Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘weather

Warmed Winter

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So, this is what it’s going to be like on a warmer planet then. January at latitude 44°47’04.1″N will offer periods of rain that will convert any snowpack previously existing into a slushy mash that resembles wet cement in many ways. It’s ugly, annoying, problematic, and just plain no fun to deal with.

For all the times I have grumbled about it being too cold or having too much snow fall all at once, I offer my apologies. The wet slop that has become our current reality is what I really mean to be grumbling about. I am NOT looking forward to the possibility of 5-8″ of heavy, wet snow falling on top of the existing mess tonight and tomorrow, which is what the current National Weather Service “weather watch” alert is threatening.

In protest of the lousy “winter” conditions outside yesterday, I decided to spend the afternoon indoors on a frivolous pursuit that celebrates the freedom of retirement by binging a docu-series in the middle of a weekday afternoon.

Cyndie and I finally started watching “Welcome to Wrexham” and have quickly learned more about the country of Wales than I’ve ever known before. Despite this show being a confusing echo to the fictional series, “Ted Lasso,” which we enjoy so much, we are finding it fascinating in a different way because it is a real story.

There are many fans represented thus far in the series who describe how much the football club means to them and to the surrounding community as a whole. Descriptions of being born into a world immersed in the Wrexham football club trigger my memories of the influence on my early life of my parent’s passion for the NFL Minnesota Vikings football team.

The Vikings just lost a game that knocked them out of this season’s playoffs (like so many times before) and local media is already going on about what needs to happen over the off-season to bring success next year. I can’t imagine what it would be like if I, as a fan, had to face the stress of possible relegation out of the NFL if the team finished at the bottom of the standings.

Watching the quality of the documentary “Welcome to Wrexham” has me feeling swiftly connected to the fans, players, and club staff presented on screen. I feel invested in their concerns, making it hard to interrupt the binge-watching for our own lives.

One reason that is quite all right with me is: It had me forgetting about the rotten weather outside for a few hours in the afternoon.

I hope the warming planet is providing Wrexham with pleasant weather for watching football matches at the world’s oldest international football stadium, The Racecourse Ground.

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Not Waiting

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Woke up yesterday morning to a winter wonderland.

It was sticky snow and continued to fall pretty much non-stop all day long.

The stickiness was creating some interesting viewing. One little branch could hold a surprising amount of snow.

The same thing was happening to the cable I strung between two trees to create a leash run for Delilah on the slope of our backyard. 

She never liked it when we connected her retractable leash to the pulley over her head on the cable. I think it scared her. Now that she’s no longer with us, I suppose I should take the thing down. I’m sure the tree trunks would appreciate not having that constant pressure on them.

As soon as I finished feeding the horses in the morning, I decided to plow the snow off the driveway in hopes of taking advantage of the daytime warmth to melt new snow that was falling. For the most part, the plan worked as I’d hoped. At least the bottom layer hadn’t frozen solid yet, so that was a plus.

There was so much snow stuck in tree branches that warming daytime temperatures caused large amounts to fall out of the trees and mess up the freshly cleaned pavement.

Because the snow was sticky, I resorted to a fair amount of hand shoveling in areas where I couldn’t run the ATV at a good speed to get the snow to slide off the angled blade. That made for some heavy shovel strokes where the plow had rolled up big blocks of plowed snow.

Based on the weather forecast and the radar images of the precipitation spinning around the low-pressure center of the storm, I will get to do this all over again today! That’s okay. I was well aware of that likelihood as I toiled away yesterday. Everything I accomplished yesterday will be that much less snow I will have to deal with today.

I learned long ago –the hard way– that it doesn’t pay to wait until the very end of multiple-day snowfalls to start clearing snow. 

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Written by johnwhays

December 16, 2022 at 7:00 am

Winter Coat

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We might be receiving a coating of ice, sleet, and/or snow this week. The large winter storm impacting much of our country may or may not reach us. We are located in a county on the edge of all the areas lit up with alerts and warnings. Among the many uncertainties in predicting the exact path of winter storms, I am well aware of the possibility we will not escape some level of winter weather hassle.

I wasn’t aware of having thoughts about the coming weather when I paused with the horses yesterday to admire their winter coats. Swings can look so regal at times. 

She is the eldest of the herd, turning 28 in January. I’ve been told we increment the ages of the horses on January first, regardless of when they were foaled. At 28 in horse-years, her age compares to an 80-year-old human. I often view her as being the eldest mare of the bunch but there are plenty of times when she seems surprisingly youthful.

I took a close-up photo of Light’s winter coat. If it starts raining today they will appear much less fluffy. When they are dry like that, there is an urge to just bury your face against them and breath in their scent. The urge is not always acted upon since they are 1200+ pounds and might make unexpected quick maneuvers that don’t take into account the location of a person.

