Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘labyrinth

Readjustment Required

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Four days away was enough to cause a bit of anxiety for Asher upon our return. He seemed happy to see us but he also showed signs of being less confident in himself upon readjusting to the differences in our routine as compared to the sitter’s. I’m guessing Mom and Dad are a little more strict about how things should go and Asher wasn’t quite ready for a return to that.

Tuesday night he spent more time whining in his crate than he did sleeping. Unfortunately, that meant Cyndie and I didn’t get the sleep we wanted, either. Asher rallied yesterday and showed his best self during a visit to the veterinarian for a checkup and some shots. The after-effects lasted a few hours during which he laid low and napped but then all of a sudden he was back to his old self and playing with his usual vigor.

I wish I recovered that quickly when I got my last shots.

The pup officially weighed in at 70 pounds. I’ll take that. It’s ten lbs. less than the unofficial weight we’d been given by the foster mom.

I’m curious to see how he does today in session three of our obedience training class. We are expecting the barriers between dogs to be pulled back which will mean many more distractions during the lessons.

When we got home from the lake on Tuesday, the labyrinth was first on the list for mowing.

The prolonged dry spell hasn’t slowed growth everywhere, particularly in our poison ivy patches. Some areas of lawn grass are turning brown but most others are just growing with less robust energy. Yesterday, I focused on mowing just the areas that grew the most.

I need to readjust to this sudden onset of hot summer weather. It’s the first day of June and we are getting mid-July heat and humidity. It has me wondering what it will be like when we get to July.

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Written by johnwhays

June 1, 2023 at 6:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Counting Candles

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No, I didn’t actually count them. I did ask one of the staff how many candles and their response was, “A lot!” Last night we met our friends Barb and Mike for dinner at the self-proclaimed “hip, urban venue” Cafe Lurcat next to Loring Park in Minneapolis and then moved to the spectacle in a spectacle of a candlelight concert by a string quartet in St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral.

It looked as fascinating with the lights on as it did with them off, although the warm glow was a better setting for the performance of string quartet music from Bach to The Beatles. It almost felt like I was getting some high culture, except for the welcome casualness of the hostess and performers combined with tunes I actually grew up listening to.

It was nothing short of supremely cool. I am in awe of the musician’s abilities and really grateful that people rally to put on shows like this. Really, that’s a lot of candles.

No candles for us today. World Labyrinth Day has arrived and we’ve got lots of last-minute preparation to finish. Our landscape is soaking wet after multiple dousings yesterday, but if the next round of passing showers could hold off until after 3:00, that would be just great.

Let the wave of peace pass over the world uninterrupted! It’s already rolling along…

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Yes Mow

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While I firmly agree with the philosophy of “No Mow May,” for our labyrinth, yesterday was Yes-Mow-April. Even though there was one area that remained surprisingly saturated to the point of being ill-advised, the rest was good and held up well to the inaugural cut of the season.

This is the first time we have been in a position where we could get ahead of the growth before it got out of control and that feels wonderful. The labyrinth is looking the best it has ever looked at this time of year and is just lacking the growth of new shoots and fresh leaves on all the plants to reach its most impressive appearance.

As long as I was doing some mowing, I couldn’t help pulling out my newest addition to our battery-powered landscape management tools, the zero-turn mower. I had already driven the mower around enough to realize it would take me some time to master the nuances of operating the independent drive wheels by separate levers but I had yet to actually cut any grass with it.

I should probably make a sign for the mower that says, “Student Driver.”

Navigation in close quarters, say, along the wall of the barn or beside a fence, is fraught with uncertainty. My hasty reactions to correct my heading tends to be wrong, leading to hapless attempts to counter the mistake with overcorrections that exacerbate the misdirection. Holding anything close to a straight path is a worthy victory for me. It will take time to figure out how the 360┬░ rotation of the front wheels ends up contributing to my difficulty in maneuvering.

