Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘humor

Olympic Influence

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The 2020 Olympic summer games are over but after having watched daily competitions for over two weeks, the residual influence is strong. Yesterday afternoon, I was cutting the grass beneath our fenceline using the power trimmer. Beneath ear-muff hearing protection that also has a metal mesh face shield, my world gets reduced to the ground immediately in front of me and little else.

While trimming away, there was a moment where I thought I might have heard an uncharacteristic sound. I took a quick glance over my shoulder to see if there was anyone in sight and was immediately reminded of Olympic marathoners doing the same turn of their heads as they tried to check the competition behind them.

In the split second of feeling a connection to the competing Olympic runners, I had a thought that power trimming could become one of the new sports they add in the future.

There could be categories separating light trimming around features in a front yard –similar to short distance races– and thick field grass trimming under a fence –similar to running a marathon.

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Performance can be timed or judged, or probably both.

Points taken off if you nick the fence post or leave uncut tufts around them. That would be like when divers make a splash as they enter the water.

Why stop with just power trimming? All the property management chores could become Olympic competitions. Kicking manure piles in the field can be rather sporting. Changing engine oil in a lawn tractor. Sharpening a chainsaw blade. Repairing a busted fence. Oh, pounding down frost-heaved fence posts would be a good one.

Might as well expand the focus to include a competition of commuting an hour to a day job. Fastest time without speeding more than 9MPH over posted speed limits takes the gold. Must be accident-free and can receive bonus points if no other drivers are made angry throughout the entire drive.

I’m sure televised broadcasts of the competitions would inspire kids to want to become farm chore professionals when they grow up.

I wish I could take this thought exercise of Olympic comparison all the way to the part where the hard work only lasts for two weeks and then there is a great big party with fireworks and drone-shaped patterns in the sky.

Lots of laughter and selfies, maybe a few hugs from strangers.

It’s a nice distraction from reality. My reality early yesterday morning involved a certain cat who apparently missed me over the weekend. Pequenita made a point of walking up my body to head-butt my face and knead my chest starting at 3:30 a.m. and repeated the exercise again at 4:30, 5:00, 5:30, & 6:00.

I foiled her annoying shenanigans this morning by getting out of bed at 4:30 to do my planking and stretching routine before work.

Come to think of it, maybe Pequenita just forgot that I now work from home on Mondays and she thought I needed to get up that early.

She probably thinks she’s in some cat Olympics, competing in the “Manage Your Human” event.

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Written by johnwhays

August 10, 2021 at 6:00 am

Whatever

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This afternoon I leave for my bike trip.

‘Nuff said.

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Written by johnwhays

June 18, 2021 at 6:00 am

Strong One

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We all have different strengths, don’t we? Yes. Yes, we do. But I am not sure about the comparison of muscle strength between my precious wife and me. This occurred to me yesterday after I got our lawn tractor stuck and needed to go get Cyndie to help.

Despite the more than three inches of rain that had fallen the previous 24-hours to thankfully soak our parched land, I was attempting to mow before things began to adequately dry. I was literally cutting between the trailing scattered showers.

Mow the front yard until rain started falling, park the mower in the garage.

Mow by the barn until it started raining again, park the mower back in the garage.

When I tried traversing the recently re-landscaped dip where Cyndie and I had rolled up the sod to dig out accumulated dirt, the tractor became hopelessly wedged in the muddy turf. I was stuck.

I was also in a hurry because a few drops were starting to fall again. I hiked around behind the barn, past the empty chicken coop, around the back pasture to the labyrinth where Cyndie was rearranging sunken stones and pulling weeds. She happily obliged my request for assistance.

Then, the woman who asks me to use my superior strength to open jars for her in the kitchen proceeds to pick up the back end of the tractor and move it over so my push from the front can roll it around the rocks bordering her perennial garden.

In my whiny sad voice, “Honey, can you come lift the tractor out of the mud for me so I can keep mowing in the rain?”

I know who the strong one is around here.

I’m pretty sure she lets me open jars just to prevent my ego from starving to death.

