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

Posts Tagged ‘Cyndie

Sixty Years

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Sunday evening was definitely the grand finale of the weekend family celebration of Cyndie’s milestone birthday. It would have been easy to confuse the occasion with a Friswold Christmas dinner for a number of reasons, most noticeably, the inclusion of the artificial tree (left up all year in the rarely used basement these days).

Cyndie’s parents and brothers planned, prepared, put together, and pulled off one heck of a spectacular customized evening to give the birthday girl exactly what she wanted, and more.

With tie-dye patterned flags and a “peace” banner adorning the tree, they presented a basket filled with a wide variety of crazy photos of Cyndie in every stage of life. Family members took turns selecting photos to hang on the tree, presenting each with a personal message for the girl.

Love overflowed. The tree and Cyndie glowed.

Fred offered readings from some ancestors’ letters providing fabulous historic perspective, followed by a powerful statement written recently by brother Ben, addressing present-day issues. The profound meaning of this sharing was perfect for an occasion to honor and celebrate Cyndie, especially with honorary “adopted” sister, Rabi, from Kenya present (who surprised Cyndie by flying in from out-of-town for the event).

There was also a light-hearted reading from Marie, ala the custom-composed candy prose she masterfully wrote and designed. I didn’t see if Cyndie, or nieces and nephews, ended up with the haul when it was deconstructed.

Marie set out well-loved appetizer choices and Carlos enlisted assistants to put finishing touches on place settings for dinner. Truly works of art that lifted the evening to out-of-this-world (and incomparable) levels.









The meal was some of Marie’s best beef tenderloin ever, garnished with just the right compliment of potato, vegetables, salad, and bread. Of course that was finished with Norwegian Cream and some obligatory birthday cake.

It was truly a wonderful evening. The best of everything family. There is no questioning the Friswold’s ability to put on a special birthday party.

The entire weekend was an absolutely perfect way to celebrate sixty years of Cyndie’s amazing life.



Written by johnwhays

June 12, 2018 at 6:00 am

All About

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Cyndie. This Weekend, it’s all about Cyndie as we celebrate the milestone of her 60th birthday. With Jackie tending to animal chores at Wintervale, Cyndie and I are submersed in the loving energy –and I do mean energy– of the Friswold family. We are staying at her parent’s house in Edina, MN, but have twice in a row found our way to downtown Minneapolis.

Last night, it was dinner and music at the Dakota, where we ate like royalty and swooned over Shawn Colvin‘s very personal solo guitar song performance.

This morning, Cyndie is sleeping in. My brain is busy trying to process the onslaught of activity, memories, and emotions –not to mention distractions of mental and physical preparations for my biking and camping trip that starts on Friday– conspiring to confuse me over whether it’s all about Cyndie, or all about me right now.

I had the great pleasure of starting the day yesterday riding bikes with Cyndie’s brother, Ben. He rode over from about a mile away just as a rumble of thunder rolled over us.

We took pause inside to watch the radar long enough to see we would have a perfect window of opportunity after a very short wait. The tiny disturbance sliding south of us was just a precursor to the precipitation that would arrive in the middle of the day and hang around for the afternoon.

While the sky was watering the earth, more of the Friswold clan gathered for lunch at Jimmy’s restaurant near our old Eden Prairie stomping grounds.

After a little nap before heading out for the night, attention turned to a gift brother Barry presented to Cyndie. Her jaw dropped when she saw her younger face on the cover of a memory book of pictures he had spent many loving hours to produce.

Just as she finished a first pass through the overwhelming collection of memories the images trigger, we stood to witness Justify run for the triple crown. Then eleven of us headed out for dinner and the concert.

With noted local musician and song-a-day YouTuber, Zachary Scot Johnson opening the show for Shawn Colvin, we were treated to a range of guitar-accompanied stories, providing me with a second recent prompt to wonder whether I am still a guitar player, or not.

A variety of reasons have combined to allow months to pass without my spending time with fingers on frets. I am inclined to blame my yet-to-be surgically treated arthritic left thumb as the primary culprit for the hiatus, but deep down, I have a sense I may be giving that more credit than is due.

Somehow, while distracted with too many of my own concerns rarely focused on accomplishments, I have been granted the chance to flutter around the bright light that is Cyndie for 44-some years.

