Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘living in the moment

Early Getaway

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This weekend being a three-day federal holiday weekend in the US for Memorial Day, we made an early escape from home life yesterday and drove with Cyndie’s mom up to the lake place.

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We have a recently hired house and animals sitter who is spending her first span of time actually living in our house. Up to now she has been making brief visits to walk Delilah or feed horses in the afternoon while we were away for a few hours. This is the real McCoy now. We are hoping she has a trouble-free few days.

That means we are able to experience some precious time freed of the usual home responsibilities and it feels like it’s been a long time since we had this kind of break. I’m really looking forward to it.

We jumped right in with our favorite, Coop’s pizza for dinner last night. That feels like being at the lake. It being the traditional opening weekend of the summer, there will be plenty of chores to do, but they never feel as much like work when you are doing it with so many friends and enjoying the lake scenery.

Did you notice the geese swimming in the photo above? In the off season, wildlife likes to  behave as if the beach belongs to them. It will take a few consecutive days of human activity for us to reclaim our turf and encourage the beach loving animals to choose the less populated miles of shoreline on the lake for their own.

I was able to fit my bike in the back of Marie’s Kia Sorento for the drive up so I’m hoping to sneak in some hours of cycling north country roads while we are out of sight from all the lumberjack work and mowing, trimming, and compost turning that needs to be done at home.

Thanks to our early getaway, we have a spare day before Wildwood Work Day commands our attention. I’m hoping to soak up each precious moment and slow down the perceptions of passing hours so this departure from our usual routine provides maximum benefits.

All this is in contrast to the jarring blemish on our nation’s souls as more blood has been spilled in another senseless mass shooting. Problem analysis from politicians and talking heads without a glimmer of preventive action just serves as salt in our wounded hearts at this point.

There is little reason to believe the formula that feeds this national disgrace will ever change for the better, despite the majority of citizens clamoring for positive action to control access to assault weapons.

I wish we could all make an early getaway from guns and violence.

Hug someone you love and count your blessings for each day you survive without falling victim to some lunatic shooter.

What an embarrassment for the U.S. of A.

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Hue Fatigue

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I’m growing weary of the many hues of brown that define the expanse of our outdoor views. Dark varieties of mud. Tans of the dry grasses. Graying shades of tree trunks and bare branches. Brown fence posts. Top them all off with the dullness of cloudy skies and the lifeless hues all combine to suck energy out of every breath.

This time of year we are happy to have the snow melt away but it comes with a visual cost until enough warmth and sunshine collaborate to launch the explosion of greenery we are longing to see again.

Alas, that is not fully living in the moment, is it? It’s April 1st today! No foolin’.

There are many treasures to be claimed in the current conditions, even if I find myself worn out by the same brown shades every single day that the sun is obscured from view.

The ever-changing status of the land as it weaves its way back and forth from winter’s hard freeze to fully thawed at every depth is like a carnival ride. In this indeterminate season the ground begins to thaw and then, nope, it’s frozen again and the air is warm, wait, no, it’s cold again, nope, bitter wind today, okay, tolerable this afternoon. It’s not too dry and not overly wet except that it is too dry in some places and a sloppy, muddy mess in others.

It’s enough to lead me toward a certain recliner where I can lounge and soak up the indoor shades of brown that like to snuggle.

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Yesterday was our annual geothermal furnace checkup and in its 9th year of service for us the numbers all read in the good or in one case, better than good. It will eventually switch from heating our home to cooling it during high heat periods of summer. Best decision we ever made, biting the bullet of high initial expense and replacing the 20-year-old original furnace in this house with the geothermal shortly after we arrived.

It’s funny that our seasons change every year, but right now I’m having difficulty remembering what that high heat of summer is like.

I do know that our world is a much deeper green when that happens. How come we never grow weary of those summertime hues?

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Another Solstice

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Winter 2020 arrived at our location at 4:02 a.m. CST this morning. For all the action going on in the universe beyond our planet, this solstice phenomenon is just between the Earth and our sun. In the northern hemisphere, we are at the shortest day of the year. The hours of daylight will increase from now and grow for the next six months.

