Relative Something

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

Nature’s Fireworks

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Our lillies are popping open like Independence Day fireworks, …except without all the noise pollution.

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Written by johnwhays

July 3, 2020 at 6:00 am

So Little

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There are days when I want nothing more than to be standing again in the high Himalayas gazing at surrounding peaks and the valleys between.

These days I find plenty of solace in the wide-open spaces of our rural paradise where the variety of skies provides endless fascination.

It serves to remind me that we are so little and the universe so vast.

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Written by johnwhays

July 2, 2020 at 6:00 am

Bad Day

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This is the saga of Cyndie’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Really. It was the kind of day that no one deserves when they are already under the strain of grief from the recent death of their father and having just spent the prior day unexpectedly moving furniture and mopping basement floors after flooding rains.

It’s doubly frustrating when the trees outside keep toppling over from the abuses of wind and heavy rain.

We lost another oak tree near the backside of the house sometime in the last two days.

To soothe the pangs of angst banging around in Cyndie’s head, she opted for a craft project to occupy her time and talents, one that would create useful masks in benefit to others. Unfortunately, a problem developed with the bobbin and threading mechanism of her sewing machine which consumed hours, wasted yards of thread, and produced results opposite from soothing angst.

Next, she tried baking, also a love of hers which normally produces oodles of good feelings.

Walking the dog took too long for the tray of parmesan cheese toasts that were in the oven and the results were burned just enough that they couldn’t be salvaged. The delicious smell lingered long after the acrid tasting morsels had been discarded, providing an unwelcome reminder of what was lost.

Luckily, the two loaves of bread she followed up with came out perfect and tasted delicious. She offered a warm slice for me to test. Then, she took Delilah for a jaunt and I stepped outside to finish a chore. When I came back into the air-conditioned house, I found she had returned Delilah to the coolness indoors while she stayed outside to pick wild raspberries.

That is when I spotted the still-warm loaf she had just cut test slices from was now moved just to the very edge of the counter and there were delicate bites missing along the full length of one side.

Each attempt to get the better of her angst ended up providing nothing of the sort.

It had all the makings of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad type of day.

I’m thinking she might benefit from exorcising her demons by way of wielding a chainsaw toward a bunch of oak branches and cutting them to bits.

Take that you terrible, horrible, no good, eff of a day of failing sewing machines and baking disasters.

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Written by johnwhays

July 1, 2020 at 6:00 am

Big Impact

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In the end, the storm that started Sunday night with that quick downpour I wrote about in yesterday’s post reverberated throughout the rest of the overnight hours with multiple waves of thunder, lightning, hail, wind, and rain, and dumped so much water it overflowed our 6-inch rain gauges. We collected over seven inches of rain in about 18-hours. A little to our northeast, the official total was over nine inches.

That kind of precipitation in such a short amount of time tends to have a big impact. My commute in the morning yesterday passed flooded farm fields, filled ditches, and creeks flowing so far beyond their banks they looked like lakes. I precariously crawled my Crosstrek through two sections of local roads where water was flowing across the pavement and skirted around several medium-sized branches that had fallen onto one of the lanes.

While I was at work, Cyndie texted to report our power was out and water was puddling on our basement floor. The basement leak was a first in the time since we’ve been here. Time to check our gutters for clear and proper function.

News reports started to materialize depicting the significant impact of flooding in multiple communities near to us. Roads were closed, families evacuated from their homes, cars swept off the road and occupants found standing on their vehicle rooftops in the adjacent ditch. The way the valleys around local creeks flood after downpours brings to mind the historical flood I wrote about from when my ancestors lived nearby.

Surveying our woods after things calmed down yesterday, Cyndie found the boardwalk we created suffered some disruption.

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It’s just enough disturbance to frustrate us, but compared to a lot of other flood damage possibilities, not all that onerous.

I looked out the window and noticed an upturned stump I’d never seen before.

Luckily, that tree tipped away from our house and toward the woods.

