Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘friends

Completely Forgot

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My poor brain can’t keep up. I expect it must be dropping old information out the back each time I try to stash something new in the front. I was just blessed with an opportunity to discover that I had forgotten entirely about a very valuable lesson learned through experience. I even blogged about it at the time for good measure. Granted, this was from 5-and-a-half years ago, but still…

In a humorous message exchange yesterday with my friend, Rich Gordon, I thought he had me mistaken for someone else. He had asked “What’s the best stuff to use to lubricate my garage door springs? I saw you had a repairman over recently.”

No. No, I haven’t had anyone here recently. I guessed that he had me confused with someone else. My response was to answer with a smartass quip in jest, figuring he would notice he meant that for someone else.

When he came back to ask in all seriousness, we discovered the miscue. Rich questioned his sanity for thinking he had just read about this in my blog and that triggered my scouring the “Previous Somethings” archive for the time our door spring broke. I confirmed that I did write about it, just not recently.

I’m guessing the old post from November of 2014 probably showed up as an auto-generated link of similar post suggestions that Rich inadvertently clicked without realizing he was delving so far into the archives.

As I reread my old writing, I was embarrassed to see I had clearly pointed out the need to lubricate the garage door spring, but soon after, I completely forgot anything about it. Out of sight, out of mind, even though I use our garage doors almost every day.

The icing on the cake of this whole memory failure appeared in the comments under that original post. Way back then, Rich and I already had this same discussion about what to use for lubricating the spring.

Guess what just moved up near the top of my home maintenance “to-do” list?

Garage door springs are not something that should be included in the category of “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” chores. Somehow, I spaced this one out entirely. It’s nice to have gotten a laugh out of it, but there’s an element of nervous laughter threaded through it. The power of those springs and the amount of weight they are counter-balancing is not something to be trifled with.

Now, if I could somehow figure out what important detail just dropped from my memory after bringing the door spring back to the front, that would be just great.

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Weak Link

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There are many days when the Wintervale connection to the world via the internet is annoyingly flakey. The problem is mysterious and invisible, frequently interrupting progress in the middle…

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Hi, I’m back. That’s the way this works. After a seemingly interminable pause, activity resumes as if nothing is amiss. You wouldn’t notice a thing, unless you were attempting to visit with others via Zoom.

“Your internet connection is unstable.”

 

As soon as that message appears, even as I rush to write a chat message to everyone to explain that I could hear them all even though my image may have frozen to them, my fate is doomed to closing and then immediately reconnecting, minus all the text I had just entered in the chat window.

It’s life in the country. For all the advantages we enjoy living out among farm fields and forests, it comes at the expense of having a reliable internet connection. The industry can’t balance the economics of running fiberoptic cable to handfuls of houses scattered across many wide miles.

We don’t stream. We rent DVDs through the mail.

If we want to accomplish something without interruption, it takes a lucky combination of atmospheric conditions and an absence of too much competition for the limited bandwidth. Oh, and we can’t have already exceeded our cap of monthly allotted usage.

In all of the Zoom meetings I have participated in over the last month, I was the weakest link.

It’s too bad because I love the possibility of connecting with my multiple remote communities, but I love living where we do even more.

Cyndie pointed out that our new openings around the two big oak trees beside the driveway allow for excellent viewing of the rising moon.

Since our internet browsers weren’t having much success loading pages, we were more available to get out and enjoy the lunar view.

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Written by johnwhays

May 6, 2020 at 6:00 am

Wing Wave

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Well, the woods look a lot different now than they did on Saturday.

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It is mind-boggling how much things can change in one day. It is such a dramatic difference to go from walking our trails on a warm, sunny day to tromping through deep snow the next.

Yesterday, while describing my landscaping adventures, I forgot to mention the total highlight of the day Saturday. I was toiling away placing some bales along the property line when a small plane approached and made a banked turn. I pay attention when small planes show up because I know a number of pilots whom I always hope will visit when they’re in the area.

When the plane continued the loop and came around again, my confidence jumped that it could be one of my friends in high places. I was in a tangle of trees at that moment and chose to make a break for the most open space nearby, which turned out to be my neighbor’s field.

I looked up into the sun in hopes my sunglasses might reflect my presence and waved my arms. The plane rocked its wings in response.

