Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘change

Maximum Transition

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Wintervale is currently undergoing the full range of extremes in the transition from green tree leaves to none at all.

Very few of our trees seem to reach peak color on every branch at the same time. The majority become a mosaic of the original green that seems to resist the inevitable, the ultimate brilliance of autumn color, and the shriveling past-peak remnants bound to fall to the ground within hours.

The tree in the above image was sporting the most vivid reds two days ago. Yesterday, I noticed some of them just kept getting a deeper and deeper red until becoming almost black. Most of those have now fallen to the pavement below. Yet, there is still a limb or two with completely green leaves.

We experienced a couple of heavy rain showers yesterday, which surely contributed to bringing down batches of leaves en masse.

We are socked in with low cloud cover this morning which effectively dulls every view, but despite the few trees that have dropped many leaves in the last 24 hours, it still looks pretty special. I captured a long view yesterday before all the blue sky and sunshine completely disappeared.

The horses are growing their winter coats and the extended warmth and humidity we are experiencing had them sweating. The swing away from that to this morning’s cooler, wetter, and cloudier conditions provide a welcome change.

The season of bare tree branches is nigh.

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Written by johnwhays

October 3, 2021 at 10:16 am

One Less

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Back in July, I reduced commuting to the day-job from four days a week down to three. I now drive into the Cities on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. That one small change is providing a large improvement to my quality of life. Just one less day on the road is saving me expenses and reducing stress. I also moved some documents online in order to allow more productive use of my remote days, a step that probably should have happened a year ago when COVID moved much of the world’s workforce out of offices and into homes.

When the pandemic first materialized, our customers quickly assured us we were “essential” as manufacturers of high-tech industrial products, so we maintained our normal schedule without interruption. I just kept doing things the same as always.

Now the increased productivity during my two remote days is freeing me up on the other three days to give more attention to on-site issues that arise. Now if I could just control things so that issues only arise when I am on-site, everything would be perfect.

Being available at home an additional day per week is providing rewarding benefits, too. Yesterday afternoon I was able to double-team two small projects with Cyndie that most likely wouldn’t have happened in the few hours after I normally get home on commuting days.

All that is needed now to recover some normalcy in our workplace is two or three skilled high-tech assemblers to walk in our doors and fill openings that have existed since before the pandemic even became a thing.

While I’m dreaming, I’d also like my government to never again invade another country with the idea of overthrowing a less equipped but incredibly patient group of local fighters. Fool us once, fool us twice…

Might as well keep going with dreams of solving world problems. What if we found ways to move impoverished peoples off of islands where earthquakes or hurricanes, and sometimes both in rapid succession, repeatedly occur?

The people of Haiti could do with one less disaster right now.

The people of Afghanistan could do with one less day of everything that is out of control there.

The people in the western states of the U.S. could do with one less drought and raging wildfire combination.

The doctors and nurses treating unvaccinated COVID sufferers in over-crowded ICUs could do with one less highly contagious coronavirus variant.

I could do with one less global catastrophe, but for now, I will settle for driving my fossil-fuel-burning vehicle one less day every week.

Small changes can sometimes lead to proportionally bigger rewards.

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Written by johnwhays

August 17, 2021 at 6:00 am

Watching Change

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How often do we notice that we are witnessing change? Consider the perspective that everything is changing all of the time. We are watching transitions and adaptations happen every single second.

This time of year, the metamorphosis of our dull brown forests from open branches to a thick fabric of green leaves is very easy to notice. The significance of the difference is truly dramatic to experience first-hand. One snapshot is entirely inadequate to represent the vastness of what is happening, but that didn’t stop me from deciding to take a picture of one moment when the early sprouts of green are just becoming visible.

It was a moment when I was witnessing the continued adjustment of our horses to their new home. I stood among them as they luxuriated in the calm comfort of our hayfield. Cyndie captured the view as it appeared to her from the driveway.

Meanwhile, major change is now underway in the pile of composting manure, as revealed by my thermometer.

The modifications underway that will transform this pile of shit into rich soil are happening right before my eyes, even though there isn’t much to see except a little steam, depending on conditions.

I did the first lawn mowing of the season yesterday and kicked off the oscillating changes of long grass/cut grass that will play out for the next many months.

Change is happening all the time and we are witness to it whether we are paying attention or not..

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Written by johnwhays

May 1, 2021 at 9:38 am

Seasonal Scenes

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We are definitely in transition mode. The maple syrup producers are collecting sap as the daytime temps rise above freezing and then dip back down overnight. The ditches have started to fill with running water. Moisture is leaving the snowpack and going airborne.

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The patchy fog makes driving to work in the dark a real challenge as the visibility drops to zero in a blink one minute and becomes clear as a bell the next.

The receding snow cover unveils evidence of the rodent activity that goes on out of sight beneath the icy blanket. No wonder our dog cocks her head and looks down at the snow like an arctic fox and then leaps into the nose-first dive after whatever is making that sound that only dog and fox ears seem to detect.

The chickens are reveling in the expanding exposure of insect-rich soil. They have also amped up their egg production to record levels for this brood.

