Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘packing

Just Riffing

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‘Twas the night before Halloween, when all thro’ the house… I’m pretty sure creatures were stirring, because I could hear them in the walls. I’m hoping we don’t get any neighbors stopping by for treats tomorrow night, because I haven’t hunted down any of Cyndie’s hidden candy stashes and she is now out-of-town.

I drove her to the airport in the early darkness this morning to catch a plane for a visit with Dunia and family in Guatemala. Last night, instead of packing for her trip, she was cleaning the house, vacuuming, making me food for the week, …you know, mentally preparing for being away.

I interrupted her vacuuming and mentioned that I could do that after she was gone, in case she might better spend her time getting bags ready for departure. I’m a little surprised she didn’t start cleaning out the junk drawer in the kitchen, too.

It wouldn’t be the first time.

Those of you who are chuckling over this probably have a sense of recognition for this strange trait some people have, that they start organizing or cleaning drawers or closets that rarely get attention until the waning hours before leaving on a trip. What is that about?

The chickens and I benefitted from this pattern yesterday, when the normal evening chores unexpectedly blossomed into a grand chicken pasty-butt cleaning operation. I sure didn’t see that coming, but it will be nice for me that I shouldn’t have to deal with the possible negative consequences of plugged up chicken bottoms while Cyndie is away.

The things we do for our animals.

Cleaning up poopy butts was a nice distraction from the daily news, except that it wasn’t that different from what I suffered hearing about on the drive home from work yesterday. Most of what fills the headlines is pretty sh**ty lately.

It makes me dream of what it might be like if all the news organizations were to magically agree to completely ignore the person whose name I prefer not uttering for maybe five business days in a row. Imagine that. Just fill the time talking about whatever subject would bug him the most, without ever once making reference to him. And the louder he would try to shout for attention by his tweeting fits, the more distance the journalists could put between themselves and him.

Just ignore him until he goes away. But keep an eye on the cash register. Something tells me all the bluster and blather is a smoke screen to distract us from the siphoning of the public coffers that is going on. Check his pockets before he leaves.

Hey, speaking of my drive home yesterday, I had a lucky break by the weird coincidence of leaving for home earlier than usual after having needed to make an unexpected visit a customer site. As I got close to the border with Wisconsin, traffic came to a sudden halt.

I had spotted an alert on the electronic message board over the freeway warning of a crash ahead, so I was prepared to bale out at the exit to Hudson just after crossing the St. Croix River. If I had left at my normal time, the backup would have left me on the Minnesota side of the bridge.

Timing is everything.

Okay, that’s it. Now I’m on my own (with a little animal care help from some local hands in the a.m. hours of my work days) for a couple weeks. Let’s see how long I can keep my happy face┬áon. ­čÖé

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Gettin’ There

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Well, in case you haven’t noticed, today is June 14th. It just so happens, the Tour of Minnesota biking and camping week starts on June 15th. Holy COW, that’s tomorrow! I suppose I better start getting ready to go.

Today is my last day at the day-job before starting this annual biking adventure. After that, it’s a quick stop for some supplies, a rush home to get some grass cut, and then it will be time to start packing.

Tent, check. Sleeping bag, check. Bike, check. Helmet, check. Bike shoes, check. As long as I pack those essentials, I will be functional. The rest is just superfluous accoutrements.

Okay, maybe I’ll bring a camera, and some clothes, a sleeping pad, sunscreen lotion, and ibuprofen. But that’s it. That’s all I need.

Oh, and a toothbrush. Spare shoes. A raincoat. A hat.

I found our old original┬áFoxtail toy. I’m bringing the Foxtail

After dinner yesterday, in order to check off a couple of chores from my pre-departure list, I pulled out the diesel tractor and attached the loader. Cyndie and I transferred three large piles of composted manure to a remote location, to provide plenty of open space in the compost area before I go.

Whenever I was off dumping a full bucket, the chickens would show up to check out what Cyndie was doing. I could see them scamper away each time I returned. Eventually, I paid them a visit on foot to offer my regards.

They are just starting to show hints of what they will look like when they mature and start producing eggs.

As of last night, we still have all twelve birds. This kind of success is what breeds our willingness to keep trying the unencumbered free-range life for them.

After they start getting hunted again, our thoughts will change, I’m sure.

Speaking of them getting hunted… while the world was all caught up in the escapades of the downtown St. Paul raccoon that scaled a 23-story building in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, we had our very own varmint contemplating a climb up the side of our 1-story coop.