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Written by johnwhays

May 22, 2021 at 7:00 am

Typical Exchange

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This is a classic example of a typical exchange between Cyndie and me. To set the stage, it was business as usual around the house last night when I walked into the bathroom to brush my teeth while Cyndie stepped into the garage, focused on a task of her own.

Through the white noise of my activity and whatever self-talk was flowing around in my head, I thought I heard a shrill little distant shout. I paused for a second and my creative mind raced through possible scenarios, including the concern Cyndie was shouting in distress about something. The most likely conclusion I came up with was that she had probably sneezed.

As I finished dabbing toothpaste on the bristles of the brush, I heard the door to the garage open.

I said, “Did you sneeze?”

Cyndie replied, “What?”

“Did you sneeze?” I repeated.

When I heard her say, “Yes” I turned on my electric toothbrush.

Over the hum of the motor and with the sound vibrations of the rotating agitator polishing my teeth and resonating through my skull to the bones in my ears, I detected additional distant mumbling that could only have been Cyndie still talking.

I kept brushing. But I thought about the fact that she most likely would assume I heard every word she had said. I wondered to myself whether it warranted stopping my toothbrush to ask for a do-over on that added detail I had missed. Honestly, it probably involved descriptions about her sneeze or what triggered it, both of which I suspected weren’t critical for me to know.

In contemplating all this, I realized this sort of thing happens all the time between us. I tend to hear the first part of an answer, but the colorful addendums tend to get drowned out by whatever else is going on at the time.

If I don’t point out the fact I haven’t clearly heard anything beyond the initial speaking, there arises a falsehood of a common shared reality. Cyndie will assume a point has been communicated and I won’t have any idea that I’ve missed something that might have been significant.

The thing is, nine times out of ten it turns out to be a spur-of-the-moment colloquial expression of silliness or pleasantries. Both welcome enhancements when palling around with a companion, but neither very costly if not fully deciphered. At that, I must admit to being guilty more often than not of letting my ignorance go unnoticed.

A nod and an auditory “Mmm-hmmm” augment the facade of my feigned grasp.

I’m afraid if I were given a test about each day’s conversations, I might score embarrassingly low.

When I told Cyndie this story about not hearing anything beyond the fact she had, indeed, sneezed, she said the added comment was, “…and it was a Lollapalooza!” or something to that effect.

Mmm-hmm. Yes, dear.

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Written by johnwhays

May 21, 2021 at 6:00 am

Ten Tidbits

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• When publishing a list, always put a quantity in the title.

• If there is no story to tell, a list actually tells a story.

• Not every clementine in a bunch is as good as all the others.

• A degenerating disc doesn’t need an obvious activity to begin to bulge.

• When ordering day-old chicks online, you never know when you might end up with a rooster.

• If the industrialization of our planet creates exponential increases in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the weather will get weird.

• History is only as interesting as the interest one puts into it.

• It is really nice to be able to work outdoors when sanding wood sculptures.

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• The most amazing thing about video recordings of interesting events that have occurred is that someone thought to record it at the time.

• Unexpected audio suddenly blaring unexpectedly when the phone is set on silent is a very unwelcome jolt to the senses.

• It doesn’t really matter how many tidbits you include when putting a quantity in the title.

• The pandemic won’t end all at once with some specific point, but will gradually disappear over time.

• Lists of tidbits don’t share that same trait.

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Written by johnwhays

March 12, 2021 at 7:00 am

Forging Ahead

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The bite of persistent extreme cold weather continues to oppressively dominate life for us and our stoic chickens. There is little in the way of frivolous activity from the hens, beyond the brave layers who make extra trips between the nest boxes in the coop and the nook under the barn overhang where they have been spending the rest of the daylight hours.

Surprisingly, this cold snap does not appear to be stifling the continued development of the maturing hens into the egg-laying phase of their lives. Yesterday, we were gifted with six eggs, the most in one day so far from this brood. Unsurprisingly, not all of the eggs were found before freezing to the point of cracking.

