Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘discovery

Surprisingly Close

with 5 comments

It didn’t take me long to find the 1880 US census record for my 2nd-great-grandfather, Stephen W. Hays in Pierce County. In an almost comical confirmation of the unreliability of name spellings when doing research, the record I found was listed for “Stiven” Hays. I’m not clear whether that was attributable to an initial misspelling, the handwriting of the actual census recorder, or the loose interpretation by the subsequent person(s) scanning and labeling the originals into digital form.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

The Hays family of Stephen and Judith and two of their sons are counted on the pages for Esdaile, Wisconsin. I was stunned to find this previously-unknown-to-me community is on the equivalence of 650th Street just about 13 miles south of our current home. Our driveway is also on 650th Street, which is an amazing bit of synchronicity and surprisingly close, in my opinion.

This opens up the next level of investigation, as I strive to discover just exactly what address they resided at during the thirteen years from 1871 to 1884 that they were in Pierce county, as reported in Stephen’s obituary article.

I don’t have deep knowledge of this period of history, but my intuition senses that relocating as often as the article indicates they did probably wasn’t an insignificant feat. It’s possible that it wasn’t as big a deal for them as I imagine, but I doubt I would be up to that frequency of big moves. At the same time, if it was actually a huge task for them, it begs the question to me of why they moved as often and as far away as they did.

The 1880 Census lists Stephen’s occupation as “Wagon Maker.” A quick review of wagons and wainwrights reveals that the 1880s were a boom time for that mode of horse-drawn transporting of both humans and goods so maybe Stephen was simply following opportunities in his field.

The accompanying portrait of the man evokes more of a Lincoln-esque stature than the shorter, rounder impressions of male Hays faces going back from me to my dad, to his dad, all the way to Stephen’s son, my great-grandfather John W. Hays. Maybe it’s the beard. I couldn’t grow something like that if my life depended on it.

Maybe there was more influence on appearance from the maternal sides of those generations after Stephen.

Cyndie and I hope to take a drive to explore the properties around Esdaile this weekend to see if we stumble on anything that looks over a hundred years old. If I see any antique-looking wagon wheels propped up somewhere, you can bet I’ll start asking questions.

I’ve ordered a historic map from the Pierce County historical society and plan to do some research on land records. As long as we’ve discovered they lived this close, it would mean a lot to me to also learn if they owned property that I could now visit knowing my forefather had once walked that same land, too.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

February 5, 2020 at 7:00 am

Infuriating Sounds

with 12 comments

I’m just discovering this now. The irrational over-reaction I occasionally experience –say, to the mouth sounds of my wife chewing beside me– has a label: Misophonia. I’m well aware of plenty of people who voice irritation over a variety of particular sounds, but reading about the fight-or-flight reaction being triggered in the brain really caught my attention.

When I feel this surprisingly intense anxiety pop up, as the ambient quiet of an evening gets disrupted by the munching of almonds, I have been curious about a sudden desire to crawl out of my skin in hope of escape.

It’s as if I’m being attacked.

Since it is obvious that I’m not, the idea that my brain is firing as if the command to run away has been triggered, seems like a very plausible explanation.

Almost everyone is irritated by the sound of fingernails across a chalkboard, but a misophonic reaction goes well beyond irritation.

Misophonia is characterized by intense emotion like rage or fear in response to highly specific sounds, particularly ordinary sounds that other people make…

“It’s as if the survival part of the brain thinks somehow it’s being attacked or it’s in danger…”

https://www.mprnews.org/story/2019/03/18/npr-misophonia-when-lifes-noises-drive-you-mad

.

Choosing to just ignore the sound is not an option when your brain has fired and the whole body is revving up for a fight.

“Must. Stop. That. Sound. Before it kills me!”

My siblings may recall our family dinnertime ritual of being chastised by our beloved sister, Linda, for letting our teeth make contact with our fork.

I now have a better understanding of why that probably made her so angry.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

March 22, 2019 at 6:00 am

Don’t Miss

leave a comment »

If you are a fan of popular music and the art of multi-track recording, don’t miss this documentary currently showing on PBS!

soundbreaking

aboutsoundbreakingWe stumbled upon the second episode last night and became instantly entranced. I always marvel over seeing that someone made the effort to record video —and subsequently save for later discovery— of surprisingly authentic moments of activity, like musicians working on a song.

Who thought to record video of these bands before they knew the group would turn out to be worth the effort?