I admit, it wasn’t nearly as exciting, but it made for a cool capture on the trail cam.

You can almost read his mind, as he computes the potential reward of maybe gettin’ up there.

I wonder if I should be electrifying the hardware cloth that covers the windows. I’m hoping there is no reward whatsoever should he or she actually decide to make that climb.

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Written by johnwhays

June 14, 2018 at 6:00 am

Planning Ahead

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I’m happy to report that yesterday’s commute went without a hitch, despite completing the last few miles home in the afternoon in an ever-increasing snowfall.

It was a busy night for me last night. After putting Delilah through a long workout with some off-trail deep snow, I needed to plow the driveway and do some shoveling, before heading inside to pack for a weekend out of town. Not just out of town, but out of state. We are flying to spend the weekend with Cyndie’s parents in Florida, traveling with our friends, Barb and Mike Wilkus.

Our trusty home and animal sitter, McKenna, has offered to cover the necessary days that will allow us to spend a night before and after Florida at Cyndie’s parent’s Edina home to maximize efficiency and minimize driving between home, work, and the airport.

That meant I needed to think about getting ready for work this morning, as well as packing for four days in Florida, and then making sure I will have everything I need for going to work the following Monday. After work today, I will drive to Edina. Cyndie will meet me there to spend the night before we head to the airport with Barb and Mike early in the morning.

We get back to the Cities late on Sunday, and will be able to avoid the long drive back to Beldenville by returning to the Edina home for the night. Monday morning, I head directly to work from there.

That’s thinking a lot of days ahead for me. So much for living in the moment.

On the walk with Delilah, we found some good evidence of the icing that was occurring on Monday. It looked like someone had painted our fence posts gray, which, humorously, was my first thought when I spotted the odd sight.

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Oh, yeah. It was just ice.

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Written by johnwhays

February 21, 2018 at 7:00 am

Getting Started

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Preparations are underway for our trip with Cyndie’s family to the Dominican Republic. I’ve been enjoying creating the early posts in the series I have planned to explore events that led up to this latest adventure, starting way back with the first time I met Cyndie.

To give myself more time for planning and packing, I have decided to begin the series tomorrow. I hope you enjoy my trips down memory lane.

I will take advantage of the early break from daily posting to finish making lists and actually start packing.

Sounds like we will be getting away at a good time, as temperatures are expected to drop precipitously in the days ahead. I’m hoping that it won’t snow enough to require plowing until after we return, but it’s okay with me if the cold snap happens while I’m gone.

There was a little extra excitement around the ranch yesterday as the neighbor on our southwest corner reported he was going to be hunting coyotes and might cross our property.

Early in the morning, Cyndie came upon some lone tracks in the snow that just might have been those of a coyote scout venturing out on its own overnight.

If our neighbor is worried about his cows, I wonder if we should be concerned for our surviving three chickens.

We are really hoping the young woman who has agreed to take care of our animals while we are away won’t have any difficult problems to manage.

It’s just seven days. One week. Is that too much to wish for? An entire week at Christmastime of calm and quiet?

I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

I need to go find my battery charger for the camera. When we get back, I’m going to want to post lots of pictures of the tropical beach, palm trees, sun, and surf.

I hope you’ll be entertained by the stories I have scheduled to post while we are gone.

I intend to return to live, daily posting by the end of the month.

Bon voyage!

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Written by johnwhays

December 20, 2017 at 7:00 am

Distant Thunder

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We had plenty of warning last night that heavy weather was going to visit. The majority of thundering was happening well to our south for about an hour before it moved in and started dropping rain on us. The sun was just setting when the edge of the billowing tower of clouds became visible, giving them a foreboding glow.

It was a late night for me, as I crammed to get some manure management done before we head out of town for the weekend. It’s a job I have been neglecting for enough days that it was going to be a problem for our horse-sitter while we are gone if I didn’t do something before leaving.

And, we are leaving this afternoon. In fact, I am leaving from work. Our plan is to meet at the airport in Eden Prairie to fly to Barb and Mike’s lake place near Grand Rapids.

After completing my manure chores, I needed to haul some hay into the barn for the weekend. Then it was time to shower and pack. I struggle every night just figuring out what I will wear the next morning for work, and that got amplified last night by needing to also think through a weekend of possible needs.

Since we are flying four people in a small plane, the goal is to pack light.