Cyndie spent much of the afternoon moving furniture and mopping up in the basement. We still need to check the shingles for hail damage.

We are hoping no additional damage will be revealed and things will dry up before the next round of precipitation moves in.

A little peace and quiet would be a welcome change about now.

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Written by johnwhays

June 30, 2020 at 6:00 am

Dramatic Downpour

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Holy cow, did we ever get a dose of dramatic weather last night. The rain came down so fast and hard we had over 3-inches within about 45-minutes, much of it during the time when the weather service had declared a Tornado Warning for our county.

Cyndie’s garden went from being a little too dry to a lot too wet.

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We ate home-grown peas from the garden for lunch yesterday! No pesticides, no chemicals, no shipping required. Just pick, wash, and eat.

Everything in the garden got washed last night. The path from the house down to the chicken coop became a river.

Cyndie went out to close the chicken door when it seemed like there might be a break in the downpour intensity, but the hens weren’t in yet. They were huddled underneath the coop and didn’t want to move. The pause in the rainfall rate was short-lived. By the time she got geared up to make her dash, it was already picking up speed again.

When she eventually returned to the house, there was standing water in her boots and she was soaked through all the way to her underwear.

That was definitely one heck of a downpour.

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Written by johnwhays

June 29, 2020 at 6:00 am

Restorative Return

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We slept in our own bed again last night. It had been almost a week since Delilah had seen Cyndie and the reunion aligned entirely with the hypothesis that dogs perceive absence to be the equivalent of death and if a pack-mate returns, it is a miracle.

Cyndie reported that her gardens looked so thirsty for water that a few plants appeared within inches of demise. The labyrinth is a jungle. That will be our first project this morning. It deserves a double-team effort. I hope to get the rest of the grass mowed before predicted afternoon thunderstorms.

One highlight of yesterday was a call from our log home company announcing their plan to arrive tomorrow to begin preparing to reseal our logs.

Thank goodness.

We have seized the moment to eat breakfast in bed, catch up with our online accounts, and take in some favorite Sunday morning TV before setting out on our labors of the day.

Both the obituary and feature article for Cyndie’s dad made it into the Sunday StarTribune newspaper and she and her brothers continue their efforts to fill in the pages of the memorial website for Fred.

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fredfriswoldmemorial.com

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The beginning of life-after-Fred is unfolding with not-unexpected fits and starts, but we are underway as best as we are able. Not doing too bad, if I do say so myself.

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Written by johnwhays

June 28, 2020 at 9:17 am

Many Feels

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Time moves fast and time moves slowly even though it is always moving at the same pace. Our feelings are doing the same in the days immediately following Fred’s passing. Grief processes slowly, but comes on fast and furious in waves. Luckily, laughter comes just as fast. The Friswold family has plenty of laughs. In fact, I would say they are predominantly laughs.

Cyndie and I have been sleeping at her parent’s house –I hesitated writing that, avoiding the change to referring to it as her “mom’s house”– along with Barry and Carlos. Other immediate family have been showing up throughout each day and we have enjoyed the trials and tribulations of crying and laughing our way through the essential steps of what all families face after a death.

Hugging. If only we could hug all the precious people who have been stopping by with gracious gifts of sustenance and well-wishes, and more importantly, the shared sorrow of loss at the thought of no longer being able to hear Fred laugh again.

Curses to the coronavirus.

I truly hope we will be spared the tragedy of inadvertently experiencing a rash of COVID-19 spread among any of us in our moments of weakness when we give in to our emotions and reach out to touch each other, be it ever so briefly.

We’ve got the obituary figured out and submitted to run in Sunday’s Startribune newspaper and been in communication with the reporter who is also writing a feature remembrance.

Much energy is underway to populate a specific website we have created for Fred. See Fred Friswold Memorial.

Planning some manner of memorial service or celebration of life is proving maddeningly difficult under the current health constraints of the pandemic.

So many feelings all at the same time. Very happy-sad.