We are more than ready to be headed in this direction again. 2021 is not far off now.

During our midday walk around the property yesterday, it was very noticeable that the angle of sunlight was very low. Shadows were long. The amount of melting power on a clear day in December is greatly reduced as a result of that low angle.

Plenty of white remains over our land, albeit only a fraction of what would be considered worthy any winter sports endeavors.

This time of year brings the earliest in the evening that we venture down to close the chicken coop for the night. It’s a swing of between four and five hours from how late the process occurs in June.

Ahhh, June. I guess it’s a slip up from living in the moment if I am focusing on six months in the future but there is the added incentive of longing for a time when pandemic isolation isn’t the prime order of the day.

The highlight of our day yesterday came early, during our viewing of the CBS “Sunday Morning” broadcast. There were multiple segments of heartwarming value, not the least of which was the cover story, “Promoting the Power of Kindness.”

“Kindness is a power we all have. We just need to decide to use it.”

I couldn’t have said it any better than that. (You can click the image or the link above to view the 7:44 minute story.)

Be kind to someone today on this winter soltice.

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Written by johnwhays

December 21, 2020 at 7:00 am

Overnight Snow

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It’s so much more gorgeous to have snow brightening up the landscape this time of year. We awoke today to a nice coating of white covering everything, which pleasantly provided a precise visual for the travels of our resident wildlife on Delilah’s and my walk this morning. The timing of snow and our walk meant that we came upon individual, single tracks from the fox, raccoons, deer, and a cat who visits almost daily.

The chickens showed a reasonable bit of hesitation upon exiting the coop, but quickly got over it and skittered their way through the trees toward the barn for breakfast. They didn’t linger long there. Before Delilah and I had even completed our full circumnavigation of the property, the chickens had scrambled across the driveway to one of their favorite spots beside the shop garage.

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Rocky was his bold self despite his aversion to putting both feet down into the white stuff. There is a lot of single-foot balancing that goes on during the snow season for our birds. They’re such chickens.

Yesterday, while traveling the trail on the southern border of our property, I caught sight of a bald eagle circling the precise location where the chickens hang out, flying just above the trees. Before I could react, I found the birds were all under the barn overhang and the eagle was already moving on to the neighboring fields.

It was an immediate relief but obviously only a temporary reprieve. Our birds free range in a cruel rural world where predators prowl.

Every day they come through unscathed is a victory we celebrate.

Tomorrow through Tuesday we are expecting sunshine and daytime temperatures above freezing, so the white-flocked Christmas card views out our windows won’t likely last.

Nothing lasts forever so we practice appreciating the sacred in each precious moment. A fresh coating of pristine white snow helps to make that exercise a breeze.

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Written by johnwhays

December 19, 2020 at 11:22 am

Big Think

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I’m not sure about the trick of living in the moment while trying to make big decisions that have the potential of dramatically changing the rest of my life, but that is the reality that simmers beneath my every minute lately. As Cyndie slips ever deeper into focusing her time on caring for her parents, decisions being contemplated have the potential of defining whether we will stay on this property or go.

There is a challenging balance in a committed relationship of cultivating what we want together as a couple while also honoring each of our individual desires. That would be made a little easier if we both definitively knew what it was we wanted the rest of our functional years to look like.

I had no idea that our empty-nest years would lead to the gorgeous property we found that became our Wintervale. The seed for this dream originated from a supernatural meld of both Cyndie’s and my interests and experiences, but I would not have arrived at this point without her energy driving most of the outcomes.

That same inclination has me leaning toward following her lead again as her focus has changed, despite my heart increasingly being gripped by the sanctuary of the forests and fields, and beautiful log home where we’ve been living for the last seven years. If I could figure out a way to afford it, I’d stay here even if she moved in with her parents –sighting the year we lived apart when she moved to Boston as a case study precedent– but that might be at odds with achieving our best long-term joint effort.