This show renews my appreciation for the amount of creative manipulation behind all the recorded music we get to hear. It’s something that is too easy to take for granted.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

November 16, 2016 at 7:00 am

Bitter Discovery

leave a comment »

There is a tree beside the shop garage with a canopy that overhangs a significant portion of the roof. There is no mistaking that it is a nut-tree, because this time of year it starts dropping its fruit with a bang. If they hit just right, it can make a sound like a shot from a rifle. Even if they don’t hit just right, the clank is unpleasantly startling if you are close, and surprisingly loud if you are further away.

That initial report is followed by an amusing rattle as the seed pod rolls down the slant of the metal roof. You can hear them gaining speed as they approach the edge, where they then drop down to another metal roof that covers the entry door, before rolling off that surface to the ground.

The driveway in front of the garage is getting littered with nuts, so I decided to collect a few of them. I was under the impression that this tree was just like the many other nut trees on our property, butternut trees. Since the nuts of the butternut tree are known for having a good flavor, every fall I feel like we should be collecting them for use somehow.

We did take a crack at it the first year we were here, but while waiting for them to dry out, they got all funky and we threw them away. I wanted to try again. I encouraged Cyndie to start collecting them and look up ways to prepare them for consumption.dscn5203e

A day later she was asking me to look into it, because these didn’t look like the pictures she was finding for butternuts.

Sure enough, I quickly discovered these were not butternuts. This tree is a bitternut hickory, providing just the opposite of good flavor. I think it is funny that it took me this many years to figure out it was a different nut.

While researching a comparison of the two types of trees I stumbled upon an alarming detail about the butternut tree. It produces a toxin that can stunt growth or even kill certain susceptible plants in the vicinity of its roots.

Included in the list of susceptible plants: white pine and red pine.

Could that be what has been taking out our pines?

Plenty of the details match what we have witnessed in the last few years.

If I find out cedar trees can tolerate the toxin, that’s what I’d like to plant in place of those lost pines.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

September 23, 2016 at 6:00 am

The Lake

leave a comment »

DSCN3250eIt was now Monday morning and we were staying at Karin and Bill’s house at Lake Atitlán. Marco and Bill are architects and business partners. The house is tucked beside the rustic hotel Posada de Santiago, and surrounded by incredibly gorgeous landscaped gardens.

The first thing we did when we woke up was walk across the road to the lake and sit in the hotel pool area, taking in the vista of the volcano San Pedro reflected on the water. The early morning air was calm. A cloudy mist floated above the surface of the water where fishermen in their canoes and flat bottom boats slowly plied their crafts.

DSCN3172eDSCN3173eDSCN3174e.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

DSCN3180eA man was preparing the chairs and swimming pool for the day, and after some brief dialogue with Marco, he delivered tall glasses of fresh squeezed orange juice. Marco had thought about the possibility of taking canoes across the lake to breakfast, but he learned the hotel was fully booked and they didn’t want to give up canoes for that long.

Instead, we gladly drove to breakfast, for pancakes. From the parking area, there is an incredibly lush and beautiful garden to walk through to the restaurant. For some reason, I only took a picture of the building. Some things just defy being captured in an image.

After breakfast we drove to the market in Santiago Atitlán where street vendors displayed the many bright-colored designs and craftwork of the classic Guatemalan look. We enjoy a pleasant stroll up and down the stone streets to shop for more souvenirs, while Marco went off to find a coffee maker for the house —an essential appliance they could have used when they woke up this day.

DSCN3188eDSCN3183e.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

With no agenda for the afternoon, we passed time enjoying relaxing pursuits. The boys went off together to do young Marco’s prescribed football (soccer, for US readers) exercise workout. I threatened to join them, but then passed on the opportunity. Instead, I caught up on email a bit until, somehow it had gotten to almost 2 o’clock and we needed to make it to the hotel restaurant before they stopped serving lunch. DSCN3196eI ordered a ham and cheese sandwich and happily found it to be customized to a Guatemalan version of ham topped with avocado and a fabulous cheese.

After lunch, I watched part of the movie, “Guardian of the Galaxy” with Jose on his laptop computer. We paused it when Marco Sr. invited us to join everyone for some afternoon coffee/hot chocolate and cookies. We played “Golf” with a deck of cards and the board game Cranium and even some “Heads Up” with Marco’s phone, after we had him download the app.

It was feeling wonderfully like a vacation at the lake.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

April 18, 2015 at 9:02 am