Relative Something

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

Archive for September 2018

Getting Cold

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The weather at the lake this weekend is rather brisk, with filtered sunlight softly glowing through milky clouds. We headed to town for breakfast and a little stroll around yesterday morning. The briskness came across as downright flippin’ cold as we walked the short lengths of sidewalk between warm shops.

I am forever fascinated by how different a temperature of 39° (F) feels the first time it visits in the fall, as compared to the first time it is reached in late winter. Yesterday, the “briskness” was bone chilling. In late winter, temperatures above freezing lead us to lose our hats and open our coats.

We stepped out of the frigid fall air into a shop that sold puzzles. Cyndie encouraged me to revisit a long loved hobby of jigsaw puzzles, so I gave the weird variety of images a serious review. My choice was primarily focused on choosing an actual image, preferably of a landscape that appealed to me.

It was a pretty easy choice, because there was only one that met those parameters. I didn’t really process the note on the cover touting the large piece format, but it turned out to be a perfect choice.

“Easy to See & Handle!”

Why, yes, they are! Ideal for pulling off a one-day build before we need to pack up and head home.

Building a jigsaw puzzle in front of the warm glow from the fireplace while listening to our most memorable music from our dating years just happens to be a very comforting way to deal with that first cold blast of the season after summer ends.

I’m sure I’ll have many more opportunities to be outside re-acclimating my body to winter temperatures in the weeks ahead.

This weekend was focused more on staying warm, which I can report we happily achieved in luxury at this fabulous place on the lake.

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Written by johnwhays

September 30, 2018 at 10:09 am

Feeling Happy

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Woke up this morning and looked out at the sun coming up over Round Lake in Hayward, Wisconsin and realized we weren’t at home. Then, I remembered the wonderful dinner we had at the Lake Magnor Lighthouse restaurant attached to the convenience store gas station on Hwy 63 in Clayton on the way up.

Servers were fully present and projecting great energy, which enlivened the whole place. We seated ourselves in a booth with a view across the road to Lake Magnor and soaked up the atmosphere. It wasn’t our second honeymoon, but it was feeling a lot like the first one.

This was the first weekend we had coverage to be away since the occasion of our 37th anniversary, so the two of us have dashed up to a solo weekend at the lake. Easily reminiscent of our visit this month back in 1981.

When dinner was delivered, the “bottomless” real fresh-cut potato fries on Cyndie’s plate won me over instantly. This was after I had already visited the salad bar and discovered a spring mix of greens in place of the usual iceberg lettuce, plus every topping I ever wanted. More characteristic of a trendy urban restaurant than this perfectly kitschy rural diner.

Good food, great service, and two oldsters reliving their lifetime of being in love provided all the ingredients necessary for a memorable moment that lasts.

The fact that we’d cluelessly driven past the place so many times before on our travels to the lake enhanced our delight over the serendipity of finally discovering it this time.

I won’t deny that my mindset was already primed with happiness over an achievement earlier in the day that I have been waiting far too long to resolve. We got our home back-up generator serviced!

It has been over five years since installation and I have neglected it ever since, despite repeated mailings urging us to purchase an extended warranty and service contract. There was a constant mental conflict over thinking I was being negligent and they were being overly persistent.

Eventually, I contacted the installer to inquire about a preventive maintenance inspection. They no longer provide support to this product. I tried another place they referred me to, but it only offered long term warranty programs like the one the manufacturer keeps mailing to us.

I mulled over trying to figure things out on my own and changing the oil myself. That never seemed to lead to any action.

Finally, I found a new company that could service it without a long contract and would come from Minnesota to do it. However, they charged me immediately on the day I scheduled the service, and then postponed the appointment twice, both times without warning me in advance.

I was thrilled yesterday afternoon when the tech called to say he was fifteen minutes away. The firmware is updated, oil, spark plugs, and air filters changed, and specs calibrated.

With that completed, I was more than happy when we set off for this lovely weekend celebrating September in the north woods. No wonder the food tasted so good.

