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

Archive for August 2022

Fair Fun

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Just as I suspected, getting there required the first long wait in a queue for an express bus ride to the great Minnesota State Fair. There would be more lines to come but none of them ended up becoming unbearable waits and they always came with a good reward.

Not having to drive through traffic and pay a high price to park made it well worth the approximate half-hour wait for the bus ride.

We were able to bypass the LONG line at the front gate to purchase an entrance ticket because we bought ours online in advance. The nice young ticket checker was able to tap my phone for me to navigate to the e-ticket barcodes. Saved me the embarrassment of trying to do it myself.

If I could post just one picture for our day at the fair, this next one would be my choice.

Breakfast of champions. Cyndie asked, “Is it too early for cotton candy?”

We’d been inside the gate for a mere few seconds. “No,” I answered.

What could I say? We were at the State Fair! She was going to need the sugar buzz to survive a LOT of walking in the hours ahead.

What else should we eat?

There went my sugar quota for the day. Look at how many you have to eat just to get the cover on to save the rest for eating when you get home.

Biggest highlight of the day for me was chatting up the DNR folks for information and ideas about caring for our fields and forest. We have a lot of ash trees in our woods and they most likely won’t survive another decade based on the odds of emerald ash borer infestation. As a result of the warming climate, we should consider replacing them as they die with trees that have historically done well in the growing zone just south of our location.

Moose picture. Just, well… because, moose! And a really big one, too.

Speaking of art, fine art at the Fair is always fun.

It occurred to me that some visitors from rural farm country might be experiencing museum quality art displays for the first time in their lives. It’s a gas seeing the mix of humans from every walk of life mingling in the wide range of “neighborhoods” at the Fair. From the Fine Arts building to the hog barn feels like a world away.

Some streets were wide open and food vendors there required little in the way of wait times. A few blocks later, it was an elbow to elbow mass of people trying to walk in multiple directions. We bought deep fried cheese curds from a booth on a less-crowded block. The greasy goodness was just as satisfying as if we’d gotten them from the busiest corner of them all.

We never did find the 4-H kid who was showing a cow that spent much of the summer on the field next door to us, but we did get to see some kids who really love their livestock. The young man in the photo above was taking a little rest with his prized porker.

There was this large array of feathered coyote food in cages. Since that was my first thought, it is my opinion that I’m not ready yet to go back to having those sweet birds roaming our land again.

I forgot to take a picture of the incredible pork schnitzel sandwich that was probably the best thing I ate all day, but a chocolate malt from the Dairy Building was photographed in the nick of time before the cup got emptied.

Of all the days we picked to attend, Tuesday is not a good day to see horses.

The horse barn was closed all day. Really?

It took until we were about to leave before I finally came upon a person I knew. Friend, Mary Jo, from the Tour of Minnesota bike trips, was helping one of her friends who had space on the second level of the Grandstand selling things from a store she has near Rice Lake, WI (I think it was). Another highlight of the day.

We had a fabulous time at the Fair. Now, all we have to do is figure out how to stop eating everything in sight and get back to normal.

Whatever normal is.



Written by johnwhays

August 31, 2022 at 6:00 am

Fair Bound

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Today is the only day that worked out for us to pay a visit to the Minnesota State Fair so we enlisted the services of our animal sitter to cover the hours we plan to be away and we’re going for it. Neither of us can remember how many years it has been since we last went to the fair but it has been a long time.

I’ve only changed my mind about going several times after reading articles about long lines, not just at food booths but also simply getting a seat on a shuttle bus to the fair itself. Cyndie pointed out we already had coverage for the day so we might as well go.

Knowing today would be booked for all-day fun, we made a point of diving into chores as soon as we got home yesterday. We pulled a full shift on the driveway, raking up and shaping gravel shoulders for 60 yards (30 on each side). Then I scooped a few days of manure that had accumulated in the paddocks over the weekend while Cyndie did some weeding around the barn.

While we were at the lake, both our cell phones were buzzing with storm alerts from back home and our power co-op emailed a notice the power had gone out. Upon arriving home we found no evidence whatsoever that we’d lost power. There were a few small tree branches on the ground but not anything that different from a typical windy afternoon. The rain gauges held between 2.5 and 3.0 inches of water.

The images in our minds triggered by the weather app warnings conjured a much more vigorous impact than what physical evidence presented upon our return home. For that we are thankful. Unfortunately, outcomes like this serve to feed my tendency to be nonchalant when it comes to alarming weather alerts.

