Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘family

Simmering Plan

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We’ve got a trip coming up. This Christmas, Cyndie and I, along with our kids, will be joining all of Cyndie’s family for a week of vacation together in the Dominican Republic. It will be a number of firsts for me, most notably, being somewhere tropical for the winter-est of holidays.

It’s been mind-boggling contemplating the possibility. I expect it will be more so actually living it.

Similar to most of my travels over the last decade, I am inclined to take the week off from tending to RelativeSomething.com on a daily basis. Of course, that doesn’t mean I plan to let the site go dormant for a week. Oh, no.

I have an idea to fill the days with stories written in advance and scheduled to post automatically while I am away. All I have to do is write them.

Like, when is that going to happen?

I need to pack! I need to make lists. Find summer clothes. Start gathering necessary things. Where is my passport?

What procrastinator doesn’t know how to get things done at the last-minute? I’ll write the first few and then end up finishing on the plane, if it’s anything like the last time I tried having a week’s worth of posts ready in advance.

The other day I started a possible outline to help facilitate my plan. I’m now thinking that sharing that outline with you all might provide helpful pressure on me to then actually follow through with the idea.

Why are we traveling with Cyndie’s family over Christmas? I will work my way toward answering that question by starting back at the earliest days of our relationship.

1. Our initial connection

  • discover shared experience chatting on beach
  • attended Basic Youth Conflicts Seminar

2. Asking her parents permission to marry

  • after 6 years off and on dating
  • she traveled and went to several schools
  • I stayed home and went to tech school

3. Friswold Family events at Wildwood through the years

4. Friswold Family trip to ’94 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway

5. Family trips with Friswolds to Mexico and Disney

6. Friswold Family trip to Hilton Head in celebration of Fred & Marie’s 50th Anniversary

7. What about the Hays family?

8. Friswold Family trip to Dominican Republic over Christmas, 2017

With some help, research has already been undertaken to procure some supporting photos. Worst case, I just post the pictures with a few captions and let your imagination fill in the rest of the details.

That’s the way our brains work, anyway. Listen to people talk. Very often, sentences hang, unfinished, but the listeners get the gist of the message, filling in the blank space with a sufficient perception in place of absent words.

I was listening to a snippet from the second side of the Beatles’ Abbey Road on my commute to work yesterday and noticed where my brain filled in an extra note of choral “aaaaahs” beyond what was actually recorded. They lead you to that conclusion, but don’t need to sing the added note. It is implied.

Our mind completes the progression unconsciously.

I will try to complete as much of my planned storyline as possible, but it will not happen unconsciously. Most likely, it will require a fair amount of sacrificed sleep.

If I’m not entirely thorough in my detail, it will become your opportunity to imagine what fills the gaps my tales imply.

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Written by johnwhays

December 14, 2017 at 7:00 am

Not Chickens

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It appears our great survivors, the three chickens, are not interested in what winter has to offer. Since Monday night when the weather made that snap decision to swing from balmy to frigid, covering the land with an ice-crust topped with a layer of wind-whipped snow, our chickens have not left the confines of their coop.

Cyndie opens the small door for them, but they don’t venture out.

These little footsteps Cyndie photographed in a framing that looks very “John-like,” are not from our once-brave venturers.

These cute prints are those of a turkey. The wild turkeys haven’t let a little snow and frozen ground stop them from strolling around the property.

Have you ever wondered where wild turkeys are laying their eggs? Maybe we should invite the wild birds to stop by our coop to convince the chickens that winter isn’t so bad, and while they are there, they can lay an egg for us.

Cyndie also captured the shot below of a loner on its way off our property, into the underbrush of the neighbor’s woods.

They certainly don’t have that same friendly demeanor as our domesticated chickens. The excited wobbling sprint toward us that our chickens do when they find us outside is really something to behold.

I’m hoping we don’t have to wait for spring before they come out of the coop and run around again.

The weekend forecast is hinting of a possible above-freezing high temperature on Sunday, so maybe that will inspire a chicken outing.

I’m home today and on my own for the weekend, because Cyndie is traveling out-of-town for a conference. The chickens won’t have momma home to look after them. I expect it will be no shock to them that I do things differently than Cyndie.

I’ve witnessed the horses adjusting their behavior to our different styles of processing the steps to feed and clean up after them. I think the chickens probably respond similarly.

I suppose the same thing is happening with Delilah, but my perception of the change in her is a little different. It seems less like she is reacting differently to me and more like she is moping at the door for hours on end in desperate anticipation that momma might be returning soon.

