Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘vacation

January Thaw

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I have lived near the Twin Cities for most of my life, but I never realized how consistently we experience a January thaw. From Meteorologist, Paul Huttner’s Updraft blog:

“A January thaw is defined as two or more consecutive days of high temperatures above 32 degrees. That happens in 93 percent of all years on record for the Twin Cities. In fact, a January thaw is more reliable than a white Christmas (72 percent) in the Twin Cities.”

Everyone at Wintervale is enjoying this little break from the ravages of the deep cold that has besieged us for the last few weeks.

The sunshine and warm Pacific breeze was just right for an afternoon sun bath.

The chickens are much quicker to come out of the coop with the warmer temperatures. The Buff Orpington spent a fair amount of time breaking up frozen sand so her bath could be a mixture of sun and soil.

When I noticed her kicking up a dust cloud storm and wallowing luxuriously in it, I pulled out my camera to record video of the spectacle.

I got two seconds of fluttering and a minute and a half of her sitting mostly still, occasionally pecking at the frozen sand. She was not interested in being the star of my movie.

The scene of Dezirea nodding off in the sun, with her tail flowing gracefully in the gentle breeze turned out to be the more rewarding video, even though it has about the same amount of action as the shot of the hen.

Legacy interrupted my video of Dezirea when he stepped forward to poke his head into the bright sunshine and blocked my view.

We have been trying to absorb this early January thaw for all it is worth, given the impending swing back to serious winter weather being forecast. Tomorrow could become a day of our greatest snow accumulation this season, and the thermometer is expected to sink back to sub-zero overnight temperatures.

Hello, again, winter.

It’s getting hard maintaining a charade of still being on a tropical vacation by simply revisiting our photo albums.

But that doesn’t prevent us from putting forth an effort.

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Written by johnwhays

January 10, 2018 at 7:00 am

Unintended Souvenirs

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Sure, it was cold when we got home from the Dominican Republic last weekend, but at least we didn’t walk into a bomb cyclone!

I heard someone referring to our extreme below-zero cold episode as evidence that global warming isn’t deserving of the hype. Sadly, the reality of the crazy cold and snow that just played out in the south, combined with the dramatic storm forming in the northeast, fulfills a common symptom of continually escalating extreme weather events that are ripple effects of the warming planet.

Hold onto your hats!

Were you wondering if Cyndie and I brought home souvenirs from our family vacation to the Dominican Republic? Why, of course, even if we didn’t intend to.

Actually, Cyndie may have picked up hers from an airport or the recycled air in the plane. Don’t forget your Emergen-C!

Her souvenir happens to be a wicked cold virus. I hope she doesn’t end up remembering this trip by how ferociously sick she got at the end of it, starting around the time of the flight home. By day-four, she lost her voice, her head and chest are so congested she sounds like an alien life-force when she coughs, and days of unrewardingly fitful sleep has become the primary coping mechanism.

Life on the ranch is on hold for a while. When momma is sick, nobody is having any fun.

My souvenir from the trip happens to be beach sand. Imagine that. The bottom of the bag I packed was a little grainy. It’s appropriate, though. One of my highlights for the week was being able to play soccer on the beach on two different days, and coming away with only minor injuries from the effort.

The jammed toes on my left foot still carry a little souvenir residual pain from the brave act of thwarting nephew Eric’s blast of a shot.

Overall, I’d give my performance on the challenging surface of sand a C+, judged in reference to the gap between what I meant to do and what actually transpired.

Thank you to Barry for providing photographic evidence that my kicking form was a little off on the beach.

Regardless, the fun quotient was high, and that was sufficient for me.

Now I am occupied with maintaining a quarantine between myself and Cyndie’s souvenir germs.

So far, so good with that agenda. I’ll let you know if my success continues beyond her eventual (hopefully, soon) return to good health.

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Occasional Rain

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One of the things I was intrigued by during our week in Punta Cana was the occurrence of daily passing showers. It often happened without warning. Sometimes the drops appeared to be falling out of blue sky. Clouds frequently floated past, though very few actually dumped rain.

The ones that did, provided enough regular moisture, they have no need for a mechanical irrigation system.

The air never felt oppressively humid, but the difference from the dry winter air at home was definitely noticeable. I suppose the breeze off the ocean helps moderate the atmosphere.

Several times, we walked to breakfast in beautiful morning sunshine, and while we were eating, the view outside would suddenly reveal a soaking shower. By the time we finished eating and stepped back outside, the sun was shining again and the walkways were already beginning to dry.

A couple of times we were poolside for the surprise showers. The shade umbrellas of palm tree leaves provided enough cover to keep our towels and stuff from getting soaked.

Towels on the recliners in the pool didn’t fare so well.

The frequent, brief soakings seemed like the perfect conditions for growing the lush landscape they maintained daily at the resort. I took note of the machete they used to trim their hedges, even though we don’t have any hedges to be trimmed at Wintervale. The tool produced a very clean line, in the hands of an experienced artisan.

