Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘Delilah

Slow Gardening

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Not unlike the methods we have employed on the driveway, chipping away at a big job in small portions, this week we have been giving the labyrinth a thorough going over. So thorough, we have been moving and replacing each of the rocks while weeding and trimming the grass around and beneath them.

At the pace of this level of detail, it will be amazing if we finish before the labyrinth garden gets covered by snow. Each morning before we start, I have been giving the driveway project ongoing attention, moving a couple loads of composted manure by wheelbarrow to create a gradient beyond the gravel shoulder.

So, both projects continue to hold our attention.

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The long hours in the sun had Delilah patiently hiding in the shade while we toiled. When I broke for lunch yesterday, I brought her up to the house with me while Cyndie continued to work. As I was gobbling up some sustenance, I glanced over to find Delilah laid out on the tile floor, her head placed precisely in the glaring spot of sun shining in through the skylight.

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Apparently, it wasn’t as hot as the bright sunshine she worked so hard to avoid down by the labyrinth.

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Written by johnwhays

September 23, 2022 at 6:00 am

Alternative View

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This photo begs a caption but I’ve got nothing. Feel free to share your ideas by posting a comment.

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Written by johnwhays

September 22, 2022 at 6:00 am

Fair Bound

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Today is the only day that worked out for us to pay a visit to the Minnesota State Fair so we enlisted the services of our animal sitter to cover the hours we plan to be away and we’re going for it. Neither of us can remember how many years it has been since we last went to the fair but it has been a long time.

I’ve only changed my mind about going several times after reading articles about long lines, not just at food booths but also simply getting a seat on a shuttle bus to the fair itself. Cyndie pointed out we already had coverage for the day so we might as well go.

Knowing today would be booked for all-day fun, we made a point of diving into chores as soon as we got home yesterday. We pulled a full shift on the driveway, raking up and shaping gravel shoulders for 60 yards (30 on each side). Then I scooped a few days of manure that had accumulated in the paddocks over the weekend while Cyndie did some weeding around the barn.

While we were at the lake, both our cell phones were buzzing with storm alerts from back home and our power co-op emailed a notice the power had gone out. Upon arriving home we found no evidence whatsoever that we’d lost power. There were a few small tree branches on the ground but not anything that different from a typical windy afternoon. The rain gauges held between 2.5 and 3.0 inches of water.

The images in our minds triggered by the weather app warnings conjured a much more vigorous impact than what physical evidence presented upon our return home. For that we are thankful. Unfortunately, outcomes like this serve to feed my tendency to be nonchalant when it comes to alarming weather alerts.

Sunday night, the Hayward area got pounded hard by a very dramatic 1:30 a.m. thunderstorm. It had Delilah in fits, barking at the flashes of lightning and rumbles of thunder. She works hard to scare off thunderstorms due to a deep-seated drive to protect us from harm. All she did is protect us from getting good sleep.

As the storm raged at its peak intensity, I invited Cyndie to imagine what it would be like to experience that from inside a two-person tent. That is what I and a few others endured in June during the Tour of Minnesota bike trip because we opted out of the invitation to sleep inside the school. Throw in the sound of an air-raid siren wailing right overhead for full effect.

No storms in the forecast for today’s fair adventure. Just a threat of sore feet and tested patience in dealing with a hundred-thousand other people trying to do the same thing as us. Oh, and a high potential of exceeding my daily sugar and overall calorie intake goals in a span of very few hours.

We are looking forward to it.

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Written by johnwhays

August 30, 2022 at 6:00 am

Latest Binge

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With unfettered access to streaming television episodes this weekend, we ended up binging, “Patriot,” a five-year-old Amazon Prime Video that is a dark, comedic, assassin drama. I’m kind of a sucker for the merging of quirky dark humor in reality-based situations of high-drama, national “off-the-book” intelligence agent action. The series repeatedly involves situations where a relatively simple goal becomes complicated in multiple, and often messy, ways.

Riddled with a fair number of plot holes and illogical setups that all deserve to be ignored for the good of the rest of what’s so absorbing about the series, I would guess this 2-season story is ripe for critique by those who choose. I’m not interested in doing that.

One aspect that I appreciated about the writing was the merging of local authorities trying to process scenes resulting from international espionage type of incidents. A more conventional spy story will either ignore or have “the agency” wipe a scene so the main operative can carry on a mission unburdened by the consequences of previous actions.

In addition to that, there are multiple side dramas by coworkers at the firm where the main character had mischievously landed a “cover” position allowing him to travel to off-limits countries.

In “Patriot,” the persistent pursuit by local officials trying to solve their mysteries as well as the interruptions by people with personal agendas becomes a primary interwoven thread of the ever more convoluted challenges faced by the protagonist. It’s a bit like a Bourne-style CIA assassin story with ten times more real-life having a constant complicating impact.

Binging the story provided an entertaining escape from reality for a couple of rainy days at the lake.

Between showers on a walk with Delilah, she walked deeper in the water than is her usual preference because of the enticing sight of ducks lounging around on the floating mat. I had no plan of getting wet so stood by nervously waiting to see how bad she wanted to go after them. I figured I could quickly kick off shoes and wade further in if she decided to swim, but that wasn’t my preference.

