Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘Delilah

Bad Day

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This is the saga of Cyndie’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Really. It was the kind of day that no one deserves when they are already under the strain of grief from the recent death of their father and having just spent the prior day unexpectedly moving furniture and mopping basement floors after flooding rains.

It’s doubly frustrating when the trees outside keep toppling over from the abuses of wind and heavy rain.

We lost another oak tree near the backside of the house sometime in the last two days.

To soothe the pangs of angst banging around in Cyndie’s head, she opted for a craft project to occupy her time and talents, one that would create useful masks in benefit to others. Unfortunately, a problem developed with the bobbin and threading mechanism of her sewing machine which consumed hours, wasted yards of thread, and produced results opposite from soothing angst.

Next, she tried baking, also a love of hers which normally produces oodles of good feelings.

Walking the dog took too long for the tray of parmesan cheese toasts that were in the oven and the results were burned just enough that they couldn’t be salvaged. The delicious smell lingered long after the acrid tasting morsels had been discarded, providing an unwelcome reminder of what was lost.

Luckily, the two loaves of bread she followed up with came out perfect and tasted delicious. She offered a warm slice for me to test. Then, she took Delilah for a jaunt and I stepped outside to finish a chore. When I came back into the air-conditioned house, I found she had returned Delilah to the coolness indoors while she stayed outside to pick wild raspberries.

That is when I spotted the still-warm loaf she had just cut test slices from was now moved just to the very edge of the counter and there were delicate bites missing along the full length of one side.

Each attempt to get the better of her angst ended up providing nothing of the sort.

It had all the makings of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad type of day.

I’m thinking she might benefit from exorcising her demons by way of wielding a chainsaw toward a bunch of oak branches and cutting them to bits.

Take that you terrible, horrible, no good, eff of a day of failing sewing machines and baking disasters.



Written by johnwhays

July 1, 2020 at 6:00 am

Restorative Return

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We slept in our own bed again last night. It had been almost a week since Delilah had seen Cyndie and the reunion aligned entirely with the hypothesis that dogs perceive absence to be the equivalent of death and if a pack-mate returns, it is a miracle.

Cyndie reported that her gardens looked so thirsty for water that a few plants appeared within inches of demise. The labyrinth is a jungle. That will be our first project this morning. It deserves a double-team effort. I hope to get the rest of the grass mowed before predicted afternoon thunderstorms.

One highlight of yesterday was a call from our log home company announcing their plan to arrive tomorrow to begin preparing to reseal our logs.

Thank goodness.

We have seized the moment to eat breakfast in bed, catch up with our online accounts, and take in some favorite Sunday morning TV before setting out on our labors of the day.

Both the obituary and feature article for Cyndie’s dad made it into the Sunday StarTribune newspaper and she and her brothers continue their efforts to fill in the pages of the memorial website for Fred.



The beginning of life-after-Fred is unfolding with not-unexpected fits and starts, but we are underway as best as we are able. Not doing too bad, if I do say so myself.



Written by johnwhays

June 28, 2020 at 9:17 am

Mamma Returns

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One explanation I have heard for a dog’s overzealous greetings when their masters return from time away is that the absence was interpreted as a death. I believe that theory was based on an interpretation of wolf pack behavior. When a wolf disappeared from the pack, it was generally due to death. The survivors don’t expect to ever see that missing member again.

If that missing wolf does reappear, it’s a miracle! No wonder they would get excited.

As far as Delilah was concerned last night, the mamma who has doted on her for most of her life returned from the dead.

I was careful not to utter the highly recognizable sound of “mamma” to our dog until I saw Cyndie’s car coming up the driveway. I made that mistake one other time when Cyndie wasn’t going to be home for days and Delilah walked over toward the door to the garage and stared at it for so long I began to feel awful.

There was a blur of spinning and some squeaky sounds and a whole lotta love.

“She’s alive!”

My resourceful wife beat me to the punch and ordered her own favorite Gina Maria’s pizza on her drive home from the airport, and since it wasn’t ready when she arrived, took advantage of that time to go grocery shopping.

Gone for over a month, and she walks in the door with dinner and groceries.

Sheltering at home just got a lot less lonely for me.

Welcome home, Cyndie. Welcome home.



Written by johnwhays

April 16, 2020 at 6:00 am

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Clean Driveway

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One of the really great features of a spring snowstorm is when the snow melts on the driveway as fast as it falls. When Delilah and I set out on our first walk after I got home from work yesterday, there was no snow falling. After circling the majority of our acres, I parked her in the barn while I tended to chores at the chicken coop.

While I was down with a couple of egg-laying hens, the sky opened up and poured out a downburst of snow. It quickly became a mini-blizzard with little spinning snow-tornadoes that made my trek back to the barn into a heroic expedition. From the barn, Delilah and I hustled our way up to the protection of the house and turned our focus toward each of our respective dinners.

The next time I looked out the window, the cloudburst had ended. It went from everything to nothing in about ten minutes time.

But it wasn’t done yet.

