Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘labyrinth

Delilah Helping

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While Cyndie and I were playing around with building more robust stone borders in the labyrinth over the weekend, we enjoyed some special company from Delilah. Even though she couldn’t pick up any of the rocks, she made a very notable point of being as present as possible in a clear gesture of moral support.

Normally, when we secure her leash somewhere while we are focused on a project, she sets off exploring every distance she can reach, seeking out any potential burrs she can collect in her thick coat or digging ferociously after some tunneling rodent in pursuit of entirely selfish entertainment.

On Labor Day Monday, she came over as close to “in my way” as possible, at the farthest reach of the leash that strained against her harness, and laid down to “supervise” my work. It was such uncharacteristic behavior, I paused to take a picture of her.

I didn’t realize at the time that I was also going to capture Cyndie in the background setting down a rock the size of the soccer ball with such little apparent effort that it looked to be as light as a soccer ball, too.

I assure you, none of the rocks that size were light. My back and legs second that assurance. We moved some heavy stones over the weekend.

We worked so hard, I think we tired out Delilah.

A short time later, I noticed she had laid her head down, using a rock for a pillow, and closed her eyes for a little nap, still at the far reach of her leash.

I think she was telling us the labyrinth is a very comfortable place to be.

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Written by johnwhays

September 9, 2020 at 6:00 am

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Heavy Lifting

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For our Labor Day holiday three-day weekend during this pandemic, we have chosen to stay home but we wanted to spend some time together working on a project that was as much fun as it was a productive accomplishment. With no negotiation required, we both felt an equal desire to put some focus on collecting more rocks for our labyrinth.

There are several very old stockpiles of rocks in our woods from past farmers clearing their fields that we periodically mine for ideal specimens. It is difficult work because the adjacent wooded acres have expanded to swallow the piles and years of accumulating sediment have buried all but just the top portion of some wonderful rocks that need to be excavated.

Since the extra effort it takes to get rocks from these locations tends to limit progress at any given time, we expanded our range yesterday to piles on the edge of our neighbor’s property so we could make a bigger impact on the labyrinth enhancement. It paid off handsomely.

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It was quickly apparent how much the previous rocks defining the labyrinth path have settled into the earth, some almost disappearing from sight.

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I don’t know why I would choose to wear a white shirt to wrestle rocks all day long. That’s an image of a guy who hugs dirty rocks.

By the end of the day yesterday, we were physically exhausted but emotionally energized to see a least two rows improved one step closer to the vision we share of how we’d like the borders to look someday. It will continue to be an ongoing project that advances in fits and starts.

Like building a jigsaw puzzle, the urge to make progress arises in proportion to the progress recently made. This morning, all I want to do is go back down there and add more rocks.

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Written by johnwhays

September 6, 2020 at 9:57 am

Small Projects

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The weekend just passed consisted of many small tasks chipped off the ol’ to-do list, primarily addressing the first-impression appearance of the place. After getting the grass mowed and the landscape pond fixed my attention shifted to whatever miscellaneous project caught my eye, particularly if they had been staring me in the face for more than a year.

I finally got up on the roof to address the wind vane that came apart so long ago I’ve forgotten when. I ended up removing the base entirely to see if repairs on the ground are possible. I may, or may not, put it back up someday.

The kids stopped by on Saturday and Julian helped me quickly dispatch a dead pine tree located right in front of the approach to the house garage doors. Yesterday, I pulled out the chainsaw again and removed dead limbs from the next tree over, some version of a flowering decorative. I think that one is a form of lilac, but seems to have climbed to heights that exceed my perceptions of lilac.

While the chainsaw was out, I hoofed my way down to the woods behind the labyrinth to cut up a dead tree that fell across one of our small side trails. At the labyrinth, I removed the stakes that secured the transplanted maple now that it seems to have established itself. There, I discovered the deer have been feasting on the hostas by the peace pole.

I hope they had a very peaceful meal there while the angel’s back was turned.

The driveway got some attention in the form of lime screenings packed into a low dip that was becoming quite a bump in the road. The last time a UPS truck delivered a package, I heard everything bounce in his truck when passing over that spot a little too quickly.

Julian and I started removing anything attached to the side of the house in preparation for a resealing of the logs that will hopefully happen sooner than later. We have enlisted the services of professionals and they have teased us that we are next in line when they finish the current customer.

That’s another one of those weather-dependent projects that end up being hard to plan start and finish dates.

That brings to mind the hay fields. Things are growing so fast right now that our fields look ripe for the mowing. I don’t know what the farmer who is renting our fields this summer is planning, but I hope he is able to get enough dry days in a row to be successful this year.

The only thing I didn’t get to before time ran out last night was in fulfilling Cyndie’s wish to get the hammocks up.

That’s a good task to look forward to for starting my next spurt of knocking off small projects, whenever that moment comes.

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Written by johnwhays

June 8, 2020 at 6:00 am

Ground Moves

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The snow melting continued with full momentum yesterday, exposing a lot more ground than the day before. We walked the property to survey the progress up close and witnessed more evidence of how much the ground moves this time of year.

