Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘pondering

My City

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I live in a city in the country. A place characterized by a specific attribute. My city is populated by leaves. Leaves and sticks. And mud, when the weather is wet. My city is constantly changing. There are animals and animal dung. There are births and deaths.

Is it murder when one animal kills another?

Not according to this definition:

“the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another.” 

Doesn’t apply to animals.

My city has common routes of travel shared by many. There are also back alley shortcuts to get from one place to another. There is traffic night and day.

Our house is the city center, the hub of all activity. From here, energy radiates in every direction. There are constant battles waged against unwelcome invading plants and critters.

The invasion of cold temperatures appears to have quashed the zeal of microorganisms living in the only remaining active pile of composting manure. I won’t fight the issue. The pile will be there when warmth returns next spring. I’ve witnessed piles that cook through the winter and seen many more that go dormant and freeze solid.

This year, we have noticed an atypical increase in the number of mice seeking to move into the city center now that the leaves have fallen to the ground. Do they know something we don’t about what kind of weather this winter will bring?

We are receiving news now that the whitetail deer population has contracted the coronavirus in substantial numbers. Since they lack the infrastructure for getting vaccinated, it gives us added incentive to get our booster shots. I’d rather not wear a mask when walking through the woods.

Imagine the opportunity for the virus to morph again while it is spreading uncontrolled through the deer population.

We can try to put our city on lock-down but policing the traffic that crosses our borders is beyond the reach of our security forces.

My city will take its chances.

We are more concerned about a threatened strike by the snowplow driver.



Written by johnwhays

November 13, 2021 at 10:23 am

Winning Cups

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I watched the NHL Tampa Bay Lightning win the Stanley Cup by defeating the Montreal Canadians on Wednesday night. The television broadcast included some post-game celebrations and interviews with winning players. It included the typical reaction of, “I don’t have words to describe the feeling.”

The mostly bearded and predominantly burly men were hugging with passion and obviously over the moon with joy.

They won the Stanley Cup.

“We worked so hard for this.”

Yeah, I’m sure they did. Surviving a season of games and all the playoffs in the NHL is quite a feat. It’s in the realm of racing a bicycle for 21 days in France or climbing in the death zone to reach the top of Everest.

Heroic efforts like those bring the ultimate rewards that participants struggle to describe.

On Thursday morning, while I was grunting and sweating through my daily exercises for core strength, the thought occurred to me that I work really hard on this but I don’t get a cup.

The rest of us work really hard at our jobs every day. We labor through getting errands done, bills paid, mouths fed. We sweat and ache, we race, we problem solve, we fix broken things, and do the laundry. Sometimes it feels like there is not enough air to breathe.

But we don’t suddenly win and then take a few months off. No trophies, no podiums, no mountain tops. Day after day we get up and fight our battles without an end in sight.

Maybe that is why I like to watch sports. I live vicariously through the athletic accomplishments of others. This line of thinking has given me a new understanding of the people who buy lottery tickets. It becomes their shot at winning the cup. Otherwise, it’s just the daily grind with no end in sight.

I work hard. I’d kinda like to have a Stanley Cup moment like those guys.

Wouldn’t we all?

Now get back to work. It’s another day of doing what all the rest of us do every day.

We can watch trophy celebrations on tv later.






Written by johnwhays

July 9, 2021 at 6:00 am

Unknown Connections

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There is so much music that I feel connected to, a lifetime’s worth, really. More to the point, the songwriters and performing artists. They have shared their creative visions and I have absorbed their renditions, on repeating rotations for years and often decades. Some of the people whose work has resonated for me draw me to want to know more about them.

I am an unabashed fan.

Their music is the most listened to in my library. They become connected to me in the unique way of celebrity, in that they have no idea who I am, but to me, it is as if we have become friends.

Upon fantasizing about how things would go if we suddenly found ourselves hanging out together with no agenda or time constraints, I wonder, would the artists of my liking honestly show any sense of connection with me?

My cat seems to like me in a way that hints at a connection. She also will just as quickly demonstrate total disdain. I guess, in reality, that combination of feelings is mutual.

That creative artist who penned lyrics that trip my trigger of perspectives, curiosities, emotions, longings, or visions of the world probably also chews food with their mouth open or has some other odd characteristic that would sour my attraction.

I could get all stalker-like and make my fanaticism known to them to find out for sure, but it makes much more sense to me that I leave the connection unknown, other than my anonymous contribution to their financial success by buying what they are selling and listening to the product of their genius.

