Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘dog

Various Snippets

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There are days –I bet you have them, too— when there isn’t one main story of the moment to tell. Just random tidbits that may, or may not, be related. Snippets.

Starting Thursday after work last week, Cyndie and I had a goal to get a lot done in preparation for World Labyrinth Day the following Saturday. I had it in mind to relocate a cold compost pile to a low spot we are building up. I told Cyndie it would just be 4-6 wheelbarrow loads. It turned out to be double that.

While huffing the loaded wheelbarrow up to the dump spot, I saw the stack of 15 pallets waiting to be stowed. By the end of Friday, we had built the fenced courtyard for the chicken coop, raked the round pen with the ATV, put the cover on the gazebo, raked, pruned, hung hammocks and a dozen other small simultaneous tasks.

It occurred to me that the number of spring chores we accomplished felt equivalent to annual Work weekend at Wildwood, except instead of a full community of six families, it was just Cyndie and me.

During one of my passes by the paddock that Friday, I stopped to take a picture of Hunter taking a serious full-sleep nap. I thought it was funny that in his complete unconsciousness, his relaxed lips produced a pearly white smile.

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As soon as I set down my tools and pulled out my camera at the fence, Cayenne walked up to meet me. Dezirea was quick to follow suit.

Yesterday, I was walking Delilah past the chicken coop when she reacted with unwanted interest in the chicks milling around inside their fence. I decided to try an exercise of getting her to lay down right next to their enclosure in calm submission.

The plan was to get her to engage directly with me, and disregard the (incredibly enticing) chicks. It was comical watching her struggle against her insatiable predator urge. This exercise will take a LOT of repetition if we have any hope of ever lulling her into a state of being able to regard the chickens as “friends, not food.”

Back to thinking about Wildwood again, while walking Delilah through the woods near the house, I paused to search for signs of our transplanted trillium blooming.

For the last several years, while up at the lake place for Memorial work weekend, we have collected samples of the trillium that carpet the forest floor around the property and brought them home to plant as ‘starters’ in hopes of replicating a similar display here.

We always plant them in sets of three in a triangle shape to help keep track of our success ratio. The results have been pretty good.

If you look closely at the image, there is a non-flowering trillium just behind and to the right of the lone blossom commanding all the attention.

It will be a thrilling sight when we finally find evidence of new sprouts from spreading rhizomes showing up among our original groups of three.

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Peaceful Presence

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With a perfectly timed explosion of lightning and thunder, our peaceful World Labyrinth Day came to a spectacular close last night. Prior to that, we had plenty of sun and warmth to walk the circuitous path of our 70-foot diameter, 11 circuit Chartes labyrinth nestled on the edge of our woods beside a horse pasture.

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Even though the “Walk as One at 1” in a global wave of peace was the primary reason for yesterday’s open house at Wintervale, it ended up being the chickens who stole the show.

The kids present wanted to climb inside the fence and feed the growing chicks delectable treats of dried worms and cracked corn right from their hands.

Although the young birds were a bit skittish over all the human energy present on our first visit, Cyndie took the kids back a little later and the chicks were much more interested in exploring the offerings.

Shortly after the last of family and friends had departed for the day, Cyndie and I made the rounds to bring hammocks and chair cushions inside. The sky was growing dark gray on the horizon.

We made the short trek to Clyde’s Corner for cheese burgers to cap off the end of a successful day, while the thunderstorm loomed large. Luckily, we had decided to wrangle the chicks back into the coop before we left.

The drive home was a light-show of streaking lightning bolts, many appearing to be hitting closer to us as the storm moved away. That had Delilah barking up her own storm to bring our exciting day to an appropriate end.

It started peacefully, and ended with quite a bang.

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Manipulating Neurochemistry

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How are your stress levels today? Don’t think about the answer. Feel it.

Cyndie and I have faced some questions about how we are doing lately. It hasn’t been as easy to answer as usual for us. It was a tough winter, but listing our grievances doesn’t feel good to share. It doesn’t paint the picture as accurately as we know it to be.

Our move to the country and accumulation of animals for which we need to tend has put distance between us and our friends and family. Some connections with people and activities have broken, and only a fraction of new local connections have sprouted in their place.

We have gained a brilliant wealth of new relationships with our animals, and precious though they are, it is not the same.

