Relative Something

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

Archive for June 2018

Breezes

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lake
breezes
wafting
leaves
roiling
serenading
voicing
rejoicing
flora
floating
singing
nature’s
amelioration

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Written by johnwhays

June 30, 2018 at 8:34 am

Overload Warning

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Cyndie and I finally got around to accomplishing a dinner date we had talked about way back at the beginning of the month, around the time of her birthday. Now my birthday has come and gone, and last night we made it down to our nearby fine dining destination restaurant, Shady Grove, to celebrate.

Despite my usual habit of choosing fish, I found myself entranced by a choice of the bison ribeye, instead. I wasn’t disappointed.

It being a special occasion, we allowed for a little indulgence after the meal.

Warning! Warning! Sugar overload ahead!

Chocolate, caramel, sea salt —chilled. I had two bites more than I deserved, and we brought a third of it home. I think I can hear it calling out to be eaten for breakfast this morning.

Who am I to argue?

Yesterday, I enjoyed a perfect execution of a plan to finish mowing the lawn in the narrow window of time between work and our dinner reservation. That makes up for the last time I had high hopes of squeaking in the mowing, when the spring broke just before I left for a week of vacation.

Despite the consecutive days of rain that fell at home while I was away, Cyndie enlisted the help of Mary and Tim, my sister and brother-in-law, to finally knock down the crop of lawn grass in the days before I got home. Picking up where they left off, starting late Wednesday after work and finishing last night, I completed the whole property again, with the exception of the arena space.

Today, we head for the lake for the weekend, leaving Jackie to care for animals at home. With the Independence Day holiday landing in the middle of the following week, the annual Wildwood 4th-of-July games have been moved ahead to this weekend.

It’ll be Bats vs. Mice in a no-holds-barred battle of strength, cunning, stamina, and good humor in the field beside the lodge.

To heck with the sugar overload, I’m gonna have dessert for breakfast this morning. I’ll use the rush to get mentally prepared for the weekend events looming on our horizon.

Warning! Warning! Hyperactive blissed-out old man ahead.

Bring on the shoe kick!

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Written by johnwhays

June 29, 2018 at 6:00 am

Interesting

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Words on Images

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Written by johnwhays

June 28, 2018 at 6:00 am

Berry Bounty

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‘Tis the time of year when raspberries suddenly appear in significant numbers, materializing magically against the dominant green backdrop in every direction we turn. Sometimes they surprise us by showing up in a cluster of growth that we didn’t even realize included raspberry canes.

Cyndie has tried pruning some of our wild berry patches in the past, hoping to make it a little easier to walk through for picking berries, but the vigorous bushes seem to grow themselves into a solid mass again as soon as we turn our backs.

Time to dig out the Ball jars with the two-piece metal lids in preparation of preserving the harvest.

As is clearly visible in the image, we are lucky to be getting Black Cap Raspberries. I am not clever enough to successfully describe the flavor distinction between a red raspberry and a black cap, but after developing a taste for the unique flavor of the black caps, I have truly become a snob about the black cap supremacy.

One of my absolute favorite treats is well-toasted New England Brown Bread spread with a layer of cream cheese and topped with Cyndie’s home-canned black cap jam. It’s an explosion of texture and unparalleled flavor that is pure culinary bliss.

The first year she canned berries here, we gave the majority of jars away to friends and family before we realized the distinct difference of the black cap flavor. It was a minor disaster when we discovered there were no more jars of the preferred black cap jam left in the house for us.

Now we know to hoard a secret stash of our own, separate from the stock that gets shared.

Honestly, of all the different ways we have considered monetizing our activities here, Cyndie’s black cap jam is probably the most valuable. Too bad we aren’t willing to part with enough of that black gold to make that idea worthwhile.

The yield looks bountiful this year. Something tells me I should be stocking up on loaves of brown bread, too.

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Written by johnwhays

June 27, 2018 at 6:00 am

Brief Treat

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Just before sunset last night, we let the horses have a few minutes to graze on the mowed arena space. They were thrilled with the opportunity.

It is so precious for us to see them grazing on the grass outside their paddock. Be it ever so brief, it provided a compound reward.

The chickens seemed pretty excited over the activity and came running to join in the fun.

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Do they look like they are getting bigger? They are.

After we returned to the paddock, I crouched down to visit with the chickens, but it was Hunter and Cayenne who moved in to love me up.

