Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘Cyndie

April Fooling

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We get the joke. Today starts the fourth month of 2018, and despite the general trend of average warmth climbing around the globe, we woke to teeth-chattering cold. The clear sky overnight was wonderful for viewing the blue moon, but it also contributed to the drop in temperature.

We had a reading of 10°(F) before the sun came up. With the fresh coating of snow on the ground from Friday night’s storm, there is cold in the air, as well as radiating from the ground.

We’re not laughing.

It seems like the forest animals weren’t much interested in facing the cold, either. In a search for tracks around the full perimeter of our property, there were surprisingly few foot prints revealing activity. Based on the evidence we collected, a rabbit was the only critter moving around.

At least we know that it didn’t have any problems with dodging predators.

The cougar that growled near Cyndie and Delilah last week is likely long gone after its journey past our home. We did a search in the neighboring woods where the eery sounds came from last week, but did not find any hint of a foot print or disturbed snow where the drama played out.

In a long shot reaction, I mounted our trail camera to observe the trail closest to the area, but it only provided added evidence that nothing was moving around after the snow, except Delilah and me.

Yesterday, Cyndie unleashed a great weapon against cold and snow. She filled the house with the smells of fresh-baked buns and whipped together a couple of egg bakes for a family brunch today.

No foolin’.



Written by johnwhays

April 1, 2018 at 9:27 am

Her Story

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This is what she said: “If we were in the tropics, I would swear the sound we heard came from a tiger.”

When I got home from work yesterday, Cyndie described a morning adventure she and Delilah had. Due to a morning breakfast date with her dad in St. Paul, Cyndie rousted Delilah a little earlier than usual for a morning walk.

When they stepped out the front door into the pre-dawn light, the “tiger” unleashed a roar that stopped them in their tracks.

Cyndie said Delilah looked back at her as if for instruction, or possibly to check if maybe they could go back inside. They stood there, frozen and then the cat snarled again. Amid the sound of breaking sticks, Cyndie noted there were also unhappy sounds from an unwilling critter victim.

Delilah took a step forward, as Cyndie described it, as if her instinct was leading her to chase, but then quickly thought better and looked back again for direction. The sounds of the fracas started and stopped a few times while they stood there, but Cyndie could not make out any sign of where in the woods the action was occurring.

Deciding it felt prudent to put more space between themselves and the wild cat, Cyndie directed Delilah to turn around and head for the driveway, instead of down the trail in the woods.


It’s a good thing our chickens aren’t out roaming around when it’s dark. At the same time, I sure hope this predator continues to find enough meals in the hours when our hens are safely roosting in their coop, so it won’t need to do any supplementary hunting during the day.

Oh my.



Written by johnwhays

March 30, 2018 at 6:00 am

Past Blast

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Yesterday, a co-worker pointed out that it reached 80° in March six years ago. I had no recollection whatsoever about what I was doing in March of 2012, but I pointed out that I have this handy-dandy online journal that allows me to easily check.

The blast from my past that appeared on my screen was very interesting to read, in relation to some of the current challenges and discussions Cyndie and I have been having lately regarding what lies in store for us and Wintervale Ranch.

I am moved to re-post what I wrote for March 29, 2012:

Dream Hesitation

What the heck do I know about owning a horse farm? With the brains of this organization off gallivanting around Boston right now, it is I, your humble correspondent, who am on the front line of decision making. Yesterday, we received the first batch of properties from the realtor we met with a month ago, and I noticed some things about the listings that triggered a little apprehension in me.

“Do we know what we want to spend?” she wrote. Um… no. Well, that’s not true. We would like to spend nothing, but I assume that is not going to bring the results we are hoping for.

Private sewer? This property has a private sewer. Oh, just what I always wanted, a sewer of my own.

One property had a lot of acreage, but within a flood plain. Do I want to open that box?