Today they may get a dose of March rain that forecasters hint could include some thunder by afternoon. By next week, the precipitation will likely be back to snow.

These are all typical scenes of our season of transition known as the month of March.

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Written by johnwhays

March 10, 2021 at 7:00 am

Conflicting Thoughts

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There’s a battle raging in the available space of my brain between the wonderful goodness all around us and the repeated failings of improvement where the needs are well known. We just heard an update on progress to vaccinate for COVID-19 that lamented the low percentage of the neediest people receiving shots, despite the advanced knowledge that this should be the priority. Even when there is broad public awareness of the need to get the first vaccinations to the communities most impacted by the virus, insufficient effort to make this come about leaves things to play out as usual with the advantage going to people of privilege.

It is a lot easier to talk about what “should” happen than it is to actually enact the changes needed to achieve high ideals.

Sounds a little like the way things always go in our governmental system. Two-party politics for passing legislation advancing the lofty goals of a nation results in a lot of sounding off but very little in the way of bringing lasting positive change. Progress is slow for the poor and disenfranchised citizens of our country.

We have passed the 1-year milestone since the pandemic took over all of our lives and Cyndie and I have thus far dodged illness. Others we know have not been so lucky, including some who are currently suffering symptoms. We are sending love to those of you experiencing the virus first-hand.

News reports announcing crazy-high numbers of small earthquakes in Iceland, combined with several other notable recent quakes around the planet suggest something big is about to go boom. It’s a strange threat to contemplate from our relatively stable geographic landscape.

A strong spring melt is underway at Wintervale and the chickens are thrilled over the ever-expanding “tillable” terrain becoming exposed again.

The south-facing slopes are free of snow but the rest of the forest is still covered like the surfaces of an old-fashioned freezer. Walking the trails is a fascinating demonstration of how much chill emanates from the icy carpet below.

Delilah loves to pause and rub her face in the snow-cone texture. Her head was all wet at the end of a walk yesterday from rolling in the slushy snow.

It’s incredibly calm and soothingly optimistic with the promise of spring unfurling right before our eyes. The animals all seem giddy and I guess that is contagious.

It’s a welcome contrast to the more unsettling thoughts looming.

Here’s to visions of the days ahead when COVID sufferers can come walk our trails, breathe the health of our forest air, and hang out with our chickens for a while.

We’ll send you home with fresh free-range eggs.

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Written by johnwhays

March 6, 2021 at 10:28 am

Drying Firewood

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For the record, drying firewood shrinks. I have yet to devise a stacking system that stays upright for a full year of shrinking. First, it starts to lean, and then it pushes against an adjacent stack. Eventually, they tend to topple over into a scrambled pile of split logs. I have resigned myself to simply climbing in there to pile firewood back into an orderly stack, regardless the odds it would probably just tip over again later.

I used to strive to push the stacks back into balance before they tipped over, but now I accept they are going to lean. My odds of causing it to tip over the other direction by pushing it upright are high enough I have forced myself to get over being annoyed with how it looks and just leave it be.

Yesterday, we moved half of a stack of the oldest logs onto the wood rack on our deck for premium proximity to the fireplace. It’s interesting to be handling wood that I stacked two years ago. In that amount of time, some impressive rodent nests get built, probably chipmunks. It would be reasonable to assume the critter activity in the stacks contributes to destabilization.

As I am splitting logs to refill the right side of the woodshed, it occurs to me that I could just toss them all into a big pile and forego the tippy stacks.

Why is that such a difficult decision for me?

  • I believe it wastes less space to stack the wood tightly.
  • I can better gauge how much firewood there is when it is stacked.
  • I can easily tell how long each stack has been drying.
  • Stacks appeal to my sense of order.

At the same time, I know from past experience how much we use per winter season, so the volume of a pile filling one half of the woodshed would give us two years. I could stuff a jumbled pile to fill the space to a greater extent than I achieve with individual stacks.

Since I already started a new stack on the right side of the shed yesterday, I’m now thinking about doing a bit of both. I could put down a base layer of individual stacks to cover the space on the right half and then switch to just tossing split pieces on top of those short stacks.

If only I can convince myself to follow through with such a random-looking storage choice.

It would be something of a “can’t beat ’em, join ’em” solution of intentionally tumbled drying firewood.

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Written by johnwhays

November 2, 2020 at 7:00 am

Change’s Sake

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My immense aversion to changes in software that was working just fine for me leads me to think that perhaps I am getting old.

Is it a problem for you, dear readers, that I don’t have little icons on this blog for sundry social media sites of the latest trend? Has my neglect to format the appearance to best suit the portrait orientation of mobile devices left you frustrated?

Ever find yourself wondering why my blog doesn’t include links to sites for purchasing products I promote, or a button allowing you to donate money to sustain my lifestyle?

These are all features that I have chosen to ignore, despite frequent WordPress marketing messages encouraging me to incorporate.

In March of 2009, I searched for a platform to publish my “take on things and experiences” and found a template ‘theme’ that matched my tastes. I’ve seen no reason to change since.

The word-cloud I selected for the side margin of my posts slowly changes over time, not always to my ideal, but it’s simply a reflection of what I write about the most, so I let it go.

