Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘family

Out Again

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Feeling quite the bon vivant event-goers of late, last night we found ourselves out on the town again. We took a chance with our chickens and left their coop access door open long after dark in order to head downtown to Minneapolis for dinner and a concert with Cyndie’s brother, Ben.

Highest accolades shout-out to Mercy restaurant for superb food, great service, and fine ambiance.

Oh my gosh, the salmon and fixings were sublime. Shared bites from Cyndie’s and Ben’s plates revealed their choices were just as good.

Conveniently, the restaurant was just steps away from the State Theater where Ben had tickets for a solo acoustic concert by guitarist, Trey Anastasio. I am most familiar with Trey’s electric guitar artistry on his self-titled album, but I’m sure he is better known for his role in the rock band, Phish.

I’ve seen plenty of performances that were advertised as “acoustic” but stretched the definition to a variety of degrees. Trey’s show held reasonably close to the genre.

Our seats in the balcony placed me appropriately between two levels of interested fans. There were two guys behind me who I assume came with dates who were in love with the guitarist. These guys decided to have a full-voiced conversation about the mundane, …about one of their dads, something down in a basement, how the truck was performing… in the middle of some fascinating finger movement across frets.

Two people in front of us were being moved to the highest levels of euphoria upon hearing the opening notes of every song, unable to keep their hands from floating into the air in joyous rapture, occasionally rising to their feet to dance, as if powerless to resist the bliss unleashed by the connection their minds provided to the Phish song Trey was acoustically covering.

I couldn’t join the Phish faithful in singing along, because I didn’t know the lyrics, but I was thrilled to be witnessing the live-performance virtuosity of such an accomplished musician.

It made it easy for me to overcome the urge to turn around to tell the guys about my deck and the power tools I was learning to use in replacing all the rotting cedar boards with new green-treated two-by-sixes.

As our car barreled east on I94 through St. Paul after the show, a call came in from Ben. He just wanted to let us know he was a few blocks from home already and wondered how we were doing. Funny guy. We had about 40-minutes left to get to Beldenville.

Happily, I found the chickens all safe and sound on their roost, cooing at my arrival to close the door.

Another smashing success of a night out on the town. Thanks, Ben!

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First Visit

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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.)

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Written by johnwhays

October 1, 2019 at 6:00 am

Late Season

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A day away from the calendar start of autumn has us checking out the lake place in transition and it is as glorious as ever this weekend, despite some gray and rainy weather.

We went to dinner last night at the recently reopened restaurant located about a block away from our driveway. The new name is Tavern at White Stag Farm. The atmosphere hints at old European with a delicious menu to match. Fred and Marie treated us in celebration of our anniversary. It was grand!

When we aren’t feasting on luscious meals, we have been competing in mixed teams at the cribbage board game, “CrossCrib®” taking turns claiming bragging rights. This morning will likely bring the challenge for weekend supremacy.

The other excitement has been the close proximity of our resident eagles and their fledglings. They have taken to perching on the pine tree right outside our window.

We have seen the young ones fly, but it appears they may still lack some confidence. They spend a lot of energy being highly vocal on their perch, crying out for something. Research reveals a common training behavior is for the parent eagles to withhold food as an enticement to the fledglings to fly.

That scenario is easy to ascribe to what we have been witnessing.

I can report that the eagles are not bashful about screeching loudly before the sun has broken the horizon.

Maybe they are feeling some urgency to get this flying thing mastered before the fall season ushers in the freezing of the lake where they have been enjoying easy pickings of fish all summer.

Despite the unusually warm temperatures this weekend, there is no denying that the summer of 2019 is behind us now.

Here’s hoping it will soon usher in the bright colors and brisk temperatures of fall.

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Written by johnwhays

September 22, 2019 at 9:22 am

Celebration Dinner

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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!

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Sports Binge

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I went on a day-long TV spectator sports binge yesterday, in large part because, well… I could. At home, the only television signal we have is our antenna for free broadcasts from the Twin Cities. At Cyndie’s parents’ house, there were satellite channels for more sports than I could count.

This allowed me to catch the Golden Gophers college football game and the men’s US Open tennis final that wouldn’t have been available to me at home. Luckily, Fred was wise enough to record the Gopher game, as they were playing at Fresno State on the west coast and the game didn’t start until late Saturday night.

That meant we didn’t watch it until yesterday morning. I had peeked at the result already, so I knew the game was worth seeing. What a fantastic finish with the highlight-reel catch in the deepest possible corner of the endzone on 4th and 13 to tie the game with less than a minute left, and then the surprising interception in the second overtime to claim the win.

We followed that excitement with the NFL Vikings strong win over the Falcons in the opening game of the season. I’ll take it.

Next, there was a quick check of the MLB Twins to find they were trailing Cleveland. That game was usurped by the championship tennis match on ESPN.