Then, there are all the improvements we did to our home of 25 years. Looking at this first list of potential properties, I see all the things we’ve already done here, needing to be done all over again. Oy. Siding, insulation, gas fireplace insert, gutters, windows, garage door and floor, new driveway, landscaping, kitchen remodel, bathroom upgrades. Did I mention siding?

And, of course, now we are going to have all the walls and ceilings here repaired, freshly painted, and new carpet installed! How many of you can see John deciding to stay here and rent a stall in a stable nearby for Cyndie to have a horse?

Cyndie is the true dreamer of our team. I’m just a tag-along. I fill in some of the creative blanks, but I also tend to drag in a bit more realism (read “pessimism”) than she wants to hear. I guess we are a good balance, eh?

It doesn’t feel right trying to do this without her around.

But, hey, don’t let me get you down. This is just a normal phase of my processing things. I’ll get over it. Seriously. And, Cyndie visits again in about 3-weeks. In just a few minutes of arriving, she’ll have me back up on our dream cloud and we’ll be designing our little paradise together as if it is what my whole life groomed me to be doing.

Meanwhile, maybe I should sneak out to visit the horses she tends to here, on my own, and just stand near them… see if I can hear what they have to say. I could use a dose of their wisdom.

. * . * . * . * . * . * .


It is so interesting for me to read that, especially the end. I had zero experience with horses at that time.

We did end up designing a little paradise together, and it has felt like what my life groomed me to be doing. At the same time, it feels jarring to read my pondering about staying put in our old house and renting a stall for keeping a horse when questions have been popping up recently about the viability of our current situation.

The past really does provide an interesting reference for the present.



Written by johnwhays

March 8, 2018 at 7:00 am

Looking Around

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Without a doubt, one of the best rewards for receiving over a foot of snow in one day is the beautiful landscape views we get to enjoy for days after.

Cyndie has been capturing and sharing a series of sunrise photos for me in the last couple of weeks. This fleeting glimpse of sunshine from yesterday was the only view of the ball of fire that she got all day. Clouds filled in shortly after the picture was taken and gray ruled the rest of the day.

Luckily, it just so happens that a gray winter sky provides really nice light for taking pictures.

I think Cyndie has acquired a keen sense of what appeals to me in photographs.









If she had put these images on my computer without telling me, I would have thought I’d taken the pictures myself.



Written by johnwhays

January 25, 2018 at 7:00 am

Getting Married

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After six years of off-again, on-again navigating our growing relationship, Cyndie and I committed to cementing our connection in marriage. During a summer break when she was home from a graduate program at San Diego State University, we decided to begin the process.

I remember pausing on a bench in the 50th & France shops area where we asked each other, once and for all, if we were prepared to make this commitment. Then, we walked into a store to talk to a jeweler about making a ring that we designed ourselves.

We didn’t specifically speak about it again until I made a formal proposal in the form of a Christmas present I gave her at a Hays family gift exchange in December, 1980.

During the intervening months, I worked on a wax model of the ring, delivered it to the jeweler for casting, and asked for the blessings of our parents.

I’m pretty sure I surprised my parents by even asking. My father’s reaction was to say that I didn’t need his approval. Happily, Mom and Dad both offered their support.

Asking Cyndie’s parents, Fred and Marie, was a lot more nerve-wracking. All these years later, the thing we laugh about is that Marie was in the middle of untangling Christmas lights when I finally summoned the courage to utter the request for their daughter’s hand in marriage.

“You’re asking me now? In the middle of this tangle of lights!?”

Caught them by surprise, too.

I was incredibly relieved to find they were able to maintain their composure and avoided grilling me too hard about what the future might hold. Despite my worries, they accepted me as I am and gave me permission to marry their oldest child.

To this day, I have difficulty comprehending how they were able to process the reality of the events I had set in motion that day.

Marie was sworn to secrecy from that moment until I “officially” popped the question, but she didn’t know exactly when that would be. It was a wonderfully joyful night when we finally were able to share the news with Cyndie’s whole family.