Before dinner was over, flakes started flying again. This time, it lasted much longer. So long, in fact, I started to wonder if I was going to need to shovel. Delilah started getting antsy to make her obligatory after-dinner outing, but I kept delaying her in hope of waiting long enough for the snow to stop falling.

Not only did my plan succeed, but we were subsequently gifted with an outbreak of sunshine! The icing on the cake of this whole mini-drama was stepping out to the sight of a clean driveway. It was downright photogenic.

Take that, winter snowstorms…



Written by johnwhays

April 14, 2020 at 6:00 am

Special Report

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How many times do we have to hear the “special” announcements before we grow numb? I can’t answer that because I wasn’t counting last week when the numbness began to set in. During these “uncertain times” affecting everyone in the world, businesses that are scrambling to adjust are all issuing announcements of what they are doing to be safe, stay safe, help you, help others, unfortunately, to the point of becoming downright annoying.

It is my civic duty to assure all readers that Relative Something is striving to do everything possible to assure that all posts are maintaining a proper social distance and avoiding going to restaurants or concerts until this crisis is over. Epidemiologists are confident that reading blog posts is unlikely to pose unreasonable risks of transfer of the coronavirus, so feel free to spend extra time during your sheltering at home to visit the “Previous Somethings” archive to rediscover what the world was like before 2020.

Yesterday, in effort to clean up some of the mud-saster around here, Delilah and I –well, mostly me, she just sat nearby and stared toward the chickens in the woods– dismantled six pallets to reclaim enough lumber for extending the boardwalk on one of our trails by about seven rows.

You can see a difference one day makes when it comes to spring snow. The white stuff has melted, but that leaves behind a wet, muddy mess for trail conditions.

Actually, it was frozen this morning due to low overnight temperatures, so we hauled a wheelbarrow full of the blocks down into the woods before breakfast. The reward for that effort resulted in a special condition on Delilah’s hairy legs that I call “mudcicles.”

The doggie towels we keep at the front door for drying her feet when we come in from a walk aren’t able to wipe off all the frozen mud stuck in the long hairs on the back of her legs. That tends to slowly melt off around the house over the following hour after we come in.

Luckily, since I am home alone and am not able to host any guests during the pandemic crisis, I simply pretend not to notice how gross the house is becoming. When I try communicating with others in the world via Zoom or FaceTime, I just make sure to keep the camera pointing well above the floor.

Rest assured, despite the thin coating of silt covering every flat surface of the house, the risk of transmission of the coronavirus continues to remain unlikely.

Stay safe while washing your hands everyone!



Written by johnwhays

April 5, 2020 at 9:56 am

Big Melt

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If it was possible to measure, I’d claim yesterday as the day when the balance tipped from winter to spring around here. It certainly appears so in terms of the snowpack. That glacial iceberg that was covering the land has suddenly transformed into a massive snow-cone ice dessert spill.

Look at that texture and try to convince yourself it doesn’t appear as though a shaved ice machine must have overflowed.

Even though there are a lot of places where the ground has become fully exposed, there still remain significant areas in the woods where the depth of snow is almost to my knees. Imagine what it’s like when you step in snow-cone shaved ice that is deeper than the top of your boot.

Yeah, like that.

Out by the road, there was a clear delineation where the edge of winter’s glacier was receding.

Our local forecast is teasing a chance for 60°(F) over the coming weekend. That will be a pleasant “welcome home” for Cyndie, who is currently in Florida with Elysa for a short visit with Fred and Marie. A warm weekend here will be like a cool night down there.

I’m back to entertaining the pooch non-stop from the moment I walk in the door after work until I put her to bed in her crate. She was insufferably persistent in begging for attention last night, only the first day without her mamma around. Lucky for Delilah, that sweet face is pretty irresistible.

She won several full-body massages and multiple exploratory expeditions around the grounds. My writing is slowed significantly when typing with one hand while the other is fending off her insistent snout pleading for interaction.

I’m clinging to the evidence supporting how much emotional benefit there is from having the companionship of a dog.



Written by johnwhays

March 4, 2020 at 7:00 am

All Cat

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It’s not enough that Pequenita has established her dominance over our bed day and night, she was recently spotted making her royal self at home on Delilah’s bed.

They do not have a cuddly relationship. Seems to me they get along like cats and dogs.

I expect Delilah was occupied at one of the windows in the front sunroom, barking at squirrels at the time this photo was taken. Pequenita wouldn’t be on that bed if the dog’s toenails were clicking the floor anywhere in the house. At that sound, the cat makes a mad dash for the “safety” of our bed, either beneath it or on top of it. That maneuver is not out of fear, but as a show of her dominance.

While I was writing this, Pequenita was hard at work in the foot attack zone waging war against my blanketed toes.

She is all cat.

We know who’s boss around here.



Written by johnwhays

February 28, 2020 at 7:00 am

Weather Gift

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What a gift of a day we enjoyed yesterday. Under a late February blue sky, the temperature climbed to a spring-like warmth that allowed coat-less frolicking in the great outdoors. And frolic, we did.

