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

Posts Tagged ‘4th of July

Star Spangled

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Cyndie cooked up some star-spangled black cap jam yesterday! It all started with some pre-canning berry picking when Elysa and Ande arrived to join in the fun. Made from real fresh berries.

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Then the cooking magic in the kitchen commenced, using more sugar than I am allowed to be in the same room with, leading to jars upon jars of the precious dark jam.

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And a filled kitchen sink.

Just to top off the busy afternoon over the stove, Cyndie baked two loaves of bread so we could test out the jam while it was still warm. The flavor treat set off fireworks in my taste buds!

Speaking of fireworks, one of my trusted news sources (who shall go unnamed to protect their reputation) let me down royally with a timely story offering four tips to help dog owners ease the stress of frightened pets during the sunset hours of exploding ordinance this time of year.

One: Don’t take your pet to the fireworks show.

Really?

Two: Keep your pet safe at home.

Isn’t that the same thing as not taking them to the show?

Three: Try over the counter remedies.

Oh, why didn’t I think of that before?

Four: Make sure your pet is microchipped.

July 4 is the number one day dogs and cats get lost, it says.

Well, that is not a tip that will ease my dog’s stress, so that was only three morsels of expert advice.

Color me thoroughly disappointed in that “helpful” tidbit of intrepid journalistic expertise.

We ushered Delilah into her “den” for the night, and she was able to quietly ignore the repeating echoes of small arms fire sounds percolating well past my bedtime. Delilah sleeps in a crate with a cover draped over it, which seems to provide her with enough comfort that she will generally ignore most activity overnight.

Last night, I could have used a sound proof cover over my bed. Regardless, once I got to sleep, it was dreamy visions of star-spangled black cap jam dancing in my head all night long.

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Written by johnwhays

July 5, 2018 at 6:00 am

The Fourth

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Rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air. It being a wonderfully warm July night last night, we had all the windows open. Beyond the rhythmic ratchety chirp of a few nearby frogs, we were serenaded by holiday revelers getting a head start, lighting up over an hour’s worth of pyrotechnic battle sounds on the third of July.

Today is a mid-week pause from the day-job, but the ranch chores never take a break. Jackie traveled across Wisconsin to be with her family for the holiday, so Cyndie and I will be tending to all our animals for the day.

I may do some mowing, if it doesn’t rain, and Cyndie is considering canning some black-cap jam. She may even get some help from Elysa and Ande, who messaged an intent to visit.

Other than that, we have no special Independence Day plans.

I’m sure we will have another night of battle sounds echoing throughout the hours surrounding sunset.

O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Happy 4th of July to all who reside in the US of A!

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Written by johnwhays

July 4, 2018 at 6:00 am

Intentional Community

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Wow. Similar endings in both World Cup games yesterday, in that, the final results were determined by penalty kicks. I only got to see parts of both games, due to a special meeting of the Wildwood Lodge Club association members in the morning, and then our trip home in the afternoon, but what I saw was highly entertaining.

There is some work needing to be done to maintain the soundness of the aging lodge building up at the lake, which will require significant financial commitment. At the same time, after over 50-years of existence, the association is facing the aging out of the first generation. Financial burdens are beginning to fall on the multiple sibling families that make up the second generation members.

We are facing some big decisions as an intentional community, about what the six expanding families’ long term wishes and dreams are for the future of this communal vacation paradise.

I walked portions of the property in the early morning on Saturday and captured the some of the quiet beauty.

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I’ve written about Wildwood before, but to summarize for newer readers, it is an association of now 6 families that share a central lodge building, play field, tennis court, gorgeous beach, and boats. When the old fishing resort was purchased by 11 families in the 1960s, it was a number of small, mostly primitive small shacks surrounding the main lodge.

Moms and kids would spend most of the summer there, with dads coming from the Twin Cities for the weekends. Families would rotate cabins throughout the summer and often dined communally around the main fire pit in the central “triangle” on their peninsula of Round Lake.

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In the 1980s, when the member numbers had dropped to seven families, the maturing clans elected to split the property into separate plots in order to allow for enhancements to the living accommodations, while also providing equity for the investment by individual families.

Meanwhile, all the traditions and celebratory community activities from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and for a decade or so, New Year’s Eve, played out with emphatic zest.

It was intentional community at its best. Kids and dogs, and all the good and bad that happens with outdoor space, a lake, and time, became the joys and concerns of all. With this precious group, there were always a lot more joys than there ever were concerns.

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Saturday, in celebration of the mid-week 4th-of-July holiday this year, we broke out the red “bats” shirts and the blue “mice” shirts to split the community into two arbitrary teams for a mostly typical array of challenges for dominance.

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There was a relay race, water-balloon toss, three-legged sack race, shoe kick, watermelon eating contest, and finally, a water scrum to move a greased watermelon across the opponent’s line.

The day of games was topped off by a grand feast in the lodge for dinner, all prepared, served, and serviced by a combined effort of member families, kids included (to varying degrees of success).