Yesterday we had an opportunity to drive the suburban roads again that consumed our everyday back when we lived in Eden Prairie. The dramatic contrast to our present-day environment was revealing.

Is it worth it? The struggles to cope with the never-ending challenges of weather and the unrelenting daily routine of required chores to care for our horses, chickens, dog, and cat? Some days, more than others. It’s life. It’s something we chose. (By the way, that’s a luxury –having the choice– that is not lost on us.)

Our challenges can be framed as onerous and laborious; burdens that could be lifted by giving up our animals and moving back to the conveniences and camaraderie of our life-long friends and families in the suburbs.

The difficulties of the last few months, and the years of owning and caring for our animals can also be framed as invigorating, rejuvenating, inspiring, and fulfilling. It is adventure of a very high order.

When we choose to frame the ups and downs of life in the positive, we manipulate our neurochemistry in healthy ways. That is a choice we have power to control. I spent an unfortunate number of years manipulating my biochemistry in the opposite direction by mentally framing my life in the negative.

We won’t prevent harsh realities from challenging our decisions by simply thinking positive all the time, but we will be better served to meet those challenges when we give our brains the healthiest balance of on-going positive neurochemical support possible.

Life here is challenging, but we are doing well. Really well. Thanks for asking.

It feels right.

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Missed Again

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If you take a lot of pictures, you know what it’s like to miss a shot. Like most things, there are more misses than hits when it comes to the spectacular capture. If you want to nail the perfect picture, beyond some good luck and good equipment, you need a lot of patience.

I came up short on all three yesterday while out on a walk with Delilah. Cyndie wanted me to give our little shepherd a workout to burn off some extra energy, so I strapped on the snowshoes and headed out to pack some of the trails that haven’t been walked since the last snow storms.

Delilah didn’t get the deep snow workout I had intended, because she was just light enough to stay on top of the wind-packed, partially melted blanket of beautiful snow, but I had a plan for that. We would be hiking many routes and doubling back on several of them.

If I can snowshoe both directions, it makes for a better packed path.

The first time we approached the road from our southern fence line, two hawks were up to something, putting on an air show with vocal enhancements that intrigued Delilah greatly.

From there we continued across our driveway and traversed what we call the “north loop” trail that pops out at the big willow tree famous for tripping Cyndie up when she stomped on the rake. Normally, this route would be followed by traveling up the driveway to the house. Delilah was locked into that program to such a degree that my instruction to turn around and head back in the other direction was met with quite the expression of complete confusion.

It’s was laughable, especially because that was quickly followed by a sprint that said, “Let’s do this!”

As we returned to the road from the opposite direction, it wasn’t a hawk that caught our attention, it was a big eagle flying away. With my eyes skyward, the silhouette of another white-headed dark bird perched in a tree was easy to catch. Even though I was limited to what my pocket camera could achieve, I stopped Delilah and tried to zoom in for a photo.

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It didn’t provide much in the way of opportunity, so after a couple shots my attention shifted to Delilah at the end of her long leash in front of me. She was staring across our field, holding a gorgeous pose that was definitely photo-ready.

As I lifted my hand with the camera and my finger reached for the shutter button, I missed and pushed the power to “Off.”

Delilah moved as I fumbled to get the power back on and the spectacular sound of large flapping wings made a couple of snaps into flight. That beautiful bald eagle pushed hard against the air to soar into the sky away from us.

It won’t be the last beautiful photo I just missed.

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Different Bad

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We thought Sunday morning was bad, what with its dose of a slippery ice-glaze over every surface turning navigation from the house to the barn into a risky balance-testing feat.

Yesterday’s winter storm was very different. School districts around the region started announcing closures before bedtime on Sunday night! Since we were watching the Academy Awards show, it was impossible to miss the added drama of concern about the weather, as it constantly rolled across the bottom of the screen.

The number of school districts grew with each pass of the alphabetically sorted scroll. When the names of the biggest districts in the state showed up, it lent significant credence toward the probability I should plan to avoid trying to travel to work.

I hemmed and hawed over my options, ultimately making the decision before going to sleep. I would stay home.

After sleeping past my normal alarm time for a work day, I woke to discover I could have made the drive in if I’d gotten up like usual. I knew that was a possible result when I decided the night before to stay home, so I wasn’t too frustrated with myself at that point. The real concern was going to be the drive home.