We are expected to move out of the way of our own accord as quickly as they do.

Funny how calming it is to stand among them even though the opportunity for instant chaos is always present. Yesterday, Mia startled me by doing a full-body flinch in response to the sudden appearance of a loudly flapping barn pigeon. One second later, complete calm returns.

These four still show minimal tolerance for hands-on affection. There have been rare instances where they linger and appear to be enjoying a brush or hand scratches but it is much more common for them to step away as soon as we show signs of being too “handy.”

I keep hoping that will continue to slowly change. When it comes time to shed those winter coats, we’d love to help them all out with some thorough brushing. That’s getting ahead of things, however. Today, we will all need some winter coats that shed moisture if the incoming precipitation slides just a little farther east than predicted.

If things become too unruly around here, I may need to consider putting horses inside the barn in the stalls. That is NOT something that will be easy to do by myself, so I’m hoping the horses will simply take advantage of the overhang and avoid getting too wet and cold.

Wish us luck.

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Written by johnwhays

December 13, 2022 at 7:00 am

Busted Tree

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In my post on Sunday, I mentioned it was windy over the weekend. Yesterday morning, I found a small dead tree had tipped across one of our trails. Later in the afternoon, we discovered a larger tree had busted off on a different trail. High winds tend to bring down more than just small branches around our property.

Maybe the portion of the trunk that had been chewed up by some scavenger became the weak spot, as it snapped off right in the middle of that gaping wound. Regardless, the upper portion is caught in other trees and will need to be dealt with using the chainsaw.

There are currently four other trees in our woods, one smaller and two larger, that are similarly hung up. I have multiple opportunities to practice using the knowledge I gained watching professionals bring down much larger “widow-makers.”

Our “vertical firewood storage” is looking to be cut up and split, whether I want to do it right now or not.

Overnight Sunday we were visited by a little thunder and lightning along with what sounded like decent rainfall on the roof and skylight. Yesterday morning it was hard to tell any precipitation had fallen by the looks of things on the ground. Luckily, by evening the precipitation on the radar looked much more widespread with a potential of extended duration.

By dinnertime, the deck was actually wet from falling rain. Cyndie successfully got a rain cover on Mia to give her an edge in fending off a chill overnight. It would be just great if gentle rain like we were getting would last for several days.

That would give me more justification for putting off the chainsaw challenge I’m not fired up to tackle.

We have a plan in mind to do some much easier chainsawing behind Cyndie’s perennial garden where we found an eight-foot oak tree that is being smothered by junk trees. Actually, they are more like overgrown bushes than they are trees. In cutting down those nuisances we’ll open a lane behind the garden to continue the last distance for our perimeter trail along our property border.

The length from the west end of the north loop trail to behind the shop garage is so congested with wild growth that we have just taken to the driveway over the last ten years. Clearing that section will be a lot of work but I’ve wanted to create a path there for a long time, so it will be a very rewarding effort for me.

Not that bringing down busted widow-makers and cutting them up isn’t rewarding. Opening up a trail though, offers endless appreciation ever after with each successive stroll.

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Written by johnwhays

October 25, 2022 at 6:00 am

Swift Switch

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We were not expecting to wake up to such a wintery scene yesterday morning as the one that greeted us as darkness faded enough to reveal whiteness covering our deck.

Ever one to playfully re-interpret reality, before Cyndie opened her eyes, I told her that it didn’t rain overnight like we had expected. The early dose of measurable snowfall made about the same impression on our Japanese silver grass as it did on us.

It felt like a great day to stay in bed a little longer than usual and be warm under covers but duty called and we dug boots from deep in the closet, spilling a pile of things out in the process, and took Delilah for a walk before feeding the horses.

Speaking of horses, yesterday we had a visit from the nutritionist from This Old Horse who measured each of our Thoroughbred mares and issued a pleasing assessment that they all looked really, really good and healthy.

They have gained weight as hoped. We’ve been giving Mix an extra serving of feed pellets per day and we will begin doing the same with Mia to keep them on track toward a goal of optimal robustness. Mia, especially, could use a bit more body fat to cope at this time of year. She was pretty shivery at the start of the day. We are going to get a moisture-wicking blanket for her to help during these in-between weeks of cold precipitation.

Their winter blankets would be a bit much at this point. She just needs a raincoat.

Mix likes using mud for a covering. She rubbed her face firmly to paint her cheeks thoroughly and looked proud of her appearance after she stood up again.

