Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘celebration

First Visit

leave a comment »

I finally made it to a MN United Football Club match in their home stadium, Allianz Field. Since it is located very close to Elysa’s home, she initiated having the four of us –Cyndie, me, Elysa, and Julian– go see a game as a celebration of my birthday earlier this summer. It took us until the last home game of the season to fit it into our schedule, but that turned out to be fan appreciation night, so it felt even more celebratory.

The night kicked off with another first for me. On the walk from Elysa’s neighborhood to the stadium, we stopped for dinner on Snelling Avenue at Fasika Ethiopian Restaurant. I think I would have enjoyed it even more if I’d had a knife and fork, but the spongy flatbread, injera for grabbing bite-sized portions of the spicy meats helped make the meal more out-of-this-world for me. Certainly out of my world.

From there, it was just a short distance across the street to the stadium and the thrills and spectacle of MLS soccer.

We landed great seats in a facility where there doesn’t appear to be any bad seats in the house. One feature I noticed right away was the impressive technology of lighting installed.

They didn’t seem as in control when it came to pyrotechnics.

The smoke from pregame on-field fireworks obscured the view and spoiled the air for longer than I think they would have liked.

The game was pretty entertaining, despite the time of possession being lopsided away from the home team, who spent most of their time on the defensive.

I snapped a shot as we set up for a corner kick.

Julian topped that when he captured a video of the free-kick which resulted in the tying goal in a 1-1 draw.

The match started under a misting rain, but the stadium seating is beneath an overhang that sheltered us from getting wet. That went a long way to securing the night as a very comfortable and entertaining experience.

It would have been great if the MNUFC Loons would have won, but on the other hand, at least they didn’t lose.

Too bad the NFL Vikings can’t say the same thing about their game on Sunday. (The outcome of that game was definitely NOT a first in my experience as a follower of our home teams.)

.

.

Written by johnwhays

October 1, 2019 at 6:00 am

Celebration Dinner

leave a comment »

It was a small gathering last night, in terms of usual for a birthday event celebrated by Cyndie’s family. Our two kids and Cyndie’s parents met downtown in Minneapolis for a royal feast at the Melting Pot restaurant for Julian’s birthday dinner.

The fact that it was also Cyndie’s and my 38th wedding anniversary helped to bolster the celebration a couple of notches.

The multiple courses of fondue made for a long meal. I didn’t get around to snapping photos until we were working on dessert because I had been so focused on cooking my own food.

Fred had the best line of the night when he said to the waiter, “My compliments to the chef!”

There were so many flavors being mixed and mingled it was dizzying. Most of the time, I didn’t know what I was eating, but it all tasted mighty good. My entree was a combination of meats that included shrimp, pork, chicken, and beef with a variety of spices. Add in six versions of dipping sauces and the two different flavored cooking oils and I had a good excuse for struggling to identify each bite.

It felt wonderfully celebratory!

.

.

Real Joy

with 2 comments

We are up at the lake for our US holiday weekend closest to Independence Day and large numbers of family are in attendance. That makes for special times. Even though the earth is shaking in California and stupid statements fly in Washington, D.C., our attention is localized in the here and now.

Last night the cousins and friends gathered around a table for a rousing game of “Catch Phrase” which blossomed into a classic manifestation of unbridled joy.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

It’s as much fun to watch as it is being a contestant.

Today, the seven families of our Wildwood Lodge Club will congregate at the lodge for a flag raising and National Anthem followed by a parade up and down the driveway. Then, the games commence. Fierce competitions of coordination and silliness between teams labeled “bats” and “mice” as we toss balloons, kick shoes, and gobble watermelon.

Next, there will be a massive community feast in the lodge and maybe a few fireworks after dark.

Laughter abounds throughout it all.

Extended family, and friends and neighbors who have always been close as family, sharing time and activities together in the glorious lakeside summer sunshine.

Even though there are harsh realities in the world, moments of our freedom and independence can be celebrated among smaller communities who know how to show love to others and be loved ourselves.

We are very lucky, and I absolutely cherish these times when we get to be at the lake with the people who know us best, experiencing real joy and sharing so much genuine love.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

July 6, 2019 at 8:37 am

Celebrations Begin

leave a comment »

I think I’ve mentioned before that birthday dinners are a staple tradition in Cyndie’s family, and we doubled up yesterday, dining out twice. Barry and Carlos were sweet to travel all the way from Boston to help celebrate my big 6-0 milestone, and Cyndie brought them directly from the airport to take me out to lunch.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Salmon salad! One of my favorites that won out over fish and chips.

For dinner, the whole crew, minus nieces and nephews, met downtown in Minneapolis on the rooftop of UNION Bar & Grill. As the sun dropped below an adjacent building, they rolled back the glass roof so we were able to dine under the evening sky.

Festive!

Thank you to Barry, Cyndie, Steve, and Sara for contributing photos!

.

.