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Strange Day

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What a strange day. For one thing, it was commuting hell for me, both directions yesterday. Notable, in part, as compared to the norm of general smooth sailing success I enjoy during the early shifted hours I drive for the four days of the week I commute to the day-job.

I won’t get into the disorientation of facing the day-job in a building that unexpectedly has no running water while the city looks into a break in a pipe. Don’t ever take for granted the convenience of a working indoor sink and toilet in your daily goings on.

No, the strangeness in my day was primarily marked by the sudden and unexpected contractions of three lanes into one at a construction site in the darkness of early morning. Twenty added minutes of my morning that made the drive to work feel like an eternity, as compared to the usual hour that slips by as I zoom in the fast lane with the other early worker bees whizzing to their places of employ.

Twenty minutes was a blink compared to the trap which ensnared me on my attempt to get home. After battling the strangeness of a particularly unsettling day at work, I tried sneaking out a little early to dash through the cities toward home to pick up Cyndie and race back downtown for a big date.

We were gifted tickets to “Hamilton” at the Orpheum Theater! An anniversary present.

I dashed through the cities alright, but there was a calamity ahead to which I had no warning. In a normally unobstructed straight stretch of I94 in Woodbury there were suddenly brake lights in every lane. It wasn’t just slowing, either. We came to a stop.

Then crawled and stopped. And stopped.

Really? Twice trapped in one day? Unbelievable.

Good thing I left early. Obviously, not early enough. Whatever the incident was that now obstructed my progress, it didn’t show on the map when I departed.

No, I did not have my traffic app running to warn me in advance. I know.

Minutes turned into hours. It was so bad, I ran out of time to get home in order to turn around and head back again.

Cyndie had to leave home and drive toward me. What would normally take me 40-minutes to achieve lasted almost three hours. Three lanes, plus a merging on-ramp, were squished down to one at the bridge over the St. Croix where Minnesota becomes Wisconsin.

When I reached the incident, the scene looked like a truck had exploded and burned. Maybe it happened the other way around. The parts of the cab and engine were scattered and the trailer looked ripped open and melted back. I parked my car in Hudson and she picked me up to drive to Hennepin avenue.

As we headed west again, the scenery of the backup I had just escaped was heart breaking. It was three times as long as where I first encountered it, and it took me two hours to clear. They were in for a real test of patience, and likely a need for a bathroom.

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All I wanted to do was be out of a car, but sitting in the cramped seating on the third story balcony for a special broadway show turned out to be almost as uncomfortable.

Luckily, “Hamilton” is quite something to experience, so I was able to endure the discomfort for the spectacle of sight, sound, and history crafted in a fantastic display.

As great as it was, it also served to contribute one more unusual thing to a really strange day.

On the way home at the end of the night, as we wheeled along the interstate where the backup had occurred earlier, we passed more than 50 semi trucks that had pulled over. I’m sure they just called it a night and used their required sleep hours right then and there.

At least I got to go see a fabulous show.

It really was a very strange day.

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Written by johnwhays

September 28, 2018 at 8:04 am

Posted in Chronicle

Sharp Swing

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Pequenita finally nailed home her point. Tuesday night, Cyndie discovered that Delilah’s nose was bleeding from a strike by the cat. Suits her right. Delilah has been pouncing after ‘Nita with increasingly expressive dog energy of late, completely ignoring the pinned ears or occasional hissing signals that convey the cat’s disdain for the game.

It almost always culminates with a sprint to the bedroom where the cat leaps on the bed just out of reach of the dog’s chompers. Sometimes, Pequenita takes a swipe to back Delilah up.

I guess Delilah didn’t get out of the way quick enough on Tuesday.

Last night, after I finished my stretching and exercises, Delilah claimed the yoga mat for a turn of her own.

Her downward dog could use a little work.

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Written by johnwhays

September 27, 2018 at 6:00 am

Improvement Movement

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In my grand scheme of a continuous improvement movement toward optimal health, I have recently added new attention to not cleaning my plate. It’s an old habit, but eating everything served has long contributed to my consuming more food than my body needs at a sitting. I’ve decided to take another crack at altering that pattern.

