Relative Something

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

Archive for December 2019

First Time

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We are on something of a “stay-cation,” in that, we didn’t go up to Hayward with Cyndie’s parents for the New Year celebration, but we are spending a few days with them at their home in Edina. Like we did for Christmas, we’ve brought along Delilah and left the chickens cooped up and Pequenita by herself at home.

Cyndie’s eyelids are showing signs of good recovery and she has begun to only occasionally stray from doctor’s orders to NOT bend over. Most importantly, she has thus far successfully avoided inadvertently rubbing her eyes as the healing process causes them to itch.

I can’t say the same for myself. Since the day of her surgery, I have been rubbing my eyes more than ever out of sympathetic response to her situation.

For the most part, Delilah seems to be taking to our sudden suburban living with impressive ease. I, on the other hand, am being pushed beyond my boundaries. For the first time in my life, I have needed to pick up my dog’s poop. I never thought I would allow myself to be stuck in this situation.

Cyndie and I have taken turns walking her around the neighborhood and both of us are making adjustments to avoid contact with any other dog walkers. She has failed to accomplish successful introductions so many times that we have pretty much quit trying. The only way I would try again would be if someone told me they wanted their dog to be grabbed and shaken like a rag doll. Delilah has proved she is able to offer that service. Otherwise, I’m thinking we are beyond the point of trying to socialize her with other dogs.

While out with her last night in the latest snowstorm, my feet slipped out from under me on the polished packed snow beneath the new-fallen layer on the once-plowed street. Can you say, “Hip plant!”? I’m gonna have a bruise there, I think.

Delilah seems to be doing her best to claim territory on the streets surrounding Cyndie’s parents’ house. Mailbox posts get an awful lot of attention. Safe within the confines of the basement rooms, she boldly barks at the sight of any activity at neighboring properties.

It’s certainly not the first time she has barked at something she sees outside the window.

Here’s wishing you all a safe celebration of the end of a decade and dawn of a new one!

Tomorrow will be the first time we’ve ever been in the year 2020. May all of us experience a new year filled with more peace and love than ever before.

Wouldn’t that be a priceless first?

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Written by johnwhays

December 31, 2019 at 7:00 am

Familial Bonds

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I align with the perception that simply being human puts us all in the same family, but it’s hard to deny a reality that some people are more family than others. It’s not all that surprising when people who share a bloodline experience a connection born of common ancestry, but I have experienced enough occasions when I am drawn toward kindred spirits with whom I have no blood relation that I know there are mystical bonds deeper than our brains can explain.

Last night we had a chance to brush up against this fascinating phenomenon when the Grinnell families who had gathered in St. Peter for the memorial service of their patriarch, Robin (who was Fred’s cousin), drove up for a spur of the moment gathering at Cyndie’s parent’s home in Edina.

As an in-law in the gathering of Norwegian Friswold and Grinnell clans, it was a treasure to witness the threads of connection and hear the sharing of family stories. I have enjoyed short visits with the Grinnell brothers less than a handful of times over a span of several decades, so my relationship to them could easily be described as acquaintances.

So why does it feel like so much more than that?

Likely, for the same reason that I feel like a brother to Ian Rowcliffe and like a member of Dunia and Marco’s family.

There is a magical aspect to the attraction toward kindred spirits that defies definition by words. It is an energy of the heart. It is a special form of love. It is a unique feeling that blossoms for a select few.

It is a brush with things sacred, which tends to make me feel more fully human.

At the same time, that begs a question of why I don’t feel more of a connection to all who make up the human family. Wouldn’t that be ideal?

A lofty goal for which to aim. For now, I will enjoy the special warmth of sharing time again with people who mean more to me than I can understand. It fits nicely within the mysteries that I don’t really feel a need to have explained.

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Written by johnwhays

December 30, 2019 at 7:00 am

Feeling Humble

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Rain in winter is proving to be our new normal in the region of Minnesota and Wisconsin where I grew up. All we can do is react to the conditions presented, but it’s an unfamiliar winter landscape to me to have water raining down onto our snowscape. It’s such a mess.

I wonder what the furry animals of the northern forest do to cope with these conditions. It must be hard not being able to burrow into the powdery snow for insulation from the cold. From my experience, dampness in temperatures that hover around the freezing point feels much worse than dry cold temperatures well below freezing.

Delilah and I discovered evidence in our hayfield that looked like a coyote may have uncovered a rabbit nest.

The wet snow is revealing a wide variety of tracks. The surface keeps changing between being very soft when the temperature is above freezing and crusty enough that Delilah doesn’t break through when it refreezes.

It is humbling to find evidence of how many creatures are wandering our trails just before or shortly after we have walked them. There were footprints on our north trail that were so large I tried to get Delilah to step into one for comparison. It didn’t work, but trust me, in real life, these are unmistakably and rather impressively bigger than Delilah’s.

I’m pretty sure Delilah peed her scent all over any other markers left on that trail.

Trespassers return at their own risk.