Hopefully, I won’t be bothering the dog with all my ‘bachelor-weekend’ wild behavior. I’m gonna drink milk out of the bottle and leave my stuff on whichever surface it lands. I may walk in the house with my boots on and leave drawers open in the bathroom.

By Sunday night, it’ll be back to the disciplined life of being a well-fed married man and the chickens can get back to their pleasure of in-coop full-service hospitality.

Huzzah!

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Written by johnwhays

December 8, 2017 at 7:00 am

Mission Complete

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We completed our weekend goal to take that tree down, cut the trunks into logs, and shred the branches into chips. When all the tools and machines were returned to storage yesterday afternoon, I realized how valuable it was to have Mary and Tim’s help on Friday. We couldn’t have finished on Sunday without the progress they facilitated Friday.

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Now I have a LOT of wood to split and stack in the shed. I should probably do that before I take on the wood sculpting project I’m envisioning on the stump.

Regarding that idea, my latest inclination is now leaning toward using the remaining stump as a base and sculpting something remotely to be mounted on top. I have plenty of time to think about it, since I’ll be splitting the new piles of wood for a looong time.

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Written by johnwhays

December 4, 2017 at 7:00 am

Crucial Assistance

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We couldn’t have gotten as far as we did yesterday without the generous support of my sister, Mary and her eminently capable husband, Tim. They showed up ready for action and made all the difference with the sawing and chipping.

Before they arrived, I succeeded in knocking down 4 of the 5 smaller trees, but the next step would have been a bit much for me, on my own.

For all the preparation I did, there was one important thing I neglected. The blade on my chainsaw wasn’t very sharp. Compounding that oversight, the spare blade back in my shop was labeled: “needs sharpening.”

Luckily, Tim brought his saw. Combining my ladder, his reach, and a few occasions with the pole saw, some of the many limbs of the 60-foot tree were felled without breaking the fence, although it did bend a couple times.

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We agreed on the time to stop working on individual limbs and take a crack at bringing the whole thing down, but there was still a lot of wood standing.

We tossed a rope up –using the technique of a weighted line I learned from my brother, Elliott– and I played anchor while Tim did the sawing. It was laughable to think my puny size was going to control what that tree would do. I felt it shift when it pinched Tim’s saw, but there it stood.

At this point, Tim talked me into moving the truck and tractor, just in case. We tried muscling that rope a few times, and then Tim called for the tractor. I backed up to put enough pressure that he could get the saw out and then stretched that rope to its limit. With classic cracking, the top of that old dead tree came over at a little bit of an angle.

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We got two-for-one, as it grabbed a wayward branch of the scrubby box elder tree next to it and snapped that as well.

The four of us worked diligently to process the results, but only put an initial dent in the ground work remaining.

Today’s chores will be much less dramatic. I’ll start by sharpening my saw blade. There will be a lot of logging cleanup action, but nothing as daunting as felling that big tree yesterday. Volunteers still welcome.

We couldn’t have done it without you, Mary & Tim. Thank you for coming over to play!

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Written by johnwhays

December 2, 2017 at 9:06 am

Prepping Machines

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It seems like it should be simple to just cut down a couple of trees and grind the branches into chips, but there are a lot of little steps to setting up and actually executing the tasks.

After work yesterday, I set about prepping some of the equipment, in hopes of priming this morning’s start on this weekend’s logging project. The chipper attachment was stored a couple levels deep in the shop garage. I needed to do some rearranging before I could get access to it.

The back-blade was still on the big tractor, so the first order of business was to find somewhere out-of-the-way to park that.

Except, that wasn’t actually the first order of business. I decided to move the Grizzly out, to make room for fueling up the New Holland, and in so doing, ended up driving the ATV down to the barn to hook up its trailer.

After that, I was finally ready to back Big Blue out of the garage and get rid of the back-blade.

Once that was done, I hooked up the chipper to the 3-point hitch and parked the rig in the barn.

Next, I started collecting equipment I would want to haul to the work site in the ATV trailer.

Chainsaw. Check.

Chain oil, mixed gas, wedge, face shield, leg protectors, ropes, come-along, chains, pole saw, log holder, hand saw, ax, spare ear muffs/hearing protection, ladder, rake, branch pruner… and if I can find it, a kitchen sink.

Still, there will end up being a need for some item that I forgot to bring. Honestly, one goal of bringing so much down there is so that we won’t need it. I’m not above using a little reverse psychology with the universe.