It’s such a thrill to receive that acknowledgment. At the time, I still wasn’t clear who it was, but I was confident it was someone I knew.

Then my phone registered a message. It was from Mike Wilkus.

“There is a man outstanding in his field. Or at least the neighbor’s field.”

He sent me some wonderful photos.

From the road at the bottom of the picture you see our driveway climb beside the big hay-field and turn at the hay-shed and barn, rise past the shop garage to the house at top. The paddocks and round pen are clearly visible, as is the labyrinth tucked in trees above the upper pasture that was also cut for hay last year.

And zooming in for a closer view, in the neighbor’s field there is a guy waving.

Thanks, Mike!

That view would sure look a lot different today with all this snow we received.

We had about 8 inches by the time I went to bed last night. I wonder how long it will take to turn it all into water that will keep us in the mud season for an additional week or two.

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Written by johnwhays

April 13, 2020 at 6:00 am

Look Ahead

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Take a break from the growing fear and uncertainty embedded in the crest of this pandemic wave rolling across the globe and look ahead to the day when it will be a block of time in history. Turn off the news. There will be updated reports awaiting you in the morning. Check those and then get on with your day.

There will be a day when you once again get to hug those you love. Look forward to those moments.

My friend, David Keiski wrote a song about it and performs in this video he created for us all to enjoy at a safe distance. Let his words ring across the world!

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Don’t be embarrassed about deciding to set it on “repeat.”

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Written by johnwhays

March 22, 2020 at 8:50 am

Doin’ Lowertown

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Last weekend was all about the Lowertown district on the edge of downtown St. Paul for us. We attended a concert at the Palace Theatre for a Valentine’s date on Friday night and met our friends, Barb and Mike on Saturday for dinner at the Handsome Hog restaurant that overlooks Mears Park. The drive from home feels quicker than the 35-40 minutes it takes when we exit directly onto 6th street and instantly find ourselves at our destinations, with no other turns required.

The highlight was by far the food and company on Saturday night. The contemporary Southern pig-centric menu is incredibly well-executed, based on the variety of delicious selections we all shared family-style. The location worked as an exact half-way point between our two homes, with the Wilkuses coming from the west and us from the east/southeast. They are the bestest of friends!

The concert on Friday was a meld of Calexico (Joey Burns and John Convertino) and the endearing Sam Beam who performs under the moniker Iron & Wine. They are a good match and clearly enjoy each other and performing together for an audience. I am a fan of Sam Beam’s songwriting and performance and generally can appreciate the Americana Tex-Mex indie rock of Calexico.

Unfortunately, I’ve reached an age where I too easily let the peripheral aspects of going out to see live performances tarnish the ultimate impression of events. The music was good, and the performers wonderfully engaging, so I was happily entertained in that regard.

We were impressed that the opening entertainer, 22-year-old Madison Cunningham, started exactly at the time the show was billed to begin, regardless the many unfilled seats. The first thing I noticed when I sat down in the balcony was that the rows were so tight I would be breathing into the hair of the person sitting in front of me. Luckily, there was no one there for the opening set.

Cyndie and I were unfamiliar with Madison and were pleasantly surprised. It would be fair to compare her singing and guitar skills to Joni Mitchell. No wonder we both liked her.

When the headliners took the stage, the seats in front of us filled and the fog machine pumped a mist to better show off the lights. I’m not sure where the director of the light show was sitting, but it’s a good guess it wasn’t in the balcony. They kept turning the fog machine on so often it was getting difficult to see the performers through the constantly thickening haze.

To make matters worse, they too frequently turned bright lights on behind the musicians, shining the beam up into our line of sight.

While I was fighting to see through all that, my eyes started to water from the essential oil or exotic shampoo aroma the woman in front of me (right beneath my nose) was radiating into the atmosphere. Maybe she had just pulled her coat out of moth-ball storage. It was hard to tell. It evoked a blend of rancid spices rubbed into an old dirty rug.

Much as I appreciate Lowertown, and as fun as it was to hear Iron & Wine music live again, I’m afraid the return to comforts of home with tunes playing through my speakers seems just as good, or even better.

Definitely a sign of aging.