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There are some new skid marks in the turf where I struggled to turn around on a slope where the earth beneath the grass was soft and wet. That’s a cost I must bear for being too eager to cut before the ground is truly dry. This year I just seem uncharacteristically eager to get the first mowing done before the grass gets overly tall.

Future occasions will only get better as I gain experience and the ground becomes more firm. At the rate this spring weather is struggling to pull away from winter, firmer ground may not happen for many weeks. I may rely on the trusty push mower to do much of the cutting while the soil beneath the turf remains more like Jello® than normal dirt.

Or, I could simply adhere to the directives of “No Mow May.”

Naaaaah.

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Written by johnwhays

April 26, 2023 at 6:00 am

Peaceful Meditations

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I had plenty of time to meditate on the gratefulness for a warm bed during a fever yesterday, and the luxury of having Cyndie be able to give me a full day pass from outdoor chores. This morning dawned much friendlier with sunshine replacing the gray skies of the previous wet days.

On Friday afternoon, I laid down on the driveway to capture a view of the precipitation falling that was flirting with the difference between sleet and hail. Today we have the bright sunlight amplifying the increasing green of our fields. You know the philosophy of meditating on what you want in order to manifest desired results?

Mia was showing a Zen-like focus on the acres beyond the paddock fence this morning. Even though it is sunny today, it is way too wet to be walking on our turf, as can be seen in the amount of hoof-traffic abuse the surface inside the paddock is suffering. The poor horses can’t help damaging the very grass they would love to be eating.

Soon, the situation will improve and the horses will peacefully be grazing in the pastures again. And, soon we will be walking the circuitous path of our labyrinth again.

In less than two weeks we will be hosting an event on World Labyrinth Day at Wintervale. My favorite global meditation for peace happens every year on the first Saturday of May as people all over the world create a wave of peaceful energy by participating in their time zone at 1:00 p.m.

World Labyrinth Day at Wintervale

I’m going to visualize May 6th as a beautifully sunny day with the ground dry enough to support foot traffic without becoming a mess. No matter what, it will be a day bursting with love and peaceful vibrations flowing around us from one time zone to the next. Cyndie will bake scones to serve with coffee and we will encourage meditations start before 1:00 and continue well beyond the official hour.

We will already be feeding the meditation of peace before it arrives and continue after the crest rolls away to the west for as long as there are people present to stroll.

If the weather is bad, well, we will make peace with that, too.

You do what ya gotta do.

Peace!

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Written by johnwhays

April 23, 2023 at 10:03 am

Interrelated Accomplishments

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One thing conveniently led to the next in the series of projects we chose to take on in yesterday’s unseasonable heat. While we had been working in the woods the day before, Cyndie discovered a spot that looked promising for digging up more rocks for use in the labyrinth. There remained a surprising number of plaster fake rocks defining the pathway that we have always intended to replace when we find suitable real rocks.

I can no longer recall how many of these faux stones were left behind by the sellers of our property because it’s been so long since we used them all up in the labyrinth. Since we started reclaiming them again and storing them on a pallet, we’ve reached roughly five layers of the plaster half-rocks now being stored in the hay shed. That is more than enough to keep in reserve for replacing ones that fall from the veneer of supposed field rock plastered around the foundation of our log home and the shop garage.

Yesterday’s rock exchange in the labyrinth resulted in a wheelbarrow full of the faux stones which I needed to purge. Convincing myself that we didn’t need to store any more fake rocks, I came up with a good use for them. I dumped them on the corner where our loop around the hay shed meets the new pavement of the driveway.

I have been working to build up the corner to support the lagging trailer wheels that follow off-track in a turn onto the narrow driveway. After adding rock to the shoulder of that corner, I have been covering it with composted manure, our most available natural fill.

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Our great need for fill along the driveway is conveniently coinciding with my goal of clearing out space in the compost area to make room for the coming winter.

