Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘friends

Many Hands

with 2 comments

From the moment we arranged the two boulders in the center location of what was to become the Rowcliffe Forest Garden Labyrinth, I envisioned a third stone resting upon them. The first challenge to fulfilling that vision was finding the right stone.

It needed to be the right shape and size, which I knew would mean the perfect stone would be too heavy for me to lift.

My quest for the specific stone was complicated by the fact that, without significant disruption, I couldn’t use trial and error to decide. Dealing with a such a heavy stone would mean the first one placed in that spot would likely be the only one placed in that spot.

Over the years, I experimented with light-weight objects to assist my eye for identifying what size and shape of rock I was looking for. Perfection proved to be hard to come by among the rock piles around our property, but last year I finally found one that had good potential.

It was buried in the woods, located conveniently close to the labyrinth. Using a small piece of woven fence panel and a strap, I created a sling to move it. Then I enlisted Cyndie –back when she still had two strong shoulders– to see if two people could do it.

It worked, enough to prove the concept, anyway. We stopped after getting it to the edge of the trail. There it sat for most of the year, because I wasn’t sure how to safely get it lifted high enough to position it atop the two boulders.

Yesterday, I realized we had the many hands of adventurous strong guys available to make the work light.

It’s a whole ‘nother story that we hosted a gathering at Wintervale with the families of Cyndie’s late aunt, Joan Brolin, to celebrate Christmas in September. That tale will likely get told in coming days.

I hadn’t thought about it in advance, but conversation somehow led to the topic of my wanting to figure out how to lift the heavy stone and place it. Cyndie’s brother, Steve, shared a video about a man who could move heavy objects by himself, using simple aids.

Cyndie’s cousin, Tom, thought we had enough hands and wanted to check it out. I grabbed a tape measure for one last confirmation that this stone would be the right size for what I was hoping to accomplish.

With little in the way of complications, five of us were able to move it, lift it high enough, roll it into place, and then rock it into a position that was stable.

It was an extremely satisfying triumphant moment for me.

Thank you to Cyndie’s brothers, Ben and Steve, and cousins Tom and Mike for helping fulfill my dream. And thank you to my daughter, Elysa, for capturing the event on my phone.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

September 17, 2017 at 8:44 am

The Celebration

leave a comment »

It is tricky to keep a surprise from someone who is the center of planning family events, but to my utter amazement, Cyndie’s family pulled off a gala celebration last night without Marie knowing about it. I gotta say, that is a load off a lot of people’s minds. Especially to those of us not prone to telling lies. For months.

Cyndie’s parents were supposedly going out to dinner with three other couples, but were going to stop by the McNamara Alumni Center at the University of Minnesota to see a new display honoring one of the friends. Cyndie and her brothers, and brother-in-law Carlos had decorated the place for a world-class event.

Spread across three rooms, there was space to stand and chat, sit and eat, or dance to live music. Even if Marie had an inkling of something afoot, she had no clue how many friends she was going to be honored by this night.

That’s the kind of thing that brings sweet emotional tears of joy.

After that –and a lot of greetings and brief program to recognize 80 years– comes the dancing.

Till the night is no longer young.

If I can be so bold as to speak for Marie, I’ll say, it was a very happy birthday.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

 

Written by johnwhays

September 16, 2017 at 8:21 am

Live Ball

leave a comment »

I was out late in the big city last night at a Twins game. All the lights and pageantry of Major League Baseball, but not much to cheer about for the home team.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

The best part of the whole night was the weather. Another glorious summer night, as comfortable as ever.

That benefit was followed closely by the fellowship of longtime friends, including my son, Julian, who was a last-minute addition to the crew. I was able to take advantage of a guest parking spot at his building and we walked the few blocks to the ballpark.

It was more than enough fun to make it worth the resulting lack of a full night’s sleep.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

August 16, 2017 at 6:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

Tagged with , , , ,

Multiple Gifts

with 9 comments

It may seem like backward logic, but we really view guests visiting Wintervale as a gift to us, in contrast to visitor’s thinking of it as a gift to them to be able to immerse themselves in the peaceful aura of our forest, fields, flowers and animals. We all win!

Preparing the grounds to accommodate a stroll, otherwise known as “mowing the grass,” is something that needs to be done anyway, but it is a little more fun to do when I know someone is coming soon. It is way too easy to let things slide if Cyndie and I are the only ones who are going to see it. So, expecting guests is a form of inspiration.

Of course, the other incentive is that there is so much to be done that I don’t dare neglect any one thing for too long or the whole operation would get away from us.

We have other gifts to be thankful for today. We are enjoying the gift of healing as Cyndie continues to make progress recovering function after her shoulder surgery, and I am enjoying the gift of her being able to once again handle the power trimmer.

She took it upon herself yesterday, while I was out on the lawn tractor, to start the engine and get the trimmer over her head and onto her good shoulder. I asked how she got it started.

“It was hard. I had to stand on it and pull the cord with my left hand.”

Once she has it running and in position, holding the handlebar and swaying the business end to and fro actually puts very little stress on her weak shoulder.

We will be picking up momentum now in a push to conquer the relentless growth of summer and get the property ready for a busy month of Wintervale workshops. With Dunia Morales graciously offering to come from Guatemala to help lead sessions with Cyndie, we are looking to recover some business from the shortened summer of shoulder repair.