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Written by johnwhays

June 27, 2020 at 11:10 am

Incredible Person

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There are some things I find difficult to write about, even though writing my thoughts is what I am most often inclined to do. It’s been on my mind for some time that I should consider writing something to honor my father-in-law, Fred Friswold, but the task seemed too daunting. How could I do justice to such a heroic specimen of a human being? Especially when I know some of his flaws.

Well, in the end, I understand that attempting to do justice counts about as much as actually achieving it. And, his flaws are few and rather frivolous.

I’ve already written about the fact I won the jackpot in the in-law lottery. That tells much about the way I feel to have had the privilege of being granted the highest honor of becoming a member of the Friswold family.

Fred Friswold was an incredible person. Often, the first thing people think of about Fred is the robustness of his greetings and the reverberating heartiness of his laugh. It seemed an incredible injustice that his voice was taken from him in the last months of his life. However, not once did I witness him give in to self-pity or anger over the loss.

Suddenly we found ourselves needing to quiet down and look to him in order to hear what he had to say. It became an endearing thing to process the sound of his whispers. It has made the sound of his raucous pronouncements and booming guffaws all the more precious in our memories.

In the absence of my own father, who died shortly after I married Cyndie at my ripe old age of 22, it was Fred who became my reference for figuring out how to be a husband and a dad. It didn’t make things easy for me. When I struggled to navigate challenges that required repair around the house, realizing I didn’t know how to fix things the way my dad did, Cyndie would suggest we do what her dad did. Look in the Yellow Pages.

The man knew his limitations. Not that he didn’t tackle a few of his own do-it-yourself projects. He painted their house once. And, accidentally, a little of the neighbor’s house next door, too, using a sprayer. He must have liked spray painting. Late in life, he enlisted my labor to do a quick job of painting a new baseboard around their deck. Wouldn’t take long. He had all the stuff necessary for the job.

A can of spray paint. I spent 90-minutes taping up newspaper to protect the light-colored siding from the dark brown deck for the 10-minute job of painting.

One thing Fred never did was make me feel like I didn’t belong or wasn’t meeting his expectations, despite his high regard for academic achievement and career accomplishments. I didn’t receive the frequent queries seeking to hear what the 5-year plan was. Maybe a few “What did you do for your country today?” queries, but if my answer was that I rode my bike a respectable distance, he found a way to work with that.

Of course, we are absolutely heartbroken that his life has reached its end, but it pains us even more that it has happened at a time of the pandemic when we are unable to gather the throngs who also knew and loved him in order to process our shared grief.

Fred Ravndal Friswold was a truly incredible person for whom my words are insufficient to adequately describe.

He was an endearingly loud person who went out in a whisper.

We will, and do already, miss him in the extreme.

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Written by johnwhays

June 26, 2020 at 7:36 am

He’s Free

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In Loving Memory

Fred R. Friswold

21 Jan 1937 — 24 Jun 2020

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Written by johnwhays

June 25, 2020 at 6:00 am

Return Appearance

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It is challenging to chronicle the uncertain timing of the otherwise inevitable end of the life of a family member. In-person, a question often lingers over whether the latest departure salutation might actually be the last goodbye. Cyndie and her brothers have been rotating days of tending to their father in his hospice-care phase of life for several months. The task is now being transferred to professionals at a nearby hospice facility, unfortunately, under the current constraints of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

It appears we have reached timing now measured in a matter of days, possibly even hours.

A hospice facility is a precious place. I had a great experience at a home where my mother spent her final days and our family was able to gather around her. It breaks my heart that we will be unable to do that for Cyndie’s dad. Visitation is very limited to protect everyone from the coronavirus.

I scanned some of my past “Words on Images” posts to see if something might grab me in this moment and chose “Appearance” from just about a year ago.

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Sending F.R.F. to a higher plane with beams of love and peacefulness…

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Written by johnwhays

June 24, 2020 at 6:00 am