Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘Delilah

Frank Discussion

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Delilah: Wrrello, wrreveryone. Today, Pequenita-the-teaser-cat and I have grabbed the blog controls from He-who-succumbs-to-our-every-wish to share our observations of his mysterious change in behavior in the last 20 or so light and dark cycles.

Pequenita: Rrrreow come you get to go first, you tiresome bark-annoyance creature? I’m the one who sleeps in the crook of his knees and knows exactly when he gets up in the night and, well… does you know what.

D: Because I am taller than you, you wee little meowing machine.

P: Momma said you are supposed to treat me like I’m your sister, so be nice.

D: You started the name-calling, just like you usually start the chaos that gets me yelled at every time I respond to your goading from just out of their sight. You know I can’t resist my canine instincts to act like I’m going to eat you alive.

P: Oh, so it’s all about you. Everything is always about you. Meow me a river. We are supposed to be talking about the craziness around here since blog-man stopped driving off in his gas machine for hours on end every day allowing me to get decent sleep while the sun is up. Now I have to keep hopping up on the recliner to knead his belly multiple times an hour to see if he’s still alive.

D: Oh, yeah. Reading that electronic version of the good old newspaper that I never get a chance to chew on. Luckily, I don’t waste time chewing papers now that I can find a discarded deer leg or mystery scat surprises on the trails every day. For some reason, they are so much more enticing when they are frozen. Probably the crunching sound that makes it so appealing. That, and my uncontrollable instinct, I suppose.

P: It’s not like you don’t get fed twice each day without fail.

D: No different from you, salmon-breath.

P: At least I don’t eat my puke. Not that I’d have a chance, with you, in a frenzy, streaking in to happily enact “Cleanup in aisle 3!” before anyone gets a chance to blink.

D: What can I say? My nose knows… So, back to what’shisname, I gotta say this trend of acting like he’s taking me for a walk and then snapping my leash to the nearest hook while he marches back and forth to the shop and the barn or hay shed has me a little confused. They pack me up and drive me to holiday gatherings. They squeeze me beside luggage and drive to some snowy Arctic forest where I get to frolic like a puppy and then turn around and bring me right back home like nothing happened. Then he goes nowhere. Just hangs around all day like he owns the place.

P: Not even close. I totally own the place.

D: I think he might be confused. I bark and bark and bark to try to bring him to his senses but he acts like a squirrel is just no big thing.

P: I believe it is because he is tired again.

D: What do you mean?

P: I heard him tell someone he is re-tired. [prrrrrrr]

D: BARK! BARK-BARK!

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Written by johnwhays

January 12, 2022 at 7:00 am

Cold Start

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In the purest definition of my life memories of what “up north” during a Minnesota winter entails, we have been enjoying gorgeous deep snow scenes and seriously cold temperatures. It stays below zero all day long for days at a time and there is no sign anywhere of the fallen snow melting on the ground. No slush on the rural roads. Just hard-packed snow with occasional areas of sand dropped at higher traffic intersections.

The first day of January offered clear skies and plenty of sun, the common denominator for extremely cold temperatures. With no cloud cover to hold a little of the earth’s heat, the air feels like it is aligning with the temperatures of deep space above.

Delilah’s thick fur coat keeps her comfortable all but the bottoms of her paws. She isn’t a big fan of standing around in the cold. In fact, even if we are walking along with her, she wants to pick up the pace and hustle to get wherever the heck it is we intend on going.

After multiple snowshoeing adventures this weekend, I think she has figured out that the initial extra time she is made to wait at the beginning while we are strapping on the odd contraptions to our boots, comes with a payoff of opportunities to romp in the deep stuff shortly after.

We bushwhacked right from the driveway into the wooded contours of the southern edge of the Chippewa National Forest yesterday and I guided Delilah to select a navigable route atop a ridge, every so often aligned with the tracks revealing deer had already done the same.

It is a treat to watch the glee of Delilah’s leaping through the deep snow. She has no choice but to leap, actually, since it is deeper than her legs are long.

The only setback she experiences is the need to pause once in a while to chew away the snow that balls up between her toes. I can imagine that feels just as annoying as the snow that collects under the cleat of my snowshoes in certain conditions. We didn’t have that problem with the cold powder snow this weekend.