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Written by johnwhays

December 29, 2019 at 10:39 am

Wickedly Slick

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This morning the day dawned with an icy glaze covering everything after an overnight dose of wet precipitation. Luckily, we had already aborted any travel plans because of Cyndie’s continuing convalescence from eyelid surgery. The roads are wickedly slick and riddled with auto incidents as depicted by the Department of Transportation map.

No thank you. Unfortunately, Cyndie’s brother and parents had to give up on a plan of driving to St. Peter this morning for a memorial service for Fred’s cousin. We had planned to attend after first learning of the service, but when the appointment for Cyndie’s surgery popped in for the day after Christmas, it changed a lot of our plans.

Yesterday was a very fractured day. Imagine breaking an entire day into 20-minute segments. That was our routine as we strove to adhere to the doctor prescribed routine of icing, then resting her eyes for alternating 20-minute increments over the first 24-hours after the procedure. What better cold pack than a bag of frozen peas?

Today she is supposed to switch to heat pads, four times a day.

I give her credit for being a very good patient.

Too bad she didn’t get out to see the round hay bales in our fields were picked up while we were in Stillwater on Thursday.

Good thing they finished that chore before our roads became as slick as a skating rink. I wouldn’t want to try pulling a trailer of hay in these conditions!

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Playing Nurse

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I am not a nurse, but I am back in nurse-mode for a while because Cyndie had outpatient eyelid surgery yesterday. A procedure that only takes an hour required over four to drive to Stillwater and then wait an hour and twenty minutes for things to start because the patient ahead of her took longer than planned.

Now Cyndie’s convalescence requires extra rest, limited activity, no lifting or bending over, and not rubbing her eyes for at least a week.

She looks a little like she stepped on a rake. Twice.

The procedure sounds a little harrowing in that Cyndie was sedated but conscious and instructed not to move for the entire procedure. That included reaching up to scratch an itchy nose. She needed to ask for help with an itch. Imagine trying not to cough, sneeze, or flinch while someone is holding a knife near your eye.

The surgeon asked for a warning to stop if Cyndie felt a sneeze coming on. It makes me wonder if the urge to sneeze gets suppressed by the sedation or if it could sneak up on a person whose face has been numbed.

I’m glad she didn’t get the hiccups.

We are happy Cyndie’s procedure did commence without complications. Our return home was late enough that darkness had already arrived and Delilah’s dinner was over an hour later than usual. I took her for a walk and we closed up the chicken coop where all the hens were unharmed and safely perched on the roost.

I had clipped Delilah’s leash to a nearby tree while securing the coop and, out of my light beam, she suddenly started barking about something. When I returned to her it was obvious she was fixated on something nearby. When I released the clip she almost dragged me away, except the point she wanted to reach was just a few more steps over.

It was the trunk of a large old maple tree and I’m guessing she spotted a critter –likely a rabbit– disappear into an opening at the base of the tree. Delilah reacted with a frenzied, but futile attempt to attack the fortress. I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed such a carnivorous fervor from her, except maybe the one time last summer when she had the lake-neighbor’s dog firmly clamped in her jaws.

Maybe I shouldn’t have let her keep the headless squirrel body she claimed from under a decorative pine tree near the back of our house on a walk earlier in the day yesterday. She was pre-primed to be in full-on predator mode after that.

I’m just distracted by a responsibility to focus on what Cyndie’s needs are during the recovery period. We are both going to work intensely on preventing any involuntary unconscious eye-rubbing when the healing causes itchiness. Doing so could completely defeat the surgical procedure results and the surgeon said that it happens to 1 out of 5 patients!

We don’t want her to be one of the ‘special’ ones.

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Written by johnwhays

December 27, 2019 at 7:00 am

Much Joy

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It all builds up to this. Apparently, there was a lot more “nice” than there was “naughty” in the family this year. Santa’s elves surely worked overtime to supply all the goods for the gift exchanges witnessed yesterday at the Edina house, though this was just a fraction of the joy. There was also laughter and mirth along with some good-natured ribbing and exceptional feasting shared by all.

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Most precious of all was the time with family. Time to just be together really is priceless. Puts the material goods at a distant second in terms of value for the holiday.

Delilah did wonderfully in her first-ever visit to the location, which was very important to us. It allowed us to maximize our minutes with the fam this year.

I chose to bring her home after dinner last night, but Cyndie stayed for one more overnight. In the moments after I got home with the pooch, I managed to lock myself out of the house with Delilah inside. Luckily, we have a lockbox with key for just such occasions.

Getting back inside and settling in at home brought almost as much joy as the Christmas celebrations that preceded our return.

One of the most overlooked great things about Christmas is the point when it is finally over and life can return to the usual daily grind.

I hope that doesn’t sound ungrateful, but even a very good thing can get to be a little too much. We have been blessed with a lot of very good things. Now I’m ready to be blessed with a return to our usual normalcy.

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Written by johnwhays

December 26, 2019 at 7:00 am

It’s Christmas

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Written by johnwhays

December 25, 2019 at 7:00 am