My hope is to have tedious setup tasks taken care of in advance to get full benefit of volunteer help for cutting limbs of felled sections of trees, feeding branches into the chipper, and cutting trunks into logs. If we are really productive, there will be the added chores of driving loads of woodchips away and dumping them, or hauling logs up to the woodshed.

Most importantly, I’m looking forward to the opportunity for hearty fellowship in the great outdoors and an outcome of safe and healthy success for all bodies involved, particularly the discs of my lower back.

I don’t want to get too greedy, but some time for good-natured banter around a fire with people’s favorite beverage after a day’s physical workout would be a fine outcome, too.

I’m just sayin’.

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Written by johnwhays

December 1, 2017 at 7:00 am

Countdown Begins

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Prepare for blast off. Make sure your seatbelts are fastened, seat backs forward, and tray tables are in the upright position.

‘Twas the day before Thanksgiving and all through the house… Airports are busy and homes are gaining inhabitants. It’s a short week of work in front of a long weekend of gathering with loved ones.

Oh, and food. We are under a dangerous consumption advisory, after all. I’m ready to commence snacking.

Cyndie and I will be spending Thanksgiving with her family at her parent’s house this year, but we are traveling in shifts. She heads over there this afternoon to begin preparations, and will spend the night with her mom and dad.

I will tend to things at Wintervale tonight, then in the morning, after animals are all fed, I will head west to join the Friswold clan for turkey-day festivities. There is a Vikings/Lions game that will be a great compliment for large portions of Chex-mix munching. The Thanksgiving feast will follow the football.

As if I’ll have room in my stomach.

Then I race back to the ranch to show some Thanksgiving love to our horses, chickens, dog and cat. Pequenita has been practicing for her post-Thanksgiving lounging on my legs in the new recliner. She seems to know the drill.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Hays relatives whom I won’t be seeing tomorrow, and also to all of my readers here and abroad.

It’s just the beginning of the grand holiday season, so prepare for the long haul. Consume in moderation and take good care of yourself so you will be fit and inspired to share love and happiness with everyone in your circle of influence.

If need be, your seat cushion is available for use as a floatation device.

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Written by johnwhays

November 22, 2017 at 7:00 am

Power Treat

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With thanks to my sister, Judy, I have discovered a new homemade energy treat that offers a sweetness, but is not particularly high in sugar. One reason it is a low sugar snack for me is, my ability to be satisfied with a single serving.

I can get a batch to last more than a month, barely eating one per day.

What makes them so satisfying? I think it is the brilliant balance of ingredients, including crunchy peanut butter, honey, oatmeal, and as of last night, a few of my own enhancements.

With Cyndie’s guidance in the kitchen while making dinner, I concocted a souped-up version of the recipe Judy originally shared with us. Per Judy’s suggestion, we replaced raisins with craisins. Beyond that, I added some millet, chopped coconut, chopped almonds, chia seeds (because Cyndie found some in the cupboard), protein powder, and chopped pumpkin seeds. Finally, as much as I love crunchy peanut butter, I reduced the quantity and finished the amount with the addition of almond butter.

If there is a “super crunch” version of almond butter, I haven’t discovered it yet. I would dearly love to try that.

Cyndie did the honors of buttering her palms and forming the bite-sized balls for me. I’m not that interested in getting my hands covered with ingredients. She shaped these a tiny bit bigger than a previous batch she made from the original recipe. Even when small, my method of enjoying them involves nibbling to get many more bites than one per serving.

At this size, we calculate a single ball is about 3-4 grams of sugar. The average cookie often comes in around 7 grams.

I’m still aiming to stay below 50 grams per day in my average 2000 calorie/day diet. By trying to stay close to 10 grams per meal, I have almost 20 grams of space available each day to keep from being a total party-pooper when treats are served.

Having a choice available with only 4 grams of sugar gives me a quick and easy option and helps me land well below my goal on days when these are the only treat I end up eating.

Of course, this would never have satisfied my old palette, when my sugar addiction was allowed to direct my choices, uncontrolled. Having weaned myself off the high sugar diet, I am now able to get sweet satisfaction from much lower amounts.

It is a great reward to have arrived at a healthy pattern of eating and find out it no longer feels like a place of deprivation. It is perfectly pleasurable and sustainable, as long as I acknowledge and remain vigilant about paying appropriate attention to my history of addiction to the sweet reward my brain celebrates every time I give my body sugar.

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Written by johnwhays

October 31, 2017 at 6:00 am