Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘friends

Blind Spot

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In my opinion, eyewitness testimony is not as reliable as it is generally made out to be. After a recent incident of missing puzzle pieces, I have lost all confidence in my own ability to see what’s right in front of my face.

Upon completing the first of the latest puzzles my sister shared with us, there were two missing pieces. Having knocked plenty off the table while assembly was in progress, my initial response was to search the rug below. I laid down to scan the surface but found nothing.

A day later, we spread out the 2000 pieces of the next puzzle. I assembled all but one piece of the border and started wondering if that last piece might have fallen to the floor. By merely bending over to scan the floor, I instantly caught sight of one of the missing pieces from the previous puzzle.

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Where the heck was that piece when I looked for it the day before? More importantly, how did my eyes fail to see what was laying out in plain sight?

A short while later, between drying baking bowls and utensils, I spotted the last border piece that had been evading my eyes up to that point. I had abandoned the Vikings game after it became an obvious losing effort to join the party going on in the kitchen. Since my skills aren’t in the preparation of food, I make my contribution by cleaning up afterward.

Our friend, Melissa and our daughter, Elysa came for the day to help Cyndie in a second round of Christmas Cookie baking.

Unfortunately for me, I don’t seem to have any difficulty seeing the expanse of cookie options covering our countertops. My A1C levels might not be at their preferred number for a while. 

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Written by johnwhays

December 12, 2022 at 7:00 am

Friendly Spectating

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Of all the spectator sports I follow, the FIFA World Cup is very near the top. The only disadvantage keeping it from number one is that it only happens every four years. At the same time, that long wait between events helps to amp up the interest when the year of a Cup finally arrives.

Living as far from our friends in the Twin Cities as we do, I usually find myself sitting alone in front of our television taking in the grand spectacle of the games. Yesterday, we didn’t let that distance stop us from accepting an invitation from our friend, John Bramble, even though his team, England, was the opponent of the U.S. in this game.

We were entering the lion’s den.

It was Cyndie’s first outing on crutches where she encountered stairs. With little recent practice, she tentatively but successfully made her way inside where we found our gracious host had provided a seat reserved just for her.

With tea and biscuits, we enjoyed a jovial 90-minute (plus minor stoppage time) celebration of the beautiful game. Both sides were left short of a victory since the match ended in a scoreless draw, but since England was favored, the moral victory went to the U.S.

To show his dissatisfaction with the outcome, our host dramatically removed his “England” shirt and threw it to the floor and stomped on it. John said the elaborate exhibition was actually just a rehearsal for the eventual point when England gets knocked from the tournament.

I can relate to that thought process. I’m not anticipating the U.S. team will exceed anyone’s expectations and the moment they fail to advance, I will be able to relax and enjoy the rest of the tournament with no strong connection to any of the possible outcomes.

Yesterday’s taste of watching a match among a group of like-minded football [soccer] fans was a refreshing reminder of how much fun it is to share the joys of watching sports with friends.

Thank you for inviting us, John Bramble, despite the team I was rooting for. Cyndie voluntarily chose to cheer for England in solidarity with our gracious host, since he was significantly outnumbered.

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Written by johnwhays

November 26, 2022 at 11:56 am

Hiking Afton

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A hike in the woods along the scenic St. Croix River is always good for what ails, especially on an uncharacteristically summery day in the second half of October in the greater Twin Cities. Even better, doing it with precious friends and sharing a picnic lunch adds a magical essence of energizing endorphins.

We met Pam and John at Afton State Park early enough in the day that a second layer with long sleeves helped to tide us over until the heat of a summer day settled in. Pam and I first connected on a group trek in the Himalayas in 2009, the one that served as inspiration for me to start this blog. The mixture of terrain in the park and the marvelous conversations yesterday sparked remembrances for both of us of the weeks we shared over a decade ago in Nepal.

Driving to the Minnesota side of the St. Croix river from our house, I witnessed a phenomenon in the sky that was a first for me. High winds had pushed some clouds 90° from flat to straight up. On an otherwise unremarkable-weather morning, such an anomaly in the sky seemed incredibly remarkable to me.

I can only wonder what that would have been like for a small plane if one were in the vicinity.

My drive home included a different kind of excitement in the sky in the form of smoke. Actually, I smelled it before I saw it and the instant impression I had was alarm over the possibility of a brush fire on this hot and windy day with the extremely dry conditions our drought has caused.

I had just come through River Falls and finally spotting the thickness and depth of the smoke served to heighten my level of concern. Then I came upon a bright orange temporary road sign indicating a “prescribed burn” in progress.

“In these conditions?!!” I thought to myself.

Cyndie and I had traveled in separate cars as she had overnight plans with a friend in the Cities and drove west from Afton after our picnic and I returned home to take care of the horses and Delilah.

