Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘anniversary

Six Years

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Somehow, six years have passed since we moved from our home of twenty-five years in a suburb of the Twin Cities to this amazing property in western Wisconsin.

Happy 6th Anniversary, Wintervale!

What an amazing time we’ve had figuring out a completely different life from the one we had previously known.

Looking back on our arrival here, we now laugh about the week-long struggle we endured to accomplish the actual closing on the property, while being granted access anyway by the sellers and moving our furniture in as if it was already officially ours.

We put our trust in a local fencing company to help design a layout for our paddocks and pasture fences and were rewarded with a much-loved result. They also helped us accomplish the addition of the hay shed, overcoming repeated weather delays caused by one of the wettest springs locals had experienced.

Five years ago September, our horses arrived and really brought this place to life. That started an ongoing lesson in the art of composting manure, among many other more romantic attractions of owning horses.

This time of year, we are probably composting as many leaves as we are manure.

We are in our second year of having chickens around to control flies and ticks, while also enjoying the secondary benefit of unbelievably great eggs.

We have learned a lot about baled hay and forest management.

We dabbled a little in trying to launch a business.

We’ve stumbled through trying to train our first dog, while simultaneously working on keeping one of two house cats we adopted from a rescue organization.

Every time the leaves fall from our trees and cover the trails six inches deep, it throws me back to that first year when we arrived.

That leads to thoughts about all the things I’ve listed above and gives me an opportunity to acknowledge the number of things we have accomplished since moving here.

I also have a tendency to contemplate what life might have been like had we not made this move. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be in as good of shape as I am now. Caring for animals and managing many acres of hilly fields and forest has a way of keeping a person off the couch for long stretches of time.

I wouldn’t trade this for anything. It’s been a great six years.

Here’s to diving into our seventh with wonder and glee over whatever adventures it may bring!

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Written by johnwhays

October 24, 2018 at 6:00 am

Getting Cold

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The weather at the lake this weekend is rather brisk, with filtered sunlight softly glowing through milky clouds. We headed to town for breakfast and a little stroll around yesterday morning. The briskness came across as downright flippin’ cold as we walked the short lengths of sidewalk between warm shops.

I am forever fascinated by how different a temperature of 39° (F) feels the first time it visits in the fall, as compared to the first time it is reached in late winter. Yesterday, the “briskness” was bone chilling. In late winter, temperatures above freezing lead us to lose our hats and open our coats.

We stepped out of the frigid fall air into a shop that sold puzzles. Cyndie encouraged me to revisit a long loved hobby of jigsaw puzzles, so I gave the weird variety of images a serious review. My choice was primarily focused on choosing an actual image, preferably of a landscape that appealed to me.

It was a pretty easy choice, because there was only one that met those parameters. I didn’t really process the note on the cover touting the large piece format, but it turned out to be a perfect choice.

“Easy to See & Handle!”

Why, yes, they are! Ideal for pulling off a one-day build before we need to pack up and head home.

Building a jigsaw puzzle in front of the warm glow from the fireplace while listening to our most memorable music from our dating years just happens to be a very comforting way to deal with that first cold blast of the season after summer ends.

I’m sure I’ll have many more opportunities to be outside re-acclimating my body to winter temperatures in the weeks ahead.

This weekend was focused more on staying warm, which I can report we happily achieved in luxury at this fabulous place on the lake.

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Written by johnwhays

September 30, 2018 at 10:09 am

Feeling Happy

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Woke up this morning and looked out at the sun coming up over Round Lake in Hayward, Wisconsin and realized we weren’t at home. Then, I remembered the wonderful dinner we had at the Lake Magnor Lighthouse restaurant attached to the convenience store gas station on Hwy 63 in Clayton on the way up.

Servers were fully present and projecting great energy, which enlivened the whole place. We seated ourselves in a booth with a view across the road to Lake Magnor and soaked up the atmosphere. It wasn’t our second honeymoon, but it was feeling a lot like the first one.

This was the first weekend we had coverage to be away since the occasion of our 37th anniversary, so the two of us have dashed up to a solo weekend at the lake. Easily reminiscent of our visit this month back in 1981.

When dinner was delivered, the “bottomless” real fresh-cut potato fries on Cyndie’s plate won me over instantly. This was after I had already visited the salad bar and discovered a spring mix of greens in place of the usual iceberg lettuce, plus every topping I ever wanted. More characteristic of a trendy urban restaurant than this perfectly kitschy rural diner.

Good food, great service, and two oldsters reliving their lifetime of being in love provided all the ingredients necessary for a memorable moment that lasts.

