Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘family

Fly South

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Cyndie made plans to spend a couple of weeks with her parents in Florida long before the details of the latest snowstorm had materialized and didn’t guess that her planned departure would be timed smack dab in the worst of the wind and snow. Luckily, the impending weather allowed for a no-charge rescheduling and she nabbed a seat a day earlier, right as the heavy weather was beginning.

That just meant a little delay while the ground crews worked frantically to plow runways and de-ice planes. Not unsettling at all for wary travelers, I’m sure.

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Cyndie is a seasoned airline passenger and has been through this routine multiple times, so I’m sure she was able to take it in stride. I can’t honestly attest to her level of confidence because I was not there. No, I am not in Florida today, unlike her and our two adult children visiting their grandparents over the MLK holiday weekend.

More power to them.

While they were enjoying the bocce courts under beautiful blue skies, I had a day filled with a fair amount of folly. I had hoped to swiftly plow, shovel, and rake snow off the roof so I could also entertain the pooch who was otherwise woefully neglected in the warm confines of the house. When I left her tethered outside with me where she could watch, Delilah just sat forlornly.

If I have to ignore her while I work, I decided she might as well be inside where I don’t have to witness her sad face every time I pass.

When I started up the ATV for plowing, I discovered one of the front tires had an audible air leak. It was spitting out some of the green sealer that had been an earlier attempt to solve the problem. All that did was delay the inevitable, it seems. Short of a quick fix to remedy the situation properly, I opted for frequent returns to the shop garage for added air from the compressor.

Worked well enough to get the main driveway open for travel. I would come back later to plow around the barn and hay shed.

After walking Delilah and eating lunch, I raked the valley of the roof over the front door and then unburied the steps. By leaving the rest of the roof for today, my hope was to quickly finish plowing before needing to tend to Delilah’s dinner.

Then the cable that lifts the plow broke in the middle of pushing a deep pile of snow at the edge of the driveway turnoff that drops toward the barn.

The hour before the dog’s dinner was spent rigging a way to lift the blade so I could drive back to the garage so I could work on reattaching the hook to the next section of cable. That’s a project that needs three hands, so with my two cold hands (and one bloody finger) I dragged it out long enough that dinner ended up being late.

Yes, I was thinking about my family who all just flew south.

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Big Think

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I’m not sure about the trick of living in the moment while trying to make big decisions that have the potential of dramatically changing the rest of my life, but that is the reality that simmers beneath my every minute lately. As Cyndie slips ever deeper into focusing her time on caring for her parents, decisions being contemplated have the potential of defining whether we will stay on this property or go.

There is a challenging balance in a committed relationship of cultivating what we want together as a couple while also honoring each of our individual desires. That would be made a little easier if we both definitively knew what it was we wanted the rest of our functional years to look like.

I had no idea that our empty-nest years would lead to the gorgeous property we found that became our Wintervale. The seed for this dream originated from a supernatural meld of both Cyndie’s and my interests and experiences, but I would not have arrived at this point without her energy driving most of the outcomes.

That same inclination has me leaning toward following her lead again as her focus has changed, despite my heart increasingly being gripped by the sanctuary of the forests and fields, and beautiful log home where we’ve been living for the last seven years. If I could figure out a way to afford it, I’d stay here even if she moved in with her parents –sighting the year we lived apart when she moved to Boston as a case study precedent– but that might be at odds with achieving our best long-term joint effort.

Neither of us knows how well our health will hold out, how climate catastrophes will impact the coming years, whether our meager retirement accounts will protect us from the next recession, or what future life events will demand our attention, but those unknowns are all lumped into our thinking as we consider the big “what next.”

I want to also include the simple joys of standing still in the woods and listening to the natural sounds that surround me. Breathing in the forest aromas and feeling the reality of temperature and precipitation against my skin. Walking over the rise in our open fields to feel the wind when it blows, or the stillness when it doesn’t.

At the same time, I’ve lived in town and know the conveniences associated. I would welcome the opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint and return to riding my bike more than driving my car.

I tell ya, living in the moment of planning the future is one heck of a big think.

