Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘aging

Cool Morning

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Having noticed the outdoor temperature was in the 40s(F), I was already wearing a long-sleeve hoody sweatshirt when Delilah and I made our way down the big hill trail in the woods into the increasingly cooler air. I pulled the Buff® head gear that was around my neck up so it covered my nose. Having just climbed out of a warm bed, I wasn’t mentally prepared to face such cool air against my skin.

Evidence is mounting that I have lost my robust preference for dealing with cold temperatures over warmth.

The low-lying areas held a haze of water vapor that added a visual perception of a cool morning.

A vocal flock of geese flying in the classic “V” formation punctuated the underlying obvious sense that we are in the season that follows summer.

Some of the visible water vapor in the air was coming from the four exhaling horses. It seemed so cold that I felt a need to bend over and touch a couple of blades of grass to confirm the very white-looking dew wasn’t frozen.

Every time the seasons swing from one extreme to another I marvel over how our sense of the temperatures differs. What was feeling so cold to me this morning would feel almost tropical at the end of winter.

Dealing with the change to cold air is getting increasingly more challenging for me as I age. Time to bring out my obligatory fleece vest everyday wear fashion statement again.

It offsets my increasingly gray hair impeccably.



Written by johnwhays

September 11, 2022 at 9:50 am

And Then

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Suddenly, it was Saturday, August 13 in the year 2022. I woke up in the loft bedroom at the lake place, emerging from typically bizarre dream scenarios to gaze upon damp forest scenery under a hazy gray sky. Knocking off this morning’s Wordle in four, and burrowing deep into comments on Reddit about how fast time flies when looking at decades past, I luxuriate in loitering in bed until Cyndie wakes up.

Yes, I grew up before personal computers or cell phones, but waking up in the morning is pretty much the same as it has always been for me. As best possible, I try to trust my perceived reality is accurate and true. I always sensed that the ads at the back of a comic book or magazine hawking some sensational product like x-ray glasses were more hype than reality. Get rich quick schemes and miracle cure-all formulas, beach wimp to muscle-bound stud plans, or pounds melting away with ease all seemed dubious at best.

What is it about today’s technological advances that have led masses of people to swallow the loads of crap that grifters are dishing out in this day and age? I have no idea. How did typical dream-type bizarreness become everyday headlines? It’s weird.

At the same time, creative minds are still creating fascinating storylines for television series that stream on more platforms than I can keep track of. The ability to discern the fictional drama from what shows up in the news is getting tougher to maintain, but at least I can parse the fiction in measured doses. Binging does happen, but it’s optional.

The daily news keeps coming at us 24/7. I usually preach turning off the news but as time passes I find myself checking it out more than I used to. I think it is in large part a result of the unbelievableness of it all. Am I really living in a time like this? I guess so.

I failed to hit the water when I got up here yesterday. The wind was strong and the rain had just let up making it much more of a “sweatshirt by the fireplace” type of day than a “soak in the water” one.

Does the middle of August mean autumn is any closer than it’s always been at this point of the year? Maybe it just seems that way to me because time flies faster the older you get. It was never like this back when there were no cell phones or internet.



Written by johnwhays

August 13, 2022 at 9:27 am

Aha Moment

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After resting my aching legs for a day –of which the left leg was proving to be the more uncomfortable one– I tried a brief, easy solo ride on the road bike yesterday afternoon. All the weekend guests had departed but I hung around for the rest of the day, mostly because of the simple fact that I could. I will be driving home this morning.

Yesterday, I experienced an “aha moment” during the first mile of spinning the cranks of the road bike. My left side still felt “funny.” Weak is one way I can describe it. I began to perceive a sensation that suddenly occurred to me to NOT be specifically coming from my left quadricep. I had a sense that what I was feeling in the leg muscle was more of a referred pain.

All at once, it hit me that I might actually be noticing the first signs of a hip problem.

Where do I pick up my membership card for that club of unpleasantness?

I rode a mere 11 miles and used battery-powered assistance the whole way. My goal was to allow my legs to do a little spinning without working them very hard against resistance. Mission accomplished.

Floating in the lake after I got back, the discomfort throughout my body seemed to be growing more and more aligned with what my mind was now telling me. Now I am in the place of wondering whether my mind is responding to the vague pains of my body or if it’s the other way around. Is my body starting to react to thoughts that my hip might be growing arthritic?

That’s pretty easy to test. I’ll start imagining my hip is perfectly healthy and see if the vague pains and noticeable weakness go away.

Anecdotally –if you believe this– I did recently decide I should be putting a pillow between my knees at night in bed when I’m sleeping. I can’t explain why I renewed this practice, but maybe it’s related to the possibility of a hip issue and my intuitive self detecting it would be a prudent thing to do.

I’m no Orthopedist, but it’s all making sense to me at this moment.

