Relative Something

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

Writers Know

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Writers know what it’s like to experience a brilliant barrage of thoughts while toiling away on some repetitive task, mentally composing a compelling essay of significant import, only to find it all has collapsed into simple drivel when finally seated with pen in hand or keyboard at the ready.

This morning, all I have left to offer you from yesterday’s hours of impressive insights are a few wisps of assurance that it likely would have been good reading, if I had captured the words in the moment. To my good pleasure, it did serve to entertain me while I muscled my way down our fence line, a foot at a time, cutting down the growth of grass and weeds that were swallowing the bottom wire and posts.

It’s possible that a key point in the evaporation of the wise and witty dialogue that was rolling along in my head occurred when I paused for a post-lunch rest in the hammock.

I remember gazing up at the spectacular old maple from which I was suspended and snapping a picture. Shortly after that, my consciousness was swallowed by a nap. Not just any nap, but the unrivaled bliss of the summer afternoon slumber in the weightlessness of fabric hanging between two glorious trees.

Yesterday’s mental essay? You’ll have to trust me on its brilliance. If it was all that worthy, I figure it will show up again someday when I am prepared to adequately capture it.

I’ll keep my eye out for it.

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Written by johnwhays

August 13, 2017 at 10:01 am

More Family

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Yesterday we enjoyed a visit with more family when my sister, Judy, and her daughter, Tricia, and kids stopped by for a dose of Wintervale that delightfully just kept on going, despite their intention to make it brief.

I treasure the opportunity to share the preciousness of idle time among our animals and strolling around our grounds. When the participants are as thrilled by what they find here as Cyndie and I are, it is both energizing and confirming. 

The experience is what I believe it to be. Rejuvenating. Inspiring. Mesmerizing.

The kids didn’t want to leave. I couldn’t blame them one bit.

There are chickens! The horses! They walked/ran the labyrinth, laid on the hammocks, split wood for a fire, made s’mores. We ate fresh-picked sweet corn and cooked burgers over the fire. What’s not to like?

The best part for me was sharing some custom time among the herd, just standing or sitting near the horses while they munched on sweet clover in the arena space. We pulled out the giant soccer ball for the horses, but it held little appeal compared to the greens at their feet.

As we stood observing, the horses eventually oriented themselves right in front of us, chomping away about as close as they could get. Coming from our previous snack of corn on the cob, we recognized that they were gobbling the grass with very similar motions and zeal.

Quietly hanging out with the horses is time I am able to enjoy every day, but drop-in guests rarely get the opportunity, with the inherent hazards of unexpected horse reactions and unfamiliar humans creating unnecessary risk. Cyndie offered a crash-course of safety instruction and the group was able to enter the horses’ space for some unscripted interacting.

Hunter was particularly appreciative of all the attention being lavished and he soaked up the scratches for all he was worth. The picture Tricia captured of Brooke’s kiss while Hunter closed his eyes is a wonderful depiction of the sentiments.

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Written by johnwhays

August 12, 2017 at 9:42 am

Possibly Related

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There was a rare gathering of my Hays siblings yesterday for dinner. Some people tell us there is a family resemblance. As we posed for our portrait, I said, “Do the Hays smile.” Someone asked what the Hays smile was.

I just stood there, smiling. It’s simple as that.

It was a wonderful treasure to be together again and share a meal.

I said we should do this every night. Elliott responded that it might be a bit much.

Why? We used to live together when we were young. I guess we could go to “our rooms” if we needed a break from too much family back then.

I am so very grateful to be in a family of siblings that get along really well. Mom and Dad did a pretty good job of raising us to get along with each other. And, they gave us that great Hays smile.

Do you see a family resemblance?

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Written by johnwhays

August 11, 2017 at 6:00 am

Disappearing House

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Two years ago, in the springtime, I mounted a bird house on the tall stump of a pine tree that had died, and then I took a picture of it.

Even then, two tiny volunteer tree sprouts can be seen making an appearance at the base.

When squirrels bury acorns, trees often follow. When oaks sprout, we are not in a hurry to remove them, even when they appear in locations that may not be ideal. Who doesn’t want more oak trees surrounding them?

The same can’t be said for the scourge of box elder, common buckthorn, and thorny American plum that overtake all the neglected spaces along property lines and ditches. When they try to spread their way into our managed grounds, they meet with swift action.

This is what two years of oak growth looks like when you let nature do its thing:

Where did the bird house go?

It is reaching the point where some serious pruning is warranted to convert this little oak shrub into a future healthy tree.