Now the community is needing to address what the next version of Wildwood Lodge Club might be?

There are many variables involved, and few, if any, right or wrong decisions to be made. That presents us with a significant challenge.

If Wildwood is to remain some version of its former self, it will involve a big commitment from all the members.

In my mind, big commitments are what it takes for “intentional communities” to survive and to thrive.

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Written by johnwhays

July 2, 2018 at 6:00 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

Pickin’ Time

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Today is Independence Day in the U.S. I’m not sure whether there is added significance about the holiday this year, but it feels more complicated than usual with the turmoil over the bizarre turn our national government has taken, starting early in the Presidential campaign season, then through the change of administration and beyond, and all the while, compounded by the apparent ongoing meddling of foreign nations.

Did someone say “Russia?” Cough, cough.

Are we still an independent country? “One nation, under multinational corporations, indivisible…”

Regardless, we will be celebrating the day by mowing grass, composting manure, and picking raspberries. We returned from the lake yesterday afternoon, despite the gorgeous conditions beckoning us to stay. There was just too much work to be done at home.

Unfortunately, more than gets done in one day, but what a difference a day can make. I’m confident I will feel just fine by the time I throw in the towel tonight and head in for a shower and some dinner.

We took a little reconnaissance walk around the property last evening and found horses and chickens in good order. Most noteworthy was the amount of progress visible in the raspberry bushes compared to how they looked when we left on Friday.

Without delay, Cyndie got a bowl and started collecting berries. Soon, the chickens arrived to join her. It appears she will have some added competition this year on picking raspberries.

Another new addition to our landscape is bursting open like 4th of July fireworks! The first of the many colors of lilies at the top of our driveway are in full bloom.

It was a nice treat welcoming us home.

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Written by johnwhays

July 4, 2017 at 6:00 am

All Games

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It’s all fun and games at the lake this weekend. The 4th of July celebration at Wildwood is a tradition of classic competitions between teams of bats (blue shirts) and mice (red shirts). Under a spectacular sunny summer sky yesterday, we waged battle of kicking shoes, eating watermelon, tossing water balloons, a sponge brigade, a scavenger hunt, and moving a greased watermelon across a goal line in the lake.

It almost always comes out a tie, but both teams tend to claim victory over the other. I guess that is part of the tradition, too.

There’s a rendition of the National Anthem around the flagpole and a parade up the driveway past all the homes and back again.

The grand finale is a world-class dinner in the lodge after some spectacular appetizers on the lawn out front.

It doesn’t feel like the American political system is all that great lately, but the energy of people celebrating our independence was as great as ever.

Cyndie and I retired early to keep Delilah company in the loft bedroom under the soothing white noise of a loud fan while the banging and popping of small-time fireworks rattled the night.

It feels like a summer holiday.

Saturday evening the immediate family held a rousing tutorial of the game Tripoly with two of Cyndie’s nephews who, to our surprise, somehow made it to their late teens without ever playing the game. It was a stellar first-time exposure as the game involved some major drama in the last two hands.

Two different rare hands were dealt in the final two rounds, but neither player was able to play them out and collect the reward, because another player used up their cards first and ended the rounds.

We dealt a couple of poker hands to divide up the unclaimed chips and Steve’s son, Eric, came out on top. To my great relief, the chips were issued at no cost, so my pocket book was spared the damages that I would have otherwise suffered.

It’s all fun and games, until someone gets hurt.

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Written by johnwhays

July 3, 2017 at 6:00 am

Spectacular Weekend

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I’m back at work today, but I expect my mind will be flooded all day long with thoughts of the spectacular weekend we just enjoyed. The weather was divine and complimented everything that was planned to honor the 50-year anniversary of Wildwood Lodge Club in Hayward, WI, on the Independence Day holiday weekend.

DSCN4934eSunday we held our traditional games such as water balloon toss, shoe kick, 3-legged race, and watermelon eating contest. A typical number of rules were circumnavigated in pursuit of victories, but that never lessens the laughter and frivolity enjoyed by all.

In the evening, after a catered dinner, one member from each family ever holding a membership participated in a game of Wildwood Jeopardy. When that was over, dancing to live music carried on into the wee hours of Monday morning.

Despite the late hours, I woke up early enough the next morning to sneak out on another beautiful bike ride with Cyndie’s brother, Ben.

DSCN4905eThen it was back in the water for one last swim before it was time to pack and leave for home. Leaving the beach before the day is done is always one of the hardest things to do. It gets me begging for science-fiction to hurry up and become science-fact, in terms of a transporter ala-Star Trek to eliminate the travel time needed to get home.

Pushing myself to leave the lake during the best part of the day becomes a much more difficult thing to do when the weekend is as spectacular as this last one just was.

I feel like I deserve a medal for making it back to work today.

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Written by johnwhays

July 5, 2016 at 6:00 am