Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘friends

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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Enchanted Evenings

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There is something extra special about simply spending time among friends for no other reason than the treasure of being together.

My good friend, Himalayan trekking partner, and fellow annual Tour of Minnesota bicycler, Gary Larson biannually hosts gatherings for dinner and music with long-time friends at his home. This past Saturday was our most recent celebration of food and tunes, with more than a few story-jokes that elicit as many groans as chuckles.

It is a priceless event to be a part of.

The food was divine. I’ve never met a stew served by Gary that I didn’t absolutely love. This time I was reduced to demanding a recipe. Not because I would be able to make any use of it, but Gary knew that and presented a printed copy for me to give Cyndie.

I thought it was the dijon mustard that provided the irresistible flavor I savored but Gary quickly corrected me that a second mustard ingredient is what I was tasting.

After dinner, a few of us bring out our guitars, banjos, and an occasional mandolin and delve into the depths of our memories to resurrect a variety of occasionally sing-along-able songs from years gone by. It truly does make for some precious enchanted evenings.

 🎵  look what Gary has created

he’s done it again

gathered all of us together

to feast among friends

then we revel with some music

and lush sing-alongs

well maybe not so lush

we can’t remember the songs  🎵

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Hail, hail, our friend Gary!

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Written by johnwhays

November 18, 2019 at 7:00 am