Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘December

Faulty Plan

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It was only two days ago that I wrote about the low angle of our December sunlight not providing much melting power. With that knowledge well in hand, what made me think leaving a thin coating of snow on the driveway last weekend was a good idea? Wishful thinking, I guess.

The accumulation had only amounted to a whopping quarter to maybe half-inch of snow across our pavement. It didn’t seem near enough worthy of plowing. Additionally, the days following were predicted to have some sunshine with high temperatures well above the freezing point.

I visualized the tire tracks would move the snow aside and the melty days would then bring out the pavement simply by letting nature take its course. Nature had a different plan.

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Yesterday was the warmer of the two days but all that accomplished was enough melting to turn the snow to ice where the tire tracks packed it down and we’ve run out of warm days. Not only will the temperature drop, today it is expected we will receive between 4 to 8 inches of snow that will cover the icy mess on the driveway.

That’s pretty much a worst outcome in my mind. It will be harder to clear the new snow and the frozen tire tracks will likely linger long into the snow season. The opposite of what I wanted.

ūüé∂ Slip sliding away…

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Written by johnwhays

December 23, 2020 at 7:00 am

Another Solstice

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Winter 2020 arrived at our location at 4:02 a.m. CST this morning. For all the action going on in the universe beyond our planet, this solstice phenomenon is just between the Earth and our sun. In the northern hemisphere, we are at the shortest day of the year. The hours of daylight will increase from now and grow for the next six months.

We are more than ready to be headed in this direction again. 2021 is not far off now.

During our midday walk around the property yesterday, it was very noticeable that the angle of sunlight was very low. Shadows were long. The amount of melting power on a clear day in December is greatly reduced as a result of that low angle.

Plenty of white remains over our land, albeit only a fraction of what would be considered worthy any winter sports endeavors.

This time of year brings the earliest in the evening that we venture down to close the chicken coop for the night. It’s a swing of between four and five hours from how late the process occurs in June.

Ahhh, June. I guess it’s a slip up from living in the moment if I am focusing on six months in the future but there is the added incentive of longing for a time when pandemic isolation isn’t the prime order of the day.

The highlight of our day yesterday came early, during our viewing of the CBS “Sunday Morning” broadcast. There were multiple segments of heartwarming value, not the least of which was the cover story, “Promoting the Power of Kindness.”

“Kindness is a power we all have. We just need to decide to use it.”

I couldn’t have said it any better than that. (You can click the image or the link above to view the 7:44 minute story.)

Be kind to someone today on this winter soltice.

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Written by johnwhays

December 21, 2020 at 7:00 am

Oh December

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The onset of the coronavirus pandemic seems like a long time ago. As the year dragged on and another person of color was murdered by police, triggering protests around the world, and the U.S. election disinformation machine kicked into “high-fraud” gear, the year 2020 cemented its place in history as one of great collective disdain. The end couldn’t come soon enough.

We’ve now reached the twelfth month and we’ve got COVID-19 vaccines within sight and the election is decided. The Christmas season is upon us. There are sprinkles of hope the year might finally come to an end.

I can’t guess what the New Year’s Eve celebrations are going to be like. In this country, we’ll probably still be trying to slow the community spread of coronavirus, but the collective sigh of “good-riddance” to 2020 will likely be palpable.

In the flood of retail marketing efforts aiming to grab my attention, my email inbox is under constant bombardment with messages of massive savings to be had. I’ve turned it into a game where I zap the messages as fast as they come in, trying to set a high score of deletes in a day.

My shopping method is more of an “I’ll come to you when I want something” mode than wanting to be lured in by supposed deals.

This year, I think most wish lists start with “vaccine” and permission to touch again.

Will that be something Santa can deliver? Maybe if we all believe.

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Written by johnwhays

December 1, 2020 at 7:00 am

Productive Weekend

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It is a good time of year to get a lot done over a weekend when it happens to be the second to last weekend before Christmas. I had a number of goals in mind that I wanted to accomplish in the blink of days between commuting to the day-job.

It helped to have the weather warm up at just the right time. Our thermometer reached the 40s(F) both Saturday and Sunday. I was able to move one of my projects outside into the glorious sunshine.

I went from the concrete of the shop to the asphalt outside. Just look at everything I accomplished!

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I’m afraid that all projects underway during the first three weeks of December are under a media blackout. Progress will be represented¬†only¬†by material removed, as shown above.

Cyndie was even more productive than I was, but I can’t show any pictures of her projects, either. Not until after Christmas.

It’s the best time of the year!

