Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘planning

Perfect Weather

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I am visualizing perfect weather for a week of bicycling and tent camping. It could happen.

This morning I will hope to get the property mowed at the last minute so the grass shouldn’t be too long when I return to cut it again next Friday. This afternoon I will load up my bike and gear in the car and depart for a week of vacation.

This trip may not offer much chance to catch up on sleep, but I will have ample opportunity to take a mental break from the daily grind, and I will eat and laugh heartily with some very special like-minded cycling friends. This trip is a wonderful mental vacation because I don’t need to make any major decisions. The daily meals, the route, and the camping locations are all predetermined.

I just show up and ride. Oh, maybe I will waffle over what jersey to put on each day, but that’s about as complicated as it will get. Last night, I laid out gear and clothes while trying to imagine the usual routines of the week, in attempt to prepare for everything.

I would do myself a favor to now review the choices I made and divide it in half. I don’t think there has been a year where I ever needed everything I usually pack. Last year, I tried traveling lighter than my usual. This year, I would like to improve on that.

Just hoping the days near Lake Superior won’t complicate things. That massive body of water is a very effective air conditioner and can drop the temperature dramatically if the breeze flows from the direction of the lake. Warm clothes and packing light conflict a little when it comes to my wardrobe.

Over the years, I’ve heard tales of a wide range of essential items being forgotten by participants. I would like to avoid making an unplanned purchase of a critical item, so I will be working off a cheat sheet. Oddly, it seems I have filed away my master list from the many prior years I’ve done this trip.

Making a new list. I can remember to bring everything on my list, but did I remember to put everything I want on the list? Yeah, that’s the trick.

As long as I have my bike, both wheels, my cycling shoes and helmet, tent, sleeping bag, and pad, I’m good. Other than some clothes, the rest is all non-essential. I will bring my guitar this year, though, since the weather is going to be perfect.

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Written by johnwhays

June 16, 2017 at 6:00 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

DejaVu Again

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With less than a week until I leave for my umpteenth annual Tour of Minnesota bicycling and camping week, planning is well underway. Surprisingly, we are also in the midst of planning for coverage to assist Cyndie with life and ranch chores while she recovers from a surgery.

With a totally unexpected speed usually associated with emergency procedures, the office of the orthopedic surgeon initiated an accelerated series of appointments leading to repair of Cyndie’s shoulder on Tuesday, just three days before I leave for my trip.

They got her fitted with a special sling to be used for days after the procedure, and on her way home she was able to squeeze in the requisite pre-op physical. Cyndie will be back on pain meds and placed on the disabled list for ranch management activities for weeks after her surgery.

And I will be on vacation for a week. Good luck with that.

It’s a bit distracting, trying to take a break from the routine, while faced with the knowledge my wife is unable to fulfill her own role, let alone cover for my absence.

The solution: Family and friends.

We wouldn’t be where we are today without them. Thank you, in advance, to all who are volunteering to take a shift covering our needs of Cyndie-care and animal care this week while I try to keep hours at the day-job and then leave for a week of vacation.

You’ll just love the chickens!

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Written by johnwhays

June 11, 2017 at 9:07 am

Working Through

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Some chores don’t wait for nice weather, so we ventured out into the constant drizzle on Sunday to open space in our compost area, despite the inconvenience. Cyndie had moved the horses indoors out of the wet on Saturday night, which resulted in soiled wood shavings in their stalls at a time when we didn’t have space in the compost area.

Luckily, there is a spot next to the barn where we’ve been using composted manure and old hay to fill in a drop in the landscape. The area had been a too convenient runway for water drainage that was problematic. Bringing it back to level with the surrounding area will spread and slow water flowing from above.

Out came the Grizzly, after putting air in the leaky front tire, and the metal grate trailer for an increasingly muddier series of loads from the compost area. Very similar to working on moving innumerable bales of hay, as time goes by, the loads seemed to get heavier and heavier and I started to move slower and slower. Cyndie pushed back against my increasing moments of pause, with a goal of getting the job done as quickly as possible so she could get in out of the cold and wet.

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When she proclaimed we were down to just two loads remaining, I corrected her with the estimation of four loads. After I tried to take out a small load to assure my estimation would win, she suggested we could toss some of the last bits into the woods around the compost area, leading to an outcome of three loads completing the task. It was declared a tie.

We were wet, it was muddy, but we had worked through the nasty weather to accomplish a necessary chore. We now have open space for composting again.

And not a moment too soon.

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Written by johnwhays

May 23, 2017 at 6:00 am

Daylong Soaking

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In the hours that I had dreamed my friends and I would be enjoying the surrounding countryside from our bicycles, the atmosphere was crying cold tears. It was a cruel follow-up to the flash flooding we endured two days prior.

