Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘family

Wonderful Time

leave a comment »

We are having a wonderful time at the lake with family. Wish you were here.

That’s Elysa’s dog, Diesel chillin’ on the couch with me while I read the digital version of the StarTribune newspaper. The rest of the day consisted of waiting out a rain shower playing a card game; doing a little more tending of the mini-labyrinth pathways; building a jigsaw puzzle while waiting out the second rain shower; catching a couple episodes of Ted Lasso to expose the show to more family members; squeezing in an hour-long bike ride around the lake; enjoying grilled burgers for dinner; ending the day with more card games that included the entire household.

It’s been good to have a break from full-time animal caretaking at home but we miss them and frequently find ourselves wondering how the new sitter is getting along with all the challenges.

I’m not sure that I am fully absorbing the depth of pleasure we are experiencing in not being constantly responsible for walking Delilah or feeding and cleaning up after all the animals at home.

Being up at the lake with family really is a wonderful time, for multiple reasons.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

May 30, 2022 at 6:00 am

Started Wet

leave a comment »

The big workday of the weekend appeared to be a washout when we woke up yesterday but the winter’s accumulation of leaves on the beach was surprisingly manageable soon after the precipitation stopped. I spent the morning trying to reclaim our mini-labyrinth in the woods from the thick growth of ground covering wild plants.

That work actually started with a need to cut up a big limb that had fallen across several lanes of the pathway. Then my focus shifted to the ferns, trillium, ramps (a wild leek), and tree sprouts that needed to be removed. I made it about halfway before I needed to join the worker bees who showed up to tend to the beach.

By this morning, all that was left to do down at the lake was a little prescribed burn between the beach and boat docks. Having waited to start yesterday’s work until the rain was done, it was almost time for dinner when we finished raking out the sand.

Today is just the opposite in terms of weather as the morning has been dry thus far but there is a mass of precipitation heading our way. I keep getting warnings on my phone about lightning in the vicinity of Wintervale. That weather will reach Hayward a couple hours later.

We are going to wait for the rain to pass before heading out to finish pulling wild growth from the path of our forest labyrinth. The moisture will make the job easier in terms of the pulling plants but decidedly messier in terms of the footing.

There might be a card game with family relations materializing to fill the indoor portion of our day.

It feels a lot like a holiday weekend at the lake. Oh, did I forget to mention the fabulous meals we have been indulging in, both breakfasts and dinners? Yeah, that kind of family time at the lake.

Experience dictates, wet starts don’t automatically spoil the rest of a day’s activities..

.

Written by johnwhays

May 29, 2022 at 10:15 am

Multiple Moves

leave a comment »

For what seems like months, Cyndie has been working on a plan to choreograph a furniture swap between three generations of her family. With her mom’s home sold, there was going to be excess furniture left behind that was available for distribution. Like a scene right out of a movie, family members started putting notes on items they wanted.

Over time, small items were moved by personal cars but there were enough large items remaining that professional movers were called in. However, this would be no simple move. Furnishings Cyndie wanted would replace items we already had, so those needed to find new homes.

Same thing for our daughter, Elysa. She needed to jettison items to make room in her house for selected items. At Cyndie’s mom’s house, everything was going, but not to just one location. A portion went to Elysa and a portion to our place.

That meant the truck started at our house, loading items that would go to Elysa or be donated. Next, to St. Paul to deliver a few of our items for Elysa’s house, and after that, the balance to Bridging, an organization that receives donated furniture to distribute to local families in need.

Cyndie and I followed along to direct the action. After Bridging, the truck headed to Cyndie’s mom’s old house in Edina to load up for return trips to Elysa’s house and finally, back to ours. Beds, dressers, desks, tables, chairs, rugs, a gas grill, and a patio table with chairs.

At each stop, the items needed to be loaded in the proper order to facilitate unloading at the subsequent destinations. It was a bit of a circus but the guys understood the drill and Cyndie had prepared all parties well for each step so it was a nicely orchestrated circus.

Even though plenty of measuring was done in advance, there are always some adjustments to consider when given the opportunity to see things for real. The room dimensions in our house are just enough smaller that we are going to move a couple pieces around in search of a more balanced and fully functional layout.

