Relative Something

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

Autumn Ambiance

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dscn5204eI stepped outside to search for some fall scenery to photograph after I got home from work yesterday and was rewarded well beyond my expectations. It helps to never grow too accustomed to the beautiful surroundings we enjoy here.

It would be a shame to ever take this gorgeous place for granted.

The key factor yesterday was that it wasn’t raining. There was actually some blue sky visible. With a high pressure system moving in, we are hoping to for several dry days in a row. It is likely to deliver a dose of our best of autumn weather.

dscn5208eMany of our trails are developing a carpet of fallen leaves that provide a crunch when you walk. More importantly, they are filling the air with the unmistakable scent of the season. When I walk toward the pastures and pop out of the trees, the horses show signs of wondering what huge creature is making all that racket.

Just this huge creature, is all.

When I got down to our Rowcliffe Forest Garden Labyrinth, the sunlight was getting low. Cyndie had recently mowed and weeded the labyrinth, which gave it a well-tended glow anyway.

I walked to the far side and paused to stare at the beauty all around me. I was looking away from the entrance for the shortest of moments, and when I turned back around I was startled by the sudden silent presence of a lone young deer happily standing nearby.

It was as if it had magically materialized in the spot. I realized right away that it was totally unaware of me standing there. When it stepped through our fence and walked into the pasture to graze, I stealthily moved to a rock nearby and lifted my camera to capture the scene in video…

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Written by johnwhays

September 27, 2016 at 6:00 am

Coop Foundation

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Just in case we someday get chickens, I have continued to chip away at a snails pace to design and construct a homemade coop out of mostly found materials. As of this weekend, I have now completed the foundation posts and laid the first floor.

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I’ve reached the point where I should probably commit to the floor plan and figure out how I’m going to build the walls, including the desired doors and windows. The roof is already figured out, as I intend to make it very similar to the one I constructed for the wood shed. The roofing panels are one of the few things we chose to buy for the project.

Most of the lumber for this coop is coming from pallets and shipping crates I have salvaged from the day-job. It’s a benefit for both parties, since the material needs to be removed from our warehouse due to limited storage space.

The foundation posts are from old fencing that was removed shortly after we moved here. Having the coop up on stilts will keep me from needing to sandbag it in protection against the unrelenting downpours that have been turning our soil to soup this year in this new climate we seem to be facing.

The progress of getting the floor in place is a nice milestone, but based on past behaviors, it’s going to be a while before I achieve the next step. There is a lot of uncertainty about construction detail that I need to resolve before I go throwing up walls willy nilly.

That, and the fact that I have yet to settle on an actual design for where doors and windows will be, and how I will construct them.

Details, details.

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Written by johnwhays

September 26, 2016 at 6:00 am

Boot Treatment

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Last Christmas, Julian gave us a gift of a two-step “hydrophobic” water-proofing spray. I didn’t use it right away because I wanted to wait for warm weather before applying it on my boots. With the end of summer looming, I finally got around to treating my most oft-worn work boots.

img_1704eThe first-step spray made my freshly cleaned and dried boots look almost brand new. The second coat created a chalky, uneven finish. It was difficult to get an even coat without over-applying. The front edge was looking too wet with product, so I didn’t spray more, but after it dried a bit, there was little chalkiness there.

A day later, after just a short walk in the boots, it appeared the crease lines where the boot flexes became breaks in the new chalky coating. Luckily, that didn’t seem to make any difference in the hydrophobic properties of the new coating.

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Certainly, the canvas portion of the boot was much more resistant to soaking up the moisture of dew when I walked through our grass in the morning, but the vinyl edges didn’t look all that much different.

I showed off the results in a snapshot and video for Julian and he asked how the new coating was handling mud and manure.

dscn5201I think I’m going to need to apply another coat. That challenge with that will be getting the boots clean enough again to receive the application.

I realize now that the biggest cause of the delay in getting around to using this gift wasn’t the weather. It was finding a time when the boots would be clean and dry.

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Written by johnwhays

September 25, 2016 at 10:09 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Newer Tricks

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Our dear Delilah is getting another year older and we are looking at adding some newer tricks to her repertoire, like behaving well around other dogs and not showing her fangs and snapping at others unprovoked. Wouldn’t that be nice?

img_ip1717eI don’t know if we will ever get around to convincing her not to bark at thunder or bolt off in the direction of gunshots, but at least those involve pretty obvious and relatively infrequent triggers.

Cyndie is trying out another training class at a pet store in Hudson in a pay-as-you-go plan for now. After 1 session, she reported that Delilah was an “angel dog” in a text on her way home, (a message which arrived to me as “ninja dog” after autocorrection).

