Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘family

It’s Curious

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For as much of my life as is now committed to caring for our property and animals, I find it curious that I can still have a series of days with very little contact to them. Yesterday, in celebration of our anniversary, we went out to dinner in Hudson after I got home from work.

When we returned after dark, I dropped Cyndie off at the barn so she could make her way to the chicken coop to close their access door for the night. I parked the car in the garage and headed inside to start my evening routine.

Tonight, I will be meeting the family at a restaurant in downtown Minneapolis to celebrate Julian’s birthday. This will lead to another night of arriving home after dark, not even seeing either the horses or chickens.

During my work weeks, it can happen that I’m completely disconnected from the activities of our ranch for a few days. It’s a little disorienting for me.

Especially since the most orienting thing of all for me is when I am able to spend time with our animals.

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Written by johnwhays

September 20, 2017 at 6:00 am

Let’s See

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Let’s see that again. One of the conveniences of keeping a daily journal in the form of a blog is the ability to easily review what has come before. Last night I reviewed my posts for September 19th going back 8 years. I tend to pull out the same few pictures for the occasion every year.

Happy Anniversary, Cyndie!

As well, today we celebrate the birth of our son, Julian! HAPPY BIRTHDAY my son! You are truly a pride and joy for us to behold. May you have a special day and fabulous year ahead.

Remember these?

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September 19th is a very special occasion for us. Huzzah!

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Written by johnwhays

September 19, 2017 at 6:00 am

Many Hands

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From the moment we arranged the two boulders in the center location of what was to become the Rowcliffe Forest Garden Labyrinth, I envisioned a third stone resting upon them. The first challenge to fulfilling that vision was finding the right stone.

It needed to be the right shape and size, which I knew would mean the perfect stone would be too heavy for me to lift.

My quest for the specific stone was complicated by the fact that, without significant disruption, I couldn’t use trial and error to decide. Dealing with a such a heavy stone would mean the first one placed in that spot would likely be the only one placed in that spot.

Over the years, I experimented with light-weight objects to assist my eye for identifying what size and shape of rock I was looking for. Perfection proved to be hard to come by among the rock piles around our property, but last year I finally found one that had good potential.

It was buried in the woods, located conveniently close to the labyrinth. Using a small piece of woven fence panel and a strap, I created a sling to move it. Then I enlisted Cyndie –back when she still had two strong shoulders– to see if two people could do it.

It worked, enough to prove the concept, anyway. We stopped after getting it to the edge of the trail. There it sat for most of the year, because I wasn’t sure how to safely get it lifted high enough to position it atop the two boulders.

Yesterday, I realized we had the many hands of adventurous strong guys available to make the work light.

It’s a whole ‘nother story that we hosted a gathering at Wintervale with the families of Cyndie’s late aunt, Joan Brolin, to celebrate Christmas in September. That tale will likely get told in coming days.

I hadn’t thought about it in advance, but conversation somehow led to the topic of my wanting to figure out how to lift the heavy stone and place it. Cyndie’s brother, Steve, shared a video about a man who could move heavy objects by himself, using simple aids.

Cyndie’s cousin, Tom, thought we had enough hands and wanted to check it out. I grabbed a tape measure for one last confirmation that this stone would be the right size for what I was hoping to accomplish.

With little in the way of complications, five of us were able to move it, lift it high enough, roll it into place, and then rock it into a position that was stable.

It was an extremely satisfying triumphant moment for me.

Thank you to Cyndie’s brothers, Ben and Steve, and cousins Tom and Mike for helping fulfill my dream. And thank you to my daughter, Elysa, for capturing the event on my phone.

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Written by johnwhays

September 17, 2017 at 8:44 am

The Celebration

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It is tricky to keep a surprise from someone who is the center of planning family events, but to my utter amazement, Cyndie’s family pulled off a gala celebration last night without Marie knowing about it. I gotta say, that is a load off a lot of people’s minds. Especially to those of us not prone to telling lies. For months.

Cyndie’s parents were supposedly going out to dinner with three other couples, but were going to stop by the McNamara Alumni Center at the University of Minnesota to see a new display honoring one of the friends. Cyndie and her brothers, and brother-in-law Carlos had decorated the place for a world-class event.