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Written by johnwhays

January 12, 2020 at 8:57 am

Hays Siblings

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Yesterday we made the surprisingly easy drive up to my sister, Mary’s house for a post-holiday gathering of the Hays siblings. North Branch wasn’t as far away as I expected. These are my peeps. I always find it refreshing to discover how special it feels to be with my brothers and sisters again. No one else in the world can match the connection we share with the people we lived with during our formative years.

Thank you David, Mary, Judy, and Elliott for all the years!

You are the best.

Here’s to a bigger reunion of our relations this summer. We’ve got a date!

Somehow, the Vikings pulled out a victory while we were half-watching. Cyndie and I tried to listen to the end of it on the drive home over a radio signal that was only barely discernible.

There was no question that Pequenita was happy to have me home again. She made haste to claim one of her favorite perches when I settled down to see who was getting recognized by the Hollywood Foreign Press on the Golden Globe Awards show.

She is so not a Hays sibling.

We did not have a cat when I was growing up. Judy or Elliott can correct me if there was a barn cat on the farm before I came along.

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Written by johnwhays

January 6, 2020 at 7:00 am

Grasping Hope

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I’m trying. Against an onslaught of gloom and doom coming from the extreme escalation of Middle East tensions by an impeached President who hasn’t been removed from office, I am trying to dredge up some hope for the triumph of peace and love around the planet. It involves squelching a feeling that my tiny contribution to the world is woefully inadequate toward fulfilling this dream, and as a result, futile.

We are back at Wintervale this morning, being smothered with love from Pequenita and surrounded once again by fields and forest, animal tracks, snow, and chickens.

There is a fire in the fireplace. I’m home for most of the weekend before returning to the regular routine of my 4-day work week and the commuting it involves.

We will be out for a little bit tomorrow to gather with Hays siblings for a post-holiday get-together that tends to happen only rarely.

Cyndie’s increasing role of support for her parents as needs dictate will shift a little as they prepare to return to Florida. I expect she will be taking an increased number of flights south in the coming months as a result.

Today we will try putting away Christmas decorations and clearing snow from the icy valleys on the roof, as well as shovel the deck and a few paths that I skipped when I came home to plow last Tuesday.

This place is such a sanctuary. It is hard to meld in my mind the peace here with unrest in other parts of the globe.

I will grasp for hopeful embers of energy to fuel an escape from worst outcomes being bantered about in the media and within the vengeful souls who have suffered offense. Somewhere in the universe, there must exist a remedy with power to forever sever cycles of violent revenge.

I tend to perceive it as, simply, the power of love. Obviously, it requires significant investment from all parties involved, but the secret (and not-so-secret) ingredient has to be love.

Unfortunately, love isn’t a very quick solution for the climate catastrophes of fires and floods that Australia, Indonesia and other parts of the world are suffering.

I don’t envy the task of mustering hope by the people living in the vicinity of major weather impacts.

It makes the blessings of our precious home all the more impressive.

Sending love as best I can!

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Written by johnwhays

January 4, 2020 at 10:48 am

Plowing Challenge

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Last Sunday, when we left home in Beldenville to drive to Edina for a few days, it was raining outside.

On Monday, the precipitation turned to snow. In Edina, the accumulation was about four or five inches. On Tuesday, Cyndie texted our current animal sitter and asked if she would stop by our place to check on the chickens and Pequenita. The answer was yes, but after she arrived we received a report that there was too much snow for her to drive up the driveway. She walked the quarter-mile up to the house.

That triggered me into action and I drove home to plow.

There was 6.5 inches of snow up by the house, maybe an inch more farther out in the open. It was the most snow at one time that I have needed to plow so far this year. Between the large amount of snow and the icy coating beneath it, I needed to get a little creative about plowing angles. There was a fair amount of time spent sliding sideways as the wheels spun when I attempted to back up after pushing snow all the way off the edge of the paved surface.

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It was a beautiful day to be outside working in the snow, but I needed to get cleaned up and drive right back to Edina so Cyndie and I could attend a New Year’s Eve party with friends who invited us at the last minute when they learned we were in town.