Neither of us knows how well our health will hold out, how climate catastrophes will impact the coming years, whether our meager retirement accounts will protect us from the next recession, or what future life events will demand our attention, but those unknowns are all lumped into our thinking as we consider the big “what next.”

I want to also include the simple joys of standing still in the woods and listening to the natural sounds that surround me. Breathing in the forest aromas and feeling the reality of temperature and precipitation against my skin. Walking over the rise in our open fields to feel the wind when it blows, or the stillness when it doesn’t.

At the same time, I’ve lived in town and know the conveniences associated. I would welcome the opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint and return to riding my bike more than driving my car.

I tell ya, living in the moment of planning the future is one heck of a big think.

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Written by johnwhays

January 12, 2020 at 8:57 am

Golden Leaves

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Once again I find myself mind-boggled by the space-time continuum, as I perceive it, currently placing us in the middle of October when September seems like it didn’t even exist. For that matter, what the heck happened to August? It was here just a minute ago.

The 2019 autumn weather has not spawned a particularly noteworthy color display in the tree-lined vistas of my commute, but some of the trees on our land are sporting a fair amount of golden hues.

Looking out our kitchen window over the sink, this view caught my eye yesterday:

The magical enhancement of direct sunlight kicks up the attention-getting aspect of fall colors to 11. I stopped what I was doing (preparing Delilah’s and Pequenita’s dinners, much to Delilah’s dismay) to step outside with my camera to try for a capture of the spectacle before the light changed.

Honestly, the camera didn’t do it justice compared to the glory of naked-eye viewing, but it is still rewarding to see the dramatic difference from the wealth of deep greens the foliage in that scene usually provides during the summer.

I played with some post-processing for two additional views.

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Fall colors are so much fun. The best is when there are as many reds and oranges bursting at the same time as the golden yellows, but that mix is lacking this year.

Somehow, I would like to exercise a deepest possible comprehension that it is October 15th today, whatever that is. I blame my date disorientation on needing to plan months ahead all day long at the day-job. The fact that I am currently scheduling work in November seems like it should make time go slower for me when I notice we are still only in October, but for some odd reason the result is just the opposite.

Living in the moment is a luxury that I usually struggle to fully accomplish.

Giving our golden leaves my rapt attention is one way I can strive to absorb a fuller recognition of what day it is today.

It would help if the low spots around here weren’t still wet as a spring day. I must admit, my muddy wet boots are another reason my brain struggles to reconcile we are in the middle of the tenth month of the year.

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Written by johnwhays

October 15, 2019 at 6:00 am

Mental Mixups

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I’m not sure how a person can know when they are actually at the top of their game, but I have a pretty good idea when I’m not achieving peak performance out of my mind. The shortcomings have come in series for me lately in a repeating pattern that is becoming difficult to miss.

Although, missing things is one of the shortcomings I am noticing. The thing with that is, it makes me suddenly wonder if there are other things I missed when individual errors pop up. It gets my mind all mixed up.

Is any of this related to the song stuck in my head since Sunday morning? While making breakfast that morning, I heard Kris Kristofferson’s version of “Me and Bobby McGee.” Later in the afternoon, while I was mowing the lawn, it was Janis Joplin’s voice “ear-worming” over and over in my mind.

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Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose…

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I found it interesting that my mind jumped to Janis’ version, but not that surprising. It’s the one I’ve heard the most. What seems odd to me is how long it has hung around.

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I’d trade all my tomorrows for one single yesterday…

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Then my poor brain got stretched into next year. Did you know 2020 is a leap year and Christmas will be on a Friday?

(Just to emphasize my point, while writing that, I asked Cyndie if she knew 2020 is a leap year. She said, “You already asked me that an hour ago.”)

One of my challenges with the day-job is the need to function far from the immediate moments and plan the future. Yesterday I was forced to print out a calendar for 2020 to assign dates into January. No wonder my mind gets mixed up.

It’s a wonder I ever know what day it is.

On the way home from work yesterday, I forgot to get gas in the car.

I sure hope I haven’t forgotten anything else important this week.