The free-standing angel statue is once again a “lying-prone” angel. Poor thing takes a lot of abuse left on its own to deal with the elements. It’s not really alone in that predicament, though, as the peace pole beside it that is only anchored by an 8-inch stake will also tip over as soon as the frozen dirt around it melts enough to let the slightest breeze put pressure on any side.

Happens every year.

One thing that hasn’t happened until now is the arrival of an aggressive digging gopher within the confines of the labyrinth, but we can now add that to the ongoing saga of nuisances.

There were three or four additional locations of similar soil disruption messing up almost a quarter of the circuitous paths. I’m not looking forward to the struggle to redirect that beast’s attention elsewhere this summer.

When we reached the paddocks, I discovered it is very easy to see the distance two of the posts have been pushed up by the freezing and thawing of the ground. The telltale stain at the base is a clear gauge of how far they have come up in the last few days. There is an additional faded line that is a record of a previous, or possibly the original depth to which the posts were set.

We are just a week into March, so I am readying myself for a few more rounds of freezing and thawing cycles and probably one or a few snow accumulations before this kind of havoc changes to thunderstorms and tornado threats that will be grabbing our attention. It’s always something, you know.

Luckily, between all that calamity we will enjoy some glorious weather, too.

We’ve never been denied interludes of luxuriously blissful weather days, but have you ever noticed how the nice weather never ends up being as earth-shaking and attention-getting as the troublesome days?

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Written by johnwhays

March 9, 2020 at 6:00 am

To Hibbing

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It was a beautifully sunny day out of Gilbert. Rich captured this shot of Steve leading Laura and me on a particularly bumpy section of the Mesabi trail.

I took a picture of Steve and Rich later on.

No complaints about the weather yesterday. It was picture perfect. Tents packed dry in the morning, no significant wind, and lots of sunshine.

In Hibbing, we camped at the historic high school. I took a picture of the Steinway piano that Bob was banging on like Little Richard when he was yanked off the stage.

There is also a display case dedicated to the troubadour.

They seem rather fond of Dylan around these parts.

On the walk back to camp after dinner, we came upon a property with a labyrinth.

Today, we ride back to our cars in Grand Rapids. It begins the odd struggle of returning to real life again.

Bittersweet to reach the start again

Don’t want to stop, can’t wait to get home

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Written by johnwhays

June 21, 2019 at 6:00 am

Gettin’ Green

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With a little rearranging in the garage, I moved the ATV and snowplow to the back and brought the lawn tractor to the front. It’s a definitive sign of the change of season. I also got the back yard mowed, which brought out a whole lot of green in our landscape.

Probably in large part, because it chewed up the leaves from last fall that were still covering the bulk of the back hill, because we never got around to raking them before the snow arrived.

From there, we headed down to the labyrinth, where Cyndie pulled weeds and I reassembled the fallen blocks around our compost and wood chip locations.

Now, we need to replenish the wood chips, and there are plenty of branches waiting to be chipped. A short distance to the right from the view in that photo, there was a collection of branches from two years ago, when we hired professionals to trim dead wood from our trees.

It was a big reward to finally start pulling the debris out, because every time I have passed those trees since the day it was cut, I’ve wanted to have the job done.

I probably got through about half of what needs to be pulled out and stacked for processing, but it’s a good start.

I look forward to transforming that pile of branches into a filled wood chip station, which Cyndie can then use to dress up the landscape around her labyrinth plants.

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Written by johnwhays

May 6, 2019 at 6:00 am

Reclaiming Peace

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The days following a disruptive weather event can be a confusing mix, emotionally. The threat has lifted and calm ensues, but the anxiety adrenaline hangover lingers. We are lucky to have dodged any significant damage or loss of power, but the multiple inches of dirty snow/slush, speckled with innumerable broken branches, delay the feeling of relief we seek.

Thank goodness for our hills and valleys that break up the wind around here.

The open terrain to the west didn’t protect the overexposed, iced up power poles lining roadways.

We don’t have anything near that level of clean up facing us. That must have been a real shocker to come upon.

Some of the local hunters stopped by for permission to cross our property with their dogs in search of coyotes. A short time later, gunshots rang out.

I had watched as the group of hounds calmly traveled out of the neighboring corn field and into the woods, with a single hunter walking behind them. After they disappeared into the ravine beyond our property, we never saw another glimpse of them.

One of these days, I’m going to ask if I can tag along. It occurred to me yesterday, that in all our years here, I have never actually seen a coyote. I’m curious about the logistics of how they finally get proximity to shoot, and then how they find their way out of the woods while carrying their kill.

In less than three weeks, our annual participation in the World Labyrinth Day peace walk will be upon us. We are finding it difficult to envision how we might be ready.

It’s not just the peace pole that can’t stand up in the soft earth. The stones balanced at each turn spend more time toppled that upright with all the freezing and thawing going on.

Our exercise may just be to claim our peace with accepting things just as they are.

Windy, calm; wet, or dry.

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Written by johnwhays

April 14, 2019 at 9:37 am

Doors Open

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Despite the strong spring wind roaring around outside yesterday afternoon, we opened both doors to the deck to let a few hours of fresh air into the house. Our weather finally switched from gray skies to blue, and the glory of spring and its infinite possibilities was radiating with vivid pizzazz.

