Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘dog

Slow Gardening

leave a comment »

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.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

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.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

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

.

.

Written by johnwhays

September 23, 2022 at 6:00 am

Alternative View

with 2 comments

.

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

.

.

Written by johnwhays

September 22, 2022 at 6:00 am

Fair Bound

leave a comment »

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.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

August 30, 2022 at 6:00 am

Latest Binge

leave a comment »

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.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

August 29, 2022 at 6:00 am

Lake Living

leave a comment »

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.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

July 15, 2022 at 6:00 am

Fireworks Alarm

leave a comment »

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’.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

July 4, 2022 at 6:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

Tagged with , , , , ,

Being Horses

leave a comment »

This morning I am feeling overwhelming awe over my opportunity to live in such a beautiful place and care for these four rescued thoroughbred mares. In a conscious effort to compartmentalize all the ills and angst-inducing news roiling our planet, I am focusing on the peace and tranquility of my immediate surroundings and soaking up the soul-nourishing thrill of it all.

Being home alone with our animals brings on plenty of opportunities for contemplation. Half of me is thinking about which of our unending projects I can tend to on my own –chainsaw use is not allowed when I am alone– and half is wallowing in the bliss of all the pleasantries of solitude.

Partial solitude, that is. Delilah frequently reminds me that I am not totally alone. She also influences which projects I choose to tackle and when because some tasks don’t lend themselves well to having a leashed dog along. I am extremely grateful for her patient tolerance of my extended lingering this morning after tending to the horses.

The completion of the morning routine at the barn is regularly the trigger for returning to the house to feed Delilah breakfast. That she would accept any delay in being fed is absolute generosity on her part.

While the horses were calmly consuming their morning feed servings today, I quietly made my way down to open the gates to the freshly cut hay field. I was dumping a wheelbarrow of manure onto the most active compost pile when the horses took advantage of the renewed opportunity to roam the front field. They were just making their way over the hill and out of sight when I returned to the barn.

Curious about what was drawing them to immediately head to the farthest reaches of the field, I convinced Delilah to walk away from the house toward the high spot in the driveway to see what the horses were doing down by the road.

They were munching on the grass along the fence line as if in a gesture to demonstrate that they could. It was as far from the barn as their confines allow. With Delilah’s generous patience providing me ample opportunity, I just stood and watched our herd of four gorgeous horses being horses. Mix turned first and began to make her way back up the rise in the big field.

She stood at the top for a moment and looked absolutely regal, then moved into a happy trot down to the gate into the paddocks. The other three walked along behind. They appeared to be reveling in the regained access to the full reaches of their current home.

It is such a rewarding honor to be able to give them as much autonomy as possible throughout each day.

Their happiness is contagious.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

July 3, 2022 at 10:21 am

Flash Gorgeous

leave a comment »

Why “Flash Gorgeous?” I saw a portion of a program on climate change last night, talking about the increasing incidents of flash flooding erupting out of our periodic thunderstorms. Yesterday’s weather was the opposite of a flash flood so I thought of flipping convention and describing the incredibly gorgeous day using a term we usually associate with the blast of a weather disaster.

We enjoyed a day-long flash of spectacular weather for working on projects outdoors. I cranked up the power trimmer and focused on cutting tall grass growing on both sides of the fence segments of the round pen and along the border of the back pasture that I mowed on Wednesday.

The air was as fresh and comfortable as ever and allowed for sweat-free exertion which is a rarity for the type of work I was doing under the high-angled sun.

Speaking of fresh, Delilah came home from a grooming appointment smelling so sweet and clean I almost didn’t want to let her outside again, where she tends to seek out the nastiest smells and then rolls in them.

The views during our treks through the woods are quickly growing shorter and shorter because of all the leaves that have burst forth in the last ten days. It really changes our woods dramatically during the peak of transitioning between the extremes of summer and winter.