Since I didn’t drive in, the plan was that I wouldn’t need to worry about the drive home.

Except, the real onset of the accumulating snow ended up happening late enough in the day that I could have worked a full shift, after all. I would have been home before things really began to get hazardous.

It was odd having stayed home from work all day when the view out the window looked so harmless. Postings on the local Live Weather Updates site of our public radio network kept warning that the onset was still coming, just delayed a bit from original guesses.

Their warnings ultimately proved totally justified.

Before the precipitation, the wind was gusting to startling degrees. Cyndie reported hearing a tree falling, but wasn’t sure about the location. I was a little nervous about venturing through the woods to look for it while the gusts were still raging.

The snow finally showed up for us around 3:30, and by 4:00, it was already hard to see beyond our property borders. We were suddenly isolated from the world, and being battered by unrelenting swarms of stabbing snowflake blades.

I succeeded in making it to the mailbox and back with Delilah, but she looked like she thought the expedition was a ridiculous idea, gladly retreating indoors when we made it back to the house. Cyndie was tending to the horses and chickens, and I figured she would be in shortly behind us.

Ten minutes later, I looked up from what I was doing and realized the visibility outside had dropped down to almost zero. The snow was coming so thick and wind-blown, I became concerned about how Cyndie was coping. I decided to gear up and go check. This wasn’t just bad weather, this was wicked!

Careful not to blindly pass her, in case she came up a different route than I went down, I squinted for signs of her outline. She was at the chicken coop. The hens had jumped one of the half doors into the barn and didn’t want to return to the coop. Who could blame them? She was hand carrying them back.

I helped to get the last two and we closed up the coop and then the barn doors.

Had I driven to work, I was planning to stay overnight at her parent’s house. Given how crazy, and sometimes even a bit scary it got yesterday afternoon and evening, I’m glad I stayed home.

Regardless how bad it wasn’t earlier in the day, it was worth it so that Cyndie didn’t have to face all this bad weather drama alone.

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Insanity Revisits

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We deal with the weather here every day, and every time it gets insane it feels like the worst time ever. In reality, they are probably all equally insane, each with their own unique version of insanity.

This morning, it is freezing rain that makes just reaching our animals limb-threateningly risky, let alone extremely difficult to tend to their needs.

I knew it was severe this morning when I watched Delilah’s rush to return to the house cause Cyndie’s harsh reaction over being pulled too fast —faster than she could baby-step her penguin walk over the glaze in an escapade worthy of film to reach our front door and scale the slippery steps.

Her first words upon entering involved a bold reference to not wanting to live here any longer.

Yes, it’s that bad this morning.

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Written by johnwhays

March 4, 2018 at 10:29 am

Planning Ahead

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I’m happy to report that yesterday’s commute went without a hitch, despite completing the last few miles home in the afternoon in an ever-increasing snowfall.

It was a busy night for me last night. After putting Delilah through a long workout with some off-trail deep snow, I needed to plow the driveway and do some shoveling, before heading inside to pack for a weekend out of town. Not just out of town, but out of state. We are flying to spend the weekend with Cyndie’s parents in Florida, traveling with our friends, Barb and Mike Wilkus.

Our trusty home and animal sitter, McKenna, has offered to cover the necessary days that will allow us to spend a night before and after Florida at Cyndie’s parent’s Edina home to maximize efficiency and minimize driving between home, work, and the airport.

That meant I needed to think about getting ready for work this morning, as well as packing for four days in Florida, and then making sure I will have everything I need for going to work the following Monday. After work today, I will drive to Edina. Cyndie will meet me there to spend the night before we head to the airport with Barb and Mike early in the morning.

We get back to the Cities late on Sunday, and will be able to avoid the long drive back to Beldenville by returning to the Edina home for the night. Monday morning, I head directly to work from there.

That’s thinking a lot of days ahead for me. So much for living in the moment.

On the walk with Delilah, we found some good evidence of the icing that was occurring on Monday. It looked like someone had painted our fence posts gray, which, humorously, was my first thought when I spotted the odd sight.

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Oh, yeah. It was just ice.

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Written by johnwhays

February 21, 2018 at 7:00 am