It rained and rained here yesterday. Sometimes waves of serious drops fell for a few minutes, but before and after them came a steady drool of H2O that mercilessly soaked an already over-saturated landscape.

Cyndie’s mud-swamped garden became more of a fountain of running water, moving her to proclaim the location a loss for her flowering vision.

We will contemplate a different spot for her dozens of perennial beauties, somewhere as eye-catching as that bend in the driveway, but not so directly in the line of drainage.

The afternoon lent itself to some serious power-lounging around the fireplace. I closed my eyes and happily entered dreamland on the couch, then woke up to do some virtual shopping and curious research on lawn tractors. I have found multiple ways to nurse along the used Craftsman tractor that we acquired with the purchase of this property four mowing seasons ago. I think it’s had enough.

I think the engine blew a gasket last Friday. Diagnosis and repair of this malady deserves someone more learned than me, and the time constraints I am facing. The grass cutting was only partially completed when the engine revved and the white smoke billowed. Growth is happening at maximum speed this time of year.

We’re gonna need a new mower fast. There is no shortage of water providing thirsty blades of grass with all they care to drink. The front end of our property needs mowing almost before I’ve finished the last rows at the back.

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Additional Steps

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You might think the title of today’s post refers to walking, after all the promotion we have done recently for our World Labyrinth Day event, but that’s just me being cute. The added steps to which I’m referring are in the realm of expanding the promotion of Wintervale Ranch and Retreat Center. We are slowly updating the pages of our Wintervale Ranch web site, and we have now launched into today’s world of social media.

If you are on Facebook, you can now follow Wintervale Ranch there, because we have our own page. That is where we will regularly share news on upcoming events and workshops.

Those of you willing and able could help us out in our quest to grow our online presence by “Liking” our page and sharing it with your Facebook world.

I’m told, this is how it works. We solicit others to like our page. Honestly, it feels a little contrived to me, but my sources have assured me this will be a familiar and accepted request to regular Facebook users. So, if it makes sense to you, we would love to grow a wide pool of followers from near and far.

“Relative Something” fans, do your thing…

And thanks, from Cyndie, me, and all of our animal family at Wintervale!

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Written by johnwhays

May 8, 2017 at 6:00 am

Reunion Planning

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A few posts back I was waxing nostalgic about the 70s and I think I failed to point out another aspect of my renewed interest in the good ol’ days. This coming summer will mark 40 years since my class graduated from high school in Eden Prairie, MN, and I have again volunteered to participate in planning our every-decade-whether-we-like-it-or-not event.

Some people loathe the idea of a high school reunion. I get that. I love class reunions, except for the part where I don’t get to visit with unique people I was fond of who don’t come because they loathe reunions.

There is also one other problem I have with reunions: The nights always wiz by in a blur that leaves me short of having talked in any depth with all of those who do show up.

I guess I could frame the missing classmates who skip out on the event as a positive, since that gives me fewer people to feel bad about not having had enough time to chat up by the end of the evening.

In my experience with reunions, like so many other things, the main event can tend to be anti-climatic. The preparation and anticipation are often where I get the most reward for time invested. A few of my life-long friends gathered last night for a planning meeting, and once again, I heard some hilarious stories from our youth. After all these years, I’m amazed there are still tales I’m hearing for the first time.

Plenty of them have me wondering how we ever survived the shenanigans.

Our planning committee has the significant details established. We settled on a date, location, and rough outline of a plan for the evening. The next biggest step is getting the word out. A decade ago, I pushed an attempt to reach every name on our list, which made for good adventure in sleuthing. Who doesn’t like a little game of following clues every once in a while?

Ten years later, I’m finding myself much less interested in playing. Maybe it is a result of seeing the futility of trying to reach people who loathe reunions. Why bother? It makes more sense to me now that we should direct our energy to those who want to come. All we need to do is make it easy for people to learn of our event.

We advertise.

I’m thinking we should try something like the zoo did with April the giraffe’s pregnancy. If you don’t know about April at this point, you are in the uninformed minority. (Google: April giraffe. I dare ya.)

We need to start with some outrageous objection to our reunion event that would cause it to be banned. Something salacious enough that news organizations would pick up on it and cause a stir. Then we resolve that, get the ban lifted, springboard off the attention with a GoFundMe campaign, and get some corporate sponsorship.

See why the planning part is so much fun?

Still, part of me really hopes some of my old classmates who have skipped every other reunion will discover an urge to come this time. We intend to make it easy to learn about our event for those people who choose to inquire.

Do your classmates a favor. Do the math yourself and every 10 years, check to see if your class is holding a reunion. Then tell the planners whether you will come or not. It’s a simple courtesy that I know will be greatly appreciated.

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