Relative Something

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

Lifting Spirits

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Amid the glut of dramatic economic distress and virus fears in the news every minute, there continue to appear glimmers of calm and inspiration. I can’t add any words to enhance the wonderful a cappella collection of student voices from Rome singing a Crosby, Stills, & Nash song that has been in my repertoire since the early days of my acquiring an acoustic guitar. They deserve your full attention.

Hat tip to Howard Rheingold for pointing me to this gem.

Claim a few minutes from the calamities of your day to sit and enjoy this. It is a worthy distraction.

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I’m going to find it difficult to sing this song alone from now on after having watched them.

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Written by johnwhays

March 27, 2020 at 6:00 am

Long Haul

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One-hundred years ago today the woman who became my mother was born. Elizabeth Jean Elliott grew up during the Great Depression and as an adult served in the US Naval Reserve WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) during World War II. She raised six kids. She knew about the long haul.

I wonder what she would think today about the way people are responding to the current coronavirus pandemic.

It’s hard to grasp where we are on the curve of the immanently approaching viral outbreak, both in terms of the risk to lives and the fragility of people’s financial well-being.

There have been comparisons to both the Depression and WWII. While some talking heads are trying to convince the citizens that we’ll get over this in a matter of weeks, health experts are struggling to prepare people’s mindset for disruptions that could last months.

Obviously, in the attempt to avoid the sharp exponential rise in cases that would overwhelm our healthcare resources, officials are trying to accomplish restrictions that will flatten that curve to a level the hospital workers and facilities can support. If that wise goal is achieved, the flatter curve becomes a wider curve, meaning a longer duration.

This past week has been a mind-numbing jumble of stressful routine disruptions that felt like it lasted twice that duration. If one week of having our lives drastically upended was this exhausting, how are we going to deal with months more like it?

Mom would know.

I’m pretty sure she was one to practice the philosophy of taking things one day at a time. She had a way of presenting a mental preparedness for the worst possible outcome while maintaining a hope that it might end up being better than that.

It’s a philosophy I am trying to apply to the oncoming mud season. Our snow is gone except for a couple small remnants of piles that were created when I plowed the driveway. Actually, I’ll miss those when they’ve completely disappeared because they happen to be a great place to clean the mud from my boots before going back into the house.

Our front entry is a cruddy disaster between dirty boots and muddy paws umpteen times a day. (I’m pretty sure I picked up “umpteen” from Mom.)

The trails in the woods are teetering on being unusable where the mud is so ferocious it threatens to keep a boot that steps into it. Yesterday afternoon and evening we received enough rain to take things to level-two messy.

I fear the month of April is going to be a long haul in more ways than one.

Stay home and space out.

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Written by johnwhays

March 26, 2020 at 6:00 am

Don’t Cough

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We’ve all done it. Accidentally inhaling our own saliva. It seems to happen at the most inopportune times, doesn’t it? I was near the front, center rows at a funeral service when I choked the choke that triggers involuntary spasms of coughing. You know it’s going to be bad, so you give it a couple of quick, full coughs in a vain hope of dealing with it all at once.

It rarely works. Then comes the following cough urges that you assume can be ignored by sheer will, but which subsequently get forced out as groans or squeaks that are probably worse than if you just let the coughs out naturally.

My lungs tend toward asthmatic, so I am prone to a daily period of throat-clearing and am no stranger to a random urge to cough throughout an afternoon. It’s usually an unconscious habit, but not anymore.

In the midst of a global flu pandemic, coughing is met with suspicion. I have no idea if I will sense a difference between my usual handful of coughs in a day and an early symptom of being infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus, but now when I feel an urge to cough, I’m noticing the question comes to mind.

I’m also noticing a little more self-consciousness about my tendency to cough.

“Don’t cough,” I tell myself. You will scare the people around you into worrying you may be spreading THE virus.

You know how well that works. Go ahead and try to suppress the urge. There is an inverse correlation in that the more you try not to cough, the more intense the urge to cough becomes.

Maybe I’ll start practicing the art of announcing my morning body temperature reading with each cough. Kind of like the “Excuse me” courtesy often uttered after burps, hiccups, coughs, and farts.

[cough!] “97.4.”

That’ll reassure them.

I’m not sick.

Yet.

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Written by johnwhays

March 25, 2020 at 6:00 am

New Identifier

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One of the most common initial checks being made to assess someone’s health during the COVID-19 pandemic is the measuring of their temperature. I rarely take my temperature, partly because I rarely have a fever. When I do develop a fever, I tend to notice it right away, without needed to measure it. Only after it feels a little extreme do I tend to dig out the thermometer for an actual measurement.

