Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘family

Sibling Dinner

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My Hays siblings don’t gather often, but whenever we are all able to be in one place at the same time, it’s a real treat. Last night, we met at Elliott and Wendy’s house in Richfield for dinner.

The weather was HOT and HUMID at the beginning of the evening, but just as the grill was getting ready for cooking, heavy rain began to fall and that cooled things off a little. Elliott braved the downpour, beneath his hanging umbrella over the grill, and prepared chicken and burgers. The rest of us were to bring the sides.

The delicious coleslaw and a spicy white corn concoction that Judy and Mary brought were dwarfed by the massive collection of desserts that they and Cyndie laid out on the table.

It ended up being a little dinner, and a LOT of dessert.

I particularly enjoyed some of the reminiscing about the different memories of mealtimes when we were young. I asked if there was pressure to clean our plates, because I don’t remember any, yet have always tended toward that behavior. Apparently, there was some history there. Mary recalled Auntie Kay was one source of that message.

I remember our father at mealtimes asking if there was a fire, or “Where’s the fire?” in the sideways manner of getting us to notice how fast we were eating. Elliott said that eating fast offered the best chance of getting any seconds.

It’s been a heck of a lot of years since we were all kids eating around the same table, but for a few minutes last night, I enjoyed a glimmer of some of those times with my brothers and sisters.

I feel very lucky to have such wonderful siblings.

What’s not to like? They remind me, in so many ways, of me.

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Written by johnwhays

July 13, 2018 at 6:00 am

The Fourth

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Rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air. It being a wonderfully warm July night last night, we had all the windows open. Beyond the rhythmic ratchety chirp of a few nearby frogs, we were serenaded by holiday revelers getting a head start, lighting up over an hour’s worth of pyrotechnic battle sounds on the third of July.

Today is a mid-week pause from the day-job, but the ranch chores never take a break. Jackie traveled across Wisconsin to be with her family for the holiday, so Cyndie and I will be tending to all our animals for the day.

I may do some mowing, if it doesn’t rain, and Cyndie is considering canning some black-cap jam. She may even get some help from Elysa and Ande, who messaged an intent to visit.

Other than that, we have no special Independence Day plans.

I’m sure we will have another night of battle sounds echoing throughout the hours surrounding sunset.

O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Happy 4th of July to all who reside in the US of A!

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Written by johnwhays

July 4, 2018 at 6:00 am

Intentional Community

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Wow. Similar endings in both World Cup games yesterday, in that, the final results were determined by penalty kicks. I only got to see parts of both games, due to a special meeting of the Wildwood Lodge Club association members in the morning, and then our trip home in the afternoon, but what I saw was highly entertaining.

There is some work needing to be done to maintain the soundness of the aging lodge building up at the lake, which will require significant financial commitment. At the same time, after over 50-years of existence, the association is facing the aging out of the first generation. Financial burdens are beginning to fall on the multiple sibling families that make up the second generation members.

We are facing some big decisions as an intentional community, about what the six expanding families’ long term wishes and dreams are for the future of this communal vacation paradise.

I walked portions of the property in the early morning on Saturday and captured the some of the quiet beauty.

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I’ve written about Wildwood before, but to summarize for newer readers, it is an association of now 6 families that share a central lodge building, play field, tennis court, gorgeous beach, and boats. When the old fishing resort was purchased by 11 families in the 1960s, it was a number of small, mostly primitive small shacks surrounding the main lodge.

Moms and kids would spend most of the summer there, with dads coming from the Twin Cities for the weekends. Families would rotate cabins throughout the summer and often dined communally around the main fire pit in the central “triangle” on their peninsula of Round Lake.

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In the 1980s, when the member numbers had dropped to seven families, the maturing clans elected to split the property into separate plots in order to allow for enhancements to the living accommodations, while also providing equity for the investment by individual families.

Meanwhile, all the traditions and celebratory community activities from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and for a decade or so, New Year’s Eve, played out with emphatic zest.

It was intentional community at its best. Kids and dogs, and all the good and bad that happens with outdoor space, a lake, and time, became the joys and concerns of all. With this precious group, there were always a lot more joys than there ever were concerns.

