Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘family

Beyond Mowing

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The time of mowing is upon us in multiple ways. Beyond the usual routine of cutting our lawn grass, the big tractors are finally hitting the local fields to cut hay. The neighbors who are renting our fields knocked down the tall grass in opposite corners of our property recently, leaving a very noticeable line of uncut growth along the fenceline that Cyndie tackled with our power trimmer.

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Despite all the mowing going on, Cyndie continues to pull off a heroic amount of raspberry picking which naturally led to canning jam. Since she was going to be in that canning mode, she also made a trip to a local strawberry grower to pick a bulk of that jam favorite, as well as a stop at the grocery store for a couple of bags of cherries.

Even though canning jam deserves to be a single focus task, Cyndie chose to merge it with preparations to drive to Northfield, MN, for a mini-reunion with visiting Hays relatives. There, we uncovered a treasure trove in my sister Mary’s files of family newsletters from the days before the internet took over communication.

I don’t remember writing all those annual reports detailing our children’s school years, but reading back over those missives now gives me the impression I have been writing the equivalent of this daily blog for longer than just the ten years I’ve been posting here on Relative Something. In fact, the old family newsletter was called, “Relatively Speakin’.”

Seems to be a certain congruency there, no?

Who knows what lies ahead for this relative crew? It won’t surprise me if it ends up involving less mowing, but I doubt I will ever stop writing about whatever is happening in all of our lives.

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Written by johnwhays

July 14, 2019 at 9:55 am

Spectacularly Pleasant

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We were blessed with a fabulous summer-weather day for our Wildwood Lodge Club annual Fourth of July games. Things started a little slow, with a pickup wiffleball game occupying some of us, while the rest of the folks made their way to the lodge.

The flag was raised to a recorded version of our National Anthem.

Shoes were kicked.

Also, water balloons were tossed (thrown), wet sponges were passed, bodies were spun, and watermelon was handlessly gobbled. Yes, it gets messy.

Greased watermelons were then wrestled toward invisible goal lines.

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Finally, a feast was shared in the lodge.

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After dinner, I played a little guitar around the fire to cap off a spectacular day of events.

The most difficult part of this precious weekend is facing the return to reality that happens today. We drive home this afternoon in a line of holiday traffic to resume our normal weekday duties.

I suppose the plus side of that is, it tends to make days like these all the more special that we get to experience them.

This year will go down as a particularly precious Fourth of July weekend enjoying summer games up at Wildwood with all the families present.

I look forward to dwelling on it for as long as circumstances will allow.

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Written by johnwhays

July 7, 2019 at 8:23 am

Real Joy

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We are up at the lake for our US holiday weekend closest to Independence Day and large numbers of family are in attendance. That makes for special times. Even though the earth is shaking in California and stupid statements fly in Washington, D.C., our attention is localized in the here and now.

Last night the cousins and friends gathered around a table for a rousing game of “Catch Phrase” which blossomed into a classic manifestation of unbridled joy.

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It’s as much fun to watch as it is being a contestant.

Today, the seven families of our Wildwood Lodge Club will congregate at the lodge for a flag raising and National Anthem followed by a parade up and down the driveway. Then, the games commence. Fierce competitions of coordination and silliness between teams labeled “bats” and “mice” as we toss balloons, kick shoes, and gobble watermelon.

Next, there will be a massive community feast in the lodge and maybe a few fireworks after dark.

Laughter abounds throughout it all.

Extended family, and friends and neighbors who have always been close as family, sharing time and activities together in the glorious lakeside summer sunshine.

Even though there are harsh realities in the world, moments of our freedom and independence can be celebrated among smaller communities who know how to show love to others and be loved ourselves.

We are very lucky, and I absolutely cherish these times when we get to be at the lake with the people who know us best, experiencing real joy and sharing so much genuine love.

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Written by johnwhays

July 6, 2019 at 8:37 am

Celebrations Begin

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I think I’ve mentioned before that birthday dinners are a staple tradition in Cyndie’s family, and we doubled up yesterday, dining out twice. Barry and Carlos were sweet to travel all the way from Boston to help celebrate my big 6-0 milestone, and Cyndie brought them directly from the airport to take me out to lunch.

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Salmon salad! One of my favorites that won out over fish and chips.

For dinner, the whole crew, minus nieces and nephews, met downtown in Minneapolis on the rooftop of UNION Bar & Grill. As the sun dropped below an adjacent building, they rolled back the glass roof so we were able to dine under the evening sky.

Festive!

Thank you to Barry, Cyndie, Steve, and Sara for contributing photos!

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Written by johnwhays

June 27, 2019 at 6:00 am

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Without Pause

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I barely had time to unpack and catch my breath on Friday evening upon arrival home from the weeklong adventure of biking and camping, before the next flurry of activity began. At this time yesterday, I was in Cyndie’s car finishing up yesterday’s blog post as we raced west toward Chaska for a morning wedding of the daughter of one of our old school mates.