A short distance after the sign, my anxiousness dropped significantly at the sight of an incredible number of strategically parked vehicles and some big equipment, indicating this was not some short-sighted amateur operation. Still, it seemed to me like the weather conditions would have given them reason to pick another time for such a risky endeavor. I have no idea what the purpose was for the burn at that location.

Enquiring minds would like to know.

Good thing for me the residual endorphins from the good time hiking and picnicking in Afton State Park with John and Pam survived that brief, smoky disruption to my serenity on the drive home.

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Written by johnwhays

October 23, 2022 at 9:53 am

Swift Switch

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We were not expecting to wake up to such a wintery scene yesterday morning as the one that greeted us as darkness faded enough to reveal whiteness covering our deck.

Ever one to playfully re-interpret reality, before Cyndie opened her eyes, I told her that it didn’t rain overnight like we had expected. The early dose of measurable snowfall made about the same impression on our Japanese silver grass as it did on us.

It felt like a great day to stay in bed a little longer than usual and be warm under covers but duty called and we dug boots from deep in the closet, spilling a pile of things out in the process, and took Delilah for a walk before feeding the horses.

Speaking of horses, yesterday we had a visit from the nutritionist from This Old Horse who measured each of our Thoroughbred mares and issued a pleasing assessment that they all looked really, really good and healthy.

They have gained weight as hoped. We’ve been giving Mix an extra serving of feed pellets per day and we will begin doing the same with Mia to keep them on track toward a goal of optimal robustness. Mia, especially, could use a bit more body fat to cope at this time of year. She was pretty shivery at the start of the day. We are going to get a moisture-wicking blanket for her to help during these in-between weeks of cold precipitation.

Their winter blankets would be a bit much at this point. She just needs a raincoat.

Mix likes using mud for a covering. She rubbed her face firmly to paint her cheeks thoroughly and looked proud of her appearance after she stood up again.

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By the end of the day the snow had disappeared and this morning there are areas of blue sky overhead. We are feeling a new urgency about finishing a few projects that require we be able to see the ground, including one that involves digging dirt before it freezes.

We also still need to shut down and pull the pump from our landscape pond. It looked strange to see the water flowing with everything covered in snow. I pulled a snow shovel out to clear the steps yesterday morning, feeling it was way too soon to be doing so.

Time marches on. We are having our grief over Pequenita’s passing poked by continuing to find her toys tucked under or behind furniture. Even a dust bunny of cat hair becomes a tear-jerker at this point. Thank you to all who have conveyed your support. We truly appreciate the love. ❤️

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Written by johnwhays

October 15, 2022 at 10:09 am

Aerial View

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We were finishing breakfast yesterday morning when our friend, Mike Wilkus, texted that he and his niece would be flying over our place in twenty minutes. Cyndie responded that we would be out in our field with the horses and asked for a photo of the labyrinth. Right on time, we heard the sound of a small plane approaching.

They flew right over us and made a turn to come around again. It was easiest for us to see them when they were right over us but from my experience as a passenger in small planes, I knew it is most difficult to see what is directly below. It felt a little dorky to be waving my arms broadly toward a small visible speck of a plane so far away in the sky, but I was guessing that was when they would have the best-angled view of us.

Soon, Mike was sending us pictures he took and Cyndie was sending hers right back. It went a little like this:

The four horses stand out pretty well in that last image. Cyndie, Delilah and I were a little above and to the right of the horses. To the right of us, the bottom portion of our brand spanking new driveway stands out rather nicely, too. Looks pretty good even from that altitude.

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Written by johnwhays

September 30, 2022 at 6:00 am

Birthday Game

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On the occasion of a 50th birthday, many people choose to go big. Our friend, Doobie Kurus, took the number 50 to a wonderful extreme, tying it to the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers’ third football game of the season. He bought 50 tickets for friends and family and hosted a spectacular tailgate party four and a half hours before the game.

Yesterday was a hot September day that carried a possibility of an afternoon thunderstorm. Cyndie and I wavered over preparing for rain or not, ultimately opting to carry rain gear based on the thinking that having protection would likely mean we wouldn’t need it. That was easier than finding Cyndie a maroon shirt to show the spirit of University colors.

I am proud of her ingenuity in crafting the look of the University mascot, Goldy Gopher, on a maroon tee shirt that has an image of Julian’s cat on the front.

Doobie was serenaded with a “Happy Birthday” song by a subset of the marching band that was making its way through the rows and rows of tailgaters. His daughter, Emma, plays saxophone in the band.

For Cyndie and me, much of the activity brought back our pleasant memories as band parents during the years Elysa played one of the big bass drums in the drum line.

I felt compelled to greet a few of the current members of the drum line as the band began gathering for formal inspection before pregame performance.

After the game, which Minnesota won by almost reaching the number fifty against Colorado, 49-7, Doobie arranged for us to get on the field where we milled around before posing on the 50 yard line for a final portrait with the birthday boy.

