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

Archive for May 2017

Delicious Program

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I want to shout from the stove top about a brilliant three-part program PBS has dished up, “Food – Delicious Science.” It is a thrilling science story of the food on our plates and the physics, chemistry and biology that lies hidden inside every bite.

The hosts, Michael Mosley and James Wong, are wonderful, both to watch and listen to as they guide this exploration of the fascinating details about the food we eat and how our body reacts to it. Their energy for the topic is infectious and their way of describing the complex science of our everyday eating experiences comes across as a comfortable conversation with a friend.

When they taste things that cause a reaction —both good and bad— their expressions convey the experience so well, I almost need to wince or sigh right along with them.

If you eat food, and I’m betting that you do, this program is worth watching. It is informative, entertaining, inspiring, educational, and will absolutely enhance the entire experience of preparing and consuming the nutrition and fuel we need to thrive.

Be forewarned, viewing this program just might generate an insatiable urge to eat something delicious.

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Buying Time

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By the grace of a friendly and helpful next door neighbor, we have bought some time to find out whether the engine in our lawn tractor is worth repairing or not. If not, we need to buy a replacement mower. In the mean time, we have been granted the use of an old John Deere 318 that burns a little oil to cut our grass while awaiting the ultimate solution.

I was getting desperate. Some of the areas that hadn’t been cut at all when our engine failed back on May 19th were getting so tall I was worried the borrowed mower wouldn’t be enough for the job. Alas, my fretting was unwarranted.

This Deere was up to the task. The weak link in the system was the novice operator. I struggled to get used to the biggest difference between this one and ours: a lever on the console for forward and reverse control, versus simple foot pedals.

I breathed a sigh of relief when, having mowed until light faded, I ended without incident.

Exciting as it was to be able to cut the grass again, it paled in comparison to the thrill over reports from visiting Elysa and Ande about their surprising interaction with the chickens. Well, one of the Barred Plymouth Rock chickens, in particular.

As they explained it to me, Elysa crouched down among the chickens and the friendly bird hopped up on her knee. Then it kept going and hopped up on her shoulder.

When the rest of the chicks wandered away, Elysa tried walking –bent over for her passenger– to keep the loner from getting left behind. Much squawking ensued.

I guess we’ve done something right in the realm of socializing our birds to interaction with humans. I sure hope they are adept at figuring out the difference between friend and foe when it comes to non-humans.

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Written by johnwhays

May 31, 2017 at 6:00 am

Resume Ranching

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It was a pleasing relief to return home to find our ranch-sitter, McKenna, hadn’t needed to deal with any missing chickens over the holiday weekend. Delilah needed a prompt from her to get up and greet us, but Pequenita practically molested me with affection when I walked in the bedroom.

Cyndie gave the horses a few moments of massage and in a flash we were back in Wintervale Ranch mode.

Once again, before departing for home, we dug up a few trillium plants to be transplanted into our woods.

In the past, we spread them out to several different areas, planting in groups of three. Most of those seem to be surviving, but not necessarily thriving. Yesterday, Cyndie agreed with my idea to put all nine of this year’s selection in one area, with the hope of establishing a little community of transplants.

In the two-and-a-half hour drive home, the plants took on a rather droopy appearance, but after getting them in the ground and adding a little water, they showed signs of perking up a bit.

After work today, I’m hoping to connect with a neighbor who might be able to provide a loaner lawn tractor so I can get grass cut at least one time while awaiting news on the status of our machine.

I stopped by the shop where we took the mower last week, hoping to find out if they had looked at it yet. They hadn’t. I pleaded with the man behind to counter to sneak in a preliminary analysis for me, so I could know as soon as possible whether I needed to be ordering a new replacement, or not.

On Friday, upon arriving in Hayward on the way to the lake, we stopped at Coop’s Pizza for lunch. I told Cyndie that a guy who looked like the man I talked to at the repair shop had just walked in with a family group. As we were driving out of the parking lot, Cyndie read the name of the repair shop out loud.

My initial reaction was to think, “They have a shop up here, too?!”

No, she was reading the information off the door of the guy’s company SUV in the parking lot. That was all the evidence I needed to tell me my sense of recognition was right on.

I sure hope he and their crew will resume repairing today, and that I might get a call with an estimate. It would help me greatly as I resume ranching duties, joining Cyndie when I get home from work.