Rafael Nadal outlasted a strong challenge from Daniil Medvedev in an epic four-hour-fifty-one-minute 5-set match. Those guys battled for almost five hours, one on one, no substitutions. No wonder Rafa collapsed after the final point.

I was ready to collapse. By the end of the day, I had watched so many athletes exhaust themselves, it wore me out.

Bingeing (I had to check that spelling) is not as easy as one might assume.

It will be good for me to get back home later today after work and return to my (almost) usual routine. This week will be another one spent without Cyndie at home. She is flying to Florida this morning to spend time with Dunia, who will be visiting from Guatemala.

I’ll go back to reading about sports outcomes in the paper, a day after they happen, for my fix of athletic adventures.

It’s kind of a “slow binge” on spectator sports, don’tcha know.

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Written by johnwhays

September 9, 2019 at 6:00 am

Picture Stories

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How much of the story can a picture convey? That depends on many things, but in this case, I have to say this image fails to depict all of the pertinent details.

I expect it is obvious that some painting occurred here. The deck of Cyndie’s parents’ house was redone recently and as a finishing touch (which wasn’t in the job plan) the contractor added a new baseboard. The guy made a run to a lumber retailer to purchase the wood, installed it, and left the task of painting it to the homeowners.

Cyndie and I are spending the weekend here so Cyndie could accompany her mom to an outpatient appointment, and then battle mightily to persuade Marie to convalesce long enough for an incision to heal. There was no sign of any slowing down upon their arrival home yesterday. Her mom was lifting things and bending over to reach into low cupboards as if nothing was out of the ordinary.

For my part, and relating more to the image above, I was able to contribute by tending to this minor nuisance of unfinished wood. I learned about the project at breakfast, when Fred checked on my availability and announced he had masking tape and the spray paint at the ready.

I’m not really a spray paint guy, but how hard can it be? I ruffled through the bag of meager clothing I’d packed for the weekend to find a shirt I wouldn’t mind getting paint on and opted for shorts and bare feet to tackle the job. Unfortunately, I failed to consider that the composite boards would get as hot as beach sand in the beating sun while I was out there.

I thought it would be a nice “present” for Marie if the job happened while she was unaware, so I started as soon as possible after they departed for her appointment and strove to push my pace in hopes of making quick work of the job. Despite the occasional breeze. While keeping one eye on the day-job email account. Stopping to take a call from the pest control guy who was searching for our window well back home.

After I gave out a credit card number authorizing the plan to trap a suspected woodchuck in Beldenville, it was time to commit myself to my own entrapment on the deck. The new baseboard ran beneath the sliding door to the house, so when I applied tape and paper across that opening, I was stuck until the paint was applied.

About that point, my back muscles started to twinge. Then, my feet and knees started to burn. Then, the spray paint started to drip around the nozzle. I’d not prepared properly for dripping from the can. All I had available was some of the used newspaper to try wiping up.

I didn’t think about what accumulating paint around the nozzle would do when following the instructions to continually shake the can throughout the painting.

I didn’t know it would be hot enough that I would start dripping sweat.

Alas, I survived, everything was cleaned up before Marie and Cyndie arrived home, and the deck looks appropriately finished.

There are pertinent details which that image above definitely does not convey.

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Written by johnwhays

September 7, 2019 at 8:14 am

Making Plans

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We are not going to the lake this weekend, but we do have Anna coming to stay at our house to take care of Delilah, Pequenita, and the chickens for a few days. Our plans are more along the lines of the stay-cation in the cities with family and friends variety. That involved a fair amount of pre-planning for my little brain last night.

We will be staying at Cyndie’s parents’ house, which facilitates my heading there directly from work this afternoon and remaining there through Sunday night to go back to work again on Monday morning. That was a lot of days to think through in advance. Makes it feel a little more like a vacation, so that’s fun.

Too bad I don’t enjoy packing for vacations. Somehow, I find a way to get over it.

I’m feeling fussy over other plans we are concurrently trying to form, having to do with needed upkeep of the logs of our home, the consideration of quotes arriving for re-doing our deck, and now our need for some assistance with wild animal control services.

Early returns indicate the costs of each are running in the neighborhood of 2-3 times the price of our desired budget. One, or more, will likely have to wait, and logic tells me it won’t be the animal control.

I’m thinking I may end up honing my [lack of] carpentry abilities and replace the deck boards myself. The logs will likely wait until next year, and we could very well end up applying the recommended two coats of wood protection ourselves to avoid the huge expense quoted yesterday.

For a person who doesn’t like making plans or even decisions, for that matter, these issues coming up all at once are a dreary burden of responsibility. It makes me long to be 5 or 6 years old again.

Those were blissful days…

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Written by johnwhays

September 5, 2019 at 6:00 am