It was a cold start of the year 2022, but a grand one for us. Here’s hoping it proves to be a hint of greater times to come.

It was truly precious to kick off the new year in such a special place with our even more special friends and hosts, Barb and Mike Wilkus.

We will spend the rest of today on the road, heading home to see how the horses are doing in this coldest weather since they arrived with us last April. Having dreamt about horses this morning, I’m feeling a heightened urge to get home to see ours.

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Written by johnwhays

January 2, 2022 at 10:14 am

Hello 2022

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Happy New Year! Good Riddance, Old Year! Let’s hope the coming year will bring the ultimate demise of the current global pandemic so we can better focus on dealing with the growing weather calamities caused by the ever-warming planet. We find ourselves under the spell of a deep freeze of -31°(F) this morning here just north of Grand Rapids, MN.

We celebrated the last day of 2021 yesterday with a hearty snowshoe hike in the woods on nearby Wilkus’ property before the temperatures plummeted well below zero.

They have christened the property with an acronym’d designation garnered from Barb and Mike’s grandchildren: Maggie, Allie, Jackson, Jack, and Caleb.

It is a perfect name for the magical plot of varying elevations with thick tree growth and a pond nestled in a bowl surrounded by a prominent ridge.

With almost two feet of relatively fresh snow accumulation creating iconic winter landscape views, we let Delilah bounce ahead to break a trail that we widened with our snowshoes.

For some reason, I kept noticing a mental image of a steamy cup of hot cocoa forming while we clomped through the powder. Barb made my dream come true after we got back to the cabin.

As you might imagine, Delilah was in her glory, pouncing about like “T-i-double guh-er” of Winnie the Pooh fame in the deep snow.

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It took extra effort to dissuade her from a fixation on a tree in which she spied a nut-weilding squirrel energetically climb. So many new sights and smells for her to explore.

She didn’t seem all that fired up about our staying up late to hoot and holler over the Times Square ball dropping in New York at 11:00 p.m. our time. As long as it was midnight somewhere, it was good enough for us to call it a night.

May the new year treat you all with big love in all the best of forms that can be manifest!

Peace!

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Written by johnwhays

January 1, 2022 at 10:36 am

Different Lake

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We are up at the lake again, but not our lake place. Last night we met our friends, Barb and Mike Wilkus at Marie’s house in Edina and they drove us, with Delilah, up to their cabin near Grand Rapids, Minnesota. We all agree that it is more fun to wake at the lake.

Very quickly, we recognized there was plenty of snow up here.

Maybe all that snow will provide insulation against the predicted deep freeze. We have a warm fire to keep us comfortable indoors, so we may be playing more cards than trekking in the woods as we mark the end of one calendar year and the beginning of the next.

Delilah traveled well for the drive that lasted an hour longer than our usual trips to Hayward and was thrilled over the new environments’ sights, sounds, mounds of snow, and exciting smells. She quickly gained a new friend in Mike, who likes to serve dog treats to good dogs.

There was a lot more sitting politely and offering of a paw in a shake happening last night than I usually see at home in a month.

Hope you have a wonderful last day of this year wherever you are!

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Written by johnwhays

December 31, 2021 at 7:00 am

Chilly Sunrise

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When the air temperature is below zero (F) and there is a fog of ice crystals in the air of our valley, the rising rays create sun dogs of reflection 180° apart. Those conditions were met yesterday while I was feeding the horses.

When Delilah and I walked to the end of the driveway to put outgoing mail in the mailbox, our vantage changed so the sun was behind the pine trees on our neighbor’s land. I walked across the road to get the telephone pole out of frame, but I didn’t notice the wires were still in the shot. Oh, well.

Still looks pretty cool.

In fact, it was downright COLD! Poor Delilah was hopping along on three legs every so often to give a paw a break. Eventually, she resorted to simply running and pulling me along behind her to get back to the house, and her breakfast, as quickly as possible.

If ever there was a way to feel like a load, trudging along behind a dog that urgently wants to run faster than you can is pretty high on the list. Being a little numb and wearing the equivalence of a spacesuit with lead-weight boots does wonders to enhance the impression.