The fact that we’d cluelessly driven past the place so many times before on our travels to the lake enhanced our delight over the serendipity of finally discovering it this time.

I won’t deny that my mindset was already primed with happiness over an achievement earlier in the day that I have been waiting far too long to resolve. We got our home back-up generator serviced!

It has been over five years since installation and I have neglected it ever since, despite repeated mailings urging us to purchase an extended warranty and service contract. There was a constant mental conflict over thinking I was being negligent and they were being overly persistent.

Eventually, I contacted the installer to inquire about a preventive maintenance inspection. They no longer provide support to this product. I tried another place they referred me to, but it only offered long term warranty programs like the one the manufacturer keeps mailing to us.

I mulled over trying to figure things out on my own and changing the oil myself. That never seemed to lead to any action.

Finally, I found a new company that could service it without a long contract and would come from Minnesota to do it. However, they charged me immediately on the day I scheduled the service, and then postponed the appointment twice, both times without warning me in advance.

I was thrilled yesterday afternoon when the tech called to say he was fifteen minutes away. The firmware is updated, oil, spark plugs, and air filters changed, and specs calibrated.

With that completed, I was more than happy when we set off for this lovely weekend celebrating September in the north woods. No wonder the food tasted so good.

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Another Anniversary

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It’s our thirty-seventh this year. I’ve been writing and posting daily on this blog for over nine years, and every time September 19 comes along, the topic of the day has acknowledged Cyndie’s and my wedding anniversary, and Julian’s birthday.

I have an annual habit on September 18th of navigating the “Previous Somethings” drop down feature in the right margin to pick the month of September, and then clicking on the day “19” to read each of my prior interpretations of the occasion. It’s a little repetitive, but at least the number of years changes in each post.

I’m not sure what the primary focus of a wedding anniversary is supposed to be. One obvious choice is the ceremony and all that was related to the events of the day.

Another logical area for consideration is the milestone of years. 2018 marks the accomplishment of our 37th year. Is the anniversary a time to review all that our relationship has enjoyed or endured over that period of time?

On that note, which gets more attention? The best of times or the obstacles hurdled?

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How about examining ways the relationship has changed over the span of time? I’m pretty sure we know each other better now than we did in the early years. Although, we continue to surprise each other and discover new insights as a function of the changes continually occurring in ourselves year after year.

I suppose the most popular detail deserving attention is a revisiting and rekindling of the romance that drew us together in the first place. I fear there may be a few laws of physics that tend to overrule best intentions in that realm.

As noted, Cyndie and I have an additional blessing to enhance our celebration of September 19th. This year it involves one of those round numbers that garners extra significance because it ends in zero.

Happy 30th Birthday, Julian!!

At this point in the father-son relationship, I’m thoroughly enjoying how much more like a brother you seem to me. I never imagined I would enjoy my children as adults as much as I do.

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Counting our many blessings today!

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Written by johnwhays

September 19, 2018 at 6:00 am

Noticeable Changes

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I get up at the same time each work day, but the sunrise doesn’t. Yesterday, it was completely dark as I navigated my way, by feel, down the hall toward the kitchen to get my breakfast and lunch items out of the refrigerator, before traipsing toward the garage door with my arm outstretched, heading off to work.

It was the first time this season that I realized I can’t see my way through the house in the morning any more.

Last night, it was cool enough with the doors and windows open that we actually kept the blankets over us in bed. That hasn’t happened in a loooong time.

Having blankets over me must have led to some tossin’ and turnin’ overnight, because the fitted sheet on the mattress had slipped up off the corner and the area under my body looked like it had been through the ringer.

It creates an absolutely unacceptable situation each night when I am ready to tuck in, if the bottom sheet is in a jumble of wrinkles left over from the night before. I am the Princess and the Pea when it comes to my bedtime ritual.

The bottom sheet must be stretched TIGHT, or I am bothered all night long.

Cyndie and I have figured out what we are going to jointly buy for our wedding anniversary next month. New sheets! A set that actually fits our mattress.

Imagine that!

Monday night into Tuesday I had a dream that involved some vivid eating. I filled a bowl with cereal and milk and was shocked with myself to be completely ignoring my self-imposed limitations focused on reducing sugar in my diet. Not only that, but a short time later in the dream, I was taking a bite of some fancy chocolate cookie.

The middle was thick with a gooey chocolate, and as I sank my teeth into it, the creamy chocolate solidified onto my two front teeth. Still in the dream, I reached up to pry the chocolate down off my teeth, which woke me because I had actually reached up and was trying to pull my mouthguard down off my teeth.

I wear the guard to keep from grinding my teeth while I sleep.