We didn’t have time to linger at the reception, because our afternoon and evening were reserved for the celebration of our daughter Elysa’s birthday. With their slick planning, Cyndie and Elysa had everything set for an excellent combination of activities.


Dressed in our summer wedding fare, we started the afternoon with a visit to Elysa and Ande’s garden plot near their home in St. Paul where we dumped 5 bags of Wintervale compost to cover their sprouting potato plants. Another gardener commented that we seemed a little overdressed for the task.

After that, it was an exploration through the bizarre collection of miscellaneous goods at Axman Surplus. They have everything you couldn’t possibly need, but always find some way to use. Birthday glasses!

Early dinner at On’s Kitchen on University Avenue to avoid the rush for Thai cuisine (Mmmm, Pad Thai!), and then Can Can Wonderland for entertainment.

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We chose to pass on the two-hour wait for the artist-designed mini-golf and settled for old-style pinball from my days of youth, skee-ball, ping pong, and bubble hockey, topped off with a round of beverages. A perfect birthday extravaganza.

Elysa got a candle in her drink.

I think I got more rest last week during the bike trip. Yesterday was like an added bonus day of adventure.

Now I could use a vacation from all my vacation.

Happy, happy birthday, Elysa!

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Written by johnwhays

June 23, 2019 at 10:00 am

Testing Mobile

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I’m thinking about taking another crack at posting from my phone next week while on the bike trip.

So, today I am typing with one finger, adding photos, and fumbling with formatting to achieve my desired look using icons I don’t understand.

Things may look different than usual on your screen.

Yesterday, I got out for my longest training ride so far this year. Topped out at a whopping two-hour jaunt.

The scenery may not be as beautiful as riding up at the lake, but it gets close once I get beyond the farmland.

I rode down into the river valley where the trout fishermen play. Hit 40 mph on the way down and 3 mph crawling back up.

The kids came over yesterday and provided gift labor in honor of Cyndie’s birthday. We chose moving the gazebo from the round pen over to the labyrinth.

It was a grand success of design collaboration and task cooperation.

Since I don’t know how to tweak images to my liking on this tiny mobile device, I will point out that Julian provided the gazebo images.

Thank you to our wonderful children for a really meaningful gift of time and energy!

Here ends today’s test of the alternative posting system.

I still don’t know how to customize image frames like I usually do, nor justify text, but I’m ready to look at this on my computer to see how it compares.

Thank you for reading!

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Written by johnwhays

June 9, 2019 at 7:48 am

Fun Surprise

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What could be more fun than getting together with life-long friends and heading out on a beautiful spring evening to see a Minnesota Twins baseball game at Target Field? I’ll tell you what. Discovering that your cousin from Duluth, whom you infrequently see, is at the same game and then sleuthing out his location to surprise him for a brief visit during the 7th inning.

Yes, that became my adventure the night before last. My son, Julian, brother-in-law, Steve, and four other Eden Prairie friends gathered downtown to see the Twins play game 2, of a 3-game series, against the LA Angels. It was a gorgeous night, and a delight to be out with treasured peeps to check on a team that has achieved an impressive amount of success recently, as compared to what Minnesota sports fans usually face.

As per today’s de rigueur trend, one of the guys snapped a phone selfie with the rest of us mugging around him for the shot. In an instant, our whereabouts were broadcast over the internet, where my sister, Judy, happened to see it. How many other spectators were simultaneously sharing pictures of their night at the ballpark? Well, it turns out Judy also found a post by our cousin, Charles Moulton, revealing his spectacular vantage point from behind home plate.

Suddenly my phone pings me with a message from Judy, showing me that our cousin was at the same game!

I could tell from the view in his image that we were on the same upper deck level, so Julian and I walked that direction to see if we could connect.

Since Charles had no idea we were at the game, I knew we had the upper hand in surprising him, as long as we spotted him first. It didn’t take long to confirm a sighting. He was in the first row, on the railing, and there just happened to be two open seats beside him. At the close of the sixth inning, we stealthily made our way down to the row behind him and then climbed over the back of the seats, asking, “Are these seats open?” without waiting for the answer he was politely offering.

He gave me a glance, as I smugly focused on him and not the field down in front of us, which subsequently induced a second look.

That’s when I was granted the ultimate reward of the surprise, as his face revealed the transforming expression of recognition and delight. We both had our sons with us, so there was also a meeting of second cousins. It was a real treat and a special bonus to an otherwise fabulous outing.

The Twins deserve some credit for putting on an exciting finish for the home crowd, despite the fact it was because they allowed the Angels to climb back from 4-0 to make it a one-run game. A big throw from center field to home for a lead-saving out gave us all much reason for revelry.

To top the night off, the sudden downpour of rain that popped up, waited until the game was over and we had made our way out of the stadium.

It was a wonderful week-night outing, topped with a special surprise that definitely qualified as my idea of fun!

Thanks, Judy!

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Written by johnwhays

May 16, 2019 at 6:00 am