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Apparently, they wanted to offer me a brief treat of my very own.

Love, gratefully accepted.

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Written by johnwhays

June 26, 2018 at 6:00 am

Next Act?

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Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat. Nothin’ up my sleeve… Presto! It’s definitely time to get a new hat.

I’m back at the day-job today, after a week of vacation. It’s both soothing in its normalcy, and dreadful for… well, returning to work after vacation. Despite the excitement of a couple more birthday celebrations this week and the coming Independence Day holiday, I’m feeling as though there is a certain lack of the next big thing planned on our horizon.

During last week’s cycling and camping adventures, I had an opportunity to meet and greet a lot of first-timers to the Tour of Minnesota. Never being one to make a long story short, I found myself frequently offering a wide range of the tales which have provided most of Relative Something’s content over the last nine years.

What is this blog about?

I started it when my big trek in the Himalayas was about to occur. Shortly after that, Cyndie and I set out to visit Ian in Portugal. That seeded everything that eventually led to where we are today, providing stories about Cyndie working in Boston for a year, my getting the Eden Prairie house ready to sell, moving to Beldenville, WI, getting a dog, connecting with our friends, the Morales family in Guatemala, bringing horses onto the property, starting up Wintervale operations, building a labyrinth garden, and most recently, our antics with raising free-range chickens.

The cast of characters in my stories evolves, but the basic storyline of what makes the “pages” here rarely strays very far from what is going on in my mind at any given moment. It energizes my mental health to share my experiences with discovering and treating my depression, as well as my tales of identifying my addiction to sugar and the challenges of working that ongoing recovery program.

Currently, my health is good, both mentally and physically (despite an ongoing angst over the fiasco that is the US Government), my car is back from the body shop and looks brand new again, the horses look noticeably thinner after my week away from them, all twelve chickens appear to be thriving, and both dog and cat welcomed me home with loads of sweet attention.

Actually, the horses were pretty affectionate, as well. Elysa captured this shot of me giving Hunter a good scratch around his ears. All three horses lingered for some uncharacteristic extended face-time with me as I offered to scratch whatever itches they presented.

So, what’s next? What do I have up my sleeve for the next act?

I don’t know.

But trust me, you’ll find out as soon as I do.

What else would I do but write about it here?

The next adventure is out there somewhere down the trail. Until then, I expect our animals will continue to provide their usual fodder for lessons in life on the ranch.

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Written by johnwhays

June 25, 2018 at 6:00 am

Trip Photos

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The 2018 Tour of Minnesota is in the books. It is not unreasonable to say that everyone who participated had as many unique experiences as we did shared ones. We all come to this ride from different perspectives. There is a wide mix of experience. Some have never ridden a multi-day tip before, and some haven’t ever ridden with a large group.

Many riders on the Tour of Minnesota have done this ride together for decades. My perspective about this ride comes from having done it around twenty times, but is limited to having no other multi-day group ride to which I can compare.

I figured out this year that we could use negatives to describe it thusly: The Tour of MN is not TRAM, not BAM, not RAGBRAI, etc. It also occurred to me that we could flaunt the ride as an eco-friendly vacation, in that, we (most of us) park our cars for a week and human-power our way around the state.

At the end of the ride, participants are invited to submit up to three photos from the week for a contest. I picked three from my collection, but quickly realized there were many other shots deserving attention, so I am tossing them out for you to judge.

I hope they help you imagine what my week was like…

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I am always amazed by the visual of our onslaught of bicycles showing up in unexpected locations where riders seek out any-and-every vertical surface to support our machines while we pause to eat.

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This image of Steve is one of my submissions to the contest. I doubt it’s chances in the judging, since it reveals one of the sloppy, wet realities of needing to reach destinations, regardless the weather.

The reflection on the new wet pavement was too irresistible to pass up. I pulled out my camera, despite the odds it would get splattered by the rooster tail spray shooting up off his tires.

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The covered bridge on the Lake Wobegon trail at Holdingford, MN was a real treat.

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I love the expression spontaneously captured by my reach-around snap of the riders behind me on this stretch of road.

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The Penn Cycle “ambulance” was manned by staff new to our ride this year, and they said they had a good enough time to want to return again next year.

I’m pretty sure we appreciated them even more than they did us.

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Written by johnwhays

June 24, 2018 at 10:31 am