I’m the fifth of six siblings, and my getting married was not incredibly dramatic in the grand scheme of other Hays family significant events. Cyndie is a first-born, their oldest daughter, and the first child to be married. I knew this was a big deal.

Beyond the amazing bond being put in place for Cyndie and me, the next biggest impact was that I was becoming a member of the Friswold family. That brought benefits and responsibilities that stretched the limits of my ability to grasp.

It is inextricably linked with the soul-connection Cyndie and I share. It is an honor of epic proportions that I am humbled to be able to claim.











Written by johnwhays

December 23, 2017 at 7:00 am

The Note

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In the fall of 1974, a group formed to attend an October session of Bill Gothard’s Basic Youth Conflicts Seminar at the Civic Center in downtown St. Paul. Cyndie was not only in the group, she offered to drive. It would be my second opportunity to spend time in her proximity and she was a powerful blip on my radar.

On the second to last night, after we pulled out of the parking ramp, a 3-ring binder that someone left on the roof of the car slid off, hit the road and burst into a cloud of pages. What a disaster.

Without wasting a second, Cyndie choreographed a controlled response where we pulled over safely, everyone jumped out (probably dangerously) and chased down pages. Shrieking and laughing, we saved every last page and made it back into the car without further incident.

We drove on as if nothing had happened.

It was such a combination of out-of-control chaos, yet at the same time, calm, controlled recovery, that I struggled to comprehend what I had just experienced. Cyndie didn’t show any sign of stress over the situation. I was captivated by the mastery of her response to the calamity.

I ended up in the passenger seat directly behind the driver in a station wagon packed with bodies. Suddenly, Cyndie’s arm swung around and the huge parcel she carried as a purse landed in my lap.

“Hold this while I drive.” I was instructed.

I’m not sure how I managed it in that car full of rowdy teenagers, but with little light and less space, I decided to write her a note to express how taken I was by her impressive handling of the event and the screaming car-full of panicked kids.

It was a little scrap of paper that I slid into that huge bag, wondering if it would ever be found.

Wanting to convey that I was falling madly in love with her, but not knowing her well enough to justify it, I remember ending it with the precautionary qualification.

“Too mushy?”

The following day, the last one of the seminar, I learned Cyndie did indeed find the note. She handed me an envelope filled with multiple handwritten pages in response.

We were sensing a similar vibe.

Sometime after that, we went on our first date. My mom dropped me off at Cyndie’s house and Cyndie drove us to the Southdale shopping mall. I was fifteen years old, she was sixteen.

Cyndie saved that note I slipped into her purse. Last time she pulled it out again to show me, I had a hard time reading it. I don’t know exactly what that was about. I’m probably just too old now to deal with the fifteen-year-old version of myself.

I’m so grateful that she was able to accurately interpret what I was trying to say that crazy night in the seat behind her in the car.



Written by johnwhays

December 22, 2017 at 7:00 am

Advance Warning

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The WDOA has issued the following High Level Alert:


WDOA26 WRLC 171120

Wintervale Alerts Service Beldenville WI
529 AM CST Tue Nov 21 2017

Including the city of Beldenville
529 AM CST Tue Nov 21 2017

3, 2018...

* WHAT...High calories occurring. Plan on incredible food conditions,
  including during the evening meals. Additional treat
  accumulations of 2 to 3 batches per hour are expected. Quantities will
  fluctuate with periods of heavy servings throughout the alert duration.

* WHERE...Pierce County, especially in the areas of Cyndie's kitchen.

* WHEN...Until 9 PM CST on January 3, 2018.

* ADDITIONAL DETAILS...The most delectable treats will appear whenever
  Cyndie is in the vicinity of her kitchen. Be prepared for irresistible
  aromas and disappearing room in stomachs at times of intense baking.


A Dangerous Consumption Advisory for seasonal foodstuffs means periods of 
high calorie appetizers, entrees, and desserts may lead to self-control difficulties.
Be prepared for off-the-charts satisfaction, and use caution while chewing.


Written by johnwhays

November 21, 2017 at 7:00 am