A week ago I had no idea what my normal healthy temperature usually ran. I do now, at least my morning temperature, anyway. Since the primary symptom being checked in the current coronavirus outbreak is body temperature, I decided to self-monitor my temp to determine a baseline reference for comparison, in case I do get sick.

Isn’t the normal body temperature always just 98.6°(F)? Not exactly.

I’m finding my normal morning temp is around 97.4 degrees. I think our current daily temperature should become attached to our names as a new identifier. Use it in the same vein as academic suffixes.

John W. Hays, 97.4.

We will all begin to sound like our own FM radio station frequencies.

Think about it, though. You would know right away if someone was coming down with something by the number in their greeting.

“Hi, I’m 101.2.”

Whoa! Back off there, fella.

I think my temperature probably went up a little bit yesterday afternoon on my walk through the woods with Delilah. Apparently, there might be an ostrich loose in the area. If those were turkey footprints in the snow, that beast must be bigger than Ms. D.

Those brown circles are Delilah’s paw print and that giant boot in the bottom corner is mine. The bird that walked along our trail must be half my height.

I should probably take up wild turkey hunting. Get it before it gets me.

97.4, …signing off for now.

Stay a safe distance out there.

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Written by johnwhays

March 24, 2020 at 6:00 am

Working Alone

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My high hope of building a footbridge in a single weekend fell victim to my need to accomplish all the tasks without a helper and also my being the sole entertainer for Delilah’s high-energy needs.

Add in the less-than-ideal windy and cold spring weather, plus the limitations of the batteries for my cordless circular saw, and my inability to finish by the end of the day yesterday was not all that surprising.

I resorted to two different solutions for supporting the long boards that I cut. That treated lumber is really heavy compared to the remnants of the old cedar deck boards I’m using for bracing.

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The pallets had a tendency to collapse, so I switched up to plan B on the second day: old moldy hay bales. That provided welcome consistency.

Because the bridge will end up being very heavy, I decided to build the frame right next to the washout I’m covering and then drag it into position.

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I was able to haul the boards down by the fence and begin to screw some of the cross-supports into position but quit when the time had passed for Delilah’s dinner. I’ll leave the finishing until next weekend.

Trying to screw the pieces together square and true proved challenging on the uneven ground. I want to give that the time and attention necessary to get everything precisely the way I want it. Then I plan to move it into position before screwing down the floorboards.

I’m not sure I’d be able to lift it if I waited until it was completely built. I mean, not without someone with a strong back to help me.

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Written by johnwhays

March 23, 2020 at 6:00 am

Look Ahead

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Take a break from the growing fear and uncertainty embedded in the crest of this pandemic wave rolling across the globe and look ahead to the day when it will be a block of time in history. Turn off the news. There will be updated reports awaiting you in the morning. Check those and then get on with your day.

There will be a day when you once again get to hug those you love. Look forward to those moments.

My friend, David Keiski wrote a song about it and performs in this video he created for us all to enjoy at a safe distance. Let his words ring across the world!

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Don’t be embarrassed about deciding to set it on “repeat.”

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Written by johnwhays

March 22, 2020 at 8:50 am

Pandemic Loneliness

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It is hard to predict what the situation will be 10-days from today but based on comparison with geographic locations where the coronavirus outbreak is that far ahead of here, it seems that people who don’t feel sick now may have symptoms by then. That really does make it feel strange to carry on with life as usual.

Sure, the odds go down if you only expose yourself to a handful of people every day, but what good does that limitation do if one of those people have the virus and don’t know it? So, the safest bet is to stay home entirely. All by myself.

It feels a little apocalyptic.

I’m going to build a bridge.

While Cyndie is hunkered down with her parents in Florida, I’m alone to pick eggs and walk the dog. Between tending to animals, I’m going to try solo construction and use leftover deck lumber to make a bridge over the eroding drainage swale. It will take some ingenuity to manipulate 16-foot boards into the chop saw all on my own, but I think I can figure something out.

The muddy effort we put in to re-establish the concerted flow of the drainage swale across our land appears to have paid off.

That provided motivation to get on with this bridge project sooner than later. Actually, I have a little extra time before the primary need arrives. During the growing season, I cut the grass along the strip just beyond the pasture fence to maintain a walking path, and the erosion blocked my ability to drive the lawn tractor beyond that point. The bridge is a solution to that barrier.

I won’t need to mow for a few weeks yet. Look at how little in the way of green growth there is to be found in our current landscape.

That will change real soon.

A lot like the looming intensity of a certain virus outbreak underway.

I wonder what our landscape will look like in 10-days.

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