Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘humor

Don’t Try

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We’ve been going about it all wrong. I’ve figured out a new way to grow grass. Simply don’t try.

It’s along the same lines as reverse psychology. It seems totally unlikely, but trust me. It works.

Here’s how you can do it:

Get a bunch of bales of grass hay. Four or five hundred worked well for us. Move them from one place to another, and then sweep all the leftover debris onto a hard gravel surface.

Next, drive back and forth across that surface over and over. Also, relentlessly bake that spot in the afternoon sun.

Never water it beyond what happens to fall from the sky as rain.

It doesn’t hurt to repeatedly process thoughts about not wanting grass to grow in the gravel area. You might even order a second load of rocky class-5 gravel to spread over the area. It’s what we did, and look at the results we got:

That grass is growing in the driveway where we don’t want it, many times better than it grows in areas where we actually want lawn grass. In addition, it is all grass. No weeds. In the lawn, many spots have more weeds and other odd ground cover growing than we have grass.

But not on the driveway. Noooooo. Just wonderful blades of grass there.

It’s not even simply a matter of not trying; we have actively sought to discourage grass from growing there, but to no avail.

I really don’t like mowing our gravel sections of driveway.

Unfortunately, I can’t avoid it. The grass grows too well there.



Written by johnwhays

May 25, 2018 at 6:00 am

Idle Distraction

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Some days I would like to ignore everything that I really should be doing and focus unlimited hours of idle attention on a familiar jigsaw puzzle, regardless how gorgeous the weather outside might be, how many home projects are screaming for attention, or all the work responsibilities to which I am duly committed.

I am a master of idle distraction, however, I rarely allow myself to revel in idle passions to a fraction of a degree worthy of being considered mastery. Maybe I should instead state it as being a dreamer of idle distraction.

It would be fair to say that a Monday morning in front of my desk at the day-job, with multiple issues simultaneously calling for immediate attention, happens to be a time when my urge for idleness can be greatest.

In a similar vein to Lewis Carroll’s “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get,” I am more inclined toward “The more I have to do, the less I get done.”

I don’t know whether it would surprise you to read how often this plays out when I would like to compose a daily blog post. The greater my yearning to have a post written and proofed, the more idle my brain seems to get.

One good thing about distraction of an empty brain, it allows plenty of room for imagining creative somethings from nothing. Except, sometimes, nothing is all that comes. It’s distracting.

Seriously. You can’t make this stuff up.

Well, that’s not true. You can make it up, but what good would that do?

I suppose it could serve, in a circular sort of way, as something of an idle distraction, no?

Don’t mind me. I’m just distracted by having too much on my mind that should be getting my constructive attention all at once. And doing nothing.

Maybe I missed my calling as a congressman or senator.



Hearty Impression

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What might the message be from this tree with an old wound that it is growing around in the shape of a heart?

I don’t know, but I’d like to think it is something heartwarming.

When we were cleaning out the landscaping around the back side of the house over the weekend, I discovered that a tie holding a maple sapling to a support stake was too tight and had begun constricting the tree’s growth. What a sorry sight to stumble upon; an occasion where my efforts to help a tree had ended up hurting it.

Trees seem to grow slowly, in general, but at the same time, there is a dramatic amount of activity happening in relatively short time spans. I think the trunk of that sapling has doubled in size since it was tied. I would have liked to see a time-lapse of that progress.

Just a week ago we were digging out from beneath a huge snow storm, and yesterday, on my drive home from work, I could already see the tops of tree clusters developing a green tinge from sprouting new buds. It warms my heart to know the leaves will soon be making an appearance.

Ever wonder how many leaves grow on the branches of mature trees? There are a lot of variables, but an oft-repeated average seen in the results of a Google search is around 200,000. That number makes my heart flutter like the quaking leaves of our poplar trees.

At the extension class we took last month to learn tricks of identifying trees, (did I already write about this?) we found out the thing that makes some leaves oscillate in the wind is the square shape of the leaf stem. It isn’t round, it has four flat sides.

Fun facts for people who love trees. Hopefully, that includes everyone. How could anyone with a heart, not love a tree?



Written by johnwhays

April 24, 2018 at 6:00 am

One Second

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What is the shortest memory span possible? If I am remembering this right, I think I may have just experienced it.

Honestly, I forgot something one second after it happened. How is that even possible? Multitasking, I guess. I’m embarrassed to admit that I don’t remember exactly what may have distracted me while I was putting wood on the fire Saturday morning.

Two logs. That’s as complicated as this task was. I opened the fireplace doors and tossed the first one on the remnants of glowing coals. On contact, a red-hot ember popped out and landed right in front of me on the stone hearth.

Without hesitation, I chose to place the second piece of wood before sweeping up the errant ember.

I leaned forward to place the second half-log on top of the first, balancing myself against the heft by reaching out and pressing my hand firmly onto the hearth.

The searing pain of the glowing ember stabbed through my finger as my mind instantly realized what I had just done.

One second earlier, I had watch the hazard appear. In the time it took for me to switch to thinking about placing the next piece of wood, I forgot about the ember? Seriously? Is that even possible?

It’s embarrassing. Luckily, it is also a little funny, albeit painful. So, I’m laughing over the insanity of it, and sharing it for your amusement, too.

If ever there was a “D’oh” moment, this was one.

I have no idea how I succeeded in getting burned in two places on that finger, as the ember was about the size of a single blister. Somehow my reflex reaction, after I was able to shift my weight back off that hand, must have caused a double contact.