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By the end of the day the snow had disappeared and this morning there are areas of blue sky overhead. We are feeling a new urgency about finishing a few projects that require we be able to see the ground, including one that involves digging dirt before it freezes.

We also still need to shut down and pull the pump from our landscape pond. It looked strange to see the water flowing with everything covered in snow. I pulled a snow shovel out to clear the steps yesterday morning, feeling it was way too soon to be doing so.

Time marches on. We are having our grief over Pequenita’s passing poked by continuing to find her toys tucked under or behind furniture. Even a dust bunny of cat hair becomes a tear-jerker at this point. Thank you to all who have conveyed your support. We truly appreciate the love. ❤️

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Written by johnwhays

October 15, 2022 at 10:09 am

Advance Preparation

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While people in Florida have been preparing in advance for the threat of hurricane Ian, yesterday we took a first step in preparing for cold weather that will be impacting our lives in the weeks and months ahead. We’ve been planning for a while to try something new to see if we could adjust our horses’ attitudes about the inside of the barn. The last time we put them inside the stalls during harsh weather they were none too happy about it. More precisely, downright panicky over it.

The weather yesterday morning served up added inspiration for executing our plan by presenting our first confirmed frost of the season.

Didn’t really see that coming. The air temperature was 37°F up at the house. That much colder down the hill, obviously.

On a perfectly sunny morning, we opened access to the barn to let the horses freely explore on their own initiative while we lingered nearby to provide a calming presence. With the four stalls all open and stocked with food and water, they had a chance to come inside and check out the entire space or step in a stall for a nibble, yet they could also go right back outside whenever they wished.

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There was plenty of apprehension and a few instances of being startled but overall they behaved as well as we hoped and inspired us to continue the exercise many more times in the days ahead. It’s a little akin to having four bulls in a china shop to have them loosely meandering in the cramped space around the stalls. Mix was the only one to figure out there was something to eat in the stalls and grabbed a mouthful of feed before quickly darting back outside to munch. Then she came back in and repeated the routine a couple times.

Any quick movement from one horse triggers all the others to follow suite which is a little nerve wracking when suddenly they all have to make it through a narrow door at once.

They were obviously unsure about what we were up to and wary about the strange access we had granted. We are hoping their uncertainty will diminish with future iterations of the drill. Eventually, we will want to get them used to coming inside during darkness since that is often the situation when we end up bringing them in during stormy or super cold winter weather.

As often as possible in the days ahead, we hope to allow them to come and go as they please inside the barn in hopes of creating and strengthening feelings of comfort with being in the stalls.

Back when we had the Arabian horses our experience was completely different. Those four would line up and beg to be allowed in during nasty weather and seemed thrilled to each have their own protected spaces with unchallenged access to food and water.

I’m not expecting to achieve a change to that level from our rescued Thoroughbreds, but just getting to a point where they don’t show signs of triggered PTSD when we bring them inside during bad weather will be a great relief.

I like being prepared in advance, just in case we experience any bitter storms this winter.

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Written by johnwhays

September 28, 2022 at 6:00 am

Twice Blessed

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I arrived home yesterday, shortly after noon, and found everything in such great shape I could hardly fathom our good fortune for having found our latest house/animals sitter. Not only does she provide excellent care for our horses, dog, and cat, she cares for our home in every way. I swear it was cleaner when I walked in yesterday than when we left it last Thursday.

She brings in our mail and hauled our trash bins up from the end of the driveway. We checked in with her on Sunday night when we learned there was a tornado warning and she was already aware and waiting downstairs with Delilah.

Everything down at the barn looked great. We’ve been watching and treating an open wound on Mia’s leg that I thought still looked bad so I tried to get a picture to send to Cyndie for her review. Mia did everything she could to foil my attempts.

The good news is that those with better knowledge than us about this kind of thing have a more positive opinion of the progress. Someone is going to stop by to apply more salve to assure things keep going in the right direction.

From the looks of the property, that storm threat the other night didn’t bring much in the way of wind or rain. It is very dry and the prediction is for it to be hot and continued dry for the rest of the week. That’s not very conducive to the main concern I have right now about working on the gravel edge of our new asphalt driveway.

I only have two days before I’m scheduled to head back up to the lake for some biking in the woods. I’m holding onto the possibility that I won’t be working too hard here prior to that departure.

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Written by johnwhays

August 2, 2022 at 6:00 am

Nature’s Best

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Stormy skies can be a scary thing for some people but rainclouds also provide the backdrop for one of nature’s best spectacles. The weather pattern yesterday was a little chaotic with many periodic episodes of rain rolling by amidst hours of otherwise sun-bathed summer scenes.

It was the perfect recipe for a rainbow and that is precisely what we got.