She has shown no interest in swimming all the other times we invited her into the water.

Delilah decided the ducks weren’t enough reason to change that pattern and returned to shore to finish our walk.

Worked for me. There were a couple episodes left to be binged before bedtime.

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Written by johnwhays

August 29, 2022 at 6:00 am

Lake Living

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One of the special charms of being up at the lake is the communing with family and friends. Staying in the same place with folks for days at a time expands the connection so much more than just an afternoon visit to one another’s homes for occasional events. As great as it is to have the lake home filled with people and activity, that is exactly what we are enjoying not having this week.

It has been just Cyndie, me & Delilah up here this week and we have been loving it. There are a few people from other families up at their places, but they have mostly been keeping to themselves as much as we have to ourselves.

Yesterday was quieter than the day before (when there was some passing lightning and thunder that triggered Delilah into barking fits) and even the dog seemed to settle nicely into the chill lake-life atmosphere we were cultivating.

I got in a mellow bike ride on quiet roads through wooded marshes that had me curious about the level of bear activity that may have been happening lately. Something about the scenery just looked like there should be a bear ambling by at any minute. Thoughts like this are probably triggered by the one time I did spot a bear loping along in a field up here, just to my right as I pedaled along the road. When it finally noticed me rolling along it just altered course to slant away from parallel to me so that disappearing into the nearby trees happened sooner than later.

It was somewhat comical how nonchalant we both were about the brief sighting.

After my cycling and a whopping sandwich lunch, Cyndie and I took Delilah for some water sports and we all enjoyed being alone on the beach. Delilah doesn’t choose to swim but happily tromps in up to her belly. We all did a fair amount of rock hunting and a little bit of water splashing.

It was a luxuriously slow day with some card playing on the deck, a little Tour de France watching, a grilled chicken dinner, and some streaming suspenseful tv drama after dark.

I could get used to this life if it weren’t for our other life waiting for us to return to Wintervale.

Of course, living most of our days at home serve well to keep our visits to the lake up north all the more enticing.

The reality is that we are just temporarily “lake living.” We head back home tomorrow morning where I will quickly change gears and dive into cutting grass. I’m pretty sure I will do so with visions of the scene in the photo above playing in my mind all the while.

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Written by johnwhays

July 15, 2022 at 6:00 am

Fireworks Alarm

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Yes, we have a dog. Her name is Delilah. This was my night last night:

Fireworks pop in the distance.

Delilah: BARK! BARK BARK BARK!! BARK! GRRRRR. BARK! BARK BARK!!

7:35 p.m. Firework reports.

Delilah: BARK! BARK BARK BARK!! BARK! GRRRRR. BARK! BARK BARK BARK!!

7:45 p.m. Fireworks.

Delilah: BARK! BARK BARK BARK!! BARK! BARK! BARK BARK!!

8:00 p.m. Fireworks.

Delilah: BARK! BARK BARK BARK!! BARK! GRRRRR. BARK! BARK BARK!! BARK BARK BARK BARK. Heavy panting.

8:23 – 9:15 p.m. Fireworks.

Delilah: Pretty much non-stop BARK! BARK!! BARK! BARK!! BARK! BARK BARK!! interspersed with some occasional panting and growling.

9:28 p.m. Fireworks.

Delilah, in her overnight crate with fabric draped over it: BARK! BARK BARK BARK!! BARK! BARK! BARK BARK!!

Meanwhile, our cat, Pequenita, never made the slightest sound.

I’m just sayin’.

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Written by johnwhays

July 4, 2022 at 6:00 am

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Ground Visible

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The change of seasons is marching full ahead with great results. I appreciate that our snowpack’s meltdown has been happening at a perfectly gradual pace. It’s been cool enough during the overnights that melting pauses so the runoff has been controlled, for the most part.

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Delilah and I found the fields entirely bare when we emerged from the woods where there was still snow covering the ground on our morning stroll.

By afternoon, water was flowing as the melting of remaining snow picked up again. It is very rewarding to witness the unimpeded drainage flowing where Cyndie and I worked hard to correct the grade in front of her perennial garden last year.

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My “swale” in the paddock hadn’t maintained its shape nearly as well and the water was draining randomly across the main travel path of two gateways where hoof prints in the soft earth disrupt any coordinated drainage. While cleaning up manure yesterday afternoon, I did a rudimentary job of stemming the flow as best I could, using the flimsy plastic tines of my fork scoop tool.

I want the water to flow out of the paddock to the left of the gate opening to the hayfield, not across the primary travel pattern of the horses. Any attempts I make toward achieving this goal end up getting stomped on by horses who don’t seem to notice what my efforts are intended to accomplish for them.

It’s almost like they have no idea how much they weigh and the amount of disruption in soft, wet soil they create.

One other creature who has no idea how much of a disaster she creates is Delilah. She prances around everywhere she pleases in the snow and mud and then assumes a little toweling off when we come inside the house and she’s good to go.

Sweeping the floor is an adventure after practically every outing.

Yeah, the ground is visible alright.