Apparently I wasn’t sleeping sound enough to paralyze my body during the dream.

That’s going to change when we get new sheets. The nights are getting longer, what better time to upgrade the sleeping environment?

Yes, I called myself the Princess and the Pea.

It makes Cyndie laugh.

Some things never change.

Here’s another view of the sky from late Monday afternoon.

Those clouds were in a constant state of change, …and it was very noticeable.

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Written by johnwhays

August 22, 2018 at 6:00 am

Going Tropical

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From the series of previous posts reviewing my history with Cyndie and her family, I hoped to provide a more complete background for what led to this year’s adventure to the Dominican Republic over Christmas.

After years of growing families, the Friswold Christmas spectacle of the classic gift exchange had expanded almost to the point we couldn’t fit all the gifts in one room. This was despite an effort long ago to rein things in by drawing individual names for the adults giving gifts.

I witnessed Cyndie and her brothers making an effort to encourage moderation, but it’s hard to restrain the love of giving. It was difficult to detect much evidence of change.

They were also putting energy and imagination toward devising ways to reduce the (mostly self-imposed) burden on Marie of hosting to the nines for hours on end, three or four days in a row. That effort was also producing mixed results.

Then, along came the year 2017, which just happened to include several significant milestones for Fred and Marie. They both celebrated 80th birthdays, certainly a benchmark for which they deserve the reasonable courtesy of reduced stress and aggravation in their days.

Equally noteworthy is this year’s marking of their 60th wedding anniversary. With these special events dealt to their hands, the two cunning card players set about making the big play.

Obviously, they had been counting cards all along, because they knew what was going to be dealt in advance. We found out a full year ago that Fred and Marie wanted to bring the whole clan to the Dominican Republic for Christmas this year.

No names will be drawn, no food needs to be planned or prepared, no setting up of tables and chairs, no world-class flower arrangements will need to be flown from Boston by Carlos, no dishes will need to be done for hours on end.

We will have the gift of a full week of each other’s company in the warmth of sun, sand, palm trees, and ocean breezes.

The whole clan, together again like a decade ago on Hilton Head Island.

I have no concept of what they could possibly dream up that could top this ten years from now, in celebration of their 70th anniversary.

What a family.

To Fred and Marie:

You have done the world a great service, raising these four amazing individuals with so much love.

You’ve given me an amazing opportunity to be included as family. You have blessed all your grandchildren with bountiful and limitless love.

Here’s hoping your dreams for this tropical Christmas were fulfilled, and that you enjoy many more days as stress-free as this week hopefully was for you both.

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Five Years

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Happy Anniversary, Wintervale!

This week, five years ago, is when we made the big leap from the suburbs in Minnesota to the rolling countryside of west-central Wisconsin. We only moved about an hour east, but in many ways, we are a world away from our previous life.

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There is so much that I didn’t have a clue about in October of 2012 when we committed to this new adventure. Actually, that is one thing I was very certain about, …that I didn’t have any idea what would happen next.

In the five years since, we accomplished a remarkable number of things, most of them made up as we went along. There was no grand five-year plan, just a vague idea of what we thought we could do. It has really been more of a case of multiple one-year plans, each one blossoming into the next.

Honestly, we’ve had a remarkable number of successes that have fueled inspirations to take on whatever next possibility showed up in the light of each additional day.

The idea that we could even end up here in the first place was born even further back than five years ago, in September of 2010 when we traveled to Portugal to meet Ian Rowcliffe. Ian’s insights, wisdom, and initiative to nurture his Forest Garden Estate planted a seed in us that has blossomed into what Wintervale Ranch is today.

We also give a lot of credit to Tom and Sue Sherry, who helped design our layout and fencing, doing the work under their company, Best Built Fence, but becoming friends, as well. They deftly interpreted our dreams to devise a real world layout that suited us perfectly.

Honorable mention goes to nature, itself. The four seasons, the extremes of weather, and the march of time have done the most to shape this land since we arrived. From the onslaught of 18 inches of heavy, wet spring snow in the first days of May, 2013, to the flash-flooding rains of 2017, many changes are forced upon us whether we want them, or not.

The simple growth of trees becomes a striking reference of change through a span of five years.

I didn’t find an exact matching shot, but this recent picture of the mailbox with the Wintervale flag and signs caught a corner of one tree by the road that has tripled in size.

Can you spot it in the picture on the left above, to the right of the moving van backing up the driveway?

We’ve come a long way in five years, baby. Now, without a break, we are jumping into our sixth and everything is just going to keep on growing.

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Written by johnwhays

October 20, 2017 at 6:00 am