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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

Many Blessings

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We are celebrating Christmas this morning at Wintervale with our kids and thoroughly absorbing the blessings of peacefulness, luxury, and love that we are lucky enough to enjoy here.

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To all who follow our escapades and my particular “take on things and experiences” here on Relative Something, it is our sincere wish that you discover blessings of peace and love wherever you are in the world today!

Nurture seeds of love from within your hearts and radiate blossoms of genuine lovingkindness to those around you and beyond!

Namaste!

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Written by johnwhays

December 21, 2019 at 9:46 am

Cookie Weekend

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It’s that time again! Cyndie’s two-day holiday cookie bake-stravaganza commenced yesterday and continues through today. Two years ago Cyndie’s baking intensity triggered a high-level alert from the Wintervale Diet Observation Administration (WDOA).

Cooler heads are prevailing this year due to Cyndie’s smart inclusion of a number of assistants who willingly engage in the intense labor of mass production and, most importantly, take home a plate of the goods to distribute the calories across a wider stretch of midsections. (pardon the pun.)

Don’t worry about me. I will survive this storm of excessive irresistible sweetness using a number of avoidance techniques that have worked for me in the past. My primary difficulty is that I choose not to entirely abstain. I like to sample, so I strive to do so carefully. Small or misshapen specimens are a target of my attention. Convincing willing assistants to break cookies in half so I can have just a taste works well for bigger delicacies.

It may not be fair, but I also bring a platter to work, forcing innocent coworkers to share in the challenge of enjoying the sweet bliss of Cyndie’s incredible effort without overdosing on the amped-up calories per morsel.

Misery loves comfort, you know. Sweet holiday treats and the love and laughter baked into them are a misery I am willing to share.

Luckily this level of sumptuous indulgence only happens one time a year, resulting from Cyndie’s always impressive, “Cookie Weekend!”

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Written by johnwhays

December 8, 2019 at 10:57 am

Celebrating MacPhail

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Last night we met Cyndie’s parents downtown in Minneapolis again, this time at MacPhail Center for Music, where our daughter, Elysa, is Manager of Student Services. It was MacPhail’s annual appreciation dinner for supporters, which included a couple of award presentations and showcased some incredible student musician performances.

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Board members even showed off their singing chops with an enthusiastic rendition of a holiday classic, to which I’ve already lost the memory of the title. Student music performances included a group of harpists, an electronically enhanced cello and flute duet, a pair of powerful young singers with opera voices, a demonstration of a typical group lesson for beginning young cellists, and a smooth couple of songs from their Dakota Jazz Combo ensemble.

I’m a little biased, but the highlight for me was visiting Elysa’s office while we were there and seeing that she has Beatles figures staged in her bookshelf. It was also a treat to witness a glimpse of her workplace in action and meet some of the people she works among.

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One additional surprise bonus was the unlikely chance sighting of a fellow Tour of Minnesota cyclist, John Toomey, who also happens to be a MacPhail student and often uses rehearsal space there. What are the odds we would cross paths in the short time we both happened to coincidentally be near the main entry last night? I would say, long.

We are proud of Elysa’s many years of contributing to the success of an organization that is improving the world via music, “transforming lives and strengthening communities through exceptional music learning experiences that inspire.”

It certainly inspired me, providing hope that good will triumph over evil from the transformations MacPhail is producing in so many lives.

Music makes the world go ’round, and MacPhail is making sure the world will keep spinning.

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Written by johnwhays

December 6, 2019 at 7:00 am

Not Christmas

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Not yet. Don’t fall for it. Everyone is not buying each other new cars to put a ribbon on for Christmas. If you happen to pay any attention to the barrage of commercials on broadcast television lately, that is an unmistakable impression advertisers and auto dealers are attempting to convey.

That, along with the perception of needing to stress over an increasingly oppressive societal pressure to outdo all of history by striving in October and November to come up with a better gift than ever before on an ever-earlier date for that one holiday near the end of December.

Somewhere I dream there are people starting a new trend of cultivating a mindset of purposely NOT seeking to buy more things, despite the onslaught of sales pitches bombarding us at every turn.

Maybe it could also include a focus on striving to full-heartedly love all others each and every day throughout the entire year.

Imagine us all exchanging a ubiquitous greeting of “Happy Between Holidays!”

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