these things is not like the other. That small, shinier egg in the middle is not from one of our chickens.

Who’s been sleeping nesting in my bed nest box!?

There are frequently small bird visitors to the coop throughout the day. Apparently, one of them has been paying attention to the morning activity of the hens and decided to follow suit.

That egg’s not going to make a very large omelet.


UPDATE: 7:26 a.m. 6/5/19

Cyndie just informed me she learned it wasn’t some other bird intruding on the coop, based on new information. It is a “Fairy Egg.”

The learning never stops… It’s all new to me!



Written by johnwhays

June 5, 2019 at 6:00 am


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Written by johnwhays

June 4, 2019 at 6:00 am