Relative Something

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

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Just Riffing

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‘Twas the night before Halloween, when all thro’ the house… I’m pretty sure creatures were stirring, because I could hear them in the walls. I’m hoping we don’t get any neighbors stopping by for treats tomorrow night, because I haven’t hunted down any of Cyndie’s hidden candy stashes and she is now out-of-town.

I drove her to the airport in the early darkness this morning to catch a plane for a visit with Dunia and family in Guatemala. Last night, instead of packing for her trip, she was cleaning the house, vacuuming, making me food for the week, …you know, mentally preparing for being away.

I interrupted her vacuuming and mentioned that I could do that after she was gone, in case she might better spend her time getting bags ready for departure. I’m a little surprised she didn’t start cleaning out the junk drawer in the kitchen, too.

It wouldn’t be the first time.

Those of you who are chuckling over this probably have a sense of recognition for this strange trait some people have, that they start organizing or cleaning drawers or closets that rarely get attention until the waning hours before leaving on a trip. What is that about?

The chickens and I benefitted from this pattern yesterday, when the normal evening chores unexpectedly blossomed into a grand chicken pasty-butt cleaning operation. I sure didn’t see that coming, but it will be nice for me that I shouldn’t have to deal with the possible negative consequences of plugged up chicken bottoms while Cyndie is away.

The things we do for our animals.

Cleaning up poopy butts was a nice distraction from the daily news, except that it wasn’t that different from what I suffered hearing about on the drive home from work yesterday. Most of what fills the headlines is pretty sh**ty lately.

It makes me dream of what it might be like if all the news organizations were to magically agree to completely ignore the person whose name I prefer not uttering for maybe five business days in a row. Imagine that. Just fill the time talking about whatever subject would bug him the most, without ever once making reference to him. And the louder he would try to shout for attention by his tweeting fits, the more distance the journalists could put between themselves and him.

Just ignore him until he goes away. But keep an eye on the cash register. Something tells me all the bluster and blather is a smoke screen to distract us from the siphoning of the public coffers that is going on. Check his pockets before he leaves.

Hey, speaking of my drive home yesterday, I had a lucky break by the weird coincidence of leaving for home earlier than usual after having needed to make an unexpected visit a customer site. As I got close to the border with Wisconsin, traffic came to a sudden halt.

I had spotted an alert on the electronic message board over the freeway warning of a crash ahead, so I was prepared to bale out at the exit to Hudson just after crossing the St. Croix River. If I had left at my normal time, the backup would have left me on the Minnesota side of the bridge.

Timing is everything.

Okay, that’s it. Now I’m on my own (with a little animal care help from some local hands in the a.m. hours of my work days) for a couple weeks. Let’s see how long I can keep my happy face on. 🙂

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Additional Pics

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More images captured over the weekend, checking out Jay Cooke State Park, exploring the woods around Barb and Mike’s cabin, and watching rapid weather swings…

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Sometimes, if you venture deep enough into the trees, you just might stumble upon a stone fireplace in a clearing.

We did.

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(Full disclosure: It wasn’t exactly a surprise, as we knew what we were looking for, having visited it in the past, but it always seems to be farther away than anticipated.)

It was brilliant fun bushwhacking off trail, dodging branches, picking routes, and (re)discovering the long-abandoned remnants of a burned out cabin with an intriguing assortment of metal scraps lying about. The site was so old, the stone outlines of the structure were difficult to discern and trees had grown up through the frame of a bed.

Don’t let the picture fool you. The stone fireplace shown is not from the cabin remains we explored. It’s at the site of a former girl’s camp on Bluewater Lake.

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Written by johnwhays

October 23, 2018 at 6:00 am

Good Times

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When Cyndie and I got home from our respective days last Thursday, we were greeted by the sight of our hay-field being cut. When we got home yesterday from our weekend with Mike and Barb at their lake place, our hay-field was being raked into windrows.

Between those two events, we enjoyed great adventures in the northland woods.

On our drive up toward Grand Rapids, we paused for a picnic lunch and walk along the St. Louis River in Jay Cooke State Park. I had forgotten about the flooding 10″ rain that caused incredible damage in that region in 2012.

It was impressive to see how great the damage recovery looks now, this many years later.

Walking the rebuilt iconic swinging bridge over the river brought back memories of the exhilarating bridges Gary Larson and I walked in Nepal, minus the prayer flags and yak trains.

The trail along the St. Louis River offers great adventure of rough terrain navigation over roots and rocks, with gargantuan slanted rock formations providing fabulous views.

Jay Cooke State Park is a real treasure for the state of Minnesota.

In the evening on Friday, we sat out under the stars and enjoyed a roaring campfire for as long as tired eyes tolerated. Without having noticed that clouds had rolled in while we were out there, we called it a night just as rain moved in.

By morning, there was some snow on the ground, too. Cloud-burst blizzards breezed past around sunrise, interspersed with moments of bright blue sky. It was rather mountain-like conditions, also remarkably similar to weather Gary and I experienced in the Himalayas.