I had successfully managed to drive my Crosstrek all the way from the road to the house without getting stuck, but I didn’t think to clean the snow out of the wheels after I pulled into the garage.

The return trip to Cyndie’s parent’s house was like driving on a washboard because of vibration from the wheels being a little out of balance. On the plus side, it gave my voice a great vibrato when singing along with my music the whole way back to Edina.

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Written by johnwhays

January 2, 2020 at 7:00 am

First Time

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We are on something of a “stay-cation,” in that, we didn’t go up to Hayward with Cyndie’s parents for the New Year celebration, but we are spending a few days with them at their home in Edina. Like we did for Christmas, we’ve brought along Delilah and left the chickens cooped up and Pequenita by herself at home.

Cyndie’s eyelids are showing signs of good recovery and she has begun to only occasionally stray from doctor’s orders to NOT bend over. Most importantly, she has thus far successfully avoided inadvertently rubbing her eyes as the healing process causes them to itch.

I can’t say the same for myself. Since the day of her surgery, I have been rubbing my eyes more than ever out of sympathetic response to her situation.

For the most part, Delilah seems to be taking to our sudden suburban living with impressive ease. I, on the other hand, am being pushed beyond my boundaries. For the first time in my life, I have needed to pick up my dog’s poop. I never thought I would allow myself to be stuck in this situation.

Cyndie and I have taken turns walking her around the neighborhood and both of us are making adjustments to avoid contact with any other dog walkers. She has failed to accomplish successful introductions so many times that we have pretty much quit trying. The only way I would try again would be if someone told me they wanted their dog to be grabbed and shaken like a rag doll. Delilah has proved she is able to offer that service. Otherwise, I’m thinking we are beyond the point of trying to socialize her with other dogs.

While out with her last night in the latest snowstorm, my feet slipped out from under me on the polished packed snow beneath the new-fallen layer on the once-plowed street. Can you say, “Hip plant!”? I’m gonna have a bruise there, I think.

Delilah seems to be doing her best to claim territory on the streets surrounding Cyndie’s parents’ house. Mailbox posts get an awful lot of attention. Safe within the confines of the basement rooms, she boldly barks at the sight of any activity at neighboring properties.

It’s certainly not the first time she has barked at something she sees outside the window.

Here’s wishing you all a safe celebration of the end of a decade and dawn of a new one!

Tomorrow will be the first time we’ve ever been in the year 2020. May all of us experience a new year filled with more peace and love than ever before.

Wouldn’t that be a priceless first?

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Written by johnwhays

December 31, 2019 at 7:00 am

Familial Bonds

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I align with the perception that simply being human puts us all in the same family, but it’s hard to deny a reality that some people are more family than others. It’s not all that surprising when people who share a bloodline experience a connection born of common ancestry, but I have experienced enough occasions when I am drawn toward kindred spirits with whom I have no blood relation that I know there are mystical bonds deeper than our brains can explain.

Last night we had a chance to brush up against this fascinating phenomenon when the Grinnell families who had gathered in St. Peter for the memorial service of their patriarch, Robin (who was Fred’s cousin), drove up for a spur of the moment gathering at Cyndie’s parent’s home in Edina.

As an in-law in the gathering of Norwegian Friswold and Grinnell clans, it was a treasure to witness the threads of connection and hear the sharing of family stories. I have enjoyed short visits with the Grinnell brothers less than a handful of times over a span of several decades, so my relationship to them could easily be described as acquaintances.

So why does it feel like so much more than that?

Likely, for the same reason that I feel like a brother to Ian Rowcliffe and like a member of Dunia and Marco’s family.

There is a magical aspect to the attraction toward kindred spirits that defies definition by words. It is an energy of the heart. It is a special form of love. It is a unique feeling that blossoms for a select few.

It is a brush with things sacred, which tends to make me feel more fully human.

At the same time, that begs a question of why I don’t feel more of a connection to all who make up the human family. Wouldn’t that be ideal?

A lofty goal for which to aim. For now, I will enjoy the special warmth of sharing time again with people who mean more to me than I can understand. It fits nicely within the mysteries that I don’t really feel a need to have explained.

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Written by johnwhays

December 30, 2019 at 7:00 am