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While visiting with Doobie, I learned the actual day of his birthday is tomorrow, the nineteenth of September. He’s in good company, as tomorrow is Julian’s birthday and Cyndie’s and my 41st wedding anniversary.

It was quite a day. Felt very celebratory and somewhat exhausting for all that good food, high heat, endless sunshine, walking, standing, and communing with close friends and fellow Big Ten college football fans.

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Written by johnwhays

September 18, 2022 at 10:23 am

Last Hurrah

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Taking full advantage of immersing ourselves in the last Sunday of the summer season up at the lake, we hiked, swam, boated, feasted, visited, and began putting away water toys. Hosting members of Friswold’s adopted family, the Birgens, we had added reasons to wander the grounds and socialize with fellow “Wildwooders.” Wildwoodites? Member clans of the incredible Wildwood Lodge Club (WWLC).

The holiday weekend inspired an additional reason to gather members, so Cyndie and her mom invited everyone to our place for a 5 o’clock cocktail party with socializing around the fire. With flashback memories of the way it was done when Cyndie was a kid up here, that fire was then used to cook burgers for our dinner.

In another throwback to a bygone era, I got out my little travel guitar and “strumgled” [strummed and struggled] a few songs from the cobwebs of my fading memory. It was sufficient to punctuate the culmination of a fabulous day at the lake honoring the last events of summer.

Today, the Birgens will head out on the last leg of their journey, taking their youngest, Jonathon, to his first year of college. Cyndie, her mom, and I will linger one more night and head home tomorrow.

In the wee hours before dawn this morning, our gentle slumber was serenaded by the wistful echoing calls of an owl in the woods outside our window. It truly feels like we are experiencing summer’s last hurrah.

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Written by johnwhays

September 5, 2022 at 8:47 am

Impeccable

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friends
a milestone birthday
fine dining
The St. Paul Grill
impeccable evening
shared Caesar Salad
signature dressing, baked croutons
Salmon, perfectly done
topped with seven spice butter on a bed of sautéed spinach
what a sauce, a jamboree of flavors
shared sides
Hash Browns
with bacon and white onions
Asparagus Spears
perfectly, perfectly cooked
Creamed Spinach
two bites of her Bourbon Pork Chop
one of his fries
a bite of her Filet
medium, with mushrooms
three shared desserts
bittersweet chocolate, whipped cream, caramel drizzle, ice cream, more chocolate
immensely satisfying
did I mention
impeccable?

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Written by johnwhays

August 24, 2022 at 6:00 am

Mostly Cloudy

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Some days are so low-key that the excitement of solving the Wordle puzzle is one of the noteworthy highlights. Actually, amazing life events sometimes play out unexpectedly in the midst of an otherwise bucolic ambiance of a quiet cloudy day at the lake. There are only three of us occupying the big log house this weekend. With the cool temperature and cloudy sky doing a lot to set the tone, we didn’t have any lofty ambitions about pursuing laudable accomplishments.

Midmorning we received a precious invitation to join with other Wildwood families for a gathering of the Whitlock family next door. They were doing a memorial spreading of ashes for their patriarch, Bill, a founding member of the Wildwood Lodge Club. Afterward, families represented gathered on the Whitlock deck to catch up and share memories.

It was the kind of visit that could have gone on forever except they had a dinner plan. We three returned to our place for dinner and a mix of tv dramas in front of a fire.

Some sunshine would have definitely painted the day with a greater urge to be out but the surprise opportunity to commune with people we dearly love was a bonus that truly blessed an otherwise understated day.

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Written by johnwhays

August 14, 2022 at 10:20 am

Other Pursuits

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With my left quadricep still complaining about being overworked, I took the day off from cycling yesterday and power lounged much of the morning away on my own. I enjoyed the opportunity to catch some Premier League football on television which also provided a chance to nod off and rest more than just my leg muscles.

Paul and Randy did a short bit of biking before Randy headed back to the Cities. After some of the golfers finished one round, other pursuits beckoned. Ultimately, everyone who wasn’t still on the golf course migrated toward the lake. An attempt at water skiing was interrupted when the speed boat under-performed, behaving like the engine couldn’t get enough air, fuel, or both to keep up with demand.

Attention shifted to the pontoon boat and a three-hour cruise around the lake materialized.

The phone-camera selfies all became “us-ies” and David K and Steve kindly shared a couple of group photos capturing the fun. The vague possibility of stopping to check out Powell’s restaurant on the far side of the lake, “maybe for a drink,” became an excuse to have dinner out.

While the threat of rain lingered throughout the day, the few sprinkles that occasionally fell hardly got anything wet, including the drips that fell as we waited for our meals to arrive.

Back on shore as day turned to night, the benches around the fire pit were put to good use and old Derek & the Dominos songs played through a bluetooth speaker as a perfect evening for hanging around a fire transpired.

It was a day that served as an excellent example of how to spend leisure time on the lake. Sure beats workin’.

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Written by johnwhays

August 7, 2022 at 8:04 am