On Saturday, we did a lot of hiking in the woods. The tamarack trees were in glorious golden form. The rest of the fall colored leaves were past prime.

That scene is one I would gladly see made into a jigsaw puzzle.

The weekend was everything we hoped for, and more.

The animals at home were well cared for by Maddie and Lauren, two students at UW-River Falls who we’ve added to our pool of trained sitters.

Good times, indeed.

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Written by johnwhays

October 22, 2018 at 6:00 am

Poetically Anticipating

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Cyndie and I are going up north with Barb and Mike for the weekend, leaving this morning to drive up to their lake place near Grand Rapids, MN.

For reference, that is over half-way to Canada from our home. Does that make it sound cold? Well, honestly, it’s not expected to be that much colder than down in the Twin Cities area on Saturday, but one recent prediction put the high at 34°(F) in Grand Rapids.

After temps in the 60s yesterday around the region, a high so close to the freezing point tomorrow will feel plenty brisk, I’m sure. The effect will be augmented by some wind, too, just in case we might otherwise miss the fact it was colder outside.

I haven’t let cold weather interfere with my anticipation for our adventure. Based on previous experiences, this is how I’m envisioning our coming time together this weekend…

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it starts
with anticipation
of the days ahead
embraced greetings
in the moments before
departure
friends traveling together
the hours on the road
as precious as the destination
smells and sounds
of a northern forest
in the waning days
before winter saunters in
colorful leaves
blue sky
reflected on the lake
laughter dancing on the breeze
all hands on deck meals
card games
and a crackling fire
turn up the tunes
then clean up and pack
it’s time to go home
and the hours
on the road
are as precious
as the destination

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Written by johnwhays

October 19, 2018 at 6:00 am

Another Staycation

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We were able to getaway in town this weekend, leaving Jackie to take care of animals at home. Cyndie and I went off to spend a couple of nights at her parents’ house in Edina. Fred and Marie were headed for a cruise in Germany with friends of theirs, and we provided transportation to the airport yesterday.

Before that, we snuck out for a convertible cruise through our old Eden Prairie stomping grounds. The fabulous September sunshine provided ideal conditions. We stopped by a park to visit folks gathered for an EP fundraising event and enjoyed live music performed by Wondercure, some life-long friends.

After leaving the airport, we headed past an even older neighborhood of ours in south Minneapolis to hook up with more EP friends. We strolled with Paul and Beth along the Linden Hills streets for dinner near Lake Harriet.

Back at their house, we were treated with other-worldly dessert creations from a nearby bakery.

It all feels so cosmopolitan!

How did we come to deserve such richness of life, friends, and food.

It is not lost on me how much the remarkable warm September sunshine and blue skies contribute to making a day seem so positively regal.

Our experiences would have been much different had it been cool, gray, and wet.

I’m just sayin’.

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Written by johnwhays

September 9, 2018 at 9:35 am

Project Love

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There are some situations that provide me with enough incentive to complete a project in a fixed amount of time. It is apparent that I do better when given a firm deadline. The last couple of months have been a challenge for me to not write and share images of progress for a special carving I have done, because it was a secret.

The deadline has now passed and the secret is out. I carved a heart for George and Anneliese out of a chunk of the old ash tree we cut down last fall.

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Starting with a section where the trunk split into two branches, I trimmed the shape with a chain saw. The next shaping was done with an angle grinder.

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As I’m often prone to do, I wanted the end result to be a mix of unfinished and extremely polished surfaces. An added bonus was the incidental flat at the bottom, which allows the heart to appear to stand on the point seen from the front.

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One of the pleasures of this project was the number of opportunities when I was able to work out in the warm sunshine while refining the shape and honing the smoothness. I chose to apply a beeswax and orange oil wood polish and conditioner as a finish to bring out the grain.

Yesterday, we were finally able to present this literal heart-felt gift for the occasion of the wedding. What a joy!

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The culmination of a summer’s worth of creative design and loving contemplations.

A symbol of a love of many layers, great depth, multifaceted, both rough and polished, cracked, shaped, intricate, beautiful, balanced.

Simply, true love, in the symbol of the heart shape.

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Written by johnwhays

August 27, 2018 at 6:00 am

They Did!

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Under a few timely peeks of sunshine, in the presence of family and friends, George and Anneliese exchanged vows in the front yard of their home yesterday.

We were honored to be included in the blessed events of the day. It’s all about love, you know?

There was a lot of love saturating the celebration of the bride and groom’s love for each other.

Cyndie baked love into her contribution of umpteen varieties of cookies for the post-ceremony reception feast.

It’s a good thing she did, because the cookies themselves didn’t last. The love goes on forever.

There was plenty of love added to the universe yesterday near Princeton, MN.

Did you feel it?

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Written by johnwhays

August 26, 2018 at 8:45 am

Posted in Chronicle

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