The secret to connecting with an artist, in my opinion, is by not knowing anything about them when you meet. If a connection clicks, it isn’t a result of the preconceived perception one would have in mind. I have been curious to know how celebrities feel about meeting people who have no idea about their fame.

I would guess for really famous people, it would be refreshing.

In this scenario, I hope I wouldn’t end up dissing the person like the way my cat disses me.



Written by johnwhays

February 25, 2021 at 7:00 am

Pondering Still

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In a simple reflection of the stressful current events that hardly need listing, my days are splattered with competing demands commanding my attention. I’m growing weary of the constant exercise of redirecting my energy from the angst-inducing to the peaceful loving focus I prefer.

I should be rewarded by the project of clearing brush we worked on yesterday in the uncharacteristic high humidity, but the slow progress was overshadowed by the pall of troublesome political, societal, and environmental issues simmering in a brew of the coronavirus pandemic stew.









The front (or eastern) half of the northern border of our property has a natural fence of uncontrolled growth that I have long sought to turn into a wall by trimming it like a hedge. A year or so after we moved here, I made a first swipe along the span, cutting back the existing growth. In the ensuing years, I have gained enough confidence to cut the “hedge” much closer to the very old and mostly buried barbed wire fence that long ago defined the property line.

Yesterday’s effort was nice to accomplish, but it was a sweaty struggle against the frustrating strength of entangled vines that fought back unendingly against our every attempt to clear branches. The grey clouds hung low and the high dew point temperature gave the September air an odd thickness that was the opposite of inspiring freshness.

For all the progress we made, stepping back to look at the distance that still remained to be cleared revealed how little had actually been gained. It felt all too similar to the issues of social justice that are far from being accomplished.

The world at large does influence each of our own individual environments. If anyone is suffering, we all suffer.

A new Minnesota poll just released highlighted a variety of details related to the pending U.S. Presidential election. One that resonated in particular for me was how the level of education reflected the differing amount of support for the two main candidates. I think that speaks volumes.

Don’t ever vote stupid. Get educated on our democracy. Become smart enough to recognize integrity.

Imagine if we could vote in a government that would work to protect citizens from stupid ideas. Oh to have a Federal Government that would swiftly and intelligently address the pandemic. Oh to have leaders who would uphold the intent of our protections against harming the environment. Oh to have leaders who could enforce financial ethics guidelines.

Oh to have the entire length of our “hedge” shaped by the time next spring’s growth begins to expand it once again.



Written by johnwhays

September 27, 2020 at 10:32 am

Wandering Ponders

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There are times when putting on music that inspires my personal tastes, music which soars to the greatest depths of my vibrational energy and reaches the core of my being, brings on a rush like a drug.

I love that.

I have come to understand the belief that we make our own luck. Both good and bad. I also believe there are powers beyond our knowing that seek to cheer us on and want the best for us. I believe this more than I think there are powers that work against us.

There are enough circumstances, and our own shortsightedness, to balance that scale against our ultimate success.

I am dismayed over a sensation about the human race too often falling victim to the selfish greed and power worship of our nature. Despite the incredible number of people striving to do good for others, seeking true justice, full equality, better futures, a greater understanding of complex thought exercises that could lead to problem-solving advances, it too often appears as productive as pissing into the wind.

Even if one were to hold the key to fixing some current calamity, it would run smack dab into a wall of resistance and litigation to squash the solution in its infancy.

We have met the enemy. It is us.

By Ruth Bader Ginsberg achieving all that she did, we know what is possible. She didn’t do so invisibly. Obviously, she climbed to new heights on the shoulders of impressive women who came before her. It stands to reason to expect there are others currently striving to build on her legacy.

They are toiling this very minute. May they waste nary a second to launch together in pairs, in study groups, by the dozens, hundreds even, rising up to be heard, to grab positions of power, to lead in ways that would make The Notorious RBG vibrate with glee.

Something is tragically wrong when the police in a democracy get permission to barge into a home in the middle of the night without warning, triggering a defensive response that allows them to use deadly force with abandon and when citizens protest our objections, the perpetrators are held at fault only for the bullets that went astray of the innocent resident in her bed.

So many brilliant people have expressed the dysfunction of allowing corporations to call the shots. It is obvious that excessive salaries for top executives combined with insufficient pay for most everyone beneath them is an untenable situation.

Seems too obvious to deny or defend. As does doing harm to the environment. As does killing others for religious or ideological reasons.

It was said, “Never again.”

I wish.