One disadvantage of Cyndie and me getting away from home over our extended Memorial Day weekend is that transplanted trees didn’t get regular watering and they all looked really sad as a result. Time will tell if better attention now can prevent the loss of the mix of oak and maples we moved to a line just outside the paddock fences.

It makes me even more pleased to have also found a few saplings we could nurture right where they sprouted and not deal with the risks of transplanting. They haven’t suffered a bit since we last checked on them.

Maybe we will end up with a “flash-Forest” one of these days. I prefer looking for flashes of brilliant positives instead of the typical flash-flood of extreme weather disasters being visited upon us with ever-increasing intensities.

Give somebody a dose of “flash-friendliness” if you find an opportunity today. Happy Friday!

.

.

Written by johnwhays

June 3, 2022 at 6:00 am

Good Behavior

leave a comment »

I maintain a routine (imagine that) in the morning when I walk Delilah and then feed and clean up after the horses. On my own for the last four weeks, while Cyndie has been convalescing after her knee replacement surgery, the horses are showing recognition for my consistent way of doing things.

As Delilah and I round the bend of the back pasture into view of the horses, I always offer a soft verbal greeting to the horses. No matter where they happen to be standing when I make that turn, by the time I pass through the barn to grab the wheelbarrow and open the door under the overhang, Swings will be standing in the first spot by the door to greet me.

It’s a crapshoot whether the two chestnuts will be on “their side” or anywhere else at that point, often a function of wherever Mix has harassed them to be, but not always. This morning, Mia was right where she should be, opposite Swings. Mix was close enough to where she is served her feed pan. Light stood on the wrong side, about halfway down toward the waterer.

My first order of business is to clean up any manure piles located under the overhang. In the early days of this exercise, the horses demonstrated some impatience with my actions delaying the service of their morning feed. Now they remain wonderfully calm and wait politely for me to work at a leisurely pace to get the job done.

When I disappear back into the barn, they know what will come next. I return with filled feed pans. Today the distribution went flawlessly, which is not always the case. Too often, Light will upset the order by ignoring her feed pan and instead choosing to steal Swings’ pan, which triggers what I call the morning ballet.

Swings will switch to eat Mix’s; Mix will choose either of the chestnuts’ pans, which they theatrically abandon. Mia will be the odd mare out and Light will go find a different pan.

When I am able, I put gates between them, isolating the chestnuts. That calms things significantly. It is only when one or both of the chestnuts stay on the wrong side that I am unable to take advantage of using the gates.

Today, as I placed the pan for Swings and then walked over to place Mix’s, I saw Light stroll downhill around the waterer and come up on the correct side to allow me to close the gates and give her and Mia their pans in the usual locations. All four stayed in place and munched away peacefully.

When Light chooses to play along with my intentions, everyone benefits.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

May 21, 2022 at 9:26 am

Heavy Sky

leave a comment »

Who doesn’t like posts about the weather? It’s like a friend that everyone knows. We interact with the weather every single day. It’s our common denominator, even though it could be completely different for us at any given moment.

We didn’t receive the hail that our children in the Twin Cities reported, but the wild weather was swirling all around us. Poor Delilah was on full alert trying her darnedest to scare away the intimidating thunder with her most energetic ferocious barks. She leaped straight into the air to get after one particular rumble in the sky.

She puts out an incredibly valiant, yet futile effort to combat the ominous sounds and flashes of thunderstorms. The noise and her frantic energy quickly get tiresome to our weary ears and fractured ambiance.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

While out feeding the horses, the clouds put on a spectacular show that became very difficult to read. I wished I had taken one of the skywarn classes offered by the National Weather Service. The rain came in several waves with just a scattering of lightning and thunder. Between each, we saw moments of sunshine and general calm.

On an evening with a looming threat of severe weather, we lucked out as the worst cells slid either north or south of us. As nightfall descended, we walked out to deliver the trash and recycle bins to the road and got a good view of the backside of one of the big cells.

Our sky was beginning to look much less heavy already.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

May 20, 2022 at 6:00 am