Sunday night, the Hayward area got pounded hard by a very dramatic 1:30 a.m. thunderstorm. It had Delilah in fits, barking at the flashes of lightning and rumbles of thunder. She works hard to scare off thunderstorms due to a deep-seated drive to protect us from harm. All she did is protect us from getting good sleep.

As the storm raged at its peak intensity, I invited Cyndie to imagine what it would be like to experience that from inside a two-person tent. That is what I and a few others endured in June during the Tour of Minnesota bike trip because we opted out of the invitation to sleep inside the school. Throw in the sound of an air-raid siren wailing right overhead for full effect.

No storms in the forecast for today’s fair adventure. Just a threat of sore feet and tested patience in dealing with a hundred-thousand other people trying to do the same thing as us. Oh, and a high potential of exceeding my daily sugar and overall calorie intake goals in a span of very few hours.

We are looking forward to it.



Written by johnwhays

August 30, 2022 at 6:00 am

Latest Binge

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With unfettered access to streaming television episodes this weekend, we ended up binging, “Patriot,” a five-year-old Amazon Prime Video that is a dark, comedic, assassin drama. I’m kind of a sucker for the merging of quirky dark humor in reality-based situations of high-drama, national “off-the-book” intelligence agent action. The series repeatedly involves situations where a relatively simple goal becomes complicated in multiple, and often messy, ways.

Riddled with a fair number of plot holes and illogical setups that all deserve to be ignored for the good of the rest of what’s so absorbing about the series, I would guess this 2-season story is ripe for critique by those who choose. I’m not interested in doing that.

One aspect that I appreciated about the writing was the merging of local authorities trying to process scenes resulting from international espionage type of incidents. A more conventional spy story will either ignore or have “the agency” wipe a scene so the main operative can carry on a mission unburdened by the consequences of previous actions.

In addition to that, there are multiple side dramas by coworkers at the firm where the main character had mischievously landed a “cover” position allowing him to travel to off-limits countries.

In “Patriot,” the persistent pursuit by local officials trying to solve their mysteries as well as the interruptions by people with personal agendas becomes a primary interwoven thread of the ever more convoluted challenges faced by the protagonist. It’s a bit like a Bourne-style CIA assassin story with ten times more real-life having a constant complicating impact.

Binging the story provided an entertaining escape from reality for a couple of rainy days at the lake.

Between showers on a walk with Delilah, she walked deeper in the water than is her usual preference because of the enticing sight of ducks lounging around on the floating mat. I had no plan of getting wet so stood by nervously waiting to see how bad she wanted to go after them. I figured I could quickly kick off shoes and wade further in if she decided to swim, but that wasn’t my preference.

She has shown no interest in swimming all the other times we invited her into the water.

Delilah decided the ducks weren’t enough reason to change that pattern and returned to shore to finish our walk.

Worked for me. There were a couple episodes left to be binged before bedtime.



Written by johnwhays

August 29, 2022 at 6:00 am

Morning Scenery

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I got absolutely skunked by Cyndie in our rematch competition of CrossCrib yesterday. Four or five hands and I didn’t score a single point. In one case, she had 40 points before I counted my hand and the points in the crib. No contest from the get-go. I used to pride myself in defensive play but that ploy was entirely insufficient against her cards yesterday.

Cyndie also outdid me in capturing fabulous images of the early sunlight on a walk with Delilah while I exercised my world-class lethargy, staying in bed longer than I care to admit.

Wait. Did I just admit that?


It is my great honor to be given the privilege of featuring them on my blog.

Thank you, Cyndie! I’m happy to give up CrossCrib success against you forever if you will keep giving me access to your photo library. 🙂

As if I had any control in that.



Written by johnwhays

August 28, 2022 at 9:35 am

Indoor Games

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Walks with Delilah will be short and wet this morning. It’s a good thing we took full advantage of the beautiful weather yesterday because much of today will be spent indoors. The main mass of precipitation is moving away to the east but it has left behind a sloppy landscape and gray skies.

We enjoyed a long and leisurely paddle around the island and schoolhouse bay yesterday in a gentle breeze of mid-morning sunshine. After floating on top of all that water we just had to go for a swim in it back at our beach. On a brief and unsuccessful errand to town to find an AC to DC transformer, we made a stop for the spectacular flavors of premium ice cream from the famed local creamery, West’s Dairy.

It’s like a rule that we have to sample some of their delectable combinations whenever in close proximity –[read: anywhere in town]. I made a last-minute change of mind to Banana with threads of Salted Caramel that didn’t disappoint.

The afternoon included a rollicking game of CrossCrib on the deck with multiple lead changes throughout. By the time we finally sat down across from each other for dinner at the Tavern at White Stag Farm, we both shared the comment, “You got some sun today.”