The movers were extremely helpful in freeing us from any heavy lifting. I needed to rely on them entirely because my usual moving partner is using a cane to get around and can’t do any heaving lifting for a few more weeks.

Cyndie continues to wow the physical therapist with her progress. I’m happy that she is remembering to also balance all the walking with a reasonable amount of rest and icing of that new knee.

It really was a flawless day of multiple moves, right up until the last stop at our house. The driver immediately let Cyndie know that he was very sorry for a little slip up he had navigating the driveway. I knew it was probably bad when I saw how much mud was on the truck’s tires.

Delilah and I checked it out on our way to the end of the driveway with the trash and recycle bins.

Yeah, that’s gonna leave a mark. The ground is still a little soft.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

May 6, 2022 at 6:00 am

Early Progress

leave a comment »

Yesterday turned out to be a day of multiple small steps of progress with early spring goals. Cyndie and I started the day with a trip to St. Paul to help Elysa with a few house maintenance projects. I’m feeling chuffed for my vinyl siding fixes because I have absolutely zero experience in that area.

If the fixes survive the wild weather predicted for tonight, I will be even more proud of our accomplishments. Our favorite local meteorologist, Paul Huttner paints a pretty dramatic word picture of the potential for hazardous weather this evening in his Updraft weather blog.

Back home for the afternoon, we successfully dug out two portions of the main mass of tall grass and transplanted them to two different spots on our property. I had anticipated the separation to be much more of a struggle than we ultimately experienced. We will be thrilled if the transplanted pieces survive and thrive in their new locations.

I’m guessing it might have been a little too early to attempt this digging because the ground was still frozen under the base of the rootball.

We’ve had two days without precipitation and just enough warm sunshine that I was wooed into thinking we were farther along than we really are.

After that little transplanting task was complete, Cyndie returned to putting up barriers around the strawberry patch and I worked on rejuvenating the contents of our kitchen compost bin nearby. We let it sit dormant throughout the winter months.

We are beginning to see green sprouts peeking up out of the carpet of dead leaves. It is an incredible testament to the miracle of growing plants that progress is underway before it even seems possible.

In a flash of reverse thinking, I sarcastically suggested to Cyndie that we frame our tall grass transplant project as an attempt to get the new plantings to not grow since plants we don’t want (weeds and invasives)re seem to thrive. Wanting something favorable to grow and be healthy has produced more failures than successes so I figure a little reverse psychology might protect us from the usual outcomes.

I don’t want to get overconfident, but if these two grass transplants work for us, I have hopes of doing this on a much more regular basis. In fact, we might even think about dividing them every 2-3 years like recommendations suggest for ornamental tall grasses.

When everything seemed done for the day, I found Cyndie in the kitchen making strawberry jam from the final batch of last year’s frozen berries. I guess seeing her strawberry plants already showing signs of life when she was putting up the fencing around them spurred her into action.

We’ll have new red, ripe berries in the garden before you can say, “How did July get here so fast?”

.

.

Small Banquet

leave a comment »

Once again, the phrase “dined like royalty” comes to my mind to describe the homemade feast Cyndie served yesterday for a visit from our son, his wife, and their friends. Beyond her classic culinary artwork of two varieties of scones, Cyndie tried her hand at making hummus out of peas and baking naan bread for the first time.

The main dish of curry chicken and roasted vegetables was followed by her version of a turtle cake from a copied recipe of St. Paul’s Cafe Latte.

As often happens, there was so much delicious food consumed, there was little room for dessert. That’s no problem for Cyndie. She had “to go” containers available so slices of the chocolate caramel decadence were sent home to be enjoyed later.

We were blessed with an afternoon of warm sunshine that felt even nicer than the actual temperature, especially compared to our recent extended spell of rainy, snowy days.

The horses had been brushed earlier in the morning but were perfectly covered in mud by the time we all showed up to visit after a stroll in the labyrinth. While Mix showed interest in checking out the new guests, the other three paid little notice, choosing instead to linger in the altered state of almost sleeping, but not really.