“Oh by golly, have a holly jolly Christmas…”

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Written by johnwhays

December 17, 2018 at 7:00 am

Holiday Spirit

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Even Delilah is getting into the festive spirit lately. We received a gift of hand-me-over dog toys from Katie at work, and I couldn’t wait until Christmas to see how Delilah would react to them. The strange scent was definitely cause for a thorough analysis, but then she succumbed to the irresistible instinct to chomp.

Actually, the squeaky red and green candy cane didn’t draw out teeth until I kicked it away. She initially walked up to inspect it, and then stepped right over the toy as if it didn’t exist. That’s when I gave it a kick across the floor and she ran to get it.

After that, it was just like her squeaky yellow monkey. She wants us to chase after her and try to grab the toy so she can shake it loose from our grip.

Santa’s elves have been working long hours to deliver packages to our door each day this week. Must not be any names on the naughty list, based on the number of things waiting to be wrapped in the “don’t-go-in-there” room.

For the record, there are no children living with us, so I think we just play this game to maintain the spirit of the season.

I don’t mind being free of the burden of conjuring up believable tall tales to keep the myth alive in innocent eyes. Such a weird combination of love and deceit.

Cyndie and I don’t actually hide any intentions from each other. We tend to celebrate the holiday by jointly selecting an item that will be a treat for both of us. This year it just may end up being new bar stools for the kitchen island. We tried doing it once before, but were overwhelmed by the expense of getting what we really wanted.

Sticker shock times four.

I don’t expect that prices have gotten any better, but we are hoping that either our standards will have relaxed, or we will have gotten over the shock of the costs, to possibly propel us toward finding something that can work.

The ones that were here when we bought the place are in need of some tender loving care by someone who knows how to weld. I hope that person happens to browse Craigslist.

Today, at the day-job, staff have decided to modify the annual company potluck lunch between Thanksgiving and Christmas by having Famous Dave’s BBQ restaurant do all the cooking.

Works for me.

Ho ho ho.

The holiday spirit is feeling very merry and bright, indeed.

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Written by johnwhays

December 13, 2018 at 7:00 am

Nice Day

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Saturday was a pretty nice winter day on the ranch. Even the chickens ‚Äďall three!‚Äď came out to enjoy the day. To celebrate, Cyndie raided the kitchen for some grapes to reward the occasion of the Buff Orpington venturing a distance away from the coop.

They even veered off the plowed paths into the fluffy white stuff, traveling interestingly close to tracks of an adventurous mouse. Was that coincidental?

I wonder if that little rodent knew who was lurking about when it scurried across the top of the snowscape.

On Friday, while I was splitting wood with Delilah leashed nearby, I spotted her flinch suddenly. Looking up, I caught sight of a beautiful bald eagle floating at a menacingly low elevation, just above the treetops.

I wasn’t too worried about Delilah, but I did wonder where the chickens were at the moment.

The horses appeared to be mesmerized by the warm December sunshine, spreading out and soaking up the solar energy with a contagious calmness.

In a switch from the situation last week, this time it was Legacy who was out in the hay-field all by himself.

We still think he is behaving uncharacteristically distant at times, but there doesn’t seem to be any unnatural anxiety showing from the herd, and periods of normalcy generally rule.

It was a beautiful day and we feel blessed with the luxury of simply enjoying it to the fullest.

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Written by johnwhays

December 17, 2017 at 10:49 am

December Again

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Every year around this time, I notice a spike in overall number of visitors to “Relative Something” who are searching¬†the term “December Wishes” which¬†I coincidentally used in 2010 for the title of¬†a post. After I re-read that post again the other day,¬†and even though it sounds¬†about 6 years old to me now, I’ve decided it deserves¬†some fresh visibility.¬†

(Full disclosure: I haven’t been “under-indulging” so much anymore. For the last few years I’ve returned to¬†providing family a¬†genuine¬†updated online wish list.)

At the very least, the Pomplamoose song is worth another listen…

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December has arrived. It is the time of year when requests are made for our wish lists. What do I wish for? I wish for world peace. I wish my neighbors would never, ever, ever use their leaf blowers. I wish it wasn’t possible to hear the sounds made by a human jaw chewing food in an otherwise silent room. I wish my lungs weren’t asthmatic. But those things aren’t what the circle of family who draw names for a Christmas gift-giving exchange would like to see on my list.

They want stuff that can be purchased.

I don’t mean to be difficult, …not that I haven’t been in the past. I did resist for a time and neglect to provide any such list. I also have listed items like: shirts, socks, and underwear. Who wouldn’t benefit by having new underwear? There has also been a period of time when I gave in and put some pretty significant treasures on the list that I wouldn’t buy for myself. Since something was going to be purchased, I figured it may as well be something that I would actually use.

I also took advantage of one of those online shopping sites that allow you to save a wish list to allow your family and friends to just click and purchase. It’s like registering for wedding gifts. Look at what we have allowed technology to do to us!