Truth in advertising.

After some trial and error tinkering, sometimes requiring mystery clicks on vague icons with unclear popup titles, I have reached a mostly functional equilibrium that reasonably matches my previous editing experience.

I do miss the running word-count information that previously displayed at the bottom of my view as I typed.

With time, I will learn whether or not that’s a feature I can add back, as I explore the myriad other repackaged ways WordPress has changed my blogging experience to make it so much better.

Okay, never mind. I just clicked the “help” icon at the bottom of my view and learned I can click an information icon at the top of the screen to find that information.

That was at 308 words, if you care.

Which is more than enough to call for an end to my whining about change for change’s sake.

How about a bit of boasting about the other burden I so often face as the spouse of one who loves to bake?

I keep getting asked to sample and review the latest delicious morsels being baked under a constantly changing mix of ingredients and techniques.

 

My judgements might be influenced unfairly by the fact I usually enjoy the advantage of performing these tests on goods fresh and warm from the oven, but the taste analyses are probably universal.

Cyndie is gaining proficiency with each refinement she makes.

We make a pretty good team.

I credit our ability to change with the times, albeit sometimes kicking and whining all the way.

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Written by johnwhays

October 3, 2020 at 8:28 am

Breathing Room

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There is a lot of effort required in felling every single tree surrounding a large oak tree, but when the job is finally complete, the result evokes a rewarding feeling of satisfaction every time you walk past it. The newly opened space beneath the crown of the oak inspires increased visual energy solely on the oak. It’s nice to reclaim the more pronounced prominence these dominant trees deserve among the vast number of surrounding volunteers that naturally sprout and eventually rise up to become pests.

We are literally providing them more breathing room.

Over time, my perspective of managing a wooded lot has evolved from a basic belief that there can be no such thing as too many trees to one of being able to sacrifice some toward a goal of a healthier forest overall.

That’s not a simple transformation.

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Written by johnwhays

May 4, 2020 at 6:00 am

Incremental Change

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Like a slow train crawling along a track, I am seeing multiple signs of the changing seasons unfolding with an unstoppable impetus. I wish it would all take a pause long enough to give us added time cleaning up fallen trees and branches that are clearly visible in our woods now that the snow is gone. The clock is ticking toward the explosion of green leaves that will quickly obscure the views on either side of our trails.

What looks like a relatively simple effort now will soon become too thick with growth to effectively navigate for cutting and hauling.

On the drive home yesterday I noticed many of the farm fields are already being prepped with applications of manure fertilizer. One neighbor was out on his lawn tractor dragging something across the yard that looked like a way to break up the gopher mounds and molehills to smooth things out for that first mow of the season.

New shoots of green groundcover leaves are making an appearance all over the floor of our forest. It won’t be long and we will get a chance to see how many of our transplanted trillium plants are still surviving.

Even though there are still many places along our trails where there is standing water from the complete saturation of the soil, there are areas where some quick-growing grasses are sprouting taller than what my mower would cut off if I was able to be out mowing already.

The changes in the natural world are ongoing, day and night. Every walk around the property reveals something new that is growing or drying out. The trees are beginning to form the early hint of leaf buds that will soon create a fresh tint of yellowish-green crowns that are the precursor to the burst of actual leaves.

Many years of commuting have provided repeated evidence of how that new green glow shows up across the treetops in a matter of a day. One day, nothing. The next day, visible buds everywhere!

Every day the natural world is evolving, but I sense the locomotive of change from winter to spring is gathering much more spring-like momentum at our latitude this week.

Maybe we should start getting ready for summer while there’s still time.

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Written by johnwhays

April 7, 2020 at 6:00 am

Morning Surprise

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When I pushed my nose up against the glass of the door to the deck in search of the critter that was setting off our motion light on Tuesday night, all I could report seeing was a few surprise snowflakes floating down. It was only a surprise in that I hadn’t noticed any other precipitation starting before that. My impression was that the predicted weather event would start with light rain that might eventually include a mix of snow.

Waking up yesterday morning with a two-and-a-half inch layer of sticky snowflakes coating everything was quite the surprise.

It made for some fabulous morning scenery.

I was darting off on my morning commute to the day-job in the Daylight Saving Time darkness of the early hour, so I didn’t get much chance to ogle the spectacle. By the time I reached the far side of the Twin Cities, there was no evidence anywhere that any new precipitation had even fallen there.

Knowing the snow at home wouldn’t last very long after the sun came up, I sent a message to Cyndie asking her to take pictures.

I’m really glad she did because, by the time I returned home in the afternoon, all the new-fallen snow had disappeared completely. It was if it had never happened.

My, how quickly things can change.

Early on, Cyndie reported the chickens appeared highly miffed over the sudden return of the cold blanket of white covering their stomping grounds. Happily for them, the annoyance was short-lived and they were out on patrol scouring their surroundings in execution of their primary responsibility as insect pest controllers when I got home.

It’s very rewarding to have them get after that task at the very instant bare ground begins to reappear from beneath the winter snowpack. They are champions of natural fly and tick reduction.

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Written by johnwhays

March 12, 2020 at 6:00 am