Spread across three rooms, there was space to stand and chat, sit and eat, or dance to live music. Even if Marie had an inkling of something afoot, she had no clue how many friends she was going to be honored by this night.

That’s the kind of thing that brings sweet emotional tears of joy.

After that –and a lot of greetings and brief program to recognize 80 years– comes the dancing.

Till the night is no longer young.

If I can be so bold as to speak for Marie, I’ll say, it was a very happy birthday.

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Written by johnwhays

September 16, 2017 at 8:21 am

Other Mother

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When I married Cyndie, I officially gained my other mother, Marie. At the time, I had no idea what that was going to be like, but my sense was that it would be good. For the prior seven years when Cyndie and I were dating, I had enjoyed time with her family almost as much as with her alone.

Now, thirty-six years later, I can report that my mother-in-law experience has been infinitely better than I could possibly have imagined.

Cyndie’s mother, Marie, is celebrating a milestone birthday today. This morning we are gathering for breakfast at a restaurant to honor the occasion. This is particularly fitting, because family breakfasts under Marie’s skillful direction have been a priceless treat over the years.

If anyone ever happened to express a preference for something, maybe commenting about how they like their eggs prepared, Marie would notice and remember, serving up a perfect variety of versions every year after to assure everyone always gets what they want.

Marie’s balance of being exceptionally adventurous while also nurturing an organized routine of most activities have added depth, and provided stability, to my life as an in-law. We share enough traits to be in sync often, and clash only rarely.

Probably best of all for me, Marie has a keen sense of humor. She is ever so gracious in allowing herself be the target of jabs, while also being wily enough to play along with ever-present silliness and get in a few of her own pokes along the way.

It’s considered bad manners to reveal a lady’s age, so I will avoid blurting it out in public, but let’s just say it’s a good round number that just might have an 8 in it.

Happy Birthday, my other mom. You are terrific!

Keep up the good work.

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Written by johnwhays

September 15, 2017 at 6:00 am

Live Ball

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I was out late in the big city last night at a Twins game. All the lights and pageantry of Major League Baseball, but not much to cheer about for the home team.

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The best part of the whole night was the weather. Another glorious summer night, as comfortable as ever.

That benefit was followed closely by the fellowship of longtime friends, including my son, Julian, who was a last-minute addition to the crew. I was able to take advantage of a guest parking spot at his building and we walked the few blocks to the ballpark.

It was more than enough fun to make it worth the resulting lack of a full night’s sleep.

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Written by johnwhays

August 16, 2017 at 6:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

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More Family

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Yesterday we enjoyed a visit with more family when my sister, Judy, and her daughter, Tricia, and kids stopped by for a dose of Wintervale that delightfully just kept on going, despite their intention to make it brief.

I treasure the opportunity to share the preciousness of idle time among our animals and strolling around our grounds. When the participants are as thrilled by what they find here as Cyndie and I are, it is both energizing and confirming. 

The experience is what I believe it to be. Rejuvenating. Inspiring. Mesmerizing.

The kids didn’t want to leave. I couldn’t blame them one bit.

There are chickens! The horses! They walked/ran the labyrinth, laid on the hammocks, split wood for a fire, made s’mores. We ate fresh-picked sweet corn and cooked burgers over the fire. What’s not to like?

The best part for me was sharing some custom time among the herd, just standing or sitting near the horses while they munched on sweet clover in the arena space. We pulled out the giant soccer ball for the horses, but it held little appeal compared to the greens at their feet.

As we stood observing, the horses eventually oriented themselves right in front of us, chomping away about as close as they could get. Coming from our previous snack of corn on the cob, we recognized that they were gobbling the grass with very similar motions and zeal.

Quietly hanging out with the horses is time I am able to enjoy every day, but drop-in guests rarely get the opportunity, with the inherent hazards of unexpected horse reactions and unfamiliar humans creating unnecessary risk. Cyndie offered a crash-course of safety instruction and the group was able to enter the horses’ space for some unscripted interacting.

Hunter was particularly appreciative of all the attention being lavished and he soaked up the scratches for all he was worth. The picture Tricia captured of Brooke’s kiss while Hunter closed his eyes is a wonderful depiction of the sentiments.

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Written by johnwhays

August 12, 2017 at 9:42 am