I love when the good side triumphs. I can’t wait until we all can read about women who have achieved twice what RBG did.

I hope none of them delay for one day their rightful claims to places in history.



Written by johnwhays

September 26, 2020 at 9:15 am

So Little

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There are days when I want nothing more than to be standing again in the high Himalayas gazing at surrounding peaks and the valleys between.

These days I find plenty of solace in the wide-open spaces of our rural paradise where the variety of skies provides endless fascination.

It serves to remind me that we are so little and the universe so vast.



Written by johnwhays

July 2, 2020 at 6:00 am

Saturday Thinking

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It’s a gorgeous winter day today. Seriously cold outside, but wonderful to look at. I don’t know why we find ourselves wondering this morning about where else we might choose to live, if we didn’t live here.

We are pondering the details that would allow us a return trip to visit Ian and family in Portugal.

If we didn’t have animals, we would have a lot more freedom to travel. If we lived closer to family and my workplace, navigating every single event in our lives would be dramatically more convenient.

Maybe grieving opens us up to such thinking. Cyndie is processing family photos and documents in preparation for a funeral service tomorrow for an aunt whom Cyndie had been assigned the responsibility of power of attorney. Caring for her aunt has consumed a majority of her attention for the last nine months.

Back in 2012, when we found this place, one of my early impressions was that we had discovered the place where I would live the rest of my life. It is very conflicting to contemplate the possibility of alternatives.

At the same time, I have gained a keen sense of how everything is always in a constant state of change.

I’m feeling a little lost lately about a question of why we were so lucky to have ended up here with our precious animals and the glorious land and healthy forest, if it wasn’t to share it with others through the cost-offsetting venture of Wintervale Ranch & Retreat Center.

We’ve fallen short of managing to build a revenue generating operation that would allow us to afford running the place without being employed somewhere else for too many critical hours per week.

If we haven’t accomplished the dream we envisioned years ago, what do we do with what remains?

I’m uneasy about the weather effects our warming planet is dishing out and wonder about how to deal with the results. I don’t like the thought of how jumping on airplanes at every whim feeds an industry that, though relatively small, has a disproportionally large impact on the climate system.

One Saturday morning won’t provide the answer to such a complex situation, but it is a chance to put our thoughts together in a kettle to begin simmering. Not that these thoughts haven’t already been simmering for a while now. Maybe we are just turning up the temperature on this kind of thinking today.

And, feeling fresh grief, for the end of another life.

It is really cold here.

We have a fire in the fireplace and our music playing from a random mix of my entire iTunes library.

It’s a Saturday morning, and Cyndie and I are thinking, occasionally out loud, together.



Written by johnwhays

February 9, 2019 at 11:29 am

Mad Weather

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Using just a couple hours in the dark Tuesday night to plow and shovel the 9 inches of snow we received, left the overall job of cleaning up around here far from complete. I spent yesterday at the day-job again, arriving home with no interest in rushing out again to do the rest of the plowing or shoveling, so plenty of spots remain covered.

The deck ended up with a fascinating snowscape of waves and lines unlike anything I remember seeing before. We have ended up with a variety of interesting patterns over the years, but never one with peaks so tall while the slots between remained wide open.

It must have been the result of a perfect dryness of the flakes and lack of wind while they fell.

The pending challenge which we are very curious to have revealed, is whether the predicted next wave of snow will double what already fell Tuesday, and make our job of clearing paths and trails –and the back deck– even more challenging that it was already going to be.

Last night, Cyndie and I watched a rented sci-fi thriller, “Life” (2017), a movie that depicts a space station crew studying a one-celled life form picked up on Mars that unexpectedly grows into a threatening menace. At one point in the movie, the lead scientist ponders the terrorizing underway by the organism they had named, “Calvin”.

“Calvin doesn’t hate us. But he has to kill us in order to survive.”

While out in the snow last night, under a “downpour” of more freshly falling flakes, I realized I was feeling a similar sense about the multiple blasts of winter weather battering us of late. My mind tends to perceive the storms as having cognition and intentionally pummeling our region with increasing levels of abuse.

But the weather doesn’t hate us. It is just an unemotional result of ingredients playing out on a global scale. Somewhere, a butterfly flapped its wings and we got walloped by winter.

Still, I can’t deny the distinct impression that, even though the weather might not hate us, it’s behaving an awful lot like it’s a little bit mad at us right now.



Written by johnwhays

February 7, 2019 at 7:00 am


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Words on Images




Written by johnwhays

October 5, 2018 at 6:00 am