I let Delilah lead a romp through our woods following any animal trails she chose. She was not discerning in the least about the tangled routes she pursued, leaving me to duck and weave my way through a maze of branches which she navigated with ease. It was the depth of snow among the trees after leaving the trails that complicated her progress.

It could be that she got enough of a workout from the deep snow to appreciate the number of times I asked her to pause and wait while I took some pictures. There were fabulous shadows on display that I found particularly captivating, despite my being unable to successfully record most of them.

Most of the time, because of the angle of the brilliant sunshine, positioning myself for a photo of the interesting shadows obscured the scenes with the appearance of my own shadow.

At one point, just as I pressed the button on the camera, Delilah moved her position such that the shadow from her leash appeared right across my shot.

This shadow-print of the rachets on the fence wires came out pretty true to what my eyes saw.

It was an exceptional treat to have such warmth so soon after days of biting below-zero cold. It’s not even March yet and weather like yesterday has given me a strong dose of spring fever.

Hopefully, I won’t regret starting with that thought so early this year.



Written by johnwhays

February 24, 2020 at 7:00 am

Pet Fatigue

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Getting up at zero-dark-thirty, driving an hour to work and another hour home upon completing my hours of day-job duties leaves me a little drained for the full-time dog and cat duty that I’m faced with while Cyndie is away. When I walk in the door, Delilah is all fired up to get her pre-dinner jaunt around the property and guard the barn while I check on the chickens in their coop. At that moment, I’d prefer to get off my feet and close my eyes for a spell.

Luckily, the fresh air rejuvenates me and we have a good outing, but back in the house after that excursion and I am even more exhausted than I was when I arrived home the first time.

Cyndie’s been gone almost a week, with a second week left to go before she is scheduled to return, and I’ve been experiencing a contrasting mix of reactions to my return to solo (sort of) living. Having the whole bed to myself is a bit of a luxury that I am enjoying but it comes at the expense of missing another warm body to ward off the chill of cold toes. Stretching out at every possible angle and not feeling like I am bothering anyone is sumptuous, though, I just have to say.

I hate to admit that only half-way through this current assignment of tending to the animals had me wondering yesterday if there might be someone young and adventurous who would love to have a dog like Delilah live with them.

After Delilah repeatedly bothered me for attention the other night, I finally just stopped what I was doing and sat down on the kitchen floor to interact at her level. In no time, I had drooped to completely laying on the floor and she settled on one of her favorite spots under the table.

The thing is, when I get up, she does too. No rest for the weary.

I breathe a little sigh of relief after securing her in the crate that is her den for the night, but the respite is short-lived.

Pequenita recognizes the instant the dog is confined to quarters and happily steps up for her dose of undivided attention. If I am upright, she reaches up and sinks her claws into my pantlegs and if I am reclined, she begins delivering the headbutts.

She is not subtle about asking for a little of her own undivided attention.

I feel like the mother of infants who never gets a break from constantly having a child clinging to them. At least children eventually grow out of that phase.

I dare say, if I end up living alone someday, I have a strong suspicion I would end up choosing to do so without pets, much as I love the ones we have acquired in our years here.

This becomes significantly more obvious to me when Cyndie is away for extended amounts of time. Thinking back, the year she lived in Boston while I stayed home in Eden Prairie, I don’t remember needing to care for any pets. I don’t think I realized how easy I had it at the time.

Although, I wonder what I would end up writing if I didn’t have dog/cat/chicken tales to blather on about anymore.



Written by johnwhays

January 23, 2020 at 7:00 am

Floating Flakes

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All day yesterday snow-globe flakes floated magically out of the sky. It was mystical. I checked the radar in the morning to see if it was a temporary shower or something more substantial and the precipitation didn’t even show up. Somehow, flakes just kept falling from the time I woke up, continuing without pause through my last walk with Delilah in the dark of night.

It made for a gorgeous winter day. I occupied myself with raking snow off the last three valleys of our roof and then shoveling away the piles that resulted beneath.

There was a decent-sized drift hanging off one eave and plenty of straight accumulation built up on the opposite side of the house.

I let Delilah hang out with me while I worked, but by the time I moved to the back, she just stood at the door staring inside. It looked like she was hoping someone in there would notice and rescue her from the cold. I gave in and walked her around to let her in the front door.

Then she barked at me for the noise I was making on the roof.

Delilah got to have a real canine adventure Friday night when we took our last walk of the evening while the snowstorm was underway. While she had her nose in the snow investigating something that caught her attention, I spotted a field mouse skittering along on top of the snow.

By the time I got Delilah’s attention to come after it, the critter disappeared below the snow again. As Delilah hunted around near that spot, the mouse popped up right beside me and resumed its sprint to escape all this attention.

That was a fatal mistake. There is now one less field mouse roaming the ranch this winter and Delilah is feeling like quite the successful hunter.



Written by johnwhays

January 20, 2020 at 7:00 am