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Saturday, in celebration of the mid-week 4th-of-July holiday this year, we broke out the red “bats” shirts and the blue “mice” shirts to split the community into two arbitrary teams for a mostly typical array of challenges for dominance.

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There was a relay race, water-balloon toss, three-legged sack race, shoe kick, watermelon eating contest, and finally, a water scrum to move a greased watermelon across the opponent’s line.

The day of games was topped off by a grand feast in the lodge for dinner, all prepared, served, and serviced by a combined effort of member families, kids included (to varying degrees of success).

Now the community is needing to address what the next version of Wildwood Lodge Club might be?

There are many variables involved, and few, if any, right or wrong decisions to be made. That presents us with a significant challenge.

If Wildwood is to remain some version of its former self, it will involve a big commitment from all the members.

In my mind, big commitments are what it takes for “intentional communities” to survive and to thrive.

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Written by johnwhays

July 2, 2018 at 6:00 am

Overload Warning

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Cyndie and I finally got around to accomplishing a dinner date we had talked about way back at the beginning of the month, around the time of her birthday. Now my birthday has come and gone, and last night we made it down to our nearby fine dining destination restaurant, Shady Grove, to celebrate.

Despite my usual habit of choosing fish, I found myself entranced by a choice of the bison ribeye, instead. I wasn’t disappointed.

It being a special occasion, we allowed for a little indulgence after the meal.

Warning! Warning! Sugar overload ahead!

Chocolate, caramel, sea salt —chilled. I had two bites more than I deserved, and we brought a third of it home. I think I can hear it calling out to be eaten for breakfast this morning.

Who am I to argue?

Yesterday, I enjoyed a perfect execution of a plan to finish mowing the lawn in the narrow window of time between work and our dinner reservation. That makes up for the last time I had high hopes of squeaking in the mowing, when the spring broke just before I left for a week of vacation.

Despite the consecutive days of rain that fell at home while I was away, Cyndie enlisted the help of Mary and Tim, my sister and brother-in-law, to finally knock down the crop of lawn grass in the days before I got home. Picking up where they left off, starting late Wednesday after work and finishing last night, I completed the whole property again, with the exception of the arena space.

Today, we head for the lake for the weekend, leaving Jackie to care for animals at home. With the Independence Day holiday landing in the middle of the following week, the annual Wildwood 4th-of-July games have been moved ahead to this weekend.

It’ll be Bats vs. Mice in a no-holds-barred battle of strength, cunning, stamina, and good humor in the field beside the lodge.

To heck with the sugar overload, I’m gonna have dessert for breakfast this morning. I’ll use the rush to get mentally prepared for the weekend events looming on our horizon.

Warning! Warning! Hyperactive blissed-out old man ahead.

Bring on the shoe kick!

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Written by johnwhays

June 29, 2018 at 6:00 am

Recovery Mode

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The week of vacation is over and it feels like I have PVED: Post-Vacation Exhaustion Disorder. I need to take a vacation from my vacation. Recovery mode involves sleeping late in my own bed, not riding my bike today, trying to get back to reasonably portioned meals, not eating ice cream treats at every turn, and perching on my easy chair to watch some World Cup games.

The 2018 Tour of Minnesota was a mix of riding roads and trails in both good and bad weather.

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As my recovery progresses, I expect to get my camping gear dried out, do an assessment of the Wintervale chores looking for attention, and most of all today, enjoy a celebration of Elysa’s birthday. She and Cyndie are in the kitchen preparing a large variety of delicacies for a gathering of many expected guests.

I expect there will be tales of the bike week and more stories to come in the days ahead. Stay tuned…

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Written by johnwhays

June 23, 2018 at 9:29 am

Sixty Years

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Sunday evening was definitely the grand finale of the weekend family celebration of Cyndie’s milestone birthday. It would have been easy to confuse the occasion with a Friswold Christmas dinner for a number of reasons, most noticeably, the inclusion of the artificial tree (left up all year in the rarely used basement these days).