So, to review:

  • We replaced faux stones that were temporarily used in the labyrinth.
  • I was able to use the faux stones as fill for building up the turn from the hay shed loop to the driveway pavement.
  • I’m using composted manure to cover the added material along that turn.
  • Using that compost helps to clear out space for winter collection of new manure and possibly bedding from the barn stalls.

It is wonderfully satisfying to be making these improvements and having our efforts pay off in advancing other projects concurrently underway. It feels like we are getting two rewards for one effort, multiple times!

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Autumn Views

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Picking up where I left off yesterday, here are four more wonderful photographs Cyndie captured revealing the colorful autumn views we have been enjoying this year.

Standing in the labyrinth, first, the view looking out…

Then, she turned around to capture the view looking toward the woods…

The one thing we didn’t take a picture of was the crime scene in our kitchen when we got back from feeding the horses in the afternoon. I saw it first and put up a gate to keep Delilah from going in. Cyndie was outside tending to our landscape pond and without blurting my shock over the scene, I hinted that something happened in the kitchen.

I asked her if there was a cover on the wine bottle. She didn’t take the bait and simply said, “Yes.”

I told her I thought Pequenita had been up on one of the kitchen counters.

It was the short counter between the stove and refrigerator where some onions and potatoes are stored. Obviously, an opened bottle of wine with a stopper in it was also there.

The basket of onions had fallen off the backsplash and probably tipped the bottle over. The stopper was on the floor by the center island and red wine was splattered all over the tile floor. I asked if it would stain the tiles.

It didn’t. Cyndie said it didn’t look like the cat had lapped up anything spilled on the floor. She must have leaped and run away in a panic. There were no visible paw prints in the mess. I found Pequenita curled up on a blanket on the couch up in the loft, acting as if nothing had happened.

As we were falling asleep last night, I asked Cyndie if there was any way that basket could have fallen on its own and knocked over the bottle.

Without hesitation, she convicted ‘Nita, despite the lack of incontrovertible proof. Yeah, I’m okay with that. That was my first impression, after all, upon discovering the unexpected autumn color splashed all over our kitchen floor.

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Written by johnwhays

October 10, 2022 at 6:00 am

Harvesting Rocks

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Since it is harvest season, we decided to grab a couple of shovels and head into our woods to harvest rocks for use in the labyrinth. The back half of the circling pathway needs additional rocks to fully complete the borders. This time of year it is easier to see where old rock piles have been swallowed by the woods. From now until the ground freezes becomes prime rock harvesting time.

It might look a little like the photo above when we arrive at first but prying loose just one of the rocks can start a chain reaction of adjacent rocks coming free, one after another.

We were quickly reminded that prop shovels made for the classic “breaking ground” ceremonies where executives and politicians all toss a scoopful of sand are not hardy enough for real work.

Cyndie claimed the shovel in the photo above from her mom’s garage last year as they cleared out possessions in advance of selling the property. Her dad had been involved in more than one of these ground breaking events over the years, keeping the shovels as mementos. This one is the second to have suffered this kind of fate when used in projects around our property.

I turned the previous one into an edger tool by grinding the what was left of the spade into a cutting blade.

After uncovering a reasonable number of healthy-sized rocks for our purposes, we used a wheelbarrow to move them from the woods to the periphery of the labyrinth.

The dusty clay soil gives them all the appearance of being one color at this point but a few rain showers will bring out more individual personalities over time.

Now comes the fun part, picking just the right rocks to fill in the gaps around the back half of the labyrinth pathway. My guess is we could probably use four times as many as we “harvested” today to achieve the full effect we are after, but this amount will occupy us for now.

I want to also get after staging more downed tree trunks and limbs for chipping. There are at least four different spots in our forest where the professional trimmers cut down trees late last winter, leaving the lumber for us to process.

Collecting rocks and trimming downed trees are the two ongoing projects that will never really have a completion point on our property.