The day was a wonderful celebration of sharing the wonders of Wintervale while we are mired in the muddy conditions of early spring.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

April 10, 2022 at 10:19 am

Horses Shedding

leave a comment »

It’s that time of year when horsehair starts showing up everywhere. When you touch them, their hair gets on your gloves. When you rub them, the shedding hair gets in the air. With hair floating on the wind, it gets in your face. If you reach up to swipe the hair from your face, you get more hair than you bargained for.

Case in point:

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Cyndie’s brother, Steve, paid me a visit while his sister is in Florida. We stopped by a paddock gate to visit with the horses and found several of them showing interest in allowing us to give them scratches. Swings stopped by first. She stood for a bit with her nose just at the gate, breathing in our scent. I turned away for a moment and when I looked back, she had stepped forward and was reaching her head completely over the gate.

Steve and I both happily obliged her willingness and rubbed our gloved hands on her head and neck where she seemed to want some scratching action.

Upon receiving her fill, Swings stepped away and Mix moved in for her own dose of similar attention. Mix has a bit of a runny nostril and appeared to think Steve’s jacket served as a fine “tissue” for wiping her nose. Undaunted, Steve served her up a good massage around her head, coming away with two hands full of Mix’s hair.

Steve was playing in a hockey tournament in River Falls this weekend.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

I was able to show up and watch their first game on Friday night and then Steve and I visited a sports bar with live music on Main Street for a late dinner. He came back to our house to spend the night before heading back to River Falls for his second game, after a leisurely morning that included a walk with Delilah and the time with our horses.

Hopefully, Steve wasn’t still finding horsehair clinging to him while he was trying to chase the puck around in game two. I stayed home to enjoy all the shedded hair showing up in our house, and on my clothes, stuck to my boots, on our furniture, getting in my mouth, blowing like tumbleweed across the paddocks…

.

.

Written by johnwhays

March 20, 2022 at 10:22 am

Loft Makeover

leave a comment »

Yesterday was a day of furniture upheaval in our house, demonstrated first thing in the morning by the sight of the overstuffed chair that used to be in the loft suddenly occupying the floor of our kitchen.

Cyndie and I made the drive to Edina and met two of her brothers, Steve and Ben, who made this one-day project possible for us. The primary goal was to move the big sectional corner sofa from their mom’s basement back to our house. As long as we were there and Steve had made a truck and trailer available, other large items were included. We also moved a recliner, twin beds, a beautiful old glass-doored bookshelf cabinet, lamps, and several bags of linens.

In order to accommodate the furniture that is coming our way, we are passing some of our old things on to others who have expressed interest and/or are donating pieces to local organizations in need.

The challenge that loomed largest appeared to be how we would get the bigger items moved up our spiral staircase to the loft. It actually turned out to be rather straightforward and involved taking advantage of the railing to support and slide the couch sections on the way up.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Honestly, the biggest complication of the day was caused by the icy driveway hindering Steve’s ability to move the truck and trailer as easily as we would have liked.

Once we had everything in place and the guys had headed back to the cities, I tested the new seating by checking out Iowa vs. Purdue in the men’s Big Ten Championship basketball game and promptly fell into a wonderful slumbering nap.

The new setup passed with my full and highest approval, although laced with an underlying feeling of disorientation over sitting in Marie’s basement furniture while now in my loft at home.

I blame the hour clock change yesterday of Daylight Saving Time. Makes everything seem out of whack for a few days until I get used to it.

A couple more naps on the couch while pretending to watch television will go a long way toward mentally adjusting to the changes accomplished yesterday.

Many thanks to Ben and Steve for coming all the way to our place and helping with the heavy lifting to make it all possible!

I’m now very ready for NCAA March Madness…

.

.

Written by johnwhays

March 14, 2022 at 6:00 am

Hockey Hangover

leave a comment »

Of all the days to stay up later than normal, last night was one that compounds the cost because clocks moved one hour ahead last night. Color me sleep-deprived.

I blame hockey. Not just any hockey, though. The Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament hooked me this year for no specific reason. I had no connection to any of the school teams involved but I was entranced by the excitement and competitiveness on display. Last night’s championship game went to a second overtime period that kept me glued until the winning goal was scored.

