Relative Something

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

Archive for the ‘Chronicle’ Category

Beyond Mowing

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The time of mowing is upon us in multiple ways. Beyond the usual routine of cutting our lawn grass, the big tractors are finally hitting the local fields to cut hay. The neighbors who are renting our fields knocked down the tall grass in opposite corners of our property recently, leaving a very noticeable line of uncut growth along the fenceline that Cyndie tackled with our power trimmer.

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Despite all the mowing going on, Cyndie continues to pull off a heroic amount of raspberry picking which naturally led to canning jam. Since she was going to be in that canning mode, she also made a trip to a local strawberry grower to pick a bulk of that jam favorite, as well as a stop at the grocery store for a couple of bags of cherries.

Even though canning jam deserves to be a single focus task, Cyndie chose to merge it with preparations to drive to Northfield, MN, for a mini-reunion with visiting Hays relatives. There, we uncovered a treasure trove in my sister Mary’s files of family newsletters from the days before the internet took over communication.

I don’t remember writing all those annual reports detailing our children’s school years, but reading back over those missives now gives me the impression I have been writing the equivalent of this daily blog for longer than just the ten years I’ve been posting here on Relative Something. In fact, the old family newsletter was called, “Relatively Speakin’.”

Seems to be a certain congruency there, no?

Who knows what lies ahead for this relative crew? It won’t surprise me if it ends up involving less mowing, but I doubt I will ever stop writing about whatever is happening in all of our lives.

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Written by johnwhays

July 14, 2019 at 9:55 am

Still Missing

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Not a day goes by that we aren’t still missing our horses. Yesterday, I spent a little time tending to residual piles of manure. The urgency to deal with it every single day is gone since there is no longer a need to make space for more. I also find myself avoiding dealing with it because it so obviously reminds me of the absence of our equine partners.

There was quite a large accumulation inside the paddock left over from winter that I was planning to convert into a high spot over a drain tile that I didn’t want the horses to collapse from walking over it when the ground was soft. The chickens are doing their darndest to spread it flat, so I have given up on maintaining a pile that will “cook” to compost and am just spreading it out to dry.

There were some huge grub worms in there that the chickens gladly feasted on while I was raking it out. They only last so long out in the bright sunshine before suddenly sprinting off to the wooded shade for a break. After they cool off a bit, they come out for another round of ugly looking grubs, then run off again.

Eventually, I took the hint and moved to reshape some of the leftover composting manure under the shade for them. They appreciated the wealth of smaller worms and centipedes to be found in the piles I moved there.

Standing out in the vacant paddocks now is disconcerting. The encroachment of weeds and tall grass gives an impression of neglect that seems so very out of place. I suppose I will mow it down eventually.

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We are still really, really missing our horses.

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Written by johnwhays

July 13, 2019 at 9:09 am

Yeah, Summer

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Here’s the thing about summer: it’s not a thing. It’s not one thing. It’s a constant transition from spring to fall. You don’t get dandelions and corn on the cob all at the same time. There are cool days that feel totally out of season and oppressively hot and humid days that bookend the cool ones.

Maybe that is why it seems difficult to do summer justice at any given moment. Summer is a whole lot of moments.

Flower blossoms radiate for a limited number of days before they begin to fade in color and lose their shape.

Already, the earlier sunset is noticeable. County fairs produce thoughts of the summer-ending Minnesota State Fair. Plans are being considered for shopping back-to-school sales. We may as well start preparing our Halloween costumes and Thanksgiving menu. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

That’s just about how fast it feels.

Don’t blink.

My bike trip is history. The birthday has come and gone. The fourth of July has passed. How long will the rest of the summer last?

We need to pay attention to something summery every single day for the next two months.

Summer will last just as long as it lasts. I plan to notice it in its entirety.

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Written by johnwhays

July 12, 2019 at 6:00 am

Moon Chasing

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Fifty years ago this month, the Eagle landed on the moon. I am thoroughly enjoying the 3-part Robert Stone documentary film, “Chasing the Moon” on the PBS program American Experience this week for its revisiting of the history that led up to that epic event of the first human setting foot on the moon.

Catch the ending tonight if you have access to the PBS programming.

I have enjoyed the portions of the first two episodes that reveal what was happening in the early years of my life before my awareness and ability to remember were formed. As the chronicle moves on to years when I was old enough to be making memories, it is interesting to see the mix of familiarity and obliviousness.

Even the astronauts admit to being out of touch with much of the turmoil of the 60s because they were so singularly focused and generally isolated by the space program. I’m not the only one who couldn’t keep track of everything that was happening at the time.

I find it striking to compare the awed engrossment in every launch and mission detail from those early days of space flight to the virtual invisibility of most trips to space now.