Written by johnwhays

June 27, 2019 at 6:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

Tagged with , , , ,

My Turn

with 4 comments

Today it is my turn to join the club of 60-year-olds. Sixty years ago today I showed up as the latest addition to the Hays clan. Luckily, we tend toward not remembering our moment of arrival, but I bet I was kicking and screaming until that warm blanket swaddled me tightly. By my calculations, I have just completed a third stint of becoming a twenty-year-old.

I’m pretty confident that I am twenty years smarter than I was when I reached forty.

I will always remember the spectacular celebration of my fortieth birthday, because my life-long chum, Paul Keiski, and I combined our adjacent birthdays with a plan to thwart our wives trying to hold a surprise party for us. We announced a plot to do a nighttime 40-mile bike ride figuring nobody would be crazy enough to participate.

Turned out there were a lot more crazy people than we accounted for, so a fabulous group night-ride became an annual necessity for years after. That night when Paul’s birthday ended and mine started, we decided we had each ridden 20 moonlit miles by that point, so together, forty had been achieved.

Now, twenty years later, we gave in and let our wives plan a celebration event. I fear it may dwarf either of our weddings in terms of their efforts to prepare food, beverages, and entertainment for a wedding-sized guest list.

Once again, Paul came up with the perfect antidote for too much party. This time we are going to do all the miles.

Turns out, the distance between Paul’s house and Wintervale Ranch, location of the joint-birthday gala, is sixty miles. He suggested we ride our bikes to the party.

Count me in!

Pedaling from the biggest city in Minnesota to our country sanctuary is symbolic in more ways than just the mileage for me. Joining Paul for the journey is icing on the cake.

It is a precious treat to be sharing the process of aging with a pal to whom you’ve been connected since grade school.

Happy Birthday to Paul (yesterday) and me (today)!

.

.

 

Written by johnwhays

June 26, 2019 at 6:00 am

Without Pause

leave a comment »

I barely had time to unpack and catch my breath on Friday evening upon arrival home from the weeklong adventure of biking and camping, before the next flurry of activity began. At this time yesterday, I was in Cyndie’s car finishing up yesterday’s blog post as we raced west toward Chaska for a morning wedding of the daughter of one of our old school mates.

We didn’t have time to linger at the reception, because our afternoon and evening were reserved for the celebration of our daughter Elysa’s birthday. With their slick planning, Cyndie and Elysa had everything set for an excellent combination of activities.


Dressed in our summer wedding fare, we started the afternoon with a visit to Elysa and Ande’s garden plot near their home in St. Paul where we dumped 5 bags of Wintervale compost to cover their sprouting potato plants. Another gardener commented that we seemed a little overdressed for the task.

After that, it was an exploration through the bizarre collection of miscellaneous goods at Axman Surplus. They have everything you couldn’t possibly need, but always find some way to use. Birthday glasses!

Early dinner at On’s Kitchen on University Avenue to avoid the rush for Thai cuisine (Mmmm, Pad Thai!), and then Can Can Wonderland for entertainment.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

We chose to pass on the two-hour wait for the artist-designed mini-golf and settled for old-style pinball from my days of youth, skee-ball, ping pong, and bubble hockey, topped off with a round of beverages. A perfect birthday extravaganza.

Elysa got a candle in her drink.

I think I got more rest last week during the bike trip. Yesterday was like an added bonus day of adventure.

Now I could use a vacation from all my vacation.

Happy, happy birthday, Elysa!

.

.

Written by johnwhays

June 23, 2019 at 10:00 am

Speaking Easy

with 2 comments

No time to write on and on about absolutely everything we’ve already done (yesterday) that was incredibly fantastic to celebrate Cyndie’s big birthday (that actually transpired last Monday), because I am heading out early this morning to put on more bike miles with her brother, Ben.

But… I must at the very least mention the superb speakeasy in Uptown Cyndie picked for a first-stop before the spectacular dinner in downtown Minneapolis that we enjoyed with Barry and Carlos last night.

In classic form, the entrance is virtually invisible. We reached the appointed address on Lake Street, but made the rookie mistake of hunting inside the front door of said address. A charitable resident recognized our obvious “searching” mannerisms and gave away the secret.

Of course. Walk through the alley to the back side of the building, go around the dumpsters, look past the HVAC unit for a metal door with a covered slit for a window. Rap on the door and the cover slides open to reveal two eyes asking if we are there to look at their hats.

“Sure.”

The door opens and we step inside, where our ID’s need to be checked to find out our “hat size.” Then it is down the stairs into the ultimate destination for some drinks and eats in a perfect atmosphere depicting our perception of what a speakeasy of yesteryear might have been like.

The only other thing they could have added to enhance the experience would be a police raid with us scrambling out a back way to escape.

A beautiful night, great food, and precious company celebrating a special birthday girl.

It couldn’t have been any easier than that.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

June 9, 2018 at 6:00 am