The entire tournament offered a refreshing dose of pure hockey with minimal distractions of post-whistle shenanigans and remarkably few penalties.

I saw a player get knocked completely off his skates and he simply got back up and kept playing as if checking is no big deal. How can a high school kid play with more maturity than NHL professionals that retaliate like it’s obligatory?

Four days in a row of high-intensity competitive games was downright intoxicating.

I’d like to say I could just sleep it off but no such luck today. It’s moving day! We are getting rid of some of our old furnishings and two of Cyndie’s brothers are helping us to bring back a couch and chairs and whatever else fits from Cyndie’s mom’s house. The Edina home has been sold and needs to be cleaned out.

We are happy to do our part.

The couch will go up in our loft where I can settle in to watch the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament games until I’ve had my fill.

Replacing one vice with another? Yes, that’s my plan.

,

,

Written by johnwhays

March 13, 2022 at 9:00 am

Time Ravaged

leave a comment »

More than I can remember in my lifetime, we have been cycling above and below the freezing point this winter, taxing everything exposed to the extremes. As I’ve written many times before, everything moves, including what is often referred to as “solid ground.”

Terra firma is not so firm a.

This is the current state of a base I installed for an outdoor sink on the backside of the barn.

It used to be level.

In some places, the ground sinks. In others, it rises up. And it changes back and forth about as often as the freezing and thawing cycle is playing out. Of course, the base in the image above never happens to return to level. Oh, no.

I have no idea what happened in our pile of limestone screenings. It looks a little like maybe it regurgitated all over itself.

A while back, Cyndie posted a bunch of our furniture for sale on the local neighborhood app. Quite a lot of furniture, actually. The app offered a suggestion that she could also post it on another app to be seen by more than just our neighbors. All it took was the push of a button. So she did.

Soon we had people from far and wide contacting us to ask if everything was okay. Why was she unloading all this furniture?

It’s nice to know concerned friends will check on us if we start showing signs of distress.

The reason Cyndie is looking to jettison our old furniture is that her mother is moving from the family home of many years into a smaller unit in a senior living community. We will be taking some of the precious furnishings that didn’t make the cut for her mom’s new home.

In preparation, we have already started to move things around in our house. We took possession of the old flat-screen TV that had been in her mom’s basement and put it up in our loft, replacing the smaller one we’ve had since it was our main television mounted on the wall in our Eden Prairie home.

Here in Beldenville, the old television was in a stand on a table. In a classic domino effect of one change leading to another, we decided to relocate that TV to the bedroom to replace a smaller one in that room. There, it will be able to be mounted on the wall again. That means I needed to find the old wall mount bracket.

I didn’t know if we’d even kept it, but Cyndie remembered seeing it on the top shelf in our storage room. With her direction, I found two of the three primary pieces. The ravages of time have taken a toll on my memory and I couldn’t recall if we’d detached the base plate from the wall when we moved out of the old house.

I actually started researching online to see if I could replace just the base plate before one last double-check in the storage room, where I was actually checking old packaging for information on the name of the wall mount manufacturer. That’s when I spotted a tiny corner of the base plate on a different shelf.

As far as I can tell, we actually do have everything needed to proceed.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

March 9, 2022 at 7:00 am

Just Lookin’

with 2 comments

In avoidance of extending our exposure to more of the daily war news than necessary, I turned to surfing reddit on my phone to pass some time while digesting my dinner. As is the norm, scrolling past the first few posts brought up the featured live feed of the moment. I usually scroll past these with barely a glance, always with the sound muted.

However, I was shocked to discover I knew the person who showed up on the screen this time. Giving out a shout, I hustled down the stairs to show Cyndie.

“It’s Julian! Julian’s on the… he’s drumming on the… on Reddit’s live feed!” I struggled to blurt out.

How’s that for timing? My son was broadcasting a live session of playing his electronic drum set in video game fashion similar to the classic “Guitar Hero” while a synchronized LED light show illuminated the background, and I just happened to stumble upon it.

It was wonderful serendipity that I logged in at that very moment and a special treat to get to see his performance was also being watched by over 20-thousand others around the world.

You ROCK, Julian!

.

.

Written by johnwhays

March 3, 2022 at 7:00 am