We’ve come a long way, baby.

How long before we find shuttling to visit Mars so unremarkable that nobody pays any attention?

If it happens within my lifetime, I probably won’t remember it very long, anyway.

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Written by johnwhays

July 10, 2019 at 6:00 am

Still Thrilled

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Is it too late to still be thrilling over the US Women’s National Team victory on Sunday in France? I am really proud of their teamwork and stamina; their confidence and sense of fun; their bravery and demand for respect (equal pay!); and the way they melded their individual strengths and personalities into such an effective cohesive unit, to dominate on the world’s largest stage.

There is so much well-deserved press available on their accomplishment, I can’t really add anything that isn’t already being said. Instead, I’ve grabbed a couple images and article links to share here for those of you who may not have followed close enough to notice…

Check these out:

Opinion: The World Cup might be over, but we aren’t nearly done with USWNT’s stars

Christine Brennan, USA TODAY

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Rose Lavelle Dribbled Her Way Into World Cup Immortality

Luis Paez-Pumar, Deadspin.

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I dream of someday being able to display a similar cool, collected confidence like Megan Rapinoe radiated in the seconds before she converted that penalty shot in the 61st minute of the World Cup title match.

I will always remember the awe I felt when Rose Lavelle deftly read the instant the defender in front of her turned her back, immediately stepping to the other side and without hesitation, releasing that powerful strike on goal just out of reach of the incredible goalkeeper for the Netherlands to give us the breathing room of a two-goal lead.

U.S.A.! U.S.A.! Equal pay! Equal pay!

I’m definitely still thrilled.

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Written by johnwhays

July 9, 2019 at 6:00 am

Delaying Complaining

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If nothing else has become obvious in my ten years of blogging, my quick tendency to complain about the simplest of ailments that befall me must stand out as a typical trait. Whether it’s my degenerating discs or the next poison ivy outbreak, I usually fall far short of stoically sucking up the pain and suffering privately.

Misery loves company. Don’t I know it.

I will be honest that this was exactly my first inclination when one of my recently turned sixty-year-old teeth fractured under an unexpected bite of a chicken wing bone. Sadly, this calamity contributed to spoiling our second visit to that quaint diner on the way up to the lake last Wednesday.

As I moped with Cyndie for the remainder of the drive up to Wildwood, wondering how and where I might seek treatment for this busted molar, there was a general sense that my long holiday weekend had been totally spoiled. Luckily, we had enough time in the car for me to have a change of attitude.

For the first time that I can remember, I decided I would squelch my urge to share news of my woes, in order to avoid engendering focus on my problem and tarnishing the rest of the joyous holiday festivities. It helped a little that my dentist returned my call Wednesday and remotely diagnosed that my description of the broken tooth cleared me of any need for emergency treatment.

I spent the weekend trying to remember to take small bites and only chew on the other side of my mouth, and successfully kept my problem from everyone except Cyndie, Elysa, and Julian. In the end, I think doing so worked out as well for me as for my intention of not distracting others with my problem. By not talking about it, I automatically tended to dwell on it less.

There was one interesting complication that developed when I called my dentist’s office. Not only were they closed for Thursday and Friday of the holiday weekend, but also for the following week in order to allow their entire staff a long summer vacation.

What good timing I have.

Fortunately, their away message offered a direct contact number for the dentist. She said her family has chosen to have a stay-cation and she will be in town this week.

She has offered to take a look at my tooth late this afternoon to see if she can offer some relief, sooner than later.

Thank goodness. I definitely have no complaints to offer about that.

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Spectacularly Pleasant

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We were blessed with a fabulous summer-weather day for our Wildwood Lodge Club annual Fourth of July games. Things started a little slow, with a pickup wiffleball game occupying some of us, while the rest of the folks made their way to the lodge.

The flag was raised to a recorded version of our National Anthem.

Shoes were kicked.

Also, water balloons were tossed (thrown), wet sponges were passed, bodies were spun, and watermelon was handlessly gobbled. Yes, it gets messy.

Greased watermelons were then wrestled toward invisible goal lines.

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Finally, a feast was shared in the lodge.

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After dinner, I played a little guitar around the fire to cap off a spectacular day of events.

The most difficult part of this precious weekend is facing the return to reality that happens today. We drive home this afternoon in a line of holiday traffic to resume our normal weekday duties.

I suppose the plus side of that is, it tends to make days like these all the more special that we get to experience them.

This year will go down as a particularly precious Fourth of July weekend enjoying summer games up at Wildwood with all the families present.

I look forward to dwelling on it for as long as circumstances will allow.

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Written by johnwhays

July 7, 2019 at 8:23 am