They nicely compliment the other project that is always ongoing around here: composting manure.

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Written by johnwhays

October 4, 2022 at 6:00 am

Even Frostier

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Yesterday morning, Wednesday, September 28th, was even colder than the day before. Instead of a few random spots of frost, our entire back pasture was white from ice crystals on the grass.

It was a hard enough freeze to quickly dispatch some of the plants in the labyrinth. The leaves of hydrangea plants had begun to turn black and shrivel by the afternoon.

Once the sun got high, the temperatures were ideal for toiling in the late September rays. We were on the final stretch of weeding around the rocks lining the paths of the front half of the labyrinth. First, we rolled the rocks away to make it easier to pull weeds. Then, using a guide stick to determine proper spacing, I repositioned rocks to define the lanes again.

Having started at the center of the labyrinth where the distances of each circuit are short, dealing with the increasing spans of the much longer outer rings began to grow a little tiresome. Upon reaching our goal, we rewarded ourselves with a second session of the day hanging with the horses as they freely checked out the barn.

It was their second opportunity of the day and every indication is that our plan is working wonderfully. We placed a small amount of feed in each of the stalls as enticement and by the end of the last session all but Mia had ventured in and out of different stalls to nibble. Swings was taking advantage of the water available in hanging buckets in each stall.

It’s looking like we are making good gains toward adjusting their attitude about coming inside the barn during harsh conditions.

Compared to last winter, they are certainly giving us a much less “frosty” reception to the opportunity.

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Written by johnwhays

September 29, 2022 at 6:00 am

Our Day

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A day after we celebrated Julian’s birthday with a family dinner at a Bloomington restaurant, Cyndie and I claimed yesterday for ourselves in honor of our 41st wedding anniversary. Our animal sitter, Grace, was on the calendar to free us up to do whatever we wanted. In the end, we both wanted to stay home and work on our property.

I am thrilled that our first accomplishment involved clearing small stumps, roots, and rocks in our north loop trail that have prevented me from being able to mow that section as low as desired for our walking trails. I’ve been wanting to take care of this nuisance issue for two summers.

In the afternoon, we focused our attention on the labyrinth. I brought down our new favorite tool, the electric push mower to give it a fresh cut.

We rearranged rocks and pulled weeds, addressing only a fraction of the total that is deserving of attention. The progress looks so good it has us both wanting to get back down there again soon to continue the beautification.

Just as we were about worn out for the day, we looked up to find the horses had wandered back to hang out in our proximity. That was all the invitation we needed to stop what we were doing to go hang out with them.

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Throughout the day we reminisced about our wedding day back in 1981, an outdoor service on a day with very similar weather to what we were enjoying yesterday. I remember the trees were starting to turn colors, similar to what is beginning to happen here this week.

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Written by johnwhays

September 20, 2022 at 6:00 am

Rock Relocation

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When I told Cyndie I was ready to drive the tractor into the back pasture to pick up that rock, she asked if she should move the horses out. I figured they wouldn’t be a problem and suggested she leave them be, without expecting them to be near as chill as they ended up being when the tractor rumbled past them all.

None of them even lifted their heads from chomping away on the grass at their feet. It was a rewarding demonstration of how comfortable they are getting with their environs and our activities around them.

As I was filling the hole with composted manure, the horses took turns approaching the rock and the tractor to see what was going on in their field. I love being able to be in their space and have them so calmly accept our presence.

The labyrinth was the easiest place to put the rock and the easiest spot to set it down was on the outer edge. Without any pre-planning, I grabbed two other available rocks from nearby and placed them on top, reserving the right to switch them out later if we come across ones we like better.

There is something satisfying about this whole process that makes me want to do it right away again. Luckily, there is a known candidate for relocation currently buried on our north loop trail. I know it is there but I don’t have any idea how much of it is buried out of sight.

I’m hoping to find out soon.

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Written by johnwhays

September 19, 2022 at 6:00 am