The involuntary curse that erupted was equally a result of the pain, as it was over my having noted, and then forgotten, the ember in such a ridiculously short span of time.

Color me easily distracted.



Written by johnwhays

April 16, 2018 at 6:00 am

How About

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I’m taking a little evil pleasure in Cyndie’s report that she spotted a lot of fox tracks along the southern trail yesterday, because I know there are no longer any easy pickings to be had here.

Driving home past the neighbor’s farm, I took particular interest in how many of their chickens were wandering about in the thoroughly exposed wide open. I will be completely befuddled if the fox visiting us from the woods between our land and that neighbor’s has been ignoring their flock.

Hoping we get a chance to chat with them about it soon.

Meanwhile, I’ve been playing around with ideas on how we might proceed with our next twelve birds in light of the recent carnivorous outburst by the wild little member of the dog family. How about we domesticate the fox like we do dogs?

Allow me to stretch the boundaries of logic…

Here’s how it could go:

  • We trap the fox and attach a shock collar. We still don’t know if it’s a male or female. Since pups are born needing total care from the momma, it’s the father that hunts for the kits when they are young. Our visitor could be either.
  • We place customized high technology chips into each chicken, programmed to trigger the shock collar within 20 feet proximity.
  • Then we sit back and watch the perfect solution play out.

If foxes are so intelligent, it shouldn’t take long at all for this one to learn that our chickens are now off the menu.

It could even become a money-maker for us. We could offer to “chip” our neighbor’s chickens, too, for a small handling fee.

Maybe, as long as we’re stretching reality here, we could also have the collar release a scent of moles, voles, and rabbits after the fox leaves the chickens alone, to entice it toward a more preferred hunting focus.

In a world where we are moving toward driverless cars, smart speakers that control home life, and robots with unknowable artificial intelligence potential, my simple chicken protection/fox control idea seems downright quaint.

How about that?



Written by johnwhays

April 10, 2018 at 6:00 am

Describe Feeling

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The winter Olympic Games are underway again. Skaters and skiers, sledders, curlers, and boarders will be competing for that pinnacle moment when a broadcast journalist points a microphone at their face in search of the next version of what it feels like to win.

Before we even get to that, during last night’s US taped broadcast of the opening ceremony, NBC provided appetizers in the form of athletes trying to describe their feelings before stepping into the stadium for the parade of nations.

I love watching athletic competition. Seeing people struggle for words to describe how they feel isn’t as entertaining for me.

Sometimes I wonder more about the broadcast journalist who is popping the question. Think of the effort they put in to reach the subject of greatest interest, battling camera-yielding athletes in their own right who are jostling for position with all the other microphone-holding reporters eager to ask.

What must the journalists be feeling at the moment they try to concisely summarize what just happened for the athlete, setting up the big question? How did the journalist train for this? How long have they wanted to be the person to ask an athlete how it feels in the seconds after victory? What is the journalist feeling right after they hear the answer and offer a closing tidbit to send the broadcast back to the booth?

The NFL Super Bowl just happened in the Twin Cities, and of course, the de rigueur post game athlete interviews were right on schedule. With team sports, the journalists have multiple chances to mine for that elusive articulation of the winning feeling.

While that was happening, the fans in the stands were breaking the seats.

I want to hear the vandal-fans put their feelings into words.

“Your team just won the championship and you are destroying property. Describe how it feels to break things when you are this happy.”

Last night, I would have been happy to watch the struggle for feeling-descriptors from the person who was piloting the world-record 1,218 Shooting Star drones that were electronically added to the ceremony. It doesn’t matter that they weren’t able to do it live during the cold and windy opening event, the feelings were probably still awesome.

Amazing. Probably hard to put into words. Unbelievable.

The biggest question in life isn’t, “Will you marry me?” More important than that is, “How does it feel?”

Maybe there should be college courses where athletes can enhance their perception of what winning feels like and hone the art of assembling mere words to convey the ethereal essence of unspeakable emotions.

Competitions could be created where the interview to describe how winning feels is the event.

Imagine trying to describe what it would feel like to win that medal.

Enjoy the PyeongChang winter games and winning athlete interviews.

I will. It will be amazing.



Written by johnwhays

February 10, 2018 at 9:50 am

Just Reward

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I don’t know how many times I have good-naturedly poked fun at Cyndie when her glasses somehow make their way to the floor beneath the bedside table in the dark of night.

Since she can’t see anything without her glasses, she asks me for help.

I just can’t restrain myself. I always end up asking why she puts her glasses down there in the first place. If she can’t see them and she can’t reach them, that seems like a really illogical place for her to put her critical specs.

Cyndie never thinks that’s as funny as I do.

Well, until last night.

While she has had glasses for most of her life, I breezed along for almost fifty years before finally joining the club. I’m still struggling with the routine of keeping track of my growing variety of readers. 

As I stood up from the bed and turned to set my glasses on the bedside table, they slid. My cat-like reaction triggered the reach reflex, but I missed. Instead, I succeeded in pushing them further off the surface, where they were able to tumble down to a spot on the floor that requires an extra joint between the wrist and elbow to reach.

Cyndie was way too mature to ask me why I put them down there in the first place.

Unfortunately, something tells me this serving of humble pie won’t successfully dissuade me from blurting out the same dang question to my love, next time she needs me to rescue her glasses again.

I may be getting older, but it doesn’t guarantee I’m maturing.



Written by johnwhays

December 13, 2017 at 7:00 am