While I’m on the subject of trees, I will report a surprising turn of events for a lot of the long needle pine trees that were looking like goners last year. Many have produced an amazing effort to sprout green needles on almost all of the lower portions that looked completely dead last fall.

For the previous several years, the pines would try to sprout new growth on the dead-looking lower branches in the spring, but it proved futile in just a matter of weeks afterward.

This summer they seem to be enduring just fine. Temporary reprieve? Or, signs of hope for a future full-recovery?

We’re going to imagine it a step toward recovery. It is helping me to understand the amazing resilience of growing things, and justifies my tendency to be slow in making decisions about giving up on plants without giving them the potential of another season to get over whatever might be dragging them down.

Maybe soon I will be able to remove the bird house from the stump and hang it from a branch in a new maturing oak tree in our front yard. Not that I think that pine stump will be making a comeback anytime in the future.

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Written by johnwhays

August 10, 2017 at 6:00 am

A First

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Someone laid an egg. Yesterday afternoon, I found a cute little egg in one of the nest boxes, right where it’s supposed to be. It’s our first. Another milestone to record on the great migration to rural life for us.

Unfortunately, Cyndie wasn’t even here to enjoy it, as she has taken the dog and made a brief weekday visit to the lake with our friend, Melissa and her two daughters.

Maybe that’s why the chicken felt calm enough to lay an egg. Delilah hasn’t been around. The rabbits seem to have figured it out, as they have been making themselves a lot more visible than usual during the last two days.

When I got home from work on Monday, Pequenita seemed to be completely confused about the missing canine. The poor thing seemed extremely wary about not being able to see the looming threat that she has grown accustomed to expecting.

It made her noticeably uneasy. I carried her to the spot where Delilah’s crate is usually situated, in hopes of communicating the message that the dog isn’t here, but it seemed to upset her even more for some reason.

They behave a lot like the cat and mouse of the cartoon “Tom & Jerry,” so maybe, despite the appearance of animosity between them, there is a bond that has grown to mean something special. Although they seem to be constantly at odds with each other, the truth is, they complete one another.

Pequenita is anxious over the disappearance of her other half.

I wonder if she would be interested in a cute little egg as a temporary surrogate.

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Written by johnwhays

August 9, 2017 at 6:00 am

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Ten Days

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It appears that I can’t control my tongue, and it is becoming very irritating. Is it possible to eat our own teeth?

If you can put those two thoughts together, you probably already know what I have on my mind today.

Yesterday, after eating breakfast, my tongue detected an anomaly in one of my bottom front teeth. It was small enough to be confusing over whether it was a protrusion of something stuck between my teeth, or a hollow where a piece of tooth had chipped away.

After several futile attempts to assess the situation, logic indicated it must be a small chip in the tooth.

Where did it go? Did I eat it? Wouldn’t it have been crunchy?

I suppose it was small enough to be lost in the yogurt and cereal I was eating, without ever getting caught between the other chewing teeth, but the indentation from whence it came feels like a canyon to my tongue. It looks like it was a very small piece, but it feels like it was large.

Now I can’t keep my tongue off the rough edge that resulted. It’s a terrible unconscious obsession. A dentist friend of mine once told me it takes about ten days for our tongues to accept changes in the teeth before they finally give up and stop working at them.

Right now, ten days seems like an eternity. I looked up my next regularly scheduled dentist appointment and discovered it is for the middle of December. That seems like two eternities away, but this little chip honestly doesn’t warrant and special trip to the dentist to have her grind away the roughness.

My tongue just needs to learn faster. I am aware that products (like a wax) exist to protect the tongue from broken teeth, but then my tongue would spend just as much unconscious energy trying to get used to the wax.

It (my tongue) just needs to stop pushing against the ragged edge. How hard can that be?

I wonder if I can get a band-aid to stick to the tip of my tongue.

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Written by johnwhays

August 8, 2017 at 6:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Sand Play

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We had fun in our giant sand box yesterday. The round pen has not had consistent attention this summer which has given the grass a chance to become a little too prominent a feature. The horses get confused over whether they are supposed to be exercising or eating.

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The Grizzly and our snazzy ABI grader do a good job of converting the appearance from a look of neglect to one of groomed and ready to go.

Separating the uprooted grass bundles from the sand takes a little more manual effort. It’s the kind of activity that draws the attention of the chickens, who assume we must be scratching for insects they can eat. Cyndie tried to explain to them that the roots were not worms, but they just stared at her like a bunch of chickens, don’t you know.

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.gaz

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The gazebo is ready. The round pen is ready. We might as well hold some workshops, eh?

Might as well.

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Written by johnwhays

August 7, 2017 at 6:00 am