Or, maybe it’s not the joint, itself. The Mayo Clinic offers this:

Problems within the hip joint itself tend to result in pain on the inside of your hip or your groin. Hip pain on the outside of your hip, upper thigh or outer buttock is usually caused by problems with muscles, ligaments, tendons and other soft tissues that surround your hip joint.

The location of my pain is more on the outside of the hip and, as I originally suspected, my upper thigh.

I’m going to prescribe some extra rest and see what that does for me. See if it gives me any additional “ahas.”



Written by johnwhays

August 8, 2022 at 6:00 am

Like Marchruary

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Is it possible that you are able to see that this image was taken when the temperature was below zero on Saturday morning?

It is a reference for the next image that I shot yesterday afternoon.

That outdoor temperature of 45°F was in the range of average for the month of March, not February. Both Delilah and I wanted nothing more than to just be outside in the warm sunshine.

I offered to brush her multiple layers of hair out on the deck, flashing a bag of tasty treats as periodic reward for her cooperation. The only cooperation she offered was to sit down every time I neared her back legs so that I couldn’t be the least bit effective.

It became a game where I offered a treat to buy more time and she would soon after, sit down so I would feel the need to offer another treat to get her up again. I didn’t get much brushing done. I switched focus to tossing some discs for Delilah to chase in the back yard.

She pretty much wanted to sit down after only a few throws of that exercise, too.

I think she is starting to feel all of her nine-and-a-half years of age. Average age for a Belgian Tervuren Shepherd is 10-12 years. She is starting to act as if she is getting old.

My next attempt to make her feel young again was met with complete disdain.

I made a snowball out of the sticky snow and started rolling it down the hill. When it got big enough that it was difficult to push, I stopped and looked up to find her completely ignoring me.

When I decided I didn’t have any interest in making a snowman out of my giant snow boulder, it occurred to me that I was feeling my ripe old age.



Written by johnwhays

February 21, 2022 at 7:00 am

Age Old

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How old is old? It’s an age-old question. For many –even though “old” can be hard to define– the famous 1964 Supreme Court opinion phrase about obscenity, “I know it when I see it” fits nicely to identify old.

Many of us know old in ourselves because we feel it.

When I was a kid, “old” was anyone older than me. That pretty much applies throughout our entire lives. Early on, it was someone who went to school during the week. Later, it was someone who had a drivers’ license.

One aging milestone that really struck me was when professional sports heroes started getting younger than me.

Back when I was frequently participating in team sports, there was an occasion at the end of a night of floor hockey when my hand ached as if I had strained it. I assumed it must have been injured during some competitive action that kept me from noticing at the time.

When we met again for the next week’s games, my hand still hurt and it struck me as odd that I wouldn’t have noticed when I injured it. After some time, with the discomfort in my hand never getting any better, I learned that what I was feeling was an arthritic joint.

A few weeks ago, when I assumed my usual plank position for my morning exercise and stretching routine, I detected pain in my left foot. My first assumption was that I must have stressed it somehow and blamed either the shoes I wear all day at work or the boots I wear when outdoors at home.

Two things: First, I couldn’t positively identify having done anything specific to bring on this kind of pain. Second, the pain hasn’t shown any sign of going away. Reminds me an awful lot of what happened with my hand.

It makes me feel old.

Not as old as everyone older than me, but certainly older than everyone younger than me.

I have to say it. It’s all relative.

For the record, these thoughts came to me between 1:30 and 2:00 a.m. when I needed to get out of bed and try to walk to the bathroom to pee.

I felt really old. Age-old.



Written by johnwhays

September 17, 2021 at 6:00 am

For Free

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It has been a while since I became enamored with an entire album of recorded songs by a particular artist. With everything coming at us in streaming form these days, listening to a complete album seems a little archaic. Doing so throws me back to my days working in a record store and devouring music on vinyl LPs, one side at a time.

This month I was lucky to stumble upon news of David Crosby releasing his latest effort, titled “For Free.” I navigated to my Apple Music account for a listen and a day later found myself replaying the chorus of the opening song in my head as a pleasing earworm. I always take this as a good sign when I’m not yet familiar with a song but my mind is already hooked on a part of it.

Very often the song that does this for me aligns with the eventual “hit” song that ends up achieving radio play and wide popularity, but not always since my tastes are a little broader than average.

That pleasant looping refrain in my brain usually leads me to follow-up listening sessions and with “For Free,” doing so quickly hooked me on multiple cuts. I’m a fan of most music David Crosby has created and thoroughly enjoy the sound of his singing.

One aspect of his vocal sound on this album impressed me for the way it belies his age. David is almost 80 and can still sing like his younger self. At the same time, I detected occasional words with a pronunciation that hinted he’s not 29 anymore, but instead of that being an unpleasant aspect, I’m finding it more endearing and intimate when it occurs.