It makes for a tangled web that isn’t so much all about her or me in the end. It really has become all about us.



Written by johnwhays

June 10, 2018 at 8:35 am

Speaking Easy

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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.


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

Core Four

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Well, I’m glad that’s finally over. We got all that crazy birthday celebrating out of the way for Cyndie yesterday with a dinner out for the core four –us and our two adult children. That takes care of that for another year.

Oh, have you met Cyndie’s family of origin? Last night was far from the end of birthday festivities for her. There still remains almost a week of planned events, including family coming in from out-of-town, more dinners out, music and dinner at the Dakota downtown, a dinner in, and who knows what else they have yet to reveal.

Yesterday, Cyndie treated herself to a spa/massage session in the morning and topped off her day with the core four dinner at the very trendy “Young Joni” restaurant in North Minneapolis. It was too popular to get an open reservation, so we settled on sitting at the bar to eat.

I would say the popularity is deserved. We had an excellent experience.

After we got home, we learned the restaurant was a product of our friend Mike Wilkus’ architectural firm. No wonder it felt so comfortable to us.

While walking Delilah when I got home, I remembered to tend to a tree that caught my attention when touring the property on Sunday with the DNR Forester.

Don’t be this guy: Five years ago we had a wicked spring snowstorm that dropped 18 inches of snow on the 2nd/3rd of May. Many trees were damaged. To save one pine, I tied a rope to secure it to another tree to keep it from tipping all the way over. Then I forgot about. For five years.

In an attempt to save the tree, I girdled it by neglecting to check and adjust the support.


Never mind.

That’s not what I meant to do.

At least the birds appear to be getting something out of the tree, but I guarantee you, they are not getting anything close to the fine cuisine the four of us enjoyed for Cyndie’s birthday dinner last night.



Written by johnwhays

June 5, 2018 at 6:00 am

New Information

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Sixty years ago today, before I was even born, the best thing that could ever happen for me took place. With eternal gratitude to Fred and Marie Friswold, today, June 4th, I boast to the world that it is Cyndie’s birthday!

Happy Birthday, my love!

After a jam-packed weekend of social events and more, we begin this week with new information and new energy.

First, after a scheduled appointment for our vet to visit and give the horses their spring shots, we came up with a plan for how we will proceed into the summer grazing season. Both Cayenne and Hunter are showing signs of good health with their sensitive laminitic front hooves. The diet of reduced portions has their weight under control, and more importantly, it has been achieved with minimal evidence of angst from the horses.

Going forward, we are going to work on getting them used to wearing muzzles to slow down their pasture grazing. We will then feed them dry hay in the morning to fill them up and give them muzzled access to a previously mowed (shorter grass = smaller bites of cake) pasture in the afternoons. They will be confined to the dry paddocks overnight, with no added hay available until the next morning.

Most important for us will be the attitude the horses have about their situation. If they are okay with it, that will be the definition of acceptability. If they balk over any of it, we will work to adjust accordingly. Our goal is to keep their weight down, yet give them some time to enjoy the freedom to move about in the open pasture and “graze” as close to normal as possible.

The next big thing that we learned came as a result of a visit from our local DNR Forester yesterday. My key takeaway from that consultation was the value of cutting trees beneath the canopy of mature trees we favor. Growth that reaches up to encroach on the lower branches of the favored tree should be removed.

He asserted that the primary focus is on providing the most sunlight to encourage growth, but protecting lower branches from competition will also help keep the mature trees healthy.

My first inclination is never to cut down any tree, but our Forester convinced me that cutting some will enhance others. I need to get more comfortable pruning entire trees, in the way I am comfortable pruning a few branches to shape a single tree.

He suggested clear cutting some areas, like stands of aspen, to open up sunlight and entice energized bursts of new growth to expand the grove. It seems so counter-intuitive. I want more trees, not less. Apparently, a little loss now, produces bigger gains later. In his mind, it doesn’t take that long.

Time is a relative thing. I’m not feeling that patient.

I was surprised to learn that he felt our highest priority should be to work on removing invasive garlic mustard. I did a quick Google search and the response was rich with states battling the troublesome intruder. Our Forester said we should pull the plants, bag them in plastic garbage bags and throw them in the trash.

Among the many other battles we are already waging, like vines, common buckthorn, and poison ivy, we now will move garlic mustard to the top priority.

Oh, joy.



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