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Written by johnwhays

March 19, 2022 at 7:06 am

New Game

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It’s like a board game for dogs! Cyndie gave Delilah a new present to challenge her intrepid canine intellect. It started slowly, with Delilah unclear about the particulars of moving the sliding tiles to uncover the treats her nose was telling her were inside.

When it comes to doggie treats, a certain sense of urgency is demonstrated. Miss D was showing little interest in learning the nuances of this “game” with her intense focus on getting another treat between her teeth no matter what it took.

A little timid at first, Delilah used only her nose to push aside the sliding covers in order to inhale the treat as it was exposed.

Then she rose to her feet for better leverage and tried gripping at the tiles with her teeth.

Before the first session with her new game was over, she was sliding some of the pieces with her paw.

When the game came out again later in the afternoon for a second session, Delilah showed impressive improvement in refining her techniques at solving the challenges of uncovering treats. The treat for us was being able to witness her curiosity and intelligence so visibly demonstrated.

That is infinitely more satisfying than when she thrashes at our windows barking endlessly at a squirrel in the yard.

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Written by johnwhays

March 7, 2022 at 7:00 am

Tree Dwelling

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Near the edge of the woods at the bottom of the hill behind our house, there is a large tree with three distinct critter access points. I noticed them the other day because Delilah stopped to look up at the tree with excited interest. That almost always means a squirrel was moving around in the branches.

I didn’t see any life in the branches but I very much noticed the three holes in the tree.

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Do you think those are three separate “apartments” or is that a deluxe three-story home with a door on each floor?

Cyndie, Delilah, and I are waking up at the lake place this morning on the weekend of the American Birkebeiner cross-country ski race. Our friends, the Williams family will be joining us, and their daughter, Ella will be skiing it on Saturday for the first time.

It is estimated the event brings 40-thousand people to Hayward for the weekend. That changes things dramatically around here. For reference, the population of Hayward is a little over 2000. It messes up our navigation because they close roads and strive to move everyone by shuttle bus. Foils our desire to sneak down a fire lane road to catch a glimpse of racers in the middle of the woods.

Organizers want all spectators to watch the beginning or the end, or both, traveling by shuttle bus. I’d prefer to not be constrained to standing among the masses. I’m not tall enough to expect I will be able to see anything in a crowd, anyway.

Before we left home yesterday, I needed to finish clearing snow from in front of the big barn doors so I could move bales of hay in for the person tending to the horses while we are away. I also needed to pull snow off the eaves above the front door of the house and then shovel that into a giant mound by the front steps.

Arriving up here hours later, the first order of business was to shovel access paths to the doors. The driveway was plowed and caretakers had pulled some snow off the roof but no good attention had been paid toward clearing snow from in front of the doors.

Ski racing might be an Olympic sport, but I feel like the shoveling I’ve been doing lately is medal-worthy.

In case you didn’t form an opinion about the tree pictured above, I’d say it’s one palatial three-story home based on the noticeable lack of tracks in the snow at the base. I may be wrong, but I’m guessing it’s some fat-cat of a squirrel luxuriating up there with no reason to come out and get his feet wet.

I think Delilah could smell him.

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Written by johnwhays

February 25, 2022 at 7:00 am

Fresh Blanket

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The old snowpack has melted and refrozen several times and was beginning to look rather sad. It’s been polished by whipping winds and covered with leaves, branches, and shrapnel from trees, knocked down by birds and squirrels. Well, it has a whole new look today. It snowed all day yesterday and everything is now covered with a fresh white blanket.

At the time of that photo, we had about 8.5 inches on the ground. After dinner, when I was out plowing the driveway, it snowed another half-inch.

The horses can always retreat to the protection of the overhang and I closed gates between the two paddocks to give the two chestnuts unrestricted access to one side. Under the overhang is where we hang hay nets, so the hay stays dry. Of course, then the horses can stay dry, too, while eating.

I’m dumbfounded why the chestnuts, Mia and Light, choose to stand out in the snow anyway. Swings, the eldest of the four mares, always chooses the overhang for shade when it is hot and shelter when it is windy or wet.

Here is what the difference looks like:

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That’s Mia on the left and Swings on the right.

Today is my last day of talking to myself for the past nine days because, if all goes according to plan, Cyndie returns from Florida.

I think Delilah is getting tired of trying to figure out what I am saying, as I have been rambling at length to explain my activities to her in the absence of anyone else around for conversation. She has taken to cocking her head a little and giving me a long blank stare. If my jabbering doesn’t ultimately culminate in something she can eat, she tends to sigh and wander away for another nap.

That is, if it isn’t time for one of her walks. She knows when it is time for our regularly planned outings and never hesitates to make herself very available for each precious occasion. Walks are even more special for a while now because of the fresh blanket of powder we get to romp through.

I get a fresh chance to trudge a wider pathway on our trails for several days. Delilah and I will have it looking nicely packed again in no time. Then all the forest critters will commence dropping things everywhere and I’ll start pining for the next new blanket of snow to show up.

Rinse, and repeat until spring.

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Written by johnwhays

February 23, 2022 at 7:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

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