What a gift!

We are lucky to have so many.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

July 29, 2017 at 9:51 am

Enough That

with 2 comments

That’ll be enough of that. I’ve changed the login password so the animals won’t be able to babble on here again for as long as I can avoid it. I’m grateful for their help and everything, but I think it is best delivered in small doses with long intervals between.

We had new help tending to the ranch while we were gone and they did a spectacular job of caring for animals and property. It makes our time away that much more enjoyable. Our fun was guilt-free.

Flying to Barb and Mike’s lake place worked out fabulously. In just a blink of an hour we were there. It was a wonderful weekend of palling around with treasured friends, eating out, shopping, playing games, boating, swimming, hiking, visiting, cooking/eating/cleaning, taking in a movie, sharing stories and laughter.

Happily, the weather cooperated in allowing us to fly home on schedule, without conflict.

It was a priceless weekend. Thanks, Mike and Barb!

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

July 24, 2017 at 6:00 am

All Games

with 2 comments

It’s all fun and games at the lake this weekend. The 4th of July celebration at Wildwood is a tradition of classic competitions between teams of bats (blue shirts) and mice (red shirts). Under a spectacular sunny summer sky yesterday, we waged battle of kicking shoes, eating watermelon, tossing water balloons, a sponge brigade, a scavenger hunt, and moving a greased watermelon across a goal line in the lake.

It almost always comes out a tie, but both teams tend to claim victory over the other. I guess that is part of the tradition, too.

There’s a rendition of the National Anthem around the flagpole and a parade up the driveway past all the homes and back again.

The grand finale is a world-class dinner in the lodge after some spectacular appetizers on the lawn out front.

It doesn’t feel like the American political system is all that great lately, but the energy of people celebrating our independence was as great as ever.

Cyndie and I retired early to keep Delilah company in the loft bedroom under the soothing white noise of a loud fan while the banging and popping of small-time fireworks rattled the night.

It feels like a summer holiday.

Saturday evening the immediate family held a rousing tutorial of the game Tripoly with two of Cyndie’s nephews who, to our surprise, somehow made it to their late teens without ever playing the game. It was a stellar first-time exposure as the game involved some major drama in the last two hands.

Two different rare hands were dealt in the final two rounds, but neither player was able to play them out and collect the reward, because another player used up their cards first and ended the rounds.

We dealt a couple of poker hands to divide up the unclaimed chips and Steve’s son, Eric, came out on top. To my great relief, the chips were issued at no cost, so my pocket book was spared the damages that I would have otherwise suffered.

It’s all fun and games, until someone gets hurt.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

July 3, 2017 at 6:00 am

Meeting Judy

leave a comment »

Shortly after the first time I signed up to do this epic adventure of biking and camping for a week, I learned that a cherished coworker’s sister always did the Klobuchar ride. I’d never met any of my coworker’s family, but if they were anything like Bob, I couldn’t wait to meet them.

He was more excited than me about the potential connection, and spent a fair amount of energy drilling me on details of her name so that I would remember who I needed to seek out.

Of course, her name. Then, her husband’s name. Their last name, because it was her married name and different than his. He told me I could remember the last name because it was like a Minnesota Twins ball player’s name, only with an ‘S.’

He was seriously excited over the prospect of my meeting his sister on this trip. It was infectious enough that I became just as excited over the possibility.

However, there were a lot of other details I needed to think about. I had never done this kind of thing before. I was traveling with a teen neighbor whom I didn’t really know more than passing from his role as a part-time sitter for our kids. I was also perseverating over having the right gear and packing the right clothes, not to mention where to put everything.

Honestly, Judy’s name was not on my mind as Brian and I made our final visit to the car that first Saturday morning, prior to departing with our bikes. It’s a critical moment of the trip, because it’s the last time you will be anywhere near your vehicle for the rest of the week.

Take what you need, leave the rest. Ideally, stepping away fully prepared for what lies ahead.

As we walked our bikes between parked cars toward the swelling collection of other camping cyclists –all strangers, who would soon become friends– we came upon a couple going through their similar critical last moments with their vehicle.

In a flash of inspiration, upon noticing the man was using a 12V compressor to top off the air in his bike tires, I overcame my normal reticence to bother a stranger. I figured, we didn’t know anyone on this trip, so what better time to break the ice and get over the hump than to ask if we could use his electric pump for our tires, too.

Before I got to the end of my request, I saw that he was actually winding up the power cord to put it away. He was done using it. My brain quickly chastised me with evidence that my bad timing was the very reason not to bother someone you don’t know, blah, blah, blah.

I quickly apologized for inconveniencing him, but he just as quickly talked over my hesitancy and insisted it was no trouble. The awkward start had stumbled all over the more traditional polite practice of introducing oneself, so as we crouched over bike wheels and the buzzing pump, I thought to identify myself.

He responded, “I’m Ed Beckers.”

My eyes got big. I think he wondered what he’d said. My eyes got really big.

Knowing I had the upper hand, I played it for all it was worth. What were the odds?

“THE Ed Beckers!?” with increasing animated excitement.

Confused stare.

“Ed and Judy Beckers!!?”

A woman’s face peers around the car door at this maniacal stranger exclaiming her name.

My coworker’s sister and husband were the very first people we met.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

June 18, 2017 at 6:00 am