Another highlight of the day involved multiple viewings of videos captured when Joni Mitchell surprised the world by showing up at the Newport Folk Festival. What a triumph at 78 years of age, after her brain aneurysm in 2015.

Joni is another one of nature’s best.

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Written by johnwhays

July 29, 2022 at 6:00 am

Missing Out

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Now that we are back at home, I don’t have access to television coverage of the Tour de France bike race. I decided to focus on other projects yesterday and headed outside to move lawn furniture in preparation for mowing the grass that is overdue to be trimmed. The dew point temperature was high and the grass was very wet. I was going to need to wait for dryer conditions later in the day.

I decided to fill the time by cleaning up the two sections of asphalt that didn’t get removed by the excavators. Between the shop garage and the house, the old asphalt was still in good enough shape that they can overlay new on top of it. I spent much of the day pulling grass and weeds from the cracks and cutting back the sod away from the edges.

I also did a deep sweeping with a push broom to remove all debris.

While working on all that, thunderstorms started blossoming almost directly overhead. When it thundered nearby I pulled out my phone and checked the radar. Sure enough, the green/yellow/red blotches were materializing right on top of us.

Delilah and I headed back inside just as the intensity of pouring rain started to peak. The lawn was not going to dry out any time soon.

Being stuck indoors, I could have easily checked out the bike race online, but I didn’t even think of it. I finished reading the news and closed my eyes for a ten-minute nap. When I came to again the sun was shining bright. That allowed me to take Delilah out for her noon walk, where we stop by the barn to give Mix a little mid-day feed of extra nutrition.

The dog and I only made it part way through the woods when it started to rain again.

Back in the house we went. I ate lunch and waited until I could get back outside to finish putzing around the upper driveway.

It took until 2:00 in the afternoon for the weather to stabilize and the precipitation end. At the end of the day, around the time I was turning in for the night, I thought to check on the race. I missed out on several incidents with the Jumbo-Visma team, including the yellow jersey crashing.

I can just imagine the heightened alarm of commentators Phil Ligget and Bob Roll describing the drama as it unfolded.

At least I won’t miss anything today as it is a rest day for the competition. My attention will be on a certain paving company’s expected arrival and whether the grass is drying enough for me to mow.

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Written by johnwhays

July 18, 2022 at 6:00 am

Slowly Advancing

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I love slow-motion replays. When I was little, I wanted so badly to be able to perform an athletic maneuver in slow motion while playing football in the yard. The closest we ever came was playing in the winter in deep snow surrounded by the padded insulating layers of our snow pants and jackets. We didn’t fall any slower but the landings were softer. It was easier to pretend we were moving in slow motion.

Watching radar images of advancing thunderstorms is a different version of slow motion. We can see it coming, but can’t do anything about the ultimate timing of arrival. It’ll get here when it gets here… if it doesn’t use up all the energy before then. My favorite MPR weather blog pointed out a whopping 86°F dew point in Iowa yesterday afternoon that combined with a 90°F temperature to create a heat index temperature of 121°!

That seems like the kind of extreme heat that could cook up some impressively stormy weather.

Yesterday morning at our place felt rather otherworldy. We walked out into a landscape that looked like we no longer had any neighbors. Our high dew point temperature was making it feel remarkably tropical. There were so many droplets falling from the tree leaves it sounded like it was raining in the woods. A thick fog was obscuring the view of anything beyond our property lines.

Days like this strain my senses to reconcile how dramatically different it is here during the frozen desolation of winter. I don’t tend to think about the changes between those two extremes as happening in slow motion, but obviously, the transition takes months.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about another thing changing in slow motion. It came to my attention via some television programs that included scenes of life in Europe in the 1930s and the early episodes of fascist intimidation. It is hard for me to imagine what that was like in light of the knowledge of where it led and the ultimate atrocities that transpired. It makes me want to shout at those people in history to not let it happen.

It causes me similar discomfort to witness rhetoric and animosities happening in the present day that has an eery similarity to 1930s Europe. There are moments when I experience the uncomfortable sense that I am living during the beginnings of a slow-motion transition away from democracy and acceptance toward an intolerant and authoritarian political philosophy.

The politicization of the US Supreme Court feels so wrong and shows no signs of reversing course. The long game being played by those who sought to reverse the law allowing women to choose to have an abortion by electing a president who would appoint judges to achieve their goals is very much a version of slow motion.

It disturbs me to witness the slow-motion trends happening in the present given the outcomes of authoritarian intolerance that played out multiple times throughout the world in the past.

It’s a jarring contrast to the innocence of my dreams of slow-motion leaping and diving in real-time when I was a kid.

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Written by johnwhays

July 6, 2022 at 6:00 am