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Written by johnwhays

December 30, 2021 at 7:00 am

Ice Breaking

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Oh, the weather outside is frightful… My first clue was that the door didn’t open when Delilah and I intended to step out yesterday morning and she bonked her nose on the glass. We had been out that door the night before on her final walk before bed and stepped into a windy snowstorm. At that time, I decided we should walk down and check on the horses.

Delilah wasn’t really all in for that because she just wanted to do her business and race back inside. We trudged through the blowing snow to the barn and I made her wait while I attempted to convince the two chestnuts they should come over to the big paddock so I could close some gates and split the herd in two for the night.

That would have given them each a better chance of commanding some space under the overhang, as the alternative allows Mix to pull rank and make the chestnuts stay out in the precipitation.

Well, neither Mia nor Light wanted to come into the big paddock so, after several aborted attempts to coerce them, I spent the next fifteen minutes relocating hay nets to get the bags under the roof. Then I filled them with extra hay to give the horses plenty to eat in case they got cold during the storm. Delilah politely tolerated the long wait.

I wasn’t aware that the overnight precipitation eventually turned to rain which froze into a half-inch glazed crust on top. To push the front storm door open required enough force to shatter that crust covering the snow on the front steps.

The next thing that stood out about the overnight accumulation was the noise it made when walking.

Each step broke the crust and sent fragments sliding across the icy surface around us. Poor Delilah ended up standing in her own pee because it flowed in every direction on top of the glass-like surface beneath her.

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The horses seemed to navigate okay since their weight kept them from sliding on the surface, but they made a clattering racket when they walked around. Delilah occasionally had a paw slide out from under her if she didn’t break through on some steps.

Today we are due to receive 2 to 4 additional inches of snow on top of that crust. I’m not sure we will like the outcome of that scenario, but I’ll hold out hope it ends up not being problematic.

At least I have no pressing need to drive in it!

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Written by johnwhays

December 28, 2021 at 7:00 am

Snowy Footsteps

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Today is the start of winter. It feels closer to the middle of winter. Although, we did just have strangely warm temperatures and a weird December thunderstorm. Still, cold temperatures have become the norm and we have a slim inch of flakes dominating most surfaces.

The labyrinth hasn’t had more than a few stray animal footprints disturbing its blanket of white.

Delilah and I have been methodically distributing our footprints along most of our trails. I have a tendency to neglect seeing the depth of our woods when I am busy plotting my footsteps to widen the traveled snow path. I catch myself staring exclusively at the ground right in front of me.

I rely on Delilah’s nose to alert me that we might have some company nearby. On Sunday afternoon, Delilah was intently focused on something in the interior of our woods. As we approached  an intersection of trails, I knew she wanted to go left based on the direction her nose had been pointing.

It took me a while, but eventually I decoded the camouflaged young doe’s big eyes and ears, frozen in a stare directly at us from around the large trunk of a tree. The longer I looked back at her, the more I was able to discern the rest of her body visible on the other side of the tree, too.

If Delilah hadn’t signaled someone was there, I would have been oblivious.

I would have noticed deer hoof prints in the area, though.

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Written by johnwhays

December 21, 2021 at 7:00 am

Night Walks

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Just because the daylight hours are short doesn’t mean Delilah doesn’t still get that obligatory one last out-and-about before bed each evening. This time of year those “potty walks” have an added sense of adventure due to the distinct tunnel vision view we experience as we meander along the trails.

Who knows what could be lurking just out of view in the dark?

At least with the snow, we can see clear evidence if there has been recent traffic either crossing or traveling along our same path. I should probably never doubt that Delilah’s nose wouldn’t sense if another animal was nearby but we’ve seen so many times when she appears to ignore some creatures we encounter in our daytime travels that I’m left to wonder.

One time I turned my spotlight 90° to our left in the woods and illuminated four or five sets of reflecting eyes staring back at me for a brief moment before the herd of deer bolted in exit, stage right. Delilah didn’t even flinch.

All the night-vision animals offer up such noticeable eye reflections that it is those two bright dots that I find myself watching for more than anything else. That’s a tendency I have honed over many miles of commuting our country roads in darkness.

I’ve encountered many more staring animal eyes while driving my car than we’ve ever come upon during our night walks. I figure they have a lot more time to figure out I’m coming toward them when it’s me and Delilah plodding along on foot through the darkness and they don’t choose to hang around for a closer look.