Cyndie’s parents and brothers planned, prepared, put together, and pulled off one heck of a spectacular customized evening to give the birthday girl exactly what she wanted, and more.

With tie-dye patterned flags and a “peace” banner adorning the tree, they presented a basket filled with a wide variety of crazy photos of Cyndie in every stage of life. Family members took turns selecting photos to hang on the tree, presenting each with a personal message for the girl.

Love overflowed. The tree and Cyndie glowed.

Fred offered readings from some ancestors’ letters providing fabulous historic perspective, followed by a powerful statement written recently by brother Ben, addressing present-day issues. The profound meaning of this sharing was perfect for an occasion to honor and celebrate Cyndie, especially with honorary “adopted” sister, Rabi, from Kenya present (who surprised Cyndie by flying in from out-of-town for the event).

There was also a light-hearted reading from Marie, ala the custom-composed candy prose she masterfully wrote and designed. I didn’t see if Cyndie, or nieces and nephews, ended up with the haul when it was deconstructed.

Marie set out well-loved appetizer choices and Carlos enlisted assistants to put finishing touches on place settings for dinner. Truly works of art that lifted the evening to out-of-this-world (and incomparable) levels.

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The meal was some of Marie’s best beef tenderloin ever, garnished with just the right compliment of potato, vegetables, salad, and bread. Of course that was finished with Norwegian Cream and some obligatory birthday cake.

It was truly a wonderful evening. The best of everything family. There is no questioning the Friswold’s ability to put on a special birthday party.

The entire weekend was an absolutely perfect way to celebrate sixty years of Cyndie’s amazing life.

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Written by johnwhays

June 12, 2018 at 6:00 am

All About

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Cyndie. This Weekend, it’s all about Cyndie as we celebrate the milestone of her 60th birthday. With Jackie tending to animal chores at Wintervale, Cyndie and I are submersed in the loving energy –and I do mean energy– of the Friswold family. We are staying at her parent’s house in Edina, MN, but have twice in a row found our way to downtown Minneapolis.

Last night, it was dinner and music at the Dakota, where we ate like royalty and swooned over Shawn Colvin‘s very personal solo guitar song performance.

This morning, Cyndie is sleeping in. My brain is busy trying to process the onslaught of activity, memories, and emotions –not to mention distractions of mental and physical preparations for my biking and camping trip that starts on Friday– conspiring to confuse me over whether it’s all about Cyndie, or all about me right now.

I had the great pleasure of starting the day yesterday riding bikes with Cyndie’s brother, Ben. He rode over from about a mile away just as a rumble of thunder rolled over us.

We took pause inside to watch the radar long enough to see we would have a perfect window of opportunity after a very short wait. The tiny disturbance sliding south of us was just a precursor to the precipitation that would arrive in the middle of the day and hang around for the afternoon.

While the sky was watering the earth, more of the Friswold clan gathered for lunch at Jimmy’s restaurant near our old Eden Prairie stomping grounds.

After a little nap before heading out for the night, attention turned to a gift brother Barry presented to Cyndie. Her jaw dropped when she saw her younger face on the cover of a memory book of pictures he had spent many loving hours to produce.

Just as she finished a first pass through the overwhelming collection of memories the images trigger, we stood to witness Justify run for the triple crown. Then eleven of us headed out for dinner and the concert.

With noted local musician and song-a-day YouTuber, Zachary Scot Johnson opening the show for Shawn Colvin, we were treated to a range of guitar-accompanied stories, providing me with a second recent prompt to wonder whether I am still a guitar player, or not.

A variety of reasons have combined to allow months to pass without my spending time with fingers on frets. I am inclined to blame my yet-to-be surgically treated arthritic left thumb as the primary culprit for the hiatus, but deep down, I have a sense I may be giving that more credit than is due.

Somehow, while distracted with too many of my own concerns rarely focused on accomplishments, I have been granted the chance to flutter around the bright light that is Cyndie for 44-some years.

It makes for a tangled web that isn’t so much all about her or me in the end. It really has become all about us.

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Written by johnwhays

June 10, 2018 at 8:35 am