The lyrics are engaging, the musicianship inspiring, and David’s familiar singing voice a true gift to the ears.

His collaboration with Sarah Jarosz on the title track cover of Joni Mitchell’s song is a gem and provided my first introduction to her artistry. I’ll be exploring her recordings in the near future, for sure.

Several places throughout multiple songs I found myself enthused with the enticing momentum provided by a pleasing bass and drumset energy, for which I assume Crosby’s son James Raymond deserves credit as album producer.

I’m consuming this album in numerical order from beginning to end, on repeat. If you are a music fan with any appreciation for David Crosby, I invite you to give the whole album a full listen.

The old man turns 80 in August, for heaven’s sake. Everyone should hear what he is still doing at this age.



Weird Night

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Last night my feelings went through a bit of an unplanned roller coaster ride as a result of two different hours of television. Cyndie and I have settled into a routine of late where we turn on PBS Newshour during our evening meal. I think it’s a bit of a nod toward acting our age. The last month has been thick with political news but, thankfully, coverage has swung away from the outrageous insurrection and toward the refreshing articulateness of the new administration.

I sat down to a remarkable plate of boneless barbequed ribs and sides that rivaled fancy restaurants while listening to analysts and an incoming cabinet member speak clearly and intelligently about the issues of the day. It was delicious in every way.

Watching politicians who are able to speak without hyped manipulations of reality, instead, talking comfortably, concisely, and without animosity, is so refreshing it made me downright giddy.

Maybe I was just delirious over the incredible meal Cyndie had prepared.

It was bliss.

Unfortunately, about the time I should have been turning in for the night, Frontline was on with an episode about “Trump’s American Carnage.” I knew it would be horrific, but presented with Frontline’s high quality of documentary production, I couldn’t resist.

It was so incredibly opposite of the glee I enjoyed earlier, I almost forgot how good the new administration feels.

On the bright side, I didn’t forget about the great food I enjoyed.

When I stop to think about the last four years of enduring the 45th President, I am amazed I survived with my wits only partially dimmed. But I understand why I find myself feeling so emphatically thrilled over the contrasting ambiance of the entire administration that has succeeded him.

It’s a lot like that sensation you have when you finally stop banging your head against a wall.

The roller-coaster swing last night from high to low made for an unexpectedly weird Tuesday night.



Written by johnwhays

January 27, 2021 at 7:00 am

Fading Clarity

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At the very same speed every day, twenty-four hours transpire. It’s our perceptions that produce the variable which makes time appear to pass slower or faster. I’ve described many times that I perceive my years of living in 20-year blocks. I’ve lived to twenty 3 times. For some reason, it is easier for me to process that perception than grasping that I have been alive for over sixty years. (61-and-seven-months at the time of this writing.)

It just doesn’t feel like sixty, except, never having been this old before, I wouldn’t really know how sixty is supposed to feel. The most tangible aspect of aging that I have experienced is my loss of perfect vision. Getting used to wearing glasses has been an arduous and frustrating adjustment for me.

Given lenses that offer a static level of correction for my continuously waning clarity, I add imperfect handling that constantly fails to keep them free of clouding smudges.

There is a benefit to my new norm of experiencing a fuzzy view. I don’t need to spend money on the latest and greatest high-resolution ultra-crisp display screens because they all look a little blurry to me anyway.

If I didn’t have a camera with auto-focus capability, I’d be sunk. Unfortunately, I now have a difficult time discerning whether the resulting images are worthy or not. Auto-focus is a far cry from flawless and I am now a weak judge of the resulting level of success.

Yesterday, we were out walking with Delilah at the moments of both the sunrise and the sunset. The morning was really cold and the wind-blown snow was mostly firm enough that our boots didn’t break through the crust. Delilah, being much lighter and trotting on four feet, had no problem staying on top.

In fact, we could see in her tracks that she was walking on her tippy toes to keep her pads from the stinging bite of the extreme cold.

I suspect that image could have benefitted from better focus.

I have a little more success with the long focus of vast landscapes. Sunset was a pleasure to experience and just enough warmer by that time of day that our urgency to get back inside was reduced.

Still, I perceive that image as falling short of my preference for a much snappier crispness.

There is an interesting dynamic in our house with regard to my slow decline from the glorious pinnacle of 20-20 vision and full reading-distance clarity, because, while this change is new to me, Cyndie has lived with blurry vision and corrective lenses her entire life.

It’s hard for me to ask for sympathy from her, although yesterday she admitted that she sees the difficulty I face since it’s a new adjustment for me that she has dealt with forever.

In the grand scheme of challenges we face in life, my learning to cope with fading clarity is a rather small one and almost universal for humankind. As the saying goes with all things aging-related: It beats the alternative.