Honestly, that’s okay with me. Even though it’s a thrill to occasionally find an owl perched in our woods, I don’t mind doing our treks without uninvited company providing momentary startles right before bedtime.

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Written by johnwhays

December 9, 2021 at 7:00 am

Short Shift

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I had a very short shift of animal care last night while Cyndie was at her mother’s house for the night. Delilah seemed thrilled that we could walk through our woods again, now that the deer hunting season is over. The temperature was in the 50s(F) which seems really strange for any day in December, but not all that surprising now that the global climate is being cooked.

The warmth seems to have kicked our burrowing rodents into high gear. By the size of some of the fresh dirt piles showing up they must be building extravagant palaces beneath the turf. The soil they bring up looks so pristine. I really should collect it for future use. Not a stone to be found among the mounds of wonderfully sifted dirt.

Our habit is usually to just stomp the piles flat again but there was just too much dirt for that yesterday. I couldn’t pound them down enough so I decided to kick them around, instead. A little like kickin’ horse manure in the pastures.

I found the horses to be incredibly serene when we showed up to serve the feed pans with afternoon rations. It probably rubbed off on Delilah because she barely made a fuss while waiting for me to finish, barking only briefly at nothing in particular.

In less than an hour, all the animals were taken care of and I had the night free to lose myself in the first episode of the 3-part documentary, The Beatles: Get Back, directed by Peter Jackson.

Lose myself, I did.

I am eternally grateful to the fab four for allowing themselves to be filmed at the time and indebted to the camera operators and sound technicians who successfully captured so many hours of unscripted randomness. That we can all watch this unique footage some fifty-plus years later is remarkable to me.

With two more episodes to go, this documentary is the opposite of a short shift, and I will savor every drawn-out moment.

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Written by johnwhays

December 2, 2021 at 7:00 am

Mouse House

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If you have ever heard anyone who owns a log home say their place is sealed tight against rodent intrusion, feel free to question their grip on reality. We could crawl around our foundation day and night, scale the walls to inspect every inch around the soffits, and climb to the peak of our stone chimney and still, I wouldn’t think we’d identified every teeny space of potential access.

We are well into the season of incoming mice and Pequenita is only doing her bare minimum to fatally “play” with the surprise toys. The other night it was hour after hour of romping around our bedroom floor, talking to her latest playmate while Cyndie and I feigned solid sleep in maximum avoidance mode. I was just sleepily aware enough in the morning to only step partway onto the cold, dead remains before catching myself and stopping.

Two nights ago, just after lights out in the bedroom, some busy rodent started making its presence known with repetitive scratching/chewing in the attic space above our ceiling.

Last night, as Cyndie was working on her laptop at the dining room table, something fell from one of the log beams in the ceiling by the front sunroom. It was a mouse.

From my position in the bathroom shower at the time, I heard muffled stomping and banging that instantly had me wondering what in the heck could be going on out there. Then, the sound of Cyndie saying something affectionate to Delilah. I assumed they were engaged in an energized activity to drain some dog energy before the end of the day.

Soon after, Cyndie pops in to announce, “I have a story for you.”

She grabbed a fly swatter and garbage bin that were right there and tried to capture the mouse. Delilah noticed what was going on and jumped up to help. It was Delilah who caught the mouse. Then, our canine carnivore wasted no time in consuming her prize before Cyndie had even a second to decide what to do about it.

I think that was the moment I heard Cyndie offering the dog a kind word.

After my shower, I came into the bedroom to find our cat contentedly curled up on the dog bed, clueless about being one-upped by the dog in the mouse control department.

Cyndie has contacted our pest control service again. “No, it’s not another woodchuck. Nope, not a nest of bees in the ground. Uh uh, not raccoons again. Not bats. Not this time, anyway. Now it’s just a plain old mouse problem.”

They won’t need directions to our house.

Is there such a thing as kevlar shrink wrap? If it came in a wood grain pattern, that would be cool. Just cover our whole house like the blue stuff they stretch over boats to winterize them.

You’d think the multiple prowling neighbor cats would do a better job of controlling the mouse population around here. Come to think of it, that could be increasing the incentive for mice to find new ways inside.

I’m sure pest control will be happy to invoice extensive time and effort to de-mouse our log house.

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Written by johnwhays

November 4, 2021 at 6:00 am