Not all of the eggs were laid in one of the nest boxes, but at least four of the layers chose the same box.

As of yesterday, we hadn’t yet made the transition to using egg cartons when collecting eggs. When it is only one or two eggs, both Cyndie and I tend to slip them into pockets for the trip back up to the house. Once we start finding a half-dozen or more at one time, our stash of old egg cartons definitely comes into play.

As Cyndie multitasked yesterday to walk Delilah, collect the emptied trash and recycling bins, and collect eggs from the coop, she was suddenly met with —

SQUIRREL!!!

With Delilah’s leash quick-clipped to the handle of one of the bins and Cyndie’s grip on each of the two bins, eggs in her jacket pocket, our alerted canine unexpectedly bolted 90° sideways over the snow piled along the edge of the driveway.

The jolt on the leash yanked so powerfully it pulled both the bins and Cyndie into the bank of snow where she toppled over and unceremoniously landed headfirst in the snow, resulting in one broken egg in her pocket.

She made her way back to upright and got Delilah under control and forged ahead for the warmth of the house.

Today is even colder than yesterday and tomorrow is due to be colder than today.

We’ll just keep on keeping on, uncertain of what frigid adventure might result next.

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Written by johnwhays

February 13, 2021 at 11:06 am

Humorless Grind

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Here’s the thing. Given a choice between being serious or having a laugh, I choose the laugh every time. Unfortunately, a year into a deadly pandemic, I’m finding it harder and harder to encounter the amount of funny that I prefer in a typical day.

I suppose part of it is a natural result of Cyndie and me shutting ourselves in at home weekend after weekend. Laughing at ourselves gets a little old after a while when that’s the only humor we are finding. I should probably scour our bookshelves for something written by Dave Barry or my anthologies of Berkeley Breathed’s “Bloom County” comics.

Despite some people’s best efforts, jokes about facemasks or social distancing don’t quite satisfy. Any humor about the good old days “BP” (Before Pandemic) just tend to make me sad.

We were watching a movie over the weekend that included a scene in which someone made a wish and blew out the candles on their birthday cake and it made us cringe and yell at the screen to tell them to throw away the cake.

I got a little chuckle last night when Cyndie set down an open soft-cover book with the pages down and Pequenita became obsessed with pawing at the glossy cover like she was trying to move all of her kitty-litter completely out of the box.

Even when we find something funny and surprise ourselves by laughing to tears over it when it didn’t really deserve that extreme, the pall of pandemic misery is still stuck on everything like an oily film.

Making it through a full year of pandemic restrictions should be its own reward and the “light at the end of the tunnel” vaccine distribution is supposed to be fueling hope, but the stark reality of many months more of it all still ahead of us is quick to extinguish the best of laughs.

You’d think I might appreciate getting tickled by my face mask, but it just triggers sneezing and then I get the sniffles.

I don’t find sniffling to be very funny.

I’m pretty sure I know what’s really bugging me. My friends make me laugh and socializing has long been discouraged. Wisecracking banter loses all its charm through the clumsy video-chat apps. Makes me just want to put on my best mittens, cross my arms and legs, and slouch back curmudgeonly in my chair, I tell ya.

News reports are announcing that SNL is returning from their holiday hiatus this coming weekend with the first new show of 2021 being hosted by John Krasinski. Something to look forward to.

All I have to do is survive the humorless grind of reported new cases and more deaths for another five days.

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Written by johnwhays

January 26, 2021 at 7:00 am

Not Thinking

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Some people use meditation to clear their minds. Shut out the thoughts. What fun, I thought, …without thinking.

There is a trick that writers can use to stop all thoughts. Here’s how it works. First, sit down at the keyboard. Well, that’s about it. That’s all it takes.

BOOM! The mind is blank.

It’s like magic.

But that didn’t happen to me today. Nope.

Okay, it did. But I got over it. The day is dawning with a zero degree (F) chill, but otherwise quiet. We don’t have a lot going on today, beyond the wonderfully entertaining chicken jigsaw puzzle and keeping a cozy fire burning in the fireplace. Tomorrow we expect it to start snowing and Sunday I plan to shovel and plow.