When they closely cropped the grass areas, I felt right at home with the sound of the power trimmer that was identical to what we use along our fence lines and around the labyrinth.

I had to restrain myself from asking if I could help the landscaping crew for a day. Actually, I considered asking if any of them would consider coming to Wisconsin to work on our property, but the timing didn’t seem right.

With our temperatures down in the double-digits below-zero range, there just isn’t a lot of yard work happening around here for a while.

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Written by johnwhays

January 3, 2018 at 7:00 am

Tuesday Monday

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It’s back to the old routine today, sort of. The holidays are over and we are back to the regularly scheduled program. I’m headed to work this morning, and will be facing the classic Tuesday Monday. It’s the first day of the work week, which for all intents and purposes makes this a Monday. Only, it’s not.

Today is Tuesday.

The incongruity serves to blur the edges of decision-making, lending a dose of fog to the workday. Catching up after a week of vacation will not happen in a day without a fair amount of purposeful effort.

Wait. Isn’t that what’s supposed to happen every day at work?

Of course, for all of us in the Friswold family, there is the added complication of our minds still being flooded with memories of a week’s-worth of tropical fun in the Dominican Republic.

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One of our excursions off the resort property was a snorkeling adventure, which also included a fair amount of partying on the boat and in the water at a brief stop near shore. Cavorting with stingrays and nurse sharks, among the many other small ocean fish was almost secondary to the rest of the fun in the sun the crew encouraged.

I’m afraid work will have a hard time competing for my full attention today with distracting memories like these swimming laps in my mind.

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Written by johnwhays

January 2, 2018 at 7:00 am

Fiftieth Anniversary

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The big five-oh. It is a milestone that deserved the biggest family trip yet. To celebrate 50 years of marriage, Fred and Marie found a way to include all of their children and grandchildren into one awesome week of vacation. They rented a mansion that could house all of us on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

Spending a week at Hilton Head together was so much more than just a vacation to the beach. We weren’t staying in hotel rooms. We had an entire house. Granted, it was a mansion large enough that we could retreat to our own rooms, just as if it were a hotel.

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A significant difference was that family prepared the meals right there in the kitchen. Cousins had some extended quality time to develop greater bonds. Kids all got a dose of supervision and play from aunts and uncles that gave parents occasional breaks and expanded everyone’s understanding of the rest of their family.

Staying together in one house was the big key that set this trip apart from all the others. It was like a week at Wildwood, except on the ocean with an expansive sandy beach.

And, well, it was extravagantly luxurious, too. It felt like a dose of what being rich and famous might be like.

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Those stairs. So big, it was hard to capture in a picture. Walking up them inspired feelings of royalty.

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It’s comical, really, that part of the regal impression was created by the simple fact you could choose to walk to the left or right. They both lead to the very same place.

Having a pool right outside the back door was rather plush, given the Pacific Ocean was just a stone’s throw beyond.

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We played games beside the pool, we made castles in the sand.

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It was an absolutely grand time. I believe it set the stage for what might be possible a decade later.

When it came time to celebrate a sixtieth anniversary, how would they ever top that week at Hilton Head?

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Written by johnwhays

December 28, 2017 at 7:00 am

My Battle

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It’s Saturday. It’s the first day of July. It’s a holiday weekend in the U.S. and Cyndie and I are up at the lake. We brought Delilah with us, our trusty canine who has gotten car sick on the last two drives to Hayward. I negotiated a delayed departure from home to give me time to mow the hay-field a second time with the brush cutter before we high-tailed it for the lake.

The horses are being well cared for by Shelby, a local college student who has been helping Cyndie since the shoulder surgery. As we drove past the arena on our way out, Dezirea was gorgeously trotting laps around Shelby on the lunge line. I tend to perceive Dez as the least athletic of our herd, but she was showing no sign of any physical limitations yesterday.

After my vacation week of cycling and this long weekend away at the lake, I’m discovering an ongoing battle simmers in my mind over work to be done on our property and my precious few hours away from the day-job. As I pedaled through the countryside a couple of weeks ago, some of the prominent scenes that repeatedly caught my eye were the lawns and farm fields being mowed.

“I should be doing that,” was my first impression.

Yesterday, after extended hours of bouncing on the tractor seat over the rolling hill of our hay-field, the accomplishment was satisfying, but only served to reveal the remaining acres still needing attention. Yet, here I am at the lake while the grass at home continues to grow.

While I was on the hay-field, Cyndie worked –one-armed– to remove the webbing from fence posts around the north pasture. We are going to pull the posts, since we aren’t grazing the horses up there anymore, as this will simplify the maneuvering necessary when mowing the area. The grass there is so tall right now that it is hard to see where the posts are with the webbing removed.

My negotiations with Cyndie will resume after the 4th of July games and community dinner are over up here, to see if I can get home with hours to spare for mowing the lawn before the short work week lays claim on my time again.

I’m here, but my mind is mulling the chores needing attention at home. Nature doesn’t take a break when we decide to go on vacation.

It’s a battle.

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Written by johnwhays

July 1, 2017 at 8:15 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