It’s a great recipe for forgetting something, if you ask me.

I packed a swim suit, and my sunglasses, so I at least have the essentials if something else was overlooked.

Now we are just hoping there is no thunder happening along our flight path during the hours we hope to fly. If the weather isn’t friendly enough, we’ll simply drive up north instead. Which, in that case, would mean I could then haul up more than I need, like I usually tend to do.

Maybe I should toss all my heavy non-essential items in my car just in case. It usually turns out that if I bring extra stuff, I won’t have a need for it. The need only arises if I don’t bring something.

It’s like a law of physics or something. Probably a cousin of Murphy’s Law.

Wish us some flying luck! It’ll be pretty sweet if we are able to pull it off. Who wouldn’t want to cut the travel time to the lake in half?

Here’s hoping any thunder is REALLY distant during the appointed hours of our planned travel.

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Written by johnwhays

July 20, 2017 at 6:00 am

Perfect Weather

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I am visualizing perfect weather for a week of bicycling and tent camping. It could happen.

This morning I will hope to get the property mowed at the last minute so the grass shouldn’t be too long when I return to cut it again next Friday. This afternoon I will load up my bike and gear in the car and depart for a week of vacation.

This trip may not offer much chance to catch up on sleep, but I will have ample opportunity to take a mental break from the daily grind, and I will eat and laugh heartily with some very special like-minded cycling friends. This trip is a wonderful mental vacation because I don’t need to make any major decisions. The daily meals, the route, and the camping locations are all predetermined.

I just show up and ride. Oh, maybe I will waffle over what jersey to put on each day, but that’s about as complicated as it will get. Last night, I laid out gear and clothes while trying to imagine the usual routines of the week, in attempt to prepare for everything.

I would do myself a favor to now┬áreview the choices I made and divide it in half. I don’t think there has been a year where I ever needed everything I usually pack. Last year, I tried traveling lighter than my usual. This year, I would like to improve on that.

Just hoping the days near Lake Superior won’t complicate things. That massive body of water is a very effective air conditioner and can drop the temperature dramatically if the breeze flows from the direction of the lake. Warm clothes and packing light conflict a little when it comes to my wardrobe.

Over the years, I’ve heard tales of a wide range of essential items being forgotten by participants. I would like to avoid making an unplanned purchase of a critical item, so I will be working off a cheat sheet. Oddly, it seems I have filed away my master list from the many prior years I’ve done this trip.

Making a new list. I can remember to bring everything on my list, but did I remember to put everything I want on the list? Yeah, that’s the trick.

As long as I have my bike, both wheels, my cycling shoes and helmet, tent, sleeping bag, and pad, I’m good. Other than some clothes, the rest is all non-essential. I will bring my guitar this year, though, since the weather is going to be perfect.

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Written by johnwhays

June 16, 2017 at 6:00 am

Fiery Sky

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The horses were heavily harassed by biting flies yesterday, which made my session of scooping manure a lively affair. The biggest hazard, beyond unpredictable flailing hooves as they fling a leg out in response to a bite, is the nasty snap of their tails. They could take an eye out with that whipping action. At the very least, it stings when they get you.

I’ve noticed they will frequently align themselves to purposely have their heads in the wash of someone else’s tail for added fly management. There is no doubt they are thicker skinned than we are. I wouldn’t be able to endure the beating.

I worked well past the dinner hour last night, after a full shift at the day-job, to create added open space in the compost area for my approaching week-long absence from home. The effort now should pay off when I return, so I won’t come home to a disaster of overflowing piles.

Manure management is one of those jobs that is made easy by frequent attention. Let it go for a day or two between scooping and it can become an exponentially more significant project.

Last night, I opened up a gate to a section of pasture that still has long grass, to allow the herd a brief session of grazing. The first thing three of them did was pee. The second thing they took turns doing was laying down and rolling around.

When I looked their direction to see they finally got around to seriously grazing, the setting sun was illuminating the clouds to create the impression of a great conflagration. Photo Op!

One last day at the day-job today before vacation. I hope to try mowing the yard tonight and maybe doing a little laundry so I can pack clean clothes for the bike trip.

If I pack warm clothes and rain gear, maybe I won’t need them. We all know that if I don’t pack those things, it would guarantee that the week would turn out cold and wet.

If we see fiery clouds in the evenings during the bike trip, I hope it will mean, “sailor’s delight.”

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Written by johnwhays

June 15, 2017 at 6:00 am