Not to be a Debbie-Downer or anything, but… Cyndie walked down to visit the labyrinth and found this:

The multiple-language peace pole was toppled over. Cyndie’s winged angel statue was face down with a broken nose. In the distance, my “third rock” lay on the ground beside the boulders that previously cradled it.

I’m developing a grudge over the good old month of April. In my opinion, we should just trash the sweet saying, “April showers bring May flowers.”

I suggest something more up-to-date, like, “April is [@bleepin’#] Crazy!!

As pleasing as the afternoon was yesterday, it is mind-boggling to accept the warnings coming from our National Weather Service of insane amounts of snow that will begin tomorrow night and last through Friday. One to two feet possible!?

April blizzards bring pleas of insanity.”

Sometimes i get so frantic, sometimes i’m schizophrenic

Plead Insanity | Wookiefoot; from Domesticated – The Story of Nothing and the Monkey, released September 12, 2000 © all rights reserved

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The squirrels seem to have kicked into overdrive on harvesting leftover corn cobs from the surrounding fields and bringing them onto our property.

I don’t understand their apparent fascination with plucking every last kernel off the cob and then leaving them lay where they fall. Maybe it’s like the human fascination with popping bubble wrap.

This is that weird field-corn that has a texture like hard plastic. It seems like it might rival the McDonald’s french fries for never, ever showing signs of decay, no matter how much time has passed since it fell under a seat in the car.

I’m wondering if the squirrels just keep trying to bite into each kernel, but drop it and move on to the next, hoping beyond hope that the next one might be like the corn their elders tell stories of eating when they were young.

Sound insane? It’s April, I tell ya!

They could be eating acorns, because there’s still plenty of those around from last fall. Although, now that I mention it, I suppose acorns could start to lose their appeal after endless months of nothing but.

April weather is like eating old, wet leather.”

It might be about to blizzard in April again, but we’ll re-open the doors soon enough. May is just a few blinks away, after all.

April isn’t all bad, it eventually ends.”

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Written by johnwhays

April 9, 2019 at 6:00 am

Couple Updates

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Do you remember the triumphant moment back in September of 2017, when Cyndie’s brothers and cousins helped me place a heavy stone atop the two boulders in the center of our labyrinth? Elysa captured the accomplishment in pictures.

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Those were the good old days. Jump ahead to today and I can report that the freeze/thaw cycle of the earth offered its own opinion of my design. 

It appears that gravity prefers the third rock be in closer communion with the ground. Looks like I need to get the band back together for another session of heavy lifting. Although, I’m not sure that it wouldn’t just produce the same outcome twelve months hence.

The ground around here moves like the surface of the sea, just at a much slower frequency.

The other update I have to offer this morning is more rewarding. One day after relocating our horses, Cyndie received this report from Mercedes:

“The two groups got a little more social by end of day yesterday, everybody drinking out of the water trough and at full run whinnying for Fernando’s feed times 🙂

Dezirea and Max are super bonded today, and Max has sort of left Cayenne to herself now. I rechecked Dez both this morning and afternoon and legs looking good – no more swelling and cuts scanned over so I think we are in the clear, just some ointment now to keep moisturized so don’t crack and for hair regrowth 🙂 All three have been really friendly – I can tell they are used to treats and love 🙂

Today Apache whinnying to communicate with Cayenne and Hunter, and they are staying much closer to the group. So all in all really smooth transition”

We couldn’t be happier about this news. I’m feeling a strong desire to visit them soon to see for myself, but knowing how well they are doing provides great comfort for the sorrowful pangs we are experiencing by the void of their absence.

Already, we are taking advantage of the reduction in responsibility at home, as Cyndie is flying to Florida tomorrow to spend time with her parents. We cleaned up after the horses in the barn yesterday and teased each other that we might actually miss that chore. If we do, it will be because cleaning up after them is an honor when you have them as companions. In and of itself, scooping up manure holds no allure.

I rearranged leftover hay bales and did a final count in the hay shed yesterday. We’ll check with local folks we know who might have interest, and if they don’t want it, post it to the online neighborhood group for all to see.

Bittersweet steps of furthering this transition, made so much easier by knowing the horses are happy, back with their friends, and under the best of care.

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Written by johnwhays

March 30, 2019 at 9:00 am

More Snow

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Believe it or not, we spent most of the day yesterday clearing snow!

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Remember the Martin house? Before and after…

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Cyndie likes to shovel a path to the chicken coop so the hens have an easy path to get to their favorite spot under the overhang with the horses. They are spoiled living such a cushy life here with us.

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The day started with snow showers, but around noon the clouds moved out and provided an afternoon of melting under bright sunlight. The snow on the hay shed was losing the battle to gravity, in very slow motion. The snow on the chicken coop was losing the battle with the high March sunshine.

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Here is a before and after view of the labyrinth. We’re going to need to strap on the snowshoes and retrace our steps again.

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Written by johnwhays

March 11, 2019 at 6:00 am