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Yeah, Summer

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Here’s the thing about summer: it’s not a thing. It’s not one thing. It’s a constant transition from spring to fall. You don’t get dandelions and corn on the cob all at the same time. There are cool days that feel totally out of season and oppressively hot and humid days that bookend the cool ones.

Maybe that is why it seems difficult to do summer justice at any given moment. Summer is a whole lot of moments.

Flower blossoms radiate for a limited number of days before they begin to fade in color and lose their shape.

Already, the earlier sunset is noticeable. County fairs produce thoughts of the summer-ending Minnesota State Fair. Plans are being considered for shopping back-to-school sales. We may as well start preparing our Halloween costumes and Thanksgiving menu. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

That’s just about how fast it feels.

Don’t blink.

My bike trip is history. The birthday has come and gone. The fourth of July has passed. How long will the rest of the summer last?

We need to pay attention to something summery every single day for the next two months.

Summer will last just as long as it lasts. I plan to notice it in its entirety.

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Written by johnwhays

July 12, 2019 at 6:00 am

Sale On

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What’d I tell you? That girl doesn’t do things halfway. In a single day, Cyndie transformed our barn into a spectacular equine boutique. Then she fled town and left me to handle the first two customer appointments on my own.

There is a conference of some sort in Dallas that has been on her calendar for some time, but she found a way to do a couple of weeks worth of work in two days before leaving, so that she would be ready to capture this weekend’s target audience of horse folks headed to the Minnesota Horse Expo at the state fair grounds in St. Paul.

It feels strange to no longer have horses living with us.

It is so bittersweet. It’s what we wanted, while also being not at all what we wanted. Obviously, we can’t have it both ways, so it is time to reconcile the reality of our here and now.

We are giving new life to perfectly good equipment so it can serve the purposes for which it was created, as well as bringing pleasure to folks who will find beneficial treasures for their horse activities at reasonable prices.

I’ll be trying to keep that in my mind, but I gotta admit, this all feels rather disorienting for me.

I must be adjusting some already though, because I’ve noticed several instances lately of flashing back to not all that long ago when I had absolutely no horse experience whatsoever.

I guess it would come as no surprise that I had a dream a couple of nights ago that was set in our old Eden Prairie home.

It makes me chuckle to look back at my old self there in the suburbs and contemplate how oblivious I was about where I would end up in the twenty-teens.

Horses? Uh uh.

Not until I visited Ian in Portugal.

I’ve come a long way since then.

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Written by johnwhays

April 25, 2019 at 6:00 am

Year Ends

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Today is the last day of 2018. What do you make of that? I think it’s just another Monday, strikingly similar to all the others, no matter where they fall in a year.

Our animals don’t seem to notice any particular significance to the date. The passage of time is doing our balding Wyandotte hen a bit of good. New feathers are slowly growing in.

They have all handled the day of rain and following freeze well enough, mostly by spending the majority of the ensuing days beneath the overhang with the horses. For their part, the horses show signs of understanding the precariousness of the icy slope, but it hasn’t kept them from braving the danger to walk down to the waterer, even though we put a tub to drink from by the barn to save them the trip.

I noticed several marks of slipping hooves which was rather unsettling, but they are choosing to make the trek of their own free will. I trust their horse sense in this instance, partly because the last time we tried to outsmart them, it didn’t go so well.

Walking Delilah around the perimeter trails has become a treacherous exercise of trying to walk like a penguin over very unpredictable surfaces. She hasn’t been slowed much by the conditions, so there is an added challenge of being pulled along by her, faster than little steps accommodate.

When she stopped to give a prolonged inspection to something that caught the attention of her nose, I spotted this single stalk of some plant that was dropping seeds on the snow. It looks like such a delicate process playing out, despite the harsh elements nature has been delivering lately.

It’s just another Monday, and life goes on.

I don’t know if it is something of a placebo effect, but since we are now over a week beyond the shortest day of the winter solstice, I got the impression it was already lighter outside during our late afternoon walk.

Or, it could just be the dawning of a new year.

Farewell to 2018 and greetings to 2019! It’s all just a series of individual moments. May we benefit by paying attention to them all.

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