I saw a news item about conspiracy theorists (paranoid delusionists) seeing “signs” in a variety of ways and places and it has me thinking two things. Part of me laughs over how many signs could be found everywhere we look and a more mischievous part of me wants to start putting out some secret signs of my own for people to discover.

Not sure what I could point them to. Love, I suppose. Maybe I could start a conspiracy that everything is about love and there are signs supporting it everywhere! You just have to look for them.

Think about it.

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Written by johnwhays

January 22, 2021 at 7:00 am

Happy Chickens

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Our newest chickens are now about four and a half months old and have reached a size that has the two remaining hens from the previous batch mixing with them as equals. As a group, they are behaving as the happiest and friendliest of yard pets. Almost too friendly, in fact. They are showing no hesitation about racing up to us when we are walking Delilah, who would not hesitate for one second to grab a mouthful of feathers.

On an afternoon walk after our Thanksgiving feast, Cyndie made me stop to occupy the chickens while she hustled ahead with the dog.

She paused to look back and see me chicken-whispering to thank them for agreeing to wear face masks for my little photoshoot the day before.

They had been very accommodating, lining up politely for their fitting.

This morning, there was a new level of excitement because Rocky found his voice again and was crowing many times in a row after weeks of silence following his initial experiments.

Rocky’s coloring and sheen are launching him far beyond the splendor of his brood of adoring pullets.

We continue to visualize his protective spirit as one that will include us and any people visiting as non-threats. He could be our ultimate test of the power of our chicken-whispering abilities.

For now, we are thoroughly enjoying the present state of bliss caring for our growing chickens. They seem totally happy, which is making us even happier.

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Written by johnwhays

November 28, 2020 at 9:55 am

Flashing Back

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I was looking for an image last night and found myself exploring a folder of photos from five years ago this month. Brings back memories.

My, those horses kept that pasture well-manicured.

It is interesting how we adjust our lives to the changing circumstances swirling around us in each given moment or situation. I’ve already forgotten the daily routine of caring for our horses. It’s been 20 months since we returned them to their previous home and herds. They are dearly missed, but I certainly appreciated the freedom from managing concerns about hay and wild weather and daily manure scooping under the overhang.

We still nurture dreams of finding a way to make our pastures available to nearby rescue organizations during summer months in the future.

There is a big void here without the presence of horse energy vibrations.

Now we allow the chickens a greater amount of our attention and this year of 2020, with its protests, pandemics, and politics, combined with the final months of Cyndie’s dad’s life, have commanded a bulk of our limited mental resources.

It’s invigorating to think back to better times and remember how different life was only a half-decade ago.

With the pandemic spreading unchecked we are in for a strange couple of holidays this season. Home alone is taking on a whole new meaning.

I think I’ll be diving into multiple flashbacks of Thanksgivings and Christmases throughout my life in order to distract from how odd this year has turned out.

Do you wonder if all the U.S. Thanksgiving Day Zoom gatherings will bog down the internet next week? If ever there was a time to have “smell-o-vision” built into the app, the aroma of the turkey feasts wafting from kitchens around the country would be a particularly valuable addition to the virtual family visits.

Trust me, if I could share the incredible smells when Cyndie bakes my mom’s sweet bread bun recipe (Gramma Betty’s Buns), I certainly would. It’s too much for one man to consume. I’ll be on aroma overload.

Come to think of it, that just might be a way to overwhelm the coronavirus. I need to contact the vaccine research people and let ’em know I may have stumbled on to a solution that doesn’t require insanely cold freezers during distribution and storage.

With Cyndie’s tendency to bake enough for millions, we could be looking at a way out of this “stay at home” protocol much sooner than currently predicted. Although, one side effect to note, I think I gain weight by simply breathing in the scrumptious smell of these fresh-baked morsels of goodness.

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Written by johnwhays

November 19, 2020 at 7:00 am