It’s a project I tried off and on in the past, just like my attempts to stop snacking directly out of the bag, or trying to get a full 8-hours of sleep a night. I have not accomplished everything I set out to achieve.

I’m hoping to springboard on the success I have been experiencing with my daily regimen of planking and stretching exercises.

Actually, it parallels well with my recent decluttering effort. The latest accomplishments have inspired me to keep going to the next level of clutter out in the shop.

My planking success –started about 6-months ago and still making daily progress, well beyond the initial 30-days-in-a-row goal– seems to be inspiring me to take the next step toward better (and consistent) attention to portion size.

This whole portion control thing rides on top of my earlier focus to kick a sugar addiction and rein in the percentage of my daily sugar consumption in my diet.

Last night, I took a moment to calculate the number of grams of sugar in a serving of Trader Joe’s Chocolate Coconut Almonds that Cyndie brought home as a treat on our anniversary. It’s the coconut that sends these over the top. It calls out to me every time I walk past them.

Sixteen grams in a 1/3rd cup serving, which is a little under 1-gram per coated almond.

I have tried to satisfy myself with eating just 2 or 3 almonds at a time, but then the challenge I face is to honestly track how many little visits to the well I make in a day.

Craving is a powerful thing.

I’m happy that I have developed a bit of a craving to do my daily planking routine, and I struggle with the craving to sleep that washes over me at times of the day when I can’t.

Now, if I could just get myself to crave small portions of really delicious large servings of food on a plate in front of me, I’ll really be getting somewhere.

Here’s to continuous movement toward optimal health, one step at a time. Mind, body, and spirit.

Join me, won’t you?

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New Home

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I am overjoyed, and it came about much sooner than later. Our old lawn tractor has a new home. Buyer found seller and last night my urge to declutter was fulfilled, while someone else no longer needs to borrow a mower to cut their lawn.

Is this because I visualized just such an outcome? Hmmm.

I’m not going to argue with success.

Now I can change my answer to “No,” for the rest of the calls that come through asking if the tractor is still available. I received four such queries that led nowhere. The eventual buyer was the only one who actually followed up with additional questions upon receiving my “Yes” response.

I have no idea what that’s about. Maybe it was other people selling similar lawn tractors checking on the competition. Well, I’m out of the game.

However, I am feeling inspired to carry on with further decluttering. Sure, there is new space in the garage, but it actually reveals another level of items simply being stored.

A declutterer’s work is never done.

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Written by johnwhays

September 25, 2018 at 6:00 am

Rock Work

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Yesterday was one of those days when the things we thought we might do when we talked about it at breakfast, ended up being different than what we chose to do after stepping out into the day. It was funny that both Cyndie and I lobbied for a refocus to something different.

I wanted to do some rock work and she wanted to transplant some trees.

We started out by the road where the recent tree clearing by the township maintenance crew had uncovered an old rock pile and decaying fence post that marked our property boundary. I wanted to stack a cairn of stones to more purposefully indicate the spot.

We also dug up a couple of rocks that were pushing their way above ground enough to become a nuisance when mowing. What do I do with extra rocks? Find somewhere to balance them.

I picked Cyndie’s perennial garden.

We moved from there to transplanting volunteer oak trees from places they shouldn’t be to just outside the fence line of the paddock. If they take, the ultimate goal would be for them to provide natural shade for the horses. It’ll take a year to see if they survive the shock we put them through today, but it will take a lot of years to become tall enough to offer real shade.

I’m honestly skeptical about the chances, but if we never try, we’ll never have even a possibility.

The biggest hurdle is the soil. The trees were extricated from sandy soil at the high point of our property and replanted into heavy clay soil by the drainage ditch that crosses our back field.

Time will tell.

Maybe I should think about stacking rocks to make a wall high enough to offer shade. It would probably take as much time as growing trees, but the odds of success are probably better.

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Written by johnwhays

September 24, 2018 at 6:00 am