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Written by johnwhays

May 30, 2017 at 6:00 am

Lake Art

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On a partly sunny day, between rain showers that rolled over us at regular intervals, I wandered down to the dock to soak up some sun. I thought maybe I could collect enough rays to lightly toast the inside of my arm to dry out what is now a pretty fierce poison ivy rash.

I don’t think it did anything for the rash, but I pulled out my camera and played around with the speckled pattern of puffy white clouds reflected on the surface of the water.

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For landlubbers, I’ll garnish these with an image from the forest to bring us back to solid ground…

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Written by johnwhays

May 29, 2017 at 8:02 am

Other Views

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There used to be two pine trees above the pond fountain, but they were outgrowing the space available and not really thriving, so Cyndie’s parents had them cut down. In a moment of inspiration that is very familiar to me, they chose to leave a few feet of the stumps as pedestals. It’s a perfect spot for a couple of flowering plants.

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With the trees gone, I was able to capture a rare view of the “cabin” from the back side.

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I arrived to the house from that direction because I had been walking through some of the trillium carpeted woods that surround us. This forest is one that feels so perfect for me. There are other natural landscapes over the world that are spectacular, but these trees and all that comes with them resonate the most profoundly with my soul.

I must have spent a few past lives in places just like this. I know the smells and the sounds, the colors, the critters, and the majority of growing plants somewhere deep in the cells of my body.

There are many a days when I dream of what this area was really like when the first tribes of people were able to call this home, long before the time when logging on an epic scale ravaged the growth.

I’m particularly pleased with the “Wildwood” name this property holds. It couldn’t feel more appropriate.

The stroll that brought me through these trees had started down at the beach, below the front side of the house. Camera in hand, I walked onto the footbridge that crosses our little boat lagoon and looked out at the lake and up toward the lodge.

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These are both views I don’t usually capture. As leaves open, the sight lines will become more obscured. The views are no less spectacular, but the camera doesn’t come close to what the eyes perceive.

I will never take for granted how lucky I am to be able to visit this space in person, where I can see, smell, hear, and touch a natural environment to which my soul feels so emotionally attached.

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Written by johnwhays

May 28, 2017 at 8:20 am

Precious Getaway

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We are so lucky to have people who are willing and able to take care of our animals for enough time to allow us to get away to the lake place every so often. It is our Memorial holiday weekend in the U.S. and for the second time in three weeks, we are again up at the lake place.

This time, we are without Delilah. She stayed home to be with our very capable recent college graduate, McKenna. Two of Cyndie’s brothers are up here with kids, and her parents as well. We got the weekend off to a very festive start by venturing out to the Lost Land Lake Lodge for the Friday night fish fry.

The place was hopping and our server was a real charm. Food was perfect in every way and the family banter was wonderfully entertaining. It was almost enough to entirely purge the lingering mental distractions of the day-job, where business has gotten so good (busy) it’s getting annoying.

Before the night was over, I had already lost two completely different card games. It didn’t bother me one bit. The precious ambiance was all the victory I needed for putting me in my happiest of places.

A precious getaway is an amazingly priceless luxury. This one is certainly more than I deserve.

As it fills my cup to overflowing, I will send the extra love out to you and the world to distribute and amplify all that is good.

It’s the least one can do for a world that too often seems out of our reach to help.

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Coming Together

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I was keeping Delilah tied close to me while cleaning up around the paddock, partly to keep her out of trouble with the horses, but also because I don’t want her venturing to the full reach of the leash, scouting chickens. She seems to understand the drill.

After retrieving her from the kennel located behind the house, we walked along the back pasture fence line toward the chicken coop. I had already checked on the chicks earlier, so knew where to expect them. Keeping myself between the chicks and Delilah, we strode parallel to the coop where I stopped to put the memory card in the trail cam for the night.

She was appropriately curious, but not frantic over the presence of the birds. I doubt she will ever reach a point where she would let one of the birds walk into her space without attempting to grab it, but it feels nice to have her practicing a respectable level of calmness with them in view.

In the paddock, I had my attention on the task at hand, letting Delilah explore the immediate vicinity around me. When she stopped and stared, I looked up to find the chicks making their way over from the coop to join the horses for some short grass grazing.

Although separated by safe distances with Delilah restrained on the leash, it felt good to have us all coming together in the paddock. It was a hint of the ideal we wish could somehow come to be.

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Written by johnwhays

May 26, 2017 at 6:00 am