The biggest opportunity right now is getting her to accept some guests that are living with us. George and Anneliese are here with their dogs while they are between homes. Our neighbors are moving to central Minnesota. For now, their dogs are behind baby gates and confined to the basement.

We are moving slowly and letting them know each other exist, but not having direct contact. We had all the dogs out on the back yard grass together yesterday, but each on a leash. They seem to be just fine about the general proximity.

I think it will be a heck of a trick to get Delilah trained to a level where we have control over her natural instinct to inflict her dominance over any other creature around her.

But it’s a goal.

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Written by johnwhays

September 24, 2016 at 9:05 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Bitter Discovery

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There is a tree beside the shop garage with a canopy that overhangs a significant portion of the roof. There is no mistaking that it is a nut-tree, because this time of year it starts dropping its fruit with a bang. If they hit just right, it can make a sound like a shot from a rifle. Even if they don’t hit just right, the clank is unpleasantly startling if you are close, and surprisingly loud if you are further away.

That initial report is followed by an amusing rattle as the seed pod rolls down the slant of the metal roof. You can hear them gaining speed as they approach the edge, where they then drop down to another metal roof that covers the entry door, before rolling off that surface to the ground.

The driveway in front of the garage is getting littered with nuts, so I decided to collect a few of them. I was under the impression that this tree was just like the many other nut trees on our property, butternut trees. Since the nuts of the butternut tree are known for having a good flavor, every fall I feel like we should be collecting them for use somehow.

We did take a crack at it the first year we were here, but while waiting for them to dry out, they got all funky and we threw them away. I wanted to try again. I encouraged Cyndie to start collecting them and look up ways to prepare them for consumption.dscn5203e

A day later she was asking me to look into it, because these didn’t look like the pictures she was finding for butternuts.

Sure enough, I quickly discovered these were not butternuts. This tree is a bitternut hickory, providing just the opposite of good flavor. I think it is funny that it took me this many years to figure out it was a different nut.

While researching a comparison of the two types of trees I stumbled upon an alarming detail about the butternut tree. It produces a toxin that can stunt growth or even kill certain susceptible plants in the vicinity of its roots.

Included in the list of susceptible plants: white pine and red pine.

Could that be what has been taking out our pines?

Plenty of the details match what we have witnessed in the last few years.

If I find out cedar trees can tolerate the toxin, that’s what I’d like to plant in place of those lost pines.

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Written by johnwhays

September 23, 2016 at 6:00 am

More Love

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Picking up where I left off yesterday, on the subject of love…

I had a moment —well quite a few moments, actually— of being overwhelmed by simultaneous competing demands on my attention at the day-job yesterday. In the midst of the crazy-making, I felt an urge to be standing in the energy of our 4 horses.

I think they were sending me love.

I made a mental note to get myself down with them when I got home from work, rain or shine. This region has been under siege by downpours of heavy rain lately. My late departure from the cities turned out to be mostly trouble-free, both from traffic and precipitation.

When I got within a mile of home, I spotted standing water in some of the farm fields. As I pulled into our driveway, I saw water running in our drainage ditch. We had obviously received a significant amount of rain just a short time before. Cyndie confirmed it had poured hard.

dscn5148eThe rain gauge contained 1.25 inches. The horses seemed entirely calm and collected with the situation. I needed to dig out a run-off route that had filled in and caused water to flow where we don’t want it to go.

Working there in the paddock put me right where I wanted to be among the herd. Legacy was particularly friendly and approached me to connect in a way that seemed a little uncharacteristic of him.

I think he knew it was just what I was hoping for.

Standing with them, breathing, loving, and feeling loved.

Horse medicine for what was ailing me.

I loved it.

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Written by johnwhays

September 22, 2016 at 6:00 am

Trying Not

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I’m trying not to succumb to the outrage. Outrage may well be deserved, but it doesn’t serve me well. I have to choose a different path. I strive to avoid getting my feathers stuck in the tar of controversial opposing opinions, but maybe venting about some of the insanity will bring about an inspiration to counter the inherent despair.

Does any of this make sense?

How did Wells Fargo bank get away with years of creating bogus accounts without customers’ consent?

How did the Sugar Association get away with paying off Harvard scientists?

How do political campaigns succeed by only focusing on the perceived bad things about other candidates without providing any substance of their own in ads?

How did we get to a point where there are only two unpopular primary candidates for President of the United States?

How do people feel comfortable publicly supporting a candidate who demonstrates such contemptible characteristics?

Why do people allow religious ideology to lead them down a path of choosing to injure and kill others?

What if creative people like Lennon & McCartney were able to write songs about peace and love for all of the world to hear?

What if that made all the difference?

All you need is love.

Love is all you need.

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Pequenita consoling me while I distract myself with word games… That’s love.

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Written by johnwhays

September 21, 2016 at 6:00 am