Written by johnwhays

January 23, 2021 at 10:32 am

RS Interview 4

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Picking up where yesterday’s post left off, the Relative Something interview with *The* John W. Hays continues on the topic of love and more…

RS: Love seems like a worthy topic!

JWH: Love is my religion. It is one common theme woven through all world religious beliefs. Love is universal. When situations require a decision, using love as a compass to guide that decision will make the world a better place. No dogma required. Love doesn’t necessarily provide certainty, it accepts mystery. Love is all we need.

RS: Is this a change for you, the focus on love?

JWH: Well, I suppose there has been a transition over the years. I think the primary significance for me was learning to love myself enough to overcome negative self-talk. A secondary shift came about as I grew weary of the abuses and hypocrisies that were being exposed in organized religions. The way political parties wield religious beliefs like weapons. The fact that religious faiths would go to war against other human beings who worship differently.
Humans defining a deity seems like the ultimate hubris to me. And a horrible construct the powerful use to control others and gain wealth. Especially horrible because it is usually masqueraded under a veil of love. Love deserves better. The best response I see to that is to keep the love and leave the rest behind.
I’ve learned to love myself in a more healthy way and use love beyond the confines of organized religion to navigate my interactions with others in the world.

RS: What is something people wouldn’t know about you from reading what you write?

JWH: Not much. I’m embarrassingly transparent. Basically, they won’t know what I don’t write. For some reason, I haven’t been writing about the fact that it’s been so long since I last played guitar that I can’t remember when the last time was. And I probably haven’t written about it because I don’t really know why I stopped. I wonder if it has anything to do with the way I am aging, mentally, and physically, but the influences are too intangible to explain it with one simple pat reason.
Thinking about it, which is what happens when I try to write on the subject –and not writing about it has meant I could avoid thinking about it– I suspect it is related to the amount of time I have been commuting to the day-job four days a week. Exhaustion saps my creative energy. It also leaves less oomph to want to pedal my bikes up hills and into winds. I did not ride a bike at all this summer. When the pandemic canceled the annual June week of biking and camping, I lost that incentive to do conditioning rides. My attention defaulted to property maintenance on our acres. There is always more that can be done than there are hours and days.
The good news is that I have been incredibly happy to do that. I question myself about the health risks of not making music or riding my bikes, but maybe my version of aging is one of working on our property and then nestling inside our gorgeous home to type out my thoughts on a computer.
I have an inkling that a day in the not-so-distant future when that thing called retirement happens, my recreational pursuits could return with a vengeance. I think that would be absolutely lovely.

RS: Amen to that.

Thank you, JWH for agreeing to be the first interviewee in what Relative Something hopes will become an ongoing occasional feature in the years ahead. *This* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences involves and is influenced by innumerable others. This will provide an opportunity to expand the narrative. Because, why not?



Written by johnwhays

October 18, 2020 at 8:46 am

Change’s Sake

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My immense aversion to changes in software that was working just fine for me leads me to think that perhaps I am getting old.

Is it a problem for you, dear readers, that I don’t have little icons on this blog for sundry social media sites of the latest trend? Has my neglect to format the appearance to best suit the portrait orientation of mobile devices left you frustrated?

Ever find yourself wondering why my blog doesn’t include links to sites for purchasing products I promote, or a button allowing you to donate money to sustain my lifestyle?

These are all features that I have chosen to ignore, despite frequent WordPress marketing messages encouraging me to incorporate.

In March of 2009, I searched for a platform to publish my “take on things and experiences” and found a template ‘theme’ that matched my tastes. I’ve seen no reason to change since.

The word-cloud I selected for the side margin of my posts slowly changes over time, not always to my ideal, but it’s simply a reflection of what I write about the most, so I let it go.

Truth in advertising.

After some trial and error tinkering, sometimes requiring mystery clicks on vague icons with unclear popup titles, I have reached a mostly functional equilibrium that reasonably matches my previous editing experience.

I do miss the running word-count information that previously displayed at the bottom of my view as I typed.

With time, I will learn whether or not that’s a feature I can add back, as I explore the myriad other repackaged ways WordPress has changed my blogging experience to make it so much better.

Okay, never mind. I just clicked the “help” icon at the bottom of my view and learned I can click an information icon at the top of the screen to find that information.

That was at 308 words, if you care.

Which is more than enough to call for an end to my whining about change for change’s sake.

How about a bit of boasting about the other burden I so often face as the spouse of one who loves to bake?

I keep getting asked to sample and review the latest delicious morsels being baked under a constantly changing mix of ingredients and techniques.


My judgements might be influenced unfairly by the fact I usually enjoy the advantage of performing these tests on goods fresh and warm from the oven, but the taste analyses are probably universal.

Cyndie is gaining proficiency with each refinement she makes.

We make a pretty good team.

I credit our ability to change with the times, albeit sometimes kicking and whining all the way.



Written by johnwhays

October 3, 2020 at 8:28 am