The wet start of our day today is allowing me a chance to be distracted by television coverage of Premier League matches while trying to chronicle yesterday’s fun.

Spectator sports on television are a guilty pleasure and may be my version of indoor games for as long as Cyndie allows. I suspect she will be seeking a chance to reclaim her honor in the weekend’s CrossCrib competitions, to which I will be more than happy to oblige.



Written by johnwhays

August 27, 2022 at 9:51 am

Perfect Complement

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Yesterday morning, while we were preparing to leave for the lake, our township road crew showed up to seal-coat our aging street. It is the perfect complement to our new asphalt driveway.

That’s what I call good timing. Not that I had any advance knowledge about the plans for this wonderful improvement. It’s always nice to have such immediate tangible evidence of our tax dollars at work.

Everything old is new again.



Written by johnwhays

August 26, 2022 at 6:00 am

Daylight Moon

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In an all-blue sky the other morning, the faint apparition of the crescent moon stood out as the only disruption.

Late yesterday, I walked the driveway to more accurately measure how much length remains of unfinished asphalt edges. My last estimate of 80 yards was wishful thinking. If we do 40 yards a day, we should have it finished in 3 days of work. That effort will have to wait until next week. Cyndie and I are going to the lake this weekend and taking Delilah with us.

I had always planned to work on finishing the driveway slowly and methodically, so this is not a problem. However, there is no denying that we are both getting eager for the day when we rake the last portion of gravel over the final exposed edge of asphalt out of the roughly 600 yards that needed attention.

It’s a good thing that we love having a long driveway. If we didn’t, all this work would seem to be much more effort than it’s worth.



Written by johnwhays

August 25, 2022 at 6:00 am


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a milestone birthday
fine dining
The St. Paul Grill
impeccable evening
shared Caesar Salad
signature dressing, baked croutons
Salmon, perfectly done
topped with seven spice butter on a bed of sautéed spinach
what a sauce, a jamboree of flavors
shared sides
Hash Browns
with bacon and white onions
Asparagus Spears
perfectly, perfectly cooked
Creamed Spinach
two bites of her Bourbon Pork Chop
one of his fries
a bite of her Filet
medium, with mushrooms
three shared desserts
bittersweet chocolate, whipped cream, caramel drizzle, ice cream, more chocolate
immensely satisfying
did I mention




Written by johnwhays

August 24, 2022 at 6:00 am

Some Play

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It isn’t “all work, all the time” around our place. Sometimes we take a break to play. Yesterday, after knocking off another 50 yards of creating a shoulder for our new asphalt [only about 80 yards to go!], we wrapped up afternoon chores a little early and I took Cyndie to see, “Top Gun: Maverick” in a real movie theater.

It was just as entertaining for me as the first time I saw it and Cyndie added to my joys by liking it as much as I suspected she would. I drove the car home like it was a fighter jet.

We stepped out of the theater to a real-life air show.

We were in Hudson, WI, where it is not uncommon to see hot air balloons floating on the wind. These three were just taking off.

My first thought was, “Those won’t stand a chance against an F/A-18 Super Hornet.”



Written by johnwhays

August 23, 2022 at 6:00 am

Driveway Fun

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On Saturday, Cyndie and I had so much strenuous fun raking gravel up against the edge of our new asphalt that we took yesterday off from doing any heavy labor. Our afternoon was brightened by a visit from Julian who brought over his battery-powered push mower and leaf blower for us to test.

Cyndie has decided a blower is the best way to clean out the large areas of river rock landscaping around our house. I’ve been thinking for a while that a small push mower might be a better tool for mowing around our sloping front yard’s features and might even fit on the labyrinth pathway. One of my hesitancies in adding more power equipment has always been a disdain for small gas engines. I’ve already got three times more than I want to care for so the possibility of switching to electric is enticing.

While we were playing with Julian’s battery-powered equipment, he hopped on his electric one-wheel board and took a few spins on our fresh asphalt.

You would think that the new driveway would give us a break from struggling to maintain a well-tended appearance around this place but I discovered evidence of nature’s tenacious ability to demonstrate dominance over us by way of the first weed sprouting through the pavement.

It didn’t take more than a month. Really?

The electric mower worked well in the labyrinth and finished the job in a third of the time it has been taking us to use the power trimmer. Just a few adjustments of the rocks forming the pathway borders at the 180° turns and the 21″ deck will fit nicely. I think some electric outdoor power equipment is likely in our future.

At least we will be able to keep the labyrinth looking well tended.



Written by johnwhays

August 22, 2022 at 6:00 am