A while ago, I came across that site where I had created a list and noticed there were things still on it that I didn’t even remember selecting. I had obviously been living comfortably enough without the items. It occurred to me that the only reason the items made it on the list in the first place was because I saw them while searching the site.

That is like the phrase that I am guilty of using too often regarding food. “I am fond of see food.” See food, eat food.

I could look at any number of shopping sites and discover things to put on a wish list. Yet, if I didn’t see these things, I wouldn’t even know I wanted them. Making a list, in and of itself, engenders the wish. See things, want things.pomplamoose-alwaysintheseason

I still haven’t gotten around to making full use of so many things I already have. I truly don’t need anything more. This year, I am seeking to UNDER-indulge. I’m choosing, see charity, give charity. I saw the invitation to “give a goat” on the 2009 video of the Christmas song, “Always in the Season” by Pomplamoose.

Now, that is what I want on my wish list. I want people to choose a meaningful gift to give me and help children and families around the world receive training and animal gifts that help them become self-reliant.heiferintrntl

My December wish this year is for people to consider Heifer International in their gift giving plans.

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Written by johnwhays

December 2, 2016 at 7:00 am

December’s Here!

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Crashes and spinouts. That is what the first significant snowfall produces for commuters. My hour-long drive to work yesterday morning almost doubled in time due to the first wave of snow that flowed over the region. Wave two, which started last night, added enough new depth that I expect the trip to work today will be slow once again.

DSCN4161eThat’s okay. It’s December!

Time for wish lists and holiday parties, gift planning and benevolent scheming. Bring on the holiday good cheer.

Sadly, our sweet doggy isn’t feeling very cheerful today. No sooner did we get her back to her normal old self, when she suddenly returned to vomiting again last night.

Is this the same issue or something different? Hard to say. Cyndie did recently give Delilah a couple things to eat that were not her ordinary fare. That will be curtailed entirely while we nurse her back to normal. It may be that we will need to restrain her to a strict diet indefinitely.

In honor of December, I’m including this picture of a wreath that Cyndie made this year while horsing around with some ribbons and tree branches.

Makes our place look festive, as if it were the holiday season or something. Of course, that was taken back in November, before all the white stuff blew in. Maybe I can get a new shot of it this afternoon while I am out plowing the driveway.

I’ll want to get things cleaned up and ready for the big melt that is forecast to be following this snow event.

Happy December!

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Written by johnwhays

December 1, 2015 at 7:00 am

Whiter Shades

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Somehow, we are days away from December; November has come and gone in record speed. The longer I live, the faster months pass.

Our scenery has changed from green, to brown, to white in about a week.

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Our forecast is predicting that “plow-able” snow amounts will fall tomorrow night into Tuesday.

Winter weather is finally here, regardless what the extreme El Ni√Īo has in store for the months ahead.

I’m not too worried. Whatever happens will be over soon enough at the rate the months are flying by in my perception.

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Written by johnwhays

November 29, 2015 at 7:00 am

‘Tis Seasonal

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IMG_4175eI am truly living a storybook life here, folks. The season is upon us when decorators of the world pull out everything they have saved for years that has anything to do with December holidays and inundate their surroundings with color and lights.

Our place looks like Christmas magic all of a sudden. The only thing missing is little kids in footsie pajamas running around with eyes like saucers, over-anxiously waiting a visit from the guy in red who travels by reindeer.

We were blessed once again with a visit from Cyndie’s mom who worked tirelessly for the entire day yesterday to provide her exquisite skills in bringing the spirit of the season to life in our home.

She went beyond the call of duty before even arriving by taking time the day prior to shop for baking supplies and accoutrements like garlands with lights. With barely a pause to catch her breath, yesterday she cooked and baked and decorated, then helped me run an errand to drop off a car for service, then helped get Cyndie down to the barn for her first visit with the horses since the surgery.

She is a superwoman!

The best highlight of the day ‚ÄĒamong many‚ÄĒ was having Cyndie get bundled up to be outside, her walking part way down the driveway with crutches, then hopping in the back of her mom’s car for the rest of the distance to the barn, and finally communing with the horses that had come up to the barn to see her.

They were a little freaked by her crutches and walker, but very happy to see her after all this time she has been away.

IMG_4180eBack in the kitchen, Cyndie and her mom moved into full production mode for a while and cookie smells were mixing with the home-made caramels and Chex mix snack that had just come out of the oven.

What could I do? You can’t fight this kind of momentum. I went upstairs and put on the holiday music, came down and set about testing the goods coming out of the oven.

I told you, it’s a storybook life I’m livin’!

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Written by johnwhays

December 4, 2014 at 7:00 am